Friday, December 11, 2009

My Little Lego Guy

I know the lego boxes say that legos are not meant for kids under 3 BUT when you have 2 older brothers who like playing with legos.....

Age doesn't matter. Graham loves playing with legos and building "ships" and making different "guys". He is very proud of his work and spends many minutes of his day playing with legos.

The little guy in his hand is part of a Power Miners Lego set and Graham calls him "Mars". If he has misplaced "Mars" he walks around saying, "Where Mawrs, where mawrs??" That little lego guy's real name is Glaciator--I'm not sure where Graham got Mars from but it sure is cute!~

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Every. Single. Day.
It's always fun until someone gets hurt.
Every. Single. Day.
Gotta be primordial instinct because it happens
Every. Single. Day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Driving in the UK

I bit the bullet and drove the car. I've been dealing with some sensitive tummy issues and thought that walking to pick Ewan up from school might put me in an, uhum, compromising situation, so I thought I'd better buck up and drive.

I invited a friend from our building to come with me. She is British and has driven both in the US and in the UK. I thought I might feel better about driving if another adult was with me--and also less nervous if Jon weren't the other adult. He couldn't be there anyway since he was at school. Driving to the school is the route I know how to get there and back best. I know how to drive to our church and back home but ask me to get anywhere else and I'm pretty sure I'd get lost. Those roundabouts are tricky I tell you.

The funniest thing that happened was after I got Graham and Isaac in the car and got to my own seat. I had never even sat in the drivers seat before and it definitely felt different. I reached over my left shoulder to pull down the seatbelt (you know cuz I was DRIVING) and go figure, the seatbelt wasn't there. It was on my RIGHT side. You don't realize how habitualized you become at driving until all the parts are in the wrong place. I chuckled to myself that I didn't realize ahead of time to reach to my right to pull the seatbelt down. Next, the car was started and I went to put it in reverse. Our car is a manual shifter. Another little difficulty in learning how to drive on the other side of the road. Not only do you have to remember to stay on the LEFT side of the road you also have to change gears while driving.

I'm used to a stick shift. I've been driving one (different cars along the way) since I started driving 18 years ago. Driving a stick is automatic--I barely think about it. That is until I have to shift with my left hand.

As I was saying, I went to put the car in reverse and knew that it was still in first gear. (Reverse is to the left of 1st gear instead of to the right of 5th) I had a very vague memory that you had to do something to move the shifter into reverse--push something down, pull something up...but I tried everything that seemed obvious and could not figure it out. I texted Jon and asked, "how do you put the car in reverse?" His response, "up and to the left". I knew that part already but WHAT do you do to put the car in reverse? My friend who was with me was just as perplexed as I was. She finally flagged down a friend of hers in the parking lot to see if he could figure it out. Let me tell you, I felt like such a "woman". Turns out you have to pull up on a spring loaded sheath (on the gear shift) and then magically you can move the shifter all the way to the left.

After laughing at ourselves, I pulled out into our car park (parking lot) and started the journey.
Thoughts going through my head:
" Stay left, left, left, left"
"Don't bump the left curb" (Americans tend to hug the left side of the lane because we aren't used to the spacial differences from the drivers seat)
"Go slow if you have to"
"Lord, please let me get there and home safely"
"How do I use my blinkers on the roundabout again?"

My friend, whose name is Kate by the way, offered some helpful instruction about when to turn on my blinker on the roundabout and when to switch lanes--and when to signal my blinker while switching lanes. When you are on the inside lane of the roundabout you signal with your right blinker. And you use the inside lane when you are going more than 2 exits away from yours on the roundabout. When you are on the outside lane you signal to the left. That means you are taking the 1st or second exit off the roundabout. When entering a roundabout you watch what the cars to the right of you are doing. Are they exiting? Are they entering the roundabout? Do you have room to enter? You don't really pay attention to the cars to your left (the cars waiting in the entrance to the left of you) because they have to give you the right of way. I'm sure you are getting the picture that there is quite a lot to think about when at a roundabout.

To get to Ewan's school I have to go through 5 roundabouts--some more complicated than others. Kate was very calm and as I was driving I had a huge grin on my face. I was driving in England! It wasn't so bad. A little nerve wracking sure, but not quite as terrifying as I thought. I think I was ready to tackle another challenge.

Remember when I mentioned that driving a stick shift is like second nature? Well, my left hand isn't so used to it. I kept trying to shift with my right hand and don't you know my right hand kept hitting the drivers door! Mental note: Gear shift is on the LEFT! Using my left hand, I was timing the clutch, gas and shifter all fine. But when I went to put the car in 3rd gear I'd end up back in first. Or when I'd go to put it in second gear I'd end up in 4th. Oh bother! So much for second nature!

We made it to the school and I parked a block away because the parking lot at Ewan's school is typically very British and small and crowded with loads of cars parked on the sidewalk and every crevice. I didn't want any fender benders my first day out in the car. Better safe than sorry.

As I collected Ewan from his wing of the building he quickly noticed that Isaac and Graham weren't with me. "Mom where are Isaac and Graham?" "In the car with Kate," I respond. "I thought you didn't know how to drive in England." He was skeptical. I was still a little skeptical myself because I knew we still had to get home --but I wasn't going to tell him that!

We get to the car and Ewan gets buckled in. First question, "mom, do you know where you're going?" "Uh-huh--sure do" The rest of the drive home was pretty uneventful I'm happy to say. Once we pulled into our spot in the parking lot Graham said, "We made it!" just as I was saying the very same thing in my head.

Monday, November 23, 2009


"Mom, how does God hear us when we pray? He is all the way up there and we are all the way down here? God and Jesus must have really big ears to hear us. And how does God hear everyone praying at the same time?"
Mom: Those are great questions, Isaac. God can hear us from anywhere. I don't think He has really big ears but he is able to listen to everyone at the same time. Pretty amazing huh?

The next day: (Isaac again)
"Dad, how do birds fly?"
Jon: They use their wings.
"I know they use their wings but how do they fly WITH their wings? How does it work?"
Jon: What a great question, Isaac. (and then Jon gives an explanation about aerodynamics and wind)

"We made it!"
This was after we got home from picking Ewan up from school and I was driving (another post to come). How could a 2 year old know that I was thinking the same thing??!!

Jon has another conversation that he should write about. I was in the same room but somehow missed what happened. Ewan had a world perspective shattered when he discovered that his friend from school who also lives in our building doesn't know Jesus. His brain was in overdrive as he tried to grasp the idea that his friend doesn't believe in Jesus.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Homemade Pizza

A lovely friend of mine (Hi Kelly!) gave me her recipe for making pizza dough. I finally tried it on Friday night and it turned out GREAT! Tasted good and looked delicious! Since it was my first time to make pizza dough/pizza from scratch I was a little nervous that the dough wouldn't rise or that I would mess something up along the way. One pizza had thinner crust than the other one and we all liked the thinner crust better. All things considered, it was not difficult to make--it just took a little time. I made a sausage and red pepper pizza (silver pan) and a bacon and pineapple pizza (black pan). Making pizza is so much cheaper than buying it!

Here are the pics:

Friday, November 13, 2009

One Benefit Of The NHS

I have come to appreciate a few things about being part of nationalized health care here in the UK. The NHS (National Health System) has a program that you can use if a health problem should come up. It is called NHS Direct. If you fall ill or your child falls ill you can call the NHS direct number and talk with someone over the phone about the problem. It is sort of a phone triage system, if you will. The person on the other end of the phone asks you several diagnostic type questions and then puts you in the system to receive a phone call from a doctor. The doctor returns your call fairly quickly and decides if you need to come in for a visit. The doctor then schedules you in for your appointment later that day or asap.

If you get sick over the weekend then they have after hours offices you can go to. You follow the same process above and get an appointment at the after hours office. This way, if it isn't an emergency you can get medical care quickly without having to go to the ER and wait and wait.

The system saves a lot of money because it keeps people from going into the ER--which is the most expensive way to be seen with a medical problem. And you don't have to worry about paying out of pocket to go to a medical clinic that isn't covered on your insurance plan if your problem occurs after hours.

We've used the after hours place twice--once for me and once for Ewan. It worked great! And we used the NHS direct to be worked into a doctor's office during regular office hours in the week when Graham had his rash a few weeks ago. We talked to the doctor directly on the phone for Graham (after going through NHS direct) and he even called us back because he could see us sooner than our appointment was scheduled for.

I'm sure there are glitches in the system, but we have so far been pleased with being able to see a doctor when we were in need. I've heard some negative things from other people's experiences but for us, so far so good.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quotes from the Kids

"Mom! They aren't called markers. They're called FELT TIPS."

Can you guess who said that? I don't think I responded very well to that one. It was something like, "I can call them whatever I like. In the US we call them markers so that is what I'm going to call them." What can I say? My flesh gets in the way of good Spirit led parenting sometimes.

"Mom, is there anymore shrimp in this jungleaya?"

Isaac said that at lunch today. It gave me a little giggle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Your Teacher's Name is What?

I've been trying to figure out how to write this post since last night. Ewan on occasion has a different teacher in his class if his regular teacher is out for the day. I have noticed her a few times and was curious about what her name is. Ewan's current teacher, Miss Rennison, is leaving after the term is over because she is getting married and I wanted to know if the substitute teacher yesterday is going to be the replacement for Miss Rennison. I know the teacher replacing Miss Rennison is Mrs. White but I don't know what she looks like.

As I picked Ewan up from school we were beginning our walk home and I asked him what the name of the teacher is who was at the door. Our conversation went like this:

Me: Ewan, what is that teacher's name?

Ewan: Miss Crellis.

Me: Miss Crellis?

Ewan: NO! Miss Crudis!

Me: Miss Crudis?

Ewan: NO, Mom! Miss Curtis.

Me: Miss Curtis?

Ewan: No that isn't her name.

At this point I'm totally perplexed because I think I'm pronouncing her name exactly how I hear him saying it but everytime I try he tells me that what I say isn't her name.

Perplexed, I dropped it and thought I'd try again at dinner to see if Jon was hearing something I wasn't hearing. When I asked him again at dinner, he said what sounded again like the same sounds and so Jon took a stab at trying to say her name.

Jon: Miss Crellis?

Ewan: No! Miss CRELLIS!

Jon: Miss Credis?

Ewan: No! Miss Crudis!

Jon: Miss Crudis?

Ewan: Miss Crutis!

So I try again:

Me: Miss Crutis?

Ewan: No! Miss Crudis!

Me: Miss Crudis?

Ewan: No- that isn't it either.

Jon and I looked at each other and laughed. We were thinking that maybe Ewan was confusing himself because he would say it a little different everytime but when we repeated the same sounds we obviously weren't saying it right.

Jon suggests that maybe the only thing we are doing wrong is pronouncing her name with an American accent. To his ears, he hears everyone calling her name with a British accent and since he may not know how it would sound with an American accent it sounds like we are saying her name incorrectly.

So we start trying to say the different versions of her name with a British accent instead of an American one.

Ewan: Miss Crellis.

Me: Miss Crellis?

Ewan: NO! Miss Crudis!

Me: Miss Crudis?

Ewan: Yes--that is it!

Me: Miss Crudis? (with american accent this time)

Ewan: No mom.

Me: (with British accent) Miss Crudis?

Ewan: Yes.

To my ears I heard no difference and I'm not sure I could even say her name correctly today. I wish we had that conversation on film because trying to write it down truly does it no justice. I think I'll ask Miss Rennison today what the teacher's name was from yesterday because my curiousity wants to know what her name really is. The mystery named teacher allowed for some funny dinner conversation and for that I am grateful.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Seaham Beach

We made our way to Seaham beachfront this past Saturday with our friends, the Linebaughs. Seaham is about 20 minutes away from Durham. This beach is filled with interesting caves, TONS of rocks, cliffs, and sea glass! There was something for everyone. Climbing for Isaac, exploring for Ewan, rocks to pick up and throw for Graham, the beach (in general) for me, and for Jon? Hmmm.....not being stuck in the house all day on a Saturday? Actually Jon liked exploring too. For Fall weather, the day was about as good as it gets. It was beautifully sunny and not too chilly or windy.

Before our big descent down the steps to the beach.
Just some surrounding pictures. As you can see, there were lots of people taking advantage of the beach. It seemed like just about everyone had a dog along for their walk.

I think, if I'm not mistaken, this is a far off view of Sunderland.

Rocks along the shoreline.

There are some amazing structures that the water from waves has cut into the rocky cliffs.
There was also some mud which we all got our feet sucked into. Ewan's shoe got it the worst.

General shots of the kids:

What 2 year old boy wouldn't LOVE being on this beach?
Ewan and Isaac were lifted up into a carved out "cave".

Peek-a-boo, I see you.
Take that, rock! Does anyone else see the "face"?
Walking along.
Jon thought he should try the local seaweed.
Ewan was inspecting all the tidal pools for fish or crabs or shells. No luck. Just lots of cool rocks. I don't have very many pictures with Ewan on this trip because he was exploring with our friends who were ahead of us and then I had to trek all the way back up the beach and stairs to take him to the toilet. Jon took over the camera at that point.

This plaque was at the top of the stairs you had to climb down to get to the beach.
Tidal pool inspection.

This was my score for the day. I remember reading in a novel about 4 or 5 years ago that sea glass is valuable and that a lot of people collect it. Some people make jewelry out of sea glass. There was loads of it sprinkled all over the beach. I don't know much about the hobby of it but I do think it looks pretty in a jar or pretty vase. I can't wait to go back and gather some more! I think the most unique piece is the white and red round piece of sea glass.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Visit to Eureka! Children's Museum

Yesterday we drove for 2 hours to go to Eureka! Children's Museum in Halifax, England. This was our longest road trip so far and it was fun to see more of the countryside.

I took several pictures from the road to try and catch a feel for what it looks like driving around:

This is a picture of a church tower in Halifax. I was standing near the sandbox at the museum so I don't know any details about the church.

I like this picture because to me, it captures what the roads look like. You see the british stone walls on the left. A car parked halfway on the road that you must drive around to pass. You see the stone houses and get a feel for the "older look" that England has.
Entering a roundabout. This one has 5 exits and it is a 3 laner which means it is a little more complicated to navigate than a 1 or 2 laner. We had to make sure we were in the correct lane so we could make our exit off the roundabout without bumping into another car. We'd be lost without our GPS!
On the left you see a covered barn with tons of baled hay. These are very common to see--I imagine because the growing season for hay is short so it must be stocked for the winter.
You see lots of sheep grazing as you drive along.

On the left is a group of row houses. Most of the homes here look very similar to this. A group of rowhouses won't have much distinction other than how someone has landscaped their front yard.

The children's museum was worth the long drive. There were so many hands on interactive things for the kids to do. It was very crowded since it was half term break and many children are on holiday. The museum had a section that was a "city" for kids. A grocery store, bank, post office, mechanic, and house were all set up so that kids could pretend to shop for groceries, operate a cash register, deliver mail, rob a bank, print out their own money, give a loan, work on a car, and "drive" a truck. We spent a long time in this section trying out all the different things.

Isaac navigating with the map.

This is how I practice my driving.

Ewan worked in the auto shop and got to dress up as a mechanic. He had to deliver the package he's holding to the right place.

Changing a tire.
Stamping money at the bank.
Graham had a blast shopping for groceries at the store.

The museum had a great exhibit about the human body that the kids liked. There was even a video showing a birth (not super graphic but it birth nonetheless) and how babies breastfeed after they are born. There were close up shots of babies nursing. I thought to myself--"How wonderful that children can see something so normal promoted about the human body!" and then I wondered if the US would ever let something like that be shown in a children's museum--or any museum for that matter. It amazes me how liberal (and skanky) the US can be on some things and how conservative the US can be on other things. Sometimes we get it backwards, I think.

Outside the museum were rides, a HUGE sandbox--like as big as a public pool sandbox, a giant connect four game, some tunnels and other climbing gear.

That red on Graham's cheeks is more hives. He is still welting up in hives all over his body. He's on some antihistimine and hopefully we'll figure out the cause soon.
Ewan and Isaac learning about teeth.
Learning about sound.
The museum had a bike kids could ride and when they pedaled hard enough the lights dimmed and a skelaton appeared on the other side of the mirror to show what bones move when you pedal a bike. Ewan thought it was cool to see how bones work.

Isaac crawling through the tunnel.