the wedding day

You probably know how sometimes you are reading a post in someone’s blog or somewhere on the internet, and then you go to one of their links and maybe then to another one, and then you’ve spent the rest of your day?  Some times my brain goes from one thought to another.  Or one memory to another.  Jumping back years in just few seconds.  Memories.   That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?  Well this time it wasn’t quite a whole day that I spent going through the internet, but I skipped around in many years of memories, and it was fun.

I was reading Alicia’s blog the other day, at Posie Gets Cozy, which by the way, their daughter is such a cutie… she reminds me a bit of my Siena when she was little, with her big eyes and long hair….  I then decided to check the blogs Alicia likes on her list, and I found Anne at City Country City.  I found a beautiful post she wrote few years ago.  It’s about her parents’ 38th wedding anniversary, but the writing is mostly about her parents wedding ceremony in the seventies.

With Mark we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this year, and even though it sounds like a cliche… time has passed so fast.  I can’t really count all the things and adventures and stories we’ve had in these 20 years of marriage.  I can’t tell either all the stories we’ve had since we met, in high school.  Because by far now, Mark has been part of most of my life.

About this exact date, 28 years ago, I said goodbye to him when I left to my own exchange student experience.  Little did I know it was just the first goodbye, but there were many more hellos coming our way.  I met him in our first day of class on a March morning.  I was returning from the (Chilean) summer break (December through March) and I was going into my junior year in high school.  Mark had just arrived in Chile from the US, as an exchange student in my school, in my class.  I remember as if it was today the day I met him.  I was just 15 years old (I can’t find a picture of us at that age yet… I will have to dig out some photo albums put away.)

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There is lots to tell about between that first day when we met each other, and the day we got married.  We were still young, I was barely 23, and we decided we were ready to spend our lives together.  It seemed right.  And it was right.

There is really little in my life, that Mark has not been part of.   It is funny to think of that, but it is true, and it makes me feel even much closer to him.  Because he knows pretty much everything about my life.  From my teenage years, to my young adult life, and becoming adults, and then turning into a Mamá, and the person I am today.

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In celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this year, my heart warms, and expands over many years of stories.  We’ve had days where we each went to work and got together for dinner to then go back out the door again the next day.  Busy, working in jobs.  Then Mark was going to school full time and working full time.  Our days were busy in a very different way they are today.  We saw each other very little, while he was doing everything at the same time.

Back then, still without kids, we’d go to Powell’s leasurely on our lunch break and hang out.  Read books, have a coffee.  There were many weekends were we stayed home resting, not doing much, or maybe knitting, or brewing beer, gardening, reading, listening to music…. nowhere to go, just being here.

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Few trips later, and many years later, our days were filled with diaper changes, laundry of tiny socks and onesies, and nursing and burping.  Our lives changed drastically, not unexpected, because we were ready for that change (though unknown to what it would look like), but then this amazing adventure of beginning a family had begun.

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I remember like today the day we brought our first little person home from the hospital.  We had left as a couple and came home as a family of three.  With the beginning of a new life we never even imagined.  It was the most special feeling.  One (of two) of the best trips back from the hospital I’ve ever had.

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Today, as the kids have grown a little, our days are spent together in deeper conversations with them.  Talking about the importance of friendships, the importance of being truthful,  lending a hand together to our neighbors and to our friends when they need us.  Talking about the why’s of Harry Potter or Dr. Seuss or the funny conversations of Minions in the Despicable Me movies or dialogs in Ice Age or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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Also, about the importance of caring for each other and our community.  We’ve grown together learning how to live in a new country, trying to understand a new culture, a new language and getting to know new friends, while living in India.

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There are so many stories, so many adventures together.  There has been about 179,520 hours of marriage plus 78,840 hours of friendship before that.  A total of 258,360 hours (aproximately) of knowing Mark that has turned our friendship into marriage and into this beautiful and most important friendship it is right now.  Over one quarter of a million hours of friendship and love. Because I believe ours was love at first sight.

When I think of us, I see us as a young family.  When I see us in between everyone and everything around us, I notice time has passed since we first became a family, twelve years ago.  Our neighbors of 19 years, that have become our friends, have seen us grow up as a couple to the parents and family we are today.  And I find that a special treat for us.  Something so very special we treasure with all of our heart.

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When we share the stories, the pictures, the memories, the details of our wedding day with our kids, it seems like a long time since we were there.  Just how Anne wrote in her blog post about her parents’ wedding day in the 70’s, I wonder what Lucas and Siena will think or talk about our wedding day when they grow up.  “Their parents wedding in the 90’s.”  Or maybe it will be “the wedding in the 1900’s.” 

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My parents had their 50th wedding anniversary few years ago, and my brothers and I, with our families, all gathered together with them to celebrate.  It was a small celebration of their wedding day, 5o years later.  I don’t know many details from their wedding day.  They’ve never really talked much about it to me, but I think their wedding wasn’t a big celebration.  But this time, we celebrated happily together.

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We have lots of photos.  I am one to always be with my camera in front of my nose, and want to keep all these memories for later.

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Mark and I have that Wedding Day Photo Album in our shelf too.  That reminds us of all of our family and friends who were there to celebrate with us 20 years ago.  So much have changed in all these years.  So very much.  It is fascinating to think of all the things we’ve done, and created, and have made that makes up our days, the lives of today.  The biggest ones sitting right next to us every day at the dinner table.  Incredible.  An incredible life and adventure I am lucky to be part of.  And then being able to continue building and creating this story of ours, with my best friend, the best person I’ve ever met.  How lucky is that.

I will take few days off, without internet, and will continue next week with more of our adventures and some makings it’s been happening around here.  Have a beautiful weekend wherever you are.

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London from the Thames

The River Thames goes through the city of London, and though in a different way and in a different scale, it reminded of Portland and its Willamette River.   The Thames river goes through this beautiful city, and it’s the longest river in England (we got to see it going through Oxford too, later in our trip.)   DSC_0311-smallThe Themes River is deep so ships can navigate it.

DSC_0312-small DSC_0318-smallOn our way back from Greenwich, we didn’t get off at the Tower of London (where we had started), but continued on the boat all the way down to Westminster and got to see the city from the water, a beautiful sight.

DSC_0398-smallWe passed the Tower of London.

DSC_0403-small DSC_0408-smallThe Shard and the Belfast, a WWII ship turned into a museum.

DSC_0418-small DSC_0419-small DSC_0421-smallLondon Bridge.

DSC_0426-small DSC_0429-small DSC_0431-small DSC_0433-smallThe city with all the cranes, it reminded me of a story our friends told us about a friend of theirs with a little kid who was watching out the window from their office one day and said “When will the city of London be done?”

DSC_0436-small DSC_0441-smallThe Globe Theater. Another top place in our list, we wanted to see, but ran out of time.  For next time will have to be.  A must.

DSC_0443-smallThe Tate Modern Art Museum.  How I wish we could have gone, with the Matisse exhibit right now… Also for next visit.

DSC_0445-small DSC_0449-small DSC_0450-smallMillennium Bridge.

DSC_0453-small DSC_0455-small DSC_0460-smallBlackfriars Bridge.

DSC_0461-small DSC_0464-small DSC_0780-small DSC_0477-smallWaterloo Bridge.

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We thought of going to the London Eye but after learning how much it costs to get up there, we decided we wanted to see other things instead.  And seeing it from down here was beautiful and fun enough for me.

DSC_0506-small DSC_0482-small DSC_0488-small DSC_0491-smallThey told us that the tourists are the ones waving from the bridge.  Londoners are busy  or focused going or coming to places.  Fair enough.

DSC_0508-small DSC_0509-smallThe Aquarium.  You can see in the walls on the river there are lion faces (greenish color).  These have rings in their mouths.  Were put there to keep watch in the tides and water level of the Thames River.  When the water reaches their mouth, London is at risk of flood.  The boat’s guide told us a rhyme that Londoners know to remind them of the saying of the lion’s face and water level:

When the lions drink, London will sink.
When it’s up to their manes, we’ll go down the drains.
When the water is sucked, you can be sure we’re all … in trouble.

DSC_0537-small DSC_0544-smallWestminster.

DSC_0538-smallAnd Big Ben.  I could do this boat ride again.  I could have done it every day.  I recommend it if you are ever in that part of the world.

Posted in England, family, history + geography, homeschooling, travels | 1 Comment

Cutty Sark

DSC_0059-small DSC_0060-smallThe Cutty Sark is in Greenwich and it has been for many years.  But it was damaged by a fire in 2007 and it was just finished its remodel.  And oh my… what a beautiful museum it is.  It has beautiful photos and videos and the hands on activities are fun.  I would definitely recommend seeing it if you are in those parts of the world.

DSC_0063-small DSC_0065-small(We don’t have many pictures of all of us… this is just one of the few handfuls we do. A fun one.)
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The Cutty Sark is a British clipper ship from 1869.  It was a ship that brought tea from China.  It was a tea trader.  It would take wine, beer and spirits to Shangai and would bring tea back to London.  It would take her 70 some days to get back to London with its precious cargo (tea).

DSC_0078-small DSC_0090-smallThe now museum, shows these wonderful screens with pictures and short videos of the tea plantations in China, and how tea is grown and how it was transported back to England.

DSC_0094-small DSC_0100-small DSC_0114-smallAfter the fire and its renovation, it was open again to the public (2012) and in its inauguration, the Queen and Prince were present.

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The floors, some of the ceilings and walls, are old tea boxes. Oh how beautiful they are.

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After the Cutty Sark had been a tea transporter for few years she turned into a wool clipper.  Now, she was part of the wool trading business coming from Australia.  Steam boats started to be more common, since they were faster than these clippers.  So after few years in the wool trading business, she again was sold and turned into Portugal for new routes and new trips.

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This bell was stolen around 1903 when it was owned by a Portuguese firm, by an officer who had once served in the Cutty Sark.  The Portuguese crew then stole a bell from the nearest vessel, Shakespeare.  When the Cutty Sark was bought by Captain Dowman in 1922, the culprit offered the original bell back, taking Skakespeare’s bell in exchange. 

DSC_0167-small DSC_0170-small DSC_0171-smallI have never been in the ocean in a ship or a sailboat.  I’ve only been a few times in a ferry, but that’s it.  I did go in a very small sailboat in a lake growing up, maybe a couple of times, but being on board of this beautiful (such a wonderful conservation project) I fell in love with all its wood, the ropes, the knots… so, so well preserved. Beautiful! Though I do prefer it more now that it’s on dry land.  It doesn’t move with the waves at all.  Very helpful when you get motion sickness at just the idea of moving water (or car, or bus, or train!)

DSC_0172-small DSC_0174-small DSC_0173-smallBut look at the ropes… oh… so, so beautiful!

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DSC_0216-small DSC_0217-small DSC_0211-small DSC_0208-smallI can’t believe of all the travels that it has done.  Around the world so many times.  Amazing.

DSC_0206-small DSC_0221-small DSC_0227-small DSC_0238-small DSC_0242-smallDown below, under the ship itself, there is an exposition of all these figureheads.  It’s Long John (really, long john! ha ha) Silver Figurehead Collection.  It is the largest collection of  Merchant Navy figureheads in the world. It was given to the Cutty Sark in 1953 by Sydney “Long John Silver” Cumbers, known for his eye patch and his love for all things maritime.

DSC_0257-small DSC_0245-small DSC_0243-smallThese figureheads are all mostly from 19th century vessels.  And this collection as is the Cutty Sark herself, has been dedicated in memory of the Men of the Merchant Navy.

DSC_0247-small DSC_0262-small DSC_0254-small DSC_0268-small DSC_0258-small DSC_0271-small DSC_0280-smallA perfect way to end our visit to Greenwich, before we headed back to London in the boat.  A complete maritime day and experience.

Posted in homeschooling, travels, history + geography, England | 2 Comments

Greenwich, England : The Royal Observatory

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The Royal Observatory is where the Prime Meridian is.

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DSC_0961-small DSC_0962-small DSC_0965-smallThe Camera Obscura: This camera obscura is housed where the astronomer Royal John Flamsteed had a camera obscura to observe the sun.  This was an early time, using a telescope and a movable screen.  Later the fifth astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne, placed the camera in the turret of Flamsteed house.  It was just like the one you are visiting today, with a lens and a mirror in the turret projecting an image down onto a viewing table.

Developments through the centuries with mirrors and lenses transformed the camera obscura from a darkened room into a portable instrument which was the forerunner of the modern camera.

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This Long Telescope Tube is a replica of the kind used in the Octagon Room until 1765.  The angle of vision was adjusted by moving the tube up or down the rings of the ladder fixed against the window.

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DSC_0002-small DSC_0011-smallShoulder-mounted telescope by Samuel Parlour, about 1824.

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The Dolphin Sundial (1977).  The pointer of the sundial is formed by the tips of both dolphin’s tails, which almost meet.  The tails cast a shadow on the dial plate that has engraved curves, representing the hours. 

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Throughout the Observatory you can find the Prime Meridian line.

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Greenwich, England. The Prime Meridian

After a short walk from the pier, we climbed up to the Royal Observatory.

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The Shepherd 24-hour Gate Clock: This is one of the earliest electrically driven public clocks.  It was installed here in 1852.  The dial always shows Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).  In summer Britain converts to British Summer Time (BST), which is an hour ahead of GMT, and the clock then appears an hour “slow.”  

Being a 24-hour clock, the hour hand marks noon (XII) at the bottom of the dial and midnight at the top (0).  The time shown is accurate to 0.5 of a second. 

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Public Standards of Length: These British Imperial Standards were first mounted outside the Observatory main gates, some time before 1866 to enable the public to check measure of length.

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The Meridian Observatory: Astronomers worked in this observatory, viewing the skies and mapping the stars.  The first astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, made his observations from a small brick shed that was expanded to a larger building later in time.

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There are so many ways to be right in the middle… right here we are in the Prime Meridian.  Where the world is divided into East and West, with this imaginary line.  Except here, where the line is right under our feet.  A wonderful visual.

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One on each side of the world…

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You can see the (imaginary) line.

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You just had to think what it means to be in the middle of the world, in the globe… each foot on each hemisphere.  One on the East and one on the West.  We don’t get to do this very often.  A fun memory.

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It is just so exciting to be right smack in the middle of the world (at least lengthwise!)

Posted in England, family, history + geography, homeschooling, travels | 2 Comments

Greenwich, England. The town.

DSC_0817-small DSC_0308-small DSC_0895-small After getting off the boat that brought us to Greenwich (about 30 minutes from the Tower of London), and visiting the Old Royal Naval Museum, we headed to the Royal Observatory. DSC_0898-small DSC_0046-small DSC_0054-small On our way there, we had fun seeing this part of the town.  DSC_0897-small DSC_0278-small DSC_0288-small

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DSC_0905-small DSC_0906-small DSC_0908-small DSC_0910-small DSC_0912-smallThe Olympic Stadium. DSC_0959-small We had a great view from up there.

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Boat to Greenwich

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To go to Greenwich, we rode the bus to the Tower of London, and took the boat from the Millennium Pier.  The 2-day tour bus pass we bought included the boat ride.  It was perfect.

DSC_0306-smallDSC_0307-smallDSC_0741-smallWe got there as early as we could.  It was our second day in London, with 8 hours difference in our bodies, so we did our best, and to tell you the truth, the kids did awesome.  Amazing what they can do.

DSC_0739-small DSC_0748-smallSo far we had taken an airplane, a train, a London double decker bus, and an open top double decker bus.  Now, it was time for a boat ride.  I get motion sick very easily, and boats are not on top of my to-do lists, but ferries are something different, and even better if it’s in a river.

DSC_0320-small DSC_0321-small DSC_0319-smallWe were going to Greenwich to see the Prime Meridian and see what we could see.

DSC_0373-smallDSC_0751-smallWe turn around from the pier and go under the Tower Bridge and we left behind the Tower of London.  Our day and boat trip had started very exciting already.

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DSC_0735-smallRight across the river from the Tower of London there sits Belfast, a WWII ship turned into a museum.  Something we wanted to check, but didn’t have enough time.  It will have to be for next time.

 

DSC_0328-smallNow going East, towards Greenwich, in the Thames, we see so much from the boat.  A different view from what we’ve seen so far.  Also we notice the marks of the river and its levels going up and down with the sea tides. The Thames being one of the two longest rivers in Great Britain, together with the River Severn, which we also saw later in our trip.

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This is an area I thought it would have looked like where Charles Dickens probably worked (in the shoe-blacking factory) while his father (and family) was in jail, when he was young.

DSC_0771-small DSC_0786-small DSC_0791-small DSC_0798-smallGreenwich from the River Thames.

DSC_0802-small DSC_0805-smallWe have arrived to Greenwich after about 30 minutes or so in the boat, ready to discover and see new things.

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