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.

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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.

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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.

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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?".

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                                                                                                                                Berkley screeching at the top of her lungs...girlfriend gets excited!

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Looking like she's enjoying beach day...

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...until you realize that this is what her face looks like...sister wasn't feelin' the beach.

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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!

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

Fresh Start {Part One: The Inside Story}

I sat quietly under the stars the other night for the first time in a long time, reclining under the expanse of navy with my face turned skyward.  I was surprised to realize, or re-realize, that the stars really do twinkle, winking and shimmering from the heavens.  Airplanes etched dashed, blinking patterns across the ink, stars on the move.

It was after two glasses of bold Cabernet, which was plenty to offer me a substantial buzz, a splash short of drunk.  They say a drunk man's words are a sober man's thoughts.  I discovered that a significantly tipsy mom's thoughts are an exhausted mom's release.  I was able to quiet the chronic din of judgment and fear, the voices of negativity and doubt and inferiority that tumble around in my skull and batter my tender soul.  And from the steady quiet that rests below the tumultuous turbulence, arose a sturdy sense of peace and happiness, and a great swell of gratitude for the countless ways that my life is blessed.  I made a mental note to drink more often.

On the twilight of my third decade in this body, I feel the need to acknowledge from where I came, and wipe the slate clean so that I can be receptive to the beauty that lies ahead.  Here I'll leave the baggage and burden, so that my steps can be light and my mind clear.

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The last handful of years have been a season of transformation and growth, fraught with the heavy pain and discomfort that accompany great expansion and evolution.  I am certain that it's impossible for the heart and soul to stretch and mature without the gut wrenching pangs of growing pains. 

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It wasn't so long ago that crippling depression and anxiety wrung the light out of my life with their gnarled and disfigured hands.  It was a grim morning when I snapped awake to the reality that I had wasted so much of my life determining the ways to make others happy and proud.  Laboring to acquire respect and acceptance and love.  I had never bothered to discover the ways to make myself happy and proud, neglected to earn my own respect and acceptance and love, without which  I found myself empty.  I yearned to go to sleep and never wake up, slumber was the only relief from the pain.  Anger poisoned my perception.  I felt robbed, cheated out of the happiness I felt I deserved. 

And so slowly, painfully, I began teasing apart the values and feelings that were authentic and true from those that I adopted to gain the favor of others.  Like a patient in rehab I slowly learned how to hear my soul again, I learned how to feel the subtleties of happiness and joy, and I honed my ability to recognize the things that stir my heart.  I came to accept that happiness is a choice, and perception is subjective, and I started taking responsibility for my attitude and outlook.  I was right in my belief that happiness is our birthright, I just finally realized that I had to reach out and seize it rather than expect that it fall into my angry depressed lap.  And I'm nervous to declare that I feel like I'm nearing the end of this stretch of my journey, like a butterfly ready to bust out of the cocoon and stretch her wings.  Anxious to take flight, and soar.

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Sure, every now and again I can feel depression and anxiety crowding my space, and I fear that they bring luggage to unpack for an extended stay.  I worry that I will relapse.  But I'm finding that the more I practice positivity (and it is a practice), the more natural it becomes, the easier it is to find my way back to that place of quiet joy that is always just beneath the disturbance.  I know that life is strung with an array of seasons, some uncomfortable, others peaceful.  But now I feel equipped to navigate the uncertain terrain; with a clear compass and in tune with my soul I won't stray off my path.  Authenticity is my mantra.

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Cleaning Schedule: Fail

After writing my last post, I felt haunted by the phantom Super-Mom.  I found myself wallowing in my "I don't even come close" self pity, that and some unfolded laundry, dirty dishes, random clutter and disorganization.  I felt like I needed to devise a system, some kind of schedule to help me keep the housework under control.  And so I organized one neatly on a dry erase calendar and stuck it to the side of the refrigerator.  Easy Peasy.  Different rooms had different days, and different days carried different goals, and loads of laundry were each assigned a specific weekday.  It was fool proof...but not Ang proof.  After one week, I'm already behind schedule.  Cleaning schedule FAIL.  Truth be told, I could absolutely buck up, dig in my heels, and make this cleaning schedule a priority.  But truth be told, I don't wanna.

Wednesday: Bedroom/Darks
According to my dry erase calendar, Wednesday morning should have been dedicated to cleaning my bedroom and washing our darks, instead we met "Yanna" (as Milani calls her), and the gang to go strawberry picking.  All morning as we got ourselves dressed, and packed up our picnic lunch, Milani sang a strawberry song.  She was so eager to sink her teeth into a berry that she snagged one right off the produce stand as we picked up our buckets.  She simply just could not wait any longer!

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Berkley spent a little while strapped to my back before she got antsy, then I sat her in the row in front of me, propped up against my knees.  She happily shuffled her pudgy little baby feet in the straw, and grabbed for nearby leaves.

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Once, as I scooted Berkley forward her hat flopped down over her face.  She didn't fuss, or cry, she just reached out from under the brim of her hat with two chubby little hands and felt around for more leaves, without a peep.  It was so funny Ariana almost had tears streaming down her face.

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We all had to sample the goods.  The kids plunked berries into their buckets, and then snuck them  from their buckets to their mouths, until they all had red berry goatees.

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For being so eager to get her hands on a strawberry, Milani had her fill of picking, and eating long before our buckets were filled.  Sister knows what she wants and is getting good at dishing out the sass when she doesn't get her way.

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Sass Face

Luckily, Yanna offered her a comfy lap seat until we finished picking.  As I was weighing and paying for my berries, the produce swindler struck again.  Milani had her eye on the yellow peppers, and swiped one before I could stop her.  I convinced Milani to hand it over long enough to weigh and pay for it, then she took hungry bites out of it like an apple. (She also does this at the grocery store; I'll be bagging corn and will turn around to find her happily chowing down on a green pepper.  I'm just glad that fresh produce is the target of her thievery.)

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This is the face I get when I ask her to smile.

After a picnic lunch, and some time running around by the stream, we packed up and headed home.  Both girls were fast asleep in their car seats within minutes.

Thursday: Downstairs/Girls Lights
Thursday morning I was scheduled to clean the downstairs and wash the girls lights, but instead opted to meet Grandma Andrea for strawberry picking round two.

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I think Milani may have been strawberry'd out, she only tasted a berry or two.  She wasn't quite as interested in picking berries, but the flag kept her busy parading up and down the row.

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And we solved Berkley's floppy hat problem.  Kind of.

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After another picnic lunch, Milani trotted back and forth from the parking lot to the stream, collecting fistfuls of rocks and plunking them into the babbling water.

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I love the way certain activities are instinctive, imprinted into kid DNA.  Every kid loves throwing rocks into water.  Every kid will continue throwing rocks into water until they run out of rocks or are forced, unhappily, to stop.  It never gets old.

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We watched as dark gray clouds drifted in, and headed back to the car when they started to release fat raindrops.

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And again, plumb tuckered out from all the flag waving and rock throwing, both girls were asleep in record time.

Saturday: Bathroom/Whites
As much as I cherish my days with my girls, it is the time when Jon is home from work, that we all get to hang out together as a family of four, that is most precious to me.  Recently Jon has been working on Saturdays, and even though I hate the separation, I know he is working hard to provide for his girls, and anxiously looking forward to time with his family. 

We took a trip to Hillside Farm to visit the "Bak-a Bak-a's" (Chickens) and share some ice cream.

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Jon and I are both animal lovers, and Milani inherited every ounce of our love of creatures.  She had a ball feeding hay to the cows, and feeling their sticky noses.  In fact, whenever we make the trip to Hillside, she is always more interested in the animals than the ice cream (That trait, however, she did not inherit from me.)

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Milani glows in the presence of "Daddy Doo", absolutely lights up in his company.

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Tuesday: Upstairs/Lights
From the very first night Milani came home from the hospital she has slept with me.  In the beginning she curled up like a little tree frog on my chest.  As she got bigger she earned a spot in between Jon and I, nestled in the crook of my arm.  She grew to sleep sideways and upside down and usually took up more room than either of us.  Once Berkley came along, my sliver or bed real estate shrank even further, with Milani in the middle usually plastered to my back and Berkley kept safe in the crook of my outside arm.

This sleeping arrangement, however, has gotten too tight, and we decided it was time to take down the crib (that neither girls has ever slept in) and put up our old full bed in the girls' room.  I turned the allen wrench, removing screws one by one, remembering the comedy act of putting it together.  I was eight months pregnant with Milani, reading the directions to Jon, who has no patience for reading directions himself.  It was only yesterday that I was anticipating the arrival of my first daughter.

Tuesday night, Milani and Jon slept in her bedroom on her new big girl bed.  I slept without her for the third night since the day she was born. (The other two nights I was away from her I was in the hospital with Berkley.)  It was so bittersweet.  For the first time in ages I could stretch out, and get comfortable, but I miss watching her sleep peacefully next to me while I'm up nursing Berkley.  I miss her groggy smile first thing in the morning, with her hair all ruffled and her gookie (binkie) in sideways.

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My Milani is rapidly growing into a big, independent, confident girl, right before my eyes.  Berkley will be sitting up within weeks, and crawling by the end of the summer.  I was reminded this week that my girls are only little for a brief moment, and I want to spend this precious short time I get with them wisely.  I want to make sure I soak up every moment, memorize every facial expression, sear into my soul as many blessed memories I can.  Before I know it they will both be sleeping in another room, then another house, eventually maybe another state.  And then, if it's even still important to me, I will have plenty of time to get back to my cleaning schedule

Work Hard, Play Hard

The past handful of weeks can be summed up by our current mantra Work hard - Play hard.  We spent the warm afternoons hitting up different playgrounds, from Nay Aug, to Laflin, and around to McDade, and spent the evenings in the yard soaking up every last golden ray of glorious sun.  Our cheeks are already sun kissed and it's only the beginning of April.  That early warm streak may have left me a little spoiled, ok a lot spoiled in the sense that when I check the weather I grumble over the high temperature forecast of fifty two degrees.  Wake up call for Angelina, it's only April!

In the evenings after Milani's breaths fall slowly and heavily into slumber, I've been cracking out the computer and feverishly googling, and researching, punching keys into strands of foreign html code building my website, designing business cards, and logos, and watermarks.  I know it's a bit cliche with Easter only a day away, but I'm totally jiving with the theme of rebirth and renewal.  I have a fresh sense of purpose and drive, and my eyes are on the prize!  I might actually be coming full circle from those dark days after I ditched that promising engineering career without a clue what direction to take, uncertain what pastimes I even enjoyed.  Pausing to knock on wood.  Good things are happening here.

And this little hiatus from writing was like time separated from a loved one.  Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.  I've been craving the time to knit words into stories, and plaster this space with pictures of my littles, I just had to let my work momentum wane first.  I realize just how therapeutic this blog is, the way it encourages me to shift my perspective, and squint through the fog to gain focus and clarity.  I am certain now more than ever that my mental health depends on the sweet release I get from tapping out my thoughts onto this page, and the importance of creating the time for me to write amidst the busy days. 

Since I have so many pictures accumulated from the past few weeks, and because a picture is worth a thousand words, I will let them mostly do the talking - mostly.

Around the House:
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daddy's hat

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Milani in a box

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dress up

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she still loves hanin' in the crate.

Nay Aug Park:

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A Face Only a Father Could Love:

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Back in the Garden:

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Berkley's Funny Faces:

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Laflin Playground Round One:

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Berkley in the Backyard:

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Laflin Playground Round Two:

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Watching Buds...


Turn into Blossoms:

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Around the Backyard:

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McDade Playground:











I'm looking forward to more busy days, and striving to seek out the balance between the work and the play.  I still have a lot of work on my plate, but I will be making it a point to carve out more time to write and to post.  

Happy Easter!

It's All Good

I am not an inherently optimistic person, but I think it's a virtue worth cultivating and I'm always working toward it.  I don't like to think of myself as pessimistic, maybe more semi-cynical, or maybe just a little irritable and cranky since I've only slept through the night a dozen times in two and a half years.  The first three newborn months are the hardest for me, with my little one nursing every two hours, and morning arriving way too quickly.  And lately I've been noticing my patience dwindling, and frustrations mounting over little insignificant things.  I notice the muscles in my shoulders shortening and my jaw tightening, and my voice rises several pitches attempting to feign kindness and convince Milani (and myself) that I'm not about to go off the deep end.

Coupled with my all-or-nothing-go-big-or-go-home attitude that lends me to be disappointed in myself with any grade below an A, or become obsessive about my diet when I attempt to make healthier choices, I have a crippling habit of labeling my day as bad at the first meltdown or frustration.  Like when Milani wakes up tired, and teary, and clingy, and I think to myself "It's going to be one of those days huh?"  And then I childishly cling to, and defend, and protect my bad day.  Like I'm five and pouting after being told that I can't have a candy bar, and then someone tries to tickle me and make me laugh, and I resist it as hard as I possibly can because I'd rather be mad than give in, get over it, and laugh. Yeah, I cut off my nose to spite my face.

I'm learning, though, to loosen my death grip on the tough moments and open myself to a change of attitude.  Even a small shift can change the course of the day, and in retrospect the positive moments heavily outshine the crappy ones.  Some days something as small as a booty shakin' session in the kitchen to "Moves like Jagger", or some time on the floor really connecting and playing with my girls can swing the energy in a much better direction.

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tummy time

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these eyelashes are insane, I can't get enough.

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"look mama, I have lashes too!"

Other days it requires rallying the troops, packing snacks and the diaper bag, bundling babies, putting effort behind the transformation. It's rarely easy, sometimes there are tears and meltdowns, but when I keep my eyes on the prize it's always worth the effort in the end.

Like when we get it together for a walk up the hill, and I huff and puff with a twenty five pound kid in the stroller, an eleven pounder strapped to my chest and a seventy five pound dog on the leash.




The sun was warm on our faces despite the chill in the wind, and the fresh air breathed new life into the four of us.  And this little face peeked at me through the back of the stroller whenever we paused.




We got to spend more time with the cousins.  **Most of the following pictures were snapped on my camera by Ariana or Jake.  They turned out great!**

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Jadon's whistle face

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Paisley girl's got the lashes too!

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Grandma Debbie 

The afternoon included a dance party in the living room, good natured rough housing, and some cuddle time with Grandma Debbie.  And I don't know a kid who doesn't love plucking at a guitar.

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Milani has always loved music, it was one of the first things that stopped her crying as a newborn.  She could pluck the strings on Jon's guitar before she could crawl.  Now she points to the kitchen radio for me to turn it on, and immediately gets her groove on.  If a song with a good beat comes on while she's in her highchair her eyes close and her head sways side to side, nodding here and there, her eyebrows furrowing with emotion.  It's clear that music moves her in a very real way, she rises and falls with it, soars on the notes.  Both Jon and I have music in our background, but I think she gets the real raw passion for it from Jon, he's the only person I know who can get excited about the riffs on a plastic toy guitar.

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The occasional nap time meltdown aside, Milani is really beginning to step into and embrace her role as a big sister.  Big sissy is starting to want to help me take care of little Berkley; she helps me change diapers, and change outfits.  She covers her sister with blankets, and helps me give her baths.  I know that with these two sisters, the best is yet to come.

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Even though I can't see any reason not to make heart shaped cookies on a random Wednesday, or pick up some balloons just for the fun of it, when the calendar gives me a reason to make a day more special, and create memories with my cuties, I want to make the most of it.

When else can you get away with wearing a pink tutu, and pink stripes with a tulle heart?  Oh yeah, we took Valentines Day that seriously. 

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We hit up the  grocery store for some sugar cookie decorations and the dollar store for balloons.  Milani was an amazing sous-chef, helping me every step of the way through the heart shaped cookie making process. 

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It occurred to me that she was only interested in helping because she knows the house rules on baking, but it was so clear that she was actually enjoying helping me.  From the moment she was born, I've looked forward to the day when she would want to help me bake, to dump the flour into the mixer, and spoon cookies onto the sheet, the way I helped my mother.  Today was that day, and I couldn't have imagined a better Valentine's Day gift.

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"come 'on cookies!"

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"I want a cookie so bad I'll eat a balloon"

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She iced the cookies, and sprinkled the cookies, and helped herself to some heart sprinkles of course.

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I can't speak for Milani or Berkley, but my Valentine's Day was perfect, everything I hoped it would be.  The effort to make it special was so worth the amazing afternoon we spent together, and I hope that my girls will feel and know the love behind our afternoons together.

This morning we all awoke with stuffy noses, and scratchy throats so we nestled in for a quiet day of rest.  We came down off our holiday induced sugar high and welcomed the downtime that balances out activity filled afternoons.  The grey sky left the house dim and cozy and perfect for an afternoon nap.  And all I can think is that frustration, and exhaustion, and short patience can't even distort my view this evening, these days are nothing but good.  It's all good.

A String of Firsts and Other Random Goodness

We've had a string of firsts in the past couple weeks.

First Fever

After twenty months of perfect health, my girl with the iron clad immune system suffered her first fever.  Her big chocolate eyes were droopy and glassy, the apples of her cheeks were flushed and hot, and given the opportunity I'm certain she would have crawled back into the womb.  All she wanted was to cling tightly to me and cuddle, so we three girls stayed in pajamas and watched cartoons all snuggled together in bed; my big girl dozed on and off at my side while my little babe nursed on my lap.  And while it was difficult to watch her struggle, knowing how uncomfortable she was, there came a certain sense of peace and fulfillment in being able to comfort and nurture her; in kissing her hot forehead and reminding her that everything will be ok.  It's such a beautiful honor to be the one she wants when she doesn't feel well, to feel the weight of her warm head on my shoulder and her tight hug as she melts into me.  I certainly prefer my charismatic girl in good health and good spirits, but I will treasure these opportunities to be needed, and these moments when a mother's kiss makes everything all better.


First Outing

Milani, Berkley and I ventured out on our first trip to the grocery store and it went much more smoothly than I envisioned it might.  I'll admit that I accidentally left the grocery list on the kitchen table, and forgot my reusable bags, but with Berkley tucked in the wrap and Milani in her seat in the shopping cart we managed to fill our cart and get home without any major meltdowns or tears (from either me or Milani).  

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It went so well I briefly entertained the idea of making a trip to Target before reminding myself that there is no extra credit in errand running and it's much smarter to quit while I'm ahead.


First Time Playing With Play Doh

Carmen got Milani a sweet Play Doh kit for Christmas and we broke it out this week, and I totally forgot how fun Play Doh is!  I don't know who has a better time, me or Milani. 






She likes to roll it out flat and slice it with the plastic Play Doh knife.  I prefer to mold and sculpt things, and I'm noticing a trend.  I almost always make food; either it's a Play Doh hot dog, or ice cream cone, or Hershey kiss.  I'm wondering if this is like Play Doh therapy, uncovering my unhealthy preoccupation with my next meal, something similar to a psychologist's ink blot test. 

And if that isn't alarming enough, the first time Milani and I played with the yellow Play Doh, right after I finished sculpting fries and a burger, I get the brilliant idea to make a Play Doh booger and dangle it from my nose (because this is how a good parent models acceptable behavior).  Later the same day I see Jon playing with Milani and the yellow Play Doh and what does he do?  You better believe he ALSO makes a Play Doh booger and dangles it from his nose.  Something to think about when Milani finds herself in therapy some day (the real kind with actual ink blot tests).


I wish there were a pause button, a way to keep my littles tiny just a bit longer, but I know that trying to keep them small is like trying to hold water, and I know that I will love every stage once we're there.  My little Berkley is already shifting away from newborn and toward baby.  I want to capture all her newborn goodness before it slips away.

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I love the little curve in her lower legs that remind me how only three short weeks ago she was all snug and comfy in my tummy, and the way she still wants her arms and legs all snug and close to her in a little ball. 

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I love her itty bitty little finger and toe nails that are still so soft, and the way her little wrinkled feet can still fold up against her shins all compact. 

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And seriously, how delicious are baby feet?  I can't stop taking pictures of them! 


A couple days ago I noticed a comment posted on a friend's facebook page congratulating her on the arrival of her sweet baby boy, it said "Welcome to the best part of LIVING - Being a parent!" and I realized with so much gratitude that those words ring entirely true for me.  I honestly can't imagine how I got so lucky to have these two perfect souls entrusted into my care, to marvel at the way they've molded my heart and realize how deeply grateful I am to be the one that they call Mama.

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The fashionista at it again rocking my makeup bag for a hat.
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She's certainly creative and original.

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A Little of This...and a Little of That

We're entering the final stretch, where any day could be the day, where my phone calls are answered with an excited "Are you in labor?".

I'm anxious to meet our little one, anxious to find out if baby V is a he baby or she baby, and at the same time nervous.  Scared of the unknown, of the way the shift from a family of three to a family of four will change the dynamic of our little home and the routine we've grown comfortable with.  Worried I will feel less connected to Milani, that I won't be able to cuddle during her naps anymore or unwind for bedtime, just the two of us, curled up with books the way we do now.   I don't want to disappoint my girl, and yet I'm simultaneously afraid I won't feel the same wild bond with my new darling that I have with Milani.  I worry that the little jolt our life is about to receive might leave us all unsettled for good, unable to find our way back to a place of balance and familiarity.  And from my heart I can hear the faint whisper of the truth reassuring me that these fears have no ground to stand on.  I know they will dissolve and seem irrationally absurd in hindsight, but I guess I have to feel them and face them, to recognize them and live them in order for them to eventually fade into retrospection.

In the meantime Milani and I have been dividing our time between doing a lot of things and doing a lot of nothing, usually settling somewhere in between.

I don't remember this tree really producing many leaves in years past, and raking crispy leaves into a heaping pile and diving in head first hadn't really occurred to me since I was thirteen or so, but it's these little things that Milani opens my eyes to, that she brings into focus and gives meaning to. 

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She reminds me of the simple pleasures that keep us kids at heart, that fade into the background if left unnoticed.  We spent more than one afternoon in the backyard piling up the leaves and thrashing through and rolling in them.

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My girl is an amazing little helper, quick to grab the rake and drag it around, and eager to pile handful after handful of leaves into our compost box. 

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Over the summer we managed to grow a random surprise vine that sprang from a seed in last years compost.  It took us a while to figure out what the vine was, we debated whether it was squash, or watermelon, finally determining that they were pumpkins.  We managed to score four pumpkins from our surprise vine, they'll make fantastic pie.

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Milani spent one last afternoon running her fingers through the soil in the garden, selecting little chunks of dirt and tossing them to watch them crumble as they hit the ground.  One last afternoon with dirt caked to the booty of her pants and black fingernails until the return of spring.

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We spent an afternoon exploring the Children's Library with Grandma Andrea.  Whimsical clouds, Mary Poppins, an airplane, and NASA rocket all soared overhead, captivating my girl's attention and imagination.

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Milani arranged and rearranged magnetic letters, and played with a train table. 

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She climbed atop Thomas the Tank Engine and perused picture books. 

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She even took her place on stage, the character that she is.  Her world is her stage.

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We stopped to play with the electric trains, watching them circle their tracks, touring their tiny village,

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And of course had to visit with a donkey on our way to the car.

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For as much as I anticipate the fall, and rant and rave about how much I love it, I never really get too disappointed when I realize that all of the trees have become completely barren and the view out the window in the morning reveals a dusting of pearlescent frost.  By the time I realize that autumn has passed my attention is already captivated by the twinkling lights and fresh evergreens of the holidays.  Since Thanksgiving, the radio in the kitchen has streamed a continuous flow of Christmas Carols and our Elf friend has returned from the North Pole to keep watch of our nest.  We will be getting our Christmas tree soon, and I can't wait for the heavenly scent of pine to infiltrate every corner of our home and to see it's lights reflected in the enchanted eyes of my curious girl.

And of course, I can hardly wait to hold in my arms the most blessed gift we will receive this Christmas.

Autumn, Bath Faces, and Fish Kisses Oh My!

One of these days I'll get my act together enough to write more frequent, normal length posts, keeping up with our adventures and my pictures so I stop posting massive epics.  Today is not that day.


First Fall Adventure

I love the fall.  It is, hands down, my favorite season of the year.  Pumpkin Spice coffee?  Yes please!  Orange?  My favorite color!  Fresh apple cider, cozy wool sweaters, the crisp breeze, boots, scarves and hats, mouthwatering roasted turkey and stuffing, swirling leaf cyclones, Penn State football, absolutely anything pumpkin flavored...the list could go on.  This season affects me on a deeper level, in a way I don't entirely understand.  My energy completely shifts and settles into a content state of peace.  I am calmer, and happier in the fall.  Always.

In keeping with the spirit of the season, Milani and I met up with Ariana, Jake and crew at Miller's Farm.  Although we didn't make it onto the hayride we spent several hours playing hard, breathing deeply lungfuls of fresh autumn air, squishing our boots (and once a tush) into the soft mud.

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Milani is brave.  There isn't much that scares her, and aren't many things she isn't daring enough to attempt.  I mentioned that the slide is quickly surpassing the swings as her favorite playground attraction, and I'm not only talking about the mini, little kid slide.  No, sister doesn't discriminate.  She'll ride the mini slide, then the tallest straightest fastest one, then the spiral, making her way back through the lineup.

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So I'm not entirely sure why I hadn't anticipated that she would come flying down one of the long, fast tube slides at Miller's.

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She didn't even pause, in fact, she caught me completely off guard the first time she came cruising down, shooting out the bottom long before I was prepared to catch her.  And her awkward landing didn't deter her in the slightest from taking the plunge again, and again.

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We watched the boys debate and negotiate their pumpkin selection until they unanimously selected the most gigantic pumpkin of the bunch.  And we devoured the apple cider doughnuts that Ariana graciously shared with us. Next time we'll take a trip on the hayride and make sure to bring some extra apple cider doughnuts home, but all in all it was a perfect first fall adventure.


Bath Time Funny Faces

If you ask Milani if she'd like to get in the tub, her answer is always an enthusiastic head nod as she heads for the stairs and hightails it toward the bathroom.  I have yet to see her turn down a bath invite.  She loves sloshing around in the tub, dumping water from one cup to another, stomping and splashing and making puddles.  Her enjoyment and happiness, as she plays in the water, are so pure and simple that they're infectious.  And her faces are so expressive and charismatic, it's nearly impossible to watch her play without smiling and laughing along with her.

Milani's "Squeeze the Washcloth" Face

While bath time is one of my favorites because it's a sure bet to put girlfriend in a good mood, always littered with giggles and grins, I've grown to cherish the purity she radiates through everything she does.  Whether she is excited and happy, or angry and having a total meltdown, she is always honest and genuine.  She feels every emotion and sees it through, spends time with it and then moves along. There's never an internal struggle to change the way she feels, or stuff an emotion down so she doesn't have to deal with it.  She doesn't pass judgment or wonder what anyone else will think about her emotions.  I have room to learn from her honesty, to be authentic with myself and my emotions the way our little ones are before they learn from us that certain emotions are better kept bottled up.  I hope she will keep that innocent joy in her heart and authenticity in her soul, that she will always be in tune with the honesty of her feelings, and keep making funny faces in the tub.


Downtime and Funtime

It's so easy to get swept away in the daily grind, to get caught up in the errands and the chores, and fall into a rut, and I try to remind myself often that I have control over how each of Milani's days unfold.  I determine whether we'll spend the day at home, playing with blocks in the living room, or at the playground in the fresh air, or on an adventure with the Mom's Group to the butterfly house.

Don't get me wrong, I truly believe that the substance of life, the real beauty, is often found in the unplanned, the in between, the downtime.  That many of life's most sparkling moments are nestled right in front of us among the familiar details of an ordinary day.  Milani is so laid back, she is completely content scattering crayons across the living room floor, collecting them back into the bucket and dumping them out again.

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"What's the problem with the graffiti?  Michelangelo painted on the ceiling."

Building towers with her blocks, dressing up in her favorite hats, and loving on her stuffed animals.


She can kill an hour engrossed with a box of plastic silverware, and some days these quiet afternoons at home are restorative and relaxing.  Sometimes they are exactly what we both need.

But some days we need an adventure, a little bit of excitement, something so special that as Milani drifts to sleep at the end of the day she is thinking "Man today was a great day!"  Sometimes it's fresh air and sunshine we're craving, and the way a couple hours at the playground leave us both breathless and happy.

The view looking down (and I had to bend forward to even see my feet)                                                The view looking up.  Love this tree!                       

Sometimes it's a meet up with the Mom's Group, an activity we wouldn't normally do on our own, and the good company of other moms and tots.  Last week we visited the Steamtown National Historic Site.

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We tried on the conductor's hat and wandered around the museum checking out the old steam engines and poking our heads into the train car displays.

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We took a short ride on the train, and watched out the window as old passenger cars and modern freight box cars decorated with graffiti passed by in the train yard.

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We nibbled on goldfish and pretzels and listened as the guide described how these tracks years ago would have carried eager travelers to New York City dressed in their finest.  Milani would glance back from her perch at the window to throw me an excited grin, or a fish face kiss, and by the end she had the "Choo Choo" nailed.

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It's those moments, when I catch sight of her face all lit up, that reaffirm why we scramble to devour our cheerios and get ourselves dressed in the morning.  Why we pack our bags full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and goldfish snacks and water bottles and cameras, and scurry out the door to get to a meet up; that fish face kiss makes it worthwhile.  

Happy Weekend!

Catching up With the Calendar

Somehow, in the midst of September's doctor appointments and ultrasounds, summer managed to slip quietly out the back door without my even noticing.  The seasons have shifted and the page of the calendar has turned to a new month, and I find myself desperately needing to catch up with it all.  To recognize the adventures we've had during those final weeks of summer that managed to get tossed aside and left behind in the craziness.


Fair Season

One of the first hints that summer is near its end and autumn lies closer than I even realize, is the arrival of the Harford Fair. Each year Jon's company sets up a stand, and on the days that Jon has fair duty I tag along to keep him company.  The tent sits directly across from the bingo hall, and all afternoon we hear "B4, that's B4...N15, that's N15"  Bingo letters and numbers float around in my dreams on the nights after I spend an afternoon at the fair.

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Last year Milani was only three months old, and she slept for most of the afternoon on a quilt in the corner of the tent, but this year she wanted to go, go, go.  We walked and walked, checking out the rides, and greasy food stands, the tractors and farm animals.  As we were toddling steadily along the walkway, Milani did an abrupt 180 and hightailed it in the opposite direction.  It took me a minute to figure out what caused the about-face when I noticed a yellow balloon in the sea of people ahead, bobbing along behind a little boy.  Sister had her sights set, and she was closing in, fast!  We asked the boy's mother where they got their balloon, then marched straight to the People's National Bank stand to score our own.

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Milani could entertain herself for hours with a balloon.  She talks to it, strings it along like a close friend, and tugs on the string to reel it in for a hug.  With balloon by her side she climbed bravely up the stairs of the empty grandstand.

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We also visited the Wyoming County Fair, where Milani fostered an instant attraction to the carousel.  She stood in awe, pointing and squealing at the horses as they bobbed past.  Oddly enough she was most interested in the only non-horse, weird rabbit creature on the entire ride.  She would search it out and point to it, making sure I saw, every time it passed.  So we got her little hand stamped, and she and Jon went for some rides.

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We stayed until the sun sank well below the horizon and the sky deepened to a rich navy.  The rides cast a glow that could be seen for miles as we drove toward home on winding roads with an exhausted, sleeping baby in the back seat.

The Butterfly House

With the Mom's Group, Milani and I took a trip to visit the Creekside Gardens Butterfly House.  The house, a wooden frame covered in netting and filled with butterflies and gorgeous flowering perennials, was nestled in the gardening center surrounded by eclectic planted urns and hanging baskets.

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Inside the house, we learned about the life cycle of the butterflies, and the kids got a sugar stick to attempt to attract and feed a butterfly.  Milani was content to stick close to my side and watch the butterflies eat watermelon.  Every now and then she would trow a peek back in my direction, looking for feedback as to whether she should be excited or entirely wigged out by the butterflies.

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After leaving the butterfly house, we spent some time in the children's garden, surrounded by eclectic, colorfully whimsical welded creatures, and some bubbling stone fountains.  Milani loaded truck after truck full of pebbles from the pebble garden.  Scattered throughout the ordinary, gray pebbles were pretty, colorful, polished rocks.  Stumbling upon one was like discovering hidden treasure and made all the digging and hauling of rock even more rewarding.

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Creekside Gardens hosted a butterfly release event at the end of September, and all the little butterflies began their long, fall migration south to Mexico.  We will definitely be visiting the butterflies, and the children's garden again next year.


Right about the time my inner world was erupting into turmoil, bubbling over with the fear and anxiety of my pregnancy issues, when ultrasound after ultrasound were dumping entirely too much emotional weight for me to process, the skies dumped entirely too much water for the river to handle.  My inner turbulence was eerily reflected in the rising, brown, angry water that spilled over the banks.  So many neighbors, people living within walking distance from my house, found their homes or businesses flooded, completely destroyed.


My heart breaks as I drive through these areas and see the piles on the curbs of damaged belongings that used to be parts of the homes, and see people courageously and desperately working to regain their footing, and their lives.  It makes me wonder why these things happen, why disastrous and heartbreaking circumstances surface in our lives.  I really can't come up with the why but I have come to believe the truth in the fact that what doesn't kill us does indeed make us stronger. 

Maybe when we struggle through a pregnancy, or loss, or flood we are actually being given a precious opportunity to rise up and overcome.  To unite with one another and become stronger individually and as a community.  To arrive at a place with more wisdom and richness and a greater reverence for life than the place we left behind. 

 Sunny September Sunday

The last Sunday in September was gorgeous.  The skies were powder blue with gorgeous white clouds, and the sun was warm on our skin.  We spent the afternoon enjoying the fresh air at the playground. 

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Milani is fearless at the playground, climbing rock walls and crossing wobbly bridges, and while the swings are still her favorite the slide is quickly gaining ground.  It doesn't matter how steep or fast, she flies down with an open mouth grin.

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At home, we spent the rest of the day in the yard and the garden.  It's always a little sad to see the end of the season drawing close, knowing that all the planting, and weeding, and harvesting is about to end.  To watch the tomato plants slowly turn brown, and to know that we might only get a handful more cucumbers and peppers before the first frost.  

Usually Milani just wanders around the garden popping green cherry tomatoes off the plants and into her mouth, trampling anything in her path.  This time she took a sincere interest in the soil.  She found a spade and cultivator and meticulously moved dirt from one spot to the next, her concentration unwavering.  

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It's so heartwarming to watch her gain interest in the things that I find rewarding.  I will always give her to space to nurture her own individual interests, but won't mind if she digs barefoot in the dirt next to me every summer.

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The crispness on the breeze and changing leaves are unmistakable, autumn is in full swing and I can't say that I'm disappointed by summer's end.  I certainly love the hot, sunny summer days and all the fun we've had this year, but for some reason I am most optimistic, happy, and at peace in the fall.  I love the colors, and the weather, and anything that tastes like pumpkin, and I am ready to embrace this new season.

To Market, To Market

I know that it's no secret how much I love the farmer's market; it truly is the highlight of my summer.  It's the thing I look forward to the most once the weather starts to turn, and is a source of happiness and well being right up until Thanksgiving.

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I can't even really explain why it's so nurturing to my soul to walk up and down the isle, taking in the vibrant colors and beautiful textures; the diverse display is like art.

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Milani and I visit the market at least twice a week, even if it's only an excuse to get out of the house and enjoy the open air, but we manage never to leave empty handed.  Lately we've been devouring peaches and nectarines.  We bring some home every single market visit, and they vanish within days.

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And in keeping with my grand canning plan, I canned a half bushel of peaches.  They sit on the shelf, all golden and sweet in their shiny jars, patiently waiting to fulfill a winter peach craving some random day in December.  I will probably can a peck more, now that I know how quickly peaches disappear in this house.

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During the months that the farmer's market is open, I don't even visit the produce section of the grocery store, and we don't miss it.  Chiquita Bananas and Dole Pineapples can't hold a flame to local peaches in season.  Soon enough we'll be on to pears and apples, probably putting them down the hatch as quickly as the peaches.

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During our market visit today, the sky was the most gorgeous powder blue, and soft white clouds drifted in a breeze that carried the unmistakeable crispness of autumn.

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I can't help but feel a little sad as the end to summer draws near, but at least my market will be open until Thanksgiving, keeping me company when the first frosts blanket the lawn.

Lazy Sunday

Sundays are the one day a week we get an entire day together as a family, from the first rays of morning sun until all six of our eyes are closed peacefully in slumber.  I anticipate them the way some anticipate Friday nights, and start looking forward to the next by the time Wednesday rolls around.

They're not typically too exciting, most are spent at home with something simmering in the kitchen filling the house with mouthwatering smells, and the sound of a sporting event drifting from the T.V.  This Sunday was no different, and it was perfect.  The dark clouds blanketing the sky produced quiet showers all afternoon, and cast the house in a cozy, dim light while a couple candles flickered offering their golden glow.   Random applause sounded through the living room from the PGA Championship, and homemade tomato sauce spent the afternoon thickening on the stove.

The highlight of our lazy Sunday came shortly after lunch and not long before nap time when we all gathered in the kitchen to make pizza dough.  I assumed the role of event coordinator, walking Jon through the recipe and giving tips on his dough kneading technique, and helping Milani play in the flour. 

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You're not making dough correctly if you don't have smudges of flour several places on your face, and flour hand prints randomly smeared across the seat of your pants.

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And by the time the dough was set aside to rise until dinner, Lulu and the kitchen were both covered in a dusting of flour, but the pizza that we devoured that night was some of the best we've ever made.  I think it was the contribution of all three of us that made it tastier dough than I've made on my own before.  

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Sometimes on these uneventful Sundays I wonder if we should be planning more, and doing more, and going more places.  I wonder if it would be better for Milani to spend the time out seeing new things, and having exciting experiences, but to be honest the quiet Sundays spent at home together are amongst my favorites.  I hope that maybe they'll be some of Milani's favorites as well; that she'll cherish these little traditions like making homemade pizza dough, and relish the times we enjoyed the simplicity of each others company.  They certainly have a special place in my heart.

And a totally random picture of Milani stuck in a box, just because it's too cute not to post.  Yep, that's her angry face because I'm taking pictures of her before rushing to her rescue.

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The Best Kind of Days

I can hear the low rumble of thunder off in the distance, and the constant pattering of the rain on the roof and window.  The wet swooshing of tires on the street.  The clock is telling me it's almost 10 am but the house is dark.  The lamp on the dresser is blanketing the room softly in a warm golden light.

The rain is falling steadily in silvery sheets.  The sidewalk is adorned with shiny puddles and the garden is soggy.  Tiny beads race one another down the window. Even the warm  breeze smells saturated.
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On days like today I always feel like baking.  Something about the smell of warm chocolate chip cookies, and the heat from the oven that combats the dampness.  Except that I know that I'm out of chocolate chips.  Someone ate them little by little, by morsel and by handful.  I wasn't able to capture her picture in the act...my hands had been full at the moment.
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It's a good day for pulling things out of drawers.
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And playing in drawers.
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And the best kind of day for napping.
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Sometimes these days, the ones that seem ordinary and uneventful, are the best kind of days.  They come quietly and slip past subtly, but they leave me feeling cozy and content.

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.  Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart.  Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.  Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so.  One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.  ~Mary Jean Iron

Wet and Wild

I am constantly amazed at the way that motherhood twists and turns, evolves and grows a life of its own.  Just as soon as I congratulate myself for figuring it out, or arriving at a place of rhythm and balance, the game changes. 

The current challenge; a shower for mama.

Since Milani learned to pull herself to stand, she insists on being an active participant in my shower.  No sooner does the warm water start running down my back, but there is a little hand flinging the curtain open and up pops a little tub side spectator.  By the end of my shower, I have a very soggy baby.  I've learned it's easier to towel dry Milani than strip her out of dripping clothes, so sister sports nothin' but a diaper while I shower.
She squeals and giggles when the water sprays her.  Splashes and smears the little puddles that gather on the edge of the tub.  She slurps up water and blows raspberries.  All while getting drenched and standing in the growing puddle on the bathroom floor.
And when I open the bathroom door, setting loose soggy headed diaper baby, well that's when the real fun begins.  She scoots around in her diaper.
And rolls and wiggles in her diaper.
But I think for the moment we have the shower situation contained, at least until she can reach the doorknob.  We'll cross that puddle when we get to it.


Moses faces his own challenges being the big dog of the house.  I desperately want to let him have free roam of the house whenever I'm out, but Moses is having some difficulties respecting our boundaries.  Not only does he make our bed his bed while I run errands, but I come home to find our comforter in one corner of the bedroom, the sheet strewn another way, and a hole in the fabric covering the mattress.  He's left me with no choice but to re-erect his crate in his corner.

I don't think he minds.  He will voluntarily lounge drowsily in his crate all day long.  Except that he's quickly learning what it's feels like when someone has difficulties respecting his boundaries.
Sometimes it seems like Moses enjoys the company, someone offering attention, and a buddy to snuggle alongside.  But there are those times when Milani kicks it into four wheel drive to get across him, and he takes a little foot to the snout and a tug to the ear, that I'm certain he'd evict her if he could.  Or the times he gives up and hits the road, giving Milani sole rights to the crate.  That's when Lala really lives large and lets loose.
And of course, kickin' it in the crate is another one of those things she'll even do with a wet head sportin' nothing but a diaper.
So Milani will keep making up the rules, and calling the shots; and Moses and I will keep rolling with the punches, learning the game as we go.  Because it's so much more fun that way.

Resting and Replenishing

Today I am tired.  My well seems dry and resources depleted.  I can't decide whether it was the long and busy week that just ended, or the longer and busier week that lies ahead that is sucking out every last drop of energy and motivation.  I'm sure it's a combination of both. All of my shoulds and to-do's are weighing heavily on my spirit.

It feels like I am swimming with all my might to cross the river, and I lift my head for a gulp of hair, and in that moment I catch a glimpse of the other bank and think "My God, am I only half way?!" 

And it is in times like these that I wonder what example I should be setting for Milani.  Is it a better virtue for her to watch her weary mama set her jaw, dig in her heels, and will herself through a to-do list so that some laundry might get folded or some of the house straightened?  Or for her to watch me unplug and disconnect from the day-to-day, and curl up under the cool white sheets next to her to rest and replenish?

In this quiet moment it occurs to me, Milani doesn't need to be taught to rest and replenish.  It comes naturally to her.  She wakes up in the morning and plays hard, and crawls hard, and laughs hard, and when her body tells her that it needs a break, she naps hard.  It isn't a question or debate, it just is.  It makes perfect sense.

She doesn't paddle harder to cross the river faster, nor does she stop and sink.  Nope, girlfriend just flips over and floats, and lets the current take her in the right direction.  And once recharged, she picks up right where she left off.  She can teach me something everyday if I remember to pause and listen.

So today I will nap.  I will struggle to ignore the voices telling me I should be cleaning, or folding, or straightening.  I will remind myself that there is virtue to be found in knowing when to unplug and disconnect.  And I will offer up the fondest gratitude that I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to snuggle with my ladybug at 1 in the afternoon.  

I nurse Milani as she grows drowsy.  Her eyelids get heavier, and her breathing slows and deepens.  I move her delicately onto the bed and slip under the covers next to her, my legs curl beneath her so she sleeps in my nook.  I can feel her breath on my cheek.  Moses snores in the corner, the fan hums, and traffic outside swooshes over the wet pavement.  I close my eyes and exhale melting into the cozy mattress, there is nothing better than this.

**Sorry no pictures today, I find that I can only operate the camera while I'm awake...go figure**

Liquid Gold

Today the sun is tucked away behind a blanket of matte gray clouds.  Every crevice in the sidewalk is collecting pools of rain.  Little clear beads are clinging to the edge of the gutter.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Because just this weekend we nestled our first tender seedlings in the newly tilled soil. I love beautiful sunny days and pristine blue skies as much as anyone, but I know those little green babes are basking in the light spring rain. 

Saturday, however, was anything but gray.  The breeze was warm, the sun was golden, and the grass felt cool against our feet.
It was Milani's first chance to really explore the great outdoors and she wasted no time uncovering buried treasure and tasting fingers-full of dirt.  She scooted toward every corner of the yard and earned her first pair of dirt and grass stained knees.
We offered our fondest moral support as Jon tilled the soil and found homes for our first batch of seedlings.
And Milani kept a meticulous watch on the kids playing next door.  Paying close attention to their games and memorizing the rules because as soon as she's walking, baby, she is definitely going to want in.
 So today I'm ok with sitting indoors watching the rain stream down the windows, because I know that the sun will be busting out before long and coaxing our little crop skyward.  I look forward to many hazy days spent weeding in the garden.  To wiping the sweat from my brow with the back of a dirt covered hand.  To watching Milani find her own corner to burrow in the dirt.  Oh yes it's going to be amazing, so fall gently sweet rain - the garden is thirsty.