Saturday, 26 December 2009

A very merry Christmas

So Bob was working the night shift on Wednesday night. He got home about 2am Thursday, and woke up about 10am. By 11, we were ready to go.

First stop, Tesco. The pictures were in, so I got those and a jar of Nutella while Bob circled the parking lot. Then we went to RAF Mildenhall. We had lunch there, using 3 "free bread stick" coupons that we'd earned by shopping a few weeks ago. We also used a deal where we bought a $25 gift card and got a free combo meal. So all together it was one of the cheaper meals we've eaten out lately.

Then we went into the store. I'd had an idea about letting the children buy something for each other, and Bob thought it was a good idea, so we went with that. Bob wandered the store with the group, while I took one child at a time to buy a $10 gift for another child. Taryn was indecisive, so it took awhile, but we finally finished. We headed back to RAF Lakenheath by way of Undley, so I could stop at the veg stand there for eggs. It's a little out of the way, but not much, and they have the best and the cheapest (good) eggs I've seen anywhere. (I can get cheaper at Tesco, but they taste like fish.)

We discussed going home to leave the family, and just I going to the commissary, but decided to all go together, as we'd been hours in the BX but not together. Turns out it was a good decision, because they locked up just after we got there. We got the necessary things - milk, butter, grapes, pretzels. :-) Also picked up some chicken cordon blue (I didn't spell that right, did I?) for dinner.

So we came home, cooked the chicken, had dinner... Got the children in bed just after 8, and then our work began. With my back being funny all week I hadn't done any wrapping, so it was all done Christmas Eve. Bob helped. My brother and sister-in-law sent gifts straight from Target, so we wrapped those, our few, and the children's. I also made a coffee cake for breakfast. Elijah (and Bob and I) got to sleep about 1am.

Christmas morning we woke up before 6, and I heard stirring in the other room so we went ahead and got up. First we let the children open the gifts from Wil and Marline, and then play with those for a bit while I fixed breakfast. Then we got dressed and did the rest of the presents. Here's the rundown:

Taryn: Webkinz horse from Wil and Marline, coin purse from Aunt Heather, 2 books from us (Lois Lenski's "Judy's Journey" and "Robinson Crusoe"), lawn darts from Naysha, and a Wii game Littlest Pet Shop to share with Naysha, from us.

Naysha: Tea set from Wil and Marline, coin purse from Aunt Heather, purse and a string of colored lights from us, a small chocolate fountain from Taryn.

Riah: wooden build-a-train kit from Wil and Marline, transformer car/robot from Aunt Heather, a spider robot thing from us, a Nerf ball from Cedwryck, and a Wii hunting game to share with Cedwryck, from us.

Cedwryck: Hot Wheels car track from Wil and Marline, transformer from Aunt Heather Tonka steamroller from us, a stuffed dog from Riah.

Ella: Purse from Wil and Marline, coin purse from Aunt Heather, Faith Friends doll from us, a stuffed horse and a pack of bubbles from William.

William: dump truck from Wil and Marline, transformer from Aunt Heather, a shape sorter gas pump from us, and a "Cars" playground ball from Ella.

All the children got a Wii M&M racing game to share.

Bob: a Wii game "Sports Resort" from me, and a bag of Reese Cups candy from Riah.

Me: a rice cooker/steamer, a bucket organizer, a musical nativity, a snowman on a bicycle, and a box of Hickory Farms smoked cheese with crackers and sausage.

It's a long list considering we only bought 1 thing for each child, plus a couple to share.

In order to maintain peace, we opted for supper instead of lunch. We feasted! Ham with cloves and brown sugar glaze, roast potatoes, homemade rolls, grape salad (3 lbs of grapes mixed with cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar), and stir fry carrots, leeks, and brussels sprouts. I was able to serve everything on Polish pottery, and it looked nice. We ate it all except for 5 rolls and some of the stir fry. We took a little break, and then went back for dessert. We had planned fondue, and then when Naysha got her fountain we were going to use it. But it is battery powered and we don't have the correct size. So back to fondue. I made the sauce by heating 1 c cream, then adding 1 pkg chocolate chips and most of a jar of caramel ice cream topping. WoW it was rich! For dippers we had pound cake, peanut butter balls, pretzels, fresh bananas, clementines, and pineapple. We each got our own small bowl of chocolate, so we didn't mess the whole pot. It was so good.

Then it was bedtime, and we were glad.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

so far so good


Bob is going to retire next year. He went to a pre-separation briefing Tuesday.

This allowed him to come home 'early' Monday night - about 2am.

He got home from the briefing in time to take Taryn to her Dr appt. It's not infected. Then he rubbed my back. my hero!

Tues night he worked from 5:30pm to 5am. Then today (Wed) he slept on the couch while I took Riah and Elijah to Cambridge for Riah's Dr apt. Riah has a faulty valve in his heart, and he goes once a year to a cardiologist to monitor it. Things looked the same as before; he's still "healthy" but needs checking on. It was my first time driving to Cams, and it turned out fine. Traffic wasn't bad at all; being holidays I guess people are getting up late. Snow is still on the ground, but the roads off base are clear. Sunrise over the snow-covered horse pastures by Newmarket was amazing.

After the dr we stopped at Tesco in Newmarket in hopes of picking up pictures we'd ordered online. They were promised done by noon; I was there at 11 and "the delivery man hasn't come yet today." I asked when he was expected. "When he gets here." At my incredulous look I was told that there isn't a set time, and anyway with this weather it would be unpredictable. She did say "sorry" though so I guess it's all okay. In the states this type service would be out of business in a month. But here demand far exceeds supply so any sorry sort of service will get all the customers it can stand.

We made it home just before lunch; Bob ordered pizza. He went to bed about 1, woke up at 4:30, and to work at 5:15. He hopes they will get off at midnight as they should.

My back still catches in some positions, and I can't lift anything, but just walking isn't too bad.

Did I ever post that we had a WIC apt on Saturday? It was originally for today, but we rescheduled when Riah's dr apt came in, and WIC was open Saturday to help out before Christmas. As Bob was working anyway I decided it would work. Bob even got off for lunch and met us down there. That was my first time driving on snow. I kept it nice and slow, and everything was fine. Anyway, Elijah (at 6 weeks) weighed in at 13lbs 1 oz. Wow. I think Taryn was 6 months old before she weighed that much.

Elijah has a cold now. :-( He is hoarse and his cry is so pathetic. Good thing he doesn't cry much anyway. He has a phlegmy cough, and a stuffy nose. Appetite isn't bothered by it, though he is sleeping more.

And now, as we are planning to do the shopping tomorrow that I was going to do Mon and Tues, I'm supposed to do my Christmas baking prep tonight. so I'm off.

(Sorry about the abbreviations and etc; Elijah is asleep on my lap and I'm trying to hurry.)

Monday, 21 December 2009

oh boy

So since y'all like my griping...

Bob had to work 7am to 8pm Saturday and Sunday. Then he had to go see the commander today at 7:30am, and he works tonight from 7pm to 7am.

Yesterday about 12:30 I was changing a diaper and turned slightly, and my back went out. I barely made it to my couch, and stayed there til Bob got home at 8:20. Well, I got up once for a drink, and decided that was a bad idea, and I lowered myself to the floor and back a few times to change more diapers.

Taryn is my right hand girl; she got dinner for us, and helped around a lot. But she has an earache, and eventually it got her down.

This morning we decided to try to get Taryn an appointment in case it's infected, and after 20 minutes on hold I got through and got an appointment at 9:30. I hoped Bob would be back by then.
But now, about 8am, Bob called to say his meeting is at 8:30, not 7:30. So I'm now on hold again to cancel the appt I just made!

So here we are. Bob's unavailable, I can't walk, and Taryn doesn't want to... Easy fix foods are running low... Christmas is in 4 days... AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And Elijah is stuffy now, and I've gone hoarse as of yesterday. lovely.

Friday, 18 December 2009


The temperature dropped along with the snow all day yesterday. (It finally got down to freezing early this morning.) After dinner the snow began to accumulate, but mean ol' Mama wouldn't let the children go out. I knew they wouldn't stay long, and I didn't want to deal with the mess for such a short play. So I told them they could go out in the morning if the snow was still there. It was nice to watch the snow blow by from the warm, dry house.

The humidifier died. It was one I bought at Goodwill several years ago, and I liked it because it was hot mist; very helpful in the winter, which is when we usually want one. (Does that make sense? Most modern humidifiers are cool mist, but winter is when I usually use one, and who wants to make things colder in the winter?) Several times it has smelled hot, and we just unplugged it for a day or two, but last night I heard a pop, looked up and saw a cloud of smoke coming from it. Yikes! It blew the circuit breaker, which is probably what I heard. Made the house stinky for awhile, but didn't set off the fire alarm.

Bob got to come home on time, thanks to the snow. The people who live far away got to go home early.

The Christmas schedule was finally decided. Bob has weekend duty this weekend, and will work 12 hours (at night) on Mon-Wed next week, but be off Christmas Eve and Day. And he's supposed to be off all New Year's week, while those who were off Christmas week have to work 12s.
It dawned on us that that means I will have to take Riah to Cambridge by myself on Wednesday for his Cardiologist appointment. yea-a. I think I'll do Park and Ride, and really it won't be *that* bad. I just have to allow an extra hour for traffic and bus times.

Monday I'll probably take the children over to the BXtra, as they want to buy presents for each other. That will at least give Bob a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep. Don't know what to do Tuesday...

SO I was wondering, and I'd like as many opinions as possible, do I complain too much? How does that make you feel? I have an acquaintance with a blog, and every time she writes it is negative and depressing. Makes me want to slap her around and tell her to toughen up and get on with it; life isn't ALL bad. And then I wondered if I have the same effect on other people. I could give excuses and explanations, but I really just want to know what you think.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

irritants and good stuff

Sunday night we went up to the BX to get more Polish Pottery at 50% off, and they were closed. It was the staff Christmas party, planned for months; they just failed to notify the customers.

So we went on to eat, and everyone except William wanted Popeye's chicken. They were closed, too. So we ate at Burger King.

Monday we went back to the BX, and all the pottery was gone. Taryn says I should be glad I got what I did, and I am, but still! I was gonna get something for my sis and sis-in-law.

Monday night Elijah wouldn't settle down to sleep, so I brought him downstairs so Bob could sleep. I eventually got a couple of hours with him on the couch. And yes, it is hard for a person of my size to get comfy on a loveseat.

Tuesday Bob was on day shift, and when he got home we went to Newmarket to Tesco for prints, as he had a photo shoot on Saturday. I looked before we left, and their hours are open until 8pm, depending on staff. No phone number to call and check first. So, of course, they were closed (the photo center, not the whole store). So we ate at Burger King in town, and came home.

On the plus side:
Burger King in town makes awesome burgers.

It's cold enough to snow, but a lot warmer than "back home."

Bob is going to day shift in Jan, and signed up for a college class. It should be enough to get him an Associates degree.

My new dishwasher is really cool. (oh, non-facebook people, on Monday Uncle Sam gave us - and everyone else on our street - new appliances. Stove, fridge, washer and dryer were pretty similar to the old ones, but the dishwasher is a top-of-the-line Bosch.) Instead of a silverware basket, it has a silverware drawer on top of the other 2 drawers.

Elijah isn't bothered by the cold that everyone else has.

The cream puffs were really good.

I've found a new preacher to listen to. Makes me think.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

honorable mention

It has occurred to me that I don't talk a lot about Elijah. There's a simple explanation; he's no trouble!
At 5 weeks old, Elijah has developed a nice routine. He goes to sleep about 10:30pm, wakes up twice in the night to eat. (If I wake him up on the way to bed we are awake until 12 or 1am). I get up at 6:30, bringing him downstairs with me, where he sleeps on the sofa a good deal of the morning. (Sometimes I do, too). He alternates naps and awake time throughout the day. Every time he wakes up he stretches and dirties his diaper, and when he's done with that he wants to eat. (Some babies want to eat as soon as they wake up, and poo while eating or immediately after.)

Elijah fusses remarkably little. He lets me know he needs something, but doesn't cry just for the fun of it (as SOME babies have done: not to name names, but their initials spell T-a-r-y-n and R-i-a-h). :-D He enjoyed his first bath the other day, and is just generally a very good baby. Sigh of contentment. Cedwryck was my first "good" baby, and they seem to get better each time.
Elijah is also a polite nurser, not chewing or fussing at all, and he eats at reasonable intervals (more in the evening as he gears up for a long sleep). What else can I say? He has peed on us a few times, but that's not really his fault. Anyway, he gets Bob a lot more than me. :-D

My pelvis is still not back to normal. I'm trying to work up to making a Dr appointment, maybe get some X-rays... And working on eating healthier. Bob is hoping to go back to day shift, which would make it easier for me to have a balanced dinner. But that thought leads down another path, which isn't about Elijah, so I'll hush for now.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

not quite as planned

Okay. So we got a couple of orders for prints from the Christmas party. While our printer did a good job on the 4x6s, we thought we'd better send off for 8x10s. And, my friend wanted to go to Bury and I thought we could all go together. So Monday night Bob tried Jessops for the prints. The upload and order system was much easier to use than Tesco's, and I thought we had a winner. Then it came time to pay, and that was a little complicated, but finally worked. Also, more expensive than Tesco. (Right, because Tesco in Bury doesn't have a photo lab, and there is a Jessops there. Jessops is a national chain camera store.) The site eventually (after much digging) said that the sizes we ordered would take 1 day.

So Wednesday morning Bob got up early - 9:45 - and we got ready to go. I called my friend, and she wanted to go to Brandon first, so decided to drive herself and we'd try to meet up in Bury. Then I thought we'd better check, so we looked on Jessops' website, and the pics were printed, but hadn't arrived in store yet. Oh, now it tells us that it's 1 day to print, and 1-3 days to be delivered to the store. thanks. So we stopped to think and decided that we didn't have a compelling reason to go to Bury (especially as we'd be going Thursday or Saturday to get the pictures).
In the meantime, Referral Management called with Riah's cardiologist appointment - Friday morning! I told Bob and he said no can do on Friday; as he has a 12-14 hour shift every Friday night he didn't want to get up early and take us to Cambridge in the morning. So I called them back and had it changed to the 23rd. Which was when I'd had a WIC appointment, so I still need to change that.

Well, there we were all dressed up and nowhere to go. That would never do! We decided to go to Mildenhall to look for Fry's chocolate for my dad. We got parking downtown, and the first store we tried had it, though a little higher than I expected. Wanting to keep our change for parking next time, we used the 5pound note I'd got for Dad to buy his candy. Oops. I'll have to look again for a new fiver and send it in a card.
Then we went on to the two thrift stores in town (didn't get anything).

After that we went to RAF Mildenhall for lunch at the BXtra. After a decent lunch (Riah spilled water and Ella spilled chocolate shake) we spied another friend and had a little visit, and then walked through the store. I got some new kitchen washcloths, as I'm now changing them out every day. But that took too long, so we were unable to go over to the bowling alley to sign up for Cedwryck's birthday party, or get gas, or take the long way home and get farm fresh eggs at the roadside veg stand (which I suspect is owned by church people - they have a farm on that road, anyway). So we came home and Bob got ready for work.

I put the littles down for a nap, but it was nice and warm so I let the big ones play outside instead of doing book work.

After an early supper we got our shoes and coats back on and headed out. I had a big list of things to do, so kept whittling down to a manageable list. But as I went by the post office it was still open, so I put that back on the list. Okay, first stop, thrift store (open in the pm on Wednesday). I got a snowman puzzle (because you know I'm always doing puzzles, with so many babies running around), a travel book, and a wraparound skirt (that's for Taryn to play in). Going in there I couldn't find my envelope of ones that I'd put in my bag. When I checked out I realized I forgot to bring my bag full of shopping bags I'd planned to take up there for their use and my kitchen space.
Then a run to the commissary for one more item to fill Mom and Dad's Christmas box. Then out to the car to tape it up. But I ran out of tape, so back in for tape. Then back to the post office, which was now closed. It bothers me logically because they didn't close on an hour (it was after 5 when they were open, and before 6 when they were closed), but I was okay with it emotionally because I'd already decided I wasn't going to get that done that trip. Then I took the paperwork for the MR2 to Bob at work, because one of his "guys" is buying it. Bob asked me to get him a new photo magazine. Elijah was waking up, so I stopped at the shoppette and nursed him in the car, in the parking lot. Then realized it's the other shoppette that has the magazines.

So Elijah was happy again, and we went to the BX. Everybody had to use the toilets. The British gift shop didn't have anything I wanted to buy, to get a fiver back in change. So into the store, where the first thing I see is 50% off the Christmas pattern Polish pottery. Oh, yeah. As the cart was already full of people and coats and bags, I got another cart, made a bed in the back for ELijah and started piling pottery in the front. :-) As it turned out, the big pieces were already marked at half price, and the cashier took off another 50% at checkout. So good deals. We also may or may not have found something for Bob's birthday. At checkout Elijah just lay on my arm (he'd got fussy earlier and I picked him up) and looked around. It impressed the cashier no end.

Then we went to the "Shoppette without gas" to get a magazine. I left the children in the van, and it's just as well, since they have expanded their porn selection without expanding the vision barriers. grrr. Anyway, I got two magazines and a sudoku book. And home again in time for Bible and bed.

ANd now Bob's up and we ARE going to Bury. Maybe tomorrow I'll make it to the bowling alley and veg stand. :-)

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Christmas parties

Saturday was Bob's work Christmas party. He'd been asked to take portraits, and agreed. That's when we bought the light kit and backdrop stand. So anyway, we asked friends (she comments here as "Mom" and "kitchenqueen") to come supervise our oldest 6 children while Bob, Elijah, and I went to the party, and they agreed. Mrs. and 3 of her children came to play while Mr. took their baby home for a nap. Bob and I high-tailed it outta there.

We arrived at the "O Club" and went in to look for a place to set up. Hmmm. One corner was taken by the live band; the other corner was a doorway in front of the bar. The main room was solid tables. There was *some* space alongside the buffet, but we were hesitant about that. The kind ladies working there really tried to find a solution. Finally we settled on an unused room just down the hall from the main party. It was roomy, quiet (that live band was getting loud in their warm-up), and there was a lovely tree all decorated and ready to make a nice prop. Phew, that was settled in time to avert an all-out panic. But then we looked around and realized that the room only had 220v outlets. We purposely bought 110v lights because we want to take them back home with us when we leave here. The ladies started racking their brains for where we could get a transformer - they didn't have one, but maybe the "E club"?? Bob was ready to run over to the BX and buy one ($100), when one lady said, "why don't you unplug the Christmas tree?" Sure enough, it was running off a transformer. Oh, sweet relief. I'd really thought Bob was about to cry.

We'd just got set up when people began to arrive. We prepared for a rush, and got nothing. The people at the front table kept forgetting to tell people we were back there. The ladies who helped us get started posed for a group shot, and then a few others came in. We never got swamped, but we did a few. I even took two shots myself, as Bob went for a walkabout in the main party room. We processed the pictures as we took them, and printed out a 4x6 for each couple. It was fun to be working (and have it work!), to be out with just us, to talk to adults.
The children called at bedtime, because William started crying for mama. :-( He's so precious. We finished up, tracked down the couples to get their prints (and hopefully order more), then packed up and came home after stopping for a Cinnabon at the BX midnight madness sale (nothing on sale).

Then Sunday. The morning meeting was a children's service, where the different classes show what they've learned, and the children's minister got to preach a little. Then we came back home for a couple of hours, and back to church at 4pm. It was the church Christmas party. The dining room was carefully guarded, so we joined the mingle in the sanctuary. One couple was taking portraits of each family, and Bob got his camera out to get our own copy of our family. Instant camera envy! And a good deal of bonding; Bob told me later that a dinner invitation is in the works. :-D Anyway, after the pictures and visiting, it was time for dinner.
We were shown to our table (place cards and all), all glimmering in candle light. To keep a long story less long, we were served in stages. First, soup and bread. Then roast organic turkey with yorkshire pudding, stuffing balls, roast and mashed potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. After plenty of time to eat there was a break where each table offered an entertainment. The Bible school table took turns singing Jingle Bells, each in his native tongue. The youth did a rap. The drama team did a 1 minute skit. The family to our left had their two infants breakdance on the table. We sang Wil's "Christian Jingle Bells." I was afraid we didn't have enough volume, but when the rest of the room joined in on the chorus I knew we had a winner. Then came dessert - "Christmas Pudding" (bowl-shaped fruitcake) and "chocolate cheesecake" (no-bake cheesecake with chocolate curls on top) served with both pouring cream and custard (vanilla pudding). Then came fresh fruit salad. Yeah, not where I'd have put it, but the children devoured ours. Next was cheese and crackers (we wished the cheese had labels so we could learn what they were), and finally coffee and chocolate candy. Oh yeah, and those round after dinner mints. Believe it or not, we didn't feel painfully stuffed. I suppose this is because of the time intervals between courses.

Once, Ella decided to go to the restroom by herself. We figured it was all right; Taryn was already there, and Ella was familiar with the building. But the setup must have thrown her off, because she went prancing past the door to the hall and toilets, head held high right past the serving counter, and into a storage closet! I just laughed, but Bob went to her rescue. William thought it was all a little weird and wouldn't eat anything other than his bread. The grandmotherly lady to his right couldn't stand that, and tried to help him out. At first he resisted, but before long they were good friends and she'd taught him to blow kisses.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

or this...

You're I, Robot!

by Isaac Asimov

While you have established a code of conduct for many generations to
follow, your demeanor is rather cold and calculating. Brought up to serve humans, you
have promised never to harm them, to follow orders, and to protect yourself. Living up
to this code has proved challenging and sometimes even drives you mad. If you were a
type of paper, you would be pulp.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.


You're The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman!

by Laurence Sterne

You are a fan of many people, but most of all, you like yourself.
A whole lot. Easily distracted and generally unfocused, you have a hard time
communicating anything clearly or directly. However, most people find you funny
and engaging despite your tendency to wander off subject. Though later
generations may think of you as ahead of your time, most of your contemporaries
think you're an idiot. If your life were a movie, it would star Will Farrell. In
a wig.

Take the Book Quiz II
at the Blue Pyramid.

Monday, 30 November 2009

picture of the crowd

I hope. Bob took this picture of the crowd pushing through the Abbey gate in Bury on Saturday.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

the Bury fayre

What a deal!

We'd decided on Friday that we wanted to go to Bury on Saturday. I was glad to see the sky was still clear when we got up. But by the time Bob got up, it was cloudy. We pressed on. After a "tea party" lunch we got ready to go. By the time we got from the front door to the car door (about 5 steps) we were freezing, but we pressed on. We hadn't made it out of the neighborhood before it started drizzling, but we pressed on. When we arrived at the temporary park n ride, we first saw the big queue of people waiting for the bus, but we pressed on. Then we saw the entrance to the parking lot was height restricted, so we pressed on into town. It wasn't long before we realized we were in a queue of cars headed to the parking lot, so we pressed on. After an hour in queue, we arrived at the parking lot. The main lot was full, but there was ONE spot in the motorhome area, so we grabbed it with the blessing of the attendant/traffic director guy. First thing, Bob went to the toilet and to pay for parking. I got Elijah out of his seat to try to feed him before we got out, but he didn't wake up. Bob came back, realizing that we ahd no money for the parking ticket machine, but we pressed on. He walked across the parking lot to a pub, where he bought a coke and got change. By this time Elijah was waking up, and we pressed on. Bob took the older children to the toilet while William pretended to drive and I changed Elijah and fed him. Then we pressed on. ;-)

All bundled with coats, hats, gloves, and a scarf or two, we headed toward the town center. We went through the Abbey gardens, having heard there were vendors there. Huddled together in a small area near the wall were a couple dozen tents of various descriptions. Selling bread, sausages, pashminas, candle-powered boats, fudge... The area was nicely covered with outdoor carpet for easy passage, and with the people and lights it was much warmer there. Not finding anything to buy, we pressed on. Being a walled garden, everybody in there had to go in and out through the one gate. It's a nice big gate, but there were an awful lot of people. We literally pressed through the gate and up the hill toward the market. There were a couple of rows of vendors in the area that's normally Angel Hill parking lot, but we just went through there and toward the regular market area. It got less crowded as we went, but still more people than a regular Saturday. It was only 3pm, and with all that crowd we figured the market would be going longer than usual, and some were, but the magazine man was already packed up when we got to him. :-( Anyway, we got some fruit and broccoli, and then had dinner at McDonald's. It has been remodeled and now has even fewer tables than before, with the result that strangers share tables. As we take up a whole large table, we had to wait a little to claim one, and then had to fend off numerous hungry people from the empty chairs as we took turns in the upstairs toilets. One old woman just about got in a fist fight with me over Riah's seat.
After eating we went back down the hill toward the fayre. But even with the offer of one adult staying with the children while the other shopped, neither Bob nor I wanted to press through the crowds to check out the tents. The rows were about 6 feet apart, and it was stuffed end to end with people about 8 wide. So after taking a few pictures we went around the concert stage and headed back toward the bus, taking a different route than before, past the carnival rides. After a few more pictures we made it back to the bus, where we were surprised to find it was only 5:15. Elijah woke up on being put into his cold car seat, but quieted down right away, and we had an uneventful drive home.

As it was still early, Bob went up to the BX for the one day specials (a Wii game with steering wheel for $20) while the children did dancing shows for my entertainment. Then Bible time and bed for all but Bob, Elijah, and me. We got to sleep about 1am. Elijah and I were awake from 3-4am, and got up at 6:40. No nap yet, and it's time to get ready for church. Wow! 8:30 already!!

Saturday, 28 November 2009


When talking to a friend a couple of weeks ago, she asked what our plans were for Thanksgiving, and I took it as an invitation. So Thursday we got together for a feast. Their house is bigger, but mine is older and has a yard, so we gathered here - my 9 and her 6. Some might think it would be hard to feed 15 people with a table and chairs for 8 and a two-seater couch, but it worked beautifully.
They brought turkey and dressing, sweet potato casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, and two pies. I made green bean casserole, roast potatoes (both for the first time; turned out great), ham, pumpkin roll, and pudding pie.
We ate soon after their arrival about 2pm, and then the children went out to play for awhile, then upstairs and generally in and out, while the adults visited in the living room. I'm afraid we were fairly dull hosts, as we rarely have opportunity to just chat while the children behave elsewhere, and so aren't very good at it. But I think we were all satisfied with the visit. Maybe we should practice more often.

Yesterday I woke up very tired, and soon crashed on the couch. Bob woke up early, too, but didn't stay long before going back to bed. When he woke up for real, we had lunch and then started getting ready to go. We went to Tesco again, and this time the photo center was open. We got the pictures: cheap, easy, good quality, what we ordered! We shopped around while waiting for development, and got milk and cheese, snack/junk food, fruit. Then brought the cold stuff by the house (and fed the baby and chilled for a little while). Then back out to see if the BX had any sales, and for dinner.

At the BX we each got a scratch card (well, after we proved to the man that there really were 9 of us), winning several orders of breadsticks and two free shirt launderings. I didn't see anything in the sale ad that we wanted, but we walked through just to check. I'd shopped online that morning and found some sales at Sears on boys clothes, and wanted to comparison shop before ordering. Whaddya know? We found boys jeans (in our sizes!) for $8. And the Christmas suits are in, so we got one for Cedwryck for $20. (Riah still has his from his birthday). Asics athletic shoes were half price from 7pm, so I went to see if they had anything. I found one men's pair that fit, and *almost* felt good. After wearing them in store for 15 minutes I decided against them.

I took the children to put on coats and hats while Bob checked out. While checking out, Bob saw a drill he wanted. And when he came out, I checked the receipt and saw that the shirt I bought at 75% off hadn't been discounted. So I took the shirt back in for a price correction and bought the drill, while Bob took the children out to the bus. Then home just in time for bed.

Elijah stayed awake until 1am, woke up to eat at 4, and then I got up at 6:45. Ready to go!! It's 9:30 now and Bob's still asleep. We plan to go to Bury today, as they are having a Christmas Fayre as well as their regular market. Maybe I'll take a nap...

Monday, 23 November 2009

time to talk?

One never knows...

Anyone who has been to our house the last year knows that we had a very sad little loveseat. Two, actually. A blue one that we bought back in '97 or thereabouts, that had very little cushion left, broken boards, no bottom or back... And a green one that was given to us by our neighbors in Cheveley when they needed to make room for guinea pigs. It was pretty comfy, actually, but the cushions were attached by zippers, and most of the zippers were broken, so the cushions were always falling off. Last week while Bob was off work he made two trips to the dump, and now we don't have either of the loveseats.
I have the loveseat we bought soon after moving here, and Bob has his recliner, but the children needed somewhere to sit. So one day we made a trip out to Feltwell to the furniture store. See, I had joked about getting beanbags, and Bob thought it was a good idea. He looked online, and then we went out to the store to see if they had any. Well, they did, cheaper than online, so we got 5 of them - 2 pinks, one black round, and two two-tone long ones. Then we walked through the store just for fun.

While the children took turns in the bathroom, I looked at the refrigerators. There was one by LG, cost over $1000. It had a through-the-door ice and water dispenser. But when I opened the door, it soon became apparent that this wasn't what it appeared. Instead of a little plastic line going through the back to the house water line, providing fresh water on demand through the fridge, there was a small reservoir on top of the fridge door. In the freezer was a fancy little setup for making ice. Not an automatic icemaker, but two mounted icetrays with a lever to turn them out into the bin below, and a system for filling them. Of course Bob didn't have his camera to take a picture of this. I just couldn't get over this top-of-the-line fridge with its stone-age technology.

One thing I forgot to mention in the birth story was the kicking. Elijah was clearly awake throughout labor, and between every contraction he kicked constantly. He is so strong, he literally almost knocked me over a couple of times by the kicking. Made it hard to relax.
On a related note, though Elijah was more than 1 1/2lbs bigger than William, William had bigger feet by nearly an inch. Bigger hands, too, I think, though we didn't measure them.

I'm not sure I want to get started about prints. Oh, it's frustrating! We have got prints from Tesco before, and they usually turn out well. But now we don't live 5 minutes from a Tesco and things get more complicated. They have online stuff, where you can upload photos and order online for pickup or delivery. But they don't use cookies, so any change or delay in the order and all information is lost. Also, their crop tool thing (where you can preview and choose the crop) doesn't work on Firefox (our browser of choice). And, last time we tried it, one picture file (out of 20 that we were ordering) was "corrupted" and it canceled the whole order. So it's not easy to use. Anyway... I ordered some prints from Snapfish about two months ago, and they arrived last week. Can't really blame them for the delay, as it went through military mail. But. Instead of cropping the digital files, they stretched the images to fit the print size. So everyone looks tall and thin, with long heads. And one picture of Cedwryck in a red checked shirt turned out with about 1/4 of the squares black instead of red. What's up with that?? So that was disappointing, and I won't order from them again.
Well, we did those football pics, and got some orders, so we have to print them somehow. Started with Tesco online, but wanted to check the crop. So Bob opened IE, and found the order was gone, so he loaded up again. Looked good; went back to Firefox to place the order, but the page had refreshed, logging him out and erasing the order. And then we saw that the wallets would take 5 days or more to process. So we tried plan B. Loaded the pics onto a flash drive, and went to Brandon. Of course it started to rain as we were getting ready to go. Drove out there, parked, and walked up to the picture store (the rain slowed down). The guy there was very friendly, and worked with us to get everything organized. I hesitated when I saw the posted prices, so he added up everything and gave us a discount - quoted a price of 11GBP and change. So we left the order with him and went to the charity shops and back home. Bob went alone to pick up the prints, while I got the family ready for the homeschool party. When he got back we took a look. 5 of the pictures were ruined by some dirt that apparently fell on them while still wet. The pictures we'd ordered multiples of only had single copies. The pictures Bob had worked to size to 5x7 with white borders to allow for trimming to fit into our frames, were printed out 5x8 and no borders. And the guy had charged 15GBP. So yeah, beyond frustrating.
So Saturday we decided to go to Tesco. Thought we'd check out the one in Bury. It's a bigger store than Newmarket, and less crowded, but they don't have a photo center. So we drove on down to Newmarket, where we discovered that the photo center was closed. As it was only 4pm, Bob asked what the hours were. Turns out they don't even have regular hours now, and just open it whenever they have someone to work. Right. So here we are over a week later, and Bob going back to work, and no prints to deliver.

Oh, how I feel.
When I got up to shower off after delivering Elijah, the first thing I said was "Wow, it feels different to not be pregnant." Though exhausted from lack of sleep, I feel SO MUCH better than I have for the past month or two. My pelvis hasn't gone back to normal yet, and it hurts to turn over in bed or to lift my left leg more than a few inches, but movement is much easier without 15 lbs of direct pressure. I can sit on the couch or a chair. I can bend over to pick up things off the floor! My body has responded faster than my brain, and I still have some re-training to do, to remind myself that I can do things myself rather than having to tell someone else to do it. Another funny thing is that if I stand bent over (at a counter or changing table, for instance) for very long, my lower back goes sort of numb and tingly. hmmm. My appetite has returned, but I'm not ravenous. Acne has returned and body odor has escalated.

Today is the beginning of our new normal, and so far I haven't made a good start, spending all morning on the computer. But I had some catching up to do! I hope to start walking today. There's also school and house work, grocery shopping, and Thanksgiving on Thursday. :-) Maybe we'll do normal next week. Either way, I need to get off the computer.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

things I want to post about

Just a reminder note to myself. :-)

1. the fridge at the store

2. how I feel while not pregnant

3. getting prints

4. bean bags

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


Couple other pregnancy/birth details:

1. I gained a total of 22 lbs this pregnancy. So far I have lost 16 of that.

2. Elijah was born without any birthmarks or abnormalities, except one. When I first held him I saw what I thought was a piece of fuzz from the blanket stuck in the fold of his eyelid. I couldn't get it off and asked Bob to. He gave it a tug and announced that it was connected. Sure enough, Elijah had one eyebrow hair about an inch long. Bob cut it, but I'm afraid it's growing back again. 8-O

Sunday, 15 November 2009


Fair warning: this is the birth story, with as close as I can get to all the gory details. So if you don't like that sort of thing, just skip this post.

I’ve said it jokingly, but I really feel that I was in “early labor” for at least a week. I’d become increasingly uncomfortable; Elijah was sitting low, head engaged. But the first real, painful contractions came on Thursday afternoon. Even after they stopped, I didn’t feel well, and Bob came home early.
Friday morning I had contractions for awhile, but they stopped when I lay down, again. Then things started rumbling again Friday evening. I was busy getting the children to bed and so couldn’t lie down for awhile. I’d just got them settled, and was coming into the living room to rest when I noticed Bob’s computer was on. I asked Taryn who turned it on, and she said, “Daddy.” Then I saw his bags. He’d snuck around to the bathroom when I went through the kitchen for a drink. Home early again! (we hadn’t talked on the phone or anything) He kept trying to talk to me about football pictures, and I just kept trying to not have contractions.

After sending Taryn to bed at 9, I mentioned to Bob that I was feeling things. We decided to watch the latest “Smallville” and then see how I felt. It was a good show, but didn’t stop labor. So about 10:30 I told Bob to go ahead and call Jo, as things were going slowly, but going. I headed into the den and lay down. Jo came, took my vitals, and settled down to watch. She couldn’t tell when I was having contractions by my reactions, so asked me to let her know. The next contraction, I told her, but then didn’t bother. We decided it might be awhile.

Bob got Jo a pillow and blanket; she settled on the couch; he went to the living room; I zoned out as much as possible on the floor. A clicking noise irritated me no end – perhaps the heater coming on and off – I finally ‘woke up’ enough to mention it to Jo, who apparently asked Bob to put on some music. We’d had some on earlier, but it was a “bonus DVD” (iWorship) and only had 3 songs on it – Creator King, Days of Elijah, and All the Earth Will Sing. So I suggested Ginny Owens, knowing where the CD was, and Bob kept them alternating the rest of the night. The tv was our source of light and music; I had the space heater on in the bathroom; everything else was dark and quiet.

Not long after, I went to the bathroom and actually worked a Sudoku puzzle. I lay back down, trying to stay relaxed and let the contractions do their work. I nearly dozed off a couple of times, and thought about everything and nothing, including my virtual farm on Facebook. Contractions were lasting about 90 seconds, and every one brought strong pressure on my pelvis. Finally I had to do something, so tried to use the toilet again. This time it didn’t go so well. When I got up the contractions and the pressure were so intense, I lost nearly all control of myself. I couldn’t sit on the toilet, but squatted over it and cried. Jo was wondering if I was going to deliver there. I noticed I was bleeding a little, and thought Jo should know, but as I was freaked out she thought I was freaked out about the blood. She checked, and reassured me that it was nothing to worry about. While I was in the bathroom, Jo and Bob laid out the shower curtain, sheet, and absorbent pads. Anyway, I managed to stumble back to the room, and came down on my knees in front of the couch. All 3 of us thought I was going to deliver there, and I fussed a while. But after a time of clutching the couch, and crying and sweating on my pillow, things calmed down again.

I lay down again, and Bob and Jo followed suit. Bob actually fell asleep on the floor. When he woke up he stepped out of the room. I was using all my physical and mental power to remain calm. Contractions became shorter, but closer together and more intense, if less painful. I had a couple of “pushy” contractions, but did my best to ignore that. When it came to the end, my stomach decided to push more than my head did. Either way, I gave a bit of a push and my water broke, soaking through all the pads, my gown, the sheet… Jo jumped up and asked if she should check or call Bob. I told her to get Bob.
I became very emotional and out of control again. I was lying on my side, and there was no way I could move. I could feel the head needing to come out, and pushed. I knew I needed to open my legs, but just couldn’t make them move, so spat out, “lift my leg.” Jo and Bob both pulled on it, but my muscles were clenched so tight they couldn’t move it. Finally that contraction ended and I was able to relax enough for them to move my top leg up. It seemed a long time, but was probably only a minute or two before the head was out. I sobbed, “Thank you, Jesus,” expecting to feel a bit of reprieve before the shoulders came. But through all my crying and yelling, I could tell something felt different. My belly kept pushing, so I gave a push and Jo did some things. Then something else came out – I was expecting it to be the shoulder, followed by the plop squish of the rest of him, but the squish didn’t follow. So I pushed again, and this time it all came out. Another, “Thank you, Jesus” as I got to lay my head down and be done.

Bob and Jo exclaimed over how big the baby was, and said he was healthy. I asked if was really a boy, and they said it was. He didn’t cry much as they wiped him down, and then Bob brought him to me and he quietly lay and looked at me. Jo gave me a shot to expedite delivery of the placenta, which came quickly as the weak shakes overtook me. Jo asked Bob if I normally shake so much, and he assured her I do. After I calmed down again, Jo helped me to the shower where I rinsed off while she picked up the mess in the den. And it was all over. I learned later that there was meconum in the water, but as there was nothing one could do about it, Jo didn’t worry about it. I also learned that Elijah’s left hand was up by his head at delivery, known as a compound presentation. This, together with his size, could explain the intensity of labor, and certainly explains the odd-feeling delivery. Elijah was weighed and dressed, and we sat around and waited for morning.
Jo left about 5:30, and by 6:15 the children were waking up. Their reaction was very much like a Christmas morning, as they all straggled in and were overcome with the “new baby.” By 7:30 I was in bed, but couldn’t stay asleep for long, and then Bob had a turn. The children all sat around Elijah all day, just looking at and talking about him.
This isn’t my best piece of writing, as I’m doing it in pieces and have had little sleep this week, but taken together with the notes Jo made I think I have a pretty good record of what happened. And that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll do a note on our impressions of a home birth some other time.

football pictures

Wow, we made it to another photo shoot! Bob has a guy at work that is a coach for a base football team. They had tried to get a professional photographer come in, but things got hung up in the paperwork stage, so the man asked Bob to do it. We we scheduled for last Saturday, but Elijah didn't think that was a good idea. :-)

The shoot was to take place at the youth center. So we got there about 12:30, and found out we were in the gym area. We unloaded the bus in the rain and went to set up. There were about 50 children and 4 adults running around the gym, throwing balls and eating (always a good combo, especially when one adds a few thousand dollars worth of electronic equipment). The ball-throwing was supposed to be confined to one half of the room, but with no walls and minimal supervision, balls and children occasionally went over the line. Next to our designated area were several tables of food and drink.

Anyway, we got set up, did a couple of test shots, and waited for someone to start things. First there was an "awards" ceremony, where every player got a medal. Then they were to come take pictures. One by one the coaches got their teams together (3 teams); we did a team shot, and then took individual pics of the players. The first team was a bit of a rush, and I took in 3 orders while Bob took pictures. The next team didn't make any orders til they were done, and then only 1. Then the third team, where most of the players left without getting individual shots. But then some people came back and ordered more, and a couple requested special takes - one boy with his little brother, another with his mother.

When we started packing up, the people all left, and the youth center workers started cleaning up. They had lots of food left out, and kept giving stuff to us. We got half a chocolate cake, two big bags of single-serving chips, two boxes of sports drinks, and a single-serve bag of cookies for each child. (Over $20 worth, all told.) About when we were done, Elijah woke up, so I sat on the bleachers and nursed him while Bob and Taryn loaded the bus. Then we were done.
Bob discovered that he has some work to do on his pictures, but most of them are fixable.

We rested for a few hours, then we went out for dinner and a little shopping. We found shoes and a nightgown for Taryn, a coat for Naysha, and sweats for Ella, as well as a cake pan for me and vitamins for the children. I figured it would be a good idea for the winter, to have vitamins around. sigh. Children's vitamins tend to come in two varieties - Flinstone and not-Flinstone. Flinstone brand has various combinations, including one with iron (which William needs, and was why I thought of getting some in the first place), but they are all made with artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners. The other brand that the store had was the gummies that have no artificial ingredients, but they also have no iron, and less than 100% RDA of the stuff it does have. grump. I got the gummies for now, but intend to keep my eyes open for something better.

Anyway, time to wake up Bob and get ready for church.

Friday, 13 November 2009

life with a newborn

I've been working on my birth story, and updating on Facebook, or I'd have been posting here.

Elijah was/is upside down on his days/nights. Of course Friday night we were up all night. I went to bed about 7am Saturday for about 2 hours. Saturday night Elijah finally went to sleep about 3am, and I had to get up at 6:30 with the other children. It was pretty much the same way each night until last night (Thursday), when he (and I) slept from about 11-3, and again from 4-6. What a relief!

People from church have been bringing us dinner each night, and that has been a great blessing. We are getting behind on the eating of it, actually.

Wednesday we went to Bury St Edmunds to the registry office to get Elijah's long form birth certificate. It was kind of odd how that worked, as I didn't have to show any ID; just gave info and paid the 3.50GBP. But he's now on record in the UK; Jo says he IS a citizen, though I haven't looked it up yet to make sure.
After supper we went to RAF Mildenhall to borrow the ballroom at the community center to set up our studio and get pics of the children.

Thursday Bob went to work to fill out leave paperwork (he gets 10 days, but they let him have Mon and Tues as well - Wed being a federal holiday). After that was finally done we went to the place to get Elijah registered with the US government. We sent off for his US birth certificate, passport, and VISA, and SSN. TO get this application in we had to provide my passport, Bob's birth certificate and divorce decree, our marriage license, Elijah's British birth certificate, photos of him, signatures, and $65. Then across the hall to DEERS - the military system that keeps track of all beneficiaries. Then upstairs to outbound assignments to add Elijah to Bob's orders. But they need his birth certificate, which we just sent off (for 12-16 weeks!) and some other stuff we didn't have. THEN over to the hospital to sign up with the military insurance. They also wanted his birth certificate, but Bob nearly came undone and they signed him up anyway.

This morning I called the hospital and got Elijah his "2 week" well baby appointment and circumcision scheduled for Monday. It will be his 9th day rather than 8th or 14th, but it's close enough, I guess. :-p This afternoon Bob took the bus to Royston to get it inspected. I decided not to go, because I'm still sore from the last two days driving around. He'd gone Monday to have it done in Lakenheath, but they don't do "class 5" vehicles - anything over a certain weight or passenger count. He then called the base auto center, and they don't do it, but thought a place in Brandon did. He called them, and THEY don't do it, but gave the number of a place in Downham Market. He called them and got an automated telephone system. So we thought of taking it to the place that did the previous inspection; called and made today's appointment. He's still not back.

Tomorrow we are supposed to do pictures for the base football teams, since we canceled last Saturday. But the weather is looking pretty bleak, so we'll have to see what happens.

And I think that catches us up.

oh, Jo came today for a little check up. Elijah is nearly back to his birth weight already. My blood count (taken on Monday) is better than expected. So that's all good and we only have one more checkup next week.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

he's here!!!!

Elijah Ruben was born at 3:30am, Nov 7, 2009. Labor lasted about 7 hours. He weighed 10lbs 7ozs! and was delivered with one hand up beside his head. Everything is looking as good it can after a whole night of no sleep. Maybe I'll do some nice details later. Bob put pics on facebook; haven't checked flickr yet.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Still going

Well, it's 3 days past the "due date" and I'm still "all in one piece" as a lady from church put it. I felt some rumblings yesterday and today, but things petered out with a little rest.

The cold has come back to most of the children, and myself. >sniff<

The Army base where my sister-in-law works was a major crime scene yesterday, with a gunman (or two) causing injury to some 40 people. She was uninjured, but had to work late (she works at the hospital)and go through a vehicle search on her way home.

Oh, we got the muffler fixed on the bus. Sorry, Mom and Dad, if we'd known how easy it would be we'd have done it before we took our trip(s). Get this: they fixed it the SAME DAY that we took it up there. No pre-booking. Cost was very reasonable, and it came with a two year warranty. When we tried to get the muffler done on our Suburban in Iceland, we left it with a guy for two months and never got it done.

I know there's other stuff going on, but right now I'm consumed with watching for signs of labor and can barely remember to eat. :-)

Sunday, 1 November 2009


Lovely post from my friend! Skip down to the red "warning" line, and be ready to get an earful about halloween. I couldn't agree more. Every year I am grateful to my mother for stepping back and re-thinking what most people take for granted, when I was about 7, and learning that halloween wasn't for us.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

A whole week???

Wow, this week is moving fast! SO much for regular updates.

Anyway, Jo was here yesterday, and I got blood test results a little while ago. My iron count is above 10 now, which is the anemia level in this country (12 in the USA), and my ferritin level is within the desired range as well. WooHoo!! After worrying all night last night, and wondering how we'd make it work for a hospital birth, it looks like we are clear to go for the home birth.
I will have to keep taking the iron, and probably get with a GP before long after the baby shows up, to see about my actual health. But as far as the pregnancy goes, I am at least out of the danger zone.

I woke up feeling ill this morning, and have spent nearly all day just laying on the floor. Talking and playing with the children, playing computer games, and dozing off. I really don't want another October birthday! Come Sunday I will be walking around a lot, talking to my belly. :-)

That's really about it as far as what's on my mind. There are some "back burner" topics like Christmas, rearranging furniture, and WHERE did all these flies come from??? We haven't had flies for awhile. As they were hanging around the roses Bob got me for my birthday, I wonder if they didn't come with them. DO flies lay eggs on roses?

It's 65*F, mostly cloudy, at 3:15pm. Been a nice year for weather. Well, 'til next time...

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Just stuff

Figure I better keep updates more frequently so y'all know I haven't had the baby yet. :-) (Or you could get on Facebook.)

Anyway, Jo the midwife was here yesterday for a checkup, and took blood for iron testing. My iron (HGB) went up another .6 units (remember it was 8.8 when I got serious about the supplements, went to 9.3 in 5 days, and now up to 9.9 in another week) in spite of the Dr's misgivings. However, the MCV and MCH (I think those are the ones; I'm certainly no expert) have risen only marginally. So what I'm told that means is that there's more iron circulating in my blood, but not any more in my reserves. So the recommendation is that I get my ferritin levels checked. I'm not sure what that is, either. :-O Apparently the Dr on base had "ordered" that test when I was up there last week, but forgot to let me know. So I will go up there today in hopes of having results by tomorrow. (Yeah, right.) Best thing for me to do is just not go into labor yet.

Other news - when we got home Saturday we found the old wet wipe box ---in the diaper bag! Who knows?

And, in what may be just another gadget purchase, or may end up being the means to our future, we now have studio lights and a portable backdrop stand. Bob was asked to take portraits at his Squadron Christmas party (about 200 people), and he can't do it without professional lighting. So we ordered a kit from B&H, got free shipping!!! and it arrived in about a week!!!! Anyone who has never had to order outside the continental US cannot understand the impact of that statement.

Taryn is coming along well in her piano lessons. She's learning scales and sight reading and chords and will soon be past my ability to help her as I never learned the G clef.

Ella is wearing protection at night, but is basically accident free in the daytime, now. I know people who push potty training on infants, but it sure is an easy transition if you wait until the child is ready.

Science Fair is tomorrow, and Taryn is doing a presentation on the stars. Mainly about where they are mentioned in the Bible, and how the visible constellations change from season to season. We are also taking some star-shaped sugar cookies.

Yesterday I forgot to fix supper, and Bob had the van, so I ordered pizza. The base pizza place delivers here, which I wasn't sure if they would. I could have gotten some from Lakenheath town, but they didn't have the toppings the children like. Funny how often I ordered pizza in Abilene, but have only done it a couple of times since we moved here (I did once or twice in Cheveley), so now it seems like a really novel thing again. I can't wait for grocery delivery to catch on in the States.

I finished Roughing It by Mark Twain, yesterday. Interesting book, very funny in places. I never knew jack rabbits were named after the jackass. In the book he actually called them "jackass rabbits." Thanks to modern slang we don't use those words in polite company now... He traveled to Nevada, California, and even to Hawaii (the Sandwich Islands); worked a dozen jobs and never made a cent.

And church people are calling me and offering help! My seventh child, and for the first time I'm getting outside offers (my Mom has been faithful to come and help out before, but I don't remember other people actually trying to do anything). I told one lady we were all right at keeping things picked up, but could use some real food. Now I'm looking around and thinking I need housecleaning, too. There are definitely things that need doing. So I guess I may as well do something. Sitting here hurts just as much as puttering around. :-/

Sunday, 18 October 2009


We didn't know what we wanted to do yesterday, but we knew we wanted to do something.

First step, find everyone shoes. Cedwryck couldn't find his new ones, so he wore a pair a size too small.
Next, lock the back door. Except, Taryn locked the keys in the storage building the night before. No fear; I have the second key to the building (and one for the back door) on my key chain. Except, we couldn't find my keys either. So we turned the house upside down looking for my keys. Bob finally found them in the wrong pocket of the diaper bag.
Step three, fill the diaper bag. Taryn was actually doing this when we recruited her to look for the keys. After that was settled, the wet wipes were missing. So we set the house right-side-up again looking for the wipes. Finally gave up and decided to buy a new pack at the shoppette.
Step four, leave before we lose anything else!

So we went to Mildenhall to the BXtra/shoppette and got wipes, construction paper, and some peanut butter M&Ms.

Now what? "Let's go to Thetford," I said. Why? Because it's *right there* and we'd never been. We followed the signs and easily came to the bus station/car park. (Free parking!) It is right on the Little Ouse river, so we stopped and looked at the geese for a minute, then walked through town. First stop, of course, was the camera shop, to price photo paper. We then stopped to look at a statue of Thomas Paine, and as we were trying to remember who he was an elderly man stopped and asked us who Paine was. I said I thought he was an American Founding Father. The man then wondered how he "got here." He went off on everything being American, then explained himself by saying he was Australian. I guess that fact explains a lot of things. ;-) Anyway, Bob crossed the street to read the engravings on the statue while the boys did flips on the bicycle stand.
We made it over to the market, where there were lots of exotic vegetables for sale. Bob stopped for a picture of an old building there, and the key-cutter man asked if we were from "around here." Bob said we were from Arkansas, and the man asked if we had much trouble with the red Indians there. He stood and talked with us for nearly 30 minutes: gave us some history of the town, told about his sister who was a home educator, gave directions to Tesco (turn out, go through the fiddly streets, turn right, then right again, go through a roundabout, pass the little Tesco, keep going, and there it is), teased the boys about having their arms inside their coats, etc, etc. People who say the British are reserved have never been to a market.
Leaving there, we decided to find the Tesco (they still have Magnum ice cream on sale). It was easier to find it than to navigate its parking lot. But what we really wanted was the McDonalds the man had mentioned as being "by Sainsburys" (another grocery store). We didn't get directions to it, but genius Bob managed to drive straight to it. So we had dinner at 4. Went into an electronics store there to compare prices for printer paper.
After that we went to the BX to look at their paper, and bought batteries. Then we came home, where Bob hooked up the cable to his computer and we watched the OU / UT game. :-( It was a good game, though.
Feeling icky, I went to bed "early" - about 10:30. I slept in to 7:42!!! Couldn't believe it.
It's 10 now and Bob's still asleep, so no church today.

Oh, Thursday I went to the Ob/Gyn on base. Waited an hour... blah blah. He doesn't approve of homebirth anyway, but certainly not for those with anemia. He insisted that iron levels take a long time to change, though mine had gone up in a short time. He suggested I get checked out by my general doctor after the baby is born.
So I emailed my midwife and we decided to go ahead checking iron levels weekly, and if it doesn't get worse, I'll be okay to stay home.

Friday when Bob got up, I went to the commissary BY MYSELF. I took my time and bought FOOD. It wasn't "fun," but a great improvement over the normal trips up there.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Columbus Day

Yesterday was Columbus Day in USA. We remembered because Bob had the day off work.

We started by going out for lunch at the BX (hadn't done that in a while). While there I saw the signs for a clothing clearance sale - an extra 50% off previous markdowns. So after eating we looked through the clothes. I found a cute set for William. I"m not a "brand name" person, but some are... It was US Polo Assn; two shirts and one jeans together. MSRP was $42, AAFES regular price was $22, 50% off (plus the additional 50%) brought it down to $5.50. Seemed like a good deal to me. We also got 2 shirts for Riah, some glue, and whiteboard markers with cleaner (all on sale), plus 3 rolls of wrapping paper for $22 all together. I was going to get a new mouse, but the guy in the electronics dept said they were cheaper in town - he named a store in Mildenhall.

So we went to Mildenhall and got a mouse.

Then we drove down toward Bury St Edmunds, because Saturday when we went we had to take a detour (they call it a diversion), and Bob saw a church he wanted to photograph, but we didn't stop that day. So we stopped and looked at the church (after cleaning the lens, because the camera fell in the floorboard and rubbed on the gas pedal!). Then we picked some blackberries. Yeah, in October. They were mostly shriveled up, but we found a few. Very good flavor.

Then we drove around to Thetford Forest. No, not the "High Lodge" park that ripped us off so badly last time (and didn't answer my email). Anywhere along the forest, if you can find a place to pull off the road, you can park and go for a walk. No fancy playgrounds, but it's free. We walked around a while, tracked some deer, climbed trees, etc. Cedwryck and I both got in some dog mess that had to be cleaned before we could leave.

It was 4:30 when we left there, and we were already hungry. Headed back toward Brandon... Saw the Brandon Country Park and decided to stop there. It is free, and has a playground, toilets, marked trails... Who needs Thetford Forest High Lodge? The children played awhile til it got darkish (cloudy) and we were all getting cold. While driving through the forest, I saw two deer. They look more like jackrabbits than whitetail...I'm having a hard time reconciling these creatures with the image of Robin Hood crashing the party at Nottingham Castle. :-D

We stopped in Lakenheath for Filipino takeaway. (We kinda blew the budget this paycheck!) On the way home we stopped for pics of the sunset.

Nice day. I only wish I wasn't falling asleep all day.

Time to get ready for piano lessons!

Sunday, 11 October 2009


William turned 2 on Friday. As usual, we celebrated on Saturday so Bob would be home and awake for the cake and presents. Funny, I always have trouble remembering William's birthday because we were expecting Carolyn Ruth on Oct 10. So William was born on Oct 9 and it just threw off my memory bank.
He woke up to balloons and streamers, and then things went on hold for awhile. Well, he did get to pick the morning video - he chose Mighty Machines (a real-life children's video about trucks and tractors and airplanes). Bob woke up pretty early, as Riah went upstairs to dress and then yelled down to me for help with his buttons. We were ready to go by 11. William chose Burger King for lunch. Then we went to Bury St Edmunds for the market. Last week when we went we just didn't find anything, but this week was better. Grapes, plums, pears, broccoli, strawberries, bananas, some chocolate and a photo magazine for Bob. We also bought a gift for our friend. I walked down the hill to a rare book sale while Bob and children went back to the van and drove around to pick me up. I didn't find anything that was both desirable and cheap.
Then we stopped for orange juice and poster board, and got a pasta bake from Pizza Hut for dinner. After eating we had cake - a purple pick-up - and then opened presents. We cheated. Instead of buying toys, I picked some things out of the toy box in the storage room. While I was at it, I got rid of a whole box full of toys that we figured we can do without. Also found a few pair of socks. William was delighted with the cars, and thought the airplanes and the ball were pretty nice, too.

Today was the party of our friend Chloe, who is also 2 now. That's who the gift was for.

Friday I found out that I have crossed the line to anemic. I've had my blood checked 3 times this pregnancy, and each time the iron count goes down, even though my iron intake has increased. That's why the orange juice. Vitamin C helps absorb iron. My midwife called the Ob/Gyn on base for a consult, because this is a little beyond her. Now I have to go have blood drawn at the Base lab on Tuesday (they're closed Monday for Columbus Day), and I have an appointment with the Ob/Gyn on Thursday. So from Friday til Tuesday I will take two vitamins every day, with orange juice (since Saturday), to try to get my levels up. If I can't get it to come back up, I will probably have to have the baby in the base hospital. Because with anemia, I will be more likely to have heavy blood loss, and be less likely to recover from it. And of course you can't get a blood transfusion from a midwife at home. So we are praying and trying not to worry. And now I know why I feel more like taking a nap than cooking dinner.

Bob has pics of William's birthday on his Flickr.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Not complaining

I'm not griping, I'm just letting y'all know how things are going. And reminding my future self why I should eat less and exercise more.

When I stand up my pelvis comes apart.
When I sit down I get Braxton Hicks.
When I lay down my indigestion turns to reflux.
When I kneel my arthritic knees give out.
Anytime I go from one position to the other, I have to use the toilet.

But otherwise I'm doing great. :-P

Just for the record, Taryn has started piano lessons. She's had two so far, and covered a month's worth of the book.

Cedwryck has/had an infected ingrown fingernail, for which he is taking oral and topical antibiotics, as well as a few soaks in peroxide/water to pull the puss out. He also had an ingrown toenail, but it didn't get infected. Then today he scraped the top of his foot and got a splinter in the bottom of it. I think he likes being picked on.

William has discovered the comma and the question mark, and uses them to seek approval. "Table, right?" "Cup, right?" "Bite, please?" (And "right" and "please" are usually two-syllables, but not whined.)

Ella is well on her way to being potty trained. She has also discovered Riah's old trick of telling me she "didn't" do something, when she actually did. For example:
Me: Ella, go put your shoes on the shoe shelf. Ella (after running off with the shoes): I didn't put the shoes in the den!

Naysha and Riah are both learning to read. If one of them can't figure out a word, they just wait a second and the other one will get it.

Bob is looking forward to the baby being born so he can get some time off work.

Weather is autumnal; crisp and cool in the mornings and evenings, but warming in the afternoon. We actually had rain yesterday, for the first time since I don't know when. I'd started watering the yard a few weeks ago, because it was all brown and not comfy to walk on.

Happy Wednesday, folks.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Challange update

Well, we made it through the first shrunken paycheck, with $0.33 left over!! LOL Bob "forgot" and went for snacks last night, to treat his guys for having to stay late at work. It *just* worked out.

Ella is doing pretty good about using the toilet now. The first couple of days she missed nearly every time, but she has shown great improvement.

I feel like a bad Mama for not writing about Riah on his birthday. Sigh. We all know I love him.

Not much to say; just incubating.

Friday, 25 September 2009

giveaway - no, not me

And I know most of you don't have babies, but anyway... Maybe a Christmas present if I don't win it???
What am I talking about?
KimC, over at InaShoe, is giving away a cloth diaper and diaper cover. see here:
If I blog about it, I get another chance to win. So I just did. :-)

Any opinions on cloth diapers in general? I know my parents tried some on my baby brother, but the leaked like a screen door on a submarine, and I've never given the idea much weight. Until I started reading Kim's blog. She's been loving cloth on her baby, and I wonder what the deal is. Might be worth a try...

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Why not?

We decided to start Taryn on 5th grade today.
She had just done her 3rd quarter test on her 4th grade Math book, and I've been feeling the need to start some other subjects back up. (She'd finished Geography and Science eons ago, and Handwriting not too recently.) So I dug the school book box out of Bob's tool room this afternoon. There were two 5th grade Math books, a History, Health, Music, Art, and English (which I ignored). Brought it in and started looking. Knowing that Math overlaps quite a bit, I asked if she wanted to start the new one or finish the old, and she opted for the new. Then I let her choose which one. We'll go ahead with 3-4 grade Easy Grammar, but move on with Math and gradually add the others. Art will be on her own; I'm not sure what we can do with the music books. Science/Health will wait a bit as she's working on a Science Fair project for next month.

I'm also reading a college textbook on Small-Business Management to see if I can be Bob's manager when he's a famous photographer/graphic design artist.

Cedwryck just moved up a notch in his pre-school. He's sharp as a tack, but needs help standing still. Whenever he listens in on the older children's lessons, he's as likely to get it right as they are. But his fine motor skills need the practice of pre-school work.

I also got started looking at the Feingold Program, as mentioned on the Ship Full of Pirates blog. Sounds promising.

Yesterday something happened with my left knee, and I cannot put any weight on it when fully extended. I mean, I almost fell down when I tried to kick a balloon! But I can straighten it when seated. Today it is also sensitive to the touch, and doesn't like me to sit on my knees. I've put a cold pack on it a couple of times and that seems to help. It isn't swollen, compared to the right knee. >shrug<

Baby is moving a lot, still no name... I got the bed out, and washed all the clothes and blankets. 6 weeks to go...

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


Besides the daily challenges of doing enough work and getting enough sleep, we've added a few special ones lately.

First of, Bob got to thinking about our future, and how much retirement pay he'll actually get, and we decided on an experiment. Since it's getting past the tourist season (esp. with the baby coming), we thought we'd try living on our retirement pay. As it is, our house, water, trash, and electric are paid for, so it could be much worse. I don't know if it's socially acceptable to put a dollar figure on it, but I like concrete examples so I have to assume other people do, too. Lately we've been taking home about $2000 twice a month (it varies depending on the Cost of Living Allowance). At retirement level pay (assuming no promotions) it will drop to $1000 per month. That's quite a drop! So we're trying to see if we can get by (groceries, clothes, gas, insurance, household stuff) on $1000. Housing will have to come out of savings or whatever job Bob will get (or, if he goes to college, he gets a housing allowance).
So far, I've chosen to cook rather than eat out several times (where I wouldn't have last month), but I still bought ice cream and granola bars when I went for groceries. And I didn't go to the Scholastic book fair last night.
While we may not be doing any traveling for a couple of months, it is birthday season (Riah, William, me, new baby, and Bob all before Christmas). Also the holidays, the semi-annual case lot sale at the commissary, and the bazaars that come with the holidays around here - the first will be next weekend. But we'll give it a go.

Another little challenge: Strep throat in two children so far. I'm a little hoarse this morning, but I'll pretend it's something else.

Then there's the getting serious about school again.

Of course the pregnancy becoming all-consuming, and then a baby before we know it.

And Ella is on the potty train. 3 diapers in 2 days just came apart on her, and I called their bluff. We haven't even got underwear for her yet (she's wearing Naysha's), but I won't put a diaper on her when she is awake and home. This might help out with challenge #1, but it is another level of stress in my day.

Not that I'm looking for sympathy, really. Just trying to wrap my mind around all that is going on. We've always done things in spurts and it usually works out.

Oh, and I posted on Facebook, but two nights ago the boys were playing in their room and broke a CFL (compact fluorescent lightbulb). You may or may not know that they are full of mercury, and therefore not to be taken lightly. I tied a rag around my face, wore shoes, and cleaned everything in the room. Left the door closed and the window open, and had the boys sleep in the "den" that night. Beyond that I just have to trust God. If I didn't know it had mercury in it, I wouldn't have done anything special, you know? The packages should come with warnings.

I guess that's it for this week. :-)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


First off, I'm sorry for not blogging about our anniversary celebrations on Thursday. Bob took the day off, we bought him a suit at the BX - a concessionary of Alexandre of London, and went to dinner at the club (which was actually quite nice).

On to today.

I learned some stuff today which I hope I can keep in mind and use to my advantage.

I have a book called - well, I don't see it, but I think it's - The Way They Learn. It has a questionnaire and some descriptions so you can fit yourself (and your children) into one of 4 thinking styles. The combinations are abstract sequential, concrete sequential, abstract random, and concrete random. I had my suspicions that I was CS, and all the children were AR. Well, turns out (according to their own thoughtful answers) all but Cedwryck are sequential as well. So all this time I've been viewing them as some sort of alien creature, when in fact they are the same sort as me just - get this - immature. They don't do things the hard way just for fun, but because they haven't yet learned the easy way. They aren't illogical, they have undeveloped logic. So a big kick to my backside to get things moving and start teaching them what they actually DO want to know.

(It is driving me nuts that spellchecker won't recognize the plural form of combination!!!)

And then I got an email from my midwife about her website, and I followed some links, and discovered that my hip problem isn't just arthritis. It is a condition known as Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. I remember trying to describe the feeling to a nurse one day and getting the strangest look... A few weeks before Riah was born I could feel my pubic bones separating. With each subsequent pregnancy it has happened earlier, and at times it has been painful in this one. Turns out there isn't much I can do other than what I'm doing already by instinct. I might want to look into a chiropractor at some point...
I imagine that this, like most other health problems, is made worse by being overweight. I'm really gonna have to do something about that.

Anyway, it's past 11 and I ought to be in bed.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

the trip

Bob had three 3-day weekends in a row this month. We didn't make it very far the first two, but really wanted to get away for the last one. Labor Day, the least meaningful American Holiday.

Bob suggested Dover, as we didn't see half the castle last time we were down there. I spent 2 or 3 days looking for a hotel online (it is hard to find a place where we all fit, and we can afford). Finally I found a place on that was a little more than I wanted to pay, but still cheaper and nicer than two rooms somewhere else. So I booked it, double checking all the details, and we tried to figure out the rest of the trip.

Bob worked Friday night, so there was no pressure to leave early Saturday morning. Actually, there was no pressure the whole trip, and that's what made the whole thing so nice. So Saturday morning I folded clothes into the suitcase while the children tidied up and played outside. Bob woke up about lunch time. We ate, cleaned up a bit (noticed the dishwasher was leaking), then read the Bible together before heading out. We stopped at the Shoppette to top up with gas and rig up a lid for the brake fluid. (The real lid disappeared. The auto hobby shop didn't have any. We ended up using the lid from a Vitamin Water bottle held in place with black tape.)

We were on our way! Traffic wasn't too bad until just after we got on the M25 (London Orbital). The Dartford Crossing - a bridge across the Thames - is a toll road, and cars were queued up for the toll gate for about 45 minutes. 45 minutes to go 5-10 miles. But we weren't in a hurry, so it wasn't terrible. We passed a Ferrari twice. ;-) I was ready to run screaming from the car by the time we got through the toll, so we decided to exit for Bluewater shopping mall to have a walk and some dinner. (There were a couple other possible stops, but that's what we decided on.)

We marveled once again at the size of the place, the vast parking lots that were nearly full (and free!), and the clearly marked signs. Got a spot, stopped by the toilets (I guess every entrance has a toilet next to it), and walked around a little. When we got to the food court we thought Nandos sounded good. Even though it was early, we had to wait for a table. It was a nice big table, close to the counter so we could order and get drinks while keeping an eye on the children. Nandos serves chicken. Just chicken. You can get it on a bun, as wings, in a wrap, or as 1/4, 1/2, or a whole bird, and you can order your preference of spices. The children all got mild, but Riah still complained his was too spicy. Bob and I shared a whole chicken with Ella and William. They liked it more than I expected, and between us all there were no leftovers. The best thing about Nandos is it offers free soft drink refills (very unusual in Europe), and has lovely ice (like Sonic), and the children's meals come with unlimited frozen yogurt.
After dinner we walked a little more and then got back in the car. It was about 45 minutes to our hotel from there.

Broome Park is off the main road. The entrance is gated, and down a typical English country house driveway (narrow and winding). Reception was in a great old house, very impressive and imposing. It was packed out with fancy ladies and men in tuxes when we arrived. Bob and I felt a little trepidation as we approached the front door, but the two greeters flanking the doorway (with trays of drinks) happily pointed us towards the reception desk. We threaded our way through the loud crowd, and checked in. The lady at the desk was very friendly and helpful, though noting that Expedia had only just sent the reservation through, so the "babycot" (pack and play) wasn't set up yet, but she'd bring one around soon.
We got our keys and directions, and drove down the winding road through the woods to our lodge. There are 12 lodges, each one a stand-alone house. We had a designated parking spot a little ways from the house, which was tucked in between the trees. Before we unloaded anything, Bob took pictures of all the rooms, which included a living room, a dining/kitchen, bathroom, "twin-bedded" room, and the master bedroom with a king size bed and its own bathroom (with whirlpool tub). Nice. Then we unloaded the car and tried to settle in. The children have their own way of settling into a hotel room, which involves a lot of running around, opening and closing doors, and jumping on all the furniture. As we were in a house we didn't feel compelled to restrain them quite so much as we do in a regular hotel, with other people under, over, and next door.
We had Bible time, and started making up the beds. The girls got the bedroom, with one on each bed and one on the floor (on a thick pallet). The boys fought over the sofa and the sleeping bag (not bothering to make out the sofa bed). Riah won and got the bag, but soon switched with Ced and they were both happy. The playpen/babycot arrived and William was glad to see it. Bob and I retired to our room; I took a bath and then we checked out the TV. Each room had a big flat screen tv. We watched Catwoman, with Halle Barry. I wasn't impressed. Neither of us slept terribly well, but we are used to that.

Sunday morning I awoke to the sound of William singing. We all got dressed and had breakfast of cereal and oranges. After another Bible reading we got in the car and drove down to Dover. First we drove through town, to Samphire Hoe ( - a little park on the coast. We walked around a little while and looked at the ocean. Then we went back to Dover and tried to find the Western Heights. It took a little doing, but we eventually got to Fort Redoubt (it's closed, but you can walk around the moat). On the walk up to it we picked a few blackberries. We never found the church remains that are supposed to be up there someplace.
Then we went to Dover Castle. We had an early lunch picnic on the edge of the parking lot. Dover Castle is pretty nice. First we toured the "Secret Wartime Tunnels" with it's headquarters, communications, and hospital. Cedwryck really liked this part. Then we saw a display/video about Henry II (who built the castle) and how he grew his empire but lost his family. Then we walked through the keep. Most of the rooms are done up in the style of Henry II (1154-1189), and the king himself made an appearance, along with Princess Alice of France and a few others. The keep is quite large, on three floors (I think! There's a bit of up and down and across and down and up to get around). We saw (mannequins and video displays of) stewards, armorers, cooks... It was pretty interesting and very well done for English Heritage. (They try, but a lot of their stuff seems really cheap and corny.)

We'd talked about having dinner at TableTable in Dover, but by the time we were done with the castle we felt a little tired and frazzled, so we headed on out of town a bit to a McDonald's we'd seen on the way in. Not gourmet, but we got full anyway. At that little town we also stopped at a grocery/convenience store and got some hot chocolate and cookies for later.

Back to the lodge where we talked over what we'd learned today, and had a nice Bible time. Some of our "neighbors" were out walking, and looked up and grinned at us singing together. (Those big windows were made for looking through, not to be covered up with curtains.) After the little ones went to bed, Bob and I had our snack and watched The Mask (not impressed - I had seen that one before).

Monday morning we had oatmeal and toast for breakfast, packed up and checked out. We went south-east to Walmer Castle, which was pretty nice. It was built by Henry VIII, and has been home to William Pitt, W.H. Smith (there's a store chain named after him), and the Duke of Wellington, among others. One garden there was a birthday present for the Queen Mother on her 95th. The House (sort of built into the keep on one side) is mostly a museum of Wellington, with a little about Queen Victoria thrown in. The gardens are nice, too, with a woodland walk, a nice open place where the children climbed a tree and we had a snack, and the kitchen garden. I was taking notes of the kitchen garden. Espaliered apple and pear trees marked the boundaries, and in the beds were everything from strawberries to Brussels Sprouts to sweet corn and tomatoes. Ummm, makes me want to dig up my whole back yard.
When we finished there we went on to Deal to find a place for lunch. We'd been to the castle there before, so didn't bother about it. We parked and Bob took the children down on the beach to throw rocks in the ocean while I crossed the street to a Fish N Chips place. Bob got fish, I got a bacon roll, and the children got cheeseburgers (they actually seemed to be made with beef!). It was all made fresh, so tasted pretty good, and was nice and hot.

We decided to go north east before heading west, so as not to drive through the middle of Canterbury. This took us right past Reculver Towers (an English Heritage ruin), so we stopped there and walked around a bit. I actually stayed at the car, as William was asleep and we hated to disturb him. The road down to Reculver was a single lane, and at an intersection there was zero visibility. We guessed, and turned. (We've had many opportunities to quote from Blinkin in "Men in Tights" - "I *guess* no one's coming.") There was a car coming, down the middle of the road we turned on, but he stopped in time. Just, he stopped in the middle of the road. So we turned around him, but didn't quite make it, rubbing fenders a bit as we passed. So we stopped, and suddenly 4 other cars appeared. They had to wait while Bob got out and he and the other man decided the damage wasn't worth bothering about. (Thank You, Lord)

Back on the road, we made good time around London, and headed home. It was still early (about 4-4:30) when we hit the Cambridge exit, so we went on down that way. Drove out to the leisure center, knowing there were a few dining options. We looked at the Mexican place and the Italian place, then went upstairs to check the Chinese buffet - WOW that's pricey! So back down, and we decided on an Italian - Bella Italia, I think. The waiter was not as helpful as we'd like, but we got it ordered. I had grilled chicken, which was very good, and Bob had lasagna, which came with nothing. It was mostly cheese, and he was wishing for some bread or even salad to go with it. The children seemed happy with their pizza and spaghetti.
Back to the car, where the machine wouldn't read the validation on the parking ticket, so we paid at the counter and the man let us out.
Then home.

I've been typing all morning, and I left out little details like dropping the video camera -twice- and a few other things that would make the story more interesting, but I guess it will have to do. Maybe if I took more vitamins... ;-)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

home again

Well, last night we made it back from our trip. It was a good time, and hopefully I'll write it all down later. But just for the brief; we went to a mall, Dover Castle, Fort Redoubt, Walmer Castle, the beach, Reculver Towers, and Cambridge.

But "the midwife" is coming at 12:30 today, so we need to clean up a bit. Also we talked about less computer time, and things like that. So I better go for now.

Sunday, 30 August 2009


Saturday on our way home from the market in Bury St Edmunds, we spotted a church out in a field. Bob wanted to get a closer look, so turned toward it, but the place we turned was a private driveway. Now many people are protective of their driveways, so when we saw a man walking toward us, we prepared a speech. Bob rolled down his window, and the first word out was "sorry." Bob said we were just wanting to look at the church. The man was very nice about it. He said it was no problem, we could sit there as long as we liked. Then he came back to say if we wanted to get to the church we could take the next right, then right on --- Road, and there was a footpath to the church. How very thoughtful of him.
So we went on around like he said. The street was a dead-end residential street, and there was the footpath like he said. So we pulled to the curb, and as we were getting out of the car an elderly lady was crossing the road. She stopped to admire our lovely children, and Bob volunteered that we were just going up to see the church. Well, she thought that was wonderful, and offered to call the "keyholder" to unlock the building for us to look inside. We didn't want to be any trouble, but she insisted. After delivering her newspaper to her neighbor, she went back in her house and made the phone call. Then she came out with a printed history of the church, which she gave to Bob, and proceeded to walk us over half-way down the footpath, talking all the way about the church and the area.

So there were two super-friendly encounters.

Today, we decided to be friendly. Bob's cousin T is in London, taking teacher training to teach music and English in Spain. So we arranged to meet him at the Epping tube station, and spent the day with him. First, we decided to go walking in Epping Forest. I'd looked it up and knew there wasn't any playgrounds or things like in Thetford Forest, but still, after a few weeks in London a walk in the woods was welcome.
So we walked a little ways, took pictures of trees and the children running around, talked. We found a blackberry patch and picked (and ate) quite a few. I had a pint container with me that was quickly filled, and several pickers were just eating, not putting in the container. Wow! some of those berries were sweet. Anyway, we were headed back toward the parking spot when we met a man with his dog. Someone commented on the dog (he was a beauty, and well trained), and the man just started talking to us. He told us a little about the forest, and mentioned an old fort site not far from where we were. We thanked him and started on, but Bob said he wanted to see the fort, so he went back and asked the man for specific directions, which he was happy to give. So we started walking (he estimated 3/4 mile), enjoying the day and each other's company. About 1/2 way to the fort, the man and dog showed up again. He was afraid we wouldn't find the place, and remembered his first walk in the forest where he was lost for about 3 hours. So he walked us the rest of the way to the fort, visiting with Bob and T the while, sharing what he knew about the area.
We were just astounded at his extreme friendliness.

So that's it on the friendly theme, but to complete our day...
We had lunch at a restaurant between Epping and Loughton, called Old Orleans. It was a little pricey, but well worth it. The food was excellent, service was pretty good despite being busy, portions were quite generous. We were VERY pleased with the experience there.
Then we went to the shopping/outlet mall in Braintree. T bought a couple of shirts at the Reebok store, and Taryn got a pair of shoes at another store. We also got some Cadbury's outlet goodies.
We took the back roads back to Epping, stopping at a little church halfway there. The churchyard was full of holes - rabbit and moles, I guess - and the children had fun avoiding them. William said, "Church fun." Made my day. This one was open so we explored inside, too. Very nice, simple, small church.

Stopped before getting to town for dinner at McDonald's. Had a good time there, too. Then took T back to the tube station, and we headed home.