Thursday, May 22, 2008

There's Nothing Quite Like Family...

As mentioned in my post about our trip to London, part of my family (we missed you, Lisa and Garrick!) was just recently here for a visit. We actually didn't see a whole lot of them, even though they were in the UK for about two and a half weeks. They spent the weeks out being tourists (first week Scotland and the Lake District, second week London, Bath, Stonehenge, etc.), and the weekends with us. But the first weekend, we were being tourists ourselves (London trip), so I only had two weekends with my family. Not that I'm complaining--it was great to see them at all, and I'm really glad that they had such a great time on their vacation. It was hard to say goodbye, though!

Madeline LOVED her Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Karen. It was really neat for me to get to see her enjoying time with her relatives, and obviously bonding with them. It's been seven months since she's seen any of them, so she's changed and grown a lot since the last time they were together. I think they enjoyed seeing her funny, outgoing, strong, sweet personality blooming.

We did make one day trip with my family the weekend we were all together. We drove over to Cambridge (about an hour from here), and did the traditional punt tour along the River Cam. We were glad we'd gotten there earlier in the day, as the river was still fairly uncrowded and quiet. It was very nice.

We also went to King's College Chapel,

wandered through a market, and walked (longer than we expected) to a really nice park to have a picnic lunch. It was a good day, and it wore out Madeline!

Other than that, we just kind of hung out at our house, and enjoyed the amazing weather we were having. My poor family packed for normal UK spring weather (highs in the 60s, rainy) and instead ended up being here for near record highs (mid to upper 70s and sunny). We had to go buy them some short-sleeved shirts and shorts at Tesco! (Kind of like Walmart)

Thanks, Mom, Dad, and Karen, for making the trip out to see us! I miss you already.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Angel Sighting at Toys R Us

I've been wanting to get Madeline some play equipment for the back yard for a month or so now. With the amazing weather we were having (that has now ended, of course), my motivation was increased. I mentioned this to Bill last week Tuesday, saying that I'd like to get her something within the next week or so, and he said "How about tonight? Toys R Us is open until 8." It was probably about 6:30 at that point, but we'd already been there to see what they had, and discussed generally what we were going to get, so we didn't think it would take all that long to pick something out.

We got to the store about 7, and had made our decisions by the time they announced they were about to close the store. We checked out, and waited for them to bring out our purchases. Evidently the stock people had already left, so a bunch of other employees went back to get our things, since they wanted to leave to!

I'd already asked Bill how we were going to fit our choices (a play house and a slide) into the car, and he said we'd manage. The moment I saw the size of the first box, I knew we were in trouble. The second box was even bigger.

As four or five employees carried our two purchases out to our car for us, even Bill realized we weren't going to be able to manage. Nostalgia for his truck back home in the US was mentioned...

That's when the amazing thing happened. One of the employees, a woman named Danni (if I remember her name badge correctly), asked where we lived. I, assuming she was going to tell us if we could get our stuff delivered, told her, and her reply was: "If you don't mind waiting a few minutes while we close the store, I'll follow you home with your stuff in my car." She had a mini van, or at least what passes for one here. We were floored that she would actually volunteer to do this, but didn't have much choice but to take her up (very gratefully) on her offer! We ended up having to put BOTH boxes in her car--we couldn't get either one of them in ours, let alone both of them.

Evidently she's done this several times before--poor naive first-time parents like us get to the store, pick things out with which to spoil their kids, then realize they haven't a clue how they're going to get them home.

We tried to pay her for her time and fuel (which is insanely expensive here) and she flat-out refused. In fact, it turned into a "who's more stubborn" match. Those of you who know me will be surprised, but I actually lost. I tried sneaking the money into her car through the open window. She found it, ran and put it in our house (the door was open), then locked her car so I couldn't get back in. Yes, grown women can act a little silly some times...!

To sum up the story in two points: Madeline is very happy with her new toys, and evidently Toys R Us hires angels. I sure hope they pay them well!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

London's Calling!

My parents are in town (more on that in a later post), and after much arm-twisting (yeah, right!) agreed to babysit Madeline for Bill and I so we could go on an adults-only trip to London for a couple of days. I had been looking forward to this for MONTHS! I love my daughter, I really do. But sometimes it's good to remember what it's like to be able to do whatever you want to without worrying first about whether or not it's "Madeline-friendly." And talking to someone who can talk back in full sentences is nice, too!

We left Thursday late morning and took the train into London. We stayed at a VERY nice hotel in Kensington, which was a great neighborhood to be in--easy access to the heart of things, but nice and quiet and residential for when you want a break from the hustle and bustle. We walked around the Natural History Museum for awhile in the afternoon (free is always good...)

Supper Thursday evening was at the Texas Embassy Cantina--Bill's choice. He's been dying for some Mexican food for the past 6 months! Thursday night we went to Les Miserables!!! I've wanted to see that for years, and it was well worth the wait. Our seats were amazing--dead center and only 4 rows back from the stage. What a show! I wish I'd brought my camera. I didn't know I could...

Friday we slept in (no automatic alarm clock courtesy of Madeline!) then went into London to do some of the typical touristy things. We took a boat ride on the Thames and toured the Tower of London courtesy of Bill's parents (tickets for those things were our Christmas present from them this year).

Did some just walking around, then took the bus tour of the city--a nice way to see a little of everything.

Walked around Buckingham palace and Green Park a bit, then headed back to Kensington for supper at a nice Italian place and a movie back at the hotel.

Saturday we slept in a little, then went back into London to catch a ride on the London Eye (great view!) before going to the train station to meet my sister at noon, at which point we headed back to Peterborough together.

It was a short weekend, and there are still loads of things I'd like to do and see in London yet, but it was a great trip and so relaxing to do it sans toddler! Thanks, Mom and Dad!!


Not anymore!

Yes folks, it's true. I have (finally) left my 20s behind me. Not that they weren't good years; it's just that 30 somehow sounds more "sophisticated." The big day was the 19th of April (yes, I'm behind in posting...again!). We didn't do anything too exciting, but Bill did get me a cake. You'll notice Madeline has her fork poised and ready, and is focused and pointing right to the object of her desire. You can almost hear her little thoughts saying "CHOOOC-LATE!" Sigh. She has her mama's sweet-tooth.