Friday, May 26, 2017

A Little Lately

In the past few months, many things have filled our attention and peripheral time. It's about time that I took a couple moments to write about the boys and their latest developments and goings-ons. My, how they change within days, weeks, and months...

As of a month ago now, Owen is walking!!! His ginger steps and falls of the first week have become steady, balanced journeys across the room. His face and eyes light up with each movement forward as if to say, "Goodness, will you check this out?!? I'm walking!!" So sweet.

His language has grown, as well. Now, when I walk in to pick him up after his nap, I am greeted with a "Hi-ee!" It's incredible. And it sounds exactly the way I say "hi" :) It's one of my favorite moments of the day to walk in, pull back the curtain around his crib and hear "hi-ee" before seeing his smiling, rested face peering back at me.

Yesterday I was reading him a book and the book says, "Bump, bump, bump." He immediately said those words right back to me. It was so surprising and exciting!

Owen's personality is SO fun to see unfolding. He's silly, laid-back & opinionated at the very same time. He makes funny faces that keep us all in stitches and he LOVES to be included in absolutely everything.

He's started carrying books over for us to read, which is just the best.

Ian is really into playing WITH someone and doing joint activities. This bleeds into almost every single activity of the day, be it picking up toys, getting dressed, playing with toys, you name it. Life is meant to be shared.

He speaks often of moving to New Hampshire and it's clear that he's processing what it will mean for him. One day on the way to Parent's Morning Out (PMO) he told me that PMO and Ms. Natalie and Ms. Kristy won't be coming with us to New Hampshire. He said that he would have a new school. Once we arrived at PMO I asked if they had been talking to him about this and they said no. At home I asked Jim and he, too, said that he hadn't. Before we were even having the conversations, Ian was starting to process it. And now, today was his last day there. It was bittersweet for both of us. He seemed to understand it and lingered there just a bit longer. We waved goodbye to the building and both teared up a bit.

We've shown him pictures of our new home and he talks about it often. He'll say things that he wants to do there and things he wants to bring with us when we go. It's on his mind a lot, which makes sense because we are all talking about it a great deal, these days. It's amazing to process something like this with him.

He's also VERY into asking the question, "Why?" A new level of understanding brings the new question of why things are the way they are, why people feel a certain way, you name it. I often sing the Mr. Rogers song in my head, "Why, why, why, why, wonder why... "

These boys adore each other. One day, we were playing at a friends' home with lots of other children running around. I looked across the room to find them in a longggg embrace. It lasted so long that other moms started to notice and comment. Ian had been outside playing and Owen just noticed that Ian was around again. He went over for a "welcome back" hug. This mama could hardly stand the emotions :)

What they love best is being outside and playing together. We are THRILLED that this is the case. We cannot wait for them to have space to explore the backyard in our future house. It's not long now.

We celebrated Mother's Day at home this year. It was lovely. Jim made me a huge breakfast spread, we built a super cool fort in our backyard, we had a relaxing day in our home & yard. Then Jim made a yummy dinner. My belated mother's day gift was to take a needlepoint class in Blowing Rock, NC with one of my friends. Last Saturday we took the whole day and drove down three hours, took the class, ate lunch and walked around the super sweet town of Blowing Rock (I want to go back!), before driving back. We chatted the whole way, both of us gone from our second babies for the first full day ever. It was lovely and so nice to spend time with this dear friend.

We also celebrated Jim's birthday!!! He turned 31 last week! We enjoyed dinner outside and then had, at his request, mint chocolate tiramisu cake. We enjoyed a sweet family celebration and gave Jim a few little gifts. His favorite was an interview of Ian about the birthday boy <3

Life is moving so fast. So much paperwork and phone calls, visits and goodbyes. We just want to savor and linger in each moment. I know that I am only barely skimming the surface right now on this blog. I hope to catch up again once more soon. Boy, am I thankful for my little family. For these boys who provide us with so much laughter and make us beam with love and joy, and for Jim who's finishing up this grueling & rigorous season so very soon.

A friend asked me if I've been able to process moving and it's a hard question to answer. I am trying. I am journaling. I am attempting to do the things we love in these last few weeks, but it's also difficult to imagine that I won't mourn it. Seven years of love and roots have been placed here.

We are SO thrilled & excited for our new location and a place to call our own. And cannot wait to start putting down roots there, too, but this current season is about saying goodbye before I can move completely forward. For some friends it's only a "see you later" though, and for that, we are grateful.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Life Less Ordinary (Part II)

In my last post I announced that we'll be moving this summer!

Come June, our address will change as we drive states away from our beloved Virginia and into New Hampshire. After we made the decision to move to New England, we both had moments of stress and concern thinking about how we would possibly find a place to live from so far away.

During our second visit to New Hampshire, we had a wonderful experience touring around with a realtor who'd been recommended to us by one of the other doctors in the practice. We both felt confident that she would be instrumental in helping us find the place we could call home.

While we were up there, we narrowed down where we'd like to live, based on the school system and commuting distance for Jim. I took an afternoon and went and toured the two potential elementary schools our boys would attend in that area. One of them TOTALLY knocked my socks off. So, that narrowed down our house search even more and that informed my opinion on every house I looked at.

About a month ago the housing market started picking up in New Hampshire. Our realtor started sending us listings and I started dreaming and imagining us in every single house.

Now, I should probably preface this with the fact that Jim and I have been dreaming about our future house since before we started dating.

There's no telling how many hours Jim has spent researching and reading articles on sustainable living, straw bale construction, and permaculture for the property. It's like breathing for him; my wood-working, extremely capable husband has spent many medical study breaks dreaming of a life for us, a home for us and our children. We always thought we'd build a house, when the time was right.

So, maybe our style could be called rustic farmhouse, but even rustic seems to strong a word for us. We both like a simple feel, lots of natural light, and neutral colors. An open floor plan was a strong hope and desire.  A kitchen with space for the two of us to cook together, and a dining room to hold a large group of friends & family for holidays and potlucks. We prefer absolutely no carpet and love hardwood floors. Our home needs a mudroom to bridge the gap between our desire for adventure and outdoor pursuits, and our love for a somewhat tidy abode. We also always dreamed of having an apartment to rent out for extra income.

And then there's the land. We have always dreamed of having a few acres for our children to explore and climb trees, or kick a soccer ball. And space for a garden, fruit trees, and chickens was always a necessity, too. We didn't want to limit our options too much, so we put at least one acre on our hopeful list.

About one week after we started receiving listings, five houses came on the market in the very same day. I had been opening the emails immediately, every time a house came on, hoping that it would be a match for us.

At 4 PM on Monday, the perfect house marked EVERY SINGLE CATEGORY!

I opened the listing and sat there stunned for a minute. Jim and I had been on and off of the phone all day, during his 12 hour shift, working on getting pre-approval letters through the bank, and thinking we would pursue one of the houses already on the market. When I saw this house, I sent Jim and email saying "THIS IS THE ONE."

He didn't even respond to my email when he saw the house, he immediately called the bank.

I texted the realtor.

As my dad said, it's uncanny how much this house looks like me and Jim. My mom said it was made for us. And Jim and I have said over and over again that this is the house we would build ourselves.

So, thus began the absolutely absurd week of attempting to get our dream home.

I'll save you all of the details, but the house came on the market on Monday, Tuesday Jim drove to Florida to take a board exam on Wednesday, we put an offer down on the house on Wednesday, Jim saw the house on Thursday in NH(!), & Friday night our offer was accepted over many other offers!

It was a sickening week. Jim and I both didn't sleep or eat well imagining this house slipping out of our fingers. But....

 HIP HIP HOORAY, it's going to be ours!!

So, the details?

It's a four bedroom house that's attached to a large mudroom, that attaches to a two car garage with an apartment on top!! The house is built with post and beam construction, so the whole house has exposed beams-- so gorgeous! It's an open floor plan between the kitchen, dining room, and living room space with a fireplace, a master suite on the first floor, and then three bedrooms upstairs. Each of the bedrooms upstairs has a loft, perfect for creating cozy spots to read or relax!!

The house is situated in the middle of three acres, with a large open yard, and lots of woods surrounding the house. It's located very close to the high school and down the road from the middle school, so our children will be able to walk to school!! It's also within walking distance of University of New Hampshire (UNH) and the downtown. UNH has trails for running, snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing that we'll be able to enjoy, as well.

The house has a few opportunities for Jim to work his magic on, which he's excited about. There's an unfinished basement with a bathroom and the garage has space for a studio or woodworking shop. Jim's mind is already spinning.

It's brought us so much peace and stability to think about moving to a house we love so much already. We couldn't have dreamed up a better home to come on the market at precisely this time. BUT, it's also our first time buying a home, so it's entirely terrifying & nerve-racking, as well.

Life has kept us on our toes, lately!!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Life Extraordinary: Part I

When Jim and I were 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 these friendships that feel so comfortable 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


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
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
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
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


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.