Monday, November 4, 2013

the month of october. part 1

we have been busy. life has been rushing around us and things have not slowed down. sometimes, i like that. right now, i have a rare quiet moment.

joel has taken both girls to church, and left me home to rest. he said, "church is a place of healing. you should go. we can pray for you. or you can keep your sickness to yourself and we can still pray for you." i thought that was a good idea. 

october completely disappeared off of my radar, and i feel like i almost missed halloween. october is usually my favorite month of all, and this one was no exception, just not exactly the way i generally like to spend it-making things out of pumpkin, make pumpkin crafts, pumpkinpumpkinpumpkin. for the record, it is not punkin. and watching cheesy halloween movies. like halloweentown 1-4 and hocus pocus and burnign pumpkin and apple candles and covering my house in leaves. that kind of stuff. 

this october, we were hardly home and when we were we weren't really, because we had visitors. so a quick recap of our manic october....and go....

my grandma and my cousin came to visit! 

on their first night here, we took them to volksfest, which is the second largest beer festival in the world, behind munich's oktoberfest. 

that whole week was a whirlwind of going and seeing and doing! we saw the largest cuckoo clock in germany and went to daschau, a former concentration camp, and hung out in munich until a crazy lady followed us around screaming about how cora was going to freeze to death. that was....interesting, to say the very least. especially since it was like 60 degrees, and she was wearing 3 layers of clothes. but that's a story for another time.

a day after my family left, we hopped a plane for LONDON!! i have been wanting to go to london for as long as i can remember, so this was basically a trip of a lifetime for me. 

i'll try to contain myself to 5 points on why this trip was amazeballs.

1. they speaka my language. yes, i said it. my favorite thing about london was quite possibly that i knew what everyone was saying! i didn't realize how much my brain ached constantly living here until it didn't all of a sudden. i think i was probably more pleasant over the week we were in the UK than i have been in the last year+. don't get me wrong, i LOVE germany. but it was like watching a 3d movie for a year and then taking off the glasses. my brain just got a chance to rest. i understood street signs without having to think too hard, i could communicate EXACTLY what i was trying to say, and could even hang out and talk to other parents at the playground without feeling like i was going to say "your child looks like a donkey" instead of "what a cute kid". 

2. two words. harry potter. i am a little embarrassed to admit that. i mean, london is so full of history and all that amazing stuff (which will be my next point!), but seeing all of the harry potter sights made me giddy like a little girl. 

which may be why this picture almost made me cry. bless my sweet husband for taking it. but seriously, take like 500 pictures. and zoom in! and call bella! i had to stand in line for this! i almost bought the picture in the gift shop but for £8 (which is about $12!) i hoped seriously that the free picture on my ipad would suffice. that's ok. when their official photographer took the picture, that other guy threw the scarf in the air and we jumped and it looked like we were.....well...jumping in the air holding onto a cart halfway in the wall. it was still fun. 

also, if you are a HP fan and going to london and don't want to pay for a tour, 

Send an email to 

write something in the body and the subject (like, i want the free tour please!) and they will auto reply back with a download of a self guided walking tour pdf that you can print and highlight, laminate and hole punch, then carry around and force your family to follow you. i'm not saying that happened. 

3. HISTORY!!! this is the common thread of all the things i love about europe. the history is so rich and full. and disturbing. seriously. some strange crap happened in europe...beheadings and torture and something called "hung, drawn and quartered" which i did not need to hear about....3 times. england had a sick sense of entertainment, and honestly, people who think our reality tv show addiction is sick need to take a history class. it could be much worse. 

but every cobblestone and every corner has a million stories. and i just loved it. in each city we have visited, one of the first things we do is take a free walking tour, given by this company. it is free, they just ask that you tip the amount you felt it was worth. they are thorough and entertaining, and honestly, better than any paid tour we have been on. on our london tour, we hit westminster abbey, parliament and big ben (where we learned how the bell got it's name and that big ben does not refer to the tower, but the bell!), and buckingham palace, among other really cool places.

4. double decker buses and red phone booths! why? i don't know. maybe because they SCREAM london (apparently, they scream "the uk!" because they are also in scotland....) and i am totally a nerd who got my picture with both! 

5. the arts! (that are in a language i understand!) from Shakespeare to sherlock holmes, to all of the theatres (we stayed in the west end, behind The Old Vic-where james earl jones and venessa redgrave were starring in much ado about nothing, and across the street from a pub called The Stage Door), i was pleasantly surprised how steeped in the arts london was. that may sound like i have been living on another planet my whole life. i mean, i knew london had a big art scene, i just didn't realize how big. it was like walking through a small NYC. 
Shakespears's Globe Theatre

i know i said i would stop at 5, but.....well....i just loved it too much. but i will keep it simple! pictures! yay! 

The walkability of the city is GREATLY enhanced by these. everywhere. it tells you where you are, what is within a 5 minute walk and is oriented to the things around it. and they are EVERYWHERE. they are brilliant. we were never lost (we don't get lost a lot, but will occasionally miss things or go the long way) and i think we we able to see more because we would be standing next to something really awesome, and could look on the map and figure out what it was (aka the back side of westminster abbey!) 
at the end of a particularly crazy day (both girls were in tears for the majority of the morning, and it rained big fat rain drops for 3 hours, during our walking tour), we were walking back home (2 blocks from the london eye, mind you!) and passed this. we had been telling bella she couldn't ride it because we had places to go, but we were going home, so we stopped and we all got on. as the sun set over the thames, we rode round and round, giggling partly at the absurdity of the day and partly at the fact that we all looked like we had just been rescued from a sewer. it was a magical moment that was completely unplanned. 

this was way cooler than i even thought it would be. on our last day, we did the "queen's walk" from the eye to the tower bridge, then crossed it, to the tower of london, and then took a water taxi back to the eye. it was all just fun. 

very easily bella's favorite thing. every time we walked passed it (every day) bella would say, "can we do the eye again!?!?!"

we were in the UK for 9 days total, and spent 4 in London. on the 5th day of our trip, we hopped on a train to Edinburgh. this post is long enough for now, so i think it has just become a 2 parter. stay tuned! 

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