33.

It’s Andy’s first Halloween! We hadn’t thought much at all about what to do for Halloween, but then Kelvin said this morning that we shouldn’t waste the opportunity to dress him up! So naturally I consulted google images for easy diy baby costumes. This is what we came up with. 

  
It always cracks me up to hear what some kids will say when they come to the door. A little boy came dressed up in a Spider-Man costume and this conversation ensued:

Me: (as I’m handing him candy) Here you go, Spider-Man!

Little boy: (to his mom) Mommy she knows my name!

Later on in the evening as I opened the door to two older boys, this gem came out:

Boy: Oh, hey Kelvin.

Yup, a high schooler that Kelvin knows saw him sitting at our kitchen island. Hilarious. 

As for the past few days, it’s been pretty rainy. Plus Andy and I are both sick (including some wicked stomach flu on my part). So there has been a lot of indoor time. A lot of this time is spent (on Andy’s part) with this soccer ball. 

  

Early on this week, Andy and I headed to Toronto to visit my high school friend who had her baby just a month after I had Andy! We had dim sum, which neither of us can really get where we live (she lives in Utah). We also visited my brother-in-law in his new slice of sky. And we went to ikea. 

Biggest news of the week: Andy can now pick up Cheerios! His fine motor skills are really getting there!

  
It is such a joy to watch. 

Note, however, that he can only bring it to his mouth on the rarest of occasions. And he has yet to master letting go of said cheerio so that it ends up in his mouth.

He also got to eat spaghetti and meatballs this week. On the night that I couldn’t because of my flu. Lucky guy. 

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London, England

This post is long overdue. It’s been two weeks since we got back from Europe, and with no written journal to recount our days, I will have to rely on my increasingly poor memory to complete this entry.

Let me start off by saying I love London. If not for this city, I would likely not be alive. Literally. My parents met while studying at the University of London, and I will have you know that on our trip back in 2007, they essentially walked us through their college years. Right down to where my dad would park his motorcycle when they went to Chinatown.  
We flew easyjet from Barcelona to London. There is definitely no shortage of cheap cross-Europe airlines, but my mom recommended it to us. They kill you with checked bag fees, but alas, ’tis life.  We paid for two checked bags when we really only needed one (I didn’t want to run the risk of having to pay more for the bag at the airport). Oh well. We know now for next time.


While we were in town, we stayed at this AirBnB on Sloane Avenue. The location was perfect – short walk to either South Ken tube station or Sloane Square and a Sainsbury just across the street. We loved having a home base from which to enjoy the sights, and the biggest plus was having our own bedroom separate from Andy.

What to See

We took Gatwick Express from the airport to Central London, and with that we were able to access the London 2FOR1 deals. Buy one get one free for certain admissions and food across the city. That was amazing. One place we visited with the deal was the London Transport Museum. Kelvin and I love taking transit whenever we travel, so this place was a dream. We only had 45 minutes to explore, since we got to the Covent Garden area so late, but what we did see was awesome! It was amazing to see how transportation has changed since the beginning of the city’s development, and we loved all the Transport for London paraphernalia! We may or may not have spent a really long time perusing the store afterwards to find the right poster to take home as a souvenir…

Also with the London 2FOR1 deals, we visited the Globe Theatre. I’ve actually been here three times, and this is the first time we were able to go inside and see it! They often have afternoon shows, so if you want to take the tour, I’d definitely try to make it to Southwark in the morning. We took the tube to Blackfriars and then walked across Millennium Bridge to get here. We really enjoyed this tour and I would highly recommend this whether you like Shakespeare or not. We had a super awesome tour guide and I learned so much about the context of Shakespeare’s plays and audience! If Andy was older, I think we would have opted to come back for a performance. Favourite fun fact: Fainting is a regular occurrence at their shows.

One thing that is amazing about London is that so many museums are free. Our favourite one would probably be the Natural History Museum, which we went to on Saturday morning before the lines got too crazy. The dinosaurs exhibit was packed, but it paled in comparison with the dinosaur collections at the ROM or at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. What was awesome was the new Darwin Centre – a space where visitors were able to see firsthand the work that happens behind the scenes at the museum. Everything from the labs to the specimen collections. Having done his degree in biology, this was probably Kelvin’s sightseeing highlight. He lingered at every stop, and it just seemed like everything resonated with him. What a fanboy.

London is also a place for just strolling and exploring. We walked through our share of Royal Parks. We saw Buckingham Palace. We made our way up and down Regent Street and into department stores (we were commissioned by my in-laws to locate some Magnum chocolate, which we found at Selfridges). We enjoyed the buskers at Covent Garden. We ventured all the way out to Canary Wharf and to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

(Side note: Going to the theatre is highly recommended as well – we just didn’t get a chance to this time around. Next time!)

Where to Eat

London is an amazing place to eat, but I’m just going to highlight our two favourites. The first was our Friday lunch at Borough Market. The market is London’s oldest, and the selection is just mindblowing. We ate from half a dozen different stands. Burgers, pasta, baked goods, sausage, shawarma…whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here. My suggestion? Scope out your options beforehand – don’t just jump at the first thing you see. Kelvin and I split up when we got to the market and when we reunited (thank goodness we found each other…we didn’t have each other’s UK cell numbers and our iMessages weren’t working…and the market is a labyrinth) all he could say was that he kept seeing people with burgers and he wanted one. This will happen to you with more than one dish, I promise. We bought a venison burger at this one stall and it was delicious.

Hands down our favourite meal on this trip was at Dishoom. They have multiple locations, but we went to the one near Covent Garden (can you tell that we were around Covent Garden a lot?). Kelvin and I love Indian food and this was well worth the 75 minute wait. Or it might have been 90 minutes… The atmosphere was electric and the food was exquisite. Andy also fell asleep partway through the meal, so it made our experience that much more enjoyable. You can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu, but you must get the calamari. You will not regret it. And have the chai.  

One of the nice things about visiting London is seeing family. My dad’s sister and her family are still in the UK, so we met them in Chinatown for dim sum. It was really nice to wrap up our European getaway by sharing a meal with them. Plus we got to meet my cousin’s little toddler, who we were told was so excited to meet her cousin (Andy) that she couldn’t sleep! I don’t know that Andy lived up to her expectations, though. She barely talked to him the whole meal! Maybe she didn’t realize that he would be a baby. And that he wouldn’t be able to talk…

And there you have it, London in a nutshell. Until next time, London…

Taking it all in

I came across this post today about one mother’s tendency to wish her baby grew up faster. I am definitely guilty of this. Even while on our trip to Europe, I found myself dreaming about what travel would be like once Kelvin and I were on our own again.

In particular, this quote stood out:

When my daughter was under 6 months old, I found myself wishing for time to speed up, for things to get easier, to have a little more predictability. And once that mantra was in my head, it stayed put. Hurry up and crawl, hurry up and walk, hurry up and talk, hurry up and wean. Anything to make it a little less difficult, more interesting, less time-consuming.

Andy is still young enough that I’m not looking back and regretting the moments I missed. I am thankful for this reminder.

Here’s to making the most of his childhood and soaking it in. Every single day of it.

32.

So much motoring around this week! Mostly for this things that roll. 

  
Also, I looked back at the baby book I made for Andy before he was born. I have been TERRIBLE with keeping up with it. As in, I’ve neglected to record half his milestones. #momfail

I was going to preemptively create something similar for our next child, but I think we will need to do something different because clearly this is not a good system. 

It’s been really chilly lately, and alas our little guy has succumbed to illness. It’s always the hardest thing when your baby is sick because you just want to make them feel better, but nothing you do provides any consolation. I think we’ve gone through half a box of tissues. Even though Andy absolutely hates it when we wipe his nose. 

Biggest news of the week, it’s our first milestone Homecoming reunion year! Crazy to think it’s already been five years since we graduated. So much has happened since then and huge waves of nostalgia hit when I look through old pictures. “Look at how young and impressionable we were!” I think to myself. But of course, a statement like that will hold so much more weight at our 25th reunion…or when we get inducted into the Tricolour Guard. The goal is to snag a spot on one of those Queen’s golf carts for the half-time parade. Maybe when I turn 80?

Anyways, we celebrated by heading to the homecoming game (sadly we were crushed) and by sharing food and fun times with some lovely folks who came to visit!  

 

 If Andy decides to go to Queen’s, he will be the class of 2037 😳

31.

While in Europe, Andy made his way into our bed every night. It was glorious to once more have our bed to ourselves. Plus I think he sleeps better when he has his own space. In fact, I woke up one morning to a view of him side planking in the monitor. It was pretty hilarious. 

Lately, Andy’s big fascination has been with tags. Tags on clothes, tags on his toys, things that resemble tags on anything we happen to leave around… Imagine what it was like when we gave him the little sheep he got when he was a baby that was FULL of tags? (For the record, he was really overwhelmed and decided eating the sheep might help to relieve some of the overstimulation). 

He continues to love this IKEA toy that he’s had for a while.   
When he was a baby, he could only lie underneath and flail his arms randomly, occasionally hitting those little wheels on the side and causing them to turn. As he got older, he managed to graze the hanging toys with the tips of his fingers. Then his arms got long enough to actually play with the toys, at which point he decided he wanted to use them to pull himself up. Now he just sits in front of it and alternates which toy he puts in his mouth. 

He’s also gotten better at playing by himself. 

 
And we’ve started him on meat! Though apparently we should have done this right when we introduced him to solids. My bad. He wasn’t too keen at first, but then he decided it was okay. He also takes his sweet time while eating. What used to take us 10 minutes now takes a full half hour. 

  
Now that he’s more active when he eats, we are constantly having to wipe his hands (or restrain them) during meals, less he smear whatever he has in his mouth all over his face. The worst is when he is also tired, and proceeds to rub his eyes with those hands that have food all over them. Yeah, not pretty. 

Good Reads

I recently started reading Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance. It is absolutely hilarious. And it is (mostly) true to his voice too. You can hear him say “Duuuude” and “Oh (expletive).” in that way that he would say it. Plus it’s a really interesting perspective on the way we go about finding and maintaining relationships in today’s day and age. I’m only 50 pages in, but already I would recommend it. 

I also recently read Sarah Jio’s Goodnight June, a fictional backstory on the inspiration for the famous children’s book Goodnight Moon. I discovered Jio when I visited the library a few months ago and stumbled upon her book The Look of Love. It was a weirdly cheesy book, but I couldn’t stop reading it. Then I wanted more. I will be back to the library soon to get more of her books. She is currently my favourite. 

On the boards: Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. 

The Beauty of the Spanish Seaside

So after our two nights in Barcelona, we headed southwest a short distance along the Spanish coast to attend the wedding of some friends from university (our first transatlantic destination wedding!). Navigating the renfe website prior to this was a total nightmare, plus you can’t book tickets ahead of time for every ride, so we opted just to go to Barcelona-Sants and buy our tickets in person. For less than 9€ each, we were on our way to Altafulla-Tamarit. 

It took us about an hour to get there, and about halfway in, it dawned on us that we were in for a beautiful time. The city gave way to the sea, and the train wove in and out of mountains and valleys. I wish I could have take pictures, but alas I was nursing Andy for the majority of the trip. After arriving at Altafulla-Tamarit station, we walked the few minutes to our hotel. And what a beautiful hotel it was. We had a view of the courtyard, and had it been a tad warmer (or had the pool been heated), we would have plunged in for a dip that afternoon. 

  

Instead, we decided to walk down to the beach, to Carrer Botigues de Mar, for a leisurely stroll towards Tamarit. 

 

The walk reminded us of our time in Newport Beach, except that it was off season so not many of the villas were rented. We headed to the end of the beach before turning around and strolling back. We visited Villa Romana dels Munts (well, we walked up a hill to a dead end street where we could see it all) and then enjoyed a wonderful beachside dinner with the other guest of the wedding. 
The next morning, we decided to visit Tarragona and see some of its sights. We took a ridiculously expensive taxi ride to Pont del Diable, a Roman aqueduct a short distance north of Tarragona. It was amazing to see the architectural feat they accomplished…

 …and even to be able to walk across it!
  
To save ourselves some money, we decided to take the bus back into town. It was actually really easy – we took the 85 (you could also take the 5) bus from right off the highway and it wound its way through Sant Salvador back into Tarragona. And it cost us less than 2€ each. We saw the Mediterranean Balcony, their version of Las Ramblas, and the beautiful Roman amphitheatre they’ve preserved. The city is absolutely stunning, and had we had more time, we definitely would have wanted to see more. 

    

And this brings us to the real reason we came to Europe – the wedding! The whole occasion took place at the beautiful Castell de Tamarit, and MAN were we blown away. 

 
I mean, look at that ceremony venue! Does it get any more perfect? (I will have you know that that pool is strictly for looks. We asked repeatedly whether swimming was permitted, and much to the dismay of some guests, it was not.) 

There were a number of little courtyards and spaces (and come to think of it, we never actually stepped into the castle itself) that we got to enjoy while eating more than a dozen hors d’oeuvres. Below the cliffs and walls, people lounged on the public beach, which beckoned to us. 

  
Looking up, the castle was just stunning.    

The dinner venue was no less magical. 

 At the end of the night, we were pooped, but also filled with the beauty of the people and environment that we were surrounded by. 

The next morning, reluctantly, we packed up our things and headed back on the train to Barcelona. Once more, we whizzed by the seaside, surrounded by many more people this time. Old ladies on their way into the city, students heading to another town for class, businessmen presumably going to work or catching a flight. 

Arriving back into Sants, we took another train to the airport, and after a two hour delay (thank you, French air controller strike), we were on or way to London. 

30.

Has it been 30 weeks already??

I’m going to keep this post short, as it is almost midnight here in London and my head has already hit my pillow (yes I know it’s terrible, but we both bring our phones into bed). The past week has been wonderful, though Andy’s sleep routine has been atrocious. We are loving spending time in Europe and the more we see in London, the more excited we are for when Andy is bigger and able to actually understand what he is seeing. We went to the natural history museum today and Kelvin and I kept talking about how cool it would be if Andy loved science. 

There are times when Andy is super squirmy or when he cries so hard it sounds like he’s yelling. That happened on the tube yesterday and it was not pretty. All in all, though, good times. 

Here are some pictures from around London. 

  

  

  

Barcelona, Spain

Hola from Spain! So I’ve attempted to finish this post about Barcelona on a number of occasions, and alas here I am, writing it as I wait at the airport for our flight to London, which has been delayed. A post on the second half of our Spain leg will have to wait. 

First off, let me just put it out there. Whenever you tell someone that you’re going to Barcelona, the thing that most often comes up is a story about one pickpocket experience or another. Thankfully, the policia has ramped up their security around the city, especially in places like La Ramblas. We’ve been pretty vigilant and my parents let us borrow their pacsafe backpack, so all has been well!

All that aside, Barcelona is truly a beautiful city and we’ve really enjoyed getting to know it over the last two days. We took a red eye flight (such a good idea – Andy slept really well) and arrived into the airport around 12:30 on Sunday. After no more than two words with the customs officer, we were released into Spain and all its glory. 

  
On our first day, we were a little lacking in sleep (good movies on the plane get us every time…) so we didn’t stay out too late. However, we did manage to get in a pedicab tour of the old city (loved meandering through narrow streets and into the Parc de la Ciutadella), a quick pop in to see the ruins at El Born, and some dinner. It was also a Sunday, so pretty much everything was closed anyways. 

 

We stayed at Le Meridien right on Las Ramblas, which was a perfect home base for us as we explored the city. Its proximity to Placa de Catalunya was perfect, and though we’d never stayed there before, it had an SPG familiarity that we have come to look for whenever we travel. 

Andy is a huge hit everywhere we go. He is not shy at all and he smiles at everyone who engages him (and for those who don’t engage him, he takes the initiative). On the bus turistic, he made friends with the other passengers, and when he wasn’t doing that, he tried to eat all the handholds (gross). 

  
Undoubtedly, having spent only one full day in Barcelona, we were able to see but a little portion of the city, but here are a few of the highlights from our trip so far.

Eat

bacoa universitat – just a few steps from Placa de Catalunya, this burger bar has a very North American feel to it, but with the most delicious burgers ever. Highly recommend the one with manchego cheese and caramelised onions!

Carmelitas – best tapas ever. We ordered all these seafood tapas and every single one was delicious. So was their tiramisu. If we had discovered this place earlier we may have had all our subsequent meals here. 

  

See

On our one full day, we opted for the hop on hop off (also purchased ahead of time online for 10% off) to bring us around to the sights. It was a beautiful day and we thoroughly enjoyed that open-air, rooftop seating. Plus if we sat in the right spot, we could see our stroller which needed to be stored on the main floor. They give you headphones for the onboard audio guide, through which you get more info about each of the places you’re passing. 

Sagrada Familia – I’d been here in 2007, but they’ve done quite a bit more work since then! We booked our tickets ahead of time (highly recommended) and opted not to get the audio guide. The entire structure awes you, and the way light is reflected into the cathedral is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Gaudi truly was a master architect inspired by nature. 

  
Montjuic – We paid for the teleferic (even with a 2€ discount it felt steep) and went for a walk at the top of the hill by the castle. We didn’t actually go into the castle, though one could for 5€/3€ (16-29 years. 

  
The best thing, really, is just walking around and enjoying the sights. There is so much to see and explore and so many little cafes that I wish I could while away my time in. Perhaps when we come to Spain next we will visit Port Vell and peruse some of the galleries and museums in the city. 

29.

We are en route to the airport! Our little family is heading to Europe for vacation and for a wedding and we are really excited! All three of us are battling different levels of illness but here’s hoping it won’t affect our plans too much. 

The week was a bit of a whirlwind, and between packing and poor sleep routines, not a whole ton got done. One big highlight, though: on Saturday, I completed one of my maternity leave goals – to host a community initiative

It’s crazy to think that we are now in October (though some would say it feels more like December right now). There are so many things we still want to do, like go to the corn maze, and pick apples, and eat pumpkin pie. Time is a-tickin’! By the time we return, October will be half over, and Andy will be seven months old!

Lately, he’s been really intrigued by cause and effect. He loves banging on the keyboard, rolling his little block cart around, and just this morning, he discovered that he could tip the laundry basket over. His fine motor skills are really developing, and he’s picked up this weird habit of looking intently at his right hand while he draws circles in the air with it. WEIRD. But all the weirdness aside, he is still as cute and sweet as ever. That’s something I need to remember when I am running on very little sleep and he is crying inconsolably. 

   

 
Oh, also, we bought Andy a hat from Roots. The same one that Kelvin has. And that I have. Now we can all match. It’ll be cute come winter. 

Alright, must try to keep Kelvin alert at the wheel with riveting conversation. Next week, we will be posting from London!