Six months in…

Six months in…

Six months in I’m often getting ask how I’m doing. The whole mom thing, is it good?

Fiona and me six months inThe short answer is, yes. I love being Fiona’s mother. The baby thing comes pretty naturally to me (and I’ve had a lot of practice with 10 nieces and nephews!).

The long answer is, it’s complicated. The mom thing I’m loving. The work thing is great. It’s the combination that’s hard. I’m still figuring out a rhythm to being a working mom. How do I give my all at work and still have enough of me left over for this precious babe and Husband? Left over? What an awful way to word that. My family should be my first priority, Husband and babe come first. But in real life, they come at the end of a long, arduous day.

I managed to get out of the house this morning on time (because I woke up at 5:00), without spit-up on my shirt (this is a miracle), with lunch (yesterday’s because I never had time to eat yesterday), and breakfast already eaten (yay!). I felt like I was on top of it. I dropped Fiona off at her nanny’s and headed into work, where I promptly noticed something white all over my black boots, dust? No, spit-up. Lovely. I’ll clean it off as soon as I get to my office, I thought. But I didn’t. That spit-up went right back home with me at the end of the day. Read more

A Cradle

A Cradle


It’s just a cradle, crafted of dark wood, wobbling slightly as it rocks. The morning light filters in through the linen curtains and shines through the spindles onto the wood floors — shining on the simple cradle like an ethereal light.

But it isn’t just a cradle. It’s an heirloom, memories. It’s a promise, the future.

My brothers and I were all rocked to sleep in this very cradle. Then it help my nieces and nephews when they were tiny bundles. Now it holds my precious Fiona.

I place her in the cradle at night, pulling it close to my bedside where I can see her and reach her. I watch her through those wooden spindles. I watch her face and all the many expressions. I listen to her grunts and coos and cries. I reach over and gently rock the cradle. I place a hand on my babe, I replace her pacifier.

In the middle of the night, I pull her from the cradle and nurse her before placing her back in the safety of the cradle.

I wonder how many more children will sleep here. More of my own children perhaps, my youngest brother’s as well? What about further into the future? Will Fiona’s first child sleep in it? Will she rock her own daughter to sleep in this same wooden cradle?

It’s the beauty of heirlooms — this cradle isn’t just a cradle, it is memories, it is promises.

{Moments of Inspiration}

{Moments of Inspiration}

“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them;
for those experiences have left an indelible impression,
and we are ever and anon reminded of them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau

So many moments of inspiration this week after spending several days with all my nieces and nephews in a two-room cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky.

So many “moments of inspiration” this week after spending several days
with all my nieces and nephews in a two-room cabin in the backwoods of Kentucky.

{Memories} My first dance

{Memories} My first dance

You know what sticks out to me the most about my very first school dance? It’s not the dress or the music or the dancing or the decorations or the school friends. It’s my sister-in-law.

I was in eighth grade, the big end-of-year school dance was supposed to be preparatory for high school. My mom doesn’t do hair or makeup or other girly things like that (although she did help me choose the dress!), so we invited my brother’s girlfriend, K, over. K must have been a senior at that point. She curled and pinned up my hair, helped me put on makeup (even at 13 or whatever age I was, I wasn’t much into makeup). And the thing that stands out the most in my memory is that K brought me a pair of heels to borrow.

It was just like having a real sister, which was nothing short of a dream come true for me. So, K, thank you. And thank you for continuing to be there in the big a little moments of my life.

Dress shoes

Family and Once in a Lifetime

Family and Once in a Lifetime

Georgetown University

Recently, I headed up to Washington, D.C. (Georgetown University) to celebrate my youngest big brother’s graduation from law school — one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that you just don’t want to miss. The weekend was full of friends, family and lots of conversation.

I consider my family to be pretty close, but the reality is that we just don’t see each other often enough. My mom recently remarked that while they it was their intention to raise independent and adventurous children, they hadn’t really considered the fact that we would be independent and adventurous adults. Today, we’re all living in the Eastern half of the United States, so we’re a lot closer than we have been in years past!

Graduate and nieces

But lives are busy, distance is great and time passes all too quickly. I’m so grateful for events like this that keep us getting together, even if it’s not all the time.

We were definitely missing John, the oldest.

And I’m ever so glad that my middle brother and his family were able to come home with me for a few days. I haven’t really received visits from my siblings while in college, or grad school, or since my wedding. So it was delightful to have my first visit in our new home. I even managed to get a day off of work to spend in Williamsburg with my nieces and nephew. It was such a delight!

These moments remind me what I so love about our family. And inspire me to make a greater effort toward spending time with them.

Williamsburg with the littles.

{Memories} Valentine’s Day

{Memories} Valentine’s Day

We always celebrated Valentine’s Day in our home, although it wasn’t at all about romance and it was completely about love and the people we love.

We would do the traditional boxes of valentines for school, and my dad always gave me a real, store-bought, Hallmark card (which was VERY special). My mom would bake the greatest heart cookies. I would set the table with the best china and real silver, a piece of chocolate at everyone’s place. And we would eat a fancy meal together, the finale being Cherries Jubilee for dessert. (Granted, Mom didn’t flambé the whole thing, just a single sugar cube on the top of each, but setting our food on fire was a huge highlight.)

Valentine’s Day was a family holiday. A special day to show those we love just how much we care. A time in the middle of a normal (even dreary) month to be together and celebrate togetherness.

I think I like that part best.


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Adventure: DC (take 2)

Adventure: DC (take 2)

Apparently it’s a February tradition, we make a whirlwind weekend trip to DC to visit family and see the sights. I wish we could do it more often, but once a year is better than none. This time, we hit the National Zoo, Eden Center (for Vietnamese food), a couple REIs, LL Bean and Ikea, and Scott’s Run Nature Preserve.

National Zoo

National Zoo

Vietnamese food


National Zoo

National Zoo

Scott's Run Nature Preserve

Scott's Run Nature Preserve

Scott's Run Nature Preserve

There’s so much more to do and see in DC. I can’t wait for the next visit…

{Memories} Train Day

{Memories} Train Day

My parents visited about a month ago. Although it was early in November, this was their “holiday” visit so we packed the four days full of fall and holiday things, including a much anticipated bike day and a mini-version of a longstanding family tradition — train day.

The Drakes always had a large train set-up, from long before I was born. Every year at the start of the holidays we would gather all our boxes, pulling treasures out of packing peanuts. We would reminisce over different buildings and special pieces — special exclamations reserved for those pieces each of us had worked so hard on. Amid the unpacking we would also visit a “train store” and choose new model kits, replenish our stock of paints and brushes, and purchase any tiny (and extremely expensive) mechanical pieces we needed to get things going again.

Train day always meant that we covered the longest table we owned with newspaper or dropcloth, filled it with paints, paper plates, and paper towels. We would play Christmas music all day long and work through the painstakingly slow process of painting and prepping tiny plastic pieces to be glued together into a house or municipal building or barn.

We would gather our creative juices and create ice skating ponds, Christmas tree lots, camping spots and (best of all) an entire papier-mâché mountain complete with a working ski lift. It was messy and tedious and fun. We would order Chinese food and when it arrived take a bit of a break to settle our hungry stomachs. But it wasn’t long before we were back at it again, working late into the night.

I still remember my very first “model”. Too young to really be able to manipulate the tiny pieces required for HO scale models, my dad took me aside and helped me build a tiny cabin out of matchsticks. I still remember that year and the care and attention and time my father spent helping me with that little building — taking time away from his own projects.

Today, that little matchstick cabin sits on my own train set.

Matchstick cabin

Yep, I have one too. When my oldest brother married, my parents began the tradition of giving a train and starter track for each couple’s first married Christmas. I received mine December of 2010, when we had been married just three months.

Since then, Husband and I have visited a train store every holiday, often selecting a pre-built model simply because we didn’t have the resources to purchase all the paints and knives and special glues required to build our own.

This year, when my parents visited, they gifted us a brand new starter kit of paints etc., purchased our 2013 model and we spent two entire evenings building models. It was simply delightful.

Dad even built us a platform for our train (because when it’s on the floor, Ginger believes it is her job to attack it).

Model trains at Christmastime

I know model trains are new to Husband, and it might not garner quite the same allure for him as it has for me. Our family may not spend quite so much time, money and creative energy on trains. But I do believe we can pass on this love of model trains to our children someday.

In fact, one of these days my parents plan to hold an auction (with Monopoly money) to allow us to bid on pieces from their massive collection built over the course of our childhoods. What a fun day that will be!

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Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea

I’ve been struggling lately. I think my writing here reflects that.

Struggling with barely celebrating the holidays. Struggling with moving, again. Struggling with the desire to have a space of our own. Struggling with the whole home-buying process. And, of course, still struggling with loss.

There’s packing, cleaning, to-do lists and not enough hours in a day. But there isn’t a lot of Christmas for me this year.

It’s been tough.

But I’m tired of being tired of life.

The other night, Husband and I were exhausted and it was probably only 7:00. I made myself some peppermint tea, because that it my go-to solution for just about everything these days. I made a cup for Husband too.

It reminded me of a conversation I had about a decade ago. I was 16 or 17, talking to my brother’s then-girlfriend about guys. She was always trying to set me up with someone or another and I wasn’t having any part of it.

I remember telling her that I wanted to marry someone who could cook, because I hated cooking. And, to top that, he had to drink peppermint tea, because I love peppermint tea.

She looked at me askance. Cook? Drink peppermint tea?!

But you know what, Husband does both of those things and so many more.

So, even when life is more than I can handle and I’m tired through and through, I have to remember that I am blessed.

Blessed to be married to the perfect-for-me Husband. Blessed to have the life we do. Blessed to have my horse just a short drive away. Blessed to cuddle with a pup every cold evening. Blessed to have a job to go to every morning, and a safe, warm place to rest every night. Blessed to sip peppermint tea with Husband.

Hot tea

{Memories} a series

{Memories} a series

I have been thinking lately that I want to record some of the wonderful memories and traditions of my childhood. I have, at times, written out various important mementos of my childhood, but they are scattered and often inaccessible.

I want to record them for my own sake. For my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my own “someday” children. I want the loveliness preserved and also revisited. I would love to be able to read my memories to my children even as we create our own.

So in this {Memories} series, I’d like to just remember. Remember those beautiful things. And, honestly, they may not mean much to others, but I will write them for myself — because I feel drawn to.

The things I will record are those things that have been woven into the fabric of who I am. And, I hope, will show my children someday where they come from. It is memory, but it is also identity. And I believe it is worth recording.

Read my {Memories}