Sunday, April 9, 2017

Itchy feet, scratched heads and new beginnings

Hi everyone,

Well this has been a while!  But to be fair Jessica is totally at fault for all of this.

So the biggest news is that after 3 1/2 years of stability Jessica's itchy feet came up again and we'll be on the move next month.  It would be hard to beat our 2010 move of 50yds but we've come close, moving just 31 doors up the street to buy Natalie & Andy's house, parents of Sophia (Ryan's school pal) & Hayley.  The opportunity came up suddenly and caught us very much off guard, but after some quick research and checking it became apparent if we didn't take this chance we'd probably regret it down the line.  It means a lot of tough decisions will come up in the next years, Ryan is already bemoaning the lack of carpet and beach trips but I'm sure he'll come round once he's settled in.

Obviously this is the first house I'm involved with buying here, and there's a fair few differences between US & UK, not least the way the interest rates are calculated & offered, with the recession back in 2008 it's clear that more attention is paid to offers available, and as we weren't in the market we really had to thin down our numbers very rapidly but I think we've got a good option overall.

Yeah, it's stressful buying here too........ good job Jessica already made me lose my hair.

Hannah is showing progress with her words and attitude, though she's not going to make many friends if she continues to grass up her partners in crime "Harper bite" is her current tattle of choice.  Though it's equally conceivable that's not a finger pointing exercise, more a command to her minion.

Ryan has been working really hard on his reading, we've swapped swimming for extra tuition and he's taken to it very well, he's about to begin baseball once again and hopefully this will all give him further opportunity to grow.  He has finished his initial IEP with Lowes Island and that is being updated to move away from speech and concentrate more on his attention/concentration issues.  With both his speech specialists expecting babies late in the summer, it's probably perfect timing to move onto the next stage.

We had a tornado warning in the week here, and that led to a fun escapade by me.  As the rain poured down I heard a rumble from our deck and looked out the window to see our rather heavy umbrella lift up and cartwheel over onto next doors deck... after 30 mins the rain stopped and I could see it sat on the deck, so it was easy enough to grab a step stool, hop over, grab it and put it back on our deck.  Of course I didn't take the step stool with me so how did I get back?  Well, with some difficulty! Got up on the wooden posts easily enough, but the gap was wider than it seems and down below was the fence splitting our gardens, and of course due to the rain they were a little slick.  Anyway I made it, but suffice to say if the umbrella flies again it's over to Jessica or Ryan to get it back!

Yesterday we went out on the annual Easter Egg hunt, and it turned out a bit hotter than we thought it would, so now the only one without a slight case of sunburn is Ryan because he stayed under cover in the bouncy castles most of the afternoon.  Must mean summer will soon be here and that also means mowing the lawn.....D'oh!

Hopefully 1 more update prior to the move, but packing & chucking out inherited crap will be taking priority!

Have fun,

J,J,R & H.

Note: Harper isn't Hannah's minion and Jessica disagrees with any notion that it may have been implied above.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Good, The Bad & The Wubbly

Welcome back to the Booster & Wiggles Blog,

First update of the year and it mostly centers on the behavior of our youngest.  Little Miss Wubbet has been excelling herself making friends at her day care and making recognition easier by biting them to show they're part of the gang... it's all part of a cunning plan to ease up on stranger danger.  Or she's the next Hannah-bal Lecter.

Probably the 2nd option makes more sense as I'm damn sure she'd nosh down some fava beans and a nice chianti given half a chance, she does love her food, and rather like a python digesting a deer, her stomach lets everyone know she's just eaten a meal sized for a horse.

Ryan is busy showing her his iPad in the above picture, which now comes with free (once paid for!) Goat Simulator which oddly enough managed to download without anyone sanctioning the arrival.  Fairly confident the automatic shutdown feature we now have in place should anything like that happen again will prevent a re-occurrence, if it doesn't he'll be playing escape mode from Prison Architect for real.

This time last year was definitely snowmaggedon, but now we face a temp expected to be in the 60's tomorrow so Ryan is crossing his fingers and hoping the next few weeks bring a downturn so he can make more snow angels or watch Daddy shovel 20t of frozen water out of the way.

Hannah has been getting to know her music, having loved the Gorilla's in "Adventure of a Lifetime" I showed her an old advert featuring a Gorilla playing the best bit of "In the Air Tonight", now if she sees 1, she has to see both and likes pointing her finger vaguely to the beat.  In less than a week she turns 18 months and her progress is pretty much up to a normal standard, with a standard check up set up soon we'll soon find out her metrics.

Have to cheer for the Falcons in the SuperBowl as Ryan maintains he's a Patriots fan, oddly enough he regularly says "the other team is cheating" which as a Patriots fan he should be able to recognize easily enough.

Hard to believe January is almost done, unlike last year barely any celebrities have bitten the dust which given the outrage over events here in the past 7 days may be considered something of a surprise!

Till next time,
J, J, R & H.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Final Thoughts of 2016

Right, time to wrap up 2016, a year which saw many changes and stress, multiple newsworthy moments and a closer look at what makes the fabric of society ebb & flow.

Here's our personal wrap up though, fortunately no deaths - but only because we saved Paul.  Though if he doesn't return the hoover upstairs soon maybe 2017 will see an early development in his status.....

Cats somehow lived throughout the year, especially Jet who of course managed to find more places to Jetty bomb, we had some cleaners come in to "winterclean" this week and they managed to freak out the cats, no surprise that one was  Poof, who ran downstairs, however in protest Jet decided to crap first in her bed, and 2nd under the tree.  She seemed surprised not to be getting any treats for 24 hours.  Actually Poof had 2 bad experiences this month as we finally got our carpet replaced after the flooding, and when they came to complete the job off scooted Poof downstairs, to find the door to the room of doom shut, so he hid under the futon, which of course was the 1st thing they grabbed to move, which saw a screaming Poofy run upstairs, to find the door shut on him there too, cue mass hysteria and eventual scampering into the room of doom when the door was finally opened, whereupon he hid for 6 hours.  You know he's scared when he's in there for 6 hours!

Kids enjoyed Christmas, Ryan of course got several Lego items, missing his Grandad this year he was forced to rely on Mom (mostly) and Dad to put bits together, so far so good, only 1 is incomplete due to missing parts - we'll sort them out later somehow.  He also got a couple of games on the XBox which I'm sure he'll enjoy playing.  Hannah got several noisy toys and a ride on car which she prefers walking alongside right now......

Jessica did well, and she even managed to miss the obvious fact she stinks as nearly all her presents were "bath" related.  She also got a trip to Anita's for a breakfast, make special by the lack of children in tow and not made special by the shitty service attitude, as reflected in the level of tip.

As for me I came out ok as well, got my Chocolate Brazils - yum, and a sweater that Jessica has already worn more than me (and spilled food down of course) plus some more XBox related gear so all is good.

Back to 2016 recap and Hannah has enjoyed CBA (not Can't Be Arsed - that's entirely Dad's reaction to being told to do something) but Chesterbrook.  This year she's obviously begun walking, talking and causing havoc, she's learned important things such as "Mine" and "Bye-Bye" and can recite her favorite songs.  Things to improve on in 2017 include biting less, throwing less Wubstrops and stealing Mom's food.

Ryan has had a hard time in 1st grade, the transition to full day school has been difficult with the sometimes excessive expectations of learning pushing him into meltdowns, however he too has made some great progress and his speech is now probably near 95% age appropriate.  Things for him to work on in 2017 are reading & writing, plus learning how to accept sometimes Daddy's a twat - that's just how he is, so don't be upset :)  He did manage to move up swimming classes and hit a moving baseball several times, excellent work!

Jessica plodded on at work.  Somehow.  She also remained a point of contact for several friends in need and took on the role of Class Mom for Ryan and Bingo Chairperson for the schools most popular event.

I plodded on at work too, actually I didn't plod on, I kicked ass.  Took on board comments made in 2015 and put them all into play and at the end of the year got my reward as I was promoted - YAY!  Not saying I knew it was coming but the XBox does make a nice bonus for achievement and as I feel I earned it, it makes it more important to me.

Here's to 2017, I hope yours kicks ass!

J,J,R & H.

PS 13 posts this year - 1 on the 1st day, 1 on the last.  Read them all, there's a chance 1 might be mildly amusing.

Monday, November 28, 2016

As the dust settles

Hi everyone,

Figured it was best to let the dust settle down before posting this witty line of comments on the past few weeks.

I am of course referring to Halloween, or the mega rake up of leaves, or the 2 times our neighbor flooded our basement.... you thought I'd never go two sentences without mentioning politics right?

So what's going down? Hannah enjoyed Halloween, as did Ryan of course, consuming a mountain of candy and oddly enough getting a couple of stick on tattoos, which always makes me wonder why bother with the concept if you're going to refuse to hand out candy?  Turn off your light, go out for the evening and don't let it bother you, handing tattoos instead of candy merely makes you an out of touch muppet (or a dentist - perhaps the two are linked?)  This year Ryan was a Storm Trooper, and he showed off a dark side by refusing to hand over his candy to Darth Vader (name removed to prevent embarrassment, but as I explained to the unlucky party it could have been Chandler Bings Pink Bunny outfit).

That time of year when we (the royal we, others in the family simply sit and watch) rake up leaves, this year I managed 7 bags, and came out the next day to wonder why I bothered.  Its two weeks later and I'm still asking myself that question, staring down at at least another 5 bags worth.  Go ahead worms - snack on!

Flooding - came downstairs 3 weeks ago and stood in a wet patch of carpet, Jet has previous so I immediately looked for her, but when the patch was bigger 2 hours later I knew we had an issue, there followed a confusing series of events where despite having a professional come out, he failed to note it wasn't us, it was next door.  The pressure valve had let go on the water heater and with no drain it had turned their wooden slatted floor into a nice ocean - with a super ripple effect too, and seeped between the floors to ruin our carpet.  We got an assessor booked to come visit and they had repairs done.

Which was a failure because a week later it happened again, this time I came home on Monday and went splat, much bigger leak this time.  So to sum up the fix wasn't done to resolve the issue and now it was definite that our carpet needed replacing, we put up with dryers & humidifiers for 4 days and now we wait for some damaged/removed boards/drywall to be repaired/replaced and then the carpet comes in, all of this is going through insurance, not ours, but the landlords next door.  He did try to suggest our landlord picked up our portion and I said "Look if your car rolls into mine, is it my fault for parking there?  You had a failure, your part flooded our floor, your fault, you pay!"  Work may be complete by Christmas but given the pace of it, that could be 2017.

Hannah has become quite persistent in throwing "Wubba-Strops" she's more active than Ryan ever was in that department, we get the full on stomping, throwing herself down on the floor like she's Ronaldo and usually favoring 1 parent over the other.  She's also become good at saying "No" even if this is the offering of something she just asked for, which is not annoying at all, nope, no it's not.  Ok, it is.....

Our Christmas tree is up giving Jake Thug a new place to hide, Jet a new place to piss and Poofy a new delicacy to taste and then spew up in another room.  They're battling Hannah who see's lots of "balls" to grab... going to be a long month!

Final thought, Lewis Hamilton remains a spoiled, egotistical asshole with the attitude of a child.

Have fun!
J,J, R & H

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Swinging the bat

Ryan continues to improve at baseball, hitting power isn't his strength right now, but the concepts of what he's doing and how to do it are getting better & better.  Last week he was a little down because he was on a strikeout streak - and here's a little detour towards an explanation why.  It's machine pitch, basically a series of levers catapults the ball towards the batter.  However, it's not consistent and Ryan, being short, has a considerably smaller strike zone than many others.  So sometimes the ball is over his head, other times it's a worm shagger and bouncing in front of the plate.  There's no such thing as a "ball" in machine pitch, maximum 8 pitches and you're out of luck if not one is hittable.

So Ryan is telling me he doesn't like baseball because he never hits and never fields and I understand why, but after a few words of encouragement we go to the game in the evening and at the end he walks off 4 for 4 and he's a totally different kid, he's excited, he wants to play again and he knows he's going to get more hits.  Right now his season stats say 6/14, 2 RBI, 2 runs which for him is very good indeed. 

As the days get shorter he's only got 3 or 4 more games to go - and having to skip a game on Tuesday because our door latch broke and Jessica/Hannah couldn't get in, leaving me to return for some B&E, which let me assure you is a lot less fun when it's your own house and you have to spend the evening fitting a new set on the door, was a real shame.

Hannah is now up into the next class, all that means is she's gone over the wall in her classroom, still causing us to frantically look and see what terror she's up to on many occasions this week we almost managed to trade her in as Jessica called me on Thursday when I was on the way to speech saying "Tell me you have Hannah!", Nope, I've got the other one, and we're going to speech.  "But she just got signed out by Chesterbrook, I got her report"  led me to "suggest you call them and ask where she is then, perhaps we'll be able to trade up!"  Jessica wasn't happy at that prospect, I wasn't going to say we have to accept, just that it would be smart to at least look at the alternative option :-)  However by the time I got there, all was resolved and the deal was off the table and we had to bring back the original.

My parents made another trip to USA, only this time they ventured round the West Coast enjoying the sights and sounds of various states & cities, haven't caught up with them yet, they blame WiFi but we'll have a conversation and see how they enjoyed it.  They're in danger of having seen more states than me! 

Finally the prospect of voting in my first Presidential election should be exciting, but the comedy show playing out is actually rather depressing, we all have our opinions on the electoral options of each party, and most of us can be relatively engaged & informed about what the key voting issues are for us individually but this election is a shameful embarrassment for The Republican Party and how they arrived at such an obviously unacceptable candidate, in time I hope this represents a low point. Politics works best when you have multiple parties offering key alternatives working for the improvement of the country & its citizens.  A close election between two qualified candidates arguing about important topics is a good thing, ridiculous pissing contests in House & Senate see everyone lose, it's time to work together and drag the country forwards.

If I wasn't at risk of being under "birther" status I'd put forward my manifesto and show them all how it could be done! 


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Having a very Happy Wubby Birthday!

Ok, after not getting to this last week and preferring to give an update on the vacation, here's a chance to catch up with what occurred over the past month or so.

Big news is our littlest Wubbus is now 1, as in 1 massive terror, oddly enough the only thing she seems scared of is Jet.  Fully mobile she's storming round the house, eating the equivalent of an adult and being very adamant over what she wants and when.  A few more words are beginning to form which is good news for us and not so good news for Ryans speech therapist who may have been hoping for another 5 years of cash from our insurers!

Jessica invested plenty of time & resources into the party drumming up her full entourage of assistance and press-ganging several people into action.  We ended up with way too much food, if the story of feeding the 5000 with bread and fish is remotely true, Jessica made enough to feed 50,000, or 1 Paul, 1 Hannah & a fair few of her work colleagues as thats where the slow cooked pork/chicken & meatballs ended up. 

We even managed a transatlantic video call, not that it was a conversation as too much noise was on this side of the pond, but it was a fine use of technology. 

Hannah has way too much in the way of toys so we asked for donations to a charity close to our hearts and as a way of remembering Nathan, we're pleased to say that a good chunk of change went that way & for that we're extremely grateful.

Ryan is now a 1st grader, and also beginning a fall season of machine pitch baseball, he's got a few teammates from the rain-afflicted spring season and this will be a good step up for him once we get down to the real stuff.  Of course as he's now a 1st grader he has full day school, and after school care is provided by the county program which means sadly that he's now concluded at Chesterbrook after over 3 1/2 years, expected snow days notwithstanding!   Fortunately there's plenty of friends already in the afterschool program and he's got the opportunity to make more.  That program is at his school so we simply need to collect him and then go get Hannah.

Also Hannah survived her 1st haircut, well it was more of a trim to keep it out of her eyes, but no tears or struggling so that's a great start!

Weather seems to be slowly taking a cooler turn, this may lead to a few more excursions out as the nights close in, thoughts for Halloween costumes are already underway, below is one idea!

Catch up later!

J, J, R & H.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Back from the Beach!

I've worked out why Americans return to work and a> either feel glad to be back, or b> need a further vacation to recover from the one they just took! 

After a fairly intense 5 day break down to Myrtle Beach I'm sat here providing cheap daycare so thought I'd try to do something progressive with my day other than spending time & $$$ for "back to school" stuff, as of Monday we'll have a 1st grader!

Ok, to the important thing, the vacation went well, Ryan enjoyed himself, Hannah tolerated the 1000 miles of car journey, we avoided jelly fish, thunderstorms and sunburn as well.  Our trip began for me at 3am as obviously the car needed gas, and loading up with enough stuff to make people think we're leaving for a month.  At 4 we grabbed 2 sleepy kids and set off, as planned at that time we made good progress and soon made our 1st stop with about 200 miles behind us and in time for a interstate breakfast. Our 2nd break enabled Hannah to stretch her legs and get a fresh diaper and then it was on to a BBQ place we'd seen on The Profit, we got there just after 11:30 with 400 miles down and in need of some pork & chicken.  After that only a 60 mile trek was needed, with a fill up of cheap gas (great mileage from the tank, amazing what a light foot can drag out of it!)

A poor input into the map left us popping out on North Ocean Boulevard, not South (oops!) so we rolled down a busy seafront and eventually found the hotel and the badly marked registration office, by the time that was done we had to dodge a 5 minute rain storm and could get into our little room.

Due to having 2 cars there Paul had to use street parking for his car, not a problem as it turned out he got cheap all day slots and a space directly outside the hotel, we had a pass which enabled us to try to get in the small amount of spaces in the hotel area or the overflow across the street.

The major drama that night came when Paul went out to get pizza & a few necessities, using our car so he didn't lose his street spot, he took longer than we'd expected, eventually he came in and mutters something about "police being called".  Turns out he'd got into an altercation with some muppet in the parking zone at the registration space and after some parking incidents & abuse staff & police had to intervene, he'd actually stayed which put him in the good place because the others had just disappeared, no idea what happened to them.  Turns out things had settled down just enough for Paul to avoid major embarrassment and having to find alternative accommodation and the pizza turned out fine so all was well.

Ryan & Hannah enjoyed the beach, Ryan wasn't too sure of the waves though and Hannah didn't like the sand, with a few days of off-shore wind making the waves higher than would have been fun, we made full use of the on-site pools with Ryan finding a nice inflatable car to cruise around in, and Hannah loving the life of her pool cruiser, till she decided that swimming was easy and wanted to get out!

We managed to take a stroll down the famous boardwalk, and went out onto the Pier - Jessica managed to get all the PokeStops available and even a few new Water-based Pokeys ;)

As we had a kitchen area in the room we were able to cook & eat several meals in the room, which helped both Ryan & Hannah out, but the last two days we went out, once to a Mongolian BBQ which was fine except for a very odd "sauce" mentality - we're used to the idea of a wide selection of sauces, this had 3, sweet, spicy & salty which seemed to be created using a concoction of about 8 dips located in front of the grill.  It was ok, but needed that variety of flavor offered by say Mighty Khan or the much missed BD's.  The final day we ended up at a seafood buffet where Paul ate his body weight in Crab Legs, and then went back for a 2nd & 3rd portion, plus dessert.  Ryan enjoyed watching boats & jetskis pass up the Intra-Coastal Waterway.

Then it came time for us to go home, again we planned an early exit and were on the road by 5, with a couple more stops this time, Jessica decided to play food roulette and insisted on McDonalds as breakfast & then an early lunch to meet up with Grandpa at another McD's ..... Somehow we've lived to tell the tale, it's a vacation miracle!

Home by 2:30 with 1020 miles on the car, and about $100 of gas all told.  It took the cats some time to forgive us - well Poofy & Jake anyway, Jet couldn't be trusted so she went into a holding pen and was collected on Thursday which she celebrated by crapping on the floor within 5 minutes of return!

Jessica is already plotting an encore.

Till next time,
J,J,R & H.