22 February 2012


The Lenten season is officially upon us. It really snuck up on my this year. I usually spend some time thinking and praying about what the season will look like for me as an individual and us as a family. But before I knew it, Pancake Day was here. (Fat Tuesday/Madri Gras is called Pancake Day in Europe/UK. You make a pancake, which is really a crepe, sprinkle with lemon juice and caster sugar and eat away. To me, it is pretty gross, but everyone does it over there)

For those unfamiliar with the season, I found this definition of Lent that actually sums it up pretty well:

Lent is a time when many Christians observe a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ - his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.

Lent is commonly associated with giving up things like pop or ice cream, but at the heart of the season, it is meant to be a time of reflection and meditation on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Historically people have done that a variety of ways from specific foods, fasting, even self mutiliation and our modern church has their own take on the season. In our family it looks like this- Rhys and I both 'sacrifice' something while trying to take on the habit of continued reflection and meditation on the Word of God. Some years are more successful than others, but I find Lent a good time to be 'forced' to stop, slow down, reflect and really take stock of my hearts.

This year my precious husband is giving up ice cream. For those that do not know Rhys really well, that is a pretty huge deal. He eats ice cream every single day. Seriously folks, an overflowing bowl of ice cream every. single. day. It will be a sacrifice for him. I have decided to give up all the apps on my iPhone. I feel really foolish for writing that in a public setting for a number of reasons. One, I feel it is a little sad that I just used the sentence 'apps on my iPhone.' Two, it is also sad that I am so obsessive about said apps that it will actually be a sacrifice to not use them. Things like facebook, pinterest and the like. Sad? uh, probably.

One of my new years goals was to delete the facebook app from my phone so I would be fully present during the day. That has not happened. I don't mean to say that I am constantly on my phone, but it is, without a doubt, my biggest time waster. If I am really honest (again, feeling embarrassed and pathetic) whenever I am rushed or feeling too busy to get everything done, it is because I have wasted my time reading blogs, looking at pinterest or checking facebook. None of those things are inherently wrong, but the way I choose to poorly manage my time in relation to them is.

So last night before I went to sleep I deleted my apps. No more facebook, no more pinterest, no more blogger (or blog reading) for the entire Lenten season. Just to clarify, as my husband was confused, I am not giving up blogging or facebook for Lent. I am just not going to look at them on my iPhone. That might seem inconsequential to some of you, but in my world- that is a big deal! (again, sad but true)

Rhys doenst think I can do. Eleri asked me the other day to put my phone down. What do those things say? That I am communicating to my family that time spent with a tiny, electronic, black box is more important than they are. Clearly, Lent or not, it was time for the phone to go.

I am hoping that this season will prove to be a full and refreshing time. A chance to refocus and re-evaluate where energy, effort and heart really are. I know that there will be times- like waiting in doctors offices or nap time, when I really want the apps. But for cases such as those, I did leave one app on my phone. The Holy Bible. Time to catch up on my Bible reading and really meditate on scripture instead of catching up on what someone I once knew back in high school did last night.

Here is to a great Lenten season for everyone!

18 February 2012

the 18th

The 18th as a date seems to hold significance for Rhys and I as a couple. We got married on the 18th. We moved to the UK on the 18th. I got accepted for my British Citizenship on the 18th. Rhys had his US embassy approval for his green card on the 18th. (technically the paper came the 19th, but verbally it was the 18th) We moved to America on the 18th. and most recently we closed on our house on the 18th.

We dont plan it that way, it just happens. Strange, but true. And today is the 18th of February. Tonight Rhys and I are going to the TU basketball game, which is nothing particuarlly special except it will be something fun and different to do; but today also marks 10 months of living in America.

It has been a while since I have a done a "how I am doing since I moved back to America and am having a hard time adjusting" post. And since I know everyone is just dying to know about my life and my thoughts, I have decided to make everyones dream come true and write such a post! Hooray, hooray!

10 months and counting since we have been official residents of the United States. And I think that I can say- I have adjusted. The first few months were miserable. Seriously miserable. I couldn't think of one positive thing about living in America. Well, aside from my parents and chick-fil-a. About month 5 things started to perk up and we got more accustomed to the 'American' way of doing things. But I think my attitude, and heart, really changed when we moved into our house in December.

We finally had a place we could call our own. We could make our own rules and live our own lives. They way when wanted, in the time frame we wanted. It was a glorious sense of freedom. From that point on, it didn't seem to matter which country we were in, for the first time since summer 2009 we had our own place and were living as just Team Williams. The little things faded away and life seemed to fall into place. Not in a "oh life is sunshine and roses and nothing ever goes wrong" kind of way. For those that read my last few blog posts, you know that is not the case. But things just seemed to fit. Neither one of us were missing as much or gripping as much or wanting something different. Apparently at the base of it all, we wanted a place to be JUST our family. And when that happened- everything else slotted right in. Plus the amazing 'winter' weather helped too. Who doesn't love 70's and sunshine in January.

We have an amazing church here in Tulsa. Both Rhys and I have met and connected with people that we really enjoy, people who understand our hearts and have similar stories, experiences and goals. I have found some amazing women to be share life with and Rhys has connected with some great guys. The church has a broad world perspective as well as a local focus. The culture of the church is what we would have wished for but not thought possible in Tulsa. Having that community has made these last few months of transition a lot smoother.

Dont misunderstand. While I am fairly well 'adjusted' there are still times I really ache for our 'old life'. I miss bagging your own groceries, I miss every single store expecting you to bring in your own bags. gotta love the 'bag for life' concept that is everywhere. I miss public transportation. I miss chip shops. I miss fish and chips. I miss walkers crisps. I miss going to pubs to watch sports. I miss the local pub quiz. I miss the two rings that you hear when you call someone. I miss walking along high streets. I miss walking places. I miss sidewalks for that matter! I miss fair trade products everywhere- because people cared enough to fight for it. I miss the seasonal concept of fruit and veg. You didn't get everything all the time, just what was in season. I miss the variety of accents and trying to pick out what part of the UK they were from. I miss curry. I miss the variety of cultures that you interacted with everyday. I miss big red buses. I miss easy jet and ryanair and the ease of travel. I miss match of the day (shhh... dont tell Rhys I miss that one) I miss Live at the Apollo and Celebrity Juice. I even miss Eastenders. I miss Marks and Spencer. I even miss their 2 for 10 meal deal. I miss squash and winegums and tea cakes and biscuits and hobknobs and cadbury chocolate.

I still say things like bin and post. Not on purpose, but because it is still a habit. I have to watch myself because I spell with a 'U' in words like colour and favourite, and I use an 's' instead of 'z' in words like organise and realise. It takes effort on my part to go back and correct those things when writing. Habits are hard to break and part of me doesn't want to even try and break those. But I am trying, and eventually I will say trash can and mail without even blinking. But I hope that day is not anytime soon.

So see? I do feel as though I am adjusted, but I still miss (and love) so many things about the UK. The above list does not even come close to all the things that I miss and think about, most on a daily basis. Not to mention the people. The family and friends that we left behind and miss constantly. I wish we could just pop over to the Williams' for Sunday dinner. I wish that tonight I could go out with the baby girls on their night out (have fun everyone!) I wish that my Saturday mornings were still spent down at the Fullers watching Rhys, James, Dan, Oli, etc... play rugby. And I even wish that my Saturday nights were spent down at the pub with the rugby crowd until 2 or 3 in the morning. Although that is a bit unrealistic considering our life stage.

I can say I am adjusted and still so desperatly miss those things because my attitude has changed. I can remember and love the good about the UK, but now I can also see the good about America. More specifically the good about Tulsa. And not just family and chick-fil-a. There are hundrends of benefits to living in Tulsa. There are countless things that we like about it. And numerous ways that God has shown us this is exactly where we need to be. My heart is at peace and that is the first time I have been able to say that for a while. I still miss so many things about living overseas, but I am also grateful to be here, living in America.

And that is how I am doing 10 months on. Missing the UK, but enjoying America.

Happy 18th everyone!!

16 February 2012

my daughter is famous

We love Peppa Pig in our house. For those not familiar with Peppa, she is a cartoon pig, and a badly drawn one at that, who shares her daily life with Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and little brother George with millions of British children everyday. To say that the Peppa Pig brand in the UK is worth millions is to put it lightly.

They have toys, clothes, books, shoes, DVD's, candy, toothbrushes, magazines, stuffed animals, wash clothes, underwear and even an entire theme park dedicated to the little pink pig. Seriously, Peppa Pig's World opened last year complete with rides, giant life sized pigs walking around and more gift shops than you could imagine. Of course, we cannot wait to go :) If you can think of something- anything- they have it in 'Peppa Pig design'.

Naturally, we indulge the little ones habit. Our favourites include the Peppa Pig mobile phone and toothbrush holder; the toothbrush being used everyday of course.

And the Peppa Pig and friends school set, complete with desks and blackboard.

Sadly, it does not stop there. We also own, and use on a regular basis, the Peppa washcloths and towels, Peppa underwear, Peppa t-shirts, Peppa skirts and even Peppa leggings. Oh, did I mention the Peppa Pig socks and pajamas? and the Peppa hair clips. Just because those are not pictured, do not be fooled. They are still very present in our home. Sad? Probably.

However there is one redeeming factor about the love of Peppa Pig. The magazines.

Every month a new Peppa Pig magazine hits the racks. They are FULL of stuff. Not only do they come with 'prizes' attached to the front, but the inside is packed full of educational activities including work with numbers



colouring pages

and healthy snacks, hundreds of stickers and a 'make and take' section.

Talk about a 'busy bag' handed to you for 1.99! These magazines are AWESOME. Naturally, Eleri loves them. Every month they do a contest of sorts. There is a blank coloring page in the back of the magazine: you colour it, send it back with your picture and they choose a few winners each month. Guess who was the winner this month? Yup, Eleri!!

As it happens, I sent this entry in for Eleri back in October of 2010 so it has been a long time coming. Notice it says that Eleri is 1? well that's why. I also like that it says 'Eleri W.' because in the UK, Eleri is actually a common, regular name :) But check out that little face! How precious.

I can not even begin to describe the excitement when we received the magazine in the post (thanks Wales Williams' for sending it out!) She was thrilled to get a new Peppa magazine but oh man! when she saw herself in the magazine. I thought she might explode from excitement. I really wish I had it on video, it was that amazing.

Along with the picture being published, E also received this DVD as a prize

(look closely at the little character portraying America. Yup, a cowboy. Because obviously that is what Americans are all about)

and this poster saying Congrats!

Of course the poster is now hanging on the wall in her room, because where else would it go? :) She is so proud of herself. Mom and Dad are pretty proud too! Little E is famous, and pretty darn awesome!

15 February 2012

finally organizing

I love jewelry. It is true, I do. People find this odd because not only am I not really girly, but I usually end up wearing the same necklace every single day. If you met me within the last few months, you would think I only owned one piece of jewelry. But that is not the case. I love jewelry. It doesn't have to be fancy and 'real', although that is nice too. I like anything- especially big, bright and chunky.

Over the years I have tried numerous way to organize my jewelry. Boxes, cups, bulletin board with pegs, bags etc... But it just never seemed right. Things got tangled and mismatched. For my bracelets and earrings I finally settled on one of those handy storage things from Bed Bath and Beyond. You know the ones with all the different sized pockets? And that worked perfectly, but not for my necklaces.

Since we moved they have been sitting in various bags and piles. And often simply scattered around the floor. Obviously, the floor is a great place for jewelry.

I had all these fantastic ideas (from Pinterest) on how to hang and display. I even roped Rhys into helping me with a project. But it has stayed unfinished for weeks and I was tired of my necklaces laying around in heaps. So in frustration yesterday I went to the cupboard and rummaged around to find something that would work for my jewelry. I found a variety of plastic wall hooks. I thought, "that'll do" and viola!

It is not the craftiest or the prettiest. But it is organised- and color coordinated. That, for me, is a must! My closet and shoes are color coordinated as well. Perhaps that was a bit too much to share, kind of sound like a dork....But it is done and that is one less thing to unpack. Hey, I am getting there. Slowly, but surely.

14 February 2012

a follow up.

(Warning: Graphic Pictures. If you dont like stitches, then dont read.)

The last post was a bit of a downer. It's true, I was wallowing. Everyone wallows. It is, unfortunately, a part of life. But things really are better. Let me rephrase that- my attitude is better. Technically things have gotten worse.

Remember the stitches I mentioned last post? Well I reached back to assist my vomiting child (more on that later) and ended up pulling them. Not a pretty sight. And just in case you wanted to see.....

Gross, I know.

Then.... Eleri got sick. Really sick. Her fever never really dropped below 103 or 104 the entire weekend. From Friday right through today, this is what my little one has been doing.

Can you see her little head poking up from the blanket? She has laid there and half slept, half watched Mickey Mouse for days. Throw in some vomit and that is little E. We went to the doctor today and she has "a highly contagious throat infection." poor thing.

Then....on Saturday Rhys was working on his top secret Valentine's Day present for me. That is great on so many levels but mostly because he was making something and because we don't really do Valentines day so it was a neat surprise. And then it happened. He was wood carving and the knife got a bit carried away. It cut in such a way that the blood splatter made our kitchen look like a crime scene. It took a while to get the blood off the walls. A trip to the ER and 8 stitches later, this is what Rhys' thumb looks like.... (warning: it is gross)

So that is where we are. Rhys now has stitches. Eleri is really sick and me? Well I just kinds have to laugh at it all. In the grand scheme of life, our little set backs are not that major. Plus this last week we were blessed beyond words by some amazing friends. Friends that we have only known a few months, but friends that truly bent over backwards to help us out. Lisa who watched Eleri (pre sickness. dont worry I am not contaminating everyone) Tim who took Rhys to the ER at 11 at night, even though it was his birthday. Ally who talked to me until almost midnight because I just couldn't settle. Brooke, Sarah and the Mah's who brought us food on different nights. Such a blessing. I can not reiterate that enough. Such a blessing. It was incredible to feel so surrounded by love even through some difficult times.

So here we are today. And what did I do? I made a cake. A big, fat, lemon cake with extra lemon icing. Then I helped myself to a piece right in the middle. Because heck, it was the piece I wanted.

Served up with some sparkling lemonade and it turned out to be a pretty good evening.

Attitude, with the help of some friends, can make all the difference.

10 February 2012

to answer the questions...

Yesterday I really swam in it. Not just a dabble here and there, recovering quickly. Nope, I dove right in head first and wallowed around until my fingers were all pruney. Not an actual swimming pool mind you, I was merely swimming around in my own self pity. If there was ever a pity party, yesterday was it.

Let me back up a little bit. As everyone knows, I am pregnant. I am beyond thrilled with that fact. Not that I can say we struggled with fertility by any means, but it took about 6 months for us to get pregnant. And there was a miscarriage in there as well. So when the test was positive, I was a bit hesitant. After all, it was positive before. But then I started throwing up uncontrollably and I just knew- yup this is it. Pregnancy and vomit go hand in hand for me.

About week 12 I started getting itchy. I had heard that it was a pretty common pregnancy side effect and whilst I never experienced it with Eleri, I figured each pregnancy was different so that must be it. By week 14 it was unbearable. A deep, under the skin, can not be controlled, big, blotchy welts that kept me in tears for hours kind of itch. Yeah, it was miserable. I went into the doctor who, while kind, basically said its pregnancy- can't do anything about it. As I was leaving the office he called me back and said that there was a rare condition that pregnant women can get around 30 weeks that evidences itself through itching. He said about 1 in 4 million pregnant women get it and the chances of my having it, especially at 14 weeks were slim to none. But, since I was so miserable he would do the blood work just to check. Through my tears I said ok, anything!

The results came back two days later. I had the condition. Because I am just that awesome. What the tests showed was that I have a rare, advanced form of cholestasis. Basically it means my liver is not functioning. Toxins go straight to my baby, nothing gets weeded out. Along with some other complications that I have, the doctors have explained it to me in thirds. One third of a chance that my baby will be totally fine. One third of a chance that my baby will be born with birth defects such as blindness, limited brain development or organ problems due to toxins etc... and One third of a chance that my baby will die. The thirds only last until 30 weeks. Then it becomes an 80% chance that my baby will die. After 36 weeks the chance jumps to 90-100%. It is not a terminal pregnancy because there is a chance that everything could be just fine. But when it is spelled out, the chances dont seem really great.

To jump around for a moment and back up ever further, when I was pregnant with Eleri the doctors in the UK found cancer. It was spreading and they were concerned that it had, or was in the process of, spreading to my groin glands and then on to my liver. I had several operations and treatment and was put on the waiting list to have my liver checked for cancer. But as the government run nationalised health care system moves slowly- I am still on said waiting list.

Fast forward back to this pregnancy and the condition I now have is either just random or caused by a malignancy. My doctor knew of my past run in with malignancy so.... it all kind of went crazy after that. I was classed as 'high risk' for my pregnancy. I was referred to a specialist. And it was assumed that I had liver cancer. Tests were scheduled, doctor visit after doctor visit, scan after scan, and more blood draw than I would have thought possible- it was not a really fun few weeks.

The real low point was when a specialist suggested that I terminate the pregnancy to fully address the cancer issue. The fetus was making full testing inconvenient. I responded that sometimes my two year old is inconvenient to me, but that doesn't mean that the best solution is to have her killed. At this point I was 16 weeks, I knew the baby was girl, she had a name, and because of the intense ultrasounds we had some amazing pictures of her. There was no denying she was a child. And there was not a chance that anyone could ever convince me to kill her.

As it turns out, the testing they could do was sufficient. I do not have liver cancer. I never really felt like I did, but because it was a lingering issue from the UK, it was nice to have it fully checked and out of the way. And with that out of the way, other things could be addressed. Like the cholestasis.

The specialist I am seeing has never heard of someone having it so early. She has mentioned that even in the national and international research, they have never heard of someone getting it so early. They asked to do a case study of me. I have to take medicine twice a day, which is suppose to help with the itching and with the baby. But, as the doctors have mentioned on numerous occasions, they "have never heard of someone" taking the medicine for so long that they have no idea the side effects to me or baby- but they recommend I keep taking it. Aside from the medicine, I am tired all the time. Think first trimester tiredness multiplied times 80. Then add 5 billion. And because of the nature of the condition, I am constantly at the doctor. I have to be monitored every other week until I hit 28 weeks. At 28 weeks it is every week. And if the baby seems to be in distress any time from 28 weeks on, they will take the baby. I can also go no further in my pregnancy than 36 weeks, due to the heighten chance of 'still birth' No matter how it is said, it still sounds crappy. No discussing of birth plans for me, I know exactly how it will all happen.

When people ask me my due date I say May 6. Which is technically a lie. My baby will be delivered, most likely by c-section, the week of May 7- 11. I am 36 weeks on the 6th, which is a Sunday. Assuming everything is going well, I can have the baby any day of the following week before I hit 37 weeks. I am thinking the 7th or the 9th. Why? Because why not. I am not due until June 3rd. But when people ask how do I explain the situation? How can you sum that up? So I don't, I just say I am due May 6th.

And I don't tell people. Not because I am trying to be extra secretive, but because really, how do you tell people that whole story? And when people ask how you are- how many really want to know? So it is easier to avoid it. Or deny it. As seems to be the case with me more often than not. I push and push and go and go, pretending that nothing is wrong until I crash. And then meltdown.

Which is where I am now. I have an ear infection and potential sinus infection but can not take antibiotics with the other medicine I am taking. In fact, I can take nothing else with the special medicine. I have been advised to wait it out and see if it clears up on its own. Not fun waiting out an ear infection, let me tell you. If it doenst clear up then in a week or so I will have to stop taking baby medicine to take antibiotics and then go back to the other medicine. But again, that is not recommended.

I am also recovering from minor surgery. I use that term loosely because although the doctors called it that, I can hardly class what I had done as surgery. On Wednesday I went in to have spots removed that were melanoma. Apparently my pregnancy hormones and cancer go really well together. There have actually been some fascinating studies on the links between breast cancer and skin cancer and pregnancy. Interesting reads if you are ever curious. Anyway, so I had that done on Wednesday and am now uncomfortable with random stitches in my body. Stitches are not cool.

And yesterday it all became a little too much. To say that I had a pity party is putting a pretty face on the situation. I was ungrateful, selfish, mean and grumpy. I burst into tears and whined to Rhys about how I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to be excited about nursery decorations and painting and instead I wasn't even well enough to clear out the mess of boxes still in new baby's room. I complained about being so tired all the time that I couldn't do anything. And now, on top of everything, I have stitches. And then it got worse. To feel even more sorry for myself, I reminded Rhys that in two weeks when this set of stitches was healed and I could do things again, I had to go back in and have even more. Oh woe is me!!

Never mind that fact that I am able to actually get pregnant and carry a child. Never mind that fact that I am in a place where I can see excellent doctors and receive the care I need. Never mind the fact that I have a nice house to live in while other people are literally starving on the street. Oh no, that is not enough. Apparently it has to be perfectly decorated right now to make me happy.

I ended up swimming so much in my own pity that I fell asleep exhausted.

I woke up today tired, still feeling sick and with a sick child. E has a fever and is throwing up. Poor thing. But my attitude is better. I feel blessed for the things I have instead of whining about what is different. But I also woke up with a lot of questions. In my post yesterday I causally mentioned that I had stitches. In a previous post I mentioned 'complications' with this pregnancy. In my inbox and on facebook I had several questions from friends asking what it was all about. So this it is. This is what it is all about. On most days I am totally fine with everything, because in the grand scheme of life it is not that bad at all. But on some days- like yesterday- I just want to sit down and have a good whine about it all. And I suppose that is ok too. (in moderation folks, in moderation)

9 February 2012

a room of her own

Before I get into anything else, an apology is in order. I sincerely apologise for my poor writing on the last post. When I post on the blog, rarely do I proofread. I type what is in my head and then hit post. There is the random missing word and spelling mistake, along with the interchanging of British and American spelling and terminology, but usually small things that I can live with. However, the last post was a different story entirely. I reread it today- because it had pictures and those are always fun- and I was appalled!. I actually had the following sentence (if you can call it that) in my post "This may seem fairly normal for a lot of you, but for so long I was at stay at home mom without a home to stay at home in that it has been a BIG adjustment for me to get used to just being home. (could I use the word home anymore times in one sentence?!)"

Seriously? I actually hit the 'publish post' button with that sentence. Crap. I need to start proof reading.

That said, on to the real post of the day. The kiddo's rooms.

Someone asked me the other day if I had started working on Lowri's nursery yet. Hmmm, no. It had not actually occurred to me that I could do that. Eleri never had a nursery. In fact, until we moved into our house in December, Eleri never had a room of her own. I never painted or picked colours or made special decorations for E as a baby because we had a one room flat. She had a little nook of our room with a crib and a mobile. She never got a fun transition from crib to big girl room with special big girl things because we were living with parents. She was in some variation of a guest room. Until now, now she has a room. And for some reason, it took someone asking about Lowri for me to realise that I could decorate not just a nursery, but Eleri's room as well.

Two rooms to design and decorate!! If I felt like I could get away with it, I would add another 3 million exclamation points on the end of that last sentence because that is how excited I am.

I have been looking online and in magazine and, of course, pinterest. I have come up with loads of ideas and have started implementing them this week. Since I already have bedding for both the girls. (Pottery Barn, Brooke. It is awesome!) I have a colour scheme already picked out. Coral, blue and green- I am excited. My plans took a slight detour as a result of some stitches I had to get, so I am only able to do the 'calm' things that I can sit down for. Which means that all week my table has looked like this

and i am painting things like this

and this.

and then re-painting it to look like this

and i am still not decided if it will stay like this or not!

I am making things like door signs (because Hey, I can)

There has also been furniture arranging, wall hanging and painting and general organization. I am not posting pictures of those things just yet because I want everything to be in place first.

I am grateful for my friends question about Lowri's nursery. Without her who knows if I ever would have realised that I can decorate the kiddo's rooms. Apparently I am slow like that, ha! My plan is to have both rooms painted, organized and completely finished by the end of this month. But you know what they say about the best laid plans....