Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I have the best family...

Today Dylan did some writing. 

He wrote "mom," "dad," Dylan," and "Edith."

Ok, so it's not Shakespeare.  But he wrote "mom" without even asking us how to spell it.  He did "dad" all on his own as well.  He's got hos own name down pat.  He had to have a little bit of help with "Edith," but it is a tricky one.  He thought you spelled it with an "f" at the end.  He's gone from completely uninterested in reading and writing to the star pupil pretty much overnight.

Edith just keeps getting cuter.  As she gets older, her personality becomes more apparent.  She's a bossy little madame, but she's so kind and caring as well.  Oh, my little ginger firecracker!

And my husband...well, I am seriously lucky.  He does it all.  He's loving, devoted, hard-working, and a great father.  I mean, sure he has his faults.  Don't we all?  But I love him to pieces, even though he's completely incapable of cleaning up after himself.

I had a slightly surreal moment in Tesco on Monday.  I had a person I've never met turn around and say, "Oh, you're Jamie.  And that must be Dylan and Edith."  Turns out, she's a friend of Emma and Lewis and she reads my blog, which is linked to theirs (I didn't get your name, but it was nice to meet you).  That's never happened before.  Most of the time, this blog just seems like I'm talking to myself and putting up pictures for my mom.  I've always thought I was kind of a private person.  Except now I publish most of the details of my life on-line.  Is it strange that I never really thought of it that way before?

Friday, June 24, 2011

A REAL red letter day...

Today I got the best piece of mail I've had all year!

When we last visited Utah (before Edith was born) Dylan had two seizures.  We'd upgraded our bank account to include travel insurance just one day before we left on the trip, but we found out after we got home that they'd signed us up for the wrong policy and Dylan wasn't covered.

We lodged an official complaint, which our bank denied.  So we took it to the next level, and lodged a complaint with the financial ombudsman.  It took a long time to recieve a decision, but we finally got it in the post today.

Our bank is going to have to pay the medical bills.  They are going to have to pay an additional 8% per annum interest.  In addition, they are going to have to pay us a small sum as compensation for the stress and inconvenience caused (I didn't ask for that part).  So we can finally pay those bills, and we can donate the sum that Primary Children's Medical Center wrote off for us back to them.  And my mom and dad can finally stop getting harassed by bill collectors who refuse to give up and also refuse to make an international phone call to pursue their cash.

I was so excited to get the letter, I literally cried. 

In parenting news, Dylan has been having a hard time at school.  He's been fighting with other students, hitting them, throwing things, and just generally disobeying his teachers.

Of course, this means that he hasn't been able to watch bedtime cartoons.  That's the standard punishment for bad behavior at school.  But Edith is old enough now that skipping bedtime cartoons all together is a punishment for her, too.  So last night I gave the kids their bath first and then sent Dylan up to bed.  Edith and I stayed downstairs and watched cartoons without him. 

Wow, he really did not like that at all.  He screamed for 45 minutes.  I didn't cave in, though.  I stuck to my guns. 

I was totally Zen!

(Thank you, Zumba, for wearing me out and helping me vent my anger and NOT take it out on my kids.)

Today when I dropped Dylan off at school, I told his teacher about his home punishment if he had to stand out at school so she could use it as an incentive for good behavior.  And guess what...it worked!  He was great at school.  So great that I agreed to let him have a sleepover with Nathan and Esaias Munday.

The neighbors are replacing the wall in the back garden.  It was falling over and the mortar was crubling to pieces.  I'm a bit sad, because they are replacing it with a modern panel fence.  No more secret garden brick wall--at least, not on the north side.  But it's going to look good.  Better than the back end of their cheap old fence they put in when they first bought the house.  We're just going to need to put some climbing plants on a trellis to get back some of the character.  They've spent the last two days ripping out the old wall, and the new fence is going in tomorrow.

I am also going to take Dylan to play football tomorrow morning.  I'm not sure if they'll let him play, because he is technically still too young.  But he certainly doesn't look or act too young.

Speaking of Dylan looking grown up, he got a new haircut today.  It's a bit Justin Beiber-ish, and he looks so adorable.  He asked me to start combing his hair flat instead of spiking it up, and this cut was the next step.  He's really starting to be interested in what he wears and how his hair looks.  And wow, he's going to be a looker.

I swear, next time I'll mention my daughter a bit more.

And that's the news.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I have a strange relationship with my two dads.

My mom and dad split up when I was just a baby.  Then my mom remarried an amazing man who already had two daughters of his own (I just started humming the Brady Bunch theme song).  They joined their families very successfully and then had two daughters together.  Later, in an attempt to diffuse the estrogen, they adopted a son.

I have called my stepfather "dad" since I was about 3 years old.  He raised me, and treated me like his own daughter.  I love him dearly, and always will.  Most of the time, it doesn't even occur to me that I'm not actually his!

And my father?  Well, we lost touch over the years.  I had a new family, we moved far away, and with each passing year it became more and more awkward that we hadn't seen each other.  He always sent me birthday and Christmas cards and gifts, and included his contact information.  He left it up to me, whether I would see him or not.  That's a big decision for a little girl, and it wasn't one I was capable of making until I was much older.

We finally met when I was 17.  It was really strange.  In the discussion about nature vs. nurture, I'll go 50/50 every time.  I hadn't seen this man since I was about 3 years old.  I was raised by someone else.  But not only did I look just like him, we ARE alike.  We share similar personalities and an almost identical sense of humor.  And when I met the rest of the family later that year, it was like I'd never been away.  I was so much LIKE these people.

So I have two dads--one who gave me life and one who made me who I am.  I am like both of them, and I love both of them. 

Dad, you were and are a wonderful father to me.  I love you so very much for taking on the very difficult challenge of raising a mixed family and doing it with such style, grace, and love.  For always making me feel that I was equal to your "real" children.

Daddy Doug, I'm glad that you're in my life now.  You give me a sense of who I am and have taught me so many lessons, both about you and about myself.  I see the way your life has gone in recent years and really admire the man you are.  I love you, too.

So, to my two dads, thanks for being the men that you are.  Between the two of you, I think I've turned out alright.  So far, at least. 

Let's reserve judgment until we see if I really screw up my own kids.

Happy belated father's day.

I love you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bank Holiday continued...

Bit of a dude...

Taller than Richard!

Getting her diaper changed in the car boot.

More Aysgarth Falls pics...

This is where Robin Hood fought Little John in "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves."  It's also my favorite place in England.  Seriously, this place is beautiful!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Paddling at Aysgarth Falls...

Sitting in an English garden...

Martin's Nanna Steph's garden, to be more precise.  She has one of the most beautiful gardens I've ever seen.  Such an inspiration!

Why Martin is never the "trip photographer..."

We tend to wind up with slightly artistic and totally random photos like these.  There were eleven of them.  You'd never guess that we had been to a duck race in Kettlewell.  But we had been.  Me, Martin, the kids, and Richard and Noelle stopped off on our way to Aysgarth Falls.  We each bought a rubber duck for £1 each (all proceeds going to the church roof fund or some such thing), the ducks were numbered and all let go at the top end of the village.  First place duck "owner" received a £65 prize.  It was a laugh.  Sadly, we mostly just have random pictures of the river and a bunch of ducks floating down it. 

Thursday, June 09, 2011

It's so much easier now...

Edith just woke up crying.

Don't leave me now, because I'm not going to whine about it.  Seriously!

I was just going to say how nice it is that she's talking now.

When I went up to see what was wrong with her, I picked her up and gave her a cuddle.  Then I asked her if she was ready to go back to sleep.

She pointed to my bedroom and said "wreent."

I know it sounds like total gibberish to everyone else, but luckily for me I am (almost) completely fluent in Edithese.

She wanted a drink.  She was pointing to my bedroom because I keep a Nalgene bottle full of water on my bedside table.

One of the most exciting developmental milestones (so far) in my childrens' lives has been the ability to speak.  Oh, language is a real gift.

Newborns are easy.  If they are crying, chances are they either want to be fed or need the mess from their last feed cleaned off their backsides.  Now obviously you have the occasional "other" problems, like over-stimulated, over-tired, teething, etc.  But let's be honest here--I breast-fed my babies until they were quite ridiculously old and if there was something else wrong with them, a little "momma milk" sorted it out anyway.

But somewhere in between the baby stage and the toddler stage is that awkward, annoying and difficult stage when there is no reasoning with them and no comforting them.

Wow, I hate that stage.

They know what they want, but they are unable to tell you what it is.  You want to help them and give them what they want, but you just CAN'T UNDERSTAND! 

Dylan was always a great communicator.  He was slow to start talking, but once he started--well, I haven't been able to get him to shut up since.  He had a few words that were difficult to understand, like "ottaker" instead of "helecopter" and "issinge" instead of orange, but he always spoke so clearly.  Perfect strangers never had any trouble understanding him, even from just two years old.

Edith has been a bit more difficult.  She was a slow starter as well, in a lot of different areas.  And now, well, she's turning into a little chatterbox as well.  But she speaks her own little toddler language that only Martin, Dylan and I understand.

She is completely unable to make a "k" sound, so when she means "pink," what she actually says is "peen-t."
Instead of saying "thank you," she goes "ahh-ahh."

I really love that she has her own little language, but I love it even more that I understand it.

It really is so much easier whan that child learns how to talk.

It's even better when they begin to learn to reason. 

Logic is so very underrated.

Friday, June 03, 2011

A Saturday in Twigmoor woods...

A happy reunion...

The kids just spent about 50 hours with their grandparents.  It's the longest I've ever been away from them, with the exception of when I was in the hospital to have Edith (though she was actually with me the whole time, so it doesn't really count).

They spent two nights in the caravan (that's a trailer for all you Yanks out there) up in Yorkshire, and had a wonderful time.  Martin and I spent two days working on the house.  He built cabinet doors and I cleared out every single junk space in the house.  It was seriously exhausting, but so good to actually get stuff done.  Plus, we got to go see the new X-Men movie and spend time together, which is always nice.

Having kid-free time was a real treat, but I must admit that I was, as always, blown away by the realization of how selfish and self-indulgent our lives were before we had children.  Sometimes I miss that life.  But most of the time, I miss them when they are gone.

I got the best cuddles EVER when they finally got home at about 1pm.  Apparently, they had been asking for me.  But they had a good time.  They went to the beach, had icecream, went for walks, fed the ducks, played croquet and boules, slept together in the big bed in the caravan, and ate all their meals at a special table just for them.

So the house is completely clean, the laundry is all caught up, and we took two car loads of stuff to the local charity shop. 

Hooray for life laundry.

And hooray for having my kids back at home where they belong.