Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Back in England

Today we flew back from Dublin to London. Pretty much that's what we did all day. We stayed at a B&B in Portmarnock near Dublin last night. The owners were kind of eccentric & weird, not in a cute way, it was a little creepy actually, but they did serve us a decent breakfast!

This morning we returned the rental car & spent 2 hours at the airport waiting for our flight. Chad chased Asher around & I watched our luggage. I like that arrangement. Asher slept on the flight, so that was really nice not to have to fight with him to sit still. Once we got to Heathrow we had to take the Tube back to Geoff & Margaret's house. That took another 2 hours. We are finally back at their home & really looking forward to a relaxing week. We don't have anything we need to do, just whatever we want to do. Except laundry. I suppose I have to do that.

G&M leave Friday for a trip of their own, so tomorrow we are just going to spend time with them & let Asher play. He got quite upset when we told him it was time for bed tonight. He did not want to stop playing.

So for the Ireland part of our trip, here are the smartest & dumbest things we did......

Dumbest: Taking Asher along? No, it wasn't that bad, but I would rethink doing it again. Chad & I have a pretty fast pace & it was really hard to get Asher into that. Probably not taking Asher's stroller along to Ireland. Not that we would have used it a ton, but it would have been nice to have when we were walking around in Dublin.

Smartest: Bringing straws along. We only had a sippy cup of water along for Asher & I didin't really want it to get used for milk, so having straws worked great in all the B&Bs for breakfast & some places we went for lunch & dinner.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Mullingar by Car

Tonight we are at a very nice B&B in Mullingar. We're headed back to Dublin as we fly out on Wed & we thought we'd still like to see the Guinness Factory so we can compare it to the Heinekin factory! I say it's a nice B&B b/c they gave me a nice apple sponge for dessert. I like my desserts, yes I do.

We had dinner at a "touristy" pub in town & it wasn't all that great. Luckily we had had a really good pub lunch this afternoon, so it was still a pretty good day. Chad & I shared a meal tonight b/c we weren't very hungry. Normally I enjoy such a venture b/c it means I can order a dessert, but the dessert menu was not very appealing, so we stopped at a petrol station on the way to the B&B & got some Magnum Ice Cream Bars.

We drove through the Burren today. It was more what we envisioned when we thought of Ireland. Well, except for all the rocks growing out of the ground. As we were headed East again it got more familiar. Sheep, stone fences, some cows, small winding roads. Ireland is a nice place, but I think I'm ready to go back to England. I don't think I'd like to move here, but it was nice to see.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

The Cliffs of Moher

Tonight we are at a B&B near the Cliffs of Moher in the town of Doolin. Or I suppose I should call it a village. There are about 25 B&Bs, 5 pubs, a Petrol station, & not a whole let else. I suppose there are some houses here too, but it seems almost everyone has a few extra rooms to let out to the masses of tourists, & why not? There seems to be quite a lot of people who get all crazy about looking over cliffs into the Atlantic. As for me, I'd rather be closer to the water than 100 metres above it. We went to the visitor centre tonight & Chad went off up the hills to take pictures while Asher & I stayed in the gift shop where it was warm & broke things. Asher decided he wanted to see a Christmas tree ornament up close & smashed it on the floor, but the shop lady was really nice & didn't even make me pay for it. Now THAT'S what I call service!

Speaking of customer service, it's been really interesting getting acquainted with the way the UK handles its service sector. For instance, at a grocery store, you can pretty much bet that you'll be bagging your own groceries, there's no one to do it for you, & if you wait for the cashier to do it, you could be waiting a VERY long time, as it's not their job. We were at Heathrow going through security, where you collect all your bits & pieces after they've gone through the x-ray machine & the belt was totally clogged with the grey bins for putting all your small items in. Nothing could go into the x-ray machines anymore, but were the security personnel bothered? Not a bit! It's not their job apparently to remove the grey bins from the belt after people have emptied them, it's the people's responsibility. So Chad nicely removed about 8 bins so that our bags could go through so we could be on our way.

However, it's different when you go to restaurants. We are used to taking our trays & rubbish off the tables when we are finished with them so the next customer can use the table, but in the UK everyone leaves all their dishes on the table for the employees to clean up. Not at McDonald's, as apparently being a N. American restaurant they have adopted the N. American way of doing things where you clear your own table, but you'll be hard pressed to find a rubbish bin at most other places you eat.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Holy Island

This morning we awoke to cold & rain..... much as we expected from England, & why should Ireland be any different? The room was also cold, but Chad reminded me that the houses here are not as well insulated as we are used to, and the heat is not turned way up to compensate, and the people must be more used to the cold b/c I was FREEZING!! Last night we were sitting up while Asher fell asleep & I had to keep my coat on b/c it was so frigid in the common room. This morning I had the presence of mind to wear my shoes to breakfast & I was very glad I did b/c the dining room felt like it had been open to the elements all night.

We decided that since the weather wasn't great, we'd go into Limerick & see if we could find a shopping area just to stay out of the weather. We found a small mall & bought a new pair of shoes for Asher b/c he's been working really hard at breaking the pair he has. We also enjoyed a latte from Esquires Coffee. We were a bit surprised to see an Esquires b/c we have only seen them in western Canada, so we thought they were just a small chain there, but they had the same logo & the penguin mascot.

The weather was quite warm by about 11am, so we decided to take Asher to a park to run off a bit of energy before lunch. We stopped at an old mill pub for lunch & ate out on the deck in the sun, enjoying the view of the fish ladder & falls. After a short nap on Asher's part we departed for the Holy Island. When we were in England a few years ago w/ Chad's folks we had tried to see Whitby Island (where Christianity first came to England), but the tide had been up & the road was impassible. So we thought we'd try to see Ireland's Holy Island. Unfortunately you can only get there by boat & you must call ahead to book, so once again we were out of luck. We took some pictures from the other shore though.

After our botched trip to the H.I. We drove back to Ballina/Killalae, stopping at a waterfront park along the way to let Asher stretch his legs a bit before supper. Taking a road trip with a small child can be very S-L-O-W, since you must stop every few hours for sanity breaks! Then we were off to the Chinese Restaurant so highly recommended the night before, & it was EXCELLENT!! The prices were a bit steep, but I had figured w/ such a high recommendation that they would be, so we were prepared.

While at the restaurant Asher spotted a picture on the wall of Mao Tze Tung & declared it to be “Uncle Brian.” It seems everyone he meets these days is “Uncle Brian.” It doesn't seem to matter what they look like, or how old they are, “Uncle Brian” is a universal man.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Pub Food

Last night was MUCH better. Asher only woke up twice, & I think he was not aware that we were in the room with him b/c when he did get up he looked toward the door & directed his comments towards it.

However, I didn't sleep well at all. I guess all the walking we did yesterday coupled with the fact that I've been a bit of a couch potato of late, made for a very sore back! Finally at about 1am I decided it was time for some drugs. I took a Tylenol & within the hour, was drifting softly towards dreamland. I was a bit hesitant to take the Tylenol b/c I only have a limited number in my purse, but the pain was so bad & the drugs worked so well, that I went to the shops today & purchased some Paracetamol which is the UK equivalent. I am now a happy camper again.... just waiting to be rid of the stuffy nose.

We are staying in the quaint town of Ballina/Killalae, Ireland. We had a delicious Pub dinner this evening, & Asher amazed us all by eating a whole pizza all by himself! I asked the proprietor of the B&B where we are staying where she recommended for dinner & she gave us a highly recommended Chinese place, or the Pub. Chinese sounded really good to my pregnant cravings, but when I asked Chad which he'd prefer, a little boy piped up, “PUB food!” So off we went to the pub. The prices were a bit steep, but Chad & I decided to share since we both wanted the same type of food (quite a rare thing since I usually want pasta) & we could afford a delicious Apple Crumble as well!

**In case you were wondering about my new handbag, I still love it, & I informed Chad today that even if I don't find any other souvenirs on this trip, I will still be happy b/c I am SO chuffed w/ my new bag!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

An Eventful Day in Dublin

Oh boy! Last night was a doozy! Asher went to bed fine around 8pm, but then woke up repeatedly crying that he wanted to come out, “please out!” Until we finally just let him cry. I felt really bad for the people next door b/c it was after midnight, but I could hear someone snoring the whole time, so they must not have been too bothered by all the noise. We sure were though. I think we got about 6 hours sleep. Today Asher never got a real nap, so we are hoping it goes better tonight.

We decided to stay at the B&B for 2 nights since it is a short train ride into Dublin. Today we parked the car at the station & went into the city to see what we could see. Now, first I should tell you that as we were leaving London, I said to Chad, “we don't really need the stroller b/c we'll be in the car the whole time, right?” Ummm, not so much. We walked all around Dublin today, well as much as you can w/ a small child who can't decide if he wants to walk or be carried, but never the one that he is actually doing at the moment. Chad was great about carrying him, seeing as it's a bit difficult since I have my own little bundle I am carrying around as well.

We went to a few shops, & in the first one we stopped at I got a new bag which I am quite chuffed with. It's a Guinness bag (how cool is that?) & I can chuck my purse & the camera in it w/ plenty of room to spare, yet it isn't a real big bag that I'll get tired of hauling around. Also, I can throw it on one shoulder OR attach the longer handle to carry it more on my back. Can you tell that I just LOVE my new bag?

We looked at a few pay-as-you-go mobile phones & decided to get one b/c it's pretty hard to come by a phone box when you need one, & it seems like no one knows where one is either. I suppose that makes sense b/c everyone has a mobile phone nowadays. It was a pretty good price, & the piece of mind we have is excellent. What we really should have done is bring Chad's mobile w/ us & merely bought a new SIM card, but we didn't think of it. Next time we'll remember to bring everything.

Speaking of forgetting things, I realized as I was getting up in the morning that I had forgotten to pack the most essential items. Something I can't borrow from Chad, & something that isn't especially easy to just pick up at the shops..... Have you guessed what I forgot yet? You bet, my bras! So today along with looking for souvenirs & mobile phones, we were bra shopping, something I dread at the best of times, let alone in a strange country where you don't know the stores & we're supposed to be on holidays, enjoying ourselves! Well, we did find a store that was having a huge sale & I even got a bra for 50cents! Not too shabby!

When we were leaving the shopping area it was POURING! WE noticed on the way in that there were rickshaw-type cabs that said “free ride” on the backs, so we found one parked a short ways from the shopping centre & the driver informed us that the ride really was free, & we didn't have to pay b/c it's a promotion done by 7Up Free. It's some new beverage that has no sugar & no calories or something. Great advertising, but I don't like 7Up, so sadly I won't be buying their product. I love the idea though, & if I lived around there I'd definitely tell others about it as well.

We got back to the car park & we weren't sure what to do b/c it was only about 2:15 & Asher was quite tired, yet we didn't really want him to sleep b/c we are hoping to get him on the time schedule here. Not to worry, apparently we parked where we weren't supposed to, & our car got CLAMPED!!! There goes a day of the vacation budget! But how do you call to get your car unclamped w/o a working mobile phone? Send a pretty girl into a nearby shop to ask if she can use the phone of course! After Chad had tried to get the guy at the train station to call w/o any luck, he was quite upset by the day's events, so off I went & 10 minutes later emerged poorer, but the situation was sorted. We waited in the car about 40 minutes & the man came & removed the clamp. Lesson learned, money burned!

I really hope tomorrow isn't as eventful as today, however, I am really, really chuffed with my new bag!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

From England to Dublin

This morning our friends that we are staying with brought us to the tube station to go to Heathrow. On the way to the station we ran into the same issue we have had everytime we have flown with Asher. Day one in a new place, he gets sick. So this time it was in the car. Luckily it all managed to stay on him & in the car seat we were borrowing. Fairly easy to clean, but times like that always make me wish we had stayed home. Things would be a lot easier to deal with on our own turf. So, we got to the station & I pulled Asher into a dark corner & gave him a new set of clothes. I suppose it was better that he did it in the car rather than in the tube, if he had waited 15 more minutes it would have been all over me as well as the carriage. We got to the airport without any further problems & flew off to Dublin.

Once we got to Dublin we had to get our rental car & B&B vouchers. We had purchsed a travel pack from a travel agent b/c we thought it was a great deal to get a weeks worth of B&B vouchers along with a car rental for the week. We are already beginning to rethink that option. When we lived in England & we had people come to tour around w/ us we adopted a system of driving around & then stopping when we saw a B&B that looked good at the right time of day. This requires a bit more planning since you are supposed to call ahead (not easy to do when you are dependant upon phone boxes, which we have found to be fairly scarce). And there are a limited number of B&Bs that take the vouchers. So, we've learned a valuable lesson, next time go on our own rather than doing the voucher thing.

Monday, 21 April 2008

To Answer Meghann's Questions

"What are your feelings about your impending bundle of joy? are you hoping for a boy or girl? do you have any names picked out? what does asher think about a baby coming?"

Well, I am both excited & apprehensive about the new baby.... I really enjoy being pregnant, I don't really have much to complain about. I've had stomach issues for the past 5 years, so being pregnant isn't that much more uncomfortable.... plus, you get to feel a little person wiggling around inside of you, that's definitely the coolest part!

I am kind of hoping for another boy. I have 2 older brothers & I am the youngest, so why not try to have the perfect family? *smile* I would like to have a girl as well, but I think Asher would really enjoy having a brother to play with first. Whatever we get, we'll be happy. I think if we have a girl though, there might be the temptation to stop after 2, & we both would like to have 3 kids. I'm just not too terribly great with kids, so there is that to overcome!

We do have names picked out. When we were having Asher we figured we were probably going to have a boy b/c we just couldn't agree on a boys name until about a week before he was born. This time we have agreed & we like them, so we have no inkling of what we'll be having. Of course, you'll just have to wait until the baby's born to find out the names b/c if we told you now, who's to say they won't get stolen? We like unique names, & these are definitely that.

Asher doesn't really get it that we are going to have a baby. We've told him there's a baby in Mummy's belly, but then he also says there's a baby in Daddy's belly. He gives kisses to the baby, but he aims a little high (if you get what I mean) he is all boy!

Today I was complaining that I couldn't eat all my pizza b/c my belly was too big & all on his own Asher said there was a baby in Mummy's belly, so I suppose we are making some progress there. I just don't know what he's going to think about it when the baby comes home & Mummy's belly is flat again. He's been having some issues with sitting on my lap for bedtime. It's quite rapidly decreasing in size & it's getting harder & harder for him to get comfy on it.

We're Ready To Go!

I thought I should do a post before we are off, since I don't think I'll be able to do much blogging once we leave. We are off to Toronto as soon as Asher wakes up from his nap & then we fly to London tonight. We get in tomorrow & then Wednesday we're off to Ireland for a week. I keep worrying about how this is going to go & thinking it would be EASY if we weren't taking Asher, but part of the point of the trip is so the people we lived with over there can see Asher (and so when Asher is older we can say, "What do you mean we never take you anywhere? We took you to England & Ireland!")

I'm hoping to take lots of pictures & I'll post some when we get back. Of course we are leaving beautiful weather here. It's about 15C right now & going to where the high will be about 5C. *sigh* Just when I start enjoying the weather we leave, but hopefully it'll still be here when we get back & I'll appreciate it even more then.

Sunday, 20 April 2008


Stupid Laundry.... where do you come from, & how can you breed so quickly? I just did 3 loads 4 days ago, & now must do 4 more?

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Packing Bug

Whenever we are on the verge of moving (read: within 4 months or so) I get the packing bug. This really drives Chad crazy b/c I start to pack things that I think we don't use, leading to oddly packed boxes b/c I have a space & all spaces must be filled. Sometimes when we unpack a box, the contents must be delivered to 3 or more rooms....
It also leads to things being packed that I am unaware that Chad uses. For instance, last time we moved, Chad was doing all the cooking & I wasn't. I packed most of the kitchen utensils b/c I figured he wasn't using them. We then had to unpack 3 boxes to find the pancake flipper.
I have officially caught the packing bug again. Chad has forbidden me from packing any more boxes since he came home to 5 boxes of videos sitting on the couch. I asked him to put them away & since we are living in a small apartment, our storage room is already filled nearly to capacity. He had to stack those beautiful Huggies boxes behind the couch in our living room.
His point was, that A-we don't have the space, & B-we aren't moving for another 2.5 months. However, with our trip to England & numerous trips to Grand Rapids, a whole month is cut out of that time frame. But he assures me that our stuff will get packed, we will move on time, & I have nothing to worry about...... It's hard, but I'm really going to try to quit now.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

What would you like to know?

In an attempt to come up with something interesting to write (and something interesting for you to read), I have decided to ask you, Dear Reader, what you would like to know about me. Perhaps this will initiate some communication as I have no idea who reads this, or how many people read this. I admit that this is getting out of thinking for myself, but the way my memory has been (not) working lately, that's probably a good thing. I await your responses (and hope I get some, or I will be very depressed).

Monday, 14 April 2008

The madness is soon to begin......

.....And they call it vacation! Hah! Wednesday we will be starting our successive trips. We're going to Grand Rapids to visit some friends & Chad will be attending the Festival of Faith & Writing which he has wanted to go to for a few years, but since the Seminary never gave them time off to attend it, he was never able to. Hence, this year, we're going. We'll be coming back home late Saturday night, then Chad has to preach at 2 different churches Sunday.
Not bad so far, eh? But Monday we leave for 2 weeks to England (with a side trip to Ireland). I know now that you're saying "Stop your whinging, you get to go to England!" But I'll have to do laundry in there somewhere too & I'm a little worried about what to pack for Asher. Normally we can nip into Walmart on a trip if we forget something, but that won't be an option over there.
When we get back, Chad leaves the next morning for a 3 day men's retreat for church, so I'll be a single mum for a few days. I don't mind so much during the days, but I really miss having him to help at meal times (and of course his company at night as well). Chad gets back from his retreat Saturday night & has to preach again on Sunday. Then we get 2 days of normalcy before the next leg of our journey.
Wednesday we'll be going back down to Grand Rapids for Chad's Seminary graduation. Yay! I'm excited about this. Coincidentally his 10 year highschool reunion falls on the same weekend. Yes, he's been in school all this time. This summer he'll be up for candidacy and ready for his first REAL job!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Some interesting things

I found this on a blog I read & thought it looked fun, so here it goes:

What was I doing ten years ago (1998):

*Going to Dordt College
*Studying for Finals
*Worrying about my future
*Getting ready to go home for the summer
*Enjoying hanging out w/ my friends w/o much real responsibility

5 things on my to-do list today:
*Get some groceries
*Bake a cake
*Figure something out for dinner
*Take a nap

5 snacks I enjoy:
*Sour Grape Candies
*Hot Tamales
*Ice Cream
*Hostess Suzy-Qs
*Soft Homemade cookies or brownies

5 things I would do if I were a billionaire:
*Hire a maid
*Go live in England
*give to my church
*Save for kids' college

5 bad habits:
*staying up too late
*not cleaning the house
*not eating healthy
*not working out
*spending too much money on good deals

5 places I have lived:
*Poulsbo, Washington
*Claresholm, Alberta
*London, England
*Grand Rapids, Michigan
*Strathroy, Onatrio

5 jobs I have had:
*Espresso Barista in drive-thru espresso stand (great for someone who loves Lattes)
*Drive-Thru at McDonald's (great for someone who loves Grilled Chicken Sandwiches)
*Mail order Manager at Frontier Western Shop (great b/c I didn't have to deal w/ customers face to face)
*Switchboard Operator at Charles Russell Solicitors (great b/c I could check email all day)
*Medical Assistant at East Paris Internal Medicine (great b/c we had free lunches everyday)

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Sing a Song

Yesterday Asher & I were riding the bike around & Asher asked me to sing a song. I asked him what song I should sing & he said "You Bet Song." I told him that I didn't know that song & asked if he could sing it to me..... Here's what I got: "Yoooouuuu Bet Sooo-ooong" Apparently it was a very short song. A few minutes later I heard him singing, "Wheels on bike a roud a roud, round a roud..." Kids are great.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Just call me "Honey"

We're not too sure where Asher picked it up, but for the last week, he's been calling Chad & I "Honey." It's kind of cute, but also a little disconcerting to have an almost-2-year-old ask, "Have some milk, ok, Honey?" Chad & I don't call each other honey, and we don't really know anyone else that he's been around that would. The only thing we can figure out is maybe someone in the nursery called him "honey" recently.

The weather has gotten nicer. We actually have temperatures above freezing! It's been great to get out to the park & go for walks & be OUTSIDE! It feels strange in some ways to deviate from our winter schedule, but it's definitely nice to get some fresh air!