Sunday, 29 January 2012

I Don't Think We're in Kansas Anymore...

We are definitely not in Kansas, or Missouri or even South Carolina.  Things are just slightly different enough here to make everything a bit of an adjustment for us.  Between the driving, the food, their accent and the house, it makes some things a challenge.  We spent the last week learning the quirks of the new house and getting settled.  Most of the boxes are unpacked, and we are finding places to put most things.  I will admit, we ended up packing up a few things and putting them in the garage due to the lack of storage space in the house. 

I wish I could say I am loving it here, but I’m just not to that point yet.  I hope I will be someday.  This week has been a challenge simply due to the fact that things are everywhere in the house, and if you know me, you know I like to be organized and keep a clean house.  I go from one pile to another, and I just don’t have a place for everything yet.  Eric thinks I am crazy for having several bins of “craft materials”, but hey, I like to be crafty, and you never know when you are going to need a glue gun, staple gun, acrylic paints, canvases, etc.  Of course I have a good deal of sewing supplies here as well.  I brought my sewing machine and my embroidery machine.  I haven’t seen any children wearing shirts with monograms or appliques, but most kids here wear their uniforms all week.  Maybe my kids will start a little fad here. 

Our house is slowly becoming a home, I think.  We did hang a few pictures on the random nails the owners left in the walls.  So it is starting to LOOK like our house, but it just doesn’t FEEL like our house yet.  There are so many things I miss about our previous homes…
·         Outlets in the bathrooms
·         Bathroom sinks with ONE faucet where hot and cold water mix
·         Showers that were big enough to turn around in
·         Toilets that flushed the first time
·         Towel racks!!!!
·         Light switches instead of pull-string lights
·         Clocks that show 12 hours at a time…I still have to think when I see:
·         A garbage disposal in the kitchen sink
·         Prongs on the top rack of the dishwasher so every plastic cup and container does not flip over and fill with yucky water
·         Large oven with temperature in Farenheight
·         Milk in gallon-size containers…quarts and liters don’t last long in this house
·         A garage with a garage door opener instead of a roll-up door
·         Blinds on the windows instead of curtains that let the neighbors see it all
·         Closets in every room, bathroom and hallway

I know.  I am starting to sound like a West County snob.  Some of you reading this are probably saying, "You kids have it so easy these days.  When we were young, we had to warm our water for baths on the stove, share a phone line with the neighbors, and walk to school uphill both ways."  Sorry.  It's just hard to adjust when I have had all of these conveniences in the past.  There are some positives about our new house too!
·         The mail comes through a slot on the front door…convenient!
·         Eric can walk to work in just 11 minutes!
·         Dylan’s school is a 4 minute drive.  We’ll start walking in the spring when I am not waddling along 9 months prego.
·         It only takes 2 minutes to sweep the kitchen floor.
·         Vacuuming the entire house takes very little time.
·         We no longer need monitors for the kids since our rooms are so close.  We can literally hear Amelia snoring.
·         I only have one shower and one bath to clean.

Dylan continues to love school!  He has made several friends, and he is already invited to a birthday party.  He is Mr. Social!  He hardly says goodbye to me in the mornings because he is so excited to see his friends.  He talks about his friends in South Carolina too.  He wrote a note to one friend, and he wants to write more.  He brought his class picture from South Carolina for Show and Tell this past week.  I was worried about all day school Monday through Friday being too much for him, but he has done really well.  It has taken a little toll on him though.  He’s been quite tired and crabby in the evenings, and he had a little cold last week. 

Amelia will be starting a preschool next week.  She will attend on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from .  She seemed to really like it there both times we visited.  The teachers were so sweet and welcoming to her.  They are putting out the dollhouse and dress up just for her on Monday.  I have a feeling she will be clinging to my legs on Monday, but we are going to give it a try. 

I met a few mums at drop-off and pick up time.  They have all been very sweet and helpful to me.  One mum moved from America about 10 years ago, but she is married to an English man, and you would never know she was from America.  She has a strong English accent.  She did, however, invite me to get together with some other American mums over the weekend.  I was not able to make it this time, but I hope to go in the future.  Some people have been asking, “What do the other moms look like?  I mean, do they dress like us?”  I’ll get into fashion on another blog entry, but basically, yes they look like “us”.  Most of them wear leggings or jeans with boots, and they have up-to-date hairstyles and clothing.  Nothing too trendy, but pretty stylish if you ask me.  Put it this way, I don’t feel like I stick out here.  Well, I don’t stick out until I speak.  Then, I feel like everyone turns around to hear my accent.  In general, people have been friendly. 

Sorry this is such a long post.  I'm trying to update for the past week.  We will be getting Internet at the end of this week, so then I can update the blog more often.  Here are a few pictures from this past week...

Dylan on his new big boy bike that Santa snuck in the moving truck.

Feeding the ducks at the pond just around the corner from our house last Sunday.

Feeding the ducks is so fun!

Dylan and Daddy on our walk last Sunday.  Yes, I was a bit slow pushing Amelia in the stroller.

 Miss Amelia was ready for a rainy day.

34 weeks!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Moving Weekend!

We were thrilled to hear our shipping container arrived at the London port and cleared customs mid-week.  The big question had been, "When will your stuff arrive?".  We were told it could take up to 40 days.  It worked well to spend the first 10 days in St. Louis celebrating the holidays.  That took our minds off of the wait.  After spending a week and a half in the bed and breakfast, we were anxious to get settled in our new house.

Back in South Carolina, we had a moving company pack everything for us.  We actually had two moving companies and two trucks.  There was a shipping container for England and a moving truck with items to store in St. Louis.  I did my best to go through each room in the house and pull out things that were not necessary to bring to England.  Thankfully, my Grandmother in St. Louis has a large basement and is willing to let us use it for free storage!  I figured we could survive two years without things like china, appetizer plates, a card table and chairs, certain decorations, 12 purses and all of the kids' outgrown clothes.  Then it made me wonder, do I really NEED to keep these things since I won't use them for the next two years?  I did make several trips to Goodwill with donations before we moved, but there are some things I wanted to keep.  We also had to store most items that plug in since their outlets here are different.  A few things will work with an adapter.  We will have to purchase a new vacuum, toaster, blender, mixer, lamps, hair dryer and television just to mention a few. 
The shipping container at our house in South Carolina

We considered renting a house here that was furnished, but we didn't find one that fit our needs in the right location.  So we brought most of our furniture, all of the kids' toys and of course several of Eric's tools and things for the garage.  I truly thought we had cut back and brought just the minimum.  Ha!  When the shipping container arrived, it hardly fit on the street (which is not a big surprise here).  When the three men started unloading, they began making comments like, "You must have had a big house before this."  All was going well until they attempted to bring the box springs for the queen and full-size beds upstairs.  Our staircase turns after two steps, and there was no way those two box springs were going to make the turn and fit up the stairs.  The mattresses made it because they could squeeze and bend.  We were just laughing that we may have to set up our bedroom in the family room instead.  Eric considered cutting the box springs to make them fold in half.  He even went into work to borrow two saws.  It turns out, ours really will not bend even if we cut the wood due to the metal pieces.  No big deal.  We searched online and found that box springs are rare around here.  So we ordered new beds for Amelia and us.  It works out well because these will have 4 drawers for storage under them and no headboards.  The other nice thing is that our mattresses will fit in them!

There were 3 men unloading.  Boy did they work hard!

Totally blocked the neighbors driveway...nice way to meet, apologizing.  She was very nice.

We are No. 6!  I'm hoping I won't hit this sign as I back out since it's right at the edge of the driveway.

Eric "ticked" (checked) off each box as they unpacked.  Amelia and I stayed in the warm, cozy house.

Amelia was SO good all day.  She helped me unpack in the kitchen, and then she played with whatever we opened.  Dylan was at school until 3:00.  He was thrilled when he got home!

Who needs a kitchen table when you have boxes?

Lesson learned: we have too much stuff!  Our kids have entirely too many toys.  We own way too many mixing and serving bowls in the kitchen.  And, yes, I have too many coats and pairs of shoes.  Will it all fit in the new house?  It should all work out once we get a few wardrobes and some shelves delivered.  The one hall closet upstairs and one downstairs just isn't enough space for the vacuum, coats, extra linens, suitcases, etc. so we'll be storing quite a few things in the garage.  Eric also took down 4 doors in the house to make more space in the rooms.  There were doors into the kitchen, utility room, family room and office.  He stored those in the top rafters of the garage.  So we are getting there, but we still have a lot of boxes sitting around.  The packing paper has taken over at times. 
The playroom getting unpacked

I am slowly getting organized.  It is going to take us a little while to rid the house of boxes and packing paper, but I am trying not to overdo it.  We also do not have Internet at the new house yet, so I'll try to update the blog when I can.  Thanks again for all of your well wishes!   

Friday, 13 January 2012

Meeting the Midwife

I cannot tell you how many people were surprised to hear I was going to give birth here in England.  Sure, I could have stayed in the U. S., but we are a family and we made this decision as a family.  Both Dylan and Amelia were born in different states, so why not have this baby in a different country?  Women give birth here every day.  I know it will be different, but it will make for an interesting story for baby number 3!

As I mentioned in a previous post, the National Health care System (NHS) is free in the U.K.  Their process (pronounced with a long o), is to have midwives cover the care and delivery for pregnant women as well as the initial newborn checks for the babies.  I was told I will most likely not see a medical doctor unless there is a concern.  Although I have been under the care of a medical doctor for both other pregnancies and the majority of this pregnancy, I am open to the idea of using a midwife.  I am still planning to give birth in a hospital, but under the care of a midwife. 

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork!  That's what we spent most of the 90 minute appointment doing.  I did expect some paperwork as a new patient, but their system is so different.  They fill out SO many forms by hand, and you end up writing the same information over and over on the various pages.  I had my medical records from my previous doctor, and you would have thought they were in another language.  First of all, they write the date as: DAY-MONTH-YEAR.  So the midwife kept confusing dates, and she thought that I had been pregnant since last February instead of reading 6-2-11 as June.  Now I love being pregnant, but that's just way too long for any woman!  Then, she had to convert my weight into STONES.  I learned that 1 stone equals 14 pounds.  So if you are 125lbs., that would be 8st 13lbs.  She kept adding pages to my file using double-sided tape.  I just thought maybe a hole puncher or 3-ring binder might be easier.  After documenting everything, she handed this huge file over to me.  She called it my "notes".  They do not keep any files there at the office, other than a few things in the computer.  It is the patient's responsibility to bring the notes to each appointment.  I feel like in the U.S., you have to get special permission and fill out at least one form to even get a copy of your medical records, almost as if they are secret information.

I have already been informed that when you have a baby at a hospital here, you have to bring EVERYTHING you will need, including supplies for yourself and the baby.  They gave me a list which includes items such as: something comfortable to wear during and after "labour" (I guess they don't use hospital gowns), sanitary towels, nappies (diapers), wipes, onesies, blankets, diaper creams, etc.  I was sure spoiled in the U.S. when we walked out of the hospital with all of the above plus more!  Maybe that is what you get with free health care.  When I asked how long I would stay at the hospital after giving birth, she laughed and said, "You'll be lucky if you are there for 6 hours."  What?  "If you give birth at the birthing centre, you might be able to stay up to 24 hours."  I am not a fan of extended stays in the hospital, but that seems like they are kicking you out the door!  My midwife will come to our house for a visit the first few days to check the baby and me.  The midwife will actually perform all of the newborn checks since they only use pediatricians for medical concerns. 

So here is the situation about where to give birth.  You have a choice between your home, a birthing centre, or a hospital.  I love the idea of being natural at home, but I wasn't sure how a 5-year old and 3-year old would react to all of that.  The birthing centre is very close to our house, but they do not give any medications there and would have to transport me to a hospital if any medical concerns arose.  Now, I had both Dylan and Amelia without any medication only because they were both so fast.  Amelia was born 19 minutes after we arrived at the hospital!  I just feel better going the hospital route this time.  There are so many "What ifs...", and it gives me peace of mind to be there at the hospital.  If this little one happens to be too fast, we can go straight to the birthing centre.  It sounds like either way, I will be back home before I know it.  Thankfully my parents will be here for 2 weeks, and we are praying the baby is born during that time!  I will certainly need their help!    

This next "bit" (another word they love to use here) of information may be too much for any male readers, but I know so many mothers or pregnant ladies who might find this interesting, or comical, or just gross.  When she asked me to leave a urine sample, she handed me a container that is similar in size to a prescription bottle you get from Walgreen's but skinnier.  Lovely.  Then, after she checked the urine, she handed it back to me, told me to dump it in the toilet, clean it out, and bring in a new sample for my next appointment!  Seriously?!  I should not be surprised with free health care and a very "green" environment here.

Anyway, the baby is doing well.  The heartbeat sounds strong, and he/she is moving around all of the time. I love watching my belly move around as I sit in bed at night.  I am measuring a little on the small side, but I am feeling quite big these days.  I am anxious to get settled into our new house this weekend because this little one will be here before we know it! 

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Dylan's First Days of School

In England, children attend school full-time, five days a week during the school year they turn five.  So basically, 4-year olds start what they call "reception" which is similar to our "kindergarten".  Dylan was attending preschool in Aiken 4 days a week.  That was 9:00-12:00.  Now he will be going to school Monday through Friday from 8:50-3:10.  He is ready for it, but I am not sure I am ready for him to be such a big boy already.

We visited Dylan's school last week.  The "head teacher" (principal) was very welcoming, and she showed us around every room in the school.  Dylan was eager to see everything.  He did not act shy at all.  His class was in music at the time, so we just talked to his teacher briefly.  She was very sweet to him, and she told him she had a special helper picked out to show him around for the first week. 

Here are a few of the differences we noticed about schools here:
  • Most schools are FREE, including Catholic schools.  Dylan is attending St. Peter's, which is a "public" school under the Church of England, so it is Christian based. 
  • All schools here use UNIFORMS, which I love already! 
  • Parents drop off and pick up children every day.  Many of them walk, but I will have to drive.  It's only about a 3-4 minute drive through neighborhood streets, but it would be a long walk. 
  • Class SIZES are big.  Dylan's class has 23 students.  He came from a class of 13 students in SC.
  • Most schools have a KITCHEN where the students have a cooking class once a week.
  • They go OUTSIDE a few times every day, even in the cold and damp weather.  There is a covered play area just outside of Dylan's classroom.  He'll have to adjust to the cold weather!
  • They begin learning FRENCH at 4 & 5 years old.
  • In general, the schools are older buildings which are CROWDED and full of curriculum materials and working areas in every hallway and open space. 
  • I haven't seen a great deal of CURRICULUM yet, but from the class newsletter, it appears that Dylan will be covering material that would be expected of a kindergarten student in the U.S.
We worked SO hard to get the kids to bed at a decent time so Dylan would be rested and ready for school.  I believe it was at least 9:30 p.m. before they fell asleep.  When I went to wake them in the morning, this is what I saw.  Sure makes it hard to wake them up when they look so sweet like this, especially after struggling to get them to sleep!
They did wake up nicely for me.  Dylan was excited to start school on Monday.  He wanted to stay all day, but the head teacher suggested we start with a half day.  He went right into his class, sat down on the rug with the other children and turned around to wave to me.  Easy as that!  When I picked him up at noon, the first thing he said was, "Mom, can I stay all day tomorrow?"  So he enjoyed his first day, which told me he felt comfortable there.  We went and got a treat to celebrate how brave he was on his first day.  We also picked up some Lunchables for him to take for lunch.  I know, not the healthiest lunch, but easy for me while we are still at the bed and breakfast.  Yes, he could purchase lunch at school, but we do not recognize half of the food on the menu.  I'll get into the food here in a future post.

Dylan was exhausted Tuesday morning, so I let him sleep a little more and took him to school at 10:00 a.m.  He was a happy camper and so excited about staying for lunch.  He had another successful day today from 9:40-3:10.  We are getting there.  He has made a few friends, and he keeps telling us about playing outside and playing hockey in the gym.  I asked if he did any work, and he said no.  Such a typical response from a young boy.  Then he remembered doing numbers on his own white board with a marker.  He also told me about a book he is working on about a bumblebee.  They are doing teddy bears this week.  He was supposed to bring in a teddy bear, but since our things have not arrived yet, he brought in Rex the dinosaur from Toy Story. :)  He also came home with an easy reader book and a reading log in his bag.  It looks like they send it back and forth every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  The teachers and parents write comments about how he does reading the books.  I am anxious to see how he does with this reading system.

I will post a new picture of him in his uniform when his logo sweatshirt arrives.  He has black "trousers", a white collared shirt, dark school shoes and he will have the purple sweatshirt with the gold logo.  CBC colors for all of you St. Louis people!

On another note, our shipment has arrived in London, cleared customs and will be delivered to our house on Friday! Too bad Eric doesn't get Monday off for MLK. :)

Thank you for all of your continued e-mails, facebook notes, and calls!  This week is going much better for all of us.  We are trying to Skype when we have time in the evenings.  The highlight of my weekend was doing Skype with my adorable niece, Lily.  She showed off her new trick...her Miss America wave!  It was the cutest thing ever!  She was really looking at us on the computer, smiling and waving to us!  We miss you all so very much!

Monday, 9 January 2012

First Weekend Getaway...Parks & Shopping!

We all look forward to the weekends.  Time to relax, maybe do a little shopping, watch some TV or go out on the town.  Eric and I are anxious to explore and do some sight-seeing, but with the kids still adjusting, we just played it by ear. 

We went to downtown Chippenham to add my name to our bank account.  They use a chip and pin card system over here, and it is very rare to have a swipe card.  Eric got me some cash last week, but we all know 50 pounds won't last me long as I grab things for the new house and the kids.  Eric was amazing with carrying both kids through the streets!  I waddled along behind them.

After waiting in line at the bank and spending about 20 minutes filling out paperwork, the teller was sorry to inform us that I could not be added to the account.  She needed proof of my residence here...a piece of mail with my name on it.  Sorry lady, I just moved here, and nothing is in my name.  It felt like we were in there forever, and I was out of distractions for the kids.  We were both frustrated, and none of the workers seemed to know how to help us.  Eric finally asked to have his account closed.  The lady looked at the clock and said, "I'm sorry sir.  We just closed."  Seriously?????  This was after they put a lock on his account for a week after he changed his password online!  Things are different here!

We had a similar run around at the doctor's office.  The UK has free national healthcare (NHS: National Healthcare System).  They would not allow me to get registered with a doctor until I arrived here.  O.K. so at 30 weeks pregnant, I am starting at scratch looking for a doctor.  You cannot get a NHS number until you choose a G.P.  So we went to the nearest "surgery" (doctor's office) on Tuesday and filled out paperwork for all four of us to register with a G.P.  They got me an appointment on Friday with a G.P.  She basically asked how I was feeling, sent me back to the front desk and led me to the birthing center across the street.  They use midwives here for most pregnancies.  If you are a high risk patient, you may be referred to an obstetrician.  After another hour of waiting and paperwork, they made me an appointment for this coming Wednesday with a midwife.  And THEY made the appointment.  They told me when it would take place, day and time.  No choice for me.  Lovely.  Or shall I say, "brilliant", as they all say here.

But Saturday turned out to be great!  We stopped in Starbucks for some muffins and smoothies.

Then, Eric showed us a park in Chippenham, less than 10 minutes from our house.  The kids' eyes lit up when they saw the playground!  After being couped up most of the week with yucky weather, they were thrilled to enjoy the sunshine at such a fun place. 

After the park, we drove to Bristol, which took about 25 minutes.  The kids slept, of course.  We spent quite a while in IKEA looking for storage cabinets and things for the house.  We ate dinner at their restaurant.  The kids had Swedish meatballs, and they actually ate them.  (Well, ketchup makes everything taste better.)  I am so proud of them for trying so many new things this week!

On Sunday, we drove to Bath, which is about 20 minutes away.  We explored another park, which the kids loved, and the sun was shining!

Amelia called these "old-fashioned" swings

Lots of fun running around with Daddy

This is Lacock Abbey, where part of Harry Potter was filmed.  The park was across the street.

A closer view of Lacock Abbey

Then, Eric dropped me off in the shopping area of Bath to get some school trousers and shirts for Dylan.  It was a busy area full of very interesting people.  Almost everyone here wears boots or wellies of some sort.  

Shopping in Bath
Bath Abbey

We had American style pizza in Bath for dinner at Pizza Express.  I was wiped out after our fun-filled weekend!


Jet lag!

I think the hardest part about moving or travelling abroad with little ones is the jet lag.  Coming from St. Louis, Missouri, we had a 6 hour time change.  I was prepared for late nights and unscheduled naps.  I wasn't prepared for it to take almost an entire WEEK to get adjusted.  Let's just say this past week was one of the most difficult weeks I've had in a long time due to jet lag and crabby children.  It did not help that I was feeling under the weather with a sinus infection too.  Sure, I had hard weeks when I was "single mom" in Aiken preparing for the holidays and the big move with Eric already abroad.  But this past week was different.  We were all emotional due to tiredness and lack of a routine and schedule.  My kids were not Dylan and Amelia.  And at times, I think I was the wicked witch of the west.  I was really starting to think, "What did I get myself into by moving over here at 31 weeks pregnant in the middle of winter?"  But God has a plan for everyone.  I believe He brought us here for a reason.  I know it's not always going to be easy, especially as we get settled.  In the long run, these are all just going to be lessons from which we learn.  I am so thankful for the support from our family and friends.  When my good friend, Kristi, called me on the phone the other day, it was like we were just around the corner from each other.  I truly appreciate all of the e-mails, posts, and calls during this time of transition.
As hard as we tried to get them to bed a little earlier each night, they would get a burst of energy and stay awake until 4:00 a.m. the first night, then around 2:00 a.m. and then I lost track.  We tried getting them up early, but Amelia is just NOT a morning person.  I can still hear her yelling at Eric, "DAD!  I am NOT ready to get up!"  So they would sleep until 10:30 a.m. or even noon.  And this is what happened every time we got in the car to go somewhere...

They couldn't even make it 10 minutes in the car...EXHAUSTED!

We did everything possible to get them to sleep at night...movies, books, songs, rubbing backs, and even falling asleep with Daddy (who had to get up for work).

Alarm clock reads: 10:25 a.m. She is still OUT!

"Kids, we just got to IKEA.  Are you excited?"  Guess not.

Week 2 is starting with much better schedules and spirits, thank God!

Friday, 6 January 2012

The Barn...our temporary home

Our kids are used to hotels with elevators and ice machines.  Well, you don't see many Holiday Inns or Marriotts around these small villages.  We are staying in a Bed and Breakfast.  It was once a dairy that they converted into 4 rooms.  It is actually quite nice.  The owner stocked us with milk, juice, cereals, fresh eggs, bacon, sausage, bread, and jams.  We can prepare simple foods in our rooms.  Without a microwave, I am adjusting to using the "hob" to prepare oatmeal, hot chocolate and of course TEA.

The kids already have a case of cabin fever.  I tried taking them outside for a walk several times, but they only last a few minutes.  They are so used to South Carolina weather.  They say, "It's freezing!"  I will agree that it's been cold, wet and windy since we arrived.  45 sure feels a lot colder here.  We have only seen the sunshine a few times.  We will adjust before long.  It's funny because I see mothers out walking their babies, children walking home from school with no coats and adults running in shorts.  We are bundled up with hats, scarves and gloves.  They probably think, "Those silly Americans."

Here are some pictures of the Barn B&B...
Eric and the kids right outside of our two adjoining rooms
The farmhouse where the owners live

The farm shop

The view from behind the farm.  This is what most of the open land looks like between villages.  Usually you can see lots of sheep.

Our room

Our room again, notice the low ceiling entrance.  Doesn't affect me, but Eric has to duck under it!

Front hallway between our rooms.  There's Dylan playing with his cars.

Amelia brushing her teeth in their bathroom.  Heated floors and heated towels!

The kids' room...again, Dylan playing cars.

Kids' room again

Dylan standing next to "Sir Miles Axelrod"
He wanted this picture to show his cousins, Reed & Conner

We got word today that our shipment should arrive next week.  If all goes well, it will be delivered next Friday.  So we have at least one more week in the barn.  I am looking forward to doing some exploring this weekend with Eric off work.  We are headed to IKEA in Bristol tomorrow!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Our New House...It's Not "Home" yet

I'm calling these the "before pictures".  After our belongings arrive, which may be another 2 weeks, I am hoping this house will look a little more like us.  First things that need to go are the hideous curtains!  Amelia said the curtains in the kitchen look like Dorothy's dress from the Wizard of Oz.  Yep, they do.  Not really my style.  Good thing my sewing machine will be arriving in a few weeks.

The house itself is nice.  It has 4 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms, all of which are smaller than what we are used to having.  It will be cozy.  The backyard (which they call the "garden") is a great size.  It has a small playhouse, which the kids love.  The driveway is also spacious which will be great for riding bikes and scooters.  Dylan has already been enjoying his new scooter!  The houses are all very close to each other, but ours sits back behind several houses, so it seems to have more space.  All of the houses look the same.  In fact, most of the buildings here all look the same too.  That old stone look.  Oh, and one strange thing about the house is that it has 10 keys.  Every door, including the garage doors, has a different key.  There are about 4 skeleton keys and 6 "regular" keys.  My keychain is so heavy!

Here are the before pictures of the house:

Dylan on his scooter in our driveway 

Front of house. 
Lower large window: playroom  Upper large window: Dylan's room  Upper small window: Baby's room
Playhouse in backyard



Kitchen: Yes, that's a washing machine.  Dryer is in the garage!

View of kitchen standing at sink.  See into utility room and front hallway.  Family room is first door in hallway.  Playroom is second door in hallway.

Utility room
Family room

Family room again and view out to patio and side yard

View out of family room door


Half bath.  All bathroom sinks have separate faucets...annoying!

Dylan's room: We are going to cover the flower border and change the curtains.
Amelia's room

Amelia's room

Master bedroom: not like our walk-in his/her closets in our last house
Master bathroom.  Headed to IKEA this weekend for some storage solutions!

Baby's room...don't worry, Eric already took down the pink light cover in case it's a boy. We're hoping the changing table fits in here with the crib...tiny room!

Hall bathroom
I didn't take a picture of the office, but that's where my sewing machines will be as well.  We are hoping our shipment will arrive in England mid-next week.  Then, we hope it won't take too long to get through customs and be delivered to our house.  9 weeks until the baby is due!  Only 8 weeks until our first visitors parents!  I'm just taking it all one day at a time and praying that it all works out.