Thursday, August 30, 2012

Professor Pam?

I'm going to take a few minutes to talk about work so feel free to skip this post and come back when I have something more interesting to impart. Also, I know that the economy is terrible everywhere and I'm lucky to have a job, so I'm not complaining.

So anyway. For, oh about 10 years, (let's just call it the Bush years) there's been cut-backs at work and budgets cuts and we are at a point now where any kind of pay rise doesn't even come close to covering inflation. The dept. I work in has been whittled away to the very bones of existence and still the cuts keep coming. My job has been on the line for about 6 months and it was a cold reality that I might lose it. Even with my boss fighting for me and people from industry writing letters and such, the word was that I was very much "valued", but if there's no money there's no money right. There is barely any money to cover the Professors.

This is the reason we did not go home to England and spend $5,000. Also the reason I haven't slept in 6 months and I've been a pain in the arse with my family.

Then along came a lifeline in the form of more teaching. I teach already but this new role will have me teaching all year. And not just teaching any class but the biggest class. One hundred and fifteen students to be exact. Both semesters, so all year basically. I was given 1-weeks notice and some great help from previous professors and I just jumped right in. Actually that fits my style. I like jumping in and getting things done. And I'm loving it, I really am. I'm meeting students from all across the university and I'm learning new things myself.

One of my favourite things about this class is that there are a lot of international students with all different accents and languages and they call me "Professor" even though I'm not one (and I don't say I am, honest!). Today one of the girls came to find me after class at 5.15pm as I was walking to my car and she shouted "please wait, Professor!" and I thought right then, that does it. I'm tired of telling them I am not a professor so I'll just let them carry on. So there you are, just gave myself a Doctorate. In the meantime I better get that bloody PhD finished. Hopefully before I'm wearing a wig and a pair of Depends at graduation.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Our Weekend Mish-Mash

Friday afternoon our vet said that Coco is 100% healthy and doesn't need prescription food - yea!

Then our English friend Maureen came over for a cook-out and we had a great time. I love her. I need my English friends (love my American ones too of course but I like to chat about Old Blighty).

Yesterday Craig cleaned his Jeep Liberty so he can sell it and buy a truck. He's going to the auctions tomorrow with our old friend Christ  - remember him? 

Yesterday I also took the boys with me to wash my car then we went to the pound to buy dog toys as they have a great shop MUCH cheaper than other places. A worker came in and asked me how Coco was doing - she said they have been crossing their fingers all week that she wasn't brought back again. I told her she's found her forever home and that we love her. She's Jack's best friend.  The people that kept taking her back are the ones that need to be caged (I didn't say that obviously or they'd have banned me and seeing as I'm thinking of me and Jack volunteering that wouldn't be a great idea).

Then we went to the pool but left after an hour as Jack barfed in front of the Life Guard station (5 small bottles of chocolate milk will do that)

Last night we went to our friends Julie & Mike for a cook-out and when we got home we watched the 2nd half of Hunger Games (we watched the first half Friday but were too knackered to stay up). Anyway, fabulous film. Loved it!!

I can't believe Neil Armstrong died! What a legend. Since my early twenties I've loved all there is to know about flight and exploration. It was a sad day.

Today was a good day. Very warm and sunny (90 I think). We took the dogs to our local park for a big walk. Two things stand out from the walk - firstly, there was a young girl bragging loudly about her dog being a German Shepherd/wolf mix and she didn't have a leash on him and he didn't look friendly. I wish it was legal to get hold of a person like that and shake some sense in to them. And I must remember to take mace out with us next time (Craig does carry a hunting knife but mace would be good too I think if a big nasty dog came a charging). Second, we walked up a steep incline, oh, about 60 ft high and I was so knackered by the time I got to the top I pretended I was checking my phone when I fact I was gulping for air. I need to exercise more!

This afternoon I took the boys to a 7 year old's birthday party (great friends, happy times) then we went swimming. It's the last weekend at the pool next weekend. I can't believe summer is coming to an end!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Big Day for a First Grader

Just a quickie tonight (oh er missus!) as I have lots to do before bed.
It was a big day for Jack today. It was his first day in First Grade, which I think would be the same as Year 2 in England (he's 6 anyway, so you can work it out). He gets his own desk and the school work will be ramped up a bit. His teacher, Mrs S., was called up to jury duty, so a sub was there. That was a bit of a let-down for me but he said he had a great day and that's what counts
First Grader!
After dropping Jack at school we bumped into Danny's pre-school teacher and he hid behind my legs to avoid her, but then said to me when we walked away "I love my teacher". I wonder how that day is going to do down when I have to drop him off at pre-school. Lordy lordy.  Tonight in the car I asked Jack if he missed Daniel today and he said yes. I said Danny missed you too, didn't you love? And Daniel said "No". Little bugger.

Tonight was Jack's first soccer practice and he didn't give it his best effort but I think he was tired. It's been a long day for all of us.

Soccer Practice (pic stolen from Heather)
I start teaching again tomorrow, so I have that nervous but excited feeling. No doubt I'll have my usual pre-teaching dream tonight where I show up to class unprepared, late, and completely naked.  I'm not kidding!  ha ha ha

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jack & Coco

Day 3 with Coco and only a couple of accidents in the house to talk of. Her and Ben play like mad all day long and she gets exhausted. Last night Ben tried to mess with her while she was fast asleep and she gave him what for!  I think she's grumpy when she's tired.

Lapping up the attention that a puppy brings
She is not grumpy with Jack and adores him. He carries her about and walks her at the park and just plays with her all day long. He feeds her and calls out "come on Coco!" everywhere he goes. It's so cute. Ben jumped up on the kitchen counter this afternoon and ate all her prescription food. That wasn't cute.  He's such a good boy at heart though he really is so we're making sure he doesn't feel left out.

Friends at the park. (me messing about with the Instagram app)

Speed demon

Tired out pooches
Talking of tired out, both  boys were asleep by 8.45pm tonight! That hasn't happened since May. I was almost at a loss as to what to do with myself until bed time. But I'm determined to get the kids to bed at the same time now as school starts tomorrow. Tomorrow Jack will be a first grader! Ack!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Welcome Coco!

The Chesapeake Retriever we applied to rescue got adopted by a lady at the rescue place where he was being taken care of, so we started looking for a  dog again this weekend. Mistake number one was going on Craigslist. Mistake for two reasons (1) It upsets me how many people are getting rid of their pets with the most pathetic excuses, and (2) People on that website are either crazy, or greedy or both. One woman who was moving and trying to offload her dog wanted to me pay vet bills and a $100 re-homing fee. Nice.

Today we went to our local pound and found this little girl, Coco. She's only 7 months old but been returned to the pound 3 times already. I cannot imagine why, unless she turns into Beelzebub and tries to rip my throat out while I'm sleeping tonight. ha ha ha. She does have a bladder infection right now so is on meds and will probably need to eat prescription (expensive) dog food from now on. Maybe that put people off. She's had one little accident in the house but her and Ben have played like crazy. She snapped at him tonight but I think she's exhausted. What a days she's had - being handled by so many (she's cute and was popular at the pound till they saw her report card) and then coming home with us. I hope she works out. After what we went through with Ben, she'll have to do something pretty extreme for us to take her back for a FOURTH time! Bless her heart.

Jack is obsessed with her and she seems pretty smitten with him

Playing tug-o-war with Ben

The end of a crazy day for this little girl

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Our 16th Anniversary

My Craigy
This is a bit sappy, sorry. It's my 16th anniversary today and I wanted to just share how much I love this man. Even though we told each other we wouldn't make a fuss this year he got me a dozen roses and a funny card. We're having a cook-out tonight too.

Sixteen years have flown by but it also seems like we've accomplished so much in that time. We've come a log way since arriving in America with just two bags each in 1999. Now I barely have room in my garage for all the junk! Where does it all come from?And of course we have the two boys. There isn't a day goes by that I don't look at them and know how fortunate we are to have two healthy, happy kids.

My mum & Tom sent a card and she wrote "Whatever you're doing, keep doing it - it works!". I don't really know what we're doing! ha ha ha. I do know that being 2,000 miles from all of our family in England has definitely made us stick together more, made us closer like we share a common history and bond. We like to do the same things and we have the same toilet humour and we share the same views on politics and religion - I think that's very important. I will ignore the fact that he supports Manchester United of course.

I think I definitely get the better deal. He puts up with my monthly shenanigans and I do have a tendency to talk too much and get a bit crazy over the kids. I hope that makes his life more interesting and not too stressful! So Happy Anniversary Craig. Love you. x

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A New Woofer?

Good grief what a busy week. I'm getting ready to teach but Linda's off on vacation so I'm working from home. It's the last week of summer hols for the boys so I'm trying to make it special, but also doing stuff for the PTA and also following that crime watch page which is definitely not a good thing. If I had no idea all this crime was taking place in my neighbourhood I'd be much happier. But now I know it is and I can track it on a Facebook page I can't help myself.

So, changing the subject, here's a cute dog. A 2-year old, 75 lb Chesapeake Retriever mix to be exact. Loves kids and dogs and might stop my dog Ben wrecking my house with loneliness. Could possibly be the best of doggy friends and I might have some furniture left.  Looks like he eats a lot though doesn't he, and Craig's already told me that I have to pick his ginormous poo up. UGH!  I just nodded demurely and vowed silently to make him do it. ;)

The dog rescue place told me today that my vet won't release any info about Ben without my consent and the rescue place needs to know that his shots are current and he's neutered. I'll call my vet in the morning but will ask them not to spill the beans on Ben's Prozac episode, the chewing phase and the general psycho behaviour. Wouldn't want to give the wrong impression of my family! ha ha ha.
And then if we pass all their tests we'll meet him, which is the next step.  I hope we (Ben) like him.
Step 3 will be handing over a wad of cash.
Step 4 is usually buyer's remorse a week later, but then they grow on you and become part of the crazy family and you can't imagine life without them. :)

Let's see how this thing pans out Mr. Handsome....

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Weekend Pix & Books

I had hoped to sit down tonight and write a post but I am knackered. Today we went hiking with Ben, then swimming, then to a party for a friend. Now we are home, the boys are zonked out in bed and I can barely muster the energy to upload a few pictures. But what a great day we had!

Cheeky Speedster

Little champion bike-rider

Hiking at a local park

Future Olympiad?

Two things to add - Ben had started weeing in the front room when we are gone. And damn it our carpet steamer just broke. Murphy's Law at its finest. HOW do I stop that?

 And I finished Code Name Verity and had a little cry at the end. What a great book. Next up it's  1493 by Charles C Mann. Also, I am 455th on the reserve wait-list for Gone Girl at my library and I still have my Johnny Cash bio to finish.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sleepover take-2 & Great Book

They should start a boy-band
Last night Jack had his second sleep-over and this time he stayed all night. I have a sneaky feeling it's because the mom went to bed before him  and he didn't want to tell his friend's dad that he wanted to come home. All 3 boys stayed over for the first time. Jack's very proud of himself and was happy this morning when I got him. By comparison, I was a wreck. I went to bed at 11.30pm and woke up at 3am and lay there imaging all kinds of horrid stuff, like you do at night. When the mom texted me at 8 am I pounced on the phone next to my bed like a ninja. I also had a pain in my chest all night. Not kidding. When I was getting ready to go and get him Craig said good morning and I told him to go back to sleep, that I was going to get Jack, and he said "Yeah I know. I haven't slept either and can't wait to see him". He's only six and it's hard to put trust in other parents I suppose.

Last night we went to a party to celebrate the PhD of one of our friends, Ed. I've known him since 1998 in England so it was especially poignant for me. He may have to leave to get a job elsewhere but I'm hoping we can keep him. His research is ground-breaking and could possibly bring in $$$$$$ in research funding. I reactivated my status as a PhD student last week and hope to have it done by 2014. Fingers and eyes crossed for me please.

Because being up since 3 wasn't hard enough I spring-cleaned my house today and got ten vacuum canisters of hair and dirt!  I probably shouldn't share that on the Internet and now you all think I'm a dirty bugger but it's one of those gross things I always find fascinating and have to share - like childbirth and sun burnt skin and big scabs. ha ha ha. It's so nice having no laundry to do and a clean house. In one hours time the whole process will start again, like a juggernaut of mess.

I am nearly at the end of a great book - "Code Name Verity" by Elizabeth Wein. It's about two girls in WW2 and of course I have fallen in love with their characters and I'm 50 pages from the end and things are not good. Fact -  English people are still very much in tune and obsessed with WW2 (and WW1 actually). Even my nieces and nephews that are in their 20's are very aware of all the history. By comparison I would say that most Americans of my generation and younger know nothing or don't care about WW1 or WW2.  Maybe because they weren't bombed?

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Scary Times

I signed up to a local neighbourhood crime watch Facebook page and it's become something of a double-edged sword. It's helpful to know about crimes and we can all keep a watch for each other, and we also post about lost dogs and street lights and other things. But knowing about all the crime can also be unnerving and most unsettling has been the realisation that police are too swamped to deal with non emergencies and even if they do arrest someone that person gets off.

There are three brothers (in their twenties) that live one street up from us that have crime sheets as long as my arm. All of them have been done recently for burglaries in the area. Our neighbours caught one of them trying to steal their car last week and got him arrested. But none of them are in jail. I don't get it. A comment was made on the Facebook page that police are asking neighbourhood watch groups to help, because they can't do anything. Help? Help how? I think we all saw what happened when an overzealous neighbourhood watchman goes after someone (Zimmerman & Martin). It's all a bit worrying. Craig and I drove past their house a couple of times today and it has a realtor sign outside saying "Sale Pending". Maybe they lost the house, but they still list it as their home when they get arrested (we've seen the charge sheets online). Maybe they are squatting there. A friend who lives near them is going to keep an eye on the place to see if they are in there. Another friend who lives alone is quite rightly frightened. Maybe this is what the police meant - keep the pressure on the criminals and be watchful.

In the meantime, we are extra careful about home security. And it helps having a dog it really does.

Maybe we should get another dog. Ben would like that a lot.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Pools & Tats

It's been a great weekend so far. I finally talked to my mum and finally got a bit of grass seed out in the back garden. My poor lawn is showing the effects of severe drought, dog pee and 2 kids playing. "Crispy" is probably the word to describe it right now.

We went swimming last night and today and we both said for the 1,000th time that it's been the best thing we could of done, getting membership to the place. All four of us love it and the boys' swimming ability has just got better and better. I wish I was better at it all. I can swim but don't like to put my head under - I have panic attacks actually and have convinced myself I must have drowned in a previous life.

Nice handstand Jack! Just don't ask mummy to do it. 
We got our rain barrel set up today and I'm so excited about it (the top is temp. till we get a better cover). The plan now will be to make sure mosquitoes don't get in there because they have been terrible this summer. But if it ever rains (seriously - we have a nasty drought at the minute) then we are going to be able to catch it and use it to water plants. Also, a friend told me that washing my hair in rain water will make my hair feel wonderful. Can't wait to try it out!

Just looking at it makes me feel like an Earth Goddess!  
Not much else to report - we are all happy & healthy, watching the Olympics like everyone else. My 3 Pam upgrades are slow in coming (haircut, tattoo, weight loss). I am thinking constantly about the tat. I want it to mean something without being cheesy.  This seems really really classy though  - no? ..

Talking of tattoos - Lady Gaga's  friend is completely covered in them and he took part in a commercial that shows what he looked like before he had them. I think it's interesting so thought I'd share it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

One of Those (pms) Nights

I should probably start this post by saying that this is the week I usually turn into the woman who shouldn't be crossed so I apologise if I seem a bit scary.  PMS definitely gets worse as you get older.

After un-subscribing from several people on Facebook I decided that it would be nice to go to the library and then grocery shopping with my boys tonight, leaving Craig at home to get some stuff done. The library wasn't too bad but the trip to the supermarket was horrendous. One the way in I got pestered by a woman saying she was from a charity and asking me for money. She wasn't by the shop door - she was out roaming the parking lot so I said no and she made some comment about my kids being cute which made me mad. I'm not keen on strangers making over-friendly comments about my kids (did I mention I have PMS?)  Then in the shop, Jack wanted me to buy him everything and it is tiring saying no, no, no, no, no for 30 minutes and Danny kept climbing out of the cart. The usual hi jinks.
On the way back out to my car with boisterous kids and a cart full of shopping the same woman pestered me again and we had this exchange:
me - I already told you no.
her - God bless you then, cute kids
me - silence
her - I said God bless you, what's your problem?
me - I don't want to take my kids shopping and get solicited on the parking lot
her - blah blah blah
By this point I'm in my car and the damn thing stalled when I started it and she laughed at me. Damn the car! Why couldn't I have made an elegant exit instead of having her cackling at me. Thankfully my car did start and I gave her a rather unceremonious finger as I pulled away.
Then I got home and wrestled shopping bags and bags full of library books into the house while there's a police helicopter circling over the house and the kids start playing up and screaming.
Craig looks at me and says - glass of wine honey?
me - why yes, yes I will. For once, during PMS week, my hubby got it 100% right :)

Time to Block Two Muppets

Bradley Wiggins: As English as Crumpets!
I have got to start blocking people on Facebook, even though the thought makes me feel bad. Two 'friends" of mine have been really bugging me all day.

One keeps going on about Bradley Wiggins being Belgian.  Yes, he was born in Belgium before moving at age TWO and living his entire life in England. His mum is English, his family are English. He's even got a ridiculously English name, though not as quintessential as Benedict Cumberbatch. So you see he's English and therefore on Team GB. Get a grip!

The other keeps posting about how great it is eating at Chick-fil-A all day today. He keeps announcing over and over about supporting them and eating there. Why you would advertise being a raging homophobe so loud and so often baffles me.

So you see both of them have stressed me out today. Time to block them I think.