2014: a year in review


Looking back at where I set my goals. 2014, how did we do?

Practice patience. Not as much with James and Chris – I’m generally pretty patient with them already – but with myself. Be kind to myself. Whether I admit it or not, I’ve got a lot on my plate, and I’m my worst critic. Now is the time to take a breath and just let my world be.

I suppose I did okay. I let go of a lot in terms of letting the days guide me without thought of where they might go or why, but I still found myself trying to do too much all the time. I know some of it is the nature of life right now, but some of it is self-imposed. This one is a work in progress.

* Along the same lines as the a lot on my plate notion, evaluate what’s on my plate.  Get rid of the junk, savor the good stuff.  Find more time for the good stuff by minimizing time wasted on the junk.  I kid myself with no elusions of finding more time. 

Well, I certainly evaluated what’s on the plate, but I can’t say I was overly successful in changing much. I do take more time to soak in the good stuff…but the crap is still there. That might just be life as a grownup.

* Celebrate my son’s first birthday.  Bake him a cake (a wee one for a wee lad), buy some balloons, share in the joy. Reflect on what the past year has meant not only for him, but also for me and Chris.  Ponder just how far we have come, because, by god, we’ve come a long way.

Celebrate we did! With a sick little guy, but a celebration nonetheless. And a store-bought cake, but who cares, he was happy. There were balloons and a piñata and so much guacamole – we had one heck of a first fiesta. There was also a lot of reflection and joy in that we had a rough winter with a sick baby a lot of the time, and birthday numero uno marked a turning point to a healthier boy.

* Earn another stamp or two in the old passport.  One will be Mexico in January.  Where will the next be?

Mexico, bingo bango. And then England and Spain! We nailed this one. Absolutely nailed it with so much freaking travel joy it’s hard to describe. The little dude was incredible; we savored every second; and we finally found time to just be. 2014 travel did not disappoint.

* The four generations get away. Figure out how to make it happen. 

Please let this happen in 2015. We had lots of visits, but no getaways. Plan it!

* Hone the camera skills. Read about it, practice it…learn it.

A work in progress to say the least.

* North Dakota or South Carolina: make it happen.


* Same with you, chicken coop. Make it happen.

Fail again. Boo.

* Sew. Cushions for the kitchen chairs. Curtains. What have you. Be domestic. 

Kitchen chairs: check. Curtains? Umm, nope. Moderate fail on this one.

* Run another half marathon. This one with the husband. Part of it with the kid.

Wishful thinking. Lots of running, just no half marathon. 2015?

* Reflect on what this body of mine has accomplished in the past few years, because goddammit, it’s impressive. Ponder what it will accomplish again in the next few years.

Check and check. Feeling good, proud, content.

* Bake more bread.  In the literal sense, not in the that’s-a-cute-metaphor-for-having-another-kid sense. NOT YET.

Fail. 2015, I’m looking at you.

* Yoga. At least once a week. Because it feels good. 

Moderate fail. Again, 2015.

* Smile. Laugh. Soak it all in (this should be an easy bullet to accomplish – I excel at smiles and laughter).

Yes, yes, and yes. One of my biggest successes of 2014.

* Think gratitude. Maybe even start writing about it. Three things per day. So far today I have my morning smoothie, a free cup of Starbucks, and one more to go. What else will I feel grateful for today? The sun on my back. An up-coming vacation. Practice gratitude.

Umm, ehh. I did okay but wasn’t as intentional about this one as I would like. Again, 2015.

* Likewise, practice kindness. Always, always, always.

Success on this one. Maybe not as much to myself as I would have liked, but overall, a pretty solid year.

So we met some goals and we missed some, but 2014, you were an adventure for sure. If 2015 shares half as much joy, we’re in for one heck of a ride.


shoulder ride

So it has been a while and now here I am, back pondering thoughts and scribbling them down on a screen (and staring at this photo I adore from sometime in July). Since we’ve been gone, we’ve given thanks and made our way almost to Christmas (a week and a day to go!). We’ve had adventures close to home, adventures at home, and adventures a little bit away from home. Weekends have been busy but nice, lots of time spent as a dynamic trio, me, Christopher, and Jamesey.  It has been a busy season, but also a quiet one, and quiet seasons tend to get the wheels turning.

There’s a level of discontent – or maybe discomfort? – right now. A lack of patience. These days feel important. I like to soak in the time with my little boy and my sweet husband and to enjoy the moments we have because we spend far too much time apart, click-clacking away at keyboards while doing our best to make our way in the world. But I often wonder…is all of that click-clacking necessary or is some of it just extra, invasive, unnecessary? I’m sure it’s the latter. But how to remedy it? How to take the first step away from the routine as we know it and define a new path? That’s what we don’t know. I’m not talking some grand change here. More like a small, subtle change. A change that feels a little bit like a hug for the soul. A change that means choosing my boys over some other silly things and feeling so very right about it.

The question, as always, is how and when to make that shift, and that is what remains unknown. So for now, I embrace the time with the boys, step away from the computer despite the draw to yap about all of our sweet adventures, and just be.

This season, do less stuff.

Just be.

A close to home weekend adventure

James pizza 2 James pizza

So we took a (Saturday/)Sunday drive, and the only photos I took are the two above. Two blurry, two not so cute. Fortunately the rest of our weekend was neither blurry nor not so cute, so hurrah! Where did we go?

Well, what better time for a getaway than the weekend before Thanksgiving?! Chris had a rugby tournament in Pittsfield, so James and I tagged along. Were it not so cold, perhaps I would have taken pictures, but perhaps not. The pitch, as they call it, was beautiful – in the background sat the Berkshire mountains, in the foreground grown men grunted and clattered and crashed and groaned. James and I spent our time going back and forth between the giant playground and the pile of rugby equipment. James made neat little rows of every rugby ball he could find. And then we go cold and cranky, so we went to find lunch. Finding lunch turned into not finding lunch for longer than a 19 month old was willing to wait, so we had a screaming car ride, just me and the boy. And then we found lunch! And took two pictures. And James sat pleasantly the entire time, ate a TON of pizza, and was just the most delightful little lunch date I have ever had. Such a scene will most likely not be repeated again anytime soon – really, it was impressive. A genius also decided that running an electric train around the perimeter of the restaurant would be a good idea, so James was happily entertained there. I’m telling you, brilliant.

Anyways, back to rugby after pizza, More cold, more rugged men covered in dirt. Fun! Then onward to our stopping point for the night, Northampton, MA. We didn’t have plans to do anything per say, but we rarely have such plans. So we went to a brewery, ordered some Thai takeout, and hunkered down in the hotel for the night.

Sunday morning started earlier than we would have liked with a 5am wakeup call from the little boy. The little boy with a 101.7 fever! We had our hopes that he was just overheated from his pj’s and sleepsack and a warm hotel room, but still – that was hot. So some Tylenol and Lucky Charms later, we went for a swim. He loved it! He jumped off the side to Dad, blew bubbles, squiggled with glee. Sweet little water baby. And then onward we went, to a playground, for a walk, to eat Mexican food, and finally home where we still have the entire afternoon ahead of ourselves because Sundays are really long when you start them at 5.

So that was that, a weekend away. A weekend with no work around the house, no chores, no work. Just play. And it was lovely.

A progress check on the Fall 2014 Travel Bucket List

IMG_0145We set out a while ago to come up with our Fall 2014 Travel Bucket List, and now that the days are short and the temperatures have dropped, it seems appropriate to check in with a status update.

Let’s see how we’ve done, shall we?

Local (a lot of these adventures have marked the return of the Sunday drivers):

  • New England Aquarium: we made it once and have plans to go back. Success!
  • Legal Seafoods: we tried but the place was a zoo. Still on the list, and boy will that chowdah taste good.
  • Russell Orchards. Fail. It might remain that way, but so it goes. Next year!
  • The beach with the singing sand: every Wednesday and tomorrow. The water still sparkles.
  • Appleton Farms.  Cheeeeeeeeese. And cows.  But really, cheeeeeeeeeese. Sunday?
  • Hikes, so many hikes: I wouldn’t say we’ve been on so many, but we’ve done a couple and they’ve been great. Moderately successful here.


  • Colorado! A whopping success. We had a great trip full of friends, family, and laughter. As always, the time passed too quickly, but we so enjoyed the time we had.
  • Vermont: Fail. Big, fat fail. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen either, but we’re shifting it to the winter list.
  • The Berkshires because I (and we) have never been: couple weekends from now this one can have a big checkmark next to its name. Hurrah!


  • England to visit these two crazy gals: So incredibly successful. We had the best time, the best trip, so much fun. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
  • Spain to relax by the beach, practice the Spanish, eat some tapas, enjoy the downtime: It was perfect, magnificent, everything we could have wanted. A true lesson in why traveling with a kid is simply the best.
  • And for an added bonus, I threw Nigeria into the mix. Not a planned adventure, but an adventure for sure.

I would say we have had a busy Fall of travel. Daunting to some, but bread and butter to us. Let’s hope the coming seasons share some similar flavor, because we have had FUN, so very much fun.

The vacation word explosion

Beach pondererFor a while now James has graced me with the sweet, sweet sound of Mom-mom, and he has had a few other words as well, but vacation really marked that tipping point I’ve heard many moms speak of where the kid just starts to talk. He mimicked so many sounds on vacation that I hadn’t heard before, and he found his words.  So many!

The list:

  • Bath
  • Book
  • More (and mas!)
  • Please (I’ll give him the world when that sweet little voice squeaks, pwease?)
  • Boost (as in, Dad, give me a boost!)
  • Chip
  • Dip
  • Cups
  • Body (as in Bodyyyyy Slam!)
  • Step
  • Beach
  • Bus
  • Diap (as in diaper)

Crazy, just crazy. Since we got home he melted my heart once again when he figured out how to say Grampa (gam-paaaah). And gracias!

Wee little dude is growing up!

Spain: Old Town Marbella

We took a quick afternoon jaunt to Old Town Marbella one afternoon, in search of (what else?) a nice stroll, a quick pint, and a few snacks. It was worth the trip!

IMG_0550Much like the rest of our outings, we didn’t do anything per say, but we did walk for hours, soak in a little sun, enjoy a few snacks, and breathe in pure relaxation.

IMG_0548We also managed to find a craft beer at one tiny little spot hidden amongst the cobblestone streets. I’m certain we couldn’t find it again if we tried!

IMG_0558A bit less hidden was this spot where James enjoyed his afternoon nap. Patatas bravas, mussels, and a pint for Mom and Dad.

IMG_0547And this…beautiful, idyllic Old Town Marbella at its best.

IMG_0540We couldn’t get away without exploring a local playground once Jamesey woke up, so here he is, a little boy full of joy on a BIG slide!

IMG_0564And that was it, our afternoon in Old Town Marbella. Simple, yet delightful, much like the rest of our time in Spain.

Spain: the return to Sevilla and a side trip to Ronda

So we took a day trip while in Spain, an ambitious twelve hour day trip. It was great, and James only hated his car seat for about two hours of it, so all in all, we call it a success. The impetus was a return to Sevilla, my college study abroad home. We made it a loop: two and a half hours up to Sevilla, another couple hours to Ronda, and a quick hour home. Not too shabby, thought the hopeful travelers. And it wasn’t! Again, it was a bit long, but overall, a great adventure.

We begin in Sevilla where our time consisted of a tour of Kara’s old existence. Chris indulged me; James just kept his eyes peeled for playgrounds and/or ice cream vendors. Stop one after a stop for wine and snacks (okay, so stop two) was la Plaza de Pilatos and my old home! We found the casa! James was less thrilled than me, but so it goes. At one point in time that window in the upper right was my room (the one right above me, the living room – the one on the left, the kitchen).  Memories…

IMG_0594Lingering too long was not a choice though, so onward we strolled to the park where I enjoyed many a bocadillo (packed lunch) with my friends. It doesn’t feel that long ago…

IMG_0596Park tour complete, we strolled along the river for a while before heading back to the car and on to our next town: the little cliff-side village of Ronda.


(That picture is still Sevilla!)

Ronda was good for a long walk, some time at the playground, some sand in James’ shoes, a snack, and a quick break from the drive. The town was beautiful and really perched right on the cliff – pretty impressive and a wonderful stop after quite a bit of time in the car.

IMG_0642 IMG_0637 IMG_0621 IMG_0619 IMG_0618There you have it, twelve hours of driving around Spain, wrapped up in a quick little post. The drive down from Ronda offered some nervous hairpin turns, but thankfully the passenger had a safe driver and a beautiful sunset to guide her home.


Spain: Marbella with an 18 month old

From England we flew to Spain, beautiful Spain. We flew Ryan Air direct from Manchester, England, to Malaga, Spain. According to our friends, everyone flies Ryan Air once. Now we get it. It was fine, just not…nice. We almost had to pay thirty bucks to reprint our boarding passes because we couldn’t find the PDF of them, and evidently that’s the rule. Right, we flew Ryan Air our once. It got the job done, and we made it!

Arrival in Malaga was easy, straight forward, we were excited! Following bag retrieval and car pickup, the adventure began. James offered to drive – what a gem that boy is. (We said thanks but no thanks)

IMG_0502Our journey to the condo brought us all sorts of new fun (We don’t need to change money just yet, do we? Nah, let’s just go…oh, you think it’s a toll road? Shit, it’s a toll road!), and we loved every bit of it. We found a gas station for snacks and water, an ATM for Euros, and a map to guide our way – it felt like our own little Amazing Race. James played along nicely by snoring from the back seat (the poor thing was beat).

Arrival in Nueva Andalucía, just down the way from Marbella, was smooth as could be – we were in our apartment in no time at all. Followed by a quick trip to the market for our first stock-up of red wine, cheese, and olives (hot dogs and yogurt for the mini person of the group), we headed out for our first explore. Not too long into it did we stumble upon this delightful spot, where we stopped for a quick snack and a drink. Beach vacation, we had arrived (cheers!).

IMG_0503The rest of the days played our wonderfully as nicely as the first. Following a morning jog each day, we spent hours at the beach while the little dude delighted in the waves, the rocks, the sand, all of it.


IMG_0508His parents didn’t seem to mind the beach mornings, either. The pure relaxation was just magical.

IMG_0511Our days in Marbella played out in much the same fashion each day: morning run, beach time, exhaust the kid, walk along the boardwalk until he fell asleep, and then mom and dad got to play (read: drink red wine at lunchtime on the beach!).  Truly, truly wonderful.


IMG_0662Also truly wonderful was the little boy waking up from his snooze, lazily looking around, and then joining us for the last bits of our drinks and maybe – on a good day – a French fry snack.


IMG_0663I yap about it a lot – James is just so fun – but this trip he was incredible. So happy, so relaxed, so willing to follow his parents as they flitted all over the place, soaking up the adventures that they craved so badly. Better yet, he seemed to enjoy it – like truly, truly enjoy it – which makes his travel-loving momma just SO happy. He’s a hearty little boy, that Jamesey. A wandering spirit after his parents’ hearts, perhaps? So many smiles from him on this trip.

Anyways, beach and lunchtime wine drinking aside, we spent a solid amount of time at the playground watching our little baby act so very much NOT like a baby.


IMG_0715Back at the condo, James enjoyed a few odd activities like brushing his teeth using his own private sink. (James, that’s not a sink)

IMG_0693And hiding with Mom in the TV cabinet. (This was fun until Dad got in on the trick and fell through the back of the cabinet. Daaaaaaaad!)

IMG_0684And that’s that, our time in Marbella. We took a few day trips that I’ll talk about later, but for the most part our way was embodied by sunshine, the beach, red wine, olives, and so much joy. We had a blast, our little dynamic threesome did!


England: Day 2 in Yorkshire

Day two, up and at ’em early we were! Our day began with a proper English breakfast of eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, AND beans. All of that pub-sitting the day before meant we had earned a hearty meal. Right? Right. Sure, whatever.

First stop? The playground! (Don’t mind me being bow-legged, it goes back to horseback riding days…oh wait, right, I’m afraid of horses. So yeah, I have no explanation, just don’t mind it, I’m squatting awkwardly and James is watching me do so.)

IMG_0422Right after this next picture was taken, James fell off the playset. Oops. Becky and I had fun climbing the spider web thingy though (and he was fine)!

IMG_0424Following the tumble, James preferred lower ground and insisted upon driving his dad around in the truck. It reminds me of the Flintstones for some reason!



Onward and upward with the day – next stop, the steam train!


IMG_0435This next series shows idiotic parenting. We start with a cute little picture of the train, James, and me. Aww, what a great adventure we’re having!

IMG_0437Oh shit, it’s a steam train, and it’s leaving. Fuck, it’s steamy. We’re getting covered in steam train shit. Goddammit.

IMG_0438Holy protective momma bear. My baby is getting covered in steam train shit and good lord that whistle is LOUD.

IMG_0439Let’s get out of here and take quaint little pictures of English countryside villages. Yes, heart garlands fit the bill.

IMG_0443This should not surprise anyone that knows us.

IMG_0450We did not buy these. Though if I ever need a place to purchase my reet good proper porkie scratchings, I now know where to go.

IMG_0391Moving right along, a proper English tea at Betty’s!

IMG_0456Contrary to my uh-oh-we’re-in-a-fancy-place-with-an-18-month-old expectations, James was a little delight during our afternoon tea (once we fed him the chocolate cake).


IMG_0473Ooooh, look at me, pouring proper English tea!IMG_0467And eating proper English tea cakes!IMG_0466Tea is exhausting.

IMG_0397And there you have it, our England adventure! Tomorrow, onward to Spain!

England: Day 1 in Yorkshire

Following our whirlwind two days in London, we hopped on a train northbound to Yorkshire, the countryside full of sheep and green and rolling hills.

Some of us were really excited about the train:


Okay, okay, all of us were really excited about the train:



The two and a half hour journey sailed on by as the landscape changed right before our eyes. Before we knew it, voila, the land of sheep and holy-moley-Yorkshire-accents!

Reunited with Jo, we began our explore of her homeland. First on tap, a drive through the Yorkshire Dales, a magnificently beautiful National Park that just so happens to house a magnificently quaint little Yorkshire pub that just so happened to be holding a magnificently enticing little beer festival. We decided we simply must stop.




I enjoyed a truly delightful cider – fermented perfectly and entirely unfiltered. Delish! Back on the road, we carried on smartly to a quaint little village where James requested a photo-op. Take a picture of me with the cobblestones, he commanded (and we obliged).


Following our little countryside drive, we headed back to Jo’s for a quick rest before a wander to the village pub. James declared us all to be massive embarrassments and chose to sit by himself. We obliged for about thirty seconds before we rained on his parade (we’re his parents, that’s our job).


Following a pint (okay, or two pints), we were all beat and headed home to bed. Day two of Yorkshire to come!