Monday, April 10, 2017

to my girls

It has been quite a while since I have visited this little corner of the internet and I must say,  I have missed being here.  I miss writing and I miss reading.  But, tonight, I am here because I miss my sisters and this is one place that I can always count on connecting with them. 


I often find myself wishing that my sisters lived right down the street or, at most, across town from me.  In my perfect world, we could meet for Saturday morning breakfasts, weekly family dinners or random afternoon coffee dates.  Instead of sending a card during a bad week, I could show up on their doorstep with their favorite coffee/ice cream/flowers.  Instead of sending a text on a particularly difficult day, I could be there with a hug.  


For now, text messages and phone calls fill in for sitting face to face. And I'll always look forward to those times that we get to be together.
(soon!!)


Today is National Sibling Day so, to my girls, thanks for always supporting me, laughing with me, crying with me and reminding me that it's all gonna be okay.  I love you both!! 
xo
 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

get out

I'm starting to feel restless.

It happens every year - this itchy, jumpy, get-me-outta-here feeling that I just can't seem to shake. I go to sleep thinking about it, and I wake up thinking about it. I daydream about it when I should be concentrating on other things. On the weekends, it's all I want to do. Usually it doesn't happen this early in the year, but apparently this is how 2017 is going to go.

On March 4th, Will and I will celebrate our 11th "Trailaversary." Eleven years since we set out on our thru-hike attempt of the Appalachian Trail. You'd think I'd be over the feeling by now. The feeling that I have to go - get out into the woods, onto the trail - and walk and walk and walk. But it comes back every single year, usually right around the time that the spring green starts to pop up. So although it's early, the trigger is still the same - I spent yesterday afternoon, February 20th, outside cleaning up our perennial beds and uncovering the beginnings of new life pushing its way out of the ground. I never get tired of watching the miracle of plants.

Without really realizing it, I've been having this feeling for a very long time. The last semester of my senior year of college - 13 years ago (gasp!) - I was forced, by my major, to take a public speaking class. Now, there's a reason why I waited until the last semester of my senior year to take that class. I was absolutely dreading it. But it turned out that just about everyone else in the class was dreading it, too, and we had an incredibly good and understanding professor who was patient with us and helped us immensely along the way. Somehow, it actually turned out to be one of my favorite classes that semester.

But I remember doing a presentation called simply, "Get Out." I had a Life is Good shirt that had a tiny picture of a mountain on it with those two words printed under it, and I wore it constantly, including the day that I gave that presentation. I proceeded to make a case for spending time in the woods - how trees and mountains and quiet have the power to relax and calm and rejuvenate any weary soul.

I got an A on that presentation. Probably not because I was particularly good at public speaking, but because I believed in the message so much.

I know that Will feels it, too, because just this past weekend he suggested we go take a hike (not to be confused with, "Hey, why don't you just go take a hike!" which I'm sure he feels like telling me on occasion!).

Um, YES. Sometimes I think we really can read each others minds. 

So we packed up the kids and some water bottles and headed to our local state park for a walk to the river through the trees.





It was exactly what we needed. We stopped to throw rocks in the water, we sat and watched a train go by, we jumped up to try and touch a low-hanging branch, we collected walking sticks and smooth stones, we blazed a trail up the side of a hill just for the fun of it. I love being in the woods.

Now, it definitely wasn't the same as hiking on the AT with these views...







But it was pretty good for a Saturday afternoon in central Virginia. I'll take it.

Here's to spending lots more time in the woods in the coming months! Even though I wouldn't be surprised if it snowed in April this year. We have to have winter some time, right?!

Happy Tuesday to you!

Monday, February 6, 2017

the weekend

Hey hey it's Monday! How was your weekend? We had a pretty low-key weekend which was completely perfect and exactly how I like my winter weekends to be. There was a pretty sunset, pizza and Bible Study and lots of laughs with our small group friends, a basketball game, two friends over to play, a trip to the grocery store (admittedly not low-key), a well-spent hour at church, breakfast at our favorite spot in the village, a walk through the neighborhood, some time with friends, a nap by the fire, time for reading, an as-yet unfinished Monopoly game, food, and of course, football. We fit a lot of good stuff in over the last couple days!

 I spy angel wings.

 So thankful for this view out our windows.

 I'm reading this fascinating true story about the joys and trials of a homesteading family. Check it out if you're looking for a good read and are into back-to-the-land stories. (Also, I had a small cyst removed from my wrist almost two weeks ago. I'm supposed to be wearing that brace 24/7, but true to my stubborn form, I kept it off almost all day yesterday. Ummm, oops?)

 When the whining reaches an all-time high, I know she needs a nap. Sunday rest by the fire - what could be better? While I sat with her and caught up on some reading, the boys played an hour and a half of Monopoly...and still haven't finished the game.

I love football but let's be honest...for a lot of people, the Superbowl is all about food and commercials. I cooked up an easy spread of baked potatoes, beef and vegetable chili, chips with queso and guacamole, and these amazing pumpkin and avocado brownies. Yes, pumpkin and avocado. Don't knock it til you try it. Annabel and I loved them, but my milk-chocolate loving boys weren't quite as thrilled. Made with cocoa powder and honey and dark chocolate chips, they're not as sweet as a regular milk chocolate brownie. The girls will enjoy finishing off that plate!

I hope your weekend was restful and fun and filled with all of your favorite things. Happy Monday - make it a great week!

Monday, January 30, 2017

in search of quality time

A little over a month ago, Will and I set out to improve our marriage. Now, we don't, by any means, have a bad marriage - although we disagree and argue and frustrate each other just as much as any couple, 95% of the time we're good. But since there's always room for improvement we decided to try and change things up a little bit. One thing we've noticed over the years, especially after having kids, is that we end up putting each other last. We're needed at work or by the kids or by whatever volunteer position we're involved in, and since we know that we can each handle ourselves by ourselves, we end up putting each other on the back burner. Not all the time - it definitely happens in phases and seasons - but still it happens. We sit together to watch a show or a game or read but we don't have a lot of interaction, each tired and processing the day separately although we are, technically, together in the same room.

Now I know there are some people who consider this "being in the same room together but not actually interacting" thing as quality time. 

I am not one of those people.

For me to classify an interaction as "quality time," we have to actually look each other in the eye and have a conversation, or we need to do something that requires us to interact in some way. So for me, something like seeing a movie does not automatically count as quality time. We actually need to discuss the movie afterwards to get the quality time piece in. Picky? Maybe. But this is how I feel, for better or worse, and fortunately for me, my patient husband has tried to keep this in mind over our almost-thirteen-year-marriage.

So just before Christmas, when both of us were busy with different things and starting to do the "we're in the same room but not paying attention to each other" thing more often than not, Will suggested we try something new. Our solution to the quality time issue in this fast-paced, technology-ridden world that we live in was to take just one night a week, and completely unplug. No phones, no tv, no computer, no movies. Just us. And whatever we could come up with to do. We've only been doing it for a few weeks but I already look forward to it as a time for us to really check in with each other and just have fun.

Both of us are pretty low-key homebodies, so we pull out games and puzzles and remember what it was like when it was just the two of us and we hung out together every night after work. (Sometimes I look back at our lives before kids and wonder what did we do with all that TIME?! Seriously, what did we do?!)


He sunk my battleship.

Knowing that we wanted to spend more quality time together, Will got me a couple's cooking class for Christmas. We went one Friday night in January and had so much fun! We made steak and broccolini and polenta and gelato and enjoyed a few hours of good quality time. And bonus, we now know how to cook a good steak!


We're looking forward to seeing what else we can come up with to make sure we continue to spend quality time together each week. If you have any favorite activities you do with your spouse, please send them our way!

Wishing you a great start to your week!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Snow

Last week our kids missed three days of school because we got about 5 inches of snow. I posted a couple pics on Instagram of our snow day activities and as the total climbed to three, there was one question that was asked by a few of my friends from PA and NY: "How much snow did you get?!" You see, in central Virginia, about 5 inches is the equivalent to about 2 feet in the north east as far as snow removal and school closings goes. Our neighborhood didn't even see a plow until Tuesday afternoon - a full four days after it started snowing. It's completely crazy and ridiculous, but it's also awesome! We had so much fun playing out in the cold as the giant flakes came down and the world was hushed with the quiet that only comes with a thick blanket of snow.






Walking out into a snowy morning always makes me think back to the days when Will and I were hiking the Appalachian Trail in early March through snow and ice and cold. The quiet peace of those days hits me for a moment as I step outside.....and then is quickly replaced with whoops and laughter as I get hit with snowballs from all sides. We love snow days!


Unfortunately, the snow didn't even last a week as it promptly warmed up to seventy-two degrees on Wednesday and Thursday. So crazy. Today it's cold and raining but we're warm by the fire on yet another day off. Wherever you are, I hope you're nice and warm and enjoying a good start to your week!

Image

Monday, January 9, 2017

Christmas Cheer

Hello from snowy central Virginia! We got about 5 inches of snow on Saturday morning and it's completely beautiful and fun and COLD. Naturally, the kids are out of school today because the plows haven't come through any of the neighborhoods yet, and I'd be surprised if they went tomorrow. We've had a great time playing outside taking snowy quiet walks, sledding down the hill behind our house, doing a little snow wrestling, throwing snowballs, attempting to build a snowman, and making snow angels. I love snow! I'll post some of our snow photos later in the week. Today, I wanted to share some of our holiday photos, if you'd like to see. I chose "Christmas Cheer" as my December theme so we tried to have an extra dose or two of cheer as often as possible.

Toasting Christmas cookies at GG's = Christmas Cheer

Cute boys (9yrs and 4mo) together = Christmas Cheer

Color coordinating cousins = Christmas Cheer

Picking out our biggest Christmas tree ever (it scraped the ceiling!) = Christmas Cheer

Seeing Santa with cute cousins = Christmas Cheer

Decorating gingerbread at Gatty's = Christmas Cheer

Watching Rudolph = Christmas Cheer

Reindeer games = Christmas Cheer

Matching PJ's on the last day of school for 2016 = Christmas Cheer

Sprinkles everywhere = Christmas Cheer

Christmas Day with these cuties = Christmas Cheer

Matching girls (a coincidence!) = Christmas Cheer

Cousin love = Christmas Cheer

Banjo/Ukulele entertainment = Christmas Cheer

Being part of the first all-female ping pong champ team  = Christmas Cheer
We had so much fun visiting with our families and spending time with relatives we don't get to see very often. Christmas Cheer indeed!

Hope you're having a good start to your week whether you're home enjoying a snow day or jumping back into the weekly routine. Happy Monday!


Friday, January 6, 2017

January is for Soup

Happy New Year, friends!  It feels good to be back here in this space and I am so looking forward to making more time to write this year.  

 Today in eastern PA it is about 23 degrees and we woke up to a little bit of fluffy, dusty snow this morning.  As I drove Sommer to school, the sun was shining through the cloudy sky and as we walked from the car into school, my observant girl joyously pointed out to me that, "the sun is out of the clouds and shining on the snow making it sparkle, Mama!!"

{right after this picture she actually started to lay down in the snow to make a snow angel}

I didn't make a list of New Year's Resolutions this year and I still don't have any lofty goals to accomplish over the next 365 days.  I realized this morning, though, that I do hope to see the world through the eyes of my two beautiful babies more often than not this year.  We're also ditching our cable in favor of joining our local YMCA.  It's actually amazing how the thought of going swimming at the Y on the dreary, cold days of winter has improved our moods over the last few days.  If you have a Y near you, I seriously encourage you to join...it is so much more than just a gym!!

Otherwise, my only plan is to make pots of homemade soup each week during the month of January.  I'm not sure what motivated this decision but when I think of the beginning of cold January, all I really want to do is cozy up with my people.  The thought of hot soup simmering on the stove (with plenty of leftovers to warm us up on cold days) paired with crusty bread pretty much sums up my idea of a perfect winter night. 

I started this week and so far it has worked out pretty well.  My first soup, Broccoli Bisque, from Tidewater on the Half Shell was a complete fail for my family but a complete win for me.  It is one of my favorites and reminds me of my childhood.  It is completely dairy free but so creamy and delicious (if you ask me).  I'm thinking I might make this one every week so I can eat it for lunch everyday.  

{I like my soup with a ton of pepper and a spinach salad on the side.}

Last night, I mixed up this minestrone soup for dinner which is also delicious.  It is simple and comes together so quickly.  It will be perfect for leftovers or lunch this weekend.
 
{I love how these soups are full of veggies!}

I'm searching for more soup recipes for the month, and as I found with my Christmas cookies this year; old, tried and true recipes are where it's at. I'd love for you to share your favorites with me!