Babe's first Halloween

This is about as dressed up as you'll see the babe this year. We couldn't go to the church party and honestly, we didn't really see the point beyond that.

From our home to yours, happy Halloween with an extra dose of rawr!


month two

{Let me start off with the caveat that Asher's onesie design is not as clean as I would have liked. Not that he cares. We're blaming it on my Silhouette's current incapacitation. Also, it's really hard to take good natural-light photos when your apartment is a cave. Carry on.}

:: Asher smiles up a storm now, though when I pull out that big black camera, he turns shy on me.

:: His smiles are usually much bigger than this, but I'll take what I can get.
:: When he's in a good mood, he'll chat it up with coos, and it's pure delight.

:: We kicked off month two by moving Asher to the crib, and everyone here agrees that was a great idea.
:: He recognizes Josh and me and will smile as big as he can when he sees us.
:: At his two-month check, he weighed in at 13 lbs. 6 oz. and measured 24.5 inches long with a 16-inch head circumference.

:: He's most comfortable in six-month sleepers, but we've been stretching his three-month ones as long as we can.

:: At his doctor visit, the doctor asked, "Is he always this mellow?" The answer is yes, he really is that happy about 90 percent of the time.
:: Lucky mom and dad, right?

:: His neck rolls collect lint.
:: Asher's expressions often look confused or scared.
:: We bought him a play-gym, and he loves it.

:: Josh is adamant about Asher having his tummy time.

:: Asher has a strong neck but sometimes gets fed up this exercise.

:: Just the other night we realized that Asher won't unexpectedly flex his arms when he sleeps anymore, like he did as a newborn.
:: That's probably because he's not a newborn anymore.
:: I have mixed emotions about that.

:: Not all our days are wonderful, but even on hard days, I couldn't think of a job I'd rather be doing.



Asher got a few shots yesterday. He was really offended by it.

I made up for it by devoting my entire afternoon to snuggles. Win-win, really.


year two

In the summer of 2009 I was included a group Facebook message from Josh.

Hey, everybody!

Wait! Don't stop reading just because this message lacks the intimate touch that a personal correspondence would have had. I would have stopped by now, so I thank you for your continued reading.
The thing is, having a phone in your pocket is a completely fine thing to do. So is jumping in the pool, really. But it turns out that if both of these things happen too close together, you may be faced with a horrible inconvenience. And so I pass that inconvenience on to you.
I was hoping you all could help me reconstruct my depleted contact list by either texting your name to xxx.xxx.xxxx, or responding with your number to this message.
I suppose that if you have been looking for just such an opportunity to get my incessant calls to stop, now is your chance to not respond. Otherwise, I'd love to be able to reach you sometime. Especially all of you beautiful ladies.
That may have been creepy,
It had been months since I'd seen him and over a year since I'd dated him, so the logical part of me said I should ignore it. Why would I need him to have my number? I honestly expected to never date him again. For whatever reason, though, I texted him; he had my number again.

What if I hadn't responded to that group message? What if he didn't have my number when he'd want it a few months later? When he'd finally get that urge to call after so long, would he have bothered to track me down, or would he have just chalked it up to fate, letting me go?

Maybe things would have still worked out. But maybe not. All I know is that I'm sure glad that I texted him my number, because otherwise I might not have had this day two years ago.


Happy anniversary, love. You're the best choice I've ever made.


over a cup of cocoa

It's overcast and rainy today. I love it. It's the kind of weather that begs for sweaters and soup. If you were to stop by this morning, I'd offer you a seat on the couch and ask if you wanted some cocoa.

I'd tell you how ready I am for rain again, how I've been so excited to bust out my sweaters and rain boots.

I'd mention our plans to spend the day at the coast tomorrow to celebrate our anniversary, which is Monday.

I might tell you about how having a baby has actually made grocery shopping easier for me. Because shopping with a babe is so much more cumbersome and involved, I plan ahead now and go grocery shopping only once a week instead of several times.

If asked, I'd tell you all about Asher's many perfections, a litany that would surely be interrupted several times by Asher's coos. Actually you probably wouldn't have to ask me about him; I'd gush unprompted.

I'd admit that I don't like my stretchmarks, even though I know they're a marker of something beautiful and divine.

I'd tell you about how vulnerable motherhood has made me. My heart has never been in this place before, and it's exhilarating and terrifying--truly sublime.

I'd confess that when Asher sleeps, I go and check on him several times. Really, though, I just like to look at him.

I'd ask you about your plans for the holidays, what traditions you're looking forward to, and how your family is doing.

I'd offer to let you hold Asher, but only if you wanted to. I've never been that person who loves to hold every single baby. If you're like me, I take no offense. It's a-okay.

I'd ask if you've read any good books lately. Or bad books. I'd ask what you thought about them and why.

I'd ask you what your favorite iPhone apps are, because I am finally joining the smart-phone club.

I'd thank you for stopping by and say, "We should do this again soon!" I'm often content to hole myself up and hibernate (regardless of the season), and embarrassingly I give myself a pat on the back whenever I initiate socializing.

After you left I'd rinse out the empty cocoa mugs and put them in the dishwasher. I might turn on a TV show, read my book, or write.

What would you talk about over a cup of cocoa?



{all pictures circa 7 weeks}

We've come across several people who think we made up Asher's name. Lest you think I dally in the business of name engineering, Asher is far from a name manufactured to spark a dated trend.

Josh and I got the idea for Asher's name from one of our favorite books, My Name Is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok. (My father-in-law showed a little concern when he learned what the book was about--the coming-of-age of the tortured soul of a Jewish artist--so let the record show that we didn't name our Asher after the fictional one.) The name Asher is actually found in the Bible, Asher being one of the twelve sons of Israel (and given that the biblical Asher was a conspirator in selling Joseph into slavery, we didn't necessarily name our Asher after that one either).

Asher in Hebrew means happy. Throughout my pregnancy I thought about all that I wanted for this babe and his life. I found the meaning for his name appropriate because ultimately--and as with all parents--happiness is what I wanted for his life. Since his birth, however, I've realized that while he is certainly a happy and contented babe, he makes us happy--so happy. He brings a unique brand of happiness into our lives and lights our home with the brightest of spirits.

Now that I know him a little better, I'm positive that Asher is the only name that would ever fit him. He's redefined happiness for me, and it's glorious.



:: Naps have been a little better this week, except for this afternoon when Asher chatted in his crib for an hour. It was adorable.
:: Now he's cranky. Super.

{circa 3 weeks}

:: We gave Asher his first bottle this week. While initially dubious, he drank almost three ounces. We tried another bottle last night and he would have none of it. He freaked out.

:: After Netflix finally added the newest season of 30 Rock, Josh and I blew through it in about two days.
:: I made another batch of chocolate chip cookies last night, but for dessert this time.
:: Last Friday night one of our neighbors mistook our apartment for hers and walked in. Yes, that really happened.


OSR: May through September 2012, a.k.a many, many book reviews

It has been a long time since I've posted any book reviews. Even despite having a newborn around, though, I've somehow managed to stay on track for my 2012 reading goal.

Before we dive into book reviews, however, I'd like to announce the October scary book (never mind that we're already ten days into the month). If you'd like to join me in reading a scary book in October, go to your library and pick up The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. The October scary book is in its third year, and it's one of my favorite traditions. If you decide to join in, please let me know!

Now for the reviews. If you actually make it through all of these, serious kudos.


RecapitulationRecapitulation by Wallace Stegner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I give this three stars only because Stegner's writing is excellent; the story I didn't care for. I found the plot a little indulgent, the main character too stagnant. I can appreciate nostalgic writing, but not when it takes the place of the character moving forward in his own present. I was looking forward to reading another of Stegner's work, because I so enjoyed Angle of Repose, but Recapitulation was a letdown.

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My expectations for this book were not especially high; in fact, when I picked it up in my breakroom at work, I expected to maybe make it a few pages in. I was pleasantly surprised, however, and ended up checking it out from the employee library. The writing was decent, the characters likeable and developed, and the plot enjoyable albeit predictable.

I'd definitely categorize this book under "chick-lit"; it's an easy read that's still enjoyable, a romance that doesn't titillate as much as it entertains. I read most of this book on the Oregon coast, and it was quintessential beach material. Don't expect Jane Austen, but do enjoy what Edenbrooke has to offer.

RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four stars seems too few but I didn't love it enough to give it five stars, so let's call it four-and-a-half.

I've read few books as unique and compelling as Room--think reading-in-the-check-out-line kind of compelling. I was impressed by how deftly the author told such an intense story in such an innocent way. With five-year-old Jack as the narrator I got the full and thorough story but without any graphic details.

This was a remarkable story about love and survival, acceptance and home.

The Winds and the Waves (Come to Zion, #1)The Winds and the Waves by Dean Hughes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really liked Hughes's Children of the Promise books, and so I was excited to read the first book of his newest series. The parallel stories are well woven, and the characters are likeable and relateable. Sometimes Hughes leans toward the didactic side, but not often. I don't know much about the LDS Saints who came across from England, and this book gave me good insight into that piece of history. I'm looking forward to Hughes's next installment.

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

June 2012: I was needing an engaging and familiar read for a flight, and on a whim grabbed this from the bookshelf on my way out to the airport. I'm again impressed by the character development and the strength of the plot. This was a great reread.

The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying BirthThe Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth by William Sears
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I liked most about this book was that the authors didn't have an agenda. Birthing options are loaded topic, and I left feeling informed rather than mauled. I appreciated that this book didn't try to tell me that I'm a bad mom if I opt for an epidural, and I liked the purpose the book had of actually informing mothers about birth, birth options, and the birthing process. I feel much more ready for labor after reading this.

A Separate PeaceA Separate Peace by John Knowles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this novel compelling in a simple way. The plot is simple but the emotions and relationships in it are not. A Separate Peace made me think, and I liked that.

Sense and SensibilitySense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd never actually read Sense and Sensibility before, and I'm so glad I took the time to now. I love the relationship between Elinor and Marianne and the simple, yet intriguing, plot. I kind of wanted Elinor instead of Marianne to wind up with Colonel Brandon; regardless, I enjoyed the plot, characters, and humor. I figure you can't really go wrong with Jane Austen, right?

So That's What They're For!: The Definitive Breastfeeding GuideSo That's What They're For!: The Definitive Breastfeeding Guide by Janet Tamaro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a book recommended to me by a couple of different friends. For a new mother, this book covers everything: why breastfeed, the advantages and importance of breastfeeding, starting to breastfeed, dealing with minor problems to more serious ones, and handling the life adjustments that come with nursing a newborn.

While at times I felt overwhelmed by what I learned, I feel much more prepared for nursing after reading this. I'd recommend this book to any mother new to breastfeeding. It's one of the best books I've read to get ready for this babe!

On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime SleepOn Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me start off by saying that regardless of the book, I take all parenting literature with a grain of salt. Parenting is a hot-button issue, and the theories villify each other. I've read up a bit on a couple of them, and I pick and choose aspects that I like and that will apply to me and my child. I don't believe that following one particular philosophy to the letter will guarantee my child's success or failure.

I really liked many aspects of the Babywise approach to parenting. I like routines, and I like knowing what to expect out of my days. I think that I will be able to parent most effectively if I can figure out a routine for my babe and me. That's not to say, however, that I can't be flexible when needed, because my baby's well-being is more important to me than a schedule.

Especially since my baby has already started to establish his own rough schedule, I really feel that if we both know what to expect from the basic structure of our days then we'll both be the better for it.

When it comes to parenting philosophies like Babywise, I think that for some parents and children, the schedule will really produce great results. Not every approach, however, will work for every parent-child combo. Parenting is personal, and I thought that some of the criticism Babywise offered on other parenting paradigms was unfair.

Here's the thing: you're the parent, so do what feels right for your family. What works for one family might not work for another. For me, many aspects of the Babywise approach were appealing and made sense to me.

Since You Went Away (Children of the Promise, #2)Since You Went Away by Dean Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm rereading this series for the first time, and I've been enjoying it. LDS fiction is usually not my thing, but I do really enjoy this series. The characters are interesting, albeit sometimes stereotypical, and the view they give to WWII is informative and compelling.

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age TwoThe Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two by William Sears
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Let me start off by saying that regardless of the book, I take all parenting literature with a grain of salt. Parenting is a hot-button issue, and the theories villify each other. I've read up a bit on a couple of them, and I pick and choose aspects that I like and that will apply to me and my child. I don't believe that following one particular philosophy to the letter will guarantee my child's success or failure.

I really liked the Searses' Birth Book, and so I had high hopes for their baby book. For some things it's a good reference, but I found that I didn't connect so much with the attachment parenting this book promotes.

I like the theory behind attachment parenting that encourages establishing trust with your infant, but I don't think that attachment parenting is the only way to do that. As with other parenting books I've read, I take out the elements I like and disregard what I don't feel comfortable with.

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a WomanI Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Meh. Nora is a good writer, and that's what she had going for her in these essays more than the topics. I'd like to read one of her other essay compilations that focuses on a different subject.

View all my reviews


from Monday to Wednesday

Today I feel heavy. I feel more adult, and I don't know if it's my favorite feeling right now. I'm weighed down by not anything earth-shattering, just a collection of small life things that sometimes add up, small things that will sometimes come to a head on a Monday morning.

The sun is shining, and the leaves are vibrant. I have a beautiful babe with whom I fall more in love every day and a loving husband whom I adore. So it baffles me when I feel this way, because I don't feel like I have a right to this ennui. But I do feel it, despite the many reasons not to.

I'll pull out of this; I always manage that somehow. But right here, right now I need to feel this melancholy, explore it without fueling it.


I wrote those words two days ago, and I felt every one of them. Then that afternoon my view shifted thanks to a visit from a friend, a phone call from my mom, a smile from my son. As my day progressed I felt Someone take each of my concerns and offer to carry them a while.

I let Him.


meal planning

This week Asher worked on redefining the nap. Redefining is really code for eliminating.

While he's succeeded in not napping, he has not succeeded in staying happy about it.

We're working on it.

In the meantime, I made chocolate chip cookies for dinner.

Yes, dinner.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies a.k.a. No-Nap Survival
Taken from Baking Illustrated

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter [though I like these better with salted butter], melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
chocolate chips [I prefer Ghiradelli 60% cocoa chips and lots of them]

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients, and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in chips to taste. [Remember, these are best with lots of chocolate chips.]
4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. With the jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough's uneven surface. Place on baking sheets about 2 1/2 inches apart. [I can usually fit six cookies on a cookie sheet.]
5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, about 15 to 18 minutes. [I bake mine for 13 minutes.] Cool the cookies on the sheets.
6. Eat for dinner.


last week at this time

Last week at this time I had just tried on all of these clothes as part of my birthday present of a new fall wardrobe.

Last week at this time we had already gone crazy at Fabric Depot, bought new shoes at Marshalls, and found needed organizational tools at IKEA.

We had already organized and purged my closet.

These days had been preceded by a weekend with my mom and dad, which included a trip to the Rose Gardens


and which culminated in Asher's baby blessing at church.

We were still looking forward to unpacking my dishes from Grandma.

Plus we still hadn't had dinner at Nicholas's, lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen, and another lunch at Fir Point Farms. We still hadn't found those perfect tweed slacks for Asher at Gymboree.

We still had Bernie and War Horse to rent from Redbox and at least three more Big Gulps to consume. We still had half a season to watch of Parenthood and so many more grandma-Asher snuggles to enjoy.

Returning to life sans Mom/Grandma has not been my favorite, but I will just say that those nine days with my dad and mom were pretty much the best stay-cation ever.
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