10.19.2013

Glass Balloons.....


When your husband comes home one day and says "I have taken a new job in Houston for a few months", after you think "Aggggghhhh" you then think *not that I had much choice in the matter* "Well it will be a nice adventure and we will skip the British winter, I'm in!" However not for one second did  it occur to me that I would miss home or my family or my friends that much, its only an Ocean right? We haven't moved to the Sun...well actually FYI I think we have or Texas is definitely the Suns cousin but that's by the by. This week though it really was a slap in the face and I am sure other expats are nodding along too but its the side of the adventure (no matter how long or short it is) you don't consider. If you saw my other blog  Grandpa Surrey you will know it was a hard day/week to miss his funeral, not just to say goodbye but to show support to my Step Mum and Family and you know on that day, I just needed things to go smoothly but everything went wrong and the kids were total maniacs, it ended up with the husband taking us out for Tea, me sinking nearly a full bottle of wine and telling a total stranger Mom all about it and I swear I nearly cried on her shoulder at one point! This week though I also missed my Granddad Max's 70th birthday, My brother Jack and Georgia's Engagement Party and my BFF's 30th birthday...I know all in 6 days!

So I haven't really felt myself, not just because of that but my routine here is totally different too, the TV is crap, sooo many adverts and the craziest ones at that. Here you allowed to say "Don't pick X brand its awful pick our Y brand" then there are the 1000s of medical ones and you would be insane to take them because after the advert of how it will change your life, it then fires out all the side effects and I am not even joking some of them say " Side effects may include Death!"....and don't even start me on the dating site "Country Folk". So my weekly TV quota has been wiped out which is bad if you know me, it's not all bad though, so has my ironing quota...well I am not standing there watching Henry frigging Huggle. So I want to say an "i thing" but anyway the husband has bought some cable to plug into the i pad/TV so we can watch some films and finally get started on Breaking Bad which I think even people without a TV have seen.

I have also been massively struggling to get any form of childcare for the boys, at home Archie goes 5 mornings a week to nursery but here you get nothing subsidised until Archie will be 6! So apart from us all going crazy spending 24 hrs a day together (we even shared a bed for the first few nights) we all need a little break from each other. First of all me and the hubby had a date night out and booked a sitter through an agency, now the girl was lovely and the boys loved her but 7-11.32pm cost $70 that's about £45!, yeah that's not going to work out much. So people here put them in Pre-School but there are strict criteria according to age, so some, Oscar cant go to missing out by only 1 month, some are full, a lot I wouldn't  leave a dog in and the others are £££££. The other thing and I cant work out if I like it or not is some are open until 11pm and on weekends?! Anyway the one I had my eye on is called Crème de la Crème no joke it is like Disney land! They pipe in Disney music, it has a waterfall, a hairdressers... yes as in "he needs a trim today", dance studio, water park...I will just take a picture of its map. There is a catch though, it works out for only 2 days a week for both the boys its £1000...£ not $.

I had looked and looked, and with my sanity at sake I eventually decided to just accost some strangers at the park, the first person I wish I hadn't even spoken to when she told me she was recovering from E Coli....the second person recommended a good one that was full and the third "I home school"....oh go away! Ironically it would be on my day from hell and the stranger that I almost cried on, a lady called "Ashley!" who suggested this great one, its not too far, they can take both the boys and although its part of a church you don't have to go to the church to join. They are only going in 2 days 9.30am-2pm but its just what we all need, apart from the fact I LOVE it, so lovely (its called The Friendship school)clean and small class's, the boys love it, Archie asks everyday if he is going now?! They have to take a packed lunch which is a huge novelty and their first day yesterday was Fireman day so they had a fire engine and a Dalmatian dog visiting....need I say anymore. The only thing that worry's me is when I asked Archie what was it like he said "Good only, the fat one just drives the Fire Engine cos he wont fit down the pole"... I hope he doesn't say these things in to other people.

Amongst all this feeling a bit sorry for myself, I got a nice little dose of perspective at the weekend too though, one of our new friends here works for the Leukaemia Society and invited us on their annual "Light the Night" walk to raise money for research because if you don't know Leukaemia is blood cancer and no one really knows why it happens just overnight in some cases. If I am honest, I thought it would just be a little thing but there were 1000's of people, some in teams supporting one person and they made such an effort dressing up in their groups, there was an organised 2 mile night walk around downtown Houston which included going into the Minute Maid Baseball Stadium of the Houston Astros and we got to go down onto the pitch which was brilliant. The start of the event was cool too though they had a band on, food and t shirts for the walkers, it was a great atmosphere but one of the best bits was the balloons. They had balloons in different colours, red for supporters, white for remembrance of someone and gold for Leukaemia survivors and when it got dark they lit up, so walking with thousands of people it looked amazing.
The bit that got me though was, a few people were asked to tell their story's on the stage, this one man was explaining that his 4yr old son twisted his ankle swimming, it didn't go away after a few days though so they took him to the doctors, it was just a twisted ankle but his wife off the cuff showed the doctor a few spots on the little boys chest that had appeared recently and they were immediately taken to the children's hospital where he was diagnosed with Leukaemia that same day. This man explained how angry at first that this uninvited visitor had come into his family from nowhere but luckily the twisted ankle helped them catch the cancer at its earliest stage, the little boy (called Oscar!) pulled through and has now been in remission for a few years. There was another lady who told her story afterwards and her little girl sadly was not so lucky, and right then my brain went into overdrive, and I don't know why but I looked around at all the balloons and thought, we are all just like glass balloons. At anytime we could crack or for some completely shatter and then (again I don't know why but) I thought about a bit in one of my favourite books
"A million little pieces".
The Young Man came to the Old Man seeking counsel.
I broke something, Old Man.
How badly is it broken?
It's in a million little pieces.
I'm afraid I can't help you.
Why?
There's nothing you can do.
Why?
It can't be fixed.
Why?
It's broken beyond repair. It's in a million little pieces.”
 and then what?... So nothing stupid like missing birthdays or TV really matters does it?! They then sang the national anthem and I had an ugly cry, but it really was an incredible and inspiring night,thank you so much to the Leukaemia Society and trivially I feel much more like myself.
Ash xox
So many birds, its deafening!

Date Night.

Chris got bit carried away....

Proper Cowboy grub.
Just a normal shop display.

Twix Cheesecake....


School Visit...looking smart.
Disneyland Nursery Map... we cant afford!
Lunch box
Oscar was delighted for photo time...
Best back pack ever comes with Turtle mask!

Happier with his stuff.

Its Woody.

Biggest cookie ever.


Archie and his new pal Brady.


Soz picks get a bit blurry now but I was walking.

Little boys so excited....





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