London Day Six: Shakespeare Play at The Globe

On our last night in London, we went to see As You Like It at Shakespeare’s Globe.

It amazes me how words written hundreds of years ago can still fill a building and get an audience laughing out loud, cheering, and dancing. And it reminded me too how powerful and lasting words can be.

We’ve always wanted to see Shakespeare in London and it was the perfect way to end our trip.

Now we’re home — recovering from jetlag, babies in our arms. Time alone with Darren is magic and I’m so thankful we got away and got to explore such a beautiful city together. And though I’m a little sad the adventure is over, I can’t tell you how good it is to be home with my littles again. Now we just need to seek out the love and adventures to be had right here.

Thanks for reading along; I had fun sharing our trip with you. If you missed any of the posts in this London series you can read them all by clicking the links below ūüėä

London Day One: Kensington Gardens // Hyde Park // Buckingham Palace // The Strand

London Day Two: The British Museum // Westminster

London Day Three: Piccadilly // Trafalgar Square // The Phantom of the Opera

London Days Four and Five: Windsor Castle // Stonehenge // Oxford

London Day Three: Piccadilly // Trafalgar Square // The Phantom of the Opera

After gallavanting all over the city for the first two days, we crashed in our room and swore to never walk again. Darren came up with the last minute idea to see The Phantom of the Opera the next day partly because it’s something we’ve always wanted to do but mostly because it involved sitting down ūüėÜ

I needed to find something to wear because I’m a ripped jeans and t-shirt kind of girl and that’s all I packed so we ran into H&M where I found the perfect dress. I’d been admiring all the beautiful, classy British clothes ever since we stepped off the plane so dressing up was half the fun.

When Darren and I met in college, he was working stage crew and the first photo I had of him (though I can’t find it now ūüė≠) he was dressed in a Shakespearean outfit with one of those ruffly lace up shirts and breeches…no wonder I fell in love with him ūüėÜ

The school has a great fine arts program and puts on operas and Shakespeare plays every year. Our first date and the first photo I have of us together is at one of these productions. So many of our memories from dating and falling in love wrap around our days in school and all the plays and programs we sat through together.

So last night felt extra special…like being on one of those early dates in college all over again. Though I must admit, we always loved the Shakespeare plays but ALWAYS fought through the operas. I am happy to report we made it through last night’s opera without an argument and that is a first ūüėĀ

If you’re ever in London and only have time or money for one thing, The Phantom of the Opera should be that thing. YOU GUYS. It was incredible. Pretty sure I sat on the edge of my seat with my mouth hanging open for the entire 2 1/2 hour production ūüėĄ

We’re only halfway through our trip but I’m having a hard time imagining how anything will top that night.

Before the opera, we had a few extra minutes and decided to walk around Trafalgar Square. Piccadilly and the square are lively with tons of people walking around exploring and enjoying the city vibes. The best part for me — sneaking a kiss and admiring all the beauty around me.

Sometimes, on vacation, you eat dessert for lunch ūüėä

If you’d like to see the previous posts in this London series click the links below:

London Day One: Kensington Gardens // Hyde Park // Buckingham Palace // The Strand

London Day Two: The British Museum // Westminster

London Day One: Kensington Gardens // Hyde Park // Buckingham Palace // The Strand

We landed in London yesterday to celebrate our 10th anniversary a few weeks early. Here are a few pictures and memories from our first day (follow along throughout the next week if you’d like to see more ūüėä).

Life rushes by if you let it. This season of parenting little ones is intense and I often find myself longing for a pause button or a slower rhythm to our days — time enough to enjoy food and coffee hot, to consume a few pages of a book, to carry on a conversation about more than the logistics of the day.

Sometimes you have to get away for a minute, to breathe new air and catch your breath. That’s what this week in London is for us. We celebrate our marriage and the years we’ve shared with sleeping in and waking up slowly, walking hand in hand through places we’ve never been (isn’t that what all of marriage is?), savoring uninterrupted conversations and the time to really see and enjoy each other again outside the normal hustle of our everyday.

You can’t be on vacation forever. Soon, we’ll head home and back into the busy routine of life with work and littles. And I’ll be glad to be back, glad to have my babies in my arms, and glad all the more because we found the time to step away, recalibrate, and come back refreshed and ready for all the normal days that build our normal, beautiful lives.

KENSINGTON GARDENS //

I took about a million billion pictures of petals and flowers today. I never imagined London, a busy, bustling city, to be so brimming with life and color.

I’ll need an English rose garden of my own now, I think.

HYDE PARK //

We walked miles today, not just through Hyde Park but several others too. I simply couldn’t believe how many sprawling green spaces there are here. I’ve always been a country girl but how fun city life would be in a place like this with so much green throughout.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE //

THE STRAND //

We grabbed dinner on “The Strand”– enjoying each bite slowly and soaking up the conversation in between.

Goodnight for now. More adventures to be had tomorrow ‚̧

The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Exploring the City with Littles

1495044412744Because of where we live, most of our out-of-town visitors want to see the cities near us while they’re here. Daytrips to Boston and NYC used to require no more planning than how to get around on the train and where to eat. But adding a child to that equation changed things quite a bit and we’ve learned a few lessons along the way about tackling cities with a little one in tow.

IMG_20170507_104639_988So far, we’ve walked Kansas City, Boston, Quebec, and NYC with our little guy along for the ride (literally, he has no idea how lucky he is to be carried everywhere lol).

Because we love traveling and also think kids are all right (I’m 7 months into making another one so they must not be too bad) I’m always on the lookout for ways to make trips with children easier and more enjoyable.

img_20170207_091752236.jpgOur little guy has traveled with us by car, plane, train, boat,¬†and in all kinds of carriers as we’ve explored on foot. Here’s what I’ve learned about city adventures with little ones so far; I hope this helps if/when you take on a family adventure of your own :]

Keep in mind that I’m speaking only from my own experience with one child who we’ve traveled with from 1 month up to 3 years. Every child is different so what works for us at a certain stage may just make your kid cranky or angry—hopefully not, but you know, every kid is different ;]

Newborn to One Year: {Baby sling/Carrier}

When our guy was a baby up to about a year old, the easiest, most comfortable way to go anywhere with him was holding him close in a baby sling (I prefer the Moby wrap) or a baby carrier (I prefer the Ergo, Darren the Baby Bjorn). He would snuggle in close and either watch the world contentedly or sleep. Carrying him also saved us the hassle of a bulky stroller in congested spaces like the subway or busy sidewalks.

mobycity1

Toddlers Stage 1 to 4 Years: {Backpack Carrier}

Once Roman outgrew the baby carriers (sad day) we started looking for another way to carry him with us minus a stroller and without actually having to hold him in our arms all day (that ain’t going to work, trust me). We ended up trying a backpack carrier and fortunately both Darren and Roman love it most of the time (it’s too heavy for me to wear except for short periods). We use a Chicco carrier and it has worked great for us so far.

IMG_20170507_105900_904One lesson learned about this kind of carrier though—after a whole day on your feet in the city, these do still get heavy and uncomfortable. We spent the day in NYC this past weekend and were both regretting not bringing a small umbrella type stroller as a backup plan.

moose

While carrying Roman on our backs was perfect for navigating the train, busy streets, and ferry, it was totally exhausting. And Roman got tired of being in there after a while and ended up in our arms anyway. So if you’re planning a full day on your feet, I definitely recommend bringing a small stroller as well—something that folds up flat for trains and easily opens with one hand if possible. We use an Urbini and it’s fine (though I wouldn’t say great).

Diaper Bag and Supplies:

Figuring out how to carry your kid is one thing; figuring out how to carry all their stuff is another thing all together :]

I’ve tried all kinds of bags while out walking (sling, shoulder, backpack) and found the most comfortable is definitely a backpack because this distributes the weight across both shoulders instead of just one.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Carry as little with you as possible. While it’s nice to be prepared, it’s not so nice carrying an overly heavy load or jostling through an overstuffed bag when you need something. Bring what you think you’ll use as far as diapers, wipes, change of clothes, drinks, snacks, etc. but try to use travel size when possible and keep in mind that if you run out of something, you can almost certainly buy more where you are.
  • Only bring one bag: Along the same line of not carrying too much, don’t try bringing a separate purse for yourself. Grab your wallet and whatever bare necessities you need with you for the day and combine them into the bag you carry for baby.
  • Bring your own drinks and snacks: You and your littles are going to get thirsty and hungry and buying drinks and snacks in the city adds up fast. Save your money for activities or an actual meal and avoid the $5 bottles of water and bags of chips.
  • Wear¬†comfortable shoes! City walking, especially when you’re carrying a child or backpack all day, is hard work. Your feet are going to hurt. So while it’s nice to be cute, try to be cute and as comfortable as possible. I’ve started throwing an extra pair of shoes/socks in the bag so I have the option to change if my feet really start to hurt.
  • Dress your child comfortably: Again, I know its fun to put your kids in cute outfits, especially when you’re out and about. But keep in mind that your child is going to be bundled into some kind of carrier all day and exposed to whatever weather you’re out in. The softer and more comfortable their clothes, the happier they’ll be. I put Roman in a button under onesie so his shirt doesn’t ride up and a soft pair of pants/shorts. If it’s cold, I put a pair of footie pajamas under his outfit so no skin is exposed where his pants ride up at the ankle. Keep in mind too that you’ll be changing diapers in all kinds of weird places if changing tables aren’t available so the easier the outfit is to get them in and out of, the better.

Anyway, I hope these ideas help and I hope you take lots of adventures with your families. While kids do complicate things, they also add a lot of joy and laughter and it’s so fun watching the world through their eyes. I’ll never forget Roman’s face when we stepped out of the subway and he saw all the lights in Time’s Square for the first time—totally made the craziness of bringing him with us worth it ‚̧

IMG_20170507_105245_933

Qu√©bec City: A Photo Journal

We slipped away to Quebec City to celebrate our anniversary. I think of Canada and Canadians as cousins and neighbors, so I was surprised with how completely French Quebec is. Everything felt very foreign and we, very lost. But what’s the fun of travel and adventures if you don’t feel a little lost and foreign every now and then?

lost

We’re learning that however long a road trip should take, it will most certainly take longer with a toddler. Sometimes you have to pull the car over and let wild things be wild. After a good long run through the grass and a proper sward fight with sticks, our wild one was ready to complete his first trip in another country.

wild

We arrived in the evening and spent an hour getting the room set up for Roman to sleep in a new place without burning anything down ;] I sat in the living room watching Darren on the baby monitor lying on the floor on a mattress with Roman tucked into him falling asleep. It had been a long day driving 10 hours from home. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, having spent our anniversary with a rowdy toddler in the backseat screaming off and on the entire trip.

And then I watched my husband being the amazing father that he is; watched him snuggle our son close¬†in¬†his arms until he felt safe¬†enough to fall asleep in a new place. And I realized¬†that¬†this is what¬†marriage and parenting are all about—about road trips made longer and louder by little ones but more magical¬†and memorable¬†because of¬†them too. About learning to love each other and find ways to celebrate and seek adventure even when it might be easier to¬†just stay home. I lucked out on the boys in my life, no doubt about it.

I’m usually well prepared for our trips but Quebec surprised me at every turn.¬†¬†It was cold, much colder than I ever imagined a place could be in July. I wore my one long-sleeved shirt every day and drank hot coffee as much for the comfort of drinking it as having the hot cup to warm my hands.

coffee

Our first day in the city, we pushed Roman in his stroller, not realizing that Quebec is basically all uphill and every shop entrance has steps up into it…we got a good workout and Roman got a sweet ride :] The next day we smartened up and hauled Roman around in a backpack carrier instead—still a workout but a little more manageable on hilly cobblestone streets :]

The giant toy moose, or “foof”, travels with us everywhere :]

I love walking cities and feeling the culture of the people living and playing out before me in the sound of foreign language and the smell of food and coffee and cigarette smoke a little different from our own. Quebec was full of inspiration in the architecture and the way small, simple spaces were made even more beautiful by plants, flower boxes, and bright pops of color.

windows

plants

We walked around eating crepes and getting lost on streets that seemed to wind endlessly one into the other.

DSC_1171

donutAnd of course no trip to Canada is complete without about 37 trips to Tim Hortons :] We ended each day back at the apartment with a pastry and a hot cup of coffee—which is quite hard to order when you don’t speak French; we were surprised every day with what kind of coffee we ended up with but it was always good :] It was a fun trip and a sweet little getaway with my two favorite boys ‚̧

Look Up

We just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, Darren and I. We sat trying to decide how to celebrate. All either of us wanted was to get away for a few days—away from work, and house remodeling, and life’s routine. We talked about Quebec City or Acadia or Niagara Falls. And we talked about fresh air, and crisp river water, and camp fires beneath the stars. And that’s when we decided camping would¬†be the very best celebration this year. So we packed, and¬†goodness, I’m amazed how much stuff it takes for us Americans to¬†sleep on the¬†ground properly. This was Roman’s first time camping in a tent and it takes as much stuff for one baby as it does for 8 adults¬†I think. You should have seen our car, loaded down with tent, and pack n play, and bike rack, and a million other things to help nature out with our high maintenance ways. And then¬†we were off, up to Vermont,¬†to the woods and river and biking trails—up away from work and routine and all that wears us down these days. The sky was playing games and just starting to spit rain when we arrived. We moved fast, taunting nature back, and got our tent up just before the heavy rain came. We stay huddled together in our tent that evening watching Roman run from one¬†end of the small space to¬†the other. We made sandwiches for dinner and went to bed as soon as it was dark,¬†listening to the sound of the rain beating against our¬†little shelter¬†all night long like a song. setup DSC_0468 We woke to a cool, foggy morning. We and everything else felt damp but how good it¬†was to wake up with the sun and our baby boy snuggled between us on the floor.¬†A crackling campfire was built and soon red potatoes and kale were cooking for breakfast. DSC_0330 I like the pace of nature and our pace in nature when we work with instead of against the morning light, and dew, and cool air wrapping around us before the heat of the day comes and pushes us back inside. So we took our time that morning, tasting our breakfast not just eating it. We took sauntering walks and breezy bike rides and looked at each other, not past to the next item of business.¬†DSC_0763bikecarrierDSC_0815 DSC_0817 We filled our hearts, and lungs, and minds with all the good thing of nature and quiet time together. We held hands and held our son and snuggled close together around campfires at night. DSC_0436 One night, our last night, I walked back to our tent alone in the dark. I thought about the¬†sweet days we¬†had enjoyed and was sad to see¬†them ending.¬†I¬†tried to soak up everything around me¬†one last time–the smell of the woods, sound of the river, feel of the night air¬†wrapping around me—and the stars, I thought—don’t forget to look up at the stars one last time for they look nothing like this back home with all the other lights hiding them. So I looked up¬†at the night sky and all the millions and billions of tiny light freckles¬†poking through from heaven to earth. How enchanting the night sky is and how mysterious. When I got back to the tent, Darren¬†traded watching Roman with me and started to walk the dark path himself. I told him, “Don’t forget to look up” —and off he went with¬†eyes to the sky. I watched him walk away and heard those words echo back to me in my head— “Don’t forget to look up.” momandrome DSC_0417 Don’t forget to look up. I have thought about that phrase many times over the last two weeks since camping. I’ve thought about it when the waves of life have washed our feet out from under us and¬†brought us humbly to our knees. I’ve thought about those words when I’ve grown overwhelmed or discouraged and can’t find my way. Don’t forget to look up—not just to the stars, but to the God who made the stars. Look up to the God whose light shines through to us, not just in a million freckled bits of light but in our hearts and lives every day. Look up to the God who is present and in control and loves us even when we think perhaps he has forgotten. Don’t forget to look up—first, always,¬†to the God who is there in every bit of light in the world, for he and he alone is¬†The Light of the world. Look up.

Motherhood is Good

IMG_20141112_195626

There are two things you hear a lot when people find out you’re pregnant: “Kids are so much fun!” and “Your life is about to change” (dunn, dunn, dunnnnn). Both are true but the second probably doesn’t need to be said. I haven’t met anyone yet expecting a child¬†who doesn’t already know–deeply, profoundly–that their life is about to change.

I remember standing in the bathroom early that Saturday morning waiting for the words “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant” to look back at me from that life altering little stick. I bought the fancy pants test just to be sure and it estimated how many weeks I had been pregnant too…3+ it said…so not only was I pregnant, I had been pregnant for nearly a month without realizing it at all. No one needed to knock on the bathroom door at that early weekend hour and tell me life was about to change, maybe remind me how to breathe, tell me it’s going to be ok, but the rest I already knew.

I snuck back in our bedroom all cool and casual-like, no big deal just a baby on board. Darren was still asleep so I sat the test on my nightstand and slipped back under the covers. When Darren got up I moved the test to his pillow and waited for him to come back. His face, his words, I’ll never forget. We were both happy. We wanted this. We spent the rest of the morning talking fast and excited about this amazing thing happening right before us.

Even with our joy and desire for this baby, there was still an almost suffocating sense of, “are we really doing this?” The feeling of no going back and the absolute permanence of change in our lives was undeniable. Even if we lost the baby, just having been pregnant and falling in love with a baby we wanted would leave us changed. There was simply no way to go back to who we were before that moment. And thankfully, no such loss happened. On a hot, sticky, middle of the summer day our long-anticipated baby boy was born. And certainly, after meeting him and holding him in our arms, a new level of change occurred and we knew¬†again that no matter what happened from there, we would never be the people we were before that moment.

I used to be scared of this change; sometimes I still am. I am finding with each step into motherhood that the ominous warnings remain. Just wait, they say…

Until he teeths

Crawls

Walks

And a million other stepping-stones along the way.

And though I’m sure they don’t really mean it this way, I sometimes hear in each warning…

It gets harder

It gets worse

You’ll never be good enough

But though I am only a little over six months into this parenting journey and certainly realize how very much I have yet to learn, I want to say something:

Motherhood is good.

Yes, it’s hard.

Yes, it’s exhausting.

Yes, sometimes I lose my temper, get frustrated, overwhelmed, sometimes I cry, feel lonely.

But there are so many other times when my heart is full to overflowing. Truly, I have never been so happy or at peace in my whole life. I love being a mom. And I love being a mom even when it’s hard. A week ago I was up all night with a crying baby. I held him, paced his nursery floor, cried, prayed…nothing changed. I took him to the doctor the next morning and found out he had an ear infection. That was a hard night followed by a hard day but somehow it was also incredibly fulfilling. Do I like staying up all night with a crying baby? No. But¬†I do¬†love being a mother who can hold and comfort her child when he’s hurting.

I didn’t realize before I become a mother that somehow all those hard times would actually be some of the most beautiful opportunities to enter in to loving another person and growing as a person myself. I didn’t know how satisfying it would be. I was afraid of the warnings and the change because I didn’t have the knowledge of just how oddly good those hard times can be. I’m learning not to be afraid of the “just wait” and the “it gets harder.” I’m learning that even though motherhood is hard, the hard parts are also some of the best parts and there’s nothing to dread. I wouldn’t exchange that night of pacing his nursery floor for anything; not because I’m a martyr but because I got hold to him and love him and be¬†his mother.

Sometimes I think people (probably unintentionally) make motherhood sound too hard, almost daunting. Yes, of course it’s hard, but I wish we heard more about how wonderful it is. I mean, truly wonderful. Satisfying. Fulfilling. Beautiful. Joyful. Magical. Heart so full of love its going to explode.

You might be surprised by just how easy motherhood is in so many ways :]

The Wild Blue Sea

Baby Boy, you saw the ocean for the first time this week, heard the music of the tide pulling on and off the shore. You felt the briny air on your soft baby skin and watched the evening sun melt into the waves. I hope Darling, that your heart and soul and mind are as deep and wide and wild as the deep blue sea.

untitled2

untitled

10681867_10152330953156517_1911482959_n

10617558_10152330928251517_1580390092_n edit1

10704767_10152330929146517_1787029142_n edit2

 

“All good things are wild and free.” –Henry David Thoreau

Summer Baby

 

10457839_10152233704246517_5695941614786776274_n

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” -Victor Hugo

My boys. My world.

us together

I don’t want to let go of summer.¬†Nature is working against me though and already fall is willfully inching in around us. It’s a perfectly crisp 70 degrees out right now and I’m sitting here sipping my first pumpkin latte of the season. The Pats are playing tonight and there is very little that makes me as happy as the beginning of football season. Today when I went walking around the block, I noticed the first leaves beginning to change and glide to the ground. Normally I’m excited about all these fallish things—it’s my favorite time of year and I’m usually ready by now for riding boots and cider donuts.

But not this year. This year I¬†want to hold on forever to the green, sunshiny season when my baby was born and I was reborn as a mother. Already six weeks have passed since he came into our lives and I’m afraid he’ll be all grown up by the time the last leaves fly¬†and this summer—this most transformational of summers—will be done, gone, and forgotten in a blink.

So I’m holding on. Holding on to my summer baby and the sunshiny season when he was born.

This week I started taking him for walks around the block in his stroller. I’ve mostly been holed up in the house since he was born because it still feels like a bit of an ordeal trying to leave the house with a newborn. But you can only stay inside drinking espresso and watching Netflix for so long before you start to go a little cray cray. So we walk and explore and breathe in all that wonderful fresh air…and we don’t go crazy…it’s a win win.

DSC_0514

We stop all along the way and snap pictures of whatever pretty summer things we can find.

DSC_0506png

Wild flowers

orange Collagepng

And herbs going to seed

DSC_0543png

And colorful bushes and leaves

DSC_0525png

It rained last night and today the air was filled with the fresh, clean smell of wet pine needles. Big billowy whipped cream clouds went floating along and the sky was that perfect cobalt blue that follows after the rain. These are the days I want to remember. These summer days when my baby is tiny and happiest curled up tight in my arms. These days when I’m a brand new mommy and me and this baby are seeing the world together for the first time—he truly has never seen it before and I somehow see it all so differently now that he’s here.

These are the days, the perfect summer days that I want to remember forever.

IMG_20140725_110416630

 A fresh little bud in my garden, With petals close folded from view,

Brightly nods me a cheery “Good morning” Through the drops of a fresh bath of dew.

I must patiently wait its unfolding, Tho’ I long its full beauty to see;

Leave soft breeze and warm, tender sunshine To perform the sweet office for me.

I may shield my fair baby blossom; With trellis its weakness uphold;

With nourishment wisely sustain it, And cherish its pure heart of gold.

Then in good time, which is God’s time, Developed by sunshine and shower,

Some morning I’ll find in the garden Where my bud was, a beautiful flower.

–The poem, Mother’s Garden¬†¬†

bellyCollage

The Perfect Date

Here we are, about to make the leap from two to three—from you and me to mom and dad. We’re soaking up the time we have left together before life is forever changed. Last night I asked you what your idea of a perfect date would be—you talked about the ocean and the water, about the beach and boats—and if you could really truly do anything…a few days away in the Caribbean. You asked me the same—what the perfect date would be. I talked about camping under the stars, sitting by the fire at night, biking, hiking, and tubing—that would be the perfect date for me.

We can’t go far from home right now—not with this baby ready to come whenever he pleases. So there will be no Caribbean vacations or nights in a tent under the stars—not right now at least.

But today we found a way to spend time together—outside, on the water…combining what bits and pieces we could of our ideal date ideas. We rented a canoe and took off together down the river—soaking up the sun and the breeze and the stillness of the water—and more than anything, the time together away from everything else.

PicMonkey Summer CollagePanorama 1PicMonkey Collage Row

Water Panorama

Baby Belly Crop

Food Collage

Ice cream and lemonade from the corner store. Burgers and fries from our favorite burger stand. And homemade strawberry¬†limeades when we were sunburnt and ready to call it a day—I would call it a perfect day, a perfect date, and a perfect day with you.

Kiss Monkey B&WIn a few days we celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary—just two days before our baby is due. Thank you darling, for the best six years of my life. It won’t always be just me and you but you—you will always be my favorite.

Us Monkey B&W