Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Can't Sleep

Also: I can't live, if living is without you!

So, I finished my second graduate class, and it was about a thousand times better than the first one! I really enjoyed my classmates, the material and the instructor. Additonally, the presentation I gave on SPAM killed! I got a 48/50, and the instructor said I looked like a pro!

It was awesome, because it came together in a way that rarely happens. I felt completely prepared. I had reserached my material, organized it well, practiced it a few times with my husband and a few times in my car, and had a cute, but simple Power Point slide show. (I beleive in the power of long as they are clean, simple and un-cluttered.) So all tha was left was to drop the bomb. I was so nervous and really expected to trip over my words or go way too fast or completely lose my place. But once I got rolling, I felt really comfortable! My jokes landed right the way they should have, and almost everyone tried my SPAM and spinach mini quiches. Most people even liked it!

Jackpot, I'm a weiner!

Anyway, it's such a fantastic feeling when you've really devoted a ton of time to something and everything goes according to plan. Sweet.

I finished a scholarship application tonight, and I'm actually proud of the essay I wrote! I don't think I have ever been able to say that of a scholarship essay (not that I've written many, mind you. I was so lazy in college, and now I have the student loans to prove it!) Hopefully I'll get a little something to help with my classes, but I won't know until the end of next month.

I've started teaching Caleb some basic sign language, bases on Dr. Joseph Garcia's "Sign With Your Baby." So far we are focusing on Eat, More, Milk and Drink. Occasionally I'll throw in Dog and Finished, but I'm focusing more on the first four for now. The book said it'll probably be a few months before he can actually sign back, but they recommend starting at about 6-7 months old. I'm so excited to learn this stuff and really hope it helps with communication in the coming months!

Okay, well I guess I better try to sleep. I'm currently reading "Son of a Witch," the sequel to "Wicked," which I finsihed recently. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens to Liir. So off I go! Good night!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Starting to Feel Like Home

I know I'm posting too much about England this month, but hey, that's the way I roll. Patterns in posting: obsession on one subject until I move on to the next. Anyway, this is only partially about living in England.

MAN, it's a gorgeous day here! I can't wait till Caleb's had his second meal for the day so we can take a walk. I printed up a map of all the cool sites in my town from the town's website, and I'm planning on hitting at least one or two today. Hooray! Unfortunately I didn't make it to the market yesterday because it rained mose of the day, off and on. I really needed to pick up some carrots for a salad!

Last night was my second night of my Issues in HR Training class, and I am LOVING it! My classmates are cool, the teacher is cool, the subject is interesting and engaging. Also, I'm doing a 20 minute trainging session on...(wait for it)...SPAM!! No, not email. Canned meat! I'm so excited about this, it's almost embarrassing.

I was driving home from class last night and hit a thick patch of fog in the middle of the Thetford Forest, and man, was it eerie! For those of you unfamiliar with where I live, from base I have to drive North-ish through a town called Brandon, and then go North-Eastish through a few miles of the Thetford Forest. It's a windy, single-lane road that crawls up and down hills through a thick forest. It can be eerie any night, because it's the kind of place that you'd imagine a scary ax-murder just popping out from the woods. But the added fog made it creepy like a scene from a scary movie.

Having said that, though, it's my favorite part of my drive to and from base. (Unless you get stuck behind a slow truck or tractor, because it's almost never safe to pass on this road. And passing in England, even when safe, makes me very nervous.) But other than occasional traffic frustrations, it's a peaceful drive. It's so gorgeous in the fall! More than anything, though, it's unlike anywhere I've ever lived. I know there are tons of forrests in the US, but we've never live near one (unless you count the small thicket behind our house in Oklahoma, but I don't.)

As I was driving through it last night, I realized, 'Some day, I'm going to miss this.' It's the blessing and the curse of military life overseas. They call it a long tour, but four years isn't all that long. And that's not to say I necessarily want to be here longer than four years. Honestly, I think that will be quite enough. But there will come a day when I'll miss driving through the Thetford Forest.

This is really starting to feel like home now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Eating My Words

Yeah. Remember my blog about how cool it is to live off base? Today, the regular half-hour drive to base took my husband two-and-a-half hours because of an accident on the A-11. Two-and-a-half HOURS. Eek.

Yesterday, I had to drive in to base twice. It was unavoidable. I couldn't squeeze the visits in to one. And I hate driving to base more than once a day. Especially with gas prices now! Ouch! I filled up my tank yesterday and it cost me FIVE dollars more than usual!

We also got our electricity and gas bill yesterday. The direct debit we have set up has been paying about 40 pounds less a month that we've been consuming. So over the last quarter, we've racked up a good debit we'll be paying off over the next four months. Ouch, again.

Some days nothing beats convenience. Today we wish we lived on base.

(Having said that, though, if the weather stays half-way decent today, Caleb and I are walking down to town to buy produce at the market and to check out a few historic sites I've missed over the last 15 months. Hooray for that!)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Living Off Base

It's a beautiful spring day in England today, which means tomorrow it will probably snow! But for today, I'm enjoying the sunshine and a nice breeze. Even the dogs are enjoying the weather. I let them out, and Zeus laid down for a snooze on the rocks in the back yard. To think I thought they'd never get used to a gravel yard!

Caleb and I took a walk down to the town center, and I began to think of all the reasons I enjoy living off base. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes I wish I lived on base just for the convience of being near everything. Also, I'd love to spend less on gas. (Who wouldn't?!)

But if I lived on base, I couldn't just walk to a town center. I love being able to throw Caleb in his stroller and be downtown within ten minutes. I love the town we live in, with the quiet river that runs through it. I love the watching the ducks and geese and pointing them out to Caleb, as if he has any idea what I'm saying yet. I love being able to pop into little shops and pick up a cute shirt for him for under 3 pounds.I love chatting with British mums on the way. I love living in a town with medieval churches, an ancient priory ruin and a treasure named after it! I just living somewhere with history.

Sometimes I hate driving the 30 minutes into base 3-6 times a week. And I long for the convience of being close to the commissary when I realize we're out of milk.

But when people ask me why I live so far out (and really, it's not THAT far), I think of days like today and genuinely feel like it's a good exchange: trading in the convenience for the experience. I know it's not for everyone, but I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Does learning ever make you feel...stupid?

Tonight is one of those nights where I am absolutely floored at how little I know. Where my own ignorance and arrogance has come to stare me in the face and remind me that for as much as I have learned and as much as I have grown in my nearly 29 years of existences: all of my understanding is nothing.


Some days I really think that there is no knowledge superior to kindness. That no amount of intellect can trump humanity. That the only thing worth knowing is compassion.

And that, my friends, is an area in which I suffer desperately. I have a friendly demeanor. I'm outgoing and, for the most part, easy to get along with. But being gregarious does not make one a good person or good friend. Some days I shudder to think what lies beneath my own smile. All the muck and mire of being a fragile human. All the stink and mess of dealing with myself and dealing with others.

Tonight I am grateful that 29 is still young. That I hopefully will have years and years to truly become kind and honest and worthy of all the love and blessings I have received. (And I know grace means that I don’t have to earn those things. This is more about being able to face myself in the mirror.) Tonight I am grateful tomorrow is a new day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Roly Poly

Smarty pants! Caleb learned to roll over from his back to tummy some time ago, but would only roll to the left sid. And he didn't much feel like rolling from tummy to back. I gave him plenty of floor time to encourage such activity, but he just wasn't interested in rolling other directions.
Then yesterday I was at a friends house, and he suddenly started not only rolling tummy-to-back, but to the right side as well! I put him on the floor, and he rolled over three times in a row! This is both exciting and a little nerve-wracking. He's truly becoming mobile, which means I need to get crackalackin' at baby-proofing the house.

I've purchased some British plug covers and placed them throughout the house. But I also need some American plug covers for the transformers that don't have things plugged into both sockets. I have a couple of baby gates I guess I need to bring in from the garage. And I really need to think about ordering some cushiony framey type things to put around the edge of the coffee table. (Our coffee table has a metal frame, so we definately need to baby-proof that bad boy!)

He's also learned how fun it is to blow raspberries while he has a mouth full of baby food. It cracks him up.

In response to Katie's comments about being that annoying person at the passport office: I am! The problem is that I have to deal with the MPF passport office on base, and they deal with the embassy. And the MPF office NEVER EVER answers their phone. I need to make it a point to go to Mildehall this week for some obnoxious face time. Tommy stopped in last week and received promises to have the situation checked on, but alas: no response. That doesn't stop me from calling 5-6 times a day, but their answer rate is about 5%. Ridiculous.

Additionally, it's still within the embassy's work time frame. They said it can take 6-10 weeks. This Friday will make 10 weeks since the second submission of the application. (Never mind that we submitted it the first time 4 weeks before that on the correct application at the time, and it was returned to us because they didn't process it before a new app was affective!)

Anyway, still waiting. Still calling. Needing to go in one of these days and cause a ruckus.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I see London, I see France...

Have I mentioned lately that I want to go to Paris? Because I REALLY do. And it's not even about Paris. The fact of the matter is that we have two and a half more years left in England. And as far as I know, Paris ain't goin' anywhere.

But when else in my LIFE will I be able to see Paris with the Vogels and the Miles?! I'll tell you when: NEVER. I want to see my friends that I haven't seen in years! And I want to show someone from the states my baby before he grows into a toddler!

Maybe the heavens will shine upon us with a passport miracle before May, but it looks very unlikely. But just in case, I picked up a book about Paris from the lirbary today. Sooner or later we'll see Paris. I guess it doesn't hurt to be prepared one way or the other.

In the meantime, we wait...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

When Caleb gets happy, he gives a huge, gummy, no-teeth smile. But when he gets really happy, the opened-mouth smile is accompanied by a little quiver of his tongue. I know it sounds strange, but it’s quite possibly the cutest thing ever. It’s as if he’s so happy he can’t even control himself. As if his body recognizes that a smile isn’t significant enough, that a little tongue-quake must accompany it.

He gets fits of "gigglocaucus." Gigglocaucus was a phrase in a British cartoon called Danger Mouse that used to be on Nickelodean when we lived in Las Vegas. If I remember the episode correctly (and it’s been over 20 years), there was some sort of gas that the villian released into the air that gave people uncontrollable fits of laughter. Caleb’s fits come at odd moments. For instance, he would not stop laughing when I tried to give him a bottle the other day. For some reason, he found it hilarious. When I removed the bottle to play with him, he stopped. Bottle back in: peals of laughter. I don’t understand his humor yet, but I love it all the same.

Today he passed gas and immediately laughed. It was fantastic.

He squeals when the dogs walk into the room. He’ll follow them with his eyes everywhere they go and try to attract their attention in any way possible. For their part, the dogs are largely uninterested in him. But occasionally they’ll give him the time of day, and he laughs and chatters at them.

He loves the ABC’s. It’s an almost guaranteed way to calm him, about 90 percent of the time. I spent over ten minutes tonight singing the ABC’s because he tired enough to be cranky, but not tired enough to sleep yet.

Caleb now wakes up in the morning by talking to himself. He starts to come to, finds his reflection in the crib mirror and gives himself a pep talk to start off the day. And yet, whenever we pass the mirror in the hall and I point his reflection out to him, he gets shy and turns away!

He’s such a good baby. He’s slept through the night since he was about 9 weeks old, for the most part. He really only fusses when he needs something (nap, diaper, food.) He's smiley and responsive and totally fun. I could seriously put this kid on and ice cream cone and eat him up. I can’t beleive how lucky I am to be his mom.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I'll readily admit to being someone whose mood is influence by the weather. And this early spring weather in England this year is bizarre. From one day to the next you can't be sure if you'll have sunshine, rain, snow or wind. And the wind has been insane this year! I guess spring is making up for a mild winter. We've had our barbque blown over by the wind. I have no idea how our neighbor's back yard tents haven't blown away.

It's nice to have Tommy home. This time last year I was preparing to say good-bye to him, again. I was crying in the shower every morning with no idea how I'd make it through my pregnancy alone in a foreign country. It really was a low point for me, to be honest. I'm excited to have my husband home for spring and summer. Last year he left right as it was starting to get nice and returned in the middle of winter. Nice.

So we've been taking advantage of Tommy's presence and doing a little bit of traveling in the form of daytrips. We'd love to see some other countries soon, but alas, the Embassy has not seen fit to send us a passport for the little pip squeak. Twelve weeks and counting!

We saw Stonehenge in March, which was really neat. For some reason I expect them to disappoint me by being smaller than I thought they'd be. But they lived up to my imagination. We also visited the city of Salisbury and saw their cathedral, which houses one of the remaining 4 copies of the Magna Carta. The reason it's the best preserved copy, according to the chuch, is that is was mis-filed in their library! Strange to think it would have been treated more poorly had people know what it was.

This past Wednesday we did a half a day (less, really) in Norwich. Norwich is only 30 miles north of hear, and is a nice drive up the A11. We had some issues finding parking and ended up spending a very short amount of time exploring the castle in the town center. It's 900 years old and was a prison for 500 of those years. It was kind of creepy seeing some of the punishment devices on display. It also made me realize just how small people used to be! I would have fit in nicely.

Then the next day we went down to London. I have to admit, this was my least favorite trip. London is very stressful, especially when traveling with a kid. Taking the tube with a stroller is an absolute nightmare. We did see the Tower of London, which was really cool. My favorite part was seeing the Crown Jewewl. GORGEOUS! Breathtaking, really. I'm such a nerd in that everywhere I go, I have to imagine I'm someone directly involved in everything I see. For instance, I have to imagine I'm a princess picking out my crown for coronation. Otherwise, why bother even seeing the crowns?! I wish they would have had fake crowns to pose in for pictures. As it is, NO pictures are allowed in the vault at all.

Then on Saturday, we went to Bath. I think Bath has the potential to be my favorite place in England. Sadly, there was an accident on the motorway on the way down which added two hours to our trip and took those two hours from our time in town. But we did get to do a walking tour in which I saw a house Jane Austen lived in when she wrote Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. And we did tour the ancient Roman Baths, which were really cool. We also saw the Assembly Rooms where people use to dance and play cards. I wanted to tour the Fashion Musem there to see the dresses from back in the day, but we didn't have time. I also wanted to tour Bath's Abby, but again: no time.

Driving down to Bath was really cool once we got close. The country side is just what you'd expect of England. Rolling, green hills dotted with sheep and country churches. Absolutely beautiful. This is why I wanted to move to England!

We wanted to go to Paris next month to meet some friends of ours, but it's looking less and less likely with the whole passport situation. While I know there will be other times to see it, I'm disappointed we may not get to see Jeff and Mandy and Wendy and Miles! Boo!

Anyway, I'm happy spring is here. I'm happy my husband is here. I'm happy to have these opportunities to see the world and really enjoy life in England. Caleb is healthy, happy and well. As of Monday he weighed 16 lbs 11 oz. He’s sitting up on his own (with occasional stumbles). He laughs a lot and will talk your ear off if given the chance. He loves the dogs and thinks they are the most entertaining creatures that ever lived. I couldn’t have asked for a cooler baby. Life is good.