Sunday, February 26, 2012

End of Weekend Round-up

It's hard to type when you've got a dog lying on you and your computer. It's even harder to sleep while he's lying on your legs. Ahhhhh Ben, the loopy mutt. No change I'm afraid, except that now I've bought a big enclosed crate like a cat carrier that he can't try and chew his way out of, so the hair is growing back around his nose. I nearly took a picture yesterday of Jack in the crate (his new den) and poor Ben stood outside of it trying to get in, but I didn't want children's services banging on my door accusing me of crating my five year old. I did however bring home two great boxes from work last week that they both actually slept in last night, after their bedroom camping trip...

Today was glorious, so after Jack's swimming lesson we took the dogs out for a walk in the sunshine. As an extra bonus, I managed to put Danny's gloves on in one go! Actually it was just on one hand but the sense of achievement was huge. Normally it's like trying to put gloves on a sticky octopus. Anyway, as I was getting the boy's bikes from the basement, Craig was outside with two dogs on the leads and two kids, all being unruly. I heard loud barking and went outside and there's a woman stood at the end of the driveway with a snarling barking dog on a lead that she can barely control and she's saying to Craig "I can't get my dog trained, it's so hard". Craig's ignoring her best as he can and I'm wheeling both bikes out & flashing looks that say "Lady, we have two kids under 5 and two dogs and really don't want to help you train your dog right now". After a few minutes she walked away. Some people are so crazy about their dogs they really believe everyone else should be too don't they. I agree with Ron White on this one - I'm a dog-lover that just loves their own dog.

We got some big things done in the house this weekend, including buying a rug big enough to cover the whole floor in the boy's room. And I bought a cube shelf that the boys helped put together.

We also starting watching Sherlock this weekend and we love it. And what is not to love about Benedict Cumberbatch and his splendid English name! I am also reading a wonderful book. Just a small autobiographical paperback called "Boy" by Roald Dahl but I'm really enjoying it. There are so many similarities from my own childhood when he talks about the local sweet shop and how you acted around adults. It's made me laugh quite a few times but it's also a bit gruesome - a boy's boarding school in 1920s England was definitely not Disney Land.

Lastly, Jack is doing great at school & in life. He brought home "an end of week award" on Friday and his reading is coming along great guns. He's also finishing up grade level 2 swimming. When we got home from the baths today and I was emptying his wet bag I saw that he had taken two lots of Mardi Gras beads with him to his lesson. What a goofball.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dogs & Pancakes

Ben, our new dog, continues to be a complete basket case, eating everything in sight (including Cody's poo. Yes. Really.) and dirt off the floor. Glass too on one occasion. I can only surmise that he's been starving hungry in his past. And he has started jumping onto the kitchen counters when one of us leaves, so he can watch us go from the kitchen window. He's still ridiculously sad when we leave too and bashing his face in, trying to get out of the crate. He has such a sad face sometimes. Tonight I was hugging him and I said to Craig "He looks so sad, bless him" and Craig said "All dogs do Pam, that's why they get fat". Fair point eh!

Yesterday Jack was in his school concert for Black History Month so Craig & I went and loved it. It was ace. He came up to the microphone and said a line in the Ghana language and then announced the next song and said where it was from. He said afterwards that he was nervous but that he wants to act on the telly so he has to get used to it. He doesn't want to be a fireman now because he can't wear shorts all the time, and he has obviously forgotten about his poster outside his classroom celebrating Martin Luther King where he wrote "I have a dream that I want to work at Toys R Us".

It was Pancake Day yesterday too and I posted on Facebook about Jack not liking English pancakes and preferring the American ones and it got loads of comments and even one friend chanting USA USA! I didn't come close to the culinary scuffle that Expat mum's comments about green bean casserole caused though. Obviously food is a popular subject each side of the pond. Must remember that next time I'm having a blogging drought.

Well I'm off to Bedfordshire now. I've been clearing out clutter tonight and it's exhausted me!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mum's Sunday Morning

For the first time in months, I am up on a Sunday morning before the boys. We went to some friend's Mardi Gras party last night and got home late.

Danny on his bike yesterday

The boys ate the entire bowl of purple M&Ms. Jack loved all the beads and booty. At one point party-goers were throwing stuff out of a bedroom window at him, like they do on Bourban Street. Danny had mixed feelings about the whole thing but came home with a pocket full of large shiny coins that he slept with last night.

So this morning I am looking at flights to England. On lots of people's advice I have been using & it does seem to be the best site. I've got 3 price alerts getting emailed to me every day for flights at the end of July, Christmas and general cheapest with no dates. Best so far is $900 each at Christmas and about 300 bucks for a car. We're having second thoughts about Christmas though because of the dogs and the possibility of getting stranded in a blizzard like we did in December 2007. July is the latest we can go because Jack starts school mid-August. I'm enjoying looking though. The planning and expectation is just as exciting as the actual thing sometimes isn't it, like Christmas.

Right then, off to get a coffee and then muck about on Pinterest for 10 minutes. This house is so quiet! Ahhhh..

Friday, February 17, 2012

One Lucky Lady

This lad flatly refuses to wear long pants or long sleeved t-shirts all year round. Just like his dad.

Talking of his dad he gave me a marvelous Valentine's Day this year. I got a bunch of flowers and a present from the boys. On Valentine's Day morning Craig called me from work and I answered the phone in a stressed voice "hello!" He asked if I was ok and I said "No, not really. Jack won't get out of bed and we're late, and Cody & Ben are midering around my legs and Danny just threw up on the kitchen floor (drank milk too quick)", then he asked for Jack and I thought it was to tell him to help me more, but Jack trotted off to the bedroom and came back with a beautifully wrapped gift with a big red bow on the top. It was a cute bag full of Clinique perfume (Happy - my favourite!) and toiletries.

Talk about feeling guilty! Not only did I snap at Craig on the phone but I didn't get him anything. Crap crap wife.

After I opened the present and told Craig & the boys thank you, Jack gave me a kiss and a hug and then Danny looked at me imploringly and said "Mama, can I please give you a kith?" and my heart just plopped right out and landed on the floor and Ben ate it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Danny's 3-Year Stats

It suddenly occurred to me tonight that I haven't posted about Danny's 3-year well visit and his stats, so here goes.

Our lad weighs 38.5 lbs (in the 93rd %ile). In comparison, Jack weighed 35 lbs at the same age.
Danny is 41 inches tall (97th %ile) and Jack was 40 inches tall. I know all of this is totally boring for you but I like to keep track.

And talking of keeping track, I am back on my healthy-living drive. For some reason I just haven't been able to get into the right mindset but I am determined to lose mumble mumble pounds before Jack's birthday. I saw this idea on Pinterest and I'm going to do it. I need a little motivation and I don't have the time or the desire right now to join back up to Weight Watchers because the last group I joined wasn't great and the leader actually annoyed me so much I stopped going. So let's see how I do on my own.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Superfast Weekend

It's hard to believe it's Sunday night already. Weekends fly by with laundry and housework and swimming lessons and before I know what's happening we're packing school lunches again. We also have to write forty two Valentine's Day cards before Tuesday! That's more than I've ever got in my life, times four. Hells bells!, as my Geordie mate Clippy would say.

On Saturday we took the boys to an indoor bouncy castle place with their friends. When Jack & Wesley broke into some funky dance moves while waiting for their turn on the slide, it cracked me up. There's going to be a talent show at school in May and Jack has told me he wants to do magic tricks and had asked me to make him a black cape and magic wand. Fantastic! I loved all that kind of stuff and was a complete showman myself between the ages of 5 and 10. I used to put on dance shows and charge family money to come and watch me in my Nana's back garden!

Danny & his friend Ryan

We had some snow this weekend but it was really cold so we only ventured out long enough for my ears to freeze and for the boys cheeks to turn scarlet (about 15 minutes!)

Danny & Ben. He calls him Superdog and runs around with him on superhero adventures. Ben gets hugged, jumped on and led around but he doesn't seem to mind. Look at his nose and mouth though - still rubbed raw from trying to fight his way out of the crate. I hope that stops soon.

My new fascination (as well as this and Facebook) is Pinterest and I have been spending far too much time on there, but it's great for tips, recipes and other cool stuff. One idea for Valentine's Day was heart-shaped cinnamon rolls. What do you think? I only made one and gave it to Craig as the boys scarf them down too quick and would eat them if they looked like lumps of coal.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mad Dogs & Englishmen

Ben has severe separation anxiety. Far far worse than Cody did when we first got him. Cody destroyed a few of my shoes, hairbrush and telly remote but he adapted to his crate pretty well for a while and then after about 2 months I think we left him roaming in the house alone and he was okay. Ben however is mad as a box of frogs.

In no particular order this week he has: destroyed the crate (bent the bars!), escaped from the crate twice, annihilated two bath towels, scratched my living room hardwood floor and laundry room floor, eaten chunks out of the couch, chewed Craig's shoes, and drank bleach.

How on earth does a dog drink bleach you may ask? Well he shoves his head in the toilet bowl and laps it up. Craig had to drag him out into the back garden and squirt salt-water down his neck with the turkey baster to make him throw up. Charming. Needless to say we won't be using little blue cleaning tablets in the loo for a while.

In the process of trying to escape from the crate he has done quite a bit of damage to himself and made his own nose bleed. Sigh. I would hate to put the cone of shame on him to stop him damaging his nose any more but I have to do something, poor little love.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Ma'am & Compost

This morning at a drive-through breakfast place (hey sometimes I just need a drive-through breakfast) the girl in window 1 AND the girl in window 2 both called me ma'am. Several times. So either I looked particularly old this morning or it's a new greeting policy which would be very irritating.

Anyway, it suddenly occurred to me that I can't pronounce the US version of ma'am to save my life. Ma'am in America is pronounced "mam" (it is in Ohio at least). But I'm English and we have a Queen and so I have this predisposition to pronounce it "marm". I tried all the way to work to get it right but I just can't do it. It must be so far ingrained in my brain that I just can't do it without feeling silly.

I have the same problem with "compost". It's not so much that I can't pronounce it but I feel odd, like I'm faking the American accent. In all the years I've lived here I think it's only ma'am and compost that makes me feel like that. How odd.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Ben versus Hoover

My older dog Cody hates the vacuum and will run for cover as soon as I get it out. Ben on the other hand has decided that the vacuum is something that must be dealt with head-on. The cheeky monkey even grabbed hold of the electric cord and pulled it out of the wall.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Boys Bedroom Make-Over

This weekend we re-did the boys room as it's been getting on my nerves for a while (like the over-full drawers in the kitchen and the scruffy basement stairs).

But before I do a quick post about that a word about Ben.

He's such a sweet dog and very affectionate but good grief has he got separation anxiety! He follows me to the loo and is so close to me that sometimes I step on his paws. He sleeps with us too and not just at the end of the bed but between us under the covers with his head on a pillow. Really! When Craig and I cuddle in bed Cody would always jump off in disgust but not this boy. He dives in between us and puts a stop to anything that does not involve making a fuss of him. He's too funny and too sweet to be mad at him. The downside to all of this is that he's terrified of the dog crate and tries to chew himself out with such passion that he slobbers all over the place and actually makes his nose bleed. I have to crate him when I'm out as he'd probably chew my whole house, but I'm at a loss of what to do. I bought some rawhide sticks I thought might keep him occupied for a while but he gave himself a bloody nose again today. I have read the "how to crate train your dog" online guide by the way but I don't have a spare 3 weeks to ease him into it in 5-minute stints. People who write those guides must have no job and no kids. I'm hoping that time will make him understand that we are always coming back for him.

So onto the bedroom. When we moved into the house pre-kids we painted it a dirty yellow. I'm sure that wasn't its official name (probably called dandelion spring or something) but that's what it looked like. The room was a spare room, then Jack's nursery and then the boys shared bedroom. So it was a mix of baby-decor, half-hearted attempts at making Danny feel at home and puke yellow walls. I hated it.

So I painted it a Crayola Blue with a white trim, got sand-coloured thermal curtains, decluttered and cleaned the wood floor.

The boys picked their own removable decals. Star Wars for Jack. Cars for Danny. We also treated Jack to new Star Wars bedding.

My favourite thing of the project was taking those doors off the wardrobe. It made the room look miles bigger and I can now use both sides without sliding an annoying door back & to and trapping my fingers.

I am going to get a quote on carpet this week for all 3 bedrooms. Hardwood floors are nice but I must be getting old because I dream of cream-colored fluffy carpet under my feet.

I think the whole project cost us about $110 and it has made a huge difference to the room. No more vomit-yellow walls and clutter!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Manic Mornings & Pre-K Blues

I wish I was a morning person, up with the lark at 6am and singing a happy tune as I got ready for work. I'd have at least an hour to get organized and see to the animals before waking up the boys and I wouldn't get stressed out. But alas, I am a night-owl and mornings see me drag myself out of bed begrudgingly, wondering if it's possible to shower and see to the animals and get both boys awoken dressed , fed and out the door in 40 minutes (I can do that by the way, but it involves completely ignoring myself in terms of dressing & eating). This morning was particularly manic and I could really have done without cleaning up cat barf as well. I also realized (half-way to work) that I had dropped Danny off at pre-school and forgotten to give him any breakfast. One blessing I suppose is that he isn't a big eater and probably didn't think about it. Maybe he was motivated enough at snack time to wash his hands too, without being coerced by his teachers. Still, it's not a parenting moment that I'm proud of.

Talking of pre-k, we have some decisions to make. Danny hates it with a passion and complains bitterly each morning when he knows he has to go. It's quite strict and even though I am strict myself and want him to get ready for kindergarten, I also want him to have fun. He's three and I think he should be spending his time laughing and having fun. If we put him in a learning environment at this age that's boring and stern I'm fairly sure he's not going to embrace it anytime soon. One of his teachers doesn't even crack a smile and today I tried very hard to remember anything positive that she's said about him and I can't think of one. Not one. Every day it's "he didn't have a great day" or "he wouldn't ..... (fill in the blank)". The second teacher in the room is very smiley and nice by the way.

I know that he's headstrong but he's polite, loving and would never ever hurt another child or do something very naughty. He just likes to do his own thing and not be forced to do something against his will. There are about 12 kids in the class and it's expected that they all sit down and listen, or all sit down and do a craft and he just says "no". So the question is - how does a teacher handle that? As his mum, I can tell you that it takes unwavering discipline, reason and kindness. I also pick my battles and sometimes the red curtain comes down and I turn into Momzilla but that's another story. The easy way out is to ignore him, let him do what he wants and then complain about him. I have an uneasy feeling that's what's happening here, perhaps because they are busy and can't spend too much time just with one little stinker.

For example, on Tuesday when I went to get him he was stood by the loo, holding himself and crying big, real tears. The teacher told me very sternly that he had been putting lots of toilet paper down the toilet. I told her equally sternly that he's never done that at home (probably because I sit with him, you know, seeing as he's just potty training). Danny told me that he needed to use the potty and she said no - he's just putting paper down the loo. Now I don't want to be the kind of mum that questions the teacher (God knows, they have a hard job. I know because I am one) but he's learning to use the loo, he's mischievous and needs watching but there is no need to be unkind and make him cry. Our Jack's pre-school teacher was the kindest woman to walk the earth and I hoped all pre-k teachers would be like that. I'll just have to have a chat with her at the next conference & take it from there.

3 Month Catch-up

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