Monday, June 27, 2011

Two Things

"You finished two things you love today."
Says husband nonchalantly as I tossed the empty container of Trader Joe's dark chocolate covered almonds into the recycling.

 As it happened, the dark chocolate almonds love started when husband and I had made a road trip-preparation run to Trader Joe's and haggled over preferred snacks for our drive through the night to NC.
The dark chocolate covered almonds were one of my acquisitions.

Be prepared for more Trader Joe's lovin here.
We're falling more and more for the place.
The dark chocolate almonds, oh you have to try them.

The second thing I finished today was the last book of Harry Potter!
I closed the book with so many feelings, none of which I could find the right words for.
A text to Kirra was enough to know that our next coffee date is going to be wonderfully heavy on the side of tales of Harry, Hermoine, the Weasleys, and Dumbledore.
Such a good story.

I felt the closing of such a journey, thousands and thousands of pages and a few months, occasioned the atmosphere of one of our favorite coffee lounges.
It was a good choice, a good ending.

So, two things.
Trader Joe's dark chocolate covered almonds and the Harry Potter series.
I love.
Do you?
Might you?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Josiah Daniel

I got the chance a bit earlier this summer to drive down to my hometown to meet my childhood best friend's brand new baby.

There was something full circle about walking in the door and embracing her as she nursed her little baby.
Somehow, it seemed just as natural as walking through her door with new rubber bands on my braces, parking my high school car on her driveway, dropping by to show her my prom dress, and then wedding dress.
She said, "You look different!" and I said, "You have a baby!"

And then we proceeded to talk the afternoon away on the couch with the baby snuggled between us.
It could have just as easily been 10 years ago, us curled up in her bedroom, all the world to discuss.

As it were, we had much more of the world to discuss now, not the least of which is her new motherhood.
I pulled out my camera, and Lil started speaking my language when she asked if I would take a few photos of Josiah.

  His many little faces had already stolen my heart, so I jumped at the chance to click away and store his little face on camera.
When it comes to babies, I have to admit, I'm easy.
Thanks Lil for sharing Josiah with me, and of course, your yellow jellybeans,
like always.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Take It In

I'm linking today to Saturday Snapshots.
Photo of the day here is another from our vacation a month ago.

Take it in.
The world, turning itself in different ways with each sense, is something to behold.
I think one of my favorite things about kids is getting to not only lay hold of life yourself,
but watching them take it all in anew.
I can see my sweet baby nephew sensing the grandness of the sea, all the way to his fingertips.

Have a happy Saturday!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An Essay On Quaker Oatmeal Squares

I've done a little math tonight.
For me to put those words together in a sentence, it had to be for a reason relating to what I call real life.

So, this real life scenario is one in which my husband travels.
I'm not good at being alone, and when the house is empty I find myself at home staring at the box of Quaker Oatmeal Squares and wondering if I have the motivation in me to collect the necessary bowl and spoon and pour the milk.

Back to the math.
I need to figure out just how often it is that I am to be faced with this angle, and how many boxes of Oatmeal Squares I need.

52 weeks in a year.  Relatively 5 of them, husband is on vacation.
44 weeks, he is at work about 3 minutes from our front door.
That leaves the computation of 2-3 weeks of the year he's traveling.

From the time I was a little girl, I remember my momma telling me something she learned from a little old lady in town.
An adage passed from one woman to another, then passed from a momma in a small town to a little girl who would grow up to live in a big city.
A wise adage for any wife, anywhere, it seems.

I don't remember the detailed arrangement of the words belonging to the adage, but I remember my momma's smile when she told me something like this,
"When your husband has to be away, instead of being sad, try to use the time to enjoy doing things you usually don't get to do when he's home."

Like take a two hour bubble bath at 5pm, like stay up reading until two in the morning, like eat a cupcake for dinner.

So while Neal's away and I lose my keys, run late to work, and forget how to start the coffee because he always does it, I manage to remember the adage from the little old lady in town.

So far I've met a friend for coffee, bought a bottle of perfume, walked to Sprinkles and whispered the code for the free cupcake, stayed late at a friend's watching a movie on a work night, and started a book that everyone keeps telling me is a "me" kind of book.

A few chapters into said book, and I've found it to be a poetic symphony of words whose melody hits the notes of the questions, 

"Where is joy in the midst of cruelty and chaos, duties and despair?
How does one slow down enough for the soul and God to live in sync?
How in the world do we learn to find God and live fully?"

Oh, indeed, friends.  You knew.  It had me at hello.
I'll probably need a bowl of Quaker Oatmeal Squares in bed at two in the morning while I'm reading. 
And I can't wait for husband to come home.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Weekday Off

I work Saturdays.
At first, I thought that was just part of the price to pay to get a job I really wanted.

And it is.
But what there also is is an "I like it" kind of return on the compromise.
The Monday off.

I do think there is something innate wound into the strands of Saturday morning that a day by any other name cannot mean the same.

But the face of the city that the Monday off shows me is a more serene expression when we talk about leisure.
Open tables at restaurants, quiet stores, parks resting in tranquility after the over use of the weekend.

That serene expression is accompanied by a playful twinkle in its eye,
as I slip into flip flops and hop on the Vespa, while the rest of the world has long since gone by with their heels and coffee.

Playing hooky, it feels like.
The world as your oyster, it feels like.

So, playing hooky with the world as our oyster, and hubby stealing a day away from work, we went on a morning jog by the lake, took the Vespa up to one of our new favorites, Bakin' & Eggs, and spent the rest of the day at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.
Summer, at 72 and sunny, I think you did just fine today.
Oh, and you too, you weekday off, you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nutella & Coffee at the Beach

I'm linking today to Life Made Lovely for a little lovely in your Monday.

I l-o-v-e breakfast, and on our vacation by the sea a couple weeks ago, nutella and coffee dwelt together as part of my blissful break from the daily grind.

I still have yet to post the many photos I took of that lovely trip to the Outer Banks,
which I attribute to a form of delusional thinking in which I am hoping to continue believing that I may still wake up at the ocean, surrounded my some of my dearest people.

But I'll post them soon, maybe with a cup of coffee and some nutella to, you know, be congruent with the experience.
Might I suggest you find inspiration from this photo and have a little coffee and nutella breakfast moment yourself this summer.
Chocolate and coffee for breakfast.
It's something that must be done.
Ideally, on a Monday.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Different Kinds of Happy

Thank you to Sara Groves for so winsomely giving words to an at once intricate and simple experience of living that I've found myself walking in the past, well, while of my life.

Different kinds of happy.  
This new to me song played in the background as Neal and I cooked dinner together in the kitchen, blackened tilapia as this summer Sunday night would have it.

As the words spun together, mixing with the scents of spices wafting up from the oil-spitting skillet, Neal turned and pulled me into his arms for the kind of smooch where your lips smile while you kiss.

We spent the late afternoon underneath a huge tree in Lincoln Park.
Conversation more about some of my sadness, frustration, and feelings of lack than anything else.
Last night over dinner I cried into most of my white napkin while the waiter checked on us with mild repose.
Classy, I know.

I am happy.
It's a different kind of happy than other kinds I've known.
It's one where I'm more dependent than I want to be, one where I'm growing in a way I didn't see coming.
Sometimes I fiercely dislike it.  At other times, I like it in an I'm-becoming-someone-I-didn't-know-I-would kind of way.

Since I'm writing, and you're reading, I have a request to make.
Listen to Sara Groves' "Different Kinds of Happy" song, or at least read the lyrics.
And secondly, promise yourself that you will lay flat on your back under a huge tree this summer and look up.
I don't care if you're 25, 55, or 85.
I wanna hear about it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Where I Come From

Home in June is like the long awaited summer finally biting the worm, and as I reel it in, it feels so right, so satisfying.

It's the curved brick walk I watched Daddy lay, hedged by the wispy pops of color I've watched Momma tend for years.

It's the pergola under which my white dress swirled as my groom spun his bride in a dance,
it's the pool that booby trapped the TP-ers one inky black summer night.

It's the front porch swing, it's Tiff's boys with their long eyelashes.

It's our Lilly girl who I can't go a visit home without someone exclaiming how much she looks like her auntie, it's always leaving later than I say I will.

Because really, it's hard to leave where you come from when where you come from is where I come from.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Quick Stop in Chicago

Neal and I are hugging each other a little tighter tonight.
Early tomorrow morning, we go our separate ways,
he to a work conference for the week and me for a trip to see my friend's new baby and a brief drop in at home.

Seeing as we just got back from Cincy, our suitcases are feeling the love.

So, today was a quick stop in Chicago before summer spins the wheels on our car once again, in typical us summer fashion.
Chicago for the day found us on a Vespa ride to church, a quiet afternoon at home doing laundry and taking naps, and a patio dinner with the in-laws under a beautiful strand of lights and flowers at one of our favorites, The Kerryman.

Settle yourself at an outdoor table at The Kerryman this summer, and you'll begin to know summer in the city.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


We spent a lovely summer day today with our friends
in Cincinnati.
It was my first time to Cincy, and I was charmed.
Surprised by the steep hills, quaint neighborhoods built into the hillsides, and the old buildings and homes throughout the city.
Who knew?
Not me.

Britt and Tim are dear friends, the kind that we can stay up until one in the morning with, drink good coffee the next day for counterbalance, talk good books, play bocce ball in the sweltering heat, and then trust to lead us to the most delectable black raspberry dark chocolate chunk ice cream.
We can also sit around a laptop google-searching "saggy faced dogs," which got us all hooting with laughter and contemplating future additions to our families.

They're the friends where experiencing the world and relaxing into conversation blend together simultaneously in some kind of stimulating ease.
I like.
Here's to Cincy, and to our lovely friends!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hopeless Chicago Romantic

Memorial Day, in other words, summer officially.
Couldn't really imagine it any other way than the story these pictures tell.

Steamy, sunny light pouring through the filter of tree leaves at Lincoln Park, a blanket and chairs, HP 7, frozen yogurt, and droves of bicycles, families, beach bags.
Did you know Chicago was named the #1 place in America to be on Memorial Day?
Of course! But then I'm a hopeless Chicago romantic...

The very reason I can't imagine it any other way, I owe deeply to our service men and women today and throughout hundreds of years. 

To them, thank you.
With every breath of freedom, may we live well.
This day, well, I believe we did.