Family Reunion in the U.K.

We got back home from our family reunion in Arlington, did a gazillion loads of laundry, and repacked our bags once again for our family reunion in England.

We spent a night with my sister and her family in New Jersey before heading to Newark. En route to the airport, we made a special drive-by pilgrimage to the “dollhouse” (as my mother always called it) that we lived in for a year in Cranbury, NJ…

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Ready to board…

Finally on the plane!IMG_0632We made it! My son’s IT skills were put to good use almost immediately upon our arrival.

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Helping Granny with her iPad.

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My husband is sitting underneath a portrait of himself as a child. He says that whenever he looks at the picture he tastes pineapple, because he was given a “pineapple-flavoured ice lolly” to help him get through the sitting.

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Helping Granddad with his Bakewell Tart.

Going to the cinema with Granddad…IMG_0661

 

Hall Bank

My husband has been in England for the last couple of weeks. He’s helping his parents move from Hall Bank, the house they’ve lived in for almost forty years:

He never liked the house, mostly because he associated it with the painful move from his beloved Scotland. For our three children and me, however, it is a place we will always associate with some of our happiest memories.

We’ll remember celebrating birthdays there…

…and learning how to ride bikes in Granny and Granddad’s driveway on bikes specially bought for the kids’ summer visits:

We’ll never forget playing ping pong in the garden:

…often with our bare feet in the impossibly soft, cool carpet of grass.

It’s been a peaceful haven of rest:

unconditional love:

…and so much joy.

 

The Rest of Us

Some of us are visiting stately homes…

Some of us are deciding which jaunty beret to wear today…

Some of us are wandering around in beech hedge mazes:

Some of us are in Wales visiting Castle Conwy…

and picturesque waterfalls:

Some of us are taking a leisurely tour of the Lake District:

And the rest of us?

Well, the rest of us are up to our usual no good…

We made it!

By the time we were about to leave for England, I felt like I had spent half a lifetime doing load after load of laundry, sorting through clothes, creating piles of things to pack, editing and re-editing those piles, writing up a hefty instruction manual for the small army of people taking care of our dogs, cleaning the house…I thought I was handling it all pretty well, but I must have been emitting serious stress vibes. As I was going about my business tying up loose ends before we actually headed to the airport, my son came to me and said in the soothing tones one would use when talking to a child about to have a tantrum, or a lunatic holding a lit stick of dynamite, “Mom…I know packing stresses you out, but could you please, please try to stay calm?”

It would have been a lot easier to, were it not for the incessant questions:

“So, when are we going to leave?”

“What time is our flight?”

“Are we almost ready to go?”

When my daughter started drumming her little hands on the kitchen counter, I lost it just a teensy tiny little bit:

“Please go sit quietly in the living room while I finish getting ready to go and don’t ask me any more questions!”

Other than running into the President at Dulles and getting my kidneys thrashed all the way across the Atlantic by the antsy toddler behind me kicking my seat, the trip was uneventful.

We made it to Hall Bank…

The boys were reunited at last:

Can you hear the swelling of the violins?

Seconds later…

The cousins were there waiting!

That first day the boys initiated their little sister into a sacred rite of passage that the children in our family undergo at the age of seven:

She was discouraged and exhausted:

But a week later:

She is now our third child to learn how to ride a bike at Granny and Granddad’s house.

The last time we were in England was four summers ago. This was the day my son learned how to ride on the very same bike:

It’s been wonderful to reconnect with family here, but I’m missing my family in the U.S. Yesterday was my father’s birthday and today is my mother’s. Sending happy birthday wishes from across the pond for the two very best parents and finest human beings I know. xoxoxo

Independence Day

Today Colin and Teddy land in England, the country whose yoke of oppression we shrugged off 237 years ago – the very event we celebrate today! Teddy is celebrating independence of his own kind. Colin will drop him off at his parents’ house in England and will move on to Edinburgh, where he will be singing with his early music chorale group, Zephyrus. For the first time ever, Teddy will be without anyone else in his immediate family for an entire week. That’s a lot of independence…Maybe even a little too much independence for my taste. I decided I would feel better about the whole situation if I wrote up my own Declaration of Independence for him to sign before he left:

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