Thursday, September 22, 2016

CREATING INVIGORATES!




Part two! Consider this a second part to my post about creativity (the first one here). This is me elaborating on the theory that the reason to keep in pursuit of creativity is that because being creative, a.k.a. trying to regard even the simple and small things as a creative practice, invigorates! And by invigorate I mean that it makes you feel like you are living out your life purpose. 

I've jotted down the ways that I practice this in my own life thees days and this is what I came up with (hefty and long!): 

1) One of the main ways I try to engage this way is in parenting. This makes up a major part of what I do and think about these days, and being mindful about it can be the difference between it draining me and it restoring me.  One of the ways it comes into play is in the traditional sense. Having a four-year-year-old means that when she colors or paints or draws, that I get to do it with her too. It becomes something that we can do together, and also something that I can do in a therapeutic sort of way.  I would never have thought to do this or given myself the time to do this if I didn't have a child who regularly engaged in this activity, but it does wonders to soothe and relax me. Another way that creativity is exercised as a parent is that you find yourself having these conversations with your child where you have to employ creative thinking to explain concepts that you've never had to explain before. Through these interactions, you get to see things in a new way, or at the least a refreshed way. It keeps me on my toes, and it often keeps me laughing.  

2) The second way for me right now is documenting my life in the form of lists, journaling, and photos. That feels creative to me.  Journaling and taking photos happen regularly because I've been committed to keeping this blog, and even though it's something I do mostly for myself and close friends and family, it feels very satisfying to have the discipline of taking photos, journaling, and then sharing. 

In regards to lists, I still love my bullet journal!

I am by nature somebody who doesn't thrive on structure and lists, but I really enjoy getting the most out of life without a lot of stress, and that priority colliding with motherhood has resulted in person who loves lists. I was wondering about this the other day whether I place too much emphasis on planning and organization, because I get such a thrill out of checking the boxes of my to do list and my bullet journal, and yes I still do that and love it with all my heart, but after some thought I realized it really isn't the actual achievement that makes me happy, it's knowing that doing these things will help my life run smoother, will alleviate stress in the future, and will ultimately allow me to enjoy my family and friends I'm free me up to do the things that I know invigorate me. Also, being structured in this way has actually helped my creative process tremendously, because it allows and forces me to schedule out time for me to exercise creativity. For example, I keep a list of books that I want to read and have read, I schedule in time for friends, I write down projects and activities I want to do with the girls, I plan out events with friends and write them down, I write down that I am going to go work out, and even schedule out blog posts and things that I want to write about and make sure that I do those things, and check them off my list.

3) The third way is by reading, and I'll include podcasts here too.

I feel like a creative being when I am reading! I think it's because it lets me maintain a posture of curiosity, which is so life affirming. 

Also, reading is a creative process because it compels my mind to create a world for which the book can exist and my mind loves this exercise. 

Podcasts often do this too - when I'm inspired by a story, idea or simply a good conversation I hear on a podcast - it often propels me into a brainstorming session for further ideas and projects. 

4) The fourth way that I try to do this these days is probably in the way that I prepare and plan our meals. I find great satisfaction in being officiant these days. Before I liked being able to try new recipes and get creative in that way but these days the puzzle to solve is how to maximize use with minimum cost. This requires a 'thinking outside the box' that feels like a creative process to me.

5) Lastly, I love creating spaces for people to be creative together. Creating a space for people can be comfortable, relaxed, have conversations, and share their art, brings me so much joy and fulfillment.

In the spirit, last weekend we had an open mic at our house. It was wonderful and marvelous and I have heart eyes about it when I think about it. I love seeing my friends share music and stories, and I felt so inspired afterwards. It is also wonderful to remember that I am in a community of people that love and pursue these things as well; it makes me feel less lonely. We are all people who are busy and consumed with the tedium of adult life, but moments like these remind me that we can encourage each other regardless and through the details and struggles of these lives. Up until the last couple of weeks before this evening, I wasn't sure what I was going to share either but having this event loom before me lit a fire under me to work on something. I hadn't written a song in a very long time and it was extremely difficult to try to get that part of my brain working again, but I was able to finish some semblance of a song that conveyed what I have been thinking about these days... then I shared it! And then listening to friends share stories and songs really inspired me.

I can go on and on about this topic, and I probably will with subsequent posts. Tell me the different ways that you have found invigorates you!

Monday, September 19, 2016

SLOANE AND LOGAN THESE DAYS


A 4 year old and one year old!


“A mother discovers with great delight that one does not love one’s children just because they are one’s children but because of the friendship formed while raising them.”  Gabriel García Márquez.

This captures my sentiment about my current relationship with Sloane perfectly.  This past summer especially, I can't help notice that she is an entirely separate being from myself, with her own personality, opinions, with an ability to regard me with her own personhood. She's less of a baby or toddler that is of myself- you don't realize how much intuition you employ for a baby and toddler until the toddler becomes a three-year-old and then a four-year-old, and doesn't need you to help with every single little thing, but does ask you questions about how the world works and the forms her own opinions about her world, and then expresses them so eloquently. I realized just how much I consider her now more like a friend and a companion, rather than part of my body, when I started to accidentally call her my sisters names. That's how it feels times to have her with me when I run errands or we go do something together, that it's so fun because she's a person that am I am getting to know. 




Sloane these days is kind, funny, smart, creative and so loving.  I can't believe I get to see her and be seen by her, every single day.

Recently she has been declaring her love to me in the sweetest way. She is very fond of the phrase, "all the way to the moon", so on any given moment I will hear, "mom, I love you as tall as that tall tree. I love you as much as a big house. I love you all the way to the moon, and straight back."

Other things she's said recently: 

"Dear God, please save the day and let it not rain. So we can go to the playground and we can have the wedding. If it rains we can't go to the playground and we can't have the wedding."

"There's a lot of traffic. Should we pray to Jesus? Dear Jesus let there be no traffic because I want to see my friends and I am a little carsick. Amen." 

"Mom I don't like the sand because it gets into my butt and it tickles me... but I don't want to laugh." 

"Mom daddy's face is so sweaty...it is totally sweaty"

"Shhhhh.. we have to be quiet. Lamb is wide asleep."

"Mom, I'll be Charlotte, you can be Wilbur and Logan will be the rat! It's your birthday tomorrow and I have a card for you. The card is on my web here, and I'm holding it with my eight legs. Tomorrow, for your birthday the speaker will come up and the speaker is loud!"

"Oh mom. I didn't see it in there. Could you hand me my backpack again please ? Thank you mom....OK, I checked everything again and the phone isn't there."

"Mom sometimes reading feels like I'm dreaming! And when I stop reading it feels like waking up."

"Why is the sun so big ? Is it so that it can wake everyone up? And why is the moon so big? Is it so that it can tell everyone to go to sleep?"





Sloane's sentiments about Logan recently:

"Mom, sometimes having a baby is so nice, but sometimes it is hard, right?"

 "Mom, do you know who I love more than anyone? More than you or papa? ...Logan."





Logan these days is ferocious. ball of fire, pure energy.

I can tell that she feels her emotions intensely, and will go from utterly distraught to extremely happy in a matter of minutes. That part reminds me of Ken, his highs are really high and his lows are really low. But in other ways her vibe feels familiar to who I am.  She has a ready willingness to laugh and an unpredictability that reminds me a lot of myself.  She has great affinity for music and will passsionately sing along when music comes on or when I start singing. Recently my favorite thing is her face when she does this, she will often throw her head back with her eyes closed as she 'sings'.

She is sturdy and confident, and she is also insistent that I am her primary holder, although recently she has been flinging herself at Ken and will give hugs to Sloane of her own accord. One time, I watched as Logan toddled up to Sloane and gave her a series of hugs over and over again. Sloane and I both were utterly delighted. 

I feel as though I could spend hours just staring at her face and watching her waddle around...and if I'm lucky, sometimes I do. 




I was attempting to wean and the first couple of weeks went well of dropping her two daytime feedings, and then when I tried to drop the morning one, she went full-on rebellion and started waking up in the middle of the night (sometimes twice) to nurse!  I think I'm going to take the weaning of the last two feedings slowly, and I don't think I mind it because I don't have to pump at work anymore, but this way I can prolong nursing for a little while longer.







This sums them up pretty well these days. Logan constantly on the move, ready to laugh and make you laugh. Sloane, in creative play mode, ready to launch into the next story, and recently has declared that she wants to be a firefighter when she grows up.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

SUMMER ROUND UP AND SUMMER SANGRIA




At the beginning of summer, I made a to-do list (who else LOVES LISTS?!?) and now that summer is on its last legs, I decided to evaluate how I did. Here goes:

1. Swim as much as possible in the pool: this was a given. The new house had a pool, we weren't quite sure how to feel about it, and this was the summer we were going to find out. I had my reservations about having a pool mostly due to all of the upkeep, so I resolved that we would try to use the pool as much as possible in order to make all of the hassle worthwhile. We had pool parties, celebrations and Friyay pool hangouts. At the beginning of the summer my work decided to allow employees to flex their schedule, which meant that if I could get 40 hours in before Friday at noon, I could take off for a half-day and start my weekend early. Once I started to do this, it seemed obvious that the next step was to make Friday afternoons a Friday pool hang out time. And that is exactly what we did. As much as we were able, anyone who wanted to, could come over and swim, and hang out by the pool. It was lovely.

2. Hike by the river: this one we didn't do at all. We usually love going to the river when it is warm, but having a pool so close makes it a little harder to justify packing up two kids and all of the gear in order to venture out to the river.  I had wanted to try anyways, but we just didn't make it this summer.

3. Go to the beach: Luckily, Ken's mom lives in Virginia Beach so this one was easy to pull off. We actually made it to the beach twice this summer, which is more than I thought we would. On our first trip out, the effort felt exceedingly overwhelming, but at the end of that day I realized I still loved making the trek out to the beach - with bags upon bags, chairs, umbrellas, snacks, water, towels, extra clothes, sunblock, etc. - which must mean, I declared as we left, that I really love the beach!

4. Make a lot of summer cocktails: I did OK in this category this summer. My plan was to try this a new kind of gin and make various gin cocktails, but I never got around to ordering it or finding it, and I resorted to a lot of rose, which was great too. I did do margaritas and different variations of a Paloma, and then last weekend I made this epic summer sangria, recipe for this is below.

5. Make a lot of popsicles: I utterly failed on this one. I even found one of those large nifty popsicle molds on craigslist for cheap and had grand schemes to make tons and tons of Popsicles, with different fruit variations, but alas, it was not in the cards. Maybe next year.

6. Write: I had a list of brainstorming that I wanted to flesh out, and at the beginning of the summer I decided that one of my goals would be to make sure that I spent time writing with intention. I did OK with this, I did get some writing done, although not as much as I thought I would. But I'm happy to report I still have the momentum of ideas that I started on and I am continuing to write and build upon those.

7. Make one or two videos: Check! Here is one that Ken made for our summer kick-off with some friends, and here is another one I made from our beach trip.

8. Get down on the floor with the girls: I have wonderful memories of summer weekends where I got to interact with the girls - play time with Logan and great conversations with Sloane. I really got to appreciate them both this past summer. 

9. Go on a trip to New York, another to L.A.: These were the two big trips that I had planned this summer - both for weddings! - and I'm so happy that I got to do them. I blogged several posts about both trips, so go find them if you're interested!

10. Throw a birthday party for Sloane: I was really excited for Sloane's 4th birthday, because this was the first year where Sloane took agency, got very excited about her birthday, and contributed lots of ideas to her birthday party. I think we pulled it off with great success.

*Extra Credit: Get a piano!





This recipe for an epic summer sangria is brought to you by Joy the Baker. This sangria uses watermelon strawberries oranges lemons limes, which is a lot of fruit, a lot of summer fruit, and it also employees three different types of alcohol- A rose, vodka, and limoncello. Last weekend was probably our last pool weekend and so I decided we should go out with a bang and made these to drink by the pool. 

It was pretty darn delicious, and it tasted like summer.


Monday, September 12, 2016

THE HISTORY OF A PIANO LOVER



When we were growing up we always had a piano around. When we were very young, and my parents had first come to the United States, we didn't have the resources or space to have a piano, but my parents considered it important enough that they went out and procured a very old and very free piano from some sort of garage sale and then managed to get it back to our apartment. I think the story is that they had to borrow a truck from some kind stranger and then somehow lugged it up to our small apartment.  My parents now describe it as old and decrepit, but I don't remember it that way. I remember it being a fixture in our home, I remember learning to play piano on it, and I remember it bonding my sisters and I and cementing our love of music.

During high school we didn't have a piano at home but we did live on a campus that had a chapel where I would go to play whenever I was so compelled, and we also attended a church where I was involved with the worship team, which meant access to a lovely piano. 
In college, I continued playing and singing with a worship team, and I also discovered these rooms that the music department had available for music majors to go and practice piano, so I would go to play there at least once a week. 

The years after college took me to Korea, throughout travels in Europe, New Jersey, and then back to Richmond. When I started law school here in Richmond, I lived in an apartment downtown that did not have a piano and I found my self sorely missing access being able to play.  I purchased a keyboard that I played for a while, but eventually I ended up selling that keyboard. This was seven years ago and since then I have been hankering after another piano to call my own. 

The places that we lived in after marriage wasn't conducive for a piano, and more importantly, they were temporary places. When we bought our first house, I started daydreaming about one, but there wasn't a proper place for one. Even still, I was constantly looking for pianos on Craigslist, and I frequently went to go look at them, but I didn't find one that hit my requirements of good condition, good sound and reasonable price. The hardest part being, of course trying to get a piano moved into our place, even if the piano was to be free, there was the moving and tuning costs, which were not inexpensive. 

 Then we moved into the house we are in now and I found a perfect place for one, and I ramped up my search. I played several a piano by going to meet the piano, but it never felt quite right. I even considered going the route of a keyboard, just to eliminate the hassle of moving a piano, but in my heart of hearts I wanted a piano. I wanted the soul connection of coaxing music from ivory keys and feeling the resounding sound in my bones.  I came across an ad for a particular piano that I was sure I wasn't going to get because it was old and there was very little information about the piano, which is usually a bad sign. But it was close to my work and so during one of my lunch breaks I went to go and take a look. It was old and hadn't been used in a while and it wasn't in the best condition but as soon as I played it I felt a glee come over me. The end of this story is obvious from that photo above, but I got her! I actually went to go see a couple of other pianos after this one, but none I liked as much.  She still needs a tuning and one of the keys needs repair, but I love her. 

Not to be too dramatic, but there has always been a place in my heart that yearned for a piano. I would sometimes feel the ache underneath my fingertips, and I daydreamed about being able to play to my heart's content. And now that our two girls are filling the house with their joy and love of song and dance, I wanted them to grow up in a home with a piano, to punctuate family gatherings and make new traditions.  

I'm still thinking of a perfect name for her, and it will come to me as she grows comfortable in our house and I get to know her, but for now, she's here, she's all mine - oh the peace and joy! 




Saturday, September 10, 2016

SLOANE AND LOGAN AT THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN



Labor Day weekend was wonderful because I had the hope of wanting to spend as much time with the girls as possible and all throughout the weekend I was accutely aware of how much I was enjoying doing just that.

On that Monday, I decided we would finally go see the butterflies at the Lewis Botanical Gardens - we had tried before with no success because it had been right after a series of storms and the exhibit was closed - and with Ken busy with another task, it was just me and the girls for our outing. It was a beautiful day.  The kind of day that seems unreal because of the sharpness of color and the glisten on everything. 



As soon as they got out of the car, Sloane took Logan's hand and Logan took Sloane's hand and they were off, with this look back at me when I called to them to wait up. 


This post could alternately be titled, Sloane and Logan holding hands. Most of this post is exactly that. It was adorable and I'm surprised my swelling heart didn't just explode out of my chest. 




Sloane took up the camera to take this photo. Logan kept this hat on almost the entire time, making sure she put it back on her head if it ever fell off.  


A passerby offered to take a photo of us: light sparkles on my face, my lipstick on Sloane's lips. 


This girl is a total marvel to me, every single day. 






Even though we got there right when it opened, there was a long line to the butterfly exhibit and we ended up waiting almost half an hour. Surprisingly, the girls did really well patiently waiting, playing with each other, toddling around and looking at the flowers and plants. Occasionally a worker would come by and tell us something interesting about the gardens and butterflies and this is Sloane, listening with rapt attention. 


This was inside the enclosed butterfly garden; you can't see it, but there were butterflies flying around everywhere ! 



She used this magnifying glass to observe many a butterfly.



This was one of the gardens right outside of the butterfly exhibit; the girls were fully in exploration mode. 






We love these gardens, and can't wait to return.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

WHAT I'M READING V. 16





"At Home: A Short History of Private Life" by Bill Bryson

I had previously only read Bill Bryson's "In a Sunburned Country", a travelogue about Australia, and had enjoyed it thoroughly. Reading that book made me feel as though I had visited the country myself; he made me see everything so clearly with his accounts. I had read it a while ago and now I'm regretting that it took me so long to pick up another one of his books, especially because I loved this one.  As I mentioned before, I fell in love with the premise of this book - of going through each room of his home to investigate its history - and I was impressed with how this endeavor touched upon not just history, but the fields of geography, anthropology, economics and sociology, all in a way that kept me fascinated. He is a spectacular writer and I could read him write about anything; I'm glad he chose this particular subject.

"Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living" by Shauna Niequist

A friend pressed her first book, "Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes" into my hands, telling me that I would love it, and I did! I heard that she had written another one, but hadn't taken much notice until I heard her being interviewed on a podcast, The Simple Show.  When asked about the way she ends her book with her recent tattoos, Niequist explains how she decided to get a tattoo of a red heart. She said that in the search for a simpler life, she had taken up centering prayer - a type of prayer where you quiet everything else and focus deeply on one attribute of God. She said she took time to do her centering prayers on God's unconditional love, which meant that she would sit still, picture a red heart, and then focus on telling herself two things: One, there is nothing I can do today to earn more love from God.  And two, there is nothing I can do today to ruin or squander God's love for me.  I was intrigued and so I started reading the book. I am only a couple of chapters in but I am glad I picked it up; it is full of good reminders.

"Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist" by M.C. Beaton

My sister told me about this series written as a sort of tribute to Agatha Christie, which my sisters and I all heartily love, and I was tickled enough by the name (Raisin!) and the name of the first book (Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death!) to want to pick it up. The "Terrible Tourist" was the available before the Quiche one, so I started with this one and thought it to be quite fun. The series tells the story of a modern woman living in England who solves mysteries, but in this one she travels to northern Cyprus and encounters a couple of mysteries that she ends up solving.  It moves very quickly and I think I enjoyed it all the more because I have been to Cyprus (although it was the southern part) and I could picture much of the scenery. It made me want to visit again. It also reminded me of the olden days when I used to read a lot of mysteries and of the fun of whizzing through a fun book, just for the pure pleasure finding out who done it.

"Reflections on the Art of Living, A Joseph Campbell Companion" Selected and Edited by Diane K. Osbon

My mom gave myself and each of my sisters a copy of this book this past summer when she was here. It is a collection of reflections by Joseph Campbell, a writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. He is the author of the book, "The Power of Myth" and his philosophy is often summarized as "Follow your bliss." He begins this collection by saying, "Follow your bliss. The heroic life is living the individual adventure" and what follows is a collection of personal essays that sometimes read like journal entries about his reflections on life. I am just getting started with this one and I am glad to have a hard copy for all the underlining I am doing in it already.



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

EIGHT THINGS


Eight totally random things of note!

1. We eat a lot of zucchini and I was delighted to find this super simple take on the zucchini as a side dish, different than my usual roast. Bonus is that Logan is a fan.

2. I know, I know, summer has to end. But I'm thinking  of indulging in denial by whipping up a batch of this lovely summer sangria.

3.  I love reading well-written, long form pieces ofjournalism like this one  especially if it involves crime and mystery. If you come across good ones, send them my way.

4. I've been listening to Oh Wonder's self-titled album a bunch these days, especially this song

5. On recommendation (and in preparation for an upcoming murder mystery dinner party), we watched the movie, Oscar  this past weekend, which was theatrical and hilarious and showcased Sylvester Stallone in a comedic role. It was great fun. 

6. A friend posted about this great take on meal planning that I love.

7. I've been scouring Poshmark for a good deal on a chambray shirt, preferably by Madewell. I live in these during the fall and winter and I just realized the ones I have are almost threadbare, so I'm looking for another one. If you don't know, Poshmark is a great app for buying and selling used clothing - I've done both with success! 

8. A friend told me about this VERB sea spray and I'm going to try it out to see if it beats my homemade one.




Friday, September 2, 2016

AT COMMUNE



Last week when we were in Virginia Beach for our anniversary, after our evening and night away, we picked up the girls to spend the day at the beach. Before making our way to what turned out to be a very crowded and sweaty beach experience, we stopped at a nearby restaurant called Commune, which a friend had recommended to us.  I didn't end up taking a single photo on the beach but I did happily roll around in the sand and the sea, and then we all went to go get oysters afterwards. 

Apparently there's this thing that happens where I think I'm OK and keep going but my body has a way of telling me that actually no, nope, no more and decides to let me know that by breaking down or screeching to a halt. In recent days it has been both my knees and sometimes my elbows that have not been cooperating, especially when I go work out. In hindsight it's not all too surprising. When I do make it out to the gym, it is after a long day, and I know I have nothing left in the tank when I walk into the CrossFit box at 8:45 PM....which isn't the ideal way to be working my body. My body and I, have a history of this sort of thing where I think I can get through with grit and determination and my body says CHILL OUT.  Recent exhaustion and mental fatigue may also be due to the fact that I am weaning Logan this month. Which has been going pretty well! Considering! 

My to-do's long but on those nights when I know that I should be resting I try to keep it to a minimum, like for example last night: drink sparkling water, go to bed early. Sparkling water is so good. It is also very effective at being the substitute for a third vodka tonic. 


Right now I am reading Bill Bryson's book called "At Home: A Short History of a Private Life" and I am utterly captivated. I was charmed by the concept of this book, which is that he goes room by room of his house and dives into the history of how of his modern day house came to be, i.e. Why is salt and pepper the two spices we keep on our table? How did dining rooms come to be? How did people feel about baths two hundred years ago? What is the origination of the term, room and board? What is the origin of the toilet?

This book makes me consider everything in my home differently, at the least, makes me consider it at all, and I appreciate that very much. I think it does such a wonderful night job of putting our homes into the perspective of history, that I want my kids to read it one day. 

In light of my post about creativity and paying attention, my friend reminded me of a short and simple and wonderful quote by Mary Oliver that goes, "Instructions for living a life: Pay attention, be astonished, tell about it." That's what Bryson is doing here in this book. And if I didn't make it clear in my previous post, this is my mantra right now. Not only my mantra, but the thing that helps me write when I feel blocked. If I were to adapt that quote it would be: "Instructions for loving a life: Pay attention, be astonished, write about it."



I was totally into the vibe of this restaurant - it reminded me of Richmond, it reminded me of L.A. and I wanted to try everything on the menu.  I'm such a sucker for places like this where they source locally, emphasize vegetables, and create interesting combinations.

Something else that I'm really into these days is the voice dictation function on my phone! I realized just a few weeks ago that it's a thing, and I can't tell you how much of a help it has been - while texting, making notes for myself, brainstorming, writing emails! It is exactly what this external verbal processor needs.



Sloane took this photo!  She has been more and more eager to take photos with my big camera and most of them turn out really well. I am probably going to end up handing over my photographer duties to her one day. 


The photographer herself. 



And another photo by Sloane; one that she particularly likes. 


This is our attempt at a family photo from that lunch. Logan was really into standing against the wall - 'Oh, is that what we're doing?' But then something else caught her attention and she was off, leaving one shoe behind.




Tuesday, August 30, 2016

SIX YEARS OF MARRIAGE




Here we are, six years in!

Ken and I - we are so very different. Six years of marriage means six years of finding out why that is a good thing. 

A few weeks ago, Ken got a soda stream. Which is amazing, but also funny because when we first got married  he couldn't stand sparkling water. In the past year, however, we've been consuming an excessive amount of La Croix, and he figured that a soda stream would keep us supplied with carbonated water at a lower cost. I marveled at this, how I would have probably never gotten one even as much as I like sparkling water (I am more of a I can live with it or live without person), but since Ken (being more of a if he loves it he needs to live with it kind of person) had slowly been convinced of the glory that is sparkling water, now I get to have one too. We've been having recent discussions about this, pointing out other examples where he was not on board with something I was enthusiastic about (apple picking, Halloween, throwing parties, etc.) but after being influenced over time and growing to love it too, his enthusiasm makes it all so much better...and more enjoyable because we get to do it as a team. I have so many passions and interests and Ken has incredible force of will, so if those things converge at any point, good things can happen.

It goes the other way too. He is my anchor, the one who reminds me to turn off the stove, pay the bills, plan for the future. He is practical and is super savy with a spreadsheet (yeah, I find that sexy). I wouldn't have settled down when I did if it wasn't for him and I definitely wouldn't have bought a house. 


The other day, as we were leaving a hotel room, Ken asked, "Do you have everything?" "Yes," I responded distractedly as I made my way to the door. He opened up the closet to double-check, "Your dress! Your slip!" Then he opened the mini fridge, "...and the breast milk, and pump parts." Then he found a bag with my shoes. He gave me a long meaningful look and I cheerfully responded with, "You know this is why I married you, right?"

After six years I think it is safe to posit that my roots have flourished because of him and that his sense of adventure has expanded because of me. Thank goodness for our dissimilarities, right ?


To celebrate our anniversary this past weekend, my MIL graciously offered to watch the girls for the night and booked us a hotel room, which was wonderful and exactly what we needed. We spent the time doing things that we both love doing and have in common - paddle boarding, getting good food and drink, and sleeping in.  

At year six, marriage means:

- REALLY appreciating being able to sleep in together.
- Watching each other become grown ups. I've known Ken since he was 18 so it is quite enjoyable to see how he is evolving. My favorite part is getting to watch how he parents two little girls.
- Knowing how to handle disagreements. Our recent house buying and renovating was an indicator of this - we have gotten better and listening and communicating even under a lot of stress.
- Being kind and respectful to each other in our words and actions as a way of saying, I hear youI treasure you, I love you.
- Sometimes I find myself irritated at him over something incredibly petty, but then somehow he can make that instantly dissolve with a joke, or a look, or a kind word, and I feel butterflies in my stomach again. What is this magic trick?!
- Fiercely protecting this marriage and life we are building together. The more years we rack up, the higher the stakes.

 I asked Ken to fill in the blank for the two statements below, and this is what he said. Take from his what you will.

At year six, marriage is: like the 24 year old that took 6 years to graduate undergrad. Took a little bit longer to learn certain things, yet the future is still bright.

At year six, being married to Christine means: I am the luckiest 6 year college graduate ever. 


I heard an episode of “This American Life” (called, “Choosing Wrong”) where the introduction is Ira Glass interviewing a man named Alain de Botton, author of articles with titles like "Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person", and "How We End Up Marrying the Wrong Person", and two books about love.
When he was asked what advice he would give people getting married, he said, “Be incredibly forgiving for the weird behavior that's going to start coming out. You will be very unhappy in lots of ways. Your partner will fail to understand you. If you're understood in maybe, I don't know, 60% of your soul by your partner, that's fantastic. Don't expect that it's going to be 100%. Of course you will be lonely. You will often be in despair. You will sometimes think it's the worst decision in your life. That's fine. That's not a sign your marriage has gone wrong. It's a sign that it's normal, it's on track. And many of the hopes that took you into the marriage will have to die in order for the marriage to continue. ...But in love, darkness is a real friend of relationships." 
De Botton writes, "[A good marriage] is not so much between two healthy people. There aren't many of those on the planet. It's one between two demented people who have had the skill or luck to find a non-threatening conscious accommodation between their relative insanities." The standard question on an early dinner date he says should be simply, "And how are you crazy?"
This rings true to me because my faith in redemption has allowed me to see that dark moments are often the predecessor of true transformation. Those dark times when I realize I am selfish, insecure, impatient, etc. often leads to struggle with those things and then ultimately to the repentance of those things. This leads to reconciliation with the God who protects me, with my partner who has sworn an oath, and just as important, with myself and who I want to be.

 it's funny how that happens. You are afraid you might lose yourself in marriage, but the joys of it, the difficulties of it, the in-your-faceness of it, does something good for developing your maturity and self-worth...to then make you a better partner and friend. 

And look, the past five years of anniversaries!!

MONTH ONE


Sunday, August 28, 2016

THESE DAYS



I've realized that something about parenthood eliminates the need for constant big-picture analysis. The fun is in the details! There is a time and place for deciding on a family vision and frequently assessing parenting goals, but it is a relief to find that the most significant and important thing that I can be doing each day is not to figure out a parenting philosophy, but to gaze into my daughter's eyes and really hear what she is saying about what happened in school that day, or why she has to wear that particular hat (because Mary Poppins would wear that kind of hat, and she is pretending to be Mary Poppins, so, duh.).  

The lesson of parenthood is probably different for each person but I guess what I'm saying is that my own particular lesson of letting go and leaning into it, instead of over-analyzing or being too self-conscious, is liberating. 

Most of this post is me doing the thing of sharing tons of photos that I have taken of the girls over the past few weeks. My favorite thing these days is observing how they interact with each other and those little moments feel like the most monumental of moments. Here I am, leaning into it! 


Saturday mornings, we pitter patter around the house, taking it slow. We don't need to rush out the door and I savor this.  I particularly enjoy watching these two unfold the morning together by playing, sharing, negotiating and just being in each other's space.


One night when I was nursing Logan, Sloane quietly crept in the room and laid down in her bed (she usually goes to bed half an hour to an hour later than Logan). She had a book with her and started looking through the pages. When Logan noticed Sloane there, she shimmied down from the chair we were sitting in and ran over to her sister's side to look at the book with her.


These two photos was taken on a weekday after we got home in the vening. I was so happy to see Logan, Sloane was so happy to see Rusty.  


Logan wants to do everything Sloane is doing, and because of that, she is doing so much!





The amount of older-sistering that Sloane does increases with each week that goes by. She even shares her fruit with her like this all the time, which is saying something, because they both are crazy about fruit.


This was a Sunday morning when I walked in to discover that Sloane had pushed a stool over to the crib for easy access and was trying on various headbands on Logan to find her the perfect one. 


On the left is Sloane guiding her to make sure Logan goes the right way. On the right is at Costco, happy to be sitting next to each other and gleeful at being whizzed down the aisles as fast as I will push them. 


Logan loves to pat Rusty and gives him hugs whenever he lets her.  Even though sometimes her squeezes are a little too hard, he doesn't seem to mind all that much - probably because she enthusiastically throws him food from her high chair whenever he comes around.


Towards the end of Eden's party, Sloane wanted to read with Elijah, so they found a room with books and Elijah hoisted Sloane on to the bed when she couldn't get up by herself and read this book together. 


We finally found this owl costume that I had made for Sloane a while back (it was lost after the move) and she fully committed to playing an owl all throughout the house last week.


A dear friend was in town the other weekend and I loved seeing her and baby Eli. We both have chunky babies and are extremely pleased with ourselves about it.


This was the best photo I could manage of the three babes - seems appropriate. 


Summer IS ending whether I like it or not and we have been trying to squeeze in a lot of pool days.



Geez, I cannot get enough of that face and that smile!! 


Some of our college friends came down the other weekend with their babies - seven kids! - and we all had such a great time catching up. 


We did manage to get a proper group picture of the kids at the end of the day, but I'm going to include this one because I like how it captures Logan trying to escape as fast as she could away from the scene.