Tuesday, 29 May 2012

It mine London...

I'd say I was romanticizing except the water still tastes like crap. If I remember correctly the journal entry on day one of the London house hunting 2008 trip read something like: It smells horrible and the water tastes like crap. Ah how times and hearts change.

All jetlag aside there are is permagrin on at least 4 faces as we disembark at Heathrow. "THIS is my FAVORITE airport in the WORLD!" Middlest exclaims. I love that he has been to enough worldwide airports that this does not seem like an outrageous statement. I love even more that Wanderer's reply is, "So far..."

Cigarettes, factory smoke, and freshly mown grass. That is how London smells. I fill my lungs and let out a long sigh. "Home. It smells like home." "It is," Wanderer says. "One of 'em anyway."

Their favorite (or is it favourite?) playground, Peter Pan Park --aka the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground--is less than a 5 minute walk away, but they have commandeered a willow tree. Branches that bend all the way to the ground. Providing shelter, transportation, and of course--weaponry. It's a cave. Or a ship? I can't tell. I know that there are swords and a secret language. English accents (hilarious). Robots, and I've heard the word "bad guy" several times--the English version "baddie" never having been incorporated into the boy's lexicon.

It's pure magic to watch them. Lost, as they were yesterday as well, in a world that defies boundaries. It apparently defies arguments as well. Most days 2:30 pm has seen me break up about a gazillion of these. Physical and verbal. Today I've only heard one. One that they worked out without intervention. All the while including and looking after Littlest. What in the world?

How is this possible? I'd say it was the glory of summer vacation except school ended a over a week ago and last week found me counting down the seconds til school started again. I know it's not the food. Not only has everything been the stereotypical British bland, but Middlest's eczema is flaring and Biggest's sound effects are constant--a sure sign of too much gluten and dairy after only 3 days.

Maybe it's the same air that makes my hair awesome. Seriously. I haven't washed it for days and yet somehow the jetlagged bedhead helps. My hair freakin' loves London.

Whatever it is, I'll take it. This crazy concoction that infuses every moment with magic and as Biggest pointed out yesterday evening, makes the boys "the best behaved we've maybe ever been in our whole lives!"

Grass stained covered shorts, honey-sticky shirts, and a toddler so sleepy he looks as though he might start hallucinating any moment. Any happy moment.

Yesterday we did The Museum of Natural History, Kensington Garden deck chairs, half an hour at Peter Pan Park then Mexican food at Wahaca in Covent Garden. Which cracks me up. Arguably, Denver, where we live for the moment, is one of the best Mexican food cities North of the border of Mexico. London of course being one of the worst. But for nostalgia's sake it had to be Covent Garden Mexican food.

Today was supposed to be the Science Museum, Kensington Palace, Peter Pan Park, and a picnic with Dad. Instead we are following the supreme rule of travel with children (or perhaps just of travel, period): Roll with it. When one finds the perfect tree under which to adventure one MUST NOT pass it by. Plans be damned. Even Littlest seems to understand this. He's not too fussed with the tree, but the un-mown tufts of grass beneath? Little boy perfection. Littlest loves this English park feature of leaving grass long so much that he keeps bending down to touch it and exclaiming, "It mine grass, Mommy!"

And maybe it is. Maybe that's the magic. That here in this far away but so close to our hearts land there is something "mine" all around.

Our hearts perhaps?

Monday, 28 May 2012


"WHOA!!!!" His enthusiasm was annoying the we're-3-and-a-half-hours-late-out-of-the-gate passengers. Loud. Uncensored. Pure delight. It was totally cheering me up. "OH! WHOA!!!! LOOK!! AAAAAAAAHHHHHH! Oh my gosh!!!! LOOK! We're up in the CLOUDS!!!! Look! Oh! Oh! Oh! Look!!!" Six-ish, and down-in-his-soul digging it. A vehicle the size of a fricken school bus had just lifted off the ground, and it was blowing his mind.

Mine were digging it too. Biggest nearly made himself puke at home this morning. Checking in at 15 minute intervals with the report on how long til we got on the plane. Littlest didn't even need the plane. He thought Hasabo's taxi was the best car he'd ever ridden in. When it finally arrived he declared take-off "fan-tas-ic!" Middlest though. The change was visible. His whole body relaxed. His shoulders slung back. This was not just familiar territory. This was TURF. His turf. Halfway down the escalator from security the change took over his entire countenance. He was on his way to an airplane. To an adventure. Hells yeah. There was a lot of fist bumping.

It took me a minute. A few minutes. Okay--it took some smoother sailing at 30K feet, a 15 minute nap, and 2 gin and tonics. But now I'm delighting too. Delighting in the magic that makes 2 wild men absolutely cool, calm, and collected once the fasten seat belt sign turns on. Delighted at the wonder of the six year old one row back. Delighted at the two year old's fascinated "Look at the fields, Mommy!" (Don't even get me started on how amazed I am that he knows he's looking at fields below us let alone that that is the word for it).

Delight. Wonder. Amazement. It's so easy to lose sight of that. Especially in the face of delays, and grumpy children, and grumpier fellow adult passengers. It's no use getting grumpy now though. Not this early into the game. There's school done. One week of swim team. And now Leg One. Denver to Washington, Dulles. Dulles to London, Heathrow. Heathrow to the Southbank. The Southbank to Warlingham. Warlingham to Devon. The Sea. Our friends. The places that feel like friends. Home. Home in the far-away place. Then Woking. Then home again. Though my educated guess says it will feel less so than it did this morning. Swim team again. A few meets. Perhaps packing and shipping? Perhaps preparing to store everything? Playing with the cousins. Happy Hours with our friends. The 4th of July fireworks and pool festivities and decorated bike-parade. Then Leg Two. A drive to Montana. Maybe take in a National Park on the way. Friends. Family. Friends who feel like family. Then Leg Three. Or is it Four or Five or Six or One Thousand Seventy? Wanderer and I off to Sydney. To find a house. A school. A new place to call home. Then a return to Denver--will it feel like home by late July? Some swimming at the pool. Some Grammie and Grandpa and aunts and uncles time. Some Rockies baseball. As much Mexican food as we can consume. Then the Final Leg of the summer. The biggest adventure. The one that takes us to a new land. Terra nova.

 What will I choose? The grumpy bog of deadlines and timeframes and do-lists and delays and...and...and...the in-my-face demands of all the ANDS. Or the pure delight of adventures that take me off the ground, up into the clouds, body relaxed, shoulders slung back..."WHOA!" on my lips and a lot of hells-yeah fist pounding.

Friday, 11 May 2012

A Toddler's Meditation

“Whoa! Buddy, look. The ants are making their hills. See? They dig some dirt, bring it above ground and set it down. Isn’t that cool?” 
How can I have never noticed that? How can I have missed that the hills are made from the insides of the tunnels? I probably knew, but somehow I never noticed. Coolness. Today I am cherishing this parenting gig.
Shoes laced and tied. Sports bra on. I thought we were going running. Drop the bigs at school, hit the trail.
“Play park little while, Mommy? Play park little while?” I love his two year old rhetoric. Quite persuasive. “Absolutely. We’ve got time, friend.” Round and round on the tire swing we go. Back and forth on the “motorcycles.” Up and down the steps and the slides until the slides are deemed “too hot!” and he rubs his sleepy nap-time eyes and I plan our run home. 
“I walk, Mommy? I walk?” and he climbs the steep hill while I push the empty stroller. We stop to watch the men mow the grass. Discussing each implement. The mower, the weed eater, the sunglasses the men wear. “What that, Mommy?” he asks and somehow I don’t mind explaining over and over. Each explanation a calm and gentle mantra lulling me into a toddler state of mind. 
His little hand feels so squishy and warm in my big one. Tugging to be let go just before the sidewalk, not after we are safely aboard. He is that type of child and I chuckle at his push for independence. “That water, Mommy!” he squeals as he splashes through the puddle. “I wet! Uh oh. Socks. Wet.” He’s delighted that he made them wet, but doesn’t particularly like the way it feels. I’m wishing I had other shoes. I love to splash in puddles, but I don’t have on the right shoes either. I skip that one. 
We kick the gravel that has escaped the school yard. We run our hands, then fists, then elbows along the chain link fence. It feels nice. More lulling. Until soon the run is forgotten, and I am on two-year-old time. Noticing. Stopping. Walking very, very slow. So slowly that the 15 minute walk home becomes an hour long one. A stop and smell every flower one. An examine every anthill one. A slow, steady meditation. I am completely present. Only in this moment. With this child. With this environment. To-do lists and runs and heaps of laundry forgotten in the spring sunshine with my precious boy. 
I learned when one takes an hour to walk that walk one must put a beanie on in the shade because the change in temperature is quite noticeable. That the breeze actually feels cold, not cool, when your skin isn’t rushing through it walking fast. Also that there are a LOT of pick-up trucks and Toyotas in our neighborhood. Littlest loves vehicles. 
Many have suggested lately that I learn to meditate. To help with stress. Clear my mind. Rest my heart. I agree. It would be helpful. How do I know? I took an hour to walk with a two year old .8 miles. One of the most pleasant meditative states I know.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

off we go again...

I pull out the flour for banana bread and wonder how many weeks it will last me. Should I have bought a smaller size? Measuring out the ingredients I wonder, is it worth it to order the almond flour online? It’s such a better deal, but five pounds is an awful lot to use in 3 1/2 months. Especially since we’ll be gone for 3 weeks in June. I did the same thing at Costco with the olive oil, and the toilet paper, and the laundry detergent. Deciding ‘no’ on all three.
Laundry is a funny wash and organize process. Many things don’t make it back upstairs. They go straight into the blue Ikea bag to be donated. I can’t decide whether to be uber-motivated to finally finish the office so I can USE it already after months of it being full of boxes or to just tape back up the boxes and leave the door shut. Lots of the toys get thrown in the crate in the garage when I tidy up. No sense putting them back on the shelves when they’re not getting played with that often anyway. 
Towels, clothes, kitchen gadgets. I’m in full on sorting mode. Perhaps it’s a little early, but it seems each item I touch gets put through the same interrogation process: Are you worth shipping? Worth storing? Will Ash be big enough to play with you when we’re back? Will he want it while we’re away? Would it be easier to just replace you when we get there? 
In some ways it’s exhausting to be doing this again just one short year since the last time. In others I am absolutely elated and cannot wait to begin another chapter in our grand global adventure. Plus hey, looks like my house will be quite organized and tidy before we go! 
Yep, we’re hitting the road again. On our way to Sydney, Australia, at the end of the summer for a two year assignment. Seems sort of crazy and cool to move somewhere I’ve never been. The big boys are hoping to learn to surf. I’m hoping the littlest picks up an Australian accent! 
Should be lots to write about. Watch this space!