What you find when you can’t find what you are looking for

Today and last Tuesday the girls
and I attempted to try out a new play group. The one that we’ve gone to a few times is great but they charged a whopping £10 for both the girls to go. That’s about $16. When you add in the bus ride there and back your talking about $20 for what they get for free during nursery on Sunday!
I found a listing online for one that has a suggested £1 donation and is about a ten minute walk from here.
The weird thing is, we keep going to it but all we find is this.

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Hot chocolate and muffins.
Last week I tried using the new map app. I got confused, turned around, and lost for a moment. After realizing we were on the wrong side of town and already wasted money on a bus ride, we settled for the coffee shop instead.
Today we went the right way only to find a sign saying its cancelled for half-term (school break).
We will try again next week.

Let the countdown begin

We’ve begun the countdown. Forty-something days and I’m getting anxious…excited…stressed. There is so much more that we want to do and see. There are so many things we are looking forward to as we get back to a more normal life. And yet, I have to begin to organize my thoughts so I can organize my life enough to pack to go home (ugh) and prep myself for the apartment unpacking when we get home (double ugh).
Now, don’t get me wrong. This place ain’t bad. Not bad at all. I love walking places and the occasional public transport trip. But oh to drive a car again. That has been one of our bigger adjustments.
On the flip side, I fear I will miss this apartment. It’s tough to get something this size (within our desired price range) and this new/nice/clean. I try to keep myself focused by telling myself how silly the clothes washer/dryer is. Or how I could totally live without the remote operated/automatic vertical blinds. They sounded cool until I realized remotes with children constantly get lost, the blinds are programmable…ish(ie they try to guess what and when to do something but are usually wrong), they occasionally respond to the TV remote and at times they try to eat my children.

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Buy let’s be honest, just like strollers there ain’t no perfect apartment.
Or at least ill just keep telling myself that.

Happy Birthday to Katelyn—the festivities

A couple weeks ago Katelyn turned the big 3. Oh how sad we are that our little girl is growing up. But before she gets too old, we have to take advantage of the time and post some lovely pictures of her on her big day.

This is what our little Munchkin usually looks like on any given morning.

Beautiful.

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Devin made pancakes and made her a special K, just for her.

Katelyn seems to be physically unable to eat pancakes or waffles without whipped cream. That morning she also asked for frosting (completely random, BTW). Normally, we don’t have frosting just hanging out in the fridge but since I made her cake the night before, we had some left over. So frosting and cream for the birthday girl.

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What’s a birthday without a beater to lick. She’s going through this silly phase where she likes to wear things…that aren’t intended for wearing. Note the two shower puffs (aka “duckies”), the purple ball on a string (which you can kinda see) and Pooh Bear…all as bracelets.

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We let her open one gift during breakfast so that she could use it during the day and get excited for the rest of the day.

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Socks. This girl loves socks lately. Some days I have to make her take them off because she will layer three or four socks on each foot and then want to put footed jammies on…and then slippers on top of that. The only socks that really fit her were white and she kept asking for colored socks, which were now passed down to Abby. I figured i couldn’t go wrong with socks in her favorite colors with sparkly hearts on them. Nailed it.

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Later in the day I took her to a play group at a local church. Tons of toys, play dough, and painting—she was in heaven.

After Devin got home we did cake and the rest of her gifts.

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She some more socks, a scooter, rubber duckies, and a bigger Pooh Bear. For weeks, every time we asked her what she wanted she would just say, “big Pooh Bear”. We couldn’t avoid that one.

Katelyn was so much fun to watch throughout the day. She loved every minute of it and couldn’t be more excited to have a birthday.

dISNEYLAND pARIS

I felt so silly going to Disneyland when there are so many other things we could be doing. But, lets be honest, the girls aren’t so much interested in those other things. So we planned for a day in Disney. Then we we thought, “oh, who are we kidding?” and planned for two days.

We knew that Katelyn would have no idea what was going on unless we introduced her to the “magic” long before we got there. For days, even weeks, we talked about it and showed her pictures and youtube videos.  It wouldn’t be fun unless she got excited about it.

And get excited about it she did.

When we got through the gates both the girls went crazy. They ran around as if they won the lottery. Abby clearly didn’t know what was going on but saw that Katelyn was beside herself with excitement so it rubbed off.

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There were two celebrations going on at the time we were there.  Halloween and the 20th anniversary for Disneyland Paris.

We decided to hit the teacups for our first ride.  Here is Katelyn in anticipation for her first adventure.

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But lets be honest, the real reason we went was for her to meet Pooh Bear. We missed him the first day but made sure we were one of the firsts in line on the second day.

You simply cannot wait to meet Pooh Bear unless you have your own to wait with you.

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So we wait in line for about 45 minutes and then it’s our turn. Or is it?

Nope, it’s the perfect time for Katelyn to (uh-hem) need a diaper change. We take care of  business and then, finally, it’s the magic moment.

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We talked about this moment so much with her because we didn’t want her to get shy or scared like she probably would have without some prep. She handled it like a charm and went up to him and gave him a big hug. Pooh Bear is this girl’s life.

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Totally worth it.

Needless to say, Katelyn loved Disneyland.

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I was surprised how much Abby enjoyed it. She loved the rides she was able to go on and there were plenty of squeals and giggles as she watched things around us.

When we ask Katelyn what her favorite ride was she usually says the teacups. But she seemed to love the merry-go-round even more because she begged to ride that one again.

Here she is waiting to ride it.

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And during the ride.

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Two things I will always remember about this trip:

When I came off a ride and found two little girls playing in a drinking fountain. Devin thought it was cute. Cute? Yes. Disgusting? Even more.

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And then when we sat down to have a snack of pretzels and nutella. Katelyn gave up on the pretzels and just ate the nutella. That’s my girl!

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And then a few more random pictures.

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And there you have Disneyland Paris.

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Downton Abbey Fan?

How can you not be?

So confession time…

We may have really wanted to come to London just because of Downton Abbey.

At the end of August we headed to Highclere Castle where much of the scenes are filmed. We had our fingers crossed that we could get in because pre-sales tickets were sold out.

Though walking through the actual castle took a long time and was crowded, it was one of our favorite outings.

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Once we were able to walk around the grounds, the girls loved it, too.  Give them some grassy hills and they’ll be happy for hours.

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It isn’t often that we get a genuine snuggle from these girls so when we do, we have to take a picture.

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She loves her daddy, too.

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London Temple

At the end of August we rented a car and did some sightseeing we wouldn’t otherwise have done.

One of our favorite things to do when we travel is visit temples and take pictures. Since getting to the London Temple is not easy via public transport, we knew the only way we’d visit it would be if we drove.

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This is the second temple that we have visited with Abby. It’s fun to look back and see pictures with Devin and me, and then with Katelyn, and now with the four of us in front of different temples. We always try to get a shot showing the entire temple and then with the sign. IMG_0137

To date, we have visited 27 temples and done ordinance work in 9.

When it wasn’t raining, we took a few moments for some pictures. These are some of my favorites.

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It was a bit tough keeping the girls away from the water.  Katelyn enjoyed watching the fish.

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Abby was determined to go for a swim. We managed to keep her out but her shoe wasn’t as lucky.

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These two are inseparable. 

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Turning 30 so we partied in Paris

It’s hard not to want to travel when we are just hours from amazing places. It makes for a bit of an easier decision not to travel when you factor costs and children. But we squeezed into our crazy pants and headed to Paris to celebrate three decades of surviving in this world.
Actually, it just happened to be a good time to go but I’m totally telling everyone I went to Paris for my 30th.
Initially, we made a list of all the things we wanted to see and do. Then we did a reality check and came to grips with would (or wouldn’t) happen smoothly with our lovely children.
Most plans we scratched and we made arrangements for…

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Yup. Disneyland Paris.
I felt totally guilty spending our precious vacation time paying big bucks to a company that I essentially don’t like. But, it was totally worth it. I’ll share more about that adventure later.
During our first half day in Paris we did the following:
We conveniently took the lift up the Arc de Triomphe (thanks katelyn and Abby!)

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It was a beautiful, clear day. Abby spent her time at the top going up and down some steps while Katelyn slept through the whole thing.

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We got a real French crepe.

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We had some really bad, really slow fast food.

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And we went to the Eiffel Tower.

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I was surprised how much the girls enjoyed the tower. They went a bit crazy waiting in line to go up. Abby even attempted to do leg tunnels with a nearby stranger. But, they had a blast.

Fall has arrived

You’d think with all the rain around here we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between summer and fall. However, it seems like it’s cooled dramatically. (Is 20 degrees enough to be dramatic?)
Over the summer I didn’t mind the rain, loved it actually. It was perfect sweatshirt weather when walking around town. But now, the layers are increasing.
Yesterday we took advantage of the rain and walked around town, sporting our wellies. Katelyn enjoyed puddle jumping, or “puzzle jumping” as she calls it.

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On Sunday we scored the dumpster find of a life time.
A toy stroller. With a minor repair and some anti-germ wipes, the girls were in love.

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Earlier today we went to the local ceramics cafe to pick up our painting projects from a few weeks ago. Katelyn wanted to take Pooh Bear for a stroller ride.

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And that she did, all the way there and back.