I don’t want to be overly hyperbolic or dramatic about how bad our February was this year, but I think ‘awful’ would be an understatement.
To begin with, February in the UK is always a pretty hard month because it’s the time when winter really starts to get on your nerves. Winter is fine for a while and it’s nice to have cool weather and snow, especially during Christmas, which we loved this year. But let’s be honest, by the time February rolls in, we’ve all had enough of the cold, the rain, the wind, and the dark.
It’s the dark that really gets to you. It’s such an adjustment for someone who grew up in Oklahoma, where the sun shines regularly through the winter. This is our fourth winter here and it’s still an adjustment every time. It’s really difficult to describe the toll it takes on you when you go weeks with only greyish white in the sky… no blue, no sun, just a greyish white sky. Even when it’s cloudy in Oklahoma, it is usually the kind of cloudy where you can still make out individual clouds, and almost always see the place in the sky where the sun is shining behind the clouds. Not so here. It’s just solid cloud, with no way to tell where the sun is supposed to be.
In medical speak, the ‘toll’ it takes on you is called ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’, or SAD for short. It’s real and it’s hard to measure what exactly it is doing to you… you can read about it here. This year the general ‘winter doldrums’ have been compounded by several factors that have made our February a very sad month indeed.
First of all, Candice’s Pa-paw passed away at the end of January. He had played basketball for OSU, was a WWII Navy veteran and the sole survivor when his ship was bombed, and received three Bronze Stars and lived for 88 years. But more importantly, he was a kind man who was always welcoming and loving towards his grandchildren. Candice’s family gathered together for the funeral, and it was a very hard thing not to be there with everyone, especially her mom and sisters.
Another hardship that made bearing other burdens all the more nasty was having to say farewell to our dear friends, the Appels. They’ve been a large part of our Cambridge family, and have made past winters just a little more bearable. We’ve spent the last three Christmases with the Appels (four if you count our trip to the German Christmas markets). We had our first babies together in Cambridge and have shared in the concomitant joys as well. Not to mention, as I am gone to the library most of the day, Candice’s girlfriends are an important part of the way Candice stays sane. Thankfully, we have many friends still in Cambridge, but perhaps the Appels leaving was symbolic of what is about to happen with many of our other friends as we and others finish PhD’s and move on… such is the nature of the game. We miss you, Appels!
To top off an already crappy month, the flu epidemic struck the Bullard house with a vengeance this winter. Candice had a double portion of illness: a normal run-of-the-mill cold that lasted for about a week followed by full-on influenza, complete with debilitating body aches and headaches, which lasted nigh on two weeks. All that to say, Candice has been down for the count for the better part of February. Asher also got a nasty case of the flu, featuring really high fevers and the worst mouth ulcers we’ve ever seen. The mouth ulcers were the really awful part of the whole thing… Asher would get so so hungry and would want to eat, but every time he tried, it hurt so bad that he would just spit out the food and cry. He cried because it hurt, he cried because he was hungry… and on and on. I almost wish I had taken a picture of what these things looked like, but I was certainly not concerned with preserving the memory at the time.
Normally a little sickness wouldn’t be enough to get us down in the dumps, but it happened to coincide with what is an extremely stressful time for me as I’m trying to finish a very large writing project over the next few months so that I can complete my PhD before we move back to the states. It’s not a given that I will, indeed, finish in time… and it will take a lot of diligence on my part to stick to it in the library as much as possible. Needless to say, I was not in the library very much over the past two weeks, which only added to my stress and general depression regarding the state of my thesis… but I did make a killer batch of chicken noodle soup.
For those of you praying types, pray for Collin to have clarity to finish his thesis, pray for Candice’s grandma as she is very sick and in the hospital with pneumonia, pray for our future plans, that we would know what move to make next.
So, having said all that, you can see that the Bullards have been a pretty pitiful bunch in recent days. The good news, however, is that February is over! And what better way to celebrate the end of a terrible February than to have a great day on March 1st, which happens to be my birthday :). I had a great day hanging out with Candice and Asher, who are both feeling very well, thank goodness. Candice and I got all dressed up and went out for a lovely breakfast at a French restaurant in Cambridge :). They make a breakfast crepe that has ham, fried eggs, and gruyere cheese all wrapped up in a perfectly-cooked crepe with a creamy bechamel-sauce surprise lining the bottom. It was a great way to start the day. We had a relaxed afternoon, watched Silver Linings Playbook, and Candice cooked me an awesome dinner with a birthday cheesecake to top it all off. The whisky glazed carrots were a particularly nice part of the dinner—I’ve been talking about them for about two years since I saw the recipe, but had not made them :). Candice also got me a very cool tweed blazer for my birthday. It’s a bit of an English thing, and sort of an academic thing, I suppose, but I’ve wanted a tweed jacket for a while, and was totally surprised and pleased to receive one.
We’re ready for Spring and are hoping that, as the days get longer and the sun gets warmer, everything else will look a little brighter as well. Here are a few of our recent favorite pictures of Ashie, for those of you who check our blog mainly for pictures of our little man :)…
Hanging out with his friend, Julian, watching ‘Baby Signing Time’, which is the only video he will allow us to show him. If we turn on anything other than ‘Baby Signing Time’, he will point at the screen, grunt, make the sign for ‘baby’, and then make the sign for ‘signing’…