Friday, February 27, 2015


I've started and not finished this post probably half a dozen times. You could say I'm easily distracted. What, a squirrel?! Something shiny? Kid yelling for help two floors away? I have trouble focusing these days. And I spend half my time wandering around the house trying to find someone. The kids are getting waaaaay too good at hide-and-seek. So anyway, here's the short version of what's been going on with us:

We've been a home schoolin' family since November. And although it's not perfect, I'm really glad we made the decision and took the plunge. We did try out school here, but to sum up it really stressed everyone out and was something we weren't ready for.

I'm of the mind that kids should be kids and play as much as possible. I want them to be excited about learning new things and be free to explore things they are interested in. Sometimes that works great in a school setting, and sometimes it doesn't. For us and the stage of life we're in right now, I truly believe school at home is the best option.

And when I say "school," I'm kind of using the term loosely. I've done a lot of trial and error in the last few months, and I feel like we're slowly working the kinks out and getting into a groove. Choosing a curriculum seemed to be overkill, and trying to be too structured only created frustration.

I think I've finally found what works for us (although it's a work in progress, and I freely admit that I don't always know what I'm doing), and makes me feel really triumphant and happy. I have one word for you, my friends: Themes. We choose a theme every week to two weeks based on things I know they'll be interested in and get excited about. We check out lots of library books and then I search online for activities and crafts that have something to do with our theme. For quite a long time now, the girls (mostly Cbear, but Jellybean followed suit) have really been into science type of books, so some of the themes we've done are the human body, dinosaurs, bugs, mushrooms, space, etc., along with whatever holiday is coming up.

As for ABCs and 123s? Meh, we work on them some during our activities, but I'm not pushing it too hard at the moment. I think it will come in time, especially if they stay excited about learning new things. We're probably a bit behind what's considered normal for this age, but I'm kind of in love with the Scandinavian idea of "better late than early" and not doing much formal reading or math at this age in favor of play. Plus they make up for it with knowledge in other areas. My four-year-old might not be able to read, but she can tell you all about the solar system and explain how warning colors work in nature. Hey, as long as they're learning, I'm happy.

Some days we are busy with our theme all day long, and some days we skip "school" entirely, especially if it's nice outside or we have somewhere else to be. The girls have started a weekly gymnastics class and we usually get together with friends once or twice a week. We try to visit the library, parks, museums, and indoor play centres that are nearby but we're also definitely fans of staying home too and not being on the go constantly. I love having the freedom to really capitalize on their interests and hit it hard on some days and taking a break on other days to just play or snuggle or read books in bed. I can work around their personality quirks and figure out what makes them tick, and its awesome to witness them discovering something new.

Our mornings are a little lazy, and we don't rush around. This is really great for me because I am so not a morning person. Sometimes we make pancakes just because we can, then I drink a second cup of tea while we listen to music, diffuse some essential oils and have lego-building sessions at the kitchen table. Sometimes "school" is in the morning in our pajamas, and other times it's in the afternoon right before the "witching hour" before Clint comes home and we desperately need something to do. We dig in the mud and look for bugs, or go for walks around the neighborhood to gather cattails and pull all the fuzz out (I swear, it's therapeutic). We create, paint, squish play dough, and bury things in magic sand. There are huge messes and I try really hard not to freak out about it. I also love reading things like this. It makes me want to jump in the air and pump my fist while yelling "YES!"

Still, I wouldn't say that homeschool is the easy route. Some days are really, really trying. We get seriously stir-crazy. IT'S WINTER IN ENGLAND, PEOPLE. If there is a hint of brightness we throw on some layers and stumble outside like sun zombies. The girls bicker, I snap at them. They whine, I hide from them and stress eat chocolate. We are usually home so our house is a constant disaster no matter how much we try to keep it organized. We butt heads, and I'm pretty sure they push my buttons on purpose. There are no breaks from them (except for our mandatory afternoon quiet time, while they watch tv or a movie and I shut myself in my room for an hour to catch up on some of my favorite shows, read, drink tea or MAYBE fold some laundry. I refuse to feel guilty about this's absolutely necessary for my sanity). It can all get very overwhelming. Sometimes I'm plagued with doubt, or compare them to what other kids their age are doing. And then I try to take a deep breath and keep calm. Because at the end of the day, I'm thankful for this extra year to spend time with them. These years of having little ones are flying by, and I'm trying to savor as much as I can, even amidst the frustration.

We're really not sure what school will look like for us in the future. If for some reason our time is extended here, we've decided to stick with homeschool, but if we return to the US this summer as planned...well, we're not sure. Maybe regular school, maybe homeschool for a few more years. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, knowing that I'm doing the right thing for MY kids (I know this isn't the case for all kids, friends) at this moment in time is enough.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Traveling with Kids

Traveling with the kids has become easier in the past year, but it is still an epic adventure. From door-to-door it's nearly a 24 hour journey, with plenty of excitement, exhaustion and stress to go along with it. This is a glimpse of what it was like traveling with a three- and four-year-old from England to America.

Getting everyone packed and out the door on time is a wee bit stressful.

We try to act like completely normal people when we go through security. Cbear always sets off the alarm and has to get searched.

Our excitement sitting on the plane about to leave England.

Built in TVs for the kids to slip into a technology coma for 7.5 hours? Yes, please.

Sitting for a long period makes me want to do this.

How we all feel about 4 hours into it.

Landing on native soil again.

Airports are disgusting...okay girls, don't touch anything...I'm so glad you have excellent listening skills.

Trying to get from point A to B in an airport with tired kids...rolling luggage becomes insta-stroller (ours were awake, though).

Having to change a poopy diaper (Yes, I have a three-year-old still in diapers. I KNOW.) on a New Jersey airport bathroom floor (lined with toilet seat covers). If I could have changed it standing up I would have, y'all.

Seriously, a seven hour layover?

You kids have stickers and coloring books, what more do you want from us?

Thankfully we meet another family with a three-year-old boy and the kids become instant friends. We annoy the waiting area for a couple of hours together.

We no longer care if they are rolling and crawling around on the floor.

Hey kids, let's watch planes take off! Oh my goodness, they're totally going to get Ebola.

The result when utter exhaustion meets pent-up energy.

The kids are so tired they start to lose coordination.

Okay Kate, don't overreact to a kid spilling food all over the floor approximately 5 seconds after you hand it to them.

Aaaannnd they can't keep their eyes open any longer.

Clint and me, after the kids fell asleep with about 30 minutes left of the layover.

We board the plane, each with a sleeping kid attached to us...this
is a four-hour flight...why is the airplane so freaking small?!

Jellybean sleeps on top of me the entire time...this is the longest flight ever in the history of the world.

Finally landing at our destination.

Reuniting with family.

What grandparents think.

How my kids act being spoiled by family.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weird things that happen when UK Expats visit the US

We are in the middle of a visit to the US, and We are loving all the time with family and friends, plus it just feels like a huge sigh of relief to be in familiar territory. On one hand I would be totally fine to go ahead and move back; I feel like it would be easy to settle back into life here again. On the other, we've become used to certain things about life in the UK that we would miss, and of course the friends we've made.  There are a few things in particular that would have seemed normal a year ago, but after living as outsiders these past months they seem a bit odd. I've been jotting down the last couple of weeks every time something weird like this happens:

Your children open the door to go outside and are mystified by the additional screen door.

You keep looking for the light switch to the bathroom outside the door.

Single-story houses: you feel like you're going to be very out of shape from not climbing stairs all day long.

You find yourself annoyed by waiters interrupting your meal every 5 minutes trying to be helpful (In a pub you order at the bar, pay for your whole meal, take your drinks back to the table and someone brings your food to you, and then you don't hear from the pub staff the remainder of the time).

Free refills at restaurants, what?! You completely overindulge in iced tea.

But drinking hot tea all day long just isn't the same, and besides you miss the tea biscuits.

You get so excited about having a dryer that you do three loads of laundry in one day and end up shrinking a bunch of clothes.

Your kids become obsessed with fluffing things in the dryer to make them warm (blankets, towels, socks, anything!).

You climb into an American car, think, "oh good, this feels pretty natural!" And then panic when you get on the road trying to remember which lane to drive in.

Then you drive in the middle of the road just because you can (no traffic on the country roads, score!).

You rediscover cruise control, high-beams, and potholes.

All these stop lights, couldn't we just put a roundabout here so I don't have to wait?

Parking lots!!! You feel spoiled because you don't have to park half on the street and half on the sidewalk. 

Also, drive-through everything. And pay-at-the pump fuel stations!

Electrical outlets in the bathroom, what luxury! You mean I can take a shower, brush my teeth and dry/curl my hair all in one room?

Your kids are disappointed that squash (a drink) doesn't exist here.

In England it's useless to do your hair because of the wet. In Oklahoma it's pointless because THE WIND. 

After leaving the UK, you find the airplane food delicious, but then you realize it's just because they actually used salt. Then you feel a moment of dread for how bloated you're going to be the whole trip from too much sodium.

You are loving all the American cuisine, but also are thinking, "I could go for a steak and ale pie and cider right now."

What is that bright and shining orb in the sky?! Sun, we have missed you! 

Your daughter keeps giving you coins she finds around the house "for parking" and is confused that you don't need them.

She also keeps asking why you have to drive everywhere instead of walking.

You rediscover what it's like to deal with a 40 degree temperature change in less than 24 hours.

Also, midwest winter=static electricity and dry skin.

You feel a nice sense of camaraderie to not be the only over-emotional person around. Brits do NOT make a scene. 

You miss hearing all sorts of accents when out and about. But then again it's so nice to hear that country twang again!

It feels odd to not sort your trash/recycling/compost, but to instead throw everything in one bin (also, you use the word "bin" by default instead of "trash can") and you feel super wasteful.

Trade-off: pretty green grass year round but gray skies versus brown grass but a huge blue sky.

Sunsets in every color of the rainbow...not blocked out by houses or gray clouds. 

You miss beautiful English countryside and driving by castles and charming half-timbered houses (OK isn't exactly known for its architecture).

People who hug!

You feel right at home again in the US, but miss your UK home at the same time and feel like your heart will always be in two places.

Monday, June 16, 2014

An American mom's guide to British kid-speak

Sometimes over here I feel like I'm learning English as a second second language. Although generally it's the same, lots of words and phrases have different meanings, so it's not as simple as it might seem to communicate. After my sis-in-law sent me this article about a new British mom in the U.S. learning all the different American baby phrases, it inspired me to write a similar post. We're past the baby stage, but there's a whole new crop of toddler- and kid-words that are different here than back home. It's not that big of a deal yet, but both the girls are starting school in the fall (another post for another day, but we have found CBear a school that agreed to let her go two days a week and home school three days a week--yay! Jellybean will be going to a pre-school at our church two mornings a week). I'm starting to use some of the words interchangeably so they'll be able to communicate with and understand their teachers, which makes for some interesting and confusing vocabulary in our house! Here's a handy-dandy reference for translating British kid-isms:

What the Brits say: American translation

pants= underwear
trousers= pants
wellies= rubber boots
vest= undershirt/tank
trainers= tennis shoes/sneakers
jumper= sweater

Baby/kid gear
pushchair= stroller
nappy= diaper
pram= baby carriage
dummy= pacifier
cot= crib
muslin squares/muslins= burp cloth, thin, flat cloth diaper

nursery/pre-school= day care/pre-school (pre-school starts at age 2 or 3)
Reception= Pre-Kindergarten (Reception starts at age 4 and is normally full-time school)
Year 1= Kindergarten
primary school= elementary school
head teacher= principal
rubber= pencil eraser
sticking= gluing (as in crafts: "do you want to do a bit of sticking?")

Food (there are lots more, but these are common for kids)
biscuit= cookie
chips= french fries
crisps= chips
mash= mashed potatoes
candy floss= cotton candy
ice lolly= popsicle
fairy cake= cupcake
bangers= sausages
pudding= dessert
toad in the hole- sausages baked in batter
veg= vegetables
squash= a super concentrated fruit juice drink

Around town
paddling pool= kiddie/splash pool
trolley= shopping cart
car park= parking lot
fun fair/fun park= kiddie park/carnival
till= check out/cash register
queue= waiting in line
surgery= doctor's office

Misc. Phrases and words
mum/mummy= mom, mommy, mama
use the toilet/go to the loo/do a wee= go to the bathroom, go pee
bunches= pigtails (as in the hairstyle, not swine)
mad= crazy (as in, "you're driving me mad!")
cheeky= sassy
daft= silly
ladybird= ladybug
plaster= band-aid
telly= television
loads= lots
sick= to vomit
ill/unwell= sick/feeling bad
straight away= right away/immediately
poppet= darling, hon, sweetie (term of endearment, to child usually)
pong= bad smell (learned this from Cbear's library book about a hippo with bad gas!)
lorry= big truck (useful when playing with boys!)
garden= back yard

I'm sure there are "loads" more--friends in the U.K., what did I miss?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Two Fears

Being an expat is weird. There's nothing that can really prepare you for it, and once you've taken the plunge, it's not what you expected.  Before we moved, we had to talk with a company psychologist to make sure we were, I don't know, mentally stable enough to move, and she showed us this chart about how your emotions go up and down for the duration of an international assignment.  Most of our chat with her was spent trying to contain my eye-rolls, but it turns out that her chart is pretty spot-on. In the grand scheme of things, I feel like I'm handling life in England pretty well.  But then I have these weird emotional pendulum swings, where I go back and forth between my two greatest fears since becoming an expat.

Fear number one, obviously, is that I might die of homesickness. There are so many things that I miss about home, plus living here has it's own set of challenges that make life difficult.

But then we have fear number two: I'm afraid that, once this assignment is all over and we've moved back to the U.S., I will leave part of my heart in England.  Then I might never get it back and never feel "at home" again.  I might never even get to come back and visit this country that I'm beginning to love, and that is a sad thought indeed.

So, back to fear number one: what do I miss the most, and what are the challenges? That is a long list.

PEOPLE. My family and friends, obviously. Most of our family lived within an hour radius of us, and there was always lots of visiting to be done. I miss my sister dropping by on her lunch break and brightening up my sometimes monotonous stay-at-home-mom day. I totally took for granted free babysitting anytime we wanted from family (date nights are few and far between now!)

I miss my fellow stay-at-home mom friends and our impromptu play dates while we talked and our kids went crazy and we didn't judge one another's unclean floors. I long for the breaks that MOPS and Mom's day out gave me.

I miss the open friendliness of strangers. To be fair, I have met friendly people here too, but there is an openness to midwest/southern Americans that is distinctly different than anywhere else on earth.

FOOD.  I could do a whole post on this.  Now, there is a lot of good food here. The produce is amazing and we've had some great home-cooked meals with new friends. And I love pubs. But the food is a little...bland. What I wouldn't do for some good Mexican food or Dink's BBQ or a green chili burger...or any burger for that matter! One hot off my dad's grill or a nice juicy steak from Clint's parents. We hardly eat any red meat here because it tastes so vastly different. I miss my freezer full of a side of beef.

CHURCH. This is a big one that I wasn't really expecting to be a problem. Though my places of worship have varied through the years, meeting with other Christians has always been a big part of my life. But since we've moved here, we haven't really been settled anywhere, just floating around and visiting different places. At first I kind of had a bad attitude about it, because church here is different than what I've been used to. The British, as a culture, are a bit more reserved and sort of non-emotional (I hope that doesn't sound offensive, but generally that seems to me how they present themselves), and that style comes through during church services. Kids are also always with the adults during the worship part of the service and then go to classes during the sermon...and if you know my kids, it was difficult for anybody to focus on a "worshipful" attitude! Added to the challenge is Cbear's extreme shyness and her not ever wanting to go to church or with her age group. But now Clint and I have had extensive talks about our attitudes and expectations, and have settled on a place for our church "home"...the church that was actually the friendliest place we've been in all of England, so I'm pretty excited about that.  I feel like I've learned a lot visiting different churches, and I have to say it is wonderful and humbling to know that Christians around the world are meeting together, learning and worshiping one God, regardless of our personal preferences and styles.

WIDE OPEN SPACES. The cities and towns here are all very crowded.  I mean, this is a small island and so everything is built vertically so as to not take up so much space.  And although there are places to visit outside of town where one can really breathe, it's different than the sprawling countryside I've known all my life. I miss the huge Oklahoma and Kansas skies, beautiful sunsets and endless blue. I could really go for a nice long nature walk through my dad's woods right now, climb a tree and read a book or just watch the animals creep by like I used to do when I was a kid.

FRUGALITY. I'm cheap, things are expensive here. I get a thrill out of getting a good deal (almost never clothes shopped without a coupon code back home!) and I'd rather not fork over my left kidney to buy groceries, but hey, you win some and you lose some.

DAY TO DAY "STUFF". Figuring out grocery shopping, getting gas, and running errands all came with their own set of complications. I'm just now getting to where I have my favorite grocery store, and I don't have to walk through the store at a snail's pace scanning the aisles to find what I want. Oh, and grocery carts ("trolleys") have these weird swivelly non-locking wheels that make me look like I'm trying to ice skate and steer at the same time.  If I don't wear shoes with good grippy soles, I'm a danger to myself and others.

We Americans are so spoiled, and I never even realized it until moving here. And moving to England is almost as American as you can get, as far as expat assignments go (except for maybe Canada). But for example, a couple of weeks ago I found a pay-at-the-pump gas ("petrol") station FOR THE FIRST TIME since we moved. No more late night runs to get diesel (both our cars run on that) so that I don't have to take the girls inside to pay!

Parking is a nightmare, and you almost always have to pay for it. I purposely chose a smaller car because parallel parking is not my strong suit.

Toilets have very little water in the bowl, which isn't really that big of a deal, aside from the perpetual poo stain above the water line. Bleh, I hate scrubbing toilets.

One more thing: you know how when you buy a food product, and it comes in a plastic bag that you tear the top off of and then you can reseal it? Well, here, instead of having a tiny perforation to start the tear, there is nothing and you have to find some scissors to cut it off. Yes, I realize how utterly ridiculous I sound. But that perfectly illustrates how there is one tiny extra step with every day-to-day task that make life here just a little more difficult. I mean, someone is always stealing my scissors and not putting them back.

MAKING FRIENDS. There are loads of opportunities to meet people here. Making friends, however, is difficult. Not only is it hard for me, an introvert, to "put myself out there", but it's also hard to crack that British exterior and truly get to know someone. I know that friends are important to our well-being on this assignment, especially with the absence of family. But part of me subconsciously holds back, because I know I will have to leave these people in a year and I hate goodbyes. I'm glad to say that I do have a few friends, though, and that they make life here much more pleasant. Here's to continuing to push myself to get to know my new friends and neighbors!

Wow, looking back it seems that this is just a post complaining about my current situation. But, now we come to my second fear, that I will love England too much and miss it terribly when we move back to the States. Clint's parents and grandparents recently came for a visit, and I found myself feeling proud and excited to show them our new home. There is so much to love about England, and I feel like we have only scratched the surface in our first five months here. What do I love the most? Here we go:

TEA TIME. The solution to every problem is to have a nice "cuppa", which means hot tea with milk, and sugar for some people (me included).  Clint and I love to do this to relax after dinner, or on a rainy morning, or chilly afternoon...anytime, really. And you have to have tea biscuits with it, which are small cookies that taste kind of like animal crackers. The girls love when we have tea and they get to dip their biscuits in it.

PUBS. You could just call a pub a restaurant, but it's really something different entirely. The pubs here range from the quintessential old British pubs, with exposed wooden beams and complete with a dog lying in front of a crackling fire; to the pub chains scattered around town. But either way, the British view them as an extension of their homes and people gather to watch sports on the telly, visit with friends, or watch their kids play while they enjoy a drink on the patio or in the beer garden.  And unlike our restaurants back home, which are often all crammed together in one area of town, a pub can be found on just about every neighborhood corner, so often for the locals their pubs are "where everybody knows your name". "Our" pub is just a couple of blocks away, and it's nice to be able to walk there whenever the mood strikes us (although it's newer and there are no old wooden beams or creaky floors...but we did have that in the pub near our temporary flat!).

CASTLES/RUINS/HISTORIC SHTUFF. This place is a history nerd's dream. England is full of castles, palaces and all sorts of ancient ruins. Hearing the stories about what happened here hundreds of years ago the people who called this home back then is amazing. Warwick itself is over a thousand years old, which blows my mind. I get a little thrill every time I drive past the medieval castle, or climb a winding tower staircase, or see St. George's flag flying at the top of an ancient church (he was a martyr who also, legend has it, slayed a dragon). There is so much more I could write about this. I mean, I haven't even delved into London's history, but that is another post for another day (and besides, I have found I much prefer our area of English countryside to the big city).

TRAVEL. There are so many opportunities to travel throughout the British isles and the European continent, and we intend to take full advantage of it. We each have a whole bucket list, and although I know we won't get to do everything, I've already seen more of the world in the past few months than in my previous 28 years. Of course, traveling with kids takes a little more effort and comes with it's own set of challenges, but we're slowly and surely figuring that out as we go.

LOADS TO DO. There is always something going on around here to do. For example, we happened to go into town a couple weekends ago to visit the farmer's markets, but not only did they have all the stalls packed with goodies, but there was live music and Morris dancers everywhere (folk dancers...look them up and tell me those dances didn't result from drinking too much!), and Cbear got to wrap a maypole with other little girls. Lots of the old estates are open to visitors and have amazing gardens to explore. There are museums and tons of kid activities.

BRITISH WORDS AND PHRASES. I love learning and deciphering the different phrases and the way the British speak. It's probably the aspiring writer in me; I love words. Clint uses them probably more than I do because he is around local people every day and has to communicate effectively, but there are a few that I've picked up. Here are a few favorites off the top of my head:

"You all right?" or just "all right?" as a greeting, does not mean they are concerned that something is wrong; it's more like, "Hey, what's up?" or "Hi, how are you?"

"Bits and bobs" means you are doing a few chores around the house or running some contrast,

"Bits and pieces" are the things you need to go buy at the store.

"The loo" is the toilet/bathroom.

"Knackered" or "nackered" (I don't know how you spell it) means you're really exhausted. We were using that phrase freely but a fellow American told us he thought it also had a sexual connotation, as in that's why you're tired, so we don't really know if we should use it

"That's pants" means something is really sucky or disappointing. But

"pants" the clothing means underwear; what you wear on your legs are called trousers.

"Get it sorted" means to take care of business and get things worked out.

"Me mate"= "my friend"

"That's it", said when agreeing to just about anything.

This isn't really a phrase but British spelling is different than American on a lot of words.  There are a lot of unnecessary "U"s, but it makes everything look more elegant (neighbourhood, colourful, favourite) and they use "S" a lot more than "Z" (which incidentally is pronounced "zed" not "zee"when saying it as a letter) (organise, recognise, cosy).

MEETING NEW PEOPLE. Probably the best thing about being an expat is getting to experience a totally new culture and meeting people who are different from you. It broadens your horizons and opens your mind and makes you see the world just a bit differently. I'm so glad that the girls are getting to see and know people that look, act or speak differently, and we're trying to teach them that we can be friends and treat others with kindness even if, or especially if, they aren't like us. And even though there are a lot of differences, there are also many similarities. We all like to laugh and love and be with our families, friends, and neighbors throughout this crazy ride of life.

So, there you have it: the two fears I'm dealing with on the occasions my emotions get the better of me.  I think I've figured out how to conquer them: I just need to build a teleportation device. Where is Doctor Emmett Brown when you need him?

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Just in case you were worried, dear readers, that my children had suddenly developed manners, obedience, or any kind of civility, here is a post dedicated to putting your fears to rest.  A few weeks ago we had a wonderful visit from my brother, sister and nephew (aside from Cbear's ER trip, but that was purely accidental...fell at the playground and busted her lip).  I need to do a post about it but haven't gotten the chance yet.  But since our family's gone back home the girls have been up to their old tricks as much as (more than?) ever, and making sure I'm earning every one of those pesky gray hairs that keep appearing on my head.

A few days ago I was working in the kitchen and the girls were upstairs playing nicely...ha, scratch that...the girls were upstairs leaving me alone so I was leaving them alone (that's more honest!) and then I happened to hear water running and giggling.  So I went upstairs and of course, when they heard me coming they ran away and hid. I found most of the bathroom soaked and an orange teapot sitting on the counter, and when I finally got the story out of Cbear she said that "we were making pee-pee in the teapot and making it go in the toilet." These are the games they come up with when left to their own devices. However, now I'm considering putting Cbear in charge of potty training Jellybean (after she declared yesterday that "I'm the queen of bossing Jellybean!").  It's my best/worst idea ever.

As soon as I got back downstairs from the tea-pee-pee-pot incident, I heard shrieking and "Jellybean crashed the blinds!" I went back up and found the aftermath of a popular (meaning banned) game at our house, which is to climb on the radiator, hold the blind cord and swing down to the floor, like Tarzan or something. After a come-to-Jesus meeting with them about it, they waited approximately 1.5 days to ignore my warnings, and so yesterday morning was spent debating to take Jellybean to the hospital or not...she got the cord wrapped around her finger when jumping and it left a nasty cut. A friend of mine who is a doctor got a crazy text from me along the lines of, "if she can bend her finger it's not broken, right?" Jellybean's finger seems to be doing just fine, and I'm hoping natural consequences did the job better than me concerning their little game.

A few minutes after the blind-crashing, I heard more giggling and threw in the towel on whatever I was trying to do (dishes, I's always dishes), went back upstairs to find the girls had discovered the hiding spot of their confiscated water guns and were spraying each other and the walls in the guest room. I.was.done.  At some point in my conversation Cbear stopped me and was all, "Mama, what is a 'reckoning'?" I think I made them go outside until it was time to eat lunch.

Another day this week, it was warm and sunny and I opened a few windows for some fresh air. Now, screens are not a thing here, as in, nobody has screens on their windows.  Not a big deal, right? (Aside from the blinding fear that someone is going to fall/jump out of a window at some point...yeah, a lot of the ones on the upper floors are locked at all times.) So my (second floor) bedroom window was only open while Jellybean was sleeping, and then I closed it.  Fast forward a few hours, Clint got home from work, and since I saw him pull in the driveway I opened the front door like a good wife (internal monologue: "You're it...I'm tapping out, buddy!"). Imagine my surprise when I see him bending down on the sidewalk and picking up a few things, saying, "why are your underwear out here?" That's right, friends.  While I was putting Jellybean down for a nap, Cbear had thrown two bras, a wash cloth, a head band, and an empty toilet roll out my bedroom window for the whole neighborhood to see.  They had been out there for hours, and our neighbors live CLOSE. It was so classy.  But I must have been brain-fried by that point because I laughed hysterically and directly quoted Ron Burgundy: "I'm not even mad...that's amazing!"

And the icing on the cake: So, we have this little craft room in our house with the girls' art supplies, a little table, and an easel.  They KNOW what a suitable surface is for coloring and what is not, but, in the spirit of good parenting, Clint and I were letting them play in the craft room while we solved the world's mean, watched a hilarious YouTube video (bad lip thing ever.). But we figured it would be fine because it was six minutes of our life. SIX MINUTES. That is it. And then we closed the laptop and I happened to walk by the craft room and the door was shut.  My girls are not very sneaky. They always shut the door when they are being naughty. So I opened it and caught them red-handed coloring on the wall with marker and pens. The company is so not getting the deposit back on our house. The best thing about it, though, was that Cbear has really been into drawing circles lately, and she often draw a circle within a circle with the small circle colored in, if that makes sense. It's supposed to be something but I don't remember what she intends it to be, because to me it just looks like boobs. So now our craft room has four large, green and black breasts drawn on the wall. Hey, I guess it's "art."

Feel better about your children/parenting now? That's my goal in life, y'all. YOU'RE WELCOME.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Places we've been

Well, as usual, I had great plans for keeping the blog updated each week but it just hasn't happened.  Pesky little things like parenting and sleeping kind of got
in the way.  But in between moving into our new house and getting settled, we've taken a few weekend trips to see some of the nearby sights.  Here's a little rundown of the different places we've visited so far, and a few pictures (even though I'm not much of a photographer!):


 Clint's a fan of pano shots.

Most surprising thing about exploring this castle? Climbing winding towers while carrying kids on an empty stomach makes you a little shaky/dizzy. Eat a good meal beforehand! We really enjoyed the visit, though, and bought a year pass because there was too much to see in one day!


We just snapped this pic from far away, and right afterward Cbear got carsick, but we are excited to check out these ruins soon.


Somehow I can't find any pictures of Stratford, even though I know I took some! This is the birthplace of Shakespeare, and you can do a whole tour of his house, and his wife's, and his mother's farm or something, but we haven't done that. There's really cute shopping/dining areas, a canal where the girls love to feed the ducks and geese (and chase pigeons...Jellybean's fave pastime), a butterfly farm, and of course, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. I hope to catch a play there sometime!


The "Bridge of Sighs"

We spent an entire day just walking around looking at the amazing architecture of the university, museums and churches.


Big Ben!

The Eye

We took a train (side note: I love train travel! Except when it's crowded and you have to stand...not fun.) to London one Saturday morning and did an open-top double decker bus tour to see the highlights.  Then we walked through Hyde Park while the girls picked every flower they saw, and then trekked back to Marylebone Station...walking was probably a bad idea at that point.  We didn't bring a stroller and both girls fell asleep while we carried them.  We were all very glad to get home!

The sights were awesome...but London is a bit of a crash-course in overcoming germophobia.  Taking the girls to the toilet in the Underground, then eating pizza from a tiny questionable shop nearby, public transportation, etc. was all a bit icky.  And I am left with the burning question: Where do people in London use the bathroom? Seriously, there are like zero public toilets. After searching and searching, I finally changed Jellybean's saggy diaper in the dressing room at TopShop, and the rest of us just held it until we got back on the train.

After visiting London, I have a list of places I'd like to go back and see in-depth.  On the top of the list are the National Gallery/Trafalgar Square, the London Eye, the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace.


 Pano shot again!
 Gardens designed by the famous Capability Brown...I told Clint there's an idea for a name if we ever have a boy!

Blenheim Palace has been our favorite place to visit so far.  It's the birthplace of Winston Churchill, but we only got to breeze through his exhibit (the girls weren't impressed, but Clint and I were!).  We spent just a little time inside (it was gorgeous).  We ate at a cafe outside overlooking the gardens (while Cbear tried to throw sticks and rocks into the gazing was super classy) and then spent most of our time exploring the grounds and we didn't even get to see half of it.  We learned as we were leaving that there is a little train that takes you to a children's playground. I guess it's a good thing we got the yearly pass for Blenheim also, so we can go back and see the rest of it!

We have some exciting travel plans coming up, and I hope to be able to share updates soon! Cheers.