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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.

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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.