So last Thursday, I got back from a week in London with two of my favorite people in the whole world, my sisters Saydi and Charity (so sad Shawni couldn't make it - her daughter was graduating from high school the only week we could make this work! But she'll be going to London with her family in a couple weeks so it's all good). Saydi called me up a couple months ago and said "Want to go with me to London for Charity's baby shower in May?" My initial response was that it probably wouldn't work out - our travel budget was shot - we would have just come back from Costa Rica a couple weeks before the London travel would happen, I've already been Europe TWICE in the last year thanks to our family trip to Bulgaria and Italy last May and my trip with my mom and sisters to Switzerland, Austria and Germany in October (twice in one year after not going to Europe for 14 years has been such an unexpected privilege!). But Saydi found an amazing deal on airfare and Jared told me I really should go - it would be a great Mother's Day present for me and would help offset all the expensive hobbies he so enjoys. Plus I realized I could do a bunch of work on this "New Mom Kit" for Power of Moms with my sisters while I was there so I could combine business and fun. So I decided to do it!
It was such a wonderful whirlwind week of talking with wonderful people (my dear sisters, my wonderful sister-friend Amy who was practically part of my family growing up and now lives in London with her great husband and 4 lovely daughters, and lots of wonderful people I had the chance to get to know through a photo shoot that Saydi did and through Charity's baby shower) and visiting favorite places (I lived in London when I was 6, 7, and 8, when I was 16, and then spend 6 months there on study abroad when I was 19 so London feels like home to me in many ways). I sort of felt like I was in a dream much of the time - partially because I couldn't believe my good fortune to be able to be in such a great place with such wonderful people - and partially because I don't think I ever quite got over jet lag! We talked about pregnancy, childbirth and baby stuff non-stop (and made some podcasts and planned out other materials for the New Mom Kit that Charity is going to take the lead on and that we'll offer on Power of Moms next year). We walked a ton, rode bikes through the city, rode on the top of lots of double decker buses, helped Amy put on a really beautiful and fun baby shower for Charity at the home of some great people who became fast friends, ate wonderful food (love how there are these great places to grab fresh, delicious, and relatively cheap sandwiches and salads on pretty much every corner), enjoyed gorgeous weather, visited all our favorite London sites (Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, walking along the Thames by the Houses of Parliament and London Eye, St Pauls, Tate Modern, Millenium Bridge, Tower Bridge, Portabello Road, Knightsbridge, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Gallery, Camden Town, St James Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent Park - such great weather for picnicking and riding bikes through the parks), spent some time out in the countryside with Amy visiting the amazing Hylands Estate right up the road from her house as well as the gorgeous town of Cambridge. We packed in a lot! It's so easy to do a lot without any little kids in tow!
I think Charity did such a wonderful job describing our time together - so go here to her blog for details. But here are some of my favorite pictures from our time together and you can see more here on Instagram:
Now it's back to my real life with all it's challenges and charms - challenges like long boring end-of-the year awards ceremonies for the kids that leave me feeling somewhat inadequate as a mom, piles of papers and art projects they've brought home from school that need to be organized, laundry to catch up on, a dusty and dirty house to take care of, food to be re-stocked, Power of Moms work to catch up on that feels so overwhelming right now, fence-building to do (this stupid fence thing has taken such a chunk of time and money and has caused so much stress!), break-ins to deal with (a whole rash of petty theft in our neighborhood over the past month and last night our cars were both broken into and not much was taken but it felt so violating!) and charms like going on walks with the kids in the beautiful super-green that our abundant spring rain has brought on (feels like I'm still in England!), picking kids up at school and hearing them tell me about their exciting end-of-school activities, laughing together around the dinner table as we share memories and jokes, watching Isaac, Eliza and Jared do the Ogden half marathon last Saturday and finish so strong despite having to run the whole time in pouring rain and freezing cold, seeing Isaac and Eliza help little kids at church and watching Ashton walk this sweet older lady out to her car after church, saying prayers with them and tucking them in at night and having the twins so often tell me that I'm the best mom in the world (they always make me feel better about myself!).