17 August 2017

a sunday on malta


although moses absolutely makes our little family ten million times better, it was pretty awesome to spend some baby-free time with my one and only. ian is sincerely my best friend, my deepest love, my true companion and my favourite person. he somehow simultaneously drives me completely crazy and makes me so crazy happy. our marriage is haaaaard work in a lot of ways, and undoubtedly the most difficult thing i have ever navigated – but i am consistently blown away by how much security, happiness, sweetness, and fun it has offered me -- and the challenges have stretched me in hugely positive ways. i love my husband and i love us together. 

and i especially love us together adventuring in malta!

after that dreamy saturday on gozo and comino, we spent sunday on the main island of malta at church and then exploring cities and the coast.

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^^ it was wonderful to join in on the services of the small branch of the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints in the town of mostra. i never knew what a maltese hymn book looked like until i saw one that sunday! :) ^^
^^ 15 august is a holiday in malta – the feast of santa maria – so lots of the streets we drove or walked down were decked out with flags and garlands. i love that kind of stuff! ^^
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after church, we set out to find a traditional boat that we could ride around valletta’s grand harbour on. it was a total fiasco that included a big ole spousal fight, a boat crash (seriously!) and the realization that we had paid for a ride around the opposite side of the city from what i really wanted to see form the water (valletta’s domes and steeples). ugh, not our best couple of hours.
but! we still saw some pretty scenes and eventually figured out how to get on a boat that would afford the expected views (although we had to go with a crowded ferry instead of a charming colourful rowboat :) )
we walked through the narrow, atmospheric, hilly streets of valletta for a few minutes before leaving the capital city. a very unique and cool place!
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^^ there are traditional british phone booths sprinkled around malta and gozo. it was fun to see a little hint of home while on a little island in the mediterranean sea! ^^
we stopped by the ancient city of mdina and took a stroll through its charming streets. it was so quiet and felt so magical!
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and then we ended our day at the “blue grotto” (see the first picture in this post) at sunset. it was the perfect finale to our trip. so so gorgeous and peaceful.

we definitely need to go back to malta. we barely even scratched the surface of its intrigue and beauty and culture and wonder. but we had a really great trip, just the two of us.

16 August 2017

ten thoughts on a wednesday |15|

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ian passed the second round of the cfa exam! we found out soon after we got back from our trip to the states. we were on a sunset walk along the thames (moses was staying up late due to jet lag) when the congratulations email came in. we immediately started fist pumping, high fiving, cheering and shouting "YES!!!" i'm sure the people around us were a bit amused. what a relief! now there's just one more round to pass - ian will take level three next june. i'm really proud of him - not just because the exam is notoriously difficult but mostly because he has done such a stellar job balancing studying with his demanding career, his church responsibilities, being an out-of-this-world dad, fantastic husband and amazingly caring and thoughtful human.

i have recently had a lot of dental work done (four cavities filled in three separate appointments). i have a really bad history with dentistry - i used to cry every single time i went to the dentist - it was some kind of pavlovian response after lots of not-so-fun times in that chair as a kid - but i actually enjoyed my most recent experiences. reclining in one place without any distractions (or any diapers or demands from a baby!) is actually pretty dreamy to me these days. i really like my dentist here in london (he is super gentle and i hardly feel any uncomfortableness) and i decided to use those hours with my mouth agape to meditate and ponder and relax. during my most recent appointment, i thought a lot about the imperfections of the human body and how i believe that life is supposed to be hard.

i am, of course, sickened by the news that came out of charlottesville last week. i'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that "white supremacy" is a thing in america (and elsewhere). it's truly sad to see humans of the world so divisive. but i truly, truly believe that there is far more good than bad in this world, and that good will always win.

both ian and i get soooo excited whenever we see a tiny baby when we are out and about together. to each other we whisper, "ohhh! looooook!" and it's obvious that both of our hearts are just melting. maybe we are a bit baby hungry?! 

ian says he has just one little regret from our wedding - he wishes we had more cool photos in "cityscape" surroundings (totally random, i know). when we were in utah last month, i surprised him by booking a photographer. we put our wedding garb back on and had a blast running around the streets of downtown salt lake city.
our photographer sent us just a little "preview" of the images she shot and we are so excited to see the rest! here's a little peek. IMG_8881IMG_8879IMG_8884 IMG_8885IMG_8882
gosh, i love this boy and the life we share.
photos by meg bird photo.

have i told you lately how much i adore london's flower-laden pubs in the summertime?? yes? well, i'm just going to keep on raving about them! this darling, tiny pub (on the left) is right across the street from ian's office and i just love it!
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today mo and i met some friends at richmond park, in southwest london. it is such a cool place. it totally feels like wilderness - there are even herds of deer roaming freely (they've been doing so since 1637!). i'm bummed i didn't snap any photos of the cuuuute gaggle of kids we had gathered this morning. moses was the littlest by far but i love that he has so many cute friends to look up to!
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our flight home from malta on sunday arrived at stansted just after midnight, which meant the trains were no longer running, which meant we had to take the bus into central london, which meant we didn't get to our flat until 3am - woof! but still, when i heard moses waking up at 6am i popped out of bed so fast because i was sooooo excited to see him. he has been especially affectionate - lost of hugs and kisses - since we returned from our trip. it's so so sweet!

as i've been writing this, moses has emptied two drawers, his basket of toys, and one kitchen cupboard. and the price i pay for a shower these days is an entire roll of toilet paper unrolled and toys allll over the bathroom. he is right on the cusp of waking, and i know the mess-making is only going to get better...! :)
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my parents have been writing books for nearly forty years now. they've always done so with a super sincere desire to help families by sharing what they've learned. in the past few years, as they've entered more of a "retirement" stage of life, they've become even less concerned about making money from book sales and have tried to figure out any way to share their books for little or no price. you can access over half of their books online via eyres' free books, and they just recently collaborated with their newer publisher to offer seven of their newest books for half off (if you click there and put in the code CHARITYFRIEND, you can see all seven books and decide if you want to purchase any of them at half price). next up is my mom's new book about grandmothering - super excited about that one (i think of any book my parents have written - together or separate - i've heard the most great reviews about my mom's a joyful mother of children, originally published in 1982).

happy wednesday! life is beautiful!

15 August 2017

big fans of gozo and comino

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so … to be honest, i had no idea what or where malta was before i moved to london.
when ian and i first looked up some photos and info about this unique place, we were instantly allured. in early june, as we walked together out of the testing venue where ian had just completed taking the second round of the cfa exam, i told my hard-working husband that i thought we should take a baby-free trip to malta to celebrate.
he was so excited about that idea!

and it turns out that malta is a total wonderland! it quickly became one of our all-time favourite travel destinations. our quick weekend there was filled with beauty and adventure.

we are really lucky that we were able to leave moses with someone we hugely trust and totally love – my cousin aubrey, who is currently a master’s student at oxford. on our way to the airport we both kept feeling like we were missing something important – like our baby maybe?! ;) we honestly both worried that we would just be missing moses like crazy the entire trip, but we were able to focus on each other and enjoy baby-free time, and it was awesome.

we spent saturday on the islands of gozo and comino (just north of the main island of malta) and we totally fell in love with that place.

^^ ^^ a couple of snaps from our b&b, which we loved. it was so charming and rustic. ^^ ^^
^^ the town of qala from afar. and there are so many cacti in malta! ^^
^^ the famous blue lagoon of comino from afar. ^^
we took a boat from ^^ hondoq bay ^^ to comino. after a couple of hours we came back to this same swimming spot and had so much fun jumping in and swimming around.
^^ this rock outcropping is said to be shaped like an elephant. can you see it? ^^
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^^ ^^ ^^ our boat driver took us into a bunch of caves along the perimeter of comino and it was so cool! ^^ ^^ ^^
^^ it was super windy that day, so the ocean was rough and we got pretty wet on the boat ride! ^^
^^ i mean, the colour of that water!! (insert heart eye emojis here) ^^
^^ overlooking the blue lagoon. so uniquely stunning! ^^
^^ we walked along the edge of the island of comino a bit and were just blown away by the beauty of the water and the islands. ^^
^^ we came across this swimming spot, which was was much less crowded than the actual blue lagoon, and it was so fun to jump in that amazing water and swim back into some caves and just enjoy the amazing landscape together. ^^
^^ we swam deep back into that cave and were the only ones in there for a while. it was so cool (and romantic)! ^^
^^ this is where parts of the movie the count of monte cristo were filmed. ^^
^^ cannot believe i was swimming through that water a few days ago! ^^
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^^ we took a quick dip in the actual blue lagoon (which had gotten so crowded!) and then took a boat back to hondoq bay. ^^
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^^ there’s these really fun platforms that are good for jumping off of at hondoq bay. we jumped off a few times and also enjoyed watching others dive, flip and cannon ball of of them. we especially loved seeing this cute little boy work up the courage to jump off. he reminded us of a bigger version of moses! ^^
after we got our fill of swimming, we drove all around the island of gozo exploring. about every five minutes i asked ian to stop the car so i could hop out and snap a picture or two, haha! i was beckoned by majestic churches on hills overlooking the deep blue ocean, quiet quaint streets bathed in sunshine, cactus filled valleys, bougainvillea framed doors and windows … that place is truly a wonderland!
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^^ we happened upon some salt pans and learned a little bit about how they are used to extra sea salt from the ocean. ^^
^^ the real destination of our wandering drive was the azure window/blue hole area. unfortunately just a few months ago, the azure window (a magnificent natural arch along the coast) collapsed! we were sad to learn that when planning our trip, but still excited to see the cliffs in the area and swim in the blue hole (a pool of ocean surrounded by rocks just below the azure window). the ocean was far too rough that windy day to allow us a dip in the hole, but we still enjoyed scrambling along the rocks and taking in all the tumultuous beauty around. ^^
^^ here’s what this same area looked like earlier this year (on a calm day)! (image via) ^^
^^ looking the other direction along the curve of the island. ^^
we ended our day exploring the city of victoria. ^^
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^^ while wandering the narrow, pretty streets of victoria, we came across some locals that invited us to try some of the cactus fruit they were peeling (yum!). they also showed us this door on which they’d pinned all their grandchildren’s artwork. this was probably the highlight of my day. i just love meeting new people in new places and getting a little glimpse into their lives. ^^
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^^ just as we were leaving, the lights strung arcross the streets came on! ^^

gozo and comino, we are your newest huge fans!
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