Wednesday, March 29, 2017

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT


....Ken and I are launching our very own podcast.!! 

Not a baby (lest you were fooled by the title of the post), although sort of it is. It is a creative baby that we have been working on together and it has been really fun (and yes, time consuming). 

The episodes will consist of conversations we have with our friends about various topics that focus on what they are passionate about and how that impacts their relationships. The idea is that we will be exploring how friendships and created and grown, thus making authentic communities.

We are hoping that if you listen, you will not only learn something new about our guests, but it will continue the conversations within your own communities. 

Right now our goal is to go for 20 episodes and then assess if we want to keep on going. This has been one of those experiences where I truly feel the benefit of the process no matter the outcome or longevity.

You can now listen on iTunes to our 8 min Intro episode that explains  the “what” and the “why” of the podcast and also the name.  You can also stream the episode directly from our website  The episode with our first guest will be released on Sunday, April 2nd, and we will release a new episode every Sunday! 

Yay!

Friday, March 24, 2017

SPRING TO DO LIST



This might be one of the busiest seasons of spring I have had. I'm trying to decide if I am overwhelmed or supremely excited. Is it worrisome that I can't tell the difference? I don't think I'm necessarily over-scheduling, I'm too obsessed with my bullet journal and calendar for that, but I am stretching everything as much as it will go and stuffing things into crevices. Every minute matters. In that regard, I am never taking a minute for granted.

Something else that is happening, which has been fascinating to observe, is that my self-proclaimed introverted husband is no longer really introverted. Back in the day, I would plan things and he would pull me back if he thought there were too many things going on or just resist with a flat out no. But now, he is an avid socializer and planner as well, which means double the events and schemes. On top of that, Ken and I have been working on a project together (which I will share about very soon!), and that has been taking up all of the spare moments. Add to that the coming of spring which is terribly exciting for all of us, but slowly we have realized over the past few weeks that it is going to mean a whole lot of work – work that we are having trouble finding the time to do.

At first this post was going to be a list of our spring cleaning to-do list, but instead I decided to make a list of things to do to make sure that I stay excited about things and not get overwhelmed. So here they are:

1. Prioritize sleep. This affects everything.
2. Make a renewed effort to wake up before the girls. I was doing a good job with this for a while, but I lost it a few months back. I'm working on getting it back.

Let's start with these two simple things and see where it goes from here.






Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WHAT I'M READING V. 20



Quiet by Susan Kane

This book came highly recommended by a friend, and I have been on the waiting list for this book for quite a while. I read it thinking about Sloane and how to raise someone who I suspect is more of an introvert. It was really interesting to read about some of her points regarding the huge cultural shift over the turn of the century, when we went from a culture of character to one of personality. She points out that this emphasis on personality encourages performance rather than deepening important character traits like integrity and humility. And because of that, in our society today, and especially in schools, extrovertness and gregariousness is more highly valued than someone who is thoughtful and reserved, without really understanding the differences. This book was enlightening in many ways and also confirms many of the things I have learned along the way from parenting an introvert. As a side note, there is a little quiz in the book to find out which way you lean, and my score returned the result of ambivert! Which is a person who has both traits equally, and I didn't even know it was a thing. I've always been fascinated about this topic (ask Ken, he will tell you I'm slightly obsessed) and I think everyone who is a member of society should read this. 

Swing Time by Zadie Smith 

Good writing, interesting premise, and very interesting themes of class. I  didn't get into it until the middle of the book where I could more clearly see the bigger themes of class and race being woven together and then I appreciated what she was doing, but there was so much jumping back and forth in time and as a result it wavered my attention. Overall, I think it was a great read and I would recommend it if you love her writing, but not very memorable. (On this topic of Smith though, I love her essays and short stories in the New Yorker, and her essay, "Find Your Beach" in The New York Review of Books is one of my favorites.)

Commonwealth by Anne Patchett

 I loved her recent book of short stories, "This is a Story of a Happy Marriage." I have read her books before but she really got me with that collection of essays and I have been a fan ever since. I was very excited to see what she would do with this novel and I was not disappointed. It is another one that jumps back and forth in time, but in a way that had me completely hooked. I thought the story was wonderful and it was written beautifully.

Wings and the Child, or The Building of Magic Cities by E.B. Nesbit 

I am almost done with this one and I appreciate it so much. It was written in 1913, but there are many things that resonate with me as a parent who is trying to pay attention to my daughters' childhood in a thoughtful and meaningful way. The chapters include titles like: 'Imagination', 'Romance in Games', 'Beauty and Knowledge', 'Of Taking Root', and 'Playthings'. She emphasizes how important it is to remember what is was like to be a child when you are raising a child, and likens the rearing of a child to "the science of building a magic city in the soul of a child."  It doesn't hurt that Cori Samuel reads this book (free on the Librovox app!) and she is such a wonderful reader. 


Monday, March 20, 2017

ON A WEEKDAY


In the morning, every morning, I feel a thrill of anticipation about meeting my girls again. The thrill is delicious, and so are their cheeks.

My body is heavy and I move slowly, and I would give just about anything to be back in bed, but as I move from room to room, I notice things. Things that were there the night before but I see anew in the morning light and I am thankful: Thank you for this house, thank you for the heat, and for running water. Thank you for a kitchen close by. Thank you for food in the fridge. 

Breakfast is always rushed, which pains me, and sometimes I hear myself impatient with the girls, which really makes me want to crawl back into bed and snuggle all of us back into slumber. But there is Lola, so happy with her morning meal, and Sloane, so big and capable of getting dressed all by herself. I beam at them. They smile back through rumpled hair and sleepy eyes. 

Sometimes work is busy and stressful, sometimes it provides a space to think. These days work is about connecting with co-workers over a project, and most days I feel proud of the work because I work hard. 

Coming home is a mixture of relief and also anxiety because I want to fit in so many things before the end of the day. A joyful reunion with the girls, and then conversation over dinner. Somedays it is a picnic outside, other days it's a haze and all I have left is leftover energy from a long day. And these are moments when I truly feel like I may not be cut out for this parenting thing. There is whining, there is clinging hands that won't let me go to the bathroom and I'm sure that I have long passed the end of my rope. And then with one phrase; one look at me, one touch on my arm, and I'm a puddle, overfilling with the most tenderness and love and gratitude 

My husband comes through the door; and I blink, trying to see him through the kaleidoscope vision that is the busy. I've missed him throughout the day but I have to blink a couple of times past the 'did you take out the dog' and past the 'another adult' to the loving 'oh, my dear friend.'

I gaze at the girls while they eat. I gaze at them while they read together, in the bath, in my arms. Heavy warm solid sleep baby in my arms. The baby that was so active and energetic before, now sleepy and warm. The baby that is slowly leaving her babyhood behind. 

I am so grateful for the extra bit of light we have at the end of each day now. We move slower to put the older one to bed, most days we drink tea together just her and me, and there are extra cuddles and check-ins.  

After they are both asleep, Ken and I tell stories to each other. Time sprints forward at a terrific speed as I plow through the end of a day and all the small tasks that keep this ship running. Sometimes I also fit in a read, or some writing. Sometimes I get to work out.  We power down, sometimes together, sometimes apart. Always ending up back in the same place that we begin the day, in the cove of our bed, a haven for exhaustion, a fort for sharing stories. 

I'm filled with longing. I am so deeply content.  The depth of exhaustion deepens the gratitude for rest. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

LIFE LATELY




I've been floating around with my head in the clouds these days, everything sort of hazy because of the weekday rushes, change in the pattern of light, and the gloomy descent back into freezing weather. It has given me a certain resolve - in spite of wanting to throw in the towel, bury myself in my bed, and hibernate until the warmer days - to keep plowing ahead. There is much anticipation, even just to tackle the spring cleaning to do list up on our board that I see in the kitchen every time I pass. We are waiting out the cold, doing our best to not get sick, and dreaming. 



We've been to Cava three times now in recent weeks. We don't go out to eat often, but when we do, Cava has been the eatery of choice. The girls have gotten so comfortable there that they now to run to this area to play whenever they are done.



Sloane the other day: "Oh Logan! Did you draw this? Did you draw a picture of a squished spider?" with the most enthusiasm and generosity in her voice as she regarded Logan's scribbles.



We made our own museum the other day by displaying some of her art on a wall. This was my "visit to the museum" where the artist explained each of her pieces. We now have several corners and walls of the house in museum mode.



We have slowly been incorporating more chores for Sloane to do around the house (she fills Rusty's food bowl and water bowl, lines her garbage can with a new garbage bag, and she LOVES washing the floors) and recently, she has gotten really good at folding her laundry and putting it away. We are working on her being able to fold both her and Logan's laundry to put away each week. This is exciting!


This past weekend we went to go watch the play, 'Beauty and the Beast' and all enjoyed it immensely! The morning of the play, Sloane drew this picture in anticipation.


This was the best photo I could manage of some of the kids after the play. Admittedly, it was a strange moment to snap a photo; they had just tumbled out of a magical world of talking candlesticks and dancing napkins and some of those characters were coming out to meet thr kids. There was a buzz of excitement and bewilderment; so maybe this photo is an accurate capture after all.



We put down brown paper for a shrimp broil we had for Ken's birthday dinner and Lola enthusiastically climbed on the table and lay in the middle of the table, as if to offer herself as the main course, very happily too. 


Lola giving her dad one of the bajillion kisses he requests from her throughout the day. 


Monday, March 13, 2017

KEN TURNS 34



It is this guy's birthday today! We celebrated with a shrimp broil last night and today I'm doing things like swooning over pictures of him with my babies and making lists, like reasons why he is a spectacular. As a brand new 34 year old, he is:

Brave: Lola pooped (some huge poops) in the bath the other week while both her and Sloane were in there. Chaos ensued and he came in and calmly scooped out all the poops. This is not the first time he has done this and there is a certain kind of courage that is displayed in such an action. 

Brazen: He is not afraid to say what he thinks, and will speak up for what he believes in.  

Scrupulous: One of the things I find annoying about him is one of the things I admire greatly about him, because I am not that way naturally. He does our taxes, manages most of our bills, and double-checks everything to make sure our house doesn't burn down. In the dark moments I call him anal; on most days I call him my hero. 

Funny: He makes me laugh, a lot. Even (and especially) when I'm trying hard to stay mad at him.

Driven: When he sets a goal, he does everything he can to reach it. The most recent example is the goal he set of competing in his first weightlifting meet this summer. He is working really hard for it and I'm proud of him for putting in the daily work it takes to pull this off. 

Creative: He often protests that he is not this, but he is so creative in the way he thinks outside the box and is quick to make unique connections between ideas. I love having conversations with him because of this kind of mind he has. 

Hungry: Literally, but also these days he is hungry for the Word and also for community and has been finding great satisfaction in both. 

Doting: He adores our children, and adores our friends children. I see how they light him up and fill him with joy. I love meeting him in this sort of exuberance.

Passionate: Specifically, he is passionate about me and our marriage and this is all the more meaningful and precious each year that we are married. 

He bends me, strengthens me, and he can still make ache and swoon. Happy birthday love.






Friday, March 10, 2017

VMFA WITH THE FAMILY


There is always one point during the week where the thought crosses my mind, with absolutely sincerity, that I may not make it through the week. But then again and again, I am proven wrong. Here I am! And happy to be here.

Some things I've been doing recently:

1. Trying to cut down on processed sugars. It's not a total cut, I'm just trying to be mindful of the extra treat I gravitate towards during the day without even thinking. I also tend to overeat fruit so I've been trying this thing that whenever I crave sugar, I first drink a glass of water and then have some protein or a cup of tea. So far it's been working.
2. The exception to the above is that I've started making more cocktails. Research for the summer, if you will.
3. I've been working on a project with Ken and it has us terribly busy but it is so fun working on something together like this. True, there may be more opportunities to get annoyed (ha), but we have been feeling really connected and enjoying this time with each other. 
4. Still reading through the Bible each night using the CBR journal. We attended a talk by Ted Sinn, the creator of the CBR Journal a few weeks ago and I got so much out of it. I'm thinking about writing out my thoughts on it in another post.
5. I am buzzing with excitement at the prospect of spring being around the corner. So much so that I stare at our spring to-do list everyday in anticipation, which include non-exciting things like: clearing yard of all leaves and debris, trimming hedges, fixing blinds in the sunroom, cleaning out sunroom, washing all the windows, etc. 




Last weekend, my sister, brother in law and my two cousins came down for a visit. It was especially exciting because we hadn't seen my cousins Joe and Lois in almost a year and we loved getting some time with them. We met up at the cafe in Virginia Museum of Fine Art and went to see the exhibit there called, 'A Commitment to Community: The Black Photographers Annual, Volume I".  I love the space in this museum and pledge to come here with the girls often, especially seeing how much both of them loved wandering its halls. 












As I've mentioned before, Sloane is really into warercolors right now and anyone that has visited in recent days ends up painting with her, to all of our delight.  After this last visit to the art museum, our way home, Sloane declared that we should make a museum at home, so all of these are getting ready to put up in our 'galleries'. 




Wednesday, March 8, 2017

BREAKFAST SALAD!



There is an exclamation point in this title because I love breakfast! and I especially love eating salads for breakfast. Now that spring is not too far away, I've been incorporating more breakfast salads and smoothie bowls to replace our staple of oatmeal variations. Here are some I am excited to try.



I've made this Citrus Avocado Salad before for a brunch and loved it. This Kale Citrus Salad seems similar because it has the citrus but also has pickled onions! apple! pomegranate! 











Monday, March 6, 2017

THE FIRST BITS OF A WEEKEND



This past weekend was a doozy! We had several family members come through to visit, there was a birthday party, a friend came over to help us with a project Ken and I are doing, there was church, and Ken and I even got to go on a date.


This date was made possible by Ken's mom being here to watch the girls and Cava, a made-to-order mediterranean bowl place that is now one of our favorite places to go for an easy, delicious, healthy meal. We went again on Sunday after trying it for the first time on Friday!


Do you see what I mean?? It is my dreams come true.


Two of Sloane's friends from daycare had a joint birthday party and we were both so excited to go. I love hearing stories from Sloane about her friends at daycare, and it was even more fun to see her playing with them!


In the afternoon while Logan napped, Sloane, my MIL and I did water colors. 


I call this period of Sloane's artistic life, "the rainbow" period. 


In the afternoon, we went over to Scott's addition again for ice cream, but also because I wanted to check out the new location of Class and Trash that opened up there. It was such a fun place to peruse. Here are some pictures from there:


I love this chair.



Sloane was all about this tricycle. She also found a doll house and a little umbrella to play with. 



Tiny umbrella! Also, I was trying to not get too attached to that rug there. 


Coffee ice cream for the grownups, cherry vanilla ice cream for Sloane


Lola being very generous with her Greek yogurt!




Friday, March 3, 2017

SWIMSUITS FROM ALBION



Ice cream in my last post and today it is swimsuits. Can you tell I'm day dreaming of warmer days? If I could have it my way, I would live in a place where I could be barefoot most of the time and live in swimsuits and dresses.

While I have sunshine on the brain I wanted to share that I love the new Citrus collection from Albion. It's a little more pricey than I like to pay for a suit but these orange and red stripes and tangerine prints fit in perfectly with my daydream scape. And you know I'm all about them palm prints.











Other ones I've eyeballed: this one and this one from Solid & Striped and this one from Vince Camuto.