Our Little Prince

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Our Little Princess

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tower of London

I know... it's half term.  And, it's stunningly beautiful outside.  Sunny and mid 60s.  I have a great idea!  Let's hop on the tube and go see the poppies at the Tower of London.


I did manage to get a few photos hopefully including one of the kids AND the poppies.  That said, my photos can in no way match some of these...

Tower of London Poppies

I'll try to get my photos off the camera and online soon...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Making Plans

All things told... I live a pretty good life.  Here we are with tickets booked for all sorts of exotic and not so exotic locations.  Seriously folks... over the course of one month our little foursome will be in London, Rome, Paris, Dallas, Toledo, and Austin.  Not too shabby.  I do have to admit that the first three locations seem to have a bit more je ne sais quoi.  Ha.  But -- since the latter three contain friends and family, we'll happily visit them too.  And -- since when am I known to turn down good BBQ and Tex Mex?  Yeah... right??

The kids are all settled in school and flourishing.  I know I say it often, but London really suits us.  The house is old and quirky and comes with a strange set of issues, but we're learning to deal and work around them.  School is going quite well.  Wren loves being in Reception.  She's really taking to reading and writing which isn't surprising - little birdie has been talking non-stop for 3 years already.  Atticus does well with the structure and pace of school here as well.  There isn't enough time for him to get bored because there is always something new and the academic pace is faster than the States from all I can tell.  I'll have to chat with some friends when we're in town just to see what's the same and what's different!!  But - whatever it is, everyone seems happy which works for me.

I had considered adding in some extra curricular activities for the kids, but because they do so much through the school, we've decided to just leave things at status quo.  Atticus is already doing running club, swimming, karate, tennis, rugby and French through the school.  Wren has ballet, swimming, violin, general gym time and French.  I think we'd be hard pressed to find so many things at the local elementary school at home??

Greg is still not thrilled at work, but it comes and goes in waves.  We are due to have dinner with a partner from the NYC office soon which will be a nice change of pace.  We're trying to get away for the weekend to use some of the bonus Eurostar tickets from last year, but we haven't been able to make it work just yet.  The biggest downside to not having family in London!!!

Not much else on a grand scale to report.  In random daily news - the neighborhood cat that my kids adore, Jango, decided to show us some appreciation this morning for the treats and the brushing that we do.  He opted to catch, kill and destroy a poor bird in our garden this morning.  Thank goodness it was after the kids had checked on him and Greg and I were able to get them out of the house and off to school before they noticed the carnage.  Greg was on clean up duty during the school run and I'm still trying to figure out if I should go out again and try to pick up more of the feathers!  Ewwwwwwww.  Not my favorite token of appreciation.

No... if you're looking to show me the love, I prefer these fine things:

Grenson Shoes
Barbour Jackets

or perhaps one of these:
Bobbin Bicycles

Alas...I don't think the cat can afford those fine tokens.  Oh well.  Let's just hope he avoids bringing us any more carnage.  I'm not sure my stomach can handle it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wait, wait, wait.. It's September?

Exactly how in the world is it September?

Sigh... and I was doing so well with the posting (or so I thought)!!

Well, let's see.. I can at least fill you in on the past couple of weeks.  :)  I have two school children.  That's right.  Both kids are now in school from 8:45 AM to 3:15 PM.  Yes, it's sooner than would happen in the States.  Compulsory school starts here in the UK at age 4.  My little Birdie is in school full time.  Good news is that she's loving it.  She's hungry hungry when I pick her up and ready for bed about 6 PM -- but she's really enjoying school.

Reception here is close to Kindergarten.  And I know I've mentioned how much we love Parkgate House School -- but it's really been a great place for my two littles.  I mean, seriously - as part of the curriculum for Wren, she has ballet, violin, French lessons, art (with a proper Art teacher), swim lessons and all the usual suspects like English, Phonics, Math, Science...

Atticus is still continuing his French club lessons and has also decided to continue with tennis lessons as well.  His big news is that he was also asked to join the Running Club.  This is quite the honor since it's usually only the Year 2 kids and above that are allowed to run.  I have a sneaky suspicion that running or track and field in general is going to be his 'cup of tea'.  This is no surprise to any of you since for as long as I can remember, when someone asks me "What does Atticus like?" my answer has ALWAYS been "running".  :)  So, now that he's in Pre-Prep1 school has really picked up in intensity.  Atticus brings home a book each night to read.  He also has handwriting practice each week, a spelling test every Friday and the math homework is due to start this week!  Crazy.  School is really intense here which is why I'm so glad they also get a healthy dose of outdoor activity and sports.  Atticus started as part of his curriculum karate and rugby.  This of course is in addition to the weekly swim lessons, the continuing French and tennis and the newly added running club.  Nuts, right?  I mean -- he's the oldest in his class and he's barely 6.  It's a lot for these little ones.  Atticus is also now part of a "house" within Parkgate.  It's all very Harry Potter.  There are four houses within the school that compete for merits and house points.  Greeks, Romans, Aztecs and Egyptians.  Atti is in the Greek house.  (I'm hoping this has no influence over future decisions when he's 18 at college - haha!!)

The class sizes at Parkgate are good for all this activity however.  There are 14 kids in Wren's class and 17 in Atticus's class.  I love that because the school is small there is a ton of interaction between the grades.  The older kids help read to the littles and there are several outings where everyone can participate.

Here are some pictures from the first day of school.  The bottom picture is Wren and her friend, Marc.

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.