Sunday, 27 November 2011

My sweet new ride and Thanksgiving in England

Hello friends,
An exciting week for us other than we were all under the weather for part of the week so we ended up taking it easy this weekend.  Now to rewind to mid week...

The high point of the week was picking up my sweet new ride, or "tight" new ride as my nephew Owen would say.  We picked it up Tuesday and were able to get insurance the same day as well.  Since we do not have any history here we had to contact our Brownsburg insurance carrier and have them email us a letter saying that Lori hasn't had a claim in 5 years which knocked two-thirds off of the insurance cost.  Unfortunately I can't say the same so the best part was Lori was going to be driving the Vaux.  Or so I thought.  Such was not the case however and we can both drive the car, it is just in Lori's name.  Surprisingly (not really) Lori claimed dibs on the Beamer so I get the 2005 Vauxhall Corsa 1400 cc.  Both cars are automatics and 5 door hatchbacks as you can see; it was not that easy finding an automatic in our price range, it is actually not that easy finding an automatic over here.  I did drive a manual Fiat Panda 1100 cc at the car dealer.  If you are not sure what those are picture a blue colored box sitting on a Radio Flyer wagon chassis powered by a riding lawn mower engine assembled using staples and duct tape.  That was the low cost option but for 500 pounds I went first class with the Vaux.

Obviously a little let down from a BMW (little let down from this car, HUGE let down from our first BMW) but it gets me there and is a little taller which is nice.  Plus the car is mildly embarrassing to the kids which only makes me like it more.

Lori's plain old basic BMW and my full of character Vauxhall.  "No Fair!" as Kalle would say.

The BMW emblem.

The Vauxhall emblem.

Hatchbacks are very common here.

View from Karl's balcony.

On Wednesday we had our parent teacher conference for Kalle.  It went well, Kalle is adjusting nicely and her school work was fine.  The strange part is that we do not get a status report on her grades and can not track them on a website like at home.  We get a report card at the end of the year and at midterm.  We are kind of going with the flow since we are in their country but that was very strange for Lori and I.  There is another American student in Kalle's class so I will talk to his mom and see if I am understanding the report card situation correctly here.  Basically the students are tested at the end of the year and have to pass that year's level to advance.  The teacher is not worried about Kalle's progress which is good, just a little strange not being able to see her grades through out the year.  I'll have to do some more bird dogging on this subject.   

We are still working with Karl's school to get him advanced in his math.  He is in the advanced class for his year and they are adding, subtracting and multiplying fractions.  He took Algebra last year (Pythagoras theorem, solving equations for/with variables, etc.) and was taking Geometry this year before we left.  He said none of the students in his class know anything about variables in equations yet.  His other subjects are fine and the school is working with us to keep him challenged in math.  Thankfully his personality is to push himself so I think he will be fine but the math over here is not up to Brownsburg's standards.  Lori and I are so thankful for our teachers at home, particularly Mrs. Smith, Mrs. McMullen, and their aides.  We didn't realize how lucky we were to have had them.  Thanks ladies, we REALLY appreciate your work now.

My provisional driving license came back this week.  It is my learner's permit which allows me to schedule my theory (written) test.  Once I pass my theory test I take my driving test then I can get my UK driving license.  My theory test is scheduled for December 10 so if it all works out I will take my driving test before we leave for the Christmas holiday.  I am trying to get this done ASAP because the driving instructor is supposed to watch certain habits such as not crossing either hand past 12 or 6 o'clock.  They also have a ridiculous rule that at all traffic control lights drivers have to shift their cars into neutral and apply the parking brake.  I am starting to miss the freedoms we have as Americans, this experience will certainly make me appreciate those freedoms more when we return.  I have been taking my driving lessons during the week but with Lori working she has been taking her lessons on Saturday morning.  Kind of restricts our Saturdays on lesson days but we shouldn't be a big deal for December since outdoor activities are limited now.

Thanksgiving was very weird this year.  Obviously it is not celebrated here so when Thursday came it didn't even feel like a holiday.  I think this was only the second year I didn't celebrate with family.  The first year (Jeff will correct me if I am mistaken) was when he and I lived in Denver and one year we ended up going to Bobby the Pro's family celebration (hope all is well Erin and Bob - say hi to your families from Lori and I).  So this year Ed and Becky Lheureau hosted the Rolls ex-pats Saturday for Thanksgiving dinner.  The Frey's attended also (you can check out his blog at and we met the Anderson's and Holloway's.  The food was great (forgot the camera Dana, sorry <head hanging in shame>).  We had turkey, stuffing, gravy, roast potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, mac & cheese, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bar, peanut butter cookies, and dinner rolls.  All washed down with wine, beer, Coke, coffee, juice, water... definitely one of the best meals we have had in our short time over here.  My personal favorites were the stuffing and gravy, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin bar.  We had a fun time meeting the other couples and discussing the vacation destinations and comparing our American - British differences experiences.  Some of the other couples also play Euchre so maybe we will be able to put together a couple of Euchre games in the near future.  Becky introduced us to an English Christmas tradition - English Crackers.  A website selling them and providing a little history is for those interested in learning more about them.  For those not interested in checking out the website they are decorative party favors which look like three tubes of decorated cardboard connected by a couple of wires.  You grab the two outer tubes and pull apart which breaks the middle tube.  The middle tube has a party favor and a "cracker snap" inside it, the "cracker snap" makes a small bang when pulled apart.  Some of the favors included paper crowns, tiny airplanes, mini brain teaser rings, and mini bowling ball and pins game.  A neat tradition I was not aware of so thanks Becky.  Thanks also to Ed and Becky for hosting, it was a lot of fun. 

On Sunday we went to Woodlands Evangelical Church, the closest Lutheran church to us.  You can check out there website at  It was interesting, Lori and Karl didn't really like it while Kalle wants to go back.  I was noncommittal so I would like to go back a few times and see which side of the fence I end up on.  The church had about 150 people there today and we sang a lot of songs, six I think.  They had a band accompaniment - two singers, a piano, a trumpet, a flute, and a dusty drum set.  Not sure if the drummer was absent or if that is just for special occasions.  Anyway, we started out with the normal church announcements followed by a lesson for the kids followed by the kids leaving for their lesson downstairs.  We sang some more, and more, and more, had the sermon, and sang some more.  No communion or offering.  We met a couple of Rolls people after the service and had a nice time but the jury is out on that church's verdict.  Not sure what we'll do if we don't attend that church, maybe check out a Church of England church or the closer than close Methodist church.  Speaking of churches, the kids will have a treat Wednesday.  Karl has an Inset day (teacher in service in US) and Kalle should be home because all of the schools are striking on that day to protest pay or pensions or something.  So the kids and I may go to a Church of England Wednesday morning service.  They are quite excited.  As for the strike - apparently all government employees belonging to certain unions are striking that day in protest.  But they are going back to work Thursday so I guess everything will be okay.  We shall see. 

We did a little Christmas shopping on Friday and Sunday, hope you like your English coal Owen and Lena.

I wasn't missing American football until I Face Timed Jeff last week.  It about Packer-Bucs kickoff time so he graciously stood by the tele and switched his iPhone camera so I could watch the kickoff.  Then he tried sitting down away from the tele.  Seriously?  So we chatted whilst I watched the game on my iPhone which was great.  Thanks again Fat Boy.

And finally, my "Dan Stine complaint of the week" feature shall forthright be named the "Dan Stine extreme self restraint in the face of surmounting adversity moment of the week".  You're welcome Dan, and I feel your pain.  You're still wonderful tho Christy.  I think renaming that feature will be my moment this week.   

Thanks for listening,


  1. Jay,

    You should pimp your ride with some spinners and neaon ground effects.


  2. neon, sorry for the typo.

  3. Nice wheels! Glad you found something suitable. I like how you turned your 1-car driveway into a 2-car by parking on the sidewalk.