Thursday, June 29, 2017

Day 7--England! And Ashley's special day :)

 I really hope to update with better pics later, but I am mostly getting the England ones from the batchelortelevision instagram (which anyone can look at if you don't need to be an instagram person...I am not!) are the British and Americans together today at the shipyard in front of a cool ship.  Can you spot Shelby and Emma. Great pic of them all!
 LOL!  Cute, Shelb and Grace and Emma (American Emma...not host) :)
And below is my Ash...I have tons of pics from today, but I love this one. It was her special day and I think she enjoyed it :)

Well, Shelb's time in England is coming to a close. As I type it's after 2am for her and she is fast asleep on her yellow English porch...her last night at Emma's house.  Kinda bittersweet.  I know she is ready to come home, but at the same time I know she's been having a great time.  Someday she will look back on all this with fond memories (I hope). was a full day...she did get up early and head to school on the train with Emma as usual (and she sent me a pic at 1am of her bfast crumpet, only this time it was smothered in raspberry jam).  YAY, she had branched out and tried something new!  The British use a lot of jam and no whipped cream or syrup on things like we do.  Shelb is not a fan of jam or jelly.  But I am glad she tried something new since most English folk put jam on their crumpets. Anyway....once at school, all the U.S. kids gathered and took a train to Portsmouth (Dockyards with ships).  They took a boat ride, played inside on some games and got to see how sailors lived and ate.  She sent me this pic of some food that I thought she had to eat.  It looked like diarrhea.  Turned out it was fake.  She had Subway for lunch, I think. Phew. She must have been happy. She has eaten some very American food over there.  Not sure if that is branching out much for her!  Anyway...she also sent me a pic of a Victoria sponge cake, that looked delicious and had custard in it.  I guess that was her idea of trying something new. Not sure I agree since most desserts are probably going to be good!  Plus it was from Pret a Manger.  Don't those originate in NYC!?  Anyway...after school hours, the British hosts joined the Americans for shopping. I guess there is an outlet mall near the Dockyards.  And Shelb sounded like that was one of her fav things (she is a shopper like her Nina's...whereas daddy would have loved the ship part...she was pretty bored with it after awhile).  But Shelb was happy to show me she bought a nice pink Coach wallet on sale!  Her big British purchase!  She was very excited about it. Nina G. would be too...she loves purses! haha :) that was pretty much her day.  She facetimed me late at night and Kev at work too...and not sure if we will see her again over there.  She moves to London tomorrow to tour for one last day and then they spend the night in a hotel...and fly off the next morning.  Can't believe how fast the time has flown. And can't wait to see all sites she sees tomorrow in the big city!  So grateful to Emma and her mum for taking such good care of our girl and being gracious hosts.  I have asked Shelb twice what her fav. part of the trip was, and it was being with all the British kids.  That makes me happy to hear bc that is what exchange trips are all about! :) 

And on the homefront it was a good day...busy, but good. I decided yesterday that the next three days would each be one of the homebound kids' days.  Something to make them each feel special even though they are at home and might not be at exciting destinations like England or New England! (though Bloomy is a close 3rd to those!) Today was Ashley's day.  She made a list last night of all the things she wanted to do/see/eat.  It's best told through pics, but in case I run out of time to do that tonight, I'll just give a quick rundown....cinnamon rolls for bfast, a trip to Kroger to get her fav. foods, Starbucks for her fav. drink, to the park and creek to catch crawdads and minnows and have a picnic, orange leaf after, then her choice of dinner (crescent dogs and sides), played a mouthful of fun game...and running on the trail (yes, running...she has never run before but this was on her list)...and then a trip to the dollar store to find painting stuff (ended up at Michaels bc the dollar tree had nothing)...and home to watch a movie (A Mermaid's Tale), and have Dr. Pepper floats and popcorn.  She had a full day, but it was fun and I loved her choices.  Love my Asher!

My Bostonian...had a busy, busy day....I think this is her longest ballet day.  But she endured.  I think she had a good classes, but I am sure she was tired.  I haven't seen any pics of her yet, but I did get to see her yummy looking turkey burger tonight and some yummy, healthy sides that she and her roommate made.  I am glad they are cooking together.  Much more fun to cook with someone than alone. And I am glad she's eating some protein after a long day!  She got her ACT score and did spendidly (a 31, I think...she's way smarter than I ever was).  This means she is officially done with standardized testing forever!  YAY!  Way to go, Hays!  Nice to check that off the list!

Miss my traveling girls!    pics to come...check back later....

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Day 6--England...and trying to find some down time at home!

 Only a few pics. I am low on space for downloading stuff so less is all I can do lately.  Here is Shelb at her last day of British school!  YAY!  And the kids below with all their piles of books (and movies!)     

Well, I will start with England today.  Our British traveler sounded well today.  A new day, a new outlook on life.  I think her first happiness was that she had her last day at British school today.  Nothing against their school, but she has been pretty bored there.  I am not sure if this means American schools are harder of if it's just a drag to go to school when it's summer for you.  But either way, she is glad it's done.  Nothing particularly exciting happened today...she went to classes with Emma (and apparently they don't have the same classes every day, so they were different classes...still boring...though she did sit by the bully today who's name is Mia).  Same crumpet bfast, similar sandwich lunch, though she did get chocolate ice cream and sent me a pic of that (she doesn't even like choc. ice cream, but she said it was pretty good).  I forgot to ask if she ate outside again or in the library, etc.  I assume not outside since it rained all day.  But she did take a nice pic of herself outside school per my request.  Thanks, Shelb! She looks mighty nice in her "uniform" :)  After school the Bourne and BTV kids were both supposed to go to the beach and play capture the flag, but they already knew it'd be raining so that event was sadly canceled, which bummed Shelb out. She was looking forward to it and last week they could have done that bc it was 90 all week in England. Stinkin' weather!  Oh well.  No control over that and they made the best of it and went bowling with the British kids. Honestly, I didn't know they had bowling in Britain. And from the pics I saw, their bowling alleys look just like ours.  Shelb was happy to report that she actually won one of her games with a score of over a hundred.  I was proud of her!  She's pretty sportsy lately!  Go, Shelb!  I think Mr. Messmann won overall, but still...Shelby put in a good effort!  She also took a fun pic of her getting a KitKat from a British vending machine. Apparently it was very good...better than US ones? Do they used different KitKat chocolate there?  Don't know!  And she had nachos for dinner at the alley. All very American if you ask me.  Hmmmm.  But they had fun.  She texted and facetimed once she got home.  She seemed in good spirits and we all got to raz her about life as we stared at her with her cardboard head in our hands :)....even daddy and Hailey facetimed her from work/Boston.  We love our Shelb! Tomorrow she is off to the shipyard and then Friday is London touring!  Fun!  I think she's excited about all that.  Some of this normalcy has not made England look all the exciting.  Love you, Shelb!  

And on the homefront, we are just being lazy. Honestly I am tired from all our travels and just trying to get organized before Shelby comes home and Dylan goes off to camp for a week.  Life just never slows down.  Sometimes I wonder what God was thinking giving me all of this to handle and organize. I was very organized when it was just me taking care of me...but me taking care of 7 is a mess! :)  I slept in a little today, caught up on some calendar stuff, took the kids to the library (Lo is the last Steg kind to finish his reading program).  Crazy that we did it all in less than 4 weeks. I think that's a record.  He was super excited to get a free Paw Patrol book with stickers in it!  Then we went to Barnes and Noble and signed up for their reading program.  I had forgotten about it til today.  The kids were happy.  They really are into reading this summer...and if it's one thing that makes kids smart and do well in school, I really think it's reading.  Ash was super excited to use her B&N gift card to buy a new chapter book AND to buy some Starbucks!  She has been wanting SB since Boston and every time we passed one, we were in a rush and couldn't stop.  We saw scones there and thought of Shelb, who oddly enough hasn't had any in England.  I hope she eats more authentic food in London!  Anyway....after our book trips we headed home for lunch and some tv...and then chatted with Shelb and did some chores, played in tents....made dinner (one I'd not made before...not sure it was a hit)....D ran off to boy scouts with Kev...and Ash did some dancing for me. She is a performer by heart. I need to learn how to channel that talent.  Not sure if it's ballet or singing or what?  And our frustration tonight is over boy scouts.  After getting a physical yesterday and waiting 2 hours for it, we find out it's the wrong paperwork and needs to be redone.  And since it was at a CVS (bc our peds couldn't get us in bc scouts notified us so last minute), we may have to pay for it again.  I am not happy at the organization of this scout troop right now.  Going back to CVS is not something we need to do tomorrow.  Ugh.
(And Hailey....not sure how her Boston day went...she is a girl of few words.  I think her day went ok and I know she's alive.  But that's all I got out of her.  Love you, Hays. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Day 5--England (a beautiful castle, but some struggles and tears)..and jumping back into things at home

 A couple castle pics from England (Shelb's in bright pink)....will post more tomorrow on here....
Well, today we jumped back into things.  I felt more exhausted than normal after a vacation, so it probably should have been a good down day, but I promised my fav. ballet moms I would meet with them, so I wanted to keep that date!  So, off we went bright n early to the park.  The kids weren't super excited bc they also seemed to want a down day of just loafing off around the house.  But the exercise did them good and it was actually a gorgeous day...sunny and actually cool (for summer). I got to catch up with my mom friends and just chill and the three youngest sibs just played on the playground, which was hoppin' with kids and moms.  Lo and Dyl did clash a few times...this seems to happen more and more lately.  Dyl antagonizes a little and teases and Lo is feisty and screamy.  It's not a good combo.  And Ash got bored and just wanted to sit by me (maybe she misses her sisters?).  Dylan did become the game leader of the playground and at one point he had a bunch of little boys following him around.  It was cute and he was proud of that :)  After that we raced off to the minute clinic to get Dyl a physical for his big boy scout campout next week.  We found out last night he needed it by tomorrow. Good grief.  Why do you need a physical to camp...or at least why did he need one now and not a few weeks ago for that campout?  So we had to wait at CVS for that bc our peds office couldn't get us in last minute. And at CVS we got there right as the lady was going on break.  So we waited for an hour  By 2pm we had still not eaten lunch.  But I didn't dare leave bc I wanted to be first in line. But we were all starving and tired by then. Thankfully the NP was really nice and very thorough and it didn't take long once she called us. Then had to stop by the peds office and get D's immunization record for camp too. Good grief, this is more than they need to go to school!  Then finally home for lunch by 3:30pm.

I was just about to sit and eat my grilled cheese, when my cell rang. I didn't pick up bc I didn't recognize the number.  Then the same number called our home phone.  It was Shelby calling from a friend's cell.  I could tell she was panicked.  She was at a restaurant for dinner and was having some anxiety over her host situation.  I think it had come to a head with her teacher that evening too and she was just feeling some angst about it.  Without going into too much detail bc I know this is a public blog, I will just say there is a little clash of personalities and I get the feeling both her host and herself are just too strong willed girls.  Shelby is also feeling that her host is controlling her a bit and if you Shelby, you know that anyone that tries to control her and makes her feel inferior is a huge turnoff.  The feisty mom in me was immediately defensive and upset too bc by the time we ended our conversation she was in tears.  But the level-headed mom in me, told her that she just needed to be a good example and make the best of the situation.  We all have things about ourselves that drive others crazy.  We all annoy people in some ways.  But the best way to tackle those situations is to just not let it affect you.  To focus on the this case she needs to really enjoy each moment that she can in this beautiful country because she may not get to go there again.  And maybe to learn from the differences of the culture and the people and even this certain household.  Goodness knows our household is not completely normal and we don't treat each other perfectly.  I think it his a good life lesson on how to deal with conflict and make the best of uncomfortable situations. And maybe to learn how not to treat people, especially if you are hosting (which we might be October).  Life is all about learning. And maybe God placed her in this situation for a reason.  I told her it's because maybe she'll be this awesome lawyer someday and this is one of the ways she needs to learn to be strong in her convictions, yet kind with her words.  I know she can do this.  I know it's not easy, but if anyone can do it, it's our strong and determined Shelb!  So, that was the jest of the evening.  I actually don't think she was at school or with her host for very long today. She texted me early this morning (another 1am-er, I think), with a pic of her crumpet meal.  Yumm!  And then she was off to school early again with Emma. She cracked me up....she took a pic on the train of the bully that has been harassing Emma.  That way I can post it on my blog to warn the world!  If anyone can take care of British bullying single-handedly, it's Shelb! ha!  Anyway...I think they were at school 45 mins before all the US students left on the train to go to Arundel castle for the day. Just gorgeous!  She wasn't allowed to take pics inside, but the outside pics were amazing. Breathtaking view.  And I love castles.  Wish I could have been there!  She got a couple souvenirs there and a sandwich for lunch, I think. Then they met most of their hosts for dinner at Nandos.  I thought it was an English place, but when I looked it up it's Portugese food and from Africa, but somehow the headquarters is in London?  Confusing if you ask me?  They only sold chicken.  And Shelb split a yummy looking wing meal with her US friend.  It had all types of that made her hair on her arms stand up and her nose run! That's my kind of meal!  But she said it was good, I think. It was nice to talk to her twice today. We facetimed again and chatted about life when daddy was home from work.  I think she is doing good overall...but just hard to deal with some of this real-life drama when you are in another country, unable to really communicate well with your own family...and you're only 13. Some of this stuff is stuff I dealt with when I was much older...even in college.  But she's doing it and she'll be a better person for it.  Saying a little prayer tonight for my U.S. Englander.

And our New Englander is doing well, I think...little news from her except that ballet went "pretty good" today and she was going over to a friend's apt for dinner.  So sophisticated!

And tonight Kev and I are hashing out the rest of our summer (not much left).  Trying to get our house plans in order for getting stuff done. We shall see how much we can accomplish in a few weeks and a couple weekends.  I wish we had all of August too.  Ugh.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Day 4--England...and Home!

 (here's a few pics too...that I just posted on fb...but I know not everyone has access to that)
 Shelb's day in England yesterday...visiting a beautiful pond outside an English farm.  It's how I imagine the English countryside to be.
 Our free sailboating experience in Boston on Saturday. (love that city backdrop and the sun shining on us...minus the sunburn it gave Kev and two whities :))...and below is our goodbye to Boston at Bunker Hill....minus to girls, but plus 2 cardboard heads.  One of these days it'll just be Kev and I and our 5 clone heads.  That will be weird (though maybe it's weird already to have 2 :))

Well, we are home.  Can't say it's good or bad to be here. Just weird having only 5 of us. We are used to 6, but 2 gone seems weird.  But we will deal with it. :)  The trip back was anticlimactic.  I guess that is good. We slept in a bit, had a nice bfast at the hotel (truly, this hotel was probably the nicest we've ever stayed in...I know I said that, but it's nice to stay in the lap of luxury :))...anyway...we hit the road and were on our way.  Less traffic, not much drama in the was good. Not sure how we got on the subject of the house, but probably it was me looking at the calendar and realizing that we have like one more month of summer and it is practically booked up and we have very little wiggle room to fit in all the stuff I wanted to do around the house...painting, stuff on the walls, a wall unit in the living room, etc. (all things I wanted to do TWO years ago...can you believe it's been that long since we've been in the house?!  I cannot.) happened to work out perfectly that we were driving by the IKEA in Ohio at about the right time. So we stopped on a whim.  It was a crazy whim, but we did it anyway.  Just to see what they had.  They ended up having the perfect wall unit for our living room (it was in gray, but we would have it in white).  I hemmed and hawed a little about it bc I didn't really want true white (our house is mostly off white/beige), and it wasn't staggered on the top like our kitchen which is what I wanted...and it had a lot of glass, which scares me a little with Logan, but it was a 1/3 of the price we've been quoted to have one built.  Plus this one could be removed if we moved (oddly enough we are talking about that....don't think we are crazy even if we are :)).  Anyway....but after we made the decision to buy it, we discovered it would not fit in our van with 3 kids (by like 1 inch).  And we just couldn't decide which kid to leave behind :)  haha :)  So, we left only buying 3 slushies for hungry kids.  I guess we should be glad we left only spending $4.50!  We shall see if we make a trip back. But it does give me some stuff to think about it. And I hope it gets us moving to decorate and paint and finally get settled!  By 7pm we were home.  Home sweet home.

Our New Englander had a good first day of ballet class at SDP (Summer dance program) at BB (Boston Ballet). She was placed in the highest level and with all 3 of her roommates, which is good news considering 4 of them share 2 keys and need to be on a similar schedule.  She liked both her teachers today and I am sure she was tired tonight.  She only ate cereal. I hope she gets some protein in the morning. I do worry a little that she might be too tired to feed herself well during the week.  I hope she has some quick heat up meals. I know I am tired at the end of the day and I don't do 6 or more hours of ballet.

And our Real Englander....she only sent me 2 pics today...of her bfast, pancakes...I was shocked they had these there...but the downer is they don't use syrup or whipped cream and she does not like jelly or jam (they use this on everything).  I think she should try it and might learn to like it. She likes fruit and it's about the same thing just with sugar, right?  But she was happy with her bfast. And I got a nice 1am text pic with it.  Thx, Shelb!  I also got a nice pic of the ostrich she drew in art class today.  It was a cross between a turkey and an emu, I think.  Or a very pregnant ostrich. I will have to post pics lately.  She sounded a little "eh" today when we facetimed in the van.  She had to get up early to get ready and on the train with Emma to school. And I guess the school day was a little boring (as it would be if you didn't really have to be in school and it was summer vacation, so I couldn't blame her there).  I guess she went to all Emma's classes with, tech, wood lab (aka "tech tech"), math, gym and lunch.  She had to make something weird in wood lab (which is like woodworking in the USA).  I didn't understand what it was and she didn't either. She copied what Emma did.  It was something to do with self-reflection I think.  She got to do math in math class, which was a little hard bc Emma is a year older than her.  She said her fav. subject was lunch. Does that even count?  Honestly I was happy with that bc she was a little scared about lunch. We had heard it was yorkshire pudding. It was not. There were choices. They ran out of pasta, which bummed her out, but she had two tomato and cheese sandwhiches which she said were good.  She also sat outside, which she thought was fun (we can't do this at our middle schools).  She didn't eat with Emma, but with a friend from the US and her host.  I guess that's ok.  I wouldn't pass up eating outside on a nice day....the rest of the days in England it might rain.  Emma wanted to eat in the library.  But maybe she had to study or doesn't like sun.  The interesting part of the day was dealing with English girls. Apparently there are mean girls in England?  Who knew?!  They all seem so proper and sweet on tv.  But I guess they are not.  A group of like 10 of them I guess are bullies.  They pick on Emma (and other kids too, I'm sure) and after Shelb and Emma came back to the classroom after a bathroom break these girls wouldn't let them in the room.  Well, Shelb is my strong-willed girl and she just pushed herself right through them to get through.  She showed them!  I was proud of her!  Showing those British girls that US girls don't stand for that! :)  So, we shall see how the rest of the week of school goes. I hope it goes better than today.  After school the USA group and the Bourne group got together to play Rounders outside the school (which Shelby had already played during PE class). It's a British version of baseball that seems to have no rules (or different rules) you just have to swing the bat, but not actually hit the ball and you don't have to touch the bases?  Hmmm.  Seems fishy to me!  She said it was ok.  I'm glad it was a nice day and they could be outside.  And she said it was good to see her USA friends.  Tomorrow is a half day of school and off to see a castle. I hope she takes more pics. I need to live vicariously through her! I will start posting more (pics) tomorrow.  Tired today. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Day 3--England--goodbye New England

Well, we are sitting comfortably in a very nice Fairfield inn in PA.  We stopped early to let the kids swim and get to bed early for once.  It's been a long day of driving and for some reason the traffic has been terrible. Very busy for a Sunday. A fairly uneventful day.  We slept in a little in Boston. Got the kids a dozen Dunkin' Donuts, and Kev and I indulged in a down home bfast at Buddy's. This was the streetcar diner I mentioned yesterday that I thought the kids wouldn't eat at (feta pancakes?). Anyway, the food was great...eggs and home fries and an English muffin (an open face sandwich for Kev). I've been eating English muffins in honor of my England girls. Haha.  That bfast hit the spot and it was such a cute atmosphere.   Our bedroom is bigger than this streetcar and it only seats like 15 people.  Anyway, on the way out of town we stopped by Bunker Hill since it was by our hotel.  Love this monument.  It sits in such a pretty area.  We got a nice family pic with our cardboard clone heads.  And said our goodbyes to Boston!  This city is kinda growing on me. I might almost like it more than NYC. Almost. We drove halfway home and are in this super nice hotel.  I've never seen ceilings so tall in a hotel room. And the pool was adorable and super warm.  Plus shallow enough so we didn't need to swim with Lo. One downer if our pool stays is we forgot his life vest and have had to swim with him.  Not tonight, thankfully!  And I even used the exercise room to work off my Wendy's dinner. :)

Hays had her placement class today at Boston ballet.  She had two teachers she liked and tomorrow she jumps into it all bright and early. She spent some time at her apt top pool and then at the mall across the street.  Tonight she made her first meal on her own. Orange chicken and rice. She's growing up!  Haha :)

And my England girl.  She texted me at 2am asking me questions. Lol.  I guess since I can't be there in Britain, I should still live on their time. But she was up early to drop Emma at her theater class and then to go to a farm with Emma's mum.  The farm they went to was beautiful. I forget the name now but she got a souvenir guenea pig (stuffed thankfully!) She got to see all kinds of animals (like a petting zoo)--real guenea pigs, llamas and a bird like an emu that tried to peck her phone :). Fun. She enjoyed the morning. And the view of the farm was gorgeous. Not like farms in Indiana. Just rolling English countryside. And the afternoon was spent watching Emma practice her theater show. She's performing Goodnight Mister Tom in a couple weeks.  I think Shelb watched her for like 4-5 hours. That's a lot of practicing.  Shelb had some good down home English food today. A crumpet for bfast. Looked yummy and she liked it. And a ham sandwich for lunch, I think, and some of her goldfish she brought from home. :) Plus the cutest English tart.  And for dinner it was chicken and mashed potatoes and carrots (she refused the bangers that were served--she's determined she's not a sausage girl).  I do love how they serve individual sealed cups.  Seems like she eating well. But she admits she misses her bfast cereal the most (strawberry special K).   We FaceTimed her today again and she looked exhausted. Like how she looks after she's been sick.  I guess she's not sleeping much. She has a nice room on their yellow porch but it's full light even via ceiling and it's not allowing for much rest because it's so bright. I told her to build a head tent to keep the sun out. I hope she does this bc she needs her sleep to function, and tomorrow starts school and they get up st 5am and have to take the train to school. Praying she's resting comfortably under her head tent and I get no 2am texts . :)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Day 2--England/New England

Another day in the double England's.  Yay!

Shelb was up early in the lil town of Havant.  Sounds like Emma and her mum took Shelb on the monorail and to a palace house with beautiful fountains and gardens of flowers.  It's exactly what you'd picture in England.  They also saw a pretty cool trailer made out of Legos.  It apparantly was fully working too. Neat!  Bfast and lunch were pretty American too. Rice Krispies and pizza.  Dinner on the other hand was British traditional--sausage and Yorkshire pudding!  Yay!  She sent us a pic and it looked delicious!  They cooked the sausage into the Yorkshire pudding.  Cool!  She only ate two bites, but apparently Emma didn't like it either so I guess it's not terrible manners not to finish it if your host doesn't.  I think it's cute that they eat dinner in front of the tv on TV trays. Definitely our kind of people. I wish we did that!  Kev and I used to before kids. Anyway, it sounded like a good day for Shelb.  She called us at one point bc her phone shut off and wouldn't work to take pics. It was weird to see a British number on our caller ID.  And we FaceTimed her this afternoon. We got to see the cute patio she's staying on. And we got to meet Emma. A very sweet girl.  She answered all my crazy questions. :) I guess Emma's mum is taking Shelby to do something in the morning. I thought Emma said golf, but not sure I translated that correctly?!  And Shelby gets to watch Emma in her theater group tomorrow. They are performing a play soon.  Apparently she appreciates the arts like we do!  And hopefully Shelb is getting some rest tonight. She looked tired on the phone. I think her take on things in England is that they aren't all that different than us. They eat similar food and watch tv, etc. Good to know!

And our New England day was up and down. We did sleep in a little, but not near enough. It rained most of the morning and we thought it'd be a wash of a day, but it turned around. We attempted to have a diner bfast in a streetcar but that didn't pan out bc they didn't have food the kids would eat. Then we drove for like an hour trying to find Honey Dew donuts. A rendition of Dunkin' Donuts in Boston.. But apparently many of them are just in gas stations.  Nice.  That's just the bfast I wanted. We finally found one, ate and were off to see Paul Revere's House.  It was the one part of the Frredom Trail we didn't see last year bc it was closed when we got there.  So we toured that and got our history in for the day. This trip it was the only part of the trail we saw. A little weird to not do more historical things this time but we did have fun doing other things!  Thankfully the weather cleared up just in time for us to take a free sailboat trip. Very cool.  They made us wait a heck of a long time bc I think they pushed our number to the back on accident. But we were patient and they gave us free snacks & drinks in the process. But the sail was worth it. So pretty on the water and Kev got to be captain for a bit and Hailey was in control of the sail. So if ballet doesn't work out maybe she can be part of the Boston sailing club.  The cool thing is that on the way out we saw one of Hailey's old bloomington ballet  friends.  Crazy small world!  Total coincident. Then we raced to shake shack at the seaport (yumm!) and Ash had the funniest flat bun grilled cheese.  Finally 2.5 hrs late we moved Hailey into her high rise apt.  Same place as last year but a single and half the girls. Great group of (4) girls (all from SAB).  We did a quick shop at Trader Joe's (she has to cook all her meals the next 5 house mom or cafeteria, but I think that sounds fun!) and we made a quick stop for aloe and sunscreen at Walgreens (pale Hays got burned in that boat today!)  and then Hailey unpacked and we said our goodbyes. We hit the fancy mall across the street and ate at California pizza kitchen (a bigger hit than the pizza with tomatoes from last night).  And we tried to end the night with cold stone but the line was out the door. Poor daddy was bummed. Instead we got gas station ice cream and back to the hotel for swimming and game fun. Let the record show I beat Dyl in boston bball!  Now we're all chillin and watching Disney (daddy is snoring away!). A full day, but I almost wish we had another day to tour.  Oh well. This year we'll be back to see Hailey at the end and hopefully we can do more then.  For now we are tired and especially tired of maneuvering around this city.  Those who built it and mapped it need to do a redo. It's confusing as all get out to drive around here!  We got lost more times than not!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Day 1 England & New England

Well at 4am (our time) we got a text that Shelb had landed in London. Yay!  It was 9am their time and she had gotten 1 hr of sleep. But no rest for the weary. They changed into nice clothes in the airport bathroom and were off by bus to Bourne Community College.  Because of the 3 hr delay I think they missed most of the school day, but they got to meet their hosts right away and went home with them after school.  Shelby seems to have nothing but good to say about things.  She happily had her first British dinner and it was pasta and cherry pie.  Two of her fav things!   And she said she is sleeping on a very comfy couch.   She seemed very happy and very tired, and was ready to settle into bed by 10pm. Emma gave her the nicest bundle of gifts from England including lots of Cadbury chocolate!  Yumm!!  Shelb said Emma loved her American gifts too!  So all in all a good first day. Not sure what is up for her English weekend, but I think it might involve an English museum and two tea times.  I hope Shelb learns to love tea!
And the 6 of us in New England enjoyed a nice hot and humid day on the streets and waters of Boston. We had a nice hotel bfast in PA after only about 4hrs sleep.  I thing I forgot to mention we couldn't find a hotel easily last night.  Not so fun at midnight.  4 hrs of sleep is not enough.  But we had a nice continental bfast and were off for a 5hr jaunt to get to Boston.  We actually got here early enough to have lunch at a Boston burger place.  It was yummy, but not shake shack! Ha!  We had a few minutes before our Boston university tour so we let Lo watch the T train.  He loved it and wanted to ride it, of course. It poured right before our BU tour, but by the time we got outside it was nice. It seemed like a long tour, but a beautiful campus by the water and seems like a challenging university.  It has higher requirements than IU.  It sure was fun for poor Hays having her 3 youngest sibs tag along on her college tour.  Ash took pics of bunnies and squirrels and Loggy was running around with sticks half the time. At one point he was laying on the sidewalk.  Later on we lost Dyl. It's always something!  Fun times.  The area was bustling by 5pm, but probably bc there was a white sox game starting.  We tried to walk to a sailing place, but turns out it was too far to walk. Then we tried to drive and there was no parking.  So we basically drove back to where we parked before.  Then re-walked.  Sorta. But it turned ok bc we made it to the boat place right as the last ride was going out. And we had fun pedal boating. I know the kids were tired and hungry, but I'm glad we took the time to see the city from the water. It was a gorgeous day and lots of sailboats out and the esplanade was pretty.  Then we headed to a pizza place and had a yummy dinner.  Then to our bunker hill hotel for swim time (this place even has a basketball court, a rock wall, games and a movie screen.  And now we're showered and watching Disney channel.  Simple joys.  Tomorrow our ballerina settles in her new apt home for the next 5 weeks and the next day starts SDP at Boston Ballet.  Time is flying!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Shelb's off to England...and we're off to New England! 🇬🇧💂

Well, we are all on our way to our "England" destinations.  Shelb's group of 11 students and 3 teachers just left Newark airport and arrive in London tomorrow around 9am.  Hard to believe she is on her way to a new country. The first of our children to visit Europe.  Go Shelb!  We are just thankful she and her group are not sleeping in the Jersey airport.  They had a 2.5 hr delay in Indy and missed their first flight to England. But apparently it was not a prob to get 14 people on the last flight out. Phew!  She was excited to text me earlier that she sat next to Bernie Sanders on the airport shuttle in NJ.  Fun!  And we are part way thru PA on our 18hr jaunt to New England (Boston!).  It's weird not having our crazy Shelb cruising with us, but we cloned her head so she's sorta along for the ride! :).  This is one long drive and poor Kev is tired!  But gotta get more than halfway so we can get to Hays' tour of Boston university tomorrow.  Gotta squeeze those college tours in when we can!  Our only snag was forgetting all our bags of packed snacks in the kitchen.  So we had to stop at an Ohio Meijer to replenish.  But all is well tonight and I'm so excited to see pics of Shelb's British adventures.  What a gift this trip is for her.  Hope she eats lots of scones and stays away from the bangers so the air around her smells sweet and fresh! :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

British breakfast, packing and tying up loose ends and ready to head overseas and out east!

Final day before we part ways for England and New England :)
 We started off the morning much like we ended last night...with British food! This time it was a Full English Breakfast.  I have no idea if this is truly authentic, but the internet said so, so it must be, right?!
 Our sign made mostly by Ash yesterday. I think it turned out pretty good :)
 I added a menu and took another pic....just in case the food needed explanation.  Shelb knew this bfast was coming. She was not exactly enthused.  I thought it looked pretty good...not too far off from our bfast...maybe just missing some pancakes...and could do without the tomatoes and fungus and weird baked beans (who eats those for bfast...or at all!)
 Not love at first sight...but Hays tried to talk her into it...and ended up eating half of her meal for her...
 The nicest look she would give me. Apparently she wasn't the only grumpy one (sad Lo)
 She almost looked like she was going to cry. Poor Emma and her family are in for a real treat if they serve eggs for bfast at all. Ugh...Shelb!  She really is not a picky eater usually!
 It felt a little torturous to be giving the rest of the gang sour cream coffee cake...but after she tried one of everything on her plate, she had her sweet USA bfast too!
 Daddy got a workout in today. He did his daily run in the morning and then mowed after that.  Poor guy was worn out!  But gotta get a mow in before vacation! We always save things for the last minute, of course!
 Last day of mulling over packing!
 So sweet...brothers reading together :)
 Library time!  Ash and Dyl are officially done with the library reading program....this is the first week you could get the last (25 book) prize...books. I forgot to take a pic, but D got Pokemon and Ash got a chapter book.  They were happy!  Lo got free ice cream and the other two got free Mother Bear's pizzas!
 We didn't have much time, but his one request was to play with a toy here. Done.
 We finally picked up his tball medal! He missed his final game last Saturday bc we were at Holiday World...but he was so proud of this medal and told me, "I'm going to play baseball next time and get another medal!".  Ok, buddy!
 Packing?  Me trying help so we can finish this up!
 Finally done!
 Excitement over packing and finding an old lost bathing suit in the bag...yay!
 The boys attempted to be organized and packed, but it's not the same as the girls.  D did ok.  Lo had only packed himself underwear and socks and his Paw Patrol bathing suit.  I guess that's better than nothing! 
 Big sis doing her nails for her!  Gotta look good in England!
 Contact recheck.  All looks good. Contacts are ordered and they gave her free samples for England. Bonus!
 A quick mall trip.  Puppies.  Shelb has puppy love. 
 We finally found the game she wanted to give her host family (Spot it) at Target. Why in the world are school supplies already out?  It's officially the first day of summer, not school!  Depressing!
 Came home to find more Wii playing.
 Off to see ballet friends at Baked and Noodles.
 Last violin before England and before her intensive begins.  It starts next week, but she'll miss the first week so she's been learning the music early. She's done very well!
 Well, this was not the dinner we intended. I had hoped to make one of her fav. meals, pesto pasta, but bc we had the eye appt and Hays had to be taken downtown....we did the next best thing!  Avers!
 Good ol' all-American food!  I am guessing she won't get pizza in England.  She was one happy girl, especially after her not-so-fun dinner last night and her bfast this morn. :)
 Our final decision on gifts for Emma and the host family.  I hope they like this stuff.  We ended up adding the game and the Indiana Tervis at the last minute. 
 Last minute haircut by mama per her request.  I feel almost like we're starting school with our prep for England!
 Grateful for these three who did chores and helped out!
 Found this girl wandering Kirkwood :)
 A pretty sunset...sometimes there is beauty in Indiana :)
 Last minute fun times at the house before 2 days of traveling!
 Lil' Adios to Hays to wish her good luck in Boston!  Triple Boston Cream Cheesecakes...two normal and one albino (bc Stegs like it plain)
 It was an ok cheesecake...needed less cake in it...
 LOL...Shelb got my non flexible gene.  Not sure what is going on below, but check out D's red face...he was cracking up!  I think Hays has him beat.  She is one strong ballerina girl!
 Hard to believe that in 12 hours we will be saying good by to our overseas girl!  My prayer is that she enjoys every minute and is open to new and exciting things! :)  Go, Shelb! 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A shopping day in prep of England and Boston...and a good ol' English meal!

 A few snaps of our might look lazy, but we were hustling to get things done.  The morning was lazy.  We like that.  It looks like Hays was up early with the sibs watching Little Pony :). Shelb and I slept in.  Daddy was up early to take care of our van tire issue...and also to get new brakes.  Ugh.  Always something expensive. :(
 A mini bfast.  Thought it'd be better than cereal. 
 Off to Sam's....we hear the British don't get much, if any, peanut butter.  But then again, maybe they don't want it.  We thought about bringing over these mighty Peter Pans...but it would take up her whole 50lb limit. haha :)
 The highlight...always loving the free samples at the Freeosk!
 arguing over mass produced snacks :)
 Shelb wants this cake for her next was darling with popsicles on it.
 Fighting over doing the self check out :) 
 Then off to Walmart....they had some fun.  No idea the purpose of these stretchy toys but I'm about to dump them after being hit by them today.  Snap!
 Shelb finding out about her British "bangers" meal!  Her enthusiasm was overwhelming.
 Can you tell what's going on here?  A little game of "trust" with Shelb and Hays.
 Ash found this special Coke and had me take a pic for Nina in FL!
 Surprises in the mail from Nina and Pops in FL!  The long-awaited fidget spinners from China!
 A light-up emoji!
 So excited!
 Thanks, Nina and Pops!
 My helpers for the day...Hays did all our dishes...phew, that was a lot of work...and Ash helped with our surprise meal!
 LOL...I looked over and saw Lo covering his ears. Apparently mixers are too much for him :)  He was a great helper too...cutting the strawberries all by himself with his own knife.
 She made this gorgeous English Trifle.  It turned out great!  Only wish I had a trifle dish. Couldn't find one at Walmart. :(
 Thumbs up on packing for England!
 Ash kept on helping...with a sign for Shelb...and D was busy cello-ing
 More Wii...fierce Mariocart competition
 An attempt on Hays' part to help Shelb with v-ball...there must have been some disagreement or stubbornness...
 ...bc I found Shelb on her own after about 10mins.  And Hays had wiped her hands of the situation.
 Our surprise British supper!  A sampling of many wonderful English n chips (the kids wanted to know where the real chips were)...bangers and mash and onion gravy....roast and yorkshire pudding (green beans bc I forgot to buy peas)....and the English trifle for dessert!  Cheerio, Shelb!
 Trying to act excited about the meal...but in all honesty I think she's very nervous about the food there...and this probably didn't help. Though it will make their food look a heck of a lot better!  haha :)  I tried, but I am not an English chef or even an American one for that matter!
 I love that enthusiasm!  The kids did all love the fries (chips!) as you can tell by Lo's hand grabbing them!
 She put on a happy face though and ate that meal!
 It wasn't all that bad.  The bangers and mash were good...the yorkshire pudding was great!  Even the fish sticks weren't all bad. I haven't had one since I was a kid!
 He discovered he doesn't dislike fish sticks :)
 Miss Picky even ate a fish stick. She didn't like it, but she ate it :)
 This ballerina met up with her Bloomy friends tonight for Laughing Planet and ice cream :)
 She did like the trifle...minus the jam.  Trying new things. That's our new motto.  We might try some new foreign meals every month...just for kicks!
 Still packing...and tooting....that English meal gave some fierce English gas!  Clear the Steg house!

One more day and we'd better be ready for Britain and Boston!