Saturday, 31 March 2012

First Trip to London!

Ending our visit with my parents by spending two nights in London with them was very fun.  It gave us something to look forward to during their stay at our house.  We researched online, and printed out maps to plan our day of sight-seeing.  Dylan and Amelia were excited to see Big Ben and the Tower Bridge since they are featured in the CARS 2 movie.  They also wanted to ride on a double decker bus.  We decided to purchase tickets for a double decker tour bus that would take us around London to all of the sights.  My mom and I even watched Notting Hill the night before we left.  We were prepared...train tickets to get to Paddington Station in London, hotel reserved and tour bus tickets purchased online.

Snuggling with Gigi before we went to the train station

We had to make two trips to the train station because all seven of us plus our luggage would not fit in our vehicle.  We were all excited to ride the train.  The hard part was that you have to go up a tall flight of stairs, cross over the tracks and come down on the opposite side.  Try doing that with two young kids, three large suitcases, a stroller, an infant carrier and a few other bags.  My mom and I handled the kids and the small bags and Eric and my dad took care of the big things.  An elevator would have been nice.  I'm sure everyone could tell this was our first time taking the train.  We had no idea where to stand along the platform.  Of course, we were standing at F and our seats were in car C. In our defense, nothing was labeled about where to stand.  So we ended up running down the platform in a hurry to board the train.  Once we were in our seats, the ride itself was nice.  We had PBJ sandwiches and snacks that we packed.  The ride was just a little over one hour.  It was dark outside, so we could not see much, but most of it was countryside. 

At the train station in Chippenham

Is our train here yet, Mommy?

Gigi, Grandpa and Dylan on the train

Amelia & Daddy on the train

Cora's first train ride
So then the fun began again when we arrived at Paddington Station.  From there, we took the "Tube" (the underground subway system).  Since we are new at this, we happened to get on the wrong train.  We were headed in the right direction, but we did have to switch trains to get to the hotel.  Again, the stations have TONS of stairs and very few lifts (elevators).  We were all huffing and puffing as we managed all of our luggage and the kids through the CHAOS of people.  There were people EVERYWHERE!  This was at 8:00 in the evening too!  I was never a huge fan of putting children on a leash, but I was wishing we had leashes on Dylan and Amelia.  I kept Cora in the infant carrier to keep her protected and covered.  We all had our hands full!  And wouldn't you know it, Dylan and Amelia did not want to sit on the subway.  Oh no, they wanted to stand and hold onto a pole.  Luckily we all made it to the hotel in one piece. 

I know it's blurry, but this was when we got off the train at Paddington Station.  The kids are standing on the Buggy Board (a platform on wheels that attaches to the back of the stroller), which was a life saver!!!

Dylan on the subway

Amelia on the subway

Dylan and Amelia slept in Gigi and Grandpa's room since Eric, Cora and I had to be up early for the appointment at the American Embassy.  We told them to go ahead and get started with sight-seeing, and we gave them my phone to touch base with them when we finished with the passport registration.  You are not allowed to take any cameras or cell phones into the American Embassy, so we had to leave Eric's phone at the hotel.  Even though they give appointment times, it is first come, first serve at the Embassy.  Luckily it wasn't too cold outside as we waited in line for about 25 minutes.  And luckily, Miss Cora held off and waited to feed until we were inside.  There was a woman in line behind us breastfeeding her son while standing in line in the cold.  It was nice to hear some American accents while standing in line.  After getting through security, things moved along.  We were finished in a little over an hour.  We headed back to the hotel, and they were waiting in the lobby ready to go!

The tour bus was a FANTASTIC idea!  We sat up on top in the front two rows where it was covered.  Dylan and my dad sat in the last row where it was an open-air top for a while too.  Here are some of the sights we saw...

Our front row seats on the top deck of the tour bus.  Cora is in the carrier in Eric's coat.  Most people did not even know there was a baby in there.

Lots of traffic!

Grandpa and Dylan sat in the very last row for a while. 
(You can barely see the top of Grandpa's head in the last row on the right.)

Riding in the front was scary at times.  SO many people walk right out in front of the buses, and let me tell you...the buses don't stop!

Look kids, there's Big Ben!

The side of Westminster Abbey

River Thames and The London Eye

We hopped off and enjoyed a little ice cream before taking a boat ride on the River Thames.

Cora and I in front of the Tower of London

Amelia & Dylan in front of the Tower Bridge
(I did not realize before that "London Bridge" is actually very plain and nothing special to see. 
But the Tower Bridge is beautiful!)

Our bus tour tickets included a 30-minute boat tour on the River Thames.  We sat inside on the lower deck and had some snacks.  Again, the kids loved it!

Daddy & Dylan in front of Big Ben right before it struck 4:00.
Dylan REALLY wanted to go inside, but you have to be at least 11 years old to take the tour up the 334 spiral steps. 

Walking to Buckingham Palace...well 2 of them were walking and 2 were getting a free ride.

There were 2 guards on duty, which meant the Queen was away. 
When she is there, they have 4 guards on duty.

Buckingham Palace

All 7 of us in front of Buckingham Palace
Cora is in the carrier on Eric.

Same picture- just cropped closer

Climbing around in front of Buckingham Palace

Yep, the statue was that big!

At this time last year, I never would have thought I would be in London, on the top of a double decker bus, breastfeeding a newborn baby.  But you know what?  It is all working out, and we are enjoying our adventure so far.  Some people wonder how it went traveling with a newborn.  Truthfully, it was not that bad.  She slept most of the time, and when she needed to eat, I used a nursing cover.  We kept her pretty close to us in the carrier and the sling.  It would have been quite a challenge without the extra help from my parents.  Little Cora had several "firsts" during her second week of life...her first trip, first train ride, first bus ride and first subway ride. 

We finished our fun day by enjoying dinner at the Rainforest Cafe!  The kids LOVED it!  The atmosphere there is great!

Amelia was a little scared of the alligator...

Action shot of dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.
Dylan and Cora relaxing in the hotel room.

Needless to say, we were all exhausted.  Dylan and Amelia wanted to stay in Grandpa and Gigi's room again, and that was fine with us!  After breakfast Friday morning, we said our VERY sad goodbyes to my parents.  There were many tears and hugs.  I am just so thankful they were able to spend those two wonderful weeks with us and help us welcome Cora into the family.  I hated to see them go.  They were such a great help to us, and we enjoyed every moment with them here.  The only thing that made it a little easier to say goodbye was that Grandpa Trost would be arriving the following morning.  I know they wanted to stay longer too, but my dad had to get back to remodeling their kitchen and my mom had to get back to work. 

The five of us headed to the National History Museum.  The kids enjoyed seeing the dinosaur and animal exhibits.

We headed to the train station to get back to Chippenham.  Eric and I really had our hands full with the luggage and the three kids.  Amelia fell asleep riding on the top of our rolling suitcase in the train station.  For some strange reason, they do not post which platform the train will be on until 10 minutes before you depart.  So as soon as it was posted, we joined the line to get through the turnstiles and ran to the platform.  Eric carried sleeping Amelia and I pushed the stroller.  Again, we barely made it since our train car was all the way down the platform.  Once we reached our seats, we realized they were already taken.  WHAT?  How could that be?  I was NOT going to stand with a newborn and two young children for over an hour.  I guess the look on my face made that clear because people started moving around to make open seats for us.  It turns out, the worker who booked our tickets did so for the wrong date.  Those WERE our seats for the day before!  Luckily, the tickets are good for a few days, and even more lucky that we were able to find seats.  God was looking out for us!  
Dylan took this picture of us on the train.

It was a hectic few days, but very worth it.  We had one night to rest up, and Grandpa Trost arrived the next morning!


Thursday, 29 March 2012

Week 2 with Grandpa & Gigi...Rugby, A Castle, Bike Rides and More Fun

For those of you who keep checking for updates, I must apologize for my delay in posting lately.  It seems that life with 3 little ones keeps me quite busy, and I spent most free moments with my guests when they were here.  So I am playing catch up to fill you in on the rest of our adventures with my parents.

FRIDAY: Cora and I enjoyed a quiet evening at home while the rest of the gang went to a rugby game in Bath.  It was a cold evening, but they bundled up and enjoyed it. 

SATURDAY: We took a very interesting, one-hour scenic route to visit Old Wardour Castle.  Talk about being out in the middle of the country!  As the sign says, it was a stunning 14th-century romantic ruin.  The kids loved walking through it and climbing up to the top.  We were just amazed at the history...It was built as a six-sided castle in the late 14th century.  The castle was badly damaged during the English Civil War in 1644 and was never restored.     

Beautiful grounds around the castle

Dylan in his wellies (a little U.K.) and his Mizzou fleece (a little U.S.)

Walking up to the castle

An artist's interpretation of what it looked like in the late 14th century

Amelia enjoyed picking flowers.

She loves Dandelions.

Up we go.

Cora enjoyed her first visit to a castle in the stroller.

Dylan is peeking out from the middle window above.

The beautiful blue sky out the top of the castle

They loved looking out from the top.

The kids are standing in what is left of this blasted side.

The grounds out front and the lake were beautiful.

Eric, Dylan, Amelia and Grandpa in the castle

Cora was relaxing after a busy day at the castle.

SUNDAY:  After enjoying pancakes, the kids headed outside to enjoy the sunshine.  They sure had fun playing on the driveway.

Don't ask me what Amelia was doing.  Oh my.

Do you want to guess how many balls Dylan has lost over the walls?  Fun way to meet neighbors.

Some more sibling pictures

Amelia, Cora, Dylan...cutest little piggies ever!

So sweet!

Cora must be thinking, "I hope they don't turn this swing on high."

Sweetie pie

They took a walk and ended up at McDonald's. Time for Happy Meals!

MONDAY: Dylan and Amelia went to school, and I cannot recall exactly what we did.
Love to snuggle!

Look who has bubbles in her mouth.

Playing BINGO when Daddy got home from work

Cora in her cherries outfit from Aunt Terri

We made an appointment at the American Embassy in London to register Cora's birth with the United States, apply for her passport and her Social Security number.  We NEED her passport so she can fly back to the U.S. with us in June.  Of course they only offer morning appointments, and it is about a two hour drive.  So we decided to take everyone, head to London on Wednesday evening and make a little trip out of it before my parents flew out on Friday.  Eric got on Expedia and found a hotel.  We went to the train station and bought tickets.  My mom and I did laundry and got everyone packed.  On Wednesday, we were ready for London!  Next post...LONDON!