Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Going to Keep on Rambling

That's the end of the blogging for a month thingamajiggy (hurrah!) but I'll probably keep at it since it's Craig's birthday weekend and then Christmas. I do love to keep this thing going and I know of at least two people that read it on a daily basis (note to those people; please leave a comment. I do love getting comments)

While I was working on another little project this week I went back and looked at some of my old postings and actually made myself chuckle a bit. I was quite funny and interesting years ago, before I went mental with stress. I also looked much younger and slimmer too, darn it. At the time I felt old and fat but looking back at those times I look much better than I do now. Funny how that works isn't it.

Another reason to keep blogging is that several of my family members in England refuse to go on Facebook (you know who you are!) so this is one way for them to keep up with the boys and see what we're up to. It'll be my 1,000th post soon so will try and make it a good one.

Right now I'm off to bed. Tonight I went to a work dinner and got home too late but still had to stay up and watched my recorded XFactor. I know some people roll their eyes at that and make comments about how brain dead it is but I love it and I've crossed over the line of giving a crap what other people think. Age does that. So anyway, Josh Krajcik, Melanie Amaro and Chris Rene were great as usual. Rachel was good too. I'm hoping Marcus and Astro get booted tomorrow, but would also be ok if Drew did. You don't care do you? Sorry. Sleep deprivation.

Must get some rest so I can play with my boys tomorrow night after work: Bob the Builder and his Superhero sidekick.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm Losing the Battle of Wills

It's a good job I have a sunny disposition because today has been a beaatch as they say in urban talk. Why so bad you ask?:

1. I have a cold
2. It's rained for the last two days, non-stop
3. I went Christmas shopping this evening for 3 hours and bought virtually nothing
4. Danny had a #2 at pre-school so I had to go and change him again, then he had a melt-down at tidy-up time and his teachers looked a bit fed-up when I picked him up. Then he refused to eat dinner or sit at the table and then he weed on the floor while he was staring at the new fish tank. Lord give me the strength not to throttle him Homer-style. I did investigate sending him to a more relaxed pre-school but they are full. *Sigh*.

So anyway, I'm going to go back to a couple of shops tomorrow night and buy Christmas presents I nearly bought tonight and then wish I'd bought when I got home. Doh!

And it's supposed to stop raining because it's going to snow

And my cunning plan is to take so many zinc tablets that my cold is gone by morning

As for Danny, I don't know. I really felt like I couldn't cope tonight and I need to get my act together. He's two for goodness sake and shouldn't be winning the battle of wills! I have no doubt in my mind that he'll go on in life and be brilliant at whatever he does - but right now he's a little terror.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Got the Dreaded Lurgi

It's a quick post today as I have a stinking cold and I feel achey and horrible. As soon as I can, I am going back to bed. Jack also has a hacking cough but Craig and Danny are okay (touch wood). I'm hoping that copious amounts of zinc tablets and Theraflu will get me over it quick.
Because even my eyeballs are aching I have not wanted to wear contacts so have been wearing glasses today which is straaaange. I look like Olive off "On the Buses" (old English sitcom) and it's very disorientating. My line of sight is not used to having just little glass squares to look through so I feel a bit discombobulated.

Two little things from my boys today that have lifted my spirits. Danny was sat at the kitchen window telling me how much he loves "schools" as he pointed to the one next to our house but was mad at me when I kept repeating the word "school". It took a while to find out that he actually meant "squirrels". And Jack told me tonight that he tripped at school and one of his friends said 'You okay bro?" and it made his day. Even when I feel ill, these boys can cheer me up.

Right then, off to Bedfordshire.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My, What a Big Cactus!

It's Craig's birthday on Friday so we'll be celebrating as much as we can this week. Last night Jack told him that we were planning on making him a surprise hunting cake which is obviously no longer a surprise! I do have a few other things up my sleeve though.

This is one of his favourite pictures, taken on our vacation out west in 2000. We drove all through Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming and South Dakota. He left a little bit of his heart in Moab I think, which was an amazing place. We took David Grey's album "White Ladder" and every time I hear Babylon it reminds me of cruising through the magnificent red landscape of Utah, with my arm dangling outside of our gold Mustang. It was a wonderful holiday.

When we got to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming we heard wolves howling outside our cabin door and we got chased by real indians on Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation. We hiked through Arches National Park, Mesa Verde & Monument Valley. And we had a beer in the Shady Lady Saloon and brothel in Silverton, Colorado. We stayed at a log cabin at the bottom on Big Rock Candy Mountain and we camped under the stars at Devil's Tower (site from Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind). Good times.

It's the one holiday we can't wait to do again, when the boys are a bit older and not so much of a handful. I would like Jack and Danny to gaze out across the Grand Canyon and take in it's grandeur. Right now Jack would want to visit the gift shop and Danny would be trying his best to base jump from it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Missing my Sister & Oobleck

After we FINALLY got the lads to bed tonight we sat back and looked through 300 channels and still didn't see a decent film to watch, so we watched Tosh.O for the whole night. Good lord that man is funny. I would highly recommend him to anyone with sense of humour.

It's been a good day. I rang my sister Jenny this morning and wished her a happy 46th birthday and I got to speak to all my nieces and my great nephew AJ. He had the wonderful northern England accent that I miss and wish my boys had. I love that he chatted with Jack and can't wait for them all to get together next year. I miss my family A LOT. I know I'm going home in 12 months time but times like this make me very homesick and it can't come soon enough. So Happy Birthday Jenny - I wish I could spend it with you.

What else? Well after Jack read "Bartholomew and the oobleck" we made oobleck today with him, which was great. I think Craig and I were more obsessed with it than the kids. It's a mix of corn starch (corn flour or custard powder in England), water and food colour (optional) and it's odd. You can pick it up like a solid matter and then it runs through your fingers as a liquid. Apparently you'd be able to run across it in a pool. Craig and I spent far too much time messing with it and going "I don't get it.." Our kids have no hope do they!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday without being Pepper-Sprayed

I'm glad I didn't venture out today for Black Friday, given the shootings, pepper-spraying and general stupid behaviour. People are NUTS. A couple of years ago when I was 8 months pregnant with Danny and couldn't sleep, I got up at 3am and went to Wal Mart on Black Friday just to experience it and there were grown women fighting over $3 pyjama sets. They were made of nasty polyester and 100% flammable but those women were like a pack of hyenas. I haven't been out since.

Today I hung around the house instead with the boys and then took them for a play-date with a friend of Jack's from school, which was lovely. Me and the mum got to have a nice natter while all four played well. I was surprised how comfortable our Danny was, given his tendency to hate new situations. It was a very pleasant experience indeed and as always when I meet other mums, I get some ideas that I think I can incorporate into my parenting. I need all the help I can get!!

Afterwards we went to the fish shop to buy more fish to try and kill. Our Danny was so funny in the shop and kept grabbing the sale assistant by the thigh and dragging her over to the tanks and pointing things out to her like "big pink fishy!" and "look, a blue lobster!", She was a good sport about it and we came away with a tiny catfish, yellow snail, two glow-fish and a couple of danios (how could I not get Danny-ios!). I give them a week before they're floating and eyeless.

Craig came home deer-less but I do hope he gets one soon. I would imagine that the anticipation is huge, knowing that once you shoot one you probably have to track it for a while before it dies. Then you have to call the regulatory service (ODNR) and report it and get the tag number. And then you have to field dress it before getting it to your car and to a meat processor. When I asked Craig how he'll know if it's dead he said you poke it in the eye (ugh). If I can't stomach the thought of that there's a good chance I couldn't field dress it, which entails opening it from neck to end and pulling all it's guts out. There's just no way I could do that. Not that I'll have any problem eating venison burgers, sausages, steaks and casseroles this winter I should add.

So it feels like the weekend's over but it's just beginning as we have another two days off work yet. They are calling for rain tomorrow though and SNOW maybe Sunday. Boooo! Not snow please Mother Nature, not yet!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Happy Thanksgiving

We've had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. This morning we went for our annual turkey-day hike and even though it was 39 degrees F the boys messed about in the streams until we had to force them home, soaking wet. We literally emptied water out of their wellies at the car!

We met several dogs & owners along the way. The black dog on the right was found at a local park last night by a woman we met. She is going to try and located the owner tomorrow through shelters and vets but thinks maybe the poor pooch was dropped off at the park as she had no collar on and was running back and to, looking at the cars as if she was saying "have they come back for me?" Heartbreaking to think that might be the case. Both Craig and I would have taken her if one of us had of cracked but I feel like our life is full enough right now. Still, she was a gorgeous dog and Cody had fun with her.

Danny was like the dog whisperer and played with them for ages.

Then it was home for our turkey dinner. I do love the American version with cranberry sauce and corn bread stuffing. And Craig's mash is to die for! Danny, not surprisingly, refused to try any of it. For desert we had pumpkin pie and ice-cream then headed back out to the park before we all fell into a turkey coma.

It'll be bed for Danny soon then we are going to watch the second Narnia film with Jack. Life is good and we are lucky. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving too!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Happiness List

I just finished The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and while I wouldn't say that it inspired me to jump into a big project myself, it has made me more conscious each day about how my attitude affects not just my wellbeing but everyone around me. Remember the line "If mum's not happy, no one's happy?" I used to think that meant "everyone needs to make mum happy", but now I clearly see it as "mum has the power to make all around her unhappy", and I really don't want to do that.

The book made me look at happiness as a subject, which really is about what makes you feel good. So I have thought a lot about what makes me feel good and sometimes to really get to the bottom of it I had to think about what makes me feel bad and reverse it. For example, when I've lost my temper with the kids I feel bad or when I've drank too much I feel bad. The book also made me realise I've been going through life looking to the future to a time when I'll be a better mum/wife/daughter/sister/friend, because right now I'm just too busy.

So I haven't come up with a big written project, blog or list of goals but I have adopted a handful of resolutions that I will carry with me each day and try (and sometimes royally fail) to do. They might sound a bit cheesy but this is how they sit in my head so I can remember them:

1. Be Pam
2. Act how you want to feel
3. Lighten up
4. See Craig
5. Gaze lovingly

I think 1-4 are self explanatory. Number 5 is something new that Craig and I have started doing. You go into your kids bedroom and watch them for a minute as they sleep. It only takes a minute but it really helps, especially for me right now as Danny is such a handful. It makes me realize how little he is and how much I love him. As Gretchen (and every older mother on the planet) says "the days are long but the years are short" - which is hard to acknowledge when you are in the midst of toddler-rearing!

So that's it. My little 5-point list isn't very profound and it doesn't include personal health or clutter control or hobbies or other things she mentions, but these 5 things are definitely achievable for me and do make me feel happier if I do them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

We spied the first Christmas tree on our street last night so pulled the car over to the house to wonder at it. Both kids got excited and were pointing at the "priddy lights" as Danny calls them.

Jack asked if we could get ours out of the box and I said that, actually, we will be buying a real tree soon because mummy always loves a real tree that smells of Christmas. Jack of course was not content with why we couldn't get one out of a box NOW, so wanted more reasons for the real tree. So I talked about the smell again.

And the needles in your feet Christmas morning
And the need to de-clog the vacuum cleaner of needles all winter
And the destruction it causes when the cat jumps into it
And the nasty scratches it gives Daddy's arms as he drags it out to the curb in January
And the fact we're just thankful it doesn't catch fire each year

At which point Craig and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. It's a stupid thing isn't it, keeping a dangerous fire-hazard in your house each year because you love the smell of pine needles. I'm still getting one though.

Or maybe we'll get one of these ....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Read all About It!

My mum sent some goodies for the kids today and included a couple of pictures of me and my sister Jenny. This was taken during our holidays at a holiday camp in Rhyl, Wales in 1973 when I was four years old.

There's two reasons I wanted to post this picture:

1. I am astonished how much Danny looks like me because I always thought he looked like Craig.
2. I have NO IDEA what my mother dressed me as for the fancy dress competition! It's pretty obvious what my sister and the Welsh girl are. I'm somewhat foggy on the scary clown-boy on the end wearing his granddad's pants. But what on earth am I?

Feel free to guess and I'll post the answer after I've asked my mum.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sadistic Shopping Spree

It's hard to lose weight when Craig's mum sent him Thornton's toffee for his birthday. He and I attacked the bag like a couple of walkers from a zombie movie, complete with sound effects "agrhh, om om om, argh". We managed to deter the kids from having any by telling them it was coffee and they couldn't have any till they're 18. It worked a treat.

Stupidly, we took them Christmas shopping today to buy toys for other kids. Are we sadists or what? Jack spent the entire time at Toys R Us begging for toys and Danny was in some kind of sensory overload, gazing up and down the aisles and every now and then pointing at toys and whispering in awe "Ni Hao Kai-lan!". At one point our Jack got hold of a teddy bear that was bigger than him and refused to put him back so we had this rather surreal argument in the middle of a busy store with him hiding behind it and me looking like I'm telling the bear off.

So I got a teeny bit of Christmas shopping done at least. Next I'll be out looking to buy 15 boxes of Lego for the lads in our Jack's class. I got volunteered at the last PTA meeting to buy all the Kindergarten boy toys for their Christmas party which serves me right for leaving the meeting early for my XFactor party (thanks Mr's W!) I'll get reimbursed though and I'm actually quite looking forward to getting and wrapping the presents. It's putting me in the Crimbly mood!

I did however make a solemn promise to Craig today. I am never ever ever taking the kids Christmas shopping again. What was I thinking?

And we probably won't go shopping in that part of town again either. It was in the better part of town but good lord they were a miserable bunch. The parking lot was full of road-ragers and the shops were full of really angry and fed-up looking people. In my area of town, we aren't millionaires but we at least enjoy ourselves when we go shopping and we are civil when driving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Sentimental Old Fool

The older I get the more sentimental I'm getting but tonight I really crossed into loopy land. Remember our fish Bert & Ernie & Garrett? Well boggly-eyed Bert died about a month ago and for the last two days our orange goldfish Ernie's been looking a bit off.

It's not down to being ill treated. Oh no. This goldfish tank has been pampered to death and I feel like the only other thing I can do for them would be to take them out each evening and lick them clean. The tank cost me 5 bucks at a yard sale and the set-up has cost a small fortune. As soon as I go to the local fish shop they must nudge each other and whisper "here comes Mrs Muggins again, let's see what we can fool her into buying this time".

The last 2 days Ernie has been listless, then started hiding under the filter, then rolled upside down and finally died tonight. While all this was going on Garrett (the Plecostomus) was hanging out with him, snuggling up to him and following him wherever he half-swam, half-floated along. At one point, as Ernie was gasping for breath, it looked like Garrett was trying to blow air in his mouth.

When I told Craig all this he burst out laughing and said "Pam, he's waiting for him to die so he can eat him". Then to hide my shame that once again I'd been a muppet, I said something about the mouth-to-mouth episode which only made him smile more and ask me to look out for a book at the fish shop that talks about fish giving each other CPR. What's really sad about all this is that not only do I feel foolish but I also feel sad. I was kind of wishing that fish liked each other, you know, like they do in Finding Nemo.

When I went to the fish shop tonight to buy a net so we could scoop Ernie out and give him the right send off down the loo, I went out on a limb and asked the salesperson if perhaps Garrett was Ernie's friend or was indeed waiting to suck him once dead, and she looked at me like she couldn't believe I'd asked and said "well he aint his friend".

RIP Ernie.
Now let's get you out of there before Garrett sucks your eyeballs out.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Loss in our Community

I love our little corner of the neighbourhood. Since we have a corner lot and live on the end of a school property, we really don't have any direct neighbours but we have several houses opposite and around our property. Each one of our neighbours are great and we count ourselves lucky to be surrounded by nice people that are either retired (and therefore watch your house) or have kids to play with our boys, or are just, well, magnificent people.

Recently our little community has lost some people and it's been a sad state of affairs. Ralph was in his late 80's with Alzheimer's and recently he moved in with his sister in Cleveland and now he's in a secure locked facility where I don't think he'll last long. It's hard to imagine him, as active and strong as he was, being locked up like that. Ralph was stationed at Burton Wood Air force Base in Warrington (Craig's birthplace) during the war and he would always come over to chat with us. During my maternity leave with Danny he came over with a shoe box full of pictures from the war and we sat for a couple of hours, which is a nice memory to have of him.

Then earlier this week we lost a wonderful man, Edd, who died of cancer. He owned a landscape company and he was always coming over to do stuff to my lawn and he even gave us a lawn mower when ours broke. He was so cheery and so eager to do his bit. He would come out each winter and snow-plough the road and help the older people get their drives clear. I know his wife will be devastated. I'm going to the viewing tonight and not looking forward to it to be honest.

One of the houses has been empty for 5 years but the elderly owner living in a home won't sell it because he's convinced he's coming home one day. And our direct neighbours just inherited a another, bigger house and will be moving in the new year.

So our little group is changing and I feel sad about it. I'm hoping that new people moving in will be young with kids or just as wonderful as the people we just lost.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Things I Would Have Said

I was going to talk about the teacher conference I had today about Daniel and about how he crawls under tables when a guest speaker arrives in his classroom but that needs too much explanation

I was going to talk about how much weight I want to lose since I have become a big fattie & why Weight Watchers doesn't entice me anymore since our leader was so narcissistic

I was going to talk about the fact that I haven't drunk wine in 2 months and will never drink it again for reasons I was going to disclose

I wanted to talk about the crazy group of republican candidates and their humour value each day as I listen to their messed-up debates and see their supporters holding up misspelled, bigoted and hate-laden placards

I wanted to say how proud I am of all the Occupy people and how much I appreciate them making a stand against the greedy people that cream off the top and don't give a crap about the working man.

I was going to post pictures of our gathering last night to watch XFactor USA with people that were funny as hell and made the evening a good laugh. Best line from Simon? "The good news Stacy is that your hair looks better than last week"

I was going to talk about a guy at work who drives me NUTS

I was going to post a video of Jack singing Katie Perry's "Firework" but since the Jerry Sandusky thing I'm doubly-paranoid about posting anything on here that attracts weirdos. This breaks my heart because I have family and friends in England that come to this blog to see the boys.

So instead, I'm going to post about my beloved Buckeyes. The students of The Ohio State University that are graduating this fall and will play football for the last time on Saturday in the shoe. I will be there to salute them and cheer for them and I'm sorry that they had to bear the cross of a coach that got witch-hunted and a program that got humiliated and torn apart. Doesn't that all seem so exaggerated and unwarranted now that other universities have much bigger issues? Doesn't our boys getting tattoos and being paid $200 more than they should have seem outrageous? It does to me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Putting the Pressure on at Five

I got a bit upset today when Jack didn't get an award at his first grading period awards ceremony (yes, there is such a thing). He got such a rave review from his kindergarten teacher Mrs C. last week that I really thought he'd be up there with his friends getting something for accomplishment or effort but no, he didn't. He got a certificate for 100% attendance which he was very proud of, bless him.
All the worries have now flooded back that I've sent him to kindergarten too soon. He's 9 and 10 months younger than his friends who got those awards today. Is he going to spend all of his school life always trying to catch up and not grasping concepts that older kids can grasp? When we got home I was probably a bit hard on him while he did his homework and I've told him he needs to buckle down a bit more. Sounds a bit harsh doesn't it, for a 5-year-old, but the standard testing at these schools is rigorous to say the least.

One bright spot of the ceremony was sitting next to a wonderful woman who lived miles away in another school district and her son travelled on the school bus to this school at 6.30am every morning. He has cerebral palsy and when he started at school couldn't talk and he sat in a chair and now he's walking unaided and speaking and taking grade-level math and science. When he got his award his mum was clapping and crying and she set me off, of course. Her son was such a bright and happy lad I felt uplifted just watching him. She kept telling me how wonderful the school and the teachers were and how she hopes her son can always attend it (she has to put her name in the lottery every year because she lives so far away). Anyway, she was an amazing lady and I've been thinking about her a lot tonight.

As for Jack, well we'll just have to help him more. Try and integrate school work into all the fun things we do and also limit telly, as that has got a bit obnoxious the last few months. I want him to be happy and to love school but I'm also going to have to make myself be more of a hard-ass when it comes to the academics. It seems so wrong somehow - to be putting that kind of pressure on a five year old. Shouldn't he just be catching frogs and saving the universe?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wishing I had a Theme but Oh Well.....

Today's post is a bit broken biscuits, sorry.

I've been thinking all day about a "theme" for my blog - you know, about cooking or having liposuction or giving up alcohol or having a boob job. That kind of thing. I'm also reading a book written by a blogger (The Happiness Project) and thought about plagiarising her stuff but I'm too honest (ha ha ha). As it turns out, I have no themes in my life - just bonkers stuff most of the time. So there you are.
And here's my bonkers stuff ...

Last week I posted about having sniffles and starting to take zinc supplements. A professor at work told me to take them and when I acted like I didn't know about zinc and the onset of a cold he was really surprised as he thought it was common knowledge that it stops a cold, based on sound research. And that made me feel like an uneducated moron (professors do that to you) but then a colleague of mine said they didn't work. Well I'm here to tell you that they are AWESOME!!! I've been taking zinc for a week and my cold did not materialise at all. I swear. Cost about $6 for a week's worth and worth their weight in gold.

Next up, our lad Jack has been taking swimming lessons and has graduated from levels 1-3 and now they've advanced him to school level 2 - which basically means he's a fish and it's not my doing. This summer in Michigan he swam in that lake every day with his dad and that's what did it. Hurrah for dads because they are fabulous when it comes to raising a son.

Hey! I finally captured his favourite zombie pose!

And lastly, it's XFactor tomorrow night and I'm having guests over who love it like I do. We are going to howl for Josh Krajcik and Melanie Amaro and Chris Rene like a pack of coyotes ( and drink and eat fabulous food of course). Craig and I have always tried to enjoy this with a party - we may not do much adult partying these days but we do try with this one. I hope one day that Josh Krajcik does "Try a Little Tenderness"...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tongue Twisters

Jack recently had hold of a fly swatter and exclaimed "look mum! I have a fly flopper! and no matter how many times I corrected him he just couldn't get it. Not that I tried too hard as it was very cute. The lady with us, Susan, said that for the longest time one of her nieces couldn't say magazines, but pronounced it "mazagines" which is something I can really see myself doing.

As a kid I couldn't say "car park" (the term for parking lots in England). To this day I still say par cark 90% of the time and have to stop and think about it before I open my mouth. Thankfully my gaffe it's not as rude as poor Bridget Jones when she keeps pronouncing her bosses name tits pervert instead of Fitzherbert. Jack also can't pronounce ravioli (laviloli) and think (stink - as in "do you know what I stink moma?"). And Danny can't say caterpiller so asks me in the most ridiculously sweet voice if I can read the hungry paterpiller book to him. How cute! I hope he's still doing that when he's 40, as long as he's left the house and is with someone and happy. If he's saying paterpiller and living in my basement and watching porn all day then I'll be worried.

Well that was a short post for today. I'm a bit buggered to be honest. But I would like to hear if any of you have a particular tongue-twister you just can't master.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Little Zombie

We are home! Woo hoo! There's nothing like pulling up outside of your house after a major road trip, knowing you're going to walk into a nice clean home. We had a fabulous trip with friends that we should have made the effort to see sooner but time just whizzes by.

I laughed when I saw this picture close-up. Jack is being a Zombie and was practicing his zombie faces in the car on the way home. I told him I'd take some pictures of his different zombie faces so we could choose his best look.

A couple of things Susan and Leonard said has resonated with me. Mostly about taking time to enjoy family and friends, no matter how busy you are. They have reconnected with family after many many years and feel strongly that all those silent years were wasted. I couldn't agree more - nothings more important than family, not matter how wacky they are!

Both boys are zonked out in bed and we are watching Walking Dead before bed as we are knackered too - we had to sleep with a kid each last night because Danny refused to sleep with Jack. Both Craig and I were kept awake most of the night by the running, jumping and crazy dance moves they do in their sleep. At one point Jack told Craig he was walking on stilts while he was sleep talking!

So a great weekend was had and now back to reality. As I tucked Jack in bed tonight he whispered "Mommy, you forget to take pictures of my zombie faces". Awwww.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Nashville's General Jackson

Today has been marvelous but now I'm cream-crackered.
Due to the time change, the boys got up at SIX FIFTEEN, but then we got going and met our friends and had a smashing time in Nashville, Tennessee!

The reason for our visit: Craig's friend Leonard (& his girlfriend Susan who wasn't on this pic). They were such fantastic hosts and I can listen to the Tennessee accent all day. I can definitely get used to being called honey all the time.

They had booked us onto the General Jackson paddleboat ship for the afternoon for a lunch cruise and show.

The lunch and show were fabulous - full of southern charm and the music was awesome. The band was a music comedy groups that did impressions of famous country singers and they had a fiddle player that brought down the house.

My boy Danny. He was 110% from 6.15am until he crashed about 4pm in the car.
Once again I feel bad for saying this but these kinds of trip would be so much more enjoyable without worrying about your energetic toddler throwing himself overboard, running away and throwing his fork into someone's soup. Jack made firm friends with Susan's niece Bethany and they played all day.

Me and mine.
After the boat trip we toured around General Jackson's Hermitage and then Broadway Street downtown, The Parthenon and the Grand ol Oprey Hotel and the Ryman Auditorium.
I love this city!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Store Your Cones Somewhere Else Cincinnati!

We finally got to our hotel in Nashville after 7.5 hours of what should have been a six hour drive.

We hit horrendous traffic all the way through Cincinnati and crawled for what seemed like 50 miles. At one point we drove past 15 miles of big orange cones sat out FOR NO REASON. At which point Danny was kicking the back of my driver's seat and Jack was singing nonsense songs so I turned the radio up full-blast (hey, if you can't beat them, join them) and "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC was on, which just about summed up the moment. Next was "Shake it up" by The Cars but by this point Danny was mad about the loud music and shouted "I don't wanna shake it up!" and we all burst out laughing. Family crisis averted thanks to the Big D.

The good thing about travelling from Ohio to Tennessee is that you gain an hour so while my body says it's 11.30pm right now, my phone tells me it's only 10.30pm. Bonus!

Seriously, a couple of ciders and then bed. Boys are already zonked out. I'll post pictures tomorrow. We are here visiting friends and looking forward to some fun. Cody got left behind with our new dog-sitter that we found on Craigslist. It felt odd handing the keys of my house over to a complete stranger & I am so paranoid that I told all my neighbours to watch her like a hawk and take the b**ch down if she makes a wrong move. Ha ha ha..

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Who Needs Plastic Crappy Toys?

I've been asking a man at my work to keep an eye out for great big boxes that will entertain my kids and today he came up trumps. When I dragged it in the house both boys were so excited they resorted to their evolutionary roots and ran around like monkeys for 10 minutes, clapping their hands and shrieking.

After Danny boy had gone to bed, our lad Jack pleaded to be allowed to fall asleep in the box in our bedroom and then "take me to bed when I'm sleeping, pleeeease"

How can you not let a little boy of five go to sleep in his camp, deep in the woods, while he fights off bears and only has a small LED candle for comfort? Craig and I sat in the front room and heard of his escapades until all went quiet and our little boy fell asleep.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Proud Day for This Mama

I knew it was going to be a good day when my first conversation at 7.15am was a discussion with Daniel that while I understood he was in fact Darth Vader he still wasn't allowed to run in the house.

Then this afternoon Craig and I had our first parent-teacher conference with Jack's kindergarten teacher and it was fabulous. To sit and hear a teacher rave about your child is a marvelous experience that actually gave me a big lump in my throat. She said that he's so cheery and keen to get involved that he helps her sort things out in the classroom (she called him her secret boss) and she kept chuckling and saying "he cracks me up!" Now, he's one of the youngest in his class and he's got some work to do to keep up but she has set us some tasks over the next few weeks to help him and he has to practice his numbers more. I asked her if I made the right decision letting him start rather than holding him back a year and she said absolutely yes - he's doing great. What a relief!

And as an update from last night. The phantom polling station nose-biter has been found and arrested and our carrot & orange soup was a bit hit! And late tonight the Penn State coach and President of the University have been fired. I know that some fans are really unhappy about that but I read the 23-page indictment and I don't think there could be any other conclusion.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Bad Guys & Soup

I was going to do a post tonight about my carrot and orange soup. You know, post the recipe and then show photos of Craig cooking it (come on, you know that I wouldn't cook). It turned out marvelous and I hope those teachers tomorrow are very grateful and give Jack an "A" or there'll be trouble at t'mill as we say in Lancashire.

So what could possible be stopping me from blogging about soup? Well more important things actually.

It was mid-term election day today in Ohio and I can't vote but obviously have a vested interest since I've lived here for 12 years and pay taxes (rather ironic wouldn't you say that the Boston Tea Party was started because of "no taxation without representation" and yet that is where I find myself). Anyway, Issue 2 was a "no" and I'm mostly happy about that. The Governor was trying to take away Union rights which I think might have been a popular subject had he not lumped in the firemen and policemen. But it looks like some school Levy's didn't pass and I'm not happy about that. The failing of a school levy (tax) means that teachers, buses and programs like sports and art could get cut. The one kind-of funny story from the polls today was the man that got his nose bitten by a poll-booth employee who was mad at him & then ran off. It takes all sorts!

The other big story of the day here is that the football program at Pennsylvania State University has imploded with charges of child abuse by a retired assistant coach called Sandusky. To give an English equivalent - this would be like finding out that an assistant coach at Man United had been abusing kids for years (college football is huge in the USA and this is one of the best and most revered teams). The coach (think Ferguson) said he was told about the abuse of a 10-year old in 2002 and that he did what was legally necessary by informing his two bosses. Another assistant coach who walked into the shower block to witness a 10-year old being anally raped was the one that told him. Now, I have thought about this a lot today. If I walked into a shower block and saw a grown man raping a 10-year old I would jump on his back, beat him senseless and cause such a fuss that everyone in a 50-yard radius would call the police. Wouldn't you? But none of them did anything to stop it and the abuse went on for another 7 years, until 2009. Several boys from 8-14 years old were abused during that time and there are probably more. So at this point the assistant coach, the coach, two big bosses and a janitor have seen all this go down. The two big bosses were arrested today. The big question of the day is if the revered and much-loved coach, who's 84 and an icon, should "retire". I'm baffled tonight by the swell of support and the chant of "we are Penn State!" when he emerged from a car, smiling, on the news. I want to barf.

And lastly who could ignore Herman Cain, the GOP candidate that is refusing to acknowledge the FOUR woman that have accused him of sexual harassment. It reminds me of that Iraqi Minister of MisInformation that stood defiant in front of a bank of TV cameras, denying that international troops were in Iraq, as the American soldiers danced behind him.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Fighting the Sniffles

Last night I started to feel like a cold was on the way and today the weariness and heavy head has started. I am taking zinc supplements and drinking tea with honey and drinking tons of water and hoping I can make it through quick and painless! I don't have time to get a cold right now, much as I'd like to lay in bed for a few days sipping tomato soup and reading (good grief that sounds like heaven doesn't it!)

We've got a lot coming up - school conferences, swimming lessons, Veteran's Day, a trip to Nashville, Thanksgiving, Craig's birthday and then Christmas! Only 47 Days 3 hours, 15 minutes and 48 seconds to go at posting time! Jack has already started to get a little buzz about it and I have too if I'm honest. It's funny how I've gone from somewhat blase to completely fanatical about it now that I have kids. The Target toy catalogue arrived today so I gave Jack a pen and let him go at it - circling the toys on each page that his heart desires. I remember me & my sister doing that as kids and spending hours poring over it. Of course we never got the toys but that's not the point.

But first things first. We've got Jack's first parent-teacher conference this week and I volunteered to make soup for the PTA. I'll be making cream of carrot and orange soup and hoping I don't botch it. As you know, cooking is not my forte!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Hold that Garbage Man Thought Jack!

Good grief I'm tired tonight - probably because the clocks wet back last night huh. The boys were up fairly early and then I took them to a 6-year old's birthday party. I'm not sure what it is about kid's birthday parties but they completely bugger me up. That's the 2nd 6 year-old I know of now in Jack's class which means they have a good 9-10 months on him age-wise. I do hope he's not struggling to keep up with these older kids.

I met a mum today that I really liked. She's actually the Nana but raising the little girl as her own since she told me that the real mum (her daughter) isn't ready to be a parent. This woman was so interesting and funny. She's a professional career woman but also a musician and a psychic reader, and got the most beautiful and piercing eyes I have ever seen. She told me some people are afraid of her, that they think she's a witch and I laughed but silently agreed. She gave me her card and I'm itching to go and get a reading! She asked me a few questions about Jack & Danny and then gave me a few snippets on what she believes they will be like in life, based mainly on their birth signs. It's really interesting to have someone tell you what path they think your kids will take and what their adult personalities will be like. I'm especially glad that she told me Jack would be a carer, like a veterinarian, since he told me recently that he wants to be a garbage man.

Craig think it's all twaddle of course but I've always loved this stuff. My last reading was in New Orleans in 2004 when a lady on the street in Jackson Square told me I'd have 2 kids and I said no way I wanted kids! and then went partying in the French Quarter with Craig and we both laughed at the suggestion.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Fidget Pie - Yummy!

Tonight we went to an expat Bonfire night with 30 other Brits and it was great. We met people from the north and south of England (south mainly - something to mull over later about why). The host is a fabulous lady called Maureen that I really like and we keep promising each other that we'll get together but never do. Anyway, we had to take regional food to this party and I baked (YES I did) Lancashire Parkin. And it was popular! Maybe I'm not such a crap cook.

The other English food included:
  • Fidget Pie - which I have never had before but absolutely loved! From Sussex apparantly.
  • Toad in the hole - including mini toad in the holes as cupcakes!
  • Apple crumble
  • Sausage rolls
  • Pasties
  • Trifle
  • Cottage pie & shepherd's pie
  • Samosas and bombay mix
  • Scotch eggs
  • Quality Street chocolates
  • Cheshire cheese & crackers
Highlight of the night? More great Brits as friends.
Low of the night? Crazy pretend-British people that I want to strangle. Like the crazy woman that has now introduced herself to me by 3 different names in the last year. She is from the Caribbean and as mad as a bloody hatter - and not in a funny way. Her daughter was equally nuts and has called her 9 month old daughter "On a Journey". Not kidding. Crazy bastards.

Other than the crazies that are obviously drawn to British meet up groups for some reason, I had a great time tonight. All the adults were great with the boys and it was fab to talk about the homeland that we all miss. And the really good thing is that clocks go back tonight so I get an extra hours sleep. Woo hoo!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Bommy Night Fare & Kisses

We're off to a party tomorrow for Bommy night, otherwise known as Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes night. I'm supposed to take something English as a side dish so thought I'd cheat and swing by World Market on the way home from work to get some treacle toffee but alas they had none. They did have copious amount of cans of mushy peas for $5 a can though. Scandalous!
You could make treacle toffee yourself you might say, but then I'd have to tell you about my attempt to buy Tate & Lyle treacle years ago only to eventually work out after about ten hours of investigation that it's called black molasses over here and then our disastrous attempt to make it less like liquid goo and more like crunchy toffee.

My next cheat might be toffee apples. I think I might have seen them in the supermarket or was that tubs of caramel sat next to the apples? Should have paid more attention obviously.

I can't take something like pumpkin pie and swear it's a traditional English dish because I'll be partying with other Brits and they'll know I'm lying. The same could be said for brownies if I tried to pass them off as Parkin

Lancashire hotpot is an option but that means I have to cook and I have decided that to be happy in life I'm never cooking again.

Flapjacks sound easy but they probably aren't.

Maybe I'll just make the boys wear England shirts and take some sparklers?

To add a touch of romance, tomorrow marks mine and Craig's first kiss, sixteen years ago. We got together at a bonfire party, of course.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Epic Fail at Parenting

My youngest won't eat. Well actually he will eat as long as it's his choice of food in his own sweet time, which would be okay if my life solely revolved around his eating habits but it does not.

When I got home at 5.45pm tonight he was once again refusing to even try the food that Craig had cooked him so I turned off the tv and sat him in the kitchen with me while I cleaned (and yes I just confessed that my kids sit and eat while watching a bit of telly sometimes).
He still refused to eat and I got angry and did the discipline thing which was a bit of a nightmare when he's pointedly asking "why?" and I'm saying because daddy cooked it and you don't waste food and his face says huh? and then he repeats why? So I said okay if you won't eat it you can just go to bed. So he looked at me with defiance and went to his bedroom and got in bed, even though he was crying at this point and it was only 6pm.

When I got back to the kitchen and sat down it felt horrible. It's only 6pm and he's in bed already, which means I won't get to see him today. Sometimes I feel like such a crap mum.

After 10 minutes I went in to see him and he was fast asleep. He didn't nap today and I guess he had a snack at 4pm so probably wasn't hungry. He looked so angelic while he was sleeping that it was a double whammy to my guilt bank.

So here's the struggle for me. I can't ignore his behaviour and just let him eat crappy food whenever he wants, which means I'll always have a struggle on my hands. But I need to learn to deal with that better. I even asked myself today what Nanny 911 would do. That isn't a cry for help in case any friends are thinking about signing me up for nanny's help. I would say a big fat NO. Of course if any of my real mummy friends want to offer advice I'd much appreciate it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Music to my Ears

I'm a huge fan of XFactor I'm sorry to say. I've been called a sad individual on Facebook for liking such nonsense, but oh well. The older I get the more I really don't care what people think I should like. By the time I'm 65 I'll be wearing purple wigs, dancing to hip-hop and drinking Bloody Marys for breakfast probably. At least I hope so. For those of you that haven't watched it yet it's not too late - the final 12 started the live show tonight and one will get voted off tomorrow. My favourite 3 that I voted for are Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro and Josh Krajcik from COLUMBUS O-H-I-O!!! He used to make burritos and now we all think he's fabulous!!

But anyway, the reason for my blog tonight was to post a song that I love but had forgotten how awesome it was until I heard it again at the weekend. It's poignant because it is by the deceased but incredibly talented Amy Winehouse. God damn she was good. I can't wait to hear the new album that will be released soon. Whenever this song comes on my Pandora radio channel on the telly at home I have to stop what I'm doing and listen to her. She had an amazing talent.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Lost Some Gnashers

I had two of my wisdom teeth pulled out at 7.30am this morning which actually wasn't too bad. When people knew I was getting them pulled they felt inclined to share their horror story with me so I've heard everything from bleeding mouths, black eyes, swollen faces and even a few days of delirium. It was the same when I was pregnant and people wanted to tell me how awful childbirth was and how they nearly died, which wasn't helpful at all really.

Anyway, I took two days off work which was a bit extreme but I didn't know if I'd look like John Merrick afterwards and anyway, I wanted to take the time so I did. I took it off as vacation in case I wanted to do yard work or anything else that might make me look like a lazy skiver. This is probably hard for someone to imagine in the UK but having vacation time in the USA is quite rare and there are people I work with that pride themselves on never having taken a day off. I'm sure even now there's been mutterings at work about why I possibly needed to take TWO WHOLE DAYS off work when I only had a couple of gnashers pulled.

Not that I've been lazing about eating Hargen Daaz and watching Jerry Springer I may add. Oh no. I've had pre-school runs and runs back to pre-school for diaper changes, then a run to Linda's house and the school pick-up for Jack. I think I had about 2 hours in the middle of all that where I tried to do a spot of housework but just gave up. I did manage to de-Halloween the front of the house and do a spot of work (for actual work) this morning but that's it.

Talking of Jack - he dropped the F Bomb last night! Right in front of me he told Danny to "get in the F'ing bedroom" I nearly choked. I demanded to know where he'd heard that word from and he said "you mom" so I said and who else? (thinking surely there's a scapegoat out there that can get me out of this sticky spot) and he said no one, just you moma. Oops. What's strange it that he repeated it exactly as I would have said it with him in ear shot - not the full word but a sort-of fnkn mutter under the breath. Looks like I'll have to restrict my language in front of old waggy-ears from now on.

3 Month Catch-up

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