Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Baby, a Wedding, a Birthday

Our friends Brian & Emily welcomed their son, David, into the world on Thursday. They are both obviously over the moon about it. It's made me very broody. Very very broody. Watch this space (maybe).

Our dear friends Char & Jan got hitched! Can you believe the buggers did this without us? Yesterday in sunny California they did the domestic partner ceremony thing and then they put a bid down on a house, which looks fantastic. I'm sad their leaving us but so happy for them on this new adventure.

It's my birthday weekend. Thirty nine tomorrow. One more year of flirty-thirty. I'm not sad getting older and I've never been one of those people that cries when they reach a milestone. I've loved every year of my life so far and I have a feeling this one's going to be great. How am I spending my birthday? Gardening, socialising with friends and playing with Craig & Jack - perfect!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Perfect Home Landing

I'm going to be working late for a while, which is okay as I love my job, but it means I have to sacrifice precious hours with my family.

I got home tonight just as Jack had gone to bed, so I snook into his room to say goodnight and give him a kiss. He was laid down on his back with his blanket pulled up to his chest. Now that he's in a toddler bed I can kneel next to him and no longer have to lean over his crib rail and try to kiss him while trying not to cut myself in two at the midriff. So, I knelt next to him and told him I loved him and stroked his hair and he wrapped his little fingers around my necklace and whispered "ooooooo" as if he was touching the crown jewels themselves. I sung him a lullaby and he said "nigh nigh" back to me. Ahh, lovely.

I'm feeling really good as I leave his bedroom & I discover that Craig has cooked me a curry for dinner (my favorite) and it's only about 4 WW points (even better).

Then, I mean can it get better?, I sit down with my curry and watch my mind-numbing, stress-relieving show "American Idol". I'm not so drawn in yet that I voted but I do know all the names now and can offer an educated opinion on the performances. I shall leave that till tomorrow though, when I can discuss the whole thing in great detail with my equally sad boss.

Actually, tonight could have been better if Craig had sat with me but he escaped to the basement to play his PS 3. You can't have it all I suppose.

Baby Watch!

It's official - I'm on baby-watch.

My friend Emily is currently 3cm dilated (sorry if that's TMI) and the due date is tomorrow.

I'm trying to send her "good labour" vibes right now, although having had a c-section myself they probably aren't too helpful. It's the thought that counts though right.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Another Milestone for Jack

Jack's gone through some kind of metamorphosis this week. He's talking loads more and saying all kinds of new words (door, window, outside, dog, cat, wellie and butterfly to name a few). He's also started having the most obnoxious tantrums. Like clockwork, these tantrums are thrown whenever he wants to go outside or we try and bring him inside after playing in the garden. He can be freezing cold and he'll still throw a fit when I bring him in. He stood by the back door, crying as loud as he could shouting "no" for about 10 minutes on Saturday, just because I brought him in for dinner. It was exhausting to watch and no amount of cajoling or trying to play would bring him out of it. In the end, I just have to ignore him till he stops. I know he's a normal toddler - I just wasn't expecting the whole tantrum thing to be so frustrating.

Happy as Larry outside in the garden. It's a good job we like to spend our weekends outside too as taking him into the house results in catastrophic meltdown.

The BIG milestone for Jack this weekend - transition from crib to toddler bed! We didn't do this because we had nothing better to do this weekend. We did it because I literally caught him climbing out of his crib and about to launch himself off the rails, Superman style.

He didn't have the reaction to his crib liberation that I thought he would. I thought he'd be up all night playing and never get in his bed, or fall asleep somewhere weird, like the wardrobe or floor. As it happens, he was terrified to be left alone with it. Something about it just scared him to death and it took us a long time last night to soothe him to sleep. It makes sense to me that going from a big old safe crib to an open bed would be a tad scary. Anyhow, today he had his afternoon nap okay and so far he's gone down tonight really well. I heard him playing but Craig checked in and he'd got back in bed to sleep.

He might be in a toddler bed now but he's still just a babe and he looks so small in the bed that it makes my heart ache. It's better than Superman stunts though.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wise Old Bugger

Years ago, when I got my degree my mum was so proud. She came to the ceremony and she gave me "wise old owl" that she had knitted. I had flu that day and I really wanted to party but ended up just going home to bed. I never really looked at owl. Never cared about him really.

When we emigrated to the USA in 99 we only brought 2 bags each. We had a house back in the UK so you can imagine what a nightmare it was to only have 2 bags to bring your precious things. We stored some , gave most away. Craig was finding minuscule pores of space in the suitcase and shoving in a spoon -it was that desperate!

Anyway, owl was one of the precious things that came in my bag and he has been here gathering dust for 9 years, until today.

When I was clearing out a room tonight I really looked at him, and the details that went into him - he has the graduating cap & tassel, diploma and dickie-bow. I sat for a long time in the spare room with owl, wishing I could have rung my mum (but it's 4am in England) and told her how much I appreciate Mr. Owl. And Her. I love you mum.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Snowdrops & Jicamas

Happy Spring Everyone!

Finally, after several weeks of crappy weather we have snowdrops - yea! Saw them on our daily walk which must happen or Jack has a meltdown from hell. Tonight he was so impatient to get out he flung his dinner across the room, which resulted in him having his first "time out". We left him in his chair to think about it while we ate dinner in the living room. Anyway, he's 2 soon so I'm sure there's more of that coming. If any parents out there would like to give me survival tips for the next 2 years, please feel free. But hey, who can blame the little guy? He sits in a basement room for 8 hours a day, which leads me to my next blurb.....

We've made the decision, enrolled in a new day care center and told his current place that he's leaving. Big sigh of relief for us as we've been tormenting ourselves all week and flip-flopping between 2 choices. I'm very happy with the choice we made and can't wait to get him there.

His current lady was a bit miffed and I felt bad telling her, very bad actually. British people have a ridiculous need to be nice to everyone and absolutely never hurt people's feelings. Even if those people have been consciously rude or hurtful to us - we still worry ourselves to death about saying anything to them. I'm proud of the fact that we're polite, but wish I wasn't such a doormat sometimes. I mean - I asked Jack's babysitter nicely at least a month ago to tell me more about his day with her and she hasn't. Not even attempted to - just blew me off. So, big raspberries to her. I say this on my blog of course and not to her face (as I said, ridiculous).


WW is going GREAT. I've lost 20 lbs and Craig's lost a whopping 34. He's started sorting through his stuff and actually throwing clothes away. This is a huge feat for my husband who's a horrid hoarder. He keeps clothes from 15 years ago and I won't even mention the piles of wires and metal and electronic rubbish he refuses to chuck from the basement. It must be a male thing, because behind every woman I know is a man hoarding rubbish.

Part of my WW thing is to eat lots of veggies. Emily's friend, Jen, suggested I try Jicama (above) so I did. It's a Mexican turnip that you peel and cut into chunks or slices and eat raw, or add to soups and such. I'm not a cook so don't know about those kinds of things. They could be used instead of chips with a dip or just munched on as a snack. Because it's a veggie it carries no points value, so it's great for me. It has a texture like water chestnut or apple - very light and crisp. And it has a slightly sweet kick. If you can get hold of one, try some, it's yummy. By the way, being Spanish, it's pronounced "hicama", not "jeecama" as I unknowingly said to the supermarket lady.


Lastly ..... I didn't want to do it this year. I really didn't. But I watched this week and now I'm as hooked as I am each year and I'll be glued to this thing now, and calling up to vote and talking about it at work with my secret AI pals. Yes, I'm talking about American Idol. When I told Craig last night that I've been sucked back in, he drew his breath between his teeth and said he'd watch TV in bed, rather than watch it with me in the living room. When it ended I went in there and he's watching some show about a guy who travels all over the world trying to prove that Big Foot, or the Wild Man of Borneo or Loch Ness exists. I think we all need some mind-numbing entertainment sometimes don''t we. SO, back to business. Who's my AI favourite? It has to be David Archuleta. He's 17 years old, from Utah, & he's got a fair set of pipes on him..........

Monday, March 17, 2008

Child Care Update: Hideous Parents

It has been a peculiar day. I'm typing a quick post before I head off to bed as I feel shattered and I have a pain between my shoulder blades that I only get after a day like today.

It started off so exciting - putting Jack in a new child care place for a day - just to try it out. I really like the woman who owns it. She has big plans and I felt like it's something we could jump in to and grow with her and get involved. It's a new venture for this woman, who's a lawyer by profession.

We arrive at Day Care X which also caters for kids from families that get care paid for by the state. I knew this going in and I was a tad apprehensive about it but the owner assured me she only accepts kids that fit in together. I also want Jack to grow in a diverse environment where he doesn't just hang around with privileged kids. Craig and I were both brought up working class and didn't have much growing up but hey, it builds character.

Maybe I've become sheltered in my outlook on life. Maybe I'm just getting older and more sensitive. Whatever it is, some of the kids there this morning were scary and the thought of leaving Jack with them terrified me. In just 30 minutes of me being there, one little boy hit 2 other kids, right in the face. Another little girl had been dropped off by her mum with a horrendous runny nose. Her mum didn't even hang around to sooth her screaming, crying child. Just dumped and ran, shouting over her shoulder "stop crying, I'll be back later". The owner told me a lot of the parents are like this - just want them out of their hair for the day. When she tries to call them and talk about problems or discipline, they don't show any interest. It's a shame there isn't some way of making sure parents know what the word nurture means before allowing them to have kids. So anyway, it was horrid. Just horrid.

I left to go to work (& Jack cried his heart out) but after a while I called Craig and told him I was going back, so did what I needed to at work, okay'd it with my boss and went back to get Jack and take him home. The owner talked to me at my car for about 30 minutes as I was leaving. I tried to be really honest with her without being rude or hurtful. She has big plans and like I said, I like her a lot. But can she do all she's saying she can? Can she make it a safe, enjoyable learning environment where the kids don't have major behavioral problems and the parents actually care? If we go to this place it will be a huge leap of faith - based on our confidence in this woman's ability to turn it around. She has a new director starting next week - an English teacher who's equally excited about the new place. We've talked tonight and said we'll go back in 2 weeks and see it again. Maybe.

So all in all, a stressful day. A day spent knowing Jack was crying and upset in a strange environment. A day wondering if he was being hit by the other kids. An unproductive day for work and one I'll have to make up.

The sunny side of today? I got to spend an afternoon with Jack. We did a spot of gardening together and had fun outside. He just loves to potter about in his wellies and the new gardening gloves I got him, which he insists on wearing all the time (see picture above).

Next, we're going to tour another child care place this week, so I'm sure the saga will continue. Thankfully we aren't desperate to move right away but can make sure it's right for us all before we take the leap.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Living with His Lordship

I went into Jack's room this morning at 6am to change his nappy & give him some warm milk as he sometimes goes back to sleep for a couple of glorious hours. He didn't want his milk, so I left it on the shelf next to his crib where he can reach it if he wants it.

I climbed back in bed ahhhhhhh, hopefully for another hour at least. After a few minutes Jack starts crying & howling so Craig sighs and trundles off to see what's wrong. He opens Jack's door. Jack's lying there, looks at his dad, points to the shelf and says "bottle!"

As you can see, he's got me and his dad exactly where he wants us.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pampered Pooch

My vet informs me that Cody's teeth need cleaning. Not just a quick scrub with some beef favoured toothpaste and an old brush of Craig's though. This would involve a full day at the clinic, being knocked out with anaesthetic, followed by laser treatment, high polish and a quick nail trim while they're at it. All for the bargain price of $300.

I'm not trying to be cheap here - but three hundred dollars to get his freaking teeth cleaned! Are you kidding me? Can't I put whiskey in his bowl and do it myself? (PETA, I'm joking).

Okay, I'm not spending (and don't have) $300 to have his pearly whites made more pearly white. I'm also not going to subject him to the risky business of anaesthesia when I read horror stories of dogs not waking up.

Anyone done this themselves or got any good tips, other than my first suggestion?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Child Care & Cream Eggs

For a couple of weeks now we've been trying to navigate our way through the child care minefield. We like his current carer a lot, we really do. She's nice to him and he's safe, fed and happy. There's 4 other kids there from baby to 3, so he has friends his age to mingle with. Having him in a basement room all day isn't ideal but once the weather breaks (please mother nature cooperate!) he'll get to play outside.

You're already saying to yourself "get a grip woman, it sounds like a great set-up". And it would be if it were not for one thing. She won't tell us anything. Literally anything. I have no idea from 8am-5pm what he does. He never brings home crafts or half eaten food or anything. I plucked up the courage to talk to her last week and I said I wanted to know more and she told me he's fine, that she'll let me know if there's any problems. But I want to know if he's slept okay, what food he likes, who his friend is, if he said a new word, if he likes to dance....

Craig and I have talked this to death. We know we get what we pay for. We know she has 5 kids to keep safe and happy and it isn't her job to be Jack's teacher. But we want him to be in a stimulating environment, where he gets to do stuff - not sit in a basement and watch Noggin.

We've asked ourselves, at Jack's age (20 months), is it enough that he's safe and fed and content, or should he be stimulated and around other kids and running around like a lunatic? I already know the answer, I just hate the thought of hurting his carer's feelings.

And so, we've been checking out day care centres - somewhere with a plan for the day, where he'll get to play games and dance and learn from his peers. We'll keep you posted.


Before my mum knew I was on WW, she sent us a humongous box of English chocolate. English chocolate is just the best. It makes my mouth melt just to think of it. It's been sat in a compartment in the fridge for a couple of weeks now and as Craig so rightly puts it, it's like having crack in the house.
Our little lad can consume all he wants though, so he's been spoiled with Wagon Wheels and Milk Chocolate Buttons and today - his very first Cadburys Cream Egg! I know Easter's still a couple of weeks off, but having your first cream egg just has to be a picture moment.

Mmmm, dad what's this?

And it's got stuff in the middle!

And it's gone
Finally, congratulations to Emily's friend, Kelsey, who had a little boy, Michael, last night. We've all been watching her blog with baited breath but he's here and they're doing fine.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Party for Char

Last night we had a party. Char was in from Bakersfield after taking the California Bar last week so we all gathered at our house to see her. Our friends are so understanding of the fact that we need to get Jack in bed but don't want to miss the party! If we have to go to someone else's house we have to leave by 7.30 or 8.00pm. The horrendous snow storm meant that 4 people couldn't come but 5 did and we had a good time. Jim brought a new food item - figs stuffed with goat's cheese and wrapped in posh-sounding bacon - everybody loved them but I was good and didn't have one (I saved my WW points for wine).

The original Famous Five. I called Jan at 5pm and said I'd make the spare room up, in case they stayed over. You know, with all the best intentions in the world, we do tend to erm, partake in a little too much fun juice for them to drive home afterwards. She said "no, really, NO. We have to be on the road early to go to my parents for my mom's birthday". I said okay, thinking I should just make it up anyway. SO, they got up about 7.45am this morning, feeling like hell if I am any kind of gauge, and it took them 5 hours to drive to Jan's mom's house. They got there safe but probably muttered "we're never partying with Pam & Craig again" at least 100 times during the trip. I know this because we do the same after a night with them.

I put Jack down for his nap today and I was amazed how QUIET he was. He usually babbles for about an hour before he falls off. When he woke a couple of hours later this is what I found. Nappy was on the floor (clean thankfully) along with pants and socks and he was grinning at me. He's a cheeky little bugger and making me laugh a lot these days.

Last night at the party he was a little star, playing with everyone and dancing and having a ball. At bedtime he went to every single person and gave them a kiss goodnight. He's such a good tempered child and never cries unless he has reason. I'm touching wood right now, because I know I'm lucky.

Feet of Fluffy Stuff

It started snowing yesterday at noon and hasn't stopped yet. So far we've got about 1.5 ft. accumulation. I had to literally dig my way out of the door so that Cody could "go". He's a big wimp at the best of times so trying to get him to wade through snow up to his belly was impossible.

A hairy trip to the supermarket (thank God we have 4 wheel drive) yielded all kinds of interesting sites - including a stuck bus and I think the next town up was closed off!

18 inches and still falling....

Pictures of AJ at 2 Months

My niece and Goddaughter, Gemma, is now on the Internet - Yea! That means I get to see loads of pictures of my great-nephew, AJ. Here's a few to start with...

I remember those days!

AJ at 2 months old - what a cutie

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Wibble Wobble

I was telling someone this week which songs Jack likes, including "Jelly on a plate" - which I think must be an English song. So, I found a version on YouTube that I'd love to share with you all. The little boy who sings it is such a character!

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Ohio Primary Vote

It's a big day in Ohio tomorrow as the people get to vote in the Primary election. The Republican nominee is McCain, but the issue now is the Democratic choice between Hilary Clinton & Barack Obama.

Craig and I can't vote but nevertheless, we get caught up in the excitement and the drama. It's hard not to when you live in a state that's always so influential in the choice of President. The result does affect us too, as we pay taxes and own our house and do all the things that native Ohioans do.

In the 2004 election, I was at a work conference in Seattle as the Ohio result came in, effectively sealing the next term for Bush. Craig was at home, watching it with our friends. At the same time as the general election, Ohio voters were voting on Issue 1: the right for gay people to have civil unions and the same rights as straight couples. The issue was voted down - "no". I remember it as a time of shock and huge disapointment. I called back to Ohio and we all cried, not just about the loss for Senator Kerry but also for the vote "no" on Issue 1. As I strolled through downtown Seattle towards my meeting, the people on the streets were also in shock and just asking "what has Ohio done?", even the newspapers had these huge front page headlines saying the same thing and I wanted to tell them that it wasn't okay to point the finger - all of my friends in Ohio were devastated.

So it comes back to Ohio again, to play a major role in choosing the democratic nominee - what will happen? I guess we'll find out Wednesday.

And if I could vote, who would I vote for? Well, I got to see Obama last October but I didn't get to see Hilary, so I can't compare them. I like them both a lot. My worry with Hilary is that she couldn't beat McCain because people won't vote for her. Not because she's a woman, it's more than that. It's because she's her. Hard to explain.

Enough political ramblings from me. Jeez, I can't even vote!

What to see who you'd vote for? Take this quiz: Minnesota Public Radio Quiz

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Top Tip, Fireplace Update, Oh and Leeks

Here's my "Top Tip" - At the baby shower last week, at least two women told me how absolutely marvelous Mr Clean Magic Eraser sponges were, I mean to the point of gushing about them and saying they were just amazing at what they could shift - pens marks on walls, scuff marks etc. So, I bought some and I have to be equally gushy and tell you all to buy them, boxes of them, because they are truly incredible! As much as Craig is obsessed with seeing what things will burn in the fire, or what food he can shove down the waste disposal unit, I have been equally experimental this weekend and what grime and scuffs and marks I can get off walls and doors. Everytime I got one clean I would exclaim "wow, Craig, this sponge is amazing!" You wouldn't think I had a life sometimes would you.

So here's what the fireplace looked like 2 weeks ago

Then last week Craig ripped out the screen door and covered the brick in tile board...

and covered it in ceramic tile! We are very happy with the results so far. And much as a real wood fire is quaint and romantic it's actually a royal pain in the arse to clean, so we are installing a gas log fire and our new pewter fireplace screen arrives on the 24th - so final pictures will be posted then. My husband is so talented and has worked really hard this week getting it done.

Finally, in honor of St. David's Day on Saturday, I wanted to make leek & potato soup so went to the supermarket only to discover that they don't sell leeks. Can American friends tell me - is it just my store or are there no leeks to be found in America?

Splashing in Puddles

Jack's had a fabulous day today. This morning we met Todd, Kelli & Hannah at Chuck E Cheese. For those of you that do not have children, a morning at this place would make you want to check in to the nearest hospital to have all your reproductive organs cut off. At the advice of Todd we went early so we could have fun and get out of there before the churches kicked out and the whole world decended on the place. Jack had fun, we did too, but I'm so glad we went early as the line was out the door as we left.

Next on Jack's fun day was an absolute refusal to have a nap. The little bugger was in his crib messing about for 3 hours and did not sleep for a minute. I finally relented and went into his room, to find everything flung out of the crib as usual. But he's standing there grinning at me and it's impossible to be angry with him.

Later this afternoon Katy came over to play and we went to the park. Both little people were suitably decked out in wellies which means only one thing - splashy time!! Watching these two having fun in the puddles made my day. I took some video, to share the moment:

Finally ..
If you are in the UK - Happy Mothers Day! My mum sent Jack a load of dress-up clothes this week - so watch out for a picture posting soon.