Monday, August 30, 2010

No time to blog....

...too much to do. 
Get dressed.
Make sure kids get dressed.
Pack a lunch 
(or at least peanut butter, jam, loaf of bread, knife). 
Leave the "apartment".

Do we need to get to "the house"? 
Or is there time for the park? 
Park it is!!!

Sunscreen, check. 
Hat, check. 
Sunglasses, check. 
"Okay, go play!"
(new stage in my life...I can sit at the park and READ A BOOK, gasp!!)

" want me to push you on the swing?" 
(so much for that new stage)

[insert cute picture here of kids at park]

[ in the car. 
No pictures today.]

 "Tell your sisters: five minute warning!...pick your last thing!" 
Down the slide? 
Up the rock wall? 
"No, just one thing." 
...near tantrum simmers under the surface...
that red hair is no lie! 
A snack comes to the rescue...
"Finish that granola bar before we get in the new car!"

Kids want to know where are we going NOW?

To the house.
Which house?
Home. I mean, the new house. 
"No, our stuff isn't coming today. I know you miss your horse. It will be here soon. 
Yes, you want your bike" 
(that one isn't coming, but you don't need to know that yet.)

Meet the handy man, check with the carpet guy, which refrigerator will fit there?
The tenants did WHAT to the closet!?

We gotta get back to the apartment so I can get dinner on the table....dinner? 
What's for dinner? 
Drat, gotta stop at the store!

Cook dinner.
Eat dinner.
Clean up dinner.
Baths (do we have time for baths?)
Nothing on TV.
Think wistfully about DVR's.
Give up and go to bed.

Drat...I didn't blog again!!! 
No time to blog...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Revolutionary Park Day

We have been making the rounds of the parks in this area...and there are plenty. I don't think we have hit the same one twice. Today we revisited an old favorite from before our expat days.
Here we are at that park in the pre-expat days. I think I was in the car with baby A. 

At the time I had a 4 and 2 year old and A was just a baby (born 6 months before the expat adventure began) and I found that no matter what park I visited I usually ran into one or two Asian grandparents with their grandchildren. We live in a very international neighborhood.

However, today we hit the jackpot. There must have been about 15 grandparents there, they all seemed to know each other and there were strollers everywhere and lots of kids playing.

But the interesting thing was what was going on in the gazebo (don't worry, nothing bad!!). One gentleman had set up a stereo of some sort and they were playing classical music. Then a group of men and women gathered around the table and they began doing stretching exercises. Someone must have been leading because they were all doing the same thing, and chatting in what I think was Chinese (...sorry I am no linguist, though I was once the Japanese Bilingual Teacher in a third grade classroom.....nope, I don't know any Japanese....long story)

There were also several of them lined up along one of the sidewalks doing what I think was TaiChi (they were moving almost in unison, making slow deliberate motions with their hands and feet).

So, I am sitting there, reading my magazine and snacking on less than healthy food while I watch my kids play. And I am thinking how fit and happy these people look. And I am wondering why we don't see your typical gaggle of American moms standing at the park doing some sort of exercises....I don't know, stretching?, yoga?....something. Okay, I admit it....most of us would think that we looked silly and would be too self-conscious. These ladies and gentleman I was watching didn't care though. I was jealous of them! Really, I was!

So, maybe someone out there should start a park revolution...a transformation of the stay-at-home-mom's park day scene. Someone really should. Not me. I don't do revolutions. I do that joining thing. So....let me know if you get something going in California....the north part...somewhere.  Thanks!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On my brain..

Since I don't have one of those linky things in my right hand column I will just make this a post. Here is what is giving me lots to think about and not a little hope.

Monday, August 9, 2010

In a small apartment....

In a small apartment horse play (as in pretending to be horses) takes up THE WHOLE HOUSE! And, even gentle galloping is sure to drive the downstairs neighbors mad (and make Mama sure that they are about to come upstairs and yell at us politely ask us to keep it down).

In a small apartment the entry way, the mud room, and dining room have to be the same thing.

In a small apartment there is no good time to run the noisy dishwasher.

In a small apartment you can cook breakfast, serve breakfast, check on the status of the last sleepy kid, coax her to get ready, and check your email without going upstairs OR EVEN leaving the room.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Last Things

I can't believe it has been more than a week since we left Aberdeen. Our first stop in the U.S. was Los Angeles to visit my Mom and my siblings and their families. We celebrated six birthdays (just from July and August) along with some belated birthdays and First Communions. We played wiffle ball in the backyard and I hit two home-runs (not that I am bragging or anything). We spent half a day of sun and fun at the beach with the K girls complete with sandy sandwiches, just like old times. We even saw a few dolphins (which we never saw as kids at that beach!). 

Now we are in our little apartment in the East Bay (San Francisco Bay, that is) waiting for our house to be available and all of our stuff to arrive, and it is finally time to sum up all the "lasts" of our last days in Aberdeen. I thought I would do one of those long posts with tons of pictures and short sentences in between, a la one of my favorite blogs: LMLD. However, I think I failed on the short sentences.
Oh well, here goes anyway....

Last trip to the ice cream shop around the corner. 

This ice cream shop was a tradition each time someone moved up a belt in Taekwondo. This means we went at least four times, and not much more than that. But, the kids would comment on it every time we drove by and the possibility of another trip to the ice cream shop seemed to them to be always on the horizon. 

Last Euro style mini-van. 

This was just one in a long line of Ford mini-vans we drove during our four years in the UK. I think we had one Nissan (which had sliding doors!! I loved that one!) while in London, but the rest were like this (each the same down to the color and even a few dents). This one was our car for most of our time in Aberdeen. When we lived in London they brought us a new car every few months. Though cramped and small compared to our old Sienna that we had before we left, it felt big when trying to park in those medieval parking lots with the tiny parking spots.

Last giant hopscotch game. 

Our backyard was quite small and consisted of two trips of concrete slabs and a raised gravel bed with some bushes and trees. In the spring some daffodils managed to bloom around the edges and even under the picnic table. Hopscotch became a favorite summer game just this summer. Rules were fluid and "winner" and "loser" unnecessary labels. 

Last chalk drawings. 

With all the rain we got in Aberdeen you were assured of a clean slate every day or so. 

Last game of store.

This little pass through door went from the hallway near the kitchen to the dining area. I suspect the hallway used to be the kitchen, since the kitchen was obviously much newer than the rest of the house. When it wasn't blocked by a book case, it was the perfect place for a game of store. 

Last trip to the Ashvale, affectionately called the "Fish Place" 

Last time ordering "the usual". 

For the first year in Aberdeen we went to the Ashvale at least a couple of times a month. Usually on Fridays. We almost always sat at table number 53 and ordered fish and chips with beans or peas. The kids had water and Jim and I usually had beer. We also always saw the same ladies who seated and served us. The last six or nine months of our time in Aberdeen we fell out of the Ashvale habit, but we just had to go back for a final dinner before we left. This was an Aberdeen highlight. 

Last day "supervising" the movers. 

For most of our final week in Aberdeen Jim and D spent the day at the house while the movers packed everything up. D really enjoyed his Papa time and felt proud of his supervising job. The girls and I ran errands and hung out at the hotel/apartment. I was sick all week so I spent a lot of time either resting or trying to push myself out the door and "do something". 

Last family picture in front of our house.

Last day at the house. 

We had to mark our territory with the sidewalk chalk. Within days the names were gone, just like the furniture and toys. All that is left is our memories....and our pictures. Thank God for pictures. 

Last day hanging out with Uncle John.

Last day at the cousin's house. 
One of the great blessings of living in Aberdeen was that half of Jim's family lived there too. Jim's father (who passed away in 2009) and his youngest brother Joe had moved to Aberdeen around the time we moved to London. But his brother John and his wife Diane and their four kids had lived just south of Aberdeen in Stonehaven for quite a long time. We spent many weekends together and the kids really enjoyed getting to know their "Scottish cousins". 

Last Mass at the Cathedral.

We began our time in Aberdeen attending Mass at St Mary's Chapel, Blairs. It is a beautiful little chapel in what was once a seminary and we met some great people there (including our other American Expat friends, the Hosmans). But the distance from our house and the Mass times combined to move us to the Cathedral for 8am Mass on Sunday mornings. Once that started, we were hooked. By the end of our time there we had made some great friends (especially Fr. Juniper and Katarina and Mark with their cute little girl, Bernadette). 

Last view of Aberdeen.

Our last few days in Aberdeen were spent in a furnished apartment on the 6th floor of a building just minutes away from our house and from Chevron. The balcony provided lots of great views along with plenty of nervous Mama time.

Last time in business class??? We hope not!

One of the perks of expat living is that your first flight out of the U.S. and your last flight back are always business class. It just so happened that New Zealand airlines has an especially cushy business class. Those seats fold down into flat beds!!! 

There were plenty of other "lasts", but I think I have gone on long enough for now. If my blogging is sporadic you know it is because we are not spending very much time in our little apartment these days. Just imagine us exploring every local park and library!