the bold blaze in your depths


rejoice over everything. 

exult. exhilarate. 
be glad. be delighted, elated, and bowled over with joy!

frolic freely, hop, hope, dance on the dare, cheer, champion the little ones, revel in the riotous light.

invoke god without ceasing. pray with passion. whatever you do, do not quench the spirit.

take care not to douse or dampen the bold blaze in your depths. 
jump into life. hold fast to it.

give thanks for everything. 
for everything, even the most misshapen and misunderstood,
is the disguise of the divine. 

-susan virginia hull

this morning i opened up my facebook app and it told me that i had posted the words above six years ago, on thanksgiving day 2011. and that little notification was a big tender mercy for me. i needed the reminder - the reminder of who i am, of what i believe, that i should to exult, that i should hope.

real talk: i've been sad lately. i'm struggling with some things that are deep and difficult. i often feel a bit silly for struggling with the things that i do, given how outrageously blessed and privileged i am. (plus, i recognize that my emotions are intensified by pregnancy hormones!) but my pain is legitimate; it is real and wide for me. i've been working a bit with a therapist and trying to learn about myself and create some changes. it's hard work, but i can see how it is beautiful work. i believe in its fruits. the struggle is the disguise of the divine. there will be beauty for ashes.

and amidst the peppering of significant struggle, there is so much happiness in my life. i'm so grateful for moses, who reminds me every day to frolic freely and be delighted and elated. seriously, this kid is bowled over with joy by the simplest things, every single day. i think these couple of pictures capture how he exudes wonder and gladness and how it is contagious for ian and i! (and they are a  sneak peek of our christmas card photos!)

i'm remembering the bold blaze in my depths and continuing to focus on gratitude. life is really beautiful, in all its shades of good and hard.

ten thoughts on a wednesday |24| {second pregnancy edition!}


happy thanksgiving eve! while i have embraced pre-thanksgiving christmas festivity here in london, i am still making good efforts to preserve the hearty celebration of thanksgiving in our little family. sorry, ian, no christmas music can be played until you’ve written down five things you are thankful for on paper leaves and added them to the thankful tree :) six of my eight siblings are together in arizona enjoying turkey day together, which makes me happy and makes me sad. i wish, wish, wish we were there … but i’m extra grateful this year for facetime!

today i wanted to share some thoughts and info about our pregnancy! thanks for all the kind congratulations here and on instagram. this thanksgiving, we are tremendously thankful for the tiny bebe in my belly - what a miracle and what a blessing.

baby is due to arrive sometime around 21 april (i am just over eighteen weeks along). we are particularly excited about this due date because my brother eli and his wife are due to have a baby just a few days prior - i.e. we could totally have a baby on the same day! eli and julie told us they were pregnant when they were here visiting us in london in august, and we found out we were pregnant (and then told them!) just a couple of days after they shared that happy news! we schemed up a fun way to announce both of our pregnancies to our parents and siblings (eli put together a video of drone footage that he got on our trip together to the faroe islands and slipped in some clips of us in london and his family in new york city holding ultrasound pictures :) ). i’m also super pumped that a couple of my friends here in london are having babies around the same time as us.

this pregnancy has been very different than my pregnancy with moses. i had a tough first trimester, which i didn’t expect after my first few months with moses were mostly a breeze. i still have it soooo much easier than so many women, but i remember telling ian at about eight weeks in, “i really, really just want to just sleep for the next month or so…” i luckily wasn’t vomiting, but i had awful tension headaches (it felt like someone was constantly squeezing my head as hard as they could!) and pretty intense food aversions (everything sounded pretty revolting to eat, even though i was so hungry especially because i have continued to breastfeed moses). luckily all of this, along with the extreme fatigue, faded around thirteen weeks and i am feeling pretty great now :) in my first pregnancy, i completely lost my sweet tooth, but in this pregnancy my sweet tooth has intensified! and this time around is also very different just because it’s not my first time! it’s fun to experience this all again … and i feel so so lucky to experience this all again.

we are planning and preparing for a home birth, which we are both super psyched about. we decided to hire private midwives and we have already grown to love both of the wonderful ladies that will be caring for us throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the few weeks after baby comes. sarah and natalie are part of an awesome team of super-experienced midwives that work throughout the south of england. all of our prenatal appointments/check-ups happen with one of them, here in our home - except for scans and blood work, which we go to the nearby hospital for. we are so glad to have a little birthing team of people that will all be on the same page around our hopes and preferences in welcoming our new baby into the world! of course we are prepared that anything could happen and that a hospital transfer may be necessary, but we are looking forward to a happy home birth. i am a fierce believer that every woman should (as far as possible!) give birth in the circumstances that make her feel the most safe - and having the baby in our home is what makes me feel the most safe.

we are so excited to see moses as a big brother!! he’s mo the bro! i’m positive he has basically no idea what is going on, but we have been talking to him a lot about his brother/sister … and every time we ask him “where’s the baby?” he points at my belly (well, for a few weeks he was pointing at his own belly, but he’s got it now :) ). he likes to wave at and kiss my belly, and repeat the word “baby” when we mention that in our prayers (which we do every prayer!). moses and the this little babe will be just over twenty-one months apart.

speaking of two little ones not quite two years apart, i’m admittedly pretty nervous about it! basically everywhere i go and everything i do these days, i think about how i will go there/do that with two tiny humans with me to take care of! it will just be an entirely new life for me, i think - just like it was when i had my first baby, but a little more intense in a lot of ways! of course both ian and i are so thrilled and grateful to be having another baby, but it’s also a little overwhelming! i’m sure we will find our way and the challenges will only make the joys more rich :)

we find out if we are having a boy or a girl in just a couple of weeks, and we are so excited! we are both amazed (and kind of confused, haha!) by people who choose to not find out the gender of their baby. we want as much information as we can get! ian is pretty convinced it is a girl, and i just think it’s such a win-win either way - two boys in a row and close together in age would be so fun, and it would also be great to have one of each (plus, both ian and i are pretty attached to a girl’s name that we can’t wait to use…). we will see!

i am generally a pretty emotional person (i bet you’d never guess! ;) ), but i have to say it has been nice over the past few months to blame some irrationality/mood swings/lack of control over emotions on pregnancy hormones. dang, that stuff is real! let’s just say i’ve been crying a lot, for lots of different reasons. but many of those tears have been happy tears! i also felt quite overworried at the beginning of pregnancy and was pretty much convinced that we were either having twins or i was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy (since i was experiencing a lot of one-sided cramping). man, it sure feels good to have an ultrasound technician tell you that everything looks good (and there’s only one baby in there!).

i started feeling the baby move a few weeks earlier than i did with moses, and i love it so so much. there’s been lots of discernible dancing around in there since about sixteen weeks. there is just nothing like that feeling! i am, again, totally in awe of my body and how it is creating another human. it’s such an incredible miracle that i am so passionate about.

having discovered my insatiable appetite for learning when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth when i was last pregnant, i've continued my study in this pregnancy. i recently started reading the positive birth book by milli hill and i am really loving it. it was recommended by one of our midwives and now that i've dug into it i highly recommend it to anyone. lots of great information about all types of births.

(to bring this full circle back to thanksgiving, i guess!) we are just so so grateful to be pregnant. we are extremely lucky that it didn’t take long to conceive and that both baby and i are very healthy. i am really fortunate to have a tremendously supportive husband (and extended family and friends), to not have to worry too much about the extra financial cost of growing our family, and to be able to chose the circumstances around the birth of my baby. i recognize that i am very, very privileged, and i am so, so, so thankful.

happy wednesday! life is beautiful!
and happy thanksgiving!

{artwork by my friend and absolute favourite artist, caitlin connolly}

things i like about my life right now, part 9


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i’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. of course this is because thanksgiving is coming right up, but also just because i have been searching for solutions for certain challenges in my life, and thankfulness seems to keep arising as the answer. and so, when i find myself starting to feel worried or comparing or blue, i am trying to thank god more, show more appreciation to ian, and just cultivate more gratitude in my heart … because wow!! i have so much to be thankful for. 

today i was walking with moses down the broad avenue that cuts through kensington gardens, and the world around us was glowing with autumn gold. and i just had one of those moments where i felt so overwhelmingly grateful for the beautiful life that i lead. i wrote ian an email at work and thanked him for helping so many of my dreams come true, and for giving me a family and a home that i adore, and in my heart i poured out thanks to god for all the joys and challenges and wonders of my day-to-day life. do you ever have those stop-in-your-tracks moments of deep “holy cow, life is beautiful” realizations? i was really glad to have one today.  

then i remembered how i used to keep a list of “happy things” in a notebook that i kept on my bedside table as a teenager, and how i used to write blog posts with simple lists of things i liked about my life. and i figured i was due for another post like that, in my efforts to be more actively grateful.

so here’s a quick run-down on a random friday night...

-i like that there is a beautiful tree outside our bedroom window, that right now simultaneously has tiny pink budding flowers and rich golden leaves on its branches (not sure if the tree is confused about seasons, or what!). i like looking at that tree, and below it into the super pretty garden that our downstairs neighbors keep. 

-i like that moses signs “i love you” (by rubbing his hand over his heart) whenever i lay him down in his crib to sleep. 

-i like that i’ve been trying new/fun/unusual recipes (thanks to a new food delivery service we caught a 50% deal off on recently).

-i like that, often, ian snuggles up to me and holds me in the middle of the night. and i really like that moses has been sleeping until 7:30 lately (usually he’s up between 6 and 6:30!). 

-i like that i am building deeper friendships with friends here in london.

-i like that, today, moses approached me while cleaning the kitchen with his coat in his hand and his big eyes looking up at me as if to say, please can we go outside again before it gets dark?; that we were able to hold hands and walk just across the street to the gardens for residents on our street; and that i could just watch with joyful wonder as my little son walked around the grass and the trees jabbering with glee.

-i like that there is both autumnal magic and christmas magic in my life right now, and that london just does such a good job at both! 

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-i like that i have been planning my days ahead of time and filling them with outings and checking off to do lists and relationship building. 

-i like this one super soft gray sweater that i literally wear every single day (at least around our flat!) and i like making a cup of herbal tea in my tiny kitchen. 

-i like that i can watch ian bike home on the find friends app, and then, when i see he is close, take moses to the front window to watch for dada. 

-i like that we now get to walk to church - through really beautiful streets and in only twelve or so minutes! 

-i like living in london. a lot. more than ever before. 

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-i like telling ian about my day over dinner, and hearing about his day. i like sharing my life with my best friend. 

-i like feeling the flutterings of a teeny tiny baby moving inside of me! 

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have a great (and grateful) weekend, friends!

ten thoughts on a wednesday |23|

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thank you for the excited congratulations on our baby news! we are feeling thrilled and grateful … and a tiny bit overwhelmed about the future of two kids under two! :)
we actually didn’t intend to announce our pregnancy to the world for a little while longer, but on monday afternoon my dad let me know that he had sent a mass email to all the (thousands of) subscribers of he and my mom’s website, and told me he hoped i didn’t mind that it was signed, in part, from “charity and ian +1.5 in london.” (he mistakenly thought i had already made a wide-reaching announcement.) well, i did mind … kind of a whole lot! i guess it seems kind of silly, but i had spent a lot of energy thinking about how i wanted to share our news on the internet, and i wanted ian and i to be able to do it together, in our own time (and in a fun and clever way). you only get to do this type of thing a very few times in your life! my dad assured me that no one would notice, but within an hour messages started rolling in from people inquiring about that “1.5.” and so ian and i quickly decided we had to make an announcement right away, to avoid our exciting secret being revealed on a closer-to-home scale by some stranger (i love all of you, dear blog readers, but i’m pretty sure that while i was sleeping that night here in london, someone out there would leave an exposing comment on this blog or elsewhere on the internet!). i scrambled to find a picture that i could post had that an ultrasound photo in it, while all my dreams of a cute and thoughtful reveal went down the drain - ha! and then i hastily posted that random selfie of ian and i outside the hospital after our first scan.
i’m already looking back at this experience and chuckling … but it really was quite upsetting in the moment! we are looking forward to sharing more about our baby (due date, pregnancy so far, birth plans, preparing for having two kids, etc etc) but now that dad’s got the very clear message that all of that is our news to share, i’m going to save that info for next week’s wednesday thoughts post :)
(love you so much, dad, and i know i said i would lay off the guilt trip… :) )

a few things i have been thinking about connected to strengthening my marriage, and myself:
be the person you want your spouse to be.
your spouse's issues aren’t your fault, or yours to fix; and vis versa.
praise breeds confidence, which makes most relationships better.
empathy is hugely important - consistently work to really put yourself in others’ (especially your spouse’s) shoes.

random rewind memory to share: when ian’s sister sarah and her husband michael were in town last month, we met them at the tower of london one night to watch the roadway of the tower of london raise as a big ship came through! i've always wanted to see this happen, but just have never made it to a scheduled opening. and it was really cool! pretty neat to think about the feat of engineering that bridge was when it was built long ago. and it’s just so beautiful - the second best bridge on planet earth (can you guess what i am sure is number one??).
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christmas has officially arrived in londontown. i used to be the most staunch not-until-after-thanksgiving/don’t-dilute-the-magic christmas fanatic ever. but after spending two christmases in spectacularly christmassy london, i’ve decided to fully embrace pre-december christmastime. i realize now that i can still hold onto the wonder of thanksgiving, and just allow the magic of christmas to be extended rather than diluted. over the past week i have gone to four christmas light switch-on events and have taken moses to see a few spectacular christmas window displays. the old me is rolling over in her grave, but the new me is positively giddy!
but don’t worry - even though we live abroad and in such a early-to-christmas-stuff city, i’ve made sure we are properly celebrating thanksgiving — we have our thankful tree up and growing in the entryway of our new flat, we are going to a big pie party with a bunch of friends this weekend, and we’re having the whole traditional feast the saturday after thanksgiving with our dear family friends outside of london (and i’ll definitely make a modified thanksgiving dinner on the actual day to enjoy with ian after work!).
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^^ oxford street lighting last tuesday! ^^
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^^ carnaby street lighting last thursday ^^
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^^ with a stop by to see the fortnum & mason windows on the way to the tube! ^^
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^^ my favourite christmassy street in london - old bond street! // the windows at harrods! moses is obsessed. ^^
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^^ covent garden lighting last night - so fun (and a little surreal!) to be in our old neighborhood! ^^
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^^ marylebone street fair and lighting tonight. they had santa’s sleigh, fake snow falling, and real reindeer! little mo and his friend samuel were loving it! ^^

i have three new mantras i am trying to live by more these days:
“comparison is the thief of joy.”
“expect nothing and appreciate everything."
“it’s always better in the morning."

one specific thing i was sad to leave in our old neighborhood was my gym. it was just a 3 minute walk away from our flat and had all the basic equipment that i like to use (as well as regular classes), and it was so cheap (this is extremely hard to find in london). i considered joining a new gym close to our new flat, but it was more than twice the cost of the old one and significantly smaller … so i decided to try something different for exercise over at least the next few months. i have been waking up early most mornings and working out in our living room using the app “sworkit,” which just tells you different strength training or cardio exercises to do in timed intervals. i also have been going to a weekly workout for a bunch of moms led by a friend at our new church building - it is awesome because all the babies/kids have a blast playing together and with all the toys at the church while the moms exercise together (and chat for a long time afterwards!). and i’ve gotten back to the mat and started attending yoga classes occasionally again. i am always so blissed out after a good yoga session - it makes my mind and body and spirit so happy!
i am incredibly grateful for my healthy body - especially as i carry this tiny babe in my belly!

i am trying to wrap my head around this: a bunch of hollywood moguls are accused of sexual assault, therefore they are completely shunned by everyone in their industry and despised by the general public; donald trump was accused of sexual assault and caught on tape bragging about it, therefore he was elected president of the united states. what?! man, that election that happened last year is still surreal, and from where i stand, it just keeps getting weirder.

a few tidbits about moses:
he is really settling into his new home. we think he was pretty confused the first week - it probably felt like we were on a trip, but all of his stuff was there?! but he just adores all the extra space in our new flat and has now explored pretty much every nook and cranny. he loves to climb inside a nearly empty cupboard in the kitchen, and now we call it his “clubhouse.” he hangs out there while i cook :) he has also discovered that our downstairs neighbors have a cat that hangs out in their back garden. he is so excited to see the cat out the window in our bedroom, it’s almost painful.
he has started signing “i love you” by rubbing his hand over his heart. it is the sweetest thing ever!! his communication skills are improving so much every day - he is saying more words, following more specific instructions, and figuring out all kinds of ways to get what he wants to say across :)
i gave him a haircut in the tub last sunday night. let’s just say i did a better job last time…
he has out of the blue become a picky eater, which is frustrating! anyone out there have tips on how to help him enjoy feeing himself more than just crackers and fruit?!
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^^ moses playing at an awesome playground we discovered, and hanging out in his “clubhouse” in the kitchen! ^^

it’s really starting to be winter here in london. the trees are getting more and more bare, it is getting dark so early (i kind of despise daylight savings time…), and we have had some majorly chilly days! i love living in a place that has distinct seasons. that said, i am bracing myself for the next few months. it really doesn’t get outrageously cold here in england, but the lack of daylight is really hard. luckily we have christmas magic, and a trip planned to a warm(er) locale in february.
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^^ some last scenes of autumn. i love the holly berries under the fall foliage - a change of seasons is here! ^^

a couple of saturdays ago we rented a car and drove to ikea and then to the temple. the first thing i have to say about that is this: dang, those ikea meatballs are so good. with the mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam?! sooo good! the second thing i have to say about that day is this quick story:
ian and i traded off going inside the temple and staying outside on the grounds or in the visitors’ centre with moses. there’s this big statue of jesus in the visitors’ centre and i brought moses right up close to it and he loved it. at my suggestion, he waved at jesus, and looked at the nail prints in his hands. and then, with zero prompting, he looked right into the face of jesus, thought for a little second, and did his sign for thank you. it was just the sweetest thing! i did not encourage him at all to do this - wasn’t talking about how we are thankful for jesus or anything like that. he just felt like it was the thing to do. and he was right.
the same statue of jesus is in the church building close to our new flat (where we will now go to church - it also doubles as a visitors’ centre). whenever we approach the building (which we have a few times this week for various events), moses gets so excited, points eagerly at the statue and makes a “sssss” sound, which is how he says “jesus” these days.
i’m grateful for the reminders my tiny son gives me that jesus is real, and that we love him, and that we should thank him.

happy wednesday! life is beautiful!