Thursday, March 23, 2017

Life Extraordinary: Part I

When Jim and I we just starting to get to know each other, we learned about the band Carbon Leaf. We went to their concert on New Year's Eve in Richmond, Virginia, just a couple weeks after we became girlfriend and boyfriend. A few of those songs can still transport me to that night and those early feelings. I love that music has the power to bring those memories back so vividly and make them fresh in your mind again.

Today, while making pancakes, Jim asked Alexa (our radio) to play Carbon Leaf. A smile spread across my face in the other room. Soon familiar songs were basking me with memories. And then there was one that has always stuck with me... and a few of the lines apply so well to our current season.

Live a life less ordinary.
Live a life extraordinary with me.

I haven't written about it on here, but we've been having loads of conversations about our future for the last few months. Jim finishes residency in June and will step into his first job outside of training. It's been a long, long journey and we are so grateful to be at the end of it. We've been thinking about this next step for so long and dreaming, and then over the summer we started looking into jobs available and more seriously into potential locations.

This fall was full of applying for jobs, interviewing, realty tours, dreaming and reality-checking. After much deliberation, we narrowed our options down to two places. 

One was here, where we currently live and in the community and place we know & love. The place that's raised our babies and been our village as we made the transition into parenthood. The place that has seen us through ups and downs, and been "home."

The second option was in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A place with the mountains and the sea, and Boston just an hour away. A place full of the charm of New England, with loads of outdoor recreation potential in both winter and summer.

In early January we traveled up for the interview and on the plane ride up I remember turning to Jim and saying, "Let's really try to keep our minds open." We had both pretty much decided that we would be staying here and we were very content with that choice. Fast forward two days and we were driving home from the airport. Both of us a bit shocked, we both felt the pull to move to New Hampshire.

It took us close to two months of deliberating, researching, reaching out to folks & family, searching our hearts, and taking a second trip up to the Portsmouth area, before making our final decision. The weight of the decision was a lot to navigate, but when all is said and done, we both feel like we made the best decision for us.

And.... drumroll please...

We are moving to New Hampshire!!!!

We are very excited for the next adventure and to make a home for ourselves in such a unique location. In truth, we have always been interested in moving out west or to New England. In some ways it feels like we are remaining true to ourselves by taking this step and that feels right & good.

Our families have been wonderfully supportive of the decision and, for this, we are so grateful.

Absolutely the most painful thing is leaving our close friends here. Some of these friends have weathered both the most painful moments of my life and the most joyful. Friends like that aren't made overnight, but they will hopefully last a lifetime. As I thought about moving away, it was hard for me to shake picking berries with the same friend for thirty year or more. Or moving our kids away from the only friends they've ever known, friends who entered this world around the same time. Potlucks that will happen without us and friendships that feel so comfortable, where I feel and am known that won't be just up the road.

The biggest stressor for us was to find a place to live from so far away (See Part II).

We hope that our guest room will be a comfortable place for family and friends from all season of our lives to come and stay, and visit the beautiful area up there. We are excited to embark on this next step and promise to update you here.

Friday, March 3, 2017

OWEN is ONE

If you were to ask me how I picture Owen, so may images come to mind. He's still the darling newborn, squinting at the brightness of the outside world. He's the baby nestled on my chest. He's lying on his back on a blanket, observing the world around him. He's scrunching up his nose and giggling at his brother. He's reaching for Papa for a long hug. He's my constant companion and snuggler. He's our chimp-like-shuffle-crawler, "Moosie", O, and our "favorite baby in the whole world." Somehow we managed to live without him, but it's impossible, now, to imagine how.


He's shown us that love truly does expand and grow-- I'm almost startled by how deeply and uniquely my heart can love these two boys.



Owen's personality is practically bursting! He loves to laugh, express his opinions, and keep the rest of us in stitches. He's pretty fearless and wants to be in on the action, wherever Ian is!

He's cruising furniture, standing up on his own, and squatting down and up without holding onto things. As of yet, he has not taken his first steps on his own, but it's not far off. Life is safer for this second born the closer he remains to the floor, with a big brother and big dog around.

Owen climbs up and down off of the couch now, keeping life exciting! He also climbs up and down on the kids table and chairs.

Coloring with Ian is a favorite past-time. The boys do a fairly good job of coloring on the paper and interacting through using the markers and crayons. Ian is enjoying having a partner to play with and, for the most part, directs Owen calmly and nicely while coloring.

In general, Owen LOVES playing with Ian!!! He is not one to be left out of any activity!! If Ian's doing it and it's within reach, he's there and attempting it, too. Oh the things these boys will do together in the future....

Peek-a-boo is another popular activity for Owen! We have curtains hanging in our living room and Owen likes to stand behind them and hold the curtain in his hand with one hand, while the other braces him on the window. The curtain is somewhat transparent, so he can see us and we can see him the entire time-- which is what makes it so fun! We can see him peering at us through the curtain, waiting until he shows us his face. When he does draw the curtain back his eyes are squinting and nose is scrunching and his sweet little teeth shine in a huge smile. It's oh-so-fun! Ian loves to play it with him, too.
This is our darling Owen, captured in a full smile as he looks at big brother Ian :)
This photo truly captures his sweet disposition.
Owen LOOOVES music. If we sing a song or have music playing, you can almost always find Owen bobbing his body to the beat. He even bobbed to happy birthday, when we sang it to him multiple times on his first birthday!! He's even started humming and singing along to songs we are singing; he's part of the band, after all. I love that he just falls into step, understanding that he's one of the gang.

When we say, "How big is Owen?" He holds his hands high above his head and we say "SO BIG!!" It's a tradition in my family and Owen obliges us. Ian likes to ask him, too. Although sometimes he corrects us that Owen is still little and that he's not very big. It's true... we do tell him many times a day that we need to be patient, careful, etc. when interacting with Owen... he is still little, the littlest one in these parts.

At dinnertime he takes our hands and we all sing grace. He often will bob to the song. The first time he grabbed my hand at grace at dinner, I was a bit taken aback. He has been observing and knows just what to do.


I think I found my silhouette picture. Time to start crafting! <3
Owen is certainly one to make his opinions known, be it loud squeals of frustration or joy! He knows what he likes and what he does not like. He shakes his head and squeals when he doesn't like something, or he holds on to what he wants for dear life. As a younger brother, he often does have to fight for his rights.


For a stretch around his birthday, he was particularly clingy but he seems to have moved out of that while we are around the house. He has started climbing the couches and chairs and gets a huge kick out of tossing himself down on the cushions of the couch or on a dog bed, blanket, or pillow. It's quite funny, really! He tosses himself and then giggles or squeals in delight.



Owen likes to play chase with Ian and Papa! It's a nightly routine, when the gang's all here, and, though he's often far behind the other two, this little fella knows the ropes!!

He's also started making up his own games by playing with the wiffle balls he got for his birthday, batting them around with objects, putting the magnet tiles on and off of the fridge and pots and pans, climbing up and down the step stool, and the list goes on! One day he took his wooden train piece and placed it over his waterbottle, so they were connected. He's totally into exploring EVERYTHING around him and it's a joy to observe!

Speaking of water bottle, he got it for his birthday and he LOVES it! It's hard to know if he likes it because of the way it feels in his mouth or because he now has his OWN like the one Ian had. Every once in a while Ian wants to use it and Owen can become quite protective, but then will also share it. Fascinating watching these interactions unfold. I try not to get in the way, but I often do... need to work on that.

Owen has four teeth on the top and two on the bottom of his mouth. 

His favorite foods are roasted broccoli, cheddar cheese, raisins, & cooked carrots. But really, he'd eat broccoli all of the time, if he could. 
He wakes up often through the night to nurse. During the day he's too busy and distracted and seems to nurse only before naps and bedtime, maybe a couple other little times. He has started drinking cows milk and really likes it!
He hasn't had a haircut yet, but it may be happening soon, especially on the back of his head.

It's amazing to me to sit back and look at these pictures. It seems like a blip in time... how has a year passed us by!? Who is this strapping young baby-turning-toddler? And yet, my heart knows each milestone and this sweet lad's wonderful presence so well.

We had a very low-key birthday party, with just the four of us. It was lovely.

In preparation for his first birthday, Ian and I were talking about what kind of a cake we should make. Quickly, Ian decided that he should have a carrot cake for his birthday and so that's what we did! (Side note- Ian has stated that at his next birthday he will have a strawberry cake with a dragon on top. We'll see if that remains his request as months go on!)

Ian helped me to mix the cake ingredients, all the while talking about Owen's birthday. How fun it is to start celebrating with a child who understands and catches the enthusiasm and joy behind celebrating the life of another who's dear to them.

We decorated the top with a greek yogurt-based icing, thinly sliced carrots, and cilantro leaves for the "stems" of the carrots.
Judging by his face, I think he approves!!! It was pretty special to watch Ian get so into celebrating Owen's birthday. He joyfully sand the song and helped him blow out his candle.
Owen devoured his cake. I totally forgot to take pictures of his cake smash... but consider it smashed and annihilated.

I mean, his was gone before the rest of us even started! Haha! And you can see that Papa made homemade pizza for his birthday dinner-- YUM!
And, because one year olds don't mind and also need to go to bed at 6:30 (that day)... we waited until the following morning to open presents. Ian was happy to assist...

And quickly thumbed his way through every single page, taking it all in.
Gramee & Grandpa sent Owen a card that had a mirror inside. Owen found himself!!! Haha!! Love the expression here, when he first saw his face reflecting back at him.
Here he is with his water bottle. As I mentioned before, he's absolutely crazy about it! And Ian's holding the book he chose for Owen.
We gave him a bunch of wiffle balls, among other things, and he couldn't be happier tossing them around the room.
Owen adores Leif and is so, so gentle with him.
And when one goes in, they both go in. Leif is an AMAZINGLY patient dog with these wild boys around.
Oh, O...


You are a bundle of giggles, squeals, hugs, energy, and love. We are so grateful to be your parents-- what a joy you are to each of us and to Ian.

Here's to the fastest, most love-filled twelve months of my life.

You, my boy, are a gem.

Happy 1st Birthday, Owen David!!!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Yearning to Breathe Free

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)
I am an immigrant
I am a stranger in this place
Here both for the grace of God
Go I
I am an immigrant
I have left everything I own
To everything I've known
I say goodbye
Chorus
She said, “Give me your tired”
Lord, you know I’m weary
When she said “Give me your poor”
She’s talking to me
One of your huddled masses
Yearning to breathe free
And I never have lost sight of
What this journey has been for
See how she lifts her lamp
Beside that golden door
I am an Irishman
The famine put us to the test
Away into the West
Like wild birds flying
We put our backs to the wheel
With a heart that always yearned for home
We made this place our own
And about died trying
Chorus
I am Chinese
I worked your mills, your yards, your mines
Laid your railroad lines
With my two good hands
I am a Chicano
In your orchards and your fields
I have gathered in the yields
For this hungry land
Chorus
I am Nigerian
I am Iranian, a Jew
From Laos, Katmandu
I am your story
I am a long, long line
One you have forgotten that is true
I am everything you knew
I am your glory
She said, “Give me your tired”
Lord, you know we're weary
When she said, “Give me your poor”
She’s talking to you and me
We are the huddled masses
Yearning to breathe free
And we never will lose sight of
What this journey has been for
As we lift her lamp
Beside the golden door


©1999 John McCutcheon/Appalsongs (ASCAP)
Stonington, ME, August 1999
Produced by John McCutcheon & Bob Dawson
Engineered by Bob Dawson at Bias Studios, Springfield, VA
Mastered by Charlie Pilzer at Air Show, Springfield, VA

My heart breaks.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

ELEVEN Month OWEN!

It's true! He's now eleven months old, our sweet baby boy. We are grappling with the fact that he will soon turn one. This little dear is so, so precious to us.
 He knows how to tap right into the mushy, warm and fuzzy places in our heart. Just look at that smile!
 Big brother isn't normally too far away. A few times (okay, really far more than a few) I have sat back in awe of these handsome boys. How could they possibly be ours?
 Owen's cruising on everything! He's stood for a split second on his own before grabbing ahold of the closest thing. He's started cruising from furniture items to other furniture items that aren't quite in reach.

 He still scrunches his nose, which just makes me melt.
 The scrunching of the nose reminds me that I want to remember all of the little details, like the way his hands look.
 And the way he bites his gums when he's trying something new or hard.
 And his many different expressions!


 Owen adores Leif and pets him ever so gently. He treats him so well, stroking his head, nose, and ears. The love is certainly mutual.
 Over the last month or so, he's gotten quite a lot of teeth. EVERYTHING goes into his mouth. Sticks are teethers when we're outside, spatulas and toys and teething necklaces are his go-tos inside.

 Owen has a single crown in the perfect spot. I love the way his hair fans out around it. His hair is getting just love enough that I am starting to think about cutting it. I think we'll wait until after that first birthday.
 His hair seems to be decidedly blonde, but with a touch of strawberry.
 Just another picture of a spot I want to remember. Don't mind me ;)

 Here he shows off his teeth! He has three on the top, with one more coming in. And two on the bottom, with a few more budding under the gums on either side. As the picture shows, drool often clings to the bottom of his lip and chin, these days.
 Sometimes his deep blue eyes bore into me and I know that he has me all figured out. A wise soul, this one.

 There's just so much to love about this eleven month old.

 And he just loves his family members, always keeping tabs on where everyone can be found. Here he is looking toward Ian in the swing in our backyard.

 So far he remains confident in his shuffle crawl, with one leg tucked in front and the other in the crawling position, his arms doing most of the forward movement.

Most of the time you'll find him sitting and observing the people around him. If music comes on, he immediately starts bobbing to the beat. It's absolutely adorable!!

In unfamiliar places he will cling to whoever is nearby from our family. Yesterday, at library story time, he kept a fistful of the back of Ian's shirt in his hand the entire time. Gosh, it was sweet. And Ian would occasionally turn and give him a hug or a smile or a head bonk.
 He's been on a plane for a second trip up to Portsmouth, NH. On the way back, one of the passengers asked him to high five and we taught him how. He LOVES this new skill and will laugh and give you twenty, even one hundred, if you will oblige.
Owen David, you are truly a delight and joy!
Happy 11 Months!

You love: cuddling with Papa, singing, dancing, petting Leif, playing with Ian, being held or worn in the carrier, cruising the furniture, the panda bear Schliech animal (always in your fist!), the teething necklace from Aunt Phoebe, crawling, dancing and bobbing, and just plain being awesome.