These are some photos from a few days in London. Days in London included, the British Museum, St. Paul's, Bus rides through pica dilly and Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and Windsor Castle. Grandma and Grandpa really got around in their three days in the city!
Our mission to the UK was a 2 year assignment. As much as Jason and I would have enjoyed extending it another year, the kids are a bit worn out from all their adventures. They long for "normal" (i.e. American sports, American food, American schools, and their friends and family)!
We prayed to know what to do, and have had answers that point us back to the states, even without a job! But then, Jason's company asks him to move to Utah. It was one of three states we said to ourselves we'd be willing to go, so just like that, we gotta go! WITH a job!!!! UTAH?!!! Literally, jaw dropped, shocked! Not in a thrilled way, more like in a...THAT'S-NOT-TEXAS-way!!!!
It isn't home. But it's not totally foreign either. We have family there and look forward to strengthening those relationships and building new ones. To our most dear Texas friends and family, I just don't know what to say? We expect to visit and stay close, but will miss you so much! We may have just left our hearts in Texas!
To our new London friends, sorry but you'll have to deal with the loud American family for another 3 months. We won't leave until the end of July! There is not doubt that it's the people that you miss when you "complete a mission," not the place. Well, with London, it will be a bit of both.
So our UK Mission isn't quite yet completed, but there is a deadline now. And that deadline has already made me appreciate the abundance of being here. Today.
A.J. left the states as a Life Scout with just a couple of Merit badges to complete. While living abroad, we were concerned that we might not be able to come up with an Eagle project for him. Would people here understand, and let some teenage boy come in and help? Fortunately for us, in our ward was Head Teacher Jenny Adamson. She's the headteacher of Cortlands PRU. This is a small school for teenage parents. She mentioned that they have this courtyard that is overgrown, cluttered, and underused. AJ met with her and they came up with a plan to clear it out, refinish the furniture that was there, build some planter boxes to hide the AC equipment, and plant some flowers and a small tree. It all worked out beautifully. It was a fantastic opportunity for AJ. His biggest struggle was stepping back and supervising instead of just doing. He loves to serve and work with his hands, so he just wanted to do it all. But in then end, he figured it out and let a lot of people help out. Jenny shared with us that the students were so impressed that an 18 year old boy would do this for their school. She said everyone loved the final result so much that the kids even decorated it and held their prom night in the courtyard. What a great experience it was for us all.
This kid is amazing! A few of you might already get this. The thing is, when I'm trying to shove him into that square shaped peg, I can forget. But he just is! And so often, I feel for him. Can you imagine having creative, scientific, ideas all the time with no one intelligent at home with whom to share them? He tries, and I try, but I'm no Einstein, and he kind of is, therein lies the problem.
Have you seen an episode of No Ordinary Family? There's a kid with a super-brain as a superpower. Visually when he sees something, he can see virtual blueprints, schematics, formulas, etc, of how things work. When AJ saw this show he said, "that's as close to the way my mind works as I can possibly explain. When it comes to how things work, I just see individual components all taken apart and I can picture how they all move and work together!"
And he has innovative ideas daily! He comes to the kitchen table to draw them out. He'll say, in the middle of doing something else, "I just gotta draw this idea out so I can get it off my mind." And sometime during his day, every day, he sits down at that table to put down some mental notes.
Throughout his life he's designed and built things. And with limited materials and know-how, he wasn't always successful. But while living here in London, he carefully designed and built a petrol skateboard. This picture of him was after doing some welding on it in the garage. He just needed some decent resources. Last year he took an engineering class and had access to a metal shop that was such a blessing. We have been so excited to see his success. And months leading up to it, we'd review his drawings, smile and shake our heads. Unsure, at times whether we should encourage him, or not. And in the end, Jason and I are beside ourselves, impressed at what he can achieve, and we look forward to what he will create in the future!
We love this kid.
Ah, I so love it when the sun comes out here. It's just magical. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll, Jaxon got to play at the Princess Dianna Memorial Park, or as he calls it, the Pirate Park! While Jason's mom, Emily, and I checked out Kensington Palace.
We were a bit unsure how our day would turnout since we were on a mission to show Jason's parents a great day in Bath, but we were bringing the little boys. In the end though, it was just a fantastic day. The countryside was beautiful, Stonehenge was crazy windy, but great, and we loved meandering the streets of Bath while we searched for an address of one of Jason's ancestors. Just a great day. While everyone was enjoying touring the Roman baths, Jaxon enjoyed the pigeons while I enjoyed a beautiful scone with clotted cream and jam. Like I said, a great day.
We were out of school for the 2 week Easter Holiday, and the sun was shining! It was quite a lovely day in the city and the boys had already enjoyed a day of just lying around the house, so I thought I'd better get my boys running around. I figured, let's go to the beach! I called up my friend Stacy, and she was game too. Unfortunately the weather wasn't quite so inviting once we arrived. Oh, the sun was out alright but so was the the wind! The temperatures weren't quite so inviting either. But that didn't keep the boys from doing exactly what we came there to do! They enjoyed building sand castles *or a sand toilet! They ran in and out of the small waves, Dallin explored the seabed as the tide went way out before we left. It was a great day enjoyed by all. Even if I did wear my hoodie the entire time! So much for getting a little sun on this chicks British-looking white legs!
Let me explain some church distances for you. Our ward building is 10 minutes from our house. The London temple is a 30 minute drive from our house. Our stake center....an hour away!!! Isn't that crazy. Because of this, we packed a pretty good picnic to enjoy just after our stake conference twice a year. This one was just a month before AJ would leave on a mission and we thought we'd try to get a few pictures.
Our family's experience of the Paris Marathon 2014 is quite a bit different than Jason's. He ran...and ran...and ran... The rest of us was on a mission to find him! We spent most of our day underground on the Metro getting from place to place. It was so great when we found him! The kids loved finding him! Jason did so well, we were so proud of him. I know running a marathon may not seem so amazing these days, because so many people do it. But this girl doesn't, and it's remarkable!
Little Jaxon loved cheering for his dad, but he also enjoyed cheering for ALL the runners! Check out the video at the bottom.