Saturday, May 29, 2010

Eager? Anxious!

Our suitcases are packed. Because we have to make sure everything fits - not because I'm that eager.
People here keep saying to me "oh, I bet you can't wait to get back to the States" and it is driving me nuts. To me, that implies that I am the reason that we are moving. Because I don't like it here or miss my family. It's so wrong. A huge part of me doesn't want to move. We're only doing it because of the housing opportunity that came our way. I want to see Ireland and Scotland. I want to go back to Paris (with Nid not on crutches). I want to see where he grew up and there were all these places he wanted to show me from different times in his life. We'll never get to do those things, and it makes me sad. I want to move the least of all the members of my family, but people keep saying things that make me out to be the one that wants to go the most.

I do miss my family, but I lived two hours from them for seven years and some years only saw them three to four times in the whole year. I've only talked to my mom on the phone a handful of times since I moved here, and I go weeks and months without talking to my friends and other family members. Only since the new year have my sister and I gotten on an every week schedule, but that doesn't always work out either.

It might sound wrong, but I miss my animals the most.  Before moving I'd only ever been away from them for a few days at a time in 10 years. They were my day to day companions. Smudge will move in with us once we get settled, but Bearette won't be. It makes me sadder to think of seeing her regularly at my parents house and leaving her over and over again than to think of never seeing her again. I miss her so much I cry every time I think of her. I'm crying now. But is it going to be worse when I see her every week, maybe more than once a week and can't bring her home with me? I think it's going to suck royally! So, when people say "you must be so happy to be moving back" I just want to scream at them.

I am happy about a lot of things. We've got a great deal with our little cottage. The kids will have grandparents three miles away. They'll have the great outdoors at their doorstep. The move is a good idea. It will be good for us. All of us. But I just feel, over and over, that I need to defend the fact that I am not the reason we are moving. It is not because I don't like it here. It is not because I have not "settled" or anything of the sort. It is because it is a good idea for our family, and the timing is right.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The English Countryside.

Monday our friend Martin picked us up and took us to Bradgate Park just outside Leicester. It was my first time going, and I am really glad that I got to see it. And especially glad that we got to see it with Martin, who was an encyclopedia of information about the land, plants and animals in the park.

The walk starts up a gently sloping hill, which was actually a volcano. We saw several small ponds with loads of tadpoles in them. I learned about newts, bracken, and oak trees, and monkey-puzzle trees.

At the top of the hill is Old John, which was built in 1784. There is a medallion next to Old John which points out directions and mileages to various locations.

We saw red deer, fallow deer, and many birds: cuckoo, carrion crows, wagtails. The cuckoos were cooing, the wagtails' little tails were wagging, and one of the crows was lifting stones in the creek looking for insects hiding underneath them. I was fascinated by how smart he was!

After our walk, we lunched at The Bradgate, once known as The Bradgate Arms in Newtown Linford, a short walk from Bradgate Park itself. Nid got STEAK! and I had posh fish and chips:

I loved looking at the old houses, with thatched or slate roofs and exposed wooden beams. We also saw wild garlic growing on the side of the road:

Old fashioned police box. Nobody was home.

My full album of photos is available here:
Video will be added at some point, but it takes ages to load.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Our Weekend.

Friday afternoon our friend Luan (from York) came for a visit. We had a great time catching up - the last time we'd seen her was when we visited her in November of last year. She and I had a fun time playing with her iPhone when Nid went to football that night. I would never get ANYTHING done if I had one of those. The games were completely silly... but addicting!

Saturday morning I fixed an all-American breakfast for us. We had bacon, scrambled eggs, buttermilk biscuits (made from scratch), and pancakes (made from scratch). There was going to be sausage gravy (made from scratch), but the other stuff took so long to fix that I didn't fix that in the end. As it was we had plenty of food left over.

In the late afternoon Nid and I walked to the grocery store. We had just left the house when we saw a young man running up the street towards us. He was running in the road, which was strange to me. He looked over his shoulder and I thought "what did he do?" but didn't say it out loud. Then another 50 feet down the sidewalk we saw a guy handcuffing someone on the other side of the street. My first thought was that something hinky was going on, but then Nid made the more logical conclusion that he was an undercover cop. So I was right, that guy did do something, and he was running from the cops! Oh, the drama. Then we saw a lady running up the sidewalk to the other two. I looked back as we got the corner and she must have been the other cop as she was standing there with them. There was a family standing down at the corner near the entrance to the park looking up the sidewalk, so we think something happened there. Crazy.

Then in the grocery store there was more weird. It seemed like everybody in there had a baby or young child with them. Apparently Saturday afternoons are family day. I don't think I've ever seen that many children in one place outside of a school.

We bought some chips while we were there, but I didn't try them until this morning. I have written about the crazy chip flavors they have here in England before, but I'd never tried any of them before. Because of the World Cup this year, Walkers has started a new contest with 15 new flavors.

The flavours are:
  • English Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
  • American Cheeseburger
  • Argentinean Flame Grilled Steak
  • Australian BBQ Kangaroo
  • Brazilian Salsa
  • Dutch Edam Cheese
  • French Garlic Bread
  • German Bratwurst Sausage
  • Irish Stew
  • Italian Spaghetti Bolognese
  • Japanese Teriyaki Chicken
  • Scottish Haggis
  • South African Sweet Chutney
  • Spanish Chicken Paella
  • Welsh Rarebit
 Interesting, right? And some are just flat out gross. So, because we are a multi-national family, we got these:
I tried them this morning. I started with the English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding because that was Nid's bag and I just had the one chip. OMG. It really tasted like roast beef and Yorkshire pud! I couldn't believe it. My mouth started watering and I was a little bit freaked out. I could taste potatoes and carrots. I tentatively tasted the American Cheeseburger. Again, I was surprised. I could taste the mustard and pickle. Actually, it had a bit too much pickle for my tastes. At first I wasn't going to eat them. One was enough from Nid's bag and one was enough from mine. But he didn't want them and the longer they sat there the more I ate. I'll never get them again, but I am glad that I tried them.

Saturday night we also watched a movie. Kick-Ass. I was doubtful. I was not interested at all. I was wrong, as it turns out. It was more interesting than I thought it would be and I even stayed awake for the whole movie (barely), which is more than I can say about most movies and TV we watch these days. The movie was funny and entertaining, and definitely for adults. It was crude, violent, sexual, and there was a lot of very bad language in it, including from the 10 year old girl! I don't need to hear that. It does not make a movie more "realistic" to me, as I do not associate with the type of person that does that much cursing in public. Briony had gone out with friends the other weekend and they were going to see it. The theatre actually sold her and one of her friend tickets, but they would not let her other friend in so they had to trade the tickets in for another movie. Here in the UK it is rated 15. That means that 15 year olds are allowed into the movie by themselves. Briony is not 15 until next February. I do not think that she should see this movie now or in 10 months. I do not see what difference 10 months will make. In the US it is rated R, which means that no one under the age of 18 can get in without an adult present. I realize that things are more out in the open here in the UK, that there is more sex and foul language here than in the US. I am regularly surprised by what I see and hear though, and I am glad that by moving to the US we can preserve our children's childhoods a few extra years.

This reminds me of something I learned about a while back. The Page 3 Girl. The Page 3 Girl is a topless model that is featured on page three of many British tabloid newspapers. I first read about this practice in a blog that I read called Pond Parleys. The link directly to the post I mention is here.  It talked about Page 3 Girls and a How-To segment on a morning news show about how to... Well, I'll let you click and read all about it yourself. Let's just say they weren't wrong when they titled the post Never In America! My only experience with Page 3 Girls came while we were at the Embassy for our interviews. I was sitting, looking around at everyone nearby, too anxious to focus on the book I brought. To my right, and one row up was a guy reading a paper. But what I really noticed was the full page photo of a nude woman. Her breasts took up most of the page, and this is a full sized tabloid, maybe 15 inches tall by 10 inches wide (definitely bigger than the Enquirer in the US). I am pretty sure that my jaw dropped. I felt violated. I felt angry. My children were sitting right next to me and could easily have seen this same thing. I am not a prude, I do not feel that we should be ashamed of our bodies. HOWEVER, I do not feel that that means that we can display our private parts for the world to see either. You can read a brief history about the girls here, or about the short lived Page 7 Fella here.

I'll end this blog on a good note, and share with you all how our new house is coming. My dad and sister have been painting and getting it ready for us. We picked blue for our bedroom and light yellow for the bath. My dad is giving the kids fresh white for now, and he is going to let them help him paint an accent wall in a color of their choice in each of their rooms when we get there. They are very excited about that, and I am excited that I don't have to paint at all! Until I decide to do the kitchen cabinets and some of the other wooden furniture we have...

Monday, May 3, 2010

My, How Time Flies.

I don't know where the last few weeks have gone. There was so much waiting and anticipating leading up to our London trip, and now I am sort of caught in a downward spiral. What have I done with myself? It is a bit of a blur, but here is what I have been up to:

I have done a LOT of packing - household stuff and the kids things. We have a row of big black trash bags lining our kitchen wall, just waiting to be put in our bin (and the neighbor's bin late at night the night before trash day).

Our landlords have already got a renter for the house, and have said we can leave any furniture/furnishings and they will keep it or get rid of it. What a relief! I didn't want to have to pay to have this stuff hauled off.

I have narrowed down our shipping company options to two companies, one that is cheaper but takes 12 weeks, the other is more expensive but takes 4. I'm pretty sure we'll go with the 4, but I'm stalling because then I have to start filling out insurance forms and customs forms, and I do not think it is going to be fun. At. All.

I opened a website! Well, I took over Nid's website, Somebody Like You Fans, a Keith Urban and Country Music Fan Site, and moved it to a new location - same company, different server. I had to start from scratch and transfer over 400 threads from the old board to the new board. It was complicated and time consuming, but it's done! And we are getting a lot of traffic. By taking over the website, I have also taken over the Twitter Page, the Myspace Page, the Facebook Fan Page, and the Facebook Group. It has been keeping me very very busy!

Nid completely redid his website, Dierks Fans, as well. It had a soft opening over the weekend, but the grand opening is today. He really has done his from scratch, as it is an actual website, and not a free hosted message board like mine. I am very proud of him.

I have also been working on my new blog for when we move. I'm still not sure about the title, but I have some very nice backgrounds to chose from, and I am working on some cool fonts/features. I hope it comes out alright in the end.

What have I not been doing? All the little stuff. I need to call the utility companies and tell them our last day here. I need to decide if we are going to forward our mail to the US, which is super expensive. I need to find a job! Technically, I have been working on that, and have applied for many things so far.

I also need to catch up on my blog reading. I haven't thought about it in weeks, and today I logged into Google Reader to find this:
168 new blogs? That's almost too daunting to bear. I may just mark all as read and start fresh. I really enjoy reading them, but at 168 it's more like a job than a hobby and I lose interest. Sorry :(

I saw a Blue Tit in our back yard yesterday. I had never seen one before, and I called Nid in to identify it for me. It was already gone by the time he got there, but he knew what it was just by my (rather poor) description. This is what it looked like, it's just so darn cute!

I have been trying to get a picture of what I am calling my pet Magpie. She comes every couple of weeks and sits on the roof of the house or the wall of the yard. I was taken in by her beauty from the very first moment I saw her and asked Nid to identify her for me. He knows all about birds, which is very handy. This is not my Magpie, but she looks just like it. She is larger than this picture indicates.

Well, that is my life in a nutshell right now. I'll try to be better about blogging, but other than the above I haven't really done much to write about.