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 šŸ˜Š

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 šŸ˜†

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 šŸ˜­) 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 šŸ˜†

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 šŸ˜

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 šŸ˜„

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 šŸ˜Š

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 Two: The British Museum // Westminster

I always wanted to be an archaeologist growing up — I even looked into several programs when deciding what to do for college.

And I still love old stuff today — the feel of an old book in my hands, quality leather goods over cheaper alternatives, the vintage typewriter I keep beside the laptop reminding me to keep my writing rooted in something deeper than today’s trends and fashions.

So when we were talking about where to go for our anniversary, London topped my list for one big reason — The British Museum.

For the last four years I’ve worked my way through the Old Testament using an Archaeology Study Bible that gives insight into the culture and history surrounding the Biblical narrative.

One day after getting lost in the story of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire, I noticed something — All the artifacts mentioned are housed in The British Museum — and I knew I had to see them with my own eyes.

Also we took approximately 37,000 selfies and upon review I learned two things: I don’t smile enough and Darren has no idea where to look at my camera; we’ll work on both šŸ˜‰

4,000 year old door from Egypt making all my Indiana Jones dreams come true ā¤

The Rosetta Stone

What I was most excited to see — the Babylonian exhibit and the Ishtar gate…I kinda geeked out a little bit šŸ˜

WESTMINSTER //

After the museum, we decided to walk around Westminster for a bit. Unfortunately Big Ben and Parliament were under construction and I wasn’t able to get many pics but it was still a fun area to walk around.

London is enchanting and there’s certainly lots more to come ā¤

If you’d like to read the previous post in this series check out the link below:

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

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 šŸ˜Š).

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 ā¤

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

Overflowing.

I haven’t thought a thingĀ about resolutions this year because IĀ feel there is nothing in the whole world I could possibly want right now. I feel full to the brim and overflowing. I feel like my heart will burst and to want anything more than whatĀ I already have is just plain greedy.

2013 was a bright, beautiful year for me and Darren. Not every year is of course. Actually, the last two or three years before it have been pretty tiring and blah and perhaps that is part of why this past year stood out as such a happy one for us.

Sometimes I’m afraid to talk about the good things in my life—the things I’m most thankful for—becauseĀ I don’t want to sound like a braggart or someone who has absolutely everything. No one I know enjoys being around someone like that so instead I tend to focus on the hard things in order to be real and relatable, in order to let others know that our lives aren’t perfect and we do truly understand what others are going through. But right now I feel that not being thankful and mentioning the good things would be the exact opposite of real and relatable—we have much to be thankful for and to pretend otherwise would be a little dishonest.

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Before this year, I had gotten to a place where I knew certain things in my life needed to change but I couldn’t see any end in sight to the way things were. It was quite depressing, actually—struggling through each day as it rolled in exactly the same as the one before and wondering if there would ever be any way out. I was exhausted and lonely and struggling along but didn’t know how to make any real changes. I felt like the way things were was just exactly how they had to be and how they would always remain.

I started reading about the children of Israel wandering through the wilderness, hoping I would find something to encourage and carry me through what felt like a private wilderness experience. I felt parched, dried up andĀ alone in the desert.

But this year some light broke through and things started to change. I know that real change needs to be internal not circumstantial. But sometimes when you’re drowning, all you really need is to be pulled to shore before you sink completely. This year anchored me and pulled my head above water—it feels really good to breathe again.

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First of all,Ā in April Darren and I bought anĀ old colonial house needing a little love. The most important thing about this house is its location—in the country, close to the woods, wrapped around by trees. Both Darren and I grew up in the country and I don’t think either of us realized how much we would miss the land and the woods. We’ve lived in town ever since we moved to Massachusetts five years ago but have been hopingĀ ever since thenĀ that we would be able to buy a home of our own in the country.

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{Wild flowers Darren picked for me in our new yard}

IĀ grew up in a place that was a little bit magical—though I didnā€™t know it at the time. In the country, in the woods, close to the landā€¦that is where I was shaped and made into who I am. I left the woods behind and took off as fast as I could for Massachusetts and all the excitement of the coast and the cities out east. I like it here in New England; itā€™s a lovely place to live.

But I miss the woods. I miss the wheat fieldsā€”the golden stalks turned pink and orange in the late afternoon sun. I miss the vastness, the endless rolling hills of crops. I miss the grass and dirt beneath my bare feet. I miss the rhythm of life lived close to the land. I miss having enough time and attention to notice the palette of colors used by the sun in painting the earth awake and asleep each day. I miss how bright and clear the stars were over the fields at night, unobstructed by the lights down here, enchanted by the lights up there.

All these things got into my blood and my soul, and though I left them behind, they wonā€™t leave me alone. I canā€™t find my place, my peace, my sense of balance without them.

I donā€™t know that Iā€™ll ever make it back to the plains or the prairies where Iā€™m from but Iā€™ve known for a long time now that I absolutely must find my way back to the woods. And this shabby colonial of ours is just exactly what we’veĀ needed to do that.

Knowing that soon our days spent sharing a duplex and yard right on the road will end and we’ll be able to settle into our first single family home with our own private back yard is just about too much…I. Am. So. Excited. and so, so thankful. When I get frustrated and discouraged about where we are I’m encouraged by knowing there’s end in sight and soon we’ll be back in the woods where we belong.

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{Still waters found on a walk through the woods near our new house}

Here we will have a place to plant a garden and a yard to walk around in. We’ll be able to raise our kids close to the land which is so very important to both of us. We’ll be able to see the stars at night and watch theĀ sun cast its brilliant rays across the fields at sunset. I think we’ll both breathe again and feel like we’re really living the way we’re meant to, just the way our souls were put together and intended to get along. It’s a huge gift and I’m so thankful.

House Grid

In June we went to Europe—Europe! This was not just a fancy vacation for us—it was a giant adventure we had both hoped for since our teens. We wanted to see the world, experience different cultures andĀ see what people so different from us are like.

From Spain to France, ItalyĀ to Croatia and on to England we were able journey and explore. We rode trains and ferries and shared a taxi with strangers from other countries. We jumped in the Mediterranean and Adriatic and wound in a bus up the Amalfi Coast past lemon groves and rooftop gardens.

We walked and walked…through Pompeii, Sicily, Venice, Marseilles, Rome…on and on until we collapsed in bed each night…exhausted but happy.

We drank the best coffee in BarcelonaĀ and ate scrumptious pizza while we sat on the curb waiting for the train in Pisa. We found that people all over the world areĀ kind and friendly and willing to help when you are lost and confused and don’t speak the language.

It was magic and I’ll never ever forget what it felt like to be lost and found at the same time stomping around the globe and seeing the world with my own two eyes.

Europe Grid

Finally, in the fall my sneaking suspicion that a baby was on the way was confirmed. I’ve known for a long time thatĀ I wanted toĀ stay home and raise a family. Though I’ve enjoyed the years I’ve spent working outside the home and am thankful for the skills and experience I’ve gained, I’ve always looked forward to the day when I could wholly focus on raising a family instead.

Maybe some people will think less of me for choosing housework and a baby on my hip over a career at a growing company—that’s fine—we don’t all have to be the same or want the same things. I want to stay home, cook meals from my garden, and raise a houseful of munchkins and I’m thankful we’re finally on theĀ roadĀ to starting a family of our own.

I’m sure there will be days when I wonder what on earth I was thinking and will wish for high heels and the office. But ultimately, I know my heart and soul are most settled at home—this is the place where I’m most gifted and centered and I’m ready to make the trade for this new life—however difficult and exhausting it may sometimes be.

Travels Grid

{Moments from our year}

ā€œFor everything there is a season, and a timeĀ for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace

ā€¦

He has made everything beautiful in its time.ā€

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 & 11

I’m thankful for a year of much-needed change that helped refresh our spirits and renew our focus. I’m thankful too that life is all about seasons and that nothing is forever.Ā I’ve enjoyed this season of our lives and look forward to the seasons to come. Thank you for sharing the past year with us; I’m looking forward to sharing this new year with you too :]

London, England

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Our very last stop in Europe was London. We were excited. Darren had been to London before and wanted to show me around. They speak English {obviously} so we figured it would be easier to know what was going on. We had navigated our way all over Italy by train so we figured England would be easy.

And yet…the minute we walked through customs and stepped into England, we were lost and confused. Let me just say that England English is not always very much like American English and the difference in our accents made understanding each other downright comical sometimes. We still had lots of fun though.

We had to blitz London because we were only there with a few hours between flights so we decided to see all the big sites in central London and took off on the train for Big Ben.

The train ended up being my favorite part becauseĀ of the people watching.Ā London was so dramatically different from Italy, especially on the trains. Italy was loud and hotĀ and busting at the seams. London was cool and rainy and so, so quiet. Everyone was dressed for work and man did they look sharp.Ā They all woreĀ black like they knew something I didn’t and every one of them looked like James Bond with an umbrella. No kidding.Ā Like James Bond with ear buds and a book. It was impressive.

I felt so underdressed and I’m pretty sure I was the only personĀ in all of England wearing flip-flops that day in the cold rain. People even had coats on. Coats! In June! But I didn’t mind the cold or the rain because it gave me an excuse to get a proper hot English tea and I just don’t think I could have come home satisfied otherwise.

The people at the tea place laughed at me because {a} I probably sounded like a hick {b} I was wearing flip-flops {c} I didn’t know the answer to any of their many questions about what kind of tea I wanted. What do you mean what kind of tea do I want? I want the kind you put in hot water. So they pointed to an elaborate collection of tea varieties and I’m like, errr, Earl Grey, yep that sounds familiar. {d} There was a lot of confusion about how to put milk in my tea…I know that doesn’t sound complicated, but seriously {e} TheĀ teaĀ bag went on the fritz and all the loose leafĀ stuffĀ started getting in the water and I was panicking and Darren was laughing.

It was exhausting.

But yummy :]

Anywayyyyyyy….here’s what we saw.

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London bridges falling down…nah, just kidding, they didn’t fall down.

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Parliament

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Westminster Abbey…which I keep wanting to callĀ Downton Abbey…but it’s not.

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The London Eye

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The Tower of London and some fancy pants building in the background

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Look at the set up for tea in our hotel room! I pocketed all the tea bags as a souvenir andĀ Darren was like, did you steal all of that from the hotel room? And I was like, yes…no…yes…leave me alone, it’s mine.

And that kids, was London and the completion ofĀ our little European adventure. Now I want to go back…forever…and liveĀ under a lemon tree in Italy…but Darren saysĀ I can’t…men, marriage…sigh.

If you missed any of the earlier posts in this series about Europe, you can still read them here:

Barcelona, Spain

Marseilles, France

Florence & Pisa

Rome, Italy

Pompeii & the Amalfi Coast

Taormina, Sicily

Dubrovnik, Croatia {Former Yugoslavia}

Venice, Italy