Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Halloween the British Way

As we are finding with most holidays here, Halloween was not as big of a celebration as it is in the U.S.  Apparently it is getting bigger here, but I was not impressed.  When October rolls around, I like to put out the Halloween decorations and start thinking about costumes for trick-or-treating.  When I started mentioning Halloween to other mums, some of them told me their children do not dress up or trick-or-treat.  When I looked in the stores, I couldn't get over the tiny amount of space given for Halloween costumes, decorations and candy.  I guess we just like to party in the U.S. because each holiday pretty much takes over the grocery stores and Target!  Not here.  It is much smaller and simpler, which is the British way according to us.  Part of the reason may be that they do not have the space to store such items.  Also, many people here do not spend their money on unessential things like holiday decorations.   

Halloween costumes here are very traditional.  They stick with scary things such as witches, skeletons, Dracula, etc.  There were not aisles of Disney princesses and Ninja Turtles.  

This is the Halloween section at our local market.

This is the Halloween section at the local superstore/grocery store.

You could be a skeleton with a cape or a skeleton with a tutu...interesting.

Yep, that was it!  A few bakeries in town had some Halloween cookies or cupcakes, but there were not many decorations around town.  I could not find Halloween cards to mail to family, so we made our own cards.  It actually saved us a lot of money keeping it simple.  

My kids decided they wanted to be Peter Pan and Wendy, and they wanted Cora to be Tinkerbell.  I was excited that they would all 3 coordinate, and I was ready for the challenge to make their costumes.  I got on Pinterest and found ideas for their costumes.  The biggest challenge for me was finding the materials I needed to make the costumes.  Boy did I ever miss having a Hobby Lobby down the street!  The few stores that sell fabric had very poor choices, so I had to settle with what I could find and make the best of it. 

Peter Pan's costume was made out of fleece.  The belt and sword were made out of felt. 
Wendy's dress was made out of a crushed velvet knit fabric.

I kept Tinkerbell pretty simple since I couldn't find the right fabrics.  She went right for the white puff balls on her feet.  Yes, I was sewing them back on just minutes before this picture.

Eric took Dylan and Amelia trick-or-treating.  He said there were actually quite a lot of children out trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.  We only had a few come to our house.  Our house sits back behind other houses, so many people did not come down our long driveway.  By long, I mean "regular length U.S. driveway".  They are used to a driveway being the length of one small vehicle.

The candy here is different too.  We did have some mini Twix bars.  We miss U.S. candy!

Dylan and Amelia had a goal of collecting ten pieces of candy each.  Thankfully they did just in time for the downpour of rain.  It is England after all.  They came back soaked, but excited about their ten treats.  That was it.  I worked hard on those costumes, and it was all over in those few short hours.  Oh, and no one else even saw their costumes since they were wearing raincoats with their hoods up.  I wish we would've had a Halloween party or parade for the kids to wear their costumes again.  Hopefully they will use them to play pretend. 

I missed going to Boo at the Zoo with our good friends.  I missed going on hayrides and having costume parties.  I missed going to a pumpkin patch.  Halloween felt different this year.  The important thing is that Dylan and Amelia enjoyed dressing up and had a great time. 

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Some Things Never Change

One thing that will probably never change is my husband's love for motocross.  Believe it or not, he left his dirt bike back in the states.  We did, however, bring Dylan's dirt bike here to England.  Motorcycles and dirt are not really my cup of tea, but Eric is quite passionate about the sport.  Dylan seems to really enjoy his bike as well.  He knows most of the professional rider's names, and he likes to watch the races on TV with Daddy.  There are a few local dirt tracks nearby.  When it is not raining, Dylan and Eric like to go to the track on the weekends.

Dylan learned to ride his dirt bike with training wheels (which they call "stabilizers" here).  He quickly learned how to ride without the training wheels, and he is getting more confident on the bike.  He was proud to tell me he passed other kids on the track! 

When Amelia turned 4 in August, Eric had ants in his pants about getting her on the dirt bike.  WHAT?!  She is my little princess!  She does not have quite the finesse with sports, but she really wanted to give it a try.  With the training wheels on, she rode around the backyard a few times.  Eric got his workout running alongside of her.  Let's just say, she has a lot of learning to do!

Dylan riding in the backyard.  Sorry neighbors.

Eric and Dylan did get the chance to attend the Motocross Gran Prix here in England back in August. It was probably the best weather weekend we had all year.

Dylan in front of Zach Osborne's pit. Zach is the lone American competing in the GP's. Dylan was excited to cheer for him.

Watching the start of the 11 & 12 year old kids race.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A Weekend NEAR the Queen...Legoland Fun!

Do you know where Her Majesty The Queen spends most of her weekends?  You might think Buckingham Palace in London.  Although that is her official residence, she spends most weekends at Windsor Castle in Berkshire.  It is the largest occupied castle in the world. 

We thought about taking the kids to visit Windsor Castle to have some tea with the Queen, but instead we went to Legoland, just past the castle.  It was about an hour and half drive for us.  We saw the castle on our drive.  You really can't miss it.  The picture on my phone did not come out well so I borrowed one from a website.

The kids were on their half term break, and we wanted to do something fun as a family.  We enjoyed three days at Legoland in Windsor.  It was a nice amusement park, except that it was built on a hill.  It's not so bad going down on your way into the park, but hauling three tired kids up the hills at the end of each day really wore us out!  Dylan and Amelia loved the rides, and we were all amazed to see the countless structures they built out of Legos! 

There is Windsor Castle in the distance.  See, we were NEAR the Queen.

"Recycle" your gum here.  Really?

Yes, it was very crowded.

BEST baby ever!

The view of miniland from the ride.  They have exhibits from several countries around the world including the USA, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Scotland and of course England.  It was amazing and educational at the same time.

Standing in front of London in miniland

Dylan LOVED taking pictures!

Wembley Stadium, where we saw the U.S. Women's Soccer Team win a gold medal

The J.F.K. Space Center
It was really cool.  Every few minutes, it had a countdown and smoked.  There was no real blast off, but it was still fun to watch.

Naptime while they waited in line for a ride

Amelia was a crazy driver!

Amelia chose Flash for her face paint.  We were both surprised.

Bathroom signs: My favorite is the baby!

Our boat ride through Fairy Tale Village

One of Dylan's many photos

Best idea of the day: to change into p.j.'s in the parking lot IN CASE they fell asleep on the way to the hotel.

We truly enjoyed our three days at Legoland, complete with fireworks and swimming at the hotel's indoor pool.  It was a nice mini vacation for us.  I cannot tell you how many people asked where in the states we were from.  I guess our accent gives it away.  Most people there were friendly, but nothing like Disneyland in Paris.  The workers here just did not seem excited to be doing their jobs.  But the important thing is that our kids were excited, and we had fun right along with them.  Dylan was thrilled to come home with a new Star Wars Lego set, and Amelia chose a stuffed zebra.  That doesn't surprise me at all.  She loves stuffed animals!  Cora was an angel, of course.  Thankfully, she still naps easily on the go.