Wednesday, June 28, 2017


This week has been rough! The whole house is sick (again so soon it seems!) but most especially me, and I am doing all that I can to recover as soon as possible. Rest is high on my agenda these days. Rest includes reading books, right?

Epitaph, A Novel of The O.K. Corral, by Mary Doria Russell 

This book astounded me. I can't remember how I came upon this recommendation, but it was high praise and so even though I know nothing of what happened at the O.K. Corral and have little interest in the wild, wild west, I gave it a chance. I am so glad I did. It is a long book, about 600 pages, but it was worth every page. The author does such a wonderful job rendering everything in vivid detail and I found myself googling all the things about this real life event that I had previously known nothing about.

The Emperor's Soul, by Brandon Sanderson 

This is more a novella than a full-length novel, but I wanted to include it here because it is a great fantasy novella if you're in the market for one, or if you want a soft introduction into the world of fantasy novels. A co-worker recommended it to me (as a favorite!) and I enjoyed it immensely. It's really fun.

At Home in the World, by Tsh Oxenreider

I really loved this one. It is my favorite of her books, partly because of the subject matter and partly because I think it was her best written one yet. She describes her family's one year travel of the world, with her three children in tow, and I was with her the whole way. This is one of those books that I really didn't want to end; I especially loved her description of each country she visited. She made me feel like I was there - both the joys and exhaustion of travel - and it felt realistic and dreamy at the same time.

The Dollhouse, by Fiona Davis

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It is set in New York and it goes back and forth between 1952 and 2016, telling the story of Darby McLaughlin arriving at the Barbizon Hotel, famously also called the Dollhouse, and Rose Lewin who lives in the same building almost 60 years later. I love learning more about the history of a big city like New York City, and I was immersed as I read an engaging tale of two women's lives that converged at the end.

Monday, June 26, 2017


Happy summer! We had a summer kick off party at our house this past weekend. Mexican food potluck, margaritas and pool time in the evening. Summer, never leave please.

And the video from last year's kick off!

Thursday, June 22, 2017


Things Sloane has said these days! She is almost five (in August) and what I want to remember most about her these days is the way she listens with rapt attention for read aloud, how she takes responsibility for her little sister, and the questions she asks. She has been asking me such wonderful questions about how things get made, why things are the way they are, what she was like when she was a baby, and wonders aloud about things big and small.

Some of the most precious times is when we snuggle in her bed at night. She whispers stories to me from her day - stories that she forgot to tell me on the way home. Stories about a worm project they are working on, stories about what she and her friends thought were funny. She also tells me things that she is excited about, and ends by saying "Mom, you can't fathom how much I love you." She also likes to remind me (or Ken) every night: "How many times do you want to check on me? Once or twice? (And we get to choose) Ok, make sure to ask dad how many times he wants to check on me, once or twice. Tell him to come check on me immediately after you leave; if he is doing something he can come after he finishes doing it. Oh and remember, leave the hallway light on and the door a little open. And tell dad that too."  Every night.  

The other day she asked me some question (probably having to do with dinosaurs) that I didn't know the answer to. She said, "Mom, just ask your super duper phone."

Out of nowhere: " I just thought of something very dangerous - what if a kid walked across a string over a river ?" 

As we passed by a yellow school bus, "Oh, mom I'm so excited to ride the school bus all by myself!" 

During the days where she was pretending to be Belle from Beauy and the Beast: "Did Belle not want to marry because she wanted to have more adventures?"

"Mom, I know what a ninja does ! They go out into the night...and check for spiders."

"Oh, mom I love the orchestra!" 

She's been interested in the planets and after some questions about the sun and the earth, she said "Mom, do you ever wonder if the earth will bump into the sun ?" 

While in the car: "If you keep honking the car horn will you run out of honks?"

"I wonder how God made all the trees and our skin. I wonder how God made grass." I asked her what she thought and she said, "Maybe he made our skins out of cloth. It sort of feels like cloth. And after all the dinosaurs died, he used dinosaur bones to make human bones." 

I had to go see the doctor the other day because of a lingering cough and I took her along with me. The wait was long, and after about 40 minutes, I contemplated just leaving. I told Sloane that and was surprised to find how insistent she was that I stay and wait: "No you have to stay and do your appointment! The doctor needs to get the cough out of you! Just wait a little bit longer mom!" And then while we continued to wait: "How will he get the cough out? Maybe he will scare it out of you?" 

"Mom after you change Logan into pajamas, can she come to the playroom so she can play for a little bit with me while you go do something else ?"

"Mom, how can Jesus see everyone?" 
"What do you think, Sloane?" 
"Well, I'm thinking about a big eye that can see everything."
"Yes, maybe it's like that. God is unlike anything else. Sometimes he's small, sometimes he's really big. Some things we can understand about God and some things we can't."
"Mom, we can't fathom how big he is?" (We love that word, "fathom", around here these days.)
"Right, we might understand things if we keep wondering, but probably not everything. And that's ok."
"Mom, I love wondering!"

Monday, June 19, 2017


Cheers! This weekend was a good one, bursting at the seams. I hobbled into bed Sunday night and hobbled out, tired but pleased, and journaling it now makes me feel like I could write a little novella just about this weekend. I'm barely having time to do morning pages or do any other sort of writing, so this be it for now. 

(These days, what I fantasize about is doing everything as slowly as possible. Breakfast as slow as everyone wants and needs, a slow and meandering walk with no hurry to get back, leisure Lee cuddles with no rush, ample time to cook dinner.)

On Saturday morning, Mignon and I went to a nearby park to go running on the trails. Ken and the girls came along, and they walked around and played on the playground while we ran. This is the scene I came upon.

Afterwards, both girls asked for pho! It was one of those moments where it was the four of us sitting at a table, and both our girls sat there with bowl and utensils in hand, eating up the whole bowl. Lola barely needed any help, and it felt like a new era. Look at her!

And Friday night! We celebrated some birthdays. Both Emily and Caroline have birthdays in June, so we gathered at Hilary's place (who had tiny party hats and cupcakes ready) and we celebrated with wine, cupcakes and pie, and hours and hours of conversation. It was the best.

Saturday afternoon was HOT. And it was The afternoon we deemed to be the one where we finally pull out some of the giant weeds growing around our yard. there are still some left to be done, but we got a good amount of work in, thanks to my little helper.

I have been having a lot of fun making cocktails. Usually I like the challenge of using whatever I have on hand, which has been cucumbers as of late. I make cucumber juice and then mix it in with some gin (for a gimlet) or tequila (for a margarita) and plenty of lime. 

  This isn't the best photo, but it's the only one I got of Ken this past weekend and hey he looks studly in it! It is nice to have a day to celebrate fathers; this one here is a really good one and we are so glad he is ours. 

For Father's Day, I asked Ken what he wanted to do, and he said he wanted to do the same thing we had done on Mother's Day: to have friends over to grill, eat, and talk. We did just that, this time with the addition of swimming and lifting weights in the garage gym. We talked and lingered into the evening and had some really good food while we were at it. 

Friday, June 16, 2017


This is a departure from my usual What I've Been Reading These Days  because I thought I would start documenting the good books that I've been reading with Sloane lately. I love being able to reread through some of my favorite books with Sloane - I get to remember everything I liked about it AND I get to experience what it is like for the first time through Sloane's eyes. Peter Pan was probably the first chapter book we went through together, followed by Alice in the Wonderland and then Charlotte's Web. I embarked on those not knowing if they would hold her attention, and was surprised to find how captivated she was through the readings even though I knew she didn't understand parts of it. Talking about these books with her is one of my favorite things about life these days.

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B White

After Charlotte's Web, which I love with all my heart, I looked to my next favorite E. B. White children's books - The Trumpet of the Swan! I had forgotten how good it is and Sloane loved it too.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

This is one I thought I would wait until later to read with her, but there is a possibility we might do this book for our literary party this fall, so I thought I would give it a try. She was a little nervous about the witch (it is in the title, after all) but she was able to bear it for the sake of the story and waited in great anticipation for the appearance of the great lion, Aslan.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett 

We are about a third of the way through this one and we are taking our time. The language is more unwieldy (probably due to the fact that it was written in 1905, almost 50 years before Charlotte's Web, Trumpet of the Swans and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and it's so interesting how differently the same words were used a hundred years ago, but Sloane is taking it in and asking questions at the end of each chapter with shining eyes.

Poems to Learn by Heart, edited Caroline Kennedy 

I've mentioned this book here before, and it is still a favorite. I love reading these aloud and we take turns flipping through the pages to find new ones, funny ones and lingering favorites.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Some things I want to rememeber about Lola at 23 months!! 

How she holds my face in her both her hands. 
How she calls apples, "applesauce". (She has had applesauce once in her life but she must have liked the  word; she calls all apples, applesauce.)
Her side grin when she knows she is doing something mischevious.
Her inner desire to be adventurous, but how she still boomerangs right back to me.
How comfortablyand confidently she sits on my hips and snuggles into my neck.

I miss her right now as I write this. 

And I feel like crying as I write this, knowing well from my experience with the first one how quickly this passes and dissolves into a faint memory. Maybe also appropriate that this morning, Lola cried and cried pretty much all throughout getting ready, dressed and breakfast, for no particular reason except maybe she wanted to be held and was overwhelmed by the emotion. I myself oscillated between the emotions of being worn out by the constant cries and the feeling of wanting to stop everything else I was doing to get us out the door to sit down and just snuggle with her for as long as she wanted. Oh woe.

A few sample of the things that she is saying (she is saying so many things!): 
  • I'll do it! (She wants to try to do everything by herself, including the things that she is unable to. I'm proud of her for it, even if it means waiting an extra 5 or 10 minutes....)
  • Can I see ? (She doesn't want to miss out on anything.)
  • I eat food. (Once when Ken called during dinner, she surprised us both by yelling out, "Daddy! I eat food!") 
  • No that. (To mean, 'no I don't want that'. And she is very opinionated so this comes up often.)
  • I have paper, too. (She often chimes in after Sloane: "I am coloring too!" "I wear boots too!")
  • Sit down, mommy. (I am often running around to get food ready for them and they usually start eating first, but Lola often likes to tell me to sit down right next to her and eat with her.)
  • Lola's turn, mommy's turn. 
  • Mommy where are you?! (She will yell this up the stairs when she is looking for me, with her baby lisp and full throated yell.)
She has been saying "Thank you" and "you're welcome" on her own, appropriately, and it surprises me every time.

She is working on counting, ABC's and singing along to all the songs that Sloane does. She even tries to recite memory verses along with Sloane.

Some of my favorite things is the way she says, "oh" in response to a statement, and the way she says "ummm..." when I ask her a question as if she is really thinking about her response.

She struggles to share sometimes. Her older sister is more experienced at it; therefore, much better at it, and  after seeing the act of sharing displayed by her sister, little Lola will follow suit. In this way, it is right that Lola is the younger sister. Thank goodness for a loving and generous older sister, who is willing to share everything almost all of the time. Sloane is also patient when Lola wants to follow along and do everything she does. I hope and pray they always are able to practice this desire to be together and generosity of spirit.

Her new obsession is going on walks. I think she likes the adventure of it, the being outdoors, and being together elements of it.  She begs to go on walks and cries when we come back home too soon. 

Recently, she has also been showing us how fast she can run and this is an image I've been trying to permanently imprint in my mind; it is the best. She also gets the happiest grin on her face when she is showing is how she jumps; these tiny little jumps that she executes with scrunched up fists and her whole being vibrating with excitement.

I am utterly captivated by her. Transfixed! Sometimes when she is occupied by something, I will just stare at her for as long as she will let me.  How glorious it is to be your mom, Lola.

Monday, June 12, 2017


We had a tremendous weekend. I am still buzzing from the emotional highs and lows, and trying to reframe all of those things into gratitude.  

I am getting my bearings here on a Monday morning, but I'm already daydreaming about squeezing my girls after work, going on a run, and getting back in bed as soon as possible. Part of that daydream involves one day getting these dreamy linen sheets. I feel that linen sheets might be the epitome of sleepdom. (This review only cemented my conviction.)

Here's hoping all your daydreams come true.

Friday, June 9, 2017


Happy Friday! We are going to be spending this weekend with friends locally, friends from out of town, my MIL, and we also have a wedding and Ken has another competition! It is going to be a full weekend and I am looking forward to all the sunshine.

These are the last of the photos that we took at Forest Hill Park a few weekends ago. Laura took the ones of our family here and we all had such a good time being together while we did these.

Right before we got in the car, Ken took the one of me and Sloane above and afterwards Sloane took this photo of me and Ken...I am very happily stuck with this guy. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Summer has just begun and I already have full blown anxiety about it ending too soon. Such is the trial of summerphile who loathes the cold. Less than three more months! is the worried cry in my head.

There are so many things I'm looking forward to this summer. At the top of that list is spending time with my girls. They are interacting and playing together so well now, it's a new dynamic when it's the three of us or the four of us. I love being a part of that! 

On Memorial Day a few weeks ago, Ken and I had the day off work and I made it my chief goal to not plan anything. I actually wrote on our calendar, "Home", with the intention that we would stay at home all day, and we did. I was meal prepping most of their afternoon, but other than that, we took things slow (I think I even read a book for an hour, uninterrupted) and just enjoyed being together at home. I snapped these photos of the girls that day to capture their sweetness and togetherness.

We opened the pool that Monday too. It has been such a big pain in the butt, but we are going to make it worthwhile this summer. After the pool guys had come and finished their thing, the girls took their apples and lounged like this in the sun room, chomping away and enjoying the view.

Later that afternoon, while waiting for Ken put away his winter clothes and organize the closet so that they could go swimming, these girls had the BEST time dancing and falling over in our bed. Being in their presence and watching them in their bliss made me so happy.

I'm hoping for more "Home" days this summer, and I've also written up a summer bucket list to help me assuage some of the anxiety about summer being over before I can really take stock of it.
  1. Spend quality time with the girls 
  2. Enjoy our trip to Ohio during the first week of July to celebrate Karen's wedding 
  3. Celebrate all the summer birthdays (Logan's, mine, my dad, my BIL, SIL, and Sloane's)
  4. Celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary 
  5. Spend as much time with my and Ken's family as possible 
  6. Lots of pool time, especially with friends. Help Sloane get comfortable with swimming 
  7. Keep working on our podcast
  8. Jazz at Dogwood Dell's festival of the arts 
  9. Go to the beach at least once 
  10. Go peach picking
  11. Get stronger, lift heavier 
  12. Make a lot of cocktails, and drink them
Also some house related to-do's that I will list up here and then check back in later to see if I actually accomplished any of them:
  1. Touch up paint on kitchen cabinets 
  2. Pull out dead bushes in yard
  3. Paint the frame of the sunroom
  4. Put curtains up in girls' bedroom and playroom
  5. Find rug for dining room