Tribute to The Tattooed Travelling Auto Mechanic

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On Friday evening we were headed out of town for a mini holiday, in fact our first proper holiday as a family! I dropped Scott at the train  station for work that rainy morning, knowing that I had a full days work ahead of me with packing and cleaning, not to mention the usual full days work of taking care of Ella! When I pulled into a parking spot outside our house I realised that only one parking light was reflecting off of the car ahead of me. I got out and checked and sure enough, both headlights and a parking light were out (thankfully, brake lights and rear lights were fine!). Having not owned a car in the U.K. for very long, I had no clue where to go to get anything done and was feeling a bit stressed with the added task and potential cost. Thankfully a car parts place was only a couple miles away. So, hoping they could help me figure out if I’d blown a fuse or just needed bulbs, a little while later Ella and I set off with me praying that it would be dry while I was getting the car sorted. 

We arrived at the parts place and got that look (as women often do when dealing with cars) that says all too clearly my toddler and I were out of place. I waited for nearly 5 minutes before anyone bothered to help me and just about the time someone decided to come to the counter a couple guys arrived behind me. I explained my problem and asked if anyone could do a quick check for me or tell me how to check my fuse box so I would know whether or not I needed to buy a fuse and a bulb or three bulbs. The guy behind the desk neutrally said they only sold parts and didn’t help people with their cars. I’d need to go to a mechanic for that. A middle aged English man, in blue coveralls, full sleeved tattoos on both arms, looking like he could be or had been in a gang, stepped forward and offered to check my car for me (he was one of the two men who had entered as I waited to be helped). I thanked him, accepted his offer and walked him to my car which was parked nearby. Once he’d decided that it was indeed the bulbs that had blown and not a fuse, he went back in the store with me to get the right bulbs. On the way back into the store he asked me where in America I was from and we chatted away about home and where where Scott, Ella and I were headed on holiday. I also explained that we hadn’t had a car very long in the U.K. and that when I used to own cars in America and needed parts, I’d pop into the parts store and they’d often instruct me on how to do something or do it for me if it was relatively simple. He shook his head sadly and said that unfortunately I wasn’t likely to find that kind of service in England and definitely not from people at an auto parts store. 

After the man behind the counter brought out the bulbs, Mr. Tattoos (I unfortunately never got his name) said that he’d pop them in for me while I waited. 🙂 Once the bulbs were changed the lights worked perfectly! I asked the man what he was up to the rest of the day and he said he was actually a travelling auto repairs mechanic and was on a job with his coworker and had come to the parts shop to pick up a part. I thanked him for all his help and kindness and off he went. It had remained dry the entire time Mr. Tattoos had worked on my car and everything was sorted for just under £5! I felt an overwhelming sense of God’s care and provision rush over me as I got Ella settled back in the car and drove home. Had the guys not been a bit slow with service at the shop, I might not have been there when the traveling aunt mechanics strolled in and Mr. Tattoos wouldn’t have heard my need and offered to help! Thank you God for completely taking care of me in my place of stress and worry and thank you Mr. Tattooed Traveling Auto Mechanic for being a kind and willing instrument of help! Blessings on you!    

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A New Lease on Life

The last year and a half has provided me with the opportunity to experience some of the most difficult and most amazing moments of my life. I am so thankful to be a year and a half on, in a new(ish) place, with a fresh start with my little family!

For those who don’t know, I was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism (over active Thyroid Gland) in late October 2013 and saw the Thyroid specialist in early December. The specialist said that stress is what typically brings on hyperthyroidism. I’m guessing having a baby (by forceps delivery), followed by your spouse unexpectedly losing his job 6 days later, changing churches, missing my home country and family, losing friends, joining a new organisation, raising our own salary, and moving from Scotland to central England and starting all over probably qualifies as a little stress. 😉

The women in my family have a history of under active thyroid, so it was quite a surprise to be told I actually had the opposite! I had sometimes had the shakes, heart palpitations and my heart raced for a lot of 2013, but it wasn’t until we moved into our new house in Birmingham that I began experiences really bad ankle and lower leg swelling that lasted for several days at a time and would only go down if I stayed lying down with my feet up for at least an hour. I lost quite a lot of weight alarmingly quickly despite increasing the amount and frequency of what I was eating. At about the same time I began to feel like I was completely losing it. I had no motivation to do anything, couldn’t handle even thinking about anyone else’s needs other than my family’s, and generally felt like I was “going crazy.” I cried multiple times a day every day and begged God for help and that what was wrong was actually physical and treatable. There were times when the only reasons I didn’t more seriously think about ending my life were Scott and Ella. Dark Days. Once we registered with a GP (family doctor) I made an appointment. I got my blood work results back within the week and was given an appointment to see the specialist. For just over a month I was given Propranolol (a beta blocker) to help manage my shakes, palpitations and anxiety. It didn’t help a whole lot, but instead caused me to have episodes of temporary deafness, followed by ringing in my ears, then really bad vertigo, and then about an hour or more of nausea. Embarrassingly, I once had an episode in Tesco and had to be helped and brought home by one of the guys who worked there. About the time I went to see the specialist, my body decided it was okay with the Propranolol and I stopped having side effects!!! The specialist let me know that it could take up to 6 months to get my thyroid hormone regulated with medication. By the Grace of God, within a month of taking Thyroid medication, I felt like my normal self! And still do!

The past month or so have been my absolute favourite with Ella so far! Having a baby was nice, but having an interactive, quick-learning toddler is a blast! At this stage she is learning new words every day, attempts names and generally can say most quite well, she runs and climbs and plays with others! Her absolute favourite things to do are to play on the slide, play with her friend Lyla (our neighbour’s daughter, Ella’s age), call for people (especially daddy) by saying “__________ where aaaaare you?, Oh no”, and helping me bake/cook (which basically means she unwraps stock cubes, pours measured things into bowls and attempts to stir things for me). The new activity I am loving the most is our interactive prayer time at night before bed. I pray and Ella either brings up names to pray for or copies the names and a word of what I am praying about for that person. Such precious times and memories!

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I get to wake up to this cuteness each morning!

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Fun in Oxford!

Scott and I and our Birmingham Navs group joined with a couple of other Midlands groups and had a fabulous weekend away two weekends ago. It was such a great time of connecting on a deeper level with several of our students. I am really excited about the relationships that are developing between me and several of the girls! It feels so great to finally have the capacity to be involved like I wanted to be back in the Autumn. Here’s to the rest of 2014!

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Exploring Oxford!

Growing and Changing!

I am so behind on posting updates and monthly pics of Ella! She is changing and growing so quickly and is becoming more and more fun all the time! Here are her 6 and 9 month photos and a few updates.

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At 6 months she sprouted her first tooth (lower central), followed by an almost 2 1/2 month period until her 2nd tooth emerged (lower central). Now at 9 months old she has two more teeth emerging, but not the ones that typically appear next! Rather than the upper centrals, the upper laterals (next ones over from centrals) have made their appearance! Her smile could start looking pretty goofy (albeit adorable) here soon!

One day in the past month, she decided it was time to sit up on her own, so she did it. Now we find her sitting playing with toys or intently watching one of her shows! Too cute!

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Almost two weeks ago, we had a glorious day of sunshine, so Scott, Ella and I went to Glasgow Botanical Gardens so Ella could experience the grass for the first time. She wasn’t sure what to make of it and made a number of funny faces and eventually just tried to eat leaves and sticks.

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Though Ella has been enjoying looking at herself in the mirror for many months now, we decided to put a mirror down at her level so she could see herself and entertain herself. Caught her gazing at her reflection a couple of days ago. 🙂

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Some of the newer things Ella can do these days:

  • Sit
  • Crawl
  • Pull herself up on a number of things
  • Clap her hands
  • Make the “Indian” noise with her own hands or with ours
  • Wave when we say “Hiya”
  • Raise her hands in the air when we say “Praise the Lord”
  • Feed herself finger foods

I love this wee munchkin!

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Baby Moustaches, Cuteness and Swinging

Lately we’ve been having fun with food at the Burns’ Flat. Pureed sweet potato, carrot, butternut squash, rice, oatmeal, avocado, prunes, broccoli, etc. So far the front runners seem to be sweet potato and prunes! Definitely taking after her mum’s taste buds (so far)…woohoo!

Happy prune face

Happy prune face

Who are you staring at? Bet you can't beat my green 'stache!

Serious ‘stache face

The past week or so, Glasgow has had a fair amount of sun! As there is no telling when the nice weather will disappear, we’ve been taking advantage of the dry, sunniness by bundling up and taking walks to the park.

Ella Marshmallow with Daddy

Smiles with Daddy

Ready for the outdoors

Time for a walk

Ella is a fan of swinging! This gives me a good excuse to swing more often (yussss!). I used to go to the kiddie park by myself to swing which sometimes resulted in funny looks from other adults with their kids. While I was pregnant with Ella, we (she and I) spent time swinging. Now she gets to swing on her own!

She's a pro already!

Fave pic of this past week! Love her smile and red nose. 🙂

Fun Facts: Ella Joy

I recently read a blog post by my friend Sarah Roundhill listing some “facts” about her daughter. I really enjoyed reading it, so I have decided to copy her idea! Here are a few fun Ella facts:

  • She is a super socialite…the ultimate people person (This is such a blessing since Scott and I love people and constantly have them around)! She intently studies most people for a couple minutes before bursting into a smile, but if you’re really lucky she’ll give you a huge smile from the start and chat you up!
  • She likes to do this cute wee smirk and also likes to suck on her own lips.

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  • Her favourite colour is red and she loves bold patterns with lines. If you let her choose what to wear, she’ll most often grab something red!
  • She is chattering away quite the thing at the moment and her favourite thing to say is “dada dada” or what sounds like “hi dad” or “hi dadadada!”
  • We call her our little “Personal Trainer.” Since about 3 months she has enjoyed lifting her head and legs while lying on her back (looks like she’s doing mini crunches) and when we lift her in the air over our heads, so holds herself straight as a board! Wish I had the core tummy muscles she appears to have!
  • She loves to roll about on the floor and now pivots using her legs.
  • This past Friday, she started scrunching her nose like a rabbit and sometimes breathes quickly through it at the same time…so cute!
  • Not only does she like to suck on her socks and toes, she loves to suck on Scott’s or my chin or cheek and has started to lick our faces too!

We sure love our wee miracle girl! We are beyond blessed by our God to be given the opportunity to raise her!

It’s all English

For some time now I’ve been thinking about posting a few of the basic British words and phrases I hear quite often in Scotland which differ from West Coast America. Here are some of the words I most frequently hear, use or have begun to use over the past two years:

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diaper – nappy

pacifier – dummy

stroller – pram

vacuum – hoover (Ex. I need to hoover (vacuum) the carpet with the hoover!)

sidewalk – pavement

block – street (ex. I live two streets (blocks) away)

little, tiny, small – wee

apartment – flat

roommate, housemate – flatmate

this and that – “bits and bobs” or “bits and pieces”

trunk – boot (car)

hood – bonnet (car)

windshield – windscreen (car)

side mirror – wing-mirror (car)

turn signal – indicator (car) (Ex. Use your indicator (turn signal) before turning left)

emergency brake – handbrake (car)

can (canned goods) – tin

paper towel – kitchen roll

toilet paper – toilet roll

stove top – hob

oven – cooker

shopping cart – shopping trolley

grocery shopping – shopping or shop (Ex. I need to do a food shop. OR I did the shopping.)

mail – post (Ex. I need to post a letter.)

package – parcel

ride – lift (Ex. You would ask someone to give you a “lift” somewhere, rather than a “ride.”)

Visa Bliss!

If you’ve ever wondered what a UK Settlement Visa looks like, you can now satisfy your curiosity! After many hours of compiling documents, the joy of studying for and passing the “Life in the UK” exam, and attending my one-day visa interview this past Thursday, January 17th, I was granted Permanent Residency or “Indefinite Leave to Remain” in the UK! I am so thankful I get to stay here with my husband and daughter! 🙂

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If you are an American and are wondering why I didn’t smile in this photo, it’s because smiling photos with or without teeth showing aren’t valid on official documents over here! This photo is at least better than the one on my license, which I was told by our flatmate Gillian looked as though it was taken while I was in jail. She said “I would be scared to mess with the woman in the license photo, but wouldn’t be scared of the woman in the Visa photo! Ha! Gotta love official documents. Praise God for his timely provision of this one!