Thursday, December 30, 2010

Terrible Terrible Twos

I have spent all day (well from 7am till now - 9pm) shouting at and threatening and just about near throttling my kids. I have no patience, I have not nurtured today and I have been the least responsible person in the house. If I could have run away to join a band of gypsies I would have happily gathered up my belongings in a gingham table cloth and jumped onto the first passing caravan.

Here's why being an older parents sucks sometimes (and not just because getting toys from under the telly hurts my knees). I'm more responsible yes, but I'm more selfish. I've had 10 years of doing exactly what I wanted with my time. I've had 10 years of quiet and order and a clean house. Now it's like a bomb has gone off. Not just in my house but in my head. Today I had a long car ride with Danny kicking the back of my chair and screaming and it was a nightmare. Each visit to a cafe or museum or in fact anywhere today resulted in me taking him out and sitting in the car in the parking lot until the rest of the family joined me. It's 9 pm and he is still running around the bedroom like the Tasmanian Devil.

I have definitely been spoiled with my oldest, Jack. He's always been spirited too but not crazy like my youngest. Danny is hyperactive and I'm not using that term lightly. He's up at 6.30-7am every day, regardless of what time he went to bed. He rarely naps and he refuses to sleep until he drops down exhausted. He runs and climbs and gets into so much mischief I have to watch him like a hawk. How on earth we haven't been in the emergency room 10 times already I don't know. Is he loving and sweet? Yes. Is he nuts? Yes.

Reading hasn't helped me. Google tells me to feed him protein foods, give him a strict daily schedule and always use positive discipline (eh?). Very helpful advice I know but not too apt in the moment. When he's thrashing on his bed doing crocodile rolls and screaming that he doesn't want to stay in bed I resort to all the worst parenting tactics for lack of knowing how to handle him. Then I read a woman's blog tonight who has a hyper child. She talked about embracing it and how fun & exciting it made her life. Really? Fun? I think it's about as fun as being forced to sit in a room full of small, noisy, flying things that bite your face.

You know, I really don't want two demure kids, devoid of spirit and adventure. After all, I want my boys to have confidence and be happy. But dear God I need some helpful advice right now on how to stop my youngest from driving me into the nut-house. Each day I go to bed feeling like a terrible failure of a parent. I also feel sorry for Jack, since so much of my energy gets eaten up.

Could this possibly be an amplified "terrible twos" that will pass with time?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Pictures

It's Christmas Eve and I'm feeling good. The presents are wrapped, the parcels have been posted to England and the turkey is defrosting nicely. Since Dot & Harry got here we've been busy so I'll just post some pictures of our week ...

Char & Jan came in from California last night and stopped by before they set off for their family gathering. We decorated their truck with reindeer antlers, a sign that reads "Santa's little helpers" on the windshield, and a big sign on the back that says "Honk if you like Santa!"

Danny is becoming such a bright and smiley boy. I can't wait to see his face in the morning when he opens his toy trains. He loves trains.

Talking of trains, they have a huge train display at the library and we took the boys.

We did a drive-through light display at Alum Creek State Park which was really nice, so that is definitely going to be something we do each year. Think Blackpool lights without the drunken stag-night people throwing themselves in front of your car.

Our neighbour's tree continues to fascinate me. That I can see this each night from my kitchen window makes me a lucky lady indeed. They showed me letters and electric bill donations they get each year from appreciative people in the community.

View from my side kitchen window: more snow is forecast today and tomorrow so hopefully we can take the boys sledding tomorrow afternoon.

Snow angel!
He did this while we were at the Dickens Christmas event at the Ohio Historical Society last weekend. There is a recreated Dickensian village with actors in character, St. Nick is there and there's bonfires with roasted chestnuts and all other kinds of interesting things to do.

So there we are - just a few snaps as I don't feel like I've posted too much this week.
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you have a lovely weekend! X

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reading This, Watched That

I'm reading "In America" right now by Stephen Fry. The TV series ran in England but not here. I love Stephen Fry and his fantastic way with words. His book is cracking me up on every page as he captures America. He's travelling through each state but I'm so disappointed that he didn't come into Ohio. He has his picture taken on the state line and passes us right by. What a missed opportunity!! How can you not come to the state that was the original wild west, that has Neil Armstrong, John Glenn, The US Air Force Museum, The Wright Brothers, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and one of the largest and most historical football stadiums in the country? Oh well, it's a great book nevertheless. Here's a short trailer for the series:

We just watched the movie Winter's Bone and it was great. Can't say enough good things about it. A word of caution though - if the idea of watching a squirrel being skinned and gutted makes you want to throw up, you may want to have a cushion handy.

I'm not a big telly watcher. Now that Walking Dead has finished I am back to just putting cartoons on for the kids. Craig likes the new Wild Justice series though and much to my chagrin watches Sarah Palin. He watches it to see what stupid stuff she'll do, especially when she goes hunting. I can't watch her anymore that I could watch Glenn Beck or Nick Griffin. They are each far too vile for words.

If any of you have suggestions for good movies that I could get over Christmas please let me know. Next on our Netlifx list is Grown Ups ...

Friday, December 17, 2010

This Week's Shiny Baubles & Turkeys

Let's start with a lovely shiny bauble - I got a Facebook friend request from my eighty year old Auntie Jean in England. How marvelous is that.

And now a turkey - my cat Tutz took a dump behind the Christmas tree. Why oh why do they do that kind of thing? It drives me insane.

Onto a shiny note - There's been a plethora of wildlife at our house lately. Birds in my garden include cardinals, blue jays, robins (big American ones, not rotund cuties like in England), woodpeckers and this little guy that I can't identify. A creeper maybe?

Deer are everywhere, except my husbands 12-gauge scope! It's not hard to see why they are so difficult to see in the woods when you see this picture -

Here they are outside my kitchen window. Ironically, when I took this picture my husband was in Perry County Forest hunting for the same thing.

A small turkey - It's time to stop saying unrepeatable things in front of Jack. This morning as I was removing a toy from a room I muttered under my breath "this thing has just been a bloody nuisance since we got it", to which Jack exclaimed "Mum, it is not a bloody nuisance!" Oops.

Shiny baubles galore - It is fantastic to have Craig's mum and dad sharing Christmas with us. The kids are in heaven & it's nice to have some help with them. It also feels more like a proper Christmas with family in town. Before we had kids Craig and I would rattle around the house and it was fun but not festive, if you know what I mean.

I could say the weather is a turkey - it's frigid cold and snowing most days. But it looks so pretty I just can't bring myself to complain about it.

This weekend we are going to venture out and look at lights so I'll try and take some good pictures. They never come out like I'd like them to but I'll give it my best shot.
Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

English Booty & Feeling Festive

On Monday, Craig's mum & dad (Dot & Harry) got here from England and brought this:

So I will need much larger pants by January.

On Wednesday it was Jack's Christmas show at school and he did great. We sat in the packed church pews and watched as the little ones, all dressed up for their Christmas party, came down the aisle. Our Jack looked terrified and at one point I saw him do a big gulp and thought oh no! he's going to be sick!, so I waved until he spotted us and he gave us a big grin & relaxed. He sang his little heart out and did all the motions. I was so proud of him and was on the verge of tears the whole time. Dot cried too - it was just so festive and the kids were so cute that you couldn't help yourself.

Can you spot him? (top right, surrounded by girls)

After his show there was a party in his room and Santa came. Jack asked me if it was the real Santa (I've told him the big guy has many helpers, since you see them everywhere) and I said I wasn't sure. As we were leaving, Jack went up to Santa and squished his belly! Santa said "are you checking to make sure I'm the real Santa young man?" and Jack said yes. That's my boy.

Talking of cheeky monkeys, the room situation has not got any better. It's an effing nightmare actually. I can only make Danny sleep if he has no nap during the day, the room is pitch black and he's on his own. Even then it's taking him 40 minutes to fall asleep. Poor Jack has to stay out of the room till we know the little bugger is asleep. Sigh.

It's great having Dot & Harry here though. It really feels like Christmas and the boys are excited. And it's snowing and there's pretty lights everywhere. I couldn't feel more festive if I tried. Tra la la la la la la la la ......

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Craig's mum & dad arrive Monday. Usually, we set them up in our bedroom and we sleep in the basement, which is very open and light and actually not like a basement at all, but it is cold down there this time of year and I'm not keen on sleeping down there all over Christmas. I also didn't want Danny, who's bedroom is next to ours, kicking the walls at 6.30am shouting "Mama! Baba!" like he does each morning. I'm sure even the most doting of grandparents would find that annoying after a few days.

SO, we moved the boys in together. And good grief. What the hell were we thinking. It has so far resulted in them staying up till 11pm and waking up at 7am. Daniel also refused to nap today and there has been much rambunctious behaviour. Danny had a bloody nose last night and the room is constantly a disaster zone. My blood pressure is at boiling point with it all. Surely it will get better?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Real Deal Santa

We took the boys to see Santa today at our local garden center. It's the same place we've been to since Jack was a baby and I'm so pleased because there's a new Santa and he looks real! Even got a real beard and big belly and the staff were telling me that he's in character all the time. This is a major improvement from the man we've seen in the past that wore a big fake beard & made it seem like a chore.
I was very proud of the boys. They were both polite and friendly, though Danny was a bit shell-shocked by the whole thing as you can see!

It's great to look back on this blog and see each Santa visit, and I've linked to each of them, more for my benefit than anyone else's.

Jack at 6 months old in 2006
Jack at 18 months old in 2007
Jack at 2.5 years in 2008
Jack at 3.5 years and Danny at 11 months in 2009

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Happy Birthday Craig!

My better half turned 41 today and he's celebrating in a most manly way.

We got him a nice gun cleaning kit in a wooden box and all kinds of good stuff, like Superman undies. Jack was jealous and made me promise that he can get Superman undies for his birthday too. I also bought Craig a Zip-it on the advice of our friend Brian. At $2.95 it's becoming this years hot gift for men that like to get nasty stuff out of plug-holes!

Tonight he had smokey bar-b-q ribs for tea and now he's watching "The Expendables, which is a crazy shoot-em-up film with Stallone, Stratham, Willis, Lundgren, Rourke and a few other muscle men that are 65 but look 50. Arnie even has a cameo. In the opening scene Dolph Lundgren shoots a man with a grenade launcher and splat! You can imagine the type of film it is so Craig's in heaven.

Gun season started this past week, so he's taking a day off work tomorrow and headed into the woods with his 12 gauge. If I'm honest I don't like gun season too much. I much prefer him to go into the woods during bow season. There are far too many yahoos with guns for my liking (think Dick Cheney). Anyway, he's going to be dressed in bright orange from head to toe and he'll text me when he can. He should have just got his bow out on Tuesday morning when we had an 8-point buck and a doe eating berries in our garden. Jack was so excited and told me they were Santa's reindeer, bless.

So Happy Birthday Craig from me & the boys. And stay safe in them there woods. X

Coldplay's New Song for Christmas

I like it - do you?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaBloPoMo Ends - Xmas Begins!

Well I did it - 30 posts in 30 days! It wasn't a chore to be honest as I like blogging, but I'm gearing up for all kinds of things now and should really spend my time more wisely each evening.

As of tomorrow it's officially Christmas in my house. We are going to celebrate all month long, including watching Santa jump out of a helicopter tomorrow night. Then there's Santa to see, presents to buy, wrap and send, and Jack's Christmas play at school. And my MIL and FIL arrive in two weeks time to spend Christmas and New Year with us. In between all of this and January 1 I have my husband's birthday in two days time, my full-time job and a big work conference. And at some point this century I need to Skype my best friend Sue.

But back to the festivities. Want, might you ask, am I hoping for for Christmas? Haven't you noticed it yet? I want to be a part of THE wedding of course! I want tea-towels, pinnies, tea cosies and mugs. I want them all. Bring it on. I am thinking of hosting a wedding party on the big day too. Will you come?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Top 10 Reasons I Like Living with my 4-Yr Old

1. He insisted on sleeping in a large cardboard box last night, rather than his own bed
2. He wears shorts every opportunity he gets, even in winter
3. I find odd things, like plastic eyeballs, in his pockets when I do his laundry
4. He asks passers-by if they'd like to pick a worm out of his gardening bucket
5. He jumps in leaves that were just raked up
6. He shouts hello to neighbors, the mailman and anybody else within earshot
7. He has hilarious conversations with himself when he plays pretend
8. He finds Christmas absolutely magical
9. He thinks we are the greatest thing since sliced bread
10. He makes us laugh every day. Today, he saw our dog Cody stood by a lamp post and said "Is Cody waiting for a bus?"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Heights of Monkeydom

Danny reached new heights in cheeky-monkeydom today when I took him to the local supermarket with me to buy food. Now, I'm used to him causing havoc by yelling, screaming, rattling the trolley, biting the handle bar and doing all kinds of typical toddler stuff. In fact I've become immune to the stares of those that don't have kids or have forgotten that they were once a terror. In fact, if anyone so much as tuts or rolls their eyes I give them the "go ahead make my day" stare right back.

In other words, I have become somewhat unfazed by the nightmare that is taking a toddler to go food shopping.

So today I'm in the cereal aisle, looking for the store brand of Cheerios (it's been a tight month) and Danny starts violently rocking back and forth, trying to get out of the shopping cart and saying "down". When I sush him he gets that glint in his eyes, then really goes for it and starts yelling at the top of his lungs "HELP!, HELP!, HELP!" and I swear, about 5 people came into the aisle to investigate which toddler was being murdered.

No amount of sushing, ferocious whispering or pulling funny faces would make him stop so I had to make a hasty retreat. Little monkey. It seems that Mr. Daniel has found a new and most ingenious way to humiliate his mum.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Beat Blue: Part 2

Today's game was fabulous. It was freezing cold but well worth bracing the weather to watch the last game of the season. The Buckeyes won 37-7.

The big controversy of the day is the new block "O" gloves. When the Buckeyes did something great, they formed an "O", to the delight of the crowd. The referees were most disgruntled and gave us at least two penalties for over- celebration. Eh? What? If this is over celebration then I'm Barbara Bush. Complete tosh.

The Buckeyes also wore retro uniforms to honor the 1942 team. They were very cool indeed. This is not a picture of them, just a picture I took of our Mascot Brutus Buckeye, celebrating in the endzone. Now THAT's celebrating (gloves? Pah!)

At one point I found myself stood next to Michigan's flag bearers in Lady Gaga mode. Cute!

As a treat for the poor boys who'd been cooped up in the basement all day (dad was watching the football at home), we took them to their favourite play place tonight and they played like maniacs for a hour. Our Danny has completely abandoned the toddler area and now goes into the big kids area, which is high-up and sometimes I don't see him for several minutes. It's not good for my blood pressure I can tell you.

Next up - Craig's birthday week! My better half turns 41. I think he'd look rather dashing in one of those retro jerseys.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Girl Friends = Priceless

Today we went to a 3-year olds birthday party and it was great. Happy Birthday Mr.C! You are a cute force to be reckoned with and I look forward to watching you grow & take on the world.

Not to take away from the lovely birthday boy but OMG, did I have a good time tonight! I laughed my arse off with these women. We drank (lots of) wine and exchanged war stories of kids with fantastic honesty. I need to do this once a month, I really do. I laughed so hard tonight that my stomach aches.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving at Highbanks

Happy Thanksgiving!
We spent a big chunk of it hiking at Highbanks Park. The rain kept off for the time we were there and the kids had a great time picking up sticks and leaves and splashing in puddles. As I type, Craig & Danny having post-dinner naps and Jack is playing in a big cardboard box I found at work yesterday and dragged home.

A pair of Bald Eagles. What an absolute treat to see them today!

View from the observation deck

Native American earthworks that run in a circle, for about 1/4 mile around where their camp probably stood. The mounds are made of red and yellow riverbed clay not common to the area, so brought from miles away.

200 year-old oak trees that were planted in a line and marked the boundary of the Pool Family's farm. They came from New York to make a new life in Ohio and they had 13 kids. She died at age 37 and he at 53 & their gravestones are on one of the trails. Times were hard for the frontiers folk of Ohio; harsh weather, little food and bears and Shawnee & Mohican Indians trying to kill you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Long Live the Leg Lamp

It's Thanksgiving here tomorrow and we now have four glorious days off. Craig has recorded "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" on DVR so that will be our holiday film. It never fails to make me laugh and then of course cry like a baby at the end. It is the perfect Thanksgiving movie.

Talking of perfect holiday movies, here's the boys looking at "The Christmas Story" display at the zoo last weekend. I tried to explain why the leg lamp and the boys tongue stuck to the flag pole were funny but they didn't quite get it. Christmas Story is my absolute favourite Christmas film and we watch it at least once every year. It baffles us why it isn't big in England. We hadn't heard of it before we came here. Being English I can say with some degree of confidence that English people would love this film because Brits love a comedy. But it hasn't migrated across the Atlantic for some reason. Another reason I love this film of course is that it's set in Ohio.

Okay, I have to go now. Craig just put "The Hangover" on again and I'm in the mood for a good laugh. Tomorrow I'll post Thanksgiving pictures.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pediatrician Rant

I'm going to have a rant for a few minutes so if you aren't in the mood to hear me going off on one, then come back tomorrow and I'll try to be more cheerful.

We have been with our lads pediatrician, Dr. B., for 4.5 years (since just before Jack was born). We chose him because he's young, dynamic and has grown his family along with ours - he has two boys the same age as ours. Along the way I've heard a few negatives about him as far as his experience and some silly things he's come out with, and I've got at least one friend who moved to another doctor because she wasn't satisfied. But we chugged along because we liked him and I wanted to keep the status-quo. And sometimes the grass isn't greener is it.

Not that I haven't been annoyed with him over the years. Firstly, in each exam room there's a big mirror behind the examination table and when he talks to me, he actually talks to his own reflection while he talks to me. Weird I know but I thought it was just his quirk. Then when he found out that Jack was leaving his bedroom to use the toilet at night he told me to lock him in his room with a potty, for his own safety. I just ignored that ridiculous advice. One final annoyance is that every time I call the office, they brush me off with "there's a bug going round" and I feel like I have to fight to get an appointment sometimes.

When Danny was born and spitting up violently, it took at least ten visits and finally me telling them I was convinced he had pyloric stenosis before they sent him for an ultrasound where he was diagnosed with it. When Danny was in the hospital after his operation, Dr. B. called me and spent 1 minute enquiring about Danny and 5 minutes making sure we didn't blame him for not diagnosing it sooner. Craig and I even laughed about it, how he must have been terrified of us suing him or something. I should have left him then, but we persevered.

So we kept going with him - through the silly advice, the mirror consultations and the front office staff being at best dismissive and at worst downright rude. Just recently, Jack also failed a hearing test during a routine check and there's been no follow-up, when he said there would be.

When Jack got HSP at the beginning of October, Dr. B. wasn't in the office that day so I was referred to the hospital by another doctor. When I took Jack in to see him a few days later he got his medical book out and looked up "HSP" as he was giving us a consultation (via the mirror). During the visit, Jack started to complain loudly about tummy ache and actually doubled over on the floor, clutching his stomach and saying "Mummy my tummy hurts!" I bent over and stroked his back and asked if he was okay. Dr. B. continued to stand over Jack, never once spoke to him and told me that kids that have been in hospital have a tendency to make stuff up when they get discharged. I was so shocked at his behavior that I just left and went home, but by the time I got there I was hopping mad and I rang them back and told the front office staff that next time I came in I wanted Jack to be taken seriously. That afternoon, after he vomited blood, Jack was re-admitted to hospital for a few days. This time when Dr. B. called me at the hospital I ignored his phone calls.

As part of the HSP recovery I have to get Jack's urine tested weekly for protein, since kidney failure is a part of the condition. The first week, Craig took him so I didn't have to see Dr. B. The second time I took him, Dr. B was his usual arrogant self. He told me that instead of taking Jack into the office I could just have him pee in a cup (he'd give us some) and drop the pee off for analysis. Great I thought! He then wrote this down on a note, gave it to me and said each week, take the pee to an urgent care facility, give them this note and they'll know what to do. What? The urgent care facilities are MILES away from my house. The doctors office is 5 minutes away - why would I drive miles away? Then on the way out to the car, Jack reminded me that Dr. B. has also omitted to give me any pee cups. I thought, that's it. I'm done with this guy. That was last week.

This afternoon Linda called me at 4pm and said she thought Jack might have an ear infection. I called Dr. B's office and told them I needed to get him in and they said "we're full", not "Sorry but we are full for the rest of the afternoon, here's your nearest urgent care facility - take him there. I hope he's okay!" Just "we're full". I said what should I do?, and she scoffed at me and said "take him to urgent care". Children's urgent care were wonderful. They diagnosed an infection in each ear, prescribed antibiotics and they also took a urine sample to check for protein and most importantly they treated us all with respect.

So I am finally finished with Dr. B. He can kiss my ass. Tomorrow morning I am calling another pediatricians office and switching my boys over to somebody who isn't so egotistical that they have to look at themselves in the mirror when they talk to you. I truly believe this guy likes the fame and fortune being a doctor brings him, but he has no empathy for kids. As long as I live I will see him standing over Jack while my boy was laid at his feet, crippled with pain.

That's it. Rant over.

Beat Blue Week: Part 1

When I lived in England I thought American football was boring compared to proper football (soccer) because they stop and start, and stop and start. It seemed like nobody ever got anything done. But here's the thing about American football. It is not like soccer or rugby. Do not compare it to either sport. Think of American football as you would a game of chess or a military operation. It is strategic and organized. There are teams for each situation and complicated strategies for each situation. No, they will not run for 90 minutes - that isn't the game. The game is all about outsmarting the opponent with strategy, and that's that why I love it.

What's interesting is that the BBC did a documentary about Ohio State and Coach Woody Hayes back in 1977. They must have heard about the legendary coach and wanted to meet him. I did try and find the original on the web but couldn't. By the way though, I've seen Woody's original chalkboard - are you impressed? (I would guess friends in the USA would say yes, UK no). So anyway, this week is Ohio State-Michigan Week. The biggest rivalry game in college football. I love this game. Love it. Please bear with me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Things on our Magnetic Board

At school this morning, Jack made his Thanksgiving card & told his teachers he was thankful for me, has dad, his grandparents and his pets. I had talked to him this past weekend about it and in hindsight it would have been a lot funnier if I hadn't, since at least two of his friends said they were thankful for cereal and tractors.

He wrote his letter to Santa tonight. He said the words and I wrote them down verbatim. I am very proud of him - he now writes his "J" with the tail off to the left as it should be. Until this week he'd been doing it backwards, to the right. The picture is a kid's air hockey table, in case you were a bit confused.

Lastly, I find this too funny not to post (sorry teachers). Last week the kids took stuffed animal toys to school and put on a pet puppet-show. Jack took a skunk and got this cute certificate from a teacher that, erm, can't spell. . .

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Play-Dates, Games, & Zoo Lights

I haven't been too good at reading other people's blogs and commenting this weekend, sorry. I will catch up tomorrow I promise. This weekend has been a bit nuts. To start with, we've hosted THREE kiddie play-dates this weekend. Am I Mary Poppins or what.

- The first one went great and Jack & his buddy were so alike it was a breeze. I organized this play-date on the advice of his teacher who had told me these boys were on the same emotional level. How right she was.
- The second, we really liked the parents but while we were chatting and the boys were playing upstairs, the visiting boy (who is nearly a year older than Jack) swiped our Jack a few times across the face with a hard plastic sword and gave him a cut on his cheek and eyelid. This boy was a tad sullen and aggressive and I'm not sure I want him back but his parents were great and maybe if I watched a bit more closely it might be ok. Jack first of all told me today that he didn't want this kid to come back, but tonight he recanted. We'll see.
- The third play-date was a walk in the park with his buddy Eva - her and him are two peas in a pod and spent their time pretending to camp in makeshift tents in the front room.

We also hosted an impromptu gathering for the Buckeye game with some neighbours, including our 85-year old neighbour with progressive Alzheimer's. He was surprisingly aware of everything and getting most vocal about the game but on his way over here he swayed from the front path and tried to enter our house by scaling the garden fence. God bless him.

Today I had my first lie-in since September and got up at 10.30am (thank you Craig!) I'm not a complete sloth you know - Danny had kept me awake since 5 am crying for his blankie that was in the wash.

It was gorgeous weather today so we've spent a huge chunk of the day outside at the park and then at the zoo tonight.

I think he might be a bit happy!

Now I'm gearing up for our new show "Walking Dead" at 10pm before bed. Just 3 days at work this week then Thanksgiving. Jack has to tell the class tomorrow what he is thankful for. I hope he says "family", and not "English chocolate".

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kids - No Way!

I never ever wanted kids. Told my mum and all that would listen that NO, I would not be swayed. When I met Craig I said know this! I will never have kids! Hate them! I have a career, I'm too busy, want to do too much with my life to get straddled with kids. And he said I never want kids either, and I thought I'd hit the jackpot! Yea! No Kids!

We were married for a fantastic and adventure-laden ten years when my best friend Sue in England told me she was pregnant. I got to meet her son Noah when he was one year old and starting to walk and he was so lovely I could have brought him home with me. Then I got home to Ohio and it stewed in my mind. Looking back, the fact that I had 2 cats, a dog and a huge desire to mother them should have given me a clue ....

So I said to Craig. Erm, I've been thinking. I think I would like to have a baby. And he said Really? Now, Imagine that said in the context of "this car repair is going to cost five thousand dollars", and not "we are going to Disneyland!" And I said yes, really. And he said sigh - okay. Let's do it, if that's what you want. The first month we tried we were in Brooklyn NY, at a hotel next to Halsey Street Station. The second month we tried England football team were through to the semi-finals of the World Cup. So the kid's name could have been Halsey or Rooney. Thank God for fate, huh.

At the end of that 2nd month, I was so excited that I had bought a load of pregnancy testers and was doing one every day that I should have started to be pregnant. I peed on a stick on one of those weekends then took it down to the basement while I did laundry. I kept looking at the stick, and it took about 2 minutes of intensive staring but the line finally formed into a very faint pink.I raced, two at a time, up the stairs and announced "we're pregnant!" and Craig scooped me up and we celebrated.

So here's me and Craig on our wedding day, cutting our cupcake. My best friend Sue, who's son Noah made me love children, is in the background. After this picture, Sue drove us to the airport and me and Craig went skydiving for a week in Spain.
Fantastic times :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Would You Like to Swing on a Star?

I will start this post by saying that Craig has been teaching Jack toilet humor in the form of finger pulling, toe pulling (he's creative), and laughing raucously at trouser coughs (farts).

And so.

Tonight at 10 pm, after we'd had special movie night in the basement watching Toy Story 3 (again) & eating popcorn, I took Jack to bed and he was absolutely exhausted. As per usual I stroked his hair and sang a song "You are my Sunshine" (his song). I thought he might need one more to be totally asleep so I sang-whispered "Twinkle twinkle", and then thought, he's going to be ZONKED if I sing-whisper "horsey horsey". And yes, he was dead asleep.
I thought to myself, you know what? My mum used to sing "Swing on a Star" to me and it meant a lot and I'd like Jack to have that memory, so I sang it and my heart filled with love.

And then Jack did a huge trump, woke himself up at the noise, and burst out laughing and I was a wreck, laughing so hard I fell over all dramatic, which made him and me laugh more. What a good laugh our lad is.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Butties for Babes

Movie director Stephen Frears made two great comedies years ago, one called The Van and one called The Snapper. Both were about the same working class family in Ireland and they were both hilarious and touching. Anyway, there was a scene in one where the husband, who's a bit of a bully at one point, says to his wife "I'm sick to death of having easy slices (cheese singles) on my sandwiches! For the love of God woman, give me something else!" As he leaves for work the next morning, the wife is in the front doorway, leaning nonchalantly against the doorpost, and her daughter says "easy slices ma?" and she says "yeah". It's such a classic moment.

What am I babbling on about now you might wonder? Well packed lunches as it happens. Packed lunches are the bloody bane of my life. Here's why:

The lunch has to be cold
He hates cucumber
No choking hazards such as grapes, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and celery. Celery? really? Call me cynical but never in 41 years did I ever hear about anyone dying of celery asphyxiation.
No pb & j or anything that might harm kids with allergies, which is a fair point and one well taken
He loves egg sandwiches but I don't want to make the lunch room stink of trouser-coughs
I am far too busy & normal to make stuff like this ..

Any ideas for me? Please?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moonshined Popcorn: TS3

I took Jack to see Toy Story 3 tonight at the cinema. His first ever cinema visit. When the film started he leaned over and whispered "this is the best time in my whole life!"

To save some money I made popcorn at home and filled a ziplock bag with it and snook it in my bag. As we were leaving the house Linda said to Jack "don't tell them at the cinema that you have your own popcorn" which is tantamount to telling him to tell them at the cinema that we have our own popcorn. As we were walking towards the entrance doors he looked up at me and said "mummy, I'll tell them we have NO popcorn!" Oh dear. Thankfully he didn't say anything to humiliate me in the foyer so we munched our way through our cheap popcorn had a fine old time. Imagine being told by the teenager at the counter to remove your moonshined popcorn from your bag before being allowed entry. It would have taken me a few weeks to get over that one.

What a great film and nowhere near as scary for Jack as I thought it was going to be - in fact Jack wasn't fazed at all. We laughed a lot and of course I cried at the end. So a big thumbs up for Toy Story 3. As I'm sat here typing, Jack is playing with his Buzz and Woody toys, pretending they are flying all over the front room and shouting "To divinity and beyond!" Good enough.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pam Ayres: Husbands

Someone sent this to me today and it gave me a chuckle so thought I'd share it. I used to love Pam Ayres so I'm please to see that she's still at it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Zombies & Captain America

My post tonight is going to be a mix of discombobulated nonsense, sorry.

There are several things rattling around in my head that I want to share, like the new series that me and Craig have started watching: "Walking Dead" about Zombies in Atlanta. It's great, with lots of zombie action, blood, eating of rats and frantic running of our young and beautiful heroes. It scares Craig enough that he has nightmares. Not me though. Ghosts and zombies are a breeze. It's real life scary people that scare me to death, like the Petit family murderers. Anyway, what's quite funny is that at the end of each episode, we enter a competition every Sunday to be a zombie! Oh I hope we win. I'd love to be a zombie for a day. Rargghhhh!

Jack is currently Captain America. He takes the metal lid off my bread-bin and uses it as his shield, then puts on his winter gloves and runs around the house protecting everyone. It's just fantastic to watch. Must video him.

Danny has been thwarted in his quest to shove his hands down his pants every time he poos. I have found onsies for 3-year olds that fit him! I wish I could find a similar fix for his major tantrums. We had two today: one when I tried to take his toothbrush away and one when we brought him away from his train table for dinner tonight. Poor Linda told me that she doesn't enjoy taking him to the park as he does it when she makes them leave and people stare. How bad is that? My child causes such a commotion in the park that people stare!

My Christmas cards from Shutterfly have been shipped! Yes, I got the deal by doing a promotional blog post about the company but all I know is this: I have 50 gorgeous and personally designed Christmas cards for $8.43 s&h. It should have cost $109!! You can't even buy 50 crap snow-scene cards for $8.43. The only stipulation is that you have a blog and that you do a post about it. Easy!

That's it. Maybe next time I'll talk about the Black Friday deals, changing pediatricians (mine is an arse) and my question on whether to put your young child in Kindergarten at 5 or 6. But not now. Now I'm going to make sure there's no zombies in the basement and then go to bed. :-)

Friday, November 12, 2010

First Meeting with Mrs. M

We had our first parent:teacher conference this morning. I was a bit flustered and a few minutes late because Daniel had, for the third time this week, decided to stick his hands down his pants after he'd pood, then smear it all over his bed, wall, and self. Stinky poo everywhere. I can only hope that my neighbours had their baby monitor turned off as they'd have heard some rather rude words coming out of my mouth this morning.

Anyway, we met Mrs M. at Jack's school and we saw some of his work and discussed his progress. They commented on his good manners and friendly personality. She said she loved that he'll just come over to you and tell you a story. Tell lots of stories actually. And he concentrates at circle time and he's not aggressive with other kids and he's generally doing GREAT. I knew all of this already (I have lived with him for 4 years after all), but it's so NICE to hear someone else tell you how amazing your child is.

One thing I need to do is more numbers (1-20 by next summer is the goal) and name-writing and using scissors etc. But she gave me some wonderful ideas on how to make it fun, instead of making him sit down and just write it all out which he finds tedious (boring even for us, hey).
Here's some things she suggested:
  • Give him M&Ms after dinner and let him separate out the colours and count them as he eats them. Trouble is, I hate M&Ms (hint to English friends - send Smarties! Please! On second thoughts - it's probably not allowed by Customs is it?)
  • Show him numbers around the house - on the front door, on food packages etc.
  • Teach him my phone number and how to ring it
  • Have him cut out favourite pictures of toys from magazines & glue them in a book.
  • Have him tell me a story and I'll write it down word-for-word in a book, so he'll get to recognise words he's actually spoken
  • Play with his food - let him make shapes and count his food items on his plate
That's all I can remember right now.

I'd love to hear more suggestions any of you might have because my idea box is empty. It's 35 years since I was at elementary school and all I can remember is that we played British bulldog a lot and tried to avoid eating the semolina that stuck to the bowl, even when you turned it upside down and shook it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's Cowboy Time!

We were off today for Veteran's Day. It was a gorgeous day - I think we actually reached 70 degrees and it was sunny and calm, in complete contrast to the gales in England that looked awful. The poor weatherman in Blackpool that I was watching on the BCC website was being whipped about and had ruddy cheeks from the sea spray.

We played outside a lot and then later this afternoon I met my friend Kristen at a local indoor play area so our kids could go nuts in the play-set and we could sit & chat. It's always good adult therapy and we got to eat pizza - bonus, as they say over here!

I captured a 30-second video in the garden today of Jack being a rodeo cowboy. And if you look in the left background you'll see Danny putting soil & small rocks in the air conditioning unit. Little terror. Sorry about the video quality. I don't know how to change the settings when I export for web through Quicktime...

Finally, Happy 60th Birthday to my step-mum Sheila and of course Thank You to veterans past and present.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dame Vera of Course

It's 11.32 pm and I just sat down to do my daily post. We are sat in the basement and Craig is watching a horror film as I type. Phew (and a big slug of wine) - that was a long and hard day.

ANYWAY. It's Veteran's Day tomorrow. Armistice Day. Poppy Day. Remembrance Day (for my Nana Lloyd especially). A day to celebrate soldiers that have served and are still serving in the armed forces.I have been wearing my poppy all week (thanks mum) because they do not sell poppies in the USA - but a colleague told me they used to. Why not now I wonder?

I'll be posting tomorrow about other things happening on the 11th, but for right now I want to post a music video of one of my favourite people on earth - Dame Vera Lynn. She was the force's sweetheart and she makes me proud to be British. Here she is singing "we'll meet again".

And if you'd like to hear more modern versions, then here's two good ones ...

Johnny Cash

Hayley Westenra

So to all those serving. THANKS.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Two Thumbs up for Christmas Photo Cards

One of the things I like about Christmas in America is the photo cards we get from friends each year, especially the ones from dear friends & funny ones (no, I don't know the family featured left but I'll bet their son got a thick ear afterwards!) I put some of the cards on my fridge but then also have a cool string set-up with little pegs on it, so I can hang them up, washing-line style in my front room.

Anyway, I am starting to think about doing our cards (since Christmas is only 45 sleeps away!) and I saw on my friend Emily's Blog that Shutterfly are offering a great deal. All bloggers who are willing to post about Shutterfly holiday cards can receive 50 for free! Check out the details of this one here.

I have not used Shutterfly before as I found another company several years ago and never thought to look anywhere else. BUT, now that I know about Shutterfly I'm going to give it a go. And so far, I'm impressed. They have a big selection of cards and designs. I really like
Holiday Lights so far but I'll probably browse a bit more. They also do calendars, which are always a big hit with my family in England. Lastly, I noticed that they have a big selection of cards and stationary for Mothers Day, which is something I'm always looking for. I can never get myself organized enough to buy cards the previous year (Mothers Day in England is in March) so now I can get them online ahead of time. Fabulous!

If you are planning on making cards this year, this is a great deal. And make sure you send one to me please. This little part of Americana is something I like a lot.

Monday, November 08, 2010

ACLs and My Dog Food Legs

I went to a workshop on ACL injuries last Saturday. It was a work-related endeavour but I'll make one thing clear - I do not work in the medical industry. I am far too dizzy, brain dead and squeamish for such things. I can reiterate that point by the fact that I had to divert my eyes or swallow several times when the presenter showed videos of knee caps being drilled and cadaver legs hung from machines. The cadaver leg was particularly macabre as it was so tanned, slim and athletic looking that I thought to myself "even though I'm an organ donor, there's no way they're going to use my leg in sports medicine studies. My poor old leg will probably end up as dog food."
They also showed the actual video of this girl (pictured left) where she tore hers and holy cow, she came down on her left leg, knee pointed in and bam it turned to jelly. OW! I rubbed my knees in sympathy and thanked my past mentors that I wasn't a doctor.

It was fascinating stuff though. For example, did you know that ACLs occur far more readily in girls than boys? And that ACLs occur most readily at and shortly after puberty? They showed videos of young teenagers jumping off things and the boys jumped with legs straight, their center of mass (belly button) right over their ankles, and the girls jumped with knees pointed in, like someone doing the funky chicken. And girls had a leg preference where boys didn't.

What's sad is that 10-15 years after an ACL injury 50% of people get progressive osteoarthritis in their knees. So there are tons of girls out there, as young as 25, with terrible pain. The medical people that were presenting are trying to intervene and stop ACLs in young girls by proper training.

One doctor from Germany was a tad upset with the mindset in America. Apparently a young girl at a University had had four reconstructive ACL surgeries but kept playing varsity soccer and was given a big award at the end of her college career. He was disgusted with the coach, the doctor and her parents. Fair point eh. I did overhear a surgeon tell someone during the break "If it was my daughter, she wouldn't play soccer, basketball or downhill skiing ever again".

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Danny's First Haircut

Danny had his first hair cut today. It took a fire engine seat, a Thomas DVD and a lollipop to subdue him enough that she could cut his hair. Leading up to the event he played in the slide and generated many comments in the waiting area about his static hair ...

Then he was done, got a balloon and came out looking like a handsome young boy...

I have this same picture of Jack after his first hair cut and I can't believe how different they look! Danny looks so much older at 21 months than Jack did at 28 months.

Wordless Weekend: My Favourite Dance

Friday, November 05, 2010

Danny Boy at 21 Months

They say you should never label your kids, as they become in life what they are called. Still, when I see trouble, I call it trouble. My boy Danny has been defiant and headstrong since the day he was born. Long before I had a chance to nurture him, his nature took over. I remember him sat in his car-seat as a baby, screaming to be let out. I remember him in his high-chair at 6 months old, refusing to be fed and only eating if he did it himself. He's a fussy eater that must feed himself, and his tantrums are explosive. Don't ever take a toy from him or remove him from the bath without first preparing yourself for mayhem.

But oh, what a brain my boy has. He's unbelievably intelligent and strides ahead of where he should be in speaking and potty-training and athletic ability. He can dribble a soccer ball like a 10-year old and flick through word books like a pre-schooler. He's so tall and strong that people mistake him for a 3-year old. So two traits that define him right now I would say, are that he's headstrong and intelligent.

Like a typical boy, he loves cars and trains and balls. He loves to climb and eat dirt and play rough-house. He loves to splash like a lunatic in the bath but will dive out head-first if you so much as get a drop of water in his eyes mid-rinse. My favourite play-times with him are when he plays monster and chases me, growling argggh as he runs and when we play soccer together.

Since not all of his bottom teeth are in yet, he has a lisp and when he leans into me and says "kithes" for a kiss my heart turns into a big blob of mush. Much the same as it does when he twiddles my hair between his fingers or reaches up and gently pinches my nose when I change his diaper. He also shows his soft side with his blankie (a Backyardigans soft blanket), which he must have and must sleep with. I never had this with Jack, but Danny has a huge Linus-like attachment to his blanket and we have to wash it when he's asleep.

He's a happy boy and such a character that every day we all swap Danny stories of things he's done or said. Like last night he nearly dropped a toy and he said "close one!" I could watch him all day long I really could. He's that entertaining. But at night when he goes to bed with his blankie I stroke his hair and sing Danny Boy to him and he becomes my baby. Because for all that he looks and acts older, this little cherub is not even two yet and he's our beloved baby boy.

2nd photo by Jodi Miller