A Happy List

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I've been feeling recently like our lives are on this {uphill? downhill? How do BOTH of those descriptors somehow end up sounding negative?} good-directioned path, getting easier and calmer day by day. Lucy is growing older and we're into more of a routine with her; Max and Maggie are becoming so incredibly independent, it's amazing. I find that at the end of the day I've accomplished more than I had expected. I look back and think, "today was a good day."

It's an entirely different story in the moment. Catch me at 11:30 in the morning, when Max and Maggie are tired but I'm trying to keep them up just a little bit later before naptime, when all three of my babes are crying at once for I-don't-know-why, and when I haven't eaten or brushed my teeth or put on a bra. Catch me then and I will say to you, "my life is frustrating as $!%@."

Honestly, I don't know what this discrepancy means. Maybe it's is normal? Maybe it's not; maybe I need more patience and better perspective. Maybe I need let go of accomplishing everything I possibly can in one day and just let myself hang out with my children. Maybe it means that I haven't found that magical golden balance of work + kids that so many moms seem to have down, easy.

In any case, I'm trying to have more happiness and less frustration {and a lot less swearing} in my life. And with that segue, it's time for another happy list. Here are ten things that are making me happy right now:
  1. Three-at-a-time baby baths in the tub.
  2. Maggie has started saying "Bye! Bye!" just so. incredibly. loud every time we drive away from the house. She has to say it about 50 times before it's out of her system, it seems, which is a little bit obnoxious and a lot bit hilarious.
  3. I casually mentioned to my sister that some built-in shelves would look awesome in her living room, and now I think she's going to make my idea a reality.
  4. Cool mornings and evenings with breezy days in between. Fall in North Carolina, I love you.
  5. Giving Lucy zerberts in her neck rolls. Or in her legs rolls. Or really anywhere on her adorably pudgy little squishy body.
  6. Max's accidental haircut. I can't rub my hand over the top of his head enough.
  7. New cutting boards from Ikea.
  8. Planning to take our little family to a pumpkin patch. I think maybe Max and Maggie will love it.
  9. This video. 
  10. Picturing Maggie and Lucy in their sweet dresses for my brother-in-law's wedding on Saturday. Oh, and also my brother-in-law's wedding on Saturday. I would say I can't wait, but I know two people who are more impatient for the big day than I am. ;)
What's making you happy, readers? I'd love to hear from you.


Thoughts on Food & A Recipe

I feel sometimes like my entire day revolves around food. Making dinner, making food for myself, feeding Max and Maggie four times a day, and nursing Lucy {what feels like} almost constantly. It's a lot of food to think about. I've found that if I'm busy and distracted, feeding myself is usually the chore that gets neglected. Partly because eating isn't especially appealing unless I make it interesting. For example, if I eat peanut butter toast for breakfast three days in a row, the thought of breakfast on the fourth day is depressing and I end up wandering around my kitchen aimlessly saying, "What am I going to eeeeeeat?"

Does anyone else have this problem? It's not an issue if not-me is making the food {which is why we've started eating out a lot more often since Lucy was born}, but when I have to {again} put forth thought-effort and then physical work-effort, it doesn't always seem worth it. Do you know what IS worth it, for sure? Pumpkin muffins and banana bread. Hash browns and spinach omelets for breakfast. Knowing that I provide my family with a good dinner most nights. Eating enough that I don't get migraines is for sure worth it, but I'm not always good at seeing that far ahead.

Speaking of pumpkin muffins, I said last week that I would share the pumpkin muffin recipe that's been making me so popular around here. You should be warned that these muffins are extremely delicious, and you might just want to eat them all by yourself. {I ate a grand total of six yesterday.}

{ adapted from this recipe }

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
1 teaspoon ground allspice*
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon*
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves*
2 cups {or one 15-oz can} pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt**
4 egg whites
1 egg
2/3 cup water
1 cup chocolate chips***

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper muffin liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. In a large bowl, beat together the pumpkin, white sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, yogurt, egg whites, and egg. Blend the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, alternating with the water, to form a smooth batter. Fold in the chocolate chips. Transfer to the prepared muffin pan.
  3. Bake 16 to 18 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool on wire racks. Makes 24 muffins.

*I added heaping measurements of all the spices and it turned out perfect; I'd like to say that I did it on purpose, but really I'm just clumsy and dumped in more than I should have.

**We actually used 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt and 1/2 cup sour cream; my guess is that you could use all sour cream, or plain yogurt, or really one measuring cup's worth of any combination of those three ingredients and you'd be fine.

***I put in chocolate chips because it's the only way Christian will eat them, but you could also add raisins, blueberries, or {my favorite} chopped walnuts.

If you end up making a batch of these muffins, I'd love to hear how they turned out!



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Yesterday was a great day. I was completely exhausted from start to finish, but nevertheless, the day reeked of excellence. As is the case with many great days, it was spent visiting my sister Alice. We talked and watched our kids run around outside, made pumpkin muffins and talked some more. At one point all our children were asleep at the same time. "Hallelujah!" we said. At another point I looked out the window and saw a muskrat eating cabbage in Alice's garden. "Bizarre," we said.

The weather yesterday was sunny, cool, and breezy. After Max and Maggie woke up from their nap and refused to eat lunch, we went outside so Max could eat all of Alice's sidewalk chalk and steal her neighbor's rocks. It was so lovely to sit on her patio, watching Maggie decapitate potted chrysanthemums. But I felt in my heart that I was longing for something. My heart tends to do that when the weather is particularly perfect. {I also get strangely excited during storms. I don't know why.}

I decided, after thinking it over for a minute, that what I wanted was several hours alone with Christian. I wanted us to put on our jeans and our boots, and go hiking in the woods. I wanted to stop at a creek and soak my feet in the water. I wanted to build a campfire and roast hot dogs, make s'mores, and then cuddle with my husband under a blanket. I wanted him to read to me before it got too dark, and then I wanted for us to pack up all our stuff and go home.

Ah, time alone with Christian. Awake time. More than a couple hours in a row time. It's a luxury we haven't enjoyed since before Lucy {the eternally breastfeeding baby} was born. Still, the opportunity will come again soon enough. That's what I keep telling myself. That's what others keep telling me when I can't tell myself anymore. Soon enough, soon enough.

I am happy to know that the thing my heart was wanting was so simple and sweet. I tend to get very melodramatic sometimes when I feel something missing from my life -- questioning my life choices and/or buying more clothes than I can afford. It's easier if I can just pinpoint the one thing and put a name on it. I say, "I want time with just my husband" and breathe a sigh of relief.

Does the weather sometimes make you feel like your heart is going to explode? Or like you want to travel? I almost always want to travel in the fall {but maybe that's just me}.

P.S. The pumpkin muffins we made yesterday were ah-mah-zing. I've already had three this morning, and I'm having trouble not eating the rest of them before Christian gets home. I'll share the recipe soon.


Beach Trip 2012

Even though we got home from our beach trip 17 days ago, I'm still going to do a post about it {complete with an over-abundance of pictures, all of which have been posted on Instagram already}. So should you be excited? Probably not.

I guess I feel the need to write this post in part because I feel like I owe it to you all, having asked everyone for their advice two months ago. Also in part because going to the beach was a big deal to me. I'm so glad we got to go, and I want to remember our trip well. And finally, I'm writing this post in part because people are still asking me, "How was your beach trip? Have you blogged about it?" And after this I can just say, "Yes, go read it please." And not that I don't like it when people ask me about our beach trip, but just I'm not good at talking to people in general.

Our trip started out with terrible weather. Driving down it was stormy, but I love stormy roadtrips and sometimes just gloomy weather in general. I was hoping, however, that it would be the worst weather we would encounter while we were gone. {Spoiler alert: it was.}

Maggie and Lucy slept for the first two hours; Max slept for the first 2.5. Lucy woke up hungry {obviously}, and we thought about stopping so I could nurse her, but also we thought it would be worse for Max and Maggie to have to get back in the car for another hour, so we pushed through. Christian and I played the alphabet game to take our minds off our unhappy baby girl.

The first thing I wanted to do when we got to our condo was drop everything inside and head straight for the beach. I wanted to see the water, smell the air and feel the sand on my feet. I wanted to take a breath so deep that I could feel it in my soul. This quote, I know, is all over everywhere, but that doesn't make it any less true for me. I've been missing the ocean something fierce lately, and it felt so good to get back.

We just took a walk on the beach that first day, Tuesday afternoon, because it was too chilly and rainy to do anything else. Max and Maggie were both excited when we reached the sand. They just stood in the spot where we put them down and looked around and laughed. Lucy kept gasping {I think the wind was too intense for her}, so I wrapped her in a blanket and held her close.

Wednesday morning we went to the beach again. It wasn't raining anymore, but the sky was still overcast. We had a good couple of hours before naptime. It was then that we learned that Max loved every aspect of the beach -- the wind, the water, the endless expanse of sand, the seagulls that he could chase, and the shells he could chew on. Maggie didn't like how the sand wouldn't wipe off of her hand, and she didn't like being anywhere near the water. What she did like was sitting on a beach chair and slowly eating her way through an entire apple.

I started cataloging what we did every part of every day, but there was too much. I want to remember just every single thing, but I think it would be boring for me to write and boring for anyone else to read. So instead I'm just going to throw out phrases to jog my memory in the future. Consider it an Impressionist word picture, so to speak, of our trip.

Max getting stuck in the mesh bag of beach toys. Taking Max down the waterslide. Those ridiculous inflatable floaties. Watching Oswald on my laptop. The offensive painted fish toilet paper holder. Trying to sleep with Lucy in the room. Having dinner with Elizabeth and the kids. Not fixing my hair, not even once. Rubbing Lucy down with baby powder. Turnover Tuesday. Celebrating 18 months {and four months} with dessert at McDonald's. Nursing Lucy three times every night. Max and Maggie carrying their toothbrushes around the condo. The computer-simulated fish pond at the aquarium. The giant turtle at the aquarium. Lucy in her too-large sunhat. Maggie chasing her ball around the pool yard. Circa 81 and the worst crab cake ever. Riding the train to play putt-putt while the sun set behind us, hitting my ball into the water four times, and coming the closest I ever have to beating Christian. Those doors between us and the beach. Vacation breakfast. Opening the washing machine with a screwdriver. Forgetting our baby carrier. Playing with a very reluctant Max and Maggie on the playground. Changing Lucy's diaper in the stroller. Bringing Elizabeth a garbage bag full of leftover food.

And there you have it.


This Is Not a Goodbye Post

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You've probably noticed that I haven't posted on this blog in a month. {If you haven't, go look at the date on my last post. If you're too lazy to look, you'll have to take my word that it's September 4th.} There's a reason I haven't posted in a month, and I've spent the better part of this month trying to figure out what that reason is and how to articulate it. As I write, I'm still trying. Please bear with me.

A lot of it started when I noticed that I was getting traffic from a certain site. Nothing terrible or hurtful was being said about me, but I ended up letting myself get sucked in for a few days nonetheless. I realized {suddenly, starkly, like a slap in the face} how many things I was doing with my blog just because of the thought, everyone else is doing this, therefore I should, too. And why? How the heck does that make sense as a way to function?

I've realized during the past month that I have a kind of love/irritation relationship with blogging. On the positive side, I enjoy blogging. It's been a wonderful emotional outlet for me. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy that others read my writing. I love the relationships I've formed with other bloggers. I love reading blogs; I admire beautiful and well-written blogs, of which there are too many to count. I think blogging is an amazing, inspiring form of media.

However, I feel irritated when I see bloggers who seem insincere, blogging solely for the purpose of gaining money and popularity. I won't expand any more on those feelings - they're ugly and I'm trying to do better about just being my best self without judging others. {And maybe I need to stop pretending to know what motivates others. Please know that I'm not trying to insult anyone; I think it's amazing when bloggers can make money doing what they love.}

More to the point than all that mess I just typed, during my unintentional month-long blogging hiatus, I found that I've been happier. I've had less stress in my life, and I've been able to accomplish more. {I've made dinner more often in the past three weeks than I have since Christian and I were first married four and a half years ago.} I sometimes find myself in a position where can either blog or... fill in the blank, and whatever fills in the blank always seems to take priority. Especially if it's letting Lucy stay sleeping on my chest, because that's just the best way to spend time ever.

And so I feel conflicted. I want to promise myself to let my little blog be its own thing, and not to feel pressure to do anything a certain way, but I honestly don't know if I can do that. I want to let go of the negative feelings I have towards others, but I don't know if I can do that either. And if I can't do either of those things, then what I'm giving up to blog {my time, which is more precious to me now than it's ever been} seems better spent on something else.

By now it seems that there's only one logical conclusion to this post: stop blogging, move on, just live my life. But that's not the conclusion I've reached.

Here's why: Tuesday afternoon was rainy. I had had thoughts earlier in the day about going to the park, but we were stuck at home. To stave off restlessness, I got out a little jar of bubbles and started blowing them in our living room. The ceiling fan was on and the bubbles practically danced around the room. My children were incredibly, adorably delighted. Max and Maggie laughed and waved their arms around. Maggie fell backward more than once, trying to reach a bubble floating over her head. Lucy cackled from her seat in the Bumbo; I don't know if she found the bubbles themselves or the general air of excitement more hilarious. Max came over and tried to blow some bubbles by himself; he got the idea of what he was supposed to do, but wouldn't blow unless the wand was touching his mouth. I looked around at my happy kids and I thought, I want to do this forever. It was a perfectly perfect moment. And even though I told myself I would always remember that moment, chances are that if I didn't just write it down, I would have eventually forgotten.

This blog is my journal right now, and I can't bear to forget all the moments. I can't capture every memory - there are too many, and some are just for my heart alone - but I can keep enough that when I re-read these posts, I can feel a little of the essence of how our lives used to be seeping out. Like hugging a sweater that's been packed away and getting a whiff of the smell that's still inside it.

I have to keep trying, I have to keep going. I have to learn to be myself and not worry about others, make time to record memories and still cherish the moments I'm in. It's a little cheesy maybe, and certainly nothing ground-breaking, but this has been my thought process over the past month. And heaven help me, I'm glad it's finally out.