Monday, June 28, 2010

Is that you, Damien?

For the first time in ages I went to bed last night at a decent hour. For 5 weeks I've been burning the candle at both ends and partying like a teenager. Anyway, I sank into bed at 10pm and was immediately asleep, even with thunderstorms raging overhead.

At 3.30am I heard "Christ!" and I sat bolt upright in bed, looking shocked and with hair up like Cindy Lauper. It was Craig that had shouted out because stood next to his side of the bed, staring intently at him and just inches from his nose, was Jack.

I thought he's either sleepwalking or he's turned into a devil child that's come to hack us both to death. He said "can I have some warm milk daddy?" I won't repeat what Craig said.

It's made me chuckle a few times today thinking about it. No matter how old we get there are several things that are always terrifying and waking up in the dark to find someone staring at you is one of them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Things I have Learned

I learnt a couple of things this morning:
1. Danny likes black pudding
2. You can amuse a 3-year old for two hours with a decent phone that shows videos
3. The England team are rubbish

Time to support Chile & Mexico ...

Saturday, June 26, 2010


When we went on holiday we got XM Radio in the car and I LOVE it. I can listen to Chris Moyles on Radio 1 in the morning and loads of other channels. Marvelous!

Listening to the World Cup though is hit & miss, depending on the commentator. Tommy what's his face who's Irish is terrible. So anti-English and annoying that I have to turn over.
And I love America (I really do) but the coverage by American commentators has been bad. I'll try my best to describe it:

An English commentator would say: "And it's Donovan down the middle, looking to cross and he sees Dempsey and crosses, who tries for goal but OHH! it's wide and it goes for a corner. This is the world cup game USA versus Ghana who are leading 1-0".

An American commentator would say: "And here's Donovan. He plays for Everton and did really well in the last world cup. He's a great player. In the last world cup he scored six times but can't seem to get his mojo on this time. Why do you think that is Joe? Yes I agree. He just tried for goal but no result, though they have a corner. Now let me introduce our sponsors."

Totally awful. More tactics please. More score updates please. Much less nonsensical jabbering please.

Can you tell I'm wound up?

I was very sad for the USA team today and I'm nervous as hell for the morning. We are meeting 40 other expats at a pub for a full English breakfast & then the game. I might really push the boat out and eat black pudding. Come on England!

Friday, June 25, 2010

No More Basement Dwelling

Dot & Harry (Craig's parents) set off home for England today so it will be a bit sad in the house tonight, with everyone feeling homesick and a bit lost. It's always like that, until we know they are home safe tomorrow and having a nice cup of tea. Jack was on the phone to me from the airport and he said "Grandad just said goodbye and gave me his hat, because he loves me" and I thought oh boy, I bet Craig's a mess.

BUT there's lots of reasons to be cheerful this weekend..

I get to sleep in my bed tonight and not in the basement, with the never ending fear that a spider will crawl onto bed and pitter-patter across my face. Urggghhghgh - that's me having a fit of the willies.

I'm looking forward to the big game on Sunday, even if the psychic octopus did predict a German victory. I do have mixed feelings though - while it would be fabulous to get into the final eight I'm not too giddy about playing Argentina. Losing to Diego Maradona's team would be hideous, akin to spiders on the face. Anyway, we'll be joining tons of other expats here at a pub in Columbus to have a full English breakfast (with black pudding I'l have you know) before the big event. I'll try and remember to take some pictures between shouting and carrying on like a hooligan.

Me & Jack are going to a birthday party with a bouncy castle! I wish I was 4, I really do. When I was a kid we were lucky to have a few balloons, and not the helium kind they all have now. Ours just floated along the ground until we picked them up and rubbed them on our heads. Good times.

I'm hoping I'll get to see Luke at some point.

There are some stinky things to do as well though.

I'll be playing catch-up after 3 weeks of ignoring all things domestic. My house is a terrible mess. Laundry baskets are overflowing and toys are scattered all over the floor like a minefield. My lawn is long and straggly and weeds are taking over. As I'm sitting here I'm looking at the kitchen table cloth full of kiddie stains and blueberries squished on the floor. When I win the lottery I'm getting a cleaner.

I hope you all have a great weekend & GO ENGLAND!!! (and Go USA as well of course)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I'm Back: Grieving, Cheering & Celebrating Life

It's been 10 days since my last post but it's taken me a while to have the energy to post to be honest. I've been grieving for Frank and between bursts of involuntary crying I just about have had the energy to keep things skipping along with our visiting family from England, two crazy boys and my job. It hasn't helped that we've had weather from the depths of hell where you just sweat constantly and feel like you live in the deep south, never mind Ohio. Even an earthquake today but not as bad as they had in Canada (you okay Clippy?)

I made a scrapbook about Frank and that helped. I eventually found a lovely poem that fits perfectly about how I feel, without being too cheesy, so that marks the end of the scrapbook ..

Knowing by Sally Evans

If I had known that on that day our time was near the end
I would have done things differently, my forever friend.
I would have stayed right next to you deep into the night
but I thought I'd see you in the early morning light.

And so I said "Good night" to you as I walked in through the door
never thinking of the time when I'd see you no more.
But if I had known that on that day our time was at the end
I would have done things so differently, my forever friend.


SO. My shock phase is over, my grieving phase is in full-swing and I'm not sure I'm going to get angry. That just leaves healing, which I hope comes soon.

Moving on.

Good news for England and the USA as we advance to round 2. I'm a footy fanatic so have warned my boss that I'll be fairly useless on game days. I'm cheering for England, USA, Chile and whoever beats Argentina.

More good news! My dear friend Emily gave birth to a gorgeous healthy baby boy today. 9lb 11oz and 21.5 inches long so a big boy like my Danny. Welcome to this wonderful world Luke. I can't wait to meet you. X

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Goodbye Frank

We got home today and we buried Frank in the garden and sprinkled poppy seeds on top. We both cried as we said goodbye to our boy. I know to some people it might seem silly to grieve over a cat but he was our first pet, our first "baby" and we had him eleven years.

I have two regrets. I'm sorry for all the times I told him to stop meowing & to get from under my feet when I was flustered with the kids. Looking back now he was just trying to hang out with me and talk to me like he always did. I'm also heartbroken that last Friday, as we left for vacation, I didn't say goodbye and now I'll never get the chance to. I should have scooped him up and tickled his chin, like he loved. But I never in a million years thought he wouldn't be here when I got back.

We told Jack because he kept asking where Frank was. He's taken it okay but keeps asking why he died and where he is, over and over. I think the fact that I was crying so much upset him too but he'll be okay. We didn't let him be part of the ceremony though. That was too hard even for me and Craig.

I want to just tell one of my favorite Frank stories. Many years ago he caught a bird and I got it off him. Craig threw it in the air to help it get away and it flew into next door's window and crashed to the ground, right in front of next door's cat, who got him between his jaws and ran off with him. Frank looked up at Craig and his face said it all "Oh just great, thanks for that dad".

RIP our gorgeous boy. We'll miss you very much

Frank 1999-2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Last Day of Hols

Today was bitter sweet. It was our last full day on the Outer Banks so one we wanted to enjoy, but losing Frank last night left both me and Craig with a heavy heart all day (see next post) and even in the best moments of the day, I had a lump in my throat.

So today we went back to Kitty Hawk to re-visit the Wright Brothers Memorial and our Jack took his fishing net and went fishing for crabs and tiddlers. Tonight we went to Corolla Beach and took a Jeep tour to see the wild Spanish Colonial horses and to 4WD over the dunes ..

A little fox we saw, and we saw Pelicans and Egrets galore. I just remembered that we ate lunch at the Black Pelican Cafe that used to be an old Coast Guard building and then was used as a Western Union place in the 1900's, so was the place where Wilbur & Orville sent their telegram to the world about their first flight. How great is that. We've been there.

Our Frankie Has Gone

Very sad news greeted us as we woke this morning. Our cat, Frank, died last night at home. Thankfully it was sudden and he was not in the house on his own. A heart attack I think as he was 11 years old and he had some heart issues. Every time I think about it I cry and I've had a stone in my chest all day long. I wish I'd been there with him & even though I don't think it would have made any difference, my heart aches about it.
Frank was with me and Craig from the beginning of our great American adventure. When we rescued him in September 1999 he joined us on our journey from flea-ridden apartment to our own home. He lived with us through famine and storms and moving house and having kids. He was vocal and thought of himself as the king of the house. He sang opera when he used the litter tray and he slept on my head in the winter when it was cold. We're going to really miss him.
We haven't told Jack yet as he'll get distressed about it. We'll bury Frankie when we get home and I'll work out between now and then whether we'll include Jack in the ceremony.
It all just seems so surreal because it was so sudden and I can't quite believe he won't be there when I get home.

I posted Frank's story 3 years ago. It's HERE if you'd like to read it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Our Hols so Far

I have been dying to get on here since Sunday and post but it's been a crazy wonderful week and I just haven't had the time or the energy until now. For those of you outside of the US, the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina consist of a very long, thin peninsula of white sandy beaches and glorious weather. Most importantly for us, it is home to a plethora of shipwrecks, and therefore pirates folklore and maritime history that would be hard to match in the USA. It is also home to Kitty Hawk/Kill Devil Hills where the first flight took place. And so here's some pictures from this week, which has gone TOO QUICK!

The boys in Monteo on Roanoke Island. Roanoke Island was the first British settlement in the USA and the first English child, Virginia Dare, was born there. The settlers were sent out in 1585 by Elizabeth 1 and Sir Walter Raleigh to conquer the new world before the dastardly Spanish claimed too much. The little town has so much Englishness about it, with St. George's flag flying and pretty cottage-style gardens. When the second set of settlers arrived they found the first group had completely vanished, and so the mystery of Roanoke was established.

At a local pirate restaurant, our Jack made firm friends with Palmico Jack, a pirate of much daring and swashbuckling action. He also used to be a male model and did some work at Whitbread Brewery in northern England many years ago, but don't tell Jack.

Kill Devils Hills was WONDERFUL. To see the place where Orville and Wilbur Wright took flight on the world's first plane was a lifetime wish for me and Craig.

The monument, which stands high on a hill

The view from the monument - this area used to be windswept sand from the sound-side to the ocean. The Wright brothers flew the plane 800 ft down the center line in this picture, making it the world's first official flight in 1903. They lived in a wooden hut and slept in hammocks to avoid rats and rising waters. Those pioneers of yesteryear were so courageous weren't they.

Next up, a pirate ship adventure for me & Jack. Argg! Jack totally believed the whole thing and helped find the treasure and fire cannons at the baddies. Each child was allowed one big hand scoop of treasure at the end and our Jack just picked out one pirate coin and a plastic frog. My heart melted.

Jack helps Skipper hoist up the treasure

The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum on Hatteras Village. I am over the moon because they just salvaged an enigma machine from the U-85 sunk during WW2, and I got to see it.

Hatteras National Coastline - Gorgeous

On Hatteras Beach - Jack flying his pirate kite (do you see a theme here?)

Danny loved the beach, just loved it and cried his little heart out when I scooped him up, full of sand, and wrested him back into the car.

We celebrated Harry's 70th Birthday yesterday
Tonight, at dusk, we drove through the wildlife refuge on Roanoke and look who we saw!

One thing that I'll miss about this place is the amazing sunsets, every night. There's still so much I want to do but time is running out. Isn't that always the case.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Scorcher of a Day

Today was a scorcher and at one point my car thermometer said 107. Humid as hell, even with the constant 25 mph wind at the beach house. Tomorrow, according to our new friend and keeper of the swimming pool, is going to be much cooler and only 80. I hope so. What's really weird is that I had a terrible and graphic tornado dream last night and then found out today that one swept though Ohio and killed 7 people last night.

This is the last picture you'll see of Danny's cool hat, the aforementioned wind whipped it off his head and dumped it into the ocean, along with several bits of rubbish from our stroller. What made it even more embarrassing was that it happened at a wildlife refuge. That's us, doing our bit for the environment.

Double trouble

Dot & Harry watching the sunset tonight

Just a few days till the USA: England game, so we are doing our bit

One last little story from today - we went to an ice cream parlour and ate them outside. Stupidly, we got cones instead of cups so they melted in record time all over the sidewalk outside the shop. Sticky fingers galore (UGH) and a change of t-shirts for the kids was in order. The owner came out, did a double-take at the mess and by the time we left was swilling down the pavement with buckets of water and shaking his head, probably muttering "English pigs"

Nags Head, OBX

The drive here was pretty uneventful, except for the food. Craig's mum dished out Walkers "British Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding" crisps and the whole car went quiet for a few minutes. And Craig ate frogs legs at a western buffet (?).
So we are in here and this was the sunset last night. It makes me do a big contented sigh just looking at it. . .

Lots to do now! Kitty Hawk to see where the Wright Brothers first flew, the Lost Colony of Roanoke, wild horses on Corolla beach, where, as coincidence has it, the oldest shipwreck in the US washed up this week and we can beach comb for Charles 1 coins! But mostly REST and swimming and watching our boys build sandcastles and fly kites. Jack of course is obsessed with the pirates out in the ocean and spent most of this morning asking about them. He gets to share a room with Danny for the first time - let's hope they get along so we can reclaim the 3rd bedroom at home for guests.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

More Bumper Sticker Fun

As some of you already know, I do like funny bumper stickers. My favourites to date are:

Fat people are harder to kidnap and
Warning! Driving under the influence of Dolly Parton

This morning I saw one that was funny but also kind of sad because it's a bit too true. It said "At least the war on the environment is going well". Oh dear.