30 April 2010

could this be the best birthday ever?

today is my birthday. i am 28. that sounds old to me; i am old, not old like trevor...but still old. i think i am 22. when people talk about early twenties, i still think i fall into that category. but i dont. i am a mere two years away from 30. weird.

over the years i have had some great birthdays. surprise parties, planned parties, little parties and big parties. i have some fantastic birthday memories. but i am beginning to think that this year tops them all.

This year, i woke up to my daughter moving around in her crib. I quickly grabbed her out and the two of us cuddled in my bed for about an hour. i was woken again by a tiny little hand poking my nose. opening my eyes to see her beautiful smiling face was an incredible way to start my birthday. the rest of the morning was spent playing games and cuddling with my little chicklet. and when i said "today is mommy's birthday" i got a giant smile and a big clap. i like to think she understood me and was helping me celebrate.

i had two wonderful cards waiting for me this morning as well. one from my wonderful husband and a nice homemade card that little e made for me. she is so talented.

and at lunch time i received my gift from rhys. spain. i can not put into words how excited i am. i CAN NOT wait to go. two weeks from now i will be celebrating my 28th on the beach, sipping some sangria, watching my little girl enjoy the sand and sea for the first time.

yup. this could be the best birthday ever.

29 April 2010

birthday sushi

i have known stacey for the best part of 15 years. i feel like an old woman saying that, but its true. We grew up in the same city, worked at the same summer camp, went to university in the same state and now, by some crazy twist of fate, we both happen to live in london. its bizzare. but it is really nice to have some one close by who i have so much history with.

even though my birthday is not until friday, we decided to celebrate on wednesday. it was great.

we ate on this street

it was delicious

then we went to the park and played around for a bit and ate some fantastic gellato

we finished off the day with beer and chips just before i caught the train back home. it was a good early birthday. thanks stacey, it was great :)

26 April 2010

by way of annoucing....

I am careful to make the distinction between my blog and my journal. my journal tends to be much more personal than "share with the whole world" type of stuff. however, this time there is really no better way to say what i want to say than share an excerpt from the ole' journal. its a bit long, but it explains everything i want to say. so here it goes...

it's peaceful here, my local park. Its a beautiful and warm sunday evening, my two loves are out for a run and here i sit with a steaming cup of tea, basking in the warm glow of the evening sun on my favourite park bench. i remember the first time that i came here, I found it quite odd to walk across the street, with tea nonetheless, simply to sit in the outdoors. but in the absence of a back garden, a park 10 meters away is the next best thing. now i find it glorious. everything about my park is peaceful and calming to me. i love that it is big enough to have swings, a play gym, 4 benches and a grassy knoll. i love that it is small enough that no matter where you sit, you can see the entire park. i love that in the far west corner is an old oak tree with so many knots, twists and cracks that i am left with the impression it was standing during the Blitz of WWII and what i see today are the remaining battle scars. I love that amid the laughing children, chirping birds and scampering of too many squirrels i can hear the trains zooming by overhead. I love that i can always faintly hear the football banter from the corner pub about 30 meters away. I love that the east side of the park borders a busy street so i am never short of people to watch. I can see my front window from my park bench. and i love that. that view makes me feel close to home. I love everything about my park.

and i wonder....will i miss these sights and sounds when i am in america and have my own private back garden? will a neighbourhood with privacy fences and big, enclosed back yards feel dull and boring to me after my years of public parks? Or will i grow to love the experience of having a cup of tea only 2 feet from the kettle, as i sit on my own patio, in my own chair, watching my own grass? soon enough i will have the answers to these questions. sooner than i was expecting.

we are leaving london in less than two months.

rhys and i have been praying earnestly about what our next step should be. we have both felt for a while that our time here was drawing to a close. we have been seeking Gods will and asking him to give us clear direction about what we should do and where we should go. Our landlord phoned us last week and said he was selling the flat. we had two months to move out. if that is not a clear sign, than i dont know what is. we are leaving london.

even though i just wrote that sentence myself, i can hardly believe it. I almost dont even want to think about it. i am over come with emotion. after 3 years, i am leaving what has become my home. i know in the grand scheme of life, 3 years is not very long. but these particular 3 years have been some of the most significant and life changing i have ever experienced. they say that the five biggest life changes are getting married, moving, having a child, losing a job/getting a new job, and a death. Aside from death, all of those things have occurred in the 3 years since i have been living in london. I moved to the UK the day after i got married. I have only ever been a wife in London. I birthed my first child here. life transformed for me in the UK; it stopped being about single Kristina and i have gradually stepped into the roles of wife and mother.

leaving london is more than simply changing a location, it is leaving my home.

we all have labels based on our life stages, student, child, boss, friend, employee, and so on. Living over here gave me a new one- ex patriot. thats a funny word, one that makes me think of a hardened criminal fleeing prosecution or an old war veteran seeking refuge on foreign soil. but ex-pat became a description of me. and while being an ex-pat, a foreigner, caused me to stand out a lot in the past years, i have also found my niche, my place to fit in. i have people i go to for a laugh, people i go to for a cry, people i can phone up for a pint, people who offer brilliant advice and people who are simply there when i need them. i have an amazing group of "mom friends", i have an incredible church, one that i am quite distraught about leaving. rhys and i have an indescribable core group of friends here that will be irreplaceable. i have my local shop, my local pub, my local rugby club....i have my life here. and it will be hard to leave.

but soon, I will pass the expat label on to rhys. i will no longer need to carry that around. i will be returning to my own country. but even though i have spent the majority of my years in america, i no longer feel like i really know how to live there. i have never been a wife or a mother anywhere else but here. and as silly as it sounds, it makes me kind of nervous. for example, i dont know about ANY baby products in america. creams, lotions, washes, diapers etc... I dont know what the best things are to buy or even where to buy them. I dont know the first thing about choosing a paediatrician. because of the NHS here in the UK, we dont actually see a doctor for e. just a 'health visitor' do i need to register with a doctor? and dont even get me started on trying to get insurance!! what about food? i am so used to eating based on the UK food market. it took me a while to get accustomed to it, but now i am so used to it that i am even nervous about what kind of food i will be able to buy. and juice. the recipes are different between the two countries, the type of food used is different because the geography is different. even the measuring system is different.

and what about the way i do life. i am used to basing my day around how long it takes me to walk places or what the train/tube time table is. but most places in the states, especially where we are moving, doesnt even have sidewalks everywhere. will i have to drive most places? is a neighbourhood the only place i will have to walk now? do people use re-usable bags at the grocery store or will i get funny looks for bringing those in? plus how do i plan meals for the week that consists of more than what i can carry back with me? so many changes. and although i am nervous, i must admit, most of those changes will make my life a lot easier.

it will be easier to have a garage and not have to carry baby, stroller, bag and umbrella down 12 steps to the main road. it will be easier to not live on a main road. it will be easier to have a dryer and a dishwasher. but i enjoy my simple life. will i come to resent the convinecencs? or will i quickly forget my experience here? I am also fearful of the familiarity that the midwest offers. since i have been writing here on my park bench 2 polish girls have come and gone, a Scottish family is playing on the gym, a muslim couple and a young girl are kicking around a ball and 3 english boys are running wild. i am worried that i will be surrounded by my fellow americans and i will lose the diversity that i love so dearly.

i could go on and on with the changes and the questions, but its all uncertainty. the only thing i know for sure right now is that my time here is drawing to a close. this chapter on my life is finishing. even though i am well aware a new chapter is beginning, it still makes this ending a sad one. I am well aware that moving to america will provide my family with more monetary and material opportunities than we could offer living in london. but the cultural and experiential opportunities that we are leaving behind are irreplaceable. europe is amazing. my head knows that america is just as amazing in its own right, but at the moment my heart is having a hard time catching up with my head. so i will give myself time to mourn and then time to rejoice.

in university i had a method of deciding whether or not i should do something. everything was rated on a scale of 1 to 5. a good memory gave you 5 points. so cost, responsibility, effectiveness, everything was weighted against whether or not a positive memory would be the outcome. if it was, then said choice was awarded a 5 and i did it. regardless. after all, a memory was worth 5 points. that is how i ended up travelling the world, going to grad school, getting tattoos etc... but i suppose that is not the most responsible way to make decisions anymore. i can not choose to stay in a place just because it is an adventure and will give me 5 memory points. I have a husband and a daughter now. it is what is best for all of us. moving really is the best choice.

so i am brought back to this, my park. now there is a young english family playing football. their youngest is about 2 and every time she tries to kick the ball, she misses badly. it is adorable. but is that what i want for my family? only a public park to share our family memories? no chance to build a tree house, or have a sand box, or be able to run through a sprinkler? no yard for snowmen, or a snow fort? or do i want something different? I will miss my park. I will miss my train zooming by, the double decker buses honking, causing the birds to scatter. I will miss having to balance my tea, books, journal and pens as i wonder over to my bench. i am nervous about the move, but at the same time a little at peace. we prayed for clear direction and that is what we got. and i will trust in the Lord who is faithful to provide, protect and guide.

"Therefore i tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat: or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food and the body more than clothes. Consider the raven: they neither sow nor reap, they have no storeroom or barn: yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than the birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you can not do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet i tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. IF that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you?...but seek His kingdom and all these things shall be added unto you" Luke 12:22-29,31

oh, by the way, we are moving to fayetteville, arkansas.

21 April 2010


the city is a completely different place when the sun is shinning. people come out in full force and the parks become just a packed as the streets. take for example, my local park on sunday.

but I absolutely love london in the sun. it is one of my favourite places to be. and it has been unbelievably sunny for the past few weeks. quite out of character for a UK spring. rhys and i took full advantage of the sun and city; it was a fantastic day out. i have included some of my favourite shots from the weekend

we tried to get some cute shots of ele with the flowers in hyde park

But she was more interested in pulling and eating the flowers than sitting still and smiling

family shot in the palace gardens

ele and me in front of the gates for buckingham palace

apparently rhys felt the need to point out buckingham palace. just in case you wouldnt have noticed it looming in the background.

e loves being on her daddy's shoulders

after getting lots of funny looks and people smiling in the direction of our stroller, we stopped and this is what we found. little ele was so tired she had just fallen asleep.

i hope the weather stays this nice for the rest of the spring and summer. i am looking forward to many more fun days out with my new little family.

16 April 2010

hundreds and thousands

even after 3 years of living here, it still makes me laugh how two countries can be so similar yet so very different. today, one difference really stood out. I had my baby friends over to the flat for some coffee, cake and general merriment. one of the girls brought around some lovely cupcakes

and these cupcakes led to a discussion. I said "oooo sprinkles" and the rest of the girls said "oooo hundreds and thousands" wha...? thats a funny name for sprinkles. i suppose it makes sense really. they are hundreds and thousands of little sugar balls. and the more i think about it, the more i prefer their name to mine. perhaps i will adpot this term and make it my own :)

cupcakes aside, rhys, ele and i are off into the city tomorrow for an open top bus tour. sure we live in london, but it never hurts to do the touristy things every now and then. enjoy your weekends everyone.

(and Kim Watkins, if you are reading this, go to THIS website. i thought of you immediatley when i saw this. (it also comes in a pram liner) if it wasnt so pricey i would buy it for you)

14 April 2010

my flat

when i imagined my life ten years ago, nothing that i imagined came close to resembling my life today. and for that i am eternally grateful. the reality of my life is so much greater than anything i could have dreamed of. it is vastly different, but still amazing. Since i have lived in London, I have had lots of my friends back home ask me what it is like. thats a difficult question because how do you describe life? My attempt is this...pictures of my street and my flat. granted it is not a thorough explanation, but it is at least a glimpse of what it is like living in london.

this is my house. well, the white building on the far left is my building. the second window from the bottom is my front window. I love our front window. the amount of light that it lets in, ah! its heavenly.

this is my house, with a big red bus in front of it. i included this picture cause i love it. my house, with a double decker bus.

this is my street. i love my street.

Our bathroom. i can go to the bathroom, wash my feet in the tub and brush my teeth all at the same time. impressive, i know. our tub is about 3 and a half feet long and if i stand in the middle of the bathroom with my elbow on one wall, i can touch the other wall with my hand. so that should give you an accurate impression of the size. but it works for us. aside from when we have guests and it would be handy to have more than one bathroom, its great. granted we have had 17 house guests so far....so sometime its a bit tight :)

Our kitchen. It tiny. If i stand in the middle of the kitchen and stretch my arms out, i can touch both walls, it is that small. we have some cabinets, a stove top. thats it. it works, but if i am honest, its a tight fit. only one person in the kitchen at a time gets a bit annoying.

this is the way i walk to the corner shop. I put this picture in because it includes everything. it has a big red bus, the train line in the background, the traffic that is forever on my road, the pub on the corner and a glimpse of our local shop. this is my neighbourhood summed up in a picture.

and there is it. a few rooms in my flat and my street.

12 April 2010

a wedding and a thank you

First of all, I got the shoes from the previous post. they were heavenly! they are also quite possibly the most comfortable pair of shoes i have ever worn. seriously, they rival my flip flops. plus, i dont think that i have ever received so many comments on a pair of shoes that i have worn.

shoes aside, the wedding was fantastic. it was really great for rhys to see all his closest friends from university. not just rhys though, i had a ball as well. that group of guys, and the girls that come with them, are such a unique bunch. plus its guaranteed that you will laugh until your sides hurt whenever everyone gets together. it was a late night, and a rough next morning, but it was definitely worth it. and because pictures always say it better than i can, i have included some of my favourite wedding shots.

to branch away from wedding pictures, i would like to make a special mention regarding the comment section on the blog. First of all, thank you for leaving comments. i do read them and i enjoy it. the good ole' blog has been a great to way to get advice and reconnect with old friends. Katie and Silvy jump to mind here. But its also a great way to make new friends. and lately i have had several people comment that i dont actually know in real life. Leigh from Sturdy Yet Fragile and Mrs. Southern Bride being the most recent two. I have now added you to my list and now look forward to reading your blogs. So thank you everyone for your comments; they are appreciated.

and because i do try to respond to questions asked in the comment section, tomorrow's post is all about the flat. i have been asked what it is like to live in london, what our flat looks like, is it really as tiny as a one car garage etc... so tomorrow i will offer a full explination and post some pictures.

6 April 2010

ode to michelle and laura (plus some wedding shoes)

ok, two things. first, the shoes. I have a wedding this week and for some reason, this wedding has caused me great consternation. i have bought and returned about 7 dresses. i have finally decided on one, but am still not entirely happy with my choice. and shoes....ah, dont even get me started. i need to wear heels with the dress i have choosen. but since i never wear heels, i have to buy some. so... here are the shoes i want. they are great, but a bit pricey (stupid kurt gieger). so blogging world, what do you think?

secondly, and most importantly, michelle and laura. Hello friends. i know you both read the blog and as its been a while since i have had a proper chat with either one of you, i am writing my hello's on the good ole' blog. for those of you that dont know michelle and laura let me tell you a little bit about them. They are fantastic.

laura understands me and my life in a way that no one else does. she is an american who is married to a brit. few people understand the joy, and difficulty, that particular situation can cause. Laura is such a lovely person, so sweet and kind. she was one of my bridesmaids too. she really is a one of a kind. her and her husband (who happens to be one of rhys' closest friends) live in boston. rhys and i aim to settle in boston long term. i cant wait until we live in the same city as laura! michelle is just as fantastic. she has so much personality its unbelievable. she is quite funny and full of energy; she will keep you on your toes. michelle too is caring and kind. she is also married to one of rhys' closest friends. we like to keep it in the family :)

laura and michelle are the kind of career people that i admire. they both have excellent jobs, in high ranking positions. they are hard working, determined, and successful. they work hard and deserve their status and position. i could go on about their qualities, but then i will run the risk of sounding a bit obsessive. so i will just leave it at both girls are great and i am lucky to know them.

ok mushy stuff over.

i wish we got a chance to hang out more often. shame we dont. i realise boston is a bit far away, but michelle lives in england!! michelle we really should hang out more. although i am looking forward to seeing you at the wedding on thursday. and now that my phone is fixed, i promise to call you both soon.

5 April 2010


ele's first easter. she was so precious! we had a great sunday morning service, well great until e took a head drive onto her toys mid sermon and let out the loudest, most blood curdling scream i have ever heard. safe to say everyone in the church saw (and heard) e in her cute little easter outfit. the rest of the day went without a hitch, chats with friends, a nice lunch, and a great sunny afternoon run. plus, little e in the cutest easter outfit ever!

for some reason, blogger is not letting me arrange the pictures into the right order, but they are still cute to look at :)

e is not allowed processed sugar in any form, so instead of candy for easter we got her little knitted easter eggs rattles. they are so cute! she enjoyed them.

i think ele had more fun with the pink basket stuffing than what was actually in the basket

family picture. we had a bit of a struggle trying to set the timer on the camera and get all three of us a shot. this was the best one by far.

1 April 2010

weekend randoms

It is officially my weekend. Good Friday and Easter Monday are both national holidays (or bank holidays as we call them). That's right folks a 4 day weekend for Easter. awesome. it does give a unique opportunity to actually talk about Jesus' death and resurrection since people are talking about Easter anyway. which is why i am posting weekend randoms on Thursday because today is the start of my long, Easter weekend.

-We had our "spring forward" time change last weekend and the amount of daylight is INSANE! I realise that all over the world days will get longer, but i have never experienced something like the UK spring and summer time. Granted it is rainy and crap a lot of the time, but the amount of daylight is unbelievable. as i am writing this is it ten to eight in the evening. I have no light on inside my living room, just the natural light still pouring in my windows. looking outside it may as well be three in the afternoon. and it only increases in light as we get more and more into the summer season. by the time June and July are here, it will be bright sunshine (seriously, sunshine like the middle of the afternoon) at nine and ten at night. it hits dusk around half ten and doesn't actually go fully dark until eleven. it is amazing. a little strange to put the baby to bed when it is still light out, but still amazing.

-As i was walking into town today i was stopped my the hare krishnas. they are usually in town once a week with music, chants, drums, phamlets, the whole works. as soon as e heard the music, she wouldnt stop laughing. she was having a ball looking at the hare krishnas, especially the drummer who has quite the dreads. so we stopped for a bit because ele's smile was just too cute. i politely declined the literature and donation bucket from the krishna who approached us, but it brought back a memory of the time that i joined a protest in spain.

It was the summer of 2006. I was bored one day at work so instead of working, i was trawling the Internet for cheap airfares. i happened upon an insanely cheap flight to europe and on a whim decided to book it. that same day i also quit my job. and two weeks later i was on a plane to london. I went from England to Belgium to France and finally a train station in Madrid, Spain. I got a job with a school on the Costa Del Sol in the very southern bit of the country. but i decided to take my time making my way south. I spent a few days in barcelona and one afternoon whilst walking around the city, i came across a giant group of people about my age, dancing, yelling, holding signs and chanting. I had never encountered a protest quite like it before, so i decided to stay on a watch for a little bit. gradually my watching turned to smiling, and my smiling turned to nodding and before i knew it, i had befriended a group of girls, gotten a sign and was marching along with the group. My Spanish is pretty limited, so i wasn't entirely sure exactly i was protesting, but it seemed like the majority were angry about student housing prices. having only recently finished school myself, that was something i could relate to. so for the next hour or so, i protested up and down the streets of barcelona. what a brilliant afternoon.

-The british eat anything and everything on baked potatoes (jacket potatoes as they call them) baked beans, egg and mayo, tuna, salad, anything. I know some people in the states eat more than sour cream and bacon bits on potatoes, but nothing like the crazy brits (and their former colonies). I had the best baked potato of my entire life in new zealand. it was giant, which was a good sign from the start. it had warm butter as the base, followed by sour cream, coleslaw, pineapple and topped off with a little cheese. whilst it may not sound like the most appealing thing to eat, it was phenomenal. try it and you will not be disappointed.

the point of all this is that tonight we are having spicy fajita jacket potatoes. mmmmm, tasty. here is my plate so you can have a good idea of what it is

looks yummy doesn't it. throw in some tortilla crisps, salsa and done! it's so quick and easy. I am aware that it is full of carbs, but every now and then, its a great meal. i highly recommend it.

and i think that is it. rhys just came in from rugby and since the baby is sleeping soundly, i think i would much rather spend my time with my wonderful husband instead of typing on a computer. enjoy your weekends everyone, i know i will.