Our Little Prince

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Our Little Princess

Lilypie Fifth Birthday tickers

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Kew Gardens

Last week was rather adventurous.  After our day out to Battersea Zoo, we again met up with Giuliana, Aly and my friend, Jessica to head off to Kew Gardens.

Kew is gorgeous and relaxing.  For the most part.  You can just wander these open gardens and paths and enjoy the serene green trees and along the north side of the gardens, the Thames.  I couldn't believe how quiet it was in the main section of the gardens.  I would love to go back by myself with a book and a bottle of water and find a bench tucked away somewhere and just read for a bit....

But, here we were, two adults and four kids.  Woo hoo.  We set off at first for the Treetop Walkway.  We were a little nervous about climbing 118 steps, but it was no trouble at all and completely worth it! The kids had grand fun wandering the loop and looking out across the gardens.

Then, it was off to find the Barefoot Walk.  That was not at all what I was imagining in my head.  Ha.  I knew the point was to experience different textures with your feet - but ummmmm, OUCH!  Here it is a week later and my left foot still hurts from who knows what I stepped on!!  It didn't seem to bother the kids any.... but I pulled a splinter out of my foot when we got home and my other foot still is sore.  Oy.  Next time, adults keep their shoes on!!

We stopped after the walk to enjoy a little picnic and then it was time to continue.  Next it was off to find the Climbers and Creepers area for some playground fun, a bathroom break and some more water!  What started off as a cool morning was now a HOT afternoon!

The kids found this cool tree on the way to the kids area and had fun ducking under the leaves and climbing inside.  It felt a little bit hobbit-esque to me!

Continued on and we had a good play and the kids got their faces painted.  Atticus was a green lizard, Wren went for Batgirl and Giuliana was a fairy sprite of some kind.  By this point, we were all exhausted and it was time to go home!  Whew... another London adventure checked off the list!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Battersea Zoo

Battersea Zoo is an interesting experience.  You're paying for the playground as much as you are the actual animals.  Actually, you're paying more for the playground than the animals.  And that's OK funny enough.

Our favorite babysitter in London has a part-time job at the zoo, but unfortunately she was off the day we decided to go.

No worries, we still had fun.  We met Wren's bestie, Giules and her family along with another new Canadian friend and her two littles.  We watched the otters have lunch.  We peered in and learned about the meerkats.  And then we played.  Hours and hours of playtime in the sand/water play area as well as the jungle gyms and other climby structures.  By the time we were leaving, I was exhausted and I'd been sitting on a picnic blanket for the most part!  The kids were happily exhausted which was the best.

We stopped at the peace pagoda on the way out of the park....

Friday, August 1, 2014

Atticus Turns 6

A fairly mellow day considering the chaos (and fun) of his birthday party!  Atticus wanted to go to Westfield Mall to visit the LEGO store to build a pack of three figures and to Five Guys for dinner.  Here are a few photos from in the garden, waiting for the tube and at dinner.  :)

Hard to believe this little man is 6 years old.  He has a heart of gold, a love for people and helping others and he's generally a really good kid.  I know I tease about locking him in the Tower of London on occasion, but for now -- I'll keep him.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wren's Ear Drama

Poor Birdie.  For reasons unknown, she got bad ears.  We finallygot a referral (and subsequent appointment) with an ENT at the local hospital.  This after her ear drum burst in April and has yet to heal.

The entire experience was just a bit odd as an expat.  The hospital wings seemed to be pieced together in a haphazard way.  We entered through the instructed wing door and walked along a corridor for a while.  Then, there was a large open area with what appeared to be an information desk of sorts along with rows of chairs like you'd find at the local DMV.  There were people scattered throughout the seating and no one to be seen at the desk.  I did notice a scrolling billboard that was instructing people with ticket number 8 to head to room 3 (or something along those lines).  I stared blankly at a woman in the seats and she pointed to a black box that spit out tickets.  After I procured my ticket and sat back down, I noticed a smaller sign with an arrow pointing to ENT something or another.  On a whim, I decided to see if that was where we were supposed to be instead...

We found the door into the ENT area and again walked past an empty desk to a section of chairs facing a moving billboard.  Again, looking around blankly, a gentleman walked by and told us to have a seat because there wouldn't be anyone in until 9 am.  Strange... my appointment was supposed to be at 9 am.  A few other people trickled in - of all ages - which I found a bit odd since I was 99% sure we were supposed to be seeing a pediatric ENT!

Alas, we finally were called back by an audiologist for a hearing test.  First thing to note - Wren was asked to sit on my lap in a chair placed in front of a desk with a laptop.  No soundproof booths here.  The audiologist tried to get a pressure reading - but both ears failed.  No surprise.  We couldn't get readings in NYC either.  Then Wren was given headphones and asked to move bears from one bucket to the other when she heard a noise.  Good thing it was Wren and not me doing the test - because I could see the audiologist pushing the button on the keyboard and then looking directly at Wren???  Ugh.  Apparently she passed almost flawlessly - which means once again we have NO idea why she's so freaking loud.  I keep being told she can hear just fine!

Back to the waiting room before seeing the ENT.  I don't remember her name - something Greek.  :)  She had a good look and said she wanted to use a small "hoover" to remove the tubes (that were sitting in the canal) and some of the extra gunk that had accumulated to get a better view.  Wren was a champ. We got to see the tubes and oddly enough, the tube in her right ear was an actual tube (this is the ear that had issues during the second round of tubes in NYC) and her left ear had more of a grommet looking thing.

Essentially, both ears still have perforated ear drums, the right ear is slightly worse than the left.  And, there's not really much that can be done when the child is so young.  There are some patches that can be done to the ear drum where the doctors use a small piece of cartilage from the ear itself and then hope the ear drum reforms around the patch... but they don't recommend the surgery for someone as young as Wren.  The surgery has a fairly high success rate in kids closer to age 8-10.  That seems like a life time away.

In the meantime, we're supposed to get a call for custom ear plugs to be worn in the bath, around sprinklers, when swimming, etc etc.  The doctor told us not to keep her from any of the normal kid activities -- but I admit I'm a bit weary of the swimming!  If the ear infections continue, then we'll have to consider doing the surgery sooner rather than later -- but for now, it's just a wait and see.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Today was hot.  Funny how my definition of hot has changed.  It's mid 80s.  But -- when there isn't air conditioning anywhere, it seems really freaking hot!

So, in search of an indoor activity that wouldn't be overly crowded, we headed to the cinema for the kids' second ever real movie experience.  Movie tickets are insanely expensive.  For the three of us, it was £26 for a 3pm showing.  That's $45!  For one adult and two kids?!?  Good grief.  No wonder we normally wait and watch things at home!!

But, we saw How To Train Your Dragon 2 in 3D and the kids loved it.  I loved it.  It was rather fun.  And, we got to ride the bus there and back.  Always an adventure to be had!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Photo Management

For most of my adult life I've used a PC.  A couple years ago, we switched my home laptop to a MacBook Pro.  When that happened, all of my beautifully organized photos from Picasa went haywire.  I blame my husband.  Not sure why - just seems like a reasonable place to lay blame.  :)  Yes, I have Picasa on my Mac -- but I also have iPhoto.  And I have apparently 12 copies of some pictures.  1 copy of others.  And they are so disorganized it's making me nuts.

I decided to start tackling the issue so that I could update the blog more regularly with photos.  I mean, it shouldn't be this difficult. Google now owns Picasa and Blogger.  It shouldn't be so complicated to get a freaking photo of video inserted into my blog.

I'll keep working on it.  Right now, I've been organizing my iPhoto pictures back into Picasa albums.  Then, I'm trying to sync my albums with my web albums but it's not allowing me to upload any video clips.  I mean, I CAN put them into YouTube (also Google) but why?  I want them inside my web albums.  Ugh.

Rant over.  I'll keep trying.  More photos and hopefully video soon.

Quiet Week

Not much happened last week.  Well, not much it terms of getting out and about around London.  We went to the common almost every day.  We had friends over for a play date.

Oh... and our refrigerator decided to stop working.  Ugh.  The fan had been making a bit of an unusual noise for a day or so.  I'd even sent a note to the landlord letting her know there was a bit of an odd sound, but so far -- that was our only indication something was not on the up an up.  Then, we came downstairs on Tuesday morning and blam-O -- no fridge.  And it was due to be the hottest week yet of 2014.  Seriously?  On the upside, it appeared only the fridge was affected.  The freezer was still going nice and strong.  The silver lining because, as we discovered the fridge at about 8 am -- I already had a grocery delivery scheduled for 11 am that day!

Thank goodness for neighbors with coolers and ice packs and for our dear friends, the Verhilles.  They were prepping to travel at the end of the week and had a relatively sparse fridge.  And they live literally around the corner.  I packed up my wheelie trolley and carted over a ton of food to their house.  And the landlord (and her Dad) were quite helpful and had an under the counter fridge delivered that afternoon to tide us over until our main fridge can be repaired.

The good news - the part that failed is a common/known issue.  The bad news - it's common and apparently the parts are on back order until who knows when.  Boo.

So - a rather mundane post.  Sorry about that.  :) More soon from the birthday weekend, which was pretty calm too....