Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Good Birthday!

It's been a great birthday. 42 today! I got over 80 Facebook messages and then some emails and phone calls, which I am so chuffed about. That's the magic of social networking I suppose. That most of my facebook messages were from ex-students of long ago makes it even better. Seeing them all grown up now with kids and proper jobs warms my ginnels.

So what else was good about today? Well it SNOWED and it was pretty but it didn't stick to the road ..

I got to see Jack go to soccer practice tonight and meet his new coach and new friends. Then he hung round after practice and played basketball with a new friend and I just sat and watched in awe at his athleticism. He must get that from Craig (along with the smelly feet and the refusal to wear long pants all year). I'm just happy he's running about and might be so tired that he goes to bed without the usual battle. A worn out kid is a good thing!

What else today? WELL . . .

I weight in at Weight Watchers tomorrow and hopefully will get my 10 lb ribbon (yea!)

My boss and colleagues from work called my home phone number and left a message singing a funny birthday song. I'm lucky to have such fab work friends.

My hubby bought me my favourite expensive perfume and tickets to see Ray LaMontagne and cooked me dinner!

Jack made a card for me that said "To Mom, Happy Birthday, I love you, Kevin XXX" - priceless!

Danny and I played tonight and he was so happy he got hold of my face, squeezed it as hard as he could and kissed me. And there's no better thing on the planet, even if he did leave bruises.

I got to meet some new mums and dads at soccer, some nice (Godwin), some distantly and cooly friendly (Lidia), some nutters (forgot her name - nancy? I had instantly gone into "must get away now mode" when she cornered me) and one guy who took it SERIOUSLY. When our Jack gave a ball back to another kid, he said to me "oh, he's so nice!" in surprise and I said flatly "Yes. He is" in response. Did he think, because Jack was wearing an England shirt, that he wouldn't be nice? How rude. No manners.

And so I'm sat with Craig and Cody now watching "Alaska State Troopers". The kids are in bed asleep and I'm having a cheeky one before bed. Finally, I get to sepnd time with my hubby. A good day though wouldn't you say.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

3 Pix from the Weekend

We took a road trip to Ikea today to get Danny a new bed. I found one on clearance a while ago that was cute but on clearance for a reason! Every time I sat or lent on it it collapsed, which gave me a complex about my weight and finally ended up with Linda having to put bits in the wardrobe till we got home from work and mended it. Anyway, we bought him one just like Jack's. The Backyardigans blanket must also stay though, or all hell will break loose. He is like Linus with that thing.

This picture was taken down the ravine near my house. These blue flowers are everywhere and it's gorgeous. They aren't bluebells. Scilla maybe? Anyway, they are intermingled with daffodils and snow drops to make a carpet of the most beautiful spring flowers. We drive down there as much as we can and Jack will exclaim "My flowers!" since his favourite color is blue.

Jack has started pulling funny faces and does it the more I laugh. I must stop encouraging this, but it is funny. And look at these strawberries! Did you ever see such big ones! They are called California Giants.

Friday night I took Jack to a music and movement class that he'll take for a few weeks and after about 15 minutes I prised him off my leg and he enjoyed himself. Tomorrow I'm taking him to a play which might be a bit mature for him but I'm hoping all the adult stuff will go over his head. I shall report back here if it doesn't!

Friday, March 25, 2011

This Summer's Challenge: Confidence Building

I was chatting with a teacher at Jack's pre-school (pre-k) and I said I was nervous about him starting kindergarten this fall and she said nonchalantly "I know, that can sometimes be a problem because Jack is such a sweet boy and not all boys at his school will be". And it was like an ice cold hand grabbed my heart. I hadn't even thought about bullies at the new place! But she's right. Jack is sweet natured and he's sensitive. And even in pre-k some of those kids are hideous creatures. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but they are. With some of the kids at the park and even on some of the play-dates we've had, the kids have been downright mean, especially to Danny. I see them, sidling up to him to poke, or push or just plain maul him. I suppose it's nature - the need to exert power on the weakest in the group, like Lord of the Flies.

A few days ago a kid at the park called Jack a wiener. For starters Jack didn't know what a wiener was, but he did know it was a said in a mean way. My initial response was "I hope you told the little thug to bugger off". Not helpful I know, damn my quick tongue. Then I calmed down and I asked him why he didn't stick up for himself and he said "I don't know what that means". So my new challenge is to get Jack to understand the concept of "sticking up for himself". If he has an issue at school, or the park, or even at home with Danny I'm trying make him work it out with no, or minimal input from me. I think it's working. This morning when I took him to pre-k I had to take Danny along and one of the kids did the usual shuffle over (hoping no adult was watching) and started pestering Danny - puling his hood and grabbing him around the neck. Then Jack said rather loudly to the kid "don't do that to Danny!" and the kid stopped and I inwardly cheered. Yea! Big brother came to the rescue and stuck up for his family!

It's going to be hard for me, not to stand over him and protect him for all that is going to happen at school. I hope I can help him build his confidence before he starts there.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Warm Weekend & Hillsborough Book

It's been a fabulous weekend. The temperatures were in the 50-60's and it was calm and sunny. We had all kinds of DIY planned but basically did nothing but play outside with the boys and they have had a great time.

I did get to finish my book though - (not the George Bush one - I was half-way through when the library made me take it back and wouldn't let me renew as there was a waiting list for it). No, I just finished "When you walk through a storm" by Anne Williams & Sean Smith. Anne is from Formby (just a few miles from my hometown) and her 15-year old son Kevin died at the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. She's been fighting ever since for the right information about his death. It's interesting that just this month, an independent panel have said they'll revisit all of the documents about the disaster and report back in 2012.

For those of you that don't know about it, 96 Liverpool soccer fans died in Hillsborough Stadium when police opened the wrong gates and directed scores of fans down a tunnel into the stands. In those days, the stands were standing room only and fenced in, like pens, to prevent fans from fighting. At Hillsborough, so many people were crammed into the pens that many got crushed and killed. In the enquiry that followed, the police were blamed for causing the accident but the coroner stated that all deaths took place before 3.15 pm. This meant that there was no enquiry as to what happened after 3.15pm. As Anne has since found out, her son lived until 4pm and could have been saved if medical staff were on hand but they weren't. 42 ambulances were sat outside the stadium but were refused entry by the police. Only one ambulance forced it's way through. Her son died in a policewoman's arms and he said the word "mum" before he died. Heartbreaking stuff. The coroner also stated that Kevin died of a crushed chest but she has medical doctors that agree he died from an injured neck (possibly trampled on) that swelled and cut off his oxygen supply. The 3.15pm cut off and the chest injury mean that his death was deemed an accident and there was no accountability of police actions after 3.15pm.

Anyway, the beginning of the book ripped my heart out and made me cry several times but then I got into all of the legalities of it and I enjoyed reading about the cover-up and Anne's fight, frustrating though it is. I am truly amazed at how persistent she is. A mothers love is like no other! Let's hope that she gets some justice in 2012.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Jack's teacher gave him some meal worms today so he could start a worm farm. Thanks for that Mrs M! Lets hope the buggers don't escape and get into all my food in the cupboards. Meal worms, apparently, need bran to eat and burrow in. Not the cereal kind that's easy to find but the stuff you bake with (huh?). Who knew that meal worms were so high-maintenance. It could have been worse though right? Could have been a fish, hamster, rabbit, or dog! After she had given him these worms today, Mrs. M looked deep into Jack's eyes and said "you could be a great scientist Jack" and he replied "No, Mrs M, I'm going to be a Power Ranger", then tonight when we went to a local supermarket Jack told the cashier that his teacher has worms. What a character he is.

Danny's eating habits are driving me crazy. Since he was a baby he's dictated what and how he eats. At 6 months old he flatly refused to let me feed him with a spoon so I haven't since. He feeds himself and must have certain utensils (he'll demand a fork or spoon for each meal). The big thing is that he WILL NOT sit at the table and eat lunch or dinner. It doesn't matter what the food is - he won't even try it. The only thing that results in peace for everyone is to eventually let him down from the table. I have tried all sorts of things and yes, talked to his pediatrician. Those of you that know me know that I'm not the kind of mum to let a 2-year old get the better of me but he'd rather starve than eat at that table and I'm beyond patient. Tonight he ate a packet of peanut M&Ms on the way home from the supermarket just so that I knew he'd eaten something. I know I have to make him eat what we eat or go hungry but I don't have the mettle or the energy to fight this thing right now. This is how stupid it is - I seriously wondered if the M&Ms had nutritional value! What am I doing?????

Thank God it's weekend!! Yea! We've got lots planned in the garden (we got a new grill) and we've got a B-B-Q to go to tomorrow. And right now, I'm really enjoying the kids. They are both so funny and so lovable that it's hard to be anything but cheerful.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring = DIY Projects!

I've been a terrible blogger lately, not posting regularly and not leaving comments on other people's blogs, although I do read them. We have been a tad busy though doing some house DIY projects like the bedroom, as you can see from the picture below - before (left) and after (right). The new bedroom doesn't look as sexy and whore-like as the picture suggests I promise!! We've hung a few pictures in there too and if I say so myself it looks great in real life.

This is my favourite decor in there - I found a decal of the London skyline so it's above my bed. And the curtains are thermal room darkening ones so it's pitch black in there at night! I can forsee lots of stumbling around looking for door knobs and banging toes on discarded shoes.

I also had big aspirations to build a small window seat in the kitchen so that while Craig cooked I could keep him company. But guess what? Martha Stewart saved me the trouble! Here's our Danny modeling my new purchase. Can't you just see me, wine in hand, talking Craig's ear off as he stirs the spaghetti sauce?

Talking of "wine in hand" we are being very good and I have re-joined Weight Watchers a few weeks ago. I've lost a few pounds so far, so wish me luck. The new point system was a bit strange to fathom but now I'm totally into it again and determined to get back in shape. On the new system all fruits and most veggies carry zero points, so that's been great. On the down side, breads and all other carbs carry higher points so those honey fiber English toasted muffins that I loved are now on the naughty list.

What else are we up to?

Well, we are set to send Jack (aka Kevin) to elementary school this September. We weighed up all of the opinions on whether to hold him back till 2012 or not and we made our decision based on these key things:
1. He's socially ready - no question about that.
2. We have investigated what an elementary school child should be able to do before entry and we're confident he's academically ready. We are not looking ahead to middle school as some suggest - we will not hold him back based on him being the youngest, purely because he's the youngest. That makes no sense to me.
3. It's a small school and I'm confident he'll get a lot of attention from his teachers
4. He's bored to death of being at home and needs more than pre-school to make him happy.

I totally understand others that hold their kids back since it's a personal choice but I'm confident we've made the right decision.

Next on the DIY list = gardening, now that the weather might finally have perked up. Tomorrow it's going to be in the SIXTIES!!! I hope so because we are all going stir crazy. My daffs are up and the snow drops are in bloom so spring is finally here. And I bought myself a rather spiffy pair of polka-dot wellies so I'm excited to get them on and start digging!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Kevin & Chasing Monsters

Jack is a such a character I can't even start to recount stories! Every day I say I'm going to write it down before I forget and then of course I forget. Here's two, just from today:

His teacher Mrs M has a son who's an astro physicist and the kids had to ask him a question about space this week. Our Jack asked what the moon was made of, since he watches a lot of Wallace and Grommit and he believes it's made of cheese. The teacher in question was a tad shocked at his question and begged me with her eyes to tell him the truth so I suppose there's another cold hard truth for a 4 year old. For me too actually, since the thought of the moon comprising of mature Lancashire makes me want to build a rocket and fly!

Every week the kids have to make a picture for their folder and sign their name on it. Today, instead of signing his picture with his name "Jack", he wrote "Kevin" - he spelt it right too. The teachers gathered all the pictures and were sorting them into folders and knew they didn't have a Kevin in the class. Who was Kevin? Then they realised it must be Jack! They asked me about it when I picked him up and I explained that he isn't Jack anymore, but in fact the Blue Samurai Power Ranger called Kevin. Mrs M then replied that they LOVE him being in their class. They said his sense of humor and imagination was a fantastic thing to see every day. I agree.

And finally, not to leave out my Danny boy. He's doing great at potty training, thanks to Linda and not me. And he's talking up a storm but goodness me Daniel - I have three sincere wishes for you my love:
1. EAT

Danny, you are a warm and beautiful boy. And you are funny and VERY courageous. In fact, this week, you have been the group leader in searching for monsters in our house. I love how you tell me "Don't worry moma!"

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Nonsense (I'm on Cold Medicine)

I was supposed to fly to Savannah, Georgia tomorrow but I'm sick and the boys are sick and Craig's on the verge. Will this winter never end??? It keeps teasing us with 45 degree weather and then slapping us in the chops with ice, snow and bitter wind. I'm fed-up about Savannah having never been there and I'm missing an important meeting. But we're all sick so no point in blithering on about it eh. So keeping in mind I'm loaded up to my eyeballs on cold medicine, here's my thoughts this evening...

Before bed, we're watching the original "Terminator" film (1984) and the actors are talking about 2027 like it's the space age, which makes me laugh. Our Jack will be a senior in college in 2027! How times flies and how weird Sarah Connor's hairstyle was! It's hard to believe me and Craig have lived in America now for twelve years but my personal reasoning is that if I lived in England longer than the USA (30 years versus 12), then I'm still English. I met an Englishman recently that told me in a derogatory way that I now spoke American - I asked him if that meant Ohio, Louisiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Boston or what? Since accents here are as rich and diverse as they are in England. At the end of the conversation he asked me if I'd help him get a visa to move here which is sad really. It's not fun to see a fellow Brit go from stereotypically arrogant to desperate in one foul swoop.

We tried to buy tickets to the Adele concert in Nashville today but they were sold out. I'm hoping we can at least get tickets for Ray LeMontagne and The Pariah Dogs when he come to Columbus because we haven't been to a gig in years and Ray is our favourite. I know I've linked videos of his here before don't we all love a great tune?