Sunday, July 27, 2008

Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH

Sunday we traveled by car (again) to Portsmouth (on the south central coast - near Southampton). It was "Meet your Navy" day and we enjoyed exploring the ships of the past, present and future. Rob says our navy is just a bit larger. Our favorite ships were the very old ones.

The HMS Warrior, launched in 1860, was the first ship we explored.

The HMS Victory (launched in 1765) was involved in the Battle of Trafalgar. There were lots of artifacts of the time period aboard the ship to read about and examine. It was really neat.

There were wonderful demonstrations of water rescues and forty marines and plenty of photo opportunities to pose with various weapons from past and present battles.


Madison even had the chance to shoot a rifle with the help of a sailor. She happily sat in the Captain's chair of the HMS Enterprise.

Standing at the helm of the ships, we were impressed by the sheer size of the wheels that steered the ships at sea.

The weather was warm (26 C), a perfect day to be outdoors. There was a cool breeze from the sea throughout the day.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday by the Sea

We traveled by car to Brighton to see the sea.
The cool waves lapped at our feet as we stood on the water smoothed pebbles of the beach.
(There is no sand at their beach but millions upon millions of pebbles of various size and shape).

Madison enjoyed collecting pebbles for home and feeling the cold water splash her legs.




Lillian could not decide if she liked it or not. She alternated smiling and crying whenever her feet were placed in the water.
As proud parents, we could not resist capturing (or trying to capture) Lillian's first experience of the Sea.


We ate sausages and chips with malt vinegar (a new family favorite) for lunch and Ice cream on the beach for dessert.

We especially enjoyed collecting pebbles from the beach to take home with us to remember our visit to the sea (they are on a candle plate on our dining room table).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bike Adventures

Biking together has become a favorite past time for Rob and Madison.

Madison has finally conquered her fear of riding her bike (who can blame the kid after crashing into the brick wall, a set of stairs, and just plain falling over).

Rob and Madison take their bikes to the park and ride around the pond or in the cricket field together.

Madison has even begun to ride along the path toward home.

The path is narrow and surrounded on both sides by hedges.
It is fun to hear her in the distance laughing or shrieking in surprise.
(Don’t worry I only hit the bush- she shouted)

Lillian and I occasionally join in the adventure (Lillian is in her sling or buggy) and love to watch Daddy and Madison learning and playing together
.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Madison's End of School Term

The school term has come to a close and we are all in need of a bit of holiday break.

Madison has done a great job jumping into a new school, making friends, and learning new things.

There have been many obstacles for her to overcome since attending an English school.

The students here are advanced readers and all write in cursive. (Children in England start school at age 3 and are learning to read and write in cursive at this time). They are taught abstract math instead of the more traditional methods we use in the states.

Yet, regardless of these obstacles, Madison has persevered and we are so very proud of her and the accomplishments she has made in such a short amount of time.


In Reading, Madison began at a level one blue (no idea how this relates to back home) and when she was retested just two weeks later she had moved up two levels to Orange. Oh how proud she was to have skipped a level.
(They like the students to be on the Orange level when they move up the following term).

Her teacher Miss Atkins was very impressed with her progress in such a short amount of time.

Madison has enjoyed the end of year activities with her classmates.

Two weeks ago she went to the London Science Museum and then last week she went on a boat trip along the canal.

Madison was fascinated that the boat was pulled by a horse down the canal and did not use a motor.

Friday was Sports day and the children enjoyed participating in their class races. Each class is assigned a different kind of relay race. All of the children in the class participate. They are split into teams of 5-6 students. Lime Class was assigned the race Fun in the Sun. One student from each team waited at the other side of the field. Then one by one their team mates had to race down the field, pick up an item of clothing, help their team mate put the clothing on before racing back to the next person in line. Each team had to collect a shirt, a hat, a book bag, a water bottle, and sunglasses. 
Madison’s team came in third (all of the children received sticker awards for participating).

The end of term BBQ was this past Friday. We had a lot of fun together as a family. Madison and her friend Bethan enjoyed having their faces painted (a butterfly and ladybug), playing different games, and watching the Punch and Judy puppet show. Madison enjoyed visiting the pocket money stall and buying things with her own money. (It was quite interesting to watch how she decided what to spend her money on and the fact that she refused to spend her last 20p because then she would not have any money left).

Dinner was hamburgers and hotdogs and they even had a stand that sold beer (Rob was excited).

It was a great night for the family to be together and support the school.

Rainbows has ended for the term (it will resume again in September). The girls enjoyed a Mad Hatter Tea Party in celebration of 20 years of Rainbows. The girls made rabbit ears, played crochet and made jam tarts to bring home.
Madison’s classmate Ellie lives down the road from us and the two girls enjoy their time together in Rainbows.

For the summer holiday, Madison will be taking swim lessons and participating in the summer reading program at the library. She is encouraged to read 6 books on her own over the course of the summer holiday (its one book each week). After she reads two books, she goes into the library to collect her stickers and prizes. She is very excited.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lillian's 3 months old!

Lillian is Lillian.

She continues to bring us joy and smiles. It is hard to believe that she is already 3 months old.

She has grown very attached to certain blankets (mostly the one from Aunt Niki) and likes to have her cuddles when she sleeps. I am going to be sewing her two favorite cuddles together this week so that she will have one cuddle instead of two to sleep with.

We have belly time each morning.



Last week she rolled over all on her own in her crib from her belly to her back. Needless to say she was quite surprised.

I had put her in her crib while I was finishing getting ready and both Rob and I were able to see her roll on her own.

Of course, we had to capture it on video for all of you to see.

(Movie).


She is now 11 pounds (according to the packing scale at the office) and growing more all the time.

In a couple of weeks she will visit the doctor and have her next set of shots.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekend Adventures

We decided to spend a quiet weekend in Godalming but it was far from boring.

Since the cost of things here is twice as much as back home and it is £1 for every $2, we have had to be creative with our monthly budget.

We have bought a family rail card that cuts our train tickets by a third.
We shop the sales and discounts and keep less of a stock in our cupboards for food.
And, Rob has resorted to giving himself haircuts (a hair cut for men is £31- $62).

I could not resist sharing this experience with you.

The Before

The First Cut

The Half Way Mark

The Results

It did not turn out too bad (just a bit short) and it is something that made us all smile.
(Madison wanted Daddy to have a mohawk!)


We tried another new church this week and enjoyed some much needed family time together.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Care Packages of Love

Thank you for all of the lovely care packages we have received.

It is wonderful to have little bits from home.

One of my favorite parts is watching Madison opening the boxes and seeing the excitement over familiar items (like Orange Tic Tacs).

We have been very blessed to receive these packages and to send a few of our own.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Southampton

Our first trip on the train was uneventful and relaxing.

We got on the train at Farncombe Station (just across the street from Madison's school) and took the train to Woking, where we then changed trains and continued on to Southampton (in the middle of the southern coast of England). It took about an hour and twenty minutes all together to make the trip.





Upon our arrival in Southampton, we explored the large mall and the many shops along High Street. The area is known for its shopping and has a great variety of stores - including a Toy's R Us.

We enjoyed a street vendors lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs.


For the record - an English chili dog is a hot dog with jalapeƱos and hot chili sauce. It is nothing like what we would call a chili dog in the states and it was VERY VERY HOT



I had the chili dog. Rob enjoyed a double burger (ketchup, burger mustard, and burger sauce - aka thousand island) and Madison had a hot dog with ketchup.

After lunch, we explored the historical stone structures around the harbor.

Our first stop was the Barclade North Gate which used to mark the entrance to Southampton and was part of the old council building.

We enjoyed getting up close to the buildings and reading the information about each one.

We also walked down to the harbor and looked at the boats.

A highlight of our day was finding out that Lillian had lost her socks. We have no idea when she kicked them off. As we were walking back to the shopping area, Rob suddenly saw what appeared to be two socks off in the distance. He made a mad dash through the crowd only to discover a single sock and a wad of paper. Luckily, the sock did belong to Lily and we all had a good laugh.

Dinner was at the ever fancy PIZZA HUT.

We decided to have a taste of home (and it was one of the few restaurants that offers FREE refills- a luxury of the states that is not found in England).


It was a wonderful day full of laughter and memories.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

After a Fortnight in England

We have survived our first two weeks across the pond and have settled into our daily routines.

ROB AND ALIZA
Rob is working hard at HGL and learning new things every day. He is primarily working on learning about programming (C++) and how to trouble shoot problems (bugs) in the system. He enjoys his co-workers here and the opportunities he has to learn.

I am still trying to find my niche here.
I will be attending some mum’s groups this week and hope to do some volunteering at Madison’s school in September (I will be helping students with their reading). It seems that many groups and clubs are winding down for term and will resume in the fall. I have decided to join the local book club that meets the last Tuesday of the month at the local book shop. For now, I am taking it one step at a time.

As a family, we are enjoying trying to guess who Lillian looks like the most.

What do you think?



This past weekend we enjoyed leisurely hanging around our flat and spending time together as a family play games and visiting together. We plan to take some weekend excursions in the near future.



MADISON
Madison is enjoying school (just two more weeks before summer holiday) and Rainbows (which ends this week for the holiday and will resume in September). She is well known at the library and is excited to complete the summer reading program. (Madison will have to read 6 books all on her own over the summer holiday and be able to retell what she has read).
Madison is beginning to make a few friends and has enjoyed several play afternoons with Jim and Emma’s daughter Bethan. Hopefully with the summer holiday we will be able to spend some more time at the park getting to know the children in the area.

Madison and Rob have enjoyed their Maddie/Daddy times to play Blokus and to make paper airplanes and origami. It is wonderful to watch them learning and playing together.


LILLIAN
Lillian is Lillian.


She is enjoying her new book, The Squishy Turtle (thanks Aunt Beffie) and is starting to grasp small toys. She still loves to have her blanket with her when she sleeps and has quite an arm grip around it if she does not want to give it up.
She is a happy baby, who is full of smiles.