i’ve just been thinking


I haven’t blogged in a while, and the only reason I can think of (besides being busy) is that I’ve been digesting everything that’s happened.  So much has changed in the last month, it’s been a lot to take in.  Gracie turned one, I turned 30, we celebrated Mother’s Day, and I ran my first half marathon since baby.

Photo by Laura Wagner Photography

Almost half of what I was looking forward to in 2016 happened in the span of a few weeks.  And yet, although change is often scary, I truly feel relieved to slow down.  I’m glad to have taken time to take it all in.  I feel relieved that the build-up is over.

I just turned 30, and I already like this decade more than my 20s.  I feel settled,more confident, and I care less about a lot of stuff.  It’s almost like someone flipped a switch. It’s refreshing.

Gracie turned 1, and I didn’t turn into a pile of nostalgic mush.  I only cried like twice.  In fact, I love having a one year old.  I love saying “my toddler.”  I love feeling proud as I look back at the highs and lows of the past year.  I love watching her toddle around on her one-year-old legs, taking steps like a champ.

Photo by Laura Wagner Photography
Photo by Laura Wagner Photography

I ran my first half since baby (on my birthday), and my legs didn’t fall off.  In fact, it went even better than I had hoped.  Not only did I gift myself a shiny new PR, but I enjoyed the race so much!  While I still love running, I love a lot of other stuff now too.  It was nice to see that I could focus more on life, less on running, and still accomplish my goals.

I celebrated my third Mother’s Day since Darla, and it was still emotional and wonderful and beautiful.  I felt the slight pains in my heart when I remembered my lost daughter, and I felt the unbelievable feelings of wholeness when I got sloppy kisses from my Gracie Kate.  I felt special, appreciated, and loved by my little family.  More than last year, when I was so unsure about caring for a newborn, I felt confident in my role as Mom. 


When I look back at this last month, I feel like pinching myself.  This season in life has been bountiful, sometimes challenging, and always beautiful.  It’s not perfect, but who would want that?  As things quiet down, it’s the perfect time for me to just sit back and be thankful.  I’m just so thankful.

Hello, Summer!  Let’s do this.


on your birthday eve


Gracie Kate, where has this year gone?  I still remember the feeling of your newborn body cozied into me, sleeping the day away.  They say “Don’t blink, you’ll miss it.” I tried to drink it all in, and yet, it passed just the same.  
These days, I have to chase you down for a kiss!  I have to hide anything with buttons.  I cannot vacuum alone, and anything with a cord is the best toy you’ve ever seen.  You are in love with the world, and I have a front-row seat.

I don’t know how I am so lucky to be your Mommy.  I’m blessed that you grew inside of me for 9 months, and that now, you are experiencing the world with me.  Everything is new again!  I haven’t looked so closely at a leaf/my hands/the floor/door hinges in ages!  Sticks certainly are awesome, and daddy’s glasses ARE fun to throw down the stairs!

You are bringing out the best in me, the best in dad, and the best in everything you touch.  I may not get to snuggle you quite as much anymore, but I love watching you grow.  I love watching you take risks and try new things.  I’m here when you need someone to cushion your fall, or tell you why the cat is not a toy (“She has sharp fingers”), or rock you to sleep.  As long as you’ll have me, and even after you don’t need me, I’ll always be here.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss your tiny snuggles, but I love your sloppy big-kid kisses.  This past year has been different than I thought it would be: more challenging, more smelly, more confusing, and yet, more perfect than I think I deserve.  

Keep shining, sweet one!  You have the brightest soul I know.  

Our Midwest Adventure


Although we currently reside in New England, Jon and I are rooted in the Midwest.  I grew up in Michigan, and Jon has lived in both Minnesota and Michigan.  Since Gracie has been born, we have been excited to take a trip back.  These past few weeks, we finally were able to do so.

Our trip started in Minneapolis, with a visit to Jon’s parents.  Gracie’s first plane ride from Boston to Minneapolis was fairly uneventful.  We spent a week touring the twin cities, and we loved every second!  Here are some of our Minnesota memories:

Gracie met her Great Grandma.
She also met her Great Grandpa.
Gracie got to meet lots of Jon’s extended family.


Gracie loved seeing all the animals at Como Zoo.
She road her first ride at the Mall of America.  Pardon the picture quality, she was going too fast!!
Gracie couldn’t get enough of the water tables at the Minnesota Children’s Museum.

On Good Friday, we continued on to Michigan to visit my family in Bay City.  It had been a while since I’d been home, and I was so excited to visit some of the new places in my growing hometown.  Easter was also the first holiday that Gracie was able to spend with extended family.  Here are some of our Michigan moments:

Gracie found her first Easter basket and celebrated in the house I grew up in.
She also got to meet a lot of my extended family.

She loved the swings…
…and the slide on the playground at our local State Park.


Our little fish loved the pool at the local YMCA.

It was so special to spend time with Gracie on the campus of the University of Michigan, where Jon and I met 9 years ago.

Traveling with a baby was not nearly as difficult as I had feared.  Sure, I started making a packing list in January and our checked baggage fees tripled.  Yet, I loved embarking on our first big adventure as a small family.  I loved sharing our daughter with the family and friends that love us.  I love all the changes I saw in Gracie this trip, and I gained a new appreciation for the brave and flexible personality she has.  I loved spending time enjoying our daughter, without worrying about work or the house…I loved being home.

friday five: breakfast, lunch, and dinner


Even though I’ve always loved to eat, lately life has seemed to be even more food-focused than normal.  Gracie is trying all kinds of new solid foods, and I’m always looking for new options to pair with her purees.  In fact, I always have baby food on the brain, now that we are brand ambassadors for Beech-Nut.  Additionally, I have been trying to get smarter with our grown-up meal planning.  In light of all of this, and true to form, most of this Friday Five is also focused on food.  Yum.

1. Breakfast with Baby

Two Saturdays ago, Gracie and I hosted a breakfast with some of our baby/mommy friends at our house.  It was super fun!  We took the opportunity to share some of our Beech-Nut goodies with our buddies, including samples and lots of coupons.  After lots of tasting for the babies, it was time for some yogurt parfaits and baked-egg casserole for the mommies.  We loved hosting and sharing the love from our favorite baby food with our friends.  We are looking forward to hosting again in April!


2. Treat Yo-self

Although not related to food, I had to share my latest non-sweet treat.  Recently, my sister become a merchandiser with Chloe and Isabel; I finally treated myself the cocktail ring that I have been eyeing for over a year now.  I could not be more thrilled with my purchase!  I ordered a size up, as I was looking for something to wear on my index finger.  It is perfect for dressing up, but looks cute with my yoga pants and hoodies.  I highly recommend checking out her boutique!


3. Freezer Meal Dinner Exchange

Last Sunday afternoon, I met with five other mommies to trade freezer meals and baby stories. What a great afternoon!  In exchange for a massive quantity of broccoli cheddar soup, I came home with: chicken cacciatore, cilantro lime chicken, black bean taco soup, burritos, and macaroni and cheese.  I love opening my freezer admiring my arsenal of perfectly-portioned dinners for nights that I don’t want to cook, or nights when I don’t have time to cook.  I am starting seriously to wonder why I didn’t do this sooner!

4. Spiralizing For Lunch

About a year ago, I purchased my first spiralizer, and I’m ashamed to admit that it took me this long to take it out of the box!  Now that it’s out and I am spiralizing like a fool, I wish I’d done it sooner!  Freezer meals and Zoodles…who knew?

After a failed lunch salad creation of my own, I was about to give up on lunch, when I came across this recipe from Skinnytaste on social media: Spiralized Raw Zucchini Salad with Avocado and Edamame.  I tried it once, and I’ve made it several days since.  I am hooked!

Do yourself a favor and check it out!  You will not be sorry.

5. 10 Months Old

This has nothing to do with food, other than the fact that I am constantly feeding this hungry, hungry baby.  However, it seemed fitting to end by talking about the sweetest person I know.  Gracie Kate turned 10 months old on leap day!  It’s so exciting to watch her personality continue unfolding.  She is hilarious!  I love all of her noises, her curious nature, and her persistence.

Gracie is standing now without much assistance, and she wants to walk…badly.  She loves to explore her dresser drawers, and this is best accomplished by completely emptying them.  She loves books, they keep her busy for hours.  She continues to work on her relationship with the cat, and Lady is warming up to her even more.

She loves to give mommy and daddy big, sloppy kisses and is such a cuddly little bug.  We love our silly, hungry, sweet, and strong baby girl!


This Friday, I linked up with:

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9 months in, 9 months out


This post has been brewing for a while now, effectively since you were born, and definitely since you crossed the 9-month threshold.  Suddenly, you have been alive in the world longer than you were alive inside of me.  Just as the first days of pregnancy looked nothing like the last moments, life now looks nothing like it did during your earliest days.

Photo credit: Laura Wagner Photography


Life has changed

Things take more planning these days.  We used to be able to drop everything and go on a weekend adventure.  Now, a quick trip to the supermarket takes a fair amount planning.  When did you last eat?  When were you last changed?  When was your last nap?  We can take you most anywhere, with the right gear, but we can’t always stay long.  You’re the boss, but you’re a fair boss…your employees like you a lot.

My daily schedule makes more sense.  I used to wake up on a Saturday after 10, hang out, start some random project around the house, and find myself still in my pajamas at 2.  These days, we wake up at 7.  There is a morning nap that signals the beginning of afternoon, and an afternoon nap the signals the beginning of evening.  You have a bedtime.  I eat lunch.  Although different and chaotic at times, our days have purpose.  I have to get up, I am needed.


You have changed

You used to always want me to nurse you to sleep,  Lately, you don’t always need it.  Some nights, you point to your crib, I put you down, and you fall asleep alone.  While it makes me happy to see you becoming more independent, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t having a hard time letting go of your tiny days.

Still, it’s so exciting to get to know you.  Every day that passes is like unwrapping a little present.  We learn more about you.  You know what you like, and you know what you don’t like.  Things make you laugh, and the sound of your belly laugh makes my heart skip a beat.  You are careful, yet curious.  You love to explore, and yet, you usually check back in with me after a few minutes away.  You are sweet, kind, and you try so hard to be gentle with the cat.  We will continue to work on that.

You are exactly how I hoped you’d be, and yet, I couldn’t have imagined this.


I have changed 

I’v heard it described before that babies are the “great levers.”  They come into the world and completely level everything, leaving our Pinterest-perfect nurseries in shambles.  Once we are humbled, instead of including baby into our old lives, we build new lives.  These lives are simpler, and more joyful, as they include baby.  We dance delicately around the fact that nothing will ever be the same, and we feel guilty if we yearn for the life we once knew.  It’s normal to miss pre-baby freedom, yet still love your child to pieces.

As time passes and things fall into place.  I realize that I am strong, and as a couple, we are strong.  We can operate on 4 hours of sleep, we can meet your needs, and we can handle all the poop.  We can be a mommy and a daddy, and we can find joy in the simplest nuisances of every day.  Suddenly, our new life is brimming with new love, and I don’t really remember how we lived without you.

That’s where we are now.  I’ve never been loved like this before.

It’s amazing.


Lately, I keep making the mistake of saying that “time is going by so fast.”  It’s not, that’s impossible.  Technically, time will always pass at the same speed.  Instead, I am just more aware of time as it passes, and I wish I could slow it down.  You will keep growing and keep changing into a little person, and eventually, a big person.

I couldn’t feel more privileged to have a front row seat.



crispy kale chips


After a weekend of cheat days and indulging, I wanted to share this savory recipe for crispy kale chips.  I love this recipe because it utilizes a superfood (kale), and it works with literally any seasoning, making it easy to customize!  I’ve made these chips a few times now, using a new spice blend each time, and they always come out awesome.

crispy kale chips


  • 1 bunch or large bag of kale
  • olive oil (or olive oil cooking spray)
  • salt & pepper, or any blend of spices
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash and dry the kale.  It’s really important to get the kale as dry as possible: let it sit in a colander for an hour, and blot with paper towel, if need be.  The drier the kale, the crispier the chips.IMG_3470
  3. If you are using a bunch of kale, chop it into manageable pieces.
  4. In a large bowl, drizzle the kale with olive oil (don’t overdo it!).  Toss the kale in the olive oil.  For a more even coating, using olive oil cooking spray or a Misto oil mister.IMG_3473
  5. On 1-2 baking sheets lined with aluminum foil, spread your kale and sprinkle with salt and pepper, or your spice blend.  I have used Lawry’s, as well as a Chicago Steak Seasoning, and they were both awesome!
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes, depending on how crispy you want your chips.  If you used two pans, stir and rotate halfway thorough.  I like my chips close to burnt, so I sometimes baked them slightly over 20 minutes.
  7. Remove, let cool, and enjoy!IMG_3480


The only downside (if you can call it a downside): you’ll eat way more kale than you may be used to.  These never last long at my house, and writing this makes me want more…even though it’s super early.

I linked up this post for Foodie Friday!


friday five: beech-nut & baby-booking 


Sometimes you have weeks when your baby naps great, and sometimes you have weeks like this week.  While still her usual chipper self, Gracie seems to be going through some sleep changes that are making her daytime naps shorter and more sporadic.  She is still napping, however, it’s tough to get her naps to last.  I think it’s a combination of her sleep patterns changing (at 9 months), and having fun practicing standing.

Despite the slight shake-up in our schedules, we managed to have a really busy and productive week.  Today, I am recapping some memories in this Friday Five.

ONE: Our Ambassadorship Began


Thursday marked the beginning of our new and exciting journey with Beech-Nut baby food as brand ambassadors.  It was so motivating to connect with brand ambassadors across the country during our call.  I am so ready to share our love for this product line with Boston and the Northshore.

I became a devoted fan of Beech-Nut when it came time to start introducing solid foods.  I didn’t know what Gracie would like, and rather than make a huge batch of something she would potentially hate, I decided to start with store-bought food.  I initially purchased a different brand.  After tasting it and noticing that real bananas did NOT taste like what I was eating, I read the ingredients to find a lot more than just bananas.  I threw out the plastic tub and went in search of something better.

During my next trip to the store, I was relieved to read the ingredients on the Beech-Nut jars.  I started with “Just Honeycrisp Apples,” which contained JUST Honeycrisp Apples.  After a few tastes, I was hooked…and so was Gracie.  Working from home full-time doesn’t allow me much time to make my own food.  I try, but I can’t always do it.  I am so grateful to have the option to give Gracie something that is typically better than what I could make, with more variety and convenience.

So, look out Boston/the Northshore!  We are coming for you…and we’ve got samples!

TWO: First Time Sledding


 On Monday, while we still actually had some snow, Jon took Gracie on her very first sled ride this week.  Most of it melted the next day.  It’s crazy to think that this time last year, Juno had just dumped the first of what turned out to be a record-breaking season of snow.  As I type this, I look out the window and I can see our grass.

Don’t get me wrong, last year was exhausting.  Yet, while we don’t need to be breaking any records (again), it would be nice to get a little more use out of our sleds and snowsuits.  Maybe February will be the month that we actually need the snowblower, we will see.

THREE: Baby Book-ing


I am proud of myself: on Wednesday evening, I pulled out the ever-neglected baby book and spent about half an hour writing in it.  While it doesn’t seem like much, it was huge for me.  Everything is going so fast, and I often feel like we are too busy living to write about it.  I need to consciously make more time to keep updating her baby book; even once a month would be an improvement.

FOUR: Roasted Chickpeas


In an effort to clean-up my diet after the holidays, I made these Roasted Chickpeas from Skinnytaste and they turned out fantastic.  I only have a little “before” picture, because we ate them ALL before I could take an “after” picture.  I used one of our jarred spice blends (Chicago Steak Seasoning), however I’m sure the blend she describes would be equally as fantastic.  I am positively making these again, just as soon as we get more garbanzo beans.

FIVE: Makin’ Birthday Plans

I turn 30 at the beginning of May, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do to celebrate.  Because our baby is still so tiny, it would be easier to stick close to home.  Plus, I’d like to spend it with her!

So imagine my surprise when Wednesday night, in my Facebook feed, I found the perfect solution: at my favorite local beach, on my birthday, sponsored by one of my favorite local breweries…the Ipswich Ale Half-Marathon popped up!  It was my goal to run a Spring half-marathon, and so this race seems like an obvious way to spend my 30th birthday.  It’s the first year for this race, and limited to a field of 400.  I signed up as quickly as I could!  I am SO looking forward to it!

That pretty much wraps up our crazy busy week on “team no-nap.”

Still, I’m loving all the changes with our baby.  She turns 9 months old today, it’s all going so fast.  As the saying goes: “It’s just a phase, so don’t miss it.”

This Friday, I linked up with:

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