Thursday, 20 December 2007


Look what just arrived on my doorstep! The Kitchenaid, not the lemons. The fabulous and thoughtful Nate and Heather crew just had this delivered for me with best wishes for a holly jolly Christmas. How fun is this?!

I am SO pleased about this . . . last year, when we moved to England, New St Andrews college gave me a gorgeous red Kitchenaid as a going away gift. I loved that thing, and used it all the time - and kept it on my kitchen windowsill where I used it daily. But then, at the end of the year we had to move home to Moscow, not knowing if we would be returning to England. Because of the issue with the plugs and voltage being different in the States, the Kitchenaid couldn't come with us - and since we didn't know if we'd be returning there was nowhere to store it. So I reluctantly sold my mixer and told myself that I'd buy a new one at home and it would still be my NSA mixer. But then back we came to England and life is crazy and we still don't have a bed frame . . . so a Kitchenaid was a ways down my list. But not far enough down that I didn't pine for my old cheery mixer sitting jauntily on my windowsill. I pined especially when it was time to make a double batch of chocolate chip cookies - and I definitely could have used it during my marshmallow fluff escapade.

And here it is! And it's yellow this year! Thanks Nate and Heather - you're way too fun!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Better Than Last Year!

That last picture that I posted was so pathetic that I felt it needed something to balance it out. And so, here is our festive little mantle to try and take all of our minds off of the forlorn bit of shrubbery pictured a bit lower on the page. Much cheerier don't you think?

Lest you think I exaggerate . . .

Right then. I can tell that some of you (yes family members, I'm speaking of you) think that I might have been touching up the story of last year's Christmas tree a bit much. But I accidentally happened across this picture and thought that I should post it for everyone's edification. This is how it looked right before it got hauled out the door after I had picked out most of the pipecleaners. But come to think of it, I'm not sure why I bothered with that part.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Christmas time!

Well, we got the tree up. This is actually impressive news. And strange to say, it's still alive - which is even more impressive news. AND we have a few ornaments! So life is good all round.

We had to leave all of our ornaments in Moscow when we left, and last year I never got around to aquiring any in time. (I had other things on my mind like trying to figure out where the grocery store was and how to not kill myself trying to drive to it on the left side of the road!) So this meant that when the time to decorate the Christmas tree rolled around I just handed the kids a whole load of pipecleaners and some beads and told them to go to it. This resulted in several things. The first was beads up the nose, and the other was a really, really bizarre little Christmas tree. The poor thing just had wiry bits sticking out all over it and nothing else really. As if that wasn't bad enough, it promptly lost all its needles. And when I say all, I am not exaggerating in the slightest. By Christmas day, the tree had not one single needle left from about 5 feet on down. It seriously looked like a disease had swept through the forest leaving only a wreckage of orange twigs. Of course, all of these needles fell off onto my living room floor you realize. I did my best to clean up the ones that broke free and got out onto the carpet. But the rest that fell in and amongst the presents just had to wait until after the tree came down.

And the tree came down on Christmas day, before lunch. I have never in my life whipped a Christmas tree out the door so fast . . . the kids took their new things upstairs, and when they got back there was no more tree. And I doubt that vaccuum cleaner has recovered yet.

So when I tell you that my Christmas tree is still alive, you will realize the full weight of my joy in this statement. And like I said, this year we have a few ornaments - aren't the mushrooms fun? I'm pleased with those.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Furnishing the Lower Farm

So let's have a little house update, shall we? The last time I mentioned it, we were going to pick up a piano, we had one mattress on the floor for Ben and me, and the kids were on cushions on the floor. Things have improved since then, thankfully. We did get the piano, and I got a bee in my bonnet and painted it blue. Actually, it's absolutely adorable, and if I get around to it I'll put up a picture. The kids are getting piano lessons from Brooke, and Knox has taught himself virtually every Christmas carol there is, so we have a constant soundtrack full of holiday cheer. The kids are now in actual beds, which is a huge weight off my mind. The other half of the weight will be off when they get some decent blankets - but the ones they are using currently keep them warm, and so that's enough for now. Ben and I still have a mattress on the floor. None of us yet have dressers or wardrobes (and this is a house with no closets) so everyone's clothes are either still in suitcases or in piles on the floor that we attempt to keep tidy but it never works out very well. Every time a kid pulls out a shirt to put on the whole pile topples over and comes unfolded. So I'm looking for dressers and wardrobes at the moment. We got a couch on ebay - an intensely festive little item that is ruby velvet with a hilarious fringe at the bottom. We're all quite pleased to have something to sit on now in the living room - and even more pleased that we got this zippy number for one pound. Another extremely helpful addition to the living room is a court cabinet, also off ebay for dirt cheap. What is a court cabinet? It's a crazy dark wood unit with cupboards and drawers and pretty intense carving. This is what put some rhyme and reason into the homeschooling - and got all the books and papers and pencils out of a pile in the corner. Aside from a couple of side tables that I picked up for free and two bookcases bought on ebay for Ben's office, that pretty much sums up the entirety of our home furnishings! Little by little we're gradually eliminating piles on the floor - and I can't tell you how much it cheers me up when a pile is eliminated from the floor!

Friday, 30 November 2007

The Last 2 Weeks - Summed Up

So the last few weeks have been one long hoot. We had the Nate Wilson clan visiting for Thanksgiving - and thus we had NINE children all sleeping in the same room - four of them jet lagged. This actually turned out to be ridiculously easy, considering. The kids had a blast together and basically picked up playing right where they left off this summer. We trooped them all over Oxford and adjoining counties, made them taste mince pies and clotted cream, took Nate and Heather to dinner at Christ Church, cooked a 28 pound Thanksgiving turkey in a miniature oven, drove them past and made them wave at Stonehenge, visited the major Oxford museums, picnicked on the Thames, saw the remaining earthworks of several iron age hill forts, one ruined castle, one cathedral, and one palace. They also metal detected in our pasture and found, among other things, bits of wire, old bolts, a yogurt lid, and half of one Georgian buckle (like the kind the Pilgims wore on their hats.) All in all, a very productive 12 days. They also contributed greatly to the smooth flow of the household. After the first dinner where Brooke had to eat with the Tablespoon (as in, the cooking apparatus) and I had to use the teaspoon, Heather took me straight out and bought 2 large sets of silverware and now I feel downright opulent!

4 weeks later . . .

So as it's turning out, we're terrible at blogging. It's been almost an entire month since anything new as added to this blog - but since only about one and a half people have ever looked at it, this isn't too much of a let down for anyone! But, as an exercise in self discipline, I am now going to commence putting up some new pictures and whatnot.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

So Brooke Wilson is here! Hip hip hooray! We picked her up at the airport on Thursday, and she's doing remarkably well and showing no visible signs of jet lag! Today she went with us to St. Ebbe's church, and afterwards we took a picnic and went to The Kilns . . . . CS Lewis's house and property. We hiked up the ridge through the woods (the kids call it Narnia) and had a great time and a gorgeous fall lunch which included baguettes and apples and cheese and mince pies. We're all very excited that it's mince pie season again - and we're planning on making the most of it.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Judah turns 3

Judah turned the big 3 the other night. He received a gun and a knife and a helmet, and was so pleased with them that he couldn't be bothered to taste his cake. He had a piece the next day when the thrill had worn off a bit and he could devote his mind to other things besides mayhem. Condsidering that we have had no toys of any kind in the house for 3 weeks it's hardly a surprise that he was a little dazzled by the prospect of having something to play with!
So here you have it. The Lower Farm House. It is absolutely fantastic, and just what we needed. You can see the huge pasture out past the house where the kids can run around. We are living in what is technically one of the worst neighborhoods of the city (thus the good deal on rent) - but we are just outside the village and can't see anything but fields in all directions. We're close enough to town that Ben can ride his bike into class - although it is a fairly death defying ride with hundreds of students on bikes all stampeding into town as a herd and weaving in and out of buses on ridiculously narrow roads.
The inside of the house is a hoot. It was unfurnished, and basically still is. But our landlord let us look through his barn for old furniture that people have left behind over the years - and that got us a table and some chairs which is very exciting. So far we have one mattress for Ben and me, and cushions on the floor for kids - there are no closets in the house and so far no wardrobes or dressers, so clothes are all in piles on the floor as well. We're hoping to get beds for the kids as soon as possible, and then maybe a couch. We're keeping a close watch on ebay. We did however find a whale of a deal on a piano on ebay - and Ben is going to pick it up today! The trouble with ebay is that when you find the real crazy deals it's almost never on the objects that were first on your priority list! But this piano was a deal we couldn't pass up and we're very excited to have it - now kids can start lessons and I can stop feeling like a delinquent mother for not getting music under their belts!