Monday, May 31, 2010

Magic Chimneys

We lit a fire in the chimnea in the back garden last night so Jack and I went downstairs to bring up some wood from the basement fireplace. I pulled back the fire screen and asked Jack to reach in and get the smallest log. He looked at me, worried. Then he hunkered down and looked right up inside the chimney, then back at me, still looking worried. I asked what was wrong.
He said 'Will I get sucked up the chimney, mama?"
Damn you Mary Poppins.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Murdering a Kebab is a Crime of Epic Proportions

Last night we watched "The men who stare at goats" which was quite good but we were both falling asleep so went to bed before the end. Tonight we put it back on, all excited and ready for a good film only to find there was only 5 minutes left, which made us both feel rather daft.

It's been a cracking weekend so far - scorching hot (90's) and laid-back. We took the kids to Caesar Creek Flea Market this morning, knowing they'd hate it but thinking we could pacify them with pony rides. Alas, no ponies, so lots of "I haaaaatttteee shoppinnnnng" and "Can we go home now?" every 5 seconds until we caved and came home. Rats. And Craig had the worst doner kebab ever. It was pita bread with lettuce and tomato (so far so good, right), far too much tzatziki sauce, shredded pretend bland rubbery cheese and cold, steamed meat. He was most upset as you can imagine, him being a doner connoisseur. He once vowed never to go back to Cleveland because we couldn't find a kebab shop after going to watch Ray LeMontagne in concert there and that was eight years ago, so you can see he's dedicated. The best kebab he ever had was in Thurso, Scotland during our 2-week camping trip 14 years ago. I believe it was a chicken tikka marsala kebab and he spoke about it for days after. So Cesar Creek has terrible kebabs but it's great for (1) people watching (although I did point out to Craig that we more than blend in) (2) fabulous bargains (3) guns.

On the way home I snapped a picture of Danny and then remembered that I had one of Jack, taken 2 years ago when he just a bit younger, in the same car seat. Being their mum I really can't tell if they look the same as I think they look miles apart. Do they look the same?

Danny at 16 months, Jack when he was 12 months old.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Poem: Wishes for Sons

wishes for sons
by Lucille Clifton

i wish them cramps.
i wish them a strange town
and the last tampon.
I wish them no 7-11.

i wish them one week early
and wearing a white skirt.
i wish them one week late.

later i wish them hot flashes
and clots like you
wouldn't believe. let the
flashes come when they
meet someone special.
let the clots come
when they want to.

let them think they have accepted
arrogance in the universe,
then bring them to gynecologists
not unlike themselves.

Somebody shared this poem with me recently. I'm not sure I agree as I don't wish any of those things for my sons. I wish for happiness, health, for them to be kind souls and to be grateful for their family & friends. I do wish them some hardship, since there can be no challenge in life if everything comes on a silver plate. But I don't wish them cramps.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I'm a Better Buyer than Seller

I did a yard sale on Saturday - my first! It was bloody hard work actually, so by 12 noon I packed up, put all the left-over stuff in my car and dropped it at the charity shop. And that was the end of THAT. Most people (customers) were lovely, but some were really annoying. I said I would start the yard sale at 8.30am. At 8.10am I had a woman tapping her foot, arms crossed, glaring at me as I tried to get stuff put out. I finally said, look, can you just come back later? Another woman bartered with me like a champion for something that was a $1 each. . .
She said 2 for $1. I said ok.
She said 3 for $1. I said ok.
She said 4 for $1. I said ok.
As she was leaving I was dealing with someone else and so she gave me her money and I said goodbye. She looked at me and said "I bought only 3 and gave you a dollar - you owe me 25 cents". I felt like saying, "Do you want them for free you old trout?" I really don't think yard-sales are my thing. Too many crazy people to deal with.

In the afternoon we went to Katy's 4th birthday party. I dressed Danny in a proper shirt and Craig said "Good grief, he looks about 3!" This boy is just 16 months old ...

He does this fabulous thing where he hugs you and then puts his full mouth on your cheek and blows a big raspberry. I must get some video of it before he stops doing it.

Jack had a fabulous time at the party but played by himself mostly. He only really knew Katy & David so I think he felt a bit shy. He's such a whirling-dervish crazy boy that it's hard to think of him as shy but he really is. Last year I took him to play soccer each Sunday 12-12.30 and he wouldn't even join in till 12.25. Hopefully his confidence will grow when he goes back to pre-school this fall.
On Sunday Craig worked on the bathroom - we now have a floor, a working sink and toilet! I helped out by taking care of the kids, although I did have an hour of emergency mummy-time when Jack wore me down to just a small nub of exhausted jelly. I also cleaned the toilet that has been sat in the garden for a month and was covered in soil & leaves. I can tell you with 100% conviction that scraping off the wax ring of a dirty toilet on an 80 degree day is not for the weak. Still, now it's all back in place and I no longer have to use the loo in the basement, scared I'll trip down the steps in my blind, contact-lenseless state.

Sunday night we went to the local park for the summer concert series.
I pictured this: Me and my family sat on a wool blanket in the rose garden, enjoying the warm evening sun, eating our picnic as we listened to the brass band.
We got this: Me chasing Danny all over the park as he looked back over his shoulder and laughed at me, Craig trying to keep Jack amused, lots of "shush" faces from people trying to enjoy the brass band, and soggy sandwiches all stuck together. Still, it was better than cleaning the wax ring off the toilet.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Like to Ride My Bicycle ..

Yesterday I bought a 1975 Schwinn cruiser bike with a basket on the front and a big old honking horn. When I took it out of my car my neighbour Dave laughed and whistled the wicked witch of the north music (de de de de de doo). My bike is baby blue with sparkly grips and an original spring-loaded leather seat with the Schwinn plate attached on the back. It was made in July 1975 - so it is 6 years younger than me, and I love it. I've never loved a bike before. Craig said he loved his first bike and waited 6 weeks for it to be available once they bought it. I can't remember the name of it now but it conjured up a red shiny thing that went fast.
My bike goes fast too. Tonight we went on a family bike ride - me free-wheeling with legs outstretched thinking ya hoo! Then looking back and saying "come on Craig this is great!" and him saying "I'm towing 50 pounds right now - you want to swap?". Err, no. I'll slow down and pretend I'm huffing too so you won't ask me again. Jack, from the trailer at the back of Craig, kept shouting "honk your horn Mama! And I'd do it - UH-AH, UH-AH! Dead loud like an old clown horn and I was hoping I didn't annoy the neighbours.
Two things surprised me and sort of dismayed me: (1) I have completely forgotten how to change gears on a bike and kept fiddling with the lever back and forth so I went from peddling like a lunatic to standing up and groaning UGH with every rotation. Craig said "shall I ride for a bit and get the gears sorted out for you?" and I thought "I know your game Mr. You're not palming off 50 lbs worth or trailer and children onto me", so I acted all independent and keen to learn. To be honest I'm scared of towing the kids as I'm not very good at biking right now. (2) Down hill, when I was going really fast, my thought was "If I fall off right now I'm royally F'd". So I applied a bit of brake and hated myself for it but in the same vein don't want to endure smashed knee-caps and gravel rash. I had enough of that from 1975-1990.
It's "ride your bike to work week" and I'd love to do it, even if I can't walk afterwards for a few days. You have to do these things as you get older and more senile, don't you.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Summer's Here! (now we're jinxed)

Today's weather was GLORIOUS! While Craig installed tile floor in the bathroom, me and the boys had fun. We went to the local park where they dug in sand (well Danny ate sand) and we had a picnic. I made Jack a clover flower necklace and he exclaimed "it's my favourite necklace in the whole world!" Which isn't quite as grand as it sounds since it's his first necklace ever. I finally finally calmed down and just enjoyed the moment and realised, like a bonk on the head, that the reason Jack shadows me from dawn to dusk and demands things from me all the time is that he just wants my full attention and wants to play with me. Now that I write it down it sounds obvious but you know how it is when you are in the situation and you don't see it clearly. It's a wake up call for me. Gardening and cleaning and house projects come second. The boys come first.

My Boy

What a little trooper this lad is. Best hugger I have ever encountered.

Pre-splash! It was nearly 80 today and both boys loved the pool.

I have 2 peach trees and we have peaches!! If I can grow my own peaches I will be in gardening heaven. I'm also fairly chuffed that I haven't had to buy tomato plants this year, since several rogues from last year have come up. My rhubarb is going nuts. The cilantro in thriving (going to make my own pico de gallo). We have no other veggies at this point and that's fine with me because I can't keep up with it all. I would like to keep hens but it isn't allowed in city limits. Tonight, listed on Craigslist, Craig showed me a posting by college students trying to sell a sheep they've kept as a pet for a couple of years. I'm sure that isn't allowed in city limits but good on them for doing the college thing that makes for good stories in 20 years!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shandy Drinking Time Wasters

Isn't shandy marvelous! I haven't had one in years but got a craving on my way home from work at 8pm tonight so I just marched into the kitchen, kissing Craig "tootle pip" on the way, as he went off in search of bathroom vanities. I patted Jack on the head hello, and got myself a pint glass out of the cupboard. Half a lite beer, half lemonade and big thirsty gulps of joy! It's 85 degrees outside and humid, which adds to my shandy craving. And the fact that I just put in another 12 hour day.

I wonder why I haven't had one, literally in years? They don't sell cans of shandy here but there's nothing stopping me making my own. And you don't even have to use proper, clear fizzy lemonade. I know this because I just used bright yellow Big K diet Citrus from Krogers. I am definitely putting Shandy back on my summer drink list.

Talking of bathroom vanities, our time got completely wasted by a woman selling one on Craigslist. She had it listed as "like new" so we drove all the way across town, nearly making me late for work, only to find it scratched and chipped and banged up. I felt like saying to her "like new my arse young lady!", which of course I didn't. But what a waste of time. Like seeing a garage sale sign and it takes you 5 minutes to find the house and then you have to park up and drag the kids & stroller out and and find your handbag and huff and puff up to the house only to find a couple of rusty tools, some Christmas decorations covered in cat hair and odd bits of faded Tupperware. I always want to say "I'll give you 5 dollars to take all your crap, put it in the trash can where it belongs and don't ever have a garage sale again. Ever." Time wasters the lot of them.

Hopefully Craig will find something, seeing as his mum and dad get here VERY soon and I really don't want to have to tell them they have to wee in the back garden. Only Cody does that, and sometimes Jack when he gets the urge to go on my Hostas.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mothers Day!

Happy (USA) Mother's Day! My little monkeys surprised me with a lovely gift of waking up at 6 am this morning and refusing to go back to sleep. They did however, get me a lovely necklace and made me some awesome paper flowers made from prints of their hands, so they are forgiven.

The best quote of the day goes to Jack, said while we were out in the garden this afternoon - "Mummy, will you play raspberry with me?" He meant Frisbee.

The funniest moment of the weekend? Out for dinner last night with friends. One of them ordered chocolate cake for desert and when she wasn't looking, Danny leaned over and stuck his finger right in, sucked it clean and said "ahhh!"

These boys of mine are the light of my life.
Oh, the car trailer in the picture was GIVEN to us this weekend by someone who no longer uses it. Craig and Jack went out for a spin this morning. We have some marvelous friends!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

We're Ready to Put it all Back!

Do you like our lovely bathroom? The bath is still in operation but it's acting as tool storage. The loo is sat out in the back garden.

We had intended to keep the blue tile floor but when Craig took the loo out he noticed a tile that was sunk, so lifted it up to have a look-see at the floor and, well, the next thing you know you're chucking all the floor away. Poor Craig. I heard him tell our neighbour "I only went in there to change a light bulb".

Today he's priming the walls for the paint and then - exciting - we can start to put it all back together! We just went out and bought gorgeous travertine tile for the floor.

I can't wait to start using it again. Having to carry Jack to the basement at 1 am for a wee has not been very convenient.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Movie Stinkers

We have watched (or not) a few movie stinkers lately:

1. Good Evening Mr. Wallenberg. It's about a Swedish man who saves Jewish people during WW2 - a bit like Schindler's List. When I got it, I saw it had Swedish subtitles and I immediately put it back in the envelope and popped it back into the mail box to go back to Netflix. I wasn't even going to have that conversation with Craig ... " It's Friday night and you want me to watch a Swedish depressing drama with subtitles?...."

2. An Education. Yes I know it got nominated for an Oscar but I thought it was really boring and predictable and I didn't like any of the characters except Emma Thompson.

3. Where the Wild Things Are: DREADFUL. If you don't believe me, read all the reviews online - they concur.

4. Sherlock Holmes: Oh so disappointing as I love Sherlock. Just awful - disjointed and unbelievable and not true to form. Craig fell asleep with 10 minutes to go. The next day I said - "want to watch the last 10 mins before I send it back?" - he said "Na, it was crap." I agree.

One DVD we both absolutely loved was Ricky Gervais's stand-up video "Out of England" - it was bloody marvelous and we belly laughed a lot! I would 100% recommend it for a good laugh. At the end he had a repertoire on animals and I liked this one about elephants ...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Parenting is for not for the weak

There was an old woman that lived in a shoe,
She had so many children she didn't know what to do,
She gave them some broth without any bread,
Then she whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Child rearing has come along way since then I do believe. There's no way we'd live in shoes in this day and age.

All joking aside, I'm trying to be a better parent these days I really am. I'm reading "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" by Faber & Mazlish, and I like it immediately because it starts off by saying - I was a wonderful parent before I had kids. What a great line! I need this book I really do. I want to get and give respect and I want to have Jack do something without threatening him with physical violence or bribing him. Last week in Target, after 20 minutes of shopping, he started yelling that he wanted to go home and I said "pack it in Jack or I'll take you out to the car and leave you there" joking obviously and thinking no one was around and there stood a man, looking at me like he was just waiting to call the police on his cell phone should I even try to abandon my child in the parking lot. At that precise moment Jack said, "no you won't Moma, someone might steal me". Little monkey.
So anyway, I'm hoping this book will help me. But I've tried once so far and not been too successful. This is what happened ..

Me - Jack, time for bed honey!
J - I don't want to go to bed
Me (acknowledge his feelings) I know you'd like to stay up, but you can't
J- Why? I don't want to go to bed
Me (explain, keep it brief) To rest your body. Got a big day tomorrow! Come on, bed..
J - NO
Me - (nuts, now what? I know, I'll bribe him) I'll read you lots of stories
Me - Bedroom now Mister!
Me - Get in your room NOW or no stories. NOW!!

and so on and so on until all kinds of spanking is suggested and he cries and stamps into his room and I feel like crap. Maybe it'll get better when I get to Chapter 2.

I don't want to make it sound too bad because it isn't. Me and Jack are usually partners in crime and tonight he gave me a lovely gift for Mothers Day. I just wish I was better at dealing with "toddler stuff".

Getting Jiggy With It

The new student union building at Ohio State is lovely and we are all very proud of it.
The staff and faculty & President Gee did a very cool dance a couple of days ago that's become a You Tube hit ...

Saturday, May 01, 2010


Last night was just great. It was warm so we sat out in the garden and lit a fire while we lounged in the chairs and stargazed. We saw the International Space Station for the first time, about 10pm! I thought it was a helicopter at first it was so low and so bright but then it had the telltale movement of a satellite as it arced over us. We were all so excited that Jack proclaimed he was going to be an astronaut one day. Then it was just amazing - we saw satellite after satellite and then a shooting star! It all sounds too good to be true, like a cheesy movie but it was amazing.

So today I've had the kids a lot. The bathroom is completely gutted, even the floor's gone. Craig's currently out with Danny looking at tile. I just gave Jack a tangerine but he spat it out and said it had coconuts in it. I think he means pips.

I'll post bathroom pictures soon, when I've stopped choking on the drywall dust.

Stuff they Say

While I was doing a spot of gardening tonight Jack offered a passing lady a worm from the palm of his hand and it made me laugh. I've had a few stories told to me this week of funny things kids say.

On Facebook, a woman I know told the tale of getting home from work to find the house inspectors and prospective buyers still at her house and they left the house by the back door to go and take a look at the garage. Her 3 year old son opened the door after them and exclaimed "watch out back there - there's poop!"

Then a colleague at work who has a farm told me of a visitor asking if they breed their thoroughbred male hog and her 9 year old son said "no, he won't get his carrot out".

I can't wait to see what my boys come out with over the next few years.