Tag Archives: family

Menorca, Spain

I had to turn the heat on in my house today because it was so cold I couldn’t feel the tip of my nose.  While I waited for the radiators to heat up so I could lean against them and get warm, I flipped through the photo album from our summer trip to Menorca. 

Beaches and sunshine — even just in photos  — made me warmer.

Menorca is an island off the coast of Spain, the less-well-known sister to Ibiza and Mallorca. 

Quaint and relaxed and pristine, this was one of the most ruggedly beautiful places we’ve been. 

With a pool in the back yard of our fantastic Airbnb and two beaches within a five-minute walk from our house, this quick 4-day trip was all about relaxation. 

But because we can’t sit still for four straight days, it was also about kayaking and snorkeling and catamaran trips.

We sailed around the island on a big catamaran, jumped off the boat and explored hidden coves, fed the seagulls and the fish. 

My children took turns steering the boat.

The kids had never been snorkeling before, but we bought everyone fins and masks before the trip and they took to it, well, like fish to water. 

Fearless and curious, they swam around the coves and beaches in shallow pools and in water 20+ feet deep, searching out cool fish and crazy rock formations. 

A little octopus, maybe a foot across stretched out tentacle-to-tentacle made an appearance at the beach one day, wrapping himself around Matt’s shin to announce his presence, and for twenty minutes we all followed him and his swirling progress across the ocean floor, just amazed and mesmerized.

White sandy beaches surrounded by rocky cliffs.  Crystal clear water and nothing but sunshine for days on end. 

All the seafood we could eat. 

We baked in the sunshine, read books on the beach, climbed the rocks, and swam in the sea.  

We threw ourselves into the Spanish lifestyle, eating dinner at 9PM. 

Not all of us made it to dessert every night.

Whenever it’s cold this winter, when it’s rainy and windy and raw and damp and the chill gets in my bones and I just can’t get warm, I’ll look back on this trip and remember the perfect sun and it will get me through.

Menorca was amazing.  You should go.

How Many Kids?

My babies_May 2010

I always wanted a lot of kids.  Before I HAD children, four was, in fact, my minimum number.  I really wanted five or six.

When Quinn was born though, my fourth baby in five and half years, I had been pregnant or nursing for what felt like forever.  I had had children every other year from 2004 through 2010.  And I just felt like that was it — I didn’t want to be pregnant or nursing anymore.  I wanted my body back.  I was done.  Matt agreed; I think he was even more done than I was.  We took care of things so that we wouldn’t get pregnant anymore.

age 6

Then Quinn turned one and my baby fever kicked back in and I decided we had made a terrible, terrible mistake.  We should definitely have had ONE MORE child.  And I was sure that this time, it would definitely be another girl.  Just as sure as I had been with my previous three pregnancies, all of which resulted in boys.  Matt had anticipated this, apparently, knowing that when each of our kids had hit their first birthday, I decided it was time for another one.  He knew my change of heart was coming, and he helped me work through it.  It wasn’t a fast process, though.  To be honest, it took me about a year and half to finally accept it and no longer feel a deep sense of regret.  It was about the time that Quinn was potty-trained when I felt, at last, like I was okay with really being done.


I think it was the realization that after eight years and three months of diapers, I was finished.  A weight was lifted and we moved into new parenting territory; we had no more “babies” then.  After that, I was good with no more children and I haven’t looked back. 

Nov 084

I love having four kids.  I love the noise and the chaos, the million pairs of shoes by the door, the endless laundry and the never-ending cooking, and the giant cars we have to buy so we can all fit in.  I really do, even if I complain about it.

G sledding

I always knew I wanted a big family, but once I started having kids, I changed my mind about exactly HOW big. 

How many kids do you have?  Are you happy with your family size?  Are you done having kids? Did it turn out the way you expected?  I’d love to hear.


The hardest thing — in fact, one of the only real downsides to living in England — is how far away we are from our families.  We miss them.  A lot.

Matt’s parents came to visit in October and it was so great.  Although we did lots of tourist-y things, we also just hung at the house a lot and enjoyed some time together.  We played dominoes and the kids and their grandparents did the entire Harry Potter movie marathon — all eight movies — over the course of the week.  Big events are fun, but the down time is even better.


My parents are coming tomorrow and will be here for Christmas and we are all so excited.  We have plans, again, to do some sight-seeing and touring a bit, but I’m also just looking forward to hanging out and playing cards.  The only thing that could make it better would be if my sisters and their husbands and kids were here too.

I hope you all have your favorite people by your side over the holidays, whoever they are, and you just soak up every minute of it.

Also, this was our last visit with my sister and her kids, and here’s my thoughts on what’s really important.


Lions and Tigers and Bears and Airplanes and Fossils

IMG_4310Before we made our big move, way back when we still lived in DC, my parents, one sister, and my nephews and niece came to visit us. It was a last-cousins-hurrah before we headed overseas, and it was awesome.


Literally my two favorite girls in the whole world.

We spent that weekend hitting my top three recommended places to go with kids in Washington D.C.: a day on the National Mall, checking out monuments and memorials, a visit to a few of the Smithsonian museums, and another day at the Zoo, checking out lions, and tigers, and bears.  That’s a good weekend right there.

IMG_4303 You can also just put “seeing my parents and sisters enough” right at the top of my list of things I don’t get to do enough, so a weekend with my family always makes me smile. IMG_4315 We drove downtown and managed to find parking, which is always a fun challenge, but it’s definitely easier than schlepping seven children on the Metro.  And then we just walked.  The kids ran, and jumped, and climbed, and skipped, and played. 

IMG_4324We saw the Washington Monument, walked past the White House, stopped to relax and cool off at the WWII Memorial, and then headed back toward the Capitol Building and the air conditioned Smithsonian Museums.

IMG_4325Obvi, though, we got ice cream first.

My personal favorite Smithsonian museum is Natural History.  Even with the dinosaur exhibit closed, it’s still the coolest.  There’s an exhibit on the lower level called Qrious! that we just love. 

IMG_4343Full of fossils and specimens of plants, animals, and bugs, you can touch and handle and learn about it all in a completely hands-on way. 

IMG_4336Everyone from my 3-yr old niece up through my Dad was engaged and interested. 

IMG_4340 My 6-yr old nephew who wants to be an archaeologist or a paleontologist was just entranced; he spent half the time pretending HE was the scientist who’d found the specimens we were looking at, and telling us all about what we were seeing. I highly recommend checking out the Qrious! exhibit if you go to the Natural History museum — it’s one of my top DC-with-kids suggestions.

IMG_4346We also went to the Air and Space museum, which was so much more interesting than I remembered!  We hadn’t been in years, but I was so glad we went back.  I remembered it as very technical and kind of boring, but it completely wasn’t — there were so many interesting exhibits, AND we took the kids on a flight simulator ride, which was just so fun.  

The next day we went to the National Zoo, which is one of my very favorite things to do in DC.  It was cool and a little rainy, but not enough to make it miserable — just enough to make it NOT crowded and not too hot.

IMG_4374We saw all our favorite animals, and quite a few that were surprising.  The Komodo Dragon took us all aback when we realized that it was not, in fact, a fallen tree trunk, but a ginormous lizard who had earned the name “dragon” quite honestly.

IMG_4377We roared at the lions and watched the pandas nap.  We marveled at the elephants.  We ate a picnic lunch, and, naturally, more ice cream.

IMG_4370 We filled that cousins weekend up with memories and adventures and laughter and hugs, picnics and ice cream and miles and miles of walking.  We ended the days with children snuggled together watching movies on the couch and grown-ups playing card games at the kitchen table: the best kind of weekend there is.

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