Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Karaoke Singer


IMG_0274, originally uploaded by sunnycardon.

Last week was our ward Christmas party. As everyone was cleaning up Antalya finally got her chance at the mic!

Salt Lake City Here We Come!

Our packs are packed, the house is spick and span, and everyone is headed to bed for a few hours of sleep. We leave at 6:00am. Twenty hours later we will be (cross your fingers there are no delays) home for the holidays. I am so excited!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

She's Back

Well, faithful blog readers, I'm sorry to leave you with nothing for so long. Jason had a big term paper to write. So, for nearly two weeks my husband disappeared and along with him went the laptop. We survived. And now, suddenly I find myself nearing the middle of December and wondering where the time has gone. We fly home for the holidays in less than a week! By the time we come back to England and get over the jet lag Victoria will be six months old (I can't believe it), and Antalya will start preschool five days a week.

When I sit back and think about my life I am amazed at all the changes that come with time. Sometimes I wish I could just freeze the moment to make it last a little longer.

When we first arrived here in London, I wondered if Antalya would ever be the same. It seemed getting a little sister, watching all her belongings slowly disappear as they got packed away, traveling on an airplane for a day, then suddenly finding herself in a new home, in a strange environment, surrounded by strangers, and no cousins or grandparents to play with took quite the toll on my little one.

Well, folks, I'm happy to say that as of a few weeks now, Antalya is back! She wakes with a grin, laughs, dances, and sings nearly all day long (and speaking of laughter - Victoria is all giggles these days), and has very few meltdowns (somedays not even a single one!). With all this has come an increased desire to communicate using words. Every day she picks up a few more and she is even beginning to form lots of two-three words phrases. Here's some of my favorites:

cold ba-bee peas (hold baby please)
za ba-bee (the baby)
oh ba-bee (baby is sad, I better go make her happy)
pee-boo (peek-a-boo)
ba-bye see ya
gay-goo (thank you)

And if you thought this certain three year old needs a little help with tasks around the house, think again. She doesn't hesitate to let anyone know that she does NOT need help brushing her teeth, climbing into the bathtub, getting something down from the top shelf, turning on the computer, or opening her own candy wrappers.
teeth
But, boy do I love her spunk!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving in London

Unfortunately Jason's school isn't canceled for American holidays. Thursday's are Jason's busiest day so I was planning on opening a can of spaghetti sauce and boiling some noodles for Antalya and I and calling it dinner, then heading to bed early and probably missing Jason all together. But he surprised me by coming home at 5:00. We quickly called in an order for take-away, and I threw together a pumpkin pie while Jason went to pick up the food. Thirty minutes later we were sitting down to a Thanksgiving feast of fish and chips with mushy peas on the side. And yummy pumpkin pie and ice cream for dessert. I'd have to say this was the most memorable Thanksgiving! I have so much to be thankful for!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Are You Thankful For?

Thursday Thirteen - Until I Became a Mother of Two...

When I held Antalya in my arms for the first time, I felt as if I had been born to be her mother; everything up until that point had had the single purpose of preparing me for that moment when I finally became a mother! The adjustment between being a 9-5 office worker to a full-time mom came so naturally. I felt like I could indeed raise a house-full of children and my dream of having children of my own and then adopting several more would become reality.

But then I became a mother of two!

I have to smile thinking back at my naivety. Don't get me wrong - I still absolutely love being a mother and I wouldn't trade anything in the world for my two little darlings. But having the two of them sure has taught me some things.

Until I became a mother of two...
1. I never cheered to get 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.
2. I never understood how a single piece of chocolate could make it all better.
3. I never dreamed I could feel so much love.
4. I never looked in complete awe at others who have more than two children and wondered how they did it.
5. I never served dinner from a can.
6. I never considered a five-minute morning shower a complete luxury.
7. I never considered McDonald's drive thru an "eating out experience".
8. I never was too busy to forget to brush my teeth in the morning.
9. I never had such piles of laundry.
10. I never imagined I could have two babies so completely different from each other.
11. I never so often laid awake at night full of so much gratitude that sleep was impossible.
12. I never prayed to become like Super Woman.
13. I never felt so much joy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Do you ever feel like life is moving so fast that you have become nothing but a bystander watching it all go by? Victoria is already four months old. She sat unassisted for several seconds today. I wanted to cry.

Yesterday I met with the head of the preschool where Antalya will be attending starting January. I will be sending her off to school five days a week. How did she grow up so quickly? Have i done all I could to give her a good start?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Create

I just saw this clip and loved it! What will you create today?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Assessment Time

Today was Antalya's assessment with speech, OT, PT, and a pediatrician to see where she is at and what serves she will qualify for here in London. I knew it would be a challenge to take Victoria along with us so Jason was able to study from home today and watch Victoria. I decided to give Jason some extra quiet time and Antalya and I headed out a couple hours before her appointment. It has been too long since I had some good quality one-on-one time with my little girl. We went to the indoor play gym. It is like the best McDonald's playground you've seen multiplied several times. There are lots of ball pits, slides, mazes, and tunnels to explore (they don't allow any cameras inside - dang it!). Normally i have to sit at the bottom with Victoria while Antalya plays, but today, since it was just the two of us I got to go around with her. We had lots of fun. We stayed a little longer than we should have and Antalya needed lunch before her appointment so it was off to McDonald's drive-thru (Dad, I admit McDonald's is pretty nice on occasion). She was thrilled to get to eat a Happy Meal. She gobbled it up while I drove us to the clinic.

The assessment went great. They were all surprised at how well she is doing and determined that she just needs speech therapy for right now. The few PT and OT things she needs to work on can be worked on without a therapist at school when she starts in January. I don't know how other parents feel at these meetings, but I have always really enjoyed them. It's fun for me to see all the things she has learned since her previous evaluation.

I feel like we are finally starting to get all settled in here. I'm looking forward to school starting in January for Antalya so that we can get back on track with setting developmental goals, working on them, and follow more a schedule during the day. She will go to school 5 days a week for 2 1/2 hours each day.

Wordless Wednesday - While One Does Art the Other Jumps!



Monday, November 9, 2009

Sisters

I have four wonderful brothers, but not a single sister. Growing up I always told myself I wouldn't want a sister anyways - it would just mean I would have to share my room, my toys, my clothes, and all the attention of being "the only girl". When we found out we were expecting baby #2 I was convinced it was going to be a boy - after all, Antalya needed a brother, right? Someone strong to take care of her, to protect her, to fight her battles for her. I was completely shocked when we found out we were expecting another girl. I worried that maybe they wouldn't get along, that there would be jealousies, that they wouldn't be friends. I know this are all silly things to think - but then again - I never knew what having a sister meant.

A few days ago Antalya tugged on my arm (her way of getting my attention), said "baby", then signed "friends". I asked her if the baby was her friend and she replied with a big grin on her face, "ya!" And then this morning the three of us were sitting on our bed; Victoria would squeal, then Antalya would try to mimic her squeal. They did this back and forth and then suddenly they both giggled at the same moment. This momma's heart melted. I think God knew exactly what he was doing when he sent Antalya a little sister!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - The Way of the Brits


We have been in England for over two months now. Boy, how time flies. To commemorate the two month mark I thought I would post 13 of my favorite things about living in London.

1. Groceries delivered to your door (this means I don't have to carry them up the two flights of stairs).
2. Curry, curry, curry!
3. All the packages of cigarettes say in big letters "SMOKING KILLS"
4. The way Antalya says "choo-choo" whenever a double decker bus passes us.
5. You never have to wait more than about 30 seconds for a walking signal at a cross walk.
6. Round-abouts - they really speed traffic up, instead of waiting at traffic light after traffic light, you just yield to the cars on your right.
7. The Open Door program for children with special needs. Twice a week I can go for two hours and the staff entertain Antalya so I have a chance to visit with the other parents.
8. Tea and biscuits
9. Foot paths that cut through the winding roads to make your journey on foot shorter than it would normally be. And they have fun names like "Lover's Walk".
10. Zebra crossings! Every time we use one to cross the street I watch for zebras. I haven't seen one yet :)
11. Ready made curry sold in jars like spaghetti sauce at the store. All I do is add some chicken and we have dinner made.
12. Rhyme Time at the library.
15. See-saws at the playgrounds (why have these disappeared in the states?)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween

I wasn't expecting to celebrate Halloween this year. But when we arrived in London the first of September I was surprised to find a small Halloween section in the grocery stores selling costumes, chocolate eyeballs, and spider webs to hang in your home. Retail marketing experts saw a great money making opportunity and started selling Halloween to the Brits about 20 years ago or so. Not everyone gets into it. But I saw about 60 trick-or-treaters out last night.

Thanks to a nasty cold bug that we have been waging war with all week, it wasn't quite the evening I had planned. Antalya had a fever Friday night and woke up miserable Saturday morning. We didn't want to change all our plans, so Jason stayed home with our sick little fairy, and the little kitty and I headed to a Halloween get together at a friends house. We had a great time but missed Jason and Antalya.

Here's my Halloween cuties:halloween

And for any who think Antalya is always all smiles, here's this one (I love the matching expressions on their faces):enuf

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Moments

When Antalya was born I was convinced that coming to terms with the fact that she had Down syndrome would be a single event. That one day I would wake up and it would no longer be an issue, that I wouldn't wonder what she would be like if she didn't have an extra chromosome. These past three years have taught me that it's not quite that black and white. Every new phase presents a new coming to terms with the struggles she and I face. With the birth of Victoria and the move across the ocean we entered a new phase. I'd be lying if I didn't say it has been a very difficult one.

Most days I find myself wondering how many different ways of communicating "no" it will take before Antalya understands. Or wishing I could just understand her attempts at speech to prevent the tantrums. Every day seems to be a replay of the previous - trying to correct the same bad behaviors, trying to explain the same things. It's hard to not look at other three year olds and wonder what it would be like if Antalya could talk in sentences, if she could tell me how she felt, if I could explain and reason with her.

But then I have moments where none of that matters. Moments that I am overcome with her purity and innocence. And I am reminded that she was sent her to teach me to be more patient, more kind, more loving. To teach me to live more in the moment and not be so concerned about everything else. Moments that I see my daughter for who she is and all she is capable of. In these moments all the frustration melts away and I just want to hold her in my arms.
fairy

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Today

It's one of those nose-wiping, Seasame Street watching, sneezing, nap-taking, Rascal Flats listening, bubble bath taking, pajama wearing, vitamin C drinking kind of days.

My only goal for the day is to use one of the pumpkins from our pumpkin picking excursion last Saturday to make some Pumpkin Curry soup for dinner. If I'm feeling really ambitious I might make some cornbread to go along with it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Easy English Biscuits (Cookies)

I found this recipe for recently. Antalya and I tried making them several weeks ago. They were so easy and turned out delicious. I couldn't stop munching on them. You could put frosting on them like sugar cookies, or just eat them plain like they do in England (this is the same recipe I used to make Antalya's birthday pizza cookie).

English Biscuits

1/2 c soft butter
1 1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c flour
1 egg
Pinch of salt

Beat butter and sugar together. Add egg and beat well. Add flour and salt and mix until it forms a ball of dough. Add more flour if needed. Roll out and cut into desired shapes. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 for 7-10 minutes (only just golden around the edges).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Beauty Outside Our Door

Our apartment may be small and cramped sometimes, but I love where we live. This is what greets me every time I walk outside our flat. The gardner does an incredibly job keeping our complex looking beautiful. I can't wait to see what it looks like come springtime.
IMG_5805
IMG_5799
IMG_5797
IMG_5806

Monday, October 19, 2009

Potty Time

Most mornings Antalya agrees to sit on the potty for a few minutes. The first three times we did this we had great success. I was beginning to think potty training was going to be a cinch. Well, that was two weeks ago. Since then we haven't had any luck. The closest was a few days ago when after sitting for about 10 minutes, Antalya stood up, said she was all done, walked to the corner of the bathroom, squatted and peed on the floor. Sigh.

Yet, each morning we try it again, hoping that it will eventually all sink in.

And how, you might ask, do I entice her into the bathroom and convince her to for sit so long? The secret lies in allowing her to munch on chips and salsa will she "goes potty". She is a girl after my own heart!

Monday, October 12, 2009

3 Years

There were lots of smiles, giggles, singing, and music...IMG_5905
There was a much longed for trike...IMG_5918
There was a very enthusiastic little sister...vic
And, because a certain three year old can't get enough of pizza and cookies - there was the Pizza Cookie!IMG_5913
Happy Birthday Antalya!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

They Came, They Conquered...

IMG_5833IMG_5832
And poor King Harold of England lost his crown to Duke William of Normandy at the Battle of Hastings.
IMG_5863
And we were there to witness it all!
IMG_5824IMG_5878

Friday, October 9, 2009

Everyday while I fix lunch Antalya gets to sit on the couch and watch Sesame Street on my phone. Today was just like every other day. I handed her my phone, left the room, only to return a few short minutes later to this.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Meet Smiley


Victoria is all smiles lately. It is so much fun to watch her grow up a little more each day. It's taken nearly three months, but I can finally say I love having a baby in the house!

Wordless Wednesday - Bath Time


Monday, October 5, 2009

Stay Left!

Who knew a simple change of sides would cause me so much anxiety on the road. I feel like I have stepped behind the steering wheel for the very first time - I have to constantly remind myself. stay left, check your mirrors, stay left, watch for stop lights, stay left, watch out for other drivers, stay left, stay in your lane, slow for roundabout, stay left, turn on blinker, stay left.

Friday, October 2, 2009

This I Believe

I'm an NPR (National Public Radio) junky. Or at least I was before I left the states. They have these great segments called "This I Believe". They are essays written by ordinary people and then read out loud over the air. I love listening to them because they are so honest and heartfelt. Every time I hear one I take a few moments to ponder what I would write if I were to write a "This I Believe" essay. Today the answer finally hit me.

There were those who thought I was out of mind moving to a one of the biggest cities in the world with a newborn baby and...um, well, how do you sum up my oldest daughter? Let's just say that is absolutely crucial to her survival for me to know exactly where and what she is doing every second of the day. I knew motherhood would be a full time job, but I never expected it to be so literally a full time job as it is with my daughter. But that's beside the point. So, some people thought I was crazy. I could agree with them that moving to, and living in London would not be the easiest undertaking.

I must admit I have my moments, and sometimes, entire days that I wish it were easier, or that I could drop by my mom's house for the afternoon to have a break, or call up a friend who understood and go for a walk. This morning was one of those LONG moments. It was all I could do to just hold it together and make it through the until lunch. I was wondering how I was going to survive the day (and the next, and the next...), and doubting why I wanted to come here in the first place. But then a miracle happened, and I was reminded why we moved here in the first place. I put the babe in her crib awake; five minutes later, and without a peep she was fast asleep. Next I told toddler it was time to take a nap. She laid down with me, and without a struggle fell right asleep (this a first in our household. Usually nap time is pretty ugly; the babe cries for an hour while I wrestle with the older one until she finally falls asleep, then I comfort the babe and get her to sleep just as the older one is waking up). I believe it wasn't happen chance that nap time happened as it did today. It was reminder that I am not alone, and that when I need it most, relief always comes.

You see, I believe there is a higher power guiding our lives. Many times we don't see it, won't admit it, or are so caught up in our own agenda that we refuse to follow it, but that doesn't deny the fact that it is there. I'd like to say I have always followed the promptings I have received, but that would be a lie. But one thing is for sure. That higher power is what has led us to London. For reasons other than what I know, this is where our little family is supposed to be for now. And when I have days where I feel completely alone, I am always sent a reminder that I am not; that there is Someone walking right by my side every step of the way. This I believe!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hang On Baby

Five years ago today I agreed to meet a stranger for lunch. Today that same person is sitting next to me in our recently purchased 1993 turquiose, diesel minivan. There is a constant rattle somewhere in the dash that seems to increase in intensity the faster you drive, the speedometer doesn't work, and the dual sunroof overhead might offer a splash of luxury if it were to function, but it doesn't. I have two beautiful daughters happily along for the ride in the backseat. As we make our way down the heavily congested narrow streets of London my ears are drawn to the lyrics of the cheesy love song playing on the car stereo. "Hang on baby. I'm gonna give you more than you ever dreamt possible." The DJ cuts in during the chorus and with a British accent says, "hope all you ladies out there are enjoying this." the chorus repeats, "Hang on baby. I'm gonna give you more than you ever dreamt possible." I soak it all in. That meeting five years ago has given me much more than I ever dreamt possible.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My mom left for home two days ago. She flew over with us and stayed for a full two weeks to help us get settled. Boy was she a life saver to have here. She entertained little girls, cleaned, shopped, changed diapers, read books, played with toys... she did it all and kept everyone happy.

While she was here we did some traveling. We spent several days seeing the sights in London, and then went to Bath, Stratford-on-Avon (the birthplace of Shakespeare), and Warwickshire. Here's some pics from our travels:

Stratford-on-Avon
IMG_5753

Stonehenge
IMG_5727

Bath
IMG_5722
IMG_5717

Kensington Palace
IMG_5649

St Paul's Cathedral
IMG_0108

A Good Day

Today made up for all the hard days we have had in the last several weeks. This morning I talked to an adult at the park. Marta. She's from El Salvador and has lived her since the 70's. She recently retired from 30 years of teaching at a university here. She was at the park with her two year old grandson. I hope our paths cross again.

This afternoon we met some friends of some friends. The are the family that just moved out of our same flat, and are moving to Germany on Monday. She had loads of info about the area to share. Libraries, playgrounds, playgroups, buses, doctors, discount stores - I can't wait to get out and explore somewhere other than the park across the street.

She has a five year old daughter who happily entertained Antalya for several hours while we visited. The highlight came when I heard the two little girls in the bedroom laughing out loud together. It does this momma good to see her girl interacting with another child!

Life is Good!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Life With a Two Year Old

We have a great park about one block from the flat. Antalya loves it. Although I'm discovering that actually making it to park with both girls by myself is quite the task. Here's how this morning's attempt went:

ME: Antalya, do you want to go to the park?
no reply
ME (several minutes later): Do you want to go play on the swings at the park?
A: ya
ME: ok. Let's go get your shoes on.
Five min later Antalya finally has socks and shoes on. I leave the room to put the baby wrap on and get Victoria. We are all set. I grab the keys to the flat and tell Antalya it's time to go. She doesn't come. I go to get her and find socks and shoes off. I remind her she needs them on to go to the park. She picks up her rainboots and says "boot". It's a sunny day outside, but I just want to go, so we put the rainboots on. We finally make it down the two flights of stairs and out the door. Antalya heads the fish pond right outside our building (see video clip in previous post) . We spend several minutes walking around the pond. We take the steps out of the pond area, but Antalya heads the wrong direction.
ME: The park is this way. Do you want to go to the park?
A: Ya.
We turn around, but then Antalya heads for the pond again. Several minutes later we are back on our way to the park. Antalya spots a door to another building in the complex. She knocks on the door. When no one answers she asks me for a treat. I explain that I have no treats.
ME: Do you want to go home and get a treat or go play?
A: Play.
Next she heads for a car. I remind her it's not ours and she can't touch it. So she turns around and heads to the fish pond. After a total of about 15 minutes outside, she sits down and takes her boots off (they are really uncomfortable to walk in very long).
ME: You need to wear your boots outside. Do you want to put your boots back on and go play at the park or go home?
A: Home.
So I pick her and her boots up. With Victoria strapped onto my front and Antalya riding on my hip we go back up the two flights of stairs into our flat. Maybe after lunch and a good nap for both girls I'll be up for another attempt at the park this afternoon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Home Sweet Home

As promised I finally got some pictures of our flat. I decided it would be easier for a certain grandpa to get a better idea of where his granddaughters are living if I did it in video format. So, Dad these are for you! Rest assure that we are taking very good care of your granddaughters and keeping them very safe from the dangers of big city living!

We love our new home. It's small, but has everything we need. It's away from the street, in a beautiful apartment complex, we have three grocery stores within a 1/2 mile, a big park one block away, and three blocks away from the underground station.
video video

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Getting Here

What we left with...
I wish we could say we arrived with all we left with, but two bags are still MIA. We are crossing our fingers that they eventually make it back to us!

The flight. Easier than I expected! Strangely both the girls decided they would only sleep in the other's car seat. But sleep they did, and this mom was very grateful.


Jet lag. We've had lots of bright eyes in the middle of the night and lots of this during the day. Gratefully, I think we are over the worst.


We found a place to live on Friday, moved in on Saturday, and are working on getting settled. I'll post pics of our "flat" soon!