Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Memorable Moments This Week

* When I put my pink spotty dressing gown on yesterday morning Jack exclaimed "Moma, you look like a princess!"

* My doctor told me it's time for a mammogram. Yippee! A friend of mine once told me it's akin to lying on the driveway and having your husband reverse over your chest in a truck. Another friend told me the bigger the better, since smaller boobs are harder to squish between two plates. So I guess having a big rack paid off after all.

* I said to Jack "Don't stand over Cody while he's eating his bone and stop pestering him, he doesn't do that to you" and Craig said "Err yes Pam, actually he does". Fair point.

* Sat on the edge of my bed at 3am after soothing a crying, barfing and feverish toddler, I made my mind up that another cat might not be a top priority right now

* Jack starts pre-school next week. I'm trying my best to stay chipper & not get angry about being ripped off with tuition fees, snack fees, bag fees, and lunch fees.

* I found Danny eating Cody's dog bone this morning, which is probably why I have situations described in point number four.

* Our lawn mower is broken and a neighbour mowed my lawn without asking and has offered to give us a mower. My neighbourhood is the best.

* When I left the house this morning both boys were blowing me kisses.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What's New Pussy Cat

It's been about two and a half months since my cat, Frank, died and I still miss him a lot. My female cat, Tutz seems to have finally developed some confidence and will come and sit with us at night and she'll meow a bit. She's laying next to me now, giving me a little squeak every now and again to remind me to pet her. Or she'll stand up and lick my arm with that tiny, sand-paper tongue of hers. She adores Cody too and will cuddle up with him. But she still avoids the kids like the plague and spends most of her day hanging out in the basement, sat in the big picture window looking at birds and passers by.
I love her, but she isn't Frank.

Frank was daft as a brush. He'd get locked in cupboards and hide round corners and jump out on Cody. He'd meow like a banshee for tuna and he'd sit and give you his paw for a treat. He loved humans and he had such a great personality. I'd get home from work and he'd run to see me, meowing like mad and then purring so loud when I held him. And he'd sleep with me, in the crook of my arm or even on my head ( a Frankie hat).

So here's the deal. There's a cat rescue place nearby and I've been looking at some of their pictures on the Internet and thinking maybe we should get another. Craig says 100% NO. I know what he means because cats just ruin the house - the hair is everywhere, the carpet gets plucked, they barf and they pee periodically in places they shouldn't. And then they die and break your heart. But still, I have a yearning that I'm trying to work out and I'm even having conversations with myself about how to convince Craig "I'll take care of it and feed it I promise!" God, I sound like a 7-year old.

Maybe it's because I feel guilty that I didn't give Frank enough love the last couple of years and I want to make amends?
Maybe I just miss Frank and his wacky personality and want that quirkiness back?
Maybe I'm trying to replace Frank?

I have a mad-busy life with my job, hubby, two kids, dog and cat. What possible reason could I have for wanting another cat to take care of? But I see a picture of Clementine, a 4-year old orange tabby that loves people so much they let her hang out in the office and I think, I could take care of her, of Clemmy. And I love Winston Churchill and that was his wife's name - so it must be fate, right? Craig thinks I'm bonkers.
Ohhh, what to do..


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Trampoline & Shameless

We just got back from a cook-out at Craig's boss's house. Both boys are conked out, sunburnt & snoring in their rooms. The number 1 hit with all kids tonight was the trampoline. Jack jumped on and off for 3 hours and Danny loved it too. Danny ran around like a lunatic and it took four adults (me, Craig and two helps) to keep the little terror from flying off and breaking his neck. He was laughing the whole time of course. This is my favourite picture of the night. Jack (in red) with his new friends on the trampoline. Later on, the boy in blue ran from the bonfire screaming & crying and we don't know if he got burnt or if he had got a telling off by his parents. All the way home and even when he was falling asleep and drowsy, my boy Jack was worried about him. Bless his heart.

Now, me & Craig are wine -in-hand watching Shameless. AHHHHH Relax. Adult time and a laugh with our favourite show. I think we are still behind England on episodes though (I think we are on Series 6). Tonight, Frank let rip and let them all know: drugs, extortion, infidelity, hit-men,and love. It was the episode where both Paddy and his missus paid for a hit on each other. It made us laugh anyway. Thank God for Shameless.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Balloon Festival

After work tonight we took the kids to a balloon festival, which was 90% disastrous and 10 good.

I got lost on the way and then we had to queue for half an hour to get in because even though a million people showed up, there was only one nice but doddery old lady on the entrance gate.

We queued up for everything: toilets, bouncy castle, slide, funnel cake. We attempted to queue for a balloon ride but several people told us not to and I'm glad we didn't because when we were about half-way through queuing for our funnel cake a lady came out and announced to the mile-long line queuing for the balloons that they had run out of gas, or something like that. People were so mad. She just looked like all the event managers did - they were completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of poeple that had showed up. Maybe in past years, pre-economic implosion, people spent their time shopping at Gap or jet-skiing on a warm Friday evening. Now, they look for things to do that cost $5. In addition to the queuing, people were just obnoxious. Pushing shoving, being rude. There were people everywhere, queuing for everything and it was Friday and all the parents were tired and pissed off. And then Danny started screaming and Jack howled because he couldn't get a balloon ride.

Other than that, the evening was a roaring success. It was right up there with the time I got a black eye trying to limbo under a car park barrier and had to take a day off work.

IF we go next year I'm going to be as prepared as a SAS warrior going into battle and God help the family that jumps the queue in front of me. Hi-Yah!

Still, the balloons were lovely, really worth the hassle. And once we relaxed, found a little spot of grass that was ours, we had fun ...

Two New Fabulous Tunes This Week

Here's two fabulous new songs that deserve a mention. Both have been cranked up either in my car or on my PC this week. I defy you not to dance like a lunatic to the Plain White T's.

Ray Lamontagne: Old Before your Time off the new album Ray Lamontagne & the Pariah Dogs: God Willing & the Creek Don't Rise.

Plain White T's: Rhythm of Love (thanks for sharing with me Gina. X)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Zip-Line Fun at Katy's

Jack had a play-date with his friend Katy tonight and had an absolute ball! Their neighbor has set up a zip-line in the back yard that the kids can play on. I am in awe of this thing...

And here's a short 30-second video of our lad in action ..

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cruise the Ville Weekend

On Saturday Craig pootled off to Perry County forest to pick his tree out and hang up his tree stand in prime position to get bambi next month. I took the lads to Cruise the Ville so we could ooooh and ahhhh over the old muscle cars and spend some quality time together...

Eric & Dave took 2 cars to show. Me & the boys had a hotdog lunch with them and all went well until Danny had the screaming ab-dabs and they made a quick escape. Wise men. Very wise.

Don't get used to that position Jack my lad. I have bigger aspirations for you in life.

What a good laugh it would be to do a road trip in this!

In a few years, when I can get rid of the minivan, I'm getting myself a Thunderbird. Oh yes.

Our friends Mark & Gary also took 2 cars. They have a cherry-red 1968 Mustang and it's gorgeous.

Makes me want to start singing "I got chills, they're multiplyin'....."

Some Danny news! He's now sitting at the table and using a spoon.
Goodbye & good riddance plastic, clunky, smelly old high chair.

Look what happens when you ask your 4-year old to water the new seedlings in your lawn. I just missed the hose down the pants shot, darn it.

Last night we took the boys to Sharon Woods Metro Park for a big walk. Jack insists on walking Cody now and they do make a sight for sore eyes when you see them together.
Unfortunately, while the boys played on the swings I got inundated by a gang of young girls trying pet Cody and saying things like "Can I tip his water bowl out?" and "Can I poke him with a stick?" and "Can I walk him?" as they tried to prise my fingers off the lead. All the while I'm trying to be polite but thinking any minute that I might have to deck one of them. And the parents were about 300 yards away, happily picnicking and pretending they were single again. Morons.

After our big walk we took the kids to Knights Ice Cream Parlor, which is my new number 1 ice cream place. Craig had black raspberry chip, Jack (& Cody) had strawberry, Danny (& Cody) had banana and I had tiramisu. Sunday is NO DIET day in our house.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Bit of Morning Joy

Several years ago when Sirius Radio first came out Craig got it for me as a birthday present so that I could listen to BBC Radio 1 in the morning, but then my little plastic gadget stuck to the windscreen broke (I blame the gazillion degree heat in the the car during the summer) and because it was ONE WEEK past the warranty date Sirius wouldn't help me out. So I thought Pahh! Bollocks to you, Sirius non-helping fools, I'll just listen to my local radio station, CD 101.

But alas, my heart has yearned for BBC Radio 1 for the last six years (no offense CD 101).

This spring, when I bought my minivan it was "XM Radio -ready" and I was excited but also knew we didn't have extra cash to get the service so didn't say anything. But you know, we had to get the service to listen to all the World Cup games when we went on holiday to the Outer Banks in NC and Craig said "I know you love it so I'll keep paying for it, for you." Bless him, he knows. And now, if one of use loses our job, if things get tight, this is one of the last things to go for me. I'm homesick, okay. I need Chris Moyles & BBC Radio 1, I really do. I spend 20 minutes every single morning laughing my arse off & having a great time in my car. By the time I get to work I'm happy and ready to take on the world.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'm a Soccer Mom & Proud!

We signed Jack up for a soccer team and he had his first practice tonight. I was a bit worried he'd make me stand on the pitch with him again like he did last time but he didn't even look back and shout bye. He was off! Right in the thick of it and laughing so loud I could hear him from the other end of the field. A big relief I can tell you, as doing jumping-jacks is not fun when you've got wobbly bits.

Craig and I took our camping chairs and expected to sit and enjoy the evening sun but ohhh nooo. Not with Danny the Whirling Dermish about. Picking up balls, digging into ladies handbags, running away and generally being a terror. During one high speed chase it did occur to me that I must be dreadfully unfit if an 18 month old can out-run me.

The Coach is a nice man. Forty I'd say and mellow and friendly. Not a frustrated Beckham thankfully, just a dad out for some fun. His son is on the team and his wife chatted with us on the sidelines.

Anyway, there were several other parents there that seemed really nice and we all made the right comments about "being four, just have fun, no need to be serious etc. etc." Except one couple. They were perfectly groomed and very serious about the whole thing. I knew as soon as Danny toddled up to the dad to touch a soccer ball and he scooped it up and said "No! I'm holding it right now" that I disliked him. Never mind. It'll give me some people watching opportunities if nothing else, in between watching Jack play on the pitch and watching Danny delving into peoples bags.

On the way home Jack said "I love my coach and I'm going to tell him next time!" so we had to have a little conversation about the difference between like and love. But I'm glad he likes soccer so much and I'm looking forward to his first game. As long as it doesn't clash with Buckeye Football of course.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Our Ivory Anniversary

Today is our 14th wedding anniversary. That's the "ivory" anniversary, so Craig bought me a darling pair of ivory earrings. I'm kidding of course. We went to the zoo yesterday and said hello to the elephants and got a nice little statue of one, to mark the occasion.

So, what have we done with ourselves for the last fourteen years? Well rather a lot actually. We've emigrated to America, had two kids, bought and renovated two houses, raised three animals, and travelled across nearly 30 states. Along the way we have advanced our careers and made new friends. I'd like to say we've also made a ton of money but that would be completely untrue. Still, when you look at what we've accomplished and how healthy everyone is, I think that's worth more than money.

I hate to do a big gushy posting about my wonderful marriage but I want to just acknowledge it, today of all days. Craig is my best friend and an absolutely fabulous dad. He's a man's man that loves to canoe and fish and hunt and build things. He's a wonderful cook and an incredible fixer& maker of things. Lately, he's made big sturdy wooden storage shelves in the garage, replaced windows, and renovated a bathroom - just in the last couple of months! I am completely useless by comparison and can't cook to save my life. But that's why we get along. He cooks, I clean. He builds things, I tidy up after him. He takes the boys fishing, I cut their nails. One task we do share is the bedtime routine for the kids. We rotate every single night and have since they were born. Sometimes we'll wrangle over who has to do it (let's be honest here folks, sometimes bedtime can be a chore) but we see parenting as a joint venture and we back each other up.
Are you barfing yet? Does sound a bit too good to be true doesn't it. We do fight of course and there's been many a day where we've both huffed off to work after giving each other the evil eye. But I'd say that's normal - right?
So anyway, Happy Anniversary Craig. I hope we are celebrating our next 14 feeling as lucky as we do today.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Everything Elizabethan

We've been watching a lot about the history of the English monarchy lately and I'm really interested in Elizabeth 1. If she was the queen in 2010 I'd be wearing her t-shirts and buying her royal decrees and doing my hair all crazy and orange. I like her that much.

She was born to a beautiful mother, Ann Boleyn, who was beheaded by her father, Henry Vlll. Elizabeth was later imprisoned by her catholic sister, Queen Mary 1, until Mary died. Then finally Elizabeth got the throne. And what a fantastic historical time for England. She was a protestant queen, surrounded by European countries and half of England being catholic. She was the first feminist, so strong and clever. During her reign there was Sir Walter Raleigh's discovery of the new world (America) and the creation of the first colony, Virginia, named after her, the virgin queen. He brought tobacco and potatoes. And Sir Francis Drake ruled the seas. And one of the greatest naval battles in history took place in 1588, the defeat of the Spanish Armada by fire ships. That's Craig's favourite bit - the naval battle strategies.

I could kick myself that I didn't embrace English history in school because it is absolutely fascinating. I'll have to spend the rest of my days catching up.

This is a clip from The Tudors Series 2, when Anne was beheaded. I cried my eyes out at this scene . I'm not going to apologize for it. I'm female. I like a good cry now & again.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Brain Overload!

Yesterday at lunchtime, a bad storm came through Ohio. Craig was at home & when he heard the tornado sirens go off he gathered everybody up (kids, Linda and pets) and got them into the basement. I'm sure at this point his adrenalin was pumping and he was worried how to take care of everyone during the impending devastation. I called him on his mobile just as he was doing this and he told me where he was and I cracked up laughing. At noon every Wednesday, the city does a practice tornado drill. Of course I'm going to take the Mickey and he knows it, because he gets me every time I do it.

You know what though? I'm doing that kind of scatty thing all the time. My brain is overloaded and I've even asked myself if I might be getting dementia, I get so nutty and lost sometimes.

My friend Deb at work has a theory and I think she's right. In the "old days" - 15 years ago, we didn't have cell phones or Facebook or Twitter or e-mail or Skype or blogs or chat rooms. We had phones at home and maybe in the office. When I was a kid in Scarisbrick 25 years ago, our big, clunky circular-dial phone even had a lock on it to stop my sister from calling her friends for 2 hours. Course we picked it (sorry mum). Anyway, sometimes, we'd spend all day on our own without interruption. I remember driving from Preston to Maidstone (an 8-hr, drive) in a crappy car at night on my own at 21 years old and I wasn't scared. Was that my youth? yes probably. But also a confidence that I could be on my own and be happy.

Now, in 2010 - I can't remember the last time I was on my own, I really can't. Can you? And I don't want my kids overloaded 100% of their waking life. That would be dreadful. They need alone time, to ride their bikes like a maniac, mess about in rock pools and poo in the woods. Alone.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Indian Lake & Danny's 18M Visit

We had a brilliant weekend. A millisecond after finishing work on Friday we were OFF to Indian Lake to see our friends Char & Jan who were visiting from California. We stayed at their cabin from Friday PM until just a couple of hours ago and we are all sunburnt & exhausted but happy. Here's a few pictures (after the state fair posting when I also did a ton of pictures with captions you may think I'm being mentally challenged, but I'm thinking that friends & family in England want to see pictures of the lads & such):

Char & Jane's cabin on Indian Lake. We've been going there now about eight years and have many memories. Most are not for public knowledge and usually involved skinny dipping or falling over or both. We once walked across the ice to get to it, only to discover that we'd forgotten the door key. We are a scatty bunch at best.

Women of substance (and salad)

Cody had two hose-pipe showers because he kept rolling in raccoon poo. Today he refused to leave the cabin & we realized it was because the horse flies were bugging him. He's a good soul is our Cody. Smelly, but good.

You can't beat that smile can you. Not for all the tea in China.

He was tired and wet and cranky after swimming. Jan was looking for an excuse to hug a baby, so it all worked out just fine.

The American Bald Eagle was nesting at the back of their cabin last year but has moved. Still, we saw him a lot. As long as I live in America I'll always be fascinated by Amish people & bald eagles. It's an English thing.

Look at that catfish whopper! It was one of the most exciting moments of the weekend, watching Craig reel this thing in. Happy man. Happy.Happy.Happy.

Talking of happy, Jack fished with Craig all weekend. I didn't think he'd have the patience but he did, and all he caught was seaweed, bless.
Jack at sunset last night, getting ready to cast out for the last time. When the sky went black the most amazing stars came out, Thousands and thousands of them, and so once again my husband looked at me and said "I want to move out to the country". And I thought "Bugger that. I'm not moving somewhere I have to get a sewage tank cleaned out, my water comes from a well, and I can't nip to Target for some mummy-time".

Jan & Craig

Me and Danny boy.
It was his 18-month Docs appointment on Friday. He weighs 30 lbs (70th percentile) and is 35 inches tall (97th). He acted the same as Jack did at his 18-month appointment, and was a complete live-wire, so that's funny. But Danny weighs 5.5 lbs more and is 1.75 inches taller than Jack at that stage. I can live with two tall blond boys, I really can.

So anyway, we had a great weekend and when we said goodbye tonight we got a bit choked up. I know they have a new life now in California but I miss them terribly.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Ohio State Fair Pictures

Today we did our annual trip to the Ohio State Fair.
A quick summary of the fair includes the following: Not much activity to report on the people-watching front, except a woman dressed as a 1900's hooker. The butter cow was joined by a couple of football legends and a giant football (all made of butter of course). The weather was 90s and sticky hot, made all the more miserable by walking on black-top for 7 hours. The food oddity this year was .... wait for it ..... chocolate covered bacon! I tried to make Craig eat it but he wouldn't.

Here's a few pictures:

Our lads on arrival at the fair, looking ready for some fun
Jack and Brutus Buckeye. I bet poor Brutus's underwear was a bit soggy when he got home. His costume certainly was. As he travelled through the crowd people were going nuts yelling at him (well we are buckeye nuts after all).

I loved sitting and watching these two fish together.

Me and the boys on the carousel

Our lads after seven hours, completely zonked-out asleep on our way to the car. Every time we tried to gently push Danny into a lying-down position, he woke up and got upset and sat back up, so we eventually just left him like this. We got so many comments about him though! One man even came up and asked us to lay him down. So I tried again and Danny woke up, had a fit and sat back up. The man said "ooops, sorry, please ignore me" and walked off looking embarrassed. Having a head-strong boy is a challenge I can tell you.