We Got It!

When Amy was born there was SO much paperwork! We had to get her British birth certificate, send off for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a passport, and a Visa! We tried to follow recommendations and the No-Fee passport was the quickest to obtain.  We were going back to the States soon and needed it quick, it took 4 months.  Since we’ve been back and settled we’ve wanted to finally take advantage and do some traveling. Come to find out we are not supposed to travel for leisure on the no-fee passport and Amy needed a tourist passport. Seriously?!

I did my research, made an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in London, gathered all the necessary documents and booked a train ticket for last Thursday. Amy and I were out the door by 7AM and on the train to London by 8AM.  I contemplated carrying her in the Ergo baby or using a “push chair” or as we call it a stroller.  I wanted to enjoy a full day in London so I chose the latter.  However, the Underground or Tube system is not known for it’s accessibility.  So the day before I mapped out the accessible route to the Embassy and it was a hike if I took that route. So I brought the stroller AND the Ergo carrier in preparation to hoof it up the stairs. We made it to Kings Cross walked past Platform 9 and 3/4 and headed to the Underground.  It was, of course, rush hour and packed!! I decided not to strap Amy on just yet and see what I ran into.  To my astonishment each and every time I came to a set of stairs a stranger offered to help me up or down with in 5 seconds of approaching the stairs! Or escalator! In fact the first experience was an escalator and this man in a beautiful suit offered to help me down the escalator.  Like always, I said no at first saying I’ve never done this before and I was very unsure. He assured me it was no bother and that they had the same push chair.  Ok… down we went.  It was cake.  “Cheers, kind sir!”

I walked the rest of the way to the Embassy with a huge smile on my face and reassured about the kindness of strangers.  Then we were crossing Grosvenor Park towards the Embassy and a Taxi did not stop to allow us to cross at the crosswalk like he should have.  This man in a flourescent linen suit with flourescent green shoes and Woody Allen glasses said to me, “nice people huh?” Well, actually I was feeling pretty good about mankind so I said back, “I just smile.” To which he said, “That’s right love, just smile.” Here he is crossing the park.  The Embassy is that huge 70’s style building on the right. It takes up an entire block.

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There was a huge line so I was glad we got there early. Wait…I realized the line was for Visas. We did that already so I looked around and there was a woman sitting at a podium looking bored with a sign that said passports. Sweet! This is going well.  We went through airport-like security, went inside, were given a number based on what we needed and our documents were reviewed to make sure we had everything.  There was an amazing play area and a few kids Amy was in heaven!  A 5 year old boy took her under his wing and they were in love by the end of the day. Amy was laughing and leaning in for kisses!! Uh oh! His brother asked me if the milk in Amy’s sippy cup was from my and pointed to his chest!! Ummm no it’s from the store. Blush.

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We were called up to submit our forms, then over to another window to pay, then waited about 40 minutes to be called up again.  When we were, there was a problem.  The consent Derek had notarized was not done correctly by the notary! Oh no. They were going to have to call a supervisor but it didn’t look good. They asked if there was any way he could come.  My response was he is at work and I just took the train an hour alone with an 18 month old.  She nodded looking empathetic.  Ugh. Seriously! The notary had used his SSN to document his military ID as proof of ID but the Military ID doesn’t have his SSN on it so it was not a valid consent for Amy to get her passport.  Please take a seat and we’ll call you up again! Deep breath Sara, you haven’t gotten a definite no yet! She called me up two more times and finally said because we have his passport to match his signature on the consent we feel his intent is for her to get a passport. So I sat down again and about 15 minutes later had an emergency passport in my hands! WOO HOO!! I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the appointment but this was the best case scenario! We didn’t have to document an emergency, I never said we had one, just that we had travel plans in the next week.  That accounts for an emergency?  Ummm ok. The passport expires in 6 months (we’ll be back in the States) and we can renew it within a year and not have to pay for another passport! It’ll be good for 10 years. We may have to update the photo but I’m not sure how that works. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 🙂

I met another military wife in the waiting room, they are stationed at the base where I went for OB appointments.  She has 3 children and her mother was with her to help.  Her husband deployed 2 weeks ago to Afghanistan. She offered to help me down the steps to the bathroom with Amy’s stroller while carrying her 3 year old. I had already picked the whole thing up and had it so I said, “Thanks I think I’ve got it.” She said, “As military wives it’s what we do isn’t it?” We got it.  I told her I’d only been a military spouse for 3 years but that I was so often in awe of the community and the stamina military spouses have!  Derek and I were stationed here only 10 months when 3 women offered to throw me a baby shower, there are spouses who have 2 and 3 kids and their significant other gets deployed for 18 months and they handle it with grace, women have babies with their moms as their birth coaches because their husbands are deployed, they organize support for each other constantly and don’t complain!  I don’t feel I deserve the same praise spouses who have been with their service member since they were at the academy or went off to OCS do, they’re amazing.  This woman had lived in Korea when her third child was born, moved back to Alabama for her husband to take a year of flight school and now is living in England but he is deployed. Wow! I met Derek when he had already served 15 years but most of the spouses I meet have been with their significant other their entire career.  They are amazing and have my complete and total respect.  The woman I met is named Julie and I will never forget her and how grateful I am for her and all the others, like her, who completely support their spouse and raise their families sometimes with a partner and sometimes with an absent one.  There are so many sacrifices they make everyday for an entire career. I was and often am very moved and proud to be part of this community.

So we left with a passport!! I texted all my friends who were waiting to hear how it went and I called Derek.  I looked up the closest Chipotle because I wanted to celebrate. We walked the half mile and the line was out the door! In 5 months I can have all the Chipotle I want.  I looked down and Amy and she was crashed.  So I kept walking to let her sleep.

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We ended up where I alway do on Marylebone High Street.  I have always been a creature of habit and I love Daunt Books! So we found the cafe Amy, Kristi, Rachel & I went to when they were visiting and I ordered and ate and she slept! This was a miracle. She woke up to find her favorite sausage and chips!

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I can’t remember the name of the cafe but it is where Amy H. snapped one of my favorite shots of Amy B. to this day!

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We bought an Olivia book and a couple Chairlie and Lola books at Daunts and slowly made our way back to the Underground station taking some awesome photos along the way!

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Amy with the London Taxi

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She oooh-ed at her Buggy Book.

Definiteyly my favorite photo of the day! Hooray Buckingham Palace!

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When I showed this series of photos to Derek he spoke for Amy, “Dad, Mom stuck me in the daffodills AGAIN!” 🙂 I can’t help it! And as you can see they are starting to fade 😦 Tulips are up next!

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Then we got back on the Underground and the train home.

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Rockin’ what my sister and I call the Chilean or Spanish Mullet

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It was a long day, a day with my girl, a day full of new experiences, kind people, amazing people and “We Got It!” We called Derek when we got to our car and got the best news. He is going to start working a normal day shift again! Still working weekends but day shift!! The best part was he’d be home in a couple hours! So proud of him, he’s been working so hard and he too deserves Amy & me at home supporting him. “We got it!” xoxo


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This past weekend was my birthday.  Now that I have Amy my priorities have all changed.  I forgot how old I was turning, that it was even my birthday, and I didn’t much care what we did.  I just wanted the three of us to be together.  Derek has been working like a maniac having only 2 days off the month of March so I was trying to not get my hopes up but he got both days off uninterupted!!  Woo hoo! That was enough of a gift for me.  We took some day trips. Saturday we drove down to the Cotswolds, just under two hours southwest of us.  It was similar to where we live with a few more rolling hills but some very quaint villages with shops and tea spots.  The first place we stopped was Stoke on the Wold for lunch at The Vine Leaf.  I have been trying to think of all things British I want to capture, soak in and  take home with us.  This was a must, a photo of Amy and a red post box.  Now we just need to get a red phone booth…it will happen!

To get her to look at the camera I say, "Where is Mommy?" Hence the pointing :)

To get her to look at the camera I say, “Where is Mommy?” Hence the pointing 🙂

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She was excited…and responding to, “How big is Amy?” Another photo trick. 🙂

 

It was cold, don't we look cold? Burrr...but we have each other to keep warm.

It was cold, don’t we look cold? Burrr…but we have each other to keep warm.

Our next stop was only 10 minutes away a village called Bourton on the Water.  It was really beautiful there with trees blooming.  We did have a bit of a cold spell this weekend and the wind was biting but this would be a fun summer place to come.  There were many tea shops and most were trying to sell ice cream.

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There was a really great toy shop in the village and Amy got a music instrument like the one she uses at The Music Bus.  In the back of the shop they had a huge selection of trains.  They carried stuff I had only seen once a year at Christmas when Dad put up the train set on the platform under the Christmas tree.  They had the same paper he used to cover the platform, the same lamp posts, the same little trees and bushes he puts around the buildings.  I wanted so badly to bring something home for Dad’s train set but I had no idea what scale he has.  It’ll be so much fun to show Amy Grandpap’s train set!!

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Kisses from Daddy in front of the shops at Bourton on the Water

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I just loved this little village, so pretty!

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We got back in the car and drove just under an hour to our next destination Bicester Village Designer Outlet mall.  The plan was to stay the night and shop in the morning.  We got there about 5, walked the outdoor mall full of designer shops that I couldn’t afford even at outlet prices and we ate dinner.  During dinner I asked Derek if we could drive home and sleep in our own beds.  He was shocked, “Don’t you want to shop tomorrow for your birthday?”. No I didn’t. :0

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Have you ever seen a kid so excited about salmon & peas? Have you ever seen salmon and peas on a kids menu?

Instead we drove home about an hour and twenty minutes.  Amy went straight to bed and we snuggled on the couch. Ahhh this was much better than a hotel room!  The next day, my actual birthday, we headed to Pizza Express in Stamford and then to Sacrewell Farm & Country Centre.  I wanted to get there before lambing season was over.  Lambs are scattered on every hillside with their mothers frolicing and tripping over their hoves.  They are so cute I find myself swerving on the road to watch them. I also had to get Amy’s photo with the daffodills.  They are also a sure sign Spring is on it’s way!  In Florida you don’t get change of seasons, it’s palm trees year round.  Here in the UK I understand why tulips and daffodills are printed on Easter gift bags 🙂  I also get why my grandmother made a lamb cake for Easter every year.  Spring is so beautiful! Not that I will EVER complain about palm trees!!

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Happy girl!

Amy loved all the animals on the farm.  We walked around looking for the lambs that were scheduled for their feeding soon!

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We found them and they were SO sweet!! Apparently these lambs are not orphans but were one of triplets and the mothers only have two teets and could not feed all three. Well that’s what they said in the talk before the feeding.  This doesn’t make much sense to me.  My friend Alice just posted that now, living in Washington State, she is missing lambing season in the UK.  This is something I will miss too.  Here are some photos for you Alice!

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I think I could’ve stayed all day and watch them.  I think Amy could have too.

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The feeding was surrounded by people and toddlers who had an understanding and would’ve been dissappointed if they didn’t get to bottle feed the lambs so we stood back and watched the lambs in the other pens.  As the crowd dwindled we left the barn and it started to hail! SO we went straight back in to wait for the storm to pass.  More lambs? Ok.

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Amy’s pointing to the lambs. She can’t get enough either!

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Walking through the farm with Daddy. Amy doesn’t take steps much unless she’s got a finger in her grasp!

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Proud Daddy loving his time with his girl!

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This is a Dartmoor lamb. They were so funny. The adults look like Muppets to me and the lambs had a constant smile! So sweet! There were no informational signs so I looked up ‘curly long haired sheep’ when I got home.

 

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Amy’s telling this lamb “shhh” because the other one is sleeping.

 

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They gave us some food to feed the sheep.

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Doesn’t he look like a Muppet?

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These are the sheep we usually see everywhere here!!

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Bye from England for now!! xoxo

 


Morning Walk in our New Village!

Lola and I went on a walk this morning and I took some photos with my iphone. So they are not the best quality, but not too bad.  In fact my DSLR camera I use constantly stopped working as soon as we moved.  UGH! I’m not sure what is going on but it won’t turn on.  So you’ve actually been seeing iphone photos the last few posts.

Spring feels like it is here today, the sun is out and the back of the house is open! We’ve been planting flowers and watching bulbs explode with green shoots and shortly by flowers! A sure sign! Ahhh we made it through winter, although it was a very mild winter, for us.

These two photos are views from a dirt road we often take Lola for walks.  It is lined with hedge rows.  These hedge rows are a bit bare but you get the idea.  Not many fences in these farmlands!

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Along the path that is a bit built up we can see rolling hills of farmlands. Just beautiful this morning!

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And here are a few shots walking back into our new village, Islip.  I’m not sure if you can see it but there is a sign on the house that says The Old School House and a date.  Many homes in the villages do not have numbers for addresses but names.  Old School House, Old Stables, Window Box Cottage…etc.

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The Old School House

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I bet the British are so sick of Harry Potter, but I’m not and I can’t help but wonder if Dumbledore lives here…?! This is not actually the Headmaster’s House but this home’s address. The sign has been updated. I’ll try to get some more shots of names of homes.

This is just The School House, I'm assuming it's a newer building that was once used for the school.  It's for sale people, look at that door!

This is just The School House, I’m assuming it’s a newer building that was once used for the school. It’s for sale people, look at that door!

In the UK the Main Street is called High Street and many villages have one as well as towns.  Most of the shops can be found there.  Often in advertisements you hear, “better than the High Street Prices”.

Here is the street sign for our village's High Street.

Here is the street sign for our village’s High Street.

And yes, like Downton Abby many of the villages have one Manor House.

And yes, like Downton Abby many of the villages have one Manor House.

The manor house near our old house was ginormous and was a buisness of it’s own. They owned most of the farmland surrounging our village and many of the properties in nearby villages.  In fact some villages surrounding the manor house were all properties owned by the Manor House Estate.  The one here is Islip is nothing compared to that house!

Daffodils, my favorite flower. They are amazing and come in many shades and combinations of yellow and sometimes white. Aren't they gorgeous?!

Daffodils, my favorite flower. They are amazing and come in many shades and combinations of yellow and sometimes white. Aren’t they gorgeous?! And this stone wall, probably from the 14th or 15th century. Yup.

These beauties have shot up in our front garden! Makes me happy!

These beauties have shot up in our front garden! Makes me happy!

And we made it home to find Amy and Daddy installing our newest baby gate but we like to call them Lola gates because really…that is who they are for!

Sorry Lola, no more kitchen for you during meals.

Sorry Lola, no more kitchen for you during people meals.

And now, after two months, Derek and I don’t have to get up every 10 seconds while we eat to shoo her “OUT”!! It’s the little things.

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The best way for Amy and Lola to play!

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Amy also raided her first kitchen cabinet today!! SO much fun to be had!!

For an update from my last post I have been able to run 3 days a week and have worked up to running 30 minutes at a time! Success! I also have been consistent in going to the gym to take 3 classes a week.  Tuesday will offically be two weeks but already my whole body feels better.  I haven’t lost weight but my clothes feel different and my body feels tighter.  Yay exercise. I hope to keep this up! My gym makes you sign up in advance to reserve your space in class and for Amy’s space in the nursery.  That helps me feel accountable to show up! And Lola loves and needs her runs so that helps me get out to run in the morning. Happy Sunday!

 

 

 

 


Me

When I was single I had tons of “me time”. I exercised, I made career and personal goals, I watched what I wanted on TV, I traveled when and where I wanted to go, and my decisions all revolved around me.  Today my life is what I always hoped for; I have a loving supportive husband I adore and adores me and a gorgeous baby girl.  With a family comes different priorities and I put myself last most of the time.  I don’t exercise anymore, I have no career to speak of and personal goals are on the back burner.  Ok, I still binge on Friday Night Lights when Derek is not home but at night we compromise and find shows we both like.  Don’t get me wrong, when I was single ALL I wanted was someone to have a discussion with about whether we were going to watch Parenthood or House of Cards that night.  I love my life now and wouldn’t change a thing about it.  Ok I lied, there is something I want to change, I want more “me time”.  Even when Derek and I started to date I did what many women do and focused on him.  I still had plenty of time to focus on me and he definitely focused on me but I put myself aside.  I stopped exercising.  

Exercise has been part of my life almost my whole life.  I danced and swam when I was little and in high school I swam and ran track. Once I was in college I really started getting into running and doing races.  It started as 5K, then 10K, 15K and once I started working I was doing half marathons.  My friend Ruthie, a running fool, gave me inspiration and told me I could do a marathon.  We signed up for the 2008 San Fransico Nike Women’s Marathon. I’m not going to lie our motivation was the Tiffany’s necklace on a silver tray being handed out by San Fran fire fighters on a red carpet in tuxedos at the finish line.  We both got our necklaces and it was one of my proudest moments.  I was also doing triathalons at the time and a few months later I completed an olympic distance.  My body was tired and I just didn’t put anything into the training for that race.  It was the beginning of the end, I was tired. That was Spring of 2009 and I am ashamed to say I haven’t been a runner since.  My excuses have been: I’m fappy in love, I’m busy, I’m moving to another country, there are no safe running paths near our new house, I’m pregnant, I have a newborn and I have had crazy hip pain since pregnancy.  Actually, I just didn’t want to.  I had no motivation or desire to exercise.  

In the past 6 months my hip has healed and I feel healthy!  So I started out slow, walking with Lola.  Lola is our psycho 2 year old boxer that needs exercise like she needs to breathe.  She is a royal pain in the a#@ if she doesn’t get her exercise.  That is motivation to walk enough.  I also want to feel better emotionally and physically and being outside really helps me.  Lola is on a leash, Amy is strapped in a stroller and I can relax.  I can’t say I set out with a goal of getting myself to exercise eventually but something just clicked in my brain and after ramping up to two 30 minute walks a day pushing a stroller at a good pace I admitted out loud to my husband I wanted to start running again (Step 1).  

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They love each other.

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This Kelty Kids backpack makes long walks possible with Amy. She loves the vantage point and it is much more comfortable for us than the Ergo Baby Carrier at this point. This is on an hour and a half walk with Lola Rose.

I had already been sleep training myself the past two months to wake up at the crack of dawn with Derek so that wasn’t an additional battle.  I wanted a little more alone time with him and I’ve always been a morning person.  So I decided to take some of that time for me.  This has been my first week running and I consider it a success.  I’ve run 3 times this week.  My only goal was to run.  I didn’t add a time or distance goal.  I was going to be outside with Lola for 30 minutes and I’d run as long as it felt good. Today I was up to 25 minutes of running with the occasional dog potty break. To me that was success.  

I am an all or nothing person and I have a Type A, OCD personality, just ask my husband, former roommates and family.  When I’m exercising I’m also drinking more water and eating healthier.  When I trained for my marathon I didn’t miss a day on that training schedule.  I know this is not always a good trait to have believe me it often gets in my way. If it’s not perfect I’m not doing it.  To squash a few excuses I think diversity of options will help so I also joined a gym that my friend Terisha is also a member.  It’s not the closest gym to me but I know part of my exercise success is accountability so if she knows I’m meeting her there I am much more likely to go.  I went to two classes this week; kettlebells and a body balance class.  One was during the day and I took Amy to the Creche (Nursery) and the other was in the evening and Amy stayed with Derek.  My other exercise option is through our Amazon Prime membership.  I have added a few exercise videos to our Watchlist and I plan on trying one today during one of Amy’s naps.   I am also writing this blog to be accountable to you 🙂

My friend Erin posted a link to a post Make or Break a Habit Update from a blog she reads called Hollywood Housewife.  The writer is challenging herself to “Make or Break a Habit” each month of this year.  February was exercise and each day her goal was to do at least 20 minutes of exercise and create this habit.  She dreads exercise and scheduled it at the beginning of the year to get it over with.  She was shocked after 13 days that she actually started craving the exercise, she felt sexier, had more energy and slept better.  These are all things I’ve needed in my life. Erin challenged us on our Moms Facebook group to join her in the challenge for March whether it’s exercise or another habit we want to “make or break”.  So I took the challenge and started a week early setting myself up for success! Thank you Erin!! Erin and I also are going to create a Facebook Group to help keep ourselves motivated, uplifted and accountable. Let me know if you want me to add you to the group.  Here’s to finding “me time” and feeling better about me. xoxo

P.S. Quick update from my last post on Amy’s room.  We have successfully moved to our new house and we are so happy! We love the location because Derek’s commute is shorter, I can run here, we look out over the River Nene in our backyard, I can walk to the store, I can walk to Amy’s Music Bus class at the local church hall, the footpaths nearby are surrounding beautiful lakes and everyone has been very friendly.  Amy’s room is much smaller but she also has a playroom downstairs that we LOVE!!

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Pure joy at The Music Bus!

 

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Don’t all playrooms look like a tornado just touched down?

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Our house is two to the right of the white building and our boathouse is the wooden one close to the river bank.

We love our new house and didn’t realize this unexpected move would make such a difference in our daily lives. Thank you, as always, for your love and support.    

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Here is our view from our family room. Oh and some Amy and Lola love.


Amy’s Room

I have wanted to post about Amy’s nursery because I was so happy with the way it turned out and I wanted to share it with my friends & family back home.  In a normal situation you would have all been over here to visit and you could have seen her room. But we live in England.  Before Amy came along that door was always closed because it was our storage room but when we moved in here we always hoped it would be a nursery.  When we were getting ready for Amy’s arrival her nursery was a very important project to me.  It was a way I could love her while she was getting ready to meet us.  The room was cleared out, Derek painted, a 500 piece Ikea dresser was put together.

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Lola helping clear out the room of old college books and luggage!

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Deciding on paint color, which would you pick?

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We chose cappuccino and Derek did all the painting!

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Prego and pounding

Special items were made to hang on the walls by me and my dad, and her bedding was sewn by my mom and a quilt made for her by Derek’s mom.  We planned the room before we knew she was a girl and added pink touches once we found out.  It’s a beautiful room that reminds me of Florida and the beach.  I love sitting in there feeding Amy in the comfy recliner given to us by dear friends who have their own memories of comforting their children in the middle of the night in the same chair.

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A growth chart made by Grandma

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Amy sign by grandpap from wood taken from doors at their house, kelp basket liner by Grandma.

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Amy (7 weeks) with my sister, this photo is very precious to me. The photographer took it while Katie was calming Amy at the session. It was in a studio but it is actually a candid shot.

It was the room I most thought about while in Florida when my mind wandered to our return to the UK.  I was so excited to show it to Amy again, after all she wouldn’t remember.  I just knew she’d love pulling out the books from the bookshelf bench we made and playing with the toys in the toy bins for which my mom made liners.  It is a very soothing room for me; starfish, crabs, waves and photographs of our families at the beach and in the water.

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The fish mobile from Pottery Barn Kids was my first purchase for the nursery. My friend Hannah made the bunting for Amy’s UK baby shower.

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Derek & my senior HS swim team photos, Derek swimming butterfly at a HS meet and my YMCA patches from swimming lessons.

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Here is the crib with bedding made by Grandma and quilt complete with wave quilting stitching made by Nana, lucky girl!

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Katie made Amy the quilt over the back of the chair. We used it all the time for tummy time!

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Piggy bank from Uncle Scott, a photo of Derek & me on a dive trip to Jupiter, a wooden train brought back from Belgium by Grandma & Grandpap, and the first note sent to me by Derek’s grandmother on personalized stationary, Amy’s namesake.

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I found this table at my favorite antique store here in the UK. The blocks wagon is from my friends Molly & John

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Pinterest project to make the bench seat. It’s a bookshelf from Ikea.

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Made in Great Britian, Great-great grandmother, great-grandmothers, fishing in a gutter, family at the beach, Amy’s first bath, Lola, paddle boats, postcards from Clearwater, and grandparents’ honeymoon photos.

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My aunt sent this to me because I made it for my cousin when he was born, he is now in his mid 20’s.

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A hand print kit given to me by Ruthie, my hand therapist friend. Amy was so small we did her feet too!

Unfortunately we received notice from our UK landlords four days after our family was reunited that we have to vacate our house.  They need to have the house back due to unforseen circumstances.   Our first week back together was supposed to be the three of us, and Lola, cuddled up in our home loving and catching up with each other.  Instead we’ve been searching for a new place to live; phone calls, home tours, more phone calls, Amy in and out of the car skipping much needed naps.  It has been difficult with a high level of stress, hurt and anger.  We only have 6 or 7 months left at this post and now we are unexpectantly having to move a four bedroom house on our own dime.

Most of my saddness has been for the loss of Amy’s room that our families spent months planning and creating.  She was only in there the first seven months of her life.  I don’t regret the time and love spent on the space.  I will always have the memory of her and her Daddy playing in there on their first day back together on the floor with her toys.

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Amy will have many rooms in her life but this was her first.  She is officially a military child, very adaptable (I’m just not sure her mommy will ever get used to so much change).  Sigh.  Derek and I have worked well together this week supporting each other when we each need it.  We’ve been calling ourselves “Team Bickler”.  I’m so glad I have him as my partner in life, we make a good team.  I will enjoy Amy’s room while it still stands and be strong when it’s taken down.  Just another adventure on the books, I have to remember some of them are going to be unwelcome surprises.

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New sleep deprived mommy and her baby girl


Together Again

202 days apart and our family is back together again.  I still can’t wrap my brain around the numbers.  Derek was with Amy the first seven and a half months of her life and the next seven watched her grow up on Facetime.  Derek has been away from us longer than with us in 2013.  So many military families in our country how do they all do this?  Everytime I missed Derek or felt sorry for myself I’d think about; the spouses who have to remain at their post and can’t go live with family because they have children who are in school, the deployments which are a lot longer than the short six months we went through and of course the families who have a service member who don’t come home from deployment.  I think specifically of my friend Tracy, who lost her brother, and her family’s sacrifice and on going pain.  Being without Derek was hard, and I had help.  It was hard to make all the decisions for Amy and be the one who kept track of her schedule and needs every minute of our day.  Yes, I had help with my parents but like my Dad said, “you have two helpers but it’s not the same as a partner.” I felt gulit asking them to do things for us and taking up their time and space.  They enjoyed it but I know it was a joyful burden.  I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without my parents.

Derek arrived to our home 5 days before Amy and I to prepare the house, our cars and to stock the fridge.  He thought of everything; diapers, wipes, and homemade chicken noodle soup!  Amy and I flew overnight and did pretty well.  Juggling a curious 15 month old, carry on luggage and folding up a stroller was a challenge.  By the end I felt I had run a marathon.  When we arrived I went through immigration carrying all of it because the stroller was not given to us until later with our luggage. Ugh, seriously?!  But we survived and Amy did sleep in her own little bed that attached to the bulkhead for 4 hours of the trip.  It was a very nice break for Mommy (who did not sleep).

When we finally made it to Derek I lost it and savored the hug and kisses from him and took in his smell.  I missed it all.  Then he saw his sleepy girl.  She still wanted Mommy and looked at him as if he was a stranger.  That was hard but passed quickly.  When we got to the car the battery was dead but we took the time to adjust the car seat, change Amy’s diaper and play peek-a-boo with Daddy.  By the time all that was done the AA (not AAA here) had fixed the battery troubles and we were on our way.  Poor Derek just got his girls back and we both slept the entire two hour drive home.

I walked into the house and it was very strange.  It was all familar but at the same time I felt like a guest in my own home.  We took Amy around for a tour and finished in her room where we put her down so she could play with Daddy and all her toys we had left at home.  What a joy to watch her with her Dad playing in the nursery I so carefully created for her.  The best part is how excited Derek is to be my partner in raising her.  He changed her diaper and got her dressed for her nap.  I felt this huge weight lifted.  No guilt, after all she’s his kid too.  Amy slept another 2 hours and would have slept longer but we thought we should wake her so she’d sleep at night.  She had difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep but finally she settled about 2:30am and slept until 12:45pm!!!  Mommy slept till 11:30.  Derek fed her breakfast and we took a walk to the park and to visit the horses.   It’s so wonderful to be together again.  We are still adjusting, I had to open all my drawers to figure out which one was my sock drawer but it’s fun and wonderful.  Thank you all for your love, support and sweet messages throughout this experience.  I am so proud to be Derek’s wife for all he sacrifces and the care he puts into his job.  He’s truely amazing.  Here are some of my favorite photos since being home. xoxo

Amy helping unpack the suitcase.

Amy helping unpack the suitcase.

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Hugs from Daddy while exploring the stairs, we didn’t have these at Grandma & Grandpap’s!

Amy's room with new toys!

Amy’s room with new toys!

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Out for some fresh air!

Out for some fresh air!

Walking over the Ford in the Village to the park!

Walking over the ford in the village to the park!

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Hmmm not so sure about these swings.

Hmmm not so sure about these swings.

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We’re Having a Baby

Ok, you got me I’m a total blog slacker and we are having a baby in ummm 6 weeks!  Holy moly!  Our adventures have slowed down along with my walking, I mean waddling speed.  My other excuse is our nice camera has been broken but thanks to my parents and Sony it has been repaired and we are back in business.  So here are some photos we’ve taken throughout the pregnancy.  Family and friends have been very supportive and helpful with advice, gifts, and love.  Thank you, we really do feel the love all the way across the pond and we’re not sure how we would’ve done this without you.  At first it was scary to be so far away but with technology it really doesn’t feel that far!

This was my first belly shot when I was home in Florida visiting in May, I was 15 weeks in this photo. 

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In this photo I am in our backyard and back home in the UK with Derek & Lola, I am 18 weeks pregnant.

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This photo was taken by my sister-in-law during their visit.  We were able to find out we were having a girl at 20 weeks while Derek’s brother’s family was visiting.  It was such a joy to have family here with which to share our news.

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Here’s a photo of the belly at 20 weeks.  Amy is Derek’s paternal grandmother’s name and my best friend’s name.  Elizabeth has many namesakes my sister’s middle name, our sister in-law Annette’s real first name, and my paternal grandmother’s middle name.

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Here is the belly at 24 weeks.

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Here is the belly at 26 weeks.

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Here is us at the Joint Services Ball at the Duxford Air Museum. I was 28 weeks, 7 months pregnant and yes I was out on the dance floor, Derek wasn’t but I was!

ImageHere is my Lola Rose cuddled up lovin on her Baby AmyImage

And my Gator Incubator t-shirt given to me by my friend from St. Joe’s Sara.  This was taken on opening game day when we were really missing our friends back in Gainesville tailgating at the Holts! I was 30 weeks in this photo.Image

As I am writing this I am 34 weeks pregnant.  We’ve had some difficulties with hypertension and Amy being about a week and a half behind of her gestational age.  The staff at the military hospital has been amazing and monitoring both Baby Amy and I very closely.  I drive there twice a week (an hour and a half each way) for fetal monitoring and ultra sounds.  They are thinking she’ll be induced between 37 and 39 weeks depending on my hypertension and her growth.  Because of this my parents have changed their plane reservations from Nov. 1st to Oct. 22nd.  I am so blessed to have such support and can’t wait until they arrive!  More to come on 2 trips to France, Derek’s brother’s visit, the Paralympics, and the nursery!

Love you all!

Sara & Derek


Our First Anniversary in Mallorca, Spain

     We totally copied our friends Sara & Jeff because we thought they had a great idea for anniversary celebrations.  Basically they alternate years and create surprises for each other.  So this year it was Derek’s turn, you know since I planned the wedding last year, most of which was a surprise to him. 🙂

    He planned a trip and had a guide book sent to me all wrapped up.  He told me I could open it whenever I wanted to know where we were going.  I waited until the week before we left so I could know how to pack.  I opened the book after dinner and it was Mallorca! Its one of the Balearic Islands off the Southeast coast of Spain.  We arrived Saturday, rented our car (wait till you see that) and drove (on the right side of the road and with the steering wheel on the left side of the car) to our hotel in Palma.  We arrived in the middle of the carnival celebrations!  We walked around the city with closed streets, parades, and people and children dressed up like it was Halloween!

I guess it is Gator World! Ha ha ha

We stumbled upon Forn des Teatre. I recognized the facade from my guide book. This bakery is famous for the famous Mallorcan ensaimada which is a spiral bun pastry, so I got one. It was unusual mine had small candied fruit and spicy sausage on top. Not a combination I enjoyed. Oh well, had to try it.

We ate pinchos at the Tapas Bar attached to Forn des Teatre and walked around before we stopped for dinner at a Sushi Restaurant, because we miss Sushi!!  The restaurant didn’t even open for dinner until 8pm!  We were going to have some adjusting to do since we are usually in bed by 9:30! Losers!

Day 2, Our First Anniversary

Ready for some cheesy photos?

We decided to do some more walking around Palma and exploring. Ok this is not a cheesy photo. In the background you can see the 13th Century Gothic Catedral La Seu.

Here's cheesy anniversary photo #1. Amy sent me a Pinterest link of a couple who took Modern Family like photos within photos of each anniversary. I took it a step further and started our first photo with our wedding photo that I toted all the way to Spain! Cheesy! But I think it's kinda cool that it's a photo from exactly a year ago!

Then we found a small beach! I had to walk in the sand!

And here is cheesy photo #2! Last one I promise!

We stopped at a cafe for some fun drinks and a little dessert. It was a beautiful day!

We walked along the water and watched the sun set over the water and reflect off the buildings.

We were in Mallorca off season so many places and summer homes were closed up. Notice the green shutters? They were all over the island.

But it didn't matter, the island was beautiful and I was so happy to be with Derek, the ocean, and palm trees. We walked back to the Sushi restaurant for more Sushi! It was a wonderful first anniversary.

Day 3: Time to be Tourists!

We got in our clown car had drove along the east coast of Mallorca!

Laugh, please laugh, we did! Every time we saw our Smart Car! It was so much fun, surprisingly roomy and got up to speed in the highway!

Our first stop was the 300 million year old caves called Coves del Drach (Caves of the Dragon). No photos were allowed in the Caves but they were really amazing.

While we were waiting to be herded down into the caves with all of the other tourists we found a trail down to the water.

Here is my illegal photo I took of the subterranean lake which wooden row boats lit with a string small white lights full of musicians paddled while we all sat in auditorium style benches. Derek thought it was cheesy but I liked it. Then we waited in line to ride the boat about 20 yards across the lake 🙂

We got back in the clown car and found a restaurant open for lunch.

Derek had grilled squid, I don't remember what I had.

Another beach walk photo

We found a trail that had many icon rules but the one that was not crossed out with a red line seemed to be blowing snot rockets...? or maybe it was be quiet. Aren't we allowed to use our outside voices outside?

For our last stop we had made it to the northern part of the island, Peninsula Alcudia which was beautiful!

We drove back down to Palma on the South side of the island straight through the middle and had dinner, no not Sushi again!

Day 4: Soller

On our way to catch the train we had to stop by Mercat de l’Olivar which apparently is, “the epicenter of Palma’s gastronomic scene” according to my Frommer’s Guide to Mallorca.  This food market was something we had to see, since we consider ourselves novice foodies!

The Fish Market was very impressive!

Some of the fish were so fresh they were flopping on the crushed ice beds and there were crabs crawling! So glad we'd been eating Sushi while we were there! Derek was in heaven and really wished we had our own kitchen so we could buy some fresh fish.

This was a little disturbing to me, cured meat legs in metal cuffs ready to be carved for the customer! Derek thought it was pretty cool!

There were also fruit & vegetable stands over flowing. How could all this food be bought before it goes bad? Good thing it's know as the epicenter!

They also sold paella pans of course!

These are earthenware casseroles made and used in Mallorca called a Greixonera pronounced GRAY-shon-ERA. They were beautiful!

Then we arrived at the train station where we found the vintage 1912 narrow-gauge train called Ferrocarril de Soller built to transport citrus from Soller to Palma for export.

The train goes to Soller which is on the west coast of Mallorca through orange and lemon groves and the Serra de Tramuntana mountains.

The train stopped once to allow us to get off and take a photo at this beautiful spot.

We arrived and walked around the charming city of Soller with a beautiful 16th centry parish Sant Baromeu church right at the city center.

More green shutters

More green shutters, I tried to google the significance but couldn't find an answer.

Then we hopped on the 1913 Tranvia about 3 miles to the northwest coasts only natural harbor Port de Soller.

It says Bienvenidos on the wooden piece in the boat!

Most places were closed but we found this restaurant open.

It ended up being the best meal we had our entire trip! We ordered fish stew.

This is a very happy man!

And it came to our table in a Greixonera! So when we got back to Soller we bought one as Derek's souvenir! He bought me a Mallorcan pearl ring as mine.

The clouds rolled in as we got back on the train to Palma.

Day 5: North to Pollenca

We drove again up through the middle of the island to Pollenca for some exercise.  Pollenca was founded in 1230 and was a beautiful city where we stopped for some coffee before walking up 365 stone steps called the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) to a small chapel.

Almost there!

We made it!

We walked back through Pollenca across the two lane highway to find the Santuari des Puig de Maria trail head.  It was a winding 17th century stone footpath.

He's such an athlete!

And I am no longer an athlete!

We made it to the top of the 15th century Gothic Chapel and refectory part of an abandoned monastery.

And someone was actually up there to take a photo of us we figured it out even though they only spoke German!

Here is one of our views and you can see the Via Crucis stone steps we walked up. Se the long straight line in the middle of the city?

Here's inside the monastery

The kitchen

A well deserved beer before we walked back down the hill

We drove out to the Port de Pollenca for a beautiful lunch on the deck with two buses full of German tourists.  Then we walked the coast and kept changing our minds about which villa we were going to rent for the summer 🙂

Another curvy drive out to a lighthouse and a beautiful view!

Once we reached the lighthouse the windy drive was over and I became a little punchy!

WOW Sara bad hair day! To my credit it was very windy!

We drove back home and had an amazing last dinner at a beautiful restaurant.

Day 6: Cathedral before we fly home

I had to see inside the Cathedral La Seu before we left.

This was the most beautiful altar I had ever seen! The amazing canopy was done by Antoni Gaudi.

The light from the windows was so pretty!

We had to stand in the light

I am sorry this was such a long post, I really tried to cut down the photos but it really was beautiful and we had a great time.  I have been thinking about how to surprise Derek next February 19th.  Any ideas?  I’d love to hear them!  But email me because he follows my blog! xoxo


Snow

It’s been a while, I know.  So long it took me a minute to remember my login information for WordPress!  Since my last post we’ve had a few adventures including snow days, a growing puppy, our first anniversary, my birthday, and friends visiting from the States.   In a few more days we have another adventure, we are heading to the French Alps for a week of Spring skiing.  They are getting 3 days of snow this week so we are really excited!  Speaking of snow, here is the beginning of my attempt to play blog catch up before we have another trip to post!

We had 2 days of snow this year.  The first day landed on a Saturday night which was perfect for all of the kids because Sunday was a whole day of sledding, snowman building and snowball fights!  Well the kids and the American from Florida!

Our Backyard

Lola's first snow!

View down the main road from our backyard

The Old School House

Lola & I were very excited & very bundled up for all the SNOW!!!

But this Montana boy is bored by all the snow!

Our field covered in snow, I was sooo excited!

I had to make a snow angel, and Lola wanted to play too!

And she wanted to give kisses since I was on her level.

So fun!

Then I made Derek show me how to make my first snowman! He actually admitted the snow was perfect for snowman making!

I did roll that midsection but he had to place it, snow is heavy! Look at that face!

I think Derek started to have fun too.

He's pretty into it right?

Some finishing touches from the woods...

And we have my very first snowman!

A few more snowy photos as we walked home.


Announcement

Virginia Elizabeth Goodall

(April 4, 1919-February 1, 2012)

I will miss my spicy Grandma Goodall but I know she was ready and lived a very full 92 years of love, trips to Vegas, wins at the Dog Track, and fun with her 4 children, 9 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren!  For me it was the hardest thing to deal with so far living here in the UK.  She died on a difficult week for the Goodalls with Jason’s birthday Feb 2nd and the day he died the 3rd.  But at least they are together and she is shaking that finger at him I’m sure! Below she’s outside giving Derek her two cents about how to cook the veggies on the grill.

It’s been a crazy month with many ups and a few downs.  For Derek’s birthday we spent the Saturday before in London.

We ate lunch at The Booking Room in the old part of the St.Pancras Train station.

Mmm hot liquor drink good in the cold. Yummy.

Just inside the train station. London is getting ready for the Summer Olympics.

It was not only Derek's birthday but also the Chinese New Year!

Derek is excited about the rack of lamb for 2!

Evan took good care of our Lola while we were in London. They love each other!

Then the night of Derek’s birthday we had Sam & Adrian, their kiddos & Katie & her kiddos over to sing Happy Birthday and eat cake with us!

Derek's Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cheesecake Birthday Cake

This weekend is our 1st Wedding Anniversary and we totally stole a celebration tradition from our friends Sara & Jeff.  We are going to alternate years of planning surprise trips both big & small.  This year was Derek’s year to plan.  So he send me a guide book wrapped from Amazon with a note saying “open me when you want to know where we are going!”  So last Saturday I opened the book to find out we are going to Mallorca!  It is a small island off the southeast coast of Spain.  We are pretty excited about it!

OK, sorry on to the announcement you have all been waiting for and asking us about for a while!

Director, Sound Guy, Cast (x2), & Camera Man

Our House Hunter’s International Episode will air in the US on Tuesday February 21st at 10:30pm EST and again at 1:30 am.  So we need you to be kind and send us reassuring emails after you’ve seen the episode.  Because we don’t get to see it until they send us the DVD 3-4 weeks after it airs!  So unfair!  We had a fabulous time shooting the episode here in the UK.  We had an amazing crew that made long days and repetitive shooting so much fun!  Here are some photos of us and the crew in front of the Geddington Post Office.  So fun!

I will leave you with photos of our love & joy Lola Rose who is growing so fast.  Today at the vet she weighed 11 kilos or 25 pounds!

She is such a cuddle bug!

One of her first rides in Derek's Defender, the diesel engine lulled her to sleep!

Running in the morning frost with her buddies Bailey & Jasper.

My two lovies sound asleep snoring an opera!

Look at those paws! She's going to be a big girl!

Too big for her bed! I had to buy her a new one yesterday! ha ha ha!

Bill’s Weather Report:  We had 2 days of snow this past month and I had a blast as Derek rolled his eyes at my excitement!  I will do another post with all the snow fun!  I promise Dad!  Until then set your DVRs and plan your viewing parties for Tuesday February 21st!!

xoxo

Sara


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