Sunday, August 22, 2010

England: Day 1 and 2

So, my parents picked us up at the airport in Manchester 7:30am-ish local time. (11:30pm MST) We get out to the car, and first of all... I had to get in the sliding door of the van on the left side. Weird right? And then my Dad climbs in on the right side. I mean, you know they drive on the left side. But it is a weird sensation when you are actually riding in the car.

So we head to Chorley to see the Preston England Temple and the distribution center. The temple was beautiful (as always). But oh, the green! I mean there were varieties of green trees, and colors of green on the bushes. And you'd see one bush growing into another, so they trim it to look like this sculpture molding together. And these vine archways that go over the walkway. SO PRETTY! Yeah, we were dead tired, so we did not do a good job of picture taking. Then we went and checked out the church book store in Chorley, cuz my parents needed something.

Then we went to Downham. Downham is this town, that when the missionaries in the 1800s came (and it was someone well known, but for the life of me, I can't remember), the entire town was baptized into the LDS church. It was very pretty, and there is this cute little bench that was given to the town as a memorial to those people.

Then we headed to Leeds. We got to my parents house, which is this cute little semi-detached home. I loved the cute personality these old homes have. The stairs are super narrow. The sinks are dinky. The doors have knobs, but the knobs don't function as knobs. Anyways, we unloaded our luggage and headed out for food.

We went to Murgatroyd's for fish and chips! I could've sworn I took a picture of my first "official" fish and chips, but I cannot find it! It was so yummy. It was HUGE though. Especially considering it was like barely 8am MST, we weren't that hungry. It was very yummy, I especially enjoyed their malt vinegar and tartar sauce. We both enjoyed it, and even Reid partook a little. Poor kid started losing it about here, due to sleep deprivation.

BUT, we needed to stay awake a little longer... so we went grocery shopping to ASDA to get a few things. ASDA is apparently European Walmart. And wow, did it look like it. It was interesting how it was the same, but also different. The coolest part was the Travelator, it is part escalator part moving walkway. Basically it functions as an escalator, but instead of steps it is flat like a moving walkway, and then you take your shopping cart with you, and it sticks. It doesn't roll up or down. I was very impressed. They also have this brillant idea. You put a 1pound coin in this slot on your shopping cart, and it releases it from the other shopping carts. If you bring your cart back to the place and relock it in... you get your money back. No runs for shopping carts. It was very nice.

At this point we headed home. My dad got this futon mattress to fit in between our two twin beds. It wasn't perfect, but it did provide a very crib like feel, even though Reid could crawl out.

Around 5pm, Matt crashed... Reid of course got his 7th or 8th wind... I lost count. So he was wide awake. I finally got him to settle down at about 7pm. I finally, and blissfully laid down to sleep myself. Then Reid woke up screaming about 45 minutes later. I begged Matt to take a turn since he'd had about 2 hours of sleep. But 10 minutes later, I could still hear Reid screaming downstairs. So down I went. After a few minutes with mom, he fell asleep in my lap. So back upstairs we went. Where we slept beautifully for about 4 hours. Then, Reid woke up. I mean, no wonder... it was midnight where we were, but it was only 4 in the afternoon back home. So I got him a bottle, and we tried sleep again. Luckily, he gave in. We got about another 5-6 hours before Reid woke up and joined me in my bed... but that was fine with me, because I got one more hour.

Well, I sent Matt downstairs with Reid to eat some breakfast while I got my education on how to shower. They use a boiler, which is like an instant, on-demand water heater right there in the tub. I did not figure it out my first shower, because my entire shower went from just a little too hot to just a little too cold. But I made due.

My parents are assigned to a ward across town, so we left for church about 45 minutes early. When we got there, I met lots of wonderful people. They were all so kind and friendly, and I just loved listening to all of them talk. Reid did really well during church, and even took about a 45 minute nap. I was still sleepy, but I enjoyed the comfort you feel at church, even across the world.

After church we drove to see where my great-grandmother lived. Here is the council housing that she lived in once upon a time.

Then we stopped to see the church where my great-grandmother was married. Here is the St. Matthias Church of England.
All I could think about as we drove around this church, is how over 100 years ago, there was a girl dressed in white, so excited to marrying the man of her dreams. And how they were just starting out on what ended up being the biggest sacrifice for me. Little ol' me. I was awestruck to think how she probably had little idea that she would join the LDS church, be disowned by family, leave their loved ones and travel by ship to America, all because of what they believed in. I was touched and amazed to be there at the same place she once stood on what was the one day of her life that started her incredible journey.

It was very cool to see some of these places, not because they mean anything to anyone else, but because they mean something to me.

After that we went home for some R&R... and yummy fish! Mom and Dad made salmon for us... and it was so good. The fish there is something yummier than you will ever get in the desert here!

Then the mission president invited us to his home for ice cream. We had a lovely visit with them. The mission home is beautiful. The garden was unreal. It really was. I can honestly say, I've never seen anything so green. I mean their "backyard wall" was a hedge. A gorgeous 10-15 foot tall dark green hedge. The grass was so soft, and the flowers, so pretty. And they don't even have to water anything there... NOTHING. No watering lines at all... weird huh? It was really fun visiting with the mission president because he is retired from a job of personal security for the President of our church. So he has traveled far and wide and had the opportunity to acquire many amazing items. He shared with us many of his experiences travelling throughout his job. It was very cool. I know he will do a great job serving there for the next 3 years.

That night we went to bed around 10pm, after some more yummy ice cream bars with Mom and Dad. (My family's tradition of eating ice cream on Sundays)

So far, we had been taking it easy, but part of that was the time change and part of that was we just enjoyed visiting with my parents. But get ready for the next few days, cuz whoo... it's a doozy!

(see facebook for more pictures)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How did Reid do on the Plane?

Well, we did it. We traveled internationally with a 1 year old. Crazy?... definitely. But it was so great at the same time.

Here is our travelogue for getting to England:

Thursday 5:30pm
Drive away from our home to head to Phoenix to spend the night at Matt's grandparents, so we can catch our flight in the morning.
Reid didn't sleep very good this night, unfamiliar surroundings and such. Oh how I was so thrilled he was going to be sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings for the next week.

Friday 8:15am
Leave grandparents house with aunt to drop us off at the airport.

Friday 8:45am

Walk into airport to see horrendously long lines - Oh crap, we're never gonna make it! Then we find our line... 6 people (well, groups of people). Sweet!

Friday 9:00am

Airline lady gives everyone dirty looks for actually standing in the airport's shortest line and not doing self check-in! So we attempt, which of course we can't, because we have an infant. Big suprise. So we continue on.
Check-in was easy, Security was easy. They had to do this vapor test on Reid's milk. It was interesting.

Friday 10:30am
We board our plane. The plane was overbooked, so no extra free seat for Reid. Bummer. But the plane was 2 seats on 1 side, 3 on another, and we had the seats with 2 on the side. Perfect, we can just manage him and not have to bug anyone else.
Reid slept for about 45 minutes, as opposed to his usual 2-3 hour nap. So we attempt to entertain him. Right behind us were two teenage boys that would smile occasionally at Reid, but behind them were 2 teenage girls who just loved him! He had a blast the last hour of the plane ride flirting with them.

Friday 4:00pm (Chicago time)
We land a little early, but our gate wasn't ready for us, we wait on the plane. Then we get into our gate late, so basically by the time we get out, find our gate, talk to the lady about options with a baby, get our seat re-assignments, they are boarding the plane. So we quickly get on.
Well, its lunch time Arizona time, and I'm starving! But don't worry, they claim they are serving dinner an hour into the flight. Ok, I can wait an hour. Except that we moved all the way to the back of the plane, so we could get an extra seat for Reid. Well, we were right by the galley and the latrines, and wow it is NOISY back there. Plus, you don't get served your food until last. And all that stuff about the stewardesses being nice and letting you walk to the plane... LIES ALL LIES! They kept telling me they needed to get by, and getting frustrated with me. I understand that they need to do their job, but seriously, could you at least be nice about it. There was one really nice blonde stewardess, but 1 out of 7 can only do so much.
In the mean time, Reid is sooo cranky, cuz he never got a real nap. So he finally crashes, and sleeps for a good while. Of course he wakes up everytime a loud chatty person comes back there to wait in line for the potty. Then he wakes up with 3 hours left of the flight wide awake.
Now that it is 10pm AZ time, I'm tired, and he's ready to play. Oh well, no sleep for me. Basically, I try to watch the in-flight movie and play with him, while he tries to dive into the aisle so he can go push every button in the galley. Oh well, all in all, it really wasn't that bad. I mean that's all normal stuff for a 1 year old. No screams, no fits or tantrums. He really did do pretty good. It's just hard when the parent is tired and trying to get some sleep.

Saturday 7:30am (England time)
Plane lands, we de-board. Bathrooms for me and Reid. Let Reid run and stretch (which was harder because it was midnight my time, and I just wanted him to play in one area), while Matt waits in the customs line.
Finally, we get through customs. The wonderful part was that at this point, everyone had gone ahead, so the only luggage left on the carousel was ours. Yay, a silver lining! We get our bags and try to find our way to the exit.
By the way, this is the exit sign in Europe... man running at the white rectangle?
(ignore the imprint... I coudn't find one without it)
Or if running, beware of the white rectangle below you that might swallow you up?
We go through the door, and there's my mom. An emotional embrace immediately occurs, and Reid is just chilling in his stroller (or trolley as my mom quickly corrects me) wondering why Mommy is crying.

It was so GREAT to see my parents! I didn't realize how much I miss them! At this point my father joyfully reminds us that the best thing to do is to CONTINUE to stay awake. Awesome.

Ta-da! We are in England. Stay tuned for updates on our actual vacation in England!