Sunday, 29 June 2008

Exhausted

Whew.... what a crazy few days we've had.

Since Wednesday we've been MATE-a-holics and have been busy busy busy. Wednesday night was the judges dinner where we went to the Scripps center and ate with all the lovely judges and got geared up for the competition that would follow in the next few days. We had plenty of food, and yummy desserts (I had the oreo cake that was TO DIE for). It was nice to spend some time with the crew and visit with everyone we hadn't seen in a year (or two). Thursday morning we got up bright and early and made our way over to the pool to start the competition. Nic was sent to judge the Engineering Evaluations (each team had to present their vehicle in front of three judges and answer any questions they threw at them). I was stationed at MATE central aka the AV area were I did a variety of things. Scott and I were announcing everything, updating the website with a live feed of Mission scores, and organizing and entering in all the scores (mission, engineering evaluations, technical reports and posters), plus answering questions, playing music, and keeping tabs on where everyone was supposed to be. We had 72 teams participating this year, from 7 different countries... it was a pretty crazy time and everyone had a blast. The teams did great and I was so very impressed with everyone that came! There were some teams that were really innovative, but what really got to me was how helpful they all were towards each other. I can't tell you how many times something went wrong with a team and another team jumped in to help them out. They were loaning each other monitors, power supplies, cables, and technical support without flinching. It was so great to see everyone working together and just having a great time.

We also got to know a few people pretty well, as Thursday night we went out with a crew of judges to a pizza/brewery that was pretty fun. We had a great time and probably stayed out later than we should have. Friday and Saturday were very busy, especially Saturday for Scott and I (as all scores had to be in before the banquet that night). I haven't worked that hard in a while but I must say it was quite a welcome experience for me. I've been so bored these past 8 months that it was really nice to be busy again. We worked everything out and got everything organized by about 4:15 in time for us to go back to the hotel, take a thirty minute nap, and then get ready for the banquet that night. Everyone was fantastic at the banquet and they even thanked me for my work specifically, which was really nice. I didn't expect any acknowledgment, I was just there to help, but it was definitely nice to be recognized by Jill (she organizes and leads the competition). Everyone asked if we'd be sure to come back next year, Scott even said if I don't come back next year he won't be there. It was definitely an ego boost and it made me feel really good to feel needed again.

Anyway, I'll post pictures as soon as Scott gets the website up again (we took it down to put up everyone's final scores since we wanted it to be a surprise who actually won the competition at the banquet). I'd give them a few days to relax a bit before it's up so it might be a few days. We took our camera but didn't have ANY time whatsoever to snap pictures.

Anyway... now that the competition is over (for this year) we are relaxing today and we are waiting for Clete to get here. We are going to hang out with him today which should be a lot of fun. I'll update again soon, maybe when I have a little more of my energy back. I'm worn out.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Too many options!

Nic and I spent quite a bit of time today trying to decide what we were going to do today. It seems we spend more time deliberating than we do in the car actually getting to wherever we are going. There are so many things that we'd like to do and it seems we are having some scheduling issues. Today we woke up quite early (about 4:15) and waited around the hotel for things to open. We then went to get donuts (we really wanted kolaches but couldn't find them) and then walked around the outdoor shopping center down the street. Nothing was open yet (it didn't open until 11 since it's Sunday) so we just window shopped. After that we headed over to the museum district in San Diego at Balboa Park. We walked around there for a few hours and enjoyed looking at the gardens. We saw some squirrels that were out and about picking up nuts and decided to help them out a little. They were pretty tame (I guess you'd have to be with all the people walking around all the time) and were really cute. We also saw some lizards that looked like miniature alligators. They have an organ pavilion that you can hear from a distance, so we sat by the Japanese Friendship Gardens and listened to the organs play for a little while. We had a good time. We were going to go to the Air and Space museum but then changed our minds as they were charging $25 per person because there was a new Star Trek exhibit. No thanks.

We picked up a bunch of pamphlets on things that we can do here and since then have been debating what we'll do while we are here. There are quite a few kayak tours that we can take which sound pretty fun, both of us really enjoy kayaking and wouldn't mind that. Nic is interested in renting a jet ski for a few hours to play around in the ocean. We went ahead and picked up information on the Birch Aquarium too, since we'll get to tour that with MATE. I'm excited to do that, it looks like fun. What we really want to do and are REALLY considering is going sky diving. They have a lot of quality sky diving schools here and Nic and I have always wanted to sky dive. We think that is something we won't do once we have kids so if we are going to do it, now is the time. We'd do a tandem jump from 13,000 feet... we both are really thinking about it. We are going to see how tomorrow goes (tomorrow is our trip to the Embassy) first.

We have not only been planning what we are going to do each day when we aren't busy but what we are going to eat. We've missed certain American foods, and are planning on eating what we can while we are here. We've already had donuts (this morning), and Papa John's (dinner tonight). We had Mexican food last night and have a few restaurants in mind for the upcoming few days. I'm really looking forward to eating my bbq chicken salad from CPK. I got really used to eating at the California Pizza Kitchen with the kids I used to watch at work and can't wait to go. Nic wants to have an American steak (the beef is quite different in Scotland- so I'm told).

Anyway, we are going to go back to the shopping center that wasn't open this morning to look around some more and maybe to to the beach. We are looking forward to watching the sunset tonight. We are also going to run to Target to pick up a few things (oh, how I've missed Target).

Heat and Headaches

I don't know if it's due to the change in temperatures (going from about 55 to 90 in a day) or if it's allergies or what, but I had a killer headache today. Nic and I are doing pretty well so far in keeping San Diego time (it's an eight hour difference from home), but we are both starting to really appreciate Scotland for several reasons. One, we like the cold weather better than the heat- that's for sure. Two, we miss our beautiful scenery. Although San Diego is pretty in it's own way, Scotland is just so much prettier. I miss the green (everything is brown here, probably due to lack of rain) and the hills and the historical buildings. You just don't get that here. Three, we miss our cinema passes (we paid $10 bucks a piece today to see Mongol which was really good). There are other reasons we miss home, but that's all I can think of to list right now. I think the Excedrin is kicking in which is great. Nic was starting to get a sympathy headache himself, I hope his goes away and doesn't get as bad. I am looking forward to really exploring San Diego tomorrow so I want us both to be refreshed.

We got our biometric scans done today- very quickly I might add. It only took like 10 minutes for both of us and the lady was really nice. She'd been working there for 10 years but she was really quick to adapt to the new procedures (the biometric scan only became a requirement in April of this year).

Anyway- I am about ready to go to bed, Nic woke me up at like 5:30 this morning and it's 10. I'll update again some time (we only ordered the internet for a day because it's $10 per day and we're cheap. Yes, it's only 5 pounds, but neither of us are willing to pay $100 for internet for the week. That's just silly.)

Friday, 20 June 2008

And We're Off!

We are about to leave for the airport (in about 15 minutes), but we decided that it might be a good idea to download the content map of the USA onto our Tom Tom before we left. We didn't think of that idea until about 6:30 this morning and it's still downloading as I type. It's quite a time consuming process really (considering that Nic decided to move the current UK maps, the Ireland map and the US map all onto one Sim card. I'll be happy when it's done, I'm ready to get on our way. I think we'll be ok on time, it's only 7:13 and our flight doesn't leave until 9:20. It takes us about 15 minutes to get to the airport (including parking), so I figure as long as we leave by 8 we should be perfect. The airport here is so tiny (think Houston Hobby or Amarillo) that you don't really have to to do the hour before bit if you can't.

I think I have everything that we need packed, I've made a list and checked it twice. Nic has even run to the office this morning (to pick up some more of his business cards and his jump drive).

Anyway- we are ready to go, so we're going to get going so that we have time to grab a quick bite to eat at the airport.

I love you all and will update as soon as I can!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Plans are for changing.

Ok, so there have been a few slight adjustments made to our plans for this week. Nic left yesterday for Norway (instead of going today and coming back today) so that he could spend some time with the programmers. He still flies back tonight though, which is a good thing. He should land about 8:35 or so and I'll go pick him (and Bob) up at the airport. Tomorrow is trash day here, so I'm trying to get everything clean and in order so that nothing that could potentially be stinky will be left in my house while we are away. Then Thursday I'll pack and get everything ready to go for our journey. I have to admit, I'm not looking forward to the weather. I've become quite accustomed to it being 60 degrees every day. I think I'm going to melt. What's going to be tricky is that the pool for MATE is going to be outdoors this year (with very little sun protection) so I'm really quite worried about getting sunburned. Bob told us a trick that he used when he was doing the IronMan competitions and I think that I'll definitely see if that works. He would take a shower the night before the competition and then immediately lather himself up very liberally with sun screen. That way it would completely soak into the skin. Then the next morning he wouldn't do anything (definitely not shower because it would wash it all away). He said that worked really well and he didn't ever burn when everyone else did because they didn't allow the sunscreen to soak into their skin before getting in the water or sweating. I'll let you know if it works. Anyway- I thought I'd let you guys know our flight stuff so here goes:

Friday, the 20th:
KL 1442 from Aberdeen to Amsterdam- 9:20 am to 12:00 pm
KL 6045 from Amsterdam to Minneapolis- 1:25 pm to 3:20 pm
KL 6185 from Minneapolis to San Diego- 5:25 pm to 7:08 pm
(that's not too bad seeing as it's only 18 hours of travel time, but the layovers are a bit tight)

Tuesday, the 1st to Wednesday,the 2nd:
KL 6186 from San Diego to Minneapolis- 8:45 am to 2:46 pm
KL 6042 from Minneapolis to Amsterdam- 3:15 pm to 7:30 am
KL 1441 from Amsterdam to Aberdeen- 8:10 am to 8:40 am
(I didn't book the flights, a travel agent did (see previous post), I'm not that stupid as to only allow 30 minutes between a flight... I doubt we'll make that one to be honest. Also- note that there are some time changes there, the flight from Amsterdam to Aberdeen isn't really 30 minutes. The total travel time here is 16 hours)

Saturday the 21st, we'll be getting our biometric scans done. Sunday the 22nd, we'll just be enjoying San Diego. Monday the 23rd and Tuesday the 24th we'll be in Los Angeles at the Embassy. Wednesday the 25th we might be at the Embassy some more, but then Wednesday night we'll be at the opening ceremony for MATE. Thursday the 26th and Friday the 27th we'll be judging the MATE competition. Saturday the 28th we'll be attending the closing of MATE and the awards ceremony. Sunday the 29th we'll probably hang out with Cletis. Monday the 30th we'll be back at the Embassy if we need to be. That would be our last chance to wrap things up. It's going to be a pretty action packed week.

When the flights were changed the travel agent forgot to change the hotel too, so as of right now we only have hotel rooms for the 24th through the 29th. Hopefully that will all get worked out soon and we'll have a place to sleep the whole time. I'm trying to figure out what we should do on Sunday, the 22nd. I'd love to go to see the seals and sea lions, so maybe we'll go to the Children's Beach in La Jolla. Who knows. Maybe we'll check out the Fisherman's Wharf or go down town in San Diego. We'll just have to go exploring. We'll have a car the whole time, so it should be pretty easy to get around. We'll have most of the day on Saturday the 21st too, as the biometric scans are supposed to take less than 15 minutes each. I'm getting excited.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Things I've learned from my Fathers

Growing up, I always felt special for having two dads- I mean think of what that actually means. It means I got two birthday celebrations, two Christmas' (actually more than that when you tie in the extended families), and two men who loved me. Sure, there were times when I wished it wasn't that way and thought about what I was missing out on. I didn't get to spend the holidays with both of my parents at the same time and I was constantly being shuffled back and forth from house to house. Later on, it did cause some psychological issues, as I didn't have the regular father-daughter relationships that most children have with their fathers. I felt that my relationship with my Dad was lacking in closeness and support and I resented the fact that my father didn't really know ME for who I am. If he didn't know what my favorite tv show was or what my real goals and aspirations were, could he really love me as anything other than his child? I wanted him to love me for my personality and wit- not just because he had to.

When Dad was diagnosed with Lung Cancer it was very scary for me. I had already watched Mom fight through Breast Cancer and saw the toll that it took on her and my family. Somehow though, it didn't seem so bad because my Mom beat it, surely Dad could too. His attitude furthered that theory of mine, it's hard to think that anything bad could be happening when everything is a "piece of cake". I really thought he was going to pull through it and that everything would be back to normal- only better. When Dad was in the hospital (before they actually diagnosed him and when they still thought it was just pneumonia) I had a good conversation with him about what we needed from each other. I told him how I needed to know what was going on and that he couldn't shelter me forever. I was trying to be more angry (that he hadn't told me that he was in the hospital until they were about to discharge him) than scared (that it could possibly be something more than pneumonia) unsuccessfully. I will say that my Dad's cancer definitely changed our relationship for the better. We talked much more often (pretty much every other day) which I thought was weird at first, but then grew to love. I felt like that was what I was missing all along. I thought for a while that maybe his disease was a gift to us, a way to rekindle our relationship and learn to really need each other again. I never expected him to die. While I still see those last months with my father as a gift, I also can't help but feel burned. It's almost as if I was shown what I could have had all along and then punished for not always feeling that way. I can't help but still feel very strongly about the loss of my father, and I'm sure I will feel this way for much longer- when we have kids especially. As much as I'd like to move on and say I feel fine again, it's days like today that I can't even pretend that I'm not still hurt by it.

However- this was supposed to be a happy post full of fond memories (of both of my fathers) and happy thoughts. I woke up this morning and thought of a long list of things that I have learned from my Father(s) and how that has changed me forever. Here are just a few of the things that I've learned:

-How to throw a ball in an un-girly fashion
-Being quiet is sometimes better than blabbing constantly
-Hard work always pays off
-People appreciate honesty
-Men are really good at getting out tangles without pulling hair
-Sometimes the garage is more relaxing/peaceful than the comfy sofa
-Singing in the car is something that should be done, even if people are watching
-Chicken and Dumplings and French Fries are soothing to the soul
-Sometimes Pizza does require a fork
-Advice should be given when asked (not whenever you feel like giving it)
-What to look for in a spouse (it's odd how much Nic is like my Papa)
-Sometimes you have to do things that other people want, even though it's not in your best interests (e.g. shave your beard, then hear everyone scream "grow it back!" because you don't look the same)
-Moving to a new place far from all your extended family isn't as scary if you have your immediate family with you
-Sometimes you don't have to say anything to get your point across, sometimes a look will do the trick
-Brownies are the best dessert (well... peach cobbler is pretty good too)
-Happy meals really do make people happy
-Staying up late to watch T.V. together is a pretty good bonding activity
-Gin Rummy is an awesome card game
-Father-Daughter square dances are never to be forgotten
-You don't have to be related by blood to be a really awesome parent

I've been pretty lucky to have two father figures in my life.

I would like to say a couple things to Papa- I love you so very much for everything you have done for me. You have always been there when I needed you (and when I thought I didn't). You have taught me so much about myself that I can't tell you how much I really appreciate you. You have sacrificed so much to give us a better life and have been exactly what I needed. I don't know where I'd be without you and I credit so many of my successes to you and the lessons you have given me.

To all the Father's out there- Papa, Tony, Joey... Happy Father's Day! I love you all and hope you have a very relaxing and enjoyable day.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Frustration...

These past few weeks have been pretty frustrating for me and sometimes it seems that it isn't going to ease up anytime soon. I'm hoping it does, just for my own peace of mind.

We still do not have our travel arrangements yet- if it were up to me we would have had them weeks (if not a month) ago. However, the office is taking care of them and letting a travel agency book everything (flights, rental car, hotel, etc). This should be a good thing because it would be one less thing for me to do, but it isn't. I think I have worried more about letting someone else handle it than I would have if I was the one booking them. PLUS, the lady that was working on our arrangements has been "let go". Not a good sign. When they fire the person that was working on your plans and it gets shifted to someone else, who knows what travel arrangements you'll end up with. I'm trying to be calm about it but Nic would be the first person to tell you that I've not been very successful- I call him at least 3 times a day asking if he has received the itinerary yet.

On another note, Nic received the technical reports that he'll be going over and scoring for the MATE competition and I've been looking over them. It has made me quite excited to see what will happen and see who will win this year. There are a few that have become my favorites and a few that I'll be surprised if they work. I think actually reading the reports has been a good experience for me, as now I understand a little bit better what actually went on in the building process for these kids and how clever some of the vehicles are (or aren't). Nic hasn't read them yet (he's been busy with work) but I'm excited for him to read them so that we can discuss (and maybe place bets?!) on who we think will do well. I'm getting excited about being a part of the competition again this year and I'm ready to be blown away. Nic is excited too, but he's just excited that he'll get to spend some more time with Robert Keith (a guy he used to work with at Oceaneering, that has now moved on to Phoenix). They'll be judging together this year.

Our old leasing agency has been giving us hell about the old house we were in (Rose Cottage) which has been a pain. They have been coming up with little teeny tiny things that they think will help them keep part of our deposit (when I know they aren't true) like that there are fingerprints on the glass (perhaps that's from people they've shown the house to, seeing as how I washed them inside and out before we moved and before they did the re-check). It's really irritating and Nic and I have been dealing with them pretty much all week. I haven't heard from them yet today, maybe that is a good sign. Then again, it's only 9:54.

Bob came back into town Tuesday and he came over last night, which was nice. We went to go see the Hulk (it was good) and then came back to the house and I made BLT's. We got caught up on the goings on and worked on figuring out the plans for the next few weeks. Paige (his oldest daughter) just graduated from high school and was 13th in her class (out of like four hundred something). She was really disappointed because they only recognize the top 12 during graduation. I think it's an awesome accomplishment either way and am excited for her anyway. She did get the most scholarship money out of anyone in her class though, and that's what really counts.

I'm super excited for Raime and Joey- they are moving into a bigger house next month. I am so happy for them. I have been so proud of Joey and how great he's doing in school. I knew that he would do well, but he's exceeded my expectations by far. He has a 4.0 and is going to do a work study where he will be tutoring kids in math. I think that is so awesome and I really admire him for being able to juggle two full time jobs, while going to school, and maintaining a good family life at home. I also admire Raime for keeping the house in order while he's so busy. I forgot to mail Raisa her rock from Loch Ness and I need to get on that ASAP!

Let's see... what else has been going on here... The weather has been cold lately and the wind has been crazy. I'm hoping that it settles down soon and gets back to the beautiful weather we were having before. It hasn't really been raining during the day (which is REALLY long here since we are so far north) which has made it a little nicer. It doesn't get dark here until about 11:45 pm and the sun is back up and shining at about 3 am. It makes things interesting- you really have to watch the clock or it will be midnight before you know it. I'll take a picture one night so that you can see just how bright it is when we are going to bed. Thank goodness for blackout curtains in our room.

Monday, 9 June 2008

The Plan

Over the past week or so I've been a busy bee trying to get everything organized so that we can go get our visas and be done with the move here. It's been a long eight months and I'm ready to put it all behind us, that's for sure. I am dying to get to work, I can't tell you how frustrating it has been and how many pep talks I have given myself to be patient. Now that it is all within reach though, I find it even more difficult to contain myself. For those of you who know me really well, you know that I am a constant planner. I keep everything as up to date as I can and I like to know what is going on at all times. I have been driving myself crazy trying to get everything in order and figure out when everything was going to fall into place. I've become a little better (I'd like to think) about letting things happen and being more spontaneous (notice the UK spelling there, lol).

Anyway- We have finally set the date to go get our biometric scans done (fingerprints and facial scan) and submit our visa applications. We were planning on going to Washington D.C. or New York to do this (there are British Embassies that can give visas there), but we found out that we have to go to the British Embassy in Los Angeles for our visas, since that branch is the one that covers Texas. We are going to do everything while we are in California for MATE (the rov competition that Nic is judging).

Here's our tentative schedule (I've learned that any schedule that I make is tentative...something is always changing) for this month:
June 2- Stavros starts working for Fugro
June 3- Raisa's 8th birthday and Cris and Tony's 30th wedding anniversary.
June 9- Kristy's birthday and the day we finally get my name on the bank account.
June 12- Bob should return to Aberdeen
June 15- Father's Day
June 17- Nic goes to IMCA (in Norway) for work
June 20- We leave for California
June 21- We get our biometric scans done (Nic at 12, Me at 1)
June 23 & 24-We go to the Embassy in Los Angeles and submit all visa paperwork
June 25-29- MATE competition
June 29-30- We fly back home

Nic is working on our flight information today at work, hopefully that will be done soon and I'll know more about what's going on. We'll be staying at the La Jolla Marriott while we are in San Diego, I'm not sure where we'll be when we are in Los Angeles. It should be a fun trip, albeit busy.

Other than planning, I'm not doing a whole lot lately. I've been reading (Love Letters of Great Men and Women: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day) and playing Grand Theft Auto IV (I'm still not caught up to where Nic and Jonathan were, haha) pretty much. This weekend Stavros and Fiona came over and we had sour cream chicken enchiladas (they were o.k., I put in too much sour cream though so they weren't as good as Mom's) and watched Alvin and the Chipmunks. It was actually pretty cute. Sunday we were going to go out with some friends but the plans fell through and we postponed it until tonight (I think). Today we go to the bank again (I now have a bill in my name- I think this is the first time I was glad to see a council tax bill). Hopefully nothing else will go wrong and I can actually be added to the account.

I think that's about all the news I have. I hope everyone is having a good day (or will have a good day, seeing as most of you aren't even up yet!). I love you all!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

What a waste of time...

Nic and I went to the bank again for like the 5th time to try to get me added to the account. We figured that since I was on the lease for the house this time we could use that for address verification purposes. So, I got dressed up and felt pretty confident this time when we went about going to the bank. We got there and did a few things (we made a deposit, changed the address to the new house) and then asked that I be added to the account. She asked for proof of identity (passport-check), proof of our relationship (marriage certificate-check), and address verification (lease agreement-check?!). We then were told that the lease agreement was not valid enough proof that I too lived here. What? My name is on there, right beside his... how is that not proof? They said that I HAD to have a bill in my name before they could add me. We were told that a lease agreement would work, and I do believe that is how we opened the account for Nic in the first place. It's really frustrating for me, especially since I don't have a debit card for the account here and I am the one who pays the bills. So, I came home today a little sad about it, and paid the BT bill and the electric bill for the other house using Nic's Maestro card that he so graciously left behind for me. Oh well, what can you do? I have to call the people for the council tax in Aberdeen (since we were using the other one that is for Westhill I guess) and see if I can get added to that so that they'll send me a bill. Who knew I'd actually want a bill in my name. Good grief.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Talk About Expensive!

So while I was dropping off the keys to the old house to the estate agents, I had to get some petrol because I only had five gallons left in the tank. I drove by 4 gas stations on my way, one of them was 1.21, two were 1.17 and one was 1.15 (mind you this is the price per LITRE). I went ahead and pulled in to the one that was 1.15 just flabbergasted and afraid of missing my chance at the cheapest gas. As I sat there watching the dials go up and up and up I did some calculations in my head. There are 4.55 litres in an imperial gallon (the gallons are different than in the States). That means that I was paying 5.23 per gallon I pumped. If you convert that into dollars that is a whopping $10.20 per gallon. (as of right now there is $1.95 per pound). So I don't want to hear a word about expensive gas in the states. Seriously. You guys keep complaining about gas that's almost four dollars when I'm paying over ten. SHHHHH.

I had a little freak out session in the car but then I had to find something to make myself get over it. I looked around at the beautiful scenery and thought about how great it is that we moved into a house closer to work! Thank God for that! When we first got here petrol was just 89 pence per litre. While that is still expensive ($7.90 per gallon) it was something we could deal with. I think we've decided against the Jeep in order to buy something a little easier on the wallet at the pump.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Our House

I figured I'd post a few pictures of the house with our stuff in it since I haven't done that yet. Here's the living room (I would post pictures of the dining area too, but Nic has the table covered in computer parts from when he decided he was going to take apart and rebuild our laptop... When it's cleaned up I'll post that side of the room).

This is my new reading room! Yay for that, I'm still working on rebuilding my library (I left all my books in the states, they are in storage). I want to get a little table to put in the middle, but this is it for now. There is a wardrobe on the other side of the settee. All the furniture in the room was free!
Here's the guest bedroom. The bed is actually pretty cool, it's one of the beds that rise so that you can have your feet and/or back elevated and it also vibrates and stuff. Fun stuff. This is also a free room. I love my neighbors.
These are my beautiful lilies that I have in my front yard. There are so many open right now that it just takes my breath away. They are my favorite flowers and make me happy whenever I look at them.
This is a picture of my back garden. We planted a whole bunch of new stuff, but I'm going to wait to take another picture of them when they are a little bigger and are flowering completely.

I haven't posted as much as I usually do because we've had company for the past three and a half weeks. Karin (Nic's sister) and Jonathan (brother-in-law) got here on the 10th of May and stayed until the 26th. Tony and Cris (Nic's parents) came on the 16th. Tony left with Karin and Jonathan and Cris left yesterday (the 1st of June). We had a good time while they were here, seeing some sights and working on the yard. We went to a few castles, downtown, to Inverness and just driving around. We saw a few movies (Indiana Jones was a big let down, Sex and the City was good). We played a lot of games with Bob, Mike, Stavros and Fiona (and occasionally Cameron and Lisa), and played a LOT of Grand Theft Auto IV. We found our new favorite Indian restaurant (it's really really good), and ate dinner at the Lindsmohr too. Tony and Cris got to know our neighbors pretty well too. We had some really good tres leches cake that Cris made and some good flan too. It was a pretty busy time, it is definitely different to have the house still and quiet again.

I've cleaned house this morning and got things organized again. Nic is supposed to bring Stavros (it's his first day at Fugro) and Cameron home for lunch today, I'll have to start making that soon. I moved all my books up into my reading room and had a little break to read a bit which was really nice. I'm going to enjoy having a quiet space to read and enjoy a good book.

We are in the process of trying to find out where we are supposed to be going to get our visas, hopefully Nic will have more information today, it's driving me crazy to not know what is going on. I wish I was working already, I would be able to find out everything on my own. I guess I'll just have to continue to be patient and wait for them to get their act together. I think that because it's supposed to happen soon I am a little more antsy than I was before.

I've received a lot of good news over the past few days. Kat and Clint are getting married, they are still deciding on a date but it is going to be sometime next summer. I'm happy for them and am excited to see how their wedding planning progresses. They are such a great couple and I know they'll be happy for quite some time. Nic has another guy that is going to be moved into his department too, which is exciting. His name is Paul and I'm sure Nic will find something for him to do. Now he'll have three people in his department (Cameron, Stavros and Paul). I'm so proud of him and it's amazing what he's acomplished already. Karin got her passport back (she lost it in Edinburgh but it was returned by a nice Australian couple) and is getting to do her student teaching in College Station (Bryan anyway) so she'll get to come home to her husband every night (instead of just on the weekends). My mom is done with school for the summer after today and Raisa was done on Friday. That's very exciting, I think Mom needed a break. LaShay is having a baby, I'm still waiting to hear when she's supposed to be due, but it's exciting for her none the less. I think that's about it. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but I'll remember later probably.

I'm going to go make lunch and get things ready for the boys to come home for lunch. I hope everyone is doing well.