Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Royal Wedding

The wedding yesterday was glorious wasn't it? I celebrated all day long with two parties and a lot of TV watching. My friend from Ireland (who couldn't give a flying F for the Royal family, was absolutely gracious and my friend enough that he brought the cake, pictured left). I still haven't got bored of it and watched some You Tube videos even today. Wasn't it wonderful to spend the day celebrating two people that genuinely loved each other and also to watch all of the pomp & circumstance. Marvelous! And such a great distraction from all the heartache and trouble and depression of real life.

When the telly cameras did that high view of the Abbey showing the four aisles, it gave me goosebumps. I also choked-up a few times. The first time when William and Harry first got to the Abbey and I was sad that Diana couldn't see how handsome and wonderful her boys were, and then during the vows, and then when they sang Jerusalem. Although every time I hear Jerusalem I get homesick since its such a patriotic song for England. I was with some wonderful ex-pat British women throughout the wedding and we were all feeling the same pride and homesickness. It was great to be with my fellow countrymen and we all wore hats!
On the funny side, the spoof Queen's Twitter Account is funny and it was refreshing watching/listening to the American coverage of the wedding. On CBS the anchor announced Mohamed Al Fayed's arrival at the Abbey and I have been confused for a couple of days about why he would be there since he's accused the Royals of killing Dodi and Diana. Turns out it was in fact the King of Tonga! Ha ha ha.

So I am loud and proud about this wedding. I love that these young people love each other. I am in awe of the splendor of the Abbey, the history entwined in the ceremony, the London sights and all the details of the occasion, and I am very proud to be British. And there's more to come! In 2012 Queen Elizabeth will celebrate 60 years on the throne and it's the London Olympics.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy St. Georges Day 2011!

We went to the Easter egg hunt this morning and Danny HATED it! As you can see. Maybe next year he'll embrace it. I did finally work out later this afternoon that the reason he was cranky all day was that he was teething. That was when he was sat on Craig's knee, chewing his t-shirt like a maniac, with it all wet down the front, and Craig pointed to the t-shirt and said "teething". How could I have missed that? So I felt guilty and gave him 3 icey-pops.

Jack got lots of eggs, Danny got 3 and tried to throw them back into the woods (hated it).

My mum sent some money for Easter presents so we went out and bought some fun toys, including snakes and ladders. Tonight we played it and it was great to spend time like that.

I tried to take a picture of the boys wearing their England t-shirt in honour of St. George's Day as they were playing. Happy St. George's Day (and Happy Birthday Tom & Gemma! X) !!

This is my favourite picture of Jack today ...

I had an hour on my own today too, so went to the new Menards in town. It's a DIY & garden center place (like B&Q or Lowes) but has everything - even food, clothes, kids toys and pet stuff. If it is possible, I am in love with a shop. Where else can you buy lumber and scented candles? It's not Harvey Nichols, darling, more like a DIY shop with a feminine touch!

So tomorrow? Hopefully we'll get outside! But it has not stopped raining & storming for a week and it's forecast for the next week. Last Wednesday night we ran to the basement with the kids at 3am when the tornado sirens went off and last night St. Louis airport was obliterated. Next weekend might get better?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Belated Retort

I have calmed down sufficiently now to tell you about a woman who told me off last weekend at the local library. Until yesterday I still got huffy about it and wanted to try and track her down and give her my witty retort. You know, the one that takes you about a week to think of.

So what was my crime? Me & Danny were in the kiddie area and there was one other mum and toddler in there. She was playing with a huge box of foam alphabet letters and they were scattered all over the floor. Danny was chewing reading board books and Jack was in the adjacent room looking at DVDs. I was sat at a table writing out letters and cards to send to England, so I wasn't exactly stood over my kids but I had them in my peripheral, spidey-mum vision.

Then I heard "DO NOT DO THAT!" and I looked up to see Danny stood on a foam letter and the other mum stood near him. She then said "It is NOT okay to stand on these toys!"

I got up and scooped him up and told him quietly not to stand on them and then of course I had hover over him while he tried in vain to stand on them, jump on them and chew them. He is two after all. We left soon after.

Here's the thing. I said nothing to her and it's bothering me. I really wish I had said something to her about it not being her job to discipline my kids. I discipline my kids. I was so hopping mad on the way home that I probably gave Ozzy Osbourne a run for his money on the use of the f-word. Under my breath of course. When I went to the park that afternoon I got it all off my chest with my friend Michelle and that helped a lot but I hope I see her again. I can see it now - she'll be in my local supermarket looking at the humus and this crazy English woman will approach her, swinging a whole-wheat bread stick in her face and giving her a sound telling off. It's a nice little daydream I'm having right now.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Babysitter Conundrum

I read something enlightening recently, written by a woman that was on the verge of divorce. She and her husband had two kids, both had careers, and they had busy and full lives and had got to the point of barely talking to one another - being snippy at best. Tolerating the situation I suppose. Anyway, she instigated counseling and they brought it back together.

Now, me and Craig are one hundred miles from that scenario I hope, BUT we have been married for 15 years and we have two kids and we have no babysitter, so we are clinically depressed having no fun. We do have child-care (Miss Linda) during the day while we work and she's MARVELOUS but we need a babysitter because Craig and I have lost each other a bit. We need to go out and have some fun together and be a couple. In the last five years we have had SIX dates without the kids. I am not kidding. I suppose that's how things are when you have no family to help.

SO - How does one choose a potential serial-killer and child-beater as a babysitter? Because that's what we think they are and that's what we'll be thinking all night long while we are at the movies/restaurant/night club/swingers meet (kidding!). I wish we could trust a local girl. Does anyone we know have a trustworthy local girl or are we doomed to a life of no adult fun for the next 15 years?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nurture Shock

What a week it's been and it's not even Friday! I do realise that I keep harping on about how busy I am (blah blah blah) and I know everybody is busy these days so I'll just shut up. But I REALLY am stretched at the minute, honest. The dust bunnies, infestations of ants and half-painted walls in my house will attest to that very fact. "So get off your arse and go look after those things" you are thinking. But no I will not. Blogging and spending mindless minutes on Facebook helps me relax.

Talking of mindless stuff, Jack's pre-school teacher Mrs M (who does not own a television and reminds me of the fact every week) gave me a 1994 newspaper article to read on the evil that is Power Rangers and then tried to engage me in a "let's try and get him interested in a more docile activity" conversation. The fact that she is so nuts that she had kept this bit of newspaper since 1994 should have been a good reason not to read it but of course I did. Mmmmm. Still not getting it Mrs M.

Here's why the Power rangers (according to said paper) are supposedly bad for kids: they promote violence, they don't actually tell a good story, and kids become obsessed with them. Result = teachers don't know how to manage it.

Here's what I think: It has magnified Jack's imagination and he will spend hours play-acting on his own and with Danny, he never hurts anybody, it's the good guy versus the bad and he wants to be the good - and who hasn't played cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians?, and yes, he's obsessed with them right now but it's cute and funny and he loves it, so really - where is the harm in this?

I met several mums last night at the park that have just read "Nurture Shock" and they urged me to read it so I have booked it at the library and will do just that. According to this book, the Power Rangers are the good ones. Phew. Maybe I'm not a hideous parent. Oh, but then apparently Spongebob is bad for kids. All that sarcasm and rudeness (and fun - lets be honest here). Maybe Craig and I can still watch him when the boys are in bed? Kidding of course. Anyway, I have been reading reviews about it and can't wait to read this book.

My boys will hopefully love books as much as me and they will be well-rounded, outdoor boys that do not act like couch-potatoes. But the telly STAYS.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Latchkey Rant then Gardening!

Another week flown by! Now that I'm teaching 4 days/week and trying to get DIY projects and gardening done, the weeks just don't have enough days in them.

I did manage to finish my book "Romancing Miss Bronte" by Juliet Gael and really enjoyed it, but then I'm a big Bronte fan. I've now moved on to The Brave by Nicholas Evans, who wrote The Horse Whisperer and I'm already stuck into it. He has a great way of making you fall in love with the characters immediately. Jack's doing a fairly good job of recognizing letters now and he reads to us at bedtime (from memory, not from reading the words, but still..)

Jack started soccer games again this week and he has music class on Fridays nights. I have resisted all attempts to sign him up for t-ball, football or any other kind of organized thing, firstly because I don't want him to be over-scheduled as so many kids are, and second because I'd rather watch paint dry than watch t-ball! Terrible aren't I.

Warning! Rant coming: In early May we have to take Jack to be assessed by the "English as a Second Language" department at the local school district before I can enroll him in school. Regardless of the fact that he's American with English parents that's the rule. Ironically, the lady who rang to make the appointment could hardly string a sentence together. Just one more hoop to jump through in the circus that is enrolling your kids for school and latchkey. Latchkey is an after-school program for working parents so that the kids can stay afterwards until 6pm (5pm in our case). The school where Jack is going does not have a latchkey program so I want to sign him up for latchkey (3-5pm) at a local school that does. Because this local school is less than 2 miles away from his school, they won't take him on the bus. They want to bus him miles away to another school in a rough part of town. Nice. They also will not let me register him to enroll full-time at the latchkey school because he is not in that district (by just one block). The secretaries at both schools say that they do bus between them and not to worry, but the official Latchkey department is telling me that they won't. I'm so confused and frustrated by the whole thing. May 9th is the day I have to sign up for latchkey but I can't do any of that until after they make sure he can speak English. Grrrrr...

And on to more lighthearted things.

We watched a fabulous film last night. Very entertaining & highly recommended (even by Craig who generally likes blood and guts) ...

And it's going to be EIGHTY degrees today so I am now going to get my morning coffee and get outside again. I'm itching to get my garden straight and get the lawn mowed for the first time this year. I love spring!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Quickest Weekend in the History of Weekends!

It's hard to believe the weekend's over it's gone so quick! Music class, soccer game, play gym, library, and visits to local parks. It's no wonder I haven't got anything done in the house. But I did manage to ring my mum and wish her a Happy Mothers Day and I also got to tackle a bit of the smelly laundry mountain in my basement. I meant to ring and Skype at least 3 other people but it just flew by (sorry)! I also wanted to swing by my friend Eric's house to meet his new cat, Miss Butterfinger. What a fabulous name for a cat! Can't wait to see her & take her a bit of catnip.

Kevin, the blue Power Ranger, flexes his muscles in the back garden. And here's some pictures of our park visit this afternoon ...

Another great thing we did this weekend - We booked our summer holiday! A week in Michigan at a lovely campsite in the countryside. We are staying in a big cabin with a deck that looks out onto the river. I can't wait. We can canoe the local Pere Marquette river and go fishing (for salmon and trout!) and swimming. We can go for a homemade ice cream in the local historic town and most importantly we can take Cody. I had a nightmare finding a cabin that would allow us to take him and I got so frustrated at campsites listing themselves as pet friendly when they weren't, but there was no way I was leaving old yeller behind. I can't wait anyway. I really needed to get something booked so that I had something to look forward to and plan for.

One sad bit of news this weekend is that our elderly neighbour that has dementia got his car taken off him. Well, actually it's good news for us (and the rest of Ohio) but not good for him. The police came yesterday and towed it away. He got his license revoked about a month ago but the stubborn old bugger was still driving. Anyway, he must have hit something as his wing mirror is missing but he can't recall what he did. His daughter finally ratted him out and called the police and by sheer coincidence, as they came by he was pulling into his drive. Of course we were all hovering about like nosey neighbours while the tow truck took away his last little bit of independence. I feel really bad for him. He served in WW2 and was stationed at Burtonwood in Warrington, England. He was devoted to his wife, who he lost about 5 years ago, and now his mind is going. He's unbelievably active and healthy but was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about two years ago. The next step is to move in with his daughter (and reviled son-in-law), or maybe even assisted housing, which will crush him. When I had Danny, he came over for a visit and he brought his shoe box of WW2 photos to share with me over a cup of morning coffee. It was a lovely visit and he was so vibrant and lucid that it's hard to see him fall apart like this in such a short period of time.

What else? - well me and Jack picked up colds again this weekend. Barnacles! as Jack would say. My nose has been running so much that I have flame-red sore nostrils. Lovely. Poor Jack's throat is so raw that he sounds like a 50-year old soul singer. Danny and Craig are so far in the clear.

One last thing - I'm reading "Romancing Miss Bronte" by Juliet Gael and I'm loving it. Since I was a teenager I've had a fascination with The Brontes and Haworth (probably inherited from my sister who's obsessed with it all). It's a great read about Charlotte's family, the books and her romances. It's also a bit sad and so typical of anything you read from Britain's working class in the 1800s, where it seemed like everybody died of consumption by the time they were 30 but kept the stiff upper lip and carried on with no fuss. Makes me feel a bit ashamed for posting that I have a sniffle.