a stay at the brown palace (and on leaving your babies for the first time)

A friend recently told me about a trip she and her husband took—a weekend abroad without their two little ones. I was amazed, and began asking all the questions.

Where did you go? How long were you gone? Who watched the kiddos? Was it hard to leave them? Did the kids do okay? Did mom and dad do okay?!

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New Year's Resolution: 2019

Like I said last year, I don’t usually make resolutions on the actual day. So, at the end of January, I’m finally writing this post.

If you’re curious how last year’s resolution concluded, I’ve written my thoughts on the remaining books at the end of this post. I managed to make it through most of my absurd challenge — reading all but two, one that I finished early this month and one I don’t plan to complete — and was resolved I would never repeat it again. (At least, not while I have young children.)

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discovering the season of advent through my Polish past

My sandbox read this afternoon* was a charming vintage book my MIL picked up at an estate sale, knowing it was exactly the sort of thing I’d love. ​

*there’s a very large sand pit in the backyard; many afternoons are spent here while the little girls dig around.

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I can't get no satisfaction. But satisficing will do.

I’m not a very decisive person. I overthink everything. It’s stressful and unproductive. Maybe it would make sense if I had a position of high risk. But that’s not my life. My setting is the toothpaste aisle in the grocery store; my conflict is what to cook for the week; my nemesis is picking a restaurant for date night. The paradox is that I’m also a big planner. Lists give my days structure and my life meaning. The problem is when I’m trying to pick the best toothpaste or plan the most cost-effective meal plan or figure out exactly which food I’m craving most. All the options and variables collect in my head until I nearly explode. And then how often everything ends in disappointment…! The toothpaste doesn’t make my teeth sparkle white, meal plan gets thrown off, the restaurant doesn’t live up to expectations.

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2018 Halfway Point

We're halfway into this year. Crazy! That also puts me halfway through my new year's resolution to read 26 books. Or, it should. After setting my challenge, I figured I should read two books a month and then divide the two leviathans (I'm looking at you, Ulysses and Infinite Jest) into "manageable" monthly portions. Halfway through the year, I've read ten books, am on target for Infinite Jest, and about a month behind in Ulysses. Phew!

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Frazzled? Stressed? Tired? Try taking a walk

Yesterday, we went on a walk to "reset" a bad morning. The palm trees were rustling in the breeze, the water was rippling, the birds were singing. An alligator swam towards the shore, so we scooted along the path a little faster. Vultures were soaring in the sky above, scooping down right over our heads, and then taking off again. “Come back, birds!” Catherine was calling. We passed the bridge where there are usually fish, but the water is really low this time of year and we couldn't see any swimming. There was a set of desolate trees with a group of crows in and around them, calling out with their grim caw. It seemed like the opening shot of a horror film.

Being out in nature has a way of resetting your attitude, of helping you put things back in perspective. 

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2018 New Year's Resolution

I'm always behind on New Year's resolutions. New Year's day comes along each year, and every year, I realize once again I've failed to think beforehand of what I'd like to tackle in the new year. So, very unsurprisingly to myself, a week into 2018, I'm finally coming up with resolutions.

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a wedding cake mishap = a lesson in humility

My little Florida family just returned home from traveling for the holidays. We took a crazy road trip up to the DC area for Christmas, driving the 20 hours straight on the way up. (On the way back we were older and perhaps a little wiser and stopped for the night.) Our vacation with family in DC was wild and busy and fun and filled with SO much love, especially because all our siblings were together for a reunion in celebration of our dad's 60th birthday. Sophie was there with a gorgeous glow, snuggling her 2-week-old newborn girl. Maria blew us all away with her strength and endurance as she navigated holiday baking and cooking with a first-trimester stomach (yay for more babies! boo for morning sickness)--all while still managing to SMASH out those workouts. 

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what I learned from taking my toddler to a museum

Even if I had all the time in the world, and I examined every artifact, and meticulously read every label, would I remember any of it in a week? A month? A year? Probably not. But if I picked out one item and examined it closely, thoughtfully, there was a higher chance I would actually learn something from it. Having a toddler forced me to be selective about my consumption. Having a toddler actually increased the odds that I would remember something from this trip.

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Texas field trip: Newman's Castle

Last week I took the kids to a completely random little town in Texas (it may be that most little towns in Texas are completely random and I just haven't lived here long enough to learn that) to visit an even more completely random Medieval castle.  I knew four things about this place going into it: one, that it was a castle; two, that it was somehow associated with Newman's Bakery & Deli, also in Bellville; three, that the guy who built it actually lived there; and four, that the children get to reenact storming a castle. The first and last things alone justified a visit. I'll admit, the fact of the guy living there puzzled me. I just couldn't imagine what kind of place this was! The puzzlement never really cleared up - this place remains one big (amusing) puzzle to me. 

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