Wednesday, March 31

I'm a Blogging Fool.

Today is a momentous day--it's my blogiversary! I wrote my first blog post one year ago and haven't looked back. I had no idea the joy this little bloggy would bring me... it's become so dear to me that I paid $4.95 for internet tonight so that I could compose this post (what kind of hotel doesn't have free internet?!?) I didn't want my blog to think I had forgotten it's special day. You know I love you, blog.

I started the blog to give me an easy way to share pictures and stories with friends and family. A year later, it has become more than I ever expected. Here's how:
  1. I've made "blog friends" who I have never met, but feel like I have. I've reconnected with old friends who have blogs. And tricked lots of current friends into starting blogs. Basically, I love to snoop in other people's lives and I'm pretty sure having a blog is like a free pass to stick my nose in other people's business. (Those hyperlinks are my blogiversary gift to you. Sorry if I forgot you. But I'm paying by for internet by the hour here.)
  2. I started RV Designs with Victoria. I never would have thought I would love blog design/html code so much. We are having a lot of fun and taking ourselves a little too seriously. But we are about 1/4 of the way to having enough money to buy ourselves new laptops--not too shabby!
  3. I've gotten some great advice. When I've had trouble getting Finley to eat/sleep or needed help picking out music for marathon running, the blog has been there. I've been so appreciative of all the comments, emails and messages from friends. Really, every time I get an email telling me there is a new comment, I just get so excited.
  4. I have a fantastic record of Finley's first year. Just today Sol said, "I'm glad you've been blogging about our life." And really, the blog is just a great reference for helping me remember stuff that I would forget otherwise. I honestly wish I had started it sooner! I know the blog is not always interesting, so thanks for sticking around! I promise that sometimes I will write about awesome stuff.
  5. I have a captive audience forced to listen to me ramble about my love for the 50mm lens, the Garmin, and all things Google. The number of people who I have convinced to buy that lens and GPS makes me feel like I am doing my part to help the economy rebound.
  6. It has turned me into a better photographer (I hope). If you cruise back in time, I think I am getting better. Proof: self-portrait while riding a bike. Plus, I look slightly crazy. Only a truly gifted photographer could do that.

So, really, this blogiversary is dedicated to you, friend/stalker/random googler, and to me. I hope that you have enjoyed the journey as much as I have.

And if you now realize you can't wait another minute to have a blog of your own, let us know and we'll hook you up.

Monday, March 29


We're on Spring Break! Yippee! We're currently at my mom's house in South Carolina. We're headed to the coast soon, but stopped here to (1) see my mom and (2) get some professional pictures taken much more affordable-y than we could in NOVA.

Finley really enjoyed banging on the piano today--and I think this picture was darling.

A few of my mom's friends from the area brought their two little boys over and the three little boys composed a symphony. It was so fun to watch them sit together and bang on the keys.

Side note: I decided to shoot in RAW for the first time with these pictures and I think I butchered them. I need some advice--anyone shoot in RAW and have success? I used Photoshop to make the adjustments and think I overdid the exposure and white balance? Help please!

Saturday, March 27

A Visit from the Grandparents

We had a busy weekend followed by a busy week, which why the previous weekend is being posted about on Saturday. Sol's parents came to visit and continue their quest to spoil our child. For some reason, I never take enough photos when we have company! The last two guests have had very very few pictures taken of them. Here's a little recap of the weekend.

Sol, his mama and Finley came and supported me at the half-marathon. (I'd say they watched me, but they actually didn't get to see me run due to a GPS/SOL malfunction.) We went to Eastern Market afterward and decided NOT to wait in a really long line for pancakes. I got a sugar waffle (much like the ones on the ski slopes, Marie and Dawn!) and it was delicious. We also picked up a few cute outfits for Finley because he has some big events coming up! One year photo shoot, birthday and baptism are all around the corner. It's going to be a busy April!

We also toured around Georgetown for a bit--we did some shopping and some eating. We had lunch at Farmers and Fishers and bought SEVEN cupcakes at Baked and Wired. They were delicious. It was such a lovely day to walk around the city.

It's always so nice to get to share Finley with family--and I can't wait for the day when he starts to recognize and remember people he doesn't see often. I'll be showing him the picture often so that he doesn't forget his doting grandparents!

**I recognize the need to shoot at a higher f-stop. I might try to do that. I feel like it would be nice for my subjects to have ALL of their faces in focus.

Thursday, March 25

11 Months

I've been avoiding writing about how Finley is now... GASP... 11 months old. It can't be true. I can't be one month from having a one year old human being in my care. Can't be. Refusing to accept that particular fact. The only thing I like about the impending birthday is the PARTY I get to plan. It's going to be a doozy.

At 11 months...

Finley walks around like crazy with his lion and cruises on the furniture. He hasn't really figured out how to bend his knees and his straightlegged little walk is precious. He has gotten crawling down pat--sometimes he crawls so fast he tips over. He's so cute, I like him so much. I don't think I've mentioned that before, have I?

He hasn't taken a bottle in a while but he likes to drink from his sippy cup. We're trying to get him to eat more finger foods on his own, but he does a good job with the mushed up stuff I make for him. Sleeping is still going well too--he went through a few days where he refused to take an afternoon nap, but he's back on track now.

Finley is a chatty kid. He loves to make new noises and practice using his voice. He babbles "mama", "dada", "baba" and a variety of other noises. And one time I think he said, "ROAR!" to his lion (he's holding it in the picture below). He loves to go for rides in the stroller, swing at the park and giggle at everything.

We love you Finley. You are the sweetest thing we could ever have.

Wednesday, March 24

Only HALF of a Marathon

This past Saturday, I ran the National Half Marathon as part of my training for the Pittsburgh Marathon. My initial plan was to use it as part of my 20 mile run (do 13 and then keep going) but my friend Jenni somehow convinced me race the Half, and then do a 20 mile run with her AFTER school Friday. (I think I am crazy to have agreed to that.)

So the race--I ran the Half faster than I've run any significant distance before. It was a GREAT race and Jenni was a great partner. Aside from making a rookie mistake of having Chipotle the day before and needing to take a "bathroom break" at mile 9, it was perfect. I ran somewhere in the 1:41 area (after I factor out my little break). This put me at 7:44 miles--way faster than the 8:23 miles I need to qualify for Boston! I'm cautiously optimistic...

I know I need to stop running marathons eventually--they take way too much time to train for and are not good for my body. After running this race, I decided I could maybe do halfs instead. Here are my thoughts:

1. Half marathons only take half as long.
2. You still get a medal and a t-shirt.
3. It's still a long enough distance that I have to train for it.
4. I still feel proud of myself after running one.

1. My pride is a little wounded that I'm only doing half--not a full.
2. They only burn half as many calories.

Looks like the pros outweigh the cons... as soon as I qualify for and run Boston, I'll be ready to trade my marathon shoes for half marathon shoes. Maybe. We'll see. I'm, like, addicted to running. It's strange.

I forgot to link to my mom's post on my sisters blog on Monday! Head over and say hi.

Monday, March 22

For the Love of TV

So, I'm still behind in my TV watching (no thanks to the actual March Madness that has monopolized the TV), reinforcing the need to make some cuts. After some soul searching and wise counsel from friends, here's what we've got.

Remember, in my tournament, the losers advance. If you don't know what a loser is, here is a picture to help you understand.

Ok, back to TV.

Modern Family vs 30 Rock
Loser: 30 Rock

This definitely is like KU and No. Iowa. People are like, what's that No. Iowa team? I haven't heard of them. But I know KU. They are, like, the best. NOT! Modern Family is surprisingly quick and has fewer turnovers! Or something!

HIMYM vs Big Bang Theory
Loser: BBT

I just can't say goodbye to NPH. Or that silly Marshall. Even though BBT has some pretty colorful characters, I think they are a little easier to say goodbye to. And I got some wise counsel regarding TV watching during the summer hiatus from Mrs. B--BBT is an ideal candidate to watch later.

Mentalist vs LOST
Loser: The Mentalist

Self-explanatory, no?

Glee vs American Idol
Loser: American Idol
I love you, Ryan Seacrest, but AI takes up soo maaany hooours, I can't handle it. I'm ready for some GLEE!

Brothers and Sisters vs Ugly Betty
Loser: Brothers and Sisters
So, this is Betty's last season and the CUTE senator from GG was on last week. I want to see how it all ends. I think Brothers and Sisters is perfect to catch up when all the other shows are done in the lonely summer months.

Gossip Girl vs Grey's Anatomy
Loser: Gossip Girl

Because I value my friendship with Courtney, Grey's is in it to win it for the time being. Those silly doctors have been my pals for a long time, and I'm not ready to say goodbye. Those UES kids though? We might be breaking up. Paige and Katie--they have one more week. Even though Little J is killing me, Chuck keeps me hanging around. I love the villain.

Community vs The Office
Loser: The Office
This one was kind of an upset. I think in basketball speak, Community may be a Cinderella team, or something? The Office grates on my nerves. And Community never fails to make me laugh. Sorry, Michael. Sorry, Dwight. You still have a chance in the next round--bring your A-game.

Psych vs Parenthood
Loser: Psych
Unbeknownst to me, Psych is actually done for the season. Kind of an unfair match-up. I think this is like what would happen of BYU had beat us and they had to play on a Sunday.

Friday, March 19

Wild Child

I tried to capture Finley's latest trick on video for his adoring fans--but I was not too successful. He thinks its fun to make noises while you pat his mouth, like a little Indian. (Or Native American, sorry if that isn't the PC way to describe it.)

1. He really will do it on his own--but the camera is too fun and distracting. He gets close around 0:14.
2. He does not follow directions well. I ask very nicely for him to do his trick, and he declines. I hope this is not an indication of future parent/child conflicts.
3. He's real cute.

Wednesday, March 17

March Sadness: Tournament of Losers

I think I watch too much TV.

And because of this basketball thing that people keep filling out brackets for, I thought I would make a bracket to help me scale back my TV time. Because, let's face it, I watch enough TV to equal a part time job. And if TV watching was my part time job, I would get FIRED because I am so far behind.

I'm currently (and conveniently) watching 16 shows. If my poor heart can take it, I'm going to kick four shows out of my schedule. So instead of winners advancing like in that basketball thing, in my bracket the losers will advance.

On Friday, I'm going to review the shows throughout the week. And it's going to be sad. I'll keep you posted about who advances to their DEATH.

Here are the contenders:

Modern Family vs 30 Rock
These are both 30 minute comedies, and they both routinely make me laugh a lot. 30 Rock has Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan and they are delightful. However, sometimes 30 Rock is a little tooo ridiculous. Modern Family has a whole slew of very, very funny people: Gloria and Phil are my favorites. And Manny. Oh, Manny.

HIMYM vs Big Bang Theory
Two more 30 minute comedies. I have a feeling that HIMYM is going to be the champion in this particular match-up. I just started watching Big Bang Theory and I really like it, but I'm not as committed to it as I am to HIMYM. However, BBT appeals to my inner-nerd and that makes me smile.

Mentalist vs LOST
This is a pretty unfair match-up. I love Simon Baker's hair, but I love every inch of LOST. How can you not?

Glee vs American Idol
I love singing and dancing. A lot. Lucky for Glee, I have been way waaay behind in my Idol viewing. And how can I not love a show who has characters named Finn and Rachel? But how can I turn away from Ryan Seacrest? And Ellen? What's a girl to do?

Brothers and Sisters vs Ugly Betty
I'm not sure how this one is going to turn out... It's Ugly Betty's last season and I'm a couple seasons behind in B&S. But I love them both--full of characters I love and much drama. And comedy.

Gossip Girl vs Grey's Anatomy
One might argue that these shows are essentially the same--only one is set in a Seattle hospital and the other in is a NYC prep school. They both are very intense drama and have a lot of... um, romance... and I probably only need one of them in my life. Grey's has been a part of my life for a long time, but I like to look at Blair's headbands. This one will be a nail biter.

Community vs The Office
Two more silly 30 minute comedies. The Office has been my old friend for so long, but I am so tired of Michael Scott's antics. And now that Jim and Pam are married I don't have much reason to keep watching. Community, however, is fresh and full of Joel McHale, and hilarious Troy and Abed.

Psych vs Parenthood
These shows are an unlikely pairing. Psych is ridiculous and Parenthood stresses me out with its family drama. And I adore/love/want to be best friends with Lauren Graham. But Psych is full of fun 80s pop culture references. Parenthood is new to the scene, but I think it might be able to pull off a win.

Stay tuned for my heartbreaking choices...

Tuesday, March 16

Boys and their Toys

Finley's current favorite toy is this little yellow car. He searches through his toy box for it and loves to crawl around pushing it. We think it is mysterious how little boys innately know about pushing cars... although sometimes he pushes around an elephant puzzle piece, so maybe he doesn't know what he is doing.

The car is the kind that runs on it's own after you scoot it back and forth, and even though Finn doesn't know how to make it go, he is delighted when Sol and I drive it back and forth by him. We spent quite awhile this evening playing with it--its so cute to watch him crawl around after it and play with it on the floor.

And a very special thank you to Andrew and Ashley, the gifters of the car. You guys know your baby toys.

Also, I can't get him to wear two socks at the same time. He really likes his toes to wiggle.

And you can almost see his baby mullet in these pictures.

That is all.

Sunday, March 14

Happy Pi Day!

I'm taking a short break from Pi Day festivities to share some fun π facts with you.
  • Visit Google to see their Pi logo for the day.
  • In 1897, Indiana almost passed a bill that made π = 3.2.
  • A good estimate of π is 22/7.
  • Middle school students are very impressed that I know this much of π: 3.1415926. And that is pretty lousy by math teacher standards.
  • Alison likes to sing me a song about π. (Please post it in the comments, Al!)
  • My favorite math fact is that e ^ (i*π) + 1 = 0. It's proof that God exists.
  • Do you know what π is? It is the very special constant that occurs when you divide the circumference by the diameter of every circle.
  • Mr. Boast, my high school math teacher, wore lots of π shirts... Pumpkin Pie, Pie in the Sky... and I thought they were cool.
  • Akira Haraguchi took 16 hours to recite 100,000 digits of π. From memory.
I'm having Shepherd's Pie and Peanut Butter Pie for dinner. How are you celebrating Pi Day?

(This post was posted as close to official Pi time as I could get... March 14 at 1:59 PM.

Saturday, March 13

Two Vics and a Rach

Victoria and I got to hang out with one of favorite sorority sisters, Vicki, for dinner this week... this is blogworthy for several reasons.

1. Vicki is a Foreign Service Officer in Jamaica and she has a cool life.
2. We went to the Cheesecake Factory and I had the red velvet cheesecake. It has 0 calories and 0 grams of fat. It is delicious. Also I had 3 large diet cokes.
3. Finley is becoming pretty good at eating dinner out with us--he stayed up way past his bedtime and held himself together pretty well. He was quite charming and entertained the whole table. He only had to be plied with yogurt melts a little bit. (He had another rough night going to bed, but I am blaming this one on us.)
4. Finley was quite fond of Vicki--maybe it was her pretty, shiny hair or maybe it was because he remembered that Vicki gave him his FAVORITE stuffed animal. He loves, loves to cuddle with his monkey. (I was going to include a picture of him cuddling with the monkey, but he is currently refusing to nap, so no picture.)
5. Vicki is a frequent reader of both of our blogs--she called herself a "lurker"--it was funny to talk to her and have her already know some of the stories we were going to share. We love our lurkers. I am hoping that having a post about dear Vicki might give her the confidence to leave a comment. What do you think, Vicki? Don't be scared!
6. We are trying to convince Vicki to start a blog. (Not just because we would design it, obviously.) She is really funny and smart and has cool things that happen to her. And we are nosy and want to know about it. Start a blog, friend--all the cool kids (Victoria and I) are doing it!
7. We took these pictures--which is noteworthy because we used a FLASH. We tried to avoid shooting with a flash at all costs but it was pretty dark in the restaurant. Finley thought the flash was so cool. He looked at the camera and smiled... I now have to decide if its worth it to have nice lighting or a baby looking at the camera.

Also, Victoria, the second picture is out of focus. But I forgive you. I think the flash threw you off.

Thursday, March 11


Dear Mothers of Small Children, I need help.

Finley has decided that he doesn't need an afternoon nap this week. I disagree with him. He also decided he doesn't need to nurse before going to bed. Again, I disagree. And currently, because I am the world's biggest sucker, he is playing with us and watching Community, even though it is 2 hours past his bedtime. He just kept crying... and I am a wimp. And the saddest part? The only way to get him to stop crying was for Sol to hold him. As soon as I take him, he starts to wail again because I am the horrible woman who tries to feed him and make him sleep. I am so terrible.

I know I shouldn't have let him get up. But it was pathetic. Look at those sad tears and that drippy nose. Oh, I am a sucker.

Wednesday, March 10

Mondays with Mom: Courage

I am writing this post from a hotel in Tupelo, MS. I am halfway through a solo 15 hr trek from Owasso, OK to Greenville, SC.

Stage One - I was fearless. The fearlessness lasted almost all day. I was zipping down the road munching on my car food and enjoying my treasure chest of podcasts.

Stage Two – I was irrational. It was 6:30pm, it was dark and my gas tank was near empty I drove past two “scary” gas stations before choosing one that didn’t look “scary”. I considered driving to the hotel on fumes to avoid stopping at a scary gas station in the dark. My angst multiplied as I continued to dwell on all the scary things that could happen to me when I got out of the car.

Stage Three – I became rational. Really now... Is it riskier to fill up with gas at 6:30pm on a dark winter day versus 6:30pm on a sunny summer day? I doubt it. The same folks frequent the gas station at 6:30 whether it is daylight savings time or not. When I pulled into the gas station, I found myself surrounded by some very nice chatty gas impaired motorists - just like me. Moms with kids, people on their way home from work, silly teenagers….nothing to be fearful of.

Don’t get me wrong. Listening to the voice of caution in your brain is a good thing, but sometimes we need to invite logic to the conversation.

My actions were driven by the wrong fear. My great fear should have been running out of gas on a dark road – not being attacked at a well lit gas station.

Pictorial examples of irrational and rational fear (aka-shameless excuse to show cute pics of my babies)

Irrational fear: Heavy machinery rarely sneaks up on our kids and runs them over.

Rational fear: Children on the edge of a cliff should be holding someone’s hand.

Irrational fear can keep us from the joy of living life to its fullest. Life is risky – always will be. But, it is worth the risk.

The gas tank is now full and I am closer to home.

Monday, March 8


Today was finally warm enough to head down to the park and play. It was Finley's first time to swing, and he really liked it. He giggled and grinned... and then started to shiver, so we took him home. Here are some darling pictures of Finn and his dad.

(And Mondays with Mom will resume sometime this week. My mom was having writers block. It happens.)

Friday, March 5

Feeding a Baby

Anyone watch the Office last night? If you don't have a baby, or haven't spent a lot of time around a baby, I'm guessing some of the night's events caught you off guard. Pam and Jim had their baby girl (sigh), hilarity obviously ensued, and the watching world was exposed to the scary, difficult experience that is childbirth and learning to breastfeed. The scene at the end where Pam finally gets their little girl to latch on was really sweet--I think I teared up. The writers wrote a very honest account (with the exception of the baby mix-up) of how scary it is to have a newborn and try to keep them alive, all on your own.

Before I had Finley, there was a lot I didn't know. For some reason, I didn't feel inclined to read up on how to have a baby or feed a baby or raise a baby or get them to sleep... I just assumed we'd figure it out. And for the most part, we have.

One area I had no idea I didn't know about was feeding a baby solids. Before I was faced with that decision, I guess I assumed that jarred baby food was the only thing you would feed a baby. Somehow, it didn't occur to me that I can mash up food just as well as Gerber... and it would be cheaper and healthier and fresher. And fill my garbage with fewer tiny glass jars.

Like most decisions I have made about raising Finley, I just did whatever I thought would be best for him and easiest for me. So for feeding him solids, I decided to go ahead and make my own food. The babies I knew who were slightly older than Finley were eating foods their moms made, so I assumed that was the easiest thing to do. And I really didn't want to carry grocery sacks full of baby food home from Safeway. Or feed him the horrible things I tasted at my baby shower.

So for those of you who didn't realize that you can make your own food (shocking!), here's a little bit about we do in our kitchen. It's surprisingly easy!

1. Go to the grocery store and buy delicious food. I'm trying to use mostly organic stuff for him... and it still ends up being cheaper than buying jarred stuff. Currently he eats lots and lots of produce, egg yolks, Yo-Baby yogurt and chicken and turkey... along with some other snack-y things.

2. Cook the food however its supposed to be cooked. Above is some broccoli I cooked that is all ready to be prepared.

3. Blend up the food to your babies level of smoothness. I've stopped using the food processor so much and have started using a potato masher. Finley has many teeth that he needs to sharpen... so I'm trying to make things a little chunkier.

4. Glob the mixture into an ice cube tray. Freeze.

5. Remove and put into gallon bags.

6. Take out a few cubes at a time for each meal!

It takes a little bit of time to cook the food--but once it's in the freezer, it's so convenient to grab a few cubes for mealtime. And having fresh produce around is helping Sol and I to eat a little better as well.

A note: Finley loves avocado which does NOT need to be cooked. I cut an avocado into quarters and just freeze the left over three sections. They keep pretty well in the freezer.

Another note: Pureed meat is repulsive.

Thursday, March 4

Young Love.

Is it too early to send out the engagement announcement?

I kid. I'm trying not to be "that mom" her marries her kid off to other babies at a young age... but they already have the same last name. It's hard to resist.

Finley is lucky to already have so many eyeballs to poke great baby friends. He gets to play with Calvin everyday, and occasionally his first-cousin-once-removed, (I think???) Alexandra and the other babies in our bible study. And there is an ever-increasing of babies being produced by our Boston small group... and the number of kids my high school friends will eventually produce is astronomical, I'm sure.

I LOVE being in the phase of life where there are always new babies to celebrate!

Tuesday, March 2

Little Baby Edmund

We finally got to meet Finley's newest little buddy--Edmund Woods. Carrie and Cory seem to have the parenting thing down pretty well and Edmund already has a million times more hair than Finley.

Finley was pretty good with Edmund... we're still working on not poking eyeballs. The boys got dressed in their matching outfits and seeing little little Edmund was a crazy reminder of how fast they grow. It is incredible. I don't even have words to describe what an honor it is to watch little babies grow up.

Carrie and I made up some slang names for our kids: Edmund is Ed$$ and Finley is /\ley. We tried to come up with one for Harper, but it was dumb. Sorry, Hill.

We strolled around the campus Cory teaches at and took some cute pictures of Finley on Sol's shoulders. Oh I love that boy.

I love it when my friends have babies for me to hold. It delays my need to replace this one with a newer model.
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