Monday, July 30, 2007

End of Book Blues

I'm an avid reader (thanks mum) and now & again I read a book that stays with me for ages after. The last one I felt like that about was The Kite Runner. The last 2 books since then have been okay.

I just finished "Nowhere Else on Earth" by Josephine Humphreys and I LOVED it so now I feel a bit lost. I knew it was historical fiction so I thought the characters were made-up. I went on Google tonight and turns out they're not!

Henry Berry Lowrie (top left) and his wife Rhoda Strong were real-life people from the Lumbee Tribe that lived in North Carolina during the Civil War. It's a fascinating story of hardship, love, murder & outlaws. I'm going to have to read a lot more about them. There's also an outdoor drama about them called Strike at the Wind that I'd love to see if we ever get to NC.

My next book is "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by the same author as The Kite Runner.

Running for the Bus

Craig went white-water rafting on the New River in West Virginia this weekend. It's an annual event that he goes to with friends from work & some other mates. We had our friend Jon staying with us so I wasn't in the house on my own and Gina stayed over too.

Cowboy Jack! Saturday I took Jack to Rod's Western Store as there was a fete on, with horses and music and free cowboy food (beans & hotdogs!).

Jack LOVED the pony rides and had two. Here he is on Buttercup. He kept leaning over and patting the horse's neck, like a real cowboy!

Saturday night we went to the Villa:Crew game. Villa won 3-1 so my friend Jon was happy. He gave me a new team shirt as you can see. Jack got to "high-five" the Crew Cat and did okay until about 9m but then we had to bring him home to bed before he lost it.

Gina & Jack. She'll be a wondeful mum one day.

Jack is now like a whirling-dermish. Toddling, crawling, climbing, running, doing everthing he can to get up to mischief. I took a short video of him this weekend "running for the bus" and saying his favourite thing right now - "bye bye".

Friday, July 27, 2007

Visitor from England

Yesterday one of my ex-students from England arrived to stay with us for the weekend. Jon is the Head Groundsman at Aston Villa Football Club
Villa are in town to play Columbus Crew tomorrow night so we rallied to get Jon over with the team. The owner of Villa is Randy Lerner, who also owns the Cleveland Browns, so we took Jon there today to meet the head groundsman. It was the Browns first day of official training and Villa also had a practice at the training ground.

The motley crew at the Browns training ground in Berea.

The motley crew at the Browns Stadium. There was a major flood in there last week so the locker rooms were being gutted. They also had a new field installed last night & the grounds crew didn't finish sodding until 4.30am this morning.

So, we've got a busy weekend lined up, including the Villa:Crew game and lots of socialising, although last night we socialised just a bit too much and I've been worse for wear all day.

A couple of things I found out about Jon that are really great:

  • He was the last person to score a goal in Wembley Stadium before it was torn down. Really!
  • He was once kicked up the bum by Gazza (famous crazy soccer player from England)

I'm Going to be a Great Auntie!

I got a letter today off my niece & Godaughter, Gemma. She's expecting a baby January 1st, 2008 and so sent me a picture from her scan.

It doesn't seem possible that she's going to be a mum. I remember the night she was born in 1989. I was at college and the warden came knocking on my door to say that she'd arrived. I went to the hospital to see her and I was elated when my sister asked me to be her God Mother. She's turned into a beautiful and lovely natured young woman and I miss her very much. I'm so sad I missed her 18th birthday this April!

Here is the little scamp. I'm already looking at baby stuff to buy and now I understand why so many people had a burning desire to buy us stuff for Jack. It's compulsive - it's about buying things for BABIES!

I am looking forward to being a Great Aunt. My sister Jen is 42 and will be a nana! I've already given her some stick about that.

Gemma might find out at the end of August if it's a George or a Mildred. So far she likes the name Lexie for a girl.

I'll keep everyone posted on her progress.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Little Face of Love

Jack has started to "talk" this last week. Not just one word at a time but whole sentences of jibber-jabbering and he looks at me like I should know what he's saying.

Tonight I took some video of him to show you (our family & friends) but my favourite bit ended up being something completely different. Watch his face when he sees his dad come in. It makes my heart melt...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weekend doing Diddly-Squat

This weekend was weird. We had all these plans to get rid of the big pile of tree branches sat in the garden, clean out the garage and basement and several other tedious tasks. Turns out we did NOTHING all weekend.

Well, we did help Gabriella set up and put on a party for her husband Gary's 40th on Saturday. She turned her garden into an "English Fete", complete with coconut shy, English food (cornish parties, trifle, scones with Devon cream & jam,lots of cheeses), bunting and straw bales to sit on. We had a great time but had to skip out of there early for Jack's nap. Picture above: Gary & Gabriella, with their son, Colm.

Craig and Jack with a friend, Ed

We did some gardening but not much. I think the garden is starting to look good too. It's been a big job just to keep everything from dying as we are currently in a moderate drought and about 6.5 inches below normal rain for the year. A direct contrast to England with all the terrible floods. I saw Tewksbury on the BBC today and it looked like New Orleans all over again!

This morning we rang Craig's mum to wish her happy birthday then just kind of hung out. I'm reading a FABULOUS book "Nowhere on Earth" by Josephine Humphreys. It's historical fiction, set in N.C in 1864 and the heroine is one of those characters that you immediately fall in love with so I'm already dreading finishing the book because I'll miss her.

Last but not least, our Jack playing with a wooden puzzle Auntie Jenny got him. He dumps out the pieces and I put them back together to his great delight. Just this weeks he's started doing "bye bye" and talks a lot now. He's walking more but still plops down when it gets too much for him. The marks on his face are from a fall he had last Monday at day care. Now that he's toddling I'm one step behind him everywhere he goes!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Jack Takes his First Steps

Our Jack is officially a toddler!

He has been getting more and more confidence and I've been holding my breath every time he looks like he's going to take those first steps.

This weekend he started standing up on his own and then today he just did it! He can take quite a few steps now without falling down. Please humor me as I immediately got my camera and captured the moment on video.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cats? Boooooooo

Tonight we were getting together a birthday present for Dot (Craig's mum) and as an added bonus I downloaded & bought the "Les Miserables" CD because she loved the show when we watched it in London in 2005. She particularly loved the song "On my own" - I did too. I tried to save the movie from YouTube but have no idea how ( Brian, help?)

Anyway, that got me thinking. We all go and watch shows and it's the kind of thing we don't really share. We've only seen a handful and these are our favourites:

Miss Saigon: The story: American GI Chris in Vietnam meets prostitute Kim, falls in love, marries, he gets taken back to USA. She struggles in war time, has his child, her pimp needs her for his "American Dream" so as soon as he knows she has an American child he helps her but then Chris comes back. I haven't spoilt the plot - there's much much more. This video captures the story wonderfully.

Les Miserables
We saw this on stage in London 2005 - the same day those 4 people tried to blow up the trains & subways. Story: Jean Valjean gets imprisoned unfairly, then does something bad, but then makes it right by looking after Fantine until she dies. He then takes her daughter Cosette and makes a new life for him and her. But the police chief is always one step behind. Anyway, as I said before this is Dot's & my favourite song, sung by Fantine.

Story: Best friends squatting, no money, want to make the world better. Turns out they have AIDS, are addicted to drugs an/or are unloved - but still conquer! Very wonderful story and very sad. You won't believe this but Craig knows all the words to this one too!

The title to this blog refers to the fact that Craig and I once watched "Cats" which we both thought was AWFUL.
We would love to see: Spamalot & The Color Purple next...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Homesick Weekend - so kept busy

Dot & Harry left on Friday. It was very sad at the airport, as it always is when saying goodbye to family & friends from England. We all cried and then to make it worse, all the way back to the car Jack kept turning around looking for them and even said "nan" a couple of times. Friday night we all felt sad and very homesick. It never gets any better.

Saturday we called Dot & Harry to make sure they got home okay, which they did, so we decided to keep busy and try to enjoy the weekend. We got our Jack's pool out that Eric & Dave got him for his birthday. He loves it and played for a while in the garden. Char came over at night and Craig cooked us a lovely Indian meal - poppadoms & mango chutney for the appetiser then chicken tikka masala on dirty rice - lovely!

Today we went to Columbus Zoo. It was stinking hot so we kept inside as much as possible. Jack loved the elephants and the aquariums. He stood for ages looking at the fish. Craig wondered if we should set up an aquarium again but 2 cats, a dog and a toddler is quite enough to cope with right now! I enjoyed seeing "Fluffy" - the 24 foot python and the tigers. Craig loves all the aquarium stuff and the manatees. When the heat got too much we came home.

So it's back to work & reality tomorrow. No more English visitors this year but my mum and Auntie Edna are planning a trip next year sometime. I just wish we didn't live so far away.

Oh, I almost forgot - Jack had his 12 month Doc visit last week. Had 3 injections (ouch) but was a little rockstar and hardly cried. Here's his statistics:

  • Weight: 23 lbs 6 oz (55th percentile)
  • Height: 31 inches (85th percentile)

So the trend continues to be "tall & slim". Oh I wish I could say the same about me....

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th!

Happy Independence Day! It might seem a tad odd to people that Craig and I celebrate this holiday as Brits don't tend to celebrate their defeats but the USA has been very good to us and our lad is both American & British at this point.
We had a lovely day - just chilling out and did a bit of shopping as Jack got some gift cards for his birthday. Look what he wore today...

First time in his forward facing seat and he LOVED it. Know why? Craig put a Sesame Street DVD in his GPS/DVD thingy at the front and Jack just danced and clapped in his seat. Marvelous!

As I'm writing this I can hear the Clintonville fireworks going off but we didn't go. Last night we watched Columbus's Red White & Boom display. I have to post this YouTube video of it because it was very impressive. Stick around for the "Grand Finale" - which is nothing short of obnoxious!

Our Lad Turns One!

July 3rd our little boy turned one. How the last year has flown! I read recently that with a child each day is long but the years go fast and that's so true.
We celebrated by having a garden party with our close friends. Here's a few pictures from the big event...

All dressed up for the party and getting a hug from his mummy

First to arrive is Auntie Gina with lots of toys and ready to play

Todd & Kelli brought their pool over. Their daughter Hannah and Jack just loved it

Cooking up trouble in his kitchen with Katy

Eating his birthday cake - seconds before the big meltdown. Oh, and looks who's in the wings - just yearning to lick Jack's fingers.....

He got lots of toys, so many that I had to go to the recycle place today with all the cardboard boxes! Here he is on his new bike that he got from Nana Lloyd and Grandad Tom.

He had a fabulous day, really enjoyed playing with his friends and later we took him to watch the fireworks. I'm happy he's reached this milestone but also sad as it's going by too quick.

Two new things for him now - got to switch him to cow's milk and his car seat can now face forward. I think he's days away from walking but we'll wait and see.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Great Weekend at Geneva on the Lake

We just got back from Geneva on the Lake - a little town on Lake Erie. It's a party town - calls itself "Vegas on the Lake" and full of Harley riders and guys with old American cars cruise up and down the strip. Had a fun time and would probably go again. We especially liked Eddie's Grill, a 1950's American Diner, and the people - VERY laid back and there for a good time.
Anyway, he's some pix of our fun weekend:

Our "cabins" - okay, more like garden sheds but at least we had no raccoons! Did have screened porches too - critical for those night time socials when you want to sit out and drink wine without being eaten by mozzies!

The "strip" was right on Lake Erie and we saw some wonderful sunsets. Geneva on the Lake is a BIG Harley town - so if you like bikes you'd like it. You can see that they park up every day at Eddie's. There's also lots of old American cars like the Camero SS and Mustang.

Eddie's Grill was a great haunt of ours. Also, the Sunshine Breakfast Cafe, where the staff are the entertainment - very funny.

Harry with his foot long hotdog at Eddie's.

Our trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was great. To be inducted into the RRHF you have to be nominated 25 years after the first record, so there' still people, like Madonna, that aren't in it. It was good but there's lots I would change - for starters, they should get a baby changing station in every restroom because I kept having to go back to the ground floor! As far as the music goes - the first floor was an educational overload and then the next 5 floors were not as good. My favourite bits were: John Lennon's school report cards, Freddie Mercury's clothes (he was TINY), and touching Johnny Cash's tour bus (see below).

Johnny Cash's tour bus - used from 1979-2003. Made in Columbus (Grove City) Ohio. He called it his second home and always used it as his transport. After June died he sold it - 2 months before he died. It isn't open to the public yet but I got to see it.

Lake Erie - Jack's first swim. Both Craig and I got in with him - up to our necks, Brrrrr. He was cold at first but then okay. He loved it.
Playing on the beach and built his first sandcastle with his dad

these kiddie rides. His particular favourite was "Pink Panther" as you can see below when he dances with excitement!

A vacation story would not be complete without it. What a pair of handsome devils...

3 Month Catch-up

I can't believe I haven't posted for over 2 months! So much to say.