Monday, 30 April 2012

Sponsored Slim Finale

Yesterday was the end of our 3 month long sponsored slim.

We started the morning off at Hein Gericke to greet the bikers and to tell them about the charity and why we've been doing what we've been doing. There was a bucket out to collect donations from them before they set off (this is how their ride-outs work). I was totally expecting to hear change hit the bucket but there was none. None at all. For those who don't know, the smallest note (or bill) we have in the UK is the £5 note. Unfortunately, it was cold and windy out and it was threatening to rain (and did about 100 miles into their ride) so the turnout was quite low. But their little group donated £90 to our charity.

I posted this picture for them on Facebook and thanked them for the £90 and one of the guys commented saying that he had a hard time not tearing up in the shop because he just lost a baby only a few weeks ago around 26 weeks gestation. Another guy left a comment and said that he would make it up to £100 for us and dropped off £10 in the shop for us.

This is Ash and Kirsti, the parents of the little boy that this has all been in memory of. They showed up to see the bikers off. It was quite an emotional moment for everyone. The newspaper was there to take photos and write up another article. I think it may be in tomorrow's paper.

The weigh-in was at 2pm. I officially lost 20.5 pounds during the duration of the slim. There are still about 8 people left to weigh-in but with the people who were there yesterday we lost a collective 15st 9lbs. That's 219 pounds! And the donations on our Just Giving page started going through the roof yesterday! Our current total is £1283.75. Our goal was £1000 so everyone is very pleased. And that's not even counting the offline donations that have yet to come in.

We've also got our children's party and evening party this Saturday. That should be a good money-maker as well. Saturday is going to be a long day with setting up and hosting two separate parties, but it should also be a lot of fun. I'd better try on my dress to make sure I haven't slimmed right out of it!

Saturday, 28 April 2012


I'm having an amazing day.

I just feel good today and I'm feeling incredibly grateful for all of the good things in my life.

This morning after breakfast we drove through to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to the MetroCentre and took Izzy to Build-A-Bear Workshop. I've been wanting to take him for ages but thought he might still be too young for it. Well, I got tired of waiting.

I think he enjoyed it but as I thought, he was still a bit young to really get into it. There was a birthday party happening while we were there and he was quite distracted by it. I picked out a dog for him as he didn't seem to want to choose something. At the stuffing station he was a bit afraid of the loud sound so he didn't want to help do it. But he did pick out a heart and give it a little kiss. It was really cute.

And at the end of it all he gave his new puppy a cuddle. I think I'll take him again in about a year when he'll be a lot more into it.

Tomorrow is the end of my sponsored slim and I'm really excited to see everyone and get weighed in. We're kicking off the day at Hein Gericke though to see the bikers off on their ride. I'm taking Izzy. I know he'll love seeing all of the motorcycles. They're expecting about 80 riders. I've been so amazed at how many people have been so happy to help us raise funds. Carlisle really does have a good community and I'll miss it when we move away.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Newspaper Article

On Wednesday I got asked to go down to the Hein Gericke shop with another one of the sponsored slimmers to meet up with a reporter from the newspaper. We got to do a little photoshoot and it was a lot of fun. Here is the article published by the Cumberland News:

Bikers and slimmers joining forces in memory of Carlisle baby

Bikers will ride out in memory of Carlisle baby Alfie-Joe Pattinson on the anniversary of his death this weekend.
Mum Kirsti Harrison has been working to raise awareness of stillbirth since he was born sleeping a year ago.

Friends have also been taking part in a sponsored slim for stillbirth charity Sands and will mark the anniversary with their final weigh-in.

Sunday’s ride out has been organised by staff at the Hein Gericke motorbike accessory store in St Nicholas Street, off London Road.

It will see a group of bikers set out from the store at 11am and ride the 180-mile route to Kielder in Northumberland. They will collect money for stillbirth charity Sands along the way.
Tony Rees, who is organising the event, said there is a group of local bikers who take part in a charity ride out every month. They were approached by Kirsti’s friend Nic Grierson, who has been co-ordinating the fundraising campaign.

“She came in asking for a donation for a raffle prize. We said we can do better than that – we’ll do a ride out,” he said.

“We’ve previously supported the air ambulance, breast cancer charities and the Eden Valley Hospice. This latest cause is one that affects a lot of people but isn’t really talked about.”

The ride out will be followed by the sponsored slim weigh-in at Harraby Community Centre from 2pm.

The day will then culminate in a celebratory Mokython.

Again it has been organised to coincide with the anniversary of Alfie-Joe’s death. More than 30 people signed up back in January to take part in a sponsored slim, each setting themselves a target to reach over a three-month period. Many of them knew Kirsti from Little Luvs Nursery in Petteril Bank, where she works.

Nic – one of the slimmers – said they have all raised a few hundred pounds to date and hope to further boost their total with a charity auction in Harraby on May 5.
She said it’s only since starting the fundraising that she’s realised how many people have been affected by stillbirth in Carlisle alone.

“Going around the shops and talking to people it’s quite unbelievable how many have been touched by it. It’s something people don’t seem to be able to talk about but Kirsti wants to change that.

“She’s still a mum, Alfie-Joe was her son and she wants people to talk about him,” she said.

“It’s also amazing how much this sponsored slim has really brought everyone together. I can honestly say we’ve all become really good friends.

“People have been so generous. I’m really proud to live in Carlisle. We have so many kind words and donations.”

The charity auction takes place at the Railway Club in Harraby on Saturday, May 5. Prizes to date include an afternoon recording a single to be released on iTunes, signed Carlisle United and Sale Sharks shirts.

Tickets (£5) are available from Picture U in London Road. Bids can be placed via the Alfie-Joe’s Charity Auction Evening Facebook page. Support the slimmers at

Five Question Friday {4}

1. Do you make your kids finish all the food on their plates? 

No, and I don't think this is something I will ever do. I've got enough issues with food myself and I'm trying to work on that. I will not force my child to finish all of his food if he says he's finished. Why would I make him over-eat?  Of course, there are times when he wants dessert for lunch or dinner and in those cases I tell him he has to eat his other food first.

2. Do you give an allowance? 

We work on a budget in this house. Isaac gets £30 a week and that's to spend on clothes and toys and whatever else he may need. Diapers and wipes come out of the food budget. Of course, he's two so he isn't aware of this and we haven't thought yet about whether or not he will get an allowance handed to him when he's older.

3. Do you actually park your car in the garage? 

We don't have a garage, but knowing us, if we did we probably wouldn't use it as it would be full of "stuff."

4. What is one food you will NEVER cook? 

There are a lot of things I'd never cook. I am not keen on meat and only started cooking chicken a few years ago. I am completely freaked out by handling raw meat. It just grosses me out. 

5. Do you have anything exciting planned for the summer? 

The only thing we have planned for this summer is our big move to Glasgow. No holidays this year. I'm sure we'll do lots of day trips out but we're not going abroad or anything. We're currently saving money to pay for movers to get us to Glasgow.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Buzz Lightyear

Izzy's latest obsession.

Monday, 23 April 2012

3-Month Sponsored Slim

I've been doing a sponsored slim since the end of January and I'm finally in my final week. Sunday is our weigh-in and so far I've lost just over a stone during the slim and a whopping 27 pounds since the 7th of January!

I've really enjoyed participating in the slim. We've been in the paper a few times and in a national magazine as well. The newspaper will be there for the final weigh-in and also doing a write-up about a big charity auction we're throwing in two weeks to celebrate the end of it and raise a lot of extra money. We're throwing a childrens party earlier that same day for 50 children and I'm so excited to take Izzy to it. It's going to be so much fun.

I've also met a lot of new people and made new friends through it. I've really enjoyed the social aspect. It's such a shame that I'll be moving to Glasgow soon.

And, of course, I've helped raise money for a great cause. Our charity is called Stillborn & Neonatal Death Charity (SANDS). They spend money on research and supporting parents who've lost a child before it's born or during birth. We've been doing it all in memory of a little boy who was stillborn. His mother is an amazing girl. 

Overall, it's been a great experience and I would absolutely do this kind of thing again. But I'm looking forward to the end!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Five Question Friday {3}

1. Groceries are high right now what is easiest way you have found to cut back?
I haven't noticed that they're any different, so perhaps this is just an American thing, but I don't know. We budget and allow ourselves £150 a week for groceries which is probably a lot but we eat strangely. My husband is doing Weight Watchers and prefers to buy WW food. And I'm doing Slimming World so I prefer certain things. Isaac will often eat what I'm having, but of course there are a lot of things that we buy just for him. So we kind of buy food for three separate people, rather than for a family.

2. What are the top 3 things on your "bucket list"?
I don't have a bucket list. Should I? Let me think of three things... I really want to go to Iceland one day and see the Northern Lights. I want to get down to a healthy weight. I want to see my son grow up to be happy.

3. Would you rather give up AC or heat?
I'm going to say A/C which actually surprises me. But when I really think about it, I lived with out A/C here for 6 years and considering how few days it's actually needed during the year compared to the heating, well, it would be much easier to go without that than the heating.

4. What's your favorite cocktail?
I don't have a favorite. I don't drink other than maybe a glass of Kahlua or Bailey's at Christmas. I think Long Island Iced Teas are nice so I'll go with that but it's been like 8 years since I've had one. Never been a cocktail kind of girl.

5. What was your first job & how old were you?
I got my first job at 12 years old, working Sundays at the breakfast restaurant my mom managed. I was a bus girl. I really enjoyed it and I started waitressing at 16. I worked weekends and summers until I went away to college.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Life as an Emigrant

It's strange being an emigrant.

I mean, I'm just me and I don't really feel like that word fits me, but I am an emigrant.

I'm in town right now and this just happened:

Stranger: Are you Canadian?
Me: American.
Stranger: Oh, I figured you were but I didn't want to ask if you were American in case you were a Canadian and got offended.

Ha! And that wasn't offense? In all seriousness, I didn't actually get offended, but she was implying that anyone who wasn't American should be offended by being mistaken for one. One thing I learned quickly after moving to Britain is that I could not be sensitive regarding my country and the things people say about it. Because if I was sensitive about it I would walk around feeling hurt and offended a good majority of the time. It happened a lot when I first moved here. I don't think it's really that people have so many bad things to say about America but I think it was more that as a new emigrant I'd never felt so American in my life and that mostly came from just being surrounded by a country full of non-Americans. The slightest hint of negativity about my home country would have me feeling personally attacked and insulted.

When I first moved here Bush was in office and people talked to me about him a lot, asking if I voted for him, and just going off about the things he was doing. People used to complain to me about him all the time, even when I would explain that I was on their side, I didn't vote for the man, nor did I like him. Now that Obama is in office I don't get that from people anymore at all.

A lot of people have this impression of America that everyone is walking around with a gun and people are getting shot on nearly ever street corner. The only reason I've ever seen/held/shot a gun is because my dad had quite a few while I was growing up. It was normal in my house. I realize it's normal in a lot of households but it's certainly not something everyone in America grows up with. And, no, I've never seen anyone get shot. I've had people genuinely surprised by that fact.

Sometimes being an emigrant comes in handy. Being harrassed by people on the high street for your debit card details for 35923 different charities? "Sorry, I'm not from the UK. I'm only visiting." Still get confused/flustered every once in awhile by the 8 different coins Britain has? Oops...that 5p is not a dime! "Sorry, I'm still trying to learn the coins here."

These days I tend to forget that I'm not one of them. I've lived here for nearly 7 years now and it's home. I've adapted to the way of life, the food, the slang... Even if I spent the rest of my life here, I'd always feel American but the longer I'm here the more I'll probably feel British as well. Once I save up that £1,000 for my passport, I'll actually be able to call myself one of them.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter Sunday

This is from last year but I love it so much I just might make it my yearly Easter card!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

I used to believe

When I was a little girl...

I used to believe cats were the girls and dogs were the boys.

I used to believe thistle seeds were flying spiders.

I used to believe thunder was the sound of God bowling.

I used to believe if you swallowed gum it was stay in your tummy for 7 years.

I used to believe that when my dad took his coffee in the truck with him he was "drinking & driving."

I used to believe eating a watermelon seed would cause a watermelon to grow in your belly.

I used to believe the nuclear power plant near my house was a cloud making machine.

I used to believe if I was still in the tub when the water finished draining the devil could reach up and pull me down.

I used to believe my dolls and stuffed animals would watch me while I was sleeping so I would make my mom turn them all face down at bedtime.

I used to believe I could hypnotize anyone with a necklace and pendant while telling them they were getting very sleepy.

I used to believe there were two N's in the alphabet because of the song. I thought the "and" between Y and Z was an N.  Sing it..."W, X, Y, N, Z."

I used to believe playing with my belly button would cause it to come undone and i'd fly around the room deflating like a balloon.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Five Question Friday {2}

1. Would you prefer having people over for dinner or going to their house?

Both really. It's been ages since I've had people over and made a dinner. I mean, it's not even really possible at the moment as we don't have dining table! We have a dining room and had planned to get a nice dining room table but now that we'll be moving soon it's on hold because we don't know what kind of place we'll be getting in Glasgow but chances are, it's not going to have a dining table. I've ever done a lot of entertaining as an adult but I've really enjoyed the times that I have. It's nice going to other people's place too though as you can leave when you want and there's no cooking or cleaning up!

2. Favorite Bible verse and why?

I'm so not into the Bible, or organized religion for that matter. I did grow up going to Sunday school and church and I did go through a period during my university years where I turned to religion because I was in a very dark place and I think I just needed something to believe in. But all in all, it's not for me. I do think everyone has a right to their beliefs so I don't judge people for their religion, as long as they are not hurting others or trying to push it into me. That being said, I have read a great deal of the Bible but the only verse that comes to mind right now is "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." I think that is a good rule to live by.

3. What is the first concert you ever attended, and the most recent one?

My first concert was The New Kids on the Block. And it was AWESOME. Ha! I haven't been to a proper concert in years now so I'll say my most recent was Radio 1's Big Weekend last year. I got to see bands like The Vaccines, The Strokes, and The Script.

4. The year is 2025. What are you doing, and what have you done?

I'll have a teenage boy by then as the little one will be fifteen years old. It's hard to imagine but I know it's going to come faster than I'd like. Hopefully by that time I will have found something to do with myself that makes me happy. I'm seriously considering going back to university for a degree in photography so maybe I'll be making a living with that.

5. What's your favorite Easter treat?

My favorite Easter treat now is putting together a basket for my little one. I have so much fun doing it and then watching him go through it. It's the only reason I'm excited for Easter. Otherwise, it would just be another day for me.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

A Thought for Thursday {2}

Right now I'm supposed to be sitting in an office in the Portland, Oregon area working as a psychologist. Maybe married, maybe with one or two kids but the job is what I wanted most.

Instead, I ended up working in Human Resources in Silicon Valley. After a few years there I put my trust and faith in a man I only knew via the internet and phone, sold virtually everything I owned, and left everyone and everything I had ever known to move to England. For love. 

This is not the life I had planned.

This is not the life I'd ever even dreamed of.

But this life right here, this life that was waiting for me... it's amazing. 

I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful little boy that I love with ever fiber of my being. I'm a stay-at-home mom. Days are long and difficult but they're good. They're spent with two people I adore and two people who adore me.  They're spent making the kind of memories I wouldn't have had in that other life--that life I had planned. And on top of it, they're spent in a beautiful foreign country.

I have it good. And I'm lucky to be living this life that was waiting for me.

Elf House Chronicles

Monday, 2 April 2012

Motivational Marbles (Pinterest Challenge)

I just stumbled upon this great blog that does a Pinterest challenge on the 1st Monday of each month. It's just a chance for you to show off any Pinterest inspired projects you've made.

I just happened to do one this past month so I thought I would share even though it was something incredibly basic!

So I am on a weightloss journey. I joined Slimming World in January (for the second time) and so far I've lost 22 pounds. I stumlbed across these "motivational marbles" on Pinterest and thought it would be a great visual reminder and motivation for my journey.

The pin led me to Hot Mess Princess. I looked for jars to use for this for ages and just couldn't find anything that I liked. I finally settled for pint glasses. Wilkinsons was selling sets of four for 88p. That's cheap and I like cheap. A sheet of letter stickers for £1 at The Range and two bags of marbles for 50p each at Home Bargains.

 From the start of my journey I had a goal of 100 pounds to lose. So, in this picture there are 80 marbles on the left and 20 on the right. Last week I got to move two over though!