Trip to the UK: March 13 – April 3 (Part 1, London)

May 6, 2012

So we’ve been back a month and I’m not sure we’re over the trip yet as Kirsten has been ill twice.  The first time round with sickness which is often how she gets with exhaustion/excitement but last week she was off school for almost a week with an extreme fever.  Nothing else was wrong, and by the time she went back to school both of us had cabin fever.  Let me tell you a little about our trip to England.

We left Phoenix on the overnight flight with British Airways to Heathrow on 13 March which got us into London (local time) around 2pm.   We had booked to stay in London for a couple of days so were reliant on public transport.  We used the Heathrow Express to take us from Heathrow to Paddington Station and then used a taxi to take us to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Regent’s Park.  We were checked in and unpacked by 4pm and decided the rest of the day was about Kirsten as she’d just spent 10 plus hours on an airplane so we walked to the Disney Store Oxford Street.  She went to bed easily enough that night but had a bought of jet lag through the night.

Thursday we were all booked up in London for the Duck Tour; the London Eye and also a London Eye River Cruise as we had purchased a package.  All the tickets had been purchased online prior to our trip and I highly recommend all these.  We were also so lucky with the weather with brilliant weather which is highly unusual. After all of these activities we then took the underground (having bought ourselves a day pass) to Leicester Square and walked through to Covent Garden.  We asked someone for a recommendation for dinner and ended up at a restaurant called Nandos (definitely recommend). We got back to our hotel around 9pm and couldn’t believe that Kirsten was still on her feet.

Friday we started out by walking down to Hamleys and letting Kirsten wander around the store for about 90 minutes.  We came out having spent less than I thought which I am proud of but did make sure that we purchased our Paddington Bear supplies.  Whilst in Hamleys Kirsten also got the nails done on one hand.  It was really cute, but unfortunately I was silly enough to delete the photos off my phone without saving them so I can’t show you what they looked like.  We then made our way to Fortnum and Mason as we were meeting my Godmother, Jennifer, and her husband Charles there.  We were lucky enough to be taken to lunch by them at the Fountain Restaurant in Fortnum and Mason.  We all highly recommend the fish and chips.  Nothing will ever surpass that.  After lunch we said goodbye to Charles and the rest of us took the bus across to Kensington and Harrods.  We ended up in the toy department where Jennifer treated Kirsten to her first Harrods Bear.  I was treated to a bear from Harrods by Jennifer many years ago too.  Thank you Jennifer.  Kirsten also managed to get the nails on her other hand painted, again, silly, but deleted off the pictures from my phone without saving (duh)!

We then had to say goodbye to Jennifer and she pointed us in the right direction (the number 74 bus to Baker Street Station) and then walked back to our hotel past Madame Tassauds, Royal School of Music and Harley Street for our last night in London.

I will continue the next part of our stay in my next post.


Photo Books

April 8, 2012

I briefly mentioned back in January that I had been contacted by Shutterfly regarding a guest blog post.  Well we’ve just got back from 3 weeks in England and whilst away it was posted.

It all came about due to the fact that Miss K has provided us with so much wonderful art work from school and I just can’t keep all of  it, but don’t want to lose those memories so try to find time to scan it into the computer, or if the art work is too large then I photograph it.  At the end of the last 2 school years I have then created a photo book of her art work and am on track to do the same again this year.  Back at the start of January, before I started back at work, I was tweeting about scanning in the art work and received a tweet from Shutterfly asking if I would be interested in writing a guest blog post which I did.  I wasn’t sure if, or when this would be used but as I said towards the end of our first week in England (3rd week of March) it was posted on their website.  For those of you interested in reading it here you are: My Guest Blog Post.  Next I received an email from Shutterfly announcing that I was going to be their Facebook Fan of the Week for March 16 so could I provide them with a photo, which I gladly did.  It was one of the pictures taken of myself and Kirsten whilst on our Disney Cruise last September.  I don’t know if I can provide you with a link to the post, but I can provide you with a link to the photo so here goes:  Facebook Fan of the Week.

For those of you wondering about the end product of some of these photo books here you are:

Preschool Art Work Year 1:  2009 – 2010

Summer Camp Art Work:  2010

Preschool Art Work Year 2: 2010 – 2011

Enjoy.  I hope this provides you with a little inspiration.  This year’s art work photo book will probably look very different as I am aware that Shutterfly have introduced new styles specifically for this job now.

Happy Easter all.

So much to do, so little time to do it?

March 10, 2012

I think I mentioned that I went back to work middle of January after over 10 years of being at home.  This has been a huge learning curve for the 3 of us.  I did allow myself to get a cleaner and she helps for a few hours once a fortnight (every 2 weeks).  We also have a landscaper come in to help with the pruning of the bushes in the back yard once every other month but for the most part I continue to try and run the house myself.  How’s that going I hear you ask?  Well the blog is even more behind the times than ever now and for that I apologise.  Since last writing Kirsten and I had a wonderful week in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan staying with our friends the Kelly family that we met on the Disney Cruise.  I am sure, for those of you who read my daily diary you will remember the trials and tribulations of the family during the cruise and the fact that they had to leave the ship in Cabo.  Everyone is doing fine and we were treated as part of the family.  I keep telling them thank you as we had such a great time.  Kirsten, not used to having siblings, was in her element with 4 for a week.  By the end of the week she even had their names rather than calling them “brother” which I thought was cute.  Jennifer certainly kept us busy for the week on top of keeping her household as close to routine as possible and this included:  bowling; a trip to a Jungle Java; visiting local parks; a gymnastics class for Kirsten; and of course the Henry Ford museum

We had hoped to see a real snowfall.  It was a little funny to watch Kirsten hop from snow pile to snow pile yelling “snow”.  Hey, don’t forget she’s from the desert.  She’s seen real snow once in her lifetime before this.  We did get all excited when there was a severe weather warning threatening 6-8″ for the penultimate night but when we woke up there was a few inches of very wet snow that disappeared in a matter of hours so that was no good.

Now we’re getting ready for our next trip.  This one is to go back and visit the family simultaneously celebrating my big 40!  I can’t wait to see my sister and meet my nephew for the first time.  He turned 1  on February 3rd.  Some of you may remember the birth announcement I posted on the blog last year.  He was born 3 weeks after we left from our last visit back at the start of 2011.

Apologies if I’ve forgotten to share anything with you.  I know it’s going to be a while before the next time so please take care.

End of January….Already?

January 29, 2012

Just as well I didn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions especially one about keeping up to date and making blog posts more regularly!  Yes, we had a wonderful Christmas and New Year.  We missed having no family with us but made the most of it and had a good time catching up with many of the friends that we have made in our 10 years here.

So what’s new I hear you ask?  I can’t remember if I shared with you last year or not that I was trying to find myself a job.  With Miss K having started at school 35 hours a week, yes, I can always find things to do at home and be productive, but it would be nice to earn a little of my own money again.  My problem was then going to be, whether I found something full-time or part-time, who was going to look after Miss K on school holidays.  I’ve been so lucky! The owner of Miss K’s school contacted me to find out if I would be interested in working full-time, and if I liked the idea of working with infants, which I love.  Two weeks ago I went back to full-time work and am looking after infants in a new infant room that has been created at the school.  Miss K’s hours have been increased to match my own but we are there together.  I get to go home for lunch to let the dogs out for a run as I am only a few minutes from home.  Of course, we’re still in that settling in period.  John and I discussed this quite a bit before I accepted and I explained that after over 10.5 years of me being at home this would result in a number of changes and that we would have to give ourselves at least 6 months to adjust.  Tomorrow I start my third week.

The biggest change I would say is the exhaustion factor and the breakdown of household tasks.  To date I have done my best to keep the house clean and tidy, the yard and the pool maintained.  Now we have got ourselves a cleaner who will come in for a couple of hours fortnightly (every 2 weeks, or for those of you here in the US for some reason you say bi-weekly which actually directly translated means twice a week not every 2 weeks which gets me confused).  We have turned the grocery shopping into a family outing and John helps with the laundry at home at the weekend.  Previously I had also done a couple of loads during the week.  Also, now if I run the dishwasher overnight John will empty it for me before he heads off to work so I don’t need to worry about that.  Miss K’s hours have increased so John is bringing Miss K to school at least 3 of the mornings a week as I start at 7.30 and Kirsten doesn’t start till 8.  She’s loving the fact that she is getting to go in both of Daddy’s cars.  I hasten to add that she has now been in one of his cars more than me.

This weekend I’m trying to get Miss K to catch up on some of her sleep.  She’s exhausted from her extra hours plus has been fighting a cough.  The Dr gave her some antibiotics but other than the cough there is nothing else wrong. I’m lucky as there are other children with the cough, plus some with croup, others with pink eye and others with strep.  The result of all this was a fall off the slide at school on Thursday.  Thursday evening her face looked quite nasty, but Friday morning there was just a series of scratches on her face.  Do I think she’ll do it again?  Nope….well I hope not.

I will try to get back online in a couple of weeks and give you an update on how we’re getting on.

Christmas to Me

December 23, 2011

So here we are our 11th Christmas in the USA and Kirsten is now 4.5 and starting to go with the flow!  I’ve been thinking about what I expect out of her due to my upbringing and what I’m not seeing.  I was born and raised in England to a British Father and a Norwegian Mother.  Therefore, so not to lose any traditions I was raised with a bit of both.  We still hung out our stockings for Father Christmas as he was known to us, but on Christmas Eve we would open gifts.  To make it fair we opened those from our Norwegian relatives and no others.  These included Mormor and Bestafar, as my Mother’s parents were known to us, and a number of Aunts and Uncles too.  Food on Christmas Eve consisted of rice porridge in the middle of the day and whoever found the Almond would win the marzipan pig.  In the evening we tended to have Salmon.  My mother would go out and buy a whole salmon and cook for us.  Typically we would go to a church service on Christmas Eve too to enjoy the children’s pageant and I loved the Christmas carols.  We weren’t Church goers as such, but we went at least Christmas and Easter.  I was christened as an infant, but in the Norwegian Seaman’s Church in London as were another 2 of my 3 siblings.  None of us have ever been confirmed though.  My youngest brother, Conrad, was christened in a small local church just outside of Henley on Thames in Harpsden.  We lived in Henley until I was 10 and for a while I was actually a member of the Church choir so I did attend church on a regular basis.

In 1982 we moved to Letchworth, Hertfordshire, where my Mother again signed me up for the church choir in St Paul’s Church.  This time the older of my 2 brothers, Magnus, who is 18 months younger than me, was also signed up.  We stayed in the choir for a number of years.    I worked my way up from the light blue ribbon to a dark blue ribbon, but then had enough of attending Church.  It became something I had to do rather than something to do and by now I was in my early teens.  I attended Sunday school for a little while, but then that stopped.

You are probably wondering what has brought this all on.  One of the gifts I have made for Christmas was using a panel of fabric that I had purchased a few years back portraying Mary and Joseph with Jesus on the donkey. I showed it to Kirsten and she didn’t know what it was.  Simultaneously friends back in England were going to school to see the end of school productions of the Nativity and I realised I was missing out on this and the singing of carols.  I have to admit, I’m not sure what I believe in.  I think it is a mixture of both the scientific and the religious but for me that is not enough of a reason to attend church.  Sorry, I don’t mean to offend anyone.  For the same reason we have not had Kirsten christened.  I have mentioned to John that I am considering going to Church as much as anything because I want Kirsten to at least know what is out there.

In February Kirsten and I are going to visit our friends, the Kelly family, in Detroit.  If you remember we met them whilst on our Disney cruise back in September. The husband, Steve, is actually the rector of St John’s Episcopal Church in Detroit.  I have not attended Church since arriving in the US except for when we have been back in England over Christmas.  I am hoping to attend Church with the family whilst we visit and see how it differs from Church of England.  This is as close as I will find over here, and maybe after that I will start taking Kirsten.  As she gets older it will then be her choice as to whether or not she wishes to attend to.

Kirsten’s Bathroom

December 5, 2011

We have 3 bathrooms in this house, one of which is Kirsten’s and she shares with guests when they come to visit.  Just before her 1st birthday (3.5 years ago) I themed it with yellow rubber ducks.  Now at the age of 4.5 years I decided it was time for an overhaul especially as she’s asked us to update her bedroom (still to be done).  We have all been missing the Disney cruise so I decided on a Mickey theme.  I didn’t discuss it with her although I did run it by John.  I had seen that Target had a line of items, but of course, by the time I got round to buying them they were no longer in store but most of them were still online.   I didn’t think much of the quality of the towels and we prefer to use bath sheets so I went into Target and bought plain towels and sent them to Stacey.  I have never met Stacey, but have grown to love her work.  She is the lovely lady that not only made our Fish Extender, but also the Fish Extender gifts (reusable paper towels) that I gave out on the cruise.  I contacted her again through Etsy and asked if she would be interested in helping me out and embroidering my towels.  I bought 2 sets for Kirsten (2 bath sheets, 2 hand towels and 4 face cloths).  I purchased 2 bath mats to be used in the bath room and then as we regularly have 2 guests at a time realised I would need a further 4 sets of towels.  For each guest there are 2 bath sheets; 2 hand towels; 4 face cloths.  As Mickey is the theme 2 sets of guest towels are Mickey embroidered; 2 sets are Donald and then Kirsten’s towels are Minnie.  The two bath mats are Mickey Mouse too.  Stacey did an amazing job.  I didn’t want anything fancy and Stacey suggested some designs and we discussed size and I left the rest to her.

I had no wish to repaint the bathroom and didn’t really want to put anything on the walls, but found some wonderful decoupage switch plates on Ebay.  Last, but not least I even found someone on Ebay that made toilet brushes with Mickey Mouse on.

Our Week in California 10/02/11 – 10/08/11: Friday

November 8, 2011

Our last day in Dana Point and there was definitely no way we were going to Disneyland.  As much as I wanted to go doing such a long day before a long drive home and with Kirsten having been sick over the course of this week and John now barely walking it was just not going to happen.  So, what now?  I wasn’t going to spend the day in the apartment either especially with the sun shining the way it was.  The owners of the apartment had left various tourist brochures around so we decided we would head over to the Irvine Spectrum Center and see what they had to offer.  It looked a relatively easy drive and we wouldn’t even need to get on the freeway.  The day really just consisted of ambling very slowly around the area.  Kirsten had a ride on the carousel (we can never go past one without her having a go), but we managed to keep it to one.  We then went into the Apple Store.  Yes, we took the risk so that we could place our orders for the new IPhone 4S.  John was going to upgrade from his 3G and I was going to switch from my ancient Blackberry on Sprint and switch across to his AT&T making it into a Family plan.  This actually seemed to be the most cost effective way for us to do it and at the same time would allow John to keep his “grandfathered” in Data Unlimited plan.  As for talk minutes we just don’t use many of those.  We also went into the local Naartje store where I found a number of long sleeved dresses on the sale rack for Kirsten.  She had no Fall/Winter wear as she had outgrown everything from last year and we were going to need them so I saw a good deal and bought her 4 dresses total.  I think we took one picture the whole day and that was of Kirsten in front of one of the fountains.

On the way back to the apartment we stopped off at a Fresh and Easy store to pick up some groceries for dinner then home again home again jiggety jig.  I spent most of the evening packing ready for the long drive home tomorrow.