Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Micky D's

We went to McDonalds for dinner. Zoe is big enough to crawl around in the playland, but she gets scared sometimes and needs a little help. She had a little bit of trouble getting up the stairs and stuff at first, but after a while was going up and down just fine. At one point Grace was outside the playland playing with some other part of it and I heard Zoe’s voice hollering “I can’t get out! Mommy! I can’t get out! Help me, Mommy!” She was really distressed. I ran over and got Grace and asked her to please go in and find Zoe.
Usually she doesn’t pay too much attention to this sort of thing but this time she took off like a girl with a mission. As she crawled in she started yelling, “I’m coming, Zoe! I’m coming! I’ll rescue you! I’m coming, Zoe!” It was just the cutest thing. Zoe stopped crying pretty quickly knowing the Calvary was on its way, and Grace found her and led her out.

Grace and I were playing. I was smiling at her and she stopped, pointed at my cheeks and said “Look mommy, you have nipples.”

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's day

We both woke up pretty early, before seven. We got up and went to Ruth’s Diner up Emigration canyon for breakfast, and had a really nice meal. The folks brought the girls home that afternoon and they were pretty happy to see us. They are quite the darling little souls. Then we met at the park up by Scott and Karma’s for a mother’s day lunch with my family. It was a very nice mother’s day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

London day 10

Pat, bless his heart, volunteered to drive us to the airport. And we were too appreciative to say no. He was at the hotel before 7:00 a.m. Our flight left at 10:10, and frankly we probably would have missed the flight if we would have gotten ourselves to the airport. We hadn’t realized it would take as long as it did, and this way we didn’t have to lug our luggage all the way around London’s transportation system. So we had a very nice ride to Gatwick with Pat, who must have left his house at o’dark thirty to get to the hotel that early.
In the airport bookstore I found the next book in the series I’d been reading, in fact I’d just finished up the previous one the evening before. So I had interesting reading material. Jeff dozed and watched the movie on the way back.
He had to switch seats with someone to sit by me on the way from Cincinnati to Salt Lake, giving up a first class seat.
We arrived about 6:30 at night, but as we were loading up the suitcases into the car he realized he’d grabbed someone else’s bag. We had to go back to the airport, where they phoned the person whose bag we’d taken, and then wait for them to return to the airport with our bag. We got home close to 8:00, maybe 8:30 at night. Jeff went for dinner, and while I was waiting I thought I’d just wither away. I felt pretty wrung out. He stayed up that night until about 11:00, but I went to bed before 10:00. I just couldn’t stay awake anymore.

Friday, May 12, 2006

London day 9

This was my last real day in London. I could have hit a bunch of museums that I hadn’t made it to before, or even gone through the Tower of London. Odd how we’d gotten so accustomed to it that we didn’t even look at it as a draw. It was just the Tower that we walked by every time we went somewhere. Instead I went shopping. I walked up to Liverpool underground station to Julia’s shop and blew one hundred pounds, or close to $200 in jewelry. I bought a necklace, matching earrings, a pin, another pin and matching earrings, and a pair of earrings for Mom. Considering I had 50% off from Julia, I guess that means I would have spent $400? No way… now I can’t remember which it was. If I spent 50 pounds or 100.
Then I went to the Covent Gardens tube stop and found the Underground gift shop. I bought Tee shirts for the girls, a couple of metal plaques, and a toy double-decker bus and british taxi for the girls. I think that was it. Then I walked to the London ThoughtWorks office and waited for Jeff, who was in a meeting.
We had tickets to the musical of Chicago that afternoon. It wasn’t tops on Jeff’s list of things to see, but I’d seen it before and really liked it, and more importantly it was one of the only plays showing that had a matinee on Friday. Turns out we walked near, but not by, the theater about five times, but never found it until it was getting time to go in and not be late. The play was okay, it wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered, but it still has good music and kind of fun dancing.
After the play we were meeting Angela, a friend of Jeff’s from New Zealand who stayed with us for a conference a couple of years back. She now works for ThoughtWorks in London too.
She suggested a really good Dim Sum restaurant called Ping Pong. I had a couple of quite nice dishes, and I think it was about the best meal out we had. Jeff and Angela could have talked all night about work. She is a very nice person and is fun to listen to, just with her accent and all.

Did I mention our hotel was right by the Tower of London? It was awfully pretty walking around it late at night.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

London day 8

Jeff took the day off and we slept in. He decided that of the options we had, he was most interested in the Tate Modern Art museum. We walked over to the museum, and took a nap on the lawn with a bunch of other people eating their lunch. Jeff considers that the best day of our vacation.

The museum was fantastic, too. I got to see a lot of art I’d only seen in books, and the Monet water lilies that took up a whole wall were just incredible. I really enjoyed myself.
We bought a doodle book for Thing 1 in the museum gift shop, and some other stuff for both girls.
This is the view from the museum shop balcony, out over the Thames, where Hubby bought a latte. Any day is much better for him if he can stop somewhere and have a latte.

We walked back to the Tower bridge and had dinner at an Indian place that we’d found before.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

London day 7

I slept in again. After deliberating about how much of a vacation slob I should be, I decided to go to the Sommerset House that I had heard about at the user’s group. They told me that if the National Gallery displays an impressionistic painting, chances are it’s on loan from the Sommerset’s gallery called the Caulfort or something like that. It had a lot of impressionistic painting, which I like, and others, which are interesting too. And of course, a gift shop that tempted me and my wallet. It was a pretty building that I wandered around for a while.

After the museum I went to Islington to the Camden Passage antiques market which they say is only open on Wednesday and on weekends. I was tempted by many things, but didn't end up buying much. I found some neat reproductions of metal signs, notices like you might find on the wall, but most were way to risque for my house.

This is a video I took off the Tower Bridge.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

London day 6

Julia took me to Cambridge. She very graciously took the tube into town to meet me but there was a half hour delay with her sitting in a tunnel with no cell phone service. Pat had loaned Jeff his spare cell phone which was extremely handy, to say the least, so we were able to contact people. Anyway, it was a comedy of transportation errors from that point on. We walked to Liverpool tube station because I wanted to see Julia’s store there. Then we went to get train tickets, but the line between Liverpool and Cambridge wasn’t running. The man at the ticket counter told us to take a tube to King’s Cross and from there catch a train. Julia bought all the tickets, I was fresh out of cash. I never repaid her for what to me would have been $45 in tickets. Anyway, we went down to catch the tube and they said it was delayed. The announcement was basically saying no trains are running, find a bus.
Somewhat defeated we stood on the platform and Julia called her friend in Cambridge that we were going to have lunch with. As they were talking, here came the tube. We made it to King’s Cross Station where we could catch the train, and had a lovely trip to Cambridge.
Of course, as anyone who has read the Harry Potter books knows, Platform 9 3/4 is at the King's Cross station. (Did I mention Pat introduced me to Harry Potter when we stayed with him in October of 1999? It hit England, of course, before it hit America.)

Julia is a marvelous person who I would like to get to know better under any circumstances, and I enjoyed talking to her on the way to Cambridge and back. Her friend Maureen is an absolutely charming woman as well, and as we walked from Maureen’s beautiful home across a cow pasture on the skirts of Cambridge into town for lunch I felt like I was living a chapter from some novel. These two cultured British women women with their beautiful English accents and their soft lilting voices discussing their friends as we picked our way across the pasture... It was something out of a movie. It was just delightful. We saw Julia’s Cambridge store, then met Maureen’s husband for lunch.
Julia and I just made it to the train in time to get back… She needed to pick up her kids. I was going to come out with her and then come back into town with Pat for a user’s group that Hubby was going to attend, but decided it might be better if I just took the tube back to the hotel.
Julia has cancer. She had… oh shoot. I can’t remember where it was the first time… Was it Breast cancer? Anyway, five years ago, just after she met Pat, she found out she had cancer. Her husband had died of cancer three years or so before… Anyway Pat helped her through this, and she survived, only to find out recently that it had come up again in her spine. The doctors are giving her two years, though they say they have a patient with the same type of cancer who is going on eight. Hearing this about this wonderful woman his just heartbreaking. You want her to live to be 100, a charming little old English woman.

Jeff and I went to the user’s group that night… a bar full of people talking shop. Angela from New Zealand met us there, and I talked a little with her, but mostly the people I talked to were nice computer people who took pity on the wife of the American. I did get a lead on a good museum, and left early with one of Jeff’s friends who pointed it out to me. He walked me to the tube stop and I went back to the hotel and read until Jeff came in about midnight, I think.

Monday, May 8, 2006

London day 5

This is the day I went to Hampton Court. Unfortunately I didn’t get very good directions on how to get out there off the internet before I left. I found a transportation website which would give me routes to where I was going, but I had checked “fastest” route available and it seemed to give me some questionable advice. Sure, it might save me three minutes to make all these weird train and bus connections, but if I would have just taken the most direct route, it would have gotten me right there. After getting several conflicting opinions on how to best get there, I followed the map I saw in one of the tube stations and took the tube to Wimbledon to catch a train. At Wimbledon the right train was terribly delayed, so I took another one that had been suggested by the internet. Unfortunately, that was rather shoddy advice and it took me a little bit past the palace. The conductor advised me to take another train BACK up the line quite a ways to catch the train that went to the Hampton Court station. So I asked the man at the ticket booth, and a nice lady buying a ticket told me to just go across the street and catch the bus. Which is what I did. This is all so much easier in English than it would be in French… Anyway when the bus came a charming little old English woman started talking to me and took me under her wing and got me to Hampton Court, which was incidentally the first stop on the bus.
Hampton Court was really fascinating, it was Cardinal Woolsey’s palace before Henry VIII took it away from him. It doesn’t have much furniture in it, just a huge palace of empty rooms, for the most part. But it is just huge, with interesting rooms and history. The gardens are gorgeous, and extensive.

My ride out took two hours, my ride back took one. Jeff worked late but I was able to read a book I was into.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

London day 4

We met Pat and Julia and the kids at the Tower tube stop at 10:30 or something. We caught a boat up the Thames to Greenwich, which was wonderful. There are lots of interesting buildings you can see from the river, it gives you an idea of how big and old London really is, and that’s only one part of it. Greenwich is fascinating, from the Cutty Sark tea ship (which set a world sailing ship record from London to America, I think,) and the Royal Observatory.

The history up there is very interesting, from the Longitude information to the general observatory information. I bought a wood picture of the Tower Bridge at the market, since our hotel was right by the bridge.

We took a boat back up the Thames to Westminster, where Pat and Julia took the kids home to do homework. Jeff and I opted to walk back to the Tower Bridge, which was quite a way. We stopped to see a Salvador Dali exhibit along the way, and had dinner at a fairly good restaurant… though everything is so outrageously expensive there. Just multiply the price on everything, and a dinner which was kind of expensive before just becomes outrageously expensive. And there aren’t a lot of restaurants to choose from around the Tower of London, where the hotel was. It’s kind of a business district.

We called home every night, I think, to check on the girls. They did just fine, hardly seeming to miss us at all. Mom would tell me the funny things they would say, and that they were keeping really busy with them, but the girls were fine.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

London day 3

We slept in. Jeff hasn’t been sleeping enough. I guess I haven’t either.
We went to eat breakfast at Starbucks and I’m embarrassed to say how often during this trip I ate there instead of something more… authentic. We took the tube over to the South Kensington stop and went to the museum of Natural History. Grace would have loved the dinosaurs, and I think Zoe would have liked some of the other displays. They had a big whale, and lots of other animals, and a volcano and… well, it was a natural history museum.

We stopped for a snack at a cafĂ© near the museum, then instead of going out to Pat and Julia’s like early like I thought we might, Jeff was tired and we went back to the hotel for a quick nap. We took the tube out later and had a very nice dinner with Pat and Julia and her son Luke. Her daughter Lizzy showed up later.

Friday, May 5, 2006

London day 2

I landed around noon in London, and took an express train into town, then took a tube to the hotel. It was kind of intimidating and I was feeling very tired and overwhelmed. I stayed in the hotel and dozed just a little, then roused myself enough to go for a walk. The hotel was REALLY nice, The Grange. It was just back behind the Tower of London on the north side of the Thames river. I walked across the Tower bridge and down to the London bridge on the South side, the crossed over and walked back to the hotel. Jeff had beat me back to the hotel.
We had a really simple dinner – I had a sandwich from Subway and Jeff had fish and chips from a stand.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Mommy (and Daddy) go to London

Jeff had been in London for nearly a week. I flew out on a Thursday to join him. Aunt Jerry and Uncle Spencer showed up about an hour before my folks were going to take me to the airport, which was pretty poor timing. Dad helped me bustle around, getting lunch for the girls and myself and trying to get everything ready to go while Mom entertained my Spencer and Jerry in my front room.
Also, I realized I can’t find the battery to this computer about ten minutes before Mom and Dad got here. I still haven’t found it… Sigh.

Anyway, with that rough start, Dad drove me to the airport.

On the flight to Atlanta I sat between two rather heavy black guys. That was fine, it just meant that I kind of ended up leaning toward the guy on the aisle, since the guy on the window side didn’t have anywhere else to go.

On the flight into London the plane was set up two seats together on either side and three down the middle. I sat on one of the middle seats.
As I was getting onto the plane a Russian guy lined up behind me speaking to someone, and it seemed obvious the guy he was speaking to wasn’t paying too much attention. Next thing I knew he was talking to me. As I moved forward up the line I started thinking Please oh Please don’t let me be seated by this guy…
Sure enough. I was on one side of the three center seats, and with an empty seat in between us, he was on the other side.
It started out okay, he was quite chatty, but pleasant enough. But I could quickly see I was going to have trouble. He kept slipping into Russian and then getting frustrated when I couldn’t understand him. No, sir, I don’t speak even a little bit of Russian. And I was having trouble with his English. Part of figuring out what someone with a thick accent is saying is kind of having an idea of what they’re going to tell you anyway. When he’d come up with some completely new concept, changing the conversation out of nowhere, I wasn’t sure I understood what he was telling me, and he got mad at me.
We ate our dinner, and they started the movie. My plan was to ignore the movie and get as much sleep as possible. This was not the Russian guy’s plan. First of all, he kept trying to share some of his vodka with me. When I didn’t want any he was offended, and tried to order some for me from the stewardess when she came by. No thank you. Then he kept batting at me, and telling me something else. Finally I told him I was going to sleep now and I rolled over on my side, away from him. He batted on me a few more times, apologizing, and kept talking. I’d respond, but was getting more and more insistent that I am going to sleep now, good night.
He announced “NO! No Sllleep for YeOU! Yeou Talllk To ME!” He batted on me and I pushed his hand away. I heard the stewardess tell him “Sir, she’s sleeping. Leave her alone.” Finally the stewardess came over and knelt by my head and asked if I wanted to move.
I did. It turns out I moved back to the seat of another woman who had moved up to the two empty seats on the other side of the Russian. My new seat was right in front of the door so there was no one in front of me and I could stretch my legs out. The man in the seat next to me was very quiet and slept most of the way. But I could see the Russian guy ahead of me on the other side of the steward station, and about three rows up. He turned his attention to the woman whose seat I had ended up in, who had moved up to the empty seats by the Russian to spread out. I didn’t sleep very well at all, between watching the Russian and not being comfortable at all. I saw him talking to her a lot. At one point the stewardess bell started ringing like crazy, and I heard a woman yelling “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!? GO AWAY!!!” Later a stewardess came and sat down in the jump seat in front of me and told me he’d come up and bothered her, and had touched her. She’d gone into “Attack Mode” she said, assuming a Karate pose. She told me she’d threatened to have him restrained, and that he’d finally gone back to his seat. We watched, and he did eventually go to sleep.
When “daylight” came I found out I was sitting next to an artist. Then I found his wife was the one sitting up by the Russian, and she’s the one I’d heard ringing the stewardess button and yelling to him to go away. She came back and said she’d been soundly asleep and he’d pulled the blankets off her, that’s when she yelled and started pounding on the call button. All in all it was an interesting trip.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Bath time

Things seemed to be going so well. We spent the afternoon playing with Wytie, the neighbor, which means I get to chat with Wytie’s cute grandma, who is quite a fun and interesting person. Then we came home without the usual fight to get Thing 2 out of Wytie’s house and away from his toys… and we got in the car and drove for a pizza, came home, cooked it, and ate it. I got one cheese pizza and one salad, and I ate the salad, and the girls ate a whole large cheese pizza minus one slice I ate, and one smallish slice that was left over.
Then we went up for a bath.
I did a bad thing.
I ran the bath for them, then let them play in the tub while I came down and started doing internet research for my trip. I cleaned up the kitchen a little, and took care of a few things outside.
I went upstairs to check on them and slipped on the water by the door, nearly going down. The black and white rug in front of the tub was gray, absolutely soaked.
Thing 1 said “I did not” and Thing 2 said “I did it.”
At least she owns up to it… maybe she won’t do that if I continue to lose my temper. Which I did.
I kept not quite shouting, I don’t think, but sort of loudly saying no no no, we don’t do this! Thing 2 was laughing. I reiterated I was mad and this was bad… I finally barked at her loudly and intensely enough that she stopped laughing and started looking a little contrite.
I didn’t even know where to start cleaning up. The rug on the other side of the bathroom in front of the sink was sopping, the rug in front of the tub was completely full of water, weighed a ton, and was almost impossible to deal with. The plastic bag/sack thing that we put their toys in was half full of water. I tossed both sopping rugs into the shower, dumped the toys out into the sink, grabbed a towel and started mopping up. It was hard because the floor was so slippery.
I occasionally loudly reminded Thing 2 that this was awful and I could not believe she did this.
Then I looked up to see her dumping another large cupful of water over the side of the tub. I flipped, whipped her out of the tub and laid her on the wet tile floor. I draped a towel over her, and grabbed a diaper and put it on her. She was crying she was cold, blah blah blah… Not too much sympathy from me.

I got Thing 1 out after Thing 2 was in her pajamas and I had finished mopping up the floor, for the most part.
Then we hit another snag. They wouldn’t come brush their teeth. I had very little patience left, looking at my evening of hoping to get ready for leaving the country for a week, and seeing this as an obstacle. It wasn’t, really, it just set me back half an hour or so… but everything just seemed to piss me off.

I finally told Thing 1 she didn’t get to pick stories because she had used up all her time trying to make a new set of pajamas out of the foamy letter blocks, or whatever she was trying to do. We have threatened her with cavities sincerely enough, apparently, that she wigged out when she thought I wasn’t going to let her brush her teeth.
We quickly brushed them, read our stories, and at 9:15 or so, I came downstairs. They should stay down.

The neighbors quite possibly heard my ranting. Sigh.

I am feeling guilty for leaving the girls with my folks. Last night Thing 2 would not go to bed, but sat up and cried and hollered she wanted to sleep in my bed. She hasn’t done that for a while… But it just adds to my guilt to leave these little trouble makers with my folks.

I expect to thoroughly enjoy myself aside from this guilt. I leave the day after tomorrow, and haven’t prepared nearly enough… I need to pack myself and the girls, get all my ducks in a row to leave town for a week… tomorrow is going to be awful. The next day too.