Posts filed under babies kennedy

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.

IMG-9266.JPG

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.

IMG-9264.JPG
IMG-9262.JPG

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.

IMG-9265.JPG

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.

IMG-9263.JPG


*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

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

Having an Au Pair - A Vlog!

Well, here we go. Life and work have officially merged with the start of a new semester. I make a weekly grocery order that coordinates with a color-coordinated google doc of our weekly schedule with everyone person in a different colour, where they will be doing what at what hour, and then all the meals we will eat for the day prescribed days in advance. 

I wake up, read the sheet like a script and go!

Tyler and I are juggling a busy schedule and trying to keep things as normal and steady as we can at home for the kids. 

It’s not easy, but we’re doing it.

As I mentioned earlier, we have an au pair who helps keep us functioning in those moments when our schedules totally clash or there’s not a way for either of us to be at home. We do our best to take and pickup Viola from school and have one of us at home with Harrison as much as we can during the day, but… we both work and that’s not always something that we can pull off.

Luckily, we have a sweet au pair that is kind and so helpful! Since so many of my friends were so new to the idea of an au pair (and hey, I was, too, before we hired one!), I thought it would be helpful to do a vlog where I could answer questions people may have about the whole process. People submitted some great questions and I’ve got the final video now up. Be warned: It’s not one of my shorter videos… but then again, there were a lot of questions people asked! The questions ranged from standard “Do you have to cook for them?” all the way to “Can I walk around naked if they live with us?” Ha! And I get vomited on in the video, so, you know… it just took some time to get all the essential moments in the final cut,

Anyway, you can check it out below. (Or here, if you’re on a device that won’t show the video directly.)

AUPAIRWORLD.COM | This is the website we found our au pair through. It takes time, but you can avoid agency fees by interviewing and contacting candidates yourself. (Image e-harmony… but for au pairs and families. You shop their profiles, they shop yours.)

AUPAIRAMERICA.COM | If you live in the US, this is a reputable company that can help connect you to potential au pairs and offer additional services to make the process easier.


Did you like the baby vomit? No homemade video is complete without some. (That’s what I’m telling myself, at least.) Still feeling curious? Please leave any other comments or questions below and I’ll do my best to follow up in the comments!


FOLLOW ASPIRING KENNEDY ON BLOGLOVIN


*images and video original to Aspiring Kennedy

To A Tea | The Wind in the Willows at Haymarket Hotel

My mother-in-law has come to visit us in London each time we’ve had a baby… and this time was no exception. And each time she has come to visit after a baby has been born, we have celebrated with afternoon tea. In fact, we went to Fortnum & Mason when Viola was just a few days old. It was one of her very first times out of the house and I remember feeling like the whole experience was a bit of an out of body experience. When Harrison was born, we ventured to Sanderson’s Hotel in Marylebone for the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. It was adorable, but I think I spent the majority of our time there swatting VIola’s hand away from the music box stacked with sugar cubes. Ha!

And for Edie’s birth? Well, I had my site’s set on trying the special Wind in the Willow’s afternoon tea at the Haymarket Hotel just off Trafalgar Square. Now, if I’m honest, I knew slightly what to expect. After all, the Haymarket Hotel is another Firmdale Hotel- like Ham Yard and Number Sixteen. I was expecting a similar experience and taste to the other two previous teas… and I was right. But luckily, I really enjoy those places because this was just as good.

And if you remember my posts about those two, you may remember- I really love the price. At £24 per person, this was a special day out in Central London without spending a small fortune. At the moment, Haymarket is offering a special twist to their regular afternoon tea that I couldn’t wait to try- The Wind in the Willows afternoon tea.  This special offering runs through the 9th of September in honour of the new musical adaptation of the book by Julian Fellows to arrive in the West End. After that, the darling decorated biscuits and darjeeling cupcakes that are inspired by Ratty’s picnic will go away and the afternoon tea will return to it’s standard items.

The afternoon tea is held in the hotel's restaurant, Brumus. While we were seated by the window (per my request), the awning outside was pulled and made our table have some seriously blue tinged lighting… it didn’t bother us at the moment, but my pictures are pretty dismal from the off lighting. Luckily, I was grabbing a few moments on video here and there, so I’ve got a short little video of our day below to share.

It was a sweet day, and I’m so thankful for these moments and memories we have made to mark the birth of our London babies with such a simple- yet sweet- little tradition.

P.S. If you’re wildly observant, you may notice that the kids are dressed a bit like the book? Well, you’d be right. Boden has just launched a Wind in the Willows series, which was serendipitous timing, as they sent some pieces over for the kids that same week. Can you believe it? Lucky them! (No adult clothes from the series, sadly!) But I think they look pretty cute. Find the collection here if you’re in the UK. Or if you’re in the US, find the best selection of Boden I know of here.



HAYMARKET HOTEL | 1 Suffolk Pl, London SW1Y 4HX | +44 20 7470 4000




*images and video original to Aspiring 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.

Forcing American Baby Showers on British Friends

Well, I started to blog about how I was forcing baby showers on my British friends. This is, for the most part, true. Over the past few years, they have awkwardly shuffled away from the idea of any hoopla before a baby arrives… they claim it’s just not done, and, when I’ve dug a bit deeper, they claim it’s bad luck! Well, amigos… all I can say is, thank goodness I don’t believe in superstition because otherwise, I would be a bit freaked out. As an American, the idea of celebrating an-almost-there-mom is one of the sweetest things- just a pause before the baby arrives to enjoy the anticipation and hope of that sweet little life that will soon be here. Plus, when you’re pregnant- you can eat tons of cake at a party like that and not feel guilty for the baby weight you’re still wearing. (See what I mean- It’s definitely more fun on this side of the due date.)

I have four friends in my group of friends that are pregnant at the same time as me- in the same social circle! That may feel normal for you guys in the States, but here in London that seems massive to me. People have less kids, they have them later and they hardly seem to overlap… but here we all are… all waddling around with baby girls!

Since this is almost as rare of an occurrence as Viola & Prince George having playdates (which you know, is pretty rare), I thought it was reason to celebrate. And by celebrate I mean, sit in the garden on a sunny day, eat pretty food, and talk without kids around. It was lovely.

The lunch was simple and light- since it has been so roasting hot this week in London. We had Greek chicken with roasted potatoes & green beans smothered with tzaziki sauce, mediterranean orzo (inspired by Bridget’s recipe), watermelon dotted with mint, and huge bowls stacked high with Eton Mess.  

It was definitely a day that called for my prettiest dishes- my Burleigh Blue Regal Peacock place settings. If you’ve been over to my house, you probably have heard me wax on about how special this company is, how they hand-make every single piece, and how they are last-standing pottery company in Britain to employ this painstaking method of artisan quality. But honestly, they make me happy every single day when I use them.

I mean really, Eton Mess in any other bowl would just look… uninspired. Put it in a gorgeous dish like that, and, voila! You’ve got yourself a gorgeous day with the ladies in the garden. (For those that are infinitely cooler than me, check out their new Black Regal Peacock. It’s edgy and cool and all my hip friends make it look so much cooler than I can. It’s amazing.)

When the shade finally arrived, we had fresh mint tea (my favourite!) and chocolates… because, chocolates with tea/coffee are kind of essential.

The afternoon was lovely, and we all ate until our stomachs filled our throats- which, at this stage, of pregnancy isn’t too hard to do.

And just as soon as I thought I had pushed my American-self on them, they surprised me with a gorgeous evening celebrating our new baby girl just a few days later. I’m not going to lie- sitting there in that room, surrounded by so many Brits who were going out of their comfort zone to love me and our baby- well, it made me emotional. These friends have been through all my baby deliveries with me, and they graciously walk beside me as I fumble through motherhood, and I’m just so so grateful. So yeah, I may have pushed baby showers on my British friends, but they gave me back great friendship, unending prayer, and a blind eye to my obnoxious Americanisms. I’m so grateful!

(As a tiny post script for my own memory- one of my friends from the party is actually at the hospital now delivering her baby! Exciting times… especially, as that means the baby dominos are starting to fall… and I’m the next one in line!)



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

My London | Cowshed Spa at Clarendon Cross

In both of my pregnancies, my hips hurt really badly in the last months. I was constantly on the lookout for a great pregnancy massage in London to relieve some of the stress. I would google "Best Pregnancy Massages in London" endlessly as if I would find newly released information... but sadly, I could really ever only ever find spas own sites. 

I thought it might be helpful if I shared my spa experiences here, so that when you find yourself in that desperate moment- you'll have some real comparisons available to help you find the best London spa for pregnancy treatments.


COWSHED SPA, CLARENDON CROSS

unnamed-3.jpg

Tyler got me a gift voucher ages ago for Cowshed Spa. I got too busy in the fall with work to use it and then, to my dismay, had to wait past the first trimester to book any pregnancy treatments. Sigh. Oh well... life in the First World did continue, don't be alarmed.

When I finally got booked in, I was 18 weeks and still hardly showing. As in, I looked more like I had that post-pizza-buffet-glow than expectant-mother-glow. None the less, I was ready for my formal introduction to this classic London spa and couldn't wait for my appointment. 


SETTING & VIBE | Nestled in the quiet heart of Holland Park, Cowshed is definitely aware of its clientele. With an airy entrance that is casually posh, Cowshed makes coming to the spa feel as social and casual as meeting a friend for coffee.

STAFF & SERVICE | Every employee- from the booking line, reception staff, Cafe waitstaff and therapist- was exceptionally kind and made me feel so welcome. Can't say anything but praise for how I was treated from start to finish.

TREATMENT RECEIVED |  Udderly Gorgeous Pregnancy Massage (60 min, £80) & Cowshed Facial (60 min, £80),

TYPE OF PREGNANCY MASSAGE TABLE | If your heart is set on a massage table with a giant hole for your belly, this isn't for you. However, despite my initial disappointment- how they worked around this actually felt great and I'd recommend it to a friend. It involves a comfortable leaning setup for the back massage portion that can only sound odd,  but in the moment felt really relaxing. The rest of the massage was performed on a cozy and huge massage table.

SPA FACILITIES | When I first walked in, I felt like I had arrived at yummy mummy Mecca. I checked in, was directed to the communal table by the cafe and eagerly waited to be shown to the locker room where I could take a quick shower before the massage started. I browsed the newspapers sitting out and peeked at the food options from the cafe.

By sadly, I realised that there were no locker rooms. When my therapist arrived and took me downstairs to the room, my hopes of unwinding in a plush relaxation room with tea and a long shower with Cowshed products wasn't going to happen.

The treatment room was in the basement and fairly non-descript, but the massage bed was big and extremely comfortable. 

THINGS I LOVED | The massage table was fantastic. The products used left my skin feeling amazing. The facial was exceptionally helpful and something I wish I could do every few weeks to keep my face in good condition. (Alas, I'm not that lucky!) I'd love to go back and have breakfast or lunch with a friend before getting our nails done. The staff was also incredibly kind and warm.

THINGS I WISHED WERE DIFFERENT | I did feel a bit cheated that the experience started and ended in the treatment room. I would have loved to spend a bit more time relaxing in a robe somewhere, but that's probably splitting hairs. Still, for the sake of comparing spas in London, it's worth noting so that expectations are met.

COWSHED SPA, Clarendon Cross | 119 Portland Road, London, W11 4LN 




*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Another Day. Another Knight.

These days, we don't really buy souvenirs. We spend most of our money when traveling on food.... but don't be fooled. Even after the amazing food we at in Florence this week, this belly isn't all gelato and pasta.

To echo a long ago announcement on Aspiring Kennedy, "BIMBO A BORDO!" 

We are thrilled to be having another baby this summer. What a gift... and phew, it takes all my courage to be pregnant. We are thankful for a healthy baby, and excited that we only have a few months left to go.

Thanks for joining us (again!) on this life-changing journey... and feel free to cast your vote below on what you think the sex will be. We just found out today, and I can't wait to tell you that it's another.....



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on March 27, 2017 and filed under kids, babies kennedy, family.

My London | Duke's Posh Picnic by Buckingham Palace

 

I was looking for a fun day out for my friend, Amber, before she had her baby girl. Since it wasn't her first baby, we agreed that she wasn't in need of swaddling muslins, bottles or diapers... but probably could go for a little "me" time before the baby arrived.

We were stuck in between doing another afternoon tea (not complaining! just wanting to shake things up a bit!) and jaunting away for the day somewhere fabulous (felt like so much effort!)... in the midst of this planning pergatory, I heard about Dukes Hotel's Picnic in the Park and knew it would be perfect.

 

Why, you may ask, did I think a picnic would be a good fit? I'll keep it simple with some bullet points.

 

WHY WE SAID 'YES' TO DUKES PICNIC IN THE PARK:

1. It was a luxury meal that we didn't have to make or prepare.

2. It came in an adorable stripey hamper and was served to us by a butler.

3. It only costs £35 per person, so it wouldn't break the bank.

4. We could sit alongside Buckingham Palace as we ate... which, if we are honest, is as close are we will be getting to lunching with Lizzy anytime soon.

 

And did the outing living up to our experience? YES. It was such a refreshing day out for both us doing something easy while feeling very extraordinary!

Our butler was so sweet and very attentive. He met us at the hotel when we arrived and walked us to the park.

When we got to Green Park, he let us choose where we wanted to set up camp, laid out everything for us, poured our drinks and then left his number for us to call should we need anything. He came back every so often to check on us and bring us sill things that we requested.

IMG_8183.JPG

The actual picnic itself was really good- light and fresh. As all picnic food can be, it was a bit messy by the time it made it across the park and out of saran wrap. But we quickly fluffed everything up with a fork though and tidied it up to restore it back to its full potential. The cous cous salad and piri piri chicken skewers were exceptionally tasty.

And there's no better way to celebrate an upcoming birth than with some baby-friendly fizz!

 

As we lounged around Green Park like we were Roman nobility, people kept strolling by and gawking at us like we were pretty fancy. (Which made us giggle a lot.) By having a butler serve you a picnic does get a bit more attention than our normal picnic spread of M&S sandwiches, juice boxes and plastic hummus cartons.

 

 

This posh picnic in the park from Duke's Hotel in Mayfair is a definite winner for an exciting London experience. I'd recommend it to anyone- tourist or local alike. It's a fun and tasty option for enjoying the city in a really special way!

 

DUKES MAYFAIR | St James Place, London SW1A 1NY.  +44 (0)207 491 4840



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

*our picnic was complimentary. review is my own.

 

HBD HHK

 

Happy Birthday, Harrison Hunter Knight!

Wow. Harrison is one today. In some ways, I can't believe it. In others, I feel like I have aged 10 years in the past year. This boy lives large, loves hard and sleeps light. But is it worth it? You bet. He definitely belongs in this family, and it's hard to imagine life without him. His presence rounds us out in that "we were too clean anyway" way.

 

 

As his birthday fell on Sunday, it made for a great afternoon to have friends over. We didn't make a big fuss over things. The hope was for the day to be easy... both on our guests and ourselves. I just made a cake, tied up some balloons and bunting, tossed a bunch of ice in the sink and stuck bottles in it for a cooler. For the kids, we filled milk bottles with juice, chocolate & vanilla milk ... it was a tiny way to make the day a bit more fun.

The cake was chocolate with cream cheese & oreo icing, and really delicious considering how simple it was to make. It tasted like a giant oreo cookie in cake form. I have a feeling we'll be having that for many birthdays in the future.

 

 

But the hero of the day was Harrison. Who, despite being away from 03:00am-06:00am the night before was the life of the party. The highlight of the day was, most likely, when 7 adults were feeding him grapes, talking to him in baby talk and waving at him. He looked like a cross between someone that was starstruck... and a Roman god.

 

 

The day was great. The party was easy. The friends were dear.

 

 

Behind every great picture of kids...

 

 

are some parents working really hard to make it happen.

 

 

 


I have to say, it feels really good to have a birthday arrive for a child that is so light-hearted. It's a bit of a new experience, and I have to say- I love it. Much like Harrison himself: light-hearted and easy going.

Happy birthday, Harrison! We're so much better with you here!



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on May 29, 2016 and filed under kids, babies kennedy, family.

Time and Place Des Vosges

Harrison is a bucket of laughs. He's emotive, he's loud, and at least 30 times a day, we laugh and say how crazy he is. He is enormously chubby and, it is already obvious, that he is going to live life big.

Viola on the flip side is delicate and attentive. While she's slow to speak, her brain is constantly absorbing the world around her and taking in details that you would never expect a person of her tiny size to note. Her words are nearly songlike and she speaks so softly, I'm constantly leaning in and asking her to repeat herself to understand her.

To be completely honest: I've failed since having Harrison at being a good mom to both of my kids. I can be an awesome mom to one. Cooking with Viola, cuddling with Harrison, reading with Viola, singing with Harrison. It's all fun and games until the other enters the scene. Then it's mass chaos and no one seems to be happy. I've seen some really ugly versions of myself emerge as a mom- irritable, grouchy, short-tempered with self-interest emerging as an overarching theme. To put it mildly, it's been a humbling year for me.

I wish I could stop the gross admissions here and turn this blog post around with a great list on how to juggle multiple tiny kids. But I'm not there yet. Every day, I'm working on new ways to keep it all together and praying for patience and joy for the day ahead.

One thing that we are doing is trying to take Viola out with one of us when we are running simple errands. That way, she gets some undivided time with us at a few points each week. Maybe it's nothing monumental, but hopefully- they can add up.

Today, we decided to go to Place des Vosges after work. We used to take her to play there during our last spring here in 2014, so it seemed like a fun idea to return with just the three of us like back then. It ended up being such a nice time- just the three of us- on a little adventure again. 

Photo 08-03-2016, 21 06 16.jpg

We played in the park, walked on the park benches and then headed to La Carette outside the gates. 

At La Carette, we went all out: macarons covered in raspberries, a hot fudge sundae the size of a small house, chocolate cake, one hot chocolate and a giant pot of coffee.

 

The day was sweet and we all walked home holding hands, indulging her in the occasional swing up in the air. (An old favorite that is nearly impossible with a baby in the mix.) She pointed out the items in shops and we carried her when her legs got tired.

 


I wish every day could feel like such a parenting win. Oh well. I'll try to take enough photos when those golden moments do come around to someday fool my kids into thinking that we actually had it together. ;) 





*images original to aspiring kennedy


Three Times a Lady (HBD V!)

Today, Viola turns 3. What a girl. She's really smart, stunningly beautiful (in my biased opinion) and becoming a compassionate and caring girl. She often talks about how she once "was a little baby" and "is going to be a mommy soon." There are million little quirks that make her... her, but for some reason- I'll just write those down in my journal and in my heart. (And save you the gratuitous mom-ologue about how I think she is the best girl on the planet. You are welcome.)

So instead of the gushy stuff, I'll just cruise straight on to birthday festivities. As luck would have it, each February since Viola's birthday- we've been in France for work right on her birthday. This has paired up well and, simultaneously, set the bar extremely high for future years. As does the fact that we go to Disneyland, but we figure- its a good way to milk season passes that we use a bunch each year and it saves on birthday parties and gifts. Plus, it's so much fun!

Viola was so excited to wear her new Cinderella outfit on her birthday. She kept saying that everyone was going to think she was "Cinderella."

The day was great. Viola had a wonderful time. Harrison chummed around in his normal cheesey way as we scurried around the park. Tyler & I even got a bit of time to have some coffee while the kids both napped at the same time.

Obviously, she hated Disneyland. 

The RER ran slow and it took us forever to get home. By the time we got back to our (new! adorable!) apartment, I only had the energy to warm up some soup, slice up a baguette and toss it all on the table. We all just ate in a bit of a stupor after the long day we had just finished.

Afterwards, we sang "Happy Birthday!" to Viola and let her open up her presents.... which may or may not have been straws and plastic cutlery from IKEA. Hey, she's three, she got to go to Disney and she LOVED those forks.

It was a great day. I'm not sure the 23rd of February will ever pass where it won't feel like a BIG day. It's one of the best and worst days of my entire life. The juxtaposition of the days events of the girls birth are just so odd... but, we are really trying to make the day about celebrating Viola's birth. (Because-wow- what a great gift she is!) 

 

*Looking to travel to Disneyland Paris? Find my travel post about visiting the park here.


Since I get asked so often about Viola's clothes- I wanted to share this particular company that she wore today for her birthday: Courage & Kind. They make the sweetest clothes that are based off Disney movies. They feature small details from the movies that kids love, and parents can appreciate the clothes for their beautiful style and design. I'm such a big fan and they were really kind to send Viola a few pieces from their line for her birthday. Thank you so much!



*images original to aspiring kennedy

 

 

Posted on February 21, 2016 and filed under babies kennedy, kids, family.

Working (On) The Weekend

Since we have landed back in London, we've been a bit nutty. Jetlag, potty training (better late than never?), two teeth for Harrison, two molars for Viola, and a dose of colds for all of us complete with congestion that keeps a baby from sleeping well and hacking coughs that wake up the rest of our tiny flat throughout the night.

I mean, it's fine. It's just the standard recipe for a Chaos Cocktail, and we've been poured a double. The Fitbit I was given for Christmas has been discarded only a few days into use after it showed me I had slept for 6 hours, interrupted 21 times and awake 7 times in the night. Ha! I decided it was best to live in ignorance on those sorts of statistics.

Phew. Needless to say, this weekend wasn't as much of a recharge as it was two more days of the crazy. Oh well. We are fine and these kids really do make it worth it. It's bizarre how much someone can annoy the mess out of you and you miss them again so quickly when you leave the flat for a small break of fresh air.

 

And it also helps to go through the mess of the everyday with someone you really enjoy being with! St. Tyler in all his glory.


So here's to Monday! Wishing us (and you!) some sweet normalcy and boring days!





*images original to aspiring kennedy

How Does She Do It All? (She Don't.)

A few years ago, I had a huge girl crush on a blogger who was effortlessly beautiful. Not only was she stunning, but she also had a gorgeous home, a fleet of model children and a successful business of her own. I would follow her daily happenings with awe. While my day's accomplishments had been a Tesco run with fuzzy hair and consuming half a pack of Custard Creams for breakfast. Watching her left me feeling like a chubby freshman sitting on the bleachers of life while this sexy senior paraded by on the shoulders of the football team.

Then, as life does, we got shoved together to work on a project. I was so excited. We met and she was charming. In fact, everything about her life was even cooler in person. Instagram filters hadn't made things look better than real life. Her real life was actually absurdly cool.

BUT.... when we were together, there was a mention of a nanny. One that worked full-time at their house and I was shocked.

I wasn't shocked that they had a nanny, but I was shocked that in such detailed documentation of their life, it had never been mentioned. In this "intimate" window to their daily lives, this extra person had never been mentioned, included in photos or discussed. Suddenly, the invisible cloud of "less-than-you" was lifted from it's perch over me and a new feeling of "more-tied-up-than-you" settled.

You see, it wasn't that a beautiful life isn't possible. I just think, with tiny kids, it's not really possible to do alone. Maybe you're some amazing superhero that can make do it all... but I'm not. And there was something freeing for me when I learned that it took another woman an entire work week to help sustain the gorgeous life they were living. Someone else was making breakfast, sorting socks, prepping dinner, buying Christmas presents. Someone else was doing all the grubby things that get in the way of me taking time to get cleaned up, feel inspired and with enough energy to be charming. 

And that's fine. In fact, that's awesome. Lucky her! Isn't that combination of gorgeous personal life/successful career the dream so many have?

It's been a few years, I still think about that moment when I realized they had a nanny a lot. For a while, Viola came everywhere with me for work. She was little. It was easy, but now she's bigger and Harrison is here. It's just not possible for Tyler & I to both work with our kids around, so we have someone that has been helping out a couple of days each week to make it happen.

It frees me up to do my job better, and I come home without looming to-do's waiting for me to tackle once the kids go to sleep. Now that my semester is coming to a close and our need for a nanny goes away for a while, life can go back to a less-organized version of itself One that involves lazier mornings, bigger laundry piles, daily Peppa Pig... and big cuddly piles of us around the house all day every day. Because that's all I'm capable of doing by myself, if I'm being honest.

Anyway, the point of all this? I don't know. I guess I just feel that this space can look pretty really easily, and that's not fair. Sometimes we forget what we edit out and we underestimate how people can perceive the lives we live. I just don't want to be someone that makes other people doubt themselves, because the truth is- I don't think we can have it all. I can't have a career and be with my kids all the time. And that's fine. Life is full of give and take. So yes, some days I get to dress up in clothes that are (nearly) clean and be free from the mundane tasks that can accompany being at home with kids. But it's only because someone else is supporting me to do so by picking up my slack on the home front.

So that's the deal. For some reason, I like being candid with you guys when I can about how life works for us. And because I never want to make anyone feel bad... especially for something that isn't even true!

 *  *  *  *  *

On that note... Hiring people to help with kids is a strange thing that I'm learning about as we go. Has anyone else been down this path before? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Wisdom is needed/appreciated- thank you in advance for sharing your experiences below.

 



 

 

*image by Ashel Parsons for Aspiring Kennedy

Flying With A Baby... and a Toddler.

The other week a friend, who was facing her maiden voyage with her newborn, asked me for any advice on flying with a baby. With the luxurious 38 seconds I had allotted to reply to the email before breakfast, I came to my blog, found this post on traveling with a baby and sent it to her.

After the email sent, I re-read the post that I wrote a couple of years back. I wrote it after Viola had traveled quite a bit and I wanted to help out other moms who felt the same knot in their stomachs when thinking about traveling... but still weren't ready to give up adventures quite yet.

Reading it now- after a recently flying to Iceland with both kids and NO Tyler- I laughed. I laughed and laughed and laughed.

Looking back on that post, I saw myself as a first-time mom acting like I had it all together. As if all those other frazzled parents on the plane had flunked an imaginary course focused on traveling with infants. To be fair, those ideas/steps I posted were really helpful for us- so if you are nervous, use them! They really will help! While I was still learning how to be a mom and how babies worked, it was nice to have some tips/tricks that helped us maintain some control in a moment that felt out of control.

Now though, some of those things just are a bit more intuitive to me. I just get kids a bit better. I just am a bit less scared of a baby getting sad in public. I just am a bit less intimidated by being uncool in front of other people without kids.

But I've got great news... I didn't do a single one of those tips for flying when traveling with Harrison for his first two international trips. And he traveled just as well as Viola did.

It's funny that in a subject where I seemed so sure of myself, I can now look back and actually feel confident. Not to say that I have had some enlightenment that now allows me to travel perfectly now that I have two children.... but more in the respect that, regardless of what happens, I'll be fine. One bad flight or trip won't break me. (And that is actually confidence to me.)

And just imagine what will I'll think in a few years down the road when I come back and reread the post I am currently writing on traveling with two kids. Apparently, old habits die hard, but, hopefully, if nothing else it can encourage you to travel with your kids just by seeing some crazy lady try it first.



 

*images by Ashel Parsons

Sleep | Once Upon A Time

 

I'll be honest: I can operate on not a lot of sleep. When people ask me how I juggle kids, work, school and blogging, all I can say is: I don't get nearly enough sleep.

But lately, my booty has been getting kicked in the sleep department. And it's not by the newborn that has arrived. It's our toddler.

Holy Moly. 

I'm embarrassed to admit, but we are having to sleep train our 2.5 year old. It's not pretty and I didn't want to ever have to do this... but naps and bedtime have become a 1.5-2 hour ordeal every night. What was once a cute time to cuddle has become a dreaded marathon every night. I have no doubt that this is our fault, but for the longest time, cuddling with Viola as she fell asleep was an easy and painless solution. Until it wasn't.

So here we are. Weekend warriors. Only this weekend, the war is against sleep. Or maybe the toddler? I don't know, but I hate. hate. hate this. Has anyone else been here? Please tell me it does work and that we aren't ruining our child.

 

 

If anyone out there needs some advice or sound medical perspective, Dr. Craig Canapari has a blog with loads of topics that I have found helpful and encouraging for whatever stage or situation you may be at. Check it out, if you're in a similar nocturnal boat.

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Life and All That.

I always say that the better my blog looks, the messier my life is. The times I've poured the most into my blog are often the moments that are the least exciting- wasting away hours at a bad job, sitting on the floor of the airport killing time during a massive flight delay, or in the midst of a messy house neglecting all my real responsibilities. 

On the other hand, when my blog gets quiet, it's typically a reflection that life is going really well and I don't want to stop and waste time to blog. I'm enjoying life too much to stop.

This might be why I'll never categorize myself as a professional blogger. Because rather than staying professional, I often default to doing what I prefer personally. Oh well. After five years of these shenanigans, you probably have learned to expect that, right? I guess you're stuck with me now, sorry.

But yes, it has been quiet around here because the days have just been so good around here. Don't get me wrong, my body is still only running around 85% of what it should from sleep and recovery, I have a stack of laundry the size of a mobile home sitting by my bed that needs to be put away, and my dissertation needs a zillion more hours put into it... but while there are glaring factors of imperfection glaring at me from various places, I'm just enjoying this time for what it is. 

These early days of a baby's life are only here for so long, so I'm savoring them. 

(Also, I'm wearing a tank top and shorts in the first pic... scouts honor! I was just accused of appearing naked by my husband.)

And when things aren't glossy and beautiful... they're often like this.

1435272830271-1.jpeg

 

 

So that's what we're up to around here. What have you been up to this month?

 




*images original to Aspiring Kennedy