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Saturday, September 22, 2012

July Fun

July was yet another fun filled month. We were caught up in Olympics fever, the school year came to an end, Mandy celebrated her birthday with her friends here and we readied ourselves for our summer trip home. Here are a few pictures, highlighting some of the fun!!

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
I love going to Hampton Court! The grounds are 
beautiful even on the dreariest of London days.

Close up of a few flowers

This was a ornamental flower made of glass!

These were made completely of flowers.

Ryan's end of the year class field trip to Kew Gardens!!! 
What a cute group!!

Love when we get to see the peacock in the gardens!

Amazing to see them up in the trees with those heavy tail feathers.

David Nash art in the Gardens

Tom and Ryan...BFF's

Seeing as Mandy's birthday is in August, and we are typically back in Connecticut, we celebrate it the day after school gets out in July. This year we had 10 girls for afternoon tea. It was a great afternoon, filled with lots of snacks, giggles and VERY loud hand clapping games!!! Overall a great time for Miss Mandy!

Here is the crew...Starting with Mandy and going clockwise: Alessandra, Imogen, Molly, Danielle, Molly, Maia, Jada and Molly...Yep, you read that right...3 Mollys at one party!!!

We used real tea cups, thanks to my friend Katie, and all but 2 of the girls actually drank tea!!

The Birthday Girl

Make a wish!

Mandy and Danielle 

Aiden with two of the Mollys

Present time!

All the girls again...This time Charlotte is in the picture!

So those are some of the highlights from the month, other than the Olympic activities, which was deserving of it's own post! Looking forward to the trip home and introducing Aiden to all of our family and friends back in the States!!!

***Just realized that I never actually posted this. It has been saved as a draft for the last two months...Ooops!!!***

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Our Olympic Experience

The 2012 Summer Olympics cap off the trilogy of our amazing, once in a lifetime experiences here in London. We have experienced a Royal Wedding, A Diamond Jubilee and now the Olympics. AWESOME!

First here are a few facts about the Olympics, and more specifically the London Olympics!

  • The five interlocking rings of the Olympic symbol represent the five main regions brought together by the Olympic movement; Africa, the Americas (North & South), Asia, Europe and Oceania. At least one color of the rings is found on every flag in all the participating nations. Each color also has meaning which supports the Olympic philosophy; blue for participation, yellow for competition, black for excellence, green for unity, red for hope and the white background represents peace.
  • London hosted the Olympics in 1908, 1948 and 2012. The 2012 summer Olympics will make London the first city to have hosted the modern games of three Olympiads. London is also the only city in the UK to have ever hosted the Olympics.

  • The motto of the 2012 Olympics is "Inspire a Generation". There are a total of 204 nations participating, approximately 10,500 athletes (530 of which are from the USA) and 302 events in 26 different sports. 
  • Wenlock and Mandeville are the official mascots for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Wenlock and Mandeville are animations depicting two drops of steel from a steelworks in Bolton. They are named after the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock, which held a forerunner of the current Olympic games, and Stoke Mandeville Hospital, a facility in Buckinghamshire, initially organized the Stoke Mandeville games, the precursor of the Paralympic games.

  • Chariots of Fire, which depicts Britain's athletic successes in the 1924 Olympics is the theme song for this year's Olympic Games.
  • The 2012 Olympic Cauldron was designed by Thomas Heatherwick in a small workshop in Yorkshire, it consists of 204 copper petals which rose to create one huge flame symbolizing the uniting of countries.

We started our Olympic experience with a trip into the city on Sunday 22, July to see the rings on Tower Bridge. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day along the river. The city was buzzing with excitement and energy and the bridge looked fabulous with the rings!

Mandy and Aiden posing with Mandeville

Looking like tourists on Tower Bridge
A look at Tower Bridge from London Bridge

I had Mandy sing "London Bridge is Falling Down" as we walked across!

On Tuesday 24, July the Olympic Torch Relay passed through our town of Richmond. What a fantastic morning! The kids and I walked down to the end of our street with some of our friends to join the other locals. The torch was expected to pass by us around 10:15 so we headed out about 45 minutes before. There were Olympic staff members handing out flags and noise makers, which the kids loved. The parade started with sponsorship vehicles with entertainment aboard and then the torch came into view. What we didn't know was that a passing of the torch was going to happen right in front of us. The kids were able to get up close to the woman who was next to run and some of the kids actually were able to touch the torch itself. Lots of fun, lots of excitement and overall a memorable experience!

Our group of 7 moms and 16 kids!
Loving the noise makers!
Mandy and her friend Imogen
Aiden taking it all in!
Street lined with excitement!
Wenlock the Mascot!
Wendy, the next runner getting ready
Mandy is right there with the pony tail
Here comes the torch

The passing of the flame

Off she goes!

Keith and I were fortunate enough to get last minute tickets to the Women's Basketball game on Saturday the 28th.  

The first game was Turkey vs Angola and game two was The US vs Croatia. Luckily for us, the Overground runs straight from Richmond to Stratford, where Olympic Park is, and only takes about 50 minutes. Upon arrival, we were immediately guided by well posted signs and VERY friendly and helpful Olympic staff. The security was efficient and moved quickly and once through we were again met by a very helpful group of Olympic Staff. The atmosphere was full of excitement and was actually very contagious! This was what we saw as we approached the basketball venue.

In Stratford Station

Front of the Aquatics Center

Welcome to the Olympics!!!

The Arena
The Orbit
Here is a link detailing the Orbit...I actually found it a bit odd...
Map of Olympic Park

The GIANT Souvenir shop
The Basketball Arena off in the distance

The BBC/News Facility

We entered the the basketball arena and saw the last half of the Turkey vs Angola game. It was quite a nice arena for something that is temporary. There was a 45 minute break in between games and then the US and Croatia came out to warm up. I am sure many of you that read this have been watching and following the Olympic games, so you already know that the US won. It was interesting to sit there and  watch Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi and Geno Auriemma...kinda felt familiar, like a little bit of home had come to us!  Aiden came to the game with us and did great! He slept through half the game and when he woke he flirted and made friends with all the people sitting around us. Here are some pictures from the game.

This guy got the crowd going during breaks in the games

Team USA out for warm up

Team Croatia
Score board with roster
Coaches during the National Anthem
Team during the National Anthem
Game Time

Geno looking a bit out of shape
This requires real trust in your teammates
Half time performers
Final look at the scoreboard
Captain America and Uncle Sam were at the game!
Dikembe Mutombo

So glad Keith and I were able to go and experience this together. We feel really lucky to be living in the city that is hosting the Olympic Games and that we are able to be part of the action. Such a great memory made!


On Saturday 28 and Sunday 29, July the men's and women's cyclists road through Richmond. We were unable to get to the event on Saturday to see the men, but Mandy, Ryan and I went into town on Sunday to see the women pass by. Mandy and Ryan were super excited to see an Olympic event and were caught up in the excitement of the crowd. The women left from Buckingham Palace at 12 noon and were cycling past us at 12:18! Just before they arrived, there must have been 20 police officers riding by on their motorcycles, waving, giving high fives and getting the crowd excited. Once the women got to us, it only took 13 seconds for them to actually go by!! I think the kids were a bit surprised by how quickly it was all over! Here are the pictures.

A look at the crowd on Richmond High Street
THe crowd by our movie theater

Here they come!

The American rider, Kristin Armstrong, in a blur 

When we came home from the event, Ryan wanted to put it on TV to see the riders. He sat and watched cheering on the USA rider, Kristin Armstrong. It was very cute to watch how interested he was. Today we were watching some of the women's gymnastics and he came running into the kitchen saying "Mom, The USA is winning!" then in the next breath said "I'm gonna cheer for London too though!"  Love it!!!

It has been such a treat to have some of the Olympic events take place right in our town and be so accessible to us. The fact that Keith and I were able to experience an Olympic Event right in Olympic Park was a once in a lifetime experience that we won't soon forget. Even sitting in the comfort of our home, our cable provider carries 24 BBC Sport Channels that allows us to watch whatever sport we want in real time which is awesome!! What a GREAT time to be in London!!!