Monday, November 30, 2015

Did we leave it too late?

I was thinking in the shower today, as I am wont to do do, and I realized that moving to Utah could be a bigger wrench for Dylan than I'd initially thought it would be.

He is football mad now, in a way that he never was before. And he has all of his neighbourhood friends that he plays out with. He's established himself in school as one of the "brainy" ones. He is comfortable with his life as it is. And we are going to take him to the U.S., where Premiership football might as well not exist. His love of Match Attax cards will go unfulfilled and he will know loads about a sporting league that, for all intents and purposes, most people in Utah don't even know exists. He will have to make new friends, and learn new things to talk about and new ways of playing. Oh wow--what am I about to do to my son? Is he going to be ok?

We wanted to leave here 6 years ago. When he was three, a move wouldn't have been a big deal at all. But now, well, it's a very big deal. And though he is excited about it, it's little wonder that he is also anxious. He is constantly asking little "When we move to America" questions. Poor kid!

Does moving back to Utah make me the most selfish beast of a parent in the world?

Thursday, November 05, 2015

A shift...

I have spent years being the most important person in the lives of my children. They love their dad, don't get me wrong. But he worked a lot, and I was on the front lines as the full time mother and housewife. They came to me for food, drinks, clothes, shoes, cuddles, you name it. And now I can feel that need changing. They are becoming more and more independent, and I am becoming a peripheral figure in their lives. Especially Dylan's, now that he is a very grown-up eight year old.

I never thought it would bother me. Truth be told, in many ways it doesn't. I love that they can do most things for themselves now. It's incredibly freeing! But it does make me slightly sad that I will never be the focal point in their little lives again. From here on out it will be friends, then girlfriends and boyfriends, then spouses, and then children (hopefully in that order!).

Life is kind of like the weather in England--if you don't like it, just wait five minutes.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A religious experience on the 350 Humber Fastcat bus to Hull

So I have done some things in my life that I am deeply ashamed of. That's not news to anybody who knows me well, but I just thought I'd throw it out there. Most of them were as a direct result of my rape at age 17, a fact which I realized during my therapy sessions to treat my PTSD (did you know I was officially diagnosed with it?).

I heard about this book, "The Body Keeps The Score," by Bessel van der Kolk, and it sounded right up my alley, so I asked my local library to get it in for me. They happily obliged for a reservation fee of £.75. It came in late last week, and it turns out that it is maybe the best £.75 I have ever spent.

This is a "smart book." No skimming allowed, because it is so densely packed with information that you have to read and comprehend every single word. But it is so profoundly interesting that you wouldn't want to skip anything, even if you could. It is all about the effects of trauma on the body, and it is fascinating.

I have spent the last week discovering why I did all of the things I did after my assault. Everything was basically a direct result of neurological functions. A way for my brain to process everything that had happened and get past it. And as I sat on the bus, reading this book, I had a moment of revelation. I realized that my actions in the face of the first rape, and in the years after it, were more than just mistakes. They were ways for my body and mind to try to heal themselves. And I knew, with every fiber of my being, that God does not judge me for the things I did then. In fact, God is proud of me for finding a way to get better, in the face of some pretty horrific things that had been done to me. I wasn't able to go to anyone else for help at that time, so I had to try and help myself. And, in a weird way, my actions seem to have been guided by God even though they were not necessarily "good." Because as I look at those early years, I realize that so many things I did are very nearly textbook examples of how to treat PTSD. And that could NOT be a happy accident. The odds are too high against it.

I needed therapy. It was the last step to help me in my recovery. But I was functioning before that. In a nearly normal way. And after the things that happened, I should not have been. I have no reason to be ashamed. I should be proud of myself, just like God is.

I sat and cried on that bus. Because for the first time in years, I felt truly clean.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Ten years ago, we moved to England. We had been married for not quite four years. I was only 26 years old, and had no children and no responsibilities other than making sure I had a roof over my head and food to eat. Martin and I spent most of our time doing a whole lot of whatever we wanted to do. I had a flat stomach. Boy, how things have changed!

I took Dylan to his first ever football training session last Thursday. I took him there in my new-to-us Renault Scenic. It's a long chassis vehicle. Basically, a minivan that only seats five. It is totally a mommy car. I've never had one of those before. And though I love it, because we all have so much more space on long drives now, I also hate it. It's like I've finally given up on my youth and have resigned myself to parenthood and impending middle age.

But the kids have tray tables, just like on an airplane. And there is underfloor storage. And I can fit Edith's bike in the back seat!

Getting older really sucks. I know a lot of people are fine with it. But they are only fooling themselves. I don't think about it very often, but when I do I mourn the passing of my youth. Most of the time, I don't feel like I'm getting any older. But when I see how grown up my children are getting, or when I buy a soccer mom Scenic and LOVE it, I realize just how much things have changed in the past ten years. And though I love my life, and especially my children, it makes me sad. Because I don't deal well with change. Never have, never will. And, unfortunately, that's what life is all about.

Autumn always makes me slightly melancholy. Watching another growing cycle come to an end, and seeing mother nature shutting down for a long winter's rest. It always feels like the end of something, even though I know that life is cyclical in nature. It's as much a beginning as it is an end. But the days get shorter, the nights close in, and everything starts to die. And I start to think about ageing, and the inevitable changes that come with it.

I think I need to up my happy pill dosage.

Friday, October 02, 2015


Most especially, the internet ones!

After three weeks of absolutely no home broadband, we are officially connected again. It feels like freedom!

So that was the highlight of the week, for the whole family. But it hasn't been a great week. Here's why:

Saturday, Dylan was allowed to "play out" (possibly the most useful British phrase since "How do you feel in yourself" and "I can't be bothered") with instructions to be home in half an hour. Nearly an hour later, when he still hadn't showed up at home, I went to collect him from one of the two places he was supposed to be. Imagine my surprise when I discovered he wasn't there!

I wandered the neighbourhood for the next half an hour, searching for my missing eight year old son. Had to leave poor Edith at home alone to do it, as well, in case he showed up at home whilst I was out searchng!

He wasn't in any of the usual spots, and I was nearly panicking when Edith called me to tell me he was home. I rushed back, and that kid got the spanking of his life, as well as properly shouted at for the first time ever. He was, in addition, grounded from all tech for a week, and grounded from playing out indefinitely. And when I told him all that and he was still being defiant and indifferent, I hit him where it REALLY hurts. I took away his Barcelona football kit. That drove the message home, obviously, since he sobbed for the next 30 minutes. And I can tell you one thing--that kid will NEVER do that again!

Sunday was the Primary Sacrament meeting presentation. It went well, with few mistakes and lots of brilliant moments. Mostly, I am just glad it's over. Not my favourite thing to do in the whole world!

Monday was when it all started to go a bit wrong. I drove to Scunthorpe to give Gill her weekly massage, but she was having one of her long (read 3-4 day) sleeps, so we decided to give it a miss. I did my weekly shop, grabbed some lunch, and headed for home. When I got back to Barton, I realised that my house key was locked inside the house. We have no spare key. So I had to drive over to our estate agent's office to borrow their copy. As I was rounding the corner to go to their office, the EPC light came on in the car and the engine died. I couldn't get it restarted, so had to call work to come and bail me out. Which they did. Which was awesome.

My lovely boss, Chris, gave me (and my groceries) a ride home. Then I found my own keys, returned the estate agent's keys, and was home just in time for the kids to get back from school. And Chris told me it was most likely the cambelt. Ouch! It will cost more than we paid for the car to get it fixed. Time to shop for a new-to-us car.

Tuesday was great, actually. I unpacked all of the boxes in the dining room, and it is looking really nice. That was also when the BT engineer came out and sorted our internet. It took 3 1/2 hours, but the man was tenacious, and got it fixed.

The rest of the week has just been, for lack of a better word, blah! I haven't felt this way for a long time, and really need something to pull me out of this funk. It totally sucks! The kids are going for a sleepover at their Auntie Cathy's house tonight, and they are super excited for that. Martin and I are going on a hot date, so maybe that will shake things up enough to snap me out of it. Oh, and we hope to buy a car tomorrow. That should help as well.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Basically, we still don't have it in our house. And yes, it is driving me crazy. But as the days go on with no connection, I miss it less and less. I have been spending more time reading and working, more time listening to music. I haven't been on Facebook every two hours and all of my social media activity has basically been limited to two days a week when I can use the WiFi at work, or when I happen to be driving past a McDonald's.

It's amazing, how quickly we come to take things like WiFi for granted. When I first moved away from home and went to college, I had to go to the school's library to type papers and send e-mails. I had no computer in my room, and I didn't even have my own phone line, let alone internet. AND, no mobile phones! How did I survive? Things have changed a lot in the past 15-16 years.

Now I feel really old!

Dylan has lost another tooth. And I know that hardly seems BLOG-worthy, but trust me, it's a big deal. He really doesn't like losing his teeth, and this one was a front tooth that was barely hanging on for almost 10 weeks. I had finally had enough of him looking like he had a chiclet held to his gums, being unable to speak properly, and eating out of the side of his mouth. I told him if it wasn't out by the following day I was taking him to the dentist to have it pulled. He got it out the next morning. And then, last night, Edith head butted him whilst they were playing and knocked out another one. What a champion!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


When Martin and I bought our house on Fleetgate, we spent the first few months trying to get rid of the wet dog and nicotine smell that pervaded the upstairs rooms. On Monday night, when we went to give the keys to the new owners, they were smoking and their dog was running around.


It is done. The money is in the bank. We are mortgage free. It still doesn't feel quite real, but once we start filling out paperwork, I'm sure it will. This is happening, and it is very exciting!

Every time I do something now, I think to myself that it could be the last time. Last Barton Carnival, last time at the Lincoln Christmas market, last bonfire night, last Primary presentation, etc. It's a strange feeling. We've been here for so long, and we are so happy and comfortable here. In fact, it occurred to me just yesterday that I have lived at 48 Fleetgate longer than I have ever lived anywhere in my whole life! Change is a good thing, but it is so terrifying!

One good thing came of the key exchange. They were painting their new house, and it got me all excited to buy a house in Utah when we move back. I love the fun of making a house a home. It's different with a rental, when you don't want to do too much to it since it's not yours (and because you'll only be living there for a few months). But it's great to start with a clean slate, choose colours, make changes, and do all that initial work that makes a place your own. We are planning on buying a fixer-upper and really going to town on it. I can hardly wait!

The kids are thriving at school, as per usual. They both love their new teachers, and are getting right back into the swing of things. I have started letting them walk to school on their own, and Dylan especially loves the independence it gives him. Edith isn't allowed to go on her own though, because she is a bit on the flighty side, so if Dylan has a club after school, I go and collect her. It's so nice to only have to get the kids ready in the morning and not worry about getting myself ready as well.

Martin is still loving the job. This career move has been brilliant for him so far. He's having to work weekends at the moment, as they are pushing hard to finish a job, but he still comes home from work happy and never has to go in after his scheduled hours. And he gets paid hourly, so a 50 hour work week is worth it!

So that's the update.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Well that was a weird six weeks...

School is back in session, I am back at work, and...

We sold our house!!!

Well, technically we haven't sold it yet. We are waiting on our solicitors, and theirs, to finish up the paperwork. But we have moved out of 48 Fleetgate and into a nice (albeit much smaller) house just a few streets down on Finkle Lane.

So here's what happened:

Sarah and Hannah loved the house, they made an offer, it was a bit low so we met them half way. They agreed, and we formally accepted their offer. Then a survey was done and we had to reduce the price as their mortgage company demanded a cash retainer from them because of some issues. Not a huge deal--the house IS really freaking old. Annoying, but they were fair about it. We agreed to a completion date, and started looking for a house to rent. We found a house, got that all squared away, then started packing for our move. I got chicken pox (that's right, BLOOMING CHICKEN POX) and didn't feel up to doing much packing. The Mundays came and helped. The Tillings came and helped. Noelle's husband Richard came and helped. The missionaries helped a bit, as well. My visiting teacher and mother-in-law helped me pack up the kitchen. The Mundays helped again, including feeding us dinner when we were too tired to move. Martin worked through it all, putting in 10 hour days on a building site and 5 hour nights moving house. The kids were annoying. My asthma flared up. We finally got all moved out on the seventh of September. The solicitors still haven't completed.


I am a bit of an emotional wreck/giant ball of stress. We are in the new house, but there is no storage there and we have a lot of stuff. Granted, I am planning on getting rid of a great deal of it. But for the time being, we are shuffling around it. That first night I crawled over the boxes into our bed and cried myself to sleep, miserable that we were in this tiny house while our beautiful old (HUGE) house stood empty just a few streets away. I love that house. So many happy memories were made there. And now that it's completely empty and clean, I can see just what a great house it really is. I can't stand messes, and the new place will be one for a while until we get some storage sorted out. It feels cramped and messy, and I just want to go home. But we are doing this, and it will be worth it in the long run.

Our plan is to stay in England until around June. Then we will move back to the U.S., find jobs, get settled, and have a little bit of a summer break before the kids start school. We are hoping to buy a house, something that we can fix up like we did here. We are making a decent profit on the sale over here, so it should work out pretty well.

So there you have it--our last six weeks. Pretty mental, huh? So much for relaxing days with plenty of bike rides and picnics and swimming. Instead it was non-stop stress and paralysis, and packing, and denial, and graft. Oh, and a few lie ins as well.

This is just the first step in our journey back to Utah, and while it is incredibly stressful, it is also what we've wanted for over 5 years now. We're excited!

Friday, July 17, 2015


Not on the house, unfortunately, but almost as good. Martin has a job!!!

He starts on Monday and will be on a six month contract (through a temp agency) working at a school. Those are the only details I know (plus his hourly wage, but it would be uncouth to disclose that and I am all about being "couth"). I am super proud. He is nervous. We are both relieved.

Today is my last day of work until September, and Martin's first paycheck should come in just after my last one. Thank goodness!

Time to celebrate!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A second viewing...

The nicest little couple came to look at our house yesterday. One of them I have actually met before--she is a PCSO who works with Lewis. They have pets and hope to have children, and they loved our house. The size, the quirkiness, the enclosed garden, the lot.

They have scheduled a second viewing for tomorrow, and I am kind of nervous about it now. Not that they won't want the house, mind you. I've gotten used to that. I am slightly nervous that they WILL want the house, and that they will make an offer that we are happy with. Because even though the job situation isn't great right now, socially we are having a lot of fun!

Staying in England is looking a little bit appealing right now. We have great friends, a great ward, our kids are settled and thriving in school, and we are comfortable. To be honest, I have always had commitment issues. But when I DO commit, I find it very hard to let go. And I don't want everything to change. What if things get worse?

And yet, what if things get better?

Dad, do you remember that time you took us to the casino in Wendover to show us how gambling "never pays"? You put a dollar in a poker slot machine and won $20. Then you blushed and said, "That NEVER happens, girls." Well, good news. The lesson, though it didn't exactly go to plan, seriously stuck. I don't like to play the odds. Ever!

But for all that, if we DO sell the house in the next six weeks, I will be thrilled about it. I miss my family so much. All of you! It will just be terrifying to leap back into the unknown. I am getting too old for all this nonsense. Too old to start over again!

Ok, my angst filled rant is finished. I'm inventing problems that don't even exist yet. And really, my anxiety isn't that big of a problem. I can always just have my doctor up my dosage of Prozac and crack on. And even if we sold the house tomorrow, we would still have to wait at least six months before we could move. Deep, cleansing breaths. I need to do some yoga!

On another note, I had a girls' night out yesterday. It was weird. We all went out to a pub in Hull together whilst Martin stayed at home with the kids, and we had a GREAT time on our way there. We were belting out power ballads at the top of our lungs and headbanging to "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. Then we got there, and ran into one of the girls' ex-boyfriend's new girlfriends. The one he cheated on her with. Also, the other girl I went with has recently decided to split up with her husband. So there was major drama all night long. Though I still had fun, I went home VERY grateful for my marriage to my wonderful husband. Seriously, how did I get so stinking lucky? Heaven knows I didn't deserve him when I met him, and most days I still don't. But he's still in love with me after all these years, and I am still crazy in love with him, too.

Tomorrow is my last day of work before the kids' summer holidays. It's going to be nice to have six weeks off with the kiddies. Martin has a couple of irons in the fire, so to speak, and he's still picking up barrow joinery jobs. I think we're all looking forward to warm days filled with bike rides, trips to the park to play football, swimming, picnics, and plenty of time at friends' houses. I know Martin and I are looking forward to not doing a school run every day! There is absolutely no dread this year for the long break. I know my kids, and I know they can entertain themselves. Well, Edith can, anyway. I am glad we'll have some time off together. We're all a bit burnt out right now, and it will be great to relax the routines and have a little fun.

I may not post for a bit though, since I hardly ever go on the computer at home and I can't post from my phone. I'll try though, and there will be plenty of pictures on Facebook and Instagram.

See, just typing about summer has made me relax and stop worrying about the possible move. Oh wait, now I am thinking about it again. Anxiety is back.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Simple gifts...

Yesterday I decided to try and focus on all the simple joys that abound in my life. So here they are. Or rather, here SOME of them are:

My warm bicycle seat.
The strength and stretch of my thigh muscles as I ride my bike home
The smell of the flowers on the corner of Marsh Lane and Catherine Street.
The flavour of raspberries, picked from my garden and eaten still warm from the sunlight.
The feel of my hair brushing against my back.
Standing on tip-toes to hang washing on the line.
The look and taste of cherry juice as we picked the fruit.
The gleam of ripe cherries, just waiting to be stoned.
Knowing that those cherries were 100% free!
The extra hug I got from my daughter when she came downstairs to say goodnight.
The soft cotton of my sheets and the weight of my duvet on a slightly cool night.
A good night's sleep.

It's good to have a body.

It's even better to enjoy it.

There was a time when I hated my body, and there was an even longer time when I intentionally dulled my senses. I am still struggling to regain some of the sensations that my body should feel, but I am grateful for the joy that my still strong senses help me experience.

Simple Gifts - Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The school reports are in...

It's official--Dylan has been listed as a "gifted and talented" student.

And Edith is doing really well, also. Her note from the head teacher called her a "lovely girl." That's true most of the time.

Parents' evening was Tuesday for us, and we had glowing reports from both of their teachers. They have been very impressed with my little darlings, and are very pleased with the academic progress they made.

Dylan's teacher, Mr. Corrigan, was most pleased with Dylan's prowess in Maths. He is already done with the level 4 test, and will be starting next year at the level he should achieve by the END of next year. He's always been good with numbers though--I remember him counting (and understanding the numbers) at the age of about 20 months. Obviously didn't get that from me, but I'm pleased he has the knack.

Mrs. Percy, Edith's teacher, praised her creativity and love of reading and writing. She has imagination coming out of her eyeballs, and can spin a story with great ease. She's not so great with focusing on things, but that's because she is so busy daydreaming. Once she is focused, she is wicked smart.

I keep having these perfect moments with my kids. I'm not counting on them lasting forever, because I know that they will get annoying and I will be short with them. But the first years were HARD! Now, there are times when we are out doing something as a family and I think to myself, "This is what I imagined having children would be like." And those moments are so glorious!

I had one last night, as a matter of fact. Martin was playing 5-a-side football with his friends and it was no-tech day. So after dinner, the kids and I went on a bike ride. We had no errands to run--we went purely for the fun of it. We rode down to water's edge, along the Humber bank, and through the park. Then, on the way home, we found a new cherry tree. So we stopped and picked and ate cherries for about 10 minutes, and had a stone spitting competition. Dylan is getting very good at spitting cherry pits! Then we rode home and the kids got ready for bed. We read scriptures together in my bedroom, then said prayers. Goodnight kisses all 'round, then they went up to bed. And I was so grateful for the blessing that my children are to me.

Motherhood has never set well with me. I don't know why. It makes me feel like less of a woman, to be honest. We are supposed to be loving and nurturing and all that jazz. That's just not me. But I feel like I'm coming to a place with my kids, now that they don't need such constant physical care, where I can be true to myself and still be a good parent to them. I guess I'm realizing that motherhood isn't one-size-fits-all, and though I can't be that caring, selfless, nurturing mom, I can still be a GOOD mom. Maybe even a great one, occasionally. After all, these kids are doing just fine.

Life plods on much the same as usual over here. Work is good, church is good, home is great. Even our social lives have picked up a bit. I've made a few new friends and picked up a few new massage clients, which is nice. Martin is still waiting for his certification papers from the college, so he can't get site work as a joiner yet. But he is picking up a few jobs here and there, and we are managing. Money continues to be a stressful issue, but not a debilitating one.

I'm at work now, and listening to the church clock chime 2pm. It's one of my favourite things about working here--the church bells chiming every quarter of an hour.

I know this will probably jinx it, but I feel weirdly content right now. Maybe it's the fluoxetine talking, but everything seems to be really good. I hope life can stay like this for a little while. Well, mostly like this, but with Martin working full time again.

Only two more weeks of school for the kids, then they will be on their six week summer holidays. Weirdly, I am really looking forward to it. I think they are, too.

Seriously, I think somebody is smoking pot outside my bedroom window at night. I am so mellow. Awesome!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Poor mom, no wonder you are freaking out!

I have been a blog slacker lately. I don't really have a good excuse, but I do have a very bad one. PINTEREST!

The internet is amazing. And a giant time suck!

Things are OK here in sunny old England (not joking, we actually HAVE had a few sunny days). Nothing major is really happening, which is why I haven't felt the need to blog. A few things have happened, though.

First and foremost, Martin has finished his college course. He is now the proud owner of a City and Guilds level two carpentry and joinery certificate. He also has his silly safety card that he needs in order to work. Now he is sending off resumes and such, in the hope of being gainfully employed ASAP. I'm confident. He actually got an e-mail from a company in New Zealand saying they desperately needed carpenters and pitching the concept of a "working holiday." I told him I'd be perfectly willing to go to NZ for a year--on our way back to the U.S., of course. It would be super fun!

In the meantime, though, Martin has been picking up small jobs here and there. He's loving the work, and the independence it affords him. It's just not quite enough for our family to scrape by on, so hopefully he will soon be suckling at the teat of a large corporation that pays him regularly and gives him steady employment. I'm so tired of being broke!

The kids are both doing well--winding their way toward the end of the school year in late July. They are a constant source of irritation and amusement. Oh, and love. We all went to Martin's 5-a-side football match last night, and Edith reminded me how much fun it is to roll around in the grass and just generally goof off. The kids remind me to enjoy the simple things in life, and I love them for that!

Dylan has started playing with kids from school a lot more, and we are giving him some independence in regards to walking or riding his bike to school on his own. He loves it! The days where he just wants to hang out with mom and dad are almost done, I think, and it feels like the end of an era. Edith won't be far behind him, and then we'll probably wish they wanted to just stay home with us. But we'll always have our Sundays and our Friday night movie nights. I'm glad of that!

We finished reading the Book of Mormon as a family last week. That was a pretty big deal. Now we've started over, and we look forward to reading it again. I'm thinking it may be time for everyone to read two verses every night instead of just one each. The kids are both excellent readers now. Dylan continues to exceed all expectations at school, and Edith is wicked smart as well, just totally dizzy!

I am doing ok. A bit blah, but just fine. I've been giving a lot of massages lately, which is good. Exhausting, but good. The cash for those used to be my "mad money," but lately it has been our grocery money. I still love giving massages, but it does take a lot out of you. I've re-injured my left elbow somehow, and I might need to go back in to the hospital to have another steroid injection into the joint. OUCH! But it works, and it needs doing. And because of the NHS it is free! I am also considering training in sports therapy massage in the fall. I think I would be good at it. And I know I would enjoy it. Especially since a lot of Martin's friends play football, we have a new(ish) friend who plays American football, I have a friend who runs, and Martin knows a lot of baseball people. Pretty rich potential client base! We'll see though.

Oh, and we are considering re-listing our house with a different estate agent. They cost more, but they are a lot more proactive about selling houses. We'll see how that pans out. They have suggested that we try to get legal permission for a parking space before we re-list, as it will potentially increase the value of our home by about £5,000. That's totally worth it, right? We're still trying to move over. Just not really succeeding at the minute.

But life is good. It's plodding on slowly, with very little excitement and drama. The days all blend together in a pleasant haze most of the time. If we do anything exciting, I'll be sure to update this space!

Now mom, get a new phone! PLEASE!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

In my defense...

I usually blog during that weird down time I have at work, every afternoon from about 1:30pm to 3:30pm. The cars are all here, the parts are all ordered, and the mechanics are all cracking on with jobs. I get bored. I blog. But, obviously, I haven't been doing that lately.

I have, instead, devoted myself to a different worthy cause. I am researching Martin's family tree. At last, I am getting on board with that whole family history thing. And, surprisingly enough, I am really enjoying it. It's a bit addicting. Hence me never blogging any more.

But still, at least it's not heroin!

Thursday, April 16, 2015


So yeah, Phil, the guy who took over Stables and fired Martin, has given up on running a business. He's let the restaurant revert back to the original owners. They, in turn, have sold it to someone else. Probably for less money, since Phil essentially ran it into the ground and drove off all the regular customers when he sacked Martin. THAT happened!

The new owners know Martin. And they've asked him if he wants his old job back.

Tempting? Maybe for him!

Gratifying? Oh, ab-so-freaking-lutely!

Martin's mood has really lifted since that conversation happened. And, combined with Winteringham Fields wanting to hire him full time, he is feeling downright buoyant. But my husband knows me well, and has told them that he is finishing his training and getting work as a joiner, or his wife will kill him.

Martin has got some work experience arranged with one of the local builders (church connections are awesome). He's not asked for a job--just the chance for some hands on, unpaid experience. He starts on Monday. And if it should turn into a real job, so much the better. He's caught up to the other guys on his joinery course now, too. So he's only at college two days a week instead of four. That means we have one day a week to ourselves again, and it's GREAT!

I'm going to try and get some pictures posted on here soon. If only my windows phone supported mobile blogging! I got some great pictures on the Easter holiday. We didn't do much, but we DID have a great time. England is starting to get gorgeous again, like it does every spring. I love this country more than words can express in April, May and June!

Happy drugs have officially kicked in, and life is plodding on at a nice pace now. Not enjoying the side effects of the drugs, but loving not being a big ball of rage and paranoia. And happy that my husband is feeling confident again.

I sure do love that man!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Giving in...

I saw a doctor on Monday--one I've never seen before. I went in mostly because I was in the middle of a REALLY bad asthma attack that was illness/stress induced. But I left the office with my inhaler prescriptions, antibiotics, steroids, and fluoxetine.

Yes, I am back on the happy pills. And this time not just for a six month trial period, or a little 3 month pick me up. The doctor wants me on them for at least two years.

I was doing ok. Exercise was enough to keep my mood, if not good then at least, well, stable. But exhaustion has slowly been creeping up on me again. And short temper. And slight hints of paranoia. And the occasional unshakable feeling of dread. Then the guilt. And then, last Friday night, after I dropped the kids off for a sleepover at their beloved Aunty Cathy's house, the almost irresistible urge to drive my car at full speed in front of oncoming traffic. That's when I knew.

It's a scary feeling--that urge to do something that you know your rational mind would never allow. And yet, at the same time, comical. Like those little cartoon devils and angels, sitting on your shoulders and telling you what to do.

I had the same problem after Dylan was born. I was deep down in a pit of antenatal depression, and that little devil would whisper suggestions to me--that I go get a butcher knife when it was the middle of the night and I was sleep deprived with a crying newborn. That I push him and his Mamas and Papas travel system in front of the bus.

Wow, writing this all down makes me feel like even more of a mess...

Bottom line is, I never actually did any of those things. My rational mind was enough to stop me. My moral compass never faltered, even though my weak physical brain did. Does. And crazy is as crazy does. I'm not crazy. I'm just sick. There's a difference.

Anyway, this is all sounding terribly melodramatic. It goes against my strict "no drama" policy. I'm back on antidepressants, and I'm there for the foreseeable future. And I just have to learn to be ok with a (totally legal) drug dependency. But even though I have heard all the arguments--you wouldn't turn down insulin if you were a diabetic, would you?--and I agree with all of them, it doesn't make it any easier to acknowledge that dependency. I don't even like having to use maintenance inhalers for my asthma, let alone a mood altering substance!

But the one thing that scares me most of all is that I will lose it with my kids. I don't mean I worry that I will get angry with them when they have been naughty. I mean snapping over something completely silly. Because my mood is fine if it only affects me. But when I am mean to my kids, it becomes a problem. I adore those little monkey bums. I'd do anything for them. Including take antidepressants for the next 12 years until they both move out.

Already it feels like the meds are working. I am definitely having a physical reaction to them (oh boy, am I ever!). The worst has passed. I am feeling less fragile. And a LOT less like driving my car in front of a big lorry.

Don't worry mom--things are looking up. We really are doing fine. This was just a bit of a wake-up call!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Drama queen...

Big surprise, that would be my darling Edith.

Both children took part in the annual Scunthorpe Speech and Drama Festival last week. They did verse speaking, and I was very proud of both of them. Dylan flubbed a tiny little bit (he started saying the poem before he announced the title and author) but he did just great. Edith was a superstar. She stomped her way up to the podium, got settled in, did the poem (including a funny little voice for part of it), smiled, and flounced back to her seat like she owned the joint. And she did. she took first place in her group. We went to the trophy round on Saturday afternoon, where her very supportive family came to watch, and she did very well. Alas, no trophy. But she was completely adorable. Especially the way she lounged in her chair with her legs crossed like a bored little super model.

So there you have it, mom. An update. Dylan won his round and went to the trophy showcase two years ago. It was just Edith's turn this time.

Things are plodding along in merry ol' England right now. Martin is still doing really well on his college course. He is loving working weekends at Winteringham Fields, too. They are happy with him and would like him to work there full time. Guess what I said to that! But it's been really good for his confidence to have them ask. I think he'll probably pick up a few shifts there, even after he gets a "real" job as a joiner. Just because he is passionate about fine dining. The weirdo!

Dylan has started a parkour/gymnastic fitness club after school on a Friday. He learned to do a forward roll last week, and has been jumping onto walls all over the place. He's really enjoying that. He's also had his tablet taken away for sneaking it into his bed on no-tech day last week. He'll be getting it back on Thursday, and he is really looking forward to that!

Edith, as mentioned above, is my little drama queen. She is looking forward to her birthday in just two weeks' time. We are planning a birthday shopping trip for her--just the two of us. No smelly boys! I still haven't bought her any gifts, but she is really quite easy to shop for. Anything super girly and beauty related, and she's a happy girl!

As for mom. Well, how long have we got? I think the stress of our current situation coupled with the extra shifts this week (my boss is on holiday and I am working all week to cover her) has tipped me over the edge of "ok" with my mental health. I had a really bad weekend, and the week hasn't been much better so far. I think it's going to be back on the happy pills for me. I've been feeling that mounting sense of dread again, and some mild paranoia. Snappish with the kids and Martin, as well. I am tired ALL the time--even when I just slept nine hours and haven't even got out of bed yet. Oh, and did I mention that I pretty much hate myself right now? I feel bad that I will be resorting to pills again, but this is no way to live. I mean, I was bawling my eyes out listening to Pink Floyd on my drive to church, for crying out loud!

(In my defense, it WAS to "Comfortably Numb," which is one of the best songs ever written, IMHO).

We had an offer on the house a few weeks back now. We could have sold it. How crazy is that? We talked about it for what seemed like hours, and decided that the offer was too low. We aren't desperate to sell. We need to make a good profit on the house so that our move back to Utah is (relatively) easy and comfortable, with plenty of start-up capital. So we will wait. And we've had another viewer who is very interested. She just has concerns about the burnt out house next door and is doing research into it before she decides whether to make an offer or not.

I thought I would be more excited when someone made an offer on our place. Instead, I was weirdly sad. Most of my married life has been spent there. My kids were babies there. We've invested so much time and energy on that house. When we finally do sell it to someone else, it will feel almost losing a part of myself.

Still worth it, though!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Valentine's day...

I had thought (for a brief moment) that Martin losing his job might mean we could spend Valentine's day together for the first time in, I don't know, about 8 years. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. He is working weekends at Winteringham Fields, so he was there. I did attempt to get myself all dolled up for him and wait up, but that romantic notion flew out the window at about 12:15am. I changed into comfy pajamas and went to sleep, waking briefly to mutter something about loving him when he woke me up later.

So Martin and I very rarely give each other gifts on V-day. It was very romantic anyway, though. He made me cute little Lucky Stars, which are made of long strips of folded paper. These ones contained a whole bunch of different quotes about love. It was great, because he hid a whole bunch of these tiny little stars (about the size of a quarter) all over the house, so I kept finding them at random times. And I was so impressed by his effort that when he got home from work I had made him chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream icing. Totally home made and actually kind of delicious.

The real highlight of my weekend was Friday night though.

It started out with a splinter removal from Dylan's hand. Always traumatic for the kids when I get out a sterilized needle and a pair of tweezers. Or even just a pair of fingernail clippers, for that matter. But we got the splinter out, and I got the kids tucked up in bed. Then I spent a perfectly delightful half hour tidying up and an even nicer hour playing the piano and singing. But alas, my quiet night in was not meant to be.

Edith started playing up at about nine pm. She had been complaining that her bum really hurt all evening, but she actually woke up and was sitting on the toilet crying. We had a fun little conversation and it turns out that she hadn't pooped for three days. GREAT! Normal for some kids, but not normal for my kids. So I went next door and asked my neighbor to kid sit for twenty minutes while I walked down to Tesco to pick up supplies.

The lady behind me at the checkout bought four bottles of champagne. I bought a bottle of prune juice and some suppositories. I wonder who had a better Friday night...

So an hour later, I sent Edith back up to bed. That's how long it took me to convince her to let me, um, administer the medication. It was an hour that neither one of us will ever forget, either. And almost as delightful was the ongoing conversation about her bowel movements for the next two days.

Most of the time, I still feel like I am just pretending to be a mother. Like any moment the REAL parent will burst in and send me on my way. But parenting got REAL that night.

We've had a really nice week though. the kids have been on their half term break, and SO HAS MARTIN! We've had lazy mornings and a few fun activities. We even had the missionaries over to help us with the big job of digging out borders behind the burnt out house next door (their mission president likes them to spend time serving the members, and we like having young, fit guys come over and help us out). We're going to do some guerrilla gardening there since it is south facing and the perfect place to grow vegetables. I've been at work for two of those days, but we got some intense family time. And the kids are having a sleepover with their nanna tonight, so I am going to go out. Maybe. I might just veg out at home enjoying total control of the television whilst Martin is at work.

Funny how great a quiet night to myself is now that I don't have that 5 nights a week.

So all is good in the Gilbert household. Mostly healthy, all happy, and plodding along. Just hope we don't need any more of those suppositories!

Friday, February 13, 2015

My promise...

When You Are Old
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

I've been thinking about ageing lately. Mostly because of a massage client of mine who is bedridden. She was very ill and in the hospital for quite a while, and has been at home in bed for over a year now. Every time I give her a massage, I come away feeling a little bit sad. And I think about the possibility of having to care for my own mother.

I know the Yeats wasn't written for a parent, btw. I just really love it, and it fits my melancholy mood.

So here is a little letter for my mommy:

Dear Mom,

I know you are still young and healthy, but I've been thinking about a time when you might not be. And if you are ever bed bound, I promise the following things:

If we are living close enough to each other, I will come over once a week to make sure your fingernails and toenails are in good shape. I will cut your nails, clean underneath them, and buff/paint them if you want me to. I will even file down that funky pinky toenail of yours if it ever grows enough to need some attention.

If we live close enough for that once a week visit, I will also take the opportunity to tweeze any weird beard/moustache hairs that you may develop. Not saying that you WILL become a hirsute old woman, but there's always that chance. And Mom, I am here for you.

If your eyesight gets bad, I will bring over trashy romance novels and read them out loud to you. Even the rude bits. I'm pretty sure that the church ladies will read scriptures to you, but some things just CAN'T be done by your visiting teachers.

I will lotion up your legs if you can't reach them, because dried and scaly legs are just plain uncomfortable.

I will tidy up the house, so you don't have to listen to Dad complaining about the mess. I know he likes it clean, and if you can't do it, I will.

I will also try to cook you a meal for the freezer. Maybe meatloaf, since we both know that mine is better than yours. Just..

If I don't live close to you, I will instead call you at least once, maybe twice a week, so we can gossip about all the family stuff. Especially after big events like baptisms, blessings, weddings and family reunions.

The main thing I promise is that I will think of you often. Because you are my mother, and I love you!

Your favorite daughter,


Thursday, February 05, 2015


I feel like I need to make myself a badge. A big, brightly coloured one that I can wear on my coat. One that is unmissable. And what, you may ask, would it say?

"Don't judge me, I'm growing out my eyebrows!"

Yes, I am that superficial.

I've been tweezing my brows ever since freshman year in high school, when I read an article about shaping your eyebrows properly in Seventeen magazine. And I have always had very nice brows, if I do say so myself. Immaculately groomed, carefully darkened, and (usually) pencil thin. But I read an article about how a "strong brow" is now in and some women age themselves by having very thin eyebrows, and I was inspired. I don't want to be like "some women." At least not on the eyebrow front. I mean, I NEVER bought a pair of skinny jeans--just rode that trend out (I hear flared crops are coming in this season). But brows--come on! That's always been my bag, baby!

This growing out process is painful. Well, ok, not really painful as such. But it is prickly and hairy and decidedly untidy. Painful in the sense that I cringe every time I see myself in the mirror.

So mom, you were right after all. I now regret plucking my eyebrows. You said I would all those years ago, and I snorted in derision. Want me to say it again (because I'd want to hear it again if it were me)?

You were right!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cracking on...

Martin is still jobless, but we have planned it that way.

Martin has wanted to do a joinery course at the college for YEARS! Seriously, we talked about it when Dylan was a newborn. And with this redundancy from Stables, we have decided that it's time for a career change. So Martin is now a full time student, attending classes at The Grimsby Institute four days a week, trying to do a nine month course in just five. So far, he's doing really well. And, best of all, he comes home happy every single day. No more grumpy Martin (except last Sunday, when he was absolutely foul all morning and early afternoon).

So how is this working out financially, you ask? We don't really know. Church is helping some, we have redundancy insurance on our mortgage, our working tax credits are increasing (as long as Martin and I are working a combined total of 24 hours a week), and we are making serious cutbacks to our budget. Last week, I only spent £23.91 on groceries. And we were all very well fed. It's only for five months, so we figure we can live on a shoestring for that long. And Martin will hopefully pick up a few shifts at Winteringham Fields around Valentines' and Mothers' day. Plus, he will be tending bar three nights a week at a local pub starting in March. Combine that with my part time job at Beck Hill (Elaine and Chris, you ROCK!) and my freelance massage business, and we are going to be fine. It'll be tight, but we'll get through it.

I'm a giant ball of stress right now, and that's good AND bad. Good news is, I'm not a stress eater but I AM a stress cleaner. My house is currently very tidy. Bad news is, anger management issues flare up when I'm stressed. And more good news is, Martin and I are seeing more of each other and his time with the kids hasn't decreased much on weekdays and has increased a LOT on weekends. If he can get a job with a local builder when he's finished, this could end up being a VERY good thing for our family.

And did I mention how HAPPY Martin is when he gets home from college every day? And eats dinner with us? EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!!!

So even though money is tight and we are stressed out about it, we are doing ok and the kids and I are really enjoying having Martin home. It's nice for them to have a full time dad, and nice for me to have a full time husband, too.

Daily life has been shaken up quite a bit. We are having to make adjustments all around. Thursdays are the most difficult, with me working and Martin at college. We are making arrangements for the kids to walk to school with a neighbor and her daughter, and they are currently going to one of Edith's friend's house after school for an hour until I finish work. Martin is home all day on Fridays so he can sort the kids out. And we are working out a new routine with a later dinner time and so an earlier bath time, etc. Once we get the kinks ironed out, this will be good.

Our old routine was comfortable. We all knew how every day would go, and things ran smoothly. Now it is harder, but we are learning to adjust. Give us a few more weeks, and we'll be doing just fine.

So now you can stop worrying, mom. I've been trying to call, but keep missing you. Oh, and I'm really glad you taught me how to cook and sew and be thrifty. Always useful lessons when the money isn't coming in as freely. So thanks, because we are still going to be wearing neat, tidy clothes and eating hearty and filling meals. Thanks for the life skills!

And hey, once Martin finishes this joinery course, he should be able to earn more money than he was making as a restaurant manager. This could mean a trip to the U.S. to see everybody. Especially if we live the way we currently are AFTER he starts earning a paycheck again.

Eternally optimistic.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Still nothing...

Martin has put it a lot of job applications in the past week, but we've still not got anything concrete. He's being paid for a few more weeks though, and is going to be paid out his leftover holiday pay, which is about a weeks' worth. So we're not too stressed out about it yet. Back Hill Motors has been busy, so my job looks secure enough. It's only two days a week, but it's more than we had last time Martin lost his job.

I hate the catering business. Is it ok to say that? I don't understand why Martin is always drawn back to working in restaurants. And yet it looks as though he could be headed back to Winteringham Fields. If that's where he can get work, we'll manage. But I dread it with every fiber of my being. It almost makes me feel as though Martin doesn't want to spend time with me and the kids. Irrational, I know. But it's still the way I feel.

He came in to my work just now to drop off the car keys (MOT time, ugh!) and he looked really sad. I hate it when Martin is sad. He's normally such a chilled out, optimistic guy. Sure, he had a few setbacks today. But I have confidence in Martin, and I wish he could have that same confidence in himself.

On a positive note, Martin and I knuckled down and did some SERIOUS spring cleaning yesterday. The front room and entrance hallway are immaculate, and we took some new pictures for the estate agent. We have also been talking about work that could be done to increase the desirability of our property. Mostly knocking out the back wall to create some off-road parking. Martin doesn't want to sacrifice our BBQ area, but I think I reasoned him into my way of thinking. Parking has been a major sticking point for some of our potential buyers, and we don't want to wait until we have squatters' rights on the abandoned property next door. It'll take too long!

Anyway, that's the news. Nothing exciting, somewhat stressful, mostly boring.

Sorry, peeps. My life has become dull beyond belief. I don't even have adorable babies to break up the monotony--just slightly (or very, depending on the day) annoying little kids. At least they're good looking.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

HUGE January update...

So Christmas was good. Hard work, but still good. Only a few minor meltdowns, and major family drama avoided. Good food, great gifts, lovely family time. And, best of all, no anger management issues for me during the whole of the Christmas break from school. Still, Martin and I were both glad to see them back at Castledyke yesterday!

New Year's Eve was a non-event. Kids were in bed by half past seven, Martin was at work, and I stayed up and watched Dexter on Netflix. Accidentally stayed up until midnight, because I was really into the episode I was watching. Martin got home right before midnight, we had a weird interaction, then kissed, and I went to bed. He stayed up and ate dinner/watched sports. Because we are so romantic and that's the way we roll.

A bit of bad news this morning. Martin has been let go at Stables. We've kind of been expecting it since the new guy bought the business late last year, but it's still stressful and demoralizing. Martin only found out about an hour and a half ago, but he is already job hunting. It could end up being a good thing though, since his hours were horrible and he was kind of looking around anyway. This could be the final push that gets him into a job where we can actually have a social life. We never see anybody!!!

So yeah, other than that, things are good. I have recommitted myself to the gym and am back in full swing there (hey, I'll now be able to work out in the evenings if I want to. AWESOME!). Just finished off week three of the couch to 5K app, and it feels great whilst at the same time kicking my butt. I have already started to notice that I have way more energy. I'm going to do some research into weight training programs--maybe see if there are some good personal trainer apps so I can maximize my efforts at the gym. And maybe Martin and I can start cycling together in the mornings. Hmm...

The kids are growing and thriving. Edith seems to have shot up about 4 inches in the last month, I swear. And her hair is getting really long now. She loves it! Martin wants her to get another pixie cut. She is becoming a really good reader, and is a social animal. She loves playing with her friends, and I think she might be an artistic child. Yay! Dylan is still super smart, of course. He's starting to get really into football, and enjoys collecting Match Attax cards (I hate them!). He's excited to be back at school with all his friends, and has a new teacher. A MAN!

My part time job is going well. Still love the people I work with, and feel really blessed to have this job. Especially now! The house still isn't sold (but Martin is hoping to get some work done on it now that he'll have more free time). Martin is jobless but optimistic. So all in all, we're in a decent place for the start of 2015.

One thing--Dylan is going to be turning eight this year. You know what that means--BAPTISM! We were hoping that we'd be living back in the U.S. by then, but it's not looking likely now. So if any family members would like to come over for his baptism, start saving your pennies now. We'll probably have the baptism on his actual birthday, the 29th of August. Just a heads up.

So there you have it, a Gilbert family update. Keep you posted with the job situation. And now that I'm back at work, expect weekly updates here!

Kisses to all.