Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Odd socks

I've still got nearly every sock I've ever had since I was 16.

When one wore out, I would keep its twin; many of them did wear out, though, so perhaps a more accurate comment is, I still have half of the socks I've had since I was 16.

I wore odd socks for a while too.

The biggest hit to my collection, came when my sister went to university. Unlike myself, who lived in dorms for two years and stayed at home for two years (because it was local), she moved further afield and went straight into a house share. We had often borrowed and shared socks between ourselves, and I was just as sneaky as she was about it. Aaand, we're both kind of last-minute people. So, as she was packing the night before, I'm pretty certain sorting out whose socks exactly were who's wasn't high on her priority list. If she had some of mine, clean or dirty, at the time she left, she took them with her.

Then she and her housemates ended up treating all socks as communal too, and a matching pair was cause for a celebratory lunch; by the time she left, it was also several housemates later. Again, she was packing at the last minute, but seeing as this journey would be made by car, rather than the van Dad had hired the first time around, the goal was to (aim to) travel light. Things like odd socks got left behind, and then they were gone forever!


I still have a LOT of socks.

About 200, just to pull a figure out of thin air.

To be clear, that's 200 spare socks. I have about 20 pairs of socks that I actually wear. I switched to black socks, rather than coloured/patterned ones, about 18 months ago, but my odd sock collection was already well established.

I do have them set aside "for a purpose" -- for sock puppets! Although to be honest, I was saving them before I thought of that.

I remember the story behind almost all of them. Most of them were Christmas extras, when my socks were starting to run low (Mum didn't know I was hoarding them...). I remember which ones are my sister's that I never gave back. In some cases, I remember what happened to the opposing one: the red stripey one got a huge hole on the top of the foot because I pulled at a loose thread that wasn't so loose after all. The Little Miss Sunshine sock wore a hole through the bottom, after my shoe had worn a hole through it (actually, that happened several times... I generally tried to make shoes last longer than they should do). The socks with my name on were rescued from my sister's clutches a few days before she went to Australia. After they were washed, I put one of them in her case, with a note saying:

Uh-oh! A stowaway!
Make sure you bring 
me back safely.

...and then snaffled it back amongst the ditching of stuff when her case was too heavy at the airport. My  socks have memories.

But, I'm moving to San Francisco. Hopefully not permanently, but who can tell? For all intents and purposes it might as well be. At the very least it will be several years. And, moving stuff costs money. Lots of money. Plus, the apartment is smaller than here, etc.

More to the point, let's be realistic. I ... don't need ... 200 spare socks (that was difficult to say). Yes, I may someday want to make sock puppets. Yes, I may one day have children with whom to make sock puppets. But... probably not a whole school full. And honestly, for most Mums I know, just getting through the day with a vague hope of clean dishes, clean undies for tomorrow, something semi-nutricious for dinner, and, (if you cross your fingers and are very, very fortunate), having a focused ten minutes of concentration on homework from their children, is generally about as good as it gets. Everyone wants to be the sock puppet/flower picking/snowman making/telling old family stories Mum/parent, and, in the families I have witnessed, I have yet to see it actually happen. But, even if I did have a sock puppet moment, what are the chances that I couldn't locate one of my, or Pete's, socks for the occasion?

I could use the socks for other reasons, such as dusting mitts. But would I still need 200? Likely not. And again -- I could just nominate one of my current pairs of socks, or one of Pete's, for the occasion.

But, when I think about throwing those socks away, it makes me sad. Apart from anything else, it's the death of the sock-puppet dream. The death of the dream of being that Mum, maybe. The death of all of the potential I'd poured into it, waiting, wishing and hoping, for someday.

Death is sad.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

This happens. This happens every time.

This happens. This happens every time.

I start something off with gusto, and I work on it for the first chunk of time. Depending on the thing, and my motivation, and the deadlines, the chunk of time varies, but the pattern remains the same, and it's rarely ever more than a couple of days at the most.

Honestly, the more I can accomplish in this initial burst, the better, and ideally, projects would be so short that they can be done and dusted before I run out of steam.

Because run out of steam I do!

It starts with a slowing of progress, then the novelty wears off, so it's harder work (plus I do the easy stuff first, to gain momentum), then something comes up  - life gets in the way - there's always a fire to put out. Then that's over, but I've broken my momentum, so I now don't want to continue, then I try and drag myself to do it but it doesn't work so well, so now I'm carrying that heavy mental weight and not seeing any fruit from it, then I get overwhelmed, then I get discouraged, then I think the whole thing was a stupid idea to begin with, then I ignore it and hope it will go away, and at the same time, "if I don't face it, it won't hurt me, right?" Then I see the deadline looming, so this picking it up and mentally trying to force myself to do it increases, but still for little-to-no fruit, lather, rinse, repeat, until the deadline is HERE where I start again, for a bit, and then it's HERE and I'm extremely focussed and people need to either be helpful or get out of my way, because I can't afford to lose focus, but I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and not always in a good way.

So anyway, that's happened. Hit the slump with wedding planning arranging. Making a "done list" was incredibly helpful. A to-do list... not so much.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Not My Kitchen

The friends I live with have done some alterations to their kitchen recently. Not remodelling or anything, but some adjustments. It started when they got a fridge-freezer, to replace their under-the-counter fridge that had seen better days. Doing this necessitated removing the small section of counter that had covered the smaller fridge, plus a small upper cupboard. Which necessitated finding new homes for the things that had been in that cupboard. Which necessitated a bit of condensing and re-arranging of items in other cupboards.

The piece of counter that was removed, had been the most-used piece of counter for food prep, and the rest of the counters were crowded. So, this past weekend, when I was at my Mum's, they rearranged the entire most of the kitchen, moving items into different cupboards, throwing some things out and moving the appliances.

The freed-up counter space looks marvelous! But... from my perspective (and let me be clear, it is only my perspective)... it still doesn't work. The cupboards that didn't get rearranged, in my opinion, should have been. Personally, it seems like half the kitchen now works really well, and the other half... still needs improving.

I made a couple of small changes -- they got changed back. This happened a couple of times over, until we both knew it was deliberate. Then I had to take a step back and say to myself, It's not my kitchen. Let it go. We could have had a passive-aggressive power-struggle over where they go, but what would be the point? It's not my kitchen.

But I don't want to do the same thing with Brenda. I want to be able to move things, and honestly, I want to be able to do it without having to ask.

I think Pete and I are both self-aware enough to be able to say "what is your reason for wanting to do it this way?" so that even if we do fight about it, we're fighting about the real issues not the veneer. Brenda and Pete and I have had the chat about moving things, so I know I'm worrying for nothing, but still.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Make a Plan Monday -- 50 in a fortnight

Mum and I went to a wedding fair yesterday, and I think the challenge is now on. Vendors have started saying, "Oh, you're cutting it fine now, not having it arranged." So. Challenge time. Let's make a game of it! Mum's going away for a fortnight, and, having just been to the wedding fair, motivation is now up. I'm challenging myself to do 50 wedding things in that time. So, 50 phone calls, emails, decisions, conversations, arrangements made or quotes received. Anything that will actually give us traction, not busy-work.

1. Text Photographer to arrange time to meet. (My mate from church, which is why I'm ok texting.)
2. Looked through 30+ menus.
3. On finding nothing suitable, wrote out food wish-list.
4. Made drinks wish-list.
5. Text Mum re: do we need wedding insurance? + Follow-up phone-call, conclusion is "probably yes, do some research into other options for it."
6. Went through Mum's (extensive) list of concerns/queries and gave answers to almost all of them; have marked ones without answers for follow-up.
7. Went through all leaflets acquired from wedding fair, + all those I had previously, discarded anything irrelevant to us, paper-clipped like with like and labelled the items (e.g. all the leaflets about flowers together), and have sorted each into the relevant section of the wedding book. For perspective, the pile acquired today was nearly 3in thick.
8. Wrote extensive to-do list (not as good as a Done-list like this, but I needed to record them somewhere).
9. Collated/organised/labelled nearly all info in one section of wedding book (Before the Wedding). Have not so far included all the info about attire, but that's probably as big a task again.*
10. Messaged my friend who's doing the cakes to ask if they will be delivered or need collecting.
11. Found out she delivers -- score!
12. Message my cousin to see if she still makes lingerie.
13. Looked up hotel for first night. It doesn't look that impressive (but it is very close to the train station).
14. Tried to ring hotel to see if they have a bridal suite -- no reply.
15. Looked up attractions in the place we're thinking of going to for our honeymoon. There's loads of things I actually want to do in that place! Maybe too many -- we'll easily have earned a holiday by then, and we don't want to be running here, there and everywhere all day every day. But at any rate, the decision to go there has been confirmed.
16. Found a nice hotel to stay in.

*I thought I'd made a follow-up post to the one where I mentioned the Wedding Book, but I've just checked and I didn't -- apologies. Yes, I went with a book in the end, not a binder. I had a tabbed notebook, which I've repurposed, with sections as follows: Before the Wedding, Rehearsal Dinner and Hen-Do, Day of the Wedding and Ceremony, Reception (needs it's own tab!), Honeymoon and Emigrating. Now I've been using it for a little while, I've noticed that some extra tabs may be useful, namely: General (currently I'm just tucking those things into the front of the book, but it's only semi-working), and USA Reception (we're videoing the day, and having a party to show the video off once we get back stateside, but that probably needs a bit of organising, too). I have another of the tabbed books (the same as the current one), so I might see if I can take a couple of the dividers out and insert them into my book. The dividers are moveable, but I've already written contents pages at the front of each section -- I'll see what I can do.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Feeling nervous

Pete and I had a long chat today, mostly about gift lists. I think they're the height of bad manners and will do pretty much ... a lot of stuff ... not to have one. I don't want my wedding to have an "entrance fee". That is kinda how I see it.

Pete can see my point, but not as strongly as I see it. He can also see Brenda's point -- she's (by the sound of it) driving the "you need a gift list" van pretty heavily. I'm going to talk about that with her.

But, I'm nervous.

This is the first time, I think, we've had a major difference of opinion.

Partly it's cultural, perhaps. Maybe there's also an element of "tradition for tradition's sake" (which, in general, I am not a fan of). In my case, it's the way I was brought up, so there's definitely an element of wanting to please my Dad and my late Grandmother about it, coupled with, having considered the matter from an admittedly biased perspective, I have found no reason to change my view, but only to strengthen it.

I especially hate the idea of sending the gift list with the invitation. And yet, isn't it putting more stress and hassle on guests to have them look it up somewhere? Isn't it better just not to have one? To ask for recipes and photos and such instead, that don't have a financial cost?

We'll see, I guess.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Plans change -- 4-way call.

Pete was very helpful handling my dilemmas mentioned yesterday. He helped me break it down into what needs to be done now, and what needs to be done later. It's not the worst thing in the world if I ship half-finished craft projects or books I want to read later. He's pointed me to recruitment agencies rather than struggling through trying to apply for jobs entirely by myself. Maybe stepping back a little from facebook and the internet, even if not completely.

We had the 4-way call with Pete, Brenda, my Mum and I recently as well. We talked about the balance of risks with having a large crowd at the wedding: either, we need to book the venue and pay the deposit, and risk having a room for 250 people and have 60 people show up and look lost in it, or we need to delay finding a venue until we have replies back from invitations, and risk that we won't be able to find anywhere at much shorter notice. It's a risk either way, especially given that, due to the international nature of mine and Pete's relationship, there are likely to be quite a few who aren't able to make the flight, but we have no idea how many "quite a few" is.

So, we're sending the invites early (next week, if we can), and are putting "reception details to follow".

I hope people are willing to commit that far in advance!

In other news, the call went well, we spoke for about an hour, although we were all surprisingly nervous! I even got changed and put on make up specifically for the occasion, and it's my own Mum! (I have spoken to Brenda without getting changed or wearing makeup lots of times.) Mum and Brenda were both a bit nervous about meeting each other, I think. But it went well. We recapped all of the decisions we've made so far, we got the details about the invites sorted, we have the provisional details about when Pete is coming over for Christmas, and we've agreed to speak nearer the time about all the details relating to the week before the wedding.

Everything sounds good so far! And I am happy to have one thing to focus on regarding the wedding, not 7000 or so. Invites. I just need to do the invites, and we'll worry about the rest later.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Make-A-Plan Monday -- Overwhelmed!!

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.


Monday. 1st September. Time for a fresh start. Go put the kettle on, and then come join me at the dining table. If you could take notes, that will enormously helpful.

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

As I posted recently, I've been overwhelmed and taking it easy on myself. This has worked out at taking 2 weeks away, and I feel better for it, but I've realised that now is the make-or-break moment. Either I find a way to make a schedule for blogging and make this work, or I give up on the idea because I'll have left it too long. I still think the idea has potential, so I'm here now. I'll write a bunch of posts up in advance but I'll aim not to miss a day in September, and see where that gets me. I'll also aim not to post about blogging again -- I know it's boring.

Right now, I am overwhelmed, and I really need a plan for how to move forward.

Let me outline the (other) things I need to be doing:

1) Planning a wedding. Perhaps I'd be better to say, arranging a wedding. Actually ringing people up to find out about things, making decisions about booking things, going ahead and booking it. SOON. The actual planning part, the dreaming, the visionary part of it, the fun bit... is mostly over. Just left with a long hard slog. This actually ringing up and booking stuff business does not come easily to me. Some people are detail-oriented. I am not one of those people. I get intimidated using the phone, basically to talk to anyone, but mostly to strangers. I don't really have a clear awareness of timelines and stuff. I don't know how to break a project down that easily.

I established, last weekend, with the help of my detail-oriented Mama, a sort-of timeline. The wedding is in April. I want to send the invites out with Christmas cards. I don't know the last posting day (I've just contacted the Royal Mail requesting this information via their website), but let's say the beginning of December for international mail. Well, if I want people to give it adequate consideration before getting lost in the Christmas shuffle, it's going to have to go out AT LEAST two weeks before then. Maybe more. Brenda wants a pile of them to send out in her own Christmas cards, so I'm going to need to send them to her during November (the earlier, the better). Which means that I'm going to need to get them back from the printers by the end of October. Which means I need to get the final design and information sorted by the end of September (at a complete guess). Which means I need to see a venue ASAP. Which means we need to do a budget to figure out how much we have to spend on a venue. Like, yesterday. BUT, I won't know the price until I've been to see it/been in touch with them. AND, I don't know what size of venue we'll need until we send out the invites and get the replies back (there might be quite a lot of people not able to come, especially the international ones. Why can't I just put "Reception to follow (details tba)" and then make an announcement on the day (not me personally, but still). ??

2) Wedding Book. I know. This seems silly. Just do the thing already! But I need some place to corral all of the information, to separate the done's from the still-to-do's. The plans I have for the wedding book are ... high quality. Excellent plans. I've put a lot of thought into this one, and I really think that once it's finished, it will be really good. Really good. Once it's finished. There is a LOT more sticking-and-gluing than I thought there would be.

3) I need a job. Neeeeeed a job. Something to get me out of the house, get me meeting a few people, get some money. Both for now and for savings. (Currently I pay my bills in kind, and I can go a surprisingly long time without much actual cash. But not indefinitely.) I get SO overwhelmed at the thought of the job-application process. Completely and utterly convinced I'll fail the interview if I even get that far. Not-quite-knowing which jobs to apply for, or how to write the application form to give me the best chances; it's all shots in the dark. Plus, the phone thing.

4) Cleaning the house. I'm a long way from perfect, but there's a lot of stuff that if I don't do them, no one else will. I defrosted the freezer this weekend, I've cleaned out and labelled the food cupboards, that kind of thing. I want to make life better for my friends if I can, and leave their house running a little more smoothly than when I entered it, as repayment for having me. Plus, the more good habits I build up now, the easier it will be when I move in with Pete, because I'm not starting from nothing.

5) My friend has written a book, and she's just signed on with a publisher, so I need to finish the proof-reading ASAP. I've done about 20% of it so far.

6) Getting ready to move overseas. Packing up my stuff, of which some is here and some is at my Mum's. Purging my stuff down. Doing things like, reading all the books I haven't got round to, the ones that aren't "keep forever" books (ironically, the keep-forever books are a lot easier to handle. I'll just give those to Pete to take back with him when he visits). Finishing off ALL off the partially completed/have-a-really-good-idea-but-haven't-actually-begun-them-yet projects and crafts that are lying around the place (but ditching (almost) all the supplies I don't have an actual project in mind for).

7) This one sounds a bit weird, but... just being actively present. With Pete, so wedding plans don't take over our entire relationship. For my friends, mostly on facebook. I know that 95% of statuses are cool but I'd live fine if I didn't see it, and they would too. But the other 5%... the ones where people are genuinely having difficulties and need an encouraging comment or a prayer, straight away? Also, I'm kinda link-sharer friend. Whom I never wanted to be. But, there's so much occurring in the world, in the news and in back-waters corners. Stuff to change our ideals over and maybe, just maybe, get a better world in exchange. There's so many petitions to sign, too. That sort of thing. I could step back from it, but if I'm needed, I'm needed now, surely?

This post has taken a lot of time to write, and I am calmer for having written it down -- hooray! Looking at the list, I hope I can begin to prioritise and actually begin to make traction in the world this coming week. I'll keep you updated.

1st September. New start. Bring it on.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Wedding Outfits (Mothers)

When I spoke to Brenda last week, we also got to talking about wedding outfits. Not for the bridal party, which we are planning separately, but for the family. Grab a cuppa whilst we flick through the catalogue together.

Brenda mentioned a tradition she encountered when attending a wedding of her close family friends: the mother of the bride wears blue, and the mother of the groom wears pink, and asked if there was anything like that in England that she should be aware of when she came to get her own outfit. I'd never heard of the above tradition -- that wedding had a bride from "the South" (of the USA). It's kind of its own country, in the way that "the North" of England is kind of its own country too. But no, there's nothing like that here.

My Mum has already bought her outfit - the full outfit. Shoes, bag, fascinator, the lot. This is because, before we had a wedding date, we had thought that maybe, once we got a date, we would move really quickly -- 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks maximum, kind of timing. So we were laying the plans in rough draft so they were all ready to go-go-go when the time came.

So Mum has bought her outfit, and it looks lovely. I haven't seen it on yet, but it looks good on the hanger. I hope she won't mind me telling you, it's cream with black accenting. She didn't have the fascinator yet when Brenda and I spoke.

Brenda was asking me about the dress code. Obviously it's a wedding, so "fancy" is appropriate. She asked about hats and fascinators. Mum really does not have a hat face, which is why I thought she'd get a fascinator. She'd been trying different ones on in a few different places, but I think Brenda will get a hat. Maybe a big hat. I didn't tell her this, but I think a blue will look great on Brenda. I hope she finds something great!

(Sidebar: family friends of my own once had to fly to Italy for their daughter's wedding, and she -- Mother -- had a massive hat that needed its own seat. The Italian airport on the way back was actually considerably less perplexed by the idea of paying for an extra seat for the hat, than the British airport were for the journey out there.)

Oh, and Mum bought her fascinator the day after this conversation; she walked past a stall in the shopping centre that she'd never seen before and they had the EXACT fascinator she wants, right there. The EXACT same shade of cream as the shoes (that are just a smidgeon lighter than the dress), it was cream edged in black and not black edged in cream, like she needed, and was of the clippy variety, seeing as Mum had tried various headband styles and found they hurt her ears.

Things like that happen to Mum a lot. She grabbed a scarf and paid for it quickly in a shop in Amsterdam when they were on a river cruise and her coat let in a draught. They only had a few minutes before the boat left again, and she couldn't have picked a colour closer to the colour of her coat if she'd spent three months looking. When she and my stepdad were getting married, the first cake shop they went into had the exact cake that she wanted as one of the displays. They tried to offer to change the shape of the cake, the number of tiers, the shape or colour of the protruding decorations, and it took five times to tell them that she wanted a copy of that cake, exactly as it was.

We finally also set a date for the four-way calling, so I wonder if Mum will show Brenda her outfit then?

Thursday, 14 August 2014

TBT - Crying on my bed

I heard this song again on the radio today. Make some tea and listen to it, and try not to cry.
Right Here Waiting, by Richard Marx.

This was the song I listened to and cried (and cried) to, after I returned from visiting Pete last October. Sad times.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Always On

This is a story for a cup of tea, with two friends curled up on the sofa. Go put the kettle on and then come back.

Things have been difficult here lately. I've had headaches quite a lot, and I've been getting overwhelmed. I realised today that at least part of the problem is that I'm required to always "be on". Looking after kids is a full-on, ALL day endeavour. Living in a could-be-tidier household is an "always-on" endeavour, because there's always something to be done to make it nicer. Housework is never "done"; there's always something else to do and research with wedding planning, and the same goes for running a blog and trying to get a consistent schedule.

None of which is necessarily a problem, just that I'm not getting much of the payoff for it -- the kids' parents get all the lovey-dovey moments, I'm planning this wedding but not with Pete as such, etc.

I need to be gentle with myself. I'll still be writing, I have lots of ideas, but for now I am skipping things like Make-a-plan Monday, Wedding Planning Wednesday, etc.

I'll be gentle with myself and I'll let you know how it goes. How are you, friends? Let me make some more tea too.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Soft place to land

I got to talking with one of the bridesmaids recently, about something that came up during Pete's and my pre-marital counseling; one of the questions we were asked was, "What do you consider the husband's role in a marriage relationship? What do you consider the wife's role?" Do you want to get some tea whilst we explore that?

There are people who would say something like, "There aren't really any differences, it works exactly the same way as it does in a gay relationship, it's just that one happens to be a man and the other happens to be a woman."

Yet, if a person believes that men and women are even a little bit different on the inside, then the above can't hold true. That's not to say anything against gay relationships, just that they are at least a little bit different from straight ones, because the people are different.

When I expressed that I thought the wife's role is to provide "a soft place to land" for her husband, it was met with some confusion. What I mean by that is things like, when he's been out at work, when he's tired, busy and stressed, a wife should be someone who will run her husband a bath and rub his feet, not berate him for all the things he hasn't done or try to tear him in two directions by wanting other things from him when he's already trying his best. She's a warm, inviting smile that makes him happy to come home at the end of the day, and not want to head off down the pub.

Now, I run with the feminist crowd, and I would like to point out that yes, women have brains in their heads and deserve to be treated with respect and equality, without risk of sexual assault and should be able to be in control of their own lives, bodies and families with reference only to relevant people such as her immediate family and medical practitioner, not her employer or some dudebro who thinks she should do what he says.

I would also like to point out that no, men are not "entitled" to have baths run for them and so forth, and that yes, I can see how doing that sort of thing regularly might make him feel more entitled in the outside world, but that isn't really the point. The point is kindness.

In this culture, at least, we have the choice to get married or not, and we do so of our own free will. But in making that choice, the biggest choice we'll ever make in our lives, why wouldn't we want to make the little sacrifices that mean we don't end up regretting that choice? More to the point, why wouldn't we want to be kind to the person we love most in the world?

Kindness is a two-way street, of course, but I am not responsible for the way my neighbour behaves, even if that neighbour is my husband; I am only responsible for me. I can only change me. And I'm answerable to a higher authority than the feminist crowd. I'm answerable to Christ.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Spirit Sundays -- Community

Today's my birthday, and it hadn't been marked that well. Well, looking back on it, there are people who've gone out of their way for me; Pete stayed up late to talk to me when it was midnight his end, morning my end. My sister came back for the weekend even if she was out last night, my stepdad has cooked pancakes for our breakfast and a roast chicken dinner for our lunch, and my oldest friend had me round to her house yesterday for pizza, wine and a good ole catch-up. And yet, as of this morning in church, it all felt very low key. Not one single person from church remembered, even though most of them have me on Facebook. Only a few people on Facebook messaged me too, most of whom were family relatives or who had also sent me cards (and one whom I haven't spoken to for four years).

And I cried at church. Big, fat, unstoppable tears of self-pity rolling down my face! Tears that were completely deserved. I hadn't/haven't been keeping up with other  people's birthdays, I haven't been sending them cards and presents and Facebook messages, for the most part, and that hurts when it comes back around again, but I know full well I can't actually complain about it.

When I told my friend from church the harvest I was reaping, she just reminded me that God can fix everything, and that no-one is perfect -- it's very easy just to get wrapped up in ourselves. So she gave me her baby to cuddle and promised to pray for me, which is everything I could ask for, really.

Then, when I got in, the person that things we the most not-ok with had dropped a card through my letterbox, so that prayer has been answered and maybe, just maybe, things are on the way to improving? I was doing the happy-dance because of this!

Then, like I said, we had a nice lunch with the family, we played games (and I beat everyone at Cluedo! Yay me!), and I have seen loved ones Friday, twice on Saturday -- different people -- and mostly all day today. So I think God is giving me a community back, slowly, and I'm going to do my part too. Happy Birthday, Sarah.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Two headstrong women

I finally caught up with Brenda today. She's fine, she's just been busy. We chatted for quite a long while. She's excited about being able to say, "I have family in England!" She's so cute. We're getting a pet together when I move out there. We'll surprise Pete with it! (Hi, honey!)

She's been a real advocate for me. I told her the rough draft of the wedding schedule and she replied, "Sounds great!" She's the only one who has done this... and I'm really glad she has. I needed an advocate about it. I can be very headstrong, and I know I sometimes need reining in, although honestly, I don't think I need it as often as other people say I do. What I suggest (and then stick like glue to), I'm almost always open to suggestions about. But then, the suggestions come, and more often than not, they are things I've already considered, so I don't think they're worth re-examining. And if, having examined this point in the first instance, I arrived (tentatively) at a particular conclusion, and that's the best they've got to poke holes in it, I'm going to become more convinced that that is the correct position and therefore more entrenched in it, which is where people look at it and say "I won't be told." I think they're wrong.

Brenda is actually, just as headstrong as I am. Maybe more so! But, she wields that power well and sparingly. If it is something she can give on, she will, and is happy to do so. She knows the boundary of her own opinion and isn't domineering, and she possesses oodles of one of the qualities I admire most: emotional honesty. Honest about feelings, and particularly about motives. Straightforward, I guess. What you see is what you get. Which is... love. Gentleness (unless you cross her). Kindness.

And welcome.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Throwback Thursday - When Sarah Met Brenda, part II

Sorry this is late, friends. Find part I here.


We drove back to Pete and Brenda's apartment, parked a good way away because parking spaces in that complex are few and far between, and lugged my stuff all the way to where they live. Opened the door straight in to the sitting room, and nearly tripped over the end of the guest-bed before Pete could get the light on.

I had anticipated being too tired to meet Brenda properly that night, thank God. Pete had asked if she could be asleep when we arrived. Brenda said "I can be in my room with the door shut," which is basically the same thing. What I hadn't anticipated, was a beautiful hand-made card with my name on propped up on my pillow. Pete commented that that had not been there when he'd left the house. Inside was a welcoming note filled with love. I was so touched, I might have cried.

Still wired from getting to see Pete, I think I needed a snuggle from him even more than the sleep I desperately craved, so that happened, and then I went to bed. Slept like a baby and sweltered under the thick fleecy blanket Brenda hadn't realised I wouldn't need, given that I was visiting a warmer climate.

The next morning, I was the first awake, which I was glad about. 8am with light streaming through the patio window next to me, and I was up! (I learned how to close the shades ready for the next night.)

I spent some time on the patio by myself that morning, in my pyjamas. Looking at the sky, that beautiful sky, praying and writing in my travel journal, and I think I really needed that to collect myself.  I love that patio. I love that sky.

Not long after Pete was up and Brenda had heard us talking, she timidly came out of her room to make a cup of coffee and gave the most massive hug. She said "I'm so happy to meet you" and "I love you already", and we were friends for life.

Wedding Planning Wednesday -- Gathering my Supplies

Sorry for the delay, my internet crashed just as I was about to post. Good job I saved it!


A fortnight ago, I didn't really have any papers for wedding planning. A few items (mostly flyers and business cards) were in a box. My Mum had quite a lot of papers too. We had a good ole session making an actual plan about ten days ago. The numbers of papers I have seems to have multiplied.

I wrote a to-do list (I did about 75% of it and then lost the list -- better than my usual batting average!). I have a piece of paper I've drawn a rough draft of the invites on. I have prices for some things now, and not just in my head. I relocated the "bride's book of lists" we bought when we were first engaged, in the USA, so now I have that with me (and it's actually useful! Tell that to 10-months-ago-me who was crossing things out in it left right and centre). The samples for the bridesmaids dresses have also arrived; all of my stuff is in a big gift bag that came with a present someone from church gave me in preparation for the wedding.

Since then I also have more lists. Lists, lists, lists! I have to confess, it's great not having everything in my head. I didn't even realise that until I'd written it down.

I'm getting together with almost all of the bridesmaids, individually, this weekend. (Ironically, the noticeable absence from that list is the one I live with, who is currently away camping.) The one who loves notebooks is going to try to sell me on notebooks to put all of my wedding papers in. I am open to convincing, but I still haven't ruled out a more binder-like structure. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The elusive Brenda

I've been trying to speak to Brenda for about a week. She's been around, we have interacted via facebook, but not to chat specifically. I hope she's ok :-/

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Spirit Sundays -- The 'Not Going to Church' Version

I haven't been to church this morning. Partly for reasons, partly not.

Only 6% of adults in the UK go to church more often than not, but those 6% do wonder what the rest of the adults get up to on the Sunday mornings that we're filling the pews. More time running errands or finishing the D.I.Y.? That's a sad state of affairs for the country.

Visiting family (as my Sundays always were before I became a believer)? Well, I still spend many of my Sunday afternoons doing that, too. Sleeping or reading a book - yes, Sunday afternoons for those too.

Sports? There's some of that, but it's probably not as prevalent as it is in the USA. Working? Staffing all those shops and D.I.Y. shops for the people in the first paragraph, and (the one that bites) waiting tables for the after-church crowds? Not forgetting of course the many necessary workers in hospitals and police stations, even power stations I suppose. In this case, it's up to the church to do church things at other times.

Churches, at least in most them, in this country, tend to be rather like pubs, and people will travel further afield to find the one that they like rather than going to the most local one even though, on the surface, it's the same thing.

Perhaps that contributes to the feeling that Sunday sometimes feels as crowded as all the others. I love church, but today, watching cookery shows over brunch feels like a welcome fresh breeze. I'm going to use the day to do the things I don't have time for on regular days, like watching videos on the internet rather than reading blogs. Pause. Is this what you're doing to?

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Integrating with the Natives

I just asked for a band-aid. Rather than a plaster, which is what we call them over here. (Don't worry, my thumb is fine. I just knocked the scab off whilst washing up.)

I have been known to say things like "Shall I put this in the trunk [boot]?" or "Can I borrow ten bucks? I mean, ten pounds?", and I have been mocked for saying "Stick it in the trash can" rather than "Put it in the bin."

That being said, I don't think I'll ever say "Math." ;-)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Wedding Planning Wednesday -- Four Way Calling

I've made a lot of traction with wedding planning over the past few days!

Sunday I had a session with Mum specifically focused on planning (rather than talking about ideas), that gave me an actionable to-do list, the majority of which I have now done. I've even set up the facebook group for the members of the bridal party, and there's some lively discussion going on there!

Another idea that has come up and seems to be the next step for us is to do a four-way video-chat with me, Pete, my Mum, and Brenda to talk everything through. This will be interesting!

I think my Mum wants to team up with Pete and slightly overrule me? Which is why I want to bring in the big guns (Brenda). She'll be on my side! Hehehe.

Also, I think my Mum and Brenda would get on really well, so I want them to be comfortable with each other.

I need to video-chat with Brenda soon anyway, I'll ask her about that then. I also need to ask her about the rough schedule I've made, see when she's planning to arrive.

Monday, 28 July 2014

That worked... for a bit.


Right, now that's out of my system, do you want a cup of tea? Sorry to say this, but would you mind making it? And put one on for me whilst you're at it?

I am overwhelmed again. The good news is that I'm almost certain that this has not happened since this time last week. (Go me!) But today, the tumble drier has broken, on Laundry Day, when I'm backed up two loads already and have four, maybe five loads still to do. There's even more laundry this week than last, because the kids picked up their bedroom floor that was covered in clothing (not out of the goodness of their own hearts, under direction, but still). Because of Laundry Day, and babysitting tonight (regular Monday night occurrence over here), I'm not going to have time to prepare a meal that takes ages for dinner. We need to change the menu plan again so the thing I had been planning, I can't do. There is music and the tv on, and they're both too loud/not my taste.

I have done all of the easy stuff off my wedding to-do list (go me?), and I don't want to do the hard stuff (like ringing up someone I've never met to make enquiries).

I want to find a table to crawl under and build a pillow fort, where I will finish eating my packet of sweets, and drink that cuppa if you've made it?

I wish Pete was here. He's great at pillow forts.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Spirit Sundays -- Conviction

During the summer, my church has switched to all-age services every week. As part of this, we've been watching some videos entitled 'What's in the Bible?', that are aimed at children (they use puppets), but are packed full of good stuff theologically. In today's video, they defined sin (things that cause separation from God) as, when we let others tell us to do our own thing even if it hurts other people's feelings.

Wow, conviction! Hit me square in the chest!

How many times during wedding planning do we hear or say the words that it's our wedding, it should be what we want (and to hell with people who want us to do it differently)? How many times have I had the exact same attitude towards my own Mum? We have very different ideas, and in order to protect my own and give them a fighting chance to occur, I've been, well, protective. Defensive. Unpleasant. Without being deliberately callous about it, I've hurt her feelings.

I am trying to learn from my mistakes. I had a long talk with Pete about it, of the "I hate it when you're right" variety. Then, because I gave a bit and she gave a bit, we've actually made real traction with wedding planning, so that's a good thing (I had gone round specifically to do wedding planning with Mum). I now have an actionable to-do list that I intend to complete soon. I've identified (most of) the things I need to do now, and the things that can wait until later. The impartial 'Bride's Book of Lists' that I've bought has helped in that regard too. Most of the items on my list can be undertaken in 15 minutes or less, many in five.

Bring it on.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Spontaneous Saturdays -- Beach!

This Saturday, we're taking an impromptu (planned the night before) trip to the beach. The Dad's away fishing, so it's the Mum, me and the kids.

I wish Pete was coming with us (but then I always wish Pete was with me, especially during the good bits).

I love going to the beach! Some of my happiest childhood memories. I still get as excited as a four-year-old with the "I can see the sea!!" business.

Pete... doesn't. I drove him crazy with that when we took the coast-road on our road trip. His happiest memories are something else. If the beach is the 'venue' for an 'actual activity', he's fine with it, but being at the beach and having that be the entertainment isn't that impressive to him. Church on the beach? Cool! Oyster-picking with his mates? Cool! Fishing on the beach? (He doesn't fish, but... ) cool! Sunbathing, swimming, rock-climing, building sand castles, looking in rock pools... not really his thing.

We did have a nice beach day (in my opinion) before we went though. That is, until we I went swimming wading in the Pacific Ocean though. The currents there are MUCH stronger than they are on my island nation, the tide knocked me off my feet! I wonder if I'd be able to get swimming lessons out there to handle the current?

Friday, 25 July 2014

Follow-up Friday -- The One Where The Menu Plan Changed

I realise the TBT post yesterday was lacking. Note to self: work on establishing a rhythm for blogging. Maybe start keeping a list of ideas. Write tbt posts in advance and schedule them if you need to.

Given, though, that's the kind of person I am, Follow-up Friday will likely be a permanent feature around here.

Make-a-plan-Monday went well. I finished all of the laundry. We have been sticking to the menu-plan too. Well, in a manner of speaking; there was a time this week where we changed the menu plan 13 times in 24 hours*. But apart from that it's worked out really well. And we actually changed the plan and wrote a new one, rather than going off-piste. That's all I could hope for, really.

*This started because as I was prepping for sausage casserole in the slow cooker on Tuesday night for Wednesday's dinner, I realised that if I intended to throw the leftover bolognaise into it, as I had been planning to, I had enough with just some extra veg. without even doing the sausages at all. Then I had to find a spot for the sausages before they went off. Then we served the casserole just with bread, not with mashed potatoes, as we'd planned (needed to get dinner on the table in a hurry that day), so then I had to make a plan to use the potatoes I'd pre-chopped and ended up bumping everything back a day. But we STILL had loads of casserole left, so I intended to add either paprika, to make goulash of sorts, or chilli powder to make chilli, but we had no room in either the fridge or the freezer to store it so then that got thrown out and we reverted to whatever we'd established in it's place... I took inventory of the fridge and added a few items on for next week, and then rearranged the order of them... these things happen sometimes! However, it is actually a great feeling to have that moment of, "We've got too much food we need to use up, we'll have to cancel the day we were planning to get takeout! (Don't look at me like that, both your wallet and your waistline will thank me for it!)"

Goodnight, friends.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

TBT - blogging

Remember last week when I started the blog? It's been a good week :-)

Ok, ok, yes, this is a nothing-y post. Yes, I wanted to post today but hadn't written anything so far. Yes, I've left it too late in the day and I'm really tired. Still finding my feet here. Still trying to find the time of day that works best for me. Clearly this is not it. Stay tuned. We'll figure something out.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my Beloved!

So jealous Brenda got to post on his facebook wall before I did. So jealous. I'm eight timezones ahead, but posting at 10am doesn't cut the mustard when she's done the stay-up-past-midnight trick the night before. (And then backed it up with a flash-back photo.) Such a petty thing to obsess about. So representative of the bigger issue, who gets to have the biggest claim on him? I hope this isn't going to be a problem going forward.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Put a fresh pot on, whilst I tell you about Brenda. I love Brenda. She has the biggest heart.

Put a fresh pot on, whilst I tell you about Brenda. I love Brenda. She has the biggest heart.

Brenda has been so kind to me, so welcoming. She's really patient, she's a great listener, she's become my go-to person to listen to all of my own family dramas. (And where there's a wedding, there's family dramas!)

The inviting us to continue living with her isn't just because of money. We could move somewhere else. My cousin in Canada advocates for that country as a possible base (and if it had the climate of Australia, we'd consider it). There are other places. There are other places in the SF area. We could move to Pete's old college town. He could come and live with me on my side of the pond. We have options.

Brenda -- and all of Pete's family -- have taken me in with open arms from the beginning, she genuinely loves me.

It might be true that part of the reason is also because she's worried about being lonely. I don't know if she's ever lived on her own. We all do most things from mixed motives, but she says she'll be fine so I'll believe her.

I didn't realise this until Pete pointed it out, but the main factor in the decision, though, genuinely was altruism. She knows that I won't know anyone when I move over, and Pete will be at work all day. It'll be very easy in those circumstances to sit around and kind of get a bit of a pointless existence apart from waiting for Pete to get home, and then maybe be sullen, withdrawn, or - God forbid - manipulative, when I finally do see him. That won't be good for our marriage at all! Plus I'll likely be homesick...

Brenda saw all of that (or something of it) before I did. It's completely true. I can barely make it through a weekend of house-sitting without getting stir-crazy for having no-one to talk to, and not really eating properly. And yeah, there may be times where Pete and I have to be apart overnight sometimes. I hate that fact, I'd love to be the couple that gets to their golden wedding anniversary and had never spent a night apart, but I don't know from here how feasible or realistic that idea even is. Maybe the only people who ever did it were from a different age and it's just not possible any more. We'll see.

But living with Brenda will be great. I'll have someone to talk to, I'll have someone to wash dishes for during the day (yes, I need someone to wash them for, usually, in order to wash them), I can get permission then and there if I want to move a piece of furniture around, whatever.

At the same time, she will be there, but she won't be intrusive. Pete sometimes goes three days without seeing her (he's out to work before Brenda gets up, and two nights in a row he goes to social activities straight from work).

I love Brenda. Just thought the blog needed a bit of balance so that the (genuine) difficulties I/we experience or anticipate from our proposed living situation don't come across as cruel or mean towards Brenda. I love Brenda. She's the best (apart from Pete!).

Monday, 21 July 2014

...Oh. What would Brenda say?

I'm halfway through Laundry Day and have basically ground to a halt. Laundry should not be this complicated! Isn't laundry the easiest chore there is? Get eight laundry baskets, play hoop-la with all the clothes, bung one load in, keep checking on it, put it in the tumble drier when it's finished, rinse, repeat, and then take over the dining table to get all the clothes folded at the end of the day (whilst still reading blogs and playing commuter games during the day)?

Well, it was, until I realised that putting the washer on for two and a half hours at a time, starting at 9:30am, would not get eight loads of washing done by the time we need to eat dinner. (I started the day folding-as-I-went. That lasted two loads.) I started washing on quick-wash which takes less than 3/4 of an hour. Yes, I've cracked it! ... Until I forg realised that I was still putting the drier on for two and a half hours, even the super-duper big one that holds two loads. Until the washing is three loads ahead of the drying, rinsing a sweatshirt that still looks stained took longer than blankety-blank washing it in the first place, and I... am very overwhelmed.

I could tell Brenda about the laundry being behind. She is lovely and it's just technology and these things happen to everybody at some point. It's how I handled being overwhelmed that I'm not sure of.

I... put my head in the cupboard. There, I said it. I want to take it back but I won't.

I opened both doors to one of the kitchen cupboards, I leaned my head forward and (partially) closed the doors behind me. Behind my ears, so I couldn't hear as much. Where it's slightly darker, slightly cooler, just overall less stimulating.

Then my mind fast forwarded a year or so until the first time Pete catches me doing this. He loves me. (And he knows he's never met anyone like me before, but he also knows me. Knows me. He gets me.) So he wouldn't judge me for hiding in the cupboard. Or building a den in the bottom of the closet. Or moving the sofa forward and sitting behind it on the floor. Or whatever the next thing is.

Then I thought how I'd feel if it was Brenda instead. Suddenly that feels a lot more vulnerable.

I reiterate, she is lovely. But I video chat with her once a month, once every two months, that kind of time frame. I video chat with Pete every day and it isn't enough. Annnd... I'm not marrying Brenda. I'm marrying Pete.

This plan suddenly seems a lot more fragile than it did before.

What time is it in San Francisco?

When I went to schedule my previous post, it only gave me the option of scheduling according to Pacific Daylight Time. Y'know, the time it is in California. Presumably because that's where the servers are. Remember I'm in the UK, currently on British Summer Time.

Fortunately because of Pete, Pacific Daylight Time is a system I speak fluently. After reading the information twice to be sure it was that simple, it was quite easy to say, "OK, it's posting 8 hours behind, as it were."

But there'll probably be times when I forget. Technology, eh? Wonderful when it works!

Airing My Dirty Laundry

When Pete did laundry at my house, when he came to visit me... I laughed at him. Honestly. (Sorry, my love.) Having always been taught to separate by colour, personally, it seemed funny to me to see someone sort their laundry by garment -- a load of t-shirts, a load of trousers, etc. I may even have asked, "Whoever taught you to sort your laundry like that?" (It was Brenda -- perhaps obviously. Ooops.)

Upon further reflection, I've seen the method in the madness, to a certain extent. All the t-shirts, for example, are likely to be just as dirty as all the other t-shirts, and so it makes sense to wash them all together, right? Personally, I can't fathom (grey) dress pants needing the same treatment as (blue) jeans, but apart from that, I can see it.

That is... never... going to work for me.

Because the thing is... I've come so close to becoming a slob. Or, to put it another way, I have been a slob, especially in my teenage years, and I have come a long way since then. But, I know that it only takes two broken routines to be back where I was before with the need to start over. I'm working on it still, but I can't say that doesn't still happen from time to time either, unfortunately.

So, when I find a routine that works, works for me, I have to stick to it. I have no other option. I have to do it the way that works.

Fortunately, I have a laundry system that works. Unfortunately, it's nothing like Pete's. And as laundry ones go, it's quite a complicated one -- because, at least for some things, the more complicated it is upfront, the more time is saved on the other end. The more decisions I can make now, the fewer I'll have to make later (always a good thing!).

My laundry system involves a lot of laundry baskets. When it's working really smoothly, I have about a dozen (yes, a dozen!) baskets lined up that dirty laundry gets tossed into when it becomes dirty; like, when clothes get taken off, towels get used and they've already been used a few times so they shouldn't really just go back on the radiator, that kind of thing. Are you ready?

There's the obvious first: whites, darks, whites-with-patterns-on (the ones I don't wash at a higher temperature), towels, bedding, kitchen linens (aprons, tea towels, dish cloths, etc). All of those are really loads by themselves. When it comes to colours though, I separate further. Which are the two colours most likely to run? Reds and Blues. They each get their own tub. Ideally I'd like to separate out the rest of the coloureds a bit more too, but they can all go together if needed. The same applies to blacks and darks.

Then I need more laundry baskets for moving from washer to drier, carrying back upstairs to put away, etc.

My system works, for me, but I do end up with a parade of laundry baskets in the laundry spot. I justify that this is better than piles of laundry on the floor.

I find having a routine I can depend on to be like a walking stick to help me get through these tasks. If I'm going to have one, I want it to be robust enough to support me.


As the kids start their summer holidays and we begin making a plan to see us through them, I'm also giving Laundry Day a try, rather than the oft-lauded do-a-load-every-day-business. I'll keep you updated.

I'm trying a couple of new things here too: I'm going to try to schedule this post for tomorrow (wish me luck!), and this is also the first "Make-a-plan Monday." If it goes well, it'll be a regular feature around here.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Summer's here!

The kids broke up from school yesterday. I went to the park with Older Son so he could blow of some steam. It was hot yesterday and I wasn't dressed for the weather. Still in Jeans in the middle of July. It reminded me of when Pete and I were on our road trip last year -- he's from San Francisco, where it's foggy, and not as warm as people generally think of when they think of California. Because people (myself formerly included) think of California and they think of Los Angeles. Where's it's really hot and sunny. Weather-wise, Pete likes it as per San Francisco.

On the first second day of our road trip, which was warmer-than-SF-but-not-in-the-same-league-as-LA, Pete opened the windows and let in a breeze. I shut the windows because I was then too cold. Pete turned the fan on because he was then too hot. I turned the fan off because I was then too cold. Pete opened the windows because he was then too hot. This went on for an hour.

Finally I said, just so we know how big of a difference we're working with here, please, just once, can we leave the windows shut and the fan off until I say that I'm too warm? It... took a while. Beyond the point where Pete was saying "I don't know if I can keep driving in this heat."

Yesterday... was hotter than that.

What Does Sarah Get Up To? Let's Have Some More Tea.

I'm guest blogging over at Parentwin today. (Is it ParentWin or ParenTwin? Nobody knows!) In it I explain a little bit about what I get up to currently, whilst Pete and I are still living thousands of miles apart.

I'm lodging with friends and I take some of the care of their two children, and do some of the housework, in exchange for free bed and board. They're very generous to me. I try to be generous back. But if you see me referring to "the kids", or Older Son/Younger Son, this is who I mean.

Pour another cup and click through above to read about my experiences establishing a hierarchy in this family.

Whilst we're on the subject, paid work is slow, currently, but I have a profession: I'm an accountant. So is Pete.

Other than that, I'm doing my writing, I'm finishing up all those half-finished projects so I don't have to take them with me when I move, I go to church, I see my friends. I just had one of my bridesmaids and her 10-month-old daughter (also going to be a bridesmaid -- well, flower-girl, really) come round today. We adults were practicing wedding makeup. The result is... we need more information. More makeup to choose from than what I have, and better brushes. We completely disagreed over the necessity of bright white sparkly eyeshadow, that I'd forgotten I have but really like. But that's what oldest friends are for.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Bigger Is Always Better, Right?

The only (major) thing Pete and I have disagreed on during the wedding planning process is about the size of the wedding. He's quite reserved, and therefore wants/wanted a small wedding, 20-30 people total. Ironically, I also am quite shy. But I wanted to handle this by getting lost in the crowd. Having maybe 500 people turn up, so I wouldn't be expected to spend more than ten minutes in direct conversation with any one person, and if I bobbed out of sight for half an hour to get a bit of quiet, no one would notice or care.

But more to the point, I considered "having to be the centre of attention" as the price I have to pay in order not to exclude anyone. How is having more people whom I/we love, who love me/us and want to come to our wedding, in any way a bad thing? And how could I turn round to people who love me/us enough to want to come and say "Thanks so much for your gesture of friendship in wanting to support me/us on the most important day of our lives; thanks but no thanks, please don't come?" I couldn't. Not even a little bit.

I hate "overruling" Pete, it is his wedding and his marriage too, and he's (obviously) very important to me. I don't want to do anything that would make him uncomfortable or unhappy, even for a little bit. I love him.

However, when I thought and prayed about the matter, even after having said I'll trim my side down to around 30 guests (as low as I could go), I just couldn't do it. The very thought cuts right across the grain of who I am.

I'll do anything for Pete. I'll make any accommodation I can to make him happy and comfortable. I love him.

But I can't actually change me. I don't think he'd like that person if I did. We're having a large wedding.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Throwback Thursday - When Sarah Met Brenda, part I

My flight to San Francisco took a whole Friday. My Dad picked me up to take me to the airport at 7:30am. It's an hour's drive away. For an international flight, I needed to be there 3 hours before -- I think my flight was at 11:45am. There was a long flight across the Atlantic Ocean, that arrived nearly an hour early, which made my wait in the east coast airport around two and a half hours. Of which I spent nearly two hours waiting at the wrong gate! Fortunately, I became suspicious of the only 20 minutes left for the supposed turn-around for my flight from the one currently boarding, and went to investigate, making it to the correct gate just as they started boarding. I was desperately ready for a sleep at this point. I'm blaming that for me mixing up Gate 20 and Gate 30, which both look and sound alike in a weird American accent to someone who had been up a full day already and is confused by the fact that there's so much daylight it's still clearly afternoon.

Praise God, I made my flight! Unlike the first flight where I spent hours talking to my neighbour across the aisle, I introduced myself to the man in the next seat but spent most of the flight looking out of the window. I think I dozed a little. Maybe. On and off. I find it difficult to sleep if other people are awake even in a house with people I love, because I don't want them to be watching me, so sleeping in front of strangers, even if the seats were comfortable enough to be conducive to it, was unlikely. It did get dark not very long before we landed, though, which I was glad about. I had had enough of The Day That Lasted Forever. Just as I reached breaking point, the plane landed and I became super-wired. I was going to see Pete! Very soon!

It was now about 8pm? 8:30pm? local time and I'd been up for 20+ hours. 22, 23 hours, something like that. I was so out of it I couldn't even do the maths. Pete wouldn't let me go straight to bed. He insisted I stayed up just a little bit longer and go to bed at a reasonable hour for the time zone I was in; he dragged me off to a diner and tried to make me eat sourdough bread (a local delicacy). I love sourdough bread, now, but that first night it was a hard enough task not to doze off in the diner, so I wouldn't eat it. Sorry, honey!

Right now, I'm also approaching a very tired state, so call by next week for Throwback Thursday - When Sarah Met Brenda, part II.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Oh, I'm So Sorry, I Forgot To Tell You ... Would You Like A Slice of Cake?

How's your tea, friends? Would you like a slice of cake to go with that? I have Victoria Sponge and Carrot Cake -- oh, good choice!

I'm so sorry, I forgot to tell you about why we're here, and introduce you to Brenda. Brenda is Pete's Mom. You'll probably be seeing a lot of her from now on. She's a very lovely lady.

However, San Francisco is a very expensive place to live. Pete is working, but when I first get out there, I won't be, necessarily. Pete and his Mom currently share an apartment, and the plan is that after Pete and I get married, that continues and I just get added to the mix. The same apartment, Brenda still living there along with Pete, we'll swap bedrooms but it'll be the three of us from almost Day One.

I was going to start this blog after I'd moved, hence the title. Then I had to start the blog early, so here we are. Wait until I tell that story!

Pour Yourself a Cup of Tea and Let's Get to Know Each Other

Hello, I'm Sarah.

A British chick soon to be married to a San Franciscan, and then embarking on the adventure of a lifetime moving to California, USA to be with him. Go put the kettle on and settle in whilst I tell you a bit more about me, him and our story.

Peter and I met online (not on a dating site) in the Spring of 2012. We chatted with increasing frequency throughout the Summer, making our relationship official in the Autumn. Yes, before we'd met in person. Some thought we were crazy -- some probably still do. He came over for a glorious fortnight at the beginning of the following year. A long and lonely Spring and Summer later, I made it out stateside, where we got engaged. Now we're back in the world of video chats and looking forward to planning our wedding -- we've just set the date for next April. I'm excited!

If you've been following the timeline here, it does mean that we haven't seen each other at all so far in 2014. However, we are getting married in the UK, and that means that more time is required than in the USA. Getting registered to get married is valid for up to a year, but must be done a minimum of 15 full days prior to the ceremony, in order to give the locals the opportunity to object to the marriage if needed, e.g., if they could verify that one or the other had been married previously. Bizarrely, this increases to 16 days for a religious ceremony, and as we are both Christians, this is the type of wedding we will have.

Given the international nature of our relationship, Pete also has to have been in the country for 7 full days before we go to get registered to get married -- and we have to go together, in person. This makes a total of 23 full days Pete will have to be here before the wedding, and that's not including any time for a honeymoon, or for packing up and moving. Also, Americans get pitiful amounts of holidays from work (although 23++ days in one go would be rare here too). Therefore, we are going to break it up. Have him be in the country for the seven days and we get registered to get married, then wait out the 16-days-plus-a-few-months back in the land of the video chat, and have him come over a few days before the wedding. Hope he won't be too jet-lagged!

The good news in this plan is that Pete is going to come and visit me for Christmas! I can't wait! (Seriously, I'm already playing Christmas songs, the ones that count down to having one's beloved arrive back on Christmas Day. Yes, in July. Thinking about snow also has the same effect as a cool breeze on these hot summer days, though. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. But mostly I'm just starting the countdown a bit early.) The bad news is that I have to wait until Christmas to see him again... when I've already been waiting since last October. When another October will have passed us by, meaning both our dating and engagement anniversaries will have gone without us seeing each other in the flesh. I don't know how I'll handle that.

On that sad note, has the kettle boiled yet? I'll take tea with lemon and sugar, please. I've got a lot more to say, and we've got all afternoon, but in the meantime, why don't you leave me a note and start telling me your story. I'll play Mum.*

*Note to Americans and other foreigners: the British very often say "I'll play Mum," when they mean "I'll pour the tea from the teapot into the cups." We take this element of the tea-ritual very seriously.