At the end of March my parents came for a visit. Oh, it was glorious. On the day they were coming I woke up sighing a huge sigh of relief. I felt like I would just be able to breath with them around, let go of all the anxiety that had been building up and relax. Bask in their love, show them the beauty of my life, share who my children are right now with them. It was going to be bliss.
But, true to Shumway form, as soon as I pulled up to Heathrow – to the wrong terminal – my car died. The battery seemed totally dead. I tensed up a bit, said a little prayer, asked a cabby where the right terminal was (horrified for a second that I might be at the wrong airport) and then tried starting it again. It started and I just chalked it up with all the other weird car stuff that has happened to us and drove to their terminal. There is no place to park and wait at Heathrow so I parked in short term parking, only to find that after I had turned off the car engine I was not exactly in my parking place (it’s so hard for me to gauge things on this new car with the steering on the other side). I was worried about turning the car back on, in fear that it only had one more start left in it and it needed to get us home so I put the car into neutral and had the kids help me push it two feet into the parking space. It was quite a moment, one I’m sure my kids won’t forget (I remember having to push my dad in his little convertible as a kid, and getting to sit in the drivers seat and pull the brake….it as awesome).
It felt good to find my parents and give them a huge – I made it! – hug.
On a prayer, the car started right up and we made our way back towards our house. Just after getting on the m25 (the huge London beltway where we’ve already broken down a few times) the car made some weird beeping noises and started totally loosing power. It was FREAKY. We were going fast and it was lurching and all the indicator lights were going on and off and we had a car full of beautiful children. We were lucky to safety get off the freeway and slowly creep the car to a gas station. We called our breakdown assistance(for the 5th time? so glad I signed up for that option!). I was so happy my parents were with me, but so sad that we had to spend our precious time together having this kind of adventure. They were all optimism….so happy that they got to experience first hand one of our British Adventures.
We ate at an awesome Indian food place while we waited – the Cinnamon Lounge.
To make a long story short the tow guy came, found that the alternator was clearly bad and got us all (including the car) loaded into his big tow truck. The kids were absolutely delighted by this at first, but got a little annoyed and restless as we drove for way too long in traffic to drop our car back at the used car dealers and pick up our trusty little loaner car (for the third time). My parents, of course, were uber helpful and really good sports…..though they were advising me the whole way to GET RID OF that CAR!
Here are the kids in the tow truck…..We made it home late, too late to show off our cute neighborhood, too late to play in the cricket pitch or do all the things that we had planned. But, as Hazel had reminded me throughout the day, we had a real adventure.
I would like to say that was the only Hazel defined adventure we had while they were with us, but we also had a trip to the ER for a weird swollen lymph node on Jeff’s neck and a night of Jeff throwing up his antibiotics. And Peter was pretty much totally stuffed up and out of it while they were here. But, true to my parents form, they made the most of it. Helped out wherever they could, in amazing ways, loved us all and somehow, despite all the chaos going on, made us feel some relief. I was a little sad because I was so excited to just be with them and to show them all the richness of our life here….but things didn’t quite work out that way. I guess they saw a more authentic slice of our life!
While they were here we went to Cambridge and Leeds Castle (separate post on those to come because they were beautiful and I have a lot of pictures), went into London, met up with my uncle, saw a show etc, etc. Here are some pictures:
We went to the Tate Modern (which is perhaps one of my favorite places in London) and then on a boat down the Thames to the Tate Britain. My Aunt and Uncle who just happened to be in London for a conference the same weekend as my parents came with us. The first time we went to the Tate they gave us these awesome game cards with ideas of fun games you can play with your group while viewing the art. We played a few of them. Above is my dad striking a pose, we were all to guess which piece of art he was trying to portray. Below my kids are doing the same:
My dad was excited to show Hazel the Pre Raphaelite paintings at the Tate Britain. He says that she reminds him of Pre Raphaelite beauty. I can see that.By the end of the day Charlie was absolutely in love with Uncle Chris. He and Hedy are so so great.
Jeff and I got to go to dinner and to see Signing In The Rain with them that night. They have so many interesting things to say and are really some of the kindest people you will ever ever meet. We spent lots of time talking and eating good food and my parents played and played with the kids.
The weather was amazing while they were here so we spent some time in Epping Forrest. Peter, though he could barely breath, took some of his first steps with Grammie and Grandfather. He was super duper proud of himself. We made a quick stop at Queen Elizabeth’s hunting lodge on the way back to the airport. And we made it all the way around the M25 without a breakdown.It was sad to say goodbye….but nice to know it was only for a little bit. We will get to see my mom three times while here and my dad twice. Maybe next time things wont be quite so crazy. But, then again, it’s pretty likely that they will.