Monday, January 28, 2013

Daniel at Four

Daniel is four today. He went to science class this morning and made a model of an alien (I would much prefer them to be looking at plants and actual science in science class but I suppose aliens are cool). He's had such a packed weekend with his brother and his friends that I think his birthday celebration has been a great success. And he got to go to Disney of course last week.

So who is Daniel at 4?  Well that's quite a hard question to answer. He isn't transparent I know that much. He's the reason I get books on child-rearing out of the library and the reason I ask friends for parenting advice. Not in a bad way you understand, but just because he's so different to his older brother and so much more independent and hard to figure out.

It's been hard for me to accept that he doesn't want to be around us all the time, or play with his brother or friends on command. He genuinely enjoys playing by himself sometimes and he doesn't like to be bothered by people when he's in that mood. I get comments from other parents at pre-school about him. They'll say "My son talks about Daniel all the time! He's such a great friend!" and I think "really? Daniel's never even mentioned your child". That sums him up - an independent little soul. He does have a couple of "best" friends of course, like Ryan and Michael-Lewis.

It's also difficult for me to accept that he's going to fight me on a lot of issues because I am a control freak. He has been unbelievably headstrong and independent since the day he was born and so he will dictate when and what and why. He also dictates what he eats (though that is something I never give up nagging about). I am secretly proud of how strong he is though. How much he knows his own self and won't budge. He never tattle-tails or runs to me for help at the playground - he just kind-of does his own thing. I think those are great traits to have, being so strong minded. Of course sometimes we clash and it results in a huge meltdown on both our parts. I'm as guilty as him when it comes to the power-struggle game.

And yet he is so gentle and loving. There isn't a mean bone in his body. He doesn't hit other kids or take things away from them and say mean things. If his brother wants to take one of his toys, he's the first to say "okay, you can play with it for a while". I've never had to worry that he might slug someone at the park. His voice is adorable (he has a lisp) and he tells us he loves us every day. I think he will be fiercely protective of his family and friends.

He loves cars, play-doh, pirates, puzzles and games. He loves his quad bike and bicycle. He loves bubble baths, though he hates having his hair washed. He loves his teddy bears and his blankie (he's had it since he was born and is very attached to it). He does not like to play video games but he likes to watch them. He loves to have books read to him. He loves to play ball games. He plays imagination/pretend games with his brother where they fight "bad guys".  He does not like "new" scenarios or situations and takes a long time to warm up to people and places. It'll be interesting to see how well he does with organised sports this year. Will be join in the soccer team? Will he listen to a swim instructor?

This will be a great year for him. We'll be signing him up for sports and he'll been joining a new classroom (with new teachers) at pre-school, so he's going to have to overcome his fear of new things. He'll also be doing some travelling and spending lots of time at the pool again. I hope he overcomes some of his fears and learns to interact with us all a bit more. And maybe this will be the year he decides he like vegetables.

Happy Birthday my Darling Boy

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Still Celebrating

It's been a great weekend for Danny. On Friday night our babysitter and her younger sister came over to watch the boys while Craig and I went shopping and they had such a fun time. They love their babysitter and Jack was so excited to play with a 3rd grade girl. I think he has a crush on her.

Saturday morning we took them to a local cinema with friends to watch short movies and dance to the local group The Shazzbots. Of course they insisted that the mums got up to boogie too.

On Saturday night we went over to our new neighbour's house for after dinner drinks. They have 2 boys 7 & 5 so perfect playmates for our lads. The 4 of them played so well together and we had a good time with the parents. We had a few beers and some apple moonshine and tasted their homemade bacon jam, which was too weird!  I am going to like living opposite these people.
Today we let Danny open his presents. He got some lovely presents off his grandparents and English family. We got him his Tigger. I LOVE this picture as it captures his good heart.

Danny & Tigger
This afternoon we took them to our friends house for a play-date and birthday cake. As usual they had a great time and didn't want to leave. These friends just moved into a new house near us so it was great to see it and hear all their plans for decorating. I love to talk about houses and DIY projects (a lot more than doing them). It inspired me to write our "to do" list when I got home. You can imagine Craig's face.

Tonight we took them to an indoor adventure place to romp about and play games. We also took his birthday measurement against the door frame in their bedroom. Look how tall Danny is! As a clever person on Facebook said "Jack & the beanstalk!"

Danny will be TALL!!
They were in bed by 8, but Danny messed about till 9. He is a whirling dervish. I'll post more about him tomorrow, on his official birthday.

Nan sent glow-in-the-dark balloons!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Countdown to 4

This weekend starts the countdown to Daniel's 4th birthday on Monday. We are going to celebrate it this weekend as he'll be at school on Monday. I will post more about him as the weekend goes on.

We are not having a party for him because he isn't a kid that likes to be in the spotlight (unlike his brother). He's fairly low-key and wouldn't even tell me what he wanted until a couple of nights ago. As I kissed him goodnight at bedtime he whispered "Mama I'd really like the stripey tiger teddy bear (he saw Tigger at Disney) and some new Crocs".

I caught him in full bounce mode tonight so took a 1-minute video of him. And yes, he fell off the bed at the end, but he was ok.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Disney & Universal Trip. Warning: Mammoth Post

What a great week! Last Wednesday I flew to Florida (Daytona Beach)  for a work conference where I moderated and talked and did other things and then also did lots of partying like I was 25. I think I got 3 hours sleep each night if I was lucky, but it was worth it. I shared a room with a good friend of mine and we caught up and had such a good laugh that it was worth the bags under the eyes. One night, about 4am after we got done socialising, we laid down in the pitch black bedroom and chatted and had a laugh. I really needed that - good girly times. And I got to see some good friends from England that I only ever see at this conference.

On Saturday my English friends drove me back to Orlando and I checked into this place .....

At 7pm Craig and the boys arrived! I was so excited. I stood outside and met their shuttle bus and both lads raced out and ran into my arms for kisses and hugs. There's nothing better in this world than that.

It was warm enough to use the outdoor pool!

Dinner at a pizza place and then we bought them new t-shirts (they picked their own) - Mickey Mouse soccer for Jack, Perry the Platypus for Danny.

This picture of Craig was taken at a big gift shop next to our hotel (where we bought the t-shirts) and it was owned by an Indian man who was raised in Liverpool and he wanted to talk with us but by this time it was 10pm and the boys were doing that thing where they fall on the floor, crawl through your legs and headbutt your stomach.

Sorry love, you are stuck with me

Sunday morning we went to Disney World's Magic Kingdom. It took us 1.5 hours to get there from the hotel even though we were only about 1 mile away (Rule number 1 learned: stay at Disney resort or get a cab).
Jack love it ALL. Every ride, every character, every single thing he saw. Daniel liked the parade and hanging out with me and his dad. He is not a kid that likes loud things and lots of attention.
So anyway, here's a few pictures of Magic Kingdom ...

Princess Castle


Did NOT like the Tea-Cup ride

Pirate Mickey Ears


Taking a call from Mickey (been doing it even when he got home today)

Beyond Excited

Jack & Pooh & Tigger (Danny had no desire to meet these guys)

Last ride of the night : Big Thunder Mountain!

Our fabulous neighbours gave them gift cards. Jack bought Stitch hands, Daniel bought his Mickey phone.
We watched the 8pm fireworks over the princess castle then we got back to the hotel at 10pm and we all went to bed exhausted! We had been out for 12 hours! (Rule number 2: wear comfy shoes so you don't have to wear 5 band aids and take 3 painkillers).

On Sunday we got an early start again and went to Universal Islands of Adventure. I was a little bit more savvy on this trip so we basically speed-walked it straight to Harry Potters Hogwarts and then got in line for the big ride there.  And  it was FANTASTIC. Best ride I have ever done in my entire life because when we stood in line for 40 minutes we were actually inside Hogwarts being entertained by paintings and talking hats and the characters. During the ride I screamed my head off and laughed (but not much, more screaming) with Jack as we held hands and then Craig got to go on with him too (LOVE Universals child swap program). If there is a score of best rides ever (and I can't be arsed to look), I would hope this made the top 10 at least. 

Hogwarts: The Forbidden Journey Ride (I nearly peed my pants when the dragon breathed on me)

Hogwarts: Daniel loved it like a wet fish across the chops

Jack lapping it all up

I took Jack into Ollivanders next and he got his wand of choice, made of dragon's blood and the feather from a phoenix. He used it all day and got rather perplexed why his spells didn't work (help here please fellow parents if you have tips!)

Butter Beer & Spells

Next we went to Dr. Seuss Land. Danny's favourite. He wanted to stay all day and cried when we left (after 3 hours mind!)

Then it was on to Marvel Superhero Land where the Spiderman ride was the best. It was fantastically scary and fun and exciting but Danny was horrified so we left after the first ride.  Jack and his dad went on twice.

Jack & Wolverine

Jurassic Park Land


Today we flew back to Columbus and met by our friend Maureen who drove us home.
Florida was sunny and warm, Columbus is sunny and frigid. But I don't care. I love my home and would probably consider myself a homebody. Plus the crowds and the line-jumpers at the parks just about drove me insane.  Last night at a shuttle bus depot a small aggressive woman pushed Daniel (he's THREE) to get in front of him and I had to give her a sharp elbow in the boob and a loud "Excuse me!" to make her back off.  So it's great to be home and when Jack and I went to the vet to get Ben and Coco this afternoon it was heart-warming. Ben saw us and peed with excitement and both dogs have just love being home. So it was a fab visit, but there's no place like home - right? 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Baby Shower for a friend

Today I helped host a baby shower for my dear friend Gina. It was such a wonderful afternoon! I had forgotten about the excitement of a first baby. All the new things to experience and plan for. Every now and again she would inhale sharply and hold her rib as the baby gave her a little kick and it made so so nostalgic for that feeling of having a little human growing inside of you.
Isn't she such a glowing & gorgeous mama?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pictures from Us

We have a new camera and it's awesome. It's a Nikon 5100 with an extra 53-300 mm lens and so easy to use, which I need. For years I've wanted a decent camera for work (I take LOTS of pictures in my job) but I don't understand photography so I have always bought a little pocket point and shoot. Finally I got a proper camera and Craig will show me how to use it.

Today we took the dogs on a big hike so Craig carried the new camera, I had my iPhone camera and Jack had an old point and shoot pocket camera of mine. Here are the resulting pictures:

The new Nikon

My iPhone

This last picture is taken by Jack. It's of the hawk flying over the lake we were hiking around. I think he  took a fabulous picture!
Old point-n-shoot 

Friday, January 11, 2013


The city came through at 1.40am this morning and loudly scraped the remaining tiny bit of ice off the road outside my bedroom window for about 30 minutes. Today it's raining and nearly 60 degrees. It makes you wonder why they do those things. The city has no money but obviously they have no common sense either.

Thank goodness it's Friday though. I have had a gruelling work week and I'm looking forward to some family time. I'm also going to get my hair highlighted and spend some time getting ready for my big conference in Daytona Beach coming up. And then it'll be our trip to Disney World! The kids are counting down the days now. Jack can barely contain himself and has already packed his bag! Seriously, he has.

I'll post some pictures later. Better get to work.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

New Baby Cheeriness

Our good friends had a baby girl today. She is called Anna Ruth.  It has cheered me up no end. I was wracking my brain and I can't think of anything better than a new baby entering this wonderful world to make you feel cheery.
So welcome Anna! Can't wait to meet you.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Daniel & Allergies - Maybe?

I've wanted to get on here for a week but it's just been too bonkers. The boys are still off school but we went back to work so we took them to Linda's house. This meant I had to find a dog sitter on those days. My neighbors kindly said yes and then promptly forgot on the second day. Our poor pooches were on their own all day (Coco in her crate) and they haven't really been the same since.

We've been doing more snow-related stuff with the kids. Jack is snowboarding! It's amazing how quickly he picked it up. I would have snapped both legs on the first go but he took to it like a pro!

Cool dude snowboarding
We finally got Jack his new loft bed which turned out to be bigger than we thought. Danny wants to keep his kid bed so that's fine right now, but we did make him his own little area with desk  and chair and shelves.

Yes, the ceiling fan is being removed
Yesterday was my dear friend Maureen's 60th birthday. I took her for a pedicure and then we had a big party for her. Her kids flew in as a surprise and she was over the moon with it all. Craig made his awesome pork pies and sausage rolls again. Maureen got him a tea-towel from England that says "Keep Calm - I'm Queen on the Kitchen!"
My mate Maureen
Today we started on the list of stuff to do in the house then took the boys sledding/snowboarding again.
Daniel sledding
Jack used his pocket money to buy Skylanders so he's currently playing on the Wii and Danny is in bed. He got sent to bed early. Good grief he's been hard work this last couple of days.  I actually, for the first time in my parenting life, stood in the kitchen and cried tonight with sheer frustration. From what I'm reading he doesn't have any kind of autism spectrum, or ADD or ODD or any of those things but he has something going on. Allergies maybe?  The tantrums, whining and crying is just too much to bear. And when he goes nuts there's no reaching him, like he is in his own world. He talks nonsense too sometimes, but then he's not 4 yet so I keep telling myself to stop expecting too much and to stop comparing him to Jack. I sat and looked at old blog postings of Jack at the same age and he was so different - so much more social and calm and reasonable. I don't feel like I know or can communicate with Danny sometimes, which is heartbreaking as a mum. He also pushes me to the brink of explosion. A red curtain comes down and I go nuts shouting then feel guilty afterwards and feel like the world's worst mum. UGH. I really need to get him to a pediatrician and get this thing worked out. Is it really plausible that an allergy to dairy or wheat or junk food could cause this? Is he just a normal 4 year old and I'm wrong? I wish I had the answers I really do.

I hope I don't come across here as a mum who has given up on her son because I love him with all my heart. We need to give him more attention, play with him more and make him the center of attention much much more than we do. I know that.  90% of our day is wonderful and everyone who knows him loves him. I just need to figure out what's going on with him lately and get it fixed because I'm sure it's making him miserable too.

My darling Daniel