Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Happenings, Part 1

Christmas Happenings in our corner of England ...

Since we were planning to be in London for Thanksgiving*, we put up our Christmas tree the week before Thanksgiving and we've enjoyed every minute of it!  This was our first year with an artificial tree and we haven't regretted the switch one bit.  From garage to fully assembled, it was hardly thirty minutes, and it was pre-lit!!  It was fun to focus on the ornaments and snacks instead of stabilizing the tree and stringing lights for an hour while the kids grow more impatient by the minute!

The lower half of the tree ended up being heavily decorated with the non breakable ornaments and Bard hung the others near the top.  I thought I'd go back and more evenly distribute the ornaments layered on at the little boys' height, but they enjoyed them being at their eye level so much that we left them there.  The only problem we had was the low ceilings of our English house meant our tree barely squished in and we didn't have any room left for Memaw's angel.

Our kids love dressing up and we had so much fun reenacting the Christmas Story.  Emerson took his shepherd part seriously with a PVC staff and small dagger tucked into his belt.  Jackson was the innkeeper and backup shepherd and Mary and Joseph filled in as extra angels :)  I got the part of Caesar Augustus and the main angel.

Grandma's first Christmas box arrived in early December and was met with much excitement!  She made each of them a Christmas themed book with lots of coloring and puzzles. 

They each got a stocking with their letter on it.  It was like Christmas morning watching them discover crayons, markers, paint, window crayons, stickers ...

The little guys got nativity ornaments to color ...

A unanimous favorite was definitely the flashlights!

I think these were meant to be straws, but our kids much preferred the high pitched whistle that comes out when you blow them :)

The next day was rainy and gray and provided the perfect backdrop for the hours of fun the kids had with their new books and art supplies.  It was a wonderful day! 

Emerson loved his window crayons ...

He wasn't the only one ....

Jackson has just recently picked up writing his letters and used this paint set up in one day!  (hint, hint, Grandma :)

Oh, markers, wonderful markers!!

At night, the drawings from the window crayons really brightened up the house ... especially since it gets dark at 4:00.  

The next day while the big kids used the stickers to decorate Christmas cards, Emerson decorated his face :)

And one more, because that face is just too cute!!

 * ah, Thanksgiving ... we made it to London, but didn't last for long as the little boys got sick.  We returned home Friday morning and one by one we battled through the flu that lasted for a week and a half.  Oh boy, a week we'd prefer to forget!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Labor Day in London

We're back, and on the other side of our move! Boxes, boxes, everywhere, oh, and the big surprise we discovered when unpacking ... but that's for another post. We love our little village, although three weeks without internet or phone was a little challenging, not to mention isolating! So now that we've caught up with grandmas on both coasts, we're back to the blog. We had planned to be in London this weekend with my brother and his family who are visiting, but the stomach bug came for a visit as well! So let's relive our last trip to London over Labor Day weekend when we visited our dear friends, Steve and Lisa Messersmith and their lovely family!

We took the train from Cheltenham to Padding Station. Train travel is so fun, isn't it? There were activity packets on the train for the children that were all about Paddington Bear and his adventures. After an uneventful trip we arrived in London and made our way to the Underground to find that our line was closed for construction!

I must say we did pretty well navigating the tube. We had a few pieces of luggage, the bigger kids walking, and the little guys on the double stroller. It was nice being able to get them quickly on and off the tube on the stroller, but we did run into some challenges with the stairs and escalators. With a little ingenuity, we arrived unscathed!

Bro. Steve met us at the Underground station just a few minutes walk from their church. Wow! They have a beautiful building that I did not do justice to in these few pictures. We were too busy catching up to get any more.

Charles Spurgeon and his son, both had a part in forming this church, amazing, isn't it?

We enjoyed a wonderful Sunday with them and I was more than happy to fill in for their pianist, who was away. The people at Chiswick Baptist (pronounced Chiz-ik, just so you know :) were so friendly nd treated us like honored guests. The Filipino ladies of the church cooked the most amazing dinner, oh my! I'm so dissapointed we'll be missing that tomorrow.

We had a wonderful time eating, talking, and laughing with Steve and Lisa and the kids couldn't have been more happy to be together. It's not often that we get together with a family that has more kids than we do. The Messersmith six are the sweetest kids you'd want to meet. Most of the pictures I tried to take ended up looking like this ... a bunch of bouncing kids and Emily, always serene in the midst of chaos :)

Now on to those darling kids ...


Jacob ... to their credit, I snapped these two at the park, so they were in full play mode :)

serene Emily :)

Bard, Zachary and the apples he picked

Jacob, again :)

cutie Micah

you would not believe how excited this grown man got over the Goodyear blimp :)


There was a LOT of crazy boy play in that short weekend!

"Why, Lissy, you're twirling just like a princess?"
"That's because I am a princess."
"Well, of course!"

and their amazing mother, Lisa, what a sweet lady, so sad to miss our weekend together :( She let me eat spoonfuls of Nutella out of her jar all weekend and never said a word. Really, that's the measure of a true friend, isn't it?

oops, afraid I caught her mid bite, but such a nice picture anyway. She so graciously gave up her room for us to sleep in. She is beautiful on the inside and out! I hope I have a daughter like her one day :)

On Sunday night we had kebabs ... oh my, yum! This was a new food for me, but we've tracked down a couple of kebab shops in Cheltenham since. They cook the meat and then shave it off and pile it on top of an open pita with a bunch of yummy veggies on top and some great sauce. Yum! We can't wait to go back to London to see our sweet friends and I'm sure we'll get around to seeing some sights one of these trips. It's nice to not have pressure to do everything at once.

Don't forget to ....

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tall Ships Festival, Part 1

I've resigned myself to the fact that blogger is possessed. I've been working on this post for a week!! Blogger has eaten my pictures, my text, refuses to upload pictures, and won't save anything. So ... for better or worse, here's part one of a mish-mash post about the Tall Ships Festival ... there are actually some tall ships in the next post ... grrrr.

It's been a couple of weeks since we went to the Tall Ships Festival in Gloucester. On a side note, after spending my whole life stumbling through nursery rhymes, I finally know how to pronounce "Gloucester." Now on to other mysteries of the world ....

We took the double-decker bus to Gloucester, which the kids were so excited about. They called it the double-duggar bus ;) The day started out clear, but before we knew it we were heading inside the National Waterways Museum to escape the rain. The museum told all about the complex canal systems constructed throughout England. They were used to distribute goods brought into Gloucester Port. It was quite interesting!

It's been neat seeing so many places with names we recognize from home. Reminds us of where we came from, I guess. I spent many an afternoon cooling off in the Severn Run (sort of like a creek/stream) as a teenager.

There were some neat displays about the family's who lived in boats on the canals and the kids' enjoyed the dress up area.

This picture is quite blurry, but it shows not only how much fun the kids had using the pulleys to lift these heavy bags, but also how many people stop and use our kids' antics for their own enjoyment and entertainment :)

This laundry basket would be perfect for our house!

Emerson's experience with the pulleys!! (No two year old heads were injured during this experience.)

Kids playing with the miniature canal boats.

This one made me stop and think for a minute ... candy cotton? Not so much .. maybe it's supposed to remind you to floss after you eat it?

Part two ... tall ships

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