Monday, December 31, 2007

Little Ballerina

For months, Min has asked to take ballet lessons. Since I couldn't find any dance studios that enroll two-year-olds, I decided that if she was still asking by her third birthday I would sign her up. Lo and behold, she's still obsessed with all things ballerina. In a few weeks, she will begin weekly ballet class out in the suburbs.

Today I took Margot to a dance shop in Center City to buy her required black leotard, pink tights, pink ballet shoes and tap shoes. (Yes, that's right, tap shoes. I am sure that our downstairs neighbor is going to looovvvveeee us.) And the verdict is in: Margot's in love. She can't wait for her classes to start.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Belated Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas one and all!

The whirlwind that accompanies Christmas visits and Margot's birthday is settling down, and so I'm taking a few moments to record a recap.

The Ruland 3 visited Sherwood for a few days before Christmas, and shared tasty meals and some quality time with Grandma and Grandpa D., Uncle Phil and Anna and Ben. Margot adores her cousins, and I am so pleased that she gets to visit with them (my own cousins are older than me, and so I didn't have opportunity to visit with them often while growing up). From Sherwood we moved back to Philadelphia, and had Christmas festivities with Baba and Grandpa R. at their house. Santa visited Margot this year, and granted her wishes for 1. a snowboarding helmet (with a little help from Ebay), 2. a play house (she loves real estate, just like her daddy), and 3. a 'kitchen-castle' (thanks a lot, Nickelodeon, for showing that commercial during every Backyardigans episode, since this princess-y eyesore is now in my house!). Here in PA, Margot had some additional cousin-time and lots of noise and craziness with her aunts and uncles. It was exhausting.

Merry Christmas everyone! And a Happy New Year to all!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy Birthday Margot!

Today is Margot's third birthday! We had a great day. In lieu of a party, we just had a quiet family day at home. All of Margot's friends are away this week since the Wharton students are on winter break. Honestly, it was just as well and I don't think Margot minded at all (she did get to have a classroom party last week at preschool, which qualifies as a kiddo-party in my mind).

It started with some lazing on the couch and a few episodes of Caillou. Then we had a birthday lunch complete with chocolate cake with vanilla frosting and raspberry filling (the chocolate and vanilla were Margot's requests, the raspberry filling was my own touch). Baba and Grandpa Ruland and Teal came for lunch, and stayed for Margot to open her birthday presents. After lunch, Margot took a short nap and then we headed to the Imax Theater at the Franklin Institute to see The Polar Express. The movie was Margot's special birthday treat, since she's never been to a movie before. She did great! She did comment a few times that the movie was scary (the Imax features made it extraordinarily loud and created some motion sickness for me and Brodie) but she laughed at the appropriate times and genuinely enjoyed the experience.

I can't believe she's three years old. Her babyhood has completely slipped away. My memories of nighttime feedings and diaper changes are so fuzzy that I need pictures to remind me of what she looked like then.

Happy Birthday Margot!

Third Time's a Charm

Monday, December 10, 2007

Malpractice Insurance Costs Too Much, Anyway

Last night we had to evacuate our building due to fire (someone one floor up and across the hall left the stove on [with pots and pans a-cookin'] while he "ran out" to get a few missing ingredients. Brilliant.). The sprinklers awoke and flooded the building from the fifth floor all the way to the ground floor.

Brodie was out at the time, and so Portia and Margot and I headed down the stairs and outside with the other residents of the building. Most people gathered on the sidewalk, but we were allowed to wait in the lobby, too. [Sidenote - I wonder what the offender thought when he came back up the street and saw all the building's residents outside and two 'hook and ladders' flashing in the street.] It was very stressful for Margot, although she did get to see her friend Kara in the lobby; the girls played together while we all waited several hours before we could return to our apartment. Fortunately, our apartment did not sustain any fire or water damage. Others, particularly those on the other side of the hall from us, were not so lucky.

But, stress and fear aside, the experience provided Margot with a new career goal. "I want to be a firefighter when I grow up," Margot declared, after we returned to our apartment. She'd been able to watch the firefighters in action as they carried their equipment through the lobby and up the stairs. "A firefighter?" Brodie asked. "I thought you wanted to be a doctor." That had been her previous calling. "No," said Margot assuredly. "I want to be a firefighter."

Hmmm...maybe we should get her a fire truck for Christmas.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ho Ho Horror? No more!

Margot has come so far since last year's visit with Santa! While she wouldn't actually sit on his lap (who can blame her?) she did get up close enough to tell Santa that she wants "toys" for Christmas (she wouldn't be more specific) and to ask what was in his big bag.

The funny part was that our friend Dave is under all that Santa get-up (he graciously agreed to be Santa for the Wharton Kids Club holiday party) and there was a very long 4-5 second interval where Margot appeared to recognize his voice. But she didn't say anything, so I think maybe she was just mesmerized by the beard.

In case you've forgotten about last year, please visit the archives.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Let it Snow, Let is Snow, Let it Snow!

Today we had a surprise (and minor) snowfall in Philadelphia. Margot and I held a photo shoot in my search for a perfect Christmas card photo (we succeeded). I won't post the winning photo here, but here are some that didn't make the cut.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tales of a Flowergirl, Part I

We just returned from a weekend in Washington, DC (Margot's first hometown!) and the long-awaited event of her Aunt Katie's wedding.

Margot was one of three flowergirls in the wedding, and the youngest. All in all, she performed exactly as I expected she would: she tore off her headpiece immediately after walking down the aisle (actually, she tore it off before heading down the aisle, too, so it was precariously perched atop her head on the way down), she cried because her flowers were not as big as mine and pouted throughout the pictures (as a bridesmaid, I got to carry a full bouquet while Margot's flowers were more appropriate for her size), and she stopped about one-third of the way down the VERY long aisle and just waited awhile until one of the other flowergirls came back to retrieve her and lead her to the alter. She wasn't frightened, but I am sure that aisle just seemed like a long tunnel of faces and she wasn't sure where to go.

But she was also Margot in her truest form: she spun and hopped endlessly on the dance floor, she asked the hotel pianist if she knew the ABCs (on her own, without any prompting) and then sang them alongside her to the amusement (or annoyance) of the guests in the lobby, and she glowed while wearing her princess dress.

The weekend has taken its toll, however; today she is asleep on the couch with a fever and vomiting. Ah, well, it's a good day to be sick - it's 38 degrees out and sleeting.

I will post pictures when I get my hands on some (our camera is still broken).

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Thanksgiving Recap

Margot, Brodie, Portia and I spent Thanksgiving 2007 at Grandma and Grandpa's house in Maryland. The day was unusually balmy and so Brodie and I crammed in as many outdoor activities as possible, including lots of walks, some kite flying, swabbing the decks of the sailboat, kayaking, and sailing.

Margot got to do a little kite-flying, which she enjoyed immensely. It's amazing how quickly she is growing up; this past summer I wouldn't have trusted her to hold a kite string long enough to fly it, but now, in November, she was able to fly the kite by herself for a brief period.

Brodie and I had an adventure of our own. In fact, I think that Thanksgiving 2007 will go down in history as "the year B & C were stranded at sea." We took my folks' new sailboat out since the weather was so nice (although, foolishly, without the motor attached, since the motor had already been removed and stored for the winter). We had a great time zipping along for about 30 minutes but when we tried to return, we couldn't get past the off-shore winds and outgoing tide. After 30-40 minutes of frantic paddling (which did nothing but keep us in one spot, as the wind tried to push us farther from shore), some neighbors happened by and towed us to shore. Ah, good times. Luckily, Margot was on solid ground with Grandma while all this took place.

She Laughed, She Cried, It was Better than Cats

Some pics from Thanksgiving 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Postscript: Halloween

I just received a phone call that Margot won an 'honorable mention' for her costume yesterday. The same chocolate store where I was told that I "looked like the kind of woman who would make a costume" hosted the contest, and Margot gets a gift certificate (they sell very expensive Belgian chocolates, which I am certain Margot's palate will not fully appreciate).

I bet that if I said I made that costume myself that we would have won first prize!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Flashback - Halloween 2005

Here's a quick flashback to Halloween 2005. Hmm...Min's costume (a strawberry) was pretty similar to this year's pumpkin. Perhaps we will continue with a fruit theme in 2008 - stay tuned!

Happy Halloween!

Halloween 2007 marked Margot's first true Halloween. She eagerly trick-or-treated in our neighborhood, and flashed a winning grin every time she grabbed a fistful of candy instead of just one or two pieces. There was one house, though, where she refused to take candy, saying, "I don't like any of this candy." (That was a little embarrassing.)

She received lots of compliments on her costume, and many people asked if I made it myself. No, I am not that crafty. I don't even sew buttons unless I have to. One man went so far as to say, "Really? Because you look like the kind of woman who would make such a costume." (WHAT? What is that supposed to mean???)

Happy Halloween everyone! Margot is currently in a candy-induced coma right now. Wish her teachers luck tomorrow - I am sure she, and the rest of her class, will be a cranky, stomach-ached, mess.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Great Pumpkin

Today was Margot's class trip to the pumpkin patch. I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Plotting her strategy:

Hmmm...this one? Or this one?

The perfect little pumpkin:

Jekyll and Hyde

This photo amazingly captures Margot's recent Jekyll and Hyde personality. Half of her seems to be in the light (our sweet, easy baby girl) and darkness creeps across the other half of her face (she's been defiant and bossy the past few weeks).

I'm not one to raise my girl via parenting manuals, so I'm not sure how Spock and Sears and Brazelton would label her, but I think Jekyll and Hyde is an appropriate description. I'm certain it's all par for the course, but it can be challenging nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Margot's First Haircut, in Photos

(She loved it by the way. Not one moment of hesitation or whining!)

This is Margot's hair before the cut:

And during:

Getting a blowdry:

And after! (No more mullet!)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Video - Queen of the Knock-Knock Jokes

Her punchlines are a little off, but they still make me laugh!

Back from a long hiatus

I'm sorry I haven't been posting. It's the result of me working too much coupled with a camera whose flash doesn't work.

Can you believe that Margot is losing her baby face? Look at this!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Still Building Her Vocabulary

This afternoon, Margot and I ate an Asian-inspired lunch while out shopping. She had the fried rice and I had sushi. She used a spoon and I used chopsticks. But she totally cracked me up when, halfway through our meal, she offered me her spoon and asked if she could use my "pork chops."

(Well, she got the 'chop' part right!!)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

More Pictures from Italy

The coastline:

View of Positano from the road:

Atop Mount Vesivius:

Swimming "all by myself!":

Looking coy at the Colloseum:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Day Two Report

Margot had her second day of school today, which was a few hours longer than yesterday. All in all she did well (no crying when I left, and she went eagerly) but Marcus told me that she refused to nap and did have a minor 'missing Mommy' meltdown right around naptime.

So at least she does miss me a little bit!

But she was all smiles when I arrived to pick her up and is very excited to present Brodie with the necktie that she colored for him today (today's theme was "All About Dads"). Tomorrow is an off day, but she'll go again on Thursday.

Monday, September 10, 2007

First Day of Glorified Daycare, uh, I Mean School

Margot started her 'preschool' program today. Let's face it, 'preschool' is just a euphemism for daycare, but so what. When Margot turns three in December, she'll move out of the toddler program and into the proper preschool program at Penn Children's Center.

Margot's classroom is called the Sea Turtles, and her teacher is named Marcus. She took her first day in stride, and didn't mind at all when I left this morning. In fact, amidst a sea of crying children, I saw her happily leading two wailers into her classroom when I left. When I picked her up, she looked disappointed.

Here she is with her lunchbag this morning.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ballet in Pompei

(Hey, that rhymes.)

We're back from a trip to Italy, and while I am sinking from jet lag, I just uploaded my pictures onto my computer and wanted to post this one.

Here is a picture of Margot and our friend Rachel dancing ballet in the excavated colleseum in Pompei last week. (Rachel is a professional ballerina and Margot's new hero.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lessons in Exclusion

Lately, Margot has been hosting raucous tea parties in her room. An assortment of animal friends are regular attendees: Clover the bear, Puffy the dog, Bun, blanket, several Curious Georges, a lamb with extra long legs, a Care Bear, Clean Babi, Dirty Babi, and more. These parties usually take place on her bed and involve sipping from tea cups and lots of role playing between Margot and her animals. (In one conversation overheard this evening, Margot said, "That's awesome Babi! High five!" I have no idea what that was all about.)

Two of Brodie's childhood stuffed animals live in Margot's room: Teddy and Clyde. They both look as if they were well-loved in Brodie's childhood, and so don't have the softness of most of Margot's animals.

For some reason, Margot cruelly rejects these animals, mostly Teddy. Several times, Brodie checked in on Margot during one of her parties and found Min sitting on her bed, surrounded by her friends, and Teddy across the room in the stroller or in a corner. "Can Teddy join the party?" Brodie always asks. "No," says Margot. "There's no room." If Brodie persists, Margot gets really angry or really upset.

Seeing as she hasn't started her preschool program yet, I find it interesting that she is already practicing social exclusion. I'm not sure what to make of it. While we try to explain to Margot that everyone would like to attend the party, she still won't put Teddy on the guest list.

This evening, long after she was supposed to be asleep, I heard Margot chattering away in her room. She was hosting another party; note the position Teddy was forced to occupy. (He's the brown bear in the upper right.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

No More Crib!

In the past few days, Margot has made the big transition to sleeping in a 'big girl bed.'

It's been a pretty smooth transition. Since we moved and her crib was dissembled by the movers, I figured she was big enough and mature enough to sleep without bars. (Plus, I didn't want to reassemble it.) Much like potty training, it's gone by without a hitch. She really makes things so very easy for us but being perfectly amenable to all of our suggestions (ie. "Let's get rid of your crib that you've been sleeping in for the last 2.5 years" or "Let's go to London for the summer and induce jet lag" or "Let's move you to a new apartment where your new room is 3/4 of the size of your old room, which was already tiny!").

Since her room is so small, there really isn't any room for a twin bed, so she's just sleeping on her crib mattress on the floor. It'll do until next June, when we will probably move again.

The only issue with Margot's transition to a bed is that Portia thinks it's a new place for her to sleep. The other night, Margot cried out for Brodie, and when he went in to see what was the matter, Portia was sleeping on the pillow and Margot was at the bottom of the bed. Since then, it's been the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears: whenever we come home, Margot's bed is all messed up because Portia snuggles down under the covers while we're out.

Anyway, they are working it out, slowly.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Margot and I are back home again, and Brodie will be home on Saturday. Whew!

Yesterday Min and I went to the playground in the afternoon. It was a hot and muggy day, and the playground was pretty empty, presumably because moms and dads and babysitters prefer air conditioning to swampy Philadelphia summers. But there was one very agile boy about Min's size near the monkey bars, and she headed his way to play.

"Look at me! Look at me!" he shouted to Margot, and he swung hand-over-hand easily from the monkey bars. I was seriously impressed - this kid was a good two inches shorter than Margot, but he swung like a monkey and dropped softly to the ground when he was finished (it was a good 8-10 foot drop). Wow, I thought. Is this kid two? (He was four, it turned out, but I see him headed to the Olympics in another 14 years.)

Margot watched, also impressed. She was not, however, ready to be outdone.

"Well..." she said, "look what I can do! I can do yoga!" she retorted (and yes, I think her tone qualified as a retort).

And she dropped into an almost-perfect downward facing dog position.

This is just another example of how Margot is more sophisticated at two than I was at 25.

I am so grateful for her every day, but mostly I am grateful for how much she makes me laugh.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bonjour from Paris

Margot, Babi, and their first creme brulee:

Brodie, Min and the view of the Eiffel Tower from Place de Trocadero:

An elated Min after dropping a coin and getting a bow from the mummy over the Seine:

Pausing for a biere in the Latin Quarter:

Min and Claudia on the bench where Brodie proposed seven years ago:

Friday, August 10, 2007

Where's the Princess?

I must have really been tired when I wrote that last post, because I forgot to mentioned the funniest part of our visit to Windsor Castle.

Margot was thrilled to be at a real castle. She obsesses over all things Princess, and this includes tutus, tiaras, Disney princesses, kings, crowns, horse-drawn carriages, etc. (Those Disney marketers sure are good at their jobs.) In the mornings, she likes to shower kisses on me and Brodie when our eyes are closed, claiming she's waking the sleeping "queen" and "king." So you can imagine how excited Margot was when we told her we were visiting an actual castle when a queen (sometimes) lives.

Unfortunately, we didn't come across any royalty, and certainly no one who looked like Disney's Cinderella. As our visit wound to a close, Margot demanded to see Cinderella.

"Where is the princess? Where is Cinderella? I want to see Cinderella!" she yelled. This continued for the next ten minutes, as Brodie and I tried to steer her stroller toward the exit.

Meanwhile, conveniently, two eight-year-olds walked by wearing princess costumes. "Look, there is a princess!" I said. (Wait, is Margot still going to be obsessing about princesses for the next six years? Ugh.) Margot was not convinced. "That's not a princess, that's just a girl."

"Oh, sweetie, Cinderella must be out shopping for a new dress. We must have missed her," I said.

This worked. Of course, a princess would need a new dress. Margot accepted this explanation. And she's lamented Cinderella's absence from Windsor Castle for a full week now. "Cinderella wasn't at home because she was out shopping for a new dress," Margot reminds us every morning.

Quel dommage.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Back in the UK

Apologies for the many weeks without a post. It's been a hectic four weeks since my last post. And I've missed a few highlights since my last post (including Margot's first swear, which was 'dammit' when Babi got stuck in her sleeve one morning). I take full credit for that, by the way. After carrying so much luggage through the airport, and moving us from a condo to a new apartment in Philly, I might have let my language slip once or twice. Anyway, she's clear now that swearing is a right earned by people who carry really heavy things, thus disqualifying her.

We've been back in the UK for more than a week now and have been full-time tourists since we returned. We visited Windsor Castle, wandered around Notting Hill's Portobello Market, went to the British Museum, saw the matinee production of The Lion King today, sniffed the roses at Queen Mary's garden in Regent's Park, played at St. James's Park, wandered Covent Garden (again), and lunched on more fish and chips.

It's late and I'm tired, so I can't think of any creative anecdotes to note here. But I found it profound that Margot thought the mummies in the British Museum looked "happy," and I was so incredibly proud of her for being so well-behaved at The Lion King this afternoon. She really enjoyed the show, although I skirted explaining death to her when the Lion King dies in the first act - it was just too big a topic to whisper about in a darkened theater. I told her the Lion King was "run over" (by buffalo) and she generally accepted that explanation (we'll see what kinds of questions I have to answer tomorrow, though, after she's had a chance to sleep on it). I couldn't believe that she didn't cry once and wasn't frightened at all. In fact, she stood in front of her seat and danced with the performers whenever a dance number rang out.

This photo is from yesterday, when Min and I shared a plate of fish and chips before visiting the British Museum - yum!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Power of Perception

I don't know when Margot became so mature in her perceptions, but this is clearly one of her strengths/gifts.

We spent some time in the mall this afternoon, staying out of the soupy heat that enveloped the Philadelphia metro region today. We paused for a brief lunch in the food court; Margot requested a hamburger (an unusual request for her) and I ate a veggie burger from Burger King.

We sat at a table next to a girl who was probably about eight or nine years old. She was writing in an activity workbook - filling in crosswords, doing word finds, etc. When we first sat down, I thought perhaps her mom or dad was picking up lunch from one of the fast food joints in the food court while she held the table. After a few minutes, I realized no one had come to join her. Almost simultaneously, I noted the resemblance between the girl and a woman who stood about 15 feet away, handing out tiny samples of 'bourbon chicken.' must be her mother, I thought. Poor kid, I thought. I wondered if she had to spend every day in the mall food court or if her babysitter had just fallen through today.

All of these thoughts were in my head. I did not speak a word about it (it was just me and Margot, after all).

Margot chewed on her plain hamburger, lost in thought. For her, this was also unusual. Normally she keeps up a steady stream of observations of all that is happening around her.

I heard the quietest of songs coming from the girl while she worked in her workbook. Margot heard it too; then she looked at me.

"That girl is singing, Mommy," said Margot, quietly. The girl was only about two feet away from her.

"Yes, she's singing a little song," I agreed.

"That girl is lonely, Mommy," Margot concluded.

And for some reason, this just about broke my heart. Not only had Margot noticed the girl was alone, without a playmate, mom, or dad, but she sensed her sadness. Margot knows what loneliness is. When did she learn this? How did she learn this? How did she learn to sense this in a young girl who never looked at her, but only continued to write in her activity book?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Explanation for My Silence

So it's been a week since I last posted, and a number of things have changed. For starters, Min and I are back in Philadelphia for a few weeks. I hadn't planned on this; it just kind of happened. But what's done is done.

The explanation: I freaked out. Uncharacteristic of me, I know, but it happened nonetheless. As someone who loves an international thrill, the proximity of the unexploded car bombs in central London to our flat (about a 10-15 minute walk) shouldn't have made me bat an eye. And they didn't at first (that Friday was a beautiful day in London with lots of sunshine and breezes; all I could think about was enjoying the weather). But then when the car crashed into the Glasgow airport, I lost it. I thought we were under attack. And I was possessed by a never-before-experienced urge to protect my baby. Also, I feared we could never comfortably ride the Tube or a bus. What would we do - sit around the dark flat for the next seven weeks?

So I called US Air and changed mine and Margot's tickets to fly home to Philadelphia a few days ago.

I readily admit that the following morning I felt more than a little silly. The old (read = levelheaded) me returned. I'm certain that I completely overreacted. And now Margot and I are biding some time here in steamy Philadelphia, while Brodie is logging long hours at the office alone in London. But what's done is done. (It's a small consolation that at least I am getting tan again with Philadelphia's summer sun as opposed to England's cloudy mist.)

We'll head back to London at the end of the month after we finish moving across town. So, for now, our anecdotes will once again be domestic. Oh, and I left Brodie the camera, so there will be no photos. But that just means I have to do a better job describing Min's adventures, since there will be no visual aids.

Friday, June 29, 2007


On Wednesday, Margot and I took a trip to Brighton - a seaside town on the English Channel. Once again, it was freezing. It was hard for me to imagine that anyone would ever try to swim from this beach, since the wind blew at 20 mph and the temp was in the high 50s. But the shopkeepers in town assured me that it does, indeed, get hot here during the summer.

I'm not sure if this photo of Margot conveys how cold and windy it was on the beach, but believe me, it was cold and windy.

The beach itself looked bleak and lonely on Wednesday, a sad state for a day in late June. But I imagine that when it warms up that the pier is more lively.

Brighton hosts the former summer palace of George IV, which was built in the Indo-Saracenic style prevalent at the end of the 18th century in India. It's a stiking disconnect from the typical architecture one sees in England.

Margot and I did not actually go inside the palace, but we did enjoy a free classical concert inside the gardens during the afternoon. The gardens blocked the gale howling along the beach, and so it was pleasant and confortable.

A Sample of What Goes on in Margot's Head

Just a few minutes ago, Margot called me into the bedroom where she is supposed to be taking a nap.

Margot: "Mommy! Mommy!"

Me: "What's the matter?"

Margot: "Babi is afraid of cats."

Me: "Oh, really? That's too bad. I really like cats."

Margot: "Me too. Good thing there are no cats in our flat."

And then she laid down and closed her eyes. Really, now, what was THAT all about? We haven't seen any cats, haven't read a story on cats, haven't seen a TV show about cats. Where did that come from?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pedestrian Safety

We've been here a full week now and I am just starting to remember to look to the right when crossing the street instead of to the left. Luckily, the City of Westminster has spelled out "Look Right" (or "Look Left" on certain one way streets)in huge letters directly on the pavement for fools such as myself.

But I will admit that as recently as this morning I had a split-second panic that a car was driverless yet still moving, since the driver sits on the righthand side.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weekend Recap

We're in the final minutes (UK time) of what was a very touristy weekend for us. But we're tourists, and so that's what we do.

It began on Saturday morning with a walk west, down to the Tower of London. Our flat's location, right near St. Paul's Cathedral, offers us great opportunities; the Tower of London is a lovely 25 minute walk down the river, the Tate Modern is a 3 minute walk across the Millenium Bridge, and then, of course, there's St. Paul's itself, right across the street. Saturday dawned warm and muggy; but as the clouds rolled in later in the day it became quite chilly. Eventually it rained on us, as it always seems to do here.

The Tower was very crowded, which is probably to be expected on a Saturday in June. Last time I was there was a weekday in February 1993, and there was hardly a soul around. But we stood shoulder to shoulder with tourists from every corner of the globe and forced Margot's strolled over the cobbled paths within the Tower. Our Beefeater tour guide regaled us with tales of beheadings and imprisonment. Margot showed no interest in his stories; anyway, there was a group of 100 people surrounding him so she was more interested in making loud public comments about the people she saw. (For example, "Mommy, that man has no hair. Why doesn't he have hair?" or "Mommy, what's on that girl's face?" (a bindi) So I tried my best to answer her without drawing too much attention to her questions.

I'm not sure if Margot really took the whole medieval theme to heart at that point (the Beefeater had just explained that the surrounding moat was really a sewer for the whole town) or if she simply forgot her potty training, but all of a sudden I realized that a large puddle was forming beneath her on the cobbled path. Sigh. I was lucky enough to have a change of clothes for her in my bag, and so I wisked her off to a semi-private corner and changed her. My only satisfaction was that if anyone tried to pickpocket my open bag, they'd come up with a handful of urine-soaked jeans.

The rest of our visit to the Tower was without incident, and even included a brief nap for Margot in her stroller. So we took the long way home, in the rain, and walked back to our flat along the opposite river bank, stopping just briefly for a pint next to this ship.

On Sunday, we lamented the cold rain that was falling and scrapped our plans to attend an outdoor festival. We treated ourselves to actual brewed coffee (it's expensive, about $4 a cup, and we only have instant crystals at home since there's no coffee maker in our flat) and walked out our door and over the bridge to the Tate Modern for a quick visit. It was a very quick visit because it was packed, and Margot showed signs of needing a nap. We brought her home, where she tossed and turned for 45 minutes before declaring, "Mommy, I'm awake!"

And so she was. Brodie and I packed up Margot, and Babi the Pig, and headed out to Harrod's since Brodie had never been. We spent a few hours wandering the incredible array of goods - very, very expensive goods - and concluded that even if we could afford to shop there we wouldn't simply on principle. But it was a nice way to close the afternoon, staring at so much opulence. I longed to get Portia a diamond-studded collar (ok, not really) and Brodie eyed an Eames desk chair. But reality won out, and so we rode the Tube back to our flat and ate a dinner of pasta, and sauce, and tomatoes, and parmesan cheese (Margot's favorite meal).