Friday, 30 July 2010

the last week

Monday, Bob went to London for a sleep study at the Princess Grace Hospital. We had a few options for getting him down there, but finally decided on the bus (which is called a coach). There is a station in Mildenhall, but we saved 18GBP by using the station in Bury St Edmunds. So Bob got on the bus and I got to drive home from Bury. Neither of us enjoyed it.

Bob was in London for several hours before he had to check in, so he walked up and down from the Victoria station to the hospital (made the 2 mile distance into a 6 mile walk). By 7pm he'd arrived, and had double blisters on both feet. He sat in the park until check-in time, and then got hooked up and went to sleep. About 1am they woke him up to put on a breathing thingy (CPAP) and he tried to go back to sleep.

At 9am he had a meeting with the doctor, who said Bob does indeed have sleep apnea. They programmed his personal CPAP (with a heater and a humidifier), and made an appointment for Sept 3.

Then Bob had several more hours before he had to get on the bus to come home. Given the condition of his feet, he shelled out the bucks for an open-top bus tour of the city. In retrospect, he should have done the bus tour the first day, and then been able to look closer at the sites of interest the following day. Oh well. He still doesn't like London, but he has admitted there are some spots he'd like to see again.

The buses leave from a different place than they arrive, but nobody told us that, so Bob ended up missing his bus home. So he bought another ticket back, this time going into Mildenhall. His ticket said he'd be here at 8:40, but it was not quite 7 when he arrived. Too bad about that frustrating experience, but we were all glad to have him home anyway.

He went back to work on Wednesday, which somehow I thought was Tuesday and so he missed an appointment on Wednesday. He turned in his keys to the shop, and really isn't expected to much by way of work anymore, so he comes home early and happy. It's just as well, as he isn't sleeping at night because of the CPAP. It starts off fine, but gets more intrusive as the night goes on. We checked it today, and the doctor locked in the settings so we can't turn it down. Sorry, all y'all who don't have apnea and have no idea what I'm talking about. The CPAP is a machine that forces air down your throat while you sleep. Also it has bright lights, which is annoying.

Anyway, I think I'm anonymous enough here to say that we are leaving tomorrow for our 3 week holiday. I've been washing and packing and getting directions all week. I don't know if we'll have internet while we are away, but I do plan to write at night and publish when I can.
Better get back to work.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Linton zoo

Wednesday, my friend called in the morning, wondering if we wanted some cherries. Oh, yes, we do! So she stopped by with a bag full of tree-ripened cherries that her family had picked from a friend’s tree. While here, she asked about meeting up at the playground on Mildenhall later. I’d been planning to go over there, so agreed.

After lunch we packed up and headed over. I stopped at the thrift shop but didn’t find anything, and then we met up at the playground and visited. She wanted to go do something the following day, and mentioned a zoo. So that night I looked up the zoos in the area and found that one in Linton, Cambridgeshire, was about 1/3 the price of the other more famous zoos around. Reviews said it was small and nice, but not spectacular.

Thursday morning, after a couple of phone calls, we agreed to check it out. Misty and her family met us at our house about 11am, and we followed them to the zoo. I was a bit apprehensive about driving so far, but the road is pretty direct (only 4 turns after leaving my neighborhood), and though I slowed Misty down some, we made it in one piece.

Admission with guidebook totaled 40GBP (about $60) which I tried hard to not compare with our old zoo’s price (Abilene, TX, for same number of people - $16). There was a large parking area with only a handful of vehicles, so I easily got the bus situated, and we were pleased to discover the toilets were there in the parking lot. (Not so pleased when we realized they were the only toilets.) So we all went, and then we headed toward the picnic area. Actually there are several picnic areas, and we had to tear ourselves away from the fascinating giant tortoises and macaws in order to eat. We wolfed down a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, a bag of chips, ½ lb of cheese, a bunch of bananas, and a box of granola bars. Our friends had a much more orderly lunch that included fresh spinach.

After lunch we were more relaxed about viewing the wildlife on display. I was really impressed with the size of the pens for the tortoises and the zebras. But before we got to the zebras there came a downpour. We all ducked into a nearby shelter, made for watching the tortoises, and waited for the rain to stop. The boys kept chasing each other in and out of the shelter, and the babies were getting fussy. Misty got a little fussy herself, at the ride-on toy that kept begging for another coin. Uh, Misty, did you remember to turn it back on when we left? Eventually we pulled out our picnic blankets and used them for cover so we could keep going.

Cedwryck wanted to see the lions, but I was distracted by a giant rabbit, and then they found it great fun to tease a large bird into showing its wingspan. The rain soon stopped and it became warm and humid, but not miserably hot. We bumped into a playground, where Elijah insisted on going to play with the others. He wore more dirt than he ate, I’m sure. Leaving the playground (after sending half the crew back out to the toilets) we discovered a tapir that liked to be hand-fed the choicest grasses from outside his pen. Then on past the pooping owl to the lions, who were fast asleep. Cedwryck wasn’t too disappointed. If fun is measured in decibels, we had a great time. No seriously, the children did make a bit of noise, but we all really enjoyed the zoo. We spent 3 ½ hours there and saw everything, but didn’t linger too long anywhere. There were just a few other people in the place; the exhibits were nice; there was a nice variety of animals, and we could get pretty close to most of them.

I made the drive home (without following Misty) just fine; traffic was light and I knew my way. I started the children taking baths as Bob was waking up, and we had a quiet restful evening.

Lest you think some foreigner took over my blog, let me add that the next day my hips were out of joint, my knees screamed anytime I bent them, and my feet hurt so bad I had to wear different shoes. Things are a little better today.

On a different note altogether, Friday was Bob’s last day on midshift, possibly FOREVER. He is on days (with many appointments out of the shop) starting Monday.
AND, I noticed I have a regular visitor from Florida – yes, YOU – don’t be shy, let me know who you are.

the house

Well, the "speedbump" turned into a roadblock, so here's the story in a nutshell.

My MIL found a house she thought was perfect for us, took pictures and drew a floor plan. We liked it well enough, too, so made an offer. As it was VA foreclosed, we made a rather low offer, as we'd been advised. They countered by taking $900 off the listed price. We countered by meeting halfway. They said "yes." Then the next day they said the person who said "yes" didn't get authorization. So we waited. Eight days later (yesterday) they finally decided that they would NOT accept our offer, and sort of countered with taking another $1000 off. As Bob says, you can talk that much off of a used car. Oh, and by the way, they have another offer coming in on Monday.

So, MIL found out the bank with whom we are dealing is Bank of America, and they are notorious for doing things like this. I'm not sure of all the "rules" but I know when we were interested in a house that had an offer on it, the real estate agents wouldn't even let us view the place. But when we were negotiating a contract, they were apparently holding out, encouraging other offers.

Oh, well, we wanted God to give us an answer and He did. So Mom, Janice; feel free to start looking again. We are going to try not looking until after our vacation, since we may not be available for awhile. (I'm not sure if any of our cottages have internet.)

Sunday, 18 July 2010

comfy bed

For those who are looking for info on our house situation, we've hit another speed bump and I want to wait and tell the whole story in one go.

So for a diversion, I present the road to a comfy bed.

Last year Bob and I decided it was high time for a new mattress. Our old one wasn't terribly old, but we hadn't replaced the box springs, and it wore out quickly. So we went up to the BX furniture store and carefully selected a new mattress. I wrote about it at the time.
Anyway, we got home and set up our new bed and lie down and said "ow." It was much firmer than we anticipated from the display model. We figured it would take some time to get used to it.
My parents visited and they got the bed for a few weeks. It was some time after they left that I realized our bed frame was broken. So in desperation, I set the box springs directly on the floor and threw away the old frame. That, of course, made it that much more firm. But at least it was level.
Not long after that I had to do something, so bought an "egg crate" foam pad to put on top. It sort of helped. But I found that it made me sweat all night.
Finally we bought a new bed frame, but it's a modern "supportive" model, and wasn't any softer than the floor.
Then, this spring, we were checking the clearance section at the BXtra and saw a nice thick mattress pad on 75% off. It was a King size, and our bed is Queen, but we bought it anyway. Got it out and wrapped it around the bed, mattress pad, egg crate and all, and now, finally, we have a nice, soft, level bed. A year later.

And since it's 11pm here, I think I'll go make use of it for a few hours.

Saturday, 17 July 2010


Cedwryck is my second son. He was born when Riah was just 15 ½ months old, and still very much a baby. Cedwryck wasn’t an easy nurser like Riah had been; in fact, he gnawed at me more than anything. I let myself get dehydrated, and ended up with a kidney infection at 4 weeks post partum. It was somewhere in this time that I got pretty close to PPD, questioned the whole quiverfull premise, and was generally miserable. With all that going on, it took me some time to “bond” with Cedwryck, something I used to feel guilty about (which, of course, didn’t help any).

Thank Goodness, that stage didn’t last long. :- ) Cedwryck was my happiest baby (up to that point), and would often play until he fell asleep on his own – quite a change from the others. He gladly suffered through Riah’s abuses, including a few that left me wondering for his safety. He quickly grew into a bit of a clown, trying to tell jokes before he could really talk. If my other children are “normal” Ced would easily be labeled ADHD. He doesn’t sit still, and sometimes doesn’t sit at all. But he’s smart as a whip, has excellent listening skills, better fine motor skills than Riah or Naysha, and doesn’t show their dyslexic tendencies. Several times a day he will hug me (and Bob) and say “I love you!”

Cedwryck had a big day Thursday. He’d had a loose tooth for a couple of weeks, and it came out without pain or blood during lunch. Then after lunch we went outside and I took the training wheels off his bike. I had to steady him a few times, but he was riding on his own within the hour. He’s a wonderful example of a 5 year old boy and I’m proud he’s my son.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

just thinking

It seems like we had an interesting weekend. Let me try to remember…. It was hot most of last week, getting up to 91*F on Friday. One evening we actually went to the commissary just because it is air conditioned.

Saturday we went driving. No A/C in the bus, but there is a breeze with the windows open. We didn’t have the map in the car for some reason, but by skill and cunning we managed to find Bressingham garden center again, and bought a wind chime. Then Bob took the children outside while I went back for ice cream. The cafĂ© was out of lumpy bumpy pie, so I just got everyone a cone from the freezer.

Sunday Bob slept in, in anticipation of 12 hour shifts this week, so no church. He did get up in time to think of having lunch at the “G” club, where we thought they served a brunch buffet until 1pm. Turns out it was a choice of breakfast a la cart menu, or the Sunday carvery. We went with the breakfast option, and while service was hit-or-miss, everyone got full for less than $30. Yeah, choc chip pancakes for $3!

It cooled off quite a bit, and today I was actually chilly in front of the open door. Yesterday was just perfect, and we walked around the square for a while.

Yesterday we had our “pre-move inspection” where a person from the moving company came out and wrote down all the stuff we will be packing. She politely suggested that they take 3 days to pack instead of the usual 2 days. What are you trying to say? We keep stuff – you never know when you’ll need it. As Riah’s birthday is the day before we had scheduled, we added the following Monday. So now we will pack Thursday, Friday, and finish up with the beds on Monday. Then Tuesday they’ll take our “Unaccompanied baggage” which is a small amount that can be air-freighted to our new home, and we’ll be in TLF until Friday, which is Bob’s “final out” and we’re off to London to catch a plane. Oh, that’s Sept 23 – Oct 1, by the way. I’m guessing I won’t have tons of computer time that week.

This week and next, Bob is in an exercise, working 5pm to 5am. Then the next Monday, the 26th, he goes to London for a sleep study. That Saturday we leave for our grand holiday. 3 weeks away from home! I made a list for Yorkshire, but still need to do Wales. Somehow we need to file for VA benefits, sign off on the Survivor Benefit Plan, tell the housing office we’re leaving, sign up for Tricare (insurance), sell the van, and buy a van in the States before we leave.
I must remember to take my vitamins.

Saturday, 10 July 2010


As none of my children read my blog, I feel like I can be honest here. We’ve said before that when Taryn was born, we didn’t believe there could ever be a girl as beautiful as she was. But then we had Naysha, and she was just as lovely. But what I’ve never told anyone but Bob is that when Riah was born, I didn’t believe I could love anybody as much as I loved him. He was my favorite. There, I said it. He just needed me so much! But fast forward a bit, and along came William. He opened up my heart. The funny thing is, he didn’t just become my new favorite, or my second favorite. Loving William has taught me that I can really love more than one person *that* much. Whenever I stop and get sentimental about him, I then go on to think of how special each child is. He is good for me.

And since I’m talking about William, let’s continue. He is everyone’s favorite, always ready with a grin and rarely being grumpy. I’ve mentioned before how he uses the word “wrong” a lot, but never actually gave an example. He doesn’t say “It’s wrong to take off my shoes in the car.” He says, “Take my shoes off in the car – wrong!” Sometimes this positive statement followed by a negative is a bit hard to follow.

William really likes cars. I’m tempted to say he loves them. Other children take a stuffed animal to bed; William takes a Hot Wheels car to bed. He happily watched an hour long Roy Rogers movie, and his favorite part was when the car went through a puddle. He wants cars for his birthday and on his cake. He says when he grows up he will work on cars, and paint cars.

William likes puzzles. We have a stack of the cardboard, framed puzzles, labeled “ages 3-8” and he has mastered each one. Ella struggles with them, and even the older ones have to think about doing one. He worked on an - don’t know what to call it – IQ puzzle this morning for over an hour. (The sort of puzzle with different shapes that fit together to make a square.)

William is good at other things too. While taking him potty the other day, Bob and I went through the alphabet with him, showing the sign for each letter as we said it. He got over half of the signs right on his first try, with no help. He’s also good for a laugh. When taking him potty another time, he said he’d peed, so I looked and said, “You didn’t pee; there are no drips.” So he checked between his legs and said, “That’s rude!”

Thursday, 1 July 2010


Elijah has 5 teeth now, and Monday he climbed the stairs up to the landing all by himself.

Let the crazies begin!

Today is our official 3/6 month date. 3 months until we leave here; 6 months until retirement. So today Bob went to schedule our pack out dates. The people there were worse than usual at doing their job professionally. Bob called before he went to ask if he needed an appointment, and was told to just walk in. So of course the first thing they asked was if he had an appointment. Apparently it got worse from there, and by the time he had his dates he was so flustered he left his camera bag there. He came home, called to me through the window that he’d left his camera, and went away again. For the next hour and a half I was nearly sick to my stomach with worry.

He finally made it home again. He’d got his camera back with no trouble, but then went on to get our plane tickets. His leave starts Oct2, and the fiscal year starts Oct1. Since the budget hasn’t been passed for next year, they don’t have the airline contract yet, and therefore cannot buy plane tickets. We wanted to be there early on to give them the best chance of getting us seats together, but it was all for naught. They suggested we could try back as early as mid-August. Yeah. Maybe they will get the charter flights going again…

Other minor things going on: Monday morning Cedwryck was playing outside barefoot, and went to the forbidden area (empty house across the sidewalk). He stepped on glass (we suppose) and cut his foot. Riah strapped a bandaid on him and they were going to keep going, but I heard something and called the activity to a halt. After much washing, I thought the wound looked odd – it was swollen all around the puncture – and decided to take him to the ER. I felt a bit silly about it, but remembered my friend going to the ER for a tick. Well, they took a quick look and didn’t send us away, so we waited. And waited. My children are good ones, and used to sitting in church, but still, 7 little ones for 3+ hours gets tiring. They gave Cedwryck some injectable numbing stuff, and then poked around a bit. Didn’t find anything inside, but it bled out a bit and the swelling went down. We were out at 2pm, and famished, so headed to Taco Bell and decided not to hit the store afterwards.

It’s been hot. Well, for England. I wouldn’t run the A/C in the States at this temp, but there I would be able to open my bedroom window, and probably have a ceiling fan. Windows here swing inward to open, so I cannot open it without opening the curtain and letting in the 4am sunrise. We did rig a floor fan on an extension cord from the hall, and it almost helps.

Our minivan is for sale, as is my couch. I’ve called for a charity to come pick up a pile of stuff.

We are working on Bob’s VA application. He will be rated at a percentage disabled, based on all the medical history we can dig up. I’ve got 12 or 13 items on the list – now we have to get it into proper form to be reviewed by the VA doc in Germany.

Of course the children all decided to outgrow/lose/wear out all their socks/shoes/underwear this week. So I still need to do some shopping. Maybe this afternoon.