Thursday, July 17, 2014

Go to work with Dad week! UK July 13th-17th

On Saturday afternoon we made a last minute decision that Maddie and I would go to work with Kellen for the week! Well, not really physically go to work with him, but travel to London to relax and stay in the hotel with him. An impromptu trip to the UK? That's not a bad deal! We spent Saturday scrambling to book train tickets, pack, and write talks because we had to speak at church the next day. Sunday morning we went to church and spoke to the congregation. Here is Kellen and Maddie at church, he is such a great daddy!
After church we headed to Brussels Midi train station and boarded the Eurostar train to London. We felt especially lucky because Kellen had a first class ticket and Maddie and I were in coach.
We asked the train manger if Kellen could trade whoever I was sitting by to come sit by me in coach. Instead the train manager gave us our very own couchette- our own little room on the train! 
It was my first time going through the Chunnel and I was excited. But it is really nothing to get excited about. It basically gets very dark and your ears pop. But it still amazes me that there is a tunnel below the English Channel. After 2 hours on the train we had an hour cab ride to our hotel. 
It still seems strange to me that babies do not have to be buckled up in cabs. We finally arrived at the Marriott Hanbury Manor Hotel- our home for the week!
It is a beautiful old manor house- it reminded me of Downton Abbey- that has been converted into a hotel. It is set on a golf corse and epitomizes the beauty of the English countryside! They serve tea each afternoon in the main room on fine china and there is a library filled with many leather bound books that smells of rich mahogany!!
Sunday evening we walked around the hotel and played chess. It was the first time Kellen and I have ever played a game of chess and, for the record, I won- checkmate!!
On Monday Kellen headed into the office and Maddie and I enjoyed the amenities of the hotel. I especially enjoyed the babysitting service so I could leave Maddie for an hour and work out. The only problem is that they came to get me after about 45min because she was screaming: stranger danger has set in:(
We loved going to the pool and the nice housekeeper gave Maddie this matching teddy bear in a Hanbury Manor robe!! Like mother, like daughter, like teddy bear! 
We had dinner that night at the hotel with a few of Kellen's coworkers. Here is Maddie all ready to go to dinner. Having a baby at a BCG dinner was a little out of the norm and she was very entertaining!!
Tuesday Maddie and I walked 45 minutes to the nearest town- Ware, UK. My first thought was where in the world is Ware?? It was a charming English town. We spent the day exploring and eating some fish n' chips!
We headed back to the hotel and met Kellen for dinner at a restaurant called Sow and Pigs! I got a homeade potpie and Kellen got sausages. We loved it and left very full!!
Wednesday we spent eating, swimming, exercising, and relaxing at the hotel and ended the night with a little room service. I always love getting room service!
Thursday, I felt pretty proud because I ventured into London all alone. I had to walk to the train station in Ware, then take the train and two different metros to reach Rachael Bishop's flat. She is a friend from Dallas and her husband is working for a year in London with BCG. It was so fun catching up and comparing moving stories! We went out with the kids and had a great Italian lunch. Then I stopped by Buckingham Palace before heading to meet Kellen at St. Pancras train station. 
And just like that our week was over. The best part of going to work with dad week was being able see Kellen every night!! Thanks for letting us tag along!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Brussels and Bruges July 3rd-5th

We arrived in Brussels and went straight to check into the Marriott where half the family would stay, the other half stayed at our house! As we walked you could hear Blaine's sigh of relief as he walked into a familiar American Hotel complete with a club lounge that we took great advantage of!! Even the babies were excited about the nice hotel! We then headed out to the Grand Place, Manneken Pis, and to eat some famous Belgian Waffles!
The next morning we got an early start and got on the train to go to the charming city of Bruges. To start the day off we did a boat tour. The boat tours are recommended by every guide book and I have always wanted to do one. Well €7, a boat with tourists jammed in like sardines, overheating from an abnormally hot day in Belgium, and 2 fussy babies later, I do not know if I would recommend a boat tour! But I'm glad we did it so I can check it off the list of things I wanted to do!
Then we were off on foot to check out the rest of the city.
Everyone went to check out the Modonna and Child sculpture by Michaelangelo. It is featured in the recent movie Monuments Men. I have seen it before so I waited outside with these darling little babies!
And then the group climbed the main square's belfry, or bell tower, and again I waited outside with this crazy girl and the babies! I love this girl and how much baby bonding time we had on the trip!
It was a very fun day and lucky Maddie got a tummy rub the whole way home on the train!! She sure has loved having Mimi and Papa around!
Brussels: Happy 4th of July

We got all dressed up in our patriotic red, white and blue and headed out to explore Brussels! Our first stop was the Neuhaus Chocolate outlet. This is a hidden gem in Brussels because you get to go sample all the finest Belgium chocolate for free. Then if you haven't had enough chocolate you can buy large boxes of chocolate at a very discounted price. Let's just say if you do not leave this place sick to your stomach you have not taken full advantage of it!
Then we headed downtown to the Grand Place.
Next stop was our favorite waffle shop. Then on to the King's Palace. 
We then had some down time at the hotel before our family photo shoot at my favorite park by our house!
There were no fireworks, no parade, no BBQ but it was still a great 4th because we got to be with family. A huge thanks to Brenda and Blaine for making this trip of a lifetime possible!! Love you all!