Oxford: On Settling In, Fast Showers, Museums, and Babies

Thank you for all of the congrats on baby #2 – we’re so happy that the pregnancy is going smoothly thus far and everyone seems healthy.  And, naturally, I’m thrilled that this little one will also be able to be born in New Zealand.  It’s a great place!

I’m 14 weeks today and I’m beginning to re-think my stance on not being so tired this time around.  Joe has started waking at 6am and has gone from taking a 2 hour afternoon nap to a 45 minute afternoon nap.  I felt like pulling my hair out this afternoon – so tired!  And as far as pregnancy cravings go, there is only one thing that I crave: caffeine.  I see people walk by me in the street with takeaway coffee cups and I stare at them longingly (the cups, not the people!) before moving on down the road.

But this post isn’t all about the pregnancy.  Life in the UK is going well, but there continue to be some road-bumps.  The hot water in our shower still won’t last long enough for me to do more than 2 things out of 5 (wash face, shampoo hair, condition hair, wash self, shave).  I’ve started washing my face pre-shower, doing a super-fast shampoo and condition.  While the conditioner rinses, I wash all over and then usually shave with the water turned off and then flip it back on for a brief (and freezing) rinse.  Short of putting in a new water heater, I don’t see how they’ll fix the issue.  The plumber has been 3 times (twice for the water heater, once for a leak) and all 3 times, he said that he’d increased the water temperature.  He didn’t seem to understand that the issue isn’t with having hot water, it’s with having enough hot water.  I actually timed it last night: 3 minutes, then freezing.  It’s not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things – I’m in England, after all, and I’m getting to experience so many new and interesting things – so that’s the last I’ll say about it on this blog.  Zip – I’m done!

Hmmm, though there is one little thing that I’d like to show you.  This is what greeted me when I opened the bedroom curtains yesterday morning…

Gross!  I promise, it wasn’t there one day and then was everywhere the next.  I took photos so that I could show the landlords before scrubbing it to death using antibacterial spray with a soap + hot water chaser.  The windows get a lot of condensation and we’ve been keeping the curtains open from morning till just before bed, but apparently that’s not enough.  I may start turning my bedside fan on the windows and see if that helps.

Joe is growing by leaps and bounds.  He’s gotten so big and is becoming more independent every day.  His development deserves a post in and of itself.  Here’s a few photos of him from our trip to the Oxford Museum of Natural History.

The museum was very child-friendly with touchable displays and drawers that were designed to be opened, but the ground floor was definitely full-on.  The above photos are from the upper gallery, which was less crowded and therefore easier for me to photograph without worrying about Joe pulling something on his head.  Here’s a photo looking down onto the ground floor to give you an idea of how packed it was with displays…

I’m glad that we went, but I would have liked to had more time to explore.  Joe had been cooped up in his stroller so I decided to let him walk, which turned into running almost as soon as his feet hit the floor.  I didn’t have the heart to strap him in just so I could read the fine print underneath fossil displays.

We’ve found plenty of entertaining things to do with children while in Oxford, though it took some research and plain old word of mouth.  One of the secretaries in Chris’ department passed along info about the Rainbow House (which I keep referring to as the Rainbow Room!).  It’s run by the Wesleyan church and is basically a giant rectangular room with tables, chairs, and highchairs on one side, two more tables placed lengthwise along the other side of the room, a place for parking prams on one end, a blocked off stage on the other end, and nothing but toys in the middle of it all.  It’s open from 10:30a to 2p (or is it 2:30p?) on Weds – Fri and has a small cafe that’s staffed by volunteers.  There’s a menu with child-friendly meals, snacks, sippy cups, etc., and things for adults, too.  It’s a great place to get out of the rain and cold, socialize, and let your children run around.  It’s for children 0 – 5 years old and has a climbing frame, slide, ride-on toys, a baby area, etc.

I’m not a very outgoing person and it actually takes an effort for me to work up the nerve to go into places like the Rainbow House, where I’m new and don’t know anyone.  The introvert in me would rather stay at home, but my toddler needs activity!  Joe has pushed me to expand my boundaries time and time again, and this was just another instance of that.  I had to get over my shyness and walk on in, and I’m glad that I did.  And did I mention that it’s free?  You have to pay for your food, but if you want to bring your own drinks and snacks and just use the toys, then you’re welcome to do just that.

We’ve also found that the local library has a good rhyming/singing session twice a week.  Joe loves to sing.  If he’s grumpy or frustrated, all I have to do is start singing and he’ll begin to wave his hands and sing along with me.  I’m glad that the library is so close and that we’re able to take advantage of this.

There are plenty of playgrounds nearby.  Joe has gotten brave with the playground equipment and will now climb up the stairs, through the tunnel, and go down the slide at the other end.  I had to partially demonstrate it for him once, and after that, he was off.  He loves to slide!

I’ve gotten into somewhat of a routine here.  Finally!  It took awhile to get settled, then we visited Scotland, and then we were enjoying visits from family.  All of that put any sort of meal-planning or regular grocery shopping on the back burner, and I found myself going to the store almost every day just to pick up the essentials for that day’s meal.  It was getting to be ridiculous, especially because of having to carry Joe, the stroller, the nappy bag, and the groceries up and down 4 flights of stairs for our apartment building.  I finally got organized, made a meal plan, and did some online grocery shopping (oh, how I love online grocery shopping with delivery!).  I couldn’t do a very large order because of the size of our fridge/freezer, but it was enough to stop the daily grocery trips.

I realize that this post is random and full of all sorts of stuff, but that’s how life has been these days.  And now, abrupt as it is, I’m signing off.  Good night!

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3 thoughts on “Oxford: On Settling In, Fast Showers, Museums, and Babies

  1. Our windows got like that too. Its just damp in the UK and if you have a well-sealed apartment, that just happens. Check your closet too! We had mold all over the back of our closet. We had to start leaving the doors open most of the time. (We did have a closet and not a wardrobe at our first place. Never had any trouble with our second place with mold but the windows were old and leaky, so that might be why.)

  2. That Rainbow Room place sounds great, bet Joe has so much fun there 🙂 glad that you’re keeping well and enjoying Oxford. I briefly went into that museum too (when i was on a walking tour) but only the ground floor which was very cramped but was cool to see the dinosaur exhibit 🙂 will have to go back there sometime.

    Speaking of museums, hope you went to the British Museum while you were in London – it’s one of the best museums I’ve been to so far (Te Papa is my 2nd fave) even though I only spent 2 hours there – all of which was spent in the Egyptian section!

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