Friday, August 31, 2007

Football's Here - Wooo!

Buckeye season starts tomorrow, HURRAH!

For friends and family in England - the Buckeyes are the college football team at The Ohio State University. Last season we were unbeaten, ranked number one and had the best player in the nation. The less said about the Championship game the better. A lot of those players have now graduated or been picked up by the NFL. This season we have a young team but we have high hopes! Just today I went and spent $35 on a number 33 jersey (James Laurinaitis) for Jack. The OSU stadium holds 105,000 people and the whole city of Columbus is passionate about this team.

Craig and I went to our first game in 1998 when I was over here just for the summer, before we emigrated. We were split up because my boss took me and a graduate student, Dave, took Craig. We previously arranged to sneak out at half time - I mean, come on "American football"????? It's BORING. They stop and start and stop and start and nothing happens for AGES .... We met outside at half-time, looked at each other and said we LOVED it, wanted to stay, can we get back in (no, obviously). And so, since 1998 we've been to as many games we can. We've both been to a lot but I'm fortunate enough in my work to go to every game.

I know our friends and family will still think it's awful - I would too. You have to go to a game. My boss here thinks football (soccer) is awful. No matter how many times I tell him how wonderful it is he doesn't believe me. He doesn't like the low scores. He thinks there's nothing worse that 0-0!

Anyway, I went off on a tangent - Buckeye football starts tomorrow. My friend Emily has a really nice video posted on her blog to get us in the mood, so I thought I'd post a video of a commercial made about the Buckeye: Michigan rivalry that made me laugh - GO BUCKS!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Made in America with British Parts

Tonight we went for dinner at Char & Jan's and our dinner club friends were there. We used to be part of a dinner club group of 10 people but Craig and I bowed out this spring because basically the purpose of dinner is to enjoy cooking and serving glorious food to your friends in a relaxed atmosphere and we felt that having a baby was just not conducive to the dinner club scene. Before you think we've sold our souls to "babydom" hear me out.
Now we have Jack we have a routine and we try really hard not to break it - for his sanity and ours. Basically, if he gets to bed too late he goes bonkers, can't sleep, we don't sleep, dogs and cats don't sleep = whole household full of nutters.
Thankfully all our friends understand when we have to shovel food down in record speed and exit at or before 8pm. Tonight Jack grabbed the table cloth and did the "da-da" trick. Unfortunately, the table cloth did not miraculously come out from underneath the tableware - my full wine glass went flying!
Anyway, here's a few pictures from our lovely evening with friends that ended at 8pm ...
In the garden. Jack's main aim was to pick up acorns. After a couple of times of me telling him to give them to me (and not lodge them in his throat) he kept picking them up, looking at them like they were naughty and giving them to me. He's like a little sponge right now - just taking everything in that I say and responding. It's amazing.
Oh, his t-shirt was bought by an English friend of ours. On the back it says: "Made in America with British Parts"

Char - chief cook. Tonight we had chicken & portabello mushrooms, salad & cheesy tatties

Eric - having a smoke and holding his little belly in when I got my camera out. Hey honey - you look gorgeous!

Stephen - my best-dressed friend and one of my favourite people in life. Stephen and I have one big thing in common: our partners love cooking and we really don't. Everyone in the dinner club are great & fanatic cooks but Stephen and I are the two anarchists. We like to taste the food after it's cooked and compliment the chef.

Cheeky Monkey Extraordinaire

A couple of weeks ago Gina babysat the little fella for an hour till I got home from a road trip. She said they had a great time playing and recently she gave me these pictures that she took during their dinner time together. I love them! These pictures capture Jack's personality perfectly.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Great nephew on the way

I just found out today that my niece Gemma is having a boy! Everything is going great but not got hold of my sister yet to find out any more news. Craig's nephew Lee just turned 21 this week. He's getting married in December. All of our nieces and nephews are grown up. Looks like Jack will grow up with Gemma's son, his great cousin - is there such a title?

Jack's most recent thing is to give us something so we say "thank you". He's such a joy to play with these days although the poor little fella has at least 2 teeth coming in this week so he's in some pain.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Funny Moment

Even though Jack has two pretend phones of his own he loves the house phone and spent quite some time this morning playing with it after Craig got off the phone with his mum.
Here he is having a very grown up conversation. I love how he puts the phone up to his ear and he sounds so serious...

Scary Moment

I was gardening this afternoon and casually looked to the west and saw jet-black sky and thought - Ohhhhh s***!

We got the telly on and saw we were under a tornado warning and then the sirens started wailing! Arghh! We grabbed our lad and Cody, diaper bag, shoes, phones and cups of tea (hey, we're English) and retreated to the basement.

After the storm had passed over we learned that a tornado did touch down on campus - scary stuff. Jack was totally oblivious but I was a bit scared. Craig said he wasn't scared but I saw him jump at least once!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Frogs and snails & puppy dogs tails...

I just read our friends' blog about their daughter, Katy, and how adorable she is at the moment. I have to concur because we went for dinner with them last night and she was so well behaved and loving that I was in awe of her.

Jack on the other hand is a whirling dermish right now. Here's a picture I took of him last night trying to sit in the oven roaster. If he's not doing this he's trying to climb over the stair gates or trap his fingers in doors. All normal toddler stuff but I think we need to do a better job in the discipline dept.

I don't want to end up as those parents that think their child is adorable while everyone else thinks he's Damien. It's very hard to think about discipline though when I only see him for 2 hours each day. When I see him I want to play with him!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Camping Success - Finally!

This weekend we went camping again, hoping 3rd time lucky. We packed up and got to the camp-site Friday night and stayed till today. Here's how our weekend went...

The weather was perfect on Friday. The night sky was so clear we could see the stars. We saw the Milky Way, The Plough, several satelites and a shooting star. I wish I could pick out more stuff. It was a bit chilly so we cuddled up in a blanket under the stars and had a few glasses of wine - lovely!

Saturday morning I got up first to let Cody out and as soon as we left the tent Cody started going bonkers trying to get something off his head, then I did too - something was around my neck just stinging me. I didn't have my contact lenses in so was blind as a bat - I opened the car and we both jumped in. Once I got my eyes in, I got out and saw a big swarm of hornets coming and going from their ground nest - right in front of our tent door! I told Craig to stay in the tent with Jack and went for help. Craig didn't need too much persuasion as he's not too brave when it comes to things that sting. The owner of the site was lovely and other campers rallied around to help - several foggers, sprays and shop-vacs later the little buggers were gone.

Gina and Matt arrived Sat. morning so we had lunch then went for 2 walks - the first one paddling down the river. Gina and I got too freaked out by the amount of crayfish round our toes but Craig & Matt kept going till it got so deep they nearly fell in. Cody went with them and proved himself to be "cowardly dog extraordinaire" by refusing to go in water deeper than 6 inches unless Craig carried him. The second walk was down to a bridge and bike-path, with the most amazing butterflies and caterpillars we've ever seen.

After lunch we went to Malabar Farm . Jack's still a bit young to enjoy it but we had a good time looking at the animals. I think Jack's favourite animal, where he got the most excited, was the horses...

They have Shire horses at Malabar. In England we call breeds like the Clydesdale above "Shire" horses while here they are called "Draft" horses - like the famous Budweiser horses. Whatever we call them, they're bloody HUGE! We were all really brave till they came over and then we all went quiet and respectful and tried not to get near it's rear-end!

Saturday night Craig & Gina did some fishing and caught a few trout. Craig normally fly-fishes on this river but didn't have a fly-rod so must get him a new one. Gina and I had wanted to pan for gold, which you can do on the river, but we had visions of crayfish latching onto our toes and fingers so chickened-out.

I made the mistake of taking Jack for a shower with me. I won't go into minute details but let's just say that trying to wash shampoo out of my hair while carrying a screaming baby was not the best moment of my life. The curtain was a third as wide as it needed to be to cover the shower stall and I'm just SO THANKFUL no other person came in. He loves baths and I remember my niece Gemma, LOVING showers but she must have been older than 1 - maybe 2? Anyway, bottom line is, our Jack's not ready for showers.

After Jack went to bed we lit a fire and grilled dinner, had some beers and just hung out - ohhh, camping's a great way to de-stress.

This morning (Matt's 31st birthday!) about 8am it started raining so we went into town for a breakfast then packed up and was home for noon. It would have been nice to go to Mohican State Park today but I hate dealing with camping gear in the rain & just wanted to get home & dry.

Anyway, we had a lovely weekend and tonight we are tired-out. I love this picture of Jack on the way home - he looks so contented and worn out. He was such a little trouper. I think he had a great weekend and he slept both nights for 12 hours. We love camping so having him enjoy it too is a blessing. AND what a relief to finally have a successful camping trip. In hindsight, maybe taking him when he was 6 weeks old wasn't such a brainy idea!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Anniversaries & Blankeys

Char came over tonight to celebrate our anniversaries - mine & Craig's is 11 years, Char & Jan's is 21 years! Jan couldn't be here because she's visiting her family but we sent her big kisses.

Char and I were in the kitchen chatting & I gave Jack his half-filled water balloon and I said "This book I just bought has lots of games for babies, including water balloons, it's been GREAT" As I said the "G" of the word "Great", Jack bit into the balloon, covered himself in cold water and burst out crying. Char just looked at me and started laughing. Talk about famous last words!

Jack's got a blankey! We didn't start it - he did. He started pulling his blanket out of the crib. I offered him another blanket and he carries it everywhere. When I ask him about his blankey he throws it down and lays on it - WHERE do they get this from??

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pleasant Weekend

We had such a pleasant weekend, just hanging out at the house and seeing friends. Last night Matt & Gina came over and we watched Disturbia. We rigged up the LCD projector & watched it in the garden, which was so cool! We all thought the film was okay but didn't really get scary until the end. At one point, Gina said, "Oh for heavens sake, somebody die already!", which does sum the film up.
Today we took our lad to a water park - his first one! He liked it but sometimes he got a bit frightened. He kept going back in though as you can see by the video below. I'm saying "oh-ho" on the video because just minutes before he'd got stuck in a fountain and he really freaked out. He did great so we'll take him back (and it's FREE!).

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Stinking Hot

I have tried not to post a message about how hot it is here for fear of my English family and friends saying "ohhhh, woe is me!" Today however I'm just FED UP with it. At 7pm tonight it was 98 degrees for heavens sake! Craig and I are just miserable and haven't really been out of the house too much because of it.

Jack came home all sweaty & happy today after a full afternoon playing at COSI. He getting such a personality! He loves to sit under this cabinet in the kitchen, like it's his secret den. He's become quite the little helper in the kitchen - closing the dishwasher for me and trying to mop the floor. He also likes to take all the tuperware out and re-arrange it and sometimes sneaks up when mummy's not watching and takes something out of the trash!

I'm so glad it's Friday tomorrow. It means we get to spend 2 full days with him. If it's still this hot he'll have to spend the whole time in the water, like his friend, Katy did this week.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Another Stunner from Hosseini

Well I just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and I thought it was wonderful. Even for me that's quick reading as I just started it last Friday. I couldn't put it down - it was even better than The Kite Runner if that's possible.

The Kite Runner, due out as a movie this fall (see trailer below) was an eye-opener for me as far as how people in Afghanistan lived but this novel just swept me along and I felt so much for the two heroines, Mariam & Laila. I just read on Google that "Suns" might be out as a movie in 2009 - Oh, I hope so!

It's so easy to watch all the awful things that happen in the world and to get immune to it. If I'm honest I haven't really thought (or cared) about what's happened to Afghans over the last 30 years but this book made it personal and I cried a lot towards the end. Now yes, I know I've gone soppy since Jack was born and Craig tells me I cry at the drop of a hat but I promise I don't normally cry at books! What I didn't realise till I read this book is how BAD it still is there and how war lords and the Teleban are still controlling parts of the country.

Anyway, maybe we'll start to see more of these kinds of movies - real stories from Afghanistan and Iraq and Darfur. It's certainly an effective way of making it real to people like me.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Brum Brum

Jack got a new toy in the mail today from his nan and grandad in England. It's a long-handled wooden toy that he walks around with and he loves it - he also loves to push the vacuum/mop/broom around so I'm hoping he'll be mummy's little helper!
He has so many toys that I worry he's going to have the attention span of a knat. Right now he loves anything with wheels. Craig was playing with him & Cody tonight with a small remote-control car and I can see it's going to get some wear over the next few days. Cody was going crazy for it too and leaping about like a child. I've started letting Jack give Cody his dog biscuits so I think these two are going to be firm friends.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Films: 2 Hits, 1 Miss...

We watched 3 films this weekend - The Simpsons, Number 23, and Hot Fuzz and I'd rate them (in order): Fab, dire, and good.

The Simpsons made me laugh and went too fast. Two things amazed me during this film that I'll remember. First off, we saw Bart's willy! Second, I CRIED during this film. Really. There's a video message from Marge to "Homey" where she tells him that she can't take anymore and I cried. We're going to have to watch the DVD too because we left during the credits and as we were walking out we heard Maggie say her first word but I didn't hear what it was.

Number 23 - Could have been a great film but REALLY wasn't.

Hot Fuzz - I was expecting the same fantastic effort from "Sean of the Dead" and it was okay but not great.

I started "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hossein on Friday and I'm 3/4 of the way through. So far, it's as good as the Kite Runner and I'm hooked. Some of the things endured by the people in his books are unimaginable. I keep saying to Craig how lucky I feel to be born into my life. In 1995 my girlfiend, Jo, and I went to Marrakesh for 2 weeks on an adventure. We went out into the Atlas Mountains and met Berber tribesmen and their families that lived in caves without any water or sewage and I always think about them. They had a "special" room in the cave that had a blanket on the floor and a photograph of America on the wall. I'll never forget it.

Another great thing this weekend - Craig cooked me dinner on Saturday and I think it was the best thing I've eaten EVER!. He made lamb chops cooked in red wine vinegar, mint & honey and we had mashed potatoes and gravy on the side. Scrumptious!

Finally, Jack has 2 new words: ball and yeah. He's also started doing this really funny talking that I can't describe but I'll try and get some video to post later.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Frank's Story

We got Frank in September 1999 from an adoption place that's now closed. We just "popped in" to see the animals (which is lethal) and as we walked around the cat cages we noticed a small cat with his arms reaching so far out the crate his face was pushed against the mesh and he was meowing with all his might. We stroked his paws and he purred like a kitten, which he sort-of was at 5 months old. His head was leaning over to one side really badly & he had horrible scars around his mouth.

Here's his story that we know:
He & his sister were found together. His collar was stuck around his head & mouth and had grown into his face. They think a kick to the head resulted in his lack of balance. No one would adopt him because he has a heart-murmur, which means he can't be operated on, should you want to get his claws removed to save your sofa. His sister was a cutie and immediately adopted but "Dazed" (Frank) had been in a cage for 3 months. We said we'd think about it.

We went to the cafe next door and me (being the sensible one) said "I'll list all the bad things about getting a pet and you list all the good things", and Craig said (being the man I love) "what shall we call him?"

So, his official name is Francis Algernon Mashed Potato - Frank for short.

He'll eat ANYTHING: Curry, chips, tarter sauce, tomatoes, dog food, grass, daffodils (even after they've made him sick 100 times). If he had a choice? - tuna, milk and cheese! I haven't given him wet food since the pet food scare so it's dry food all the way now and he's not a happy camper. Pic above is Frank with our lovely friend SMBL in 2000, who actually deserves a story of her own as a skydiving ref, skydiver and all around good sort.

If there's a box around it's his

First Halloween costume

Five things we know about Frank:

  • He hates Tutz (other cat) and puts up with Cody, but absolutely loves me, Craig and Jack
  • He's not very bright. Even after eating a bee, getting stung in the mouth, having a swollen head and having to get both an injection & then a thermometer up the bum from the vet, he still chases bees.
  • He does tricks (not those kind). He will come when called, sit and give his paw for a treat. If you want proof I'll post a video later.
  • His ideal day would be: (1) tuna for breakfast, followed by milk out of a long glass that he could lick off his paws (2) A day spent in the garden chasing squirrels, birds and chipmunks (3) Ham for dinner, play with me & Craig and go to bed with us snuggled up (4) That Tutz died
  • He's a typical cat - the perfect "Prima Dona" - he will opera sing when he needs his litter cleaning and will NEVER let us see him in a less than dignified position.

It's hard to believe that our Frank is 8 years old. He was once top of the totem pole but he is now 3rd. It sounds terrible to say it like that, but by the time Jack and Cody are seen-to our Frank just about gets some affection. Which leads me to Tutz, who's story I guess is next.