Friday, September 25, 2009

There are No Bugs in London and the Streets are Filled With...

I was telling this story to my Mom the other night and she suggested I post it. It happened the first night we stayed at our house here in London.

I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. In our current living situation, going to the bathroom means walking out of our room, into a public hall that is in view of the front door and foyer, next door to the bathroom. (I still have not gotten used to having to put a robe on to go to the bathroom and knowing that I might run into someone in the middle of the night, though I haven’t, still freaks me out a bit.)

Anyway, I look to my right and on the floor by the door is this HUGE black bug. HUGE, like two inches long. I immediately turn around, wake Trey and tell him to deal with this situation. (I don’t do well with bugs and once held a cricket hostage in our bathroom sink with Lysol in Oklahoma for 10 minutes because I knew Trey was on the way home.) So, Trey walks off to handle the situation by the door and I finish the journey I originally set out on. When I return to our bedroom I ask “Did you get it” he replied, simply “doorstop.”

The next day, we were sitting in the queue waiting to enter Buckingham palace and one of the students asked how we slept. I said “Great, I only woke up once! Didn’t you sleep well Trey?” He said “Yeah, except for when you got me up in the middle of the night to chase down the doorstop.”

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I just wanted to add a little tip to the posts I put up from Facebook. The albums I post here are public so you don't have to be a member of Facebook to click and view the pictures.

If you click on the pictures you can read our comments which will technically be our "blog" as Trey helped me with remembering the historical details. Here are my superficial comments:

We LOVED Wales. We could see ourselves living there. It had everything you need including huge department stores, a Staples and quaint shops in this quaint, adorable and city full of character. The people would literally go out of their way to help you if you looked lost. The public transportation was sufficient and the prices were so much lower than London. There was one downside to our trip and it was the hostel… whoops, I mean hotel. We stayed at the Etap Hotel Cardiff Centre. It was awful. It is owned and run by the same company that runs Motel 6 in the U.S. and the U.K. already has lower standards for hotels. You walked in and it looked clean and sufficient. They you tired to get comfortable anywhere and it was impossible. The bed was literally comparable to a table with some towels on it. I woke up at one point and thought “oh thank God, its morning!” only to look at my cell phone and realize it was 2 AM. I then woke up every hour until 6:30 at which point I begged Trey to get up and get ready so we could go downstairs to the lobby until we had to leave. Even with the exhaustion of the night before the city made it all better. We were particularly enthralled with Llandaff Cathedral which got its own Facebook album. Unfortunately, our nice camera died almost immediately after we arrived so the pictures aren’t the best quality. I am just grateful we bought a camera that would fit in my purse (it also takes video which our Nikon D60 doesn’t... just splurge and get the D90 people, you won’t regret it.) Ultimately, it is a shame that this country isn’t as well travelled as much of the U.K. because it was just fantastic.

Lastly, here are the pictures specifically of Llandaff Cathedral.

The Highlight Reel

OK, I am disastrously behind and I am setting aside my perfectionist ideal of going back through the calendar and detailing the events of the past few weeks. Instead I am just going to do a timeline and hit the highlights.

Friday, September 4, 2009 – We went for an ultrasound. I was 16 weeks and desperately hoping to see the gender of the babies. Unfortunately, the NHS policy is that they don’t examine for gender until 20 weeks. I don’t think it would have mattered because one of the babies had their back turned and one was lying on their side so we saw the profile. They are transverse which they have been since 9 weeks. (Transverse means one on top of the other lying horizontally across my midsection.) Both of their heads are on the same side, my right and their feet were on my left. I had been worried because I had only felt movement on my left side but that explains it. They aren’t head banging in there. They were measuring perfectly the same which is a good sign and the signs still point towards fraternal twins.

Saturday, September 5, 2009 – I came down with a viral infection and holed up in my room until Thursday. I think I only left the house once to go to the doctor (a general practitioner “GP”) because of the twins they wanted to be cautious. They just told me to take Paracetamol, which is just Tylenol, sleep and use Vicks and steam. We also told them that both Trey and I wanted to register with that practice. The way it works over here is you have to have a GP to be treated when you are sick or to be referred out for any other service. They sent us home with our urine sample tubes and set an appointment for when we came back from Wales.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009 – I missed the play “As you Like It” at the Shakespeare’s Globe Theater because I was sick. You had to walk about two miles between tube stops and getting to the theater then you had to stand for the two hour play. I was not up to it. Trey went and hopefully I can convince him to put his thoughts here on it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009 – I had another doctor’s appointment with the specialist. This appointment really should have been scheduled for after the ultrasound in the first place. She just told me what the ultrasound tech told me and that everything did look normal. I did write down my questions though and get the opportunity to have them answered. If all goes well with the pregnancy they won’t require me to have an epidural although the do still recommend one because there is a risk of the second baby going into distress and having to perform an emergency ultrasound. If I opt for an epidural I will get to stay awake through the birth of the second baby, if not, they knock me out for the cesarean. My midwife – who I still am having a hard time understanding – will attend me throughout the birth as well as the consultant who will supposedly be in and out. We still haven’t figured how exactly we are going to get the babies home as we don’t have a car. We need to find someone we can borrow two infant car seats from because there is no use in buying them to use one time. We are literally talking about Trey walking the babies home in the stroller and me taking a cab if we are all healthy enough to do so… that sounds so surreal to me.

Friday and Saturday, September 11-12, 2009 – We took the train to Wales. For more specifics on the trip to Wales, I am just putting a link to our album on Facebook which mostly has historical references to what we were seeing so I will also include in that post my superficial thoughts on the city of Cardiff which is where we spent most of our time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009 – This day was mostly spent resting after all the walking we did in Wales. The walking is getting to be pretty hard on my body and while I have more endurance, I am experiencing a lot more pain from it. We did go to church that evening at Holy Trinity Brompton, the Anglican Church we’d visited earlier. We liked it and stayed after for more information. They gave us some email information about their cell groups which they call Pastorates. They don’t have traditional Sunday School. Instead, you meet with a small group every other week in someone’s home. We have since been assigned to one and have emailed the coordinator but haven’t heard back about the details yet.

Monday, September 14, 2009 – We went to register with our GP today. When we got to the counter they were not enthused about registering us foreigners. They kept expecting us not to have all our documentation even though I assured them that before we moved to the UK I had registered with a hospital for maternity and everything was there. Finally, begrudgingly, we were registered. (Part of this process included producing urine samples from both Trey and myself and this was instructed to be done at home before we came in so we had to carry our samples through Kensington on our walk to the doctor. I still can’t get over doing stuff like that.) We both saw a nurse who took our family histories and I appeared to either be dehydrated or having blood sugar issues so for the third time this month I had my blood drawn for a random blood sugar test. Also, for the second time, the blood pressure machine produced an error so they just asked me what my last blood pressure reading was and wrote that down… sounds good enough right? Fortunately, my blood pressure has been around 110/70 so I wasn’t worried about it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009 – Oxford! Our neighbor, Roger, who is like the epitome of what you could ask for in a Brit, is an Oxford graduate and graciously volunteered to escort us to and tour us through Oxford. I will do the same thing I did with Wales with an album with commentary, however, the bonus bits are that we walked… for 8 hours… excluding breaks. Roger has a magic alumni card that got us in most anywhere we wanted to go. His college was Magdalene which was one of the three colleges that vies for the title of the first Oxford college established in the late 1100s. It has the most grounds of any of the colleges and was absolutely stunning. There is this massive park that has deer and “cosmetic cows” as Roger calls them saying they are only there for looks and serve no real purpose and a trail that wraps around the outskirts of Oxford shire with a magnificent view of all of the towers of the colleges. It was stunning and not something you see if you are just walking around the town. We felt very fortunate and at the end of the day, very tired. We arrived home around 8:30 and Trey was sick as a dog. I sent him home and got to walk some more to the grocery store to pick up soup and Orange Juice. I picked up dinner for myself also but never got to eat it because when I arrived home Trey handed me the laptop and said he was sorry but he couldn’t stay awake and the school had finally emailed us our contract for which the needed a response for by tomorrow. The contract was wrong and I ended up working with the school until midnight to resolve the discrepancies that had us in a panic. They were very generous and accommodating as they have been throughout the whole process and, ultimately, everything was fine and there was no need for panic. I guess it was just pregnancy hormones combined with complete and utter exhaustion.

Friday, September 18, 2009 – If I had my druthers, I would not have gotten out of bed. I have been experiencing a lot of pain when I have been walking like we did in Wales and Oxford and it takes me about three days to fully recover. However, I had a follow up doctor’s appointment at 8:40 in the morning. They wanted to draw a fasting blood sugar reading because my readings had been high at the last appointment. My random blood sugar had come back normal and they had credited it to dehydration. I was graciously allowed to produce a urine sample at the doctor’s office this time and I still appeared to have high levels that were either indicating high blood sugar or dehydration. I went ahead and had my blood drawn as I hadn’t eaten since the previous day and they wanted a fasting blood sugar test. The results should come in sometime next week but I really think it is dehydration. I haven’t felt jitters or any of the normal high blood sugar symptoms but I am thirsty all the time. Other than that appointment, I holed up in the house and caught up on email with the school. We are still trying to work out issues with taxes and method of payment as well as finalizing that pesky contract.

Saturday, September 19, 2009 – Today I finally got my full day of rest. I just uploaded pictures which gave me the opportunity to go back over details from the Wales trip we loved and talked to friends and family on Skype. We went out for dinner with Kathy from our office to the Texas Embassy. Now: if you are only in London a few days, don’t bother and just wait for the Tex-Mex at home. However, if you are here long enough to get homesick and it becomes a worthwhile expenditure; the $27.00 fajitas are totally worth it. I could have cried because it felt like I am home. BIG TIP: I have been dying with the tiny glasses of iceless water they give you here. When you go to a restaurant and you don’t want to spend $5.00 for a refill of your coke, go ahead and order a large – empty - glass of ice along with a pitcher of tap water. If you ask for your tap water to be refilled they look at you like you are annoying, however, they don’t mind washing the extra pitcher. They usually also put lemon and ice in the pitcher which they do not put if you just order a glass of tap water. You will feel weird at first when you order it but with all the walking you are doing while you are here you will thank me after your meal. I have literally ordered water and gotten a tumbler. We then all went to the Haagen-Dazs café for a wonderfully expensive dessert. This is the second time I have been full since I have been in London. I absolutely do not know what to eat here and everything is so expensive we have been eating a lot of soup and bread.

OK, you are officially caught up and I am sorry I have been delinquent!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Too Much Information

Gentle Caution: This post might contain too much information. I am going to detail my first hospital visit in the UK for a prenatal (henceforth known as antenatal) appointment. You know we all go through this stuff and I don’t think it is anything too touchy but it was too funny not to include and just too real life in general. I have delayed posting this simply because it was going to be a long one and I needed time to digest everything that occurred in the past couple of days. Plus, Thursday night I got to talk on Skype to my Mom which meant I was up until 1:45 at which point it was already Friday so “I” (read: Trey) decided to sleep instead of update.

Also, if you just want to read the really weird part, it is the one called “The Blood Work”

On Thursday, September 3rd I awoke excited for our first doctor’s appointment. It was at the hospital where I would give birth and I had yet to physically locate it although I had Google-street-viewed it several times from home before we moved. The hospital was about a mile away from my home so naturally we looked up how to get there on the tube or bus because surely pregnant women don’t walk to the doctor, right? Taking public transportation would require walking a block to the tube, walking down a flight of stairs, standing waiting up to 10 minutes on your train, taking the tube one stop, exiting the station by going up two flights of stairs, walking two blocks to stand and wait up to 10 minutes on a bus, riding a bus two stops and walking a block the rest of the way to the hospital. Estimated travel time: 45 minutes. So the day of the appointment we got ready, ate a rushed breakfast and headed off on our first ever walk to the doctor. We left at 9:25 for our 9:40 AM appointment. We barely made our 15 minute mile all the way back to the doors of the antenatal clinic.

THE HOSPITAL: was in some ways very similar to the hospitals we are used to. You walked into a huge open space with a reception desk and as we walked to the antenatal clinic we passed a drink and snack stand, a coffee shop, places to sit and wait or meet for lunch and large escalators that ran to the upper floors. There was tons of light flooding in and there were huge sculptures and artwork on the walls. It was a similar feeling to walking into the grocery stores here. It looked the same at first glance but as you got closer everything was just a little different. Things just look a little more organic and not quite as shiny, catchy and new. We turned into the clinic and went straight to the reception desk. We were supposed to arrive 10 minutes early and had actually arrived at the scheduled time of our appointment. I apologized for this and was told not to be silly then asked for my records. I handed the man at the desk a copy of my records from the U.S. as well as copies of our hospital registration forms. Registration forms include copies of a passport, visa, and a utility bill proving that you reside in the area for the hospital you are claiming you are zoned to. We don’t pay our utility bill, our employer does, so they allowed us to present a bill with their name and a letter from them stating that we did live at the address and the bills were paid by said employer. You have to provide this because you are zoned to a hospital the same way you are zoned to public school in the U.S. and people try to be sneaky if they don’t want to give birth or be treated at a particular hospital. Upon being presented with these documents the reception clerk looked at me like I was from Mars. He said “don’t you have a [sheeshenslobben]”? (Omitted because I still have no comprehension of the word he used to describe my U.K. records.) I replied that the midwife had said she would send something over and we had just moved here a week ago so it was our first time to hospital. A light bulb went off and he reached over to a cart and handed me a copy of my records then sent me to the waiting room immediately behind us. (Note for later in the blood work section of this post that I alerted him my name was wrong on the records. They had my maiden name. He replied by saying “O.K.”)

THE DOCTOR: We waited with about 10 other women many of whom were there just to have blood drawn and eventually a tall blond woman in plain clothes with an American accent called me back to the exam room where my consultant “specialist” (at least that is who I think she was, she might have been a Physician Assistant or a doctor on the consultant team but not the main consultant because she kept referencing the consultant…) was waiting. She was a shorter blond that looked about 30. Both women would have looked more appropriate on T.V. than an exam room. They sat facing a long desk pushed up against a wall. We sat next to the desk with our backs to the wall facing an exam table and curtain that shielded the patient who was being examined from the door with the window. It was a slight bit smaller than exam rooms in the U.S. but felt quite a bit smaller with four people in there. They began by asking what my doctors in the states had told me about what to expect with a twin pregnancy. I described briefly the complications they said I might expect then the U.K. doctor went into detailed every complication I had read about. They called them by different names such as In Uterine Growth Restriction vs. In Uterine Growth Retardation, and how they would test for them throughout the pregnancy. It was all information I had heard before. They then felt around my tummy and sent me to take a urine test.

THE URIN TEST: OK, here is where things started getting a bit… different. First of all they handed me a vial, not cup because it was about twice the size of a vial one’s blood goes into and sent me off to the bathroom. Once inside I looked everywhere for the permanent marker to write my name on it but there was not one to be found. I also looked and tried lots of knobs looking for the holder where the magic lab elves takes your sample, process it, and send you your results a week later. There was no such receptacle. (As a side note, you should know that the toilets here even at the hospital are a good foot shorter in the length of the seat than the ones at the hospitals in the U.S.) So I took my vial, acquisitioned my sample and, having nothing else to do with it, wrapped it in paper towels, washed my hands and carried it out of the bathroom, down the corridor with all the patient rooms back to the room where my doctor, my doctor’s student and my husband were sitting. I awkwardly announced that I was holding my pee… in my hand… and couldn’t find a receptacle in the bathroom. The student of the doctor assured me I had followed procedure, put gloves on, took my sample over to the sink about a foot away from my husband, and opened it and STUCK THE TEST STRIP IN IT!!! Right there in front of all of us she was testing my pee!!! She told me the preliminary results and that they would send it to the lab like normal medical professionals. For the rest of the visit things returned to normal then I was sent for blood work. I had an opportunity to ask questions but I couldn’t think of any because I was so distracted.

THE BLOOD WORK: OK this is where it really gets different. I was sent back to the waiting room and instructed to take a ticket for the blood work. My number was called quickly and I went back to a normal room where you give blood. The only thing unusual here was that there were some hospital workers taking inventory of birth related drugs in a cabinet about two feet away from me. The technician tried a couple of times to take my blood but was unsuccessful. She then kindly called upstairs said I had already waited in antenatal and could they put me to the front of the line if she sent me upstairs. After securing me a spot at the phlebotomist where I was assured all the equipment was kept for difficult veins like mine. She assembled all of the test tubes into this wide mouthed aluminum cup and stuck various stickers around the outside of the cup. Trey said the cup looked like the bottom of a jiffy pop container. She handed this to me and directed me upstairs. I walked through the wide, open, sunny lobby and rode the escalators upstairs. I found the blood lab and walked into what I had pictured when I heard stories about NHS care. The room was quite large for a waiting room and had chairs zigzagged all through it with lines of patients waiting for blood work. I went to the desk at the front of the room and said I had been sent from downstairs. They allowed me to sit in an area right outside of the door where I could see people’s blood being drawn.

I was called in quickly. I sat down in front of one of four techs drawing blood. They were super sanitary. For every patient they changed a plastic apron that went from their neck to their knees. They then put hand sanitizer on before putting on plastic gloves. The gentleman made a valiant effort to find a vein and right before he was about to stick a needle in my wrist, like where you take your pulse which didn’t seem like that great of an idea, another technician, the only female in the room, stopped him and called me over. She found a spot on my hand and drew my blood then stuck the stickers from the cup onto the blood. I pointed out to her that the stickers said my maiden name and I kept asking for it to be changed to my married name. She went and got her supervisor who asked me why I hadn’t told them downstairs at the antenatal clinic. I replied that I had and they hadn’t done anything about it. He then said his concern, which was my concern, was that the blood would be sent off with the current name and come back with no matching record because my name would have been changed in the meantime. He appeared frustrated with the antenatal clinic and as he was ripping stickers off of my blood he told me to take my blood back downstairs and ask them for new stickers with the correct name. I then walked… with my blood in a plastic see through baggie… down the escalator through the sunny lobby with the food carts and the waiting visitors and the gift shop and the artwork back to the antenatal clinic. I informed the reception clerk that I was in need of new stickers per the blood lab’s instruction. We proceeded to go through the extensive name change process. I told him my name was Medley. He printed out new labels with “Melody” on them. I said no, “Medley” and he corrected the labels. He gave me two pages of labels a little smaller than Avery 5366. I stood there, blood in one hand, labels in the other, at the desk thinking “what am I supposed to do with these.” He prompted me to put them… on… the… blood. I removed my blood… in the waiting room… peeled new labels and stuck them on my blood then returned my blood to the baggie. He then prompted me to drop it into a hole in the desk I had not previously noticed. Like a square cut out hole. It was not covered up, everyone’s blood was just thrown in there. Like if it struck me I could have just grabbed a bunch of blood and gone running out of there. Like there were pencils, a stapler, pamphlets, and a hole for blood. I dropped my blood in and went to hand him my medical records. He rejected my advance and told me I would need to correct my name throughout my medical records and bring them for my next appointment. Silly me, you keep your own records in the U.K. Trey and I then took labels and covered up everywhere my maiden name was mentioned with my brand new labels with my current name.

The rest of the day will be detailed in another blog because frankly, this one deserves to stand on its own.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Slowing Down

The longer we’re here the more free things we look for to do and the more we are trying to cook in. Yesterday morning we got off to a slow start but in the afternoon decided to take our first trip to the National Gallery. As it is free, I anticipate we will make many trips in the future. To get there we took the tube to Leicester Square. It is interesting in itself. It has a lot of restaurants and a couple of theaters. We were there on a work day so there were lots of people on their lunch break. I got excited when I saw the Haagen-Dazs Café that I had gone to when I was here at 17. I had tried to send Trey when he was in London last summer but we couldn’t find the listing online and I couldn’t remember exactly where it was. We had been keeping our eyes out for a place to stop and have a snack after the museum so it was perfect.

We then walked to Trafalgar Square. It was our first sighting on this trip so we gave it the obligatory look around. It was about to rain and I keep thinking of all these places “I’ll go back and take pictures when the sun is shining” but we did take a few. When we got inside the gallery we grabbed a map and worked out our strategy. The museum is divided into periods and as it was free we decided to look at it progressively over time because who has time to do stuff like that right? We picked our favorite period to start with (18th through 20th century) and worked our way around that corner o the museum taking our time. We noted our favorite paintings all the way through and have determined to go back and see various periods on various days then rent those audio tours and hit our favorites as there are 40 plus hours of commentary available. We toured it and it was wonderful just to walk around for free and take in all those famous works of art. We followed it up with a brownie ice cream dish at the Haagen-Dazs café. We split it because it was a whopping £7.10. We then hurried home in the rain. After a bit we went to the grocery store. We had intended to make sandwiches, however, bread here molds quite quickly and we were dismayed to find our loaf had been lost. We were starving and after wandering around finally decided on a bag of microwave risotto from Uncle Ben. All I knew was that I knew the name and wanted something familiar. We then watched a movie (Gosford Park) in the T.V. room downstairs then went to bed for a fitful night of sleep.

Today we woke up by the skin of our teeth and had a big day doing things for the house. There were several things we had collected that we needed, lots of dishes, replace a molded shower curtain, a step ladder, etc. We went to a store called Homebase. It was like Home Depot meets Home Goods. They had everything from cleaning supplies to lumber to bath tubs to bedding to furniture to picture frames. It was wild to be in a shop like that after all the small shops we had been in. It was only two miles away but we took the bus about a mile then walked about a mile. By the time we left we had acquired so much there was no way we were making it on the bus. We had 6 tea cups and saucers, 18 mugs, 24 place settings of dinner ware and an assortment of other household items. Apparently this is a common issue at the Homebound store because they have a phone that directly rings a car service. You just pick it up and it dials. A car was there fairly quickly and the driver even helped us unload. I rang the doorbell several times and got the students downstairs to help us carry everything… very nice… and we had it all downstairs in one trip. We spent the rest of the day washing all the dishes in the dish washer, so far we’ve done three loads and we’re not completely done! We walked, in the rain, to a closer grocery store which has better meat for dinner. It is called Waitrose. It is a little more expensive but sometimes worth it for the freshness. We got a whole chicken, some lemon and rosemary rice and found these bags of fresh cut vegetables ready to steam for about £8 plus we have leftover chicken to use for dinner tomorrow. I am still freaked out about how much more expensive everything is but I am getting adjusted.

One thing I am not getting adjusted to is living without our dog. I miss her terribly even though I know she is in good hands it just really gets to me that we can’t tell her why we left her or that we’re coming back. So, for those of you who pray for us (and we greatly appreciate your prayers) pray for me because I am missing her really badly and am a little homesick in general. I know we’ve only been here a week but we haven’t met any couples our age. It is great to have the socialization in the house that we have and it really helps, however, I miss the friendship of people in the same phase of life as we are. I am also eager to find a church home. Also, we found out they were looking for a Biblical Perspectives professor for next semester which is something Trey is qualified to teach so he has asked to be considered for that if you could pray in that area we would be so grateful.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day of Rest

Yesterday was Sunday so I took off blogging. Trey and I went with the students, professor and Kathy to a church called Holy Trinity Brompton. I got on their website ahead of time as Trey and I will actually be looking for a church home and they described themselves as a ” vibrant Anglican church in the heart of London, with a vision to play our part in the re-evangelisation of the nations and the transformation of society.” (They are also the church that began the Alpha divorce recovery program if you have heard of that.) We were told it was super casual but as I will only be able to fit in my pre-pregnancy dress clothes for a short time longer I decided to go ahead and wear my typical Sunday clothes. I did opt for my Cole Haan flats with the Nike Air in the heels as we were going to be walking the mile to church. About a quarter mile in, my heels began to attempt to break free from the bondage of the closed heel that had not held them from the time I left my job over a month ago. By a half mile I was bleeding. Band aids were tried, Kleenex was tried all to no avail. I was so frustrated I cried, thank you pregnancy hormones and leftover jet lag, which was embarrassing, as the timing of my tearful moments always tends to be. I walked on my tip toes the rest of the way which minimized further damage but has left me with one sore shin. By the time we got to the church and sat down I realized that my sole focus of the entire journey had been moving forward and I had missed all the scenery. The best way to see this city is just to walk it. If you are going less than three tube stops, don’t ride, just walk… with tried and true shoes I should say.

When we sat down the first thing that struck me was the juxtaposition of the stone walls, arches and alfresco painting surrounding the Alter with the mammoth screen suspended in front of the alfresco playing a praise and worship rock band concert. I couldn’t reconcile the mishmash of a cathedral with what I was watching on the screen. We sat on chairs lined up like pews but completely mobile. You could tell the entire hall could be cleared of the chairs. The church was super casual but there were people dressed up as well. There were several nationalities in the congregation and it was very easy to feel at home as the atmosphere was pretty “come as you are” despite the formality of the physical building. As the worship leader took the stage I was pleased to find that I knew the song. As the worship service progressed I actually only found two songs I didn’t know. I always like to listen closely to the announcements in a new church because I feel like outside of the Biblical teaching it is the best way to get a feel for the direction of the church. They had a week of focused prayer coming up with an emphasis on missions and a marriage conference for their focus group leaders coming up. The sermon was very basic and watered down. There was a passage read at the beginning followed by a list of tips for keeping your relationship with God authentic. They had open communion which we took (non-alcoholic wine for the pregnant lady.) I had never taken Anglican communion and I could tell when they handed me the bread and the cup I was supposed to say something but I did not know what that was so I just mumbled something indescript then asked Trey what I was supposed to say when I got back to my seat (regretting the whole time that I couldn’t go barefoot.) It was just “Amen.” Finally the time came for the end of the service (it lasted from 11:30-1:00) and that unfortunately also meant the time to walk home. Kathy offered to send me on the bus but determined to build calluses so I can wear my Cole Haan flats around Paris I refused, re-secured my band-aids, repositioned my Kleenex to a more prime, yet embarrassing, position and plunged ahead.

We stopped about two blocks from the house at an authentic Indian restaurant the only things I know I ate were rice and chicken in some sort of creamy sauce. There was flat bread that you break apart and dip in either a minty creamy sauce, a fruity mango sauce, or a chunky spicy sauce. Kathy also ordered a super spicy vegetable medley dish and a creamed spinach dish for the table. I loved the chicken and was full for the first time since we arrived but I have no desire to eat there again for a long while. We returned home and lounged around for the rest o the day.

Today we stayed around the house. I slept until 10 even though Trey got up for breakfast at 8. (We have a set breakfast from 8 to 8:30 AM Monday through Thursday because breakfast is paid for by the house and a student assistant sets it out and puts it away… have I mentioned how spoiled we are going to be when we get home?) We got up and met with Kathy about house issues. We had a lot of questions and we still have not gotten a signed agreement for our employment nor has the school been able to figure out our peculiar tax situation therefore we have not begun receiving our living stipend so we are currently living off savings (hold your breath!) We began doing laundry which can be a juggling act in a house with 9 people and one washer/dryer. We did 6 loads today and it was only our clothes. We still need to do our sheets and towels. I was really wishing we had gotten it done earlier because today it was 81 degrees which you really feel when there is no AC around and you have worn all your summer clothes. Laundry took us until 5:00 and by then I was starving. Trey and I decided to go to Hard Rock and let a few people know. Within about 5 minutes we had a group of 5 going, so fun! We took the tube down there and had a great American dinner. Everyone had burgers except me and I found some chicken mac and cheese on the menu. The big draw for Hard Rock is FREE REFILLS!!!!! Oh how I miss them, oh how I enjoyed them. Promptly when we sat down I told our waiter just how excited we were for them and he kept our cups flowing. It was probably one of the top mini-moments of the trip so far. I am already adjusting to the smaller portions and could not even eat half of my dinner. Trey took home half of his burger. We were all so stuffed we decided to walk the two miles home which can actually be faster than taking the tube home. I was quite excited as this journey took us past some of the nicer shops including… duh duh duh duh… Harrods! We got to see the lights pop on just as we were walking past and all the lovely window displays. The walk home did a lot for the fullness of our bellies. This evening our first little bump in the road with cleaning and household responsibility occurred. Of course, I can’t go into details but I did want to mention that everyone came together and we all seemed to move forward as a group and reach a point where I think everyone had a happier outlook. Off to bed we go!