So the big day had finally arrived, and the kids were ready for their first day of school. Tasis, an American school, follows a close curriculum to their school at home. Jack heading to 5th grade, Kate to 4th, and Nick starting 1st. Obviously the uniform thing is new for us and even though it's August, the sweatshirts have to be worn...at least until they can ask permission to take it off. Rules, rules. Nick left his in the class on his first day...good thing I bought two. :) The boys struggled with wearing socks and shoes, oh yeah, pants too. They prefer their year round shorts, tees, & sneakers...oh well, there's no choice so they'll adapt.
You can see their transportation (no big, yellow school bus)...and pickup at the door...now that's nice. He'll even wait if we're running behind...who...us late? :) Now, that's something we all can adjust to.
First day down, and all survived. Happy faces and they said they'll go back. Only time will tell...but we'll take it for the time being...
My sister's family left, and then Jeff & Paula landed at Heathrow from Atlanta. This visitor thing is working out well...:) They flew through the night, took a power nap, and we headed out to nearby Windsor for dinner.
We couldn't wait to spend time with them to catch up and show them our life over here. Jack, Kate, and Nick were excited to see them as well. The only ones missing were their kids. Maybe next time...
We only had a brief time with them before they headed to the city for the week to sight see and visit Paula's cousin (also doing an expat assignment). Full agenda!
We can't tell you how great it was to see you both. Really, our time spent was so much fun and felt like the old days...we thank you for the time we shared. Happy birthday Paula
and happy anniversary too!!
As they say here, "Cheers!"
Morgan...Kate loved her card and sweet birthday earrings. She'll be in touch soon. :) The gum & candy were perfect choices as well. She misses you!! We were so grateful to spend your mom's birthday with her. Ask her all about Jack's apartment...she liked it up there.
Wow!! It's nice to have friends in the States who are both
thoughtful and giving!! These special deliveries were a kid's dream...
Oreos, PopTarts, M & M's, etc...all from two amazing families,
The Calzada's and the Bates. The care packages also included notes from their kids, pictures, and even Nick and Kate's swim trophy. We all talked and talked about how nice it is to be thought of even though we are so far away. It's true that "wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world". My kids got to see first hand just how much a kind gesture can mean to someone. We've been so fortunate to have friends do so much for us during this journey and the months leading up to it...we can't thank you all enough. Honestly, it's meant so much. It's nice to have a little bit of good old America arrive at our front door, even if it is sugary, cavity causing junk food!!...Our kids signed their name with pleasure to accept each package from the States. Needless to say, they were overjoyed as they dug through the cartons...it was like Christmas morning all over again!! (Did I mention the postal carrier delivers the mail via bicycle and tosses it thru a tiny slot in our front door? I still jump everytime...and then it scatters all along the foyer...what's up with these folks?!!! Btw, this is one of Nick's top five favorite things about London.
Breakfast of Champions awaits tomorrow morning...:) Thanks guys!!
Also, I must mention Katherine, a close friend since childhood, sent me a book and card that was "my equivalent" of PopTarts and Oreos...not to be redundant, but it was the same sort of kindness aimed at just me. Nice. Very much appreciated Kath as I'm sure you"re tracking Hurricane Irene this moment....:) Stay safe.
Last, but certainly not least, a shout out to more dear friends...The Quigley's who sent us delicious fruits and chocolates on the 4th of July. A nice patriotic gesture from one American to another, separated only by distance. Note that I actually feel more American here, than I ever have. Also, I feel more pride in being American as well. I suppose it's because I never had to think much about it before, and here we all kind of stand out as we learn to adapt to a new culture. Not to worry, we're trying to make our best impressions along the way...
Masks that couldn't be refused...& all sorts of fun :) Can you guess who's behind Harry?!
The anticipated visit from my sister's family of five had finally arrived on August 8th. Our kids were so excited to see their cousins from Boston, MA. It was their first family trip overseas and we had ten days to share England with them. We had a very full week needless to say. We took the train several days into London to see the sites...Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, London Tower, London Bridge, etc... We even took an adventure to find the oldest pub in London...our destination was the "Cheshire Cheese" built in 1538. We made it and...as an added bonus, as well as by accident, we passed St. Paul's Cathedral on our way...:)
We toured Windsor Castle, complete with a horse drawn carriage ride down the queen's two mile driveway, picnicked on the lawn, and biked along trails. Then we took the group to Legoland, also part of Windsor. The kids liked the famous world buildings and creatures built from tiny Legos that were displayed throughout the park. The amusement rides added enjoyment too...We all wondered just how long all the Lego figures took to build...
Other attractions we took them to were Chessington World of Adventures (an amusement park) , Go Ape...a fun rope course from where we have exceptional video & stories of certain individuals zip lining...ahem!
All in all, we had a terrific time with the Solomons!! (Other than hearing all the unfortunate news about the rioting in the streets of northern London.) The dinners, the laughs, the everyday adventures were a blast.. We are so glad for their visit and for sharing part of their summer with us. The quote of the week was, "Every thing's different". It makes me laugh as I remember one of them pointing out something odd or different than the US way of doing something...EVERYDAY!! Toilets, food, driving, hot water, mail, laundry, plugs, etc...it was endless. Does that mean WE have somewhat adapted to the UK way of life? Ha Ha...I guess we're slowly getting there. Don't get me wrong though, things definitely take time to get used to...quite awhile in fact...we'll continue to adapt...
I've been a bit delayed in adding to our blog, but it is the end of summer here and we've had guests who have kept us busy. Yes...that's an acceptable, exceptional excuse, right?! :)
As July came to an end, we decided to take a drive (yes, the driving is getting better with time) to check out the beaches in the area. Our destination was an area known as Poole and Bournemouth located on the southern coast of England. The drive was a few hours of vast, endless countryside...very pretty and exactly what I pictured England to look like. Very green. After arriving to a beach town called Poole Harbour, we drove our car onto a ferry called "Bramble Bush Bay". This took us directly to Bournemouth Beach, where we were all ready to see the coastline. Nick's idea was to first purchase shovels and pails, hit a few carnival rides, eat lunch, and head to the beach. Great suggestions, because that's exactly what we did...and the beaches surprised us...we expected rocks and pebbles, but instead found sand.:) There we relaxed, played catch, and dug some deep tunnels in the sand (good thing for Nick's new shovels...). We walked the pier, ate ice cream, and called it a day. For some reason, our drive was much shorter going home than it was getting there...Kyle, did you make some adjustments...? :)
Our next beach trip will be south to popular Brighton Beach which is known as "London by the Sea". I guess we had better head there quickly as fall will be here before we know it...
Our daily life here in Sunningdale continues to consist of taking walks to the grocery store, train station, post office, and the bank. It's nice to able to walk to lunch, dinner, and other town like places. The kids really enjoy bike riding to Windsor Park which has now become part of our routine. The trails, polo fields, flowers, gorgeous deer...(I can't tell you just how neat they are to watch..), horses, and gorgeous greenery are all to be admired. I'll bring my camera soon so I can share some animal sightings.
Otherwise, like the British said during WWII (and by the way...we see signs of this everywhere) we continue to "Keep Calm and Carry On"...Our daily life challenges are becoming less and less of a struggle. The things that were a nuisance or inconvenience before, have become a bit less visible and bothersome. Funny how that happens...I'll remind myself of that the next time I continuously drive round and round the "roundabouts" while deciding which exit to take...all the while getting beeped at by others. I'll figure it out somehow, and hopefully which lane to be in as well. :) Deep breaths...
The kids play outside and have become friends with the other kids around our home. It's quite a diverse group...often I look outside and laugh to myself...how life has changed so much, yet kids are all the same. Nick has a pal who speaks with a British accent but is from Sri Lanka...kids enjoy kids...that simple.:)