Monday, February 5, 2018

Home Again

It’s hard to believe a year ago I was in El Paso because Mom has a tumor removed from her abdomen.  I’m back because the cancer has returned and now she is going through chemo treatments.  I talk to my parents every day checking on them but it’s so hard to know what is going on or how to help until you go visit.  I’m so glad that Jason went on kid duty and I could go hug on my parents for a weekend.

I am leaving El Paso with confidence that my mom will beat this awful disease.  I have faith that God will answer prayers.  I’m impressed with my dad and the support he is offering to Mom.  I’m blown away by the strength of my parents and their love for each other.  

As I look out the window and I’m awed by the early morning beauty, I realized that I learned or relearned many lessons this past weekend.

  1. Faith and prayer conquers all.
  2. Always trust God and his plan for you.
  3. Love and support makes hardships much easier.
  4. Cherish every day and make the most of everyday.
  5. Hug, kiss and tell your family and friends how much you love them.
  6. We can control our mind and thoughts but not our body.
  7. Your friends will rally around you in tough times so chose them well.
  8. Collective knowledge is good but can also be overwhelming.
  9. When you ask someone how are you, actually stop and listen to their answer.
  10. Never underestimate how much your simple smile, a warm hug, a sweet phone call, a quick text, or a heart felt card means to someone while they are facing a hardship.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

My First Run

I went for my first run of the year yesterday!  I have unpacked all my running clothes and it was time to give it a try.

I was really nervous in running in the cold.  I find it so hard to breath and my ears hurt.  I usually avoided running in London but I decided I would run in my hat and gloves.  It made the run bearable.
The start of the run was downhill towards the river.  It made the start awesome and a little fast.  I was so proud of myself until I got to the river and then thought I was going to pass out.  You can see the straight yellow line at the bottom of the map which is where I met my enemy, the hill.  I made it a mile and a half and then I pushed myself to make it the last half mile but it took everything I had to keep my legs moving.  I actually ran at my normal pace for my second mile so I need to work on pacing myself at the start.

The scenery while running in Hoboken was so similar to Chiswick that I found my mind wandering to my London runs.  I feel like I have traded in one river for another river.  I find myself exhaling as I reached the river and finding my peace within.  I love the picture below that is blurry.  I feel like it represents running to me.  How everything around me is blurry and my mind is focused on letting everything go.  I find myself forgiving myself as I run for the million things I do wrong in a day.  My ah-ha moments come as my feet hit the pavement and my mind becomes creative as I solve the problems that are eating away at me.  I need running in my life for my sanity.

I had a really bad 10k run in London in July and haven't ran since then.  I haven't really shared it with anyone but I became terrified to run.  I woke up the morning with an upset stomach.  I decided that I was going to go ahead and run.  I started off really good and felt good then about half way through I thought I was going to pass out.  I started sweating profusely and not just I'm running sweat but my all my clothes are drenched with sweat wet.  Then as I crossed the Westminster bridge, I broke out in chills and I thought I was done running.  My legs weighed 100 pounds each.  I was barely running and then I turned the corner and there was my family.  Jason and the kids were there to cheer me to the finish line and it gave me enough energy to make it to the end.  It was my slowest and most painful 10k that I ran.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get myself to run.  I thought I was done running and then I found myself making a New Year's resolution about running.  My subconscience knew what I needed more than I realized and I'm so thankful that I'm running again.  Since its been so long since I have ran, I definitely feel like I'm starting over on my running journey but I'm proud of myself for getting back out there!  I hope there will be lots more running posts over the year and I hope this is one New Year's Resolution that I keep!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Things I've Missed

Oh my goodness, there are so many things that I didn't even realized I missed until we moved back and I get to have them again!  Going to the store is such a treat even the kids are on their best behavior at the store.

A few of things that seem so small but oh so important are softer toilet paper and more absorbent paper towels.  When I order things, I know what I’m buying and I understand the measurements.

Oh my goodness, all the junk food!   So much  junk food that tastes oh so good.  I think I've gained 10 pounds since being back but I refuse to step on a scale and confirm that.  We have been eating Cheetos, queso, Oreos, ruffles, Monterrey Jack cheese, salsa, Fritos, and Ranch on everything.  Pizza with pepperoni and sausage, oh the size of the pizzas too!  The kids cannot get enough goldfish and they love eating graham crackers for dessert.

My friends who are in Chiswick, trash and recycle pick up is insane.  Our recycle gets picked up on Monday and Thursdays.  It also doesn't have to be separated, we have one large recycle bin where everything goes!  Our trash gets picked up 3 times a week, it feels like a luxury.  We can't accumulate trash fast enough.  It is hilarious and we keep thinking of all the environmental consequences.  There has to be a middle ground, right?!?  I have to say for the moment, we are enjoying it and are thankful that we are not cramming bags into our bin for our every other week trash pick up.

There are a few things that I miss about Chiswick.  I miss all fresh fruits and vegetables.  I also miss how easy it was to find healthy food and avoid the junk food.  Hence, the huge list of junk food above.  I didn’t have to worry about organic, antibiotic free, grass fed when buying food.  Also, everything in Chiswick was so Fresh and only last a few days where here everything comes slightly under ripe and takes a while before you can use it.

I miss our friends.  I miss running into people as we were running errands.  I miss meeting at the park and our coffee mornings.  I miss the pubs.  I miss Gin and Tonics especially the sip smith with cucumber one at the Roebuck.  I know those things will come here but it takes time to settle into a community and makes friends.

The adjustment to moving back to the States has been very easy.  The kids are going to a small school (1 class per grade) so it has made it easy for them to  settle in and start making friends.  One thing about Americans, that I had forgotten, is how we make everything convenient.  We are slowly unpacking too...


Friday, January 19, 2018

New Year's Resolutions - A Honest Me

I never follow through on my New Year's Resolutions and I'm pretty sure there was a post from last year where I was so positive about keeping my resolutions.  So here is another year and I'm taking another go at it.  Here are my resolutions for 2018:

1.  Find resolution in the working mom versus stay at home mom debate inside my head.  I never pictured myself a stay at home mom but now I can't imagine going back to work.  When I am with my stay at home mom friends, I definitely identify with them.  I can agree that staying at home is the hardest, most exhausting, most rewarding job I have ever worked.  There are days that I hate it and can't imagine doing it anymore.  I want to turn in my resignation and never look back but for some reason Jason never accepts it.  There is a honesty between me and my kids that we have developed since I started staying at home.  There is the exposure to our true selves and being happy, sad, and/or mad together.  Then when I am with my working mom friends, I find myself envious of their job.  The sense of satisfaction knowing that I'm financially contributing to our family.  The excitement of adult conversations that has nothing to do with your kids and being able to use your skills everyday.  I feel like my skills are slipping away from me slowly.  I want to set an example for my kids that you can do anything that you want and you can pursue any job that you want.  I want to become confident in my decision wether it is to continue to stay home or go back to work.  I also want to accept that the decision doesn't have to be a forever decision but a decision for what is right for me and our family at that moment.  Whichever one I decide, I want to do my best and not always wonder if I should've chosen a different path and when its time to chose a different path that I can recognize that too.

2.  I want to treat blogging and photography like a job not like a hobby.  I want to set aside very specific time every week that is only for blogging and only for photography.  I want to get better and consistent with both.  I want to seek constructive criticism so that I can improve and become more successful at both.

3.  I want to run and run and run this year.  I want to consistently run and work myself up to a half marathon.  I'm not committing to a half marathon just want to run like I'm training for one.  I have been struggling with running recently and its something I need in my life.  It helps me think and keep me balanced.  Its my time where no one is demanding my attention or my to do list is staring me in the face.  I want to run consistently all year.

I noticed that these resolutions are more about me this year and less about my family.  I think my final resolution is to focus on myself and find what makes me happy.  I want to find what fulfills me and what makes me feel successful.  It kind of summarizes the resolutions above.  If I can focus on myself and be more comfortable with who I am, then I know I will be a better wife and mom.  I tell everyone that I don't know what I want to be when I grow up and I don't know what would satisfy me.  I kind of laugh it off like a joke but if I'm completely honest with myself, I don't know what I want to do with my life.  I'm turning 40 this year and I want to embrace it.  I want to use this year to focus on me and be honest with myself about what I want and need.  I am going to embrace the good and bad.  I'm going to continue to improve on myself and become a more content me.

This is the most honest picture I found of me from this previous years.  This is my year of honestly looking at myself!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

In Transition

Hello!  Its so nice to be back and writing!  I have been struggling with what to write as we say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018.  There is so much to say about saying goodbye to London and there is so much to share about our new adventures in Hoboken, NJ!  As I sit here and reflect on 2017, I feel like I'm going to start by saying goodbye to London.  I believe in closure and reflection on the past as you prepare for the future.

I cannot write about saying goodbye to Chiswick without talking about the friends we made there.  I don't even have the words to explain the friendships and the impact that they will have on us.  While you are out and about, the minute you hear an American accent, you know you will be friends.  You immediately start talking, sharing experiences, and helping each other navigate through life in Chiswick.  We said goodbye to friends who we have been a part of every major event in our lives for the past couple of years.  We have laughed together, we have cried together, we have complained to each other, we have loved each other's children, and we have helped each other through tough times.  We also made new British friends who were willing to open their lives to us Americans and welcome us into their circles for whatever amount of time we were going to be there.  Its hard and time consuming to make new friends especially when you have other obligations.  I know the wonderful British friends we made, will be our friends for a very long time and we will be back to visit them.  Our friends is what made our time in London priceless and we love our London family dearly.

There are so many fun parts of living in London and we were so much more comfortable that we had an exciting year.  We were able to have so many new experiences and be exposed to so many fun things!  We went to a Polo match with lots of friends where we drank Pimms, stomped divots, and cheered on the polo players.  We took Mom to Windsor Castle and the horse races.  We also visited the Sky Gardens, even managed to make it to Sky Gardens for yoga at 6 am.  We went to the Gherkin and the Shard.  The views of London are stunning and never get old!  I love Borough market and the amount of food you can try.  Oh, I have a love/hate relationship with the fun fairs that show up at the parks several times a year.  The kids love them and beg to go but they are way expensive.  There are so many attractions for kids too.  We took the kids to Lego land for Sebastian's 5th birthday and went to Shrek Adventures as their Christmas Present.  We also celebrated Jason's 40th birthday at our neighborhood pub.  We took Taryn to see Annie which was fantastic!  We also tried so many good restaurants and took more pictures of our food than I realized.  I ran three 10ks races.  I also learned so much about wine through the West London School of Wine.  I even got to take my mom and dad to wine classes.  We continued to spend lots of time at the river: running, watching the Cambridge and Oxford boat race, and lots of walks.  We have also explored lots of parks in London.  In 2017 we went to Holland Park, Hyde Park, Olympic Park, Putt Putt in the Park, and Osterly Park.  We ended 2017 with a bang!  We stood on Westminster Pier and watched the amazing fireworks show with our dear friends!

One of my favorite things about London is the flowers and trees that are everywhere.  So many different flowers that you see and the beauty that surrounds you.  It made walking everywhere so much better.  We tried to stop and take pictures as enjoyed the nature around us.

We got to experience different holidays.  We celebrated Mother's Day in March.  We went to an Easter Egg hunt on Easter Monday.  We saw fantastic fireworks for Guy Fawks day at a local chruch with a bonfire.  We have Boxing Day after Christmas with amazing sales!

In 2017, we traveled all over Europe and the UK.  It was amazing and one of my most favorite parts of living in Europe.  Jason and I are committed to continue to travel now that we are back in the States.   I was fortunate enough to take two girls trip to Bordeaux and Nice in France.  I loved them both!  I really need to learn French.  We also went to Paris twice with friends.  We climbed to the top to the Eiffel tower, saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and explored the Monmarte neighborhood.  We had an amazing trip in the spring to Hellsinki, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.  We flew from London to Hellsinki then took an overnight river cruise from Hellsinkito Stockholm, the train from Stockholm to Copenhagen, then plane from Copenhagen back to London.  Of all the places we went, this was my favorite trip.  We explored museums, forts, amusement parks, zoos, shopping, boats, and lots of eating!  We also did a little more traveling wtihin the UK.  We went to Edinburgh for a weekend and loved exploring the castle and hiking Arthur's point.  We went to York and Warwick Castle.  We also took day trips to Cambridge and Brighton.  We went to Amsterdam with 1000s of other people to see the blooming tulips.  It was overwhelming with all the people but the most beautiful sight too.  While we were in Amsterdam, we also took a canal tour and ate some awesome pancakes.  I came back to New York to meet my family to celebrate my mom's 70th birthday.  It was so much fun and we did all the touristy things in NYC.  (At the time of the trip, we did not think we would be moving here.  So crazy how fast things change!)  We couldn't  leave Europe without squeezing in one more beach trip so off to Dubrovnik, Croatia.  It was beautiful!  We saw the most stunning views while walking the old walls.  We explored the carless old city and the kids ate lots of pizza.  We enjoyed our quick getaway to the sunshine!  We also squeezed in a 24 hour trip to Cologne for the Christmas markets.  We bought tons of ornaments and lots of Christmas goodies.  Mom and I also enjoyed our Baileys and Hot Chocolates.

 2017 was a tremendous traveling year and I feel like we got to explore some amazing places!

Life is not complete without all the kids activities and school projects!  First, Jillian started reception!  Its hard to believe all three of my babies where in school together.  We had our school projects for the 2017 year: Mars, Easter bonnets, Roman Shield, and recycle art.  We also did pictures in a studio at Snappy Snaps which the kids absolutely loved, even more than the outside pictures they grudgingly take ever year.  We also had field day where the kids compete in several races.  Taryn and Sebastian did the long jump.  Taryn raced the obstacle course and Sebastian did the race with the ball on the racquet.  We of course run all over doing activities too.  Sebastian played and quit football several times over the year.  Taryn learned to play the piano and improved significantly.  Jillian did gymnastics and loved it!  All three swam and each hit many milestones.  They have learned so much in London and have found many talents.  They have also learned about their weaknesses and that they are not perfect.  Its ok not to be perfect, but give everything a go.  I hope, "Can I give it a go?" stays in their vocabulary forever!

London, and specifically Chiswick, you hold a special place in our hearts and have changed us.  We cherish the friendships that were made and will hold all our friends in our hearts.  Everyone's faces light up whenever we talk about London.

Enjoy our 2017 pictures!