Posts filed under family

Chicken Pox with Kids | A Memoir

The other week, I posted what I will fondly call “The Instagram Heard Round The World.” Okay, not really-but it did get a huge reaction. It was a post about my girls having chicken pox recently in our house.

While many of us have memories of having chicken pox, most of my readers and friends in the US now vaccinate their children against it. So it’s a bit of a thing lost to the past. Well, amigos, I’m here to tell you, the chicken pox is alive in well here in England where it is not included in the regular vaccine schedule for children and still a regular part of growing up here. (Just if you are curious- yes, we vaccinate! And yes, I think it’s very important to vaccinate!)

Viola woke up in spots one sunny Monday morning… the day that Tyler left town for a trip to Serbia. Wheee. I was a bit nervous of the days ahead, but her case actually was really mild and she really only had about 100+ spots throughout her case of it. She wasn’t super itchy and enjoyed the extra time off school (It came conveniently after a bank holiday.) We spent the week playing around the house, sneaking out early in cabs to play in parks and fountains before they got crowded and dotting calamine on her while counting her spots.

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It was no big deal. Chicken pox is kinda fun, I thought.

Then on Saturday, Edie woke up with a couple of bumps on her head just as we were setting up for Harrison’s birthday party. I texted our guests to warn them that I thought she *might* have it, and carried on getting things ready. My parents arrived just in time to have the party (en route for a trip to Africa), and more spots appeared. She wasn’t miserable, so I was thinking we were going to have another mild case to muddle through and kept checking Harrison for any signs of bumps. 

The next day, Edie had a good run of the pox. They were all over her chest and spotted around her head. I kept saying that I wasn’t sure if she had enough to get a “good case” of it, to insure she had immunity. (I had read and heard that if you don’t get enough, you can get it again later? Who knows.) Well, don’t worry- by the end of the second day, the poor baby was popping them out faster than a Kardashian can with Instagrams. When she woke up on Monday, she was totally covered. It was actually really horrible looking.

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She would use her little baby hands to rub her head and try to itch the pox there. It was like watching a teddy bear try to rub his head- the saddest and cutest thing you’ve ever seen.

On Tuesday, some of the spots were getting red and warm. After googling a bit, I decided to take her to the doctor to make sure they weren’t infected. (Thanks, Google, for freaking me out!) My doctor was full, so they told me to take her to the A&E (our version of the ER) since she was still little.

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At the hospital, we were whisked into a private room to avoid getting anyone else exposed and had some lovely doctors come check on her. She was fine, just had a nasty case of it and we were sent home to watch things in case they progressed. Luckily, they didn’t, but I was due to travel to Paris that night and decided to stay home with her instead. But what’s a girl to do when her baby looks like a raspberry muffin? Tyler took over for me and led our group there for the weekend while I stayed home with  the kids.  (Ouch, that was probably the toughest bit of going through the chicken pox for me, if I’m honest.)

But the days rolled on. The pox turned to scabs, we ventured out in public and freaked people out with our polka-dot baby, but were happy to finally get some fresh air and be able to get out of the house together after a few weeks stuck inside.

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It’s now been three weeks since she got it, so Harrison has somehow now not caught it from either sister… and resisted getting it last spring when he played with his two very infected friends. (I was hoping to get them through it before the baby arrived, to no luck.) Perhaps he’s one of those strange/lucky people who are immune to it? I don’t know… but I’m grateful they are done with it! Phew. 

Go hug your moms and tell them thank you for the oatmeal baths, the popsicles in your undies and their long days spent at home if/when you had it. They were showing big love for your little self!

Posted on June 18, 2018 and filed under family, kids, everyday living.

V is V

On February 23rd, Viola turned five. It was a sweet day- albeit a bit sad since she had to be in school for a big chunk of the day. (Welcome to the real world, kid.) 

She wanted pasta for dinner with brownies for dessert. Easy to please.

The next day, we had several friends over to celebrate this sweet girl in style. And it was in style. 

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Per the birthday girl's request, the party was “Valentines and Rainbows.” (Though until about ten days before, she was set on a Christmas birthday party... which required a Christmas tree and decor. Ha!) 

Our sweet friend, Grace, made her a cake exactly as she dreamed it up: a rainbow cake with white the icing on the outside with different coloured pink hearts all around it and little red dots along the top. 

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We played dancing statues, pass the parcel and then let them go destroy our upstairs as they played dress up and kitchen. 

Harrison & Edie loves being a part of the fun. Harrison was so sweet and endured the torture of celebrating a sibling's birthday so well. He cheered her on and was so sweet as she opened presents. 

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Party bags were simple little treats: pink & green dinosaur cookies, a chocolate kinder bar & DIY masks complete with a little stash of rhinestones, feathers, foam stickers & glitter glue pens to decorate it with. Cute & simple.

That was kinda the theme of the day. Hearts & rainbows. Which is also kinda the theme of this girl’s little life.

Happy Birthday, Viola. You are a peach.

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



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on April 2, 2018 and filed under family, kids.

Mother’s Day | Bottling a Family Legacy

While the US may not start thinking through Mother’s Day for several more months, it comes early here in the U.K. (This week, in fact!)

While so many people are hard to buy for, my mom isn’t one of those people. Not because she has an ongoing list that she makes known, but because she is so unassuming and grateful. Anything that is given with meaning and heart is something that she treasures.

She often is thinking of how to spoil others with grand gestures and gifts that she doesn’t think about getting spoiled herself, so when I can actually spoil her- well, it’s really fun.

And for Mother’s Day this year, I had had that pleasure by taking her to Floris to create a custom scent with her and their master perfumer.

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Creating a custom fragrance could double as a therapy session- it’s so intimate and personal. You work your way through the smells and the reaction you have is very instinctive. 

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“Mmm lavender reminds me of the sachets that we’re in my grandma’s dresser.”

“I love the smell of almond- it smells like my mom's cherry pie.”

“Vanilla smells too waxy to me. It makes me feel like I’m back in fourth grade where my mean teacher would burn a vanilla Yankee candle on her desk.” 

And so on and so on...

You talk with Nicola about what smells you love and why. You smell scents that have great meaning to you... or none at all. 

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And after a while, Nicola guides you to a few scents that really hit a personal note to you. (It sounds crazy, but it ends up feeling a bit emotional to go through those smells... it’s like looking at forgotten family albums.) From there, the smells and fine tuned and at the end- well, all I can tell you is that you have a personalised scent that smells perfect for you.

Like, honestly. It’s as if Nicola has articulated your personality into a fragrance. 

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And since it’s so personal, it’s yours to name... and yours alone to have mixed. It goes into their archives and only you can reorder it. Or anyone you will it on to. (Fancy, right?) 

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After it was all said and done, the perfume was poured into her bottle and an empty label was laid before her. My mom named her after our family home- which is perfect for someone who had said she wanted to smell “pretty and comforting” when we first sat down at those comfy chairs with Nicola. 

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If you’ve heard me talk about Floris before, you probably think that I gush a bit too much about them. Well, maybe- but after bringing my mom and showing her a bit of their magic, I’m sure she would feel the same way.

So what does that all have to do with Mothers Day? Well, it means skip the spa certificates and take your mom to do something that not only provides for better quality time than any massage can give.... sit with her for two hours in a gorgeous room as she sniffs her way through her memories. 

Listen to her talk about the musky back room of her parents house, the smells that remind her of being a young mom to you and the thoughts she has about how she hopes to be perceived by others and then let her take home the prettiest perfume bottle she’s ever seen with her little initials engraved on it.

Connect with the team at Floris here to book an appointment and surprise your mom on Sunday with one of the most special gifts you may ever give her.

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Family Time | Creating Traditions & Eating Croissants

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I think one of the things I get asked the most is how I manage to do it all. Well, the truth is- it’s not always all done. We manage with a myriad of weekly routines and organisers that keep us all moving. (Sounds so fun, right?) Ha! Our au pair makes it possible, too. 

One thing that Tyler and I recently realised is this: while we might be getting it all done, we weren’t setting aside to do things all together. Like, we could get everyone to where they needed to be each day- but very rarely were we all doing anything as a family. And we weren’t really doing anything as a couple, either. We were all ships passing in the night.

Since that realisation, we have been trying to figure out what we can do during the week to assure that we are building time with all of us together. We want our children to really have the concept and feeling of family established within them. We want them to have the security of family- it’s truly a richness of life that can’t be inherited or stolen from you. It’s something that is only earned with days and moments spent together.

And so, with that goal in mind, we are trying to build up times when we can make sure that we are all together. The idea is simply to leave Saturday mornings as our time. We toss on whatever is easy to wear, keep the kids in their pyjamas and toss on wellies (because if we had to dress them, we’d never get out the door), and hop in the car. We drive ten minutes away to a bakery. We get a little assortment of cinnamon rolls, almond croissants, French toast, coffees & babyccinos and just chill out together. 

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It’s really nothing fancy, but it’s just something we do. Just the Knights. Sorry- it’s VIP and we can’t be flexible on the plans. If we are in London, it’s happening. 

I love making little traditions and I hope that our kids really do feel valued and loved. (Because they are!) The more I’m a mom- the more I realise that things don’t need tp be grand or elaborate. They just need to happen. My kids don’t need me to be perfect. Just a present and happy version of myself does the trick.

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So that’s the goal. I thought I’d share that with you guys in case it’s something you’re needing to do, too… and in hopes that you can give more ideas to us! I love hearing from you all in the comments, so please don’t be shy or quiet. This place is so much more fun when it’s a community. I’ve had the pleasure to meet so many readers and I’m always in awe of how smart and cool you people are. Add in your voice. It makes it way better than just hearing mine. Ha!

Chip in below with the small but meaningful ways you connect as a family!

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 5, 2018 and filed under family, kids, london.

11 Years & 5 Knights

Remember me? I’m the blogger who used to blog here. That’s okay. I always say- if my blog looks good, my house is a wreck and my kids are unfed. The truth is, life has been so intense the last month and my family needed my undivided attention.

So what could possibly be so important that it would pull me back into blogging and even with the energy for a new video?!

Well, only 11 years of marital bliss, obviously.

And, obviously, that is said with sarcasm after what I declared as “the hardest year of our marriage-physically” to Tyler.

After a painful end of pregnancy with some killer sciatica, a toddler who hates to sleep and loves to scream at night and a lot of work in between... we are both just walking into 2018 in need of a nap.

But to celebrate another year of marriage, another year of saying “we will,” another year of becoming more and more of the same person, and another year of our fast-romance-turned-marriage maturing  into a real, bonafide family. 

After filling our tank with unleaded when we actually have a diesel car, which can be (in our opinion) credited to a recent visit to the US combined with little sleep in our family’s jet lagged days since, we had to have our tank drained and then keep the engine running for 5 miles. So, we tossed everyone in the car (my mom included) and headed to Richmond for cupcakes at Hummingbird.

It was random, it was fun, and it was a great glimpse of life for us now. It just felt right to record a few moments of it and tuck it away in a video for later years... like a little time capsule of a day in the life of the five of us. (Oh, and my mom, too. She’s in town and makes a little cameo!)

Cheers to you, Tyler Knight. I knew you were the real deal when we decided to stop being good friends and jump into getting married.... and you’ve only proved me right every day since. In all of our naivety and stupidly, God was really kind to pair us up. I’ll feel thankful for that for the rest of my life.




*video original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on January 8, 2018 and filed under tyler, marriage, family, love.

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.

Did Somebody Say... McDonalds?

This week has been a long week. The temperatures here are really warm… and while this may be a land of many charms, it does not have air conditioning like Americans are used to. It’s our eighth summer here, and still- it just feels suffocating for a few of the weeks of the year.

Anyway, it’s been a hot, long week home with the kids feeling so big and tired. And when it’s hot and you don’t have a car, getting out of the house this pregnant requires long, sizzling walks on pavement while you collect sweat on your body in places you can’t even mention. Beyond that, it’s been busy with big and little things filling up the days… and I’m sitting here at the edge of the weekend without much relief in site. (You know what I mean? The days are just kinda bleeding together and Saturday might as well be Tuesday.) 

In the midst of long morning of crying and fighting and picking up a million toys, I was just totally over the idea of going downstairs and staring in the fridge to conjure lunch. So I pulled out my phone and scrolled Uber Eats, knowing I wouldn’t actually end up buying anything off there because it would be a waste of money to spend that much money on a lunch for kids and myself.

But then, whaddaya know… the first option that appeared: McDonalds.

Now people, I don’t have a car. We don’t do drive through… because they don’t have it, and, well, we don’t have a car. I pretty much make everything from scratch that we eat. But just as the American in me would really love to crank her air conditioning down to a cool 65 right now, that same person sure did order 2 happy meals, a cheeseburger and French fries to be sent to her house with the enthusiasm of an American mom from the midwest on Black Friday when those Kohl’s doors open at 4am. Yeehaw.

And 23 minutes later, a knock on my door came and lunch was delivered. (To be honest, they forgot my fries- but I mooched from the kids and no one was the wiser.)

It might be one of the best £10 I’ve spent in a long time.

Now, if only Chick-fil-A would arrive in London… I would be able to merge all the great things into one life.

As we sat there- moods beginning to lift and a calm quiet wafting through the house like a sweet perfume, Viola randomly said: Harry, do you know that there is nothing you can ever do to make mommy stop loving you? Nothing!

Ahh… they don’t think I’m a mean, four-headed dragon, after all. Well, at least, not all the time.

And here’s to anyone else out there, who knows that while half of your friends may be horrified that you fed your kids McDonalds- your entire self can rest assured that occasionally giving your kids French fries and a dubious hamburger is actually a really great thing for everyone involved. Keep truckin’ ladies. This biz is hard work! I got your back.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on July 9, 2017 and filed under kids, family, everyday living.

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.

What I Can Tell You If You're Going to Have a Boy

When I was pregnant with Harrison, we found out fairly early that we were having a boy. Our first response was a bit.... meh. Now don't get me wrong, we were so thankful for a healthy baby- we weren't going to be picky.

But I think somewhere the idea of another girl felt easy and, if I'm honest, like the completion to the broken idea of having two girls. Boys felt loud and foreign and grubby and crazy. We were a calm little family, and a boy wasn't really our scene.

Yet there he was. Sprawled out in my sonogram in all his boyish splendour. There was absolutely no mistake that we had a boy headed our way, and all we could do was embrace it!

Well, I'm rounding two years of life with this little guy and I must say: thank goodness I didn't have a say in choosing our children. God has given us the exact children we needed when we needed them.... both in Viola's easy nature and Harrison's larger than life personality.

So for all of you moms of little girls who watch in disbelief/horror as you attend play dates with friends who have boys- I have to tell you something. Boys are a different world. They ARE loud and foreign and grubby and crazy... but they're also sweet and intense and loving in a way that is so delightfully unique.

Yes, I feel like having a little boy is harder than having a little girl. Maybe it's just my two- but Harrison wears me out in a non-stop way that Viola never did... or does.

It's hard to imagine having a boy if you're currently residing in girl land... but I can promise you, don't sweat it. You're going to fall hard for that little squish before too long and their presence in your family will add depth and a new perspective you will grow to love.

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Will I say that boys love their mamas more than their daughters do? Never. The love between my daughter and me is one of the best gifts of my life. But oh man, the love is different from a boy. And it's good. 

So get ready for messy hair, stains on your clothes, less makeup on your face and more annoyed looks from strangers in public when your boy is loud and wriggly... but be ready for a whole lot of good, too. 



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on March 16, 2017 and filed under kids, family.

Books Your Toddler Will Love... And You'll Love to Read

When I was pregnant with our girls, I bought so many of M. Slaseks' books. Their nursery was filled with his gorgeous books, This is London, This is Paris, This is Venice and so on. I dreamt of reading them to our kids and them falling in love with the mundane facts of cities and the quirky illustrations on each page.

Fast forward four years and our collections of books looks much different than it did when it started. First of all, our books aren't held on shelves and in pretty nooks like delicate treasures. Instead they look more like buried treasure recently uncovered by pirates. We have a giant trunk overflowing with books and the kids cycle through each on with amazing consistency.

Not all books are great. In fact, I definitely play favorites when it comes time to snuggle in with books. I thought I'd save any of you new mothers some money and point you to the best books for babies and toddlers... and books that won't make you want to gauge your eyes out either. Books that are written by people I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy hanging out with in real life.... or maybe I wouldn't. Either way, these are great books that you should add to your child's nursery.


THE GRUFFALO | A British classic that is slowly getting its way into the States. It's so good and the follow up, The Gruffalo's Child, is a good addition to the story.

MONKEY PUZZLE | While we are on the note of The Gruffalo, let's just add in any book by Julia Donaldson. There are quite a few, but this one never seems to get old and kids love to laugh throughout it at all the animals. (Note: while the title on our side of the pond is "Monkey Puzzle," in the States, it's called "Where's My Mom?" Why the change? Who knows.)

ELMER | Oh Elmer, the sweet patchwork elephant. This book is a sweet story about an elephant who is born different than the rest of his herd and we love it so much we even have a plush animal of Elmer, too.

THIS IS NOT MY HAT | We loooove this book- equally for its quirky plot line and cool illustrations. This is a dad favourite at bedtime, for sure. In fact, anything by Jon Klassen seems to be one of his favourites.

PEEPO | This peek-a-boo style book is gorgeous. It features a baby's day in 1940's England. The drawings are nostalgic and detailed and the rhyming is fun to read aloud. We love this book and both kids still love to shout "PEEPO!" as we turn the pages to see what the baby has seen at each part of his day. A very sweet read and would make a great gift.

THE TIGER WHO CAME TO TEA | If you want a fun book with a very English feel, this book is what you need... from tea time sweets, a very English flat shown for the home, to an ending of a dinner of sausages & ice cream. And of course, a friendly tiger who stops by unannounced. 

BARNYARD DANCE | I think this was he very first baby book we ever received- and it came from a friend with a toddler, so she knew what she was doing. Anything by Sandra Boynton is gonna be great. Fun rhymes with silly animals-it's a good time.

BUSY BEAR | Good old Busy Bear. These books are perfect for toddlers, as each page has something they can spin, lift, push or slide. The books are cheap and one of my favourite gifts to get for a baby on their first birthday.

WENDY & THE WALLPAPER CAT | The V&A publishes their own children's books and this is one of my favourites. It has a cute story of a little girl facing bedtime trouble with a backdrop of gorgeous wallpapers. The wallpapers in the book are all patterns from the archives at the V&A and gorgeous.

I AM A BUNNY | This is currently Harrison's favourite book. He brings it around the house with him, tosses it on my lap and yells "Bunny!" I equally love this book- it's beautifully illustrated and gives a good overview of the changes between seasons. Definitely a classic you should have in your child's library.

THE MARVELLOUS SQUISHY ITTY BITTY | This is a book that Viola loved when she was about to turn three. It's got a quirky story about a little girl running around her (French) town looking for a gift for her mom. The drawings are cool and you'll like reading it, too. (Another title change for our American friends -- "The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy." I don't like that quite as much, but what can you do?)

IS YOUR MAMA A LLAMA | This silly book about baby animals is catchy and you'll find yourself quoting it back to yourself long after your child has stopped reading it. It's a classic and you'll enjoy reading it with your kids... especially, if/when they go through an animal obsession as it teaches them some less common animals than most books featuring the same lineup of barnyard animals.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 27, 2017 and filed under kids, shopping, everyday living, family.

Four.

Four? Really?! Four! 

It feels like yesterday Tyler & I were living life just the two of us... and then, I look at us and we look older. Tired. With unexpected wrinkles. And kids! Not just babies... but real full-blown kids.

And so, today marks the day our journey into parenthood began. Not the most glamorous of arrivals into this new chapter of life... in fact, more of a crash landing, if I'm being honest. But we survived... and, sweet Viola, you did, too.

You've been nothing short of a joy to watch grow from a tiny (and I mean tiny!) baby into a little girl. You're soft spoken and gentle, and most people never get more than a cheeky glance from you... but the backstage crew to your little show gets to see the silly and sweet little girl that you are.

You're delicate and almost nymph-like in the way you quietly slide in and out of settings. You're definitely the best hider of anyone I've ever met. Anyone in our family will agree that this may be your best talent.

You came out a cuddler and you still love to tiptoe to our bed at night and snuggle in beside me. Just this morning, you asked me to come hold your hand and cuddle "for just a little bit more" as I got dressed for the day. And so, I skipped putting on my makeup and climbed into bed to snuggle with you instead. 

I love you and am so proud to say I'm your mother. I'll never forget the first time I saw you and, literally, gasped and sobbed at how cute you were. In the midst of something so sad and so hard, there you were. I couldn't even understand how God had brought himself to share something so precious with us.

And I still feel the same way about you, sweet Viola. Happy Birthday, Baby A.



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 23, 2017 and filed under kids, family.

In Defense of the (Holiday) I Love

Valentines Day is the least popular holiday to publicly like. Sure, celebrate in private if you must- but for the sake of everyone around you, opt for a cynical and eye-rolling attitude of February 14.

The thing is... I LOVE this day. And this isn't coming from a girl who has spent her life showered with chocolates and serenades by suitors every Valentines. It's from a dorky girl who never had a boyfriend and now is thankful for a quiet pub dinner out with her husband to celebrate.

But the reason I love Valentine's Day is that is pushes me to say how much I love people around me. My husband, my kids, my friends.... and no matter how that is displayed (from cards to cupcakes), it feels good to indulge in the sweetness of caring- and being cared for- by others around you. 

My parents always included us in their Valetines Day celebrations... from my mom's heart shaped meatloaf to my dad buying all of his daughters flowers. We were included and felt so loved. I love sharing that inclusion with our kids now, too.

So I say... bring on the red velvet cake and chocolates. I'm happy to spend the day with a shower of glitter and cheesiness enjoying the people I love.

And you know... a few flowers around the house don't hurt either. Even if you *cough* might have bought them for yourself. 

Happy Valentine's Day! I love this blogging community and the friends I've made through being here. I hope you all feel valued and appreciated today!



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on February 14, 2017 and filed under holiday, kids, family, marriage.

My London | Falling for St. James

I'm not sure what it is about fall in England, but it just feels so homey and .... mine. Maybe it's because it's a city that is shared it hoards of tourist for so much of the year, that these quiet months in between make it feel like you have it all to yourself.

Or maybe it's because we first moved to England at this time of year, and it all feels so nostalgic and sweet.

Whatever it is... I love it. I love the coats. I love the long dinners in pubs. I love the mugs of hot tea that suddenly feel imperative throughout the day. I love it!

On Saturday, we left Parliament where our group was touring and headed home via St James Park. After realising we hadn't had lunch yet, we grabbed a couple of sandwiches and bags of chips/crisps from the snack stand and headed to have an impromptu picnic.

We rented two of the iconic green & white striped chairs (for the first time ever, actually!) and had an hour of just enjoying the break together. To our surprise, the chairs were really inexpensive to rent- only £1.60 an hour. Worth every penny!

 

With Hyde Park and Regents Park being so BIG, I often forget what great spots St James and Green Park are. Both are the perfect little retreats for a quick break on a busy day in the city.

 

But the best part of the day was definitely when I was looking back through my phone of the pictures we took. Apparently, monkey see, monkey do! Viola & Harrison are taking the Knight kissing pics to the next level. Ha!

 

Find all my favourite places in London in my travel guide here.

And if you want to dress for fall like a Brit, here are some pieces that work for cosy days wandering in small villages or a crisp mornings shopping in South Kensington : 



*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Under The Tuscan Sun... and Just By The Olive Trees

When I was 19, I spent a semester in Italy. Just outside of Florence on a hillside of a sleepy suburb in a 15th century villa. In this villa, we had class, we had little Italian women cook for us and we stayed up way too long every night. I'm not sure anyone can spend three months at that villa and not have those moments stay with them forever. There really is something magical about "the villa," and I am so glad that I got to share it with my family this summer.

While we were there, my friend Grant snapped some pictures of us around the house. He, literally, took out his camera and starting clicking away after breakfast one day. (And from the lack of Tyler and/or group photos, you'll see that it was so casual that he went in to change out the laundry about two minutes into taking pictures and we had given up by the time he had come back out.)

I have to say, I love them. Not just because I can now appreciate the gift of having us all four in the same photo... but especially so because they're a reminder of a normal day that made up this gorgeous holiday.

There are so many memories that I have from the villa- visiting with my family in high school, arriving with my best friend and a huge suitcase to live out of for the spring whilst in college, saying goodnight to friends in the driveway during the summers in college, eating lunch with Tyler as newlyweds in the dining room, laughing on the terrace with Oxford friends after graduation, and now... well, with my sweet babies toddling around the yard.

 

I love Florence and the lifelong friends that we have there... and, well, now I have some pictures to add to the others we already love from this same special place.

 



 

*images by Grant Schol

 

Posted on September 9, 2016 and filed under italy, kids, family, everyday living, florence.

A Welcome Home | Return to Tuscany

If you have followed this blog before we became parents, you might remember a former version of ourselves. Not just ones that were less crazy and a bit better looking.... but a couple that LOVED Italy so much that we couldn't help but jump there as often as possible. When I was pregnant with the girls, I went three times, but since kids....

Well, we have been so busy traveling for work and to see family, that our sporadic and frequent Italian jaunts have ceased.... until now. This August, we decided to spend it on a family holiday for just the four of us. We are staying at the same place where I have spent so many great days making memories and it feels like a warm homecoming to be back here.

We are staying outside of Florence surrounded by olive trees and vineyards. To city-dwellers like us, it seems as if we have our own country. To city-dwelling kids like ours, it seems like we have our own planet.

The kids wake up in the middle of the night and point out to the garden. "There! There!" Harrison yells out to the pitch dark outside begging for more time to wander around the crunchy rain-starved grass in search of rocks and sticks.

dress by olive juice

But when the daylight finally arrives, we walk out to the garden and start the day. We spend the mornings sitting on a swing together with coffee and brioche. The pre-packaged kind because all the local bakeries are closed for August and we kinda love the crunchy sugar on top.

cosy jammies by baby mori

 

At lunch time, we typically venture out somewhere nearby- like San Gimignano or Lucca- to squeeze in a casual lunch with a view... and, of course, the obligatory afternoon gelato.

By the time it's late afternoon, we are back to the villa with enough time to play and crank out some dinner.

 

After that, the kids take a bath, go to bed... and Tyler & I sigh a big sigh of exhausted relief as we head up to the terrace to watch the sunset together. By this time in the day, we are half-asleep and half-pinching ourselves of the day we just had.

 

 *       *       *

 

It's one of the laziest vacations that I know of, but it's also, without a doubt, our very very favorite. It feels so good to be back here and I'm not sure I'll ever loose that place in my heart that beats for Italy.

Does anyone else feel the same way about Italy? I'd love to hear your favorit pare here and why it is special to you!

 



 

*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on August 15, 2016 and filed under italy, travel, florence, family, kids.

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.

Allons-y | The Paris Commute

The past few weeks in Paris have been so busy, but so nice. I haven't been blogging a ton because I have lessons to plan, babies to love on and places to go. We've had some visitors, a trip to Normandy and so much fun in between.

Our family is thriving right now. One of the main reasons is our amazing au pair, Kristi. She's my former student and having her with us has been a total game changer. She's wonderful and we are going to miss her so much! Knowing that the kids are going to be having fun with her while we are teaching or taking the students out makes the day really enjoyable for us. 

Each morning, we head out and walk to teach together. (Tyler is a regular adjunct professor for our program, so he gets to go to classes with me each day.) Our walks each morning have been one of the things that we love the most about this semester. It feels like a little date... and while it may just be a 30 minute walk, it is some of the best quality time we've consistently had in a long time. 

And so, of course, I filmed it one day for posterity sake. So that, maybe somewhere down the line when the days are a bit more chaotic and the setting a bit less glorious, I'll be able to look at this and enjoy the memory.



 

*video original to Aspiring Kennedy, edited by K.Keese

 

Posted on April 4, 2016 and filed under paris, family, marriage, travel.

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