childhood’s magic

This summer has been peppered with nostalgia. It’s one of my favorite things about being a mom: as my children experience things, I get to relive days that were simple, innocent, full of a special kind of awe and beauty.

Just today I caught a whiff of the humid summer air, in between rains on a very wet day, and was transported back (you know that whooshing style movie flashback) to my grandparents’ farm in the country, the air still and silent around me. I see Queen Anne’s lace dotting the borders of fields, and hear the gurgling creek, and remember the big backyard of the farmhouse that backed up to bins and sheds and simultaneously held both a sense of adventure and peace. I was reminded of my Grandma. And of being a kid, surrounded by siblings with not a care in the world.

Childhood is so vivid.

The sound of morning doves takes me back to our big green front porch on a hot summer morning, the day ahead full of potential. The glow of fireflies puts me back in my childhood bed, in front of the window on the second floor, counting the blinking bugs instead of going to sleep. The taste of sweet peas brings me back to our backyard garden, where we would just stand there in the dirt, bugs buzzing around us, and eat the peas straight from the plant.

I was thinking about why childhood tends to be so clear like this, and here’s what I concluded: the memories are sharp because the life is simple. When you don’t have to worry about bills to pay, meals to plan, deadlines to make, laundry to do, all you have to focus on is what’s in front of you. And what’s in front of you as a child is a world of wonder and a day full of play. All your needs are taken care of. There’s beauty in this. The complete trust a child has in his parents’ ability to look out for him enables him to truly enjoy his life.

The other afternoon I watched Simona sit at the dining room table as the afternoon sun streamed in through the windows. She was narrating an imaginary story, as she usually is, completely happy and oblivious to anything else but her game. I was struck by the thought that she is exactly where she is and nowhere else. She is not thinking about her to-do list and if she can somehow multi-task as she sits there. She’s not wishing she could be doing something else. She is perfectly happy to be a kid at home on a Thursday afternoon in the summer.

But somehow adulthood can get a bit cloudy. Maybe it doesn’t hold the vividness and clarity of childhood because we have become bogged down with duty, too busy to notice simple beauty, too jaded to be carefree. We have stuff to do. We don’t have time to just be.

The other day my mom came over to watch the girls, and as she came through the door, greeted by little footsteps and voices, she said, “Ah, it’s so nice to step into the world of a child.” And I had this moment where I felt kind of guilty because so often I just don’t think about it like that. I think about parenting, adulting, when I’m going to get my next break. I don’t put myself in my kids’ shoes very much. Selfish mom award, right over here. 

Being an adult is hard, and mothering is certainly no exception to that. I have lots of ‘bad’ days where I don’t think I have what it takes to do this intimidating, wonderful task that is raising a child. I try to balance it all—I do the dishes while listening to the story Simona is so intently trying to tell me, I squeeze in a load of laundry while the girls are playing in the basement, I play ‘tag’ with them in the house while actually picking up things to put away as I run by them. 

But lately I’ve found that my best times are the ones where i actually do step “into” childhood with my girls. I put down my phone. I get out of the “what’s next” mindset and banish the mental to-do list. I do nothing else but whatever simple thing they are doing. We watch two ants try to carry a dead beetle away. I wait as Helen bends down to play with the rubber in the sidewalk crack. I sit and watch Simona act out her “character movie” for the 37th time. This is a really hard thing to practice and I don’t it nearly as often as I should, because I’m a mom and therefore my brain is hardwired for multi-tasking, but I want to keep trying. 

Naturally there are always going to be essential things that need to get done for the health and happiness of your family (you can’t ignore laundry and grocery shopping and cleaning forever), and your children need you to do those things probably almost as much as they need you to spend time with them (though they may or may not realize it). I’m only here to remind myself (oh, and you too, if you’re reading) to try to see childhood again for what it is. To not forget it’s simplicity and how the small things are actually the big things. To once in awhile stop trying to avoid or clean up the mess and get right into it.

oversharing (and irony)

We live in a world of over-sharing. I realize that this is coming from a girl who has a personal blog and therefore may not be qualified to talk on this, but hear me out. Because I am also writing this article to myself.

Your hamburger makes it’s way onto Facebook before it makes it’s way into your mouth. You’ve posted more baby pictures of your child than you’ve actually seen of yourself (guilty). And everyone knows what kind of night you had last night. Shouldn’t have that last martini. Hashtag SoMuchFunTho.

Why do we do this? This question has been addressed by many, and it’s a complicated answer, but I think it has a lot to do with validation. If your life looks good from the outside (or the internet), and people see it, then your life must be pretty good, right? What is it about “likes” that makes us tick? Why do we need people to see what we’re doing in order to have a good time doing it? Could we try enjoying our life just for what it is…our maybe-not-so-glamourous, but beautiful, imperfect life that is ours to live?

Too often I see people hanging out together, at a restaurant or bar, or anywhere really, and rather than talking to each other, they’re looking at screens. I always thought it an ironic possibility that if they weren’t physically with the person they were with, maybe they would actually be communicating with that person on a screen from a distance. But since they are physically together, they are texting someone else, or telling the world that they are hanging out with so-and-so.

I try not to, but I’ve definitely been guilty of looking at my phone instead of the person I’m with, and I often feel a pang of guilt, but not more so than I do when I’m with my daughter. Sometimes I think she wonders why her mother is looking at this little screen, and I feel the worst when I can tell she just wants me to pay attention to her. I worry that I’ll look back and feel I missed some of her precious baby moments in favor of an online life that doesn’t really matter in the long run.

Why is it so hard to be exactly and fully where we are at that moment?  Be with your friends, and enjoy them for who they are. Look at that beautiful sky, and appreciate it because God made it for you to appreciate. In trying to document our life, we end up missing out on some of it. We miss the nuances – the sway of the trees, the old couple walking hand-in-hand, our baby girl discovering how squishy cheese can be. And yet sometimes we miss the big things too. And sometimes, worst case scenario, accidents happen because phones were watched instead of surroundings.

That article you’re reading can wait (unless it’s this one, of course). That funny video will be there later. Your followers likely won’t be on the edge of their seats wondering what you’re up to. (Unless you have super devoted followers, which I don’t, so maybe I’d think differently if I did. Who knows?)

So why, when something good or something bad happens to us, do we feel the need to tell the world about it? The other thing, I think, is that we just want to be known. We want to feel like we matter in the big picture, and this is more easily attainable than it’s ever been, thanks to social media and blogs. Everyone wants their corner of the internet (forgive me for using that phrase), and online fame is seemingly only a few hundred followers away. We sometimes put forth better, or even different version of ourselves because we think it will help us gain that following.

Thing is, you do matter. Your life matters and counts for a lot, followers or no followers. You’re worth much more than “likes” on the internet. You don’t need to try to be something you’re not. You were made to be a specific, special human that no one else can be. To quote the inimitable Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed, “Find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it.” Social media can be great for connecting or staying in touch with friends, but too often it hogs our time, or crushes our spirits, or gets in the way of our actual lives and true passions.

So in closing, I leave you with three questions to ask before that next post. (Once again, myself included.)

1. What am I trying to accomplish with this post?

2. Will this make someone feel bad about themselves or left out?

3. Will I regret this post later?

That’s it. Thanks for being you, and for reading this.

3 products

These past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of family reunions and weddings. Well, just one of each, but then all the stuff that goes along with a 3-day family getaway and being in a wedding. All good, all fun, but there’s something nice about getting back into the swing of normalcy. For me, at least.

These are three things I’ve discovered over the past couple of whirl-weeks that I’m really loving:


1. Small Talk 3/4-inch styling wand by Bed Head
I’ve been looking for waves like this for my short(ish) hair, and I’VE FINALLY FOUND THEM. Everything else I try leaves me with one or two weird bumps (in my hair) that go away the next day. Picked this up a couple days before the wedding and used it to do my hair for the big day, and the waves were perfect. Not too tight, not too loose. And they lasted until the next day, and even looked pretty good the third day, and now you know how long I wait until I wash my hair sometimes. The picture above was second-day waves.

2. Halo hydrating perfecting powder by Smashbox
Another pre-wedding purchase, as I’ve been looking to get a good powder for some time now. So…I didn’t plan on spending this much but the lady put some on me at Ulta, and by the time I had gotten home I decided I wanted to buy it. It’s just really good. It doesn’t look cakey or powdery at all and actually manages to even out your skin tone (and add glow too?). It’s kind of all you need on a daily basis, but then slap on some primer and/or foundation underneath it for special times. It’s the stuff.

3. Trader Joe’s Watermelon Cucumber cooler
This is super refreshing and delicious. That’s really all there is to it. I think it’s new, cause I’ve never seen it there before…and that’s saying something. It’s a bit sweet, but I like sweet. And if you like cucumber water, you’ll love this.


Disclaimer
: No one is paying me to say these things…but they should be.

things no one told me about being a mom – episode 1

You learn so much as a new mother. You learn about yourself, your baby, your husband, and even your parents (there’s definitely a new appreciation there). Some things you (thought you) were prepared for, and some things completely blindside you. I’m going to share some of the latter in this new series.


1. YOUR HOME WILL NEVER LOOK THE SAME

I used to say I would not let the baby stuff take over my home. As I’m sitting here typing this, I can look to my left and see the baby bouncer, look in front of me and see a slew of toys and a baby gym, and look to the dining room to see a highchair and a pack ‘n’ play. It is virtually impossible to keep at bay. I would vow not to get bouncers and gyms and tons of toys, maintaining that my baby would be happy to play on the ground with a cardboard box and a measuring cup. All the time. Also she would never cry and be a perfect sleeper. And I would keep a perfectly clean home, just as before. Duh.

But somehow it happened. I didn’t mean for it to, but now I can buy toys with the best of ‘em, and I love my “lawn” for bottles, and I don’t know what I would do without the baby gym. So things change.

And things get messy. You may do a good job of keeping the baby gear away, but things will still be messy. There will be dried spit-up on the carpet, dried baby food on your clothes, God-knows-what in the carseat…and you won’t really care. The dishes may pile up in the sink you used to keep impeccably clean, and you just don’t worry about it like you used to. I used to get really hyper about cleaning the kitchen after a meal, or straightening up the house, but having a baby tends to rearrange priorities a bit. It goes something like baby, sleep, eat, work, housework, work out. Husband and myself are in there too, but I’m not sure where.

Having Simona has made me much less of a control freak about cleanliness. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not living in filth now or anything, but I’ve realized it’s okay if I don’t get to clean to bathroom this week. Or next week. And the laundry will wait patiently while I scrounge for some good clean underwear. The dishes will get done. But maybe I want to sit on the couch first and have a sandwich.

It’s just inevitable that when you add a new person to your family, you add new things to your life, and new chores to your list. I don’t know why I thought I could get away with having a baby as a neat, poopless accessory. Of course there’s more to it than that, but you know what I mean. As minimalist as you are, you have to at least have clothes and diapers. And then you have to wash those clothes and change those diapers.

So your home will look different. Maybe just a little different, or maybe ‘overhaul’ different. It’s a home where a tiny human will slowly grow into an adult, and that’s a beautiful thing. It is a messier, more chaotic life, but it is one filled with joy and love and baby coos. It’s filled with tiredness too, but that’s another story for another time. The long and short of it is that it’s worth it. I’d never trade the literal bundle of joy that now resides in my house, not for all the clean carpets in the world.

five things friday

We have a perfect day to enjoy here in Chicago! It’s sunny and 70 degrees and spirits are high. You can just feel it. Hope your weekend is beautiful and happy! And hope you enjoy these links from around the interwebs:

An amazing time capsule home.

Can’t stand how cute these moccasins are.

Have you seen this dramatic little girl?

I don’t have tattoos but this is one of the most tempting I’ve seen.

We had these incredible pastries in Paris and now Bon Appetit is telling us how to make them (a really big project though…)!

life lately

We’ve had a busy past few weeks. I have a feeling though, that this is just how life is going to be now. So maybe we’ve had a normal past few weeks. Whatever.

I’ve been making tons of baby food, trying out new recipes in my new dutch oven, trying to keep up with housework, permanently doing laundry, enjoying the warmer weather (and by warmer I mean over 40 degrees), hosting and attending dinner parties, attending other events and even going on a couple dates. So it’s been all good, but it’s been all tired. I mean I’m all tired. What day is it? I swear I just can’t go like I used to.

Here’s some iPhone snaps of recent days.

Paddington Bear for Baby Gap head to toe (on Simona). That stuff is dangerous.

She can feed herself, kind of, which makes things convenient for Joseph.

We celebrated our anniversary last month. My mom was kind enough to watch Simona overnight and we stayed in the city. I also got this fabulous print of the date from Ashley Barlow.

Her first time on the swing. She didn’t really seem to care.

We frequent this diner for brunch on weekends. Best pancakes ever.

A new hat from a friend.

Simona has a thing for jackets, I guess. Like her mom.

A Sunday walk.

reading list



I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. It’s amazing how a good book can make real life fade into the background. The Divergent series has caused me to get behind on all sorts of work and hangout time with my little family. I’d put Simona down for a nap and pick up the Kindle, telling myself I’d just read a little bit but accidentally sitting there until she woke up (usually just 45 minutes later, but still).

I also tend to be in the middle of like a bunch of books at the same time. I don’t know why I can’t just finish one and then start the next one. Attention problems…but that’s another story for another time, maybe, if I remember to do it without getting distracted by another topic.

That being said, here is what I’m currently reading:

1. The Divergent Series
I decided to read this because my husband had, and he thought I’d like it, and the movie was coming out in a week so I didn’t know if I’d finish it in time. I tend to not whip through books like he can. But I sure whipped through these. As I mentioned, it was a real time suck. It was not a problem to finish the first book, Divergent, before the movie came out, and I’ve finished Insurgent, the second one, since. I haven’t started on Allegiant, the third one, but I’m looking forward to it. They are quick, exciting reads. (I was slightly disappointed in the movie though.)

2. French Kids Eat Everything
Since starting Simona on solids, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to introduce a variety of foods to her and not have her only used to eating bland, unseasoned purees all the time. Yes, she needs to get used to the fruits and vegetables, but after that, I want her palate to experience a lot of flavors in hopes of reducing pickiness later on. I’ve only started this book, but she seems to have some good rules.


3. The Paris Wife
I started this a bit ago, and I like it, but for some reason it’s taking me longer to get through. It’s about Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley, and their life back in the 1920s. It’s a fascinating read, especially if you’re into that era and sort of thing.

4. Notes from a Blue Bike
I picked this one up because I’m really into the concept she addresses: living slowly and intentionally in this chaotic world. Americans tends to rush everywhere, and do everything quickly, and constantly multi-task (myself included, especially since Simona). I love the idea of enjoying one thing at a time, and focusing on the life and people in front of you instead of a screen. It’s a really hard thing to practice though.

5. Girl at the End of the World
Just finished this last week, and it’s one of those that’s hard to put down…for me, especially, because I have a personal connection to her story. I grew up in a ‘branch’ of the same fundamentalist Christian group that she did. I was much more removed from it than she was, and was only 17 when it all broke up, but I found the stories she told both familiar and shocking. I wasn’t aware of everything that went on, and as I read her honest personal account, I found myself angry, tearful, amused, shocked, pensive…basically all the emotions. That’s telling of a good book, no?
What are you reading?

spring pastels

It doesn’t feel like spring around here. Yesterday we woke up to a dusting of snow and a high in the 20s. I had been refusing to wear a winter jacket but I was forced to put one on for a windy walk around the block with Simona.

I keep desperately checking my weather app and finally it’s showing some consistent 40-degree weather with a couple days in the 50s. This winter has been cruel, to say the very least, if those temps seem warm. At the end of March.

But I’m gonna keep eating berries, wearing shorts, and looking at pretty pictures in hopes that I can will spring to be here.

images: one two three four five six