Friday, July 25, 2014


Happy, Happy Birthday to my sweet, darling baby girl!  I cannot believe you're already three years old.  You continue to be our sunshine because you brighten our lives with your silly little songs, your keen sense of humor, your zest for life and those big, gorgeous, brown eyes.  Being your Mommy is truly a gift and I thank you for being such a dream come true!  

Happy 3rd Birthday, ClaraLu!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lulu & Goose in D.C.

Our family spent last week in Washington, D.C.  One of my favorites places.  I've spent a lot of time there in my life (being a Virginia girl and going to college only 45 minutes away) but this was the first time our girls visited the city.  I'm not really sure what took us so long!

Honestly, it was too hot to take pictures. It was too hot to breathe.  Plus I was sick and/or recovering the entire trip. But I managed to squeak out a few photos. Here are some of my favorites....


{My nickname for Sophie has always been 'Goose' so I'm quite fond of this picture!}

{I gave Clara a dime and told her she could put it in her pocket.  She rarely took her hand out of her pocket the remainder of the day!}

{Alain found an awesome place called The Swiss Bakery.  Pretty authentic and SO delicious!  We may or may not have gone there three times during our visit...  On this particular day, I had Clara wear her "Heidi"/Switzerland shirt that was a present from her Tio Iggy and Tia Bianca (originally Sophie's present but it's now fitting Clara perfectly)!  Tio Iggy is always with us.  Always.}

Alain agrees with me that we will only return to D.C. during the cooler months of the year.  I'm looking forward to it already and I know the girls are too!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

4th of July

The 4th of July is truly one of my favorite holidays.  That and Thanksgiving.  This year we spent the 4th of July at my parents' house in Virginia.  With a lot of work, we prepped a nice little July 4th cookout for family members and neighbors, 25 of us in all.  I was running a fever all day and spent part of it in bed but I managed to hang through the entire party.  Thank goodness....   Here are some of my favorite details and moments:

I couldn't bear that my Snoopy 4th of July flag wouldn't be flown this year so, to remedy that, I brought it with me and hung it at my parents. I mean, honestly, who on Earth is more fabulous than Snoopy?

The neighbors' dog, Riley, crashed the party.  Smile.

Kids enjoying Pop Its in the driveway.

When it comes to the 4th of July, I'm all about a traditional menu.....burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, deviled eggs, chips & dip, brownies, cupcakes.  It won't be your most nutritious meal but it sure is good!  And, it never fails, the deviled eggs and brownies are always the foods that completely disappear!  Is that just a Southern thing?

My favorite part of all is that both of my 82-year-old grandmothers were at the party.  My grandma Nellie (above) is always willing to dress up and have a good time!  And my grandma Barbara (below) is indispensable when throwing a party.  I borrowed so many platters and dishes and chairs, etc from her.  She even called us early in the day to remind us to charge our camera batteries!  Trust me that having her two blocks away when you're planning an event is a godsend.

I hope all of you had a fun, safe, happy 4th of July!

PS ~ Any World Cup fans out there?  Did you watch the game on Tuesday?  Sophie & I dressed up in our finest USA gear and went to a local, family-friendly bar and watched the entire game.  We were there for four hours!  To say that we were crushed the US lost would be an understatement.  By the end of the game, Sophie was screaming at the TV along with everyone else.  My man, Tim Howard.....WOW.  He is a BEAST.  I remembered this post I wrote about him back in 2010.  I'd go crazy if he could play in one more World Cup!!! I remain his biggest fan!

Monday, June 23, 2014

An Evening in the Garden

I'm so sorry for the absence.  It's summertime and both girls are out of school.  I'm lucky if I turn my computer on each couple of days. Tonight the girls and I planted some new seeds in the garden and I noticed the lighting was nice so I ran in to grab my camera.  Here are a few shots.  I hope to be back sooner rather than later!

Pollinating the cucumbers....

A topside view of Sophie's sunflower.

The zucchini forest.

The lovely pot that Sophie & I planted.

Red geraniums are one of my favorites.  Look closely and you'll see a spiderweb that appeared overnight.

I planted my tomatoes super late this year but they're coming along....

And my most favorite gardening project of all.  Milkweed.  I hope it works.  Won't you help me help the monarchs?  Seen any so far? 

What's up in your garden?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Space for Rent!

It's not that unusual to see bluebirds hanging out in the yard or at the feeders.

....So I thought it was about time to put up a bluebird house that my Dad made for me.

I should probably tell you that he gave it to me in, I think, 2011.  But I had a newborn and no idea how or where to install the house.  Fast forward to early March of 2014.....and I realized I really wanted the bluebirds to nest in our yard.  I headed to my favorite bird store and was amazed to find that they sell a kit!  I even managed to install the birdhouse myself!  Notice the little blue feeder I bought so that I could try to entice the bluebirds with mealworms.

Within a few hours of putting the house up, the bluebirds found the mealworms and started feasting.  Much to my delight, they spent about a week checking out the house.  I'd walk out into the yard to find a bluebird hanging on the house with his/her head sticking in the hole (and I know I took a picture of just that but I now can't find it anywhere ~ I just spent 30 minutes looking through all my files!).

Well, much to my dismay, the bluebirds passed on my house.  I was so bummed.

But then....

.....a sweet little wren decided the house was just perfect!

I've been studying her ever since.  She stays very busy!  For the first week, I watched as she carried stick after stick after stick into the little hole.  It was truly fascinating!  The girls and I would sit chairs out on the lawn and drink juice and eat snacks as she worked.  I mean honestly....who needs TV?

One day, while the sweet wren was away looking for food, we opened the house. I couldn't believe my eyes.....

I don't know about you but I've never seen a nest like that before!

It took a little while but, within the last few days, I heard the first sound of babies calling out to their Mama.  The sweetest sounds.

Now Mama's on double and triple shift.  I've never seen ANYONE work that hard, except for maybe myself.  Ha!

Last night, I was so pleased to take the below photos after she captured a grasshopper. Those babies must have LOVED feasting on such a gourmet treat!

I'm so happy she came to live at our house!  

Am I a little disappointed that the bluebirds didn't choose to stay?  I can't lie, I am.

But then I go outside and watch this Mama hard at work.....and I listen to her beautiful song.....I try over and over again to take her picture.....and I realize that she is also a gift.  The sweet little wren makes this Mama incredibly happy.

I can't wait to meet her babies!

Thank you, Dad ~ the bluebird/wren house is truly one of my favorite gifts ever.....and it means so much to me that you built it yourself!  XOXO

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Overprotected Kids Go "Wild"

In early April, we received the most recent issue of The Atlantic.  The cover story was one titled "The Overprotected Kid".  I couldn't break the magazine open quickly enough.  This is a topic I think about A LOT.....I know my kids don't have enough freedom and I worry how about how it will affect them in the long run.  Like most people my age, I had WAY more freedom than my own children.  My parents let me loose in the neighborhood and I was only called in for dinner or when it got dark.  

I LIVED in the woods and I am well aware that the amount of time I spent surrounded by nature shaped me in a HUGE way.  I played in the creek daily.  Didn't Mom & Dad worry I'd fall, hit my head on a rock and drown?  Weren't they concerned that some weirdo would walk into the woods and steal me?  What about the poison ivy and the snakes and my dirt-covered clothes and shoes?They never seemed worried.  Neither did the parents of my friends.  But letting me loose was one of the most fantastic gifts my parents could give me.  I have such beautiful memories of swinging over the creek on a long vine, building forts, chasing each other through the woods, perfecting our dam building....need I go on?  No one was looking over my shoulders.  Not one afternoon had a planned activity.  

I finished reading the article and I was upset.  But what could I do?  We don't live in an area where I can let my kids loose.  No way.  So what did I do?  I filled the girls' water bottles, packed a few snacks, jumped in the car with Clara, picked Sophie up from the bus stop and headed straight to a nature path near home.  When we got there, I told the girls to go and do whatever they wanted. You should have seen the way they looked at me!!!  It's so sad but they didn't even know what to do.  Go, walk in the woods, play in the creek, get dirty, find some bugs......these are the things I told them.  It took a while and there was some trepidation but they eventually took tentative first steps into the woods.  

And I have to admit that it wasn't easy for me.  These kids weren't raised in the woods.  I was nervous.  I followed them around from a distance as they ventured.  I tried to pretend like I wasn't paying attention to them (yeah right!).  A couple of times I even let them out of my sight (GASP!) but immediately panicked and called them back.  Still, I do get points for trying, right?  As they played and went "wild" (ha!), I took photos.

Of course Harry had to follow along and help protect the girls.

The girls played at this rotted log for about 1/2 an hour until a massive bug ran out and made Sophie jump a foot into the air.  She is not afraid of bugs so that just tells you something about the size and "scary factor" of this particular bug!

I kept going back for more pictures because, as you may remember, towhees are my favorite (sssshhhh, don't tell Harry!).

If I still did my Suburban Field Journal posts, I'd include this picture.  I love when we go somewhere in the suburbs and find a reminder that this used to be someone's large piece of property. Well, I shouldn't say I love it because it actually makes me sad.

My kids are still overprotected.  I want to be positive but I just don't think there's any way around that these days.  Even a laid back parent like me has a hard time letting go.  I will always search for opportunities to give the girls freedom to roam and explore.  Until I find them, I'm happy I had this lovely afternoon with two of my favorite people and I was glad to have a little of my own freedom to take some nature photos!  
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