22 May 2017

one year later...

summertime seems to have arrived in london!!! yesterday and today it has been sooooo gloriously warm and sunny and it feels like the whole of the city is lit up with exultation.

after church yesterday, we had a picnic with our friend martin at a little park next to the hospital where moses was born - right on the thames directly across from big ben. after, we asked martin to snap a few photos of our little family in a cool spot that we love.

we wanted to recreate the picture we took in the same place this time last year, when i was 7.5 months pregnant.

exact same spot on earth, totally different spot in life.

it's wild and fun to think about all that has happened since last may. becoming parents has expanded our world in so many different ways. we have grown a ton - individually and as a couple - which at times has been painful but mostly has been outrageously sweet. every night we get on our knees and thank god for our little moses.

i am excited to see what next may's picture in this very spot looks like :)

this afternoon, moses fell asleep in the buggy as we were heading home from a friend's house. i strolled him into st. james park and laid on the grass under a huge tree. as i looked up at the green leaves etching a ruffling pattern against the blue sky, i thought about this may, and last may, and the may before that, and the may before that. i find a lot of wonder in watching my life story unfold. and i'm looking forward to the mays of the future with a fond anticipation, because i'm sure the best is yet to come.

19 May 2017

travel: meaningful, and meaningless

when we were in the states in march, we had the fantastic opportunity to teach a class at brigham young university! 

a reader of this blog was enrolled in a course at byu called "global adventure travel," and her professor had challenged the students to invite individuals they knew that had varied experience around the world to be guest speakers in the class. i was so excited when i got an email from sydney asking us if we would come share our experiences with her classmates. 

ian and i had a great time preparing and delivering our message - it was a cool thing to reflect on and project to work on together. 

we focused our message on six ways that travel helps us to become better human beings. we shared these six ideas through sharing six pictures/stories. because byu is a church university, we talked openly about spiritual aspects of lessons learned in travel, and how engaging in new adventure and diverse culture deepens our ability, in beautiful ways, to be true disciples of jesus christ. 

we started our presentation by getting to know the students in the class a bit, and telling them some tidbits about us. then, ian, ever a lover of numbers and data, showed them this chart that he created:
can you guess what the x and y axises are? :) 

we told the students that we love to travel because it's fun and because it's exciting. but, in our opinion, that's a pretty poor reason in and of itself to do a whole lot of something. we prioritize travel in our shared life because it helps us to become better human beings, and better disciples of christ. because it is not only fun and exciting, but because it is tremendously meaningful.

there's actually dozens and dozens of means that we feel travel deepens us in valuable ways, but we chose to elaborate on just six:

^^ photo from kandy, sri lanka ^^
^^ photo from our road trip through north dakota, south dakota, and nebraska - to fulfill a random dream of ian's ^^

^^ for this last principle, we didn't have a picture, and that was part of the point we wanted to get across (that travel trains us in the balance between documenting and absorbing the present without documenting). we shared a story from nepal. ^^

after we shared these (what we consider to be) worthy reasons to do what's possible to make travel a part of one's life, we shared some of our tips around travel budgeting and travel planning. 

and then - after we'd quite passionately discussed at length all the wonderful, honorable virtues of travel - we shared our opinion that, actually, travel doesn't matter. it is, ultimately, trivial.

in the end, there are many, many ways to learn how to be a better human (and a better disciple of christ). we can deepen ourselves - our appreciation, connections, devotion, relationships, and perspectives - in our own backyards, through so many different opportunities that are all around us if we but seek them. and in the end, it really won't matter how many countries we've been to or how many exciting adventures abroad we've had. 

ian and i have determined that we really don't want our life to be about travel. we want travel to be part of our life - in moderation - because it is like a turbo button on meaningful deepening (and yes, because it is fun and exciting - which isn't a bad thing!). 

but we want our life to be about family, faith, charity, sacrifice, and finding and spreading joy from ordinary (rather than exotic) things. we want to be able to be truly deepened by the simple experiences - visiting someone who is sick or struggling, soothing newborn babies in the middle of the night, magnifying invitations to serve at church, putting in hard work to strengthen our marriage, being involved in causes that alleviate suffering in the world, stopping to commune with god in a fast-paced world, having family dance parties before bedtime. 

the thrill of travel can be contagious, consuming, even addicting. it is so so meaningful, but it is also, in the grand scheme of things, meaningless. and so, we shared a bit of advice with those bright-eyed students at brigham young university that morning: seek and relish opportunities to travel as much as possible, but seek and relish the truly important stuff more.

thanks again, sydney, for inviting us to your class!

17 May 2017

ten thoughts on a wednesday

to those of you who took me up on my dare (in my last post), thank you!! it has truly been a joy hearing from each of you and connecting with you and learning from you! i happen to know that there are more (thousands more, actually) of you readers out there that haven't yet fulfilled my dare -- i'd really love to hear from you, too! :) human connection is so valuable and so beautiful and i just adore the ways this blog has allowed me to do more of it!
(note: reading through the comments on that post, i think, is a cool experience for anyone, not just me! :) you now need to click "load more" at the very bottom of the page (under the comment box) to view them all.)

a belated happy mothers day to all! i know this day can be hugely special for many, and also poignantly painful for others. but i really believe we all, all, all have great reason to celebrate motherhood in all its forms. of course i feel differently about motherhood this year than i ever have before, and i'm just deeply humbled and amazed and moved by the power and beauty of mothering, which to me is just any nurturing of souls.
a bunch of people reached out to me this past sunday to wish me a happy first mothers day. i giggled at that because actually, mothers day is celebrated in march here in the uk. so in a way this past sunday was my second mothers day ;) and i kind of love that, as an american living in england, i have two days to celebrate motherhood (and to be celebrated in my motherhood :)).

speaking of mothers, i just started watching call the midwife this week while ian has been traveling for work. and i. am. obsessed. i love it so so much, and i sob every time a baby is born. i could read birth stories and learn about childbirth and watch call the midwife all day, every day and not get bored.

also speaking of mothers, i have been thinking recently a bit more about heavenly mother. the other day i pulled the book our heavenly family, our earthly families of our bookshelf and carefully read through it as part of my daily scripture study. this is such an awesome book (and it is gorgeously illustrated by my childhood friend and uber-talented artist caitlin connolly [as is the painting i've included an image of at the top of this post]). the main takeaway i had after going through it this past week is that our family life is the best school - where we learn how to be a true friend and a good neighbor, how to make mistakes and practice forgiveness, and how to recognize god's spirit and influence.

i came across a quote from one of my favourite poets, mary oliver, simply describing her instructions for living a life: "pay attention, be astonished, tell about it." i love it. i strive to follow this pattern.

on the tube the other day, moses started making friends with a stranger (as he does every single day). the guy he was waving and smiling at remarked, "he's sure a happy chappy!" and it just made my day. i think i'm officially adding happy chappy to little mo's list of nicknames (to go with mr. cuteface and sweetie boy).

i completed an item from my bucket list this past week! i finished reading the chronicles of narnia! i love, love, love those books - the magic and the adventure and mostly the powerful, intriguing, beautiful christian symbolism. i have genuinely felt closer to god and christ through reading those seven volumes.

at the gym, i've been realizing that i need to challenge my body more or my workouts won't really make much of a difference. and then i've been thinking about how the same applies to my mind, my spirit and my character. i need to push myself more - leave my comfort zone, engage in new challenging projects, stretch my brain and perspective and daily activity. i hope that in a future "ten thoughts on wednesday" post i can report back on how i am doing this!

ian and i are working on strengthening our marriage. in that (neverending) process, i have recently been thinking a lot about the concept of unconditional love. i believe that the type of love that is completely unattached to any requirements is the only type of love that can truly empower us and our partners to become better. i'm trying to practice more unconditional love by forgiving more readily, by offsetting negative thoughts or sentiments with positives, and by striving to be more humble about my own shortcomings and my own yearning for unqualified love.

ian and i have always wanted and hoped to have multiple children, so i've been pondering a lot recently on how this one-on-one parenting time i have with moses is so unique. i've been trying to really cherish and relish this season of life when i get to focus on, play with, learn from and enjoy just my one little buddy. he is so much fun and i feel so blessed that he's the one to teach me about being a parent. every chapter of life is so beautiful in its own way!

---and here's a few photos from life lately in london! ---

^^ a view from a run i took one twilight evening after ian got home from work and moses went to bed. the views i took in down and across the thames filled my soul with wonder and beauty that i really needed after a heavy couple of days. ^^
^^ i came across this view into camden locks on my way to yoga, and loved it! ^^
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^^ moses and i go to “mummy & me” yoga most tuesdays, and it is the best! i get a pretty good workout in, moses plays with some new toys and new friends, and at the end we do fun nursery rhymes and giggles and stretches together. ^^
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^^ from a walk with a set of mum & baby friends in little venice! there’s always a new corner of london for me to explore. ^^
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^^ someone woke up from his nap really happy and with some fantastic bed head. ^^
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^^ this is how moses looks everytime he hears the facetime ring and sees himself on the phone. he looooooves it and gets so excited. // last saturday while ian was studying i took moses to the banqueting house on whitehall. it’s a kind of random destination but has incredible history and a spectacular preserved painted ceiling. i love how there’s just a bunch of beanbags on the floor so you can have a sit and enjoy looking at the amazing ceiling. ^^
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^^ lately, we’ve often walked down to victoria embankment gardens to spend the last hour before bedtime playing in the grass. the first time we did this, moses reaaaally wanted to eat the grass and tiny flowers. the picture on the right is his face after i explained that those things aren’t for eating (darn!). ^^
^^ another snap from my run – taken from beloved waterloo bridge. ^^
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^^ ian took these photos of my baby and me on american mother’s day. we had a picnic in the park and then took a family walk in the spring sunshine. ooooooh my i love being this boy’s mama. ^^
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^^ a random pretty sight i noticed while out running some errands. // i adore how moses constantly crosses his ankles. i just think it is the cutest thing ever, ever. also, he’s pretty much always wearing mismatched socks these days because he keeps pulling them off and we lose them! ^^
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^^ ^^ from a walk through the rose garden near hyde park corner. when moses falls asleep in his stroller when we are out and about running errands, i have to walk walk walk to keep him asleep for a good nap. not complaining!! ^^ ^^
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^^ post bath, hanging out on the grass before bedtime. that is some wild hair! ian and i are just having such a hard time with the idea of cutting it!! but i think we’ve decided at last that we will let it grow until we are in the states in july and then little mo can have his first haircut at bear lake :) ^^

happy wednesday! life is beautiful!
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