Plan no plan

I fully planned a terrific post for today detailing where we live, what our neighborhood and tube station look like, etc.-
(gigantic) camera in hand, we left our housing for the tube station…me snapping pictures like an overzealous tourist.
But then I realized half-way through our trip that I had no SD card in my camera…grrr!
So this will be a short post, but hopefully a bit funny!
The kids and I set off for the mall in London.  It’s called Westfields and it is gigantic!
We spent our first week and a half navigating tube stations to as many parks as I could muster.  
But today, we endeavored to go to the mall.
I think of the mall as a safe place, perhaps in a different sense than you would think.
After having babies, I would spend a few days a week at the mall.  Not to shop, not to walk-off baby weight, but because it was the next easiest place to home- bathrooms, food, play areas, air-conditioned and most importantly a little distraction from the extreme exhaustion and cabin-fever that seemed to arrive about a month after birth.  
In addition, my very dear friend, Marin, had her children at similar times as me, so we could both meet there together and congratulate each other that we made it out of the house: dressed, at a respectable hour.  

This was not my experience today.  

For us, going out does not involve a vehicle, but a series of buses, tubes, or both.  I think it’s about a 20 minute drive from where we are, but using the aforementioned forms of transport, it is about 45 minutes away.  No problem, we are walking-off excess energy and learning the ropes of transportation in London.  And I am definitely committed to public transit after years of living in my mini-van transporting children to and from school, activities, etc.  I am happy to be walking!
Anyway, Westfields is gigantic.  No problem, I have already mapped out the stores that we need to visit so I can be efficient.  What I didn’t plan on was the new experience of taking non-infants to the mall.  I forgot that I completely stopped doing this about 2 years ago.  They are now walking and talking and seeing toy stores, candy stores and cookie shops- and they are now capable of running toward them.  Additionally, hiding in racks of clothing in gigantic and unfamiliar stores is fun, and escalators are the urban play area.  So my little happy-distraction mall time bubble was burst.  
But there are small victories in this.  A large part of my role in these first few weeks is teaching the kids to be wise city kids.  Without the protections of familiar places and the mini-van, we all need to be a lot more savvy, careful and aware.  We see and navigate new places everyday, and as I kid, this is understandably fun and exciting. It’s exciting for me too!  But I am trying hard to learn myself how to navigate and be safe, and how to teach the kids to navigate and be safe as well.  
We’re learning, and it is good and hard, as is with most learning.  Today I learned that the mall is a place for adults to visit- and that if I really need something, I should order it on Amazon.  The kids learned that stores and escalators are not play areas.  They are also learning the being bored is ok, kinda normal and not a reason to complain.

Below are some pictures of previous transit adventures…and a picture of Eva seizing the opportunity to climb at the gates of Buckingham Palace- why not?

Buckingham Palace

South Woodford station, we visited last night and are considering living here 🙂

More soon, as soon as I can remember my SD card 😉

Week -1: Before London, we visited North Carolina

On our way to London, we stopped in North Carolina for about a week to see Grandma and Grandpa, and my Aunt, Uncle and cousins.  It was terrific!
It was warm, and sunny, and beautiful. 
We did many distinctly American things, fun things, special things-
We all got to take a ride in Grandpa’s new Corvette.  I don’t know the model, but it is very fancy and very fast.  Grandpa can accelerate and do awesome maneuvers with his car!

This is Grandpa’s Corvettle…it is blue and fast and beautiful

Pearl sees a Corvette as an opportunity for some awesome poses…Grandpa is amused 🙂

Mac is ready to go fast!

I got to have some authentic NC BBQ with my cousin, Laura.  It was terrific, she is wonderful, and unfortunately, I have no pictures to prove this to you.  You’ll have to take my word for it 🙂

We also did something else distinctly American… visiting South of the Border (South Carolina).  Have you been?  I am at a loss for how to describe this place…according to one web-site, it is “America’s Favorite Highway Oasis.”  Here is a link:

In Seattle (home town) it is illegal to light off fireworks, but in South Carolina, you can light them off (almost) anywhere, anytime.  And if you’re in the market for fireworks, South of the Border is the place to be:

Notice that this package has the maximum Powder allowed by law…South Carolina doesn’t mess around

We found a parking lot nearby to ignite our goods!

But we are from Seattle, and we didn’t want and 3rd degree burns, so our “goods” involved smoke bombs and those weird worms 😉

We also had some great times with Grandma and Grandpa including a paving stone craft project: 

And a super fun meal at a Benihana type place:

We also got to see my Uncle, Aunt and Cousin- good times, always 🙂  We tried to take a group photo…and if you have chidren, you will understand how futile it is to get all members of the family (read: children) cooperating for said photo.  But I’ve included them anyway, because it is hilarious 🙂

Notice that Pearl has taken the opportunity to pose in this moment of chaos

We love our family, we love our extended family.  It was a sweet ending to our time in the US and we are grateful.

I started a blog…

I started a blog
(I think this would be a good song title to a Maclemore (and Ryan Lewis) song…what else does one do after visiting a thrift shop but write in their blog?)

I don’t know how to design a blog, but I’ve tried to be authentic by selecting a font with the word “english” in the description, because we’ve just moved to London.

My blog will capture little moments in our lives as we navigate a new place, new people, new culture.  We are definitely here, in London, but we don’t really know where were going…
-to live
-to send our kids to school

or what we’re going…
-to know
-to like
-to dislike
-to love

so I’ve titled this blog “(not) knowing where you’re going,” because we are here, but we don’t know what that means yet, or what it will mean in the next days, weeks, months, years.  And if you’d like, you can see that unfold.
We are confident that we don’t know what we’re doing, but that we will poke and prod at London until we figure that out.