Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cheerio Darling!

 In the grand scheme of the need for gainful employment to support a family, there are upsides, and then there are downsides.  Upside: money.  Downside: dealing with money.  Downside: recurrent traveling to distant lands for long stretches of time.  Upside:  frequent flier miles.  Downside:  many hours spent on a plane.  Upside: using frequent flier miles for purposes other than work.  Like flying your wife to London and Cambridge so she can join you on an exotic, once-in-a-lifetime, routine-altering excursion!

That's me, I'm the wife who got to do that. Can you believe it?  Ryan and I got to travel to London and Cambridge, alone!  Without kids!  With lots of sleeping!  With many meals enjoyed at restaurants where we sat uninterrupted through our entire meal, from the beginning to the end.  I ate most of my food hot!  Unless, or course, it was not intended to be hot.  

Here's a brief synopsis.  I like brevity when writing.  If you'd like a detailed, blow by blow narrative, give me call and I would be glad to keep you occupied for some time. 


Judging by the view out the window, you can see we had pretty nice digs in London. Just past that beautiful Renaissance Hotel, was King's Cross Station, so we were very central.  

As you turn the camera around, the reality of our room comes into view.  Sweet.  Bunk beds are the best when you are enjoying a vacation alone with your spouse.

Here is the spread at The Orangery, where we enjoyed high tea when we arrived in London.  This tea room is at Kensington Gardens, right by Kensington Palace.  

Seriously, the best tea I've ever had.  It was absolutely delicious,  we each drank our entire pot.  And ate orange cake (of course) and carrot cake, yum.

King's Cross station was all decked out for the olympics next year.  That train station is pretty impressive.  It feels like the crossroads for the whole U.K. that it is.

Victorian Albert Museum.  

One of the guys at the Victorian Albert.  I think he's been growing that mustache since they put him in there.

The art lit room at the museum.  So cool, so overwhelming.  So all-encompassing.

 A little Chihuly in the foyer of the buildling.  Chihuly is the best.  I wish I could go to Venice and see his "Chihuly over Venice" display.  His glass sculptures are lit and hung over the canals and you can enjoy them as a gondoleer gently navigates your way.

A classic London shot.  Harrods is way in the background.  The double decker bus is there.  I'm there.  I'm not quite as classics as the other elements though.

If you happen to go to London, you should make it your highest priority to go to Ben's Cookies.  You will never look back.  You will only want to revisit Ben's Cookies and get every variety as often as you can.

Ryan enjoying "the tube."  London has the best and easiest public transit system ever.  Plus, they announce the stops with British accents, and happen to be saying names like "Piccadilly circus" or "Paddington station."  It's so amusing, although I think I was the only one who got a kick out of repeating the announcer in my best British accent.  Other riders looked like Ryan most of the time.

The spread at Harrods.  Harrods is like Nordstrom on steroids.   It's a beautiful place to shop.  Or in my case, window-shop.  Unless I'm buying chocolate, then I'm on board for the whole experience.

The royal borough of Chelsea and Kensington.  A.K.A., really beautiful flats in London.  Which, as we researched, go from 8,000 to 40,000 pounds a week!  Yes, I said week.


Cambridge University located in Cambridge UK is made up of several colleges.  These are the dorms from one of the colleges.  Look at those dorms!  So classy and beautiful!

The River Cam runs through Cambridge and lends itself to boating, strolling, and lots of cute little ducks.  I expected James Herriot to pop around the corner with his dog on lead any minute.  

King's College.  The most spectacular college campus you'll ever admire.  The chapel here is where I attended Eucharist.  The service was incredibly beautiful.  The acoustics in this ancient and awe-inspiring building left me breathless and struck with the need to close my eyes to do the sound justice.  

This picture was taken my last evening in Cambridge.  Although maybe not the most technically beautiful or perfect picture, the shot captures a personal feeling for me.  This vacation was like a serene patch of beauty on a sometimes rocky path of life.  We all encounter little, or very big, identity crises at some point along our paths, so I know my own little struggle with who I am was not a singular one.   As I boarded the plane to leave the charm of the U.K. behind, I felt a refreshed connection to Ryan, my children, and my own identity in a way I haven't for quite some time. 

Thank you to Ryan for working, flying, consulting, and all those other things you do to make this trip possible. And following my every whim as we bashed around London.  And for being so handsome. 

Thank you to the lady in Dallas who changed my flight last minute so I could go. (this is a great story, if you want to hear a great story, or learn how to get what you need from a delta representative over the phone, you should hear this story).

Thank you to Kerry and Karen for their amazing commitment to be surrogate parents for a whole week.  To a four-year-old and a two-year-old.  I could go on forever about what this means to me (and what it meant for them).  Thank you a million times, thank you!


Monday, September 26, 2011

The sweet return

I mean this literally and figuratively as I refer to Ryan's recent return from Holland for a business trip.  


 Mmmmmmmmm.  I'm good for chocolate for a little bit.


Kate and Ryan shared lunch in the airport upon return.  It sure was cute and sweet.  

Ryan mentioned that while Holland may boast beautiful flowers and great treats, their food doesn't even meet sub-par Chinese fast food criteria.  The memories of the food were only memorable because of their sordid nature.  Example: deep-fried gravy and noodle balls. Like McDonalds chicken nuggets, only with fish gravy inside of some and noodles inside of others.  Enough said.

Ryan has traveled a fair amount with his job.  We miss him dearly when he is gone. We love his return.  His absence reminds me how wonderful it is to have a great partner, and how great it is to have frequent flier miles! (you have to find the silver lining in these situations)

Pre-cool, As pronounced by Robby

A word or two on preschool:

1.  I love it
2.  Kate loves it    
3.  Robby loves it.  (He loves finding Harold the Helicopter in the toy box at drop off and pick up time.  And calling it pre-cool)

First day pics.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cat Scratch Robby

Robby picked a fight with the wrong cat and will tell you, me, a bug, the garbage man, or anyone else about it.  He loves to tell about the cat that scratched Robby, like this "Cat Scratch Robby."  I capitalize each word because Robby is very deliberate with his words and takes his time with much space in between.  He didn't learn how to speak from Kate, apparently.

According to Robby, he was an innocent bystander.  According to all witnesses (Kate), Robby was petting rather aggressively (hitting) at which point any self-respecting cat would teach that boy a lesson.  Well, let's hope he learned his lesson.

10 little huckleberries and other great news

Great news first.... I was the lucky one to be in the Jewel Basin of the Swan Range of the Rocky Mountains on August 19. And I can report, in very Lewis like fashion, that 26 varieties of wildflowers inhabit the lush hillsides in this region.

Apparently the lack of sunshine and buckets of rain this little La Nina gal brought have not only dampened my spirits but those of the huckleberry in Montana.   On any other year, the berries would be so abundant that the bears would have handed us the buckets get at all those little shrubs loaded with fruit.  But this year I found 10.

Fortunately there were many other events during my yearly August pilgrimage to Montana (Ryan always has business to attend in Brazil in August) to redeem the huckleberries.

#1  My kids get some serious Grandpa/Grandma time

#2 Lots of swimming! Kate learned to swim this summer, all alone.  It's great.

 #3 Lots of time with Mom and Dad, for me

Of course, the fair.

Going backwards, this is what we've been doing....

Kate's, no fuss, all girl (plus 4 boys that she just had to have), all pink, fantastic four-year-old princess birthday party.  Talk about fun fully loaded with lots of sugar.

Cake compliments of Grammy, thank you Grammy!

We grew two kids a little and these two weeds alot!

Had Ryan's birthday, of course with breakfast in bed.  

Ryan's birthday ended with his favorite people doing his favorite thing: dinner at the park.  The kids played and played.  We had his favorite food: roast beef, boursin, red onion on sourdough sandwiches.  

Happy summer had by all.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sleeping Kids

This psalm is in a little book of prayers for children that we own.  It is sort of naive and simplistic, but I like it.  (Maybe that's because I'm sort of naive and simplistic.)  

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven—
All's right with the world!

Although, if I were writing a utopia-themed psalm, there would definitely be a line in there somewhere about sleeping babies/kids. 

There is something radiant and pure about a slumbering child.  Maybe this sleep state is so healing because for many children the contrast between sleep and wake is a such a vibrant contrast (aka Kate) and brings a welcomed respite.  Maybe it's that the relaxed warmth of a sleeping child against my body reminds me of our sacred relationship.  I sense vividly how wholly vulnerable and dependent my little ones are on the caretakers they've been assigned, to shape and format their sense of the world.  This plan of parent/child is not random and I am blessed to be a participant.

I wish I were better at distilling the feelings mentioned above and storing them in my "serenity vault."   I could really use them at 4 pm when utopia is nowhere to be found and I am about 2 1/2 hours away from having a partner home to help with those little angels.  I could open up the vault, draw out the image of my dreaming children and remember who they are and what I am doing.  

Friday, April 29, 2011

Nona and Papa's House and, oh yeah, Disneyland

We were so lucky and took a trip, just our little clan, to California  to visit Ryan's grandparents and Disneyland.  I can tell which experience meant more to Kate, as whenever she is asked about her trip she says, "I visited Nona and Papa!"  When prompted, she of course loves to remember Disney, but I really think she loved Nona and Papa's home more.  Good to know.  But for a little girl in the height of all things Princess, Disney was pretty great timing.    

Ryan was so great to plan most of the trip and make sure everything went fairly smoothly.  Our flights were great, our hotel was amazing.  Nona and Papa were so accommodating to a young, rambunctious family.  We felt so blessed to stay with them and get to know them better.   Ryan even got to stand in at Nona's tennis group because one of the ladies was missing.  So he played doubles with three other ladies who were all 70+, that was fun to watch!   
Nona and Papa's backyard, complete with sunshine.  This was the afternoon we arrived in California, and those rays felt just fine.

 Nona and Papa live in Westlake Village, right by Thousand Oaks, CA.  Their home sits on a man-made lake and almost every home has  a little party boat docked out front for pleasure rides around the lake. This was a great activity for our family, Kate and Rob even got to drive!  The surroundings are beautiful there!

 Robby loved Nona.  He pronounced her name Nana.  Robby also wanted Papa to go everywhere with us.  He always asked for and looked for Papa. 

 This is Nona's favorite Oak tree in their neighborhood.  It's gigantic and gorgeous.  

 The "girls" walking.  Nona, aka Evelyn Muller, was born in 1925 but you would never guess it.  She swims and plays tennis every week (and looks better in her tennis skirt than most 25 year olds) and can actually keep up with Kate, enough said.

Paradise Cove in Malibu.  Simply beautiful! We had trouble calling it a beach, as our Oregonian definition always includes winter clothing and not a spot of sun. 

I wish I had better pictures of Disney, we were on the go so much it was tough to get good shots!  But we had a blast.  

We arrived at 8:15 am, and left at 9:15 pm.  Everyone was asleep before we left, and that almost includes Ryan and I.  

We ate in New Orleans, had gumbo, jambalaya, mint juleps and beignets.  We saw a parade, went to the Tiki Room, Jungle Safari, and a million other things.  My favorite ride was Peter Pan.  Robby's favorite was Autopia, except he was just barely too small so he got to watch his favorite ride.  Kate's was probably the teacups because she got to steer! Ryan's was the chair he got to sit in with the kids while they napped in the afternoon and I explored on my own.  I haven't been to Disneyland since I was three, so this was basically my first run, and I loved it!  

The Dumbo ride is one of two memories I have of my first time as Disneyland.  Robby loved it and loved pushing the lever up and down!  I got in trouble this time for using my camera on the ride, oops.  
Our little princess at the castle.  
Ryan was in is eight-year-old idea of heaven when we watched a Jedi-training camp for 4-12 year olds which included dueling Darth Vader and that other red-faced guy (my apologies to Ryan for my Star Wars ignorance).  
All of Kates wildest dreams came true when she met and mingled with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.  Kate said she looked very beautiful.  She had planned to say, to Rapunzel, that she was glad she escaped from Mother Gothel, but the intensity of the moment overcame her and she forgot.  Still, it was one amazing experience for a little girl who begs to play "Rapunzel" every waking moment.  


You can see Robby's favorite guy, besides Daddy, in the background, Buzz Lightyear.