Monday, June 30, 2008

Life in England Part II

We are doing very well. We enjoy playing card games together in the evening and continue our small group book “Love Talk”. Being far from home and in a new place has drawn us to one another and I am grateful for the chance to connect together.

We walked to Guildford this week (about 3 miles one way). Madison did a great job walking with us and did not complain at all. She is such a trooper. Lillian enjoyed riding in her stroller along the bumpy foot path. After we arrived in Guildford (about 2 hours after our depature) we wandered the shops and the street market. We all decided that Guildford is nice but we are glad that we live in Godalming. The biggest difference is that Godalming is much smaller then Guildford and a lot less crowded.

Going to Guildford we spent time looking for Madison’s lost juice bottle, eating a picnic lunch, watching the boats on the canal, feeding Lillian, and dealing with Lillain’s diaper explosion! Our return journey was must less exciting and only took a little over an hour. We also decided to walk home on the paved bike path along the main road instead of the sandy uneven foot path along the canal.

Here is map of where we live in Godalming and where Guildford is.


Madison is officially enrolled in school (Farncombe Church of England Infant School). She will be in the Lime class for the rest of this term (end of July) and then in the Apple class for the fall term (September –December).
From what I can tell, the Lime class is a combination of our kindergarten/ first grade and the Apple class is a combination of 1st grade/2nd grade. There seems to be many similarities between the educational program here and the states.
The children are very excited to have an American student (they have never had one before). The students in the Lime class will move up together to the Apple class in the fall. There are 27 students in Madison’s class.

Madison will wear a uniform each day (a blue checkered dress in the summer and gray pants, white polo, and school sweater in the fall). She must wear sensible shoes (black church shoes) each day. She will have PE (which also has a uniform- black shorts, white polo, black shoes (plimsoles) once a week and swim lessons every Tuesday at the local pool. All students learn to swim through the school for a small fee ($35 a year).

Madison and I enjoyed shopping for her uniform and supplies together on High Street.

Her first official day was Thursday and she did great. This week she is going on a field trip to the science museum in London with her class. It should be a blast.

Madison will also be a part of Rainbows (this is the same as our daisy scouts). She will attend Rainbow meetings every Thursday after school at the church. The owner of Rob’s company Jim’s wife Emma is the guide (leader) of the group. This week at Rainbows they are having a Mad Hatter Tea Party with the other Rainbows of the area.

Lillian is great! She is smiling more each day and the pleasant baby. She is a great sleeper (7-8 hours most nights) and takes several naps each day. As far as a routine she pretty much goes to bed each night around 9:30-10. Her naps are still sporadic during the day since we are often out and about. Hopefully as we get more settled she will be in more of a schedule.

She loves having her blanket by her face and is even starting to grasp it in her hand. She favors her animal blanket that matches her crib set and her lion turtle blanket from Aunt Niki. We refer to her blanket as a lovie although unlike Madison, she is not too picky yet.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Life In England Part I

If I had to describe life in the UK in 1 word it would have to be…..

Things like which side of the road they drive on, where the steering wheel is located, how to flush the toilet (on the right instead of the left side), a washing machine that is also the dryer, which way to look when crossing the street so that you don’t get run over.

It is not to say that our way is right and there was is wrong but it is just different.

It seems very overwhelming right now. Nothing is familiar or as I know it. Even crossing the street and knowing which way to look for cars is opposite (of course this is because they are driving on the other side of the road).

I have adopted the motive of… Proceed with caution… since our arrival in the UK.

Yet I am finding that as the days pass I am learning to walk in faith and try new things.

It is about a 15 minute walk (pushing a stroller and chatting with a 6 year old) to the center of Godalming from our flat. Rob’s office is at the bottom of High Street across from the library and next to one of the 2 grocery shops. (High street is the main road where all of the shops are. This is where you can find the baker, butcher, bank, pharmacy, doctor, etc.). We have walked up to High Street at least once if not twice a day since we arrived.

Woolworth’s is a popular store to pick up odds and ends (this is also where I got Madison’s school uniform).
The grocery shop is called Waitrose and is very nice. They have absolutely nothing the same as the US. I find myself going to the grocery store every day (sometimes twice) to buy things for dinner or things we have run out of at the flat. Since we do not have a car everything that I buy I must carry or put in the stroller to get it home. This limits the amount of things I can purchase each trip as well as the size of the items bought.
Since none of the products are the same, shopping takes a lot of time because I have to read every label and try to figure out the English equivalent of the foods that I buy back home. (So far they do not have Buffalo wing sauce or macaroni and cheese). Hopefully this will become easier with time.

My favorite part about our adventure so far is walking everywhere (good-bye baby weight). It is wonderful to push Lillian in her stroller and hold Madison’s hand as we explore our new home. It also gives us time to enjoy our surroundings and to slow down. Right now we are still walking the same way each time (we got really lost yesterday when we tried to find a different way home) we go out but hopefully we will learn to navigate through the village multiple ways.

Rob enjoys riding his bike to and from work each day and hopes to ride with Madison on the weekends.

The weather is sunny and cool (pants and a short sleeved shirt with a light hoodie for the mornings) and pleasant to be in. It has only rained once (they day we arrived). We enjoy opening the windows each afternoon and feeling the breeze in our flat.

Each of us has adjusted differently to our adventure.
Rob jumped right into working and feels right at home in his new environment.
I have immersed myself in the task of settling us in (a long to do) and been too busy and tired to be too homesick.
Madison has struggled the most with being away from home and all that she knows, although she improves each day and is excited to be here for our adventure.
Lillian has probably handled it the best. She does not even seem phased to be in a different place. Her eating and sleeping habits are the same as back home and she has transitioned well into sleeping in her crib.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Our Flat in England!

Welcome to the Sparkman’s English home at 14 Surrey Cloisters, Kings Road.

14 is our flat number. Surrey is our county and Surrey Cloisters is the building where we live. Our building is on the corner of Kings Road.

Upon entering our building, you must climb 2 flights of stairs to reach our second floor flat. There is a lift (elevator) on the ground floor that we use when we take out the buggy (stroller) for Lillian.

Our flat is at the end of the hall. (It is considered large on English standards and about the same as apartments back home)

As you enter the hall (foyer) it is an open space with many doors.

To the left is the kitchen/laundry room (the washing machine, which is also the dryer is next to the sink and dishwasher).

Straight ahead is the lounge (living room/dining room).

To the right are 2 closets (both useless for storing things since they contain the electrical box and water heater) a bathroom, and the 2 bedrooms.

Madison’s room is directly across the hall from the bathroom that she uses. Her room is small and only contains her bed, wardrobe, and a night stand. While we thought the girls would share a room there is just not enough space for both girls in there.

Madison’s bathroom (like the one attached to the master bedroom) contains a tub/shower, pedestal sink, and toilet. There are small heaters above the towel racks to warm your towels while you shower.

As you walk into the master bedroom, Lillian’s crib is straight ahead. To the right of her crib is the master bathroom, which is directly across from the bed. Rob and I each have our own wardrobe for our clothes and a nightstand for our personal belongings. We use under our bed for storage of our suitcases and boxes.

It is very different then our house in the states but it is home for us here.