Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Birthday boy...

My baby is 4 years old--I can hardly believe it!

Dylan celebrated his birthday on Monday, and it was a great day for everyone.  He started it out by opening his presents in mom and dad's bedroom (both kids are big fans of playing on our bed), and he loved his presents.  He got a great package from his Auntie Angie and Uncle Greg (and kids) that had some lollies (opened in minutes), Spiderman socks (delighted), and 3 Power Ranger toys (took them with us in the car and played with them the whole way to Manchester AND back).  He also got a few Lego bits and pieces and some Lightening McQueen pajamas, slippers, and a dressing gown. 

It ws just cereal for breakfast, but it seems to be his favorite breakfast food.  Then we got an early start because we were meeting his grandparents and auntie and uncle at the Trafford Centre in Manchester.  Dylan had no idea where we were going, but he was pretty excited about the surprise.

The trip over was eventful.  Not in a bad way, just in an annoying way.  We left on time and were cruising along roughly 20 minutes ahead of our other party members.  Then Dylan had to pee.  In the absence of motorway services, we found a place to pull over so he could go at the side of the road.  Got back on the motorway without any problems--this time.  10 minutes later, he told us he needed to poo.  Once again, no motorway services.  So we pulled off the motorway (again).  Dylan got his trousers and pants, um, slightly dirty this time (dad needs to practice his sitting down hold).  We also couldn't get back onto the motorway and Google Maps was having issues on Martin's phone, so we ended up getting to the Trafford Centre about 15 minutes AFTER the other car.  And we decided never to give our kids Froot Shoots at the beginning of a long drive again.

Anyway, we scarfed down a quick lunch at Pizza Hut and then jogged through the mall to get to our destination in time for our timed ticket entry. 


We walked in and Dylan gazed around with wonder and awe.  He said, "Dad, everything's made of Lego."  And Martin said, "That's because this is Legoland, Dylan."  The look on his face was totally priceless.

We spent the next 3 1/2 hours wandering around Legoland.  Both kids had so much fun.  Cathy and John weren't having quite as much fun, John having celebrated the 8-2 Manchester United win over Arsenal a bit too enthusiastically the night before (he left early for a bit of the hair of the dog...), but I think we all had a nice time.  The highlight, for me anyway, was taking him to the 4-D cinema for the short Bob the Builder show.  Dylan kept his 3-D goggles on the whole time, and watching him duck and swat at things was so much fun.  It even snowed (bubbles) at the end of the film.  And there was a falling birdhouse with "dust" from a smoke machine.  When that one happened, Dylan actually asked me if it had fallen on us!

He opened some more gifts at Nanna's car.  He got more Lego and a Buzz Lightyear dress-up costume.  We grabbed some dinner at McDonald's and started the drive home.  He was asleep within 15 minutes.  He slept until Leeds, where we woke him up to take him to the new Krispy Kreme doughnuts shop.  Oh yes, there's a Krispy Kreme next to Ikea.  Edith and I will be spending many a happy day over in Leeds when Dylan starts school again!

Anyway, we got home just in time to throw the kids into bed.  We were all exhausted and happy.  And when we asked Dylan if he'd had a nice birthday he said, "It was BRILLIANT!"

The best part is, some of his gifts hadn't arrived yet.  So he got to open another present yesterday (from me and Martin) and will get to open two more packages from America.  Those should get here today or tomorrow.  He gets to celebrate his birthday for a whole week!

I love taking my children to places that I know they'll enjoy.  I love watching them have a good time.  I told Dylan that my favorite part of the day had been watching him have a good time, and it was true.  I love giving them gifts, too.  I guess I just love to see them happy.

Dylan and I were talking the other day about his birthday being a special day for me, too.  I told him that it wasn't until he was born that I became a mom.  Before that, I was just Jamie.  So I thanked him for being born and making me a mommy.  And he smiled the most beautiful smile--the one that means he knows how special he is to me.  The one that means he knows his worth.

The last four years have been some of the happiest of my life!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I know, I know.  I've already posted today.  But this is much more exciting than potty training my 2 year old. 

We seem to have acquired a cat.

It showed up this morning and was really affectionate with the kids.  He looked really hungry and he wasn't wearing a collar, so we decided to feed him some lunchmeat from the fridge.  I wanted to call him Schroedinger, but Dylan decided he looks more like a Patches.

He came back at lunch time for some more food and a few cuddles. 

He also came back at dinner time for some more of the same.

So after we finished our dinner, the kids and I went to Lidl and bought some cat food.

Just now, when I put the kids to bed, Patches wandered into their bedroom and said a quick goodnight. 

I am so torn.  I'd love the kids to have a pet, and I have always preferred cats to dogs.  But our stay here isn't permanent, and I don't want them to get attached.  Plus, I don't want an inside pet (purely for allergy reasons).  But the kids both LOVE him, and they are having such a good time playing with him and watching him.  And Patches is a really good-natured and affectionate cat--very good with the kids.

It was nice to have someone to talk to once the kids were in bed, too.

Not for the faint-hearted...

We are potty training Edith, and it is a dirty job!

It's also a huge leap of faith, and a big deal for anyone who has a weak stomach or values their carpet.

Think about it--you are taking the diaper off a very young child and trusting that they'll have the bladder control necessary to NOT wet or soil your carpet.  You're counting on someone who just BARELY learned to speak to tell you when they need to pee.  And you are preparing to scrub your floors with heavy-duty disinfectant!

Edith had her first pooping accident yesterday.  Thankfully, Martin was at home to help me deal with it.  He cleaned up the solid waste and our daughter.  I got to spray down the rug.  Martin scrubbed the carpet.  NASTY!

And, sadly, three things crossed my mind when I saw the not-so-little present Edith had left for us.  The first thing was, Oh.  $h*% (literally).  The second was, how did she ever get THAT out of her tiny bottom.  The third was, maybe I should stop giving her so much fruit for the next month.

Life gets very weird when you have children. 

Sometimes I really miss having cats.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Humber Bridge Country Park...

Brocklesby estate walk...


Normanby Hall...

Why I love England, reason #759

Yesterday we went to the dentist.  We have a big family appointment every six months with Dentist Steve over in Hessle (just outside of Hull).

Everyone was cavity free and the kids were GREAT for their checkups.  Martin and I also got a quick de-scale and polish, which I haven't had done since we moved here in 2005.  It made me think...

Dental care is not as good here as it is in the U.S.  I'm not being negative about England--just stating a fact.  Americans are notorious for being "obsessed" with teeth.  But knowing that the care is not as good has encouraged me to take better care of my teeth.  So the reason I love England is that the dental care has made me take more responsibility for myself.

Oh, and we get it for free because of our very low income.

After our dentist appointment, the kids and I dropped Martin off at the train/bus station and we went on a picnic.  I took them to the Humber Bridge Country Park, which is the park on the Yorkshire end of the Humber Bridge.  It was amazing!

The picnic was average, but I bought strawberries (which Edith ate her own weight in) and crisps (which Dylan went mad for), so the kids were happy.  Then we went for a wander and explore, because we'd never been there before.  We discovered a local nature reserve down in an old quarry site.  I have never seen anything so beautiful, mysterious, and peaceful.  I got some lovely pictures, which I will try to post later.

So that is the other reason I love England--and the one that I always come back to.  It is so beautiful here.  I want to move home more than anything, but that's only because my family is in Utah.  I would happily stay in England forever if they would just move here with me.  I love the health care system, the culture, the history, the cities, the countryside.  Man, I even love the weather.  Most of the time.

This day 4 years ago was my due-date for Dylan.  Kind of wild.  I can hardly believe it's been 4 years since then.  I remember how anxious I was to have him.  I was so heavily pregnant and miserable.  I hadn't slept properly in weeks and my whole body ached.  My ankles had disappeared.  My pelvis was seperating and rolling over in bed at night was an agonizing 5 minute process.  Dylan would get massive hiccups and I could feel his head banging against the bones in my pelvis.  I was waking up at 4am every morning to pee.  And, though I didn't know it then, I had 10 days to go.

It seems like yesterday and a decade ago all at once.  Did I ever NOT have children? 

Some excitement on the Edith front.  Yesterday she went diaper free for 2 hours with no accidents.  She finally did a proper pee on her potty, too.  Her bladder control is excellent, though she continues to show no interest in being potty trained.  She just prefers to wear diapers.  I think she is lazy and likes them for convenience.  But she also told me when she was pooping--not after, but just before and during.  It's a good sign, right?

I'm finally seeing the light at the end of my 4 year long bottom wiping tunnel, and it's looking pretty good!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The old tricks are still the best...

When Dylan was a baby, he would not sleep during the day if we were in the house.  Let me tell you, it was torture.  If I wanted him to have a nap, I had to take him for a walk or a drive.  And the second we walked through the door, he would wake up.  I was exhausted, and I never got anything done in the house.  Ever.

I tried EVERYTHING to get him to sleep.  And I got so tired of people saying, "Well, have you tried ...(fill in the most obvious solution here)?"

So one day when I bumped into an old co-worker of Martin's, I nearly shut out her suggestion.  But it was something I'd never tried before and it was worth a shot.  She said, "Have you tried lying down with him when you put him down for a nap?"

I tried it.

It worked.

Life became much more restful and I became a much better mother and nicer person.

Last night, Martin took Dylan to a football match.  It was Leeds v. Hull at Elland Road, and kick-off was 7:45pm.  We told Dylan that he could only go if he promised to have a nap the next day.  The kid wakes up at the same time every morning, regardless of what time he got to sleep.  He promised, but went back on it today.  So I tried the old trick from when he was a baby.

He fell asleep in my arms.

That was nearly 2 hours ago.

It was beautiful.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

With friends like these...

...who needs enemies. 

No clever puns or plays on words.  Just that.

I think I have a "frenemy," and I have been reminded over the last few days why I always preferred to have male friends.

This friend of mine always makes me feel like a bad person when I talk to her.  And it always has to be me who contacts her.  She humiliates me on public forums (like Facebook--not private messages, but on her Wall).  She told me that she'd seen my husband cheating on me. 

So why do we stay friends?  I really like hanging out with her.  She's fun, smart, witty, and intelligent.  Once upon a time, we were really good friends.

Or maybe I just don't want to admit that my initial judgment of her could have been so wrong.

I can't stand "girl games."  I've never been able to.  Even Martin was surprised by the way that I don't do passive-aggressive guilt tripping and barbed compliments.  For the longest time, he would assume that I was playing little mind games with him.  But I say what I mean, and I mean what I say--and I assume that other people do the same.  This is a good thing, but it's left me ill-equipped when it comes to dealing with people who DO like to play games. 

I don't understand why you'd even remain "friends," whether on Facebook or in real life, with someone you didn't like.  If she doesn't like me, she should just tell me so, un-friend me, and move on.  It would be an easy thing to delete her mobile number from my contacts.  I have a very busy (if somewhat dull) life and wouldn't miss the barbed compliments, accusations of nastiness, public humiliation, highlighting of character flaws, and lies about my husband's fidelity.

Why are women so horrible to other women?

On the flip side, I had a lovely couple of girlie hours with Emma today (so now you know it's not her)!  The kids went to Hall Farm with their grandparents, so Emma and I had a garra fish pedicure, shopped at the local charity shops, and got some lunch.  She reminded me of why it's nice to have girlfriends.  She is such a lovely person--a genuinely kind, caring woman who I really admire.

Obviously, though, I like my "frenemy" as well.  Otherwise, what she said wouldn't bother me.  Because, quite honestly, I don't give a toss what most people think of me.  Just the ones I care about.

Ugh.  The politics of friendship are so complicated.  It makes me just want to lock my door and only hang out with my children.  They are so simple and honest.  They don't have any ridiculous social filters yet, and they ALWAYS tell the truth.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Knights and fairy princesses...

Stupid lungs...

I'm recovering now from a nearly 4 week long bout with cold, asthma, and, as diagnosed on Tuesday, bronchitis.  Thank heaven for antibiotics!

Generally speaking, I am a very healthy person.  Carrying a few extra pounds, yes, but quite healthy.  It's always my lungs that let me down.  If I get any sort of illness that involves my respiratory system, my asthma flares up.  Then my immune system becomes weak, and before you can say "bunch of munchy crunchy carrots," I have a chest infection of some kind. 

I mean, seriously, 4 weeks of illness because of a stupid summer cold?

Martin has been great, though.  Yesterday he took the morning off.  He couldn't take care of me, but he did the next best thing.  He took the kids out to the Deep so the only person I had to take care of was me. 

The kids have been little troopers.  They've been patient and well behaved--especially Dylan.  He is so understanding when I'm ill, and he steps up his game to help me.  Obviously, he has his slip-ups (he's a bit of a nightmare right before bed), but that's only when he's tired.

Tonight when I put the kids to bed, I had one of those moments.  You know the ones--when you love your children so much that it feels like your heart can't be contained in your chest any more.  There is so much love that you are going to explode with it.  And you let it spill out in hugs, kisses, and a few choked back tears.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Dylan's learning to vacuum!

He was so excited when I told him I'd teach him how to vacuum.  I hope this enthusiasm for housework lingers long enough for him to actually get good at it!

The first blackberries of the season...

What we've done this week:

Monday:  Lunch at Pizza Hut, trip to the cinema to see Cars 2 (Dad came with us, it was nice)

Tuesday:  Kids went to Dads' Group and we picked plums & blackberries at Water's Edge.

Wednesday:  Picnic and play at Normanby Hall.

Thursday:  Nerf gun war at Playtowers in Cleethorpes (Lewis's party).

Friday:  Baked cookies with Noelle.  Butterfly and bear ones with pink, purple, yellow and turquoise blue icing!

Saturday:  Nothing, and it was really nice!

I'm going to be happy to have Dylan back at school just so I don't have to be the activities co-ordinator any more.  I need some good ideas!

Next week (please help me fill in the blanks):

Monday:  Either Sutton or Cleethorpes beach or Doncaster Dome (weather dependent).

Tuesday:  Iceskating for Dylan and swimming for Edith in Sheffield.


Thursday:  A ramble throughTwigmoore woods.

Friday:  Feeding the animals and playing on the playground at the Pink Pig Farm.


I don't know how my U.S. family do it, with three months of summer.  I'm struggling to fill 6 weeks!  Of course, we could always stay home.  But I feel so guilty if I don't take the kids somewhere to do something fun--like I'm wasting Dylan's summer holiday.  Plus, Dylan starts to go a little bit stir-crazy and then he picks on his sister.

I really need a bigger back garden.

Having said that, I'm still enjoying having the time with my son.  Just 4 more weeks until he is at school all day long.  My baby, gone for 6 1/2 hours a day.  It's gonna be weird with just me and Edith rattling around in this big old house.  Weird, but nice.

Now, some more pictures of our summer fun:

Doing a bit of baking at Eureka!

We got to see how a toilet works!

Craft time.

In a giant honeycomb--couple of busy bees!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Summer fun...

So it's just over a week into Dylan's summer holiday, and we are having a good time!

Today I didn't really feel up to a lot of "fun," so I left it all to Martin and our local Dads' Group.  But I did take Dylith down to Water's Edge to pick wild plums for dessert.  That was really nice.

We had a good weekend, as well.  On Saturday I let Dylan decide what we did.  He chose the 20/21 Gallery in Scunthorpe, and we had a lovely time playing on the "touch and feel" exhibit.

They were especially cute playing dress-up and knights and fairy princesses together.

We popped in to Primark afterwards, and the kids tried on hats.  I had to put this picture up because, well, WOW!  Dylan is just so beautiful...

On routines...

The kids and I have been in a routine for over three years.  Dylan since he was around 6 months old, Edith pretty much since birth.  And it's been nice, too.  It's good to know that the kids will eat at regular times and go to bed without too much of a fuss.  It's been almost crucial to my sanity at times, knowing when they would be asleep and for how long, too.

But the kids are a little bit older now, and I'm learning to relax that routine just a little bit.  Part of me is really afraid to do it, because I'm worried that they will stop being such good sleepers and eaters.  But so far, so good.  Last night, we went and picked wild plums for dessert after we finished our dinner.  We got home too late to bathe, but the kids watched bedtime cartoons and went up to bed like little angels.  And on Thursday they are going to have a really late night, but I know that they will sleep in the car on the way home and they will be more than happy to crawl into bed when we get home.

Of course, life is changing now.  Dylan will be going to school full-time in September and it will just be me and Edith all day long.  And the summer holiday is shaking things up as well.  My rigid parenting has had to relax.  It's not a bad thing.  But my system has worked for nearly 4 years, and changing it now is a little bit terrifying.

Speaking of change and terrifying, I had a night out for the first time in nearly 3 years.  On Saturday I went out with my friend Sammi, her boyfriend Sam, and her friend Dan to a nightclub in Hull called Spiders.  I was really nervous about it.  Mostly worried that I would be the oldest one there (I wasn't) and that I would look like a frumpy old housewife (I didn't, if the two lesbians who hit on me are any indication).  It's a metal club, so it wasn't my kind of music and it was a bit of (sub)culture shock.  But I had a really good time.  I've never seen that many silly men and boys playing air guitar in one place before.  And I've decided that it might be a good thing for me to go out a bit more often.  I shouldn't be such a shut-in. 

Emma, let's go have a girls' night once every six weeks or so.  Whadda ya say?

It was very weird to get all dolled up for a night out without my husband.  VERY weird.

Anyway, we're taking the kids to get haircuts and then we're off for a picnic at Normanby Hall.  Time to get this show on the road.

Here's to doing new and exciting things!