Saturday, 31 May 2008

We survived

I think we made it through the party. Bob is napping.

Everyone was awake and roaring to go by 6:25 this morning. Bob took Riah, Cedwryck, and Ella and went in search of pictures and yard sales. Taryn, Naysha, and I got ready for the party. We cleaned up everything, fixed our hair fancy, blew up balloons, hung streamers, washed some stinky clothes, decorated a cake, and made lunch.

At 10 the neighbor girl came over, and he mother and baby brother were here most of the time, too. She's only 3, but is quite mature. The girls made a craft, painted their nails, and played musical statues. I finished up in the kitchen and helped with the crafts.

William was awesome this morning. He ate twice first thing, and then played for awhile before taking a long nap in his bed (he usually sleeps on my lap). If he wasn't so contented, I'd have never got done.

Bob got back just after 11, and we were ready to eat by 11:30. Everything turned out nicely. The cake is a little dense, but it looked pretty good, and the frosting tastes good. Mrs neighbor said in this country you usually get the hard, untasty frosting.

After dinner came the gifts, and Naysha was pleased with her haul. Then the children played for an hour before neighbor had to go home.

I tried to talk Bob into running down to Leeds Castle (it's only 1:45 to get there) for their joust that ends tomorrow, but he wouldn't hear of it. I don't understand. ;-) Maybe I'll take a nap, too.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Tragedy! - or not

Now I'm level headed enough to know that in the great scheme of things, this really isn't that important. But I'm female enough to worry about it effecting Naysha the rest of her life. But I realize that it'll get sorted and she'll not even be bothered about it, really.

What am I talking about????

It's 11:30 am the day before the birthday party.

I had decided to surprise Naysha by making her a "Barbie doll cake." This is done by baking a cake in a glass mixing bowl, which is then inverted to form a big dress for the doll, who stands upright in the center of the cake. Sounds easy. Lots of people have made them.

This morning when I headed into the kitchen I discovered that I'm short on powdered sugar (icing sugar), and will have to get Bob to go to the store again. He went yesterday to get barbecue sauce for the "li'l smokies" that Naysha requested. Then I made the cake. Mixed up beautifully. Greased and floured the bowl, blah blah. Fast forward an hour and 20 minutes, and it was quite brown on top and cracked a little, but I wasn't too worried about that since I'd have to trim the top to make it flat anyway.

It tested clean all the way through, so I pulled it out and let sit 10 minutes, then dumped it out. It flew out of the bowl and basically splattered. It was cooked through, but just broke on itself and busted the bottom half out.


I also made an 8" square cake to put under the round part in case it wasn't tall enough - that one is still in the oven.

I asked Naysha if she wanted a surprise or what (trying to decide if I should try again), and she said she really wanted a cake that looks like a house, and showed me the one she meant in my cake book. That one will require yet more items from the store.

Oh, and she wants salad, too, and we are out of lettuce.

First thing this morning I made a list of things that needed doing, and the girls had it done by 9:30. Pick up, sweep, and mop the hall. Hang up their clothes. Vacuum.
By 10 the boys had undone it all. Ced had an accident and splashed all down the hall. Riah ran around throwing things. They worked together to pile all the baby toys and soft books in the middle of the living room. ... ...

I'd give a big yell of frustration, but I'm already too tired.

I understand now why some people buy cakes from the bakery. But they sure aren't as good.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

odds and ends

Since we finished reading Howard Pyle's Robin Hood, the children have been playing the stories some here and there. Then a couple of weeks ago I found a copy of the movie Robin Hood with Errol Flynn, at a garage sale for 50 cents. I hadn't seen it in years, so Bob and I watched it at night to see if it was appropriate for the children, and though it is violent we figured it would be okay. They've watched it twice now, and have played out every scene a dozen times. My children are very observant - they watch movies like my dad.
When I watch a movie for the first time, I just try to follow the story and be entertained. But these children see every detail. They know all about Maid Marion's outfits, and how she did her hair, and how many arrows Robin carries in his quiver, and which side of his face got bloody, and everything. One scene had Marion's maid wrapping yarn while they talked, and Naysha asked about that... It just blows my mind at how much of the detail they picked up on.

I'm carrying on with the knitting. I made a potholder (of course!), and now I am making a "fuzzy rectangle" (as Riah calls it) which will be a scarf for Naysha on her birthday. They always want to buy a feather boa in the toy section at the BX, but it would be all over the house in no time. So I hope this scarf will be a good substitute.

We had a thunderstorm last night. It woke up the boys, so I sat up with them for 30 minutes or so before heading back to bed. It made for a groggy morning this morning.

My powers of concentration are fading fast, so I guess that will be it for today.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Back to work

Bob did get off a little early Sunday, and had all of Monday free. So we still missed having a real weekend, but at least there was a little break.

Today it's back to work, back to diet, back to all those things that make it a 'work week.'

Yesterday we went shopping for Naysha's birthday gifts. We did the best we could with what was available. And found some tights for the girls at 75% off.

It has been cool and rainy again this week - highs in the upper 50's. Chris and Lorella: bring a sweater! And a sleeping mask if light bothers you. The last two days I've been awakened by daylight at 4:30.

Yesterday William sat himself up, and was playing with his toys. Bob called me to come see, and William just looked at me like, "What? Isn't this what I'm supposed to do?" He also got his first haircut. Nothing drastic, but it is out of his eyes now.

The potatoes are poking through the mulch in the trash can now. Cool idea.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

No end this week

Boo hoo, there is no weekend this week. And it's Bob's fault. He was acting as shop chief on Friday when it became apparent that the planes would not get fixed, even with a regular weekend duty shift, so he decided to make "everyone" work regular shifts through the weekend. Not exactly everyone, because the real shop chief isn't coming in, and a single mother couldn't get a babysitter, so Bob let her stay home, but it does include Bob working all day Saturday and today. He was hopeful (last night) that they would get Monday off.

Friday night, not knowing what the weekend would hold, we went to get groceries after Bob came hoe from work. That was tiring, as we got home after 9.

Saturday night Bob thought of going back again, to get a movie for him to watch today at work, and I wanted to go again, too, because the commissary was having a case lot sale (two days only), and I wanted some more yarn for my knitting. So we went to the craft store - closed. So we went to the library - closed. So I went to the case lot sale and Bob checked the mail. I bought a case each of 2 kinds of cereal, 2 cases of toilet paper, a case of paper towels, a case of trash bags, one of spaghetti noodles, 4 of green beans, 3 of corn, and a club pack of crackers. It barely fit in the back of the van, and I had fun unpacking it all today, but it will save some money and some trouble in the future.

Today I am doing laundry (more than usual) because Cedwryck has forgotten how to use the toilet, and washing dishes (for some reason the dishwasher didn't get anything clean yesterday), and making barbecue meatballs for dinner.

I ate candy and cookies and ice cream all day yesterday and lost 2 lbs. Really! This morning I weighed in at my lowest so far since ... Well, since William, at least. That makes a total of 17lbs lost since I started keeping track. Not a lot, but slow is best, they say. (Yes, 17 lbs is a lot if you are skinny, but when the total weight loss needs to be oh, 90lbs or more, 17 is just a good start.)

Yesterday we brought in our emergency change of clothes from the car to check if we still have everything, and Taryn's dress barely came to her knees. It's only been 3 months! She is sure growing up.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Here I go meddling again

I found this website, and I just had to share.

This is the best article I've seen on the headcovering. It is well written and well researched, and it relies on facts rather than emotion, which I like. Disclaimer: he does mention briefly the (unbiblical) presupposition that "the gifts" have ceased, but that one statement doesn't ruin the main body of work.

I'm not done yet (it's a long article) but my favorite line so far is:

...women do indeed understand the symbolism of the head covering. This understanding is usually expressed in hatred and contempt for the sign of submission. The reason for the angry opposition to head coverings is not because women have a natural hatred of hats and veils, but because of their sinful opposition to what the cloth covering represents--the subordination of the woman. We do not find the modern spirit of feminism in godly Rebecca who puts on her veil in the presence of Isaac as a token of subjection (Gen. 24: 65).
Oh, I found another fault - for some reason he dismisses the foot washing without qualm.

Whew, I finished it! That was quite a chore with all the interruptions - I mean, children - I mean other things going on.

So I found two sentences that I disagreed with; that's a 99.5% agreement rate, so I still say it's a very good article.

If you've ever wondered why I wear a headcovering, take the time to read the article, or at least skim it. Any attempts at brevity only add confusion, I'm afraid.

Friday, 23 May 2008

nothing much

I've been tired all week, and feeling very behind. It's Friday (I almost said Thursday) and I still don't have a menu for the week.

Yesterday I took the children to the park after Ella's nap (I knew Bob would be home late), and it was pretty sad. Riah hurt himself climbing up the slide, and then Ella fell out of the swing; she did a flip and landed on her back. William was hungry and the bench inside the playground was full. I [i]can[/i] feed him standing up, but it's not very easy to be modest, especially since I forgot a cover blanket. So I told the older children they could walk down the path through the trees while I fed William on the bench in the field. Then it was time to go home (I'd put chicken in the oven when we left) and I let them run ALL the way around the field while I walked across to the parking lot with the stroller. Except the boys decided not to, and cut back across the middle of the field, which had just been mowed and was ankle deep with grass clippings. (Around the edges had been raked.)
Upon arriving home I saw that Taryn had not latched the front door when she came out (I'd sent her back for some grapes for a snack), and it was standing wide open. >growls and rolls eyes< I'm glad we live in a 'quiet' neighborhood.

I may or may not have mentioned that Bob is assistant shop chief now. It's his due, but now that he has the position he isn't sure he wants it. :-) More responsibility, not more pay. Anyway, yesterday his supervisors told him that they know he's doing good work for the shop and they are glad he's here. So that was nice.

Monday is Memorial Day, so it should be a 3 day weekend, but Bob may be working through it. So we have no plans yet, but we have in mind that it might be nice to go to Sherwood.

Next Thursday is Naysha's birthday. Bob's grandma sent us some money for "all the children" and I have been thinking about an outside playhouse/slide thing. There are some on ebay that aren't too far to pick up, so we are looking. She wants a princess party, too, so that will be next Saturday, if Bob isn't working. We will invite the neighbor girl.

That's about all I can think of now.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

While we were out

Bob was given Friday off "just 'cause" and we were glad to be leaving our cold house.
... I should have written this yesterday! Now I cannot remember well enough to separate the days!...

Anyway, RAF Mildenhall was putting on a Bazaar in 3 of their hangers and we went out there Friday and again Saturday. Friday we spent a few dollars for the children to play a fishing game, but didn't buy anything. Saturday I bought a china serving bowl, an Indian headscarf, a rolling pin, and a necklace for each girl. We were going to go back to the children's hanger and buy some time on the bouncy castles, but a local rock band was getting fired up right then (that hanger housed the stage, the children's stuff, and a 'beer garden') so we just had to leave. The children were very disappointed, but we figured a way to make it up to them. After dinner we each had an ice cream, and then we let them play and look at all the toys at the BX, AND we let each one pick out a small toy. They really behaved well at the bazaar.

We also drove out to Feltwell one day, and Bob took the older 4 into the furniture store while the babies and I napped in the car.
And we drove out to Methwold (just a little village) and took pictures of the church there. On the way back from there we went to Weeting and looked up the full gospel church there. They were having a wedding so we just drove by and read the sign. I don't think it'll be any better than where we are now, and it's farther to drive.

Sunday we left for church early, but not early enough, and went to the boot sale in Kennet. We bought a skirt for Taryn and a foam floor puzzle for everyone. Very little was priced there, so I wonder if people are expected to haggle.

Then we had a sandwich before going in to meeting. William didn't cry, so I got to stay in for the whole service. Our chaplain said he is leaving in July. So we might be looking again anyway.

Yesterday the man came and got the heater going again, and explained what all the controls are for. Why isn't that a part of the newcomers' briefing? It's not exactly self-explanatory, with 3 thermostats and two power controls. But we understand now.

Sorry I can't remember enough to make it interesting.

Oh, hey! I learned to knit! I bought a pair of needles at the BX, and got some clear instructions from and now I'm half-way to a pot holder. :-)

AND William is crawling. Bob and I sat and watched him go straight to his goal. He's starting to eat more at the table now, but it still isn't much. We'll stick a spoonful in his mouth and he'll sit there with his mouth open for a minute, and then finally he can't help it - he has to close his mouth - and then the food gets swallowed.

Monday, 19 May 2008


Well, the oil tank/pipes are no longer leaking PTL! However... (there's always a cloud behind every silver lining) when it started to cool off Friday we turned the oil flow back on, and tried to get the heater to come on. Gave it a couple of hours, because it takes a while to warm the water back up (though don't try to tell that to the local folks, who actually program their tanks to go off and on throughout the day so it's only running while they are at home, thinking it will save oil, but we know it will burn more to heat everything than to just keep it hot), and it didn't. So we started looking around. Finally found the instructions on relighting the boiler, followed them, and it didn't light. The book says don't try repeatedly - call a technician. Except it's 6pm on Friday. I called Elvins Estates just in case someone was working late, but they weren't.

We had the children sleep in warm clothes, the girls all in one bed with 2 blankets, and the big boys in one bed with 2 blankets. William had on warm fuzzy pjs, a "sleep sack" and an afghan over that. (I don't advocate blankets on babies, but someone said you can use an afghan and they won't smother under that, and it makes sense.) They are warm when they wake up.

So Saturday morning it was a bit chilly, but we hurried through breakfast and left.

Sunday morning it was 34* outside and not much better in here. Also we discovered that the heater is what heats the hot water, so we had to switch it back to electric before we could wash up.
Mr Elvin called me back Sunday morning and asked what was going on, and said they'd get somebody out Monday.
We got together as quick as we could and left.

Now it's Monday morning, and 34* again. Bob tried to start a fire before he left for work, but it didn't take. I have on sweat pants, house socks, a denim skirt, a long sleave shirt and a sweater. Plus my hot laptop is on my lap and I just finished some hot chocolate. It's not TOO cold!

Time to get the children up.

I'll tell about our time away from home later.

Thursday, 15 May 2008


Wednesday we all got up early and went to the base. I had to pick up the blood work results from our primary care providers and take them to the WIC office by 8:30.

First stop, family practice for my results. I have normal iron levels. I just figured it'd be low since I have been pregnant and/or nursing without a break since August of 2001. I take vitamins sometimes, but not every day by a long shot. My ob/gyn for babies #2-4 would never believe it. He was convinced having babies is bad for you.

Then to pediatrics for the children's results. The person at the desk said she saw us in the BX on Monday, and started bragging to her co-worker about how I had the children all in a line, not acting up or anything. She said I should write a book. HA. I have read a few, but I feel like a miserable failure most of the time.

Anyway, got the results and went to WIC. Riah's hemoglobin count was just above the average range, but the nurse there said it meant he was probably gearing up for a growth spurt and was no cause for concern. All the other numbers were within normal.

Ella is growing! She's almost up to the 25% now. That was encouraging for me to see. William's weight has slowed some, but it's still going up, and his height looked good. The boys are both around 90% on height and weight.

We got out of there about 9:30 (Bob met us there and watched the children while I got the coupons, then went back to work), and the children were all hungry. So we went by Burger King and got some plain cheeseburgers to eat in the car.

Then to the commissary again to get the free stuff (milk, cereal, peanut butter, juice, and cheese) and the stuff I forgot Monday.

We made it home just in time for lunch and the oil tank drama already discussed.

Other stuff:
Bob's car is still leaking water, and he decided yesterday that the engine would have to be pulled in order to fix it properly.

He IS the assistant shop chief now, and has been told he won't go on the upcoming TDYs. Which is all right, since the one he was going to be on got changed to a 120 day trip. But we were hoping he'd get to go to Iceland. I guess we can still look at Space-A seats...

Time to cook supper!

oil tank

So for the whole story of the oil tank.

A couple weeks ago we had the tank filled, and from that time I've smelt the kerosene when I go near the tank. So one day I went to look, and the pipe from the tank to the house felt damp. I told Bob; he looked, and thought it wasn't the oil.

A few days later I saw a drip, so I went out and tightened everything I could, and it stopped dripping. So I told Bob and he looked and it wasn't dripping any more.

Then a couple days later (Sunday) we ran out of hot water, which prompted another look. It started dripping again.

So first thing Monday morning I called Elvins Estate Agents in Mildenhall, who are supposed to be managing the property, and they called a plumber who would be out that afternoon. At 3 I hadn't heard from the plumber so I called Elvins back. They said the plumber was out on emergency and would be at my house first thing Tuesday morning. So 3pm Tuesday I called elvins again and left a message. Wednesday morning before I left for my WIC appointment I called again and left a message saying if the plumber didn't make it THAT day, I WILL call the base housing office. (Which lists and approves all the rentals of military personnel.)

So when I got home Wednesday there was a message from Elvins, so I called back, and they said someone would be out this afternoon, and Mrs homeowner also wanted to bring out somebody. Okay.

About 2 I got a call from Mr homeowner, and he said he and the man who built the tank wanted to come look. Okay. They came about 2:30, and as I was feeding William and couldn't come to the door, he called again after they left. He talked very fast, and used "yeah?" a lot throughout his conversation, so it was a little hard to follow, but basically he said they were pleased to note the leak was from the pipes, not the tank itself (which I knew and had told Elvins all along), and that the man would be happy to fix it soon. Great.

Then a little after Bob came home a man showed up to look at the tank. He said he'd tighten things down, and if it still dripped he'd come replace the seals or something. Okay.

Then just after he left Mrs homeowner and a man showed up. (We think Mr and Mrs Homeowner are divorced or separated.) Bob went around and talked to them. They also thought we were claiming the tank itself had a problem and may have to be replaced, and were relieved to find it was just the pipes. Mrs homeowner talked to Bob some about another thing Elvins had told them, and it wasn't quite right either.

So anyway, we finally had -not someone, not TWO someones, but THREE someones out to look at the leak.

I think it slowed (if not stopped) after the second guy tightened something, but I haven't checked again this morning.


For some reason Bob and I have been watching Smallville - a TV show about Superman as a teenager - on DVD at night. (We used to watch Lois and Clark back in the day.) In Smallville, Mr Kent is played by one of the Duke brothers from Dukes of Hazzard (the blond one).

Sooooo, as we were watching the other night, I said, "The Kents don't look very old." And as I realized what I was saying, I kept going to poke fun at Bob (who is 10 years my senior and has an 18 yr old son). "You know they have a son in high school - 17 years old! They must be in their 40's!!" Hehehe. I guess, all things considered, they look older than they are/could be.

But weren't they older in the movies? Like they were almost past childbearing when they found baby Clark? Anyway.... I never read the comics or anything....

I know there's no point to this post. :-)

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Shopping and so forth

(Background info: Bob loves peanut butter. He used to live entirely on peanut butter - more or less. His favorite desserts all involve peanut butter.)

Still breathing okay, S.A.M.? (she's allergic)

Sunday night Bob asked me to make "no bake cookies," which in our house goes like this:
Melt 4 T butter in saucepan. Add 2 heaping spoonfuls of cocoa (Dutched, if you have it) and stir til smooth. Add 2/3 c sugar and 1/4 c milk. Stir constantly over med-hi heat to a rolling boil. Boil and stir 1 minute, remove from heat. Add 1 1/2 c old fashioned oats (rolled oats, not the instant kind) and about 3/4 c peanut butter. Divide into 2 bowls and eat hot. (I like a glass of milk with mine.) In theory you can dole this out by the spoonful onto foil, let cool; peel and eat. But why eat it cold and hard when you can eat it hot and goey?
So anyway (yes, this train has a caboose!) I went into the kitchen and suddenly realized we were out of peanut butter. AHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I looked in all the cabinets twice. When I told Bob it was more of a confession than a simple fact. He pretended to be mad, but I think he meant it a little. ;-) Anyway, we decided on microwave choc pudding.

So, Monday after lunch I went to the BX for a cookie sheet (I just wanted something cheap to use under the broiler), and then on to the commissary. We got two carts and put Ella in one seat and William in the other, and Cedwryck in the back of one. The backpack went in the back of the other, and my reusable shopping bags went underneath. First things first this time, instead of following the expected route which goes first to the produce and ends up with a lot of squished stuff. In the back of the building, part of the warehouse houses the "case-lot sale." They had diapers, so I got 4 boxes. Sparing some detail here, I tried to get the heavy and bulky things first, then the cold and fragile things. Riah lasted about 10 minutes and had to be put in the back of the other cart. They thought it was fun to sit on the toilet paper.
Then William got fussy, so we headed to the cafe area where I sat and nursed William while the children used the toilets. The girls went in, came out for toilet paper, did their thing, got Ella and changed her, and the boys were still in there. SO I closed my eyes, opened the men's room door and yelled at them to come out. They were both dampish, and Ced started complaining that he hadn't "gone" yet. Whatever.
William was asleep in my arms, so Taryn pushed one cart, Naysha pushed the other, and Riah walked with e to get things off the shelves and put into the carts. It worked for a little while, but then Naysha ran into a cardboard display thing and dumped chili seasoning all across the isle. So we did the honorable thing and put it all back as it was.
One lady stopped and told me she'd seen us around base and had determined to tell me, next time she saw me, that we had a beautiful family.
One man stopped and asked if I was Pentecostal. I said, "Yeah, you could say that." So he asked where we went to church and recommended one for us to try.

We finally made it out, without my losing my temper. Though I got close when I saw the empty poultry case. There was a sign saying the next shipment was due Monday, or try the frozen section. It was wiped out, too. And as someone else pointed out, Today was Monday. So is it a whole week till they get more chicken?

WHen I got home (at 2:30) and unpacked the groceries, I realized that I forgot the peanut butter. I called Bob and he said this was the worst thing I'd ever done. He stopped on his way home and got a jar.

Today after dinner we heard Riah playing in the other room, and he said, "You forgot the peanut butter! ptshew (sound of a weapon firing)"
Bob and I both just laughed and laughed. Taryn thought we saw something funny on the computer.

Fayre and fete pt 2

Sorry I'm behind. It is getting hard to type around William's increasing frame, but I guess I'll have to anyway, as he's eating all the time this week. His third tooth is almost in.

SO. Saturday night we went to Mildenhall, ate at the BXtra food court (a lovely combination of icky pizza, Taco Bell, and Burger King - there's also a Cinnabon and a Baskin Robbins, but we usually skip those). THen into the store where we bought a funnoodle and ... I know there was something else. Anyway.

Sunday we got started late, and everybody had a shower, except, no wait! The water wasn't hot, so while Taryn and I made it, it made Riah scream. SO I told Bob, and he investigated. Turns out when I went twisting knobs on the oil tank the other day (it was leaking), I turned off the flow to the house. I guess was enough oil in the lines to keep the hot water going for the day or two. Anyway, our water heater can run on electricity, too, so we switched it over and determined to call about the leak Monday morning.

So, back to the theme. Right, getting late. And I had some chicken legs marinating that Bob graciously offered to grill for our lunch. Yum. But they took a little while, so it was decided that we wouldn't make it to church. :-(
I put Ella down for a little nap, and about 2:30 we geared up and walked into town for the church Fete. Pronounced "fate" by the locals. We arrived just in time for the dog show. The classes we saw compete were: most obedient dog, least obedient dog, and dog race. The judge was a horse racing champion. After some dog show we walked around the yard - let me back up again. The fete was held in a private person's back yard, and was to raise money for the parish church. I was really surprised to see how much space was there. There was a large deck off the back of the house where a bar was set up, and lots of tables for the drinkers. The dog ring was in the center, and tents and booths around the edges of the yard. Then behind some trees were more booths, a bouncy castle, and pony rides.
We bought 4 GBP of used books (yay!), and looked at the others. Pony rides were only 1 GBP each, but Bob figured the wait would be non-doable. (Only one pony.) Bouncy castle was 2 GBP for 5 minutes, and it was hot in there, so no way.
We saw several people that we know/recognize, including the leader from the parish church, our next door neighbors, other neighbors who recognized us and introduced themselves, and someone from the reformed church in town. Then was the children's "fancy dress" competition. I thought it might be something about costumes, but I couldn't convince the girls of it, so they entered. They were wearing regular, pretty dresses. The other children were dressed up as things, so our girls said they were princesses. (The "funky chickens" won.)
Having done our duty to the town, and enjoyed ourselves quite a bit, we headed home for dinner.

But wait. Since the neighbor girl is so friendly with us, and the children talk all the time, it is now "tea" instead of "dinner." :-D

So that was the fayre and the fete.

Monday morning I called to get someone out about the oil tank. Then we all got together and went to the base. Yea. First stop, the WIC office to get orders for the lab to do an iron level test on Riah, Cedwryck, Ella, and me. Then Bob met us at the lab where we took turns having our blood drawn. Oldest to youngest. THe tech wasn't very gentle with me, but it was endurable. Next came Riah, who sat on my lap. He had already decided no amount of juice and cheese would be worth having a needle poke him, but I insisted we wanted to know his iron levels anyway. He cried the whole way through the procedure, and was very careful of his bandaged arm afterwards. Next was Cedwryck, who wouldn't look when she stuck him, but watched the rest of things without a whimper. Ella was next, and she didn't even want to put her arms out on the table, but she made a good sad face and did it anyway; no tears for her, either.

After that we stopped by Burger King for some grub, then took it to a park where we ate on an old woolen Army blanket on the grass. A goose stayed close to our "table" just in case, but the only leftovers we had were a couple of french fries that were overlooked in the bottom of the bag.

Then Bob went back to work and I took the children to the commissary. To do THAT any justice would require another post, so I'll stop now.

It's 5:30 on Tuesday and the guy still hasn't come about the oil tank. grrrrrrrrrrrr

Monday, 12 May 2008

Fayre and Fete

Saturday we went to the Snailwell Medieval Fayre. It was hot (about 80*) and sunny, and very little shade on offer. We all got sunburnt. So enough with the complaining, already. As we arrived, some men were doing a hand-to-hand combat, so we watched that. Then we were directed to another arena for a demonstration by S.C.A. They had a couple of guys fighting, but it was mostly about the SCA and how to join, what they do, blah blah. Also the speakers were turned up really loud and the guy was out of breath, shouting into the mic. So we didn't stay very long there, but walked around the tents housing the market and demonstrations.
When we made it back toward the parking lot side we parked in the shade and had a picnic. umm, peanut butter sandwiches! Then there was the children's costume competition. Taryn wore her chemise and skirt that I bought on ebay a while back (she got half-price admission for being in costume), so she joined the competition. She didn't stand a chance. Both prizes (boy and girl) went to the youngest participant.
We walked around the tents again and bought an ice cream, a headband for the girls (I owed them payment for clipping the hedges last week), and a sheepskin. Bob wanted a longbow, but they were pretty pricey. He talked to the men about swords quite a bit. Riah wanted to hold all the swords on display, so that gave Bob and the other guy time to chat. I think the man was glad to have someone knowledgeable to talk to.
It was after 2, and the joust was scheduled to start at 3, but we just couldn't stay any longer. We were all wiped out, getting headachey, so we came home.

After a nap and lots of water we felt better and decided to go to Mildenhall for dinner and a trip to the BXtra. Bob had an idea of getting a fun noodle (swimmy thing) to cut in half for swords for the boys, since their foam pirate swords finally bit the dust.

gotta go, will finish later.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Just thinking

Neighbor Bob was talking to the children yesterday, while Bob and I were inside, listening through the open window. He asked, "Do you like living in England?" They all responded with an enthusiastic, "YES!" Pleased, he said (more of a statement then a question), "Better than America." To which the children chorused, "NO!" Bob and I cracked up. Neighbor Bob reminds me a lot of my dad in the way he teases the children.

I was reading on a blog about a daughter becoming engaged. This family has such a romanticized view of life that they even staged the proposal to match a scene from Pride and Prejudice. I wonder if they are out of touch with reality, and the daughter will be in for a rude awakening, or if they have somehow managed to create a lovelier world (and if so, how?).

On a similar note, my friend Ganieda has been talking about beauty in literature. And I wonder how much beauty is necessary. Don't I encourage the girls to wear cotton dresses instead of fluffy fragile things, so they can play and not tear them up? But isn't one of the reasons we wear dresses in the first place because they are lovelier and ore delicate than jeans?

Are beauty and romanticism unique to the feminine nature? Is a dreamy and soft spoken man effeminate? Is a strong, not-afraid-to-get-dirty woman masculine?

I think about the "plain" folks - Amish, quaker, etc, who all dress simply, with the same style and color in each community. But then they make those lovely quilts... Are beauty and usefulness at odds with each other? Where do we balance? Or is simplicity beautiful in itself?

Anywho, just thinking.

The weather remains absolutely gorgeous. It is 78* now, at 2:30pm, and sunny.

Saturday we are going to Snailwell's Medieval Fayre - about 5 miles from here. And Sunday Cheveley church is having a family fete. Hopefully they will be nice.

Yesterday Bob ran out of Nutella, so we went to Tesco, and I got some groceries. It's fun to go in a store by myself, but I guess I miss the company because I talk to myself.

Need to get Taryn on her school.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Hanging out

We're still here.
The weather has been beautiful this week. Upper 60's, sunny... I've had the windows open in the house all day; we went to the park both days.

Spring is so pretty here. Words fail. Some of the pictures might give an idea, but they don't convey the smells, feelings... I feel sorry for people who live in Texas their whole life.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Staying local

Bob picked our destination for yesterday, and he picked the closest big thing he could find. We went to the Audley End House, which is about 30 minutes from here. Well, Google maps says it is. But we went a different way, so it took a little longer, but still it was not too far. Knowing it was so close, and didn't open til 10, we had a leisurely morning getting ready, and even gave Ella a bath before we left.

In case you don't click on the link, I will tell you about it. They have a newly opened "service wing" where the servants worked - a dairy, laundry, and kitchen. When I say newly opened, I mean they were packing down the walking surfaces as we arrived; someone said this was the first day. There were several actors in period costume (supposed to be 1880 - I don't know why I use the phrase "period costume" - that's so dorky. Which period?) - two laundry maids, a dairy maid, a cook and scullery maid, plus a gardener. They were really into the characters, not just standing there going "The cook would have been..."

So the first thing we saw was the laundry. It was about empty when we got there, so we looked around at the sinks and washboards, and the head laundress started talking to us. She comes from a laundry background, and makes 20 pounds per year. She asked if we were interested in the trade, and so we played along and said we'd been thinking of finding work for Taryn. She seemed keen on the idea, but said we'd have to talk to the housekeeper.

Next was the dairy. The dairy maid was busy trying to work a new churn, outside, so we got to explore the room alone. Lots of heavy milk pans, some butter molds and whatnot. We stepped outside to see the churn which they were trying to seal by filling with boiling water to make the wood swell. Yeah. But the fire wasn't going good in the kitchen, so the water wasn't quite boiling.

The gardener was there, and asked if we were coming to dinner with the Braybrooks (lord and lady of the house) or... We said we had talked to the laundress about employment. "Oh," he says, "You don't want to work with Eliza - she's a Methodist and tries to convert everybody. Did you know Methodists SING in church?!" He was very talkative and knew all the gossip around.

Then we went through the kitchen, but it was quite crowded, and the cook was all in a tizzy because the fire wasn't going, and the Braybrooks were coming home earlier than planned. But she did show Naysha how to knead the bread dough.

So we decided to go into the 'big house' because they close at 2:30 and we didn't want to miss it. Well, the tone was different in the house. We knew enough to park the stroller outside without being told, but we didn't realize there was no photography allowed in the house. SO first thing Bob was going to take a picture, when a guide came rushing up, "No pictures!" Oh, well! There was an introductory talk to begin in 5 minutes, so we waited for that, and as we waited we got to see this guide nearly tackle some people to try to stop the photography. Seems like it'd be a lot easier to put up a sign, or maybe just tell people as they come in the front gate. So that was kind of off-putting. Then one of the boys tried to sit in a chair, of all things! Gasp! I would have got him down, but the guide saw him first, "No, no!" Yikes. Then we see another guide helping a visitor put rubber caps over the heels of her shoes, because stiletto heels are not allowed, either.

So the talk began. The talker was very quiet, so we had to strain to hear, but it was nice to know some of the history of the house. She ended her talk with the desire that we would "see the house, not as a museum, but as the family home it really was." Right. Family home where you can't touch, sit, photo, wear shoes....

But we made it through the house, which really is quite interesting. There are two library rooms, a couple of bedrooms, several other rooms (dining, drawing, etc), and several rooms full of displays of stuffed birds and small animals. One case of hummingbirds. Riah couldn't get over the fact that someone killed all those animals, though we tried to explain that was how people learned about them. There were guides in most of the rooms to answer questions, and most were friendly and informative, though one did yell at somebody because their cell phone rang. We had to keep after the children to not touch anything, stay on the path, etc. It was a little stressful. But as we were toward the end of the tour a man who was behind us complimented us on our well-behaved children. I said, "We try." He responded that many people don't. True. But anyway he thought they did very well, and it was nice to see a family like ours. Big sigh of relief. We haven't got that in a little while, though we used to hear it all the time.

By the time we finished the house we were famished, so headed to the car for our lunch, which we ate on a blanket in the grass. When we first started taking lunches with us, I thought it was a hillbilly thing and felt funny about it, but there are dozens of people picnicking all over.

After lunch we went back toward the house to use the toilets, and then we walked around the grounds. There were formal flower beds with a water fountain in the middle, a "wilderness" with trees and wildflowers, and a large meadow with a "folly" at the top of the hill. Then down the hill, and I remembered there was supposed to be a kitchen garden, too. It was down a path on the other side of the house, past the creek. The kitchen garden was inside a brick wall maybe12 feet high, and it was HUGE. There were all kinds of fruit trees along the walls, and around the beds on wires. There were two BIG greenhouses, a vineyard, and lots of veges. A lot of things that I couldn't identify. Most were marked with variety but not type.

This part of the story described a lot faster, but it was a good half of the day, and we got our exercise in with all the walking and pushing and carrying.

About 5 minutes down the road was a big old barn, that Bob and Taryn and I saw when we were here for a week in 2000. That took about 15 minutes, as there really isn't anything there but the barn and a few info panels.

We stopped for a minute in a little village between the barn and the house that had some very interesting old buildings, and Bob took some pictures. Then we came home and had the chicken I roasted Friday night, with mashed potatoes, biscuits, and green beans. Yummy, but late.

I think we were all ready for bed by the time we got there.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Not panicking

Considering the joys of many young children, I'm surprised at myself for being okay today.

Cedwryck has been dry at night since he first started going in the toilet. So we figured we were wasting pull-ups on him, and he may as well sleep in his underwear. Ahem. This morning when I opened the boys' room door (the signal that it's 7am and okay for them to get up) I was overwhelmed with this SMELL. It wasn't just a bowel movement, it was a big, sicky runny bowel movement. All down his leg and over the sheets and pillow and blanket... He was still asleep, so I called Bob to help me, and started prepping the bathroom. We woke him up, stripped him down, and Bob showered him while I stripped the bed. Then Riah woke up, and he'd peed all over his bed (even with a pull-up), so I sent him on to the bathtub, too. When the boys got out, I rinsed Ced's sheets, and got the washer started.

Ella has chicken pox.

William has chicken pox.

I had a chicken thawed out to marinade and roast.

Bob was going to be home early again.

I was supposed to find something for us to do this afternoon, and maybe for tomorrow.

And all day I was just going through the motions, not getting all worried and panicky. When I stopped and thought about it, I was surprised that I was acting like it was all normal.


Bob got home just before lunch. The sheets were clean, though not put back on the beds. The chicken was happily marinating. The children were happy.
We had lunch and got ready to go... somewhere. It was kind of drizzly, not too cold. I thought of a couple outside things to do, and we decided to risk it. Made our way to Bury St Edmunds on the back roads, just enjoying the drive and the flowers. At one point we stopped for a picture, and a car came up from behind; the driver rolled down his window and asked if we were lost. How nice!
Once in Bury it took us 3 tries to find a doable parking lot (close to the abbey and with a business that would give change for the parking meter), but we did it. Just in time for the rain to start. So we sat in the car for awhile, where Ced woke up and cried that his belly hurt. The rain let up, and we figured things would be better outside. So we went across the street, stopping at the public toilet, and then on to the abbey ruins and park. This is just behind the cathedral that we went to in December with the newcomers' orientation tour, but it was too cold and hurried then to go outside.
I'm glad we went. It was SO beautiful, with beds of flowers, and the ruins, and then the children saw IT - a playground. So we let them play until our hour of parking was up, then back to the toilets, then the car, and away we went.

We made our way to Mildenhall for gas for tomorrow, and dinner at the food court.

Stopped at Newmarket's Tesco for bread and milk before coming home.

Now the chicken is in the oven, the children are in bed, and I'm still doing okay. God is good.