When I started writing this, Sammy "The Rocket" Sullivan Peňa, was still down for this afternoon nap, and Joshua, who at three thinks he is too old for a nap, is playing quietly by himself, chattering away in Spanish. Adriana speeds through the typical day of the mother of two toddlers--the constant juggle of children, cooking, laundry, play time and all else connected with this time of her life. I woke from my brief nap thinking about the famous "octomom" and wonder what kind of mental illness she is suffering from to even consider having that many children at once and to think she can handle it.
Now, for a brief description: if you will type this address into maps.google.com, you'll get a pretty good idea of what the house looks like: 38 Harbury Road Carshalton SM5 4LA. I can't get the actual address to show on the street view, but that one is very much like the one they live in. As are many dwellings here, it is an attached house--another abutted right next to it, similar to a duplex in the US. Jonathan and Adriana live on the left side, but they do have a front garden--it is not completely concreted over as the one in the photo. The back yard of the two houses is separated only by a low fence, so both have a full view of the other's back yard.
The interior of the house is charming. We have no idea how old the house is--surely at least fifty or sixty years old and probably much older, but it has had considerable work done on it in the last ten years. The floors, however, are probably original--they look like maple hardwood in the main areas, and brick in the kitchen. The entry space is light and generous with a lovely aquarium at one end. The ground floor has a living room, dining room, half-bath and kitchen. All rooms are smaller than found in current US houses--the living room is probably 12x12 and the others smaller. They are nicely furnished with the current owner's furniture.
There is a set of stairs, naturally, very steep stairs, that lead to a landing where Jonathan's office is (and where I am writing) and then a short flight to the upper level with three bedrooms and a very nice bathroom, with shower, tub and all the other necessities. One room, large and open, is Jonathan and Adriana's bedroom. "With closets!" as Adriana gratefully proclaimed (not walk in, but closets built after the house was done, and take up quite a bit of two walls.) One room is for the children, and it really does have a closet--approximately 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. I am sharing this room with the children. The last bedroom is the playroom/guest room but the furniture as not yet arrived for the guest room part of it. The children do use the play room to some extent, but really prefer to be downstairs. A complex set of baby gates guards the top and bottom of the stairs so the children do not have access to them without an adult having unlocked them.
The kitchen is amazingly well equipped, with six burner stove, dishwasher (hidden behind a cabinet that matches the other cabinets), washing machine and dryer (also hidden), small refrigerator (very small refrigerator--the size they had in France), microwave, and adequate drawer/cabinet space. Much better equipped than the French kitchen.
The windows from the kitchen and dining room look onto the back yard. There is a patio area, flagstones for flooring, and then two sets of steep steps lead to the garden proper, a very upward sloping yard that culminates at least 12 feet higher from the first patio in another flagstone patio area with a couple of flower beds and a garden shed on it.
Yes, lovely, and yes, nearly as inconvenient as the French house. Adriana's sister, Rocio, and her husband, Ian, and their daughters, Katie and Grace, came by late afternoon to eat as they had just arrived from a vacation in France and Adriana had fixed some soup and rice for dinner for them, knowing they'd be hungry on their arrival. That meant four adults and four children--and that's when I realized that there is no room large enough to really accommodate that many people at once. A couple of hours of wild conversation and excited children later, Rocio and Ian left with their children and Adriana managed to get the overly-stimulated Joshua and Samuel to sleep while I worked on cleaning the kitchen. I've talked Adriana into showing me how the appliances work so I can be of some help to her in there. Also will try to get some gardening done for them while I am here.
Just talked with Jonathan. Complicated with his Greece assignment are weighing him down but he hopes to arrive late tomorrow afternoon.
We took the children to a nearby park for most of the afternoon. It was full of children because school is on hiatus right now, and the playground itself was a little overwhelming to them. But we found a nice place to sit and Joshua learned to roll down the hill and Samuel tried to talk the squirrels into take peanuts from his hands. There is a spacious pond with ducks and geese, and everything is very green except for the shrubs that froze with the very unexpected two feet of snow late winter here. Clearly, from the care that is taken with the gardens here, they will be replaced soon. Early spring blooms everywhere.
OK, time for me to head to bed and finish my time adjustment.