Feathered Aspen


Three Lessons

My uncle once told me something that has stuck with me.  We were talking about Dave Eggers, and he was essentially saying that reading the memoir of someone who’s still in their twenties feels premature and pompous.  Like, ah yes, you’ve lived two decades.  Let’s write it down and bind that shit.

It’s similar to those teenage years (or 20s?) when you announce your plans and opinions and everyone, say, even just 18 months older says with sage wisdom, “a lot can change in a year or five or ten.”  And, of course, a lot does change, but that doesn’t mean that hearing that didn’t drive me crazy.

Anyway, all that to say that this post could get a bit memoir-y and to take it all with a grain salt, ok?

Y’all, 2014 was a good year.  One of the best, really.  In the past, I’ve sometimes surfed through my year, always anticipating what was coming next and not quite appreciating what was right before me.  But this year, something changed.  Having Lu, staying home with the girls, and going back to school taught me some lessons, and I want to write them down here.

1) Be the change.  At the risk of devolving into quotes and cliches, this one does sum up my first lesson quite well.  For a while, I had been feeling like people never change and that our baggage is always the same and we find ourselves facing the same challenges over and over again.  And while that might be partially true, I felt so invigorated to find that just as some challenges are stagnant, others are not.  If I don’t like something about myself – something I do, say, etc. – I can change it.  Ex:  I was spending too much time on social media and my phone, so I went on a fast.  When I went back to it after a month, I was much less compulsive about it, and since then whenever I feel myself sliding into uncomfortable territory again, I check out for a couple of days.

2) Positive framing.  Another change I began to implement was trying to concentrate on and verbalize thanks and strengths, while keeping complaints and criticism to myself.  This is an ongoing resolution, and I’m not always successful, but I like it.  It makes me happier.  Another change I associate with this positive framing is asking people more questions.  All too often, I’ve caught myself on some lament or another, complaining and dominating the conversation.  I’ve found that this change has led to better interactions with others, ones that don’t leave me feeling like a jaded harpie.

3) You have everything you need.  My other resolution has to do with stuff.  I’ll probably write a longer post about this in the future, but for now, it’s a learning process.  I’m trying to identify the things that aid and improve my lifestyle, while purging the excess that confuses or weighs me down.  I started with my wardrobe and since then I’ve gotten rid of carloads of stuff.  It feels great to be more conscious of what I possess, what I need and what I want.  I love being able to quantify how much I have, rather than just saying, “I dunno…  Too much.”  The family is onboard too, and there’s plenty more to streamline, but we’ve begun and it feels like one of those philosophies that’s here to stay.  Most of the conversations I have with Joshua circle back to this idea of minimalism, and it’s already shaping our choices.  In fact, in the order of things that I’ve learned, I think this came first and the time and energy that we’re freed up when I began getting rid of stuff went into the lessons I wrote about above.  It’s kind of a beautiful thing, and I’m feeling so grateful for having discovered it.

So that’s it.  Those have been my lessons this past year, and I’m proud of them.  What about you?



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Photos from… Thanksgiving?

So, I know it’s 2015 and all, but I did find some of our photos…IMG_3860 IMG_3864 IMG_3874

Eamon contemplates great works of art looking very dignified.IMG_3877

Best buds.IMG_3888

Lovin’ the saucer.IMG_3889

Mandy and the girls.  Lily makes good faces.IMG_3894

Getting ready to carve the turkey.

IMG_3899 Love this one.  Lu sleeps, Joshua eats a leg.IMG_3935

Climbing in the flatirons.IMG_3936




Such a nice photo :)IMG_3944

Eamon and me.IMG_3979




Lily and Eamon <3




The sibs.  Wish Eamon’s eyes were open :)

IMG_3993Lu poses next to a lovely needlepoint from Grandma Vivienne.


A New Year!

Soooo….  I’m not sure how this happened, but all of my photos since I last posted have disappeared into thin air :(  Here are some from Joshua’s iPhone:IMG_7750 IMG_7760 IMG_7766 IMG_7802 IMG_7841 IMG_7922Aaand I just realized that whatever phantom took all of my photos from November and December, took most of Joshua’s photos too :(

So an update without illustration:


Lu is 6 months!  Unfortunately, we had to take her into the doctor a couple of days in a row because she has an abscess in her cheek, but that also means I can give you her exact weight:  15 lbs.  A month ago, she was 27 inches, which placed her at the very top of the charts in height.  So she’s a skinny, tall little lady.  Although she has some pretty luscious rolls these days.

Lu started sitting on her own in earnest the first week of December.  By now, she’s gotten very good at it, and she’s quite content to sit for longer periods of time with her boppy and toys in front of her.  She’s still as calm as ever, and now when she sees people or makes eye contact, her face lights up in a full grin.  She’s getting more and more vocal, grunting and sighing, singing and making loud ooos and aaaas.

She’s a peaceful little girl as long as her mommy is holding her or nearby, and now that school is out, that’s most of the day.  More recently, she’s on a string of antibiotics to rid her cheek of this abscess, and that is….  Hell.  The first night, it took nearly an hour to give it her, and she screamed hysterically the whole time :(  Were still not sure where she contracted the infection, but we’re thinking maybe she scratched herself?  Ugh.

We gave her avocado for the first time a few days ago.  Her facial expression was pretty displeased.  Other than that, we have TWO new teeth (I guess that’s all she wanted for Christmas), and lotttts of drool ;)  Love this little snuggle bug.


Lily has been over the moon with all of the family that has been here in the past month.  From Grumpy to Lesley to Papa and Granny, she’s had tons of attention from her favorite celebrities.

This year was the first year that Lily was really able to anticipate Christmas.  We sang songs, decorated a tree, and wrapped gifts.  On Christmas Eve, we read to her about the night before Christmas, and in the midst of getting very excited for Santa, she grew quite terrified.  When we got home, we wrote a note to Santa, asking him to leave the gifts out on the porch and please, not to come inside.  The next morning, she woke up with a start and ran out to the front window to see if Santa had eaten the cookies and the reindeer had eaten their carrots…  They had ;)

Lily cleaned up well with four waves of grandparents (so well that we’re already strategizing for more minimal gift-giving policies next year).  A grocery cart and a doll house are the biggest additions, and they’ve already inspired quite a bit of independent play (praise hands).

In other news, we’re now bribing our eldest with spoonful of ice cream for every time she poops in the potty.  You know.  Only the very best parenting going on over here.  But I will tell you:  this has yielded much more success than anything else.

It snowed on Christmas and since then we’ve added more and more powder.  Outside is covered in a thick blanket of white, and we spent a week (Papa spent a week) searching for sleds to no avail (plumb cleaned out).  Finally, we got a sled.  Lily hated the first outing, but we tried again, and she loved it.

The only other new development I can think of is self-regulation.  Lily has been doing a remarkable job calming herself down in the midst of a temper tantrum.  She takes a deep breath, shakes a little bit, and then stops crying.  It’s amazing.

Joshua and Ellie

I finished my first semester of classes in the first week of December.  I worked hard for my A in micro and a little less hard for my A in nutrition, but by the time I was done I was ready to get fantastically sick!  I was more miserable than I’ve been in a while for about five days.

Since then, I’ve been soaking up time with the family, running lots, and reading.  It’s been nice to have a little break.

Joshua had the past two weeks off for the holidays, and although he’s going back this week, he’ll take his last two weeks of paternity after that, so we’re relishing the time off.  He’s been running a lot as well, but I’ll let him update y’all on that.

It’s been a good year.  I slowly cranked out a 2014 letter that we’ll eventually send out, but it’s been full of beginnings and change and good.  I hope y’all had a wonderful holiday season.  Lots of Love, E


Thanksgiving, 5 months, 2 years 8 mos

As Lu gets older, those moments where both of the girls are sleeping are fewer and farther between, but now is one of those lucky times, so I just knocked out the last of my homework for nutrition and now on to a much overdue post!

I had intended to write thirty posts of thanks in homage to this thankful season, and while initially, I had thought that I might be able to check off thirty in the month of November, that proved to be a bit too ambitious.  Nevertheless, the season for thanks is still upon us, so I’m not completely ducking out of the resolution.

Family Update

This past week was wonderful.  My dad, Mandy, Hannah, and Eamon made the drive down to Denver, and we spent four solid days together, including multiple runs, a few walks, Thanksgiving dinner, shabbat, the Art Museum and even a spontaneous nose piercing excursion!  In fact, I ran so much that I’m up to 37 miles for the week!  I can’t remember the last time that happened, and what’s more, I hardly noticed the additional challenge of that increase, because I had such great company.

It’s always good to catch up.  Hannah is about to begin her last semester of her undergraduate, Eamon is a sophomore and excelling in Cross Country, and dad and Mandy are active in the synagogue, running, working long hours, and overseeing a long overdue kitchen renovation.  Rather than getting easier with experience, saying goodbye seems to get harder.  Just think what Lu will look like in two months time!  What will Lily be saying or doing next?  I’m just so grateful that the girls love these guys as much as I do, and watching Lily’s special relationship with Eamon in particular is a treat.

Thankfully, Joshua also had the past week off, and after many long hour s of working on our back two rooms and Sarah’s house, it was a relief to have a bit of time off.


Lu turned five months yesterday!  And it’s true.  Time absolutely flies into hyperdrive with the second baby.  She’s loving her little excersaucer, rolling onto her front and her back, sitting up unassisted for a few seconds at a time, and even responding more her name and our voices.

For a while there at the beginning of her fourth month, Lu’s wakefulness presented a new set of challenges, and Lily definitely noticed the reduction in the amount of time devoted to her.  It felt like Lu never slept during the day and I could hardly put her down.  Thankfully, that stage has begun to ease a bit, and in the past few days I’ve been able to set Lu down for a few naps.

Despite that challenge, Lu is really an easy, happy baby.  She hardly ever cries, endures the knocks and longer periods of independent play required of a second child with grace, and smiles with all the warmth in her little body.  I’m also so thankful that another stage seems to be passing:  she’s taking the bottle from Joshua better than ever, and they’ve seemed to have worked out a special bounce to ease my absence.  Evenings are still a little tricky when I’m in class or otherwise engaged, but they seem to be getting easier.  As much as I enjoy being able to soothe Lu and getting her smiles, I am relieved when I see her relax without me, and I know Joshua can’t wait for their relationship to take on more and more importance.

*Likes:  Rorsie Lion, the crinkle book.  Her play mat and the dangling toys.  Her exersaucer!  The Bjorn and facing out more and more over all the other carriers.  Snuggling with mommy.  Giggling at sister’s antics.  Car rides (hooray!).

*She’ll pass:  on anything other than a quick nurse in the middle of the night, waking up early (she sleeps in until at least 730 most mornings), a pacifier, and startling noises.  Me being gone in the evenings.


Oof!  The beginning of November was challenging with this little girl!  We had temper tantrums, tears, and heartache all around.  It really made me sad to see her struggle, and I felt terrible.  You know.  ‘Cos I’m supposed to be able to prevent that from happening ;)

I really do think this past month has been the hardest thus far in terms of adjusting to life with a little sibling.  Lu demanded more attention than ever before, and Lily definitely noticed.  There was some moments of naughty behavior including poking and biting (!), but I’m so happy to report that Lily’s attitude towards Lu has really shifted in the past couple of weeks.  I credit the exersaucer!  All of a sudden, Lu seems like more of an independent little person to Lily, and Lily will play next to the saucer, singing, dancing, and making Lu laugh.  Nothing makes me happier than watching the two of them lock eyes and communicate.

I’ve also had a chance to see more toddlers in action over the past month, and it really makes me appreciate Lily’s individual personality.  Yes, she has moments of naughtiness when it comes to her sister, but she’s actually showing remarkable poise when it comes to sharing and being gentle.  She listens to me very well, and she’s a great and adventurous eater.  She definitely has pretty intense emotions, but as she learns to communicate more and more, those extremes do seem to lessen.

I’m so thankful for this time with Lily.  Our first conversations are pretty thrilling, and I love hearing what she has to say.  Watching her make believe is a new frontier too, and watching her imitate us makes me feel a new surge of responsibility.

*Likes:  the Children’s Museum, Church (“can we do it again?”) and more specifically, the nursery at church and the other kids there, pushing her stuffed toys in strollers, walks, her “big slippy jacket and boots,” the train, going to the park, and dates with mommy and daddy.  And hot chocolate, of course.  Three books and three songs before bed.  The ABCs.  Practicing with scissors.

*She’ll pass:  on my outfit choices, hats, having her hair brushed, using the big girl potty (:(), fried collard greens, and waking up from nap.

Well, that’s all for now.  Lu just woke up, but it’s good to catch up!  Hope you had a wonderful holiday and gave lots of thanks!

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Every day, family day!

There are a few inches of snow outside, and it’s very, very cold.  For the past couple of days, we’ve been flirting with zero degrees, and our furnace is working extra hard to keep up.  Thank goodness for the asbestos sealing, duct cleaning, and furnace maintenance done just in time!

After a couple of rough weeks with Lily, things have gotten a little bit better.  I’m happy to report that in the past few days we’ve had relatively few tantrums and little miss seems a little happier.  Yesterday, we had a play date at our house, and it was such a relief just to hunker down at home but also have the diversion of friends.  Today, we braved the cold for story time and the toy library, as well as some new books and a little walk in the snow.  Both days, I got to spend some one on one time with Lily, and it really does make all the difference.  Our conversations are so sweet.  They include the names of all our loved ones (“Daddy Joshua.  Mommy Ellie.  Sister Billie.  RaRa Sarah…”  And so on.), the what’s that game, and fantastic day dreams about Costa Rica and Mexico (“Go to Costa Rica in airplane!  Swim with fishies!  Eat bananas like a monkey!  Every day, family day!”).

Despite the temps, I’ve mustered up the courage to go running, and while it’s no small feat of persuasion to get myself to brave the cold, I’ve been rewarded both times with snow crunching beneath my feet and an unparalleled quiet.

Today, I’m thankful for:

1) Winter runs.

2) Vacuumed and scrubbed floors!  Scrubbed kitchen!

3) Indoor play dates.

4) Time alone with each of my girls.

5) Another long weekend with my man coming up.  Sheesh!  We really are so spoiled!


Beautiful Butterfly

Have you ever read The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar?  Of course you have.  So the following story should make sense to you:

I took Lily to Starbucks today.  It was cold and snowing, and I wanted a coffee.  Knowing Lily would be beside herself with a kid’s hot chocolate, I ordered her one.

We’re sitting, sipping our drinks and looking out at the snow.  We’re people watching.  You know, all of the favorites.  When I’m done, I ask Lily if she is too, and she nods solemnly.

“I have a tummy ache,” she says.

“Uh oh,” I say.  “Did you drink too much hot chocolate?”

Lily nods again, and then lights up with an idea.  “I turn into beautiful butterfly?”

Sometimes I’m completely floored by what this little girl comes up with.


It’s been a few days since my last thankful post, but I still intend to do 30.  Today, I’m so thankful for:

1) Warm coats, mittens, hats and socks.

2) Snuggling with Lu on the couch while I did my homework.

3) This past weekend in Moab.  Joshua’s video is SO.GOOD.

4) Having taught.  It’s given me so much perspective.  On learning, on parenting, on growth, on race, on work.

5) The warm bed I’m about to crawl into.


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