Friday, January 29, 2016

Junebug is Five

Well, I think it's official.  Surely when your last baby is FIVE, that means you don't have babies anymore?

I can't wrap my mind around it.

Remember when she was born? I do.  I remember almost everything about it.  My water breaking in the middle of the night, the fact that we'd just moved house two days before and I was desperate for her to just hold off till Monday when my section was scheduled, and the feeling, the absolutely positive knowledge that she was NOT going to wait.  Calling Libby in the middle of the night to come watch the big kids.  Driving through the dark humid island night to the nearly deserted hospital.  Apologizing that it was the middle of the night.  What?!? Why did I do that?

Dr. Sheldon was gracious and soft spoken when she came in.  She smiled.  Couldn't wait till Monday morning huh? We worked together for a year in Virginia.  She took care of me one morning when I was admitted for preterm labor with Ava.

And then there she was. Don't ask me what time or how much she weighed because I have no idea.  And being Baby Number Four, I don't think she has a baby book.  Rather, she has a physical book, but I doubt there's a single line written in it.  Poor Junebug.

She adapted easily.  She fit right in, as if she'd always been there.
Five months, May 2011

Nine Months, Sept 2011
She handled the move across the world to Hawaii like a champ.
First Birthday, January 2012

Seventeen Months, May 2012

Almost Two, October 2012
She also handled the move halfway back across the world to London like a champ.
Second Birthday, January 2013

Ireland, April 2013, right before she started pulling that gorgeous hair out.

What are we doing here? No idea. September 2013

Third Birthday, January 2014. The last time she really looks like a baby :(

Scotland, May 2014, losing her baby fat

She's such a classy world traveler.
Austria, August 2014

Fourth Birthday, January 2015. She looks like a child, not a baby.  Sob. 

May 2015

October 2015

But when I look at her face, I see this.  Always this.  I love you more than you'll ever know, Daisy June.
May God bless and keep you always, may your wishes all come true,may you always do for others, and let others do for you.  May you build a ladder to the stars, and climb on every rung, may you stay forever young.  May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true, may you always know the truth, and see the lights surrounding you.  May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong. May you stay forever young.  May your hands always be busy, may your feet always be swift, may you have a strong foundation, when the winds of changes shift.  May your heart always be joyful, and may your song always be sung and may you stay forever young. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


I'm sure I've talked about it before, but man do I just LOVE being a grownup.  I just really love it.  All those people who would give anything to be seventeen again? NO FRICKING WAY.
The prompt this week is to write about what you love most about not living at home with your parents, but I gotta say, living with my parents in junior high and high school wasn't half bad.  I was a good kid- I didn't drink or  have sex until college and I didn't smoke or do drugs ever, I never got into much trouble at school and when I did, it was minor stuff and I got the distinct impression that my dad was a tiny bit proud of me for a few of those minor infractions.

Point being, I had a lot of leeway.  I didn't really have a curfew bc my parents knew I was just sitting over at Angela's house watching tv, so I never had to sneak out.  Honestly, if I'd asked to go out at midnight, they probably would have let me.  Because, again, they trusted me.

So life wasn't that bad.  I got amazing grades, stayed out of trouble, and got my full scholarship, and in return, my parents sort of let me do whatever I wanted.  It just happened that I was a total nerd and didn't want to do anything naughty.  Which, in return, made them trust me even more and give me even more freedom.

The teenage years were all right for me.

But I still wouldn't go back, because being an adult is still a thousand times better.  Diet coke for breakfast? Who's gonna stop me? Bag of microwave popcorn for dinner? Gimme.  Pajamas all day? Sign me up.  Don't feel like doing laundry or tidying up my bedroom? No one cares.  Well Nick does, but he's not gonna say anything.

I guess a lot of it is that I don't have a job or any other real responsibilities.  Other than getting my kids to school on time (and again, even if they're late, no one is going to yell at me to my face, so suck it) I don't have to do anything.  I guess technically I do have to keep their uniforms clean, but honestly, that's it.

Other than that, total freedom.  Even MORE than I had in high school!!!

The downside, I suppose, is that it's sort of a double edged sword. No one stops me from staying up till two in the morning watching Mr Robot, but there's no one else to drive those kids to school, so I still have to wake up on time and get it done, or let them play hooky and spend the whole day with them.  Gag me. No one stops me from eating a tray of brownies for dinner, but now I'm forty pounds overweight and the seam on my favorite yoga pants finally called it quits.  No one makes me clean up after myself and my house in an embarrassing episodes of hoarders.

I've lost all track of any point I was trying to make.  Win some, lose some.

Linking up, as always, with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop.  You should too!!

Monday, January 25, 2016


If we were meeting somewhere for coffee this morning, I would groan and tell you that winter sucks and we're barely slogging thru.  You'd probably roll your eyes and remind me that in America they got like a billion feet of snow and that London Adjacent barely ever dips below freezing.  I would be butt-hurt that you think I complain too much and I would remind you that I've lost my favorite travel coffee mug and my life is basically over.

At which point you'd probably leave.

I'd probably stay a while bc my life is awesome.  Kids are in school all day every day and I have exactly zero responsibilities after I drop them off.

Ya'll.  Scott is finally a reader.  I was THISCLOSE to resigning myself to the fact that it just wasn't going to happen- apparently some people just ARE NOT READERS.  THE HORROR!!!

But on the way to Germany over Christmas he randomly piped up from the backseat 'hey mama have you ever heard of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books? Can you get me one?'


Luckily, we spent a few days with Andrea before we went to the hotel and of course her kid is already a fantastic reader and has the entire series and let Scott borrow one.  The rest were waiting when we got home and he literally has his nose in one of them at all times.

And it's not like the Horrid Henry fiasco of a few months ago when he was literally just holding an open book in front of his face and pretending to read.  He is ACTUALLY reading them.

I'm literally getting choked up thinking about it.  I've said a zillion times that as many amazing things as my mama did throughout my life, the one thing that means more than anything to me in the ENTIRE WORLD is that she made me a reader.  Did she make me a reader? Can you make someone a reader? Who knows.  But she encouraged me to read and she never ever censored what I chose, even when I started reading Tommyknockers in the eighth grade and I know she wanted to burn it.  And now Scott is a reader too.

As a reward, we bought the movie, which I thought was so-so, nowhere near as good as Alexander.  But that's another way I could tell he's actually reading these books- he knew everything that was about to happen.

Have you seen it? It's all right. I guess the take-away is that you're supposed to be yourself and love your friends even if they're sort of dorky.

Warren missed the ENTIRE point.  I found this list yesterday in the office.

In case you can't read his atrocious writing, it's a list of things that Greg thinks will make him cool.  Basically, it's How to Be Douchy 101. Carry your backpack with one strap, dress cool, don't say anything weird, be friends with cool kids, and something about a chin? Ugh.

My kid is going to be the Mean Girl.  Mean Boy.

But Scott's a reader!!! Let's focus on that.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Best Part of the Day

Now that all four of my kids are in school all day, FOR FREE, the whole day is pretty much my favorite part of the day. I love the morning bc I can get rid of them, I love the afternoons bc absence makes the heart grow fonder and sometimes I lose my mind and miss them, and I love evenings bc by then I remember how much they suck and it's almost time for them to go to bed. 

But if I had to narrow it down (why would I though?) I'd pick lunch time as my favorite time of day. 
Angela and Holly are finally waking up (at six, it's not like they're lazing around all day, it just feels like that to me) and somehow they take the time to talk to me. They don't realize it, but I'm so eternally grateful for this. It's gotta be the busiest time of day for them- Holly's got eight kids to get ready and Angela has an actual job- and I've usually sent about fifty nonsense texts by now, but they make time to acknowledge me. It makes me feel all squishy inside. It makes me think maybe I'd break my no touching rule and hug them. If we were on the same continent. 

So I fix my lunch, either a salad (to cancel out the two bags of raisenettes I had for a morning snack, duh) or a chicken and gravy pie or (most likely) leftover pizza from the weekend. (We're creatures of habit, we Engelbrechts, and there are very few weekends where we do not order pizza.)

When I sew upstairs, I watch Netflix or YouTube, but during lunch, I get to watch cable downstairs. Best. Thing. Ever. Doctor Who, Call the Midwife, Prey, War&Peace, current (ish) American tv like Blacklist and Elementary the Americans and soon Game of Thrones- man I love tv. Netflix is amazing, but I could never be one of those people who don't have cable. 

And the best part? Ever since Nick got healthy and lost a billion pounds and stopped ever getting sick, I've cut down to one Diet Coke a day. ONE. ONE DIET COKE A DAY. Ugh. And I drink it at lunch. 

I'm like one of Pavlov's dogs, as soon as I hear myself pop that top, my mouth fills with saliva and I shiver in anticipation of those chemicals sliding down my throat. 

So. Food, TV, Diet Coke, and texting with the besties. How could it be ANY better?!?!

Linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop, and you should too!!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Christmas in Germany

So. We've avoided the Edelweiss resort in Germany like the plague the entire time we've been here, bc c'mon. You don't wanna go all the way to Europe to stay in Tiny America.

BUT, it's our last year, we've never been in the snow (like EVER) and some friends thought maybe they might be able to meet us there, so we booked it.  They ended up not being able to make it, but we decided we might as well go thru with it- sort of as our last hurray while we're here, since we're basically out of both money and time.

And I am SO GLAD we did. Yes, it was all Americanized and such, but it was just NICE.  It was gorgeous, the people were friendly and all spoke American English, everything was in US Dollars, the people were mega nice and friendly (it bears two bullet points, they were REALLY nice) and it was just a NICE vacay.  Will it make the top five? Of course not.  But it was nice ya'll.  It was really, really NICE.

(Their website is awful, so you might not even want to follow any of my links.  Plus, you have to be American military, and I think you actually have to be stationed somewhere in Europe to even book, but you know me- I can't NOT post links.)

We stayed in the Vacation Village, which is just down the road from the main lodge, in one of the Rustic Cabins.  You know I don't do hotels, so that part was a no brainer.  I would have MUCH preferred a regular cabin, with a BATHROOM, but it wasn't bad at all.  We're campers, remember? (You can't see me, but I'm falling off the chair laughing.)

It was a two room cabin with a decent sized table in the main room, then a double bed and tiny bunk beds in the bedroom, and above the bedroom part was a loft with two smaller than twin air mattresses.  They provided comforters and sleeping bags and pillows and everything else.  The pool provided towels, so we just needed to bring shower towels.  The cabin had a TV, microwave, and college fridge. There was plenty of storage space under the beds and the kids put all their shit up in that loft.  Yes, it got a LOT smaller as the week wore on, but in general, it was pretty perfect.

The bathhouse was also perfect- the heaters were insane, it was SO HOT in there, the showers were clean, the water was hot, and the water pressure was on point.  There were plenty of washing machines and dryers and there was even a dryer that worked without taking any quarters, so that was cool.

Best part though? The full sized commissary and exchange.  It wasn't as big as Lakenheath, but it sure put Croughton to shame.  There was NOTHING we needed that they didn't have (including liquor) and we could have saved a TON of room in the car by not packing so many snacks.  And it was easily within walking distance of the cabin.

All right, that's the nitty gritty. We actually spent a good portion of our time at the Lodge, which was so gorgeous and fantastic, and did I mention how nice the people were? We ate at the buffet most nights (I know) and we ate at the sports bar type place twice.  That was down by the pool, and there was also a video arcade in there and my poor dumb kids are just as happy playing video games without putting any money in them, so they did that while Nick and I drank and waited for the dinners.

I have exactly ZERO pics of the cabin, bathhouse, or lodge in general.  Sorry.

The first afternoon we got there, we immediatly went swimming.  The pool was too cold for me, but the hot tub was nice (could have been a LOT hotter) and kids were allowed in it, so that's where I stayed. Bonus, the wifi worked in the pool area. AND they had a full rack of lifejackets and Puddle Jumpers.

Then dinner at the buffet (unlimited diet coke! Ice! Soft serve ice cream! Fucking peach cobbler every fucking night like they've never heard of apple pie in their whole lives!)

The next morning, Nick and Ava and Scott had a ski lesson. I was a nervous wreck, but (of course) the insturctors and people fitting them for clothes and everything were SO NICE. It was still a tiny bit (lot) nerve wracking to watch them waddle away in their ski boots.

BUT. They (all three) said they had a fantastic time.  Although no one was interested in going again :) They ate lunch up on the mountain, me and the babies played at the video arcade and watched movies at the cabin until they were done, then we spent the rest of the day in the hot tub, trying to ease their aching legs.  LOL.

Tuesday we rented a sled and spent a few hours on this hill right by the rental place where they'd apparently made some snow.  It. Was. Epic.

I had no idea I'd love it so much, it still surprises me. But I couldn't get enough! Up the hill, plop down on that plastic sled then WHOOSH. Down the hill a billion miles an hour! It was SO FUN.

Wanna know who did NOT love sledding? Junebug.  Nick got her to go a few times, but mostly she just sat and watched us.  Lame.

Lemme say right quick that this place, the Hausberg Lodge, was amazing.  We've never lived anywhere cold, so we have NOTHING for snow.  They have racks and racks and RACKS of snow pants and coats and gloves and skis and boots and just anything you can imagine ever needing.  Plus? The people working there are SUPER NICE.


Wednesday we took the train up to Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany.

Mostly we just enjoyed the gorgeousness and the sun, but after lunch, I just HAD to give sledding another try.  Yup, still love it.

By this point, the kids were over it and just laid out in these nice lawn chairs they had set up.  It was so cool up there!! I'd have to say it was cooler than Switzerland, but just barely and the only reason it won out was bc the snow was so cool looking on the mountains.

We took the gondola thingie back down, which I do NOT recommend.

Thursday we just hung (hanged?) out at the hot tub and video arcade, then Friday was obviously Christmas, so we played XBox for a few hours, played at the hot tub for a few hours, then ate our weight at the fancy buffet.

What does it say about me that my six year old got me that mug?

Saturday we hiked (well, walked) past the  Olympic Stadium (a big fuck no on using whatever that crazy ass slope is called) and through the Partnach Gorge.

It was BREATHTAKING.  Easily one of the top three coolest things I've ever seen.

Unfortunately, every single one of my pics is blurry, plus it was pretty tight and I still don't have a wide angle lens, so they just sucked in general.  Just take my word for it, it was AMAZING.  Awe inspiring.

Then on Sunday we had to head home :( But then again, when 'home' is London, it's not really much of a frowny face, is it?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

My Future's So Bright

Diving right back in to Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop (and really, you should too), I went with prompt three, bc it made me laugh OUT LOUD, for reals: If the way you spent your New Year’s Eve is any indication of how the rest of the year will go, how would you say your future is looking right about now?
Every year we've lived in England, we've gone to the Benihana's in the city for Christmas Eve dinner, but this year we were in Germany (bc we badass) so we decided to push it to New Year's Eve, mainly bc Ava was upset at the prospect of breaking the tradition on the twenty fourth.

Anyway, we decided to make it a day- lunch at Shake Shack, ice skating at Somerset, then dinner at good ole Benihana.

Side note, I think it was Guam but it might have been Connecticut, Nick's dad came to visit and we went to a Benihana type place (Japanese hibachi grill, for those not in the know) and he said something along the lines of "You guys ALWAYS eat at these Benihana places." Guilty.  We love them.  Also, fun fact, we ate at one in Auburn right after we got married and someone at the table paid the bill!!

Anyway.  Shake Shack was as crowded as always and we had to fight for a table and I overate and immediately regretted it when my stomach betrayed me.  Then, we went ice skating.  Daisy cried THE ENTIRE TEN MINUTES she was on the ice.  Bear in mind, we paid like a hundred quid for this magical skating experience.
Amidst the crying, Warren skated (skated? no.  wobbled.  Warren WOBBLED) over to me and instead of grabbing on to the little penguin thing to support himself, he grabbed my backside.

I can't skate either.

It was like a fricking cartoon.  My arms windmilled out, my eyes got wide, my mouth made a perfect O of horror (I'm's not like there was a mirror) and my feet FLEW up over my head.  I even had enough time on the way down to think this is going to really fucking hurt.

I landed flat on my back and slammed my head.  Hard enough to instantly start crying.  Warren fell too (to his knees, little bugger) and he was obviously terrified bc I was crying and Daisy was crying and the safety girl ran over (to take care of Warren) and we just had to sit there crying and waiting for Nick to come back to get us (we were in the kiddie corral) bc I couldn't just abandon my kids (I was totally going to) and you have to skate all the way around the main rink to get out!!

Ugh.  Nick took Daisy out, I made my way out, and we (she and I) called it a day and played around in normal shoes until everyone else was done.

At which time it began to POUR.  Nothing falls like London rain.  (Sing it with me now!!) Fine. Not a problem, we've all got raincoats and half our kids are wearing wellies.  It's a mile to Benihana's, it won't be that bad.

The six of us were soaking wet.  SOAKING WET.  Indescribably so.  It was basically like we'd jumped into a pool with all of our clothes on.  Or like we walked a mile in a proper downpour.

So how is my new year looking?

Absolutely completely amazing.

Other than the ten minutes crying on the ice (Daisy) not a single kid cried that day.  They didn't even complain on the trek in the MONSOON to Benihana.  I'm not even lying, ya'll know I'd be the first to dime those assholes out- they were FINE.  Well behaved.  Laughing and having a good time even!! In the pouring down rain!! They were all well behaved while they waited a good thirty minutes with me at Shake Shack while Nick ordered the food.  They were well behaved throughout both meals, and on the train to and from the city.

I've never been so shocked, but at the same time, I almost didn't notice, while it was happening,'s sort of becoming a thing.  They're turning into people.  Not soul sucking, helpless tiny human beings who take and take and take, but actual real people.

It's weird.

Anyway, if this New Year's Eve is any indication, this year is going to be full (as usual) of downpours and bumps on the head and laughter and a family who makes it work.

Here's to the year.  Bring it on.