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Horses and Cupcakes

When we first arrived in London, one of our first stops was to explore The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. We learned that day that we could turn our ticket into a one year pass for no extra charge, so we did it. We enjoyed our tour through the Mews, however it isn’t the kind of place that you really need to visit regularly. Once you have seen the horses and the carriages, you have kinda seen them. So, the tickets have sat in my purse for the entire year, unused. It’s pretty amazing that after all this time I haven’t lost them. Well, as the tickets expire tomorrow I decided we needed to visit The Mews one more time, and I wanted to complete my collection of souvenir guide books, since I did not buy one on our first visit.

So this morning we ventured out and explored it once more. The carriages are pretty remarkable. The detail and craftsmanship that went into each one is pretty amazing. The largest carriage is the Gold State Coach, commissioned by George III in 1762. It weighs 4 tonnes and needs 8 horses to pull it at walking speed. It has been used for every coronation since 1821.

After our visit to the mews we we quite hungry so we stopped for lunch. While we were eating we saw a group of women come in and they were all holding cute little shopping bags. The bags immediately caught my eye. The name on the bag was Peggy Porschen, so I looked it up to see what kind of shop it was. Bakery! And it’s close! We didn’t have anything to rush home to, so the adventure could continue. Let’s go to the bakery and see what it’s like. I am so glad we did. It was a short walk to a very cute bakery that was full of amazing looking cupcakes, and the smell inside was amazing. It was a very worth while side trip.

It was the perfect afternoon. A short outing where we learned a little bit of history, saw some beautiful horses and had cupcakes. Everyone came home happy.

Cheers.

Perfect Timing

Perfect Timing

The timing of our last few guests couldn’t have been better. That said, initially I worried that their visits would be hectic since it was so close to when we were leaving. Would we need to be packing? Would there be last minute things we needed to do? In reality none of those things were a concern. Actually, their visits really helped me get more excited about going home.

As we sat and talked about different things we were able to do this year, it was like a chance to debrief and review our highlights. We also were able to talk about what we were looking forward to about going home. The kids talked about their excitement to see their friends again, visit the neighborhood horses they have been missing, see our dog (of course!) and they even claim to be excited about starting school – I’ll be sure to remind them of this when I hear the first complaint! When I was asked about what I was looking forward to I struggled to answer. However the more we talked about home, ideas came to me. I am looking forward to reconnecting with my neighbors. We live in a fantastic neighborhood and I want to get to know the families better. I hope to have potlucks and spontaneous get togethers and maybe even start a book club. I also was really impacted by the Alpha series at our church here, so I would love to get involved with Alpha USA in some capacity.

Get ready. The Bredows are coming home and we are excited to get lean in to our community, connect and eat at Johnny Donuts.

In the meantime, here are some photos from our last UK visitors. We had a fabulous time and we are so thankful for their perfectly timed visits.

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The Shift

Over the last month I have really felt the shift, the coming to the end of the adventure blues. We have 6 weeks left. The year that loomed out in front of us, long and full of adventure, is now short. We are trying to fit in any last minute trips, shows, museums…not wanting to miss out on things, knowing that there is still much we didn’t do. This has been such an amazing year. There have been hard parts, but life always has hard parts.

The opportunity for our family to live in London this year has been such a gift. Rob has had an incredible work experience and we have had a chance to see him thrive in his element and see him grow as he learns. We have met some pretty incredible people. We participated in an incredible church. The girls have had an amazing education through traveling, meeting new people, seeing the world through a different filter and even working through the hard parts of the year. This year I saw both of them step out of their comfort zones and try new things. I am really so proud of them and all that they took on this year and the way they embraced the adventure. They easily could have complained and allowed the hard parts to overwhelm them, but they chose to lean into the experience and live fully in the moment.

I keep thinking about the year wrapping up and trying to come up with a take away from the year or a way to summarize it all, but I don’t think I can. Maybe someday I will be able to, but right now it’s a special moment in our lives. London is a very special city and I am so thankful to have the chance to experience living here.

We have had two visitors over the last month and we have two sets of visitors still to come. The adventure isn’t over yet. We are going to enjoy each moment.

 

Finding your Passion

Finding your Passion

It is so fun watching your children grow into themselves. Seeing them discover the things that they enjoy, the activities that make them happy, the best use of their gifts and talents. This year we have had the chance to see the girls take their own paths and dive into their creative side.

The oldest has had an interest in writing for many years. She loves reading, and has many stories running around in her head, but she had yet to write much of it down. This year she decided to make an effort to learn about writing and grow her abilities. She is taking a writing course called The One Year Adventure Novel. Over the course of the school year she has written a 12 chapter novel. She took the first semester to figure out her characters and their flaws and changes, story outline and settings. The second semester was all about writing the novel. She is currently in the editing phase. It has been wonderful to see her immerse herself into her story world and pour her heart into the characters. She has grown so much in her abilities and in her confidence. I hope that this will be a great starting point for her in her writing and in finding her passion.

The youngest has found an interest in acting. We have had the great opportunity to attend many broadway shows and that, combined with learning about movie making through her Dad, has fueled her desire to act. We found an acting school here and she has been taking some classes. Performing small skits with her classmates in front of the class has really helped boost her confidence and has helped with the stage nerves. At a recent broadway show we learned that they were looking for new children to audition. She took the leap and decided she wanted to put her name in to audition. She filled out the form, made a video of herself singing, and submitted her application. We are currently waiting to hear back if they want her to come in for an audition. Regardless of the outcome we are so proud of her for being vulnerable and putting herself out there. Every audition comes with the opportunity to learn and get feedback on your craft. It is wonderful to see her challenge herself with things that are a little scary to try. She sets her mind on something and she goes after it.

Maybe in a few years the oldest will write a play or a movie and the youngest will have the leading role. And The Oscar for best screenplay goes to… and The Oscar for best leading actress goes to… The Bredow sisters will be a force to be reckoned with.

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Holy Trinity Brompton

During our time in London we have been attending Holy Trinity Brompton. Our pastor from Nor Cal recommended it, so we gave it a try. We visited one week, and never left. We have grown quite a bit and learned a lot at our time at HTB. It is a vibrant and energetic church. It is more charismatic than any church we have attended in the past, but a little more of the Holy Spirit isn’t a bad thing.

Over the next few days HTB is hosting The Leadership Conference, which draws thousands of people from all over the world. Tonight at church we heard testimonies from Alpha leaders from Montreal, Texas, Columbia, Mexico, Ethiopia, Uganda, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Aleppo and Ireland. It was pretty amazing to hear how God is working in all the different corners of the world. Especially amazing was how joyous the man from Aleppo was. He spoke about how God protected him from bullets that nearly hit him and bombs that blew up behind him, all while smiling. He spoke about how his town is literally falling apart and how 80% of his congregation has left the church, yet it is still full each week. People are coming in to the church for aid and prayer and with the Alpha course they are finding answers to their questions and they are finding hope.

If you have questions about life or faith, I highly recommend the Alpha course. If the Alpha course is changing lives in Aleppo, Syria, imagine what it can do in your community, in your life.

 

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Tea and Bedhead

We have been so lucky to have so many friends and family visit while we have been in London. We know that it is a sacrifice of time and money to travel across the Atlantic, so we are always so thankful for any chance we have to visit with anyone.

This last week we were able to visit with friends that we haven’t seen in two years. Many things have changed for them in the last few years, including adding a baby to the family, so we were more than excited for the chance to visit and catch up on life. We “see” each other’s lives a bit on the internet, but as my friend has said, that is really only 1% of our real lives. So chatting over our morning tea with bed head was the perfect solution.

Their visit held the perfect balance of tourism and relaxation. We spent a bit of time each day adventuring out of the house. They only had a few things on their list of London activities, so it was easy to hit all of them.

The London Eye: It was a mostly clear day, so we had great views from the top of the 442 foot ferris wheel.

Feeding the birds at Hyde Park: This is always fun. There weren’t a ton of parakeets the day we went, but plenty of pigeons. However, everyone had a bird eat from their hand, so it was a successful trip to the bird tree.

Walk down Portobello Road: It is always fun to see the different vendors that are along Portobello Road. There weren’t as many out on the day we visited, but we still had plenty of fun browsing through several shops and finding the perfect souvenir for Bee to take home – a solar powered chick.

Eat all the food: Oh my. We sure accomplished this many times over. Fish & Chips. Mother Mash. Punjab. Honest Burger. Pizza. Food trucks.

One thing I wanted to do was spend an afternoon in Greenwich. We picked a pretty busy weekend to visit as it was the Tall Ships Festival, but it was fun to see the ships in the water and imagine taking off on the boat on the 11 month race. We also walked to the Royal Observatory, the goal being to stand on the Prime Meridian. Before we went to the observatory Rob read about it online, and found that the line painted on the ground inside the gates of the observatory is not the actual Prime Meridian. So instead of paying the entrance fee to stand on the not actual line, Rob navigated us with his GPS to the spot of the actual Prime Meridian. So we were the family standing in a line on a random spot in the grass posing for a cute, longitudinally correct photo.

Our 9 days together went so fast. It was full of laughs, peek-a-boo, baby snuggles, slobbery baby kisses (that left actual bruises!), many miles, lots of conversation, Uno, and joy.

We love you friends and can’t wait to see you again.

 

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She Persisted

I am so proud of my oldest and her latest essay. I love reading her thoughts and seeing her grow to have her own opinions and ideas about life and about the world. We have had many conversations where she has challenged my long held ideas and caused me to question why I think certain things. I am very proud of her and excited to see what the future holds for this world changer.

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I believe one of the largest areas of conflict in schools is about the dress code. A highly restrictive set of rules dictating what people are allowed to wear under the umbrella term of modesty doesn’t accomplish anything. There are many things that make the principal of this set of rules understandable and it makes sense to want to create a learning environment free of distractions. I believe the flaws in this system come from the execution of this idea. When the system changes its focus from creating a distraction free environment for everyone to creating a “distraction” free environment for the boys, you encounter a great many problems.

The dress codes I have encountered during the years I spent in a public middle school made my point very clear. While there was a written dress code for both male and female students, the male dress code was rarely executed. While our male counterparts are allowed to walk around with sagging jeans and unbuttoned shirts, females were expected to make sure not to wear any pants made out of soft fabric and all of our shorts had to be mid thigh. “When girls are denied time in the classroom because their knees, shoulders or upper arms are considered inappropriate and in need of covering up, it privileges the societal sexualisation of their adolescent bodies over their own right to learn.” (The Guardian) On the rare occasion that a boy would be told to pull up his pants, it would be said with a smile and a shake of the head. The administration seems to think, “boys will be boys” and they cannot be controlled. It appears that this way of thinking causes the administration to stifle the girls rather than teach the boys how to be respectful young men. They assumed they had cleverly solved the problem by shoving the girls in paper bags and telling them to go enjoy school.

This is horribly distracting for the girls and also makes us extremely uncomfortable. Constantly having to worry if your tank top strap really counts as four fingers across and melting in the heat because you’re not allowed to wear the tank tops you own. Feeling uncomfortable because there are teachers whose job is to walk around during break and dress code you. “Because truly, what’s more distracting: boys and teachers having to deal with the occasional glimpse of a girl’s leg, or girls being pulled from class, humiliated and made to change before returning?” (The Guardian) You get told that fighting the dress code system means you just want to appeal to the boys, not that you want to appeal to yourself. You want to feel confident and comfortable in what you are wearing and not feel like you have to hide yourself because, according to your teacher, you are distracting and need to hide so the boys can learn. Girls are told all through school, and especially in middle school, that they need to change themselves for the men and that is something that will rule their subconscious for the rest of their lives. “The argument being made by school administrators is not that distant from the arguments made by those who accuse rape victims of asking to be assaulted by dressing a certain way.” (Time) Do you really want to be responsible for that?

There is no perfect balance between eliminating this dangerous idea and keeping up the modesty factor that many school expect of their female students. There are a few ways to eliminate some of the largest problems with the dress code that don’t take too much work. Make the code count for everyone. You shouldn’t just expect your female students to be modest, you want your male students positively reflecting your school as well. Perhaps try to create a few day long tests where you eliminate the dress code. See how people react and if problems spring up reevaluate what would be the best way to change your school’s system. If you give people a harsh set of lines and tell the girls to not cross them, most everyone will blatantly jump over them. You can’t create sexist rules that are actively shaping the way girls think about themselves and actively making boys expect women to change for them and not expect consequences. As more and more girls find their footing, you will just find more and more problems when you tell them they are lesser.