Friday, March 17, 2017

A Family that NCAA Brackets Together, Stays Together*

*OK. So it doesn't roll off the tongue. But I'm hoping it's still true. 

With two teenage boys (one of them off to university in 18 months), we often talk about Life Skills. 
• Let me show you how to work the washing machine. It's a life skill. 
• Let me show you how to pump gas. It's a life skill.
• Let me show you how to roast a chicken. It's a life skill. 
• Let me show you how to fill out a NCAA bracket. It's a life skill. 

Perhaps the last one is a stretch, but maybe it's not if the boys ever live in America, where March Madness is a religion all its own. Regardless, we spent Monday night instructing them on the fine art of filling out an NCAA Men's Basketball Championship bracket. 

As a proud graduate of current national champions Villanova University, this is not a life skill I take lightly. So I did my best to explain how to do it, without letting them get bogged down in too much detail (RPI and strength of schedule, I'm looking at you). I also noted the other schools in which we had a vested interest: Northwestern (where we went to graduate school), University of Virginia (nephew is a current student, brother-in-law an alum), and University of Dayton (my brother is an alum).

To make things interesting, we all got a bracket to fill out. And when I say ALL, I mean all of us, including Buddy the Dog. If you're wondering, Buddy picked this way: all vested interest schools got a bye in the first round. After that, a coin was flipped to determine the winner. This created some unusual picks, such as Troy beating Duke in the first round (one can only hope) and North Dakota in the final four. But Buddy also has Villanova winning it all-- it won all the necessary coin tosses-- so I can abide by that decision. 

The rest of the family also had Villanova winning it all. I don't know if they did this because they believe the Wildcats can repeat as National Champions, or if they feared my wrath if they picked another team. Doesn't matter. I think it's a winning strategy. 

Watch this space to see how March Madness ends up in our house-- either in tears or in ecstasy. There is no middle ground, as far as I'm concerned.


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Happy International Women's Day: The Women's March London

Happy International Women's Day! 

It's been more than six weeks since I marched in the Women's March London. I thought today would be the perfect opportunity to revisit that monumental day. 

To kick things off, here's my favourite poster of the march. Believe me, it was hard to pick a favourite. The Brits are known for their wit for a reason. See?

(So am I, sister, so am I.)

I still smile every time I think of the march. It cheered me to no end to know that there were other people out there who felt like I did about the current state of the world: frustrated, angry and disbelieving. Or, in the sage words of the woman above, "Quite Cross."

When I set out that morning, I expected a decent gathering as they were expecting a crowd of 25,000. But as soon as I got on the train at Greenwich and saw how many other people were heading to the march, I thought it would be slightly more than that. When I couldn't find my friend at Bank because of all the people there, I revised higher. When they told us on the tube that Bond Street station was closed due to the high volume of people attending the march, I revised even higher. When the wave of people got off Oxford Street with us and we lost half of our group, it was then that I concluded it was going to be a special day. And it was.

We waited quite a long time in front of Claridge's Hotel for the crowd to move. (Hey, there are worse places to be stuck.) So here's something you don't see every day: a pair of breasts in front of the hotel, also waiting patiently for the march to start.

Here's a Feminist puppy. Every rally should have one.

Finally, here's an accidental selfie taken by my camera when I was putting it away at the end of the march in Trafalgar Square. I'm wearing the Pussy Hat that my friend got for me. She couldn't come to the march, but she wanted to be there in spirit. I'm also wearing the Amnesty International #StandTogether sticker that I got at Oxford Street when a page of stickers got passed from person to person while we waited to exit the station.

So today, on International Women's Day, I just want to say this:

Monday, February 13, 2017

2017: Week 6

Week Six:
That time when we almost needed to be rescued by the RNLI because we got stranded in the mud flats of Thornham while out on a walk on our first day of the half-term holiday. As it happens, no emergency crews needed to be called, but there were definitely moments when I thought we might need to do that. As I told the rest of the family, "These are the experiences which become oft-told family tales in the future. We'll be able to laugh about it eventually."

Taken in Thornham, Norfolk, on 12 February 2017.

Monday, February 06, 2017

2017: Week 5

For Christmas, my lovely friend Angela gave me some bulbs in a pot with a cosy knitted by her. This week, just when I was beginning to despair about the world (Trump, Brexit, you name it), one of the bulbs emerged. 

Taken in our kitchen in Greenwich, London, on 5 February 2017.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

2017: Week 4

In Week Four, the fog had rolled into Greenwich Park. Here, Buddy is taking a rest on the cricket pitch. 

Taken in Greenwich Park on 25 January 2017 on our morning walk. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

2017: Week 3

Week Three: 
Brought us the Women's March in London, where I was lucky enough to (a) be given a Pussy Hat by a friend who wanted to be there in spirit; (b) I marched with a great group of women; and (c) I felt some hope, given that there were thousands of other women who felt like I did. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

2017: Week 2

Week Two: We were lucky enough to be invited for a free preview at the new Shake Shack in Canary Wharf. Yum. Burgers all around!

Taken on 11 January 2017 at Shake Shack, Canary Wharf.

Monday, January 09, 2017

2017: Week 1

After a full hiatus in 2016 and a partial hiatus in 2015, I'm *trying* to resume my 52 weeks (a photo a week) project for 2017. Here's Andrew after a hard day at Sixth Form, fast asleep while still clutching his phone.

Taken on 5 January 2017.