Monday, March 29, 2010

My Birthday Weekend

My birthday isn't officially until tomorrow but I've had a lovely weekend celebrating it with Craig and the kids and friends. Craig bought me two great pictures too ... 

The first is from the "Game of the Century" between Ohio State and Michigan in 2006. OSU was ranked number one in the nation, with Michigan ranked number two and both were vying for the national championship game. This picture is personal to me in many ways, other than the fact that I love the Buckeyes. Firstly, I am actually in the picture! If you look really hard you can see me (well obviously you can't, but I can), and it was also the last game played on natural grass so has fond memories for me. 

The second picture he bought for me we got at the Titanic Artifacts Exhibition on Saturday. It's a photograph taken of her while she was still on the docks in Belfast. I find the whole story both fascinating and heartbreaking so really enjoyed Saturday. One little funny story though - as we were meandering through and stopping to look at things or read the stories, we both heard a young male voice say in exaggerated despair "this exhibition is reallllly looongg".  Teenagers are so dumb sometimes aren't they. 

On Saturday night Gina and Matt and Eric came over so we sat outside &  lit a fire and had a laugh. It was one of those times were you tell funny stories and laugh really hard till you are crying - it was very therapeutic.  I won't say how bad I felt on Sunday but needless to say I was in bed by 9 pm.

My boys bought me Clinique Happy perfume and got me a lovely card (thank you Craig!). Jack was so excited to give it to me when I got home that he could hardly contain himself. We all went out for wings at BW3's and now I'm sat like an old granny in my dressing gown having to watch Spongebob Squarepants for the 20th time this week. Thank goodness I have adult nights like last Saturday to keep me sane.

And so I am 41 and it feels good. I love my life and all my loved ones are healthy and happy. Skint maybe, but healthy and happy! Here's hoping this next 12 months are as fabulous as the last.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Crazy Weather!

Last weekend I got sunburnt while I was gardening as it was a balmy 70 degrees. This morning I woke up to this ..

Not to worry. It's already melting and tomorrow it will be 60 again. It's my birthday weekend and I am I am SO excited about going to see the Titanic Artifacts Exhibition. And I will be hanging out with friends. And Jack is equally excited about buying me things and eating cake. Bless.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Health Care - My 2 Cents

I do not profess to know the inner working of politics in the USA but the health care reform got finally passed today and I am happy because:

1.  32 million Americans that formally had no health care insurance, now do

2. If Jack or Danny had a pre-condition (like cancer) and I tried to get health insurance from a new company because I lost my job/insurance with the old company, the health insurance company could previously turn me away - but now they cannot 

3. If the money you owe an insurance company  gets excessive (your child has cancer), the health care company could drop you - and now they cannot

4. After 2014 you, as a working  person or family, will be expected to get health insurance or you will be fined. I have NO problem with this. Americans who are against this say that their "freedoms" are being taken away and that the English national health service is FREE - no it bloody isn't! People who work in England pay national health insurance tax. Nothing is free. Pay for your health care people. 

5. It will NOT affect us financially. Personal taxes to pay for this will only go up if you earn more than 250K per person (that's 500k per household).

So that's my take on the whole thing. I welcome comments from anti-health reformers out there. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Little Monkey Strikes Again

As I was getting ready for work this morning I heard a car alarm going off. After a while I went to investigate but as I got to the front of the house it went off. After a few minutes it went off again. Then turned off. I ventured into the kitchen to find Jack playing with my car keys. He looked up at me proudly, grinning and said "I'm making your car make noises".

About half an hour later, Linda arrived and said to me "do you know the side doors are open on your car?"

He's a little monkey, he really is.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Giving Alan Titchmarsh a Run for his Money

Well as Wallace would say I'm Cream Crackered.  Ahem, I just realized that's probably nonsense to a lot of people, sorry. To explain, Wallace as in Wallace & Gromit, Cream Crackered as in Knackered (tired).  God, it's no wonder we can't understand cockneys is it. Anyway, I worked like a demon in the garden today today. I'm aching and sun burnt to hell and got dirt-ingrained hands. I even bought spanky-new and trendy gardening gloves but still lapsed into my usual role of getting as mucky as possible while gardening so didn't wear them too much. 

The boys were outside nearly all day and loved it. Jack was a pirate and a puppy dog and a painter. Danny was a golfer and a ball-thrower extraordinaire. Then when Craig hosed off the patio both boys got WET. We couldn't stop them. Craig by the way took care of the lads for a large portion of the day and had fun. He's definitely the fun parent. I'm like every other mum on the planet - disciplinarian, carer, major hugger, cleaner, story teller, nurse etc. etc. etc. But I wish I could stop and smell the roses a bit more like Craig does. 

So now I'm having a big glass of red, nursing my poor hands and looking forward to the 2nd season of Nurse Jackie. And as an added bonus the Buckeyes won today which, even though I have no desire to watch basketball, is wonderful because they are through to the sweet 16. 

I've started a new book too - "Blood in the Sea" by Stuart Gill. It' the true story of HMS Dunedin and her crew during WW2 and I'm loving it because it's very personable and not too much technical stuff that sometimes ruins these kinds of books for me.  I'm learning a lot too. I had no idea what "scuttling" was, but I do now - do you?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gardening, Sunburnt & Farting

It's the 1st day of spring and I'm burnt as usual - it was 69 today and we spent all day outside so I look like tomato woman. What do they say? An Englishman on a beach is like tinfoil in a microwave. I wish I had sun-loving skin but alas, I'm Persil white. I could have Scottish, Irish or Scandinavian ancestry I suppose. It doesn't matter - it all results in red and peeling skin. My poor Danny has it too. Talking of which - he LOVES golf and won't put the club down, even when I change his diaper. That makes for interesting hygiene, having a club shoved in your face when you have a handful of dirty wipes. I don't take it from him very often because (1) it would result in a meltdown and (2) it's funny.

Today Craig dug out the old stumps from the fence that blew down, dug bigger holes, re-installed new posts and put the fence back up. I'm in awe. I used to work like that, till my arms burned and I sweated pure salt, but now I really don't want to. I even thought for the 10th time today that I should ask neighbors if they have a teenagers we can pay 10 bucks an hour to work like a dog. I'm not lazy really, just over-worked. 

I'm not completely useless - I did dig out the compost heap and move it to my raised beds, so tomorrow I can fill it with new garden waste. And I have loads of cutting back to do. And lawn renovation. And mulching. Jack will help me follow me about, showing me worms and being a cute little helper. Bless.

This weekend hasn't been all work. We watched "A Matter of Loaf & Death" with Jack (he loved it), and I'm currently watching Monty Python's The Meaning of Life Part 7 "Death".  And the Buckeyes won - yea! But France won - Boo!   And toilet humor in my house is rather amusing at the moment. Between Jack pulling Craig's finger and his new book "Walter the Farting Dog" our toilet humor daily fix is met. It does seem bizarre to me that American adults are a bit embarressed about the whole affair and refer to it as "oopsie" or something equally ridiculous. Not my friends over here of course - they are equally appreciative of the odd trouser cough.  In England I think we have 100 words for it, all lovingly conjured up - bottom burp, trouser cough, fart, pump, let one off, barking spider, barking tree frog, let one rip, trump etc. etc. etc.  Not that I do anything of the sort of course.  As I tell Jack, "mummy's don"t fart". 

Happy Spring Everyone & Enjoy the Genius of Monty Python ...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Living with Monkeys

My friend had a baby recently. It's their first child and her and her husband are beaming new parents, scared to death and doing everything by the book and asking for advice but not really meaning it. I remember those days. I remember taking Jack to the doctor because he was crying with wind and I remember asking the doctor how to clean his ears and he said kindly "with a cotton swab, like you do yours".

So tonight we went to visit the new family and take over a baby gift. They grilled some shish kebabs and made a salad and they were kind to make soft food for Danny. We sat on their deck in the warm evening and chit-chatted about babies and how wonderful their new baby was when it started. The circus that is taking your children out for dinner. I'm going to try and describe it the best I can.

Jack is dressed in a clown outfit (sent from nana and his outfit of choice), kneeling on their patio chair repeating these words -  "I don't like it (the food). Can we go home mama?" When that doesn't work he asks to go to the toilet and then returns to the table & starts up the repertoire again.

Danny eats 1/3 of his chopped up veggies and banana and throws the rest over the table and floor. He constantly reaches for skewers, forks, knives, napkins, plates, glasses and bread. Some times, when I am just for a millisecond distracted, he snags one of those items and either flings it across the table or tries to poke himself in the face with it. Then, when he's fed up of the high-chair he starts screaming.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about my children because I know they are acting exactly as a 3.5 year old and a 1-year old should act. I also know that there's sometimes nothing you can do but watch in horror, especially with the 1-year old. I mean, you just cannot reason with a person that young. It's not like he's suddenly going to say, like Stewie from Family Guy,"Gosh ma mar, you're right! I'm being a complete nincompoop, I do apologise".

No, what made me ashamed and stumbling over myself to say moronic things like "oh, sorry, it's like living with monkeys" is that I knew they wouldn't understand. I know, without a doubt, that as we drove away, they looked at each other and said "those kids were savages! Ours will NOT be like that. Our kids will be polite and eat their food and they will be respectful in other people's houses!"  That's what I used to think, I really did. It's not until you have toddlers yourself that the penny drops and you suddenly become accepting of all children and their crazy tantrums and screaming fits and outbursts of rude words & noises.

Before we left I said "can I help you clean-up?" because Danny's eating area looked like the floor after a wedding reception. She looked at me and said "No, really, you just" and left it hanging. As I walked out to the the car I finished the sentence in my head "take your kids out of my house, they're frightening me".  

Ha! In 12 months we'll be comparing war stories.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Danny & his Balls

Danny knows a few words now and he loves to look at picture books. He follows me around waving a book saying "book" and sometimes getting really upset if I don't oblige immediately. He also insists on reading the same book several times over. Today, between Craig and I, we read "Goodnight Moon" to him 10 times in 30 minutes. 

What's great about the picture books is that for every picture he says "ball", which is his favourite thing on the planet. Whether it's a banana or a toothbrush, he says "ball". Of course every now and again he gets it right - it is a ball! Here's a 40-second video of little boy genius ...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Mothers Day Confusion

Mothers Day in England is this Sunday, March 14th. Mothers Day in America is May 9th. 

This causes much confusion for me every year. It means I have to be organized enough in May to buy Mothers Day & Nana cards for the following March. I actually remembered one year and felt so proud of myself that I stored them in a really safe place and I haven't seen them since. 

One year I had the bright idea to ignore the English one and send something in May. Ha! That went down like a lead balloon as you can imagine.

My next option is to buy blank cards and try and make them look like authentic Mothers Day cards, but my craft skills with greeting cards is not good and they invariably look stupid. As a final option I could just send a nice blank card but that would have no verse that means something and so the thought doesn't count - right?

I was complaining about all this to my local Hallmark woman and she picked up the phone and called the local shop that stores all the excess cards and had them get a box out for me. Marvelous I thought! I went over and picked them out and felt all giddy about my genius shopping experience. For once I am organized - yea!

Until I Googled "Mothers Day UK" today and it said March 14th. What? But that's this Sunday! Eeeek!  And so lunchtime today was spent legging it to the post office and hoping they get there in 5-days. 

Writing this blog post might earn me a bit of sympathy don't you think?  Or more likely "forewarned is forearmed" and I'll get a good ear-chewing on Sunday.  Sorry mum :-)

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Tackling the Bathroom

Today we started the bathroom project, which is the last room in the house to renovate. The decor is so fantastically bad that it is worth a mention: blue tile floor, pink & black tile, green fern wallpaper and lavender painted walls. The vanity is cream splashed with gold, like someone vomited on it after eating mustard. To add to the ambiance of the room, it is stained with nicotine in every nook & cranny and no matter how much I clean it, it comes back. Here's the offending room after we started today ...

Like all good procrastinators, we started the project by going shopping at Ikea. We bought two shelves for the bathroom and lots more stuff we didn't need, like a new play tent for the boys. They have started to play together now - making each other laugh as they bang on tables and splash mummy and daddy. They are two boys ganging up on their parents and being mischievous. I love it. 

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Books & Stuff I Like This Month

I've read 3 books recently.  Firstly, a book written by Titanic survivors that I bought at the Titanic Exhibit at COSI in Columbus a few years ago and it's coming back in March! Yea! It's a wonderful wonderful exhibit and I can't wait to go again. I have to leave the boys home though so I can wander and ponder and cry when I want to, without one of them screaming and throwing something at someone's head. It was terribly sad when the last survivor, Milllvina Dean, died last year wasn't it. The picture (top left)  is in my book and I took a digital picture of it because I can't find it anywhere else to buy it. The image of Britannia and Columbia comforting one another after the tragedy is poignant to say the least. 

Next I read "Little Bee" by Chris Cleave. My lovely hubby saw it, knew I'd like it and got it, which means more to me than a gazillion roses. Anyway, it's an English novel about a Nigerian refugee girl who has the most tremendous and heartbreaking and scary relationship with a British woman. I really can't say too much about it as it would spoil it, but it's a good book. 

Lastly, I read  "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein. It is written by Enzo, a dastardly dog. I'm not going to say anything about this book as I just sent it on to my mum in England with the words "I hope you love this book as much as I did." And I love her too of course :-)

Moving on from books, the new series "Spartacus" on Starz is brilliant, but I can't find anyone  at work or any friends that are watching it so I can't chat about it. Craig's watching it and likes it too. I've even tried to entice people at work by telling them that there's lots of nudey shots and swearing and fabulous story lines, all to no avail. Oh well,  we like it.  Here's the trailer ... 

Baby Steps to a PhD

I have been trying to start a PhD project now for six years. During that time I've had students pass me by. Young bright things that I've helped along and took classes with and felt, though not exactly more intelligent than them, certainly older than them. These young people have overtaken me, gone on to achieve their doctorate and moved away to greater things. Sometimes I've been happy for them, sometimes a bit jealous. I've had to keep reminding myself of one of the rules of life "don't worry about what they're doing, worry about what you're doing". 

In my defense, the last six years haven't exactly been mundane. I've got a full-time job, I serve on a national association board and I have had two kids. I also have a life.  Another reason I haven't started a project is that I couldn't find one that was worthy. I mean, a PhD takes over your life, becomes your focus, your everything. If I'm going to spend time away from my family and slogging away in a lab for hours it better be interesting and at least useful to someone at the end.  

Anyway, I found one! A project I mean. Something that's interesting, useful and gets me going. I took my first few baby steps today. Just teeny steps but it's a start, right?

If I think about it too much my head might implode, but I can take a few steps a day I reckon. 

Monday, March 01, 2010

Not an Old Chap

At the drive-through Starbucks this lunchtime my barista (posh word for waiter) was trying to mimic my English accent and when I drove away he shouted "cheerio old chap!" Which actually means "goodbye old man" and I'll tell him so next time I go, cheeky bugger. I'm glad I didn't give him a tip now.

← Talking of chaps, I love this picture of Terry Thomas. My OH used to do a wicked impression of him when we first met. Funny how those things drift away isn't it.