Tag Archives: life

Home Sweet Home

Well it has been far too long since we last wrote, sorry about that!  As most of you know, we spent the first part of the summer visiting family, making moving plans, and just enjoying the land of the free!  It has been really good to be home.  Ben and I are now settled into our new place and absolutely loving it.  It would be hard not to love it though after three years in university accommodation!  Nonetheless, I thought it would be fun to show you our new place and mention some of my favorite details.

It was pretty fun moving into a place and getting to unpack all of our belongings for the first time in three years.  It felt like we were getting married all over again!  I have to say though, one of the things that God really changed in me while we were in Cambridge was my attachment to “stuff.”  I love stuff.  I love to decorate and entertain, and keep every special memento which means that it is very easy to accumulate.  There were times when Cambridge was really hard because we had so little, and yet the simplicity of life there changed me.  I loved having space.  I loved having empty drawers and cabinets that weren’t packed to the brim.  So as we moved into our new place, there were moments when I felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we had.

I counted eight spatulas.  Eight.  I have certainly never cooked with an octopus so it just seemed a tad excessive.  There was a point when I was unpacking our kitchen that I became overwhelmed as I was running out drawers and cabinets (granted, we don’t have many at all), and I just kept thinking, “what am I going to do with all this?”  I had never even used some of it.  So after we had opened every box, I started really looking at things and making “keep” and “give away” piles.  I had so looked forward to moving home, but I did not look forward to feeling like we were already bursting at the seams.  So we took about four boxes of stuff to goodwill and now I feel like we can breathe.  We have space.  Not every shelf is taken and not every drawer is filled.  It feels good.

So here is just a quick glance into our new home…

Entry way...I love the birds  :)

Entry way…I love the birds 🙂

I have my own couch again!!!!

I have my own couch again!!!!

My new dining room table...love, love, love!

My new dining room table…love, love, love!


Hallway to the bathroom and bedroom...love all the colors in the house!

Hallway to the bathroom and bedroom…love all the colors in the house!

Very small bedroom but it works!

Very small bedroom but it works!


Hands down my favorite thing is having a dishwasher again!

Hands down my favorite thing is having a dishwasher again!

Ben's little garden

Ben’s little garden


We needed extra storage and Ben said he liked these wire racks...I was not a fan at first...now it is one of my favorite areas! Smart man that one!

We needed extra storage and Ben said he liked these wire racks…I was not a fan at first…now it is one of my favorite areas! Smart man that one!


Birthday Surprise!

I forgot to post this a few months ago…better late than never, right?!

For those of you that don’t know, birthdays are a very big deal to me.  Growing up in my family birthdays were always something to look forward to.  If my birthday fell on a school day, my parents would always send a large bouquet of balloons or yellow roses.  I would be loaded with cards, flowers, balloons and gifts, and let’s be honest, I absolutely loved this.  Birthdays were always fun celebrations of love and laughter and I came to cherish each and every one.

As an adult I find it a little more embarrassing to be as openly excited about birthdays, but the truth always slips out.  I just can’t contain the joy that overcomes me when birthdays are near!  This year, the day before my birthday at our Bible study, I was surprised with the most amazing birthday cake ever.  I mean ever.  It was a tribute to America and me and I loved every bit of it (including the person who made it!!).  Everyone at my work knows how much I love birthdays so they did an amazing job of decorating my desk in the craziest way possible.  There were decorations everywhere, cards on my desk, a beautiful bouquet of roses, and a nice big gift!  I was ecstatic.

Another reason I love birthdays aside from all the attention you get, is I adore surprises.  With that being said, I am a fairly difficult person to surprise because I am always thinking of how people could surprise me!  You can imagine my delight when Ben took me out to a nice romantic dinner and all my girlfriends were there to surprise me!  Ben kissed my cheek and left us girls to enjoy a nice night out together.  We enjoyed tasty Italian food and good conversation.

The last surprise for my birthday came a few days later.  Ben had asked all of my Cambridge friends to write limericks (I had to have him clarify exactly what kind of poem this was!) about me and the past year.  There were 29 of them and each one was made up (for the most part) of 29 syllables.  They were amazing.  Some had me crying, others had me smiling, and some had me rolling with laughter (Jackie!!).  Ben put them all together in this great book that had photos of my friends and favorite memories from my 28th year.  This is a gift I will always treasure.  I thought I would share one of my favorite limericks with you since so many of you won’t have the opportunity to see it anytime soon.  I hope you enjoy!

The Surprise by Ben Wilson
She flew across the ocean,
holding this crazy notion:
To home she goes,
but no one knows-
this might cause some commotion!

IMG_8644 B&W IMG_8733 photo (8) photo (9)

Keep Your Distance!

I am not an especially clutzy person.  I have my moments of clumsiness, but overall, I am not too bad.  But this week….this week I can only be described as a walking catastrophe.

On Friday night I went to stay the night with my friend Courtney.  We had a great night of junk food, movies, and Gilmore Girls.  The change in my luck didn’t start until the wee hours of the morning.  In the middle of the night I got up to go to the bathroom.  I had been trying out this adorable eye mask that Courtney made for me, so when I got up I pushed it up on my head so I could navigate the unfamiliar bedroom.  I was walking back to the bed and just about to get in as I reached up to put the eye mask over my face, when my arm and my face slammed into the eave that was on my side of the bed.

I cried out and stumbled into the bed.  Courtney was instantly awake and her slumbering dogs were now at my side ensuring I was ok.  I rubbed my face as I laughed at my clumsiness.  I had said earlier in the night that those eaves were going to be treacherous in the night…how right I was.

My next moment of misfortune happened only hours later.  We had slept in, but eventually we made a plan for the day.  We were headed to the base for some shopping and Taco Bell deliciousness.  I had just finished getting ready and was headed down stairs when my foot caught the edge of the top stair.  My feet flew out from underneath me and my bum and back slammed into the staircase.  I was holding the railing which only made me flip sideways as I crashed down the stairs.  Not only did my holding the railing turn me around, but it meant that all the muscles on my left side were jerked and twisted as I tumbled down.  I lost my grip as the pain tore down my arm and my side, and I hit my head on the stairs.  I felt like I was in a car accident and it was all happening in slow motion.  Eventually I tumbled into the wall and lay in a jumbled heap.  I have never in all my life fallen down an entire flight of stairs.

My body felt like someone had taken a bat to it.  My neck, back, tailbone, shoulders, ribs, and arms were all sore.  As the day wore on I only got more and more sore, and by the time I made it home to Ben I was practically immobile.  Ben took wonderful care of me, cooking and providing me with lots of pillows.  The only exception to his wonderful nursing skills was when he momentarily forgot about my pain and slapped my butt as I walked to the kitchen.  I nearly cried.  He kept apologizing and saying, “I didn’t mean to, it was out of habit!”  He looked so cute I couldn’t help but forgive him.

The next few days were very painful, but with the help of a pillow at work and lots of Tylenol, I made it through the day.  I left the office today and carefully made my way to the bus stop.  It was pretty icy out, so I watched every step I took.  When the bus finally arrived, I had to step in a big clump of snow to get on.  Not good.  I paid the bus driver for my ticket and was trying to zip my wallet when he started to pull away.  I quickly grabbed for a handle but not before the ice on the bottom of my shoes sent me sailing down the center aisle of the bus.  I crashed into the seats and my wallet tumbled out of my hand as change and receipts flew threw the air.  Quarters, pennies, nickels, pound coins, fifty pence, ten pence, and two pence coins rained down on the first three rows of seats.

All the clatter caused the bus driver to slam on his brakes which only made me slip again and as I reached for a rail I tumbled into a seat which was thankfully vacant.  He shouted out and asked if everything was ok.  Oh yeah, great, thanks pal.  I said yes, but could have slapped the man for not just waiting 10 seconds for me to sit down before he hit the gas.  After barely waiting for my response he was off again.  The ladies in the seats around me all bent down and started grabbing coins and handing them back to me.  From two rows away, one lady loudly called out, “well aren’t we rich.”  She apparently was the one picking up the 50 pennies.

I gathered all my coins, thanked the women who helped, and then tried to sink into my seat so that no one could see my face that was blazing red with embarrassment.  As I walked home, I couldn’t help but fear every slippery surface, every uneven stone, and every wobbly bike rider.  When I saw our house, I smiled and sighed heavily.  I made it home, and at the rate I am going, that seems something to be thankful for!

Belated Thanksgiving

We celebrated two amazing Thanksgiving celebrations this year, but I have to say that it was the one that was with our small group from church that will really stick with me.  Between the excitement over candied yams, paper hand turkeys, and a never-ending game of mafia, it was a great night.   There is something about celebrating American holidays with people from other cultures that makes it so fun.  Our small group of British students and young adults was no different.

We celebrated Thanksgiving last year, but I think there was even more of a buzz this year about it.  They knew what to expect and embraced it for the wonderful holiday tradition it is.  Each person who came brought some sort of authentic American dish.  I have to say, they did a great job!  Everything was so delicious.  Especially those candied yams…and I don’t even like sweet potatoes!

Before dinner was ready, everyone took a paper cutout of my hand and drew their own turkey.  The winner would be first in line for dessert.  You can imagine how fierce the competition was.  Once dinner was ready, all 18 of us gathered around a huge table and joined hands as Ben prayed a prayer of Thanksgiving.  Knowing this could be the last time we celebrated Thanksgiving with our small group made me a bit more nostalgic than normal.  I love these kids.  Ok, they aren’t really kids at all, but I just love them all so much.  We each loaded our plates full of Thanksgiving tastiness and sat around talking and laughing together.

My end of the table was practically in tears as Ben regaled us with stories from his childhood.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves and no one left the table hungry!  When dinner had finally come to an end we had everyone hold up their paper turkeys for review. There were a lot of close contenders, but Rosie’s two artistically drawn turkeys stole the show.  The American flag border really put it over the edge!  Rosie led the way through the dessert line and once everyone was seated back around the table we had everyone say something they were thankful for.  It was wonderful hearing everyone share what was on their heart.  I love that sort of thing.

I finished it off by saying how thankful I was that everyone humored me by getting so into one of my favorite American holidays.  That set off everyone chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!”  Ben and I burst out laughing and I couldn’t help but smile.  It was amazing.  After the chanting died down we all cleared the table and headed to the lounge for an entertaining game of charades.  Let’s just say that I don’t think anyone could even come close to Rosie and Colin…they absolutely dominated.  We are going to have to come up with much harder ones next time…

We sat in a huge circle, drank tea, and played games for the next few hours.  It was a perfect night.  As I looked around the room, I couldn’t have been more thankful.  This time of year it isn’t easy to be away from family, but they make it a bit more bearable.  If nothing else, they keep me laughing.  Thank you to all of you who made the night so great, and an even bigger thank you for allowing us to be so much a part of your lives.  You mean the world to us.

Late Night Escapades

I am a late night person.  I don’t feel truly awake until about 7pm and then I am full on energy.  Early on in our marriage this was the cause of most of me and Ben’s arguments.  I wanted to stay up late doing well, anything, and Ben wanted to go to bed at a reasonable hour.  Ben has always catered a bit to me on this, but eventually as I have gotten older (sad but true) and had to wake up for work every day, I see the need for sleep.  I no longer can run on 4 hours of sleep, or at least not well.  I have finally become a real adult and enjoy going to bed before the wee hours of the morning.

I hate forcing myself to go to bed but it must be done.  I had done just this last Tuesday and after my mind raced for a long while, I eventually drifted off to sleep.  I was then abruptly woken up around midnight when shouts and peels of laughter came seeping through our walls.  Our neighbors were apparently having a mid-week party outside in the back garden next door.  I could hear every word they said, hear every shout of exclamation, hear every out-of-pitch tune they sung, and every bottle of beer that was opened. It was like they were sitting on the edge of our bed.

I grumbled to Ben about how ridiculous this was as it was Tuesday evening, but there wasn’t much we could do.  I assumed they would only be our there while they smoked cigarettes as it was raining, but that wasn’t the case.  They stood out there a good 20-30 minutes.  Finally after flipping to and fro angrily in my bed I got up and went to the bathroom where I could spy on them without them seeing me (as our bedroom looks directly over the garden).  I could hear them even louder in the bathroom.  I decided I was going to send a message.  I sneakily lifted our blinds and opened the window.  I then slammed it as hard as I possibly could.  There was a hush of voices as the sound echoed through the air.  I nearly broke the glass panes, but it was quiet.  I smirked to myself as I walked back to our bedroom but I had no sooner sat on the bed, when all the voices started back up.  I was beyond irritated.

I got back into bed and tried to calm myself down.  I closed my eyes and tried to think of anything other than the ruckus outside.  After some period of time, I turned to Ben and pleaded  with him to call the porters.  I couldn’t handle this.  He sleepily got out of bed and dialed the number only to find there was no porter about.  Naturally.  I shoved my pillow and blankets about like the noise intruders could see what they were doing to me.  Of course, this only irritated Ben I am sure.  I flipped on my stomach and pulled my pillow tightly over my head.  The noise was barely subdued.  I tried to fall asleep, but it was to no avail.  Ten minutes later I had had it.  I could think of nothing else but how every minute of sleep was slipping away.  I was not having that.

I threw back the covers, tossed my pillow on the floor (a tantrum which only Ben could see of course) and stormed across our bedroom.  I crossed our living room to the front door and jerked it open as fast as I could.  All the lights in the hallway flicked on as I marched down stairs in my pajamas.  I didn’t care how I looked or the fact that it was raining outside.  I quickly made it to the bottom of the stairs where I threw the door open to the back garden and let the door slam against the wall.  That got their attention.  I then yelled into the night, “I AM SORRY, BUT DO YOU THINK YOU COULD PLEASE KEEP IT DOWN AS THERE ARE PEOPLE TRYING TO SLEEP?!!!  YOU HAVE NOW WOKEN MY ENTIRE FAMILY UP TWICE (they don’t need to know that only includes me and Ben) AND I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE IT IF YOU BE QUIET!!!!”  It is amazing how easy it is to yell at people on the other side of a wall!  As soon as I had finished my rant, the apologies were lobbed over the wall and I felt empowered.  I had put an end to it.  I forcefully shut the door and went back up to my flat.

The group quietly headed indoors and I felt quite content as I snuggled into bed beside Ben.  He was elated that I had acted so drastically and couldn’t stop laughing at me standing in the rain in my pjs yelling over the wall.  I had acted completely crazy, but it felt good!  I don’t plan to have any repeats, but it was nice to know I could get a little worked up if I need to.  The lesson here, don’t go messing with my sleep.  If I can’t be up late, nobody can.  At least not on weekdays.

The Elusive Virtue of Contentment

Contentment is an area of my life where I really struggle.  This time in our lives has been very unique in that we don’t have any of our belongings here except our clothes.  I have grown to be a lot more content with what I have, but there are others areas of discontentment that have snuck up on me.  The things I long for now are not so much material but relational and experiential.

I long for the closeness of our families.  I miss my friends from home.  I have missed everyone these last two years, but what I am experiencing now is an acute sense of sadness at the distance between us.  I find that it consumes my mind sometimes.  It isn’t so much that I am ready to go home because I love it here in Cambridge.  I want to soak up this time we have here and enjoy it for all its worth.  At this moment in time I am not looking to get home earlier than planned.  But that doesn’t keep me from wishing I could just get on a flight tomorrow and spend a few weeks with our families and friends.  I long for home and all that comes with that.

I could never describe our time here as anything but an incredible opportunity, but even the most amazing of experiences have downsides.  As with anything new, there is a honeymoon phase and our time in Cambridge was no different.  I was absolutely enchanted with the city and the English way of life.  Everything just felt so quaint.  Even now there are days that I walk down the street and find myself smiling as I look at all the beautiful architecture and cobblestone streets.  It feels like a dream come true.

I love the city, but I find that occasionally certain things will hit me like, the fact that I really want to drive a car.  And it isn’t enough to drive here.  I don’t want to endanger my life or the countless others that would inevitably be casualties of my desire to be behind the wheel.  I want to be on the right side of the road on the left side of the car cruising down the interstate at 75 miles an hour.  I want to be able to just get in a car and drive to Wal-Mart (yes, I honestly fantasize about this!) and not have to walk 20 minutes bundled in just the right amount of clothing so that I don’t sweat or freeze.

It is strange, because a lot of people ask me how I feel about not being able to have kids yet, and though I can’t wait to have babies, I find that I am content in this area.  We have been trying to start a family for over two years and as much as I really long to be a mother and start that next phase of our lives, I don’t feel the need to obsess about it.  In reality, I don’t have a lot of control over when this happens!  For some crazy  reason, I am content to wait on God for this.  This has been the first time in my life I have experienced contentment despite not being where I want to be.  It seems so bizarre to me.  How is it that I can be content to not be able to have children, even though this is my one of my greatest ambitions, and yet I am so discontent about going home for a few weeks?

I know it may seem crazy to miss home so much, but I guess it was inevitable that I would get homesick at some point in this whole adventure.

The Cakes, The Flowers, The Dresses, The Bride…I Love it All!

My friend Hannah is getting married this weekend.  It seems like just yesterday I was meeting her for the first time outside of Peterhouse and we got to talking about her wedding.  She didn’t have any girlfriends in the Cambridge area so I offered to go wedding dress shopping with her if she wanted.  That was the beginning of it all.  From then on we started hanging out more frequently, and I reiterated that I would love to help in any way I could.  So began my first non-family member wedding planning!

Hannah and I spent time working out the timeline and what needed to be done when, and thankfully she had several of the large items already checked off her list.  The planning process has been so fun, and incredibly valuable, but what I will always treasure most from this whole experience was the wedding dress shopping, which is where we really bonded.  I took off my wedding planner hat and went along as a friend to help her find her dream dress.

We started last June and finished in…October!  It was a long process to say the least, but I loved every minute of it!  Every few Saturdays we would head off to London or some little town and hit up every wedding shop in site.  It was an amazing experience that I feel so blessed to have been a part of.  We would spend the ride there catching up on the week and just getting to know each other more.  In between the dress shops we would stop for lunch and just enjoy the scenery.  There was one town that we went to about three or four times and I grew to love this little town.  We would order sandwiches from the same little shop then go to the park outside the town cathedral and eat and chat.  It was so peaceful.

On another trip I got to visit with Hannah’s future in-laws and they prepared the most amazing afternoon tea.  We had homemade scones, cookies, little cakes, and of course, clotted cream.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.  With every trip, I got to know Hannah better and better.  And that was the real treat.

Eventually, we found the dress of her dreams.  I won’t spoil the surprise, but I can assure you, it is stunning.  I have loved helping plan Hannah’s wedding.  British weddings are pretty different from American weddings, so it has been great experience for me.  I loved getting to meet with the florist, go cake tasting (who doesn’t love that?!), and just help with any advice she needed.  As much as I loved the experience of it all, what I truly loved most was getting to know her so well.  She has become one of my closest friends here in Cambridge and I am just so excited to have been a part of this season of her life.  So needless to say, I cannot wait to celebrate with her this weekend as she officially becomes a married woman!!