beautiful, beautiful jade

Buying: any and all greenery. Jade plants form Ikea (above)? Check. Succulents from Lowe's? Check. Fiddle-leaf fig trees from a local nursery? Check. I have to tell you: when it comes to all other plants -literally, all other plants- I have a tremendous black thumb. I can't even keep a simple planter-box herb garden alive for more than a week. I'm serious. But there's something hardy about greens that I can get down with. I guess they can get down with me, too.

Reading: ton of books. Here goes: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, The Stockholn Octavo by Karen Engelmann, and -of course- the second Amelia Peabody book, The Curse of the Pharoahs. Hot damn, I love me some Amelia Peabody.

Listening: to a lot of podcasts. I haven't been in music mode lately (for completely unknown reasons) so I've been inhaling podcasts by the dozen. Recently, I've been enjoying The Art of SimpleBook Club Shmook ClubElise Gets Crafty, and The Heatley Cliff

(the "Currently" feature is borrowed -with complete reverence!- from Danielle)

I am doing the best I can.

Last Friday was A's 15 month well-baby appointment and as I tend to do, I prepared a brief list of questions to pose to our pediatrician when the time came. As he was checking A's measurements, walking ability, verbal skills, etc., I casually asked the pediatrician when a good time was to completely wean A off of bottles (at the time, he was only taking one before bedtime; every other time was strictly cups).

The pediatrician looked me square in the eye and said "The perfect time was 3 months ago."

Now, I have to say -especially before I elaborate- that I absolutely love our pediatrician. I love that he has the most amazing bedside manner and is incredibly friendly & approachable. I love that he is a younger man so if/when the time comes, A will (hopefully) feel a little more comfortable with him about his body, both inside and out. I love that even though he succeeds at being diplomatic in dealing with the different families and types of parenting styles he observes, his advice tends to sway in the parenting & upbringing direction that J and I have decided we want to go anyway.

I know for certain that he did not intend to sound harsh, or critical, or downright mean. I have had established care with him for long enough to know that he is not that kind of person.

But I have to tell you: I can't remember the last time I was so embarrassed.

I immediately started burning red as he explained that babies using bottles after 12 months of age is strictly for comfort and not for necessity, that extended bottle use can oftentimes lead to the decay and misalignment of teeth, that going cold turkey with A is the best and quickest way to get the job done. These were all things that I knew by way of reading, research, and confirmation from friends & family; I even felt like I knew them inherently, somehow.

Still: we hadn't fully weaned A, and I was embarrassed about it.

He went on to advise that we literally throw A's bottles away as soon as we got home, so that there was no temptation to revert back to what was easy for us parents and comforting for A. I enthusiastically agreed, and tried to semi-backtrack by reiterating that he only took a bottle once a day, blah blah blah.

I would be lying if I said that I didn't stew all day over that particular 60 seconds in my life. I kept thinking about it, replaying it in my mind, beating myself up for asking the question in the first place because -obviously- I could have evaded severe embarrassment by keeping my mouth shut. I let it fester and fester, much longer than I ever should have.

But around 7 in the evening, it finally hit me:

There is nothing for me to be embarrassed about. I am his mom, and I am doing the best I can. 

I know: it's no big, Earth-shattering revelation. It's probably something that just about every parent has said at one point or another, whether out loud to someone else, or quietly in their heads.

But I have to tell you: it alleviated all tension and embarrassment and internal squirming for me to just realize that I haven't ruined his life by letting him drink from a bottle once a day for three months longer than experts say I "should have." I am a working mom, in school, juggling a husband, a son, and (sometimes nonexistent) free time, and I am doing the best I can.

I am doing the best I can is what I tell myself when I don't feel up to playing Legos or Hot Wheels with him on the floor of his bedroom every second that he's not sleeping or eating. I am doing the best I can is what I tell myself when I put season 1 of Oswald on our iPad, while I practice the pluperfect tense in Spanish right next to him. I am doing the best I can is what I tell myself when I cancel plans last-minute with friends and family because A isn't feeling well and just needs to cuddle with his mom on the couch all day while watching everything Pixar has produced. I am doing the best I can is what I tell myself when I attempt to read him mountains of books and introduce him to letter and number flashcards, but find that he would rather chew on said books and flashcards.

I am doing the best I can is what I tell myself every single second of every single day. I think I will continue to tell myself this, my new mantra, for as long as I am an active mother - which is probably everyday for the rest of my life.

I am not a failure. I am not doing everything "wrong." I am just giving it a shot and seeing if it sticks.

I am doing the best I can.

101 in 1001.

I've jumped on the bandwagon.

In my defense, it's a bandwagon that is attached to such a brilliant idea that I wish I had thought of it myself.

I don't know exactly which blogger "invented" the idea of "101 in 1001," but I do remember seeing my first list about two years ago. In that time, I have written my own list, from 1 to 101. In case you're unfamiliar with the idea, it's 101 goals/dreams/wishes to achieve in 1001 days - a little less than three years. One of the reasons I find this concept so attractive is because it's a lot to accomplish, but within a completely reasonable and workable time frame.

I love that I can put any sort of goal or aspiration down on my list: big or small, broad or specific, realistic or completely out-there. I truly feel like I can accomplish a majority of my list within the given time-frame. In fact, I'm already able to cross the first goal off of my list! The type-A personality in me adores that!

So, without further ado...

Start date: April 1, 2014
End date: December 26, 2016

1 – Watch every Best Picture Oscar winner.
2 – Finish Atticus’ Project Life baby book album.
3 – Run a half marathon.
4 – Reread the entire Jane Austen canon.
5 – Move into our own place!
6 – Make 25 things from my Pinterest boards (recipes, craft projects, etc.).
7 – Get at least one more tattoo.
8 – Go a month without buying anything from any coffee shop (make my own coffee at home).
9 – Graduate from ASU with a bachelor’s degree in English.
10 – Travel somewhere I have never been before.
11 – Visit Salvation Mountain.
12 – Spend a weekend totally unplugged.
13 – Send a postcard to PostSecret.
14 – Read through the entire Bible.
15 – Leave a 100% tip.
16 – Spend an entire month going without takeout/restaurants/cafĂ© food.
17 – Pierce my nose.
18 – Write a will and have it notarized.
19 – Read A Tale of Two Cities.
20 – Have a meal at the French Laundry.
21 – Join a CSA.
22 – Eat strictly vegan for an entire week.
23 – Attempt a Bikram yoga class.
24 – Write a short story and send it out for publication.
25 – Establish a benevolence fund in our budget.
26 – Get pregnant with Baby #2.
27 – Fit into every item of clothing currently in my closet.
28 – Post every day for a month on my blog.
29 – Record a podcast.
30 – Become debt-free (with the exception of student loans).
31 – Own a pair of Swedish Hasbeens.
32 – Find the perfect shade of red lipstick.
33 – Purchase a DSLR camera.
34 – Simplify, simplify, SIMPLIFY!!!
35 – Better learn Illustrator, In Design, and Photoshop.
36 – Save the dollar amount of the week it is for all 1001 days.
37 – Take a picture of A once a week for a year.
38 – Get a puppy for the family!
39 – Learn how to fix a common car issue (i.e. changing the oil, brake pads, tires, etc.).
40 – Find a devotional and stay consistent with it.
41 – Potty-train A.
42 – Sew a quilt.
43 – Read Parenting with Love and Logic.
44 – Open an Etsy shop.
45 – Go a whole week without purchasing anything from or even entering a Target store.
46 – Go on a spending fast (length of time TBD).
47 – Start composting.
48 – Fully finish our home management binder.
49 – Record an original song with J.
50 – Pare down my wardrobe to what is truly essential.
51 – Knit something other than a scarf.
52 – Research and purchase stock.
53 – Sleep underneath the stars (no tent!).
54 – Intentionally observe the Sabbath every week.
55 – Take A to volunteer for a charitable organization, even as an infant.
56 – Commit to using reusable grocery bags.
57 – Actually frame all of the photos and prints that I have wanted to frame for years.
58 – Fully complete the Insanity workout.
59 – Read a total of 101 books (including all listed above).
60 – Take either the GRE or library teaching credential test.
61 – Pray with a homeless person.
62 – Plant a vegetable garden.
63 – Do one perfect pull-up.
64 – Fund a microfinance loan for a resident of a developing country.
65 – Go to bed by 9:00 every night for a full week.
66 – Take a solo overnight trip.
67 – Get a job as a librarian…somewhere.   (04/07/13)
68 – Totally hand-make a dress.
69 – Have a conversation with someone entirely in Spanish.
70 – Give up pleasure reading for Lent.
71 – Go to a movie by myself.
72 – Write an e-book.
73 – Make my own mozzarella cheese.
74 – Send a small gift to a friend for no apparent reason.
75 – Learn how to play chess.
76 – Travel out of state.
77 – Take a hot air balloon ride.
78 – Fast and pray for an entire day.
79 – Make and drink a cocktail I have never had before.
80 – Make a batch of bagels.
81 – Get a pixie cut.
82 – Go zip lining.
83 – Lose 50 pounds.
84 – Puddle-jump with A.
85 – Complete an art journal.
86 – Make blessing bags for the homeless.
87 – Hand-make a fifth anniversary gift for J.
88 – Drive a stick shift in traffic.
89 – Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
90 – Cook my way through an entire cookbook (cookbook TBD).
91 – Surprise J by unexpectedly taking him to a show.
92 – Complete the Posie Gets Cozy ABC embroidery sampler.
93 – Dedicate A at church.
94 – Go on a media fast (length of time TBD).
95 – Make and can my own jam & marinara sauce.
96 – Pray for 20 minutes every single day for an entire month. 
97 – Run a 10-minute mile.
98 – Commit to recycling everything I possibly can.
99 – Teach A his ABCs.
100 – Fill up my gratitude journal.

101 – Live my daily life with complete intention.

*number 91 is blacked out only because it is a surprise for my husband and I know he reads my blog...more regularly than anyone I know!*


never go away!

Loving: all of this rain! I am hoping and praying that it stays for just a little while longer. The forecast says it's supposed to rain 7 out of the next 10 days (!!!), and I really hope that's true. It makes me happier than words can describe.

Making: my own laundry detergent. It is so easy, you guys. So. Easy. works incredibly well. I will never go back to buying laundry detergent again (if you're curious, it's 2 parts Borax, 2 parts washing soda, and 1 part grated Fels Naptha soap all shaken together in a mason jar; use 2 or 3 tablespoons per load of laundry).

Reading: Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters. I don't know why it took me so long to get onboard the Amelia Peabody bandwagon but this series is amazing. There are nineteen novels in the series about an English Egyptologist who solves mysteries with her husband and children. I have always felt a strange connection to North Africa, plus I'm a historical fiction this obviously makes sense.

(I'm only giving credit where credit is due - I borrowed the idea for this feature from the lovely Danielle)

On last year at this time.

one of my prized possessions

Every evening before I go to bed, I write a one-line memory of something that happened that day on my index card calendar. I started doing this in December of 2012, so I already have a full year's worth of memories written on my collection of cards. It's been so fascinating to be able to read exactly what I was doing last year on any particular day, but the line from February 4, 2013 really made my brain spin:

"2013: K. put on temporary bedrest :("

I actually laughed out loud when I read it a few hours ago. The me of today started thinking "Why on earth were you so bummed about being on bedrest??? Dr. H was giving you strict orders to nap, read all the books and watch all the movies you want, and not have to do anything strenuous for at least another month...that is the life!!!!! Are you crazy?!"

The me of exactly a year ago, however, had no experience raising a child, going to school, and running a household simultaneously.

The me of exactly a year ago had no idea what both true productivity and true rest were really like.

The me of exactly a year ago didn't understand what being busy -really, honestly busy- was like.

Last year at this time, I was a mother-in-waiting. I was anticipating my son's arrival in a month or two. I had all of the "stuff" necessary for welcoming a baby into the world. I had read as many books as I could about parenting and caring for newborns.

But I had no real world experience in being a real live mother to a real live baby.

I say all of this to make a point about growth: we are constantly changing, evolving, growing as people...but also as parents. Last year at this time, I was a completely different person. I thought I knew what inconvenience and working hard and time management were all about. I didn't. I'm not saying that you have to be a parent to fully understand these concepts because you don't have to be. But what I am saying is that having my son has matured me in a much different a way that I wasn't expecting at all.

I would give anything to be able to go back to my bedrest days. I should have read more. I should have relaxed more. I should have wished less about making my son hurry up. Not because I don't love him; I absolutely, unequivocally do. But because I didn't enjoy the last little bits and pieces of a less stressed, less hurried, and less productive life.

I'm thinking about what to write for the February 4, 2014 index card entry. I have no idea yet, but I'm sure it will be the polar opposite of last year's.


look at that pumpkin-y deliciousness.

Enjoying: hot tea. All day, every day. It's a complete ritual for me, and one that I look forward to every single day. My current favorites are Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Rooibos and David's Tea's Red Velvet Cake. Throw a little vanilla-infused agave syrup in there and I am done. So delicious.

JK Rowling's (excuse me: Robert Galbreath's) latest book The Cuckoo's Calling. I am a lifetime member of the Rowling Fanatics so I will (and have!) read anything she writes. So far, I'm really enjoying it. It's a murder/suicide-mystery, which is not usually my schtick...but it's JK Rowling. So of course. Right?

Listening to: a really amazing band called Hop Along. They're from the Philadelphia area and they are incredible. Listen to the song "Sister Cities." I dare you to not love it. I've also been loving the new Jose Gonzalez song from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty soundtrack. It's called "Step Out" and it's breathtaking. I'm already a huge Jose fan, so it was kind of a no-brainer that I would fall in love with this song BUT. It's such a step outside (no pun intended) his usual vibe and he pulls it off seamlessly.

Watching: anything that Ricky Gervais touches. I've been re-working my way through The Office, Extras, and most especially An Idiot Abroad. No one makes me laugh like Karl Pilkington. Absolutely no one. If you're having a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day, my tip is to make yourself a cup of tea and watch an episode of An Idiot Abroad. You will instantly feel better. Guaranteed.

Anticipating: J's week-long vacation that's coming up in a few weeks. We have absolutely no idea what to do but we are looking forward to relishing the time together with nothing on our plates. We are thinking about taking A on a train ride. That kid loves a good train.

(the "Currently" feature is borrowed -with complete reverence!- from Danielle)

On how long it has been.

I've been negligent.

I'm so very, very sorry.

The last five months have been crazy: finishing up my degree...keeping up with the pace and merriment of the holiday season...and, of course, A's continual growth and development.

About that:

I am astounded. Quite literally astounded. My little boy is nearly one year old. He is standing up. He is days away from walking alone. He is getting Teeth Nine and Ten. He says "dada" and is thisclose to saying "mama," which breaks my heart in only the best possible way.

The last year has positively flown by. My baby isn't quite a baby anymore. Of course, he'll always be my baby and all of the other sentimental (but true) jargon that goes along with raising a child. But he's practically a little boy. He's vocal, he's mobile, he's tremendously independent. He can feed himself. He can get himself from Point A to Point B without any hassle.

I am so overwhelmingly proud of the person that he's becoming every single day...but I am still overwhelmingly sad that he's becoming that person. It means he needs me a little less every single day, which throws my thoughts and hormones and just my general feelings completely out of whack.

I was talking to my husband last week about how I feel as if I'm in limbo. I feel like I just gained steady footing when it came to parenting an infant, and now that I have that steady footing? My infant is gone, replaced with a walking, talking, fit-throwing toddler.

It is so much for me to wrap my head around that I didn't even know if I wanted to write this post. I had no clue what to say, or if what I wanted to say was worthwhile because it's such a messy knot of emotions. I guess in the long run, it doesn't matter if what I say is coherent or fluid. I am just so pleasantly shocked at how my precious little gift of a child is turning into a little man.

It's just so much to take in.

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I am a wife. A mom. A lifelong student. A lazybones, occasionally. This is where I litter the Internet with my thoughts.
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