24 May 2017

ten thoughts on a wednesday

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just in the past week or so, moses has become a total bookworm! he is constantly pointing at the bookshelf and grunting, haha! this week, we've read all of the twenty or so board books that we own about twenty times each. moses could go on and on, but his mama needed just a taaaad more variety, so we had a little outing to the bookstore to pick out a new baby book for our collection (and we're going to check the library out tomorrow!). i'm so so glad that mo is developing a love for reading, and i hope to help cultivate that for many years to come. 

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london continues to bloom like crazy. the daffodils and tree blossoms gave way to tulips, and then the wisteria burst, and now the roses are brilliantly unfolding. after moses fell asleep in the stroller on monday, i strolled him through "belgravia in bloom" - a series of floral displays in storefronts in one of london's most lovely neighborhoods. and then yesterday we took a detour on our way home from yoga to check on the progress of the roses in regent's park (queen mary's rose garden is probably my very most favourite spot in this city). 

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^^ all the rose varieties in queen mary’s rose garden have these name plaques. some of the names are just so delightful! ^^
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on the tube yesterday, moses started waving and smiling at an older gentleman sitting across from us. our new friend asked me how old my baby is, and i told him ten months. he said, "wow, he seems so engaged for a ten month old - very aware of his surroundings." i replied, "yes, he looooves people, and pretty much always has a smile for everyone we encounter." as i was standing up to get off at our stop, the man waved goodbye to moses and then said, "i hope he's not disappointed when he learns how awful people can be."
"well," i said, "people are mostly really good," and we hoped off the train with smiles and a "have a great day!"
his parting comment was particularly poignant because of the news we'd all read that morning about the deadly bombing in manchester. it's true that people can be so, so awful. but as i walked home from the tube station after that conversation, i felt certain that there is so much more good than evil in the world, and that - at their core - all people are good. and i wondered how many fewer tragic events we would see if everyone treated everyone else as good, rather than awful, and if we all understood and nurtured the good in ourselves and others because we were sure it was there.


i've heard that it's really easy to home make beautiful artisan bread using a dutch oven (which we own), and i've always wanted to try it - but i just have kept putting it off. when my friend catherine was in town and saw my dutch oven, she told me i simply must start making my own bread!
so i found a recipe and tried it out. when i pulled my first loaf out of the oven, i was honestly gobsmacked! all i had done was stir together some ingredients, let the dough sit for a while, and put it in the oven - and here i was with a gorgeous loaf of bread that looked like i'd bought it at some fancy bakery! and then i ate a slice, and it tasted amazing! i was seriously in shock about it for a little while because it was so easy!
soooo, now i'm obsessed. i've experimented with different add-ins (dried cranberries, nuts, cheese...) and have decided i have to limit myself to making two loaves a week because it's perfectly easy for me to eat the entire loaf myself within hours! 

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the weather has just been so delightful lately - so we've decided to eat dinner outside as many evenings as we possibly can! we take our food to trafalgar square or whitehall gardens or st. james park and have a picnic. it's the best! 

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^^ one evening outing to feed the birds at st. james park! moses loves the birdies! ^^
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^^ some paparazzi while we were waiting for our takeaway pizza for a dinner picnic :) ^^
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^^ at whitehall gardens they have these ping pong tables and i got ian some paddles and balls for fathers day last year, so we love to play together! ^^

moses has started to communicate! he's mastered the sign for "more please" and does it pretty much constantly when he is eating. he knows that he doesn't get more food if he whines and cries, but he does if he says "more please" with his hands. he has also been saying "mama" and "dada" more, and we're trying to help him connect that those sounds are what he can call us! it's pretty funny - over the past couple of days every single time i say, "moses, can you say mama?" he really loudly says "dada!" i think we've determined who the favourite parent is ;) moses is obsessed with bananas and has said "nana" quite a few times while in his high chair or reaching for a banana. it's all pretty exciting! 

last week when we had a pretty free day, moses and i went to check out the hms belfast, a huge battleship that is now docked permanently on the southbank of the thames. we've passed the boat uncountable times and i've always wondered what it's like on board! it was quite cool to explore, although i did get really claustrophobic with moses strapped to my chest as we went up and down ladders and tiny passageways to see the boiler and engine rooms! a fun adventure between naps. 

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my discovery of call the midwife has turned into a near-infatuation. seriously, if you haven't seen this series, you've got to check it out. it is so inspiring. many of the stories depicted in the episodes have moved me tremendously and have stirred up deep feelings of gratitude, crystal-clear awareness of the beauty of human connection and love, and an intense desire to be better at helping to alleviate suffering in this world. 

this morning i sang the song "oh boy, i've got joy" to moses, and we both loved it. i am so excited to do joy school with that little boy when he grows up a bit. one of my dad's mantras, that he has passed on to his children and grandchildren, is "joy is the purpose of life and a choice you make." i love and believe that so much. 

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next wednesday for my ten thoughts, i'd like to share some of my perspectives around my religion - my personal faith and the culture of my church. so many of your comments on my triple dog dare post indicated a desire to engage more in this internet space on that topic, so i've decided to explore that a bit deeper! if you have specific questions/issues you'd be interested in hearing my perspective on, please do leave me a comment to let me know. my faith is the best thing in my life, and i truly love discussing it. 

happy wednesday! life is beautiful!

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!
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