Dec 21, 2014

Longest night.

Tonight is the longest night of the year, and apparently the longest night ever. So it is fitting that last night I decided to start with some light sleep training for the wee one. She is already so fat and happy, and we are already so accustomed to bouncing her. I just remember fat little baby Henry, gaining weight steadily and the bouncing getting harder and here we are trying to help sweet little Marnie learn how to sleep, and so far...not so bad.

I've had her on a schedule for about a week now, and it looks like this:
7:30: wake up, 1st feeding, she hangs out in her bassinet and watches the wind blow through the trees outside while I fix us all breakfast
8:30 first nap
9:30: wake up, 2nd feeding, play with Henry and Marnie
10:30: second nap - sometimes in the wrap if we go outside to play or run errands
12:00/12:30: wake up, 3rd feeding
1:30: third nap - her longest nap of the day
3:30/4:00: wake up, 4th feeding
5:00: fourth nap
5:45: 5th feeding, time to get dinner ready - she plays in her bouncer until she starts fussing, then into the wrap for her last nap of the day
6:30: fifth nap
7:15: wake up
8/8:30: bedtime

FIVE NAPS. Of course, this schedule is flexible - a partly aspirational - based on when she sleeps and eats. I mostly try to have her awake for 45 minutes - 1 hour, and eating every 2.5 - 3 hours. It works pretty well most days. If she seems hungrier or to need me more some days, she gets fed and worn in the wrap a lot more. Her night wakings are still ridiculous - 11, 2, 4/5/6. But she's still young and I mostly feed her when she wakes up, but Mark will take her if she does her gassy fussy wake up at 5 and won't go back to sleep. It's very kind of him, and I'm not sure at this point how to get her to stop waking up at those times other than not feeding her. I hope at some point she gets the drift that it's not worth waking up for if she's not eating. [Nervous laughter]

Anyway we didn't do sleep training with Henry until he was about 9 months old. 9 months! He was still waking up all the time at night and I was back at work full time and just exhausted. I look back on the things I did and can't believe the willpower and tenacity I had for that first baby. I guess you just don't want to mess them up...and then you have a second baby and think WHAT WAS I THINKING. For me, I realized that most of the decisions you make as a parent are shaping you - as a parent and adult - rather than shaping your kid into what you want them to be. I didn't want to let Henry cry when he was a baby, but none of us were sleeping and it made for a miserable time most nights. I wanted to be a compassionate parent, but I wasn't doing what was best for me or Henry. So I'm trying to do a better job this time around. And also I just want to sleep again. There is a funny written-for-adults kids book called Go The F*** to Sleep and I think of that every time it's 4 in the morning and my loud snorting grunty baby won't settle. It makes me laugh, and the sense of humor is the only thing between me and insanity, so thumbs up!

It's a cruel thing - non-sleeping babies and tired mothers. Because if you were reading above, she takes 5 naps during the day and then there's bedtime - that's 6 times of putting a baby to bed every day. And if you have a baby that hates to sleep, your life can get frustrating so quickly. That's why we do the wrap, we have nightly dance parties (me, Henry, and Marnie), and Henry actually has been so pleasant and sweet. Sometimes after I've put Marnie down for a nap, he looks around and says - Hey lets wake up Marnie!! He adores her. If she cries, he puts his fingers in his ears and looks at me, annoyed, then he'll say, Mama, Marnie is calling for you.

Once we get this sleep thing down, I'll start venturing out of the house a little more. But honestly with these dark and cold days, we are just as happy staying inside baking cookies and watching Christmas movies together. Not a bad life.

Dec 18, 2014

Papa Mickey

Papa came to London and stayed with us for a MONTH. Crazy town. What would I have done without him? More importantly, what would Henry have done without him? He flew back on Tuesday and spent last night in the ER...with a kidney stone! Maybe we pushed him a little too hard while he was here? Feel better, Papa! This picture was taken the day he left. Awww we miss you, Papa!

Dec 17, 2014

Marnie June.

Marnie had her 1 month birthday on Monday. Time is flying by so fast and it's slightly upsetting. This newborn phase passes by so quickly and I am just in that tired loopy phase of new baby - sleepless nights and stealing naps during the day, and just loving on this baby when she is awake. She has the prettiest dark eyes that just stare into mine and observe the world around her, and it feels like we've known each other forever. But both my kids are asleep right now, so I'd thought I'd take advantage of this free time to share a few things from the past month.

I'm not going to share my full birth story here, but I'll give some of the highlights. I went into labor at 41 weeks and 1 day, on November 15. Those of you following along may already know - that is Henry's birthday. And yes - spoiler alert - Marnie and Henry have the same birthday. So that will make for an interesting family birthday dynamic! Contractions started lightly around 11pm on Friday evening, November 14, and I spent most of the night on my bedroom floor breathing through steady contractions - taking a bath, using the exercise ball, and sleeping as much as possible in between contractions. At 7:15, Henry was awake, excited to have birthday waffles. We made his waffles, while I took contraction breaks every 3-5 minutes.

We left for the hospital around 9am, had three strong contractions in our taxi on the way there, and at 9:30 we were admitted by the midwives to the Birth Center, and I was dilated to 5cm. I spent the next two hours pacing around a dimly lit room to the music of Beach House, kneeling over an exercise ball, using gas and air to get through the more difficult contractions, and finally got into the birthing tub around 11:30. I wasn't planning on a water birth - only planned on laboring in the tub - but when the moment came I couldn't imagine getting out of that warm tub, so I stayed in and I'm so happy I did.

I pushed for about 15 minutes and she was born at 11:54am. I lifted her gently out of the water and brought her to my chest. It was one of the most powerful and beautiful (and painful!) experiences of my life. I wish I had better words to capture how it felt and how I felt. We cuddled for a few minutes and then Mark cut her cord, and we just marveled over our little baby girl who looked so much like her big brother - same serious face and even the same little nose wrinkle.

I absolutely loved everything about the experience of birthing at the Birth Center at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. I love the midwife model that the UK uses, and I love the support they offer to mothers who want to try and birth without an epidural. I tried so hard to have a natural birth with Henry, but it just wasn't in the cards. I can't even compare how much easier this birth was. As my friend and former midwife told me, "Second labors are what keep the world populated", I was so happy to have a positive birth experience and grateful for the midwives who kept me motivated and cheered me on when I felt like I couldn't go on any longer. I literally said at one point, just pull her out of me, i can't do this anymore, but they cheered me on and told me you're almost there! you can do this! 

We named her Marnie, which is a Scottish name meaning "of the sea", since she was born in the water. June is a throwback to June Carter - a little bit of Americana to remind her of her roots - even though she was born in London. And no, she does not qualify for British citizenship, she is an American citizen. We already have her passport (taking a 6 day old to the American embassy was crazy to say the least).

We've been settling in happily as a family. Henry adores Marnie and kisses and hugs her all day long. My dad has been here for the past few weeks to help with Henry and the baby, which has been the only thing keeping me sane (and rested. lots of sleeping while the baby sleeps while Henry entertains Papa). I feel so lucky to have two healthy children, and grateful for the chance I have to raise another sweet little baby. Two kids! I still can't believe it!

Nov 4, 2014

Halloween and more.

This morning we went to mums group - a nice weekly gathering of neighborhood mums and their kids - and afterwards went to Tesco to stock up on pumpkin puree (they have it for 1.50/can!).

We came home and had a major cheese and crackers session while snuggling next to each other. Henry is reaaaaally into snuggling and smooshing our cheeks together. Every time he does it, my heart breaks a little about the impending changes. But, I will keep enjoying the cheek smooshing as long as he does it. It's the best.

I made a spreadsheet of dinners, meals, and snack ideas for after the new baby comes. Because I find my biggest hang ups in eating are just not being able to think of anything, let alone what to make for dinner. It's easy on the dairy and spices, but this time around it is not vegetarian. It is beef-free, but I'm still going to keep eating poultry and pork because it is such an easy and adaptable way to get unprocessed protein into my diet - something vital if I plan to stay upright and not pass out on public transportation like in my sordid past of vegetarianism.

We have 3 days to go until the due date. I've been feeling contractions randomly throughout the past couple of weeks, but I've also been purposely staying away from things that might get this baby born before her due date. We really want her to come when my mother in law is here so she can watch Henry. I have friends here who can watch him, but what if I go into labor at 2am and have a quick labor? My biggest fear is that Henry will be stranded and Mark won't be able to help me through labor and the baby will be born at home, etc etc panic ensues. So, I've been staying away from super spicy foods, staircases, long walks, and raspberry tea. But come Thursday night, BRING IT labor tricks. I have a few things up my sleeve.

And now for a few random photos from the past couple of weeks.

Halloween silliness. I got that curly wig for Mark and he dressed up as a retro basketball player or something, it was hilarious. Henry liked testing it out.

The leaves changing everywhere - one of the reasons Autumn will always be my favorite season.

Traffic jam in the hallway!

An elephant and Princess Anna share a cupcake moment.

Flowers from a sweet friend for the impending arrival of little miss.

And finally, this photo will make me laugh for the rest of my life.

Oct 29, 2014

Deja Vu, sort of.

Three years ago, Mark and I were living in our little garden apartment in DC. I was working full-time, getting ready for the arrival of a tiny human - a tiny human that I knew in my heart was a boy, but had yet to be confirmed. We didn't know anything about babies. We thought our birth class and the books we read would prepare us, but what can prepare you for that truly unique experience of having a child created by two different people?

Yesterday, I was talking with some friends who both have babies aged 10-12 months and I told them how that was my favorite stage of babies.

They're getting funny and independent, but they still need you around and still like a good cuddle.

Both of my friends gave me this look like, ok whatever you say.

Later, I came to the funny realization that last time, with Henry, I was working full-time and our nanny took care of Henry all day, Monday through Friday. She changed the majority of dirty diapers. She fed and cleaned up the messy baby face and hands and arms. I was the one hooked up to the pump a few times a day, getting the milk for Hen - one of the contributions that helped me feel like I was doing the best job I could do take care of my baby, even though I didn't spend most days with him. Some days were hard, but most struck a balance in me that I liked. I liked the part time working, part time mothering Julie. She was a little scatterbrained, but she got things done and did a pretty good job with it all.

Fast forward to three years later where I never thought I'd be. I'm a full-time mom living overseas, getting ready to have our second child and spending my days playing trains and cars with my nearly 3 year old toddler, researching preschools, double strollers, lego sets, and waiting every day until dinner time to see my hardworking husband. The leaves are turning orange, yellow, red, and brown, and falling from the trees as my belly swells and we get closer to meeting this baby - just like last time around. We still have the leaves we collected from our walk around Lincoln Park in DC three years ago when we were just playing the waiting game with Henry. And now, I take those walks around the wide sidewalks and parks with Henry helping me find the best leaves to bring home. In a couple of days or couple of weeks, we'll welcome another baby into our family, and guess who will be changing all the diapers and wiping all the messy faces and soothing all the cries? I can't believe the irony that my favorite stage of baby was the stage I missed out on the most. And while I never imagined I'd be a stay at home mother with two little babes, I really can't wait for this whole thing. I know it will be hard. I know I will have days where I cry and wish we were closer to family. I know we will have days where Henry watches a lot of movies while I try and soothe/sleep/feed/love this new little one, and I will have to manage the guilt of not doing enough or being enough for anyone. But we'll be together. And that will be enough for me. xx

Oct 21, 2014

Thoughts on toddlers and new babies

Henry has been on point lately. So funny, so charming, so sweet. And when he's not being that sweet charming toddler, he is the devils spawn. I don't know what to do with him some days! Getting very stubborn, who knows where he gets that from (ahem), I've had to readjust things around here lately to teach him about obedience, patience, and kindness. The things that are hardest in life to perfect (I have yet to be perfect in any of those qualities/virtues), but I'm trying.

Right now we're focusing on learning to say "May I have..." rather than "I WANT..." and every time I ask him if he wants breakfast, lunch, or dinner, he says "I don't WANT to eat breakfast/lunch/dinner, I want to eat a snack!" How did he learn so quickly that snacks are so good? Maybe it has something to do with his 37 weeks pregnant mother who snacks all day long? ;)

He's also learned about the comfortable mass of pillows and duvets that is mama and dadas bed, and he throws a tantrum every time he gets told that he cannot take a nap and cannot go to bed in our bed, but has to go to Henry's bed. For the record, he's hardly slept in our bed (maybe 5 times since he was sleeping through the night), but I think he's latching onto the concept of soft, snuggly things. He asks to sleep with my big oversized cozy cardigan every night and last night asked for my fuzzy blanket, too.

I gave him a haircut yesterday and I did the worst job. He looks like a prisoner of war. It's so short, I almost cried. I wanted to cut it short enough so I wouldn't have to worry about cutting it for awhile, but I went a little drastic. Investing in some hats to keep his bald head warm in this chilly Autumn weather, and praying it grows back quickly.

Two and a half weeks until the due date. My hospital bag is halfway packed, I got a flu and whooping cough vaccination today, and with the chill coming in the air and the sun setting earlier every day, I'm realizing the fleeting moments of time spent alone with Henry are coming to a close. I keep thinking of this time 3 years ago, when I was waiting for our first little baby to come, not knowing what to expect. But now, I know how much love can fill your heart with the birth of a new baby, and the sweetness that comes in between those sleepless nights and panic-ridden cries (from everyone), and I just can't wait for those moments again. I get all moony just thinking about it. I know a new baby coinciding with my favorite months of the year (November and December) just puts me over the top, too.

Oct 6, 2014

Weekend. Baby prep.

Baby prep is in full swing!

Baby clothes all being washed this week.
Stroller/pram testing done, waiting to buy one until Christmas time.
Adding new names to the possible names list because if there is one thing I'm bad at, it is settling on a name for a human! I can't even decide on blankets I like, let alone a name that is permanent. 
Buying new pacifiers (we call them babas, UK calls them dummies)
Researching if we really need an infant car seat since we do not own a car.
Packing hospital bags.
Buying snacks for labor (applesauce! making pumpkin chocolate chip muffins!)
Researching water births/natural labor. Last time we tried hypnobirthing but 30 hours of back labor without pain relief was too much to hypno me, not to mention I had to get pitocin because I wasn't progressing and that epidural saved my sanity. Hoping it's a better go this time around.
Eating tums like candy.
Laughing every time Henry says, "That's a BIG MAMA" when he sees my bare belly.
Buying teeny tiny diapers and thanking myself for getting Henry (mostly) potty trained before baby #2. Still haven't tried night time potty training. Still waiting on it.
Enjoying my sleep while I still have it, even though the nightly pee wake-ups have appeared this week, happy for my comfortable bed and pillows (sorry about your 12 inches of sleeping space, Mark).
Enjoying our time with Henry to spoil him and snuggle him all we want. 

Oct 2, 2014

Henry update: nearly 3 years old

I want to log a few favorites of Henry's here, before things get too crazy to actually recall any of these things. A friend asked last week if I was worried about the new baby changing Henry and my relationship and I was, I haven't even thought about that. And I haven't! I know things will change a little, but Henry and I have had three years of time together! We are solid. Things are good. I'm excited to see how things change with a new sibling for Henry, though, I really can't wait for that!

As we wait for the baby to come, it keeps dawning on me that Henry is turning three soon. The baby's due date is actually one week before his birthday (what? we like November babies around here!).

Hen isn't one to really express favorites or too many preferences, so when he does, I really try to nurture that interest. It's cute the things he's decided are his favorites, I think. A few favorites of Henrys right now:
Color: green or orange, depends on the day
Ice cream flavor: strawberry
Breakfast food: waffles 
Toy: currently his ramp or train set
Book: He has 2 dino books he loves, and also loves to read The Tiger Who Came to Tea 
Snack: croissant! yes, i know.

A few funny things he's said recently:
- Mom, let's go to the camel farm no no...let's go to the pumpkin farm for pick pumpkins!

- Henry, time to go peepee?
Umm, no thank you, mom! (we've been working on manners)

- (reading a sign that says HARO.) H....A.....R.....O....polka dot!

- Hen, mama's tummy doesn't feel good today so I need to rest a little bit. (he runs away and comes back a minute later with a bottle of tums in his hand) Here, mama! Your vitamins!

- Hey mama, how bout a popper-cycle? (popsicle)

- (After skyping to his niece Lizzie who just lost her front tooth) Henry not lose a tooth. We go find Lizzie's tooth?

- (Watching scene in Mary Poppins with George Banks) He NOT George. I Henry George.

- Henry, what's your name? 
Henry George Taylor.
Yes! What's mama's name?
Mama George Taylor.

Sep 30, 2014



Last Thursday, Henry and I were on the bus on our way home from a little shopping trip, when I felt that familiar feeling of hot, stomach discomfort, and...yep. I got sick on the bus. Not pretty. I got off as quickly as possible and made the long walk home, too smelly and embarrassed to get back on another bus.

The next day I was on my 4th trip to the bathroom, and I realized that I was actually sick or something, so I called my midwife and she asked me to come to the hospital to be rehydrated. I was very dehydrated when I got there, it had been over 24 hours since I'd been able to keep any food or drink in me and I was woozy and grumpy and worried. Luckily, a good friend came through for us and came over to watch Henry while Mark and I sat in the waiting room until I was finally admitted, then finally given some IV fluids. I felt better nearly immediately, but the doctor wanted me to stay overnight for monitoring. They also thought I had a virus so they wanted to keep me isolated to keep the infection at bay - which I didn't really understand fully until after I left the next day, but looking back everyone who entered my room was wearing gloves and a mask. I was too out of it to realize that's not standard protocol.

I held firm to my belief that this was just a pregnancy thing and I had a sensitive stomach. I felt pretty fine most of Saturday in the hospital, and when they let me go home Saturday evening, I thought I'd be back to my normal self. Fast forward to 6 of the stomach bug. I must have had something pretty nasty because I'm finally just today starting to feel like myself again. I just ate my first food that wasn't white bread or pears or soup since Friday. I'm starting to feel like getting back to nesting, and I even considered taking Henry to the playground today (considered. instead I took a nap while he played a game on my iphone. parenting!).

I realized during these strange past 6 days how little my world is here, and how difficult it can be for someone in poor health. Mark has been doing absolutely everything, including grocery runs 3 times a day to satisfy my recovery stomach/pregnancy cravings. And I'll tell you - being 34 weeks pregnant with a 4 pound baby inside of you and hardly eating anything at all puts you in a MOOD. But now with a fridge fully stocked with broth, ginger ale, applesauce, and yogurt I'm ready to start feeling normal again - whatever that may be. And I'm feeling grateful for the support of friends we have when family is so far away.

Realizing we are less than 40 days until the due date is the only thing getting me through these long days. I forgot how truly uncomfortable and exhausting this last bit of pregnancy can be, especially after getting socked with a stomach bug, and it's a really nice thing it ends with a tiny little baby to cuddle.

Sep 23, 2014

I've never been here

A couple days ago, we hit our year mark of living here in London. I can't believe how much has happened and both how much shorter and longer it has felt! Does that even make sense? When I look back on our DC home and our routines there, my full time job, etc. it feels like a million years away, but it also feels like we just got off the plane on that grey London day in September 2013.

Anyway, we are settling into our second official flat here in London. I can't believe we moved again, but moreso, I wish that we would have been smarter the first time around. I loved living in Highgate but we were hoping for baby #2, and it was just too small and far away from city life for my taste. But we did get a good dose of quasi suburban life, and it was nice to be away from chaos after our last neighborhood in DC which was, as I've been describing it lately, "crime-y".

So far in this week of living in West Kensington, I've been to so many new places I would've never gone before, just because it's an awkward trip from Highgate. To name a few, Brook Green is lovely, our little neighborhood is just charming, and we're just a quick bus ride away from Kensington High street, Kensington Palace and the amazing Princess Diana memorial playground. And let's talk about the grocery stores. They are HUGE down here. We had just a tiny little Sainsburys by our place in Highgate, and I didn't think there was such a thing as large grocery stores in London. But the Waitrose, Tesco, and Whole Foods have blown my mind and meal planning just got so much easier.

We have lovely big windows and high ceilings that let in so much light, and even though it's an old flat, it is (mostly) charming and I'm happy to be here. Just need to find an IKEA wardrobe for the bedroom and then we're pretty set up.

We have our first appointment today at the new hospital, and seeing as how I'm nearly 34 weeks pregnant, I'm going to feel much better knowing we are settled and close to a great hospital with a comfortable and private birth center. Maybe that will make the fact that we're having a baby seem more real. (Living in denial currently.) We still need to find somewhere for the baby to sleep, some diapers, and a few soft receiving blankets to snuggle her, and then hopefully I can feel some peace of mind.

Photos of the flat to come, once it's not a total disaster!

Sep 3, 2014

Goodbye to Summer.

So long, Summer. Those 6 weeks of warm, perfect sunny days were bliss. Splash parks, pools, sandboxes, evening picnics in the park overlooking the city. We lived it up.

I had planned our beach trip for the warmest month - August - but sadly the wild British weather had other plans and a hurricane off the coast in mid-August sent us straight into Autumn. It was on average 60 degrees the whole weekend, the sun peaked out from time to time, but we still had a beautiful trip seeing the southwest coast of England, looking out into the ocean during the day and at night, and just slowing down for a few days.

On the way out to the coast, we made a sort of out of the way stopover through Cheddar Gorge to see these amazing cliffs and stop for lunch. Henry collected some rocks and loved watching the people climbing up the side of the cliffs.

A walk through the cool town of Penzance, and down to the harbor to see all the colorful boats.

Lands End - the most southerly point in the UK.

Looking for the moon and stars.

Kynance Cove was so gorgeous! Also, so cold! We walked down to the beach and joined the throngs of British people who had prepared for the weather with thermoses of hot tea, wooly jumpers, tents, umbrellas, and bikinis for the sunny weather.

Henry's beach VW van. He kept seeing VW vans driving around with boats and surfboards on top, so when he saw this little toy, he HAD to have it. ;)

St. Michaels Mount was beautiful (and closing up right when we got there so we didn't get to see the inside) and we enjoyed the walk out through the causeway during low tide.

On the way home, we were driving close to Stonehenge, so we decided to swing by and see it. It was so impressive, and the grey clouds and wind helped to set the mood.

Henry's face here says it all! He was pretty cold and over it at this point.

We had a great trip, as what was our last little weekender as a family of three!

Aug 14, 2014

We are moving!

The impossible has happened! We are moving out of our shoebox Highgate flat to a slightly larger shoebox in West London! I have the contract sitting in my inbox right now to review, and we should have it signed, sealed, and delivered by next week, then we move mid-September. I'll be about 32 weeks pregnant at our move.

Definitely one of the craziest decisions we ever made was to move to London, and we really had no idea what to expect other than - they speak English there, how hard can it be? Turns out, kind of difficult! It is hard to move to a different city, and even harder to move internationally and figure out how to do banking, grocery shop, navigate a new culture, and be a foreigner. We have grown to love it here. I think summer sealed the deal for us. 70 - 75 every day and the occasional rainstorm to keep it real. One thing that attracted me to our current Highgate flat was the natural light and white walls. It is something I realize that I need in my life: lots of light. I did the english basement thing for a year, and I was scratching the walls by the end of our year-lease. Side note: they call basement apartments "garden flat" here. Isn't that much more appealing than a dank basement? ;) While I'm happy to be moving on, I will miss the leafy quiet of Highgate and our first little flat here in London, with all its quirks (weird neighbors, foxes going through our garbage, middle of the night dance parties in the flat above ours (or clogging?! someone hates us upstairs).

Our new flat is just the next step I was hoping for. In terms of square footage, it's not too much bigger than our current place, but we have a huge front room/dining room combo, a nice big bedroom for us (a long narrow bedroom for the nursery), and most of all huge windows in every room on a second story terraced home. I cannot wait to move in and get settled before the arrival of baby girl.

I was talking to my sister in Virginia the other day (who is currently getting induced and should have her new baby here any minute now!) about how small our homes feel. She said to me: our place is just so tiny, I just wish we could move. Our place is only 950 square feet!
I just couldn't help but laugh. Our NEW place is 720 square feet and it feels like a palace to me! I think our current flat is somewhere around 600 square feet.
Funny how perspective can change your mind about something.

Anyway, this post is quite rambling, but I wanted to record my thoughts on how happy I am to be finding a new little spot in London, looking forward to exploring West London and finding our favorite parks, cafes, hidden gems, etc. that come along with a new neighborhood. It's hard to believe we've been here nearly a year.l

Aug 12, 2014

Hampton Court Palace

A few weekends ago, we woke up Saturday morning with a blank slate and I put in my vote for Hampton Court Palace. Unable to think of anything else quickly enough, Mark was forced into a Saturday of train travel and palace gazing, under the rainiest of skies. The rain held off for our entire hour-long journey out to Hampton Court, but as soon as we got off the train to walk the 5 minutes to the palace, the skies opened up and that was pretty much the end of any hopes for a dry day.

We spent most of the day hopping between huge palace kitchens, Henry VIII bedroom and great halls, and even got outside to admire the gardens (so many amazing gardens - even a hedge maze, my dream come true). We learned more about the strange life of Henry VIII and more about his 6 wives and how they made the palace their own during the short or long stints as queen. Did you know he was married to his first wife for 20+ years? I didn't know that. And that he only became moody, head-choppy Henry VIII after a bad accident that rendered him with a bad leg and possible brain damage. We watched a PBS documentary on netflix about Hampton Court palace and Henry VIII last week and it was a nice companion piece to this tour.

Anyway, I digress. The palace was beautiful. The gardens were breathtaking. Henry (the 2 year old, not the former King of England) loved running around outside when the rain would break for a little while and we had a little chase through the hedge maze that I will always remember. We loved the strangely manicured triangle trees behind the palace, the koi pond, the royal tennis courts, and the huge palace kitchen. The palace is set right by the Thames river so it is quite idyllic and peaceful. I can see why it was a favorite of the royal families for a time. Just a simple country house away from the hustle and bustle of London. Right. 

Lots of photos of our day out below! Including a photo of yours truly with a barely there bump (oh how things have changed) and a happy frolicky Henry. And gardens. Lots of gardens. 

Aug 7, 2014


Today I've just decided to take it easy and not feel guilty about it. Most days we get out of the house and do something fun, but in the past 3 weeks have mostly been spent looking at a million different potential homes in neighborhoods all over London (and London is soooo much bigger than any other city we've lived in, especially when you are taking public transportation everywhere). I think after all the flat hunting, baby growing, and 2x getting sick from eating my veggies (for some reason with my pregnancies I cannot eat many raw vegetables - my stomach can't process all that fiber. It's frustrating!), my body is like - hey, you! I'm done! Not to mention Henry, who has been the biggest trooper of all, is really done with being dragged around to meet agents and see flats after our trip out on Tuesday.

Henry has been watching cartoons and playing on my phone all morning, with the occasional handful of pretzels or blueberries. I've been taking care of paperwork to (hopefully, fingers crossed so hard) nab the cutest little 2nd story flat on a leafy street with Holland Park and some great museums and a huge mall right around the corner. And researching birth centers in our new neighborhood. And starting to plan a little beach vacation to help us all take a much needed break from stress and craziness. All while sitting in my comfy chair with the fan pointing directly at my face.

27 weeks pregnant. Taking a break for a day. Baby's orders.

Jul 30, 2014

Nowhere to nest

Ohhhh friends, nesting. I'm 26 weeks this week, just a couple weeks shy of that third trimester (already!?) and my nesting instincts are in super high alert mode. I tried to ignore it, because after all - we are MOVING soon (I'm the dumbest person for doing this), but last week I couldn't put it off any longer. I sorted through old baby clothes, completely moved everything around in the living room, and we (Mark) cleaned out the fridge. It's not much, but it's all I could do.

I am kind of dying inside that I've put us in this position to move right when I'll be getting tired and won't be able to get things done as quickly. But I keep telling myself that it's much better to be a little tired while moving into a new place than to try and flat hunt with a newborn and toddler and get anything done with the soon-to-be little gang!

I've been so focused on researching neighborhoods and hunting for that perfect unicorn flat that doesn't exist, that I've hardly been thinking of how life will change so soon with a new little baby girl in our arms. Funny, because she kicks all day long, she's a wiggly thing, and Henry always reminds me of the baby - wants to kiss my belly, invite the baby out to play kickball with him, and feel her kick. She's a constant reminder of why I'm working so hard right now to get us all settled and happy before she joins our family.

When we moved into our current flat, we had no idea where we wanted to live, and we only had one day to look at about 15 flats, and less than 24 hours to choose a flat after seeing them. It was a whirlwind of a day. I was looking at old emails I sent our relocation specialist, and I requested we look for flats in: Islington, Clapham, Notting Hill, Highgate, and Fulham. Those neighborhoods are all over the map! We had no idea what we were doing! Now that we've lived here for a year and I've figured out my own routine and abilities as a stay at home mama, I've realized Highgate is a little further away from everything than I want to be. It's easy enough to get on the tube and zoom down to central London, but I find myself wanting to spend more time in the huge (and free!) museums in South Kensington, and it takes us an hour of buses and trains just to get there now. So I'm hoping we can find somewhere with an easy bus ride to museums, close access to parks, and a good family-friendly neighborhood. I basically want to find the Capitol Hill (DC) of London, is that so hard to find? :)

I'm looking in parts of West London, and hopefully we'll find that perfect flat! We've seen four already, and nearly put in an offer on a flat in Ladbroke Grove, but going to hold off for another week just in case something else becomes available. I'm so ready to make this happen, and get my nest on so we can really get ready for baby girl, who doesn't even have a place to sleep or a place in the pram. So much to do!

Jul 15, 2014

23 weeks and feeling fine

Last night my friends threw a small Bastille party, complete with a fabulous spread of delicious crepes and all the fillings you could ever dream of. One of my guy friends asked me how the whole pregnancy thing was going and I launched into this (hormonal-induced?) diatribe of how great the 2nd trimester is and how happy I am and etc etc. I went on for a good 2 minutes before I realized he was mostly just trying to be polite and probably, as a single man, didn't really care to know all the intricacies of trimesters and weeks and hormones and the run-down I gave him. Oops.

It's a funny thing, pregnancy. I've had some pretty serious ups and downs with baby #2. We had been trying for awhile to get pregnant again and had two miscarriages after moving to London last September. The first miscarriage I shrugged my shoulders and said we'll try again, but the second one wrecked me. It was really very hard, made more difficult by the fact that nearly to the day of my second miscarriage, two of my sisters announced they were very early on in their pregnancies. After a couple weeks of taking it slow and just trying to come to terms with what had happened, I decided to focus on my health and to improve my eating habits and start exercising again, so I could feel proud of my body again. And I did it - I gained muscle and lost a few extra pounds, started eating more greens and grains, less cookies and ice cream, and after about a month I felt renewed. Two months later, I found out I was pregnant again. I was so nervous to even sneeze or run too fast for fear of miscarrying again, but here we are 23 weeks into the pregnancy and my belly is swelling larger every day. I finally stopped having morning sickness about 3 weeks ago, and now I just feel great. And yes, I'll tell anybody who asks all about how great I feel. :) I have so much energy, my focus is ever-so-slowly returning to me. I've taken on several projects "just because", including:
1. We are moving to a new flat sometime in the next two months
2. We transitioned Henry out of his crib, and he's now sleeping on his mattress on the floor. He's doing great with it.
3. POTTY TRAINING. Again, he's doing great but I feel like a prisoner in my own home. I thought potty training in 3 days meant he'd be totally good to go, no accidents, but of course things are never that easy. We are on day 6 and he was accident free today, but mostly because I badger him with "do you have to pee?" every 20 minutes.

Not to mention all the nesting I'm doing of shopping for baby girl, taking stock of what we have vs what we need, stressing over double strollers vs stroller/ride-on board.

I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to be in this stage of life. So many tender moments talking to Henry about the baby - he's taken to kissing my belly lately (he's also become quite the little kissing boy, it's hilarious) and will sing to the baby with me. I hate that I had to experience miscarriages and endure 3 unending months of horrible morning sickness, but it has made me so grateful for the miracle of pregnancy and feeling well again.