Thursday, January 30, 2014

Granthamania Eurotrip 2014 - Part 1 - London, England

**I'm sure there are so many typos in this post. I'm in such a hurry to get this post up and I'm really pressed for time with two kids these days. So forgive me for the lack of attention to detail.**

I want to document our trip before I forget so many details. So the next few posts will be about the trip that Mark and I took to Europe January 14-21st.

Mark was scheduled to go to Dublin, Ireland and London, England for work in January. Because he would already be over there, we decided to book a ticket for me to meet him after his work was finished. His work was complete on January 14th. I flew out on January 14th on an overnight flight to meet him on Wednesday January 15th. I flew into London, England on Wednesday morning and took the train from the airport to Paddington Station.

view from the Hotel window...a very cute street!

Castle built for Anne Boleyn
The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk
i have no idea..just wanted to show the landscape of London
From Paddington, I hopped a taxi to our hotel which was completely unnecessary since our hotel was in walking distance. I didn't know that and the cab driver was unsure of our where our hotel was, too. Live and learn. Mark met me at the hotel...he had to switch hotels when we was finished with his work portion of the trip. 

Aquarium and the London Eye
It was closed while we were in London, so we didn't get to ride.

hideous blue rooster statue that we thought was funny

We stayed at a Days Inn for 49 Pounds a night. It wasn't too bad either. I mean it wasn't the Ritz, but it was clean, warm and had a private bathroom which is the kicker in Europe.
From one of the pub windows. 

The first day in London we just roamed around and tried to see all the big sights. We knew with only two days in each city that we wouldn't have enough time to do a lot. We wanted a taste of each city (London, Paris & Amsterdam).
on the damp streets of London
The second day we took a tour of London on a double-decker, red bus. I had a great time seeing the city and we learned a little, but I think the tour could have given a little more information. It wasn't as thorough as Chicago's river tour. Although to be fair, London has hundreds of years more history to share than Chicago. In that respect, I'm sure those tours are very difficult to put together.

Lock & Co.
oldest hatters in England, responsible for the bowler hat...made them for Charlie Chaplin

Victoria Tower on The Palace of Westminster
This was an amazing site!
Big Ben...I think it was recently renamed Elizabeth Tower.
I'm going to stick with Big Ben.


The highlight of London for me was Big Ben/The Palace of Westminster and the Tower of London. For the record, I do think that seeing the Crown Jewels (which are housed at the Tower of London) is overrated. There was no wait to see them since we went in the off-season. But, if I stood in line for any length of time to see some gold and a few crowns...I would have been a little upset with myself for wasting valuable time. I don't want that to sound disrespectful to any British folks and I'm sure it does. I'm sure there are things they feel the same about here...maybe the Liberty Bell or the Declaration of Independence. I will say that I've never seen jewels as large as the ones on the crown. I'm sure I never will, again. So there is that.

Hard Rock.
I thought it was funny that they made a huge deal that it originated in London; NOT AMERICA.
It was funnier when my mom looked it up and found out it was founded by two AMERICANS in London.

Buckingham palace wasn't too impressive either. (I mean look up Kinsington Palace or Windsor Castle and you can see what I mean). Compared to those places, it looks like a grey box. That being said, I didn't see the inside and I'm sure (like a lot of things in, Notre Dame...more on that later) that it is breathtaking.
Buckingham Palace

Wellington Arch

Wellington Statue
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Thankfully, there isn't much of a language barrier in England. I think the only confusion we had was regarding restrooms. They call them toilets (we never heard anyone call them a "loo") everywhere we went in Europe. I think 'toilet' sounds kind of gross. (I know that's my own hangup and kind of odd).

It was difficult to cross the street. I was continually looking the wrong way, but they do have the direction to look painted on most cross walks so that helped. About the time I got used to looking the correct way for oncoming traffic, we left for Paris. They drive on the same side of the road as the USA so traffic was coming from the way we were accustomed.

The London Eye

The London Eye

Waterloo Station...where we caught the train to Paris

you can see shrapnel markings from the WWII
close up of the shrapnel marks...

I have no idea why I took this, but it looks like a cool place

Tower Bridge...not London Bridge

Tower Bridge

The following pictures are all of the Tower of London. Probably the oldest thing we saw. Parts of it date back to 1078 and William the Conqueror. We tried to take a tour with a Beefeater, but he was a bit obnoxious and we had a hard time understanding him. We left his company and took our own tour. We were able to see the Bloody Tower that housed Anne Boleyn among others. We saw the Crown Jewels. We saw a tree that was used to hang hundreds of "traitors to the crown". We also heard the story of the murder of the two princes. Basically a lot of very dark, fascinating history.
the Tower of London

the obnoxious Beefeater

gates to get into the Tower of London.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mackenzie - 7 months


Today is January 11, 2014 and you are 7 months old today! You are pure joy, my dear. You have the most amazing disposition. You still rarely cry. Hunger and exhaustion are your triggers. I will say that you have no wind-up. You go from "happy as a clam" to furious in seconds with no warning.

You are not feeling well in this picture. :(

There is no way to tell right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if you are more of an introvert like me. I maintain that you have your dad's temperament. But you seem to really need your alone time like your mom.

You are letting us see more of your personality every single day. It's taken you a while to warm up, but when you didn't hold back. You love to smile now and do it frequently. You laugh a lot, too...mostly at Chloe. You started to say blah, blah, blah last week and are quickly moving on to other consonant sounds. You prefer to practice talking alone in your crib. Once you master the sound, you will talk to us. (Now you may understand more of my reasoning for thinking you may be an introvert.)

Chloe hurt her arm...we went to the E.R. for X-rays. They say it's not a break.
We go to her doc tomorrow for a more thorough exam.

 You have started solids...I think I put that in your last post. We are still only feeding you solids once a day. You really don't seem to like them. I prefer more of a baby-led weaning style. So we are going middle-of-the-road with it. I'll do partially what your pediatrician asked of me and partly what you seem to prefer.

You aren't crawling; although, you do scoot backwards. You are really good at pivoting your body and rolling to get what you want. It's so funny! You are sitting up so well now. When you want back down on the ground, you just crash to the floor. You haven't cried yet despite the fact that you've bonked your head on the ground pretty hard doing it. You are a tough nut. But that doesn't surprise me...your sister is, too.

Your dad and I are leaving you with Shorty for the first time as an overnight. We will be in Europe. It's so hard to leave you. Especially since you seem to have your first cold. But, you are in great hands. Shorty was the best mom to me...she'll be a fantastic grandma to you.

I really feel like we finally connected, Mackenzie. I loved you before I met you. But, it has taken me longer to get to know you. I think part of that is your personality. I think more of it is that I have Chloe to take care of, too. It's a side effect of being baby #2 and not having your mom in your face 24/7 because she's distracted by your older sibling.

I love you so much! We all do. You bring so much joy to our lives. Our little family feels so complete with you here.