Sunday, March 25, 2007

A rather large hole!

What do you get if you put:

All your eggs in one basket, depend on one week out of 52 for dear life, a small cramped room with space for 3 in which you cram 5, a five hour airplane journey and six hour delay, no vegetables or fruit for significant periods of time and an overload of sugar, a limited supply of toys and no really safe free running and energy release zones, no access to a working toilet for at least four or five hour intervals, no phone reception and several hundred $$$ down?????


The average family holiday!

Okay, but let's be totally honest, it wasn't a great start, the day due to leave, we were hit by a Nor'Easter leaving us 3 inches, falling snow and a dismal forecast for the next 24, but we are seasoned travellers, we improvise, we got a cheap motel room near the airport the night before determined that we would travel to hotter climes, even if it killed us........and it damn near did! Bundled wee bairns into the car for a three hour trip to said motel, then tried to find food, which one would think would be easy in the 21st century in NYC near the airport.........

So of the necessities for human comfort we had warmth so far, food was a comin' courtesy of Mr Pizza man (who obviously had to get his bow and arrow and go out and shoot the bastard pizza!) and sleep would be in the making (almost! Suffice to say that, after a very late pizza arrival and rubber sheets on everyones bed, indigestion and an accute awareness as to how many times each person rolled over in the night was actually more true.)

Moan moan moan moan moan then...........

It is a little like childbirth I think.........alllllrrriiiiggghht! so I HAVE to make a corrolation, but bear with me! You know before you have kids, everyone claims to prepare you? You think life will continue, you have taken the classes, seen the pictures, you have a high pain threshold then......


It is nothing LIKE the pictures, it blows your breath away, you know it is similar to the pictures but nothing, nothing prepares you for the reality. This was a view that no picture or video that we shot will ever really do it justice. The actual visual connection was just incredible. I had never felt so in awe of nature until I saw the Grand Canyon.

In the two brief days that we were there we managed to turn ourselves into geology and nature boffs going on trips to learn about all the flora, fauna and geology we could. Books have been bought in abundance for hope of further quenching of this thirst that it has given us all. T. was truly in his father, like son *yawn*.

And then on to Sedona.

This is truly a cheap shot. It doesn't reflect in any shape or form the unbelievable redness of the sandstone rocks, nor the surrounding landscape which all adds to the awe of these structures of weathered and erroded rock stuck up in the flats. We resorted to buying a couple of professional pictures to try to capture the real depth of colour. These rocks change dramatically with the conditions of the weather (believe me, we did a bloody good job of seeing all these weather conditions in four days! I quote our guide " we only get about 60 out of 360+ days as rain in a year" - GREAT they saw us coming!) However, we are British, a little ponsey rain up a 4000 ft mountain in an open top jeep with hail ain't gonna stop us !! I. slept through it, awoke on the top of the mountain in the hail with a "yahoo!!!" and LOVED the plastic poncho, which we have kept for Niagara next week! and bar the intense cold (35F) watching the weather come in, hail on us, lightening on us and then clear to sun, was again, reassuring me of the power of nature and the frailty of human life.

This one is Phoenix. Actually for the record, this was the first picture taken on the trip. As an ignoramus I was all ready for the abundance of cacti and "desert" flora at the Canyon. Of course, the Canyon is some 7000 feet above sea level, way too high and too cold for cacti other than the prickly pear! Fortunately both my 6 and 4 year old were of the same mentality, as was R, so I feel better. We saw more pine trees than any other tree, in fact on the days when it rained and the mist came down, it actually gave Ullswater a run for its money!

Our last day was spent trying to track down some Membrillo for a friend who went to school in Phoenix. Map-less and without any remote idea of the city, we trailed through the streets searching for liquor!! Unfortunately to no avail. I am not sure if this is a sign of our age? Alcohol that we used to drink as students is no longer around?? or perhaps we were just not frequenting the right suburbs?? Speaking of age, today I have turned 35! Well I actually turned it at 9pm in Phoenix, or was that 4am in the UK? but then the clocks were turned forward last night, so that would have made it 5..........funny feeling - time, age, nature......small people in a very tiny pond.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Locked in a bog with a shaggy dog

"What is a promise?" asked W

T - "Something you can't break."

W - "What never?"

T - "Sometimes you can. For example; if you wanted to ride your bike but it was broken and mum promised she would fix it and on the morning that she went to do it there was a fire. It started in England and went over the water to Ireland where we lived, and we had this sprinkler and then there was so much water that there was a flood, so we used the sprinkler to put out the fire, but the hose made a flood...................."

Well, it would be a great excuse!!

Until today, we had turned the locks around on our bathroom doors so that a small toddler couldn't open the doors and go in the bathroom without our knowing. Little Miss Beehive has been able to open the locks and the doors, with great delight, pretty much from the week after we turned them around! However, as with the life in the Beehive, we haven't gotten round to returning them to the original place despite them being defunct in their purpose right now. It is possible to turn them to locked and still close the door, hence making getting out again, impossible.

Where am I going with this? (See where he gets it?)

Little Miss Beehive has a new game.........wait until unsuspecting person goes into the bathroom pre-occupied with the job in hand not hiding imp or already boobytrapped door lock, then out she springs with the stealth of a weasel and locks the poor bugger in the lav, along with any malodourous business.
Of course, yesterday, doing it on the day T. had a friend to play so the 90 decibels that we normally have had been upped to 120!! No way on earth was I going to be heard from the depths of crapperland.........fortunately, as luck would have it, (after about 10 minutes of me hollering and wondering whether I would be better still stuck in the loo when the mother of the playmate arrived in about an hour's time, or on the patio with a broken part) a small female Houdini just happened to be passing after biding her time and probably chuckling with glee at her achievement.

"wassamadda mammy?"

"I, the door is locked, can you open it for me please?"

"shuremammy, I save you."

Life resumes as normal!

I am currently looking into a short week getaway for the kids and I during the summer in between our guests. My favourite option at the moment is THIS

Is this just tomfoolery ? You can't possibly get locked in a Yurt.................

can you?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sunnier climes

Yay! In only a few more days we are going to be heading away from here for here. I am in the midst of trying to pack clothing for a completely different climate whilst sitting here in the early early days of a late starting spring. We have been on a hunt for sandals today.......not easy considering many of our friends are spending spring break skiing, so you can imagine the stock in the shops right now is still pretty wintery.
The rest of the packing hasn't been too hard courtesy of friends and my sister's hand me downs for I., W fitting into T's clothes from last year and T's passion for wearing shorts until the depths of winter which has meant he has a plentiful supply! I am having to cull the quantities of dinosaurs, cars, dressing up clothes and play food that keeps appearing in back packs and for every item that I put in folded I. takes it out, "re-folds" it and puts it somewhere else often in her little basket that she is "mepakin". If we make it with two complete pairs of armbands and enough underwear for a week we will have done well the thought of going commando in a Snow White dress doesn't fill me with excitement!!!!

This weekend the clocks went forward. The US have decided that, in a way to reduce energy, they are going to have daylight saving time from early March through November. I do love the longer evenings, it certainly gives a spring/summer air to it all, but where are we saving?? The idea is that we will use lighting and heating less or put it on later in the evening as the nights will be lighter etc.....but surely, the mornings are now darker longer, so the lights will be on longer the other end? I can't honestly see that doing it this way around will save that much, particularly as R's work has decided to replace most of the "crackberries" as they couldn't cope with the clock change. Well, it is a "gesture", GB is very good at making gestures!
I am grateful though that for three short weeks, the US and the UK are only going to be 4 hours apart from each other, which makes trying to speak to friends and rellys a little easier.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


You know when you have been too long in one place:

Today's discussion at the lunchtable:

W. is singing an African song in the local language (I have no idea which) that he learned at school and sang at gathering yesterday. I suggested that I would like to video tape him singing it. Naturally T. wants to be taped too singing a song and decides that he will sing a song in Hebrew that he learned for the Winterlight concert.

W: Where is Hebrew

Me: It isn't a country, it's a language that they speak in parts of the world.

W: Where do they speak Hebrew?

Me: Israel,

T: Jordan, they speak it there?

Me: Well there might be people there who speak Hebrew.

W: Eye-Rack?

OMG! *Shock*

Is that like a shoe rack then???

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Plastic Hell

I HATE packaging! What IS it with companies that makes them think that they need to triplewrap everything in uber tight adult proof seals??

I am slowly putting my "holiday-head" on, you know, the "we are sitting here in the remnanats of snow but I have to think about temperatures in the desert" kind of thoughts and starting to pull out the kid's summer clothes etc and so each year when we fly I pack a couple of "surprises" in their backpacks along with colouring books and word searches, that hopefully will give them something new and novel to play with on the journey, nothing expensive I suppose, if you like - cheap tat! But, it occupies them and then they have something to play with on holiday.
But it overwhelms me that there is this need for two layers of plastic, one layer of cardboard and then a load of wire ties or cotton to hold everything in place. At the end of the day, the packaging costs more than the toy!

Another minor irritation I have with unecessary crap is charities that think that if they send me a useless pen that will write just long enough for me to sign my name on their donation form, I will give them money? No, I will send their pen back and give to a charity that doesn't waste my donation on gimmicks. I remember once having this discussion with someone who worked for a charity and apparently the research behind it is that they (the charities) believe that more people will sign the donation forms if there actually is a pen to hand........I think many people will actually do the opposite. I prefer to send my money to a charity I believe in that doesn't fill my mail box with forms, pens, free bags, post-it-notes with my name on etc etc. My donation would be worth double without the sweetner.

There was a news item in Green Parent this Feb/March issue encouraging people to leave their unecessary food packaging at the checkout. Who needs aubergines heat sealed in cardboard trays, or, this one I love (not!) apples set out in carton holders of four, each in their own individual little dip, somewhat like eggs, then heat sealed, for me to then take home to my house (this is hypothetical people!!), take OUT of the plastic and then bin my plastic packaging in a plastic bin liner because.......guess what, it isn't recyclable plastic........aggghhh!

Come on people, get over it, it is time to fight back and remove all this plastic from the shelves, do you think it is making your fruit and veg TASTE better, of course it isn't........get out your shopping trolleys and string bags......break the cycle, if we, as consumers don't show companies that we really don't need this, it ain't gonna change.

Phew, rant over!

From a plastic perspective
The Beehive

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Circumlocutory fecal evacuation!

Today my gremlin side has crept into my parenting!

Yesterday we were at a presentation evening at ds#1's school. He, along with his fellow classmates, were demonstrating in pairs, different work activities in the classroom. T and his partner were doing a presentation on Time Zones. Parents passed from station to station listening to the children give repeated performances of their material.

Anyway, that aside, the evening ran on and we left around 8.15pm, which for T's bedtime is getting late. On the way home in the car T brought up the subject of Plate tectonics (one of the topics at the presentation that evening) and this led onto earthquakes and volcanoes....then lightening...bad things.........keep with me,......and eventually God!!

"Why does God have bad things on the earth that kill us?" was his question. I am sure I have told you before, I find these questions among some of the hardest to answer with my children. Give me questions on reproduction any day over these. I feel that however I answer him I am influencing what he believes in and he isn't satisfied with "some people believe" But what IS there, what do YOU think???

I was brought up as a Christian in a church going family and I believe there is something, but what I don't know, whether it is a god or spirits I am very unsure. He asks me how he can come back in this life if he has been killed, where will he go? I know these are only the same questions any parent gets asked, death, dying, who am I? but the answers are hard to give and allow him to think and feel freely rather than the way I or R. do.

This is just something I am sure, with time, will come to me and he will find his own course of belief. So.......I am now somewhat brain dead from all the questions.

We curl up to read a story after he decides to have some more breakfast (before bed!!) and then finally at around 9pm he heads upstairs and R. arrives in with yummy Japanese food!

By 10.30 I am also in bed, I think I have a cold coming.

12.20, He is up! Bad dreams, bed clothes off, thirsty etc. He is dutifully tucked back in, dreams blown away, kissed and I donate my drink of water for his thirst.
I fall back to sleep

1.20am, back again. This time........tbh, I can't truly remember, but there are shadows and might be more dreams etc. This time R. goes, I hear stern words, roll over and try to get back off.
2 minutes later I think I can hear affected sobbing ( you know the kind - "sniff! sob! silence", volume increases, "sharp intake of breath, sniff, sob" silence - is anyone listening to me? let's up it a notch... "sniff, small cry out - test the water, sniff again, sob!")

Okay, that is IT! I am up, in the room, lay down the law:
"You are safe, you have had a bad dream, I am sorry you have had a bad dream, but that is all it is, a dream. I am tired. I have given you everything I have in me tonight, my head is hurting from all the questions, I want to sleep. You were up at 12, now 1 and I want you to go to sleep......NOW! You have my water, you have me awake and I won't be able to go to sleep now until at least 3! This is not fair, it is every night (actually, at the moment it is, so that was justified!). I do not want to hear from you again until the morning, do I make myself clear? I will tuck you back in, kiss you goodnight and then I am going back to bed!" aaaaggggghhhh

Now I am awake, I need to pee, I can't sleep, my head is now thinking about what I said, and then about other things I need to do tomorrow.........gggggrrrrr

This morning is another day........on the way into school one of the teachers accosts me. Young Master Beehive is something of a celebrity in the staff room so it appears! He is quite reknown in the school for his many, many questions and curiosities and love of garrulous, verbose confabulation..........but last night at the presentations, apparently one or the teachers overheard him saying to his fellow presenter with a heavy sigh "I am so tired of talking."

Shame how these things don't last !

Yours wordily
The Beehive

Saturday, March 03, 2007

La langue maternelle or Lingo de Gringos!

Language is fascinating!

This afternoon I have been speaking with my mum who is currently trying to learn Spanish. As a household we regularly went to France for vacation time and therefore we spoke French, with the exception of my father, who had the vision that if he wore a flat cap and socks with his sandals and then repeated his desire in a louder volume he would be understood wherever he went - sorry dad, but 'tis true! That said, he always managed to get that extra good bottle of vin rouge and moules frites. I think over the years, to his credit, he has become better at learning Franglais!

Here in America, the second language is Spanish and all the children have had Spanish assistants in their classes and T. is now taking Spanish lessons. They are continually imersed in Spanish on an almost daily basis and even if they don't become fluent in it before we return to the UK, they will certainly find language learning far easier than us oldies do. There is research to say that the earlier children start to learn a second language the easier it will be for them to pick up a third or fourth. It is all to do with exercising a certain part of the brain before the age of around 8 years old, it is then harder to do after this age ( a highly simplistic point of view, I apologise!)

So as an adult both my mum and I are finding another language much harder to learn (my mum less than me perhaps because she is of an era where very formal english was taught in school and therefore totally understands the multitude of verbs and tenses!) So she is favouring the book and CD approach, whereas my approach has been much more "on the job!!" I, on the otherhand, have picked up most of the little Spanish I know up from school or a bit when I travelled to Central America as a student, so as you can imagine, it tends to have a rather childish vein to it or is fuelled by my desire for something to drink.

In fact, all in all, my Spanish is somewhat lacking!

I will, to prove this point, leave you today with my Spanish repetoire showing you that, like my father's approach years ago, it is not necessarily about the amount of a language that you can speak that gets you the best things in life.

"Hola, senor, uno cueva por favor. Donde es te patas e pantalone? Mas!"

See, a pint and rampant sex - what more could a girl ask for?(albeit if he is wearing slippers, I figure he might be rather elderly!!)

Hasta luego amigos!!
The Beehive

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Parallel lives!

Happy St David's day!!

This morning I am pissed off to say the least! I promised I wouldn't say anything, so I am going to write instead!

I am sure many of you have mornings really similar to this one so hopefully you can extend your empathy to this!

My morning (so far I hasten to add!)

5.30am - awoken by #1son who is a budding writer and was up with the lark and his creative inspiration (added to that he cannot do anything quietly, so this dawn chorus started with doors banging, pencils being dropped and lights flashing on!), get out of bed to ask him to go back to bed.

5.45 - #2 son, singing

6am - give up sleep as a bad job, get up, huffing and go to bathroom.

6.05 - shower, en route picking up pencils, turning off lights, opening our curtains and removing wet towel from shower room floor where it had been soaking up from a dripping faucet!

6.10 - out of shower, throw on clothes, pick up more pencils, wake up daughter

6.16 - dress after chasing underwear around the house being sported by said daughter on her head! - "me mummy, funny, me mummy, funny!"

6.20 - go downstairs to find husband sheepishly trying to charge battery for #2 son's play today (note - I asked him to do this over a week ago!) engage in small angry spat about his lack of awareness of the rest of the world whilst emptying dishwasher, pouring milk on children's cereal, orange juice into cups and letting dog out.

6.25 - wipe up spills, sort out vitamins, let dog in,

6.27 - re-sort vitamins which have ended up IN the dog! wipe up more spills, put on first load of laundry

6.29 - clear breakfast things and reload the dishwasher, fall over dog who wants to be fed.

6.30 - set off to the cupboard to feed dog, get distracted by remembering to get fish out of freezer for dinner, fall over dog again and remember to feed him

6.31 - Prepare rest of ds#1's lunchbox, fall over dog - pick up spoon that dd dropped at breakfast, check on teeth cleaning situation.

6.32 - chase #2 son around the house to get him to clean teeth, while passing, open lounge curtains, pick up cup from beside a chair, turn off taps that dd has left running

6.33 - go back into kitchen to put fruit into lunchbox, discover dog has emptied lunch box, start over!

6.40 - find dh cussing because video is now not playing the tape. Assures me he will be at the play today with new tape and video, say nothing and roll my eyes, pick up towel and put top back on tooth paste, turn off taps again.

6.45 - go into kitchen to turn off lights, fall over dog - damn forgot to feed him. Notice washing in dryer, empty dryer, F**k feed the dog!! feed the dog.

6.47 - go upstairs to lay out clothes for dd, ds#1 is dressed and playing with superheros, ds#2 is naked and watching. Chivvy ds#2 along, pick up pyjamas, pull back quilt and open curtains in his room.

6.48 - leave room, fall over toys, find dd#1 wearing most of my lipsalve all over her face - "maycup mama!" - remove item from her mitts and proceed to explain that she has enough now and I will put it safely up high until tomorrow, through gritted teeth as I discover I am now sitting in coconut lipsalve and it is on my jeans! Try to scrub off with a tissue!

6.49 - make bed, open curtains, open window, turn on computer, en route pick up dirty washing

6.50 - clean my own teeth whilst changing toilet roll which has been emptied and an new one gotten out, but roll not removed and trashed!

6.51 - go to check on dressing situation. Ds#2 is still naked, ds#1 is still playing, dd#1 is trying to get into a bag of magic tricks that are not hers (still in her PJ's). Remove afore mentioned item explaining gently that it isn't hers.

6.52 - appease and soothe following tantrum.

6.53 - take tantruming child to her own room so we can be distracted and encourage her to dress. She proceeds to diss all the items I have chosen, so we start again - her choices which consists of a completely impractical sweater, but no mind, I am too tired to argue. Get clothes laid out on the floor.

6.54 - turn around to find dd gone again!

6.55 - Open curtains in ds#1's room falling over scissors, paper, books and a blanket, pick all up, and fold blankets, pull back his quilt.

6.56 - Find dd in my bathroom in the bath playing with candles and votives! Remove her.

6.57 - DD finally decides to get dressed - on her own, I come to brush my hair and put on some make up !!!!

6.58 - DH mumbles he is going, steps over recycling and leaves - I forget to check if he has the video camera with him! Mumble back and carry on applying lippy!

7.00 - DD comes through half dressed, knickers, trousers and one sock with her stuffed animal collection for me to admire.

7.05 - Decide to check on ds#2 - still naked, raise my voice, offer a few threats, fall over toys and make a tit of myself, leave.

7.10 - dd1 is now dressed but smelling rather rank

7.11 - "I poohed in my pants"

7.12 - She poohed everywhere. Bath dd, change my clothes and start again.

7.25 - DS#1 - now wearing just a t-shirt and listening to a cd! Cuss, fall over toys, cuss, Dress him, leave room.

7.30 - Small voice "mummy, mummy" - run rushing to find dd wanting to do a puzzle! - you have GOT to be kidding right now??????? Sigh, sit down and do puzzle!

7.45 - Give 5 minute warning to get ready for school. I have PTA meeting this morning, then W's class play so need to go early to get coffee from the shop (I won't survive otherwise!)

7.50 - Time up warning, come to get ready

7.55 - chase up stragglers, find snow pants, snow boots, hats, gloves, coats for respective sprogs, fall over dog!

7.56 - Help dd put on coat and then go to put on mine

7.57 - help dd put coat on again - she thinks this is a game

7.58 - start a search party for ds#1's reader!

8.00 - have one child ready, one child missing and one child in process!

8.01 - go round house turning off lights, pick up towels, fall over dog, pick up puzzle pieces, find reader.

8.04 - Strap smallest enfant in car (helps me keep one child in one place!) go in, give reader to older child, find middle child's hat.

8.05 - hat cannot be found so tears and weeping commence at high decibels as to why he will be in trouble wearing his spiderman hat (can't wear characters at school). Sigh, turn hat inside out and plonk on his head!

8.07 - Older child now throwing a strop because I will not allow him to just wear his bodywarmer to school, this is after the strops he threw in the early part of the winter because I insisted on long trousers not shorts in temps of less than 40 deg F!!

8.08 - try to reason with ds#1. DS#2 on his way to the car, minus lunchbox and hat

8.09 - follow ds#2 out to strap him in, put hat back on head, take lunch box. Find dd without her boots and hat in the car *sigh* and ignore

8.10 - Chivvy ds#1 out of house in full attire including snow pants to echoes and grumbles of "it's not fair!"

8.11 - phone rings, dh has gotten a new tape, rambles about hoping the machine is not malfunctioning, I mumble incoherently about it not mattering at this point in time!

8.12 - all children strapped in, lock up, get in car and go, picking up recycling on the way.

8.13 - Return to house, unlock door to pick up ds#2's glasses, re-lock house, return to car cleaning glasses on the way.

8.20 - half way to coffee shop realise ds#1 hasn't got his bag with the READER! turn around, swearing rather loudly about responsiblity and servants!

8.25 - arrive back home, pick up bag and reader, get back into car.

8.27 - Cop car pulls a speeder over RIGHT OVER MY DRIVE!!!!! can't get out! FUCK!

8.40- Finally pull out of drive, we are going to now be LATE and COFFEE-LESS!

This is a pretty normal morning for us

This, on the otherhand is the morning as viewed from DH

5.30 - Hear dw get up, roll over

5.45 - Hear dw get up, pull her covers over to my side, roll over

6.00 - feel a sharp pain in lower leg, realise I have been snoring and have all the covers. DW says something that sounds like "6.00 blah blah kids, blah blah covers, blah blah"

6.05 - feel cold, realise dw has gotten up. Look at clock, get up.

6.10 - go downstairs to use the bathroom, find nice novel to read en route, step over recycling.

6.18 - Come out of bathroom, go into kitchen to unload dishwasher.

6.20 - kids all come downstairs making lots of noise demanding breakfast. Hear the word "play". Panic, have flashback, something to do with re-charging video batteries and a child's play today. Disappear to lounge to do this, hope dw doesn't notice.

6.21 - too late!

6.45 - realise I am in shit up to my neck, try desperately to think of good excuses. Not only is the battery not charged, but the fricking tape isn't working. Panic, feel dizzy!

6.50 - No need to confess, the wife has ESP and knows what has been going on. Recieve cold treatment! Like it is MY fault!!

6.55 - have shower, get ready for work, step over towels on the floor, walk past bedrooms wtih curtains shut. Watch wife make beds, think what a babe she is an how I would like to have sex with her right now.

6.56 - awake sharply from daydream. Get dressed, go downstairs to get computer, step over recycling, step over dog.

6.57 - Go back up stairs to kiss wife and tell her I will take the time on my way to work to get another tape for the video.

6.58 - Wife still giving cold treatment, but acknowledges me by offering her cheek.

7.00 - Get into car to go to work. Sigh, what a hard morning! Feel the weight slip away and turn on radio to listen to news!

7.25 - Fly into Walmart to get a new tape.

8.10 Call dw from cell phone to tell her I have found another tape and left it at the school. She will be really happy.

8.11 - Think I better tell her that it could be the video machine that is faulty.

8.12 - Not the best idea I have had in a while. This news was not recieved well!

8.20 - Arrive at work, Secretary has brought in my coffee and look, croissants this morning, yum........check diary.......nothing in for today except a lunch meeting!

Apparently the cost of a wife/mother per year (if she were to have a salary!) is somewhere in the region of £90,000!