Monday, December 20, 2010

The Christmas Choir @ Christ Church Cathedral

By Liv

Have you seen the movie "Harry Potter"? If you have, you would easily remember the dining hall scene in the movie - the scenes where wizardly students are adorned in long robes and surrounded by magical candlelight and spells. Well, the place where these dining scenes were filmed was at Christ Church College - where I went to watch the all-boy Christmas Choir. Christ Church was built by Henry VII in 1546. Talk about history...

Because of the flash snow storm, many people weren't able to use their tickets to see the Christmas Choir at Christ Church Cathedral - which happens to be one of the best Holiday events in all of Oxford. I joined my two neighbors and good friends, Stephanie and Bess, in bundling up in every possible layer of warmth before making the trek (by foot!) to watch the choir.

The music was amazing. The boys were amazing. They stood in silence completely still and waited for the conductor to give them the sign to begin. Once they started to sing, I understood why this is one of the best Christmas events that Oxford has to offer. I'm so glad that we were able to go see this!

The Christ Church Cathedral Grounds. Normally, visitors are not
allowed on the grounds unless they are a member of the college.

Steph, Myself and Bess. Friends and neighbors!

We were seated in front of a the Sarcophagus of Sir Georgius Croyden from 1386.

Thanks to my Art degree, I was able to notice and appreciate the double barrel vaulted ceilings!

I was sneaky enough to capture one of the songs on video...

I'm sorry.

By Liv

Most people don't even know that we have a blog, but for those who do, I have been told that we aren't keeping up to date with it. I'm sorry! To be honest, I haven't even wanted to look at my blog because I know the last post I will see is about Pepe and the thought of him makes me so overwhelmingly sad... it brings me back to the day that he died and I miss him terribly all over again.

But, I have been taking many pictures of all the different events in our lives and I do really want to share them. So please excuse me if these photos aren't in a recognizable order, but until I'm back to speed with my photo sharing, this will have to do!

Stella and I are ridiculously happy to be home. Our trip back to the States was fun and it was so very nice to see our friends and family, but there's nothing better than when all three of us are together.

Oma and Papa gave Stella her very own guitar. Stella and Nick like to play their guitars together!

Stella and Nick play games before bed every night.

Stella has now officially moved to her own bedroom. To celebrate, we decorated it with a cute tree and flower wall decals. It's very "organic" looking with the main colors being brown and lime green. Here is a picture of her doing the sign for "tree' in front of her tree.

Stella is quite the little chatterbox lately. Her Pediatrician was
shocked at how many words she knows: both verbal and sign-language.

Thanks for the new shoes, Oma!

Of course, we spend a lot of time at the park. It's even more fun now that
we are home and we can all go as a family! Stella sure missed her Dadda.

Um... at least she didn't get her tongue frozen to it!

All bundled up for this cold weather.


Nick just finished his first exam week. It was TOUGH and not just for him. Imagine it... he was gone until midnight most nights, studying in the library. I'm so glad he has a 4-week break now.

On December 18th, Oxford was hit with over 12 inches of snow. This is the front of our house and Nick's bicycle, which (luckily) he doesn't need for a few weeks... We had snow as recently as today (December 20th), and we should be getting even more this week!

Observatory Street... Home sweet home!

The Radcliffe Observatory - behind our house.

Stella actually did not like the snow at all. She kept saying, "Up please!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's hard to say goodbye.

By Liv

Pepe was my puppy. He had many names: Pepe, Pepperoni, Pepperchini, Peplinksi, Petey-Pablo... just to name a few.

His short life was filled with happiness and love. He brought so much joy to our lives and always made other people laugh with his silly sideways walk and funny little personality.

I'm finding it hard to hold back the feelings of regret, sadness, anger and depression after his death. I really feel like I could have done something differently and none of this would have happened. I can't sleep and every time I close my eyes, I picture him. It's horrible.

My little baby dog. He was always so warm and fuzzy and happy to be around people. All I think about is that he is no longer warm. He is cold and wet and far away from his favorite thing in the world: people. I am so upset by this loss.

My Dad's partner, Sonja, kindly took Pepe back to their house and placed him in his final resting place within my Dad's garden. I wrote him a long letter and told him that I love him, miss him, and I am so very sorry that he is gone. I told him that I wish he knew how much happiness that he brought our family and that Stella keeps crying out his name and crawling towards the foot of the bed at night - looking for him. I placed the letter on the ground above him and gently pushed dirt over it.

When Stella and I arrived in Portland, she was beside herself with excitement when she saw him. Here are some videos that I took just a few days ago of them together. (If you are reading this on facebook, please follow this link to view the videos on my blog)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Goodbye Pepe. We will miss you.

Our little guy got into an accident last night and unfortunately he didn't survive. Livia is devastated. She tells me that Stella keeps saying Pepe's name and looking around for him which breaks my heart. Of course, I'm back in England so I'm unable to do much consoling from afar but I'm trying.

If you never had a chance to meet Pepe, I'm sorry. He was a great little guy that was full of personality. Pepe was a toy-sized Australian Shepard. We first met him up in Lopez Island, Washington when he was about three months old. He came home with us a few weeks later.

He packed alot of excitement into his short life. Pep was my co-pilot when we drove the cat and chickens from Utah to Washington. We climbed Mt. Olympus together. Pep loved to hop like a rabbit in the Utah snow. He even took a dip in the pool during the summer (with some encouragement). Livia made sure Pepe got his exercise. They made countless trips to the d o g p a r k (we couldn't say this word in front of Pepe without him going nuts). Once, Pepe jumped out of a kayak in the middle of a lake and Livia was in the water before I even realized what had happened. She always made sure Pepe was 'well fed' too. Livia was the best to him.

Most recently, Pepe had been pampered by my parents. Plenty of tennis ball time with my Dad. I think they had a bed for him in every room of their house. I know they loved him just as much as Liv and I did and I thank them for taking such good care of him.

We sure are going to miss asking Pep to howl for us. Thanks Pepe for being the perfect companion. We love you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Signing for applesauce.

By Liv

Stella showing off her "More" and "Please" signs - in addition to her pearly whites :)

If you're viewing this blog post on Facebook, please follow this link to see the video:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

London with the ladies.

By Liv

My Mother-in-law (Marlane), Auntie-in-law (Marcea) and their friend (Rosie) are here visiting us and Stella couldn't be happier about it. She is getting so much attention and soaking it up like a little ham!

Yesterday, we took the one hour train ride from Oxford to London and meandered all over the city for the day. Some of the top sights we enjoyed seeing were: Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, The Parliament Building, Buckingham Palace and Harrods. The most difficult part of our trip was finding a way to fit in to the crowded Underground trains. Marlane and Rosie were literally SHOVED in to one of the trains by another passenger when the train was overcrowded. It was pretty entertaining.

The ride home was the perfect time to enjoy a few beers and laugh about the crazy day we had just encountered.

Baby videos

By Liv

I'm so impressed with my new iPhone 4 - it has a video camera that is pretty useful for people like me who like to capture every other moment of life. Here are a few videos that I took at the park down the road from our house. Stella practicing her walking and playing in leaves.

If you're viewing this blog post on Facebook and can't see the videos, please click the link for this post and it will take you to our blog where you can view the videos.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


By Liv

Stella is so lucky to have such a loving Dad and I'm sure she is just as proud of him as I am.

Perfect weather for a Sunday hike

By Liv

On Sunday we woke up to a beautiful bright sun glowing in through our curtains. It was the perfect day to go for a hike. So we packed up Stella in the backpack and joined our new friends Xavier, Laura and their son Tenzing on a hike along the Thames.

Along our hike we saw cows, horses, fishermen and their live bait (ew), rowers practicing their pace and an array of beautiful trees and plants. We ended up finding our way to an amazing (and somewhat secluded) french-inspired pub/restaurant called The Perch This pub formed part of the inspiration for Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland, one of Britain's most loved authors.

The inside of the pub is spectacularly decorated with an eclectic array of paintings and bright decorations. The only thing more exciting than it's interior is it's exterior! The outdoor seating directly behind it is beautiful - covered in trees that hang low, beautiful sweeping branches down and almost touch the ground. Picnic tables dot the lawn and a huge stretched-canvas canopy offers covered seating, for those rainy times. Luckily for us it we didn't need any cover and instead sat in the grass on a picnic table and watched Stella and Tenzing devour the snacks that we had packed.

Nick and I shared a homemade waffle and a crepe filled with goat cheese, arugula, ham and fresh tomatoes. I can't wait to return to this little gem of a place and hopefully it will be with the same company. We love our new friends!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nick is officially a student at Oxford.

Stella doing the sign for "tree" while looking at a tree.

By Liv

Yesterday, Nick Matriculated. Matriculation, in the broadest sense, means to be registered or added to a list, from the Latin matricula – little list.

In the English universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Durham, the term is used for the ceremony at which new students are entered into the register of the university, at which point they become members of the university. Oxford requires matriculands to wear academic dress with subfusc during the ceremony.

At Oxford, new students gather at their prospective colleges for photos and at a specified time, they march together to the Examination School where they listen to some speeches and march back to their school.

The weather really couldn't have been any more perfect for the matriculation ceremony yesterday. It was crisp and cool with a lot of sunshine.

There are quite a few of these symbolic traditions that take place at Oxford University. They seem a little strange at first, but once you live in this culture, it all makes sense. Everything is about tradition and it's all very proper and interesting. I look forward to being part of the next big event.