Saturday, March 9, 2013

Happy Valentines...and Birthday!

Once a long, long, time ago our cat ate my ring.  That's right.  Luci, our lovely, cuddly, chunky kitty ate my wedding ring.  Reed very generously replaced my ring on my next birthday.  However, he replaced my lovely bands with a gorgeous solitaire.  After about 24hrs of debate I confessed that, actually, I just wanted a band.  The ring box was promptly snapped shut and the issue has remained...sensitive..for the past 9 years. 
On Valentine's Day 2013 it was all put to aright.  
In the middle of a perfect blue sky, on a timeless blue bridge, by a little blue box :).    
London Bridge...where I got THE ring.
*I know, I should show a picture of THE ring.  But, it's just a thin gold band.  As Bonnie puts it, it's 'nice'.
But, to me it's more than nice.  It's not flashy or shiny, but it's simple, it's meaningful and I will wear it and love it forever*
Just a few days later, Reed did a great job and got some friends together here in London for a surprise party after church and then we kept up the Newell tradition of having a birthday month and continued the celebrations in Barcelona a week later.  
Every year we find new, amazing places

But, we always make time for "Our" Restaurant.

Time Out!

We returned home to London with just enough time to get our feet under us before we got to enjoy a lovely spurt of visitors.  
First was Miss Ariel.  
While dreaming about having visitors I mentioned to Reed that Ariel's bucket list included attending a Premier league match.  Within the week Reed had found a way to get tickets, within 24hrs of receiving this information, I had Ariel's flight info in my inbox.  We had a packed 5 days with 2 football matches, the British Library, a jaunt to Greenwich and eating our way through the Borough Market.  
Oh, and the sun shone all week.  It was perfect. 
We also enjoyed...
runs through Hyde Park
Walking the town

And some yummy desserts.  
Next up...Bonnie and Aaron.  It was fantastic to have one of our favorite couples in town.  We completely ditched real life to enjoy our time together.  
They picked up some random kiddos at the British Museum

We celebrated Chinese New Year's in Chinatown and then enjoyed Les Mis. Which, I must say, was  quite good.  The vocals were impressive and the pacing kept you completely engaged.

Quick stop for a little magic

More vagabonds attached themselves to Miss Bonnie

We can validate the timeless nature of Stonehenge.  It never gets old :)

Right before I was accosted by a shamman who instructed me on the finer points of energy flows traced via her goat staff.  Pure awesomeness.

The boys slipped away for a match.

While the girls enjoyed an evening at the bookstore and then met up with the boys for a cozy dinner out.  
Good friends, great food and a little sun went a long way towards closing out a long, dark winter and getting us ready for spring!

Happy New Years!

By the time New Year's rolled around things were relatively quiet.  Our family and Michael were the only ones left, so we knew we needed to step it up for New Year's Eve.  The answer...
Balloons...Lots of balloons...In a wide open space (we're crazy like that :)
The world was topsy turvy for the night

Maniac McC strikes again

I was "safe"

Grandma was not.

Matts was in his element

It only took everyone, but the Hulk could be conquered.

Enjoying a little post bedtime snack.  GUMMIES!

Michael may or may not have had to run around the house in his shorts.  I'm just saying...
At the strike of midnight we discovered just how much the Swedes love their explosives.  It looked and sounded like WW3.  There were, hopefully Legal, fireworks shooting into the sky from every direction.  It was cool enough I woke up the boys to show them.  
Apparently strict gun control +inflammable ice +holiday spirit =very enthusiatic swedes.  

God Jul

With 8 kiddos and their accompanying adults (+Michael who's somewhere in between) our holiday in Sweden was non-stop entertainment.  Add a couple feet of snow and you have pure Christmas magic.

The Residence

We invaded our first school

Enjoyed some quality time at Junibaken

And enjoyed lots and lots of time in the winter wonderland.

Matts was a great protector

Little C liked to cause mischief and despised any and all gloves.  

G just wanted to have a good time

Reed and I also got away for a weekend in Stockholm and like the good people we are hit up the temple.  

Doesn't hurt that it's right next to a delicious bakery.

It was wonderful to get to enjoy the sights of Stockholm, eat some amazing food (best Italian ? ever) and SLEEP.
Although it seems crazy to go to the freezing cold arctic, where they only have 4hours of sunlight per day, it was a perfect break from life.  Filled with lots of sledding, food, movies, and family.  

Christmas Day

Tis the season for Legos.  
Santa was very generous and the boys very good and Christmas Eve and Morning were wonderful.  
Not a bad way to travel.  

We trekked across the ice and snow to see this sweet little creche at a local church.  The children all sang carols for Jesus and sweet Linnea wanted to sing an extra song as a present for baby Jesus
Little C putting together Thor and Iron Man

Oh yeah, that's a candy necklace to go with his mouthful of goodies.  

Not sure when he grew up, but here's my BIG boy

After a quick change into "cougar gants" Christian was ready to read with Grandpa
Not sure if the giver(s) or receiver was more excited about these (they cam in a 6 pack :)

G was more than happy
Our Cheeky Monkey

Merry Christmas to All!

Alise's Baptism

It's crazy awesome that even though my family is spread far and wide we've been able to come together and support each other through important events.  Alise decided to patiently wait to baptized until a large part of the family could be there.  It was wonderful.   
Newell cousins singing.  

Cute Kiddos

The Baptize Girl and G. 
Alise asked the boys to share their testimonies and G's was short and sweet.  "I know in my heart and mind that Jesus lives and loves me."  Matts was a little more verbose.  He used all his speaking skills, making excellent use of the pause, the hand gesture and the personal anecdote.  It was priceless.  

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

Since Cath was already hopping the pond to visit my parents in Sweden we concocted a plan to get together for some good old fashioned bonding time.

Miss Madi fulfilled her 1st lifetime ambition and future career training by going to see Phantom.   All the other kiddos tolerated it, but for Madi it was enthralling.  (Matts reported that she thought EVERY part was the BEST part :)

Miss Iz at the show.  She enjoyed some quality back tickles once things got a little slow

The sophisticated big kids.

Our concierge for the week.  Reed got great tickets and arranged a fantastic night.  

Kensington Palace.  Madi imagined the life of a Princess while Izzy joined the boys in a game of  ching-ching.  Little C was battling a nasty virus and spent a lot of quality time in the stroller.
Some things never get old.

The Hooligans trying to escape the Tower.
On their best behavior.

Cath and I went out for a night on the town which meant on thing; DANCE PARTY!

G and Miss Iz at the Science museum.  G is working on his duck face.
I think he perfected it.

We also hit up the V&A.  It was our first time there and we LOVED it!

Madi fulfills her 2nd lifetime ambition and career with a visit to the Roald Dahl House.

Iz was wonderful with "Baby Christian"

Hijinks in the Tube

There was some serious tromping on our path through Great Missden.  



By the end of the trip Iz was missing Scott pretty badly, luckily Uncle Reed was more than happy to fill in for some quality time.  
All in all it was a fantastic, crazy trip.  The kiddos had a great time and it was definitely an example of the more the merrier.  Especially crazy was the fact that we reenacted my Mom's life, schlepping 5 kiddos around Europe.  It was exhausting and  exhilarating and completely worth it.