Friday, October 12, 2012

Nearing an end...

It has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster these last few weeks.  This week, I informed my team at work that I would be returning to the USA at the end of the year.  Of course I cried (as I hoped, and was even sure, I wouldn't do!).  A little of me feels like I have let them down by leaving, and alot of me simply doesn't want to return to the States.  And of course these people, even though technically I am their manager, have become friends.  It's like leaving an entire lifetime behind. 

The part about returning to the States seems so depressing.  Watching the news from afar is honestly far more depressing than living in the news!  It seems while we lived there, I was desensitized by many of the horrible things in our everyday life.  The politics (not just politics but the nastiness seemingly reserved for the USA citizens), the shooting violence, the poor (ever increasing), the sick (also overlaps for many as the poor), etc.... The madness of it all seems overwhelming to go back to. 

Now I feel certain many of my American friends will be offended to hear these things, but one of the things that living overseas has given me is a different view.  While the USA is a great country, many might argue the best in the world, it has so many glaring things wrong with it.  Without going on a political tirade (not the point of this post), I can say that we as a family have found it safer, healthier, more moderate (politically and religiously), more family friendly, and generally just a better place to raise children here in Europe/UK.  Now to provide balance to the argument, I have to say that it is outrageously expensive to live here.  One tank of gas for the car is about $170.  Food is more expensive, housing is more expensive, everything is more expensive.  And also, there isn't good Mexican food (tex-mex or Mexican) and there aren't garbage disposals.  All three of those things are glaring problems with living here!

The things I will miss the most:  walking home from the tube in the middle of the night without worrying about safety; the fresh clean air (yes even in a city of 12 million, but admittedly predominantly due to lack of humidity); the parks on every corner; the produce that was sourced locally that has flavor and natural color (and the minimum amounts of high fructose corn syrup here); the beef that is grass fed (the cheapest and most available option, not to mention the  most delicious!); the mass transit - be it bus, train, or tube; the happy workers that are paid livable wages irrespective of what their jobs are; the fact that if one of us gets really sick - I don't worry about going bankrupt; the civilized politics; the fun and cool adventures we get to go on that are in basically in our back yard; and of course, the people I have met and become close to.

I know that many of these things are simply inconceivable to some Americans.  The idea that anywhere could be better than the good ole U S of A is a foreign concept.  I left the USA thinking that there is simply nothing better, but since it is a short committment, why not.  I was horrified at the idea of nationalized medicine.  I was horrified at the thought of taking the tube or bus anywhere, especially after the bombings.  I was certain that the food we get in Texas is as good as anywhere else.  I was wrong on all accounts. 

We have been so forunate to live here.  The kids have experienced more in these last 2.5 years than Scott and I ever did combined in our first multiple decades of life!  I certianly have grown and changed as a result of this adventure. 

I am excited about getting to see our friends and family in the USA.  I'm excited about going to the ranch again for fun and relaxing weekends.  I'm excited that Scott will be surrounded by adults again during the day versus just having Skype and phones to work through.  And no matter how sad I am about coming over, I realize that there are sooooo many worse things that could happen to us and our family.  We are lucky to not be fighting any terminal diseases, fortunate that we are healthy, fortunate that we have medical care if we need it, fortunate that we have a great house and food to eat, fortunate that we have friends and family to return to... And the list goes on.  So forgive me for being down and melancholy, I can in fact see the bigger picture.  The pity party will end soon.  And afterall, we still have at least two amazing adventures coming before we head back, so those will certainly help to turn this frown upside down!

In the mean time, we begin the tedious preparations for another international move.  I can say that I hope it isn't our last!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

September stayed busy

September was a very busy month for us. The kids kept us running all over the place and the weather, for the most part, was absolutely beautiful.

The Falcons School started back the first week of September. After a good summer break, the kids were eager to go back to school. Weekends were quite busy. We had Saturday mornings at football practice and horseback riding lessons in Richmond Park. The kids have also able to take piano lessons and chess lessons at school which I love! Scott was able to secure a small keyboard for the family until we move so the kids could practice at home as well. I really hope to continue the music lessons once we return to the states. I must admit, one of the biggest things I miss from Houston is our piano and the music playing throughout the house during the day.

The football lessons have demonstrated that probably our children (at least one of our children) will not be athletically gifted. (That's the nicest way I could think to say that Caden would rather pick the grass out in the field than run after the ball...) However, they are both really good at chess and math. Caden can almost beat me in chess already.  (I'm uncertain if that means he is really good or I am really bad?!)

Scott and I also had some fun.  We went and saw a band at Shephard's Bush, and we had multiple delicious dinners on date nights.

At the end of September, a friend of ours Ashley Allen came over from Houston for several days. It was great to see a fellow American/Texan. We had a good time while she was here. That same weekend, we went and saw even more sights, but unfortunately I didn't take my camera. However, in the video, you can see the pictures from Postman's Park. This particular park is one of my favorite places in the city. It is a small green space hidden between some buildings behind St Paul's Cathedral. It is a peaceful but also somewhat sad place. The park is a memorial to those who have died while saving the lives of other people. Many of them are children that are memorialized through small but tasteful plaques. Ashley took several pictures of the kids there so I am hoping that they turn out well. It is such a special place...

All in all, the family was very busy but we definitely enjoyed every aspect of the month.  The sightseeing, the weather, the visitor, the kids, the activities, etc...  We are a lucky little family indeed.

Honorable Mentions:
Keali and I climbed 528 steps to the top of St Paul's Cathedral.  The view over London was absolutely amazing.

This picture cracked me up.  If you double click it to read the sign, you will see why.

The video highlights: