Today was a busy day. I picked Nancy up from the airport and had a girls camp meeting. We did our Saturday cleaning and got ready for Brandon to come home from Sky Mountain. He made it home and seemed to have a fantastic time up there. He made some friends and did some great activities. We are all glad to have him home. He got home and some of his friends came and surprised him. Nicole and her great friend made a chocolate cake and spent some of the day together. So good to have good friends and to be together again as a family.
We had a ward 4th of July breakfast with a short program and good conversation with friends and food. It was hot, but we enjoyed getting our red, white, and blue on and hearing some patriotic talks and music and pledge allegiance to the flag.
Erik and Robin won the water balloon toss game. Very fun!
We went to Stanford campus to hear Jim and Nicholas Welch play the carillon bells. It was fun to listen and see lots of friends from the ward.Robin played in this fountain for a long time. It is fun to see her in pure bliss enjoying the water and the free play. She splashed me a bit and had me come in and play with her for awhile.
It was nice to be out and go for a long walk together. The walking reminded us of our Europe trip. The weather has been hot, so it is still warm at night which isn’t usual. It felt great. We are so blessed to have the freedoms that we do in this country.
It was great to have the Ashtons come for a visit. We went swimming all afternoon, love how that entertains the kids for hours. And then we had the Jacksons, Edwards, and the Ashtons over for some delicious Cafe Rio dinner with guacamole and pulled pork. It was yummy. I was amazed how much Maren and Madeline and Robin were such great friends. The Ashtons were in our ward for a year but we didn’t do nearly enough things together then. Now we have spent time in London and Palo Alto this summer! I am grateful for their friendship.
This week was a great week for visitors. One of my mission companions came by with her family on the way from Oregon to Disneyland. I haven’t seen them since we visited them in Portland on our way from Seattle to California. She was in the hospital after having her fifth child, who is now 3. It was great to catch up with them and see their family thriving and growing up. Our kids are getting so old!
One of my great friends from study abroad in London stayed with us a couple nights this week. She was in town for a wedding. A few years ago, we also found out that she and Erik are third cousins. It was fun to catch up and have some time with her this week.
Today was the day that Brandon and Jameson Welch got to fly to Salt Lake. Tomorrow they will start their two weeks at Sky Mountain Ranch. It is fun to see these boys growing up and growing in confidence. It seemed quite normal to be taking them to the airport and sending them off together to board their plane and figure out all the travel on their own. They are 14 and 15 years old now. We will definitely miss them, but I wouldn’t have them go anywhere else or participate in anything better. They will have two weeks of hiking, working, playing, growing, learning, friendships, and fun. Brandon took his guitar with him on his back. They had their backpacks and gear. What great boys!
Tonight was the send off for the Pearson family. They have been in Palo Alto for three years. I feel like they are members of our family. They are heading off to Colorado for more medical training. It is hard to say goodbye to so many great people. But I am excited for them in their new adventures. We had a bunch of families get together for dinner and goodbyes. Love these ladies!
This morning Maren woke up not feeling so well, so I stayed home from church with Maren and Robin. Erik took the other kids to church in the Paris ward. It was a very international ward with translation into Chinese, English, and of course it was in French. They saw the Mickelsens, the BYU study abroad group and the Handleys, and other people they knew.
Then some of us went up to see the gargoyles on top of Notre Dame, and others went over to the bridges over the Seine and got some crepes.
We met back up and got some crepes for dinner followed by some ice cream at Amorinos. They make flowers with the ice cream out of different flavors.
We walked down to the river to eat our ice cream and enjoyed the evening.
We went over to the lock bridge where people put locks to commemorate their love.
More views of the Notre Dame from that angle.
Somehow we got ourselves up early and ready for church and brought our lunch and some changes of clothes in a rolling bag. We took the tube over to the Hyde Park Chapel.
We got there just as sacrament meeting started. We saw the Miners! It is so comforting to see some of our best friends from home. We had a great meeting about missionary work. So many young people are heading out to serve all over the world. The kids got to go to their classes with their siblings and friends. We had some interesting lessons in Sunday School and Relief Society and the youth classes. There are a lot of Americans in these wards. And they are also very international.
We met the Robinson family from the Heritage Oaks ward. They also have five children close to our kids’ ages. The three of our families had similar plans for the day. We all brought lunches with us, so we didn’t have to buy much on Sunday, and we all wanted to go to Hyde Park for lunch. So we took the tube and busses over to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. We ate and tried to give away a Book of Mormon. There were people up preaching religion and about other issues they were passionate about.
After a little while in the park, we all caught a bus to head to the British Museum. It is full of amazing antiquities from all over the world. We saw a lot of things from Egypt and the Mediterranean area. Todd was a great tour guide. Andrea was a great friend to the girls. Maren and Erik went off on their own adventures. I took Robin and Camille to explore and go up and down stairs. So much to see, never enough time.
Photo credit to Todd Miner
We grabbed another bus, all three families, and headed toward St. Paul’s Cathedral. We enjoyed seeing the amazing architecture of the church, and then listened to an organ recital. I have to admit, I slept on Erik’s shoulder during much of it. I saw a few others dozing. But it was nice to hear music in a large cathedral. And we enjoyed being with all of our friends and seeing the building.
A nice missionary couple was at St. Paul’s and snapped this picture of all of us, photo credit to Spencer’s camera
It has truly been a highlight of our trip to see all these great friends this week in London!
We tried to find dinner at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, an old pub where Charles Dickens used to write. We found the place but it was closed on Sunday.
So we headed back toward where the Miners were staying and finally found a place for some burgers and fries and shakes.
It was some yummy food and great to be with friends. We stopped in and saw the Miners’ flat and then said goodbye. They are heading to Italy in the morning. We have one more day in London and then on to Paris!
Today was just what we needed after a long day of walking and touring yesterday. We let the kids sleep in a bit. We decided to just take our time and just go to Waterloo Station to catch a train out to Hampton Court Palace. We got some sandwiches and had a half hour to relax and be in the station until our train took off. Escalators and good pastries keep us happy when we are in between events. We had decided to go the half hour out to Hampton Court and then the Ashtons invited us to dinner. Shannon has helped me so much while I have been planning this trip. We are excited to see the palace and have some time with our friends.
Hampton Court Palace was built by Henry VIII and was full of history. We learned so much about the history of Henry the VIII and his many wives, as well as the history of monarchy and how they lived. It was amazing to see the majesty and art and extensive palace and gardens here.
One of the highlights at Hampton Court is the maze. We all spent 20 minutes trying to find the middle. It was harder than I thought.
After we left Hampton Court, we headed across Bushy Park toward the Ashton’s home. It was a big park with some fountains and even wild deer that live in a section of the park.
The front door of our friend’s home. We had a delightful tour of their three story home and had some great talks and a great dinner with delicious hamburgers and hot dogs and salad and ice cream. We laughed and laughed and the kids played and jumped on their trampoline and just relaxed.
The two photographers getting the shot of our families set up.
Photo credit to Shannon
The kids took us part way to the train that was just around the corner from their house. We laughed and had so much fun visiting with the Ashtons. It was great for us to just be in a family home with books and games and great food and conversation. We loved our evening catching up in London! I wish we could have stayed longer. It makes me grateful for loving homes full of learning and the gospel. I hope our home feels like that refuge for people. We needed some home time after being on the road for 5 days! We took the train back to London and found our way back to the apartment. We will have to get up early for church tomorrow, so we had some showers and reading and then went to bed.
Our first full day in London. It is so fun that Heidi and her whole family are here in Europe at the same time as us! We decided to head over to Buckingham Palace to see the Royal Mews and the changing of the guard together.
Robin woke up at 4:30. Jet lag is hitting us. I actually woke up around that time too. It was already light outside. She tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. So around 6:30 Erik headed out for a walk with her. The other kids got up around 8-ish. We went over to the Georgian House Hotel lobby and then down to the basement for the breakfast that came with our apartment rental. We had lots of choices, from a full English breakfast (which I got) to pancakes or croissants or fruit and toast.
After that, we got on a bus toward Buckingham Palace. We took a short tour of the Royal Mews, which is the working stables for Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, most of the horses were out getting ready for the changing of the guard ceremony that happens every morning around 11:30. But we saw many of the ceremonial carriages that are housed there. It turns out that 150 people live in this area of Buckingham Palace and help the stables run smoothly. We had met up with Heidi and her kids. So we spent the next few hours together.
We had a front row view outside the gates. But it was a drawn out affair. My favorite part is just the red and black uniforms and pageantry. After that, we headed through Green Park toward a bus and went to Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens. We wanted to let the kids play for awhile. So we found the Princess Diana memorial park near Kensington Palace and the kids played for awhile. We found some sandwiches and pizza and drinks. It was fun to be there with the Mickelsens.
Heidi and her kids headed off to Westminster Abbey, and we decided to go see the grounds and take a tour of Kensington Palace. I have never been there. The palace was interesting, the exhibits were very creative. This is the palace where Princess Diana lived most of the time. When we were nearby a helicopter came in and then took off. Prince William and Kate live here sometimes too. Queen Victoria lived here when she became queen and reigned for years.
All throughout the exhibit they had recordings that told about secrets from the palace. So we would sit down and listen to the recordings that told of tragedy and loss and royal intrigue.
There were interactive exhibits and people playing card tricks. Very entertaining.
We relaxed in the park, spent some time talking about how we can all be kinder and more respectful to each other, and then decided we needed a change of pace. So since we had just started using our 6 day London pass we noticed there was a bowling alley nearby where we could play a free game of bowling on our pass. It seemed like a good diversion from walking and touring.
We found the tube back, grabbed some cereal and milk and croissants and Hobnobs to take home, and headed back to our apartment. Maybe after tonight we will be over jet lag. Tomorrow is Harry Potter Studio tour!
Last night was the seminary graduation for Nicole and her senior friends from church. I was proud of them for their hard work and sacrifice with early morning rising and scripture study over the last four years. What a great accomplishment and start for their lives. I will be excited to see what they all do and accomplish and become in the next few years. They have all been a great support to each other over the last few years in high school and church and seminary.
Receiving the diploma from her old seminary teacher Shaking the bishop’s (Dad’s) hand Fun with friends With the key note speaker, Mark Madsen The seven graduates – Miko Josh Sinclaire Lena Nicole Spencer Dante The siblings hanging out With Janet- dear friend, seminary teacher, Young Women’s PresidentWith Jammie and Grandpa