19 May 2016

sisters in london!!!

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living really far away from most family members and closest friends can be pretty heart-wrenching.
especially when huge life milestones like having a baby are happening.

up until recently, i hadn’t felt the pang of distance or much homesickness since we moved to london ten months ago. that brand of tender hankering had been abated by years of living in different states than my parents and siblings, the security of being married to my best friend, several consecutive months traveling abroad, visits from loved ones, and the excitement of living in a really spectacular place.

but a real heartsick twinge hit me a couple of months ago when i thought about not having a special gathering with women i've long known and treasure – a baby shower! – before our little one arrives and we start our family. i started missing my sisters and my kindred spirit friends back in america quite fiercely! and as my pregnancy progressed and the hugest life transition started getting closer and closer, some pretty thick homesickness started to settle in.

then, my beloved sisterfriend amy offered to throw me a baby shower!
amy lives with her husband and four daughters in chelmsford (about an hour outside london), and has known me literally since the day i was born. she and my sister saydi have been bffs since they were three, and amy was practically part of our family growing up (and still is today!). the boy and i love, love, love the schwartzes (amy’s family) and have spent christmas and some other wonderful times with them over the past ten months. although i wish i saw amy (and her family) more often, it has been such a blessing and joy to live close to her.
and when she told me she wanted to organize a shower for me and baby boy, my homesick heart was so so soothed – even though the women i am very closest to wouldn’t be around, i was thrilled to have an opportunity to celebrate with amy + new london friends.

then!
about six weeks ago i got an email from my sister saydi. it was a forwarded confirmation of travel for two from boston to london! saydi texted me and said “saren and i are coming to your baby shower!” i was so so so so surprised, absolutely overjoyed, and incredibly touched that two of my sisters would come across the earth to be with me at this special time.
they flew in last thursday morning and flew out yesterday afternoon. i really can’t express how much it meant to me to have them here.

we had an awesome six days together!!! of course we were missing our other sister, shawni. her daughter’s high school graduation fell on the same week as the baby shower, so she couldn’t come. we were definitely incomplete without her, but she’s coming to london with her family next month! and amy was the perfect stand-in fourth sister (because really she’s like a fifth sister anyway!).

i’ll share more photos from the shower and our sisters’ week in london when saydi and saren send me the ones they took, but for now here’s a smattering of (mostly iphone) snapshots from our time together. i’m tearing up right now writing this because i so wish that time wasn’t over and because it was just so special  (that’s such a trite word, but there’s no other way to describe it!) to be together here in london just weeks before baby boy arrives.
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^^ joyful reunion at our meeting point (coming from my flat, amy’s house and the airport) in trafalgar square! ^^
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^^ after lunch and strolling around covent garden with amy, we grabbed some santander bikes (one of the best things about this city!) and cruised through st. james’s park, green park, hyde park and kensington gardens, en route to notting hill and portobello road. it was perfect weather and so so much fun! ^^
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^^ we spent some time relaxing and talking in kensington gardens. saydi and saren were champs with the jetlag! and it was so so fun to talk (mostly about babies!) face to face! we kept commenting that we couldn't believe we were there together - it felt like a dream.^^
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^^ indian food dinner around the corner from my flat. ^^
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^^ scones with clotted cream and jam at fortnum & mason after a stroll around mayfair. (clearly we had already gobbled them up!) ^^
on friday night we went out to amy’s house and had the loveliest dinner with the schwartz family. after dinner, we all walked to the hylands estate, which is stunningly gorgeous and in full spring bloom! then, we stayed up late baking and prepping for the baby shower and chatting and laughing together.
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^^ love these girls so so much! ^^
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^^ and these girls the most of any in the world! ^^
the shower on saturday morning was so, so, very, very lovely. our friend rachel hosted it at her beautiful home in st. john’s wood. {rachel and her family have become dear friends to the boy and i  - we connected with them right when we moved to london because our niece elle had lived with them for a couple of months last summer. we absolutely adore rachel and brian and their four girls.} the brunch spread was incredibly delicious, the company was stellar, and the celebration was hearty and so wonderful. it was really one of the happiest mornings ever. {more on this later.}
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^^ amy’s girls (sans 12-year-old marta, who had a previous engagement and who we missed!) and rachel’s girls composed and performed a song as a gift for me. it was the absolute sweetest thing ever. ^^
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^^ a group hug with crofts and schwartz girls?! best thing ever. ^^
we spent the rest of saturday with amy’s and rachel’s families - we walked to primrose hill and then along the canal to camden market all together. it was seriously a blast - one of my favourite london afternoons yet (although we missed the boy, who was studying at home). below are some photos that brian (rachel’s husband, who is a fantastic photographer) snapped and shared with me.
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^^ after battling the crowds and eating a delicious, diverse dinner (the group of us picked up different dishes from stands selling polish, italian, indian, israeli, moroccan and peruvian food), we met this fantastic gentleman. ^^ he let us each try on his psychedelic heart sunglasses! there’s so much character and so many characters at camden market – i love it! ^^
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^^ after the crofts and the schwartzes took off, saydi and saren and i explored the market a bit more and then walked back to st. john’s wood via the canal. this is a part of london none of us had ever been to, and it was really fun to see! ^^
on sunday after church we had a sublime little picnic in regent’s park (my favourite london park, and my sisters had never been there!) with ian. saydi snapped a few photos of us and the baby bump :)
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^^ we rode bikes back to the flat from regent’s park – through charming neighborhoods and then down busy oxford street and regent’s street – it was exhilarating!! ^^
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^^ on monday at the victoria & albert museum, after i'd been at work meetings while saydi and saren explored cambridge with amy. ^^
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^^ on monday night saydi (check out her photography website!) did a little maternity photo shoot with us. these photos were taken right outside the hospital where baby boy will be born. we also took some in our neighborhood around trafalgar square. i’ll share more soon! ^^
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^^ after our tuesday morning run to borough market, we enjoyed eating the best donuts in the entire world and then we explored the rest of the day in our running clothes! ^^
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^^ we popped in the tate modern and marveled at this installation, which fills a whole gallery room and is made entirely of … human hair! i love being in museums with my sisters and i really loved this piece. ^^
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^^ views from the tate modern. ^^
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^^ panoramic views from the top of the dome at st. paul’s! ^^
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^^ we took a little fifty minute circle cruise on the thames! so nice to sit and watch all the wonders of london glide by along the river. i know, we are looking really good! – haha! ^^
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^^ on tuesday night, we went baby shopping on oxford street! it was so nice to have my sisters with me to pick out some newborn necessities. i sure hope our little guy is “cool like his aunts” like the onesie above says! :) we also saw his other aunt the day before when we visited the hyde park chapel, where they have a display of “i’m a momon” videos, one of which features our sister shawni (it was made a few years ago). we thought it was pretty hilarious to take a picture with her picture on the screen! ^^ {you can watch shawni’s video here. i tear up at the end every single time i see it!} on our last morning together, we went to the sky garden at the top of the “walkie talkie” building. i think this spot is so cool, and was excited to show it to saydi and saren! they loved experiencing the garden jungle overlooking the concrete jungle.
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^^ a rainy view from front of the top of a double decker bus – our favourite london mode of transportation (well, maybe second to the santander bikes!) ^^
after i dropped saydi and saren off at the tube (to ride to the train to ride to the airport), i walked home with a heavy heart. heavy with immediate sadness and missing after their departure, but also heavy with gratitude and love and happiness. as i mentioned earlier, it’s really impossible for me to explain how much it meant to me to have my sisters here this past week.
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12 comments :

  1. Well, three of my favorite five women on the planet!

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  2. What fun that two of your sisters could come out and share in the excitement of your baby shower! Awesome family. Great photos. Lisa

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  3. This is lovely.

    I bet you couldn't believe it when your read the e-mail.:)

    Did they stay in your flat or in a hotel?

    Wow, I bet you can't wait until Shawni & her family come over. I bet you'll all have a brill time.

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    1. * I bet you couldn't believe it when you read the e-mail:)

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  4. i love that you found a way to get Shawni in a picture. That's pretty funny. And what a wonderful surprise to have some of your sisters out for your shower-bet that made your day! Congratulations again on your pregnancy!

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  5. I'm sooooo glad we could come and so glad it meant so much to you. It was one of the very best weeks of my life.

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  6. Wait, don't you only have three sisters? Who's your mom's fifth-favorite woman on the planet??

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    1. Char, thanks for being the best hostess ever. That was a moment in time we'll never forget. Love you and that sweet baby in there.

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  7. Don't know how Dad sneaked in a comment on my computer! On second thought, he can figure out how to do anything: ;) I love that this happened! Even though i wasn't there, I get to be there for the best part!

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  8. Don't know how Dad sneaked in a comment on my computer! On second thought, he can figure out how to do anything: ;) I love that this happened! Even though i wasn't there, I get to be there for the best part!

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  9. This post really touched me! Thanks for sharing how much your sisters mean to you. What a beautiful surprise.

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