beautiful weekend and a mental health day

There was so much good contained in my three day weekend, its hard to know where to start.

Saturday was a fun day with my family. We went over to Linvilla Orchards (one of our favorites!), saw a neat bee display, ate an apple cider donut, and picked out a lilac bush for me as an early mother's day present.

That night four of my college girlfriend's and I went out for a girls night in Philly. It was amazing to hang out with them! Sushi, martinis (well, just one for me... then water, since I was driving home), lots of catching up. Loved every second of it.

Sunday I had to work... but it was a fun, easy event, that went perfectly. And the day...

Today I had taken a mental health day. I had things I wanted to do, but I also put no pressure on myself to get it all done. I was able to be productive, but in a very relaxed way!

It definitely set the tone when my first order of business was lounging in bed for a half an hour playing games on my phone.  ;-)

After that I headed outside. Travis had removed an old bush that had died, so I filled that hole and dug a new one about two feet over (so it wouldn't be directly in front of the dryer vent), where I planted my lilac.

I also seeded the dug area, then planted a little tiny Japanese Maple that Trav won at his work's Earth Day event.

While I was at it, I re-potted my basil plant as well.

After that I ran to the Home Depot and picked up one of Trav's birthday presents (yes, its a garbage can... but he asked for it!).

The biggest thing I wanted to get done was completely sorting through Gwen's closet. I took out the heavy winter clothes, and the clothes that were getting too small for her, and sorted in all her 24 month/2T clothes.

I also cleaned the kitchen counters, did dishes, cleaned the toilet and the shower. Then marinated chicken for dinner (recipe tomorrow!). I made sure to take some breaks for reading too. 

All-in-all, an amazing and rejuvenating three days!


This made me tear up...

I couldn't not share.

(Yeah, its a commercial, but its a good one!)

Happy Weekend all.


mid-week smiles

We got outside last night after dinner (homemade udon soup, which was a hit all around -- Gwen had a big bowl-full, plus an orange). We headed out to run around and get some fresh air.

Still mastering eating soup on her own, but doing pretty good!

Beautiful spring day, and a big lift to my spirits.

Took a personal day on Monday and hoping to use it to do some physical and mental decluttering. I plan on getting some extra sleep, then going through my closet (hopefully pulling out at least one bagful to donate), sorting through Gwen's closet (packing up winter and too small items, organizing what's left, and washing the stuff she's growing into to be added), and then taking at least an hour to just laze around and read. We'll see what else I get around to doing.

In the meantime, I'm going to get a bunch of work done, then go home and love on this girl!


tasty tuesday (updated)

Working from home today which is always lovely. Lots of food plans for later, but for now, I'm just noshing on a Persimmon with a very interested dog looking on.

Fruit for me?

She loves fruits and veggies... but I'm not sharing!

Later I'm making THESE apricot-glazed pork chops (mmm), and pan roasting some chicken breasts to be shredded and combined with tofu and green onions for Udon noodle soup later this week. I'll add pork chop pictures later... but for now, persimmons and LOTS of work to do!

The pork chops turned out great! This recipe was so so easy and delish.

I don't love pork chops, but I'll happily make these again! 


what a difference a day makes!

Heading out Saturday to meet Ro, GG, and Casey for a picnic lunch and playground time at Ridley Creek:

Sunny, bright, high 70s! Beautiful.

Sunday, just finished the Walk MS 5-mile walk, also at Ridley Creek. Dreary, raining, and only in the low 50s!!

Wish it had been nice enough for Gwen to come with me, but still had fun!

We certainly need the rain, so I can't complain too much... but the timing of it left something to be desired! And I know I'm going to be ready for some good sun and spring weather after the dreary, cold week they are calling for.

A little dash of sunshine in my morning though:


Happy Monday all!


work in progress {Happy Earth Day!}

Welcome to the Earth Day Blog Carnival This post is part of the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction. Each participant has shared their practices and insights of earth friendly, environmentally conscious, eco-living. This carnival is our way to share positive information and inspiration that can create healing for our planet. Please read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Happy Earth Day!


[As this posts, I'm off at our local state park walking a 5-mile walk for MS. A pretty good way to celebrate Earth Day, I think!! I couldn't resist joining the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival though. Here's a little bit about where I stand on my green journey.]

Everyone has thing that they are passionate about, that they want to work hard on to make a difference (big or small). My things are LGBTQ rights, and the environment. In my life, I strive to be environmentally conscious. To think about how my actions are going to affect not just myself or my family, but also the effect they will have on the earth, now and for generations to come. But here's my not-so-secret secret: I have a LONG way to go. I can say with certainty that I am a HUGE work-in-progress.

But the other side to that coin? Sometimes its the small steps, the little changes, that add up to big benefits and lead you to a better lifestyle in the end. I've learned that I can't compare myself too harshly against others... but have to use them as inspirations instead, and know that if I keep taking the little steps, I might end up inspiring someone else too.

So on Earth Day, I'm going to give myself a progress report.

Here's some of what we do well:
we always turn off lights/electronics when we leave the room, we have a programmable thermostat (which lets the house be a few degrees cooler during the day when we're at work and at night when we're asleep under warm covers), plus we keep it relatively cool in the winter months (68* is our high when we're home). We turn off the water when we brush our teeth and "let the yellow, mellow." We compost and recycle, try to get things used when we can, and when we have stuff to get rid of, we try to find someone who needs it or donate it to the Purple Heart instead of throwing it away. I have a reusable cup I take to Starbucks with me, and a bowl and spoon at work to wash when I use instead of going with plastic. There's a brita in the fridge too, instead of using bottled. I take public transportation to go to work. Slowly, but surely "greening" our cleaning products and our personal hygiene products.

Some of our recent baby steps include:
- switching from paper napkins to cloth. And now that we've made the switch, I don't know why we didn't years ago! [Note: talking about small steps = big impact: "If every household in the United States replaced just one package of 250-count virgin-fiber napkins with 100 percent recycled ones, 1 million trees would be spared from the chopping block." -- The National Resources Defense Council ; so if I can inspire someone to take this baby step, and they can inspire someone, and they can... well that's adding up to a lot of trees!]
- started doing monthly service projects with Sierra Club to take care of a local state park.
- hooked up a rain barrel to collect rain water which we can use for anything that doesn't need drinking quality water
- practicing more of the first R - Reduce! I'm doing a spending slowdown this month, and I'm hoping to continue it through next month too. Its not a complete freeze - I'm allowing myself to spend on gas, groceries, and the occasional gift (baby shower this month, two birthdays and mother's day next month). But no clothes. No new books. No eating out lunches (am doing one dinner out with the girls, but that's been planned for months). If I really really want something... well, then I'll still want it in another month or two, and I can get it then. 

As for where we need work... well this is not going to be an exhaustive list at all! But here a few bigger ones off the top of my head:
- less processed foods! more local organics! less sugars! We are doing better then we used too, but we still end up with too much "junky" food.
- throwing away too much each week. A lot of that is diapers, which at this point, we just have to wait out. We are close enough to the end that switching to cloth at this point wouldn't be economical... but I really want to start looking at what else we're throwing away. I'd love to get our trash output down to a bag a week.
- Not so perfect yet, but something we're working on, is switching from paper towels to cloths... sometimes (like dusting) its easy to remember, sometimes (a spill that needs quick cleanup) I'm still automatically reaching for the paper towel roll. Well, everything takes practice.

So, I'm ready to be inspired. What green baby steps have you taken lately?
And I'm ready to be challenged. What baby step would you like to see me take?


Happy Earth Day all!!
Thank you for stopping by the 2012 Earth Day Blog Carnival! Please relax and take time to read these other great eco-living posts:

    Earth Day Blog Carnival - Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction
  • You are a Child of the Earth - Using the Earth as their classroom, Patti from Canadian Unschool teaches her 4 children their spiritual connection to the Earth and she accepts that loving the Earth can get really, really messy.
  • Cutting Out Paper - Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how she went from curiosity and concern to actually cutting out the use of paper towels in her household. She is proud to be "greener" as each Earth Day passes.
  • The World is Brown - Debra Ann Elliot of Words are Timeless believes in keeping the Earth green, but because so many people inhabit the Earth it is turning brown because people aren't doing their part by reducing, reusing, and recycling.
  • 7 Child And Eco Friendly Activities To Honor The Earth (Plus Some Environmental Books For Kids) - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares her favorite books that help children become more aware of the importance of respecting and caring for Mother Earth. In addition, she hosts a guest post outlining seven child and eco friendly activities to honor the earth.
  • 5 Ways We Teach Our Children To Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle - Valarie at Momma In Progress shares a few tips for encouraging young children to care for the earth.
  • Little Changes - Big Results - Meegs at A New Day talks about how sometimes it’s the little decisions and changes that can lead us to find big results, and how she's baby-stepping her way to a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.
  • Inspiring the Next Generation - aNonyMous at at Radical Ramblings hopes to inspire her daughter to live a green and sustainable lifestyle, in the same way she was inspired by her high-school science teacher, and talks about the changes her family are making towards this vision.
  • Eco-Friendly Cleansers: Safe For the Environment, Healthy For Every Body - Rebekah at Liberated Family writes about safe and natural alternatives to toxic, household cleaning products..
  • Lightening My Footprint with Cloth Nappies (Diapers) - Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares the biggest eco-choice she has made so far, and why she is so passionate about it.
  • Clutter Free for a Cause - At Living Peacefully with Children Mandy's penchant for decluttering and simple living cuts down on consumerism, taking less of a tole on the Earth.
  • Eco-Parenting: Homemade Bug Spray - Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares a homemade bug spray recipe that helps her family to enjoy the natural world while taking precautions against bug bites.
  • Let the Scales Fall From My Eyes...Just Not Too Quickly - Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about the discomfort of no longer being able to live in denial over how her choices affect the world around her.
  • Fostering Love of Earth - Justine at The Lone Home Ranger instills a love of nature in her daughters by embarking on their first backyard vegetable garden together.
  • Being in Nature - Carrie at Love Notes Mama knows that just being in nature is more than enough.
  • 5 Ways to Pass Down Environmental Values to Your Children - Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares how easy it can be to instill environmental values in your children.
  • Viva Portlandia - Amy at Anktangle writes about the place she lives and loves in: Portland. She describes the ways this green city makes it easy for her family to take care of our earth, and also the steps she's taking to further lessen her family's environmental impact.
  • Conspicuous Conservationism - Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction examines the phenomenon of eco-conscious behavior as a status symbol.
  • Time for Radical Sustainability - Terri at Child of the Nature Isle ponders how she can model a truly sustainable lifestyle for her children and raise them in a way their environmental consciousness is as natural as breathing!



3 (? 4ish?) events here at work this week, and another over the weekend. I worked very late Monday (though not as late as I thought I would have to, since a fire alarm cut our meeting short!), took a later train home on Tuesday, was in DC on Wednesday, arriving home just in time to put Gwen to bed. Last night was my first normal evening of the week, and I can't tell you how good it felt to just sit down and eat a relaxed dinner with my family!

Today we have an event of sorts here in the afternoon, though I will have nothing to do for it... and overall its a very relaxed day since my boss and coworker are out in IL for our weekend event. I still catching up from my day out of office, so the quiet is good.

Tomorrow should be quiet too. Was going to meet up with Ro for a picnic lunch with the girls... but it looks like its going to be a rainy day. So Trav, Gwen, and I are just going to hang out instead.

Sunday is the MS Walk at Ridley Creek, which I'm excited for... though again its supposed to be cold and rainy, which is not exactly the weather I was hoping for. I really want to bring Gwen, but I won't if its going to be too wet. We both already have colds. Cross your fingers that the rain holds off that day. We need rain, so I don't mind if it rains tomorrow (though I would love to see Ro!) or next week, but just not Sunday!

Sunday is also Earth Day! Check in since I put together a little post about my green journey, the new things I'm trying to do, and how (very very very...) far I still have to go. Its always a work in progress, huh, but every bit counts.

And with that, I'm off to start checking things off my sizable To Do list!


trying, terrible, terrific, toddler twos

No lie:

Two might just kill me.

Gwenivere Mae - the cheese to my bread, my sunshine and my smiley girl. Also a terror on two legs!! Lol, two legs which this weekend looked like this:

Maybe she wanted her own "pretty pictures"
(what she calls my tattoos).

Girl has so much she wants to say, so much she wants to do (on her own of course, "I DO IT!"), and heaven help the person who gets in her way. I haven't gotten to pick out her clothes in AGES, but now sometimes she gives me such a hard time about even the little tweaks to make her outfits weather-appropriate. Foods she loves she sometimes decides she hates. She'll have a complete breakdown if you tell her there are no more of [whatever snack is the magic snack that she decides she must have today]... or when you tell her that she can't have it 5 minutes before dinner. She wants to open/close every door, and put on her own diaper, and pee on the toilet but only if she feels like it and not if she doesn't and sometimes for 20 more minutes even though she did the actual peeing as soon as she sat down and...

The ages of 2 - 3 (and 12, 17, 20...) are "straddling" ages. My little girl is caught between the toddlerhood she is shedding, and the childhood that lays beyond. From what I've heard, the dawning of that childhood (4 - 5) is pretty magical and wonderful. But this coming of age part... well, i know its as hard for her as it is for me. She wants to be able to tell me everything, but sometimes she just can't find the words... or I can't understand them. She wants to be able to do everything, but she's not quite big enough to reach, or strong enough to carry, or...

And Mama has her good days and bad days too. Some days I can read her, feel the frustration building, and head it off at the pass. I can weather any anger and yelling with a calm determination, "I see you are angry, you take a minute and let me know when you are ready to try again. We can do it together." Other days she catches me off guard with every outburst and and I'm left wondering what happened. Some days its all I can do to grit through my teeth, "Enough. We Don't Hit." Some days I want to push the fast forward button up to 16x.

BUT she is also bright, and happy, and loving... grabbing your face to kiss both cheeks and your forehead. I don't want to fast forward that part, and I hope she doesn't grow out of it!

Probably just threw a handful of peas on the floor... ;-) 
or maybe she was just humoring me.



Its not yet "bedtime," but the house is quiet, dark, and everyone else is asleep. Its a few peaceful moments to myself that I need after a long, frustrating day. You know when you hit that particular annoyance point-of-no-return? Where-after everything annoys you way more then it would otherwise? I hit that around 2ish. I hate that. And I hate when I know, rationally... logically, that I'm not really displaying an appropriate level of emotion vs. the action that caused it, but I can't stop the way I feel.

I was thinking of Gram today. She was the last of my grandparent's to pass, and I think that made it even harder. That generation of my family is gone now. My other grandparents feel even further away, almost like I'm grieving the loss of them all over again with her death. I know Gwen won't remember her, and that sucks. Oh, I'll show her pictures and talk about Gram and she'll know who she is... but she won't retain her own memories of her. And right now I'm even afraid to talk about her with Gwen because I don't know what I would say if she asks when we're going to see Gram again.

I feel like I'm taking everyone on a bipolar rollercoaster lately. I'm happy, I'm sad, I'm rejuvenated, this is hard. But that's what my head is doing and I am generally pretty upbeat in person, so this is where I get it out. Apologies.



wordless wednesday {beautiful neglect}

Old, abandoned, tagged building in Philly. 
Pretty cool looking in person.


tasty tuesdy - stuffed chicken (updated)

Made on Friday: Ham and cheese stuffed chicken breast, served with brown rice and mixed veggies.

Slit open the chicken breast at the thickest part. Fold together slices of ham and cheese (I used sharp cheddar and mozzarella), and a few basil leaves. Stuff inside chicken breast. Close using a toothpick that you've soaked in water. Rub the outside of the breast with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Bake at 375* for about 20 - 25 minutes, top with a slice of cheese (cheddar), and pop back in the oven for about 5 more minutes (until cheese is melted and chicken is cooked through).


Tonight I'm going to roast some brussels sprouts and asparagus. I'm also going to cook up some chicken, and maybe some quinoa if I have time. But that's all for easy meals on other days.

For tonight we're having homemade pizza on naan crust! Mmmm.

(It was awesome!)


found my calling... digging irrigation trenches!

The rest of the weekend continued to be as great as Friday. Lots of time outdoors, lots of time playing together. Pictures:

At my parent's Sunday:

Nonnie hid eggs!

She had the best time. So did I!

Not pictured... digging irrigation trenches on Saturday at Ridley Creek State Park. This girl got to use a pick axe! I was a bit sore, sweaty, and dusty afterwards; but I was also already looking forward to next month!! I loved it, did good at it, and am going to enjoy every second of it and hope that someday I can find a way to do it as a paying gig!

Hope your holiday weekend was wonderful too!


Good Friday, indeed

I had off today since Gwen's daycare was closed. I was worried about crappy weather, and being stuck in the house and going stir crazy! But while it was a little cold, it was otherwise beautiful. Not a cloud in the sky! Gwen and I had a great day.

We didn't really sleep in (unfortunately), but we lounged in bed for a while then got up and showered. After breakfast we headed to the park. 

Where we did this:

And this:

For 2 hours, stopping only for a snack, and to watch a big truck hose out some pipes.
After that we headed home for lunch and nap.

I was productive during nap, which is always nice... a load of laundry, did the dishes, and swept and washed the kitchen floors.

After nap we headed outside again to eat snack.

After snack we popped over to the neighbor's house to play in the sandbox.

Joe even joined us for a little while, which made Gwenie VERY happy!

After that it was time to cook dinner. Ham, basil, and cheese stuffed chicken breast; and wild rice with mixed veggies. So good! (Pictures/recipe next week.)

It was an amazing day, and just what I needed. Lots of fun, positive time with my girl, and lots of time outside. Best of all... we still have the whole weekend ahead!

Have a great one! Happy Easter all!


time of year

Its that time of year when the sun changes from cool sideways light to soft light from above. When everything gets lush and green and colorful. Its that time of year when everything smells like cut grass, flowers, and that amazing ion smell that comes before a storm.

After winter, with its cold bleakness, this time of year is like freshly washed sheets, its like waking up without an alarm, or like a hug from someone you love. Its comfortable and comforting and uplifting.

I've been in a funk for weeks now. Losing Gram could either push me further into a funk, or be the butt kick I need to change my perspective. I'm going the way I know she would have gone, the way I know she would want me to go, and inviting gratitude into my life.

  • I may not love my job... but I absolutely adore my coworkers! I work with the best people. They honestly care about me, they are fun and smart and generous.
  • I may not love my job, but I have one! With good benefits, flexibility, some travel, and one where my hard work is recognized.
  • I may not be doing (job-wise) the environment/conservation-focused stuff that I want to be doing, but starting this weekend I've found a GREAT outlet for that by doing monthly service projects at a local state park.
  • I may not love our house, but it is a roof over our head. It is warmth. It keeps us safe. It is where we returned to after our wedding, and where we brought our daughter home.
  • I may not love our house, but it is ours.
  • Trav and I might have our disagreements... we are different in so many ways! But I am lucky to have a partner that loves me so much. One who spoils me by letting me sleep in and doing 90% of the dishes. One who tells me he loves me every day.
  • Two years old might just be the age that kills me, but Gwen is absolutely the light of my life. Her hugs sooth my soul, and her laugh makes me laugh. She is trying, but she is amazing.
  • Daisy is loving, and good, and beautiful.
  • My family is amazing, supportive, fun.
  • Our friends are the best kind.
  • We aren't rich, but we are comfortable; we have a safety net. We have enough to be able to give back to those we love and those we don't know.

I am blessed. I'm not back to 100%, but I'm trying, I'm getting there.



Gram passed late Monday afternoon, peacefully in her sleep, with her sons there.

June '11

So much to say, but nothing more to say all at the same time. I miss her already. I'm so glad she's at peace.


on dealing with loss

This weekend was beautiful and so hard. I already look back on it with gratitude, but I wish it never had to happen.

My Gram is at the end of her time here on Earth, and she is so ready to move on. Her body is tired (though thankfully, not in pain), and she misses my Pop. She's ready to go to heaven, be with God, and see the love of her life. Saturday we all gathered together to see her and tell her how much we love her. My parents, two uncles and aunts, and some of my cousins were there. Ethan came from DC. She was awake and was able to tell us how she loves us. We reassured her that we knew, and were able to tell her the same back.

Leaving was the hardest thing I ever did. Driving away I knew that most likely I would never see her (alive) again. Gwen gave her hugs and kisses. I kissed her cheeks. She always had the softest skin, she still does. I didn't get the same chance with any of my other grandparent's, to tell them goodbye, to express my love one last time. As hard as this is, I'm am so glad for that opportunity. There is nothing more that needs to be said.

Now it is her and her sons. Apparently she was awake very little yesterday, and I'm expecting the call anytime. I'm praying for her to go. She's ready and doesn't want to linger. And this watching and waiting... well, I can only imagine how hard it is for my dad and his brothers.

I was saving this quote for a long time. I didn't know when I would end up sharing it, but I knew I wanted too, because its lovely. It's fitting here too, since my Gram collected elephants.
I love elephants. I remember seeing an IMAX movie when I was younger about these amazing animals, and the thing that struck me, even then, was their ability for compassion and empathy. When a member of their community is ill, they patiently wait for them to heal. When one is falling behind, they all slow down so their lagging member can catch up. And when a mother elephant loses her baby, they stand in a circle around her and allow her all the time she needs to grieve and mourn. They don't hurry her along, or push her to abandon the body. They stand in a circle and gently touch her with their trunks, a silent show of unwavering support.

Elephant mothers will stand with their babies for weeks, not eating or drinking, just holding them close and letting the reality that they are gone slowly settle in. And they are allowed that time by their family members.

(from Only Time Will Tell)

Its so hard, but I only hope that when it is my turn, I can be surrounded by as much love.