Monday, January 28, 2008


"Benny, I'm not going to eat your cheerios, I'm just going to calculate them."

Not ill, just coughing

Cough cough, sniffle sniffle, sit around in pyjamas. That's where my body's at right now, so I'm sat with the littles watching 'Bear in the blig blue house' (so called by Joshua) while blest takes the bigs to piano lessons.

I do endeavour to get dressed soon, but I figured if I let my body chill for the morning it might manage to find some energy to do fun things this afternoon!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Houston and Waco

Well, I did have lots to say about last weekend, unfortunately there was lots of other stuff going on this week which got in the way of writing it, and now I'm struggling to remember all the stuff I wanted to say. So, here's a brief summery of the rest of the weekend...

Firstly, if you want to see more pictures you can check out an album I made on facebook which is right here.

On Friday morning I got to have a bit of a lie-in (Boo and her Mum had to go to work, and her Dad would be taking me to join them for the afternoon). I watched some TV, read a book, and felt a bit homesick for El Paso and blest and her family! For lunch Boo's dad took me to a Mexican restaurant and I have fajitas which were yummy, and then we went on to her school. The weather was really yucky - raining so much that you couldn't really see out of the car at some points, but I decided that it would just be wasting time to worry about Boo's Dad's driving, so I just sat back and enjoyed the ride!

Oh, Boo is a kindergarten teacher, so I got to spend the afternoon with her and her class. Actually, we took her class in to see her Mom's class (who are second graders I believe) and they got to have a question and answer session with me. My favourite questions was 'what language do you speak in England?', closely followed by 'what clothes do you wear?' and 'do you eat food?' They also sang their National Anthem to me, and I sang the British National Anthem to them.

After school we headed back to Boo's house to pick up our stuff and got some dinner at Chick-fil-A and then started on our way to Waco. Unfortunately the rain meant that we were running pretty late so we didn't manage to make it in time for the first session of World Mandate, but we had fun on the journey, and then when we arrived I got to meet Bird and Brandi for the first time, which was pretty cool :-) Some highlights of the evening included Bird showing off his magic tricks; ringing blest to say I was there safely, which meant the three B's got to talk to her on the phone for the first time, and attempting to explain the differences between the UK and Great Britain.
Saturday morning we went to the World Mandate session, which was really powerful, and then to lunch at 'Chilli's too'. After picking up a steamer for me and coffee for Boo we headed back for another WM session, and then went back to Bird and Brandi's. On the way home we took this picture, which we found highly amusing, especially since moments after I took it a guy came out and started trying to talk to us. (Notice the sub-title!)
I got to meet Bird and Brandi's lovely childen for the first time (they'd been staying with their Grandma overnight, which meant there was room for Boo and I to stay!) and they seemed pretty fascinated by the fact that I am from England. Bird and Brandi decided that they really ought to take me out and about to show me more of Waco, so we all piled into the van (To see more about that follow the link to my facebook pictures!)
The Saturday evening session was great, although went on a bit late for my poor tired brain! Sunday morning Bird, Brandi and the kids got to come too as the all the people from that church were meeting with all the WM people. We ate fajitas for lunch, which were delicious (Brandi, you must tell me what you put in the marinade so I can try cooking it. In exchange I will make blest put up the curry recipe I told you about!).
Driving home Boo took me through campus so I got to see some of Baylor and then we got on the road properly. On the way on Friday we'd passed by a Dairy Queen, and I'd mentioned to Boo that I'd heard of those, and that they seemed to be one of those things you find in small-town America. We'd decided that we really needed to stop at one on the way home to take pictures, and somehow we decided that we would get Blizzards. These are kind of like McFlurrys (ice-cream with some sort of sweets/chocolate/cookies mixed in. I had one with oreo, and Boo had mint oreo. Then we went outside and posed for some pictures (see facebook). Now, I feel obligated to tell you that the blizzard did give me a headache and later on a bit of a bellyache, so I won't be eating one again anytime soon, but I did enjoy it :-)
Back in Houston we stopped briefly at Boo's house and picked up a ribbon to tie on my suitcase (to make it more identifiable for the way home) and then drove to the airport. I asked a man who was sat waiting there to take a picture of Boo and me, and then we had to say goodbye and I headed through security and Boo headed home.
The way they phrased the 'last boarding calls' made me laugh as I sat waiting at the gate (Our pilots were coming in on another flight which was delayed, so we ended up waiting for a while). They would say thing like 'This is the last boarding call for flight 340 to Dallas. Paul Smith, we love you, but we will leave you behind if you do not board immediately'.
When I got back to El Paso Danny came to pick me up at the airport, and took me back home. It was great to see blest again, and we stayed up far too long catching up on the weekend. The next day the boys were so excited to see me, and at one point I thought I was going to be smothered with love as Andrew, Benny and Joshua all tried to climb on top of me to hug me!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Stretchy Men Save The Day

Well I'm looking after the boys this morning (blest is getting a haircut and Danny is helping to put down the new AWANA square) so I decided it was time to break out the stretchy men that my Mum sent at Christmas. So far they seem to be a sucess!

Friday, January 25, 2008

I have nothing to say

so I won't.
This is Me, Boo, Brandi and Bird to prove I really did meet them! I will try to write more about last weekend at some point, I promise.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Love and Hate Meme

I was tagged by Mrs Wibbs a week ago, so I figured it really was time to get around to doing it..

I love to eat: Chocolate, blest's pumpkin muffins, curry, lots of other yummy stuff...
I hate to eat: Fish. It doesn't agree with my stomach, so we have an agreement not to eat it.

I love to go: To El Paso to see blest; to Houston & Waco to see Boo, Brandi and Bird; home to London; to Jubilee Church...
I hate to go: Home. Yes I know that's a contradiction, but I just don't want to leave blest and her boys (I include Danny as one of the boys!). Anyway, that's all I'm going to say about that.

I love it when: I get a hug from one of my friends or family.
I hate it when: I have to do things like ring up my insurance company (actually, those sorts of things are generally ok when you do them, I think it's more the anticipation that I don't like).

I love to see: The sky from an aeroplane - particularly when you're just above the clouds and the sun reflects on them. I may have only flown 4 times now, but I have a feeling I may be addicted now!
I hate to see: People suffering, especially children.

I love to hear: Joshua's giggle (Joshua is blest's youngest son)
I hate to hear: The sound of my alarm clock. It goes... well actually I can't figure out how to represent the sound it makes with letters, but it's really not a good noise.

I tag: HP and Barney. (After all, I did tell you on the phone today that you really need to blog more!)
Also, a big Happy Birthday to HP. However did you get to be 21, I mean, you're my little sister. What's that about?!

Thursday - Home and Away

Blest and the boys took me to the airport on Thursday afternoon. We arrived with enough time to spare to take the boys in to have a look around the airport and to stop at Starbucks for a drink and some cookies for the boys. (In case you're interested, my Starbucks drink of choice is currently a (take a deep breath) grande, non-fat steamer with sugar-free cinnamon dolce, and hold the whipped cream)

Joshua, especially, was disappointed that he didn't get to come up the stairs and further in to the airport (only people with boarding passes could continue to go through all the security checks). Blest managed to get them all to leave eventually, and I'm assuming she managed to make it home ok (she was in pain and had to go home to take some more of 'the good drugs'!) I headed upstairs and went through security scans and then found my gate. I had a while to wait, but just sat and read my book, after all I'd much rather have plenty of time than be rushing and concerned I might not make my flight.

As I said in my last post, I got to sit next to the window on the plane. I loved looking out, especially as we ascended out of El Paso. Once again I was reminded of the fact that I'm living in a desert - the land is so flat, and plain that it's really hard to gain a proper perspective of how high up you are. Like, you might see what is probably actually a big bush, but because it's hard to judge the distance you brain just sees it as a little clump or grass or something. At some points it was almost scary, because I'd think 'surely we shouldn't be flying this low', until you saw a building or a road with cars on, which put the distance back into perspective.

When I arrived in Houston I was more concerned about the fact I had checked my suitcase, which was one I'd borrowed from blest, than the fact that I had never met Boo before. (Let me clarify that, I wasn't so much concerned that I'd checked my suitcase in the 'I might not get it back' sort of way, as the 'it's a medium sized black case and I didn't spend enough time looking at it to notice any particular features that might stand out, so I will just have to look at all the medium black suitcases that come along') As it happened, Boo not only recognised me before I even saw her, but she also spotted my suitcase first (the tag the airport people put on it had my name on, which she noticed, and then I got to go chase after it on the carousel!)

We headed out to Boo's car (He's very nice and is called Earl), left the car park (there was an incident with the car-park ticket, but we don't need to talk about that!) and headed for a Mexican restaurant. We were very good there and stuck to our diet (we're both doing South Beach) which involved ignoring the tortilla chips and salsa on the table, and for me (since I don't know any Spanish) trusting that Boo was ordering what I wanted her to! After dinner we drove home to Boo's house and I got to meet her lovely Mum and Dad, and then we finally went to bed around midnight. (Well, Boo had to pack for the weekend, and we had to check stuff online and, of course, just chat and enjoy spending time together!)

* I can't remember what I said in previous posts, but in case of confusion I will explain that Boo's real name is Debbie. I've been calling her Boo in this post because it's shorter to type than Debbie, and also because it's confusing calling someone else Debbie! Boo is also a member of 'One Weigh or Another', and her blog can be found by following a link on the OWOA sidebar. I will be adding her to my sidebar too, but I can't promise I'll get around to doing that right away!

I am the dog's new security blanket

Everyone else is out at Awana\Choir rehearsal at church this evening, and I have plans to get some serious blogging done. Since everyone left the dog had followed me around constantly. Well, she spent the first couple of minutes checking all over the house to see if she could find anyone else to play with, and since realising I'm the only one left she has been at my side. When I went into the kitchen to make dinner she lay in front of the gate (we have a gate in the doorway to stop the boys getting in the kitchen) until I came out. Right now I am sitting at the table and she is lying at my feet under the table, and every now and then she'll look up at me to check I'm still there.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The view from the sky

I got to sit next to the window on the aeroplane both on the way to Houston and on my way back to El Paso. This was taken as we got near to Houston and it was mostly because I loved the way the clouds looked like icing on a cake. The sun was setting as we neared Houston. I tried to capture the way the sun was reflected on the clouds, and the wing of the plane. I'm not sure it shows that, but I still love this picture. The funny thing about it was that soon after I took this photo we continued our descent to below the clouds, and down there it was already dark. I guess somehow being higher up we got to see the sun for longer, but once we got lower, the sun 'disappeared' below the horizon. This photo was actually taken on the way home as we headed up and out of Houston. I was trying to capture the way that the street lighting reminded me of Rangoli patterns. (Those links don't really tell you what they are, but are more the sort of thing I was reminded of!)
It doesn't really come across in the photo actually, but I liked the picture anyway!)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Morning Conversation

'Well we're not being very productive today'

'Hey, I'm dressed, and it's not even 11 o'clock yet'

'I take it back, we're a hive of activity.'

Friday, January 18, 2008

Q and T time

I'm at school with Debbie, and we took her class to see her Mum's class, and together they all got the chance to ask me some questions about England. It was great fun. I told them about the difference between what I call football, and what they do, and about the crisps/chips/fries language differences.

My favourite question was when one little girl asked me what language we speak in England!

Ok, gotta go cos it's the end of school and once all the kids are gone we are going back to Debbie's house and then driving to Waco. More about that and pictures (hopefully) on Monday.

Safely Landed

I've arrived safely in Houston. Debbie is lovely. We've been out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Now we're back home, and I'm doing important things like checking blogs and my emails :-)
Tomorrow I'll get to visit Debbie's school and then in the evening we'll drive to Waco.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Three More Weeks

I can hardly believe that I only have three weeks more before I have to head back to London. I know it'll be great to see my family and friends again, but I've grown so much a part of this family that it will be so so hard to leave them. And with that said I don't want to talk about it anymore because it will make me too sad.

However (one more mention to make the post flow), I do have some great stuff planned for those three weeks. Tomorrow I am flying to Houston to meet Debbie. I will stay with her overnight, and then hopefully on Friday I will have the chance to go into school with her (she is a teacher) for a short while, to see what her school is like. Then Friday evening we will drive to Waco (I think it's a 3 hour drive, which is apparently a short one. One day I might get my head around the American sense of distance!) to go to this. It's a Missions Conference called 'World Mandate' and is run by Antioch Community Church. From what I've heard from Debbie and seen on the website it looks like it'll be a fantastic weekend. And, that's not even all... I'll be staying Friday and Saturday at Bird and Brandi's house. Bird is Debbie's brother and Brandi is his wife. All three are also members of One Weigh or Another (the weight loss blog I'm a part of) and that's really how I got to know them. I can't wait :-)

Blest and I have a road trip in the works, but I shan't blog about that until all the details are confirmed...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Phrases heard a lot around here.

I left you all hanging too long, and I apologise. This post is now updated with who says what, and where the phrase originates.

"I almost hate to bring this up" (I don't know where this one comes from, but a book or movie most likely. It's said by Andrew or Benjamin at the most randon of moments, and usually don't have any relevance to the conversation)

"If you don't mind my sayin' so, It wouldn't have hurt you To find out what the gentleman wanted. " (This is a favourite of Benjamins, and he'll launch into it at any time, any where. It's a line from 'Music Man')

"I've never worked this hard in all my life" (Another quote from a book or movie. Usually to be heard from Andrew, Benny or Joshua while they're clearing up at the end of the day)

"I sure hope" (Benjamin's response if you ask him if he would like a cheese slice\to go outside\to watch Barrage...)

"Oh snap" (Most likely to be heard from Daniel or Andrew, this is an 'oh shoot' type phrase, and would be ok if they didn't say it twenty times in a row!)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cheerios everywhere

I think I was quite restrained to only say 'oh shoot' when this happened earlier.

And I'll even admit to the world, that yes, it was my fault!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blest Update

I just got off the phone with blest… and she’s doing ok.

When they got inside they found that the mesh is still in place, and that there was no new hernia. It looks like what you can feel/see is actually peritoneal fat (which is a layer between the muscle wall and the skin). Anyway, you can ask her more about it once she’s back home, cos that’s about as far as my knowledge of it goes!

They are keeping her in overnight, but she’ll be home again tomorrow, and could be up and about again as soon as Monday, with a lot less pain than last time

A big thank you to HP and Elly

This afternoon when the boys had got to that "we're bored and won't want to do any of the run of the mill stuff that you might like to suggest" I remembered the aeroplanes that my Mum and HP had sent me for Christmas. That might sound strange, but they had sent them with the intention that I could give them to the boys at some point. I didn't give them on Christmas day because I figured they had plenty of stuff to play with then, but saved them for the right moment. And that was definitely today. We went from mutiny to excitement in one easy step. So once again, thank you my family :-) (And I still have the other things you sent, and they are waiting for another such moment!

Here they are enjoying their planes (before they escaped and went all over the house, and before we needed to employ tape to fix Andrew's plane!)

Good morning

Well blest and Danny headed off the hospital a few minutes ago (they have to be there by 7.30). Blest wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything this morning - I don’t think the lack of food was as much an issue as the lack of COFFEE!

I’ll let you know news as and when I know it, but in the meantime please pray for her - for peace while she waits, for the doctors, that the surgery is successful…. etc, and for me as I look after the boys (and hope that the lego castle continues to be as exciting to them as it was yesterday!)

11am: Danny just called to say they've taken her into surgery.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The castle is finally complete

We got the castle out this morning and built the final section. Now all four of the boys are enjoying playing with it, and we have peace and quiet. Long may it last (I hope...!)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

International Differences

I just about caused a riot eating baked beans and bacon for breakfast.....

Daniel and Andrew looked at my plate and said 'baked beans? Eeewww. You should be eating pancakes, waffles, oatmeal or biscuits', to which I replied that pancakes shouldn't be eaten for breakfast, but for dessert after dinner, and that biscuits were what they called cookies.

The conversation got a little confused at that point, until I reassured Andrew that I wasn't telling him that he was wrong, just trying to explain that there were differences in what people call food over here and back in England.

I also explained to Daniel how English people traditionally eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, which is the day before the period of Lent starts (the 40 days before Easter). I told him some of the things you can eat on pancakes, and how they can be savoury or sweet. When I said some people like cheese and ham on pancakes I about thought he would throw up!

Here are a few translations for you
American \ English
Cookies \Biscuits
Chips \ Crisps
Fries \ Chips
Oatmeal \ Porridge
Jelly \ Jam
Jello \ Jelly

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Weekend antics

This weekend I was meant to be staying with the lady I met at the Christmas cantata. Did I talk about that already? Basically, I got chatting to the lady sitting next to me as we were both there pretty early (blest was singing and the lady's husband was playing in the orchestra). She was a lovely German lady who had married an American and consequently moved out here a long time ago (I can't remember how long exactly, but her children are all grown up now, so it's a fair while!). We had a lovely time talking and afterwards she told me that she would like to invite me to stay with them for a weekend and go to their church with them. She briefly introduced me to her husband and we exchanged addresses and phone numbers.

I remember now that I must have talked about her a little bit because I posted the photo of the big bag of presents she gave me for Christmas.

We've talked on the phone a couple of times and they were going to be picking me up yesterday at 1pm and then we'd have been going to Las Cruces, which is actually in New Mexico, so I was excited about the chance to visit another state, even if it was only an hours drive away. Unfortunately she rang yesterday morning around 9am to say that she'd come down with a nasty cold, and it didn't seem a good idea for me to go to stay with them, especially since blest is having surgery next week, and we didn't really want either me or her coming down with anything with that coming up.

The German lady is off to California for a couple of weeks, but once she's back she'll get in touch and see if we can manage to fit anything in to my last couple of weeks here. Talking of time, I can't believe how quickly it's gone. In one months time I'll be on a plane heading home. Part of me can't wait to see my family and friends there, but I also know I'll be heartbroken to leave this new part of my family here behind. But I don't want to think about that at the moment!

So, anyway, there I was left with no plans for the day, and no chance to visit New Mexico, when blest suggested that I could come with her to Las Cruces. Yep, by strange coincidence she would be spending the day there with a friend of hers who had to clear stuff out of her mother's house (her mother passed away a little while before I got here).

At this point I also have to tell you that as we tried to leave drum lessons on Friday the van wouldn't start. This is at least the third time something like this has happened. The van is back at the garage, hopefully having whatever they thought was already fixed, re-fixed, and we're back to only having one vehicle in action.

The plan had been that I would watch the boys in the morning while Danny dropped blest off at the church, which was the rendezvous point with her friend. However, blest persuaded Danny that instead we would take the truck and that he would stay at home all day with the boys. (He'd have been at home with the boys anyway, but in the original plan he'd have had the truck to go out and about if he'd wanted to).

We set off and met blest's friend at the church, and after waiting for a while for someone else to arrive we set off for Las Cruces. I would have taken photos as we drove, but somehow forgot, but at some point I will put up some 'look, we're driving through desert' pictures! We arrived and spent several hours packing up obscene amounts of china and books in a former smoker's house. It wasn't the best place I've ever been, but that's all I have to say about that.

Once we were finished and had packed much of the china into the van (we left the truck at the church and all went together in the friend's van) we headed back to her house for a chance of clothes, and then went back to church. There is a Saturday evening service with the praise band leading the worship time. Blest's friend often sings for it, and blest was hoping that she'd be able to sing too, as her operation will put her out of action for several weeks.

However when we arrived the parking lot seemed remarkably empty, and that's when they realised that this week the youth are running all of the services, including the Saturday evening one, so neither blest or friend would be singing on the stage. At which point we decided to head to Starbucks for a coffee (I had a 'grande non-fat steamer with sugar-free cinnamon dolce' which is the alternative we've figured out, considering I don't like coffee or tea) and then went into Goodwill for a wander. We spent probably an hour or more in there (it's a lot bigger than the charity shops back home, and blest tried on lots of stuff!). And then we were hungry so we went to Chilli's for dinner. YUM!

Today I am staying home and the rest of the family have gone to church. Yes, I know that's the same thing as happened last Sunday, but there were a number of considerations and factors which were considered before that decision was made. So here I am, blogging, running the dishwasher and washing the clothes we wore yesterday, because what with the dust and smoke there was no way we'd be wearing them again before washing them. Not to mention trying to catch up on emails and blog reading, and having the chance to sleep in a bit longer.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Chaos reigns

Right now, as I type, Blest and all her boys and her friend Karen and two of her kids are playing with the nerf guns the boys got for Christmas. I had to duck into the kitchen to avoid being caught in the crossfire!

Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing.

Ok, so I haven't slipped off the face of the earth, just been otherwise engaged. For the last few evenings I've been playing scrabble with blest during the moments when it might have been possible to blog without an audience that demands 'please can I be wrapped around your arm?'.

We've had some good games, with several 'bingos' (where you get out all your letters and get 50 bonus points) and some pretty closely matched play. I haven't beaten her again yet, but it's been touch and go a few times!

There's been lots going on.
Some of this: (working out on the treadmill, lifting weights, and posing for photos for the challenge that's going on right now over at One Weigh or Another) Lots of Honey love, and a little bit of Honey being at the vet. (She wasn't pregnant, surprisingly, and it's now been made sure that she won't be!) And, with a lovely blurry picture. some of this:
The new dance praise dance mat, to which we have discovered you can add the veggie tales 'dance dance dance' mat, so that 2 people can dance at the same time. And then of course you can dance without the mat too (which is what I'm doing here, even if it doesn't look like it!)

If we get the kids to bed early enough this evening, or if I disappoint blest and don't play scrabble, then maybe, just maybe I might manage to blog a bit more this evening. But not promises.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

when does the year start anyway?

Well it's 10pm here and I'm about ready to hit the hay, so I won't be staying up to see the new year in. However, I did ring home just after 5pm here, which was just after midnight there, so in a way I've seen the new year in already. I guess it's just all relative, and my reality right now is that I need to go to bed.
So good night all, and a happy new year to you as and when it happens!