Friday, July 30, 2010

A Blueberry Moment

This morning I dropped a big handful of blueberries on Danny's tray and turned around to clean up at the sink. A few seconds later, when I looked around again, they had all gone! It was impossible that he'd eaten them all, there were none of the floor and Cody, our dog, won't eat them. So where were they?
On close inspection of the little terror, I found he had taken them and dropped them down the back of his t-shirt, so there was a big blue, squishy mess between his back and his t-shirt.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hump-Day Ramblings: Life & New Trilogy!

Relief! Jack has taken to summer camp like a duck to water. Yesterday he looked just a tad nervous when I said goodbye. This morning he barely let Craig say goodbye before he ran off to play. Tomorrow it's my turn again to drop off so we'll see. I'm half expecting him to get really upset on Friday because it's his last day. What a difference just a few days (and lovely teachers) make.

With Jack at summer camp I have spent a few hours each day just with Danny, which I have almost never had before and it has been a joy. One toddler trait I don't like though is where they put all kinds of horrible stuff in their mouth. Today alone I have fished the following out:
  • Un-popped popcorn
  • Mulch
  • A small piece of concrete board (from the bathroom renovation)
  • A bit of a Kroger sticker
  • A little mat of cat hair
Mmm-mm, what is this brown thing and can I eat it before Moma puts her camera down?

Jack has switched gears today from pirate to magician and has been following me around tonight pointing his finger at me and shouting "Abra-too-dabra!"

A big storm is a brewing and Craig is currently out with a friend canoeing the Olentangy River. Blast it! If I'm not worrying about the kids I'm worrying about the other half. Such is a wife & mothers life! And that is why I drink wine.

A new trilogy to be very excited about! On the advice of my friend Gina, I just finished reading "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Steig Larsson. He wrote 3 books in the series before he died. Last night we watched the 2.5 hour Swedish subtitled film, which I enjoyed but I don't think Craig was too enthralled (subtitles were a bit quick and film is rather involved so if you miss a few lines you're buggered). He and I both can't wait for the remake with Daniel Craig in the male lead and who will play TGWTDT? If they mention Angelina or anyone remotely girly I will very cross indeed. The book was great (too much detail but hey, that's where creative skipping comes in) and I loved the Swedish film because the actors were great, especially Noomi Rapace, but I think the new English-speaking version will become the bigger hit next year. I would love Noomi to play the lead in the new one too - but she said she's done, after doing all 3 films in Sweden. I bet they make her an offer she can't refuse though, since she makes such a great Lisbeth.

Here's the trailer for the original film:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Camp: Part 1

A bit of history here - Jack's been in day-care since he was 6 weeks old and it was a great thing. He was social, confident and happy with his lot. A year ago, his day-care closed and he went into home care with just him & Danny, which is great and I know he's loved, but his confidence has took a dive and he's missing out on friends. SO, he's going to pre-school this fall and in the meantime I signed him up for a summer camp at the same school and took him this morning.
It's only a week-long camp from 9 am-12 noon but I was ready for him being upset. We told him ahead of time, trying to ease him into it, but last night he got a bit nervous. This morning he said "I'm going to hold on to your arm mummy and not let go" and I thought Ohhhh, here we go.

When we got there he was ok. We signed in and went to his room and he was ok. I sat with him while all the other kids arrived. Ok. Then I watched around me saw that every single kid (about 20 of them) in there had been there before, either as a student or from a previous summer camp. Jack was the only newbie.

One of his teachers sat with me as the clock approached 9am and I mouthed to her, over his head - "he's probably going to be upset". She nodded. I told him I was leaving but I'd be back in a couple of hours and I played up how much fun he'd have. He grabbed onto my arm and looked at me, pleading no mama. I stood up, he grabbed me and Danny's legs (I was holding him on my hip). The teacher, also sat down on a kiddie chair, grabbed Jack from behind in a bear-hug around his waist. So I'm stood up and his teacher, still sat down, has him around the waist and he's crying full-pelt, face red and big tears running down his cheeks and he's trying to escape from her to get to me and crying out Mama! I look at her, and mouth "Shall I go?" and she nods and I walk away and he's traumetized. The last image I have of him is him bent double, trying to get away from her and just screaming for me.

Outside the room I listen for about 30 seconds and he's screaming bloody murder at this point, the center director gets me and takes me to a room next door, settles me in and tells me to wait. She says if he is too upset I'll let you know & you can take him home. We'll put the money you paid into his fall tuition. I sit there for 10 minutes as Danny tries to engage me but my stomach is in knots and I feel sick. Then she come back in and says "He seems to be doing okay, I have your cell phone number if I need to call you". Me and Danny left and I took him to work with me and spent 3 hours feeling sick.

I couldn't wait for 12 noon. Neither could Craig, who was updated constantly. When I parked up I saw him in the playground, looking okay - not laughing but not sad. Then they got shuffled inside. When I got to his room, the teachers were bringing them out one-by-one to their parents and he came out, clutching a carrier bag and ran to me, all excited. We sat outside on a bench in the sunshine and he showed me the crafts he'd made. He said "I cried for you a long time but then I was okay." then he showed me his crafts and talked about a new friend Noah, and his teacher and on the way home he said "when you drop me off next time I'm going to say Go Home Mama! because it's alright".

Tonight he tells me he can't wait to go and I hope so, because I don't think I can take another morning like this morning. I'm feeling optimistic for the little fella.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Splashing About in the Slip-n-Slide

It was my turn to lie in this morning and I didn't get up until 10 am. TEN AM! I'm still trying to make the good feeling last, seeing that it's Craig's turn to sleep-in tomorrow and I'll be up at the usual 6.30am. So after I dragged my lazy arse out of bed I took the boys to a friend's house for a play-date with her kids and they went nuts in the slip-n-slide. I had a great chat about motherhood and kids and work and all kinds of grown-up talk. They had a glass of wine and I would have loved to have one too but I have a zero rule when it comes to drinking & driving. Not that I haven't been a bad bugger in my past but since I've had kids I am a stickler on that. So I drank water and we chatted for ages and I came home refreshed. Having a big old talk and laughing with good women is my ultimate stress reliever.

Here's a few pictures from today ...

Jack on the slip-n-slide at my friend's house

Danny love to push the play stroller around and had a fit when I scooped him up to bring him home. He was a little star.

On the slip-n-slide in our garden, tonight.

Danny eating strawberries in the early evening. I love this kind of light for taking photos.

Cody, hanging out in the garden with his paws crossed

Jack grew this sunflower from seed

And here's a little (50-second) video of the slip-n-slide fun in our garden tonight:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Doing the Wet Noodle

Danny has tantrums so bad that they are almost worthy of an award. He is particularly fond of the wet noodle position (see left). It's amazing how different he is to his big brother. Jack has his moments but nothing like the meltdown that Danny can rustle up. If you take something away, or take him somewhere he doesn't want to go, it's KABOOM! He throws himself onto the ground and goes bonkers.
Now, our take on all of this so far has been two-fold: (1) laugh at him or (2) ignore him. Mainly number two. However, we have now got a situation that I'm a bit worried about. This week, in a moment of blind rage, he flung himself backwards so hard that he bashed the back of his head on the floor. Linda is so nervous now that she doesn't even want to take him anywhere there might be a hard surface. It's coming to something isn't it when your child is such a basket-case that you only allow him to play on grass and carpet. But what's the answer? It's not like you can reason with an 18-month old. Maybe I'll make him wear a football helmet? Good idea, no?

Anyway, it's weekend - woo hoo! Craig will be installing a new window in the bathroom and Jack has a play-date with Eva. Other than that, we're having movie night tonight with Jack and I've got "Elizabeth" to watch and my new book to finish (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). The weather is horrid - 100 degrees and high humidity, so unless we are swimming we'll be hiding inside the house and eating popsicles.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. Big hugs and kisses go out to my lovely Uncle Stan, who's not so well and in hospital in England. X

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Best Welcome Home Ever

I got home tonight after 3 days away and it was LOVELY!

When we landed I texted Craig "Just touched down" and he replied " We watched and waved". The girl sitting next to me* probably thought I was a loon because I did a big contented sign and smiled like a Cheshire cat.

When I got to the car I opened the back door to put my bag in and Jack was straining to turn around in his seat saying 'Mama I missed you, I love you!" and Danny was kicking his legs and shouting "Mama mama mama!", with this huge grin. There is NOTHING better than a welcome like that. Except of course the big kiss from my husband :-) I looked at both of my lads and thought that it's only been two days I've not seen them but they are different. Have changed. Especially Danny. He even said a new word - "Jack!"

On the way home I gave out the gifts and as Jack got his Lego he looked confused for a second and said "Lego! I said Buzz and Woody ...." Then stopped himself. I said "Did you want the Buzz & Woody Lego you saw?" and he looked sincerely like he didn't want to hurt my feelings and said "Yes, but I love this". And he patted it to his chest. What a wonderful human being this little boy is, so tuned to others people's feelings already.

Danny threw his book across the car, grinned at me and demanded cheese crackers.

When I walked in the door, our dog Cody went nuts and currently Tutz, my cat, is stretched out on the couch next to me, her back the length of my thigh. She never socialised with us in 10 years but since Frank died she's been with us non-stop., which has been different but really nice. God, I still miss him though.

What a welcome home. I am the luckiest person in the history of people. And the boys had a great weekend with Craig: park, cook-out & picnic, local fair, & zoo. They are both exhausted tonight (me & Craig too). I love my home, my life, my family and I know I'm dead lucky to have all of that.

*In regard to my blonde plane associate: I hadn't eaten lunch, so at Denver airport I got a big bag of cheesy snacks and a book I've wanted for ages, so I was REALLY looking forward to munching crackers and reading my way through the 3-hour flight back to Ohio. When I got the seat, my partner was a 6', 20-year old gorgeous and tanned blonde that probably weighed about 125 pounds. So I didn't eat a thing. Damn her to hell.

One last thing, on the way from my hotel to the airport in Denver, my driver looked casually to her right when we got to my terminal and said "That's a statue of the God of Death" And there he was, just sat there in the grass. Who in their right mind would put the statue of The God of Death at an airport?

Well, they do a bit of explaining in the video:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

On the Phone with Jack

I was on the phone with Jack (me in Denver, him at home) and I said "I might lose you, I'm getting on the elevator". Then I lost him.

When I called him back he said worriedly, "Mommy!! Why are you getting on an alligator?"

Friday, July 16, 2010

Denver, Colorado

I am in Denver, Colorado on work business. Craig and the boys are at home, probably tearing up the house and eating hot dogs for breakfast, but that's fine.

I really like Denver, the Mile High City. They said I might have trouble breathing with the high altitude but they've obviously never been to Columbus with it's toxic air quality and 98% humidity. Compared to that, this air is like breathing angel's breath. This picture is of is 16th street - pedestrianized and with a free shuttle bus constantly running up and down. It's full of bars and restaurants and shops and buskers. It's very hip and made me feel like partying! Yeah right. It's 10pm and I'm getting ready for bed. I'm getting old.

The view from my hotel. Invesco Field is in the foreground (Denver Broncos NFL stadium) and there's 14,000 ft. mountains beyond that. Some have snow on the top.

I had a couple of hours to myself this afty so went to see King Tut. It was good. Maybe I was spoiled by the Titanic exhibit this past spring but I was hoping to see his Sarcophagus and it wasn't part of the exhibit. Some cool stuff though - glad I went.

The state capital building. It was 100 degrees here today but no humidity so it felt nice.

Big blue bear looking in

Crocs - a very good place to eat Tex Mex and other American food.
And look! Buckeyes are everywhere!!!

Tomorrow I'll be in meetings all day and then home Sunday so I'll not get to see much else. but I really like this city and the views are incredible. Big mountains! I haven't seen anything but corn fields and traffic cones in months. I really do miss Craig and the boys though. Jack was most upset this morning when I left. He wrapped his little arms around my neck and cried "don't go moma!" My heart snapped right in two.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Taking Chance

My husband Craig and I have a pact when it comes to our Netflix movies, where he chooses a film and then I do. That way we don't always watch drama (me) or blood-thirsty shoot-em-ups (him). Anyway, he got two choices last week: The Crazies and Shutter Island, so I made the most of my choice and got "Taking Chance", which we watched last night.

Taking Chance got 4.7 stars out of 5, so I knew it was going to be a good movie, but I didn't tell Craig too much ahead of time as he hates dramas. Kevin Bacon stars as a Captain in the Marines that escorts the body of a Private killed in Iraq. He escorts him across the USA and the story is all about that journey and the people he meets along the way. It's based on a true story and of course it's a tear-jerker but it was really interesting to see what happens when a soldier dies and how the forces handle the body until they get home.

By the end of the film I was a wreck and had a face like a squashed tomato. I defy anyone to watch this film and not cry! But it's also a wonderful portrayal of real Americans and it leaves you feeling proud that fallen soldiers are handled with such dignity. I really had no idea how much went into the whole operation.

By the way, Craig loved it and we both gave it 5/5.

Here's the trailer:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Organise & De-Plastic!

This weekend I attempted to de-clutter and organise my life a bit better since the minefield of plastic crap is taking over my house. Seriously, where does all this plastic stuff come from? Cars, trains, balls, animals, musical instruments, slinkies, bats, golf clubs, phones, keys, tubs of play-doh. I'm amazed I'm not dead the amount of times I've stood on one of these things and done a flying leap. And falling over at 41 years old is nothing like falling over at 20. Now I have to put my head between my knees to stop from passing out and it takes me a while to get back up.

I've been secretly chucking stuff away while Jack sleeps or giving it to charity. He has the memory of an elephant though and will ask about some random toy he's not played with for 6 months. "Moma, where's my small ball that turns into a car?". I should respond that after the 10th time of fishing it out of his brothers throat, I threw it away, but I say vaguely 'Mmm, not sure love, wherever you left it" and do a quick retreat.

I did find a nice (though plastic) toy-box on Craig's List but had a bugger of a time actually storing toys in it:

One of my other worries with all this plastic rubbish is the scare about lead in the paint (since Danny chews on everything) and the fact that most plastics contain BPAs. Even baby bottles and cups! So I'm going to try and get rid of some plastic toys and only buy BPA-free cups from now on. I might be over-reacting but when I hear terms like ADHD and cancer my mummy gene kicks in.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Two New Books: Oscar & Ozzy

I just read two books.

The first was Making Rounds with Oscar, which I wanted to read after losing Frank. I'm still taking those big deep breaths when I think of him and I'll totter down to his spot in the garden and say hello when I'm brave. I saw Craig go down there tonight to do the same as I spied him from the fence and had a little cry ... Anyway, it was a great book and I can say that I didn't learn anything that I didn't already know about cats (the author knew nothing about feline characters) but I learnt a lot about Alzheimer's disease. And holy cow it frightened me. A good book though and 3/5 from me.

Next, I got a book out of the library for Craig but he was too busy so I read I am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne. I read two pages and immediately went out and bought a copy for my dad for his birthday, because he likes a laugh too. I just finished mine last night and I loved it.

I was never into Black Sabbath and only really got to know Ozzy through The Osbournes. Craig was into Black Sabbath 25 years ago, so he just looks at me funny and nods when I try and tell him something from the book. Anyway, I'm sure some of you think Ozzy was a waster and an idiot but I'll tell you this. Ozzy Osbourne was born a working class man that made it to a multi-millionaire. He has tons of friends and a family that love him. He's a character, he's funny and loving and, most important in this book, honest as the day is long. I wish there were more people in the world like Ozzy, instead of the plastic, anal people you meet that want to look perfect all the time, while behind closed doors it's a train wreck.

So, I am now trying to catch up on his songs. I always thought I didn't like heavy rock. Thought it was a bunch of 40-year old single men living in their mum's basement screaming into a microphone. Turns out that's "thrash metal". Who knew.

So, here's my favourite Ozzy song "Paranoid" when he was with Black Sabbath.

And I give the book a huge 5 out of 5, with big drunken bells on the end.

Zoo Trip - Polar Bears

To finish off our long party weekend we took the kids to the zoo this morning. In hindsight, taking the kids to a place with thousands of square feet of black tarmac on a 93 degree day wasn't the most brainy thing I've ever done. All four of us looked like we needed medical treatment by the time we left.
Still, we DID get to see the polar bears at the new Polar Frontier.

The bespectacled bear looks as scary as the brown one don't you think?
He looks like a scary man in a bear suit.

Both boys were very quiet when the polar bears come along. Probably because we told them that if the bears got out they would eat them (I'm kidding)
You stand in this tunnel and they come and stand on it and swim and play around you.
It was brilliant.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Birthday Celebrations: Part 2

This morning Jack's friend Eva came over for a play-date. They haven't seen each other in a few months but that didn't seem to hamper things. These two kids are so alike, not just in looks but in personality. At the old daycare they were like partners in crime. It was great for me to catch up with her mum too and have a good chin-wag. I'm always happy to chat with other mum's with kids the same age to talk about school choices and where they are at as far as development.

After that we Skyped my best friend Sue in England, who's due in September. Her older boy Noah is 6 on Tuesday. I miss her and wish I could go & see her for a brew each day.

This afternoon we played with water in the back garden. We all soaked each other basically. Craig was particularly cunning and soaked me several times so he's in for it next time we're in the garden. Jack was so happy, just playing with us like that.

Tonight we went to our local July 4th firework display. Apart from the moron that set a firework off that flew over our heads, it was a great time.

I'm so proud of this lad. He's considerate, kind, loving and a good laugh. He has his devil-like moments obviously but overall he's a good egg and I'm proud of him.

Danny was mesmerized by the fireworks. The finale was so loud that I thought he might get scared but he didn't - just gazed at them in wonder as he snuggled back into his dad's chest. Jack was snuggled into me.

We got home at 11 pm and put the lads to bed, kicking the minefield of toys & balloons out of the way on route to the bedrooms. Craig said "Okay, after tomorrow I'm all ballooned-out." So we'll celebrate again tomorrow as we are off work and still in party mode. What a great time of year to be born. Our Jack is so lucky. Poor Danny, by comparison, has snow and ice to look forward to.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Happy Birthday America!

Dear America,
Thank you so much for being a great host to me, Craig, Jack & Danny.
Happy Birthday!

This is one of my favourite version of the national anthem. She was awesome wasn't she, before she went nuts.

Jack's 4th Birthday

The birthday so far has been a roaring success, though I'm currently sat in the garden locked out of the house as the wind blew the door shut. Craig's on his way back from an errand, hopefully.

Jack opened his presents up this morning and was so excited he was shaking. He did this weird thing though where he insisted in tidying up the wrapping paper before he took a look at each present. I'd like to say he's tidy all the time but he's not. He leaves so many toys out that I spend half my time stooping down or on the floor fishing out balls from under the telly. My poor old knees are knackered.

Anyway, back to the birthday boy. We bought him a radio-controlled Jeep and he got lots of toys and pirate stuff and clothes. He also got Buzz LightYear & Woody dress-up clothes and a cool new swing. Thanks very much to friends & family for those presents - you made his day!

Here's a few pictures ...

Ahh, the joys of a 4-year old: Buzz blows up his whoopie cushion

Scurvy Dogs Jack & Frankie

With his friend Katy. It seemed like they didn't play too much together this time but after she left he kept asking for her. She is one bright cookie.

Christopher and his mum & dad, Petra & Kurt
The treasure hunt was a big hit I think.

Our newest baby in the group, Luke, slept the entire time

Our first attempt at a strawberry cake, which tasted fabulous! Well done Craig who did it all. I just wrote the name and covered it with sprinkles

Our darling boy is 4. Happy birthday Jack Sparrow. We love you. X

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Leading up to the Big 4

This is, by a long shot, one of my favourite weeks of the year, the lead up to the July 4th long weekend and Jack's birthday. Everyone at work is mellow, the sun is shining and there's an air of expected festivities like Bar-B-Q's and fireworks.

We kick-started the birthday festivities by taking Jack to the Zoo on Tuesday night. If you look really close at this picture you can see the two kangaroos in the background at it like rabbits. I'll never tire of childish humour, obviously.

This little fella has come along leaps and bounds. I went into his bedroom this morning and said good morning. He said "Hi!" and then "Finger!" as he showed me one of his digits. Not the rude one, thankfully. He's a gem and I love him to bits, but this post isn't about him.

Back to Jack's birthday festivities: So far we have gone swimming, to the Zoo, and tonight Auntie Gina and Matt came over which is always a big treat for him. Gina is one of those gifted people that can immediately make kids at ease and want to play. We have pictures of them holding him when he was days old, which is a lovely feeling to have about friends.

Jack the Lad. You're going to be FOUR! I still think of you as my toddler, my baby and you're not. You are a little boy that's galloping along towards independence. I don't want to stop it because I want you to be confident and independent but OH, I wish these last two years at least had gone slower.

Let's see. A quick Jack story for today. We played hide and seek last night and the only way I found him, hidden under his bed, was that he let one rip. He's been in a fit of giggles about it all day. So have I actually.


Last but not least, I want to send a big hug to my mum & Tom today. Their chihuahua Barney died yesterday. He was 15 and the most beloved dog on the planet, so I want them to know that I'm thinking of them.