Monday, April 29, 2013

Week 30 and 31

It is not without a certain amount of sadness that I finally return to blogging.  For one thing, Keegan has poked at me knowingly and said my fans have lost interest, which could be entirely and altogether true {please come back}, and for another thing, the fact that I am sitting here at my own desk, Liam off to school, Mother-in-law on her way home, means that this one long endless holiday is officially O.V.E.R.  My neighbor looked at me with disgust this morning and said I deserve no sympathy, for which, truly, I was not searching.  Fair enough though, but still, there must be something chemically and hormonally that happens within our bodies when we finally return to the real world after a proper vacation.  The term, "post-holiday blues" doesn't seem to capture it accurately.  

At any rate, I have some catching up to do starting with the week after our trip to Devon.  It was a quiet week, Liam's first week of Spring Break (first in a line of many.....grrrrr....), in between that Easter weekend and our last minute jaunt to Atlanta.  When we returned, I had a 4 day turnover that included welcoming Keegan's mom and getting her settled to watch Liam, 2 concerts, one in Paris, and then back onto the plane for the last and most fabulous leg of this month's journey, to the Seychelles with Keegan for annual Hubby+Wife Reunite vacation.  In those 4 days, I meant to post on Week 30 and 31, and went so far as to write the words on the train to Paris, but never actually got around to posting it.  So here it is.  Week 32 and 33 (Paris and Seychelles) to come as well just as soon as I excavate my camera from the pile of laundry and suitcases all over our bedroom floor!

"Liam has been on Spring Break for what feels like forever.  One week is reasonable . . . desirable even.  2 weeks, luxurious.  3 weeks, unnecessarily too long.  4 weeks, certifiably crazy.  I do love having Liam home, but I completely lose my edge in terms of work, photography, blogging . . . obviously.    Throw a trip back to the States, a weekend in Paris, 2 concerts, and a looming child-free holiday to the Seychelles (rough life, I know) into the mix and my organizational and multi-task skills are sporadic at best. I sit on the Eurostar, typing away on the iPad notebook program....definitely NOT word "perfect," if you know what I mean, and catching up on 2 weeks now.  Week 30 was the week in between our trip to Devon and our trip to Atlanta last week.  We basically had 3 play dates in 3 days since I realized this might be Liam's only chance to socialize with his school friends before the traveling frenzy began, then didn't look back as we said goodbye to the London chill.....snow even on one of those days, and headed to some 80 degree weather.  In doing so, Liam was able to have a proper spring break filled with sunshine, shorts and t-shirts, ice cream, convertible rides, hikes along the river, endless hours on the playground, evening thunderstorms, hot dogs on the BBQ and lots of playtime with the grandparents and cousins.  I would be lying through my teeth if I said it was all for him.  I was elated to be able to give him that, for Keegan to be able to give US that.  At the risk of being melodramatic, it was medicine for the soul.  We came back completely fulfilled and refreshed . . . not to mention to some lovely California-like weather here in London even, if only for a day or too!  And now, I will sign off until week 32, when I will recap our weekend in Paris and our glorious week in the Seychelles . . . and you will all officially hate me.  But hey, at least I will be able to return to whatever London has to throw at us for the "summer" season.  I won't hold my breath on that one...."

Five year old home for 4 week wintry spring break . . . only so much jumping around on the bed you can do really . . . 
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Liam is all over the house, literally and figuratively, when he is not at school.
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So we braved the cold one last time for a boat ride on the Thames to the Tate Modern with some friends  . . .
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The next Queen :)
Off to Atlanta!!  Here we are enjoying a jetlagged breakfast in the dark at 4:30 a.m. local time!
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My parents moved to Atlanta a few months ago to be closer to my brother and his young family.  They have a lovely new home including lots of room for my mom's beloved gardens.  The chickens came with the house but have quickly become a fixture in my parents' new retired lifestyle!!  What a great place for a kid.  Liam had a wonderful time.
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All this kid really needs to be happy is just a big pile of dirt.  The end.
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My beautiful niece!
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One of the things I've always loved about traveling to the east coast in spring/summer is the evening thunderstorms.  
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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Week 30

Week 30 blog is postponed due to my last minute weather escape plan to visit my parents in WARM weather!!!  Liam and I headed out yesterday without a second glance at the London forecast.  See you next week with some photos of us without our winter gear on for once.  I might have to stop down my aperture a bit with all the reflected light coming off our glaringly white skin :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Week 29

The importance of place - where we grow up, where we choose to spend our time, to make our home, to raise our children - it’s paramount to our personhood.  These places, some more than others obviously, become imprinted on our very souls.  I grew up in Ohio, went to college at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, started my life with Keegan in the country’s capitol, and then . . . and THEN, we moved to California.  We moved there with the timeframe of two years in mind.  Maybe it’s because it was the first neutral place Keegan and I lived, maybe it’s because it’s the place we lived the longest or because we bought our first house there, maybe it’s because we started a family and filled that same little house with his laughter, maybe it’s because you really can’t compare ANYthing to California’s diversity, beauty, and personality . . . regardless of why, this, of all places, was where I left my heart.  I hear this all the time from transients living there, but two years turned into ten before we could even blink.  Some of you know me very well, others not as much, but California has my name written all over it.  How could I have not known this my whole life?!  This, THIS of all the places I’ve called “home,” is the place I consider home.  To me.  To my little family of 3.  SO....when I started researching some travel options for the long Easter weekend, wanting desperately in my heart to transport myself straight back to California . . . if only for a short weekend, I stumbled upon Devon County.  A coastal (no small coincidence on the west coast no less) county of England known for beautiful countryside and beaches (complete with fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast {how cool . . . point not lost on Liam}, endless hiking trails, microbreweries, fabulous organic food straight from local farms, laid back residents, and idyllic little towns . . . literally everything on my list of things to love about California.  I could close my eyes and see us in California . . . Pt. Reyes to be exact . . . only . . . we would be in England.  Minor detail really.  I booked it without further ado.  Expectations were high.  Clearly, Devon had a LOT to live up to.  As we drove down the sheep studded valley and peered out onto the rocky cliffs dipping dramatically down into the endless, raging ocean, I knew I was not about to be disappointed.  In fact, less than 24 hours into the vacation, I actually, surprisingly enough, stopped comparing it to California altogether and started falling in love with it for all that it had to offer as its own entity.  Yes, in my mind at least, it definitely had a California vibe jumping off, but it had something else entirely of it’s own.  I can’t even place it really.  Probably something to do with the fact that every little town along the coast and countryside we drove through was labelled, “Ancient Borough.”  We spent some time in a handful of these little towns, but hands down my favorite was the town in which we randomly selected to stay, Branscombe.  Keegan and I were laughing about how basically, around here, if your town has a pub, you are on the map.  And this town had two.  Both of which we could walk to, one of which we could throw a stone and hit from our cottage.  Aside from a post office, a town hall, and a tea room, that is all this town had to offer.  And it was perfect.  Walking down the one lane road through town, overlooking the hills straight out of a Jane Austen novel, along rock walls that I swear must be older than the fossils we found, on a path beside a bubbling brook, miles and miles of farmland surrounding me, straight out to the ocean and what may as well have been the end of the world, I went numb.  The words idyllic, bucolic, charming, perfect even just kept going through my mind like a broken record, but didn’t seem to capture it still.  Even little Liam, who of course, never wants vacation to end, took it one step further and said he wanted to relocate the cats (detail oriented child) and stay in our little tiny cottage forever.  When we left, driving up the valley and leaving the unspoiled slice of heaven we had found in our rearview mirror, I could feel Devon County, England cozying up right next to that special place in my heart for California . . . and fossilizing. 

The first frame of the weekend I shot, after having only stepped out of the car for five minutes, was this.  I knew it was gonna be good. 
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Our little town of Branscombe:
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Cottage on right.
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Lyme Regis:
I won't make any direct comments regarding the complete rubbish weather we are having (oops), the worst in well, history basically, but just to say it was such a surreal feeling . . . hanging out on the beach, throwing rocks in the water, digging holes with the shovel, watching all of the other little young families doing the same, everyone, everyone swooshing around in their winter ski apparel.  Like I should be on the slopes, but in my bikini at the same time.  Weird . . . but totally humourous as well.  We had a good giggle.
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I'm not partial really, but pebble beaches are totally cool.  Keegan made a good obersvation that the sound of waves going out over the pebbles makes a completely different sound than sand.  It's loud and kind of musical actually.
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Our getaways are never complete without a visit to the town brewery, this one built completely over water.  We also totally scored with a Beer Festival including 3 local microbreweries.  Bonus.   
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Charmouth: for some serious fossil hunting.  The only ones we took home were the ones the guide, a dinosaur himself, in pity handed over to Liam.  We must not have looked like we knew what we were doing :)
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Yeah...this is where I went to church on Easter.  You?
Hike from our cottage . . . down through the village . . .
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. . . through Mark Darcy's pastures . . . 
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. . . and out to the end of the world.
"The importance of the place where we choose to live is beyond the kisses or kicks that climate delivers, more than the landform that shapes us, greater than the soil that feeds us and the water that washes us and replenishes our vital fluids, more than the natural and human community. It is all this but more. Our place grounds us, steadies our posture to the world; it nurtures our body and spirit; it gives us the strength to be what we would be." -Gene GeRue