love wins

If there were a way to make it so that by reading a post rainbows and hearts would come shooting out of your computer screen and shower you in love, then that is what would be happening right now. Guys, I am full to burst.

Friday's decision by SCOTUS literally had me in tears at work!

Source: Mic/Texas Leftist

Love is the reason, the answer, the meaning... and now, now it is the right. For Everyone.



Last Wednesday I woke up with my family, helped them get ready for a trip to the zoo, then gave them lots of extra hugs. We left at the same time, me grabbing my pre-packed bags full of clothes, food, and yoga gear and heading North. It was finally time, after years of wishing, then months of anticipation and planning, for me to attend Wanderlust.

My first stop was a little closer, in Albany NY, for lunch with a girlfriend.

Then it was on the road for the next brief jaunt to Vermont.

Wednesday night was super quiet, with a lot of people not arrived yet. So after I called Trav and Gwen, and got checked in, I just looked around the ski village a bit, got myself some dinner, then headed back to my room and bed. At that point I was more then a little nervous. I hit me that I was here alone... and part of me wondered if I was just going to be alone for the next 4 days.

Thursday dawned bright and early, fears still in place, but excitement in full swing too. Here is when I made my first good decision of the festival. I went to my first class. Sounds so simple and easy and obvious, but at the time it didn't feel it. My first class was Slackline Yoga and I was a bit terrified that I would end up falling on my face in front of everyone. I'm so glad I ended up going. It was hard as heck, but a lot of fun. And I realized that I wasn't alone. As corny as it sounds, we were all in this together. So many first time Wanderlusters, so many trying these classes for the first time too.

That was a running theme of the whole weekend. New things, hard things, fun things - together. Doing what scared me a little and being so grateful that I did, and meeting beautiful people along the way.

I had a bit of a break after that, so I wandered off to find where my next class would be, then settled into a quiet spot and read.

Then I took a class with one of my long-time yoga inspirations, Chelsey Korus. She is amazing to watch and so fun to learn from. Not to mention, one of the sweetest people!

My last class that day was a fun, challenging flow with Elena Brower. Then more break time and that night, the Wanderlust Spectacular! Its name says it all. 

Friday dawned with less fear, and more excitement... even though my very first class was all about inversions and the fear they invoke!

Heading to this class involved a gondola ride to the top of the mountain. 

And once there, we joined together to conquer our fear of viewing the world from a different perspective!

And really that's what this whole weekend was about. Gaining some new perspective.

The rest of Friday involved a great talk on living without waste, a class on back bends, and an amazingly wonderful evening aerial yoga class (by Aireal Yoga).

Each day I found some time between classes to call Trav and Gwen. And each day I found some time to relax, read, decompress, and just be. It was the perfect balance of physically challenging and restful. 

Saturday dawned with an 8 a.m. Rocket Vinyasa Flow class... which may not have been my brightest decision ever, but shaky body aside, I was absolutely awake when it was over! 

After that was a "Talk and Walk" hike at the top of the mountain.

I mean the very top.

All the way to the Fire Tower... then if you wanted, up the Fire Tower!

The view was absolutely worth the slightly unnerving climb!

Guys, there were so many things I loved about Wanderlust... but besides the obvious yoga focus, there was also the amazing opportunity to absolutely embed yourself in nature. Hours spent laying barefoot in the grass with fellow yogis, walks through the woods, and closing your eyes while wind and fog and mist surrounded you. It was rejuvenating and grounding in such an intense way.

There was also water, which I got to head to that afternoon for my first ever SUP yoga class (stand up paddleboard).

I didn't fall in, so I think it was a success... it was definitely challenging though!

That night I did my second Aireal Yoga class. 

It was cold, so cold. I didn't think I could be so cold in June, but it was pretty freezing. Nothing like dangling upside-down to get your blood flowing though!

That night was my last night there, so I packed all my bags and got ready to check out the next morning.

Picture © Wanderlust

I was up bright and early to pack my car and check out of the hotel before my 8 a.m. class appropriately called "The Morning After" (taught by the inspiring Seane Corn). Then my last class, a hike with a focus on self massage using items found in nature (large sticks and rocks). It was a great end to a beautiful 4-days.

And just like that, it was time to head home. 

As I talked about on Monday, it was not without mixed feelings. But there was no confusion over the fact that I am so so very grateful that I went, and I absolutely hope to go again in the future.

I know this whole post was very picture heavy... I just couldn't help myself. And guys, there are more, so many more. I won't share them all, but I will share *some* more in the months ahead.


emotional hangover

Have you ever gone somewhere new and done something amazing, and you just feel so renewed and refreshed there that when you come home, back to the "real world" it leaves you feeling a little emotionally hungover?

I'm so there. 

I am so glad to be home with my family. I missed Trav, Gwen, and Daisy horribly. But I wish I could still be there. It was so refreshing, healing, humbling, and hard in the most beautiful, wonderful way. 

I'm not ready for it all to be over.

I woke up this morning, helped Gwen get ready for school, then got right back in to bed and slept until 11. Eleven! I can't remember the last time I did that. But I needed it.

I will write about the actual experience of Wanderlust soon... but I need a few days to recover first.
In the meantime, wish me luck getting back to "normal" world.


Life is Beauty Through and Through...

You know, life is pretty good.
It really is.

Sometimes I need a remind of that. Like the other night when something wasn't going the way I'd hoped. It was so easy to let it get me down... way down. Could have, would have, should have, my life isn't what it is supposed to be... down.

How silly.

I was talking to a friend a few days later and he asked how I was. I told him the truth, I was busy. He asked with what, and I decided to tell him all the good things that were keeping me busy. Yes, there's work... but there are also yoga classes, Trav's softball games (he's playing in a work league!), my trip to Vermont for Wanderlust (I'm there now! post soon), our impending trip to Cape Cod, and the little things I'm doing to prepare for my brother's wedding next month. Man, there is so much good!

And that doesn't even count the million other little things that make life oh so very busy, but oh so wonderful too. The cooking of yummy foods, reading of books, Gwenie snuggles, Daisy snuggles, laughing with Trav. Those little bits of wonderful, that make the day-to-day that much better.

Why do we humans do this over and over? Get caught up in the frustrations of things we can't control to the detriment of our view of the things we can?

Life is a million things, but when you boil it down it is just {this} -- right here, this very moment. It is the people we love and the love that we share and it is where we are right now. Of course sometimes the here and now is scary and hard, but there are enough real trials in life without wasting one minute focusing on the "should have," that is imaginary!

Thank goodness for good friends who (intentionally or not), remind us of these truths!


semi-wordless wednesday {keepin it real}

Sometimes mornings are all slumped skin, bagged eyes, and crazy hair. Especially when sick. 

Enjoy the bubble gum turned bath toy container back there. This is reality people.


Irish soda bread

I've had a bit of a love affair with Irish Soda bread for a few months now. Ever since I picked up a loaf to surprise Travis on St. Patrick's Day. Its hearty, just the right amount of sweet to set it apart from regular sandwich bread, and super quick and easy to make.

Original recipe.

I got a really good recipe from my mom. Its simple, easy, quick. But it was not quite what I want, its very good, but needed a touch more sweet for me. I tried it a second way, but it still wasn't there. However, as the saying goes, the third time was the charm for me! I'll share the original recipe, and my slight changes.

Sift together:
2 cups all-purpose flour [my edit: heaping cups]
1/2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1 T. sugar [my edit: 2 T brown sugar]
1/2 t. salt

Cut in:
3 T. softened butter

With my adjustments.

1/2 cup raisins
1 cup buttermilk (scant cup regular milk with 1 T. vinegar to sour)

Mix thoroughly.

Turn out dough on floured board (don't skimp on the flour, its a sticky dough!), sprinkle a bit more flour on top, flour your hands, and knead for 2-3 minutes. Shape into round loaf.

Place in greased 8 or 9 inch cake pan. Cut a "cross" on top, about 1" deep, with floured knife (this helps get the heat down inside).

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 - 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Let cool for 10 minutes+ before slicing.

I prefer mine sliced thick with a good slather of butter. 



On Never Having Another: Grieving What You Don't Want

I've spoken before on being "one and done" (1, 2), though I realize now, never in much detail.

Trav and I are so happy with our little family, happy with all the things we'll be able to do with our One. With Gwen we feel satisfied that our family is complete. The intense need I had to have a baby is sated.

[Now seems like a good time to note that this is a very personal decision, and please don't take any of our following reasons as a judgement on anyone who makes a different decision!]

We don't make a ton of money and having only one will allow us to do more of the things that we want to do, and help Gwen experience more of the things we'd love her to experience. It means more one on one time for each of us. One means more freedoms for us. Freedom to travel more, and more easily. One means not contributing to global population growth. One means consuming less. It means not needing a bigger car.

I stand by the above completely. And yet...

There is still a part of me that misses what I don't want to have. A part of me that grieves what we purposely won't experience again.

That first excited moment of knowing. A growing belly. Inside kicks. Seeing the first ultrasound and hearing the first heartbeat. Newborn baby snuggles. The unique smell of your infant. Wearing a baby. Nursing. Firsts upon first upon firsts. 

Gwen is amazing. She is my heart in physical form, my soul made into a song. Of course I grieve not having that again! And never having another little nursling tucked against my chest... well that does me in a little.


I don't long for sleepless nights, or crying that can't be comforted. I don't wish to have frustrated tantrums from lack of words. I don't want endless diapers, or a being permanently attached to my breast.

I don't want to split time, or not be able to make trips that we would be able to now.

To be a little selfish... I don't want to gain all that weight again, rearrange my organs, lose my ability to eat sushi, drink wine, and do fun adventures that might be "dangerous." All this is especially true since I'm still losing the last of the weight from Baby Boy. I want my body to be 100% and completely my own!

(That said, I do look forward to my brother having babies that I will snuggle and hopefully (baby)wear with wild abandon!!)

It was so odd to me, leaving the Birth Center for the last time as a OB patient; knowing that my visits would be counted by year instead of by weeks now. Our decision, though it is absolutely the right one for us, and though it is still reversible should we chose to do so (no thanks!), feels so final. And the fact that I've chosen to put my childbearing years behind me... well, that frankly makes me feel a bit old!

In the end though, this family, this wonderful beautiful family that we have created, it is perfect for us. And a little bit of grieving doesn't change that.


Dear Me. {Carnival of Natural Parenting}

Welcome to the June 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Talking to Yourself

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written letters to themselves. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Dear Twenty-Two Year Old Me,
A year out of college, you are engaged and planning a wedding. You've just moved into a twin house, that you don't necessarily love other then the fact that its yours. You don't know it yet, but in a decade you will be looking to move out of that house, and only then realize how much you really do love it.

You know what else will have changed? Just about everything! Ha! You now have a beautiful daughter, a crazy lovely pup, and even exercise regularly (and crazier still, enjoy it).

Over the next few years you will go through some wonderful things (wedding, travel, childbirth), and you will go through some really hard things (miscarriage, death, childbirth...), but you really do have a beautiful life. So do me a favor: don't stress so much. I know it seems like some things will never work themselves out, but they will. I promise.

You know what though, you have plenty of time to figure all that stuff out. Go back to planning your wedding and painting your house, and enjoy it. These are some of the most carefree and low-key days of your life! It only gets busier, messier, crazier from here on out. It gets even better too.

Dear Future Me,
Man I could use your reassurances right now. It seems there are so many things in flux at the moment, so many things in limbo, so many ways we're hoping for change and waiting, waiting, waiting.

I know it will work out in the end. We will figure this out, as we've figured out our other trials before. But man, I wish you could tell me how it was to work. I wish you could show me the whens and the hows, because right now they seem so elusive.

Reassure me that I'm going to make the right decisions for my family... that we're going to love the house that we move in to, tell me what happens with my job, will Gwen love school, do we ever win the lottery? (Okay, kidding about that last one.)

I have to imagine that ten years from now I'll be looking back at me and saying, "Sweetie, relax. It will all work out." But man it would be nice to actually hear it.



Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Dear Me. — Meegs at A New Day writes to her decade-younger self offering a good reminder of how far she's come, and she addresses some fears she wishes future her could assuage.
  • Reflecting on Motherhood with Parental Intelligence: A Letter to Myself — Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence writes about raising her two loving, empathic sons with Parental Intelligence and finding they have become industrious, accomplished young men with warm social relationships.
  • A Letter to MyselfThe Barefoot Mama writes to herself in the moments around the birth of her daughter.
  • A Letter to Myself — Holly at Leaves of Lavender offers a missive to herself in the past... three years in the past, to be precise, when her little one was only four months old.
  • Dear me: Nothing will go the way you've planned — Lauren at Hobo Mama gets real with her just-starting-parenting self and tells it to her straight.
  • A Letter to the Mama Whom I Will Become — Erin from And Now, for Something Completely Different writes a letter to the Mama whom she will one day be, filled with musings on the past, present, and future.
  • Dear Me of 7 Years Ago — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes to her pre-baby self telling her about the whirlwind she's about to enter called parenting.
  • Talking to My 18 Year Old SelfHannahandHorn talks to herself as she is just entering college.
  • Dear highly sensitive soulMarija Smits tells a younger version of herself that motherhood will bring unexpected benefits - one of them being the realization that she is a highly sensitive person.
  • Talking to myself: Dear Pre StoneageparentStoneageparent enlightens her pre-pregnant self about the amazing transformations life has in store for her after having two children
  • Dear Me: I love you. — Dionna at Code Name: Mama wrote herself a few little reminders to help her be at peace with who she is in the moment. That may give her the greatest chance of being at peace in the future, too.
  • My best advice to the new mama I was 8 years ago — Tat at Mum in Search shares the one thing she wishes she'd figured out earlier in a letter to her 8-years-ago self (that's when her first baby was 6 moths old).
  • A Letter to Myself — Bibi at The Conscious Doer sends a letter back in time eight years to her darkest moment post partum.
  • To me, with love — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama makes peace with her past and projects what a future her will need to hear.
  • To Myself on the Last Day — Rachael at The Variegated Life tells her panicked last-day-before-motherhood self not to worry.


cooking and baking - the art of making something great from simple things

There was a day a few weeks ago that was hard. Really really hard. I had to watch two friends go through some of the hardest experiences a parent can go through. It was especially hard since I felt impotent to help in any way. I couldn't take their pain, nor could make their situations right.

I found myself in the kitchen a lot that day. I find cooking and baking to be a soothing process. You get to take simple - often boring - ingredients and combine them to make something spectacular. It didn't make everything better, but it did help me feel productive at least.

I started with a salad that Trav and I adore. Its a Spinach, Roasted Potato, and Parmesan Salad with a quick Lemony Dressing (recipe from Redbook, though I can't find it there anymore).

To start you have to roast the potatoes. Now if anything shows how something rather ordinary can be turned into extraordinary with the addition of some heat, it is potatoes. This is going to sound a little crazy, but damn did it feel apropos to roast those potatoes, knowing what they'd become afterwards. If I could I would take away this experience from my friend, but watching her strength emerge... man, well she is just extraordinary!  [I know, metaphors abound here lately. But the side of me that derives comfort from nature and its symbols had been in overdrive this spring.]


Heat oven to 450ºF. 
  1. On a large baking sheet, toss 2 lbs sliced potatoes with 2 1/2 tsp olive oil, 3/4 tsp rosemary, and 3/4 tsp kosher salt until potatoes are evenly coated. 
  2. Roast 40 minutes, tossing once, until potatoes are golden and tender. Cool on baking sheet.
  3. In a large salad bowl, whisk 1/2 c mayonnaise, 1 tsp lemon zest (I do a little more) and 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 1/2 Tbsp water, and 1 clove crushed garlic until blended. 
  4. Add cooled potatoes, 6 cups spinach, and 1/2 c shaved Parmesan; toss until dressed.
    Season with freshly ground pepper to taste.
Picture Source

This salad really is divine. Lemony and flavorful, light but still so filling. I never feel deprived after eating it, and I never feel guilty either.

Almost gone...
(hello Dave)

The next thing I made was Irish Soda Bread... but I want to tweak that recipe, so we'll save it for another day.


The 5 Best Things about Surrogacy

New post up on Natural Parent's Network!
This past January I was lucky enough to give birth to a beautiful baby boy as a surrogate. The whole experience was amazing and I’ve written about it in depth on my blog. There are certain awesome things about a surrogacy, however, that just don’t fit within those more thoughtful posts.

And so I present the 5 Best Things About a Surrogate Pregnancy:

Read the rest here... 


Me... by Gwen

Oldie, but a goodie...
I found this adorable Q&A over on Sometimes Sweet, and couldn't resist giving it a shot myself. So here's me from Gwen's point of view, at 5 and a half.

1. What is something Mommy always says to you?

I love you.

2. What makes Mommy happy?

[Me] being nice to you.

3. What makes her sad?

When I'm not nice to you.

4. How does Mommy make you laugh?

Tickling me!  [Pause for tickling, of course...]

5. What was your Mom like as a child?

A nice girl!

6. How old is your Mommy?

37  [close, I'm 32]

7. How tall is your Mom?

28  [we haven't quite mastered measurements yet]

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

Eat water ice with me and Daddy.

9. What does your Mommy do when you're not around?

Play with Daisy.

10. If your Mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

Snuggling Gwenie.  :-)

11. What is your Mom really good at?

Snuggling with me and tickling me.

12. What is she not very good at?

Playing tennis.  [LOL, she's not wrong.]

13. What does your Mom do for her job?

Work... [but what do I do for work?] You do math?

14. What is Mommy's favorite food?

The green and white stuff. Let me draw you a picture. [Honeydew melon.]

15. What makes you proud of your Mom?

That you play with me!

16. What is Mommy's favorite thing about Daddy?

He does chores for you.

17. What do you and your Mom do together?

Play legos, batman house, and cards.

18. How are you and your Mom the same?

We have the same skin. [We really do, I'd never noticed!]

19. How are you different?

Sometimes we don't want to play the same things.

20. How do you know that Mommy loves you?

Because you tell me so much!!

Love my sweet girl.