Great Big Summer Photo Dump

We didn't do any big trips this summer. Alex is in the home stretch of his Physician Assistant program and there are no more breaks until graduation, which is December 2nd. (Just about 3 months. I can hardly believe we are that close to the end!) So until then, we're stuck at home.

But that's ok. I really love our home, and I especially love it in the summer. I love hearing the birds sing when I wake up in the morning. I love drinking my coffee while it is still cool outside. I love how my kids look in shorts and tank tops. I love the long days, and being able to enjoy the front porch after the kids to go sleep. I love eating dinner in the backyard and chatting with Alex while the kids run wild. They've figured out how to really play with each other this summer, which makes being in the backyard more fun for everybody. They get to run and chase and play in the sandbox, and I get to work in the garden, or sit on the back steps with my knitting.

I did manage to take the kids to the lake with some of my family for a night. We also did our annual pilgrimage to the Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe with Jacqui and her family. Her hilarious post pretty much sums up what it's like to go on trips with little kids.

Aside from that we were just home. And that's ok with me.



today was perfect

In Minnesota we complain about the weather a lot. And with good reason. Half of the year it's below freezing and we're shoveling out our sidewalks and scraping ice off of our windshields. The other half  of the year we're sweating in 90 degree heat and 90 percent humidity.

But not today. Today was perfect.

Summer is right around the corner, but it's not here yet. This morning was cool enough that I wanted to pull the comforter up over my shoulders. Then this afternoon it was warm in the sun and comfortable in the shade. We opened the windows and a delicious breeze carried the scent of the peonies from the yard where they just opened up into the house.

I love this time of year. The grass is green and lush from the spring rains. Our lawn will be brown and crunchy by August but right now it looks great. The trees are thick with their foliage.  The cottonwoods are in bloom, sending their white fluff flying through the neighborhood like a summer snow storm.  Flowers are blooming everywhere, and the seeds in my garden are sending up shoots. Everything feels alive. Plants and people.

We've been outside every evening lately. The kids do a million different things. They load landscaping rock into toy dump trucks and cart it around the backyard. They spray water with the garden hose. They spill bubbles down the front of their pants. The get sand in their hair and in their shoes. They take their shoes off and get dirt in their little toenails. They skin their knees and require and dozen band aids to make it feel better.  Their faces are a little pinker than normal and they smell of sweat and sunshine. We do baths a lot more frequently now than during the winter months.

There's no point in my telling you any of this. It's not a parable and I don't have some sort of lesson I'm trying to impart. Except that I feel really lucky that I get to spend these beautiful days with my family. And all of the things I tend to fuss and worry about really don't matter that much. This is what matters. These seeds of love and peace that we are sowing in our little backyard on these beautiful days.

I just love this time of year. And today was perfect.

// 7 Q U I C K T A K E S V O L.1 0 //


Reentry after vacation is always difficult.  Thankfully ours was gradual.  We got home late last Wednesday. Alex had planned on being off work through the end of the week so we had Thursday and Friday to unpack, do copious amounts of laundry, walk to Dunn Bros. (my favorite local coffee joint), watch a little TV, and just overall rest up a bit.  We even went to a nearby Splash pad with Johnny's godparents Ian and Jacqui and his favorite buddy, Iggy. 

Monday Alex went back to work and Johnny and I went back to our usual at-home routine, which largely revolves around changing so many poopy diapers, and preparing, eating, and cleaning up breakfast and lunch.  It's amazing to me how much time those 2 things take up. It's also amazing to me how used to having Alex around I got while we were on vacation and what an adjustment it was to going back to being home alone with a baby. 


Fortunately for me, this week was my birthday week, so there were a few extra fun things to help ease the shock of going from vacation to everyday life. 

My little brother's birthday is the day before mine.  When my mom was pregnant with him I was so afraid he would be born on my birthday.  As an 8, almost 9 year-old, having a birthday all to one's self is very important. Well, Jake was gracious enough to let me have my day, but we still end up celebrating our birthdays together every year.  And now that I'm grown up, I really like it. 

I turned 28.  There's nothing significant about that number, except that the older I get the harder it is for me to remember my age. I've never felt more like a grown-up than I have in this first year of motherhood, but don't really feel like I'm getting older. I thought I was turning 26, that I still had a lot of my twenties left. I see pictures of celebrities that are 20 or 21 and I think "They must be the same age as me." All my life I wanted to be older, but now I have finally reached that phase where I look back on youth with fondness.

Anyway, it was a good birthday. Mani/pedis with my sister, take out from our favorite Thai place with Alex, girls nights at Marvel, and my whole family spoiled me rotten with a beautiful Lily Jade diaper bag, which is, to sum it up in a single word, heaven.


I love August, except for the fact that this is the time of year that my garden and all my flowers start to look really ugly.  Everything's getting overgrown, the grass is getting brown and crunchy, and I can only keep weeds at bay for so long. This is the point of summer where I just kind of give up. 

Thankfully the garden still produces despite my negligence. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, Swiss chard, beets. But mostly tomatoes. One of the reasons I love August so much is that we eat tomatoes, all the time. Caprese, bruschetta, BLTs, salsa, spaghetti. This golden tomato sauce is one of my all time favorites, we've had it twice since we've been home from vacation.  I can't recommend it enough. 


This gigantic bunch of gladiolas was $4 at Whole Foods. What a steal! Go get some!


Johnny had a kidney ultrasound this morning.  For those who are just tuning in, Johnny was born with a series of birth defects, one of which is what's known as a horseshoe kidney.  This is a condition where the two kidneys are joined together, making a horseshoe type of shape.  It's more of an oddity than a health threat. Many people live their entire lives with a horseshoe kidney and don't find out they had one until they're in the 70's. A horseshoe kidney can be more prone to blockage and re-flux however, and so the pediatric urologist has been monitoring Johnny's. This was his third kidney ultrasound and everything still looks great! So that's good news! Just annual ultrasounds from here on out.

Sometimes I think back on those first few days after Johnny's birth when defect after defect was being discovered; imperforate anus, horseshoe kidney, spinal irregularities, hearing loss. And for each one we were presented with a sea of information that made no sense, and dealing with it all seemed impossible. But here we are one year out, most of those problems have been dealt with, and except for the annual follow up, they're just a memory. 

Speaking of Johnny, he's doing so many new things.  No, he's not walking yet.  Well, he takes a few reluctant steps when we force him to, but other than that no walking. But he has started stacking blocks, and playing with his stacking rings, he's even stacking his cubes of watermelon while he's eating lunch. He's started mimicking us a lot more too, clapping, combing his hair, he's even been copying dance moves! It's so amazing to see this interaction, as well as fine motor skills, develop. And I'm quickly realizing that when we reach milestones like the first day of school and his first piano recital I'm going to be a mess. 

There's nothing like these summer nights, even if it is humid and disgusting right now in the great state of Minnesota.  The air smells so rich and earthy. The chirp and buzz of crickets and cicadas is the never ending sound track to our sleeping. Our neighbors are out on their porch and I can hear them singing and playing on guitars. Actually, whoever is singing sounds an awful lot like the lead singer from Pearl Jam. This is part of summer where I realize it won't be here much longer, and so I soak up every part of it. 

Happy weekend everyone!

For more Quick Takes visit Conversion Diary.

// P I T T S B U R G H //

The second part of our vacation was spent in Pittsburgh with Alex's sister, brother-in-law, and their 3 boys, taking in the sights, eating the eats, and having lots of fun family time. We went to a Pirates game; I'm not much a sports person, but I think outdoor baseball is something that I could do. We spent time walking around the downtown area of Pittsburgh, taking in the sights and enjoying the excitement of being in a new and different city.  I got a pedicure in, Alex and I sneaked out for a date one night and Johnny had so much fun with his cousins he didn't even notice we were gone.  He's going to miss them.  So are we!

// P I R A T E S G A M E //

// P O I N T S T A T E P A R K //

// C A R N E G I E M U S E U M O F N A T U R A L H I S T O R Y //

// P H I P P S C O N S E R V A T O R Y //

// N I G H T D R I V E //

Time: 6:52 am

Location: rest area 40 miles outside of Dayton, Ohio. 

We've been on the road for about 13 hours and 700 miles. 

We were apprehensive about making a long road trip with a one-year-old who's not used to being in the car for longer than 10 minutes at a time. So driving through the night when we knew he'd be more inclined to sleep seemed like the best plan. I think we were right. He slept for 7 hours straight! I wish he would do that at home!

Every summer our local radio station does an A to Z weekend. It's all their favorite songs of all time, all in alphabetical order. I love putting things in alphabetical order, so naturally this inspired me to put together my own A to Z playlist for our drive. It's over 10 hours long and is made up of favorites from mine and Alex's combined iTunes libraries. 

Some selections are pretty recent favorites from Mumford and Sons, The Civil Wars, Gotye. 

But most of the songs reach father back into closed chapters of my life. And because music is one of those things, like smell, that stir up the most vivid memories, I spent the night driving through the states of Illinois and Indiana reliving scenes from my youth. 

Five Iron Frenzy: my first favorite band. Wearing my dad's old pants cut off at the shin, and wallet chains. Memorizing and analyzing the lyrics with my best friend. Plotting to marry the lead singer. 

Mae, The Everglow: that album was the soundtrack to the summer after my senior year. Driving to camps and conferences with my youth group. Moving into my freshmen dorm.  Overflowing with ideals and anxieties. 

Shane & Shane: driving to the Passion conference with my brother and best friend in a blizzard. Seeing Shane & Shane live for the first time and weeping because the music was just so beautiful that it hurt. 

The Postal Service: my first job at Jamba Juice. 

Love Drug and Sigur Ros: my college dorm freshman and sophomore year.

Sleeping at Last: the semester I spent in India. 

Then there are the bands Alex introduced me to: Cake, Mason Jennings, Spoon, Andrew Bird, They Might Be Giants, Elliot Smith, and hearing them makes me feel all the nervousness and excitement of the summer we started dating. 

Night turns into morning as I drive on.  My husband and my baby are asleep in the car and the Ella Fitzgerald song we danced to at our wedding comes on. I'm grateful to have this quiet time to remember so many beautiful moments from my life.

Oh, the moon's not a moon for a night
and these stars will not twinkle and fade out,
 and the words in my ears
will resound for the rest of my years.
In the morning I find with delight 
not a note of our music is played out.
It will be just as sweet, 
and an air that I'll live to repeat:
I greet you 
With a song in my heart...