Monday, May 31, 2010

Fancy Dress

In England fancy dress means costumes - something that took me MONTHS to figure out. I thought it meant dressing fancy - who would have thought?? Anyway - after months of keeping track of Aidan's reading minutes per day they came to school in fancy dress - as a character from a book instead of wearing their uniforms. Aidan was King Arthur - crown, knight's chain mail and a dragon from IKEA around his neck. The dragon was Brendan's touch since he thought Aidan needed some sort of accessory and he couldn't bring a sword to school. The kids were really cute and enjoyed a day out of uniform!


I took the kids strawberry picking yesterday. The season just opened on Saturday and the berries were gorgeous! There were tons of them and we picked 8 lbs in about 10 minutes. I had every intention of making jam but the berries seem to be disappearing quickly via pies, strawberry shortcake and breakfast cereal so I think we'll have to go picking again to get enough to make jam - plus I need to buy some more jars!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A budding photographer...

Aidan loves my camera - I mean LOVES it. He's so good about not touching it when I'm not around but when given the opportunity he has a blast! It's pretty heavy and big so he has a little trouble holding it straight and getting his little finger on the button but he did a great job with this one! He took a few pictures of me and Aoife the other morning before school. I had to crop it a bit but it turned out great!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Visit from Matt and Helen

On Sunday we went into London and met up with my cousin, Matt, and his wife, Helen. They were in London for a few days before visiting Paris and then Bruges, Belgium. We went to the Natural History Museum because we haven't been there before, it is FREE (unlike most things in London) and we thought the kids would really like it. It was great! They have a wonderful dinosaur exhibit with tons of skeletons and also a big mammals section with lots of dead stuffed animals. The kids had a great time and it was really nice to visit with Matt and Helen. It had been a while since we'd seen them and it was nice to catch up.
Since the traffic isn't bad on Sundays we drove all the way into central London and even found a great parking spot right outside on the street. It couldn't have been an easier trip! It was too bad that we couldn't stay longer but we had to get back so Brendan could work on his thesis - it's due in 1 week!
Here's the entrance hall to the museum!
Outside the museum
Matt and Helen
Matt and Helen with the kids in the mammals exhibit
Emmy with the "Emmy Elephant" - anything small is the "Emmy" one!
Checking out the stuffed animals:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Looking Back

So I was looking back on the blog just for fun and found some really fun posts. I'm so glad that I've taken the time over the past few years to document the everyday things that have happened. Here's a few links to get you started
October - 2007
Christmas picture trauma - 2007
Throwing Dirt and Getting Teeth - 2008
Picking Strawberries - 2008
Halloween - 2008
Emmy's Big Girl Bed - 2009
2 Days Before Aoife was born - 2009
Aoife!! - 2009
Emmy's 2nd Birthday - 2009
Drowning in stuff - 2009
First Day of School - 2009
Halloween - 2009
Aidan's 5th Birthday - 2010
Spring - 2010
It's amazing how much has changed since the fall of 2007 and it's only been 2 1/2 years! Just imagine what the next 2 1/2 years will bring!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aoife's Newest Trick

Aoife is now pulling herself up to standing very well and very often! I thought for a while that she might never walk since she showed absolutely no interest but after spending the weekend in Cornwall with our friends and seeing Sophie, who is just a few months older than Aoife, walking around, she now seems motivated. She's tried climbing the stairs - with poor results - and has moved on to standing at any opportunity. She even let go and stood alone for a moment yesteday - before sitting down quite purposefully!
I took these pictures yesterday as she was watching the bigger kids play outside in our front lawn. I've had to improvise with the baby gate since they don't have screens or screen doors here - no bugs!!
Here she's standing and happily watching the kids play.
Starting to sit so she can crawl to me:
Plop! - notice the big grin on her face!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

St. Ives, Cornwall

We spent the past weekend just outside St. Ives in Cornwall with our neighbors, Gill and Pete, and their 3 kids. They have a house there that we all stayed in - a little bit of a squish with 4 adults and 6 kids under the age of 6 - but it was really fun.
We drove down Friday afternoon and went to the beach on Saturday. We were totally unprepared for how nice it was going to be and the kids got all wet and sandy on the beach. We should have stripped them down to their underwear from the very beginning and kept the clothes dry but they didn't really seem to mind. Poor Aoife had to be in the stroller on the beach because any time she was on the sand she was shoving handfuls in her mouth and swallowing it! Most kids do it once or twice and then stop because it is disgusting but she just kept going so we had to put an end to the fun.
We had a lovely lunch at a really nice restaurant right on the beach and then played in the sand some more. The dads took the kids home and Gill and I stayed to shop. The town of St. Ives reminded me of a mix of Provincetown and Martha's Vineyard with water the color of the Caribbean.
On Sunday it rained - a lot. We stayed at the cottage and had a lazy morning. After lunch we packed up and drove to Exeter where we all toured the cathedral and then had dinner. We got home around 8:00. Everyone was exhausted but we had a great time. Emmy especially loved the beach. She keeps asking if we can go dig in the sand when we go back to America!!
Aoife - before she discovered the culinary delight that is sand:
The kids and Gill digging in the sand:
Emmy in her Cinderella underwear and sunglasses - she told me that she looked very glamorous!
The kids building a dam:
St. Ives harbor:
beaches at St. Ives:
The kids on the wall of the garden outside the cottage:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Aidan's Visit from the Tooth Fairy

Aidan has had a loose tooth for about 4 weeks now. It has been very exciting and since it has gotten very wobbly in the past week or so I have been checking it after school each day just to make sure he didn't lose it at school without realizing it. It had been looking just fine up until yesterday afternoon. When he showed it to me the gum around the tooth looked really red and when he moved the tooth some gunk came out from under it. The tissue right around the tooth looked white and the whole thing looked terrible. I, of course, freaked out a bit and thought it was infected. I called the dentist at the US Air Force base an hour away and although he was in surgery he took a break and called me back within ten minutes. I thought this was VERY impressive! Anyway - he calmed me right down and said that if you push on the surrounding gum and pus comes out from around the tooth there is an infection, otherwise it's probably just food stuck underneath. BUT if food is getting under then there is a good chance of infection developing so the tooth had to come out. He said he would be happy to see us the next morning or I could do it. Since it is an hour drive each way and I knew it would take about 15 seconds to do I thought that I would do it myself. I had him rinse with ice water for a few minutes and then sprayed some Chloraseptic throat numbing spray on it since we didn't have any anbesol. It took me 3 tries but I got it out and he felt no pain - he didn't even realize that I had done it until I didn't go back in to try again. I was shaking but stayed really calm for his benefit and he was so excited. He said, "You're a GREAT dentist, mom! I've been waiting my WHOLE LIFE for the tooth fairy!!!!" We put the tooth in an envelope so the tooth fairy would be able to find it easily and guess what? The tooth fairy came last night. He got up early this morning - something he NEVER does and came running into our room with the money and note that the tooth fairy left him. His big toothless grin lit up the room! He's now the hero of the Kindergarten being the first one to lose a tooth - street cred for a 5 year old!

A walk with Aoife

On Tuesday morning Aoife got her one year shots. She did great but we had a whole morning to ourselves since both Emmy and Aidan were at school. It was sunny so I decided that we would go for a walk in the woods by the Beckett House on the grounds of Brendan's school. The house and pond were pretty but the path was very boring.
The path looked like this and just kept going on and on...
one little pretty detail
and another:
Not too exciting but it was nice to get out and go for a walk not in the rain!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Aoife's Real Birthday Cake

We had a BBQ on Friday afternoon for Aoife and Brendan's birthdays. We can tried to do it the weekend before but it was pouring rain. Friday wasn't rainy but it was WINDY!! We bought a party tent and got it set up and tied down with the help of our neighbors. It kept us warmer than we would have been and we lasted outside for about 2 hours then some of us moved inside until the children ran out of steam. So anyway - here's Aoife's real birthday cake - I think it came out really cute!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Great Coxwell Tithing Barn and More Bluebells

Happy Mother's Day everyone! We had a lovely day - I was awoken by three beautiful children and my lovely husband with breakfast in bed - which the children promptly ate while all trying to sit on me at once! They made a beautiful card. Aidan wrote Happy Mother's Day on it and drew a picture of an alien glue stick - yes, that's right...only boys *sigh*. On the inside he drew a tree and bluebells - he told me it was to remind me that I didn't take him to see the bluebells...guess where we went today?? Emmy wrote an "E", assisted, I'm assuming since it was nearly perfect! But really, what could be better? They were all so sweet and so proud of themselves and the best part is that they really did make the breakfast - the chairs in front of the toaster and stove gave it away!!
Here's the alien glue stick...may never figure that one out!
The tree on the left with leaves and bluebells of various colors:
Brendan is working hard on his thesis which is due in 2 weeks so he spent the afternoon typing. I took the kids over to the bluebells again so Aidan could see them and we went to a tithing barn (where the grain taxes were kept). It was neat and there were some pretty cool outbuildings around it - and the best part? COWS - but I didn't get any pictures of them because I was holding Aoife so she could see them - oh - and we can now add "cow" to her vocabulary - smart girl that one.
The Tithing Barn:

The best we could get - at least they are all looking at the camera:

A tiny bit better - I was terrified that Aoife was going to dive headfirst down the stairs but Aidan had a good tight hold and I don't think she even tried.
Bluebells again - it was a lot cloudier so things weren't quite as nice:
Aidan with the bluebells - his day was complete:

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Badbury Clump Bluebells

A couple of villages over from us is a little place called Badbury Clump. It's a little nature preserve that is home to one of the best displays of Bluebells in all of England. They bloom for a few weeks at the end of April and beginning of May. I took the girls over there this morning and we had a wonderful time running through the bluebells. It was gorgeous and smelled amazing!
Individually they're not all that impressive but all together they take your breath away!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


We spent this past weekend in London with Brendan's parents. Despite the rain and cool temperatures we had a great time. We stayed in a rental apartment right near Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace. It was great - 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, kitchen, dining room and living room. It was cheaper than staying in a hotel once you split it between 2 families and we got to cook and eat breakfast and dinner instead of having to go out for every meal. There was a grocery store right down the street which made things really easy and Brendan and I got to go out by ourselves to dinner one night!
We took a hop on-hop off tourist bus tour through London on Sunday and spent some time walking around Piccadilly Circus and the Tower of London. We even got to see the crown jewels because there was NO line right before closing time!!
In the rain in front of Buckingham Palace:
Emmy with princesses outside of Hamley's toystore:
Outside the Tower of London:
Aidan with a Beefeater at the Tower of London:
Emmy doing her signature pose at the Tower of London:
Outside the White Tower:
The Tower Bridge: