A Forgettable Day Worth Remembering

 

In our old flat, we were just a few second away from Portobello Road. It made it a really easy walk to the market every Saturday. But since we moved to a different spot in the neighborhood, we have hardly gone at all this winter. (It's funny how demotivating a ten minute walk can be when it is cold outside.)

With the weather getting warmer and dryer, we decided we were up for the short trek to the market today. Plus, Viola wants to go to the park every day these days... so we decided to go to a different one for the sake of our sanity.

I can't really say anything special about the day. It was overcast and really windy. We walked through the market. I felt a bit frumpy and huge. Tyler had to leave early for a lunch, so Viola & I ate Paella on a side street by a band. We stopped by Poundland to buy kid's toothpaste, easter eggs and an unnecessary box of After Eight Mints. Then, we took the bus back home afterwards because I was too tired to walk the mile back uphill. We spent the rest of the day at home taking a cozy nap in Viola's room, eating Chinese food for dinner and meeting our beautiful new nephew, West, over FaceTime. (Probably the most memorable event of the day!)

The thing is: it wasn't that special, but I know that in a few years.... it will be days like this that I long for so badly. I'll miss the little details that made today- the pretty buildings, the tiny body eating lunch in my lap, the baby crowding out my stomach and giving me an extra waddle to my step, and the sweet guy who lets me chat his ear off while simultaneously endlessly pushes our daughter on the swing.

So, apologies if you were looking for advice on Notting Hill or were hoping for some fun links to more interesting sites. Today, I'm just putting away some boring memories in the bank for another day... with the knowledge that they'll grow in time into something even more valuable than I may see them for today.

 


 

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

*red jacket c/o Joules

Posted on March 29, 2015 and filed under kids, life, pregnancy, viola.

What Going Back To School Taught Me.

 

Today was my last day of classes as a student. The last day! I'll have six weeks of papers and finals ahead, and then spend the summer writing my dissertation... but today, at 4:00pm. my French class finished and my time to sit in a desk as a student came to an end. I can't believe how quickly it went when I look back, but at the same times- there have been a lot of mornings when I heard my alarm go off and I had to drag myself out of bed to face the day ahead.

In some ways- it hasn't been that bad. For starters Masters in the UK are only one year. This means two terms with eleven weeks of class each, and now I have until September to crank out a dissertation. (And baby?)

But in other ways, it's been really hard. Work! School! Toddler! Commuting on the Central Line everyday while pregnant! To be honest, it feels like a party day for me today thinking that I can do the rest of my papers and writing at my schedule and at my home.

After being "out" and in the "real world" for almost a decade, I realized few things upon returning to school. So here are a few things I'll always remember about going back to school at the ripe age of 30. (Or maybe I won't, so it makes it a good idea to write them down here.)

 

WHAT I WAS REALLY TAUGHT GOING BACK TO SCHOOL At Thirty.

 

1. I cared a lot more... AND a whole lot LESS.

At this stage of life, I'm here to get a degree. Not be homecoming queen... which lets be honest, I never was before either so it does help with expectations. I want to do good, and at the same time- I'm way less worried about school than I was before. In my time between graduating college and getting my masters, I've grown up a lot. I know why I'm getting a degree, and I know that regardless of how the year ends up- my life is on track. The emotional game of it is gone.

 

2. YOUR PROFESSORS ARE NORMAL PEOPLE, TOO. (AND THEY'LL LOVE YOU!)

When I did my undergraduate, I elevated professors in my mind to this untouchable level. They knew everything, they thought I was stupid and my questions were a waste of their time to do more important things. But now? Well, I guess I just know too many people that are teachers... and, more importantly, I became one myself. I've realized teachers aren't necessarily experts, but mainly just passionate about particular subjects. (And sometimes, they just got assigned to a particular module and are hacking through it... just like you.) This makes me want to engage with classroom discussions, takes the pressure off assignments (just do what the assignment asks and stop making it a head game. It actually isn't that hard!) and if you ask for help- most of them would love to offer it.

Another thing is... being a bit older makes me feel more inclined to chat with professors at times than your classmates. They'll remind you of your friends and colleagues... because, many of them will be around the similar ages. And the good news? They'll see you that way, too.

 

3. BEING 30 SOUNDS REALLY OLD TO PEOPLE IN THEIR 20's

I didn't walk into class the first semester and announce that I was married, a mom and pregnant... because that would be awkward. I just kind of did my thing. In fact, I just had fun with people in class and as I got to know them dropped in bits about my life as they came up. The moments when they realized I was older than they were by about five years, and married... and had a baby... and was pregnant, it was awesome. The look of shock and horror thrilled me every time. They genuinely felt bad for me and it genuinely made me laugh. I would have never been able to convince my 23 year old self how great life would be at 30... so I get it.

 

4. YOU WILL WORK SMARTER THAN YOU EVER DID BEFORE.

If you've ever had a crazy job or boss who demands last minute projects be assembled within an evening, all I can say is that a class assignment that has clear, written expectations and a deadline that is weeks out will seem like a luxury. You'll ask the questions you need answered so that you can produce the work you need- rather than remaining silent like you may have when the phrase "Any questions?" was offered in years past. You'll realize the value of your time in a new perspective, and you'll have become a squillion times more efficient.

 

 

5. EVERYONE WILL LOVE YOU... While SIMULTANEOUSLY NOT Actually CARE ABOUT YOU.

You'll get along with everyone, because you live above the drama. You won't have the time to be tooling around for hours before and after class, so you won't be as bonded or have the chance to have conflict. You'll just be the nice person that floats in and out of class, has their act together because you're there to learn and not socialize... and just generally get on with everyone. Though don't expect them inviting you to hang out on the weekends once they find out that you're a mom.

 


I left school today feeling that weird "Last Day of School" feeling that I hadn't felt in ten years. I forgot how excited, relieved, and sad you can feel at the same time on that day. All my friends awkwardly said goodbye with finger-crossed promises that we'd meet up at some point over the months ahead as we write our dissertations. It was one of those moments when everything was still normal and the same... but you knew was about to be over for good. There won't be a "next year" or a time when we'll all be in the same space together again. This was it. And maybe it was because I'm thirty and have lived a bit more of life at this point and have learned just how special those moments and friends end up become to you in life, but it made me a bit sappy.


I'm so thankful for the chance I got to get my Masters. It really was a dream come true, and I'm thankful to my teachers who were just SO kind. My classmates for teaching me how to do all the tech stuff I feel incompetent to do... but mainly for Tyler for not only putting up with me during this C.R.A.Z.Y. year, but championing me through it. (The man greeted me with bubbles to celebrate tonight- what a guy!)




 

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*images original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

 

Posted on March 27, 2015 and filed under school, life.

Why Are Travel Consults Are A Thing.

 

I wrote a really long post about why I started doing travel consults and why I do them. But then I re-read it, and it was boring and the word "I" occurred way more than I liked. So I erased and thought I would try again with a bit more basic approach.


WHAT ARE TRAVEL CONSULTS?

I offer travel consults for people traveling to Europe. While I don't know everything about Europe, I do live in Europe and book/lead travel for small to large sized groups for a career. I'm experienced to discuss the subject and I'm passionate about making trips great. 

Most of my travel consult services are conducted via Skype or FaceTime. These are in 45 minute or 75 minutes sessions. Typically, clients will send me an outline of their trip before the call- dates, places they want to go, questions they have, and expectations in store. From there, we schedule a call and I do a little homework to get ready for the call.

On the call, we discuss their trip- tailored to what they need and want. We work through the logistics of traveling between destinations, we plan out which sites makes sense to see on which days, of course, work in all the extra details that make a trip magical- special spots you can't find in a guide book, memorable meals, taxi companies that are the cheapest, and the like. 

 

WHAT GOOD ARE THEY?

I won't pretend that you need me involved in your trip to have a great time in Europe. This place is amazing, and I would never say that I'm any part of that magic. However, Europe can also be a very frustrating place- especially for Americans who come from a very different background and have spent thousands of dollars to be here. I've learned that having someone that can both be your advocate while also serving as a liaison to a new culture is an invaluable asset. I love getting to be that person for my students and clients- the person that gets where they come from and also helps them see things they didn't know existed.

Plus, who else can help you skip lines at the Louvre and save you £15 on getting into Westminster Abbey? Only someone who has been to these sites so many times, they know how to get the best experience from a huge variety of sites. Local and industry tips like that make a huge difference when you only have a few days to see a city.

 

WHY DO I DO THEM?

It is really awesome to use the knowledge that I have gained both professionally and personally to help people experience Europe in the best possible way. To be able to tailor a trip for someone to make it fit their hopes is awesome. Plus, a lot of the information you'll get online is generic, touristy and ... fine. You'll have a great time if you stick to the run-of-the-mill places you hear about from friends who have spent a few days here or TripAdvisor. However, you'll really get to see a special side of Europe if we work together- you'll find all the small spots that make Europe really unique while getting to see the landmarks that made it famous. 

And... let's be honest: I was getting worn out from writing so many emails to random friends and family of readers that were heading this way. It took hours of my life and I really had no connection to them at all. Now I can spend more time on less people. And that's why I've priced the consults the way I did- low enough where anyone can afford them... but also at a point where only people who are serious will book.

 


 

My March schedule is nearly FULL as people get ready for spring and summer travel, but there are still a few slots available for end of March and April. Please, contact me sooner rather than later! Some of the things you'll want to do when in Europe need to be booked sooner rather than later- so don't wait. Seriously, you know the phrase "A stitch in time saves nine?" Well, this is similar... just more like "A travel consult in time saves you fights and tears when you've showed up to Versailles with a four hour line."

 

Contact me at lauren@aspiringkennedy.com and we can see if a travel consult will be a good fit for your trip. I'll be honest if I think it would or wouldn't be- I'm not always fit for the trip you have planned.

 


 

 

*image original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on March 23, 2015 and filed under travel.

Les Enfants

When friends have babies or our nieces + nephews have birthdays, Tyler & I love finding gifts that feel reminiscent of wherever we have recently been. Not only is it more fun for us to buy, but we also hope that it, in a small way, ignites a curiosity in these kids that we love for traveling and adventures to other places.

These are a few gifts that fit in that category for me. For example, Viola loves the Madeline series and loves to talk about Paris because of it. It gives her little mind a context for a place that seems far away.

So whether it's a Union Jack lovey or a sushi play set- it is fun to be an instigator of that eye-opening. The world is such a big, lovely place, isn't it? I love sharing how great it is.


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

 

Also, I've kinda become a big fan of Barney's for children's gifts. I know that sounds fancy, but after shopping online at Target + Amazon, I realized I often could find a more unique gift at a similar price point... plus, it's from Barney's so it feels special... and has free shipping so I can add another $5 or so bucks to the gift rather than shipping. Though to be fair, not all of their gorgeous toys fall under the "logical" price point.

 

Do you have a default style or gift you like to give? I, admittedly, used to think it was cheesy, but now I kind of like the idea of it.

 


 

FOLLOW ASPIRING KENNEDY ON BLOGLOVIN

 

 

*image original to Aspiring Kennedy

*wrapping paper via Wrap.Me. (Isn't it so cute- and only £4.99 + free delivery!)

 

Posted on March 18, 2015 and filed under kids, shopping.

Mother's Day (Three-In-One)

 

Today is Mother's Day in the UK, also known as "Mothering Sunday" which is a term that makes me giggle. Since we are kind of tethered to both the US & UK celebrations of this, the celebration always ends up slightly half-hearted. Which is fine by me. I feel loved and appreciated every day by my family every day- really I do. So boiling the day down to giving me my choice of where we eat for lunch, a bouquet of roses from Tesco and a card colored by Viola is more than enough for me.

I know Mother's Day probably should stir up a lot of emotion from me, but it kind of doesn't. It feels like most any other day to me for the most part, but I've had a thought in my brain for a while. Since it's a temporal thought that won't apply forever and since it is Mother's Day, I wanted to write it down here now.

I'm a mom, right? Right. I have a daughter. But I also have a daughter that died. And I also have a son on the way. It may look like I have one kid to the world, but in my head I have three very distinct children. 

The thing is, they're just all in different places. I have one with me. One in heaven. One on the way. It's a weird reality, and one that I haven't entirely been able to reconcile. Obviously, the hope is that the one on the way soon shifts the tally, and we have two here with us. 

But for now, instead of having a big family clumped together, Tyler and I find ourselves thinking about three sweet souls so far away from the each other. 

It's hard and weird to try to explain... but I think you can probably get the jist of it. I feel like Ebeneezer Scrooge being moved between the ghosts of Past, Present & Future. One with us, one lost, one to come. 

So there you have it... a blog post with no profound wrap-up. No advice or special tip to help anyone else. I just didn't feel like Mother's Day could be over writing down my thoughts. (I guess becoming a mom makes you do weird stuff like that, eh?)

 


 

Happy Mother's Day to anyone else in the UK. 

 I may not know you, but if you're constantly

feeling as drained at the end of each day as I feel

and are as crazy about your kids as I am-

just know, I think you're doing a really good job.

 

(And to the ones in the US & elsewhere, your day is coming!)

 


 

FOLLOW ASPIRING KENNEDY ON BLOGLOVIN

 

 

*framed photo by Parisian photographer, Stacy Reeves Gulledge. | Frame c/o White Company

*image original to Aspiring Kennedy

 

Posted on March 15, 2015 and filed under babies, babies kennedy, holiday, life, kids, viola.