Words Offered with Love

"I've always hated my body."

She Said, "

I look in the mirror naked and want to cry.  Since having kids it's all so different, stretched, saggy, wrinkled, filled with stretch marks. My breasts soft and saggy, barely there


I'm hoping to find a good balance of exercise and eating what I like. Most of all, I long for the day when I can look in the mirror and love my body, truly love it."

My initial, impulsive, response was to write back and tell her that I truly think her body is perfect and gorgeous.  Just exactly the slender, lean, graceful ballerina body I've always dreamed of having, small breasts and all. And that answer might have been exactly what she needed to hear, and might have encourag

ed her to look at her body through my eyes and see its unique beauty.  To realize its imperfect perfection.

But after thinking about that answer, I realized that when I was in the craziest, darkest part of my eating disorder, and I was restricting food and working out like a maniac and my body was as close as it's ever going to be to my (unrealistic) ideal, if somebody had said those words me, true, they would have felt so good and made me feel loved and beautiful (for the moment).  Those words, however flattering, also would have reinforced that in order to be loved and beautiful my body has to look a certain way, that skinny, lean, unsustainable certain way.  They would have reassured me that what I was doing was right and good and paying off,  that people were noticing and responding positively to my progress, and that I should keep up the effort, the restricting and starving (and bingeing) and exercising, and hating on my body.   Those thoughtful words would have propelled me further down the black hole and been one more cold, heavy link in the chain binding me into my own personal hell.   

What I realized is that there's no way for me to know what anyone's relationship with food or their body is like, and that anytime I offer well meaning compliments about somebody's body, there is this hidden, terrifying chance that my words of encouragement might actually be perpetuating self-hatred and disordered eating.  They might contribute more baggage to an already unhealthy body image.  Words offered with love might actually hurt, as they would have to me in the past.

So, what I told her instead is that her body is beautiful now after all the sweet babies.  And her body was beautiful before all the sweet babies.  I told her that even though the changes to her body are crazy and scary, they don't take away from the beauty and perfection that is who she is.  But more than that, I let her know

that she is so so much more than a body. 

That she is such an amazing and inspiring mother, and incredibly talented artist, and wonderful friend.  I told her that, after all of that, I really hoped she could let her body off the hook (not an easy thing to do) and adore it just the way it is, always, no matter how it is, and that I hoped she might find ease and joy around food. 

And then I let her know that if there were ever any way I could help her to achieve any of that, to please message me, because I'm so right there with her.  Trying to find my own way through it all.

And I'd like you to know that the same goes for you, too. 

The Rules of Engagement

Fruit Bowl-0887

Dearest Body,

I hear you.  I love you.  I'm so sorry for all the trouble I've put us through.  I'm ready to heal.  This is my promise to you:

I will trust you.

      - I will trust you to tell me what to eat. I will lovingly feed you what you ask for without


     - I will trust you to tell me when to eat. I will lovingly feed you whenever you ask to be

          fed, regardless your reason for asking, without judgement.

     - I will trust you to tell me when to stop eating. I will lovingly allow you to eat whatever

          amount you require to feel fed without judgement.

      - I will trust you to tell me when you want to me moved. I will lovingly move you.

      - I will trust you to tell me how you want to be moved. I will lovingly move in a way that

          feels good without judgement.

      - I will trust you to tell me when to stop moving. I will lovingly move in a way that feels

          good until you let me know you're ready to stop. I will also lovingly rest any time you

          let me know you need rest. Without judgement.

      - I will trust you to find the size and shape that is healthiest for us without judgement.

      - I will allow pleasure, joy, and love to guide my choices.

      - I will allow and examine my emotions with openness and curiosity rather than judgement.

      - I will practice self-love and self-care and and treat and protect my mind, body, and soul with

          the  most loving and accepting thoughts, attitudes, and actions.

     - I will practice authenticity in all my choices, attitudes, and actions.

     - I will have the courage to continually take steps to move toward my dreams and my best life.

      - I will be my own best friend.

You have my word that I will practice these, to the best of my ability.  I'm pretty sure I will stumble and fall and fail.  I also know that I won't quit.  There's just too much at stake.  Our best life awaits!



Love, Your Body


Hey Darling,

I know you're feeling really scared and that we've been through, and are still experiencing, some terrifying symptoms.  But, love, the truth is, I am pretty miraculous at re-calibrating toward health, truly, it's  kinda my thing.

I know you feel like you need to find the solution to our health concerns, you know, like ditching all those toxic inflammatory foods, all those sneaky grains, and beans, and nuts, and gluten, and dairy, and eggs, and saturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats, and oxilates, and sugar, and forget about the fucking ice cream and double stuffed Oreos you think you want to eat.

But here's the deal, you don't need to "heal us".  That's my specialty.  It's what I was designed to do.  In fact, if you really want to be helpful to our goal of feeling great, the best thing you can do is chill the fuck out!  Seriously, your constant worry and fear and anxiety are infinitely more toxic and harmful than anything you've let cross your lips.  Let that sink in.  Food is not meant to be feared.

And yet you have approached nearly every meal for the last twelve years in a state of panic.  Berating yourself for what you were truly hungry for.  Judging your moral integrity by your food cravings.  Denying yourself any enjoyment or pleasure in the name of fitness or health.  Forcing yourself to choke down the healthy choice because it was the "right" thing to do.  Trembling with fear over the food you were about to eat because it might just be the thing that kills us, feeling out of control to stop.  Starving us.  Bingeing uncontrollably in secret, shrouded in shame.  Obsessing over when, what, and how much you would eat next.

Woman hear this, it is not about what you eat, but the joy with which you eat it.  Really.  So chill the fuck out and eat all the damn food.  And I DO mean ALL the damn food (yes even the Oreos).  Listen to and honor your cravings, they will not ruin you, I promise.  And eventually your relationship with food and eating and your body will heal, and feel normal, easy, joyful even.

I will lovingly take care of the rest.  You know, the beating of our heart, and circulation of blood, and breathing of the air, and coordination of muscle and bone and movement and balance.  The digestion, and elimination, and assimilation of nutrients.  The detoxifying of toxins.  The seeing, and smelling, and hearing, and tasting, and touching.  I'll handle the sleeping, and waking, and metabolism.  And might I remind you how I orchestrated the growth, and birthing, and feeding of your three gorgeous babes?  That all went off without a hitch.  I've got this.

I can sense you freaking out a little "What about our health, and our size, if I eat ALL the things?!" and my darling, this is what I want you to know; You can trust me.  Together we need to get turned around and  headed back in the right direction, and a course correction of this magnitude will need some time, and space, and trust, and trial and error, and relapses, and mistakes, and forgiveness, and grace, but this I can promise you; We will come out the other side headed squarely in the direction of our best life.  And while the shape and size of your body might shift and change along the way in ways that may seem downright terrifying, I can assure you that you will be no less valuable, and lovable, and attractive than you were that time you ate cleanly (starved) and worked out (obsessively) until you fit into a size zero.  Because sexy, and confident, and amazing, and successful, well honey, despite what the media leads you to believe, that shit doesn't depend on the number on the tag of your skinny jeans.  It's true.

So, my love, trust me, and trust you, and let's do this.  It's going to be amazing!


Your Beloved Body


I am finally facing my disordered eating head on and am taking steps to heal my relationship with food and my body.  This letter from my body is an exercise prompted by Caroline Dooner of

The Fuck it Diet

.  If freedom and joy around food and within your body sounds appealing to you, I can't recommend Caroline's blog, and new podcast, and free course enough.  Please check her out.

Trust Your Journey

Hey Darling,

I know it's confusing sometimes
to try to sort out the facts and truths and research and information
and it's so so easy to feel like everyone else has the answers.
In fact there are plenty of people intentionally
raising their voices
to convince you that they know better than you
what is best for you.

I know that feeling, the panic, the urgency,
to research, and read, and follow the thread,
and fall down the rabbit hole,
and come out the other end all the more confused and frightened.

But what I want you to come to know,
as sure as the beat of your heart,
and the tide of your breath,
is that you are capable of following your own truth.
And that truth is trustworthy, and capable, and right.

Not "right" in the sense than you should try to convince anyone
other than yourself
of it's certainty, and credibility.
No, it's not for you to tell anyone else what is best for them.

Because, on this journey,
each of your paths have the potential
to look so different
from each other
yet still, ultimately, be right for you.

So, my love, I encourage you
to keep your gaze
softly but steadfastly
on your own paper.

And trust your journey.

Don't Be THAT Person

My face must have said it all, although to be honest, I'm not sure whether my face was reading angry, or sad, or bruised.  I'm still not sure exactly how I feel, and while it isn't normally my style to vent and complain, and I might delete this entire post by tomorrow, I feel like I need to write this out and process. 

"What happened?" he asked as I walked in the door from a quick trip to Wal Mart to grab dog food.

That's right, I had to go to Wal Mart on Black Friday because we were completely out.  And so I started to tell him about how I got in the line with my cart filled with 50 lbs of Purina, still wearing the clothes all spattered with the grey paint I was rolling onto the walls of the other house, and how the guy who came up a few moments later, with his bag of apples and potato chips, just kept inching forward.  How he finally put his hand on the front of my cart and squared himself into line ahead of me.

Jon interrupted "Oh  man, you really need to learn to just say something, I have no problem whatsoever telling people that they're not cutting in front of me."  Because Jon knows me well enough, has heard this story enough times, and knows the ending.

"But wait!" I told him "I actually did!  I finally, for the first time, said something, stood up for myself! I said to the guy "I'm sorry,, I'm not sure why you're cutting ahead of me but I was waiting in line."  Jon was impressed, because if you know me well at all you know that I am a people pleaser.  I put everyone else's needs before mine, to a fault.  I am the good girl who keeps quiet, and waves everyone out ahead of me.  Had he asked to go ahead of me I would likely have said "Sure!"   Except today, when I just felt like paying for my dog food and leaving Wal Mart and getting home.  And truthfully, I stood in line watching him inch ahead of me while his buddy was giving him weird looks from the back of the line, and I debated in my head "Just let it go, no stand up for yourself for once, no you don't know what battle he's fighting, true but he's not elderly or pregnant or disabled"

Because I, for many years, have lived by that phrase "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you now nothing about." - Wendy Mass.  Because I believe in that wholeheartedly.  Except that while I've lived that phrase to the best of my ability, I have also, occasionally, died by that phrase.  I have also, using kindness as an excuse, occasionally become a doormat and a pushover.

So I stepped forward and started paying for my dog food, and the man must have gestured to the women in line behind me, attempting to step back in line ahead of her, and I heard so very clearly, "Sure, no problem sir, you can go ahead of me, I'm not THAT person."  And it feels so stupid to admit that I felt the sting of tears in the back of my eyes.  I kept my head down, thanked the cashier for my receipt, and pushed my cart toward the door.

But what I really wanted to do, at least now that I have had the time and hindsight to reflect, although I would have never actually had the nerve to follow through, is ask that women what kind of person, exactly, she was actually referencing?

The kind of person who noticed the elderly lady walking through the automatic doors as I jogged down to where the last four carts were sitting close to the garage doors at the far wall, and pushed one up for her with a smile and a nod, then trotted back down for my own cart?  The kind of person who ducked into a side isle with a tip of my head, to let the man on the motorized cart have more room to pass.  Is that the kind of person she meant?

Or did she mean a women who stands up for herself?  A women who, finally, didn't just stand by and let the guy cut ahead in line?  Perhaps she was referring to someone who stands their ground, who feels worthy of taking their turn in line, in taking up space and calling someone else out (politely)?  And it feels silly that I'm so wound up over the whole scenario, except that I'm realizing that she put voice to my biggest fear.  She said, right out loud, what I had always been afraid of when, in the past, I'd cast my eyes down and do the kind thing and let someone take their place ahead of me in line.  The fear that I would be THAT person.  A bitch.  Unkind.  For the love of God, don't let me be THAT person.

If that women felt like letting the guy go ahead of her, from the goodness of her heart, then I'm glad she did.  I've done that plenty of times myself, although they wouldn't know.  But if she let him go ahead to avoid being THAT person, well then I hope for her, and myself, and anyone else out there who has put others before themselves to a fault, and who has a hard time taking up their due space in this world, and who keeps quiet, and stays small, and makes sure to always be good, that when the day comes when she finally works up the nerve to say, "No, I was in line next" she feels strong, and empowered, and worthy.

End Rant.

A Heroic Exhale


How many times have I wished I were different.  Not clung so tightly to my tendency for worry.  Free from the anxiety that every now and again, too often for comfort, tangles itself around my chest and pulses nervously across synapses.  The truth is, this penchant for panic is stamped directly into my DNA, inherited from my Nonnie, and perhaps her Nonnie before her, whose leg bobbed furiously under the table with what we lovingly called the "Talerico Twitch", as she worried about worrying, her mind spinning behind kind eyes.

But what is also just a surely stitched into my genes is a determination, an undying dedication toward keeping my eyes scanning for the beauty nestled in the sacred ordinary, a commitment to discovering the silver lining, and returning home to myself in this perfectly imperfect moment over and over again.

And so as a reminder for myself, and perhaps a sweet fellow soul who also occasionally feels compelled to lock herself in her closet to escape the noise and bustle and constant chatter of anxiety triggers, a list for the days when my hands tremble and my breath gets all hung up on my ribs.

     -   Breathe yourself back into your body, love, because right now you're all wadded up into your head.  Come back down, down, down into your feet, and feel them against the floor.  Stretch out into your limbs, those poor joints get so stiff when you're all knotted up in your head.  Sink peacefully into your weight, cradled lovingly by earth mother.

     -  Fill your lungs, full with love, and with that deep, glorious, heroic exhale feel the nerves drain, drain, drain out through your feet.  Over and over until all that anxious energy is emptied, replaced with calm.

     -  Reach out and connect so that your soul can recognize that you're not alone on this journey.  Call, text, hop on facebook, it's all good, as long as you make contact with another soul who can see you and hear you and remind you that you're real, not a figment lost in the fog.

     -  Put on the kettle, my love, because the warmth from a mug sending up ribbons of steam not only nourishes down the throat, warming the heart, calming the belly, but also right through the palms that hug the mug, through flesh to soothe muscles.

     - While you're at it, grab that pear that is gold and green and pink all at once, or a hand full of walnuts out of the jar in the cabinet.  Why you wait to eat until you are shaking and ravenous will always be a mystery.

     -  Light the candle that fills the house with the smell of apples and cloves and cinnamon, that tints the shadows amber and sends them flitting and swaying recklessly.

     -   Pull out your book, you know the one, where the words slide across jagged nerves like salve.  Spend a couple moments letting them pull you from your whirling storm to safety.

     -  Just as soon as you've given yourself a warm hug and a soothing word, wrap those littles tight in your arms, close to your heart.  Let kisses land on soft cheeks.  Soak in smiles and giggles and eyes that twinkle, they still hold close the secret of magic.

     -  And take yourself out, out into the day, where a fresh breeze kisses skin, and parched lungs can swallow great gulps of crisp air.  Where feet can root into cool clumps of green grass, and the birds remind you how to float on the moment.

Sure some days this will all seem impossible, and your leg will still twitch to the rhythm of your worry, but some days this will deliver you right out of the fire, and even on the worst day it will reveal the possibility of relaxing into the nuance and beauty that awaits.

Above all else, remember you are loved.  Always.

She said

Living Room-002

She entered the kitchen with a grand sweep of her arm and a sashay of sorts, declaring her arrival, demanding our attention.  Once she was certain all eyes were on her, she spun a quick pirouette on the tip of a toe painted with turquoise polish, her skirt twirling out around her.  She came to a stop with her hand planted boldly on her hip, and her chin tilted up, and I wonder how such a tender young sprout collected such sass and charisma.

"Look at you, you look beautiful" He told her.

With a grin pulled up just a bit higher on one side than the other, and eyes that twinkled like she was guarding a great secret, she said, "I know" Her words ringing out like bells, her eyebrows raised expectantly.

There was no pretense or humility.  No embarrassment or struggle with how to wrestle the compliment into her heart.  Only recognition of a truth she knows sure as the beating of her heart. 

My heart swelled until I couldn't swallow. 

And that, THAT is how you take a compliment. 

She said, "I know"


Living Room-003

We were somewhere past the cream cheese, on our way to the eggs when we pulled up alongside my high school English teacher. 

She asked my girl, "Are you in school?"

"I go to ballet school" she chirped, sitting taller in the shopping cart.

"Oh how wonderful, are you going to be a ballerina?"

Without skipping a beat or batting an eye, she set the record straight, she said, "I AM a ballerina"

And I chuckled a little under my breath because this little one, oh she already knows, and I hope always remembers, that you are exactly who you know you are, who you say you are, who you believe you are.  That's what makes it so. 

And she owned it.

On Daily Practice

Every time the distance between blog posts stretches from days to weeks to months, an entire season elapses between moments spent tethering thoughts together and spinning words into stories, it's a safe bet that I haven't been keeping good care of myself.

It's not that the last couple months have been incredibly busy, bursting at the seams with work and play and adventure, though there has been a fair amount of each.  It's not that I haven't had time, or couldn't have set aside time, or didn't want to spend the time writing.  It's just a pattern, a way of living that's worn like a familiar path through the woods, that I stumble back onto despite my best intentions not to.

For me, writing is like so many other practices that fill me and ground me and connect me back to my senses, opening my eyes and my heart to the nuances of life that otherwise slip past unnoticed.  And like all those other practices, photography, meditating, journaling, praying, yoga, exercising, sipping on lemon water and green smoothies while the morning sun turns wispy clouds cotton candy pink, practices that I know from direct experience make my life rich and substantial in incredibly tangible ways, I gradually grow away from doing them.

Instead I barrel through my days, muscling my way through the routine, crashing into bed worn thin and empty.  I make excuses that there isn't time, I don't insist on making time, I put myself, my soul, on the back burner in the name of caring well for the ones I love.  And it doesn't occur to me until I've come completely unraveled, flailing and grasping in the most ungraceful ways, clutching desperately to my last shred of peace and sanity, that it might be wise to reintroduce those tools that tend to keep me from careening so dangerously close to the edge.

When things are going particularly well, it's so easy to toss them aside.  Who needs to meditate when life is unfolding smoothly and easily?  And when things are particularly rough, and busy, and overwhelming it's easy to justify that those frivelous little indulgences are obviously the first ones to eliminate.  Who wants to write in a gratitude journal before bed when your eyes are burning and bloodshot from lack of sleep?  So, unfortunately, it isn't until I'm out of control and relatively desperate that I reconsider the importance of maintaining these practices consistently.  Even then, I cling to the hope that maybe if I just do a little yoga, say give it a good week, it will miraculously mend everything allowing me to resume my haphazard, nonstrategic, relatively careless manner of existence.

Deep down, though, if I'm being completely honest, I know that it's the act and art of maintaining these practices, consistently, daily, that makes them so healing and grounding.  I know that grasping for them wildly only when I'm on the brink of certain disaster, and sticking to them for a brief time won't impart lasting peace.  It's the discipline of returning to them again and again, steadfastly, whether life is in the ebb or flow, easy or menacing, that will shift my experience. 

Just like Rumi encouraged:

Submit to a daily practice

Your loyalty to that

is a ring on the door.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside

will eventually open a window

and look out to see who's there.

And so I set the intention, in my heart and here in words, to keep much better care of myself.  To return to this page and the mat and the mantra, and to all these sacred, time tested rituals that root me deeply into peace and well being,

with much more consistency and regularity, in good times and in bad, till death do us part.  Or until I forget again and wander back down that old familiar path, and find myself a little wild, unraveled and desperate.

Glimpses of the Love Between Them


The oven light glows golden in the muted morning light, made soft by the blanket of thick clouds heavy with the promise of rain.  Though it is mid May, the air drifting in through the screen door ushers with it a dampness that tugs my knees up tight to my chest, curled into a knot on my chair, and for a moment I consider putting on water for tea.

Milani is perched on top of the counter, knees splayed wide to her sides like a lanky fawn, her arms rummage through the cupboard.  Behind her, on a chair pulled right up to the counter, Berkley stretches tall onto her tiptoes to peer curiously around her sister, watching carefully as Milani pops a broken piece of brittle rotini pasta into her mouth and crunches down on it loudly.  Milani leans forward and roots deeper into the dark corners of the cabinet until her hand finds a zip lock baggie hidden behind the peanut butter, a golden treasure of tiny fishies, and holds her catch high like a trophy bass for her sister to see.  Quickly, she opens the treat and doles out a little heap of crackers for herself and then for Berkley.  "Here Berks." She drops a fish gently into her sister's mouth, open round like a baby robin expecting her morning worm.

*     *     *


The rain flavors the breeze, although, for now at least, the concrete remains dry.  The girls burst through the screen door, in pajamas still, to play in the yard.  And though I know the way fresh air can brighten a damp mood, I follow them reluctantly, drifting back for a moment to the days before I had my girls when I would have been content to spend a damp, spring morning lazily curled up, like a cat, under the crocheted afghan the color of evergreens, swept away in a book, hands curled around a steaming mug of tea.  I step onto the porch, wrapping my arms around my waist, amazed that the chill doesn't seem to penetrate the girls' young limbs, and I turn back into the house to collect sweatshirts.  

I call out first to Berkley, holding her sweatshirt open, ready to tuck her warmly inside.  She trots over quickly but squirms, and wriggles, and turns the task of threading pudgy hands through sleeves more tedious than necessary.  Her efforts are concentrated on grasping wildly for sissy's purple sweatshirt lying on the step beside me.  We struggle for a couple awkward moments, at odds, each faithful to our separate missions, before I set her free, having finally tugged her sweatshirt on.  She snatches Milani's sweatshirt up victoriously, and hurries across the sidewalk, purposefully, her arm stretched stiffly out in front of her, waving the sweatshirt like a banner, and delivers it into sissy's arms with a silly toddler curtsey that sends her diaper out behind her and her chin out in front, her eyes locked on big sister and her cheeks puffed out around a bright grin.

Courage on Training Wheels

"What do you want for your birthday?"  

I knew the most frequent answers by heart: presents, fruit snacks, marshmallows, and of course a bike.  I will never forget the way her eyes lit up when Jon wheeled it through the gate.  Her hands flew to her mouth opened wide in surprise.  Her energy quivered with excitement.  She was bursting at the seams to climb on the white seat and grab the handlebar.

Bike Riding-005-Edit.jpg

It took a bit of practice to synchronize the motion of pedaling with maneuvering the handlebar, and become accustomed to the sensation of rolling forward and gaining momentum.  There was a fair share of "I can't" followed up by the encouraging "Of course you can, with a little practice you will be a pro in no time."   She quickly got the hang of it, gaining confidence and speed simultaneously, radiating joy and pride. 

Bike Riding-007-Edit.jpg

Up and down the sidewalk, to the fence and back, circling around on the concrete pad to complete another lap and careen back down the walk once more, she sped along with pedals spinning and training wheels rattling.  Then it happened, she turned her loop a hair too tightly, pedaling a little too quickly, and the bike toppled sending my girl clumsily to the concrete.  Thankfully bones weren't broken and knees weren't skinned, but confidence was splintered into jagged little shards and left scattered alongside the wreckage.

The next day when we went out to play, she walked alongside her bike, wheeling it around on foot. 

"Aren't you going to ride your bike?"

"I am"

"I mean get on it and pedal, not just push it around."

"No, it will fall over"

"If you ride carefully and practice I don't think it will fall again"

"Yes it will."

(and then came the shameless manipulation)

"Well then if you don't want to ride it, I bet Berkley would.  Can she have your bike?"

"Yep.  Berks can have it"

"And if it's Berkley's bike now then the bike helmet has to be hers too so she can protect her head, right?"

"Well...OK, it can be her helmet too."

(manipulation::fail) And there shattered my heart, strewn among her broken splinters of confidence.

I desperately wanted to encourage her back onto that bike, to see her grin strung from ear to ear the way it had been the day before.  I wanted reassure her she would never fall again, never tip over, never get hurt, but I couldn't do it.  I couldn't promise that, moreover I didn't want to impress upon her the notion that it's better to avoid adventures that might cause pain and stick only with experiences that are safe.  Many of the richest aspects of life include quite a bit of risk and vulnerability, some of the most rewarding experiences, in fact, guarantee to deliver pain.  Falling in love, starting a business, following a passion, getting married, birthing and raising children, making friends and cultivating relationships.  None are without risk.  None are painless.  The more you try to avoid pain, the more you eradicate the potential for joy, you can't have one without the other.  In the words of Brene Brown, "Our capacity for joy is only as great as our willingness to feel pain and sadness."

I think the silver lining is that the scrapes, and aches, and contractions, and bruises to bodies and spirits fade and soften with the passing of time.  Otherwise babies would never learn to walk, no one would get remarried, or have more than one child, or get back in the game on horse or on a little blue bike with pink training wheels.  Eventually our craving for the pleasure of life coaxes us past our fears and reservations.

Bike Riding-002-Edit.jpg

My girl came around slowly, on her own time, and eventually climbed back onto her bike.  We started from the beginning with my hands steadying her back as she pedaled ever so slowly.  Little by little I let go, gave her space, set her free.  She would catch my gaze and call out "I'm being BRRRAVE!".  If only my little darling had any idea how my heart swelled to hear that.  She got back into her rhythm of looping and circling, and even took another small spill, but this time she clambered back onto the seat and cautiously picked up where she left off.  The breeze swept thin wisps of sandy hair off her face and her eyes twinkled as she again forgot the pain of meeting the pavement and embraced the possibility of taking flight.

The Little Things

My voice gets quiet in this space.  Hushed amidst the chorus of amazing writers I follow, an eclectic collection of incredible women whose posts rock my world, whose insights inspire my imagination, and whose words land softly on my soul. 

So I keep my distance from the keyboard, waiting for something really profound to want to be written.  Waiting for an aha moment to reveal something great and insightful.  Waiting to write something important, something that really matters.

As if writing about little insignificant details isn't worthy.

Like the gentle rise and fall of my baby's chest as she naps peacefully, snuggled right up next to my leg.

Or the black cat curled up across the room in a brilliant pool of sunlight, basking in its May warmth.

The way my girls delight in eating berries outside in the sunshine, getting lost in the savoring of each juicy bite.

Malas, Berries, and Trees-009.jpg
Malas, Berries, and Trees-010.jpg
Berries and Selfies-004.jpg

The way the clouds gather in growing clusters above the mountain ridge in the distance.

Apples in the Backyard-001.jpg

The rustle of the dried tall grass in a gust of wind that hush my thoughts for a moment, like the whisper of a lullaby.

Apples in the Backyard-004.jpg
Chalk in the Yard-001.jpg

How each time the breeze embraces the pear tree, the yard is filled with fluttering cream petals spinning and twirling their way to the ground.

Or the perseverance and enjoyment the girls can get from the simple joy of putting one foot in front of the other across a scrap 2x4, wobbling off and getting back on for another go.

Selfies and Balance Beam-013-Edit.jpg

These exquisite, ordinary moments that capture my attention and appreciation, surely they aren't the material of really inspiring writing.  But when I take a moment to follow the thread of those life altering, perception shifting posts that I love to read, when I let their messages sink in and go full circle, isn't their purpose really to guide us into coming back here, to this moment?  Aren't they really just priming us to settle a little more comfortably into our experience and enjoy the beautiful unfurling of time?  I think that's got to be the point, to enjoy the little things, the big things, everything.  Nothing is insignificant.

Shifting. Changing. Growing.


This post is probably the hardest I've written yet.  It's ripping my heart and soul open, daring me to be raw and honest, to face my truth and honor my journey.

I started this blog inspired by so many beautiful blogs out there, written by loving mamas to document these precious days as they stretch into years.  I thought "Yes!  I want that, for me, for my girls."  And so I began.  Writing to document our days.  Writing to invite friends and family to peek in on our little corner of the earth.  Writing from the voice of mama, mostly about these two blessed souls I've been given the honor to mother. 

There are many things I've learned in this short year and a half of blogging.  I've learned that a large part of my motivation for posting was out of guilt.  Guilt that I did a pretty crappy job keeping up Milani's baby book.  Guilt that Berkley doesn't even have a baby book.  "But at least they will have this blog".  And that guilt kept me writing things I thought I should write, as a mom documenting her days with her girls, rather than the things I really felt like writing as a woman living her journey.  So the posts would end up a frustrating hodgepodge of pictures I felt like I needed to include, with words to explain the pictures, blended with a hint of what was really on my mind. 

I've also learned that I am more that a mom.  Shocking, I know.  Becoming a mother was one of the best things that has happened to me.  Nothing has brought me more joy, more love, more gratitude for this life I've been blessed with, and I take my role as mama so very seriously.  So seriously that I found I was writing solely from view point of mama.  I was making choices solely from view point of mama.  I was living solely from view point of mama.  I completely lost sight of myself.  I had mom goggles on - always - until it occurred to me that I am more than a mom.  I am Angelina, who just so happens to also be mom, and spouse, and sister, and friend, and photographer, and writer.  That it's totally ok and not selfish to live my life as Angelina.  That I can write using my voice first.  That I'm allowed to make choices as an individual first and foremost.  That, in fact, when I do the things that make me the best Angelina I can be, I will, by default, also be the best mom, and spouse, and friend, and photographer, and writer I can be. 

So, I am going to close this chapter, this writing and posting from a place of motherly obligation and guilt, trusting that my girls' childhoods will still be well documented, knowing that I will still be snapping pictures of my girls and committing the moments of our days to memories I will share with them as they grow older.  Knowing that I can still post and write about them if my heart calls me to.
Instead I will be shifting my focus here to writing with my voice and from my heart, sharing my stories and pictures.  Writing from a place of authenticity and truth.  Freely and without the self imposed guilt.

Excited to see how this unfolds...

Grasping at Now

One day she's crawling, her turbo charged super fast speed crawl.  The next day she tediously puts one foot down in front of the other, wobbling, teetering, walking.

Bubble bath-003.jpg

Bubble bath-002-Edit.jpg

A couple nights ago, as she plopped down from another string of tipsy steps and finished her journey in speed crawl the voice inside my head hopped right in to narrate. "This might be last time you ever EVER see her crawl."  And the tears rose up behind my eyes, and my heart knotted into my throat.  Can't I freeze time?  Hit Pause?  Slow this train down?  


It seems like Berkley was born five minutes ago, and Milani just yesterday.  Now one runs and jumps and strings words into sentences to transfer stories, feelings, ideas.  The other babbles mama, and dada and hiya, and is already trying to quicken her unbalanced walk into a trot.  The transformation of these beauties makes it painfully clear that the only thing we can be certain about is change.  Constant.  Endless change.



My immediate response to these moments, the ones I want to bottle up and store safely away forever, is to grab at them, try to cling to them.  Replay them, relive them, retain them against the passing stream of seconds and days and years.  Dwell in them, because these moments feel so freaking good.  But besides being futile, this clinging can be so damaging, so counterproductive.  The minute I let myself get suckered into attaching to one particular exquisite moment, well that is exactly when I start missing the treasure of the next moment, and each subsequent moment unfolding in the present. 



So when I feel that frantic need to latch on to what's in front of me, to wrap it strongly in my embrace and never let it go, to stop time or at least slow it's frightening pace, I pick up my camera and frame the moment through the lens.  I capture this particular facet in time so I can stay present to the new ones coming down the line.  I freeze these little moments that make my heart ache so that I can more fully embrace this constant dance of change.



Who I Am

I've started and erased this page at least a dozen times already, finding it so very challenging to distill who I am down to a cohesive strand of words and sentences.  This is my best attempt.

I am Angelina.

I am a mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend, woman.  I am a writer, photographer, gardener, yogi, meditator, spiritual. 

After finding myself lost, confused, and depressed in a career that was slowly suffocating my soul, I jumped ship and am on a journey back to myself.  Slowly relearning who I am and what I like.  Tediously finding my footing, my voice and my purpose. Choosing joy, love, and hope (I am a reformed pessimist).  Learning to seek the beauty in every moment.  Discovering what makes my heart happy and nourishes my soul. 

Here I weave pictures with words to tell about my days with my girls, the stirrings of my soul, my challenges, my strengths, my truth.  I hope that my words might find their way to any soul who might need them, who needs to feel understood, less alone, more loved, and to know that where you are is so completely OK.

Thank you.  My deepest gratitude to you for stopping by.  


Icicle Believe-007.jpg

Six short years ago.

It's been six years since I found myself in my darkest place.  That place where I doubted there was any purpose to suffering through this life, where God was laughing at my shattered plans.  The place where I felt empty, lonely, and lost.  The place where I tried one antidepressant after another, where I controlled the pain by controlling the food I would let past my lips.  A place that left me without a shred of belief in a loving God, or Magical Universe, or the worth of my Self.

Six long years ago.

Six years since I bailed on my soul smothering career without a clue as to where I was headed.  Six years of trudging out of that valley, step by step, day by day, choice by choice, thought by thought, breath by breath.  And slowly, so so slowly, the frost started to thaw.

I have learned and grown so very much since then.  I've rekindled hope, dreams, love.  Love of my life, love of my self.  And there are so many truths I've come to embrace. The truth that our purpose here is to teach and learn, experience fully, shine our light and boldly be Who We Are always and unapologetically.  The truth that we each have a gift, something of value that the word needs.  The truth that this Magical Godly Universe is always, always, working with us toward our highest good.  The truth that I am enough, just as I am, and that I am right exactly where I need to be.  That I am worthy of love, from others and myself.  That happiness and joy are a choice and a practice.  So so many truths that I have come to know and understand.

Still my inner critic chimes in with the abuse.  "You have nothing, NOTHING, of value to offer."  "No one wants to hear anything you have to say, you have nothing important to say anyway." "Magic? You want to believe in magic?  Fairies, and wishes on shooting stars, and dandelion seeds blown into the wind, a Magical Universe and Loving God? You have lost it and everyone will see how CRAZY you are!!"  Those seeds of doubt are still there, still blossoming into crippling fears and paralyzing shame and profound guilt.

As I prepare to enter into this new year I have chosen a guiding word.  A word to turn and return to when the darkness challenges my confidence.  A word to remind me and strengthen me and teach me.  This year my guiding word is Believe.

Icicle Believe-011.jpg

So when I say to myself  "Angelna, you are enough" and my inner critic pipes in with "Enough, my FOOT, crazy stupid lady"  I can wield my weapon.  "I BELIEVE that I am enough! Booyah"  So that maybe, by the end of this year of Believe I will sincerely, down to my bones, believe in those truths I've learned but still doubt.  It is belief that precedes action.  Everyone who's accomplished something great has first believed in the possibility of success.  Maybe by the end of this year I will believe in possibility, accomplishment, success.

Icicle Believe-001-Edit.jpg

Here's to a year of Believe.

I Believe that I am enough

I Believe that the loving, Magical Universe supports me and works with me toward my highest good

I Believe that I am a good mother

I Believe I can accomplish anything

I Believe in magic, and wishes, and dreams

I Believe that I am beautiful

I Believe that I am strong

I Believe that I am creative, smart, and brave

I Believe that the best is yet to come

I Believe...

Icicle Believe-009-Edit.jpg

On Finding Purpose

I've been struggling. After having slowly lost a true, clear, connection with myself, I am working, fighting even, to return to a place of authenticity. I've been really straining to hear my truth, to understand my purpose, and regain my voice. Trying to pay close attention to what brings me joy, what nourishes me, what I like, and what makes me feel good. Practicing trusting my intuition and ignoring the outer influence that tends to shake my confidence.

Sunset and Moonscape-015.jpg

Sunset and 

So often this path has felt exhausting and overwhelming, and my energy churns and shifts. One day it's up, confident, strong. The next it goes swinging to the opposite pole, leaving me feeling lost and stuck and weary of the fight. But I believe whole heartedly that the growth and transformation that stretch a soul are often uncomfortable, painful even, as they rub up against our rough spots, until they finally lift leaving us a little smoother, more polished.

A recent conversation stirred up so much truth, and light, and understanding. What if instead of struggling so hard to define my purpose, and fretting so much over saying the right thing, and worrying about what people will think if I do that, or wear that, or want that, I just do what feels right, in my soul, in that moment. If I can only find the courage to do what feels right in my heart in each moment as it arises, knowing that it may not be the easy thing or the conventional thing, THAT is, in itself, fulfilling my purpose.

What if by parenting my children the way that feels right, boldly, openly, I inspire another mother who is struggling with conventional parenting standards.  What if by wearing the nose ring, or lipstick, or jeans and t-shirt, or tattoo that feel right for me, I instil confidence into another who fears the judgement of being unique in who they are.  What if by snapping a picture with love and inspiration, I bolster the self esteem of a kid who's been at the heartbreaking end of one too many jokes.  If by speaking the truths of where I am (That I am messy and not very good at housekeeping, or organizing, or tidying.  That I have a lot  of resistance to chores around the house.  That I am afraid of messing up my children, causing them pain landing them in therapy as adults.  That I am lonely and often feel like I'm missing connection and friendship.) that in reading them someone will feel a little less alone, a little more understood, a little more OK.  What if I just BE WHO I AM, all the time, and leave it up to the magic of the universe to orchestrate the details of the ways in which I serve others and my purpose, and trust that I will often times, most of the time, not even be aware of the ways I have given to others.

Sunset and Moonscape-005.jpg

Just last week I was commenting on this beautiful blog post and the words that tumbled out in my comment were "Each of us, as we step into our light, and shine outward, a gift. I can only imagine the incredible way a community of “gifts” could impact our world. That we could all be gifts."   Even though they were honest in that moment, those words take on new meaning for me, again today, as they sink deeper into truth.

Sunset and Moonscape-010.jpg

Each of us, a gift, when we live, OWN, our authenticity.

Can it possibly get any better than this?

The house is quiet.  Everyone else is already asleep, and I know I should be too.  Even though Berkley is sleeping soundly and peacefully at the moment, she will wiggle herself awake soon and often throughout the night wanting more milk, and morning will come much too quickly.  But oh, the words, they're swimming around in my brain and I have to let them flow.  It's now or never.

Wagon Rides-007.jpg

Wagon Rides-006.jpg

Playin Around Randomness-010.jpg

Playin Around Randomness-013.jpg

It might just be that the signs of fall are abundant, with the amber and crimsen starting to tinge the foliage, and the cool breezes carrying massive clouds across powdery skies.  It's no secret that fall is my favorite time of year, something makes me come alive, sparks inspiration, fills me with unshakeable happiness.  Lately I've been having these clear moments of startling and absolute gratitude.  Moments that make the back of my eyes burn with tears and make me shake my head wondering, can it possibly get any better than this?

 Playin Around 

Little Things-014.jpg

Little Things-015.jpg

Little Things-016.jpg

Moments like yesterday, when the girls and I turned the living room into a dance party.  With Berkley perched on my hip, one hand holding the back of my arm, the other with a fist full of my shirt, head resting on my shoulder.  My little koala.  Going along for the ride as the bass propelled my bobbing and swaying and the melody flung my free hand up to raise the roof.  Milani took out all the stops, pulled out every move, every booty shakin,' foot stompin', twirling maneuver she had.  And we laughed, and we groved, and it could have been just any plain old living room dance party.  It was just a plain old living room dance party, but it hit me so hard in the heart, and filled me with such a high on life sense of joy.  It reminded me there is just nothing better than this moment, this life.

Playin Around Randomness-020.jpg
the reason the laundry doesn't stay folded

Playin Around Randomness-022.jpg

Playin Around Randomness-017-Edit.jpg

Moments like this afternoon, with the rain clouds dimming the light and candles casting bobbing shadows on the walls making the kitchen feel so cozy.  Milani and I shared a cup of tea while Berkley played by our feet, scooting around in search of treasures.  My heart could have burst.  Honestly, these little moments can so easily slip right past.  They're so ordinary that they do so often just sneak right by.  But not lately.  Lately they've seemed so monumental, so surreal, so stop-me-in-my-tracks-in-my-face that I hope I can hang on to this keen sense of wonder.  I hope I can find a moment each and every day that makes me shake my head and marvel at how incredible life is.

Summer Lunch-Nap-012.jpg

Summer Lunch-Nap-009.jpg

Summer Lunch-Nap-007.jpg

I've even been getting glimpses of the relationship blossoming between my girls.  It's always there under the hair pulling and toy snatching, but sometimes the loving bond between these two is palpable, way more often than I would even expect.  A generous gesture with a toy, a loving touch on the cheek, a smile, a kiss, a pat on the head, even when they don't realize I'm watching.  They don't escape me, and there is nothing more heartwarming than seeing them love on each other.  I am so grateful these two will have each other.

Backyard Fun-003.jpg

Backyard Fun-004.jpg
lookout, she's crawling!

Backyard Fun-002.jpg
monkey see...

Backyard Fun-008.jpg
...monkey do

Backyard Fun-013.jpg

In the Backyard-003.jpg

In the Backyard-001.jpg

Wagon Rides-001.jpg

Adirondak Chair-007.jpg

Jumping June-001-Edit.jpg

Jumping June-009-Edit.jpg

Jumping June-015.jpg

As much as I knew that Berkley would keep a close eye on Milani, wanting to do all the things her big sissy can do, and wanting to have the things sissy has, I didn't expect the way Milani would strive just as hard to be like Berkley.  It's mutual, and reciprocal.  Sometimes I think Milani just wants to be the baby again.  Sometimes I think she is sincerely intrigued by the fun her sister is having.  Sometimes she is just looking to stir up a reaction from me.  It's constant, though, this pull and tug and meeting in the middle where baby turns toddler and back again, where neither one solely looks up to the other but instead they look across at each other, sister admiring sister.

 Wagon Rides-011.jpg

Wagon Rides-016-Edit.jpg

Wagon Rides-020-Edit-2.jpg

Wagon Rides-023.jpg

Wagon Rides-024.jpg

Well my girlie is stirring and I've gone on all blissed out and mushy long enough.  Time to put my hormones away and my head to the pillow.

Turning Point


The brisk mornings suggest pumpkin spice lattes, and the afternoons beg for lemon ice.

The stark difference between the coolness of shade and burning heat of direct sun.

The sunflowers stretch their long necks toward blue sky next to the first stray fallen leaves scattered across the lawn.

The shrill brakes of the school bus, and excited chatter of neighborhood kids accompany hot afternoons darting through the sprinkler.

The smell of burgers sizzling on a neighbor's grill drifts on the breeze as twilight inches earlier.

Flip flops on the bottom, hoodies on the top.

Kiddie pools and Football

Ice cream and Apple Cider

It's that time where the unmistakable characteristics of both seasons ebb and flow, coexisting and taking turns.  Fall will continue to gain ground, tipping the scales toward all things autumn; pumpkin and football and hot tea on rainy fall afternoons.  One day at at time.

I'll Have More Time When...

I sit on the bed with baby girl sleeping in my lap and big sister sleeping by my side.  The sun reflects off the neighbor's white siding making the room glow, the breeze sends the curtains billowing then sucks them back out against the screen.  Time seems to be moving slowly, peacefully.  And as I wonder why I don't find the time to blog more often I console myself "As soon as the weather cools down, things will slow down and you'll have more time".  The moment the thought floats across my consciousness I can't help but laugh.  Maybe I'm growing wiser, perhaps its just age and maturity, but I am slowly getting better at detecting the nonsense that gets conjured up in my head.  Better at detecting it but not necessarily better at overcoming it because I play this game so well.  The "Things will change when..." game.

I'll start eating more healthfully when I graduate from college - when we get engaged and I have to look good in a wedding dress - when I get pregnant - when I'm no longer pregnant - after I'm finished breastfeeding - after the holidays.

I'll be more organized once we own a home - after the baby comes - once the kids are more independent - after the kids move out.

I'll have more time once the weather cools down - when Jon finishes the other house - after the holidays - when the kids are in school.

This game is so versatile, it can be played out with nearly any scenario; saving money, losing weight, building relationships, endless possibilities!  It's so addicting and it's such a crock!  Seriously useless chasing someday and maybe one day.  Shoving off contentment, fulfillment, even happiness until the stars align.  At least I can recognize it and laugh.

Anyway, the point of putting my fingers to the keyboard was not this random tangent, and since at the moment I do have the time here's what we've been filling our time with;

Dalton Carnival

Partly out of habit and mostly to meet up with a dear friend and her littles, we made our way to the Dalton Carnival again this year.  We didn't hang out long, didn't sample the potato pancakes, didn't linger over a pitcher of miller light, the sun was sill high when we made our exit.  It was basically a hit and run.  Milani was scoping out the kids on the little rides so we decided to give them a go.  Armed with a half dozen tickets, Milani picked the race cars first.  The first couple laps she steered the car and smiled and waved.

Dalton Carnival-009.jpg

Dalton Carnival-007-Edit.jpg

Dalton Carnival-006.jpg

Dalton Carnival-008.jpg

The rest of the million or so laps looked like this;

Dalton Carnival-011.jpg

Dalton Carnival-013.jpg

I couldn't even begin to imagine what possibly caused the change of heart. 

We moved on to the bounce house where she willingly, and timidly, took off her shoes and climbed in;

Dalton Carnival-016-Edit.jpg

Then she stood in the corner for a minute or two looking mildly disturbed, watching the other kids bounce, before she hightailed it back out.

We gave away the last two tickets.

She left the carnival on the only ride she enjoyed;

Dalton Carnival-026-Edit.jpg

The Little Things
Some days the littlest things make me so happy.  

The way she lights up when she hears her daddy's truck.  And she can pick out his truck from all of the other diesel's that travel past our house.  The way she runs to the door to verify and erupts into song and dance.  The way she runs back to me to make sure I'm aware of his arrival.

Little Things-002-Edit.jpg

How she bursts out the back door to greet him, and turns around to make sure I'm on her heels.

Little Things-008.jpg

The way crocks squeak when they're gnawed on by toothless baby gums.  The fact that I allowed her to keep putting a shoe in her mouth because it made her so happy, and me so happy by extension.  And because of the cool sound it made.

Little Things-004.jpg

Little Things-005.jpg

Little Things-006.jpg
Hanging in the backyard turning ordinary into memorable.  Watching my big girl sudsing up the radio flyer like her life depended on it.




Watching my little girl inspect every blade of grass;
And grin from ear to ear when she catches me watching her.



Happy Valley
The wedding of my college roommate gave us good reason to take a mini vacation to Penn State.  Our first stop was Green Bowl, just as tasty as ever.  My girls got to stroll through down town, taking in the sights of the place I called home for five years.  Meandering down College Ave and up Allen Street, hanging out with the bronze pig;

Penn State-005-Edit.jpg

Penn State-007-Edit.jpg

Climbing atop the Lion Shrine;

Penn State-013.jpg

Penn State-017.jpg

Hanging out with the JoePa Statue...oh wait a minute.

Harford Fair (times three)
On the first day Jon was stationed at the fair the view out the car window looked like this;
Harford Fair-001-2.jpg
Harford Fair-001.jpg
But the rain gave way, and even though the clouds hung around, and sweatshirts stayed on, and a couple more sprinkles fell here and there, we had so much fun visiting all the animals.
Harford Fair-002-Edit.jpg

Harford Fair-004.jpg

Harford Fair-005.jpg

Harford Fair-003-Edit.jpg
Harford Fair-008.jpg
Harford Fair-009.jpg
Harford Fair-010.jpg
Harford Fair-011.jpg
Harford Fair-012.jpg
Harford Fair-014.jpg
Harford Fair-015-Edit.jpg
Harford Fair-016.jpg

Harford Fair-017.jpg

Harford Fair-020.jpg

Harford Fair-018.jpg

Harford Fair-019.jpg

Hanging in the tend with dad

Harford Fair-022.jpg

Harford Fair-021-Edit.jpg

The following day, under sunny skies, we tagged along with Ariana and crew for round two.  We visited the animals again

Harford Fair-031.jpg

Harford Fair-032-Edit.jpg

Harford Fair-033.jpg

Harford Fair-035-Edit.jpg

Harford Fair-036.jpg

Harford Fair-037.jpg

Birds of all kinds

Harford Fair-023.jpg

Harford Fair-024.jpg

Harford Fair-026.jpg

Harford Fair-028.jpg

Harford Fair-029-Edit.jpg

Harford Fair-030.jpg

And of course we visited the livestock again;
Harford Fair-040.jpg
Harford Fair-041.jpg
But this time Milani was more interested in stooping down and running her fingers through the dirt, scooping up fistfulls of wood shavings, and jumping off hay bales.

Harford Fair-034-Edit.jpg

And if you want to see Jadon and Landry get excited, set them loose in a military Hum V.

Harford Fair-039.jpg

Harford Fair-038-Edit.jpg

By our third trip to the fair I left the camera at home, and we were acquaintances with all the cows.

And now that a police siren just woke up the girls, I'll be back to blog again when...

Better Late Than Never

I've put serious consideration toward the idea of changing the name of this blog to "Better Late than Never".   I have a knack for storing up a months worth of pictures and happenings and unloading them in one cumbersome long-winded post.  At least I stick with what I'm good at.

Average, that was the summer forecast I heard the local weatherman deliver back in May.   He predicted that we could expect average rainfall and temperatures, and yet my garden is thirsty and the thermometer has been playing around in the nineties.  Average?  Not so much.  And the trend is holding true for summer adventures.  Seems like nothing yet this summer has been average.  June held nothing back, it delivered memorable adventures one after another.  Moments that made such an impact on Milani that she rehashed the details repeatedly during the days following.

Competing for Gold
We kicked off the Olympics early at a party celebrating Jadon and Landry's birthdays.  We caught up with friends and family at our favorite Dalton party spot while children swung like monkeys on the playground, and the smell of sizzling burgers and dogs wafted off the grill.  The kids competed in relay races, passing the Olympic torch, balancing eggs on spoons, and perching beanbags on their heads to the cheers of the spectators.  Milani gave the races a fair go until she decided that darting around the party wielding the Olympic torch was more exciting.  Everyone crossed the finish line winners and proudly sported their shiny golden medals.

Jadon and Landry Party-016.jpg

Jadon and Landry Party-021D.jpg

Jadon and Landry Party-032.jpg

Jadon and Landry Party-038.jpg

Jadon and Landry Party-039D.jpg

Jadon and Landry Party-036.jpg

Jadon and Landry Party-054D.jpg

Jadon and Landry Party-044.jpg

Jadon and Landry Party-004.jpg

Jadon and Landry Party-066.jpg

Side by side, so much a like and so very close, two brothers blew out candles and opened presents, graciously sharing equally the glory and excitement of their joint celebration.

Coolin' it Poolside 
On the days when the humidity feels like (as Jon puts it) getting smacked in the face with a hot wet rag, we've been scoping out the different public pools.  Grandma Andrea and I schlep picnic baskets, and quilts, and water bottles, and towels, and diapers, and toys, and strollers all from the trunk of my car to a shady spot near the shallow end where we slather on the SPF 50 and perch wide brimmed hats on little heads.  And I don't have a single picture of dripping pigtails or doggy paddles because I've been on the receiving end of cannon balls and coaching the kicking and paddling.

As I was swinging Milani around in the water watching water shining droplets radiating from her feet like little crystals and a grin eclipsing her entire face the thought crossed my mind "I wish my eyes were a camera".  At the time I meant it literally, thinking what a great shot it would be with a cool perspective and her unabashed glee.  Then all of a sudden the thought seemed so obviously stupid.  Sure my eyes don't capture moments in pixels on memory cards I can stick into my laptop and upload to Facebook, instead they capture moments that are stored away in my heart, seared forever into my memory, especially when I take the care to be present and the time to notice, really really notice, the details and the beauty and the happiness begging to be acknowledged and remembered.

Full of Hot Air
After one of our pool days at Lackawanna State Park we were unwinding on the playground, getting ready to pack it in and call it a day, when we heard the blast from the torch of a hot air balloon at the top of the hill.  We slung kids on hips and wheeled the stroller over uneven grass to the clearing where a crew was unpacking two hot air balloons.  We kept encouraging Milani that we were going to watch big balloons fly into the sky, but she kept giving us the side eye that suggested she thought we were crazy for mistaking a couple of big fire breathing baskets and a field full of colorful fabric for balloons.

We waited patiently while the crew slowly went through their drill, tugging on fabric and smoothing out wrinkles.  Both girls were mesmerized, staring wide eyed. When they finally they started inflating the balloons the process went so quickly, in moments they were full and the baskets were lifting off swiftly, gliding just over tree tops above our heads.

Hot Air Balloons-002.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-004.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-006.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-010.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-011.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-017D.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-020D.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-028.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-029.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-032D.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-039D.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-041.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-040.jpg

Milani trotted along, pointing, keeping her eyes glued in wonderment at the colorful balloons as they grew smaller and smaller in the distance.  For several days she told stories of fire and balloons in the sky.

Hot Air Balloons-049.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-057.jpg

Hot Air Balloons-060.jpg

Pop Pop Pop...Boom
We decided to take the girls to the fireworks at the middle school.  In years past, Milani never really had a problem with fireworks, but I was a little worried she might be at an age where she could be more fearful of the noise, so I prepped her leading up to the day of the fireworks letting her know we would be seeing fireworks that "Pop pop pop".  We arrived early and spread out our quilt.  As the sun set Milani darted around in the grass, flashing by her sister and eliciting hiccuping strings of baby squeals and giggles, and pausing to turn and ask us eagerly "Pop pop pop?".

Abington Fireworks-004.jpg

Abington Fireworks-010.jpg

Abington Fireworks-016.jpg

Abington Fireworks-023.jpg

Abington Fireworks-039d.jpg
                                                                                                                                Berkley screeching at the top of her lungs...girlfriend gets excited!

Abington Fireworks-021.jpg

Abington Fireworks-007.jpg

 We even sprung the two bucks for a glow necklace (that Milani lost interest in within minutes).  After the first "tester" firework was set off her tune changed from a lighthearted "Pop pop pop?" to a worried "Booomm!" that she delivered seriously with her chin lowered and her eyebrows furrowed.

Abington Fireworks-046.jpg

Abington Fireworks-034.jpg

She climbed into Jon's lap turned her face and covered her ears, and didn't leave that spot.  I worried it would be a bust, but as soon as Jon offered her his sunglasses she actually relaxed and enjoyed the whole firework show from behind her safety shades.  Berkley didn't even bat an eye, she melted into my arms and watched the whole show.

Abington Fireworks-078.jpg

Abington Fireworks-089.jpg

Abington Fireworks-091.jpg

Abington Fireworks-133.jpg

Abington Fireworks-144.jpg

We went to the Mohegan Sun fireworks a few days later, Berkley fell asleep amidst the explosions and the safety sunglasses worked their magic a second time.  In fact the rest of the week Milani asked almost daily "Pop pop boom?"

Bill's Blueberries
We gathered our buckets, packed up a lunch and hightailed it to Bill's Blueberries for opening day determined to beat the masses of people who would be coming to pick in the next couple weeks.

Blueberry Picking-001.jpg

Blueberry Picking-011.jpg

Blueberry Picking-012.jpg
She actually had the branch pulled right up to hr mouth but it snapped back as I took the picture.

Blueberry Picking-020.jpg

Blueberry Picking-021.jpg

Milani did so much better than last year at singling out the biggest, juiciest, bluest berries and devouring them.

Blueberry Picking-019.jpg

Blueberry Picking-007.jpg

Blueberry Picking-006.jpg

Blueberry Picking-014d.jpg

The boys did so much better than last year at picking some berries for their bucket in addition to those they popped in their mouths.

Blueberry Picking-028.jpg

Blueberry Picking-023.jpg

Forth of July
We celebrated the Fourth with family and neighbors at my Aunt Rose's annual July cookout.  Milani and Berkley both spent time in the pool with their cousins, passed between Jon, Uncle Jake and Aunt Ariana.

Forth of July-021d.jpg

Forth of July-011d.jpg

Fourth of July-004.jpg

Fourth of July-006.jpg

Forth of July-048d.jpg

Forth of July-079d.jpg

Fourth of July-027.jpg

Fourth of July-028.jpg

Fourth of July-029.jpg

Fourth of July-033.jpg

Fourth of July-043.jpg

Fourth of July-050.jpg

Fourth of July-052.jpg

Fourth of July-055.jpg

Fourth of July-058.jpg

Fourth of July-060.jpg

Fourth of July-069.jpg

Fourth of July-071.jpg

Fourth of July-063.jpg

Fourth of July-076.jpg

Milani dried off just long enough to nibble some hotdog and strawberries before she was begging to go back into the water, so she and I swam until the storm clouds approached and thunder rumbled in the distance.

We waited out the heavy rain huddled under a party tent, debating amongst ourselves whether we would get electrocuted if the tent were struck by lightening or if the current would be grounded by the metal.  We changed into dry clothes and headed home before the sun set, long before any "Pop pop booms".  Both girls fast asleep by the time we hit the highway.

Beach Day
Jon has been working steadily, constantly, on the other house, hoping desperately it will be rent worthy by September.  All summer we've said that as soon as he is to the point where we can slip away for a weekend, we will be hitting the beach for a couple days, and I can't wait because nobody loves the ocean quite the way Jon does, and I know his enthusiasm will be infectious.  He will dig, and swing little girls through the air, and body surf, and splash and make the beach absolutely magical for the girls.  Even though I know we will get some family time seaside by September, I couldn't turn down the opportunity to take a day trip with  Ariana and the gang.

We met up early in the morning and transformed Carmen's bachelormobile into a beach bound munchkinmobile, cramming beach bags into the trunk, carseats into the captain's chairs, and strapping an eight foot surfboard to the roof.  Despite two pit stops, a couple frustrating encounters with traffic, and a couple dozen rounds of "are we almost there yet?" our flip flops hit hot sand by lunchtime.

Beach Day-002.jpg

Beach Day-001d.jpg

Beach Day-005.jpg

Beach Day-009d.jpg

Beach Day-015d.jpg

Beach Day-020d.jpg

Beach Day-022.jpg

Beach Day-027.jpg

Beach Day-029.jpg

We spent the entire afternoon playing in surf, scouring for seashells, picnicking on beach towels, and moving shovels full of golden sand.

Beach Day-036.jpg

Beach Day-035d.jpg

Beach Day-053.jpg

Beach Day-050.jpg

Beach Day-049.jpg

Beach Day-063.jpg

Beach Day-056d.jpg

Beach Day-065.jpg

Beach Day-068.jpg

Beach Day-071.jpg

Beach Day-079.jpg

Beach Day-081d.jpg

Beach Day-083.jpg

Beach Day-086.jpg

Beach Day-093d.jpg

Beach Day-097.jpg

Beach Day-107.jpg

Beach Day-096.jpg 
Beach Day-115.jpg
Looking like she's enjoying beach day...

Beach Day-112.jpg
...until you realize that this is what her face looks like...sister wasn't feelin' the beach.

Beach Day-118.jpg
blueberry smile!

It was only when the sun started to dip lower in the sky, and our shoulders were turning crimson, that we packed everything back into the car and started homeward.  As we drove the kid chatter slowly quieted as one by one exhausted little heads nodded off. We arrived home in the dark and tucked sandy bodies between cool sheets, simultaneously exhausted and replenished by an afternoon in the ocean.

And Other Fun Stuff...
Besides all the grand adventures, we've been darting through sprinklers, sitting on quilts in the back yard, and eating popsicles quickly as they melt and run down our arms.  We've been taking quick trips to nearby playgrounds, and hitting up the farmer's market - beyond thrilled that it's farmers market season once again!

Laflin Playground-004D.jpg

Laflin Playground-001.jpg

Laflin Playground-007.jpg

Laflin Playground-008D.jpg

Laflin Playground-009.jpg

Laflin Playground-010.jpg

Planning our next adventures, because summer is only half over and there's a lot more fun to be had!