Feathered Aspen


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.


Something new


Lu’s doing pretty well with her tummy time, especially considering how rarely I make her do it ;)

photo 1

Lily played independently!  It was such a relief, I had to spy a little bit.  Overheard while spying:  “That’s not very nice.  That’s kind of rude.”

photo 2

And then in the car on the way to the library this morning, Lily says, “What’s that, Mommy?”

“It’s called classical music,” I say.

“I like this.  I like classical music,” Lily says.

“Me too.  It’s very beautiful.”

“Very beautiful,” Lily whispers to herself.

I asked Lily if she would be interested in going to a concert someday to listen to classical music, and she said yes.  When we got back in the car after the library and the playground, Lily says, “listen to classical music, Mommy.  Go to concert someday.”

photo 3

This is us.  This is how we roll.  Lu snuggled up and Lily holding my hand.  “What’s this, Mommy?”

This is the part I love.


On to thanks:

With all of the changes in the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to get out of some old routines and make new ones.  I think that as I become accustomed to a certain way of living and behaving, it’s easy to feel stuck.  When I was teaching, I often felt like a passenger.  I was moving, but I wasn’t the one doing the moving.

These days, I’m in the drivers’ seat, and it’s more than just planning our meals or how we’ll spend our days.  I was feeling guilty about how much time I was spending on social media (Instagram, Pinterest, etc.), so I made a resolution to give it up for a month, and here I am on my sixth day, feeling much refreshed.  A couple of months ago, I was feeling owned by my stuff, so I made a resolution to not buy anything for six months and pair down our wardrobes, and here I am in the second month, feeling fewer and fewer impulses to buy this and have that.

For a few months, I’ve been really reaching out to find a community, going to meet ups, calling and arranging play dates with new and old acquaintances, etc.  Last month, I felt a renewed impulse to find a church.  We’ve dabbled with this idea in the past, going to a few different churches and hemming and hawing, but last month, I had this realization.  If I want a community, then I’m going to have to do the work.  I’m going to have to do more than just show up.  I have to be a friend rather than look for a friend.

And there’s this great place.  It’s a mix of edgy hipsters and tradition, agnostics and those willing to suspend their disbelief.  It’s a group of people who come together, hoping that there’s a little bit more to life than the perfect pair of jeans or a house in the right neighborhood.  I know this isn’t really a surprise, and that the last time I was in a community of people who were pretty much in agreement about the aforementioned was probably in a church, but just the same:  it feels like a revelation.  Like, oh yeah.  It was here the whole time.  Duh.

So that’s where we are.  No, I can’t say where we are on the subject of God and theology and doctrine, but I can tell you that on the subject of community and trying to do better, we are all in.  I can tell you that on the subject of thanks and prayer, I’m all there.

Today, I’m thankful for a hundred things, but the thing for which I’m most thankful is the chance to change, to take something I’m not quite happy with and do something better.


The Milk Store

Tonight, Lily and I drove to Target for some cleaning supplies.  On our way, we were stopped at an intersection.  Lily looks over at the 7-11 and says, “Look!  Milk store!”

Hmmm…  There was that one time when I had already made a beautiful pot of coffee and I had no milk and coffee without milk is truly a waste and so we walked down to the 7-11 for a pint of milk…

I laughed, and Lily was quite pleased with her humor, so when I pointed at the liquor store (it’s Colfax, guys.  Liquor and 7-11 abound) and asked her if that was the milk store, too, she said, “No.  Wine store.  Daddy special store.”

Which was absolutely hysterical to me, much to Lily’s pleasure.

Another favorite from today was at the Children’s Museum.  Lily is sitting front and center, listening to The Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar, and at regular intervals, she turns around with wide eyes and repeats a key phrase for my benefit, “leaf!” “tummy!” “butterfly!”  The look is, can you believe this?  Isn’t that amazing?  Are you paying attention?!!!

So, besides those sweat moments, I’m also thankful for:

1) Help from my mom so I could study for yet another exam today.

2) Finishing said exam early and getting extra time with the family tonight.

3) Lots of veggies today.

4) Lots of snuggles with Lu.

5) Joshua built a whole fence!  Wow!  Thankful for an industrious and handy husband :)



Makes Me Happy



As I’m putting Lily to sleep tonight, I ask her, “who loves you?”

“People,” Lily says.

“What people?” I ask.

“Mommy loves me,” she says.

“You bet I do,” I say.

“Makes me happy,” she says.

And that, my friends, is the secret.  To love and be loved.  To let that love make you happy.


Today, I’m thankful for a walk in the foothills.  The weather, the view, the company, and the conversation were perfect.


Another Month



I’m a fairly patient momma, but the past couple of days, I’ve raised my voice.  Even as I’m doing it, I think, “this isn’t helping,” but at the moment, I’m not sure what would.  Reasoning with a two and a half year old is…  Interesting.  Yesterday, after running around the Children’s Museum for the last 15 minutes, refusing to do anything I asked and doing everything I said NO! to, I picked Lily up kicking and screaming, stuffed her in the stroller, and high-tailed it outta there.  On the walk, I started with, “Momma is really upset with you.  I’m sad and mad and upset.  I don’t like what you did, and it made me angry.”  I was speaking sternly and Lily just had this vague look on her face like, yeah, yeah, yeah, whatevs.  Finally, I stopped walking, crouched in front of the stroller and asked a series of questions.  “Should you wait for Momma or can you leave and run to the next room?”  “Wait.”  “How did it make Momma feel when you left her?”  “Sad.”  “When Momma says, STOP shaking the tree, what should you do?”  “Stop.”

We apologized to each other and hugged, and then we were good, but man, was I ticked walking out of there.  I don’t usually get ticked like that.

And then today.  Lily tried to pour water over her sister, and then a little later, she jumped near her head.  I go a little nuts when I think she’s going to hurt Lu.  “Time out, now,” I said, through clenched teeth.  I pick her up and sit her next to the wall.  She fiddles with the baseboard for a minute, and then she looks over at me with a smile and says, “say sorry now?”  Completely unaffected.

But then there’s last night.  We’re all walking back to the house after Lu announced she was done with all that running nonsense, and Lily got out of the stroller to walk Oscar.  It was seriously the cutest thing ever, and Joshua and I were looking at each other and laughing quietly to ourselves.  Oscar’s gate is more of a run for Lily, so she’s running to keep up with him and shouting orders the whole time.  “No Oscar!  This way!  Not safe!  Stop!”  After running almost a full half mile, Joshua and I were nearly in tears laughing.

“Lily, look at you run!  I’m so impressed!  You’re legs must be really strong,” I say.  Lily glances over her shoulder, “Daddy run in mountains.  Lily someday.”  And then, if that didn’t just melt us, she says, “Bear Hunt!”  “Are you gonna catch a big one?” we ask.  “Beautiful day!” Lily responds, “not scared!”

Or today, we’re walking back to the train, and Lily says, “Eat banana on train?  Go home, snuggle?”

And “hot potato!  Lily sweating!”

Most of the time, I just want to scoop her up and tell her that she’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.



This one is four months old today.  Her personality has really begun emerging this past month, and I’m constantly in awe of her size.  How did she get so big?  Now when I nurse her, she sits in my lap.  She loves being supported while she stands, and half the time when she’s laying on her back she’s flexing her abs and curling in, trying to sit up.  Her neck is super strong these days, and it makes things so much easier.  I can carry her with one hand or hands free with a carrier.

She’s been grabbing for toys and chewing on everything in sight, but I’ve yet to see a tooth.  Within the past week and a half, she’s really begun laughing, and of course, it’s her daddy that’s the best at getting her to giggle.  Lily makes her laugh, too.  Oh and yesterday when I was recounting the story of our dramatic exit from the Children’s Museum and mimicking my stern voice for Joshua’s benefit.  She thought that was hysterical, too.

Unfortunately, we’re struggling a bit on the sleeping front.  While I’m fairly certain that Lu slept straight through her first three months of life, she’s been making up for it in the past couple of weeks.  She still sleeps through the night, but then she’s championed the 15 minute snooze during the day.  And let me tell you.  I am not a fan of the four to five 15 minute snooze schedule.  In my humble opinion, she should be banging out three hour+ naps.  For Lily, nursing worked.  Whenever she seemed sleepy, I would nurse her and she would fall asleep, and then I could get some s*** done.  Not so much with Lu.

Anyway, I better not complain too much, because hey, a babe that sleeps through the night on her first night home from the hospital is a precious unicorn.


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