Thursday, January 31, 2008

Weight Watchers & Wind

The two titles aren't related, in case you were worried.

Well, today I joined WW, which I have fought for years. Even when friends around me have lost loads of weight and swear by the method I've always thought I was too busy to count points. The thought of being so finnicky as to measure out cheese gives me the shivers. I've relented because I'm ready for a life-style change and I think this might be the program that teaches me about food and portions and how to eat properly. Weighing myself in front of 30 women was a bit daunting but they all stayed respectfully at a distance and pretended to inspect their nails when I got on the scale. I weighed more than I thought and even had a moment of indignance (huh! her scales must be wrong) but now I've got used to the idea and I'm ready to get going. Thankfully, beer is not out of the question. If I drink light beer (and I found an Amber light beer that doesn't taste like knat's pee) then it's only 2 points, so if I store points I can really go crazy on weekends!
If all else fails, I'll buy one of these mirrors from Wallmart.....


Now - about the wind. On Tuesday night, and indeed forecast for tonight, the wind was ferocious. When I was a child I would lie in bed listening to the wind and I would feel snug and secure. Even though we lived next to a small wood I always just felt safe, and I actually used to enjoy the sounds. On Tuesday night I woke up as the wind was battering against the windows and I thought "the trees next to the house will fall and kill us, a branch will fall on the house and smash it up, do we have "wind" insurance"? I must call our insurance agent in the morning and find out. What's his number? Mmmm, can't remember now, but think it's written down. Arghhh, what was that? Oh God, a branch has snapped. And so it went on and on and on... for a couple of hours until I must have been so exhausted I fell asleep. What a difference "responsibility" makes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Play-date, New Teeth & Healthy Living

Todd & Kelli brought Hannah over on Saturday for a play-date with Jack. She is 1 year and 1 week older than Jack & she is a daredevil - at Jack's 1st birthday party last summer she dived right in the paddling pool with her posh party frock on!

Poor Jack was teething this weekend, hence the rosy cheeks and lack of sleep, which is obviously not depicted in the picture, but take it from me, he screamed bloody murder. He's got at least 8 teeth now - I'm not sure on the exact number because checking invariably ends up with him chomping on my finger, very hard.

Yes, that's Jack's old doggy Halloween outfit from last year - he wants to wear it all the time and it's very cute so I'm not going to discourage him.

He's starting to love bikes and his little tractor and anything he can scoot about on. I can't wait for warmer weather so I can get him outside. I've got cabin fever.

Lastly, you'll notice I labelled this post "healthy living" - those of you that know me outside of this blog know that isn't a word you would use to describe my lifestyle. In fact if the old adage is true, and we are in fact "what we eat" then I am a box of red wine and a big lump of cheese. BUT no more! We are going to attempt a lifestyle change that involves much less alcohol, less crap food and a more active life. Watch this space -hopefully for a new improved me, and not absolute failure.

The Magic of Letters

Here's the newest picture of my great-nephew, AJ. I got it with a lovely letter from my niece Gemma this week.

She said she'll be on the Internet soon so I'm sure lots more pictures will follow. It's so nice to get real letters in the mail though. When I lift up the mailbox lid and see a personal letter in there I get a little warm glow about me. I know we're all busy and it takes time to write and mail a letter but they're so much nicer than an e-mail. I keep most of them too, especially the ones mailed to Jack.

When I was younger, my mum would force me to sit and write "thank you" notes to aunties and uncles. I even used to get stationary packs for Christmas and birthdays, so I had no excuse not to write them. At the time I thought it was a chore but now I appreciate how much they meant to people. Of course Craig never writes to people - I even sometimes have to force him to sign a card. I hope Jack likes to write. If not, I'll have to sit him down and force him, like my mum did to me!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Top Tip!

I have a "top tip" I have to share. I might be setting myself up for ridicule as you may already know this, but just in case there is one ignoramus out there I'm going to tell you about it.

For YEARS I have had scummy and dirty oven pans - you know, the grill pan that comes with the cooker when you buy it? No amount of scrubbing ever gets it clean. Eventually I give up and start covering it with foil to make it look presentable.

I came home from work this week and there it sat, on the kitchen surface, looking brand new and shiny! I looked at Craig and said "how on EARTH did you get that thing clean?"

And he said "I left it in the oven when I put the oven on the self-clean cycle and that's how it came out" *


Like I said, you probably already know this and think I'm now more of an idiot that you did before, but I just had to share it.

*Disclaimer: I am not responsible if your oven, and then per chance, your house, sets on fire.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jack is Gert Lush!

Our friend Skully sent Jack a t-shirt this week. Skully has been a friend for many years and has been to visit us here.

When Jack was born she started writing to him - sending him funny postcards from places she's visited and sending him little gifts. She (and boyfriend Darren) made a long trip from Bristol to see us when we went home too. And she bought Jack a lovely CD collection of traditional English nursery rhymes for Christmas. Needless to say, she one of our closest and fun friends.

So, here he is in his new shirt. I'm posting a couple of pictures and a short video*. His new word this week is "t-shirt" - how apt!

"Gert Lush" in Bristol-speak (Brissle? Bristolian? Bristololoian? Bristalite? Bristalage?) means "Very Gorgeous". I know I'm his mummy & I'm totally biased but I would have to agree!

* I finally worked out that my camera settings are too high and therefore I can't upload videos to this site or YouTube until I shrink the video. I downloaded some free software tonight just so I could get this vid uploaded. I'll sort my camera settings out later when I can face reading the manual!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We got "IPTV"

Craig works in the IT industry. As such, we have all kinds of telly, DVD, and cable equipment all over the house. We have 2 tellys, at least 6 TV remotes, a complicated (and currently redundant) music system, a great iPod music system, and surround sound.

If Craig ran off to join the gypsies tomorrow I wouldn't have a clue how any of it worked. Sometimes he falls alseep on a Saturday night and the DVD we watched is finished and I have no idea how to make the telly go back to normal channels. This is either a testament to his IT genius or my total lack of IT skills - I'm not sure which.

Today we took it to a whole new level. We are now "IPTV", which stands for "Internet P'blah-blah Television" or something like that. In essence, it means our phone service, telly/cable and internet are now all competely offered over the internet.

We now have 300 channels (including BBC America, Sky Sports & Big 10 Network), a DVR to record shows, "picture in picture" options and an interactive Yellowpages that is set up for our zipcode, oh yeah, and interactive games.

I must say, the picture quality is much better than anything we had before. I also know that I'll love the DVR to record sports events. I like the idea of everything fast and efficient and only 1 bill (right now though we'll still get 2 bills - one for phone, one for everything else). This is a great thing.

I just hope Craig doesn't get the "gypsy urge" anytime soon.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"I am Legend" was FAB

I went on a movie date today with Craig.

We went to see "I am legend" at the IMAX theatre, which was FABULOUS. It was the most suspenseful film I've seen in years. At one point I was hiding behind my fingers and it was a rollercoaster of emotions. Anyway, we both loved it a lot.

Great movie.

Here's the trailer from You Tube:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Warranted or Wet Lettuce?

At my conference this week there were 2 incidences where I was uncomfortable.

The first was on the trade show floor when I went to a booth to talk to the guys there and two hired-in "hotties" were there (blonde attractive women wearing short-shorts and boob-tubes). The second was at a hospitality party and same thing, only this time they were "Hooters" girls (English friends - you'll have to Google that one).

There's only a handful of women in my industry and I felt it was a bit disrespectful to have these hired-in hotties at a conference when we are trying to be respected & treated as an equal by our male peers.

I'm a liberal person, very open minded. But this bothered me.

So the question is, am I justified for feeling like this or am I being a big wet lettuce?

Finally Back from Travels

I just got back from Arizona and that's IT - no more travelling for a while, hopefully. Being away from Craig and Jack was hard. We aren't the kind of couple that can be apart for any length of time and be okay with it, especially since we've had Jack. I appreciate people that can go on business trips and conferences for weeks on end and not mind being away and I'm probaby a bit wet - but I'm a homebody I guess. Coming through the security gate last night and seeing them both stood there was just great. I have been giving far too many hugs and kisses to Jack ever since - poor boy.

I took this shot from my window seat as we were coming into the Phoenix area. The desert just always amazes me! We had been flying for about 1,000 miles over desert and gorges with no one in sight. We also flew over the Rio Grande. The lady I sat next to was from New Mexico and she gave me some great travel ideas about Santa Fe and Taos and the Chiricahua Mountains where they have tons of hummingbirds (oh, and rattlesnakes).

While in Phoenix I got to have dinner with an ex-student who lives there now. She took me to Cooperstown - a restaurant owned by Alice Cooper. All the waiters wore the eye make-up too which was pretty funny.

So all-in-all, a good time but I'm happy to be home with the family....

I've Finished Three Cups of Tea

I just finished the book "Three Cups of Tea" about Greg Mortenson and I feel compelled to write something here about it.

Greg was a climber that got lost coming off K2 in Pakistan and he ended up in a remote village where they nursed him back to health. He promised to go back and build them a school and he does. He then goes on to build numerous schools in the region, particularly for girls.

His philosophy on life and his commitment to what he is doing is amazing. I really do hope he gets the Nobel Peace Prize one day.

Anyway, please read it if you can as it gives you a much better perspective on how we should be tackling the "war on terror" and it makes you feel empathy for the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Greg is the Exec. Director of the Central Asia Institute if any of you feel you'd like to make a donation.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Uppy-Downy Week

UP: We're trying to teach Jack words, numbers, animals etc. but he's too busy destroying the house. This morning I went into his bedroom and said my usual "good morning" and he said "good morning" back.

DOWN: My resolution to live a healthier life would be so much easier if wine was an illegal substance.

UP: My other resolution, to recycle, is going marvelously! Instead of humping a huge trash can to the sidewalk each week, I only 1/4 fill it. And I've started to recycle at work. My only sin? Diapers/nappies. Please don't leave a comment about it as I know it's bad and I hate doing it but there's no way I'm dealing with soiled cloth nappies. I'm just not.

DOWN: Footprints in the snow today from the parking lot near our house, across our plants, into our garden and to our AC unit that sits between 2 windows. Were they "casing the joint" to see if they could stand on the AC unit and get through a window? Were they seeing if the AC was worth stealing for scrap? Was it some electric guy checking out the meter?

UP: Craig got home from the supermarket tonight & said "I've bought lamb and a bottle of Chianti Classico because I know it's your favourite dinner".

DOWN: I've been traveling too much this past week. I love my job but hate being away from Craig & Jack and it gets worse as Jack's interacting with me more. As much as I love it when he gets excited when I get home, I love it more spending time with him and I miss them both madly. I could never be a travelling salesman or astronaut!

UP: Laurinaitis, Robiski, & Jenkins are staying another year! Laurinaitus would have got picked up by the NFL and been a millionaire by the autumn, but bless him, he's staying with us to try and get it done. I love my Buckeyes.

DOWN: The weather sucks. On Monday we'll have a low temp of 6 F (- 14 C)

UP: E-mails and phone calls from family and friends, no one is sick, everyone's okay. Life is good.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Sunshine Kid

Today was GORGEOUS - a tad cold but we had a bright blue, sunny sky. Perfect for outdoor fun. I try to get Jack outside as much as possible without subjecting him to hypothermia. Here's some pictures from our trip to the park...

New reins, courtesy of Wallymart for $5. Sue & Lee - I'll mail yours back this week, thanks for letting us borrow yours!

Two Poems Worth Sharing

When I was in England my friend Sue had a framed picture in her kitchen of her son's handprints, with the following verse. I've typed it out ready to get Jack's handprints then I can do the same:

There used to be so many of my fingerprints to see
On furniture & walls & things from sticky, grubby me

But if you stop & think awhile you’ll see I’m growing fast
Those little handprints will disappear; you can’t bring back what’s passed

So here’s a small reminder to keep, not throw away
Of tiny hands and how they looked, to make you smile each day


I also just read a lovely poem tonight on Mousie's blog that makes you stop and wonder if you are leading a good life. Makes you want to strive to be a better person.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My Tips for Travelling with Toddlers

Having recently gone through a 50-hour return trip from hell with our toddler, I wanted to share my tips for how I could have made flying much better. Hopefully this will help at least one parent out there...

1. If the child is under 2, pay the extra cash and buy a seat. When they say that a "lap" child costs only 10% of the regular ticket price, they don't tell you about airport and landing taxes. It ended up costing us $266 for Jack to sit on our knees for 8 hours crying, squirming, and being pushed by the inconsiderate jerk in front that put his seat back.

2. Even though it would be a pain in the rear to lug about - take a stroller. Really - that is one of our number 1 regrets. During all those delays, and even waiting at the gate for an hour to board, it would have provided a place for Jack to sit &/or sleep. I could have settled him in the stroller with a blanket, instead of carrying him in my arms, crying his heart out with tiredness. It's really that important folks - take the stroller!

3. Pack LOADS of toys that you know will occupy for a while. I eventually resorted to my mobile phone that he loves - see picture above of Jack's exhausted little face, after 17 hours of travel.

4. Pack loads of snacks in the hope that they will entertain when the toys get boring

5. Have toddler reins handy (again, see picture). Our friends lent us a pair for the way home and they were a life-saver. Having Jack on a 3 foot leash meant we could stand in line for hours and walk about the airport without constantly running after him, like we did on the outward journey.

6. Don't carry big bulky coats as carry-ons. Having to deal with 2 bags, Jack, and two heavy coats was a nuisance. I nearly put my coat in the trash at one point! Realistically, you're always in heated areas, so why carry a coat?

7. ASK for stuff if the flight is delayed or cancelled - they do not generally offer these things but will give them to you if you ask. For example, when we asked for meal vouchers they first said "no", then I exploded explained the situation and they relented. When we got to the hotel and went to the restaurant for dinner, all the other customers had them too! Anyway, as far as the free stuff they gave us - we got a hotel room, meal vouchers, diapers (yes, baggage claim give you diapers) and a personal care package each that included toothbrush & paste, deodorant, comb, shampoo & conditioner, lotion and cologne. The care package was lovely and I nearly cried with gratefulness when the lady gave them to us - not having brushed my teeth for so long I felt like a yeti.

8. Lastly, DO NOT use the care package cologne. I thought it was perfume so splashed it all over myself. Craig thought it might make his 3-day old socks smell better. The result? We spent our final leg of the journey smelling like a couple of dirty old hookers.

Buckeyes Lost

The Buckeyes lost to Louisiana State University 38-24 in the BCS National Championship game on Monday. The heartbreak is slightly less than last year and I'm not sure if that's because I was more ready for it, or if they didn't get quite as spanked this time around.

I'm not going to analyse and dissect the game as everyone has been doing these last 2 days. As upset and baffled and disappointed as I am (I'd be lying if I said otherwise) my main hurt is for our seniors.

I watched the local news as they landed back at Columbus airport. Only about 30 people were there to greet them, to cheer for them and welcome them home. It was heartbreaking to watch. I suppose we could have gone over there and cheered for them too, but I never think of it until I see it on the news.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A Weekend for Jack & Baby (AJ?)

My Great Nephew was born last night at 9.15pm GMT in Manchester, England. He weighed 6 lbs, 2 oz, he has an elf-like face and gorgeous big blue eyes. His mum, my niece Gemma, is doing great. She was a trooper and had no epidural, even talked to me on the phone between 3 minute contractions! Ahhhhh, to be young and fearless.

Gemma and Anthony and baby. Gemma likes the name Anthony John (AJ) after his dad. Anthony doesn't like it, so baby is currently nameless. Craig said their faces in this picture say "Okay, what do we do now?" I know that's what we felt like and were quite astounded that they let us leave the hospital with a newborn when we had no idea what we were doing. Anyway, I'm so pleased he's here and Gemma's okay.


Our weekend was dedicated to having fun with Jack, who's been ill now for 2 weeks. Today he seemed better so we took him to the zoo. It was GREAT - really quiet so we could just mooch around and really see the animals without thousands of people all trying to do the same. The lady in the gorilla house also spent about 30 minutes telling us all about them and their personalities. I learnt many things, including never to have my eyes higher than theirs, apparently that really bothers them. We squat down in front of an old fella who was nearly 50 and watched him scratch his chin for a while and look at us with interest. They have the most amazing eyes!

Jack and the leopard. If you right-click on this picture you'll see I labelled it "jaguar". I was having a blonde moment obviously.

Seahorses just amaze me. How can a fish look so much like a horse?

On the beloved ride - the old carousel. Look at his face! He LOVES this every time we take him on it. I can't wait to get him pony lessons. I wonder how old you have to be?
Yesterday (sorry, pix aren't in chronological order) we took him to COSI - a science place with lots of fun stuff and a kiddie play room. I love this picture. Both Jack and his dad have the most gorgeous blue eyes. Mine are green so Jack takes after his dad in that respect. He does have my blonde hair though and Lancashire rosy cheeks!


Tomorrow night is the BIG night.

Ohio State play LSU for the NCAA National Title. Jan, Eric and Dave are coming over to watch it on our big telly in the basement. I'm dead nervous. I think it's all up to Boeckman. Craig thinks it'll be down to the defense.

Matt & Gina have been in New Orleans since last Thursday and have been texting me with all the funny stuff going on down there. They said Bourbon Street is teaming with Buckeye fans, all having a blast. Ohhh, I hope those fans are celebrating tomorrow.

If we win, I'll post on Tuesday. If we lose I'll post when I can bear to talk about it.



Lastly & quickly - this was blog post number 301! I meant to say that at post 300 but forgot - did I mention I was blonde?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Jack's 18 Months Old

Jack's 18 month Docs appointment was today. There was some highlights, some funny moments and some good info. Here's a quick synopsis, just for the record, so that when I'm old and senile I can come back on here and re-live the moment...

He's skinny (24lb 8oz and in the 30th %'ile)

He's tall (33.25 inches and in the 75th %'ile)

He has a big head (95th %'ile)

Every time the Doc used his stethoscope Jack grabbed the other end, put it to his ear and said "hello?"

He spent the entire time trying to climb the ladder, throw shoes, open drawers, mess with the Docs equipment & open the door. The Doc said at least twice - "he's a live wire!" I hope he meant it, and not "your child has major issues lady!"

Doc also said, at least twice - Jack has a great complexion, a great temperament, is healthy.

Doc said we could try him on chewy vitamins, seeing as he has a cold. We did, tonight. He gave it to the dog.

Doc said "does Jack know when he's 'gone?'" (you know, number 2). I said yes! Just recently he started telling me! Doc said buy a potty and start. So we did. As you can see from the picture above, it might be a long and arduous road to pottyville.

Gem & Anthony are in Labor!

I'm going to be a Great Auntie. I'm not being an egotistical idiot - I mean I literally AM going to be a Great Auntie - TONIGHT!!!!

My niece & Goddaughter Gemma is currently in labour and I'm on pins. I've called all the family. I've even called the hospital in England (because they have nothing better to do than answer the phone, right?).

I will post an update when he (AJ) gets here. Twiddle thumbs, twiddle thumbs, twiddle thumbs........

A Fool & Her Money are Easily Parted

During our England trip I saw this Boon Frog Pod on my friend Sue's bathroom wall and just HAD to have one. I thought "no one in America will have one!" I had visions of mummy friends coming over to the house and "ooo-ing and "ahhh-ing" at it's fabulousness and uniqueness.

Sue drove me to Argos, finding out they only had one left in the whole store! It was fate! It cost 25 pounds ($50) but I really wanted it. I was even quite forthright with Craig when he rolled his eyes at the price.

I was determined to bring it home & even forfeited some presents so that it would fit in my case. Since I got home I've held it up in the bathroom and even planned our whole bathroom renovation around it.

I just got back from Target. They have them. For $25.

Craig looked me, grinning.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

And so it is 2008, marking nine years we've lived in the States.

I'm thankful Christmas & New Years is over to be honest and I'm still struggling to shake this dark cloud over me but hoping work will help now the holidays are over. If I had to stay home much longer I'd get seriously sad and probably weigh 20 stone (280 lbs).

Last night we were supposed to go to a party at Eric & Dave's but our lad was ill with a temp of 101, coughs and terrible congestion. Once we got him to bed we watched "Superbad" which was funny and just the tonic I needed. McLovin was my favourite character and I loved his friendship with the cops. Anyhoo, today Jack seems much better but I've spent the last 24 hours wiping his nose every 10 minutes and the poor lad looks like Rudolph.

We did at least get to see Char & Jan this past weekend and spend our usual drinking & putting the world to rights evening with them. Char has now gone back to California so Jan is a little lost & sad. January is such a crap month I tell you!

Finally, I made 3 New Years resolutions and I've already started one of them:

1. Lose weight

2. Pay off (some) debt

3. Start recycling

Of course I started number 3 - the easiest!

Anyway, Happy New Year to everyone. I hope 2008 is a great year for us all.