A Weekend in Savannah – Part 1

As I mentioned last week, two weekends ago we visited Savannah for the first time.  David had been training for months to run his second marathon with our friend Jonathan, so our two families decided to stay together to turn the marathon trip into a mini getaway!  Jonathan and Judith’s children are older than ours, so they just had their youngest son, Isaac, (who is 13) with them on this trip.  I felt a little bad for him because my boys were clamoring for his attention, but he was so patient and kind with them!  Our friends had already been to Savannah before and stayed on Tybee Island, so we did the same.  It worked out really well.  It’s an easy drive into Savannah from the island and takes 30 minutes at the most.  It is so scenic, and downtown Savannah is quaint and beautiful.  I can’t get over the TREES!  All of that moss hanging from the twisting oak branches is stunning.  As soon as we arrived in Savannah, we went to the race expo so David could pick up his running bib.

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It was the Rock n Roll Marathon, so Henry loved seeing guitars everywhere!!
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Then we met our friends for lunch and a stroll through Savannah.

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This is Paula Deen’s restaurant in Savannah.  I heard it’s standard Southern fare, but I liked the worn brick exterior!dsc_0283

The city is filled with small, pedestrian squares with seating areas and monuments in each one.  And more of those gorgeous trees!  It’s definitely a pedestrian friendly city.  I was surprised by how few traffic lights we came across, but most of the drivers showed Southern hospitality and graciously stopped for pedestrians.  (How many times can I use the word “pedestrian” in a paragraph? 🙂 )

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Henry was sweeping the ground with a tree branch.

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And sweeping all of the benches.  There must be a way I can capitalize on that in our house!

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Forsyth Park is right in the middle of Savannah and was really pretty.  It contains a fountain that is famous for being featured in the film, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”  Have you ever seen that? Do you recognize the fountain?  I’ve never seen the movie, but would like to now, if it’s set in Savannah!dsc_0304

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After our walk and time in the park, we headed to our holiday house on Tybee Island and ate a big dinner!  I participated in a lot of carb-loading, despite the fact that I wasn’t running.  I liken it to husbands gaining sympathy weight during their wife’s pregnancy.  It’s like my duty as a wife, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself!

Saturday was RACE DAY!  It was really cold in the morning!  I’m still getting used to Southern fall weather, which can be frigid in the morning and t-shirt weather in the afternoon.  The first marathon David ran was the New York City marathon, which was MUCH more crowded and stressful for spectators.  However, I went with just my sister so we were able to dash around and hop on Subways to watch David at a few different spots.  Because of the layout of the course in Savannah, plus the fact that we had three young children with us, we just cheered for the guys right around 8 1/2 miles and then at the finish line.

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They were looking great at this point!  We didn’t find out until later that David had hurt his calf somehow around three miles in and seriously thought he might not finish the race.  I am so thankful for Jonathan, who stayed with him and prayed with him, despite the face that David kept telling him to keep going without him.  They stuck together the entire race and crossed the finish line together.dsc_0396

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Our friend Shane was also running in the race and it was fun to see him and cheer him on too!

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 The kids worked on these posters to encourage our runners, but we realized that we didn’t have one for Shane!  So Isaac had the idea to add a little addendum to the poster on the left.  Can you see it?img_3806

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Shane loved it! 🙂

You may be wondering what we did with the kids for the long period of time between mile 8 and mile 26.  We strolled over to Forsyth Park, where the race was ending, and played in the playground!  On the way we stopped to see the Candler Oak tree next to the park, which is estimated to be about 300 years old.

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Henry’s trying for peace signs.  He got one and a half!

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They had live music and some other fun things set up after the race, but we just headed back to our cars, after taking a few pictures, of course!

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We took a few family group pictures (like you do when you have kids) – and I just had to put up the progression of Henry’s facial expressions.  I couldn’t stop laughing!

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Haha!  I don’t even know where that bottom expression came from!

Ok, that’s enough for today!  I’ll put up the rest of the pictures soon!

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ENGLAND: Day 5 – A Relaxing Day in Bristol

After arriving in Bristol on Saturday, we had a few days to unwind and relax a little bit, as we would not be traveling to London until Wednesday. So on Sunday we went to my sister-in-law Ruth’s house, where the boys were able to try on their wedding suits for the first time!  Charlie sped in and out of his so that he could get back to playing with his cousins, but I was able to snap a couple shots of Henry looking very handsome, if I do say so myself.  🙂  I love the poses and faces!

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The kids did what they do best and soaked up all the time playing together. We headed out to a local park for a little bit in the afternoon.  I loved playing with my youngest nephew, Peter, especially since I hadn’t seen him since he was 11 months old!  It was so great to sit and talk with Ruth and my mother-in-law too.  That was our playtime.  🙂

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In my opinion, you are never to old for a see-saw.  Or swings.  Or basically any part of the playground.  Can’t there be such a thing as a grown-up jungle gym?

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Later that afternoon, David’s grandma came over and we got to spend some time with her.  She was one of our family members that we had not seen for four years, so it was a very happy reunion.  It was so sweet to see her meet Henry for the first time.  Ruth, Andrew, and our nephews also came over and David’s mom made a delicious dinner for us all!
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I love this goofy boy!

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My mother-in-law has a reputation for being a brilliant baker and cook, and she is not only talented but loves to serve her family by making meals special (and extremely delicious!) For special occasions such as having all of her grandchildren together, she can really outdo herself.  In addition to a mouth-watering beef stew, she made this dessert below (I think called an Alaskan roll) that is ice cream and jam wrapped inside a layer of sponge cake.  What?! I know, right?

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The piece de resistance in my opinion, however, was the squidgy chocolate pudding.  Don’t lick your screen!

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I have since tried to follow the recipe, even borrowing my English friend’s old-school baking scales (thank you, Judith!!), but alas, it was not as good.  Still yummy, but definitely not the same.  This is not the first time that has happened, either!  Perhaps it is related to the ability of the individual bakers?  Next time we go back, I know I’m going to request the squidgy chocolate pudding again!!

You can see the other days from our trip here:

ENGLAND: Days 1&2 – Traveling and Barnsley

ENGLAND: Days 3&4 – From Barnsley to Bristol

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ENGLAND: Days 3&4 – From Barnsley to Bristol

I better start posting more regularly if I’m going to write about our whole trip!  I love looking through our photos and reliving each day.  To me, each represents a special moment or beautiful place that I’ve experienced.  I think that’s one reason why I am known (and teased by some) for taking SO MANY PICTURES!  I don’t care if I’m ridiculed for it – I blame it on the fact that I’m half Japanese.  🙂

Anyway, on our last full day in Barnsley, we started by splitting up.  David took Charlie to the Barnsley football (soccer) stadium so they could watch the professional team practice.  David used to play for their youth team as a teenager, and he is still an avid supporter of the Barnsley football club, so I think this was just as much fun for David as for Charlie!

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The next day we all went to the club shop and bought some official Barnsley tops for the kids which was really fun!  Their English cousins have some too so later in the trip they all wore their Barnsley kits (uniforms) and it was so cute!

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But back to Barnsley: while David and Charlie were at the football club, I took Sienna and Henry to the town centre to walk through the open market and visit a toy store in the mall.  Wow, it felt so different walking through the town!  I loved that there were stalls set up on streets that were closed to all car traffic.  However, I couldn’t believe how much cigarette smoke we were exposed to!  David and I noticed that both here and in the center of London, we encountered more people smoking than we have for a long time.  I don’t know exactly why this is, but it was not pleasant.  I still loved being in the midst of a foreign town with such a different feel to it though.  As we walked through the streets we were surrounded by buildings much older than those in a typical American town, built in a different style, and lining winding roads that were probably designed for horses and carriages rather than automobiles.   In the air around us were voices speaking in a thick, Yorkshire accent that can be a little tricky to understand even without the numerous phrases singular to that area.

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Speaking about the Yorkshire dialect reminds me of a funny incident from that morning in our hotel.  As we entered the lobby, some women working there greeted us and one saw that Henry held a little toy car in his hand.  She said she liked his car and remarked, “That car wants mekin’ bigger, that!  So me and Lynn can go for a ride in’t town!”  Henry stared up at her with a blank expression!  🙂  Even after being married to David for almost 13 years and visiting England about ten times, I still need a translation sometimes!!

After our morning in Barnsley, we drove a little outside of town to meet David’s great Aunt and Uncle for lunch.  It was so nice to see them again after four years, and they really loved getting to see how much the children have grown and to meet Henry for the first time!

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Meeting Henry was very special for Uncle Howard, because his actual first name is Henry too.  He was named after a family member, but always referred to by his middle name, Howard.  So our little Henry is carrying on an old family name.  🙂

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Sienna and Charlie were old enough this visit to appreciate some of the remarkable talents of Uncle Howard in gardening and marquetry.  He has won awards for growing orchids and has even created his own unique types.  He still does all of his own gardening in their yard and greenhouse, and both are immaculate!  In addition, he used to create beautiful pieces of artwork using the technique called marquetry, which involves fitting pieces of wood together to form a picture.  It is much more complicated and detailed than that of course.  I love admiring the pieces he has created when we go to their house, and this time the children appreciated them as well!  Here you can see one that is flanked by some of the orchids he has grown.

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This one with the birds is my favorite:

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This is Uncle Howard’s favorite piece:

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David and his siblings always loved this one as kids.  Here is the beautiful princess….

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But she looks quite different upside down!!

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After spending some time with David’s great Aunt and Uncle, we drove over to his cousin Catherine’s house, where we were able to see Catherine, her husband, and their two kids, along with David’s Aunt and Uncle.  It was so nice to catch up with them all, as we have not seen most of them for four years!  Catherine’s daughter, Charlotte, did come and stay with us three years ago, so we had seen her more recently, but as she is now 18 she has changed so much in a few short years!  Catherine’s sister Joanne and her family couldn’t make it, but we got to see them the next week in the days around his brother’s wedding!

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Henry with Catherine’s husband, Phil.  Henry has a unique camera smile at the moment!

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Beautiful Charlotte and her mum, Catherine.  I love these two girls!

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Catherine’s son, Joseph, was so sweet with Charlie.  He played football with him for nearly the entire time and gave him so much attention!

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All in all, our trip to Barnsley was fantastic!  Each night David was also able to meet some old childhood friends to catch up with, which was so special.  He didn’t take any pictures though, much to my chagrin!  On Saturday morning we drove down a few hours to David’s parents’ house in Bristol.  His sister, Ruth came by soon after with our three nephews, and there was a joyful reunion between the cousins!!  It was the first time David’s parents have had all six of their grandchildren all together!!  Ruth’s family came to visit us in 2014, so over two years had passed since we had seen them, but the kids picked right up where they left off.  Skype really is amazing for keeping in touch!

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The youngest boys in the tent, or as Peter called it, his “spaceship.”

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Our littlest nephew, Peter, is so entertaining.  He is always telling creative stories with so much enthusiasm and plays in such an imaginative way!  Right here he has taken the sprayer from a toy fire truck but I believe he was using it as something to cure hurt feet.  Hahaha!  I miss hearing his sweet little voice!  In fact, I miss all of my sweet nephews and wish I could give them a squeeze right now!

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ENGLAND: Days 1&2 – Traveling and Barnsley

DSC_1219We were fortunate enough to spend three amazing weeks visiting England this summer.  My husband, David, grew up in South Yorkshire and came to New York as a college freshman to play soccer.  We met soon after he graduated, got married, and he has made America his home.  It has always been so important to us to go back and visit, since all of his family still live there and we are very close with them.  However, between Henry being born in 2013 and our relocation from New York to North Carolina in 2014, we had not managed to make it back for FOUR YEARS!!  In that time we did have a visit from David’s brother and girlfriend-at-the-time (now wife! Yaay!), a week with his sister and her family, a visit from his cousin’s daughter, and numerous visits from my mother and father-in-law, so we did get to see some immediate family in that time period.  But we were aching to actually go back to England and see all the extended family, some friends, and the country David and I both love.  This trip also had the joyous focus of his brother Steve’s wedding, which was one of the most beautiful weddings we have ever been to.  But more on that later!  Our trip began with a LOOOONG drive from NC to NY, since our flight was leaving out of New York.  There is a reasonable explanation for why we flew from NY instead of close by, but it is long so I will just say it saved a ton of money this time!  The drive went really well, partly because we were all so excited.  We saw an amazing sunrise on our journey!

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We stayed the night at my parent’s house, and woke up early the next morning to drive to the airport.  Then I did something I have never done before in my life.

I LOCKED THE KEYS IN THE CAR.

Actually, I like to think it was a joint effort between me and David.  Long story short, we called the police and the responding officer fruitlessly attempted to unlock the car.  He actually said, “This is the first car that beat me.”  Guys, we ended up BREAKING INTO OUR OWN CAR and rushing to the airport, praying the entire way.  God answered our prayers and allowed us to reach our gate with time to spare!  He is so good!  I’m still so thankful my carelessness didn’t make us miss our flight.

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David’s brother and fiance picked us up at the airport Wednesday evening, and we stayed the night at their house.  The next morning we piled into our rental car and drove about four hours north to Barnsley, the town that David grew up in.  I am so glad that David is the one who drives in England!  For one thing, the steering wheel is on the right.  For another, everyone drives on the left side of the road.  In addition, nearly all the cars are manual, which I have basically zero experience with, and even if I did, the stick is on the left, not the right!  Finally, there are roundabouts EVERYWHERE, which are intimidating to us Americans who rarely encounter them.  Bottom line: I am very thankful to my husband for doing all of the driving!

After arriving in Barnsley, we immediately headed to a “chippie,” or fish and chip shop.  There are many of these places in England that sell little more than fish, chips, and mushy peas!  We were going to take our food and eat in the local park, but on the way we drove past the church David grew up in, and he saw a woman he knew that used to babysit for him!  She helps run a cafe in the church now and invited us to sit and eat in there.  It was so nice for David to catch up with her, and he ended up seeing a few other people he knew who still work in the church.  One of them took us on a little tour of the school there that David went to as a young child, which was a fun and unexpected walk down memory lane.  I took a picture of the church door which I thought was cool, since it mentions the fact that an influential missionary to China, James Hudson Taylor, was born in Barnsley.

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After our satisfying lunch and walk through the church, we headed over to a friend’s house.  David met this friend Andrew because they were both recruited to play soccer at a college in New York together.  They quickly realized that they lived only minutes away from each other in England, but had never met before!  Andrew moved back to England after graduating, but they stay in touch and we have visited him and his family each time we return to England.  Him and his wife have two sweet girls and all of the kids get along really well.  We went for a walk near their house along some beautiful country lanes and then stayed for dinner.

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I love how lush and green it is in England.  I guess it’s related to the frequent rain and moderate summer temperatures (80 degrees would be a VERY warm day for England).  It was such a welcome change from our 90+ sticky, humid summer!

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Kids mark the passage of time like nothing else.  Look at how much has changed since our last visit in 2012 –

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Look at those baby faces!  Henry was still in my tummy.  🙂  It was so nice to start our time in Barnsley with good food and friends!

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