ecuador, part 2

i left you hanging halfway through our bus tour of quito. but i did mention that our next stop was el panecillo, sooo ...

the drive from the basilica to el panecillo - the name of a 200m tall volcanic hill (called "the little bread loaf" - el panecillo) - goes through the historic center of quito, then is pretty much straight up to the statue of The Virgin of Quito, the tallest aluminum statue in the world.

the sights through the city were varied, from very third-world-esque block buildings, to really beautiful and intricate colonial architecture.

 

IMG_7910

IMG_7905

 

(you can see the statue in the distance)

IMG_7917

IMG_7921

(gringotts, quito branch)

 

IMG_7929

IMG_7936

(ecuadorean construction scaffold)

 

once out of the busier part of the city, the road begins to serpentine up the side of the hill.

IMG_7942

 

and then we reached the part of the trip where the bus has to essentially u-turn on a two-lane road on the side of a hill ... see that blue bus going in the opposite direction and getting ready to turn toward the bus in the center of the photo? we're about to turn 180 degrees in the middle of the road and do the same.

IMG_7950

 

we just trusted the driver, that he'd done this before.

turns out, he had, and soon we were on top of the hill. the density of the city continued to amaze me throughout the trip.

IMG_7960

IMG_7967

 

and then, there was the statue:

IMG_7970

 

the only statue of the virgin mary depicted with wings, from the Book of the Apocalypse. (which, i assume, is revelations?)

you can actually go in the statue and climb up four floors to look out, but our bus was stopped for too limited a time. instead, we walked around the park a little and took in the views.

 

IMG_7973

IMG_7975

IMG_7978

IMG_8006

IMG_8000

and we stopped by the vendors so the kids could have a snack - choclo, an andean field corn that is roasted and eaten on the cob. marc was eager to have it again, henry is always up for trying food, and harper - even though corn is on her list of top five worst foods in the world - tried a bite and decided it was amazing.

IMG_7992

IMG_7987

 

we used the bathroom - which cost us 25 cents for six squares of toilet paper, and the toilet had no seat - and got back on the bus.

heading down the hill was just as nerve-racking, because this time we knew what was coming, and we were driving on the side of the road closest to certain death.

 

IMG_8024

 

but after the first tricky turn, we knew to trust our driver, and just enjoyed the scenery for the rest of the bus tour.

IMG_8042

IMG_8045

the streets are so narrow that i literally could stick my hand out the window and touch the buildings. harper looked down at one point, and said the sidewalk had almost enough room for one person to walk at a time, with one shoulder on the building and the other shoulder trying to not get hit by the bus. those bus drivers are incredibly good at not running into a wall or pedestrian.

 

IMG_8065

IMG_8091

IMG_8074

IMG_8080

IMG_8101

we drove back through the historic center, and saw the presidential palace and a quick glimpse of the guards, and the plaza. it was so beautiful, and we made plans to return the following week to watch the changing of the guard and spend time on the plaza. sadly, by the following week, harp was sick and we stayed in. i would have loved to see more of the plaza area. next time, i guess.

 

IMG_8099

IMG_8100

 

and there was the basilica again ...

 

IMG_8105

IMG_8133

 

and more of those wires you don't want to hit with your head ...

 

IMG_8123

IMG_8157

 

we drove by soccer fields the way we drive by baseball fields in the states.

 

IMG_8158

 

it was a long day, and we saw so much. harper was too overwhelmed by it all, and ended the day with a major meltdown. she was too overcome by all the traffic and noise and spanish everywhere we went. so we put her to bed and promised the next day would be quiet and home-based.

we all slept in the next morning. harp woke up in a better state of mind, and we all enjoyed a more relaxed day. i got laundry done while harp sat on the front steps, trying to take pictures of all the birds that were flying around outside.

 

IMG_4847

 

i joined her in between loads, and together we looked at all the beautiful flowers growing in this small front yard.

 

IMG_8164

IMG_8181

IMG_8178

IMG_8175

 

the geraniums here have leaves that are more like those of a succulent.

 

IMG_8165

IMG_8182

IMG_8183

IMG_8189

 

and harp loved being able to pick a fresh lime ... which is called a limon ... just like lemon ...

 

IMG_8185

... which explains why, after 42 years, marc still doesn't know the difference between a lime and a lemon. (we figured out so many of these little things on this trip ... it helped me understand his brain so much better. like, all of the lunchmeat is labeled "jamon de ..." or, "ham of ... something". ham of turkey, ham of chicken, ham of ... ham. ham = lunchmeat. now i totally get why marc, for years, called every single sandwich a ham sandwich, regardless of what was on it. i literally thought he was being simple. but no, he was being ecuadorean.)

while we were busy enjoying the garden, the rest of the group took a trip to the grocery store. steve and hannah are moving to the coastal town of manta, where their mission will shift from guesthouse hosting to earthquake relief. so henry, to earn volunteer hours for national honor society, was able to help buy all the groceries and bag them in individual relief bundles for the mission. he was a big help to get that done before the next group heads to the earthquake-hit area, and ended up packaging 31 separate care bags.

  20160817_135937

20160817_135429

(store shelves aren't quite as tall in ecuador.)

 

IMG_8194

IMG_8196

 

it was good to have a restful day, especially for harper, so she could mentally and emotionally prepare for our next big outing: the center of the world.

and that will be part 3.

Save


ecuador, part 1

when i was a senior in high school, my mom decided to take a class at the local university. one night, she came home from class and said to me, "there is this boy in my class, and he doesn't say a whole lot, and he's from somewhere in south america, but you would make the cutest babies."

and i just rolled my eyes.

the next year, for whatever reason, i chose to go to said local university. and i got a nice circle of friends. and there was this guy in that circle who didn't say a whole lot, and mostly just went to the gym to play basketball. but he would eat at our table occasionally, and we got friendly. by the second semester of my freshman year, we had a class together and he would sit by me. one day i realized he was pretty handsome. so we tried going on a date. and it wasn't great. we tried another. and it wasn't great, either. and i kind of let that go. then he called me to play pool at the student union, and that was pretty great. then we hung out for a day. my mom worked on campus, so he walked me to her office after we hung out, and she took one look at us together, dragged me into a closet, and whispered, "that's the marc from my class!"

so of course i had to marry him.

but before we got married and made those beautiful babies, we traveled to ecuador (because he was from somewhere in south america) to visit his family. and that was 22 years ago.

IMG_3808

his family relocated to the states within a year of us traveling down there, so marc never had a reason to go back to his home. but he has always felt nostalgia for certain things - going to boarding school in quito, the perfect climate while living in the mountains, seeing the snow-capped volcanoes in the distance, and certain foods and fruit.

we always said that at some point we wanted to take the kids to ecuador so they could see where their dad grew up. i had found it very helpful in understanding why he was the way he was sometimes, and knew it would help the kids be able to relate, too. we had decided a few years ago to take this trip before henry left for college, and as luck would have it, marc's brother and his wife moved to quito about a year ago. so the timing was perfect: henry is halfway through high school, we now have family in the area and a place to stay, and harper is finally (maybe?) old enough to cope with a trip of this scale and distance from her comfort zone.

so in mid-august, we hopped a plane for 10 days in ecuador.

(hint: go potty now. this is a little long.)

IMG_4733

IMG_4739

(still handsome.)

IMG_7688

(the cutest babies.)

we left the house early tuesday morning, had a flight to atlanta, and then a five-hour layover before heading south. lucky for us, marc had sprung for business class for the second, longer leg of our trip, so we could have some leg room and a bit more comfortable ride.

IMG_4728

IMG_4727

IMG_7689

IMG_4743

along with the leg room, we also had in-flight movie options. henry chose "the man from u.n.c.l.e.," harper watched "zootopia," marc watched a superhero movie, and i? well, i spent some time with bing and frank and grace kelly in "high society," then moved on to "to kill a mockingbird." it's really lovely to be able to choose what to watch ... ahem.

IMG_4745

 

i also lucked out and got the best row-mates ever:

IMG_4747

this photo was taken before the plane even took off. they woke long enough to eat some dinner, then zonked back out. the older one was so sweet and helpful to her little sister. perfect little dumplings.

anyway ...

about five and a half hours later, we saw the lights of quito ...

IMG_4765

then we got through baggage and customs, found steve & hannah, and were on our way.

IMG_4766

our first full day there, we relaxed, let our bodies acclimate to being 9,000+ feet above sea level, and explored our home for the next 10 days. steve and hannah are running a guest house through their mission organization, and the guest house just happens to be the old boarding school dorm where marc and his siblings lived during high school. for the duration of our stay, marc and i slept in his sophomore year dorm room. he said the senior year room was the best, because the bars on the windows were loose and you could easily sneak out. but that room now has bunk beds, so ... no sneaking out for us.

Room

and the bathrooms were set up with three showers and two toilet stalls, so they were super spacious ...

IMG_4800

but marc said the house was much like it was back in the early 90s. even the groundskeeper is the same guy.

  IMG_8190

IMG_8202

IMG_7715

IMG_7710

(the room marc may have inadvertently set on fire 25 years ago ...)

 

out the front door, you can see hedge walls of lantana, as well as pichincha, a dormant volcano.

IMG_4776

IMG_8169

and out the back is cayambe, a not so dormant one.

IMG_8644

also in the back is the basketball court where marc spent innumerable hours of his youth.

IMG_7694

once the tour of the inside of the house was complete, we hung out and made plans for the rest of the week. around dinnertime, steve recommended a great place to eat that would give us a great view out over the city. we grabbed two cabs and were off on what was the first of several wild cab rides. through narrow streets full of drivers with very little sense of actual traffic rules, we bumped along and watched the driver honk his horn through intersections, to let people know stoplights didn't matter, and the other drivers were just in his way and he was going to go, regardless. once we reached the hilltop where the restaurant - cafe mosaico - was, we could see that the ride was worth it.

the view was breathtaking.

IMG_7718

IMG_7716

20160815_181226

20160815_175441

IMG_7720

the food was wonderful, even though hannah's didn't come out until everyone else was halfway finished eating. and marc got his first of many ceviche de camaron.

the cab ride back was a bit more than harp could take. it was pretty much the party cab of quito ... fur around the mirror, music, a light show, a metallic ceiling, and a little hammock hanging from the visor, among other accoutrements. the thing that pushed her over the edge, though: no seat belts in the back seat. she was pretty much a nervous wreck the entire ride home. poor kid. all we could say was, "welcome to ecuador."

IMG_4797

day two: we headed out for a different kind of road adventure: a big red bus tour of quito.

now, we are big fans of big red bus tours. we've enjoyed them in dc, we've enjoyed them in san francisco, and we enjoyed the duck boat and boat boat versions in boston and chicago. we love tours. it's the best way to get an overview of the city, figure out where you want to spend more time later in the trip, or just hop off and spend some time exploring right then and there, and then hop back on the bus when you're ready to move on.

quito's tour was no different ... with the exception of the traffic being way crazier, the roads way more narrow, and the hills so much steeper that - at certain points in the ride - we may have put our hands in the air. because it felt like we were on a roller coaster.

in spite of all of that, it was a wonderful way to get a glimpse of this city that sits five miles deep and 31 miles wide.

IMG_7725

IMG_7729

there is a lot of construction going on in quito, so these trucks lined the center of the street. their cargo? propane tanks for the construction workers.

IMG_7731

IMG_7732

IMG_7742

we realized that "watch your head" basically means "all the different lines across the road are going to be about 6" from the top of this bus, so ... watch your head."

the first stop along the way was at the centro de arte contemporaneo. i could have spent way more time here, but there were more places to go and things to see and do. what we did see while here, though, was fascinating.

IMG_7746

IMG_7748

IMG_7750

IMG_7760

IMG_7758

the above item was suspended from the ceiling, hanging at eye level. in the corner was a video, and over the speakers around the room was this eerie creaking, cracking, moaning sound, with echoing hums and whistles. as we read the information signs around the room and watched the video, we realized that the artist/scientist had taken a recording device up a volcano to where there was a glacier. then he lowered the recording device into a crevice in the glacier, and recorded the sounds of the glacier shifting and moving. those were all the noises from the speakers. the sculpture above is a 3d printer depiction of the sound waves.

so interesting.

IMG_7763

and this number ... the artist traveled all over the world to gather dirt and rocks, which he put into labeled metal canisters. then he created this balancing scale mobile, using the canisters as weights and counterbalances, until he achieved perfect balance across the mobile. on the wall was a schematic - a map, of sorts - of the mobile and where the canisters are from.

that was pretty amazing, as well.

 

IMG_7766

 IMG_7765

  IMG_7768

IMG_7775

next stop after the museum was the basilica del voto nacional ... the largest neo-gothic basilica in the americas.

IMG_7779

IMG_7802

this place is way cool. the architecture is absolutely amazing, both inside and out. see those gargoyle-like things hanging off the side? not gargoyles ... but animals. animals from the galapagos.

IMG_7804

IMG_7800

IMG_7806-Edit

IMG_7815

IMG_7818

IMG_7820

personally, it bothers me when churches spend so much money on their own looks. however, seeing this place, the money seemed so worth it. i couldn't get enough.

for a small fee, you can tour the inside, and see the incredible stained glass windows and flying buttresses and all those other fabulous trappings. for a slightly larger fee ... well ... i'll get to that in a minute.

first: inside.

  IMG_7827

IMG_7823

IMG_7829

IMG_7832

IMG_7836

IMG_7837

IMG_7839

IMG_7838

IMG_7842

IMG_7844

IMG_7848

IMG_7852

IMG_7856

IMG_7858

IMG_7862

IMG_7882

IMG_7873

while harp and i took in the amazingness that was the inside of the church, marc and henry and steve and hannah took the slightly different tour. it also went inside the church, in a manner of speaking, but it included a special look at the outside of the church.

 

IMG_7788

did you see the people on the gothic spire?

IMG_7788labeled

yup. they went there. first, they had to go to the third floor of the church. then another flight or two to reach the roof, where there was essentially a ridge pole-type bridge spanning the length of the basilica, between the buttresses and the roof.

  20160816_130400

20160816_132641

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

20160816_130405 from michele skinner on Vimeo.

and then once they spanned the cathedral and climbed the vertical ladder at the other end, they emerged up in the spire.

20160816_130826

20160816_132237

 

20160816_131925 from michele skinner on Vimeo.

20160816_132209

 and then they went back down, walked back across the church, then up into the clock towers.

 

20160816_133233

20160816_133458

20160816_133744

once they were safely back on the ground floor, we grabbed a burger across the plaza, and hopped the bus to our next stop: el panecillo.

and ... this is long enough. we'll get to the rest of the bus tour, and trip, next time.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


... and summer's over

we woke up this morning - around 3 a.m. - to a massive thunderstorm. lightning, thunder, relentless rain. at 6 a.m., when my alarm went off, the weather was equally forceful.

the perfect way to start the first day of school.

i woke up harper, and her first words were, "is that rain?!"

yup. it's gonna be a raincoat day.

she quickly dressed in the outfit she laid out the night before ... denim capris, a white tank top, a white v-neck top she picked out at gap (from the adult side, thankyouverymuch), a hummingbird necklace ... was in and out of the bathroom, and eating a muffin, within 15 minutes.

someone was a little excited for the first day of school.

of middle school.

because ... my baby is in middle school.

w.t.h.

she eagerly put on her sandals, grabbed her backpack, made sure she had lunch money and an umbrella, and headed out the door.

the rain, thankfully, had subsided just long enough to get the first day of school photo.

IMG_8748

she was all smiles as the bus came, and she walked to it with two girlfriends.

and 10 minutes later, the texts started ... "mom." "mom." "mom." "i don't feel well." "i feel like i'm gonna throw up."

my poor little ball of anxiety. she hates the bus. she's nervous about a new school. she's terrified she'll show up in the wrong room, or at the wrong time. that she won't know what to do in the lunch room. that she won't have friends in any of her classes.

typical middle school fears.

i texted her back, told her it was just nerves, told her she would do great, told her no one would give her trouble if she ended up in the wrong room at the wrong time. told her to talk to her friends and take deep breaths.

and i didn't hear back ... so hopefully she got it all figured out.

the email from the principal at 7:45 stated that all kids were in classrooms and the halls were empty, so all looks positive.

and 20 minutes after harp was off to 6th grade, my 11th grader ate a muffin, grabbed his keys, and was out the door to get gas and head to school.

by himself.

not on a bus.

because he's a junior.

w.t.h.

IMG_8757

how?? how did we get here already?? i mean, wasn't HE just off to his first day of middle school???

i'm so confused, trying to figure out where the last five years have gone.

but he's ready. i mean, he isn't ready to be back at school ... he had a great summer full of friends and work and growing independence ... but he's ready to move forward. he's feeling the itch of almostdone-itis. this is a big year for him ... a lot of decisions to make, a lot of hard work and effort to put forth ... and i hope he's ready and understands that this is it. this is the big year.

summer moved so quickly at the beginning, as it always does, and then we consciously slowed down.

harper decided to take the summer off from swimming, so we spent a lot of time together, and she had some lovely play dates with friends. last week, to cap off the quiet summer, she spent some time on the lake with her bff from preschool to celebrate the fact that starting today, they will finally - again - be classmates. and while the girls took off across the water on their own, her friend's mom and i just shook our heads, trying to figure out how they aren't four years old anymore.

IMG_8662

IMG_8711

IMG_8742

henry, on the other hand, had the opposite of a quiet summer. he was heading to the pool every morning at 7 a.m., and then to lifeguard for an eight-hour shift, and then often to hang out with friends or co-workers in the evening. he carpooled with buddies or, once he got his license, drove himself, and felt the freedom that comes with your own time and your own money.

he didn't do any meets until the senior state meet at the beginning of august, where he cleaned up ... 6th place in the 100 free, 3rd place in the 50 free, and medals in all five relays - a 4th, a 3rd, two 2nds, and a first place finish in the 200 free relay that was .14 secs off the state record.

IMG_7014

IMG_7259

IMG_7459

IMG_7682

we are entering very different territory today. it was a very different kind of summer. who knows what this year will bring.

but good or bad, here we go.

Save

Save

Save

Save


in summary:

ten days before july ends and we start the lightning-fast slide to the end of summer, here is a brief look at where we are and what we've accomplished in the past two months.

to recap:

harper's room was going to get a new look

henry's room was going to get a refresh

something about shelves in the basement

veggies in the garden

 

as of today, we've accomplished precisely zero of those things.

unless you count three tomato plants and the herbs.

 

so what HAVE we been doing?

well ...

 

henry swims at 8 a.m. daily for 2-2.5 hours, at either a pool that is 15 mins away, or a pool that is 45ish mins away (depending on traffic).

 

IMG_4367

after swimming, there is a one hour or so time gap until he needs to go to work.

dude's a lifeguard:

 

IMG_4488

 

marc traveled literally all of june.

 

harp WAS swimming ...

 

IMG_3869

 

but kept having stomach issues, so she opted to sit out the rest of summer.

those stomach issues? last week they became a seven-hour visit to the emergency room, during which time she had not only a blown vein while trying to get her iv started, but both an ultrasound and a CT scan to check her liver, gall bladder, appendix. verdict? high likelihood of a ruptured ovarian cyst. poor kiddo.

 

Image

IMG_4480

 

other than that, she had a sewing camp for a week,

 

IMG_4187

 

got some new socks,

 

IMG_4086

 

and is now in summer band.

 

Band

 

on the few days that henry doesn't work, he's usually either doing summer homework or out pokehunting with friends.

 

IMG_4400

 

and just yesterday we finally managed to make it to the dmv so he could take his driving test.

he passed.

now we have to let him drive.

 

IMG_4516

 

which ... remember what i said about 8 a.m. swim practices?

and one night i got to do something fun: i went to see brandi carlile and the avett brothers with my friend, sue.

 

IMG_3987

and right as the concert was starting, i got a text from my mom that my grandma had passed away.

 

IMG_6961

 

sooo ... yeah. fun stuff.

summer's been super productive and relaxing.

we have a very fun trip coming up, though, and then: school.

and then, maybe, i can get stuff done around the house.

 

how does it all keep going so fast?!

 

 

 

Save

Save


it's here

the day i've been dreading for nine months has arrived, no matter how much i willed it to not happen.

it's the last day of school.

not that i'm not looking forward to having more time with the kids. (though, any introvert worth their salt will tell you that alone time is a must if we are to function and get through the day.) but ...

this last day of school is too big for me to take in right now.

this kid ...

IMG_6664

today is her last day of elementary school.

this is the last time she will climb onto the bus as a little kid.

IMG_6675

and in three months, these buddies will separate into two different middle schools.

where they will be middle schoolers.

i mean, what the heck?!

who said they could grow up??

IMG_6673

and as hard as that is to take, it pales in comparison to this guy ...

IMG_6657

who will be a junior in the fall.

a junior.

who will drive himself to school. no more bus. today was the last time.

IMG_6660

just ... nope. can't think about it yet.

makes my heart hurt.

i now have three and a half hours to enjoy the silence, gather my emotions, drink some coffee, and put on my big girl panties so i don't have tears in my eyes when they get home.

i mean, when the littlest kid gets home.

because the big kid is going to a pool party for the rest of the day with friends. and the girlfriend. and he'll get a ride home.

and i just can't.


all herby up in here

confession: i'm a little obsessed with my gardens right now. i wander out a few times a day just to see if anything has bloomed.

so far, the only thing that has are the little eggs ...

Border_Hasselblad_A

so while i wait, i decided that our porch needed an herb garden. somewhere i could just open the door, snip off some stems, and make dinner that much better.

i ordered a cute tiered plant stand from world market, along with some copper plant tags, and then ran to the nursery for nine of our favorite herbs.

a few days later, the box arrived, and i couldn't wait to get started!

IMG_6163

(mario was obviously just as excited to supervise.)

building the stand was pretty straightforward ... any ikea-phile should have no trouble. three shelves, two long legs, two smaller legs, and a couple of brace pieces, along with screws and an abundance of allen wrenches.

IMG_6166

the multiple wrenches came in handy with the two-piece bolts. one to hold the bolt tight, and the other to screw in the second piece.

and, of course, there was the one screw that just didn't want to go all the way in.

IMG_6168

and mario just gave me that cat look, the one that said, "seriously, human. one screw? you're just going to leave it like that?"

IMG_6196

and yes. yes, i left it like that. (until marc got home.)

in less than an hour, it was built and ready to hold herbs.

IMG_6190

which it did. technically. still in the box from the nursery, though.

aaaaannnndddd ... five days later, i finally planted them.

IMG_6450

mmm ... thai basil ...

IMG_6451

hello, mint. can't wait to use you in iced tea and lemonade and mojitos ...

IMG_6452

my little herby stand makes me happy.

also making me happy? the peonies are about to pop. any day, man ... i can't wait!

IMG_6456

IMG_6458


the show's about to start

summer is nearly here, the school year is winding down, the days are longer and warmer, and the garden is about to enter Act II.

 

the lilacs and bleeding hearts are on their way out,

 

IMG_6292

IMG_5980

 

and my shade-loving friends (ie everything along the front of the house) are gearing up for their big show.

the hydrangeas are budding, both the annabelles and the fire & ice:

 

IMG_6208

IMG_6233

 

the hosta have begun to unfurl ...

 

IMG_6214

 

and the astilbe are about to show their colors.

 

IMG_6221

 

the spurge is adding some needed brightness,

 

IMG_6230

 

but they've got nothing on the dianthus. those overachievers.

 

IMG_6238

 

the coral bells are gorgeous, even if they are the wrong colors.

(when we did our landscaping, i specifically said to the designer, "the only color i really don't like is maroon/burgundy.")

(which, of course, translated into two burgundy crab apples, and coordinating coral bells that will find a new home in a different part of the garden next year.)

 

IMG_6235

IMG_6206

 

i am soothed by the fact that my beloved peonies are getting so close to blooming ...

 

IMG_6262

 

even though the salvia will beat them to it.

 

IMG_6244

 

and i added a few new friends this week: the columbine, and the daisies

(who were supposed to be in the garden since Day 1, but ... again ... the designer heard me say "daisies" and gave me "black-eyed susans".) ...

 

IMG_6225

IMG_6250

 

the lady's mantel is full and about ready to take over the joint,

 

IMG_6248

 

and some bright lantana are now hanging out with the trumpet vines.

 

IMG_6268

 

and amidst all this new life, there is a tiny nest in the wreath on our side porch door, full of little speckled eggs.

 

IMG_6281

 

i can't wait for the next act!

 


a beautiful day

mother's day turned out to be a lovely one.

i slept in - made it all the way to 7:49! - and had a quiet cup of coffee before everyone else awoke. then we all got ready for the day, there were gifts (a "best mom ever" mug from harp, some funky socks from henry, and a new ipad from mchotness, because my old one has finally updated itself out of reliability), and then we headed to the old old neighborhood for brunch.

back in 2004, before i was pregnant with harper and when henry was still just a little guy, there was a new bakery/restaurant about six blocks from our house in south minneapolis that made the best brunch, so we went there for mother's day. and henry ate more food than i'd ever seen a little person eat, including at least a dozen giant chocolate-covered strawberries. we moved away a few months later, and haven't returned to that restaurant in 12 years. this year, i was feeling nostalgic, so off to turtle bread we went. harper and i had brunch, but the boys opted for soup and sandwich. alas, there were no strawberries - chocolate-covered or otherwise.

we then walked by the old old house, and commented on how huge the pine tree in the front has grown (well over 20' tall, when just a dozen years ago it was only about marc's height), and reminisced over the neighbors we knew and memories we had from our time there. and i got a pic with the best thing to come out of that little bungalow that i loved so much ...

IMG_3685

we then drove over to linden hills to walk around lake harriet - as per my usual mother's day request - and take in the blooming spring flowers and charming houses. and while we walked, i told marc that the next time we move, i would really like to end up in a walkable place. while i love the idea of space and quiet, we've learned from our experience in our current neighborhood that no matter where you go where you *think* you'll have a quiet spot, some city official will decide it's a brilliant idea to put a road to the casino in front of your house.

or some such crap.

and, truth be told, my heart has always been in walkable little communities. my favorite spots to visit are that kind of place ... a quiet walk or bike ride to pick up coffee or something from a bakery, or to pop into a little shop or eat lunch at a quaint cafe. we've said that we'll get through harper's high school years and then likely downsize, and to me, downsizing is an all-encompassing idea of making life slower and easier, which includes (in my mind) less yard work. and a sweet little lot in an old neighborhood just won't have a huge yard; a big plus in the pro column.

that doesn't make the yards any less lovely, though. i mean ...

IMG_6071

IMG_6050

IMG_6053
IMG_6070

IMG_6056

IMG_6072

IMG_6062

IMG_6069

(okay ... that last house isn't exactly "quaint" or "downsized", but the yard IS charming.)

walking around gave us a lot to think about. there are definitely cons as well as pros, and luckily we have time to mull it over. about seven years, to be exact.

(unless that new road makes our life hell, and then all bets are off.)

anyway ... after we got home, the remainder of the day was quiet and nice. i get pretty freaked out when i think about how quickly time is moving, and how our lives will change so much in two years, then seven, and then who knows ... so it was nice to just appreciate being with the kiddos for the day. mother's day may no longer look like this ...

IMG_8955

(and yes, that makes me really sad sometimes)

but it does still look like this ...

IMG_6074luminousoceanclearskies

and as long as i have these two, it's a good day.


mothers day wish list

it has come to my attention that mothers' day is coming.

(actually, i was informed of the date after i registered harper for a swim meet that would take place on the holiday, and when i told my family what i'd done, they gave me so much trouble that i had to un-register her.)

(whoops.)

anyway ... i'm gonna pretend that we are fancy holiday-remembering, gift-giving people, and make a list of my dream mothers' day ideas:

 

"gilmore girls"-inspired candles. because, SO. MUCH. YES.

Il_570xN.965849404_6u8p

 

inspired room and color at home coloring books. because while coloring books are amazing, house coloring books are amazinger. and especially house coloring books created by melissa michaels and the petersiks.

  61iNb+GerWL._SX427_BO1,204,203,200_
A1QNTGTJqZL

an extra large planter for my aloe, whom i affectionately call The Kraken, and who desperately needs a new, extra large home.

Il_570xN.1000002791_l0js

 

this print, from rifle paper co., because chicago will always mean something to me.

520543

 

and i could really *really* use a new camera bag

Savannah_green_back_1024x1024

and what is mothers day without a beautiful bouquet of flowers? and this bouquet from my favorite flower shop is pretty much perfection:

Peavy_1024x1024

 

or maybe a meaningful piece of jewelry?

Il_570xN.453478827_7qxo

 

chances are, my mothers' day will look a lot like years past: sleep in (i'll still be up before everyone else, and if i'm lucky i'll make it to 8:00 a.m.), quiet coffee, lunch in south minneapolis, a walk around lake harriet to look at flowers and houses, and then who knows where the rest of the day will go ... a good book? a nap? yard work?

anything is possible.

but if i have my kiddos and mchotness, that's all i really need.

(though those coloring books would be pretty awesome ...)

 

 

 

 

 

 


a florida room

have you ever checked out the real estate firm douglas elliman? if you are a house voyeur like i am, this company is the holy grail, especially for dream vacation living. my usual preferred style is more new england (which they represent), but after returning from florida i'm fully immersed in vacation/summer daydream mode, and wishing for a tropical escape. and their florida listings are phenomenally inspirational.

IMG_5622

a vacation isn't happening any time soon, and on top of that we are back to the drawing board on the screened-in room situation for our own outdoor escape at home. i know its primary function will be for outdoor dining sans bugs, but it would also be nice to have a sort of florida room ... a type of sun room or sun porch ... a room that is open to breezes during the warm months. a place to relax and stay cool on hot summer days. and as soon as i think about a breezy room for escaping the heat, my brain immediately goes, "the great gatsby."

what?? follow me on this.

remember when nick visits tom & daisy at the beginning of the book? (i'm not the only nerd here, right?) the description of where he first encounters daisy and her friend, jordan, is where my mind went:

We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea. The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house.

i love fitzgerald. can't you just imagine such a room, and such a day? all of the windows on our home's main floor have white linen curtains, and there is nothing more peaceful than sitting on the couch while those curtains move in the breeze. maybe i had gatsby in the back of my head when i chose them ... maybe because i'd been perusing those douglas elliman houses ...

but back to the florida room. my brain starts to swirl it all together: gatsby, sun room, indoor/outdoor, water and wind, relaxing. and i just assume my backyard looks something like this ...

7a38c9fff114887fb63ec25b0a26adfe

and this ...

2fb958ee8deed7cfe89e385b2995f3d1

so my perfect florida room would be a little tropical, a little new england, a little fancy, and a lot unfussy and casual.

 

something like ...

Floridaroom
 

let's assume that our florida room opens onto a patio, to have that indoor/outdoor element. and there are tall windows on two or three sides, which would of course be clad in long, white, floaty, linen curtains. you need comfy seating, so a soft indoor/outdoor couch is perfect for indestructible lounging. then you have the rattan daybed with soft pillows ... just the place for a summer nap. and the swing chair would be a great spot to curl up and read "gatsby" again. above you is a woven-blade ceiling fan, to assist the breeze on warm days.

a jute rug on the floor and a shuttered cabinet, to hold board games and extra books and blankets, have that beach cottage personality. of course there is a bar cart, for summer refreshments, and a coffee table on which to prop up feet or play one of those board games. by the daybed is a ghost table that mimics the classic design of the coffee table, but is 'now you see it/now you don't' to keep the room feeling light. throw pillows (that green kate spade one has the statement "this is the life" on it. perfect for a room whose soul purpose is relaxing!) and a pouf give the room softness and a little color, while the art on the bright white walls give even more color, as well as a vacation vibe. especially that aaron chang water photograph ... spectacular! looks like you can dive right into it.

simple sconces would light the corners of the room, while accent lamps on the cabinet give extra light during evening hang-outs. pretty vases bring out the green in the artwork, and a fresh bouquet of flowers from the bouqs and a fiddle leaf fern bring in the natural element.

and when you tire of all that comfortable lounging, you walk out onto the patio and head straight for that pool!

good idea?

 

 

sources:

outdoor couch: restoration hardware

daybed: serena & lily

ghost table: wisteria

pillows: serena & lily, etsy, kate spade

swing chair: pier 1

curtains: crate and barrel

cabinet: overstock

coffee table: maine cottage

ceiling fan: lamps plus

art: aaron chang

sailboat print: minted

watercolor: minted

pouf: annie selke

bar cart: wayfair

kantha blanket: imogene + willie

lamp: maine cottage

sconces: lamps plus

ice bucket: furbish studio

rug: west elm

flowers: the bouqs

vase: jill rosenwald

 planter: crate and barrel