Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'm Fit to Burst

The pregnancy honeymoon period is OVER folks and I'm on the homestretch. Today, in no particular order, I would like to spend a few minutes having a good old-fashioned moan about the following:

I have only 1 pair of pants left that fit me
I'm leaking
My hair is lank
I have cankles
His foot is lodged under my left rib
When I brush my teeth my gums bleed
I wee every 15 minutes
I'm getting 3 hours sleep a night, so the bags under my eyes and tired face make me look like a blood-hound
My boobs are like bowling balls, only not as light & soft
I cannot cut my toe nails or pumice my feet so I feel like a yeti
I have started to waddle
My belly is so big and stretched so taught that it hurts
I have constant heartburn
Strangers are touching my belly/making comments/blatantly staring at my monstrous bulk
I'm getting a bit scared because I have forgotten everything from last time

So that's my world. How's your day been?

Monday, December 29, 2008

My 500th Blog: Fairytale in New York

In 2000 when we were young and childless we thought it would be an amazing experience to go to New York City for the Millennium Celebration. We drove there with no hiccups but because we left it so late deciding to go we ended up at the Days Inn Hotel in New Jersey - about a 40 minute subway trip outside of the city.  
Here is our Millennium story:
We got into Time Square about 2pm New Years Eve, found a good Irish bar and got to it. We were having a great time and really got into the moment, especially when we met up with a rambunctious Scotsman. Craig, Scotsman and I decided to pass on the lite beers and get on to Caffreys. By about 6pm we were rather tipsy to say the least and as we pushed our way through thick crowds in Time Square, heading towards our next bar,  Craig and I had a tiff.  I have no idea what the tiff was about but it was something stupid and certainly not worth what happened next.  I turned my back in a huff, walked about 5 yards, turned back around and saw a mass of people, none of whom looked like my husband.  We had no cell phones, no way of contacting one another other than by trying to search each other out on the streets. After an hour I was frantic and started to cry - what a nightmare! In New York City on my own with no phone and little hope of reuniting with Craig. I stumbled my way to the nearest subway station, surrendering to the fact that the best thing I could do in this situation was to get back to the hotel and hopefully meet back up with my husband. It took me five hours to get there and involved taxis, subways and plenty of walking. I remember being in the subway car and thinking "I am on a New York subway on my own at 10 o'clock at night and I'm going to get murdered". I think the potential murderer standing next to me was thinking "I'm steering clear of the crazy lady crying so hard she's got hiccups". 

It was such a relief to get back to the hotel at 11pm that I didn't even acknowledge the midnight celebration, but got ready for bed and waited for Craig to get back.  I was indignant and ready for a full-scale argument about ruined memories and leaving me alone in such a dangerous situation, even though it was me that had stomped off in a huff.  It took over eight hours for Craig to get back and involved taxis, subways, walking, and a desperate monorail trip via Newark Airport. At the airport he ran into Michigan football supporters and got a bit of frustration off his chest by being rude about their football team and telling them English people were brought up to hate Michigan football, which they believed. He finally walked into the room about 2am and we greeted each other with an icy silence, each one of us determined we were in the right. We awoke the next morning and both of us had flu. And we had a 10-hour drive back to Ohio. And we didn't say one word to each other the whole 10 hours.

We walked into our house in Ohio, exhausted, hung over and flu-ridden to find our answer machine flashing like mad and dozens of friends excited and dying to hear about our monumental trip to New York City. I never called anyone back and it was days before we talked. Months before we started to laugh about it. Nine years before I could blog about it!

So, here's what I learned:  never drink with a Scotsman, always carry a phone, and zip-tie yourself to your husband if very large groups of people and drinking are involved. 

Would I do things differently? Well yes obviously, but the story if a good one, one I'll always remember and it beats telling people we thought the world would end at midnight on the Millennium so decided to hide in the basement with bottled water, cans of carrots and a CB radio.

 

Friday, December 26, 2008

Our Day was Fabulous - hope yours was too.

On Christmas Eve Jack spent a good deal of time looking out of the window trying to see Santa in the sky, then he left out a glass of milk, sprinkled a few carrots on the lawn & eventually went to bed, trying every excuse in the book to stay up. I drank the milk and Craig went outside in the freezing rain to retrieve carrots, even though I tried to persuade him that the squirrels would eat them. I know bugger all about squirrels but it seems plausible doesn't it?

Christmas morning we told Jack that Santa had been and he ran from his bedroom in his pyjamas, wide-eyed and with a crazy bed-head. He noticed the milk had gone and then saw his bike and said "ohhhhhhh!" like it was the best thing in the world. His first words were: "get Santa more milk?", which doesn't surprise me as our boy is a little sweetheart. Then he ripped the wrapping paper off, jumped on, immediately fell off & clambered back on again.

Here's a 40-second video of his first venture out:

video

As for me and Craig - we're exhausted, which comes from amusing a toddler for two whole days indoors due to bad weather. To keep sane, Craig's been looking at cross-bows on Craigslist with the view that bow season is much longer than shooting season, so gives him more chances to snag a deer. He's also been playing a bit of "Grand Theft Auto IV, my gift to him.

I've read two really great books over the holidays, both by Mark Haddon: A Spot of Bother and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The latter, while a great read, has educated me about autism more than I thought possible and it's made me very sad because I can't fathom having a child that would not let me hug them, or kiss them or joke with them. If I ever do come into contact with a person with autism I feel a bit more prepared now though, unless of course Mark Haddon made it all up and now I have an idiotic view on the whole subject.

We've also watched two new films - one was fabulous and typical Clint Eastwood (Grand Turino), and the other one was an absolute stinker from hell (Will Smith in Seven Pounds).


All in all a great Christmas then, with lots of traits of Old Blighty (crackers with hats at dinner, Christmas puds, queens' speech and English chocolate), some Americana (egg-nogg, cranberry sauce with the turkey, watching "A Christmas Story") and lots of amusing behaviour from our toddler, including hysterics at the dinner table when his dad got a whoopie cushion in his cracker and then tried to blame the noises it made on me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mr Fidget's Christmas Video

Here's a 30-second clip of Jack's Christmas party at school on Monday. Mr Fidget Pants didn't sing one word but spent the whole time fiddling, with his hands in pockets and grinning. And that's why we love him:


video

Have a lovely Christmas Day everyone. Best wishes to you all in Blog land - there are some of you that I feel like I'm friends with even though we've never met. And love in abundance to our families and friends in England. We'll call you tomorrow!
XXX

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Spiced Tea Recipe

As promised, here is the Christmas Spiced Tea recipe from my Louisiana friend, Lynn:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Equal parts apple juice and cranberry juice
  • 3 slices lemon
  • 3 sticks Cinnamon
  • Tsp. of cloves

Heat it up in a saucepan, drain & drink. It's that simple!

If you Google this subject you'll see there's all kinds of variations, including instant tea and Tang. It can also be made as a dry mix & put in a jar as a Christmas gift. I have only tried Lynn's fabulous version so can't comment on any of that.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Santa & Snowballs

Happy Winter Solstice and cor blimey it's cold! I just ran out to the local supermarket and had to put a gloved hand over my face so I could breathe - in the car! The local weather pundits are saying minus 17F (-27C) with the wind factor. I swear this is the coldest I think I've ever felt in Ohio.

On to cheerier things - we've had a great weekend. Last night friends & neighbours came over to see Char & Jan who flew in from California. I bought naff buffet food cooked, Craig drank, Jack entertained the masses. If truth be known I would much prefer to do items 2 and 3.

Today we took Jack to see Santa. I thought he might be okay as we had built him up to the moment and he was excited but the grotto was so dark & scary that even Craig and I were freaked out. By the time we actually saw the old man himself, Jack was digging his fingers into my leg and hiding behind me with eyes like saucers. I could only get him to sit with Santa by sitting next to him and then cropping myself out of the picture:

He politely asked Santa for his bike and then ruined my proud moment by also asking him for a selection of the stuffed animals in the grotto. But all-in-all a successful trip - better than the screaming fit last year, & the beard pulling incident two years ago.

After Santa we had a horse-drawn carriage ride with our friends, Emily, Brian & Katy then the kiddos had a play-date where they destroyed my house in 15 minutes flat. I had a vision of my two boys in the future - rambunctious, loud, screaming boys wrestling each other and breaking things and being cheeky. It may just be the thing I need to make myself relax in life. Or it could be the final straw that puts me in a mental institution.

Tonight another party with friends, this one short being that we all have work in the morning. I love this group of people - they are so genuine, so loving and caring and fun. My son is instantly at ease with them, running from room to room, being chased by adults pretending to be monsters and trying to bite his feet. I feel really lucky that we have these people in our life.



Righty-ho, I'm off to the kitchen now to make food for Jack's Christmas party at school tomorrow and to sit with Craig while he enjoys his acoholic egg-nogg. After nine years of fruitless searching for Warninks Advocaat we found out that good old egg-nogg is exactly the same thing, which means we can have "snowballs" again at Christmas! God bless America.

Friday, December 19, 2008

He Knows me so Well

I really want Jack to call me "mummy" and not "mommy". I'm not sure why it's so important to me but it just is. I was trying to tell him this morning that as a Christmas present I would love it if he called me mummy. It went something like this:

Me: "Jack, do you know what mummy would like more than anything this Christmas?"

Jack: "Chocolate?"


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Where do you Hide Fishing Rods?

Tonight was Jack's last swimming class till the new year. It was an absolute joy to watch him in the water because he doesn't appear to have inherited my fear. It was a "double whammy" as they say: watching him being confident in the water and watching him play with his dad. Every time I see them together having fun I get choked up, but then I'm a sentimental fool sometimes.

The swimming instructor came over at the end and said he needn't repeat the Tiny Tots class but could sign up for "Little Nemo" next, which sounds far more advanced and mature doesn't it. You'd have thought she told me he'd just beaten Michael Phelps 50 metre record the way my heart swelled up.

If I'm absolutely honest I was just a tiny bit scared, especially when Craig took him down a humongous windy water slide. Then on the way home he said "I'm going to keep taking him because I want him to be able to pull himself out of a river if he falls in next summer when we go fishing" and I thought "note to self: hide his fishing rods and refuse to go camping for the next five years".

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Bit of Merry Old England

Christmas parcels have started arriving from England, which include chocolate that must be eaten immediately. Come on folks, you can't send me Flakes & Kendal Mint Cake and expect me to wait another ten days before eating them. And really, I'm pregnant and you keep sending me chocolate liqueurs - my absolute favourite. How on earth am I supposed to be a good girl and avoid alcohol when it's wrapped in chocolate for heavens sake! This does not mean I want these parcels to stop - far from it. I can keep the liqueurs till after the baby's born. Craig will end up with a fork in his eye if he so much as touches the cellophane wrapper. I also found a couple of Christmas puds in a parcel from my dad, so dropping big hints on this blog paid off. Crikey I'm devious.

Jack got some traditional thermals from his nana that even have cute little Union Jack labels that say "Made in England". That kind of thing makes me homesick but it's not something you see too much these days is it? It's more likely to say "Made in China" or The Philippines, like those Nick Jr. cartoon underpants I got him that scratched his bottom to shreds and led to the MRSA infection (I'm still hopping mad about that as you can see).

This weekend we took Jack to a Dickensian Christmas event at Ohio Village. He got to meet St. Nick, though he called him Santa Claus the whole time and St. Nick was a bit miffed but life is complicated enough without trying to explain to a toddler the intricacies of all this. A man in a red suit is a man in a red suit. He also got to meet Charles Dickens, who in this case was an Englishman called Roger who'd lived in Ohio 18 years, liked Jameson's and was mad as a hatter. We chatted for a while about England and what we missed. He talked about Wayne Rooney a lot as he loved football. All the while dressed like Dickens - very surreal.

At the event I bought a kit to make a traditional orange pomander with Jack. It's a throw-back to my Girl Guide days before I got kicked out for drinking & smoking (only half kidding). I have fond memories of sitting with my group, making homemade Christmas decorations like the pomander - basically an orange with cloves pushed in and then dried. The smell it gives off is fabulous and very Christmassy. I did however forget how painful it was to push hundreds of cloves into an orange so my poor fingers were killing me but it was worth it. It's now drying on top of the water heater in the basement, unless one of my cats has knocked it off and my dog's eaten it, which wouldn't surprise me. Should make for an interesting walk in the park tonight.

Look at My Lovely Baubles!

There are several American traditions that I have picked up and run with since I got here. I embrace the following with tremendous gusto: Halloween, Thanksgiving, July 4th, observing flag-raising and marching bands at football games, and "showers" in all their abundance - wedding, bridal, baby. When I first got to Ohio, all this would have been considered too glitzy for me, given that Brits are somewhat reserved in nature. But over the years I have gone from testing the water, to a bit of paddling and finally just said "sod it", jumped in with both feet and joined in. There are still a couple of things I'll never do: I promise I'll never clap at the end of a movie or shout "yeahhh!" at the end of a fairground ride. For one, Craig would leave me. Second, most Americans I know don't do this either and are equally mortified by such behaviour.

Anyway, one of my favourite American traditions is decorating the Christmas tree with personal and historic ornaments. Unless things have changed (and maybe they have) this isn't something we did in England. Our ornaments were made up of baubles and tinsel and a star, but we didn't really have ornaments that were family heirlooms. There are friends here who've got ornaments on their tree from when they were first born, which I think is such a lovely thing to do that I have started doing it myself. The picture on the left is a little collage of my personal ornaments so far - given by family and friends and lovingly packed away each new year and brought out each Christmas. This year I'm also going to take Jack to Hallmark and let him pick one out for himself and Danny. Am I being twee? Sorry, but as they say "when in Rome ..."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Getting Big, Really Big ...

When I looked in the mirror this morning I actually thought "okay, not too huge yet" and happily trotted off to work, safe in the knowledge that while I looked pregnant I didn't actually look like I'd swallowed a cow quite yet:

But tonight when Craig took this picture I can see that front views are horribly deceiving because I do indeed look like I've swallowed a cow. A whole herd in fact:

When I look at this I understand why I struggled for 5 minutes this morning to put my socks on, making noises like this "ugh, argh, get on yer bugger".

That's the bitch about being pregnant in winter - I have to wear socks. It's not a big price to pay though when I think that my last pregnancy in the summer meant I had to shave my legs a lot and my ankles swelled up so much Craig called me Shrek.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Stranger than Fiction: FLDS

I am about 3/4 of the way through "Escape" by Carolyn Jessop and I am hooked on this book. I can't put it down and I even dreamt about it last night.

Carolyn was married to a prominent member of the FLDS church and she had 8 children in 15 years before she escaped in 2003. All together her husband, Merrill Jessop, had 7 wives and over 50 kids. He was an abusive psycho & his wives were no better. Carolyn's story is far more outrageous than any fiction book I've ever read and I have to keep reading portions out to Craig, to try and make sense of it. 

I read a little and then have to put the book down so I can heave a big sigh to make myself calm, or I have to put it down because I'm infuriated, or I have to gather my thoughts because I'm so upset by how much abuse the kids are subjected to.  When I read about the 400 kids being taken away this summer because of Warren Jeff's arrest, I felt a bit sorry for the parents but no more. Absolutely no more. Not as long as the women and children in these families are treated as badly as they are.

This last month,  I believe Merrill Jessop was arrested for performing a marriage ceremony for a 12 year old girl. He had taken over the ranch in AZ after Jeff's arrest. I hope someone bumps him off in Jail or at least gives him a taste of his own medicine. How can I be so callous? Well, I just read the part in the book where his 2-year old son is diagnosed with cancer and he needs life-saving surgery but he tells Carolyn the surgery isn't necessary, that the illness is her fault, for not being an obedient wife. 

Here's Carolyn now:





This book is also being made into a film. Catherine Heigl is going to play Carolyn but I'm not sure when it's coming out. This is a must read - harrowing but absolutely enthralling at the same time.

Tis the Season to be Jolly

I've got a big work event on this week so am doing a lazy blog with plenty of pictures but few words. I wanted to share some of our weekend Christmas preparations with family & friends in the UK and my new-found bloggy friends from around the world 


First major snow event caused much excitement

Quick banana, stuff oneself into a padded snow suit and ..

Walk the dog



Trip to Lowes for the tree. Bought one in ample time this year as we usually end up with one the week before Christmas that's dog-eared and looks like its been in a forest fire.



Tree is up and only 4 ornaments broken!




Tried to get a nice picture of Jack rubbing my belly but he wriggled and squirmed and acted like the proverbial two year old.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mr. Orangutan in the Woods

Here is Jack's school picture for this year - how cute! He's right at the end on the second row with his teacher Serkarlem. She's got her arm around him and makes no bones about him being her favorite. This is good in one way as I know he's loved, but not good sometimes as she lets him get away with murder. I have made copies for family in England and will hopefully get Christmas parcels posted tomorrow, depending upon how organised I am tonight.

All plans could be changed for my weekend though depending on whether Craig shoots a deer today as he's venturing off into the woods to have a go. I'm scared to death some redneck yahoo is going to shoot him by accident so made him wear so much orange he looked like an orangutan. I hope my mum is right - when I spoke to her about it she said "don't worry, Craig's too nice to shoot a deer, he'll pretend he never saw one!".

I had an ultrasound this week and got to see Danny again. He's BIG: 5.6 lbs already and off the charts for height and I have some way to go yet. He looks the spitting image of Jack too so I'll have two boys that look alike & are both very tall with big hands, head and feet. The head size is a problem - every single time I take one of Jack's jumpers or t-shirts off, the neck part gets stuck on his ears and he howls. The trick is to get it off before he goes ballistic without tearing his ears and nose off. You also have to remove one item at a time because if you try and remove two layers at the same time, he becomes so stuck he starts yelling things like "moma stop!" while you try and suppress laughter and resist the urge to tickle him under his armpits.

Lastly, if you would like to read a short story to warm your cockles today, take a look at the kid's nativity story on Strawberry Jam Anne's blog.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Happy Birthday My Love

It's Craig's 39th birthday today so we had some friends over for garlic bread pizza and beer. I'm not going to harp on about how fabulous my husband is as he hates a fuss and wouldn't even open his cards tonight in front of everyone. When I suggested it he looked like a rabbit caught in headlights and mouthed "nooooo!", so we waited until everyone had gone.

It's always hard to buy Craig presents as he won't give any hints, he insists on buying his own clothes and he's quite the picky bugger really. I did get it right with his present from Jack, even though I never imagined in a million years I'd be buying him pottery for his birthday!

Talking of Jack, when I announced in the summer of 2005 that I had indeed succumbed to the ticking clock and wanted a baby after 10 years of marriage and promising I would never darken our doorstep with kids, the only way I could get him to agree was to promise he could buy a boat.
Three and a half years later, with a second baby on the way, the poor man still spends his summers very much on Terra Firma. Today I have started to rectify that by launching the New Boat Fund....
How long will it take to save up? I guess that's up to Craig. If he wants a skinny canoe, probably not long at all, but if it even looks like it might flip over I'm not going near it. Those waist-hugging canoes that you have to squeeze yourself into look every bit like natural selection to me.
Hopefully he'll buy a boat he can fish in but is more than two metal seats and a bit of outdoor carpet. Something that we can tow easily & get in and out of the water without making complete fools of ourselves. And it'll ideally be safe for the boys and have a non-slip table for my wine glass.

My Dog Barf Story

The night that I blogged about being exhausted, my dog Cody woke me up at 2.30am barfing on the cream rug in the living room. Without my contact lenses in I couldn't really see what I was doing but it looked a bit orange and there were some objects in there I couldn't place. Anyway, I did my best to clean it up, once again mumbling obscenities about my animals, then trundled off to bed.

Two hours later he did the same thing, only this time on the bedroom floor. Craig threw the poor thing out in the garden to nibble on frosty grass and then wiped it up. Not very well I might add as I stuck my big toe in some on the way back from the bathroom and was thankful this time I didn't have my contacts in or might have started barfing myself.

It wasn't until the following day that I worked out what caused all this. There were two big clues: (1) the sick was bright orange (2) the sick contained very small oval stickers.

When I told Craig that Cody had been eating clementines, he said "how on earth has Cody been getting them from the fruit bowl?" Bless my husband's heart - he has a never-ending belief that our two year old is as innocent as the day is long. I, on the other hand, know full well that the little bugger has been feeding our dog whole oranges and that our dog is daft enough to keep eating them.

Monday, December 01, 2008