Pre-Christmas Hooky in London

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A few weeks before Christmas we decided to pull Jayce out of school on a weekday for a little indulgent day with just Mom and Dad, and some pre-Christmas fun.

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I wish that I could say that we decided to do this because we’re just such fun and spontaneous people like that.  (Actually, I only kind of wish I could say that.)  The real reason is 3-fold:
1.) I realized after one afternoon out how Jayce often gets less of our attention than Hannah.  It is certainly not on purpose, but just a reflection of how high maintenance she is, and how overall chilled out he is.  It is a little bit like the whole “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” saying, but it is more like “the child that is constantly singing, talking, performing, and cannot be quieted with the assistance of a phone” gets the attention.  I thought it would be nice for Chris and I to spend the day with Jayce and be able to give him our full attention.  Luckily, Chelsea was willing to stay home with Hannah, (we surprised her with sushi and donuts after as a thank you), so it worked all around.   

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2.) But what sparked the “fun trip with mom and dad” was this.  A huge working snow globe that you could walk through and was filled with various London landmarks constructed entirely out of Legos.  I saw it advertised somewhere, knew that Jayce would go crazy over it, and began my plotting.
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(Notice the various lego Santas, including the Santa and his reindeer on top of St Pauls Cathedral.)  

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3.) But why did we go on a week day?  Or without Hannah?  
Because of Hamleys. 
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Chelsea and I had passed Hamleys on Regent Street a few different times, and it has always an absolute mad house.  It seemed much too crazy to take Hannah, and I knew that Chris wouldn’t be able to deal with it very easily on a weekend, particularly on a weekend leading up to Christmas, so we decided to take a weekday and kill several birds with one stone.
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I was so excited about having a few different activities lined up, but I knew that if we told Jayce from the start what things we were doing that day, that he would just keep asking about the toy store, as you do when you are 5.  So when he woke up I gave him his letter about our day, and a sealed envelope with Clue #1, which led him to my computer, where a website was open with a photo and description of the Lego snow globe.

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After we saw the snow globe we wandered around Covent Gardens a bit and checked out the various festivities.  It was really elaborately decorated and we ended up hanging around to watch a street performer for a little while as well.

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When we started to get cold, I gave Jayce his next clue, which led him to a lunch of his choice.  He chose McDonalds, but we overruled and compromised with a different yummy burger place.

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At lunch I gave him his next clue, which told him that our next stop was a toy store.  Along with his note I informed him that I had brought his bag where he has been saving his allowance over the past few months, and reminded him that he could spend it however he wanted.  He and Chris counted out all of his money (around 13 pounds) and he was ready to go shopping. 🙂
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The only thing that I knew about Hamleys before our trip was that it seemed like a really great toy store.  After our trip I discovered that it is the oldest toy store in the world, and the biggest toy store in the world.  It had 7 floors!!!  

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And I posed for a photo with Kate and Prince William!  (Oh yeah, and the other one.)
When we were in Hamleys Jayce received another “clue” envelope with an early Christmas present: a 20 pound note to add to the 13 pounds of his allowance that he had saved up.  I figured that the combination would give him enough to get a cool Lego set worthy of a trip to Hamleys.  It did.  
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(Jayce posing with the Queen, who is posing with his lego set.)
Now, even though Hamleys had 7 floors, they were still 7 floors in a UK shop, so they were not spacious and were CRAMMED with stuff.  And even though we went on a week day, there were still parents and grandparents and little kids in strollers and moms taking pictures and employees showcasing new toys, so it was still chaos!  We only visited 2 (maybe 3?) of those floors before Chris had had enough and ushered Jayce over to the checkout line to pay for his toy and get us out of there.

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We left Hamleys and headed for the train station to make our way home. Jayce was giddy with excitement over his new prize and eager to get home and put it together.  Chris and I were tired and ready to get home and make dinner.  It was before 5:00 when we walked in the door.

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People often ask me, “So, how long are you guys going to stay in London?” and the honest answer is that we don’t know.  Chris’ job is permanent, so we could stay here until we are old and gray.  However, we don’t necessarily want to live in England for the rest of our lives, so the answer is sometime between now and old and gray.  There is no job or city in particular that we are waiting on before we leave, and there is no end date for Chris’ current job.  We like it here, a lot, but it is not our forever.  So we don’t know.
Because of this unknown, I have a small voice in the back that is often telling me to take advantage of this wonderful city and all that it has to offer while I’m here, and I try to listen to that voice when I can.  We are lucky and blessed to live in a city that has enough cool things going on that we could pick a random day, with only  a few small items on the agenda (see snow globe, eat lunch, visit toy store), and it feels like a real adventure.  And we didn’t even have to spend a lot of money to get it.  
Also, whenever Jayce brings this day up, he always starts with, “Mom, remember that day when you and me and dad went into the city, just us?” and then proceeds with whatever he wants to tell me.  Not ‘the day with the toy store,’ or ‘the day with the Lego snow globe,’ but the day when it was just the three of us.  
Success.