Monday, June 29, 2009

Anyone for Rounders?

My dad & step-mum arrived last Thursday from England, during a horrendous storm I might add. Driving back from the airport was very scary and when we got to the house I made everyone sit in the car until the worst had passed over. Getting struck by lightning is not on my "to do" list at the moment. Talking of which, life has been bonkers lately and isn't going to slow down anytime soon. Here's a little update on what we've been up to:

Danny is rolling over! Put him on a blanket on the ground and he's like an alligator, which is fun to watch but not so fun when he does it at 4am in his crib then gets really pissed off because he can't roll onto his back again, then he gets his legs caught in the crib bars and howls till I come running up from the basement.

Why are we sleeping in the basement? Well our plan is to always sleep down there when we have guests now. That way we have a private bathroom and we aren't all tripping up over each other. And if the kids gets rowdy then we don't hear too much down there (he he he). I'm really enjoying the privacy and serenity of the basement actually. It's just what I need.

We have lots of stuff planned for my family. Last weekend we did a cook-out at Eric's, Comfest & a Clippers game. We had no idea what was going on at the baseball game. I think it's a bit like rounders but they have proper bases instead of someone's cardie. It was a nice stadium though and it was a great excuse to eat food dripping with fat and ketchup.

Next up for us, a trip to see Tecumseh, the zoo, China Buffet (pseudo-Chinese food, all you can eat, popular with every visitor we have from England) and a huge road trip to South Dakota. With a 3-year old in a car for 2,600 miles. Sounds like hell fun.

Talking of the 3-year old, in no particular order he:

1. Has stopped listening to me altogether
2. Will only eat pizza & icy-pops
3. Has started to defy me and answer back
4. Has gone extra clingy for his mama and won't even let me leave the room
5. Refuses to nap and go to bed at night
6. Loves his bike
7. Loves water
8. Hates brushing his teeth, which means I have to do it and he clamps down on the brush so I can't get it out then laughs at me and refuses to let go
9. Is completely potty-trained now, even wipes his own bum (sorry if that's tmi)
10. Has started amusing himself, just a little bit. He still follows me around like a basset hound demanding my full attention but will play for, oh, 5 minutes now on his own. Not long enough for me to hoover-up or read for a bit, but nice all the same.

Lastly, two minor but major things -
Ex-employee from day-care that is a bit obsessed with Jack has popped-up again and called me twice over the weekend. I ignored both calls. I hope she goes away really I do because she's giving me the creeps.

I found cress!!!! Sowed it Saturday and it's starting to grow. I keep staring at it and willing it to be harvestable by Thursday. Maybe if I breath on it my carbon dioxide will spur some growth? I sound as mad as Prince Charles.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Quest for Cress

For Jack's 3rd birthday party next week I want to make triangular egg and cress sandwiches. Turns out I'm going to have a bugger of a time finding cress.
In my 10-years of inhabiting this country, nothing has stumped me so far. I can find black pudding, bluebells, Turkish Delight and Birds custard. I can find quaint English tea towels and hot water bottles. But not cress.
I was complaining to Craig about it this morning and he told me that in the USA cress is called "sprouts", not to be confused with Brussel sprouts which is what we call sprouts. Confused yet?
But "sprouts" in the USA are made from alfalfa, not cress, which is in the mustard family.

Is it possible that I have finally come up with something that I cannot buy in the USA?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fathers Day Tribute

Craig's a great dad. Our Jack adores him and Danny's always grinning at him. Watching him play with them yesterday at the water park was just great and makes me a bit teary. He's not perfect I might add. In my absence he dresses them like refugees and never feeds them veggies. He is the reason Jack finds farts funny and blames the dog. And the reason Jack is such a daredevil that I'll have a heart attack in the next 12 months. If he wants to skydive like his dad I'll have to lock him in a cupboard.

So anyway, he's a fabulous dad, not short on kisses & cuddles and praise for his boys and that's how it should be. None of this "don't cry, you're a man" nonsense from this husband of mine & that's why I love him. He is also the more "fun" parent, the one that makes Jack laugh and comes up with silly stuff they do together. I see a future of Craig and the two boys having a good laugh.

I hope they don't all gang up on me. I might just have to poison them all with canned salmon.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cornish Pasty Shenanigans

My British Group are having a bake sale and so I thought "ha! I'll make Cornish pasties!" Every English person I know, without question, loves Cornish pasties.

Because I am in tune with my absolute crapness at cooking I did not want to cook the night before the bake sale so started early this week:

Monday: too dry & bland. Damn I am bad at cooking.

add more butter and onion powder and carrots

Tuesday: More pepper, still too dry.

Thursday: Kids were a nightmare, friends over, remembered I should have been cooking pasties about 2am when the storm woke me up.

Tonight: I am the pasty queen! Here's my special recipe after a few wines:

Makes 4 Pasties

3 cups flour
1.5 sticks butter
Pinch salt
Mix all together with fingers until the texture is like sand
Drink wine, wipe floury hands on clothes, dog and children.

add water to make dough
Drink wine and make dough into funny shapes, then wrap in cling-film (cellophane)

Refridgerate dough for 30 minutes

Mix Filling in a Big Bowl:
Peel 2 medium potatoes and 1 small turnip and chop them into tiny cubes. Turnips are not to be confused with rutabagos, which people will tell you is the same thing but it is not even close, so tell them to bugger off

Drink wine and try & work out why turnips and rutabagos might get mixed up, then turn the iPod up and have a little dance in the kitchen. Queen were just amazing weren't they?

Peel & chop 1 onion and carrots into tiny cubes
Chop beef steak (buy cheap, thin steak, & cut the fat off) into tiny cubes
Add 1 tsp salt, loads of pepper and a bit of onion soup mix
Give it a big stir.

Take pastry out of fridge

Cut into 4
Roll each one into a circle
Put filling along middle
Wipe edge of pastry with egg
Squeeze edges together and pinch into a squiggly design. Okay, now it's got too complicated. Please watch the video HERE

F*** Pasties. Drink wine & dance to Queen.

If you have lost yourself & forgotten how good it feels, here's the video to remind you ...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Playing Out no More

I had a fabulous childhood in the village of Scarisbrick in England. I have memories of camping and fishing and riding my bike and doing all the usual kids stuff. Holidays by the sea were spent hunkered over in rock pools looking for star fish and crabs. School holidays were spent having adventures with friends, making dens in the wood opposite my house and getting up to mischief, like painting our garden shed with the expensive car undercoat I found in the garage.

It's very important to me that Jack and Danny do all those things and have a childhood full of fun. It seems very sad though that they'll not enjoy the same outdoor freedom that Craig and I did. You don't really see kids playing here, mostly because parents are scared witless of paedophiles and abductors and gangs. All the horrible things that were probably around years ago but for some reason are at the forefront of every parents mind these days.

Last weekend we were walking down our little snicket and a man came walking the other way, acted a bit dodgy and then followed us back down. I was whispering frantically to Craig to keep an eye on him and Craig was being calm and saying he was probably looking for our resident deer. By the time we got to the end of the snicket he was almost upon us, so I veered off up someones driveway, as if we lived in the house. I would have felt stupid if it had turned out to be his house! When he got level with us I said "you go ahead" and made it pretty clear I didn't want him walking behind us, and he looked right at Jack and tried to strike up a conversation. Jack started chattering to him so I said "that's enough, let the gentleman go" and he sloped off. Note how I used the term sloped instead of walked? I'm trying to make him into a paedophile aren't I?

The poor guy was probably out for an evening stroll then got home and said to his family "I met the most paranoid and obnoxious woman I have ever met!

So needless to say, the boys will unfortunately have strict limits on "playing out" but we'll make sure they have fun. Here he is strawberry picking with me & Gina last weekend. He loved it, especially seeing all the caterpillars and bugs. He's bug-mad.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Chin Strap

Sorry for the lack of posts - I am on my chin strap this week. Jack's doing some kind of night terror, want a wee, wake-up at midnight thingy and Danny's up at 4am to feed. And there's some pesky racoons or cats howling right outside my bedroom window. It's been a busy week at work too and we've stayed up too late ...

Char & Jan came from California. Jan was already in Ohio on a planned visit and then Char's mum died last Sunday so Char had to get here. It's been an emotional week for them and last night we all got together to do what we do best - drink & talk and laugh about all our fun times. It seemed like such a good idea at the time until I had to get up and feed Danny this morning with just 2 hours sleep under my belt. I'm only awake now because of hair of the dog.

My Boy. I can't stop kissing those cheeks and telling him that I love him. Am I scarring the poor lad for life? He started on solid foods last week but it's hit & miss so far.

The MOST AMAZING part of all this is the interaction between these two. Jack loves him, not just to please me & Craig but genuinely. Sometimes, when kids go to touch Danny at day-care I've seen Jack tell kids they aren't to touch him - he's very protective of his baby Danny. Danny in turn watches Jack everywhere he goes and grins like a Cheshire cat when he's playing with him. I love that they love each other.

My loony boy, my character. A woman at my local shop this week told me he belongs on the stage. He was giving her directions on how to bag the groceries at the time. He has a unique personality - he's confident but also a sweetheart. By the way, his t-shirt is dead funny. My favourite "Wanted" character is Wyatt Burp.

Our friend Matt got a motorbike! Gina's thrilled as you can see. Me & Jack are going out with her in the morning, strawberry picking. I fully intend to eat as many as I pick, seeing as I'm on Weight-Watchers again and fruit is low points.
Afterwards we have a double kiddie birthday party. Give me strength ...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Becomming Native: Part 1

I was working in a rough part of town tonight and I heard a gun shot right by us. The funny thing is, I didn't get scared and neither did any of the people I was with, and we carried on with what we were doing.

I'm becoming a native aren't I?

Talking of which, I printed off the "Guide to Naturalization" document from the government's immigration website and it's 58 pages long. Reading it will be akin to pulling my fingernails out I'm sure. The process will be extra painful because we are English, and I'll tell you why in a little story ...

A few years ago, after three years of bureaucracy, vaccines, aids tests, interviews and $5,000 in lawyer fees we got our green cards. On the night we celebrated our Somalian taxi driver told us he got his green card free in the green card lottery. English people can't apply to the USA green card lottery. Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Commonwealth people can, just not English. I'm not sure why we can't, but isn't that strange?

So anyway, you'll understand why I have a feeling this blog title might go as far as "Becoming Native: Part 78".

Monday, June 01, 2009

Danny's Stats & Other Stuff

We went to a picnic yesterday with all the local Brits. Our local park was inundated with people in Union Jack t-shirts eating cucumber sandwiches and having egg and spoon races. It's nice to mingle with my countrymen and share war stories about immigration and the fact that we can't find good chocolate or inexpensive Ribena. I'm enjoying mixing with them and looking forward to our next gathering. In particular, I've hit it off with Maureen who lives just around the corner from me. She's got two grown kids and we seem to have the same liberal and adventurous outlook on life. I'm going to swing by and drop off a book for her ("Parky" that Clippy Mat sent me) and I hope it's the beginning of a great friendship. Not that I don't have some fabulous friends here, but it'll be nice to have a friend that understands how I feel about England and how sad it is to be away from it sometimes. Another result from the picnic was finding out that it IS possible now to have dual citizenship, so we could become citizens of the USA and keep our British passports. Anyway, we'll forge ahead with it and see what happens.

Onto other things, it was Danny's 4-month doctor's visit today. Four more vaccines (ouch) and a drink that made him pull funny faces. Here are his statistics:
  • He weighs 18 lbs 14 ozs and is in the 97th %'ile for weight
  • He is 27 inches tall (97th %'ile)
The doctor said to start him on baby food so we dragged Jack's high chair out of the basement, gave it a scrub (did I really pack it away covered in spaghetti?) and tried some rice cereal. He hated it, spat it up, shook his head and refused to cooperate. His brother did the same 2.5 years ago I remember.

Looking ominously at the bowl of cereal before him. To be fair, it both looks and tastes of wallpaper paste. Might sneak some sweet potato in there next time.

Lastly, we have a new resident down the snicket! Every day for the last week we have seen a doe munching on leaves and letting us get just a few feet from her. Craig wants to shoot her, Jack wants to pet her, Cody wants to chase her, I just want to look at her. Not that I'd turn my nose up at a few venison sausages for the grill ...