Tag Archives: California

In Case You Didn’t Know, We Miss You

There are a lot of emotions that come with moving half way across the world.  We have experienced excitement, nervousness, frustration, joy, confusion, and most recently, sadness.  I suppose sadness isn’t really the appropriate word.  We feel melancholy.  Very, very melancholy.

You see, our one year anniversary of moving here occured about a month ago.  Since that time, it has been like a switch was flipped.  The miss home like crazy switch.  Throughout our time here, we have missed things like food and driving, large grocery stores, and customer service, but those aren’t the things we are missing right now.  Those are all great things, but right now we miss people.  Friends from church, Talbot, work, Oklahoma, and Colorado consume our conversations.  God has blessed us with so many amazing friends and mentors and it has been hard to be so far away from all of them.  We miss dinner dates with our friends the Van Schoicks, brunch sunday at Grace, family night with the Klinks, praying with our small group, and so many other people and experiences.

I miss shopping with Ashley (even though we never had any money to spend!), my Esther Bible study girls, starbucks runs with Dani on breaks we weren’t supposed to take, Talbot Wives prayer groups and ALL of the amazing friends I met there, eating hot dogs and burgers on the patio with the Polks, and coffee dates with my mentor, Teri.  There are so many more people we could mention that have impacted and blessed our lives, but this is a blog, not a book (though I know some of my posts could make one think I don’t know the difference).

At the end of the day, Chick-Fil-A and real milk shakes just don’t fill the void that we feel right now.  When you miss people, everything else just kind of fades in comparison.  And when those people are your family, the comparison is even more stark.  I woke up this morning and read a facebook messge from Ben’s sister, and I just started crying.  The message was nothing more than a simple question about something, but I was just overwhelmed with sadness.

I miss my mom’s amazing chocolate fudge and the way she makes every holiday and every visit so special.  I miss my dad and all his crazy childhood stories and the constant sound of a bass that accompanies him.  I miss my brother who is always bursting with energy and drumming his fingers on every surface.  I miss his beautiful new wife Stephanie who always seeks to serve others and her love for Zach just touches my heart.  I miss Ben’s mom and her fits of giggles when she is with her sisters and the way she dotes on her beloved Oscar (her dachshund).  I miss Ben’s dad and his wonderful smile that blesses your heart because it is so sincere in its love.  I miss Ben’s sister and the way she is always itching to go on walks and just spend quality time with people.  I miss her husband Alex and his witty comments and excitement over amazing books we all equally love.  I wish I could wrap my arms around each of them right now.

It isn’t that we miss America all that much right now, beause we love it here.  We just miss connecting with people that have meant so much to us.  It feels like we are living over here in this kind of pretend world because we haven’t really gotten to share it with anyone from home (minus Cassie of course).  We have come to realize that if you can’t share your world with people, it just lacks the fullness that it would otherwise have.  This exeperience isn’t just something for me and Ben, it is something we want to share with those we love (and even those we barely know would be ok at this point!).  We want to build precious memories with friends from home even now.  We don’t want to wait two years to continue to do that.

I don’t mean for any of this to make anyone feel guilty or sad for us, but along with the exciting and new things that we encounter here, I also want to document the difficult times we face.  Right now is one of those times.  We love people.  We have spent the last six years of our marriage meeting incredible people and building the kind of friendships that just warm your soul.  You don’t leave those people and not feel the loss.  Our hearts are a little heavy right now, but just know that to all of our friends and family out there scattered across the US, we think of you all the time. We love you.  We cherish you. We miss you.  xox



To Drive or Not to Drive

Today I was asked for the first time in 12 months if I wanted to drive.  My fingers started twitching at the idea of being behind a wheel again.  I could feel the adrenaline course through my body at the idea of my right foot slowly pressing down on the accelerator.  I could practically feel the car picking up speed and I couldn’t help but smile.  I have missed driving so much.  I was in a pretty bad car accident in college and was afraid to drive for several years, but after a few months of driving in California, I was cured.  I am still a far more cautious driver than before, but I love to drive.  I pretty much never pass up an opportunity to drive.  That is, until today.

I have been extremely nervous to drive here in the UK since they not only drive from what I think of as the passenger seat, but they drive on the right hand side of the road.  Double whammy.  I just can’t get my head around it.  Thankfully I haven’t been put the situation where I have needed to drive and I have quite simply avoided all forms of transit that depend on me being in control (ie. cars and bikes).  Today however, my coworker asked if I would like to drive the company car to our induction site.  Me, drive?  You’ve got to be kidding.  At least, that was my first thought.  As we climbed into the car, I watched my coworkers every move.  I sat silently watching him turn the car on, shift the car into drive, and cautiously pull out of the parking spot.  I could do that.  I am sure I could pull out of parking spot from the other side of the car.  Now I wanted to drive.  I wanted to be in the driver’s seat, but it was too late, we were already driving.  Well kind of.

We pulled out of the spot, which took about a full minute, and no, we didn’t even have to reverse.  My coworker was absolutely paranoid about driving a car the size of a small Durango.  He practically panicked when leaving the parking spot.  We drove the .5 miles to the induction site and it literally took about 5 minutes.  I had a hard time not laughing out loud.  You see, one of the crazy things about British citizens is that a lot of them do not get their driving licences until they are adults.  My coworker is nearly 30 years old and he has only driven his car since he began driving which was only a few years ago.  The idea of driving anything else was terrifying to him.  When I got home, I counted how many cars I had driven over the years, and it was at least 20.  Not exaggerating.

I have had so many conversations with my coworkers and other British friends and it never ceases to amaze me at the differences in driving in the UK versus America.  People here are constantly surprised to find out not only that I have a driving licence, but that I have actually been driving for over 11 years.  At my age that is practically unheard of over here.  I have tons of employees who hold driving licences (and have for years) who don’t feel comfortable driving on a highway or for any length of time over about two hours.  This seems absolutely crazy.  When I think about the fact that I drove by myself to and from college which was 11 hours away at the age of 18, I find myself speechless when someone who is 30 who won’t drive 3 hours down a main highway.  It just seems crazy.

Now with that being said, I do admire how serious the British take their driving.  It isn’t something they take lightly and they are for the most part pretty cautious.  It is also comforting to not see so many people who look about 12 driving a vehicle at 70 mph.  As crazy as it seems that they don’t drive until their 20’s, and they rarely ever drive someone else’s car, I guess I find myself happy that they go to such lengths to be safe.

As much as I want to drive and long to be behind the wheel of a car, I know that until I understand the road signs and am confident that I will stay on my side of the road, I will have to continue my journeys as a passenger.  But that won’t keep me from giggling when I think about driving less than 5 mph down a private road, in a car that is half the size of the car I learned to drive in…with someone who is nearly 30.

Check Please!

We have spent the last two days eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner with friends in California.  We are trying to see as many people as we can while we are here and that means eating more meals and sipping more coffee than we would ever normally do.  I am definitely going to be about 10 pounds heavier when I return to Cambridge.  Oh well…I will work out when I get back!

In all the meals that we have shared I have found myself blissfully happy when it comes to the bill.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  I am happy when the bill comes.  Why is this you ask?  Well let me tell you.  In Cambridge I have eaten with several British people (Hannah don’t worry, you aren’t one of them!) and to my great consternation they insist on splitting the bill.  This would not normally aggravate me, and I have split the bill a hundred times in the States, but the thing is, this only happens when both people have eaten about the same amount of food and drink.  You don’t split the bill when one person eats steak and consumes five alcoholic beverages while the other person eats a side salad and water.  That just isn’t how it is done.

I have gone to multiple dinners in Cambridge where I purposefully order a cheaper dinner because Ben and I really have to watch our money.  I can do dinners out occasionally as long as I don’t go crazy.  So I skip the appetizers and dessert and get a smaller but tasty dinner and maybe a coke.  I think I am going to come out pretty good until someone at the end of the meal says, “why don’t we just split the bill?”  Why not split the bill?  Let me tell you why.  You ordered an appetizer, one of the most expensive entrees on the menu with all the additional costs of sautéed mushrooms and grilled onions, dessert, and of course, a drink for every stage of this meal.  Is it really so shocking that I wouldn’t want to split the bill?  Apparently yes.

These dinners with groups of people are breaking our bank and only mean less dinners out.  I have tried to casually offer that we each just pay for our own meal but that instantly gets shot down.  I don’t want to break any sort of social norms or offend British sensibilities, but I think this is just crazy.  After this week of splitting bills and ordering what I can pay for, I have gained confidence and next time, I will only be paying for my meal.  I just can’t bear to spend 20 odd pounds on a dinner that should have only cost me 10.  Once in a blue moon yes, but it has become a regular occurrence and I just can’t allow this kind of habit to be formed.  So get ready England, I am coming back and I am not splitting bills unless it makes sense…or the bullying continues in which case my confidence will crumble.  Let’s hope not though…our bank account can’t afford my timidity.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Christmas in Cambridge is like no other.  Since mid November preparations have been underway.  The doorways of shops have been adorned with wreaths and mistletoe and strings of lights have been hung above the cobblestone streets.  Glittering angels with trumpets, strings of lights hung everywhere, a large Christmas tree near the city centre, an ice-skating rink lit up at night in a nearby park, Christmas music pouring out onto the street as shop doors open and close.  It is a site to see!  I have never felt more ready for the holidays than I do this year!  Maybe it is because I have spent the last four years in California with the balmy weather that I am truly soaking everything up.  But I don’t think that is it. 

I think that Cambridge has captured what most people think about when they think of Christmas.  People dressed in scarves and mittens with small children and shopping bags in their hands.  Snow glistening on the rooftops as smoke rises from every home.  Blazing fireplaces and rosy cheeks.  Hot cocoa, candle lit church services, and nativity scenes.  I get excited just thinking about it!  Even though it is below freezing, you walk outside and feel a sense of joy at your surroundings.  Today for instance, I went out early this morning for a job interview (cross your fingers for me!) and it was bitterly cold.  I was wearing these high heels (which I have come to the realize are completely impractical here) and because my feet were so cold and numb, I tripped over my pants twice.  I nearly face planted right in front of this couple kissing.  Thank goodness for the little coordination I have!  Anyhow.  I was freezing cold and waiting at this bus stop but it was wonderful (ok, minus the three 14 year olds smoking next to me).  Stores were just opening up, and people were strolling by looking at all the festive window displays.  The smell of hot chocolate was wafting through the door of the chocolate shop next door.  I felt relaxed (or as relaxed as one can be before an interview) and excited about the upcoming Christmas celebration.   Things are slowing down here and I love it.  Christmas is such a special time of year and I love that everything becomes calmer and less hectic here.  It is as it should be.  Time set aside to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Christmas time in Cambridge is amazing and I wish we could share it with everyone.  It is a truly unique experience.

Summer Pictures

Before we get too caught up with our routines here in England, we want to make sure that we post some pictures from the summer.  Over the last four months, we spent time in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, a day in a North Carolina airport, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.  Here are some of the visual highlights (We didn’t always have our camera with us, and we didn’t always get great pictures, so sorry if we don’t have a picture of you if we visited!):