Wednesday, November 28, 2007
We've had a really busy few days which is why I haven't blogged for a while. On Monday we worked out on the bike (and did programs that were pretty tough too. We made it to the end of them, but it explains some towards why we were so tired). A lot of the rest of the day was tidying up in the house and going out to run errands. We went to a Goodwill (which is so huge. I will never look at charity shops back home in the same light. Maybe I'll take pictures at some point). and I found two tops and some dungarees which is so cool. I just have a thing about dungarees and haven't had any since I was little. I need to lose a few more pounds before I can wear them without looking and feeling extremely stupid, but hopefully that won't be too far away :-)
After Goodwill we went to the post office and then on to Walmart. When you're out with four boys in tow somehow just going to three stores can take most of the day. In the evening we did some prep for our ladies bible study (which we went to today) and just chatted for a while. I had tried to write an email to all the people in my small group earlier in the day, but just as I pressed send the internet connection went down and I lost the whole thing. That made me a bit sad, but I feel ok now.
Today we were out from 8.30am until 6pm. This morning we had ladies bible study at church which was good. Especially since I got to cuddle a not at all old (I think maybe a month old?)beautiful baby girl. Which of course, for me, made it a great morning :-)
After bible study we went to drum lessons (Andrew and Daniel take lessons with a man from the church called Eric) and we ate lunch there with Lisa (Eric's wife) and their two children, and then this afternoon we went to their house and did some fun crafty stuff. We made some paper mache balls, which next week we will go back and paint and turn into Christmas decorations. Toward the end of the afternoon we went, along with some other kids from that street, to a park and the older kids enjoyed playing football, while the younger ones were on the climbing frame and slides.
By the time we got home we were all sleepy so we got a quick dinner (I love eating leftovers :-) ) and then once we'd got the kids off to bed I sat down to read and sort out my emails. About an hour later I finally got around to writing this post, and now it's 9.20pm and if the internet connection stays on long enough for me to put this post up then I will be very happy and totally ready to go to bed.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Today is Thanksgiving and I am thankful that I get to experience it firsthand with blest and her family. (Hey, did I ever gloat over the fact I know her real name? Well, I do, so there! Actually it's really hard because I still haven't quite figured out whether to call her blest or ___.
We've had a lovely day so far. We will be eating our Thanksgiving dinner this evening, so I can't tell you all about that yet, but we have done lots of fun stuff. Blest found some cool activity sheets on the internet where the two oldest got to pick words to fill in the missing gaps in a story and they just loved doing that. See here because I'm not explaining it so well.
After that we each had a sheet of paper with the phrase "I'm thankful for..." at the top and blest got out her huge box of stickers. They're all ones that she has for scrapbooking, but she said that since she probably wouldn't be doing any of that for a while (with her business and all) so we could use them. We stuck on stickers to represent all the things we are thankful for, and then each person got to show everybody and explain what each sticker stood for. The boys were so cute when they got up to show their posters, especially the youngest who said "I'm so thank-you for ...".
This afternoon blest and I played a game of scrabble, which she won (of course!), but it was a good game. Now the boys are watching Hook on DVD, blest is getting the turkey ready to go in the oven, and I am blogging and catching up with emails. (Or I will be once the internet signal comes back)
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
After all that Kellie and Leann (both OWOA ladies) came over, and Leann brought three of her four children with her. We had a great, fairly crazy time chatting and eating lunch together. Then of course we had to have a photo session to put the evidence on our blogs (I'll upload my photos at some point soome hopefully. I just need blest to remind me how to do it on this computer, and also possibly a bit more brainpower to be able to follow those instructions!)
[Edited to add: You can see the picture here]
Kellie had to go, but the three of us left decided to play scrabble. Now, for anyone that doesn't alread know, scrabble is one of blest's things. She brought out not just any old scrabble borad, oh no, we were going to play Super Scrabble. Super Scrabble has twice the number of tiles and the board is a lot bigger and has extra scoring opportunities (you can get quadruple letter scores and words scores) and is really fun. I took a picture of our finished game so you can get an idea of the size of the board, but again, I've got to upload that later.
Leann and her kids left around half four, and blest's oldest son took her place. It was a good game. I started off with a 7 letter word on my first go, and had several good turns after that, but by the end the inspiration was beginning to flag, and blest managed to catch up and overtake me to win the game.
This evening we might have gone out to a concert, but both blest and I are feeling pretty wacked out, so instead we've stayed in. My eyes are struggling to stay open, so I don't think it'll be a late night tonight, but I guess that makes sense with working out this morning and all the talking and stuff this afternoon. I have no idea what we'll be doing tomorrow, but I'm sure it'll be fun. I'll keep taking pictures and try to get some up soon.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Going to Walmart was the whole four kids deal, and certainly an experience. Today Danny watched the kids and Blest and I got to escape for the afternoon. I got to see the two places Blest has her jewelery for sale, and we got to do some shopping for ourselves.
Goodwill was also really big. The layout really reminded me of TK Max at home, with huge long rails which were divided up into different types of clothes. We headed for the jeans row and started rummaging. They weren't arranged by size, so you do just have to look at everything, and also we weren't sure what my American size would be (come to think of it, at the moment I don't really know what my UK size is right now). We found about 4 pairs for me to try, and some stuff for Blest too. There was one pair I tried which were the right size round, but just didn't really do it lengthwise since they stopped right on the knee. They gave us a good laugh though. I found a pair of jeans that fitted around my middle, and were also a brilliant length for me. Then we went back out and had a look at books (well you can't leave a charity shop without looking at the books, right?) and then had a quick look at the skirts and found a one, which I tried on and it fitted beautifully. Blest told me we had to get it, and you can't argue with that.
Lane Bryant was really fun. We went round the whole store picking up a whole load of stuff (and in particular anything that was purple, and then once we had a huge pile I took it all to the changing room. I gave Blest my camera and we had a little fashion show...
This is the pyjama top (I liked it, but it just reminded me a little bit too much of pyjamas! In fact looking at the photo I think I like it better here than I did when I was wearing it!)
This is the lampshade top. I don't know if you can see it in the photo, but it had these tassells on the sleeves that just reminded me of the sort you find hanging from lampshades! This is the dress Blest picked out, forgetting that I'm a little bit taller than her. First time I put it on was without the trousers (don't make me call them pants!), but then I put the trousers on so that we could take a photo.
This was our favourite, and in fact the things we actually bought. I fell in love with the trousers the moment I put them on, and I love the top too.
We also found another top and got that too, but we didn't take any pictures of that one.
While all this was going on there were a couple of Spanish ladies sitting out with Blest (I think they were waiting for someone in one of the other changing rooms, although I never actually saw that person!) They were really funny and kept making remarks in Spanish, which unfortunately we had no hope of understanding, but they seemed pretty excited by the outfit we bought, so we took that as a good sign :-)
This evening Blest has made me a necklace to go with the top, and I'm gonna wear it tomorrow. hopefully we'll take some pictures of me and Blest together and will probably post them on one weigh or another at some point in the near future.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
When I got to the right terminal I realised that the first thing I had to do was go through security, and that since I hadn't even started on my second bottle of water I had to drink it while waiting in line or put it in the bin. So even though it was big, I drank it all standing in the queue (and over the next few hours, while waiting at Chicago, I got to use several of their toilet facilities, but that's another story. I so wanted to write 'restrooms' there, but I had to resist! My accent is so screwed up already, what's it gonna be like after three months here?!)
(Oh yeah, the three months thing, can't remember if I ever mentioned that. For anyone that doesn't know, it was too difficult to get an au pair visa given our circumstances, so instead I'm here for 85 days for an extended holiday)
They didn't really have any people telling you what to do, but I just did what the people in front of me did. Here they did everything at once (whereas at Heathrow it was bags and coats first and then shoes were separate), and I actually had to go back and take off my zippy top as well as my fleece to send them through the x-ray machine before I walked through the metal detector.
I was meant to have about a three hour wait at Chicago, but my flight was delayed for another hour. I walked up and down the whole terminal a few times, but then I just sat down against the wall and read my book because I was just too tired to do much else. We finally got on the plane about an hour after we were meant to have taken off, but then just sat there for a long long long time before we finally got to take off. The second plane was a lot smaller, with only two seats on either side of the main gangway. And there was no fancy safety video, but we actually got to see the air hostess and steward doing their thing with the pointing and the oxygen masks and everything.
The flight was kinda long and I was getting drowsy by this point. I dozed a little bit, but was mostly just in a kind of daze. It was great to see the lights of El Paso as we came in to land. You could see big patches of light, but then also huge areas in between that were dark and I wondered what they were. (When we went out in the light yesterday I could see that they were pretty much just large empty desert like areas). I got off the plane and walked down some corridors and stairs and was just starting to head for the baggage collection point when I heard some one calling my name. I looked across and there was Blest. It was great to see her in the flesh for the first time. I have to admit that even though I know she's short, I actually thought that she'd be taller than she was!
We walked together to the baggage claim carousel and eventually one of my bags came through. But then the bags stopped coming and my second bag hadn't come. If that had happened at Chicago I would have totally panicked, but I think by this point I had Blest with me to reassure me that it wasn't an unusual occurrence, and besides I was too tired to really be able to panic. I just had to go into a little office and leave them an address and phone number that they could contact me on. I'd seen it at Chicago, so I knew at least that it was in the country, and I was better off than the guy in front of me because they'd lost two of his bags, and all he had was his baby seat (he didn't even have a baby, but we were pretty sure that they airport people hadn't lost the baby!)
Finally we got to leave the airport and got in the truck. It's actually Danny's truck, and it's kinda funny to see such a little lady like Blest driving such a big vehicle (she totally makes up in personality anything that she lacks in height!) She drove us home, and although it was strange to be on the 'wrong' side of the road I think I was too tired to notice properly. We got home and I got to meet Danny, who was just like Blest had described, and we stayed up talking for quite a while before we finally headed for bed.
In Chicago I'd taken my medicine, but since that was several hours before my Mum and I had decided I would probably need to fit in another dose for the day, so I took some more before I went to bed. Unfortunately I think it was probably a bit too much medicine for my body, and combined with the adrenalin I'd been running off all day my heart was really pounding and I don't think I got to sleep until about 1.30am (by which point I'd been awake for around 27 and a half hours, since I don't count the dozing on the plane). And then my body shouting at me that it was 2pm in the afternoon, combined with the garbage truck outside my window meant that I woke up at 6am the next morning.
And that is where we leave this post, since it was only meant to be about my first day, and besides Blest's already started eating her lunch and I wanna get mine! More about meeting the boys soon. (I got to peep at them fast asleep that first night, but didn't properly meet them until the next morning).
Wednesday was the day that it all suddenly felt real. All of a sudden I was leaving tomorrow and I hadn't packed much and it seemed like there were a million things to do. In the morning it all came to a head when I realised that we had Bekki's walking boots and mine were in Cambridge. Luckily my Mum was able to home for a couple of hours before work in the afternoon. She calmed me down, and a visit from Little One, Little Flower and their Mum also helped to make me feel better. Actually, in the end, a two hour drive to and from Cambridge was probably a good thing because it meant I couldn't be at home by myself panicking, and I got to see Bekki one last time.
Wednesday evening went in a bit of a blur. We got my bags packed and then had the chance to play the 'take things out again until the bag is under the weight limit' game. I got to play that again in the morning having thought of a couple more things that really did need to go in.
Thursday morning we'd set the alarm for 5am. Actually, I set it for 5.05am because that didn't sound quite so bad. We got up and got the last few bits and pieces sorted out and finally left the house around 7am. It was quite slow on the motorway, but we made it the Heathrow with plenty of time. I spent ages at check in because we were trying to find out if they would be able to put my luggage in the heated section of the hold (because apparently asthma meds can freeze at altitude which can affect their effectiveness). In the end I don't think they were going to put them there, but to be honest I don't really remember, it's all a bit hazy. But while I was waiting I got to finish filling in my green card and the lady on check-in checked it and told me I'd done it right.
I went upstairs and said goodbye to Mummy and Daddy for the last time, and then headed into the security checks. I have to say that I think the system was better explained at Heathrow but they were more thorough at Chicago. Once I was through those (bag, body and shoes got checked) I was into the shops bit of the terminal. I went in WHSmith and got a couple of bottles of water and then had a wander. I had ages to wait and they hadn't even posted a gate number so I pretty much had to either wander or sit somewhere and I was too hyper to sit down! I found a place that had watches and bought myself one (I've been meaning to all week, but time had disappeared. I use my mobile phone when I'm home, but I was leaving that with my Dad for him to use while I'm gone. So, if you try to ring or text me you'll get him)
They put the gate number up so I decided to head down there even though there was loads of time left. I ended up sitting there a while, but that was ok, it was fun to people watch! We boarded the plane and I found me seat. I was on the end of the row of seats in the midde (There were 2, 5, 2 and I was on the right hand end of the 5). I said hi to my neighbour and told her it was my first ever flight which really surprised her :-)
On the ascent I was aware of my ears popping a lot, but I kept swallowing and sucking on some mints and yawning (all flying tips given to me by various people) all of which seemed to help. We got to have a choice of various things to watch so I got to see Hairspray, and also caught an episode of New Tricks (It was the one about the ice cream sellers). About 5 hours into the flight I'd pretty much had enough, but we still had another 3 hours to go.
Hmm, other things I noticed on the flight - the noise the toilet makes when it flushes is kind of scary, I could not have slept even if I'd wanted to because I had too much adrenalin rushing around my body, and the whole ears popping thing goes on for a very long time. I'd alway assumed, for some bizare reason, that it was literally the moment of take-off that you had to make sure you were sucking\swallowing\yawning, but actually that goes on for a lot longer. I guess it makes sense because you go up really high (35,000 feet), but it did surprise me at the time. I also noticed when we started to descend, even though the captain hadn't come on to say we were, again because of the air popping. Also, it was amazing to look out as we descended and see the clouds like a fluffy layer of cotton wool. (I'd write that more poetically, but I'm tired people!)
I was a bit nervous at Chicago because I knew I had to go through immigration, customs collect my luggage and re-check it and myself. It was immigration first and they take an electronic fingerprint of both index fingers. The guy kept telling my to press harder and it began to hurt because I was pressing so much, but I guess it must have worked in the end because he let me through. Next I had to collect my bags and boy was I glad that I didn't have black bags because there were so many of them. One other person did appear to have the same bags as me, but as they had a lot more labels on their bags it was easy enough to look at them and see they weren't mine. Both my bags came out eventually, and I just about managed to get them off the carosel without bopping anyone on the head. Customs was ok, all I had to do was hand over the form I'd completed on the plane, the tricky part was wheeling two suitcases and holding a form in my hand at the same time.
I went through door for people transfering to another flight and got to hand over my bags again and then walked out and panicked. I had no idea where I was meant to be going next or how I was supposed to get there. I followed the crowd and a helpful airline guy looked at my ticket and told me to get on the train that was waiting and get off at terminal 3. One thing I noticed was that the trains run of the opposite sides of the tracks, although I guess that makes sense with the whole drive on the other side thing too.
Ok, this post has to end here because it's almost dinner time and my brain is going a little fuzzy. More about the rest of the journey and meeting Blest and her family either later on or tomorrow.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
However, that sculpture pales into insignificance compared to the tower I made this week with all thisI've included the front and side views so you can understand the sheer size of this creation(!)
Monday, November 12, 2007
I went to a small group social on Tuesday last week where we had fireworks. This was a low down fountain type firework. I like the way you can see the silhouettes of people in front.This was a firework up in the sky, but to be honest it's not that exciting!This is my favourite, it was taken on Wednesday, at another church small group social. We didn't have fireworks, but some of us did have sparklers (and I got to go in the hot tub, but that's another story!) I managed to take this one holding my phone in one hand and spinning the sparkler around in a circle with the other. I like it :-)
Sunday, November 11, 2007
2. I'm allergic to a lot of things. These include feathers, dust, grass, pollen and pet hair. (Actually that should just be animal hair because I'm also allergic to reindeer and goats and things like that which you wouldn't keep as pets as a general rule, unless you were Father Christmas or something). Mostly they just make me sneeze, and actually some of my allergies have got better over the last couple of years, however I like to make sure I've always got a box of tissues around just in case!
3. I take more medicine in one day than lots of people take in a year (but which I meant number of different types of medication, rather than volume of medicine that I inhale\swallow!) I have four inhalers and three different types of pills. That's before you add in anything like vitamins. It's fun being me :-)
4. I am a quarter of a century old. I can't quite work out how that happened, I mean I know times passes and all that, but still, it went pretty quickly!
5. At the moment I seem to be addicted to using exclamation marks and smiley faces. I am trying to wean myself off them, but it's hard. I blame texting.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
2. I cannot get to sleep if there is a ticking clock in the room. For some people it's a comfort, but for me it's sheer torture, I lie there waiting for the next tick to come.
3. I don't eat fish. I don't know if it's an actual food allergy or just psychological, but I just can't eat it. There's a particular stir-fry my parents like which has fish sauce in it, and I even hate the smell of it, as a consequence they usually only eat it when I'm out! HP loves tuna, and one of the family traditions used to be that my Dad would cook on a Saturday night and he'd made tuna risotto, but I never ate that either. I have a vague feeling that my dislike maybe connected to a time that I was ill already and my Mum cooked fish, and I now associate the two, but who knows. My Mum says I've never really liked eating fish, even from when I was little.
4. My favourite colour is purple. Actually, I'm sure you all must know that by now, but in case you don't! I'm very proud of how little time it seems to take the children I look after (babysitting, child-minding, in school, at church etc) to work that one out. Although the purple car\fleece\trousers etc may help. The last time I looked after The Little One I taught him all about the colour purple, and now instead of just spotting "Debbie's car" every time he sees a similar modal\size to mine, he can say "Debbie's purple car" :-)
5. I don't like butter or margarine in my sandwiches, or mayonnaise for that matter. In fact, I've given up ever eating a shop-bought sandwich because it's nigh on impossible to find a sandwich without mayonnaise, and if it doesn't have mayo then it has salsa or yoghurt or something else equally yucky in.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
We've also always lived in the same house. I've had the same bedroom all my life, at various points I've shared it with either Bekki or HP, but I don't think I've ever had the boxroom as my bedroom. Sure, I've slept in it, think I've slept in most of the rooms in the house, but that's not the point. Actually I've forgotten what the point was, lets start a new paragraph and see what happens.
Walthamstow is famous for a number of reasons (or should that be infamous?). Apparently the market is the longest street market in Europe. I love wandering down the market, feeling the atmosphere and being surrounded by people from many different countries and cities across the world.
Walthamstow has the post code E17 (the E stands for east) and as such is the origins of the band East 17. I'm not sure people know who they are if you talk about them now, but they were famous enough when I was growing up that people in my class at school would be excited if they'd seen them out and about (I might have got excited had I had a clue of what they looked like and therefore able to identify if I had seen them).
When we went on holiday to a tiny little town\village\hamlet (can't remember what it called itself) people knew exactly where we were from because we could tell them 'yes, we live just round the corner from one of the terrorist's houses that was raided at the weekend' - those were there raids that are now known as the failed London bombings and would have come a year after the London bombings on the tube. I'm not saying I'm proud of living round the corner from a potential terrorist, I'm just saying that although that's what Walthamstow can be like, it's also the place that is home for me.
I guess as I'm looking to move to another country, another city, another world, I'm looking around me and realising again just what makes London home for me. My parents moved to London when they were married as that's where my Dad was working at the time. I don't think they ever envisioned staying in London this long, yet here we are still, and they've raised three Londoners! I think Bekki is happy to live other places (at the moment she's in Cambridge) and I have been for certain periods of time, but somehow I've always wanted to come home. Growing up in London creates certain expectations of things like public transport -I know when I was living in a little village (GC) and my car died, I actually felt trapped, not able to escape easily if I had wanted to.
It'll be interesting to see what going to the States does to my sense of being a Londoner and belonging here. Watch this space...
(Now that I've clicked publish I realise there are so many things about Walthamstow that I haven't talked about. maybe I'll write some more about it in another post. In the meantime what do you feel about where you live? Is it just for a season, or is it home? How does somewhere begin to feel like home? Let me know what you think, pretty please :-) )