Tuesday, January 24, 2012

and, we’re back! london shumways: two weeks in

IMG_7395We are here!  All six of us, in the heart of London. 

How do I even start blogging about this experience!  So much has happened already that I’ve been paralyzed (and frankly way too busy)trying to figure out how to capture it all.

I’m still not sure how it all happened, but, by the grace of God, somehow we’re here, we’re safe (mostly), we’re happy (mostly) and we’re ready (mostly) for our big family adventure ahead of us now that we have a little of it under our belts.

We’ve been on a ridiculously crazy ride the past two weeks. Jeff’s visa didn’t end up showing up on time, so the kids and I started off this adventure alone.  Through the help of some angels placed in our path along the way we made it.  The kids were mostly awesome on the plane which was lucky since they didn’t end up having little TV's on the seat and I wasn’t prepared to keep them busy for the whole ride.  But, with the help of the one movie I had on our Kindle and lots of excitement we made it without too many mean looks.  When we landed at Heathrow I asked the kids to look around and make sure that we weren’t forgetting things.  Emmeline looked around and in a panic blurted out, “MOM!  We left dad!”  Way to be observant Emmeline!

The trip through immigration and customs with 4 kids, two strollers, 4 car seats tons of luggage and one adult was not something I’d like to repeat ever.  Poor Hazel and Charlie were both pushing heavy trollies so full of stuff that they couldn’t even see.  And, even worse (maybe because it wasn’t anticipated) was once we actually got to our tiny little short term flat in London.  The kids were wired and loud, Emmeline kept hollering that we’d left dad and her toys at home, it was midnight, we didn’t have any food, peter wasn’t happy.  Getting the luggage up all the stairs, finding everything in that mess of stuff and getting everyone snug in their beds without killing them was one of my biggest mothering challenges thus far.   But, we all survived it and woke up to Daddy knocking on our door.  What a sight for sore eyes!

We hit the ground running (after sleeping till noon).  Jeff headed off, straight to a meeting and the kids and I went in search of a Double Decker bus.  We rode up top around the city, in awe of where we were, pinching ourselves to make sure it wasn’t a dream.  We ‘alighted’ at Trafalgar Square and the kids ran for the big lion statues.  They climbed and I marveled.  Here I was in the middle of a city I love with my kids.  They were seeing the world.  I was in the middle of the life I imagined!  It was one of those moments where you know you are where you are supposed to be. 

And, to spare you all the details, here’s a sum up of the first week:

We spent the first few days battling jet lag (which wasn’t bad at all, with the help of melatonin drops) and getting our bearings straight. 

We did a lot of sightseeing while Jeff did his big kick off for his case.

We saw Buckingham palace, walked along the Themes, went to the Tower of London, the national gallery, the natural history museum, shopped at Oxford circus, got Turkish delight from Harrods.

We played in Regents park and every other playground we could find. 

We rode lots of double deckers, tubes, trains, taxi’s.

We got ready for and celebrated Jeff’s birthday (his big birthday).

We avoided getting hit by double decker buses.

We learned new city and tube and bus and sidewalk and crossing rules.

I almost died looking the wrong way crossing the street while running.  Seriously, it made me cry, it was that scary.  We’re training ourselves to look right.

I detected several new grey hairs every time we got home and rode the mirrored elevator up to our flat.

We went out to check out the big flat we were going to rent in Chelmsford. 

We ate fish and chips, and hobnobs and ribina and Mr. Kipling's pies and wine gums.

We met new friends.

We spent time with dear Ames (my bff since we were 3 who lives here) and her dear children.

We thought a lot about if we should live right in London or out by Ames in a the big flat that we found.

We decided on the flat.

The flat got taken right out from under us by some college girls who were willing to sign a two year contract. 

We stressed out big time.  I got put through the ringer, trying to figure out inspiration and what to do with feelings of regret.

We suspended all sightseeing and searched and searched and searched for a different place to live that would be right for Jeff’s commute and for me and the kids.

I agonized and got sick and agonized some more about the decision, driving everyone around me batty.

We found another place to live in a charming village called Woodford Green (still in the borough of London, but drivable to Amy in Chelmsford).  I mourned the loss of the first dreamy, huge flat that would have been perfect.

I worked on moving on, forward, making this new scenario right.

And that’s where we are now.

The upshot of all of this is that we have a whole week longer to live right here in Marylebone, the center of London.  And, that is awesome, we love it here but its not sustainable with our budget or our nerves.

So, overall, we’ve been through a lot of ringers, but you know what?  Despite it all, I’m so happy we are here.  I’ve never once wished that we’d stayed put in our life in Malden.  We are growing and stretching through all this struggle in ways that I know we need.

This is pushing all of us.  Making us think and experience and feel.  I feel fully alive. 

And there is so much adventure and challenge ahead of us.  And that feels good.  We’re gaining confidence in ourselves, we’re sticking together more than ever.  I’m getting stronger, I can feel it.  Jeff is working an a really important case.

And, we’re in LONDON!  It really is a dream come true.

So, now that we’ve got a place to stay, and we’re moving in next week, I promise to keep up the blog, so stay tuned.

For now, here are the pictures. Don’t the pictures make this all look perfect?  I love pictures.  They are what we will remember, and that’s pretty comforting after all the craziness we’ve lived through. 





  1. Oh my goodness Saydi, I want to cry! Thinking of you traveling with all four kids, and four car seats! I've done three car seats and I thought we would die. You deserve a the purple heart of mommyhood. I have to think you must have had angels, physical and spiritual, attending you. So glad you are safe, and sorry you can't be closer to Aim! I'm mourning with you. It sounded perfect. But knowing you, you will realize in the end you were put in the perfect place, for a whole bundle of reasons. Can't wait to follow you on this adventure! I love you!

  2. Yay! You're alive! I can't imagine all the stress. It reminded me of our "house" that we were going to rent out here that got taken out from underneath us too! But, we learn and push through it and we end up in the place we should have been all along. I just can't imagine that happening overseas! I want to see pics of your new place... When you get settled, of course. Love the pics of your experiences and cute kiddos. We miss you all!!

  3. PHEW - glad to hear that you're sorting things out! I always think of you when I drive on the Fellsway and will look forward to the next installment. xo

  4. Hurrah for this post! I've been so anxious to hear the update. I'm glad you're getting settled and totally admire your energy to tromp around that city with four kids. You're amazing. Hugs to all...and to London!

  5. You are the mom we all aspire to be. To manage that chaos on your own, and I'm sure with more grace than you'll admit, is somewhat miraculous. I'm excited (and jealous) of your adventures and can't wait to hear more!

  6. You're AMAZING, Saydi! I can't imagine doing any of this with just one small child!!!! Best of luck to you and Jeff on this awesome adventure!

  7. in other news, you GOT BANGS! looking bangin' sayds. i wish i was with you. i love you.

  8. Thanks for the blog. Great to see the pictures and great to Skype on Saturday. Love you all. Good luck with the move.

  9. I can't believe you only have to wear sweaters! lucky you with the weather!

    I'm stressed out just reading this. I hope I can sleep... seriously... but I am glad you found a place. keep us posted. is it furnished? let's skype sometime. I think we are on the opposite side of the earth than you, so it should be really easy to work out a time. :)


  10. I don't know how you did it!? Amazing how put in some situations however, you just have to survive even if it's only barely. Congrats on making it and enjoy your new adventure. So glad you are sharing it! Give Amy a big hug and enjoy being close. What a time of life.

  11. Saydi - you are amazing!!! So glad you have Amy so close! Enjoy every chaotic moment of your grand adventure!!! Tell Amy "hi" for me!


  12. Yay! I've been waiting for this. I'm thinking of you and so impressed with your fortitude. Do you feel like the child on her new bike whose parent has just let go of the seat? "You're doing it!" So excited for you to be living a dream . . .

  13. My favorite part is seeing you and Amy together! Give her a hug from me. Good job keeping it all together, mum (aren't you so excited to be a mum?). Have fun and I'll be enjoying every entry. Also I'm totally coming to visit if I can drum up the cash, just to warn you!!

  14. I was excited about you posting big Ben on your blog. Hope you have a good time in London. love Penelope

  15. Yay Shumways!!! This is so exciting. I admire your optimism. When we moved here it was exciting, but difficult. And you did all that on your own! Amazing. I can't wait to hear more!

  16. I need some of your bravery and adventurousness...you are inspirational Saydi! What a gift to your children.

  17. Anonymous5:43 PM

    looks like you are having quite and adventure in London! I am very jealous!! We got your postcard and it is hanging up on the board in the classroom. The class misses you very, very much. I can't wait to read more about London. Your Mom is a SAINT!!! Sending lots of hugs to you. Enjoy every moment. This is an experience of a lifetime.

    ----Mrs. Langston

  18. Saydi,
    I kept thinking about you and wondering what you had decided, if you were in London, etc. and meant to call...then it just occurred to me that I could just check your blog! I'm so happy for you! It looks like such a fun adventure for your family. I'm so glad you're writing about it. It's fun to read up on your life!

  19. Saydi,
    I kept thinking about you and wondering what you had decided, if you were in London, etc. and meant to call...then it just occurred to me that I could just check your blog! I'm so happy for you! It looks like such a fun adventure for your family. I'm so glad you're writing about it. It's fun to read up on your life!



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