Sunday, February 15, 2015

I'm BAAA-AAAAACK!

Hopefully!

My goal this month is to set aside a weekly time to blog, and the plan was for that to be on Friday evenings when M is doing his Young Men duties. I thought that would be a good time, once I got the boys down to bed. Didn't work out this week since J didn't fall asleep until after 10 p.m. on Friday. So this is not THE time, but it is A time, which is better than nothing.

So many things have happened. I don't even think I finished blogging about our trip last spring!

A quick recap, for posterity's sake:

April: Recovered from our trip. M interviewed for a job in England and received an offer! (photos here)

May: Went to a fun homeschool conference in Virginia Beach with my fun sister-in-law. (photos here)

June: Tore my ACL jumping on the trampoline with M and L. Spent the rest of the month on crutches. Welcomed a sweet new baby nephew to the family! (photos here)

July: Celebrated L's sixth birthday. Graduated from crutches and slowly learned to walk normally again. Spent lots of time at the physical therapist's office. Took a road trip to Tennessee to visit my Grandma and Grandpa, and another one to upstate New York for the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Also hit Niagara Falls on the Canada side, which was country #4 for the kids. My brother, his awesome wife, and their two adorable kids moved into our house to wait for their house to be ready. After a little adjustment on the kids' part, we all had a grand time! Whew! That was a busy month! (photos coming soon)

August: Flew to Las Vegas (because we're frugal), then drove to Utah to visit M's parents and Grandma, and to be there for my brother's wedding. J fell in love with his new aunt, and still (six months later) refers to every woman in a wedding dress by her name :) Came home and decided we had to get down to business, and get ready for an overseas move. Celebrated J's second birthday. (photos coming soon)

September: My brother and his wife were finally able to close on their house (YAY!), which meant they had to move out (BOO!). We missed them so much! Made some progress on the mile-long list of house projects until the second week of September, when I suddenly lost all motivation and wanted to do nothing but sleep about 14 hours a day. After several days of that, I discovered I was pregnant! A happy surprise, even if the timing meant I couldn't finish my list! Basically slept the rest of the month. Started with our new homeschool co-op, which was awesome. L took classes called Knights and Castles and The Art of Science. I taught one called My Amazing Body for 5-7 year olds. Also, took an awesome three-day trip to Colonial Williamsburg. (photos coming soon)

October: I can't even remember! What happened in October? Probably good stuff. (photos coming soon)

November: Crunch time! The kids spent a few days visiting my parents so we could get stuff done around the house. Luckily by this time I was just about out of the first trimester haze. I'm so lucky I don't get sick. The tiredness is really not that bad, just makes it hard to get things done, and things really had to get done! We swapped some furniture in and out, decluttered a lot, tried to get and keep things organized, finished painting various spots around the house, put our house on the rental market, and then the movers came to pack everything up the week before Thanksgiving. Then we spent the weekend with M's family at a rental house in Massanutten Resort, which was a blast. The kids had so much fun together, and so did the grown-ups! From there, we went north to visit my family. All my siblings came too, and we all spent the week together, playing games, eating delicious food, laughing, and watching movies. It was so good to see everyone before we left. (photos coming soon)

December: The first week of December, we stayed in a hotel near our house, tying up all the loose ends, and saying goodbyes to a few friends, and then we were off to England! The kids were great travelers, and slept as much as you can on an overnight flight. We landed at Heathrow, and then a driver picked us up and took us to our temporary flat about two hours' drive to the west. We were met there by our wonderful sponsors, who had set everything up and gone grocery shopping for us and everything. They had also answered all our questions and given us so much good advice in preparation for our move. It was great to finally meet them and feel like old friends. (photos coming soon)

I think I'll stop now, and hopefully next time, I'll pick up from there.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

January 2015

In January:
  • we bought a car - and couldn't believe it took three weeks from the time we chose the car until we could finally take possession of it! 
  • we braved driving on the other side of the road, which was quite harrowing at first
  • we nursed (and nursed and nursed) kids and mommies with colds, coughs, ear infections, etc. 
  • we played at home and took walks in town. When we walked, we often passed the office for our temporary housing management place, and J loved to look at the photos of our house - "Dat's MY kitchen!" :)
     
  • January was the month that L really became a reader! I often found him in his favorite spot - sitting in front of the warm radiator with a book.


  • we looked at lots of houses and debated the pros and cons of the various options
  • we chose a house and prepared to move
  • The cutest thing that happened was a trip to Wick Grange Farm, which is about 45 minutes north of us in Worcestershire (they really do pronounce it woo-ste-sure). Isobel, the owner of the farm, plans lovely days throughout the year for home educated children, and I'm so glad we found her! On this particular day, we got to feed baby lambs.
First they mixed up the lambs' milk. These particular baby lambs were orphans, so Isobel fed them by bottle three times a day. 


L climbed right in there, and the lambs crowded around. They couldn't wait for their own bottles!



J hung back a bit, a little wary of the lambs. Not wary at all, however, of this John Deere tractor.


After a while, we took the lambs up the hill to play and chase each other, and J warmed up to them here.



After we brought the lambs back to their place in the barn, Isobel saw J staring longingly at the tractor and offered to let him sit inside. It made his whole day!

  • we took a beautiful drive to the nearest Air Force Base where we shopped at the commissary and went bowling. Somehow J won, beating the runner up by 9 points and the loser by 21! :)

  • we spent a Saturday visiting Tewkesbury Abbey and a cute little railroad
  • we took a weekend trip to London to see a few of the sights

     We splurged on room service, since our room was covered by points.
     We took a river cruise to get to the Tower of London.



     Changing of the guard.



    No pictures of the jewels are allowed, but we did get to photograph this crazy dragon made out of armor!



  • we celebrated M's 34th birthday!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Moving to England and more December Photos

Well, December arrived, and with it came our departure! Saying goodbyes was the worst, but once all that was done, we were ready. Well, most of us were ready. On the way to the airport, L asked over and over, "Do we really have to go to England?" Sweet guy! 

Here's a phone pic from the airport: 


We managed to wrangle all our stuff into the airport and get it all checked. We found out that our tickets would have allowed us to each check four bags + car seats and strollers. Can you imagine?! I'm glad we didn't have 16 suitcases! We hoped for the best from our kids on the flight, and they were awesome! The flight left at 10 p.m., so they were really tired by the time we took off. The flight was completely full, except there was one extra seat in each of our rows. How did we get so lucky? We let the kids lay across the seats, and M and I sat up and tried to sleep. It wasn't horrible. As I told M when we got to London, I've had worse nights' sleep as a mother! :) We breezed right through customs, but waited a while for lots of stamping at the immigration desk. Then a driver picked us up, we loaded our stuff in a van and off we rode the two and half hours or so to our new town. We were met there by our sponsor family, and they showed us our temporary apartment, took us to lunch, and walked around town with us to help us find our way around and also to keep us awake through the day! 

I have shamefully few pictures of the city. It's HARD to take my big, nice camera out with J right now. He's a runner, and I always have to be on guard. If I stop for two seconds to take a picture, he could be off, running down the street, with not a care in the world. One of these days I'll go out for a solo photo walk! haha

Most of our December (and January, and February, and March) was spent like this: 


Poor kiddos! Lots of ear infections, colds, coughs, etc. Apparently it's very common to pick up all the new-to-you bugs when you move to a new country, but I was not expecting this, and it really threw me for a loop! Now, when I'm writing this, we've been here a little over three months, and we've probably had a total of 14 days when no one was sick. It's getting old!

One very exciting thing to happen in December, was that L lost his first tooth! The dentist had mentioned it was loose in November, but it was just a teeny bit loose - hardly any wiggle to it at all. But one day, he told me, "Mom my tooth is kind of loose" and by the afternoon it was out! Credit goes to an apple and a pretzel. The apple loosened it considerably, and the pretzel finished the job.


L was so excited about the Tooth Fairy. He knows she's not real, but it doesn't really matter, because she brings MONEY! The TF couldn't actually find his tooth under the pillow, so she left him a silly note about having to climb up on his face and pry his lips open to make sure there was a missing tooth. He thought that was hilarious.


When we lived in the temporary apartment, we did a fair amount of walking and exploring. The weather was pretty mild and we lived close to the center of town, so it was nice to get out and see things, or go to the library, or just go to a cafe. I love it when J says, "Want get lunch at cafe!" On one of our rare healthy days, we walked around town and got pizza at this little restaurant (below). It was a carryout place, but they had this one little table where we ate.  


Here's a statue of Neptune in the middle of town. I think it will be a fountain in the summer.


This is the view from the back of our apartment. In December, the sun was rising at 8:00 a.m., and setting just before 4:00 p.m. It was dark! I didn't mind too much though. It felt cozy, and the boys were consistently sleeping from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. which was awesome!

Speaking of bedtime - bedtime shenanigans with Daddy!


Here's a little view of the apartment - it was amazing. It was the old ballroom of a Georgian era townhome. So the original owners would have lived in the whole building from top to bottom, but it had since been divided into flats. We had the 2nd floor (1st floor if you're European), which used to be the ballroom. It had 12' ceilings, and the windows stretched from floor to ceiling. One of them was 8' wide, and the other was "only" 5' wide. It always felt so bright and airy, even on an overcast day. Light was one of my requests for the temporary flat, and they really delivered!


Car shopping - a frustrating experience I would rather forget, but the boys sure had fun! They especially liked this BMW convertible. Too bad it couldn't fit three car seats! :)


The ward Christmas party was lots of fun. L really liked the Christmas Crackers that are traditional here, and the Santa/Father Christmas part of the evening was nice too. No pressure to sit on a stranger's lap and tell him what you want. He just calls you up and gives you a little gift (that your parents - or in our case somebody else, because your parents completely forgot - provide).


We had an exciting Christmas Eve. I had my appointment for the 20 week ultrasound scan that day, so we got to find out that we have another little boy on the way! When she said it was a boy, I couldn't believe it! Another boy?! Three in a row?! How is this possible?! I've gotten used to the idea now! :)

Christmas pajamas on Christmas eve:




22 weeks (or so) I'm terrible at keeping track!


New Years' Eve was super fun this year - just the grown-ups and L! We played games, ate treats, and eventually turned on the Wii for bowling and ping pong. L really felt like he had arrived. He loved it.