Tag Archives: celebrate

New Beginnings

A year in time is both vast and tiny. I can’t say the past twelve months were entirely good, but neither were they fully bad.  No year is ever all one thing, so to try to sum one up with weak generalities is futile.  That doesn’t mean I won’t try, though.

Truth be told, I love any excuse to analyze what we’ve done and plan ahead for what we’ll do.  And there’s nothing quite as effective at making you reflect on the past than the future looming ahead with blinking neon lights to mark the passage of time. 

I’ve been angrier in 2017 than I remember being at any other time in my life.  I’ve been filled to the brim with rage at the state of the world and the state of my country and the willingness of everyday people to let bad things happen.  But I’ve also been engaged and excited and hopeful and it’s made me remember that it’s important to look at the world outside my own home and interact with it and that it’s my job as a human to be involved in humanity.  I’m grateful for the lesson even if I don’t love the way it was delivered.

It was a year in which I found an old version of myself buried inside and let her out.  She argues more and is less likely to be quiet just to keep the peace than the me that developed over the last decade of contentment and motherhood, but she’s more authentic. 

It was a year in which I remembered priorities I had forgotten.

I’ve watched my children grow and change too.  They also have a new perspective on the larger world and politics and their role in it all.  I don’t regret that for a minute. In fact, I’m grateful for it, because their future involvement in the world around them is being shaped right now and I doubt this is a lesson they’ll forget.  We’ll all move into 2018 with a newfound sense of the importance of being a participant. 

So, while in many ways 2017 was just an awful, terrible, horrible year (politically, globally), it was also a year with beauty and happiness and adventure and love (personally). 

We spent another year in England – our last full calendar year here.  We settled ever more into our lives here, but, strangely, always with an eye on the fact that it couldn’t be permanent.  As we’ve made more and more friends and connections within England, we’ve also said goodbye to American friends we made here who have gone back to different corners of the U.S., their own English adventures over.  Those goodbyes only served to highlight the truth that this is some sort of crazy three year vacation we’re on and that the end is, sadly, nigh.

As ever though, we’ve worked to ensure that our grand adventure is not wasted, although I think the pace of our travels has slowed as our involvement in our local life has increased.  We skied in the French Alps, trekked across Ireland with my parents and Austria & Germany with Matt’s, explored Normandy, and lounged on the beaches of Menorca.  We traveled back to the U.S. twice in six weeks in August/September and visited friends and family that we miss and saw my baby sister get married.

We’re looking ahead to a year of even bigger changes.  We’ll move back to America in the summer, but not to the house my kids all know as home.  Not even to the same state. Instead we’re heading to Massachusetts, to where I grew up.  We’re starting anew again as a family, but for me, I’m heading well and truly home.  No matter how sad I feel at the thought of saying goodbye to the adventures we had in England and to the life we built from scratch in Virginia, none of that overrides the joy I feel when I think about going home. 

My biggest challenge in 2018, I think will be to give the first six months it’s fair share of attention.  My tendency to live in the future is one I’m already trying to overcome; I want to be present and enjoy our last few months in England, but my brain keeps skipping ahead. The football and hockey and cricket matches and the school play and the day-to-day will help me, I’m sure.  The kids see six months as a lifetime away, so I’m trying to look at the days from their point of view.

My resolution then for 2018 is to try to enjoy each day and week as it comes instead of looking too far ahead. 

The new year is, as always, just a symbol – there’s no real difference in the turning over of the clock on December 31st than there is any other day of the year.  But symbolism is important.  I need that kick in the pants to wake me up, to force me to examine what is important and to help me determine where I should focus my attention.

I hope you’re saying goodbye to 2017 with some sense of peace and happiness and looking ahead to 2018 with more of the same.

Happy New Year!



For the third year in a row, Matt is on a business trip during the first week of December.  I know this because this is the third year in a row that he’s been gone on our anniversary.  Honestly, it’s not like we’d be doing anything exciting on a Tuesday night in early December, so it’s not really a big deal.  But eventually it would be nice to see him in person on this day just so I can tell him to his face how glad I am to be married to him.

This is our 13th anniversary.  And I’m really, really happy to report that he’s still the person I most want to hang out with, whose opinion I seek first on every subject and whose thoughts matter most to me, whose presence makes me happiest and absence is felt the sharpest.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: my early 20’s weren’t my best decision-making years, but I definitely, absolutely got this one right.  Marrying Matt was my best decision ever.

I will not lie, though, marriage is not an easy state of being.  It’s a constant — and I mean never-ending — process of compromising and prioritizing and listening and appreciating and adapting.  I am not the same person I was 13 years ago; I have grown up and changed and evolved as my life has moved through different phases.  And Matt has changed as well.  It’s not hard to see how we could have changed in ways that made us less likely to agree and less inclined to want the same things.  But I think we’ve worked hard, often without even knowing we were doing it, to make sure we kept our priorities in line with one another.  I think we’ve kept an important focus: that what makes the other person happy is good and important and vital.  As long as we’re both always working to make the other happy, we will each be happy, too — because someone else is always working to make that so.

So today, even though he’s thousands of miles away, I’m celebrating 13 years of the best decision I ever made and looking forward to spending the rest of my life working hard to make Matt happy, just the way he makes me happy, every single day.

Also, our first 10th anniversary, and our second 10th anniversary.


Matt’s Birthday


We’ve got a steady string of birthdays in our house this time of year and sometimes I feel like Matt’s gets lost in the shuffle of the kids’ birthdays surrounding his.  Friday was his birthday, though, and I want to make sure I don’t completely ignore it when he most certainly deserves some attention and celebration!

I got lucky when I married him.  We balance each other out and he’s still, always and forever, the person I want to spend all my time with.  He’s the reason we’re able to go on adventures, both big and small.  He’s the reason my kids are good athletes and fierce competitors.  He sets the bar high, and honestly, he looks good doing it.


“Reliable” isn’t exactly the most romantic of adjectives, but it should be.  Reliability is hot.  When Matt says he will do something, I know he will.  I know I can count on him.  Other people know they can count on him.  He doesn’t ever, ever let me down.  That’s more important than most other personality traits, and it makes me love him more every day, even if it does sound boring.


We had a quiet day celebrating him on Friday, and a fun weekend full of friends, sports, and football on Sunday.  Basically all Matt’s favorite things.

So even though I am a few days late, happy birthday to my favorite person.  XOXO

Also, last year was the big one!



The Ocho


If I said I can’t believe you’re already eight years old, I’d be lying.  The truth is, I can hardly believe you’re only eight.  Somehow, my blonde-haired boy, your eight years have seemed to stretch out and bend the space-time continuum so that I cannot imagine what our lives were like before you and I cannot imagine a life without your quiet presence in it.


You are the silent type.  Except when you’re not, and then you’re the opposite-of-silent-type and you never stop talking.  I generally know when you start chitter-chattering that you’re tired and heading into what we call Owen’s “Shark Mode”, wherein you don’t stop moving or talking for even a second because if you do, you’ll fall asleep.  Shark Mode is always interesting, and generally exhausting.

Your snaggle-toothed grin has changed a lot in the last year.  Looking at the pictures of you from last summer, I’m astounded at how much you’ve grown up.  I believe that all our new experiences have played a big part in that; you’re a man of the world now.  You travel.  You know lots of new things and new places. 

Owen in Florence

You’ve made new friends and picked up a new accent which you don’t even realize you’re using when I pick you up from school, and which you immediately switch off if anyone draws attention to it.  You became the first person in our little family to wear glasses, when, after announcing to the doctor in your physical that your left eye “doesn’t really work” (a fact of which I was blissfully unaware), you proved that to be true in two eye exams.  You picked out some sweet Clark Kent-esque black frames and you’re looking pretty cool in them.  Knock on wood, you’ve had the glasses three weeks and haven’t lost them yet.  You’ve grown up a lot.

Owen is Eight

When we moved, you were the child for whom I harbored the greatest concerns.  You don’t tend to talk in a crowd and you’re shy and reserved, especially around adults you don’t know well.  You’ve always generally relied on your older brother to be the grease in your social situations, allowing you to slide along in his wake and make friends by default.  But moving here, your teachers wouldn’t know you by association as all your previous teachers had.  The kids wouldn’t know that eventually you’d talk, and I hoped so hard that you would be okay making friends on your own without your gregarious older brother to assist you at all times.  Man, did you prove me wrong.  You HAVE made your mark, and you’ve done it on your own.  I am so, so proud of you because I know it’s not always the easiest thing for you.  You did it, though, and did it well. 

Owen in Capri

At the beginning of the school year, you, who has generally always been somewhat bored and uninterested in school, were faced with challenges wholly unfamiliar and new.  Your teachers here required far, far greater attention to detail than ever before.  Your handwriting was inspected and found wanting and you were instructed to practice and improve it.  I think you were a bit shocked, to be honest.  Not because what you were doing wasn’t quite good enough, but because you were expected to make it better.  As you always do when challenged to improve something, you (somewhat obsessively) practiced writing your letters.  Your handwriting is quite lovely now.  I will remain forever grateful to your teachers for establishing a high standard and then making you actually reach for it.

matt and kids in st peters sq

Along the same vein, your father and I were also told in our first parent-teacher conference that although you were obviously quite capable of achieving high marks in school, you were really not putting your best effort out: you rushed through assignments, didn’t always read the directions fully, and often did the bare minimum required.  This would not do, your teachers said.  You’d have to pay more attention to details, take your time, and hand in your best work on each assignment.  Although neither your Dad nor I were surprised, I will admit that I felt a bit at a loss.  Getting you to do something well when you’re not super-interested in it has always been a battle. 

B O Q at Eiffel

But, somehow, maybe the new environment in the school or a developmental maturity that you finally reached or the pressure put on you by your siblings attaining high marks, about 2/3 of the way through the school year, something clicked in you.  Suddenly you were spending time making sure your assignments were neat and detailed.  You colored in pictures with an attention to detail I’d never seen you use.  You completed “extension” assignments without being reminded and did them well.  You were engaged and interested in school work and it was like the clouds parted and the sun shone and angels sang, so great was my relief and excitement.  Your teachers remarked on it, your dad and I noticed it, and your report card certainly reflected it.  Whatever happened, you seem to have turned a corner and I am so proud of how hard you worked.  Please, please keep it up!

3 Kim boys

You have thrived in this new school environment in non-academic ways too; in fact, the set-up of the school seems designed with kids like you specifically in mind.  There’s so much activity built into your weeks and you have full classes devoted solely to sports!  You swim every other week during school AND you have P.E. class AND you have random sporting events like cross-country races and soccer matches popping up in every term!  There’s no time to get bored and you rarely have to sit for more than an hour at a time, ever.  

O cross country

As you always have, you did apply yourself fully to being the best athlete you can be.  You made the A-team in soccer, were the only kid in your year to make the cross-country team (actually beating your older brother in the tryouts to his absolute dismay) and you also made the A-teams in hockey and cricket, too.  You absolutely ROCKED it on school Sports Day, coming in second in the 50-meter race, 4th in the 100-meter race, first in the 800-meter race (by quite a distance, actually), and first in the cricket ball throw, breaking a ten-year old school record by 2 full meters — a considerable margin.  Your obvious joy when you compete in athletics is just uplifting.  No matter what the sport is, I love watching you play.

cricket O and G

The discovery of your love for running has been an interesting development.  You literally LOVE running.  You will run short or long distances.  You run fast, the whole time.  Sometimes, as you’re running, you throw in a few skipping steps, but you never seem to tire.  You ask me to please go for a run with you, and so I do it, but you are definitely the rabbit and I spend the whole time telling you to keep going as long as you can still see me in your rear view.  It’s a great thing for you, my child who is always full to the very brim with energy.  And we’d never really have realized how much you enjoy it were it not for the cross country and track programs at your new school.  I hope you always keep running; you look, as you go, like you’re at peace with the world.

owen running

You, my friend, continue to challenge me as a mother.  You can be the most loving and attentive child or the most stubborn and taciturn child, depending on the day.  You keep me on my toes, always.  But as you’ve gotten older and more mature, the lovey days outnumber the grumpy days. It’s a nice thing.  I want you to know, though, that I am grateful for the challenging days too, because they make me work to get better at this parenting gig.  And they definitely make me appreciate the lovey days even more.

mom and O

And so, as we go into this year — the Ocho — I only hope you continue on the path you’re on.  May the year of being eight be as amazing as you are.  I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.  Happy birthday to you, my little blonde baby.  

Also, here’s my note to seven year old Owen and six year old Owen.

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