29 January 2010

At Least Something Is Going Right

Laney 1
Laney completed her first week of school and she loved every minute of it!  I take her to school with the boys (who she sees during the day and appropriately harasses) and pick her up just after lunch.  She also gets to wear a uniform, learn French and swim.  After the first day she ran around to every teacher she could find and gave them a hug, but the true test was passed when she wanted to go back the next day. 
Laney 3

17 January 2010

First Day of School

Ready for school

The boys started school today and loved it!  We had a lot of clothes to put on today and I imagine by the end of this school year I will be an expert at tying neckties.  We have been running around trying to get everything put together here and at the same time trying to establish a routine.  The time difference has been a challenge too, but we are getting there.  So far so good.

13 January 2010

The Ritz - Or Something Like It Anyway

Our new place is awesome.  It is clean and spacious and each child has his/her own bed.  The kitchen has everything we need and the garden is amazing even in the snow.  One of the best parts is the view.  We get to look at this:

Geat Burstead Church

It is St Mary Magdalene Church, built in the 14th century. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the weather vane that in on the steeple in the photo - it's a rooster and I think I need one! 

12 January 2010


Trip to Warley

Today was Sam's first day at work, so the children and I decided to take a walk to a park that the front desk clerk told us was a 10 minute walk.  I'm pretty sure minutes are still minutes here, but it was not a 10 minute walk.  After walking up a hill on a 18 inch wide sidewalk with 4 children and cars whizzing by for 45 minutes, we decided to turn around.  I kept thinking that it has to be just around this next bend and, although it was scary as anything, it was really beautiful with horses and quintessential little English cottages all around.  The children were growing weary and when we finally came to a little village and met the nicest woman who told us we still had a ways to go and we had better get the car we headed back.

Fortunately, we were met at the hotel with some good news.  Sam found a place for us -laundry, Internet and a kitchen.  Things are starting to look up here in England. Tomorrow we will move out of the dump and get the boys fitted for their uniforms. 

11 January 2010

The Hatchback

Today was our first full day in England and I spent most of it in the hatchback of a Ford Focus. Go ahead and just take a moment to get that mental image.  It was a bit humiliating to crawl out of the back of the car, but I suppose I should be thankful we were not assigned a sedan... Anyway, the cars we ordered will not be ready for a month or so, so we have been issued pool cars and, unfortunately, they will not accommodate all of us unless someone rides in the trunk. I was chicken to drive, so I was cargo. Maybe chicken is a bit harsh, I just did not want my first experience driving on the other side of the road to be with a car full of family. After running some errands including picking up the second car the children needed to rest, so I mustered up my courage and set out to find a stroller, alone.

Yes, we forgot a stroller  We intended to bring an umbrella stroller, but as we were driving to DTW we realized that it was not in the stack.  We were bound to forget something, but the stroller?  Anyway, I made my way to the high street (that is what they call the main street downtown), parked the car and did my shopping without incident. As I was driving I thought that when I damage the car it will be to the left side because I really lack depth perception and everything from the parking spaces to the roads are much more narrow than they are at home.  I can just see myself taking off the side of the car.

Unfortunately, the first car related incident happened much earlier than I would have imagined.  You see, as I was returning from the shopping trip, I was driving along and all of a sudden I heard a pop and then another. Before I knew it, there was a huge crack in the windshield. It is really quite cold here and I turned on the defroster and 2 minutes into the drive, pow! So, we will be adding windshield repair to the "to do" list.

First Damage to Car

Can you believe it?  We have a joke in our family about the 10%. You know, when the repair man comes to the house and says he has been doing this for 30 years and he has never seen anything like it before.  Yep, that is me, I'm special that way and apparently my talent is not limited to the US.

10 January 2010


Our hotel is a dump - moldy bathrooms, sagging ceiling tiles, dirty toilets, smudged water glasses and stained carpets.  Now I know that I have a bit of a reputation for being, um, particular shall we say, but this really was horrible.  See:

Holiday Inn Shower
 How are you supposed to get clean in here?

Outside our Room at Hoilday Inn

This was the ceiling just outside our room.

My Personal Favorite the stairs

My personal favorite - the stair well.

I was prepared to camp for a bit, but it was worse than I expected.  Our hotel rooms are not "family rooms".  They are regular rooms with sofa beds crammed into them and the drink refrigerators do not keep anything cold so we can't even keep milk for AJ.  They want $22 for a personal pizza in the restaurant and there is very little within walking distance.  Plus, have I mentioned it is filthy. I think I hit bottom when I found out that Internet access is $125 a week and there is no way to do laundry except to send it out.  Our underwear alone would be $163.  Long story short, okay so not so short, we are looking for other arrangements.

09 January 2010

The Voyage

Would you like to see how see how we got to the airport?  Here it is:

The Way 6 People Move When Flying

We had 4 children, 2 adults, 16 pieces of check on luggage (including the 3 car seats), 8 carry-ons and 1 giant car seat.  In the shuttle we had all 4 car seats lined up in the back and the kids loved it!

Shuttle to DTW

As usual Spencer took care of everyone (check out their hair - there was so much static even AJ's few little strands stood on end):

The Shuttle Ride

I must admit, I was feeling pretty good about the day of travel when AJ slept in and took a great nap before getting on the shuttle to DTW. He had a blast with Spencer on the shuttle, but the minute we got into the airport, he threw a fit and if you know AJ you know what I mean by "a fit".  For those of you that don't know him that means among other things, ear piercing shreiking, a crimson face and violent shaking. Fun! This was the first of many including several on the plane.  He threw the mother of all fits when he didn't want to sit in his car seat and stiffened his body so that I could not get the straps buckled - I thought for sure people were going to start throwing things at us.  At that point I am not sure who was more red, AJ or me.  It was a long flight made longer by a 1 hour delay on the runway, but we landed without being pelted by other passengers.

Amazingly, we made it off the plane and through customs, only to arrive to a "frozen Britain".  The BBC was abuzz with the biggest snow storm since 1965.  Can you believe it?  So much for saying good-bye to the snow. 

08 January 2010

A Michigan Sendoff

We are less than 24 hours from the big departure and lets just say I am less than pleasant to be around and leave it at that. 

The gang
On a different note, Michigan came through for us at the last moment dumping a bunch of snow in our yard.  The kids love the snow.  Don't ask me why, but they do.  I must admit that it is really beautiful around here when it snows and that sound of the snow squishing under your boots - it really is serene.  Anyway, this was are real first snow of the year and it could not have come at a better time.  It was just enough for the kids to play in, but not enough to cause life to come to a screeching halt.  The only thing that came to a halt was our outing when I realized that I packed AJ's snowsuit.  Fortunately, (hee, hee) I had one of Laney's old suits in the closet.  I don't really think he noticed - he had work to do.

There Will Be No Record Of This

AJ's Outta Here

AJ Hard at Work

At the end of the day, with the dripping boots and noses I think I am glad that we will bypass this for a few years.  Yes, mom, this is a public apology - we're sorry, but we will be back before you can say "snow-blower" 10 times fast.

06 January 2010

Ready Set Go

We had a great Christmas and hope you did too.  Although it was our last holiday in this house for a few years, we did not linger.  There is, of course, no time for that!  The tree was down before we could say "Happy New Year" and we were on to the next thing - packing. 

The movers have come and gone and we are, for the most part, ready to go.  We received our visas yesterday afternoon, so we will be boarding the plane Saturday.  Once we arrive, we will move into a hotel until February 5th when our house is ready.  I think we are all quite excited, slightly nervous, a bit sad, and a touch exhausted. Okay, maybe more than a touch... I guess it is England or bust!