On the last day of Summer…

It felt just as hot as the first days of summer, so we did what we’ve been doing all summer long and headed outside. Fall2017-19On the last day of summer, we got [the best] iced coffees at Philz, and managed to not entirely wreck the whole place, a far cry from our first visit a couple months ago.Fall2017-20On the last day of summer, we spent the morning with the crew we’ve spent all summer with, babies and toddlers running everywhere, getting into everything, melting down and having fun all at once. Fall2017-21Fall2017-23Fall2017-24Fall2017-26Fall2017-27Fall2017-30Fall2017-31On the last day of summer, we had the splash pad almost entirely to ourselves, a far cry from the early days of summer, when it was so packed with moms and kids and strollers, a giant community of people dedicated to making the most of hot summer days.Fall2017-32Fall2017-37Fall2017-40Fall2017-41Fall2017-44On the last day of summer, this boy walked all over – ran even – when he started the summer only able to crawl around the fountains. It meant a lot more falls, more tears, more work, but also so much more fun.Fall2017-45Fall2017-46Fall2017-47Fall2017-49On the last day of summer, we broke all the rules and handed the kids ice cream cones, and pushed them just a little too much when it comes to naps, but it was the last day of summer after all and we just couldn’t help it.Fall2017-51Fall2017-54Fall2017-55Fall2017-57Fall2017-59On the last day of summer, I found myself not at all ready for it to end. Yes, I would love cooler days, but that means shorter days too, colder days coming, less time to run and splash and play in the sun. I used to love when September rolled around and have so much anticipation for fall, only to get annoyed when most of the month still has those glorious sunny summer days. But now I lean into summer, into every last day. Fall will come.

But for today, the last day of summer, there wasn’t a hint of fall in the air, and I wasn’t a bit sorry. Fall2017-60

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Pearls.

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

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The first month of the semester always surprises me with its overwhelming emails and photocopies and administrative duties and the deep struggle to drag my mind back from the luxuries of vacation, especially when it still feels every bit like summer outside. And then suddenly, we are more than halfway through September.  In the midst of the busyness and the absence of dramatic and highly photographed activities, this month has had lots of little gems. I turned 30 a week ago, ringing in the new decade with high tea alongside a few girlfriends and then dinner out at our favorite Italian spot. I’m usually a big party sort of birthday girl, but James and I decided to do our France trip in place of big celebrations or gifts for either our 30th birthdays or our 5th wedding anniversary. When it came down to it, I enjoyed our little quiet celebrations more anyways.Fall2017-7

Isolated birthday treats aside, we have been sticking with our Whole30 this month, and prolonging it a week to make up for the couple days of feasting that fell in the middle (and yes, I realize that isn’t how the “rules” work. Don’t care.). I feel great, but I am as always reminded that doing one can be really isolating and squelch spontaneity. You can’t just wanted in a restaurant for dinner when out on a walk, or order pizza if the evening is busy. But it also means I tend to plan fewer commitments and we enjoy quieter meals at home. We are also devoted to our Sunday night Uber Eats tradition, and I have found a couple take out options that are compliant. I look forward to these quiet ends to the weekend, to ordering our dinner and then settling in to watch a movie after Henry goes down. Fall2017-15

Henry spent the weekend really sick, which is both heartbreaking, and so special. My normally wild boy wanted to just snuggle and sit close to me, and when I would rock him to sleep he would press his face as close into my neck as he could get, arms tight around me. Nothing on earth feels better than that. He felt better Sunday morning, but still couldn’t go to the church nursery, so we took the morning to walk through Eastern Market as a family, grabbing coffee at Radici and letting Henry dance around to the saxophone player that’s always there. Moments like that, moments where my boy seems so happy and comfortable exploring the city his parents love, those moments are my favorite. Fall2017-9

After watching and loving the much maligned Anne with an E on Netflix, I decided I just had to reread the novels (the entire series conveniently being 99 cents on the kindle). It’s been maybe 15 years since I read them, and I had forgotten so much, which probably accounts for my enjoyment of the [much altered] Netflix version. I’m devouring the series, crying more often than I can admit, and falling in love with the story all over again. Anne’s joy of everyday moments and the magic they hold has resonated with me this month. It’s had me thinking about the little daily joys, the” tiny pearls slipping off a string” that fill my days, even if they are sprinkled among harder moments and mundane frustrations.

That Sunday night feeling when James and I sit back with our takeout dinner and watch a movie. The way Henry squishes up his entire face to give kisses when asked. The contented feeling I get when I spend a whole afternoon working away at my dissertation, coffee in hand. These warm summer days that don’t show any sign of leaving. Henry’s recent discovery of his belly button and his joy at presenting it to any and everyone and requesting to see theirs in return. How he looks dancing around Eastern Market. Ending our days as a family all in our bed, reading books with Henry between us. The sweet repetition of days at home, where we hit the park every waking hour, and days at work, where I teach the same course I’ve taught 8 times and still find it exciting. A sleepy sick babe who can only be comforted by me.

So many pearls, slipping off a string. Fall2017-3

PS: Mixed in with the lovely pearls is the truly terrible haircut I gave Henry. Those lovely curls have been butchered at my hand and I may never recover.

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Of besties, the beach, and bruschetta.

SeaDel17-61After our first beach weekend with a bunch of DC friends and family, the rest of the week was spent with my three best friends from middle and high school. Susannah lives out here in the DC area, and when she and I decided to photograph a wedding in exchange for a week at this beach house, we instantly knew we wanted to invite Megan and Rachel to come join us.

We used to dream about vacationing together when we were grownup. We would sit around in high school and imagine what life would look like and automatically assume that of course, we would still be friends, and of course, we would all love each other’s families, and obviously, we would find a way to take trips together. In 2013, three of us managed to slip away to the beach, but a lot has happened in the past 4 years. Marriages and babies and careers and moves and disappointments and joys. It was time for another beach trip.

SeaDel17-55SeaDel17-57View More: http://theartinlife.pass.us/bestiesatthebeachWe spent a lot of energy trying to find good beach donuts, something like these that James and I loved in Florida a couple years ago. I’ll be honest- donuts might be the only department where the Eastern Shore is lacking for me. We had lots of delicious ones, but I am a devoted yeast donut girl and all the local places boasted only cake ones. Is there a magic yeast donut place I missed?SeaDel17-67SeaDel17-68SeaDel17-69SeaDel17-76This boy was in heaven following after Susannah’s older girls. He was not always in heaven at the actual beach, as the sand and waves were sometimes overwhelming. But one day we dug a big hole, and all three kids were enthralled, even if they were not exactly helpful. SeaDel17-92SeaDel17-94SeaDel17-95SeaDel17-97SeaDel17-107Henry didn’t actually get in the water much, as those waves were intense. It was almost impossible to venture in without being thrown about and dragged through the sand. I was taken out so hard on the first day, that I couldn’t hear at all out of one ear and assumed it was swimmers ear. When it wouldn’t go away, I finally spent a morning in urgent care, only to find out that the wave had knocked me so hard that it had compacted all my ear wax and completely clogged an ear. I spent forever getting both ears irrigated which was a) disgusting and b) totally fascinating. SeaDel17-109SeaDel17-121SeaDel17-123SeaDel17-126SeaDel17-128SeaDel17-132SeaDel17-136SeaDel17-137One night we snapped some family pics at the boardwalk, and I shared some of the best-worst ones here. SeaDel17-149SeaDel17-160SeaDel17-162SeaDel17-164Love these ladies more than any blog post could ever express. SeaDel17-168SeaDel17-169SeaDel17-172SeaDel17-182SeaDel17-183That’s my kid, always up for crashing other people’s photos if he thinks there might be snacks. Truly, he is flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood. SeaDel17-198SeaDel17-201SeaDel17-202Last year we managed to end our time with these three on a couch together… and that proved a little more difficult this year, as toddler attitudes are a fickle and changing thing. This was the best we could manage, and I still love it:SeaDel17-211SeaDel17-125Our week was a wonderfully repetitive cycle punctuated with the foods that marked our childhood. We loaded up on toaster strudels and convinced Megan to make (several times) her bruschetta. We would stand around the bowl, shoveling spoonfuls of bright tomatoes onto the toasts, juice dripping down our chins.

It’s funny, how it is with old friends. We had planned on going out one night, just us ladies, leaving the dads home with the kids. But it didn’t happen. We were tired in the evening, knew that early mornings were coming, and honestly, I would rather have bruschetta and toaster strudels anyways. It’s how our friendship tastes.  With old friends, the best thing to do is to slide back into old and comfortable ways and find out they still fit. We did slip out during naptime each day, just us four. We enjoyed time at the beach without kids to slather in sunscreen and entertain in the sand. We swam for hours, beaten back by the waves and talking about life over the surf. We would head back to the house when babies woke up, for another round of the snacks we have been eating together long enough to know that some things never change.View More: http://theartinlife.pass.us/bestiesatthebeach

Megan’s Bruschetta

Combine-

  • Diced tomatoes, whatever is good in the summer, Roma in the winter
  • Lots of fresh basil, cut intil thin ribbons
  • Fresh garlic, crushed
  • Glug good quality olive oil
  • Glug balsamic vinegar
  • Handful freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • Sea salt
  • Pinch pepper

Toast-

  • French baguette, sliced into thin rounds
  • Rub with garlic clove after toasted

Spoon tomato mixture on bread or chicken or directly into your mouth. Excellent alongside a cream cheese toaster strudel.

 

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To the beach.

SeaDel17-15Last year, I spent all summer looking forward to our Labor Day beach weekend. I was thrilled to be finally fulfilling my dream of renting a beach house and filling it with my favorite people. But a hurricane came, and while we still had a wonderful time, we did a little less beach sitting than I had hoped for.

This year, we managed to make it back to the same beach house for a full week. It was so special to go back to someplace that we have been before, someplace marked with memories of Henry’s newborn months. It was a revolving door of friends and family joining us that week, and the first weekend some DC friends and my brother and his wife came down with us. SeaDel17-5SeaDel17-12SANDY BEACH BUMS. The best type of bum.SeaDel17-19This kid is impossibly lucky in the aunt and uncle department. SeaDel17-20SeaDel17-21This little one was not sure how he felt about the ocean and the sand. Sometimes, he loved it, charging at the waves and happily eating sand. Other moments, the whole thing scared him. We are at that stage now where he bravely takes on the world… but often reaches back blindly for me, just to know I’m there while he conquers. I love it.SeaDel17-22SeaDel17-24He probably ate a whole watermelon over the course of the week, and stole everyone’s water bottle at least once. SeaDel17-25SeaDel17-27I am beyond obsessed with the Eastern shore. The stretch of Maryland and Delaware  from the Chesapeake to the Atlantic is just impossibly magic to me. So many tiny towns, tasty eats, pretty farms, and just the perfect blend of beauty and charm. It doesn’t have the tacky commercial quality of so many beach areas, and you could almost forget you are driving to the coast until it just appears in front of you. It’s also kind of a hidden gem. People in the mid Atlantic love it, but I hadn’t ever heard of this area until I moved here. People flock to the southern beaches and leave this area a treasure.SeaDel17-30SeaDel17-32You need to go back to last year to see the pics of Hank and Ava as tiny little squishes, something that feels impossible, since they are both active toddlers.SeaDel17-34SeaDel17-38SeaDel17-40SeaDel17-41SeaDel17-44SeaDel17-45We don’t let him eat ice cream much, but when we do, it is an EVENT. SeaDel17-47SeaDel17-49SeaDel17-52Bethany Beach has the most darling little boardwalk, complete with the best coconut shrimp ever and some really tasty fish tacos. We tried the Rehoboth boardwalk last year, only to be totally overwhelmed by how big and crowded it was and how hard it was to park and find each other. Bethany is smaller, and with better parking and seating. Henry spent forever running around, approaching strangers and sizing them up for snacks, only to move on or grin and beg as the occasion required. Watching him fall in love with this world and get excited about all the people in it is the best.SeaDel17-54Everyone other than our family and one friend left Monday night… but the second wave of beach fun arrived Tuesday. Stay tuned!

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5 things, and some beach outtakes.

It’s been a flurry the past couple weeks, as we spent a week at the beach and came back just in time for fall orientation to start for me. The beach was wonderful, though my idea of having lots of time to catch up on reading, blogging, and semester prep was laughably wrong. Beach plus a toddler does not a relaxing time make! Plus, we had groups of friends joining us, and any downtime was reserved for beach time with dear friends instead of solitary work. I will put up a post (or two or five) of beach photos soon, but in the meantime,

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Some outtakes from our speedy family photo moment one night at the boardwalk. Because there’s nothing I love like some outtakes. And scattered amongst these gems of family perfection, some little updates of daily life lately.

1. I’m basically in mourning that summer is kind of over. I say kind of because I went back to work, but James is still in his final days of August Recess. This August Recess has been shorter and busier than most, but I still love it because it means he gets home early enough for dinner with us. We’ve squeezed in lots of picnics around DC, and leaned into the slightly slower pace of mornings. Every summer I feel less ready for summer to end. Heaven help the first person who gets excited about the Pumpkin Spice Latte in my presence because you will get the full force of my anger.

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2. I know that everyone else hated it, but I am loving Anne with an E on Netflix. Yes, it is adapted from the books rather than faithful to them, but I’m ok with that. It’s been years since I read them and it makes me want to do so, not to nitpick the series, but because I am remembering how universally loved the story is, in any version. Also: Green Gables in the Netflix version is basically the minimalist hygge aesthetic of every hipster’s dream. I want to live there. What are you all watching? James and I are watching The Man in the High Castle and I’m so all in, even if Julianna Crane drives me bonkers.

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3.We are on day 9 of another Whole30, and I hate to jinx it, but this one has been the easiest yet. You know I love the lazy Whole30 method, where you just don’t get creative or fancy and just eat simple foods, and this one is even more pared down than the last. It feels great, being kinder to my body than I was over the summer. As always, I’m letting my crockpot do most of the work. Did you know you can throw raw chicken and a can of this in the crockpot with NOTHING else and have magical Whole30 mexican chicken to top “burrito bowls” (cauliflower rice/roasted peppers/ avocado) or taco salad? Magic.

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4. The semester starts this week, which means my last first day of school as a student.  It’s been 23 years of school. TWENTY THREE. But I  have a dissertation defense date set for the beginning of March, and I’m going to make it. Some days this task feels easy, like I am so close to being done that I will sail through. Other days I lie on the floor and feel completely overwhelmed at all that I still don’t know about my topic and I wonder when my committee will realize that I am a fake. My advisor and I had a Skype meeting last week where he went on to grill me about my post graduation plans, and I just babbled about “meaningful work” etc, before returning to the floor after our call to feel completely overwhelmed about life after school. But scary or not, the thought of being done in the next year is exciting.

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5. How do you all buy kids clothes? A lot was given to us for the first year, but we are past that now. I was hardcore about Henry having a hyper minimalist capsule wardrobe and it worked, though his tiny rotation of clothes got pretty rough around the edges by the end of the summer. Many of them can’t be saved for future kids, which is fine, because we have no storage. I like to buy everything at once. I make a list of all that he needs, spend a couple days/weeks searching, and then purchase things all at once, or at least plan what to purchase at once. This means that he has a cohesive wardrobe where things all match each other. But I would love some suggestions on how you all dress your growing kids, and where you find clothes!

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That’s it for the most scattered blog post ever. For now. I seem less and less capable of  stringing together coherent thoughts every day, so I can’t promise I won’t outshine myself one of these days.

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Midwest, most best.

Yes, I realize that title is corny and grammatically awkward. Don’t care – my blog, my rules.

Somehow this blog turned into “All the travels we are squeezing in,” and hopefully that will end soon for a riveting series of posts on sleep-training, meal-planning, and things-I-actually-used-from-my-registry (I know, GET EXCITED). But we are squeezing a lot into this last bit of summer, so for the moment, travels it is.

It had been several years since we had gotten to visit James’ family in the summer (since the summer where we drove the PA turnpike 6 times in 2 weeks), and after this visit, I’m pretty sure that summer in the midwest is on our MUST DO list. The weather is cooler, the corn taller, the people friendlier, the garden abundant. We came back relaxed, refreshed, and so so sad that we don’t live closer to the rest of our family. So as I pine for the day when we can somehow live close enough for me to eat my mother-in-law’s cooking regularly and have Henry play with his cousins all the time, here are some pics.

First stop- Cincinnati! Since Henry is our car-hating city baby (“He’ll grow out of it!” they said, “Babies love the car!” they said, “Oh they fall asleep so easily in the car,” they said- LIES LIES LIES), we are always looking for travel ways to avoid long periods of confinement. We used miles to fly to Cincinnati, planning on spending the day with James sister and her family before driving up post-bedtime to his parents. Everything went wrong the morning of our travel (baby diarrhea, early waking, lines that meant we almost missed our flight, lost stroller, rental car mixup..) but we finally rolled into their house about noon.Summer2017-205Summer2017-212Summer2017-214Summer2017-220Summer2017-222Cousins are the best. The kids can finally play a little bit, and I am now desperate for Henry to get more time with these two.

Our driving after bedtime plan went off (surprisingly!) without a hitch, and we arrived in northern Indiana late Friday night. The next two days were a succession of garden picking, baseball playing, baby chasing, and good food. Summer2017-228Summer2017-231Summer2017-232Summer2017-233Henry ate at least 100 green beans. And probably swallowed a total of 2. He just really loves chewing crisp beans. Summer2017-234Summer2017-241Summer2017-244Summer2017-248Summer2017-252Summer2017-256Summer2017-257Summer2017-258Summer2017-261Summer2017-275Now, what shamefully did not happen, was enough diversity in pictures to show that my mother-in-law and myself were actually present. We were! The photos basically make it look like a guys’ weekend, and Henry was in heaven with so much attention from his grandpa and uncle. But I promise, we were there too!

Midwest summer, we love you. Mostly because you hold some of our very favorite people!Summer2017-279Summer2017-280

 

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This & That.

Somehow I packed the second half of our summer with more travel and visitors than I realized. It’s been fun, but a little crazy. Last week my parents came to town all week, and my brother and his wife came up from Charlottesville for one last visit before the move to Sweden. Henry was in heaven all week, doted on by family members and escorted to Chick-Fil-A, the park, and the splash pad by his grandparents while his mom cranked out more dissertation pages. I was crushed when they left… but we promptly hopped a flight to the Midwest for a couple days with James’ family. You know I will inflict all those photos on you soon, but for the moment, here are some snaps from a week with my family, followed by some good reading and material fluff that you can probably live without, but maybe don’t want to. Summer2017-157Summer2017-158Summer2017-160Summer2017-163Summer2017-167Summer2017-169Summer2017-171Summer2017-172Summer2017-175Summer2017-177Summer2017-178Summer2017-179Summer2017-182Summer2017-185Summer2017-190Summer2017-194Summer2017-197Summer2017-199Summer2017-201

I basically share almost every post that these two ladies write, but I had to share posts from Ashley and Mary. Ashley said what I so often think when we talk about Christ’s thoughts on death. I’ve thought over her words so much over the past weeks, thinking about death of innocent and good people and feeling angry that God is “ok” with it. What a good reminder that he is not. 

Mary spoke about the pain and joy of raising sons (and other things) beautifully.

How to meal prep: “You are a Carrot Queen in a quinoa cloud.”

This pulled pork is impossibly easy, Whole30 approved, etc.

Apparently I am not the only person in DC to hate the idea of soulmates.

I’ve been rolling over these words lately, the weighty responsibility of narrating the world for our children.

And now for some pure materialism….

If you follow on Instagram, you know I berated the terrible trends in the Nordstrom anniversary sale in my stories. The unspoken tagline for the sale must be “so many ruffles, not enough shoulders,” because my goodness were they forcing the peplums, bell-sleeves, and cold shoulder options on us. But even if I disliked a lot of the stuff on there, I am pretty excited to finally have a pair of these leggings, that everyone swears by. OK fine: maybe I also snagged a pair of Spankx jeggins. Don’t judge. Childbirth has made me hardcore team spandex blends. I also grabbed a couple tops with ruffles… and they went right back in the mail as returns because they were every but as unflattering  as I imagined. In the list of Clothing That Is Not A Good Idea, I’m placing excessive ruffles up there with cropped flairs and tightly knotted neck scarves, a look that, should be reserved for flight attendants and French women over the age of 50 (in which case the scarves would be Hermès).

Of course, I could have just asked Alexa, since she can now compare outfits and tell you what is more flattering.

I’ve been filling out my one-piece momsuit wardrobe this summer, as we hit the splash pad or pool almost every day. I snagged this one for 18$ and was pleasantly surprised by the quality.

This face cream is my favorite these days (and it is cheap!).

And this leave-in conditioner has totally changed my hair game.

Happy mid-week friends!

 

 

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