28 July 2011

2 years old

To my precious Eleri,

You are 2. I can hardly believe it. I know that it sounds like a cheesy mom thing to say, but I remember the day that you were born like it was yesterday. Let me correct that; I remember certain things about that day as clear as if it were something that happened 5 minutes ago.

I remember that I listened to Jack Johnson and Stereophonics on repeat the entire labour/birth process. To this day, those are your favourite. Sure you like 'wheels on the bus' and 'itsy, bitsy spider' but put on some jack or the phonics and you rock out like nothing else. Looks like good music was instilled in you from the beginning.

I remember wanting your daddy by my side the entire time. Not once did he leave me. You carry that same attachment to your daddy. From the minute you were born, you had your daddy's heart. You can make him laugh, cry and dance around like a fool like no one else can. The day you were born 2 years ago, you daddy did everything to make sure you were ok. His attitude towards you has not changed one bit. He would lay down his life if it meant you would have a better one. I will never forget the look on your daddy's face the first time he saw you. And I will never get tired of seeing that same look, full of love and affection, every time he looks at you. It is a bond that cannot be broken.

I remember the very second that you were born. It was a mix of utter relief and intense fear. You were dark purple. and you were not breathing. I was afraid that there was something wrong. I was afraid you might not make it through. I had not even seen you for more than 5 minutes in the real world and my heart was ripping in two at the thought of losing you. It was a long 5 or 6 minutes until you started to cry and breath normally. In the grand scheme of life, 5 minutes is not long. But precious little one, mommy thought you were slipping away, and with you my entire heart. I have never heard such a beautiful noise as the first sounds you made. You may have been purple for a while, but what a beautiful purple baby you were.

The past two years have been full of memories. We have shared some wonderful times as a family and some rough times too. In your 2 years of life we have moved between 3 different countries and countless houses. You have travelled and experienced more in your short life than most adults. And the amazing thing is the grace and flexibility with which you do it. you are incredibly laid back, it takes a lot to 'ruffle your feathers' so to speak. You have handled our family transitions so well, sweet pea. Not even 4 months ago we moved to a country that you had only visited 3 times before. The people, the weather, the time zone- everything was different. And you adapted so well. You are so easy going, it is a joy to watch. Mommy can learn a lot from your sweet spirit and gentle nature.

Maybe it is the fact that you are so curious. You love to explore and learn new things. You are not afraid of anything. You jump right in. You literally jump right in when it comes to the pool- face first, underwater like you were born to do. It won't be too long before you are swimming unassisted. and you are only 2! you are willing to try new things no matter what they are. Granted, you are a bit more reserved when it comes to trying new food, but we are working on that. You are friendly and outgoing; your truly do not know a stranger. Even at 2 we are able to see so much of your personality shine through and what an amazing little person you are!

As far as accomplishments, there are far too many to mention. These past 2 years you have amazed daddy and me in a new way everyday. You know your colours, shapes (even funny shapes like octagon and hexagon) your Numbers to 10 and are even getting the numbers in Welsh. You are talking now and it is precious to hear your putting words together to form little, eleri sentences. I wish I could put into words how much you comprehend, but I dont know how to explain it. You are a genius. plain and simple. As for toys, Mickey and Minnie mouse are you favourite, but nothing can break the bond between you and your dog Oliver. He still goes everywhere with us.

I dont know what you will be when you grow up, and I don't know if the things that you like now will be the things you like in a year from now. But if today is anything to go on- you will be an athlete. Your hand eye coordination is incredible. You love balls and you especially love to kick. Daddy and I are putting you in soccer in the fall and I can't wait to see your face when you get to run around and kick balls on a giant field. You are so tough, so strong and so rough and tumble. You love anything that involves energy and I can't wait to see where that takes you.

Mommy and Daddy are incredibly proud of you, Eleri. In only 2 years you have filled our lives with more joy than we could have ever thought possible. I started off this letter telling you the things I remembered about the day you were born. So I will leave you with this one last thing. A few hours after you were born, and everyone had left for the night, it was just me and you. It was around midnight and I was exhausted. Birthing a child is hard work! I had just shut my eyes and was drifting off to sleep when you started to cry. I quickly scooped you up in my arms and started walking around the room. I was so tired and so nervous about it being just me and you that I didn't even know what to say/sing/do to help calm you down. So, through tear filled eyes, I started reciting my favourite Bible verses to you and within minutes you were still. You had wrapped your little hand around my finger and when I looked down at your face, there was a tiny smile. I know they say a baby a few hours old is too young to smile, but there it was. a smile. just for mommy. My heart melted and I knew my life would never be the same.

You are my little miracle Eleri. I could not dream of anything better for my life than to have you in it. I have so many hopes and dreams for you, but most of all my prayer for you is that just like that first night in the hospital, the word of God will always speak to your heart and govern your life. You are an incredible blessing not just to mommy and daddy, but to everyone you meet. I can't believe you are already 2. It has been an incredible 2 years, I can't wait for many more.

With more love than you could imagine,


20 July 2011

mommy blog vs academia

*this turned into a fairly long post with no pictures....just a word of warning. but it's personal and good and it's my blog so I can write long posts :)

I blog, obviously. In fact most people I know blog, or at least have a blog that they occasionally post on. For the most part, I enjoy reading blogs. I have found helpful household tips, recipes and even the funny kid story that I share with Rhys. It is a great way to keep in touch with friends that live far away and a great way for us to share our lives with family that is overseas. I am a fan of blogging.

I started this blog in January of 2008 after I had been in London a few months. Typically I am behind technologically so everyone else had been blogging for about 5 years before me. that's just how I role; put it off as long as possible, boycott all advancements and then jump in with two feet. It was fun though and I wanted to be a part. Writing about European politics, life on a commuter train, pub nights in London, rugby, European travel and throw in some more politics.

Then I found out I was pregnant. Overnight my blog morphed into a 'mommy blog' discussing pregnancy, morning sickness, birthing, poppy diapers and the like. Rarely were politics mentioned let alone anything else. On special occasions such as Remembrance Day, Pearl Harbor, September 11th, etc..., I would dedicate a post. The tragic deaths of the last remaing World War I war hero's also got a mention. But those post were few and far between.

Gradually my writing technique and style began to diminish. They say you lose brain cells with each child. I thought they were pretty stupid. But maybe it's true? Maybe I have become such a poor writer because the only things I write about any more are little e's latest accomplishments.

Don't get me wrong, what eleri does is beyond awesome. I want to record and capture every little moment so I have it saved forever. She amazes me every day in a million different ways and I couldn't imagine even one day without her. Even though I love (and sometimes crave) my space during nap time, some days I miss her during her 3 hour snooze. I love the little one and without question will continue to write about her.

But what about other things? I did not start this blog to be a 'mommy blog' nor do I desire it to stay that way. There are so many other things out there that I want to write about, so many other things that are important. Not to keep mentioning the over arching 'they', but they do say to be careful not to lose your own indintity to that of your kids, family, husband, work... It is important to stay focused on other things as well right?

When I read some other blogs out there it seems the only other thing people focus on is what craft project to do next, how to make a bow or what they got on their latest shopping trip. Ok, ok I realise that that was a horrible generalization that not only makes me sound arrogant and harsh but also downplays other peoples interests. That is not what I mean. Let me try this another way. I like crafts, I love to shop, and while bows are not my favourite they way that some people make them is pretty cool. But I feel stuck in the middle. When I read about how awesome some other stay at home mom is I often find myself feeling inadequte. But when I read about how great someone else manages their work and home life I, again, feel a little crap. An obvious answer is not to compare. But it is more than just that. I want to be a mom and do other things. Stuck in the middle.

I want to fight for social justice and make a pillow. I want to go to the mall, buy some things from the gap and start a reading program for kids from poor neighborhoods. I want to have 4 kids and have my PhD in military history. The thing is, I can not find a way to make all of those things work. Maybe that is why it seems people fall into two categories- stay at home mom or work full time mom. Can you stay at home, be involved with your kids and run a reading program for inner city kids? Logistically how would that work out?

I think I lost track of how to even try and make it work. I didn't see how it could, so I didn't really try. It is awesome to stay home with e all day, so I do. We play, read, learn, swim, eat a lot and then play some more. My days are awesome and fulfilling. My blog and my writing show only this side. Eleri. Wife. Mother.

What about the other sides?

When I was living in Wales I posted this about wanting to live in Suburbia. I am living here now and sometimes I feel like it is choking the life out of me. Does that make me a 'grass is always greener' kind of person? Wanting what I don't have, wishing for something else? I live in an affordable place where ele, rhys and I can have a house and our own space in the very near future. and all I want our flat in London. Do I just want what I cant have?

I have thought about that a lot and I think I have reached an answer. It is not that I have a 'grass is always greener' mentality, I just need a way to fulfill/achieve/reach all the different aspects of Kristina.

When I first moved to London I applied to start my PhD work. I was accepted into an awesome program and thought I would have my doctorate in 3 years. As part of the process I had to submit my masters thesis for the faculty to peruse. One of the advisers at the university is a very well known and highly respected World War I historian. He is the historian for my area of study. Like Michael Jordan in Basketball or Pele in soccer. You get the picture. He read and actually liked my thesis. The day I had that conversation ranks in top 3 of best moments of my life. Meeting Rhys, having Eleri and that moment. If I could, I would take that moment and frame it, hang it on my wall and relive it everyday.

But it didn't go as planned. I got pregnant, school and morning sickness didn't mix and I wanted to focus my attention on my newborn when she arrived. Graduate studies, research and dissertation writing no longer fit in. Which brings me to a few months ago. I received an email saying that I had been recommend by the afore mentioned gentleman as well as my graduate advisor for a PhD program at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. It was a dream come true. A scholarship to study exactly what I wanted to. I could be a mom and get my PhD. No more mommy blogging for me. Except that didn't go exactly as planned either.

We can't move to New Zealand because of Rhys' green card status. I can not be the kind of parent I want to be to Eleri and work on my PhD. I can not even think about having another child whilst in the program and we want more kids. Remember, I want 4. NO matter how I pushed and pulled our life, we could not make it fit. It did not make it easier that the school sent 3 more request, nor was it easier that it was a full scholarship. I had to choose- mommy blog or academia.

Ok, so I know I can't really put it in those terms because a lot more plays into it that just that. Very few decisions in life are that cut and dry. But a choice had to be made and whatever was decided, something would be sacrificed. I just could not sacrifice my family. So I am staying put in Tulsa. Occasionally my dreams will transport me to a dimly lit room, full of letters and journals dating back to the early 1900's, in the back of the National Archives, New Zealand; but for the most part I will relish my chance to raise eleri and future williams' the way I want. And enjoy as much pool time as possible.

As for the blog? Well, I have to change it a bit. The dilemma about school vs family has recently come to a close and with that comes a realisation that a sacrifice I don't have to make it history. Even though some of my very dear friends make bows, I do not have to. And that is ok. I can paint with eleri, sew a pillow and write a post detailing the life of an artillery man on western front in southern Belgium in 1917. No one may actually read said post, but I can write it nonetheless. My blog, and my life, can be whatever I make it.

As the old song says 'You can't always get what you want' may be true, but sometimes what you least except (or desire) can be even more incredible than what you had imagined. So I am looking forward to writing about Eleri and all the awesome thing she does. Like have I mentioned how she will stick her face in the water and kick her legs, 'swimming' for a few minutes? I am also looking forward to spending some time writing about history and trying to get some articles published. Who knows, maybe now is when I start writing my book.

18 July 2011

E's 2nd Birthday!

For about a month I have been thinking/planning/making/inviting/making/and then planning some more for Eleri's 2nd birthday. I realize that a month may seem like a long time, but I love birthdays. love, love, love birthdays. And just in case that wasn't clear- I love birthdays. It is not the presents, but the celebration.

Growing up my parents always made a big deal out my birthday. It wasn't that I was showered with gifts, but they made me feel so special and important on my big day. It was all about me. I got to choose my party, we went out to eat and I got to choose the restaurant and then we had cake time back at home and we all talked as a family. And it was wonderful. I grew up loving birthdays and still love them today. I go overboard for Rhys' birthday. Heck, last year he got a trip to Paris. (this year will be WAY toned down- sorry Rhys, no trips for you) Now that little e is in the picture, I am sure I will go over board for her too.

At the moment, ele really likes Mickey. Remember my love for birthdays explained above? That is probably only a tenth of how much eleri loves mickey mouse. So it was an easy decision when it came to party planning. My only problem became that Mickey Mouse, or anything Disney for that matter, is not the cheapest. So making as much as I could became the way to go. Hence the month of making, planning, making and then some more making. Mickey on a budget- and it was so much fun.

The end result was perfect. I always create unrealistic expectations of events/people/parties etc... and nothing ever seems to live up to it. But her party was perfection. I couldn't have wished for anything to go better than it did. Plus eleri loved it. It was a lot of work, but completely worth it to see her face the day of her party. so much joy and excitement- I almost wish everyday could be her birthday. (uh, ok probably not every day....)

One think I will keep in mind for future party planning, never make invitations that involve stitching. It may look nice, but it takes way too much time.

Once the invitations were done and sent out, everything else just fell into place. Bright puff balls hung out by the pool

party bags painted, set up and ready to go

54' in Mickey and Minnie balloons to greet party-goers at the door

I spent quite a few hours scouting around for these balloons. Because of E's obsession with Mickey and Minnie, I knew these fellas would make the perfect addition. After finding prices ranging from $65 to $35 each, I scored an amazing deal on Amazon and got the pair for $12! Her face was awesome when she walked into the house and saw them for the first time. She kept saying 'here minnie, hand" and walking around with them holding their hands. I was afraid she might explode with excitement when Rhys told her she got to take them home. "minnie, mickkkk me? for me? me?!!"

the cousins came

as well as old and new friends

even stef and liam even made the drive from Arkansas! All in all we have 21 adults and 12 kids.

We had chick-fil-a for lunch and it didn't even last long enough for me to get a picture of the table full and set! That is by far the best party food ever. If I am honest, chick-fil-a is just the best food ever, period.

Aside from the giant balloons, I think Eleri's highlight was the cupcake.

Rhys and I were, and still are to an extent, pretty strict in terms of what sweets eleri can and can't eat. She had never had cake, chocolate, a cupcake or really candy of any kind until her party. We let her pick out a cupcake and then eat the whole thing. I have never seen her shovel something in her mouth so quickly.

In fact, she liked it so much that she tried to steal a second one off the table when she thought we weren't looking.

After swimming, food, cake, and some more swimming, we had a pinata to finish off the party. E got some good hits in!

After the party, we headed back to my parents for some cake and present time. Of course the giant balloons had to come.

We opend up the presents that all her friends broguth her and she couldn't get enough of the doll and stroller. (thanks janet and christy!)

e also got an amazing drum/music set. one of the coolest gifts I have ever seen. it was also pretty cool to see the little one walking around with a drum around her neck. (thanks, fiona)

And while I dont have pictures, it must also be mentioned that she got a HUGE floor puzzle that she insisted on doing the minute she unwrapped it, a great set of threading blocks that she walks around with and an amazing childrens bible (thanks Ally, Lisa and Stef)

I know I said it before, but it was a great day. I couldn't have wished for anything else. everyone enjoyed, especially eleri. Her smile was priceless.

13 July 2011


some days i love living in tulsa. some days i hate it. we have been here almost 3 months and it is not as easy as i thought it would be. i wonder what i would say if someone offered me a terraced house in watford. would i take it?

i am still processing a lot of these type of thoughts so instead of focusing on that, i will leave you with this awesome picture of eleri. man, that kid can jump!

11 July 2011

this year vs. last year: the 4th.

Last year on the 4th of July, Team Williams was in Paphos, Cyprus. Here we are on the evening of the 4th, enjoying a nice, relaxing Greek dinner.

Eleri was looking super British in her full coverage, one piece suit as she splashed around in the sea. The same sea that the Apostles splashed around in. (ok, maybe they were not splashing so much as teaching people about Jesus)

But there were signs every where, letting you know they had been there.

We visited ruins....

and then some more ruins...

But there was no cook out in the neighborhood. We didn't see American flags waving on every corner, on every house. No patriotic songs were heard and although I made everyone in the family wear red, white and blue- all in all it was a normal day. No special mention of America. And even though I was having an awesome time livin' it up Cyprus style, I was a bit sad. and missed my country.

This 4th of July we were in America. The first in a while for me, and the very first ever for every other member of my family. And let me tell you, we lived it up American style.

Barbecue in the afternoon with my family and grandma; we ate more ribs and hot dogs than you could count. We had some great pool and park time followed by a neighborhood cookout with some of our new friends. Kids running around, fireworks being set off in the street, and more American flags then I have ever seen. As it started to get a bit dark, everyone gathered in the driveway...

and the fireworks began. Eleri was amazed. She found a nice spot next to her friend Silas and enjoyed the show

This was the firework display in Tulsa. Pretty awesome, espeically considering that for years I have had no fireworks on the 4th.

(photo: activerain.com)

Look at her face! she loved it!

I know it is the 11th and this post is a bit late for the 4th of July, but I am a bit slow with the picture uploading. It was fun to compare this year vs. last. Nice to have had both experiences, but great to be in America for Independence Day. Happy 4th!

8 July 2011


we are here and all is well. it has just been a really, really busy last few weeks. As way of a quick update, we have...

-decided to build a house. we have spent hours (and I mean hours) looking at lots, plans, design etc... and are still in the process of narrowing everything down.

-we have been trying to find cheap tickets to london. a bit of an oxymoron 'cheap tickets to london' but we have a return trip ticket for 22 september. but nothing that gets us from london back to america. we are working on that. seriously folks, how did tickets get so expensive? who has a spare $3,000 lying around? where is easy jet when you need it!

-as long as we are on the subject of trips, we are in the midst of planning a trip to Disney world. Little E is obsessive about Mickey Mouse so we thought it would be great fun. A little tip, use British travel sites to book things in America. 7 nights at a Disney resort, breakfast included, for $354! not each, total. Benefits of knowing where to look!

-we celebrated 4th of July in America for the first time in 6 years. Well, my first time in 6 years- Rhys and Ele's first time ever! it was awesome. pictures to come later...

-did I mention that we are building a house and that takes up a lot of time?

- E is almost two! I decided to go a little crazy this year. you know, like I didn't go crazy last year to...hmmm she had 3 one year party's. guess I just like birthdays. we are doing a mickey theme per eleri's request and it is next weekend. So excited!! and planning this has been super fun. what is not super fun is making mickey mouse invitations that require hand stitching. never again!

-we still go to the pool, and the park, and the splash pads everyday. we are making the most of the sunny, summer weather and it keeps up quite busy!

so that is us in a nut shell. whenever I find the camera, I will post pictures. but until then, happy weekend everyone!