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Water camera fun

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
We remembered to take the underwater camera to the pool Sunday for our weekly pizza and pool party with friends. Kids these days are growing up a whole new level of "digital native." I let Perry hold the camera while we drove down the road to the pool and in that 2 minute drive he figured out how to turn the thing on and take a picture. Now granted his finger was in front of the lens for all the photos he was taking, but he was taking them nonetheless. 

I convinced P to share the camera with mommy for a little while to actually get some pictures of our boy playing in the water. 

Travis and the Caudles came and played with us. It rained right before we met up which ran off everyone else from the pool so we had the place to ourselves mostly. The water is so warm now. There was visible steam coming off the water after the rain came through and cooled the air down outside.

Air Perry!!!!

In Cahoots around London

Friday, July 24, 2015
Day two of our London adventure started bright an early with a leisurely meander from the hotel to the British Museum. It was Sunday and the streets of London were nearly deserted which made for some great photo opportunities.

Our hotel was right near St. James Park so we walked through it several times going to and from various places. It was so pretty with views of the London Eye in the distance.

The British Museum was great. We got there when it opened so we were able to see most everything without too bad of crowds. It took some patience and pushing to get up close to the Rosetta stone still. We aren't just huge museum people so we spent a couple of hours and had had enough. One of the most unique exhibits was the thing in the bottom right of the picture collage below. It was an exhibit all about how many medications people take in their lifetime. 

That afternoon we went to Fortnum and Mason for high tea. I'll talk more about it later when I do food stuff, but we had a great time eating and drinking tea and taking a break from the day. The peonies and blue dishes were just fabulous.

After tea we did some random shopping around town and went back to the hotel to rest a bit before our last excursion for the day, which was evening food and drinks at this super cool bar called Cahoots. I found this place when I essentially googled "best bars in London" one night and it sounded too interesting to pass up.

Cahoots is a 1940's air raid bunker, renovated into a really trendy 1940s themed bar. Menus were printed on newspapers and we sat in a little alcove decorated with canned goods. The food was very ration like...but I had the best fish sandwich served with ketchup in a tin plate. There was live music in the form of the Hotsie Totsies. And the drinks were so cool and unique. The place is pretty well hidden...the fact that it is underground doesn't help...but once we found the place it was a really fun way to spend the night.

And it made us feel pretty darn hip and cool. : ) After we had our fill of 1940s music and fun we walked the mile or two back to the hotel and went to sleep. We had another big day ahead.

Hello London

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
We have been home from our amazing 9 night trip to Europe for about a month and I am just now finding time to sit and sift through pictures and blog. It has been a crazy season.

We had an awesome time abroad. And I can't wait to spend the next little while sharing all the pictures and adventures from it. I had never been to Europe at all and Andrew had not been in quite a while). We decided that we wanted to make it mostly an urban city trip, spending most of our time in London and Paris. Working with our travel agent we found and booked one hotel in London for the first 5 nights of the trip and one hotel in Paris for the subsequent 3 nights (notice that doesn't add up to night was spent on an airplane). We stayed in the cities except for a one day excursion out to the English countryside and one day at Disneyland Paris.

While we were away, Perry spent the week with Granna and Granddaddy. He had a blast and I am pretty sure did not really even notice we were gone. When we FaceTimed with them he would look up and say hi to us and then immediately go back to playing. I know he was loved on so much and totally spoiled.

It was not exactly a relaxing vacation. But hey you can sleep at home when Europe is not waiting outside your door. And when it is daylight until 11 pm and 11pm actually feels like 3 pm to your is just really hard to make yourself go to sleep at any kind of decent hour.

There is just so much to tell and show. I think my best plan is to walk through things day by day with what we did and saw. Then maybe compile all the foodie stuff into one post for each city.

So here goes....and I apologize in advance for the total photo overshare.

We left Huntsville in the evening, flew to Atlanta and then on to Heathrow International overnight. We slept some, enjoyed some not so yummy airplane food, read tour books and anxiously awaited the first glimpses of London.

When we landed it should have been the middle of the night "America time" but it was actually 11 am in our new time zone. So the struggle ensued to keep ourselves awake until evening time. We got through customs (which involved a lengthy discussion with the custom agent about what a genetic counselor is) and got a taxi to the hotel. Heathrow is a ways out of the city and we had an awesome taxi driver who talked to us and told us about what we were looking at as we drove through the city.

Our hotel was amazing (pictures below). We stayed at the St. James' Court, which is a Taj Hotel literally half a block from Buckingham Palace. The rooms were huge and had free wifi, free breakfast, and warm towel racks in the bathroom. It was great. And the location was just perfect for being within a quick walk from just about everything and situated in between two tube stations so getting to the far away stuff was no problem either.

After we got checked in and got showers because we felt icky after traveling all night. Then we forced ourselves to not take a nap and go out and explore the city. We walked by Westminster Abby, Big Ben and Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Horse Guards, and Buckingham Palace. Walking felt good after being cooped up on a plane.

The most exhilarating part of the afternoon was that there were a few thousand other locals who also thought it was a good afternoon to be hanging out near Big Ben and Parliament. In the form of a socialist protest (exhibit A: top right photo above) and we had to swim upstream in a thick swarm of angry Londoners to get through. It was rowdy to say the least. Little did we know this was some foreshadowing and strikes became quite the theme of our trip.

After our walk we headed over the Thames for dinner and a spin on the London Eye.

We loved the ride on the London Eye. The views were great (albeit a little dreary since it had been raining) and it was a relaxing way to spend some time after dinner. The rotation takes about 30 minutes so you really can't feel yourself moving at all. We had pre-purchased tickets online ahead of time which we were super glad we did. It allowed us to walk right past a pretty big line of people and walk straight on to the Eye. They have lots of different ticket options and what we went with and what worked well for us was the Flexi Fast Track ticket, which gives you express entry at any time you want on a specific day. I knew I wanted to do this on our first day but had no idea what time we would get there and want to do it so this gave us lots of flexibility but still let us skip the lines.

By the time we got off the Eye it was getting late and we were very ready for some sleep. We walked back to the hotel, set our alarms and immediately fell fast asleep.

Pre-School Cheesing: volume nine

Weekend Fun

Sunday, July 19, 2015
We have had a super fun weekend. It started with a brief one night trip down to Birmingham on Friday to visit with our good friends Meredith and Elliott and meet and love on their two month old baby girl, Hadley. It was so nice to catch up on life. And baby snuggles are the best. Perry was much better this time about the whole mommy holding another baby thing which was good. He was pretty smitten by baby Hadley...always wanted to know where she was.

Mere and I talked about how when we pictured ourselves in college all grown up that we could easily picture us working and married but we never pictured life with kids. I guess it was just too far in the future. And here we are roomies 8 years later with our babies.

Saturday morning we woke up and had a yummy breakfast and then all headed to the Birmingham Zoo. It was fun but oh my goodness it was HOT. We survived about 3 hours and were all but puddles as we made our way to the car. We got to see lots though including a sea lion show and lion feeding and even got to throw some apples to an elephant.  Perry's favorite was seeing the lions eat.

Perry was asleep in the awesome air conditioned car before we made it out of Birmingham. He had had a big morning. We all made it out hydrated and not sunburned which was a win in my books. When we got home it was straight into the bath for this sweaty and sunscreen coated boy.

Thanks Mere and Elliott for hosting us while taking care of a 9 week old baby. It was so fun!

We ended our Saturday with a little more fun and took Perry to see the movie Inside Out at the theater. Its his first real movie minus a $1 movie excursion one summer morning last year. This theater had more than a couple people in it. P did awesome and sat and watched the whole thing while munching on popcorn for dinner. I think he really enjoyed it. And we did too. It was really cute. 

Excited to have reached the stage that we can start going to animated movies as a family.

Holy water wings, Batman

Saturday, July 18, 2015
Last Sunday we did our traditional Sunday summer night ritual of pizza and pool time.

It was also our 7 year anniversary. And I can't go without posting a picture of the pretty flowers I had waiting on me when I got home from my work trip last week. Each year I get a bouquet of flowers that mimic my wedding bouquet. The florist really out did himself this year with the biggest hot pink roses I think I have ever laid eyes on. Happy 7 years, Andrew!

For our anniversary we celebrated playing at the pool with Perry. Which was perfect. We had a chance to break out a batman swim shirt we bought for him when he was just an infant. But I remember it was on sale at Gap Kids, and we just thought it was the cutest thing ever with its hood and ears. We have been anxiously awaiting the day when it would fit and we could take these pictures. Such a cute little swimmer batman!

We also let Perry try out a new pair of water wings. And oh my goodness did they revolutionize pool time for him, and us. He was suspicious of them at first and wanted to take them off immediately. But with some coaxing, he give it a go and within a minute was swimming around the pool by himself and had forgotten he had these weird blow up things on his arms. Now we stayed super close by, but he loved his new freedom of being able to move about on his own. He seems to take to the idea of swimming and kicking pretty well and doesn't really mind some splashes in his eyes and mouth here and there. He had a great time playing and jumping off the side to us.

Kiddie Carnival

Thursday, July 16, 2015
Last Saturday literally as soon as I flew back in town and rendezvoused with Perry and Andrew, we piled in the car and headed out to Athens to the Kiddie Carnival sponsored by the local Lions Club.

I had heard good things about the event. That it was super cheap and super sweet, with really low profile rides perfect for toddlers and little kids. I would agree it was all of those things (especially the cheap one) and it was a fun place to explore and play for an evening, but it did not knock our socks off. All but a couple of the rides were still a little too big for P so it may be more fun in a couple more years probably.

We had a good and inexpensive dinner of hot dogs and fries and then went to ride the cars. P loved the cars. He did great sitting still and "driving" his car around and around.

After the cars he said he wanted to take a spin on the tiny choo choo train that was being driven by what looked like a giant (compared to the tiny train) around a track. So we put him on and off they went. Unfortunately the downfall was that it was dark by this time and when the train went through a shed, it got very dark. So Perry emerged from the shed on the train in tears. So much that they stopped the train and pulled him off. Poor thing. When he found his way back to our arms he was able to articulate "It was dark. It scared me." Bless.

Once that happened he was pretty much done and had no real interest in going back on the cars or anything else. He wasn't too freaked out for ice cream though. So we sat and ate another snack before heading back to home. It was a fun family play night.

The carnival continues through July on weekend nights. Tickets to ride things are a mere 50 cents which is awesome. And you can use your tickets for 50 cents at the concession stand too...which came in handy when we didn't need a ride we needed ice cream at the end.

PS - Athens is about as far away as you can get from Hampton Cove and still feel like you are somewhat driving locally.  I always forget how it is the polar opposite direction. Did Perry fall asleep on the long drive home? No way. He sat there and jabbered the whole drive. Needlesstosay P was a little late to bed that night. Oops. But worth it.

Wordless Wednesday: Cow Appreciation Day edition

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Week in Wisconsin

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Sorry for the hiatus in blogging. My word it has been busy around here. And I have been at home all of one out of the last four weeks with the big trip to Europe (which I promise will be blogged eventually...2000 pictures is a lot to handle) and a work trip this past week in Wisconsin.

Hopefully things will calm down a little now and we can get back into a normal fun summer routine here.

Wisconsin was great. This was for the Games Learning Society conference which we scouted out last year. This year we had a much bigger presence and set up our game Touching Triton in the showcase. We learned a lot and made some really good connections and got good feedback from others on what we have been doing in our serious game development.

Wisconsin weather in the summer is just spectacular. The Univeristy there in Madison is right on Lake Mendota which made for some pretty awesome views walking around. Don't think I would feel the same way in January.

but I could just sit right there for a spell

the views and weather were perfect for a little run too

hello DG house
And there was lots of yummy food and lots of cheese consumed because well it was Wisconsin. And I love cheese.

Yes, top left is a selection of diverse (and very not traditional) deviled eggs. One was soaked in soy sauce, another deep fried. Go figure you have to go to the north to get a deep fried deviled egg. Middle right was a table built right into the side of a cow statue. Got to love the randomness of college towns.

Happy America Day

Monday, July 13, 2015
This is a week late, but we had a great 4th of July weekend celebrating our country's birthday with family and friends.

Saturday morning we got up early and met the Moreland family for brunch on Aunt T's porch. We had lots of yummy food and mimosas of course. And celebrated Apolonia's birthday which is on the 4th. So we had chocolate cake for breakfast. What is more American than that. lol. It was great to get to sit and visit with family. Perry ran around and played. And got totally freaked out by the fake snakes sitting in the windows to scare off the squirrels. It's hard to explain "fake" to a 2 year old.

Love this little American boy!

Later that day we went over to the Garrett's to hang out and grill wings and toast 'smores. Love fun times with friends.

Maybe P will be a soccer star. He certainly looks the part here.

We had wings, potato skins and "red white and blue" cheese and cracker options and just kind of grazed all night.

Sunday night we got together with the Easts for one final Independence Day celebration. Matt grilled out steak and we had lots of sides and finished the meal off with home made ice cream. The Eckleys have this awesome new screened in porch with a big farm table that we all fit at perfectly so we could dine al fresco.

After dinner the kids went for a little walk with Granddaddy around the neighborhood. He was recovering from a biopsy procedure and needed to not sit still too long. It was sweet to see the cousins walk and play together. 

Other festivities included a mentos/diet coke experiment (a different kind of 4th of July explosion) and some side walk chalk play time.

It was a fun weekend all the way around. The weather was super iffy all weekend so given that we did pretty well packing the fun in. I think everyone was shooting off fireworks between rain showers.

Happy Birthday America! Let Freedom Ring!

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