Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

The snow has been such good fun for the boys. They have spent the last few days sledding, making snow men, hanging out with friends, making snow forts and more sledding. Daniel has eaten his weight in snow. We spent one evening at the zoo lights and I must have said "Daniel stop eating snow" 1,000 times.
Jack & his school friends. How cute is this picture. 
Yesterday Char & Jan arrived for a few days. Craig cooked a lovely pork roast dinner and we had a sit-down meal. Jack joined us but Danny just ran around showing us his muscles and his dance moves.  We also had dinner with Yorkshire Puddings! And I made them. Look at these beauties! My friend from Yorkshire sent me a hilarious and very good recipe  - if anyone wants to get a copy let me know.

I am the Yorkshire Pudding Queen 
We'll be meeting up with C&J tonight at our friend  Eric's New Years Eve party. We are only going for an hour or so and then ringing in the New Year at home with our lads. Perfect.

An effective way of getting Danny to look at the camera!

So tomorrow brings 2013. There will be lots for us to do: A trip to Disney World. Visits from my mum & Tom and my dad & Sheila. Lots of teaching and new things to develop and learn at work. A boy turning 4 and a boy turning 7.  And my resolutions? Well here is last years list and the outcomes:


* To lose weight again. I am fully aware that this will require a change of lifestyle but who knows, maybe I'll get to that this year! FAIL

* To be a diaper and sippy-cup free house. After five years and a couple of grand worth of diapers I cannot wait to be done with them. FAIL. He still uses diapers at bedtime and refuses to drink out of anything but a sippy cup. 

* To refinance the house (yes), pay off my car (2 more months!), roll in my English pension with my American one (nope) and officially start college plans for the boys (yes)

* To go home to England (this will require new passports for us all too) FAIL, but we do have new passports

* To get my mojo back at work. Since having the boys the passion for my career has not burned as bright as it used to. I want to go to work dressed to impress, with new ideas and the energy to see them through. FAIL, but I do have new responsibilities. And I have a job. Phew. 

* To help both boys succeed at school, even if it means sitting with them each day to do academic work (not an enticing idea I admit). Success

* To find a babysitter and have adult time with my husband. I have said this every year for five years and not done it. I will this year! Success

* To redecorate the boy's room (yes) and get a breakfast bar in the kitchen (nope). And build a kitchen pantry (nope). And make a new front path and step (nope)House & garden projects never end do they

* To have fun with our English visitors (Craig's mum, dad and nephew) and make sure they have fun, Great Success on this one. 

* Maybe this will be the year we seek US citizenship. Maybe. Maybe Not. Maybe 2013. 

So there you are, I'll be tackling what's left on the list. 
Happy New Year to you all. I hope you are all healthy and happy in 2013.
xxx



Friday, December 28, 2012

Eating Snow

I love this picture of Daniel. And yes, he can't stop eating snow. I'm trying to teach him not to eat dirty snow and yellow snow. Eww! He's such a character this boy. 100% his own personality. Love him to bits.
Tastes like chicken
We've got more snow (4 inches maybe) on the way this evening and really cold temps forecast. I'm enjoying the snowy landscape and the sledding with the kids though. It's especially nice not to be driving in it and having to go to work.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Head Cold from Hell & Jabba the Hut

And so the sickness marches on. Craig has spent several hours in bed today and we are both hacking up and fighting sinus issues. Miraculously, the boys don't have it.

Jabba the Hut
I took them sledding with friends and had a play date, then made a snowman and collapsed, watching telly for the rest of the day.

Of course I still did housework and all the laundry because I'm a freak and I don't know how to rest.

Craig's going to the Docs tomorrow so at least we might find out what it is. I'm personally going to call it the Muther F***** that ruined Christmas.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day

I miss "Boxing Day". It should be mandatory that everyone takes off work between Christmas and New Year but in the very least we all need Boxing Day (December 26th) off work. Alas, in America, December 26th is "Christmas is over" day. Even the Christmas radio channel stopped playing festive stuff today and went back to golden oldies. Jack announced "Christmas is Over!" and I told him it isn't - we will keep our tree up and celebrate until January 2nd. I'm the opposite of Ebenezer Scrooge. More like Pollyanna. It was nice and Christmassy though to Skype with Craig's family today.

Three big things to report today -

First, we had 4 inches of snow!






Second, Craig and I are sick as DOGS. Head colds and weary bones. Being 43 with flu and two rambunctious boys to entertain has not been a pleasant experience. And that has been such a shame. Our poor lads have had to watch copious amounts of telly when they wanted to go outside and play board games and play with us.

Third, we went to a title agency this afternoon to finalise our re-fi on the house. I can't believe that we decreased our mortgage from 23 to 20 years and I'll save several hundred dollars each month. If I didn't feel so crap I'd party like a teenager. And no mortgage payment now till February. That's fantastic too.

So the boys are in bed now and Craig and I are sat with tissues up each nostril watching telly. We  live the rock star life don't we.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

We took the boys sledding on Saturday and to the Fantasy of Lights that we do each year. On Sunday morning our guests headed back to Nashville and we swung into action to get ready for Christmas.

Craig and Danny racing

Jack the lad
On Christmas Eve Craig got sick (cold) so I did some last minute frantic shopping. We narrowly averted a disaster (forgot to get crackers!) but it all came together in the end. I took the boys to a friend's house for a party last night and we had a lot of fun. They are wonderful friends and the kids get along great guns. Craig stayed home and nursed his man flu. The highlight of the party was watching Jack sing "Deck the halls" on their karaoke machine.

When we got home we played bingo with the boys and gave them little prizes, then we put milk & cookies out for Santa, carrots for Rudolph and then we tracked Santa's progress on the computer. When he got to South America we put the boys to bed. They were so excited. I will always remember Jack just giddy at bed time.

I woke up at 4am this morning with the same cold Craig has and took some medicine then crawled back into bed, feeling like crap. The boys bounded out of bed at 7.30am and so began a hectic, fun day! They got lots of presents and enjoyed playing all day and digging into the mountain of English chocolate that arrived.

Danny and Bucky's pirate ship
We skyped and called family and friends and had our dinner (with crackers!) then Craig and I just collapsed for a couple of hours. It's a horrible cold - all in the head and throat and just makes you weary. That's not helpful when you have 2 energetic boys that want to play. Being 43 sucks.

LOVE these sweatshirts we got from England
We took them outside twice to ride their quad bikes but it's very cold. We have a blizzard warning for tomorrow though so I wanted them to use their bikes before we get house bound for a few days.

Boys on their quad bikes
Tonight we have two overly tired boys and I'm ready to get them to bed so we can have some down-time. As much as it's been fun today, these colds Craig and I have have just kicked our butts. Here's hoping we feel better tomorrow.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Visitors & Snow

Just a super-quick post today. We have friends visiting from Nashville who got here Thursday night until tomorrow. They have two teenage girls and it's been very funny watching Jack trying to be a cool dude.
The big news is the snow. Just a couple of inches but enough for the boys to have fun.  I'll try and do a better post later.

My neighbour's lovely house & tree






Thursday, December 20, 2012

Loving Life

I took the day off today. Actually, I am off now until a week on Monday. I am hoping the Christmassy feeling comes back with a vengeance after the last few days.

Today I dropped Danny off at Linda's and cleaned the house, did laundry, wrapped presents and made a house out of a HUGE heavy duty cardboard box I got from work. Jack is sleeping in it tonight and is so excited about it.

Tonight our friends from Nashville are coming in for a wedding and are staying till Sunday. They are bringing two young girls (their nieces) and Jack is beyond excited. He met Bethany a year ago and they got along great.

Tomorrow I am taking Danny to the wedding with me and Jack is going to a friend's house after school. Again, he's beyond excited.

I'm seeing a pattern here - my son really enjoys life! I just realized that. And it makes me very happy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The New 'Norm"?

In the last few days I have read or heard about incidences in Ohio where schools have gone on lock down or pupils have been suspended for making threats and it's very frightening.
At one school in Springfield a boy wrote 'I could do better than 26" on his Facebook page, prompting the school to call police and suspend him. At a middle school a 3rd grade girl has been expelled for making notes and drawings depicting her impending shooting spree, and just today a local high school went on lock down with the news that there was a gun on the premises.
I don't think my heart can take it. Are we going to have to live in a world where every day now we hear of these things? Will I have to worry that my son could be shot at school? He's SIX for God's sake!  I have spent the last few days dragging around a heavy heart, which has been bad enough, but now I have fear too. Real fear that makes me catch my breath.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday Morning Calamity

We had friends Char & Jan stay over last night. They arrived from California and headed up to NW Ohio today to spend Christmas with family. I got up early this morning and took Jack to school, leaving Danny in bed since C&J were in the house. When I got back Ben had pooped on the living room rug so I scooped it up in kitchen roll and flushed it down the loo.

Then...

The loo was blocked and big stinky poo water came floating up to the rim, threatening to overflow.
C&J woke up and needed to use the restroom.
Danny woke up and was soaking wet (accident in bed).
Linda arrived and the dogs went crazy.

Today was one of those days where I just couldn't wait to get to work.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Playing Catch-up

It's been a few days since I last posted but I've been busy and incredibly sad and haven't really felt like blogging. Anyway, here's a quick catch-up of what we've been up to since last Thursday...

On Friday it was the holiday shop at Jack's school. We (the PTA) buy inexpensive small gifts for family & pets and the kids come in with money and buy presents for their family. We help them shop and wrap their gifts. It's so magical to help the kids, especially the younger ones and the kids in wheelchairs. One little boy in a wheelchair who couldn't speak held my hand the whole time we shopped together. It's such a wonderful thing. It makes you a bit sad too, especially for the kids that have no money. We give them Santa cash and let them shop too. I was at the school from 9 till 5 and didn't stop to check the news or anything, so didn't get to find out about Newtown until afterwards.

Parent volunteers at the holiday shop
 Early Friday night was spent watching the telly and crying. Much like everyone else I imagine. I have my opinions on gun control (no need for anyone to own as assault weapon for example) but it doesn't seem like the right time to talk about it. The whole thing is just too big and heartbreaking. As the weekend went on I got more and more upset with the media too. During an interview with the medical examiner who had just been with the children, one journalist asked what the dead children had been wearing. I nearly died! What an absolute crass and outrageous thing to ask! So the telly got turned off and I've tried to avoid it since.

Later on Friday we ran over to my English friend Maureen's house for a party with the Brits. I love Maureen I really do. She is going home for Christmas then we'll be celebrating her 60th in the new year.


On Saturday we took the boys and dogs on a BIG hike. I have a few words of caution that I am writing to myself should I think this is a good idea in the future:
1. Kids will spend the first mile exploring and the next two whining. The whining starts off low and by the time the hike ends will be at tornado siren level, where you just want to put your hands over you ears and run away to a silent place.
2. Having to carry a big nearly-four-year-old on your shoulders for half the hike is miserable
3. Going hiking in the woods during gun-season weekend is not a very bright idea. Seriously, wtf were we thinking? When we got back to the car a truck full of hunters jumped out and walked in where we just came from (gulp).
So you can surmise that instead of being a pleasant family jaunt it was in fact torture. The dogs thought it was great though!
A quick story about Daniel on the hike; I kept hugging him close (who didn't this weekend?) and at one point he said to me "Moma, do you know about personal space?"  Cheeky monkey.


On Sunday Craig made pork pies and did a fantastic job! The best pork pies I've ever eaten.

Then we had a party at a neighbour's house. They invited all the immediate neighbours and we all got along great. Some I knew and some I didn't. The new neighbours that moved in opposite us came and we got along really well. We are now Facebook friends and our 4 boys (more or less all the same age) got along swimmingly too. It's going to be so nice having them so close.

So that's it. It was another busy weekend but one filled with so much sadness. I still cannot fathom why he did it. It is so horrible for the parents that I can't even begin to imagine how they are coping. I hope they get all the love and support they need for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Danny's Concert

Danny (bottom left) and his friend Ryan (top left)
What a day! I have been awake since 5.15am (busy mind) and it was Danny's Christmas concert and party at school. He was nervous at first and cried a bit when we took him to his classroom but he came down the church aisle and stood at the front with all the other kids and he sang! It was such a sweet little performance by them all that I got choked up (of course). I captured a short video of one song and then Santa's visit in his classroom afterwards. He even sat on Santa's knee! How confident our little lad is becoming.

Next I took him to my work party then both boys and Craig helped set-up for the holiday shop at Jack's school tomorrow.

Tonight Craig went off  to buy a couple of gifts and we thought the boys were asleep but as he backed his truck up to the garage to unload them we saw a face peeking out from the bedroom window. What a pair of cheeky monkeys they are. The gifts are now hiding over at the neighbour's house.

Tomorrow I'll be working at Jack's school all day at the holiday shop. I love the holiday shop! It makes me feel good about the world.

video

video

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Party Gimmers

Good grief I'm giddy this evening. I am now off work till Monday!

I've got TWO Christmas parties tomorrow. The first is Danny's Christmas concert at pre-school and the second is my work party and I'm taking Danny with me. We have a white elephant gift exchange and it's cheesy but I love it.

Then on Friday it's the Holiday Shop at Jack's elementary school. Each class comes through and buys presents for their family & pets so we help them shop and wrap their presents. It's a serious case of Christmas magic! If you don't feel full of goodwill during that day then you are an alien.
 Last year I happened to help the child who's mum had died that week. He was autistic and showed up at school on the previous Monday morning on the school bus. When he got off he told the Principal that his mom had been ill and asleep all weekend. When she and the Police went to his house they found her dead. The school district Superintendent raised the money through her church to pay for the mum's funeral. I haven't seen that little boy since. I t was such a heartbreaking story (and I cried a lot over it) but my son's school is so wonderful in how nurturing and loving it is that it makes me proud to be part of it.

Friday night we have a party with the Brits

Sunday we have a neighbourhood party

Are we party animals or what! (no, actually we are not. We are old gimmers).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In Need of Some Cheer

When we posted the Christmas parcels to England on Saturday and the post office lady told us the total $ amount I thought Craig might faint. Instead he leant over and said "That just cost more than our first car when we arrived here". And he wasn't joking. There's no way we can do the same next year!

I am hoping for some good news this week people! This past week a young woman I know died in her sleep leaving her husband and two young kids (aneurysm they say). Then my dear friend Heather had a friend who's 5-year old died in a car crash. I cannot get my head around that. And two people I really like just lost their jobs. And I'm sad all the way around for that nurse that killed herself and the two DJs. I'm so sorry for all of them.  Seriously - is there any good news this week? 

It's 12-12-12 tomorrow which seems like it should be significant but I'm not sure why. The Mayan calendar cycle ends 12-21-12 and I am definitely NOT one of the doomsday prepper nutjobs but I am all out of sorts this week. Probably because of all the sadness.

Anyway. This made me laugh today at least ....

Monday, December 10, 2012

Santa 2012!

Two boys that believe.
They sing Christmas carols in the car.
They both wrote to Santa today.

I am sucking it all in. Craig and I keep  looking at each other and whispering "How magical!" It is magical. I know I can only do this for a couple more years.


I LOVE this picture  - because these boys believe!

Friday, December 07, 2012

The Memphis Belle

Today started with Jack's Pyjama day at school. He was so excited about it that I went out last night and bought him new PJs. This morning I walked him to school and two boys manning the crossing (America does not have lollipop ladies unfortunately) didn't have PJs on and Jack looked crestfallen but came home happy - most kids did wear them and he had a good day. He also got an award for bringing his reading level up. I'm so proud of him.


Today Craig and I went to The Museum of the American Air Force in Dayton. I had booked us on a tour to see The Memphis Belle!

We went to take a quick look at Kittingers craft first. Look how rudimentary is it compared to Felix Baumgartner's attempt! What brave souls they were, those space explorers.


The Memphis Belle. Our tour guide was asked if it was the one from the film. He said no, this is the one from the WAR. Ahh, point well taken! It is being restored to how it was in 1942 so will not be air worthy but will be just as it was. Will take at least another two years before it is in the museum.


Craig with the ball turret. I stuck my head in and you can see the old straps and wooden pulley and handles for the gunner to operate the guns, and there's a smell of war. Hard to describe but it made me a bit emotional. It might have brought back old memories of me playing with gas masks as a kid perhaps!


The rear gunner had to sit on an old bicycle seat!


Chuck Yaeger's office door. Another hero of mine.

I could write a book about our visit but won't bore you. Craig had a fantastic time too. What a great day.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Relaxation Time?

Teaching is done for the year
Big conference is over
Got the day off tomorrow
Boys are in bed
House is clean & laundry is done

Now if I can just stop that niggling voice in my head telling me that I didn't pick up all the dog poo in the garden than I might actually relax.

No. Hang on a minute. No. The moment's gone. I can see a few leaves on the front door mat that need picking up. Knew it was too good to be true!

WHY oh why can't we ladies ever relax??????


Monday, December 03, 2012

Ray LaMontagne Concert

Tonight we went to see Ray LaMontagne for Craig's birthday. He's one of our favourite singers and the show sold out fast so I was chuffed I got us good seats. He was great as always and he had a bassist who was amazing and an Irish girl called Lisa Halligan who was also a really good singer but when he and Lisa did harmonies.... errr, not so much. One of their duets was so bad she burst out laughing. I think that's why she did anyway. I'll have to read the review in the paper tomorrow to find out for sure.

He also chose really strange songs that aren't his most popular. One of them didn't even make it onto one of his albums he said. So, a weird choice of songs and a cringy set of duets with Lisa, but I love him nevertheless.

The very last song of the evening (during the encore) was one of my favourites: "Like Rock & Roll & Radio".  It almost makes me cry, it's such a sad song of how love endures (or doesn't) during a long relationship.



Sunday, December 02, 2012

Craig's Birthday

Craig's birthday was a nice, low-key day. The kids helped him unwrap presents and put together his new toys. I bought him a nice big workbench & swivel stool for his tinkering area in the basement. Also got him some chocolate covered marzipan and ginger beer. The kids got him a pen holder for his desk with their pictures in it and also some drawings they made. It was very sweet. He also got money and a bathrobe and a handy tool set and lots of lovely cards from England.


The boys loved putting the stool together with him. It rained for most of the day so we spent the day being couch potatoes, playing with Nerf guns and watching "Home Alone" for the third time this weekend (Jack loves it). It was actually really nice to not do much - we never have days like that!


Craig wanted cupcakes instead of a big cake but the boys devoured 2/3 of them!   This week we are going to watch a singer that we love and then to see the Memphis Belle. Should be a great week.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

A Jolly Day

This morning we took the boys to a free event, which was fabulous. It's held at a local cinema every month and includes crafts for kids and then you go into the movie theatre and they have a kid's band (The Shazzbots) and short movies, just 2-6 minutes long. It was great. Today they also had Santa there and cookie decorating.

Jack and his friend from school
We met our good friends Brian & Emily & kids there and also met several other friends including friends from Jack's school. Afterwards we went for lunch and ice cream and all of our kids just got along great. It was a truly nice and enjoyable experience (can't say we have so many of those right?). The lady at the ice cream parlour even said how well behaved our kids were so I gave her a HUGE tip. Even if she was lying I'll take it.
Jack & the big man. Danny did not partake!

During the music/movie performance Danny said he wanted to dance with all the other kids at the front so I went down to the stage area with him. He danced his little heart out. Then Santa came down there and tried to get a hold of him and he screamed and bolted, crying, off the stage and never went back. People in the audience went "awwww!" at him when he did it. What a shame. Stupid Santa.  Kidding.


Jack & his longtime friend Katy
It was so funny seeing Jack and Katy as first graders, looking so grown up and being so reasonable and easy. Six year olds are so much easier than 3 year olds! The have known each other since babies and look how cute they were as babies! They are pictured with our beloved and very missed dog Cody (it's still hard to see pictures of him).
Tonight we got the Christmas lights outside set-up and so we are well and truly in the festive mood. And my nephew Perry became a dad today. Little boy Alfie looks lovely and makes me homesick for England.
But no gloom! It's Craig's birthday tomorrow so we are going to have a great day and hopefully go for a big hike. I want to make sure it's a great day for him.