December in England

I hope you all had a Happy Christmas! Here are a few of our highlights from Birmingham and London this December.
Birmingham’s German Market with friendsIMG_8425 IMG_4442 Continue reading


Mi Madre & Mi Hermana: Around Birmingham

My mom and my sister came to visit us for two whole weeks in August. We had a glorious time. We sat around, played games, ate chocolate, discussed all things pregnancy and newborn (my sister is pregnant with her first!) and we saw England. Well, not the whole country, but some important bits. Their visit was so significant I’m breaking it into three posts. : ) Around Birmingham, London (weekend #1), and Southwest England (weekend #2).
On their first full day here we went to Cadbury World, Birmingham’s best attraction. I mean, chocolate tasting + a cheesy ride + a little history + more chocolate + a 4D show + a playground + more chocolate. And it’s only a few miles away from home.
IMG_2748I think my favorite discovery from this trip to Cadbury World is a very Wonka-ish chocolate bar with popping candy (like mild pop rocks), jellies (like little bits of gummy bears), and candy shells (like bits of mini M&Ms). A bit bizarre, but certainly a fun treat.
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1 Year in Lists

We made it to and just past our one year mark of living here. Wow. I took some time to go back and read what I wrote on the blog when we were first here, and I’m happy to report that life is much smoother now and we’ve learned so very much in the past year. I sort of feel badly for my past self and how overwhelmed I was! However, going through some of that was a necessary evil in order to get us to where we are now. Anyway, we took some time to sit down and list a few things we’ve learned over the past year.
IMG_8109Get ready for a monster post. I see this as a good thing though – it means we’ve learned and grown and that living here has been worth all the initial stress.

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Happy Birthday Little L!

My baby turned one on Sunday.
Is this a monumental thing for all parents? It makes sense to me that the first few birthdays for each child are more important to the parents than to the child. Especially the first child’s first birthday. I can’t help but sit here and shake my head and marvel at how much she’s grown, learned, and seen in the past year. I think she’s positively amazing, but then, I am admittedly biased.

So, in an effort to not get too sappy here are a bunch of pictures of her instead.
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IKEA Marriage Therapy

Sorry we’ve been MIA lately. We moved from temporary housing into our apartment two and a half weeks ago. Our new place is “part furnished” which means there were couches, beds, and dressers, but not much else. The primary work of furnishing and filling up the apartment with kitchen goods (meaning food as well as dishes, cutlery, pots, pans, etc.), linens, and everything else we need to turn this place into our home has fallen to me as Derek is busy working to pay for said home. There is, thankfully, a store nearby that carries some household things (rubber gloves, mops, clothes hangers) but I can only buy as much as I can take home with me in L’s stroller. Yesterday I did a big shopping trip to a store that’s about a mile away, but much better priced than one that’s only half a mile away. When Derek and I were discussing how I got the groceries home he suggested hanging a bag off of the stroller handle. I had. And I was carrying two shoulder bags, and the underneath section of the stroller was full to the brim. “Oh you must have been quite a sight.” haha It’s nothing new, really.

Last weekend we rented a van and drove out to IKEA. This included a little bit of stress in advance – what if the van only has 2 seats? Do I wear L in the moby while we drive there? Will that be okay? Can you (Derek) drive on the left side of the road? How comfortable are you with stick shift?

IMAG0030There were 3 seats so she was in a car seat (whew!) even if she was in the front, Derek was great with driving on the left, and fine with the shifting gears. And boy did we filled up that van. At least now we have a dining table, a crib, duvets (warmth!), kitchen goods (pots, pans, etc) all which allow us to feel so much more at home!
I wasn’t kidding when I said we bought a lot:
The day after our big IKEA trip we spent a good chunk of time putting things together, as is the norm with IKEA.  While Derek and I were putting together our home we decided that working together as a team is kind of like a marriage therapy exercise. (If you’re a NBC/Tina Fey fan – Liz Lemon has her own theory about IKEA shopping and relationships). You have the same goal as each other, each of you have different strengths, and ultimately you have to figure out how to use your strengths to compensate for the other’s, um… non-strengths to succeed. And in time, once the goal is accomplished, or the table is built, or the curtains are hung, you are proud of what you’ve done together. Too cheesy? okay. (Side note: After re-reading this, my theory is similar to Liz Lemon’s in that the table has become a metaphor for our relationship. Ah blerg!)

I’ve also been MIA because it has taken us a while to finish setting up some things like internet, phones, electricity, etc. BUT our WiFi is up and running (we’re no longer in the stone age…) and I think the majority of our to-dos have been checked!

So Happy 4th of July to all of you! We’ll be having a mini barbecue tonight with just the three of us and then getting together with another expat and her family to celebrate this weekend. And to those who are sweltering  in 100+ degree weather- I hope it brings you a little solace to know that, at least for today, I’m a bit jealous.IMG_5163

[The last fireworks we saw from the window of our apartment in Chi-town]