The morning after our return from Switzerland, we had movers come and take all of our rental furniture away because our sea shipment had FINALLY ARRIVED! [insert happy dance] It took close to 3 months to make it across the pond, so to say we were excited to get all of our stuff would be a huge understatement. We are grateful that we were able to rent furniture and household appliances, but our flat really started to feel like home once we got our familiar beds, couches, tables, kitchen etc. all moved in. We slept on the floor with only a little of the bedding we had for one night between the transition. Then, the movers came the next day to deliver our container. It was like Christmas morning for the girls (well, for all of us)...seeing all of their toys, books, and other favorite things was so fun for them. We spent many hours of many days organizing things into what spaces and (almost zero) storage we have.
On Friday night, Brian and I had a welcome break to head up to Birmingham for the Aston Villa vs. Manchester United football game. Brian's work sponsors Aston Villa, so it was fun for us to see their logo on the uniforms and field banners. And, there is something so magical about an EPL game. The fans are on another level. So intense and so invested. And so loud...we just loved every minute of the singing, yelling, and cheering. It was a long train ride and we got home after midnight, but it was so worth it.
The next morning, Brian left super early for the USA, where he would be for the next week. Kate had a community drop-in soccer tournament close to our home that we all walked to together. We showed up and Kate was the only girl on the field. I wasn't sure if we had the right place at first, but we did! Kate just jumped right in and played so hard with all of those boys...it was a such a cool thing for me to witness.
Our last week before school started was busy. I wanted to continue moving us in, but also knew that it would be our last chance before schedules might overtake our lives. Westminster Abbey was one of the first places we went. I love getting out at Westminster Station... one minute you are underground and then the next minute you're looking at Big Ben, Parliament, the Thames and Westminster Abbey (plus, other amazing London buildings/architecture). The girls were given a scavenger hunt to go on with promise of a chocolate golden coin at the end. I was given a live audio tour....so we both won. :) This church is filled with so much history. Sir Isaac Newton's grave sits next to Charles Darwin's, plus the tomb of the unknown soldier (the only grave in the church you're not allowed to walk on). Many kings and queens also chose this as their final resting place as well as Chaucer and 8 British Prime Ministers. Poet's Corner was one of my favorite parts with memorials to Shakespeare and the grave of one of the greatest composers of all time, Handel. We loved the courtyard in the middle as well as the old treasury, close to where we saw Britain's oldest door (1050's AD). Capped off by the sight of the actual throne where British royalty sit during their coronations. And, the girls earned their huge chocolate coin!
We spent some time walking around our favorite parts of the city too...Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square (where we found a yummy and rare-for-England Mexican restaurant), Buckingham Palace, and Big Ben. One of our very favorite things to do is ride the bus #13 home from Trafalgar Square because you pass the most stunning buildings, plus Piccadilly Square...and when it is all lit up at night- definitely one of our very favorite London sights.
A couple of weeks ago, I bought tickets to the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall because I heard how amazing it was. We stuck around after church on Sunday and explored South Kensington for a couple of hours and then headed over to RAH for the Boston Symphony Orchestra Prom. My dad raised us on classical music- we listened to it on all of our road trips and in the house whenever possible. Add to that my sisters playing it on the piano for many years and it was hardwired in my brain by now. I love it...I really, really love it. The hall itself is stunning- huge and round and so beautiful. The girls were really excited too- just because of the venue. The symphony began by playing some of Haydn's work and I couldn't even help myself...my eyes immediately started welling up. This music is magical and mesmerizing....I could have listened to it all day. My kids eyes were as wide as saucers- they could feel it too. It was totally one of those moments that you want to bottle up and keep forever. The conductor was a show unto himself. He danced as he conducted, arms and body swinging wildly to the beat and you could really tell that he felt the music in every part of his bones- it was really cool to watch. Plus, hearing the beautiful music of so many people playing together who have clearly dedicated their lives to their talent and their instrument.
The next morning was school orientation. School didn't officially start until Tuesday so we headed over to meet the girls' teachers and get to the know the grounds as well as some of the experiences the kids would have over the next year. I was so impressed with not only the facilities, but the teachers, administrators and philosophies- we feel so lucky to be able to send our kids to such a great school where I know they will be stretched and challenged and changed for the better.
Kate, Taylor and Lauren get picked up on the bus right at the front door of our building. So, we say goodbye at our door, they ride the elevator downstairs and hop on for the quick ride. I always watch the bus pull away and feel so full of gratitude that they get to do this. They have all loved school so far and have made some friends already. I have a feeling this year will be so fantastic.