Tuesday, November 30, 2010

10 inches isn't much...

To all my Utah friends and families, 10 inches of snow is a good storm, but not particularly newsworthy.  Plows will be out, salt will be spread, life will continue on as usual.

I was outside shoveling snow away from the front of my house (tricky when you live in a townhouse with no barrier garden, let me tell you.  Where do you put the snow once you've shoveled it?) when a woman walking by told me that the Met office were predicting 10 inches of snow for our region.  Let me just tell you, this IS a big deal when you live in England and there are NO SNOW PLOWS WHATSOEVER! 

Salt is spread on the main roads, but small towns (like ours) and villages don't get much salt on their tiny roads.  Plus, it doesn't move the slush.  Which freezes, and becomes the most treacherous ice you've ever seen.  And when it is a proper cold snap, that slush/ice can stick around for weeks.

Trucks can't get to grocery stores, people can't get to work, schools close, etc. 

It is really coming down tonight, and I am feeling very grateful for my breadmaker and the fact that I had enough foresight to purchase some UHT milk and tins of beans and tomatoes when I did my grocery shopping this morning!

In other news, Dylan is being a real trooper.  He woke up badly this morning, because we had let his pain medication lapse.  He was sound asleep and we didn't want to wake him!  Let me tell you, we'll be waking him up to take it tonight!  He lounged around with no trousers or pants on for most of the morning, and he was in hog heaven because we let him watch cartoons nearly all day long.  But he is perking right up and his "region" looks good.  We were carrying him to the toilet all morning because he was struggling to walk, but by afternoon he was walking there himself.  He even walked up the stairs by himself to go to bed.  And he has developed a cute little hunch for when he coughs.  I recognize it--I had the same hunch after my c-sections!

Anyway, he's getting better all the time.  Edith is loving it, because he doesn't have the energy to be mean to her.  They are playing really well together.  But I am looking forward to his complete recovery.  With Martin back at work today, it was a pretty tricky night.  I'm glad the procedure is done and we won't have to worry about it any more.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Home, sweet home...

Well, it's done.  Dylan's no longer got excess fluid around is testicles.  Surgery was started at 3:30pm today, took about an hour and 20 minutes, and he is doing just fine.  We were at the hospital a LOT longer than we anticipated.  And when we finally got done, Dylan wolfed down two slices of bread, a yoghurt, a cup of squash, and a McDonalds happy meal with chicken mcnuggets and a strawberry milkshake.  He hadn't had anything to eat all day, and that kid was STARVING!

I'm feeling very into the NHS today.  The staff at the hospital were brilliant.  It took a long time, but the surgical team seemed very competent and the nurses were absolutely wonderful. 

Dylan's incision is only about an inch long, and they used dissolvable stitches so we won't have to be seen at the hospital again unless he develops any worrying symptoms.  Even then, we can just take him to a closer hospital.  But the surgeon said that the procedure went very well--just as planned.

Now both of my babies are tucked up in bed and I am watching "Diamonds are Forever."  It feels good to be home.  Our hospital adventure started at 10:20am and ended when we got home at 8:40pm.  Long day!

Friday, November 26, 2010


I wasn't sure if I was going to "do" Thanksgiving this year.  I felt a little bit like Martin's family only showed up to humor me (which is very nice of them, I know) and it's a lot of effort to go to when it doesn't mean anything.  Plus, his dad and sister still aren't speaking to each other and I didn't want to deal with all that drama.

I had decided to cook a chicken instead of a turkey with all the trimmings and just have Amy over for our usual Thursday night dinner.  Then, we got two American missionaries in our ward and I wanted to invite them for a taste of home.  Then Noelle found out I was going to cook Thanksgiving dinner and offered her tin of pureed pumpkin in exchange for an invite for herself and her fiance Richard.  Then Martin agreed to come home for a few hours to eat with us all.

So I went from not bothered to cooking for 7 adults and my two kiddies.

Last night, as I sat around my crowded dining room table, surrounded by friends and family, I felt very blessed.  I am glad Thanksgiving turned out the way it did, because I have so much to be thankful for!  Mostly, for these guys:
But, if you are reading this blog you are probably on the list of people I am thankful for as well.  I have such wonderful friends and family.

Hopefully we will be spending next Thanksgiving in Utah.  Hopefully I won't have to make the whole meal by myself ever again!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

our current project...

I didn't get a completely "before" photo, but this is as good as it gets.

Martin, hanging out in the bathroom closet.  Now now, no gay jokes, please!

Recovering from using a sledgehammer.  See, totally manly!

Here we are at the point when we wonder if it was worth it!

I had a terrible cold, so spent most of the time doing clean-up.  And my favorite DIY job, sitting and watching Martin work.

Here's the new view of the kitchen from the piano.  Looks massive, doesn't it?

And the tidy version.
We now have a wall there, and it's looking better all the time.  The trickiest bits are the floor (raising the level) and the ceiling (has to be re-done where the closet was).  It's going to be so nice to have the extra space in the kitchen.  It already looks a lot bigger and I'm thrilled to be gaining some kitchen storage space!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Parent-Teacher conference...

It was Dylan's mid-term parent-teacher conference on Monday, and it was, wait for it, ALL POSITIVE!

His teachers, Miss Wilcockson and Mrs. Morris, said that he is adjusting beautifully, his vocabulary is amazing, he is starting to join in with the group more, and that his manners are very nice.  Then Miss Wilcockson asked me if I had changed anything at home to bring on this change.  His behavior problems have basically disappeared, and they are all amazed at the difference in the last three weeks.

So I told her that we had started a "nice" jar for Dylan, and that he got a button in his jar every time he did something "nice," like doing things the first time he was told, doing things before we had to ask him, using nice manners, playing well with his sister, etc.  I told her that we were trying to pay more attention to him when he did good things and make a big deal of his good behavior.

That, and we've been beating him.

All jokes aside (come on, I would never beat my kids!  Not unless they really deserved it.), Dylan is doing better.  And instead of telling me I needed help, this time they asked for my techniques.  I knew we could do this without any outside help!

Dylan will be missing some school in the coming weeks.  He's got his surgery on Monday and I'm planning on keeping him home for a few days after that so he can rest and heal.  Then, on the 7th of December they are going on a special school trip to Normanby Hall.  Santa will be there, and they will be taking their letter to him.  They will also be riding the miniature steam trains. 

Man, I am so excited for Christmas this year.  Having children is bringing out the Christmas kid in me.  I remember how magical this time of year used to be for me when I was a kid, and I want it to be like that for Dylan and Edith.  We've made a paper chain so Dylan knows how many days it is until Christmas.  After Thanksgiving is over, we will start to decorate the house for Christmas. 

Of course, we're trying to teach the kids the religious meaning of Christmas, and not just about Santa.  Bless Edith's little heart.  She recognizes pictures of Jesus, but gets really confused when we look at nativity scenes.  I tell her it's the baby Jesus, and she points to the baby and says "baby," then points to either Joseph or one of the shepherds and says "Jesus." 

I think it's because of the beards.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hello, dry clothes...

Our dryer broke a few weeks ago.  The drum was shearing away from the motoer or something like that.  Martin took a look at it and he's pretty good at figuring out how stuff works and what's gone wrong.  I've been draping all our clean clothes over radiators, hanging them on the one drying rack we've got, and clipping them on the sock dryers I got from IKEA.  Not fun.

My husband decided to get some stuff done this week, and he found a used dryer for not too much in the classifieds.  He drove to Grimsby (with Dylan) to pay for it and pick it up this morning, and I dried a load of whites in it this evening.  I'm so used to setting the dryer for maximum time and coming upstairs to find my clothes still wet.  Well, I put it on for an hour and took the kids for a walk.  I came home to bone dry clothes.  WOW!

(How sad is it that this is likely to be the high point of my week?)

We also had the plumber 'round yesterday, and our pipes in the bathroom closet have been moved.  We're going to see if the kids can have a sleepover at their nanna's house on Sunday and spend Monday with her so we can do our renovations.  That's pretty exciting, as well.

I have taken a night off from quiet books.  Instead, I went through my closet and paired up some layers that go together.  You'd think I could figure out what to wear when I got dressed, but I kind of need to feel creative to layer well and I never feel very creative first thing in the morning.  But now I have no excuses and am going to finish stitching up the chess board for Dylan's book.  Ugh.  I will be glad to see the end of this project.  It was fun for the first two months!

Friday, November 12, 2010

As of tonight...

These are the bits for Dylan's quiet book that are finished.

And here is Edith's stuff.

Looks like I've been busy, doesn't it?  Well, I have been sewing my little fingers off.  Just a few more pages to go.  Three for each child, to be more precise.  I can SO do this before Christmas!

My new hair (or, more accurately, my missing hair)

Amazing what a new haircut can do.  Ok, a new haircut, more sunshine, and a bit of lipstick.  My long hair is no more.  Goodbye long locks, hello sassy bob. 
And here's the more natural, curly version.  Funny, cutting my hair off always makes me feel more like ME.  Although I saw some beautiful hair yesterday and it made me miss mine.  But hey, it grows really fast.  And I am already planning on growing it out again, but with no layers this time.

Ok, narcissism is out of my system for the night.  Hope you like my new 'do.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

von Villebrand's update...

Dylan had his "DDAVP Challenge" on Monday to determine the effectiveness of the drug in making his blood clot.  The test definitely was a challenge, with three blood draws and an injection over a 5 1/2 hour period.  But we got the results of the test today and they were good.  His body responds well to the medication, so it will be relatively easy to treat him when necessary.

Unfortunately, he will have to be vaccinated against hepatitis A & B, but our GP will administer those vaccines.

The consultant has already liased with Sheffield Childrens' Hospital (where Dylan is having his surgery) and they are aware of his condition and the precautions that will need to be taken.  They are aware that his surgery is on the 29th of this month and will be sending the results of his DDAVP trial over.

We have a follow up appointment in 3 months' time.

All in all, I feel like we have this particular medical challenge well in hand.  The rest of the family will be seeing a hematologist on Friday the 19th, and we'll find out if Edith has von Willebrands and who it came from.  My money's on Martin.

In other Dylan news, his behavior is really improving.  We decided that instead of focusing on his "bad" behavior, we would really start to concentrate on his good behavior and make sure he had lots of praise for doing well.  It's much harder to praise good behavior than it is to punish bad behavior, but it seems to be working.  He's had two really good days at school this week.  Plus, I'm pretty much forcing him to take naps again in the morning, before he goes to school. 

I like what we're doing with him, because his little face lights up when we tell him we are proud of him.  He just beams when we hug him and tell him he's been amazing.  And you know what?  He IS!

My favorite thing to do is ask Dylan if I can tell him a secret.  When he says yes, I whisper in his ear, "You are my favorite little boy in the whole world."  He always gives me the most ear splitting grin and the sweetest little giggle.

We had a great time on the drive to the hospital today.  I moved his carseat to the front seat, and we chatted like a couple of school girls on the way there.  Edith stayed at home with her Nanna and went to Water's Edge to feed the ducks.  I love both of my children, but it's so nice to have some one-on-one time with them.  Sometimes I wish I only had one.  Then I could devote more time and attention instead of splitting it between the two of them.  But having them both just makes the individual time together that much more special.

I'm so in love with my beautiful children tonight.  Must be because they are sleeping peacefully right now.  I think I'll go make sure they are tucked in to their blankets and just stare at them for a few minutes.  Maybe wonder how I came to be so blessed.  You know--mom things.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

She's Crafty!

I've got a lot more work done on the quiet books since I took these pictures, but here's a sample of what I've been up to for the last 6 weeks or so.  I'm so tired of hand sewing, but the books are starting to come together nicely.  The kids had better love these books!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

He's starting to be embarrassing...

Yesterday I was so tired of being the mom/personal chef/maid/babysitter that I took the kids to get fish and chips so I didn't have to cook.  Plus, I really fancied it. 

Had a couple of really awesome moments in the fish & chip shop.

Well, the first one technically took place just outside the fish & chip shop.  We went to Humber Fisheries (there are 3 places to choose from in Barton) because a) they do the best fish in town and more importantly, b) there was a parking spot right outside so I didn't have to wrestle Edith as far.  At Humber Fisheries they cook their fish to order and it takes about 7 minutes, so after I ordered our meal (2 fish, one chips, small pot of mushy peas, please) we had to wait a while.  I was holding Edith when I felt my arm go all warm and wet.  Oh yeah, she peed right through her diaper.  I told the fish bloke that I'd be right back for my order, and took both kids outside so I could do a diaper change.

There are no facilities in the town center, so I had to change Edith on the front seat of the car (back seat is full of carseats and trunk is full of rubbish).  Luckily, she is still so tiny for her age and fits rather nicely there.  So I was squatting next to the car with some serious plumber's crack (sorry about the visual) changing a wet diaper when Dylan told me, with some urgency, that he had to pee.  Ohboy!

As previously mentioned, there are NO TOILET FACILITIES in the town center.  So I did what any mother of a young boy with shaky bladder control would do.  I told him to pull his pants down and pee on the car tire.  It was pretty dark and there weren't many people around.  But Dylan, being Dylan, can't discreetly pull out his package and pee.  Oh no.  He had his trousers and pants down around his ankles.  And he REALLY had to pee.  Those pants were down south for a very, very, very long time.

So there we were, all three of us exposed to some degree, when I see this lady named Ann walking down the street.  She was one of the regulars at the Place, and is one of the nicest, classiest women I know.  I tried not to make eye contact and finished the business at hand as quickly as possible.  Everyone sorted out, we went back in to the chippy to get our order.  Guess who else was in there?  Oh yeah, it was Ann.  I apologized for the spectacle of my toddler urinating on our car, and she was cool about it.  Said that we'd all been there.  But seriously, how embarrassed was I?

Then, Dylan noticed one of the other customers in the shop.  He had some kind of disease that had caused some serious growths on his neck, face, and head.  My lovely son is so observant and wonderfully verbal, and has NO SOCIAL FILTERS WHATSOEVER!  So of course he asked me, in the clearest, most perfectly understandable and loud English, why that man had spots.  Could this dinner adventure get any more eventful?  Luckily, I was able to distract him by saying, "Some people do, Dylan.  You have a nose.  And I can SEE IT!"  Then we played a delightful game where he hid in the corner so I couldn't see his nose, and then I told him I could see his bum.  He kept turning around in that corner until our order was ready, I paid, and we left.  I tried not to look at the man with spots.

It's a good thing the fish and chips were ridiculously delicious.

I think it might be time to talk to Dylan about what's polite to talk about in public. 

And to teach him how to pee in public more discreetly.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Calling all parents...

Dylan has been having some behavior problems at school.  He's been bullying other kids, lying about it, and being totally blase about punishment.  He is also refusing to follow instructions.

He does all of these things at home, but not as much as he seems to be going them at school.  We had to have a chat with the school's "behavior specialist," Mrs. Cook, on Tuesday.  It was humiliating, to say the least.

The thing is, I KNOW why Dylan is acting up.  And I told them why he's doing it.  Dylan is tired.  No, scratch that.  Dylan is exhausted.  He only misbehaves when he's tired or hungry, and I know he's not hungry.  He goes to school on a full stomache and has access to fruit and veggies and drinks while he's there.  Up until just a few weeks before he started school, he was taking a 2 hour + nap every afternoon, and he still needs it!

Mrs. Cook wants to arrange a home visit to take a look at our discipline/rewards techniques.  I told her it wasn't necessary.  We are doing everything right.  I am the most consistent parent I know.  Seriously, I am!  I am not a natural parent, so I analyze everything I do like crazy.  I also make sure to encourage my children when they do something well because, once more, that doesn't come naturally either.  We do the naughty step.  We take away priveliges when Dylan disobeys.  We don't allow him to hit or bully his sister or any other kids he comes into contact with.  We really are doing everything right.  But she still wants to do this home visit, and she encouraged me to seek 2 year funding for Edith to go to nursery a few times a week.  She didn't say that it was so she wouldn't develop these same behavior problems, but it was heavily implied.

So how do I make them see that it is just exhaustion that is causing the problems?  And how can I resolve the issue?  The kids go to bed at 7pm, and they wake up between 5:30 and 6am.  We can NOT get them to sleep any later, no matter what we do.  I could try putting them to bed earlier, but Dylan will still have been awake for 6 hours when he goes to school and will still need a nap, which he will not take!

The obvious solution is to put Dylan in morning school, but we put him in the afternoon session because otherwise he would never get to see his dad. 

So, my question to all the parents out there is this:  What can I do to discourage his disobedience and bullying?  Where do I go from here?

I know the teachers are not exaggerating.  My kid is a monster when he's tired!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...

The intrepid adventurers never let a little bit of rain stop them!

Here's the proof that I was there, too.

The mausoleum.  It was built for somebody's wife who died in the 1700's at the ripe old age of about 34.  As Martin said, "All this for just one person.  It's no Taj Mahal, but he must have really loved her!"

Such an incredible view!  We wanted to walk further, and the rain wasn't about to stop us.  But the sound of shots being fired in the distance did the job that the rain couldn't.  We'll definitely be back here in the spring to explore properly!

Crazy Dylan...

I just love this picture of Dylan, because he looks like some kind of crazed boxer getting revved up for the big fight.  Please note the cut on his forehead, courtesy of our coffee table.  Really, it only adds to the image of psychotic athlete, doesn't it?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Cute kids doing silly things...

Enjoying a read and a cuddle.

Fun Forest adventures.

Ooooh, ball pool...

Beer belly.