Husband sends me a photo of our daughter picking grapes off the vines that are finally ripe. Her plump little hands grasping for the plump little fruit. This.

Baby riding in a peach basket.

It’s time to feed the animals, so I take my daughter out to the barn with me. She knows what to do. First she drops pellets of chicken feed one. at. a. time. (The chickens don’t get impatient like Mama does.) Then she runs for the bag of goat feed that she can reach all by herself, grabs a fistful and takes it to Jane. She’s not afraid of that goat anymore. She’s a big girl now. This. Read more

Unexpected revelations of sponsoring a Compassion child

Unexpected revelations of sponsoring a Compassion child

Esther and her mamaCompassion International was a name that I knew well as a child. Our youth group sponsored a “Compassion child”, my brother and his girlfriend “adopted” a Compassion child. When I was a teenager and traveled to Ecuador, I too selected a Compassion child — a girl named Katherine.

I wrote her letters, sent her photos and postcards. I wanted to connect with her. I even got to meet Katherine once, and her brother and mother and aunt. Katherine graduated several years ago. I hope and pray her education is serving her well.

By that time, I had come across the idea of selecting a child the same age and gender, perhaps with the same birthday, as your own child so they can be pen pals. Though I didn’t have any children of my own yet, I thought this was a brilliant idea as it could also help teach privileged children that they are really more like impoverished children than different. It can teach children in a self-centered culture about other parts of the world. It can expand horizons and develop character.

After Fiona was born, we found a little girl born on the same day in Uganda and immediately signed up to sponsor her. Her name is Esther. Read more

Adventure: OBX

Adventure: OBX

Adventure in the Outer Banks with a toddler.

We may need to redefine “adventure” to include the intricacies of traveling with a toddler. Seriously, it’s not for the faint of heart!

Over the long Memorial Day weekend, we took our little family to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for some surf and sand. It was our first time camping at Frisco Campground (in Frisco, NC, just North of Hatteras Village). We fell hard for this campground! We’ve always camped at Oregon Inlet, which is nice, and shied away from most other campgrounds in OBX because they are basically large fields of grass/sand without any privacy, shade, or topography of interest. This is not the case at Frisco! This campground was full of dunes (which made biking a fun challenge), some sites are perfect for tenting in a little nook, others have a high vantage point with a beautiful view. We selected one that backed up to some scrub brush that provided a bit of shade and wind protection. Read more

Favorite Products

Favorite Products

My favorite beauty products.For a long time, I’ve been striving to simplify my life, including my “beauty routine” (whatever that is). Simultaneously, I’m trying to use fewer synthetic and potentially harmful chemicals and instead fine natural replacements that work as well or better.

I so appreciated reading about what other real people are using and loving, especially knowing that I wasn’t looking at advertising, or even bloggers receiving perks. So, in that vein, I thought I’d throw this out there; here are a few of my favorite beauty products!

  1. Simple Foaming Cleanser
  2. This doesn’t dry out my face too much (no squeaky clean feeling!), but it definitely gets me feeling fresh and free of the day’s troubles. Read more

I’m not the only mom

I’m not the only mom

Fiona holding honeysuckle

Being a working mom is … hard. Some days are harder than others. Like this week.

We’re going through some transitions as a family right now, and every single one of them affects Fiona. At 15 months, she’s hanging in there so well. But it’s hard. On top of it all, she’s been sick, there was a family wedding that had us traveling and kept us up late too many nights in a row, she had another round of vaccinations at her most recent well checkup, she’s teething, etc. etc. etc. You get it. I’m not the only mom going through these things right now.

I feel awful that I can’t be with her every step of the way through these transitions. She cries for me, her mama, and I’m not there.

I’m missing out on so many of the good things too. So many firsts. Her first trip to the zoo. Her first time strawberry picking. It devastates me that I can’t be there. But I would never deprive her of those wonderful memories that she can make with other friends and family who love her dearly.

And so I find myself trying to work, while my heart breaks a little and my mind wanders to my precious daughter. Read more

Morning Chores

Morning Chores

Fiona does chores, feeds chickens and collects eggs

It was 10 minutes before I had to be out the door for work. The baby had been up several times throughout the night (teething) and I was tired. Husband had made me a cup of tea and a breakfast sandwich to go. Since I was ready early (solely because I didn’t have enough time to shower), I thought I might indulge in eating at home instead of on the run.

“Why don’t you take Fiona out to feed this morning?” Husband prodded.

(I used to do all the feedings of our animals. But when I was pregnant, I had severe nausea and fatigue and struggled to make it into work each day, so Husband took over. His work day is more flexible than mine anyway. When I went back to work after my maternity leave, I was the one juggling Fiona’s drop-off each morning, so while I hurried out the door with more bags than I could count (laptop bag, purse, lunch, bottle bag with empty bottles for me, bottle bag with full bottles for her, diaper bag, etc.), Husband continued to feed.)

When he suggested I feed this morning, my first thought was “you’ve got to be kidding me”. Read more

A Select Few

Fiona's first Easter egg hunt.

“Did you dye eggs with Fiona?” I was asked today. My heart lurched.

We’re approaching Fiona’s second Easter, and I’m once again facing the question of what traditions to partake in. I love traditions. Really love them. So it’s hard for me to step back and acknowledge that I can’t do everything with Fiona.

But I can’t. I’m a working mom. I commute for over 2 hours every day. I just can’t do it all. I need to be okay with that.

“No,” I replied hesitantly. Was I letting my daughter down by not giving her this special activity? “I have limited time. I had to choose what to do.” Read more

Creating sensory memories

Creating sensory memories

Walking the baby down our country road
As we’ve come around to one year since my maternity leave, I’m realizing how acute my sensory memories of that time are.

Sound: Anne Bogel’s voice while listening to the podcast “What Should I Read Next” (newly discovered during my maternity leave) and narrator Hillary Huber from listening to the audio version of Katherine Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightley, the first audio book I attempted on my leave (which is when I rediscovered audio books).

Taste: Spinach salad with craisins, walnuts, avocado, blueberries and an olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing that I ate almost every day for lunch. Also, the Adventure Trail Mix from Aldi that got me through all the late night feedings.

Smell: New baby, of course. Also, spit up. And the dirty diaper of an exclusively breastfed baby, which I’ve heard likened to buttered popcorn.

Feel: The feel of my CityMini Jogger handlebar bouncing along the gravel road during my daily walk. Read more

Belly Laughs

Belly Laughs

Fiona belly laughing

The beauty of a one-year-old is that they don’t care if they are wearing mismatched clothes. They don’t care if they are covered in dog hair (after gleefully stealing the best spot in the house in the center of the dog bed). They don’t care if they have snot dried under their nose, or pizza sauce on their cheeks. It doesn’t matter. They aren’t self-conscious.

I had a choice yesterday to embrace the joy and freedom of that attitude, or shut down under the embarrassment and shame of our culture. While nursing, Fiona realized she could lift my camisole and see my belly. Oh, she thought this was the best thing ever. She could lift and lower my shirt, exposing and concealing the one part of me that still bears the signs of pregnancy. Squishier than it used to be, stretch marks marring my once-smooth skin. Delighted with her new game, she started poking my belly.

I had a choice — tell her no, pull my shirt back down, teach her to be ashamed of such things. Or, play back. Read more



Fiona in the Spring

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

It’s a verse I’ve heard since my youth, one I have often striven for to varying degrees. Contentment remains…elusive, though. In fact, I believe contentment looks different in varying phases of life. The lessons learned about contentment as a single 21-year-old are useful, but different than the lessons in contentment as a wife and mother in my 30s.

We have done a lot of growing, a lot of striving. We have purchased a house, moved up in our careers, made significant changes, renovated a home, had a baby, and so much more. While all of these are good things, they aren’t centered on contentment (though they are not inherently opposed to it either).

As I moved into this new year, as I continue to learn what it means to be a working mom, as I strive to balance my life and my career, I feel a call toward contentment. Read more