RLDBM

Hello, hello!

Monday marked 19 weeks (or the beginning of the 20th week) so we are halfway there. HOLY. CRAP. This is really real.

So, the baby began break dancing this week. It is definitely my very favorite (physical) part of being pregnant so far. My hope is that before we leave Tennessee the baby is moving wildly enough that family get to feel it; it is kind of doubtful but I hope for it nonetheless. (London folks, all four friends that we have here, have time later.) My favorite part of the pregnancy in general is Drew. OMG, he is so stinking cute. I love him.

Guess what I got in my email newsletter this week… Never mind, you will never guess.

19 weeks peanut

My peanut looks like a pretzel. That cannot be right.

I still have gas. I still want crazy things to eat. I still have trouble sleeping and have wild dreams. So, it’s honestly not much different than not being pregnant, haha! I do get sore in the night, but I am taking all the suggestions regarding extra pillows and getting out of bed safely… It’s all good.

So, Drew and I have a joke… Short version of how it came about:
baby mama = slang term for the mother of your baby, who you may or may not be in a relationship with or even like
baby mama drama
= slang term for the drama surrounding the usually Jerry-Springer type circumstances that surround your relationship with said ‘baby mama’
Relatively Low Drama Baby Mama (RLDBM) = me

The Jerry Springer show would go off the air if we were guests, but I do my fair share of crying and worrying (as I guess mums do). However, I seem to encounter drama every where I go. Delayed trains, deathly hot hotel rooms, taxi drivers trying to run me over, mixed up meeting days and times, rain in the middle of a sunny day… It’s just how I roll. So far, I have kept my cool and not yelled at anyone (well, except for the deathly hot hotel room incident in which I did not keep my cool-but was still very polite. I am a celebrity at that hotel; I don’t have to get rude).

Yeah. Charmed life. Shockingly strange and normal all in the same breath.

We desperately hope to do some nothing in Tennessee. We need a break. I hope we can survive the heat and the mosquitos!!

Love you all : )

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

I Am the Bomb

We have crayons and a spare room. I think that makes us pretty ready to get a flatmate in November (we’ve negotiated 21 Nov as the move-in date but babies are never on time).
crayons from jane

Unfortunately, this place looks like a bomb dropped on it. I am the bomb.

I think project ‘Have Baby’ is going to require a project plan. I have a list of resources to acquire, preparations and meetings which should be carried out at specific key timepoints, a budget to agree, and one big final deliverable to set the pace of the timelines. Before all of this can be settled, I have to correct the feng shui of this flat. At this very moment Drew is making some progress–and it’s so sexy.

I have to go.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Wind

1 noun. Gas. (Hard boiled eggs give me wind. Really, everything gives me wind; trapped wind is really uncomfortable. There’s more room out than in!)

2 verb. To burp [a baby]. (After each feed you should wind your baby.)

This Is Why

We are having a baby. Drew and me. The Huddlestons.
peanut 10 weeks

It’s been hard to put these words on the internet.
#1 These words are hard to take back.
#2 I don’t know why I deserve this good news and others don’t. (I really am my mother’s child.)
#3 My brain has been adversely affected by hormones. Exhibit A:

16 March 2011, 8.47pm
I think I need to lie down. There is a blue line. I had a glass of wine before I took the test. I will never forgive myself if anything goes wrong.

16 April 2011, 5.35pm
I feel horrible. Good news. In four more weeks I will consider getting excited.

27 April 2011, 2:00pm
I just got the most fantastic news–my best friend on the planet is having a baby! The details are fuzzy, but he is going to let me do the birth part thing. (It turns out that this is a lot of work.) As you can imagine, this has all been pretty emotional for me… In fact, I think I will eat a spoonful of peanut butter and cry for a minute. (This peanut butter would be divine on Oreos.) I have to add tissues to the grocery list.

28 April 2011, 10.30am
He is going to be such a good daddy–and he is being so incredibly sweet to me. This is a sure sign he understands better than me what I have committed to regarding this whole giving birth thing. (I have noticed I am really fat. Must get to the gym.) People at work are starting to look concerned about this maternity leave thing–yes, I really would like to work until my water breaks. Note to self: this is something Americans say which has no direct translation in UK-speak. (I wonder if there is any ginger ale hidden in the fridge).

30 April 2011, 4:17pm
It’s dawning on me that I am happy for me, too, but it is honestly a bit of shock that there are two people in my body so I am focusing on Drew’s big news for a moment… Besides, I am feeling kind of sick. It was probably the Oreos (or the olives). (Or the wrinkled Peanut dancing on my bladder.) I need a nap.

24 May 3:46pm
I am having a baby! Holy crap. (I wonder if pickles would be good dipped in ketchup. Probably. As soon as I stop feeling sick I am going to try that.) I have to make a list. And a schedule. And snuggle the baby’s daddy. Oh my God, my best friend is having and baby–and it’s mine, too! Whoa. (I wonder if Drew will kill zombies with me later.)

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Mother Mash

Sometimes a girl (and a guy) want mash. Sometimes a girl (and a guy) want mash near Carnaby Street. Mother Mash, on Ganton Street, is the answer to this need.
mother mash veg sm

You don’t have to have the vegetarian option, but it’s my fave. Mmmm.

Mash with cheese? They’ve got it. Mash with gravy? Yup. Horseradish, mustard, onions, cabbage… Uh-huh.

Next time you are in town, let me show you the way.

Yes Please

Sometimes a girl (and a guy) want mash. Sometimes a girl (and a guy) want mash near Carnaby Street. Mother Mash, on Ganton Street, is the answer to this need.
mother mash veg sm

You don’t have to have the vegetarian option, but it’s my fave. Mmmm.

Mash with cheese? They’ve got it. Mash with gravy? Yup. Horseradish, mustard, onions, cabbage… Uh-huh.

Next time you are in town, let me show you the way.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Dinner for One

My top secret job takes me to exotic places–like Leeds. Laugh all you like, but Leeds happens to be ‘the cultural, financial, and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire urban area.’ Unfortunately my top secret job most often takes me to exotic places alone (now that I am fully trained in all my ninja skills). This means that I am growing accustomed to ‘me’ time, better known as ‘Dinner for One’.
hotel restaurant

‘Dinner for One’ is not so bad–if the room service attendant remembers to open your ginger ale.
room service

Unfortunately I didn’t notice that my ginger ale was trapped in the bottle until he had left and I was well relaxed in my pajamas, sans bra. On the scales of desire, staying bra-less in my pajamas was more important than enjoying a ginger ale.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Into Focus

Two years have officially passed, speaking in terms of by-the-calendar anniversaries, but for some reason it’s the three day weekend that intimidating the hell out of me.  I’ve spent the last three days between a hotel room in Leeds and a medical clinic–buried in paper.  My stiff upper lip quivered to hear a colleague making plans to go home to care for her mum over the weekend.  And maybe I cried watching families be reunited on a BBC show…

Tonight I arrived back in the chaos of Kings Cross.  Oddly enough, I feel like I brought friends.  East Coast trains sat me at a table with gorgeous people who I might like to run into again.  The conversation wandered over the globe and stirred laughter.  I felt encouraged by these ever-wandering souls to enjoy each moment and continue looking always for more life to live.  I took it as a sign (as I do).

Eyes forward, arms open, heart willing.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Mad Mission

A year ago you came to me, like you knew that my patience for this mad mission had run out. And I have had a year to prepare for this ‘goodbye’ – which really is a ‘see you later’ – but knowing that something is coming does not make it painless.
cc and lc arriving
cc and lc

The tide has a way of advancing and receding. And circumstance has a way of shaping perspective…
cc and lc masks

You tethered me in critical moments to solid ground; you taught me to see possibilities I had not considered before. I can’t thank you enough for that.
cc and lc winchester

On days like yesterday—when feelings are far too complex for words, what I have to say comes out in cupcakes. And, well, sometimes guacamole.
guacamole fixings

cupcake mess

It’s easier to let actions speak.
red velvet cupcakes

(Or cupcakes, rather.)

Then on days like today, when I am through being strong for you—I retreat to my corner a bit broken or bruised and wrestle my thoughts onto paper.

It is hard to separate the feelings I have on your behalf and those I have for me.
cc and lc marksman

London feels lonely this morning.

I am sad to see you leave, but so thankful for what is waiting for you. While I ache with envy over your return, I guess you might feel the same about my extended stay, each of us knowing we are exactly where we ought to be… I hurt for you, understanding what ‘goodbye’ might be like. Most of all though, I do have a great peace in my heart. You are taking ‘home’ with you (and take it everywhere you go). I cannot imagine an adventure that you could not face together.

Though it has certainly been painful watching you go, it has been well worth the time (and love and laughs and lack of sleep) we had. Every star has ‘to burn itself up just to make itself alive.’ (Emily Saliers) And I think we have lots of light left.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

The Water is Wide

Suddenly the words were just–gone. It was as if The Nothing was holding my tongue…

Without intending to or understanding how, I had internalized all of the scraps of love and loss dropped by people I love. I gathered the fear of not knowing and held onto it, too. Carrying these things like weights in every pocket, and in each fist, kept me from feeling the weight of my own heart. I was full, and scared, and overwhelmed–incapacitated to draw anything from the well. I just shuffled along letting the pace of the London pavements sand my journey off the soles of my shoes.

Any mundane thing I might say seemed empty when I measured them against all of these scraps I was carrying. So I continued with silence and gathering up worry. The true stories of others are not mine to tell (and talking about it seems cheap), so I rented out my head and my heart to the project of tinkering with these bits and pieces as if there was something I could do for the people to whom they belonged. Being 4000 miles away from some, I can’t wash their dishes or take them dinner. I can’t give them my shoulder or ask for theirs in return. Being completely powerless in all cases, I cannot even offer to help them weather the storm.

So I have relegated myself to asking for blessings upon them. I have filled every space with hoping. I have asked for health, for healing, for wholeness, and for peace. And my own words have slowly seeped back in. It was music that broke the spell–and I have shaken off the shadow of guilt. I was never meant to fix things. And neither am I the judge of what is broken.

flower through pavement

‘The greatest gift of life is to know love’ and ‘we’ll make it fine if the weather holds, but if the weather holds, we’ll have missed the point.’ (All That We Let In; The Wood Song; Saliers)

‘Sometimes everything is wrong/now it’s time to sing along… Everybody hurts/You are not alone.’ (Everybody Hurts; Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipes)

‘I won’t be afraid/as long as you stand by me… whenever you’re in trouble/won’t you stand by me?’ (Stand By Me; King)

Where ever I am my heart belongs to those I love, even when it is all I have to give. Whatever I say or don’t say, whatever sits on the surface, the well is deep enough for whatever troubles you.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

The Perfect Pancake

We were in search of the perfect pancakes so we decided to inspect The Diner in Angel, Islington.
The Diner

I like the atmosphere. It’s busy, but not crowded. The staff are friendly but cool…
diner inside

The filter coffee is just what my doctor ordered. If you come early, and stay long enough, you can start with breakfast, end with lunch, and have dinner for dessert. They’ve got locally brewed beer on draught (I recommend the Camden Town Hells).

Unfortunately, we should have ordered something other than the pancakes.
pancakes at the diner
They just aren’t right. I wish they would let me come in and fix them. In no time there would be a line down the street to get in every weekend.

Next time I think I’ll have vegetarian huevos rancheros or a veggie burrito, but I haven’t given up on The Diner completely.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Presents!

Drew brought me presents from Helsinki, Finland! Yes, it does seem a little childish to be excited about coloring books, but I can’t think of a better thing to do than color after a Sunday lunch at the pub. (I was never one to be wild.)

muumiem coloring book

And don’t they go nicely with these lovelies from Jane?
crayola crayons

Apparently Drew took a walk on the frozen Baltic sea…
frozen baltic sea

It really is breathtaking.
snowy frozen baltic sea

And he is a way better photographer than me to start with!

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Nice to Meet You, Harrogate!

I arrived to Harrogate late on Wednesday night because I had a meeting out of the office that morning. When I got to the The Balmoral hotel I decided that I needed to stay in Harrogate for a long time.
The Balmoral

The Balmoral Harrogate Grille

The Balmoral Superior Room

It took a lot of effort to leave this room for dinner (and even more effort to climb out of bed for breakfast the next morning). But because I did venture out with my colleagues, I got to enjoy some of Harrogate’s charm. Chinese restaurant in a bath house?! Why not?
Chinese restaurant in a bath house

A pint of local ale at Hales Bar, the oldest pub in Harrogate? Yes, indeed.
Hales Bar Harrogate

A short pause at Bettys Tea Room… Maybe next time.
bettys tea room harrogate

We had a lovely dinner at Le Jardin. The food and the staff were absolutely lovely. It couldn’t have been better.

I also found Harrogate’s sense of humor.
wine rack

Unfortunately, there was no time for the spa. Don’t worry Harrogate, I’m coming back for you.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Titbits and Rambling

I can remember the last time I had a really good time at work…
titbits shop in singapore

…but I can’t remember the last time my day job was satisfying. Until now.

Maybe it is just part of being in the honeymoon stage when everything seems nice. Maybe I am relieved by simply having made a change. Is it so wrong to hope that I’ve actually found a breath of air that is just the right temperature for this moment in my life?

Steady on.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

I’ll Be There Now In a Minute

I was in Cardiff (Wales) all last week; I saw green. And hills. Now I am thinking I should go back–on a non-business adventure.

While I wasn’t working, I was here.
park plaza

Unfortunately, I didn’t see George’s Marvelous Medicine.
georges marvelous medicine

I didn’t see it at The New Theatre two doors down from my hotel.
new theatre

I’ll be honest; I am disappointed about that. However, the trip was a big success. I squeezed four different types of on-site training into my schedule. Soon, they are going to let me loose on my own. Scary.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Times Like These

I am so glad to be home, even after a wonderful experience in Cardiff.

travel bags

It was especially nice to come home for a big date with my hero (that would be Drew). From Dave Grohl to me, to you:

‘It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again’

I am thankful, I am grateful, and I am full. More on that story tomorrow.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Dinner in Wales

I haven’t yet been to Torchwood headquarters, but I did find the Carousel in Cardiff.
Carousel in Cardiff

It has been grey, with the constant threat of rain, but the green of the hills is such a welcome sight. I really look forward to coming back to Cardiff on my own time. And have dinner with The Dales–I know they are here somewhere… (I am so tired that I am making up a song in my head about dinner with The Dales somewhere else in Wales.) Now that you are singing a song, too, “goodnight John Boy”.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Dr Who, Where Are You?

Taylor is going to be disappointed to hear that I’ll be in Cardiff all week for business–and that my business is not co-starring in an episode of Dr Who. I’ve only stood outside the Tardis, I’m afraid.

dr who polica call box

I’ll do what I can to get noticed while I am there. You never know when The Doctor might need my help–or when Captain Jack might know a smart girl when he sees her… After all, I am pretty important these days–being a Clinical Research Scientist and all.

So, um… Leave your message at the beep.

Beep.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Other People’s Children

Girls in wacky tights look good in photos with babies.
kassi maggie jen

See, what did I tell you?

Some day, I won’t have to borrow other people‘s gorgeous children. For now though, it is a pretty sweet deal. That’s my girl Kassi on the left and baby Maggie on the right. Maggie’s mom and dad were on a date, but my other Thomas family members are there. (You might have to squint.)

The point is that I’ve been thinking about this whole baby thing. I am not thrilled with the wait or the struggles of late, but I am also scared stiff that I might find myself in fast forward. Maybe the best thing to do is figure out what lesson I am supposed to have learned and just get in the flow. That seems to be where all the cool cats are hanging these days… In the flow.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

In the Bag

It’s not my birthday yet this year and Christmas has gone. Valentine’s Day is overrated, Easter is several rainy weeks away, and Mother’s Day isn’t my day this year. Besides, we don’t exchange gifts for holidays…

So what is in the box?
tissot watch present

This is what. A Tissot. Just because.
tissot watch present pr 100

Suddenly I feel like a grown-up. A grown-up who is loved by another grown-up. Isn’t it lovely?

Thank you, sweetheart. You are spoiling me. (But please don’t stop.)

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Everybody Hurts

Without perspective, it is so easy to become disenchanted with my circumstances. On certain gray and rainy days I want to blame various entities, corporate and otherwise, for all the misery in my life.
stormy sky
That is usually when lightening strikes. Unmissable signs.

I forget how incredibly lucky I am. I am not smarter, better bred, or exceptionally educated, yet I have been afforded the opportunity to own a home, drive a brand new car, live abroad, work abroad… Yes, we’ve experienced some really rotten things. But we are not special in that way. Everybody hurts.

‘If you suffer, thank God! It is a sure sign that you are alive.’ Elbert Hubbard

We’ll never know what could have been different had we never sold our house and crossed the ocean.
broken fence

But if I just open my eyes, there are signs everywhere that I am supremely fortunate.
canal in summer

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Tongue Tied and Tired

There are days when my own words won’t take shape. On those days I find myself clinging to the words of others… Today it is Chris Rice’s turn.

‘Every day is a journal page;
every man holds a quill and ink.
There’s plenty of room for writing in
all we do and believe and think…
So will you compose a curse,
or will today bring the blessings?
Fill the page with rhyming verse?
Or some random sketchings?

Teach us to count the days;
teach us to make the days count–
Lead us in better ways
that somehow our souls forgot.

…Every day is a gift you’ve been given; make most of life–every minute you’re living.’

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Lollipop People

You are going think I am making this up, but local communities in Britain are outraged by budget cuts which may eradicate Lollipop people. It’s not a joke; it just sounds like one.

You see, Lollipop people are legitimate contributors to our society. Because they are actually crossing guards.

Dorset County community members have started a blog to raise awareness.

The BBC is reporting on action taken in Lowestoft.
lollipop people protest
photo credit: BBC news website

The Independent is ringing this bell, too.

I could take this issue seriously if they would stop bloody saying ‘Lollipop people!’

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Yield

As hard as we may try to stop it, the seeds will sprout. Doubt, fear, frustration, joy, hope, love… Whatever your heart sings deserves to be heard.

‘It takes a lot to keep it going/
It takes a lot to keep it real/
Take some time for yourself and learn to yield’
– Amy Ray

grass through pavement

Let it speak; listen in earnest. And then let it go.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Happy Birfday to Me

One time, last March, I turned 30. (Sorry, it is less exciting than what happens at band camp, but I can tell you those stories later.)
jen turns thirty
That’s me. I was 30. I am still 30 for a little while.

Well, last March Drew got me a limited edition screen print from a very secret store, Secret Agent Sarah Kramer’s mastermind idea.
secret society store

It’s where the good work of saving unicorns is being done.
unicorn t shirt for vegans

Well, the point is that we have finally had this beauty framed. I think she is trying to tell me something.
secret society of vegans

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

365

Drew has begun a photography project – a partner in crime to our dear friend Elsa. He plans to post a new photo every day for 365 days. In itself, that is quite a commitment.

I am not sure that either one of us knew that I would feel like each image is speaking to me.
ivy through fence

I am sure it wasn’t his intention.
moss of rooftop

But somehow I do feel so personally affected…
purple flowers

It’s kind of like those movie posters where the eyes follow you everywhere… only, being slightly less creepy than all that.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Much Ado

It’s nice to have people in town to remind us how much there is do to and see in this big, wide city. Having a snuggle bunny at home can cloud the mind. Did you just throw up in your mouth a little? Yeah, I know where it hurts.

I have some adventurous friends, but Candace gets major brownie points after this weekend’s big art event. It remains her story to tell, but I am so glad to have been at the front lines.
jen and candace

And Lee has trip planning mojo. Besides, he understands my sickness.
lee and paper

It is pretty inspiring to spend time with people who are so energetic about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. They aren’t just dreaming it; they are feet first! May it rub off on me…

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Songs About Jane

When that big truck left a bump on my head, Jane got a very bright idea.  A very bright idea, indeed.

120 crayons

Just look at them…
close up crayons

They are absolutely lovely.  I spent an hour arranging them by color.  Ok, I was sniffing them.  It is almost the exact same thing.

In contrast, there was this apron; you might see how these things compliment each other.

apron

And then this…  Oh, how I love them.
book

See Jane outdo herself.  Why should I be so loved?

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Like Rabbits

The Chinese New Year celebration in London is the second largest in the world. Renowned for the magnificent Lion and Dragon performance in Trafalgar Square and the street market atmosphere in China Town, London is the place to celebrate this occasion, if you can’t be in China that is.

Just look at this amazing dragon at Trafalgar Square!
trafalgar square chinese new year

[Ahem.] Or look at the crowd of people looking at a crowd of people looking at the dragon… It’s almost the same as seeing the dragon. Better, probably. Health and safety and all that.

In China Town the lanterns were most certainly hung and the crowd was festive!
chinese new year 2011

[Cough.] Or they weren’t. Maybe they were being herded like cattle in circles. That sounds right.

But there was a cool Christmas tree.
tao tree

[Snicker.] It’s totally not a Christmas tree. But I got closer to it than the dragon.

With this attitude, you can imagine why I wasn’t allowed to have a balloon.
ballon rabbit

Hmmph. Happy New Year, anyway.

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Yes Please

A few blocks North of the Camden Passage tourist’s check-box hot spot eatery, Angel has hidden a fab new pub in plain sight.
wenlock and essex pub

The Wenlock and Essex serves a selection of Camden Town’s finest brews, but they don’t stop there. One of your top five favorite frosty beverages is sure to be on offer.
drinks at wenlock and essex

And we would be remiss not to mention the Sunday Roast menu… Love.ly.
winter veg pie

Are you busy next weekend?
thrills

We have an idea…

www.drewandjengotolondon.com

Jane’s Balls

There doesn’t need to be a reason, but Drew’s awesomeness is as good a reason as any I can think of to make Jane’s Balls.
janes balls

I don’t know what kind of crack she puts in hers that makes them so much better than mine, but they are and always will be. This run has been fairly successful, though. With constant practice, one day she might hire me to work as one of her pastry chefs…

www.drewandjengotolondon.com