the most beautiful beach day.

Is anyone getting tired of hearing about the beach? I really hope not. Each trip just feels so distinct that I have to capture it! The ocean, the air, Charlie, and our experience changes every time.

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This Saturday the water was crystal clear and calm. The sun shone high and bright. Charlie had just woken up from a nap so he was happy to go into the water and splash.

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After a while, Mike dug him out his own personal swimming pool which he loved. He splashed, tried to eat sand, and sat looking out at the ocean.

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I just keep thinking that life can’t get any better and then it suddenly does. And then Monday rolls around (insert crying face). But I’m counting my lucky stars for such special weekends with these two loves.

our favorite baby books at 6 months.

We’ve been reading to Charlie since nearly day 1. But with a 6 month old, it’s still more about what we like to read to Charlie rather than what Charlie’s really into. It’s not like he can specifically ask for one book over another yet. He definitely loves books already though, so I think it’s good to start young! We try to choose books that he seems interested in with fun, repetitive text and big bold illustrations. These are 8 books that we love to read to Charlie. He’s to the page ripping stage, so we mostly stick to board books although we do love regular picture books and just keep a little tighter hold on the book.

Funny enough, Mike usually does the reading. I read to kids all day (librarian life!), so I love having him do it. I think it’s good dada-Charlie bonding time. It’s their thing. We don’t have a strict routine yet. We’re not quite to the point of bedtime stories every night, but we usually get a couple in each night at some point and lots on the weekend.

  1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear : An Eric Carle favorite. I read this book with my Kindergarten classes at school and know it by heart! I love the bouncy rhythm of the words and the repetition is so fun for the kids to catch on to. The illustrations are big and bold and really catch the baby’s attention.
  2. No Matter What : This book was a sweet little shower gift that I hadn’t read before. It is Mike’s absolute favorite. He’ll choose it over any other. All about loving your little person no matter what. I love that “large”can be either mama or dada. So many books focus on the mom, so it’s nice to have one that could be dad too.
  3. Pete the Cat: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star : If you haven’t read any of the Pete the Cat books, go now and read one! They’re such cute stories. I especially love that we can sing this book to Charlie.
  4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar : Another Eric Carle favorite. A hungry caterpillar eats his way through life, spins a cocoon and comes out a beautiful butterfly.  It’s a sweet way to teach the days of the week and different foods.
  5. One Fish, Two Fish : One of Mike’s other favorites to read and a Dr. Seuss classic. I actually wouldn’t normally recommend it as a baby book because it is long, but Charlie is so into it. I think it’s because the words are so silly and fun to listen to.
  6. Night Night, Florida : A sweet little rhyming bedtime story with favorite Florida spots. We like reading this one before bed with it’s quiet tone and dark illustrations.
  7. Bunny Roo, I Love You : This one is one of my favorites. The illustrations are so sweet and I love it’s reassuring message to my little guy.
  8. Mighty, Mighty Construction Site : Another one that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend for babies because of the length, but the illustrations are just so big and beautiful. I love reading it and Charlie is just captivated by it.

What are your favorite baby books? There are so many good ones!

the friday post – vol. 9

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I totally jumped the gun yesterday morning and ripped off my April calendar at school. Technically, May doesn’t come until next Tuesday, but I don’t care gosh darn it! I’m ready to see the light at the end of the tunnel – aka SUMMER BREAK! I just needed to see that little square that says “LAST DAY OF SCHOOL”. I asked my sister (also a teacher) last week if it was too early to start getting excited for summer, and she said yes. I’m totally going against her though and getting excited anyway. Testing ends next week, and then all the fun end-of-year celebrations begin – book fair, field days, movie celebrations, field trips, graduation. It’s going to be fun and so fast, you guys.

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Mike and I (and Charlie) went out for a rare weeknight dinner out last night at one of our favorite local spots, a little diner called Howley’s. We had a beer each and split cottage chip nachos on the back patio and it made it feel like the weekend had already begun. Let me tell you, I didn’t mind that one bit.

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I’ve been brainstorming a lot about this little spot on the internet (testing season leaves lots of time for thinking) and about what direction I’d like to go with it now that I’ve been posting for a little while. I updated some of my categories to be more useful and to make things more findable. I also did a little header update and some changes on my post formatting. I’ve been using it as kind of an online journal, which I love and want to keep doing. It’s so nice to be able to have one spot where all of our happenings and life history can be found, especially things with Charlie as he grows. But I also want to include more posts with thoughts on parenting, working motherhood, interesting books & articles, housekeeping, our favorite things, organization, etc. Maybe even a  little bit of baby and mama fashion? (lookin’ at you – one piece swimsuit) So look for more of a variety of posts coming soon! I’m excited for this space to become more practical for me and you, if you happen to be interested in any of those things. I think it may even help make me be more proactive and reflective about parenthood and our lifestyle as Charlie (and future babies!) get older.

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What are you up to this weekend? If you’re up north, I hear it’s starting to get warm out, finally! Mike’s dad sent a photo of his mom mowing the lawn, and the grass just looked so incredibly green. I miss many things about the midwest – but thinking about the carpets of grass during spring and summer is very touching to me for whatever reason. Grass (a generous term) is not like that in Florida.

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We have tickets to a baseball game on Sunday afternoon, so that might be our big outing for the weekend. Charlie’s had a yucky cough all week (along with all the other kids in his classroom, we’re told) so we’re going to lay low and get that baby back to 100%. Happy weekend, all!

xx, em

a recipe: crunchy fridge pickles

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On Saturday afternoons we don’t even have to think about what we’re having for dinner. Just like we eat pizza on Fridays, on Saturdays – we have burgers on the grill. There are few things more satisfying than burgers on Saturday. It makes the weekend feel like a holiday, even if it isn’t. Especially if we’ve spent the afternoon at the beach. We always pick up a big, juicy red tomato (it’s always tomato season in Florida) from the market on Saturday morning along with the rest of our veggie haul for the week. If there’s corn, then we’ll pick that up too to throw on the grill. If there isn’t any corn (unlike tomato season – it’s actually not always corn season) then we’ll slice up a couple potatoes to throw in the oven coated with olive oil, garlic salt, and generous grind of black pepper. Grabbing our plates with our burgers ready to dress, I pull out the holy grail of toppings. The fridge pickles. Burgers, in my opinion, are made by their toppings, and one topping that we can’t go without – are pickles.

It’s a not-so-secret love in my life. Pickling things. I’ve pickled most things that people are in the habit of pickling – onions, cucumbers, radishes, green beans, even asparagus. We eat them piled on sandwiches, burgers, tacos (pickled red onion or radishes- yum), and straight from the jar (pickled green beans or asparagus with a cold beer –  yum). Pickles just taste like summer to me, and when you live somewhere that actually is summer year round – you eat a lot of pickles. I grew up loving Claussen’s pickles, and while I spent a few years using a heated pickle recipe, around last year, I found an even easier way – no heating required. This recipe reminds me so much of Claussen’s. It’s a riff on Deb’s for Refrigerator Pickles, and by far the best and easiest I’ve found.

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A note about my pickling habits: I don’t pickle in bulk. I like to do small, one jar at a time, 10 minute sessions. This means that I avoid processing jars for hours over a boiling pot of water, and I’m not spending hours slaving over the cutting board. We only make what we’re going to eat within the next couple of weeks (or days).

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Fridge Pickles

Makes 1 pint sized mason jar.

What you need:

  • 2-3 small cucumbers (we prefer Persian cucumbers, but many like Kirby the best!)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • pinch crushed red pepper

What to do:

Slice cucumbers to desired size. Add vinegar, salt, and other seasonings to mason jar. Add cucumbers. Fill to the top of the “Freeze Line” with water. Screw on lid, and shake vigorously.

Put in the front of the fridge, and shake again over the next few hours whenever you open the fridge. You can eat after an hour, but they’re best after 6-8 hours.

*Will keep for 3 weeks, but if you’re anything like us, they won’t last that long.

** We’ll use the brine for two batches of pickles. Once you eat the first batch, just slice up a couple more cucumbers, put them in the same jar, and refrigerate. Enjoy!

six months with charlie.

 

IMG_9156.JPGOur little guy is starting to seem not so little anymore. We have glimpses every day of the kid he’s going to grow up to be, and it’s a combination of heart-wrenching that it truly does go by this fast, and so fun to have his little personality shining through. At six months Charlie has been eating solids here and there for about a month. The last few weeks we’ve been on a pretty consistent two-meal schedule with nursing every three hours. We’ve even started having family dinners every night at the table, complete with prayer at the beginning which he smiles so big for. He has a newfound love of baths (every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday – when we remember), and for Wendy who he smiles for all the time. She, on the other hand, is fairly indifferent about him which makes it all the funnier to us.

Is Charlie sleeping through the night? Last week I would have told you that it was happening more and more often, but then for the last 4 or 5 days, we’ve had our nightly meetings back again. Maybe Charlie could tell I was feeling a little blue about the end of our night nursing? I’ll need to let him know that he can feel free to just wake up every once in a while instead of every night. He’s off and on for naps – some days it’s two, some days it’s three, but he’s still napping pretty horribly at school. Oh well though, he doesn’t seem too much worse for it.

He’s sitting up on his own for a surprisingly long time, not crying even when he falls over. He even sat himself up on his own from his belly the other day which, I will just tell you, was shocking. No crawling is happening yet, just lots of time spent on all fours trying to figure it out. It’s happening soon! I can feel it! Although, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t mind delaying it for a while longer. Also – we’re still toothless over here, which is totally fine with me because we’re still going strong with nursing.

He happily yells a battlecry all the time, and says “buh buh buh buh” on repeat. He loves trying to drink water out of my glass which is hilarious – the cup a big ring around his face as it spills down his front. He sits up like a big boy in his stroller, and joins us for family runs a few times a week, quietly taking in the scenery. We try to take a daily walk which I’m convinced helps him sleep better at night. The ladies at school love him (we can tell) which makes it easier to drop him off there every day. He wakes up happy, sleeps on his belly (knees tucked under, butt in the air), and still loves his penguin wubbanub best. He grabs everything within reach, thinks beer bottles are his, and has figured out that peekaboo is not a magic trick making it less funny than it used to be. But the most random things are funny to him and it’s always the best to get a big belly laugh. He hugs us, stands up with help, is so ticklish, and he just brings us so much joy every day.

simple joys: reading in bed

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In the spirit of celebrating life’s simple joys, you’ll find a new series here every now and then. Every day, we are left with the vast responsibility of our feelings – both good and bad, positive and negative. I’m hoping this series will help bring focus to the small, simple things that bring joy and happiness to my everyday life, and maybe yours too! I hope they might inspire you {and me} to look at your little life in the big world with a fresh perspective, realizing how nice it is to be positive, and perhaps to appreciate the ritual of making your morning oatmeal, or that ray of sun coming through your window just so, even the beauty of your empty *empty!!* laundry basket. Maybe – over time – we’ll see that there’s a certain kind of satisfaction in noticing that the daisy sitting on your coffee table really is beautiful, and you really are so lucky to have it hanging out in your house. And even if you do inadvertently walk through a spider web with your face while taking the dog out, your coffee really does taste amazing this morning…


I had nearly forgotten that I used to religiously read in bed each night. Then, this weekend, Mike came in with the mail and handed me a rumpled manila envelope with my name on it. Tucked inside the package was a book. A pass along from my mom who knew I had badly been wanting to read Little Fires Everywhere. Joy of all joys! How does one forget that they used to do something religiously for 29 years of their life? It was as natural to me as breathing. I simply could not happily fall asleep unless I read a chapter before bed. Physically I could, that is. But I was happier and would go to sleep with ease if I read a chapter of my book while settling in for the night.

Well, the valid explanation is that Mike and I welcomed a baby into our life who upended everything about our nights. And so my chapter a night habit took an almost six month hiatus because of the baby slumbering next to our bed each night. I loved having Charlie in our room, tucked in his little bassinet. Or even better, tucked in between us in bed. I loved hearing him breathe in and out, even as a metronome, and being right there next to him to nurse him through the night when he stirred. It was time to move him over to his crib though. He sleeps so much better with room to roll over and sleep on his belly or side if he wants to. He stirs and settles himself. But it still gives me little jolt of sadness to think about him in the room down the hall when he used to live right with us night after night. But just a little jolt. Maybe it’s a jolt of nostalgia rather than sadness. If I’m honest, we’re all sleeping better with him in his crib. It was time.

Reflecting on it now, the first couple weeks of crib sleep were a little tense for me. I was torn over wanting him to continue waking up through the night to show that he still needed me, and wanting him to sleep well so that he could get the sleep he needed. The whole wanting your baby to stay a baby, I guess. He’s to the point of sleeping through the night every now and then (two nights in a row this week!) which is a good thing. I’m coming to terms with the end of night wakings. I may be the minority, but I’ve always known that I would miss them when they ended. The snuggling of a sweet baby when the rest of world is asleep just can’t be beat. But our nights are starting to feel a little more like they did before we had Charlie. We have a routine down. Mostly. There are, of course, some nights that are exceptions. But it feels like now, nights (after 7:30pm) are steering back to being about Mike and spending time together, rather than the stress of if Charlie would or wouldn’t wake up. They’re also steering back toward going to bed a few minutes early so I can read my chapter in bed.

I forgot what a peaceful end to the day it is. Just a few pages to settle me down, to quiet my mind and move on from the day. Having a light on in the bedroom at night seems like such a luxury! Finding my pajamas when I’m going to bed instead of at 7pm when I’m starting to get Charlie ready. Flinging the covers off the bed, cracking open my book, turning a page as loud as I’d like, setting my glass of water down on the side table after taking a noisy drink, saying ‘night and I love you’s aloud to my husband. Ah! Luxury! Simple joys here. Its a simple joy to have – getting to read in bed. A thing I have loved all my life, and am remembering to love again.

a slow sunday.

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It was 4pm and it felt like we hadn’t done a thing all day. Charlie took a half hour long afternoon nap, then an extra half hour nap in my arms after that, and another half hour after that when I finally set him back down in his crib, shaking out the pins and needles in my arms. I banged around the house, halfheartedly trying to wake him up, peering out at the clouds trying to determine the likelihood of rain.

The sky had looked threatening all day, and I remembered the humid wind barreling toward us on our morning, post-church run that morning. A storm was coming. The urge to cozy up together on the couch was strong, but I also had the urge to see the waves. It had been a couple weeks, and we were due.

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I finally heard a whimper during my overly enthusiastic search for beach towels in the closet right next to his room. On went his trunks, swim shirt, and into the car seat he went. The intracoastal was dark and choppy as we crossed the bridge to our little local beach, making us think that we may be too close to the storm to stay.

The waves were rough but not too big. A yellow flag waved, warning about riptides. As we got to the water the sand pitched down to the water in a steep dip making a little ledge to walk down to the ocean edge. We set our chairs up on the packed sand below the ledge and left our bag on a chair. The wind whipped around us, bending the palm trees on the boardwalk. I felt my hair turning into a birds nest. Charlie’s hat kept blowing off so I finally tucked it in our bag. We wouldn’t be out long.

Charlie stared out at the waves, unsmiling. Did he like it? Was it scary? Was the water too cold? Every time we come to the beach, he’s just a little bit bigger, a little bit older. What if he doesn’t like it this time? We let him stand in the sand and the waves came in covering him to his knees. Mike grabbed a handful of seaweed for him to feel. He grabbed a handful of sand and tried to bring it to his mouth, Mike stopping him just in time. I crouched down to rinse his hands with seawater, laughing as my shorts got soaked by a wave. We’re pretty sure he still likes it.

We didn’t stay long. Just long enough to call it an adventure. We’ll be back again next week. The storm came later that night, rattling the windows and bringing down palm fronds, tiny unripe mangos and bougainvillea blooms all over the neighborhood. I’m glad it held off for our afternoon. The slow end to a weekend that went by far too fast.

out & about: cholo soy

We ordered our food in the cramped little restaurant wondering to each other if there would be a table open on the back patio. Margarita or beer? Beer. The last time we were here, I was only weeks pregnant and I was still in the phase of having to remind myself that I couldn’t get a drink. Tacos or rice bowl? Tacos. Try two appetizers or an extra taco? Apps. Mike suggested trying a vegetarian taco which I immediately vetoed. Team decisions here. Choose meat for the team!

Charred corn two ways came out in little cardboard containers, one smeared with fried cheese and a spicy mayo and the other in a lime-y salad form. Another tray of steak and chicken tacos which mike spritzed with two wedges of lime. Mike and I looked up at each other from the meal and smiled. We sat outside on a bright yellow picnic bench with the cool ocean air surrounding us in a breeze. At 6:30, it’s still light out and will be until Charlie goes to bed in another hour.

Charlie stared longingly at the food and reached toward one of the containers of corn and grasped the little paper lining while I was taking a bite. Sneaky. He’s got a surprisingly strong grip. He pulled the paper right out and we dumped the corn salad directly into the container to save it. The other day I took him to the veggie market with me and I didn’t notice the sprig of parsley he had in his little fist until we were checking out.

We talked about Charlie, our pergola that needs replaced, work, this and that and what we have coming up. We eavesdropped on the table next to us. The son wants to go to Yale, and his painfully thin mom loves the art. We love to cook, so we don’t go out to eat often. But it was a treat to get ourselves put together for a dinner out.

The food was yummy, but the company was even better. ☺️

the friday post – vol. 8

Hi friends! Is it just me or has a week has never gone by so fast? I can’t tell you how happy I am that it’s the weekend again. I know I know – it’s not Friday. But I just couldn’t quite get it together enough to post this last night. Last night we were busy throwing together our traditional Friday pizza and fell asleep on the couch watching Netflix at like 9:30pm. haha. We’re planning a dinner out at a hipster little taco place tonight so I’m looking forward to a casual date night…with Charlie. (Really need to find a sitter still)

I do just think that this week really flew by. I feel like while having classes in the library has made me feel a whole lot more busy and a tad bit overbooked – it’s also given me a rush of inspiration and reignited my passion for making the library a welcoming place for kids to learn to love reading. Yesterday I sat on a table in the library reading aloud A Wrinkle in Time with fifth graders scattered around me at other tables, in bean bags and sprawled on the carpet. (One even sitting in my storytime rocking chair) You could hear a pin drop. By Friday, I had read the same parts of the story aloud to four other fifth grade classes so I had my Mrs. Whatsit creaky old voice down and practically had the passages memorized so I could make a premium amount of eye contact. It was like it hit me, “Oh. Okay. This is pretty alright for a job.”

Charlie started sitting on his own this week and slept through the night once more! Little by little were getting to the point where Charlie seems like a real little kid and then the next he’s still this tiny baby so new to the world. It’s a nice combination.

I told Mike that I wanted to start trying one new meal every week (when inspiration hits) and he hesitantly agreed. Sweet potato tacos this week were a hit! Charlie’s been loooooving sweet potatoes so we already had some laying around. Pickled onions, heavily seasoned sweet potatoes roasted in the oven, black beans and a few slices of avocado made for an easy weeknight meal that I could totally see us making again. This week I’m trying melting potatoes which I’ve heard are amazing.

Whatever your plans are this weekend, I hope you kick your feet up and enjoy!! Xx, em.

a mindful morning.

“Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. It is all we ever have so we might as well work with it rather than struggling against it. We might as well make it our friend and teacher rather than our enemy.” Pema Chodron

I used to practice meditation at least 3-4 times a week throughout my pregnancy with Charlie. But then, you know, I went ahead and had the baby and lost my quiet, reflective time to playing with, feeding and generally loving on said baby.

This morning I had a spare few minutes after getting ready and before it became time to wake Charlie up. This has never happened. Ever. In almost six months! I took advantage and opened up my Calm app to get in a five minute meditation. The first time since Charlie was born! I tell you I felt so serene at the start of my day. I want to say that I was just a little bit more peaceful all day. Is that crazy? I feel like I treated myself and others with just a little more grace than I would have otherwise. I’m not going to say that morning meditation is going to be making a permanent appearance again anytime soon. Mornings are just hard. But it’s definitely a reminder to take a couple minutes in the morning (maybe while I’m driving to work!) to just check in with myself about how I’m feeling, how I’m treating (and reacting to) others, and a reminder to take the present in stride – whatever the present may bring throughout the day.