cherished final days

june 2021 was our last month in london. we tried to fit in as many of our favourite london places and things as possible, while also undergoing the mammoth task of packing up our flat (selling or giving away loads of stuff and then carefully filling shipping crates with the rest). we spent time with dear friends, did a few things we’d been wanting to for a long time and wanted to get to before we left, and just soaked up every bit that we possibly could of our beloved london life. i felt during that month such an intense cocktail of emotions. what a wild slice of life.

we hit up some of our favourite splashpads:

i took gabriel and the babies to a playground right by the houses of parliament that i’d never been to but had always wanted to take the kids to:

gabriel got to go participate in joy school graduation (even though he had technically graduated in april when he started attending nursery at mo’s school). the six families that had done joy school this round together gathered in the finters’ gorgeous garden and we had such a perfect little “ceremony” for our sweet kiddos. flowers were given to the mama teachers and caps and diplomas were given to the children. i’ll never be able to express how much joy school has meant to our family, both in moses’s group and gabriel’s group. i absolutely adore the curriculum and co-op design of joy school, and through doing it we found incredible community and lifelong friends. when i had just given birth to twins and our family was undergoing that gigantic transition, gabriel going to joy school was such a huge gift – the other moms took my teaching days and enveloped gabe, whose whole world had transformed, with so much love and care that i couldn’t give him. joy school has been such a massive blessing for our family.

summer babies: eight months old:

a few snapshots from one morning’s walk around the corner to school:

and a snapshot from right after i got my second dose of the covid vaccine, feeling so so so grateful, and hopeful! and of auggie with his hands clasped, like they so often were at that age:

the wonders of earl’s court square garden in june:

two brothers giggling their heads off when i started a game of “red light green light” with red light:

around the neighbourhood:

around the flat (i’m not sure which boy took the photo on the right, but i have loooots like them from last summer, when moses and gabriel discovered the joys of taking photos on mom’s phone πŸ™‚ ):

i invited friends to have a farewell/birthday afternoon tea with me, and it was perfect. we went to a hotel in kensington that offered a london-themed tea:

starting to sit up independently, and chilling with sophie the giraffe:

we gathered with all our best friends one afternoon to go to a polo match! we brought picnics, learned the rules and scoring, and got to go on the field to pet the horses and meet the players in between matches. it was such a fun (and bright!) day out.

evie sitting up proudly, and wearing an outfit i had been really excited for her to grow into:

some moses writing i found around the house (translation: “mo give a smile to eve” and “august love you” // one day our beloved midwife sarah (who attended gabriel’s birth at home and then arranged to also attend the twins’ birth in hospital) came to visit, and i was so mad when i realised i didn’t take a photo of her with the children she helped bring into the world — then i found out that moses and gabriel had taken a few candids of her with eve, haha!):

i got to go to a yoga class at the natural history museum, which was so awesome. i love yoga deeply, and i love it even more in an amazing setting. i love the main hall at the natural history museum deeply, and i love it even more doing yoga there! the practice was fantastic and cleansing and the “gong bath” at the end was seriously transcendent.

the ticket for admission to the yoga class also included admission to the special exhibit on at the museum then, the wildlife photographer of the year display. i absolutely loved walking through the dark rooms with these stunning images.

eve was first to sit up independently, but a couple weeks later august mastered that skill, too!

we were (still are!) working really hard on being more calm in our family, so we instituted the calm master award. after several attempts with no winner at the end of the day, when a day came that included both boys winning the award due to stellar calmness, moses and gabriel were pretty psyched, and very proud.

building an epic magnatile tower taller than mom (!!) and taking a second to snap a photo in our home tube station:

a run up to kensington high street to find a hat shop in a back alleyway, where my dad had bought a perfectly english cap while he was here for the twins’ birth. he had lost the cap and wanted a new one and i was delighted to meet the charming and hilarious old men that ran the shop and get a replacement to bring home to my dad.

had to document the babies’ first taste of pizza when we ordered some one evening in the garden. they take after their mama and they loved it!

we went to ride the paddle boats at battersea park, something that had been on our london list for a while:

and had a blast at the playground (one of our very favourites) after:

the “secret passageway” we used almost daily when we lived in our old flat, and a pretty mews house around the corner:

a last trip to the log trail at kew gardens:

moses and i had a mommy date at the zoo. mo had been struggling with his behaviour at home and at school – it was clear that the anxiety of the upcoming big move and huge change was affecting him. some one-on-one time was helpful, and we had a great afternoon together with the animals.

in the garden // sitting up together:

when i went through my camera roll to narrow down photos for this post, i kept coming to photos of random things in our flat that we were selling or giving away. packing up the flat for an international was so, so much work that almost broke my brain – ha! it was hard to know in those final days exactly how much more we had to do, and as it turned out we were pretty frantic down to the end … but we made it! ian and i would often trade off working on the flat/packing and taking the kids out (here’s the boys having a blast on the slides at the science museum wonderlab):

one day i took a break and went on a bike ride to the rose garden in hyde park. it was absolutely sensational. and just what i needed amidst all the chaos and stress and swirl of emotions!

a photo after our last sunday at the hyde park chapel, and a random pic of eve that was among hundreds that one of the boys took one day while i was packing:

a last visit to the adventure playground at holland park, where first time daddy + boys down the “long, long slide” and moses + eve down the wide slide happened:

moses went to a place called “art barn” for fun art camps a couple of times during school breaks, and i had saved a bunch of his creations from his last time there in the closet. as i was going through the closet packing things up for the move, i found his art and had him lay on the ground surrounded by his masterpieces for a photo πŸ™‚ mo loved art barn so, so much – he was completely in his element just creating for hours.

on our first sunday back at in-person church back in the early spring, a kind woman approached me as i was cleaning up after the kids in the pew at the end of the meeting. she told me she noticed we had twins and just lots of small children and that she would like to come babysit for us, on a regular basis if we wanted. you know those people you meet/know that just glow with goodness? i could feel that from this woman, diane, from the moment i started talking to her. and as it turns out, she actually is an angel on earth. she ended up coming to play with moses and gabriel every friday for several months, and they absolutely fell in love with her. like, they would be stomping mad when i took over taking care of them when it was time for diane to go home or bring them home. ian and i got to know diane and her husband lant and they are some of our most admired and adored friends now, and we will forever be grateful for diane’s spirited and loving childcare, which gifted us breaks that enabled us in so many different ways.

on our last sunday in london, we went to dinner at diane and lant’s, and i snapped some photos fo the boys with their favourite person:

and some of the mews street they lived next to:

mews will always be one of those tiny charming things that i will miss dearly about london.

diane and lant gave moses a new lego set and within minutes of getting home he was hard at work and then soon finished with an amazing dragon creation:

in the end i had just one thing on my list that i really, really wanted to do before we left london: visit borough market and eat a bread ahead donut πŸ™‚ so one very foggy morning, i headed east. as i walked across millennium bridge with the babies in the buggy, i thought about how the weather matched my mood. i let tears fall down my cheeks as i thought about how much i would miss living in this city.

the donuts dried my tears πŸ™‚

and i loved finding this fun muraled wall (see first photo in this post) that i’d been wanting to see near the market (which was very quiet on a random weekday morning):

i ended up having some extra time, so i decided spur of the moment to the take the babies to westminster abbey. i hadn’t been inside for years, and it’s one of my favourite buildings in london. i just soaked in all the beauty and history, walking around in awe even though i’d seen it all several times before.

and that was our last month in london. a wild, bittersweet month.

3 comments

  1. OK, I’M getting choked up reading through this one, I’m sure it was a complicated month for you. But oh, the joys you packed into it – bravo!! And I just love that the boys filled in the photo gaps for you, how fun to have come across those photos on your phone :). I hope posting these updates has been a lift for you at the start of 2022.
    You have given so many of US such a lift (I know I’ve said it often, but it’s true every time) with your wonderful writing of REAL life and living, and the color-saturated photos of nature, architecture, art, history, geography, and family. UK Years: Wright Place at the Wright Time, for sure.
    I know there will be more posts to come and I am looking forward to those as well, seeing the children growing so fast in the next phase of your story, but endless thanks for sharing England with us through your eyes and camera lens!

    Like

  2. A beautiful, beloved city! This was a hard post to readβ€”made me grieve (and celebrate!) with you, even all these months later! I loved feeling my own love grow for London vicariously through your posts and experiences over the years 🀍

    Like

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