Run for it! What a crazy week! My stars we are tired tonight.
The week started off in a hurry. First thing Monday morning, I went for a run. I felt I’d rested up long enough and it was time to get moving. All of our sleep patterns finally are getting back to normal, except for Tom. Which is normal for Tom.
When I dropped Lavinia off at Preschool, I discovered that OFSTED was in for another inspection. I am on the board of parents to help with the school. When I went back to pick her up, I thought I’d completed my DBS paperwork (for a background check) to continue on the board. I thought nothing more was needed but instead I found out I also should have filed an EY2 form. I hurried and finished it shortly after picking Lavinia up from school. But I still felt really bad that I did not know how to complete the process. Details like this that everyone else already understands is what makes living in a new culture hard.
Family Home Evening Saves the Day
We finished off the day with mild success, though, by learning about Martin Luther King in family home evening. Then we made jam tarts and ate them together. Maxwell’s had his heart set on making them for a long time because the recipe comes from his Mike the Knight book. The recipe says to roll out shortcrust pastry dough, cut it in a circle, put it in a muffin pan or tart pan, and spoon in some jam.
Unofficial Tuesday Business
Tuesday after morning school run, I came home and did yoga for an hour. Its just a beginning yoga series from a Gaiam app on my phone. But I sure appreciated the stretching after running the morning before! I also picked up Amia after school because net ball club finished early. Another thing taking my time this week was figuring out Dutch visas and work permits, along with building a ground work for our family to learn Dutch. And we’ve worked hard with Allowances and Chores Bot to keep on top of our house work. The kids loved Tuesday because it did not have the massive laundry chores of Monday.
Tuesday evening, our lady called to tell me that her dog I walk was getting her monthly hair trim the next day. So I would not be able to walk the dog Wednesday. I volunteered as a dog walker with the Cinnamon Trust so that I could get some time with animals. Being renters and temporary here, we cannot get any pets. Lavinia would have all the pets.
And on to Crazy Wednesday
So to Wednesday. First thing, I went for another run. The sky was just over half clear and the ground was frozen. There was an aeroplane passing just beneath the moon with a sky trail following and bright stars out. To the north and my right, I could see a mass of clouds moving in. The run was cold but brilliant- and invigorating.
Tyrus had his appointment with the asthma nurse right after school run. She noticed he did not have a flu shot yet this season, so Tyrus got a shot before we gave him a Chupa Chup lolly and sent him to school. Here in England, flu shots are reserved for the very old and the very young. The small children are vaccinated at school with parents permission. And those with compromised immune systems and asthma can also receive the flu shot.
After Tyrus’s appointment, there was a preschool PTA meeting. To be honest, I do not fully understand how the board works or what OFSTED is looking for, but I went to the meeting anyway. I do know our Lavinia absolutely loves preschool. I love seeing her play and make friends. If ever there was a sunbeam!
Capped off with a stunningly beautiful sunset & a boiler
Anyway, after school there was the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. It was just like God wanted to say “By the way, I know you. And I love you. Enjoy.” As I was standing out in the cold taking pictures, our new next door neighbour came out and we had a bit of a chat. He asked me if we had been doing anything mechanical that afternoon around noon in the kitchen. I said no, and I wondered what that could have been.
Turns out it was the boiler. The boiler heats the hot water for the house and the radiators. If the boiler goes out, there is no heat and no hot water. Tom called the landlords, and they had the plumber on the line with Tom very quickly. Apparently the pressure had dropped too low and all Tom had to do was to pour some water into the system. This fix can only be done once, though, before the plumber needs to come out and check things. In all, our brush with the boiler was short.
Things Go Bump on Thursday
Thursday I woke tired. All the running and yoga was taking it out of me slowly. My new iPhone 7 tracks my steps, too, and some days I walk between 5 and 7 miles. Wednesday had been one of those long days. So I got started slow and told myself I’d do yoga after the school run (and before a shower). But after I dropped everybody off I was so tired, I lay on the couch for a nap. It was a short nap. Presently the junior school called, and told me that Tyrus had collided with another student during break. He’d fallen onto his back with the momentum, and he’d cracked his head on the tarmac. The school said the bleeding had stopped, but he was feeling light headed and could I please come get him?
I felt all super woman telling her that I now had my driving licence and would be by shortly to pick him up in my van. Yes I may have used those exact words. I texted Tom and picked up a sore and bruised boy. And whilst I did have to forgo yoga and a shower, we got to watch Fixer Upper together and eat lunch together. He’s such a nice boy and my heart melts a little bit each time he says I love you mom.
But with a stiff upper lip (and paracetamol), we keep calm and run on
Tom came home at lunch, too, to check on Tyrus and to give him a priesthood blessing. Tyrus spent a very happy afternoon quietly playing with Lego whilst I sawed wood and Lavinia napped. But that evening we all needed to go to the church. Tom had meetings and Amia and I were attending New Beginnings. We loaded everybody up, gave the three little kids kindles, and got it done. If I had not felt comfortable with how Tyrus was feeling, we’d have stayed home. But the bleeding from his head? It was a small scratch. I. feel. so. blessed. that such a hit with so much momentum was not worse. Wow.
I Run Into a Mystical Morning Moment
We also sent him back to school on Friday. Because he really, really needed to go back. And I needed to go grocery shopping. First thing, though, I ran. It was a hard frost. On my last loop, I ran to the edge of Mill Lane where it turns in to dirt road and turned back. Whilst there, I met my favourite dog walker. I don’t know his name, but he’s an old man who lives in our village and walks two beautiful old black and white dogs. He’s consistently out when I am out, too. He’s the dog walker I met when I saw the hedgehog.
Anyway, we talked briefly and I mentioned that I wasn’t running the Mill Lane loop this time of year because even though I had a head lamp, I knew the road would be muddy and I was likely to twist my ankle. He looked at me and he said “You don’t miss much, do you?” I only hope I’m as observant as he thinks I am. But that statement really stuck with me. A lot of what I do here is observe people and culture.
And the Grocery Shop (where I look like I’m buying out the store to my British neighbours)
After my run, and the morning run, I drove to Aldi for the grocery shop. I always look like I’m preparing for a siege when I come out of there! But I felt proud of myself for getting the shopping done. Then I also put the food away before heading out to get Lavinia from school. After school for everybody, I’d promised the kids they could help me make blueberry muffins to go with our Fish Friday meal. I was pretty tired (see exercise above) and my feelings bordered on cranky, but we baked delicious muffins! We had breaded cod fillets, apple dijon kale salad, and Mom’s blueberry muffins for dinner. Then we watched a new movie of Asterix and Obelix that everybody loved before bed.
Saturday was a new kind of crazy day. In the morning, Tom made Dutch egg pancakes and I did another hour of yoga. Then we all piled in the car and drove to the other side of the county to a village outside Diss so Tyrus could go to his friend Payton’s birthday party. And Amia could stay with them so she could ride to the church for a youth activity that evening. We ate lunch before Tom and I and the two youngest drove home.
We received a letter from OFSTED requesting that I get a police report from my home country because I have not lived in the UK for five years. Its. never. done. nor. easy. Still trying to work out how that works. Meanwhile, everybody home had a nap, and then Tom and I got ready for his work’s New Year’s dinner party.
Hanging Laundry in Heels is Fun to Do
We’d been running laundry that day, and I went to check it but the dryer was flashing some kind of error code. Tom looked in to it, and yikes! The dryer had died! We rent our dryer from Hughes so they will be coming out to service it for us. But it was 5:37pm on a Saturday evening and the service centre had just closed! So Tom went to pick up Tyrus from the church and I hurried around in a dress and heels hanging laundry from every available radiator. Really, it was a bit funny. I’d been telling Tom just a few days earlier that I suspected we would not own a clothes dryer in the Netherlands and that we needed to embrace indoor line drying!
And (finally) a hot dinner date- with Scientists
We fed the children spaghetti and meatballs. Our friend Pai came to watch the kids. The Booths would bring Amia home after her activity and so we set off. Tom dressed in his suit and I dressed in my navy lace dress. Which was good because we neither overdressed nor under-dressed. At arrival, everyone was socialising and having drinks. Except for us. We don’t drink. We did try to get close enough to the bar to order some water, but it was so crowded we couldn’t get in. So we headed to the dining area and waited for dinner.
Each table was numbered, and each seat had a card with a person’s name and their order on it. Also on the tables were Christmas crackers, party poppers, and very long slim balloons. In short order the air filled with the smell of gunpowder between the Christmas crackers and the party poppers. The air also filled with slim balloons soaring around the room making a rather vulgar sound. Now keeping in mind I was dining with scientists, engineers, and their significant others- I suddenly felt like I was in a meeting for the Drone’s club. It was rather delightfully silly.
Ballistic Balloons and Eton Mess
We enjoyed three delicious courses of food (minus the overcooked bitter sprouts- you win some, you lose some). I particularly loved my dessert, called an Eton Mess. It involved meringues, berries, and whipped cream and finished off the dinner lightly. We also enjoyed talking and laughing with the people at our table. But dining out in the evening is an art, and it was well past 10 pm by the time dessert finished. We did not stay for the disco or the casino, but talked with Tom’s supervisor for a bit before heading home. All in all, it was good clean fun for us. But I did not take any pictures because I did not want to invade other’s personal space. The British love to play but they also love their privacy and I can respect that.
Sunday with our favourite dinner guests- and still no alcohol
The children did get to bed late- the youth activity went late. But we made it out the door on time this morning and all made it through church. Then we came home and made lunch for us and dinner for the missionaries. We made them homemade enchiladas and there were no leftovers. Amia mixed up a pan of snickerdoodle bars, too. And there were no leftovers. We love feeding the missionaries and doing our family scripture study with them. We feel joy when the missionaries come- even when we feel sleepy.
And that, I think, is a wrap for the night. Here is a new week and we will try this adult thing again. I think we’ll hold on head accidents, OFSTED inspections, or dead appliances though. We wish you all well from our mostly cloudy England. Here we look for the first snowdrops of Spring again, and we hold out hope for brighter days. We are also learning Dutch! Love to you all.
Have courage and be kind,
Amy and the intrepid exhausted Harper family