Sunday, March 26, 2017

Christmas Parties

What is the holiday season without lots of parties?!?!  We had quite a variety of experiences with each Christmas party.

The first Christmas party was Rackspace.  The theme was Ibiza and one article of clothing had to be white.  Of course, I had no clue what an Ibiza party was so google to the rescue.  It's a beach party in London in December!  Trying to plan what in the world are we going to wear was quite comical.  I don't know if I've already mentioned but our wardrobes are small, like really small.  We have clothes out for the current season and the others seasons are packed away in the attic.  Our tiny, pain to get to attic.  So even if I have a white article of clothing that would work, there is no way that I'm climbing into the attic to go through my summer clothes to find it!  Jason is a little easier and can of course wear a white button down with his jeans.  So, I check the Next clearance section on their website and find a off the shoulder white dress for 5 pounds!  Yes, done.  Oh wait, it is a summer dress and its December.  How am I going to get to the party and home from the party (which is an hour and half away from Chiswick) without freezing?!??!  I decide I can wear the dress with my skinny jeans, fringe boots, and leather jacket.  I am now feeling excited about the party and have an outfit that will fit the theme, totally proud of myself.  I did mention it was December which means that it is wet, cold, and we don't own a car.  Walking in December, guarantees that you will suffer from several colds, sore throats, and any other virus that comes when you are wet and cold all the time.  I came down with a horrible cold and laryngitis right before the party.  There is no way that we are going to make it.  There goes all my perfect planning and the white dress was put in the attic with all the other summer clothes.

The next Christmas get together was the moms from Sebastian's class and the other reception class at Grove Park. The idea was to get together and drink wine and hang out.  The get together was at a one of the parents' house and there were about 8 moms total.  A couple of dads showed up briefly.  We ended up sitting around the reception room and talking.  It was a tough night and I actually left crying.  I started wondering if we would ever fit in here.  The experiences that the moms were sharing was completely different than mine.  Conversations included first concerts and movies they watched growing up and secondary school and traveling as a child.  I couldn't find a way to connect with them.  Sebastian has had a hard time fitting in with the boys at school too.  I was hoping this gathering would help bridge some gaps but instead I feel like it has made it wider.

I didn't have much time to feel sorry for myself because we had the Year 2 (Taryn's class) Christmas party at our house.  We turned our house into a Christmas Grotto.  Of course it ended up the way all parties do, everyone hung out in the kitchen.  It was very lighthearted and was able to meet several new moms and dads that we had seen in passing at school.  The group of parents from Year 2 are very social and love to have a good time.  It makes it much much easier to fit in.  We had a dance party and singing in the kitchen as many bottles of Prosecco and beer were consumed.

The hardest and probably most emotional part of living in London so far from our family and friends is the ups and downs.  I feel like I'm on a roller coaster and there are lots of great days but there are tough days.  There are days were I wonder if I will ever feel completely comfortable here and confident in what I'm doing.  I realize that no matter where we live there will be good days and bad days.  I try to remember that this is an experience and you have the good and the bad.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Kick off Christmas with the Toy Parade

We have avoided taking our kids to Hamley's ever since we have moved here.  Our kids have no idea that the world's largest toy store is in London.  We still avoided the store but went to the Toy Parade.  To kick off our Christmas, we bundled up and headed to the Hamley's Toy Parade.

It was brilliant and one of the kids favorite activities from Christmas.  We saw so many toys from Barbie to Fireman Sam to R2D2 to Ghost Busters to Elmo.  There were marching bands and dancers.  Our kids learned the art of maintaining their front row position as they had to push and elbow other kids from pushing them out.

Jillian started off the morning as happy as the other two but started getting sick as the parade went on.  By the time we got home, she was running a 102 fever and took a 4 hour nap.  She recovered in the next few days but we felt horrible for dragging her out when she was sick.

Enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Quick Trip Home

2017 was a rough start for me.  I lost my patience, cried a lot, and was exhausted.  My mom went home early from London because her health was deteriorating fast.  I felt helpless and scared.  I was also extremely frustrated.  I'm too young to lose my mom and my kids needs more time with their Nana.  I lost my grandparents early want nothing more in the world but for my kids to have LOTS of time with all their grandparents.  Sorry, I got a little sidetracked.  It was a glimpse into a harsh reality of a world where my mom didn't exist.  

My mom went into the hospital New Year's Eve and had major surgery on New Year's Day.  The surgery took 4 hours and recovery was up to her body.  The doctors weren't sure what to expect but with each new day came more and more positive news.  We serve a mighty God who was with my mom and every decision that was made in the last few weeks.   Every prayer was felt and surrounded our family.

London never felt so far away as it did those days my mom was in the hospital.  I always said today's world is so much smaller but all of a sudden it felt enormous!  I was forced with the decisions of do you go or do you wait?  Do my parents need me?  Are they ok without me and am I ok over here?  I found myself on my knees more in those days then ever in my life.  I then saw it clear, I'm going home.  I haven't been back to the states in a year and a half but I can't stay here.  I knew it was the right thing when I found a plane ticket for 700 USD!

We have the best friends in the world as the helped me prepare for leaving.  Friends referred temporary nannies and we found the perfect one from Jillian's school.  She has loved my kids, taught them, and has been there for them this week.  The kids had sleepovers and dinners and lots of hugs.  I had coffee dates with many friends talking to me about their experiences with their loved ones and words of encouragement.  I had phone calls and texts from friends back home offering prayers and love.  Jason had about 25 contact numbers as I boarded a plane to head home.  I have never felt so blessed with so much love surrounding us in London and The States.

I had a peaceful and quiet 10 hour flight to Houston.  I watched 3 movies, read a book, sent emails, chatted with friends and had no interruptions.  It was amazing and just what I needed.  I also ate chic fil a at the airport...chicken nuggets and waffle fries have never tasted better.  Then I finally boarded the plane to El Paso.

I'll never forget seeing my dad sitting there waiting for me.  The tears in our eyes as we talked about Mom and how she is expected to make a full recovery and it doesn't look like she needs chemo.  Praise the Lord!  

I spent the next week with my mom and dad.  It brought healing to my heart and clarity in my mind.  God works in amazing ways and at times you don't expect it.  I went to help my parents and they helped me.  I watched my mom try to regain her strength by walking laps around their house.  I watched my dad do ALL the household chores and could see the exhaustion in his face.  I was able to write spreadsheet formulas to make my mom's work more efficient, I cooked dinner, did laundry, cleaned the kitchen multiple times, help dad put up a pantry, and help mom with her long to do list.  I am grateful that I could go home and help them for a week and that was great but the other moments are a treasure I will hold onto forever.

My mom has been so sick for a while that I had forgotten what her smile was like when it reached all the ways to her eyes.  I have missed her laugh and her witty humor.  I loved those moments when my mom was happy.  I loved listening to my parents banter.  I loved the smiles and laughs.  I loved the open and honest conversations that led to healing tears.  I loved sharing of fears and future dreams.  I loved talking about my kids and how my parents see them.  I loved getting and giving hugs any time I wanted.  There is nothing better than when your daddy takes you into his arms for the best hug in the world!  I loved drinking margaritas and shopping at Target for the first time in a year and a half.  I loved every moment of the past week and I'm so grateful to the many people who made that happen!

Friends, hug your loved ones tighter today.  Call someone who knows you better than you know yourself and share what is on your heart.  Tell your friends how much they mean to you.  Smile so big today that it reaches your eyes! 💕