Friday, August 30, 2013

Our annual trip to the River

Last week, we headed to Cowpasture River for a much-too-quick long weekend with Nana and Pop.

George on the iconic swinging bridge that crosses the river.

While we don't intend to go only once a summer, it has turned out that way these past few years (vacations, jobs, trips to Italy (my parents, not us), and life in general tend to get in the way, darn it).  So we make the most of it while we're there.

I will never tire of that view.

It was on the chilly side (thus the hoodies),

But my little fish still managed to swim every day and even went off the rope swing for the second year in a row.

A screenshot of the video, which I can't seem to upload on the blog.

And that would be my third child also enjoying the water.

The kids painted about a million rocks nearly all of which made it back to Richmond as part of Grandma's birthday present (sorry, GM!)

And, probably my favorite part, nap time certainly happened every afternoon.

Tired kids; tired parents.

Tired grandparents.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Monday, August 26, 2013


A year ago today, I took my first Bikram yoga class.

June 2013 (Disney World!  During George's nap time, of course)

What started as a supplement to my running (and my doctor's suggestion to sloooow dooooown) has turned into a passion I had forgotten existed in my being.  Not since ballet have I felt such joy in the craft and the practice.  Yoga isn't about being perfect or being flexible--it's about the journey.  And I love, love, love that.  I craved that without even knowing it.  And I finally found something to work towards again that is a never-ending endeavor to improve my body and spirit in one place.

I know, it sounds a little kooky (I can almost see my mother's questioning head shakes as I am typing this) and I'm okay with that.  I don't even fully understand why I love it so much.  In fact, I am always hesitant to recommend Bikram yoga to anyone I don't know well because I don't want them to hate me.  It's hard--the hardest thing I have ever done.  This includes dancing four acts of Swan Lake, swimming 10,000 meters a day, and running six marathons.  It might include childbirth, except that's probably a good comparison to the pleasure and pain involved (and the amazing ability of the mind to completely forget the pain in light of the sheer joy you have following both).  

Not a class goes by that I don't want to leave the room or sit out of a posture.  And I've certainly been guilty of doing both.  But in the yoga studio, there is no judgment--not from the teacher, not from the students, and (hardest of all for me to grasp) no judgment of yourself.  You take each class as they come--the good and the bad.  And one day you realize that the bad classes are actually the good classes; that with the struggle comes the strength and the breakthroughs.

Yoga is incredibly humbling.  You wouldn't believe what some of the professionals can do with their supple, strong, and tiny bodies.  Effortlessly, modestly they practice postures  day in and day out not because it's their job (most yogis don't get paid to do any of this), but because they love it, too.  Discipline, drive, internal motivation, and incredible mental strength that reminds me of trained Navy Seals.

While I still am an imperfect mother and wife in countless ways, yoga has certainly made me a more patient person in general (no joke.  Just ask George who tests that theory on an hourly basis).  I also realize that my newfound hobby is just that--a hobby and a luxury.  And I am so very thankful to Will for letting me pursue my passion that brings no tangible income to the family.  I have to believe that one day, in some way, I can create a sustainable lifestyle with this wonderful practice.  But if not, I know I will always have my yoga family and the craft itself to fall back on.

“You're never too old, you're never too bad, you're never too sick, and it's never too late to do yoga, and start from scratch once again!” 

                                      -- Bikram Choudhury

Happy Monday, everyone!

Monday, August 19, 2013

This and that

It's been rainy and unseasonably chilly here recently, but we did manage to squeeze in some outside time Saturday morning down by the James River.

This is one of the kids' favorite things to do with their father when I'm at one of my marathon yoga days--hop along the river rocks, look for creatures, and enjoy the sounds of nature.  I was a nervous wreck on the inside (combination rattlesnake memories + roaring river + children), but I tried to keep it all inside and let the kids show me their tricks.

Talk about a humbling morning--they were completely at home here.  And nothing could have made me more proud of them (or more grateful to Will for acclimating them so well to the outdoors).  

My three nature lovers!


Saturday night, Frances was invited to Carissa's house for a sleepover, so Will and I treated George to his first movie sans big sister (and sans sharing the popcorn).

We went to "Planes," the latest Disney movie.  Truthfully, it was lacking a bit in the plot department, but George loved it.

And Will and I loved holding hands for 2 hours : )  Please forgive me for looking so very, very old here.  Wowzer.


The kids' current favorite activity?  Taking off all of their clothes and running around the house.  (Don't worry, Mother, no actual unclothed pictures accompany this post).

One morning after this activity, Frances rigged this fairly creative outfit out of various contents of the dress-up box.

George's outfit was less fashion, more utility.  Typical male.


I came home from Lynchburg last week to find my husband had made this:

Cucumber-mint water.  I think my yoga-speak is starting to rub off on him.  And PS - it is incredibly delicious and refreshing!  Score one for Will.


When he's outside, he wants to come in; and when he's in, he wants to go outside.

Go figure.


And speaking of Marshall, he really has stepped it up in the play department.

This used to be Max's sole domain while Marshall would slink off to the mudroom to be alone.  But I thinks he secretly likes the attention.  Look at that smile!


Riding the Gram-E train - their favorite afternoon activity.

Happy Monday, everyone!  

Friday, August 16, 2013

A conversation with Frances this afternoon

Me:  Frances, what do you want to do when you grow up?

Frances:  I want to be just like you!

Me:  You mean you want to be a mommy?

Frances: Psht!  No!  I want to be a Princess.

Most days I feel like the pre-Prince Charming Cinderella, so I guess she's not too far off.

Happy weekend, everyone!  I can't wait to spend some time with my prince : )

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nine years!

Frances and George are back home from their 'best vacation eva' trip to Nana and Pop's house and I am for the first time in a few days sitting down to my computer to write.  Ahhhh!  Will is home from work (a small miracle) and I hear the pitter-patter sounds from upstairs as he playfully puts the children to bed--books, teeth brushings, kisses, snuggles.  Unsurprisingly, this is my favorite time of the entire day.

Nine years ago, this is what we were doing, laughing our way through the entire event.

And we've been giggling this same way since.

Nine years sounds simultaneously long and short, but there's no doubt we have made the most of our time together.  I am overjoyed at the idea that we are still in the honeymoon phase of life--young children, fairly good knees, friends still getting married, the two of us trying desperately to stay awake until midnight on New Year's Eve.  I get excited about the prospects that lay ahead for us.  Not just decades down the road when the kids have grown and left (*sob*) and we can finally take that month-long European vacation (although that all sounds pretty spectacular); but just days from now.  What lies ahead during the ordinary times in our life; what new way will my heart go "pitter-patter" as Will enters the room after a long day of work; when will we be able to simply hold hands again.  All of that is exciting to me.  The ordinary becomes extraordinary when you are married to your heart's counterpoint (yep, that would be a "Wedding Crashers" reference.  Had to do it).

Happy 9th Anniversary to my counterpoint in life!  I am a lucky, lucky girl.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Frances and George are visiting my parents for a long weekend and by all accounts having a fabulous time.

Playing dress-up

Visiting with a friend's new kittens

A trip to the children's museum, of course!

In talking to my mother on the phone during these days, I know she's exhausted and worried about what to do with them; but I can't tell you how much I appreciate their efforts in allowing Will and me some quiet time to ourselves.  It's been a great summer, but it's been very Frances- and George-oriented.  We really needed to miss them a little (and have them miss us, too!) and with our 9th wedding anniversary coming up next week, this weekend was the perfect way to celebrate.  Thank you, Nana and Pop!

Saturday, in true OCD fashion, we spent most of the day cleaning and doing the chores we can't accomplish in a timely manner with F&G around.

Some much-needed window cleaning

But today we treated ourselves to a hike along Skyline Drive in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Portions of the hike included the Appalachian Trail, which instantly turned us into seasoned professionals and experts in all-things nature.

And all semblance of maturity and rationality vanished into thin air when we came across this three-foot rattlesnake in the middle of the trail.

Looking at this picture still gives me the heeby-geebies.  Will was about 2 inches from stepping on it when he levitated off the ground, said some choice words, and told me not to go any further down the trail.  No problemo.  In truth, Will would have gladly stepped around the snake and continued down the path.  But I may have threatened bodily harm if he didn't turn around and hike back to the car as soon as possible, and he graciously obliged.  

Because we finished our hike about one mile early, we headed in to Charlottesville for lunch and a less animal-oriented stroll around UVa's campus.

And now we're back home enjoying a child-less Sunday evening at home, the first in ... ever, and I'm trying to will my heartbeat back down to a respectable level before I head to bed and dream about rattlesnakes.

Thank you again to my parents for keeping our incredible loves and a happy Sunday to all of you!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Baby don't you cry

One of my virtual "friends" (or perhaps more accurately, a food blogger I have never met but who I adore) just had her first baby--a perfect little boy named Lincoln (love that name).  She is rightly taking a break from her usual recipe-per-day posting schedule to enjoy her newborn son, but thankfully posting some pictures of him and his new family.

And I am in baby love all over again.  She's writing about every single emotion I felt with Frances those first few weeks--the unexpected, overwhelming, and immense amount of love you feel for your first child.  Your sadness when seemingly overnight they change.  (Wait, what?  No, no; that outfit just fit yesterday.  Did I shrink it in the dryer?)  How much you miss them when they're not in your arms (which is hardly ever with #1).  That desire to just stare at them, touch them, kiss their sweet necks, smell the tops of their heads.  And, without warning, the knee-buckling fear of anything ever hurting to them--playground bullies, bumps and bruises, broken hearts.

I sent her a "congratulations!" message (along with hundreds of her other readers) and found myself rambling on and on about these first weeks of motherhood.  How she needs to take the time to enjoy her baby and not feel guilty (forget about all of us recipe lovers!  We'll be fine).  How she'll look back on these first months with an unbelievably full heart.  This time will never happen again.  Yes, there may be other babies--but there will never be another first baby.  You will never again get to see your handsome husband hold your newest love for the first time--watch him evolve as a father and as a human.  Those early weeks--there is just something wonderful about them.

Strangely enough, one of my favorite memories from my all-too-short maternity leave with Frances was a movie I watched twice (strange because I have never been a big movie person and probably haven't watched one in a good six months or more).  I recommended it to this new mom, in part because the movie is about a girl who cooks, but more so because the movie describes better than any one I've ever seen that instant and intense motherly love.

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.  Especially if you are in a sleep-deprived hazed and highly hormonal  state (which, coincidentally, also describes the mother of a three- and a five-year-old).

Without giving away too much, towards the end of the movie the main character (the waitress) gives birth to her daughter and her world is changed forever.  Suddenly, things become clear--she realizes her personal relationships are for the birds and that every decision from here on out will be with a focus on her new daughter.  This is the part where my waterworks start every single time.

But thinking about the last scene of the movie is what got me today.  You see, the last time I watched the movie Frances could fit in the nook of my arm.  She was the daughter in the birth scene--the infant, the innocent, the potential person, the swaddled lump of love.  But today, she is this girl.

Or at least, she was that girl three years ago!

And the last time I watched the movie, I remember thinking how old that little girl looked.  How it would be an eternity before my Frances would be that big--before she could walk, talk, have hair long enough to put in bows, walk down the street holding my hand.  And yet, somehow, those days are here.

I love these times now more than I ever thought possible.  But what I wouldn't give for one day back during those first weeks.  My intimidated hands becoming confident in one swoop.  My fears that she would fall out of her crib if I didn't watch her every second while she slept.  My heart about to burst out of my chest when she would grab my fingers tightly in her tiny hands.

As Maya Angelou is often paraphrased as saying, "If I'd known better I'd have done better."  I didn't know then how fleeting that time would be; but I know now.  I know that I will one day look back at my pictures from this summer and wish I had my five-year-old back in my lap, laying her head on my shoulder and telling me about her dream from the night before.  Dancing in the kitchen.  Dressing her stuffed animals in her doll clothes.  Drawing hearts and rainbows on every available piece of paper.  I know these days are fleeting--fleeting because they are wonderful.  Perfect.  Flawed in all of the right ways.  Beautiful.  Just like Frances herself.

(PS - this movie also has just about the best theme song of all time)

Baby don't you cry.  Too late.

Happy Friday, everyone!   

Monday, August 5, 2013

The zoo

Although I am still in complete denial, it seems August is here and here to stay.  Part of me is thrilled at the prospect of the school schedule resuming next month (and let's be honest, a little me time.  I sort of forgot what that was like).  Part of me always gets a little sad at the thought of summer coming to a close.  June holds such prospects for pure pleasure every single day; and while I logically know that won't happen, it's always sad when those 3 classic summer months have come and gone and you're not sure you squeezed every ounce of potential out of them.

True to form, we trekked it to the Richmond Zoo Friday morning to make sure we made it there at least once this summer.  I'm not a fan of zoos in general (animals in cages make me sad), but the kids love it and I do like the idea of supporting our local zoo because they seem to do an incredible job with the animals that they have.

The Galapagos tortoises were amazing--huge and very interested in the giraffe food we still had in our cups.

The male lion was out ... and growling.  Yikes.

Penguins!  My favorite.

Zebras (and some kind of white elk-like creature that I failed to make a note of--sorry guys).

The real-life Tiki Room

Feeding the giraffes never gets old.  Their tongues are about as long as their necks, which George thinks is absolutely hilarious.

And finally, the camel.

Am I the only one who looks at this and thinks, "Uh oh.  Guess what day it is.  Guess what day. it. is."  Just in case you have no idea what I'm talking about, treat yourself to what is probably my favorite commercial of all time.

Happy, happy Monday, everyone!  And if the weather is as nice where you are as it is here, get outside immediately.  You won't regret it!