Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Waving Goodbye

2013 has been a great year. We traveled our little hearts out, went on a cruise for the first time, moved countries, left loved ones, and were reunited with others. 

I think that 2013 has been a grand year of transition.

We had the time of our lives this year--despite all of the moments of frustration and unease. 

I look at Forrest and I see the man who has stood beside me and made this passage so easy. I don't even want to imagine it without him, so I won't. 

2014, I'm excited for you. You hold so much promise.

Here's to another magnificent year!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Last Month

Driving across the country is time consuming business.

In the last month we have driven over 3,500 miles, looked at 15 or more trucks (still no luck), attended the SEC championship football game (and won!), met our nephew for the first time, and celebrated two major holidays! Well, three, if you count my birthday. Somehow no one ever does.

We also visited the Grand Canyon!

So we're in Washington State now. Finally.

If you're wondering how in the world we made it across the country without purchasing a vehicle, I'll tell you.

I happen to have the very best grandparents in the entire universe, that's how. 

My Papa lent us his beloved F150 and even kissed it goodbye. He kissed me goodbye too, but there were probably more tears for the truck. 

So we packed that sucker up to the brim. It took several hours, a lot of cargo straps, and one of us almost died at one point trying to load a lawn mower. Related: never try to drive a lawn mower up ramps into a pickup truck. You will probably get stuck and flip over. I'll just let you guess who tried that one but his name sounds a lot like a large group of trees and he's only alive today because his pretty wife caught him and saved him from becoming a pancake. 

We had a lot of Forrest's old possessions to move plus our Black Friday deals and all of our luggage. We are still living out of the same luggage on account of our new room at my parents' has only one small dresser and I have three drawers and Forrest has one. Funny how that works out, but I guess I'm just a quicker draw and that Forrest is lucky I saved him a drawer at all. It's just the nice type of person I am is all. But there is still an awful lot of clothing in the suitcases (and in my case on the floor because I got sick of walking around four suitcases) And I am way off subject.

Maybe I should have kept up with blogging more this past month and then I wouldn't talk Forrest's ear off every night when he's trying to sleep. 

Anyway, one month later and all I really wanted to do was post some really cute pictures I took yesterday of Pendleton the hedgehog. 

His Christmas photos!

Pendleton the Hedgehog -- akhayley.blogspot.com
Pendleton the Hedgehog -- akhayley.blogspot.com
Pendleton the Hedgehog -- akhayley.blogspot.com
Pendleton the Hedgehog -- akhayley.blogspot.com

Photogenic, no? He doesn't smile very much, however. 

But we do!
Merry Christmas from us a day late!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

one of those days

It has been a rough couple of weeks, let me tell you. We're homeless, jobless, and now truckless.

You know that feeling of how you fold up all of your plans into a tidy little box and then every. single. thing. unfolds in exactly the worst possible way?

That's what has been happening here in Kentucky.
It feels really bad.
And it also feels scary.

It's like America said, welcome back, now everything's going to go wrong! and here's a cold.

So, Bessie. She has gone to F150 heaven.

She lived a good life.. for a truck.

The past week and a half has been full of frustrations and professionals who really make me doubt humanity as a whole.

Add in some unexpected snow and a couple of sore throats and you've really got a party.
Seriously, Forrest is sneezing his brains out over here. Literally.

I really hate feeling this way, like nothing is ever going to settle down and just be normal. I'm tired of transition and I'm tired of not having an address or a real cell phone plan.

I realize that I have a lot more things in my life to be thankful for than to complain about. And I try to remember every time I am frustrated or worried, but sometimes I can't get past the bad feelings.
So then, like today, I sit down and cry.

Because life is frustrating.

Sometimes it's really dumb and sometimes nothing happens the way you thought it would. And most of the time it works out anyway, but it sure does not feel good while it's happening. Or not happening.

Pray for us.

Tomorrow we're going truck shopping.

This is how happy we'll be when we find one.
Thanks for the picture, Derek!

And since Thanksgiving is in two days:

I'm thankful for cold medicine and tissues. And I still stand by my decision to decline the flu shot. I've never had the flu anyway.

I'm thankful for a sweet husband who is always there to calm down his (slightly) hysterical wife in her times of need (like today).

I'm thankful for my wonderful family who gives me perspective during this transitional time in our life.

I'm thankful for Derek and Sara who have not kicked us out of their house even though we have far outstayed our welcome.

And I'm thankful that Forrest decided to grow a freedom beard as he looks quite dashing with a bearded face (it's so much longer now than that picture!)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Hayleys

It's been eight days since we landed in Kentucky and we've had one Thanksgiving dinner, one broken truck, and one visit to the Creation Museum. 

Maybe someday we'll be adults and have reliable cars, but today is not that day. 

What can you expect really of a truck that hasn't been driven in three years? Not much is what I say. It turns out that we've got a mouse-squatter on our hands. A mouse who likes to chew wires. So now, after much trial and error (like a runaway truck when the brakes went out as we tried to load it onto a trailer and Forrest's dad having the steepest driveway in the entire country that no tow-truck can climb), Bessie is waiting at a shop to be fixed (fingers and toes crossed!). It was actually a pretty dramatic story that evolved over two days and ended with a tow-truck winching itself up the hill. 

We've spent the past week mostly hanging out with Forrest's younger brother Trevor, watching a lot of Harry Potter, and driving around his dad's truck. 

We finally met our adorable niece who is already two. She now refers to Forrest as Uncle Cozy-Toes. That's what he gets for wearing wool socks, I guess. Not that I have anything against wool socks. I'm actually wearing a pair as we speak. And most other days.

In other news, American food really is as good as I remember it and much more abundant than I recalled. I'm a little bit overwhelmed at having more than three choices for dinner on any given night. I don't even have to ask for ice anymore, guys! If you ask for ice anywhere in Europe, you will get a.) strange looks and b.) exactly one ice cube. Unless you are extremely persistent (like my mother). Then you may end up with two or three.

We took a few family pictures last weekend with all of these weirdos.

It sure does feel great to be back.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bury St. Edmunds


Happy Friday! Is it Friday? I'm a little mixed up on schedules/days/everything right now due to quite a long flight a couple of days ago and the absurd amount of sleep that has transpired as a result.

I meant to post this before we left England as a sort of tribute to our lovely little English town, but it turns out that moving takes a lot more time than one would think and blogging kind of gets thrown onto the back-burner. 

So here I am alone in Forrest's brother's house with a bunch of time on my hands as Forrest drives down to Tennessee to pick up Bessie the truck so that we may have transportation once more. And everyone else is at work.

Why don't I edit some photos I thought! I'm finally almost caught up on sleep (thank you, melatonin!) and I have partaken in Wendy's twice in the last two days. Oh, Wendy's, how I have missed thee.

So here it is! A few thoughts on our town.

Bury St. Edmunds is the most adorable town in England. Of this I am sure. We lived on the outskirts for two-and-a-half years. Oh, it was a good time. 

I'm kind of already emotionally spent from the last week of saying goodbye and maybe I'm not as rested as I thought so I don't really have too many meaningful things to say. But I really never took the time to photograph around the town and really regretted it at the last minute. I took these about two weeks before we left and I sure am glad I documented it.

Bury has pretty much anything you could ever need in a town. It's the biggest town in Suffolk (which is kind of silly because it's really not that big, but that's Suffolk, I suppose) and a bustling little town it is. 

Forrest bought my engagement ring in Bury St. Edmunds at a jewelry store that has been around about as long as the U.S. has been a country. I looove that my ring is from England (where we also got engaged-in Bath). 

We watched the Olympic torch go through Bury last July and oh, it was exciting! I don't think I ever posted pictures from that on my blog, but I should.

We have taken every visiting relative to see the gigantic St. Edmundsbury Cathedral and the smallest pub in England (The Nutshell; it's tiny). It is such a great town for tourists because it's small and easily walk-able but oh so cute and full of fun things.

One time a parrot said hello to me in a British accent in the cathedral gardens aviary. I didn't even realize parrots could have accents until that encounter, but I sure am glad to know now.

There are so many unique things in Bury and so many English products that are made there. I feel a sort of pride for Bury St. Edmunds and I'm not even English. It's a special town.

I love Bury St. Edmunds and I don't care who knows.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

We are leaving England next week.

In eight days. 


We had our household goods packed up yesterday and we're camping out in the living room on an air mattress and some camping chairs. Our whole lives are now in a metal crate somewhere and now we get to live out of suitcases for three months which is kind of thrilling in a weird way. But mostly it's just something that makes me sigh a lot and hope for a new dresser in Seattle.

Tonight is our last night in our first house together and it's really sad. We have such wonderful memories here as newlyweds and as hosts to visiting family and with all of the friends we have made here. We've spent two Christmases here and three summers. We've had so much fun living here. 

My friend Rachel gave me a painting today of the best thatched houses in our neighborhood with this engraved on the back: Your first home together was in Hengrave; may you have many more happy homes together. May God bless you on your new adventure.

And I almost cried when she handed it to me because it was so perfect.

I will really miss living here! 

Everything took so long to happen and now it's all happening so fast I can't even remember what day it is. I can't believe we're actually leaving.

I always knew we were going to. I knew perfectly well going into this that we were here for two years and that was it. But then two years slowly stretched into two and a half and somehow it just seemed like it was all going to last forever and Forrest and I would be here in England, in this small fairyland, happy but not really content. 

We are ready to leave.

Now that all of our furniture and almost everything else we own is gone, it's finally starting to seem real. This move is something that I can almost reach out and touch. I'm not sure I'll be able to fully accept it until we're actually sitting on a runway.

I want to stay forever. 
But I wanted to leave six months ago. 

I can't quit the flip-flopping. I think I have some real problems.

This house has been good to us.

I learned how to cook in this house. And I learned how to knit. I learned so many valuable things right here in this little house!

Forrest and I learned how to be married here.

Even with all of the mold, and the too-thick walls so that we never have phone reception, and the weird shower, we have loved this adorable little ex-barn cottage.

We will never ever have another first home.

Goodbye, Grange Farm Croft. And goodbye, Hengrave. 

We're saying goodbye with pizza tonight for pizza has been a much loved meal in this house and will be forever and ever amen.

Now back I go to cleaning because our house inspection is in two days and I have cleaned exactly one room.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

english ponies are delightful

In a field nearby there lives a herd of ponies.

I drive by these ponies several times a week but I'm always in a rush and can't stop to take pictures. Or I do have time and all of the ponies are soooo far away from the road. It's like they know.

I squeal with glee pretty much every time I see the ponies because they're so wonderful! Especially the babies! Baby ponies, could anything be more adorable?

So I finally stopped last week on the way home because the ponies were in the front of the field and I had nowhere to be. It took some coaxing (i.e. waving grass around) to get them to come right up to me and I yelled, "hey, ponies!" way more times than maybe absolutely necessary. But it worked! I wouldn't say I'm a horse-whisperer or anything, but I did get to pat a few noses, so.

We'll miss you English ponies!

P.S. we're moving out of our house next week (!!!)

P.P.S. Packing is stupid.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wrest Park on Columbus Day

Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
 Wrest Park, Luton, England Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
 Wrest Park, Luton, England Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England
Wrest Park, Luton, England

Last Sunday evening, Forrest bought a tire on Ebay. This tire just happened to be located a fair distance away and I thought to myself that this was the perfect opportunity for a Columbus Day road trip (since he conveniently had the day off and all).

That is how we found ourselves at Wrest Park for a day out of afternoon tea and gallivanting around 92 acres of beautiful estate. 

I think that fall is usually the best time to visit places like this, especially when the country in which one resides does not observe the same holidays as one's homeland (aka they all have to work and we don't!).

The flowers were still blooming, the leaves were all casually spectacular, and best of all! there were about five other people there. I think the rain kept them away. And it didn't even rain most of the day. After we wandered through the house, I think we saw two other people in our entire circuit of the grounds.

It felt like the deepest breath of the freshest air.

England is the type of place where you never feel like you have any privacy at all. You can travel to the most remote corner of Scotland and there will still be people right around the next bend. There are just too many people here.

It's stifling is what it is.

This day out to be alone by ourselves was exactly what we needed. 

There may also have been some Opera and/or Gregorian chant going on in the echoey orangery (Forrest..). 

These old mansions are going to be the part I miss most about leaving England, I think. I kind of feel rich when I go them? Or at least I feel like I could be rich. Forrest and I imagine our rich life together and talk about our servants, etc. I really enjoy the libraries myself.

I can't believe we're leaving here in less than a month! I'm so ready to go but I'm also not. Leaving anything is hard, I guess.