September 20, 2013

On Being Kind....

I was walking into work a few days ago (you know, at a pediatrician's office) when I saw an older grandmother in front of me juggling three kids trying to scoot them into the building: a baby in a stroller, a straggling toddler, and a school aged kid who was moving as slow as molasses. She dropped something on the ground so I shuffled a little faster through my morning fog, picked it up, ran to open the door for them and handed the toy back to her. She sighed a deep breath- I thought it was frustration- but then she looked at me and said "thank you baby for being so kind, I have my hands full".

Her words  warmed my heart more than my hot tea on a cold fall morning. I had a little pep as I walked back to my office. It was so simple. Being kind is easy. I started to think about simple kindness. I'm not talking flying to Africa to help orphans or donating millions. Just everyday, simple things that make a difference for someone else.

A few months ago, I was in the mall. I saw a dad with a little girl dressed in a princess dress, crown, wand. Do you know what he did when he heard another little girl whining and begging her mom for one? He bent down, held his daughter's hand, whispered something quietly... and then I saw the little girl hand her wand over. The other child was now a princess too. See that? He not only acted kindly, but taught his daughter kindness.

A few years ago, before my mom retired, she taught kids who had a lot less than we did growing up. She knew they should bring in their own snacks but often parents forgot or couldn't afford it or kids skipped breakfast. Like clockwork, just when she was about to run out of her classroom stash of snacks, my dad bought a huge plastic containers of pretzels and stocked them in her car. She carried them into her classroom and without ever mentioning it or acting like it was a kind deed at all, she fed any of her students who needed something.  She and my dad define kind.

My brother has always been a good guy. He stands up for what's right. Questions people when they don't- as if being kind is indeed the only choice. Last week he was visiting my parents. He has a new employee who lives nearby and doesn't know many people. He invited him over to dinner with my entire family because he didn't want him to feel lost in his new environment. An open door, an open invitation.

Here's the thing- if there's anything my parents have instilled in us, it's this: be kind to others. Just that. No "because they may need it" or "because if you're not they won't be nice to you". Just be kind. Smile at people. A hand on the shoulder or a hug goes a long way. Hold the door. Pick up something if someone drops it. Look for the best in people. I guess, I owe them a big thank you.

As a parent, I so greatly hope I teach Sienna this well- that I give her a standing example to emulate. I hope that I encourage her to understand that the only difference between big sweeping gestures and small good kind deeds is the attention you get but that both can be incredibly important.

Don't underestimate the importance of the little things. They sure go a long way.

Happy Friday, friends.


September 19, 2013

Where we are lately...

I played powerball last night. Despite best efforts and wishes to the lottery gods, I didn't win.

I have to say when I used to dream about winning the lottery I'd dream about a sprawling beach house and a walk in closet full of designer clothes. My dreams lately have turned to paying off grad school loans, buying a reasonably sized but perhaps newly built house in a dreamy town like Swarthmore, and well yes... that beach house in Rehoboth still enters the picture at times.

But, I think what I'm trying to say is lately I've made the shift from thinking of us as a newlywed couple with a newborn to a family of three-- possibly more one day-- figuring out our place in this world. I'm starting to think about things I never really considered five years ago: Where will Sienna grow up? What school will she go to? Where can we give her the perfect place to run around the neighborhood with her friends? I think this stage may be real adulthood. Real parenthood.

There's that whole saving enough money for a down payment in these sweet little towns we are thinking about. And then there's figure out how to live somewhere perfect for our family and commutable to our jobs that we really enjoy. Being a grown up is hard sometimes. I continue to struggle with the working mom balance daily and as I look to our future, I really do want my daughter to see that her mom has a lot of worth- both in the home and out. At the end of the day though, I'll never be the mom to go on weeklong business trips if I can avoid it. I'll always rush home to make sure dinner and bath are shared times. But still a balance is necessary to make the right decisions for what comes next for our family.

As I... no we... make this transition from newlyweds to new parents, to a family who is focused on what's best for the three of us, I feel like this is a time of change. Good change, but as always some anxious energy thinking about the future, too.  That's where I am lately- day dreaming about our future, living in our present.

And sometimes, taking photos like this when my girl randomly says "Cheese mommy!"


September 18, 2013


Last weekend we loaded tons of athletic gear and baby gear into the car. We left during nap time, handed Sienna some milk and had a quiet drive down to Atlantic City for J's Tri!

Jamie signed up for his first Olympic length triathlon months ago and has been training: biking, swimming, running as often as he could. I admire J for many, many things.  His athletic abilty- natural don't need to train as much as everyone else ability- is a top contender. He is a no complaining, no excuses type of person and athlete.

We arrived Saturday afternoon and took in all that was going on:
A crazy crowded AC from the triathlon, Miss America, and AC Seafood festival.
Hundreds of bikes already racked in the transition area.
A ridiculously gorgeous sunny cool fall day.
A hotel that provided us a crib for S (thank goodness!)

We checked in. We checked J into his race. S modeled the Tri AC shirt. We listened to the rules. We struggled through the crowds of Miss America parade to find some spaghetti and chicken tenders for S. We went to bed early.

4:00 am on race day and J was up and going. By 5:15 he was out the door to check in at his race.
Our sweet girl thankfully slept right on through him getting ready to go.
I, on the other hand, did that whole toss and turn half awake thing until 6am.
Start time: delayed from 7:15 until 7:45. That was a logistical race issue- they need to figure out timing better for next year so these guys don't stand around for 2+ hours.

S and I arrived to the field at 7:45 and the guys started right around 8am.
It was in the 50s out: chilly and our sweatshirts were necessary.
The plan was: 1 mile swim, 20 mile bike, 6.2 mile run.
We got to see J get out of the water and he was the first of his group (as usual, his swimming skills are superior from all those lifeguarding days).
Sienna liked yelling "GO DADDY! DADA GO GO GO!" which was maybe the most adorable thing that was taking place at the race. Or I'm biased. But I think it was.

Jamie told me that his buddies trained way more and to expect them to pass him in the bike.
I watched J and his friends push their physical limits.
His friend Dan did indeed pass him on the bike.
J and Jeff were close by the run and came in just seconds away from each other.
Their race results were great- they all came in significantly under the time they were hoping for.

I'm a proud wife- proud that J sticks by his goals and pushes his limits.
Proud that he sticks by his friends when he makes a commitment.
Proud that the first thing he did when he finished was put Sienna on his shoulders, despite the physical pain he probably was going through.

Life's not perfect and family things take a turn for the "oh my goodness we are so busy" once you have kids. But...there are these moments in life that make you get those "I'm so  lucky to be his girlfriend wife" feelings that make everything feel right. This was one of them. Another thing checked off the bucket list. Another goal achieved. I'll always be right beside you cheering you on, J, no matter what you tackle next.


September 11, 2013

Diary of a Working Mom.

Today was just one of those days.
First, we slept past regular time (we don't even set an alarm, we have a Sienna. Almost every day we hear her by 6 am)
6:42: Sienna is singing in her room. Then crying. Then saying "mommy! mommy!" repeat x30
6:43: J and I exchange looks- who will get her?
6:50: Sienna is in our bed with her milk watching Curious George. Both of us too tired to move.
7:00: Should you shower? Should I shower? Someone has to shower.
7:05: Jamie showers, I play with Sienna who is now beeping the cat's nose.
7:15: Sienna took off her pajama shirt, I'm trying to get it back on.
7:20: Sienna opens bathroom door, wants to hold everything Jamie has.
7:25: J goes to get dressed. I turn to use the bathroom with Sienna still in there.
7:26: I look up and realize Sienna stuck her finger in the pomade for J's hair. It's all over.
7:27: Scrub toddler's hands. Scrub toddler's chest (what?!). Comb hair into GREASY ponytail
7:35: J takes Sienna downstairs (with a new shirt) for cereal and play time.
7:37-7:55: Shower, brush teeth, half dry hair
7:56: Sienna opens bathroom door, wants to play with me.
7:57: Dry hair with Sienna in the same room. Let her play with whatever she wants.
8:00: J is out the door- oops we forgot it's trash day.
8:05: Get dressed, get S downstairs.  Play while trying to get coffee, lunch together, and breakfast.
8:15: Nanny arrives
8:17: I run out the door. I forget my ID
8:18: Run out the door again. Call mom on my way to work to discuss unrelated travel plans.
8: something? Who even knows. Coffee in hand, RUN into work because I'm running late.
9:00: First patient. Work all day.
4:30: Drive to tutoring.
4:45-6:15: Tutor
6:20: Start drive home. Call Jamie. They are outside on a walk and S has not eaten dinner.
6:33: Call Kelly. Vent about my day. Feel lucky to have a good friend.
6:50: Arrive home.  S is still outside with J on a walk.
6:53: Run inside, get dinner together for Sienna (this is SO late. She eats at 5:45)
6:55: Sienna eating, after half a bowl of spaghetti she's finished. And thirsty.
         Water, then a mini ice cream cone.
7:05: J leaves to do a few things outside the house.
7:06: Pour milk, grab lovies, take S upstairs.
{Note Sienna usually already in bed at this point}
7:08: Bath time
7:17: Wrestle slippery toddler out of tub and tell her it's time for books.
7:18: Toddler wriggles out of way x3 to avoid a diaper
7:22: Dressed & diapered toddler reading books
7:42: Whining that "no no bed. Pease (please) no bed mama" as I put her in bed.
7:44: After 2 verses of twinkle twinkle and eight kisses, close her door.
7:50: She's doing anything but sleeping, I am watching her monitor
7:53: I should eat something. I drop a glass on the floor, almost break it. Give up.
7:54: Revert to cheddar cheese puffs and half of a muffin with orange juice for dinner.
7:57: Phone call from Sarah. Explain the day's mess and chat while she walks home.
8:11: Finally a sleeping toddler.
8:12: Let out a sigh. Clean up. Put things away.  Feed the cat. Crash on my bed.
... somehow it's 10pm. I'm not asleep. I wish I was.
On the bright side, look how aggressively she's going after that ice cream cone- girl after my own heart.
Time to turn in so we can do it all over again tomorrow. Busy days over here.

(local) Wanderlust Wednesday

First of all- I realize it's 9/11. My memories of that day are still pretty strong, and today as we look back and look ahead I'm grateful the people I love are safe and sound. I'm grateful for a country that provides us with so many niceties. I hope that we continue to move forward bravely, to thank the NYPD and NYFD for their incredible work 12 years ago today, and everyday. {We remember}


I've been house dreaming lately. Today's wanderlust wednesday is not truly about traveling the world; it's more about exploring our journey as a family and where we will end up next. We're not moving yet- and I've dropped to J that when we do I want to build our own new home. Part of me knows that probably will never happen because it's in our blood to paint and reno and create spaces that are truly our own. And so... through my browsing on redfin and trulia, I bring you my current dream home....

I just fell head over heels for charm that oozes from the front of the house. The cute landscaping, the color scheme that is eerily familiar to the house I grew up in. The corner lot with rocks for our little one to climb on. The space- this house is massive compared to what we have now. I love that the garage is in the back, giving the front that warm welcoming glow of "come on in" without having cars sitting outside. I love the back stone porch.

Is it the best neighborhood? To be honest, we don't know. But the street view and the houses around it are gorgeous- always a good sign.  It's been on the market over 100 days- so who knows, maybe in another 100 or 200 or 300 when we are realistically ready to buy, it will be there waiting for us. 

It needs work. While the exterior screams "I love you, come in and be my forever family" the inside says "sorry I tricked you and look like the 1980s threw up". But the floors are (mostly) new hardwood, the master bedroom is huge with walk in closets and a huge bathroom, and on the first floor is an extra master suite- would be perfect for grandparents or other family members to stay in when visiting. A ton of painting would have to occur. A full kitchen reno (2.0) would have to occur. But it would be liveable and spacious for our family.

What's your latest house dream? Happy Wanderlust Wednesday. Dare to dream.


September 8, 2013

Front Porch Makeover: Phase One.

The other day I walked outside and the ugly starting to mold outdoor carpet on our front porch had pulled away from the cement. I had to rip some off immediately to keep from S falling. By the end of the day I was super annoyed that it was half falling off and just really an eye sore. So we decided to take on this project all at once- get rid of the old black metal railings, pull up the carpet, and replace it all with a new look. At the end it will have a nice white railing, a new coat of paint on the porch area, and some new (non molding) outdoor rug over it. With S running in and out, the outdoor rug provides a little extra padding when she inevitably tumbles out the front door onto it.

Here are some photos of our work thus far along the way. Still have a lot to do, but the eyesore is gone.

That was the starting  look. Can you see the mold on the side of the porch? The flowers help keep things looking okay, but it was getting really bad.
J got the entire carpet and railing off within an hour. A sawzall and ratchet did the trick on the railing. Oh, but here is one thing: do not use the sawzall while your wife is trying to put the baby down for a nap.  It will inevitably not go well.  Also note the nice chalk drawings on our stairs- pretty fancy, right?! So once it was stripped down we were left with chipping cement paint and uneven ground. And no railing.
A scraper got the chipping paint off- and then thick coat of new waterproof paint was applied which is what you see in that left photo. We knew we had to put some outdoor carpet back down, but waterproof painting should help with avoiding mold this time while leaving a soft(er) surface for the kiddo. Sienna is sitting on the outdoor carpet in that photo clapping and saying YAY as daddy worked.
 Up next? Putting in the post for the bottom of the new railings. This calls for a post hole digger. {Side note, if you're a parent of a toddler have you ever seen the dig-zacto episode of curious George? It's all I could think of the entire time we used this thing.} You have to dig a 2 foot deep hole to put the 4x4 in. Sienna was helping daddy carry a lighter piece of wood while he carried the level. You can see in that second picture above here there are two pieces of wood in the ground- the second smaller piece S was carrying is also in the ground- you nail a smaller piece across the two after you pour concrete into the hole for the 4x4 to keep it level. Oh and Sienna kept saying "Nenna peak!" to look into the concrete bucket since we said no hands in there. So cute.
Here's where we are now! J put the new carpet down. I didn't take photos because I was trying to prevent the little one from getting her feet in the glue. The post is in and setting. The carpet is down. Next up is building the railing and the side rail. But for now some major improvement around here.
I know we sort of took a house hiatus for awhile but... we're BACK. And there are quite a few projects on the docket now.  The finishing touches are officially on our list!
**Disclaimer: Sienna is dressed in unmatching pajamas playing outside because today she insisted on her mickey shirt for nap time and then refused to put back on real clothes when she woke up. Pick your battles, right?

September Gardening.

Oh my goodness! Our garden, that only produced strawberries earlier this summer, is now flourishing with veggies. It's gorgeous and smells amazing and the abundance of tomatoes this house has is a little bit out of control.

I went out earlier today to scope it out with Sienna and one of her little friends (who kept plucking the tiny yellow cherry tomatoes and telling me mmmm as she popped them in her mouth one by one). The tomato vines are growing into our trees, our bushes, and way off the tomato cages/bamboo shoots we put out there for them. WAY OFF. We have so many tomatoes I'm begging neighbors to bring over a basket and go shopping {free shopping, that is}. The yellow cherry tomatoes are so delicious. Our neighbor just told us to slice them in half, olive oil them up, salt, pepper, garlic and then bake them in the oven and save in fridge for salads, sandwiches, salsas. Sounds like an amazing plan since we have so many!

And... and the jalepenos. There are two huge bushels of them. Anyone need some spice in their life? Come and get them... I'll even pick them for you.

Also? Eggplant! Mmm. The other day I plucked an eggplant for eggplant rollatini and it was melt in your mouth amazingly delicious. I split the recipe in half since I just used one big eggplant. Jamie requested seconds and thirds and we cleared the whole (small) pan in one sitting. We have about four outside right now. I picked one today and am thinking I'll repeat the recipe this week too using our own home grown tomatoes.

We always just collect them in a big Tupperware container. Even though we don't use pesticides on them, we see a plethora of lovely bug species living on and around our veggies so in an attempt not to devour some spiders with our fruits and vegetables, I try to soak all of them right in that container. Below are a couple pics of today's full harvest (just what we took from the ground, there is enough for a family of 50 out there still). Talk about farm to table, eh? All kidding aside, it does feel pretty darn good to produce our own food and eat healthy while we are also saving money. I only wish I could grow cheese!

Soak them in cold water, take them out and set to dry... and tonight we will dig in. I'm thinking two-tomato salsa and chips for an app. YUM. 

And seriously, if anyone needs some veggies in their life, give me a call - call us Walls Farms lately!

Be back hopefully later tonight with an update on our latest house project that started on a whim and now demands to be finished before the weekend is through.



September 4, 2013


Well in trying to give the blog a new look, I somehow managed to mangle the labels/headers so if you click on travel you may end up with random things about baby or food. I'll get it all straightened out but for now I'm happy with my work here. I figured out how to:

a) change my template without deleting my layout
b) add a header with pictures created by me (I know I'm shocked too!) in picasa
c) get those nice categories at the top of the page
d) add a signature.

Not bad for (two) days work.

Now if only I can get those posts about diapers and making baby food back in the correct category...


Working out some kinks

Working on a new look for the blog- attempting to have some patience as I work out the weird placement of things! xo


September 2, 2013

Summer's End....

I have a love/hate relationship with seasons changing. One part of me holds on, gripping with all my strength to the summer nights when the sun fades after eight o clock, the drink of choice is a nice cold glass of sauvignon blanc, and the beach is our second home. The other part has one foot into the door of fall already; I'm longing for slouchy boots and oversized sweaters and a pumpkin latte. I can vividly remember the sensations in every part of my body on the eve before the first day of school when I was younger. I always wanted just one more swim in my parents pool, one more bike ride to see the girls who are still the people who know me best, and then as a teenager one more epic evening of sunset to sunrise times with my friends before the academic year began. As a kid, there is none of the yearning for cooler weather and hot fall fashions. There's only in that moment. What a beautiful part of life- not always looking for what's next but just being-- and being happy.
Lucky for me, Sienna reminds me every day to slow down, to enjoy the little moments. This weekend we started our mornings slow with coffee and pajamas for awhile longer than usual, soaked in some warm sunshine, played at the park, swam at the pool, went to dinner as a little family at a fav pizza place, J squeezed in some work outs for his upcoming triathlon, we went to a BBQ in Yardley, and then trekked down to hang with Matt, Sam, and Stella today for our last BBQ of the summer (Matt is officially Sienna's favorite person and we hear about him all day long after we visit). What a weekend full of love to bring this season to a close!

So long, sweet summer.                    
I stumbled upon you and
gratefully basked in your rays
So long sweet summer
I fell into you now you're
gracefully falling away ...
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