Thursday, March 8, 2007

Things I'll Never Forget About the Past Few Days

We've started our adventure, arriving in London Monday at around noon (7 am Indiana time). I wanted to write a list of things from the past few days that I want to remember. Hopefully, you'll find some amusing. So, here goes...

The baby found a mouse at the Indianapolis Airport. We're sitting there waiting for the plane and eating a snack, when she starts crying uncontrollably and saying, "Mouse! Mouse! Mouse!" She was not a fan of the mouse! (Nor was mommy.) She was crying so much, that I started thinking the mouse had actually bitten her.

DS5 and DD4 had interesting and opposite reactions in the plane. They don't remember their last plane ride, so this was a "first" for them. My son was scared, wanting to hold daddy's hand, remarking upon our first landing in Chicago, "I never wanted to do this. This was NOT my choice. I did not think it was a good idea and now we're going to fall out of the plane!" My daughter on the other hand, who we sometimes refer to as danger girl, was laughing uncontrollably as the plane took off. She raised her legs up in the air and kept saying, very loudly I might add, "THIS IS SO FUN!"

We had to wait one hour in the plane in Indy. Thank goodness for portable dvd players. That one hour was truly the worst of the whole trans-Atlantic experience!

We shlepped three preschoolers, five jackets, five carry-ons, two laptops, a portable dvd player, a camera with an extra lens, and a camcorder across O'Hare and Heathrow. It seems that our gates in O'Hare were on extreme opposite ends. And were trying to catch our flight after the delay in Indy, so we were practically running! We had to use the oldest to push the youngest in the stroller!

There was a grumpy business traveler in front of my middle daughter on the 8 hour overseas flight. I guess he did not find her amusing. She is a bit loud, and kept kicking the back of his seat. He obviously has no children, or clearly does NOT remember what having preschoolers was like.

The children all slept for the most part on the overseas flight. Happy Feet was on, and they wanted to see it, but couldn't stay awake.

When we got to immigration in London, we were informed that our work visa didn't actually start until the next day. They weren't going to let us in! But a very kind immigration worker was very helpful and let us in without any incident. I'm not sure what we would have done!

Next, we went to the baggage claim. (After walking for what seemed miles at Heathrow. This airport is SO spread out!) We had to pick up our 9, yes 9 pieces of large luggage. It took two very skillfully packed sky trolleys to get them out of the airport. My oldest had to be responsible once again for pushing the stroller with the baby.

They hired a huge van to get all of our family and the huge amounts of luggage into central London. I didn't know there were such large vans in England! The driver was very nice and had that great droll English sense of humor.

As we were driving through London, my middle daughter looked over at me and said very emphatically, "But mom, I thought we were going to ENGLAND!" I guess London wasn't meeting up to her preconceived notions?!?

We were so thrilled to be able to get a serviced apartment in London, rather than a hotel. It was quite nice. It's on a busy street, so I'm a paranoid weirdo about the children! We live in a small town, remember?

The children had some serious jet lag issues the first night. We went to bed at 9:30 or so, which was 5:30 home time. It took them a while to get to sleep, and then they woke up again at around midnight and stayed up for a little "jet lag party" until 2 am. Ugh!

Our second day here was spent house hunting. We were gone for 12 hours! We saw at least 10 properties. Three of them seemed best to us, with one clearly the top choice. It was a stand alone house with FIVE bedrooms and American-sized appliances. The garden was charming and had a little swing for the children. Unfortunately, by the time we went back that afternoon to see it again, it had already been swiped up. I guess all that we heard about the lettings market in London was quite true! We're now in negotiations for another property in a charming part of London, full of families and internationals.

The children loved the "tube", or subway. My oldest was very interested in reading the map and my youngest loved counting the stops. We did the tube during rush hour on the way home, which was challenging, as well as "educational" for my children's "vocabulary" -- lots of swearing by one particular gal! More ugh!

Our relocation expert was lovely. We were in her van for most of the day. At our very last stop, the tire went flat and my dear hubby had to get out and change it! He definitely did not anticipate such a job that day! It seems she had run over a nail. She was very impressed and thankful for his handy skills, since no-one would have been able to help us for THREE hours.

We're trying to learn what the products are in our local Metro Tesco, which is located just under our apartment. Many things look familiar -- lots of American products! But some things look so different. There are also lots of new products to try. We had so delicious "egg mayonaise" (egg salad) and the children love a fruit drink called "Fruit Shoot". The local McDonald's (Yes, we've eaten there!) offeredf fish fingers as well as the chicken nuggets and burgers. We're also trying to figure out our VERY DIFFERENT appliances.

We went to Hyde Park yesterday. Watching the children's amazement at the waterfowl on the Serpentine and their delight at seeing the Peter Pan statue was truly priceless. We then ventured to the Princess Diana Memorial Playground. The children ran, climbed, squealed, and discovered to their heart's delight. Afterward, we enjoyed ice cream and hot tea.

My middle daughter walked so much yesterday that she said towards the end of our journey, "I can't walk any more. My knees are too tired!"

I tried hard to remember after receiving 5 coins back yesterday, that indeed it was 7 pounds, as the clerk stated. Coins, to my American mind, are small change, and 5 of them are certainly not equal to 7 dollars, er, pounds...whatever!

Well, that's a recap of our time here, so far. Thanks to so many of you for your prayers. They've made our beginning days here truly "lovely", as they say in these parts.

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