Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thursday, 20 July 2006

Writing a new post does at least one thing for me; it reminds me what the date is. Time passes so fast I can't seem to keep track of days. Like yesterday. I knew Kathryn had a drumming workshop in nursery but I thought it was on Thursday the 19th. So I didn't pay the fee and didn't pay much attention until I got home from Oxford (!) Wednesday afternoon and she told me she'd been drumming. Turns out it was on Wednesday the 19th, not Thursday the 19th. She drummed anyway. I paid them today. I blamed the fact that I'm American. I wonder how long I can get away with that excuse...

Okay, Oxford. Holy Cow! It made me wish I'd been aware of the broader world around me when I was a teenager. It didn't occur to me that I would want to go to any other university but BYU (foolish me). Except, well Utah State, of course. I would have LOVED to go to university at Oxford if only for the beauty of the campus and the city! Since all my friends are brilliant, any of you who might have the slightest chance of deciding to do post grad work, do it at Oxford! I'm not very far away and it would be SO cool! I could live vicariously through you which I'm sure would strengthen our relationship. And you could smuggle me onto campus and let me into the ultra cool reading room, which again would strengthen our relationship.

What was my deal as a teenager? I wasn't savvy then. I didn't understand what education really meant. I wonder now if I've ever really challenged myself intellectually. I don't think I ever made myself really work hard in school. I always tested well and was told how intelligent I was, but I wonder if that made me complacent. I don't know. I still want to finish my education, but even saying "finish my education" sounds dumb because shouldn't we always be learning? So, I guess I mean my formal education. I hear the conversations of my writing friends and read their writing and am so blown away by the vast knowledge bubbling around in their very active brains. I am in awe of those who are truly educated, thinking people.

For the uneducated, Oxford is made up of 35 separate colleges. Each of the colleges is like a separate campus, though they're pretty close to each other. And, within each college, all subjects are taught. So in Oxford's Jesus college, for instance, they have professors in all the areas like mathematics, English, etc. Most of the colleges surround a square and they each have their own church tower (I believe). The students are taught in tutorial situations so there's a lot more one-on-one time. Their terms are eight weeks long and very intense. Did you know that there is one college at Oxford called All Souls college that is simply for thinking? If you're accepted, you spend three years thinking and at the end you are expected to produce work that will have an impact on the world. How amazing is that?? And how brilliant would you have to be to get in?? I think 14 Nobel Prize winners went to school at Oxford and many of the prime ministers. For me, I would be so taken with the setting, that it would be enough for me. And I'd flunk out. Probably.

Dumb stuff...I fell and hurt my shoulder a few weeks ago. Just when it gets feeling better, I do some other dumb thing that makes it hurt again. Like lifting a huge pot of boiling water wrong, like bending down to get something low in the grocery store and then smacking my shoulder on the trolly (cart) handle, or today, tripping on the rug in the hallway after cleaning up the broken salsa jar that fell out of the back of the minivan onto the driveway and wrenching my shoulder when I couldn't catch myself because I didn't want to get salsa on the wall. Like I said, dumb stuff. I don't think it's ever going to get better.

Newsflash. Major milestone moment. Hold onto your hats folks--I think I'm finally committed to living in England. I've done it. It's happened. I've had my hair colored and cut. She came to my house, she did my hair and I'm okay with it. They do hair here and they do it well. So I'm okay. And I still have good hair.

Gotta go make dinner. Real life intrudes on blog life once again. Hugs all around!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday, 14 July 2006

I'm having an "I-Suck-As-A-Parent" Day. Of course I shouldn't use the word "suck". That's part of why I'm a bad parent. Maybe I should title today the "Why Am I Entrusted with Six Children?" Day.

But, as often happens, I have not enough time to write about it right now. Just imagine that today no one likes me and I'm grumpy. There you go.

I'm due at the Teddy Bear Picnic at Kathryn's nursery and then to the Mentions Assembly for Hannah where she will demonstrate some really kickin' gymnastics moves before her peers, so I gots to go.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

Okay, so this morning was my first ever attempt as a parent to provide a costume for a child. It's Anglo Saxon Day and our 8 year old, Hannah, was desperate for something to wear. I told her to put on a top and some shorts (because whatever we came up with, I wanted her to at least maintain some semblance of dignity) and then we braided her hair, wrapped an old brown duvet cover around her, draped the end over her shoulder, pinned it with an old gold broach (a must have for the well dressed A.S. woman) and voila! Instant Anglo Saxon Girl! Sure it looks like a modified Greek toga, but Hannah was happy and that's all that matters, right?? I told Tim that I really, really need a sewing machine, but quick...can't go through this again...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sunday, July 9, 2006 "The Beginning Anniversary"

My first Svithe! (Thanks, th.!)

Today is the one year anniversary of what I think of as The Beginning of the Relationship with Tim. Things happened on this day a year ago and in the following weeks that left no doubt in my mind that my relationship with Tim was not happenstance or chance, but was instead, a direct result of Divine Intervention. I am absolutely convinced that a kind and loving Heavenly Father, who was mindful of us both, brought us together at this particular time.

It is hard to believe a year has passed. It's also hard to believe how quickly everything happened when I look back on it. On this day last year we wrote to each other on our private emails for the first time. The next day, we instant messaged for the first time. A day or two after that we spoke on the phone for the first time and that Friday Tim sent me a dozen beautiful red roses with a romantic card. I kept that card in my planner and looked at it every day thereafter. I think we instant messaged and spoke on the phone every single day after the first time he called until he came to the States for our wedding.

A month from tomorrow is the one year anniversary of our first date. We were engaged six days after that. It didn't seem fast at the time, just very natural and right. I didn't even have to pray about it, I think because I'd been praying so long for guidance and for the right man to come into my life that I knew it when it happened. I remember telling my parents that if this one wasn't "it" I would pack up and move to Tibet because there was no way anything could feel this right with anyone else.

I look back on that time and the twenty years of waiting for it to come and I think it's sort of like childbirth. They say that once you have the baby in your arms you forget the pain. Now that I have what I've longed for all my life, a wonderful husband and children, it's not that I've forgotten the pain, it's just that the pain seems worth it. I would never want to go through it again, mind you. I'm not stupid. But I also wouldn't want to trade all the things that I learned and all the ways that I changed and I would never, ever in a million years want to trade being married to Tim and mothering our children.

I guess I'm sort of the stubborn type. I have to feel pain to be willing to learn and to change. Well, it appears that way, at least. I remember hearing somewhere that pain shouldn't be wasted, meaning that we shouldn't let whatever we can learn from our experiences be lost in the morasse of anger or revenge or bitterness. Instead, we should be grateful, learn from those experiences and move onward--wiser--toward better things.

I felt pain during my time single. Sometimes it felt like the loneliness would eat my alive, even though I have a wide circle of friends and a supportive and loving family. I love them all. I enjoyed my life, my friends and my family. I attending family gatherings through the years and loved being an aunt to my nieces and nephews. I rejoiced when the people I loved got married and when babies were born to them. I celebrated birthdays and baptisms and watched Easter Egg hunts and basketball games.

But in the last few years, after such a long period of being the only single sibling, even family gatherings became more and more difficult. It felt like I was watching the years go by with no significant changes in my life. I learned so many things during that time and I changed quite a bit, especially in the last few years but I felt that I had nothing to show for it. While my siblings and friends got married, finished school, bought houses, moved away, moved back, had babies, etc, etc, I was still in my little condo, working every day and wondering about the purpose of my existance.

I tried not to compare my life to theirs and I did my best to progress as a human being. I struggled with feeling self-imposed guilt over possible mistakes I may have made and wondered if there were places I should have been or things I should have done. I struggled to see myself as faithful when I would leave church early sometimes because I couldn't sit through another Primary program wishing I had a child up there singing songs and fumbling over not-so-memorized text.

Over time I worked through most of those things and came to believe (at least 90% of the time) that the way my life had played out was God's plan for me and that I needed to let go and trust Him. I also eventually had to turn my desire for marriage and a family all over to God, deciding finally that if I was supposed to marry, it would have to come from God because I'd done all I knew how to do. I simply didn't know where else to turn.

I determined to make some changes, to focus positively on Plan B: completing my education, becoming a psychotherapist, buying a house, planning some European travel and continuing to enjoy my family and my wonderful circle of friends. I went to school part time for a year while I continued to work full-time and looked forward to the day when I could quit my job and finally build a career doing something I felt I was intended to do. My sadness and loneliness did not go away but at least I had a purpose for my life.

Then, Tim came along. Out of the blue. He slid into my life so quietly and naturally that I didn't break a sweat. So many things I'd learned about good relationships seemed to be happening with him, that feeling of deep affection, quiet contentment, and most of all, peace. The progression of our relationship spoke volumes to me of Heavenly Father's knowledge of our individual personalities and our most closely held hopes and desires. I am also convinced that He prepares us for the things He has in store for us, that no experience is wasted if we allow it to teach us and that He will guide us in all things.

The most significant lesson I learned is that I can trust God. I also learned to be grateful in all circumstances because some of the events that took place in my life that were the most painful were the very things that prepared me for this specific situation. We do not see all things and we do not know what Heavenly Father has planned for our lives, but I can tell you this: you will never go wrong if you trust Heavenly Father and believe that all things that occur in your life are meant to bring you closer to Him. It's not easy and oftentimes, God's way "doesn't look good on paper" but there's no more secure way to go through life than to trust Him.

The End.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Thursday, 6 July 2006

This is an edited version of an email sent to family. Some repeat of information, but I don't think anyone will mind, right?

It's hard to believe time has gone by this fast, but Tim and I have been married for six months now. In some ways it feels like I've always been here and in some ways it feels like I'm barely getting used to it.

Tim and I traveled to Venice for his 45th birthday in June. We had 4 days and 3 nights in Italy. The funny thing is, the flight was about as long as going from Utah to California. Things are so much closer here. Venice was amazing. We bought a couple of good guidebooks before we went and had a lot of fun reading about places as we saw them. I especially like the Rick Steves' guide. You know the guy--the lovable travel nerd on public television...

We stayed in a place he recommended. It was very nice. A family dwelling (for a very rich family!) built in the 1500s. Of course, most things in Venice were built in the 1500s. One thing he said was that Venice is crowded and touristy and has been for about 400 years, so just get used to it! I'm fascinated with the fact that the Venicians sank a million trees into the lagoon to build on. A million! They deforested some parts of Italy because of all the trees they used! Anyway, it's a fact I tell everyone who asks me about the trip. I don't know why, but I feel compelled to share strange pieces of random information.

I felt less foreign in Italy than I do in England because every other person in Venice was American! It was nice, actually. Ohhhhh...and the gelato. MMMMMM....scrupdillyicious!

Needless to say, my passport is looking ever so much more interesting, even if it still says my maiden name, not my married name. I'll have to take care of that soon. That and my 2005 taxes... Yikes.

It looks like my condo may have finally sold! Keep your fingers crossed for me. While it will be really nice to have that little issue put to bed, there's a part of me that's a little sad, giving up my last tie to the US and selling the last thing that is really mine. It's a good thing, though. I told Tim that in poker terms, this means I'm "all in".

The kids are doing well. Lizzie is home until August 17th, at which time she will be flying to Edmonton to complete her second of three years of university as an exchange student. I think she's planning on heading down to the states for holidays and such. She's finished her first year with great marks, so she's pleased and we're pleased for her. It's good to have her home.

Steve finished his A level tests and we haven't received the results yet. They don't really have a graduation ceremony of any kind, so I'm not quite sure how to celebrate this with him. Make him a carrot cake?? He'll be taking an art course during the next year until he goes on his mission because most universities here don't allow you to go for one year, then stop for two years, then return. The stake president here requires that all missionaries earn a good sum toward their own missions, which I think is fabulous, so Steve will be getting a job soon also.

Chris is finishing the year and doing well. He is deciding right now what to study for his A levels. Such pressure--deciding at 15 what your educational path will be!

Sarah has just finished a series of outdoor skills classes and she's had a great time with that. School seems to be going well for her, even if mixed with the normal preteen drama and angst.

Hannah continues to take horseriding lessons and loves them. She seems to be really good at it. I'm always happy to hear the other, more knowledgeable mothers say good things about her riding. Then I don't seem so obviously biased.

Kathryn is such a bright and happy girl! She is at the beginning of my favorite age--the three to four years old time. She will say the funniest things, like all 3 and 4 year olds do. I need to carry a notebook with me to write them all down. She has started saying her own prayers and will thank Heavenly Father for just about everything under the sun...pigs, the sky, stars, horses, the wind, new shoes, Skooby Do...

Since summer hit, I've been amazed at the number of people who believe that any sized arm is worth baring. Tank tops abound. Oh, and tops that don't quite cover the belly. And the bellies can be quite sizable. I've even seen 8 or 9 months pregnant bellies naked for all eyes to see. A strange experience the first time. It's like a train wreck. You almost can't pull your eyes away from it. Not that a pregnant woman isn't beautiful, mind you. I'd just rather not see her child-swollen abdomen naked, thanks. In some ways it's cool that you don't have to be the perfect size here to wear whatever you want. It makes me feel better...and yet...

Then there's the tattoos. Wearing of summer clothes has led to, inevitably, the baring of arms and backs and stomachs and legs all covered with tattoos of every shape and variety. And I'm not talking about the men here, folks. I am fairly unflappable, but the size and dimensions of tats on these women is flabbergasting. And they're not even good quality ones. I've seen prison-made that are better. Well. On TV.

We planted six courgette (zucchini) plants in our garden. They're just now coming up to maturity finally. All will benefit from our bounty, I fear. I'm sure people at church will start avoiding us once the Great Zucchini Giveaway! begins. There will be lots and lots of zucchini bread. Anyone have a great recipe they'd like to share? I'd love it! and any other zucchini recipes, please.

I tripped over a hidden brick today and gave my right shoulder quite a slam. The GP sent me to have it xrayed, fearing that I may have fractured the humorous (sp??). I'm happy to report that it is not broken, but merely sprained. I'm glad I brought the Percecet with me...

Tuesday we had a genuine 4th of July barbecue!! It was with some American friends, an Australian friend with her Brit husband, the bishop and his family who lived in the states for 8 years and the missionaries. It was great! I made Mom's potato salad and we grilled hot dogs and all that. On Monday, we were invited to a "Pre-Independence Day" celebration at a lake some friends manage. They had American flags up and everything. They made the Americans sing the Star Spangled Banner and they bought us root beer. It was a treat! They don't like root beer here because they say it tasted like an antiseptic "Germaline". We had a great time both nights. I swear, I've made more potato salad in the last two weeks than I made in all of my life up to now.

I'm doing really well. I'm really enjoying England. It's beautiful during this time of year. Well, frankly, I haven't seen an ugly time yet...

Love to all!!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Monday, 3 July 2006

It really does make more sense to write the day, the month and the year, in that order, doesn't it? More orderly. Everyone else does it. Why not Americans? My ex-boss Paul does it. It used to annoy the heck out of me, but now I sort of admire his maverick spirit.

What do chewed up gum and dog poop have in common? Both of them are left in copious amounts on every conceivable pathway by inconsiderate morons!

That is all.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

July 2, 2006...or 2 July 2006, whatever. Sunday

I do find comfort writing what day of the week I'm writing. I'm not sure why. It's like knowing the day of the week makes me more in control somehow. But it doesn't. Not really.

Several of my friends have taken to writing Sunday entries that th. has coined a term for...Svithes. (Look at his blog for an explanation. I have no idea how to link it, otherwise I could be very cool and have a highlighted word HERE that would take you directly to it. Dang this high-falutin' technology!) I would like to write my very own Svithe in a minute but first, I must digress and make reference to a happy part of my day today. Then after that, I'll be all churchy and stuff, okay?

So, when I left America, I brought with me a year's supply of my Franklin Planner pages. Say what you like about them pro and con; I for one can no longer function without one. I'm just not that smart. I've had one for 20 someodd years now and I find its presence comforting. Sort of a security blanket for adults. ANYWAY...come to find out, my lovely leather Classic-sized version is just too dang big to carry in my bag (US translation: purse). Now that I don't lug a carry-on to work everyday, it's just not practical to keep it with me at all times.

So, in an effort to adapt, I converted to a small version of a "planner" here and I tried my very best to be happy with it. I bought some memo pages, some dividers and even an address book insert. I gave it a go. February through May, I did my best. Then, I could stand it no more. After weeks of secretly perusing the Franklin Covey website online shopping pages (UK and US) I finally confessed to Tim that I couldn't take it anymore, that I needed to spend a wad o' cash to get me some Franklin that would fit in my bag. (The "Compact" version.) I told him I'd found a binder/insert combo that saved some $$ but it was still a nice chunk o' change. (That should be pound signs, but I haven't converted my laptop to British yet.)

Anyway, in typical generous Tim style, he told me, "Whatever you want, dear." I clapped my hands like a child on Christmas morning and flipped open the laptop so fast it made his head spin. I spent at least an hour just looking at every gadget and form and cool accessory that Franklin Covey could produce. I ordered my new planner and pages and felt such a sense of relief. After they arrived (while we were in Venice) I had the most wonderful time putting everything into the soft leather binder, looking at every divider and organizing the daily pages. Thinking about it now makes me happy.

ANYWAY, the catch was...the pages didn't start until JULY!! Can you believe it??? I've had to wait about three weeks to use it. I've looked through it every day, adding significant dates and appts and birthdays and anniversaries, all the while, longing for the time when I could pull it out and make notes and know what was going on. Well, yesterday was the day! And today was the first time I got to pull it out of my bag at church and make notes of all the announcements. I feel so organized. I feel so much more in control. Sure it may be an illusion, but it's an illusion I can live with.

ANYWAY...Kathryn has just charged up the stairs and announced that it's dinnertime and I'd better come or I'm not going to get any food. So, later for the Svithe. Now Tim is calling so it really is time...