Sunday, October 16, 2016


Five years ago, Brian and I got married. I never anticipated our wedding to be one of my favorite days of all time, but that day absolutely contains many of my most cherished memories.


On that day in 2011, I was a law student, he was an academic advisor. We lived in a townhouse that felt huge to us. We had two cats and one car, a lot of student loan debt, and each other.

Four years ago, we had recently relocated to Grand Rapids. I was waiting on my bar results, truly one of the most emotionally tumultuous times of my life, and Brian had a new job. I spent my days searching for employment and trying not to panic. Brian broke his arm playing softball in early October. This year, we went to Grand Haven for breakfast on our anniversary and to Costa Rica several weeks later.

Lake Michigan shore 2012
Three years ago, we went to dinner at a fancy restaurant that served us free champagne. I would soon find out I was pregnant with Claire.


Two years ago, we had a three month old. We asked our babysitter to take a picture of us before we ate Indian food at a beloved local hole in the wall and then went grocery shopping to use up the rest of our babysitting time. Because sometimes you just need to wander the aisles of Meijer together to feel human again.

Looking exhausted in 2014

One year ago, we ate tapas and drank sangria. We had just bought a new house and felt like we had maybe finally broken through the haze of new parenthood.
The best we could do in 2015

Today we feel fortunate. Last night we went out to dinner and fell asleep at 9:30 while Claire slept at Brian's parents' house (Thanks, Grammy and Papa!).

It is easy to look at the Instagram pictures of somebody's life and assume they have it all together. We are #blessed, as they say, and it is still hard. A healthy, beautiful child, good jobs with flexible schedules, supportive families, a house in a neighborhood we love. All of these things make it easy(er) to have the relationship we want, to envision the future we are building together. But life is fuller--harder and more joyful--than we could have ever anticipated when we exchanged vows five years ago. The weeks march along, one season folds into the next, I buy more pants for our growing kid. We hold on tight through the hard parts and celebrate when things go well. It is a good life, but if there's one thing I've learned it's that it doesn't get any easier, you just get better at rolling with the punches.

Looking moderately refreshed in 2016
I could not have asked for a better partner in marriage or parenthood. Here's to us. Here's to seventy more.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Eighteen Months!

Resurrecting ye olde blog to share a little bit about what Claire's up to these days. We're in full-on toddler territory now, which is, shall we say, challenging, but also really fun. She mostly saves her meltdowns for home, so we can bring her almost anywhere. I realize this may be short-lived, so we'll take it for as long as it lasts. Meltdowns aside, she is a happy, spunky, curious girl who makes us laugh at least five times a day. 

Face paint courtesy of daycare (known as "baby school" at our house)
Claire is now an excellent walker and talker. I don't know if I mentioned it here, but we had her evaluated by Early Intervention back in June because she wasn't babbling at 10 months old. While I knew that every baby develops in their own time, I was still a little stressed about this. Needless to say, the EI therapists thought she was completely fine, and they said all of her development was otherwise right on track. Apparently the REAL milestone is ten words by eighteen months. I thought that sounded outrageous--she was hardly speaking at ten months, how could she POSSIBLY have ten words in such a short amount of time?

Well, she could and she does. The changes happen quickly these days! We have a running list of her words stuck to our fridge, and it's now up to 40+.. She's getting better at telling us what she wants, and is starting to even identify letters. It is truly so cool. She knows many animal sounds (moo, meow, woof, grr) and points to her body parts (head, eyes, nose, teeth, ears, cheeks, hands, knees, toes, tummy) when asked, although the only one she'll reliably say is "eyes," possibly because it sounds like "hi" and "bye-bye," her two favorite words.

Claire and her BFF Ralph ("Fa")

Eating is a bit of a struggle right now. Well, to be clear, she loves to eat, but she does NOT love to sit in her high chair. We have to coax her many times, and she'll often arch her back and scream while we're trying to buckle her in. Pretty normal behavior, I'd say, but it's tough when we want her to sit still for JUST ONE MINUTE and eat something. She's also newly fond of cow's milk after months of more or less refusing to drink it. Other faves include bananas ("nana" was her first word!), peanut butter waffles, cheese quesadillas, sweet potatoes, pasta, broccoli, and peas. Also, of course, Cheerios and graham crackers. She has definitely grown a couple of inches in the past few weeks (at least it feels that way, given how suddenly midriff-revealing her shirts are), so I'm not terribly concerned that we have some days where she seems to survive on air alone.

Otherwise, she loves her books and will spend multiple minutes looking at them by herself. "Boo" is one of her most-frequently used words, and she always, ALWAYS wants one while we're changing her diaper. Don't try to skip that step! Her preferred activities also include playing ring around the rosie (now she loves to say "down!" when we all fall at the end), dancing/twirling, building with blocks, and putting things into other things (eg carrying small toys around in her lunchbox).

Yes, we can definitely read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for the four millionth time...

We've had a few early mornings recently (it is hard to parent at 5:15...), but she's mostly been sleeping well. She continues to cough in the night, even weeks after the conclusion of the Perpetual Sickness of Fall 2015, but it doesn't seem to bother her too much. This will undoubtedly jinx it, but her naps seem to be improving, too, and she's taken a few 2+ hour naps in the afternoons recently.

In the most exciting news of all, Claire was a flower girl in Brian's brother's wedding in Lake Placid a few weeks ago. It was a lot of fun, and, thankfully, the wedding was not contingent upon her successful completion of her duties. She thought the most fun part was picking UP the flowers from the aisle, but she did eventually make her way to the altar, running into Daddy's arms.

We will probably never look this fancy again.

In sum, we're in a good place. A year ago, when she turned six months old, I remember feeling like life with a new baby had (finally) gotten a little easier. The ever-changing nature of parenthood constantly keeps you on your toes. Now that she's a true toddler, we are learning to parent a little person who need more than just food, snuggles, and comfort---she needs us to help her learn about the world, figure out her boundaries, and keep her safe (among many, many other things).

Upon our arrival at daycare (ahem, baby school) drop off one morning, she had taken off her shoes and neatly placed him in the cupholders. Thanks, Claire!

Happy half-birthday, sweet girl. Life is so wonderful with you by our sides.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

still here

Okay, okay. I'm here. This has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while (along with a whole bunch of other half-written posts). Life is a little crazy with a very active kiddo who is constantly attempting to destroy our house and/or injure herself. Also, hey, we moved! That was a big ordeal, but we're settled into our new home and enjoying our neighborhood, our space, our backyard, EVERYTHING. It's good.We've been working on cleaning up the yard and attempting to get things organized inside. Really, a lot of our stuff is still in boxes, shoved in closets, but we'll get there eventually. Like maybe by next September? Pictures of our in-progress house to come.

hanging out in the backyard because picking blades of grass will keep us entertained for at least ten minutes

serious bedhead

she never does this anymore!

more standing in the backyard after daycare one day, wearing somebody else's clothes

we also exist!

selfies are fun!

loves to dig the clothes out of my hamper and wear them around the house

Otherwise, we are adjusting to slightly longer commutes, Claire's new daycare, and the change of seasons (well, that happens every year, but it's an adjustment nonetheless). Claire is now 100% walking/running/tumbling and talking up a storm (mostly in words that we can't understand, but she does say "hi!" to everyone/everything, and it's the cutest ever). She's also getting all four molars simultaneously, bringing her up to a total of twelve teeth. We had a few rough weeks, between the teething and the growing, but she seems to be settling back to her normally happy self. Daycare germs are very real, and she pretty much always has a runny nose. But I'm going to assume this will make her immune system super strong in the long-term, so the kindergarten adjustment will be a breeze. (Right??)

In short, things are good. More to come!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Our new house!

Two weeks ago, Brian and I closed on our very first house. !!!
the landscaping is a work in progress, but it's much easier to see the house now
It's a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom "Cape Cod" style bungalow in the Alger Heights neighborhood of Grand Rapids. It was built in the 40s, so it's well-made and very much fits into the post-war style house that is prevalent in our area (and many areas).

We weren't looking for a fixer-upper, and this one, thankfully, fit the bill. While it is slightly dated in certain respects, we don't need to put a ton of work into it. We have big plans to update things as we go, but we don't need to do anything major before we move in.

So how did we get here?

We've been renting an apartment since we moved here three years ago. While we have loved the location and appreciate being able to rely on somebody else to maintain the lawns and pave the parking lot, cramming three people and two cats into a 950 square foot space is no fun. Minimalism is cool and all, but we were slowly going nuts with an increasingly mobile baby and everybody on top of each other ALL THE TIME.

This spring, we finally decided it was time to start looking for a house.We've resisted the idea before for a number of reasons, mostly relating to the level of responsibility that comes with owning your own property, but we figured we were capable of dealing with it. The pros outweighed the cons.

We went to the bank and got preapproved for an amount we were comfortable with. We contacted a realtor, met with her briefly, and started poring over the listings. We knew the neighborhoods we liked, and we knew the market was moving extremely fast. Good news for the economy, but scary for us. The very same night we met with our realtor, we sent her a list of houses we thought we'd like to see. We went to a couple of open houses, and then met up for an individualized tour at the little brick house we didn't think too much of online.

We walked in, and Brian and I both really liked it. Really, REALLY liked it. It was a good size for us, had been well taken care of, had the specifications we were looking for, and was in the neighborhood we loved. As we were walking out the back door, another realtor was coming in the front door with his client. It had only been on the market for one day, and we knew we had to act fast, so we told our realtor we wanted to make an offer. On the first house she'd shown us!

Thankfully, she didn't think we were crazy. She thought it was a great house, too, and said "if you were my kids, I'd tell you to go for it." So we did. We went to a restaurant and hammered out the details. We decided to go in a little bit above the asking price and ask the seller to pay closing costs. All the while, we were both freaking out a little bit. It all was happening so fast, and we truly had no idea what we were doing. I guess all those years of watching HGTV were finally paying off.

We headed home, put Claire to bed, and tried not to freak out. We looked at pictures of the house online again to refresh our memories, since we had spent a total of fifteen minutes inside the place. A few hours later, at 10 pm, we got an email from our realtor telling us our offer had been accepted. HOLY CRAP.

I realize this is unusual. We were prepared to spend months house-hunting, battling with other buyers, and having deals fall through. In reality, everything happened fairly seamlessly. Come to find out the house had been on the market a few weeks earlier, before we were even looking, and the seller had accepted an offer from a buyer whose financing ultimately fell through. That was stressful for everybody, but, good news for us, they had already completed an inspection (only about a week before we bought the house), which we were able to use. Our bank was extremely efficient and on top of things, so we didn't have many issues with the endless amounts of paperwork we had to  complete. Once it came time to close, we had already reviewed the documents we'd be signing, and the process was seamless.

We are still a little bit in shock and keep forgetting that we own a house. We'll be moving in at the end of the month, after taking care of a few things and, oh, packing up our entire lives. NO BIG DEAL. :)

And now, pictures! The "before" shots, if you will.

Our kitchen! It feels so huge after our not-so-huge apartment kitchen.

sun room, looking into the backyard

a small patio, and a backyard full of weeds and overgrown perennials--it's already looking better!

Claire's room, which will not be staying pink. She is extremely excited about the ceiling fan.

the original bathroom

the dining room, looking into the sun room

our bedroom with its one tiny closet

living room with a FIREPLACE

stairway up to the third bedroom

hallway looking into third bedroom

a pretty, loft-style room, which we'll use as an office/guest room

the finished part of the basement (this fireplace doesn't work)

laundry area

Creepy basement bathroom! So I guess we'll all be sharing the main floor bathroom?

As you can tell, we're very excited about this next step and having a place of our own. And, moreover, we're looking forward to posting the "after" pictures once we spruce the place up a bit.

Monday, August 3, 2015

12 months

Months 1-6

Months 7-12

I wrote this post two weeks ago and never published it. A lot has changed since then, but here's a little bit about Claire at twelve-months-old.

Last week, Claire turned one. All of a sudden, she seems to have grown six inches and resembles a kid more than a baby. She is losing her chub and is developing some long legs. Thankfully, the cheeks, while not quite as round as they once were, are still very present. We get comments everywhere we go about her cheeks!

Our sister-in-law Sarah, who is an excellent photographer, took some pictures for us in South Haven

Stop taking my picture and give me that cupcake!

I say it every month, but I am shocked we have a one-year-old. The days are long but the years are short, as they say. Watching someone go from a tiny eight-pound lump to a standing, waving, kiss-blowing, clapping, laughing, "dada"-saying, sweet, funny, adorable person is pretty incredible. But one year of parenthood/Claire-hood deserves its own post, so I'll leave it at that for now.


After about a week of multiple nighttime wake ups and too short naps, we (I HOPE) are back to normal around here. She is doing great at night 98% of the time, and still does best when she gets two naps a day. We were on vacation last week and completely messed with her schedule, and she did really well. The routine is essential to everyone's happiness, but it's helpful to know we don't have to be obsessive about it.


She is, yes, still nursing, about 4 times per day. All attempts to wean have been met with STRONG resistance. She does completely fine when I'm not around and will enthusiastically take a bottle of milk. If we're together, though, she will not accept any substitute snacks or liquids. So, rather than trying to force something that she is clearly not ready for, we're going to stick with nursing for now. I am fairly confident I will not be breastfeeding her when she goes off to college, so I'm not to worried about it.

She continues to have a hearty appetite and eats most of the stuff we give her. Sometimes she looks us right in the eye and throws it on the floor, which drives both of us a little crazy, but hey, welcome to life with a kid. I made cupcakes for her birthday, and she was a BIG FAN. We also ordered her her very first kid's meal at a Mexican restaurant last week during our trip, and that turned out to be a good idea. She can EAT, so having bites of food off of our plates will no longer tide her over for long.

cupcakes and paparazzi


She is super close to walking, so I know one of these days she'll take off. She cruises along the furniture and will sometimes stand without holding onto anything. Standing and looking out the window is one of her favorite things.

clapping without reservation

Otherwise, she continues to say "dada" and "baba" along with many other sounds, so she clearly has a lot on her mind. No real words yet, and no "mama," though not for a lack of effort on my part. She waves, points at everything, and holds up her pointer finger when we ask how old she is. When we read books, she will point to things when asked (particularly balloons), and it is SO COOL to realize how much she understands.


The beach, swimming, opening drawers/cupboards/everything, taking all the books off her shelf, dancing


Not being able to hold onto whatever she wants to hold onto (eg Brian brushes her teeth before bed, and she DOES NOT want to let go of that toothbrush when it's time to leave the bathroom), diaper changes, riding in the car for too long

In sum, we are really glad to be here. Having a newborn is a unique and beautiful experience, but it is tough, raw, and exhausting. Having a one-year-old is exhausting in its own way, but it is also so much fun.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Day in the Life--July 3, 2015

So when I said this blog would be about the minutiae of our lives, I meant it. Many of the blogs I read have documented a day in the life at some point, and I always find it fascinating to see how other people spend their time. I'm jumping on the bandwagon. Even if this is boring to the rest of the world, I know I'll appreciate looking back on this someday when I've forgotten what life with an almost one-year-old is really like.

Also, enjoy a few selfies courtesy of yet another self-absorbed millennial, along with a few terrible phone photos. :)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Brian and Anne are both 30.
Claire will be one in ten days.
I am normally home with Claire on Fridays, and Brian is usually at work, but because of the holiday, we were all home together for a glorious three-day weekend. This was a pretty typical weekend day for us.

3:15 am--I'm awake. This must be a carryover from pregnancy insomnia/new baby wakings because everyone else in the house is asleep. Grace the cat is snoring, as usual. I fall back asleep at some point, but it is pretty normal for me to wake up sometime between 2 and 4.

5:45--B's alarm goes off, and we hear Claire chatting to herself. It's my morning to sleep in, so he gets up to make breakfast, feed the cats, and get Claire up. I attempt to go back to sleep to no avail, so I lie in bed and check email, Facebook, and blogs on my phone. And the weather. Always the weather.

Thanks for not being terrible, Michigan in July.

6:30--I get up and see Brian changing Claire on the floor of her room. She's usually in a good mood first thing in the morning, but diaper changes are now the wooooorst ever, and she's ticked off.

I head into the kitchen to make breakfast (a waffle with peanut butter), and end up nursing Claire, who is slightly apoplectic, even though Brian just gave her a bottle. Ohhhh babies.

those curls, though

6:45--She nursed for approximately two minutes, then goes back to playing. Brian hands me my coffee (beans from Zingerman's, so good!), and I eat my breakfast.

7:00--We play on the floor, read books, point at things, and attempt to catch the cats. And then we realize Miss Claire needs a diaper change...uh-oh.

slightly blurry, just like our lives

7:15--Diaper change of doom. Claire is losing her mind, and no amount of singing, talking, or toy distractions will prevent her meltdown. This has become a two-person job. When's naptime?

I bring C back into the living room to cuddle and calm down while Brian cleans up and gets her breakfast ready.

7:30--C eats (blueberries, applesauce mixed with yogurt), and I finish my coffee at last while Googling "one-year-old hates diaper changes." The internet tells me this is a control issue and is extremely common as little ones become more independent. They suggest singing and/or giving her a toy. Sooo helpful.

Isn't it fun to have your dining room and your living room in the SAME ROOM?! No, no it is not. Our tiny apartment is driving everyone slightly crazy.

7:50--More playing on the floor and reading books. We are deep in the mommy phase right now, and she prefers to be touching me or in my lap at all times. I know this will not always be the case, so I'm going to enjoy the cuddles as long as they last.

Got this one at the library this week. When you read the same book 47 times a day, it helps to have fresh material.

8--Brian brings Claire into her room for a nap. This is an early naptime for her, but she usually can't stay awake for longer than a couple of hours first thing in the morning.

8:15--I shower, get dressed, and actually spend a few minutes doing my hair, a rare occurrence. Brian prepares himself to go to the gym. We enjoy a few moments of quiet, and I fold and stuff the cloth diapers we washed the night before.

This is the "before" picture, but it looked better than the "after." I don't know what that says about me.

Be still my obsessive compulsive heart!

9:30--C is awake and happy, thank everything. The length of her naps will make or break our days, so we are always grateful when she sleeps for a nice long while.

Cute, happy girl

She has yet another dirty diaper, so I change it and there is much less freaking out this time.

9:45--Brian heads off to the gym. I unpack the wipes and overnight diapers that arrived this week (Amazon Prime is the best.). We generally cloth diaper during the day, but the Huggies Overnights are the only diapers that will last all night long.

Claire pulls the books off her shelf and pushes around the diaper box. I drink a smoothie and talk to her. She starts fussing and pushing her face in my chest, so we nurse, then look out the window and point to the trees, bushes, birds, and swimming pool, as we do every single day.

We do this evvvvveryday

Why buy toys? Boxes are fun!

Second breakfast

Holding up her pointer finger when I ask how old she is. Just waiting for that Harvard admissions letter!

Loves to look out the window

10:30--I decide we need to get out of the house, so we head over the farmer's market. I forget that everyone has the day off, and it is INSANE. There is a line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot, so I almost give up and head home. But then after circling around the block, I miraculously find a spot!

I put Claire in the Ergo, and we walk the length of the market to check things out. It is super busy and crowded, but there is a lot of great stuff there, too. Unfortunately, I didn't bring much cash with me, but I buy some blueberries and a loaf of raisin bread.

Love being able to kiss her head while she's in the Ergo
11:15--We head to the car, and there is somebody waiting for my spot. It takes forever to get Claire out of the Ergo and snapped in the carseat, but whatever.

11:30--We're home, and so is Brian. Claire thinks she wants to nurse again, so I give her a sippy cup of milk, which seems to keep her content for a minute. I get started on lunch for all of us. I try to soft boil some eggs, but they end up overcooking. The runny yolk is what makes them delicious, so this is sad.

Maybe this means one day we can bottle-wean...

For Claire, I prepare leftover roasted asparagus and brussels sprouts, halved chickpeas, quinoa, and feta cheese. I have no idea if she'll eat or like any of this, but we'll try it. She is not yet to the stage where she openly refuses green vegetables, so we'll take advantage.

Baby feast! Food photographer I am not.

Grown-up feast with sad eggs. This is what we fondly call a "bowl of food" at our house.

12--The three of us sit down to eat at the same time, which is pretty rare. C gobbles up all her food, takes a few tiny sips of milk, then throws the cup on the floor. Brian cleans her up and they sit on the floor and read books while I finish eating.

Kitty kisses


More pointing!

"I am tired, Mother!"

12:50--It's naptime again, so I bring C into her room to change her diaper and rock for a few minutes. I turn on her white noise machine, close her blinds, and put her in her sleep sack, then we sit in the rocking chair while she puts her head on my shoulder. This is one of my favorite times of day.

1--I put her in her crib, and she rolls over and goes right to sleep. I get started on making a cake for our friends' 4th of July party (this one:, which is super easy and looks delicious. I stick it in the fridge to chill overnight.

Why did I ever buy whipped cream before? This is so easy.

These cookies were impossible to find because they were in the candy aisle, not the cookie aisle. Why, Meijer??

1:20--I sit down and send some emails, then talk to Brian about our plans for the rest of the weekend. In extremely exciting news, we decide to order take out for dinner and rent a movie, so we discuss both of those very important items (hashtag date night!).

1:50--Claire is awake. A short nap, but 2.5 hours of napping over the course of the day is fine by me. She nurses, then we play on the floor and read books (again).

Cutest baby toes ever

2:15--We decide to go for a walk and run some errands. There's a nice trail about 15 minutes north of us in Rockford, so we drive up there. It is a beautiful day--warm with a light breeze. We stop at a little playground along the trail so Claire can swing (the best ever!) and chat with the other people there, pushing their kiddos on the swings. We attempt to continue walking, but C is not having the stroller today, so we go back to the park and sit in the grass. A mobile baby means we have to chase her everywhere so she doesn't eat anything. She offers us leaves and clumps of grass.

This was before we had to turn around to change her diaper out of an abundance of caution.

Iced coffee. Always.

She could swing all day.

Handing blades of grass back and forth

studying the trees with Dada
4:00--We pack it up and head to Lowe's to look at paint. We're moving later this summer (more on that later!), and are planning to repaint Claire's new room, which is currently a light pink. It is impossible to decide on a color when you are looking at a million tiny squares of various shades, but we find a couple we might like and take home a few samples.

blowing kisses/playing the "wawa" game

5:00--We arrive home, and Brian gets Claire's dinner ready. Tonight's menu features a cheese quesadilla, rigatoni pasta with tomato sauce, and broccoli. She likes all of these things. Brian says she likes carbs and cheese, just like her mom, which I'm going to assume is a compliment?

5:30--We have reached the time of day when Brian and I are both worn out and ready to fall asleep. Claire, thankfully, entertains herself for a little while. Brian supervises. I empty the dishwasher.

this is about as close as Grace will tolerate
too bad this is blurry, but she's started resting on the floor when she's tired

oh, cheeks!

6--Bathtime! Brian lays out her pajamas and diaper, then brings her in the bathroom. 90% of the time she loves taking a bath, so this is normally a happy part of the day. I order dinner and clean up the aftermath of Hurricane Claire.

6:20--Similar to diaper-changing, getting Claire ready for bed is now a two-person job, so we tag team the pajamas. She doesn't get too upset, thankfully, and Brian carries her into her room for storytime + nursing. He reads a book, I feed her, then he leaves, and she waves to him. It is adorable.

Brian leaves to go pick up our food, a movie, and beer. It's not exactly a glamorous Friday night, but I'm still looking forward to it.

6:30--Claire is asleep. I sit down and call my dad, then sit on the couch for a few minutes. I am so hungry and excited for Brian to return with dinner.

7:30--We eat, at last! Palak paneer is so delicious. He rented Mockingjay Part I, which I honestly don't even remember being in the theaters (we're a little out of touch these days).

palak paneer, aloo tikki, and naan
9:40--The movie is over. It was okay, but not my favorite. Simultaneously a little boring and very dark. I almost gave up on it halfway through. I am impressed with myself for not falling asleep (not a commentary on the movie...I'm just notorious for passing out during night-time TV watching).

Brian cleans the litterbox, and I put the dinner dishes away. I brush my teeth and take out my contacts, check on C on the monitor, then climb into bed. I don't have the energy to read my book, so I mindlessly scroll through Instagram.

10--So tired. I turn off the light and fall asleep in thirty seconds.

always have 400 books and magazines on my nightstand