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Archive for the ‘Liverpool’ Category

One morning, while Jay was working and the boys and I were doing our best to stay out of tiny little apartment home, we walked down to Albert Dock, where they are doing a demonstration of the tall ships.  We’ve been to the tall ships festivals in Boston, in Virginia, and in California.  This is a smaller and much more modest festival, but still lovely.

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Our favorite ship at Tall Ships was the Kathleen & May.  It is an old three masted schooner, which is parked at Albert dock year round.  We were allowed to go on board and take pictures.  Turns out, the caretakers, Cindy and Jeff, were some of the most lovely people I’ve ever met.  Took the boys and I under their wings, brought out biscuits for the boys, and sat and chatted with me because Cindy spent a year or two in California.  She sat with me and reminisced. As soon as I have a kitchen again, I will bake her muffins and go deliver them, and invite her to the house for tea.

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The regatta was small, but a worthwhile walkaround.  The boys had fun, and there were plenty of hot donut and ice cream carts to distract them (and that they pestered me about).

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Many adventures this week, which I meant to blog about as they occurred and of course failed to do. I will have a series of posts this week.  I am trying to space them out so as not to bore you.  Upcoming posts will include: Tall Ships Regatta, A restaurant review (Kasbah), a summary of the housing situation and the story of Getting The Car.

One day, the boys and I went to explore some parts of the city that we hadn’t yet done.  Beatles fest was last week, which we avoided due to the (drunken) crowds.  The boys and I decided to cruise down Mathew Street and see some of the venues in which the Beatles played.  See?

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The boys were rather unimpressed with Mathew Street.  It wasn’t too exciting, to tell the truth.  I’ve been to Mathew Street in the evening, with friends, and it was much more fun. 😉

After strolling there for a while, we found a Caffe Nero, which had been recommended to me by several people.  Now, we live upstairs from a Starbucks, and just a quarter of a block from a Caffe Nero.  I have gone to Starbucks most mornings, probably because it is easiest and closest, and also because I know it.  That will not be happening again.  Seriously delicious Latte.  See?

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It beat my previous favorite Latte, at Coffee Beans and Tea Leaf, hands down.  The yumminess was sublime.  Skinny Hazelnut, extra froth is my favorite, by the way.  In case anyone wants to bring me one, ever.

This is the look of children, who two seconds after the photo is shot will upend the table, break a cup, do other things that I will not mention here in case their future girlfriends read it, and then spend the afternoons in their beds as a result:

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You don’t want to be a child of mine who misbehaves in public.

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Bridge Street

I have been negligent in posting to this blog.  Part of the reason is that I went into a pretty good funk after the delays in our Visa process caused us to lose the lovely Ashtor house.  As we all know, sometimes things happen for a reason, and after some questionable shenanigans on the part of the owner/leasing agent of Ashtor, it is probably a good thing.  Still, I had my heart set on that pretentious little (big) house.

I did get to spend a lot of time with people that I love.  We stayed in California the entire time during the delay, which meant beach time, cousin time, parent time, and nephew time.  Less friend time than I wanted, though I spent some good time with Elizabeth and with Tim, Tara, and Misha.  I will miss everyone! Next time we are in California, I am prioritizing a get-together with Paul, Melanie, and their boys as well as with Kellie and her gang.

Anyway, we have arrived in Liverpool! We are staying at  Bridge street apartments, which is right in the heart of downtown Liverpool, or L1.  This is ideal for me – I love L1 and I stroll the streets and shops as I get the chance.  The boys are loving it too – we have seen a Krispy Kreme kiosk, have visited Thornton’s chocolate shop, and they even had Pizza for their first dinner here, despite my protests.  We also visited a media shop to buy UK chargers for their DS systems.

The apartment is a bit of a mess – cluttered up with all of our bags and stuff.  This is driving me slightly crazy but I’ve managed to unpack the majority of them.  Storage is a problem in terms of the empty bags, so they are piled up on top of Roscoe’s crate in the corner.  Also, the bathrooms have one small shelf, and no place to hide toiletries.  Eyesore!  🙂

We are scheduled to view some houses – please send housing mojo.  Jay is at work, the boys and I are about to head out in search of lunch.  Ta!

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Progress and Visits

I have been quiet here, because everything was in flux and I wanted to get some of the millions of filaments that were floating in the ether tied down before talking about them.  This post is VERY long.  I hope you like reading it anyway.  Or at least that you don’t yawn.

I went to Liverpool on May 12th, for a whirlwind trip of house hunting, school viewings, and city exploration.  DH was still working that week, although he did take off Tuesday for house viewings with me.  On Saturday, I arrived early in the morning and we spent the early part of the day letting me relax, shake off some of the jet-lag, and walked around the city center (Liverpool 1, or L1 – each area of the city is often described by its post code).  We grabbed a nice lunch, and enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t raining.  The Liverpool Hilton is really ideal for exploration of L1 – it is attached to the large walking mall, and everything you could possibly need is easily accessible.  I loved the waterfront.  They have done a fabulous job of cleaning up the old Albert Dock, and the vibe of the waterfront feels a lot like Chicago’s Navy Pier/Lakeshore Drive area to me.  The people were fabulous as well, friendly and helpful.  Essentially, it felt comfortable.  Like home.

The Liverpool/Chelsea game was going on that evening, and the city was vibrant.  We met a friend of DH’s from the Trust at a sportbar owned by Jamie Carriger (?) before heading to an Italian place for dinner. After a lovely lamb meal (I wasn’t feeling the pasta vibe), we hit all the clubs on Matthew street, including every version of the Cavern! The cavern is famous for being a Beatles venue, although the DJ they had there was fixated on spinning 70’s music instead, and keeping people from sitting on his stage.  I had my first taste of Magner’s pear cider, which is my new favorite cider.  DH was not kidding when he said people dress up there – every woman was in a dress, of the type we reserve for afternoon weddings or evening functions.  We had fun, the couple we met was lovely (M&M, I shall call them).

Sunday was spent recovering, and meeting some of DH’s other co-workers for dinner.  We went to a great place on the Albert Dock called Blue, at which I had another lamb dish which was even more fabulous.  Apparently, they know how to do lamb over there!  Despite the view out the window that we had of the waterfront and some of the ships, I was exhausted with jetlag and we called it a night early.

Monday is a haze.  I am pretty sure this is the day we first met Angela, for walking around city center and a delicious Thai lunch.  Overall very impressed with the quality of the food in L1.  Angela is FANTASTIC, and I am so glad to have been introduced to her through mutual friends.  It will be nice to have an instafriend in Liverpool.

Tuesday was the marathon day of house hunting.  We saw 4 houses and two schools that day.  After the tour of homes, one house really stood out for us as the perfect one- location, space, yard, ease of public transport, walking to our chosen school, walking to the “village” shops, etc.  We were pretty settled on this one place, but it did have some maintenance issues that needed to be addressed.  We had one more viewing on a similar place (on paper at least) set for the next day, but we were relatively in love with this place.

The school visits were scary.  The children will be advanced up to their “age level” rather than where they currently are in the U.S., their instructional level.  This will not be a big deal for Ben, as he’s at the level with the age level of his peers in the UK.  Craig and Kurt, who both have summer birthdays, fall into the grey zone and we had kept them one year back here in the US.  They just do not do that over there, for any reason.  After viewing the curriculum of the age levels and seeing the work quality in the classrooms, I was slightly nervous for Kurt, although I think ultimately he will be fine.  Craig, on the other hand – oh, the jump he’s expected to make!  I really was certain I’d have to homeschool him.

Wednesday, I went alone with our relocation agent to the other house, and for a second viewing on our preferred house.  The other house was ridiculous – plywood slabs for doors, and ragged carpets, and horrible cabinets/tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms.  It was in the same price range as our preferred house! No wonder he can’t rent or sell it.  It just hammered home how much I wanted the preferred house.  Luckily, we found out two days ago that we got our preferred house.  I introduce you to our home for the next year or two, Ashtor:

Pretentious little house.  I love her.

Craig’s schooling was still really nerve-wracking for me. I was certain he was going to be left behind in some way, and despite it meaning that my own education and career would be on hold I was preparing to homeschool him instead of putting him into a system that would make him feel inadequate and give up.  But after we had our second viewing of Ashtor, our agent took me over to the secondary school that is resourced for children with Autism.

And I fell in love.

Parklands secondary school has apparently had its problems in the past.  In 2008 they were put under a monitoring by the education trust (I hope I am getting the lingo correct!).  Since then, however, they have transitioned from an unsatisfactory school to a satisfactory school, and in 2011 had the highest scores in the history of the school.  They’ve also done some interesting things with community service, and some of their academic teams have been beating the pants off other schools in Liverpool.  But what sold me on this place was the way they work with children with Autism. The school follows the national curriculum and their students are mostly typical – there are only 26 slots resourced for Autism.  The school is fully inclusive – every accommodation done for children with Autism is done for ALL students: Visual Schedules, Daily Planners, Sensory therapy, etc.  The layout of the physical property is perfect for children with autism – the flow is Functional and Logical and makes COMPLETE sense.  It is clean, modern, and secure.  There are computer classrooms in each pod that are amazing compared to what we have in the states.  The classroom sizes are 17-2 ratio, with the head teacher and the resource aide.  They have fully planned life skills and social skills instruction IN THE CURRICULUM.  They’ve done what I am planning to do with my school when I open it.  It is FANTASTIC.

Some of the people who live here in Liverpool were concerned when I told them which school I picked for Craig.  Apparently this is the “bad” part of town. I have to say, they’ve never seen the ‘hood.  Their points of reference are skewed. 😉  Poverty over there equals the bad part of town; over here, you have to hit the gun  violence and rape spectrum to get that distinction.

Wednesday evening, we went to the Pump House with Angela and Jillian.  I can only say this: It’s a small, small world.

Thursday I had to myself!  I spent a fabulous day walking all over Liverpool in the rain, had lunch (lamb!) at a Moroccan restaurant, did some shopping, had some English Toffee, and generally enjoyed myself.  Thursday night we went to the Wirral to see M&M and meet their kids (so cute!) and see how close to the ocean they are.  I am definitely spending some summer days over there.

Friday morning, I flew back to my boys.  I missed them incredibly, but they had been spoiled silly by Grandma and weren’t so distraught about our separation.

I just wrote as much as I do on my papers, but it took much less time.

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We’ve been working away at the move, but seem to be accomplishing little.  DH is in Liverpool as we speak.  He says the weather is gorgeous, warm and sunny. I’m worried he will use up all the yearly allotment of sunlight before I get there.  Which will be ironic, because he doesn’t even LIKE sunshine.

He is at the Hilton in Liverpool, which looks like it’s a real hardship to stay at:

Obviously slumming it, no?

He says I’d love it there, his room overlooks the water and is right on the corner up top so is full of windows.  It is also across from a shopping complex, where he swears I will love the Costa (coffee) shop, and the John Lewis (apparently like a Nordstrom’s).  I told him on a sunny day like that, he wouldn’t get me away from the water’s edge.

We’ve been having a bit of difficulty getting final numbers from DH’s company, which is hindering the work we’re doing with the relocation agency. They need details to help us, we don’t have details, and thus we are at an impasse. We haven’t even determined whether they’ll pay for a car lease for us, or only public transport options.  The danger here is that we end up paying out of pocket for the privilege of working slavishly to convert hospital systems over there, which would defeat the purpose for us.  The exchange rate is not in our favor.

We’ve looked into a few suburbs near the hospital; in terms of places I’ve found that I like, the suburbs of Childwall and Allerton.  There’s a particularly nice house right across the street from a large park in Allerton that I’ve had my eye on, but since he’s been there, DH is interested in a suburb called Warrington that I’ve not found yet on my searches.  Apparently his peers at the hospital all highly recommend the area and most of them live there as well.

I’ve been blessed with many wonderful friends who are across the pond who are pointing me out to council websites and educational resources, all of which are greatly appreciated and highly overwhelming.  I’m tempted to throw my hands up and say “Somehow, it all comes out right in the end”.

Saying goodbye has been really difficult, on many levels.  For someone such as myself, who doesn’t shed tears at all (I can seriously not remember the last time I cried), there have been many “almost” moments already.  I’m sure they will fall before I’m done here.  And I’m sure there are heartbreaks still to come.  I am overall excited about this prospect, though, very much so.  I cannot wait to learn new things – this is who I am, at the core.  A student.  There are no bits of knowledge I will not welcome, even the most difficult lessons.

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I’ve learned a little bit about communication in the last few days.  Sometimes, miscommunication is even worse than non-communication.  Although I specified with DH that I wanted to know this was 100% sure before I told anyone about it, and he assured me it was 100% happening – it wasn’t.  At least not in his mind.  When he found out I posted about the move he really flipped.  We had an intense conversation about why – it turns out that it’s mostly about what he was comfortable with being communicated.  He is much closer to his sleeve with information than I am.  Any miniscule possibility that this may not happen is enough for him to say it isn’t happening, whereas for me it is a process.  It is happening, or it’s not, but the process of it is important to me and I need to note it, process it and remember it.

FYI: It’s really happening.  He realized he over-reacted and we talked through the why of it.  Being a psychology major sometimes comes in handy.

The latest information we have is that DH will fly out on the 24th to spend approximately 10 days at the client site.  While there he will scout locations for where we might live, and meet with relocation agents hired by the company to help us transition.  Meanwhile, I will be packing/organizing/cleaning the house (how much can you accumulate in 12 years?!).  I will still be working and going to school full time, and caring for the boys as always.  We are actually wondering if my doubling up on classes will be a good idea, as the sooner I can finish this program (right now, scheduled for 11/1 of this year), I might be able to practice therapy over there and perhaps take classes for my graduate program as well.  In the meantime, our schedule for the next month is mind-numbingly crazy.

  • This Monday: DH flies to Austin for project.  He flies out to Austin two weeks in a row.
  • The 24th he flies to the UK.  He is there until the 6th.
  • April 2nd, I hope to take the kids to visit family during Spring Break.  They will not see some of these family members for at least a year, maybe two.
  • April 9th, I leave for Chicago for the RT Bookreviews convention.  Jay is supposed to be home to care for the kids during this time.
  • I suspect he will be flying back to the UK sometime the next week, April 16th or 17th.  He might not return after that.
  • I am supposed to take a trip over there sometime in May to help him find a house, set up schools for the boys, etc.  This is also assuming we can find childcare for the boys – not an easy thing at all.
  • The last day of school is May 31.  The boys and I will somehow make our way to the West Coast to visit my family for a week-ish.  We will probably fly from LAX to Manchester.

 

Somewhere in there, DH and I are both going to need to schedule minor surgical procedures that will take 3-5 days of recovery time.  DH wants me to skip Chicago.  I am not willing to do that, as it’s been planned for a year and I will not be able to attend another RT Convention for years.  Add in that I’m not sure how the logistics of even continuing to review while in Liverpool will work – I suppose only books available on NetGalley will be do-able.

My head is obviously spinning.  I am nervous and excited in equal measure.  So much of what I love here will be sorely missed: Dear friends, family, my job(s).  At the same time, what I’m moving towards thrills me:  Travel.  Adventure. New friends. Friends that I’ve sorely missed.   The loves that I am leaving are breaking my heart, and the loves that I’ll be gaining will make me sing out.   I am taking my greatest loves with me, and am so excited to share the world with them.

We’ll just have to see.

 

 

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