This past Tuesday I turned 35. I actually kept accidentally almost saying 36 before correcting myself, as I've been thinking of myself as older for a few months! 35 feels good though, it feels comfortable.

I'm not going to lie, I absolutely love birthdays. Its fun to celebrate and be celebrated! This one was a great one too.

The whole breakfast didn't make the picture.... but I got to eat it in bed!

In the morning, I was able to join SaraMarie for one last monthly coffee date before she heads East to Connecticut (wahhhh)!

It was the perfect little chatfest, and happy little present exchange for my birthday and her very fond farewell.

She gifted me with one of her lovely paintings... a beautiful, little chai tea latte, to remind me of our monthly dates!

I made her some chocolate lavender loaf...

There was a lunch date with my husband for sushi, a deposit left here (details to follow...), and phone calls and texts from friends.

Plus, that night, I got what a good Philly girl needs for dinner:

I so appreciated all the birthday love, and I cannot wait to see what year 35 brings!

Bonus pictures... the killer lamp my parents had done by a artist friend for me! How amazing is this?!


Summer Round-Up

Back at the end of the last school year I talked about my excitement, and yes, nervousness for the summer ahead. As it turns out the summer was both better and harder then I could have imagined.

I've already written about our travels, so I won't recap all that, and we had some of our bigger events that I wrote about (concerts and Celtic Festival for example); but we also had smaller, but no less significant activities.

Over the past 2.5 months, I fell in love with matcha lattes... and learned to make amazing ones in my blender. Gwen learned a love of cooking. We discovered an amazing new park. We had playdates with a few of Gwen's friends from school. We made new friends when we got new downstairs neighbors, who we've hit it off with amazingly! She spent more time then ever before at Trav's office, amusing his coworkers and giving me the chance to go teach. We went to swim lessons and dollar movie days. I had the labor and birth of another doula client. We spent Sunday's at the Farmer's Market and nearby playground.

We spent more hours then I can count together, during the week, and as Trav worked events on some evenings. We also fought and got bored, we grew tired of each other and couldn't wait to be reunited.

I made some decisions on how things will be different next summer! 

I'm excited for the school year ahead. While summer was so full and fun and amazing, it was also disorienting. We were in so many states, and time zones, the days were such a blur of random activities that I often found it hard to even know what day of the week it was! It was hard to keep up with my routine of preparing and teaching my yoga classes, since it was hard to remember when the next one was! I'm ready for a little more schedule, and I think Gwen is too.


Northern Trip Home

After our great time in Cape Cod, it was time to head back West. We took a Northernly route again, leaving straight from the Cape this time and hitting up a few new states... and a new country!

First we just headed out to Boston where we spent some time walking around the Boston Public Market before grabbing an early dinner, then taking Trav to the airport. Gwen and I didn't have far to go after that... just over to visit with the quadruplets a bit West of Boston. 

Its insane to me that they are starting to look at life after high school, preparing for colleges and jobs! (It makes me feel a little old!)

We had a great visit with then, but after a relaxed Monday morning, headed out for our next stop... and Gwen's first trip out of the country! 

We headed into Ontario, got set up in our campsite where we ate some dinner, then took the shuttle over to see this:

Niagara Falls is absolutely stunning!

We walked around for a while, checking out the falls view with the sun setting, and enjoying the truly multinational experience as dozens of languages were spoken around us.

That above is why we went over in the evening... they illuminate the falls at night and it is spectacular!

We took the last shuttle back to our campsite, then tucked in and slept hard until morning. A quick jaunt for donuts, then it was back to the campsite to repack the car and check out. We took the shuttle back to the falls one more time.

We had lucked out with campsite neighbors yet again. Then people next to us were from Germany and they had a daughter Gwen's age. They played at the campground play area together while I broke down camp, and the mom gave me some bus passes that still had time on them, plus were loaded with tickets for the White Water Walk that they hadn't gotten to use!

So that's what we did with our morning in Niagara.

While we waited for the shuttle back to our car, there was one more thing I had to check off my list:

It was delicious! And since we were in Canada, where you can actually get them, I grabbed one of my favorite treats:

We headed back into the states then, and made the quick trip to my Uncle's place in Northern Ohio, outside of Cleveland. A nice dinner at their house, then we headed to a local park so my Aunt Chris could show Gwen some of the great wildlife, and Gwen could burn off some energy!

We stayed out a bit late, enjoying the park, then enjoying some ice cream... so we all headed to bed not long after we got home.

My Uncle and Aunt had to head out early for work, so we planned to leave early as well... but all the late nights and thrown off sleep caught up with Gwen and she slept until I woke her up at 9 a.m.! That's what vacation is for though, and it was an easy enough drive that day to get to our next destination.

Around 4 p.m. on Wednesday we pulled up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to stay with my friend Jean, her wife, Lori, and their three awesome kids.

Gwen was able to run around like a nut, and play with all the new to her toys; and I got to put her to sleep on time in a bed, then hang out with other adults! Jean headed out with the kids early the next day for their own camping trip, so Gwen and I got up and out the door pretty early as well.

We asked for suggestions, and that's how we ended up at Bookworm Gardens in Sheboygan.

It was such a fun, beautiful place! Full of interactive sections based off of different books!

It was a bit overcast, with occasional sprinkles (and it actually opened up a bit into real rain right after we left), but it was a great place to kill an hour or two.

After that we headed the rest of the way up to Green Bay because... well, why not? I ate cheese curds, so Wisconsin was very much a success.

After that it was time to cut across the state and head into Minneapolis, Minnesota! We met a girlfriend and her daughter for dinner, and while we waited for our table we checked out the best little kids bookstore.

If you are near Minneapolis, go to Wild Rumpus! Go in the kids door, pet all the animals, and read lots of books!

We ate a nice dinner, then it was time for Gwen and I to head about 20 minutes outside the city to Baker Park Campground (in Maple Plain). It was a great little campground in a Park (with a lake, of course - land of 10,000 lakes!).

We got settled in and into bed pretty quickly that night, and were up and ready for the day on Friday. We fueled up with some pancakes, sausage, and hot chocolate (I think I totally stepped up my camping food on this trip).

We checked out the park a little, looking into the green space behind us, and then venturing over to the playground and the lake beach.

It really was a great place! After that we decided to check out something I've heard of many times before... the Mall of America!

I cannot even begin to describe how big and crazy this place is, but the fact that it has an amusement park and an aquarium INSIDE the mall might give you an idea.

We spent the whole day there, even going to the aquarium twice (do yourself a favor and get the combo pass that gets you onto the Fly Over as well... it might have been our favorite part!).

We returned to our campsite in time to cook up some grilled cheeses for dinner. We snuck in a quick shower (yay for another campground with free, warm showers!), then headed back to our site to read for a bit.

As we were about to head to the bathroom to get ready for the night, our site neighbors invited us for a game of Kubb, and before we knew it midnight had come! It was another group of amazing campground neighbors, and we exchanged information so that hopefully we can camp together again somewhere!

The next day, Saturday, we got a slightly sleepier start to our day because of our late night. But we ate a quick breakfast then hopped in the car and headed for Nebraska. We originally were going to stay in a little state park outside of Omaha, but here was my first "oops" of the trip: half of our campsites were booked out beforehand, and about half weren't (mostly because they couldn't be). It had worked out fine every other night, but I had forgotten it was a Saturday... and we got that late start, so when we got to the campground we were supposed to stay at it was completely full! Same thing for the next site we stopped at.

So, we plotted our route home, and started driving figuring we'd either see signs for more campgrounds to check, or if it started to get late we'd just stop at a hotel for the night. We ended up doing the latter and it worked out just fine. Since we stayed in a hotel, there was no campsite cleanup, so we were up and on the final leg of our journey home nice and early. My 3p.m. we were walking in the door to the most exuberant greeting from Daisy!

Another week, 2 new states and a new country, and 2,550 miles added to our journey! In total we spent about 4 weeks and over 5,300 miles on the road! Its almost surreal being home.

Now its time to unpack, settle in, and prepare for the new school year!


Semi-Wordless Wednesday {Flashback to Wedding!}

A Flashback to the gorgeous wedding of my girl, Cassie, back in May. 

What an amazing day... I love looking back on it!


Stubborn Gladness

Back at the end of June was the hardest point of the summer for Gwen and I. It was a combination of many things, but my feelings of inadequacy as a parent were spilling over into the other aspects of my life leaving me feeling broken and fatalistic about everything.

It took a breakdown in front of her to let us both see how very human I am, to show her that I needed her help, and to remind me that I needed to take care of myself to be able to take care of her.

(I did start taking care of myself better at that point...)

Depression has been a lifelong companion. Even in the most blessed points of my life, one of which I am certainly in now, depression allows you to know that things are good while still feeling only bad. You can know intellectually that you should be thrilled with life, but emotionally it only feels wrong and bleak and like the end of the world. It travels to the physical body and you feel sore and tired and off.

I'm thankful that unlike others in my family who also live with depression or bipolar disorder, mine is very mild and thankfully normally comes in only short periods.

I've had a bit of trouble writing this post. Its hard being so very open, especially when so many people I know in real life will read this (Hi Dad! Don't call, I'm fine... really and seriously!). But also because I'm about to say something that some people will find really off putting and I need to make a disclaimer first: Depression is not a choice. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain, and its the most frustrating thing in the entire world to hear someone say to a person suffering, to just "shake it off," or to "just get over it," because that is literally NOT how it works.

That said, I'm making the choice, as much as I can, to cling to a stubborn gladness in life. I know that, like it always has, this too shall pass and in the meantime and I can chose to cling to the good. Like the lotus, I can use the shitty parts to grow stronger, wiser, fuller, and more beauty then ever before. And I can embrace the things that I know help me personally to ease my way through the hardest parts, and make my way again into the bright sun.

Note: I wrote this post back at the end of June, beginning of July. Things have certainly changed since then.