How We Spend Our Days

February 7, 2018

I couldn’t remember what the saying was, so for the last 24 hours or so I’ve been repeating in my head “How we spend our days is….how we spend our days?” I knew it wasn’t quite right, but for whatever reason, it was a little bit calming. Then I googled it and learned that it’s actually “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard, from The Writing Life, which is ironic because when I’m not in the midst of the mom-ing life, I’m racing to the writing life. Also, very, very true. How we spend our days is what adds up to how we spend our lives.

Let me tell you why I have been ruminating over this quote for the last few days.

We had a grouchy, grumpy, overtired few days last weekend and I knew half of it was my own overdone-ness. The other half was a grumpy toddler who dissolves into a whiny puddle if she doesn’t get enough sleep and a fussy baby who must have just gotten the memo about fussy being an option. He went from the chillest baby on the block for his first 5 months to not wanting to be put down. Ever. They’re both recovering from whatever the heck that was (maybe that blue blood eclipse moon?) and resuming their normal sweet selves, but the combination of the three of us grumps (plus one Michael who does. not. do. mornings)  didn’t produce the most relaxing or even pleasant weekend. I suppose we all have those days, when you can’t get out of your own grumpy cloud, but I was determined to start the week on a better foot. And apparently that started by reminding myself that how we spend our days is how we spend our life. Ahem, grumpy mom, these are the days, the most precious, perfect, whiny, exhausting days. No matter how early they get up (and it’s creeping earlier by the day), you’ve got to try to remember not to waste these days reminding them how early they dragged you out of bed.

I also reminded myself that the day starts anew every morning, with a clean slate for the whole family. And if I’d only get myself into bed earlier I could really capitalize on that! We have better days when we get out and spend the afternoon at the park around the corner. Maya can swing for hours and Noah is warming up to it. He’s mostly content to just sit in my arms and watch his sister play.

She doesn’t always wear a dress to the playground, and Noah doesn’t always look so stern or blinded by the sunlight. Sometimes it’s not worth changing Maya out of whatever we started the day in just to go to the park, and sometimes Noah is totally overtired and won’t crack a smile. You win some, you win some. Very, very good hair day: documented. This girl finally realized, after 2 years and 4 months, that she could cheese for the camera. I’m so grateful she only realized it now, and now I think it’s absolutely hilarious to see that cheesy grin.

I’m finally getting used to my replacement camera and trying to bring it with me when I can. It helps when the playground is deserted so you don’t look like a weirdo taking pics of all the other playground kids, even though I only ever care to capture my own!

Here’s to appreciating the days ahead, no matter what time the tiny humans wake us up.

Happy Weekend

February 3, 2018

My mom got this great new rug, so when we were there over Christmas I took a few photos of Noah laying on it and then attempted to get Maya to stop for a split second in his relative vicinity. You can see how well that worked. Ha! You can also see what zero humidity, tons of wood stove heat and my total refusal to let her head be wet and cold for the sake of her locks does to her head. Ball o’ frizz.

This weekend, we’re dividing and conquering while I get ahead (or catch up, I’m not quite sure which I’m doing at this point!) on some work. Tonight, though, we’re going to take a break from work and have tacos at the park (if the weather cooperates) and start planning Noah’s adoption celebration. His adoption finalization is on Valentine’s Day, and both sets of grandparents and his uncle are flying in for the occasion. We’ve got a party to plan! We’re also hoping to meet friends at a new neighborhood bagel spot tomorrow morning, and then feed Noah his first real non-formula food!

And now, a few things to share with you.

I’ve begun posting a few pieces of writing on an Irish mom website, including a few old faves – Maya’s birth story, meeting Maya’s birth mom, and Noah’s birth story. I still cry every time.

One of my dear friends had a baby last week (we’ve been praying for these W babies for over a year, and now they are both finally here!) and I picked up Noah’s favorite made-in-Maine chewy Q for him.

I saw this fab video about composting in Portland, Maine, this week. We miss having the ability to compost so easily as we did when we lived in Dublin. But the Maine version allows you to request compost to use in your garden and directly benefits organic farmers. Much improved and entrepreneurial!

Halsey’s women’s march poem is worth at least one listen, probably two.

A really important reminder that what our kids might need most from us is to teach them how to be okay with not being okay. Or maybe a lesson we can all keep working on as well.

The Lost Kitchen restaurant is bringing notoriety to little old forgotten Freedom, Maine.

 

An Unexpected Milestone / Maya’s First Ice Skate

January 30, 2018

Maya’s over two now, so we’ve gone through quite a few firsts already. First solid food, first crawl, first steps. Now that she’s older, we’re more amazed by the words and sentences she comes out with (and repeats, for better or worse) and some of the firsts she’s still experiencing are more unexpected. Case in point, Maya had her first time on ice skates this weekend (at a friend’s sweet baby’s birthday party, which we knew we were going to but didn’t realize it was at a skating rink!) and Michael and I were both surprised at what a monumental moment it felt like to us. When Maya and I came off the ice, Michael said to me, “Wow, that was really special, wasn’t it?” And that’s exactly what I was thinking. What a special moment to get to share with my daughter for the first time. And what an amazing thing that we still have so many special moments like that in the months and years to come.

It didn’t hurt that she absolutely loved it and was pretty fearless taking her tiny steps across the ice. Although she did prefer when I would carry/push her across the ice while I skated. No surprise there!

I grew up in Maine, so ice skating was one of the winter sports my family enjoyed when we could get on the ice together. My parents taught me how to skate using M&M’s as a bribe for making the few steps forward on wobbly skates. I definitely have them to blame for the fact that I could eat about a million M&M’s in a sitting now. When I was older, my parents would drop me to the ice rink in the next town over for Sunday afternoon free skate. And when the conditions made it possible, we all used to love skating on the lake down the road.

Maybe next year Maya’s feet will be big enough to use actual ice skates! 

 

Planning Home: A Cozy Bedroom

January 23, 2018

Emily Henderson

Since Noah was born, we’ve had him sleeping in our room at night so he doesn’t wake up Maya when he starts to grump for food around 3am. I think we’re nearing the point when he can reliably sleep through the night and get moved into Maya’s room, but can I tell you how excited I am to have our own space again? Oh, and also? A king size bed. Our own space with a king size bed. That is my dream.

In preparation for moving into our next space later this year, I’ve started saving images that fit the dream — I want it to be light and airy with a big, comfy bed. While my temptation is to paint the whole place white, I like the idea of some color on the walls, especially paired with wainscoting. Apparently it’s easy to install. We’ll see!

I’m starting to pull together photos with the right vibe for our soon-to-be bedroom. Mostly simple and peaceful, with white walls and muted jewel-toned bedding or cushions. It doesn’t need to be fussy or even involve many components, but I want those components to be really comfortable and layered and cosy.

Architectural Digest

 Source

Source

My Domaine

We don’t have a ton of space, and no closets, so we’ll need dressers or wardrobes, and bedside tables and a rug and lamps, but that’s too many decisions to make all at once now. So instead, I’m focusing on the fluffier decisions. the bedding.

While furnishing an entire house at once isn’t exactly going to be inexpensive, I’ve learned that we just can’t skimp on bedding. Our kids are relatively great sleepers, so I can’t really claim any hardship on the time spent in our beds (at least now that Noah doesn’t wake every two hours for a bottle), but we’re fairly worn out by the time our heads hit the pillow that I really want it to be as comfortable as possible.

Whenever I stay at my sister’s house, her bedding always feels like a hotel. Why can’t our bed feel like that every night?

I had a peek at the Brown Thomas website, arguably Dublin’s fanciest department store,
browsing their home décor and homeware living range to put together a wish list for our future,
hotel-like bedroom.

Linen bedsheets are oh-so-popular at the moment, so this deep grey linen Piubelle duvet cover would be perfect. If it’s got hotel in the name, that’s probably a good start for sheets, right? These Frette hotel collection sheets will definitely make the cut. I love a good Irish wool blanket, and this seafoam and grey stripe throw by John Hanly will pair nicely with the duvet but break up the grey. While we’re at it, cosy new robes would really top off the hotel vibe, wouldn’t they?

This post was written in partnership with Brown Thomas. Thanks for supporting the posts that make this blog possible! 

Family Photos in California

January 22, 2018

When we were in California at Thanksgiving, we met up with my friend Ashley, whom I’ve known for several years when she was living in Berlin. She lives a little north of LA, so we met up in Santa Barbara when we were staying there for a few days. She casually mentioned that she’d bring her camera, and I couldn’t have replied with a faster YES! She is the most talented wedding photographer and literally travels the world every year shooting weddings.

We spent a few hours catching up at the loveliest outdoor restaurant in Carpinteria that Ashley suggested. It was about 12 steps from the beach and had a giant sand pit with a ton of sand toys surrounded by picnic tables, so we got to chat and eat while Maya played in the sand. It was luxurious. Ha!

So after we chatted for ages and Maya dug in the sand, we spent ten minutes on the beach (in the most incredible light) and this is what she came up with. Honestly, I’m not sure if it was even ten minutes. I think it was more like four minutes. When Maya sees a beach, she goes bananas and also, she’s two, so she won’t be contained or smile for a photo on command ever. Oh, and did I mention Ashley shot all of this on film? Gahhh. She’s a photo magician.

All that to say, we’re so thrilled to have another dose of photos of our family of four. I love looking at them, and even Michael got a little emotional when he saw them. We are so grateful to Ashley for capturing our little family in four minutes flat! When I said to Michael that I don’t remember Noah looking like this, he said, “Oh yeah, he was a bit of a blob for a while.” Ha! But a very cute blob at that! Maya’s beach face is priceless. This girl loves running wild and free!

Lately

January 20, 2018

Singing: Baby Beluga on repeat before every nap and bedtime. It never leaves my head anymore! Also, listening to Michael trying to sing it to Maya before bed is hilarious. He didn’t grow up with Raffi, apparently!

Researching: toddler activities. We pulled Maya from her daycare this week because of the rampant flu that’s going around seemingly everywhere. I’m taking any and all recommendations for things that will keep toddlers busy! (Very thankful for this recommendation today)

Laughing: really hard with my mom’s group this morning. Those ladies are good for my soul.

Plotting: a potential new project with a close friend that involves putting our love of words to work for us.

Planning: for our trip to Denver next weekend! More skiing, I hope it’s not too cold!

Counting the days: until Noah’s adoption day! Valentine’s Day will never be the same!

Also counting the days: until all of his grandparents and an uncle will arrive for the occasion!

Missing: my grandma. Stumbled across some photos of her this week and haven’t stopped thinking about her.

Working: at my favorite neighborhood guilty pleasure coffee/dessert shop tonight. I definitely ate an entire giant piece of funfetti cake myself.

Mulling: consent. This discussion by DesignMom about the Aziz Ansari story this week was helpful.

In the midst of: potty training. I’d say we’re 78% there. Zero accidents outside of the house, but still a few standing 10 feet from the bathroom at home.

Cooking: not all that much now that I’ve shifted my writing hours to the evenings so I can have Maya at home during the daytimes. But I did just whip up this easy chili and it was indeed easy and remarkably fast, despite having subbed turkey mince and adding cumin, kidney beans, tomato paste and garlic.

Reading: again, finally! The Kite Runner, by the light of the flashlight on my phone while Noah sleeps a few feet away.

Sleeping: again, finally! Noah’s nearly figured out sleeping through the night. Hallelujah!

Waiting: for tomorrow’s warmer temperatures so we can get outside again.

Discovering: that adding sprinkles to plain yogurt makes for a pretty peaceful twenty minutes with a toddler.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Houston Adventure: Feeding The Mounted Police Horses

January 18, 2018

A while back, maybe right before Noah had to go to the hospital with that terrible fever at seven weeks old, I found that you can feed the mounted police horses in Houston every day of the week. But then we landed in the hospital and everything went a little crazy and I forgot all about it. Well, I found the link last week and we went last weekend. And we loved it!

Maya talked about it for a full 24 hours before we went, and she hasn’t stopped talking about it since. However, she was totally terrified the entire time we were there and wouldn’t let Michael put her down. To be fair, the mounted police horses are HUGE, which I’m sure seems even more huge to a teeny tiny two-year-old, but that’s also very much her MO.

During the week, you can just show up between 12-2pm (prime nap time in our house, unfortunately), but on the weekends you can make an appointment between 9am and 5pm. You get a 30 minute slot and you can feed each horse two carrots or apples. We didn’t realize how many horses there were! We should have brought at least two bags of carrots, especially since we didn’t have to share the horses with anyone else. When we got there, all the horses were outside, but as soon as they got a whiff of our carrots, they all came inside and stuck their noses into the hallway. A few of them even started banging their legs on the gates because they really wanted treats!  The place was deserted except for us, possibly because it was a cold day for Houston. But that made it even more fun — and way easier to take photos!  Noah’s face in this photo cracks me up! He was wide-eyed through the whole thing.  This horse really thought Noah might be holding the rest of the snacks!  Maya saved a carrot for herself!  And the minute she was ten feet away, she was all smiles and jabbered about the horses and carrots and banging all the way home.

We got such a kick out of it, we might just go back next weekend with more carrots!

Planning Home: A Living Space

January 17, 2018

 Old Brand New

One of the big changes this year holds for us is that we’re planning a move. I can’t share details yet, but I’ve started daydreaming and planning a little in my head for our next space.

For the past 2-and-a-half years, we’ve been living in a little 700 square foot apartment (photos here, from when Maya was very little!). It has served us SO well. But good grief, I can’t wait for a little more space for all of us to wiggle. We started as a couple, then grew to a family of three and then a family of four. With two bedrooms, three closets and a living room/dining/kitchen space that’s reasonably spacious, it’s been a great spot for us. It’s on the ground floor, has a little patio out the back for Michael to grill, and keeps cool in the summer and warms up quickly in the winter. The polished concrete floors have hidden a whole lot of baby and toddler messes and somehow Maya didn’t injure herself when she was learning how to walk.

The other thing our sweet little apartment has been, in addition to the place we brought our babies home to, is temporary. We knew we wouldn’t stay forever when we moved in with our two suitcases of clothes. We started with a completely unfurnished apartment and have made it a home over the last two years. But honestly, we’ve done it as cheaply as possible. Two adoptions in two years is expensive! Obviously, our resources have gone into making it comfortable and cozy for our family, but literally everything is second hand and there are no frills. We knew we wouldn’t be shipping big things back to Dublin when we went home, so everything has felt temporary from the start.

We are also looking forward to having two floors for the first time in our almost ten years of marriage! And while the details are still being worked out, we have started to dream about what that space is going to look like. I cannot wait to intentionally design our next home, starting with our living space.

I thought I’d share a few inspiration photos and a few products I’m eyeing, in collaboration with Arnott’s department store in Dublin.

Arnott’s is on Henry Street in Dublin’s north side and it’s the largest and oldest department store in the city. I’ve borrowed products from their homeware range for shoots before and it was hard not to leave with one of everything.

First, a few photos that are driving the inspiration for our living space in our new home.

Sugar and Cloth

Design Mom

Homes to Love

Sfgirlbybay

Sofa Homes

Oh Happy Day

Sugar and Cloth

So that’s our starting point. It clearly leaves a little to be ironed out, but I know I’m leaning toward a statement couch like the Isla from Content by Conran or the Soul Set-Up sofa. I like the idea of warm wood for a coffee table, and we’ll have to find something relatively safe for rambunctious little ones, but the Soho coffee table by Baker and this Chelsea console table by Conran would be nice options. A selection of cushions (like this Haden cushion from Sheridan) will always warm up a room, and soften Maya’s acrobatic landings!

This post was written in partnership with Arnott’s. Thanks for supporting the posts that make this blog possible! 

Maine Winter / Maya the Snow Bunny

January 16, 2018

We spent two weeks in Maine over Christmas and although the majority of that time was spent in the bomb cyclone polar vortex of well below zero Fahrenheit, we did get a few days to play in the snow before it was too cold to venture out with a toddler. Maya loves the snow. She could play in it for hours, or at least wander around and flop in it for hours. For such a tiny chica, she didn’t give a hoot about the cold or the fact that she didn’t have the use of her hands.

My sister lent us this adorable onesie snow romper thing (it’s Mini Boden) for Maya to use and I only wish we’d gotten more use out of it! The hat and a matching set of mittens were hand me downs and she wore them last winter in Ireland. I wish she would never grow out of that hat! It actually stays on really well because the pom poms are a little heavy.   It didn’t hurt that my parents were out in the snow with her either, though. Maya would do anything for hours with her Grammy and Granddad. Thank goodness, because Noah only made it out for about five minutes to say he had seen his first snow.    Not unlike our experience feeding the horses, Maya really loves carrots! Even when she can’t get to her hands to eat them!

Happy Friday

January 13, 2018

Reviving the oldie-but-goodie, Friday updates and links!

This week was the now-typical juggle between parenting and trying to get work done. It was more grey than usual in Houston, with a little rain, including a giant downpour that landed on me ten minutes into a run. We kept Maya home from school on Wednesday because one of her classmates had a confirmed case of the flu and we are not interested in having a sick chica. Sadly, our girl seems to be susceptible to everything and gets hit hard with whatever she picks up. Ain’t nobody got time (or energy) for that!

This weekend, we’re a little torn between trying to get out and about with the kids and hunkering down to potty train Maya. Big, big decisions. Ha!

I’d love to make it to feed the Mounted Police horses with Maya this weekend. She would be terrified/ obsessed / never stop talking about it. We booked a slot tomorrow at 4pm!

This article rings through my head every time I tell Maya to ‘be careful.’ It definitely slips out of my mouth more easily than I’d like.

I haven’t watched much television lately (too much work in the evenings! and blogging!) but before Christmas I finished The Fosters and basically tell everyone I can about it. Michael wasn’t a fan of the acting, but I didn’t mind the after-school-special earnestness of it. What I really loved was how it deals with the topic of foster care and adoption in a very real, very accurate way with a lot of perspective from the foster and adopted children.

When I do have a little more time Alias Grace is next on my list.

Can’t get enough of this story about 600 dads showing up to mentor Dallas middle school kids.

Also awesome, women actresses brought women activists to the Golden Globes as their plus ones.

I made very simple tomato soup this week and it was pretty good. Not quite as good as using fresh tomatoes, but close for a pantry quickie.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!