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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back to It All

Bless their hearts. We've been dressed and on time and back to it all. School's in full swing with homework and the whole nine. They gleefully report sibling sightings at the dinner table and the Mister and I are tickled to hear those usually result in hugging! I'm hoping to decamp to the pool all weekend to celebrate.

More likely we'll split our time between the pool, a seemingly endless review of MLS listings and open houses.  We're in the throes of house hunting. Did I tell you that our oddly timed lease (we're out of the house in February) means we need new digs soon? Don't worry - we're planning for some sort of guest space when purchasing in Music City. And I'm still gunning for an all kids' bunk room to make use of any spare family space we can. You heard it here first! We gave ourselves the summer off from house hunting and are now in the thick of it.

Kind of like naming babies with a full belly, house hunting is really only terrifically fun when the pressure is off. But I'm grateful that the Mister and I have always been on the same page in our many homes (7 at last count!) in our 15 years. We've always come to a decision unanimously. So there's that.

Varied housing styles (townhouse, apartments, construction new and old and a beloved American Four Square) throughout the years have taught us about what we value in our space. Altho we're not campers, I feel sure that we could pretty much get by with a hot pot (speaks to my culinary skills, too) and a few rollaway beds. And surely we only need one full bath as that's all we seem to use (with maybe a spare for guests). The year we don't have baby toys or Johnson's baby wash in our shower will likely be when Baby Sister has flown the nest. Until then, we tend to happily live on top of each other, no matter how big the house.

Outdoor space matters now, too. Even though we absolutely loved our flat in London and some of us long to be city folk again, in Nashville we've found that we adore wide open spaces. (Cue the Dixie Chicks.) I remember crying a bit on a trip to Scotland being struck by how much the kids loved (and needed) to just open the door and run outside.

This is our first time looking for a home while living in the same town. While house hunting is something that happens to us every other year or so, that's new. It is a great luxury to be able to see a listing pop up and drive by a few minutes later. Even if it means the peanut gallery chimes in from the backseat about what they "would even consider!" Never before have the kids had a chance to see the places we're considering in person.

Which also means that they're learning some of the heartache that comes with house hunting. Just this week, Biggest Brother and I got way out in front of a love affair with a property with a small house and very big yard (he was creating mountain bike trails and I was decorating for Christmas). But we've bought a house that came and went three times before it was ours, and I'm trying to impart to them the confidence that the right place will be obvious when it is right for us.

As a testament to his goodness, while I was licking my wounds and replaying a kazillion "what ifs" about the house that I felt sure should have been, at bedtime prayers last night, Biggest Brother prayed for the people who got that house. Bless that guy's heart. I should be so loving and kind.

In summary, we're back to it all. Even house hunting.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Last Bits of Summer

We're kicking up our boots and making a splash. Even tho the reality of uniforms and actual bedtimes has set in, we're still getting to the pool and treating ourselves however we can. The last of our summer houseguests have departed and we're back to school. What a wonderful summer it was. Or has been. We're easing into school days gradually. If the pool is still open, summer can't really be over, right? 

A tiny bit of denial can be your friend. So can a chic crossing guard. 

We're so grateful for all the company we received this summer. AND for not being new this fall. I have forgotten how delightful it is to be in the second year of a posting. When things are fresh, new and exciting but when you've traded fear for familiarity. When you have a healthy list of favorite people and things to do. When homesickness for the last place has eased. Less crying in public and more feeling normal. Feeling welcome and at home.

The above is just a glimpse into our first week and doesn't count as the official back to school photo without Big Sister. Bless her heart - she was so eager to get to her class that I didn't want to delay her a moment.  I did snap her on the stairs before we left the house. Check out her M&S Mary Janes (and super long legs)! I am tickled that my little American school girls requested a bit of London as part of their school gear (and that M&S ships free to the US). Also, bless her heart - Big Sister started at the orthodontist this summer. Here's to Number 3 doing something first!   

So far so good on our second year in Nashville. We're graduating to new stages so happily and together.

We loved sharing Nashville with friends and family this summer. Exploring, showing off our favorites and discovering even more things to do, see, eat and learn in Music City with company was a highlight of the time off. We'll continue exploring all fall.

Meanwhile, tho the pool still beckons.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Little Business. A Big Day

Big day of hard work yesterday. A team effort. We painted, cleaned, inventoried, priced and moved into the shop at GasLamp Too!

It is the culmination of a lot of work as well as the sudden realization of a dream. A happy day. Grateful for my extraordinary painters, movers, in-house cheerleaders and babysitter that made it all possible.

And what nice timing. Fall has always felt like the beginning of the year to me. Even in the years between being a school girl and having school children.

A new year. A big day! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Decade of Buddy

There's so much to say and not nearly enough time. The kids start school early August and then I suspect there will be way too much time and you'll quickly tire of me.

But meanwhile, our Buddy has turned 10 and I've not told you all about it. He and Biggest Brother have been gone all week visiting cousins and we're so excited to see them.

So I promise to send a newsy late summer update about our crew soon but until then, I want to celebrate our Number Two Son.  I suspect he's grown up a ton this week. Heaven knows it has been a big year: British school boy. American school boy. Cross Country runner. Broken clavicle. Star Wars and LEGO aficionado. Keen reader and straight A student. Our best snuggler and most cuddly. Champion of the Freckle Team.

He is a real sweetheart and our true buddy. Happy first decade and much love.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Beach Babies.

Sun. Sand. Rinse and Repeat. The best bits of summer are spent like this. Of all the places we've called home, we always feel most right near the water. Content with beach hair and bare feet.

These pix really highlight the breakdown of our Freckle Team v. Non Freckle Team, don't they? Would you believe yesterday the Non Freckle Team showed up en masse on the beach in coordinating aqua swimsuits? They say they didn't plan it, but I feel sure it was a challenge of sorts to us. We'll have to up our game.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wide Open for Business

Friends!  I'm here and happily so and glad you are, too. We're positively swimming in lots and lots of summer fun. It is not even the 4th of July and it has been a wonderful whirlwind already. A trip to London, a gaggle of guests, long lie ins and lots of actual swimming, too! And that's before we've even had a beach trip. There is so much to tell you, but first I am tickled to say: I'm open for business!

I've just started an antique business in my very favorite antique mall in Nashville: GasLamp Too! It is where we've found all of our best Southern treasures and was programmed into our GPS while we were camped out in the hotel awaiting our goods' clearance through Customs last summer. (Can you believe that was nearly a year ago?!)

Now I have not just an official purpose to lurk about the shop lots, but even better, to purchase and share things I love. GasLamp has kindly to offered me this great space until my actual booth becomes available in August.

The kids and the Mister have been super to help with set up and display and lots of good cheer. And they've gone without the den for a few months while it has served as my warehouse of sorts. The other dealers have been gracious and welcoming and it is another lovely way for us to make new friends in Nashville. Hooray!

And I've already made my very first sale! A modest one to be sure but you've got to start somewhere, right? I cannot tell you how tickled I am to have started this adventure. Stay tuned.

More soon on our travels to London and all the joy summer has already delivered. And please get out your calendars to plan a visit and come see my shop -- soon and often!  xo

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tiny Tails. Under the Sea Adventures

We feted Baby Sister with a mermaid party last weekend. Only croissant crabs allowed.

It was quite possibly our most adorable party ever and it might take me a LONG post to tell you about it. Apologies in advance. If cute isn't your thing, look away now. But if you're in need of a quick and easy party, I'm your girl.

It was great luck that so much of this party came together the morning of the event. I'll never again plan to host people just hours after summer has begun. In the race to finish the school year and start to celebrate summer, there wasn't much party prep time. Really just time Big Brother and I logged getting ideas online. And most of that was spent mired in photos of cake wrecks. Nonetheless, I was determined that this -- being Baby Sister's first not just us birthday party -- would be full of fun and fanfare. And always - a theme!

But, I digress. (That might be the new name of this blog.)

Of course, at my house all the best parties start with a favor plan. The guests got sand buckets filled with bubbles and a super easy goldfish barrette/bow. So easy that I made extras for friends.

If you're going to whip up a last minute party, it pays to stockpile ribbon, clothes pins, google eyes and general art supplies. Keep your supplies separate from the kids' if you want to ever find them.

Goldfish hair bows: Loop medium-width orange grosgrain ribbon like you were making an advocacy bow. Tie that with a thinner ribbon behind the neck. Do fish have necks? The little opening makes the mouth. Hot glue a googley eye to the front and barrette in the back.

Blow a little air into a gift bag and tie with ribbon.

What if you have to make palm trees in a jif? Not to worry. Especially if you have lunch bags, pool noodles and tissue on hand. Just cut out the bottoms of the brown bags, crumple and thread them onto the noodles. Top with green tissue fronds. Three minutes max.

Of course, busy little mermaids will need to eat.

Croissant sannie platter dotted with bubble gum "pearls" - even if crabs don't make pearls. I cracked myself up seeing these guys staring at me in the frige all morning.

Nine-legged octopus (polypus?) veggie and dip platter and sea turtle fruit bowl. Fondant mermaid (thanks, Barbie for the bikini loan) as cake topper sitting on graham cracker sand. Goldfish and Swedish fish rounded out the lunch menu. 

We played lots of fishing games and had water balloons galore. The girls painted their own little clothes pin mermaids. We used q-tips as paint brushes. They LOVED this and spent lots of time with their creations.

I hot glued skeins of embroidery floss hairdos onto each clothes pin.

And what mermaid party would be complete without tails?

These were the cutest things EVER. And take less than 5 minutes each. I'm serious. Cute, quick and cheap? In addition to being my next band's name, those are things I strive for everyday.

Did I mention these are no sew? (Made extra important as our power went out the night before the party.) I took turquoise tea towels, attached layers of wide sparkle tulle ribbon with hemming/fabric tape and made a waistband with wide fabric headbands (sold in multipacks). The stretchy waistband also attached with fabric tape

Gather the base of the tail with ribbon and you've got a mermaid. Or two!

Invites were homemade with leftover ribbon and card stock. The vellum was a last minute addition (cut @ the bottom to look like waves) and what happenstance - it made it all look a little under water.

We had a great time and the guest of honor was even happier than the craft lady. Cheers!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Real Sports

Summer is near, friends!  Really, really near. As in we're serving Pimms and taking Pimms to go plates and pitchers along when we're invited to eat elsewhere. As both a tribute to our British life and a celebration. Of just about everything lately.

Today was the kids' Field Day at Our New School. Such fun was had by all and Baby Sister served as an excellent cheerleader.

I'm incredibly proud of the smalls this year. For building new friendships, adjusting to being back in America and just plain thriving.

I'm also (and here I'm sure I'm not alone) exceedingly glad that our summer has nearly arrived. They just go to school tomorrow morning for Mass and awards and to hug their teachers one last time. But as we've worn swimsuits more than school uniforms in the last few days, summer is upon us.

It isn't just that I'm glad the school year is coming to a close. In fact, any sort of next step is always bittersweet for me. But I'm so happy that they've not just endured but done really well this year. They have friends. They've learned so much (and not just the Pledge of Allegiance!) and they are happy and settling in Music City.

To say I'm grateful is both hugely repetitive and a giant understatement. We're here. We really like it. We're making lovely friends and in a great school. AND some of the luckiest of us are going to London before too long.

Good news. Good sports. Great cheer!