"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Getting There

Let's start from the beginning, shall we?

About a month ago Jon got word that he was clear to book flights for a brief work trip to London.
We knew it was in the works but weren't sure when it would happen.  With two weeks notice, we decided to piggy-back the work with me joining him in London.  It was great timing right before our 15th anniversary!

Jon left a couple days before I did so he could take care of business.  Because he can't sleep on planes, he opted to fly all day and go straight to bed when he got there.

To minimize my time away from the kids, I took an overnight direct flight from RDU to HTR. (Raleigh to Heathrow)  I departed at 6 pm Tuesday and arrived at 6:45 am Wednesday.
I got to the airport about two and a half hours early and breezed through security with my one bag, a back pack.  Jonathan generously packed my clothes in "The Orange Beast," a big suitcase he checked for the trip.

(Not OUR "Orange Beast" but it feels this big in my imagination.)

Now, I'm a light and efficient traveller but I do have one vice: I travel with my own pillow.  Yes, I sent him with a full size pillow to lug around London.
In my defense, I'm a stomach sleeper and the pillows that most hotels have are very big.  Even the nicest down pillows don't seem to flatten enough for me and I will wake up with a sore neck and headache.  So our compromise is that yes, I will take my own $3 Wal-Mart pillow and then leave it at the hotel upon our return.  It's also a good strategy for ensuring that you have room for souvenirs on your bag on the way home.

No Pillow = Room to Bring Stuff Home

Back to the airport-- I knew it was critical that I slept during my 8 hour, 45 minute flight, so I sat down for a good dinner and had a glass of wine to try to relax.  I don't get anxious often but even I was a little nervous.

Luckily on the plane I had no one sitting next to me so I was able to spread out a bit.  I got out my Rick Steves travel book on London and my photo of the kids, and settled in.  (I always keep out the pic of the kids during take-off and landing because, should something happen, I want to be able to see their sweet stinker faces.)

After a couple hours, an in-flight movie, and dinner served, they turned off the lights for the night.  I took half a dramamine  (It doesn't take much for me to be loopy on meds) and tried to get cozy with my kleenex they called a blanket and cotton ball pillow.  Not great, but better than nothing!

It was a smooth flight and I did sleep on the plane.  I felt like I could hear the roar of the plane the whole time and didn't "think" I was asleep, but every so often I would wake up and notice a new movie on.

The people to the left and in front of me had two small dogs with them and they were quiet and calm the whole time.  Once I woke to a man yelling that the dogs were peeing because a liquid was running off their seat.  It turned out to be water from a bottle that had tipped over and didn't have the lid on properly.  That was really the only drama all night.

We arrived on time in the UK at 6:45 am.  I would do an overnight again, but it would be very hard to do with children.  I think I would be too tuned to them and would wake and be alert at every twitch and sigh.  We would have to go straight to the hotel upon arrival and sleep for a while.

Heathrow Airport, where a plane arrives or departs every 45 seconds, is to the west of London and the hotel Jon was at was on the east side.  We agreed to wait until I arrived to see if I felt up to exploring first thing or if I needed rest.
Here's our text exchange:

I was excited!  Earlier I had told him that I even "felt an inch taller" because of the adrenaline coursing through my veins.  I really did feel fantastic!

The trains and underground (or "Tube") system wasn't too difficult to figure out, especially if you aren't afraid to ask for help from one of the many transit workers you see waiting around just to help you.
Jon and I decided to meet at the Tower of London and he told me which tube station to exit.  I told a transit worker at Heathrow my destination and he helped me quickly buy a pass for the Heathrow Express train into London and then fare for the remainder of my journey to the Tower Hill stop.  (Jon already had a refillable card for me called an "Oyster Card" that could be used on trains and buses for the rest of the trip.)

Once I arrived at Paddington Station, I departed and began the hunt for the Circle line, my next train. Paddington Station was CRAZY.  I had to ask for help twice.
I wish I had taken a photo at some point, but if you imagine that the lines on the map above are all people coming and going in different languages and speeds, you might get a feel for the chaos that is Paddington Station during morning rush hour.  Kids in uniforms, men in slick business suits, and hordes of construction workers all seemed to be late for wherever they were headed.

At one point during the labyrinth to the Circle line, I looked over and saw light coming down from the street.  "I'm here!" I thought.  I snapped a pic with my phone.  I was ready to be done getting there and wanted to start exploring!

I finally made it to Tower Hill and when I saw Jonathan I ran to hug him like he'd just gotten home from war.  I just couldn't believe we were really HERE.  We took a quick selfie (very rare for us) and even though I felt gross and unbeautiful from the trip, I'm so glad we did it!  Jon's face says it all. :)

See you next time for the next chapter,

Monday, May 30, 2016

Pack your bags!

Personally, I like to soak up all the details of being in a different place.  After looking through the photos I came home with from our trip to London, I'm immediately struck by all the things I didn't photograph.
Sometimes that was because photography wasn't allowed and other times because I didn't want to be that tourist.  But the biggest reason I didn't take photos of everything was because, for me, I can't fully experience an event and document it at the same time.

It's worth staying immersed in those moments that you realize are special.
For example, would you rather be swept up in a passionate kiss, or pull out a phone to take a pic of you kissing?

Sometimes the cost of truly embracing the moment is having no evidence that it existed.   

That being said, I still have over 300 photos from our trip.  I've tried to figure out the best way to share the highlights but I'm coming up empty.  So, I'm just going to take you with me.

Today I'm enjoying family time but I'll be back this week to get the trip started!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Overrated Silence

No butterflies are perched on this bloom of the butterfly bush.

And no toddlers are ransacking the house right now.  
I wish Gracie was pulling clean tupperware out of cabinets, ripping out hair bows and ties, and banging on my keyboard.

The baby that woke up happily jumping in her crib yesterday, started feeling under the weather in the  afternoon.  Usually a champion sleeper, she was feverish and wanted to be held and rocked the entire night.
The first couple hours weren't so bad, but it became exhausting after midnight.

I tried cuddling with her in bed, but that didn't really work.  She wanted to be held on my chest in the glider or she cried the most pitiful sick-child cry I've ever heard in my home.

We've been to the pediatrician and it looks to be viral.  I know how extremely lucky we are with our health in this family, especially when it comes to the children.  Minor sicknesses always remind me of that.
After discovering that Gracie can take chewable Motrin instead of the liquid form (which is a violent, useless experience every time I attempt to dispense it to her), she's finally getting some much-needed rest.  

Rest up, wild woman.  Silence is overrated, and now I see butterflies out the window that I know you would love.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Rounding the Corner

We're going on a big trip soon and I wanted a new lens for my camera that would be versatile and help me get great photos in a variety of environments -- a good walkaround lens.  
I decided upon a Tamron 18-200mm and my first impressions are pretty good.  Even a little bit of rain couldn't keep me from playing with my new toy.  Walk with me, will you?

Our back yard has a lot of natural elements to it that can be hard to distinguish in photos.  There are some neat things happening on the other side of that deck railing, though.

Let's head to far corner of the property.

When I walk directly behind the deck and turn around, this is the view I see.  
That is a swing and play set for the kids in the distance.

There are ferns everywhere and they go a bit crazy!  
This little guy has his own pond and it was almost completely hidden when we moved in. 

Can you guess to where this path leads?

The basketball court.
A little unexpected, but it works well for us. 
Originally it was a fire pit area, but we found that having a basketball goal 
and storage box for balls and nerf guns suits our needs a bit better.

The hydrangea blooms always feel like a surprise since they are hidden back here.

All in all this part of the yard fits in well with how I like to approach my home:
It's functional, natural/comfortable, and a little bit beautiful.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Practice for Summer

With the end of the school year rapidly approaching, we've started practicing for summer a bit after school.  It's hard work, I tell ya.

We've become reacquainted with dirty feet,

popsicle lips,

porch swingin',

and just enjoying the breeze.

I don't know everything the summer holds for us, but I think Gracie's found a great spot to watch it all unfold.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hello again!

Hey look, I still know how to use Blogger!

I thought I'd dust off the ole blaaaaahg (Yep, I still hate that word.) and return to a more sophisticated form of journaling than Facebook can provide.

When I stopped blogging, it was partly because of time constraints and partly because I'd gotten too concerned about what others thought of me and my life.  Instead of being an outlet that came naturally and always left me feeling a little better than when I started, it had become an activity that made me feel self-conscious.
Well, this is my life and my family.  I have no implied judgements on you or yours.

I'm over the concerns now.  Hopefully anyone who knows me knows that when I share, my emotions are genuine and intentions pure.

Simply put: If I have joy in my life, I like to spread it.

Same goes for: laughter,
                         lessons learned,
                         new experiences had,
                         and love felt.

Sometimes I write about struggles because I know that we all have issues and I never want people to feel alone.

I don't like to feel alone.  I like to BE alone sometimes, but I don't like to feel alone in my heart.
If, by voicing a struggle with which I am dealing, I can make someone else face their own in a more honest way, then it is worth the hit to my own pride.

In the end, I like to blaaaahg in my own uncensored voice and that's what I'm going to go back to doing.  Imagine this space as my living room.  I'll be here in its varying states of cleanliness and you're welcome to stop by any time.
I might even have some chocolate to offer you.

On second thought, you should probably bring the chocolate. ;)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


The heat index is 101 right now, so I thought I'd write  a little something in the comfort of our air-conditioned home.

This is our first summer having BigBoy home with us.  Our move back to Apex means a school change, and along with that is a calendar change from year-round to traditional.  He has his first real summer off from school (not just one week off between grades).  He's had camp, but there's also this:

The baby/toddler/preschooler that never would let me read to him, is now a bookworm!
He enjoys an equal amount of outdoor activities, too, but now he goes through 2 or 3 books a week.

Baby Honey seems to grow daily.
She gobbles up sweet potatoes, bananas...

and toy trains. :)

 The big kids are a little obsessed with her.

The other day after she'd just woken up, I was cuddling with her on the couch giving her a bottle.
Katie snuggled up next to us and began softly holding/cupping the side of her head and then kissed her, saying "She's so cuuute" in a very quiet, affectionate way.
"Is she like a little baby doll?" I asked.
"No," she replied. "She's like a real sister."

Small moments of love can carry more meaning than the grandest of gestures.