beautiful little smudges

I like a clean-ish house.  Maybe that’s why my toddler loves her broom set, even if she doesn’t really use it correctly.

I was rushing around my kitchen this past week, trying to get a good cleaning in between work emails.  I had about 30 minutes before I needed to leave and get Gracie from daycare.  Counters: check, dishes: check, floor: check…and then I stopped.

I saw the smudges on the patio door, and I just couldn’t bring myself to wipe them.  Sure, they are messy…but in them, I saw tiny hands.  Tiny hands with little fingerprints unique to a toddler that was so excited to go outside, or straining to show me the birds just past the glass, she just couldn’t help but leave marks.  These little marks were left as an innocent byproduct of pure joy.

I started to take stock of the other marks in my life that didn’t use to be there.

  • The living room rug smells like clementines because unless you squeeze each piece and step on it, how will you know what happens?
  • The upstairs bathtub needs to be wiped more often, thanks to rowdy nightly splash sessions.
  • The Jeep kind of still smells like vinegar from the last bought with car sickness.
  • I learned very quickly that washable crayons actually work…even when you chew them up and spit them all over the rug.
  • I learned very quickly that washable crayons actually work…even when you color all over your comfiest chair.
  • I discovered that I CAN make finger paint from flour, water, and food coloring.  However, I CAN’T wash out said food coloring.
  • I almost always have another human’s snot on my sleeve.
  • My hairbrushes turn-up missing because they are actually meant to be shoved into the top of the hamper.  Duh.
  • We run out of apples really, really quickly.

Every extra mess that I have to clean, or thing of mine that is lost or changed, exists because the little person that lives with me is learning about the world through trial and error.  Perhaps each mess or mishap isn’t completely random, but instead, is carefully crafted by a brain that is hungry and excited to learn.

It’s hard for me to fully change who I am and how I like things.  I consider myself reasonably neat, and let’s face it, some messes are gross and can’t be ignored.  And yet, things like smudges on our patio doors can probably wait to be wiped…at least for a while.

Maybe next time I see her pressing her little nose and fingers against the glass, I should pause my super important adult stuff and go sit next to her.  Maybe I should let her show me what all the excitement is about.  I’m not sure who said it, but this quote is in the notes section of phone, meant as a warning.  I read it often.  It makes me feel appreciative and terrified all at once.

“Think of the mess as fairy dust.  One day it will go away, and take all the magic with it.”

the day I wanted to blog, but then I didn’t do it

I have had this window open on my phone since SATURDAY.  I haven’t blogged in far too long, and I really wanted to sit down to write.  It’s something I love to do.  So why did an entire Saturday go by without me taking 20 minutes to sit down and write?  I decided to take an inventory of my day.

6:45: Earlier than normal, Gracie wakes in a ferocious fit of tears; she is seriously regretting chucking her paci out of her crib.

6:46: Mommy rescues the paci.  Mommy tries to put Gracie back to bed.  Mommy is so silly to think that would work!

6:47 Mommy realizes that today is a Saturday free of plans.  Mommy realizes how long it has been since she’s blogged.  Mommy vows to make time to blog.

7:05 Persuaded by the all-too-familiar sounds of Disney Jr, ,Mommy decides that today will NOT be wasted in front of the TV.  It’s a gorgeous day, it is necessary to get outside.

8:30 Mommy texts friend to arrange a mommy-baby park date.

9:46 As usual, Mommy is late.

10:30-12:30 Mommy and Gracie meet our friends for some park playtime.  During this time, Mommy decided that TODAY is the perfect day to make Chex mix.  Mommy texts Daddy to ask him to pick up the ingredients.

12:30 Mommy and Gracie head home; Mommy is hoping for an excellent nap from Gracie, so that she can blog, edit photos, make Chex mix, and maybe even nap a little.  Mommy has jinxed the day with these naïve hopes.

1:30 Mommy puts Gracie down for a nap.  Mommy thinks about blogging, but decided to fit in an impromptu yoga session.  Why not?  Gracie will likely nap for hours and hours and hours!  Sweet freedom!

1:50 A huge, earth-shattering poo wakes Gracie far too early.  Mommy rescues Gracie from the poo monster.  Gracie is so happy to see Mommy, she won’t even consider letting Mommy put her down.  Mommy realizes she is pretty wonderful , but this turn of events does thwart her plans.

2:00-3:15 Mommy rocks Gracie, tries several times to put her down unsuccessfully, and Mommy ends up falling asleep in the rocking chair while Gracie watches her sleep.  Sweet irony.  At least one of us napped.

3:17  Mommy throws up the white flag and surrenders to nap-resistant toddler.  Time to make Chex mix.

3:30-7:00  Mommy spends the afternoon making Chex mix, cleaning, vacuuming, and getting ready for out night out with Daddy.  In the meantime, Daddy and Mommy try to occupy the increasingly cranky toddler.  Maybe she should have napped.

7:30 The babysitter arrives, and the most over-tired and goofy toddler on planet earth is persuaded to sleep.  Finally.

8:00-11:30 Mommy and Daddy leave for a much-needed night out in Boston.

12:00 Bedtime arrives, and suddenly, Mommy realizes she did not blog.  Shame on Mommy.

Chronologically outlining my Saturday isn’t depressing so much as it is eye opening.  I’m a list nerd; I find myself looking at how I spent my time and being proud of some moments, while questioning others.  The hour and a half I spent snuggling my cranky toddler was priceless.  The Chex mix could have waited.

I love to write, even if no one reads it.  Each day has a finite amount of hours.  If I spend just 15 minutes a day doing something totally out of the ordinary, totally independent of the daily demands of life, I’m pretty sure I’ll feel pretty awesome.

And if you must know…the Chex mix turned out awesome.

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.