First Day of School



The kids started school on Monday. There wasn't much pomp and circumstance surrounding the event. Connor wasn't too excited about going back and didn't care what he wore on the first day. Isla was excited to go back and carefully chose a dress she picked out when we were in London. She tried to wear heels to school, but I vetoed those. Given Isla was moving up from half to full days, I went over her lunchbox with her. I told her what she could take out as a snack and to make sure to reclose her lunchbox after doing so (her backpack sits out in the full sun and I wanted to make sure her lunch stays fresh). Well, it turns out I didn't need to worry too much because the girlfriend didn't eat any lunch! I was told by a yard duty that she kept asking when she could go play, as they have to sit/eat for 10 minutes before they can go play. I told her she should at least eat something given she has to sit there, so on day two she did eat.

Ian went with Isla to her class when the bell rang and I went with Connor. Ian was barely in Isla's class, as he said the teacher was trying to get the parents to leave. Connor's teacher, on the other hand, invited all the parents in for a while. She had each kid introduce themselves, then their parents. She talked to the parents for a bit, then allowed for parents to take pictures of their kids at their desks and with her. Given I am a sucker for warm fuzzy teachers, I am totally digging Connor's teacher. I mean, she even did yoga with the class on the first day!!!





It has been a bit of a weird adjustment, not having Isla come home before lunch. Those couple hours were always my alone time with her, as Callum naps. I miss having her around, but know I will get used to my new normal. But seriously, it feels a bit too easy only being home with Callum.


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High Tea in London


My mother in law and sister in law really wanted to do a high tea in London. Their thought was a tea with all the women in the family, but they weren't arranging it, so I looked into a kid friendly tea we could all do together. This high tea did not disappoint. It was an "old sweets shop" theme, and I would beg to say there were actually too many sweets...though my kids may argue with me on that one. 

All the kids were offered milkshakes or tea. All chose milkshakes, with Isla wanting to try some of my tea after it came. The kids were actually also each handed their own plates full of kid friendly sandwiches (think cheese, ham, pb&j) and a bunch of sweets. The adults got to feast on these three tiered plates in the middle. We actually all got so full, we came nowhere near eating all the food on the table. Side note, scones with clotted cream and jam are literally my jam. See what I did there?! But seriously, I ate them all the time when we lived in Scotland, so was basically in heaven engorging myself with them at the tea.

Then, when all was done, they brought each kid a goody bag (stuffed bear, coloring book, sticker book, crayons) AND each kid got to pick candy from the candy bar to take home! It was a little over the top, but honestly, I also think the over the topness is what also made it a super fun experience. 

I would label this as another highlight of the trip. Super fun (and filling!). Something the kids and adults (well, at least me) enjoyed. Definitely something I would do again, if we went back to London with the kids. 



^^ Callum got and quickly finished (like was the FIRST kid done) a full size milkshake. I wasn't sure whether I should be proud or fearful of the sugar high and crash to come.






In case you missed it, here are some other posts from our time in London - the London Eye, random things around London, and the Harry Potter Studio Tour...which was one of my favorite things of the entire trip. 

Eventually I will be done posting all the things from our trip. But now that I am sprinkling in some real life, in the moment posts, it may take a bit longer. 

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The Beginning of Ballet: Year Four


And just like that, another year of ballet has begun. Isla's dance school uses a "classic" ballet uniform, so this year Isla wears a black leotard. She can choose whatever color skirt she wants, so I told her I will take her to the store and let her pick. The longer Isla has done dance, the more she seems to enjoy it and wants to keep going. Two of her friends from preschool are in her class this year, as well as a girl that has been in her class two of the past three years. So, she had some familiar faces. Her teacher is the same as last year, but I did that one on purpose, as we really like her. 

Also, Isla is pretty committed to ALWAYS having her hair down and her ballet teacher doesn't care, so I roll with it. Though I did notice as the kids get older, less and less come to class with a ballet bun in their hair. Or maybe, Isla started a trend...haha!



^^ a certain little brother wanted to get in on the action



^^ these poses are all Isla! Where she comes up with how she is going to pose is beyond me, but it certainly entertains me! 



In case you are a sap like me and want to look back, some ballet adorableness of Isla over the years - her first little course with friends, the beginning of the year - fall 2015 (when she also had an idea how she wanted her photo to be), recital 2016, the beginning of the year - fall 2016 and recital 2017, the beginning of the year - fall 2017 and recital 2018


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Random things around London




We did a lot in our time in London. A LOT. Much more than the kids would have liked to do. I think all of us were thoroughly exhausted after our week in London. Besides what these pictures show (and what I have/am posted about separately), we went to the Tower of London, went to the Portobello Road market, took a boat ride on the Thames, walked around Covent Garden, went to breakfast at a fancy restaurant high up in the air (Duck & Waffle) and visited with friends. Not to forget all the coffee shops we went to ;)

The thing I have to say about London is everything is really spread out. Think miles apart. And the kids are only willing to go so far before they are just done. Sure, there is great public transportation. But all the steps in and out of those underground stations don't help with the kids. Plus, my kids seem to refuse to sit next to strangers on public transportation, then find it fun to not hold on and let themselves slam into other people as the train slows down and speeds up. Also, London was in the middle of a heat wave while we were there. And it's not just heat. There is also humidity. And literally NOWHERE has air conditioning. So, it was a busy and a HOT week. London just isn't a super easy place to get around with young children. Nowhere as easy, and as refreshingly cool, as Edinburgh. But I might just be biased in my love of Edinburgh. So, yeah. 


Kensington Palace:

I had never been inside of Kensington Palace, so was excited for the tour. I was even more excited to hear they had an exhibit of Diana's dresses on display while we were there. Anyone who knows me from my youth, knows my love for Princess Diana. So that was really cool for me. And I loved that Isla was super into looking at all the dresses. It made it all the more special and fun for me. It was also fun to see some of the outfits I remember seeing her in photos in. Dresses like the one she wore when dancing with John Travolta and the outfit she wore when working with landmine victims. The rest of the part of the palace you could tour was more historical. It was still neat to look at, but not as captivating to me as the Diana exhibit. 


^^ A little phone picture curtesy of Connor





Princess Diana Memorial Park:

We took the kids to this park when we were in London four years ago, so knew it was cool and knew we wanted to go again. It was a nice stop for the kids to unwind and get some of their wiggles out. This park is huge and has so many different play areas in it that are basically hidden from each other with bushes and the such. Not the best for keeping your kids in direct eye sight, but also super cool compared to a normal ole flat lay park. And, there was water play. I was unprepared for that. But all was fine...I just bought Callum a new shirt at our next destination...haha! His water soaked and sand covered one just wasn't going to cut it for the rest of the day.



London Transport Museum:

We actually loved this museum so much, we went twice! If you bought a day, you could get a year long pass for free. Most of the actual museum parts weren't cool for the kids, well some of it was good for Connor. But the play areas were amazing. Connor enjoyed "driving" and underground train. There was even a sound system for making announcements on the fake train! Callum enjoyed "repairing" the train. Isla enjoyed "driving" a taxi...well, all the kids enjoyed that one. It was complete with a play meter and everything. On our second visit there, Connor and Isla got to do an engineering  class where they built cars. They both really enjoyed it. 




In case you missed it, I also posted about our visit to the London Eye and the Harry Potter Studio Tour...which was one of my favorite things of the entire trip. I still have a little more to share on London before moving on to Copenhagen. Apparently when one is gone for four weeks, one does a lot of things!


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Harry Potter Studio Tour


The Harry Potter studio tour is something I've wanted to do since I knew we were going to London. It is also something I was really nervous about. It cost a lot of money, which most tourist traps do. But I generally don't shell out for those types of experiences. Because of the price, I was nervous that I was going to be disappointed. Literally from the moment we got there...well, after we went through security and actually got in, I was in awe with how well the whole thing was done. I kept telling Ian, "this is so much better than I imagined" and it truly was. They really have gone to great lengths to make the experience magical. From the video they show at the beginning to all the green screen activities you can participate in making you feel apart of the real thing, to the movie sets, it was all just amazing. 

There was so much attention to detail everywhere. Like how platform 9 3/4 was set up like it was currently in use. Or they had a section where you could have a broomstick come up into your hand and the worker said they used the exact same system when filming the movie. The forbidden forrest was extremely interactive...and extremely scary for one of my children, so we didn't spend much time in there. 

There was an outdoor section where you could see Privet Drive. One of the workers told me they built something like 30 houses for the movie set, so they could have the whole street done. They only had two on display - Harry's house, which you could walk through and see the living room, and another house next door. There was also Harry's parent's home, the bridge from Hogwarts and the knight bus all set up outside. 

For people that like technical details, there was a lot of detail of how they created things for the movie. We went through a lot of that quickly, as it didn't hold the kids interest, but I could see others really enjoying that. Like showing how they made creatures seem so realistic in the movie and such. 

We took a bus from London to the studio. When the bus driver told us we all had to meet back at the bus in four and a half hours, I was like "how are we going to entertain the kids all that time?!" It turns out, I didn't need to worry. In fact, we actually had to watch the time toward the end. And we were actually the last people back on the bus! 

Now sit back and relax...and be ready to see a bunch of photos!  Believe it or not, this is a drop in the bucket compared to how many pictures I took there.



^^ inside the great hall


^^ on most of the sets, they had the characters set up like this, faceless. 



^^ potions class





^^ I couldn't let the kids have all the fun!



^^ a wand class Isla participated in




^^ you got to walk through the actual train they used in the movies. Though you couldn't go into the cabins (is that what those rooms on trains are called?), they had them set up from the various movies and told you which was used in each movie. 







This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me. One reason being that I have been a Harry Potter fan for a super long time (Did you know way back when I used to serve JK Rowling at Starbucks, as I worked at her local neighborhood store?), but also because the kids were thoroughly enjoying themselves as well, so there was no whining or fighting while we were there. Talk about a win for all of us!


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