Learning to Paint

Many years ago, I took oil painting lessons every Saturday morning and remember how fulfilling and relaxing it was.  So when I got to know a sweet and talented Iranian artist living nearby, I was thrilled to start the boys in painting lessons.  It was a great way to get out while homeschooling last year and have an official art class.

We showed up with all our supplies, but weren’t quite prepared with what we would paint.  So the first round of paintings were selected from art books our teacher had.  I wasn’t sure how it was going to go with one teacher and four beginner boys, so I assisted in helping them the first couple weeks.  They got to drawing and painting the first layers and I think everyone was surprised with how many sessions it would take to complete their pictures.

Jace chose a sunset picture since it was one of the easiest choices.  He liked the bright colors, even if it meant many coats of paint to complete.  He had a little help at the end with the trees since he got a bit carried away with some of the branches.  He was so proud of his masterpiece and couldn’t wait to show his daddy!

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Jace really wanted to paint a double-decker bus for his second picture, but we couldn’t find one easy enough for his skill level.  So he ended up painting a tree picture instead since he could dab on the leaves any way he wanted.  He had fun dipping and dotting the leaves on and had a little help again with the tree branches to pull it all together.  His attention span was pretty short since he’s only five, but he was pleased with his new painting and began drawing at home so much more, calling himself a “little artist.”

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Nathan chose the cherry picture to paint.  He was very good at mixing the paint colors to get the right shade.  He tried hard to be as accurate as he could so it would look realistic.  He is very critical of his work and wanted it just right.  I think he was to most surprised as to what he could create, having never done anything like this.  Each week he would add new details until it was finished and beautiful!

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For his second painting, he wanted to choose something Lego related, of course.  Without much to choose from, we ended up finding a Ninjago picture online to do.  He worked really hard and painted it so many times to get the deep colors.  We realized near the end that the printout of his picture wasn’t accurate to the original, so he was kind of critical of it not being exactly what he wanted.  But it turned out so cute and will look great in his room with all his Lego sets.

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Nathan had the opportunity to paint another picture at his activity days event at church.  Our art teacher had all the kids pick a flower to paint and he was able to complete it in one session, compared to the weeks it took him for his other paintings.

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Cade was a natural when it came to painting.  His artistic ability really shined as he was able to accurately draw the outlines and had the patience for detail to get it the way he wanted with as many layers as necessary.  He chose a picture of Italian architecture.

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He probably spent the most time figuring out his next picture, trying to find the perfect animal to paint.  He loves giraffes and found a colorful picture he liked that he wanted to paint on a large canvas.  After a little help in drawing it, he got to work on the background.  The funny thing was we didn’t realize the printer goofed up and printed the background with stripes, even though the original didn’t have them.  So Cade painted all the yellow strips, but by the time we realized the mistake, we decided it looked better that way!  This painting took many, many sessions – but he stuck with it and did a fantastic job.  By the end, we all couldn’t believe how amazing it turned out!

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Once Cade started school in the fall, he was most excited about his art class.  Having more confidence in his art skills, he took more risks and put a great deal of effort into his projects.  He produced many great things for his portfolio, but his favorite was his pastel creation of Henry VIII.  He said he combined Robert Downey Jr’s face with Henry the VIII.  His art teacher told him it was the best in the class and it hung in the halls of the school for a few months.

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Tyler chose a landscape scene for his painting.  Since it didn’t require much drawing, he was able to get painting sooner than everyone.  He was very meticulous about getting it accurate.  Over time, he gained more confidence as to his abilities and learned how things can evolve over time with multiple layers, which was sometimes hard to envision.  He was very picky about his mistakes, but in the end it turned out great, especially as his first.  He attempted to start another custom painting of the Japanese “Great Wave off Kanagawa” with the Japanese rising sun in the background, but abandoned the project after a few sessions.  I was hoping he would finish it, but now that he’s in school and sports, has little time (or patience) to complete the difficult piece.

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Once the kids were settled in after our first few weeks, I decided to join them because I wanted to paint a piece of London I could take home as a souvenir.  I love the bright, abstract style of Leonid Afremov’s paintings and chose to recreate his Big Ben scene.  Drawing it out is my least favorite part, especially on a canvas this size.

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For months, our Wednesdays were my favorite day of the week so we could share this painting experience together.  It wasn’t always easy – two hours was a little much for Jace and Nathan, but they were happy to play with our teacher’s baby when they got bored.  The older boys stayed pretty focused, until they started a paint war with each other.  We have a few stained outfits, but all in all, they really enjoyed the experience.  Sometimes I would have to pinch myself that here we were, all learning to oil paint in the middle of London.  It was such a stress-relieving, fun outlet to do together.

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Painting the sky was so fun, but oh so time-consuming!  I would have to dip my brush in paint with nearly each small brush stroke.  It probably has ten layers of different colors piled on each other that had to dry in between.   This is what my brush looked like at the end of our sessions.  Not easy to clean I tell you.

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I really enjoyed painting the reflection of the water and learning how to use the knife pallet to add dimension to the painting.  I had no idea how challenging this undertaking would be (or how long), but I was so happy it was finally complete in time for my parent’s visit so they could see it.  Oh, and Lynn didn’t have any idea what I had been working on for months, so it was fun to surprise him!  Hopefully I’ll be able to get it home without any problems.  I’m going to have to take it off the wooden frame and roll it up and reset it at home.  Wish me luck.

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I wasn’t able to get started on another painting until all the kids were back in school, but couldn’t wait to have some time to myself without interruption to work on my next one.  I wanted to do something completely different — something calming and that required me to learn a new technique of painting.  I chose a landscape scene that used a circular motion to create all the clouds.  I love how forgiving it was to be able to blend different colors together to create a unique sky.  I couldn’t believe after one session how it looked nearly complete (though it would take a couple of months).

 

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After many sessions and a few revisions, I was really pleased with the outcome.  I now have something soothing to hang in our hallway – let’s hope it has the calming effect on the boys I’m going for!

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We couldn’t leave Lynn out…  Ironically enough, his office had a team building activity at one of their conferences, and over one hundred people gathered to paint something after just a short mini lesson (by a different teacher).  I’m not sure what the theme was, but he chose to paint an abstract piece that symbolized “looking for the gold” as a way to inspire people to dig deep to find the positive in all situations.  Or something like that…  We were just happy that he had a painting too and could better appreciate all the time and effort we’ve put in the last year to our creations.

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We were able to honor our lovely art teacher at a Teacher Appreciation celebration our church held for the youth to acknowledge the great teachers in their lives.  She has been such a patient, wonderful mentor in teaching the beauty of art and helping the boys blossom into little artists.  It’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of our time here!

 

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Out at Oxford – {August 2014}

Oops – this post is out of order.  I’m so behind on blogging that I forgot about our trip to Oxford the last weekend in August, but it was so fun, I don’t want to forget it!

Now that we’re back in London and have seen most of the city sights, we’re venturing out a little further to try to see as much of England as possible.  Oxford was first on our list.  A quick train ride and we made our way out to the historic, architecturally rich university town.

We chose to do the hop on/off bus to get around the town since it’s too large to walk through.

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The city of Oxford, or the city of Dreaming Spires, was founded in 1096 and consists of many universities or colleges with amazing architecture and history.

Our first stop was Christ Church where the boys spotted a field of cattle and had to interact. It’s always the little, unexpected things that end up being the highlight.  I think the boys could have hung with the cows all afternoon, but we had to say goodbye and move on with our tour.

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The grounds of Christ Church were beautiful.  It is unique as the largest college in the University, but also has the smallest cathedral in England.  It is also where Charles Dodgson wrote the famous Alice in Wonderland stories.

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We stopped to see the pretty War Memorial Gardens.

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The bus looped us around the city, showing us all the major famous buildings and well-known people who studied there.

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The University Church of St Mary the Virgin – Oxford’s largest parish church.

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We strolled through the main city center and ate street food, stopped in cute little shops and listened to local musicians.  The kids loved checking out the Harry Potter store and had to buy the nasty Jelly beans that taste so horrible, they were daring each other the rest of the day.

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My favorite stop was the Fudge Kitchen, where we got some really delicious treats!

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A few more stops along the way.  I wish I could remember all the stops.

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The Sheldonian Theatre – Sir Christopher’s Wren’s second major design in 1664 used for concert, lectures and ceremonies.

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The Radcliffe Camera – a reading room for the Bodleian Library.

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The Bodleian Library – Oxford’s main research library.

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Hertford Bridge – much like the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, or a mini Rialto Bridge.

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On our walk to the Museum of Natural History, the boys spotted a few “Hobbit houses” and wondered who lived in such dwellings.

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The Museum of Natural History had some cool dinosaur exhibits and many other extinct animals.

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Since the boys were pretty well-behaved along the tour, we treated them to a stop at their favorite candy store, Hardee’s.  They each picked out a goody and we headed back in to London.

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Despite the boys’ worries of being bored all day, they actually had a fantastic day out in Oxford!

Ringing in the New Year!

A few days before New Year’s we got invited to spend the afternoon out at the home of Lynn’s colleague.  We finally got to check out the English suburbs!  We took the over ground train out the furthest we’ve been, finally getting to zone 5.  We’ve been teased for not making it out of zone 1 and 2 (except for the airport), but there’s so much to still see and do in the heart of the city we just haven’t expanded our adventures to the countryside yet.   It was our first time in a true English family’s home, which was lovely.  They have 4 children too, which is quite uncommon around here.  The boys were so excited to play with their adorable puppy.  To their delight, they had quite a few other pets including 4 guinea pigs in the large backyard, a cat, and gerbils.  Jumping on the trampoline was a great energy release for the little ones while we visited.  We all enjoyed a formal lunch of tomato soup, bread, sausage rolls, mini sausages, various cheeses, mince pies, and clotted cream ice cream with homemade chocolate sauce.  We’re all still getting used to the food here, but like most everything so far.  They had X-Box and Legos to keep them entertained so it felt a lot like home.

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New Year’s Eve

With Lynn wrapping up the hectic year-end business at the office, the boys and I went and got food for our celebrations.  I looked everywhere for a fondue pot, but came up short so that tradition will have to wait until next year.  Tyler had plans to hang out with friends and go to the mall, dinner, movie and play games at his friend’s house later.  With the bus and tube services closed for the night, he ended up staying the night, which didn’t bother him a bit.  His friend got an XBOX One for Christmas so he was happy.

Gratefully, Lynn was pleased with the way the year shaped up.  He has worked so many long hours in the past two months and it was great to see the European office exceed expectations, so it was time to celebrate!  Originally we had planned to go watch the fireworks at the London Eye, but the weather turned stormy and we decided to watch it on the BBC instead.  When we saw the massive crowds of people on tv that had been saving their spot for hours, we knew we made the right decision for our group.

We had a pretty simple meal and treats and toasted in the New Year with sparkling rhubarb and custard punch.  We have discovered some very weird flavors of things here.  The rest of the night was spent playing some games with the kids. London Snap was a fun new game Cade got for Christmas, it’s like slapjack with English landmarks. Our other new favorite game is Wits and Wagers, which is a more exciting version of trivial pursuit.  Thanks Ryan & Suzette for the fun gift!

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My parents called us from Chelan and we were able to face time with them and my sister’s family, who we regularly spend New Year’s with.  We miss family a lot right now.  I miss reading all our New Year’s predictions from the prior year to see who was right and who was way off! 

The little boys were determined to stay up until midnight and as the clock grew nearer, they got more hyper.  Cade spotted some fireworks and we heard loud noises right outside our window.  They had fun watching their own little show poking their heads out to see them right above them.  Every once in a while a new set of fireworks would light off in a different area, keeping them entertained until the big show.  We watched all the different country’s firework shows until our countdown.

Usually we’re fixed on watching the Space Needle light up, but it was a great sight to watch the London Eye and Big Ben as the backdrop for such an exciting event.  This year’s goal of those in charge was “flavored fireworks and the greatest number of people in human history having a simultaneous multi-sensory experience.”  People were given scratch and sniff programs and candy to match the peach snow, orange flavored bubbles, banana confetti and fruity mist rain down on the masses during the show.  Even being at home, we were all amazed at the creative, intense fireworks that looked like they were going to catch the city on fire.

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Quite the show out our window. We’re glad we’re this high up!

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This is why we didn’t wait three hours for a good viewing spot

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For hours, we could hear different sets of fireworks and a lot of sirens.  Not the best night’s sleep.

New Year’s Day

We could have kept sleeping, but rolled out of bed after 10:00 am.  I’m always happy when my kids sleep in when I need it.  One look out the window and we weren’t too excited about the weather for the big parade.  Lynn, Jace and I decided to check out the tail end, hoping by then the horrible wind and rain would have calmed.  We made it to Trafalgar Square and found a front row spot surprisingly.  The weather must have thinned the crowds more than usual.  I think we must have missed the best performers though, as most were young bands from the U.S. or random small groups.  The guy next to me was sure excited to see the cast of Mr. Who, something I have no knowledge of.  I felt really bad for all the drenched performers–they must have been freezing.

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Dr. Who

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We ditched the parade and got lunch at Nando’s, which was a little too spicy but fun to do with just one child.  How easy life would be!  The rest of the afternoon was spent watching movies and hanging out.

It’s been over two months since we’ve had a decent American style pizza and rootbeer, but we found a place not too far away and got take-away for dinner.  Pizza has never tasted so good!  We had to laugh when we saw their interpretation of sausage, olives and onion though with whole olives and sliced hard sausage.  You see some really strange items on pizza around here, it’s typically disgusting.  Who likes corn on pizza anyway?

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A few more games before bedtime and we called it a night.

Day After New Year’s

I let the kids skip school assignments for the day so we could meet up with some new friends at the London Transport Museum.  Although we were terribly late, the boys all loved checking out the history of the city’s buses, taxis, trains and underground.  There were so many interactive exhibits for them to explore.  Cade got to pretend to drive a big double-decker bus as the younger ones pretended to be run over.  They all loved driving the simulated tube train from stop to stop.  Thankfully we got a year’s pass, so we will return when there’s more time and less crowds.

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Right across the street is Shake Shack which we devoured for lunch.  American style hamburgers are another craving we’ve had since living here and it hit the spot perfectly!  Crinkle fries, shakes and “concrete” ice cream all ruined whatever healthy new year’s goals we had, but it was worth it!

Today’s weather was such a stark contrast from yesterday’s storms that we took advantage of walking all around Covent Garden.  There was a fascinating street performer balancing on his unicycle atop a narrow suspended rope while juggling three sharp knives.  I’m hoping it didn’t give the boys any new ideas!

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Sometimes getting lost while finding the bus stop or underground works out.  We ended up at Trafalgar Square again with all the activity.  Jace even warmed up to the idea of a picture with some of his favorite Star Wars guys, but was blinded by the sun.  Another unicycle knife juggler was performing and dazzling the crowds.  This whole area is so beautiful on a clear, sunny day.

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Weekend

Our grand plans to go to the Dover Castle and  the White Cliffs were ruined with severe weather warnings for the coastline, so we will wait for the sun to hopefully return again soon.  Instead, we took the boys over to the Imperial War Museum.  Unbeknownst to us, it was the last weekend it would be open before a six month major renovation.  We arrived just in time, but they were far more crowded than usual and many of the exhibits were already blocked off, including all the planes.  They didn’t allow much photography, but here’s a few shots of the day with my blurry camera.

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While we wrap up the holidays and get ready to kick off 2014 strong, we look back at the past year in amazement and gratitude for the ways in which we’ve grown and bonded together as a family.   It’s not always pretty, but it’s been a fabulous, wonderful year as a whole we won’t soon forget.  Bring on the New Year with all its adventures and possibilities!

Househunters International

Every once in a while, I catch an episode of Househunters International on tv.  It’s always fascinating to see the variety of different countries’ living situations.  Today I felt like I was on the show.  We met up with a lovely British woman who showed us several apartments in Kensington.

Some were repeats of what Lynn had seen a few weeks ago when he came to find one.  The one he originally picked out and made an offer on was rejected because the landlord decided to sell it instead and left us hanging with no place to go.  It would be ideal to only have to view 3 properties to make a decision like in the show, but it’s been difficult finding something to accommodate our large group within a reasonable area to Lynn’s office.  Everything here is insanely expensive and small.  But this location is ideal, so we’re hoping we can make it work.  We liked all three of these and ended up making an offer on the one, which we’re waiting to hear back from on Monday.  They don’t do business on the weekends like us Americans.

We decided to check out several more in the Holland Park area to compare. They were not the right fit.  The apartments were narrow and spread over four levels.  I can’t even imagine hiking those stairs up and down every day (especially in the one that starts on floor 2 and has no elevator (or lift I should say).

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Nathan’s first tube ride. A bit nervous!

We got Oyster Passes today which allow us to ride the public transportation on an unlimited basis (the tube, buses and trains).  The boys learned how to squish onto the tube and hold on tight.  Nathan was pretty scared at first, but it didn’t take long to get the hang of things.  And to realize that people aren’t all that scary. He seems to think every man is a potential kidnapper or pickpocketer.  I may have warned him to stay close to me a little too much, but he tends to wander so you do what it takes!  Thank goodness my 5 year-old insists on holding my hand everywhere we go.

After regrouping, we decided to walk around Westminster and check out Big Ben.  Jace and Nathan have been antsy to see it up close.  The Parliament building is impressively intricate and beautifully lit up at night.  There were loads of people on a Friday night.  We got a quick look at Westminster Abbey which was equally grand.  The kids have so many questions and I have no answers for them.  It’s time to start researching the history behind all of these great sights.

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Big Ben

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Westminster Abbey

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Cade impressed by Big Ben

Next up was our first ride on a double-decker bus.  Of course they had to sit up top.  We need to take a tour this way and get our bearings above ground.  Jace giggled as he looked at all the cars below feeling so high up.

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Waiting at the bus stop

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Cade enjoying the view from up top

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Jace insists on a window seat to see everything below

It wouldn’t be complete without an English dinner of fish and chips. We didn’t realize it meant you get the whole fish!  We found a Garfunkle’s and poor little Jace conked out on the table, fast asleep.  Snoring before dinner even arrived.  That’s what happens when you wake up at 3:45 am.  We enjoyed our meal in peace and took his home in a box to have later.

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The little boys and I went back to the apartment to crash and Lynn and the older boys went out on the town.  They love exploring and shopping for groceries at the little Tesco nearby each day.

Hello London.

It’s surreal to actually be here.  We arrived around noon on Halloween.  Our flight left at 4:45pm the day before so we feel like walking zombies which makes us fit in to the Halloween spirit here.  Here’s what happened on Day 1:

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Checking all the bags as quickly as we could

Loading up a family of 6 to move here for the next 6 months required a lot of bags, even though I thought I packed light.  Seventeen bags (including backpacks and carry-ons) is a lot to manage.  We had a big shuttle van take us to the airport and the boys were practically silent the whole way because they were scared of the creepy looking driver who didn’t speak a word.

We opted not to get a direct flight so the boys could stretch their legs in Minneapolis and get some real dinner.  That was a good call.  After dinner, they all got Melatonin and we headed out for our long flight through the night.  Jace was asleep before takeoff.  Tyler didn’t sleep a wink, but Nathan and Cade dozed in and out and stayed happy.  They did far better than I imagined.  Jace got uncomfortable, but watched movies and slept on our laps off and on.  Lynn & I were awake the whole time but glad the kids didn’t have a meltdown.

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Nathan was happy to have a window seat and his DS

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Jace didn’t even make it to takeoff before he collapsed

It took 2 vans to transport us to our temporary housing.  We are staying in central London, just a 7 minute walk from Lynn’s office.  It’s a corporate, extended-stay apartment we’ll call home until we find something more permanent.  We’re on the 4th floor.  There’s 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, a nice open dining/family room and a cool balcony overlooking the city.  The kitchen is in its own room with a washer/dryer combo I have yet to figure out how to open.  We’re experiencing a big learning curve on the simplest of things.  Everything seems just different enough than what we’re used to.

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Our temporary housing. Right next to pizzerias and pubs.

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Jace & Nathan’s room that opens to the dining area

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Reception room/Dining area

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The balcony off the dining area

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The balcony terrace-where Tyler ate breakfast at an insane hour in the dark

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Tyler’s Room

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The kitchen. Still figuring out all the appliances

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Master bedroom

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Cade’s Room

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Reception room

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Our nightly view

Adjusting from sheltered, suburban life to big city living will take a little time, but we’re loving the journey so far.

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Checking things out while walking to Lynn’s office

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Crossing over the Thames River on our way to the office

Nathan and Jace are excited to be sharing a room and couldn’t wait to break out their legos as soon as we arrived.  Tyler is in awe of everything and wants to go exploring despite our exhaustion.  Cade got the big room with a bathroom, so he’s happy.

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Entering the new Blue Fin Building where Tableau is

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The new office-decorated for Halloween throughout

Without unpacking a thing, we headed over to Lynn’s office since he had meetings and they were having a Halloween party.  The boys loved seeing the city as we walked over the bridge of the Thames River to get there.  Double-decker buses, black taxis, red phone booths, old ornate buildings–they were fascinated by it all.  Tableau’s new office is in a beautiful, modern building.  We met a lot of his colleagues (whom we may need to be reintroduced to since they were a bit unrecognizable in costume) and toured the office.  Everyone was so welcoming and they had goody bags for the boys filled with treats.  The kids loved raiding the kitchen and found all sorts of neat English candy to try.

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Scoping out the goodies

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Some of the English candy they found

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Goodies in the kitchen. They were setting up a Halloween party

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View from the rooftop. That’s the Shard in the background

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Rooftop terrace at the office

Up on top of the building is a shared rooftop terrace that overlooks the city.  It was cool to see so many sights from there, including the Shard which is the tallest building in all of Europe.

Lynn stayed for a meeting so the boys and made the walk back to our apartment, checking out things along the way.  Thank goodness they have a better sense of direction than I do.  We realized we are a block from St. Paul’s Cathedral which looked beautiful lit up at night.  We look forward to checking that out soon.  Six months may not be enough time to fit in everything we want to do here.  We won’t waste a single day.

A few of the boys’ observations the first day:

  • There’s a lot of smokers here.  In fact, the flight attendant was selling them on the plane right before we landed.
  • Crossing the street is scary.  Not only are the drivers on the opposite side of the road, there’s a lot of fast bikers you have to watch out for too.
  • The buildings are incredible–can’t wait to see everything up close.
  • City living is loud, but cool to walk out and be in the heart of it all.
  • We like listening to their English accents.
  • None of the DVDs we brought work in the players here.  This is a problem.
  • We need more electrical converters.  It’s hard to keep everything charged.
  • This place is cool and we’re so happy we’re here.

We picked up dinner from the local Tesco Express, which pleased my adventurous eaters and saddened the picky ones.  Pizza here just isn’t the same as back home.  But we all agree the yogurt here is supreme!

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We love this yogurt

Tyler zonked out at 6 pm, missing our meal, and everyone else crashed before 8, which is a record.  They slept all night.  Or so I thought.  The clocks here weren’t set correctly so I thought it was 5 am, and got up and made breakfast only to realize we had woken up at 3:45 am.  Today might be a bit rough.  Tyler ate his Scottish egg and the leftover pizza out on the balcony in the dark and is in heaven here.

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Around the corner from our apartment

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St Paul’s Cathedral just up the street

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We’re getting ready to meet up with an agent and tour apartments.  I’m hoping we can find something today so we can get settled and get all this luggage out of the way.  I need to get a phone as soon as possible that works here, so if you need to reach us, use facebook or my email.

We are tired and happy and looking forward to soaking up every second here.  Time to take this crew on our first tube ride.

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!