Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ben's Bin Escapades

It's been a busy weekend as usual. Both kids had events at their schools that I was involved with and helped set-up and we've got a big chunk of gardening done. We also had a trip to urgent care as Jack has strep throat and an ear infection, and Ben gave me a slight heart-attack.  And we got to finally watch War Horse which I liked but thought was a bit cheesy in parts.

Jack pretending he's a Jedi Knight 

Danny looking on in amusement

The boys at Jack's school event. It reminded me of the village fetes I had as a kid, with basic games and prizes. I can still remember the excitement I felt, so it was great to see the boys get so giddy about it.  Today we went to Danny's school art show. We took a picture of him with his art but he looks fed-up so I won't post it.

I have planted 100 Castor oil plants for staff appreciation week at Jack's school and my friend Heather is making some tags that say "Thanks for helping me grow!" They don't look like much right now but they get to be big (6ft) and have bold purple leaves. The seeds however are poisonous if eaten so we've made sure to write that on the tag. I had a few seeds left so threw them away and Ben got into the bin and I didn't know if he'd eaten them. It only takes 11 seeds to kill a dog so I had a panic attack about it but I think he didn't eat them as he seems ok. Phew.  He is such a bonkers hound.

So it's back to work tomorrow and it's a big week again for events at Jack's school. And it's MAY already! I'm so glad it's May.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Caving in to Kid Pressure

Against my better judgment I took Jack to school this morning. He complained of a sore throat last night and he felt a little hot this morning but he didn't have a fever and he begged to go. I know he doesn't feel 100% but he begged and pleaded and assured me that he feels okay.  The reason for all of this is not that he adores learning, oh no. The reason is that he desperately wants the 100% attendance trophy that he'll get at the end of the school year (he had 1 minor blip when he got sent home a couple of months ago but he's allowed one strike).  I have not encouraged this at all and even told him this morning that I'll make him a trophy and get him a gift for being so good about going to school, but he pleaded and I let him go.

I don't feel good about taking him to school so I pulled a teacher, Mr. B.. aside and told him to keep an eye on my little fella just in case. I feel like a bad parent and I'm expecting a phone call from nursey at any minute. I keep telling myself these days that being his parent is more important than him liking me, but when he cried his heart out this morning I caved. What a wimp.

I knew it!  1pm the call from the nurse came and he's poorly, throwing up and looking whitish-green. Poor lad. I hope he recovers for his big school event tomorrow :-(

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Always a Silver Lining

The bad thing about having a horrendous stomach bug this week was nearly passing out while I was teaching and having my students all around me asking lamely "are you okay?" while looking like they wanted to run away. The good thing was that I lost 6 pounds in 48 hours.

The bad thing about the thunderstorm last night was that it kept me awake all night and I am shattered today, but I spent the entire time during the storm cuddling up with my dog, Cody, who had jumped up onto the bed next to me in fear of the storm. Cody hasn't slept with me in weeks, probably because he feels crappy with his cancer.

The bad thing about this time of year for me is that a part of my job and the boy's school year is all coming to a close at the same time, which feels somewhat like a large wooly afghan rug being thrown over my head so that I'm completely disorientated and fumbling about like an idiot. But it also means it's just a few weeks till summer and I'm so excited about the stuff we have planned and visitors from England.

The bad thing about having to dish out FIVE different pills to my dogs every day is that it feels wrong in so many ways, not just for them but because of my upbringing. Having my dogs on medicine feels luxurious and pretentious, when in reality we are working class and we make-do. But the good news is that the meds are working. Ben has been left out of his crate now for a  week without destroying the house and the swelling in Cody's neck is down. So I have to keep telling myself that I am completely justified in spending a gazilloin dollars each month in visits and pills.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Milestones & Manilow

What a great day. The big news of the day is that Jack can now ride his bike without training wheels. His friend Lauren did it last night so he asked this morning if we'd take the wheels off and Craig took him out onto the parking lot and held onto the back of his seat for a few steps, then Jack said "Let go Daddy" and Craig said "I already have buddy" and he was off, just like that. Another little milestone reached for my boy. Danny ran after him with a big grin on his face.

Tonight I went with some girlfriends to see Barry Manilow! My friend Sallie had got the tickets and it was great. The place was packed with 20,000 people of all ages and the audience was just crazy for him. He got two standing ovations. Even if you are not a Barry lover, you'd have had to admit after you saw him tonight that he can really belt out a tune. He sang all the classics and had me dancing at least twice (Can't smile without you & Copacabana)

Sallie told me that last time she saw him he sang the Weekend in New England lyrics "When will our eyes meet?" and a lady in the crowd shouted "Tonight!", then he sang "When can I touch you" and she shouted "Tonight!" and he carried on "When will this strong feeling end?" - you can guess what she kept shouting until Barry stopped singing and said "Who is that?"  There were equally crazy people tonight including a very masculine sounding man near us who kept belting out "I LOVE you Barry!" My favourite bit was when he showed original film footage from 1978 of him singing Mandy and then  he sat down at his piano and did a duet with himself, doing a really good harmony. I've taken a bit of good-natured stick about going to see him tonight but he put on a great show and between his voice and his piano skills he showed he still has it, even after two hip replacements, bless 'im!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Marathon Day

What a marathon day today was. It started with an 8am breakfast at Jack's school, followed by teaching most of the day, a trip to the vets with Ben and then a PTA meeting tonight. Craig also took Jack to soccer in the middle of that. It really is no wonder that I haven't hoovered in a week. Ben's black hair is clinging to the skirting boards, nagging me each time I walk past it. I'm trying really hard to ignore it today & will not be able to get to it until at least Friday night as I'm teaching tomorrow night again.

Ben was at the vets tonight with a dicky back leg. He has been limping and can't put too much weight on it. The general consensus from the vet was that he has a sprained knee, which resulted in more medicine and a $70 bill. Sigh. So now he's on 3 pills a day and I think we've probably spent about $500 this month on vet bills. The good news is that twice today I have left him out of his crate for over an hour while I've been gone and each time he has been perfectly well behaved. On the way back from the vets I was thinking about the lady that ran from her house during a tornado and left behind her dog and wedding ring then talked about her relief at finding the ring the next day in the rubble that was left of her house. She also mentioned the dog but wasn't quite so enthusiastic. I think Ben and Cody are worth far more than any jewelry and I could never leave them or treat them as anything less than a family member. I cannot bear the thought of the decision I'm going to have to make soon about Cody and yet there are people that have dogs tied to a kennel outside of their house, never letting them in the house or giving them love and attention. That just completely baffles me.

So now I am going to sit and muck about on Facebook for a while with a cold one, and then read my new book "The fault in our stars" by John Green. It's actually fiction (I haven't read a fiction book for ages!) and I'm loving it. I'm trying really hard not to love the young girl who narrates because I know it's not going to end well for her, but it's such an enthralling book that I was totally into it by the 3rd page. Then I'm going to crash in bed and spoon Ben, since he has taken it upon himself to claim the middle of the bed as his own and he will not be budged.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tommy Cooper (and a few pix)

There's going to be a talent show at the local middle school and Jack really wants to enter. Auditions take place at his elementary school in the next couple of weeks and he's asked me and Craig to help. He wants to be a magician. Seeing as he's never shown the slightest interest in magic I nearly said "why don't you dance?" but thankfully clamped my mouth shut because I know that in the vital moment he would not do it. I've been to too many group kid things where the teacher has said "let's dance!" and he's sat down on my knee and grabbed hold of my neck with the grip of death. So magician then. I'm thinking we could make it funny (if Jack will let me). What about a bit of Tommy Cooper? I used to love Tommy Cooper and because of this blog post I just sat for 30 minutes and watched his videos on You Tube again and laughed as hard as I did 20 years ago. If I sat and watched this at the audition I'd laugh my arse off but then I'm 43 and Jack's 5 and may not appreciate my humour huh?

I also want to post a few pictures of our weekend for F&F in England, as usual....

Took the kids to Franklin Park Conservatory to see the plants and butterflies. Lesson learned: do not take kids again until both of them are at least 8. I felt hard-done-to as well as I would have loved to have enjoyed the plants. Little monkeys.

A trip to the vets on Friday confirmed that Cody's cancer is not getting any worse so that's good news, hey. The vet wants us to do a biopsy of the tumour to determine what kind of cancer it is though. We are worried about all the costs involved but having a major guilt trip about not doing everything we can to help him. It is NOT a good situation to be in but we have a week or so to decide since he's doing so well. Any advice peeps?

We also talked to the vet about Ben who is a darling boy but frantic when we leave. He's manic in his crate, hurting himself and trying to gnaw his way out (I have to wash his bed each time as his crate is swimming in slobber and hair). He also barks the entire time we are gone. I can't leave him out as he chews everything and even ate my lovely Nautica couch throw while we were still in the house - Jack was sat next to him! SO, the vet put him on Prozac. I have a dog on Prozac for Gods sake.

Saturday 7.00 am: We had friends over for breakfast to watch the EFC v LFC game. Sadly, EFC lost but we had a great time and I had bought English breakfast food from Fados Irish bar so we had: black pudding, Irish bacon, bangers, mushrooms, Heinz beans, toast and scrambled eggs. Champion! At 11 am we had Jack's first soccer game and it rained throughout!

Same day at 1 pm: 4th birthday party for the little fella on the left. His mum is English, from Oxford, and in need of some friends right now so hopefully we can help out a bit.
Later at 6pm we had dinner with friends. By the time I got home on Saturday I felt very contented (we have such good friends here) but absolutely knackered!

Sunday, in the garden. Danny loves his bobble hat.

Jack loves his knight's castle.

In what is becoming a weekly (and much loved) tradition, we took the dogs to the local creek and the boys had a great time mucking about in the water. They saw snakes and filled their wellies with water and threw rocks. Usual boy stuff.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jonathan & Charlotte

Most people know who Susan Boyle is, and we all remember the great feeling we got when everyone realised during "Britain's Got Talent" that she was going to be a star.
Well I've watched this little video from BTG's 2012 show about 10 times in the last few weeks and told everyone how marvelous Jonathan & Charlotte are.

Seriously, please watch it. If it doesn't make you cry, or at least give you goosebumps, then you might just be an alien.

Spring Break & Booked our Hols!

It's been a fab day (even if I have developed a sore throat/stuffy head thing). I took the day off work to take the boys out with friends and now they are lounging in the front room with their dad watching Star Wars. I'm back to work tomorrow but have 1 more day this week with them. It's been a little slice of heaven.
Also today I booked 5 nights at Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park this summer! We'll have a fully furnished cabin on the campsite and there's loads of kids activities and a pool. Hopefully we won't end up having to eat the camp-site petting zoo like we did last year. There's even stuff for parents in the evening so maybe I can drag Craig up for a bit of karaoke. He's a bit of a dark horse but once he's had a few beers he's belt out Quanta LaMera like the best wedding singer you ever heard. I'm so excited that it's actually a bit sad isn't it. Some women get excited at 5 nights in a swanky hotel in Paris and I'm happy to take my kids on a hay ride with Yogi Bear. How much I've changed! I still have to book another 3 nights somewhere else for the same holiday so that's next on my list of "to dos".

And Cody is going to see the vet Friday. So fingers crossed for him (and us) please.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Imagination of a 5-Year Old

I am taking Jack to the dentist this week for his 6 month check-up but I had it at the back of my mind.

While I was getting ready for work this morning he said "Do you think there will be a big treasure chest where I can pick a prize even though I'm old"? I said I had no idea what he was talking about. What treasure chest? Where? What prize? He said "The treasure chest and I got a fish game even though I'm old". After about 20 more questions I figured out that he meant the box of toys that he's allowed to pick from after his dentist visit, even though he's not a new client. I love that he called it a treasure chest, given that it's a Tupperware box.

Later, when his babysitter arrived I heard him telling her that the Easter bunny had come over to our house over the weekend and that Ben (our dog) had seen him and barked but that he had slept through it all. He totally believes what his dad told him, it's lovely!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter Weekend USA-Style

Easter is one of those times I wish I was in England where everyone gets a 4-day weekend, but instead Craig and I took Friday off with the intent of getting a load of gardening done without the kids throwing rocks in the AC unit, digging holes in my flower beds and setting off at full tilt for the road. We were so excited about the day. Kid-free gardening!
Murphy's law however had other plans and our babysitter had a terrible time with a back problem so we had the kids anyway. Craig got stuck into the gardening so I met up with another mum from Jack's elementary school and her two boys and we went to a local science museum instead with the four boys. Every other parent had the same idea and while it was nice to be with our friends I'd rather shove needles in my eyes than experience the same crowded nightmare. It took us an hour to get in and then Danny just will not listen to me and runs off.

The kids had a good time though and we really like this other family so it wasn't a complete flop. I just don't enjoy crowded places. Jack and his school friend also got to see their teacher which was honestly one of my kid's greatest moments. He was over the moon about it.
Friday afternoon we made Easter baskets and just pottered in the garden and at the park.

Saturday morning we took the boys to our local park for an egg hunt. Craig and Jack tootled off to the 5 and older pasture and I took Danny to his little bit of field and we waited for the count-down. He seemed okay and then the loud speaker boomed "Here we go kids! 5-4-3-2-1 - GO!" and Danny burst out crying and yelled I don't want to do it! It was like 2011 all over again. I got hold of his hand and told him it was okay and we walked out slowly to the field together and there was a hundred kids and parents in front of us, like a tide, sweeping up brightly coloured plastic eggs and putting them in their baskets. By the time we got to the end of the field, Danny had zero eggs and was fed-up.
We met up with Craig and Jack, who shared a couple of eggs with Danny, then a little boy of about 3 with a basket full of eggs came up and gave Danny an egg too. It was such a sweet thing for him to do that I got a bit choked-up and thanked his mum with a squeaky voice. What a nice kid.
Craig told me that the over-5's field was crazy, with parents also in the scrummage, racing along grabbing eggs. Parents should be banned from doing crap like that shouldn't they.

Saturday afternoon we painted eggs for the first time in my 43 year life. That fact has stunned many an American friend this weekend who have said things like "well what do you do at Easter in England then?" Well, we eat big chocolate eggs filled with sweets and we have fun with the family and we have 4 days off work and it is probably as much of a treat for the adults as it is for the kids. Some people go to church too of course, as they do here, but seeing as I'm not a church-goer that is never on my radar. So anyway, we dyed and decorated hard-boiled eggs but we didn't eat them. We peeled them, cut them in half, hid them around the garden and did an egg hunt for the dogs. It was great!.

Cody won the egg hunt by a mile. Ben got a bit freaked out by all the cheering.

This morning we did an egg hunt around the house and the eggs contained clues for presents that were also hidden. It sounds a bit complicated but the kids had a great time. Jack was so excited he was shaking trying to open his eggs and when Danny found his Dora the Explorer toothbrush he jumped up and down screeching "Dora!" and clapping his hands. It was great to see them both so happy and so convinced the Easter Bunny came by the house last night with the presents.

The other big hit was the Squinkies we got them. They are little plastic figurines that worst case scenario will choke Danny and best case scenario will get lost. But the kids have played with them all day long. Danny also got Play Doh and by this afternoon he had mixed all the colours together, filled it with rocks, bugs and dirt and tried to squish it into the AC unit.

This afternoon we did a few hours of hard-core gardening then took the boys (dogs included) for ice cream and then on a ramble down a local creek with the dogs. They got soaking wet as usual but loved it. Now Craig and I are absolutely knackered out and we are back to work tomorrow (no Bank Holiday - booo!). My body is aching from the gardening and my poor fingers are cracked and nearly bleeding. A friend bought me some of those gloves you wear in bed so that you can re-hydrate your hands but last time I tried them I felt like a magician and well, gloves just don't feel right in bed do they.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Effort Award for Jack

Jack is one of the youngest in his class by as much as 10 months in some cases, but both Craig and I feel we made the right decision sending him to Kindergarten this year and not waiting another year. It was a tough decision and I know mums that have made a different call.
So I'm happy with my decision but always a little nervous at school awards ceremonies because Jack isn't in the advanced reading group and so far he hasn't won a big award. Not to worry. We tell him that effort is what counts and we are very proud of him.

Still, at today's ceremony he stood at the front and chewed his nails as his teacher read names out ..

And then she called his! At this point I got a little lump in the old throat. Sentimental fool.

She grabbed his shoulders and motioned me to get his picture. Probably because she could see me grinning like a Cheshire cat at the back of the gym.

I'm so proud of him. It says he got it for tremendous effort, which is what I want from him in life.

Afterwards I sauntered past his classroom as it always makes me smile to see the kid's artwork pinned outside. Last time he had drawn a picture of Martin Luther King and written "I have a dream to work at Toys R Us". This time the kids had made pictures of themselves with Dr. Seuss hats on and said what their favourite book was. Jack likes "Bartholomew & the Oobleck" but has actually really got into all of the Dr. Seuss books lately.

Then when we got home he also fished a "Got caught being good" award out of his bag. Apparently he found a 4-leaf clover at recess and gave it to his teacher. Bless. I am really enjoying this age. I wish I could keep him at five forever.

Monday, April 02, 2012

43rd Birthday Bonanza!

It is safe to say that I had the best 43rd birthday weekend imaginable!

Last Thursday night Craig treated me to a night out to see Noel Gallagher & The High Flying Birds. He and I had such a good night. We drank beer, we laughed, we rocked it like a pair of old English fogeys. THFB were a great band and I like their music but it was really special when Noel sang some of the old Oasis stuff like "Supersonic" and "Look back in anger". The first time I saw Oasis was at Sheffield Arena in 1993! Told you I was an old fogey.

Friday I had to go to a seminar and sit in a room while the speakers educated us on algal blooms in Lake Erie. Fascinating stuff hey, but I was itching to get out of there because Friday night I met with friends at a local pub to really celebrate. A friend was also turning 40 so there were a few couples and some friends from work and I had the best time. At one point a big storm came over and the tornado sirens were going off so we all huddled away from the loud noise of the bar and called our respective babysitters. I was so relieved when mine said not to worry and keep partying. Not that I was willing to let my children get carried away to Kansas or anything, but I haven't been out with friends in years and good grief did I enjoy it!

Saturday Craig took the boys to soccer while I slept in and recovered (why oh why did I do cherry bomb shots?) then we were off to see friends Debbie & Lynne who live in London (Ohio, not Old Blighty). They cooked us a wonderful dinner and we had chocolate cake. Danny sang Happy Birthday to me twice which was lovely. They had also set up an Easter egg hunt for the boys with cute little bug themed eggs and treats inside. The kids loved it. Then they took me for a pedicure and we had a good old girlie natter while the three of us were seated at the foot spas. I love these friends, they are so thoughtful. They are also huge dog lovers and when Lynne bent down to give Cody a hug I had to choke back a few tears.

Yesterday it was Craig's turn for a lie-in so I took the boys to a local Mickey-Ds play area then we hung out and did yard work. I was in bed by 9pm absolutely knackered out! The lesson learned is that I can party like a 23-year old but I certainly can't recover like one.

Thanks to my husband for making it such an ace birthday and for my lovely presents from the boys. I feel extremely lucky to have him. And thanks to friends and family that made it so special. I should be completely recovered by about June.