Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ur, Crayola tastes AWFUL!

So, here was our weekend folks:

After our bombshell news on Friday night from Char & Jan (and the subsequent drowning of sorrows) we spent the rest of the weekend low-key.

On saturday Craig starting fixing my brakes as they were hissing. I should have known we were in for trouble when Craig came in after about 2 hours and said "okay, that was easy!" Turns out it's not so easy and poor Craig has been trying to get them finished and bled ever since. I think we are going to ask Matt for help as he's good at mechanical stuff. So Saturday for Craig was an all-day job and I spent the day entertaining the little fella. The day ended well though, with a great win for the Buckeyes against Minnesota.

Today we should have gone with Matt & Gina to the Beckham game but Beckham is injured and flew home to England to see his sick dad so we bailed (sorry guys) and did yard work instead. We got a lot accomplished though and Jack had a fine old time trying to drink from the hose. I'll post some pictures of the yard soon, before the flowers get frosted.

Late this afternoon we took Jack to a local park and he had a great time as usual as you can see above. When we got home we set up his new easel I got at the 3 Bags Full garage sale last Thursday (thanks for inviting me Emily!). You can see the evidence below of our budding artist.

Another Bargain

In addition to the easel and tons of clothes I got at 3 Bags Full, I got a second bargain this week.

I bought this lovely writing bureau and chair for Jack off Craigslist. It's tiny but very heavy solid wood and just adorable. It's a bit "loved" but Craig said he might re-finish it. I think I like it with some character though. The previous little boy who owned it is now 30!
I would have LOVED this as a child and it was only $30 so this was justified spending I think.......

One Last Post - but Worth it.

As the third and last post of the night (and month) I wanted to post a picture of Noah - a 3 year old little chap that belongs to my friends Sue & Lee in England.

The story to accompany this picture comes from his dad, Lee: " We went to the zoo last week and there was a penguin enclosure. I got pecked nearly to death (vicious f*****s) but they seemed to like Noah and I snapped this cracking picture"

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy & Sad News

We heard some very happy but very sad news last night. Our dear friends, Char and Jan, are leaving!

Char's been offered a great patent lawyer position in California so they are going to sell their house and move to the sunny west coast.

It's a fantastic opportunity for them but so sad for us all. They came over last night and we all had a good cry and hugged a lot. It just won't be the same without them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Baby Joy & 3 Cups of Tea

Our friends Brian & Emily just announced that they are having another baby, or put another way (as my friend John recently described his impending fatherhood) "Brian just slipped one past the goalie". They are about 14 weeks preggers I believe and of course very excited. Emily is my mentor because her daughter Katy (hiding from paparazzi Pam but getting snapped by dad) is 8 weeks older than Jack and my indicator of things to come!
Anyway, I'm sure I'll be posting more pix of them over the next few months and I know family from England that met them will wish them well.

After my "Afghanistan phase" of reading I thought I might read a Wyatt Earp book but I've procrastinated and so had NOTHING to read the last 2 weeks. This might seem anal to some people but I HAVE to read when I sit down to eat or relax. At dinner time we eat our food on our knees so Craig watches The Simpsons or Family Guy or his "other woman" Judge Judy and I read.
In the last 2 weeks I have read:
  • Every bit of the AAA magazine, even the boring stuff
  • Local free papers
  • Advertisements for local shops
  • A soil physics book (REALLY)

I went on Amazon today to look for a Wyatt Earp book and it recommended a book for me - I know it's a marketing ploy, but Amazon gets it right for me very time!

So, I just ordered "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson. It's right up my alley - non-fiction and a great story.

Basically, the American author was on a climbing exhibition of K2, got lost, nearly died but stumbled into an impoverished Pakistani village and got nursed to health. He promised to go back and help the kids and he does. He sold all his possessions, lived in his car, wrote to thousands of celebrities, did everything he could to fulfill the promise and to date has built 55 schools in the region. Which brings me to this - It's also about Afghanistan - so I'm back in the country I love to read about!

Lastly, I just saw that Greg Mortenson will be on NBC nightly with Brian Williams this Friday 28th - so I must try and watch that.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hiding from Mummy

Just lately Jack seems to have developed a sense of humor. If he knows something makes me laugh he does it, even days after. I think he's going to be really funny.

We taught him hide and seek this week and he plays peekaboo all the time. When I went in his room this weekend, this is how I found him - sat in the corner of his crib with a blanket over his head, waiting for me to find him! I just about died laughing!

Fun Down the Snicket

Family walks can sometimes be a chore. Cody pulls on his lead and wants to sniff and pee on every bush in the neighbourhood, Jack gets fed-up being sat in his stroller for a long period of time, and of course it's been ungodly hot.

This weekend, it's actually been a pleasure and we've walked a lot. We have a little snicket near our house so we walk down there and Jack can walk right along with us. If no other dogs are about we can let Cody off his lead too and he can chase squirrels.

Here's a short video of a father-son moment caught on our walk tonight...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Two Great Events in November

I am not wishing away the wonderful autumn season, which I love by the way, but I am excited about two events Craig and I have coming up in November.

First, I saw that The Kite Runner is out in cinemas November 2nd! See trailer below if you didn't catch it in a previous post. Ohhh, can't wait. I hope hope hope they do the book justice, which so often doesn't happen. Did anyone read and then watch The Horse Whisperer? I was so upset by the awfulness of that movie I nearly wrote to Robert Redford to complain.

Second - we have tickets for Spamalot!! I don't know if I ever posted this story but on the day I had Jack they took me to the room for my spinal and when they were putting it into my back I said something like "it's just a flesh-wound!" and they all laughed and then started talking about Monty Python - it was such a great start to the day.

Noteworthy Accomplishments (or not)

Having gone through 38 years of life with minimal child contact I really have no idea what I'm doing as a mum. I have read some books, watched Nanny 911 and I seek the advice of other mums. But that's it.

So I worry sometimes that we're really holding Jack back in what he should be learning at this stage. Should he be learning sign language? piano lessons? singing? WHAT?

So I thought tonight of all the things our lad can do at 14 months old and it started to make me smile. Here's a list of some of my particular favourites:

  • Count, sort of. I say "one", he says "doooo" (see video below)
  • Play the kitchen roll like a trumpet
  • Make the noises of monkeys, cats and polar bears
  • Point to his ear when I ask where his nose is
  • Laugh when he has wind
  • Say "bye" to everyone as loud and often as possible
  • Pick up every single tiny leaf that gets tracked into the house and give it to me with a look on his face that says "clean your house mother!"
It's not exactly an honours roll list of accomplishments but I'm proud of him all the same.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sharing the Good Stuff (avoiding work)

I should be working HARD. I have loads of things to do, both for work and at home but I'm sat here pretending I'm doing important community service work. I was the same years ago at college. During exam time when I should have been studying I had the cleanest dorm room of any student on campus. I am the master of avoiding the boring stuff!

Anyway, in a vain attempt to come up with a blog posting that serves any purpose, I've put together a list of stuff this week that I've enjoyed, so I can share it with family and friends...

1. The film "Vacancy". I don't even remember it being on at the movies but we got it on DVD and it scared me to bloody death. I was actually hiding for several parts of the film. Craig enjoyed it too. It's not a blood and guts movie but full of suspense and one that has you shouting "no, no, no, don't run that way!"

2. The TV show Top Gear now on BBC America! It's been going since 1977 and was one of our favourite programs growing up and now they've brought it to American tv every Monday night at 8pm. Last nights episode, when they did the disastrous camping trip, was the funniest tv I've seen in a while.

3. The book "The Bookseller of Kabul" by Asne Seierstad. I guess I'm going through an "Afghanistan" phase as it's my 3rd book on the subject. It's based on a real family living in Kabul. The father , real name Muhammad Rais, has since taken his family to Scandinavia and is seeking rufuge there, based on the fact that his life is now in danger since the book was published. He's also trying to sue the author. I might have just a smidge of sympathy for the guy if (1) he hadn't treated the women of his house like dirt and made them wear burkas (2) he hadn't treated one family so bad that the man of the house was incarcerated, leading to sure poverty and death for the man's family (3) he hadn't taken a second wife and sent his first to another country away from her children (4) he hadn't made slaves of his kids, denying them all of an education, even though it was offered. Mmmm, made my feelings crystal didn't I. Great book though, thoroughly enjoyed it but maybe it's time for something different. I quite fancy reading the true story of Wyatt Earp so more to follow..

4. The iHome music system that Craig got and installed as a surprise for me when I got home from Canada. It's under one of the kitchen cabinets, it was on sale at Target for $20, reduced from $100. It means we finally have music upstairs. It means I can dance with Jack. It means I can cook breakfast and sing along to my favourite songs. I love it (thanks Craig).

5. The game that Jack likes. Playing the old kitchen roll! It's hard to come up with stuff all the time to keep his attention but he loves making noise so we give him the old cardboard tube and he plays like he's in a marching band! See below for proof of our lad's musical ability....

Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm a Numpty

Today we had the second visit to the doctors in a week.

Last week we went because of Jack's dry skin on the back of his neck, and the doctor told us to rub cream into it (Durrr)

Today I took him because for the last 10 days I've noticed a small lump the size of a pea on his neck, just under his left ear.

Of course I've been thinking it has to be something serious - I mean it's a LUMP, so has to be something like a cyst or a tumor? As you can imagine I've been worried to death about it, so off we trundled again to our lovely Pediatrician.

It's a swollen lymph gland because he has a cold. I felt a bit silly but the Doc was so nice about it and even got a book out to show me where all the lymph glands are around the head and explained why they get big during illnesses. He gave Jack a thorough check-over, said he's a healthy little bugger and away we came.

I wish I was more worldy-wise in the skills of motherhood!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fun at the Park

Craig took this wonderful set of photos today at the park next to our house. Jack looks so apprehensive sat at the top of the slide but then "woosh" and he wants to do it again and again and again....

Friday, September 14, 2007

Back from Canada

On Wednesday I drove to Canada to talk at a conferance in Ontario. It was a 7-hour drive and I still got lost even though I took Craig's car with the GPS system. I have trouble trusting "her" when she tells me to turn left and I know better. That would definitely bite me in the bum on the way home! After the conference I went to the University of Guelph to meet with my industry colleagues. The campus was just gorgeous....

Picture above: University of Guelph Johnston Hall.
I had a great time and I love the accent . It's near to British and in fact everyone I met had British ancestors (usually just by 1 generation). I had to revert back to metric during my talks - hard after 8 years in the states, but it came back okay.

I love Canadians because: they're fellow liberals, they sell English chocolate that I can't get in the States (Crunchies, Smarties, Lion Bars, Turkish Delight, Wagon Wheels etc), they are a Commonwealth country so have the Queen's face on money and the roads have the Royal emblem, they like a drink and have a great sense of humor and they are very curteous and good drivers. The driving thing struck me the most as I'm used to the very poor and sometimes obnoxious drivers from Ohio (me included)

Pic: Rainbow Bridge from my car

On the way there I crossed from the USA to Canada via the Peace Bridge but on the way back I got really lost (my fault as I didn't believe my GPS lady) and ended up coming over Rainbow Bridge at Niagara. I LOVE my job. Where else, on a work day, could I lift my camera and take a picture like this one I took today?

Picture: Our lad & monkey

Ahhhhhhhh, HOME to my Craig and Jack. I drove for 8 hours today and did 85 miles/hr whenever I could so I could get home before Jack went to bed at 7.30pm. I called Craig at 7pm when I was about 15 minutes away and he said he was going to give Jack a bath so I was excited about getting home.

I pulled up outside the house, leapt out, got my key in the front door and said "Hello?" I heard Craig say "it's mama!" and then I heard a big splash and a thunk and this little naked boy just RAN to me at the front door. He was soaking wet and all his hair was stuck up and he was grinning from ear to ear. He broke my heart (in a good way).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Jack's Making me Laugh

This is not new to some people but I think it got buried before my English family and friends got a chance to see.

If we're in the house and we hear a car go by and sound it's horn, Craig puts his hand up to wave, like it was meant for us. It's just one of those daft things he's always done but it makes me laugh.

Tonight I was taking some video of Jack & Cody by the front door, and I was trying to make Jack give Cody a cuddle (which he had done earlier as you can see by the photo) and a motorbike went past. Jack really made me laugh. Like father like son....

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Great weekend in West Virginia

On Friday we loaded up the car and motored down to Beckley in West Virginia. It's a 4-hr drive and normally very scenic but by the time we'd stopped for tea and some essentials (i.e. breakfast food & beer) it was dark when we got to the New River Scenic rafting place. Putting up our mammoth tent in the dark is not fun, especially when you're wrestling a baby boy already two hours late for bedtime. Anyway, we got settled and had a couple of beers with Matt & Gina and Craig's friend Tomaz then we hit the hay.

Early Saturday morning, everyone's had coffee and bacon butties and ready to run the UPPER GAULEY. I love this picture. The helmets make them look very special indeed.

The Gauley River is number 2 for white water in the USA, behind the Colorado river. It has class 3 to 5 rapids and it's only open for a few weeks in the fall when they release the Summersville Dam. I didn't join my brave husband and friends for 2 very good reasons: I was taking care of Jack, and I'm too scared! I ran the New River with our friends from England 7 years ago and that was fantastic but one time is more than enough for me.

Craig gives pyjama boy a cuddle before getting on the old school bus.

So, just what DID I do for my solo 8 hours? My plan was to leave Cody in the tent with his food/water and to take Jack into Beckley for the childrens festival. Arrr, I hadn't planned on 95 degree heat & 90% humidity. Couldn't leave Cody. So plan B was to put hot baby (see above) and panting dog in the car and drive with the AC set as high as possible. We went on a meandering trip to the New River Gorge Bridge and walked for a bit and then I went on a new trail one of the rafting guides had told me about that took me down to the river bed, where I took this picture of the amazing bridge. This is where they host Bridge Day each October.

The rest of my day was spent at the campsite feeding and watering Jack & Cody or in the car with them driving around scenic West Virgina to places like Gauley Bridge and Fayetteville - it is just GORGEOUS. One place I drove by that I really wanted to go in was The Mystery Hole but it said I had to leave my pet in the car. That's the kind of place though that I need Craig with me, to enjoy the moment!

Craig & gang got back about 5pm, exhausted and sunburnt. They didn't get flipped out of the boat once and were actually a bit disappointed about that. They now want "more". Their guide was telling them about crazy rapids on the Zambezi in Africa, jokingly I hope, but no doubt Craig will be "YouTubing" it now on his computer. By the way, it seems like "Google it" has become a verb and now maybe "YouTube" will too.

Tonight we are home, tired out (Jack's been up since 6am) and got a house full of dusty grass-covered camping gear but we had a GREAT weekend. I'm so pleased we are taking Jack camping as I want him to love the outdoors.

On a side-note, it was also a good score for the Buckeyes beating Akron 20-2 yesterday, even if they did apparantly have a mediocre performance. Michigan lost again. BIG TIME. I know I should be supporting the Big 10 and not sniggering at their loss but I am. Sorry. Can't help it.

Cody gets his groove on

A couple of weeks ago I was trying, unsuccessfully, to get the house phone off Jack because he knows how to make it ring when Cody just started howling every time it rang. It was so funny I had to post a short video of it.
So, the TV is on, Jack's having a tantrum and Cody's howling like a wolf. It's a good job we have no direct neighbours....

Friday, September 07, 2007

Both boys "in the wars" this week

This is just a quick posting as I'm heading home early for the weekend. Craig is running the Gauley this weekend.
This week has been very stressful. I'm going to Canada soon to give some talks and I'm not ready. Also, both Frank & Jack have had stuff going on.

Last Monday was spent clearing out the laundry room where Frank had been peeing everywhere (ewww). Turns out he has a bladder infection so now he's on antibiotics and I have to get fluid in him, by way of tuna juice -it's a hard life for him I know.

Jack's eczema on the back of his neck got worse, so took him to the Docs last night and now we're on a strict routine of water, anti-histamine lotion and vaseline. Poor lad gets greased up 2-3 times per day. The doc had fun with him though. He looked at Craig and I and said "Jack is 50% cute and 50% ornery" - I think he was trying to be funny but it certainly sums our lad up.
Have a great weekend everyone. More soon.........


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Number 33 is a Hit with the Girls

Today was the first Buckeye game of the season - first off we went to Matt & Gina's tailgate. They have an rv and tailgate the home games. They're going to sell it though - so this was the first and last "Mini-Wini" tailgate of the season!

This car was parked next to them. What an amazing tribute to the Buckeyes. I mean seriously, the person that owns this has to be just a little bit insane.

The girls! Gina (second from left) was having her bachelorette party today and started off at the tailgate. Not to be confused with my friend Gina, who's holding Jack. Another friend of ours, Christina (4th from right on back row) was in from Arizona. Bachelorette Gina had a t-shirt on listing all the things she had to do during her day. I think "getting spanked by an old man" was my particular favourite. In the picture she's wearing a veil and devil horns!

Jack in his number 33 jersey. All the girls went crazy for him! When I left for the game he spent the day with his dad and they had a GREAT time. Jack is really becomming social and fun to be around. Oh, and he's wearing his Thomas the Tank shoes that light up when he walks.

The Michigan doll. This image even more sweet after number 5 in the nation Michigan got beat today by a small team. HA HA (as Nelson would say)

And finally me at the game. And we won 38-6. And I got to see the new Buckeyes and the weather was perfect and I got to spend quality time with my boss. But it was just AWFUL seeing the plastic grass and smelling the rubber infill. There's nothing so beautiful as watching a game on natural grass. I have to get over this....