Monday, November 14, 2011

MOMENTIOUS NEWS!!!

Hi there blog fans!

You may have noticed that since returning from the UK this summer, our blog posts have been less newsy about what is happening in our lives right now and more of a recap on what we did this summer. This is partly because we wanted to fill you all in on our wonderful summer trip, but it has also been a convenient way to divert your attention... you see, we have some BIG news that we have not been able to post on the blog... until now!

Our BIG news?

You might want to sit down for this...

WE ARE MOVING BACK TO THE UK BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!!

Yes, you read that right, we are COMING HOME - and we'll be back in about 5 weeks time!!!

While we were back in the UK this summer, we both felt very strongly that we both needed and wanted to move back to the UK. We want our son to be surrounded by his family as he grows up, and although California is wonderful and we will miss all the precious friends we have made out here, it is time for us to move home.

We prayed about it and then watched as the Lord maneuvered things within EA so that suddenly, having thought that it was unlikely that Ed would find employment within EA in the UK, they now had an attractive post for him, based in London and they need him to start as soon as possible! It really has been astounding!

We are likely to fly on about the 18th December (still to be confirmed with the relocation people)… and we will probably base ourselves in Wimbledon in corporate accommodation for a few months until we find somewhere to live permanently. Our home in Arborfield is being rented out until April and we have decided that, although in many ways it would be lovely to move back to our familiar ‘hood’ (and our much-loved church!), the commute into Kensington (where Ed’s new job is based) would be a couple of hours each way and Ed would not get to see Daniel during the week. So we have decided to move to south west London, where lots of Ed’s family are based.

We are so sorry if this is the first you're hearing of this – but it has all happened so quickly, we have not had the chance to speak to each of you personally! And we couldn't blog about this sooner because Ed had to wait until everyone within EA who would be affected by his move knew before we went public...

We are SO excited to be coming home. LA is wonderful, but we can't wait to be back amongst our family and friends. Do pray for us. We have a lot on and a lot to organise before we leave. Many thanks and SEE YOU SOON!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

UK Tour - 29th August - 8th September

Right, now back to filling you in on our UK trip...

The 29th August was our, wait for it, 13th wedding anniversary! Yes, we really are that old! Ed and I went out for dinner at the Wycombe Arms (the setting for many a happy celebratory feast in the past!) and we both concluded that the results of our annual wrinkle audit were favorable. Maybe it was the lighting?!

The rest of this portion of our trip, Ed was back at work and Daniel and I took things fairly easy. There were a few memorable highlights though... a lovely day with our good friends, the Packmans - such a treat to be able to get to know Lydia (another of our fabulous God-daughters) better and to catch up with lovely friends that we feel so at ease with.

A lovely, girly lunch with Liddie (a G at heart, although we know you now love being a C!) and a mad night out with the freeway boys... you're all loonies!

Two wonderful family-reunion days - one in Winchester with my Mum's sisters and their (ever-increasing!) families and Dad's sister & her husband...

...AND one in Wimbledon with Ed's Mum's side of the family. We are SO blessed to be part of such big, caring and Jesus-loving families! Our hearts ache to be back in the UK so that we can see MORE of you all!
We have now officially been back in the USA for over a month! Life here is going well, we have been enjoying 'scorchio' weather conditions - which has been a real treat. Generally, we have just been slotting back into the comfortable familiarity of a predictable routine, but this weekend, we DID break the mould by going WHALE watching in long beach on Friday! Oh yes! Apparently they had been seeing blue whales on a daily basis for the week or so preceding our trip, so we set sail with hopeful hearts. Sadly, although we DID have the joy of seeing plenty of dolphins up close, the whales were obviously having some kind of deep sea convention... elsewhere. They didn't show us even the tip of a tail fin to satisfy our large-sea-dwelling-mammal appetites! But it was still lovely to be out on the ocean in glorious sunshine.

From long beach, we headed further east, into the LA mountains for our church retreat. We were told we were going to be staying in a 'basic cabin' and friends of ours who had been before had warned us that it was fairly primitive... but when we arrived, we were amazed to find that our cabin was GORGEOUS - honestly, we would have paid top dollar to stay there! It was a great weekend. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, receiving challenging and uplifting teaching and getting to know our brothers and sisters out here better... a perfect way to spend a few days!

Daniel's vocabulary explosion is in full swing. Every day new words emerge that I had no idea he knew. His favorite word is 'hot'. He is very pleased with himself for learning how to say 'A,B,C' this week... and so says it ALL the time! His only other 'phrase' is 'have a giggle', which is simply adorable! He can now climb up the ladder on the climbing frame at our local park - something that other children his age are not attempting! NO sign of any developmental delay there then! Praise God! His absolute favorite thing to do? The cleaning! Yesterday I bought him a mini broom - and the delight on his face as he sweeps his way around the house is an absolute picture!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

UK Tour - 20th - 28th August

From St Margaret's Bay, we drove north, to our old neighborhood in Berkshire - did a drive-by of our home in Chamberlain Gardens and had a nostalgic moment before heading to the lovely home of our treasured friends, the Chapmans. BOTH of the gorgeous Chapman girlies are our Godchildren - what a treat!

On the Saturday, we loved catching up with the Bickersteths, for an (as ever) delicious lunch, full of fun and wonderful, soul-enriching conversation, followed by a lovely afternoon (and trip to the park!) with our precious friends, the Phillips.

Sunday was the date for our Berkshire picnic - no joke, I had invited most of the county! Thankfully, not everyone we had invited showed up, otherwise it would have been a real squeeze! What a joy to catch up with so many wonderful friends and introduce Daniel to everyone. We LOVED it.

Monday and Tuesday, I took on my alter-ego as international ROCKKKKKK sensation; Mrs 'Rock Chick' Nic Gilchrist! The Freeway boys (shout OUT!) had been hard at work during the months preceding our trip, rockording the music for our SECOND album (which is going to ROCCKKKK your World! Oh yes! THIS one is DEFINITELY better than 'Contraflow' - our first album - it might even be ready by Christmas, so start putting it on your Christmas list!), so all that remained was for me to add my voice to the mix! We skillfully combined a challenging rockording itinerary with giggles and fun, such that I absolutely LOVED these days. Hard work, but a great reminder of how fantastic (even if i do say so myself!) our music & lyrics are and how much FUN I have with these crazy ROCCKKKKKK boys!

While I was making sweet music, Ed spent Monday with his 'MUG' (Mad Uncle Guib) and Robert (his almost-as-mad son), watching England wrap up a 4 - 0 series win! What fun!

Wednesday and Thursday were precious days with the Chapmans - Ed got to play some golf and Caroline and I were released from child-care duties for a few hours to indulge in some retail therapy and morning tea + cake! WONDERFUL. Oh we are SO blessed to have friends that we can totally be ourselves with and relax and chat and just 'be' together. We love you!

It was while staying with the Chapmans that Daniel took his first steps! SO exciting! It would still be a few weeks before he would choose walking over crawling, but it was SUCH fun to know that he COULD WALK!!!

Friday we headed back to Winchester to do some washing (!) and re-packing before the drive down to the south coast to CAMP with Daniel's 3 Godparents (+ the lovely Emily & William!) in Ewelease! Although Jen and I had a sinking feeling as the boys put up tents in lashing rain, once that cloud had passed we had uninterrupted sunshine for the rest of the weekend. It was SUCH fun. Glorious views, lovely cliff walks, scrummy pub meals, warm campfires, Chinese lanterns, wine, toasted marsh-mallows, almond croissants, SOOOOO much laughter and deep, challenging and encouraging conversations. My idea of a PERFECT weekend! Amazingly, the children actually slept pretty well (although Daniel snuggled in my sleeping bag for most of both nights), which made the whole experience MUCH more enjoyable!

UK Tour - 8th-19th August

Thankfully, Daniel and I were both well by the time our original August itinerary really kicked in. Our first stop? A lovely, restful few days with our precious friends, the Millers. The gorgeous Annabel (their eldest) is one of our God-daughters. What an absolute blessing and joy it is to be able to feel completely at ease with friends you haven't seen for a couple of years - we just picked up where we'd left off and remembered anew how blessed we are with the friends we have.

From there, we headed south again to Brentwood where we spent the best part of a week with the much-loved Grandpa G and Aunty Frim! It was the first time I had been back to Mitre House since Jane died and the tangible absence of her exuberant presence was heartbreaking. She will ALWAYS be missed. Ed's Dad is retiring next September and will be moving out of the house when he leaves. It may well be that we won't get to be there again, so we spent some time labeling and sorting Ed's things ready for the move.

On Saturday 13th, we attended the wedding of Ed's old friend, Ollie Brown. The Brown family have been very close friends for over 30 years, so it was lovely we could all be there together.

On the Sunday we all drove down to St Margaret's bay on the south coast, near Dover, to Granville Hope, the home that Jane poured her love into and which is such a haven, overlooking the channel. While we were there, Ed's grandmother and great-aunt also came to stay nearby, so we got to spend some very special time altogether. I think the highlight of the week was a trip on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch mini railway- SUCH fun! Daniel was absolutely in his element - as was his grandfather!!! It was also VERY special to spend a day with Ruth & Andrew Miller (the parents of our special friends we'd seen the week before). Dear Ruth, our thoughts and prayers are with you and the whole family.

UK tour - The first few weeks

Ed's Grandfather's family funeral on the 11th July and the thanksgiving service that afternoon (attended by about 500 people) was a very emotional, but incredibly special day. All the grandchildren took part doing readings and prayers and Dunmar's 3 son's all gave tribute to different aspects of their Father's life. Ed and I couldn't help but feel incredibly proud of the family we are a part of - the wonderful legacy that Dunmar has left. I only hope we can live a life that emulates his example - full of fun, faith-filled, prioritizing family and friends! (Honestly, I didn't plan that!).

The weeks following the funeral were a great chance for Daniel to really get to know his grandparents.

We also got to know Ffion
(my brother's daughter, who we had not yet met apart from on Skype!) and we were around for granny's 94th (hey! hey!) birthday!

Sadly, Daniel also encountered his first English germs and his immune system needed to learn to fight some 'real' viruses - not these weedy Californian varieties! My blood sugar went out of control and I felt pretty rough too... So it was lovely to be based at my parents in Winchester with a fairly clear diary!

I managed to squeeze in a day with my eldest God-daughter and close friend, the Gorgeous Mrs Clay, which was a real treat. The long overdue first meeting with Daniel was a complete joy to behold!

We also had a day with our good friends, the Bonds - their oldest son, Sam, is one of our Godsons. Daniel absolutely LOVED hanging out with some older boys while we revelled in the joy of catching up with old friends.

Another real treat was the day that we decided to surprise everyone by turning up at HBC (Holiday Bible Club), the children's summer activity week run by our old church,

that Ed and I used to help at before we left. It was SO much fun to see the look of surprise on everyone's faces as we strolled in and a real joy to catch up with so many special people.

Sadly, a really nasty chest infection (which actually required a trip to A & E) meant that Daniel was not well enough to attend Ed's cousin, the stunning Katy Stileman's 21st birthday celebration on the 4th August. The same bug prevented us flying to Geneva to attend the Swiss marrage celebrations for another of Ed's cousins, the lovely MRS (how exciting!) Alex Cardwell. Ed went along solo to both of these events while I stayed home with a poorly Mr Beauto.
Apologies for the blog (and email!) silence over the past few months - we decided to prioritise real face-to-face time with friends and family in the UK over e-communication! But, we are now back in LA (I can't quite bring myself to call it 'home' - that tells you where I am emotionally!) and so it is time for us to fill you in on what we've been up to!

Firstly, THANK YOU to all those of you who prayed for our journey home - it was surprisingly easy! Our original plan was to leave Cornwall early on Thursday morning, drive up to Oxshott to return Ed's grandfather's car (which we borrowed for the duration of our stay - VERY generous! THANK YOU!!!) and then take a taxi straight to Heathrow to catch our flight... that would have been an epically AWFUL day... thankfully, we realised this ahead of time and drove up to Winchester on Wednesday night while Belter slept and then headed to Oxshott after a lovely family morning together.

Once on the flight, Daniel entertained everyone by walking laps of the plane for a few hours. When I say 'everyone', I think MOST people were entertained, but there were a few people who clearly did NOT like babies, or appreciate chubby little (perhaps not entirely clean) fingers using their legs as a balancing aid! Oh well, they just had to live with it! The funniest thing was that Daniel was very taken with tattooed arms - there were a few highly decorated limbs on display - and, even though these limbs were attached to young men who I would not want to meet in a dark alley, Daniel beamed at them and they melted as he exclaimed with delight while tracing the patterns on their skin! Hilarious!

After feeding him, our meals arrived (SERIOUSLY good food in business class!) and we strapped him into his child seat. He protested for about half an hour before falling asleep... and folks, at the risk of sounding like a gloating parent, he STAYED asleep right up until about an hour before we landed! BRILLIANT! All the passengers around us kept congratulating us on having THE most wonderful baby in the universe (which, of course, he is!)

We arrived (gulp)... home (there, i've said it) at about 8pm, fed, bathed and gave him his milk. He fell asleep. We thought, we've got away with it, he thinks it's night time! All was peaceful in the Gilchrist house until about 2am, when Daniel decided it was time to start our day. Although we tried to persuade him otherwise, it soon became clear that our son had had enough sleep. So, the day began!

We thought we'd go and do our food shop, but could NOT find a 24 hour supermarket anywhere (I admit, more than one grumbling comment about how it would be easy to find a 24 hour Tesco's in the UK passed my lips!). In the end we found milk and bananas in a 7-11 (ironically, at 3 in the morning!) before heading to IHOP for breakfast (oh yes, THEY stay open 24 hours!). This was a bad idea (although fun) and Ed and I both fought back the urge to vomit afterwards. Quality cuisine it is not. Welcome back to the USA digestive system!

Yesterday was spent in a haze of unpacking, loads of washing, sorting through post and rapidly child-proofing our apartment for a now WALKING toddler!

Daniel woke at 1.30am thismorning but his wonderful Daddy managed to persuade him back to sleep and our day began at the more reasonable hour of 5am. Hopefully it won't take our son TOO long to get over his jet-lag!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hi there Blog fans!

We are loving our time here in the UK, spending time with friends and family - in fact, we're enjoying ourselves so much, we rarely feel the urge to turn on the computer to update the blog! I'm afraid you will have to wait another month or so before we get round to showing you some of the lovely photos we've been taking and fill you in on what we've been up to!

The main reason for walking away from my friends and glass of wine this evening is to announce to the World the exciting news that... wait for it...

MY SON TOOK HIS FIRST INDEPENDENT STEPS TODAY!!!

Oh yes! He seemed to be as shocked as we were! He was watching Grace and Bethia (2 of our lovely God-daughters) playing, I was holding his fingers and then subtly let him go... he stood for about a minute before realising he was going solo and then dropped to his knees. We tried again, the same thing happened and then, to our absolute amazement, he stood and WALKED about 3 paces! YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Ed was at the Oval today watching England beat India (again) and so he was not present... once I realised that momentous events were occurring that his Daddy would like to share I scooped Daniel into my arms and have not attempted to engage him in standing/walking since...

He has a Daddy-day tomorrow, while I finish recording (or, ROCKording, as we like to call it!) the final tracks for 'Freeway album 2' (oh yes, fans, it IS on it's way and it is sounding GOOD!!!)... so hopefully tomorrow Ed will get to share the joy of our very-nearly-walking son!!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life has suddenly become slightly crazy this week - whereas I thought I had over a month to prepare and plan for our trip to the UK (ordering extra insulin supplies, learning how to manage the time difference on my pump, stocking up with snacks and drinks for Daniel, washing & ironing...etc), I was suddenly faced with less than a week to get everything ready!

It is now Thursday evening (only TWO more sleeps to go!) and I think we're there. The house is clean, the snacks are bought, I have copious amounts of diabetes apparatus AND our clothes are clean and ironed (only those that REALLY needed it!). The only challenge now is how to fit it all into 4 bags! Yikes!

Tomorrow I have booked a babysitter for the afternoon and I am going to get my hair cut... I am taking my book and can't tell you how much I am looking forward to SITTING DOWN for a bit!

This week 'Belter' (short for Belteshazzar - Daniel's (the bible one!) Babylonian name and our son's main nickname) has done some pretty cute things (even cuter than normal!)...

1) He is now happy to hold onto one hand and walk onto the balcony - something that he thinks is exceptionally exciting, not least since he might catch a glimpse of Max - the 5 year old boy who lives next door and who Daniel thinks is super cool. Anyway, yesterday we were out there and Daniel bent down to put his fingers in some mud. I said 'No Daniel, that's dirty'. He looked up and, with exactly the intonation I had used, said 'Dirty' - clear as day! Then fell into fits of uncontrollable giggles - he was SO pleased with himself! The next 20 minutes were spent with us repeating 'dirty' at each other - each time followed by uncontrollable giggles on both our parts! Bliss! Should I be concerned that this is his first really clear word?!!!

2) Today all went silent as Ed and I sat down for our de-brief on the day. We looked round and saw that Daniel had managed to pull down the cloth that I had used to wipe his face after his dinner. He had an enormous grin on his face and was avidly wiping down the table legs, chairs and floor with great enthusiasm! A hopeful sign that 'dirty' might also enjoy 'clean'!

We are SO excited that all our UK readers will get to meet the little man in person SOON! It has been TOO long!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Oh When the Saints Go Marching In

Brig. David M. Stileman, OBE (9/4/24 - 24/6/11) died at 7.10am GMT on Friday morning. He was my grandfather and my hero. He was the archetypal patriarch of the family it was my privilege to be born into.

He taught me to drive (both behind the wheel and on the golf course). When I was a boy, his finger used to fly from 'airport' to 'airport' (mole to mole) over my arms and legs. He would get me marching round the big table in his room to military music. He would hand out smarties after each race at Wadhurst OCU holiday camps. He would come and watch me play sport. He got me signed up onto the MCC waiting list for my 18th Birthday (I'm still waiting!).

There is so much he did to make life full and fun, (not least: paying for my schooling!), but his greatest work and the thing for which I will be forever grateful, has been his faithful prayers for me and the whole family every day of our lives.

I am gutted I was over 6,000 miles away when he was 'promoted'. I am gutted my son never got to meet him. I can't begin to describe how greatly he will be missed.

However, just last week I had the opportunity to give a talk to the foster kids youth group I volunteer at in Inglewood and I spoke on the living hope that is ours, thanks to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. For my grandfather, that hope has now been realised. I am comforted to think that, although he didn't meet Daniel, he is now getting to know his firstborn great-grandson, Joshua and has been re-united with his daughter, my mum. But his greatest delight will be to look upon the face of his saviour, Jesus Christ, in whom he had put his trust and with whom he had walked all his life.


We are travelling back a little earlier than planned now for our long summer trip back to the UK, so as to be able to be there for his funeral on July 8th. While I miss my Dunmar already, I'm looking forward to seeing my grandmother, Barbie, and the rest of the family and introducing Daniel to them all. We touch down at Heathrow next Sunday morning.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What a treat to eat my lunch just now while watching Andy Murray breeze through the 1st round of Wimbledon... although I hate to gloat, it does seem that I have the best of both worlds - Wimbledon on TV & SUNSHINE outside!!! There would be no need for that roof in California!!!

Apologies for the 2 week blog silence. May was a busy month. Ed has had short trips to Montreal, Boston & Redwood Shores for work, we've enjoyed the pleasure of a week with Mr Bruce aka 'The Colonel' (I hope you all enjoyed the Baywatch video - we're up to over 200 views on UTube - it's still not too late for us to become an Internet sensation - although my suspicion is that over 100 of those views has been Stevie... come on, be honest!).

I also had Caitlin (my good friend from the Bay area) down to stay while Ed was away last week - such fun to have some girly time together.




Caitlin took Daniel and I for our first 'Diddy Riece' ice cream-cookie-sandwich (http://www.diddyriese.com/home.php)! Oh my! Not a recommended part of a diabetic diet, but SO delicious!




AND we've squeezed in those trips to Kings Canyon and San Diego! Phew!

In amongst all the fun, my husband found the time to glance at his profile shape in the mirror. Rather than the chiseled specimen he thought he'd see reflected, instead he saw a 30 something man with a definite belly protrusion... and decided he needed to take control! For the first time in our married life, Ed is counting calories with discipline and I frequently wake up to find the bed vacated (pre-7am!) and Ed out on a early morning run! All very impressive.

Daniel is still not walking independently. He is taking his time, enjoying walking his little wagon up and down the apartment and I am enjoying the last few days/weeks before life gets truly exhausting! He has learnt how to open cupboards and delights in emptying the contents item-by-item, carefully inspecting and 'tasting' each object before discarding it on the floor around him. Sadly, he has not yet got the hang of putting things away! He has also learnt how to flush the loo and we now have the pleasure of hearing the loo flushing at frequent intervals throughout the day! Not very 'green', but highly entertaining! And he can now get up the climbing frame at our local park and go down the slide (with Mummy)! Such fun!

I skipped church yesterday and had some time with the Lord on my own in an empty, quiet, child-free apartment while the boys went to church! Bliss. I also had my first long soaky bath of 2011, painted my nails and shaved my legs (not for the first time in 2011!). I even put cucumber slices on my eyes! It was a much needed oasis of time... I love being a full-time Mum, but sometimes a little break is necessary! Throughout July Ed is taking Daniel for swimming lessons on a Saturday morning, so I am looking forward to a little bit of 'me' time each week while they're out!

I hear a little man stirring from his nap, so i'll have to sign off... if I get a moment, i'll try to add some photos later...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hi there!

We have just had a lovely long weekend away together in San Diego! We swam in the sea (well, the boys did!), went to the San Diego zoo and the aquarium AND managed to squeeze in a shopping trip too! Phew!




Daniel was absolutely in his element with Daddy around full-time. His 2 favorite things at the moment are:

1) squeezing himself into/through the smallest spaces he can find




2) standing up or kneeling and pushing things around the house


video

He is babbling away all the time and gives the impression that he feels he is making perfect sense! This parenting thing just keeps on getting more and more fun!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Christmas has come early. Daniel has his two front teeth!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Baywatch revisited

Over the past week we have been enjoying the company of Colonel Bruce on a visit over from HQ. The silliness factor has multiplied one hundred fold. As testament to this, please enjoy the attached hommage to the 90s TV show that was set right here on the coastline where we now live, and was part of our childhood! David Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson: eat your hearts out!
video

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Now let me update you on the rest of last week...

We got to see most of our precious friends from the Bay area, which was an absolute treat and made us realise, yet again, how good God has been to us in providing such a wonderful group of friends in such a relatively short time.

On Tuesday Daniel had his audiology check-up. The appointment was at 1pm - right in the middle of his daily nap time - so he was a tired little boy before we even started. From my speech therapy training, I know that getting a reliable hearing assessment on a young child is notoriously difficult, since it requires them to a) sit still, b) concentrate on faint, random noises & c) turn their head towards these faint, random noises (which, once you've turned towards a few and nothing much has happened, looses it's appeal)... I was therefore unsurprised to hear that the results indicate that although it is very likely that Daniel has perfect hearing, they were unable to absolutely cancel out the possibility of mild hearing loss in one ear... which, if that is the case (and I am almost certain it's not), they wouldn't do anything about anyway. We're going to check it again in a year.

On Tuesday afternoon I went on a lovely walk + pray with Julia, my treasured friend and role-model. As always, it was a soul-refreshing time... amongst other things, I shared about how I was realising just how deeply I value and rely on my external appearance for my security & confidence... we prayed... the Lord heard &, as only He could, He provided a way to start hacking away at that confidence straight away. Just as the Lord provided a worm for Jonah, the Lord provided a mosquito for me! A mosquito that bit me just above my right eye.

Unbeknown to me, among my other post-30yrs auto-immune conditions, I have now developed a fairly severe allergic reaction to mosquito bites! Oh my! By Wednesday morning, my forehead and eye were the size of a cricket ball - VERY attractive! (this photo was taken on Thursday morning - believe it or not, it had gone down quite a lot by then!)

After a quick trip to the ER for strong anti-histamines, we ploughed on to our accommodation in Kings Canyon.


There, despite the swollen eye, we spent 2 1/2 fantastic days, bathed in glorious sunshine, enjoying the spectacular beauty of this section of God's breathtaking creation... it was fabulous.



My wonderful husband then drove us home on Friday night and we have spent a lovely weekend at home as a family, resting and getting the house ready to welcome our good friend, the 'Colonel Brooooooooster', Mr big Stevie himself, who arrives from the UK tomorrow lunchtime!

Who you gonna call?!

Yesterday I saw perhaps the best thing I've seen since I've been in the United States.

Ghostbusters!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Praise the Lord! Oh my! The appointments for Daniel yesterday could not have been more positive!

First thing in the morning, he had his developmental review where a specialist developmental doctor tested him on all sorts of physical, cognitive and language tasks... she kept saying 'oh he is amazing!' (which of course, he is!). Yesterday he was 11 months and 5 days from his due date. He came out as being at a 12 month level for cognition and language and a solid 11 month level for physical development.

Initially I was a bit disappointed, thinking 'but he's 15 months old, shouldn't he be catching up?', but then the doctor explained that she is actually doing a PhD on this very issue. She said that the research that everyone uses to support the notion that premature babies 'catch up' within 2 years is based on data from babies born at 35 weeks - CLEARLY a 24 weeker has more ground to make up! She said that they are actually moving away from the expectation that these babies born really early will somehow speed through development at faster rate than a normal baby in order to 'catch up' with their birth date. Instead, she said that a more evidence based approach is to say that a baby has 'caught up' if they are in line with their DUE date age - judging by this standard, our son has completely 'caught up' and is, in fact excelling in most areas! Wahoo!

The doctor could not have been more positive. She had no real pointers for things we needed to be working on. She was absolutely thrilled with Daniel and in fact, she said that she couldn't remember meeting a more sociable, attentive and observant little boy - those skills are vital for learning and she said that you cant really 'teach' parents how to engender those skills in their children, but the fact that Daniel has them is wonderful and will hopefully mean he is able to concentrate and learn when he hits school! Yeah!

In the afternoon we had a respiratory appointment. The day just kept getting better! The doctor listened as I explained how Daniel had quickly fought off 2 chest infections recently. He asked about Daniel's energy levels and ability to be active (oh my! NO concerns there - in fact, do you know where his 'off' switch is?!)... he then listened to Daniel's lungs. At the end of the appointment he looked at me and said, "I know it's hard for you, because you have the memories of your little boy rigged up to all sorts of wires and tubes, but, as far as you can, I would encourage you to try and forget the start in life that your child had. In terms of his lungs, there is absolutely no sign that he has any degree of lung damage. There is no reason why his lungs should limit him in any way. If he wants to be a professional sportsman, he can. The fact he has fought off infection so quickly tells me that there is no underlying damage - most preemies take weeks to get back to full health after an infection has gone to their chest, but Daniel is fighting infection just like a normal baby"... STUNNED (and slightly emotional) SILENCE. Praise God!

I have just been SO thanking God and thinking about the story of Daniel in the Lion's den from the bible. Daniel is thrown into a pit of hungry lions but, come the morning, there is not a scratch on him because God has protected him. My little Daniel was thrown into his own Lion's den at 24 weeks... humanly speaking, he should have at least SOME 'scratches' - either mentally, physically or emotionally... but he has emerged completely unharmed.

Praise God! I mean, PRAISE GOD!!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hi there!

Ed and I LOVED watching the Royal wedding - we probably enjoyed it more being out here since we've been on an enforced 2 year fast from all things English - so it was an absolute delight to see smartly dressed aristocracy, hear plummy English accents and see the historic buildings and streets of London...





In the pre-amble, the TV coverage filmed a group of the Irish guards marching in the full attire, complete with the ridiculous Busby hats... the American commentator explained that William was due to be wearing the traditional red jacket of the Irish guards and then, with fantastic comic timing, the other commentator chimed in "but will he be wearing that chapeau?"... we have both been collapsing in hysterical fits of giggles at the memory of this comment ever since! Brilliant! Just the thought of our future king walking down the aisle in that hat!


On other news... I am beginning to learn that babies are awesome at fighting off infections! Although he seemed very unwell on Thursday last week, by Friday he was already significantly better and on Saturday he hardly coughed at all! He is doing really well... the main highlight of this week is that he has started saying 'Mummy' and 'Daddy' really clearly - and often it seems that he IS actually aware that he is saying our names! Awww how to melt a parent's heart!


These are some of the photos we took this weekend - the highlight for Daniel was sharing Daddy's ICECREAM - what a TREAT! (you see the evidence all down his chin in the first photo!)





















Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hi there faithful blog readers!

Sorry for leaving you with Christmas photos as the last update for so long! Life has been plodding on here in LA... we have been fighting the temptation to feel bitter and twisted about the fact that the UK has been enjoying better weather than we've been having over the past week or so... AND we've missed out on FOUR UK bank holidays over Easter and the royal wedding! Humph!

The coverage of the royal wedding is hilarious out here - "what WILL the Queen be wearing on the big day? Find out, at 11"... I have to confess to feeling slightly nostalgic about being so far away for such an historic national event... AND (even more importantly), I am missing my neice's first BIRTHDAY party! Humph! Happy Birthday, Ffion!

The main highlight of the last week was that last Saturday I brushed shoulders with John Lock from 'Lost' as I was walking down Main St in Venice - my first real celebrity spot since moving here! Of course, I played it cool - being a 'local' you have to act like this kind of thing happens all the time and appear to be entirely unimpressed by whichever star you happen to see!

The main lowlight is that Daniel has contracted ANOTHER cough - this time it has really gone to his chest and he is hacking away... even though his eyes are bloodshot and he's full of snot, he still manages to smile as often as he can between coughing fits... what a little trooper. Thankfully he is still managing to sleep fairly well, which is a major blessing. We're praying that his little body fights this off quickly...

One other update that you'll be pleased to hear is that Daniel HAS (at long last) learnt how to get down from standing (phew!). He is not yet standing independently or walking (although he pulls himself up and side steps alongside all our furniture) - but he did climb up into his push-chair (or 'stroller') today! I don't think it will be long before we have a fully mobile toddler on our hands! Yikes!

Enjoy the royal wedding - we're recording it (coverage starts at 1am our time)... God save the Queen!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I know it's all out of sync, but Ed and I just 'found' a whole load of photos on one of our cameras from Daniel's first Christmas - we had forgotten all about them in the move! So, even though you're approaching summer back home (it's always summer here!), let me take you back to December... A very happy Christmas with Grandpa G & Aunty Frim!
Wahoooooooooooooooooooo! We have enjoyed TWO nights of uninterrupted sleep!

Ed and I decided to 'take control' and placed a veto on night time drives as a method of lulling our child to sleep. Instead we went back to 'controlled crying' - letting him cry for 10 minute intervals before going in to lie him down & encourage him to 'yield' to sleep! It is taking between 1/2 an hour and 1 hour before he eventually goes quiet, but it seems to be working!


We have also realised that Daniel sleeps much better if he has seen Daddy before being put down. So bedtime is being delayed until Daddy can come home, have a cuddle, read a bible story and pray with us... Daniel then seems more content to accept that the day has been closed off appropriately!


This was taken while Mummy & Daddy were having breakfast this morning... great squeals of delight preceded the feeling of little hands touching our knees under the table... our son has not yet understood the concept of 'stealth attacks'! Fortunately, these squeals of delight also precede any 'mischief' - so I know exactly when he has decided to crawl towards one of the forbidden plants or the computer, because he announces his intentions at the top of his lungs!

Friday, April 8, 2011

It appears that I spoke too soon! Last night, the toxic combination of being unwell, coupled with the irresistible urge to stand up AND teething pain so possessed our son that even the night-time drive did not do the trick. We are losing this battle. Where HAS that child who used to go off to sleep so peacefully gone? We are telling ourselves that this is just a 'season' - but it's pretty exhausting! He's still gorgeous and I wouldn't take him back even if I had kept the receipt!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ok, so who's been praying for our son to stop standing up at bedtime? Whoever you are, THANK YOU! Not only does the urge to stand seem less inticing, he is also learning to get back to a seated/lying down position from standing - making everyone's lives easier! The only snagaroo is that he has picked up a nasty cough/cold and so, although problem no. 1 is getting sorted, last night we did not sleep well because he kept waking himself up coughing (poor little sausage). He seems to be fighting it off fairly well - which is a great answer to prayer since we were unsure how well he'd cope with a chest infection after being on a ventilator for so long... but it's still horrid. He's an absolute trooper though and continues to persistently smile between coughs! He just LOVES interacting with people! The pediatrician was finding it hard to believe that he was actually unwell because he seemed so chirpy! In the midst of infection, he has also mastered some new skills - namely clapping (SO cute!) and giving 'high 5's' (a great delight!)... even snotty and under-par, he's amazing!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ever since Ed wrote 'Mischief' under 'Full Time Occupation' on a medical form for Daniel, our son has been taking his vocation very seriously! This week he has developed the 'dropping things' game. This game involves dropping whatever toy, dummy or food item he has been handed. The game is only made more hilarious by Mummy's serious "No!" (get ready to be astounded by this praiseworthy example of firm but kind discipline - parents, take note, this is clearly the way to do it! Oh yikes! How DO you discipline someone as CUTE as this?!!!).
videoOne morning, as I was brushing my teeth, I looked round to find Daniel standing up against the loo, splashing in the (thankfully, recently flushed) loo water. On another occasion, having left Daniel to play on his own for five minutes, I heard a crash followed by a wail and came rushing through to find our laptop computer (which he had been told not to touch) on the floor and Daniel was sporting the beginnings of a black eye! Thankfully it didn't develop into a full-blown 'shiner'. After the broken arm, a black eye might have got the neighbours worried! Another theme of the past week has been Daniel's refusal to go to sleep at night. We are grieving the loss of the baby who used to go down without a peep and sleep through until 7am. The cause of this unrest: his new-found ability to stand in his cot! He seems to get himself into a vicious cycle. The irresistible urge to stand overtakes him, even though he is incredibly tired. Then, once standing, he is currently unable to get himself back to a seated or lying position. Ed & I repeatedly go in and lie him back down, but the pattern continues until Daniel is so tired, and so upset that sleep becomes impossible. Usually Boobs do the trick in breaking the cycle, but on two occasions, we've had to resort to night drives with Mummy and Daddy in their 'jarmies! Until he learns to get back down from having stood up, we fear there may be more sleepless nights ahead of us.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This is a blog post especially for those grandparents, great grandparents, aunties and uncles who are greatly missed (but we hope the rest of you enjoy it too!)... we wish you were here to share these wonderful moments with us!
video

Monday, March 21, 2011

On Saturday night the fire alarm went off at 1.10am. We were not amused. Immediately, we sprung into action, frantic clothes-pulling-on, shoe finding, insulin-kit finding and then, gathering Daniel in our arms wrapped in a warm blanket we made our way down the stairs. For Daniel, this was THE most exciting event of his existence so far. Far from crying and complaining about being roused from his slumber, Daniel was thrilled to bits to be having an impromptu middle-of-the-night cuddle with Daddy - AND there was a whole crowd of people around who he could smile at! Bliss.

There were reports that smoke had been seen on the second floor, but there was no sign of any flames - and, to my amazement, in an apartment complex that must house over 2000 people, only about 30 of us actually came outside - unbelievable! Made me think about the warnings in the gospel about what will happen when we die if we're not trusting in Jesus... so few even look into Jesus' claims... we're shouting "FIRE! FIRE!" but most people seem to just want to keep on sleeping in their beds... not realising their house is on fire.

We hung around for about 15 minutes before the fire engine arrived. They quickly confirmed that pesky pranksters had used a fire extinguisher on the second floor, which had set off the alarm... we were allowed back in, but by now, Daniel thought the day had started - so it took us a good while before anyone got any sleep!

Monday, March 14, 2011

On Friday morning, just as Ed had left for work and I was preparing to leave for my women's bible study group, my phone went. It was my lovely neighbour, Nurgul. She asked whether I was watching the news. Since Ed and I are on a TV fast (as well as alcohol) for lent, I was not. She informed me that she was currently driving away from the ocean & told me that I ought to take Daniel, get in the car and drive as far from the coast as I could since a Tsunami was on the way. As you can imagine, my heartbeat picked up speed somewhat! I hastily turned on the computer and went to the BBC news website, where Obama calmly informed me that if I needed to be evacuated, I would be told in plenty of time. After a quick phone call with Ed & my parents to confirm the wisdom of my inaction, I went to my study group as usual. You will all be relieved to know that we have not been swept away - there were some large waves, but nothing dangerous happened locally.

Before I say any more, our hearts & prayers are very much with those in Japan who are dealing with the devastation & huge loss of life that this disaster has caused.

In my last post, I failed to update you all on another exciting development that our new LA existence has over life in the Bay area - and that, my friends, is CURRY! Thank you Colonel Curry for prompting this update! Yes, at long last, we have found a curry house that cooks authentic Indian cuisine. Now the sound of 'Ahhhh, sweet curry' can again be heard echoing in the hallways of the Gilchrist apartment block! I have not yet mastered 'carb counting' for curry - it always sends my blood sugar high - but I am not prepared to sacrifice this pleasure! My organs will just have to cope! (Mum, I am joking! I just take an extra dose of insulin to correct it later in the evening!)... on the subject of my diabetes, the blood sugar does seem to be under better regulation and I am thrilled with the new endocrinologist team I am being seen by.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hi there! I realise that I have not updated you for a while on how life is going for us here in LA, so let me amend my ways!

Church - we went to a small church that was meeting in someone's home for a few weeks. The people were lovely and in many ways we really liked the vision that the church had, but the time they met and the limited childcare just meant it was not a good 'fit' for us at our life stage. About 4 weeks ago we therefore started going to Pacific Crossroads Church in Santa Monica (http://www.pacificcrossroads.org/www). We are absolutely LOVING this church. It is very similar to the church we were going to in the Bay Area - fantastic teaching and lots going on mid-week. I (Nicci!) have joined a women's group on a Friday morning, which is wonderful - and Ed is currently out at a mentoring teenage kids who are in foster care evening - it's the first time he's gone, but it might end up being a regular commitment... we'll see.

Ed is enjoying his job and seems to be appreciated by his new team. He has also joined a local running club and intends to run every Weds evening & Sat morning (at least!).

We LOVE living here - it just feels SUCH a treat - 2 different beaches within a 2 minute walk, views of snow-capped mountains in the distance, lots of coffee shops overlooking the ocean & sun, sun, SUN!!! We will treasure the memories of living in such a heavenly location - I can't imagine many places in the World are as beautiful or as much fun to live in.

Friends - what an amazing answer to prayer! Dee & Tom are a lovely English couple who live in our apartment complex - I walk with Dee at least once a week and she has become a real friend. Peter & Rachel are Liverpudlians who live opposite us and are great fun. Tabitha & Chad go to our church and have a 13 month old daughter (Anna) - I meet up with Tabitha once a week for a walk too. Kate & Jonathan (and their 9 month old daughter, Jordan) live directly above us and we get on really well... all of the above came to our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Party this week - what fun! AND there are plenty of other people we've met who may develop into friends as time goes on (certainly I am sure a few of the women at the Friday women's group will become close friends)... certainly feels like the Lord has provided us richly in this area!

I think those are the highlights... Daniel is now crawling & he has also started 'singing' (basically yelling on one note, at the top of his voice, beaming from ear to ear & engaging eye contact & smiles with anyone who'll look at him ), whenever people are singing (and sometimes when it's a quiet moment too!) in church! It does say we should 'make a joyful noise unto the Lord!' - hopefully his 'noise' will become more tuneful as time goes on!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Morning all! Ed here - with profound apologies for the lack of recent updates since Daniel's first birthday. The intervening weeks have been marked by two particular themes:

The first is that Daniel has become something of a ladies man. Having passed this monumental milestone, Daniel clearly believes himself to have come of age. Nicci has made friends with Kate (who lives directly above us) and her 9 month old daughter, Jordan. Daniel & Jordan clearly hit it off straight away - but rather embarrassingly, Daniel was intent on 'kissing' Jordan! Kate was very understanding as she rescued her daughter from our slobbering son!

Quite the Casanova, Daniel is also fostering a illicit romance with Anna, a sweet blond he met in the creche at Church. Daniel played it cool when he heard the two mum's arranging to have a play date, but when the day came round he was again quick to make his move and planted a big wet one on Anna's eye.

Rest assured, we will be closely monitoring these developments and will keep you posted.

The second theme of the last few weeks has been Nicci's Diabetes. For some unknown reason, she has been having real trouble keeping her blood sugars in check, often going 'Hyper' (with higher than acceptable blood sugar levels). We believe it is something to do with the settings on the pump, her 'Basil' rate and the insulin/carb ratio she uses when calculating her doses. There had been a long waiting list at the recommended Endocrinologist, but thankfully Nicci saw her new doctor on Thursday and is now really encouraged and hopeful that things will get back under control soon. Your prayers for this would be grateful appreciated.

I guess a third theme, which is hardly worth mentioning but I suppose may be music to the ears of those who would love to have us back home in England as soon as possible: it does also rain in LA. This has been getting in the way of my cycling to work. (However in truth, the rain didn't' last very long and it has left the mountains to the east looking beautifully snow-capped!). Sunshine is restored this morning, so all is well with the world!

AND, I guess a fourth development is that Daniel is now MOBILE! Like his grandfather on the slopes, he has a style "all of his own"! He is not yet using the conventional crawling motion but instead prefers to 'caterpillar' his way around. He is getting pretty speedy and no corner is now safe as he wriggles his way into any and every interesting-looking crevice! Wires, remote controls and shoes seem to be particularly alluring!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oh, and I forgot to say - on Monday afternoon Daniel's cast came off - so he had BOTH arms free for his birthday! Wahoo! The doctor says that the arm has healed really well, which is great news.

One thing that made Mum and I smile was that, while waiting for the lift at the doctors office, a nurse stopped to admire Daniel... she innocently commented "oh, and doesn't he look JUST like his SISTER!!!" - far from being insulted, Mum and I were both delighted - which shows that we must really be getting old!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Daniel has had a VERY happy FIRST Birthday!

We had breakfast at the Ritz...


..Enjoyed home-made, Lion Birthday Cake...

video

(which, as you can see, Daniel wasn't too sure about); opened LOTS of exciting presents (although we have to say, the wrapping paper seemed to be the most exciting part!) AND we've tried out his gift from his Mummy & Daddy (a baby bike seat & helmet) by going on a BIKE ride! What FUN!!!

Thank you so much for all the cards, presents and emails. We all feel very loved! While thoughts today have, at times, turned to our little Joshua - more than anything we are filled with joy and gratitude to our great God who has carried us through this year and given us the joy of being parents to such a fantastic son.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

AND (finally! - although, I realise now, you will be reading this post first!) Daniel is LOVING having his Granny to stay! Smiles and cuddles abound - although we are missing Grandpa (who had to stay home for various reasons), we are having a lovely time!