Thursday, July 26, 2012

July Recap and Olympic Preview!!

July has been crazy busy with all of the end of year school stuff, sports, visitors, a trip to the ER and a lot of RAIN! But as of this week we have had some HOT weather and hoping that summer has finally arrived...on July 23! We are gearing up for a visit today from Pete's sister's daughter Kate from Texas for an epic Olympic extravaganza! How many events, castles, retail shops, palaces, trains, tubes and tourist sites can we fit in 9 days? Ready go!

But a first a recap of the past month:

Henry is winding up his first cricket season. We had a lot of rain outs but we learned a lot about the sport of cricket. Henry's coach can never remember any one's name so he calls Henry "American boy" and me Jenny. Cricket is a lot like baseball...slow pace but a lot of strategery and brilliant to watch when the sun is shining. Not so great when it is cold and damp. But the best bit is that they have a full bar at the pitch...parents having a pint while the games goes on and on and on...

Cricket...slowly understanding the concept.
 I like to watch cricket with Henry's friend Jamie-he knows his stuff!

After Henry finished his batting.
 May was chosen to represent her school, Polehampton, at the annual Reading District Running Races. There were at least 20 other primary schools that competed and Polehampton did brilliantly. They choose the fastest runners to compete. May was part of the Mixed 80m relay - complete with a baton (said with the emphasis on the "bat" not the "on"). Her team made it to the finals but there was a baton drop (not by May)...May did brilliant and ran her team from last place to not last! Henry's mate won the 600m race and broke the record!
May was chosen to represent her school, Polehampton, at the annual District running day.
 She ran in the Mixed 80m relay with a baton pass!
 May participated in the swimming GALA at Polehampton for the Inter House Cup! She was the anchor in her mixed relay and caught up to help her house win the race! She has found her inner athlete here in England! Not one picture of gymnastics on this entire blog! She is doing gym 10.5 hours a week but has not competed in a meet yet. Unfortunately the End of Year Sport's day was cancelled the last week of school due to a rainy, slippery field. This would have decided which house won the CUP for the year! May was chosen to represent her house, Loddon, in the Squadron running race-the fastest kids from each house. So a bummer that they cancelled the entire event.

Henry would have competed in the swimming Gala but he ended up in the hospital for a night - more on that below. Henry is very into tennis and is playing every chance he can get. He is going to tennis camp after the Olympics once May resumes her gym training.
May after her come from behind victory!

More cricket - Henry batting!

May and her relay team at the District Running Day!

Run, May, RUN!

We couldn't let the 4th of July pass without some sort of celebration. It was very strange seeing all the Facebook posts about 4th of July celebrations and not be a part of it! So after a wild goose chase all over town to find fireworks, I finally found success at a great fancy dress (aka costume shop) store! You wouldn't believe their selection of dress up stuff and they had a fantastic mustache selection! But success was found with the fireworks! So May made cooked up a festive American flag tart, we grilled up some burgers and corn on the cob! Henry's buddy, Jamie, came along for the dinner and fireworks! We had a quiz of American facts during dinner and am proud to say we knew most of the answers!

The 4th of July UK-style!

May's cake she made!

Henry and his mate Jamie enjoying burgers and corn on the cob!

Jamie conflicted...UK or USA?

Boys and fire!

Kaboom...note the American football! We are slowly converting him to our ways...

When my mum was visiting, she bought us an annual pass to the Historic Palaces of Britain. A couple of weeks ago we decided to hit up Hampton Court Palace. It was a somewhat sunny day so we headed out early...the palace was King Henry VIII's (a Tudor) weekend home. It was a PARTY palace used for giant celebrations, lots of booze and women. Henry VIII was married 7 times and beheaded 2 or 3 of his wives...he was know as the fat, sweaty and nasty king...

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace-home of King Henry VIII Tudor

Love this pic-most beautiful gardens we have seen!

 King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn-head still intact!

Pete mentioned to me one day that a co-worker of his was selling some Madonna tickets and did I want them...I said yes, a 1,000 times, YES! She was playing in Hyde Park on a Tuesday night - it was going to be muddy from all of the rain but I called up Dina and she was game to give it a go! Madonna in Hyde Park, in London, a week before the Olympics? YES!
I was able to sneak into London early in the afternoon so I walked miles just poking around L-Town! Dina and I met at the Dorechester Hotel in Mayfair for a pre-concert glass of vino, then headed over to the Audley Pub for another pre-concert glass of vino. Audley is a famous pub where all the young financial boys is packed with men in suits drinking pints! We headed to the concert, the sky was clear and the mud was actually quite minimal! LMFAO (Party Rock and I'm Sexy and I
Know It fame) opened for Madonna and were hilarious! Madonna can put on a show and is controversial as hell - guns, blood, swastikas, and Catholic Church references galore! She was good but she really sang only a few of her hits! She had some pre-recorded hits she mashed up into some of her new stuff and that's how she got them in without really "singing" them. Kind of lame if you ask me. But at 53 she can still rock on! It was a late night (despite the Hyde Park noise cut off time of 10:30pm) but so much fun!
Pre-Madonna concert cocktails at The Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair

That's how we roll- hot pink and blue Lamborginis!

Gettin' my festival wellies on! Because of all the rain Hyde Park was muddy!

She took Madonna seriously!

Drinking cheap wine out of mini-plastic bottles was not beneath us!

Festival wear and the horrid jean shorts and thin black tights look!

More bad fashion choices!
The real Madonna? Or was it the CUP o' wine playing tricks on our eyes?

Glamour in a bottle!
Our GREAT friend, Tom Bice, came and stayed with us one night while he was in town for work! It was excellent to see him, the kids adore him and so great for Pete to be able to hang with his BF (boyfriend, best friend, you decide?). Unfortunately the rain put a damper on any great plans we had but were able to sneak a walk along the Thames and a pub lunch in Henley Town in to the day. We watched some Wimbledon and then had a lovely dinner at the Bull in Sonning. Afterwards the three of us were able to sneak off to the pub down the street for a nightcap!

Tom Bice in the da houz!

Pete was SO HAPPY to spend time with one of his besties!

The kids were happy to see Tom Bice...
until all the fun put Henry in the hospital for a night! Nasty chest infection/pneumonia! Good times-another week of school missed! Henry missed at least 13 days of school since April 18 due to all the colds he got!
Henry was complaining of shortness of breath the day Tom was here and the next morning woke up feeling awful. He laid around all day with me watching the Men's Final of Wimbledon and did not move. I finally decided to take him in to the A & E (accident and emergency). We didn't know where to go or how it all worked...we had not been to the DR yet. It was hot and crowded in the A&E but we had called ahead and gotten a number so we were seen fairly quickly. They did some nebulizing treatments and put him on oxygen. At about 10pm they decided he needed to be admitted because he was relying on the oxygen to breathe...we had anticipated this so Pete packed a bag and I had to go get him and swap the car. Pete graciously took one for the team and slept with Henry at the hospital...well no sleeping really occurred. I won't even post the pic of him in the A&E-it is too scary to see. The one above is the next day when he was feeling better. He was discharged at 6pm the following day and spent the rest of the week at home. He missed his school play his year put on, the swimming gala and his Leaver's was such a bummer! So I have no cute pics of his class all dressed up in tuxs, suits, ties and fancy dress! But he is feeling much better and back to his normal, chatty, high energy self!

This past weekend we went to the Tree of Life...part of the Cultural Olympiad for the London 2012 Games. Given a grant, the Tree of Life came to life thru music, song and 1200 local school kids from the Thames Valley. There was a whole story behind trees left in the world so they built this industrial tree, there were monkeys, ants and fire that threatened it, etc... It was in a beautiful setting at Stonor Park, we picnicked and watched this very interesting production! It was cool and something we never would have done in the States!

Cultural Olympiad at Stonor Park...the Tree of Light. An art installation/theatrical production involving 1200 school kids from around the Thames Valley. It was cool.

Stonor Park-gorgeous setting!

You climb the hill, you get to run down the hill!

Here they come, like a swarm of bees down the countryside.

We liked Stonor Park so much, we went back the next day to hike.

Stonor Manor

Darling farm shop/cafe/pub we found!

A little after-hike ice cream and then we had the Orlando Bloom sighting!

A big step in every kid's life is graduating from elementary school to middle school! In the UK they call it going from primary to secondary school so the same thing really! Although secondary school here is ages 11-18 so it is like middle school and high school combined. Henry will be going to The Piggott School next year which is an excellent school and has received high reports. He was sick the night he met his tutor (homeroom) teacher but I went and he is with a bunch of his friends. The graduation at Polehampton was super cute, lots of singing and lots of weepy mums! I imagine I would have been weepy if I had been at Sunny Hills with all of my friends and our kids that had been together since kindergarten. They had a big slide show and it was fun to see all of Henry's mates when they were little!Thanks to Henry's teacher at Sunny Hills, Mrs. Kleinkopf,  Henry and I were able to watch the Sunny Hills slide show!

Henry graduates from Polehampton Junior School...on to Year 7!

Henry's two teachers

He had a great experience at Polehampton!

Henry and his teacher Mrs. Stockdale

Henry and his mates

Last day of school

The gang going on to Year 7 at The Piggott Academy

May and her mates, Larissa and Hermione

First sunny evening at the George and Dragon deck

Post-muddy mtn bike ride ice cream at the Sonning Lock Tea House
 This past Monday I took the kids to a local amusement park for getting such great report cards! Henry has never liked roller coasters but he has over come his fear and we did some amazing coasters. May wore her hair high on top of her head and figured out to stand on the back of her shoes so she could meet the height requirements. It worked for all but one ride! It was hot and sunny and by 3pm we were done with the park! Stinky and sweaty!
Took the kids to Thorpe Park amusement park for getting such good report cards. It was the first hot day and they had great water rides. This is the Tidal Wave-we were soaked to the bone but it felt great!

For those of you familiar with Sun Valley-we found a Desperado's!
 Not quite the same!
The Olympic Torch went through Henley a couple of weeks ago but it was the week Henry was sick so we didn't get to go see it. I was determined to check this off the Bucket List, so we headed to Richmond early yesterday morning (7:50am train) and met up with Dina and her kids to watch the historic event! It was super fun, festive and got us all reved up for the Olympics! Afterwards we had a lovely pub lunch on the river and then the kids and I headed into London on the Tube to do some Olympic fashion shopping and to pick up our Olympic tickets from the US will call place. It was hot on the tube, hot on the street and hot waiting in line for an hour to pick up our tickets! Luckily the kids were able to go lay in the shade in the park and read while I waited in line. But success-we have our tickets and are ready for the Olympics!

Henry and Hunter waiting for the Torch!

The crowd is building!

Here come the official Torch Relay vehicles and the odd Olympic mascot!

Official Torch bus with all the past and future runners and their torches!

Here comes the corporate sponsorship peeps!

Here she comes with the torch!

The torch close up!

Loads of cyclists following the torch!

At the "beach" in Richmond feeding the ducks post-torch!

Our gang

The Queen's barge (with the rowers) is docked in Richmond