Tuesday, August 30, 2016


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!!


Sunday, August 28, 2016


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. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Sloane is now 4 years old which means she is absolutely her own person. Obvious, but none the less surprising when the helpless blob of a baby turns into a very capable human with her very own personality. This happened slowly, with hints and sniffs of independence, but now it's a fast and furious unveiling, every day, apparent in her questions and sense of humor and her creativity. The transformation is so subtle yet stunning it still has me reeling.

Something sbout her being so perceptive recently and looking at everything with her specific point of view, has me feeling more than ever that I want to be living my life in a way that holds true to the things I tell her are worthwhile and noble pursuits. Perhaps most important, I want to like myself and I want her to see me liking myself. So I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be kind to myself, to nurture confidence and a sense of purpose, and what that is all coming down to for me is...creativity. 

I'm mulling through (and have been for a while) all of this and I'm going to continue to journal about it here as I develop more thoughts and projects, but let me plop some stuff down here as a means of forming a thesis.  I want to put it out there that for me right now, at age 33, as a wife and mother of two small children, working full time at an office, a homeowner, and ten other things I might list on here to describe my identity and responsibilities, being creative means something very different than what I thought it meant ten years ago, or even five years ago. The demands of daily life mean that I have to get creative (ah-ha!) with how I engage creatively with the world, and while it still means practicing the traditional means as much as I can - of writing, painting, playing music, decorating a home, planning parties and even open mic nights at our home (so very excited about this!), I want this kind of energy to run through all of my days, not just when I have time set aside.

I heard Rob Bell say in an interview something along the lines of: if you can pay attention in the valley, you will have no trouble paying attention on the mountain top. It hit a chord because, in essence, that is my life mantra that I had adopted several years ago when things got busy and mundane and I realized I didn't want to live the rest of my life for the weekends, exciting trips or events. I wanted to live my life for that day, and so began my quest for being still, being present, paying attention. 

My theory is this - that the habit of paying attention is equal to excercising creativity...which breeds even more creativity. Is that too big of a leap? Are you with me? 

The kind of attention I mean is the kind that requires stillness, mulling over details, inhaling the morning air, inhaling a baby's scent, listening to someone tell a story about a recent experience, listening to a podcast, noticing the sheen of a pepper, noticing your child play, playing pretend with your child, letting the smell of ripe fruit overwhelm you, enjoying a shower, watching your husband as if you are seeing him for the first time, being present in a conversation, and on and on...taking nothing for granted.

In my experience, paying attention feels creative for two reasons. One, it is inspirational. Because I am in the mindset that I am a creative being and that small things around me are meaningful, all of my senses are heightened and ready to find inspiration, and it prompts me to write, blog, reflect, take photos, make a home beautiful, find any reason to celebrate, and work to foster true community. 

Second, it is invigorating (my other theory is that creativity is what invigorates) because this habit compels me to give thanks for every little thing. Once I get started, I am overwhelmed by gratitude, and feel accutely aware that one of the main reasons for existence is to do more  that - give thanks, adore, exalt. Besides, I've found that gratitude drowns out almost all of the soul-sucking demons.

When I feel invigorated and inspired, I am not only filled with a sense of purpose,  I am kinder and more generous to myself and those around me. I want that for myself, I want that for my daughters.  

It feels so good to write this all out!  I'll be back with more of this at some point. Don't be shy about sharing your thoughts.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Last November, friends and I took our children to go watch Mary Poppins, the play. My friend Laura had told us about it (the show was put on by a local youth theatre company called Character Works) and it was incredible. I was so impressed with the quality of the performance and production, and Sloane was completely transfixed. Thereafter, we went to go see Character Works put on Annie and Peter Pan, which have now all become favorites of hers.

Seeing as the kids were all obsessed with Mary Poppins, especially Eden, it was appropriate and totally wonderful of Laura to throw Eden a Mary Poppins themed birthday party. I made the mistake of telling Sloane about it a couple of days before her own birthday party which was a week before, and she could not contain her excitement...for Eden's birthday.  The night before her birthday party I asked Sloane if she was excited for it, and she said, "...mmmm I'm excited for Eden's Mary Poppin's party!!!" She later conceded that she was also excited for her own birthday.  The thought of dressing up brings her so much joy these days, that this was like a dream come true. And all of her friends dressing up too! She couldn't contain her excitement. The afternoon of the party Sloane really wanted Logan to dress up as Michael Banks (Sloane was going as Jane Banks) and she kept bringing me different variations of Logan's clothes that she thought could make a Michael costume.  She also started rummaging around my closet so that she could help me dress as a chimney sweep.  There wasn't enough time to pull together anything for Logan and myself, but I assured Sloane that Logan and I were Michael Banks and a chimney sweep in our hearts, and I sang the song to prove it.  She seemed satisfied.

I just have to say, I kept thinking about the last time I whipped out my camera for Eden's birthday, (which was her first year birthday!) and marveling at this thing called time that whips us in the face as it races along and produces these magnificent children who dance and sing along with all of their hearts.

When we arrived for the party, I was astonished at how much thought and creativity Laura had poured into this thing - I mean, the theme appropriate food! the games! the little print-outs of the chimney scape! the adorable food! Did i say that already, the details of the food was show-stopping. It was so much work and you know what the best part of it all was, the kids are now old enough to appreciate it!

The little lady herself! As Mary Poppins!

You guys, I held all of these kids when they were tiny little newborns. And now look at them. 

I love this photo so much. Michael Banks, Andrew the Dog, Lady Suffragette

The sweetest little chimney sweeps!

Right before I snapped this photo, Eden looked at her mother deep in the face and said, with utmost sincerity, "Thank you for taking care of me, chimney sweep." It makes me want to cry thinking about it now it was so sweet, but it made us laugh so hard at the moment and I love Laura's face here, taking all of that in.

Making kites! Sloane was extremely into this. 

And for the grand finale.... MARY POPPINS AND BERT!! The youth actors that played these characters in the play happen to be close family friends of Laura's and they made an appearance at the end of the party, in full costume, and sang songs from the show for all the kids, staying in character the whole time. I was swooning.

Sloane loves them so much she mustered up the courage to go up to them and ask them to take a photo with her, even though she felt a little shy! 

Happy birthday Eden Isimbi! We love you!