Happy New Year

January 2, 2014

A belated Happy New Year, but it is only January 2nd so it is not too late.  Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?  I did and one of them is to keep this a little better up to date as the blog was severely neglected last year.  My resolution is to do at least 1 post a week no matter how short and I will typically aim to add this on either a Saturday or a Sunday.

Plans for the New Year?  Yes, yesterday we purchased tickets to spend the Summer with the family back in England.  Miss K will celebrate her 7th Birthday surrounded by family both old and new as she, and I, will have several cousins that we have not yet met, and one is still to be born.  To say that we’re both excited is an understatement.  John will join us for the last 3 weeks but Kirsten and I will have 7 weeks in total with a couple of trips within trips too.  She’s already asking if she can take certain items with her.  There is no way we can do a count down for just under 5 months.  I am going to have to purchase a calendar for her room so that she can mark it off there herself.  Some of you may remember from years back that we did a 7 week countdown for a 5 week trip to England for Christmas and that was exhausting.  Anyone any other ideas or suggestions?

Back to School 2013-2014

August 4, 2013

Can you believe it.  I’ve not posted since February, and for that I am very apologetic, but tomorrow Miss K starts 1st Grade.  The time seems to have flown so quickly and with me going back to work and school it goes even more quickly.  Although I have not attended college over the Summer I have been working on a distance learning program through North American Montessori Center (NAMC) to gain a better understanding of the classroom.  Unfortunately this does not give me full American Montessori Society (AMS) or Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) accreditation as I have neither the time nor the funding right now, but I am thrilled with all that I am learning and how I can put this into action in the classroom.  During the last school year I completed 13 credits in Early Childhood Education through Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC) and have signed up to do a further 6 this semester whilst completing the third and final unit of my Preschool Training (3-6) of the NAMC.  The plan is that I will have my Child Development Associate (CDA) in Preschool for next Summer so keep your fingers crossed and then my Certificate of Completion in Early Childhood Education by Summer of 2015.  Nothing like keeping me out of mischief.  I have learned so much that I have put into action both with the children at school and also with Kirsten.

Very proud of her picture and waiting for it to be hung on her wall.

Very proud of her picture and waiting for it to be hung on her wall.

Miss K and I have actually just been doing some art work/crafts.  I had 2 of the Melissa and Doug peel and press sticker by number kits in my stash here at home so we have just completed them both as Miss K enjoyed the first 1 so much.  The first one was the Mermaid Reef and the second was the the Fairytale Princess.

I will try and be better this coming school year and at least aim to make one short post a week to keep you more up-to-date on our goings on.

Melissa & Doug Fairytale Princess

First Hike

February 24, 2013

On the trailWe have decided we need to do a little more that is different rather than just going to a mall etc.  Even though it was the Arts and Crafts Fair in Fountain Hills yesterday, and we love going, we were there in November and we didn’t want to spend money – trust me it is difficult to go and not to spend it.  I mentioned to John that we’d not been hiking as a family and I’d not been hiking since before getting pregnant. Daddy and Miss K on the trailDon’t forget Miss K will turn 6 in May!  I looked online to see what was going on at our local recreational area and the Ranger was going to be teaching knots.  I’ve not done any of these since my days in the Scouts and Guides so thought why not.  We would also introduce Miss K to the joys of hiking.  She can walk around Sea World, London and Disney for hours on end so lets try something different.  I’m not sure what she thought of it, but in the Nature Centre she was introduced to some examples of the local wildlife ie live snakes, spiders and scorpions. ParkJohn and I decided we are happier not knowing where they are around the house as we have never spotted them.  The weather was beautiful and you would never guess we’d had a couple of inches of snow just 3 days before.

We didn’t walk far and the trails were amazingly busy as you had the riders on horseback, the cyclists and then there were a couple of endurance runs.  We spent as much time letting people go past us as we did walking but it was still wonderful to get out.

Snow in Cave Creek!

February 23, 2013
Snow on the playground

Snow on the playground

Apologies, apologies.  I’ve not posted on here in the better part of a year.  So much has happened.  We had a wonderful family vacation to Disney World at the end of October and then had a quiet Christmas here in Arizona with just the 3 of us.  It turned out to be even more quiet as I was diagnosed with pneumonia the week before.  Fall Semester was extremely busy as I started studying and Full Length of Playground in Snowhave started the long road to achieving my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education.  I took and passed 6 credits in the Fall Semester.  This Semester I am taking 7.  I have completed 2 x 1 credit classes and am currently almost halfway through a 3 credit class.  Thankfully there is not quite as much homework, so far, from these classes.  I am enjoying myself immensely and John is awesome in all the support he’s given me.  What with working full-time at school (now in a preschool room); studying part-time and being a mother too I certainly have my hands full.  My “To Do” lists get longer on a daily basis.

SnowMy big reason for writing is, can you believe it, we had snow here this week?  It started as a hail storm at 3 pm in the afternoon and the kids at school were absolutely fascinated.  Two of us teachers stood outside trying to prevent parents coming into the parking lot as we discovered at one point it got extremely difficult to get back out as you have to climb a small ramp.  By the time I locked up and left the school though at 5.30 pm the snow had become slush, and then on Thursday we couldn’t let the children play outside for the first half of the day as it was all melting so fast that there was too much water around.  Now, well you would never guess that it had snowed at all except for the memories.

Trip to the UK: March 13 – April 3 (Part 3 – Highworth/Swindon)

August 5, 2012

Finally I get to the last section.  John’s parents rented a mini van and were kind enough to drive us up to Highworth (a small town just outside of Swindon, Wiltshire where my parents live) on Thursday 22 March.  We more than appreciated that they did this as it was a long day for them driving us up and then staying for lunch before driving home to Worthing again.  After Ann and Bill had left we took a gentle walk into Highworth (only 5 minutes from my parents) and then finished the trip by coming back past the park so that Kirsten could let off some steam.  Kirsten also found the trampoline in Nanny and Grampy’s garden that belongs to her older cousin, Chloe, and had many hours of fun on that during our stay.  Nora and Steve came over a little later once Steve had got home from work, with their son, my nephew, Simson.  This was our first time of getting to meet him and he was 13.5 months old.  Kirsten and Simson hit it off straight away.

I have to admit I don’t really remember what we did on Friday 23.  Saturday though we met up with Nora and family and their friend, Ben, who was also visiting and we drove off to a local farm, Roves Farm.  It was beautiful weather and we all had a wonderful time seeing the animals and walking the nature trail.  Nora helped Kirsten complete the nature trail leaflet (there were stamps all along the trail) which meant Kirsten got to hand it in and get a lollipop.  We drove back via Asda/Walmart and picked up dinner for everyone as my Mother had been at Cirencester Farmers’ Market that morning.  She has had a stall with a number of women selling home made foods and preserves for about the last 10-15 years and so has a very early start and is exhausted at the end of the day. Kirsten was exhausted too when we got “home” and fell asleep on the sofa in the living room, which for those of you who know us, also know that this never happens.

Sunday morning the three of us met up with Steve and Ben at the car park for the Uffington White Horse.  Again, another glorious day.  We were so lucky with the weather on this trip that we made the most of every last minute of it.  The Uffington White Horse is only about a 20 minute drive from my parents house and that was with me trying to remember the way in my head through the country lanes after not having been in over 10 years.  After a walk around the hillside for a couple of hours we decided to head across to Lechlade, the source of the River Thames.  Steve and Ben were going to come too, but after a chat with Nora they headed home to help out with Simson for a litle while.  Lechlade turned out to be extremely popular that afternoon due to the weather, but we managed to find a parking spot and had our walk along the Thames. When we got back to my parents in Highworth we found my father working with his bees.  Yes, he’s a Beekeeper and has been for over 20 years.  He also trains people that want to become beekeepers.  My Grandmother arrived a few minutes after us.  She has also lived in Highworth for about 20 years and typically joins my parents for dinner at least one day at the weekend.  It is slow, but she walks from her house to my parents although typically someone will drive her home again. She is in her 90s!  Nora, Steve, Simson and Ben then arrived to have dinner at my parents too.  My Mum loves to have a full house.  She’s used to a family of 6 but any excuse for a gathering and we’re all there.

Monday we drove across to Bicester to go to the Outlets.  We try and get here every visit and we noticed there had been a big change since our last visit.  There had been an expansion and they really, truly now are Designer outlets.  Kirsten passed out in the car back to my parents which is just as well as by the time we got back, my niece Chloe, she was 12 at the time, had arrived after school and my Aunt and Uncle, Kate and Stephen, who actually live in Chicago, were visiting the UK and spending the night with my Grandmother came over to my parents to say hello too.  My cousin, Rose, their daughter, was then staying on for a couple of months.  Rose had actually visited us in Phoenix for a night a couple of years ago when Kirsten was only a few years old.

Tuesday morning, Nora had invited us over to keep her and Simson company at their house in Wroughton.  It was a relaxing time and Kirsten got to spend some quality time with her cousin.  They even did some art work together that I brought home and had framed.  It is now hanging on her bedroom wall as a reminder of a lovely morning.  We left when Simson needed to go down for his nap after lunch.  Kirsten spent the afternoon trying to master the balance beam in the back garden at my parents house.  That evening John and I went out to curry with some of my friends to celebrate my birthday.  The Indian Restaurant was in Wanborough.  The restaurant was called The Burj and although I was out of practice in understanding the accents of the waiters they gave me a souvenir mug to take home as a birthday gift.  The food was delicious and the company of my friends was equally as good.  My friend, Kerry, organises an Indian meal out every time we return to visit England and both John and I appreciate this very much.

Wednesday was our last day before family and friends were due to start arriving from Norway.  Again, the weather was beautiful so we decided to take a day trip up to Cadbury World.  Definitely worth at least one visit in your lifetime especially if you have a sweet tooth and love your chocolate.  I enjoy chocolate, but Kirsten and John have extreme sweet teeth.  We didn’t book our tickets in advance but purchased them on the day.  Thankfully we arrived early in the day as there were a lot of school trips.  Word to the wise, if you are not going to arrive soon after opening make sure you have booked your tickets in advance.  On entering the exhibit you are each provided with a couple of full size bars of chocolate.  Trying to explain to Kirsten she could not eat these all at once was not easy and by the end of our visit although she’d not eaten everything she’d had more than enough chocolate.  On our return to Highworth/Swindon area we decided to make a surprise visit to the older of my two brothers, Magnus, and his partner, Kim and their children.  They were just getting home from shopping so that was perfect.  We spent a couple of hours with them before heading back to my parents house.

Thursday my friend Irene was flying in from Norway to visit for my birthday weekend.  Irene and I met when I was at Seljord Folkehogskole from 1990-1991.  We have managed to see each other a couple of times since this time.  A visit for a 5 year reunion; then Irene met myself and John in Denmark in late 2006 when I was pregnant and travelling with John on a business trip; then most recently when Kirsten and I went to Norway for the long weekend end of 2010 we took the bus to Larvik, where Irene lives, and stayed overnight with her and her family.  I was thrilled that Irene had agreed to come over to England to help celebrate my birthday.  John, Kirsten and I drove to Heathrow to collect Irene as she was staying with us at my parents house.  My Aunt, Anne, well she’s really my Mum’s best friend from childhood and is classed as “Aunt” was also flying into Heathrow today, but not till later.  She was bringing her daughter, Margrethe, with her.  Margrethe is my Mother’s Goddaughter.  They were staying at a local bed and breakfast during their stay.  Anne and Margrethe fly to England for every special event that they get invited to.  It was a leisurely late afternoon and evening.

Friday.  Well it’s my 40th birthday and we had decided to go and visit the sites starting out at Stonehenge and finishing at Avebury to see the Stone Circles.  It was a little overcast, but what a fantastic memory for my big day.  Thank you to everyone.  We were at Avebury Stone Circles and bumped into John’s parents.  They were coming to my party tomorrow, Saturday, but hadn’t known previously if they were going to come down the night before or not.  I insisted that they come over to my parents house later that day for Fish and Chip supper.  Anne and Margrethe also joined us for dinner.  I think the total was in the region of 12 or 13 and then my Aunt and Uncle and daughter, Clare, Thom and Victoria arrived a little later.  They had driven down from Edinburgh and were going to stay with my Grandmother.  Of course, we can’t forget that my cousin Rose, from Chicago, was also staying with my Grandmother so Victoria actually stayed at one of the local Bed and Breakfasts.  It was a lovely evening.

Saturday morning arrived and everyone was getting excited.  Today was my official birthday party and was being held at a Twelve Oaks Golf Club in Highworth. Over 40 members of friends and family came along.  My Dad went round and gave everyone labels so that people could tell how I met them.  I had friends from secondary school, friends from Norway, family, nieces and nephews.  It was wonderful that so many people wanted to help me celebrate.  Apologies to anyone that I forgot to mention.  Dinner was amazing and the room was large and spacious allowing us all room to move around and chat.  For those who could, we then went back to my parents house for tea and cake (very British I know for my American friends).  I can’t say it enough, but I had a wonderful day.

Sunday morning saw us going to the local craft shops.  Irene, like myself is also a craft enthusiast but, if I do say so myself, so much better.  She had asked to go to a local craft store.  My sister recommended Hobbycraft.  I’d never been as this was a new shop since we’d left England but would highly recommend.  Irene was in heaven.  The cost of craft supplies in Norway are extremely high so she made sure she stocked up. We had to say goodbye later that afternoon to Irene, Anne, Margrethe, my youngest brother, Conrad and his wife Marie-Clare.  Conrad and MC were driving home to Worthing and the others were all flying back to Norway on the same flight believe it or not.  My Dad drove them back to Heathrow this time.

Monday, our last day.  I had to work out the packing of everything.  Thankfully we had thought ahead and already prepaid an extra suitcase.  Definitely worth while and far cheaper.  It actually worked out cheaper than sending a package over.  There was a lot of weighing on the scales to distribute the weight back evenly.  We also drove across to see my Grandmother at her house and spend some time before saying goodbye plus took a last trip to the shops.  What a vacation.  We made the most of the beautiful weather.  In the 11 years (well almost) that we have been in Phoenix and traveled back for visits this was the best weather so far and we made the best of it.

Can you believe we flew home on Tuesday and John and I were back at work Wednesday morning and Kirsten was back in school too.  Yes, we were exhausted but it helped to get our body clocks back in sync that little bit faster.

Trip to the UK: March 13 – April 3 (Part 2, Worthing)

June 3, 2012

Saturday morning we vacated the hotel and took a taxi to the station where we then took the train down to Worthing.  John’s parents met us at the station.  There was a slight drizzle so Ann (John’s mother) and I walked home whilst John and Kirsten went with Bill (John’s Dad) back to the house with the cases.  There wasn’t room for all of us in the car and I was quite glad for the fresh air and time to chat with Ann.  We popped over to visit Karen and Guy in their house later that afternoon and saw all the work they’d done in the 15 months since our previous visit.

We were only staying until Thursday and managed to find plenty to keep us occupied.  On Sunday it had been arranged that many of John’s family members would come down for a visit.  I think in the end there were an additional 10.  It was wonderful to catch up with both old and new family members.  Kirsten hit it off with Ivanka, Will’s fiance.  I think it was a mutual admiration society going on.  Kirsten also got to play with her second cousins, Jessica and Adam.  Jessica is 5 weeks older than Kirsten.

On Monday we discovered Conrad (Sigrid’s youngest brother) was off work.  He and his wife MC also happen to live in Worthing so he came across and picked us up to take back to their house.  Last time we saw the house was before they had officially moved in so again it was good to see the changes.  The 4 of us (MC was at work) walked into Worthing and spent a number of hours ambling around town before heading back to the house.  Conrad was then kind enough to take us back to Ann and Bill’s in time for dinner.

Tuesday morning we headed out for a local walk to help Kirsten burn off some energy.  We got back just before John’s Uncle arrived.  After lunch we then all headed down to the beach front for another walk.  It was cold but the tide was out so Kirsten had a wonderful time.

Wednesday was then our last day in town so we took a trip into Chichester.  The weather was perfect and we had a lovely time.  In the evening we finished off with family dinner in a local restaurant (7 of us total) which was really nice.  We knew it wasn’t a total goodbye as John’s parents and sister and husband were all going to come up to Highworth a week later to help celebrate my 40th.

London Photo Update

June 3, 2012

Just a quick note.  On reading the last blog post that I’d written my husband turned round and said “what do you mean you’ve deleted the pictures…they’re on my phone!?  So you see turning 40 completely mushed my memory.  The pictures that were on his phone included one that was taken on our brief visit into the Apple Store at Covent Garden then numerous from our visit with my Godmother including pictures of Kirsten’s nails (the one hand done at Hamleys and the other done at Harrods). There are also a number of pictures that were taken in and around Hamleys and in and around Harrods too.

I am thrilled that I found that I’d not lost these so I hope you enjoy seeing them too.