Thursday, April 21, 2016

London with Charian

Long story short….we got two free tickets to go to London for five days! Of course, nothing could make us happier as we were desperate to see our two youngest kids… .Charity and her husband Ian (affectionatly known as Charian) who live in Central London!

After our long ride in the air, we went to our dear friends, Tess and Ken’s home not far from Charian’s flat to drop off our suitcases (Charian’s apartment is tiny and the offer of an extra bedroom was so nice for both Charian and us. We chatted for a few minutes with Tess and Ken, who are our co-grandparents. Their daughter married our son and so we had some things to catch up on. Then we quickly changed into our best clothes and met Chairty and ian for a very special occasion….afternoon tea at The Ritz (even though our appointment was at 7:30 p.m.)!

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We coldn’t have been happier to see each other, especially since Charity is expecting a baby boy on July 11th.  Even though she is six months along, you can hardly see that bump!

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What a thrill to see them again and I have to say that the food was delcious! It was sort of an early birthday present, plus Charity is a foodie so we were both thrilled with the fabulous little sandwiches and pastries. A lovely string quintet played in the background and we had such a fun talk! At the end they brought me a lovely little birthday cake and the 1st violinist played a beautiful rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

The next morning we had a fun catch-up breakfast with Tess and Ken, who are running the Young Single Adult program for the London area and are doing a magnficent job!

After that we headed out for a long journey to a park where we met Charian and their darlling Sunday School class for a belated Easter Egg Hunt and crazy string party!  The kids were mostly Africans and so darling! It was fun to see the love that Charian have developed for those cute kids. Forgot to take pictures because it was so cold!  Smile

Then we were off to “The Map Store” near Charian’s little home in the city. Such a fun place for travelers like us!

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All these drawers are full of maps!

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It was good to know that Charity and Ian still love each other….even after 18 months of marriage!

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London is full of delightful nooks and crannies like this entrance to a pub from the 1700’s.

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And a candy story where you can find almost anything, except dark chocolate, which England is not quite into yet!

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Just around the corner (literally about 100 steps is Trafalgar Square which always has some intrique!  This was the end of a rally opposing David Cameron’s policies and especially the current sitution with the revelations of the Panama Papers. The crowd was large and mostly peaceful but there was a huge police presence!

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Somebody is always making amazing chalk paintings on the sidewalk at Trafalgar:

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On one side of Tafalgar Square is the National Gallery which we never tire of. They had a new painting by Monet that we had never seen! What a wonderful mind!

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Around the circle at Trafalgar is St Martin in the Fields, one of the most famous churches in the world where Charity and Ian have the option to attend incredible concerts almost every week! See Charity and Rick walking together toward the church there?

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That night we went to see one of our favorite plays: Matilda!  Rick and I had seen it in NY but it was also delightful in London. The accents made it a little harder to hear the words and we also had “nosebleed” seats, but it was just terrific!

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The next day was Sunday and we had a chance to be in Charity’s ward and see Ian sitting on the stand as a new member of the bishopric!  The talks were all amazing! A young missionary from Ghana  gave an wonderful, articulate speech!  He will be a leader in the church in Ghana someday!  We also heard a speech from a darling girl from Croatia who told us about her journey, being the only member of the church in Croatia. She served a mission in England and was now working in London. The highlight of the meeting was a talk by Ian, who gave an outstanding, well thought-out, beautifully worded and inspiring talk!

From there we hurried over to the Hyde Park Ward where we had an opportunity, thanks to the invitation of Tess and Ken, to talk to a chapel full of beautiful young adults!  We had about 90 minutes and Charity and Ian joined us for the last half hour where we all took questions from the audience. They were a fascinating group and some interesting issues came up that were fun to discuss! We learned a lot!

Since we have lived in London for several years it is one of our favorite cities in the world! We have a vast history there, not to mention the vast history of the British Empire! The beauty and variety is unsrupassed!  Rick (and Charity, who joined him later) went on a spectacular bike ride:

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There are gorgeous parks everywhere amidst that bustling city! Here’s Royal Albert Hall where we have so many memories:

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Here is the Albert Memorial. Albert and Queen Victoria had quite a wonderful love affair. They adored each other….and their children!

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Bike tour continuted to Buckinham Palace:

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Charity even took her dad over to the hospital by Big Ben where she will give birth to their baby in July! Thsi will pretty much be her view from the delivery room!

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Gotta love the amazing Natural History Museum right across from the church on Exhibition Road:

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And the Victoria and Albert Museum!

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We even found a JMW Turner painting that President Monson had referred to in one of his talks:

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Charity is really into “teas” (the herbal teas are delicious) and Rick is really into celebrating my birthday….royally, so we went to another “Tea” at the Savoy. It may have been even better than the one at the Ritz. Much quieter since it was a week day afternoon and a glorious place to spend time talking about important things!

We had attended an enormous gala dinner hosted by our chruch there for its Sesquicentennial Celebration many years ago when we lived in London. It was such a nostalgic journey to go back!

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It was way too many delicious treats! We skipped dinner that night!

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High Tea comes with this:

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And once again, the piano player played a lovely redition of “Happy Birthday” while we enjoyed this little treat!

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We had to cram in as much as possible in four days and since the Coluseum Theatre is about 200 steps from Charian’s front door we went to a play called Sunset Boulevard staring Glenn Close. It was strange but interesting and the star was terrific!

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On our last morning, we took the tube to our favorite store to browse in the world’s greatest store: Harrods!  It is always breathtaking to remember that you can buy just about anything there. The food halls were amazing and the prices were astounding! thumb_IMG_1580_1024

Here is a beatiful 18 karat gold pram for sale for 42,000 pounds (about $60,000 dollars)!

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After looking for a long time, we did manage to find a couple of adorable things in the baby section that matched our budget for Charity’s baby shower which will take place after I am gone!  We asked the sales ladies what someone with unlimited funds might pay for a baby outfit and they told us that someone had bought a three month size baby dress for about $12,000. And on second thought decided to take two in case one got soiled. That’s another world!

Here is the date display in the food court:

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Just outside the door, we saw probably the most amazing thing of all…an artist doing a sand scupture of a dog. Is this amazing or what?

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The finished product was astonishing! What a gift! and how sad to think that the creator is going to just wrap that guy up in that towel and walk away at the end of the day! We added some to his collection of donations. Incredible!

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After that we met Ian, who had just finished an important metting for fish and chips and with hugs all around, we departed for the airport to head for NYC for a few days!  We are so proud of Charity and Ian and so excited for the arrival of their little one. I will be going back for 13 days in July to help with the details of bringing a new baby into the world. That is one of my favorite things to do in all the world! We are calling this baby “The Equalizer” as he will even the number of our grandchildren to 14 girls and 14 boys.

This was the pathway to the last of at least 25 Underground and train rides in this unique and well-loved city. Days to remember!

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Grandkids in Utah and California

What a fun and crazy couple of weeks we’ve had!  After enjoying the great wisdom and insights of our church leaders as well as the magnificent Mormon Tablernacle Choir at our Semi-annual General Conference the beautiful Conference Center that holds 21,000 people, we headed North to take care of three of our terrific grandchildren!

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Saren and Jared and their two middle children headed for Costa Rica for a well-deserved eight day adventure and we had more fun that you want to know with 16-year-old Ashton, who was still in school and their two youngest sons who are identical twins, who were on spring break!

Ashton had traveled to Australia with his mom a couple of years ago when Saren had a chance to do some work there with Power of Moms, so he had had his turn for a grand trip so it was Isaac and Eliza’s turn to had some fun! They had a splendid time, but I think we had more fun!

We started with our goals for the week. Grandfather is the master of goals so he helped the twins and Ashton work through what they wanted to accomplish while we were there. For Ashton it was mostly school goals but for the twins it was mostly fun goals.

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These two little eleven year olds are pretty amazing. This is the robot they created with a very complicated kit. Their dad helped them with the first one but they reorganized their robot into a dinasaur that roars and throws his head around like a wild animal.

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Ashton had his first official date while we were there. It was a day-date prior to the Prom they would be attending the following Saturday. Here is the darling gril who gets to go with adorable Ashton! (Sorry, bad light and a bit blurry but you’ll get the idea Smile!

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While Ashton was in school, we took the twins to about everything imagineable that week! To thier grandfather’s horror, they both beat him in bowling!  They did have bumpers but Rick was really trying. Hilarious!  At least I thought it was….Grandfather…not so much !

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Let’s take a look at the final score:

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The boys enjoyed their hamburgers!

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We watched movies galore!  This particular one isn’t out yet….but basically it was a kid-move marathon!

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All three boys loved playing on the “Flow Rider”

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The twins loved The Children’s Museum at Gateway.

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What kids wouldn’t love a permanent Pinewood Derby where the kids make and race their own cars forever?

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Grandfather even enjoyed showing off his juggling skills!

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With a little swimming and a couple of IMAX movies about space and the national parks in SL, we took them back home and sent all three off to school on Monday morning before heading home to pack for our next three-week trip to see more kids and grandkids. 

We juggled going back and forth to SL for meetings and speeches for eight days and were so glad for Ashton’s great help to watch over things when we were gone. Those are three amazing kids!  We thought we knew them pretty well, but we know them better now, which is always such a bonus for grandparents! They are even better than we thought and we thought they were pretty great from the start!

Next it was 48 hours with our California Eyres. It’s always such fun to be with Noah and Kristi and their five champions!

I got to help with piano lessons and then loved sitting in on the lessons. Both McKay and Lyla are becoming great little painists! This teacher teaches 80 kids every week: whew!

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This cutie never runs out of things to tell us and is so sweet with her baby sister! 

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And these two are just the greatest buddies!

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Let’s take a closer look at that T-shirt! McKay is in a robotics class after school! The kid is a genius!

 

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And these two keep us laughing! Mila has progressed like a champ, but it looks as though she will be facing open heart surgery in the near future. The good news is that if things go well, she may never have to have another surgery. We are always praying for this sweet little girl!

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We had fun putting the family puzzle together that Tal and Anita provided for everybody instead of T-shirts for our family reunion a few years ago. It was amazing to see how much everyone has changed and grown!

Is that Grandfather showing up with the last piece?

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Mila loved holding these pine cones on the way to the park!

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And this boy is one amazing sushi eater. Grandfather is about to pop one giant slice right into that nice big mouth!

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Grandkids are the greatest!