Year two, thus far, in the UK

At the birthplace of Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Year two in the UK is going very well – much better than year one, and year one went pretty well! The two major differences this go-around are:  1) Jonah and Graysen are in school, and 2) the boys are signed onto football (soccer) teams. Of course, #1 means that Alisha is no longer home-schooling, and thus has a bit more freedom this year to do things both at home and outside the house.  She is enjoying helping with the Parents and Toddler group at the church, occasionally works in the EMI office, attends all the various school functions for the boys, and keeps up with all the house stuff.
Getting ready to Trick-or-Treat after coming up with home-
made costumes.  Costumes didn't go over well here as we
forgot that Halloween costumes here are judged purely on
how scary they are. As One Direction band mates Brodie
and Jonah would only be scary if the person answering the
door had teenagers. ;)
The boys each love their schools here. Jonah and Graysen attend a Church of England school and are enjoying being a part of school council and playing on the school football (again, soccer J) team as well.  Brodie is enjoying year two at his school and is doing really well. Overall, I think it’s a little hard for each of them to make a lot of close friends given the cultural differences, but I think they feel the cultural differences as much on their end too so they understand better what’s going on. Graysen probably struggles the least with this being younger and thus a bit more adaptable.
Jonah and Graysen with their talent show act at school. They
took 2nd place singing/beat-boxing and break dancing.
Apart from school during the week, our weekends are filled with football. They all have training (practice) on Saturday mornings into the afternoon, and then matches are Sunday mornings. Consequently, we now attend our church’s Sunday night service, which we’ve really started to enjoy.  But the football is a lot of fun, both for the boys and us as well as it’s really the primary interaction we have with the culture here. Their teams are very well coached and it’s been a great learning experience not just for them, but also for me as a coach. I am actually going to sit for the ‘level one’ coaching class offered by the ‘FA’ (Football Association) here in March. It’s four full days spread over two weekends, and I’ve heard is pretty intense. I’m really looking forward to it as getting the level one license here in England is a unique and, I believe it’s fair to say, prestigious opportunity.
Things are going well at EMI-UK. We are still quite hopeful that the office will remain open in some form beyond this coming summer. We are talking with a number of people who have shown some potential interest, though no firm plans as of yet. But apart from that, things couldn’t be better in the day to day life of the office. We are about to finish our project 3 weeks early thanks in no small part to our outstanding interns, Deryck and Michael. They are both computer genius’, which hasn’t hurt at all. But beyond that, they are both great guys and it’s been a joy to have them in the office. I feel like I say that every semester!
Graysen with his 'Man-of-the-Match' trophy. The little guy
has scrapped his way to 8 goals in 11 games to lead his
Brodie and his football team of giants (the kid on the right is
the next shortest player and he's about 5 inches taller than Brodie).
Jonah (back to the camera) is still doing jujitsu and, as is
shown in this picture, has begun sparring training.
The only other minor change has been the accents! Being in school now, we have started to notice the boys’ tones of voice changing to match their British peers. Graysen is still the only one who actually speaks with a British accent around his peers, but all of them use the British voice inflections and little sayings. It’s funny because it sounds normal to us now, but every now and then we take a step back and realize that  this will eventually fade away once we move away from the UK – kind of sad considering we like our little half-British boys.
In London, visiting with fellow EMI'er Rex Barber who was
passing through on his way to a project trip in Kazakhstan.
As a nod to us, Rex wore his Oregon shirt (that I bought him
as a part of actually winning a bet over last year's Fiesta Bowl
game against Rex's alma mater, Kansas State - winner bought
loser a tshirt that loser had to wear in his next project trip team
Alisha and boys enjoying the lights of Piccadilly Circus in
downtown London.
Intern Michael and Deryck came over to celebrate Michael's
birthday a couple of weeks ago. Then last weekend, they came
over again and we stayed up until 1am as I gave them a lesson
on American football while watching the Auburn v. Georgia game.
Challenges-wise, I think probably our biggest would just be the transitions we're facing, both big picture and little picture.  Big picture wise, we are beginning to think about what's next for the Crawford family come next summer when our current UK visa is set to expire. There are a number of options within EMI for us to consider, so we're just trying to figure out where we can be of most use and where is best for our family in the coming 5 years or so.

Little picture wise, I think Alisha and I are just trying to figure out how to parent this next phase of life for our boys as they're growing older. It's easy to get stuck in the old habits of parenting little boys, but as the boys are getting older we realize that we need to change too. When you have little kids, it's somewhat ok (or at least less damaging) to be control freaks as parents - in fact sometimes, it's required to save their life! But as your kids grow, we know it's vital that we let go and allow them to start learning how to become adults some day. That is proving to be a big challenge for us, and one that plays out in a way that must sound like world war III to our neighbors sometimes!

Consequently, our main focus lately has been to work on remaining calm and sympathetic to their cause, even in the face of loud, disrespectful and hormonally charged behaviors that often appear far worse on the surface than they actually are. It's a monster of a challenge for us, as parents (i.e. remaining peaceful in the face of emotional outbursts), but one that both Alisha and I are determined to conquer despite our often daily failures of lashing out at the ridiculousness we get the 'privilege' of witnessing!) I don't think I need to explain any further for those of you who are parents. :)
During the boy's Fall break, we went to Oxford
for a couple of days.
We drove around the Oxfordshire area
quite a bit - this is Warwick Castle.
Downtown Stratford-upon-Avon
I kind of look like a creeper knocking on
someone's door. But honestly, I can't remember
why I added this photo to this blog file.
We stopped off in Luton to visit our old friends from Uganda,
Joe and Jess, and our little God-son Nathan.


Anonymous said…
Nice blog, specially the last photo! :) Nathan enjoyed his afternoon with the big boys SO MUCH so thanks for popping in. We'll make you all proper British before you ever leave. Are you tuning into the cricket at midnight? I remember describing the importance of the Ashes to you back in UG. Catch you soon. Come to Kenilworth Road sometime - there should be plenty of opportunity as our last 6 matches have been away!! Love from us.
Phil said…
Cant believe you went to Warwick Castle - I just moved out! Glad to hear the foot's going well it's the most importent part!
Matt Jurach said…
But Brad, the important question: What beers have you found you enjoy there?

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