Friday, December 20, 2013


Twenty days is really not all that much time, especially when it is a countdown to the end of something enjoyable. In true Pelatowski fashion, we crammed in as much as we could. Amongst school, swimming, gymnastics, final play dates with friends, packing up the house, closing on a new house, preparing for Christmas and work for Keith, here is how we spent the last few days.

December 1st
We attended our fourth and final Darell Christmas Fair. Mandy sang in the choir, I worked on the Christmas Wreath Stall, Keith worked the BBQ, Aiden charmed the ladies and Ryan single handedly supported Angela and Shelly's Mystery Boxes Stall!! We all really enjoyed ourselves!

December 4th
Mandy and her class had their class assembly where they shared all they had learned about the Tudors during the term. Mandy had a recorder solo and a solo speaking part. The entire class did a fabulous job and I think it was probably one of the best class assemblies I have seen in our time at Darell. Here is a video of one of their songs. 

Mandy and her BFF Molly

December 6th
Mandy performed with the school choir at the Kew Sparkle. This is a family fun night in Kew Village when all the Christmas lights are turned on and local vendors have stalls selling food and crafts. All the stores in the village are open late for some Christmas shopping as well! 

December 9th
The moving company came... in 5 hours they packed up 70% of our belongings and left us with a pretty bare house. The kids were pretty shocked when they came home from school that day.

December 12th
The Key Stage 1 kids (Nursery - 2nd grade) had their Christmas Nativity performance. I love that kids are able to do a proper Christmas show at school here. I enjoy these every year. My greatest joy about this year's performance is to see how far Ryan has come! In his Nursery year he sat on the floor, refused to stand or wear a costume and looked terrified. Every year he gained a bit more comfort and confidence. This year he had two speaking lines with his friend Tom! So proud of him!! Here is a video of his class singing their song in the show.

Ryan and his best friend Tom
December 13th
Last swimming lesson for Aiden! This kid is fearless. He is completely independent with a floatation device. He swims underwater from his teacher to me and LOVES jumping in and going underwater! Another little fish in the family!

December 14th
Party Day!!!! Mandy and Ryan invited some friends over for a going away party. Including Aiden, there were 15 kids here! It was loud, it was crazy but it was fun! We have no toys left in the house since the moving company came, so the kids occupied themselves by dancing, playing hide and seek, making ice cream sundaes and chasing each other around the house! Like I said, crazy but FUN! I am so happy that the kids have made such wonderful friends while here. These are really good kids that hopefully will be part of their lives for years to come!

Back row: Mandy, Freya, Brooke, Molly, Folani
Front Row: Immi, Jada, Poppy, Anna

Freddie, Fernando, Tom, Ryan and Freddy

Aiden hanging with the ice cream sundae!
Later that night it was party time for Keith and me! My wonderful friends planned a couples holiday/farewell party for us. It was so much fun and very much appreciated. I have been so blessed to have each and every one of these ladies (and others no longer in London) come into my life and share these three years with me. They, along with their families have become our family away from home. I will cherish the memories of our time together. Love you ladies!!

Back Row: Gina, Carol, Clair, Chloe, Nicola, Me
Front Row Susanna, Rene, Sangita, Rachel, Sara, Laura
Rene, Me, Sara, Nicola
Our Beautiful Prints of Richmond
as a Farewell Gift

December 15th
Anyone who has followed our journey here in London knows how much I adore Kew Gardens. The kids and I took our final stroll through this fabulous sanctuary. We are really going to miss this place.

December 16th
Ryan had his last swimming lesson with Marco!! What a HUGE difference in 12 weeks! He is comfortable, confident and enjoying himself. During his last two lessons he started swimming completely independent of any floatation support. The pride he felt was palpable!! Way to go Ryan!!!

December 17th
Ladies Christmas Lunch at The Victoria! Every year we have a ladies lunch to celebrate the holidays together! Yummy lunch with fabulous company! They gave me another little reminder of our fun nights out at our favourite place!! Thanks Girls!!

Later that day Mandy and Ryan had their final gymnastics class! Both kids have really enjoyed their time in the gym and really built a great relationship with their teacher. Mandy has shown real potential to be a great gymnast and really wants to continue back in the states. Ryan has gained so much confidence through gymnastics and swimming, and radiates confidence. We will really miss Natasha and all the other teachers at the Gym!

December 18th
Mandy participated in the Key Stage 2 (2-5th grade) Christmas performance. This year's show was so well done. All the kids did a fabulous job and the singing was amazing. I still love hearing 150 kids singing with a British accent!! Mandy had a few speaking lines in the performance and did great! Here is a video of the final song!

Mandy as a blue Angel
That night, Keith was treated to a night out with all of his UK work colleagues. The whole team got together to recognise his hard work and commitment to the company. They gave him a UK football jersey with his name and Chicago Cubs number on it and a new pair of cuff links! Definitely a nice and well deserved send off!

December 19th
Pick ups, deliveries and meals out...that was the theme of the day. I brought the kids to school and felt like Santa Clause with all my deliveries! Power cords, George Foreman grill, telephones, alarm clocks, outgrown Wellies...Christmas came early for friends at Darell! The beds, coffee maker and other appliances were collected as well! A friend from high school recently enrolled in a theatre program here in London and he was kind enough to come down to Richmond for lunch...thanks Mark! After school Ryan had birthday party to go to for his friend Evan, nothing like a party on you last night in town!

After we picked Ryan up we headed out for our last family dinner at the Botanist. We spent the meal reminiscing about the highs and lows of our time here, what we will miss and what we will be glad to leave. A very sentimental and emotional conversation.

What we won't miss
Living in a rental house
Driving on two way streets wide enough for one car
The Rainy Grey Weather
Small, Inefficient appliances
SLOW customer service

What we WILL miss
Darell Primary School Kids and Staff
Learning the British way (Ryan)
All the singing and art work I do at school (Mandy)
Ids (Kids), CaCock (Peacock) Bus, Choo Choo, Boat, Air P, (Aiden)
The healthier food options
The mild, moderate weather temperatures
Walking to school, to the market, into town
The ease of Public transportation
European travel
Living so close to one of the coolest cities in the world!

December 20th

On the day we arrived in London, the kids and I were in one car and Keith followed 15 minutes later with the keys, in the second car. We took a photo of our little ones sitting on the front step looking so small and tired. Today as we left for our last day of school we took the same photo with another little one in the shot.

At school today was the annual Christmas Carol assembly. I had to keep my face buried in the back of Aiden's head so I could conceal my emotions. I looked around at all the wonderful children we have grown to love, the warm smiling faces of the staff and my two children sitting happily with their friends. It breaks my heart to leave. I really can't even describe how we are all feeling today. In some ways we are on auto pilot making sure everything gets done and the kids enjoy their last day of school. I know when we pull away from 3 Selwyn Avenue today, tears will be shed.

Thank you to all our friends here for all the amazing moments and memories. Thank you to Darell Primary School for educating our kids in a warm, friendly and diverse environment. Thank you  to our family and friends at home for loving us, supporting us and coming to visit us! And thank you Richmond/London for three remarkable years we will never forget!

Happy Holidays and Love to All!

Keith, Heather, Mandy, Ryan & Aiden

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