I have really felt the need to record some of what we have been up to - for my own sanity mostly since I can feel my memory slipping away (I read an article recently about the damage fragmented sleep does to your memory. I guess I knew it, but it is either comforting or scary - not sure which - to see the research). Life is passing by so fast that I can't keep up. I am scared I will forget all the wonderful things that have happened, or not do justice to the milestones and things the kids have done. Right now I feel so frantically busy that I hardly know what I am doing until the night before because I am still catching up. I think I'll go back to around the New Year and go from there with a whirlwind summary...feel free to stop reading now, but at least I will have it recorded.
Sophie turned 4!
New Year's Eve we picked my mom up from the London airport after a wonderful Christmas (with a new trampoline that "Santa" set up without instructions until around 4am). After picking up my Mom (she had been delayed 24 hours) we took her home for a shower and then drove straight to Paris. We had a wonderful New Year there, saw some of the city and then celebrated Sophie's fourth birthday at Disneyland Paris with lunch with the Princesses. It was truly magical, and so much fun to watch her light up with excitement for her special day. At four (4 1/2 now) Sophie is still the wonderful happy girl she has always been. With disappointment she collapses with true sadness, but otherwise has a huge smile. I remember even when she was a tiny infant in NYC I called her "smiles" because she always had one - what a gift to me! She loves princesses, make believe, creating things, painting, dancing, and music. She has music in her soul, and seems to hardly be able to keep herself from dancing, singing, or clapping when she hears music. She is particularly good at the robot dance. She loves nursery school and is doing great there. This fall she will start big school at Sheen Mount and she is very excited.
Edison turned 7!
After returning from France we planned a Star Wars birthday party for Edison. He was really into the Jedi Training theme. Andy got beat up in his hockey pads by about 15 6-7 year olds with light sabers before they moved on to the Darth Vader head pinata I had made. It is always an adventure to have that many young kids at our house. Edison is still doing great in school, he is becoming quite a good reader and enjoys maths. He has some good friends, the best of which is sadly moving to Australia soon. Edison really likes chess club, and his swimming lessons and among other things loves star wars, lego, and making Annabelle laugh. He is such a great big brother and really has a sweet spot for Bella. She can make him laugh harder than I've ever seen him laugh. He just lost his second tooth. We can hardly believe how fast he is growing up. The time passes so quickly.
Thanks to my fantastic mother and wonderful friend Amy, Andy's gracious work, and some frequent flyer miles I got to go along with Andy to Hawaii - without the kids. I have to admit I did miss them a little at times, but it was such a incredibly relaxing break. Hawaii was even more gorgeous than I imagined, and I felt more relaxed, pampered, and luxurious than I have ever felt. It was a dream to get to spend that time with Andy in such a beautiful place. We had so much fun snorkeling (with sea turtles!), driving around, taking pictures, laying on the beach - for hours, playing in the waves, sitting in a floating bean bag in an infinity pool overlooking the ocean with the sun on my face and a drink in my hand...ok, on to the next post before I lose myself in those great memories.
One last trip with Mom before she went home from her wonderful visit. We really love Wales, and took her to one or favorites - Tintern Abbey - and a new one for us - Chepstow Castle. We were so gratetful to Mom for helping us so much and giving up so much time to be here with us. Can't wait for the next visit!
This trip wasn't one of our best planned. After booking the hotel we found out from many British friends that Sunderland was not a site to see - unless you are an industrial businessman maybe. It was also a couple hours further away than we thought. We found quite a few castles closed and the weather was cold and rainy (that wasn't really a surprise). On the upside it had a hotel that fit our whole family, breakfast in the room, and a swimming pool which all three make for a great vacation wherever we are. Some of our great friends came along too, which made it even better. And it was amazing to climb around on walls and ruins from nearly 2000 years ago.
Ah, thanks so much to Andy for pushing me to go and watching the kids. I had an unforgettable time with my Mom and sister in Italy. So much I could write about those few days - great visits, alone on the flights (such a gift when I'm used to flying with kids), amazing sites, great company, seeing my sister sing mass at St Peters Basilca!...but on to the rest of the year so far - just to let you know, we are in March now.
The kids always have a long break in April, and it was so nice to get to spend that time with family. We never want to go home after family visits, and wonder why we're so far away. We were almost there long enough for the birth of their newest cousin, Francis!
Visit from Doug and Linda
Luckily after leaving some family, more family came to visit. This visit was such a gift. We really don't like being so far away, and just treasured the time while Doug and Linda and family were here. Edison was in heaven with boy cousins around - and Annabelle grew to really love Eric. Sad to see them go, and looking forward to our next visit. Thanks for coming guys!!!
The kids had a break from school, so we decided to get out of town for a couple of days. Aside from what must have been food poisoning for me (the first day of our trip is still fuzzy), it was fantastic. Fountains Abbey was gorgeous and we had a great time on a hike in the Peak District. The kids were amazing hikers, and the view breathtaking. It was really nice just to get away and have family time.
Annabelle turned 2!
The time has really flown by. I can't believe it has been two years since we made the little drive through Richmond Park to Kingston Hospital. She is really a determined little ball of energy. At times really sweet, but she has a little temper too, and definitely holds her own with her siblings. She is already talking very well, loves animals and babies, wants to do everything by herself, and makes us all laugh. A couple of her funny phrases right now are "ta da!" and "SURPRISE" mostly because of the actions that accompany them.
In March we were given a letter that said we had the option to buy our old house, and that if we didn't buy it, we would have to move out. We weren't excited about this move. The rent prices have all gone up, and we were finally feeling a bit settled (which is somewhat unusual for us). Buying was sort of an option, but we didn't feel good about that. Maybe if we had a couple hundred thousand pounds extra for a good down payment. Anyway the search began and we finally found a place just around the corner. In fact the back garden has a gate that opens right onto our old street, so one of Annabelle's birthday presents was a red wagon - and we moved 6 days later. The wagon proved to be invaluable, and we lugged stuff down the street, in the gate, up the garden, and into the house for 4 days. It was exhausting, and there is no way we could have done it without our friend Amy who stayed with us and helped with everything. Thank you Amy!! After moving in, the kids seemed to immediately feel at home. Edison got his own room and the girls were excited to share. Edison's room is small enough that to make everything fit we cut out the bottom bed of the bunk he and Sophie had been using. Now he has space for toys, books, and a desk. The girls now have their own land of princesses, babies, ponies, and pink! For me - the house has much more storage space which I love! We are really happy here - so in the end, the move was great.
Andy's colleague and friend got married in Germany, so we took a weekend trip to Limburg. A beautiful small city with a church on top of the hill - what a wonderful experience. There is still some added extra charm about the continent. Maybe partly the adventure of another language. We were barely moved in when this trip came, but it was a nice break from the organizing and moving.
Andy told you about this here: http://wellies.buteau.org/2011_07_01_archive.html
It was the day after we got back from Germany, and less than a month after we moved. I'm not sure I was keeping up anymore, and maybe barely sane.
I was incredibly excited for the summer break. I was exhausted, struggling to keep up with all the kids clubs, lessons, school meeting, moves, trips, and everything else. So far it had still been cold and rainy, but then just after the kids let out in July we had some beautiful weather. I tried to stay outside everyday we could - and plan as little as possible. Those 3 weeks flew by, and we were on our way to Italy and then the US.
This is where I'll stop, hoping to do a separate post about Italy. I know I haven't quite caught up, but it is the "impossible" catch up. If you made it this far I am amazed. I feel better having recorded some of this. This is such a wonderful time for all the kids - learning so much, changing fast, laughing, seeing new places...Sometimes I feel like I will never make it through and other times I feel like I will blink and it will all be gone. I am so incredibly grateful for my family (thanks to Andy for keeping me sane). Both my little family here and my extended family on both sides who I miss all the time and to which I want to be closer. I am loving our time here in London. The adventures and opportunities it brings are priceless. Give me sunshine and instant travel and I might really feel settled.