325/365: Blurred

IMG_1871 copyThis is what most of my pictures look like these days: Iris scrambling out of/away from whatever cute thing she had been doing, eager to grab the camera and see what fantastic things might be displayed on the screen, what buttons she might manage to push…

Life—and a certain toddler—is a moving target.

And as July closes with only a 2,000 word dent in the manuscript, I’ll concede the same for trying to write fiction in the third trimester of a busy pregnancy. I was pretty disappointed for a couple of weeks in there, but I’m ok now. Making people takes a lot of time and energy too. And to be fair, there are lots of other, smaller tasks that seem appealing these days. Been organizing baby clothes and making to-do lists. Been cleaning (because I will not be cleaning again until Christmas). Been pinning encouraging things to my post-pregnancy board on Pinterest. Been lying on a blanket in the backyard while Iris plays.

Happiness is learning to roll with it.


320/365: {Sand} Bucket List


Playing at the splash park is hard work

Am dragging a bit today. Iris woke up at 2 and 3am and couldn’t fall back to sleep… leading to a major freak out that lasted until about 4:30am.

To cheer myself up then, I spent the morning nap time revisiting our summer bucket list, both to see if I could find some ideas for August and to give myself credit for all the fun things we’ve already done. There are also lots of great lists floating around online to get the juices flowing. Here’s what I ended up with. The items in bold are things we haven’t tackled yet.

Our {Sand} Bucket List


  1. Eat popsicles on the back porch
  2. Do more gardening (our first year with edibles!)
  3. Go to the beach (hard to find a beach worth visiting on the southeastern side of Michigan).
  4. Go to the zoo (petting zoos totally count)
  5. Get ice cream (pretty much every week…)
  6. Run through the sprinkler on a hot day
  7. Watch a rainstorm roll in; play in the puddles
  8. Make lemonade (still need to do this! Been meaning to try watermelon lemonade all summer)
  9. Make iced coffee (we’re getting pretty good!)
  10. Go on a road trip (or not. 1.5 yr olds are not awesome at road trips)
  11. Have a BBQ and invite friends (wait. Would we have to clean the house to do this?)
  12. Watch fireworks, light sparklers (yeah, we kind of missed that window)
  13. Go to the farmer’s market
  14. Pick fruit (cherries in Grand Rapids; strawberries and black raspberries in our yard)
  15. Enjoy the fireflies
  16. Make s’mores around a campfire
  17. Draw pictures with sidewalk chalk
  18. Go fishing (also not toddler friendly)
  19. Play a summer sport: baseball, tennis, volleyball. (Or be pregnant. Should’ve put that on the list)
  20. Go for a boat ride
  21. Read a fluffy book, purely for fun
  22. Float on a lake/river in an inner tube
  23. Play miniature golf
  24. Go to an outdoor concert (they have these every Friday night in Plymouth… but I’ve still never gone)
  25. Go to a street or county fair (Carl and Iris went to the Plymouth art fair. Close enough)
  26. Go on a picnic (but we could do more!)
  27. Fly a kite (kind of have to have one to fly one…)
  28. Go on a nature hike (more!)
  29. Go to the (children’s) museum (planning to do this during Carl’s August vacay)
  30. Visit an aquarium (this sounded so fun, but I don’t even know if we have one close to us. Must research)
  31. Go camping (see: Or Be Pregnant)
  32. Have a dance party (Iris loves these)
  33. Make a summer photo collage (yes! although I’m happy having tons of random snaps of Iris, a little photo inspiration wouldn’t hurt in the skill-building department)
  34. Explore some new parks
  35. Go star-gazing (this requires being awake and functioning after nightfall, so probably not this year)
  36. Eat on the patio
  37. Go to a water park (we’ve done the sprinkler park a bunch of times, but I’m still hoping to hit one of the bigger ones with pools and lazy rivers)
  38. Lay out in the sun (this is one of those things that sounds nice when it’s 40 degrees out but significantly less exciting when it’s 95. Or you’re pregnant)
  39. Do some house projects (I got Iris out of the house for a couple of days so Carl could finally paint the ceiling; bought houseplants; rearranged some furniture and bought decorative stuff)
  40. Try some new summery recipes (lots of types of salad, and the chicken lettuce wraps were a big success)

IMG_1824More adventures, please. August awaits!


317/365: First Popsicle

IMG_1805 copyShe had to get used to the icy cold thing and the vivd lime flavor (I bought those uppity real juice ones), but once down with that she was a fan.

The hot weather finally broke some time in the night, and we woke up to a perfect fall preview kind of morning. I feel like a new person. Like anything is possible. Like I need to start a new fall board in Pinterest. (Those things go together, right?).

Yesterday I sent Carl a text pic of Iris on the couch in her pajamas at 10am eating a sugar cookie and watching cartoons. This, I typed, is what giving up looks like.

But that was yesterday. This is today.

FURTHERMORE, I am half way through the documentary Happy on Netflix, and I’m all jazzed up on positive psychology now. Did you know, for instance, that circumstances—whether positive or negative—only account for about 10% of people’s happiness? That’s kind of crazy when you think about it. I’m so used to imagining how much happier I would be if I could figure out how to get Iris to “sleep in” until 6:30, or when she’s done teething, or when I’m not pregnant, or when I have enough mental space to get my writing schedule back together, or whatever. But 10% isn’t that much.

(50% is genetic according to studies involving identical twins, leaving about 40% resting on factors within a person’s control—although, obviously, not necessarily easy to identify or change).

The other thing I found kind of inspiring about the documentary was how relatively simple many of the factors are that relate to happiness. Variety/novelty is actually kind of huge. The brain is a “differential” instrument; changes provide context for it to identify, and allow you to feel, happiness. This explains why I feel so chipper when I get my hair cut. Even those seemingly non-profound changes—new bangs,  new recipes, a jog in the park instead of on the treadmill, a type of art you’ve never tried before, or the accomplishment of a task that’s escaped you far too long. These have real, measurable effects on your happiness.

Physical activity is one of the other major, natural highs.

So too close relationships with family and friends.

And all of those activities that allow you to lose yourself in the flow—gardening or writing or painting or whatever type of hobby you do purely for the love of it.

…. I was jotting all these notes down on my iPod yesterday while Iris snoozed on the couch next to me, and it suddenly whomped me how utterly unsurprising it should be that there’s an almost inevitable crash-and-burn period after the birth of a baby. I admit, this is the thing that sobers me most as I think about Little Man’s arrival. Those first few months with Iris were rough. Like dark night of the soul territory. And, yes, I realize there are major hormonal changes in the newly post-partum body, and obviously having a tiny person who is totally dependent on you is kind of daunting/awe-inspiring, and not getting enough sleep is its own category of ouch.

But also the little stuff, you know?

Like the fact that you do the same three things all day every day for months—feed the baby, monitor diapers, try to get the baby to sleep. Variety count? Zero.

Physical activity is also nonexistent. First because your body was recently ripped apart and stitched back together. Also because you have no time. So there’s that.

Flow activities also tend to fall by the wayside. And even though family and friends are being their supportive selves, bringing dinners and cleaning up the digs, it’s hard to have those connecting conversations that require time and the ability to process.

I’m not exactly sure what to do about that, but it does give me a framework of possibility at least. I can’t really control how much sleep I’m able to get, and the hormonal stuff is what it is, but the thought that there might be a few strings I can pull—that gives me a place to start.

I’ll take whatever I can get.


316/365: Domino’s Petting Farm

IMG_1792 copyOh, we’re big time explorers now. A new park yesterday and a petting farm today. What will we think of next? (A water park. That’s the correct answer. I found a local water park this morning while I was hunting online for fun summer activities—has a swimming pool, lazy river, and splash pads for toddlers. It’s not free like our even-more-local sprinkler park, but for $20 it sounds like a nice, full day for the fam. Am hoping to give it a try some hot Monday in August).

Iris enjoyed the petting farm quite a bit, although she was pretty startled by the sheep that let out a crazy-loud baa twelve inches from her face. The chickens and bunnies were more her speed. And if we’re being TOTALLY honest, the spaghetti lunch we enjoyed afterward at a nearby coney was probably her favorite part of the outing.

But it was another good day, and we even managed to squeeze in a few projects and Useful Things too. Carl put up some hooks in the bathroom so we finally have enough places to hang our bath towels. We pulled some weeds and came closer than usual to being caught up with the dishes. I went grocery shopping—and discovered I must be getting nearer to the end of this pregnancy than previously thought. Was supposed to pick up a pack of diapers for Iris and ended up getting not only the diapers for Iris but a ginormous box of newborn Pampers Swaddlers (after comparison shopping of ALL brands that carry newborn diapers, naturally. We use off-brands and cheaper brands for Iris now that we know she doesn’t have sensitive skin and are familiar with her usual program in the elimination department, but somebody bought us a bunch of Pampers Swaddlers when Iris was born, and I LOVED having the dye line that let me know as soon as she was wet. When everything else is chaos, there’s a certain—possibly irrelevant but nevertheless a—comfort in knowing you have the BMW of diapers). Anyway. Yes. A huge box of newborn diapers, some diaper rash cream, and then I spent ten minutes browsing all the other infant potions and lotions because, yeah, NESTING.


I may also have a partially completed document on my computer labeled “The Care & Feeding of Iris” for my friend who has (amazingly) volunteered to call in to work whenever I happen to go into labor so she can watch Iris for us. (If I have learned anything about friends in my life it’s that you don’t need a lot of friends. You just need awesome ones).


That was pretty much our day. Now it’s just me, up editing photos while Carl’s off at a game night with friends, thinking about maybe some blueberries and cream before calling it a night.

Here are some other snaps from our morning adventure. The last photo is Carl’s handiwork.

IMG_1783 IMG_1800 IMG_1803


315/365: New Places!



After a week of rough nights, hollow coughs, and too-humid-to-breathe forecasts we finally had one of those perfect summer days you dream about all year. We had our usual Sunday morning jaunt to Tim Horton’s for coffee and breakfast sammies, church was really good today, Iris was ECSTATIC about our trip to Ikea, Carl mowed the front yard while Iris and I played in the sprinkler out back, we ALL had a long nap, and after dinner we hit up our local drive through ice cream shop and


There’s a nice play area with slides, swingy bridges, swings, and tunnels for crawling through, but the really exciting part is a rutted dirt road that runs along a creek in the woods. My parents took us to plenty of parks when we were little, but we always seemed to live on or near forests and marshy lakes full of mosquitos and mud. Finding a little footpath down to the water, scouting out a pebbly spot of riverbank all our own, stripping off Iris’s onesie and splashing around in the pulling, sun-warm current—it felt like old times, it felt like new times, it just felt good.

Such a good day.

314/365: Shoes!

IMG_1763She’s been asking to wear my flipflops for DAYS. I will put her feet in them carefully so the toes catch on the strap, and then she will shuffle around looking pleased. For about two minutes until she gets tripped up or they fall off.

Today she decided to go even bigger. She wanted Carl’s gardening shoes. And for having feet at least ten times too small, she did pretty well!

Carl and I, still eating breakfast, just kind of looked at each other. At 5’3 I’m pretty sure Iris will be taller than me someday. I am short, and Carl is about average, but we both have tall genes in our families.

But we’d never thought about Little Man before, and it was funny to think that somebody who can’t even breathe on his own yet has a good chance of being taller than Carl someday with big, teenaged feet and lanky limbs.

I’m not saying I want them to grow up any faster.

But it is strange to think about.