Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Birthday Nana!

Happy Birthday, Nana! I love you so much! You are so special. Spending time with you is so much fun. Here are some of my favorite things to do with you...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

raw potatoes

1. Cold fronts from Russia make for beautiful snowy mornings in Chelmsford.

2. Only old people go to church in Chelmsford. The music at Trinity Methodist Church was EXTREEMLY loud this morning. In fact, everything was. I found myself in need of ear plugs very quickly. No sooner did I look around to find that everyone around me was wearing, not ear plugs, but hearing aids. I got excited when I saw a small group of young children sitting in the front, thinking, well surly they must have parents that haven’t quite hit the hearing loss age. To my dismay, it was girlscout/boyscout Sunday and they were just there for the day. Not only that, but their parents did not even come to the service. The families were all lined up outside to get their kids. Goal for next week… find a church with at least one person under the age of 65!

3. Currently watching the movie The Holiday as I type this. I decided to get out of the big city and tool around in Surrey, where the movie was filmed, or at least parts of it. So, off to Godalming, Surrey I went, in search of a road! Beautiful, quant town. Quiet. Less pollution (noise and air). I went with a girl from work and two other girls and we ate at a natural café and then went to Granny’s bakery and had a flap (oats and chocolate chips all melted together with butter!! Yummy!)

4. After church I walked to Tesscos (cheap grocery store)… I must say… after walking three plus miles to the store, I was way to tired to cook anything I had purchased.

5. Small blessings… God has been so amazing in the ways he has provided for me as of late (and always). A few fun examples…
a. I purchased some black trainers (sneakers) as all this walking is about to kill me. I found a pair of Lonsdale trainers for only 12 pounds at a sports store. Now, I tried the shoe on my left foot, liked the price and went ahead and purchased them. I put them on (all black so I can wear them with my dress pants) and went to a school visit. About ¾ of a mile later, I realized that my right foot is larger than my left and am pretty sure that subsequently, my right foot was in an extraordinary amount of pain. SO much for cheap shoes. However, too cheap to buy more shoes, I put them on the next day and WHAAAA LAAAA, I haven’t had a problem since. They fit and are soooo comfortable. I’m in foot comfortable heaven!
b. As of late, I have been provided with A* (they don’t receive +’s in this country) transportation service. Where I normally have to wait for 10-20 min. in the cold for the next train, I have literally arrived at the station in just the nick of time… right as the train is about to leave the station. NO wait… and then, I’ve arrived at the transfer station just in time to catch my connecting train right before it pulls off. It’s been fabulous.
c. I’ve made a decision to keep about half of my paycheck (we get paid weekly) in the bank for future travel/savings to bring back to the U.S. Thus, I am forcing myself to survive on less. In doing this, I find that some weeks the budget is quite tight. So, rent was due yesterday, which meant that I had just 20 pounds left in my wallet after tithing this morning. Now, that 20 pounds needed to last me until NEXT Monday! Additionally, I had just about no food in my cupboards, little money on my pay as you go phone, and told a co-worker that I would pick up a bag for her in Chelmsford (unaware how much it would cost). Side note: there was this olive green scarf that I have been eyeing and wanted very badly! So, after church I walked to the town centre and just happened to pass a store I had never seen before that was going out of business (thank you economic recession). Anyways, as I passed by the storefront, the very olive green scarf that I’ve been wanting was there with a Clearance 1 pound sign next to it. I got my green scarf for a pound (I had it in change so I didn’t even have to break my 20). Additionally, I was able to get one in blue for my roommate whose birthday just passed. Then, I trotted off, faint snow falling on my face, to the futon store where I saw the bag that my co-worker wanted. (Mom, it’s the same as the green one you got me for Christmas. I saw the same ones n a store here). My co-worker saw mine and liked it. I told her I saw them in Chelmsford and offered to pick one up for her. So, I got to the store and they had two left, one sale for 4.95 pounds. I had 3.75 in change and then my 20 note. The lady at the small shop didn’t have any change. After asking a customer if they had change, a nice made handed me two pounds and said, “We’ve got to look out for our fellow country’s people.” I thanked him several times and even offered to give him the change that I had. He said no. What a blessing!! First, he didn’t have to do that at all, then he could have taken my change or only given me the 1.20 that I needed. But no, he gave me two whole pounds. What a blessing. I was instantly reminded of the story of the 5,000. I kept thinking of how the Lord took what I had and made it enough for what I needed, which I thought was impossible. I love how the Lord delights in the impossible.
d. My aunt’s got me a gift certificate to a store here in England for Christmas (so sweet of them to think ahead like that). Well… it came in the mail two days ago!! Perfect timing… I think so!!
e. Next fun story… still with my 20 pounds in my wallet I headed to Tessco where I got enough food to last me for the week (about 14 pounds) and then had just enough to put 5 pounds on my phone. God truly provided everything I needed.
f. And, my favorite… God is using time and distance apart to really push Jeff and I to rely on Him. It has been nothing short of amazing to see the many ways in which God is working in our relationship. Things are just fantastic. I could not be more happy ☺

6. I’m being a good roommate tonight. Leena’s birthday was Friday and some of the housemates are going to Frankie and Benny’s to eat. Sounds fancy, sounds expensive. Might have to use the card for that one and do a little direct debting action. Boo!! Oh well, I can be a good roommate!! Should be fun, and I sure wouldn’t pay to go there myself. There is also about a foot of snow on the ground… so beautiful, yet so cold!!! I’d rather just snuggle up with a good movie I think. BUT, I’ll be a good roommate!!

7. I really like eating raw potatoes. Slice them up… yummy, it’s like a healthy French fry!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Exhausted in England

Yes, I’m alive!! Too exhausted to write, but alive none-the-less.

A few of my recent adventures…

1. Spend Saturday walking around the town of Chelmsford. First time I’ve really seen it in the daylight. So beautiful. The market was fabulous and there is a small (kind of muddy water) river that runs though the middle of town. Lots of great shops and LOTS of great sales (thank you official economic recession!)
2. Q-tips are IMPOSSIBLE to find and are apparently called cotton wool buds. Ok, I know q-tip is a name brand, and I’ll buy the cotton bud… but wool?!? Come on… there is no wool on that little stick.
3. Band-aids. I bought some new flats (all this walking is just killing my feet). However, my excitement over my cute pink flats was short lived when I felt them rubbing at the back of my heels all morning. I asked around for a band-aid. Apparently they don’t keep them in the first aid kit at work because people are allergic to the sticky part. What people?!? How many people?!? It is covered, just don’t use it if you are allergic. Anyways, those are also called something different. Plasters… plasters!?!?! Plasters?!?! Like are we using plaster to plaster something?!?! Again, very strange.
4. I’ve realized that rail construction happens consistently every Sunday, making my commute into central London for church a bit difficult. My alternative = church in Chelmsford. My first experience this Sunday… let’s just say it left a little to be desired. Nice people, all twenty-five of them! Most with grandchildren that are probably older than me. And, it was communion Sunday, which I was excited about . The bread, which looked and tasted like an undercooked hamburger bun was just the right size for the congregation. However, the wine (yes wine, not juice)… well I can’t comment on that. I passed. Old Gertrude to my left and Trudy (names made up) were coughing and wheezing the whole time… pneumonia, flu, who knows?!?! So when they started passing the cup and everyone started drinking out of it… yeah, I know my immune system works on overdrive… but there was no way my lips were going anywhere near that germ infested cup. I think God forgives me. He heard those ladies coughing up a lung too. They sounded awful.
5. Work is going much better. A few weeks in and I THINK I have finally oriented myself with what exactly I am supposed to be doing. And my co-workers are just fabulous. It is so nice to enjoy the people you are working with.

Ok, I do believe at 8:30 pm my eyes are slowing drifting off to sleep. Long exhausting days, but so exciting!

Up-coming events… Norway (February 19th), Julia (beginning of May) coming to visit & Jeff coming to visit (April 3)!!! I’m so excited ☺

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pay-as-you-go internet…

*Please note that the following e-mail is all in jest as I am thoroughly enjoying my time here and would like to take a moment to poke fun at some of the obscene and crazy things I’ve learned about the British culture.

Not only do we eat in excess, but I’ve realized that in America we just consume more in general, of everything!!! All you can eat food buffets, unlimited phone calls, unlimited e-mails, big fridges, big meals, BIG BIG BIG!!! All of that to say, it’s been hard adjusting from my BIG American ways. Pay as you go phones, pay as you go Internet, smaller portions, smaller fridges, smaller washers…small small small when you are used to BIG BIG BIG makes it hard to not want MORE MORE MORE! Hello?!?! Who wants to pay some ridiculous minutely rate for Internet in the comfort of their own home? Who wants to finish their McFlurry in 5 bites? Who wants to search all over town for a BIG, American style salad, only to find a few pieces of ice burg lettuce, covered in cooked processed noodles, smothered in cold grated cheese and prawns, with a LARGE (yeah, the one big thing in this country) pile of salad dressing… i.e. mayo!! Are you kidding me?!?! Can I please get an O’Charley’s grilled chicken salad with honey mustard… or an oriental chicken salad from Sports Page… yummy!! I’m salivating at the thought! Life is good, London is great, but I really need a salad!!

So, I’ve officially moved to Chelmsford Essex, right outside of London. A cross between busy London and beautiful countryside town. I like it a lot. British people actually live here (opposed to the melting pot known as London, not that I didn’t enjoy that a great deal as well), I feel very safe, and the town is quite quaint… it’s a nice fit for me. Rent is much cheaper as well, but such luxury is quickly offset by the exuberant price I must pay to travel into London for work. To go from my train stop to the rail stop at my work it will cost me 199 pounds/month… and that doesn’t get me anywhere else, no other bus, tub, or anything!!! So, for about three hundred dollars a month, you too could enjoy a quick ride on the rail system!! Get less, pay more!! I’m giving this country a new motto!! It should also be noted that in order to actually get less, while paying more, you also have a limited time frame to work with, and NO, I am not talking about the fact that the sun does not rise until 8:30 and it sets by 4:15 (i.e. its only out while I am at work, inside a building!). Stores tend to close shop at about 6:00, so make sure you shop after work, as they will be closed by the time you make it to your stop and get off the train. Only in America do we have the luxury of choosing if we want to go stop by the store on the way home from work or after we’ve eaten dinner and changed clothes.

Ok… back to my point. I’m living in Chelmsford in a house with 4 other people, whom I rarely see. This could be because I get up at 6 am and do not return home until 7:30 pm, at which point they are all either at work or at the pub. Either way, it’s nice to have piece and quiet and not be totally alone either. I’m quite pleased with my living accommodations. Having said that… it would be nice to have a washing machine that hold more than 3 pairs of pants at a time, a dryer would be nice in general (make sure you have AT LEAST three days worth of clothes as it takes at least that long for clothes to air dry. It is completely normal to walk in a home and see someone knickers/undies, socks, and any other garment hanging from every radiator and ledge available), or even a fridge that is at least slightly larger than the ones you find in college dorm rooms in the U.S. (yes, we have a fridge that most college students would use to hold a few bottles of water and a left over box… and all five of us share it!) That whole smaller thing really applies here… no buying groceries for a week… one must buy what they intend to use only that day or the next (no processed and preservatives here either, so food wouldn’t last much past that anyways). This does make it rather difficult though when all of the stores are closed and you are forced to pay even more exuberant prices at the co-op on the corner, which thankfully stays open until 10:00 pm.

So, rewind backwards for a moment and I will walk you through a day in the life of Me! I wake up at 6:00, make my bed (you’d be so proud, mom) and sleepy find my way, 5 steps to be exact, to the bathroom. I pull the string to turn on the light, and then also pull the string right next to it to turn on the shower (yeah, took me about 20 minutes to figure this out the first time I tried to take a shower, I thought I was going to be late for work… a string on the other side of the room to turn the shower on?!?!), and the quickly take my shower… quite nice that my roommates work late and I have the house to myself in the morning… no one waiting for the bathroom makes things much nicer.

I hang my towels over the radiator to dry, nothing like a warm towel in the morning, put on my nice work clothes with my trainers (sneakers), and throw my work shoes in my bag. Then, I bundle up… always a hat, scarf and gloves (the scarf is the quintessential London accessory for both men and women), and quickly head out the door at 7:00. Now, you must realize that at 7:00 it is still pitch black and quite chilly. Depending on how close to making it out the door by 7:00 I actually am I either peacefully stroll, or hurriedly run walk to the train station, exactly 1.4 miles away (which I only know after using an American Search engine as things here are not measure in miles… so difficult… who knows meters?!?!). Most morning, I find myself in race care mode… I view others as competing race cars and think, “ok, take um on the inside,” determined to pass by them and make it to the rail station before they do. Such thoughts are necessary for several reasons: 1. I’ve been walking way too long and am out of other things to think about 2. I feel slightly as though I need to justify wearing trainers with nice business clothes while all those around me are rocking their high London fashionista heeled, tall boots. I might be out of style, but I won’t miss the train! I’ve yet to beat the men though… each morning I am determined to keep up with their pace and each morning I eat their dust. There is one gentleman that waves good-bye to his wife and ends up walking in front of me just about every morning. A shorter gentleman, so I am convinced his stride can be no longer than mine, but man can he book it!! He walks faster than I can run. I swear he catches the one before the 7:39 that I get on. It’s just crazy!! So yeah, that would be my morning walk/run. Now, the first few mornings, upon arriving at the train station I would have to wait in a queue (line) to purchase a ticket. It is much cheaper to purchase either a monthly or weekly pass. So, being as frugal as possible, I had all intentions of doing so, until I was informed that this involved having a passport sized photo id for my travel card. Now, had this been the first time such a thing was requested, no problem. However, I brought three extra passport size photo ids to London with me and you should know that by that point there were all already used. Are you kidding me?!?! I didn’t know you were supposed to bring a large collection of miniature self photos with you when you traveled. No worries, 4 shops later, I finally found somewhere to take my picture and was finally able to get my weekly travel card.
So, where does that leave us, right… on the train. Wait, first we have to get on the train… easier said than done. At each door entrance there is a huddle of about 25 people, all waiting for the 30 seconds that the door is open to try and cram into the same little opening to occupy the same little spot on the train. I learned quickly that not everyone fits and thus, it is important to arrive early to hold your unofficially spot in the queue. Thankfully I have yet to get left behind. ::tap on wood:: (they prefer to tap on wood here rather than knock as we do in America)… I suppose knocking would be more like consuming a Big Mac where as tapping would be a half of a single cheese burger… again with the less is more theme!! So yeah… once on the train, realizing what a feet it is to even get to that point, you are forced to stand, SILENTLY, and you must not make eye contact with anyone at any time. From someone who is as gregarious as I am, this who no talking thing is a bit difficult. Silence really does feel deadly sometimes. So yes, while in the queue and on the train, NO TALKING!!! This is OK however as standard train riders all have their noses in “the Metro” the free paper that you are supposed to grab at the top of the stairs. Not realizing it was free until just a few days ago, I’d been waiting until an unsuspecting passenger set theirs on the set and disembarked the train… and here I thought I was getting a good deal… should have known there is no such thing here. So yeah, about this paper that everyone reads in silence, while balancing (not so hard when you are so jam packed, except for the first class passengers, who have their own part of the train that they ride in, and who can be picked out even before getting on the train as they have newspaper that tell of finances and other important matters and that actually cost money). “the Metro” is useful for catching you up on how crappy Americans are, how over played football (soccer) players are, and all of the latest fashion news. Occasionally a small section will appear on the side of some inner page regarding war in the Gaza strip or important environmental issues. One must look carefully for such news though. Bill Bryson in his book, Notes from a Small Island (I would highly recommend it if you are interested in the crazy ways of the British) states it best when he states that, “If your concept of world geography was based entirely by the content of British newspapers and television, you would conclude that America must be about where Ireland is, that France and Germany lie roughly alongside the Azores, that Australia occupies a hot zone somewhere in the region of the Middle East, and that pretty much all other sovereign states are either mythical (e.g., Burundi, El Salvador, Mongolia and Bhutan) or can be only reached by spaceship. Consider the acres of newspaper space in Britain devoted to marginal American figures like Oliver North, Lorena Bobbitt, and O.J. Simpson, and compare that with all the news reported in a year from Scandinavia, Australia, Switzerland, Greece, Portugal, and Spain and you will see what I mean. If there is a political crisis in Italy or a nuclear spill in Karlsruhe, it gets maybe eight includes on an inside page. But if some woman in Crapville (word changed), West Virginia cuts off her husbands finger (word changed) and flings it out the window in a fit of pique, it’s second lead on the Nine O’clock News and the Sunday News Times is mobilizing its investigation unit.” I have to say, Bill is right on in his book. He also points out that if asking for directions, “a distance that most Americans would usually go for a taco,” British will puff their cheeks and tell you how far it is and how awful the traffic is, due to a million different road constructions, on the way to get there.

Ok, back to a day in the life… on the train, switch stops in Shenfield (if I hurry I get right off the #3 and onto the #5 before it departs)… from there I get off at Romford station and walk less than a quarter mile to work. So, in the course of 2 hours I have bathed, worked out (in my work clothes), education myself on pretty needless matters, and made it to work. Beautiful. It should also be noted that Romford is apparently one of the toughest boroughs to work in. Interesting. However, it is surrounded by tons of shops, so it is perfect for running errands on one’s lunch break.

Ok, side tracked again… at work… lots of badge swiping… make it to my desk… take off the thousands of layers (hanging my jacket on my chair and not the coat rack as everyone in the office, and London, has black long jackets, and my boss accidentally wore mine out one day, meaning it was not there for me to wear at lunch)… start up my computer… take my tea mug and fill it with horrible tasting milk (if you drink it plane) out of the kitchen… yes, I use tea milk for my cereal… but it is fountain style… push the button and it comes out… there is plenty!! And I consider it my consolation for my long, expensive trek into work every morning, which is no one’s fault by my own. But lots of people drink the milk and use it for cereal, so I really do think it is ok. However, I put it in my tea cup just in case… and then I dump it in my container full of Musseli (granola) when I get back to my desk!! Lol So yeah, I check my e-mail quickly (as I did not have Internet at home until I paid a small fortune tonight for pay as you go Internet) and thus, could only check it at work. And then, the day begins… hundred of phone calls (we don’t have voicemail here so someone has to answer any time a call comes though… its really nice actually.. FOR THE PEOPLE CALLING IN, and FOR THE PEOPLE CALLING IN ONLY!!!)… I make a few referrals, set up a few visits, fill out LOTS of paperwork, more paperwork, more paper work, entering all the paper work into the system as we don’t use paper files at all here (nice until the computer goes down or the power goes out, which has happened twice in the two weeks I have been there)… then, I might make a home visit or participate in a planning mtg. (I got lost for the last one and ended up taking a ride, with my co-worker, with a stranger…. Nice British woman… but a stranger none-the less… always an adventure with me!!)… and the day is over and I am on my way back home… where I have the luxury of reading another free newspaper (often a repeat of the same stories from the morning just worded differently!) Then, 1.4 miles back home where I eat dinner and go to bed. That about sums it up!!! Speaking of going to bed, its 10:43 (5:43 Charlotte time and 2:42 Seattle time)… crazy!! Time for bed for me!!

So, to conclude, if you can’t get your child to read, put them on the train… even I succumbed to the pressure to shut up and read and have been thoroughly enjoying Bill Bryson’s book each morning on my way into work.

Summary: Carina is not living the posh life. NO dishwasher (which I like), only three channels on the t.v. (which I also life), separate faucet for hot and cold water int eh sink (don’t like at all, makes washing your hands or face either very hot or very cold!!), no dishwasher (which I don’t mind, hand washing dishes is relaxing when they are your own.. or Jeffs ☺), TINY washer (its ok), no dryer (air drying smells fresh ☺, and the crispy dried on a radiator feelings goes away after a while, I promise), and a tiny fridge (helps keep down on wasting food)… so, all good in theory, just takes a little getting used to. Did I mention that they don’t sell tuna in water, only in Brine… ewwwww!!!


Praise: after dousing myself with steroid crème, the spots are slowing gong away and the itching is down to a minimal (as I begin to itch just thinking about it, lol).
Prayer: as the weather gets more damp, my body is becoming very stiff and sore because of the spondolytis… please pray for healing!!

*Aunt Audrey… the closest M&S is the one in Romford, where I work… I can go on my lunch break at work when it is light outside!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sigh of Relief

Such sweet encouragement has rolled my way this week. I’m so thankful for all of my e-mailers, facebook massagers and blog messengers. It is so nice to feel so cared for! Additionally, I am quite excited to know that people are actually reading my blog.

I experienced a day or two of anxiety and frustration and thought it might be better to wait until the storm had passed before writing again. I feel so blessed to be here and am absolutely loving my experience and I didn’t want a bad day to result in a negative blog post. I have made a conscious effort to choose joy!!

All of that to say, joy really does come in the morning. I awoke this morning to a sense of peace and comfort and had a fantastic day. (I’m sure the fact that it is Friday didn’t hurt the situation either!)

So, I waited to tell you about the past few days until I reached a point where I could tell them more as narration as I was able to see God’s grace through them! I am proud to say that I am at that point.
In a nut shell.. Its been as low as negative 8 and I’ve been staying an a flat that has two tiny space heaters, excuse me… metal panels that heat up, but DO NOT radiate heat. Waking up at 5:15 (always to a very sweet wake-up call I might add), traveling an hour and a half, a first week of work at a CRAZY job (I was given cases and did a home visit my first day… still haven’t gotten any training so I don’t have clue what I am doing… hit the ground running has a whole new meaning), back on the train fighting rush hour for an hour and forty five minutes (switching between the rail and two tube lines) and then a frigid walk home… getting in the door around 7 or 7:30 and SURPRISE… FREEZING!!! However, all of that was fine… it was realizing that I have to pay 199 pounds (almost three hundred dollars) a month to commute to work (and that only gets me to work, no where else) in addition to a mile and a half walk each way (which should do me good as they eat buscuits, aka: cookies, all day long in the office)… and having to pay what seems like a batrillion pounds anytime I want to travel anywhere else that really put me over the edge.

As I said, the above is just to catch you up on the past few days as all situations have resided and I am joyful again. I’ve decided that I have a complete peace about where I am staying and my low cost of living, despite the expensive transportation costs, actually leaves me better in the end. Additionally, I love walking and I am thankful for the opportunity to start my day in the fresh air, taking in the beauty around me and getting lots of great exercise in the process. Nothing like a workout that you have to do every day!! I’m excited. I’ve met one of my roommates as well (Oliver/Ollie) and he was very nice (I am living in a co-ed house. I was hoping to get an all female room-share, but I’ve come to realize that 99.99999999999999999 percent of housing here in terms of house shares are co-ed. I suppose I’ll get to experience what it would be like if I had a brother.) All is going to be good. SO, I am VERY Excited to move into my new home tomorrow (and praying they keep the heat REALLY high). If not, however, several of the Americans at work, who are also FREEZING here, recommending paying 5 pounds and getting a stuffed animal that is stuffed with a water bottle. You fill the water bottle up with scalding water from the tea kettle and snuggle with it. I snuggled up with Sir Reginald of Romford (area I work in and purchased him in) last night and slept like a baby! Much warmer!!! ☺

So, housing… very excited! Warmth… yeah for stuffed tigers!! And… work… four days in and I’m finally getting the hang of things. Additionally, I could not ask for better co-workers, including the former Nancy Negative. While she did tell me to quite being so happy and joyful this morning, we had lunch together and engaged in a really great conversation about her life. Having opened up with me it really changed things and she is much more positive now. Almost as if now that I know how awful her life was at points she doesn’t need to constantly tell me and we can move on. It was nice that she felt comfortable to share with me so openly. So, yeah for great co-workers!! There are several other REALLY sweet girls in the office too!! I’m very excited about that, all whom were very concerned for me with regard to my housing and jumped right in to help me look for another place to stay. Also, Mae, my friend that started in another department the same day that I did, also from the U.S. was headed into London this evening to meet a friend. She invited me to the pub for a drink with them! While not much of a pub/bar girl, I’ve resided myself to the fact that having a drink after work is more of a social experience and so I willingly tagged along. Sorry to disappoint, but I couldn’t bring myself to order a beer. GROSS!! At some point I’d like to try one, just to say I have. But I’d like to wait for a time when I am a little more financially set before I blow money on a half-pint knowing I wont make it past one sip. Apparently, the beer here is much smoother, and Guinness has a widget, a small ball of nitrogen, in it that enters the can when you open it and makes it taste better. Also, most people order ½ Guinness and ½ black currant (a fruit something or other I think). So, while I failed to take on the full pub experience, I did have a great time hanging out with Mae and her friend from Boulder, CO.

I’m so excited to be here and for all of the experiences that I am having and the friends that I am meeting. A few prayer requests…
1. That I might continue to build deeper relationships with those that I have met as well as other great relationship with those I have yet to meet.
2. I don’t know much about my roommates (Leena, Olie and Leena’s boyfriend)… please pray that things go well in all regards.
3. A combination of stress, bad eating (lots of peanut butter and banana sandwiches) and the weather, I am experiencing a lot of “spondo” related pain. The good news is that I am much less stressed, I should be able to go grocery shopping and have access to an actual kitchen tomorrow, and it is apparently getting warmer. So, things are looking up!!! However, I would love prayers for increased mobility and less consistent pain.

Happily a Chelmsford resident,

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

FREEZING in London!/First Day of Work

Can’t feel my fingers so bullet points will have to work (all those who have said my blog is too long to read the whole thing will appreciate this entry!)

- Finally getting the hang of telling military time (kind of, requires way to much thinking) and writing the date as dd/mm/yy. 02-01-09 is not February 1st but January 2nd. I still find myself trying to enter cars on the wrong side and have absolutely no idea what way to look when crossing the road. When thinking of the America ways I keep tell myself how inapplicable the following quote is for the American mindset, “Why are you trying to fit in when you were born to stand out.” (quote shout out for Anu!) Can’t America just try to fit it with regards to some of these things so that they don’t throw me for such a loop!!
- Forget technology, a good foundation brush and travel jewelry bag (thank you mom and dad) is where it is at.
- I had a surprise wake-up call at 5:20 this morning from sweet Jeff!! So thoughtful (he set his alarm for 12:20 to wake-up and call me)! And yes, he is constantly doing sweet things like that. What a great start to my first day of work!
- Using public transportation is like running and “OJ” through the airport every day on your way to work. A great little cardio work out first thing in the morning (hence my fashionable white chucks with my dress clothes, heels in bag). Sidenote: It’s heartbreaking as the door for the tube close and you see running bodies suddenly halt, angery looks on their faces, as their bags whale about their bodies and their lips mutter words that it is probably best that I cannot hear.
- While I have mastered the tube, including the infamous run from one tube line to another, I have yet to master the railway. I find myself hopping on one of 18 rail trains and HOPING with everything in me that: 1. The train is actually going to Romford and 2. It will actually stop at the Romford stop (as many go by but do not pass)! My theory: ask at least two people when getting on the train if it stops in Romford. While not logical or practical, it hasn’t failed me yet!
- It was so cold here today that 11 schools were canceled. CRAZY!! Have I mentioned we have no centralized heat and my only source of warmth in my basement, might as well be an ice chest, don’t need to put milk in the fridge because it says cold out on the counter, flat is a small metal panel that heats up and is supposed to radiate heat to the room (hummm, that is like turning your oven on warm, leaving it closed and expecting it to heat the whole house. Dream on! Praying for heat in my new place in Chelmsford!! And very thankful to have be given gloves and a scarf for Christmas (thank you, Jeff!)
- To fit in on the tube you must: be either reading a newspaper or novel & be wearing a pea coat of some kind (color, length, etc… does not matter! I’ve seen it all!)
- I feel incredibly blessed to be making a few more pounds/hour than originally told and more than many of the other people in my program. Again, total Favor (spelled favour here!) I was shocked to find out that I am actually making five pounds more than that, that my placing agency kindly takes. For real, 5 pounds a hour for all 6 months… just for helping me find a job. Lame city!!
- Because there are no preservatives and things in the food here, the shelf life is very short. Don’t buy more than you can eat in a day or two. (hence fridges the size of the ones we would use in our college dorm rooms back home).
- Organic products and free range eggs are so standard here, even subway and McDonalds only use them.
- I wonder how people on their stops don’t miss the tube in the morning, many look fast asleep, with their eyes clothes and mouths wide open. So funny to watch. It’s a wonder I don’t miss the tube with as much people watching I do.
- I paid 47.60 pounds for a travel card (with my Oyster Card discount) for the week. Seriously!?!? Thankfully I only have to travel from zone 1 – zone 6 this week. Praying that travel from Chelmsford to Romsford is cheaper!!
- Blessing: I believe I will have enough money to last me until my first paycheck!! (We are paid weekly here).
- I started my job today! Fabulous!! As soon as I arrived I was given three files, told to read up and that I would have a house visit at 11:00. So much for orientation. I was offered a cup of tea. I said yes to be polite… however, the Borough is green and doesn’t use disposable cups, so I was instructed to grab a mug off the counter and wash it out. But, no soap. EWW, crusty old tea in the bottom and all I could do was rinse it. I used to most scalding hot water I could and hoped for the best (tea ring still in the bottom as I prepared my tea). EWWW!!! My high level of sanitation has been severely compromised since being here. All worth it…
- They drink tea and eat biscuits (cookies) all day long!
- On the way to the home visit (my supervisor drove me) I found myself getting severely car sick and nauseous. Blahhh – drivers here are crazy. Lucky (or unlucky) or me… I get to attempt to take the bus to my client’s house tomorrow… goodness! I hope I can find it!
- I met a new friend. A girl, who is from Oregon and also came from UK-Pro, also started today. So cool, I think we are going to be great friends. I fore see lots of traveling adventures in our future.
- Everyone at the office was so nice. I liked it so much. However, the lady to my left, also American – from South Dakota, complained the entire day about EVERYTHING. Such a drainer. What happened to being an optimist!?!?!
- There are these incredible advertisements here, put out by the bank, which show two objects, e.g. chocolate cake in one from (with the words good) and then broccoli (with the word bad) and then flipped… chocolate cake with the words bad, and broccoli with the word good. IT then mentions how things are a matter of perspective. There are several of these… a teddy bear and a man in a tribal mask (scary, comforting, comforting, scary), a biker tattoo and a henna tattoo (cultural, trendy, trendy, cultural), etc… SO COOL!!!! Perhaps I should share that with the lady that sits next to me. We are in LONDON!!!! BE HAPPY!!! CHOOSE JOY!!
- The UK system is so different… in the US a social service job is generally lower pay and considered a bachelor level position. IN the UK, child protecton work is reserved for high qualified social workers and the pay is very good. Family support workers (family therapists) are not even qualified social workers and make little pay. SO different, but I appreciate the importance and value placed on those working in the line of fire!
- the voltage is so much higher here that my blow dyer (used with the UK adaptor) coils look like that are on fire… I think I might need to get a UK one.. it seems a little not safe!
- It is so difficult to find vegetables here and my water consumption (based on sheer convenience) has decreased tremendously. Crazy how quickly your body can begin to feel sluggish and icky. It makes me appreciate how wonderful it feels to live a healthy life style. No more eating out… icky!!! Back to healthy for me. (Said after having ice cream tonight… yes, so cold and I had ice cream!) I am not normal!

SO much for keeping this short…

Jealous of your warm weather!