Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Happy Autumn Day

We had a great day today. We decided to ignore house and yard work and just have fun with the boys. I'm glad we did.
Gently does it Jack Sparrow
Jack spent most of his pocket money on a skateboard so we got him some pads and took him to a skate park. He loved it and did quite well so we'll have to keep him motivated. I'm thinking it will be a great pastime in winter too if we can find an indoor park. There was another 6 year old there so he didn't feel as self-conscious in front of all the cool boys. Danny took his scooter and did some death-defying stunts down the ramps. He is definitely not the cautious one!

Jack with his Daddy
After the skate park we went to a pumpkin farm where they have bounce houses and a hayride to get your own pumpkins. What a fab time we had there.

Cheeky Monkey with his Pumpkin
Danny sat with another family on the hayride which was hilarious but also a bit humiliating. What must they have thought of us?? We all had far too much candy corn and pumpkin glazed donuts and slushies.  That's enough sugar for the whole month right there.

Now Craig and Jack have gone for a bike ride and Danny and I are lounging on the couch with the dogs, watching telly.  Sorry I didn't make too many phone calls back to England today, but the bright blue sky and the chance to spend time with the boys was just too good an opportunity to miss.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Scary Stuff & Haircuts

Another wacky week under my belt.  Gosh, where to start?  Maybe with Halloween..

In their secret lair
Jack is obsessed with Halloween and already has his whole outfit. He will be a werewolf this year. I can't drive past a shop with scary stuff in the window without him begging to go and see it all. 

Just wrong
He's not frightened at all. This would make me scream then have a massive heart attack. Seriously.

Danny has told me that he does not want to dress up so I'm not pushing him. I've learnt that it's best for him to see Jack do something and think he's missing out, then he'll ask to join in. If I try and involve him at this point he'll say no and have nothing to do with it. What a complicated boy he is.

Both boys got hair cuts this afternoon. Picture days at school are coming up and yes I want them to look their best. Last year I made the photographer takes Jack's picture again because his hair was all greased down in an odd way and I was later saying something about it at school and found that that his teacher did it. Ooops.

LOVE the boys' barber shop

A couple of other things going on:

Coco is driving me insane by messing in the house. I have tried all sorts of training techniques to no avail. Last night I had to strip my bed TWICE because she weed on there. Little nightmare!  We are obviously not taking her back to the pound but she's testing me beyond my limits! AND she has dug holes in my garden and wrecked the lawn. I'm very upset with her right now.

We have another chocka weekend of sports and dinners (and sodding the back yard) planned but I WILL be calling my family and friends in Old Blighty! Just my luck they'll all be out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Most Terrible Supervisor to Walk the Earth

I am not a good people manager/supervisor. Terrible actually. I think I'm good at my job and I am really productive and self-motivated but ask me to supervise people and I start to lose sleep.  For one thing, I would just rather do it myself because I think I can do it better. And I squirm from having to interact constantly to make things happen. In fact sometimes I downright hide from people. Shameful isn't it. And I also don't like the whole discipline thing. I have always been highly motivated so never got disciplined and so I don't like to dish it out. Even when I should.

If I was a "project manager" I would probably tell you what kind of personality I have in the business world because all this must mean something. I know this because some time ago I worked with a project manager that made me take a personality test before we worked together. He wanted to see how we'd interact. I hated that test with a vengeance and it's left somewhat of a bitter taste in my mouth about "project managers" ever since. I don't need a project manager telling me what needs to get done. I know what needs to get done. I need someone to help me get it done! It's like someone following you around while you are cleaning your house saying "If you had a better vacuum cleaner this wouldn't take as long. Oh and the curtains need a wash - I'll put that on your schedule for 5am tomorrow okay darling?" Yes, project managers are that annoying.

Sooo, back to my original point. I do not like supervising people but I always seem to be. Right now I'm employing 2 people (soon to be 3) and overseeing 3 student workers. As usual I have taken on 99.9% of the work and they come and go and try to help or ask for guidance and I just get irritated and shoo them away.

But not tonight. Tonight I just cracked and had had enough! I sent out a half dozen emails and dished out responsibilities for the next few days. And they had better just get on with it. And oh it felt good.  I think I have crossed a barrier and there's no turning back (sorry if that's cheesy but that's how I feel). I guess I got to the point where I was so busy that I looked around and saw all these people that should be helping me and I finally asked them to.

Why don't I do this more often?  I might actually sleep tonight.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Eight Days Later

What a wonderful whirl-wind week! (try saying that after a few sherries). In the last eights days we've had 2 soccer practices, 1 soccer game, 1 elementary school open house, I've read 2.5 books, we've wood-stained the play set and done some yard work, took the kids to a pumpkin farm, visited the food truck event, and watched a couple of good movies. Oh, and worked full time. No wonder I look like I'm about 110 years old.

Here's some pictures from a few of the fun times....
Cheeky Monkeys (taken by Susan, awesome photographer)
In the hay maze

Coco Bean

At the pumpkin farm in my cheery sweatshirt

The books I read were:  "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio, about a 10 year old boy with severe facial deformities that's been home-schooled but then goes to a mainstream school. It was so sad and courageous and wonderful. I definitely recommend it.

Then I read Hunger Games Part 2 "Catching Fire" and now I'm half-way through the 3rd part "Mockingjay". The Hunger Games have been something I've really enjoyed so far, now I'm just impatient for the 2nd and 3rd films to come out. I'm not really into sci-fi  books (other than Lord of the Rings I suppose) and I've never been a big Harry Potter fan, but I've really got into this series. It's marvelous!

Two movies we watched were The Lorax (kids loved it and watched it twice) and Project X which is about a teen party that gets out of control. It was funny and absolutely horrifying all at the same time. Then this week I saw that it's been happening in real life in Australia and Germany. At one party 3,000 people showed up!  The film must have spurred people on, coupled with posting the events on Facebook. I am not going to tut-tut because in the old "Animal House" days of my youth I had some pretty extreme parties too. I remember one where about 100 people from the pub piled back to my house and my mum and Tom had to call the police to get rid of everyone!  If Facebook had been around in those days I have no doubt that it would have been epic! ha ha ha (sorry mum)

Here's the trailer....

Monday, September 17, 2012

Danny the Brave

Showing me his science project - mixing colours!
Well this morning went as expected so I shouldn't act surprised. It was Danny's first day in a new environment - science enrichment class. He'll still go to his normal classroom during the week but Mondays will be a new thing.

I did my best to jolly him along this morning and Craig had written him a little note to tuck into his pocket, that said how proud he was of him and how much he loved him. But as the time got nearer to going he got quieter and quieter and then flat out said he was frightened and didn't want to go.

By the time we got to pre-school I was just talking nonsense, "Oh, look at all the acorns Danny!", hoping he'd come out of his mood. It took me 10 minutes to get him to go into the room then another 5 to calm him down. He was crying very hard and begging me not to make him do it.  I can't blame him - new room, new teachers, new students. He is terrified of new things. He said that he wanted to be in Mr's N's class (his regular teacher who he's with two days a week) and he completely shunned all attempts by his new teachers who tried to coax him round. I was a bit miffed as he didn't have a peg for his coat or a name badge, like all the other kids. His teacher acted surprised that she had completely left him out of his first day's proceedings (she really is very old, so who can blame her for forgetting such things. But let's hope she doesn't forget she's left him out in the playground one day).

Anyway, when he was semi-quiet, still sat on a chair in the corner ignoring everyone with hood up and head down, I told him I was going to hand in some paperwork at the office. When I got there, the director of the place was so concerned and so nice that she went to get Danny's regular teacher Mrs N, to go up to his new room to comfort him. Mrs N & I have become quite friendly this year so when she was so kind and when I thought about his little note in his pocket from his dad I got a bit upset. So I gave her a few moments to see to him then went up to the room.

She was lying on the floor next to him, reading one of his favourite books and stroking his back and he was lying face-down on the carpet with his hood up not acknowledging her at all. At the end of the book she told me to follow her out and she closed the room door. She told me nicely to leave - that he'd be okay and to just leave for work. She gave me a big reassuring smile and we talked for a few seconds about the fact that he has to try new things. Just because he's frightened doesn't mean we take him out of those situations. That wouldn't do him any good in life. But you know, he's just 3 years old, so it's hard.

As I was walking out to my car two things weighed on me and bothered me. I hadn't said goodbye to him, after promising him that I'd stay if he needed me to,  and I just knew that he was was not going to be forced in to liking this. There was no way he was going to sit up and say "okay, I'll give it a whirl!" That is not Daniel's way of handling things.

When I got to my car I realised that I did not have my keys so I had a mild panic & retraced my steps but then had a vague memory of dropping them in Danny's bag with the paperwork. So I made my way back to the building. It occurred to me that Mrs N's room overlooks the parking lot and I hoped she wasn't wondering why I was coming back. But the second I walked into the front door I heard him. Loud sobs that were not crocodile tears or tantrum antics. This was a terrified boy that was crying so hard he was hysterical. I should never have left him. I'm his mum and I know best.

 His new teacher had hold of his hand and told me the other kids were going to the playroom and that he refused to go but she obviously couldn't leave him in the room on his own. I took him and calmed him down and promised him I'd stay (Again. And there's no way a teacher was going to make me break that promise again). After a few moments I persuaded him to go to the playroom with me. I had to carry him in when he made a dash for the exit and he kept his arms around my neck for a long time. After 5 minutes he spotted his favourite tricycle and gingerly crept over to it. He would walk two steps and turn around to make sure I was still there. Then he sat on the bike and he was off. I thought yea! Then he stopped and turned to me very seriously and said "walk with me" so we did this thing where he rode and I walked (well trotted/puffed and sweated) until he forgot I was there and did his own thing.

After the playroom he was like a different boy and when we headed back to the classroom he looked okay. I called him over and said "Can moma go to work now?" and he gulped and looked a bit nervous but then nodded. I must admit that I got a bit teary-eyed on the way back to the car again.

When I picked him up it was busy as usual, parents all waiting for their little ones and teachers trying to turn kids over safely. His teacher passed him off to me and smiled a huge smile and said "He didn't want to leave".  Typical!  I'm so happy for him because that was a big hurdle for him today and he did it. I'm very proud of him.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

So Long Tent!

Right now I'm badly sun burnt and incredibly tired. We took on too much this weekend but when I look back at it all there's nothing I would have dropped.

BUT in the meantime I missed a phone call from my mum before her week long holiday and also from my dad & Shelia. I didn't get a chance to call & wish our best friends Sue & Lee "Happy Anniversary" and Happy Birthday to Elijah. And I also need to send birthday presents for their boys. I'm so sorry that I'm behind with these important things. I love these people very much so I'm sorry I have not been able to call (the 5 hr. difference does not help). x

On Friday night Craig and I went for dinner and a walk around a park. We had a babysitter for 2 hours - what a trooper she is too. Love her. The boys watched The Lorax and loved it (I caught most of it and liked it too).

On my date with Craig. Rivers European Beech & me
Saturday morning Jack had a soccer game. He scored a goal and did so well. He's finally getting into it after 2.5 years of playing and he actually gets stuck in. I'm dead proud of him.

Saturday afternoon I took Jack to a birthday party for 2 hours. I trapped my finger in a chair's metal hinge as I sat down and it hurt like hell and I shouted out "Jesus Christ!" when it happened, to find 50 people staring at me opened-mouthed. Other than that it was ace. Oops.

Saturday tea-time we set off to go camping. NIGHTMARE. We got lost due to road works, arrived too late so put tent up in semi-dark. Daniel was the devil himself with several tantrums and screaming on the site (the shame!!!). Dogs were fed-up and Coco barked at everyone who walked past (the shame!!!) and Jack chattered non-stop. I told Craig I wanted to just run away and he said "make sure you take me".  Add all this to really cold night so we were all freezing (kids and Coco suffering the most)  and a very high amount of condensation so all of our bedding and clothes were wet. Wet and cold all night long.

Sunday morning 7am: Daniel wakes everyone up by spraying DEET bug spray all over us in the tent and then both boys were jumping on the airbeds until Coco was so scared that she peed. I wanted to kill myself at this point. I will never. EVER. sleep in a Fing tent ever again. Ever. Never. So we got it all packed away and had some nice times (not fun at this point)  at the campsite then set off to hike at Old Man's Cave.

Hocking Hills State Park

Mum: Daniel do NOT climb that rock (next to 200 ft. steep cliff).  Daniel: Ahhh, a challenge!

Lower Falls with no "falls" (bad drought year)

How tired is Ben? Awwww, bless 
Tonight we had a picnic with friends at their church, which was great. We had lovely food, met lovely people and spent a little time with the adults.  Both boys loved it  and played in the bouncy castle and dunk-tank and scooters but by 7.15pm Danny went into melt-down mode again so we came home and gt them to bed. I think Danny's issue this weekend has been a lack of sleep and a lack of attention. Jack just grabs so much.

Much later tonight we unloaded all of the camping stuff then got ready for both boys at school tomorrow. I am dreading it. It will be a new teacher and a new class for Danny and he'll hate it. What was I thinking?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cars & Hostas

Craig has a new car! Well not a car actually, a huge joy-ride of a truck. A Ford F150 Lariot to be exact. It's humongous but he LOVES it because he can throw a deer in the back and it will be a great camping vehicle. I think he has secret plans for towing a boat at some point too!

I love it, believe it or not

Barely fits on the drive

A quick story about Danny today - Linda told him that she needed to go in the house to use the loo and he said "No Linda it's okay, just pull your pants down and wee on the Hostas!"

Ben. That's one contented dog. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Roller Coaster Day

Danny, Champion of the World
Today was a roller-coaster of a day.

Danny woke up at 4.45am saying he'd had a bad dream and needed to pee. I think he was nervous about pre-school. I couldn't get back to sleep then of course because I had all kinds of work and family stuff racing through my mind.

Danny did great at pre-school. There's 12 kids in his class but there was just 6 for his orientation this morning. He was about 3-6 inches taller than anyone else and the only boy too! I think by the time all 12 are in the room there will be at least one other boy and I don't think it's a bad thing at all if he's the oldest and the tallest. Maybe it'll help build a bit of confidence in him. His teachers said he did great, was a big help and they think he'll be a class leader. And he made a new friend, Lucy. He told me he liked it and seems excited about his next day there, so a complete success I believe!

This morning I got a text from one of my students asking to be excused from class because his best friend died last night. Then I got an email from the university informing me that it was another one of my students that had died. He was only 21. Heart failure I think. It's hit me quite hard even though I didn't know him well and I can't stop thinking about his poor parents.  And of course it's a sad day anyway. The old memories and feelings from 9/11 have been lurking inside me all day.

So tonight Craig and I took the dogs and boys to the park but came home rather quickly. I'd rather brood at home than in a park full of chatty people. And I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.

On the way home we saw a young couple with two boys, similar in age to our boys, looking at the house for sale across from us. That has perked me up a bit. And Craig got me some fluffy Ohio State socks when he ran out for groceries. You can't beat comfy socks when you are feeling a bit blue! So I'm going to lie back with a glass of wine and read my second book "Catching Fire" in the Hunger Games trilogy. I'm only 45 pages in and loving it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Keep on Truckin'

Craig sold his Jeep so he can buy a truck. He wants to take it hunting and he's made a good case about it being a great camping vehicle and even went so far as to suggest that I wouldn't even feel the weight of a boat on the back (nice try honey).  I totally understand the hunting thing. Particularly since he had to drag the 8-point buck he got last year and manhandle it onto a shelf on the back of his Jeep and bungee cord it on!  He probably gave several people on the freeway a heart attack on his way to the butchers.

So we've been looking for small/midsize trucks with 4x4 and 4 doors. We like the Honda Ridgeline and Ford Explorer SportTrak. I have steered away from a Ford F150 (pictured below) because they are HUGE and it seems, well just too much. They have  a 5.7 liter engine and get about 12 mpg for heaven sake!

After 3 weeks of looking he's been getting a bit fed-up. It seems like people are not selling trucks unless they have 150k miles on them and they are beaten up. Our friend Christ took him to the auction again but same thing there. Tonight we test drove this muther....

Biiiiiig Truck. Check out the dude in the pink shades!
And I liked it! Fittingly, country music was on the radio when we got in. Craig said all he needed was a Yorkie Bar and we'd have been set. So he might get it. I think it's fair to say that we have embraced this American life!

Yorkie tv ad from 1976!....

Sunday, September 09, 2012

My Gyno & Good Weekend!

On Friday I went to see my gynecologist for my annual check-up but I had skipped a couple of years so hadn't seen her for a while. I got a sound telling-off because I need to go each year, seeing as I'm old and I've had a couple of scares before in the old nether-regions. Anyway, she said all looked good "down there" but I'll wait on the results for the final ok. Why am I posting about this you might ask? Well she no longer delivers babies and that made me sad. I asked her when she stopped  and she said 2009!  and then I thought Oh, crap maybe wrestling Danny out of me was too much to bear!  She said no, laughing, and that she wants to spend time with her daughter and then I said "she's ten, right? and she looked at me like I was a stalker - like why would you know my daughter is ten?  Well because when I had my issue down there I remember her telling me that her daughter was 1 and that was 11 years ago. I'm so glad that she delivered both of my boys as she made both a wonderful experience and she showed up to deliver Danny in a snow emergency. And during my issue she was wonderful - so calm and full of knowledge that I know if I have any other issues in the future she will make it bearable. I'm just saying that I really like my Gyno!

So switching tracks, and on to the weekend ..

What a great weekend but it went so fast. Wayyyy too fast. I can't even remember what we did on Friday night I'm so discombobulated!  On Saturday we had a soccer game for Jack and he scored two goals! He's on a team with 3 friends from school, including his best friend Wesley.

Jack & Wesley
Then we took the dogs to a local festival and Danny was in the bounce house the whole time. We couldn't get him out and actually didn't try too hard. Watching that boy bounce is joy in itself.
Danny, with balloon sword and scabbard
What else? Well Craig has sold his Jeep and is looking for a truck. The boys have watched The Lion King twice this weekend and loved it. Absolutely loved it to the point were they have been drawing pictures of Simba, and I did housework today with such gusto that now I need to lie down and die. :)

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Open House at Danny's Pre-K

Scientist Danny & Mrs N.
Tonight was the open house at Danny's pre-school. He went last year and by the end of the year he accepted it and liked it. Didn't love it. Liked it.

So,  we've signed him up for the same room and same teachers because he is a bit scared of new situations and I want him to really enjoy his time there this year. He'll go 2 mornings a week with Mrs N & Mrs J.

An added confidence booster (you would think), is that he sees Mrs N every day because she picks her children up from the same elementary school that Jack goes to. So Danny sees her ALL THE TIME and she's unbelievably friendly and sweet to him and he's still nervous of her! Hides behind Linda's legs. He's promised her that tomorrow he won't. I bet he does.

Can you tell I'm nervous about him starting next week?

But tonight he did GREAT! He was social and confident and talked to both teachers and really had a good time.

I felt so confident about the whole thing that I got carried away & signed him up for an extra morning there.  He's going to do pre-k science! They investigate bugs and soil and plants and volcanoes and cars and all sorts of cool stuff he'll love. He'll love it. Or he'll HATE it and make a huge fuss and I'll have to withdraw him in shame. No gray areas with Daniel!  I am also a tad nervous about this Monday deal because his teacher is old (80's probably) and not very cuddly. My friend Heather got taught by this teacher when she was in pre-k and her step-dad tonight told me she's so old she teaches alchemy! Joke. My neighbours grown-up kids (late 30's) got taught by her too, so they will find it hysterical that she's still teaching! I'm trying to be somewhat PC so will not say anything else, other than she looks ancient, like she's 102.  And to add to the circus that is Mondays, her assistant is clinically blind, so between the pair of them I see Daniel getting up to all kinds of mischief.

Lastly, two things happened tonight that made me swallow really hard to stop myself from crying. Danny drew a picture of a smiley face and gave it to Mrs N. (gulp one), and then Mrs J (the stern teacher), made such a big fuss of him that I felt so glad he had them on his side. These ladies genuinely care about the kids.  I think this might go okay next week! Or not. :)

Monday, September 03, 2012

Monkey Boy & his Squirrely Sidekick

The flea market this morning was good. The jalapeno and strawberry homemade jam alone was worth the trip (got Quince and rhubarb/strawberry too).  I also ended up with an antique child's deckchair. I had no intention of buying said chair but Danny plonked himself down onto it and the fabric disintegrated in a poof of ancient cloth dust and his bum hit the floor. I was rather hoping the seller would take pity on us when I half-heartedly offered to buy it, but she jumped on it. I did find some outdoor fabric from a recent project though so I'm going to fix it up and make the little bugger sit in it.  As I had predicted, the kids made the whole experience stressful and annoying, constantly complaining or asking for things. I love my children but lordy do they get annoying when I want some "me" time.

I should document that they are both doing something quite funny at the moment. Jack wants to climb every tree. I can't go on a walk without him scurrying up one and he's getting quite good at it. He's climbing the play set too and I've caught him in some precarious situations lately. It's got so bad that I dare not let him play in the garden on his own for fear of him launching himself off the play set bars and into an adjoining tree, injuring himself greatly in the process.

Monkey Boy 

And Danny has taken on squirrel tendencies. He hides shoes and toys and cutlery and I don't know what else. I can only imagine what he has thrown away or hidden lately. I keep finding things pushed under cushions and in little hidy-spots around the house. When I opened a compartment in my car to look for something I found 3 of his summer hats, 10 icy pop wrappers, rocks, acorns, and a handful of small toys. Last week when we got Coco from the pound I got home and found piles of rocks in my handbag! I thought it felt heavy. I'm not sure what it means, other than the fact that it's another Danielism that makes him unique (and funny).

Well back to work tomorrow. Got soccer and an open house for Danel's pre-school this week and then we are hoping, really hoping to take the boys camping soon. I want to go camping so badly!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Packed Labor Day Weekend

What a weekend already! There are English people in town that I am hosting (work stuff) so yesterday I took them to the football game and then hosted a BBQ at the house for them. Between the rain and the mess created by 10 people drinking and eating my kitchen looked like a campsite this morning, with rib bones strewn about, ketchup stuck to plates like concrete and muddy leaves stuck to the floor. Add that to a hangover and it wasn't my favourite morning ever! Thank God for coffee and distracted children (thank you television).

But on the VERY bright side we got our AC unit fixed (thank you Duane!!) so at least I could clean up without sweating profusely and we got to hang out with some of our favourite people for half-an-hour while it got fixed.

This afternoon we took the Brits to The US National Air Force Museum in Dayton. I LOVE that place and will never get bored of it.

Space commander cheeky-monkey pants
I have been to the museum a dozen times but always see something new.  Today I saw the exhibit of the Hurricane plane and English alert station that they used during the Battle of Britain.  There was a roll-call book of all the Battle of Britain, listing all who were involved and there was a story of Billy Fiske, the only American to die during the historic battle. He pretended to be a Canadian so that he could join the Royal Air Force (the USA were neutral in 1940 so no Americans were allowed to participate) and he died after his plane was hit and he crash landed. He's buried in Sussex but there is a memorial to him in St. Paul's Cathedral that says "An American citizen who died so that England might live". I got a bit choked up at that. Hard not to I think. How brave they all were!

After we dropped the Brits off at a bar we came home and we are getting ready to watch "American Pie Reunited".   I loved that whole group of friends and can't wait to watch it. I hope Stiffler is still stiffling!!!!  

Tomorrow we are going to a big flea market. I'm so excited because I love flea markets!  If I ever have time away from the kids (say for my birthday) I don't want to go to a posh spa. I want to go to a huge, mother f'ing flea market the size of Texas and just wander and mooch and pick things up and browse without having two monkeys behind me and on me.  We are going to be meeting friends there so hopefully the boys will let me enjoy it just a teensy bit.