Monday, August 31, 2009

Fenton's turns 1

Fenton had his first birthday on August 26th. It seemed to come right in the middle of chaos, but that is what happened last year when I had him, a little bit of chaos. When I was in the hospital last year, David was on the phone to the elder's quorum and they were laying our cement for the foundation of the extension. This year we are in England, no money, I was sick and trying to figure things out.
I was able to make a resemblance of a cake. It was ultra thin but we all loved it. Fenton was quite delicate about it until he got to the frosting and then he loved it.

After we cleaned him up we gave him his one birthday present, the one David spent our last 5 pounds on... and you guessed it, it was a soccer ball. It has the logo of the local football team here. He loves balls and will stop what he is doing and gravitate to a ball. Especially at the park it is entertaining, he founds them in other peoples strollers and just walks right to it, or finds a loose one at the park and will follow it undeviated by anything else.
We sure love our little Fenton. He has been walking since he was 9 months old but you couldn't tell, he is so unstable. It looks like he will fall at any time but he is quite coordinated. He loves Eliza and wants to be with her and play with her all of the time. His little smile and giggle can light up a room. I am so glad that he came to our family


The first week we were here, David did not have school and my old companion had a 24 hour lay over in London, so we coordinated for me to come and visit London with her and David stay home with the kids for the weekend.
I left at 1:00 in the morning and rode the bus for 7 1/2hours. I got to London at 7:30 and just started walking. I wasn't to meet up with Elaine until 12 so I walked and walked and walked. I found Buckingham palace, and Big Ben, and Parliament and Westminster Abby.
I walked and walked and loved everything. London is huge and there is so much to see from the just the architecture. I headed my way to our meeting spot, King Cross train station.
I met up with her at 12 at platform 1 at the train station, it seemed kind of romantic, if I were meeting David, but it was still exciting to see Elaine.
We hit the town running. She had lived in London for a semester and really knew her way around. The first thing we did was buy tickets to see Wicked and we got some pretty cheap ones. We got some pizza on the go and we went to the museum, then to the art museum, the bridges, Big Ben again, castles, and cathedrals. It was awesome. We talked and got great treats and had a great time. I was glad to not have my kids there as the "tube" as they call the metro was not very stroller friendly and thousands of people.

We headed back to our hostel to put our backpacks and get ready for the play. I have never stayed in a hostel but this one was in a nice area and the people coming out of it seemed normal... but it was scary inside. You had to check into the basement that seemed like a dungeon then walk through the door to get to the staircase and there was a big skeleton graffitied on the door and the rest of the stair well was graffitied... it was not an inviting place. Our room was fine, as hostels go and we didn't die, although our room number was 13... a little foreboding don't you think?

We went to Wicked and it was awesome. I have been looking forward to seeing this for over 2 years. I wanted to go while we were in New York but we unfortunately went to NYC during the writers strike. I loved it and we had a great time snacking on cookies during the show.

I loved London and I am glad that I got to visit there with Elaine.

Friday, August 28, 2009

a few of the silver linings

For a more positive perspective of England.
The people have truly been so helpful and friendly. The ward has really been great, getting us linens and they have had us over for dinner and have been very friendly.
Even the people just walking around, with us looking for help have been really great.
The weather is quite pleasant after leaving the humid south. It has a chilly beeze almost all of the time, but it is refreshing
We found out of a couple refunds that are coming through all of these trials, 1st Milo with Fedex not guaranteed dropoff and we are getting a refund for the kids VISAS that were sent to NY on accident.
Also we lost a tiny chip for the mouse that works on the laptops so we thought we would have to buy another $40 mouse and chip, but I just found it today... yeah!!!
We have been able to go to the coast and it is beautiful.

We are getting WiFi in 2 weeks and with that international calling also.
we have an IKEA
We figured out how to play the UK DVDs on our computers
Things are coming along
Thanks for your prayers and such!!

one thing after another

the problems that we have enquired are unreal. Within 6 days of buying our brand new DELL laptop, the back light went out. We didn't have a computer to find housing, sign up for David's classes or even know where they were, communicate with our families, and entertain the kids with DVDs. It was quite annoying but what do we do. Send it back to Geek Squad in the US and have them take 6-12 weeks to send it back??? David needed it for school. We decided to send it back and buy another one. It was still within the 14 days return policy but we would have to overnight it.
That was a feat. I didn't have a box that would fit, the UPS or fedex didn't have a "store" to drop it off or buy a box, they only picked up deliveries. I had to call up fedex and tell them my dimensions and weight and I payed over the phone and they came and picked it up. But that was not without me dragging a 17" laptop all over town with 2 kids trying to find a box that would fit, all before 3:00, the pickup time. So I went to a grocery store and the MacGyver that I am took 2 apple boxes and basically cut and paste a box around this computer and for stuffing I ripped up the yellowpages. It cost nearly $150 to send the box but it was off.
In the mean time David's dad was at Best Buy getting us 2 new computers to be sent off and he overnighted them to us.... another $250. He received the broken computer and returned it without problem... in theory. The laptops that we were to receive were guaranteed on Monday. Wednesday rolled around and we still didn't have our computers but we got a call from Customs and they wanted 180 pounds to get it out of customs. so we got our computers on Thursday. Milo went and complained that the guarantee on Monday was mute and he got his money back. Yeah, that was one major blessing!!!!
so.... about our finances, david opened an account here and his loan check was sent to milo sent us the check, we put it in the bank and they said that it would take up to 1o for it to be verified and changed to pounds. WHAT!!?!?! we needed money now, bills, food, diapers. But we waited patiently. 3 days later we get a call that says that it will take up to 6 weeks to verify the funds and changed over. We definitely couldn't wait any longer. We were down to our last 9 pounds. I spent the last 4 on bread and milk and david bought a birthday present for Fenton, for his 1st birthday. We truly had spent our last pound. We sure a pathetic bunch.
He went and complained to financial aid and told them our sob story of spending our last 5 pounds for his son's 1st birthday present. They took mercy on us and gave us $350 pounds to get by for a week or two. We will have to pay them back, but it has saved us.
So about the check. We got the check back and sent it straight to our account in America, then we will wire transfer our money over, which could still take us up to 7-10 days. It sounds like we are bad with money, but truly this has been a huge mess.
These have been the major problems... but let me just fill you in on a few minor trials.
both kids had fevers for a few days. I woke up with an infection and knew I had to see the doctor so I walked 25 minutes pushing two kids to the DR.'s office in complete pain and barely able to stand up straight. I have been on antibiotics for a week but the first few days really took a toll on my body and emotions. I have tried to get on the internet for about 2 weeks with every attempt foiled such as going to the library and the only days they were fixing both WIFI and the internet was of course the day I tried, I tried at David's library but apparently I am not allowed into the building and they took away his student card which he had to receive himself late that night. All our outlets in our apartment went our one evening so our fridge, and freezer where off, they have TV permit required if you watch any type of TV and it is 150 pounds so no TV which is fine, I don't even know what to watch here anyway, so we bought a DVD player thinking we could watch DVD's on the big tv, but there are regions for DVD's and all of ours are on region one and their DVD players don't play regions 1, so I had to take it back. Also that meant that we really couldn't rent DVD's while we were here to play on our little DVD player or computer. There are no outlets in the bathroom so I do my hair in the kitchen with a mirror the size of credit card. I don't mean to complain but I am more taking a journal of first few weeks here.
It has been hard not to think that there is something conspiring against us right now. I know that there is a silver lining and that Heavenly Father still loves us and there is something greater than this for us. He still answers prayers but sometimes not the exact prayers we are praying.

England, I wish thee were home

I wish I could say that the VISA's was the hardest part about getting to England. I was worried that the 10 hours plane flight would wear me and the kids out. I don't like being in a plane for 10 hours, let a lone a 1 year old and a 2 year old, but surprisingly they did fairly well. The problems didn't start until we landed.

We arrived in Newcastle at 9:00 and they didn't have our luggage, it was on a later flight. That wasn't that big of a deal because they would deliver our luggage, and quite honestly it was a blessing because we had 6 big pieces of luggage that we would have had to lug around.

We thought that David's school was going to pick us up... but there was no welcoming committee, we were all alone. We hopped on the metro and headed to the city center.

Remember that we are now gone without a night sleep with the time change and are caring our carry-ons. We didn't know where we were or where to go so we started looking for a hotel. we were pointed in a direction so we started walking. We walked for an hour, tired, hungry, and with our carry ons. We looked pathetic.

We started to find hotels so we would enquire if we could stay. As soon as I said that it would be me and my husband and two kids they would say they couldn't accommodate us. One after another they said that this hotel was more for college students and would be rowdy, or they couldn't accommodate a family. We started to feel a little like Joseph and Mary. Finally we found a place that knew of a Bed and Breakfast that could handle a family, they called ahead for us to make sure it was available and it was. We walked just a little more and we finally had a place to put our heads. All of us took a nap.

We got some food and started looking for a place to live

That night was nightmarish. We all went to bed a 7:00 but the kids got up at 11:00pm and stayed up. We were both exhausted but the kids schedules were really messed up. We didn't have a lot of room in our b and b and we didn't have a lot of milk. We ran out in the middle of the night and the kids were still awake. We had a DVD player and a computer, but we didn't have the adaptors for the outlets and they were our of battery. Both David and I were way past patient with the kids. Finally at 4:30 am and a lot of crying by everyone, we all fell asleep for a few hours.

We went to church and got off at the wrong metro stop and walked about a mile more than was necessary. I had bad shoes on to walk that long so of course I got blisters. The members in the ward were so great! A young couple invited us for dinner and it was such a blessing to have real food, a place that we could rest and the kids could play.

David was asked to give a talk. I was all alone in the front pew with two kids with cheerios flying and kids crawling under the pews.

To rent a place here, it is bit different process than going to the apartment you are interested and asking for a vacancy, you have to go through a real estate agent. That means I had to find an agent that had properties in the areas I wanted and for the price I wanted, which was tough. After calling and emailing to try and get a hold an agent, I went on foot and found an agent with possibilities and would meet me the next day.
I found a place that was close to the metro, near the church, near some shopping, 2 bedrooms and it already had most of the kitchen necessities like pots, pans and dishes. The only problem was that it was the 3 floor with no elevator.
The other great thing was that we could move in the next day. SOLD!!!! We signed the contracts and we moved in by Wednesday. Thank goodness. With a real estate and us staying 9 months, the payment we made upfront was equivalent to 5 months rent, for deposit, agent fee and 3 months rent.... I know crazy but we were in a place.
It is small, the kitchen tiny, but it has a fake fireplace to make it cozy and it has a decent view.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

THE VISAS!?!?!?!?

David was accepted to medschool at the end of June and his school started August 17. we were planning on leaving Charleston July 10 so we have been in limbo for about a month and it has been the hardest thing to get the visas. We didn't get the proper documentation to apply for a visa until 2 weeks before we had purchased our plane tickets for. We checked and all of us would have to have visas. We knew that it would take nearly 2 weeks to get the visas back unless we went through a travel agent. We found a travel agent that would do all of ours expedited for $260. That was just to process them. The visas cost $225 each. So we consulted with our travel agent in LA about the proper paper work. We had to have a finger scan for the UK. That was set up by appointment only and it was only available in certain cities in each state. We had to schedule into all of our travels where we were going to be to try to set up an appointment so we got an appointment in Yakima washington. One of the days with the grandparents, we left the kids and drove 2 hours to get our fingers scanned. It took about 3 minutes to do it, which was a relief, but still it was really inconvenient. We got all of our paperwork together, birth certificates, wedding licenses, passport, letter of acceptance, transcripts, letter of loan, letter of current bank statement and a money order and over nighted it to her. At this point we 2 weeks before we left. We thought we were doing ok. It should only take 3 days when we send it if the travel agent gets it in.
When we came back from Washington we got a call from the agent and said that our bank statement could not be printed out but had to be official from the bank and signed by the manager. Idaho did not have our bank, since we banked out East, the closest bank was in Las vegas so that was out of the question. I called our bank and their is a whole department that does official bank statements. I asked them to sent it to our agent and of course it cost $25. She got it 3 days later so our clock is ticking. It is 8 days away from departure and we don't have our visas.
At this point we are Lava hot springs and we get another call. The proof of loan was not good enough and the letter of acceptance had to be on letterhead. None of these documents we ever received that were original. All of these came via email so we were at a loss. also the statement that the bank sent was only in my name and it had to be in David's. The consulate would not accept it. This was Thursday. I had reached my breaking point and I was in tears. I had to contact my bank again and David had to call his advisor and loan officer to see what documents were needed. I found a little fax machine in po-dunk Lava hot springs and sent the fax to the bank requesting the statement again in Davids and asked it to be overnighted. I didn't know if that was going to cost another $25 or not. David had all of his people overnight the documents to the agent. By Saturday we were trying to do the math if we were going to be able to go on the next Friday or not. It would be tight.
The travel agent received our stuff and took it to the consulate on Tuesday and we should have received it back by Wednesday. We were cutting it close but it should work. we were planning to leave Thursday night and stay in Boise and fly out of Boise so we had to have them no later than Thursday.
Wednesday morning the agent called up and said that David and I had our visas but the children did not. She had not checked to see if we had sent it all to the LA consulate. With our permanent address being in Charleston, somehow, computer glitch, the kids application went to NY consulate so the LA consulate wouldn't even look at it.
WHAT!!!!!! At this point I was beyond emotion and just was trying to fix the problem. We needed our visas within 24 at this point. We started to call Delta to change flights and such and it would cost over $300 each ticket to change it so we are looking at $1000 to change flights. We started to fill out the LA consulate application and repay for their visas, another $500. We called our travel agent and asked about the timing, if she put the application in on Thursday how could we get it.... to her the soonest was she could pick it up on Friday and we would receive it Saturday.
About 5:00 Wednesday I kind of accepted the fact that it would cost $1000 to cancel and change our flights, but I was still trying to think. I thought what if David went to LA tomorrow and came back that night to Boise, Visa in hand. This could work. Flights for the next day round trip was only $500, but it meant that we could leave on time and it wouldn't cost us over $1000. This sounded feasible so we started to book the flights. I contacted the agent and told her David was coming tomorrow to pick it up personally. She gave me the biggest load of crap and made ever excuse in the book why he couldn't, wasn't allowed, she would charge us more, ect. ect.... but I gave her a piece of mind, several times. She realized I was serious so about 9:00pm Wednesday night she started to work with us and set up a rendezvous point.
David was in LA by 7:00 am and hung out with his sister all day. I was home frantically trying to get everything packed, in less than 50 lbs each suitcase.. By 5:00 pm David had all of our visas and legal documentation in his hands 14 hours before we were to leave for England.
It truly was a nightmare and I am glad it is over.

home again

we headed to Twin falls to stay for 4-5 days and my parents were able to come and visit. We helped clean their home that they haven't lived in for over a year and mow their lawns. Of course David went fishing but they had to stay there an extra hour so David could catch a fish...and we went down to the river. The little kids loved the tube. Even eliza wanted to keep going. I think she is a speed seeker. She loves to go faster and higher.

Lava Hot Springs

After our trip to Washington we didn't get much rest before we headed to Lava Hot Springs in Idaho for a chance for the Hirschi family to be together. It was great. We had a little home and then 2 hotel rooms for us to be in. the home had a fenced front yard and a few hotspring hot tubs in the back. it was perfect for a ton of little kids to play around in. we were right near the park and the local canal that everyone tubed down.
The main attraction was the local pool which was quite large with 2 high dives and 3 tiered platform diving board, the tallest being over 30 feet.
We had a great time swimming and David went off the very high dive. He was so manly, while I went off the lowest of the platforms, yet it was still a feat for me. My big accomplishment was that I didn't even hesitate. I usually take 20-30 minutes to cliff jump this time I just ran off it.
Eliza had the time of her life with a bunch of little friends running around. She loves her cousins.
Milo cooked most meals on his BBQ and they were delicious. Each night we stayed and played games.
We tubed down the river and all of the little kids loved it. I went with Eliza and she was a little apprehensive but she did great.
Again through all of this vacation and family came the problem with trying to get our visas. stay tuned....

Monday, August 24, 2009


After our Carter Reunion, we headed up to Twin falls for a night and then up to Washington to visit with David's grandparents. It was a long 8 hour drive but the kids did well. That night was Grandpa and Grandma Hart's 60th wedding anniversary and most of the family came in to town, in Wanachee and had dinner. It was in Leavenworth, a cute little town in the mountains that was modeled after a Swiss German town. It was nice to meet David's aunts and uncles.
We spent the day there and enjoyed the great weather.
David's sister Michelle came with us on this trip to Washington and she had a competition with her sister of who could run the most miles during the trip. I got up with them one morning and decided to run with them. Mind you I had been running on the tread mill about a month and a half ago and I thought I was doing well when I ran 20 minutes. When we began they asked me how long I usually run for and I told them my usual 20 minutes... they looked at me and laughed, they usually run for an hour, up to 5 or 6 miles. I knew I was going to die, and die I did. Wanachee is very hilly anyway which didn't help anything. I ran my 20 minutes and did ok but they just kept going and going and I was hurting. About an hour later with me walking and jogging intermittently, we arrived at the house and I came away with only 5 blisters on my feet. Needless to say I was not ready for that run and neither were my feet.
We headed down to Othello and visited the Hirschi's. Fenton was named after grandpa hirschi so we wanted some pictures. We had a bbq with them and visited some of David's friends. It was a lovely visit.
Although in the midst of it all lurked an ongoing battle with trying to get our visas for moving to England. This began in Bountiful and continued through our whole trip.... .
here are some pics of the grandparents.


We had a Carter family reunion in Park City, Ut. It was so great to be with my family. Blake planned the whole thing. The theme was Carter Strong. We wanted the kids to know that they were Carters and they can do hard things. We are strong. We got shirts that were black with a yellow band across it that said "Carter strong". it looks much like "livestrong" even now when eliza sees the shirt she says "carter strong". it is great.
We rented a boat and went to Jordonelle and skied and wake boarded and the kids just loved to play on the little beach. We loved just being in the sun and talking. We had a tennis tournament everyday. I was so impressed with all of my nieces and nephews, they have really started to grow up and play well. The older kids went to a movie, grandma put on a tea party and gave all of the little kids a pedicure. Every morning Grandma had a game or activity for the little kids like painting or bubbles or Popsicles or bingo. Grandma has won the heart of many a grandchild. We had an evening with skits and songs. My family did a mock synchronized swimming with the kids. We got a laugh out of it.
We took family pics with a wonder background.
I wish I took more pics but I rely so much on all of my very talented sisters to take pics. here are a few.

A long summer

This has been a very eventful 6 weeks so I will try to have a different blog for all of our adventures.... the first is to start in Washington DC. We moved from Charleston on July 10, packed up all of our stuff in a container on the side of our house and left with 6 suitcases and 3 carry-ons. We drove up to Washington DC with our friends the Kimes and we spent a day touring and visiting the sites and museums. My brother Blake was in town so he stopped in for a few minutes to have lunch with us. We had a great time. We stayed the night in a hotel and then drove back to Richmond to stay with my cousin, Matt and Erin Blake. We picked blackberries and blueberries and really enjoyed their company.

We headed back to DC to catch our flight from Dulles to SLC. As we were driving I checked our flights to see the exact time... and as I looked at it and it said we were flying out of Baltimore.... what!?!?!?!? I swear I booked them out of Dulles, not too bad because they are only 45 minutes away and we were 8 hours early. we had to return our rental car... which adds the complication, we got our rental car from Dulles but had to return it to Baltimore. I made some phone calls and for a few $$ more we returned our car to Baltimore, but it had to be before 11:00 am, which is when we rented it. the sad thing was that our flights didn't leave until 5 that night. we had 6 pieces of luggage and we weren't allowed to check it in until 4 hours before. What were we going to do with all of this luggage and 2 children in an airport (mind you we couldn't actually go past security because we had all of our luggage so we were confined to this side of security), luckily we found a subway to eat and we saw an observation deck. It was great. Several play things for the kids to run around with. Little kids also playing, the view of the tarmacs and planes. We put on a movie and the kids took a 2 hour nap so it turned out great. We arrived in SLC later that night and then began another adventure.