Tuesday, March 29, 2011

{Marvelous Monday on holiday}

 Monday was another fabulous day!  There is so much to see and so little time . . . we have to walk fast.  Sleep?  We can sleep at home although our bodies aren't convinced that so little sleep is a great idea.

India's favorite princess is Princess Diana, which made Kensington Palace a must see!  It was so exciting  to walk in her house!

The Natural Science Museum building is breathtaking.  We didn't get to take everything in but we loved what we saw.

 The next stop was the Victoria and Albert Museum and I'm still so sad I didn't have days to walk it's halls and take in everything.  There are some incredibly gifted craftsman that have lived through the ages and England can show you a lot of their handwork. 

Madame Tossauds was really fun!  Rachel & India had this on their "must do" list.  (I think it had something to do with Justin Bieber & Robert Pattinson.)

Sadly, The Lion King wasn't showing on Monday night . . .

. . . so we saw Legally Blond.  The whole day was tons of fun!

One more day in London.  I'm excited to go home and sad to see the adventure end.  Thankfully, it's not over yet!  I need to go have a little more fun.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

{Keaton's dreams come true}

All of Keaton's dreams of London came true today!  He had a very short list of MUST-DO things so he was easy to please: 
Hedge Maze at Hampton Court Palace & The Eye of London.  
Actually, everyone has a short list so we're all really happy.

Transportation is still interesting - I think it's due to the weekend at the moment.  There weren't any demonstrators though!

We have experienced the tube, double-decker buses, trains, LOTS of walking (which I love), and even a chartered bus.  The chartered bus was called in to rescue everyone waiting FOREVER for a trip to Hamptom Court Palace.

Thomas sat next to this precious gal on the train.  I think I have better pictures on my real camera but I'm so happy to have iPhone photos for now.  This darling girl was folding paper into tiny paper cranes and flowers.  She even gave us some!  Her family lives in Japan and although they are safe she knows people are still in need.  She was traveling to Hampton today to help raise money to send to Japan for the relief 
efforts . . . the beautiful paper cranes were her gifts for those who donated.  She was just too amazing so we had to donate. Isn't she an angel!  Her Japanese grandmother taught her to make them.

Hampton Court Palace is GORGEOUS.  The inside photos are even more spectacular.  How can a person ever be mean enough OR nice enough to convince so many people to build them this??  (I'm gonna practice being nice to see if it works.)  Technically, Cardinal Wolsey started building the castle but  . . . you know Henry the VIII.  Considering it belonged to King Henry VIII . . . well, maybe I can understand why they said "Yes!" and made it LARGER.

 This breathtaking garden was created for William and Mary years later.  (If I'm REALLY nice, I'd like to have someone help me with such an endeavor in the next life.)

All the grounds were beautiful and the flowers smelled incredible.  Seriously, you could smell them as you strolled along.

Keaton's first dream come true for the day . . . walking  playing in the Hampton Court Palace hedge maze.  There are some things you learn about in homeschool that just grow to be larger than life.  Keaton learned about this couple-of-hundred-year old maze and the London Eye and has been so excited to experience them in person.

The hedge maze was the best!  We found the entrance and exit so many times I lost track but these boys had the time of their lives and we got to cover every inch of this maze.  Super fun day I tell you!

I read the kids a book about the first Ferris Wheel and Keaton's brain started turning.  He researched Ferris Wheels and discovered THE largest Ferris Wheel was in London, England . . . known as The Eye of London.  He decided to ride it some day.  Some day was today!  Thank you Keaton for attracting this experience.  

Big Ben makes a fantastic back drop for these four gorgeous kids!

We had other grand adventures but since it's late in London and I'm going to regret this tomorrow, I'll have to say good-night - hoping my memory will be up to documenting this fabulous holiday a little later.

{our English holiday - continued}

Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey portrays Bath in a beautiful, romantic light.  Persuasion, not so much.  I  think I'll stick with Northanger Abbey. Bath is beautiful!  The people in Bath were so lovely (at times it's more noticeable within).

The biggest question on everyone's mind is . . . has Sir Thomas had need of any English hospital facilities?  Happily, NO!  Being married to such a freak-accident prone man even causes me to wonder about the sanity of our travels.  He is so brave.  I think he really is Superman.  If it weren't for him, I never would have been able to see the world.  I'm not the brave type.  I'm so grateful for him and this opportunity.

We have become accustomed to the English method of driving and even made peace with the roundabouts.  After touring the beautiful countryside, we said good-bye to the people mover we hired and have now experienced the tube and double-deckers buses.

In Bath, we visited the Roman baths . . . original, right?  I loved it!  

The beautiful arched doorway of Bath Abbey . . .

Didn't I mention how lovely the people are?  Rachel found this out through a horrifying first hand experience.  Silly Girl!  She left her beloved camera in the loo after visiting the Roman baths.  This was only discovered AFTER we were out on the street.  We approached a very distinguished looking gentlemen in The Pump Room to inquire about her prized possession.  After offering a VERY detailed description of her camera, it was returned!  See, they are such lovely people and return valuable items that don't belong to them.  We are taking precautions to avoid a repeat occurrence.  :)

I have the MOST wonderful family and they absolutely indulged me!  We got to visit 40 Gay Street, Bath, London!  It's the home of the Jane Austen Centre.  She lived in Bath for a short while and I REALLY wanted to see it. 

Following our visit to the Jane Austen Centre they indulged me again with a quick stop down the street at 25 Gay Street, which was her actual residence.  It is currently owned by some very smart dentist.  They are obviously wonderful people because one of the lovely assistance offered to close the door for us to get a proper picture.  (The door was propped open to allow them to enjoy the beautiful weather.)

My original attempt at this post mysteriously vanished and I've had to start over!  I'm out of time so enjoy the pictures for now and you'll hear more later!

The Royal Crescent in Bath.  (We also stopped by number 7 in The Circus.  It was recently the home of Nicholas Cage.  That is interesting trivia my friends.)

The tunnel under the Thames

The Tower of London

Tower of London

Benjamin Franklin's residence in London

Wait until you hear about this!  Protestors!  We stayed safe. :)

Big Ben

Buckingham Palace

. . . and we're off!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

{on holiday - stonehenge}

We're here!  Sir Thomas is the bravest man in the world.  We rented a car for the the first few days of our holiday - scary.  With no intentions of driving in London, we thought we would enjoy the English countryside.  Roundabouts are not my favorite.  By the way, they are the predominant choice of British engineers.  Driving on the WRONG side of the road is CRAZY.

We are learning a new language!  The "free-O-free" appears as "303" on roadside signs, "straight on" is the beginning of many sentences, and apparently we are the ONLY people who do not smoke although we have been approached by a very nice young man wanting to know if we had any"ciggys."

So, first stop was Stonehenge!
I forgot the cord that allows my camera to converse with my computer so we are using the iPhone pics for blogging while on holiday.  (Guess I'll have to post more after our holiday!)

 Following Stonehenge, we visited the beautiful cathedral in Salisbury.  Sadly, it was a bit dark for iPhone photos.  We are having a wonderful time & the people are incredibly helpful and friendly.  That has probably been the most surprising thing of all.  I never expected them to be rude or unkind but they are absolutely lovely. 

We are now headed to Bath.  (*sigh* Jane Austen)  We won't have internet tonight although we will have so much to tell!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

{the exciting life}

Is this REALLY my life?!?!  I can't believe today has arrived!  I keep pinching myself - it's not St. Patrick's Day either.  My life is generally rather routine and today even started routinely but it's about to get EXCITING.

India is ready for exciting.

We're all ready for exciting.

We are flying to England tonight.  Not New England.  The REAL London, England.

I've been very self-conscious and not wanted anyone to know.  I feel bad that not everyone gets to go.  The bummer . . . Nolan is in Argentina and won't be in England with us.  

After feeling embarrassed to be going I decided to get over it.  We got round-trip tickets from Houston to Heathrow for $294 a person!  How could I pass that up?  Obviously, I couldn't.  What's even better than tickets for $294?  Enough frequent flyer miles to pay for the tickets.  I know!  I wonder why I'm getting all these blessings too! That's why I feel so self-conscious.  I want everyone to be as blessed as I am.

We will have internet at some of our lodging locations.  Hopefully that means a little blogging!  Since this blog is my fancy new-spangled way to journal I'm  going to think of my posterity and blog about the trip anyway.  I'll also keep hoping that no one hates me after this!  
I agree, I really have been blessed beyond what I deserve.

Monday, March 21, 2011

{the birthday princess}

Raising children is wonderful.  I love the carefree moments.  India came inside last week and announced, "I. Am. Amazing!"  
She was having so much fun riding through the grass with the wind in her hair and her arms opened wide.  At times, I wish it could stay this way forever.

My children don't want it to stay this way . . . they like growing up!  I'm trying to not be sad about the whole process.  I'm actually rather tempted to cry.  This will be a rather long post because she just turned TWELVE.  I don't want to forget a single moment of her fabulous journey to becoming.

Saturday, March 20, 1999 was a miraculous day!  Our little princess made her debut into the world 
at 4 lbs. 11 ozs - and really early.  She was excited about entering this world and was ready to get started. She came home early too - only weighing 4 lbs. 5 ozs.  
She was definitely excited about life!

Sunday, March 20, 2011, in her opinion, was a magical day. She has been so excited for her 12th birthday!  It is an exciting event because she gets to wear make-up and attend Young Women's.  (The youth organization in our church for girls.)

India has never been average and I think her ideas for a birthday party were particularly different.  She invited a distinguished group of guest on Saturday to help her celebrate . . . 

Thank you Elders (beginning on left) Marlar, O'Conner, Fonnesbeck, Kemp, Orndorff, Hoffman, Reed, and Jenkins for coming! 

Rachel is the best!  We're so glad she was here too!

The missionaries were SO sweet and brought India birthday cards.  With eight missionaries, they got two cards they could all sign.  It was perfect!

I love their sense of humor! 
(Elder Clunas completed his mission on Valentine's Day but there was no way he could miss this party!  He managed to attend in spirit with his face attached to Mickey's body.)

Some people in this world are beyond amazing.  I know some of those people!  The Serdar's. Their wonderful son is serving in our mission although he is no longer in our specific area.  We love him.  We love his family.  Crazy, but we got to meet his family on a trip last year and all I can say is, "They. Are. Beyond. Amazing!"  They sent India this beautiful birthday gift!  (Sir Thomas is beyond amazing like the Serdar's and he stayed in the background grilling hamburgers!)

Missionaries are another group of "beyond amazing" people.  We were VERY surprised when they arrived with a special birthday gift for our birthday girl . . .

An "autographed" Justin Bieber poster!  (I still can't stop laughing.)  These guys are THE best!
Their comments and signatures were so classic!  (Including the ghost signature of one Elder Clunas.)

We had the usual birthday festivities.

Another tradition . . . the birthday guest gets to choose their piece of the cake.

India entertained us with one of her many talents . . .

As much as she loves the new poster, she had a better idea!  The missionaries would make a better poster than Justin B.  We're going to have this made into a poster and get it autographed!

After seeing the card and the gift, you won't be surprised with their further creativity in pictures . . .

The concept:  Everyone jump together and get a great air shot.

The reality:  Hilarious!  Synchronizing the jump was harder than expected.

The question:  Should we begin the jump ON the count of three or should we already be mid-air?? Jump AFTER three?  (This post is already long or I would show you a few more FUN attempts!)


So, my beautiful princess is now 12 and all smiles!

Yesterday, as I took this picture before church I wanted to freeze time.  
India is 12!  They've grown up so fast.  It is still quite the process to get a picture of everyone looking at the camera, eyes open, smiling . . . I'm glad that hasn't changed!  (Keaton is a happy guy but was being funny for the pictures with his "serious" look but everyone's eyes are open and they're looking at the camera!)  
I NEVER want this to end!