Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A year ago...

last minute goodbyes at the airport before we leave
In one of his sermons, Francis Chan says something to the effect of, "There is nothing like moving to remind you that this world is our temporary home."  How true that is!

A year ago we were saying goodbye to all our friends. We packed up our life into 10 boxes and suitcases and got on a plane to move to a new country. And what a year it has been.
Finding Mexican food after living in London for about a month. Dave was excited! (and cost us a fortune! one of the most expensive meals we've ever eaten)

An absolute whirlwind. Living in a hotel. Finding a house. Work trips for Dave. Buying furniture for our house. Registering at the hospital. Ultrasounds. Having a baby. Trying to figure out how to get around without a car. More work trips. Finding a church. Figuring out how to set up utilities. Waiting a month for internet. Meeting people. Feeling settled.

For those of you who have never moved internationally or even just across the country, it can be difficult, to say the least. Culture shock hit us quite unexpectedly. The first month or two we were here, it was a challenge just reading a menu, let alone figuring out where to buy a vacuum cleaner. Things that we thought should be simple like opening a bank account proved to be a challenge when you needed an address to open an account. But to rent a house, you needed a bank account.

Right around the time that Georgia was born, things got easier, only to get difficult again a couple months later. I now knew where to buy my groceries, which buses to take to go shopping, how to use a credit card, etc. But, things were so frustrating and made me mad. It is part of the culture shock. I looked it up. On Google. And Google knows everything. Anyways, everything just made me mad. Grocery checkers that sit down (and are SO slow).  People who ignore you when you walk past them on the street. Our stupid carpeting all throughout the house. White carpeting. With a baby. Not being able to watch the TV shows I like. Not having an outlet in the bathroom to plug in a hair dryer. Having to blow dry my hair without a mirror.
I just found this one and it has nothing to do with this post.  Isn't it so cute??!! Georgia is taking a nap on Christmas day.

There were many days I trudged to the grocery store, upset at our tiny fridge that makes grocery shopping a daily affair, muttering about the stupid people drinking beer at 11am sitting outside at the pub in the cold, rainy weather (even though it was May), or the stupid youths that walk slowly across the entire width of the sidewalk completely oblivious that you - the lady with the baby - are trying to walk around them, the stupid cars that don't stop for people crossing the street and the stupid groceries that were so dang expensive.

I tried not to complain a lot. I knew the things I was upset about were unreasonable and it was part of moving to a new place. Things are different here. Much more than I would have ever guessed. And then one day, it was gone. It was right after our trip to the US in July. Before we left we were homesick. Very much so. Missing the food, and the people, the nice weather.
Georgia with some church friends over the weekend.

And something changed. I'm not sure what it was. I think it was time. We arrived back in the UK in the beginning of August.  It felt like home.
Hannah and Dot, some friends from church

There are still days which are rough. Certain situations you encounter that are unfamiliar. Days when you want some Taco Bell. Haha. I don't think I will ever say that I like the weather. And I will probably complain about the food here a little more. Sorry - just being honest. But overall, this is our home. Friendships have grown. We have gotten involved in our church and community. We are trying to serve and love. We are home.

10 months old!

Not quite 10 months old here, but the most recent picture I have

As we are coming up on her first year birthday, I see the toddler side of Georgia creeping out. Okay... its basically burst forth! She is taking many steps (but still prefers crawling for getting around), she is very interactive and mimics noises and sounds we make. She roars when wrestling with Dave and sings with me when I sing. She climbs the stairs at an amazing speed and knows (probably even more than I think) what I am saying. She even has begun to say a couple of words. See??? She's not a baby anymore!

She went through a phase of putting things in her mouth. 

Weight: right around 20 pounds
teeth count: 8 (almost 9)
clothing: mostly 12 month stuff. I've put almost everything else away. 

Looking at birds outside while eating blackberries

She is extremely active. I have nothing to compare her to, so I assume she is normal. She loves playing with toys. We try to get out of the house at least once a day, whether it is to the park or the library so that she has a change of scenery and can play with new toys or see new people.

at the park

Sleep: She is taking 2 naps a day, the first around 10 and the second around 1 or 2. She goes to bed around 7:30 and sleeps until 8 or so, waking 2-3 times to eat during the night. 

Georgia is very familiar with Skype. She's laughing at Daddy, while he was in Tanzania. 

Food: This is still something I need to figure out. Some days Georgia nurses extremely well, and other days she doesn't. I should probably put her on a more ridged schedule to see if that helps, but right now she nurses when she's grumpy - normally 2 or 3 times during the day, and 2 or 3 times at night and eats at meal times. I often give her a snack in the afternoons because she seems to need it. 

She still loves animals. She can now say "do" which is dog and "bi" which is bird. She has only done these a couple of times, but I'm pretty sure that's what she's trying to say. Our daily activities include looking for animals (out the window or on our walks).

She of course can say da-da and she says it all the time! Dave is absolutely in love with that ;-)

She is starting to use her hands more. She can wave goodbye and hello, and when you tell her to dance, she waves both hands in the air. We've only done a couple sign language signs, but she can sign "milk" (and oddly enough does it all the time, whether she wants it, or not!) and has just started signing "all done" at the end of the meal (but only after I do it first).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

California, Part 2

Kyle, Devany & Kyanne came to visit us
Seeing that it is September, I should hurry and get this post out before it is even more outdated! During our week in California, we got to see so many wonderful people! Like I said previously, we had a party for all the Wallace clan, and it was so good to see them and to have all the great-grandchildren together.
Georgia's first time at the beach - she loved it!

Dave and Georgia and I went to our small group, at Paul's house (congrats for being a new home-owner!) From Sunday through Friday, we stayed down at Newport Beach and it was amazing! The weather was perfect and it was so relaxing. Here's some pictures from the week at the beach house.

Georgia helped Grandpa shave...

Georgia helping Matt win his game
We had a lot of great family time, relaxing and enjoying the sun and surf. Dave and I think that the beach is one of our favorite places on earth, so it was great to be able to spend a week there (and with family, too!).
Practicing their parenting skills ;-) This could be them in a year or two! (and yes, Georgia would love having cousins!!)
Aunt Linda and Uncle Craig came to visit one evening!
I had a lot of time to take photos (lots, and lots of photos!)

It was fun to see our first baby - French Fry! Georgia just loved her, too. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Brits and their food

Around this time of year when the weather gets colder, I like to start baking. Well, I like baking all throughout the year, but during fall especially. Pies, muffins, cakes all seem to taste better when its cold outside. Plus the hot oven seems to warm the whole house with the smell of wonderfulness wafting through. As we are coming up on our one year anniversary of living in London, I'm getting frustrated (again) with British food (and supermarkets!). Specialty items I cook with such as Karo syrup, molassas syrup, velveeta cheese and pumpkin pie filling is very difficult to come by. I have eventually figured out where to buy most things - thanks to a Whole Foods (about 1 hour away), Amazon.uk and suitcases filled with goodies from home!
Here are some other odd food related observations coming from an American.

  • Hamburgers are eaten plain. Sometimes with cheese. And maybe mayonnaise or ketchup. But you won't find the bacon and avocado with lettuce, cheese and tomato burger here. Sad. No wonder people don't eat them very often! 
  • Also, hamburgers are made by mixing ground beef (or whatever meat you use) with bread crumbs. This only creates a dry burger. And one impossible for a gluten-intolerant person to eat. 
  • If you were to tell a friend, "I will bring a pie for dinner tonight", it means that you're bringing the main course. It can either be a pie crust with a meat filling on the inside, or a meat (usually seafood) casserole with mashed potatoes and cheese on the top, broiled until brown. 
  • For those Brits who read this blog -a  pie in America is a dessert - apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie and so on. Unless you specify Chicken Pot Pie, which is the only pie that is for dinner. Mmmmm. Pie. 
  • I have been so frustrated with buying fruit here. Lately, the day after I buy it, I will find parts of it going moldy. I know food here is supposed to be bought fresh and eaten soon after buying, but sometimes I don't get through all 4 peaches in one day. Shocking! I would really appreciate if it stayed mold-free for more than a day or two. 
  • In all honesty, pub food is no good. Every pub has practically the same menu, and it includes fish and chips, pasta, sausage and mashed potatoes, ham and eggs. Its really depressing going out to eat for me. You know that nothing is going to "wow' you. The one thing that Brits do well is Indian food. They do make a really good curry. 
  • British beef is also not good. Whenever possible, we buy Scottish. According to the CEO's wife (of Dave's company), the reason for this is that British cows are unhappy. This is just applied when we go out to eat (if ordering a steak, get a USDA or Scottish one) or when at the grocery store. 
  • When people eat things with whipped cream, like strawberries, the cream they use is not sweetened. They use a whipping cream or double cream, but add no (or very little) sugar to it. Why not show sugar some love? 
  • Words like tortillas and jalapenos are pronounced phoenetically... aka tortillas sounds like "tor-til-as" rather than "tor-tee-yas" and jalapenos are pronounced with an "n" rather than an " ". Paella is prounounced pie-el-a. 
I don't mean to come across too negatively, but it has been hard to get used to food here! We went from  eating out often (and for cheaply) to eating out (or getting take-out) maybe once a week. I get exhausted from menu planning, finding substitutes for the recipes I have, making sure the recipe is gluten-intolerant-friendly, walking to the grocery store daily, and doing dishes all.the.time. Seriously. Cooking would be so much more fun if I didn't have to clean up afterwards! Someday we will have a house with a dishwasher. someday. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Georgia walking

here's a video from today! She is very controlled on her feet, but still prefers crawling for getting around