things i like about my life right now, part 9


IMG 0451

i’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. of course this is because thanksgiving is coming right up, but also just because i have been searching for solutions for certain challenges in my life, and thankfulness seems to keep arising as the answer. and so, when i find myself starting to feel worried or comparing or blue, i am trying to thank god more, show more appreciation to ian, and just cultivate more gratitude in my heart … because wow!! i have so much to be thankful for. 

today i was walking with moses down the broad avenue that cuts through kensington gardens, and the world around us was glowing with autumn gold. and i just had one of those moments where i felt so overwhelmingly grateful for the beautiful life that i lead. i wrote ian an email at work and thanked him for helping so many of my dreams come true, and for giving me a family and a home that i adore, and in my heart i poured out thanks to god for all the joys and challenges and wonders of my day-to-day life. do you ever have those stop-in-your-tracks moments of deep “holy cow, life is beautiful” realizations? i was really glad to have one today.  

then i remembered how i used to keep a list of “happy things” in a notebook that i kept on my bedside table as a teenager, and how i used to write blog posts with simple lists of things i liked about my life. and i figured i was due for another post like that, in my efforts to be more actively grateful.

so here’s a quick run-down on a random friday night...

-i like that there is a beautiful tree outside our bedroom window, that right now simultaneously has tiny pink budding flowers and rich golden leaves on its branches (not sure if the tree is confused about seasons, or what!). i like looking at that tree, and below it into the super pretty garden that our downstairs neighbors keep. 

-i like that moses signs “i love you” (by rubbing his hand over his heart) whenever i lay him down in his crib to sleep. 

-i like that i’ve been trying new/fun/unusual recipes (thanks to a new food delivery service we caught a 50% deal off on recently).

-i like that, often, ian snuggles up to me and holds me in the middle of the night. and i really like that moses has been sleeping until 7:30 lately (usually he’s up between 6 and 6:30!). 

-i like that i am building deeper friendships with friends here in london.

-i like that, today, moses approached me while cleaning the kitchen with his coat in his hand and his big eyes looking up at me as if to say, please can we go outside again before it gets dark?; that we were able to hold hands and walk just across the street to the gardens for residents on our street; and that i could just watch with joyful wonder as my little son walked around the grass and the trees jabbering with glee.

-i like that there is both autumnal magic and christmas magic in my life right now, and that london just does such a good job at both! 

IMG 0400 IMG 0401 Lively
IMG 0411
IMG 0381 IMG 0378
IMG 0385

-i like that i have been planning my days ahead of time and filling them with outings and checking off to do lists and relationship building. 

-i like this one super soft gray sweater that i literally wear every single day (at least around our flat!) and i like making a cup of herbal tea in my tiny kitchen. 

-i like that i can watch ian bike home on the find friends app, and then, when i see he is close, take moses to the front window to watch for dada. 

-i like that we now get to walk to church - through really beautiful streets and in only twelve or so minutes! 

-i like living in london. a lot. more than ever before. 

IMG 5387 IMG 0375 

-i like telling ian about my day over dinner, and hearing about his day. i like sharing my life with my best friend. 

-i like feeling the flutterings of a teeny tiny baby moving inside of me! 

IMG 0439

have a great (and grateful) weekend, friends!

ten thoughts on a wednesday |23|

IMG 0209 IMG 0214

thank you for the excited congratulations on our baby news! we are feeling thrilled and grateful … and a tiny bit overwhelmed about the future of two kids under two! :)
we actually didn’t intend to announce our pregnancy to the world for a little while longer, but on monday afternoon my dad let me know that he had sent a mass email to all the (thousands of) subscribers of he and my mom’s website, and told me he hoped i didn’t mind that it was signed, in part, from “charity and ian +1.5 in london.” (he mistakenly thought i had already made a wide-reaching announcement.) well, i did mind … kind of a whole lot! i guess it seems kind of silly, but i had spent a lot of energy thinking about how i wanted to share our news on the internet, and i wanted ian and i to be able to do it together, in our own time (and in a fun and clever way). you only get to do this type of thing a very few times in your life! my dad assured me that no one would notice, but within an hour messages started rolling in from people inquiring about that “1.5.” and so ian and i quickly decided we had to make an announcement right away, to avoid our exciting secret being revealed on a closer-to-home scale by some stranger (i love all of you, dear blog readers, but i’m pretty sure that while i was sleeping that night here in london, someone out there would leave an exposing comment on this blog or elsewhere on the internet!). i scrambled to find a picture that i could post had that an ultrasound photo in it, while all my dreams of a cute and thoughtful reveal went down the drain - ha! and then i hastily posted that random selfie of ian and i outside the hospital after our first scan.
i’m already looking back at this experience and chuckling … but it really was quite upsetting in the moment! we are looking forward to sharing more about our baby (due date, pregnancy so far, birth plans, preparing for having two kids, etc etc) but now that dad’s got the very clear message that all of that is our news to share, i’m going to save that info for next week’s wednesday thoughts post :)
(love you so much, dad, and i know i said i would lay off the guilt trip… :) )

a few things i have been thinking about connected to strengthening my marriage, and myself:
be the person you want your spouse to be.
your spouse's issues aren’t your fault, or yours to fix; and vis versa.
praise breeds confidence, which makes most relationships better.
empathy is hugely important - consistently work to really put yourself in others’ (especially your spouse’s) shoes.

random rewind memory to share: when ian’s sister sarah and her husband michael were in town last month, we met them at the tower of london one night to watch the roadway of the tower of london raise as a big ship came through! i've always wanted to see this happen, but just have never made it to a scheduled opening. and it was really cool! pretty neat to think about the feat of engineering that bridge was when it was built long ago. and it’s just so beautiful - the second best bridge on planet earth (can you guess what i am sure is number one??).
IMG 5289
IMG 5298

christmas has officially arrived in londontown. i used to be the most staunch not-until-after-thanksgiving/don’t-dilute-the-magic christmas fanatic ever. but after spending two christmases in spectacularly christmassy london, i’ve decided to fully embrace pre-december christmastime. i realize now that i can still hold onto the wonder of thanksgiving, and just allow the magic of christmas to be extended rather than diluted. over the past week i have gone to four christmas light switch-on events and have taken moses to see a few spectacular christmas window displays. the old me is rolling over in her grave, but the new me is positively giddy!
but don’t worry - even though we live abroad and in such a early-to-christmas-stuff city, i’ve made sure we are properly celebrating thanksgiving — we have our thankful tree up and growing in the entryway of our new flat, we are going to a big pie party with a bunch of friends this weekend, and we’re having the whole traditional feast the saturday after thanksgiving with our dear family friends outside of london (and i’ll definitely make a modified thanksgiving dinner on the actual day to enjoy with ian after work!).
IMG 0218
IMG E0228
IMG 0233
^^ oxford street lighting last tuesday! ^^
IMG 0266
^^ carnaby street lighting last thursday ^^
IMG 0277 IMG 0280
^^ with a stop by to see the fortnum & mason windows on the way to the tube! ^^
IMG 0284 IMG 0294
^^ my favourite christmassy street in london - old bond street! // the windows at harrods! moses is obsessed. ^^
IMG 8967 IMG 6455IMG 4494
^^ covent garden lighting last night - so fun (and a little surreal!) to be in our old neighborhood! ^^
IMG 9232 IMG 3732
IMG 0787 IMG 0369
IMG 9605
^^ marylebone street fair and lighting tonight. they had santa’s sleigh, fake snow falling, and real reindeer! little mo and his friend samuel were loving it! ^^

i have three new mantras i am trying to live by more these days:
“comparison is the thief of joy.”
“expect nothing and appreciate everything."
“it’s always better in the morning."

one specific thing i was sad to leave in our old neighborhood was my gym. it was just a 3 minute walk away from our flat and had all the basic equipment that i like to use (as well as regular classes), and it was so cheap (this is extremely hard to find in london). i considered joining a new gym close to our new flat, but it was more than twice the cost of the old one and significantly smaller … so i decided to try something different for exercise over at least the next few months. i have been waking up early most mornings and working out in our living room using the app “sworkit,” which just tells you different strength training or cardio exercises to do in timed intervals. i also have been going to a weekly workout for a bunch of moms led by a friend at our new church building - it is awesome because all the babies/kids have a blast playing together and with all the toys at the church while the moms exercise together (and chat for a long time afterwards!). and i’ve gotten back to the mat and started attending yoga classes occasionally again. i am always so blissed out after a good yoga session - it makes my mind and body and spirit so happy!
i am incredibly grateful for my healthy body - especially as i carry this tiny babe in my belly!

i am trying to wrap my head around this: a bunch of hollywood moguls are accused of sexual assault, therefore they are completely shunned by everyone in their industry and despised by the general public; donald trump was accused of sexual assault and caught on tape bragging about it, therefore he was elected president of the united states. what?! man, that election that happened last year is still surreal, and from where i stand, it just keeps getting weirder.

a few tidbits about moses:
he is really settling into his new home. we think he was pretty confused the first week - it probably felt like we were on a trip, but all of his stuff was there?! but he just adores all the extra space in our new flat and has now explored pretty much every nook and cranny. he loves to climb inside a nearly empty cupboard in the kitchen, and now we call it his “clubhouse.” he hangs out there while i cook :) he has also discovered that our downstairs neighbors have a cat that hangs out in their back garden. he is so excited to see the cat out the window in our bedroom, it’s almost painful.
he has started signing “i love you” by rubbing his hand over his heart. it is the sweetest thing ever!! his communication skills are improving so much every day - he is saying more words, following more specific instructions, and figuring out all kinds of ways to get what he wants to say across :)
i gave him a haircut in the tub last sunday night. let’s just say i did a better job last time…
he has out of the blue become a picky eater, which is frustrating! anyone out there have tips on how to help him enjoy feeing himself more than just crackers and fruit?!
 IMG 0242 IMG E0201
^^ moses playing at an awesome playground we discovered, and hanging out in his “clubhouse” in the kitchen! ^^

it’s really starting to be winter here in london. the trees are getting more and more bare, it is getting dark so early (i kind of despise daylight savings time…), and we have had some majorly chilly days! i love living in a place that has distinct seasons. that said, i am bracing myself for the next few months. it really doesn’t get outrageously cold here in england, but the lack of daylight is really hard. luckily we have christmas magic, and a trip planned to a warm(er) locale in february.
IMG E0200 IMG 0312
^^ some last scenes of autumn. i love the holly berries under the fall foliage - a change of seasons is here! ^^

a couple of saturdays ago we rented a car and drove to ikea and then to the temple. the first thing i have to say about that is this: dang, those ikea meatballs are so good. with the mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam?! sooo good! the second thing i have to say about that day is this quick story:
ian and i traded off going inside the temple and staying outside on the grounds or in the visitors’ centre with moses. there’s this big statue of jesus in the visitors’ centre and i brought moses right up close to it and he loved it. at my suggestion, he waved at jesus, and looked at the nail prints in his hands. and then, with zero prompting, he looked right into the face of jesus, thought for a little second, and did his sign for thank you. it was just the sweetest thing! i did not encourage him at all to do this - wasn’t talking about how we are thankful for jesus or anything like that. he just felt like it was the thing to do. and he was right.
the same statue of jesus is in the church building close to our new flat (where we will now go to church - it also doubles as a visitors’ centre). whenever we approach the building (which we have a few times this week for various events), moses gets so excited, points eagerly at the statue and makes a “sssss” sound, which is how he says “jesus” these days.
i’m grateful for the reminders my tiny son gives me that jesus is real, and that we love him, and that we should thank him.

happy wednesday! life is beautiful!

guess what?!


dear friends,

we have exciting news to share...

we're having a baby!

more info to come.

charity, ian, and
mo the bro!

ode to a flat


eight years ago, my parents moved out of the home that i (and all eight of my siblings) grew up in. and i was a total wreck about it. as a very sentimental/attached person, i just couldn't handle the thought of someone else living in a house so saturated with thirty+ years of eyre family memories. our handprints were pressed in the cement in the front walkway, for crying out loud! i honestly had to move through a whole process of grieving in leaving behind that sacred space. i was really sad about not being able to take my husband, children and grandchildren inside that house one day; i keenly felt that peculiar sting of growing up and letting go.

to help process my sorrow, i wrote a kind of stream-of-consciousness blog post about that beloved family home. all these years later, i still can't read that post without getting misty in the eyes and tingly in the heart. that place! a tabernacle of tenderness, a holy treasure chest of memories both bitter and sweet.

wintson churchill said, "we shape our dwellings, and afterwards, our dwellings shape us." i've found this to be true with each and every living space i have inhabited - they have all become a part of me, some more poignantly than others. (here here and here are a few more posts i have written about houses and homes.) physical spaces made of simple materials become, over time and through saturation of memories, incredibly significant characters in our life stories. they truly shape us.

a couple of weeks ago, moses and ian and i said goodbye to our first real family home. ian and i lived in an impossibly small cinderblocked studio in palo alto as newlyweds, but only for a few months before taking off to travel for awhile and then to move abroad. and so, a tiny one bedroom flat in the very heart of london feels like the true starter home for the family we are building together.

we lived in those four hundred and fifty square feet two flights up in a building around the corner from trafalgar square for nearly two and a half years. and between those walls, so many formative things happened and so much growth occurred.

i took positive pregnancy tests there and showed them to an unsuspecting and immediately jubilant ian in the other room; we brought our newborn baby son home up those two flights of super narrow and steep stairs. in that tiny flat, there were countless prayers said and meals shared, lots of dance parties and tender mornings snuggling in bed. i nursed my baby to sleep every night there; we celebrated birthdays and anniversaries and valentine's days and christmases in the reception room with its two huge windows looking out over the busy street. over the months we had dozens of visitors sleeping on an air mattress in that tiny space, and lots of friends over for dinner, crammed around our small table. there were so many mornings when i would kiss ian goodbye, and then open a window wide and stick my head out to shoot a parting "i love you!" down the street. in our little flat there were lots of tears and there was lots of laughter; plenty of fights and even more tender moments of true love. we returned to this space after so many different trips, always experiencing that lovely, familiar, dewy feeling of home when climbing the stairs and pushing our suitcases in the front door.


indeed, this simple and tiny space became our beloved family home. we shaped it as a dwelling, and then it shaped us. someone else lives there now, but those four hundred and fifty square feet will always belong in our hearts. we were really, really sad to leave it behind. but we will shape a second family home, which will in turn shape us, and there will be a newly grown spot for home in our hearts. isn't that wonderful?

just before i started madly packing everything up for our recent move, i took hundred of photos of our flat. so we could remember it just how it was as our sacred home.

IMG_5605 IMG_5598
IMG_5633 IMG_5627
^^ our reception room was truly a multi-purpose room: living room, dining room, kitchen, play room, and baby's bedroom :) ^^
IMG_5643 IMG_5652
IMG_5655 IMG_5669
^^ we are pretty proud of our magnet collection, kept in our little cubby of a kitchen. ^^
IMG_5673 IMG_5675
IMG_5713 IMG_5710
IMG_5698 IMG_5695
^^ smiling, but sad. leaving the only home moses has ever known! i can't believe this little family is mine. ^^
IMG_0015 IMG_0011
^^ we asked the letting agent that was checking us out of our flat to take one last picture of us in it empty. and then we stood out of the rainy street looking up at our windows for a while. just sooo bittersweet! ^^
IMG_0018 IMG_0019
^^ taking away the last of our trash and our stuff (our vacuum was the final thing to be removed, haha) - feeling sad, and happy. ^^

thanks, flat 1 at 60a chandos place, for all the memories. we love you forever.