Friday, September 30, 2011

"there is sunshine in my soul today..."

Today was a beautiful day. While Marisa was at school, Natalie and I shared a warm butter croissant while walking in the gently cool park. It was perfect.
Then after playing at the park we sat ourselves on a bench for a snack and soaked in the warm, very warm, sun rays. It felt so good to close my eyes and tilt my head back to physically feel the warmth.  Yes, it is hot and sunny over here! I really needed to feel the sun today.  It totally lifted my spirits.

And I'm so excited for General Conference weekend tomorrow. My soul is in need of major uplifting, reenergizing, and heavenly guidance. Spiritual sunshine for my soul.

For the past several General Conferences we have used this site for Conference packets for the kiddos. Highly recommend it. They have them for all ages.

And another major plus, because the past couple of days have been and will continue to be for the next several days in the mid to high 20s, (celsius, that is), we made a last minute decision a couple nights ago to rent a car and spend the weekend in Wales! We are going to try to soak up as much sun as we can!

Happy Conference weekend!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

life lately with our two girlies

If I had to pick my favourite age so far for my kids I would pick 2 years old. Marisa was a riot at 2. She said the funniest things and was an absolute doll. Natalie is the same way now. She's still my baby yet her vocabulary and comprehension is exploding and it is so fun to watch her blossom.
And the girls are at the perfect ages too right now. They love playing with each other and can entertain each other so well. They are more independent than ever yet more manageable than ever. Just everything about them right now is plain great. I'm having so much fun with them.
Today they were pretending to be superheroes together.

On the flip side, Tim and I have suddenly fallen victims, well I should say mainly Tim has, of their new independence and cleverness...

For example,

-While lecturing Marisa...
Tim: "Now when are you going to start listening?"
Marisa: "When I'm 6."

-While trying to get the girls to bed...
Tim: "Natalie... (Totally interrupted midsentence by Natalie putting her hand out to stop him from talking and said...)
Natalie: "Hold on, hold on, Tim. Hold on."
She paused, blinked her eyes, then walked away.

-While all 4 of us hanging out on our bed...
Natalie: "Mommy, bite."
Me: "I don't want to bite Daddy."
Natalie: "Ok...kick!"

What is going on???

And then there is Marisa's lying...

Tim: "Who made this mess?"
Marisa: "The squirrel did it."
Tim: "Marisa, the squirrel did not do it."
Marisa: "Yes, it did."
Tim: "Don't lie."
Marisa: "I'm not lying."

On the flip side again...

Natalie never turns down an opportunity to pray. She loves to pray and never requires help. She knows exactly what she wants to say. Every time she prays her voice becomes really soft yet high-pitched. So tender and so sweet.
This was her prayer several nights ago. One of these days I want to record it because it is one of the sweetest things to listen to.

"dear heavenly fathers,
thank you my day,
daddy strong,
daddy work,
thank you strawberries,
and grapes,

(and church), (<-- Tim actully interjected here for a moment)

and castle.

name of jesus christ, amen."

As for Marisa, when I walked into the girls' room soon after putting them to bed, I see this sweet girl asleep, hugging her beloved Georgie.

I have countless pictures of these two together since they meet each other when Marisa was 8 months old. For second, I thought her Jessie doll permanently replaced him but not too long ago when we asked her who she wanted to sleep with Marisa said, "Georgie. Because he misses me." I don't want the time to come yet where she will get too old for him.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

tube rides

Yesterday we were missing the city and decided to go in for dinner. There is never a dull moment on tube rides.

Doesn't she look like the pigs from angry birds?? hahaha

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

{Flashback}: Day 5/Day 6

If you want to see a cute little English town go to York, England. Everything about it is cute, cute, cute.

But before we arrived to York we stopped to see the Rosslyn Chapel. Tim wanted to see it. I didn't care. And we only saw it from the outside. It was a quick stop but again it allowed the girls to get their wiggles out a bit at a really, really, really old graveyard. I'm not sure that was appropriate. Oh well.

Tim is the one in the relationship to "stop and smell the roses", which he inherited from his mother, and which has been passed to Marisa, and so he will always be the one to point out how amazing things look, especially in nature. I on the other hand don't really notice unless it is pointed out to me or I just plainly don't get as excited about sights like that as much as Tim does. But I have to admit, we saw some really pretty sights on our drive down England.

Once we entered York, Tim and I kept saying, "Wow, this is so cute!" It was a lovely little town with so much character.

When we told people we were going to York just about everyone mentioned that we should eat at Betty's Cafe. We love food recommendations. Recommendations on any matter over here is really great.

We were serenaded by a piano player just a foot away from our table while we ate a proper English dinner; I had lamb and Tim had Cumberland sausage. And the meal was rounded off with some pasterries from the bakery inside Betty's. Yummy.

After dinner we went off to see The Shambles. When researching what to see in York before our trip I read that it was "Britain's Most Picturesque Street". So I thought, ok, cool, it will be fun to see really old architecture and take really cool pictures. Although it was cool to see medieval architecture where the building hangs over the street by several feet and the buildings are all warped looking, Tim and I agree it was not THAT cool. I guess I envisioned that I would be transported to a long medieval street. And I wasn't. There were a few cool looking buildings though.

On our way back to the car we saw Clifford's Tower, the keep of York Castle. It is so bizarre to see something so stinkin old surrounded by more modern buildings. It is so weird and neat at the same time!
The original motte and bailey castle on this site was erected by William the Conqueror in 1068! Amazing. This tower was built somewhere between 1245-1262 by order of King Henry III.

Our local trip is now complete. And Tim can proudly say he was never honked at. (Except in Edinburgh Tim asked how he was doing on his left hand side when trying to squeeze in between a car and the median and I said, "Oh, plenty of room," and he accidentally barely nicked the mirror of the car next to us. The driver honked at us to just get our attention but nothing happened to his car. So he blames that honk on me.)
The car rental place told us we could return the car the next day if we wanted which was so sweet because the next day was Sunday which meant we could drive to church! It's all in the little things people! And since it is on my bucket list to drive on the left hand side...

Monday, September 19, 2011

{Flashback}: Day 4

We had one more full day in Edinburgh. But what to do? I've always envisioned Scotland with super amazing green grass flowing endlessly in all directions with castles at the edges of lochs. So I wanted to see just that.
Unfortunately, the really amazing sights were another 4 hours from Edinburgh. I did not want to get in the car for more driving. We are just going to have to come again and visit when we are older. Like an old people cruise or something. ;)
Instead, we only drove 2 hours to the Trossachs to find something similar.

Two things went very wrong during those couple of hours. The roads were windy and we ended up not exactly where we wanted to be. And this is where I started to get grumpy.
First of all, I don't like long car rides. Second of all, I get motion sickness really easily. I can't even read in the car for just a few minutes without feeling really sick. So it is no wonder I hate car rides because I have to literally sit for hours and do nothing but stare in space! (Or talk someone's ear off.) And it is no surprise either that my morning sickness with my pregnancies are pretty bad too.

Well, combine these two, and you get, bingo, grumpy me. Hi.

Unfortunately, my girls have inherited this motion sensitivity from me as well. Marisa has thrown up twice from reading in the car and this trip was so windy that although she wasn't reading, she still threw up. Count is now #3 for her in the car. And Natalie has only thrown up from the round-about at the playgroup here in London. Luckily, not on this road trip. She was asleep.

At this point now I had had it. I'm now yelling in the car, "I HATE NATURE!"

Yes. Hi.

My wonderful dear husband just remained all-around pretty calm with all things considered and never said anything the entire time while I am going on about how awful this is.

Tim joked at the end of the day that I am no longer allowed to go back to nature because I said I hated it just like his mom shouted out, "I hate Hawaii" when she lost her wedding ring and his dad and siblings all joked that she is not allowed to go back to Hawaii because she said that. haha But quite frankly, I'm totally ok with not going back to nature!

Anyways, at this point, what to do? Nothing we wanted to see was in view, I wanted to barf, Marisa already did, and we had all been in the car for too long. We luckily and randomly found a little resting/picnic area to eat lunch and take a long break before heading back home for a failure of a trip. But while walking around a bit once we parked we realized there were a few trails up the hill. So we decided just to walk a little bit and let the girls wander and get their wiggles out. As we are walking a steep foresty hill I now say, "Great. Hiking. My next favourite thing." :)

Fortunately for me, it ended up being a really easy trail and a lovely one at that. Check out the view from the top.

Bingo! Just what we wanted to see. It wasn't the lochs I wanted to see, but it was close enough.
Completely peaceful, amazing view, sitting on a bench with no care in the world.
I can settle for this for now.

After awhile, Natalie and I headed back down to the car because the little thing was getting hungry.Tim and Marisa kept on hiking just a little bit more to see what they could see and got some more cool pictures.

Friday, September 16, 2011

first week of school

School started this past week!

According to U.K. standards Marisa should be starting Kindergarten or "Reception" as they call it here, this fall. But because of the timing of our move over here we were considered late applicants when I applied for Marisa to attend the top 3 public or "state schools" nearby so we didn't get into the schools I wanted. So while we remain on the waiting list for them, and as I refuse to send her far away to a crappy school they allocated me in the meantime, I instead have her in a really good preschool or "nursery" which has accepted her to attend until the end of December this year because she is considered a young 4. (Her birthday is in April.) I think I mentioned all this before.

What I didn't mention is that the school was even nice enough to let her attend mid-term this past June! So technically Monday wasn't Marisa's "first day of school" but it kinda was at the same time. She had a good introduction into the school, her teachers, and how things run over here beforehand so she was such a pro entering the school on Monday.

She marched right into the gates of the school with her red school bag in hand with so much confidence, leaving me way behind, and waited for her classroom or "shelter" doors to open with a huge grin on her face. She "self-registered" which is like a way of an attendance sheet, and placed her bag where it belonged with that smile still on her face. It was never a problem leaving her the first time we went to school, (ok it was a little hard for me, not for her though, to actually leave her) but it was 10x easier leaving her this time around because she was SO excited to be back!!

After the first day of school, on the bus ride home, I turn to see Marisa laying herself across an entire row eating her grapes. This is the "Good Life"!

I asked Marisa what her favourite part about school is and she said, "Umm, reading books, playing with toys, making maps, making a friend. Yes. All of it."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

{Flashback}: Day 3

There were really only two things on our must-do list for Edinburgh; Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. So, we just took the bus and dropped ourselves off at the city centre. No set plans, no real agenda. (Which is not like us.) How did we know where to start? We followed the sound of bagpipes of course!

Listening to bagpipes play authentic Scottish music was so neat. As I was taking pictures of the bagpiper the girls just stood there listening totally mesmerized. We gave Natalie some money to throw in his box, which she did willing, but she was so shy that she slowly approached the box and then quickly threw it in, missing the box actually, and then ran back to us. haha

This old man was really nice. I never asked to take a picture with him but he totally offered. Sure, why not? And like I mentioned before, he played "Wheels on the bus" on his bagpipes for the girls as we sang along a bit. He works hard for the money! ha.

We knew the direction of the Edinburgh Castle (obviously not hard to miss) and as we walked toward it we walked through a small garden area and saw the Scott Monument, which was right behind the old man bagpiper.

Continuing our walk we got a good glimpse of Waverley Bridge between Old Town and New Town...

a bottom view looking up at the castle above (top right corner),...

a cute glimpse of some quaint Scottish homes,...

and lastly at the end of this steep climb, the entrance of Edinburgh Castle.

It was not one of my favourite castles, but it did offer a beautiful view of this part of Scotland and the Firth-of-Forth.

And what's a proper castle without cannons, statues, and guard booths?

After lunch inside the castle walls we walked down the famous Royal Mile where there were loads of stores selling kilts and cashmere. It was a fun little atmosphere and funny to see really nice stores selling really nice expensive kilts. I can't imagine grown men shopping for skirts. :)

Along the Royal Mile we saw St. Giles Cathedral and the statue of Duke Buccleuch.

We took a quick detour from the mile to take a picture of where Harry Potter began.

I totally walked in just so I can say I was inside the very cafe J.K. Rowling started it all. Don't you wish Hogwarts was real?? Seriously! Such amazing books! Love them.

At the end of the mile we saw the Palace of Holyroodhouse. We didn't go inside, but we enjoyed it from afar.

We then looped around and did a lot more walking back to the city centre. We took it easy so Natalie could continue her nap in the buggy and so Marisa could stop and smell the flowers, literally. We stop many, many times during our long walks on all of our holidays because of her. She is pretty pokey. But isn't this what life is all about? Stopping to smell the roses? Taking it easy and enjoying life's little moments? Thanks Marisa for the constant reminder.

You can see so much during a simple walk in Scotland. We even saw many people trekking along toward the edge of Arthur's Seat. I'm sure the view is incredible at the top.

Aside from the stark Medieval architecture we also saw a huge Greek architecture influence.

I don't know all the history details, but Tim says that Edinburgh is considered to be the "Athens of the North".  I didn't take a picture of it but we also saw the National Monument which was intended to be a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, but only the west side was completed before funds ran out leading it to be known as "Scotland's Shame".

Right at the top of the road we took another steep walk up Calton Hill where we saw the famous Dugald Stewart Monument. This is where we plopped ourselves near the edge and ate grapes while overlooking the city again. It was such a quiet atmosphere and the view was so lovely.

Once Natalie woke up we walked some more to see the The Balmoral Hotel, which is where J.K. Rowling finished the 7th book of Harry Potter. Wikipedia wrote, "Rowling left a signed statement written on a marble of bust of Hermes in her room saying; 'JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (552) on 11th Jan 2007.'" I wonder how much that room costs now!

At this point is was nearing dinner time and we had seen everything we really needed to see. BUT, we can't leave Scotland without eating Haggis!

Tim ordered it for his meal and I just tried a couple of bites. I'll let you click on the link to see what it is. I shouldn't have read what it is before hand because I wanted to barf at the sound of it, but I have to try it. I'm in Scotland! It wasn't bad at all. I had chicken pie though for my meal which was yummy in my tummy on this cold day in Edinburgh.


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