Friday, June 29

Friday Night Fling

About 15 years ago, the thought of a 'Friday Night Fling' would conjure up very different images in my mind than it does today! I did like to enjoy myself ... and I do now, just in different ways!

Tonight I will be out from 6pm til midnight at a Friday Night Fling run by our local quilting store, Mercantile on Main ... see I told you it was a bit different! This will be my second class since moving to the States and most likely my last before we leave. The first was a beginners class to learn the basics. Since then I have completed one other project but have a few more on the go.

It has been fun to learn a new 'local' craft ... and I am totally hooked. I have already been saving up to buy some material and patterns for future projects once we leave here (yes, I know I'm sad!), it's just getting the time. Every mum's dream, a little time to themselves!

There will be at least 20 of us there tonight and the idea of this evening is to get the bulk of a quilt done there and then. I think I may be one of the slower, more novice quilters there but it will nice to have some time off from mummy and family duties and meet some new people at the same time. I'm just not sure if I will be able to keep my eyes open and concentrating that long and that late after sleeping on the sofa last night with the littlest munchkin! Doh!

So many people have signed up that there isn't enough room in the store for us to take the class there, instead we are relocating into a nearby funeral home. For those of you not into the quilting, that makes it a whole lot more interesting doesn't it?!!! Here is a little teaser of some of the material I will be using ... I LOVE it and am really looking forward to the some uninterrupted me-time, making it into something beautiful!

Wednesday, June 27

Picking your Battles

When you announce that you're pregnant, especially for the first time, the whole world believes they have a licence to offer you their advice ... and they do, by the bucket loads. In fact, the best piece of advice I think I was given, was not to listen to all the advice you'll be given and trust your instincts! Oh the irony!

Anyway, one thing that came up time and again was 'Pick your Battles'. Little ones can be incredibly trying, especially when they are experimenting with the whole independence thing but just in general really! If we fought to the end, every little incident that occurs, parents would be even more exhausted than they already are when bedtime comes around each day! Having the wisdom in those 'moments' isn't always easy and I'm the first to admit I don't always pick the right ones ... but I'm learning!

The reading gene has definitely been inherited by both our munchkins ... in fact we've just got back from the library! Abigail has a book shelf at the end of her bed, that until recently was packed tight with just some of her book collection. After we say goodnight, she used to read an extra book or two and then fall asleep but as the days have got longer and the nights have got lighter she seemed to take that to the extreme. A couple of weeks ago, almost two hours after bed-time, we found Abigail still wide awake with ALL the books from her shelf piled high on her bed (the week or two previous to that, it had slowly been becoming a regular occurrence). She had read through each one, page by page and put them neatly in a pile!

While we don't want to discourage her love of books, we really need bed-time to be observed. This was one battle we didn't want to turn ugly and backfire though, so we hatched a plan. That night we emptied our books from the bottom two shelves of our bookshelf in the living room and the following morning told Abigail about a really exciting new home for her books! She was ecstatic, her own space on Mummy and Daddy's shelves ... and straight away set to the task of moving all the books out of her bedroom, filling them up. It was like we had told her it was Christmas or something!

The plan worked perfectly! No, I-want-my-books-in-my-bedroom tantrums and now no reading marathons at night either. A few weeks on, she still hasn't twigged that it was actually a consequence rather than a treat to have her books moved. Every night she's still enjoying picking a couple of books to read in bed, for once we've said goodnight. I keep waiting for it to click but I don't think that's going to happen. Mission well and truly accomplished! (Abigail, if you're reading this once you've grown a lot older, sorry sweetheart ... but needs must!)

Tuesday, June 26

Heating up!

So the weather is really heating up here in Ohio. By the middle of the week there are no temperatures estimated below 90 (32c) degrees in the 10 day forecast and the high humidity here means that it often feels a lot warmer than that! The irony being that it's actually about 10 degrees cooler in Dodoma, Tanzania, a lot less humid and a whole lot more pleasant!! You would imagine it to be the other way round. Can't wait to get there!

As I have mentioned before ... I'm learning to cook accordingly! Basically the HOT weather makes our house unbearable (even with our little window AC zappy things!) and so using the oven (or stove top) to cook is just not an option. Hence my new found love for the Crock-Pot! Today and tomorrow we have a little respite, with temperatures in the high 70's and so while I can, I've been cooking some family favourites in the oven, recipes I know are unlikely to come out again until autumn time.

Tonight we enjoyed a delicious Chicken Pot Pie recipe that a fellow MMS-er gave me last summer. It is a cheap and simple meal, I believe that she got from a student recipe book or something similar and even with quite a bare kitchen right now (I'm due for a trip to the store!), I still had all the ingredients to hand! I have to admit it was nearly just 'Pot Pie' tonight as I almost forgot to add the chicken ... Oops!

All four members of our family completely devour this meal. Naomi was really getting in there with her fork tonight ... a skill she is learning to master right now and when it is something really yummy like this she is a lot more enthusiastic to get on with it herself! There are never any leftovers when I cook this but as it has all the meat, potatoes and veggies inside, I don't usually serve anything alongside it. I guess if we have visitors I will have to serve it with fresh veggies or salad or something just to eek out the servings ... or just cook a double batch! See the recipe below.

1 cup chicken broth/stock
1 onion, diced
1 potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, cubed
3 ribs of celery, cubed
1 cup cooked chicken, cubed (you can use beef instead)
2 Tbsp rue (1Tbsp butter + 1Tbsp flour)
1 tsp sage
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp pepper
handful peas & handful corn!

Biscuit Topping
1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vinegar
3/4 tsp pepper
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup melted butter

Melt butter and cook onions a little in a saucepan
Add flour to make rue
Add broth & seasonings ... bring to boil
Add veggies, boil for 7-8 mins
Mix in chicken
Put into baking dish
Whisk together biscuit topping ingredients
Spoon over the base
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 mins until browned

Saturday, June 23

History Lesson

Teachers can have a profound effect on their students. Slightly daunting when I know I had a couple of years of teaching last time I was in Tanzania ... hopefully making a positive influence! Many people have been asking me already whether I will teach there again ... who knows?! The girls will go to the school I used to teach in though, which is pretty cool!

One of my least favourite subjects at school was History. I dropped that subject as soon as I possibly could. So, in secondary school I only studied it for three years. I've often wondered what exactly was the big turn off. It may have something to do with the fact that in the first two years I had no less than six different teachers, the equivalent of one a term, all with very varied teaching styles. I would also wonder what the point of learning about a bunch of dead people was rather than things in the here and now!

Yes, I had a very juvenile opinion! I have grown up a lot since then and fully appreciate that our rich history has influenced so much of every day life and wish I had paid a little bit more attention in class. There are so many holes in my knowledge of the past now but over time I hope to fill in some of the gaps!

Almost ten years ago, knowing my love of reading a friend of mine suggested a book that she had just finished. 'The Other Boleyn Girl' by Philippa Gregory.

My instant reaction was ... great, an historical novel ... right up my street ... NOT!!!! But after a little bit of persuasion I promised I'd give it a go and honestly, I couldn't put it down. While it's only loosely based on fact, it gives a little window into Tudor life, through one persons, well-written interpretation of a short period of Henry VIII's reign and personal life. It had me wanting to know more and sifting through what was true and what wasn't. It intrigued me to know a lot more about history in general! Shocking!

I always have several books on the go and a list of those I would like to read (did I mention I love books?!!!), so it's extremely unusual for me to read a book twice but this is one of the few. It was because the movie was released and I'm definitely in the 'books are better than movies' category of people the majority of the time, so wanted to get the written story straight in my head before watching it. This was no exception at all ... I was SO disappointed by the movie but that's another story!

I've read some of Philippa Gregory's other Tudor based novels, some good, some I could have passed on but this one remains a definite favourite. At the moment I'm in the midst of reading a lot more informational type books than normal about things like parenting, blogging, God, mission etc ... maybe in the midst of them all I should crack open a guaranteed favourite for a third reading? Who knows?!!!

Wednesday, June 20

Going 'Home'!

Yesterday we got some news as a family that we had been waiting for, for several months now (see NEWSFLASH!). As we're nearing the end of our time here in the States and Mark has almost completed his training with MMS Aviation, the next step for us is to find out just where God has for us to serve as an MAF family.

The email arrived yesterday lunchtime with the Subject Title 'Dodoma It Is' ... and our reaction was ... 'WOW, we're going to Tanzania'!

For me, it's even more exciting. My own mission experience started with a 3 week trip to Iringa, Tanzania in 1997 where I fell in love with the country ... and then I had two years teaching in Dodoma from 1999-2001. I knew that there was a strong possibility that we could spend some time working there when we applied to MAF but I didn't want to 'count my chickens before they were hatched' ... and now it's all been confirmed!

My reaction yesterday was just to repeat 'Oh my goodness, oh my goodness' over and over again! I knew when I left Dodoma in the summer of 2001 that I would like to return someday somehow, even if it was just for a visit. Then when I met Mark I also wanted to be able to show him that part of my life 'one day'. So for us to be based there for our first term with MAF is like a dream come true for me and I still can't quite believe it!

All my ex-pat friends have since moved on, although I have remained in touch with many of them. (Several have been in touch in the last 24 hours and told me they want to come and visit when we're settled ... as they want to go down memory lane and bring their families too!) I have also kept in touch with some of my Tanzanian friends and am so excited that I will get to see them all again! I'd better brush up on my Swahili!!!

I know that a lot will have changed in the last 13 years ... for example I see that there is now an Italian restaurant with crazy golf in town, yes, really ... and I'm not naive enough to think that it will all be the same. Just the chance to return to somewhere that has a special place in my heart, live there again and make new memories with my family means so much to me.

One friend who taught with me out there, sent me a message today saying 'You are going home!' ... I guess in some ways that is exactly what is going to happen ... I'll just be living on a different side of town this time!! Bring it on!!

Tuesday, June 19

The Resolution

Yesterday at church a small group of the husbands/fathers stood together in front of their families and the rest of the congregation and made and signed a resolution. A 'stake in the ground' in their lives and the lives of their families. 

Together they had watched the Courageous Movie and over 6 weeks done the Bible study course that goes alongside it. Culminating in standing up and making the Resolution below.

I DO solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.
I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.
I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.
I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.
I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.
I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.
I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.
I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. ---Joshua 24:15
It is a huge undertaking for anyone to commit to all this. The implications of it, hit you even more when you have watched the movie, which we did last week. (Tissue-fest alert! It's a really good Christian movie but very powerful and emotional ... and a box of tissues is definitely a mandatory requirement!) I have always been a Christian movie cynic putting them in the 'American' and 'Cheesy' category ... so it almost pains me to recommend it!

Why were we so interested in this in our house? My husband was one of the guys in the group who made that commitment. Each man took a few minutes to present their signed Resolutions to their families on the stage ... and there wasn't a dry eye around. I'm so proud of him for standing up for everything in the Resolution and recommitting to God, me and our girls to be all those things. Yet again I consider myself to be a very lucky girl to have married him!

Friday, June 15

Spelling Bee

It has always intrigued me why spelling competitions in America are called 'Spelling Bees' or that quilters can have a 'Quilting Bee'. Buzz buzz, is what I say! Even after living here for three years, it's still one of those expressions that I have trouble getting used to! 

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it ...
Historically the word bee has been used to describe a get-together where a specific action is being carried out, like a husking bee, a quilting bee, or an apple bee. Its etymology is unclear but possibly derived from the Old English word bēn for prayer.
The Free Dictionary defines a 'bee' as ...
A social gathering where people combine work, competition, and amusement: a quilting bee

Abigail has always shown an interest in letters and words since she was very little! Whether it be saying them, writing them or reading them!! Just after she turned two, she was obsessed with writing her letters over and over again (see below!) So we have various wipe clean options in our house as otherwise we'd be getting through way too many letters books! I even bought one comprehensive work book, cut out all the pages and laminated them all so they're wipe clean and she can do them as many times as she wants to!

Over the last couple of weeks one of her newest favourite pastimes (sometimes I can't keep up with what's the latest thing!!) is spelling out words! With no particular encouragement from us initially she just started asking questions about how things were spelt. Now it becomes a game. We take turns, she asks me one and then I ask her and nine times out of ten, she's spot on, slowly sounding out each word and working out the letters! Initially I was only asking her 3 letter words but now we've progressed to 4 letter ones (yes, ha ha ... only appropriate ones!) and I have to say I'm really surprised at how well she's doing!

Abigail loves the word STOP right now, especially as she can see it on all the street signs. POOP is the one that amuses her the most at the moment ... I can't see that changing for a while either! She get's really excited when she sees the word GOD in something and spots it straight away in a piece of writing, which amuses me! Her favourite word to spell is ABIGAIL ... and if she's signing her name in a card won't let us help her with it anymore with 'No ... I can do it all by myself'!

Is she a nerd? I don't think so!! I'm just loving (and trying to make the most of) all the learning opportunities that are coming our way right now ... which she initiates and thinks is a game and SO MUCH FUN!!

Wednesday, June 13

Evaluation Time

Just over three years ago (March 2009) we travelled out from the UK to Ohio for a week to visit MMS Aviation, as the final part of our assessment and evaluation in the MAF UK application process. We had already been through various rounds of interviews to get to that point, this was the final hurdle. It's not an easy process to become a missionary and believe it or not, we know friends that have had even more complicated applications than ours! (As you can see, Abigail has grown up a lot since then ... she was just 6 months old at the time!)

So much has happened since then. We moved out here 6 months later (September 2009) after raising our support, settled in small town America, added to the family with the arrival of Naomi, taken various trip through and to different States and now are beginning to look ahead. Mark's 4,800 hours in the hangar are almost completed (I'm so proud of him!) and then only the imminent round of exams, before we start preparing to pack up and move again ... to only God knows where!

It's amazing to look back and see how much has changed since the evaluation and to remember that week. Being 'on show' and being evaluated by everyone that you meet with day time and evening appointments, after travelling to the States with a young baby and adjusting to the 5 hour time change! Knowing that you are exactly where God wants you to be and just hoping that everyone else is on the same page!

Why am I remembering all that today? Since we've been here there have been various other families come through for evaluation, some have continued with the application process and are in the support raising stage, some are already here and other decided that actually MMS wasn't the next step that God had for them. This week another family are here and today the apprentice wives and children had the pleasure of hosting a lunch for the wife and two kids of the prospective candidate. A chance to find out more about them and for them to ask us what life is really like here.

It was a time of fun and laughter and making new friends, an excuse to eat some yummy food together (including the Lemon Cheesecake that I mentioned the other week) ... and possibly the start of an exciting journey for another family just like ours.

Monday, June 11

My Favourite Things ...

Over the last week or so I've decided that my favourite sound has changed. Where I once may have responded 'the ocean crashing against the shore' and I still LOVE that sound, it is now officially the sound of my daughters giggling as they play together! It puts the biggest grin on my face and the warmest glow in my heart to hear them ... and what's more, it happens every single day! The photo below, taken a few months ago, illustrates the point perfectly!

When Naomi was little and a lot less mobile, Abigail literally used to roll her across the living floor and then pair of them would get the hiccups from giggling too much. (Is that a common side effect or just my two munchkins?!). Now as well as still rolling around tickling each other, Abigail sometimes charges up and down the house and Naomi, the minute she sees her big sister coming, turns and ducks ... or just collapses on the ground where she's standing in a fit of giggles! Too cute!

Thinking of my favourite sounds also made me think of my favourite smells. Freshly cut grass, the seaside, imminent rain when it's been dry for a while (especially in Africa!), and freshly baked bread. Just thinking of the smells right now is making me smile as I imagine them! Smells and sounds have a clever way of arousing the senses and bringing back memories at the same time ... powerful and sometimes totally unexpected! I love how our brain's work like that. What gets your senses buzzing?

When we moved to the States, I realised a very little dream of mine ... to own a bread making machine! How middle-aged does that sound?!! Often when we head off to church on a Sunday morning, we set the break maker (Abigail loves to help!), so that when we get home the house is filled with a totally delicious aroma of freshly baked bread which we then devour! So, in honour of one of my favourite smells, here's the basic bread recipe that we use ... and it's delicious!
  • 5 cups unbleached white flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 oz fresh yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 4 tbsp warm milk
  1. Stick it all in the bread maker and enjoy a few hours later!! SIMPLE!
(I did discover that if I layer the ingredients, liquids and yeast first, then flour, then salt it seems to turn out better!!) Enjoy!

Friday, June 8

Hot Air

This weekend is the annual Coshocton Hot Air Balloon Festival, our third and final one while we live here. It is a real highlight for me, I love hot air balloons and one day I would love to ride in one, maybe even on safari in Africa or something! 

An added bonus for us, living close to the Fairground, is during the launches, the balloons literally fly right over our house, low enough that you can even sometimes hear the people talking in the baskets! Very cool!

As well as riding in a Hot Air Balloon, there are a few other things on my Bucket List. (According to the Urban Dictionary a 'bucket list' is a list of things to do before you die, from the term 'kicked the bucket'!). In our house we often talk about fun things we'd like to do ... but have never written them down anywhere. So, in my recent discovery of the wonders of Pinterest, I have started keeping a record for us to refer to over the years. (To view my ongoing list, click here.)

I would love to one day write a book but don't know what it would be about. I would love to run in the London marathon but right now, couldn't even run around the block. I would love to go the Olympics but will have to wait at least another four years for that, as we have no plans to go this summer. As you can see some of my dreams will require a lot of preparation and/or hard work on my part but it's nice to have a list like that around with more specific things to work towards 'one day'!

About 10 years ago I found an old notebook of mine that as a teenager I'd written a similar list in. I had totally forgotten all about it but as I slowly read down the list I noticed that without realising, I had actually been working my way through the items. Since I'd written it, I had swum with dolphins, I had done a parachute jump, I had scuba-dived ... amongst other things. I wish I still had a copy of it now so I could see how many more things, 10 years later, I am able to tick off.

I appreciate that some of the items on my bucket list may never be achieved and might be just be considered 'hot air' but I don't think any of them are completely unrealistic (so far anyway!) In the day-to-day routine of mummy-dom though, it's nice to have the possibility of things that are a little more out of the ordinary being somewhere on the horizon!

It just leaves me to ask ... What's on your bucket list?

Thursday, June 7


Young children and sleeping-in are definitely mutually exclusive events, at least on a regular basis anyway! Parents of babies and toddlers will sympathise ... and I can already hear those of you with older children saying 'Just you wait, it won't be long until you struggle to get your girls out of bed in the morning'!

Abigail has gone through stages of sleeping in til 8am and this will last for a month or two and then it will be 6.15am for a couple of months and then 7.30am. With no rhyme nor reason for the changes or for the length of time that hour will stick. On weekdays, both Mark and I are up at 6am and so it's not really a bother when they wake up, as long as it's not before the alarm goes off ... but at the weekend we hope for something of the later variety!

Naomi's sleep has been so totally random and unlike her sister's, that still, 13 months into her life, we have very little clue from minute to minute what her sleep patterns are going to be, day or night; let alone whether we'll be treated to a lie-in when the opportunity arises! With a lot less sleep during the night-time hours for her and subsequently us, it isn't unusual for either me or Mark to fall asleep on the sofa cuddling her.

One morning last week, Abigail didn't crawl out of bed until almost 9am. I have to admit, I did peek in once or twice just to check that I could see the rise and fall of her breathing as it was so out of the ordinary! Then yesterday, Naomi didn't call out or wake up until 8.20am. That really was a surprise and a shame they couldn't both synchronise ... and for it not to have been the weekend (while I'm putting in my preferences!). I know, I know, in time!

Having said that, this past weekend I did get a little taste of what is to come. On Saturday, my birthday, I woke up naturally, before the rest of the household, for the first time in forever. It was 6.30am but it was lovely just to lay peacefully in bed for a short while, without the demands of one, two or three other family members! In fact, as the rest of them gradually woke up, we all hung out in bed together being goofy and enjoyed opening my birthday cards and pressies (Abigail & Naomi were very enthusiastic helpers!) before finally getting up.

On Sunday, I woke up naturally again (at the same early hour). Wow, two mornings in a row! Even though Naomi didn't sleep in much later, she soon zonked out again when I brought her in to lay by me and I enjoyed another hour or so just dozing and reading. It really was an absolute treat, the perfect way (for me anyway!) to start the day. I'm just really hoping that this will change from being the exception to the rule rather than an unexpected pleasure ... and then I will need to work on waking up naturally at a later hour too!

Tuesday, June 5

Bumbling Mondays!

I don't about you but Monday's are my catch-up days. After the busyness of the weekend and with a whole week stretched out ahead, I try not to schedule too much on a Monday (it doesn't always work out ... but in an ideal world!). It gives me a chance to sort out anything that got put aside over the previous couple of days and get organised with the priorities for the coming week.

The girls seems to appreciate the down-time too. We tend to be out doing things a lot on Saturday's and Sunday's and there are invariably a couple of later nights to bed, so the slower pace that I try to keep for a Monday works well all round. As I'm bumbling around getting things sorted they're bumbling around too, playing and giggling together or getting on in their own little worlds!

While I was washing up earlier, right after lunch, I was reflecting on all I'd got done so far (including the usual); getting breakfast, changing and dressing the girls, putting on the washing, giving the girls snacks, playing, changing again, sorting through stuff for a yard sale, catching up with some important emails that really should have been replied to earlier ... amongst other things! 

As I was clearing the drying rack from the night before and feeling pretty good about all my achievements so far, I noticed that there were three of Naomi's milk bottles clean and dry, ready to be put away. Why was that so significant? We only have three bottles on the go ... and if they were all washed up from the night before ... it would seem that the mummy who felt she was nicely on top of everything at the beginning of the week, had totally omitted to give her daughter her milk this morning ... and my little bubble burst! Apparently she wasn't bothered about it at all, thank goodness!

In an effort to keep up-to-date with things here at the beginning of this week, I also thought I'd give you an update of a few things that I've mentioned over the last few months.
  • There have been more Birthday Cake Creations including Naomi's 1st Birthday 'Hello Kitty' one, in April this year.
  • I haven't completed any more quilting projects yet but am slowly stocking up on materials and ideas ready for when we move on and have less access to the gorgeous things and hopefully I'll have a bit more time too!
  • The teething continues from time to time, Naomi now has 10 teeth ... so we're halfway there! It doesn't get any more pleasant though!
  • The scarf I started knitting for Naomi the week before Christmas is still a work in progress ... he he ... it's almost done and will be great for next winter!
  • I have now tried a PBJ sandwich and actually quite enjoyed it (I surprised even myself!) In an update from that same blog post, Naomi joins the rest of her family in being a Marmite lover ... it was inevitable really!!
  • Reading books continues to be a big thing for all the family too!

Last Friday I made myself a birthday cake. I never actually got round to icing it. So, this afternoon in my attempt to get myself up-to-date with things on a 'Bumbling Monday' and after I'd burst my own bubble, I decided that my first priority would be to ice my cake. Eating it made me feel a little bit better and it tasted delicious even if it was a few days late!!

Saturday, June 2

The Jubilympics

'The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics. Combine the two and you get Jubilympics'
I first heard this expression last week and it made me laugh a lot. Having lived in the States for three years it now sounds very American to me to combine two words like that ... but fun too!

This weekend in the UK there will be a double bank holiday (Monday and Tuesday) and lots of celebrations for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, 60 years on the throne. I was a Jubilee baby, born on the Queens Silver Jubilee, June 2nd 1977 ... but the fact that my birthday falls tomorrow and we currently live in America means that I won't get to enjoy the long weekend my friends at home will.

Although we're in Ohio, in honour of the Jubilee, Abigail and I made Union Jack bunting today, out of Brit napkins someone had sent us and sparkly silver ribbon! (I would have included a photo of it but blogger isn't allowing me to add any for some reason even though I've only used a fraction of my storage space ... very frustrating! If that changes, I will change the photo!) Abigail wanted to put decorations up for my birthday but I told her that we would put some up for the Queen instead which she thought was great idea and then later asked 'Who's the Queen?'!!

Brits aren't often all that patriotic but this summer, I've no doubt that they will be going all out and in many ways I'm sorry we won't be there to join in. One thing on my 'Bucket List' is to go to the Olympic Games ... and to have them being hosted in my home town is a once in the lifetime event which I am really gutted to miss. Yes, I'm excited for all the opportunities we've had as a family to travel etc and do amazing stuff all over the world but I can't help feeling like we've had to sacrifice a little bit of our home culture by living in small town America over the summer of 2012.

If you're a Brit reading this ... enjoy your long weekend. I'll be thinking of you and following some of the Jubilee coverage on the tv and internet instead!