Sunday, March 3, 2019

Pa Pa Romania!

Although we traveled to 20+ countries during our 6 months in Europe, Romania was our home base and it made a great home for our little family for those 6 months.  We have so many wonderful memories of our little apartment in Bucharest as well as our favorite places around the city.  But the people we met are the ones that made our memories there priceless!

Cismigiu Park by Parliament Building.  An amazing part of the history of the church in Romania and a beautiful park! Had great street Gyro's nearby!

The view of the city and our apartment at sunset on a Ferris Wheel ride!

Since Jenn's sister and brother in law served missions in Romania, we were sure to have the missionaries over for dinner as often as possible.  Since Michael often had to work late to accommodate US hours, this meant it was often Jenn, the sister missionaries and the kids.  It was fun to have tacos most of those nights to scratch that missing Mexican Food itch and to be able to speak English with the sweet sisters.  We loved having them in our home and loved sending their photos to their families too.  So many incredible missionaries!

We also loved saying hi to dad at work.  Haha!  His building/desk was literally right across from the apartment.

We made good friends with the sweet workers at the grocery shop at the bottom of our apartment complex.  Laila and Yuliana were the best of friends.  She would say "Laila! Buna!" and Laila would reply "Buna!" That was about the extent of their ability to speak to each other but their friendship was priceless!

This little guy grew so much while we were away!  He learned to walk in this apartment and always liked being treated like a big boy- even if the water bottle was bigger than he!

We made so many friends and loved every outing with them!

Date nights were always appreciated too!

Romania had so many fun festivals and street fairs.  This one was a yummy one!  Food truck festival! We had fun trying everything with the Carnells and Whalens!

Before we left we had a great dinner out with the Carnell's one last time.

Cannot believe how much our kids have grown since then!

We also enjoyed one last play date with the Whalens and Carnells at the luxurious indoor water park!

One of our most cherished memories was being part of the English "Twig."  Since it was too small to be considered a branch, we were an English Twig that would meet and have church together at the mission home.  Those were some special Sundays!

It's hard to put into words the influence Romania has had on our lives.  Our time was short there but completely packed with incredible opportunities, tough learning moments, and wonderful people.  We would definitely do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

London Baby!

After Scotland, we drove down to London for a few short days so that all my dreams could come true!  London is one of my all-time favorite cities because of the culture, the literature, the movies.  I just had so much I wanted to do!  Michael had been to London before and we both feel like it's a location that we will most likely visit again so we were ok with our short time there.  But we didn't let us stop us from packing it in!  :)
Our first night in the London, we called the missionaries and asked for Young Women in the local ward that would be willing to babysit for us. It was the best move ever!  We picked her and some pizza up and she stayed at the hotel with our kids while we took the train into the city to see Wicked for Michael's first time!  Such a fun date!

Saturday we set out with a big, long checklist and had so much fun checking off the boxes!  We started the day with the iconic Big Ben and double-decker buses and telephone booths and Westminster Abbey!
Harrison flying off to Neverland!

All the amazing things in one photo! I also have a few when a random guy came and stood right in front of me for no real reason and blocked everything. 

Next up was Notting Hill and Portobello Road.
Pretending this is the blue door in the movie "Notting Hill."

Laila loves putting money in cases of street musicians.  Portobello road was alive with the market, street performers, and yummy food carts.

We loved everything about it!

The last part of the afternoon included stopping at Diana Memorial Playground that has a Peter Pan theme.  This was so fun and special.  You are only allowed to enter if you have young children so there's one more reason to travel with your kids!  They get you into the coolest parks. ;) 

It started raining that afternoon, but that didn't stop us from enjoying walks through Kensington Gardens to get to one of my all-time top places I wanted to visit: The Peter Pan statue.  

Worth it!

We enjoyed some noodles that evening at Wagamama's.  The last time I had eaten there was when I was in New Zealand so that brought back warm memories and warmed our bellies too!

The next morning we got back on the tube and rode back into the city for church.

Her Scottish kilt!  Love her and the kilt!
We love finding church buildings during our travels.  It's always so wonderful to be with fellow saints- no matter our differences- all coming together to be more like our Savior.  London was no exception and with their location, I'm sure they see many visitors all the time!

The rest of the day we toured the Tower of London, oogled the crown jewels, enjoyed the sites, visited St Paul's Cathedral to feed the birds but they were probably hiding from the rain.

Laila making friends everywhere she goes.

A little windy on the bridge!

Then we needed to get our rental car back to Scotland for our last flight back to Romania.  Michael took a detour and surprised me with a drive-through of the beautiful town of Stratford-Upon-Avon!  Shakespeare's birthplace.  So charming and the perfect end to such a fairy tale trip!  I cannot wait to go back!

The Scottish Life

A few days after we got back to Bucharest from Barcelona and Morocco,  Michael had a few last business trips before we finished our time in Europe.  Let me tell you, they did not disappoint! We enjoyed the weekend together in the Scottish Highlands.  We had a rental car and after we landed in Glasgow, we took off for the highlands.  So green!  So amazing!
I have loved Monarch of the Glen for so long, it was fun to explore. Michael had visited Scotland the year before and was so excited to go with all of us.  We drove up to the Isle of Skye.  We stopped at a few places along the way to get out and explore.  Thankfully, the weather was beautiful the entire trip.  Very little rain.  Nice, cool, mid 70s temperatures.  Which was very much appreciated as the rest of Europe was pretty warm and steamy- including Romania.
We thought it would be so picturesque and charming to hike around the Fairy Pools.  The name itself invokes all the magical, fanciful feelings, right?  It was quite a ways off of the beaten path and driving there was a little scary sometimes on the narrow roads and driving on the opposite side.  Thankfully, we made it safely and got us and the kids ready to go on this picturesque walk.  We noticed a few people coming up that had netted hats and beekeeper type outfits on as they were returning to the parking lot- which made us think they were odd but we soon discovered the reason for their outfits! There were swarms and swarms of "Midges" which are like gnats that bite.  That helped us pick up our pace quite a bit!  Anytime we stopped, the swarms would just cover us and bite and buzz in our ears.  It was a bit of a disaster but our pictures look great!  haha!  Poor Laila and Harrison had little red marks all over.  (We all did but the kids made it sadder.) Thankfully, they were gone the next day.
This picture shows what I mean.  So beautiful and happy looking, right?  We are actually running to keep the Midges off of us. haha!

We thought the Isle of Skye was a tourist destination town but we soon found it has a really small population and not that many businesses or restaurants or anything.  Ultimately, this was not a bad thing.  It just caught us off guard around lunch time a few times.  ;)  We went on drives around the countryside and stopped at some gorgeous spots!
Making wishes to always remember our adventures!

Places like this leave zero doubt in mind that God is real!

Well played, bagpipe player!  It was a great concert venue!

She's the best! The Scottish Highland Cows are legit too.

The dreamy Eilean Donan Castle

Legitimately the best strawberries we have EVER had in Loch Ness.  We ate two whole things and still dream of the amazing, sweet flavor!  The fish n chips were also extraordinary but the strawberries stole the show!

Speaking of Nessy, look who we spotted when we were on a boat cruise around the Loch Ness!
These stickers on the windows didn't trick our kids.  ;)
But it was still a beautiful ride.

Michael had some meeting in Edinburgh so the kids and I enjoyed touring the city for a few hours. We enjoyed the Ferris Wheel ride, shopping for some kilts, and of course, ice cream!

Back in Glasgow, we hiked up to the Necropolis and enjoyed the monuments and the view.
I absolutely love this picture Michael snapped and am so grateful we can remember it.  We went into this shop to get some snacks for the kids and Laila noticed this man with his dog outside and she thought they might be hungry so she picked out a sandwich and some food for them.  She was nervous to give it to them but she did it!  My mom heart could burst from my daughter being able to recognize a need and already being willing to help even in a small way!