Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Lovin'?

Summer's over according to the stores. All the beach brollies are on sale, the swimsuits have 50% off and the shelves are full of long-sleeve Tees and back-to-college room accessories. Purple beanbag and orange desklamp anyone?

Personally, our summer's just getting going.

And by getting going, I mean, summer in the context of that time of year when you're meant to have the time to lounge about in your back garden, catching up on gossip mags or watching the Katie Price/Piers Morgan interview on YouTube (because secretly you're gutted you don't live in England and could have seen it on British TV.) Your kids can run around in their underpants splashing each other in the paddling pool, before popping in for an popsicle and you don't have to live by a schedule. Summer. God love it. Well, who knows if he/she does? Maybe not so much by the amount of rain the almighty has drizzled on us of late.

Suffice to say, I am enjoying not having to chase the boys round the house, waving toothbrushes and pants at them, screaming, "We're late for school. Get dressed!" Or trudging round the supermarket every Thursday morning as I do in term time, as it's the only time in the week I only have one little Monkey with me to deal with, rather than two pulling copious amounts of candy off the shelves.

Not that school's just out for us. No blooming way. Cheeky finished pre-school in May. Yes, M A Y. So we've already done 10 weeks of vacation. And there's 6 1/2 more to go. Not that I'm counting.

But we've packed so much into the first half of the holidays, that I've barely had time to unfold my sunlounger and kick off my Havainas.

We've done, swimming classes twice a week. Cheeky can now:

  • Hold breath underwater

  • Float unassisted on his front

  • Float unassisted on his back

  • Kick 15ft with face in water

  • Paddle 25ft on back

  • Log roll unassisted. (? Exactly, but this has nothing to do with floating turds or branches apparently.)

  • Swim 25ft on front with face in water

I'm very proud and am swiftly trying to get him into the next class up so he can master Breaststroke and Whip kicks. What is a 'whip' kick by the way? Totally selfishly, the better he can swim, the more I can sit by the pool watching and cheering him, rather than get in myself and be dive-bombed by him, his brother and the other 30 kids all enjoying the often freezing water.

Other summer activities so far have also included Pre-school camp. He came home clutching:

  • A cardboard pizza (" We did cooking today Mummy!")

  • A touch and feel textures book ("Look, this is as squishy as you Mummy.") Cheers!

  • A 3D self portrait. (" I wasn't sure if I had a black hat Mummy, so I made it brown.") He has neither. Bless.

  • A necklace. (" It matches my T-Shirt!") Ahh, a stylish man-accessory. I've taught him well.

We did 'Safety Town' mainly because it was only $45 for eight days and a mere bonus that he'd get to learn all about safety in the park, home, on the bus, road, in the car and stranger danger. He came out of each class waving certificates congratulating him that he can now:

  • Call 911 in an emergency. When he wanted to practise this at home, I said we can only call that number if we were in danger or Mummy had collapsed from too much Merlot (joke). He asked, " Is not being able to find Boba Fett's Slave 1 spaceship an emergency?"

  • Know his own phone number and address. Hmm. Not sure he totally deserves that certificate as clearly the teacher filled in his phone number for him and he can only write the numbers 4 and 5. Obviously we dont have a two digit phone number. But he can rattle off his address. Though he sings it like the bad rap his Mummy has taught him, to help him remember it. Hey, I live near Detroit - it's all about the music here.

  • Spot poisons. He had a little stick with what looked like a hedgehog on it, that he ran around the house waving at the bleach, dish-soap, fly spray, mozzie repellant and.... Mummy's perfume. Charming.

  • Stop, look and listen before he crosses the road. At last, he finally pays attention to traffic.

  • Knows red means 'stop' and green means 'go'. This is all very well, except in Michigan you can turn right on some red lights. So now, when I do such a turn I have Mr Traffic Safety in the back, yelling, "But it was red Mummy, you can't go. No!" Plus they teach the kids safe ways to drive (come on, they're only 4 and 5). So now it's like driving with my Mum in the car; "Two hands on the wheel please!" Oh make an exception Officer.

They had a graduation ceremony at the end of camp. Yes, we are in America after all. It was actually very cute and all the kids from the two classes did songs with safety themes and demonstrations, like how to drop and roll if you're caught in a fire. He's very proud of his prowess at that maneouver. My video camera whirred and many snaps were taken and duly sent back to the grandparents in Europe.

No sooner was Safety Town over and we were madly cleaning house for the imminent arrival of Grandparents and Aunty from the UK.

The boys were mostly excited at the prospect of plane-spotting at the airport and raiding Nanna and Grandad's luggage for the much-hoped for arrival of a Millennium Falcon and an At-At. Yes, we're in full Star Wars obsessed mode. But the joy on their little faces when their rellies arrived was priceless.

With the family safely back home with us, I went into full Housewife/Short-order Cook/Entertainment Director mode and their two weeks with us passed in a happy blur of beach trips, ice cream and picnics in the park. We also managed a family en masse vacation to Northern Michigan, where despite them bringing over their pesky rainy English weather, we managed to enjoy lots of nature trails, boat trips, bug-hunting and the spectacular that is the 4th of July celebrations. No, we didn't wave our Union Jack. Thought that might be a tad inappropriate.

Having family to stay is always bittersweet. Sweet because obviously we miss them, but also they always bring a stash load of UK yummies for us to enjoy. This visit we got extra lucky because apart from the usual PG Tips teabags and Colgate Smiles toothpaste (I'm no fan of US fruity kids toothpaste) we got:

  • Custard Creams (Bit like the white Oreos for you US readers)

  • Birds Dream Topping (A de-lish kind of British Miracle Whip)

  • Hula Hoops (Hoop shaped chips)

  • Mint Club biscuits (Mint and chocolate cookie bars)

  • Walkers French Fries, salt and vinegar flavour (Fry shaped chips) Him Downstairs has seriously hidden these under our bed, so the kids don't snaffle them!

  • Minstrels (Chocolate candy - bit like a huge M&M)

  • Revels (Little milk chocolates with different flavours inside like, orange, toffee, raisin, coffee. The orange ones are all mine. You hear?!)

  • Mint Viscounts (Err, I love a bit of mint and dark chocolate in a cookie bar format.)

  • Paracetamol (Like Advil. Does the best job for Menstrual cramps in my book.)

  • Covonia cough medicine. (Looks like blacktop tar, but 'tis the best cough elixir I've ever found.)

  • M&S Percy Pigs (Seriously the nicest chewy fruity candy in the world. Ever. Fact.)

  • Cadbury's Buttons (Little disc shaped milk chocolates. A kid winner.)

So now our treat box is over-flowing and we shall be rationing them out until the next lot arrive.

The visit went well. Better than expected if I'm honest. I'm not the easiest of daughter-in-laws and one wrong step and I'm about to strike you off my Christmas card list. When I went back to England earlier this year, theirs was the house I was least looking forward to visiting. And whoops, I probably made that abundently clear. However, life is too short to hold grudges, especially when you only get to see your family for a fortnight once or twice (if you're lucky) a year. So, I shock off my niggles and welcomed them with a good daughter-in-law smile.

You could probably feel their relief all the way back in the UK!

Anyway, the boys thought three new playmates in the house was the best summer present ever and they duly set about completely exhausting their relatives. Nanna was heard to say she needed another holiday after spending two weeks running round being Luke Skywalker or Obi-Wan on demand.

But with them now safely back in England, despite their horrific 7 hour delay at Detroit airport(It's no Heathrow. Once you've done one gift shop and bar, you've kind of done them all. But hey, they didn't lose their luggage) we can finally relax and enjoy the rest of a schedule-free summer.

Of course, next week, the boys will have driven me mad and they'll be back in summer classes and day camps, but for now, I'll just try and live the Stay-at-home and play with my children 24/7 dream. Cue TV on for them and bottle of wine opening and eyes down for a dose of Hello magazine for me!

No, summer's not over. It's only just begun....


  1. I have heard the British weather has taken over the midwest this summer...sorry to hear. :( I have to agree with you now that Percy Pigs are possibly the BEST candy I have encountered. I still require an array of US goods over here in the UK, but I would imagine when we move back to the US, I will somehow be finding a way to get my supply of Percy Pigs there! Enjoy the rest of summer.

  2. You just reminded me I need to sign mine up for swimming classes!!
    Glad all went well with the rellies and they bought you lots of treats. See, they are nice?!
    Sounds like you have been busy. I am only on day one of the holidays and already there are raised voices and the threat of rain...:o(
    When are you starting your next project? BABY NUMBER 3??????????

  3. Sounds like you got the camps thing sussed, which is more than I have. Safety school sounds fab. And v impressed by Cheeky's swimming prowess. We arrived too late to sign Littleboy 1 up for swim classes, so he'll have to go in the autumn in an indoor pool.

    Here's hoping the weather cheers up (it's been OK in July here, but June was appalling).

  4. I've been living in Canada for four years (from England also) and oh, when I read your food list I practically jumped out of my chair. Custard Creams - I forgot about those! French Fries - those too. Percy Pigs - I'd kill for a pack. And I always ask my parents to bring Disprin when they come.

  5. WTAGSN - Hi and thanks for stopping by! It';s funny to hear you have become a fan of the Percy Pigs. There's US candy/chocolate that we'd miss if we wet back to UK. Goldfish crackers and Tootsie Rolls to name a couple of things. Yum!

    CTTF - Yes, you were right. As usual!It was lovely to see them. We even had the first tears and sobbing at the airport goodbye from firstborn. Guess he totally understands that his rellies don't live near us, so that was a bit traumatic....
    As for baby no.3 er yes....I'm working on that. But then I have days where I just love my sleep so much that I totally go off the idea!

    NVG - Camps rule. I found the idea all a bit odd when I first got here, but then when I realised exactly how many loong weeks of summer hols we'd have to fill and I figured my activities ideas box wasn't full enough and there'd be tears an tantrums (mostly from me) within a week if i didn't do something about it!
    Good luck with your adventure. Am sure by fall you'll have the Littleboys all signed up.

    LM - Am laughing at your comment - it's amazing what UK goodies you never ate when you lived in England, you suddenly crave when you can't buy them locally!
    Thanks for visiting my blog. Nice to 'meet' you! How's Canada for you?
    Disprin - gosh I remember my Mum dissolving that for me in orange juice when i was poorly as a kid. Memories...!