Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve.

This is a big day for us. Actually, the whole holiday season has been big for us. Our first Thanksgiving together. Our first Christmas together. And now our first New Years together. If that wasn't enough to make the holidays special, each one of those was also our last... Thanksgiving in England, Christmas in England, and New Years in England. It's kind of a big deal. Tonight it is just Nid and myself, as the children are in Wales this week with Grandma and Taid. They called earlier and are having a great time.

It's cold out today. The warm spell we had (with highs in the 40s) has gone, but it's not too windy, which always makes it feel colder. Nid and I walked to the corner shop and he got some advocaat that he ordered the other day, and I got a bottle of white wine. We are getting ready to watch a double feature of Final Destination 3 and 4. We've already seen 1 and 2 this week. Thought a bit of fun and nonsense would be a good run up to midnight tonight.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

America and God Save The Queen.


I happened upon the Queen's Christmas message via another blog that I read, and it reminded me of something I discovered this past July when Nid and I were watching Pops Goes The 4th.

When Boston Pops began playing America / My Country, Tis of Thee Nid recognized the melody of God Save the Queen. I forgot about it and never looked it up, but then I heard it during the Queen's speech, so I've now confirmed.
From Wikipedia:
My Country, 'Tis of Thee", also known as "America", is an American patriotic song, whose lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith. The melody is that of the British national anthem, God Save the Queen, although Smith encountered it by way of a German adaptation. The song served as a de facto national anthem of the United States before the adoption of "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the official anthem.

Here is America (My Country 'Tis Of Thee):

And God Save The Queen as covered by the Sex Pistols:

If you want to hear the "official" version you can listen to the beginning of the Queen's speech.

Just a bit of random trivia  for you all.

Enjoy more randomness at Keely's place, The Un Mom.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day.

I suppose I should start today's entry with the fact that late on Christmas I remembered to look up the time of the Leicester City Foxes football game we were to attend. Our tickets said 1500, but after running into our neighbor on Christmas Eve, and him telling us that the game was on TV, we thought we should check because sometimes they change the time for television. They did. Instead of 1500, it was to start at 1800. I'm so glad we checked, because getting there three hours early would have really sucked.

Our day started out with another sleep in. I got up and showered while Nid started the bacon and sausages and mushrooms. I made the scrambled eggs, gravy, and buttermilk biscuits. It was a wonderful meal, and a great start to Boxing Day.

After breakfast, which was about 11am I think, we cleaned up and then watched our daily movie. We heated up the apple pie and served it with caramel cinnamon waffle ice cream. It was amazing, and I am so glad waited and had it when we were not full from Christmas Dinner. After the movie, the children started their baths and got ready.

Our taxi arrived at 5pm. We only took it part of the way. For two reasons. The first is that it was more in the spirit to walk with everyone else walking to the stadium. The second was because it was Boxing Day, so the buses were not running and the taxis were charging fare and a half (because they could). We got to the stadium the same time as the police escorted away fans that had been bused in. I bought a program for the game, at a very reasonable £3 fee. We found our seats, and I was quite pleased with them. We were half way between the half way line and the goal, second row up. The hard core fans were almost directly behind us, and the away fans were in the corner closest to us, so we really were immersed in the spirit of the game.

This was my first live football game (with the exception of an under 21 US v Chili World Cup game at Klockner Stadium in Charlottesville in... 1993?). It was very exciting. I didn't always know what was going on, but it's okay when it's live. Though instant replay would've been great! I caught a penalty in action on my camera, and then I also captured the goal scored as a result of the penalty. Leicester scored twice in the first half, and Sheffield United scored once in the second. We had a lot of attempts on goal, and it was very exciting for me. There were some colo(u)rful chants coming from the hard core fans behind us, my favo(u)rite one being when the Sheffield keeper made a goal kick, our fans sang "oooooOOOOOO YOU'RE SH*T AAAAhhhhhh!" I caught that on tape as well.

At the end of the game we walked a good ways from the stadium. It was much more crowded leaving and we all held on to each other pretty tightly to keep from getting separated. We stopped and called a taxi to take us the rest of the way, which I was glad of as the sidewalks were much slipperier than they had been on the way in. As we were stopped at a traffic light, we were entertained by some weirdly clad women walking by. I was trying to get pictures of the shoes/outfits when they turned to cross the road and I realized that the woman in 5+ inch high heeled shoes that could barely make it down the slight slope to the road from the sidewalk was pregnant! Unfortunately between shooting through the windows of the taxi and the street and headlights, I did not get a good shot. But it was one of those moments where you just go "WHY?" Why would you? I don't know.

We got home right before the children's bedtime. Nid and I watched a movie and then went to bed. It had been a long few days.

Click HERE for more photos.

Here are the highlights of the game. I took video myself, but this is easier.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day.

We slept in on Christmas day. The kids knew we were going to, and they were okay with it. Actually, I was up before Briony, and when she got up I got her to help me fix my share of Christmas Dinner. She mixed up all the ingredients for the watergate salad and mixed the liquid parts of the green bean casserole. I explained the other steps, whipping the cream and adding it later so it wouldn't go flat, and mixing the beans with the sauce right before putting it in the oven. We also made the cornbread. Nid was in charge of the turkey, potatoes, parsnips... and everything else. After all the kitchen stuff got finished and cleaned up, I met the family in the living room to open presents. It took a while to sort everything out into piles, but it made it much more organized, and that was well worth it.

This year there was a lot of candy given and received. Because of the upcoming move, it didn't make a lot of sense to have a lot of stuff sent over from America that would either need to be left or shipped back. So my mom and my aunt and grandma all shipped edible presents. The children loved it! We told them it was their candy and they could all that they wanted, however we did expect them to eat three meals a day, and to eat all of their Christmas dinner (even if they had 5 candy bars right before it). They actually surprised me and only ate a bit at a time. I was really impressed. I'm going to make mine last till summer! After the presents were opened, the children went upstairs to play, and Nid and I started putting together the rest of the dinner.

Around mid-day I started to feel ill. At first I thought it was because I'd only had some toast for breakfast, and then a bit of chocolate, but I snacked on the corner of the cornbread for a while and it didn't help. Then I blamed our friends Matt and Jacqui (so sorry guys, it didn't end up being you at all!) because when they came over they'd both just recovered from being quite ill. By the time dinner was served, I could barely look at my plate brimming over without feeling even more ill. So as the family started eating, I nursed a Eno (like alka-seltzer) until everyone was nearly finished. We forgot to open our Crackers at the beginning of the meal, so we opened them. The package had 12, so we kept opening them until we ran out. I'd never participated in this tradition, and rather enjoyed it. I've heard it's near impossible to get them in the US (and when you do they are expensive) so it may be our only year with them, so I am glad that we did it. Reminder when you look at the photos, I was feeling rather ill at the time. I finally felt well enough to start eating, but it was slow going, and by the time I'd finished, Nid had put away the left overs, and the kids had already done all the washing up.

After a rest, we watched our daily movie, but were still too full to eat dessert. I called my mom and we had a nice long chat. I was really tired at the end of the day, and honestly cannot remember what else happened. I think I went to bed early....

Click HERE for more photos.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve.

Our Christmas Eve wasn't exactly traditional this year. I had forgotten the veg (vegetable to those of you not in the UK), so we had to go back to Sainsbury's to get that. Because we had a busy day, we were there at 8 am. We ran into one of our neighbors on the way, who mentioned that the Leicester City game we were going to was going to be televised on Saturday. I'll get back to that later. Thankfully there was no crowd at the grocery store, and we were back home by 8:45, when we started our daily holiday movies.

The movie finished with 10 minutes to spare to get to the doctor's office. Nid and the children had appointments to get vaccines for the move. I had printed out documents, compared them to the children's baby books, and had a list of questions. Not all of Cale's book was filled out, so I had to find out if he hadn't gotten them all or if they just hadn't been filled in. Also, some of the vaccines were slightly different in his book (a later edition of the same style), so I just wanted to make sure they had both everything they needed in general for their ages, as well as for the trip. The nurse we saw was a joke! He did not seem to entirely understand what I was saying, and I suppose part of that could be a language barrier issue, however part of it certainly was a he's an idiot barrier. He needed an exact date for travel. We don't have an exact date. Finally we agreed I could make one up. Then he was looking at his computer and said they had all that they needed. I said they needed Hepatitis B. His helpful comment was that that was usually done under private insurance. And that's all he'd say. I had to practically beat him over the head, asking him if we could pay for it, (it's usually done under private insurance he said again). I asked if he could give it (it's usually done under private insurance he said yet again). I asked if he had it in the building (it's usually done under private insurance he said YET AGAIN!). I asked, if I paid him money, could he physically do it!?!?!?!? I was really getting tense at this point, and I do believe that my voice was starting to get higher and higher pitched. I said to Nid, let's just get it at the Embassy when we go to London. So he says, what he'll do for us is give them Hepatitis A&B. He cannot give us B for free, but he can give us A&B for free under the NHS. What?! Okay, we agree on that. He then refuses to give them TDap. I say that the CDC says it can be reboostered at ages 11-13. He says we have to wait to get a letter telling us that it's due, and we'll get that when the children are aged 14, 15, or 16 before they leave school. He won't even give it to us if we pay for it. I say fine, as I know we can get it at the medicals or when we get to the US.

Briony was up first, and immediately after her injection she starts to feel sick. We move her to a cot and she lays down for a while. Nid gets his vaccines next. He gets two, and feels fine. When Briony is feeling better we send Cale in to get his and I go out with Briony to the waiting room. She still isn't feeling well. Cale bounces (literally) out of the exam room a few minutes later and we head home. About 50 yards down the street, he starts seeing bright lights and feels light headed. I take Briony, Nid takes Cale, and we finally get home. I fixed them both some toast and water, handed out the paracetamol (acetaminphin in the US) and they rest on the sofa until they start to feel a little better. Both have sore arms (as does Nid) so I give strict orders (per the nurse) for them to be careful on the stairs, not to lift anything heavy, or rough house for the afternoon.

It was only about a half hour until Nid's friend Kev from Sommerset arrived with his daughter Jasmine for a visit. Kev had come up to Kettering to visit his mother for the holiday, and they took the train to Leicester to visit Nid. It had been years since they'd seen each other, and it is great that they were able to have an in person visit before we move. There is talk about the four of us visiting Kev at his place, but we are quickly running out of time to do so.

We also had a visit from our friends Matt and Jacqui. They stopped by for a short time for a coffee. We've made tentative plans to see Avatar 2D next week with them. Nid saw it in 3D with his friend Petros the other week, but would like to see it in 2D as well, and I'm afraid I'd be motion sick with 3D, so it's a good plan. Matt and Jacqui are going to Spain for a few days after the holiday, so we'll hook up with them when they return.

When Kev and Jasmine left, I just didn't feel much like cooking, so we had chips from the chippy and sausages I had in the fridge and it was actually quite nice (and easy!). I called Heather after dinner and Caitlin was so talkative! She normally doesn't like to talk on the phone, but Heather had me on speaker and I just can't believe how grown up she is. We haven't webcamed in months, and I've missed her ever so much. At the end of the call she told me she loved me bunches and wished me a Merry Christmas. It was too cute! I can't wait to see her again. I just hope she warms back up to me quickly and doesn't think I'm a stranger.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Little Shopping And Holiday Movie Week.

Well, apparently now that I'm a parent, I have officially joined the ranks of those who go Christmas shopping in the last few days before Christmas. Admittedly, we've been hampered a bit by the rain and snow of recent weeks, and as much as biking to town in the cold is unappealing, it's worse in rain and/or snow. As it was this morning, there were patches of ice, but little enough traffic that we could avoid it fairly easily. Speaking of traffic, because the sidewalks were icier than the road, we went the whole way on the road. Usually it's a combination of both. I have to be honest. I don't like roundabouts when riding in a car. I really don't like them riding on A BIKE!
They are evil and confusing and... anyway that's not the subject of this particular post, so I'm letting it go. Deep breath... move on...

We rode into town early, arriving right about 9am, before the crowds got there. Now, not only were we doing our Christmas shopping three days before The Day. We didn't really know what we were getting. We had some ideas, but did not know where or exactly what... We had success at almost every place we went. We also scouted out some really nice hiking boots for our trip to Sweden in February. They've got a great sale going on right now, that they think will last through New Years, so we'll probably go back next week and get something. I only have the one pair of shoes here now (gave my spare pair of sneakers to Cale because he kept wearing through the ones we'd get him within days or weeks). And now my one pair are wearing out and have started giving me blisters and arch pain. I am really looking forward to these hiking boots. I'd just worn out my favorite pair back home and threw them away before the move. With shopping success, we had a quick lunch at Burger King (of course!) and headed home. I made the kids stay out of the dining room and wrapped everything up. I now understand why my mother started using gift bags with us all those years ago. Presents wrapped, everything put away. And now I'm sitting here, and hour or so later still shivering. The cold was okay while I was out in it, wearing a coat, hat and gloves. But now it's still in me, and I think I need to put on some more layers. Or take a hot bath.

But that will have to wait because today is day two of our Holiday Movie Week. Here is our plan:

There have been quite a few adjustments to it over the last 24 hours, and a few things have been taken off. It's not just classic American holiday shows, it's my favorites. The ones that I watch every year. I want to share these with my new family, who has never seen any of them (well, Nid's seen a couple). Yesterday's movie went over very well, and we'll be starting todays shortly. And last night Nid and I watched the less kid-friendly Christmas movie Die Hard!

Oh, and I nearly forgot! We missed our package delivery today. It left NJ on the 13th. It got scanned late yesterday somewhere in the UK. We thought it might get delivered  today, so we made sure to get back from town in a timely manner. We walked in the door and the children said there was a knock at the door and they left a notice. Of course they did! But then they said... about two minutes ago. Really? Just our luck. But it turns out we are lucky, because the call tag says they are dropping it at the same post office that they left the last one. It is closer than the main package delivery place, and it says we can pick it up tomorrow. We need to go to the PO anyway to get more gas and electric, so it all worked out.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice.

Today, December 21, 2009 is Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year.

When I first became interested in my family's genealogy and history, going back to Ireland and Scotland, I learned a lot about Celtic and Pagan traditions. I learned about a place in Ireland called Newgrange. It is one of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world. It is approximately 5,000 years old, and predates Stonehenge by about 1,000 years. Newgrange was designed so that on the shortest day of the year, the sunrise would shine all the way down the passage and illuminate the room at the end of a 60 foot long passage for 17 minutes. It is a true marvel of history and construction. You can read more about Newgrange at

You can read all about the Pagan origins of Christmas at these sites:
Pagan roots of Christmas
Christmas's paganismwicca

Earlier today we opened a few Solstice presents from Nanna and Grandma Vickey and Granddad Purcell. Nid burned some CDs for the kids and I gave everyone an ornament with their first initial on that I had bought last year and brought with me. It will be a new tradition for us, to have these ornaments on the tree every year.

After opening presents, we made kettle corn and cracked open the sweets Grandma Vickey sent and all sat down to watch It's A Wonderful Life. We've got a movie (or several cartoons) planned for each day this week. It's a movie that I watch every year. Nid had only seen it once as a child, and the children had never seen it. I was worried a little because it was made in 1946 and is 2 hours and 10 minutes, that the children would get bored, but they stuck it out and really seemed to enjoy it.

We topped off our day with a grand dinner!

A huge thank you to Nid for putting this all together for us.

You can see more photos HERE!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The US Embassy, London.

They've gone on Winter Holiday. All of them that work there, they must have! Do you want to know why I know this to be true? Let me explain...

I am a member of a website for Expats. Members of this website post data for others to see. They post things like when and where they applied for various visa. They post how long it took to get notifications for each stage and any problems they had or things they missed or should have done. It's been as much a help with the move back to the US as UK Yankee was in getting here in the first place. It's been a life saver. But now I know that the Embassy can work faster and is not (because they must have all gone on vacation last month) and it is a bit of a let down. ****Note, if you work at the Embassy and are reading this, please don't reject us simply because I am stressed and venting****

Four other couples in addition to us posted their data. The website compiles this and gives statistics.
The average time between mailing the I-130(s) and receiving NOA1 was 11 days.
We got our in 4 days.
The average time between NOA1 and NOA2 was 20 days.
It's been 38 days and I still haven't heard anything.

The Embassy website says that as of December 9th, they are processing petitions filed November 10th. Our NOA1 was November 10th. That should be us they are processing. But where is our NOA2? Before this update, it said that as of November 27th, they were processing petitions filed on December 9th. So in 18 days, they only made their way to the next day's petitions? Are they getting that many?

This next step is just that. One of many more steps we have to take. The next statistic is the number of days between NOA2 and the interview in London. Based on only 2 couples (the only two that have gotten interviews of the 5 of us) the number is 56 days. If we got notified today, we would have an interview date probably sometime in late February or early March. If we're lucky. If they don't get further and further behind. If I don't run into any trouble getting my Christmas package that includes documents I need to submit at the interview.

I just want to take the next step. Waiting for the interview is going to be hard enough, without the waiting to hear how long we have to wait for the interview... it's just a waiting game, and those of you who know me personally know I'm not so good at waiting. And also, being the overzealous planner that I am, not knowing until March (or later!) when we can move is killer. I want to book the shipping and tell my family when to expect us. I want to know when I have to buckle down and start looking online for jobs.

It is a weird feeling, right now. There are things I want... a bathrobe, for example. I've wanted one since I got here. We kept putting it off, and then we were going to get new ones for Christmas. But before we did that, we decided to move. And now it doesn't make sense to get bathrobes. There won't be room in our carry on luggage when we move. We could include them in the shipping container, but then we won't have them for 6-8 weeks after we arrive, and they are pretty bulky (though I do have spacebags) so we'd be paying for them when we could probably just get new ones again. So, we aren't getting bathrobes for Christmas. We aren't getting them until we move. That's the first example that came to mind, but there are other things like this. We're in limbo. We don't want to buy things we'll just have to get rid of in 6 or 7 months.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Snow.

So, I was just on my iGoogle homepage checking the current news, and I saw this:

I said to Nid, "It's snowing." (I didn't really mean it, I was being sarcastic)
He says "Where?"
I say "Leicester."
He looks out the crack between the curtains and the window and says "Oh yeah, it is."

I of course didn't believe him. Of course it wasn't snowing, he wasn't going to fool me! I even flat out said he was lying to me (I know, I'm a horrible person, but I meant it good-naturedly). So finally he opens the curtains (the sun comes right into our eyes when we sit at the computer, so we have to keep it closed till early afternoon when the buildings block it).

It was snowing. So I got out my camera... and took a half dozen photos. In most of them you can't even tell it's snowing. In the ones you can tell, it looks like rain. Oh well. I am documenting it... my first snow fall in England. And by the time I closed the door and came inside it had stopped. Good timing on our parts, or we'd have never known!

Those little bits really are big fluffy snowflakes!

Friday, 18 December 2009 I woke up to this on the sidewalk:

This is our street:

It's so pretty!
Ironically, this is what Google says the weather is today:

Partially sunny it is. Clear it is not...
Oh well, it's snowing!

We do however, have to go to both the grocery store and the post office, both of which are in opposite directions from home, and we are centered pretty much smack in the middle. We'll see how I feel about snow after our trek.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Results Of Random Tuesday.

Yesterday I ranted about the postal delivery service. And today they delivered the package from my parents. Yesterday it said it was still in New Jersey. This morning it said it arrived in the UK yesterday, and was scheduled for delivery on Thursday. It said that last time, but delivered the day before, so I went to the shop by myself and Nid stayed home in case they came. They didn't. We got a package last week from Nanna (Nid's stepmom) and they delivered at noon. At 1ish, I figured it wasn't coming. At 1:30 there was a loud knock at the door. It was Parcel Force with our package. I opened it and sorted all the goodies, some of which needed some extra tape on them, but nothing was damaged. Then I pulled everything out from under the tree and sorted everything and put it back. It was quite a process, but it looks great.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our Holiday Card 2009.

This year, in lieu of mailing out Holiday cards, we are going digital. This is our card.

Random Tuesday Thoughts.

This is my first go at Random Tuesday Thoughts... lets see how it goes:

I am waiting for packages from the US. It's not that I'm greedy, I just don't want them to get lost. Because the senders who spent major bucks to ship them. What's up with the price of postage, anyway?!

Package number one was sent on December 4 and was last scanned in New Jersey (last US port for international mail) on December 9.

Package number two was sent on December 9 and was last scanned in New Jersey on December 13.

Where are they now, you might ask? That would be the question. Are they taking the ferry across the pond? Could be at this rate...

I hope you enjoyed my randomness, though really I suppose I'm always this random, so there is probably nothing special about this Tuesday post after all. You decide.

You can click the link above to go to Keely's site, The Un Mom, to read more randomness.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like...


It's been chilly for a while now. But we've still got our heat turned down to the lowest level it will go, and it's been pretty comfortable in the house. There have been days that I didn't wear my coat over my sweater when we went out. I still haven't gotten out my winter coat yet. But that may change this week. This is what Google tells me is coming:

Not unreasonable weather by any means, and it does make it a little more "seasonal." We've had rain part of most days of the last week I think (the days all tend to blur together for me), and with the dip in temperatures, there is a chance of snow. Snow!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

NHS Orthodontic Treatment. Or not.

We took Briony to the orthodontist today. What a waste. The dentist wrote to the orthodontist last May saying she needed an appointment. We got a letter from the orthodontist in October saying our appointment was the last weekend of November. Briony was out of town that day so I called to reschedule... for today. All this just to be seen. The orthodontist says that yes, she is entitled to free orthodontic care through the NHS. The nurse talks to us. The first appointment (after this) will be photos and molds (understandable). The second appointment will be to discuss the treatment options and agree to a plan of action (okay). Then the third will be starting treatment (right).

THEN she says because they are only allowed to start treatment on so many NHS patients a month, we should expect a letter with a first appointment date around May, with treatment probably starting in July/August. REALLY?!?!

We didn't say anything about the move, thinking maybe we could get lucky with a cancellation or something. Originally we thought she'd get the braces on closer to now, and by the time we'd moved be well on her way, making treatment in the US less costly.

The picture is of the orthodontist examining her bite. They gave her groovy sunglasses to wear so that the bright light didn't go in her eyes. And I just want to say, her feet are not really that big, it's just the perspective of the shot.

I googled for Orthodontists back home (looking for my old one but couldn't find them). Anyway, I found one with a really good website that said email us with any questions. So I did. I wasn't really hopeful, I was expecting the reply, we need to see your child, we cannot blah blah blah. That is so not what I got. The lady was very helpful. She said that because different practices used different tools and equipment, it was better to not switch mid treatment, but of course possible. She also said it usually cost MORE when switched in the middle because they have to do some tests/molds/xrays themselves to verify the other work that has been done. She said that they do take into account how much you've already paid, but in our case it would be nothing.

Then she answered the question that I really wanted to know about, insurance. I don't think it paid for my sister's or my care when I was younger, but their website mentioned it, so I asked. If treatment has already been started when insurance kicks in, it is considered pre-existing, and they will not cover anything. Depending on what kind of insurance we get (and orthodontist care is usually an add on), they will often pay 50%, which is $1,000-$2,000. So we're going to wait. Hopefully I'll be able to find good work with good insurance, because $4,000 for braces is staggering. They also offer free initial exams, so at least taking her in and getting an estimate for final costs will be free. Whew. And Cale will probably need them as well.

I was very happy with this practice, though, and will definitely keep them in mind for when the time comes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Goodies From America.

We got a package today! It was a long road to get it though. My aunt Kim and my Nanny (my grandmother) put this package together for us and mailed it on November 19th. We did our usual, anticipating when it might arrive, wanting to be home for delivery, as it was over 25 pounds, and we were trying to make it easy for ourselves. Well, it didn't come. And it didn't come. Only on the last package that took so long did we learn that you can track these things through their customs forms. But Kim had gone on vacation right after it was sent, so I wasn't able to contact her to get the tracking number. I waited (impatiently, I'll admit). Well, Kim got back into town the other day and had a message from me waiting for her. Ironically, she didn't mail it, Nanny did, so I could've called her for the number. But anyway, lesson learned. I plugged in the tracking number this morning and.... they showed attempted delivery twice on November 27th. A day that we were home most of, at least for one of the attempts, and probably for both. We made a quick last minute run to the grocery store for Thanksgiving supplies, but we were not gone long.

So we started making calls at 7:45am this morning. We called Royal Mail, but when we finally got through, she said I had to call Parcel Force, because they do international packages. So I called them. And they confirmed attempted delivery on the 27th, and said it had been left at a local post office. This is not common for packages to get left at a post office. There is a sorting office a few miles away where packages usually get taken if you are not home. You get a little card saying they missed you and how many hours/days you need to wait before going to pick it up. Well we never got a card. The post office isn't exactly in our neighborhood, but we were making the hike to the kid's school for Review Day today, and coming back we were able to detour there. The line was pretty long (as they usually are) but moving pretty fast (compared to usual). When I say post office here, I mean a small corner shop/general store. The post office counter handles postage/mail ans well as money. You can pay your bills, send wire transfers, get cash, etc. And you never know what the person in front of you is going to ask for. Thankfully the regular shop purchases go to the front counter so there is not just one line for everything.

Anyway, I digress. We got to the counter and I said I tracked a package and it was suppose to be there, but we did not get a card saying delivery had been attempted. He looked a little... baffled? by this lack of protocol. He asked when it was suppose to have been left there, and I told him. I also told him it was about 25 pounds, if that helped to locate the box (it had to be a decent size at that weight) since they don't keep a lot of packages there. He asked someone something and I heard him say, I wonder if that's the one out there? I didn't have time to wonder what that meant because he comes to the window and says, "Can you check that package there (behind us on the floor of the general store) to see if it's for you?" I looked around and was surprised to see it sitting right there in the middle of the room, basically. I checked, yes it was ours. He came out and got a sticker and my passport for ID and scanned some stuff. He suggested I complain to the company, as it had been there so long and no one had contacted us. We've been happy with our deliveries up until this point, but I think someone does need to address the issue that they never knocked on our door, and if by some tiny, teeny weenie chance they did, they did not leave us a ticket telling us to collect it.

I had brought backpacks with me, so we opened the package, transfered all the goodies, and headed home. I spent the afternoon sorting through things. A lot of it is American foods, and I documented everything so it will be easier to do my weekly meal plans. All the sweets I divied up and wrapped since it's so close to Christmas. Nid and I may have sampled a few of the sweets before repackaging them. But shhh, don't tell the children, as they don't know what's in the packages :)
Thank you again, Kim and Nanny!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nestor, The Long Eared Christmas Donkey.

I'm not big on the religious side of Christmas. If you are one of those who believe that there is no non-religious Christmas, I do not aim to offend, nor discuss my beliefs at this time. I am merely prefacing this blog post (advertisement, really) because people who know me personally would probably not expect me to appreciate this Christmas cartoon.

Nestor, The Long Eared Christmas Donkey. I just watched it for the first time, and I cried like a baby. I remember seeing an advertisement for it on TV... years ago, it must have been. But I never got around to watching it. This year, being so far away from friends and family, I wanted to have something homey around me. I started a list of shows and movies that are always on American television at the holidays. It's A Wonderful Life, Rudolf and the Island of Misfit Toys... things I would watch every year just because. This year, while writing this list, I remembered Nestor, and looked it up on YouTube.

I just had the opportunity to watch, and I really am glad that I did. It does have Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus in it, but it's not about that. It is very much like Rudolf, in that poor little Nestor is born with really long ears, and he gets teased his whole little life. He loses his mother and wanders aimlessly until an angel leads him to the stable where Mary and Joseph come to buy a donkey to take them to Bethlehem. Like Rudolf's nose, that guides Santa and saves the day, Nestor's ears shield Mary during a storm, and he guides them to a stable because he knows how warm they can be. In the end, everyone loves him and celebrates him. It is a really touching story, one that I think most people will enjoy.

Screencaps are from the above link, video by donkeylongears

Everyone knows about Rudolph
Our fleet-footed friend from the north
Who light sent his way through the darkness
As he drives his sleigh back and forth
But there's someone else we should mention
If we want the whole story told
He carried the first gift of Christmas
More precious than diamonds or gold
Nestor was a donkey who seldom laughed or played
'Cause no one ever used him in the stable where he stayed,
All the camels teased him, and the other donkeys too;
They said, look at little Nestor, there's nothing he can do.

Look at little Nestor, his ears hang to his feet,
when he looks at his reflection, ears are all he sees.
Nestor's heart was broken and his eyes were full of tears,
If only there was something he could do about his ears.

One dark night two strangers gave Nestor a surprise
They chose him from all others for they loved his gentle eyes.
A man was called by Joseph, and Mary was his bride
She needed help to Bethlehem and Nestor's back to ride.

They travelled through the desert but hadn't gone too far
When winter clouds no longer let them see their guiding star.
But Nestor heard a secret as he listened to the sound,
And the angels gave directions to the ears that touched his knees.

Look at little Nestor, his ears hang to his feet, when he looks at hire reflection, ears are all he sees.
Nestor's heart was broken and his eyes were full of tears
If only there was something he could do about his ears

And so it was that Nestor found the manger where they stayed
Where kings and wise men bowed before the baby where he lay
Mary bore our Saviour and Nestor brought them there
A gift of love from God above for all the world to share.

Though, Rudolph, I just love you, I know you'd want it said
Nestor's ears are lovely as a reindeer's nose is red
So children, if you're happy when you trim your Christmas trees
You might thank a little donkey whose ears hung to his knees

Look at little Nestor, his ears hang to his feet
They shouted as they praised him and his friends were all so pleased.
Nestor was so happy and his eyes held no more tears
Now all the world knows Nestor for his laughter and his ears.

Click Here To Watch Part 1 

Click Here To Watch Part 2

Click Here To Watch Part 3

Sunday, December 6, 2009


I have a friend back in Virginia who I am doing a favor for, enabling her to give someone a Christmas gift that you can only buy in England. Well, this week she returned the favor with a goodie box!
She sent Twinkies, because Nid had never had one and we had seen a few references to Twinkies in movies/tv lately. She also sent a number of Hershey's products (can't get any of them here) and GRAPE JELLY!
This is what he had to say after having his very first Twinkie: "I could eat these all day."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I'm famous. Just a little bit. Country Music Tattle Tale is a blog that Nid follows. They are supporters of Taylor Swift, standing up for her against those who do not think she deserves the recognition and success that she has gotten. After our trip to London, Nid emailed them a link to the review I put on on my blog, and they've published that link in their most recent post about the London show. CLICK HERE to read their latest blog post, with excerpts from both Nid's and my reviews as well two photos that I took. At the bottom is a link to my blog. I've already had a few visitors come by from that link. How exciting, I'm even more famous than I was! Famous in my own mind that is... Thank you Country Music Tattle Tale!