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.