Saturday, October 30, 2010

Ticking Time Bomb...

is exactly how I feel. Being a bit past 36 weeks pregnant, I know that our little girl could decide to come any day. Most likely it still won’t happen for a bit, but I want to be prepared for it, so I have been cleaning and organizing and sorting like a crazy lady. Actually, it is really crazy for me, because I don’t usually have this much of an urge to clean!

Another reason I want to be ready is because I *think* that she will decide to come early. I have an arcuate uterus (sorry if this is TMI), but basically, my uterus is heart-shaped. Because its shaped differently than a normal uterus, my little girl is basically running out of room. She has started measuring small, and I would guess that its because there’s no more room (or at least less room) for her to grow in there. In the last few weeks, I have been measuring small. The doctors here were a bit concerned (at one point I was measuring 4 weeks behind!) so they ordered an ultrasound. She was looking just fine, and happy in there, kicking away! She was a little on the small side, but within “normal” range. My doctor back in the US made a guess that she would “run out of room” when I was close to 34 weeks and would probably deliver early.

I hope I’m not jinxing myself by thinking that our little one will be arriving early. She’ll probably come late, just because I’m writing this post now :-) But, that doesn’t change the fact that I feel like a ticking time bomb. I know there’s only a small chance that she’ll come today. But there’s a bigger chance that she’ll come tomorrow, and an even bigger chance she’ll come the day after that. Every day she doesn’t come, the likelihood that she’ll come the next day rises.

I’ve been able to keep very busy nesting. I have an irresistible urge to make sure everything is ready. I have been shopping as much as I can - mostly for household goods such as storage bins, light bulbs and stuff thats not quite as “fun” and also for groceries. We don’t have a car, so I hop on the bus which literally stops 100 feet from our front door and take it to whatever store I need to go to. I don’t have much energy anymore, so I will usually just do one or two trips a day.

The rest of the day I spend cleaning the house, arguing with the washing machine (and I’m still loosing, I’m afraid!) and washing dishes (thanks to no dishwasher). We have Ikea memorized, like the back of our hands - taking an average of 2 trips a week there, and have spent our life savings, I’m afraid. Dave is now an expert at putting together their products. And slowly, our house is starting to feel more like a home.


p.s. sorry for the delay in posts. If I haven't mentioned, we have no Internet in our house until Nov. 11th, so it'll be a few more weeks.... sorry!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Random thoughts

This is an awesome TV show. Even for a woman to watch (or me, if I count as a "woman"). They are totally funny and do some awesome stunts. We've watched them jump a mini off a ski jump, and play "soccer" using their cars. 


Ketchup here tastes funny. It can seriously ruin a meal when you think your fries will be good, but then are in-edible because of the stuff they call ketchup. The good news is that you can buy American ketchup in the grocery store :-)


The people who created the roads here must've been drunk when they did it. Seriously. Try going to one of the major stores (Tescos) around here, and there is only ONE entrance (even though its in a major intersection) and you can only enter coming from one direction. So, woe to you if you live south of the store and have to drive to get there.... add another 10 minutes onto your commute just to do a u-turn in the middle of the crazy traffic!


Another point about roads is that NONE of them go straight... heavens forbid they make it easy to get from point A to point B!


Customer service is excellent. Everyone you talk to is very lovely and polite. But that's only if you're okay waiting forever for anything! For example, we called to set up Internet service. Next available date is Nov. 11th. Seriously?! We're going to be without Internet for almost a month!


Americans have perfected many things. I never realized how wonderful things were like fridges that were full-size and that dispense water and ice at the touch of a button. Freezers that don't have frost coating the inside of if (even if its considered frost-free freezer!) Also, how about a washer that is easy to understand and takes less than 2 hours to complete one cycle (and that's just washing... no drying included in that 2 hours!)


Monday, October 18, 2010

Difficulties in Purchasing items

A few days ago Dave asked me something simple - could I please pick him up some Dayquil? He had a slight cold and wanted to take some medicine. Simple, right? well.....

I walk down to Boots. Find the pharmacy department. After a quick scan of the medicines, none of the brands are the same. Lemsip, Nurofen, Medised, Tixylix and Benilyn. Nope. Don't know any of those. Hmm.... okay.... start looking at the labels. Some of the medicines I've heard of - caffeine, aspirin. Those are good things to start with. But then it ends. Paracetamol, and other unknown substances make up their medicines.

 I figure I'll ask the lady behind the desk. First I try asking her about Dayquil - a simple cold medicine. She has no clue what I'm talking about. But I thought that might be the case. So I try acetaminophen. She looks even more confused! Seriously?!  She tells me she hasn't heard of that before, and doesn't know what it is. How does she not know what acetaminophen is?!

So, I resort to asking her to take several different medicines off the shelves and try to study them to see what is in them. The poor lady thought I was nuts. I kept getting the eye from her. She probably thought I would run off with all the pills and make meth or something like that :-)

I finally picked some out that looked like they might be promising. I asked to purchase them. She told me no - I could only buy one or two of them, but not all three. I had to settle for two of them. For future reference, I got the Benilyn and Nurofn. I think Dave liked the Benilyn.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pregnancy update

God has been so good to me!

Since arriving in England, I have been feeling WONDERFUL! 
Really. I don't know why that is. 
Maybe the fact that I walk everywhere? I'm definitely getting more exercise. 

I have been getting more and more tired, but still have all the energy I need to do what needs to be done. 
I just walk a little slower going places :-)

This picture was taken a day or two ago, so a little before 34 weeks. 

The way the system in England works is that you have to have an address before you find a doctor - everything depends on where you live. So, once we got our lease papers, I took them to the GP Surgery (just their name for Dr.'s office). It is literally one block away from our house. It would take longer to drive there than to walk.

Anyways, they have been pretty helpful with getting everything done. I am now registered at a hospital (although it took several nagging phone calls on my end) and have had a "check-up". But by "check-up" I mean the doctor handed me papers to fill out, and said to come back in a few weeks. So, I guess I'm good to go! I have to go into the hospital tomorrow to discuss payment because I am not technically covered under the NHS (since we're so new to the country). I also have an appointment with a midwife at another hospital tomorrow, I think some sort of check-up or informational meeting. 

On a funny note - can I just say that I was weighed in stones? That's how its done here :-) The nurse and I had quite a time trying to figure out how much weight I've gained and translating everything from pounds to stones. 

There is still so much to do - other than the baby items I brought with us (mostly clothes & blankets), I don't have a single baby item. Well, I did buy diapers last week because I figure I'd need those if the baby were to come soon! Like I've said before, finding baby stuff is just more difficult here because I'm not used to it. I don't know what stores carry what items, or where the best place to find "xyz" is. 

Prayer for us as we continue to navigate this journey. There is lots to do with getting the house ready and the bags packed for the hospital. We still have to figure out payment for the birth and getting reimbursed (hopefully!) from our insurance in the States. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

House Hunt

You deserve an update on the house hunt. 
Well.... ta da! 
We have a house!

And by that, I mean, we turned in paperwork and a deposit, so we *should* get a house.


Hopefully. 


I posted on f-book (yeah, I know, some of you don't check that all the time) some pictures. 

So, here are some pictures from our hopefully-house for those of you blog-followers: 

So, I learned that this little brick building (now used as storage) was originally built as a bomb shelter. Yup. Every time bombs started dropping in the area, the family would run out to the shelter. 12-inch thick walls. 

This is our one and only bathroom. But it is VERY large for bathrooms in England. A full tub (including its awesome lions-paws), shower, toilet, and sink. Plenty of room for all 3 of us to be in there, if need be.

This is the kitchen. It was just remodeled, and not quite done yet, when this photo was taken. Ikea cabinets (with the self-closing hinges), new hob and oven and new sink, and refrigerator. No dishwasher. And that funny looking thing is the hot-water heater for the house. Brand new, also!

And finally, this is Alison. She was our relocation agent. Quite a hoot. Originally from South Africa, but fully England-ified, she is quite proper but lovely as well. Full of information, and willing to help us in any way possible. We loved her!


So, if all goes according to plan, we should get the keys on Oct. 16th. We have Ikea delivering a bed and two couches on Oct. 20th. So, we should be moving in sometime around then. We still have lots of shopping to do, but unfortunately everything is very expensive here. I've been on the hunt for gently-used kitchen table and chairs and other pieces of random furniture that we will need. Also, I've been feeling the pressure to start getting baby stuff ready. We still have much, much that needs to be done! It will be wonderful once we can start getting settled. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wimbledon

This last week I was exploring the London area alone as Dave went to Azerbaijan for work. I was able to fill my week up really well with looking for properties, starting to buy baby items and getting to know the area of Wimbledon pretty well.

I've been finding that everything takes much longer than it should, just because I don't know the way its done. For example, buying laundry detergent is difficult because I don't know where in the store its found, what it looks like, or what the brand is called. And when the laundry detergent is next to the dishwashing detergent, forget it!

I'll have some more posts about the details of house hunting, but I will leave you with some pictures from Wimbledon.
This is the view from the hotel room (when you lean out the window). I have no clue what the building is, but it's pretty cool!

Just some of the beautiful leaves changing colors. 


This is an average row of houses in the Wimbledon area. 


I did take lots of other pictures - go to facebook to see them!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our first Sunday in London

I'm really behind in blogging.... wrote this a week ago! Here you go!

This past Sunday, we knew we would attend the Raynes Park Community Church since that was the church that our friends from back in California used to attend. Its a Salvation Army church in a city very near where we're staying in Wimbledon. Thanks to Facebook, some lovely people we had never met before invited us to tea and croissants before church. We had a wonderful time with them and it was really neat for us to be invited to someone's house! People have warned us that proper English people are not very warm and friendly at the beginning of relationships. Well, they haven't been to this church!

After our croissants, we walked to the church and enjoyed our time there. It is a small church with maybe 75 adults and 50 (or more!) kids. The Sunday we visited was a bit un-traditional which we were told happens once in a while. They have a gospel choir that led worship and then for the sermon, it was a group participation activity. The one thing we really loved about the church was how warm and friendly everyone was. People were very inviting and talkative. There are several young babies and other pregnant women and some other young couples, so it feels like a place we'd fit into. I think this next week we will try another church just to see what churches in the area are like.

After church, a family had invited us over for lunch. It was really a "lovely" time! The food was wonderful - and homemade - even better! (We've been eating out every single meal since we've been in this country!) We had lots of good conversation and it was just wonderful to relax and get to know them better. It really made for a perfect day. It was so nice of all these people to open their homes to us, feed us, and spend so much time with us!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It feels like....

The little wiggly-poo in my uterus is trying to scratch her way out.... yeouch!

I just bought my first packs of nappies (diapers) and wipes....

the baby will probably be sometime in the next 40 days!!!

I think nesting has set in. I also bought laundry soap today so I can start washing her clothes. I've been searching online for cots (cribs) and nursery furniture. So much to do and so little time!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Differences: Media

We've only been here a short time, and every once in a while I'll discuss some differences between the countries.

Media
Seriously now.... open up a newspaper and there will be a picture of a topless woman. Right in front of you. Awesome! (Catch the sarcasm?)

Along the same line, nudity on TV is also more acceptable. We've caught several clips of things that, in America, would be censored, but in England, they can show it. For example, there is a TV show here that shows funny YouTube videos. All of a sudden (and out of nowhere!), they were showing a gay workout video from the 70s in which all the men were naked. Like I said - I did not sign up for that one!

Swearing is also more common on TV (I've heard its after 9pm). I was watching Hells Kitchen, which, in America would be bleeped out (since they do use those words that I don't dare repeat). Well, in England, they just go ahead and let all of them fly. In fact, I think they added in a few extras.

The BBC is the broadcasting center, and was, up until a few years ago, the only programming on TV. People pay a yearly fee for TV (somewhere around 100 pounds or so) but more recently they have been also purchasing satellite. Anyways, the BBC has at least five channels. (Then there are others on our TV because we have satellite in the hotel). The funny thing is that some of the channels don't even turn on until nighttime or a certain time of the day. Anywhere from one-third to one-half of the channels on my TV, at any given time, are "closed".

Monday, October 4, 2010

First Saturday in London

Saturday was a really buys day for Dave and I. Well, actually, the whole weekend was busy.

After a quick breakfast at our hotel (that's where we eat every breakfast - thanks World Vision!), Dave's CEO, Scott picked us up. He drove us around the area so we could get a feel of what SW London is like. If you know the area, we went all the way from Wimbledon through several "commons" - like this one:
This one is Bushy Park. It looked almost exactly like this picture (including the trees changing colors!), although I found this one online. We did see several deer in this park although we saw even more in Richmond Park. 

We also went through Thames Ditton, which was founded in the 16th and 17th centuries, so it has lots of older buildings. Its a very neat place. This is what some of the buildings look like: 
Its just a quaint, beautiful place. 

Drove through Esher, Claygate, and Walton on Thames. Got lunch at an awesome pub in Cobham - an old building with 6 foot ceilings, the classic English pub. Drove through a few other cities such as Kingston, Surbiton and Weybridge. One of the things that are shocking to Dave and I is how close everything is to each other. Most of these towns sort of "merge" into each other, and their downtown areas can even be half a mile or a mile from each other. 

After we got home, we decided to have a "touristy" night and go to downtown London. We took the tube from Wimbledon to Victoria Station (about half an hour ride) and did some walking around in that part of town. We just did a quick overview (I don't have as much energy as I did a few months ago) of Westminster Abby, Big Ben and then walked past the Prime Minister's house on the way to Picadilly Square. 

So we didn't get any pictures of Westminster Abby, just Big Ben. Here it is again :-)

We then looked for a place to eat, and found a little Spanish Tapas bar in the Picadilly area. It was actually really delicious. And expensive. But that goes without saying. Here is Dave in the Tapas bar. 
It was a cute place - in the basement of a building. I think the kitchen was on the main floor. Just a cool atmosphere. Lots of the people in there were going to plays/musicals. We (well, especially Dave) were classing the place up with our clothes :-)

Sorry for the bad picture, but I didn't want to hand our camera over to some stranger on the street. This is us in Picadilly Square. 

We ended up taking the rail home. Our hotel is actually really close to downtown London... somewhere around 6 miles! It seems much longer because the tube stops so many times in-between here and there. So, taking the rail is a bit quicker. Overall, a great Saturday - although I was exhausted!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Day with Relocation Agent

Yesterday we met with a wonderful lady named Alison who is our "relocation" agent. She took us around the Wimbledon/Esher/Raynes Park/Thames Ditton area. We viewed 5 different properties and got a feel for the different cities.

It was great, except for the fact that we realized how great other parts of England are. I loved the feel of Esher/Cobham/Surbiton/Thames Ditton area. This is an area a bit more "country-ish". The houses are a bit more spaced apart, there is some room between towns, and the houses are much older. One house we looked at we really loved. It was built in the 17th century, and although its been updated, it still has the feel of an old house and has some unique molding. It has 3 large bedrooms (I think the master bedroom was larger than ours in California!), a lovely "reception room" (think living room) with dark wood floors. The kitchen was very nice and recently redone. The down side of the property is that it was in a small town (Thames Ditton) and although it seemed very friendly, we worry that there is not much to do there. We did see lots of families and little kids running around though :-) Also, the property comes unfurnished, so we would be buying furniture for a whole house. Dave likes that because we have the freedom to make it look however we would like. There is also only one bathroom. It is a nice bathroom, but still only one in the house. This property is within our price range, and seems to be the best "deal" that we looked at. It is within walking distance to the train, so we would be able to travel up to London area easily. We would probably purchase a car immediately. Here are some pictures of this place:

This is the communal garden. Pretty much the view from the front of the house. The houses on the left are also in the community. The place we looked at was a bit older than those, though, from the 17th century! 

The view from the front door. Look at the wonderful molding around and the chandelier in the ceiling. New tile floors in this room and the kitchen. 

My internet is slow, so if you want to see more pictures, visit facebook:
You'll actually have to go about halfway down in the album to see the houses. There are pictures of both places in the album.


The second place that we loved came at the last minute. We were meeting with an "estate agent' and he recommended another place that he had. More expensive (still do-able, but not much wiggle room) - around 200 pounds more a month than the first place. Yet, this is partially furnished (we would not have to buy almost any furniture!), and in the Raynes Park area. This is the area we *think we want to be near. There is a church in this area that we have heard many good things about and have some potential friends down the street. I say potential - we're meeting them on Sunday! The flat is huge! over 1400 square feet, with 4 bedrooms and an office. We might not need to purchase a car since we are close to shops and rail station. This place is currently un-occupied so we would be able to move into it ASAP (which is great for me!)
 The living room. Isn't it just so wonderful? Love the wood floors....
The bedroom downstairs. The house has many built-in closets and shelves like this. Love it!


Okay... so now that you know all the info, what would you do? Place 1 - cheap, out in the country, unfurnished, large bedroom, 17th century or Place 2 - expensive, in the city, furnished, lots of room

Let me know what you would choose and why! 


Baby update: So... we went to several General Practitioner offices yesterday to see how they would treat me. One of the offices said that I would be seen, but would have to pay out of pocket for everything - doctors visits and the hospital delivery until I have been in the country for 6 months. 
The second office said that as soon as I filled out paperwork, I would be seen. But not for my pregnancy, since it is a pre-existing condition.  So, I would have to pay out of pocket for everything pregnancy-related, but anything else would be treated under the NHS. 

We have a call in to people who know more than we do. Hopefully they can sort this out, since I'm not trying to have an anchor baby! The options are that we can get the NHS to cover everything because we have long-term visas. Second option would be that we pay out of pocket and hope that our health insurance in the US would cover it. This might get tricky since we are now "residents" of the UK. I don't know how the US insurance companies would like that. 

Well, pray for this situation! We have lots of decisions to make regarding both the house and the baby. We have limited time, which is making this even harder on us. We have temporary housing for the next month, and the baby could come anytime after that!