Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Hols: Part 1

Leanne got here on Tuesday night and so we began our summer vacation part 1 (part 2 will start when my mum and Tom get here).

Her plane journey was a tad nerve-wracking as the flight was late leaving Manchester and so she missed her connecting flight in Toronto but she got here about 10.30pm. Craig met her on his own at the airport. She looked so shell-shocked when she came into the house but then 20 hours of travel and a gang of over-enthusiastic family members you've never met before will do that to you.

On Friday morning we went on a camping trip to Niagara Falls. We camped for 3 nights at a great KOA campsite next to a fun fair and water park and we basically had a lot of fun. Niagara Falls was spectacular and we all got along great. Even thought it rained a bit.

Leanne and Danny seem to have connected really well, but she's been so lovely and great with all of us. She misses her boyfriend Dean and I'm sure she feels a bit weird right now. She'll also probably have lots of questions for Craig down the line but for now we are taking it one day at a time. To hear her call Craig "dad" makes my heart skip a beat - that means she's feeling comfortable & loved by us, right?

Road trip!

She's so great with Danny

Danny would NOT wear the blue anorak. Respect. 

Campsite shenanigans

Fantasy Island

Love this picture!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Weekly Catch-up & T minus 2

Camp was a huge success for both boys. When I picked Jack up Friday from his he begged to stay for a few more minutes to play shuffle ball. On the way home he fought hard to keep back the tears but they flowed. He said he made so many friends and had such a great time that he was sad it was over. I felt so bad for him as I remember that feeling of something being "over" when you've had so much fun as a kid. He's so like me. Next summer they'll be in camp all summer long, but that's no consolation for an eight year old who lives in the moment.

Our days were packed as usual: Physio for my hand, a brutal dentist visit (2 fillings, an extraction, a bone graft & stitches), the pool, a cook-out at Craig's friend Mark and his wife Gail's house, a birthday party for Jack's friend Mario and a World Cup Final party today with the British Expats.Oh and I took Ben for a booster shot and then had him evaluated by a doggie day-care to see if I can start taking him there a couple of days a week to socialize with other dogs and get him out of the house.

A doggie day-care you ask? Well yes, since one day this week he was so manic at being alone that he ate soil out of a plant pot, then trash from the bins and then threw it all up in several piles in Daniel's room. Piles of black soil, plastic, paper & carrots (there's always carrots). He's got such bad separation anxiety that we really have to do something about it. Leaving the radio on and hoping he'll be okay since Bart is with him isn't cutting the mustard. He didn't "pass" his evaluation at the day-care since he was so nervous but they are willing to work with me to take him for an hour at a time to get him used to it. He goes back tomorrow.

And finally, Leanne's 18th Birthday was today. She will be here in two days. TWO DAYS! Or as they say in America "T minus 2 days".  I have no idea what that means. Anyway, I cannot tell you in words how excited everyone is, and not just us but friends and family on both sides of the pond. I just hope we can make this a fantastic three weeks for her.

Corn hole! The quintessential Ohio BBQ game.

Gail showing off her fruit salad pizza.

Jack with one of the barn cats, Molly.

First time climbing their big tree!

The Expats make a breakfast fry-up.

How very English: Pimms and a Victoria Sponge.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Summer Camp!

After Camp - Day 1
I signed both boys up for a week of separate summer camps this week. I thought it would do them both good to meet new friends and be adventurous and be outside all day.

I knew Jack would love it and he does. He's fishing, watching bugs, going to the zoo and playing in the gym. My only worry is that he'll wish he could go the whole summer and be upset that he's not.

I'll be honest I was dreading taking Daniel to his camp even though he told me back in May he'd do it. I don't think I blogged about this but at his end of year pre-k picnic he refused to get out of the car, cried his eyes out and we had to drive home. Well-meaning people coming over to the car to try and encourage him to get out just made it worse. So I was thoroughly expecting the same thing, especially since this would be a new place with new people.  I've been building up to it for weeks. I mean really - how do you make a 5-year old do something he's frightened of? It's not like they are being disrespectful, they are just terrified!

As fate would have it the first morning of his camp I also gave a ride to his babysitter Cat. She's working for me a few hours a week so hitches a ride in with me. When we got to the camp Cat and I walked him in and he didn't know what to do. He wasn't going to cry in front of Cat or make a fuss. So he looked shell-shocked but he held it together and I made a quick retreat to the car. All the way to work I was in shock how smoothly it went. I really think having Cat there was the difference as he didn't want to make a fuss in front of her.

This theory isn't something new of course, I know that. Many teachers have told me over the years that the crying stops the minute the parent leaves. We all know that. But I didn't know how to handle the period between getting out of the car and getting him in there and that's where I think having a 3rd party with me helped. It certainly beats prying his fingers off the door handle and manhandling a screaming, crying child.

Two days in and he's loving it. Made a friend with a blue t-shirt and one with glasses he informs me. He's been messing about in the creek and playing outdoor games.

 So camp success for both of them! Hurrah!

Now soccer camp is a different matter. Jack started tonight and Daniel flatly refused to, but that's ok. Baby steps are fine with me as long as he's taking steps.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Stories from my childhood

I have started to tell my lads about stupid and funny things I did as a kid. 

I was always up to mischief - falling off my bike (over the handle bars on many an occasion), stealing apples, making dens,  camping, riding on 50cc motorbikes and just messing about.  

One of the things we did (me and my mate Sue Rushton) was to sit on the two water pipes that crossed the brook on our lane, next to my house. This is the actual picture of it. The water line only sits about 8ft above the water but the embankment was full on nettles (stinging weeds) so we were usually cautious.

One day as I was walking on the pipe I fell off, rolled down the stinging nettle bank, fell in the water and ran home for sympathy. Of course I got none. I got a spank for walking on the water pipes.

My kids LOVE this story and I can't wait to take them to this exact spot next year. 

Sunday, July 06, 2014

July 4th and Lamb Cook-out

Here's lots of pictures from our July 4th holiday and lamb cook-out. What a fantastic weekend of friends, food, fireworks, and football!!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Jack's 8th Birthday

Happy Birthday Jack!  Eight years old. You are so lovely, so loud, funny, brave, athletic, energetic and a lover of the great outdoors. You like to play soccer and ride your bike. You like to roller skate and bounce on the trampoline. Your obsession with Minecraft and Terraria is waning a bit and your new interest is WWE! John Cena, The Undertaker, Kane, The Rock and all these characters are your latest craze. You got two WWE championship belts for your birthday and you carry them around over your shoulder, telling all that you are the new champ.

On the morning of your birthday we strolled to a local diner for breakfast then we got ready for your party. You got your iPod and some great gifts. You got 101 "likes" on Facebook and 32 people wished you a Happy Birthday! That's amazing, but I'm not surprised because you are such a social, happy kid.

We also measured you against the door frame and you are 4ft. 5 inches tall! You are going to be such a tall and athletic young man.

Your party was a lot of fun; water balloon fights, silly string fights, Mysterio masks, fake mustaches and chocolate cake. Perfect for you. At the end of the day you  had a sleepover in Daniel's room, like you have all this week. Because even though you like your own room and independence, you also love to hang out with your brother.

So Happy Birthday my darling boy. Keep doing what you're doing x

3 Month Catch-up

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