Saturday, December 31, 2011

So Long 11, Hello 12!

Goodbye Twenty Eleven! I will remember my boys swimming like guppies in the lake in Michigan and momentous occasions like Jack starting Kindergarten and Danny starting Pre-K. Craig got a new, much better job and we had a fun summer with lots of swimming and hiking. Jack did ok at soccer but the year's sporting accomplishments were definitely involved with swimming. That appears to be all that happened to us. Nothing too exciting at all!

I do hope 2012 brings a bit more pizzaz. Here's my goals (wishes) for 2012:

* To lose weight again. I am fully aware that this will require a change of lifestyle but who knows, maybe I'll get to that this year!

* To be a diaper and sippy-cup free house. After five years and a couple of grand worth of diapers I cannot wait to be done with them.

* To refinance the house, pay off my car, roll in my English pension with my American one and officially start college plans for the boys.

* To go home to England (this will require new passports for us all too)

* To get my mojo back at work. Since having the boys the passion for my career has not burned as bright as it used to. I want to go to work dressed to impress, with new ideas and the energy to see them through

* To help both boys succeed at school, even if it means sitting with them each day to do academic work (not an enticing idea I admit)

* To find a babysitter and have adult time with my husband. I have said this every year for five years and not done it. I will this year!

* To redecorate the boy's room and get a breakfast bar in the kitchen. And build a kitchen pantry. And make a new front path and step. House & garden projects never end do they

* To have fun with our English visitors (Craig's mum, dad and nephew) and make sure they have fun

* Maybe this will be the year we seek US citizenship. Maybe

That's not such an over-wheming list is it. More than anything I hope that 2012 keeps me and Craig in jobs and that we all stay healthy. Everything else is just the icing on the cake.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all have a great time this weekend and that 2012 is a good one for you too.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ta-tas & a bit of Ornithology

Craig went back to work today which was a bit sad. Not just because it felt like the end of Christmas but because I knew I had the boys on my own - arghhhhh! Only kidding. It wasn't too bad and I only needed two hours on my own tonight in Target to recuperate once Craig got home. I didn't see any breast-feeding mommies in Target - not sure if they did the sit-in thing in my local shop or not. I was glad to see them taking a stand, especially since the woman was originally sat in a quiet part of the store with a blanket. She wasn't exactly standing at the checkout shaking her ta-tas. Shame on the people that harassed her.

Anyway, me and the boys had a good day. I got to do a smidgen of housework and then later they got to have fun at a local play place/cafe. At the cafe I got to chat with a local mum that's thinking of sending her kids to our Jack's school so I tried to do the big sell. I love Jack's school I really do.

Tomorrow I'm going to run a few errands with the boys but I think I have a cunning plan to stop them from being a nightmare while I'm shopping. I'm not going to say what it is though as it might back-fire horribly in my face.

As a bit of a side-bar, I saw 3 lovely birds in my garden this morning. I'm used to seeing the Cardinals and Chickadees but it took me a while to identify the Titmouse. I believe they travel with the Chickadees so that makes me fairly certain. I did not take these pictures by the way (thank you Google images).

The Cardinal (State bird of Ohio)

The Titmouse

The Chickadee

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Now I know why I gave up wine. After drinking far too much last night and then having to get up and be Mary Poppins this morning while at the same time cleaning my kitchen which looks like a gang of monkeys came for dinner, I have vowed once again never to let the evil grape liquid from hell pass my lips. It was a great day though. We had a friend's daughter and her boyfriend over for a Boxing Day lunch, then we had friends over for a bit of a "do" last night. Two are still asleep in the spare room and probably thanking the lord they don't have kids.

We all consumed far too much
Chocolate liqueurs
Chicken & cheese dip and
English chocolate

and not enough
Water and

But then a great party doesn't generally involve the latter does it.

Today I have two more parties to go to but I'll be driving so I'll be good. My poor body needs 6 gallons of water and an early night. And when I'm feeling more beauty and less beast I'll post the chicken dip recipe because it was awesome!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Lights 2011

In what is becoming a bit of a tradition, I've made a little movie about our Christmas this year. It's set to the same song as the 2010 Movie but hopefully you won't mind.
We have had a great day and spent some wonderful time on the phone or Skype with family in England. The boys have had the times of their lives and are both crashed-out in bed.
Happy Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Song & a Blooper!

We asked the boys to sing a Christmas message to you all (the idea snaffled from my friend Heather). They did a great job but the first attempt was a total blooper as you can see. I have no idea where Danny got that from!

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Today I actually feel like I'm READY! Yea! Everything is done, even my neighbour's awesome tree (photo later).

As Craig and I gazed at all the wrapped presents hidden in the back of his car in the garage last night I finally felt relaxed. I also thought that maybe buying your kid the Lego Star Wars Death Star ($400) doesn't sound so bad now that I see all the booty we bought the kids. Craig, in his infinite wisdom, said "Let's not worry about the money. This is a magical time. When they are older we won't buy them as much." Mmmm, not sure I believe that.

Jack, as I have said before, asked for a bow with five arrows in a quiver. I'm really proud of the quiver I semi-made (with a little help from the local outdoor shop). It even has his name on it. It did require the complete destruction of a handbag that I loved but my sacrifice will be worth it in the morning when he sees it.

I got all my housework done yesterday so that today I can just enjoy spending time with the boys. I don't get to do that very often as all my "leisure" time is typically spent trying to make my house look clean and catching up on ten loads of laundry. And Danny needs a bit of TLC. Last night he got whacked in the face with a ping-pong bat courtesy of older brother, then he fell off my bed (the story "Five Little Monkeys" could have been written especially for Daniel) and then he accidentally head-butted me when I put him to bed. Maybe I should have bought a helmet for him instead of his Spongebob & Patrick racetrack.

Merry Christmas everybody! I hope you have a wonderful time with family and friends and that you feel loved and happy this season. x

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Crazy Mums and Elves

I read this blog post today and just had to share it. Those of you with an "Elf on the Shelf" and even those of us without one will get a kick out of this. I wish I could be as brutally honest on here as this mum!

From the blog "Poeple I want to punch in the throat" comes Overachieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies

Monday, December 19, 2011

Making the Most of the Magic

Tonight we loaded the boys up in the minivan and took them to an outdoor light show at a local state park. As a treat we let them hang out in the back of the van with their duvets and pillows, rather than strapped in their seats. Half-way around the park I had a panic attack that Danny would somehow get the back door unhooked and go rolling out, but of course he didn't!

The boys loved it and found the whole thing magical, especially when we put the Santa CD on with a personal message. Danny's just a bit bewildered with it all but Jack totally believes it all and gasps in shock when Santa talks to him. I feel like this might be Jack's most magical time for Christmas so I'm trying to make it as good as I can for him.

When we got back the four of us slouched on the couch with all the lights off except for the tree and we watched The Grinch again. Danny loves the Grinch and even sings the song. At bedtime Jack said "5 days till Christmas now Mama?" and looked like the wait might just kill him.

I, on the other hand, am having a great time with all this. Can you tell?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas

Inspired by The Potty Diaries , Hot Cross Mum, and Expat Mum, I have decided to join in and write my own 12 Days of Christmas song, based on my life this holiday season. So here's how things are in my house!

On the first day of Christmas my family gave to me: a cat poo under the tree

On the second day of Christmas my family gave to me: 2 boys wrestling and a cat poo under the tree

On the third day of Christmas my family gave to me: 3 dead fish, 2 boys wrestling, and a cat poo under the tree

On the fourth day of Christmas my family gave to me: 4 males farting, 3 dead fish, 2 boys wrestling, and a cat poo under the tree

On the fifth day of Christmas my family gave to me: 5 NEEDED BEERS .... 4 males farting, 3 dead fish, 2 boys wrestling, and a cat poo under the tree

On the sixth day of Christmas my family gave to me: 6 demands for candy, 5 NEEDED BEERS .... 4 males farting, 3 dead fish, 2 boys wrestling, and a cat poo under the tree

On the seventh day of Christmas my family gave me to me: 7 dust balls rolling, 6 demands for candy, 5 NEEDED BEERS ...., 4 males farting, 3 dead fish, 2 boys wrestling, and a cat poo under the tree

On the 8th day of Christmas my family gave me to me: 8 muddy paw prints, 7 dust balls rolling, 6 demands for candy, 5 NEEDED BEERS ...., 4 males farting, 3 dead fish, 2 boys wrestling, and a cat poo under the tree

On the 9th day of Christmas my family gave to me: 9 toys to pick up, 8 muddy paw prints, 7 dust balls rolling , 6 demands for candy, 5 NEEDED BEERS ...., 4 males farting, 3 dead fish, 2 boys wrestling, and a cat poo under the tree

On the 10th day of Christmas, my family gave to me: 10 loads of laundry, 9 toys to pick up, 8 muddy paw prints, 7 dust balls rolling, 6 demands for candy, 5 NEEDED BEERS ...., 4 males farting, 3 dead fish, 2 boys wrestling, and a cat poo under the tree

On the 11th day of Christmas my family gave to me: 11 chocolate handprints, 10 loads of laundry, 9 toys to pick up, 8 muddy paw prints, 7 dust balls rolling, 6 demands for candy, 5 NEEDED BEERS ...., 4 males farting, 3 dead fish, 2 boys wrestling, and a cat poo under the tree

On the 12th day of Christmas my family gave to me: 12 lovely kisses, 11 chocolate handprints, 10 loads of laundry, 9 toys to pick up, 8 muddy paw prints, 7 dust balls rolling, 6 demands for candy, 5 NEEDED BEERS ...., 4 males farting, 3 dead fish, 2 boys wrestling, and a cat poo under the treeeeeee!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Festive Few Days

It's been a very festive few days. First I had Danny's Christmas concert at school and he did great. I prepared him as best as I could and his teacher was ready to be with him. He didn't really sing but by the end of it he was clapping and as you can see he was very excited.
On Thursday night & yesterday I volunteered with the PTA at Jack's holiday shop at school. The kids all came into the gym and bought gifts for their families (the PTA had been out and bought loads of gifts to stock the shop). It was wonderful and really got me in the Christmas mood. To see how excited the kids were and to be able to interact with them all was just magical. And knackering! I was totally done-in last night and could have gone to bed at 7pm.

But we dragged the kids out to Columbus Commons instead for the holiday fair. It was okay but I probably wouldn't go again because it was far too cold to enjoy it. Jack had a good time though and ran into a couple of his school friends down there.

He really liked feeding the goats in the petting zoo..

Today I spent 5 hours cleaning my house and trying to catch up on laundry, all the while telling the boys to clear off and get from under my feet. I wish I had a cleaner woman just once a month to come and help me because I can't cope, but it seems like something a posh lady would have and not a working class woman from Liverpool. That would be like a "fur coat and no knickers" as my mum would say.

This afternoon some friends came over to bake & decorate Christmas cookies and that was good fun. We hadn't seen them for a few months so it was great to catch-up and talk about school and kid stuff. Makes me feel like I'm in good company and perhaps not as crazy as I feel sometimes.

Tomorrow I have a kids birthday and at some point I need to go shopping for the kids presents because it's back to work on Monday. Last Wednesday when I knew I had two vacation days and a weekend ahead of me I thought I'd get so much more done.
Where does the leisure time go?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Album for Christmas

I can't decide if I want Craig to buy me the new Amy Winehouse album or this one by Peter?

Me Figuring out Daniel

When I put Danny to bed tonight I read The Hungry Caterpillar to him which is one of his favourites. At the point where it turns into a cocoon I asked him what it was and he said "A Raccoon!" Bless. His teachers said he did "mmmm-ok" and did that little tilt of the hand from side-to-side when I picked him up today and asked how his morning had been. It's the big Christmas concert on Thursday but Mrs N assured me that in rehearsal today he did great as long as he could sit on her knee so that's where he'll be during the concert. Good. Phew. Glad he has his spot picked out and I don't have to worry about him running & screaming bloody murder from the church. Today Linda told me that during his nap-time he asked her to lie next to him for a cuddle and a chat. That's what I do most nights at bedtime so I'm glad he's interacting a bit more. Although I saw his class photo today for the first time and all the kids are either sat on the bench or in front of it, except my boy that's stood by the side, next to Mrs N.

It's taken me a long time (nearly 3 years!) to decipher his personality and to try and help him, rather than fight him. Yes, he's like a bull he's so headstrong and yes, he's very physical so I'm trying to get Jack to stick up for himself (now those are bizarre conversations) but being headstrong and physical do not pose too many challenges for him - in fact those things will carry him in life I think. His issues are his reluctance to accept change, his fear of new things and the fact that he genuinely likes playing by himself and doesn't want some kid coming up and being friendly and taking his toys, though he does have a couple of friends. All the fights in my house are about Jack trying to play with him or taking away a toy. I feel so bad for Jack sometimes because he wants to play and Danny will tell him to bugger off (sometimes Danny will follow him and acts adoringly). Danny is just really independent and not looking to other people for entertainment. I'm not too concerned about all this right at the minute - especially now that I'm figuring it out and not taking it personally (I did for a long time). He's polite and has good manners around adults and has never been mean to another kid. He's just Daniel - his own person and not willing to change and he's not barging in, telling everyone "it's his way or the highway". He's not cheeky to people or a smart mouth. He's quietly getting on with things off to the side and enjoying himself. But if you bother him, then he'll bring it on. I'm amazed by his personality and actually in awe of him. He'd rather go to bed starving than eat his dinner and he'd rather stay in time-out for an hour than say sorry for something he thinks is unfair. I'm too old and knackered for such endurance. I'd say sorry just to get my warm milk and a soft blanket and bed. But that's the difference between being 42 and nearly 3 I suppose.

I really do feel like I'm the one learning here. He knows exactly who he is and is willing to fight for it. I need to teach him how to be in life without fighting with him constantly and driving us both nuts. There's a common saying among parents that if they'd have had their second child first they'd never have another. I disagree 100%. I look at Daniel and my heart just bursts with pride at how independent he is. He's going to be amazing I think.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Never too Old to Learn

Lessons I have learned today:

1. If your nearly three-year old is stood in front of you wearing boxing gloves, don't put a cardboard tube to your eye and say 'I can see you!". OUCH! Black eye.

2. Letting your five-year old see his presents from England and putting them under the tree for another excruciating 13 days is tantamount to child torture

3. Not taking medicine all day so that the cold runs it's course is STUPID. When will I learn that I don't have to suffer and muddle along?

4. Danny will eat hot dogs! Anytime I find something to add to the minuscule list of things he'll eat it feels like I scored a major goal!

That's quite a bit of learning wouldn't you agree. Now time to take lots of medicine and get to bed...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Santa Visit 2011

I love all the hoopla of Christmas. Right after Craig's birthday we buy the tree and start to do some of our traditional things. I've also had Christmas music on the radio in my car and the kitchen but I think it's driving Craig a bit nuts as he keeps switching it back to NPR. Personally I think I get to work in a much better mood after listening to Jingle Bells than I do after listening to an in-depth discussion on the state of the economy. I've also realised that I enjoy the build up the the 25th just as much as the event itself, so I'm doing my best not to get too stressed out about mailing presents and other tasks.

We've already watched Frosty and Elf & Polar Express and this past week Craig took Jack to see the new Muppets film and they both came home singing "manamana doo doo de doo doo". It felt odd to hear Jack singing a song that I used to sing as a kid!

My neighbour has started to put the lights on his mammoth tree. I cringe watching him teetering at the top of a big ladder with a long pole, trying to get the lights up there. I'm sure all the neighbours breathed a collective sigh of relief when this thing showed up to help ...

Today we took the boys to see Santa at our usual place. It was really busy and we had to queue for an hour and I had to remove Danny and take him around the corner for a time-out at one point. He kept pulling his woolly hat down over his eyes and banging into people among other things. In his defense, having to queue for an hour surrounded by breakable ornaments is not the best scenario for a two-year-old.

They had a guy there doing ice sculptures and they give out free food and carriage rides.

Jack had written his letter to Santa and took it with him to personally hand it to the big guy.

Jack was mesmerised by him and loved every minute. We prepared Danny as much as possible as he hates new situations and I think that really helped. He still didn't want to sit near him but he did chat with him a bit and said 'Thank you Santa!" as were were leaving. That's the key I think - to prepare him ahead of time. No surprises for Daniel!

So it's back to normal tomorrow for a few days, although I am still ill and Craig has man flu. Starting Wednesday we'll have school concerts and parties and all kinds of thing leading up to the big day. Tis the season to be jolly!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Fast Cars & Candy

I've been listening to Christmas music now for about a week, mainly in the kitchen and the car, and we've got the tree up and the decorations. We still have outside lights and presents to conquer though. Both of those things are weighing on me. Still, let's bring on the music and all that comes with the season! I love it all I really do.
The boys are beside themselves with anticipation and asking Santa (us) for :
"A bow and 5 arrows and a quiver" like one of his heroes in the film Narnia (Jack)
"Fast cars and candy canes", like a young Hugh Hefner! (Danny)

Jack asked me yesterday if the Grinch was real (he loves him but is scared too) and I said No!
Then he asked me earnestly if Santa was real and I said Yes! Absolutely YES! (Let this little dream last as long as it can please). My first lie. It felt good and I'm sure there's plenty more on the horizon.

Last night I got home very late so didn't see the boys until this morning when Jack came running into my bedroom, asking where I had been. When I told him that I had been at a posh banquet he whispered "oh! Did you look beautiful mama?" and my heart imploded and I died right there on my bedroom carpet. Please don't grow up any more Jack.

Our first Christmas concert will be at Danny's school next week and I am on hooks. If he refuses to tidy up toys and goes bonkers about putting his coat on what on earth will he do when asked to perform in the church? Lordy Lordy. It's a mixture of dread, anticipation and excitement.
I keep thinking of a line Mountainear (fabulous blogger, mother of boys, including one called Daniel) said when my Daniel was born. She mentioned a religious topic called "Dare to be Daniel" and while I'm not into organized religion at all I do think that line describes his persona pretty well.

This is one of my favourite Christmas songs (But ohhh, I have many):

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Happy Birthday Craig!

Happy Birthday to my husband - the skydiver, scuber-diver, hunter, canoeer, fisherman, hiker, son, brother, uncle and dad!

Craig's favourite song: I wish you were here, by Pink Floyd

3 Month Catch-up

I can't believe I haven't posted for over 2 months! So much to say.