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Closing a Chapter

October 11, 2013

While I hold on dearly to the people I love and the memories made in London, I’m closing the Backwards Pilgrim chapter…for now! You can find me back over at Blossom-ing for random doses of Blossom life in Houston. And thanks so much for reading and supporting the Blossom family while we were overseas. It was a fantastic ride.

 

xx

Amber

The hamster wheel

April 16, 2013

My brain is so confused. It doesn’t know how to deal with all this routine and stillness. Even now, as I look out the window and see laundry hanging on the line over the hammock…my brain is in a rapid pendulum swing between blissful gratitude for a little idyllic window view and pure panic that my life has taken a sharp left toward boring town.

I like change…hmmm…do I? I like new experiences…that typically means something has changed. But perhaps the changing part isn’t really so great for me. Perhaps its the changing that creates silent panic, restless nights, moody mama moments and fear. But it’s the new that blows in like pure oxygen and turn the corners of my worried mouth upward into a smirk that says, “This is gonna be good. Just you wait.”

We’ve been in Houston for just shy of two months. There’s plenty of rubble around as evidence that we are not quite settled in. Walls are still empty while outdated pictures gather dust in the frames on the floor. I don’t think I’ll ever know where my clothes are since I swiftly stuffed them into my closets and drawers weeks ago in a very feeble attempt to unpack. I don’t need things to look perfect. I’m not that kind a girl. But having some semblance of a house I’ve taken the time to get to know and make our home is important to me. It settles my senses at least while inside our little haven to feel safe and peaceful. I supposed that is the hope I have for our home wherever it is…that my family and anyone who enters feels peaceful and safe.

on top of a brain filled with moving mush, it seems I’ve been subjecting myself to way to much fodder, as well. TV, radio, books, magazines, blogs, you name it and I have soaked it in lately. This is what happens when you haven’t made friends in your city! My head is dizzy with thoughts and opinions, causes, tragedies, threats, injustices, logos, banners, slogans, symbols. I am waving the white flag. I surrender.  It’s all too much. I’m shutting down my think tank for awhile.  I’m going to take a moment here…call me shallow…to rest in a few very simply thoughts: I am loved. So are you. We’re all in this together.

Recovery

March 25, 2013

I’m sitting on my couch in Houston, Texas looking like I just went to the gym when in reality, I have just devoured a giant bowl of popcorn with the boys. We are in recovery mode. Though in many ways we are all thriving, especially the littles, I am also so very aware that we are still in the early days of our new life here. Now is the time to be kind to ourselves, to say a thousand “I love you’s”, to explore each corner of the backyard, to unpack painfully but necessarily slow, to eat popcorn for dinner, and then to collapse unapologeticly each evening just slightly after the sun sets.

For me, now is not the time for new friendships. that time will come. Now is more about meeting this new home…finding its quirks and surprises. Figuring out where the best afternoon light comes through the windows is more my speed these days.

Once in a while…probably too often, the rush to get things done and figured out and checked off takes over our home. It feels worthwhile for a bit…like going BACK to Supertarget AGAIN is some sort of mission and life purpose. It is not! I tell that voice in my head and get busy finding the best way to snuggle with the littles on our newly positioned sofa and read our new library books.

We’re still doing things like Dr check ups, haircuts, school visits. Though falling off the grid sounds super appealing, reality doesn’t allow it for us completely. I like this new rhythm…it feels protective and comforting and necessary. I am already missing our London adventure, but our pace there was unsustainable. We travelled in some capacity every single month. 90% of the time we travelled with the kids and I’d say about 70% of the time it was a flight. We’re tired…in a great way…in a “we just climbed that freaking mountain every blessed day we could walk!” kind of way. We’ll take on this new chapter with fantastic zeal…after a little rest.

 

 

And…we’re back

February 23, 2013

I am completely overstimulated by America…and I love it.

We’ve been back in the US for a few days. Jet lag was at it’s worst today. Pretty sure at dinner I said to Sam, “I am on the edge of being the worst mom in the world.” Yep, the adrenaline of Day 1 wore off and we are trudging along now. Though, lots of things are helping!! For example, I forgot just how much I love ice…and ice makers! Oh and then there is…giant Diet Cokes with free refills, Taco trucks, Margaritas, A CAR!!! God bless the USA indeed.

We are in an apartment right now but we’ve been able to visit our new house which the boys love. We signed up for a preschool, met our neighbor, found we have a Meyer Lemon tree in the backyard. Dreamy!  Our apartment isn’t too shabby either…I can’t help but think back onto our corporate housing upon arrival in London. Oh, the vast differences are many. We are diving head first into the comforts of home…although it’s a brand new, unfamiliar home…there are certainly some very predictable comforts.

I’m missing my family and friends…both in the UK and US. I’m sure that will sink in deeper in the coming weeks. But for now, there is much to do…like google where the closest Target and Homegoods stores are 🙂 Oh, and buy two cars. Yikes.

Houston has been a soft place to land, so far. A little more sleep and we’ll be ready for the rodeo…literally. There’s a parade that kicks off the rodeo in Houston tomorrow. Yeehaw!

Going Away

February 10, 2013

These are crazy times. Actually, they are not nearly as insane as 2 years ago at this time…but it’s crazy nonetheless.

This morning, a guy came and bought our hoover, ahem, sorry – our vacuum. This afternoon, 90% of everything that plugs in will go to a couple who just moved to England from the States. There’s a stack of plastic bins in the front window and little piles of stuff accumulating everywhere as we sort and stack our beloved home on Rosaville Road. sigh.

Friday night we had a big ole going away shindig at our local pub.

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This is my wonderful friend, Bella. Hard to believe we only met about a year ago. Lifers for sure. xoxo!!

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We had a little game of English v American terms…can you guess them all?

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Sally, Amy, Jenna & Angela below…

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Below: Robert, Jules, Alex & Charlotte (all of whom we met through Coltan’s nursery school)…

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Below: Joe, Sam’s awesome coworker

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Below: Our amazing neighbors! We have been so blessed by these couples who live literally next door and across the street from us. Dave & Sue, Justin & Natalie, Catherine & Larry. (not pictured Chris & B who stopped in even with a 2 week old baby!)

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Below: Rob & Chris, friends from church and hilarious!

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Below: Sally, my very first friend in Fulham who opened the door to many more friends because she is just that awesome! Love love love this lady.

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Oh the fun. There is nothing like gathering people from each corner of your life and saying goodbye. Surprisingly, no tears!! I think the floodgates will open on the ride to Heathrow…it’s gonna be ugly. But, back to the party. I love these people…all of them. They are what makes this farewell so terribly sad.

OH! And my super talented friends, Rob and Mark, graciously said yes to my plea for a little live music at the party. AND I ticked off a bucket list item because I, too, grabbed the mic for a couple songs. Thank you kind, supportive friends. Sing at a pub in London…check!

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It was a fantastic night…filled with laughs and hugs and lots of joy! Just a few more days to go in this chapter. Here’s to keeping it happy!!

Rewind: Mallorca

January 21, 2013

In June (yes, I’m rewinding that far!), Sam and I were able to have a long weekend getaway. Thanks to Sam’s parents who kept the kids happy and healthy in London, we took the quick flight to Mallorca for 3 days in paradise. Mallorca has a fair bit of “Spring Break Goes Wild” on the beaches near the airport. We were desperate for some sunshine, though, and needed to go somewhere relatively close. Thanks to TripAdvisor, we discovered an area of the island that was absolutely stunning, peaceful and sans techno music and tribal, bicep tattoos.

Welcome to Deia…

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Deià is a small coastal village in the Serra de Tramuntana, which forms the northern ridge of the Spanish island of Mallorca.  It is known for its literary and musical residents. Its idyllic landscape, orange and olive groves on steep cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean, served as a draw for German, English, and American expatriates after the First World War.  (Wikipedia)

This little clifftop pocket of the world is paradise. Life is slow and steamy. The beaches are rocky and hidden…requiring long gorgeous hikes and climbs down drift wood ladders to reach the shore.

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Spanish beaches are not bashful! In the background of the last picture you can see two people caked in mud. We were confused by this the first day but soon realized there was a large hole filled with clay dug out of the side of the cliff. Locals would cake themselves (ALL of themselves!) in the purifying clay, let it dry while sunbathing and then rinse it off in the extra salty, detoxifying Mediterranean Sea. It took only a few hours before Sam and I gave it a try. While we were at the clay well looking, I’m sure, particularly pasty white and American, a local man came up to show us where the best clay was. He spoke only Catalan and was completely nude! Hahahaha. It still cracks me up. He was really nice…I think. I kind of just wandered away while he spoke to Sam. Ah, Spain.

We did a fair bit of unexpected hiking. A “walk” to the locals ended up being a nerve racking hike along the cliffs on slippery paths…in sandals. I was terrified. I had no idea I had such a fear of falling. Sam would run ahead like a billy goat then come back to reassure me it was safe while I talked my feet into taking the next step. Oh, it was beautiful, though…and I’d happily do it again…in better shoes.

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What a perfect weekend…we dined on Tapas and had that on going debate of vacationers: pool or beach? My kind of getaway for sure…and with this guy…doesn’t get much better!

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Ireland

January 20, 2013

We’ve been in London for nearly 2 years….long enough for me to say “nearly” instead of “almost” 2 years. And after all this time and all these travels, we had barely scratched the surface of what the UK has to offer. Prior to a few weeks ago, I had spent one weekend in Dublin, Ireland, and Sam had spent one weekend in St. Andrews, Scotland. It looked like we were going to head back to the US without much more than that. Ah, but then! RJ and Lacy flew over for a visit and we all decided Ireland was calling. Thanks to cheap flights (again!), all 6 of us took an amazing trip to Cork and ventured into SW Ireland –  one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen. Despite a FAIR bit of rain, we were absolutely taken by the beauty of this country. And who better to frequent a local Irish pub with than these two!!Image

That picture was taken at the top of our drive through Healy Pass – one of those places you gasp and marvel at…wondering how in the the world we don’t just live in a tiny abandoned church and wonder these roads every day.

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Our first stop straight from the airport was to a little castle where we heard a stone was in need some kissing…

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Being off season, we had the huge advantage of no lines or waits at the Blarney Castle. This really helped in making this one of our favorite stops. The grounds were gorgeous and we definitely started out with a big challenge…hiking up to the top of the castle – hundreds of stairs, two little ones and at least 2 dudes with a fear of heights! But we all kissed the stone…legend has it we’ll now have the gift of gab. Not sure I needed help.

There was also a pretty awesome cave at the castle. I loved it. Maybe I have a future in spelunking.

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We spent the afternoon of our first day hiking in the Killarney National Park…a stunning place that draws you to walk for miles…which we did! The payoff was a breathtaking waterfall and sunset views that pictures don’t do justice.

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On the hike back to the car after seeing the waterfall, Lacy, RJ, the boys and I were trekking away. Sam had run ahead to move the car a bit closer and save us about a mile. We were spent! Lacy and I were saying how amazing it would be if one of the horse and carriages we’d seen earlier would come by to save our aching feet. No sooner had the words been spoken than I saw a carriage ahead and it was SAM! He had come to our rescue on a horse and carriage!

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The rest of our time was spent driving around the beautiful countryside and peninsulas that make up SW Ireland…here again is the Healy Pass on a scenic drive called the Ring of Beara…

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Sam dared RJ to stick his head in a waterfall and it took about half a second for RJ to go for it. Sam followed suit on Leo’s prompt…”Your turn, Daddy!” It was awesome.

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Sweet Lacy took the back seat with Coltan in our little car. She was amazing with him and such a trouper on those windy roads!!

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A highlight of the trip was the Dingle Peninsula. I’m left wanted to see more of this gorgeous place.

It is home to Inch Beach where Little Miss Sunshine peaked through the clouds just in time…

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It is home to the western most point of Europe. As Sam and I stood looking at this point with rain pelting us in the face (beside some prehistoric stone beehive huts nonetheless!!) we were overcome with gratitude. We have gone as far east as Thessaloniki, Greece and as far west as Dingle, Ireland. Pretty awesome.

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To finish off an unforgettable trip, we stopped at the Jameson distillery just outside cork in Midleton. And after a soggy, chilly few days and a tour through a pretty cool distillery, I now get the whole “whisky” thing. Who knew?

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This all was ohsomuch more fun because of Lacy and RJ. The boys adore them and I think they are pretty swell, too. I’m so grateful to have had this time with them both here in London and in Ireland. Here are a few fun pics from our time with them in London…

Of to the Fulham game…

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Round 1 of a million in the “What’s That?” Game followed by fabulous New Year’s Eve Festivities…

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