13 November 2018

Remembrance



Do you remember what it was like to be a kid? I remember a lot of frustration at all the things I knew I didn’t know. There was so much I had to learn and I remember feeling a bit shackled by my own littleness. 

At the same time, I loved the wonder and general awesomeness of being a kid. Anything seemed possible. Magic was real and dreams were not just possible, they were inevitable. Childhood was this pristine, happy place full of love and ideas and music. 

Sometimes I look at Ezra and I feel torn between those two memories. I see him already trying so hard to be mobile and I think “I remember that feeling of wanting to be independent and capable.” Then we'll stumble on something magical, like when this little snail crawled into where we were taking photos (I picked him and put him on the leaf for E to look at).

To have a little woodland friend stop and say hello—and to have him look up at Ezra and Ezra look back down at him—it just felt like a tiny fairytale. It made me want to keep Ezra small and sweet forever.


I’ve had these kinds of thoughts a lot lately leading up to the 100 year anniversary of Armistice day (the day that marked the end of WWI). The way Britain celebrates this day is so unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in the States. That heaviness that comes with the loss of life seems to have been passed down the generations so that even the kids feel it. I know I feel it now.

When you hear stories of all the boys that went off to fight, your heart just breaks. It feels so much heavier now that I’m a mum. What if I have to send my little boy off to war one day? Will this childhood be enough? Will it be filled with enough wonder and love and music? 

I’m not sure any childhood is perfect enough to counterbalance all the ugliness of war, but that shadow of sorrow that people here keep passing down to their children and grandchildren definitely serves a purpose. Without that understanding, I feel like people will just keep making the same mistakes over and over and over again. It makes me pray for peace every year a little harder.


On a lighter note, I love the way Ezra is just clutching onto these leaves (it was after we took photos). He’ll probably be like his mama and try to take bits of nature home with him. At the very least, I know that he’ll have an appreciation for the beauty of nature as his daddy is always stopping and pointing at trees and flowers and buildings and making sure I see how pretty they are. I love it and I can’t wait for Ezra to do it too.


This is a little taste of our new village, which was once an old mining town. Not far from our house is the assemblage (on the left). It looks like a sort of modern art piece but is actually bits of the old mine. They decorate it with red poppies especially for Remembrance Sunday. On the right is a church in the middle of town.


I guess no one knows what the future has ahead of us. I have no idea what Ezra's world will look like--everything is changing so quickly. But I hope his little life can be spent seeing beauty in God's creations and dreaming enormous dreams and seeking peace. I hope it is long and filled with wonder and that he learns to appreciate all the sacrifices young men (and women) before him have made. Life is a gift and today I'm extra grateful for it.

05 November 2018

London Soho


Soho is a provocative slice of London. Famous for its sex shops, theatres, and nightlife, it’s a neighbourhood with a vibe that’s two parts scintillating one part grunge, sort of like a sputtering neon light in a dark corner window. 

Needless to say, some tourists avoid it, which is a real shame because it is one of my most favourite neighbourhoods. To help me gush, this weekend I collaborated with Hotels·com to curate an evening in Soho. While they provided the spending money, the experiences and opinions are (obviously) entirely my own. It was a great time, and the perfect little intro into the city for baby Ezra (as this was his first time in London).


We started things off at a restaurant called Dirty Bones. There are actually two locations in Soho, one on Carnaby Street and one by Piccadilly Circus. Both have pram access and are pretty accommodating of families, but I’d definitely recommend the one near Piccadilly and suggest going on the weekend. That way you can order off their brunch menu which is the main reason to go. This time though, Jon ordered the ‘mac daddy’ which is sort of their signature dish—a macaroni + cheese meets burger monstrosity. 

Also, the bathrooms are behind a false bookcase... sooo, maybe that's a reason to go all in itself.


If Ezra had been born on his due date and had been a girl, I would have seriously considered giving him (well, her) the middle name Liberty. My love of America makes me feel like any baby born on Independence Day deserves a patriotic middle name. But my love of London also made me want to give a name that paid homage to my love of this city, and Liberty fit the bill on both counts. Just off of Carnaby Street, this period department store is perfection, inside and out.


Regardless of the time of year, I usually make a stop at the Christmas department (yes there is a whole year-round department dedicated to Christmas). I think you can tell by his expression that my little man is going to have the same wide-eyed wonder I still feel every time I hear festive music and see twinkly lights. We LOVE Christmas in this house.


I’ve written about it before, but it never gets old. Said dal 1923 is the last word in hot chocolate. It is the BEST hot chocolate of any place in the world (and yes it blows Burdick’s in Boston out of the water, though rumour has it Angelina’s in Paris is pretty fab, and I’ve yet to try that so stay tuned). The hot chocolate is so rich and thick and it comes with three kinds of hot chocolate poured over the edge. As if that wasn’t enough, this place also serves the best carrot cake (I owe this to the fact that their recipe excludes nutmeg, which I have a completely unwarranted personal vendetta against). Double win for Said dal 1923.


Finally, there is Carnaby Street itself. Just off of Regency street, this dazzling little side road is full of fun shops and restaurants. Nighttime is when it really shines (usually literally). This year the theme is Bohemian Rhapsody and every few feet there are giant neon signs overhead with Queen’s lyrics. What’s great about Carnaby is you get that colourful buzz that Soho offers, but in a way that is a lot more family friendly.


I do love London. It was a short but lovely trip made much more complicated by the fact I am still exclusively express-feeding Ezra. It’s one of those things you just don’t think about until you’re faced with it—the need to find a private, quiet space with an outlet in the middle of London. So far, the best place I’ve found is at Westfield Mall (which isn't even really in central London). They have several parent lounges there that are fantastic. They are quiet little private rooms with armchairs, outlets, and even a low screen with cartoons on it for kids. The only perplexing part is that there are no locks on the doors (I remedied this by wedging a stool behind the sliding door). Still, it is by far the best option I’ve discovered so far.

Love you London! Til next time...





30 October 2018

Halloween Bee


Say hello to the sleepiest wobbly, bobbly little bumble bee! He was (in my very biased opinion) the bee of the ball at our Halloween Housewarming party.

For the last couple of weeks, he’s been helping me put together our house before having a few friends over to celebrate. We managed to pull it all together at the eleventh hour (for reals, how does it take so long to get settled into a new house??). I’ll admit, I’ve been feeling a bit anxious about this party. Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert naturally, so parties are already a minefield. Maybe its because its the first time since we’ve lived in the UK where we have lived in a place big enough to host (so it felt like a huge deal!). Whatever the reason, the memory of Jon’s and my very first dinner party has been rolling around in my head for the past two weeks like the ghost of terrible parties past.

Back then, we were newlyweds and had just moved into our apartment in New York. We decided to have a pizza party and, in a classic rookie move, bought all the ingredients before actually inviting people over. All of our plan A, B and C guests declined. We were super broke at the time so we felt like we had to see it through as we might not be able to host again for awhile, so we were practically begging random people we knew to come eat our pizza. The result was a bizarre guest list and an evening of social awkwardness that rivalled a pre-teen school dance. Genuinely, Jon and I laugh-cringe whenever we think of it because it was bad on so many levels.

Luckily, THIS party was much more of a success. The guests were great, the food was yummy, and it was a good time all around.


Initially Jon and I had planned on very obscure Harry Potter themed costumes. Here’s a description… see if you can guess what we were going for: 

Jon would go with round glasses, a lightening bolt scar, and a bathrobe. I would dress up, also with round glasses, and wear low pigtails and greyish Ravenclaw robes. Ezra would be completely decked out in gold from head to toe. 

Any ideas? No? Well you probably aren’t alone. (This is the scene we were going for, in case you were wondering: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK6sRDBU0K0) 

Fortunately my mother saved us from ourselves by sending the world’s fluffiest bumble bee costume! It was clear we needed to rework the theme as soon as I saw it on Ezra, so we opted to go as flowers.


Even the food turned out pretty well, even if my mummy pizzas looked more like pock-marked zombies than their bandaged cousins— but oh well! Still scary right?

The stand out gastronomic star of the evening was the wassail, which—I gotta admit—was kind of surprising to me. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the stuff, but I severely underestimated its popularity. It was a new drink for all our guests, so maybe is a uniquely American beverage? For all those that asked, here’s the recipe:

Wassail Recipe

2 cups cloudy apple juice
1 cup orange juice
2 cinnamon herbal tea bags

Combine juices in saucepan and heat on til you have a gentle simmer. Turn down to low and add tea bags. Let steep for several minutes before serving in mugs.

(Left to right, Back: Greg, Mary, Tom, Laura, Lauren, Avery, Sophie, Byron; Front: Me, Ezra, Jon)

For one of the games we played we had all our guests send us facts about themselves that few people knew. It is amazing the things you learn about people when you ask that question! People have so much inside of them that you’d never guess. It was a great reminder that every person is unique and amazing.

One final (completely random) happy note: I tried on my pre-pregnancy jeans today for the first time AND THEY FIT. I’ve been too scared to try them on previously, so it pretty much made my week. Anyway, I’m off to celebrate with way more candy than is good for me. Happy Halloween!

23 October 2018

Pancakes + Pumpkins



This year Jon and I have celebrated two important anniversaries: In September it was 10 years since we first met (at a Pancake Breakfast Party) and on Halloween it will be 8 years since we started dating. 

Our friends Serena and Robin—partly by inspiration, and partly by chance—ended up throwing the most fitting party to celebrate these two occasions: a Pancake and Pumpkin Party, and it was absolute perfection.  


The party was at their flat, which is exactly the kind of space I always imagined English homes would be like. It is this beautifully quirky flat with high ceilings, enormous paned windows, white-washed plaster walls, an antique fireplace and a lovely little orient-inspired garden in the back. It was on the rental market about the same time Jon and I were looking for our new place, and, if we had known it existed, we 100% would have snatched it out from under them (all is fair in love and real estate?). It really is the loveliest space and seems to really jibe Serena’s design aesthetic. She’s done a great job with it.


Anyway, the pancakes—which, in England, actually mean crepes, and not the fluffy griddlecake we eat in the states (a fact I’m always surprised and grateful about)—were delicious. Robin is a fab cook. The only thing better than the food was the company. Besides us and our hosts, there were our friends Byron + Sophie (+ baby Avery) and other friends Sara + Aaron. We played games for a couple of hours until we left to go pick pumpkins. 



Sara seems to be a bit of a baby whisperer as Ezra had one of his most chilled out days this day and a pretty healthy chunk of it was spent on her lap.



A quick interruption (mostly for my own record): Jon is brilliant and discovered that Ezra is the perfect heigh to use the sofa as a balance. Ezra’s a happy camper, his balance is improving, and my back feels less like it is about to snap in two. At 14 weeks, he’s still a bit wobbly, and he can only stand in place, but (as you can see from the pic) he loves it. 



Anyway, back to the party….

I’ve been wanting to visit a pumpkin patch for the last couple of years. Maybe it is all that autumnal Instagram-worthy goodness or maybe there is something in me that just loves a good patch of pumpkins. I remember when I was around nine or ten I became a little bit obsessed with growing giant pumpkins after finding a book in the library about it. As October arrived, I carefully slit the stems of my pumpkins and pushed through a wick with the other end in a bowl of sugar water. Apparently, this should have made them enormous. It didn’t. However, the ants loved it. 

Whatever it is is about pumpkins sure feeds the soul (and my tummy when Thanksgiving finally gets here). It was Sophie’s idea we head to Farrington to the pumpkin patch there and it couldn’t have been better. Afterward, we headed to Aaron and Sara’s house for hot chocolate and more games. 







By the end of the day I had learned 5 things:

First, crepes win over fluffy pancakes.

Second, I discovered my first chip butty (buttered bread sandwich with chips [fries] inside—it sounds heinous but is ridiculously delicious).

Third, my heart must be the shape of a pumpkin, I love them so much.

Fourth, I learned that Jon is an English-county-naming-savant (also an aspiring exotic dancer—which isn’t new, just always surprising when it comes out in public).

And finally, I learned that pancakes + pumpkins + pals = perfection. I think this one might need to be a new tradition.