Back to London {August 2014}

With school starting for the kids in a couple of days, it was time to head back across the pond.  Knowing we had to attend the school’s orientation the very next day, we were worried about jet lag.  Of course no one slept a wink on the 10 hour flight.  Ugh.  This will be a treat.

Trying to pack as light as possible while slipping in as many things we can’t find in England (Crest toothpaste, Melatonin, medicines that actually work, good deodorant, favorite snacks, etc.), we loaded up all our bags and settled on the plane.

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Tyler couldn’t bear to leave his new guitar home – buying a new (soft) case to take it aboard.  He was so cautious taking a great care to get it there in one piece and was so very close to making that happen until the very end when it was sitting atop the luggage cart and bumped (by an unnamed brother) crashing to the concrete.  While it still plays fine, it now has a little extra character on the backside.  Poor guy.

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If only these sleeping masks did the trick.

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Nathan warmed up with the giant socks on his arms.

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New School

The main criteria we had for staying in London an extra year was getting the kids in school.  While I appreciate the time I had with my kids the previous year and all the experiences we shared, I knew homeschooling was not my cup of tea – at least not with four boys in a small apartment stretched from Kindergarten to High School.  Kudos to the parents that can hack it.  I know my limits!

Applying to various private schools was the most stressful, time-consuming endeavor.  It felt like applying to college, times four, with all the essays, reports, teacher recommendations and interviews.  By the time we had to decide to extend our stay or go home, all four boys hadn’t officially been accepted.  Taking our chances, we made the decision to stay – crossing our fingers things would work out.  When we heard over the summer that all the boys got into the same school, it was the greatest relief!  For the first time ever, all my kids would be in one school (instead of four) and I would have nearly nine hours to myself.  Such a drastic change from last year!  Not that I’m excited or anything.

With only a few hours of sleep, we headed over to their new school for orientation day.  The boys were greeted with friendly classmates who showed them around the expansive school and we admired the beautiful grounds and learned all we could for the coming year.

Once a mansion-house to a family of Barons in the mid 1800s, it is now an international school outside of the hustle of the city.  The school is beautiful inside and out with several restored or original rooms showcasing the beauty of the 19th century.  There are students from around sixty countries so the boys will be exposed to many new cultures and friendships.

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Nathan lucked out getting the teacher he visited with last year.  The entire class had moved up, so he even knew some familiar faces.

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During WWII, the inhabited mansion was bombed multiple times and one landed in the well shaft of the courtyard now memorialized with children’s sculptures.

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Hyde Park

After a few long naps and settling in a bit, we ventured out to their favorite park at Kensington Palace knowing it would be one of our last times to soak up summer.  The construction around the pond is finished and they now have access to feed the swans again.

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Can you believe it’s been 17 years since Princess Diana’s death?  A memorial was starting at the Palace gates.

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Walking throughout the extensive park, the boys spotted a tree with Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears A Who” clover.  “There’s a speck on mine,” Jace shouted.

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Hyde Park is massive and somehow we missed seeing the Italian Gardens until now.  They were really pretty.

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The next day, the weather took an unexpected turn while en route to Lynn’s office and I was grateful we actually had an umbrella this time.  Looks like summer is officially over kids.

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First Day of School

It’s not going to be easy getting all the boys up and ready at 6:00 am to make it to the bus stop – these boys are night owls like their parents.  Time to get a strict schedule!

With supplies all packed (thank goodness we could order the boxed sets online) and everyone fed and ready, we walked to the nearby bus stop and met the other 25 kids in the area joining them on the shuttle bus.

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Jace couldn’t be more excited to start Kindergarten.  He’s been watching his older brothers head off to school for years and was ready for his turn.  There’s only 9 other kids in his class – with only one other American so he’ll get plenty of individual attention – hopefully emerging as a strong reader by the end!

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Nathan is set to start 4th Grade.  He seems to think he skipped 3rd altogether since he was home schooled last year.  Hopefully he’s up to speed with his classmates!  Thankfully he has a friend from Seattle who just moved over here for the year, so he’s got a buddy in his class.

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The older boys will be starting the MYP  – which is the Middle Years Program that transitions into the International Baccalaureate program the final two years of high school.  It will be quite a change for them having eight classes instead of six with a crazy rotating schedule and different types of classes than they’re used to, but they have new opportunities to learn with a global mindset and even travel throughout Europe with their class.  Tyler is able to take private guitar lessons at school during the day (I think he enjoys getting out of class once a week) and they’re both looking forward to starting sports in winter.

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The shuttle bus that arrived wasn’t nearly large enough for all the kids.  There’s 35 between our stop and Notting Hill. The next day, they got the big bus, which they liked a lot better.  It’s so comfy, Jace falls asleep on the 45 minute bus ride home nearly every day.  It was great meeting several other moms and starting new friendships.

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Jace came home anxious to share his first project. “The Kissing Hand” is one of our favorite books about the transition from home to school.   Made me a little teary he’s growing up.

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We’re looking forward to a completely different, new experience here and hope the boys will grow in many ways that will enrich their lives forever.

Ready, set, here we go!

Big Ben London EnglandIf life’s an adventure, we’re about to embark on a big one!  We’ve decided to move over to London for the next six months or so. Lynn will be helping out in the new Tableau office there.  It’s an idea we’ve considered for over a year, but it never felt right until now.  Funny how things fall into place sometimes.  The three oldest were starting new schools this year anyway and Jace is still in preschool.  Here I was, stressed about managing schedules at 4 different schools, early morning seminary, sports, scouts and everything else and now we’ll all be together doing school at home.  At least that’s the new plan.  Be careful what you wish for!  Homeschooling is my greatest fear there, but I love the idea of having no set schedule and taking lots of fieldtrips so I will do my best to make it work.

Lynn asked me if we were crazy to even consider doing this and I told him “Yes, but we’re crazier not to!”  So now we’re in the thick of preparations to make this happen.  I’m actually surprised things haven’t fallen apart–so far things have been (nearly) seamless and approved in record time.  Good thing we submitted our visa application a day before the government shut down, and got them just in time!  It’s daunting what is required to move to another country (passport pictures, passport applications, visa pictures, visa applications, doctor visits, hours and hours of paperwork, biometrics for fingerprints and facial recognition, etc…).  Poor little Jace had to try so hard to take his pictures without smiling while his pesky older brothers were making faces trying to get him to crack.  Brothers.   Carting the boys around to all of this is making me second guess whether we’re ready to be seen in public amongst more proper and mannered civilization.  Hopefully they’ll pick up a few things there in that regard.

Researching curriculum for homeschooling, updating all 4 with their immunizations, well check visits, orthodontist and dentist appointments, supervising Tyler’s online high school progress, shopping galore and getting the house ready to leave while managing the rigors of our normal crazy lives means I haven’t packed a single thing.  Have I mentioned at least one of my kids has been home sick everyday too?  Well, this is real life.  It’ll all come together eventually I hope.  This part isn’t fun, but I know it will be worth it all in the end.

Lynn flies out tomorrow to find us a place to live, as well as get started out there. We have an agency helping us, but it’s nearly impossible to understand the area and trust the pictures of what’s available.  Those wide angle lenses make reality a bit shocking!  It’ll be a miracle if we can find something furnished with enough space for our group that’s within a 20 minute tube ride from the office, but we’ll see.  It’ll be quite the adjustment.  He’ll head home just in time to turn around so we can all fly out together on October 29th or 30th.  Yes, I feel like a horrible mom not letting my kids enjoy trick-or-treating this year.  Good thing they have the church Trunk-or-Treat and my parent’s annual Halloween party.  I’m sure they’ll be sugared up just fine!

The boys are getting antsy to get over there and are so excited, even if they have no idea how much their lives will change.  Tyler finished his European history course last week so he’ll be educating us all.  I’m looking forward to getting all the logistics behind us and immersing ourselves in the culture there.  It’s bound to be one wild ride!