Friday, May 24, 2013

washed away

The ocean. I never get tired of it.  Sometimes I feel like if I just stand and watch and listen long enough, my worries and anxieties, the silly things I bottle up, get washed away. They're deposited in the sand and whisked away by the tide. Just like that, with the rhythm of the earth, so many of the little things that plague a paranoid mind like mine are swept away. And anything that does remain has been been tumbled about just enough to remove the sharp edges. 

Of course, the girls loved the sand. Even our "won't touch a toe to that icky stuff" baby dared to venture forth this time. And loved it. We've got two beach babies on our hands it seems. They take the sand. I take the tide. And Jess takes the seashells. If Jess is near an ocean, you will find him at dawn, camera gear tied about him, eyes sharpened and looking for beautiful shells to bring home to his babies.

And in the end, it's a win win for everyone.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

home again (again)

So last Tuesday, we packed our two checked bags, four carry ons, two car seats, and one stroller onto an east-bound airplane again. I swear this isn't normal for us, this picking up and leaving and taking babies on airplane after airplane, but we've got a few things going for us:

1. The girls both travel great. I think this is a combination of careful planning and pure practice. 
2. They are both at a great age to travel. Neither has scholarly obligations, and Lou is still a "lap infant."
3. Jess is able to take the time right now, so take it he does.

This time we headed back to our old stomping grounds, North Carolina. We spent most of our time in the Outer Banks, but also managed to squeeze in some Durham time as well. It was the perfect combination of nostalgia and new. (Also, it was humid. Wet, sticky, hot. I found myself fairly internally outraged most the time. Did I really live there?)

This is par for the course, but we have a million photos. Including a good number by Annabelle, which I'm starting to think may become a regular segment around here. I have a ton to sort through. But for now, a smattering.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

messy motherhood

Most of you know I love to cook and bake. It was a love fostered at my momma's elbow. Until I grew taller than her, and then it was more like she was at my armpit. As I recall, I wanted to cook and bake, and so she let me. She encouraged me and let me make mistakes. She showed me secrets of measuring (or not measuring). She told me the story about when she mistook baking powder for flour. And how the two are not interchangeable. I also watched her cook - the speed that she cut vegetables, the way she timed multiple dishes to be finished at the same time. It was under the even and patient hands of my mother that my own two hands found their home in the kitchen.

And now today, of course, the tradition continues. More often than not, I have at least one small tiny helper. The tiniest of the two mostly just stirs a bowl of air, but the tallest is involved. She insists on measuring and dumping and taste testing. She watches through the oven door as the cookies plump up. And most of all, she makes messes and little mistakes. I never realized as a child that assisting my mom in the kitchen wasn't really a help to her at all. I assumed that I was vital to the meal; she never let me believe otherwise. And so I never knew that my mis-measuring or giant messes of spilled sugar on the floor were a problem. Now, of course, I see that just like every other little facet of motherhood, our time in the kitchen was a labor of her love, a chance for her to teach, an opportunity for me to learn.

Just the other day, I was talking to my mom on the phone while I tidied up the house. As I made my bed, both girls came running in and jumped up on my just straightened bed covers. They always do this. They just know. When I start making a bed, they come running. The best part? I remember doing this to my mom. I remember the irresistible urge to jump on that perfect bed. I remember the exasperation as she asked why oh why? And then, still on the phone, the exact phrases that I'd heard a million times growing up came tumbling out of my own mouth. I stopped in the middle of my rant and said, "I'm sorry Mom. I'm sorry for jumping on your made beds. My gosh, we must have made you crazy!"

And so today, as this beautiful circle of motherhood continues on its rounds, I say to that most perfect mother of mine, thank you for the tiny life lessons - the messy ones, the ones that I messed up. Thank you for loving me through every minute and never making me feel like a failure, even when perhaps I was - at the moment - failing. My greatest hope as a mother is to become, well, you. 

And really, I'm sorry for jumping on those beds. :) Happy Mother's Day all y'all.

Monday, May 6, 2013

boulders and other such obstacles

So I last left you in our yard with the new tools. Yay for new tools! Little did we know, these tools would get used to their full capacity.

Our backyard isn't huge, but it has room enough for a patio of sorts. We decided when we moved in that we'd add one, and Jess had a vision all set out. (Believe me when I say, I freely turned over the yard to him. My only requirements were grass and a place for Belle to plant flowers.) He had decided on pavers, and we basically visited every home and garden store in the valley looking at our options. We found some that we both really loved, and we started the prep work.

Jess also reviewed a bunch of online tutorials to see what he was getting himself into. Now, I'm a DIY blog junky. I think I feel productive when I read other people being productive. Because heaven knows I am not a manual labor girl. So I knew somewhat what he was getting himself into. But NOT REALLY.

On Friday night, Jess started digging out the 12x9 foot square that we'd deemed our patio. He knew it needed to be 6-8 inches deep, and although we both knew it would be some work, little did we know. LITTLE DID WE KNOW. Because turns out, we don't have soil or dirt. WE HAVE A GRANITE ROCK BED. These were the first "small" ones we pulled out, about the size of a man's handspan.

Then later came the friggin boulders. About the size of BOULDERS. You can see the first rocks sitting with THE BOULDERS.

These photos illustrate about 2-3 hours of digging. 

You're welcome for that sweet architectural rendering there,
Jess' pants brought to you by 1985.
It was about the most frustrating thing in the world because you weren't digging out shovelfuls. You were digging out tablespoons of dirt. Literally, because you'd shove your shovel in, hit a giant rock, and come up with nothin'. On Saturday, I started digging too. I mentioned I'm not cut out for manual labor, but I'm not wimpy either. Granted, I'm not my mother who can dead lift a freaking refrigerator BY HERSELF. But I can hold my own, in a chick sort of way. After 5-6 hours of digging and beating the rock bed with shovels, we were maybe 1/3 done. And we were getting fairly hopeless.

At this point, despite recommendations to the contrary, Jess went and bought a pick ax. When he got home, I said, "Hand it over." And boy did I go to town. That tool became not only a life saver, but the best aggression getter outer EVER. We accomplished in two hours what we had the previous half day. Unbelievable.

Here's where she's at now. It's basically dug out. And I went and purchased a pallet of pavers on Saturday evening. So I suppose there is some progress being made. We woke up the next morning sore from our finger tips to our toes. My fingers were so swollen, I couldn't put on any jewelry. I finally just bit the dust and took ibuprofen to get my fingers back in order. 

That said, there was something insanely satisfying about this hard work. I think it was partly because it was something Jess and I could do together while the girls played on the deck (or alternatively while the Sound of Music babysat them. You know it). I think it was partly because it was a giant obstacle, but we did it. At least we got through the first part. I think it was partly because it's ours, our yard, our problem, our vision. We've got a ways to go, no doubt, but we're making it. (We also have sod and plants and a little Annabelle Garden to put in.)

One more thing, I don't think he reads this, but just in case, many thanks to Jess' youngest brother, Tanner. He showed up in the middle of the day to help. He doesn't know this, but it was at the point where physically Jess was gone. I was hanging in, but I'm a girl, and simply not as effective as an eighteen-year-old boy with energy in spades. He also showed up when the giant boulders were uncovered. That boy dead lifted them all out. In short, he was a lifesaver, the breath of fresh air we needed to keep going until evening.

Stay tuned folks. This yard has got miles to go. And how about our little helpers? They make yardwork SO CUTE. :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

budding photography skills

We paid a visit to the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point yesterday. And while it was very beautiful and our resident pho-tog took some lovelies like this...

...perhaps the best part of this little outing was the girls' joint interest in photography. 

They were both all up in Jess' grill, messing up shots and videos right and left. It was so hilarious. Lou did this a lot in DC, and it made for some of the cutest videos. Jess would be filming some stately monument with a tree blowing lightly in the wind and then HEY. Lou's buck teeth would be front and center. 


This time, Lou didn't actually cameo in videos. She did, however, vibrate the tripod around during videos and then wore the camera for a while. And Miss Annabelle actually took photos. These are all from her:

It looks like we've got a budding photographer on our hands! (Pun intended. I'm hilar.) 

Also, I leave you with this gem. You. Are. Welcome. :) 


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