Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sheep go "ba ba"

Every other Wednesday, a bunch of the ISE wives here get together for what is technically a book club, but has lately been more of a play group for the kids, and a chat session for the women.

Oh, I should maybe explain "ISE" for those back home. I actually don't even know what it stands for, but it's what they call all of us Americans who are over here with Caterpillar on temporary overseas assignments. There's a pretty strong network within the group, and it is VERY nice to have some other Americans going through USA withdrawal along with me.

Anyway, last Wednesday, since all the older kids were off school on break, we took a field trip (pretty literally) to see the baby sheep behind Holli's house. It was a very pretty walk, but a bit longer than I'd expected. Not that it was actually all that long of a walk. It's just that I was attempting to accomplish it with an independent, strong-willed daughter who does NOT want to be carried anymore. She will walk by herself, thank you very much. (She doesn't even want to have to hold my hand anymore...) Which would mostly be just fine, except for two things:

One, she has a very unique sense of direction. If everyone else is going straight, she will go right. Then left. Then do a 180 degree turn quite abruptly. Then go right again. Another 180 degree turn. All within the first minute of being on her own two feet. Personally, I think she gets a kick out of making me dizzy as I try to keep up with her...

Two, even if she were walking in exactly the same path as everyone else the whole time, she has much shorter legs than everyone else, and hence moves significantly slower.

Anyway, we did eventually get to the sheep, and the baby lambs (there were a LOT of them) were very cute. Madeline did an excellent job of telling everybody what sheep say. She's definitely got "ba ba" down pat now! I guess first-hand experience really is the best teacher!

The little white specs behind us are the sheep--there were some much closer, although we didn't get super close, or Madeline would probably have chased them. Note the "Wellies" (a.k.a. rain boots): doesn't she look British?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sometimes having a secure house is not a good thing...

Well, I'm extremely behind in posting, but this is one story I really need to document.
On Wednesday, March 26th, I was doing my usual weekly cleaning. I was nearly done, and just needed to empty the vacuum cleaner one last time (side note: I usually have to empty the dust container on my vacuum cleaner here about 3 times just to get my whole house vacuumed. This really annoys me). I've found it's best to do this outside. I've also found I need to latch the door behind me when I go, or Madeline gets the door open to come join me. I should probably explain--our door here, if you just shut it, isn't latched. You have to turn the handle to latch it. And you have to use a key to lock it--either from the inside or from the outside. Anyway, I finished emptying, took the dirt to the garbage can, and tried to get back in the house. Key word being "tried."
My darling 18 month old daughter had evidently indeed attempted to come join me. She'd turned the key (which I'd left in the lock inside) just far enough to lock me out, and her in. I had no coat (it was about 45 degrees), no cell phone, and most importantly, no keys. Oh yeah, and it was almost nap time. Madeline tends to get increasingly cranky when it's her nap time, even if she hasn't been locked alone in the house.
So there I was, in stunned disbelief. I must have tried the door 5 or 6 times before I really believed I was truly locked out. Then I tried pushing my shoulder against the door a few times. Yeah, right!! This was followed by quite a bit of attempting to get Madeline to get the key out of the door and pass it to me through the mail slot (you know, the mail slot, a very British thing, was actually quite useful in this whole ordeal). "Come on, baby, get the key. Get the key for Mommy. You can do it, honey; get the key! Come on, Madeline, get the key." Despite the fruitlessness of this, I kept going back to it.
Anyway, eventually a woman and her son walked by. I ran up and explained what had happened. She called her husband, who was home painting, to bring his tools and come take a look. Once he got there, all he could really see to do was to break off the mail slot to see if that gave us enough room to get to the key. I'd already tried shoving my hand in as far as I could, which wasn't far enough. We'd tried all other doors, and windows, all of which were shut and locked quite securely. I was still talking to Madeline through the mail slot, trying to get her to get the key. She did actually go and get me one of her books, and passed that to me through the mail slot. Maybe she thought I needed some light reading to pass the time?
The woman asked if my husband could come home from work to let me in. I didn't have Bill's number memorized--it was in the computer and in my cell phone, both of which were inside my Fort Knox of a home. So she called the main desk at Perkins. I explained the whole situation to them. They transferred me to Human Resources. I explained the whole situation to them. They looked up Bill's schedule and found he was in an all-day meeting. They contacted his boss, and explained the whole situation to him. He went and pulled Bill out of his meeting, and, finally, relayed the whole situation to the one who needed to know! I wonder if I've become an office anecdote yet?
By the time Bill got home and let me in (thankfully, he had a key to one of the back doors, as well--with the key still in the lock, we couldn't get in the front at all), I'd been stuck outside for almost an hour.
Thankfully, other than being tired and confused, Madeline was fine. She hadn't gotten into any of the serious trouble an 18 month old left alone in the house could have gotten into. And, other than the damage I'd done to my hands trying to shove them into the mail slot and being a bit chilled, I was fine too! Bill, bless his heart, didn't give me the really hard time he very easily could have. And needless to say, we're no longer leaving the key in the lock (even if it is better for fire safety that way) and I am now ALWAYS taking keys with me when I leave the house--even if it's only to empty the vacuum cleaner!