Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Empty nest...

I took dad to the train station this morning, and by now he should be winging his way over the Atlantic ocean.  Back to my mom, who he has been missing terribly, and back to my brother and sisters over there.  Oh, and his tomato plants.  He's been pretty concerned about those!

I have to be honest, I was a bit worried about having him here.  Dad and I haven't had much to say to each other since my rather difficult teen-age years.  But we never ran out of things to say, and I enjoyed every minute of his visit.  Matter of fact, I would have been happy to have him stay a bit longer.

The kids have also enjoyed getting to know their grandpa face-to-face.  They were very affectionate with him, which made him very happy.  And he told me they are sweet kids and I am doing a good job with them, which is all I ever want to hear from my family members.

Now Dylan is back at school and Edith is napping.  Martin is at work.  My front room is tidy for the first time in about 2 weeks.  I've caught up on all my recorded telly for the last week.  Just another hour or so worth of back-ironing to complete.  Life is back to normal and under control.  It's nice, but kind of sad at the same time.  An upheaval is wonderful when it comes in the form of a mini-vacation and a visit from family.

We will miss you, dad.  Bon voyage!

Holiday: Part 3 (or boredom, anxiety, panic and relief)...

We got an early start on Thursday because we had to clean the holiday cottage before we left.  Christine and I cleaned up while Martin loaded the car.  Then it was a greasy full English fry-up at the truck stop and the open road.

We took the scenic way home, which was absolutely beautiful.  Unfortunately, it was a bit TOO scenic.  I had my Britishness test scheduled in Sheffield at 1:30pm, and was supposed to meet Noelle (she was taking it as well) at Meadowhall at 12:30pm.  I did a bit of studying on the way there, but started to get more anxious as it got later and later.  At 12:25pm I sent her a text to let her know that I was running late.  I asked her for the postcode of the testing centre as we had Laurie and Christine's sat-nav for the trip, I programmed it in, and we weren't going to arrive there until 1:47pm. 

This is when panic ensued.

Martin drove like the wind.  Seriously, he was SPEEDY!  Then the battery in the sat-nav (btw, that's GPS for all you Yanks out there) started to die and we were in the middle of Sheffield with no idea where we were going.  Every time we had to stop at a red light, I had a mini panic attack!  Noelle was texting me updates, including what the building looked like, where to go once inside the building, how many people were ahead of her in line to pay and register, etc.  Those texts were a God-send!

I finally bolted up the stairs to the testing centre at 1:37pm, just as Noelle (the last in line) stood up to take her seat.  I got registered, and even had the chance to use the toilets (been holding it for the last 45 minutes, no time to stop!) before the test began.

All that stress, and it only took me 6 minutes to complete the 25 questions on the test.  I was the second one done--Noelle beat me by about a minute.  We waited for our results, and both of us had passed.  Good news--I didn't waste all that time and the £35!

I had been so worried that we weren't going to make it to the testing centre that I didn't even feel nervous about the test itself.

Some of the questions that I remember from the test were:

What percentage of the UK's population live in England?

What are the two main purposes of the United Nations?

What percentage of children in the UK attend a private school?

By what percentage has the population in the UK grown since 1971?

Does the UK have an international football team?

Just to name a few, of course.  They didn't tell you how many questions you had missed afterwards--you either passed or failed.  I think I might have missed as many as 4, but think I only missed probably 2.  It was easy-peasy lemon squeezy!

Met up with the family at a pub where they were just getting finished with lunch, drove back to Lincolnshire, dropped Christine off at her house, came home, fixed dinner, got the kids in bed, then collapsed.

Holidays are hard work!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holiday, part 2 (or, This was such a perfect day)...

The kids let us sleep until nearly 7am, which always feels like a special treat.  We went downstairs, made Christine a cup of coffee and brought it to her in bed so she could function for the day.  Ate a quick breakfast of cold cereal, got ready, and left the cottage at 8:45am.

We went on a fun drive to a tiny hamlet in the middle of nowhere and went on a hike to Christine's favorite place in the lake district--a small waterfall that flows into Haweswater.  It was approximately 5 miles round trip, and Dylan walked the whole way.  Edith walked the whole way there and part of the way back.  The kids were absolutely amazing.  Seriously, they blew me away!  The waterfall was beautiful, and we enjoyed a small snack when we got there.  But the highlight of the hike were the small puddles on the trail that were full of tadpoles.  The kids were totally entranced.  I thought they were pretty cool, too.

We had a delightful picnic on the village green when we got back to the car, then we drove to the chocolate factory in Orton and all had icecream--Nanna's treat. 

Afterwards, we went for a lovely drive around Lake Windermere.  Up to Ambleside and then over the hills through the middle of nowhere on a road that hardly deserved to be called such.  We got stuck behind the WORST DRIVER IN BRITAIN.  I am not exaggerating.  That woman should have her license revoked simply because she does not have enough common sense to be allowed on the road.  We made a big loop and ended up back at Ambleside, stopping beside a small stream to have a quick paddle in the water and cool our feet off/let the car have a little break.  Then it was back to the cottage, corned beef hash (home-made, of course) for dinner, a trip to the local playground for the children, and bed again.

Martin and Christine helped me to study for my Britishness test and we all had hot chocolates and snacks.

It was even a good night's sleep!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holiday: Part 1 (or, It's probably only funny if you're Mormon)...

We were supposed to leave bright and early on Tuesday morning for our mini-break to the Lake District.  Bright and early turned into 9:45 am as we packed up everything we'd need and then the kids and I sat in the car for about 15 minutes while Martin searched the house for his temple recommend.  It was removed from his wallet by the kids.  Don't be sympathetic--he shouldn't leave his wallet down where the kids can reach it!

He never did find the thing.  It is "somewhere in the house," which currently doesn't bode well...

We drove to Ulceby to pick up my mother-in-law.  Martin left her toiletries bag sitting on top of the car, and we added about 45 minutes onto our journey by turning around and trying to find it.

Are you getting the picture that Martin was batting a thousand on Tuesday? 

Surprisingly, this did not irritate me in the slightest.  I really mean that, too.  I am totally shocked that I wasn't mad at him.  I wasn't even mildly annoyed.  Just amused.

The drive from Ulceby to the Preston Temple in Chorley was pretty uneventful, except Martin missed the junction for the motorway that takes you to Preston, so we had to switch on the sat nav (thanks, Christine) and find an alternate route.  Found out later, incidentally, that it was set to "shortest distance," not "fastest route."  That explains a lot!

We were going to try to make the 11am session.  Made the 2pm session instead.

Got to the temple, Christine took the kids, and we went inside.  I showed them my recommend with no drama.  Martin had to jump through some hoops.  They can verify the fact that he has a temple recommend electronically but then have to contact our bishop or stake president to make sure that his recommend hasn't been confiscated by them.  They also have to see picture ID to make sure he is who he says he is.  So there we are, sitting in the Temple, and the only ID Martin has is his personal alcohol license--a council issued document which authorizes him to sell alcohol.

I found this hilarious.  Martin thought it was kind of ironic.  Not really sure how the temple worker felt about the whole situation.

Anyway, we had a wonderful time at the temple.  And I have resolved to never let that much time lapse without a visit.  It had been nearly 3 years.  We've had recommends the whole time, but haven't made it there since Edith was born.  That is way too long!

Got out of the temple, and Christine was a bit frazzled.  We got in the car to finish our journey to the holiday cottage in Tebay (pronounced tee-bay) and had snacks and drinks.  Everyone calmed down and we enjoyed the stunning scenery.

The holiday cottage was small, but nice.  I cooked some pasta for dinner, we went for a little walk around the village, then we got the kids bathed and put in bed.  They settled in immediately and didn't make a peep about sleeping in a strange place, probably helped by the fact that they had their duvets from home on their beds.

Martin and I went to pick up a few essentials from the shop, and returned 3 hours later.  We got lost in Kendal and then got lost coming out again, too.  Martin was pretty stressed out about it.

So yeah, that was the first day of our mini-holiday adventure.  Eventful, slightly stressful, but still nice.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I tried to take the kids to the beach yesterday.

Dylan had a good time.  Edith was miserable and she kind of ruined it for the rest of us.  I spent the whole time carrying her around, and threw my back out as a result (she is small for her age, but she's still two years old and quite heavy)!  Today has been painful.

What a waste of petrol and parking money.

Especially because when we got home, both kids stripped down to their underwear, planted peas out in the back garden, and had a fantastic time. 

Incidentally, why does my mother-in-law always show up when my kids are dirty and only dressed in pants and the house is a total wreck?

Martin started a week's holiday today.  We don't have anything going on tomorrow, but we leave for the Lake District on Tuesday morning and I am taking my "Life in the UK" test on Thursday (on our way home).  Martin and I are going out on a date on Friday night--hopefully to celebrate my pass on the test.  Then he's working on Saturday.  Dad will be here on Sunday.  I'm also giving my first lesson in Relief Society and singing in Sacrament meeting.  It's going to be a busy week.

Fingers crossed that little miss grumpy pants cheers up before we go!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Family photos

A few weeks ago we had some photos taken, and I am just now getting around to posting a few--what a slacker!  I'm really pleased with the way they turned out.  We got some particularly lovely pictures of the kids and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Friday, April 08, 2011

Wow. Just, wow!

Edith woke up on Monday morning and decided to speak.

After months of just jibberish she has finally started parroting and picking up new words at about the rate of approximately 4 per day.  She has started pointing to things and telling me what they are.  This evening, when I tucked the kids in to bed, she made up a little song and sang it to herself.  Sure, it went "bum, bits, bum, bits."  It was still freaking awesome.

Oh, I love this girl!

Dylan had a bit of a rough day.  Martin took the kids to the park while I worked out at the gym, and when I got down there Dylan was trying to play with another kid there.  The kid wouldn't play with him, and Dylan was absolutely crushed.  He was even crying a little bit, and he has been not quite right all day long.  I tried to give him extra cuddles and make sure he knew how loved he is all day, and reminded him that he has loads of friends at school who DO like to play with him, but I don't think it was quite enough.  He's really quite a sensitive little lad.

I adore my little man, too.

Feeling all loved up about my kids tonight.  Every once in a while, being a full time stay-at-home mom is the best job in the whole world.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Some sauce would make this crow taste a bit better...

I have been really opposed to taking the Britishness test ever since they instituted it in 2007.  When it came time for my visa renewal I was so opposed to it (and so convinced that we'd be moving back to the U.S. in another 2 years' time) that I didn't apply for permanent leave to remain since the test was required.  I've always thought that it was a time-wasting and sneaky way of a) making sure everyone can speak English in a way that doesn't appear racist and b) getting more money out of already broke immigrants.

I was wrong.

I am in the process of studying for the stupid test since it seems unavoidable now, and although I still feel it's inappropriate for me to be taking it, I can understand why it's mandatory.

The test seems to be aimed at asylum seekers and other vulnerable people.  The study materials highlight all of the rights and privileges granted to people living in a democracy.  They reassure people that the law is there to help them and protect them, not exploit them.  The study materials highlight the fact that women are treated as equals in the UK.  They teach people where they can go for help if they need it.  Oh, and they throw in a whole bunch of really boring stuff about the history, government, and demographics of the country.

And as far as the English thing is concerned, well, a lot of people have come here from countries where they were marginalized.  If they don't learn to speak English and integrate, even if it's just a little bit, they will be marginalized here as well.

So here I sit, most of the way through the study guide for the Britishness test, totally humbled.  I was being far too cynical.  They really are just trying to help.

It's not very often you can say that sincerely about ANY government.

It probably won't happen again.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Nobody makes you crazier than family...

...and since my siblings and parents are an ocean and a continent (plus a small island) away, it can only be my in-laws. 

My sister-in-law has not spoken to my father-in-law since August of last year.  Though spilling the beans on the reason for the family feud would, no doubt, boost readership of my blog, it's not my gossip to share.  Suffice it to say that he is mostly wrong but partly right and too stubborn to bend.  She is mostly right but also slightly wrong, and it is really none of her business.  And she inherited the stubborn gene from her father so also will not bend.  It's a messy situation that makes it hard for the rest of the family to function normally.

I had a little conversation with her about how disgusted she is with her mother right now.  She's very angry because "Mum is putting her husband before her own children, and that's just not right."

I feel like I should mention at this point that my sister-in-law is 28 years old.

I love my children to pieces.  I really do.  I would do anything for them, because they are my babies--my own flesh and blood.  And right now they are my number one priority because their father can, for the most part, take care of himself.  They cannot, because they are young and dependent.  But part of the reason I love my children so much is because I had them with the man I love more than anyone else in the whole world.  I'm not wishing their childhood away, but I am sincerely looking forward to the time when my relationship with my husband can take top priority again. 

When Dylan and Edith are grown up, will I put my husband before them? 

Um, is the Pope Catholic?

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only mother out there who feels this way.  Can I get an "Amen"?

I know that my mother loves me (and all my sisters and my brother as well).  I know she would do anything for me.  But I also know that I would never ask her to choose between me and her husband.  What a completely selfish thing to do!

Maybe my delightful sister-in-law's feelings will change once she has children of her own.  I really hope they do, because although you are always a mother, sooner or later you have to stop being "mommy" to your grown-up children.

All this from the girl who roundly criticized me for breastfeeding my daughter until she was nearly two.  Pardon my imagery, but you've gotta stop suckling at that (metaphorical) teat eventually. Personally, I think you ought to do it BEFORE you reach thirty.

Phew, I feel so much better now.
How funny that I felt the need to post this right before Mothering Sunday.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Two whole years...

Edith celebrated her second birthday today.

I can hardly believe that my baby is two.  She's not even a baby any more--she's a proper little girl.  Of course, she'll still seem like a baby until she learns to speak.

I wanted to write a glowing post for her birthday about how lovely and wonderful she is.  Unfortunately, she has been a bit under the weather and very hard work, so it's hard to gush right now.  I've pretty much held her constantly for the past week, and it's getting a little bit old.

That said, she actually is a wonderful little girl.  She is a real old-fashioned beauty, and such a sweet-natured thing.  She is a joy to have around most of the time.  She sort of lives in her own little world, wandering around and looking at things, singing and babbling to herself.  She is incredibly affectionate.  She is very good at sharing (for a two-year-old). 

Edith adds so much to our family.  We all absolutely adore her, and can't really remember what life was like before she came along.  Much less fun, I'm sure.

We did have a very nice day, even though she is a bit fussy lately.  Christine, Cathy, and Martin's Gilbert grandparents came over, and Amy joined us as well.  We had sandwiches, coleslaw, Doritos, drinks, and cupcakes for dessert.  She loved all of her gifts.  I did have to take her to see the doctor because my sister-in-law judged me and made me feel like a bad parent for not taking her.  Turns out that I was right and it's NOT a chest infection.

Our bridal wreath in the back garden bloomed yesterday. 

These are the things that make me happy.

It was a much nicer day than the one that she was born.  Though that one involved IV morphine.