Friday, February 26, 2010

SIX Years Old!

If there are snakes on the cupcakes, you know it's a boy's birthday party.While Fix was out of town speaking at Wallace's YAF Retreat, Rock and I went to Aiden's SIX year old birthday party. I couldn't believe that this little guy is SIX years old! For the record, he's not really blowing out the candles here, just being a ham for the camera!
And I couldn't believe how YUMMY these cupcakes were!
Aiden and Sophie were careful to eat every last milligram of icing. Even the little blob that accidentally fell off on the table was scraped over and over again.
I know she's not the birthday girl, and I know that's not her real smile, but I still really love beautiful little Sophie!
As usual, Rock really got into the Happy Birthday singing...
But most of the party he preferred playing with Mater to engaging with real people.
Oh and did I mention there were balloon hats? The birthday boy was supposed to pick his favorite one, but he wisely observed that they were all his favorite.
The proud parents!
The new scooter!
The pregnant bellies! So I guess we did get another chance to compare bellies after Shin's Shower. How is it that Annie is SO much smaller than me when she's only 3 months behind me?!?! And by the way, the matching outfits were totally not planned.
Here's the results of the last time we both found ourselves with pregnant bellies. Thanks again to Annie and Nick for hosting a great party! And Aiden, please stop growing up. It's just too much!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

London Day 7

Our final full day in London (we left the next morning) started at the Tower of London.
Even though we stopped for a warm beverage at Starbucks before we entered and I wore another one of my new scarves, there was nothing we could do to stop the extremely chilly, sorta rainy, utterly 'gross' weather. But regardless, the Tower of London was fascinating.
The first thing you need to know about the Tower of London is that it's not just one tower but a bunch of towers and buildings and houses and so on.
The Beefeaters (who live there with their families) had long warm capes to keep out the chill. I should have asked to borrow one of them instead of asking Fix to run up behind this Beefeater for this picture.
The White Tower was under renovation so we didn't see Henry VIII's armor. But we did see the stunning crown jewels and the spot where they kept prisoners before chopping off their heads...
And of course the ravens. Who, thankfully, did not bite us.
My favorite part about this place is that there were layers upon layers upon layers of history there. A wall from the 4th century would be built next to a castle built in 1078 next to a Tudor living area, etc. etc. Standing on one of the outer walls, we had a great view of the Thames and the Tower Bridge - a comparatively modern structure built in 1894.
Fix got a chance to pretend he was a guard. It took us all morning and part of the afternoon to take it all in and I would highly recommend this stop if you are heading to London soon. Just go on a sunny day.
That afternoon we headed back to The British Museum to take in some more history. But first we stopped for the obligatory telephone booth pictures.
Fix on his cell.
We particularly wanted to see this cylinder that shows Cyrus's decree. I will spare you all the other pictures we took of ancient writings/relics.
We met back up with Zuni (who was at class all day) to eat some yummy Italian food at a restaurant near Covent Garden. The tiramisu (my favorite dessert) was heavenly.
On the way back to Zuni's flat we stopped at platform 9 3/4s to push our way to Hogwarts.
We didn't want to find our way out of town, but we had to. An adorable little boy was waiting for us at home. So, that's the end of our London trip. Thanks once again to everyone who helped us get over there and to Zuni for being an excellent host!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

London Day 6

Day 6 was Sunday so we spent a good amount of the day in this room. It is the sanctuary at St. Helens Bishopsgate where Susanna goes to church.
We went to their morning service and then out to a delicious roast (traditional Sunday afternoon meal) at a delicious restaurant with Susanna's friend Jane. Can I remember the name of the restaurant?*** Nope! Can I at least show you a photo? Nope!
After a leisurely lunch, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. They had a fascinating display on jewelry, but my favorite part was seeing this salt cellar. Susanna had written a paper on this little guy that researched it's importance in history/it's place in the collection at the V&A, etc. etc.
We should have aimed her finger a little better in that first picture because this is the salt cellar itself. The precursors of modern day salt shakers, these guys used to sit on tabletops everywhere. Interesting, no? Anyway, our stop at the V&A was brief but nice and then we went back to St. Helens for evening worship.
Both sermons we heard brought glory to God and in the evening we had the pleasure of witnessing full-immersion baptisms in the baptismal font which was in the floor! I am very glad that Susanna has such a lovely church home in London. So, Day 6 was our least documented day but very enjoyable nonetheless.**
**We won't mention how Susanna got sick in the Underground station on our way back to church. She was a trooper and came and sat with us for the whole service but needless to say, this put a damper on any evening activities after the service.
*** Susanna just informed me that the name of the restaurant was Canteen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

London Day 5

We joined the crowds early Saturday morning (Day 5) to peruse the antiques and oddities on Portobello Road.
I purchased three new pashminas/scarves for one low price (you can see the new red one in these pictures)!
Fix found a really cool old "F" stamp in this printer's drawer. He also bought a beautiful loaf of freshly made ciabatta bread but we had some confusion over who had the camera and I missed snapping a shot of him buying it.
Our second and final fish-n-chips experience happened at Costas Greek Restaurant. Although they have a vast menu of various Greek dishes, the only thing I saw anyone eating was their famous fish-n-chips.
And they were pretty yummy!
Next stop was the famous department store, Harrods.
We made sure to stop by one of the three monuments to Princess Di and Dodi Fayed (his dad owns Harrods).
As you may recall from our trip to FAO Schwartz in NYC, Zuni is quite the Sylvanian fan. We were all shocked to see just how many different families/houses/venues they had!
See how Fix is standing (ciabatta bread in hand) next to this Lego guy? There are NO SEATS in Harrods - unless of course you are eating in one of their beautiful food halls (no pictures of those 'cause I'm stupid and didn't take any). After walking around Portobello Road and walking around this store, we were exhausted!
So we stopped in at the Paul bakery across the street.
The tea and the sweets were very yummy.
And sitting down for awhile revived our energy and our smiles.
After a quick stop at the grocery store, we put together quite a yummy feast with Fix's ciabatta bread taking center stage.
Doesn't Susanna have the cutest coffee table? It's perfect for dining in and watching the Olympics on her laptop. Which was all our weary bodies could handle that night.

Monday, February 22, 2010

London Day 4

To start Day 4, we used our bus tour tickets once more.
As Zuni is so helpfully demonstrating above, this tour had a recorded program instead of a live tour guide. But we still learned some fun facts...And saw this sign which proved I was meant to be in London. And perhaps I'm meant to go to Paris next? Right?!There are only 12 of these stations left in the city, but these little green huts are where Londoners used to flag down a horse and carriage 'taxis.' The modern taxis have a lot more horse power.
The next stop was Borough Market. This outdoor market is only open on select days and the vendors only sell food. You can buy produce or chocolate covered nuts (I bought WAY too many of these 'cause I didn't understand just how much I meant when I said "I'll take a scoop of both of these") or fresh fish or...
A sausage and onion sandwich from Boston Sausage (Fix) and a Chicken of Aragon pie from the Pieminister (Rachel). The major bummer was that they only had wooden utensils. It was like eating off a popsicle stick. Which, if you know my fear of unfinished wood, was so creepy I get the chills just thinking about it.

After eating to our fill, we went across town to Parliament and Westminster Abbey. Sorry to spoil the surprise for you locals, but soon there should be a picture of us in the paper.
We've often joked that Fix and his friend Stephen should start a church together and call it St. Stephens. Across from Big Ben is a pub by that name.
Next stop was Westminster Abbey. Susanna wasn't feeling well so she went back to her apartment and rested while Fix and I slowly took in all that the Abbey had to offer - including a prayer service in the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor.
I'd show you some pictures from the inside but their "no pictures" policy is just as strict as their policy on gum.
Back outside again, I posed with my birthday buddy, Honest Abe.
The tower of Big Ben is just gorgeous at sundown.
We went back over to St. Stephen for a mini-date. This pub was a super nice spot to relax and put our feet up.
Coca-Cola. The pause that refreshes.
We walked up past 10 Downing Street (where the Prime Minister lives) and the Horses Guards (unfortunately the horses were already indoors for the night) to Trafalgar Square.
Then we cut over to Piccadilly Circus, where we shopped for cheap souvenirs and caught the Underground back to Zuni's apartment.