Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Hero & Some Cowboys

I just finished a historical fiction book that I couldn't put down, about a man from California, Louis Zamperini. When I was finishing the book I found myself in the same location (South Beach airport) as the hero of the book did at the end, and I talked with someone at that same airport who lived in the same town (Torrence) as him. It seems trivial, but to me it's an amazing coincidence. The book is called "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand and I have no doubt it will be made into a film in a couple of years, since the author also wrote "Seabiscuit" which was a big hit. I LOVED this book, especially since it is historical. True life is much more interesting to me than fiction.

Louis Zamperini was the nightmare kid (I picked this book because his early biography reminded me of Daniel) . He was troublesome, headstrong, always looking to make something happen and looking to escape and steal and just cause mayhem. His town thought he'd end up in prison and the local police were always on him. Then he stared running, and he went on to be an Olympic runner in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. He could, by all accounts, have broken the 4 minute mile had his life not been taken over.

His life was taken over by World War 2 which saw him endure so much that I cannot believe he is still alive. He was a bombardier on a B-24 plane that crashed into the Pacific, he floated for weeks in shark-infested water with no food or water and he endured 2.5 years as a POW in Japan. For those of you like me that know what happened to POWS in Japan you know what to expect in this book.

I have never, ever known of a man so courageous and so wonderful as Louis Zamperini. I'm glad he's still among us. As I said, I LOVED this book and couldn't put it down. I think about him a lot these days.

So, onto lighter things. My boys are cowboys at the minute. Capturing rustlers and rounding up the bad guys with a yee-haw! It would appear that Daniel has the same fantastic imagination as Jack at this point. I love to see them like this.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Family Update

I love this boy to death but good grief can he injure himself. In this picture he is sporting gravel rash from the park & a purple egg on the forehead from running into a wall AGAIN. sigh.

Happy Fathers Day Craig! What a great dad you are. You never lose your temper until you have to and then you say something loud & firmly and they listen. You take them to the park & fishing and swimming and I'm sure that soon canoeing will get added. All day long they've been grabbing your legs or just saying "Happy Fathers Day!" to you. It makes me well-up every time. You are a fabulous dad that knows that you don't have to be a bully to raise a son.

Our first drive-in movie of the year! Kung Foo Panda 2. I can't say enough about drive-in movies and I wish England had them. You can take food & drink, let your kids play and watch a film under a star lit sky. We all love it.

Two weeks from today is Jack's 5th birthday. He drew this birthday picture so I made it into an invite. He's FIVE already. And he had his top off tonight and I looked at his physique and thought No! he's nearly a young man! I wanted to cry. Slow down planet earth, slow down. Please.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Frank & Lug Holes

It's been a year since our beloved pussy cat, Frank, died. Good grief that went quick. I have had many intentions of renovating his grave site and seeding grass and tidying it up but I've been avoiding it because when I pass it, mostly each day, and say "Hey Frank!, I still get a lump in the old throat. I do miss him.

But good news today! After 3 failed hearing tests we finally saw a specialist today (I don't know what that makes the previous people) and Jack has got 100% perfect hearing and no need for tubes in his ears! I am beyond happy because tubes would have meant a trip back to Children's Hospital and him going under anaesthetic and having an IV tube in his hand. He is terrified of tubes ever since the last time when student nurses spent about 30 minutes stabbing him looking for a vein. Can't say I blame the lad.

So a poignant time but a happy day. And the weather is just GLORIOUS! Mid 70's and sunny all week. Perfect.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Is it my Holidays Yet?

I have started counting the days until I go on vacation. I log the days in my daily Weight Watcher tracker book, along with all my confessions of too much wine and cheese. Anyway, we are going to go to Lake County Michigan to a 3 bedroom fully equipped cottage that overlooks a lake and the good news is we can take Cody. The boys can swim and canoe and fish and look for crabs and things under rocks for hours on end, like I used to as a kid. There's a petting zoo and horses and, well not much else really which is ok. The nearest town is Baldwin and it looks like the nightly attraction is a homemade ice cream parlor. Bliss!

This is the first vacation in years where I have nothing planned - no sightseeing, no driving, no history, no Americana, nothing. And I can't wait. I am going to be LAZY. So lazy that I might not even do laundry or clean the boys faces of chocolate. I might be a real rebel and keep the nail clippers at home (I do hate long nails on my kids and chop them off at every chance). So I'm just going to enjoy my family and not stress out.

But that's a while off yet so should probably live in the present! Tonight we took the boys to a local splash pad and it really warmed my ginnels to hear Danny shouting "I'm wetting my brother!" He absolutely adores Jack.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


It's finals week so teaching is finally over! It's sad to say goodbye to seniors and Au revoir to all other students for the summer but Good Lord am I glad this quarter is over!
During the final exam tonight I had included a math question that was quite difficult. I watched as the students got their phones out to use the calculator but one student from China didn't and when his team mate asked him if he needed one he said "no, I do it all in my head" and he did - in about 10 seconds! I was blown away. He told me afterwards that they learn great math techniques in elementary school. Wow. In elementary school I was eating chewing gum off the floor and playing British Bulldog.

Cody seems to be on the mend - he had a bacterial infection that made him really sick and cost $260 for the vet to diagnose (grrrr). On the upside he's lost 10 pounds so no longer looks like he waddles when he walks. I wish I could lose 10 lbs. Weight Watchers is not going well this month for some reason.

Lastly, here's a picture of the lads last weekend at a high school senior's graduation party that we went to. Don't they look American? I can't get over how American they look.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Sorry, Been Crap at This Lately

I was talking to a woman at the park yesterday who told me that she sometimes dreads going in to work because she has so little to do that her day drags by. I feel bad for her but also feel a bit jealous. For the last 3 months I have been swamped beyond belief and stressed to the point where in the last couple of weeks I've actually thought I might have a heart attack. But that's usually been a moment when Danny refuses to eat/dress/come to me/stop hitting me in the head. Next week I have to give two final exams, enter all my grades, teach a workshop, submit my $100K grant to the NFL, start 7 research projects and manage 4 people. Argh! After Monday June 13th it gets marginally better. So that's why I haven't blogged in about 3 weeks in case you were wondering. And to all my favourite bloggers listed right, that's why I haven't left comments for a while, sorry. And to my family & friends in England that's why I haven't been good at skyping and ringing on weekends - because those two days have been spent doing housework and trying (badly) to entertain the kids with one eye on the fun of it and one eye on the weeds growing in my flower beds.

Enough of the excuses - how the hell are we and what have we been up to? Well we hosted the bar-b-q of the century! My friend Marcela from Chile got her masters degree so we had a lamb roast on a fire pit in the garden and 40 people came to drink for 10 hours and eat lamb, pork, beef and chicken. It was fabulous! The Chilean cooks (men) did the grilling and serving and the women did the side foods and then sat and drank. We had south American music playing and just had a great laugh. It was the best cook-out I've ever been to.

We were thrilled that Columbus Crew player Sabastian Miranda came to our cook-out! The night before we had watched him playing at the stadium and he graciously had his picture taken with Jack ..

This picture captures Jack's personality - not too interested in the game but wanting to be friendly with people.
This picture captures Danny's personality - very interested in the game & not wanting to be friendly with people.
We have an English lad, Tom, living with us at the moment. He's come to run my research studies this summer and doesn't move into his own place until mid-June. He's a brilliant cricketer (bit of a celebrity in England) and all -round athlete so has been great for the boys. I bet he can't wait to move out though because he's pestered to death. Here he is teaching Jack to play cricket.

Jack's soccer season came to the end and he got his trophy (all kids got one) for "trying his best". I couldn't be more proud. "Trying your best" is the best attribute don't you think.

Jack left Pre-school and will go to Kindergarten this September. I will miss his teachers and some of the kids/mums

And now it's Summer! And I'm going to make sure these boys have the time of their lives.