July 22, 2017

London Marathon Recap

Tomorrow marks three months since I ran the London Marathon and I'm just now getting around to writing this - yikes! 

I ran for the charity Tommy's which funds research into stillbirth as well as provides services to families who lose a baby. Originally I was on a wait list to run with them, but was so happy when a slot opened up. I felt a little guilty about soliciting for donations since I've hit up the same generous pool of family and friends a few times, but as always, the people who made donations made me so grateful and humbled and just really proud that I could do something for Cale. Because of them Tommy's received almost £2,500!

The Marathon itself was incredible. There were literally spectators and supporters lining the streets the ENTIRE route. And they were at least three deep on either side. I was able to see Miles, his mom, and Finn around the halfway point (Mary was with Grandpa and I missed them, unfortunately). I wasn't racing this marathon - it was all about the experience and I'm so glad I didn't have a time pressure because the environment was just crazy and worth soaking up and not being stressed over my pace. 

Tommy's had two cheer stations along the course which was nice - to know that you would pass by a group that would be specifically cheering for you. I had put my name on my top and was glad I did, it definitely gives you a boost when you hear someone call your name and give you some encouragement. I saw several other Tommy's runners along the course which was nice too. I didn't expect it to be as emotional at times as it was. Which, in hindsight is silly, I'm a pretty emotional runner as is and this time I was running because of Cale. I guess what surprised me was just the ache I felt - it's like while I was grateful to get to run because of him and raise some money for a good cause, I also just really missed him. I kept thinking how I wished he was with Miles and I'd get to see his little face along the way and what a nice boost that would be for me. I really just felt this overwhelming sense of how much his presence was missed.

I didn't see any royalty though later learned they were out spectating around the mile seven mark and they handed up medals - in fact Princess Kate handed out a medal to a guy I remember running next to AT THE VERY END. He went in a different line (there were several at the finish) and I had stopped to take a picture of the finish line before crossing. I missed my chance to become BFFs with Kate - damn!

Nonetheless the race was amazing. I'm so, so grateful for the chance to have experienced it.


July 12, 2017

Roman Baths

After the Ireland and Scotland visits, we took a day trip out to Bath in Somerset, England to tour the Roman Baths and walk around the city that I'm now anxious to get back to.  It also makes me want to re-read a lot of Jane Austen novels because of her (and her novels) connection to Bath. A lot of the tours we have gone on have the audio guides and thankfully have versions for kids. Finn enjoys following along, no telling how much he's actually absorbing, but he sure plays the part well.


July 6, 2017

Trip Recap: Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland

I still have a few more posts to do on our April travels with Miles' parents, and hope to be caught up on all blog posts my the end of this month.

After our time in Northern Ireland we took the ferry to Scotland stopping in Glasgow for just one night. I'm sure there's a lot more to the city than we saw during our brief time there, but we also felt like one night was a good enough time to spend there as it was Edinburgh we were far more enchanted with. While in Glasgow we went to the Glasgow Cathedral which was really incredible. It reminded me so much of what I picture the Cathedral in Pillars of the Earth to be like. 

We also very briefly walked around the downtown area after a nice dinner stopping in front of Glasgow City Chambers for a couple of photos.

The following day we went to a museum in Glasgow that was all things planes, trains, and automobiles. Museums in the UK are free which has been such a perk to living here! Also, random AstroTurf giant chair at entrance:

I thought we were in Edinburgh for two nights, but looking back through pictures I realized it was only one! We managed to squeeze a lot in, but also knew we'd be back the following month for the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. We did another city bus tour which is a great way to see a lot in a little amount of time and take a break from all the walking. We hoped off the bus to check out the Edinburgh Castle which is the most massive and impressive castle we have been to yet. Pictures don't really do it justice because of how hard it is to capture each part of the castle, but it was really neat exploring and we easily could have spent more time there.

Castles are exhausting  

After Scotland we drove home. It's about a six hour drive so we stopped in Carlisle, England for lunch and a quick walk outside the Carlisle castle.

We had two nights back home in Oxford with a day trip to Bath (next post) before we headed in to London for the Marathon. 


July 4, 2017

Declaring Independence from Donald Trump?

Ok so let me preface this all with the fact that I know we are so lucky for the opportunity to live overseas for two years and for the most part I really do love it and the experience and traveling it has enabled our family to do, yadda, yadda, yadda. BUT, today I was just sorta in a mood and missed "home" and felt nostalgic and a little sad.

It started when I went to Finn's class assembly today and one my way out another mom commented on how nice it was that I could bring Mary. Only it was said in a way that I genuinely don't know if she was just being nice or if it was sorta a passive aggressive dig at the fact that I DID bring Mary (who was the only sibling in attendance, but very well behaved). Anyway, not really knowing how to take that I continued on and was about to leave when a lady from the from office stopped me to ask me about Mary's enrollment and give me a hard time for not attending a meet the teacher night I wasn't even aware of! I felt bad for not knowing about it (though got no email or notification of it), but was also annoyed at how short she was with me. The truth is that in general the faculty at Finn's school hasn't been very friendly/warm. It's definitely NOTHING like the kindess and love that was shown at Finn's preschool in Savannah. When Finn was still adjusting to school here I stressed if I made the wrong decision in which school to send him to, and today that worry resurfaced. But Finn IS mostly happy at school and doing really well, so I have to remind myself of that. Unfortunately, I totally let it put me in a bad mood and found it fitting that I would be annoyed with Brits on the 4th of July.

That combined with the fact that Miles is away right now for an internship and this holiday, which is my favorite, isn't celebrated here (obviously) - heck, Finn is still in school! It just didn't feel like the special, happy, day I'm used to. Aside from my deployment, this is the only time I haven't been stateside for the 4th! Anyway, it all resulted in my throwing myself a little pity party.

Thankfully, another military family was sweet and invited me over to their get together and I knew it would be good for the kids and I to go instead of me putting them to bed and feeling sorry for myself. Plus, they had sparklers and s'mores, so it ended up being a really nice night for which I'm grateful my rotten mood didn't spoil the whole day!

One funny aside - as I was talking about the 4th with the kids, I said "Do you know who America declared its independence from?" to which Finn replied "Donald Trump?" (bahahah). After I stopped laughing I said, "No, from England" and his eyes got really big and he said, "THIS country!?" and then we talked about how THAT went down because it totally shocked him!

I hope that those reading this had a happy, less woe-is-me, 4th of July . . . wherever you might be.


June 28, 2017

Cale's 7th Birthday

My nephew Wolf was born last week. He's perfect, beautiful, and healthy and my sister is exhausted and emotional and absolutely on Cloud Nine with her sweet baby. It genuinely is wonderful to see (and I got to be there in Arizona for his arrival!), but of course it brings heavy emotions closer to the surface. My parents have three grandsons and two granddaughters and the three boys were all born in June which is special. When asked how many grandchildren he had, my ears couldn't help but eavesdrop as my dad replied, "five, but four living." I was so grateful for that reply and that acknowledgement of Cale.

What Wolf's arrival reminded me of was not only how damn special and amazing a newborns (SAFE) arrival is, but just how sad I am that Cale did not have that experience. Of course I'm sad for all our family has missed out over these last seven years, but I was reminded that his birth was not a celebration. It was grief and heartbreak and darkness. And that's just so unfair. Because he was and is none of those things. He was excitement and hope and love and he is beauty and gratitude and LOVE. 

Seven years seems so big, but I find myself thinking that every year. Early on I used to think how it was my baby who I was missing. I wanted my baby back. But lately I've been searching for what my seven year old would be like and it seems he's a familiar stranger to me. I've always said I miss who he was and miss who he should have been, but what's hard is missing what you don't even know. Who you don't even know. Tonight at dinner Finn asked why Cale had to die and after telling him that I just don't know and I wish he didn't, he simply stated, "but he should be here with us." Yes, sweetie. He should. 

Happy seven to you, Cale. Wish you were here with us. Always.


June 13, 2017

Finn Turns Six

He endured a lot of changes this year - leaving behind a sweet group of little friends and a world that was familiar for a new house, new school, new country. If we were still living in the states he would have just finished up preschool and been off to kindergarten this fall, being "old" for his grade though undoubtedly still one of the smallest. Instead Finn is in Year 1 (kindergarten) here in England where he most definitely is one of the smallest in his class. School doesn't end until late July as the terms here make school a bit more year round though he will get six weeks off for the summer and we get to enjoy two week breaks in between each term. Living here will probably afford him the only opportunity to have his birthday celebrated while in school. He's adjusted well to his new school, though it took a little bit of time. But overall he's a resilient and adventure seeking little expat who now speaks with a slight accent on some words and phrases. 

He loves sports - he's currently enrolled in football (soccer) and goes weekly to his Ninja Skills class at Miles' gym (a hybrid of kids' crossfit and gymnastics). He asked for a basketball for his birthday and recently completed his first timed race and eager to do more. 

He's the self proclaimed "boss of pancakes" and eats a really impressive amount, especially given his size! He still doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, would pass on a donut if it has frosting on it (what!?), but at least requested an apple pie for his birthday (over cake which he doesn't really care for).

He can be thoughtful and sweet and infuriating and a really terrible listener. His imagination impresses us with his Lego creations and his new found enjoyment of Harry Potter makes my nerdy heart so happy.

He thinks Miles no longer has a job (fair enough) and that I should get a job at his school because some moms work there. Right now he says he wants to be in the Navy, though he gets a little motion sickness on boats, so perhaps he'll be a pilot as he is fascinated by different types of aircraft.

He is inquisitive and smart and asks unending amounts of questions. He saves his money to buy Legos and is eager to help with chores when he knows there may be a small reward involved. He can't find his shoes to save his life, but knows an impressive amount of Star Wars Trivia.

He's our rainbow, our delight, our headache, and now our six year old. Happy Birthday, Mr. Finn. We love you so much.

Finn Hidalgo: Mall Cop

Finn content with Apple Pie. Mary not content with her inability to reach the other desserts.

June 10, 2017

Trip Recap: Ireland & Northern Ireland

After traveling to Wales we took a ferry to Ireland. The ferry was a few hours, and it enabled us to bring our car. It was really great though - they had rooms for kids to play, movie rooms, game rooms, several areas to purchase food, and lots of different areas to sit and relax. When we arrived in Ireland we spent two nights in Dublin and honestly we would have been fine with just spending one night there. It's not that there's not much to do there - there certainly are ways to fill your time, but Dublin is definitely more of a college city and not so much a bring your small kids and walk around city. We did a tour of Christ Church Cathedral, the Guinness Storehouse, and quickly walked around the Dublin Castle. We wished we would have known, but Ed Sheeran had a concert in Dublin during the time we were there and with the grandparents traveling with us, we could have had free babysitters! We also got to meet up with a friend of Miles who is stationed just outside of Dublin right now - small world!

The Dublin Castle is now used for government offices

After Dublin we drove to the west coast of Ireland and saw Cliffs of Moher (so beautiful!) and the Bunratty Castle (big hit for the kids).

Poor little Hidalgo kids - such a rough life.

From Ireland we drove to Northern Ireland and stayed in Belfast for two nights. We did a bus tour of the city and a visit to the Titanic Museum which is located right where the Titanic was built. The middle schooler in me was pumped! We also got to walk on and tour the SS Nomadic - a ship that was used in both World Wars and brought passengers (the unsinkable Molly Brown) on to the Titanic. We had a really nice time while in Belfast (we were there for Easter) and it was nice to be back in Northern Ireland as I visited the country once before after graduating high school. We'd love to go back and make it out to the Giant's Causeway and some of the more scenic parts of the country we just didn't have time to squeeze in on this trip.

Next stop: Scotland!