Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Week 28

Before I moved to London, there were a lot of things I had never really spent much time thinking about. . .for instance . . . what kind of socks are appropriate for welly wearing, how I feel about kids wearing school uniforms, morning/low tea vs. afternoon/high tea vs. cream tea and why do each of these refer more to what is eaten with the tea than to the tea itself.  When a friend asked me to join her at the Somerset House for some coffee and to see an exhibition on “Wonderful Wool,” I realized I had basically spent zero time thinking about wool.  An exhibition on wool?  Seriously?  “The Brits love their sheep . . .” she said.   I had been looking for an excuse to go check out the Somerset House anyway and she has lived here for over ten years and seems to know what she is talking about as far as cool things in London go, plus I enjoy her company . . . and . . . somewhat secretly, I was very interested in a photography exhibition going on at the same time so I figured after I got bored spent five minutes some time humouring my friend getting cozy with the sheep (what was this, a petting zoo?!), then we could go look at some real art for God’s sake.  Totally (mostly) kidding.  This didn’t really all go through my mind, I admit.  Actually, what I was really thinking was, “Go to a cultural arts centre in the heart of London in the middle of the week sans children with stimulating adult company?!  Count me in.  I don’t care what art we see OR what animals we are petting for that matter!”  At any rate, we agreed and I found myself at the hoof of the “Wool House.”  And boy am I glad I did.  Why hadn’t I spent more time thinking about wool?!  I had no idea.  It is absolutely, one hundred percent fascinating, amazing, beautiful and artful yet utilitarian and functional . . . not to mention warm and cozy (which felt perfectly appropriate in that moment because frankly, Hell might be a better option than this frozen spring we are all having . . . at least it would be warm).  Room after room, we saw countless and really beautiful objects made out of wool - blankets, hats, scarves, furniture, rugs, all kinds of high fashion apparel both women's and men's, art pieces, pillows, curtains, even a mattress.  It was all so very tactile and although I felt a bit sheepish (haha) touching items on exhibit, that was certainly part of the whole experience.  The culmination of the exhibition was a parade through seven stunning installation rooms in which individual designers had created entire cohesive interior designs celebrating this wonderful material.  The amount of diversity on display was astounding.  The designs were classic, simple, ornate, modern, sometimes old fashioned and homey, sometimes funky and surprising, always elegant.  By the end, I was sold.  On sheep.  On wool.  On the Somerset House.  We headed over to the photography exhibit, but ironically it paled in comparison and I quickly headed straight back to the Wool House to capture some of its fabulousness with my camera.  Baa.  
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 27

So....you knew it was coming...the requisite long drawn out dissertation on my little birthday boy and all of his lovable attributes.  What can I say, I am still a mother of only one; he is the object of all my affections.  As I move forward, I am excited to leave the flat furnishing and birthday planning behind me and to look ahead to the development of the UK division of Sarah Anderson Photography, (in fact, I kind of have no idea what to do with myself this morning . . . the neighbor took Liam to school, my to-do list is currently all clear, everyone is healthy, and the cleaner is booked for Thursday so here I sit, feeling caught up for this very fleeting moment . . . hence, the early on-time blog writing) but for just one more blog post, I will focus on Liam and then I promise, I will move on!  

But I mean, come on . . . turning 5 is kind of a big deal.  It’s comparable to catapulting into adulthood really.  It’s the year you go to kindergarten, when no one dare call you a toddler anymore or God forbid, “cute,” your mommy can shop at BabyGap no longer (sad sad face), you have to start paying bus fares (roll eyes) and you gotta play with the big boys from here on out at soccer class.  This year in particular, I have noticed a massive change from Baby Liam to Kid Liam.  Physically, he has grown about 3 inches I swear.  Well, maybe not three inches, but still . . . all the pants we brought to London for him are all about that much too short.  His face is fuller, more mature, brimming with so much knowledge and passion.  The first two years of school were so internal for him, but this year it seems like everything he has absorbed since he started at 2 3/4 years is just exploding out of him.  He has blossomed into a completely social and personable being, taking after his Daddy. Something to which, being an introvert myself, I cannot relate, but absolutely admire and love about him.  He is the type of friend at school who wants to include everyone in his life and this year has found himself at the center of battles for his attention.  We had a small get together at the Flat on Saturday and he was allowed five friends.  At the end of the day, we felt so blessed to have made these kind of connections with such a wonderful group of people in such a relatively short amount of time here.  I’d love to credit my unparalleled magnetic charm, but who am I kidding . . . all the credit goes to Liam’s personality (and also I think people here are just amazingly one hundred percent genuinely VERY nice and approachable). 

We started the week on a high with a donut breakfast celebration, cupcakes at school, and present opening at home.  We had to drag the little guy to bed in tears on Monday as he just did not want his big day to end.  He soaked up every bit of undue attention!  Then Tuesday, our high came crashing to a low when I received a phone call from his teacher at school (who was home sick no less) to tell me Liam had just had a bad fall.  When I went in to pick him up, I almost cried when I saw his face.  As the initial shock faded, I think Liam began to enjoy even more undue attention, and the week got better as we worked on party decorations together, built Lego birthday presents and baked a cake.  The birthday party was totally alcoholic fun . . . on the verge of complete chaos the entire time, but fun nonetheless.  6 boys = a lot of competition, bickering, off the wall energy, secretive cake icing swiping, probably a little under the table kicking and behind the back biting, a few tears and maybe one or two all out-on the floor-screaming temper tantrums (thankfully not from the birthday boy although there was a moment there when one child unknowingly sat in the "birthday boy's chair" and I thought Liam was going to eat him), but also a LOT of giggling, silliness, and excitement.  I now completely understand why people hire entertainers for this age range (and incidentally professional photographers . . . since I was the entertainment AND the professional photographer, both arenas suffered), but somehow everyone left with a smile on their face and no additional black eyes.  Now I just have to wait for my little guy’s shiner to heal and the weather to look up so I can do his five year photoshoot!!  Happy Birthday Liam!!

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We had 2 birthday donuts . . . why not?!
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Some quiet moments amidst a crazy week . . .
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Total. Party. Animal.
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Unfortunately, I missed out on one of Liam's best buddies in this photo, but hey, toilet calls . . . 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Week 26

Sunday was Mother’s Day in the UK . . . or I suppose I should say Mum’s Day.  A completely jarring feeling for some strange reason to celebrate something we would celebrate at home on a totally different day.  The stores, filling that oh so extensive commercial gap between Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day/ Easter, were loaded with pink frilly teddies (and by teddy, I mean bear, not lingerie unfortunately) and teapots and such that I suppose would appeal to some mum’s, thankfully not me as that isn’t really Keegan’s style (lingerie, yes . . . bear, no) . . . Liam’s possibly, but Keegan was leading Liam’s exhuberant as always charge this year.  Florists were prepared with extra tulips and daisies and Liam’s school was buzzing all week with a little surprise the children were preparing to take home.  On Monday, the school requested a photo of each child with their mum so on Tuesday I picked Liam up with one in tow.  This age is just so priceless . . . first off he came running across the school yard screaming, “Mommy!  Mommy!” in front of all his other very boyish, very rough and tumble buddies and straight into my arms.  One of these days, that will be SO not cool and my heart will break in two {and we’ll just have to have another baby for crying out loud, but just pretend you didn’t hear that} but for now I will take those snotty, dirty handed, tussled hair hugs in front of the world just as much as he will allow it.  As if this didn’t make me mushy enough, he proceeds to take the photograph so gingerly from my hands and parade it about, showing it so proudly to his schoolmates and teachers.  My Mother’s Day could’ve concluded right then and there.  By Friday, I was feeling much more in the spirit after all of this plus a week of furniture buying and assembling.  Nothing like your first little get together to make you feel like a Mother Bird fussing over the final fluffs to the nest.  I think I can officially say now {gulp}, I am done buying furniture and really close to having the accessorizing complete.  It feels SOOO good.  Fitting, actually, given we are gee, only exactly halfway through our first year here.  Read:  It’s about GD time.  So Liam gave me his beautifully handwritten card that said, “Th Ank you for buying ALL the things To Mace My oWN breAkfast.  happy MoTher’s dAy.  LiAM.”  Montessori child through and through.  I think it was a bit of a collaboration between his beloved teacher and him, but still, he has come literally miles since September.  Sunday morning came and there was a fair amount of top secret hustling and bustling around.  I was commanded to dress nicely while Daddy took care of steering Liam away from his usual uniform of sweatpants and tshirt.  While I finished getting ready, the boys snuck away down the street and returned home with a massive bouquet of flowers.  Liam told me he passed his best buddy Jacob and his dad Josh on the way home who, according to Liam, were on their way to the flower shop as well.  (They weren’t mind you, but to my sweet little Liam, Daddy+Son out on the street translated into an obvious outing to buy Mother’s Day Flowers, duh)  By now I was starting to feel this unnerving feeling like I should be calling my own mum, like “Oh crap, I forgot to buy her a card,” (which by the way, I realized I HAVE to do now because in May, there won’t be any around here) and like, “Shouldn’t it be about twenty degrees warmer?!”  Come on United Kingdom, mum’s do NOT like winter for God’s sake.  But we went and had a lovely brunch anyway and spent the rest of the day freezing our butts off, in our nice clothes, at the zoo.  My boys are the best . . . equally sweet, equally cute, and I am equally madly in love with both.  I told Liam at brunch about all the jobs I have had over the years . . . teaching art, working at a Montessori school, architecture, photography, even bagging groceries and my personal favorite of these, scooping ice cream, but hands down, the best job I have ever had is being his Mommy.  I could see my words literally wrap around his body like a hug, squeeze him tight, and prompt the most priceless unconditional love in his face.  Of course, then we had to spend the next five minutes explaining what “hands down” meant, but still.  And in the end, celebrating Mother’s Day the day before Liam’s birthday was actually completely perfect.  I wouldn’t even have this job if it weren’t for him.

This week, I am dedicating the photo section of this blog to mostly Liam photos :)  A few fun instagrams and some other stuff I've saved over the weeks plus some I took this week.  Once we get through birthday week, we will resume our regularly scheduled program, Wednesday Walkabouts.  Cheers!

This was the shot I took for his birthday invitation.  Just so strikingly grown up all of the sudden.  Can't believe my baby is 5!!

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Ok, seriously Mommy?!  That was fun and all, but you said two shots . . . 
Mother's Day:
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The only family portrait I managed to take this day . . . (I crack myself up.)
Some last minute birthday preparations on Mother's Day.  The rocket is a little game we made for his party called "Rocket Toss."
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My card:
IMG_0715 And....Living the Good Life with Liam:  (I'll tell you a secret ... It's not really a job...)
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On rare occasion, I capture Quiet Liam . . .
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And then, of course, there is the Not So Quiet Liam . . . the one on the slide is an absolute favorite:
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And of course, my other baby . . . a little series I've been working on entitled, "The Life of a Retired Cat."
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