Posts filed under babies

No News Is Good News

I often get comments about how quickly I am on my feet and being productive after having a baby... and I always reply how easy it is to be when you have family in to help out, but to come find me in a few weeks and ask how we are doing.

Well, here we are, a few weeks later. And all I can say is: woof. Life with three is a new level of crazy, and we are peddling fast to catch up. We aren't there yet, and the lines under our eyes are starting to give us away.

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After a recent referall to the emergency room, they decided I didn't have a brain tumour, stroke or retinal detachment... just sever sleep deprivation. Ha! It's laughable now, but at the time, we were a bit on edge. (To say the least?) Turns out I need more than five hours a night, and I'm having to let a few balls drop in order to do that.

And the most obvious ball that has dropped? Keeping up with our bedroom. While blogging is typically a highlight of the prettiest parts of our days, I wanted to show a real view of our life with three small kids while both working full-time.

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So when people tell me they don't know how I do it all, now you know the truth- I don't! I've just kinda put up the white flag for now on keeping things in order in my room, cooking a few meals a week that double and triple for other lunches & dinners, and saying "no" to extraneous things than I'm usually comfortable with.

Oh... and let's not talk about the laundry room right now.

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I'm learning that there really aren't enough hours in the day, and that I've got to use the ones I have wisely. The hours of my waking day are the currency in which I'm living in and I need to make smart transactions.

And so far? Well, we're making it. We're keeping our head above water. We have each other, happy kids, jobs we love, and a God who has given us so much more than we deserve. 

But, yeah, I probably did need that shower this morning more than I'd like to admit.


Thanks for keeping up with our family as we grow and change. It's such a joy to share this with such nice people, and I love having this record of our life here to look back on.

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on October 4, 2017 and filed under babies, kids, babies kennedy.

Edie | One Month + An Official Welcome

One month old! Time flies when you’re… wiping buns. It’s been a great month. Edie is such a dream, and I just can’t stop kissing her… and, at times, also forgetting she is now part of our family. (Phrases like “Oh wait! Don’t forget the baby!” as we start to walk out the door to go somewhere seem far too common.)

I’ve shared this on my Facebook page, but in case you missed it- here’s a little video of Edie's arrival. I always feel like a huge dork getting out my camera to record moments that seem mundane… but I’m so glad I took the time to save a few of these. When they are knit together in this video, it makes a really special memory. I already love watching it and know that it will become something that makes me so teary in the yard to come.

Life is sweet with three. Granted- it’s crazy and unglamorous and what have you, but I can’t tell you how comfortable and cozy it feels to have a family of five.

Trying hard to our feet under us in a routine... but also, trying to enjoy the days of just being together and rolling with the days as they come.)  The kids have been so sweet with her, but the lack of a normal schedule, endless visitors and us being distracted is finally starting to show. Any advice on how to manage with the early days of adding a new baby to your family routines?



*images and video original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on August 9, 2017 and filed under babies, babies kennedy, home, kids, life, pregnancy.

PACK YOUR BAGS | An NHS Maternity Ward!

A few weeks ago, I started this post, planning to share it long before our new little lady made her entrance... but life had other plans! Here's a peak into my pre-Edie state of mind- and a few tips about what to bring to an NHS maternity ward.


Well, the time has come… I’ve officially hit the state of pregnancy where I feel compelled to bring my notes everywhere I go (a weird NHS thing I’m going to explain in an upcoming vlog!), plan a childcare schedule with friends in those “just in case she comes early” scenarios, actually put together the baby crib by our bed… and pack my bag for the hospital. At 36 weeks, my stomach feels more like I swallowed a squirrel with peg legs than the sweet bumps and flutters that once tapped around inside me. You can easily identify body parts: foot! bottom! back! The time is coming near, and I gotta get my act together.

So first things first… when you are headed to your third trip to the hospital, I’ve learned to focus more on what I’ll enjoy having post-hospital trip rather than those few days in there. You see, the first time around- I was shelling out cash on items that would be useful for those few days in the hospital without much care to beyond those walls. A cute hospital gown, fancy coming-home outfits that I paid way too much for, nice slippers to waddle around the hospital in, etc. This time, I’m putting that money into items that I can enjoy long after I get out of the hospital. So here we go… what’s going in my hospital bag to have a baby through the NHS in London.

I’m working alongside WAREMAKERS for this piece, as their very cool artisan-led company inspired me into putting this kind of post together. After all, there are tons of places I could go with gorgeous handmade-items… but something felt especially right about walking into the unknown of the birth of a baby as a big adventure. So while it’s just a London hospital, I always feel like I’m going into uncharted territory. 

If you’re looking to support a great company with a great mission, and hey- actually fantastic looking items!- WAREMAKERS is going to be right up your picturesque European alley. It took me one glance at their site to get their mission, love their cool aesthetic and become a big fan of the artists and brands they bring together. I have a feeling you’ll love what they are doing, too. (Especially, if you’re like me and have a weak spot for those If-George-Clooney-were-a-bag leather bags that just get better with age that you know will be with you on holidays for years to come.)


ONE | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE | Ten | eleven

HOSPITAL BAG | I think for my first delivery, I literally rolled into the hospital with my things in plastic shopping bags. Ha! But as you know, third times a charm or however the saying goes. I actually didn’t have a good overnight bag (all of ours seem to be enormous roller suitcases), so this time I got an actual bag to take with me. The bag is from La Portegna  which is an incredible brand handmade in Spain- but also with a store here in Marylebone! I’m excited to remember this as “my hospital bag,” but really excited to take it with me on other adventures outside of London, too. (Also, check out their company history for the wildest inspiration you’ve ever heard of. Spoiler: It involves an exotic gift from Hemingway.)

ROBE | I like having a robe to wear in the hospital, it kind of allows for covering up all the lumps and craziness happening underneath it… especially when you have friends come by to meet your baby. It somehow adds a bit more dignity to the moment… but I always buy a cheap robe that I won’t fall in love with for ever. This is for two reasons. First, they’re going to get trashed with so many… fluids. Sorry if that’s gross, but it’s true. Secondly, I always buy up a size or two, since I’ll be wearing it in weird-post-baby-still-have-a-bump time. I bought a cute, soft-touch robe here for £10… plus, it has a cute pattern to help create a diversion from my post-delivery stupor.

SLIPPERS | Speaking of slippers, I’m still buying some. Just some really cheap ones I can throw away the second I walk out of that hospital. You see, having an NHS baby means you share recovery rooms… and bathrooms. And I have to say, the bathroom I had after Harrison was born kind of traumatised me. Not because they weren’t clean and kept up… but maybe, the potpourri of 8-10 post-delivery women and all their output was too much. So slippers are needed to go around in the hospital, but I want nothing to do with taking anything that has touched those floors back into my home. Again, I buy cheap and simple ones like these.

SOCKS | While I do want to throw away the hospital slippers as soon as possible, I do think it’s nice to have splurge on some pretty socks to keep your feet covered while sitting around with a new baby/random hospital staff/etc, so this time I’ve got a hand-knit pair of wool socks from the English designer, Jules Hogan. (I actually think for what they are, they’re worth every penny. I can’t wait to take them to Iceland, too.) So yes, skimp on slippers, but spend on some socks that you’ll love to wear during your stay.

PAJAMAS | Now, I have to have a caesarean because of previous deliveries, so I’ll actually be given a gown to wear from the hospital, but if you are having a straight-forward delivery… you deliver in your own clothes! My friends have given birth in their husbands XXL t-shirts or bras… Obviously, these are clothes that they plan to get destroyed, so if you want to buy anything new- go cheap. (I typically do a Primark run before the hospital to get all of my hospital loungewear.) Again, don’t forget to buy up a size or two from your pre-baby size. You’ll be in weird territory between maternity and regular clothes for a few days, so some cheap items that you can easily loose after are nice.

BABY (HEAD) GEAR | I’m not sure why, but this surprised me the most: a hat for my baby. I suppose that because all US- born babies get the traditional striped-hat, I was expected the same when I gave birth here. But, no. You bring your own baby hat into the delivery room.  So yes, finding a cute hat is on my mind… and harder than you think. So many are enormous and I really want a small stretchy, jersey-like one. In the meantime, I've settled for these  but am still on the search via Etsy for something handmade. (Recommendations/hand-me-downs welcome.) We used a really sweet one of Tyler’s when he was a baby for when Harrison was born, but I’d like something a bit less boyish for this little girl. First-world problems, I know.

Do you need anything else for right after they are born? They do wrap them up in a little plain white blanket/towel after delivery- but you’ll need your own swaddles and clothes for them as soon as… well, you want them dressed. 

*Since I’ve had some crazy deliveries, can anyone else weigh in on what a “regular” delivery would call for? Do you give them their first diaper/nappie? The hospital has always put that on them for us after weighing/checking them… and they even put clothes on the girls in the NICU, which was sweet, but I know not standard. Any of your experiences would be so great to hear below in the comments!

Also, is now a good time to tell you- they don’t bathe your babies after delivery. They wipe them off (mostly) and then hand them over. They say all the gunk is really good for them, and that their skin will absorb it. (Which, I have to say- has been true of my babies… and neither really had cradle cap badly. Maybe God does know what he is doing afterall! Hey!) Did I read somewhere recently where this is becoming more common in the US, too?

NURSING BRAS & TANKS | First of all, I need to say: Welcome to the next year of your life. Go ahead and splurge on these, friends. They’re going to be on your body forever and ever from this point on. Want a tattoo? Maybe do a test run and see how you like wearing the same thing everyday (like a nursing bra!) for a year to see how you like the idea of permanency on your body. Also, the longer the nursing tank the better. These are pretty good and long!

ENTERTAINMENT | Maybe you get cable in American hospitals, but after you deliver in the NHS- you’re in a shared room with curtains separating you from other new moms. It’s a free system, so I can’t complain… but you can get real bored real quick. It’s good to bring your own forms of entertainment. Some people may brings books and small hobbies like knitting, but I’m planning on vegging out completely. I’ve already started downloading movies on my Netflix app and can’t wait to pop in my headphones and zone out. (These are things moms dream of when they have impending hospital stays, amiright?.) This amazing earbud case from the Danish company, Ham/Lerche, is so cool. This simple leather pouch keeps the tangled web of earphone tragedy from happening in my bag. Plus, it’s really nice leather that just looks cooler and cooler the longer it is around. 

On this note, don’t forget chargers of any sort that you may need…. And maybe bring a portable/battery one, if you have it? That way, if you get stuck in some random room waiting for a while, you aren’t stuck without an outlet? (Not sure this has ever happened to me before, but I’ll probably toss mine in this time just in case.)

WATER BOTTLE | I have to admit, I’m a bit jealous of the hospital swag that my friends/sisters get when they have a US-born baby… especially in the form of those giant water bottles., In the early days of nursing, when you have that obscene thirst dry up your entire body as you nurse, I always think of how nice it would be to have 835 oz of ice water next to me. But we don’t get them in the UK, and we don’t even have ice… so, you know, whatever. I have purchased a water bottle or two with each kid, and leave them upstairs and downstairs so that wherever I find myself perched- I have water nearby. Bring one to the hospital, because they’ll just bring by small jugs of water and styrofoam cups for you at random.

DISPOSABLES | If you thought the above text was glamorous, just wait until we dive in here. At a NHS hospital, you bring your own party favours… as in, your own breast pads, pads/diapers, underwear (in my case, the higher the better to avoid contact with the incision), and any other type of disposable item you may also end up needing to use at home- you bring of your own to the hospital, too. 

Oh, and of course- that doesn’t just stop for you. Don’t forget your baby! They’ll need newborn diapers and cotton balls/wipes. Just make it easy and do one giant shop for it all and have it delivered to your house around 34 weeks. I also buy all the baby shampoo, nappie cream, etc at this point, too.

REGULAR PACKING ITEMS | Now that you have all the other stuff you’ll have to have, don’t forget to pack the regular items that you’d spend the night away from home with: clothes (to come home in), toiletries, makeup, etc. I had my entire bag packed and then realised I hadn’t actually packed any clothes to come home in or my toothbrush. And on that note, don’t let your husband forget to pack those kind of items, too. They don’t offer beds to them, but they can sleep in the chairs, if they want… and most new dads do want to stick around and see the baby, I’ve learned. Better to have a few items to make their life better, too, with fresh contact solution, a toothbrush and a fresh shirt or two!

I am packing all of my essential makeup items (waterproof mascara, French face cream, toothbrush, deodorant, lipgloss that never goes away) in this pretty French linen pouch from Catherine Dang. I’ve been looking for a simple pouch to put in my backpack/travel bag for ages, and this is honestly such a great find: no obnoxious glitter words on top, great design with French linen and the perfect size for stashing in a slightly larger bag, and- to be candid- a much better price than the comparable “designer” ones I found with a similarly pretty aesthetic. 


There we go. I feel like that is a pretty honest breakdown of all the “essentials.” Having a baby is cute and amazing… but it’s not always glamourous. (Though, Tyler did used to work for a Dallas-based hospital system that served champagne & lobster to new mothers in their maternity unit, so maybe it actually IS in the US suburbs or in private healthcare!) I’m sure a few more items will make their way into my bag before we leave, but I’m not sure Nutrigrain bars and outdated bags of Cadbury eggs from Easter should make the official list.

I’m really grateful though for the opportunity have such amazing (and kind!) doctors take care of us. What we have learned is: if you have a straightforward pregnancy, you’ll find no frills care without a lot of handholding… because they know that this is a really natural process and the general checkpoints along the way will get you to having a healthy baby. But for people that need help and hand-holding (Hi!I I’m Lauren, and I’m traumatised by delivery!), you’ll get the help and care you need. Being a “bells & whistles” case is never the situation you want to find yourself in, but I can tell you- when you’re there, we’ve found that the staff will be some of the most attentive and gracious people. 

For more information, you can find a list that the NHS has provided on what to pack for you hospital bag here on their official site



*Images original to Aspiring Kennedy.

*This post was made in part by sponsorship from Waremakers.

A Tiny Surprise | Meet Edie.

Much to our surprise and delight, and nearly a month before her due date, we welcomed our daughter- Edith Brooke Knight- into the world on Sunday evening. 

What started as a weekend date night to celebrate an anniversary with friends and eat some pizza by the river, turned into timing contractions and coming in- "just in case" to the hospital that evening (with the hospital bag I had randomly and obsessively packed earlier that afternoon). Going into the hospital for a quick check then turned into 20 hours of contractions and, finally, an emergency caesarean when I finally started to dialate and she decided to start coming. 

Since all of this ended up happening before 37 weeks, the doctors wanted to hold off on delivery for as long as possible to allow her lungs to develop before they got her out. Luckily, steroid injections and slow-playing everything resulted in her needing no extra breathing support when she was born.... which made every single miserable contraction in the meantime worth it.

It was long, it was sudden, it was scary and also- it was totally fine and happy... but I think most people would look back on their deliveries with some same words. 

Either way, we're praising God that she's here and she's ours to keep.

Welcome, sweet Edie. 

 

Edith Brooke Knight | 9 July. 2017 | 17:24 | 6.46 lbs


Since we weren't planning on having a baby here so soon, life was moving on as normal the past few days. So much so, I made a video about what it's like to have a baby on the NHS in London on my last visit to have a regular appointment. Take a peek and you'll get a small glimpse into what the last 72 hours have been like for our family here at UCLH in London.

 



 

*images and video original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on July 11, 2017 and filed under babies, babies kennedy, kids, family.

Hyde Out.

Yesterday was full on.  Getting the kids to church on my own while Tyler went early for set-up, trekking across town to eat lunch with my students and a birthday party over Ben & Jerry's to follow- I was ready to get home, toss on some Disney and relax. The Sunday coma was setting in on my body. Tyler left after lunch for a meeting and I just had to single-handedly schlepp the stroller with both kids back to our flat to make my lazy afternoon dreams a reality.

Tyler texted me as I boarded the bus that he had my keys in his pocket and wouldn't be able to get them to me for 2.5 hours. At first, I was super annoyed ("You took my keys?!?! Bring them back right now. Your fault!"), but I didn't want to be that wife. Then I felt the wash of martyrdom coming over me ("Don't worry about it. I'll just take the kids myself all day and figure it out despite the fact I am SO tired and you really screwed me over, but its fine because I am so nice and will take care of it.") And just as I was resolved to settle in sainthood of being the poor stranded wife, my bus terminated along a random exit along Hyde Park. 

So there I was forced to walk a mile home to compound the craziness.... but instead, I turned in the park just as both kids were waking up from their bus-induced snoozes. I did my best to take off my princess hat (or is it a witch hat? They kinda look alike, don't they?) and be happy just being stuck outside with my kids. We wandered around the park and, soon enough, the annoying mishap became a great afternoon crunching leaves together. The day ended up being so much better in spite of the crappy detour... and it also got better when I decided to just let it go. Sometimes things are so busy that I have a hard time letting go of control and just going with the moment.

So why am I blogging about such a small part of a random day? I don't know. Maybe to save a pretty day with some cute photos for another day. Maybe to remind myself that things can be as good as I want them to be. Maybe to remind myself that small moments like that and how I respond to them reflects a lot about my heart. 

 

I wish I had a grand conclusion to there where I tell you that I've solved the problem and I no longer will respond poorly to things... but the truth is, I haven't and I still will. (Womp! Womp!) I'm trying though! Working on that (real) sanctification... and in the meantime, doing my best to keep silly things light-hearted.

Happy Monday! I hope that you don't get locked out today and that, if you do, you have a pretty place to help buffer the blow.

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

The Rest of the Story...

From the beginning of this pregnancy, Tyler & I have been going back and forth on what the baby "was." After we found out it was just one baby, we knew this pregnancy would be different than the last in a lot of ways, regardless of if it was a boy or girl.

We talked about the pros and cons of each. If it was a boy, it would be completely different. There would be no comparison that could be made, and the idea of a totally new experience from last time seemed like a fresh start.

But if it was a girl, it would feel so nice to finally have two girls- we have a big hole in our heart for the relationship that Viola lost when her sister died. Plus, we get the girl thing. We love it. We have all the clothes and stuff for a girl. It'd be, in some ways, easy.

But as you know... no matter how much you talk about this issue, you have no control over what you end up getting. (And to be honest, while we had opinions, we weren't picky.)

Tyler "knew" it was a girl. I "knew" it was a boy. Though our ultrasound tech, the only person that actually matters in this debate, proved it was a....

BOY!

We are having a boy! We are so shocked by the newness of the idea, that I'm not sure we have our heads wrapped around it. A boy?! The thing is, I know I'll look back on these feelings and see myself as someone who just didn't realize how much sweeter her life was about to become. 

So here we go. Oh, boy!

 


 

Also... toss in your bet boy names below, because we are starting from scratch!

 

 

FOLLOW ASPIRING KENNEDY ON BLOGLOVIN

 

 

 

*photos by Robyn Thompson

*It's A Boy! banner by The Lane Lifestyle, Etsy

*dress by Emoi Emoi/ coat by Marc Jacobs

Posted on January 26, 2015 and filed under babies kennedy, babies, kids, life.

Sophie La Girafe + Harrods

 

We got duplicates of our Sophie Giraffes

at our baby showers...

 

But since we were planning 

to have two little girls,

we figured the extras 

would come in handy.

 

So you can imagine

that, these days, we are somewhat 

swimming in Sophie Les Girafes.

 

We keep one in my purse,

one in the stroller,

one in the nursery...

 

and then the other, 

well she's sneaky

and turns up lots of places.

 

Needless to say,

Sophie is pretty much everywhere

that we are.

sophie_la_girafe_and_harrods_bath_products

So when Harrods sent Viola

their new exclusive range

of Sophie La Girafe

baby bath products,

we could finally take Sophie

into the one part of the day

she typically avoids:


bath time.


(Sophie #3 can attest to the perils of tub...

she's much quieter & squeak-free these days after her swim.)

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Mmmm... 

with ingredients like

white tea & lavender,

the smell is perfectly clean and calming.

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Viola gets out of the tub smelling just like a baby should smell.

 

I love it,

as does someone else

in our house.

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Apparently, you never can have enough Sophie in your life.


Check out the new line from Harrods

and make sure to get

a set a special little bundle in your life!


 

 

 

 

*photography by Noah Darnell for Aspiring Kennedy

*products c/o Harrods 

Posted on April 8, 2014 and filed under kids, shopping, babies, babies kennedy.

I Wanna Smooch Her Under Some Mistletoe.

The other week I got to pop into the Shop Up Event hosted by Babyccino Kids.

While we were there, Amsterdam photographer, Maud Fontein had set up a cute photo booth and snapped some pictures of Viola. Oh my goodness, this kid is happy to be in front of the camera. We were laughing so hard at her posing that we couldn't really focus on the task at hand.

Obviously, Maud got some winners through the laughs though...

*image original to Aspiring Kennedy

If I'm Being Honest...

I feel like I've been blogging a lot of random topics lately... and that, perhaps, a "check-in" on a more personal level is due. You know, just being honest with where we are, what life is like, how we feel... and other things that will, not only clue anyone interested in, but will be good for me to write down for posterity sake in the years to come.

So here they are... random blurbs & thoughts. {Editor's Note: Buckle up.}

*  *  *

Yesterday, I got really sad when I realized that November 2nd was the date that we had our 20 week sonogram and found out we were having two girls. I haven't been up for watching the video we made, but it is pretty cute if you haven't. 

Why is it that anniversaries are so much harder than other days? There's nothing particularly different about them, but I guess they just remind us that life is moving on and we are officially a bit further removed from that person. It doesn't help that Viola is so cute, either. The more we love her, the more we see what we lost. In a flit of boredom last night, I looked at our pictures from the hospital. They start the night I was induced... such light, carefree faces in the delivery room where Tyler is juggling heart rate monitor bands and then switch directly to the two of us sitting under the bright lights of the NICU holding our sweet babies with puffy eyes and the emptiest looks on our faces. 8 months later, and I still feel just as caught off guard. I had a dream just last night that I was pushing two little Violas in a stroller and then I look down and one has disappeared and, in the dream, I thought: Oh yeah, she was never actually here. I hate that part.

*  *  *

When I see other moms "mourn" their babies getting "so big" on social media, I have to remind myself not to get fussy. Having your baby grow and do "big kid" things is what every parent who has a child that won't hit those milestones dreams of. You'd be devastated if they didn't.

But behind my defensiveness and jaded perspective, I have the luxury of knowing where they are coming from by having a perfectly wonderful baby, too.

And so, I try to remind myself to savor Viola's smallness today, because I know one day this baby won't be exist anymore... she'll be a toddler/kid/teenager/adult so my time with "Baby Viola" is fleeting. And, safe to say, I'm not taking any time for granted.

I'm breathing in cute moments a little longer while they are here and enjoying them for what they are... The three of us cuddled up in bed on a rainy morning. How Viola looks curled up in my arm with her nose squished on my curled up arm... which is probably connected to my iPhone. #shameful Pushing the stroller through Portobello Road with her clutching on to my finger. Her toothless little mouth.

*  *  *

Wow, Lauren, stick to blog posts on donuts & France... this stuff is low. I know, sorry.

So with all of this sad talk, where does that leave us? Wistfully mourning? Yes. Hopeless? No. Scared to death of "what else" could happen? Trying not to be. Tyler & I would both say that we are at the point where we've just nestled into the bigness of God and his goodness.

We really do believe that, even if it's not right now, and despite our aching sadness- He is good.

Does it sound like crazy talk if I tell you that I have felt God's love more this year than ever before in my life? It probably does, because- in spite of my sadness, I am so thankful to Him. I feel like I'm the character in a really great happy movie in the low point where they hit their moment of crisis... but the writer will obviously write for everything to come together and happiness be restored. And until that happy ending arrives and I find myself smugly walking off in the sunset holding Tyler's hand, the end of Psalm 52 will be playing on a continuous loop in my mind

....

"... I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;

I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.

For what you have done I will always praise you

in the presence of your faithful people.

And I will hope in your name, for your name is good."

*  *  *

So there you have it... a quick look into my crazy brain. Kinda like walking through a spook house with scary things at every corner, eh? Perfect timing for Halloween. Don't worry though, you'll make it out okay in the end. (And, you know what? So will we.)

 

*image

via

Posted on October 31, 2013 and filed under "babies", "life", "viola", babies, babies kennedy, kids.

England, meet Baby Shower. Baby Shower, meet England.

My friend, Grace, is pregnant.

So like all good, Southern American girls,

I offered to throw a baby shower for her...

because, duh, that's what friends do.

Except here in England,

they don't actually do that.

And they think it's a little weird

to have a baby shower, too.

Oh well.

By the time I learned this was a bit of an anomaly,

the invitations had been sent,

the cake had been designed,

and I had raided the Baby Gap sale

and robbed them of all newborn clothes.

We were committed.

It ended up being such a fun day.

It was hilarious explaining to our Brit friends

what types of parties we as Americans have

for the various occasions in life.

{Lingerie Party, Engagement Party, Wedding Shower, Couples Shower, Bachelorette Party, Gender Reveal Party, Baby Shower, Mega 1st Birthday Party, etc.}

One of our friends summed it by saying

"Sooo, basically, it's just really expensive to be an American?"

Yeah...

and it'd be a lot worse if it weren't for Costco & Target.

***

Grace is a book publisher

and cute children's books

have a pretty big place in her heart.

So, naturally, we had to include them as much as possible.

We also based the party off a pretty pattern

from

Laura Ashley's Hydrangea tea set

since we were using this pattern for the serving pieces.

The food matched the theme

with an sparkly orange & almond cake,

yellow ombre mini cakes (white chocolate mud!),

lemon meringue mini parfaits

& savoury egg cups (for something a little savory!)

And even Viola matched the party colors!

I loved the cake that was the centerpiece.

{It was so moist & so soft.}

The combo of orange & almond

was perfect for a hot summer day.

I loved the gorgeous bunting of mini classic books

that Meg handmade for the shower.

I loved the beautiful

cut glass cake stand

from Laura Ashley

that it sat so prettily on.

Not only was it delicious at the shower,

but I ate it for breakfast for the following two days...

because let's be honest, it's not any worse than a donut, cinnamon roll, danish, french toast.

And this little tower of edible goodness?

Well, what the Tower of Babble did to the people building it

so this tower of temptation did to my summer diet.

(Read: ruined everything.)

I really love the pretty grey & yellow hydrangea pattern of it.

{Laura Ashley is so perfectly English...

which is exactly what we needed for this day!}

It was such a fun day

and I hope my dear Grace felt loved...

because, after all the cake & presents, 

that's actually the point

of all of our crazy American parties.

Thank you, Laura Ashley, for the gorgeous serving pieces.

They made our day all the prettier.

***

If you want to recreate any pieces of this fun day,

I've done the dirty work & compiled it all for you here.

DECORATION 

Cut Glass Crystal Cake Stand (Laura Ashley)

Hydrangea 3 Tier Cake Stand (Laura Ashley)

Polka Dot Pitcher (Laura Ashley)

Glass Canister (Laura Ashley)

Lovely Little One Bunting (SALT Etsy)

Children's Classic Cake Bunting (Upon Request via Meg-Made Etsy)

Jane Austen Quote (Dancing & Press Calligraphy, Etsy)

Stuffed Rabbit (Laura Ashley)

FOOD

Orange & Almond Cake

Lemon Meringue Mini Parfaits

Salted Caramel ANZAC Blondies

*Special thanks to Laura Ashley for donating these gorgeous serving pieces for our special day! I love them!

Happy/Sad Mother's Day.

Mother's Day is this weekend. I can't believe how much has changed in a year. This time last year, we were just two kids having fun living between Paris & London. And then, I got pregnant.

{This was the video I took to record the moment- live from the bathroom of a Chinese massage parlor- ha!}

We began to dream of new our life with the three of us.Until we found out it would actually be the four of us. Our hearts swelled with anticipation of the two sweet girls headed our way. We felt like we had won the lottery. For those nine months, we both glowed.

Dreams of walking the streets of London each holding a little girl amused our every thought. We'd see little girls plodding along the sidewalk and give each other side glances and smiles. Life was never so sweet.

And then everything changed. Tyler became a father. I became a mother. But life looked different than we thought it would. Our world has changed from so much. Even thought we feel so much joy, we aren't those careless kids anymore. In the course of a year, we've gone from having zero kids to two girls to one. Even though it hurt -both emotionally & physically, I might add- I'd do it all again. In a heartbeat. It was worth it all to become a mother to both of my beautiful girls even if it was for so much shorter than we wanted.

And while our dreams of holding both of our sweet daughters throughout life's adventures are now gone,I'm so thankful for those months I was lucky enough to carry them both.

Happy Mother's Day to all of us...

Those of us who raise babies.

Those of us who once raised babies.

Those of us who still wait for their turn to hold their baby.

And those of us who will always miss our babies.

xoxo-

Lots of love from my {aching/joyful} heart to yours.

 

Posted on May 11, 2013 and filed under "TK", "babies", "life", "love", "viola", babies kennedy, babies, holiday.

When a Friend Grieves: Your Guide to Being a Super Hero

So the last two months have been great. They've also been tough.{Perhaps an understatement?} Fortunately, we have some amazing friends who have made our lives a bit brighter and have keep us incredibly taken care of. I hope that no one ever goes through what we did, but if/when you find a friend going through a tough time- here are some ways we have been (& continue to be) loved that have rocked our world. So skim this post today, but bookmark it for later when you need to put on your knight armor & trot off to rescue someone in need.

Who ever knows what to say in such circumstances? Probably not you, but the good news is that your friend that is hurting doesn't have the right words to say either. No one really knows what to say on either end. 

Are you doing okay? Well, no not really. 

I understand what you're going through. Great, but it still hurts.

Is there anything I can do? Yes, but I have no clue where to start. 

When you're in these moments, here are some ways to say that you care without actually saying it.

Groceries! Once a week, bring by essentials: bread, milk, coffee, jam, toilet paper, kleenex, magazines, cereal, fresh fruit, or whatever else they might often use. It's an easy, quick way to help keep life going on when it feels anything other than normal.

Perhaps the most common route, but not one to be overlooked! This is a tangible way for you to send your thoughts. We got flooded with cards that at the time, I couldn't really process... but these days, these letters and thoughts are so sweet to read over. And over time, it will be a nice reminder of who walked through this with us. {Emails are also pretty sweet, too.}

***

Another amazing thing: friends that have sent postcards & notes at random now weeks later sending sweet notes to uplift us, silly notes written from "Kate Middleton," & encouraging us with sweet sentiments.

The first thing I think is important to say is that the first response wave is crucial to helping someone through tragedy... These are the people that come and visit you in the hospital. They send flowers & baskets of muffins to warm up your home. Their presence helps make the suddent impact of everything better.

Then comes the second round.These are the meals that are brought to lighten the daily load. These are the letters & cards that arrive to offer love and mark the occasion.These are the gifts that try to ease the loss. But after the initial shock is over and people go about their daily routine, the hurting are still reeling.

And then, comes the (often forgotten,) third round. This is where small notes arrive in the mail after the others have stopped just reminding you that you are being thought of & prayed over. These are the flowers that arrive months later when the others have long been thrown out. This is the massage appointment that has been booked for you.

My advice is this: reach out initially with love and immediately call a florist/spa/food delivery service and do whatever it is that you can do to love them... but arrange that the gift is given several weeks later. It will remind them that someone is still thinking of them and offer a huge impact in the quieter days ahead.

****

We were lucky to have friends use the amazing site, Care Calendar to coordinate meals & drop-offs that were scheduled for 4 nights a week for eight weeks after our babies were born. It was so nice and gave us time to see everyone and visit with them individually.

We were spoiled with special gifts from friends & family that eased our grieving and commemorated our daughters. Beautiful jewelry with the girls initials to wear as a reminder, relaxing bath oil to use when I needed to hide out, & sweet handmade blankets knitted with love and prayers. When everything sucks in your life, it may seem shallow-  but it does feel great to be pampered.

You need to have some sort of win, and while things won't ever replace your loss,it does make you feel like you're ahead of the game in some small way.

________________

So there you have it. I hope you don't have to use any of this anytime soon... but if/when you do-just know that no matter how you reach out in love for someone, you probably can't go wrong. Doing anything is better than doing something that isn't perfect.

The Name Game

{This is a post about our babies. So yeah, you've been warned.}

* * *

Picking out a name for a baby is hard work.

Picking out two is even harder.

 

Tyler & I had decided long ago

that we wanted to use our grandmother's names,

Viola (mine) & Wallace (his) for our children someday.

 

Having two little girls seemed like the perfect occasion to do so.

 

We wanted both of their names

to have one family name and one name we loved that made it up. 

We also wanted to keep them secret until they were born.

 

We knew that they only way we could keep our mouths shut

was to not have names finalized for as long as possible.

 

So, until then, we talked about them  -and to them-  as "Baby A" & "Baby B."

 

As we would lie in bed at night with my gigantic belly pressed against his back,

 

Tyler would ask who it was who had the hiccups (always Baby A)

and who was kicking him (always Baby B).

 

But the day before I was admitted to the hospital,

we decided it was officially time to decide on names.

 

They were perfect...  and they sounded so sweet together.

 

I won't go into the details here

of the delivery or the following 48 hours, but when we weren't sure 

if Baby B was going to make it- we didn't know what to do.

 

The hospital kept nudging us for names and we were in so much shock

{and I was drugged to maintain my blood pressure from causing a stroke}, 

it got shoved to the bottom of our priorities.

 

We could only hope for the two of us to recover.

 

The night that Baby B died, we had to officially name her

for the purpose of the NICU filing paperwork.

 

And while we had other plans for a "real" name,

it suddenly felt wrong to change that to something we'd never known her as.

 

She was our Baby B... that's all we ever knew her as

and that's how we wanted to remember her. 

So that's what we named her... officially.

 

It's what's written on her birth (and death) certificate(s).

 

{I want to puke typing that sentence.}

Once we decided on that,

 we were left with the original two names and only one baby to give them to.

 

 We decided to combine the two names into one

and let Viola carry on both of her grandmother's names

and a part of her sister. 

 

We are using the British pronunciation of  the name, Viola

-

like "violin," but with an "uh" at the end instead-

as it's said 

in my favorite of Shakespeare's works, 

Twelfth Night.

{Who, ironically, is separated from her twin by a tragic accident.}

So, there you have it.

 Both girls ended up with names

that we hadn't planned on.

Their names aren't cute twin names

that go well together.

Viola doesn't get to go through life

with an "&" attaching her to her sister.

...And sometimes those truths feel like a kick in the gut.

But in the midst of a situation that is miles away from perfect,

I'm thankful for this little bundle of

cuteness

that carries on the names of her great-gandmothers...

and the tiny life of her sister.

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on April 15, 2013 and filed under "TK", "babies", "life", "viola", babies, babies kennedy.

Coming to My Senses.

When I was little, I loved me some potty humor. In fact, so much so that I named my hamster "Toot" when I was three years old. I still giggle when I think about it. That, my friends, is humor at it's finest. Joking about farting, peeing, burping... it's all pretty hilarious. But in real life, eh... not so much.

I know a lot of couples think farting around each other is funny... but I'm not that cool. The concept of breathing in someone else's poop particles is rather alarming to me and turns me into a bit of a nose-up prude.

But there's a new sheriff in town. One who cares nothing for my rules and environmental preferences and who works them out without a care in the world. And I, ashamedly, find it completely hilarious.

Yes, this was an entire blog centered on baby farts. We can go back to talking about other important topics like Mediterranean beaches, cute summer sandals & fancy cakes tomorrow.

 

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on April 10, 2013 and filed under "babies", "life", "viola", babies kennedy, babies.

My Baby Daddy

Often times lately, I've felt overwhelmed with love from our friends & family during the start of our little family. Other times, I feel so tired from crazy newborn sleep that the world around me seems a bit like a blur.

And, maybe more than I'd like to admit, I feel like pulling the curtains closed and crying my eyes out.

But amidst all the up & downs, I'm constantly finding myself on the high watching Tyler become a dad to my baby girl.

Even though you've probably heard it a thousand times from a thousand other girls, I'm going to say it again: Watching your man love your baby is one of the most attractive things he'll ever do.

Check out that sexy baby-wearing-man at the Oxford v. Cambridge Boat Race.

You heart will inflate so big you might worry it will pop out of your body and land on the pile of baby clothes sitting on the couch cushion next to you waiting for two free hands to fold it.

Weekend stroll through Notting Hill

You'll stop & stare all googley-eyed at them and feel like you are the luckiest girl in the world. 

Just a few days old eating dinner at the Prince Bonaparte Pub

Because even though he may be showering another person with his love & attention and giving up a piece of his heart to them...you'll also kinda feel like he couldn't show his love to you in a better way.

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

*instagram username: aspiringkennedy

Moving Right Along.

It's me again, crawling out from behind the slew of pre-written travel posts. I have so much to talk about, but find myself tapping on my keyboard with a loss at where to start... So I'll just ramble a bit and see where we end up. {I can hear you ask yourself how that changes this post from any other. Touche.}

_____________

This past weekend, we had a service for our baby girl. It was one month, to the day, after their birthday. I know, that's quite a bit later than normal to have a service...but, honestly, our heads weren't with it to plan anything before then and we wanted to wait for our parents to be there with us.

We were so lucky to find ourselves surrounded by such sweet friends and being reminded that, in light of our loss, God is still so merciful.

A few days later, we both are doing pretty good. We are starting to get back into work...the flat is getting cleaner.... and, hey, I actually took a bath tonight.It feels like life is starting to move on!

But in the midst of daily routines and the renewal of better personal hygiene, I still find myself really, really sad at times. I'm not sure how to explain how I can miss someone that I never really knew... but I do. And I probably will for a long time to come.

As someone who lives confidently and happily, I'm not really sure what to do with that prospect. The good news is, even though those moments will be here... moments like this will be much more frequent.

And I'm so glad that they are. Getting to have a baby is such an incredible gift... and getting to share it with Tyler makes it all the better. We feel a loss, but, in spite of it all, know that we are incredibly blessed.

_____________

Again, I feel like I can't tell you enough: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

 

*all images via Instagram. Username: aspiringkennedy

The Babies Kennedy: The Bassinet's Half Full

Dear Friends,

 

It's with puffy eyes

and an exhausted brain

that I type this post out.

 

Saturday, I gave birth to our twins

at St. Mary's Hospital in London.

 

For unforeseen circumstances

-and fortunately for my future sanity, unpreventable-

we are now back home 

settling into our new life 

with only one of them.

 

While we are devastated 

by the unexpected loss 

of our second twin

{who we'll always refer to as our little "Baby B"},

we are completely enamored

by her sister's presence in our life.

 

While the world may seem different today than it did 5 days ago,

it, amazingly, somehow still feels better

now that we have this child in our life...

In spite of the moments of deepest heartache

that well up at the remembrance of our previous expectations

and the site of a second pair or ruffled socks

or the empty car seat sitting attached to our stroller,

Tyler & I find ours hearts bursting with love & pride

over the life of our sweet daughter.

 

This amazing pregnancy was never ours to begin with...

it's been a gift we were given from the very beginning.

 

While we ache over losing our little girl,

we feel exceptionally blessed to walk away from it all

with my failing-health restored

and a daughter.

 

We are thankful that God was merciful enough

to give us two babies from the start....

 

where would we be at this moment had he not?

While we can see this moment as one of the darkest of our lives,

we are trying to enjoy finding the joy in it.

 

So last night, we decided

that we are going to celebrate that,

in spite of this sad loss,

that the bassinet is half-full.

____________

 

I hope that as I begin to wrap my head 

around the last few days,

I'll be able to share more with you...

 

But for now I just wanted to express my thanks

for those that have written and worried,

your concern for our lives really does mean so much.

 

And I'd also like to introduce you to our daughter,

she's absolutely perfect.

xx- 

Lauren & Tyler

___________________

While I fall a bit off the radar as our families & friends help us adjust to new life, I hope you'll enjoy the posts that I wrote before delivery regarding some of my favorite places to travel & enjoy tea time in London.

As much as I'd love to help with travel emails & questions, I know you understand my need to focus elsewhere. Thanks for all of your generous and selfless support for our family, I can't articulate how much it means.

Posted on February 27, 2013 and filed under "TK", "babies", "life", babies, babies kennedy.

The {Baby}moon's Over.

We came.

We saw.

We conquered.

 

Our babymoon in Venice

was a trip 

that I have no doubt

the two of us 

will remember for many years to come.

 

It truly was a babymoon for the record books.

I took extra care to seek out some good spots

while on this trip

that I can't wait to share with you later this week...

But do you know what else I did?

 I  really enjoyed the weekend for what it was....

completely baby free. :)

________________

This trip marks the end of an era for the two of us....

we have gone so many places,

seen countless amazing things,

eaten our fair share of delicious things...

and taken entirely too many kissing pictures

.

But times, they are a changing.

{Quickly, too, from the rate my stomach is expanding.}

I can't wait to see what new traditions & quirks

these two additions bring to our lives & travels...

.... but I'll always be thankful 

to have shared this time 

with such a sweet {&, methinks, attractive} man.

{And I'm so thankful for each of YOU for sharing in our travels & life changes.}

Grazie mille.

 

 

*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy