Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bring Out Your Dead!

If this was the year 1340 someone would have been and painted a big red cross on our door this morning.

Danny got me up four times overnight and barfed this morning. I didn't think it was too bad as he did it while I was contact lense-less. Then I put them in and said "wooohhh". He ate his breakfast though and seemed okay, so I took him to daycare. He has his 6 month visit this afty at the Docs so it's just a half day. Selfish of me probably but I can't cope with 2 sick kids today.
Jack hacked his way through the night with a dreadful cough and seemed to struggle to breath at some points. So even less sleep for me because I kept listening for him taking ragged breaths. It was frightening. He's currenty at work with me but not sure how long I can keep a 3-year old satisfied in my workplace before he goes nuts. Sometimes I nearly go nuts.

To top it all, I have had an upset stomach for two days and Craig said this morning he feels a cold coming on.
SO, anyone wish to socialise with us this weekend? No? Didn't think so.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Boy is Better

I was strapping Danny's seat into my car this morning, trying to hurry up as it was pouring down rain and my back was getting wet. I looked over at Jack, stood at the end of the garden path near the road waiting for me to go and get him. He refuses to walk on wet grass and isn't allowed on the road without me.

He was wearing his red plastic raincoat with monsters on. The hood is peaked and makes him look like a pixie. His bare skinny legs were protruding from the bottom and he was wearing his blue dinosaur crocs on his feet.

He was waving his inflatable space sword at the sky and singing "rain rain go away, come again another day!"

I thought "yep, he's better"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Morning Madness

It's Monday and I'm late again. Craig's already left for work.

Danny's fussy, wants his breakfast and some entertainment mummy-style. Jack woke up crying and padded into the bathroom looking miserable and sleepy.  I said "go and get into mummy's bed, watch Noggin and I'll bring you some warm milk". I grab Danny out of his crib and put him in bed with Jack. I have a routine in the morning that's a bit nuts but it works for me and means I can get out the door with everyone fed and happy in about 1.5 hours.

As I'm in the middle of drying my hair, I hear an odd noise and turn just in time to see Jack leap up onto his knees and barf all over my bed. Many times. Thankfully he missed Danny, who was very quiet now and staring intently at his distressed brother. 

There's not much you can do in these situations, other than comfort your child and repeat over and over "it's okay, it's okay" as you rub their back. I did call Craig and we organised a day of work and Jack-sitting between us. Once again, for the 1000th time this year, I thanked God that I have a partner to share this with.

Now it's 1pm and my shift at home with the little fella. He's still got a temperature and looks fed-up. The Docs told me there's  a virus "going round" and to keep an eye of him. Feed him crackers and iced water. They've told me that the last 3 times I've rung them. It's a standard response I suppose, to deter mums from running into the practice every time their kid looks pale.

His dad made him homemade chicken soup but he doesn't want any. And he fell asleep on the couch. I know my son is sick if he falls asleep on the couch. He doesn't normally sleep anywhere, anytime for anybody! 

It's time to go & sit with him and cuddle up I think.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lazy Weekend, Plebs in the Park, Danny Sits Up

We had a great weekend overall. We finally watched some telly - most importantly we caught up on Shameless by watching episodes on YouTube and we watched the recent episodes of Nurse Jackie, which is fabulous. I'm not really into telly that much but I absolutely love this new show.

Craig's mates came over Friday night for a BBQ and beer but other than that we've been a bit anti-social. I like that sometimes, want to hole-up and not see anyone. It's weekends like this that I wear clothes I'd never wear in public like sweat shorts and scruffy t-shirts. I did venture to the park several times and once got caught in a fierce storm but it was fun to get really soaking wet with Jack and we treated it like an adventure.

Talking of adventures - did you ever read "Lord of the Flies"? Well, the children from the book were at our park tonight, along with their 12 siblings and parents from hell. They took Jack's toy and would have grabbed his bike had their mum not half-heartedly intervened. It was twenty kids and three adults not watching the little savages play. Craig asked Jack if he wanted to go and get his toy back and he said "no, they're too scary". When I heard that I thought "too scary? If you want to see scary watch your mum turn into a Liverpudlian again and sort these muppets out". Fortunately, the toy got returned voluntarily before it got ugly. I was a bit miffed too as I said a cheery "hello" to one of the mums and she snubbed me. Totally looked right at me and blanked me out. The good thing is that I've never seen them before so hopefully they won't be back. Our little park is a haven for the kids and for us to meet parents from the community so I hope these idiots don't keep coming and spoil it for us. Okay, rant over. It does make me feel better to write about it.

Danny-boy. When he wears this t-shirt at daycare they say he looks like Charlie Brown. I suppose he does a bit. The kids had a good weekend and seem to be bonding now. Today we put Jack's new car-seat in the back so he can now lean over and touch Danny. At one point, both of them were laughing their heads off and it's just lovely to hear. 
Danny is changing every day now. He's been laughing a lot, which warms your ginnels and he loves to sit up as you can see in this 30-sec video. He's still a bit wobbly, but then who isn't?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Snakes on the Brain

As we were looking over Craig's handiwork in the garden tonight Jack shouted over to me "mummy, is this a snake?"   I looked over at him, crouched down near some bushy lavenders at the top of the garden. 

Snake? Bloody snake?? 

I immediately think of rattlers and copperheads and run hell-for-leather up the hill towards him. I get to him panting, heart racing and ask where he saw the snake. 

He says "No, it's a spider. With big spots" 

I ask him where, he says "here" and opens up his empty palm for me to take a look. "Look mummy, a big spider!"

I suppose this means his imagination is kicking in. I should probably start taking aspirin.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More Gushing (sorry)

Danny's going to be six months old next week and I can't believe the newborn stage is over. He's munching his way through solid food and starting to babble. He's sleeping through most nights and trying to sit up. I sorted his clothes out again and he's wearing 12 months clothes now because he's just well, big. Big and tall. Last night he wore Jack's old PJs that Jack wore when he was a year old and walking about. It's great he's so big but also a bit unnerving. I mean, will he be so huge that I'll have to have special pants made.

My favourite time with him is in the morning. He never cries but will lie in his crib and babble till I go in to get him. When he sees me he kicks his little legs like mad and grins at me and as I pick him up he shoves his face right in mine and grabs my neck hard, like a hug. Makes me go all funny just thinking about it. My favourite thing about him at the moment is his hair, which has grown like crazy this week. He has light blonde hair now, in a little mohican right down the middle of his head. Just the right length for burying your face in.

I really love these boys of mine (yes yes yes you're saying, after three years of you gushing we get the bloody picture). I just wish all kids on the planet could be loved like this but I know that's not reality. Just this week a 5-week old girl in Ohio was rescued from a home where rats were eating her alive and had already taken two toes. It's unfathomable to me, totally vile and horrific. I wish I could stop it all but I suppose the best we can do as parents is to make our own kids decent human beings and try and put the other horrible stuff to the back of our minds.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

La Vie Boheme

My 15-year old niece in England has swine flu, which I found out about via Facebook. She's a typical resilient teenager and laughs it off as a bit of a sniffle, take a few tablets and you're fine. She's more upset she can't go to Alton Towers with her school mates. Scared me to death there for a minute but she seems okay. 

I remember being 15 and thinking I was invincible. I'd do all sorts of stupid stuff and take chances I'd never take now. Memories come to mind of riding on motorbikes without a helmet and setting off to visit someone 300 miles away in a clapped-out car with only 10 pound on me for petrol and a pint of oil to replace the amount that got burnt. Car breakdown service was not something I could afford and we didn't have cell phones. I'd walk 3 miles home from a nightclub on my own at 2am and not think anything of it, which makes me cringe now.

Come to think of it, I was a bit dumb until I was in my 30's. In fact, now I really think about it, I still think I'm going to live forever and continue to burn the candle at both ends. If I was smart I'd stop drinking, exercise more, and save for my retirement but it's far more likely that I will keep drinking, continue to ignore my gym membership and hope I win the lottery.  My lust for life is too strong, my desire to travel and meet people and do new things has not diminished with age. Does it ever I wonder?

As they say in Rent "La Vie Boheme!"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kate Moss Wannabe

My friend Gina and I started on Weight Watchers together last spring. Now she's looking fabulously slim and gorgeous and I'm still a big chunker. I have had a baby inbetween of course, but still.

It doesn't help that people keep sending us English chocolate. Good people of Britain - stop it, please. I know you send it for the kids but me and Craig eat it. And yes I know that's stealing from my children but they don't know any different and besides, I'm saving their teeth. And let me tell you, Jack does not need a sugar buzz - he's already nuts.

So far I have lost a measly 30 lbs, put 4 back on and now trying to lose another 40. WW is going okay but I'm not as gung-ho as I was last year about it. Last year I had the willpower of a saint. This year I have the willpower of Roseanne Barr. I even snook a piece of pizza off Jack's plate today while he wasn't watching. Bad bad mummy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Airport Blues

I hate taking people to the airport. Hate it hate it hate it. We all stand together at the gate, them ready to take their shoes off and empty out their bags for customs and me trying not to think things like "I won't see them now for another year". Come crunch time we all hug and kiss and say how much we love each other. Usually I'm the one that cries the most, the one being left behind as it were. The journey home is always terrible. It constitutes me bawling and feeling that knot of homesickness creep into my belly. The feeling lasts anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks but does get slightly better once I know the travellers are home and safe. Having Jack with me helps because he keeps the mood light, but then all it takes is for a grandparent to hug him close and kiss his little head and I'm off again, blubbering like a schoolgirl that just got dumped.

After we left the terminal yesterday I took Jack to the roof of the parking lot and we waved at the first plane that took off, shouting "Goodbye Grandma and Grandad!" Little did I know that they were actually close by at their gate, watching us from behind tinted glass windows as we waved frantically at "their" plane leaving.

Today they are home safe and sound, drinking tea and digging out their warm cardies (it's cold and rainy in NW England). Now we have to work out how to Skype each other.

Our next visitors, Craig's mum and dad, arrive in eight weeks time. Time for me to get rid of this knot in my stomach before it jumps right back in.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Home & 5 Loads of Laundry

Got home from the big road trip last night at 8pm. We officially clocked 3,050 miles, drove through two major storms, ate our weight in garage food, nearly died in a crash, but saw some fantastic sites and met fabulous people. 

We didn't get to see all we wanted in South Dakota. We didn't get to Sitting Bull's Memorial or Little Big Horn but we can always go again.

Since we got home I've been doing laundry and kissing Danny's cheeks

Friday, July 10, 2009

Day 6: Homeward Bound (choo choo)

Miles: 500 (total 2,676)
States: South Dakota, Iowa, and 1/3 of Illinois
Somehow we managed to miss a lot today. Thankfully we missed a big storm that had golf-ball sized hail and blew semi-trucks over. We also arrived too late in LeClaire for the Buffalo Bill Museum and too late tonight in Galesburg for the Children's Museum. 

So basically we've had a full day of, well, sitting in the car and eating garbage food. Crisps, and cheese and M&Ms and pre-packed sandwiches. Everything that is listed on our pediatricians "do not let your child eat" poster has been consumed by me & Jack today.  Tonight at the fabulous Packinghouse Restaurant we both had salad because I'm scared we might be getting scurvy. 

The highlights of today were: 
  • Crossing the mighty Mississippi River 
  • Singing as loud as our lungs would allow to "I am the music man" and seeing Jack's beaming face in my rear-view mirror
  • Talking about family history with my dad & Sheila
  • Watching Jack talk to his dad on the phone and say "I love you" before he hangs up
  • Getting 500 miles done even though I was on my chin strap
The motel we are at tonight is a bit scary. It's in a rough bit of town and I keep hearing noises outside. I keep thinking of the scary film "Vacancy" where local nutters film themselves killing people that stay in the room and then play it to new occupants. Stupid I know but I do have both doors wedged with chairs and my suitcases already and I keep peeking outside the curtains at every sound.  Talking of sounds, a freight train goes past every 20 minutes, about 50 yards away from the motel, so I have a feeling that there will be lots of complaining in the car tomorrow. Turns out, Galesburg is the biggest railway town in the USA! I'm going to turn the noisy AC unit on and have a couple of glasses of wine to knock myself out. Jack of course is delighted and yells "choo choo train!" every time one goes past. There's always an upside with kids. 

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Day 5: Wounded Knee & a Big Drive

Miles today: no idea, lots
Total 2,050-ish?

Today we went to the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation and Wounded Knee. We met with some local people and walked the Wounded Knee Cemetery where the mass grave is and where Little Lost Bird is buried. We bought some crafts from three teenage girls hanging about outside.

I've thought long & hard about this blog post. I wanted to post funny stories, mostly about my dad saying things like "are we at Broken Knee yet?", but I can't post funny stuff and I can't post pictures of the reservation or Wounded Knee Cemetary because even though the people are lovely and friendly,  it is too desolate, too desperate. 

After Wounded Knee I drove for a stupid amount of time & nearly killed everyone by overtaking on a single road thinking I was on a dual-carriageway. The poor driver coming my way swerved and pointed frantically to let me know I was in his lane. I was doing 95 at the time and slammed on to get behind the driver in front of me. The whole car went quiet, even Jack, and my heart was pumping like mad for a couple of hours after. 

Tonight we're at a motel in Yankton. I'm sat up drinking and blogging and looking forward to seeing my husband and son. God I miss them. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Day 4: Deadwood & the Monuments

Deadwood is a gorgeous little historic town. During the gold rush of the 1880's over 10,000 people lived here but now there's only about 1,200. Winters must be brutal though with about 250 inches snow each season. Our hotel is the big building in the middle of the picture with white pillars - the "Franklin" ..
Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane's graves are side-by-side in the Moriah Cemetery, along with a few other local characters (prospectors, brothel owners and the sort). Wild Bill was shot in the head in Saloon Number 10 while he was playing poker. About 4 x day they reenact it around town so there's gunfire going off all the time.   Jane was my kind of woman - she rode, shot, swore and drank like a man, worked as a truck driver, scout, entertainer in Buffalo Bills Show and finally as the housemaid at the local brothel. I think I'd have liked her.

Mount Rushmore. 

The Crazy Horse Monument - 50 years in the making so far and probably won't be finished in my lifetime. It will eventually look like the statue in the foreground

My dad & Jack with a Lakota dancer we saw at the Crazy Horse Monument.
Today we start to meander south & east, to eventually get back to Ohio by Sunday. 

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Day 3: The Badlands

Miles: 300 (1,450 total)

State: South Dakota

First highlight of the day: Jack fed Prairie dogs & they fascinated him. I was more fascinated by the rattlers and fire ants – both lurking close by.  That’s one very good reason to live in England. You are definitely at the top of the food chain. No chance of being killed by alligators, bears, scorpions, tarantulas, snakes, or spiders.

The gorgeous “Badlands” are nestled at the top of the Sioux Reservation & they deserve their name. Pioneers must have come over the brow, seen them and thought “Bugger it, how on earth will I get my wagon over this?” We wound our way through them and stopped by a little reservation town called Interior to buy some food. 

The Sioux reservations in South Dakota are desolate, there’s no other word for it. People live in trailers and cars and poverty smacks you in the face everywhere you look. In Interior, we thought this jail was a joke, but it wasn’t. The water plant and local school were no better. Field boundaries aren’t made from heavy-duty wire like they are in the USA, but of old sticks and bits of lumber.  Road signs are peppered with bullet holes.  It makes you feel ashamed that Native Americans are living like this, but it is a complicated situation. The Fort Laramie treaty of 1868 gives ownership of all these lands to the Lakota, but a lot of it is American now and there are official national parks (Badlands, Mount Rushmore etc.) and other established American communities. The Supreme Court has offered $500 million in compensation but they have said no – they want their lands back. What is the answer? I have no idea.  All I know is that I walked around the Wounded Knee Museum in Wall, read the stories of the massacre and the trail of tears and I felt depressed for a long time after. 

Sitting Bull’s assassination is particularly sad. After they killed him they hid out in his house where they found his 14-year-old son hiding behind the curtains. They dragged him out and he begged for his life but they killed him anyway.  Not surprisingly, there are boxes of tissues at each stop in the museum.

Tonight we are in Deadwood, an old wild-west town that was booming in the 1880’s with gold prospectors. Saloon Number 10 is where Wild Bill Hickok got shot while playing poker, and he’s buried in the local cemetery next to Calamity Jane.  Our hotel was built in 1903, and is just oozing with nostalgia. As I’m typing this I’m looking at large pictures on the wall of local tribesmen riding their horses over the Badlands. This is the real deal and a definite holiday destination if you love the history of the Wild West.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Road Trip: Day 2

Miles: 600 (total 1,150)
States: Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota
"I want to get out": only 8 because Grandad was chief toddler entertainer and did a fabulous job. It's his birthday today too.

Best discovery: Drinking a Red Bull with a large coffee chaser will allow you to drive for several more hours than you had planned. 

Most scary moment: driving along the top of the world on a huge open road in Minnesota and being enveloped by a ferocious storm. The sky was black, the rain and wind hammered against the car and I swear it felt like we were so high up that we were driving right though a storm cloud. My hands gripped the wheel and I clenched my teeth and prayed for it to stop. The Fed Ex van in front was my rock and I clung to its tailgate.  Isn't it funny how we cling to other human beings at times like this? Sheila (my step-mum) lent over, patted my knee and said "are you okay love?" and that prompted me to unhook my fingers from the steering wheel and breath for the first time in 20 miles. 

The scenery didn't get breathtaking & dramatic until we got into South Dakota. The landscape is right out of a western movie and the history of the wild west is rich here. Tonight we are in a little motel in Chamberlain on the Missouri River. Our room has a river view and we just got back from the local cafe where I ate a buffalo burger. I couldn't bring myself to eat the calf soup.

The sad part is not sharing this with Craig and Danny, who I miss like mad. Me & Craig toured all round here several years ago & he loves to travel too. We ring him several times a day and it's lovely to watch Jack talk with him now. He says "Bye daddy, I love you" when he hangs up and I go all mushy every time.

Now the driving is done I feel like the holiday can begin.  Tomorrow we'll visit Wall Drug, Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation, the Badlands, Black Hills, and Mount Rushmore, before heading up to stay in the wild west town of Deadwood.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Road Trip: Day 1

Miles: 550
States: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin
Times I heard "I want to get out": over 100
Interesting sites: none (there's a reason people don't go on holiday to the Midwest, unless they have a thing for corn fields)
We stayed overnight at the Super Motel 8 in Janesville, WI. Overall a good day and we got a big chunk of milage done. Our Jack finally snapped about 7pm. I had told him a dozen times on the journey that we were not going home but were instead going on a vacation. As we pulled into Janesville and he was screaming and waving his cushion around his head, I said "Jack be quiet!" and he yelled back "NO! I am on my holidays!"
Today we tackle Wisconsin and Minnesota ...

The Great Big Drive

Jack had a great birthday weekend and today we set off on a 3,000 mile round-trip to Wyoming.
I'll try and post as I go along, depending on how exhausted I am as I'll be doing all the driving (Craig and Danny are staying home). I'm taking toys, books, treats and the grandparents - hopefully this will amuse my 3-year old between car naps.
Wish me luck!!!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Jack's 3rd Birthday Party

Jack's 3rd birthday weekend started with a party tonight. I was supposed to finish early at work but got held up, then I had told everyone to bring swimmy stuff but it was only 70 degrees & cloudy so I was worried it was going to be horribly boring and a total wash-out. Turns out it was fab! We had just a handful of his best friends and we all sat out in my garden and watched the kids play.

Deciding where to seat his friends

The first guest and his best friend, Katy. Don't they just look like 100% trouble?

Batman, Captain Hook & Spiderwoman

Wonderful friends

Our English garden party, complete with triangular egg & cress sandwiches (success!), sausage rolls, cheese & pineapple sticks, and cakes 

My lad Jack had so much fun. When one of his friends was leaving he said to his dad "this was the best party ever" and he shouted from his car "Jack Rocks!" Ohhhh, that makes me feel good. Next up, a weekend full of fireworks and parades. What a fantastic time of year for a birthday. My poor Danny won't have half as much fun.