Categories
New Jersey, USA New York City, USA

Holiday Happiness Part 1: East Coast Edition

No one will dispute it when I say we made the very most of our time on the East Coast. We stepped off the plane and into Girl Car Mania day one. Ok, we had to give cuddles to Uncle Shug and Trina first, but then Girl Car Mania!!! Addie hosted as is tradition, and partners and aunties and babies and bagels were in abundance.

I didn’t know how much I needed one-on-one time with my girls until Ad and Jules met me at my old haunt, Cafe Latte. I could exhale. I could listen with two ears and soak up the intelligence and beauty of these two Capaldi sisters. And I mean beauty shining in sweats and just brushed teeth since they ran out of their apartments and cabbed to meet me from the moment Saya went down for her nap.

Saya was crawling around Uncle Shug’s apartment, curiously examining the rug when I returned from Cafe Latte. What a sweet Sunday morning! As we packed up for New Jersey transit, Shug snapped these pictures of us. It was so nice of him to capture our family in motion.

We arrived in Jersey to Peyton and Avery holding a sign for Baby Saya, welcoming their newest cousin to Maplewood. It was a flurry of hugs and happy tears. Uncle Kyle was limited to stealing cuddles with Saya when Peyton and Avery were at school or taking baths. They were taking cousin love to a new level, and Uncle Kyle wasn’t allowed to intervene if they had anything to say about it!

Kyle and Nadine graciously hosted a Conn College reunion at Ball Terrace! The entire house was alive energy and laughter. We can’t believe everyone fit on the couch for this one.

We had a playdate with the Freeds and relived some of our ‘Bourton-on-the-Water’ memories. We were able to see Ryan and Jared’s new bedroom set up, and stay for quick dinner. We had another evening to visit Steph and Ricky’s new digs, while Tati Nadine held it down with Saya-chan.

It was touching to watch Corey introduce Saya to his childhood home for the first time. It felt good in my heart. It reminded me that I stopped keeping track of ‘Saya’s firsts’ at some point and that this trip would be a good time to take notice again. Lots of “first time meeting ___ (insert wonderful people here)”.

During Thanksgiving, Mama Margaret made magic in her household, hosting people for at least four days in a row with her cooking and her storytelling. Saya’s illness was at its height in Ewing, but no one let that stop them from sweeping her up to give her their love and warmth.

Roll on with our reunions: George School was next. In New Hope, our chosen family gathered and swooned at the next generation playing together right before our eyes. The Noble/Blattner household had toys and games for all ages… yes, including 30-somethings reverting back to their teenage years.

Having all of the cousins for a second Thanksgiving on Friday evening was a treat. We were thankful that both Kyle and Tania made the drive to Ewing so everyone could be together. Corey had to leave early the next morning so it was a sweet sendoff for him, too.

Saya and I stayed on for a few more days with Mama Margaret, and she experienced her first snow on our final morning. She also pulled up to standing for the first time in Mama Margaret’s kitchen! We spent one more day at Uncle Kyle and Tati Nadine’s to conclude Saya’s first-of- many epic East coast trips.

Categories
Broadstairs, England New York City, USA Quantico, USA Washington, DC

LonSum 2.0 July: Summertime Magic

“You are my only one| Just dancin’, havin’ fun | Out in the shinin’ sun of the summer|
Of the summer….” –Childish Gambino, July 2018


This month filled my cup, both literally and lovingly, with friends and family and football.  The World Cup brought so much energy to each day with football comin’ home, as the Brits sang night after night throughout the tournament.  And flying to the east coast again meant I could refuel on the support and comfort of my people before starting a new role in August.

Like last month, first I want to welcome these three bundles of joy! Lisa & Jared’s first, Erica & Brian’s first, and Susan and Porf’s second.  I’ve yet to meet you all, but Auntie Miko can’t wait for some snuggles!


Corey and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary at a small beach town called Broadstairs, on the Southeast coast of the country.  We booked incredibly last minute, and I think we wound up with the last B&B room in the town.  With the sun shining, and the World Cup in full swing, everyone was getting out of the city and heading to the beach.  There were quirky decorations in the B&B, but the breakfast and garden were completely worth it.  The first meal though had to be fish and chips right before the England match! See below for the reaction after the win!

The two beaches on either side of the main shore were much smaller but less of a circus.  The first evening, we enjoyed a small gastropub, and ended up taking our glasses of wine in ‘to-go’ coffee cups so we could stroll the beach at sunset.

We ate fried eggs, tomato pastries, and grilled peaches alongside a 10 year old and her mom who were away on a girls weekend. So sweet!  The little girl also hipped Corey on how to find crabs in the sand, which was a success.


I’m pretty proud that my plans for this stint of vacation worked out….basically flawlessly.  We were able to see my sister in Quantico, Virginia, reunite with Momma Margaret and The Scott Bynoe family in DC, and then celebrate at back to back weddings in NYC.  The absolute best!

There’s aren’t many tourist attractions in Quantico, VA, but when your sister and brother-in-law and niece and nephews move there from across the country, it is a wonderful place to visit!  They have so much space in their new house, and even when I showed up just 3 weeks after their arrival, they had the place looking like home.  I was so happy to get one-on-one time with Nicole, meet Andrew for the first time (my two year old nephew), and have personal tours of Nate and Abby’s rooms!  You can see I’m in auntie heaven!

When Uncle Corey showed up a day later, he upped the ante on the trampoline, and provided some great laughs at the dinner table.  Nicole and Rob made it feel like real summer with our first bbq of the season.

 

Our final day we were able to see the Marine Museum near the base, and we had some serious Americana eats at Chick-fil-A and The Waffle House!


The train from Quantico to Washington DC was an easy one, and we were welcomed with the biggest hugs from Marvin, Eula, and Mr Livingston Tyree Scott Bynoe.  Our plans to all meet up at the National Museum of African American History and Culture were actually happening! There was so much to share and too much to smile about.  The first evening was low key with lots of updates about work and family and obviously this little button, Livi.

Mrs Spells arrived the next morning and we had our first day at the museum. It is a MUST SEE!  You experience every emotion on the floors of the museum.  There is so much to take in which is why I highly suggest two things: 1) you need reservations and you have to book months in advance, and 2) book at least two days to visit.  We made our way through two bottom floors of the slavery, reconstruction and 100 years up through the civil rights movement.  You have to take a break after this, and the lunch time canteen is a treat, so take care of yourself.

After lunch, it was Eula’s idea to visit one of the top floors before heading out for the day.  This is another recommendation to add to your list: end on an uplifting note and visit floor 6 (music, culture, and all the influences!) We had another night full of laughter and swapping stories.

On the morning of day two, my second favorite memory at the museum happened on the dark and devastating ground floor.  Mrs Spells’ fingers traced a route on a map of where ships left the coast of West Africa to a Carolina port.  She predicted that one route could be the same her ancestors might have traveled based on where she knew some of her family had settled.  Corey read aloud from the map placard that along these routes, only about 50% of African slaves reached the American plantations.  After slaves were shackled, they walked from their native lands to the slave ships, outlasted the middle passage, and were sold to plantation owners– a miracle that anyone was still alive.  Yet Corey stood next to his mom and shared that he found strength in really thinking about how much it would take to survive through all of that.  That it was a powerful thought for him.

We lost Marvin and Eula much earlier on the ground floor, and the three of us ended up on the fourth floor where my favorite memory occurred at the museum.  The fourth floor is the reference and education center.  The staff member let Corey and Mrs. Spells have the last slot for the day at the ancestry computers.  I peeked over the shoulders of Corey and his mom as they accessed the museum archives to do a search of their family tree.  Through the census and other historical documents, Corey clicked here and there and Margaret pointed out names of cousins and great grandparents.  It was inspiring and sobering to think about how far their family has come, and how much has been lost in the process.  They got as far back as Virginia, to Mrs Spells’ great great grandfather and still couldn’t retrieve any data that would indicate where their roots might be in Africa.

We learnt our lesson from the first day, and ended with the final two floors.  They are full of vibrant history about sports, medicine, academics, fashion and influence. We saw Dapper Dan’s name inscribed in the fashion section, and Mrs. Spells wondered at the old hot combs and hair products.  The records room was well-curated, I had to double back to the room dedicate to Mary McLeod Bethune.  If I’m honest, there really was another day to be had on these top floors!  We left in the rain but it couldn’t bring us down. We had our last meal together at an Ethiopian restaurant, complete with tej!

Two things I forgot to mention: We saw the special exhibition at the NMAAHC museum on Oprah and it was dope.  I learned just how far she’s come and it’s nothing short of inspiring.  Corey and I also took a short trip to the National Portrait Gallery to see the Obama portraits. Yes! I didn’t think I’d want to spend much more time in the Gallery than to see them, but I’d definitely put it on my list when I return to DC in the future.


When we visit New York, we usually split time because we want to see so many people. I caught up with Glenn over a meal at our favorite spot, Thai Market, and Corey met up with friends further downtown.  We spent the following day not surprisingly eating our way through NYC.  Silvana for late breakfast, Hill Country BBQ for a late lunch, and Pio Pio to celebrate Marty and Lizzy’s engagement.

Wedding Weekend!

I got some great one-on-one time with Stabs on the train upstate, and we arrived with Caitlin and Dominic to a hotel that wasn’t quite prepared for how we roll during weddings.  Anne and Chris were married in a picturesque field, and the rain showers stopped just before the ceremony.  The toasts were touching (especially from siblings), the dancing was live, and the doughnuts…were devoured…numerous times by yours truly.

From the farm & country back to the city, we celebrated Peyton and Jamila in Harlem, at a venue called Solomon & Cuff (right next to KIPP Infinity).  I couldn’t spend enough time with the GS fam as there was so much to catch up about.  There were many memorable moments from having Peyton’s mom as the officiant, to Corey and the Maid of Honor’s improv / skit- speech, but really it was Peyton and Jamila’s vows that took one’s breath away.  They were moving and personal, and as guests, we were all a part of their truth.

The best part of both weddings this weekend were that they felt true to the people joining in partnership.  I started this post with reference to Summertime Magic-  it could be the dizzying heat of Virginia, DC, and NYC, but I’d prefer to think of it as the vibes and connections that we get when making these memories.

 

 

Categories
London, England

LonSum 2.0 June: A Whole New World

There are incredible things about living in London, but I (dramatically) say that one of the tradeoffs of all this ‘wonderfulness’ is forgoing warm weather in June, July, and August.  However, this summer was a whole new world!  The sun was out for consecutive days!  The temperature was 27-28 degrees (yes, that’s Celsius).  London summer was impressive this year, and the next three posts will string together the highlights for each month, and the memories made in LondonSummer2018.


A big welcome to these sweet peas!  Tasady-Mae and Andrae Gray Junior (AJ) who turned one month old in June. And a happy day of birth to Zachariah Abiade!


One of the first posts of the LondonForrest blog included my trip to Mighty Memphis, and this June I returned for ‘The Final Countdown’.  Nibette, Kwaku, Cole, and Nina were moving to San Diego, and had planned an epic week of events to close out their time in Tennessee.  Both sets of grandparents, as well as Bette’s grandmother and siblings also made the journey for five days of celebration!

We had a great time at their leaving do with friends and colleagues sharing stories about how much Nibette and Kwaku would be missed.

Cole turned five, and we partied at the Children’s Museum, complete with a splurge on merry-go-round tickets for everyone.

Nina was baptized in a beautiful, and progressive church.  Nibette’s family hosted a small luncheon afterwards, complete with Nina’s outfit change.

In between all this action, we also packed up their house, and took Cole and Nina to their final doctor appointments before signing off in Tennessee.

And it wouldn’t be a complete post, if I didn’t share how well they are getting the hang of the San Diego lifestyle.


At the end of June, we took a trip to NYC to celebrate Adam and Alison’s nuptials.  The trip was faster than a New York minute but we filled the time with our dear friends!  Corey went straight to see Jelani at Dap’s shop, and I went straight to the park to for a girl car meet up: Addie & Siena, Jill & Emi, Evin & Ellis, Court, and Pregnant P.  IT WAS HOT, but so good to snuggle with the newest generation of girl car.  We retreated to Jill’s flat with A/C, rose, and ice waters.  Then Sayuri and Joe hosted the group for pesto pasta dinner. Luka inspired us with his knowledge of the symbiotic relationship between crabs and marine iguanas, and Alec gave us the giggles with his composer-like hairstyle.

I met Corey on the LES at Las’Lap to see Scott’s rum bar after months of planning and construction.  The spot looked great, and what a night for a summer evening in the city.  Got to hang out with Mike, Flop, Free and Peyton as well as Caroline, and Jules, who came out after a play.  The only downside was the sheer surprise of the hangover the next morning!

I’ve not been that ‘flat’ since… I can’t remember.  The trek to Jersey was basically me being cracky and inept entire way.  Corey got us to the Freed household, and on the way to Long Island, I slept in the car rather than caught up.  Our Airbnb was only a ten minute walk to an empty beach.  By the time we arrived, I was more human-like.  We took a quick trip to lay out, and then navigated to the Friday night dinner with close friends and family.  Adam was made to host a wedding. He’s got a light that makes you feel like you’re the most special guest.

We found a quintessential American diner on Saturday morning and ate huge plates of hashbrowns and omelets.  We used the afternoon to layout, and I took the opportunity to take a nap to prep for the party that evening.  The wedding was at an incredible vineyard, and we enjoyed the ceremony complete with Adam’s tears of happiness, and Matilda strutting in a flower wreath (their bulldog).  The cocktail hour had an incredible spread! We also enjoyed the live band, and it was nice to get some good hangout time with the small group of George school and Conn college friends.

Congrats to Adam and Alison!


Work Updates:

Eula Scott Bynoe is delivering her second top-quality podcast, Battle Tactics for your Sexist Workplace.  Everyone needs this in their life.  After you listen, I can’t wait to talk about your insights and responses.  It’s already across the pond and taking Londontown by storm.

Corey had his first work trip to Stockholm and impressed his new client when he selected Princen as the lunch meeting spot, as it shows he knows the area’s good eats.  It also helped he ran into an old colleague at Princen making it seem like such a small world.  Corey would also like you to know that he’s mastered his personal settings on Outlook after just a week of learning the new program.

In June, I was wrapping up with my final group of teachers before deciding to apply to the new role as a professional tutor, which puts me into an assessment role with a permanent portfolio of trainees. *Spoiler alert: I got the job 😉 !


Food Updates (is this even a category?!) Sam treated me to a meal at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant on a summer evening, and Aisha & Ismoyla joined us for our first time at Roti King– a Malaysian restaurant that is now on our top eats in London list.  We ate it up so quickly that there is no evidence of the roti, noodles, and laksa.  The e5 Bakehouse was a treat for lunch, and the bread was divine.  Another to add to the list of top eats.  Casa do Frango soft-opening meant every dish was half off so I ordered half the menu!  But this meal didn’t stick out as anything special.  Finally, Ellie brought masa from Cali so we’ve been tinkering with our own tortillas. ( I need to get my priorities straight; my friends to food pictures ratio is sub-par!)

Categories
Dubai, UAE Dublin, Ireland

Dubai & Dublin Double Layover

If it wasn’t obvious, we didn’t want to leave Khoka Moya. At all. But we knew that our two day layover back to London meant we’d need to stick to our original travel plans.

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Categories
London, England United Kingdom

LonSum 2: Join Us in July

9th July: Corey and I celebrated our one year anniversary this month. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year. In fact, we are both terrible.  We kept accidentally booking events and hang-outs with friends and then had to cancel because we’d remember it was actually our anniversary on Sunday.  Were we forgetful because so many people were traveling to London in July and we were just overly-excited about visitors?  We finally had to put the date into our calendars as we were clearly not very good at remembering anniversaries.  While the anniversary bit is a work in progress, we never tire of talking about how our friends and family made our wedding day so special. We had the BEST TIME EVER, and we will reminisce about it whenever we can.