Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

To celebrate the New Year we gathered with some friends from our ward/church congregation for a dry Christmas.  Here in Scotland alcohol is a a major part of most celebrations, and we knew that our non drinking friends would still want to ring in the new Year with some fun, so we had a party! Ham, Breakfast casserole, fresh rolls, veg platter, fruit, cheese tray, carrot cake, lemon loaf, yucky fizzy drink, and some random games.  Most of the crowd stuck it out until midnight, where we pulled the string on the poppers and hugged and cheered.  Time to make some goals...2013, here we come!

A good looking group of Edinburgh friends, welcoming the New Year. Hello January 1st.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Whisk You a Merry Kiss-mas

That was the first present that I pulled out of the most fabulous Christmas care package sent to me all the way from my Iron Chef Bountiful pals. A whisk carefully stuffed with hershey's kisses in red, and green, and silver foil.  Delightful! Amber Gardner, you are always up to no good!  I can not express how warm and fuzzy my heart was today.  Thank you one and all for the treats, games, ninja, chocolates, soaps, onion googles (I cried just looking at them!), the AMERICAN cookies! and especially for the card signed by many of my dear friends.  I was totally shocked that the two wise men were in the package. I love those statues!  Bless you all for your Christlike love and kindness to me.   Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I'm looking at Ryan, still in shock that the 2 wise men made it across the pond. It's like a dream come true!

Delicious American cookies.  They were devoured in less than 13 seconds.

Surprise and delight at finding onion goggles in the box.

Reading my favorite Christmas card of the year.

The whole family was in on the opening action.

Tenderly holding our newest family member, Alastair the ninja.  All the men here are named Alastair.

Calvin made this Viking hat for Owen tonight, as witnessed by the sign he also made that says "I made it" with an arrow pointing to the hat.  Those boys...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Calvin Rider Holman Smith

Calvin is turning 11! His birthday is tomorrow, and we try not to party hard on the sabbath, so his party was tonight.  Ryan took Calvin and 4 of his friends out bowling and to dinner, and then they headed back to the house for chocolate cupcakes and ice cream. Calvin is crazy smart, creative, sensitive, honest, fiercely loyal, and I am so grateful that I have been blessed to share the last 11 years with him.  Makes me terribly sad to think of how quickly the time has flown by. Yeah Calvin!!!!!

Alex, Jamie, Ellis, and John here to celebrate Calvin's 11th birthday.  A good group of guys.

Hanging out at the bowling ally.  Apparently, Calvin did a mighty fine job bowling.  He has always been athletic.

The front of a crazy funny card Calvin got.

The inside of that same funny card.  I really like edam cheese, and want to purchase this card in bulk.

Calvin opening up his gifts after his party (that's how they do it here.) I just like to see that handsome boy smile.  Calvin rocks!

Preston England Temple

The perfect conclusion to our London holiday was spent last night in Preston, England at the Preston Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Preston is 3+ hours away from Edinburgh, so we were glad to take an alternate route home to visit what is now our closest temple (which is quite a change considering that the temple in Bountiful, UT is a 5 min drive, and we don't even encounter a traffic light.)  There were just three patrons in the last endowment session of the night, so it's apparent that the Friday night between Christmas and New Years probably has many people spending time with family and loved ones.  

Ryan in front of the temple hotel.  Reservations are preferred, but they got is right in. Yippee!

Preston in Preston.

A picture of the room. 4 lovely rooms, a fold out if needed.  We got two rooms.

The bathroom.  Calvin just thought it was the coolest thing in the world to stay at a Mormon Hotel.

Complete with Microwave, fridge, toaster and hot water heater.

Crazy Smiths walking down the hall...quietly of course because we are in a hotel...

The courtyard in front of the temple accommodations.  Three separate buildings make up the hotel.

A lovely English garden sits between the temple and the temple hotel.  Yes, Owen still has his blanket, or "Woobie."

Ryan, Preston, Calvin, Simon, Annie and Owen Smith in front of the Preston England Temple.

In this picture you can see the angel Moroni on top.

Proof that I was there.

To be cool and learn more about Mormon temples check out the link below:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Platform 9 3/4

 Today was Calvin's last Thursday of being 10 (he turns 11 on Dec. 30th) and it was also our last day of going into London before we drive home to Edinburgh tomorrow.  Lots of fun was had at King's Cross Station at Platform 9 3/4 (our nod to Harry Potter fans.) We then headed to the Natural History Museum, lunch at the "Kwality" Indian restaurant, then off to the V & M Museum to check out all the naked statues and British Ball Gowns throughout history, it was fabulous.  Then as we were headed to the National Science Museum, we spotted an LDS meeting house/visitors center literally across the street.  We went in and chatted with some sister missionaries and caught some videos, so we don't need to go to church on Sunday! Actually, I'm giving the lesson on Sunday, so I guess we're stuck.  The science museum was very cool, but as it was towards the end of our day, we were ready to go about 10 minutes before we got inside.  The subway ride home was so packed it reminded me of why I love Utah and our wide open spaces, room to make mistakes (Raise your hands Dixie Chicks fans!)

 King's Cross Station.

Simon rushing to catch the Hogwarts Express! 

If you've got to go then you've got to pay, 30p per P or Pooh.

The shot after we spent money on sticks, also known as magic wands. Not my allowance, so whatev.

Waiting to be admitted to the Natural History Museum.

The escalator took us right through this Metal Orb Planet thing...very impressive...way cooler than the picture looks or my description of it.

Bob, Bon, Bon, Bon, Bon...Who needs the Quicky Mart?

My men in front of designer suits.

Annie and me in front of some smashing dresses.

How cool to find a Mormon meetinghouse right across the street from one of the busiest tourist locations in the entire city of London! Hyde Park Chapel on Expedition road, right across from the National Science Museum.

You bet we went inside to get a picture of us in the chapel!

The kids in front of the Christus, just outside the chapel.  Yes, Mormons do believe in Christ. Merry Christmas to all.

Standing on a glass bridge in the middle of the Science Museum atrium.  Didn't look structurally sound, but Ryan assured me that it was.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day on Strike

Apparently, several subway drivers decided it was lame to work on Boxing Day, so they went on strike.  We didn't know about this until we were halfway to our intended station and we were kicked off the rail with an announcement over the speaker that the trains are done running in this direction because of a strike.  After checking with a taxi driver, who would have charged us 50 pounds just to get to our destination, we opted for the public bus system, which luckily honored our subway pass. I love free!  The big to-do on the agenda for the day was to visit London's largest toy store, Hamleys.  After dining out for lunch (an unintentional vegetarian pay by weigh restaurant) we played for about 2 hours in the 5 story toy store.  Back on the bus, to connect with the part of the subway that was operating, and then home for some miserable frozen pizza, but the salad had avocado, so we were all just fine.  

Not happy to be taking the bus instead of having the subway take us straight to our destination.

Riding on the bus.

Tidbits (a vegetarian restaurant, although it never stated that anywhere.) It was a buffet where you weigh your plate after filling it and pay by ounce.  Just FYI, I hate restaurants like these. I want to know exactly what I'm getting and precisely what it will cost. Like with a menu... The food was tasty, though.

Annie and Owen drawing in the restaurant kids areas.  Owen selected peas, rice , roll and some fruit, but wouldn't touch the peas or roll. 

Eating curry spinach, jalepeno poppers, asian noodles, vegetarian lasagna, salad.  It was good, but Where's the Beef!?

A Rolls Royce that Ryan spotted on the street.  (Shhhhh, I'm getting him one for his birthday next month!)

Calvin checking out some car toy display.

They had employees all over the store doing product demos.  This man was showing off some magic trick set, and Simon bought one of the tricks.

Preston finally got himself a magic wand, he opted for the Dumbledore.  
Tonight he tried to get the dishes to do themselves, but it must be faulty because he ended the night with dish pan hands. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas Day in London

Morning "selection box".  This tradition in Britain is a chocolate variety pack of sweets.
Annie decorating the chalk board T-shirt that her Grandma Linda gave her.
Preston and I sipping cocoa on the River Thames boat tour.

Interior shot of the boat.

Posing like Winston Churchill
Westminster Abbey
London Bridge is not falling down

Big Ben at Parliament.  Just like in Peter Pan.
Simon and Annie playing board games and mind games

Peppermint pig smashed to bits before the close of the night.  Proof we officially completed Christmas Day.