Sunday, March 26, 2017

Family Update, Week of March 12, 2017

Hey people. 

Here is my update from two weeks ago. Before the letter though, I forgot to add these cutie photos to the previous week's update.  These are from Sunday a week ago, starting with me and my weekly routine of doing the girls' hair on the bus haha. 'Cause that's 20 minutes of my morning right there! Gotta use it all efficiently.

And this is us walking from church to the bus stop, to hopefully catch the bus that is supposed to be running regularly but for some reason on Sunday never does.

 I sure do love watching that baby's short little legs pumping, wobbly and unstable, to keep up with all the big people!
 Thankfully, we did eventually catch the bus. I loved this scene before me, little girl on a big red bus. Lookin out the window. Her favorite color is actually red., she'd like these pictures. Maybe I should actually show them to her haha.

 It's really neat to watch your children grow comfortable with and accustomed to something that is so foreign  and unlike previous routines and habits. They're as comfortable hopping on a bus as they are in their own home.

Hello, Dear Family-

Hope you are all well and good. We are doing well here. Claire had a short, 36 hour fever bug but seems to be doing fine now, thankfully. Hopefully the rest of us will pass unscathed.

This week was much less eventful than last week. I'm trying to remember what we did. On Monday night we had our friends from church, Jeremy and Alyssa Lindstrom and their two boys, Berlin and Oslo, over for dinner. Jeremy was in the MBA program last year and has been a great mentor for Max, and they've helped us a lot with our transition, including having us over for dinner the first Sunday we were in Oxford. That was a blessing from heaven! I felt like I hadn't eaten real food in almost a week with traveling, trying to get settled, and absolutely no kitchen- or cookware yet. They will be moving to Germany at the end of the month and we are sad to see them go. But wish them luck on their next chapter.

Tuesday morning I took a couple loads of laundry over to the SKinner's house because our washing machine broke.  Major bummer. It started leaking water all over the kitchen floor from underneath. It was a great excuse to go hangout with my friend Mariel though haha. So nice of them to let me use their machine and so fun to hang out and chat. I had to leave the laundry there drying while I took Jane to school so Dustin was nice enough to bike my garbage bags full of clean laundry over to our house on his way to school haha. Woulda been a sight to see! Not gonna lie though, it was pretty nice having a little laundry service to my door! Tuesday was also Max's last late day of classes. Hallelujah! I had arranged to meet my pal Mari at the Story Museum after school. We got there only to find that it was closed! They're only open on the weekends during term time, unfortunately. But we sat in their cafe and had some tea and muffins while the kids ran around like crazy and we tried to prevent them from causing any permanent damage to the toys and goods on the shelves of the cafe/shop. Unsuccessfully. Haha, Claire threw a little glass jar on the floor and broke it. Luckily it wasn't "for sale" merchandise, just some sort of table decor thing. I still felt bad though. Immediately after the nice young man at the counter came to sweep up the bits (he was really very good about it, you have to assume they expect and tolerate crazy children when they're affiliated with a children's Story Museum) we took that as our cue to leave and headed from their to the children's library of Oxford. I had some books that I'd been renewing online for probably two months that we needed to return and switch out. PLUS I had the next two Poldark books on hold for me. Yes! I'm really enjoying the books. The show is really pretty true to the books, but they just can't get all the detail from the literature into a tv series. I'm on books 6 and 7 of I think 12! It's actually a really long series. Haven't started them yet though because while waiting for them I started reading Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit on the kindle app on my phone. I love that I can download any classic for free on there. So great. I also really love Charles Dickens. And just literature in general. So powerful and beautiful an art form.
Minay and Claire at the Story Museum Cafe. 
Here's a neat video of an AWESOME pop-up book they had at their shop. A sliver of my heart and mind wanted to buy it for her, it was so awesome. But the other 95% of that pie chart in my mind said "IT'S A VERY BAD IDEA!" because it would be destroyed in literally 30 seconds, I'm sure.
 Here's another funny video, that I already shared on my instagram and you've probably already seen. Love that baby.
 Lots of videos here. This was just a fun clip of our walk home, enjoying all the many many daffodils!

Wednesday I can't really remember what we did.... ... Oh yes. Laundry repairman came at 8AM. Stayed for about 5 minutes tops. He looked at the machine for 1 minute, came out and said he couldn't do a thing with it because the baseboard was in the way and he couldn't pull it out without causing damage. Told me to call the landlord and have it removed and reschedule an appt. Major eye roll. I knew that would put it off for another 3-5 days, depending. I'd already been waiting 6 days. Bummer. Good thing for nice friends who let me use their machines.
Wednesday was another beautiful day of sunshine so we went to the park after school. Yay for sunshine and warmer weather! We met up with Mariel and co. (Sophie, Jonah, and little baby Ivy). We also ran into another MBA family while there, Ravi and Sanyu, the ones who had us over for dinner last week. Everyone is out with the warm weather!
As I mentioned on my social media, Jane's baby is called Richard.
She informed me the other day that she heard of the name from Peppa Pig, (which is HUGE here. She is the Elmo and Daniel Tiger of the U.K.) apparently there is a Richard Rabbit on the show. 
Still funny though.

Thursday was dance day again. I felt really pleased with myself because I had dinner ready and in the crockpot by 10:15 am. Chicken tortilla soup. From the Pioneer Woman blog - it's a great recipe. I texted Max and told him he could invite someone over for dinner that night. We've been wanting to have more people over since there are soooo many neat people here. I knew tonight would be a good one because the stress of dinner was already taken care of so after school and ballet all we would need to do was pick up a bit and then we'd be ready to host. Win. Max ended up invited a sweet young woman, lady, girl (I don't know what to call her haha) named Gerisha from South Africa over. She is Indian decent but grew up in South Africa. She was very friendly and great to get acquainted with.

Friday... Oh yeah, Friday was cool because we got to go to a formal family dinner at Max's college, Green Templeton. Apparently they had to lobby a bit to get permission to have a family formal dinner, with children. It ended up being really really fun. We didn't know too many people there, just our friends the Boshoffs (Armond, Mari and Minay from South Africa) and Ravi, Sanyu, and Nandini (I don't know their surname!) but it was still highly enjoyable. They tried to keep it as similar as possible to a regular formal dinner, despite having loud, crazy, wild kids in the mix. It was in the Radcliff Observatory, a fancy older building at the college, the dining room inside the dome of the building. The tables were all set with fancy dining wear and place settings, little name cards at each setting, and it was a 3 course meal. I didn't bring my phone in, darn it. Really should have so I could have taken a picture of the food! The first course was breaded salmon fingers with tartar sauce. After eating this one to her fill, Jane turned to me and asked when dessert was coming. I told her that this was just the snack and that they were still going to bring dinner out. She really didn't understand, I had to explain it like 3 times haha. Finally she looked at me in shock and yelled with a confused look "They're still bringing DINNER?!?!"Haha. Courses... they're a new concept for her.Then it was chicken breast, roasted potatoes, broccoli, salad, and cheese bread rolls. The last course, dessert, was vanilla ice cream for the kids and chocolate mousse with raspberry compote. Honestly, the mousse was great, but I almost would have preferred the ice cream!  It was really really delicious, so creamy! In between each course there was a lot of down time, plenty of time for to eat and for the kids to get nice and antsy haha. Towards the middle half the kids (the younger ones) were just running around on the floor playing together. It was comical to watch all the staff rushing to and fro, dodging little children who were darting around, completely oblivious to all around them, as usual. It really was great though, to be able to be in that sort of setting that was formal (everyone dressed up in dark suits and Sunday best - we even had one guy in full Scottish formal gettup, kilt and stockings and everything. Really cool) ) and nice and fancy but where it was acceptable to have your kids with you despite them being wiggly and loud and crazy. There was crying and yelling, and as I said playing and running around, but everyone there was totally ok with it because we were all in the exact same boat, and completely accustomed to the chaos of children haha.  
They did a group shot of everyone before dinner. We literally walked in RIGHT as they were about to snap it and sat ourselves right down in front. #alwayslate 

 Waiting amidst the chaos for the meal to be served. Although I look pissed I actually was not. I was really happy.
 Here's my fancy-pants place setting. 

*Photo Cred GTC photographer

*Photo Cred GTC Photographer
Sidenote: gentleman in the left corner was the wonderful pianist later on.
 After dinner the took us to the upper room inside the dome, we had to walk up a winding stone staircase around the circumference of the rotunda to get there, where they had  a really nice sitting room, complete with a baby grand piano (you better believe some kid was pounding some off tune, half learnt piece nearly the entire time) and a table full with a spread of mugs, thermoses of coffee and hot water and a box of herbal tea bags, with plates of chocolates scattered around the room. Still treating us! The girls each had a couple cups of tea, and I did as well. Blackcurrant blueberry - so good. We milled around and chatted with our friends, and tried to prevent the kids from damaging anything. Towards the end of the evening, an older gentleman, one of the deans of the college who had kind of presided over the dinner (and did a marvelous job, was so kind and welcoming to all of us families), Professor Roland Rosner, took a seat at the piano and began playing masterfully. A couple classical pieces I didn't recognize, and Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Made me itch to sit down and play, and just try a bit of his sheet music. I did not, however. Pretty much when he finished it was time to go anyway. Man, I miss the piano though. I want to take up lessons again someday. All in all it was a really really great evening. I'm so glad the college accommodated us like that and let us bring our families to such a neat event. We walked back home with our pals the Boshoffs, sure love them, and then hurried home to put the kids to bed.

*Photo Cred GTC photographer
Following are photos of the girls running around like mad, intermingled with breaks for tea drinking.

 After dinner tea  is always nice whilst chatting with friends.
*Photo Cred GTC photographer

*Photo Cred GTC photographer
Saturday Claire woke up with a bad fever. So Max stayed home with her while I took the kids to another event at Green Templeton College - an Easter Egg hunt! Once again, a really nice event for the kids, although not as well attended as the one the previous night. They had scattered tiny chocolate eggs and even tinier little Easter toys and figurines all over the quad and flower beds. I kind of liked not having them in the big, bright easter eggs because it made the hunt last so much longer. Each thing was so tiny that it took a lot more effort to look for and find it all. After the hunt they had warm hot cross buns (they're real! It's not just that piano tune!) and hard boiled eggs to paint. A very sweet activity.
Two little munchkis waiting for the egg hunt to start.

On the lookout!
*Photo Cred GTC photographer

*Photo Cred GTC photographer
*Photo Cred GTC photographer

*Photo Cred GTC photographer

*Photo Cred GTC photographer
 Spring flowers! They are just the best. Just when you start to feel like the winter will never end and there will never be anything beautiful or alive on the earth again, they pop up out of that frozen ground and bring sunshine and cheer with them. Literally, a breath of fresh air. I see them and take a deep breath while I appreciate their beauty and the hope they sing of brighter days and the earth entering it's season of life again. God is good. He created such a beautiful, sweet world for us to delight in and enjoy.

 I mean, look how sweet those little blue blossoms are!

 Showing me her treasures.

As you can imagine, they didn't lose any time getting started with their painting. Jane girl may not be quite as avid a drawer or colorer, but she loves to paint just as much as Alice. 

And a story time with the Green Templeton snake mascot. Haha so random - the Easter snake of Green Templeton reading Peppa Pig.

This is Green Templeton College's crest, in case you were wondering where the snake came from:
The rest of the afternoon/evening was spent snuggling this sicky.
 The one plus of babies being sick is that they become such calm little snuggle bugs. I felt so bad for her, she was so lethargic and sad, but sure enjoyed her snuggles on my lap.

Today Claire still had a fever so Max took the girls to church while I stayed home with her. We watched all of the church's new Children's Bible Videos where they have kids explain things out of the New Testament. They're soooo cute. And Claire loved watching the little kids. Check it out if you haven't seen them yet:

After getting home and getting the kids some lunch Max and I did what we do every Sunday - put on the movie Prince of Egypt, the only Sabbath appropriate movie we have access to, and went upstairs to take a nap haha. Alice asked why they always have to watch that one... I think she's getting wise to the pattern! It's a great movie! I wish they'd do more quality movies like that from scriptures. Towards the evening Claire started feeling much better, thankfully. We had some dinner and then cleaned up a bit and made some cookies. And that pretty much brings us to now.

Had to include both photos 'cause of that little face down in the corner. She's so lazy with her smiles haha. She just makes a few wrinkles on her face, scrunches her eyes and calls it good. Can't be bothered.

Other news, Max got word that he was not accpeted to this other Masters program here at Oxford, which means that our likelihood of staying her longer than a year is very slim (to my disappointment). Still not sure what's next in store for us though.

K, love you all.

Lisa and fam

I walk over this bridge 4-6 times a day (on school days) and always think about how charming it is. The lighting was bright and cheerful the other day so I finally stopped to take a few pictures.
In the center is of the bridge is this plaque. The crest of the University of Oxford on the left, and the crest of the city of Oxford (oxen fording) on the right.
I had to keep this one because of the perfectly framed ducks down in the right corner. 
So cute!

And while we're looking at Oxford stuff... 
the park bench's are all stamped with Oxford's crest.
Walking home from the Skinner's house after doing my laundry, I took a new route and, as always happens when walking somewhere new in Oxford, was just blown away by the beautiful architecture and artistry of the charming old buildings.

Seriously, could not get over this old warehouse along the canal.

This pretty purple wall is on the same street as Alice's school. 

Eskimo Jane and the daffodils and St. Frideswide's Church.

I know they're pretty much all the same, and you're probably bored of looking at the same picture of Jane over and over again, but just try to excuse me indulging myself, I can't say no to each different iteration of her beautiful face and smile and expression. Jane girl sure has an expressive face.

Lastly; the magnolias have bloomed in Oxford. 
I've been wanting to go back and take more recent pictures since they've opened up even more since I took these. But we haven't made it back over there yet. 

See that head, with the phone in front of it, taking a picture? Yeah, she stopped to photograph the blossoms after seeing me stopped and photographing them myself.  Copy cat.