Thursday, March 29, 2012

Anarchy in my House

In the last two days my youngest boys (child Daniel, 3 and dog Ben, 1) have tested my patience to the uppermost limit.

Firstly of all, Ben lured us into a false sense of security by being a very good doggy indeed so we started to leave him out of his crate when we weren't home. He got us so convinced that we left him alone for two whole hours, during which he:
  • Emptied the trash bin and dragged the contents all over the living room carpet
  • Did the same thing with the recycle bin
  • Chewed the kid's toys
  • Pooped and peed in the living room
  • Ate the entire contents of a HUGE bag of Cody's soft bacon treats
This resulted in a severely bollocked dog and six piles of bright red dog poo that needed picking up the next day. Back in the crate he goes.

Daniel also led me to believe the last two weeks that school was going swimmingly. I have been telling all my friends at the park how he's turned a corner and that loves school now and his teachers are pleased with him. Humph! This morning Mrs J told me he:
  • Refused to leave the gym
  • Refused to come away from the drink fountain
  • Refused to sit on the carpet at story time
  • Then he had such a fit when I picked him up and told him off that he spat on the sidewalk on the way to the car. In front of other parents! The shame!
So he is banned from toys, the park and sweets until he's twenty one at least.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I'm Reading, Watching & Doing

I just read a great book called Cocktail hour under the tree of forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller. It's a non-fiction book about a young woman who was brought up in Africa by her eccentric and fascinating (and sometimes downright cruel) British parents. It was also a wonderful insight into Africa and especially Kenya. Great read. Next on my list is more Roald Dahl. Since I loved Boy and Going solo so much I've got More about the boy and Roald Dahl Treasures coming. At some point I should probably read the boys one of his many children's stories too huh.

At the same time I was reading the Africa book, Craig and I watched the series "A Long Way Down" on Netflix and we absolutely loved it. We watched it out of order since "A Long Way Round" was first but I don't think it matters. That's next on our list. Anyway, A Long Way down was also about Africa so I got into a little Africa mood and started to think that maybe I'd like to do a trip to Kenya sometime. Then I went on the BBC news website and there was two stories about abducted & killed British people in Kenya and I though ahhhh, maybe not. I'm as brave as a field mouse these days.

I have started teaching again and we've ramped up the kids activities to include swimming and soccer and t-ball. And Cub Scouts, which I am very excited about. The kids are also very busy with school stuff this last 10 weeks of school and I'm on the PTA so I'll be spending many an evening making crafts and helping to set things up at the school for their events. But no more. I am maxed-out with stuff till at least June. When Danny's pre-school teacher started asking about a volunteer to do something fairly major today, I squeezed my lips together so tight I looked like the rear-end of a red bummed monkey.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dealing with Obnoxious People

I hate to write a cryptic post but there's something niggling me that I'd like to write about, without naming names.
Twice now I have gone to a meeting where a woman at the meeting that I don't know has made blatant rude comments about a few people I'm connected to and I really like. It's not really my place to defend them or to get in a slanging match with this woman and of course a meeting would not be the kind of setting to act unprofessional, but this woman just really annoys me. Last time she did it I tried my best to stare intently at her in the hope that I would develop superhero powers strong enough for my gaze to burn into her thick head. No such luck. Not only did I not burn a hole in her head but she also refused to make eye contact with me, so obviously she knows that I find her comments about those people offensive. What she is saying is wrong and mean spirited. Slanderous almost. I have told the other people what she's saying and I guess I just watch her at future meetings and if she says something out of order I .... do what?
What I'd like to do is shut her up, right there and then and let everyone at the meeting know that she's lying and that she has ulterior motives for saying what she's saying. But that's not how one acts at meetings is it and it will probably make me look like a bully. But I can't sit and do nothing and let this woman keep spewing lies about these other people. Ahhh, what to do.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Whales & Bacon

Danny loves this whale ride. He wouldn't let other kids on it and when I made him get off so we could go home he cried bloody murder for 20 minutes in the car "I want to get back on the whaaaaaale!" It was like water torture. I was a bit embarrassed that he wouldn't get off it because there was a little boy hovering and his mum kept saying loudly "it'll be your turn soon" and I'm thinking go and find something else to do lady because the ear-ache I'll get from Danny is much worse than me feeling a tad guilty about your boy. Terrible aren't I. I have turned into the parent that ignores the take-your-turn rule. At least I wasn't the parent that dressed my 4-year old girl in low-rise jeans so all her underwear was on show.

Cody is doing GREAT today. The antibiotics have completely got rid of his bad breath which keeps amazing me. I kept kissing him last night and exclaiming "It's a miracle! No smell!" until Craig just took to blatantly ignoring me. And the other medicine (Predisone?) has got rid of the swelling around his neck and he's eating and playing like normal. I'm so glad that he's a happy boy right now. I am still crying at the drop of a hat but I'm able to talk about it now at least without completely losing it. It's amazing how empathetic fellow pet owners can be and how much they truly understand what you are going through. That has really helped me. Someone who does not have pets suggested we give Cody a big "send off" which I know was well-meaning but I'm not going to celebrate his death any more than I would one of my kids. I'm far too sad for anything like that.

Well it's weekend and we got lots planned, including soccer and a trip to a craft fair to see my friend who is a really talented carpenter and he's made me a wood chopping board with a block-O on it (that's the symbol of Ohio State. I'm a huge Buckeye fan). And of course lots of Cody's favourite things - walks in the park stream, ice cream, and bacon. That boy would walk a million miles for bacon (but then who wouldn't?)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Our Boy Cody

I took Cody to the vet last night, expecting him to tell me that the time had come to have Cody's teeth cleaned and instead he found a lump on Cody's tongue. So Cody has mouth cancer and it reaches through his tongue down into his neck and tonsils and it cannot be removed. Needless to say, the vet visit was somewhat of a blur and I cried the whole time and all the way home. Craig was at the park with the kids but came home. He is just devastated too, it's awful. Watching my husband cry is about the worst thing I've ever seen.

We've both been looking at options but there aren't any really. He has about two months to live, maybe longer if we can keep him comfortable and eating. Sometimes he looks lethargic and I worry and then tonight we took him to the park and he was his usual self, wagging his tail and looking happy.

He's having a bit of trouble eating so we've switched him to wet food and when I double-checked with the vet today that that was okay he said "feed that boy burgers if he wants them", which made me cry again. So tonight he's had quite a few treats, including his favourite ice cream cone and cheese.

We've got him on antibiotics and steroids and tonight Craig is going out to get him a chest harness because we don't want any more pressure on his neck from his lead. There's not much else we can do really except make every day a good one for him.

I have stopped crying tonight at least but I can't talk about it with people yet. Maybe in a few days time I'll find that easier. This is really really shit. It really is.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sponsored Walk & a Scary Storm

Jack's sponsored walk on Friday was great. I loved volunteering and he had a great time. They raised about $3,000 for their school. Marvelous stuff.

It's been a scorcher of a weekend - high 70's and sunny. Tonight we had a horrible storm though that frightened me to death on several counts. First of all, the tornado sirens were going off and the local weather guys were saying seek shelter and showing videos of black, angry-looking clouds that were rotating. I have a tremendous fear of tornadoes and even have tornado dreams at least once a month (I've had them for years). We got the boys & dogs into the basement and I tried not to freak the kids out. I came upstairs to get something (what?) and was totally lost. I mean I couldn't even get my thoughts together. I went back downstairs with laptops, iPad and my purse. I could have taken useful things like glasses, shoes, bike helmets for the kids and blankets but my mind had completely gone. That's not good huh.

Then it rained SO HARD that the storm drains couldn't keep up and the road outside our house flooded in minutes and water started creeping towards our house. This picture is taken about 30 feet away from our basement door. I have never seen rain so hard. As soon as he could, Craig ran out with some neighbours and frantically cleared storm drains to stop it coming further. This was all the while lightning & thunder was over-head.

Rounds 3 and 4 brought more rain and hail.

All through this storm, the sky was black and red and white and blue and at one point there was a rainbow at the same time the tornado sirens going off (Craig got a video which I'll try and post later).

Now all is calm but I'm on tender hooks as my ultimate fear is a tornado hitting at night. I am normally such a brave soul but tornadoes just cripple me (I don't think the recent tornadoes in Joplin and Henryville have helped my cause). Maybe a cold one and some telly will help. We have friends who enjoy storms like tonight and sit on their porch with a beer and enjoy it. I am definitely not one of them!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Dad

My dad rang tonight with some not-great news about his health. I don't want to say bad as he reads this blog and is probably upset enough. He is okay, not in hospital or anything, but he's been diagnosed with something that needs monitoring. I wish I was in England right now so I could go over for a brew and see him more regularly but of course I am not. We talked a bit about what a great life we have in America (no doubt) and I said something about "things" not really mattering and family coming first of course, but I guess things do matter because without them we can't eat or have protection or health care or transport. So while I yearn to be in England for my family & friends (especially my dad right now), the fact is that we have a better life here. I'm sure that's a sad fact of life that most expats live with. Loving the life, but missing the family.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wishing on a Star

Tonight before the boy's bedtime we took them outside to see Venus & Jupiter, which are so prominent this month in the western sky. By sheer luck, as soon as we stepped outside, a huge shooting star went right over our house. I was a bit scared actually and said "What was that!" thinking it might be a meteor. I'm a numpty sometimes.

I told Jack to make a wish on the shooting star. He looked sad and said but it never comes true or it takes too long. When I asked him what he meant he said remember the wishbone wish I made ages ago? I said yes. He said well it never came true. I said why don't you tell me what it was and I might be able to help (thinking I might get a good hint for his birthday or something). He said I wished for a big ball that you hang and it spins and you dance under it. Bless.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

T-Shirt Rant

Healthy living starts today (deja vu)! It's funny how a 70 degree day makes me say that. Probably because I don't want to have to wear a t-shirt that will show off all my flab. Talking of which, I hate that shops only sell capped-sleeved t-shirts. We don't all have skinny arms and I hate having my bingo wings on show. Why can't they sell t-shirts with 3/4 length sleeves or at least long enough to cover up most of the wobbly bits? Why are there racks and racks of t-shirts for all sized women with only capped sleeves? Ridiculous.

And while I'm on a rant about t-shirt sleeves, what is up with all the bat-wing stuff out there? That was hideous the first time around in the early 80's never mind bringing it back now. I remember a particular lemon-coloured little number that I used to wear that had a bat wing from the waist to the shoulder, and to really show it off I added a black patent-leather belt around the hips. I was hot stuff. Even male friends wore bat-wing denim jackets in those days - now if THOSE things come back in fashion I may have to start beating people.

Anyway, my goal is to lose a ton of weight by the time the outdoor pool opens Memorial weekend. I have started writing stuff down that I eat and I will try very hard to lay off the beer and to exercise more. Wish me luck. Again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Danny's sick & torturing me with Barney

As Jack was sat eating his breakfast this morning and I'm trying to get the dogs outside, Danny stood in the middle of the kitchen and threw up. Several times. Thankfully I didn't have my contact lenses in so it didn't look too bad to me, but Jack put on his best theatrical performance and yelled "arghh! I'm going to throw up, get away!" and I had to help him flee the room with his eyes closed while his brother continued to decorate the floor. It did occur to me that thankfully Ben the batty dog was outside or he'd have tried to eat it and that would have completely destroyed Jack.

So I am now at home with a poorly child who has thrown up three times, destroying two sets of bedding and a pair of shoes so far. As I type he is keeping down some watered-down orange juice and a fruit popsicle so fingers crossed it stays in his stomach.

I spoke to a nurse at the pediatricians who scoffed at me when I mentioned that people have been talking about a "norovirus". She asked me if I had heard that term on the TV, before telling me it was a posh word for a tummy bug and not to worry. Just keep him hydrated. So norovirus is joining "stomach flu" and every other stupid term out there for what is in fact a tummy bug.

Right then. I'm going to try and make him have a nap and I will tell him to cooperate because he owes me big time. Not because I'm having to take time off work, but because he made me watch Barney and I detest that purple weirdo with a vengeance.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunny Day at Cedar Cliff Falls

Today it was 68F and sunny in Ohio - it doesn't get better than that really does it? I worked out that we spent about seven hours today outside of the house which felt a bit weird for a weekend. Craig said he actually felt a bit stressed leaving the house that long, all on it's own. Strangely enough I know what he means.

For a big chunk of that time we went hiking at Cedar Cliff Falls. We did a 3 mile loop and both boys did great. A little way from the car, on the way back, Jack had a minor benny and whined "carry meeeeee" but he soon bucked-up & Danny just soldiered on. I think doing 3 miles at age 5 and 3 is awesome I really do. We treated them to ice cream on the way home and then had a cook-out in the garden. All in all, a fabulous day.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hurrah Henrys

Yesterday Jack threw up at school and I had to go and get him. He told me that it happened during a video in his class about "boiled eagles", bless him. When I picked him up he was wearing clothes that the school nurse had put him in, 3 sizes too big and far too scruffy-looking so we scurried home and I got him changed quick. He had another throwing-up episode later on too but today he's fine. 24-hour bug hopefully.

As I type this, Craig's watching his telly program about Big Foot sightings in the Midwest. He's even convinced Jack that these things exist and not long ago Jack told a friend of ours at the park that he lives in our neighbourhood. I'm half-watching it if only for the presenter wearing a baseball hat that says "Gone Squatching". I'm going to bed soon because I put all the clocks forward a couple of hours ago and it's freaked me out and made me feel like I should be in bed already.

After a very quick and painless visit to the post office this morning, I have now got mine, Jack's & Danny's passports sent off. Next task is booking the flights to England. I cannot wait to see my family and friends and show my lads where we are from. I'm so proud of England and I want my boys to feel the same.

Tomorrow we have a hike planned and it's going to be a gorgeous sunny day. It's going to be one of those days where I want to spend all day outside in my garden lounging on a chair, a bit like these two hurrah Henrys.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Two Little Stories

Two little stories I loved today.

First, I was playing hide-and-seek with Daniel this morning before work. I counted to ten and then shouted "coming ready or not!" and he shouted back "I'm behind the couch!"

Our water meter broke and a guy came this afternoon to fit a new one. Ben and Jack both pestered him of course. Jack hovered over him, asking what he was doing. Linda said he announced "I have to watch you carefully so that I can get a job like you when I'm older". The guy said, no no no you want to get a better job than this and Jack said "well actually, I'm going to be a superhero's sidekick".

Monday, March 05, 2012

Things to Get Excited About

I do like to have things to look forward to and plan for. The trip home to England isn't booked so I'm not too excited about that quite yet but I have sent away for my passport ($244, robbing bar stewards!) and I'm getting the boy's passports processed this weekend if the Post Office cooperates and doesn't treat me like a bloody nuisance like they do normally.

Anyway, my look forward to list for this spring & summer is the following:
  • A night out with my hubby to see Noel Gallagher on my birthday.
  • A night out with a girl friend to see Barry Manilow. Oh Mandy!
  • A big street party for the Queen's Jubilee. That's right. We are going to apply for a permit to cordon the road off and party like only a bunch of ex-pats can. Bring on the Pims and the pasties!
  • A big road trip with Craig's mum, dad and nephew Luke to Nashville (Opry and showboat) and Memphis (Sun Studios, Gracelands and Peabody Hotel), Asheville in North Carolina (Table Rock Mountain and The Biltmore Estate), and Beckley West Virginia (white-water rafting for Craig & Luke. I will potter about with the kids and Dot & Harry thank you very much. Once was enough).
It all sounds great doesn't it. I am especially happy to start planning the road trip because I loooove road trips. The open road, seeing America and having little adventures. There will be seven of us in the minivan and whenever I think of our trip I conjure up images of Little Miss Sunshine and the crazy way they had of starting their VW van. I'm also looking forward to Jack & Danny having some family here to pester, err I mean play with.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Going Doolally at a Rapid Rate

I think I need a holiday or a few days off work at least because I'm completely scattered-brained and I have zero patience and well, I just feel pissed off most days and I don't like being that way.

Yesterday I did two utterly brain dead things. First I sat in line at the Starbucks drive-through for 10 minutes and then when I got to the pick-up window I realized that I hadn't even told them what I wanted at the little speaker thingy at the front of the line. I was so mortified that I just drove off. No doubt the baristas were killing themselves laughing about it and I'll have to avoid the place for a while. THEN, when I got to work I took my bunch of keys out of my bag to open my office door and I tried to automatically open the door by holding up my car keys and pressing the button on it. Am I deranged?

This morning on my way to work I tried at two Kroger locations to buy a money order for my new passport and had no luck. When I finally found a customer service desk that had the right paperwork she told me I had to pay cash (debit cards aren't cash apparently) then the ATM said my limit had already been reached. WTF? The limit for how long, an hour? Sometimes I hate my credit union. By this time I was ready to kill someone and I swear if someone had even been slightly rude to me at this point my head would have exploded.

So I need to chill because I hate feeling like this. I used to feel like I could do it all, like Wonderwoman, and now I feel like I can't do anything. Working full-time and raising two kids and keeping house is just an amazing feat for me, every day. How on earth do other mums cope that work full-time? How do they keep from going completely doolally? One of my colleagues at work keeps telling me to get a cleaner and a friend keeps telling me to take time off work, but the economic times are not good for either of those things right now. Also, I'm not a "let it go" kind of person. I met a man at a party recently who's a single dad and he said he has to just turn the other cheek to laundry and mess and dirt. No way on earth that's me. That wouldn't help me at all. In fact that would tip me over the edge because I can't rest even if the bathroom bin is half full. I don't even clean my teeth without cleaning the sink at the same time.

But I need to chill out somehow and reading "The Happiness Project" didn't help. If anything she got royally on my nerves by the end of the book. I gave up wine too darn it to hell. My step-dad sent me some snuff for a laugh, maybe I should give it a whirl?

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Batty Ben & Roald Dahl

Ben the batty dog continues on his path to destroy the house, this time eating the duvet on my bed. I think I might just have thwarted his poo-eating though. He's been eating Cody's each time he goes into the garden which is just about the foulest thing I've ever seen. He even stands behind Cody and waits for him to finish the dirty deed. If I see him I shout at him and I can run outside sometimes and get to it first (to sling it out of course, not to enjoy a nibble myself) but for the last few days when I've been doing my clean-up duty in the garden I have not been finding any of Cody's which means Ben has been eating the lot. He's quite partial to cat hairballs too the dirty bugger. Anyway, I bought some pills yesterday that I can put in Cody's food and apparantly it makes dog poo taste foul enough that Ben won't eat it. Doesn't it taste foul enough? I asked my dog-loving co-worker, to which she replied that to a dog it can sometimes be like a nice bit of pate. The good news is that this morning as I was leaving for work I saw Cody's poo in the garden - untouched! Victory! I never thought I'd be so happy to pick up dog poo when I get home.

Moving on from that gross subject, I just read two FAB books by Roald Dahl about his early life - "The Boy" is about his childhood in Wales & England and the follow-up "Going Solo" is about his time in South Africa and during WW2. Each is just a small paperback & thoroughly enjoyable. I definitely recommend both of them.