Wednesday, August 02, 2017

He's the Reason We Can't Have Nice Things

I say this line a lot to Craig -
When the cats barf on the bed "We can never have nice things"
When Ben poos on the basement carpet "We can never have nice things"
When the kids put slime on the carpets or smash something "We can never have nice things"
All of this is said tongue-in-cheek, knowing full well that me & Craig were just as mischievous  (or worse) and that things will not get smashed or ruined so much as they age. Or maybe they will. But when they fly the nest we'll buy nice things, let's put it that way.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

England Trip 2017: Family Time

There's so much to say and so many stories to tell about our July trip back to England for two weeks, but I'll sum it up by saying it was a time for family. I enjoyed and soaked up every second with family because life is short and I want my boys to know they have a big, loving family that will always be there for them. I want them to travel back to the UK on their own one day, maybe go to college there, maybe even move back there. Seeing them with their family was the highlight of my year. And we had lots of fun. We hiked, we went to seaside towns & played in the rock pools, we explored castles and played on the arcades. And I drank far too much and ate too many Gregg's cheese & onion pasties, but there's not a regret in sight! Haha!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Loss of Two Favorite Uncles

This summer I lost two favourite Uncles in England.  I know what death is inevitable, but it doesn't make it any easier.

Uncle Stan was my mum's brother (she is one of 7 kids and he is the first to go). He served in WW2 and owned a nursery and garden center. He's the reason I got into the horticulture industry as I started work for him when I was 13. He and my Auntie Jean adored each other and raised a huge family. He was one of the nicest men I ever met.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Jack's Birthday

Jack has turned eleven years old. I know everyone says it flies by, but it really does. I can still remember the second he was born, the feeling of bringing him home from the hospital.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Union Jack Table

I came across this blog post last year about how to stain an old coffee table with a Union Jack design. I bought the same table on Craigslist for $40 but then it sat for a year in my basement. In fact, after the basement flooded I avoided the whole room for a while but finally got my bum in gear and decided to get things tackled.

Monday, June 26, 2017

End of School Year Updates

Our end of school year was crammed with camping with Dolly, Boy Scouts & school events. Danny is now a Bear Cub Scout, entering 3rd grade at school, and Jack is a Boy Scout, starting 6th grade (middle school) this August.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My 48th Birthday

I have no idea what I did for my 48th birthday. Scrolling through Facebook I see that I met Craig for an Indian at lunchtime but then I'm drawing a blank on the day's events and the following weekend. It must have been so astronomically fantastic and wine-infused that I've forgotten! Maybe we danced till dawn and laughed till we cried.

Cub Scouts

When Craig first said he wanted Jack to join Boy Scouts of America (BSA)  I said no way. At that time they did not allow gay kids or atheists to join or lead and I didn't want to support an organization that did that.
In time he won me over (he had been a scout and loved it) so I got to know the local pack and thought I'd give it a go. It felt inclusive and friendly, though a couple of leaders were a tad "unique" I have to say.  Then, happily, BSA announced they would include gay scouts and have actually gone one step further and recently announced their support for transgender kids. Awesome.
The atheist thing is still a bit wishy-washy but our local pack leaves people alone to worship whatever faith they wish to. Like I said, it's a friendly, inclusive group.

S-Town

By far, the best Podcast* I have ever listened to is S-Town.

It's a true story, set in rural Alabama in a small town with colorful and crazy characters. It's only 7 episodes long and I binged the whole series in 2 days. It was quite amusing, walking around with head phones in, dusting and ignoring my children for two days or scowling at them when they persisted with questions. I had to hide in the loo at least twice.

At the end I felt lost - I wanted so much more! But I think that's the sign of a great series.  I spent a long time on Google maps looking at the town and searching for what's happening to the characters after the series finished. I can't recommend it enough. Listen to it!

*If, like me, you hate learning about yet another type of technology and don't know how to upload or listen to podcasts, simple look for S-town on the Internet and follow the link to the podcast. Hit "Subscribe" and then listen for free! Or go to the Podcast app on your phone and search for it.

Turtle Hike & Pizza Party

Craig and the boys wracked-up some accolades this week. On Monday Craig and Jack got honored at the Boy Scout's Court of Honor for completing the 18 mile Turtle back-pack hike and today both boys got recognized at school for doing kind and thoughtful things so I got invited to their pizza party. Jack and Craig got really nice, hand-poured metal turtle medals.
Yep, I'm boasting. And nope, I don't feel bad. These guys deserve it.




Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Camping

For the 2nd time this year we got Dolly out and went camping for the weekend and it was PERFECT.  My only complaint is that it went too quick.

Friends came to visit for the day on Saturday but it was primarily just us 4 hiking, star gazing and hanging out together for the weekend. I was so relaxed and didn't shout once. No stress, no place to be or things to organize, just enjoying the moment with my family. I made a little vow to do this more. To put them first more. Us first.

The only bad thing was that Danny fell off his scooter and hurt his head and shoulder and has vowed never to go near any kind of vehicle for the rest of his existence, but I'm fairly sure he'll change his mind on that. Oh, and raccoons ate our entire food supply by raiding our cooler, but that's ok. Like I said, I was relaxed the entire weekend.

When we got home I did some gardening and Craig made me a Sunday roast. He's made a huge effort lately and that's a good thing. The boys made me cute cards. They are adorable & funny. Daniel described me as being as tall as a smart board and Jack drew a picture of me that makes me look like Russell Brand. But they tried, bless them.

I am one lucky lady :)









Brit Expat Picnic

After the election I hid for a while. I avoided groups like the Brit Expat group because I knew several people in it who had voted for Trump and it was just too much to be around them. Even now, there's a couple I can't even look at, but I also know that there's a lot of people in the group that I love and I also help run events.  So I put a smile on my face and co-hosted the Spring Picnic and Sports Games Day.

It was a great day. The weather was perfect and the kids LOVED it! Those classic English games like the 3-legged race and egg & spoon race are timeless. Danny had fun but refused to enter any games, bless him.  Jack did every game with gusto, determined to win. The usual scenario.

I did get to chat with a friend who's originally from Iraq and she was telling me about the hoops she has to jump through with immigration, and I realize that we've had it easy, being from the UK. For example, we had to live here on a green card for 5 years before applying for citizenship and she has to wait for 10 years. On a light note she was telling me about her son and his monstrous fibs. He told his teachers she was in hospital dying (there's nothing wrong with her) and he told their neighbor that his dad liked their car and was planning on stealing it. She told me these stories and my sides ached with laughing. I'm glad to know it's not just Jack that has a problem with fibbing.
So all in all a great day. And I managed to avoid the Trump people.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Turtle

Jack and Craig did the once-every-4-years "Turtle" hike with Boy Scouts. It's a 20 mile hike carrying all supplies on your back (hence, the turtle theme). In true Boy Scout fashion, it chucked it down the entire first day. Oh joy!


 
Turtle Hike 2017 from Pam on Vimeo.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Jan-Feb '17 Pictures: Sanitary Pads & Family (What can I say)

We bought sanitary pads for refugee woman. And we wrote postcards to politicians. And we drank. And we had fun. 

Would have given my arm to be there with my cousin Kay, my dad, and my family 

Our refugee friends. 

With our Brit & refugee friends

Earshad is a lovely lad. I wish every person on earth could meet him. 

Red hair! I love that this lad is a rebel.

Getting his  Cub Scout "Arrow of Light" with his friend. 

Arrow of Light

My boy

Crossing over to Boy Scouts

Crossing the bridge to Boy Scouts

Jack's Boy Scout ceremony

Women's rally with Mo, Karen & Erika. I'm so glad I'm surrounded by STRONG, BADASS women.

More strong, badass women, raising money for our school


Thursday, March 09, 2017

Feminism

I have so many things I want to post - pictures, videos, updates on Scouts, school, jobs, life.
All cosy stuff.  All nice & fluffy, funny stuff.

But I'm going to talk about another topic - Feminism. That word to me means I'm part of a tribe of women who live on this planet and we all know what it means to have periods, or be a mother, or have a rough time with kids. It's a club that we belong to. It has no negative aspect, it really doesn't. What possible horrible things has feminism done over the last 1,000 years?

The one thing I cannot understand is a woman saying "I'm not a feminist".  I want to say "the reason you don't need to be a feminist sweetheart is that women ahead of you fought for your rights. Feminism has brought the vote and a certain level of respect, but there is still a lot to do....

During the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, Columbus Ohio is the 2nd place in the country for sex trafficking.
Women earn 30% less than men in America
Trump is going to defund Planned Parenthood that offer pap smears & mammograms
Trump wants to ban abortion. In other words: Woman are too damn stupid to make their own decision about their body.
America has NO maternity leave (ranks LAST worldwide)
Women of colour are treated badly, especially Muslim women, and refugees, and women who wear head scarfs, and gay women. Need I go on?
Women who work their ass off in agriculture and have no rights, no good pay, no respect.

The feminist movement also recognizes and supports other groups.  It's all about social justice, love, kindness & being helpful.

My message to these women: If you hate feminism, or are scared of it, you need to ask yourself why.




Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Danny at 8

He's eight! How did that happen.

He's a tall, skinny, picky eater whirlwind. He dresses himself, and always chooses his own things. So independent.

Loves Loves Loves Pokemon. Likes Nerf guns and other toys....But LOVES Pokemon. Knows them all, knows all the cards, the characters, the points, the powers, the evolved characters. All he wanted for birthdays and Christmas's the last 18 months has been Pokemon.

He's an awesome roller skater, runner, and soccer player. He refuses to ride a bike, eat an egg/meat/salad/veggies/beans/soup and any other food he doesn't like the look of. He's the same with clothes. Who knew there was so much vetting as to the virtues of certain underpants. 

He takes his own sweet goddamn time. I once called him "Danny 20" because it takes him 20 minutes just to move but then immediately stopped as I know kids become what they are called (crap parenting moment). But good grief he's slow to get going.

His heart is HUGE. He has empathy. He notices things I never notice.

My hope for Danny this year is for him to love himself more, to stop saying negative things to himself. To step it up a bit with the chores and try a bit harder with reading & writing. 
But mostly, to continue being himself and to have fun with his friends. He has a good soul this one. A really good soul.  Love you Danny x


Thursday, January 12, 2017

My Fierce and Strong Nana

I had a conversation with my mum at the weekend about women in my family. I'm going to be "marching" soon and wanted to know if my Nana was a suffragette. Since women didn't get to vote in the England till 1928 I thought she might have been an activist. I had visions of her as a trail blazer and a feminist because I know that she was strong as nails.  Turns out she was both of those things (and much more) but didn't march.

She was the mum of 7 kids and beloved by all. My Granddad was a horseman in World War 1 and had the most terrible experience that left him shell shocked and never the same (if you have watched "War Horse" you will know what he endured). He died just before I was born, in 1969.

Smithy Lane - the road my Nana & The Mission is on
My Nana was amazing. She brought up seven kids and did so during great hardship. She cooked food over the fire (imagine, no oven), hand washed everything, grew vegetables and fruit in the garden. She worked hard. I remember her house clearly - a semi-detached house on Smithy Lane that was always safe & felt like home when you visited.

Even though I was young when she died I remember a few things:

  • Putting on a singing & dancing show in her back garden to the family with my cousin Julie and charging everyone 50p to watch.
  • Going to The Mission (named The Good Shepherd in this Google map image) next door to her house each Sunday, for Sunday School. That place was our family church and I spent most of my childhood at services or at fetes or decorating the harvest window. 
  • My Nana teaching me how to fold and criss-cross paper so that it burned slowly in the fireplace.
  • Nana letting me borrow a craft book on the day that she died.  
  • The terrifying, awful night time phone call, informing my mum that her mum had died in a car crash.
  • Her funeral
She died in a car accident when I was 9 and I wished I had known her more.

I was wondering what I should put on my sign at the march but I just got my answer. I'm going to celebrate this kick-ass, strong, kind Nana of mine. 



Nana, Uncle Harry, Auntie May, Auntie Ada & my mum

Nana

Nana & mum

My Beautiful Nana

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Girl at The Dollar Store

Last week I ran to a dollar store to pick up some supplies for our NYE party. It was bitterly cold and windy. Jack tagged along, hoping to score some sweets or other booty, like he does every time I go shopping.

As we left the shop I noticed a young lady of about 20 yrs, with a toddler and about 20 shopping bags at her feet. She was on her phone and looked upset. The toddler was sniffling and looked cold and miserable. I looked at her and knew I had to help, so when she got off the phone I asked if she needed a ride somewhere. She was so relieved and thankful that she nearly cried. We drove them home to a run-down apartment block with boarded up windows in a rough part of town and we helped carry her groceries up to the 3rd floor.  She had just moved to town from the country and didn't know anyone other than her husband, who was at work. She had walked over 2 miles on a bitterly cold day with her 16 month old daughter to buy food. She's living in a dump and my heart ached for her when I said goodbye & drove away.

On the way home Jack was pretty quiet and thoughtful, which is completely out of character for my chatterbox. We talked about how fortunate we are as a family to have each other, to be safe and warm and have food. Even though he helps me feed the homeless each month I think it's the first time he's truly seen how some families live and how hard they have it. At aged 10 I'm fairly sure he isn't going to lose much sleep over it, since children generally have no concept of empathy or needs beyond their own. But I'm hopeful that he has an understanding at least of how fortunate he is and how to treat other people, given the chance.

I haven't shared this story with anyone other than Craig because it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn. But I want to share it now because I want to let people know that showing kindness and love to someone less fortunate can be a beautiful thing, and not something to be fearful of.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

My 100 Day Challenge: 5K and 30 lbs.

I saw a couple of great videos recently of a girl doing a 100 days challenge to lose weight and man determined to be flexible enough to touch his toes.

It got me thinking that I'd like to do something to keep me motivated in the next 100 days. I'm not in the mood for Weight Watchers or yoga or the gym. But I do want to do something for my health and well-being for 100 days.

100 days puts me at mid-April. There's a local 5K I'm going to do at that time and I'd also like to be 30 lbs lighter. That's my goal.

I'm not weighing or measuring myself right now as I think that might dishearten me.  I think I know what I weigh, so let's leave it at that.

Day 4: So far this week I have eaten somewhat healthily and not had alcohol. I'm also walking again. A colleague showed me how to walk through several buildings at work so I don't have to venture outside in the snow (and likely break my arm again). I'd like to hit 10,000 steps/day again.

So that's it. Let's see if I can keep motivated!

Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year, New Resolutions

We hosted a New Year's Eve party last night with school friends. These "Ladies of the PTA" are my go-to ladies for advice, support, therapy and of course fun. We had waaaaay too much fun last night but I have no regrets.

I'm not going to lie, I'm glad to see the end of 2016. It can kiss my ass.

There were some high points, like our trip to Canada with Leanne and the boys and then my trip to England in November where I got to see my family and my mate Sue. And I got to spend more time with my cousin Kay, who is like my soul sister. The boys had a good year and we're all healthy and comfortable and safe, which is the main thing in life. But there was just too much sadness and despair.  My dad had a big operation and my uncle was diagnosed with mesothelioma. I lost my friend Darian at just 47 years old.  The loss of all the famous people was upsetting too of course but the big crapfest of the year was the election. It's going to take me a long time to get my faith back in humanity after so many people voted for the orange idiot. I do feel a lot better than I did in November but still, so long 2016, you are banished from memory!

Onward and upward to 2017!  My resolutions for this year are:

1. To look after myself!! To lose weight and get healthy. This will include walking a lot more, which my dog Ben will also benefit from. Buy nice clothes for myself, have more baths, stop letting some people control me (the same people do this, over and over. This year it stops). To spend more time in the garden and more time reading.

2. To have a fantastic trip to England with my neighbors.

3. To send less time looking at my phone.

4. To get our pop-up camper out ASAP and get camping!

5. To laugh more. Because my mood sets the mood for the house and if I'm pissed off and stressed so is everyone else. I used to think that the saying "If mum's not happy, no one's happy" meant that everyone had to keep mum happy. But it's actually the other way around. If I'm not happy, I have the power to make everyone else unhappy too. So happiness starts with me. Back to point 1.

6. To blog more.

He's the Reason We Can't Have Nice Things

I say this line a lot to Craig - When the cats barf on the bed "We can never have nice things" When Ben poos on the basement car...