Thursday, April 29, 2010

Busy Working, Growing, Laughing

It's been over a week since I've posted anything but blimey, I'm swamped at work. Teaching 4 days a week on top of my full-time job and I just started my PhD project. Oh, and I painted the front room at home and entertained the kids while Craig completely ripped out the bathroom.

You would think that I'm as sleek & toned as Madonna with the amount of running around I'm doing but alas no. I am still on my diet and hoping to lose 40 lbs (maybe I should have a leg cut off). And I'm still dreaming daily of the OBX

Danny's had a 15-month doc visit and all is well. He's in the 90th percentile for his weight (28lbs) and 97th for his height (33.5"). Doc says he's way above the curve on development and will be a "talker". Dear God No. Another talker in the house. Between me and Jack and Danny poor Craig may well just turn into one of those downtrodden men that look like their life is over. He'll make excuses to work in the garage and go fishing whenever he can, just for some peace.

I did have a moment with Jack last week that I wanted to write down. We took him to a pre-school place for an open day and there was a magician there. The guy was funny and kept doing bad magic on purpose (just like Tommy Cooper). Anyway, Jack loved it. He was sat on my knee and he just roared with laughter. He laughed so hard that at one point he fell off my knees and had to clamber back on. His face was red and he was covering his mouth to stop from shrieking with delight. I just sat, sideways on, and watched him. It was one of the best moments of my life, watching my son laugh like that.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jack's Dream

I was in the shower this morning when Jack came into the bathroom all sleepy and said good morning. I asked him how he was this fine morning and he said ...

I found a cage! It's for Cody. I put Cody in the cage to stop him biting nan and grandad but he got out, so we can't use the cage anymore. Okay moma?

I pulled the shower curtain back and looked at him. He looked very serious and repeated okay moma? We can't use the cage EVER AGAIN.

I said okay Jack. Thanks for sorting that out for me.

We don't even own a dog cage. Weird.

Music Medicine on a Tuesday

David Grey & Ray LaMontagne are touring together this Autumn! It doesn't get better than that does it? Well maybe if Damien Rice was thrown in. Craig and I are like hawks waiting for tickets.

Anyway, here's some of my favourite from the fabulous 3:

1: Ray LaMontagne singing Shelter & I Will Hold You in my Arms ..

David Gray singing Fugitive ...

Damien Rice singing Rootless Tree ..

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Super Super Efficient

I bought a birthday pressie today off UK Amazon and it offered me all kinds of services, like a private message for the recipient of the gift, taking the price off the invoice and even converting all the GBP amounts into USD. The efficiency trend is spreading me thinks! A couple of weeks ago I went to a service center and expected to stand in line for an hour as I have in the past and I was met by a nice woman with a clipboard who asked me for a brief description of the service I needed. I told her and she wrote the time down on a ticket and gave it to me then put me in the right holding area. I was immediately called up, they took my ticket from me, got me sorted out, wrote the time down on a ticket, pushed it down over the spike thingy sitting on their desk and cheerily said "Is there anything else I can help you with today ma'am?" As they were helping me I couldn't help but eavesdrop on the person in the booth next to mine who couldn't be helped immediately so she was sent to a comfy "triage" area off to the side while it got sorted by a worker bee at the back & the next person got called up. I thought "Triage?" what kind of pretentious and daft name is that except in a hospital but I haven't been able to come up with a better term in the last two weeks.

This kind of efficiency is amazing to me. I am used to queuing up for hours, being stuck on hold and getting lost in infuriating automated phone messages. Finally - is customer service the new thing? I did read somewhere recently that the wave of the future will be tailor-made services, just for us, and I see it already. When I log onto You Tube or Amazon or Netflix they recommend things just for me and call me by my name. My local supermarket even sends me coupons for the things that I regularly buy. I wonder if it will get annoying? Like the drive through fast-food places now that don't ask you what you want - they recommend a food and ask if you want it. That's annoying. Also, at a lunch time place I like to eat at they ask your name when you order and then every time you go in from there on in they greet you loudly - "hey there Pam! How are you today?" I mumble and shuffle through the line when what I really want to say is "You don't know me so please don't be so informal with me. Muppet."

Well that was a long ramble wasn't it, sorry. I only came on to say how impressed I was with my last purchase.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

See you next year Sparty

Spartacus Blood & Sand ..
It was the last episode on Friday and we both said ahhhh, what is worth watching now? When will it be on again? Next year of course.

If you did not watch this first time around please seek it out - it was BRILLIANT. It was: Tender Love, Massive Blood, Porno Sex, and Nasty Politics.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dreaming of OBX

This is our beach house in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It's on the beach facing west so I'll be able to sit on the balcony at the end of each day and watch the sun set. My kids will fish and swim and go crabbing. My husband can kayak. My mum and dad in law will love it. Jack keeps asking if we can go now. Why do we have to wait? Why can't we go now? What's taking nan and grandad so long to get here? Craig, in desperation, told him yesterday about the volcano (in reality they aren't coming until summer) and so this morning Jack said with authority that nan and grandad wouldn't be here because the Olcano in the air filled their plane with balls.

I can't blame Jack for being impatient because I feel the same way. It's the first time in years that I've got that longing for my holidays to come. I want to buy sunscreen and start dieting and start planning the packing. I have this picture as my computer wallpaper and tomorrow I'm going to put my leave form in. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas.

By the way, now that I'm going to the Outer Banks I finally realised what the OBX bumper stickers are that I see sometimes. I thought it was some kind of secret fraternity.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cholesterol Medicine

I had a biometric screening* today at work, whereby they weighed me, checked my height & blood pressure and pricked my finger to determine if my cholesterol and blood sugar levels were all okay. And we talked about things and I lied as usual "yes I walk every day", and "err, about 3 alcohol units a week maybe at most".

I found out that I'm an inch shorter than I've been telling everyone for the last thirty years (5,8 not 5,9). And I heard again that I need to lose weight and exercise more. However, I did not get off to a good start because immediately after the screening I ran into a work friend and we went out for a Mexican lunch and we ate at least 3 baskets of tortilla chips with salsa before our food arrived. El Vaquero salsa is just the best - tomatoey and spicy with little chunks of onion and cilantro. Yum. Mexican food always comes loaded with cheese too which is a killer isn't it. But I digress.

On the good side, my blood sugar and cholesterol levels are great. Not just great but she said "perfect". So because it looks like it's only my weight that I need to work on, I got over excited and blabbed on about how much I'd like to eat more salad but don't have the time to fix meals (having young kiddies) and how it is very nice indeed to drink red wine after a long stressful day. And she said hold on! And I thought, ah nuts I'm in for it now. She said - that explains your great cholesterol numbers! - people that drink wine usually have great cholesterol. So there you have it folks. My tipple on an evening shall from this point hence be known as my cholesterol medicine.

*If I have a biometric screening voluntarily each year, I get a $ discount each month on my health insurance payment, so it's a no-brainer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dogs Eating Crackers

At midnight I grabbed a handful of wheat crackers and laid back on the couch with a "arrrgh" of chilling out, satisfying the late-night hunger and trying to be rid of stress before I went to bed.

Cody came and sat by my side, so it was a few crackers for me and one for him. Then 1 for me, 1 for him. Then, it was just me feeding Cody crackers. Because he eats crackers in such a comical way I just fed him crackers on his own.

Dogs just have a great way of cheering you up don't they.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Old Gimmers in Cars

On my way home from work today, on a side road near my house, a car reversed quickly out of a driveway causing me to slam-on and I had to get on the horn to make them stop of they'd have ploughed right into me. As I slowly cruised by the perpetrator fully expecting to exchange fingers, I saw that it was a old lady, probably in her 90's and so small she was just about peeking over the steering wheel. Needless to say, we did no exchanging of digits.

This is what I get for living in a 1960's neighbourhood that consists mainly of large ranch (bungalow) houses. One of my direct neighbours got told last year by his doctor to stop driving but he still does. He does the kamikaze reverse thing too. I won't say anything to him because he's a nice man and he served in WW2. He was stationed at RAF Burtonwood in England when he was just 19. I just make sure we bring the kids inside the house when he's on his way out and hope he doesn't reverse into my living room anytime soon.

You know, I even have an old chap that drives past in his big Buick town-car and he waves and gives me a big neighbourly smile as he drives over my lawn. I have to admit though, that's kind of funny.

There's obviously some kind of ridiculous loop-hole in America that makes it okay for people to keep driving when they shouldn't be, or maybe they are driving illegally? What's the worst that can happen if you get caught? You probably get your license taken away and told to stop driving again. By the way, I'm really not being disrespectful about these people, honestly. I'm probably going to be a law-breaking old gimmer as well because I'll not be told what to do either.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

It's Coming ..

Tonight we have a big thunderstorm forecast. It's apparently going to start slamming us about 3 am with large hail, lightning, thunder, torrential rain and maybe (but hopefully not) tornadoes. It's going to keep going till noon tomorrow. We just moved the cars (mine in the garage, Craig's hugging the house).

We have a scrappy plan in place, should the tornado sirens go off. It goes like this:
  • Grab kids & head to basement and put Danny, erm, in my arms the entire time. We didn't think this out too much did we. 
  • Run back up to fetch contact lenses (I cannot be blind in an emergency can I)
  • Round up animals. This is quite difficult because Cody weighs 20 lbs more than when we first got him and he's now an old man. Also, Frank is a slippery bugger and Tutz hides.
  • Watch the news in the basement and if it gets bad then we head into the downstairs loo and hope for the best (but isn't that always how it is in bathrooms?)
It brings to mind a similar incident 9 years ago when Craig's mum & dad were visiting. The same kind of storm happened and the tornado sirens went off about 3am so we all scrambled to the basement.  Dorothy and I were both sat, in our nighties,  on dusty unused exercise bikes. I looked at her and said "I can't see a thing & my contacts are upstairs".  She said "I really don't want to be found in a field 5 miles away with no underwear on" .  It wasn't funny at the time but it is now. 

So, bullet point number 5  is:  Like your mum always tells you, make sure you have clean underwear on.

Bring it on Mother Nature. 

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

My Music

I have been listening to some bloody good music this month:

1. Gorillaz Plastic Beach CD. My favourite song is White Flag
2. Arctic Monkeys Humbug CD. My favourite song is Cornerstone
3. Richard Ashcroft's new charity song "The Journey", dedicated to young girls entrapped in the sex-slave business in the UK. 
4. Seasick Steve's new album, and once Googled all his other songs too (thank you Lee for sending it to me because he's fabulous). 
Here he is ...

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Happy Easter!

We took the kids to an egg hunt and duck parade this morning. Craig and I were up making duck outfits last night out of paper bags and coloured card and glue (aren't we a pair of sad gits). At the hunt there must have been 1,000 people there and when they gave the go-ahead, hundreds of kids ran over the meadow, grabbing as many plastic eggs as their Easter baskets would hold. My poor lad Jack only got one egg (he was too shy to run & grab) and some little kids didn't get any eggs at all. I saw at least two toddlers breaking their hearts crying, swinging their empty baskets. Bless.

Afterwards we did a duck parade where the kids, all dressed up, paraded out to the main road and did a loop back to the library. My favourite bit was the policeman directing the parade, blowing his whistle and shouting, "Ducks crossing! Give way to the ducks please". It was very cute. Danny was a bit traumatized by his outfit but soon bucked up once he played in the inflatable pool full of water & rubber ducks.

This is one of the main things I love about America. How every holiday is celebrated with gusto and with a view to making it the most fun for kids. 

Tonight we had our friends & their new baby over for dinner and I think I redeemed myself after our kids went nuts at their house. They brought wonderful German beer and we had a good time sat outside on the patio while lawn mowers were humming along and the sun set. They are relatively new friends but so easy to get along with.

So now I'm blogging and soon to start getting the front room ready for painting. That's my project and it will be the 4th time in 5 years I've done it. Past colors have included taupe (too morbid), lilac (too clinical), gold (too Liberace) and now dark red. Hopefully not too much like a dungeon when I've finished.  I wish I had decorating style, I really do.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Spring Sunshine

I took a half-day vacation today and went to the optometrist to get my check up then home early. At the Optometrists they put drops in my eyes that made my pupils dilate & me look like I did crack and I couldn't be in sunlight for 4 hours. In hindsight I should have had that done on a day where it wasn't gloriously sunny and I craved to be outdoors. I had to go though. My contacts ran out months ago and I've been wearing old ones that have been lost twice. Once one was stuck to the toilet for 24 hours but we won't go there.

When I could finally venture out without feeling like my eyeballs were on fire, I took Jack to the library then mowed my grass for the first time and we played in the garden ...

Frank sitting on a big patch of catnip. This was the first year he hasn't eaten a daffodil and then thrown up violently. Maybe after 9 years he's learnt his lesson.

My Darling Jack. Fixing and mending is the latest thing. His new curse word is "barnacles!"courtesy of Spongebob Squarepants.

Danny-Boy. Jack wore these clothes last summer when he was 2.5. Danny is 1. He is laughing up a storm now and interacting with us a lot. He knows the words ball, car,  banana, mama, dada, Nina (Linda), Frank, Jack, and GO BUCKS! (I'm not kidding). I love this boy with all my heart.

Last but not least, Strawberry Jam Anne gave me a blog award!. I'm over the moon and, as protocol dictates, will pass it along to people whose blog have made me smile and brought some sunshine into my life. The list of blogs I'd like to pass this along to is ...

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Reasons to be Cheerful

Blimey, look at this weather forecast! I can hardly contain myself from firing up the lawn mower and mulching beds and planting annuals. Wooooa down there speedy I hear you say! Every year you get caught out by Mother Nature who creeps up at the end of April with minus 5 degrees and a hard frost that kills all your new plants. stone. bloody. expensively. dead.

Still, it's hard not to feel summery when you see a forecast like that. It's going to be a weekend of grilling out and Easter egg hunts, and shaving & then baring my white chicken-skin legs. Must shave my toes too now that I think about it. It's far too soon to be thinking about shorts, but a pair of capris might be in order.

Salad too. Lots of salad and fruit and ice cream. No more winter fat and pies and pints of beer. Time to buy colorful flip-flops and take the cellophane off the windows (yes, we are the povvy family that do that). Time to open those windows and see the sheers blowing.

Time to sit out on the patio at night to eat and drink, without being eaten alive by evil mosquitoes that leave you looking like John Merrick.

I LOVE this time of year. Is it weekend yet?