Wednesday, September 2, 2015

back to school with lou

Wearing a locket with a picture of Mommy and Daddy in it.
So we're always with her.

So some of you may recall that Lou started preschool last year on a one day a week plan. It seemed like a good idea and it was...until it wasn't. One week I went to take her and she screamed bloody murder. She wouldn't loosen her death grip on me for anything. This is strange for Lou. She's not generally scared of much. Heights are a thing of beauty. Running away from mom in public and hiding is hilarious. Strangers are just friends. So this was strange. Then the teacher forcibly took her from me...and it was over. Because it doesn't take much for me to bring out the mama bear and don't you dare take my baby! Jess and I felt like something must be off for her to be so frightened, plus she had another year of preschool, plus I HATE SENDING MY BABIES AWAY FROM ME. So we quit lickety split.

This year I knew we needed to find something different for her. I enrolled her at a preschool run through an elementary school. So she gets to go to a "big girl" school, with a classroom just like the one she grew to love while helping in Annabelle's kindergarten class. She's been waiting and waiting and waiting for the day she could go to preschool. (Well, ideally she'd like to go to kindergarten, but she'll take this as a second place.) And there were practically stars in her eyes when she woke up yesterday, ready to take on the world.

My goodness was she a happy girl when I picked her up (yesterday and today). I think we've found the perfect place for her, and I'm so proud of how brave she was on her first day. When I picked her up she talked without breathing for five minutes straight about every little thing they did, took a big gulp of air, smiled, and said, "I love preschool." 

I love that she loves preschool almost as much as I love her. 

P.S. Oh my - my house is lonely without both of the girls there! A problem which will be remedied in a few months, I know. But until then, so quiet and lame!
P.P.S. I really don't want to talk about my picture taking skills. It's a long story. Mostly involving me not knowing how to use a camera.

I snuck the picture on the right as I left.
Breaks my heart and makes me proud all at the same time to see her so brave.

Friday, August 28, 2015

changing the queen's life guard

So a little known fact: horse guards (life guards) guard the official entrance to Buckingham Palace. Every hour from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., the horse guards are switched out from a team of horses and guards standing by. And every day at 11 a.m., that group of horse guards is traded out for a new group. A new fleet marches in, the old fleet is inspected and released, and it's all very much amazing. 

We visited the changing of the horse guard four times. You see, we have this little Lou. And she's legitimately obsessed with horses. Annabelle also loves them, but I think she doesn't want to admit that she likes something her sister does, so she just loves them silently. And really, this is just an amazing little event, so we made sure to get our fill. 

The change of the horse guard is much less well known than the change of the guards at the palace. Fewer tourists and almost open access to the horses. However, they proceed about their business with structure and regimented exactness - if you happen to be in the way, watch out. These horses DO NOT care. And they bite. And you will get yelled at.

This horse was an exception to the rule of militant exactness.
He was basically begging people to pet him.
You could tell the guard was going nuts trying to keep his horse from acting up.
And all while keeping a stern face. The girls sure loved this guy.
I love loved watching the change of the horse guard. Such beautiful animals and such tradition. We went to the Horse Cavalry Museum as well, which was absolutely worth the price of admission. It's housed in the original eighteenth century stables of the royal horses - originally 70 (now 220). The very coolest part is that you can see into the active (and original) stables (through a huge window) in a portion of the museum. The horses that just got traded out are lined up in their stalls, getting groomed and fed. It's fun to see the guards as well - hats gone, faces drawn in smiles instead of stone cold glares, suspenders hanging at their waists. The museum also houses an impressive arsenal of artifacts and fascinating tidbits of information. 

A few fun facts I retained:

- The Queen has a force of 220 horses. They are used for various guards and events. All of them are immaculately groomed and kept. 
- The horses are militant. They aren't your normal pet riding horses. They bite and kick when they aren't pleased with the rider. The guards aren't exactly friendly either.
- One rider (on a video) said that during in his first week of training, he was thrown off six times, five times breaking a rib.
- When guards begin their training, they spend three weeks riding without stirrups.
- Life guards have stood guard at Horse Guards (the official entrance to Buckingham Palace) since 1660. 1660 people!
- The guard horses are black or very dark brown. Some spots on the face and feet are acceptable. The grey horses are for the trumpeteers.
- The horses retire after an average of 18 years of service.
- There is also a dismounting ceremony in the evening. The guards and horses are inspected and then the horses are taken in for the evening. This ceremony began in 1894 when Queen Victoria found the troops drunk as skunks and gambling away. She instituted a check to take place at 4 o'clock every day for 100 years. When those hundred years were up, the Queen decided to keep doing it. Because tradition people! And a mighty fine one at that!

Our little Lou loved this so much, and I'm so glad we got to do it so many times. Whenever anyone asks what her favorite thing in London is, she says, "the horses." A funny answer when you think about it, but it truly was a highlight for all of us.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

bubbles at trafalgar

We began our trip in a hotel just off of Trafalgar Square (the first week). In Jess' previous visits, he'd really grown to love the area and its proximity to lots of attractions. The National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery are situated snugly on the square, but it isn't the world renowned art that the girls cared about. No, no. It was the bubbbbles. 

Trafalgar Square always has little street acts trying to earn a little money. Most of them are garbage, but the bubble guys are amazing. I'm fairly certain that if they remember only one thing from this experience in London, the girls will remember THE BUBBLES. 

While we were there it drove us a little crazy. Like WE HAVE BUBBLES IN THE STATES. But as I started pulling photos (and couldn't stop), I realized that we DO NOT have bubbles like this. And really, how magical. I hope they always remember the gigantic bubbles in blowing in Trafalgar Square. I hope this little bit of magic stays with them always.


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