My mom and I spent three days in England on our little trip last month (plus a day of traveling on either side).

One day in London (see back here).

One (and a half) days in Northampton at the BBS conference (back here).

last day was my mom’s birthday (yes she came all the way to London to
be at the conference with me which meant giving up a “normal” birthday
back at home).  But we sure had a good day.  We spent it with my sweet
sister Saydi and her family who are living in England for six months in
this cute British house:

tried really hard not to drool too much as I was immersed in the
adventure they are having over there because oh how I would sure love to
do that, broken down cars and all…read more about what they are doing

I mean seriously, even driving is an adventure:

love driving on the wrong side of the road with the steering wheel over
there on the right.  I had Saydi let me help her get out of a tight
driving spot at one point because I was itching to take a turn at the

When given a choice of anything she wanted to do
on her big day, my mom picked exploring the areas where our ancestors
are from since she’s been doing some work on that lately and we were so

But first we had a birthday breakfast and went to church.

breakfast we presented my mom with sixty-five envelopes each filled
with growing-up memories and things we love about that beautiful
birthday girl sent in earlier from all our siblings and my dad.

We had her open them one by one all day long as we passed through the most gorgeous countryside I’ve seen in a long while.

(Sorry, I didn’t realize the content of that one when I took that picture…:)

We visited all the churches we could find in the vicinities of where those ancestors were from.

And had some good quality bonding time in the car with Saydi’s two oldest kids who came along.

This was the view from the front seat most of the time…love those tiny windy roads.

It was a little bit of an adventure in and of itself to find a birthday lunch place but we did it. 

This was a church where some of our ancestors were married.  Charlie and Hazel posed to commemorate that “happy” day:)

mom was filled with all kinds of stories.  It was fun to picture those
ancestors right where we were standing and imagine how their lives must
have been.  
Another church where some were most likely married:

scouted out graves to see if by chance any of their names were there
(we didn’t find any but man alive they could very well have been some of
the ones with names rubbed off with time and moss).

The countryside was so gorgeous with the rain slipping in and out.

This wall was definitely there when all the ancestors were:

(It’s actually a Roman ruin.)

In our
family of nine kids we have two extra friends who we like to call
sisters because they were with us so much of our growing up and we adore
them.  One of them was Saydi’s friend who happens to live in England
now as well.  At the end of the day we met up with her and her cute

And she took us to this gorgeous “bluebell forest” where the bluebells were blooming everywhere you looked.

was pretty fitting since my mom’s answer to what her hobbies were when
she was in the Miss Bear Lake Pageant was “collecting purple things.” 
We like to laugh about that one.

As we drove home the most gorgeous full rainbow ever glimmered at us from the sky.

The next morning we got up early and took a few forms of public
transportation to the airport where we loaded up on Hobnobs and English

then we flew right home on a flight where it somehow worked that I had
four seats to sleep on.  Yes, FOUR.  I felt so guilty I could hardly
stand it…until I fell asleep…

And got to get home to snuggle up my sweet children and their sweetest-ever babysitters a little less jet-lagged.

Dave was STILL in China and we all hunkered down in excited anticipation for him to get home the next day.


  1. Oh man that was a day I'll never forget! Hope that our valiant Great Great Grandma Elizabeth Gower and her courageous husband Daniel Clark were there watching over us. What a breathtaking experience!

  2. This post deserves a big fat YES – yes to awesome moms, yes to hobnobs (yum), and yes to getting four seats on a transatlantic flight!! Awesome pics πŸ™‚ I went with my sweet mom to Edinburgh for a whirlwind trip the year before I got married and we have memories that will last forever.

  3. There's no way you packed all of that into one single day! What a treat to be able to visit where your ancestors once lived.

  4. I really enjoy reading your blog and it is really to hear so many nice things about the UK.

    However, in the UK native bluebells are protected by law so I was really quite surprised to see your pictures. As a child you learn to leave the bluebells alone and not to pick them.

    The advice from the Woodland Trust is "you don’t need to pick the bluebells leave them where they are so everyone can enjoy them."

  5. Jessica, I thought the same when I saw the photo but I realised I have never seen a sign telling people this – the only way visitors would know is if someone who grew up here told them (and I bet some town children don't know either)!

    It's hard to see but they might well be Spanish bluebells – a straight stem rather than a drooping one – which are not protected.

  6. Where do you find cute, modest (in length) skirts, dresses etc.? I am tall too and find it tricky to find cute stuff that's long enough

  7. Great pix of the UK.

    I didn't know that bluebells are protected here. When ever I see bluebells I think of the song "In & out of the dusty bluebells.". I think it's one you do with a skipping rope.

    Have you still got any of the biscuits & chocolates left – or is that a silly question?:)

  8. Love seeing Saydi and Amy together. And all your jaunts around the English countryside. What a magical experience. And a happy birthday to your sweet Mom!

  9. What a fun day! I just have to mention that I was excited to see Charlie and Hazel – they are adorable and I love their names…see, my baby is named Charlotte Hazel! We think we'll call her Charlie for a nickname.

  10. How fun to see this post. I was a missionary companion to your sweet friend who took you to the blue bell forest. It was so fun to see a picture of her and her kids. She still looks exactly the same:)

  11. Hi Shawni –

    Wow, you get to go to so many cool places and do so many fun things. I read a few posts ago that you were feeling overwhelmed and that you felt like your life was caving in on you. With your husband being gone a lot, I'm sure lots of things fall on you to take care of. I wonder if maybe just chilling out at home for a while without any conferences, trips, etc. might be a remedy? With 5 kids, all involved in lots of activities, your "me" time is probably non-existent. Maybe a "staycation" where everyone does a little bit of nothing for a week or so would rejuvenate you. Take care.

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