Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaBloPoMo Ends - Xmas Begins!

Well I did it - 30 posts in 30 days! It wasn't a chore to be honest as I like blogging, but I'm gearing up for all kinds of things now and should really spend my time more wisely each evening.

As of tomorrow it's officially Christmas in my house. We are going to celebrate all month long, including watching Santa jump out of a helicopter tomorrow night. Then there's Santa to see, presents to buy, wrap and send, and Jack's Christmas play at school. And my MIL and FIL arrive in two weeks time to spend Christmas and New Year with us. In between all of this and January 1 I have my husband's birthday in two days time, my full-time job and a big work conference. And at some point this century I need to Skype my best friend Sue.

But back to the festivities. Want, might you ask, am I hoping for for Christmas? Haven't you noticed it yet? I want to be a part of THE wedding of course! I want tea-towels, pinnies, tea cosies and mugs. I want them all. Bring it on. I am thinking of hosting a wedding party on the big day too. Will you come?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Top 10 Reasons I Like Living with my 4-Yr Old

1. He insisted on sleeping in a large cardboard box last night, rather than his own bed
2. He wears shorts every opportunity he gets, even in winter
3. I find odd things, like plastic eyeballs, in his pockets when I do his laundry
4. He asks passers-by if they'd like to pick a worm out of his gardening bucket
5. He jumps in leaves that were just raked up
6. He shouts hello to neighbors, the mailman and anybody else within earshot
7. He has hilarious conversations with himself when he plays pretend
8. He finds Christmas absolutely magical
9. He thinks we are the greatest thing since sliced bread
10. He makes us laugh every day. Today, he saw our dog Cody stood by a lamp post and said "Is Cody waiting for a bus?"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Heights of Monkeydom

Danny reached new heights in cheeky-monkeydom today when I took him to the local supermarket with me to buy food. Now, I'm used to him causing havoc by yelling, screaming, rattling the trolley, biting the handle bar and doing all kinds of typical toddler stuff. In fact I've become immune to the stares of those that don't have kids or have forgotten that they were once a terror. In fact, if anyone so much as tuts or rolls their eyes I give them the "go ahead make my day" stare right back.

In other words, I have become somewhat unfazed by the nightmare that is taking a toddler to go food shopping.

So today I'm in the cereal aisle, looking for the store brand of Cheerios (it's been a tight month) and Danny starts violently rocking back and forth, trying to get out of the shopping cart and saying "down". When I sush him he gets that glint in his eyes, then really goes for it and starts yelling at the top of his lungs "HELP!, HELP!, HELP!" and I swear, about 5 people came into the aisle to investigate which toddler was being murdered.

No amount of sushing, ferocious whispering or pulling funny faces would make him stop so I had to make a hasty retreat. Little monkey. It seems that Mr. Daniel has found a new and most ingenious way to humiliate his mum.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Beat Blue: Part 2

Today's game was fabulous. It was freezing cold but well worth bracing the weather to watch the last game of the season. The Buckeyes won 37-7.

The big controversy of the day is the new block "O" gloves. When the Buckeyes did something great, they formed an "O", to the delight of the crowd. The referees were most disgruntled and gave us at least two penalties for over- celebration. Eh? What? If this is over celebration then I'm Barbara Bush. Complete tosh.

The Buckeyes also wore retro uniforms to honor the 1942 team. They were very cool indeed. This is not a picture of them, just a picture I took of our Mascot Brutus Buckeye, celebrating in the endzone. Now THAT's celebrating (gloves? Pah!)

At one point I found myself stood next to Michigan's flag bearers in Lady Gaga mode. Cute!

As a treat for the poor boys who'd been cooped up in the basement all day (dad was watching the football at home), we took them to their favourite play place tonight and they played like maniacs for a hour. Our Danny has completely abandoned the toddler area and now goes into the big kids area, which is high-up and sometimes I don't see him for several minutes. It's not good for my blood pressure I can tell you.

Next up - Craig's birthday week! My better half turns 41. I think he'd look rather dashing in one of those retro jerseys.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Girl Friends = Priceless

Today we went to a 3-year olds birthday party and it was great. Happy Birthday Mr.C! You are a cute force to be reckoned with and I look forward to watching you grow & take on the world.

Not to take away from the lovely birthday boy but OMG, did I have a good time tonight! I laughed my arse off with these women. We drank (lots of) wine and exchanged war stories of kids with fantastic honesty. I need to do this once a month, I really do. I laughed so hard tonight that my stomach aches.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving at Highbanks

Happy Thanksgiving!
We spent a big chunk of it hiking at Highbanks Park. The rain kept off for the time we were there and the kids had a great time picking up sticks and leaves and splashing in puddles. As I type, Craig & Danny having post-dinner naps and Jack is playing in a big cardboard box I found at work yesterday and dragged home.

A pair of Bald Eagles. What an absolute treat to see them today!

View from the observation deck

Native American earthworks that run in a circle, for about 1/4 mile around where their camp probably stood. The mounds are made of red and yellow riverbed clay not common to the area, so brought from miles away.

200 year-old oak trees that were planted in a line and marked the boundary of the Pool Family's farm. They came from New York to make a new life in Ohio and they had 13 kids. She died at age 37 and he at 53 & their gravestones are on one of the trails. Times were hard for the frontiers folk of Ohio; harsh weather, little food and bears and Shawnee & Mohican Indians trying to kill you!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Long Live the Leg Lamp

It's Thanksgiving here tomorrow and we now have four glorious days off. Craig has recorded "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" on DVR so that will be our holiday film. It never fails to make me laugh and then of course cry like a baby at the end. It is the perfect Thanksgiving movie.

Talking of perfect holiday movies, here's the boys looking at "The Christmas Story" display at the zoo last weekend. I tried to explain why the leg lamp and the boys tongue stuck to the flag pole were funny but they didn't quite get it. Christmas Story is my absolute favourite Christmas film and we watch it at least once every year. It baffles us why it isn't big in England. We hadn't heard of it before we came here. Being English I can say with some degree of confidence that English people would love this film because Brits love a comedy. But it hasn't migrated across the Atlantic for some reason. Another reason I love this film of course is that it's set in Ohio.

Okay, I have to go now. Craig just put "The Hangover" on again and I'm in the mood for a good laugh. Tomorrow I'll post Thanksgiving pictures.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pediatrician Rant

I'm going to have a rant for a few minutes so if you aren't in the mood to hear me going off on one, then come back tomorrow and I'll try to be more cheerful.

We have been with our lads pediatrician, Dr. B., for 4.5 years (since just before Jack was born). We chose him because he's young, dynamic and has grown his family along with ours - he has two boys the same age as ours. Along the way I've heard a few negatives about him as far as his experience and some silly things he's come out with, and I've got at least one friend who moved to another doctor because she wasn't satisfied. But we chugged along because we liked him and I wanted to keep the status-quo. And sometimes the grass isn't greener is it.

Not that I haven't been annoyed with him over the years. Firstly, in each exam room there's a big mirror behind the examination table and when he talks to me, he actually talks to his own reflection while he talks to me. Weird I know but I thought it was just his quirk. Then when he found out that Jack was leaving his bedroom to use the toilet at night he told me to lock him in his room with a potty, for his own safety. I just ignored that ridiculous advice. One final annoyance is that every time I call the office, they brush me off with "there's a bug going round" and I feel like I have to fight to get an appointment sometimes.

When Danny was born and spitting up violently, it took at least ten visits and finally me telling them I was convinced he had pyloric stenosis before they sent him for an ultrasound where he was diagnosed with it. When Danny was in the hospital after his operation, Dr. B. called me and spent 1 minute enquiring about Danny and 5 minutes making sure we didn't blame him for not diagnosing it sooner. Craig and I even laughed about it, how he must have been terrified of us suing him or something. I should have left him then, but we persevered.

So we kept going with him - through the silly advice, the mirror consultations and the front office staff being at best dismissive and at worst downright rude. Just recently, Jack also failed a hearing test during a routine check and there's been no follow-up, when he said there would be.

When Jack got HSP at the beginning of October, Dr. B. wasn't in the office that day so I was referred to the hospital by another doctor. When I took Jack in to see him a few days later he got his medical book out and looked up "HSP" as he was giving us a consultation (via the mirror). During the visit, Jack started to complain loudly about tummy ache and actually doubled over on the floor, clutching his stomach and saying "Mummy my tummy hurts!" I bent over and stroked his back and asked if he was okay. Dr. B. continued to stand over Jack, never once spoke to him and told me that kids that have been in hospital have a tendency to make stuff up when they get discharged. I was so shocked at his behavior that I just left and went home, but by the time I got there I was hopping mad and I rang them back and told the front office staff that next time I came in I wanted Jack to be taken seriously. That afternoon, after he vomited blood, Jack was re-admitted to hospital for a few days. This time when Dr. B. called me at the hospital I ignored his phone calls.

As part of the HSP recovery I have to get Jack's urine tested weekly for protein, since kidney failure is a part of the condition. The first week, Craig took him so I didn't have to see Dr. B. The second time I took him, Dr. B was his usual arrogant self. He told me that instead of taking Jack into the office I could just have him pee in a cup (he'd give us some) and drop the pee off for analysis. Great I thought! He then wrote this down on a note, gave it to me and said each week, take the pee to an urgent care facility, give them this note and they'll know what to do. What? The urgent care facilities are MILES away from my house. The doctors office is 5 minutes away - why would I drive miles away? Then on the way out to the car, Jack reminded me that Dr. B. has also omitted to give me any pee cups. I thought, that's it. I'm done with this guy. That was last week.

This afternoon Linda called me at 4pm and said she thought Jack might have an ear infection. I called Dr. B's office and told them I needed to get him in and they said "we're full", not "Sorry but we are full for the rest of the afternoon, here's your nearest urgent care facility - take him there. I hope he's okay!" Just "we're full". I said what should I do?, and she scoffed at me and said "take him to urgent care". Children's urgent care were wonderful. They diagnosed an infection in each ear, prescribed antibiotics and they also took a urine sample to check for protein and most importantly they treated us all with respect.

So I am finally finished with Dr. B. He can kiss my ass. Tomorrow morning I am calling another pediatricians office and switching my boys over to somebody who isn't so egotistical that they have to look at themselves in the mirror when they talk to you. I truly believe this guy likes the fame and fortune being a doctor brings him, but he has no empathy for kids. As long as I live I will see him standing over Jack while my boy was laid at his feet, crippled with pain.

That's it. Rant over.

Beat Blue Week: Part 1

When I lived in England I thought American football was boring compared to proper football (soccer) because they stop and start, and stop and start. It seemed like nobody ever got anything done. But here's the thing about American football. It is not like soccer or rugby. Do not compare it to either sport. Think of American football as you would a game of chess or a military operation. It is strategic and organized. There are teams for each situation and complicated strategies for each situation. No, they will not run for 90 minutes - that isn't the game. The game is all about outsmarting the opponent with strategy, and that's that why I love it.

What's interesting is that the BBC did a documentary about Ohio State and Coach Woody Hayes back in 1977. They must have heard about the legendary coach and wanted to meet him. I did try and find the original on the web but couldn't. By the way though, I've seen Woody's original chalkboard - are you impressed? (I would guess friends in the USA would say yes, UK no). So anyway, this week is Ohio State-Michigan Week. The biggest rivalry game in college football. I love this game. Love it. Please bear with me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Things on our Magnetic Board

At school this morning, Jack made his Thanksgiving card & told his teachers he was thankful for me, has dad, his grandparents and his pets. I had talked to him this past weekend about it and in hindsight it would have been a lot funnier if I hadn't, since at least two of his friends said they were thankful for cereal and tractors.

He wrote his letter to Santa tonight. He said the words and I wrote them down verbatim. I am very proud of him - he now writes his "J" with the tail off to the left as it should be. Until this week he'd been doing it backwards, to the right. The picture is a kid's air hockey table, in case you were a bit confused.

Lastly, I find this too funny not to post (sorry teachers). Last week the kids took stuffed animal toys to school and put on a pet puppet-show. Jack took a skunk and got this cute certificate from a teacher that, erm, can't spell. . .

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Play-Dates, Games, & Zoo Lights

I haven't been too good at reading other people's blogs and commenting this weekend, sorry. I will catch up tomorrow I promise. This weekend has been a bit nuts. To start with, we've hosted THREE kiddie play-dates this weekend. Am I Mary Poppins or what.

- The first one went great and Jack & his buddy were so alike it was a breeze. I organized this play-date on the advice of his teacher who had told me these boys were on the same emotional level. How right she was.
- The second, we really liked the parents but while we were chatting and the boys were playing upstairs, the visiting boy (who is nearly a year older than Jack) swiped our Jack a few times across the face with a hard plastic sword and gave him a cut on his cheek and eyelid. This boy was a tad sullen and aggressive and I'm not sure I want him back but his parents were great and maybe if I watched a bit more closely it might be ok. Jack first of all told me today that he didn't want this kid to come back, but tonight he recanted. We'll see.
- The third play-date was a walk in the park with his buddy Eva - her and him are two peas in a pod and spent their time pretending to camp in makeshift tents in the front room.

We also hosted an impromptu gathering for the Buckeye game with some neighbours, including our 85-year old neighbour with progressive Alzheimer's. He was surprisingly aware of everything and getting most vocal about the game but on his way over here he swayed from the front path and tried to enter our house by scaling the garden fence. God bless him.

Today I had my first lie-in since September and got up at 10.30am (thank you Craig!) I'm not a complete sloth you know - Danny had kept me awake since 5 am crying for his blankie that was in the wash.

It was gorgeous weather today so we've spent a huge chunk of the day outside at the park and then at the zoo tonight.

I think he might be a bit happy!

Now I'm gearing up for our new show "Walking Dead" at 10pm before bed. Just 3 days at work this week then Thanksgiving. Jack has to tell the class tomorrow what he is thankful for. I hope he says "family", and not "English chocolate".

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kids - No Way!

I never ever wanted kids. Told my mum and all that would listen that NO, I would not be swayed. When I met Craig I said know this! I will never have kids! Hate them! I have a career, I'm too busy, want to do too much with my life to get straddled with kids. And he said I never want kids either, and I thought I'd hit the jackpot! Yea! No Kids!

We were married for a fantastic and adventure-laden ten years when my best friend Sue in England told me she was pregnant. I got to meet her son Noah when he was one year old and starting to walk and he was so lovely I could have brought him home with me. Then I got home to Ohio and it stewed in my mind. Looking back, the fact that I had 2 cats, a dog and a huge desire to mother them should have given me a clue ....

So I said to Craig. Erm, I've been thinking. I think I would like to have a baby. And he said Really? Now, Imagine that said in the context of "this car repair is going to cost five thousand dollars", and not "we are going to Disneyland!" And I said yes, really. And he said sigh - okay. Let's do it, if that's what you want. The first month we tried we were in Brooklyn NY, at a hotel next to Halsey Street Station. The second month we tried England football team were through to the semi-finals of the World Cup. So the kid's name could have been Halsey or Rooney. Thank God for fate, huh.

At the end of that 2nd month, I was so excited that I had bought a load of pregnancy testers and was doing one every day that I should have started to be pregnant. I peed on a stick on one of those weekends then took it down to the basement while I did laundry. I kept looking at the stick, and it took about 2 minutes of intensive staring but the line finally formed into a very faint pink.I raced, two at a time, up the stairs and announced "we're pregnant!" and Craig scooped me up and we celebrated.

So here's me and Craig on our wedding day, cutting our cupcake. My best friend Sue, who's son Noah made me love children, is in the background. After this picture, Sue drove us to the airport and me and Craig went skydiving for a week in Spain.
Fantastic times :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Would You Like to Swing on a Star?

I will start this post by saying that Craig has been teaching Jack toilet humor in the form of finger pulling, toe pulling (he's creative), and laughing raucously at trouser coughs (farts).

And so.

Tonight at 10 pm, after we'd had special movie night in the basement watching Toy Story 3 (again) & eating popcorn, I took Jack to bed and he was absolutely exhausted. As per usual I stroked his hair and sang a song "You are my Sunshine" (his song). I thought he might need one more to be totally asleep so I sang-whispered "Twinkle twinkle", and then thought, he's going to be ZONKED if I sing-whisper "horsey horsey". And yes, he was dead asleep.
I thought to myself, you know what? My mum used to sing "Swing on a Star" to me and it meant a lot and I'd like Jack to have that memory, so I sang it and my heart filled with love.

And then Jack did a huge trump, woke himself up at the noise, and burst out laughing and I was a wreck, laughing so hard I fell over all dramatic, which made him and me laugh more. What a good laugh our lad is.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Butties for Babes

Movie director Stephen Frears made two great comedies years ago, one called The Van and one called The Snapper. Both were about the same working class family in Ireland and they were both hilarious and touching. Anyway, there was a scene in one where the husband, who's a bit of a bully at one point, says to his wife "I'm sick to death of having easy slices (cheese singles) on my sandwiches! For the love of God woman, give me something else!" As he leaves for work the next morning, the wife is in the front doorway, leaning nonchalantly against the doorpost, and her daughter says "easy slices ma?" and she says "yeah". It's such a classic moment.

What am I babbling on about now you might wonder? Well packed lunches as it happens. Packed lunches are the bloody bane of my life. Here's why:

The lunch has to be cold
He hates cucumber
No choking hazards such as grapes, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and celery. Celery? really? Call me cynical but never in 41 years did I ever hear about anyone dying of celery asphyxiation.
No pb & j or anything that might harm kids with allergies, which is a fair point and one well taken
He loves egg sandwiches but I don't want to make the lunch room stink of trouser-coughs
I am far too busy & normal to make stuff like this ..

Any ideas for me? Please?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moonshined Popcorn: TS3

I took Jack to see Toy Story 3 tonight at the cinema. His first ever cinema visit. When the film started he leaned over and whispered "this is the best time in my whole life!"

To save some money I made popcorn at home and filled a ziplock bag with it and snook it in my bag. As we were leaving the house Linda said to Jack "don't tell them at the cinema that you have your own popcorn" which is tantamount to telling him to tell them at the cinema that we have our own popcorn. As we were walking towards the entrance doors he looked up at me and said "mummy, I'll tell them we have NO popcorn!" Oh dear. Thankfully he didn't say anything to humiliate me in the foyer so we munched our way through our cheap popcorn had a fine old time. Imagine being told by the teenager at the counter to remove your moonshined popcorn from your bag before being allowed entry. It would have taken me a few weeks to get over that one.

What a great film and nowhere near as scary for Jack as I thought it was going to be - in fact Jack wasn't fazed at all. We laughed a lot and of course I cried at the end. So a big thumbs up for Toy Story 3. As I'm sat here typing, Jack is playing with his Buzz and Woody toys, pretending they are flying all over the front room and shouting "To divinity and beyond!" Good enough.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pam Ayres: Husbands

Someone sent this to me today and it gave me a chuckle so thought I'd share it. I used to love Pam Ayres so I'm please to see that she's still at it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Zombies & Captain America

My post tonight is going to be a mix of discombobulated nonsense, sorry.

There are several things rattling around in my head that I want to share, like the new series that me and Craig have started watching: "Walking Dead" about Zombies in Atlanta. It's great, with lots of zombie action, blood, eating of rats and frantic running of our young and beautiful heroes. It scares Craig enough that he has nightmares. Not me though. Ghosts and zombies are a breeze. It's real life scary people that scare me to death, like the Petit family murderers. Anyway, what's quite funny is that at the end of each episode, we enter a competition every Sunday to be a zombie! Oh I hope we win. I'd love to be a zombie for a day. Rargghhhh!

Jack is currently Captain America. He takes the metal lid off my bread-bin and uses it as his shield, then puts on his winter gloves and runs around the house protecting everyone. It's just fantastic to watch. Must video him.

Danny has been thwarted in his quest to shove his hands down his pants every time he poos. I have found onsies for 3-year olds that fit him! I wish I could find a similar fix for his major tantrums. We had two today: one when I tried to take his toothbrush away and one when we brought him away from his train table for dinner tonight. Poor Linda told me that she doesn't enjoy taking him to the park as he does it when she makes them leave and people stare. How bad is that? My child causes such a commotion in the park that people stare!

My Christmas cards from Shutterfly have been shipped! Yes, I got the deal by doing a promotional blog post about the company but all I know is this: I have 50 gorgeous and personally designed Christmas cards for $8.43 s&h. It should have cost $109!! You can't even buy 50 crap snow-scene cards for $8.43. The only stipulation is that you have a blog and that you do a post about it. Easy!

That's it. Maybe next time I'll talk about the Black Friday deals, changing pediatricians (mine is an arse) and my question on whether to put your young child in Kindergarten at 5 or 6. But not now. Now I'm going to make sure there's no zombies in the basement and then go to bed. :-)

Friday, November 12, 2010

First Meeting with Mrs. M

We had our first parent:teacher conference this morning. I was a bit flustered and a few minutes late because Daniel had, for the third time this week, decided to stick his hands down his pants after he'd pood, then smear it all over his bed, wall, and self. Stinky poo everywhere. I can only hope that my neighbours had their baby monitor turned off as they'd have heard some rather rude words coming out of my mouth this morning.

Anyway, we met Mrs M. at Jack's school and we saw some of his work and discussed his progress. They commented on his good manners and friendly personality. She said she loved that he'll just come over to you and tell you a story. Tell lots of stories actually. And he concentrates at circle time and he's not aggressive with other kids and he's generally doing GREAT. I knew all of this already (I have lived with him for 4 years after all), but it's so NICE to hear someone else tell you how amazing your child is.

One thing I need to do is more numbers (1-20 by next summer is the goal) and name-writing and using scissors etc. But she gave me some wonderful ideas on how to make it fun, instead of making him sit down and just write it all out which he finds tedious (boring even for us, hey).
Here's some things she suggested:
  • Give him M&Ms after dinner and let him separate out the colours and count them as he eats them. Trouble is, I hate M&Ms (hint to English friends - send Smarties! Please! On second thoughts - it's probably not allowed by Customs is it?)
  • Show him numbers around the house - on the front door, on food packages etc.
  • Teach him my phone number and how to ring it
  • Have him cut out favourite pictures of toys from magazines & glue them in a book.
  • Have him tell me a story and I'll write it down word-for-word in a book, so he'll get to recognise words he's actually spoken
  • Play with his food - let him make shapes and count his food items on his plate
That's all I can remember right now.

I'd love to hear more suggestions any of you might have because my idea box is empty. It's 35 years since I was at elementary school and all I can remember is that we played British bulldog a lot and tried to avoid eating the semolina that stuck to the bowl, even when you turned it upside down and shook it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's Cowboy Time!

We were off today for Veteran's Day. It was a gorgeous day - I think we actually reached 70 degrees and it was sunny and calm, in complete contrast to the gales in England that looked awful. The poor weatherman in Blackpool that I was watching on the BCC website was being whipped about and had ruddy cheeks from the sea spray.

We played outside a lot and then later this afternoon I met my friend Kristen at a local indoor play area so our kids could go nuts in the play-set and we could sit & chat. It's always good adult therapy and we got to eat pizza - bonus, as they say over here!

I captured a 30-second video in the garden today of Jack being a rodeo cowboy. And if you look in the left background you'll see Danny putting soil & small rocks in the air conditioning unit. Little terror. Sorry about the video quality. I don't know how to change the settings when I export for web through Quicktime...

Finally, Happy 60th Birthday to my step-mum Sheila and of course Thank You to veterans past and present.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dame Vera of Course

It's 11.32 pm and I just sat down to do my daily post. We are sat in the basement and Craig is watching a horror film as I type. Phew (and a big slug of wine) - that was a long and hard day.

ANYWAY. It's Veteran's Day tomorrow. Armistice Day. Poppy Day. Remembrance Day (for my Nana Lloyd especially). A day to celebrate soldiers that have served and are still serving in the armed forces.I have been wearing my poppy all week (thanks mum) because they do not sell poppies in the USA - but a colleague told me they used to. Why not now I wonder?

I'll be posting tomorrow about other things happening on the 11th, but for right now I want to post a music video of one of my favourite people on earth - Dame Vera Lynn. She was the force's sweetheart and she makes me proud to be British. Here she is singing "we'll meet again".

And if you'd like to hear more modern versions, then here's two good ones ...

Johnny Cash

Hayley Westenra

So to all those serving. THANKS.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Two Thumbs up for Christmas Photo Cards

One of the things I like about Christmas in America is the photo cards we get from friends each year, especially the ones from dear friends & funny ones (no, I don't know the family featured left but I'll bet their son got a thick ear afterwards!) I put some of the cards on my fridge but then also have a cool string set-up with little pegs on it, so I can hang them up, washing-line style in my front room.

Anyway, I am starting to think about doing our cards (since Christmas is only 45 sleeps away!) and I saw on my friend Emily's Blog that Shutterfly are offering a great deal. All bloggers who are willing to post about Shutterfly holiday cards can receive 50 for free! Check out the details of this one here.

I have not used Shutterfly before as I found another company several years ago and never thought to look anywhere else. BUT, now that I know about Shutterfly I'm going to give it a go. And so far, I'm impressed. They have a big selection of cards and designs. I really like
Holiday Lights so far but I'll probably browse a bit more. They also do calendars, which are always a big hit with my family in England. Lastly, I noticed that they have a big selection of cards and stationary for Mothers Day, which is something I'm always looking for. I can never get myself organized enough to buy cards the previous year (Mothers Day in England is in March) so now I can get them online ahead of time. Fabulous!

If you are planning on making cards this year, this is a great deal. And make sure you send one to me please. This little part of Americana is something I like a lot.

Monday, November 08, 2010

ACLs and My Dog Food Legs

I went to a workshop on ACL injuries last Saturday. It was a work-related endeavour but I'll make one thing clear - I do not work in the medical industry. I am far too dizzy, brain dead and squeamish for such things. I can reiterate that point by the fact that I had to divert my eyes or swallow several times when the presenter showed videos of knee caps being drilled and cadaver legs hung from machines. The cadaver leg was particularly macabre as it was so tanned, slim and athletic looking that I thought to myself "even though I'm an organ donor, there's no way they're going to use my leg in sports medicine studies. My poor old leg will probably end up as dog food."
They also showed the actual video of this girl (pictured left) where she tore hers and holy cow, she came down on her left leg, knee pointed in and bam it turned to jelly. OW! I rubbed my knees in sympathy and thanked my past mentors that I wasn't a doctor.

It was fascinating stuff though. For example, did you know that ACLs occur far more readily in girls than boys? And that ACLs occur most readily at and shortly after puberty? They showed videos of young teenagers jumping off things and the boys jumped with legs straight, their center of mass (belly button) right over their ankles, and the girls jumped with knees pointed in, like someone doing the funky chicken. And girls had a leg preference where boys didn't.

What's sad is that 10-15 years after an ACL injury 50% of people get progressive osteoarthritis in their knees. So there are tons of girls out there, as young as 25, with terrible pain. The medical people that were presenting are trying to intervene and stop ACLs in young girls by proper training.

One doctor from Germany was a tad upset with the mindset in America. Apparently a young girl at a University had had four reconstructive ACL surgeries but kept playing varsity soccer and was given a big award at the end of her college career. He was disgusted with the coach, the doctor and her parents. Fair point eh. I did overhear a surgeon tell someone during the break "If it was my daughter, she wouldn't play soccer, basketball or downhill skiing ever again".

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Danny's First Haircut

Danny had his first hair cut today. It took a fire engine seat, a Thomas DVD and a lollipop to subdue him enough that she could cut his hair. Leading up to the event he played in the slide and generated many comments in the waiting area about his static hair ...

Then he was done, got a balloon and came out looking like a handsome young boy...

I have this same picture of Jack after his first hair cut and I can't believe how different they look! Danny looks so much older at 21 months than Jack did at 28 months.

Wordless Weekend: My Favourite Dance

Friday, November 05, 2010

Danny Boy at 21 Months

They say you should never label your kids, as they become in life what they are called. Still, when I see trouble, I call it trouble. My boy Danny has been defiant and headstrong since the day he was born. Long before I had a chance to nurture him, his nature took over. I remember him sat in his car-seat as a baby, screaming to be let out. I remember him in his high-chair at 6 months old, refusing to be fed and only eating if he did it himself. He's a fussy eater that must feed himself, and his tantrums are explosive. Don't ever take a toy from him or remove him from the bath without first preparing yourself for mayhem.

But oh, what a brain my boy has. He's unbelievably intelligent and strides ahead of where he should be in speaking and potty-training and athletic ability. He can dribble a soccer ball like a 10-year old and flick through word books like a pre-schooler. He's so tall and strong that people mistake him for a 3-year old. So two traits that define him right now I would say, are that he's headstrong and intelligent.

Like a typical boy, he loves cars and trains and balls. He loves to climb and eat dirt and play rough-house. He loves to splash like a lunatic in the bath but will dive out head-first if you so much as get a drop of water in his eyes mid-rinse. My favourite play-times with him are when he plays monster and chases me, growling argggh as he runs and when we play soccer together.

Since not all of his bottom teeth are in yet, he has a lisp and when he leans into me and says "kithes" for a kiss my heart turns into a big blob of mush. Much the same as it does when he twiddles my hair between his fingers or reaches up and gently pinches my nose when I change his diaper. He also shows his soft side with his blankie (a Backyardigans soft blanket), which he must have and must sleep with. I never had this with Jack, but Danny has a huge Linus-like attachment to his blanket and we have to wash it when he's asleep.

He's a happy boy and such a character that every day we all swap Danny stories of things he's done or said. Like last night he nearly dropped a toy and he said "close one!" I could watch him all day long I really could. He's that entertaining. But at night when he goes to bed with his blankie I stroke his hair and sing Danny Boy to him and he becomes my baby. Because for all that he looks and acts older, this little cherub is not even two yet and he's our beloved baby boy.

2nd photo by Jodi Miller

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Jack the Lad at 4

I noticed, particularly since my friend Emily has been putting the spotlight on each of her kids, that I don't elaborate too much about my boy's personalities and I should, because this blog is really just a big diary for me to go back and look at postings and reminisce.

And so first, my Jack. Jack the Lad, Jack Sparrow. Pud. Who are you at 4 years old?

You are thoughtful, kind, sweet, relentless, extremely imaginative, cheeky, rambunctious, shy, athletic, funny and loud.

You love to play pretend and spend most of every day either a pirate or a doctor or a policeman. Last night and this morning we spent time speaking to each other through walkie-talkies as you, Fireman Jack, rescued a family from a burning building. You don't care too much for cars and trains (like your brother does) but you will play for hours with the laundry basket. You enjoy crafts and puzzles and any other activity that you can play with someone, because you love people even though it takes a while for you to warm-up. Sometimes keeping you occupied all day exhausts me, but I wouldn't change it. Another passion for you right now is super heroes like Batman and Superman and Spiderman. Villains like The Joker scare you silly, but you love to play at fighting them and saving the world. Your imagination and caring attitude are two traits that really define you.

In four years you have never had a major flailing tantrum (unlike your brother!) or refused to eat certain foods, or been mean to another person. In fact your teachers told me this week how kind you were in the classroom. They called you a sweetheart. Now, you are not a little saint either young man! You can talk the hind leg off a donkey and you fight bedtime every single night. You can be stubborn sometimes, like refusing to wear long pants even in winter (just like dad!) but right now you are a joy to know. I sometimes worry that I don't do enough 'work" with you and that you don't show perhaps as much interest in writing and other academic skills as other kids, but you are four and I'm not going to force you. Plus, you're a boy! So more climbing and less writing!

Right now, I love spending time with you and I love that you like to help me. Just this week you were so excited to help me get your old potty from the basement and clean it for Danny! You call me Moma and I feel such a special bond with you, my Jack. Love is not a big enough word.

Photo by Jodi Miller

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Few Ups & Downs & Take That!

  • My Boss came to see me and brought me a cookie and made me laugh. I have a great boss.
  • Cody (my lovely dog) has a lump. The vet told me last year after a biopsy that it was fat but it's got bigger and it's hard. Back to the vet we go.
  • Jack's teacher pulled me aside and told me how sweet & nurturing he was in class. Bless.
  • WalMart's new phone service "Straight Talk" BLOWS and I have wasted hours of my time and money before I threw in the towel and went back to Verizon Wireless.
  • Danny used the potty today at 21 months old! Genius I tell you.
  • The political happenings of this week make me want to go and live in Canada. Although thinking about it that's far too close to Sarah Palin. Enough said.
  • Craig and Danny have really terrible colds while Jack and I are skipping about with clear nasal passages and no need for tissues. But I have this niggling feeling ..
  • I am watching, like a hawk after a squirrel, for Take That to come to the USA on tour. They formed 20 years ago in England and then they fell out. Just this year they made up. If they announce a USA tour I will pounce, ninja-style on Craig and make him buy us tickets. I am not ashamed to say I loved, and now again love this group. It seems at last that Robbie and Gary have made up, as you can see:

Pet Hate: Automatic Faucets

About a month ago I went into a restroom and then stood in front of the sink trying to activate the automatic faucet (tap) so I could wash my hands. I stood, waving my hands from side-to-side and acting like a demented person until a kind lady next to me leaned over and said "they aren't automatic". And I mumbled, "ahh, yes of course" and turned the faucet on and did the deed. How embarrassing.

Stupid automatic faucets.

When they are actually in the restroom only half of them work and the other half require you to shake your hands like you are trying to fight off a swarm of bees.

And just yesterday morning a lady on the radio was complaining that she put her handbag in the sink next to her while she washed her hands and the faucet filled her handbag with water. So it's not just me that has had issues with these things then. That's good.

I appreciate that in the medical field they might be rather handy. But do we really need them in our public restrooms? Are we too lazy and too stupid to work out how to wash our hands on our own?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Blaming the Baby Fat

Now that Danny is nearly two, starting to speak in short sentences and trying to use the potty, I think it's time for me to stop blaming my extra pounds on BABY WEIGHT wouldn't you say.

So I'm going to try and lose weight because I am two dress sizes larger than I was in the summer of 2008 and I feel like crap. My jeans are tight and I have to huff and puff to tie my shoes. And don't get me started on how difficult it is to get down on my knees and pick up toys on a daily basis. But no more! Today I am pledging to be better. I wish I had the willpower to do what Clippy Mat talks about, but in reality I'm going to attempt these little steps:

1. Use the stairs at work
2. Pack a healthy lunch
3. Walk more
4. Wine only on weekends

That's doable don't you think? I want to go home to England next summer feeling GOOD about myself. I do not want to go home and have all my friends nudging me and asking if I have shares in McDonalds. Watch this space!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Kicking off NaBloPoMo

To finish up Halloween we took the kids yesterday to Pigeon Roost Farm in Hebron, OH. I can't believe we haven't been before but we didn't even know it existed till my friend Michelle posted about it. It's basically a huge farm full of play areas, mazes, slides and very cool toys, like giant hamster wheels! The boys were absolutely exhausted afterwards.

Then last night Craig and I got the boys to bed, got down to the basement and watched "Paranormal Activity" on the big screen telly. It was a spooky film so we jumped a few times and yelled a couple of profanities! If you haven't seen it it's worth a look, though I thought the very end was a bit daft. We are also excited that a new tv series started called "Walking Dead". It's a zombie series and I do like a bit of zombie action if I say so myself.

Tomorrow I'll take down all the Halloween decorations and then we'll look forward to a little bonfire in the garden this Friday for "Bonfire Night". American friends: Guy Fawkes tried to blow up parliament with gunpowder in 1605. He was caught and burned at the stake. Every November 5th we make a bonfire, put a Guy Fawkes effigy on top, burn it, light fireworks and then eat treacle toffee. Marvelous.

And finally, today I start NaBloPoMo where I'll post every day for 3o days in November. This is the fourth year that I've done it. Blimey, where did those four years go? I will be taking advantage of the suggested "wordless weekends" and I'll try my best not to be too boring.