Thursday, March 31, 2011

Choose Joy--March Complete

My attitude was something that I chose to focus and improve on this month. This month was pretty stressful with the drive back to Missouri, the week long suspense of the residency match and the temporary move to England for Jason's last rotation and I feel like I handled each situation with a pretty positive attitude. Sure, there were times were I lost it but I quickly moved on and tried to fix the bad attitude.

  • My attitude on the drive home was better than I could have expected for myself. I made it to the Missouri boarder before I had myself a mini-meltdown. 38 hours of constant driving and no sleep finally caught up to me. Don't wasn't anything too bad! My GLEE soundtrack pulled me right out of my bad mood ten minutes down the road.

  • I feel like I constantly struggle with enjoying the present instead of always dreaming about the future. Once we found out that Jason had matched with a residency program, we couldn't help but get excited. We started dreaming about our first house, a new car, starting a family and all the excitement that comes with a move. Sometimes dreaming of the future doesn't take away from the just makes the present that much more enjoyable

  • I think it's easy to let our minds wander when the unknown is around every corner. We are the type of people that we like to have a plan and without a plan our thoughts can be all over the place. I'm a very positive and upbeat person so I usually can look at the glass half full when the room sees the glass as half empty. It's so easy to slip into negative thinking under stress and pressure. When I feel myself looking at the glass as half empty, then I look at how much God has blessed our lives. We truly have so much to be thankful for and if I just stop and look, I can see God's grace EVERYWHERE!

I'm so glad that I chose March for me to focus on my attitude. It really helped me during the stressful, crazy, sleep-deprived and hard times.

Adventures In England--Day 12

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Since yesterday was Wednesday, Sport day, we planned to spend the day in London. The London Tower and Tower Bridge can be a mess on the weekends with all the tourists so we decided a weekday would be a much better time to go and explore these landmarks. We packed our bags and headed out, just like any other time. Instead of buying train tickets everytime we take a trip, we bought a prepaid card called the Oyster. Technically, the Oyster card only works for zones 1-5 and Epsom is a little further out in zone 6. The Oyster is good for any train, underground or bus in those zones. The Oyster makes traveling cheaper around the London area. The Oyster has to be scanned when we get on the train/bus/underground and has to be scanned when we get off the train/bus/underground. Well, since we are in zone 6, there is no Oyster scanner. We always jump off at Ewell East station, run to the scanner, scan our Oyster and jump back on the train. No big deal, right?! Well, today was the first day that our 'jump off, scan, jump on' plan back fired. Jason jumped off, scanned the Oyster cards and walked, not ran, back to the train. Well, right as he was about to get to the doors, the conductor blew his whistle, shut the doors and took off. Yep, Jason was on the train platform and I was on the train heading to London. I mouthed "What the heck?!" and thought a few choice words before trying to gather myself. What should I do? Get off at the next stop and wait for him? What if the train that he gets on doesn't have a stop at the stop that I get off at? I decided to get off at Stoneleigh, which is a stop out in the middle of nowhere. The next train wasn't due to arrive for another 15 minutes so it gave me plenty of time to play out some James Patterson books in my head. I'm not going to lie...I was a nervous wreck. Myself and two men were the only people on the platform so I decided to walk a little further down and hide out rest between two old, run down buildings.Finally, the train was coming and I tried my hardest to inspect every train coach. I think my green coat helped me get spotted because next thing I know, Jason is waving at me through the train window. We were united again! What a way to start the day! Once we got to London, we were on a mission. We walked along the river, seeing all we could see and stopping only to grab some lunch. Once we finished with lunch, we walked outside to a pleasant surprise...rain. Usually it rains for 20-30 minutes and then it stops (from our past one day of rain experience) so we decided to just huddle together under our umbrella and continue our walk towards our final destinations. The walk was pretty wet and windy but we kept saying "We aren't going to let a little separation at the station and rain get us down!" Truth be told, we were cold, our jeans were wet and we were starting to get a little irritated with huddling under the small umbrella. We continued on our rainy walk and we got to see quite a bit of things. Everyone was hiding out, under shelter, but we were out in the middle of everything. We found Shakespeare's Globe, which contains all the history of Shakespeare. It has a thatched roof, which definitely adds to it's historic feel. We kept walking down and then the Tower Bridge appeared. It has a very rich, grand, Harry Potter-like feel to it. We crossed the bridge, learned all the history involved with the bridge and made our way for the Tower of London. The Tower of London considered one of the safest places in London and that is why it is still home to the Royal Jewels. Pretty much the only reason I wanted to pay the admission fees was the see the jewels but once we walked in, there was so much more there. We waited around for the Yeoman Morder "Beefeater" to give us a free tour through the tower.The tower used to be a holding cell for some of the worst criminals. They were held at the Tower and then they would be escorted up Tower Hill for their execution. Pretty intense place...even Anne Boelyn was held and executed here. The history in this tower, scratch that, throughout London is unmeasurable. We had such a great time exploring and learning all the historic events that the Tower of London was responsible for. The rain did slow down quite a bit during our tour but by then we were frozen to the bone. We grabbed a warm hot chocolate after the tour and made a mad dash for home. Don't worry, when we had to scan our Oyster cards on the way home...we BOTH got off to scan our Oyster cards!!

Lessons In English & Things I'm Loving

  • misty=foggy
  • demonstrations=protests
  • slip road= on/off ramp
  • motorway=highway
  • coach=bus
  • woolly jumper= sheep
  • If you go to a pub to have some dinner, the way to get your food is different than in the states. Each table has a number on one end and menus in the middle. To put in your order, you have to go up to the bar, give them your table number and your order. You then return to your seat and a waitress will bring your order to you when it is ready. You can sit at your table all night and never get service.
  • Tips aren't expected here like they are in the states. If you give a tip to your bartender for taking your order, he'll take it. If you give a tip to your waitress for delivering your meal and cleaning up the table, she'll leave it on the table.
Things I'm loving: We've been here for almost two weeks and I'm already falling in love with certain things here. England has a different feel about's hard to describe.
  • I love walking through the park on a daily basis and seeing mothers pushing their strollers everywhere. Baby strollers can almost always be seen parked by the pond, as the mothers throw bread to the ducks, or along the grass just watching enjoying the weather.
  • Not only are mothers always in the parks with their little ones but they are very rarely seen on their cellphones. If you go to a park in the states, you'll see most of the kids playing and the parents sitting on the benches texting or talking on their cellphones. I love how parents interact with their kids....
  • Walking home after school has been released and seeing all the young kids in their uniforms.
  • The accents of the people. I could sit and listen to them talk for hours. The other night on the train, a young man was fighting with his girlfriend. They were calling each other every name in the book. Regardless of what was said, it still sounded so awesome.
  • No one is really 'casual' here. Back home I would run to the store in some sweat pants, flip flops and my hair pulled back. Here, people wouldn't be caught dead like that. Tights, skirts, dress slacks, leggings, cute boots, scarves and messenger style bags. Very few people wear tennis shoes, carry backpacks and wear lime green coats. It's just not fashionable...sigh
  • Old fashioned taxis driving up and down the streets looking for their next client.
  • People from 1-90 walking through the center square market on Sunday afternoons.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Adventures In England--Day 10 & 11

Monday, March 28, 2011

Today was Jason's second week of pediatrics in the UK. He will be in the NICU this week working with a different group of consultants (doctors). Mondays are his long days so I was on my own for most of the day. We talked about booking our Wales trip so I spent a good part of the morning online booking train passes and hotel stays. We will be traveling to Conwy (Conway), Snowdonia and then heading down to the southern most point of Cardiff during the second weekend in April. Our train passes were sent to the Epsom station so I had to go into town to print them off and pick them up. We also needed a few groceries so I made a trip into town. I'm getting so used to this walk that I'm almost getting to where I don't look around when I walk anymore. I'm not so sure that I like this...I love taking in all the sights but for some reason today I was a 'woman on a mission'. Week 2 of our England trip has started...I can't believe how fast our time here is flying.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today I had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do except for some laundry, which is pretty much an all day event waiting for it to wash and dry. I couldn't sit around all day and not do anything so I decided to clean the house (the best I could with what we had), vaccum, wash dishes and plan out tomorrow. Remember tomorrow is 'sport' day so getting out and exercising is top priority. I think the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and a few other London sights will be a great source of some exercise!! Today was probably one of the coldest days we've had since we've been here. It's also been the first day with rain. We've been very fortunate to have not seen rain before now...11 days with sun and no rain isn't too bad. Jason is hanging in there--he has 'senioritis' so bad he can't hardly see straight. Now that he knows what our future holds, he's finally able to relax and by relaxing, he's able to see how tired of rotations he is.

**On a different note, CONGRATULATIONS to Andrew, Jason's brother, who accepted a position a little closer to home. Hopefully this will make it easier to see the kiddos a little more often when we are home this summer.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Adventures In England--Day 9

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Since Saturday was such a long day, we stayed put in our small, quiet town for the day. Jason had a few things that he needed to get done for residency so we ran into town around lunch time to get on the more dependable internet. Internet is provided for all the students here but you are extremely lucky if you can catch a day when the computers are actually able to connect to the weak signal. Did I mention that the papers Jason needed to get completed were his agreement and his contract with Penn State-Hershey?! The program mailed out a huge packet with the originals this week but since we aren't in Missouri and we won't be able to get them, a faxed copy will have to do until we can get back and get them the originals.

I thought I would show you a little bit of our walk...Did you know that more tourists are killed each year due to motorist/crosswalk incidents than anything else? I'm so glad they tell you which way to look before crossing the street because it's opposite the way we would look in the states. On our way back from town, we stopped by my favorite park to feed the ducks, the geese and any other bird that was hungry. We also stopped by the tiniest little door, which I'm sure leads into the tiniest little house. We saw the owner out walking her dog one morning and just about fainted. She didn't appear to be a dwarf but she was the tiniest person I've ever seen. She couldn't have been taller than 4'0 and her feet were the size of my 4 year old nephew. She could easily be on a TLC special.

Adventures In England--Day 8

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Today we booked a tour with the company, Golden Tours, so we could visit Widsor, Stonehenge and Bath. We had to be at the center of London at 8:30am for check-in so we were up and out the door by 6:15am (train ride is about an hour). We didn't want to be late so we made sure we left with plenty of time left to spare. We made it to our 8:30am meeting spot and we were on our way. Our first stop was Windsor, but more importantly Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle became famous when Queen Victoria used to make Windsor Castle here weekend home away from Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace is grand but Windsor was definitely the Queen's favorite place to stay. When the Queen is at Windsor Castle, a flag with yellow lions is flown, as opposed to the traditional British (red, white and blue flag). Today's flag was red, white, blue and had 8 yellow lions on it. The Queen was at Windsor on the same day we were...we had to be on our best behavior. The castle was huge (I feel like I say that with every castle) and it had some amazing garden areas. Inside a building labeled "The Queen's Dolls House" was a four foot replica of a house that would have been standing during that period of time. The mini rolls of toilet paper and the small bottles of champagne on the dining table were all said to be real, just tiny. Also on the Windsor Castle grounds, was St. George's Chapel. St. George's Chapel is most famous for being the burial site for Henry VIII, the Queen Mother (mother of the current Queen) and the future site of where the Queen will be buried when she passes. Along with the Doll House and St. George's Chapel, we got to see the changing of the guard. Well, we started out watching bored so we decided to walk around for a bit....then we came back to get a picture by the new guard. Another touristy moment! We were on a mission during those two hours--see as much as we could see! We saw just about everything that Windsor had to offer, like the Crooked House of Windsor. We even walked through the town of Windsor and found where Prince Charles and Camilla were married. He was unable to get married in a church since his first marriage to Diana was in a church so they married in the Guildhouse in Windsor. Our next stop on the tour was Stonehenge. I was a little nervous about this stop because I had heard so many mixed reviews. Some people loved it and others thought it was just pointless rocks on a hillside. Once we got there and we could experience it, I fell in love. My mind started did these huge stones get perfectly stacked without the help of machinery? Why was the monument built? How many years did it take? We were given an audio tour when we arrived and a lot of theories were answered by some of the best of the 'Stonehenge' scholars. Stonehenge is literally out in the middle of nowhere and is said to have been assembled some 5,000 years ago. Some of the stones that are used in the Stonehenge monument were thought to have been taken from a spring 240 miles away, which was thought to have healing powers. Amazing! I'm so glad we were there a little later in the day because we could really stop and take it all in. Our last stop on our tour was the town of Bath. Bath is known for the large communal baths that are right in the middle of the city. The baths were first built when a man was cured of leprosy when he rolled around in a mixture of the warm spring water and mud. He promised that he would build a city if he was cured and he called it Bath. Bath was unbelievable--the whole city had a Georgian style, which consisted of light colored limestone and a half moon shape above the doors and windows. Very pretty! Bath Abbey is a huge, gothic church right beside the Roman baths so we had to take some pictures. The Romans baths were filled with so much information. We were given headsets so if we got to an area that we wanted to here more about, we could type in the number and listen. So much history...finally by the end, we turned off our headsets and just took it all in. We had such an amazing time on the tour. We had about a two hour drive back to London and then from London we had an hour train ride back to Epsom. About an hour into our drive, our tour guide informs us that the demonstrations (protests) got a little out of hand and the whole city was on lockdown. No buses and no trains were allowed to enter central London. About 200 people were arrested for violent outbursts...scary stuff. We were able to find our way back home pretty easily but it was still a pretty scary situation when the tour guide notified us of the changes. I'm just glad we decided to head out of the city instead of staying in London and exploring. We are so grateful for all the opportunities that God has blessed our family with. We're are getting to see some amazing things, learn some very interesting history and spend some great quality time with each other.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Adventures In England--Day 6 & 7

Thursday, March 24, 2011
Today wasn't as eventful as our past days have been and that's okay. This is real life...breakfast, laundry, grocery shopping, the post office and dinner. Once Jason left for work, I was up and ready to go run some errands. I ran into town to 'borrow' some more internet, grab a few things from the store and mail a few postcards off. Well 'borrowing' the internet went fine. I ordered myself a mint tea and slowly sipped on it for two hours, enough time for me to call my mom, answer a few emails and blog. Next on the list was the post office. I saw the sign on the outside wall so I walked differently can a post office be?! Well, the post office in Epsom appears to be a grocery store in the front with a post office in the back. Nothing said 'mail' or 'post'...all the signs were reading other things. I started wondering if I was in the right place until I saw a few other people with packages in their hand. I stood in line and when it was my turn to go to the teller window, I politely told him that I would like to mail these 4 postcards and I handed them to him. He proceeds to hand them back to me and gives me the price for 4 stamps with airmail stickers. Ok...that's fine but how exactly do I mail them if the teller won't take my postcards?! I paid him the £2.30 (about $3) and walked outside to find a 'Post Drop Box' on the outside wall. Just a totally different experience from the post office in the states.
After the post office, I headed to the store. Wilkinson's is similar to a Wal-Mart (is what we were told) so I would be able to grab some food, as well as some other things. When I walked in I knew I didn't need a lot of things so I grabbed a handheld basket. The baskets look the same as the ones in the states but they had an extra handle on one side. I had no idea why it was even on the basket so I just pushed my handle back down and carried it. Well I finally realized what the extra handle was used for when I got a little more into the store. EVERYONE had these small baskets. They were pushing them, pulling them...everything but carrying them. Well, now I know how to properly ask for stamps at the post office and how to drag my basket at the grocery store. Slowly but surely I'm learning the ways of England...ha!

Once Jason got home, we headed to Kingston for one last dinner with Frank. He was packing and he had so many things that he couldn't take back and thought we could use during our stay here. We got some extra pillows, an Oyster card(a prepaid transportation card), a plug with multiple adapters, etc. We'll definitely miss having Frank around to explore the city with! Frank's flight was scheduled early on Friday so after dinner, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Epsom.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Today was another relaxing day...not too much exploring! Jason had a short day, was home by 2:00pm and then 'accidentally' fell asleep trying to read his pediatrics book. As soon as he woke up, we headed into town to walk through the center and do a little shopping. We booked a Saturday trip that would last about 12 hours so we wanted to make sure we had enough snacks and drinks to last us through the day. We enjoyed dinner at a yummy pub and hurried home to spend the night in bed watching movies and playing crossword puzzles. Nothing too exciting but it was the perfect Friday night!

Lessons In English

  • Mind your head when standing= watch your head when standing
  • Drinking or taking= for here to to go
  • Canteen= cafeteria
  • Consultant= doctor
  • Loo= toilet
  • Half Eleven= 11:30
  • Chips= fries
  • Pounds, Quid, Note = currency in paper form
  • Pence= currency in coin form
  • Letting Agent= leasing agent
  • MUST put your hand out to stop the buses or they won't stop.
  • MUST ask for the check when the waitress comes around or you will sit there all night waiting.

So far we've only offended a few people with our American english...I've got to learn a bit more learning to do before we leave!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adventures In England--Day 5

Wednesday, March, 23, 2011
Wednesdays in the UK are also known as "sport" days. The hospitals, schools and even different businesses have separate schedules for Wednesdays. Jason was encouraged to take advantage of "sport" work, just outside being active. Since the weather channel was forecasting some great weather, we decided to make a trip to Hampton Court Palace. We even took went crazy and rode on the top deck of the American thing to do! Hampton Court Palace is huge--the palace itself is ridiculously huge, but the gardens are what most people go to look at. The gardens surround all three sides of the palace and are in perfect condition. We are still a little early for the rose gardens and a few of the 'summery' gardens but we both agreed that we'd love to come back before we leave. Words can't even describe and the pictures don't do it justice....
Once we saw all we could see, we headed to the Thames River. Such a nice evening for a walk along the river.

Adventures In England--Day 4

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Today was laundry day...definitely a learning experience! I am familiar with European washing machines because of our time on the island but this washing machine was a little different. I just wanted a light wash, nothing crazy, and 2 hours later the laundry is spinning and ready to be dried. TWO HOURS and it still needed to be dried...good thing laundry services here are free to students. It could have taken so long because of all the buttons I pushed. Once I couldn't get the machine to turn on, I just started trying any button. Guess I should read the manual before starting the next load.

Once Jason got in around 2pm, we headed into London. The boys (Frank and Jason) wanted to do the Jack the Ripper night walk through London so we decided to just go into the city for the evening. Before I go on any further, I'm sure you're all mumbling under your breath about my flashy coat so I'll explain the neon green coat that I am wearing in just about all of the pictures. It's the inside layer of my ski coat and it hasn't been so cold that I've needed the gray covering, so I just zipped out the inside layer. Unfortunately for me, I stick out like the tourist that I am. I was hoping to blend in a little bit but that's definitely not going to happen. I should have brought my nice black pea coat but it isn't water resistant so it would have gotten soaked during the rainy days. Oh well...a funny story to tell my children one day.

We met Frank at Waterloo station before headed on the tube(underground train/subway just for London) to Covent Gardens. Covent Gardens is filled with a lot of cool buildings but it is kindof known for their theatrical plays.
The tour started at 6:00pm, so we started heading to Tower Hill Station a little before so we could meet up with the tourguide. Before the tour, I had heard the name 'Jack the Ripper' but I didn't really know the history of it. Jack the Ripper was an individual, still unknown to this day, who murdered five prostitutes in ten weeks in the east side of London. Jack was never caught and the police had over 200 suspects. The original wall that separated the two is still standing. Prostitutes from the east side of London would cross over to the richer side of London and wait by St. Bodolph's Church. The church where all the wealthy went and the women knew there would be plenty of business going in and coming out of the church. All five of the women that Jack the Ripper murdered had interesting stories and deaths but seeing all the actual places and the historic parts of London is what really made the story interesting. The Bell pub is the last place one of Jack's victims was seen before she was murdered.
After the walk was over, we headed downtown to Piccadilly Circus, which is similar to Times Square in New York.
It was packed with all sorts of street entertainers and bright lights. It was something I'm glad we got to see but I realized that I enjoy the older, more historic parts of the city better. London is full of amazing sights, new or old, and I'm so thanful that we are able to explore!