Month: January 2014

Cactus as a Heart Thermometer


Welcome to our cul-de-sac. Let’s start out with some thankfulness, shall we?! I love that we live in a cul-de-sac. It is incredibly rare where we live to have anything like this – not a lot of traffic, pretty quiet, and lots of kids. But there is one thing that on really bad days make me want to pack my bags and go home. Know what it is?! Cactus! On the perimeter of that entire island there is cactus. I cannot tell you how many times I have stepped on, been poked, and/or bled because of it. You’re probably thinking, “Oh Jackie, you are being extreme. You wouldn’t really pack your bags and go home because of cactus.” But this is the side of living overseas that no one really talks about. The little, inanimate things that can make it or break it depending on the day. And because the cactus usually interfere with trying to get my kids into the car and to school on time, It takes everything in me not to yell, “Forget It!”. When I have to buckle one kid in, and then get in the drivers seat to pull away from the curb (the CACTUS!) in order to get back out and buckle the other kid in on the other side of the car, when we are already rushing to get there on time, it would make you want to lose your mind.

It’s not like this everyday, of course. But, you know those days where it’s 8am and you feel like you should probably go back to bed, and start your day again in a couple of hours?! That’s when it feels like the cactus are out to get you! (As I’m typing this, I’m realizing that I probably need some help as I’m thinking that inanimate objects are trying to orchestrate my demise!)

I’m sure people deal with these same kinds of things living in their home culture. (It’s probably a lego left on the floor and stepped on in the middle of the night!). I’m just amazed at how something as crazy as a cactus can show me the status of my heart on any given day. When we were in the process of moving here, we had a friend describe to us that going overseas can sometimes be like you are a tea bag put in a cup of extremely hot water and you get the opportunity to see what is really in the “teabag” of your heart. Oh Man, has THAT ever been the truth. Living overseas for me has been one cup of hot water after another. New Language, hot water. New Culture, hot water. Little kids, hot water. I thought that maybe after 3.5 years the water might start to cool off a little, but I don’t think that is really how this life works. There is ALWAYS more in my heart to deal with. Cactus, more hot water, more heart thermometer. More to examine, work through, apologize for. I’m learning, probably slower then my husband or children would like, but I’m learning. Even if cactus are the learning tool. 🙂

But as the picture attests to, I’m thankful for a husband who is willing to lessen the cactus curriculum by taking a rainy saturday morning to use a shovel as a machete and go to town demolishing  those suckers. 🙂



Ohh London. Where to even begin? Lydia and I just got back from an amazing 3 days of plays, movies, cupcakes, royal palaces, and lots of bonding. This trip came about from a need for a break (that is another post for another day), and the fact that my baby girl is turning 6 in a month. When I was 6, my parents took me to see my first musical (Cats) and I think it was the beginning of a life long love of musicals and theater. I can distinctly remember sitting on the middle hump of the backseat of my Dad’s honda accord on a special surprise night. I don’t remember a lot from my younger years, but that is burned into my memory. I would love for my daughter to have the same love, but the lack of options here can make those loves kind of hard. So a trip to London was a must!! You are probably thinking, “wow! that’s pretty extravagant for a 6 year olds birthday.” And yes, it would be, if not for cheap European airlines (Thanks RyanAir!). Let’s just say, it would cost more to get from Lynchburg, Va to NYC on the train to see a Broadway show, then it did for us to fly to London. It cost $170 bucks. Round trip. For BOTH of us. A Huge blessing. We stayed with friends in the city, bought day passes for the underground and saw almost everything there is to see. The 2 big parts of the trip was the movie Frozen (in English!) and The musical Wicked; they did not disappoint.
One of the nicest things for me was the jump from 3rd/2nd world to 1st world in a matter of 3 hours. If you have lived overseas for any period of time, you will know the feeling of going to a place where there is customer service, people are helpful and friendly, using a debit/credit card everywhere, and everything working. As much as I love where I live, it is nice to go to a place where things are convenient, easy, and can be relied upon. For instance, on our way to see Frozen, my 1st thought was, “what if it doesn’t work? The website said it was showing but what if it isn’t?” I had to remind myself, “This is the UK. If it says it’s there, it’s there. No need to worry.” It is amazing the little things I used to take for granted that are now luxuries. 🙂

Anyway….onto the pictures!

On Our Way!


Jay has been reading the Narnia Series to Lydia and she was so happy to see Turkish Delights in the grocery store. We had to try them, of course!




We had some friends join us for our first day in the city. It was great to catch up with them and they were so nice to be our tour guides.


Big Ben!


Of Course, we had to see where the princess wedding was!


Buckingham Palace


 Tower Bridge


On day 2, we decided to check out the Natural History Museum because Lydia wanted to take pictures for Cole. Through the whole museum she kept saying, “Oh mommy, Cole would love this.”


Thanks to a recommendation (Thanks El!), we went to the cutest little cupcake shop in Covent Garden, The Primrose Bakery. By the way, Covent Garden was by far my favorite part of London. Cute little shops and restaurants and didn’t seem overly crowded.



For someone whose New Years resolution was to look more presentable more often (by using makeup more then once a week), I seem to own a lot of MAC makeup. I went through a MAC stage, and since then, I’ve always been drawn to their makeup. We found a store and decided to get mini-makeovers before we went to the play.



Our last stop before the play was Hamley’s Toy Store. This is no ordinary toy store. It was basically a toy department store. 5 Floors. 5. It was amazing. And the best part was that on every floor they were doing about 5 different toy demonstrations. (Like Sam’s Club sample booths, but toys. 🙂 ) So we just wandered around, stopping at booths and checking out what they had. Lydia drew pictures, got her nails painted and saw a magic show. Can’t beat that.


We love the Underground!!!


We ended our time by seeing Wicked. It was amazing. There really are no words. I was pretty sure I would cry through the whole show, but I managed to keep it together pretty well.


The trip really did contain planes, trains and automobiles, as our airport was about an hour north of the city. So it made for a short night when our show didn’t end until 10:30 in the city and we had to catch a train to the airport that took about an hour, slept in a hotel for about 4 hours and then walked to the airport at 5 am. It definitely called for a venti starbucks and I savored that drink all the way back here!