London Day 3: Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour

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By day three in London I was waving my white flag of failure. Jetlag had won and there wasn’t anything my wonder-woman-go-getter-self could do about it. I was so angry about it too. Jetlag took one look at me and laughed. I see you want to go visit eleven museums and take a tour of the underground railway system. Hah! I present you with two whiney children and raise you a domestic partner who feels nauseous every morning at breakfast. Have fun with that list of things you really wanted to do. Cheerio!

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Does anyone remember that comedy skit where the comedian says something like,  Don’t get married. Just go find someone you really like and take a trip with them. If you still like them at the end of two weeks then you can get married. You’ll save yourself thousands of dollars…or something like that… Heh. It’s pretty good advice. Take a trip with me twelve hours out of my time zone and my true self raises it’s ugly head of rage.

What? Little ol’ mouse-voiced Brenda?! Who knew!  Probably everyone but if Payam was thinking of marrying me someday he might not be thinking so much about that now. Just kidding. I kept  my anger under wraps for the most part but it is really true that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

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By day three I pretty much had my will to explore drained completely out of me. I didn’t care anymore.  Wanna go sit on a bus for three hours? Sounds good to me. In fact, it was the perfect thing to do. I was so tired and the kids were so tired. All we wanted to do was sit on a bus and listen to a humorous tour guide rattle on about buildings and history.

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I couldn’t tell you what those humorous stories were now. Something about a wedding cake and a really great architect who was buried in a crypt without any flamboyance, just a little plaque that said the church itself was all the headstone he needed… or something like that.  It was all very very interesting! I loved every story! I wish I had a transcript of the tour guide’s spiel because it was great. Really great.

It was like bits and pieces of European History that I didn’t pay attention to in high school suddenly falling into a timeline that I could understand and laugh about because it was about real people! Except my brain was running on random access memory because of jet lag and I turned off my computer before it could save anything so now all those stories are gone. Kablooey! Out my ears and off into the nether, never to be remembered again.

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If you should find yourself in London, I strongly recommend this tour. But don’t go when you have jet lag or anger issues about your family having jet lag. Go after a day or two. Take a notepad and write down the places you want to learn more about and write down the streets and addresses because guess what, your wifi won’t do squat for you (even though you bought the $10 a day plan) and your mapping apps will mock you. It will be like 1992 all over again and you forgot to print out a map before you left your hotel.

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On the far end of our bus tour we decided to get off and take a river cruise back. It was nice. We had a late lunch on the water while another tour guide told us even more funny stories.

We had the forethought to stop into one of those EAT shops before we got on the boat and bought sandwiches and a hot dog for Bug from a nearby cart vendor. The sandwiches were so cheap and for the most-part eatable. A little dry but not un-delicious. Everything is expensive in London so finding an egg-salad sandwich for two pounds was something to get excited about. I kinda wish we had something like that here in the states. I love to picnic and if I could just pop into a little store and buy a sandwich for two bucks all packed in a cute paper sack I would totally do that! Plus, they have every kind of sandwich you can think of and chips (aka crisps) and a zillion other things too. It’s a family’s rainbow of tastes dream come true. And believe me, we are a challenge when it comes to finding a restaurant that has something for everyone.

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After the boat ride, Payam went back to the hotel to rest (again. He really wasn’t feeling well still.) and we went back to our old favorite stomping grounds around the River Thames and the London Eye. This was like our backyard by now but not unpleasant because there was always ice cream and street entertainment.

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That night we yelped a hamburger restaurant (and finally found it two hours later thanks to our lack of wifi and our ever moving marauders map) that I loved. Payam wasn’t as keen on it as I was (the flavor of the meat was just a little bit different) but it was so nice to find a quiet spot after bustling through throngs and throngs of London thirty-somethings.

London seems to be the supreme place to party if you are young and without kids.  If you have kids, it’s a fun game of “Hey, don’t look over there. Let’s look at something else. No, you don’t see a drunk guy vomiting in a dark corner. Let’s look away!” So that was fun. Payam and I would have had a blast partying the night away but not so much with kids.

We had a fun party back home in our apartment instead.

But don’t worry tomorrow’s post will be all about the kids and FUN, FUN, FUN!!! Harry Potter Land did not dissappoint.

A quick little addendum note: Please notice all the photos that Joon took while I was feeling un-photographer-esque. I’m so glad I packed my old camera and had the thought to let her use it. Because if I hadn’t, this post would not exist. Also up tomorrow: A stabbing in London! Don’t worry, it’s not what you think.

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Summer Nostalgia

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Bug and I finally made it out to the sticks to take advantage of my parents over-achieving gardening skills this summer. My parents have a HUGE over-grown garden that is producing tomatoes like a factory. Their nectarine tree is literally breaking it’s branches to hold all the nectarines it grew and of course there are grapefruits coming out their ears. This winter’s heavy rain probably had something to do with the bumper crop but the rest is all my parents and their giant green thumbs. They also may have an alergy to staying inside. Let’s just say my mom’s approach to housework is to close the door and garden instead. I should make her a shirt that says that.

I love taking the kids to The Sticks but we haven’t been much this summer because it’s been hard to leave our perfect 70-degree weather to go hang out in the 102 degrees of blazing heat that is The Sticks.  We have a big olympic-sized pool in our community. My parents have a tiny above-ground pool that sits in the sun and promises a darker tan in three minutes. And that’s not a good thing.

I can’t even take the dogs with me which is sad because the dogs LOVE The Sticks even more than the kids! But I feel horrible taking them out to that heat no matter how much they love exploring the wonderland of dangers that is my parent’s foxtail-infested half-acre yard and the twenty-seven cats they get to chase.

Cody is not allowed in their pool because his hair would clog the filter in about a minute. It would just be mean to take them on a long hot car ride just to tell them they couldn’t swim. You know how Cody is. He is a SWIMMING DOG.

So Bug and I decided to tough out the heat on our own and it was totally worth it! (Like you knew it would be of course.) I love visiting with my parents. We hide out in the cool of their mobile home, chatting away in the living room. The drapes are drawn to keep it cool and the swamp cooler blows that soft cool air that reminds me of my childhood. Bug takes quick breaks to run outside and visit her old friends, the many kittens who have now grown up into lanky cats.

I love that Bug and I have The Sticks as a big part of who we are. We are both sentimental about it in a way that bonds us deeply.

I almost forgot the one funny thing that happened while we were out there! We found Mongolian Grill!  I can’t even believe it myself because usually eating out in The Sticks is limited to horrible chains with 2000 calorie entrees or fast food. It really is Walmart Culture at it’s worst and everywhere you look are depressing choices. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened my Yelp app and I found a whole underground of Asian food in The Sticks that I had no idea existed! Why didn’t I discover this sooner!  I even made my Dad try it and he loved it!  Sticks WIN!

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We came back home from The Sticks with a giant bag of nectarines which were about to go bad in a day so you know what that means: PIE. Except I forgot that they are super maximus juicy and I should have added gelatin or five tablespoons of flour or something to my pie when I made it because my beautiful pie turned out to pretty much be cooked fruit soup with a crust.

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Mmm… soup. Sadly, I left the pie out on the counter too long and fruit flies got it. That’s what happens when people are on stupid diets and things don’t get eaten fast enough. Sigh.

Maybe the pie didn’t get eaten because some people like to spend all their time in the garage and they forget to eat. Harumph. Jealous much? Yeah. I am.

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As you can see, Payam has finished his workshop in the garage and it’s pretty cool! I’m sure he’ll keep tweaking it and getting it more and more just right but I have to say it is very cool and yes, I am jealous. Good thing he lets me come hang out here and I’m even trying my hand at creating some of my own wood things. Power tools are fun!

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They are also scary. I’ve been customizing Payam’s work bench with illustrations and reminders not to cut himself. He’s on blood thinners after his recent heart surgery so I’m pretty much visualizing gushing limbs on a regular basis because I’m fun like that.

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You know what else is fun? My laundry room! I love my laundry room/craft cabinet corridor that sits on the other side of Payam’s shop. It’s like my own personal Diagon Alley.

You laugh but really it is awesome.  I look at this and smile as memories flood me from all my past laundry rooms… All those days of schlepping laundry to a laundromat in the next town over. Doing so many loads with a baby hanging off my hip.  Watching the loads go round while my baby napped in a wire cart. All those playdates at drug dealer park… I love this room, torn linoleum and all. It even has a man-cave refrigerator in it, covered in stickers! Care for an ice-cold soda in a glass bottle while you hang those wet swimming suits? Don’t mind if I do!

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