Monday, September 23, 2013


People are always telling us that they can't believe how much we do. How many adventures we've had since living here in California. It always surprises me because it doesn't feel that out of the ordinary to me.

For starters, when Chris is home and providing parental backup, I think it's more fun and often more manageable to be out of the house. Everyone is happier and occupied without TV and boredom snacks. Chris is the opposite of a homebody so over the course of our relationship, I've gotten used to being out and about with him.

Mostly I think it takes a willingness to be spontaneous. The vast majority of our fun outings happen when we're leaving church and trying to think of what to do or once we're already in the car and need to pick a destination. What I love about kids is that it doesn't take much to make them happy.  This Sunday, all we needed was the beach toys and blanket I always keep in the trunk, a few snacks and little brother's extra onesie. With those things, and the perfect beach spot, we had the most relaxing afternoon. The beach is my happy place. Isn't it everyone's? I love the mountains, too, but I think with little kids the beach is the best. I'm not sure I've ever seen Meredith as happy as she was this Sunday- chasing waves, gathering rocks, rolling in the sand and even eating it in imitation of Mattias.

Seeing my kids happy. Watching the tightness in Chris's shoulders lighten. Sitting in front of a huge ocean with powerful, crashing waves. The sight of the Golden Gate Bridge. It gave me peace and perspective. Getting out of the house can be stressful as can be long car drives, but being out in nature, soaking up God's creation, with the ones I love most, truly can't be beat.


Neither can the post-beach exhaustion:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

a new bike.

For weeks now, Meredith has been asking for a princess bike. A big girl bike.

Christmas, I told her. Our garage is full of well-loved, oft played-with wheeled objects. Push cars, a Cozy Coupe, a tricycle, a scooter. There are plenty of other options until Christmas.

But then we drove by a garage sale and there was a princess bike just sitting there. A princess bike for only five dollars and it needed a home.

So our little princess got her princess bike and now she hardly seems little at all.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Earlier this week I realized I had been neglecting my tomato plants. As I waded through the thick leaves of my out of control plants, there were lots of tomatoes on the verge of overripening. The next day I decided I'd try my hand at salsa. I used this recipe and it was surprisingly easy. I'd say the hardest part was just chopping everything up! I love how it turned out. Very tasty with the perfect amount of kick. I edited the recipe by only using two and half green peppers and three jalapenos. I also didn't use as many of the seeds as she suggested.  Let me know if you try it making it.

I never thought I'd be into canning. I'm not sure canning two things (jam and now, salsa) makes me "into canning," but I do think I'll be doing it more. It feels so satisfying to open up a jar of something, knowing what exactly went into it and that it was made with your own hands. The process is intimidating and can feel a little frazzling right at the end, but honestly, it's not has hard as it sounds. And the worst that can happen it that you expose your family members botulism. No biggie.

Monday, September 16, 2013

on being alone.


Seven years ago, I discovered a new-to-me band. They opened for another band I was seeing with a friend and immediately, I was in love. I quickly got some of their music and endlessly listened to their songs. A couple months later, they returned to Boston and I was dying to go see them. They only problem was, I had no one to go with. I can only imagine Chris was working and I was probably too insecure to ask someone else to go along. With no one to go with me, I agonized over my decision until the last minute. I would have to take the train. I was nervous the tickets were already sold out. It would be so awkward to go by myself. And so, I didn't go. Regretting it ever since.

I've watched, and watched, and watched, waiting for another concert first in Boston and now in San Francisco. Leave it to me to miss my last chance to see them for seven years. Of course I had no way of knowing this break was coming (I'm not sure they did either), but goodness, there's a lesson in there.


Thrill of all thrills when they announced a show in San Francisco for last night. I asked a friend who shares a mutual love for them to come, but she wasn't up for it. This time, though, I was determined. Regardless of the drive to the city, the concert taking place in a shady part of town and being on my own. I was going to go. And not just for the music. To prove to myself that I could do something I tiny bit uncomfortable.

Of course, the music was amazing. I'm not sure I've ever wanted a show to keep on going the way I did last night. I could have listened forever, all by my lonesome. The added bonus was showing myself I could do it and realizing that, actually, at this point in my life, it's not at all scary (aside from the walking through the Tenderloin by myself).


The being alone. The cruising up the 101 with music blasting. The putting my name on a dinner waitlist for one. Sitting at the bar, eating my favorite meal, just me. Making my way to the venue, finding myself a spot and eventually getting lost in the music. That's my sweet spot. My way to recharge and be left to my own thoughts.

So, Hem, I thank you, for coming back to San Francisco. For the beautiful music. For the chance to learn, again, how important it is to push yourself just a little bit so you can learn a whole lot.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

A year of mothering two.

 "Two babies!" Meredith declares everytime they both pile into my lap.

For a year now, I've been a mother of two. This year has been incredibly humbling, changing me quite a bit. I knew having two little ones would be hard. I knew I'd have moments of feeling overwhelmed and tired and eager for bedtime. But I'm not sure I realized how much it would challenge my image of myself.

Before having kids (and even once I "only" had Meredith) I had some pretty strong beliefs about myself and about where my worth came from. I wouldn't necessarily say those things out loud if someone asked me. No, I knew the right answers to those questions. I knew the answers shouldn't have anything to do with having a tidy house, getting places on time and showering regularly. But my reality spoke something different. The way I spent my time suggested otherwise.

Cleaning our home, staying on top of the laundry, getting out and looking somewhat presentable is how I felt good about myself. I like a clean house. Messiness leaves me feeling anxious. Sticky floors and piles of laundry leave me feeling lazy. Being unshowered and in yoga pants leaves me feeling like a classic stay at home mom that could never cut it if she had to be prepped, ready and looking professional by 7 am everyday. 

And then, I had my second baby. It's been a gradual process for me. The first couple of months with two were really not so bad. I had lots of family help and Mattias was such an easy baby. But then, he started to be awake more and then he became mobile and now he lives for pulling books off shelves, dumping out boxes of crayons and emptying my spice rack. Gradually over the course of the year, the things I was looking to for value and some sign of a day's productivity simply weren't there.

I had a moment just a few weeks ago- I was following one little mess-maker, cleaning up as she went, only to be followed my another little mess-maker who was busy undoing what I had just fixed. As I did that it hit me. I am going to be doing this for this rest of my life if I don't stop it. I am going to look back and see that I wasted so much time and energy trying to keep my house clean. And for what? Last week i read this post by Jolie and in it she said, "That may mean a little laundry piles up some days, or the bookshelves don't get dusted. But that really what makes the world go round? Dusted bookshelves?" Of course not! And yet that is one of the hardest things for me to let go of. My job right now is raising my children. Not dusting the shelves.

It's funny because I recently re-read this post of mine from a couple years ago. I'm still struggling against myself. I was so sure then that I had figured it out and yet here I am still at it. I'm sure in another few years I will read this again and think the same. My hope is that there is forward progress. Perfection is unrealistic, but growth is what I'm holding onto.

I just read the most amazing book, Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. Calling it transformative feels like the silliest thing, but it really is true. She talks about how opening the doors to our home isn't a chance for us to perform a song and dance on the stage that we call home, but instead it is an act of love. I'm holding onto that as we open our home to friends and even as I share our home with my kids each day. This house isn't here for me to tirelessly clean. It has been entrusted to me for raising my babies. For dance parties in the kitchen. For train tracks on a linty rug.

Over the weekend we had come friends over for a cookout. I'm usually a hot mess bursting with anxiety before these types of things. But this time, with Shauna Niequist's words freshly in my mind, I breathed easier. I was making guacamole, listening to music while the kids were playing. Our friends were due to arrive soon and I still needed to shower. A song came on and Meredith declared, "We need to dance!" And so we did. Tomato juice dripping down my arms, Mattias scattering bottles of spices across the kitchen, Meredith and I waving our arms, shaking our bums to some music. Growth. Slow and steady and easily overlooked by outsiders. But to me, that was a huge moment of growth.

So this year of mothering two has been hard. I thought I would handle the chaos a little better. I thought it'd be itching for hundreds (or one or two) more babies by now. I thought I would still be able to have it all together. It's been painful (and continues to be) as I learn to give myself grace and let go of what I think makes me a valuable mother and wife, but I am really grateful I am learning it.

And I'm sure I'll be learning and relearning this lesson for a very long time.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mattias!

Happy birthday, sweet boy!
A year old! It hardly seems possible and yet, you are seeming so big lately that it's not altogether impossible to believe.

The other day I was watching you play while we were at our playgroup. All the kids were inside and I was letting you play in the backyard as I watched from the doorway. You contentedly made your way around the yard, discovering toys and dirt piles, eventually settling yourself into the sand box. You scooped and dug and ran your hands through it. As I watched you, I was struck by how thankful I am for you. God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave you to us. You are the perfect fit.

When I reflect back on this year, that is what stands out to me the most. You were our missing piece. Life feels so full and so happy with you. More tight hugs around the neck, more smiles, more games of catch, more pat-pat-pats of crawling hands and feet.

Mattias, I am thankful to be your mommy and I cannot wait to watch you grow this next year. My prediction is that you'll continue to be easy going, but also keep us on our toes with your energy and physicality.

We love you.