About Us

There are four of Them: three girls and one boy, little stair-steps all. There are two of Us: best friends, co-parents and truly in love. The Six of us have epic adventures full of laughter and love, occasionally containing tears, but always together.

Monday, August 31, 2009

ABC, Easy As 123

Today marks the end of our first full month here in the UK. What. a. ride. Our household goods have been delivered, Odz (our minivan) arrived, we are somewhat unpacked and settled and we've done some sightseeing in amongst the chaos.

Before Odz showed up, the kids and I were mostly housebound. Well, we could go where we could walk, but when you are two your legs aren't very long and you can't/won't walk very far. We did discover where the local library is and also discovered we could walk there. (The way down is fine, the way back is a killer about halfway through. "Mommy, pick me up now please. Please pick me up now, Mommy. Mom-mom please pick me up.") So we took some trips to the library. We discovered the playground next to the library and spent some time there too. Other than that, though, we had to wait until Dadam got home with the car to do anymore exploring.

And now Odz is here and we are making regular trips to the grocery. Whee. Oh wait, and IKEA and HomeBase (a strange combo between HomeDepot and Bed Bath and Beyond). I haven't gotten my butt in gear to take the kids and do some activities during the week, yet. And I'm running out of time because school starts a week from today!

I do still feel like I'm getting my feet underneath me, as far as navigating around physically and culturally. At least once every time we are out, I have to ask someone to repeat themselves because I didn't understand them. I'm still learning where stuff is stocked in the grocery (tapioca is in the pasta aisle) and that occasionally the checkers will bag your groceries for you, but only if you have four exceedingly obnoxious children with you. The trolleys (grocery carts) are designed so that all four wheels are on casters that rotate all the way around. This makes turning corners an amazingly difficult task. They don't really like tofu here, the groceries hardly carry any of it and practically no restaurants serve it. But you can go to a restaurant and get pizza AND Indian in the same place! Non-biological wash powder (laundry detergent) is for those with sensitive skin, but even almost all of that variety comes with a scent! People will often open a conversation with "You alright?" But they don't really want an answer, they're just saying "Hello". "Cheers" is used as a thank-you, but sometimes you also say "thank-you" and "cheers". But I haven't yet sorted all that out. Apologizing is not something that waitresses, cashiers or stockers do. They may express a sort of concern, but they don't say they are sorry. There are only a handful of radio stations, literally. And one of them is always playing news/interviews/dramatic readings. And one of them is always playing classical. The other radio stations play the strangest mix of R&B, dance music, oldies, American, British, popular and rock that I have ever heard.

Although, driving on the left side of the road is much, much, much easier for me now that Odz is here. I don't have to process *quite* so much different input and I find it a lot easier to get around. This isn't to say I haven't gotten confused, but the two times it's happened while I was driving, I was in a parking lot. The unspoken rules of the road are also something that I am still getting used to. It is quite common, if you are turning right across traffic, for an oncoming car to flash their brights at you and slow down so that you can turn in front of them. If there are cars parked so that a two lane road is only accessible by one car, the car that got there first gets to go, but you should move over in to a space to allow the oncoming car the opportunity to go if you get the chance. This would never work in America, where we would drive straight in and expect the other person to move for us. No one likes it if you don't drive the speed limit, but very few people go over. There is very little patience for timidity at a roundabout. Don't dawdle, just go! Oh and for heavens sake, never, ever, never hang out in the right hand lane when driving on a motorway. That lane is for passing ONLY!

People have been, for the most part, unfailingly polite, even when I accost them in the supermarket and ask questions about, say wash powder. Often they are a little, erm, well, embarrassed that a stranger is asking them questions. Most people who've had questions for us, just ask them, but some people just quietly stare.

Someone asked me recently if I feel homesick and I said "no, not at all." But I do feel a bit homesick. Although I'm still talking regularly to my parents and sister, the time difference is now eight hours instead of just three. And I can't just call up my girlfriends in VA and ask them if they want to hang out or come over or meet at the park. I do feel like I miss *something* about being in America, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

None of this is to say that I'm not enjoying life here. It is beautiful and interesting. There are tons and tons of things to see and do that I've never gotten a chance to experience before. I can buy the BEST cheese, right in the dairy display at the grocery. Wensleydale right there!!!! And it's delicious. The Indian sauces section is ginormous and they are all delicious (at least the ones we've tried are). All in all, it's a fantastic success. And I can't wait to learn more.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Best. Birthday. In a LOOOOOONG Time!

Yesterday was my birthday. And my wonderful husband got really creative and made it a GREAT day. It was incredibly relaxing and together and connected and laid back and happy.

Dadam decided that he would take the day off work! It was a surprise and boy was it nice. He let me sleep in and that was marvelous. When I woke up, there was a "Birthday Restaurant Menu" waiting for me at my bedside. It instructed me to order from the menu and use my phone to text my order downstairs to him, where he and his "team" would put together breakfast in bed for me! Such a fun idea! So I texted my order and laid back, feeling pampered already. In a short while, he and the kids brought up breakfast for me and my birthday cards and prezzies. Oh it was so fun! I shared my pastries with everyone and we laughed and had a great time.

After I was done eating, we all got ready and went for a caching-hike. Dadam knew of a local area that had nice trails and some caches, so off we went. While we were hiking there were tons and tons of blackberry brambles and so we stopped and picked a huge amount of blackberries. (We hadn't brought any containers, so Dadam dug out a plastic shopping bag and we picked into that.) The scenery was amazing, we were on the top of a hill, and so we took lots of pictures too.

By the time we made it back to Odz, it was well past lunchtime, so we marched across the street to a fantastic pub and had a delicious lunch. The pub was on the other side of the hill and so we got to see some more beautiful scenery, watch airplanes landing and taking off and sit next to a pasture full of sheep! The sun was shining (intermittently) and we ate outside taking full advantage.

When we had sated our hunger, we came home. We threw the kids in the bath; I gave Dadam and Isaac hair cuts. We made a delicious dinner and then Dadam surprised me with an ice cream cake!

Oh it was a marvelous birthday. I truly enjoyed every minute of it! My family is AMAZING!!! And I love them.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Funny Bits of Yesterday

"If my necks gets cut open and bloods come out, then I will get a new neck." - Leila

"Abra-da-raga" - how Leila says Abracadabra

"I'm a girl and you are....spiderman. I'm girl spider." - Leila
Isaac said "Do you mean spidergirl?" "Yeah! I am spider girl!"

Elie, Isaac and Talia have all gotten back into telling knock-knock jokes, but none of them make sense (or are funny, for that matter). But they think they are hilarious. Except when one of them tells a bomb and no one laughs and then one of them says "not funny" and quickly moves on.

Yesterday we went to the west coast. It was a glorious day, full of sunshine. The beach where we were has a very gradual slope and so it does not have severe undertow. We took the kids' pants off and let them splash around in the sand and surf. They had a great time! And Adam and I really enjoyed just watching them enjoy the ocean.

Friday, August 21, 2009

By the Sea, By the Sea, To Sewerby

(I'm going to attempt to do a blog post about every place we visit. It won't be a ton of information, but at least it'll be sharing what we do. I didn't post about this first outing, so I'm going back in time and writing a post about the first family trip we did. There is one more outing that we took with my parents and I'll write about that another time!)

We decided to drive to the "east coast" on Sunday, August 2nd. Dadam looked through our tour book and found a cool old estate (built in 1714) that has parts of the original house still open to walk through. The estate is called Sewerby Hall and it now has a small zoo, large play area, beautiful gardens, golf, putt-putt and is *right* on the ocean. The day we picked to go there, they were having a family picnic day with puppet shows, musical acts, face painting and other especially family friendly activities. It sounded like it would be lots of fun.

The drive was beautiful and we did a couple of caches on the way, stopping and doing some caches that gave us the chance to ramble (a term the British use to describe taking hikes on public footpaths). We got to Sewerby and toured the zoo and the house. The house was amazing and it was really cool to enter the hall and see that the marble entryway and giant staircase were original to the house! We were standing on stuff that was built over three hundred years ago. (Way cool!) They had some exhibits about the house, unfortunately they haven't made the kitchen open to the public, but they had pictures. We also saw some interesting history about Sewerby Hall itself.

After we were finished with the inside, we went and walked through the flower gardens. They were really beautiful. There was a smaller rose garden and then a larger garden that had shaped bushes and groomed flower beds, with gravel paths running through it. There were tons of butterflies and beautiful blooms.

We took a brief stop for some ice cream, which was delicious. Apparently the Brits feel like buying delicious ice cream at the grocery and having it at home, to eat whenever, is too extravagant. But it seems to be okay to have delicious ice cream when on an outing. One wouldn't want to overindulge oneself. ;-)

Post ice cream, we took a walk down to the ocean. Sewerby Hall sits a short walk to some beautiful cliffs and we feared that we wouldn't get to walk down to the water, but we found some stairs and climbed down. It wasn't a sandy beach, it was a white chalk rock beach, but the kids were just as happy to stand and throw rocks in the water as they would have been to sit and play in the sand. As we were walking down the stairs, Isaac said "Ooooh, it smells just like the beach in Oregon!"
It was really a glorious day and fun to go out and explore. We were lucky to have no rain and beautiful sunshine most of the day. A great start to our adventures!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Old York is New!

Yesterday we took a fantastic trip to York. Some friends of ours (Prospero and MissAuFait) from DC, who also have four children, are here on holiday. Prospero grew up in Coventry, or in "the south" as many of the people up in "the north" refer to it. So they are here visiting friends and family. We were lucky enough to be here and be settled when they decided to come.

One of the cities both Prospero and MissAuFait enjoy is York and so they invited us along for a day of exploration and adventure. We happily took them up on it because we'd not explored much in York at all, plus we *really* wanted to spend time with them and their family. Their kids and our kids are all about the same age and they all get along really well. We also share similar parenting styles, world views and thought processes. It's always so much fun when we get together.

We met up at York at a really cool museum. It had so much to see and tons of exhibits. There is a walk through a Victorian era city street. There are some kitchen and dining room exhibits showing how those rooms evolved from the 1600's onward. We walked through a toy exhibit, a games exhibit, a prison exhibit (a bit too scary for the kiddos for us to spend much time there, but very interesting). One part we spent quite a bit of time looking around was an exhibit about life cycle events from the Victorian era onward. The kids had a great time!

(Here they are trying out a Victorian era school house.)

After we had tooled around the museum for a good long while, we headed over to the York Minster. It is the largest Gothic cathedral in Europe and it took over 200 years to complete!

We are not typically church visiting folk. It's not that we don't respect Christians, its just that church architecture isn't something we are all that into. We lived in DC for four and a half years and never went to the National Cathedral. (They weren't ever hosting anything we were so interested in.) But MissAuFait wanted to go and see it. So off we went.

I am so glad that we all trooped along. It wasn't a spiritual experience, it was actually sort of sobering. The history of churches in Europe is not entirely a pleasant one. But it was an AMAZING building. I am sure that if I worked as hard as common folk did (and my life was as difficult) in the 15th century and then I was allowed to pray in a place like that on Sunday, I, too, would think that this awe-inspiring building *must* have been where god lived. (Thanks to MissAuFait for putting that thought in to those words.) It was incredibly beautiful and breathtaking. Even more awe-inspiring was the fact that it was built before modern day advances in machinery and engineering. It really is a beautiful building and a marvel of engineering and architecture.

The kids, of course, had ants in their pants. They had done really well at the museum; looking, asking questions and staying really engaged, but the minster was just a bit *too* much for all eight of them. We looked around a bit, found some interesting, kid friendly aspects (the dragon that was built to be a pulley and some mice carved into the bottom of the pews) and then we headed out.

During our walk around we tried to explain the differences between Christianity and Judaism. We talked about the sepulchers and memorials in the floors and walls. I'm not sure that much of it sunk in. All of those things are fairly complicated issues and keeping them simple is a bit difficult. I do want to go back, though, because there is a tour of the tower in the York Minster that one can take. But it has over two hundred stairs to climb and they don't allow children younger than eight to go on the tour, so I don't know if its in the cards for us or not.

Anyway, it was a faboo day in York with our friends. The exploring was superb, the company marvelous and everyone was happily exhausted from our day of historical exploration!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Have Car, Will Travel

Today we picked up our beloved Odz from the base where Adam works. It was a happy day. We drove Adam to work, picked up the van, moved the car seats from the British car into Odz and the kids and I were in business!

The car we bought for a commuter is one that does have six seats, however, it is not *really* big enough for those six seats and the back row doesn't have very much room at.all. When Elie got into Odz this morning, she said "Why is there so much room back here?" It was so cute. Everyone was happy to have our spacious car back.

I was really happy to have it because I think driving on the left side of the road is much easier when I am sitting on the left side of the car! I had driven several times in the right hand drive car and done just fine. But I felt much more comfortable driving around today in Odz.

Now we are really ready to get started on our sightseeing and road-tripping! UK here we come!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Broadband, Boxes, Busy Bees...B, B, B

We have household goods!! We have broadband!!!!! We have our mini-van (well, not exactly, it's here in country and we pick it up on Monday, but it is coming and verrry soon!)!!!!! What a chaotic, messy, exciting time it has been in our house this week.

Our household goods arrived on Tuesday. It was a very long day for a couple of reasons. First reason was that the packers in Virginia did a downright terrible job packing the boxes and crates. There were many things that were not on the inventory, many items were not packed in boxes, some items were left loose in the crates!! Stuff was damaged, scratched, and messed up. They made a very difficult job for the guys unpacking on this end, by leaving all the furniture with stuff in it and some of the furniture oddly packed (like kitchen chairs turned upside down with stuff shoved into the space under the seat and wrapped up in paper). Second reason was that the truck wouldn't fit on to our street. So they had to open the crates, unload them into a van, drive the van to our house and unload the van. It was a long and painful process. It was a mess. I found the whole thing extremely overwhelming and really dissapointing. Bah. By the time they were done off loading the truck on Tuesday, I was a mess.

On the upside, the kids did an outstanding job being banished to the outside for the entire day. They played happily in the backyard, watched the movers come and go and were generally really good. They were thrilled when they saw the trikes come off the truck and promptly asked for them to be brought outside. They rode around on them forever! Then when the two wheelers got off-loaded, Elie and Isaac promptly wanted an upgrade to those. They really did a great job staying out of the way and letting Adam and I focus on getting all the stuff into the house.

First room we started to unpack was the kitchen. I always feel like I want that space to be the first thing done because cooking and eating a family meal together helps me feel like I'm home. I don't know if it helps the kids, but I think they eat better when we are all sitting at a table and eating together. We got a lot of the kitchen done on Tuesday, but it wasn't quite finished. We stopped working on the kitchen so that we could get the beds put together.

I was really tired of sleeping on the floor and I think Adam was too. We weren't just on the floor, we were in our double sleeping bag and on some camping mats so it wasn't too terrible. But I was really tired of it. I wanted a bed. So, we found the bed parts (a challenge since they had just taken them apart and wrapped the hardware in paper and left it loose in the crates) and the tools (also a challenge since the boxes are mostly mislabeled) and we put together the kids' beds. Once we got them settled, we went and put our bed together. After a hunt for sheets, mattress pad and blankets we got settled. It was wonderful to be in our own beds again!!!

Wednesday, Adam was able to take a half day off to come home and help out. We finished the kitchen and made headway on the kids' rooms. Everything was just such a mess, it really was hard to feel like we made any progress.

By Thursday it was starting to look more put together, but I was having a very frustrating issue. I would unpack some stuff and try to get it put away and the kids would come along to play with, move, examine or take apart whatever I had just taken care of! I felt like I was doing everything twice. I know that they were very excited to see their toys, but nothing was holding their attention for longer than 20-30 minutes. They would come in, carry something away, and then be back for something else before I had gotten a place for it figured out!

I finally was so frustrated that on Friday morning I kicked them out of the play room completely. We dumped all the loose toys there and I figured out where all of them could go. Of course, it's a complete wreck now, but everything has a place AND there are NO boxes in that room. There are actually no boxes in their sleeping room either and no boxes in the kitchen. The bathrooms are all sorted as well. Forward progress is being made. The next huge task will be to sort out the basement and then there's just the garage to tidy. It seems like we will be able to make this place livable after all!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Of Rental Flats and Rental Homes, Of Children and their Things

(Internet update: We still have no broadband at the house. The rental house has no doorbell. I was sick on Thursday when the install appointment was scheduled. When the "engineer" came at eight in the morning, I didn't hear him knock on the door. And so we had to reschedule...for Thursday the 13th. Someday I will get my self together....someday.)

Adam had lined up a rental flat in Harrogate. Unfortunately, the largest flat the company had available was a two bedroom flat. And happily, GranEde and GranDude were going to be with us for another week. The flat was nice, with a sitting room and kitchen. But there was only one bathroom for the eight of us. The other large-ish problem was that we were the middle floor flat, meaning that there was a flat above us (so we could hear the very loud and more-than-slightly-rude people above us) and there was a flat below us, meaning that the poor people below us thought that we were the loud and more-than-slightly-rude-people above them! The adults had no problem at all keeping their footsteps light and not spontaneously breaking out in fits of jumping, running, skipping, stomping and throwing themselves around the flat. The children, on the other hand, had a very.difficult.time. not doing those things.

I know it is the nature of children to jump around and be exuberant and all that. And I'm glad we have active, healthy, non-couch-potato kiddos. But being in the flat was really.hard. I must have said "please don't stomp" "please stop running" "please do not jump down the stairs" approximately 15,000 times a day.

Thankfully, Harrogate is a beautiful city with a marvelously cool feature: The Stray. Currently it is a huge green space, covered in grass with some sidewalks thrown in for good measure. It's a giant open space, right in the middle of town. It was created by the government for the sole purpose of the health of British Citizens. And it is very nice! Nearly everyday, some subset of adults took the kids out to The Stray to run around.

GranEde and GranDude generously offered that they would watch the kids during the day so that Adam and I could go look at rental houses. It was so incredibly helpful to have them there. They found the library and got books, a huge local park, walked the Stray and even took the kids on a bus ride adventure to Knaresbourough Castle. It was fantastic to be able to focus on the details of getting us a place to live, visit the kids' school and not have to worry at all about the munchkins' well being. Of course, looking at houses is not *that* much fun, especially when you see house after house that just isn't going to work out. And there were many times that I whined to poor Dadam about wishing that I was with my parents and the kids instead of looking at houses.

As it turned out, we didn't manage to find any houses that would work for us. And time ran out. Saturday morning Dadam drove GranEde and GranDude down to London, so they could get on their plane and go home. :-( It was a sad day. We had so much fun on the cruise with them and they were so helpful before we left Virginia. And then they were more help once we got to England. When they left I knew that I would know NO ONE, other than Dadam. And that was a pretty lonely feeling. But they reassured me that we would be okay, that they would/could come at a moments notice and they were there for us no matter what. I and knew that they meant every word.

On the way back from London, Dadam had a whole bunch of house showings. He saw, I think, five that day! And he found a house that he thought would be one that we would be happy to live in. Prior to this house, we had seen a couple that had potential, but mostly the houses we saw were flat out, not an option.

Here in the UK most houses are tiny; many of the four bedroom houses had less square footage than our house in Virginia (which only had three bedrooms). The other huge problem was a total lack of yard or "garden", as they are called here. Of course, I wanted a house with a nice sized kitchen because I really enjoy cooking. But again, with space at a premium, many houses have really small kitchens. After two days of looking, I began to despair that we would ever find someplace that would meet all our needs. I knew that we were going to have to compromise, but I couldn't decide where I was willing to make cuts.

But Adam had found a house with a huge garden, in a good location, four bedrooms, two living rooms, five bathrooms, a huge kitchen/dining area, huge utility room....basically a perfect place! It had just been renovated and no one else had lived in it since that was completed. In fact, Adam was the first person to look at it after it was listed for let! We immediately called the letting agent and begged him not to let anyone else take the house while we were waiting to jump through all the bureaucratic hoops.

Here overseas, the base requires that they approve all of our housing arrangements. In fact, they have to approve our lease, approve the amount of housing allowance we get and they were generally a pain to deal with. They were less than helpful about our wanting to live near Leeds. They were downright discouraging about traffic and commutes and crime (?!?). It wasn't helpful or pleasant, but we had to play their game because they have the final say in what we can sign and where we can live. What a mess!

That next week Adam started wrestling with the paperwork and bureaucracy and he managed to force it all through. What a relief! During this time our quick-ship stuff had arrived and so we knew that whenever we got a house, we could get the stuff we sent in that shipment. It was really amazing how quickly things were coming together.

By the time Friday rolled around, we were moving out of the rental flat and into our house. Two days later we had been in country two weeks and we were already moved into a house! Not too shabby and a heck of a lot less stress than leaving Virginia had been. I know that we were happy to be out of the rental flat and the people who were staying below us were happy we were gone too.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What a Difference a Month Makes

A month! A MONTH! It's been a whole MONTH since the last time I posted. I know, I know, that's an extremely long time. But, if it's any consolation, I wasn't just sitting around on my tuchus waiting for a blog post to fall out of the sky. It's been just a touch chaotic in my life.

I'd really like to write a huge post about the cruise. It was fantastic, wonderful, fun, amazing and lots of other superlatives. But I don't want to write about it without including pictures. Aaaand since we *still* don't have internet installed at the house, I'm going to hold off on a detailed cruise description post. (I'm writing this by doing something called "tethering" my iPhone, which is on a 3G network to our laptop. Which works just fine, but it isn't okay to upload lots of data over it. The cell phone company gets fussy if we do too much.)

So, I'm going to just jump ahead and start talking about our new adventure here in England! We are truly enjoying it here, although we all *really* miss our friends back in the states. I may be having a harder time with the missing of friends that the kiddos.....

Let's see, I just don't know where to start. We arrived on a Sunday in Southampton. Adam really wanted to be to Harrogate by Sunday evening so that he could go into work on Monday morning and get checked in. We had scoped out the train and decided that would be the most cost effective way to go, but it would take us most of the day. We decided to do it anyway. It was an adventure to say the least.

First off, we had eight passengers, 50% of whom were children. Second off, we had 10 pieces of luggage, four kids’ backpacks and three laptop/briefcases. All that luggage would have been no problem at all if we didn't have to change trains, but, of course, we did. We didn't just have to change one time, we had to change four different times!!!!!

From the ship we took a taxi to the train station. When we got in the taxi the kids were very unnerved. Leila even started to cry. The driver was sitting on the wrong side, the kids didn’t have car seats and the van we were sitting in had a totally strange configuration!

We got on the first train with seconds to spare, after wrestling all the baggage into a baggage compartment on the train. Then we noticed there were electronic displays above each row, some said the seat was unclaimed and others said the seat was reserved at a certain stop. We realized that we were going to have to pay attention to where everyone was seated, so as not to get kicked out and be without a seat. We didn’t end up finding eight seats together and so we were randomly strewn about the cabin, all the adults trying to keep an eye on the kids. The kids did a great job, playing quietly with their toys and each other.

The station where we needed to change trains came up and we off-loaded ourselves and all our freakin’ bags. This time a station attendant noticed us, and our freakishly large load, grabbed a rolling luggage rack and helped us to our next train. We heard quite a few snickers and comments about how much luggage we had as we passed by people. And we did have a lot of luggage, they were right.

The train we were getting on was very late and as we got settled, they announced that it was becoming an express train and would no longer be stopping where we needed it to. We were going to have to get off and then get on a different train. BAH, could nothing be easy!?!?!?

The whole time the children were uncomplaining. They followed directions marvelously, sat politely next to strangers and were very, very well behaved. We ended up grabbing lunch and eating some of it on the train. One of the items I grabbed was something called a “pasty”. It is a flaky crust wrapped around a hot filling. They are delicious, but completely and totally unhealthy. I was pleased to discover they came in vegetarian options and so I got a few to try out. Elie did not like hers, but Isaac dug in enthusiastically. I was a bit concerned, though because he was sitting next to a nice middle aged woman and I didn’t want her to be the victim of some pasty explosion. I did my best, giving him lots of napkins, a fork and knife and specific instructions on how to eat it nicely. He did a great job, winning compliments from the woman and managing not to get pasty everywhere.

We got on the extra train and there was a huge ruckus about where the luggage was going to go. GranDude and Dadam were up at the front dealing with the luggage, while GranEde and I found seats and got the kids situated. We got on the train and Isaac said, very loudly,“Mom, there’s only seats next to strangers!” Everyone on the train laughed a bit at that. We ended up finding seats for Elie and Isaac next to a delightful young adult who spent the whole ride chatting up the kids. She asked them where they were from and that started a discussion that spanned how we had gotten to England, where we were going to be living and ended with her giving the kids some hints about some differences between British and American English. Elie and Isaac were so excited to be talking to someone and sharing all they knew. They had a great time!

Unfortunately, while we were having a great time in the back, GranDude and Dadam were dealing with a ruckus about the luggage up front. We ended up having too much luggage for the rack and the engineer and the platform attendant and the ticket checker got in a disagreement about where the luggage could/should go. It was so bad that when the ticket checker announced apologies about why the train was delayed he specifically said there was a “problem with some luggage.” Oooops.

The kids did such an amazing job. Not one time did any of them meltdown (I would have totally understood if they had, it was a rough day). They all hustled when we told them to and stayed close and paid attention. Talia, Elie and Isaac each had a small piece of rolling luggage that they dragged around from train to train. Leila even had a nap, while sitting on my lap, on one of the rides! I was completely and totally impressed with how they behaved.

Finally, we got off and on one more train and arrived in Harrogate. No one got lost, all the luggage made it and we were there! Dadam took a taxi, with all the luggage, to our rental flat. GranEde, GranDude and I walked and herded the very-energetic-from-being-on-trains-all-day children and to the rental flat. We had arrived.