Monkey's Music

>> February 24, 2009

Today, finally, after planning and canceling for two weeks and postponing a third due to 'half-term', we made it to Monkey Music.  It's a program at the local rec centre for kids, different groups for different ages, that introduces them to music and rhythm using actions and dancing and simple instruments.  We'd arranged a trial visit ages ago but then got sick, and then got sick again, and then the program took a week off.  We almost missed it today, too, but Jeff was wanting to go into work early so I was up earlier than usual.  It was actually nice to fit a shower in before he left for the day (don't. say. a. word.).

So today, we got packed up (my first time taking Asher and a diaper bag out on the bike), we braved the dreary looking day (not too cold, but damp), and headed out.  I grossly overestimated the time it takes to bike into Summertown.  We were there a half hour early.  Okay, so I didn't need to get up quite so early after all.  So we sat in the lobby reading books.  Well, I read, Asher watched the people after a few unsuccessful attempts to squirm out of my lap.  So really, in retrospect, he'd already been very patient for a good 25 minutes before we even got into the room, I was clearly asking too much that he show the same level of restraint during the program.  Especially with all those fun looking pushchairs (strollers) sitting around the room just screaming to be inspected.  The program was fun enough.  Asher was the youngest there and it was really geared towards one year plus.  The director thought he would do better in the older group seeing as he would turn a year before the term ended.  Not too sure about that, but anyway.

There are set songs and activities that most of the kids and parents already knew.  I guess some of the middle parts were variable and everything was pretty easy to follow.  There were actions/clapping/patting knees/waving and shakers to shake and drums to bang on, all really neat and just what I had imagined it would be.  And Asher did like those parts, but as soon as the music stopped and the lady started talking, he was trying to get out of my lap and go steal her monkey.  We stood and danced for a time so he would stop squealing at me.  None of the other kids were disruptive or squirmy, I kind of felt like the uncouth mom from 'the colonies' with my over-indulged child.  I'm sure it was all in my head, but still, it took away from the magic of what I had imagined our first mom and tot program would be.  

The lady was very kind and offered to give me another trial day if I still wasn't sure.  I said I would like that but I'm not now that I'll take her up on it.  Jeff made a very good point, why fight with him to enjoy something we're having to pay for if we can just search around a little and find something we both enjoy more.  Maybe something a little more active for Asher's part.  There are, after all, no shortage of mom and tot programs in Summertown.  And you would not believe how many of those things are on Tuesday morning.  It's like everyone got together, checked their schedules and Tuesday morning was good so they just decided to book everything then and you could pick one thing to do in the entire week and you would do it on Tuesday morning between 9:30 and 11:00.  Which just happens to be the exact time of Asher's morning nap.

He fell asleep on the bike on the way home.  Too cute.  Definitely have to get out on the bike more often.  Fresh air makes for great (and long) naps.  Then after lunch we had our own music to monkey about with.  I found his African CD and we did our own dancing.  I'm very sad I didn't have my video camera ready for that as it was terribly cute.  I took the camera to the program today but didn't even think about taking it out once we were there, but I did get some pictures of him dancing at home after.

Whew, that was quite the workout!


Baby's first haircut

>> February 22, 2009

I must say, I had visions of what Asher's first haircut would be.  One of those cute little shops where they have airplanes and cars for the kids to sit in.  I imagined he would be fawned over and told how cute he was and what a big boy he was, there would be lots of squirming and maybe some screaming.  I've seen the posts of this happening to other people's kids.  I was prepared, I would be there for moral support, snapping tons of pictures, trying not to laugh at his misery (cause he really is adorable when he's upset) and then I would leave with a little boy in place of the baby that I took in.  Ya, well that didn't happen.

I have searched high and low for such a place in the UK and they don't seem to exist, not in Oxford anyway.  I've stopped Mum's on the street asking them where they get their kids hair cut and very few actually get them done by a shop.  I even posted on a local mum's website and no one had any help for me.  So I decided I was going to have to do it myself.  

Now, I have cut hair before.  As a teenager I gave myself bangs.  A total rookie move on my part (wet hair pulled tight, snip...when it dries it's significantly shorter...picture it).  Since then, I began to pay very close attention to what hairdressers were doing and began to understand, in theory at least, the principles of cutting hair.  I have since given trims to  myself and several friends and have been quite successful.  I didn't think it would be that difficult to trim Asher's bangs, around his ears, and the back of his head.  That is, if he was unconscious and I had my proper hair scissors.  He is rarely unconscious though and my hair scissors are somewhere on the Atlantic.  I thought I could wait it out, but it just became too much and so we decided to brave it.

The Tools

Daddy's comb which ended up serving mostly as a distraction.
The only scissors I had, yes, I know they're not meant for hair, I'm hoping you'll give me a little leeway when you see the finished product now that you know what I had to work with.


Very excited, but he doesn't know why.
Look at all that hair in his eyes, something must be done.


That's right, I'm stylin'.

You didn't get to see the back before, but it wasn't this straight.
My little man, all set to go.

The Remains

or at least what remembered to gather for the baby book


I love my Mac!

>> February 21, 2009

I am still sick, so is Asher, but I have made it to the Dr. and I'm off to get some drugs today.  I really am so done with being sick.  I know I have had days when I'm not, but they seem like pinpricks in time on the days that I am sick.  It's been one thing after another since the beginning of December and I'm done.  I quite.  No more.  The office is closed.  We are not accepting any more applications.  At least that's what one person I know says is the key to being healthy...not accepting that you are sick.  I wish.  I'll take the drugs please and hopefully I can keep myself rested and well-hydrated and start to build my immune system back up.  

Okay, on to the real reason for the post.  Well, besides the fact that it's been three days and I really must get more consistent in my blogging.  I love my Mac!  I have had a Mac for...golly, over 6 years now, and I automatically enjoyed it more than the PC.  Can we say no more Control+Alt+Del?  But recently, we upgraded our Mac to a brand new macbook.  We knew we wouldn't have room for a desktop in our new house so we sold my eMac and Jeff's PC and got the macbook.  We call it ours, but mostly I use it as Jeff has his own laptop for work.  I haven't had a lot of time to explore the new operating system that came with my fun little computer, so I haven't had a chance to really play with all the new toys.  Well, this morning, I wanted to play with some photos to see if I could get them to truly reflect the amount of fluids leaking out of my poor little man's face.  (our camera is dying a slow and painful death and has not been taking the best pictures as of late)

So I got to play with the new iPhoto program.  It's great!  I love what I can do with my pictures.  Now I know I am the last person on earth to discover this and if you don't have a Mac, you likely have photoshop which as I understand is a similar program, but let me be excited for a moment.  It was so much fun turning my photos from flat images that don't nearly do justice to capturing all the cuteness that is my son into pictures with detail and contrast.  I think they sometimes come out a little gritty/edgy but that's mostly because that's the kind of photos I like the best and I just couldn't help it. So I may have to start doing some photo blogs.  Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to go back and fix up the 734 pictures we've taken since getting the computer at Christmas.  And then there's all the pictures on our portable hard drive.  Oh golly.  Am I in trouble.

Okay, so here's the first entries:  Me trying to capture how leaky Asher's face is.  Still couldn't quite get it, but I like the pictures anyway.  He's feeling better today though, thankfully.



Single lines

>> February 18, 2009

If I truly believe in the sovereignty of God and that His timing is perfect and that He has my days already recorded and mapped out and knows the beginning from the end and knew that Asher would be and would be ours and when and also knows the fate of of any and all future children, then why, oh why, does that single line feel so devastating. It's not like we've been specifically trying, charting, timing, waiting. But I'm late. Late even for me. And it's not like I have any reason to believe that this time round will be any different than the last. Except that I've been back on the Mommy Boards over at Soulcysters and 4 (or is it 5 now) of the other women who were due with me last March are pregnant again. Without trying. One already delivered. Irish twins. Just like my Mom and Aunt. Do women without fertility problems feel such deep wounds over such a simple thing as a single pink line? I want to go rummaging through the waste bin to have one more look. Just to see if maybe, maybe, there's a shadow that I missed, the last time it was so faint.   Part of this is pride, I'll admit it. I feel like I've paid my dues. Done my time. Shouldn't have to go through that again (my heartfelt apologies to all my friends who went through so much more than me, I really do know how lucky I got off). This time, I wanted to feel like a normal woman. A woman who's body hadn't betrayed her. A woman who's God hadn't said 'no' again. Now I really do understand that this isn't likely an actual 'no' but a 'not right now'. And I understand that He has very good reasons for the 'when'. But none of that sinks in tonight. Tonight things feel hollow. Distant. Tonight I feel empty.


Ugh. Sick. Again

>> February 17, 2009

I often give Jeff a hard time when he's sick because he makes sure everyone knows he's sick and he never takes anything unless I remind him.  I'm not a very good wife, not a lot of compassion when he's sick, injured yes, sick no.  I may have to be a bit nicer next time round.  I'm sick.  Again.  I feel like I've been sick for months.  Oh wait.  I have.   Granted lately I've had a few days of not being sick, but since Dec. 8th, I've definitely been sick more than I've been well.  But I thought I was finally over with it!  No such luck.  I'm pretty sure it's a sinus infection this time round and I'm miserable.  We have no drugs in the house to take and I'm a whiny, miserable, sick person.  Thank goodness Jeff hasn't gotten sick much at all these last couple months.  Last night he actually got up with Asher three times!  The best part, Asher only got up 3 times.  Well, best in that I didn't have to get up with him, not so great in that my little man had been doing much better and only waking once if at all during the night.  I hope he's not getting sick, too.  So today I really do have to go into town and register with the medical clinic.  I know, I know, I still haven't and I'm still dumb.  But today, really I will.  Hopefully I'll be able to see someone today, too and not have to go back in tomorrow.  Hopefully my legs won't fall off when I get back on the bike again.  Hopefully other sore parts of my body won't fall off either.

Wish me luck.


The Family that Cycles together...takes a lot of pain killers.

>> February 15, 2009

Saturday saw yet another first. Our first family bike ride. Our arrival in Oxford has left us without a car for the first time in our marriage, and for me for the first time in 9 years. The buses are plentiful and go everywhere here, but they're not cheap and there's still the walk from our house to the main bus route. Not as convenient as we had hoped. So we decided to get bikes. Jeff has had his for a couple weeks and has been using it to get back and forth to work. I love it, it means he can stay a little later in the morning and still get to work on time and he can stay at work a little later and still get home at a decent time. Because of a mixup as to what child seats fit on what bikes, I only got mine this last week. I went out a couple times to test my bike legs as it were and by Saturday I felt comfortable enough to go out with Asher so we decided to take a ride as a family.
Asher did great. Of course he had no reason to think this was a big deal, it's just another seat that he gets strapped into to go places. A little colder though, have I mentioned I can't wait 'til spring. Right around the corner they tell me. We ended up going farther than planned and by the time we got home, I wasn't sure I would be able to stand. Ugh. 

So what did we decide to do today? Bike to church. Oh. my. gosh. It's not like Oxford is super hilly, it's more bumpy as Jeff says, but enough that my thighs and knees are quite upset with me. Jeff looked on google maps and figured we biked about 12 miles in the last two days. I've never been one to ease into things. Asher once again was a trooper.  His face however is showing a bit of wind burn so I'll have to get him a bit of protection for his face and slather on the Aquafor in the meantime.

I'm totally kicking myself though for not taking our camera today.  First of all, the creche (nursery) in the church we went to had a little blue rocking horse which he had fun on.  And actually, this was his first time in a room full of children his age.  I left him and went to sit with Jeff in the service.  That was hard for me, but good for Asher I'm sure.  He did great though, playing nicely with everyone, not freaking out when he didn't see me, and didn't cry when I came back, just showed me how nicely he could feed the baby next to him a wooden train track.  'Bless'

After church we went to a pub for a Valentine lunch.  It was a really nice place with a real highchair, not the wooden things you get in most restaurants.  Jeff had a steak and I had a lamb pot roast with yorkshire pudding and mint sauce. yummy (or scrummy as it is here).  Asher did so well considering he had no morning nap.  He was enjoying eating all kinds of new food off of Mummy's plate, and then suddenly, in the middle of opening his mouth for a bit of potato, he just kind of...fell asleep.  It was hilarious, I'd always wondered how kids fall asleep in their spaghetti, and now I know.  If you keep your child awake through their entire nap time and are approaching their next nap time, any place where they are sitting becomes good enough to fall asleep in.  Again, kicking myself for not having the camera.  


First steps!

That's right, you heard it here first, Asher has taken his first solo steps.  There are no pictures as yet because he first toddled out on his own while we were getting ready for bed on Friday night.  We had been trying to convince him he could walk on his own because he will stand on his own and will walk beside you holding on to just your pant leg or finger but he would just get to excited and lean forward so when you let go of him, he just fell into waiting arms.  Which he loved, it was a great game.  So Friday night caught him quite by surprised and he wasn't sure why all of a sudden Daddy was cheering and clapping and Mommy was squealing and crying (ya, that's right, I had a tear or two, wanna make something of it?).  He's done it a couple times since, but then he gets so giddy he just goes back to running/falling forward.  Once he figures out what he's doing, I am so toast, he'll be running within a week.  I really hope the weather straightens up soon so I can send him out to the back garden (yard) and let him run around there.

Steps weren't the only firsts around here.  He also slept through the night for the first time Friday night.  WOOHOO!!  Now I know there are many of you out there who were getting good night's sleeps out of your kids much sooner than 10 months, but sleep has always been a struggle for Asher (and yes we tried giving him cereal just before bed).  Since we arrived in the UK however, sleep has slowly but surely been coming in line.  He started by napping well and long twice a day and now he's getting a good night's sleep as well.  Thank God.  The day is so much easier when both of us are well-rested.


And what are you thinking now?

>> February 11, 2009

These are the words that saved my life. Literally. I'm sure you are scratching your head, your mouse perhaps hovering over the 'Next Blog' button, but it's true. Now if I were a certain unnamed scientist that I know, I would leave it at that and smile at you expectantly, assuming you knew just what I meant. But his mind works a little differently than most of us. It has to in order to make sense of the very small wonders of this universe. Let me elaborate.

Almost 8 years ago, 2 years before I met my scientist, I had just come back from Africa and found myself working in secured treatment center for teenage boys. These kids were in a lot of trouble, out of control, their last stop before juvenile hall. It is a very tough job, burnout rate is usually around 5 - 7 months for frontline workers. I lasted a year. Every week the house had group therapy, kids and staff. That was a rough hour, there's nothing like having very disturbed teenage boys emotionally vomit all around you. After, there was quiet time in their rooms and we had our staff meetings. I had a really hard time with group. In part because I'm a very sensitive person and pick up on people's emotional states quite quickly without them actually spewing it in my direction so group was major overload, and in part because I was not that stable myself, just highly functioning. (Not to mention a ton of stuff stemming from my time in Africa that I had not been able to fully process) Our house therapist suggested I seek some professional help, in the form of psychoanalysis. It just so happened that he knew and was able to write me a referral to the best Dr. in the city. I was so there, willing to try anything but especially interested in the idea of therapy that wasn't goal based or pushing drugs. 

I found a great definition of psychoanalysis:
"Psychoanalytic treatment demonstrates how unconscious factors affect current relationships and patterns of behavior, traces them back to their historical origins, shows how they have changed and developed over time, and helps the individual to deal better with the realities of adult life."
Let me give you an idea of how this works.  They were 1/2 hour sessions (I was 3 times a week at first, ya, a little messed up) and I just talked.  There was a couch, but I took the comfy chair by the window.  That was it, I just talked.  For the first, oh, I would say year and a half at least (by that time I was down to 2 sessions a week), all my Dr. said was, "And what are you thinking now."  That's it.  I'm not even joking.  So instead of someone telling me what was wrong with me and how they wanted me to try and act instead, I was given free reign to explore my own thoughts and feelings and discover on my own what thoughts and feelings and events from my past that they led to and make connections myself about why I was reacting to things in certain ways.  Knowing why something affects you is very powerful and takes away a lot of the intensity of emotion, makes it manageable.

After a while, he did begin to say more than just that sentence.  I kept waiting to feel judged, (especially since I can't talk about my life and what I'm going through without talking about God and I wasn't sure how that would be received) I kept waiting for him to tell me what was wrong with me or what I should or shouldn't be doing.  It never came.  I know God put him in my life to work out stuff that needed to be taken care of, and I'm convinced he saved my life.

When Jeff and I started going out, I had been seeing my Dr. for two years.  He had a really hard time understanding why I was seeing a shrink, I wasn't crazy (at least not in a bad way).  But he didn't understand (at the time) that I wouldn't have been able to be part of a healthy relationship 6 months before, I might not have even been alive.  I had gone through a period of suicidal thoughts during my last few months of working at the boy's home.   It was not my first time, but this time was different.  I recognized what was happening and was able to call out for help.  I remember calling my mom one night after I got home from work.  In tears because I had been unable to think of anything on the entire drive but killing myself.  It didn't even feel like me, it was like having an out-of-body experience.  She stayed on the phone with me and prayed with me for what felt like hours.  I don't think it was.  I fell asleep there on the couch that night, not wanting to move in case the thoughts came back.  The last time that had happened though, no one knew until years later.  I had gotten as far as taking the knife out of the drawer and testing it's sharpness.  This time, I was able to recognize that what was going on and understood that I didn't have to succumb to how I was feeling or the directions my thoughts were taking.

I was not intending this blog to take the turn it has.  My original thought was simply that there are times when I miss that comfy chair by the window.  The ability to vent stream of consciousness without worrying about hurting someone's feelings or having them think less of you.  I think everyone should go through psychoanalysis. I was with my Dr. for 4 years, right up until we left Alberta for Chicago.  By then I was seeing him every other week and it was no big deal if I missed one.  It's funny, but as I think of how this became different from what I intended, so did many of my sessions with him.  I would mull over what I was going to say on my drive to his office and often sit down and talk about something completely different.

I was very sad to hear of his passing about a year and a half ago now.  He was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer and given 6 months to live.  Instead of going through treatment and spending that time sick and hospitalized, he told almost no one and took the time to spend with his family and do some of the things he'd always meant to do.  I was especially heartbroken because I was 6 months pregnant and looking forward to sending him a birth announcement.  I know he would have been pleased to know we were doing well.

I'm going to take a page from one of the bloggers I follow and ask you:  What would you do with your half hour in the comfy chair by the window.  
Feel free to write about it in your blog instead of the comments and let your readers know where the idea started.


Soon to be mobile

>> February 9, 2009

I've been itching to post for the past couple days but I've been a bad girl and staying up late to read the third book in a new series that I've gotten into so I've been exhausted during the day.  As soon as Asher goes down for his naps, I either pick up my book again or crash for a quick nap.  Today I was so pooped it took him a while of talking away in his crib to actually wake me up.  You know how it is when you suddenly realize not only are you hearing something, but you've been hearing it for a while.  I still didn't get up, just let him play there until it sounded like he was getting impatient.  I would love nothing more, now that he's down for his second nap to go to sleep myself.  And technically, I could.  I've done laundry today, washed dishes, tidied up the kitchen, but I know if I do, I'll be wide awake tonight and I want to actually go to sleep at a decent time.  

Because...things are very exciting right now. Asher slept really well last night.  He went down at 8, woke up at 3:45, hubby put him back down in a matter of minutes, then he slept straight through until 6am.  No nursing at all during the night, one minor outburst when being put back down to sleep and he wasn't trying to claw through my shirt to nurse this morning.  He very calmly took his soother (pacifier/dummy depending on which country you're in) and played with his Curious George and other toys until it was time for Breakfast at 7.  Wow!  Now I  understand that this may not be a big deal for some of you out there, but for us, it's huge.  

We have struggled with sleep with Asher especially at night from the very beginning.  We are very much an AP, non-CIO family.  We co-slept in the beginning, but Asher was such a loud and active sleeper that I never got any sleep even though he hardly even woke up to nurse.  Finally we ended up moving him to his crib which everyone told us would reduce the number of feedings.  Not so much.  On the one hand I had to get up and walk down the hall to nurse him now, on the other I actually got to sleep between feedings.  We started using the No-Cry Sleep Solution in September and quite quickly had him down to one feeding a night and only waking up maybe one other time.  We were on track.  Then he started teething and cut 4 teeth in a week and a half.  Once that was over and before we could get back on track with his sleeping, we left for our whirl-wind tour of Canada and lost all semblance of a schedule.  You have no idea how happy I am that things are getting back to sanity!  I'm realizing, I didn't actually have to get out of bed once last night!  Heaven! (watch, now I've jinxed it)

Anyway, the other thing that is exciting, as per the title of this post is that my bike is getting delivered tonight.  Or tomorrow if the weather is truly awful.  It's been fitted with a super-duper child seat and is ready to take me and Asher out and about to explore all the wonders of Oxford.  Yay!  Did I mention I haven't ridden a bike in what is frighteningly close to 20 years.  Holy Crap that makes me sound old.  I'm not, I just haven't had a bike since my very early teens.  Is it true what they say about riding a bike?  Oh golly I hope so.  I will be taking a few test rides to make sure before I strap Asher in there with me.  Hilarity and pictures I'm sure will follow.  In the meantime, here's one of the little man in his brand new helmet.  Too. cute.  Or as they say here, "Oh, Bless!"

Okay, I just noticed how loose the strap was on his helmet, don't worry, that will be fitted properly before we get on the bike.  :)


Snow, snow, and more snow!!

>> February 6, 2009

Well, it's official. Snow follows us around like the plague. Everywhere we have gone in our many travels this winter 'the worst winter in decades' is sure to follow. Chicago's winter started off pretty rough, then we went to Edmonton and they were in a deep freeze, then we drove through central Alberta in the worst storm system in years, Calgary was next with just as dire a weather report, back to Edmonton and more snow, back to Chicago and 3 blizzards in a row. We get to Oxford and it was simply 'unseasonably cold' which sounded glorious to us because it was the mildest weather we'd seen in months. Now, however, we are in the middle of the worst set of storms in....well you get the idea. London got hit first (well I guess, we flew in there) and they got almost a foot of snow. I know, not much by North American standards, but it shut the city down. Including the underground trains. Now the storm system has settled over Oxford and while it originally was forecast to get the least amount of snow is now getting hit the hardest. The country (that's right, I said country) has run out of salt for the roads. Ugh. And I was so ready for spring. Which, btw, we were assured was just around the corner when we got here. Oh well. That and I found out our stuff only left the states last week and is on a significantly slower boat than was planned and won't get here until March 10, then it's another 10 days to clear customs and actually get delivered to our door. Great, now I have to go out and buy another high chair, there's no way I can wait another month and a half.

Here's the first snow fall, not bad, kind of nice and fluffy and quaint:

Then that completely melted by the next day and another storm moves in to take it's place:

And before that one got a chance to melt completely, we got dumped on again today.  It is still snowing.  Have I mentioned that between the snow and being sick I haven't made it out of the house since Sunday.  Blech.

All that being said, I couldn't leave you with only pictures of misery and dreariness.  So here's one of my little man.  He had a bit of a rough night last night and was so tired this morning.  I tried to keep him awake until his naptime, but here he is, an hour before, literally falling asleep standing up.


Asher is 10 months old!

>> February 4, 2009

Or at least he was 2 days ago.  I feel like such a terrible mommy-blogger.  Not only did I miss it, but I missed him turning 9 months also.  At least I think I did, I'll have to go back and check now.  I'm pretty sure.  I didn't even wish him a Happy 10-month Day.  I didn't even realize it until after he'd gone to bed.  In my defense I was pretty sick.  Jeff calculates that I was awake for maybe an hour and a half total by 5:30 in the evening.  And yes, he knows this because my wonderful husband stayed home to take care of Asher so I could sleep.  I still feel like crap, not so tired, but definitely crappy.  I woke up last night every time I had to swallow.  Between Asher having a bit of an unsettled hour around 1 am, me clearing my throat all night long, and our pipes snap, crackling, and popping the more than they've ever done since we got here, I'm amazed Jeff got any sleep at all.  I should really go to the doctor, I have a feeling it might be strep but it's just such a pain to get there.  And I can't actually make an appointment until I register with the doctor, which I have to do in person, so that's possibly two trips I have to make, while sick, in the cold, with a 10-month old (like how I just slipped that in there?).  Ugh.  I might see if Jeff can go to work late tomorrow morning and let me try to get down to the clinic early enough that they can register me and maybe see me all at the same time.  I hate the thought of leaving it until tomorrow and going through another night like last night.  I also hate the thought of having to bundle Asher up and take him out and deal with his fussing while I'm finding my way around an entirely new medical system, all while I'm feeling sick already.  Jeff kept saying we should stop in and register and I put it off thinking, "meh, we won't really need a doctor until Asher's next visit at 12 months".  Ya, I'm an idiot.

But on a more sentimental note, I can't believe it's been 10 months already.  And on the other hand I can't believe he's not talking yet and complaining about not being able to stay up late and watch a movie cause it's not even a school night.  I know, be careful what I wish for.  I was flipping through some blogs this morning and came across this one.  Being a fellow Canadian, I read a few posts and found she does letters to both her sons every month.  I of course cried all the way through them wishing I had thought of that and why wasn't I a mom like that.  It feels like a cheesy thing to start after the fact but I suppose how things look shouldn't stop us.  I don't even know how I would get through a letter like that without bawling my face off, getting my keyboard all wet, and frying the circuitry.  And what would I say.  Well I know one thing I would say.  How amazed I was with Asher and how he reacted to a fight Jeff and I had this morning.  It was quite a doozy, not one of my proudest moments.  We ended up upstairs talking it through and even though there was some yelling and mommy was crying and the room was filled with tension at times, Asher was intent on cheering everyone up.  He went back and forth between Jeff and I, not nervous or anxious, but with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye inviting us to play.  And even when we couldn't be brought out of our sorrow and frustration, he didn't give up.  Finding himself on our bed he just rolled back and forth giggling to himself.  I am in awe of my little man, when some children would have been crying or scared, he was calm and confident that his parents loved him and loved each other.  I guess we're doing something right.  Right?


Our Last Day in Chicago

>> February 1, 2009

Now, obviously we are no longer in Chicago and haven't been for a couple weeks now, but I just want to share the adventure that was...Our Last Day in Chicago.

First let me explain some of the stress that had led up to that day.  Visas.  They are a pain.  All. the. time.  The visas we came into the UK on were ancestory visas thanks to Jeff's Grandparents both being born on this side of the pond.  This offers us a lot of flexibility and allows us to be here for 5 years before we have to worry about anything.  Yay.  However it is quite the ordeal to actually get them.  I talked about the start of it all here.  

After going through all the requirements and crosschecking with our calendar we figured at the latest our visas should be ready by Monday the 12th, Jeff had to be in the office at Oxford by the 16th so we booked out flights for Tuesday night, arriving Wednesday so we would have a couple days to adjust before Jeff had to go off to work.  It sounds like last minute, but we had been told by everyone who had gone through this before that while it said 5 to 10 days (the 10 would have been Monday) it usually went through in 48 - 72 hours. If you're doing the math along with me, that would have left us quite a lot of time.  To relax.

Hah!  What no one told us, in our myriad of conversations with all manner of people supposedly helping us get all our ducks in a row so there would be no problems is that because Asher is an infant and cannot have his biometrics taken (apparently fingerprints for a 9-month old don't hold up in court - ya think?) that it would take considerable longer for him and my visa as his mother would be held up for the same amount of time.  Weeks possibly.  

The problem is, is that we did not find this out until Tuesday.  That's right, the day we were supposed to fly out.  Not that we weren't trying.  When we got no email 6 days in, we sent an email inquiring as to the status.  We received an email the next day saying it would now be 5 - 10 days.  Starting to panic we thought we should try to get a hold of someone.  No phone numbers put us through to the people we needed to reach.  We send another email stating the nature of our panic and receive a simple line stating that they were currently processing requests from Dec. 29th.  Okay, that's not so bad, ours were in the bin for the 30th, we should be able to show up on Monday (the next day they were open) and pick them up.  Not that they've told us that, we just figure if we actually go down there and beat, I mean knock on some doors that they're bound to help us out.  

So we show up Monday to find that anyone that we would need to talk to about such things had left at noon (golly, I'd like those hours).  And no, our visas were not ready.  We could show up at 9am tomorrow (yes, that's Tuesday for those of you keeping track, the day we are supposed to leave) and we might be able to talk to someone and they might be inclined to help us maybe.

Now, I have to interject here that when we were praying about these visas, Jeff thought it would be a good idea to ask God to maybe not have it all happen last minute.  I quickly prayed for peace should that happen anyway.  And then I just shook my head.

Jeff shows up at 9am the next morning (did I mention that through all of this Chicago is seeing the worst winter in decades both for snow and cold?) and I stay home to pack up the rest of our bags, pretty sure that it would indeed be all last minute.  Little did I know...

Upon arriving and finally talking to someone, we finally learn of this problem with infant visas.  We are told that they make the request to the London offices and then...wait.  They have no idea when someone will get to it or how long it will take them to respond.  She said there was one small thing they could possibly try but it was not likely to work and we shouldn't book our tickets until we hear from them.  Jeff stays around until noon and arrives just before hoping to catch them before they all leave.  Apparently that day they left early.

Jeff arrives back in Elgin, thoroughly dejected, not knowing when we'll be able to rebook our flights or how much it will cost or if he'll have to go on without us (his visa actually was ready) and how much of a bad first impression this might be making with the new bosses.  I, meanwhile have stopped packing all our little odds and ends since it would just end up getting taken all out again.  We call the airline to change the flights as it has to be done by 4:30 or we lose all our money.  After 45 minutes of fighting with a peon that was going to way overcharge us, we demand to speak to a manager.  One isn't available but he'll put urgent on the request and have one call us right back.  It's now 2:30.

At 3 the phone rings and we breath a sigh of relief, we were about to call the airline back to remind them of the urgency with which we needed to change these tickets.  It's the British Consulate.  Our visas are ready.  All of them.  Oh crap.

Jeff starts running around like a madman throwing everything into any suitcase that still has room.  We figure we're screwed on the weight allowance anyway, but hey at least we're going to get there.  Hopefully.  The big issue is how to get the visas and us to the airport by 4:30, the standard 2 hours before the flight.  I am on the phone trying to call anyone and everyone I can think of that might be off work, close to downtown, and could perhaps drop everything and meet us at the airport with our visas.  

Janet!!  The hero of our story.  What a great God we have.  I managed to do a bit of work with Janet last spring while I was hugely pregnant with Asher and because of that her boss, Janice, not only knows me but loves me.  Normally at 3pm Janet would still be at least ankle deep in payroll but they had just finished.  Wow!  So Janice releases Janet from work early to run down and pick up our visas and hop in a cab and meet us at the airport.  

Jeff is pretty sure we're not going to make it in time and phones the airline to see if we can check in over the phone since it wouldn't let us online.  We're packed up and in the car by now, having had to say way too quick a goodbye to Mary not to mention having interrupted Asher's dinner.  Poor little mite.  So Jeff gets a hold of someone at the airline and she says we've been taken off the flight tonight (thanks to the mildly hair-brained person we were talking to previously).  Ack.  She is in the middle of putting us back on when we drive through a dead zone and loose her.  I know right!  It gets better though.  Jeff is completely convinced that last minute or no we are now going to miss our flight and it won't matter anyway.  I phone back just to see if there's anyway we can manage...and I get the same lady.  In a call center of how many, after several minutes of panicking in the car, I get the same lady.  She's got us back on the flight, she can't check us in though.  It's now 4:28, how are we going to get there in time.  I tell her this and she says, "Oh, don't worry about that.  As long as you're there 45 minutes before the flight you'll be fine."  Really!  

Whew!  I'm exhausted typing all this up.  I have no idea how long this is, I'm sure it's ridiculous.  Anyway, Janet actually beats us there, we get there at 4:35 and the kind women at the check in counter doesn't bother charging us for the overweight bags, tells us that we actually get an extra checked bag for Asher, so we only end up paying for one extra bag.  Praise the Lord!  She also changes our seats to bulkhead seats so that we can get a basinet for Asher to sleep in during the flight.  (he was a little too big, but it gave our arms a rest for a bit anyway) 

The rest of the trip wasn't nearly as exciting.  We were a bit delayed in Dublin, but arrived at Heathrow mid-afternoon and Duncan was there to drive us on to our new home in Oxford.  The landlord gave us a quick tour of the house and all the little idiosyncrasies and then Jeff and Duncan took quick trip to the grocer for a few supplies.  I would love to say that we slept great that night considering how exhausted we were (neither of us slept really on the plane) but Asher was up several times throughout the night.  Fortunately though, it didn't take him long to adjust.

Well, I'll leave you with that.  If you've made it this far, Cheers!


About This Blog

I love this adventure I'm on with my Rocket Scientist. The most recent addition to our expedition has me in awe daily. I can't wait to see My Little Man as a big brother. We started off by moving from Western Canada to Chicago and now we're in the UK. Will this Strange Mamma ever not feel like a stranger in the land?

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