An Afternoon in the Yard

One of our neighbors has a fancy camera and every now and then he catches our family (and other families…but we have the babies and it’s hard to resist taking pictures of babies, right?) at the right moment and takes some pictures to share with us.


I love this picture.  I wish I could remember what Wes was saying.  More often then not, if you approach us in our yard this is how Wes greets you.  He’s got something serious to tell you and he’s going to cross his arms about it.  I think this is a Sean mannerism.


I couldn’t decide which of these Madeline portraits I liked best.  I will miss when I can’t just plop her down in the grass anymore.  It doesn’t last for too long, but there are moments when we’re outside and Madeline is fine sitting and observing and Wes is fine digging a hole, foundation, ant house, what have you in my garden and I can just sit without any children on me.  Of course I like hugging and kissing and having them on me, but it’s nice to just be too.


Who is this man child?!  Is this my 3.5 year old or a teenager?!


That’s Wes’s jackhammer.  A important for hole, foundation, ant house, what have you digging.


Sweet, right?  It is sweet.  Really it is.  But watch as it becomes less of a hug and more of a forced re-positioning.


I titled this “An Afternoon…” but really you can find us just like this most afternoons that the weather allows.  In the mornings we try to go somewhere, but in the afternoons between nap time and dinner prep, it’s nice to stay close to home.  I always thought of myself as an indoor girl, but it turns out I really crave being outside.  So does Wes now.  Hopefully Madeline does too, but we’ll see.  The fresh air is so good for us.  I’m so happy to have these pictures that make just our normal everyday afternoon look a little more special.

Second Date Salmon

I search “second date salmon” on this blog pretty often and it always surprises me that I come up with nothing.  Second date salmon is our special occasion go-to.  We make it for anniversaries, birthdays, and for friends when we entertained at night more.  So when I requested it for my birthday the other week and again searched “second date salmon” and again was surprised it wasn’t already recorded here, I decided to remedy the situation.

On our second date, Sean suggested we tour the Embassies.  They have an open house day every year.  What a great suggestion, I thought.  Who is this guy?  We did that for a little bit.  It wasn’t quite as fun as we hoped but we weren’t ready for the date to end so we played pool.

We played best out of three, maybe, and the loser had to cook dinner.  Sean lost.  Sean’s really good at pool.  He will not admit to swinging the game.  Sean’s really good at pool.

So we went to Whole Foods where, without looking at his phone once or skipping a beat or displaying any hesitation, he pulls all of these ingredients into his basket.  Who is this guy?

Sean worked at a restaurant called TenPenh in college.  TenPenh was so great.  I went there with my parents during a restaurant week and had my first experience with Som.  The three of us picked very different dishes and that Som picked the exact right one for all of us!  It was amazing!  Anyway, Sean ate their salmon dish and wanted to recreate it at home.  So he worked at it and worked at it and finally got it.  To be fair he’s still working on it.  He switched from green beans on the side to baby bok choy not that long ago.

So on our second date we eat this very delicious and amazing dish that Sean whips up without ever looking at a recipe.  Who is this guy?

The man I get to call my husband now.  Who makes this really great dish twice or three times a year.  It’s my favorite food ritual in our family.

Second date salmon is wasabi mashed potatoes, spicy Szechuwan baby bok choy (but originally green beans), salmon, and hoisin butter sauce.  Garnished with as many black and white sesame seeds and chives as your heart desires (and in Sean’s case, that’s a lot).

Hidden Pond

The other week a play date canceled at the last minute and Madeline slept way late (why can’t our children sleep in together…and on the weekend?).  I packed it in during the morning for Wes so he’d nap and after lunch we headed to a nature center.  This nature center has everything a playground, a pond, and a building with animals.

It was a really nice time initially. We played on the playground, put together the puzzles in the nature center, saw the baby turtles there too, and ventured around the pond.

We’d intended one last play on the playground before heading home, but I mentioned this was after lunch.  So Wes was tired.  Sometimes I wonder if I should give more allowance to defiance that happens when he’s tired and I’m the reason.  He really should have been at home but I was pushing for a) a nap (not just quiet time) and b) to start that nap at the same time as Madeline’s.  But then there’s that look.  You’ve given me instruction, Momma, and I heard you but I’m going to half smile at you as I stick my toe over the line as little as possible to make sure you’re serious.

I could stand to be more consistent, but this time I was serious.  Because I hate that half smile.  So we went home.  Crying child all the way to car and all.

When it comes to parenthood, why doesn’t winning always feel good? I set the boundary, it was crossed, I reinforced the rule. That’s a win! I did the hard thing. I was unwavering. Why doesn’t it feel better? Why does it feel like I still lost a little? Especially when there’s a child crying all the way to the car. Why doesn’t it feel like I made progress toward the end goal? What is the end goal here exactly?  Am I meeting it?  I really have to wait 20, 30 years to find out?

In the short term I didn’t even accomplish the goal of a nap. So long term, I’m really holding out hope for you. That the combination of these difficult moments really will matter.

36 weeks

36 weeks

When I picked the playroom carpet for this project it was mostly for ease.  I also had the thought, oh, she’s a girl I’ll probably put her in pink all the time so there’ll be a nice contrast.  There’s some pink in this project, but so much blue.  I guess I should have realized that.  Everyone in our family wears so much blue (and I’m mostly in charge of everyone’s clothes).  I’m also surprised that I’m just now really getting into bows.  I know there are few in earlier pictures, but it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve put her in a bow to go out in public.  I thought I’d be all over bows from day 1.

Madeline has two favorite things to drag her little body to these days.  First, to any parent sitting on the ground.  She wants your hands so she can work on pulling up.  Second, to the piano.  She’ll sit and look at it and then at you.  Because she loves banging on it.  Her little face the first she she banged on it and it made a noise was the best.


Happy birthday to me!

I turned 35 on Saturday the 2nd, and we started the day off right with cake.  Yes, same cake, new year.

Remember last year I did it with Wes and he dropped an egg on the floor and it was kind of frustrating?  This year I did it myself in phases at night.  It just worked better because of more days in preschool and Madeline’s schedule.  I kind of missed him!  Dropped egg and all!  Oh, life!  We ate that cake for breakfast all the way through Tuesday!

Sean and I got a date night in Saturday night.  We hadn’t been on a date since New Orleans and so we were ready!  We had one set of plans that really needed good weather to work.  It seems as though the rain will not stop here!  So we switched plans at the very last minute and it worked out so well!

Sean ended up with a beef carpaccio  appetizer the size of his head!

And I got sushi which made me so happy.  Sean doesn’t like sushi so we never go for sushi.  I might have a craving now and I’m not sure how I’ll solve that problem.

That’s it for pictures.  In some ways I’m still getting back into the habit of telling the story.  I personally think the story is a little better with pictures, but sometimes it’s hard to take the pictures when you’re busy living the moment.

It was a good birthday, but I’m feeling a little sad about birthdays this year.  This is the first year where I’m feeling…different, weird, older, I’m not quite sure about my age.  This year Wes will be 4 and that’s very much a wow age for me.  I’ve never been unhappy to see him get a little older and now I’m like whoa!  4!  What’s next, college?  And Madeline completes our family and so our last child who will have a 1st birthday, which is more bittersweet than I imagined.  I can’t wait for children to turn 1 normally.  So I guess what I’m saying is 35 is the first official year when life started to move to quickly.  And it feels weird.

35 Weeks

35 weeks

Just yesterday Madeline started to do peek-a-boo herself. She got her hands on her sleep sack and immediately got to hiding. It’s so cute! This week she also started to get herself into a seated position. We say “yay!” and sometimes she claps for herself. It’s so cute! She’s still dragging her body around and she frequently can be found dragging her body to wherever she hears Wes’s voice or any other commotion. We must investigate, Momma!

A trip to the zoo

Wes has had this list for the last little while. “We need to go to the zoo, the beach, and the farm,” he says. Not so much to be annoying but enough to be memorable. I think Curious George’s influence? We bought a membership to the National Zoo last month and on Memorial Day Weekend we checked off that first item.


We got there bright and early, which was a good way to go.  We arrived around 8:20 and left around 11.  It was a much different zoo at 11.  It was nice to have some time in a less crowded space.


Some of the animals are still having breakfast or sleeping at 8:20.  We were still delighted with our visit and the timing.


It was bright.  Some of these pictures looked awesome in my camera….

That’s a sleeping wolf, sleeping ducks, seals, and barely-made-it-into-the-picture-but-very-awake otters.  I didn’t realize ducks would be at the zoo, which was perfect because Wes asked about them specifically on the drive there!


We did not talk about this trip with Wes before hand.  We decided just the night before after everyone was tucked in tight that we would go.  So I walked into his room in the morning and explained we were getting dressed right away because we were going to the zoo!  He laughed his sweet little laugh and was so off the wall excited until he started to crash around 10:45.  Usually I like to share in the anticipation of the event, but this time it was nice to surprise him.


Tigers, their roar is no joke!  This tiger was hungry and was pacing around for food, and that roar would be so scary without a fence.

IMG_9855IMG_9857IMG_9859IMG_9861Wes and I rode the carousel as one of our last activities before leaving.  Remember almost two years ago when Wes didn’t enjoy the carousel ride?  He loved it this time!  It was so fun to be his carousel buddy.  We should have gone again because we can do that as members…next time.


Wes still lets me dress him and I picked his one animal shirt for this outing.  I wasn’t sure if there would be turtles at the zoo but I’m so glad they were there.  I can’t wait to go to the zoo again.  It was so much fun!

Photos by Wesley

Santa brought Wes a camera for Christmas.  Like all toys, his interest in it ebbs and flows.  We’ve had a recent flow, so I thought it would be fun to share the highlights of all his pictures since December.

First, there’s plenty of blurring nothing or very vaguely something shots.


Then there’s baby’s first selfie.  🙂


And lots and lots of out-of-focus, off-centered, wonderful-to-see-your-perspective shots.


34 Weeks

34 weeks

Madeline is desperate to crawl.  Actually, she’s desperate to walk.  She’s been desperate to move as much as possible since her vision became more focused and she saw all the fun that Wesley was having on two feet.  She wants in.  She is working so hard to get in.  She does that thing that babies do.  That thing where they get on all fours and rock back and forth.  She does that for a bit and then collapses and drags her little body to whatever has caught her eye.  I think she’s desperate to walk because sometimes she does downward dog instead of collapsing and dragging her body.  Do lots of babies do this?  Madeline’s the only of our two babies that has.

Pizza Friday

I don’t know if this is actually true, but it felt like we had pizza every Friday growing up.  Or for a portion of my childhood.  A portion that overlapped at least a little bit with TGIF.  Wasn’t TGIF amazing?  I love our recorded shows, but I get so nostalgic for those days when everyone huddled around the TV watching the same exact person deliver the same exact news or the same exact TV shows at the same time.

Anyway, I love this idea of pizza Fridays.  I looked forward to it as a kid (because in addition to pizza you could have soda without having a glass of milk first!).  There’s a ton of pizza consumed over here, but it’s not always on Friday and it’s not always as a family.  It’s been awhile so bare with me I remind myself of details I’ve shared here, but we don’t eat dinner as a family Monday-Thursday.  Sometimes not every Friday either.  It just doesn’t work for us during this season of life.  But last Friday it all worked out that we had a family dinner and that family dinner was pizza!


Wes asked to have his picture taken.  Look at that sweet face.


It’s hard to have patience for pizza.  He kept asking Sean if he could help “saw” the pizza.  Ha!



Sean and Wes have a big time together on Saturday mornings.  First it’s a little soccer clinic and then it’s the grocery store.  In their time together, the topic of changing your mind has come up, and how it’s okay to change your mind.  Wes has been a cheese only guy for some time.  But decided on this pizza Friday that pepperoni actually is okay.  And it’s okay to change your mind, right, Dad?

Oh, I realize I should clarify that although Madeline is doing great on solids, her 6:30 bedtime makes it difficult to have a family dinner with her when we’re home.  So when our family dinners are at home she goes to bed first and Wes gets some time with us and a later bedtime.  Again, this is what works best for us during this season of life.  IMG_8539IMG_8540

Sean and I have been doing in-home date nights for the last few months.  We try to go out for a date once a month, too, but that still leaves a lot of nights at home with sleeping children.  (Which reminds me of one of Joanna Goddard’s posts on Instagram.  So true.) So we started these in-home date nights to shake things up a bit.  We either pick something out of a jar (the jar contains ideas like play the Newlywed Game, share favorite songs, make a vacation bucket list, have takeout by candlelight, etc.) or a Datebox.  On this Friday we had an escape room Datebox.  It was fun.  Pirates attacked our cruise ship and we had to figure out the codes to open the dying captain’s room, get into his safe, and figure out the right frequency for sending our distress signal!  The box also had some questions to talk about how we’re stronger as a couple vs as individuals, and how we know we’re supported by the other, etc.  A mostly ordinary Friday over here last Friday, but a good one all the same.