Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Whatever our souls are made of,

...his and mine are the same.  
                                                Emily Bronte

Our wedding day was one decade ago today.  

But the longer we are  married the more I am convinced that time is irrelevant.

There never was a Jon without Emily
There never was an Emily without Jon

The day itself is more a signpost - a reminder to celebrate that
we are

You are my most cherished gift, Jon.
I love you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blackberry Summer

On our ritual morning walk around the ponds Owen and I pass bushes and bushes of still-red blackberries.   They've been tempting us in their perfect, but unripe form for weeks now.  

Yesterday we found a few bushes with deep black, heavy berries - just barely ready to pick.

I resisted the urge to eat them on the spot and popped a couple in the stroller cupholder - you never know what kinds of chemicals these communities use to make the grass so perfect.

We had them as a treat after lunch.  I think we'll have to find more tomorrow.

Monday, July 19, 2010

20 Weeks

For posterity.  Because posterity has always been good to me.  ;)

Half way through already!  

Sorry, little lady, that I haven't been as good about taking these as I was with Owen.  But you could actually probably just figure I looked identical in imaginary photos over the last 8 weeks. 

 Maybe a little more bloated actually.  Yuck - glad that's over.

Friday, July 16, 2010


mini Owen (not on purpose..darn you Picassa!)

My high school library was pretty small.  It was L-shaped, the long section was wide and filled with shelves stacked two or three high.  The shorter section jutted back into the school and housed the seldom used reference collection. 

It was always pretty quiet there, unless a class was using it for research or a library tutorial.  Sometimes I would go in before school started, just to waste time browsing the shelves.  (Does that make me sound nerdy?  Or smart?  Hint, hint...choose smart.)

They had plenty of random books mixed in between the classic novels we all knew as required reading for Ms. Beneducci's English class.  Books on forgotten 60's singers, dusty woodworking manuals, guides to training your puppy.  Old history books and outdated math editions.  Someone had definitely donated their old hoard - all those books stored, thinking that they'd use them as references, but never did.  Now they filled out the gaps in our dewey decimal system and bulked up the library's own respectable collection.

One book in particular caught my attention: it was a how-to guide to growing bonsai trees.  Who knows why I remember checking out this book but I've always had a fascination with miniature things - doll houses and panoramas, I even spent some time considering how utterly transformed the shipping industry would be once we developed a shrink ray.

Bonsai trees seemed a natural blending of my love for nature and tiny, easily portable objects.  I could carry an entire, full grown tree around anywhere I went!  Think of the possibilities!!  
I devoured the book. I read about the best species to grow, the specific types of wire needed to coax the stunted limbs into intricate patterns, the recommended scissor types.  

The idyllic vision: me, snipping off a miniscule branch tip and smoothing out the tiny leaf of my Japanese red maple, then sitting back on my heels and absorbing the peace and tranquillity that my creation emitted. 

The reality: grown from seed, I'd be somewhere from 15 to 20 years older in my vision, probably busy doing grown up things, maybe even desperately trying to stop a toddler from eating the tree.  Sigh.

I tried to find a loop hole, a way to get a full grown bonsai NOW.  Maybe I could super feed it and keep it under a sun lamp to speed up the natural growth??

I put the book down. 

In a last desperate attempt it called out to me..."Wait!  Remember the time  you tried to make rose perfume by soaking old petals in water?  Remember all your pottery attempts with the clay from the back yard?  So what if those were failures, this time it will work!"

Idyllic visions die hard.   Mine typically deflate slowly, similarly to a pricked ballon - and definitely as sadly. (Remember the French short film about the Red Ballon? - kind of like that.)

I returned the book with a heavy heart.  Why does life take soooo long?

The lesson was eventually learned but it's taken me about as long as a bonsai to reach some level of maturity and I'm thankful for the pruning and careful restrictions that did, eventually,  shape my own life.  

And now, after all these years, my dream is kind of being fulfilled.  Not with a tree...but it takes about the same amount of time to grow a human, really.  And I finally have the patience to wait.  (And enough restraint not to try and see if I can keep my kids miniatures?  At least so far...)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Baltimore Zoo - Maryland Nature and a Monsoon

The second loop of the zoo is Maryland nature.  It has a bog area, a wetlands exhibit, a cave with bats and spiders and snakes, turtles, a giant tree with a huge slide for the kids, and a farmlands area with a small petting zoo. 

It was a great way to end the trip and Owen, though content to bum a ride in the stroller for most of it, love the interactive sections - the bouncing walkways, the ducks, the chickens 
(he can make chicken noises now...after I made a fool of myself for approximately 7 minutes performing my best chicken impersonation).  

Here is one of the turtle exhibits.  I think Gina looks like an astronaut of the underground.  Anyway...I think the point is to get you up close and personal, eye level, with the turtles.  Not quite the thrill ride that I think they were going for.  Maybe if they moved the lions into this area...

What WAS thrilling is that Gina magically turned INTO a turtle.  Doesn't she look happy? was only temporary.

Just in case she switches again in the future - Owen got in some turtle wrangling practice.  It's similar to breaking a wild horse I hear.  Or bull riding.  He was a natural and even gave the beasty a kiss or two.

And finally - no, actually, this is a shot from the zoo here at home.  The alligators are ALWAYS escaping their enclosure.  I find this guy everywhere. 

It was a great trip - definitely worth repeating a few times a year.  The only snag was the gigantic thunderstorm (I'm talking lightening and monsoon rains for 1.5 hours straight) that left us all stranded in the women's bathroom.  So close to the gift shop but so far away.  

On the plus side it was entertaining to watch the teenage zoo employees scamper around 'trying' to stay dry in between tram drop offs.  And the hand dryer in the bathroom worked great on the stroller.  - See, there is always a bright side.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Baltimore Zoo - First stop, Africa!

The Zoo is broken up into three sections and once the tram drops you off the choices are: Polar Bears, African Adventure, or Maryland Nature.  We heard a rumor on the tram that the new baby elephant is only outside for a short period of the morning so we headed into Africa first.

We were greeted by vultures and an amazing display of dancing long-legged birds (sorry...I think I was distracting a 17-month old and didn't get their name).   A little walk down the boardwalk (perfect for corralling little people) brought us right up to these hulking dudes.

Lounging in the summer sun.  

Meanwhile, Gina had a stare down with an Ostrich.  Let's just say that she walked away while he was still unblinking.  Dominated!

The Zebras.

One of the coolest exhibits is the giraffe area.  At first we were locked on the elephants, about to pass the (seemingly) empty giraffe zone.  As we were charging down the hill we saw two staff members waiting by the boulders in the pen - one of them making a clicking noise.

Sure enough, we see the head of one gigantic giraffe appear over the hill at the far end.  It came lumbering slowly - but definitely on a mission for food.  

While the first giraffe was eating another caught wind and came on over to check out the grub.  Disappointed that it's turn hadn't come yet it wandered over to the observation area where we were standing...five feet away.  The zoo lets you pay to feed the giraffe a leafy branch - which we opted not to do - but also has a little zone for watching.  While you can't touch them it was still super close.  We watched both giraffes for quite awhile - they were just so cool.

And finally.  The elephants.  The male even trumpeted at some passing trucks.

And the baby was still out playing.  It came over to the closest area - about ten feet away - when it saw us watching.  Owen was super excited...maybe because all the women were talking in their super-high-pitched-squeaky-baby-voices.  Eh.

And wrapping up Africa, Gina rode the camel.  She's so brave.  

I was happy that all the animals (save the lions) were out and showed off for us (and there were so many others that just didn't make the blog cut).  Being from Africa (duh) I guess the heat didn't bother them as much as it does the humans.  

Tomorrow I'll wrap up the trip with the Maryland nature exhibit, Gina's startling transformation, and our dramatic exit.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Baltimore Zoo

I was disappointed that we never got the chance to visit the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore while we lived so close.  We were preoccupied and Owen was perhaps a bit young to appreciate the animals.  But when my parents suggested the Zoo as a fun mid-way day trip I jumped at the chance.We had a great time.  

If you live close enough to drive and you have kids definitely consider it.  The zoo is the third oldest in the country but it is beautiful and modern.  There are quiet (ok...we did go on a weekday) trails winding through the forest and it seems like we were always turning the corner to find another amazing animal RIGHT THERE.   The first hour was filled with one of us exclaiming..."look at over there!"  

Owen was excited but I think the adults were the ones who had the most fun.

Here are a few shots of the day.  More will be posted during the week - my favorite is of the rhinos - so check back tomorrow.

I cropped my pasty legs out of this because, really, no one needs to see that.  Not even me.  The only party missing is Gina...who was taking the picture.  She'll appear later.  Trust me that you don't want to miss THOSE pictures.

We started off with some super friendly prairie dogs.  They were little charmers and certainly not afraid to show off for the camera.  We all watched this little one roll around to cool off in his dusty lounge for quite a bit before deciding to head to the larger game.

This is one of my favorites.  We didn't actually get to see the lions - who were indoors when we passed - but Owen probably thought this was good enough.

Cute mom.  On the tram to the 'actual' animal part.  We want the baby elephant!

There were some incredibly scenic areas.  So peaceful with the slight breeze  - it was easy to forget that we were in downtown Baltimore.

Tomorrow I'll post up the African Trek portion of our trip.  Rhinos and Giraffes(!!) and Elephants, oh my!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

After Dinner

Desiccated Artichokes.

Possibly the best hot-summer-day meal.

(Even Owen licked a few petals)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sugar and Spice

Today, Jon and I had another amazing opportunity to get a sneak peak at our next baby.

It's a girl!!!

She is delicate and tiny and beautiful.

We didn't get too many photos BUT we did get a video...what a treat to be able to watch her kick and stretch again and again.

I have to admit - the idea of raising a little girl used to scared me.  But I am 100%, totally, completely confident that SHE was planned to join this little family since before time began.  And that is thrilling to me.

I'm glad we have these next few months to settle in, she and I.  Months of morse code taps and rolls.  Months to dream and pray and invest in her future and into her sweet, gentle spirit.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Something about a good long weekend just wears me out.  

We got back late last night after celebrating the 4th with a bratwurst cook-off (Johnsonville won - Jon says so), ice cream sodas at the Jigger Shop, little cuties yelling things like "I LOVE THE BOOM-BOOMS!", the best firework seats in Ephrata (right out front of my parents house), a lots of naps.

I wish I had pictures but my battery was dead.  And I was napping.  Thankfully, I did get this fuzzy phone shot of my men during on of their siestas.

(We missed all our far away family...but DT will be happy to hear that Owen can now say Poobah and will run to find the little notebook with his caricature on it.  So sweet.)