Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New name, new look.

It's only been FIVE MONTHS since the last header update, and yet I've already made a new one!  You're impressed, I know.

And I felt that it was time to change the name.  It's been years since the UPS ad campaign that the previous name was based on. 

So we've parted ways with What can Brown blog for you? and have moved on.

It's time for a new name for our new adventure.

The new header was a quick-n-dirty combo of Instagram pics and Picasa's free collage-maker.  Here's a post that inspired me to use this method.  I may never go back... this was just too easy.

Monday, July 30, 2012


We've got ourselves a bit of a hoarder.

She stacks.  She gathers.  She doesn't share well really loves her toys.

She also climbs, and gets stuck, a lot.  But that's unrelated.

Back to the lovies.  It started with this little pink dog.  Lovey Dog.   He has experienced lots of love and kisses and strangle-hold grips and all-night cuddles.

Over the last 6 months, the number of essential nighttime lovies has grown to 5.

Lollies (Lovey Dog and his cousin, Lovey Blue)
Da (a stuffed dog from IKEA)
A cross between Tankies and Duckies (what she calls her two "blankies")

We now refer to the entire group as her entourage.

Her little arms are wrapped around them each night.

And in the morning, she gathers all five items up onto her lap and all-but-refuses to leave any behind.  The next 15 minutes are spent taking a running inventory of all five items, and attempting to carry them all at the same time.

Let's just say it's a lot like this.

Oh sweet babyhood.  While we are trying to learn the difficult skill of leaving such important possessions in our cribs, I do enjoy the link (or shall we say stranglehold?) she still has to babyhood.  May it last a long time.  I'm not willing to let her grow up too fast.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Purge, baby, purge.

As we are preparing for a major overseas move in the next six weeks, we're quickly coming to terms with the fact that we have a lot of stuff.  A LOT.

Some will go with us to London.

Some will stay here, stored in our basement. 

And the rest is headed out of our lives.

Anyone looking for a old clothes of the Brown family?  We just sent a Subaru-full to Goodwill this past weekend.  At least 10 garbage bags full.  It's obscene, especially since we have lots of clothes remaining in our closets and drawers.  And we have yet to go through baby clothes, books, luggage, toys, or linens.  We're expecting to take at least two more full-car runs.

How in the WORLD do we accumulate so much stuff?

It's sobering.  And a little disgusting.

And yet purging?  Feels great.  Like shedding a few pounds.

We COULD use a little help, however, Internet friends...

1. What are your favorite purging secrets/methods/techniques/tips?  We're all ears.  

For the most part, we're trying to think through A) have we used it in the last year, or B) do we really love it and hope to use it again?  If both can be answered in the negative, we're basically letting it go.  But I'm sure y'all have some more thoughts on this matter.

2.  For our Columbus friends: Are there any good charities/shelters/crisis pregnancy centers/etc. where we should donate?  Specifically some of the baby stuff we're not taking?  I'm happy with Goodwill and what they're up to, but if there are other organizations collecting, say, toys for the under-three-year-old set, we'd be happy to send some things their way.

3. How, once you purge, do you resist temptation to fill your life with stuff again?  While ideally I love the concept of a simplified lifestyle, in reality new stuff always seems to make its way into our lives.  

Thanks, friends! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Sugar and spice and all that's nice.

Times two.

That's because we're having another...
We couldn't be more thrilled.

And she looks great. All parts in working order. Praise the Lord for this tremendous, if unexpected, gift.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

And we chose...


We purposely tried not to appear too biased in the last post, but we really liked #4 from the moment we walked in.


We appreciate the light and layout and size and style. And location. Big time. It's pretty close to downtown Richmond (meaning a 5-10 minute walk to the grocery store, restaurants, and the train station) AND next door to a great park/playground area. And as any mother of toddlers knows, access to space to let them romp around and tire themselves out is crucial to daily survival.

Is the second floor/stroller/two babies thing going to be a pain? Yes. However, in about five months I'm going to need to work off some major baby weight (thanks, Pei Wei!) so a few stairs will do me good. In any case we feel totally humbled and blessed to have such a great place waiting for us when we arrive. We definitely don't deserve to be this spoiled. It isn't furnished, so we'll either pack up some of our stuff from Ohio and ship it, or else fill 'er up with a bunch of cute furniture from Sweden. Stil working out those details, but either way we're excited about it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

House Hunters International: London

We toured lots of properties last week on our house hunting trip.  Some were really nice, others less so.  Some larger and farther away from things, some closer and smaller.  Old Victorians converted into apartments and newer construction town houses.  Due to the fact that that Josh will be commuting to the suburbs, we looked in areas of town in the direction of his office that are still connected to the rest of the city via the Underground (the Tube).  All of the places we looked will involve a half hour train/Tube ride to the heart of London. 

While most House Hunters shows reveal three options, we're going to do four.  Just for fun.

And now, like the last time, let me morph into my Suzanne Whang persona:

Option 1 is located in Richmond, their ideal neighborhood, and is near the local transit station.  This flat covers the ground floor and basement of the building, which will make for easy access in and out with two small kids.  They liked the open concept living room/dining room/kitchen, and appreciated the extra basement room that could be used for a play room or guest room.  The master bathroom was large and opened onto a small courtyard.  While the courtyard was private and quiet, it was very small, and there was no other outdoor space. 

Exterior (flat covers just the main floor):

Kitchen/Dining/Living Room:

Master bedroom with access to a private little garden:

Basement extra room:

Option 2 is in a historic 18th century building and retains some original features.  The flat boasts large rooms throughout.  While it does not have an open floor plan, the kitchen does enter onto a semi-private garden, and there is a large park right across the road.  It is located near the darling Wimbledon Village, but is farther away from public transit than they'd like to be. The decor was largely shabby chic, which isn't their preferred style, but it had a certain English cottage charm.

Exterior (flat on bottom floor):

One of the bedrooms (fun chandeliers in every room - bonus!):


Another bedroom:

Outdoor area:

Option 3 is located near Kew Botanical Gardens.  While it is the largest and newest property on their list, it is the farthest from the train and will involve the longest commute.  It is located in a little community that has pretty grounds, great areas to play outside, and easy access to a trail along the river.  However, it's a tall and skinny townhouse, spread over four floors.  This means that the kitchen is on the ground floor, while the living room is one floor up.  It does include a garage (which is pronounced similar to "carriage") which is rare and would be helpful.

Exterior (notice FOUR floors):

Family Room:

Josh walking out of the family room:


Pretty landscaping:

Option 4 is located just across the Thames River from charming Richmond.  The flat is located on the second floor of an old mansion that has been long since been converted to apartments.  They liked the updated feel of the place and proximity to parks, a river trail, and a playground.  While the kitchen is a bit closed off, the entire flat seems open and bright due to light paint colors, high ceilings, and lots of windows.  A major drawback, however, is the fact that tenants aren't able to keep anything on the main floor, and any trip outside for us will involve lugging a stroller (aka pushchair or buggy) down a flight of stairs.
Exterior (it's the on the left side, middle floor): flat1

Master bedroom:

Kitchen (and what a fun light fixture!  I'd never be that bold, but I do like it)

Living Room:

Odd middle-of-the-flat room which connects all other rooms. flat3

So which one do you think we chose?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Last week, before we left for our London house hunting trip, we enjoyed a visit from Josh's grandparents, whom we refer to Nana and Poppa Brown.  They spend their summers in Michigan, and drove down to see us in Ohio for a couple of days.

You know, they had to get in some play time with their one and only great-grandchild before her mean parents take her away to a foreign country for a couple of years!

On Monday while Josh was working, Caroline and I took them to COSI, the local children's museum/science center.  Caroline and I showed Nana and Poppa all around, especially the "Little Kids Space" where Caroline likes to push buttons to get fake animals to make farting and burping noises.  Of course.

Of all of the many amazing play areas in the whole of COSI, this is her #1 favorite.  Go figure.


Anyway, we also enjoyed a couple of dinners with Nana and Poppa, and even got in some additional play time in our backyard. Poppa Brown was so sweet to catch Caroline coming off of the slide over and over again. I don't know who seemed to enjoy it more.
We so enjoyed their visit!

Nana and Poppa, thank you for coming to see us!

Monday, July 2, 2012

London Calling

If you're looking for something other than a post filled with touristy shots of London, move right along.  That's all we've got.

That's because we arrived here Saturday morning and don't have to house hunt until tomorrow, Tuesday.  So we've been taking advantage of our free time and exploring the city.  If you know Josh, you know this is his favorite thing to do in the world.


We've explored huge rambling markets, had traditional "Sunday Roast" for dinner, surveyed the future Olympic park, snooped through grocery stores (no, they do NOT sell yellow box Cheerios), and spent significant time attempting to find free WiFi signals, so that we can FaceTime a bit with our little girl back at home. 

Most people might choose to visit the British Library to check out King George III's personal collection of books and pamphlets. We went because we'd read that you could hop on the Internet for free.  The travel book did not lead us astray, and we were able to watch Caroline sit on top of my parents' kitchen table and eat Cheerios.  Worth the trip to the Library.

We've really enjoyed walking around town, enjoying the sights, and dreaming about what it will be like to live here pretty soon.

In addition to all kinds of tourist-friendly and WiFi-friendly activities, we've had the opportunity to take the Tube out to some of the neighborhoods we think we're interested in living.  So far, so good!  Our two favorites are just as charming as we'd thought they'd be.  I'm really looking forward with checking out real live places with a real live real estate agent tomorrow.  It will give us a much better feel for what's really out there.  Plus, we can only see the surface-level stuff about a neighborhood by walking around for an hour.  A London resident will be able to tell us about areas to avoid, bad intersections for traffic, etc.

Today's agenda?  For Josh, it's going into the office and meeting his future boss.

For me, it's shopping.  That's fair, right?  Maybe not.  Other than H&M, I'm woefully ignorant about stores here.  Am I going to find myself walking into the equivalent of Saks or Kohls?  What's on par with Macy's?  Or Banana Republic?  Where does one buy baby equipment or maternity clothes?  Hopefully today's adventures will give me a better idea.  In any case, it should be fun.