Sep 29, 2013


Mark's office was generous enough to give us a month of corporate housing while we found our permanent home. A month of living in this place - I'll take it! We love the light, the views, and the free British TV! But if you asked me would I take 2 or 3 weeks of housing if his office would put more funding into finding us a place to live, I would say YES! Don't even get me started on the crazy process of finding our home and how truly lucky we were to actually find a non-shoe box dingy flat in a weird neighborhood. But I digress.

The first day we arrived, it was Sunday (3 weeks ago!) and due to our flat being located in the financial district, nothing was open. No stores, no restaurants, nothing. No people on the streets. It was eerie. We were exhausted, and I decided I hated this weird grey city. Over the course of these past three weeks, I've come to love being here. We are close to Mark's office, which is the best part. We found a totally rad playground for Henry. The grocery store is seriously right around the corner. We have a favorite restaurant just up the street where we order the same thing every time: hummus and pita, avocado and halloumi salad with green olives, and chicken kabob. It's centrally located so you can be anywhere within 30 minutes or less. I've discovered east London, which has completely stolen my heart (I'm looking at you, Hackney and Shoreditch), but I've relegated this neighborhood to a past me, the me without a 2 year old that needs parks and well, other kids to play with if we're being honest.

Henry really has taken to this flat, and it's completely become his car haven. He lines them up on the window ledge. He lines them up on the sofa. He brings them to the table with him for breakfast. I'm getting a little worried that once it is time to play with actual human friends, he will want nothing to do with should probably find a friend here with a kid so we can have playdates, right? We'll save that for North London, which should be teeming with small children from what I hear. We will just enjoy our balcony, proximity to Borough Market, and around the corner grocery store, thank you very much. We have about 10 days left here and I plan on enjoying every last one of them.

Now onwards to the Barbican flat tour. Don't mind that Sean Connery look-alike in our living room, he comes with the place (I wish, we miss you Papa!)

Sep 27, 2013

Life right now

I'm sitting in our temporary flat with the windows open. The weather is a perfect crisp 63 degrees with the sun peeking out through the clouds. I hear music drifting in from the music school below all day. Today it's French Horn. Yesterday was opera. Last weekend, it was the bassoon. It's glorious.

Life right now is a mix of lovely and chaos. We wake up in the mornings, eat breakfast, see Mark off to work, then get ready for the day and take off for exploring. Somedays we stay out the whole day (like yesterday - created the perfect itinerary for visitors!), and somedays we come home for lunch and a good nap. Mark's office is about a 5 minute walk from our flat, so he comes home for lunch most days. It's so nice to be able to see him in the middle of the day, play with Henry for a little while until nap time, then talk about our days so far and laugh about the differences. For example, today I told Mark about the duck that nearly choked on our bagel offering in the park this morning, the bird who almost walked into our flat via the open balcony door, and the awesome new playground we found. He told me he sat in his office for awhile, getting ready for his business trip. Of course, on those days where I come home for lunch, I am taking care of business. Checking to see who needs which documents from us now, checking on our bank accounts, and trying to determine if we can get a cell phone yet.

Yet, between the chaos, I know this is a very special time in our lives right now. Being so close to Mark's office is great. Being with Henry every day is a dream. I love it. I do miss work, and I hope to find a job soon, but I'm focusing on having fun with my almost-two-year-old baby and trying to sculpt a life for us here in London.

I got a log of lavender-infused goat cheese at Borough Market yesterday. I asked for a good goat cheese and this French man - who looked like he just took the Paris express that morning to London - told me "zees eez zee mozt lugzuroius chez, you muzt 'ave zum". So I tried it, he was right, I purchased it on the spot and he smiled big and told me, "I love my job". I bet he does. He spends all day outside, selling cheese to people like me who just want something that tastes delicious, which happens to be just what he sells.

After the cheese experience, we walked to the Tate Modern and ran into some more people who love their jobs.

It was uplifting and inspiring to be around people who truly love what they do. I want to find that in my life. And it might not be from my career, but it might be a side thing, like playing music again or singing. I've been missing that extra part of life that makes my heart beat a little faster...for awhile now. And I'm so much happier with it. London, you are so dreamy.

Sep 24, 2013

Walking London and Other Things

I have way too many photos to upload and limited space, so sorry for the lack of photos on my recent posts. I can assure you we've been really busy, but if you still don't believe me see my instagram feed for a little taste of what we've been up to.

When my dad was here, we must have walked half of London trying to see all the good stuff. I'm always one to keep walking just a little further because I have major neighborhood FOMO (fear of missing out). I would hate to miss that secret little park or majorly gorgeous house because I decided to stop too early. Also there is so much to see in this city, and who knows how long I'll be jobless!? Definitely trying to take advantage of these warmer days of freedom with Henny.

We walked all over the Financial district, crossed nearly all of London's bridges - sometimes twice (missed the waterloo and southwark), walked markets, walked to find restaurants, walked Oxford Street for shopping, walked Westminster and Parliament, walked around Bath, etc. etc. I could go on. And I will definitely do separate posts on our time in Bath because that town is truly breathtaking.

Since my dad left, I've kept up the walking pretty well. Yesterday Henry and I went to Shoreditch and Spitalfields market, which is actually just about a 10 minute walk from our current flat. I didn't realize we had so much so close! It feels very business-centric where we are, but taking a couple different turns really puts you out somewhere completely different. Today I logged 5 miles walking around the London Zoo, up to Parliament Hill, over to St Johns Wood, then back into Regents Park to see the boating lake and the gardens, finally ending at the tube stop to go home. We were exhausted.

Every night my legs and feet are exhausted, but every morning we wake up, eat some breakfast and my mind gets moving about another place we haven't yet seen. And out the door we go on another adventure. It's fun, but I'm wondering how long I can keep up my momentum! Also, Mark is headed on a business trip next week and I'm trying to not get nervous about being completely alone in this new country. So if anyone wants to come visit (mom? Jenny? Laura? people?) our doors are open! :)

I really am grateful to be spending this time with Henry in this new place, figuring everything out together. He is at such a lovely stage - nearly 2 years old and proving it every day. His no's have gotten louder, but his cuddles have become sweeter and his smiles and laughter more frequent. He's learning to say "no, thank you" instead of "NO!" and "more xx, please" instead of "MORE!" - we're working on it. We read every morning, do a little coloring, and go out for an adventure. I'm slowly trying to break him of the pacifier, but it's like a drug for him and this transition time is maybe not the best time to be pushing I'm being pretty gentle about the whole thing. But I left the house without it yesterday which I thought was pretty brave of me (moms, can you relate? or do I just sound like a total excuse-maker?!) I'm glad I have a little buddy to go on adventures with me and make me laugh. He really was cracking me up at lunch today. We had penne pasta and he got this little smile on his face in the middle of eating lunch, and he decided he would stick his finger in the pasta tube instead of using a fork. We both laughed about that one for awhile. He ate the rest of his lunch that way! Loved his little creative moment and his funny sense of humor. I totally get him. Most of the time.

Tomorrow it is supposed to rain, so I'm hoping we can find something indoors. Maybe the aquarium or another museum. We haven't hit the Natural History museum and I hear great things!

Sep 22, 2013

2 weeks in London

Whew. My Dad just left after spending 10 days here and I'm starting to wake up from the fog of daily croissants, indulgent lunches, and dessert every hour and realizing that I'm actually not on vacation. I won't be getting on a plane to go back home because somehow this is my home now. It's an odd feeling to be an in-betweener at this stage of life. Married. Kid. Grad School. Etc. But I guess this is the life many live, and we are so used to our stable, predictable, nice life in sunny DC. Now it's a bit topsy turvy and we are having a little trouble adjusting to be honest!

We had a few crazy days in between all the sight seeing and fun-having (Big Ben to London Eye to Bath to Tower of London to Borough Market (twice!), but those crazy days were rough. Namely, a bank account (took us a week to get it because we needed the piece of paper to prove we moved here permanently from Mark's office), a home, and a cell phone! We spent a full day with a relocation agent to look at 15 houses that ranged from a crack den shoebox in notting hill (but it overlooked that lovely park from the movie!) to a 2 bedroom in West London with an en suite bathroom and even a full size refrigerator! We ended up putting a deposit down on a lovely little flat in Highgate, a stones throw from Hampstead Heath. But from the haze of looking at 15 places in one day, the details of the place sort of escape me, but I do remember it had a gorgeous kitchen, definitely the biggest I've ever had in my married life. And it's also a lot further than we thought we'd be from City of London, but in the end the relaxed and quiet neighborhood was just what we were looking for to get away from our old urban H street house in DC.

Tonight we ate dinner on our beautiful balcony, trying to take advantage of the nice weather while it's here and trying to take advantage of this nice apartment while we have it! But it was the first time I felt at peace with my family here. I've had crazy nerves about this transition and I keep waiting for it to feel like home. It doesn't yet (that might not happen until we actually move into our real place and get all of our stuff back!), but I felt a bit of it. And it was just what I needed to feel good.

And now I'm off to watch Downton Abbey because it comes out earlier in the UK - the biggest plus of moving here! ;)

Sep 9, 2013

London, Day 1: exahusted

We arrived in London at 6am Sunday morning, 1 hour of sleep for Mark, 4 hours for Henry, about 30 minutes for me. We were exhausted, but the sun was out so we thought we'd take advantage. A quick walk down the sunny streets took us to Mark's office near Finsbury Square, into Pret for early lunch, then back home around 11 for a quick nap. That nap turned into a 7 hour siesta. We all woke up at 6pm, undeterred from getting out there again for a big walk across the Millennium Bridge, a stroll along the South Bank through Borough Market (closed, sadly), then back over the London Bridge to home.

I couldn't sleep last night. I woke up at 7:30am this morning, Mark woke up at 9:30, and Henry is still asleep and it's 10:30. Jet lag is taking its toll.

It's colder here than I expected and since all of our stuff is on a boat somewhere, probably still on the US coastline, we'll be shopping for some coats and sweaters for all of us, especially tiny Henry.

We're staying in temporary housing for a month and the apartment is a little odd. It's the penthouse apartment which is lovely, but we have to take the elevator, then walk up 2 flights of stairs to get to our apartment. With a stroller and baby and bags, it gets a little hairy, but we'll manage for a few weeks. The area we're staying in - Barbican - is near the Financial District, so it's sort of like staying in McPherson Square or Wall Street. Nothing is open on the weekends, especially on Sunday, so we were walking around like ravenous wolves last night looking for food. I started to panic without access to food, until we found a Tesco express open - a convenience grocery store. In normal circumstances I would be like - barf - but it was like a gold mine! We filled our basket with all we could get our grubby hands on and ate like kings last night. Well, Tesco kings, but still.

Mark starts work this afternoon, so it will just be Henry and me until my Dad shows up late tomorrow evening. I'm glad he's coming! We are already feeling so homesick and displaced, and we will be glad to welcome fun Papa Mickey here to brighten things up and provide some needed reasons to get out and see London.

Sep 3, 2013

Transitions and Emotions.

Our visas came in the mail today, all nicely packaged, with our family name on the outside of the folder, looking like a 7th grader wrote it, complete with circles above the i's. It was sort of adorable/sort of scary that someone who handles visas have the penmanship of a 7th grader, but whatever. We have our documentation, which is a good thing since we are needing them in 4 days. I'm trying not to freak out too much, but when you pack away your kitchenaid because it won't work on the UK voltage, it starts to get real up in here. Same goes for our record player, and I'm going to cry because who am I without cookies and good music?!

I told Mark last night that it feels like we're going to London for the semester, since we are coming home for Christmas, and we are packing up and purging and planning on buying stock in IKEA for our impending move-in to unfurnished apartment. And, well, I guess that's why I'm not TOO sad to be leaving. Because although life will change, it's not goodbye forever to DC. We'll always have family here and we'll always be back. Thank goodness for that, because I don't think I could ever leave DC for good.