Sunday, December 30, 2007

For my mum

This post is really for my mum, who told me today she's missing us terribly. I have also felt just awful since I got back - homesick and wishing I was in England so I could see my family more. In hindsight we should have stayed for Christmas. I think coming home on the 22nd upset not just us but our families too and made us all a bit lost over the holidays. I hope this achy sadness passes soon.

Jack in some of his clothes he got from Noah - thanks Sue & Lee. It's nice to have kind friends with good taste!

A week from tomorrow our beloved Buckeyes play LSU in the national championship game

Jack LOVES to wear our shoes & slippers. Why is that?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lancashire Lingo

In addition to the fabulous book "Pets with Tourette's" that someone got me for Christmas, I got a book of Lancashire-English. It's a bit like a language dictionary but instead of being English-French translation or similar it's dialect from Lancashire - a county in the north-west of England where I'm from.

I'm glad I got this as I want to teach Jack as many Lancashire words & sayings as possible. Here's a few of my particular favourites:

Baggin - snack, lunch
Butty - Sandwich
Chunner - mutter
Daft - simple, foolish ("He's as daft as a brush")
Dither - unable to make up one''s mind
Faddy - fussy with food
Fettler - friend
Flummoxed - confused
Gammy - inured ("I've got a gammy leg")
Gawp - to stare
Gormless - stupid
Kecks - pants, trousers
Lumber - trouble ("you're in lumber now")
Mard - soft, cowardly
Meither - pester
Moggy - cat
Owt - anything
Parky - cold
Soggin - wet
Tackle - to attempt, male genitals (LOL)
Traips - to move about with no purpose ("stop traipsin about")
Welly - to strike hard

And some idioms:
Put wood in th'hole - shut the door
You make a better door than a window -you're obstructing the view
Spitting his dummy out - having a tantrum (a dummy is a pacifier)
He couldn't stop a pig in a ginnel (alley) - He's useless

Friday, December 28, 2007

Mr Independent

Since our trip home Jack has changed. He's become very "grown-up" and is no longer a baby. That probably sounds far-fetched but it's true. It's as if being thrown into the arms of strangers over the holiday has made him more mature, more independent.

We visited 10 houses, slept at 3 different locations and met with dozens of family and friends who all immediately scooped him up and showered him with kisses. He didn't cry. He didn't even squirm and and run for me after a while. He didn't get upset or stop eating or anything.

I've watched him this last week and I think he's going to be very independent. He already won't let me hold his fork/spoon/book/drawing paper etc. Maybe that's normal (?) but it seems amazing to me that a little human being only 18 months old can have such a strong personality and be so autonomous.

I do hope that doesn't mean he won't want my kisses and cuddles. That would break my heart.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Pix from our trip to England

Here's a few pictures from our recent trip home to England. It was such a quick visit that we didn't really get chance to smell the roses but our Jack had a great time and it was lovely to see everyone.
Our first stay-over was in Southport where my mum & Tom live. It's a coastal town near Liverpool. This is a picture of Lord Street, which is sort of famous for it's architecture & lights.

Our motor for the week - a Nissan Micra. It did about 60 mpg which is marvelous seeing as it cost more to fill it up than it does Craig's Jeep back in America (the Micra holds 30 litres and it cost $60 to fill)
My mum - what a star she is. I don't know many people at 71 that will get up at 5am in the morning and drive on a busy motorway to get me from the airport.

My step-dad, Tom. Bless him, he didn't smoke in his house the whole time Jack was there. Jack loved this chair and would race Tom to it!

My friend Skully came up to the party my mum put on at the local village hall.

One of the many family dinners. This time with my dad & Sheila (back table, middle, sat opposite one another) and their extended family.

The main reason for our visit - Craig's nephew Lee got married to Lisa at Gretna Green in Scotland then had a reception in Warrington (Craig's home town)

Jack at the wedding reception in his new suit that my mum got for him - how dashing he looks! The lady on the left is Craig's sister Sandra.

Craig's family in Warrington

Next, we went to stay with friends Sue, Lee & Noah. They have a new house with a lovely big back garden which Jack loved


A trip to "Buddies" indoor play area. How cool is this slide! I had a go down it too but came to the realisation that I need to lose a few more pounds or wear more slippy pants because I went so slow.

Helping Noah fill his bird feeder

A trip to see my college friend, Jo. We haven't seen each other in twelve years, since our holiday from hell to Marrakesh in 1995. That story is far too long for here, but let's just say that two girls who like to party probably shouldn't go to a country like Morocco for Christmas.

Holmfirth in Yorkshire. Such a picturesque town.

A visit to see my sisters new house. His cousin Abby had dressed him up and given him lots of chocolate, hence the party-boy attire.

Jack and his cousin, Abby

Jack and his sort-of cousin, Claire

Manchester City Football Club (okay, I did a bit of work while I was there). We took Craig's nephew, Luke, along with us as he's a big City fan.

Our friends from the parachute center, Darren & Amanda (Tony was there too but not pictured). While we were there the pilot had been involved in a mid-air collision with a light aircraft and two people had died, thankfully no one from the dropzone.

The coast - I can't even begin to say how much I miss it. There are now wind turbines out in the sea - with Britain getting ready to get power from them in the years to come.

We took Jack to see the endangered red squirrels at Formby but didn't see any. We did see a red fox though.

Me & Red Rum (you'll have to Google him if you don't know who he is)

All aboard folks!

Fish, chips & peas - what else does a Lancashire lad need in life?

Oh, okay. Maybe they also need the local paper

Monday, December 24, 2007

There's no place like home..

We're home! We tried to leave England on Saturday but our flight was cancelled because the pilots were "out of hours" (drunk) so we finally got to the USA on Sunday but then had another cancelled flight and had to spend the night in Chicago last night.

The return trip might have been semi-bearable had we not had an 18-month along with us. He was a little trouper but there's only so much a toddler can endure. The low point was last night at the Chicago airport shuttle bus station, waiting for a shuttle to our hotel. It was minus 22 with the wind-chill and there were grown men pushing us out of the way to get on the bus. Those of you that know us know that my husband is an even-keel kind of guy, very laid back. Last night he was at the end of his rope and he took charge - getting us on the bus and demanding help from the airlines. I'm usually the organiser and the one that does those things but I was too weary and on the verge of tears the whole time - but I think 50 hours of travelling will do that to you.

Anyway, we're home now so musn't let it spoil Christmas. We have no tree and we haven't even bought Jack his present but he has lots here from England and he's always a cheery soul. My mum wrote me a letter to read on the plane when we left and she ended by telling me that we can endure anything in life because we have Jack, and she's right.

I'll post pictures from our visit later but just wanted to jump on and say we're home. I took the picture tonight of Craig & Jack in front of our neighbours tree.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

England Update

Just got time for a quick blog & 2 pictures - will post lots more we get home. I'm on a computer - my iTouch is no good for blogging.

We are currently staying with friends and Jack's taking a nap after running around like a crazy boy at a play area this morning.

At Formby Point with his dad

Jack & Noah - how cute!

It's cold as buggery here but sunny. We're driving around an a Nissan Micra with a noisy blown exhaust so we're giving everyone plenty of notice when to expect us. Our car is about the same size as everyone else's - small and zippy! Also, there's loads of diesel cars but not too many hybrids. I've seen 1 Hummer and about 2 SUVs but at $8 a gallon for gas that's to be expected. I saw an RV on the motorway yesterday and can only surmise they are millionaires.

Been all around Lancashire, Yorkshire & Cheshire and having a ball. Eaten pork pies, pasties and of course chocolate, oh yeah and partaken in quite a few English beers!

What have I missed about England? Family & friends, beer, cups of tea, small cars, the fact that everyone recycles and cares for the environment, green grass, evergreen shrubs, fish & chips, and telly with very few commercials.

What haven't I missed? Grim, cold and cloudy weather, sunset at 5pm, high costs of everything, tiny roads, busy roads, speed cameras, and black pudding.

P.S. How did our Jack do on the Atlantic flight? The word MANIC comes to mind...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Au Revoir & Merry Crimble

Au revoir my friends, we are off to Old Blighty!

I'll post as much as I can while I'm there but will probably have to wait until I get back to post pictures.

Here's a little Christmas cheer from me & mine .... click HERE

Monday, December 10, 2007

Experimenting on my child

Parents have been looking at me with all-knowing eyes and saying "make sure you give Jack medicine on the plane to knock him out".

I'm anti-medicine and would rather suffer pain than take anything. I think it's a British thing - the "it's only a flesh wound" attitude. I'm also scared of getting addicted and hurting my insides (this philosophy is rather warped as I have no problem drinking copious amounts of wine)

Anyway, I rang my pediatrician this morning to ask about what, if anything, I should give Jack should he have the screaming ab dabs somewhere over the Atlantic. They said Benadryl. They also said that seeing as he's never had it before he may actually go hyper. They said the best bet was to give him some before we travel and watch his reaction. Experimenting on my child just seems wrong somehow..

We trundled off to Target tonight to the Benadryl aisle and found dozens of boxes, all for allergies (the pharmacist assured me this is what we wanted) and they all said "children under six, consult doctor" for dosage. So we didn't buy it and I'll have to ring the doctor again in the morning. I can see myself doing this but not doing it at a dose we just GUESS.

Good job we aren't flying yet so there's still time to experiment on him!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Natural Selection at its Finest

I went on the TSA website today to see what we need to know before we fly home to England for our visit. There's obviously a lot of useful info about what to do at the airport. Then I saw this.
PLEASE tell me someone hasn't done this???

NEVER leave babies in an infant carrier while it goes through the X-ray machine.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Tis the Season..

During an impromptu photo-shoot tonight, we decided to let Jack open his first Christmas gift - a present from his cousins Perry & Abby in England. They bought him fab new socks (they actually stay on and have sticky non-slip pads) and a snowman. The result? One happy little chap!

Did someone drop a hat?

I just read a post by Wife in the north and it got me thinking about how our attitudes change as we get older. She was a little put-out because a colleague she mentored years earlier didn't remember her. I've been a teacher for 17 years and I can count on my hands the students that have written to me or told me that I've made a difference in their lives. Of course that might be because I'm a really bad teacher! I hope not.

I just think we are pretty self-involved until we get to a certain age, or period, and then we get this heightened sense of other people. Since I had Jack (or maybe just because I'm older) I feel for people. And I cry at the drop of a hat.

I was at a banquet this week and an award was given to a business owner, a contractor, who had donated his time, manpower and materials to helping out a local university that had suffered a tragedy this year. The university baseball team's coach crashed on the way to a game and seven people died (five students, the bus driver and his wife). When he got his award he stood at the podium and he could hardly talk he was so emotional. And I cried. I'm sat on the front table, with the other board of directors, and I'm crying for goodness sake. I'm looking around the room at the other 50 people thinking, "Oh, please don't say it's just me that finds this upsetting?" Apparently, yes, I was the only big soft lump in the room.

Will it get worse as I get older? Oh, I hope not. I always saw myself as an old cantankerous biddy, talking to myself and wearing outrageous clothes. I never imagined myself a blubbering idiot.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Crazy, Snowy Week

I had a big conference at work this week. It's the big week we all gear up for and we all talk and moderate sessions and mingle with guests. Its exhausting but always a joy to see old friends, colleagues and ex-students. Especially the ex-students. I love to see how they've progressed in the world and gone on to have families and travel and enjoy life. As you can imagine there's lots of story telling too and the odd late night in the conference bar. Unfortunately this year I was the designated driver and also the speaker that got the 7 or 8am speaking slot - so I avoided the bars all week. Even so, I'm sat right now, "on my chin strap" as they say.

I also handed in my final physics paper yesterday and will find out my grade probably by Monday next week. I hope I get a B. I'll be estatic with a B+. I have just about finished all the classes I need to take but I must get stuck into a project or I'll look like Barbara Walters by the time I bloody graduate. I'll have to ask the graduation organisers if they can put that artificial haze around me when I go on stage, so everyone can't see that I'm actually 105 years old.

So, that's it. This week has all been about work. No fun stuff to share about Jack. No other exciting news about us, other than the fact that it snowed this week - about 4-5 inches I think. I took Cody down the snicket near our house tonight & took this picture. It was a glorious evening - mild and crisp white with a lovely orange sun.

Edited Saturday 9th December to add: I got an "A" in physics!!!!!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Happy Birthday Craig!

It was Craig's 38th birthday today. He's caught up with me now so can no longer call me "old lady"!
We both felt a little worse for wear today after partying with Matt & Gina last night (more on that later) but he was overjoyed when we gave him his gift. He's a fantastic dad and husband so we got him his dream present - a PS3. I reap the benefits too as it's also a Blu-ray DVD player. His birthday was spent as a lazy day but the weather has been cacky so we couldn't do much outdoors. Not that we wanted to anyway - lazy Sundays can be just great can't they.

Jack likes to read with someone, usually me or Craig. However if both of us are busy, Cody doubles-up as his reading buddy

What a beautiful (and cheeky) face. Everytime I look at this little fella my heart just melts.

The visit to see Santa this afternoon did not go well. He's at that age where strange people scare him, so plonking him on someones knee who's wearing a big red noisy outfit was probably not the best confidence-building experience. Every parent has a Santa meltdown picture in their album, right?

So about last night.....

Birthday meal aside, it was all about the college football games. Number 1 in the country Missouri lost. Number 2 West Virginia lost.
That means (and we just watched the official announcement) ........... the OHIO STATE BUCKEYES ARE NUMBER ONE AND GOING TO THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. The Bucks will play Louisiana State Uni. (LSU) on January 7th in New Orleans. Matt & Gina booked their hotel last night. We will watch it at home with Eric & Dave. Pheweeee, it still hasn't sunk in.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Did It!

I made it through NaBloPoMo and actually managed to post every day this month. A few times it was a chore but mostly I loved it, and it gets addictive - every time something of any consequence happens during the day you think "oh, that might make a good blog". I've also constantly got my camera ready...

It's a bad habit to get into I think and some nights I'd be here blogging while Craig was on his computer and we'd only see each other at bedtime. That can't be healthy can it.

So, I'm going to be a little more sporadic with my blogs from now on and try to enjoy more time with my son & hubby - especially as it's Craig's birthday weekend!

Lastly, here's some of my blogging observations:

  • I get very excited when I see that I have a comment and very dejected when I have none
  • I'm nervous about posting comments on other people's blogs in case they think I'm a stalker
  • I love to see red dots on my counter (yea! people read my blog)
  • I worry about red dots on my counter (someones going to kidnap my child or rob the house)
  • I'm trying really hard to be anonymous
  • It's hard to be anonymous when I love the Buckeyes so much
  • I try to post blogs that don't make me out to be a mild alcoholic who swears too much
  • In real life I'm a mild alcoholic that swears too much

That's all for now folks.

Ta ta for now

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In celebration of little boys!

I bought a new camera yesterday with better video capability than my old one and I took a little video of Jack tonight for the blog. I have no idea why but I don't seem to be able to upload it. It saves videos as "MVI" and I have no idea what that means. It was so much easier with my old camera!

Anyway, because I am stumped by technology I'm going to resort to a good old fashioned picture. Michelle took this in summertime when Jack was having a "Beckham" moment.

I'm posting it in celebration of little boys because so many people right now seem to be pregnant & expecting boys, or new mums of boys - my niece Gemma, Michelle, Emily, & her friend Kelsey.

I can't say how different boys are from girls because I don't have a little girl (yet) but I do know how much I love my little fella and how much fun he is to be around.

As a tag-on, tonight was my last night-class! I've still got my final exam but I never thought in a million years I would get through this class. I am completely stumped when it comes to math (bordering on dyslexic I think) so taking a physics class has always frightened me to death and I've been putting it off or years because of that, but I'm 5/8 of the way through now, so wish me luck. In honor of this last class, & because he has seen how stupid and dejected I've felt this quarter, my wonderful husband bought me a bunch of flowers tonight. I am so lucky.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cheesy underpants, anyone?

We got a big Christmas parcel today from my mum & sister in England (thank you!). It contained lots of gifts for Jack, me, & Craig.

We tried not to peek but we did "feel them up" a bit & try to decipher in any of the gifts were edible so that we could put them in the fridge - so Cody wouldn't open them & they wouldn't melt.

I remarked how funny it's going to be on Christmas morning when Craig's all excited for chocolate liquers and finds a pair of socks in the fridge. He reminded me of his mum's similar experience with a gift we got her years ago..

We bought her & Harry a "cheese bomb" as part of their Christmas gift - it was a strong Lancashire cheese in a circular shape, wrapped in a black wax coating & made to look like a bomb. She thought it was a bath bomb - one of those fizzy aromatic balls that you put into the bath and it dissolves to color the water and act like bubble-bath. She also thought it would be a good idea to get the most out of it's aromatic potential, so put it into the underwear drawer of her bedroom dresser.

After about 4 weeks of her underwear and bedroom smelling of stinky cheese she figured it out.

Baby Love

This is Connor and I was very privileged to hold him today. He's the lovely son of our friends, Chris & Michelle.
I had forgotten how tiny babies were and was scared to pick him up!'

The mum & dad are of course estatic. I took a picture of the happy family but it didn't feel right posting it without them knowing & I forgot to ask them. Next time we see them I'll get another shot & get it pre-approved.
Anyway, he's lovely and it made me feel all gooey inside, like new babies do.

My heart bleeds for Riley

Last week Craig and I got into a discussion about the death penalty. It's such an emotional subject we eventually gave up.

After all that's happened in the Riley Ann Sawyers case this week, and especially after reading the affidavit, I'm even more torn. Because right now I'm glad they got caught in Texas, where they'll almost certainly get fried.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Happy Birthday Sis!

Happy Birthday to my lovely sister Jenny. See you SOON!

Warm Bum, Warm Heart

I've taken too much on at work, fallen behind on a couple of deadlines and I have several speaking engagements looming. I'm also taking night classes right now towards my PhD. It must have caught up with me today because I actually had a few minor panic-attacks which I haven't had in years. Nothing to get worried about but just a few times today I had to sit and breathe to calm myself down.

I trundled off to night class straight after work, thankful there's only a couple left. At half-time I called Craig and we discussed the day and what we'd have for dinner then I slouched back into the classroom to hear about "flux densities of water in relation to the pressure head gradient". Woo hoo. By the time the class ended I was just washed out.

I left class and walked across to my car in the pitch black and ice cold rain, making a mental list of work stuff that I could get done tonight when I got home. By the time I got to my car I was freezing (damn it got cold quick) and feeling sorry for myself.

While I was on the way home I called Craig again. He said "you just missed the cutest thing. When Jack heard the phone ring he stood up excited, ran to the phone and shouted Mama!"

That just warmed my heart so much, and then I realised that my heated seat had kicked in too, and my bum was toasty! Within a minute I was de-stressed and happy again. All it took was a Jack story from Craig and a heated seat.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bowl-heads from outer-space

As a mother I continue to have preconceived ideas about how I will raise Jack and they all seem to fall off to the wayside as I realise that they were not just a tad naive but sometimes all for the wrong reasons. I'll explain myself a bit better..

When I was expecting, I was adamant that no doctor was going to bully me into a C-section. Even when my great doctor told me Jack was too big, I told all who would listen that I wanted to go "naturally" with as few drugs as possible. As it turned out, the C-section was a great experience. If we do this again? C-section and drugs all the way baby!

I was also set on breast-feeding (male readers - sorry if that's too much information) and I did so half-heartedly because the pressure to do it is huge. Even when I was sat on my bed, pumping (talk about a humbling experience) and crying with bleeding boobs and the baby-blues, I persevered. Next time? I might breastfeed, I might not. I now realise it's my choice and heaven help the busy-body who tells me different.

I also had preconceived ideas about how I would raise Jack - he would eat organic food, no juice or pop, strict bedtimes, and no tv. As you can see from the picture, one of those rules has , erm, gone by the wayside too. The tv is just so NICE when I need just a minute or two to not have to entertain him. I love playing with him but after several hours of entertaining I grab the remote, bring on "Noggin" and he'll maybe sit just long enough for me to have a cup of tea and relax for 5 minutes.

The only downside to this is that I have to watch it too and some of those presenters act like they come from another planet. And wherever that planet is, they all get bowl-head haircuts.