Our mission: the Apple store. We went to Covent Gardens shopping centre and just happened to show up on a Thursday. Apparently that's the day to be there! From street performers, an outdoor market, and London Musical promotions performances, a fantastic lunchtime location. And we finally got her iPod fixed!
Peter Pan themed Wonderland!
I felt like these little boys of mine needed a little attention and some time to let loose and play. I learned about this great playground in Kensington Gardens that I KNEW would be a hit with my boys. So we packed up a lunch, took a train on up to London, and had a go! It was a fabulous day. Just perfect!
I left the three big kids on their own for the day. I suspected I'd find them all on electronic devices when I walked in the house, but instead I found them on the trampoline in the backyard with soap and water. I suppose they had a great day too.
Jason was in London Monday for work, so we hopped on a train up to meet him near Picadilly Circus, and had dinner in China Town with the family. After we enjoyed some Chinese food, we took in a few sights, then Jason and the boys headed home. The girls and I hung around a bit longer to do a little shopping. Mostly just window shopping, but we did grab a few scarfs. We're trying to get prepared for an early and cold fall! Note: photos taken from Janae's ipod, and mostly taken by her. She's got a good eye! I think her photos are much more artistic than my own.
This might be the way we get excited to see all there is to see in Europe. Tell him we'll take a picture of him planking!
We decided to spend some time studying where we are, where we want to go, and what we'd like to do while we're on our little London adventure. So what you're seeing here is everyone at the table doing something. Janae's got the map, she's pushing in pins for places Jason's been for work, and pins for places we'd like to visit. Emily's got an iPad in her hand where she's exploring photos of various regions. Mom and dad have laptops out where we're doing research, AJ has a list he's sharing, Dallin's anxious to help stick a pin in a map. Finally, Jaxon's got a sheet of cardboard where he's make a treasure map and he's filling it up with all sorts of pins! It was fun to hear what everyone had to say about where we should go. We're hoping to take a big trip quarterly, and we're making plans to go on day trips 3 out of 4 weeks per year. Once our list is finalized I'll update the blog with it in writing. As of now, it's a bit flexible still.
So, this first map has locations and photos of our family members. This way our kids can see their picture often and take not of where they live in comparison to our little family way over there on the other side! Yikes!
This second map is of Europe and has some pins punched in to indicate places we'd like to travel. Not a great picture, like I said, it's still a bit undecided. But we'll keep everyone posted.
We thought we'd take our weekend adventure out of the city, for a change. I think we were all feeling ready for a little fresh air and fewer people. One problem with this plan, when you go to the sea on a Saturday on the hottest day of the summer holiday, well, let's just say, you don't go alone!!! So I strategically took close up photos of the family and tried to avoid the crowds, but at the end, I finally just took a few of the beach so y'all could see just how crazy packed it was.
We sat near a church group with a guitar, we enjoyed their singing. Then we witnessed a few baptisms in the sea. Later that day, we watched another baptism where three men gathered around the newly convert with their hands on her head and spoke in tongues, that was very interesting to see.
We spent a little time on the boardwalk, then called it a day. It was ok, but I think next time we'll go to a quieter beach.
Just press the play button to see all the photos!
So we head up to London to check out a street market, but it was during the week and turned out to be a bit of a dud. I think there were like 5 little tents. So we turned the corner, and what do you know, we're right by Westminister Abby and Big Ben. Oh, the sights!
Jason bought these tickets quite a while ago. They were pretty normal tickets. He was just happy to have gotten them. But a few days before the game, he opened up his envelope, checked out the tickets and did some research about Wembley Stadium, when he realized he had FRONT ROW tickets! FRONT ROW!!! We weren't sure who would be playing, but we had our fingers crossed that it would be team USA.
We had a fantastic time cheering for Team USA at Hyde Park, it was a spectacular game, a real nail-biter! And we were beside ourselves when they won! It was settled: Front row seats for the Gold Medal game with USA going for gold. Epic!
Since Janae decided to stay at home, we had an extra ticket. I was desperate to join them for the game, but we've only been in the country for 4 weeks. I didn't know anyone. So who to watch the little boys? So, I stayed home with the kids and watched the game from the comforts of home, constantly looking in the crowd for Jason and Emily. But, no luck.
At the end of the game after USA won, they grabbed some flags from the stadium. They grabbed one and all stood behind it for a photo. I watched this on TV. I thought, I wonder if Jason and Emily will see them?
Well see them they did! In fact it was OUR FLAG!!! Jason and Emily returned from the game beside themselves with excitement. Truly, a once in a lifetime opportunity. They were talking over each other as they shared their experience. How close they were, how they sold our spare ticket, the crowds, how big the stadium was, and what happened after they won. Jason said they came right toward us, and were looking for flags, they asked us for ours. He said he hesitated, because this is the flag that hung on our house in Texas for the last several years, and we brought it to London, so we can hang it for appropriate holidays. But he quickly changed his mind, took it off and handed it to the players.
They gathered in front of it, right in front of them, and quickly a herd of camera men came to take shots. Number 9 walked off with it on her back. And that is it. Our flag is famous!
Emily. said they were so close, that it was crazy to see how fast Alex Morgan ran down the line on a break away. She described the evening, by saying, "It was like a dream!"
AJ and Janae went to youth camps with church this week. We dropped them off on Monday and they didn't come home until Friday and Saturday. A.J., I wasn't worried about him. Camping is right up his alley, and he's already made some friends at church. But Janae wasn't too excited about going. She HASN'T made any friends yet, and camping ISN'T exactly her thing. But she went. I was Soooooo worried about her.
We had gold medal tickets for the final women's soccer game. Only 3 tickets. We bought them for Jason and the girls. So, we thought we'd pick Janae up early from camp to attend the game. But we got a voicemail from her Tuesday night that said, "just in case you were going to come get me, do not: NOT pick me up, ok. I do NOT want to leave camp." Well, that was so great to hear since I was stressing about her the whole time.
They both had great weeks! I'm so glad they had this opportunity.
The rest of us enjoyed a week without the emotions and stresses of teenagers in the house! I LOVE my teenagers, and they do make our home more interesting and fun, but there's something about having just kids 11 and under that was kind of nice. In fact, kind of quiet.
Monday evening we went up to Hyde Park to take in some Olympic Spirit. We watched the USA play Canada in the rain with lots of energetic, loud Americans AND Canadians. And
On our date night, I had shared with Jason how it had been a bit of a tough week for the kids, particularly our teenagers. We decided we needed to do something fun Saturday. We went online that evening and researched a few options. The Hampton Court palace seemed relaxed, interactive, AND CLOSE, so we thought we'd give it a go (hey, I'm starting to sound Brittish already). After some light persuading, the kids were up for the activity. It was unexpectedly amazing. I can go on and on about how crazy the kitchen was, but I didn't take many pictures : ( And you need to understand, we're quite an ADHD bunch, so we didn't spend hours and hours listening to the audio tour and seeing every last corner of the compound. But we enjoyed the castle, the reenactments, and we enjoyed the gardens and castle maze just as much! I think we've found our new hide and seek or tag location! The gardens were great for running around, and as manicured as everything was, their weren't stuffy curators telling us to keep off the grass. It was a fun day.
So after that downer week, and the Olympic Park debacle the day before, Friday night came around and Jason said, let's go out! We made some homemade rootbeer for the kids, pizza, and we were off. We didn't have big plans, we were just going to go! We got in the train, and we were headed toward the Picadilly Circus stop. Do YOU know what Picadilly Circus is? Well, I'm the first to admit to my geographical ignorance, but I had no idea. But we stepped out of the underground, and it was like we were in Time Square. There were people watching Live Olympic broadcast on the huge TV screens, people wearing flags on their backs like capes, and just hustle and bustle all around us! It was a great evening. We just walked and walked, had dinner, and walked and talked some more. We'd occasionally point out to one another, we LIVE here. It's just a bit weird! And this evening, it was amazing. Well what a fun unexpected Date Night.