Monday, January 12, 2015

Winter Break

Benjamin and the girls had two weeks off of school for Christmas break. It was so nice to have everyone home. We tried to take advantage of the time off to go see some things, although we did do quite a bit of just hanging out at home, which I really enjoy.

We went to Kensington Palace, which was interesting. It's where Queen Victoria lived the first 18 years of her life, most of the time she was in just a few rooms. It was very fascinating to learn about her, she was quite amazing. This is also where Princess Diana lived and where Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince George live, although the papers rumored they were away for the Christmas holiday.
We also wandered a bit around Kensington Gardens, London seems to do a good job of making sure there is lots of green space. My favorite was the Peter Pan statue.  Also in the gardens is the Princess Diana memorial playground, and it was awesome. You are not allowed in without children and the kids loved it. It has a big pirate ship, Indian teepees and a rock crocodile. In the warm weather there is a water feature for them to play in, we may have to go back. There was also a whole section of musical play things, some you jump on, or bang on to make music. It was a lot of fun.

And no, I don't make my girls wear skirts, they do that on their own. It's making them wear jeans that is difficult.
Here's all of us in front of Kensington Palace. We don't get too many pictures with all of us.

Princess Diana wallpaper

Ben, the royal adviser.

In front of Kensington Palace with statue of  Queen Victoria

Pirate ship entry

On the pirate ship


Life boat

Janie got brave enough to climb to the top of the mast

Jumping chimes

Peter Pan statue

Another day we went to Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland. During December they have carnival rides, an Ice Palace, Circus and Markets that could take up hours ( and enough of them you could get lost in, I know from personal experience, Luckily it was only me that was lost and not any kids.)  We went through the Ice Palace, which had lots of cool sculptures and we went to the circus! We had bought our tickets online, and we got there early so we decided just to wait there. Luckily, we got in line early and ended up sitting on the front row! It was very fun. They had acrobats, a juggler, a clown, and some tight rope walkers which were my favorite. They didn't use any nets or anything and did some pretty cool tricks. I didn't take many pictures that day so you'll have to use your imagination.

Ice sculptures

The temperature inside was - 8 degrees Celsius. Can you imagine anything so cold? It was more like 10 outside. (The conversion for you Fahrenheit people is 17 degrees and 50 degrees. I'm finding that London weather isn't nearly so dreary as Utah weather in spite of all the rain.)

Front row at the circus.

Circus, I've been asking Ben for years to take me.

All in all, a great holiday. Now its back to real life.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Top Ten Reasons I'm grateful for my Smartphone

In no particular order, here are my top ten reasons I'm grateful to live in a time when I can own a smartphone. (By the way, isn't my new case cute?)

1. The first day here, I had an appointment to see someone about finding a place to live. We had mapped out where it was, and how to get there but as soon as I walked out of the hotel, I got lost. No worries, I just asked my smartphone to tell me how to get there and it told me every turn to take, even while I was walking. It's also super convenient whenever we're going anywhere to find directions, which buses and trains to take.  It is not fool proof, sometimes we get stuck or things don't work out how they're supposed to, but it's still very nice.

2. Even though I live on the other side of the world from my family, it isn't too difficult to talk to them. Thanks to Google Hangouts I can video chat, text and even call any number in the US for free.

3. It is very easy to check and see what the weather will be like. So I know when to be adamant about fighting with my kids about wearing a coat and when to let it go.

4. Occasionally I will find a song the girls especially like on you tube and we listen on the way to school. (Their favorites are the songs they danced to on Mom's Wii)  It is a great way to lift the mood in the morning and make sure they're happy when they start their day.

5. I can read my scriptures anywhere, and I find I'm a lot more likely to read when they are right there in my hand already.

6. I have started having my groceries delivered by Asda, and they have this great app that lets me add things to my list, compare prices and set up delivery. It's very convenient, especially because when I don't have them delivered, I have to carry them home all by myself.  You know that game you play called how much can I carry in one trip? It gets a lot harder when the one trip is a ten minute walk.

7. I have a map that allows me to follow Ben on his way home. So I can see when he's still at school, when he was at school 45 minutes ago and it hasn't updated because he's on the tube, and when he's on the bus nearly home. I love knowing he'll be walking in the door soon.

8. Most of the time when I cook, I decide what to make, or look at what ingredients I have and find a recipe on my phone. We would probably have buttered rice every night if not for that.

9. I can take pictures of my cute kids and the fun things we're doing and share them immediately with family and friends.

10. I can listen to my music anywhere, and thanks to chrome cast, I can start videos for the kids without getting out of bed.