Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Frigging Car

Picked the car up yesterday morning and drove it home. I went a longer route than I should have as I missed the turning, twice, and we went to the grocery store and then to get gas before getting home. Ben sent me a text asking if there was any green under the car as the garage called to say that they noticed a green spot on the ground after I had driven away and said if we brought it back they would check it for leaks. Shouldn't they have noticed that before I collected the car?? I went out in the snow, yes it is snowing again, and looked under the car. I couldn't see anything and called Ben to tell him so. All seemed fine.

Ben was late getting back from the office as he had to wait for Dan to finish doing something. That is one of the problems with car pooling. You are on the other persons time schedule. (They are considering cutting back on the car pooling and only doing it around 2 times a week so that if one has to stick around in the office, the other is not kept waiting. But that means I will have less opportunity to get out and about with the kids and will be stuck in the apartment more and the only way round that is if I had my own car and that isn't going to be happening.)

This morning Ben drove to work as Dan has a church thing after work so he has gone in his own car. I had to mail back a dvd to Netflix so I walked up the street with K to the mailbox. I came out to the car park and saw the now empty spot when I had parked the car and there was a green spot on the ground. Bugger. That means there is a leak of some description. Unfortunately we just have to deal with it and find the cash to pay for another repair. So all you people that drive decent cars and go on summer holidays. Enjoy it. Me, Ben and the kids certainly won't be going anywhere this summer. Not the way this car is hemorrhaging money!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Meal Out with Kids

Fellow expats, and all round fabulous people, David and Sian invited us out with them and their daughter on Friday night to have a meal at a nearby restaurant. As we were having car problems we would only be able to go if they picked us up and Ben would meet us there as he would not get out of work until we were already in the restaurant.

In the afternoon Z came home from school and for the following few hours kept asking over and over again when he would be having his dinner. (I hadn't told him or K about going out to eat) K also began to act up as she was getting tired so I sent Sian a message suggesting we postpone and told the kids I would make them pasta. I have literally just started the pasta when Sian turned up at the door. I didn't say anything about the message I had sent and the kids suddenly were all excited at the thought of going out and did not seem tired at all. So I got them ready and off we went. (Sian saw the message later that night and said I should have said something when she turned up. But if I am honest I was pleased to have some adult company and get out the apartment!)

We went to a restaurant in Clay Terrace called Red Robin. I had a very nice chicken burger and the kids had chicken strips, Z had melon with his and K had carrots. They both had milkshakes to drink. Usually in restaurants you can get things like bottomless cups of coffee or endless refills of soft drinks. At Red Robin they do endless fries. They just keep bringing fries to the table!

Z got a bit over excited and kept running around the place but they both ate all their food and Z even managed some ice cream for dessert. Ben arrived just as we were finishing our food but he decided to just have a beer and eat the fries and a bit of my burger that I had left. It was a really good night and I have no idea how much it cost as David paid the bill. Thanks for that David but I did have my wallet with me so I could have paid something, at least covered the cost of the food me, Z & K ate!

When we got back to the apartment the kids went to bed with minimal fuss. Maybe we should take them out more often.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

2nd Opinion

Always get a 2nd opinion. Always.

As I mentioned before the car is needing some repairs and Ben took it to a garage on Wednesday. They called him and said it would be between $900 and $1200 to fix!!

He took it to a second place yesterday and they said it would cost quite a bit to fix. $450!

It is booked in for Monday to get the work done and Ben will collect it Tuesday morning. It is staying at the garage until the work is done as it isn't really advisable to drive it until it is repaired. So no car this weekend. We just need to find the $450. Who needs food anyway?!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Car Problems

So, Ben took the car into a garage this morning to get them to look at it. They called and it needs new radiator, thermostat, need to look at power steering as it is f****d....... Approximate cost for repairs? Between $900-$1200! Guy at garage said we could get the work done or cut or loses and get a new car. haha! If you can't afford the repairs where would you get the money for a new car?!

Ben is going to ask them to put it back together again and bring it back home. I think Dan is going to be giving him rides to work until we work out what to do. The car is safe to drive short distances, like round the corner to the store (just as well really as we need milk and cereal) but not to Ben's work in Indianapolis. Buggeration.

How much could I get for a kidney?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lincoln Park Zoo Chicago

The kids get a treat each weekend if they have done all their chores during the week and completed their reward chart. (One of the best purchases made since arriving in US)

This weekend we decided to go out of state to Illinois and visit the zoo in Chicago. The zoo itself is free but parking is not. (We ended up paying $17 for parking but due to the bitter cold temperature and time of our arrival we didn't mind) We hired a car as we didn't want to risk breaking down in our car after it overheating and all the smoke coming from it the other week. (It has since overheated again and I am getting mighty peeved with the frigging car but it is the only one we have and can't afford another one so we are stuck) The hire car was a 2010 Chevy Impala and was a lovely drive. The engine was so quite a few times when we were parked I did wonder if it was actually on!

The kids loved looking at all the animals and taking pictures. They both show a great fascination with the camera and taking photos. K is a bit more artsy and abstract whereas Z takes pictures of actual things and people. I may get them a kid proof camera for their birthdays so they don't break mine. Plus mine is a bit big for their little hands!

Anyway, at the zoo we wandered around and took in all the exhibits that were open. Due to the cold some of the animals were not outside. One of the zebras has apparently been having seizures so they were all being monitored.

I am not sure how I feel about animals in zoos. One one hand I like being able to see them and the kids do learn things. But on the other hand the animals are not in their natural habitat. Some of the animals were probably bred in captivity so wouldn't be able to survive in the wild though. It was a bit sad to see the big tiger pacing up and down. Z and K enjoyed looking at the animals and going into the store to get a toy at the end. K did have a bit of a hissy fit when we wouldn't let her go to the store earlier in the visit but she eventually got over it.

We set off for home at about 5pm but Ben thought it would be good to have a look round Chicago before leaving. The satnav we used on the Droid phone died just before we arrived in Chicago so we were using the google map feature on our new Droid Eris phones and it takes a bit of getting used to. Drivers in Chicago, particularly taxi drivers, are mental! They honk their horns at anything. We were going round a corner past 3 horse and carriages and a taxi driver honked at us! One taxi overtook us and a bus but then got stuck in between 2 buses. There was also a load of police cars and fire engines at one point but we couldn't see any accidents anywhere. No idea what was going on there.

We eventually made it out of the city and headed back towards Indiana. There was fog on the way back. A LOT of fog. It was so thick I haven't seen anything like it. You could see the end of the car but that was pretty much it. Most of the road on the way back didn't have street lights which was good. However, when we hit a bit of road with lighting it was blinding due to the effect the light had on the fog. We arrived home at about 11.30pm and everyone went to bed. I checked the Colts game score and was pleased to see they had won quite convincingly. Next up is NY Jets on Sunday January 24th. I have my Colts sweatshirt now so I am all set for the game.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Cell Phone

I shall be getting a new cell phone very soon. I currently have a pay as you go phone with AT&T but this new one with Verizon is going be so much better!!

Sandwich Anyone?

K wanted to make a sandwich today for her lunch. I had left a ziplock bag on the side table and she wanted to used what was in the bag as part of her sandwich. So today for her lunch she had a Graham Cracker and cucumber sandwich. Yummy. I politely declined when she offered me a bit.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Took K for a 'Play & Learn' session at the local Gymboree this morning. Gave her a chance to meet other kids and get to play and run around. The session I took her too is late Monday mornings so she can go mad for a bit then come home to have lunch. Well, that's the plan. She decided that she wasn't happy with me when I said we were not having lunch there. Besides the lunch 'issue' she really enjoyed herself and loved running around the place. There was about 6 kids there and all but one of them were younger than her. One girl who I think may have been 5 took a shine to K and held her hand when we did 'ring a roses'. One of the staff thought K was putting on her accent a bit at one point and said 'K you sounded English then' to whick K just looked at her and gave her a puzzled look, as if to say 'You silly woman I am English!' At the end I said that we were British and that is how K usually sounds, although she is picking up more and more 'Americanisms' every day.

They do different classes there like music, art, sport and have a pre school class to get the kids ready for going to Kindergarten. I think that the class we did to day may be a bit young for K and I will look into her maybe doing a sport class. There is one I can drop her off at and collect a couple hours later. I was given a leaflet explaining it all so will look at it tonight and decide what is best. K really needs to get involved in something. I think I will also look at the classes they do at the Monon Centre and see if there is something there she might like. Only issue is having the car. As Ben carpools to work with Dan I need to make sure that I can have the car on set days. Ideally I would have my own car but that would require me suddenly having about $5,000 to buy one. I guess I'll keep buying lottery tickets on Saturdays.

Once we left Gymboree we quickly made a stop at Target so I could get a slow cooker. I have a few recipes in mind and really missed having the one my mum gave me for Christmas a few years ago.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Today Ben had decided that he was going to enjoy the snow with the kids and go seldging. (No car crashes this time) I opted to go to The Fashion Mall at Keystone and have a mooch round the shops. I got dropped off and wandered round the shops. Bought a few bits and pieces from Gap, the Apple Store and Williams Sonoma. I fnished off by getting a few hot chocolates from Starbucks and then got picked up by Ben and the kids.

We were driving along the street and were stopped at some lights when I noticed that there appeared to be smoke coming from the front of the car. Luckily we were near a gas station so were able to pull in there and get off the road. Ben opened the bonnet/hood and we looked to see what was going on. Luckily there was no flames but there was a lot of smoke. At the same time we were looking at the engine a car pulls up and the driver asks us if we need any help. (Everytime we have had a problem or needed help someone has been there to help us. A lot of the time this has been to give car related assistance!) The guy introduces himself as Terrence and his girlfriend/wife/partner/friend (I'm not sure what there relationship was) waits in his car. Terrence along with Ben examine the engine and all the stuff going on. It turns out there is no coolant in the engine. The bottle for that is empty! Between then the 2 men top up all the bottles in the engine and check the oil. Terrence recommends a coolant and says not to get 50/50 as it would freeze as there is water in it. Ben buys a bottle of coolant (and spare for the back) and a bottle of oil and everything gets sorted. The smoke goes away and everything seems to be working. Terrence tells us what to do if the smoke continues and where to go. He also suggests what the problem could be if the smoke continues and how much it would be to fix if it is the problem that he thinks it is. Once everything seems to be fine Terrence bids us goodbye and god bless. What a lovely man. Very helpful and he even offered to buy the oil and coolant for Ben when they went into the store at the gas station.

Safe to say I am getting a bit peeved with this car and if I had it in my ability I would buy another car. I even bought a lottery ticket for the Hoosier lottery tonight. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Day

It started snowing this morning. It hasn't stopped yet. It is powdery snow which makes it difficult to make a snowball or snowman. It all goes everywhere if there is any wind!

I brushed all the snow off the car this morning for Ben. I made the mistake of starting at the front of the car and when I went round and got back to the front windshield again, it was covered in snow again!

Ben got to work about half an hour later than usual but he got there safely. I have given him my Starbucks card so he and Dan can get a hot drink on the way back to the car if they want to, that is if they go past a Starbucks!

It has been around -12C all day and it is not likely to get any warmer tomorrow. The snow is supposed to continue until late Friday but then stop.

We were planning on maybe going on a trip out of State on Saturday but it will be dependant on the weather. I was thinking maybe we could go to our nearest IKEA which is in Ohio or we could go to Jungle Jims International Market which is also in Ohio.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

K Getting Ready for New Years Eve

K is becoming a bit of a Princess and very girlie. She is liking sparkly things and has now discovered make up. My make up to be precise! She wanted to get herself made up for the New Years party we were going to. (I did clean her up a bit before we actually went out. I am not a mean mummy!)

She did choose to wear an elf outfit with rather fetching red and white stripy knee high socks! She delcared she wanted a top like Hannah Montana and has mentioned before that she wanted to have clippety shoes (shoes with a mini high heel).

She is 5 in April but why am I getting visions of her as a teenager?? Will she be a cheerleader? Will she only go out with make up on? Will she teach me how to put make up on as I am not good at it!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Driving Test

This morning I took my driving test so I can get an Indiana State driving licence. It should reduce the insurance premiums.

My test was 09.30am so I left at 09.00 to get there in time and sign in. Also to calm my nerves as I hate doing practical type tests! I had to de-ice the car first and that took about 10 minutes! I had left a bottle of water in the car overnight and it was frozen solid! The temperature guage said it was 8 degrees F! That is about -13 in celsius!

I get to the test centre in time, park up and go in. I forget to take in the car registration so have to go back out to get it. The guy who did my test is the same guy who Ben did his with. The whole test was about 10 minutes. Around the block with the odd left and right turn, drive through a school zone and then a parallel park before back to the BMV office. By the way, when I did the parallel park there was only one other car in the street so if I had failed that then I would never drive again!

Most of the test was spent talking with the examiner about our dream cars and driving tests in other parts of the world.

I passed! Woo-Hoo! I now had to deal with the staff in the BMV office. I handed over all my documents. They had checked these before and told me there were all I would need. However, I am apparently missing a second document with my address on so I have to leave and go to the bank to get a statement with my address on it. 5 minutes later I am back in the BMV and hand over all the stuff again. The woman quickly goes through everything and hands back the letter I have from the SSA saying "We don't accept these anymore". (The one that says I am not eligible for a SSN) She then asks for my SSN!!

30 minutes later I get my picture taken and she hands me a slip of paper which has all the information that will be on my licence and shows me the photo. (Not a nice photo either!) My licence will be mailed to me in the next 10 days or so. The DHS have to verify my visa and status in the US.

To celebrate my passing my test I go shopping at the Circle Centre Mall in Indianapolis and get some stuff from Gap, Banana Republic, Victoria's Secret, H&M and Borders.

Behas one out to see Avatar with a guy from work so I have ordered a pizza and am going to watch a chick flick before I go to bed to read one of my new books. Should I choose Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, I Alex Cross by James Patterson or The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Eve

Last time I was in America for New Years it was 1994 and I was in Michigan. We went to Crystal Mountain and I tried skiing. (I am not good at skiing!)

This time I was in Indiana with my husband and children. We were invited to a party and the home of Sarah and Keith who are fellow British Expats. They have a gorgeous house. Very nice. I think our entire apartment would fit in their basement! There were other Expats there and some American friends of Sarah and Keith. We drank, played pub quizzes, chatted, laughed and there was dancing later (but we had left by then as kids were exhausted.)

The party was lots of fun and I drank a few glasses of red wine. I have been the designated driver the last few times we have been out so I made sure I had a few alcoholic drinks!

2010 has gotten off to a great start and I hope it continues. I have my driving test tomorrow so hopefully that will go well!

I have put this second picture on as I like how my hair looks really shiny!

14 year olds & Green Cards

Did you know that you need to get a new green card when you turn 14? Do you know the reason why? No really, I'd like to know why. ...