summer was here

I washed all the bathing suits and beach towels for the last time today. I folded the towels and put them up high in the hallway closet. I rotated the too-snug swimsuits out of the drawers and into boxes to be packed away and passed on. Then I came downstairs, lit an apple spice candle, and chopped vegetables for one of my favorite fall meals. This is all part of my grieving process, a necessary routine for me as I say good-bye to summer and begin to embrace fall goodness. 

It was a good summer - a perfect blend of nothing and everything. We anticipated these months as Milo’s first true exposure to the wonder of sunshine and water. He was too tiny to soak in all of summer last year, but this, this was different. Experiencing summer alongside my children is one of my favorite parts of motherhood. Life is better when we’re outside - wet, dirty, or stained with red Popsicle. Older siblings get along better when they have an entire park to roam, and they need fewer reminders to keep their hands to themselves when there are diving boards and water slides. Add chubby baby thighs toddling around that park or pool, and you know it’s going to be a good season. 


We kicked off our summer with a weekend in Red River Gorge. I have strict rules about camping with babies. Actually, I have one strict rule: I don’t tent camp with babies. Instead, we opted for a lovely little cabin, well off the beaten path and just uphill from a small pond. This quiet pond came alive at night as the sun slipped from yellow to pink and hundreds of frogs sang out their mating calls, each boastful male trying to out-sing the other. In the mornings, we ate our breakfast around the campfire and then headed out for days filled with hiking, exploring, and trying to be cool parents by jumping off giant boulders.


June was filled with lazy days mostly spent at the pool. Long gone were my days of relaxing on the pool’s edge while the big kids swam and baby Milo slept in the stroller. I became a physical helicopter mom as Milo fearlessly toddled around the pool with no regard for the water’s depth. He was drawn to water in any form he could find: water tables, sprinklers, fountains, baby pools. He was also partial to naps in the sun.


Summer evenings in our front yard give me all the happy feels.  We affectionately (and somewhat sarcastically) call our home Camp Blue Ash due to its wilderness-like qualities. We have no shorten of dirt, bugs, wild animals, or unusual plant life. But we have learned to take advantage of all Camp Blue Ash has to offer; we watch woodpeckers destroy our trees, we compete with neighbors in mole trapping competitions, and we save baby birds who fall out of their nests. (Unsuccessfully, I might add.) 


July and August were packed with travels. We loaded the van for a week-long beach vacation in North Carolina, and days later we repacked the van for a week-long lake house vacation in northern Wisconsin.


Vacationing with a one-year-old is a different kind of vacation, and there were many times I felt like I was missing out. 

I stayed back while the others went to the beach so he could take his morning nap.

I stayed back while others went out past bedtime to watch the baby sea turtles emerge from the sand and scurry to the ocean.

I went to the drug store to get cough medicine for a sick baby while the others were at the pool. 

I walked around outside entertaining a baby who’d rather move than sit in a high chair while the others sat down for dinner in a restaurant. 

All the missing out prompted self-pity, and I began to think: If I didn’t have a one-year-old on this vacation, I could do all the other things everyone else was doing. But then again, if I didn’t have a one-year-old on this vacation, then I wouldn’t have Milo on this vacation. And that’s when all the self-pity seemed kind of foolish. 


Our summer ended with our annual trip to Coney Island. No, not the boardwalk in Brooklyn. Our Coney Island is a rickety little amusement park with carnival-like rides that spin you, twirl you, whirl you, rotate you, revolve you, and then pause for a moment before doing it all over again in the opposite direction. There is a single outdated roller coaster that cannot possibly meet current safety regulations, and a ramshackle Ferris wheel that requires Dramamine for all riders over the age of 30. But our children adore this place, and my blessed husband has a stomach of steel, so while they’re screaming their heads off on rides like The Scrambler and Tilt-a-Whirl, I’m listening to a local show choir sing Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off and watching Milo sit in a train that moves in a circle at about 2 miles per hour. And then he sat in a boat that moved in a circle. Then a rocketship. Then a plane. Then a helicopter. You get the idea. 


We spent months telling Milo all about this dreamy time of year called summer, and it did not disappoint. 


I’m pretty sure he liked it.

Til next time, summer.


solo writing weekend

Before having children, I don’t think I would have ever chosen a weekend away by myself. Girlfriend getaway? Sure. Roadtrip with Stephen? Absolutely. Mother-daughter shopping weekend? Oh yes.

But alone? Who would I talk to? What would I do? Are you even allowed to eat in a restaurant by yourself?

Add it to the long list of how seven years and three kids can make all the difference.

I had my first solo weekend in September of 2014. I was 36 weeks pregnant with my second baby, and Stephen had just graduated with his doctorate after a six-year program. Our families sat around our living room as Stephen opened a few small gifts to celebrate his great accomplishment.  Stephen then turned the attention to me, and with a baller husband-of-the-year move, he began acknowledging the sacrifices I had made in order for him to complete this degree. He thanked me and passed me a large envelope. Inside were the reservation papers for a solo weekend away in Indianapolis.

Oh, that guy.

I spent two night in the Omni Hotel and filled my weekend with reading, writing, shopping, and a prenatal massage. There was a fair amount of sleeping in, an even greater amount of ice cream, and as it turns out, you can in fact eat in a restaurant all by yourself. It was an indulgent weekend away, and I returned home rested, well fed, and with a few new nursing tops

Earlier this month I again went on a solo weekend, but with a different purpose. Years ago I started a writing project that just keeps lingering, and I wanted a weekend away to write, work, and finally start down the homestretch of this project. I made three writing goals for 2019:

  1. Launch my new blog. Done!

  2. Take a writing course. Done!

  3. Go on a weekend writing retreat. Done!

Three out of three and it isn’t even June, yet. Wow. Does this mean I need to make more goals?

There were a few moments leading up to my weekend away that caused brief panic. The time seemed like such a gift, and I didn’t want to mess it up. Looking back, here are my two nuggets of wisdom that really helped make the weekend a success.


Finding the perfect place

I opted for an AirBnB over a hotel because I wanted something cozy and the ability to “cook” my own food. When I say cook, I mean heat up a Trader Joe’s frozen pizza. The idea of a Bed and Breakfast sounded dreamy, but all my google searches led me to lace curtains and night stands with doilies. Not the creative inspiration I was hoping for.

I finally stumbled upon this tiny house in Kentucky, and it was perfect.


I’m fascinated by tiny homes, and have been known to get sucked into the abyss of YouTube when I start watching tiny home tour videos. A spacious work area was a must, and this place had a great counter right in front of the window where I spread out notebooks, PaperMate flair pens, and books. As an added tiny house bonus, the bed folded out of the wall and a giant projector dropped from the ceiling. It was pretty legit.

My tiny house was almost two hours away. Because I was going to be gone two nights, I didn’t mind the commute. Driving in a car by myself has become a luxury, and I filled my time with equal parts silence and podcasts. I do some of my best thinking in the car, and I often need to talk through ideas out loud to myself in the form of pretend conversations; I never get very far with this when I try it in my living room.

Making plans and specific goals

I knew I needed to spend time planning both my big goals and tiny details before the weekend arrived. If I didn’t, the sound of silence would likely provoke shock and rather than writing, I would spend the weekend in bed, binging on Netflix and popcorn. On the other hand, I could also see myself with a list of twenty-five things to accomplish, scattered, overworked, and leaving more exhausted than I came.

In order to avoid either extreme, I made plans, goals, and I wrote them all down.


I posted this sign on the window in front of me to keep me focused. It is easy to think of a dozen other tasks I could be working on, but these four were the weekend goals. They provided me a variety of work from formatting a cookbook to revising old essays to dumping out first drafts from intriguing prompts I’d tucked away. Having this variety kept me from getting burnt out on one task.

But let’s be real. I cannot have a weekend away without plans for doing nothing, so I also packed nail polish, face masks, books, candles, and good food. I went as far as to map out each meal because I wanted to eat well but didn’t want to spend my precious time reading online reviews as I scrambled to find somewhere for dinner. Knowing that I would introvert pretty hard the majority of the weekend, I brought breakfast, dinner, and snacks, but I did venture out for a couple hours on Saturday afternoon to a cafe and bookstore where I dined as the mysterious lone lady scribbling voraciously in a notebook.

I had given myself permission to take an afternoon nap, but as it turned out, I didn’t need it. After 8 hours of sleep and sitting in a chair all morning, my body wasn’t even tired come 2:00. Such a strange phenomenon.

I made solid progress on each of my writing goals, and I came home both energized and rested. At the risk of sounding too hermit-like, I loved spending time with myself. When I’m alone, I remember who I am apart from motherhood, and that my brain still has capacity for creativity beyond unicorn crafts. I can focus on a single task for longer than five minutes, and I still have problem solving skills beyond who gets to sit in the middle stool.

On the two hour drive home, my mind was racing with ideas and next steps. It’s been a few weeks since my retreat, and truth be told, I’ve made little progress toward some of those next steps. I could easily get down on myself for that, but that won’t do me any good.

Instead, I’m still living off the high of all I accomplished and the stillness that allowed me time to think.


Oh, and I’m also planning for another retreat in the fall.

Bonus: My request for a later checkout was granted, and I used every quiet minute of it!

because one day you won't, part 4

Believe it or not, the winter months have been good to us. Life has slowed down and we are loving our rhythm as a family of five. Even as we've been stuck inside for months (and months and months), I have been looking for moments covered in childhood and baby rolls. There has been no shortage of either.

If you are new to my Because One Day You Won't posts, you can check them out here:

Because One Day You Won't Part 1

Because One Day You Won't Part 2

Because One Day You Won't Part 3

Because one day you won't all fit together on one sled.


Because one day you won't protect your breakfast from the rain.


Because one day you won't have a Minnie Mouse raincoat, Minnie Mouse umbrella, and Minnie Mouse backpack. And because one day you won't tuck you pants into your socks "so everyone can see the polka dots."


 Because one day you won't let me kiss those cheeks five hundred times a day.


Because one day you won't put on your football player costume and sneak into your sister's room to read her Berenstain Bear books.


Because one day you won't have so many arms rolls.


Because one day you won't fit in the toy baby stroller.


Because one day you won't beg us to sleep together in the same bed.


Because one day you won't decorate the "Christmas tree" outside with random things found around the house.


And because one day you won't bring me this snack when I'm having a rough day.


And yes, that is a mixture of fruit snacks, chocolate chips. Hershey's, and some Now & Laters. With milk.

So today I will notice these moments.