Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm sat, post-dinner with pants zip undone. Craig is sleeping off a turkey coma and the boys are watching telly. Tonight we go to a friend's house for deserts then I'm getting to sleep since I'm hitting the black Friday sales tomorrow.

I'm thankful for so much; Family and friends, healthy kids, my job, our neighbors and the fact that we have a home and food on the table. At times like this I wish my family in England was here and I miss them madly, but I also know how lucky we are to be right here.

Vicki and the boys

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A New Do for Turkey Day

Got the boys a new haircut today. Also did the laundry and tidied up a bit and did some last minute shopping for Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Craig texted me not to forget the essentials: wishwop, wine and moonshine. What else is there in life?

The Boxcar Children

When I was a kid I loved to read The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. The characters in the book are Julian, George, Dick, Ann and Timmy the dog and they had all kinds of adventures. I'm really hoping my boys will read them when they get a little older, though they are written in an older traditional English (the first book came out in 1942 after all), so they might find it a tad difficult. I'm having the same problem with Roald Dahl books. I tried to read "Danny Champion of the World" to Daniel and even I struggled.

So anyway, I found an American version of The Famous Five called The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. These books date back to the 1920's but they have been updated to a more modern English so my kids can understand them. Last night we watched the film of the first book, which they love. Now my boys want to live in a boxcar. Daniel is quite adamant about that. He told me he wants to be Ben (the youngest character) and when he went to bed he had that dreamy look in his eyes. I hope he has the same dreams of adventure that I did at that age.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Basketball - what's all that about then?

The boys started basketball this week. I have no idea what it's about though I assume it's a bit like netball that I played at high school (girls played netball, can't remember what boys played, we never did co-ed).

So even though I have zero interest in basketball, and don't want to learn to at this point, it does have certain merits over the other horrid sport of baseball:

  • It's inside
  • I have friends I can chat with
  • It gets them out of the house and moving during Ohio's long winter

Last week the rec center also hosted a small farmers market so that's a bonus. I can sneak down and mooch around there while the kids pretend to be Magic Johnson. Was he even a basketball player? See, I really am clueless.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Wildlights at the Zoo

While Craig went hunting (no bambi yet), I took the boys to the zoo. It was a gorgeous day, so warm compared to the crappy snow, cold and ice of the last few days. We rode the train, they rode a camel and we pointed at a few animals. Good stuff.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Boy Time

My oldest had a playdate and sleep-over tonight with his fiend Mario. Daniel sobbed. So the best tonic in the world for a lonely boy is our neighbors coming to play.

It was a good night but I'm not 100%. I'm on my chinstrap and exhausted. I also haven't felt good since the clocks went back. What's that all about then?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Today was a Good'un

I finished another quilt. I am a quilting diva and I deserve this ...

I read this and it was so good. So funny and true. But it was also a bit disturbing, how pressured young girls are these days. When I was a teenager we didn't get Brazilians as part of our pre-date ritual (if, like me, you have no idea what a "Brazilian" is it's shaving everything off so in essence you look like a little girl. How being hairless has become the new norm is truly awful). I'm sure it's not all bad and there are millions of feminists still out there fighting the good fight. But it makes me feel so sad for girls caught up in the belief that they need to be perfect and hairless to be accepted. Let's all be normal and hairy!

Let's be Normal & Hairy! 

It snowed and it was ungodly cold. But my porch is coming along. I'm already planning a porch party in my head.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kindness Can be Catching

I just listened to "How to win friends & influence people in the digital age" adapted from Dale Carnegie's famous 1936 book.

A friend who manages a big football stadium recommended it to me and said it was the best book she'd ever read, so I gave it a go on audio cd. If I'm honest I thought it was going to be about how to make friends and influence people. That's what the title says after all. But it's actually a book about how to be a good friend and be a good influence on people.

It's a wake-up call to stop griping, complaining, and being nasty about other people. It talks of the power of smiling, being helpful and kind. One quote from it that stuck is that there are no neutral encounters - you either leave people feeling better or worse from having encountered you.

So I'm recommending it to all of you (the 5 people that read my blog!) Read it and take it to heart. And be kind to people.*

*except the lady at Giant Eagle today who scowled at me for driving very slowly within 50 feet of her. Don't be kind to her ilk.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mr. Imagination Strikes Again

He wants to be everywhere and do everything and be every body's best friend.
Not content with putting up 1 drawing in his room, he puts up 50. Even gets pegs from somewhere to do it (seriously, where did he get all those pegs?).
He wants to be a doctor, no a vet, no a superhero, no an origami artist.
He wants to play all sports and win all games. He wants to rule the world.
Sounds bloody exhausting doesn't it? Actually it is, but he's also got the most amazing imagination and lust for life that I've ever seen.

I wasn't surprised when he told his pre-school teachers his name was Kevin because I knew he wanted to be the blue Power Ranger. They believed him which was rather funny, especially when official pre-k paperwork came home for "Kevin".

I'm not surprised when he tells people stories. I've had people ask me questions about things that I know aren't true - "when's Jack getting his braces?", "Can Jack do back-flips?", when are you leaving for your vacation this weekend"?

Some of his story telling is funny, like the time he wore my arm cast for a weekend and told everyone he'd broken his arm. Some of it is not funny at all and is actually blatant lying.  So we've had conversations over the years about not lying. He knows the story about Peter and the Wolf. He's got in trouble and been disciplined but sometimes I'm flummoxed how to stop it.

This week he really pulled a fast one. He flunked his eye test at school on purpose, fooling the school nurse, his teacher and us. He let me take him for an independent eye exam that I had to pay for because he's not on my vision insurance till 2015. When he passed the test with flying colours I finally got him to admit that he made the whole thing up so he can get glasses (he thinks they look cool).  So,  he's got chores to do until January to make up the money for the test and I've talked with him again about it and well, I'm not sure what else I can do. I did make him apologize to the teacher and nurse at school too, which I'm sure burned.

It's half funny and half maddening. Mostly maddening.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Card from a Friend

Jack brought a card home from his school friend David.  I think I have something in my eye *sniff*...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

American Party, Porch & Specs

Friday night was such good fun, celebrating the citizenship tests. Friends brought decorated cakes, pasta, booze and balloons. They all signed a card for us to keep and we had a lovely time. As usual I stayed up far too late (3am) and so yesterday was a complete wash-out. I barely made it out of my pajamas and looked like something out of The Walking Dead for most of the day. I'm too old for those kinds of shenanigans. Thankfully Craig was able to function although he too felt like poo. We were both in bed by 10pm last night. Would I do things differently? Probably not. Dancing in my living room to ELO at 3am with Eric was worth it.

The porch has seen some major development this weekend. I'm already wandering out onto it and looking forward to it being my hang-out place.

Starting to look like a porch
Another development; Jack needs glasses. He thinks it's very cool but I'm sad. I don't want my boy's eyes to be going bad already, he's only 8. I was hoping he flunked the test on purpose (we'll get another before getting glasses) but his teacher is convinced he needs them. She also thinks his reading and concentration might be greatly improved if he gets them. So that's on the list of things to do this week, along with Boy Scouts and making dinner for the needy.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Passed the Test

This morning I passed the citizenship test. It was such an amazing, wonderful feeling that I had a little cry afterwards in the parking garage while I was sending out a flurry of texts and emails. On the way there every single traffic light was on red and I had to go through security and yes I was really nervous. But it all went well and I have the paperwork to prove it. What a relief and a good day.

Leveque Tower was my go-to place this morning (white pointy building)
This afternoon the contractors got some lumber in place and tonight Craig and I went to teacher conferences for the boys, which I'll post about at a later date.

Now I'm EXHAUSTED, but we are sharing a bottle of bubbly and Craig is studying hard for his test tomorrow. We're nearly at the finish line.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Citizenship Test

Tomorrow I take the USA citizenship test. It's a big deal actually, not something you just decide to do on a whim. I'm nervous about the test, heartbroken at not being loyal to England, while also feeling a strong loyalty to the USA. But as Craig once told me, several years ago, I think too much.

So anyway...

The reasons for taking it are:

* I want security (you won't understand that unless you are in my situation)
* I can keep my British passport and Britain will continue to recognize me
* My green card expires next April 2015 and it costs about the same to renew as it does to apply for citizenship (450 versus 668)
* My kids are American and it would be rough taking them to another country
* Life is good here: fabulous friends, neighbors, colleagues, work opportunities, respect for each other, weather and low crime (in my neighborhood)

The reasons for not taking it are:

* I miss my family and friends
* I'm British and proud, to my core
* Health care costs are criminal

Which brings me to a point: why can't I just love both countries? Because I do.  England is my home, my heart, my first love. The American Dream has been real for me & Craig and we have two American children. So I love both countries. I am an Anglo-American, a LimeyYank.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Porch Progress

The contractors working on my house are Jack the lads, swigging back RedBulls, smoking and listening to thrash metal very loudly. They spend a lot of time on their phones, in the truck and off somewhere else. But today they set the concrete pillars and tomorrow they frame my porch. I'm so excited!

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Vow to Thee My Country

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day/Veteran's Day and also the 35th anniversary that my Nana Lloyd died. It's also my step-mum's birthday, so it's a big day.  There's so many emotions going through me tonight. I always feel emotional about the day as WW1 and WW2 are still very much recognized in the UK. In contrast, I want to celebrate my step-mum Sheila's birthday and hope she had a good day. But tomorrow is also a poignant day, where I will think about my Nana Lloyd and the loss my mum still feels. So I think I've established that tomorrow is a day of remembrance, celebration and definitely emotion.

So when I listen to this song from the Festival of Remembrance at the Albert Hall in London this week it makes me want to weep big fat tears. Because this week I take my citizenship test for the United States (which I love) but how can I possibly turn my back on my country, to which I vow?


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Brit Bonfire Night Party

Today I feel like death on a stick. Partying like a teenager and not getting to bed until 1am will do that to you I suppose. Craig and the boys are in a similar state. Jack hasn't even taken his PJs off all day. I went briefly to Krogers for some food and of course ran in to several people I knew. When I said I felt terrible one of them said "well you don't look your best". I'm not taking that personally though as she's not the most socially apt person I know and regularly blurts inappropriate things out.

So here's a few pictures of our Saturday, which was 17 hours long....

Pancake breakfast fundraiser at a local school.

Guy Fawkes before we nuked him

Guy Fawkes being nuked. Kids were chanting "burn him!" like something out of Lord of the Flies. 

Motley Crew
My Brit BFFs
Danny was first to crash and came home with one shoe. Been there, done that. 

Friday, November 07, 2014

PTA, Porch & Sleepover

The good karma continues..

At last nights PTA meeting we voted to fund $11,000 worth of computer equipment for the school. All that hard work paid off and it feels so goooood!

They made some progress on my porch. I'm itching for them to finish so I can to use it. Itching and itching.

I made good progress on a quilt tonight. Even bought some fabric for the next one.

The boys have a friend over for a sleepover. It's fun but I'm shattered and seriously considering baling on Craig and going to bed. There's a big party at Maureen's house tomorrow and I'll have a ton of stuff to do, including making a guy. My friend Jules will help but she only has old clothes that some animal had peed on and I'm not so sure I want to dress the guy in THAT and then sit him on Maureen's porch. Eeww. 

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Good Karma on a Thursday

Today was a good day. Nice things kept happening in a steady flow of little surprises.

 I jumped online and got us all tickets for WWE Raw in February. Just thinking about how excited the boys will be makes me feel happy and excited too.Knowing that a friend also bought tickets for her boys and we are all eating together beforehand makes it even better.

An impromptu lunch with colleagues and students was fun. We told lots of stories and belly-laughed for a hour.

 My cousin Kay who lives in Mexico contacted me to organise a weekend visit with me in January. I haven't seen her for twenty years and will probably hug her to death at the airport.

Kay and her daughter Megan
Now if I was Scottish I'd say that all this good fortune must mean that I've got a whole lot of horrible things coming my way. But I'm not Scottish, so I'm going to take all this good karma and hope that it continues.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

3 Things I've Loved Today

Three things have made me smile and feel good about my life today ...

My step-daughter. How gorgeous, inside and out

The beginnings of my porch. I will spend all my time on there, with family and friends.

My mum knitted this for me. When I got frustrated tonight and tired of quilting I got this out and snuggled a bit.
I never understood how important home-made was. Now I do. Thank you mum.
And yes, that's my cat being an ass :)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Linda & a Pledge

I saw Linda today. She watched the boys at her house since they had a day off for staff development and I had to work. It was so good to see her, she hadn't changed a bit. On the way home from her house both boys talked about how great she was, so kind and sweet to them. Jack said she walked backwards from the park so she could chat with them and laugh with them. She spent 3 hours this afternoon playing at the park with them.

I'd have been on my phone, messing about on social media. I'm not sure how I got into such a horrid habit of being on my phone while I'm supposed to be enjoying my kids but I really have to knock it on the head for a while.  Starting tomorrow I am going to ignore my phone in the company of my kids! I'm making a pledge!

If I tell the boys what I'm doing they'll help me by calling me out on it. They did that when I asked them to help me stop checking my phone while I was driving (if I so much as picked it up Jack would yell "stop texting!" and nearly cause me to crash, which defeated the object). They also got involved when I stopped drinking wine. At first it was helpful but then it became annoying. I mean really, who wants a 5-year old telling you you can't drink wine? But I think the phone hiatus thing will work if they're included.  I shall report back shortly on my progress, or lack thereof.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Fall Back & Sleep

Maybe it's the fact that I had a crazy weekend but the clocks going back has destroyed me. I've wanted to go to bed since about 3pm. But instead I took the boys to a birthday swimming party and sat in a hot humid room for 2 hours watching them play. Not fun.

Now I'm going to bed and hopefully I won't feel as exhausted tomorrow.
And maybe the contractor will actually start our porch!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Halloween 2014

It feels like the whole month of October was dedicated to Halloween, which seems ridiculous compared to our 1-day of trick or treating when I was a kid, but it's fun so who's going to complain?

We did several events (including a very good one at Boy Scouts in the woods), went to at least three parties and spent quite a lot of time decorating the house and making costumes. Daniel dressed as his hero Rey Mysterio (WWE guy) and also a superhero since his nana sent him a cape and mask. Jack was Spiderman, then Death, then a robot. In typical Jack style he wanted to be everything and sometimes dressed like all 3 at once.

On trick-or-treat night we met up with neighbors and hit the streets. It was so great. The adults had a beer and chatted and stopped the kids from zigzagging across the road too much and the kids had a grand old time. And now we have at least 5 lbs of chocolate and sweets in the fridge.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Thrift Love

I'm a thrift lover. Nothing gets me more excited than rummaging and mooching about in second hand shops and yard sales. I'm so happy about my recent purchases and free finds that it needs a mention.

A comfy couch & loveseat for a pittance

A free white shelving unit for my craft area

Like-new Chooka wellies for a steal

I was first in line on Craigslist for a new rug. That always feels good.