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Whew – what a weekend.  I’m actually kind of glad to be headed back to my desk – I need a break from running around!  On Saturday morning we were up at the crack of dawn to drive out to Dulles for a 5K race on the runway.  I ran with Nugget in the stroller, a decision which I almost regretted (pushing 45+ combined pounds of stroller plus toddler is no joke) but he had so much fun seeing the planes from a different angle and being part of a race that I couldn’t be sorry I decided to bring him along for the ride.  Peanut was breaking it down at the finish line dance party with Steve and my BFF, Rebecca, who came into town on a flying visit (a week before her wedding, no less!) to help me put Peanut’s fifth birthday party together.  (She actually turned five in August, but we waited until September to throw her party, so that she could have her friends from her new class at school join in the fun.)  As soon as the race was over, Rebecca and I snapped into party-mode, and the rest of Saturday, and Sunday morning, was devoted to trips to Michaels, Party Depot and Wegmans, and cooking, crafting and planning for the party.  I spent almost two hours on chalkboard decorations for the party, and am now the official chalkboard lettering artiste for the wedding next weekend.  (Saw that coming.)  It was totally worth it, because Peanut and her friends had a blast, and everyone loved the mermaid theme.  Once the party was over, I really wanted to collapse on the couch, but instead I had to fire up the old computer and get some work-work done.  And now I’m looking at another busy week ahead – but good stuff, all around.

Reading.  I have spent my entire week with Omakayas and her family in Louise Erdrich’s beautiful Birchbark House books, and I regret nothing.  Early in the week, I finished up the first in the series, The Birchbark House, and then sped through the second and third, The Game of Silence and The Porcupine Year, respectively.  Reading speed slowed down a little bit when Rebecca came into town, because we spent Friday and Saturday evenings chatting over cups of herbal tea instead of reading.  But I ended Sunday curled up on the couch with Chickadee, and I am loving every moment I spend with these books – yes, even the heartbreaking ones (and there are heartbreaking moments aplenty).

Listening.  I am sooooooo close to finishing up The Great Courses’ Classics of British Literature on Audible!  Twenty-four hours total; I’m seventeen minutes from the end of the last lecture (which is about contemporary British theatre).  I’ve really enjoyed it, although I’m quite put out that Anthony Trollope didn’t merit more than a brief mention during the Jane Austen lecture.  Excuse me, but if Dickens gets two lectures, Trollope deserves at least one.  Anyway – Trollope snub aside, I’ve loved spending time with this course and my reading list has grown exponentially.  Next week, I think, I’m going to listen to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.  It’ll fulfill one of my Book Riot Challenge categories (YA or middle grade by an author who identifies as LGBTQIA+), and Lin-Manuel Miranda reads the audiobook.  What’s not to like?

Watching.  Nothing – oops!  Our usual Saturday movie night was replaced by Rebecca time (while Steve watched a show on his tablet, upstairs).  But I’m really excited that Season 4 of Rock the Park is due to start airing soon!  I’ve missed Jack and Colton, and while I love following them on social media, it’s just not quite the same.  From what I have seen on Instagram, they’ve been having some epic adventures, so I expect Season 4 will be lots of fun.

Moving.  Good week!  In addition to running around after children and setting up a mermaid themed birthday party, I got in my regular two power yoga classes and ran a 5K with the stroller.  I’m pretty pleased with that, and now that it’s getting easier and easier to get up early as I am more in the habit, I’m hoping to squeeze in a few more runs so I can work up to the Marine Corps Marathon 10K in October – ooooo-rah!

Blogging.  Fall list coming to you on Wednesday (and it’s too ambitious, as usual) and the first of two posts about Channel Islands National Park on Friday.  Yes, you read that right!  Our adventure there was so epic that it demands a two-part recap; look for pictures of a gorgeous hike this week, and a truly awesome adventure on the water next week.

Loving.  My friends!  Old and new friends came together and helped me throw Peanut a fabulous party.  My BFF drove up from Virginia Beach and devoted the weekend before her wedding to important tasks like filling baggies with blue jelly beans and Swedish Fish; and every. single. mom. at the party – moms of kids from Peanut’s old class and moms from her new class, some of whom I’d barely even spoken to before today, jumped right in to help me set out food, distribute favors, haul extra boxes, wrangle kids, and do anything else that needed to be done to make the party a success.  You know you’ve happened upon a truly special bunch when women you’ve only just met take one look at your stressed out face and start rolling up their sleeves.  Warm fuzzies all around.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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As we sat down to plan our California trip, there were a few must-do items on our list – and one of those was “hike with Dan and Danielle.”  My brother and sis-in-law are avid hikers, just like us!  In fact, they’re generally more adventurous than we are (I give us a pass for now, since we’re toting little hikers with us).  We compared schedules and decided to hike Joshua Tree together as our big sibling activity for the week.  Well – you might have noticed – our family made it to Joshua Tree, but Dan and Danielle didn’t, due to a snafu with their rental car.  Bummer!  We rolled with it and decided to hike in the Santa Barbara area instead – and luckily, there were plenty of highly regarded hikes to choose from there.  After some hemming and hawing, we decided on the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve and Seal Sanctuary.

We had the parking lot almost to ourselves, so Peanut took advantage of the wide open space and got some spins out of easy mark Aunt Danielle.

As we headed into the park, we saw water views almost immediately.  Yes, please!

Look at that joy!  Aren’t piggyback rides the best?

A word about our child carrying arrangements.  As you’ve seen in previous posts, I had my child carrier with me, which is currently calibrated for Nugget, so he caught a ride.  With limited space in our bags, we made the tough decision to leave Peanut’s carrier at home and to rely on her to walk along with us.  I didn’t know quite how that would go, but it was great.  She hiked more than two miles at Joshua Tree – a long distance for such little legs!  And she walked most of the time at Carpinteria as well, although when she was tired, there were willing shoulders.  I was really proud of how well she did walking throughout the trip, and it’s nice to know that we can start transitioning her away from expecting to ride all the time.

The water views on our left were stunning, but there were some beautiful views on our right, too.

Mountains!  The California mountains are so different from the Adirondacks and Blue Ridge Mountains – my playground in the East – and from the Colorado mountains where Dan and Danielle do most of their adventuring.  I just loved the setting of Santa Barbara, nestled between the mountains and the ocean.  What a place to live, right?

Don’t be fooled by this picture; Peanut is not walking – she’s swinging.  Dan and Danielle, not being parents, thought it was so sweet that she wanted to hold both their hands!  She revealed her ulterior motive very quickly.

Most of the hike went along the railroad tracks, much to Nugget’s delight.  He was even more excited when a train went by!

Look at these people.  I just love them all so much.  Warm fuzzies!

After a short walk, we reached a viewpoint, and it was pretty astonishing.

Way too gorgeous.  There’s nothing quite like the California coastline.  It reminded me of hiking Point Reyes with Steve back in 2009, and of a family trip to Big Sur when I was little.

This was Danielle’s first trip to California.  I think she had a grand adventure.

We wanted to stay and gawk at the view forever, but we had to get on our way.  That’s a thing about hiking with kids – they keep you moving.

Back on the trail!

Fortunately, we had gorgeous views to enjoy while we walked.

Our next stop was the seal sanctuary portion of the nature preserve.  During the seal pup season (December through May) there are hundreds of seals on the beach below the Carpinteria Bluffs.  We were, of course, there in August – so we didn’t expect seal pups.  But we were hoping that if the beach was that popular with the pinniped set, there’d still be a few lounging around.

Strikeout.  Lots of seagulls, though.  The good news?  I’d forgotten my zoom lens back at our aunt and uncle’s house, so I wouldn’t have been able to paparazzi the pinnipeds even if they had been there.  Since they weren’t, I stopped kicking myself for forgetting it.

The seal overlook (that wasn’t) was the end goal of our hike, so we turned around and headed back to the cars.  We were all a little bummed that there were no pinnipeds, but happy to have had time together in a beautiful place – no regrets!

Dan felt sorry that we hadn’t seen any seals, so he did his best imitation.

It’s really a shame that he is always serious and hates fun.

We had some extra time, and we were having fun hanging out together, so we decided to keep the party going (and hopefully see some pinnipeds after all) in Ventura.  Dan and Danielle had been staying on our Uncle Peter’s boat, which is docked in Ventura Harbor, and they said there was a gaggle of sea lions that could be spotted pretty reliably around the Channel Islands National Park visitors’ center.  So we decided that lunch in Ventura Harbor was clearly in order.

Uncle Peter got his boat fairly recently, so I never had a chance to visit Ventura Harbor when we would stay in Santa Barbara on childhood trips.  It was bustling and beautiful.

With just the right amount of kitsch.

It’s too bad that Aunt Danielle is also always serious and hates fun.

Piggyback love was spread around.  Peanut had her turn in Carpinteria, and now Nugget got a chance to ride on Uncle Dan.

It was such a treat to be together in California and get to spend some quality time with Dan and Danielle.  Sorry for the gushing, but I just love this gang so much!

We walked around almost the entire harbor, checking out all of the boats.

And finally, a pinniped sighting!  There were a small group of California sea lions sunning themselves on the docks near the national park visitors’ center, just as Dan and Danielle had promised there would be.

Ahhhhhhh they are so funny and adorable!!!!

After our walk, we enjoyed a fabulous lunch at one of the seafood restaurants right on the harbor, and spent some time exploring the Channel Islands National Park visitors’ center.  Peanut and Nugget rode on dolphin and sea lion statues, because why not, and we all soaked up the family time that we don’t get nearly enough.  The hike may not have gone quite to plan, but any day on the trail with Dan and Danielle is a red letter day.

What is your favorite place to spot wildlife?

Scenes of a Summer 2017

Ahhhhhh, summer.  You’re almost over – tomorrow is officially the first day of fall.  And while I’m ready to welcome my favorite season, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give my very-close-second favorite the sendoff that it deserves.

I’ve written here before that, while I live in the temperate Mid-Atlantic region now, I still have something of a New York mentality when it comes to summer fun.  I’m used to waiting impatiently all year for what inevitably turns out to be far too short of a warm season, and to squeezing every minute of fun that I can possibly get out of these few months of the year.  Even in Virginia, where the days are long and warm into October, I can’t help myself – I pack every weekend with activity and drag the family out to make memories several times a week.  Someone stop me!

On Memorial Day weekend, we welcomed the high summer season with a visit to a lavender farm, a stroll through Jones Point Park, and lots of pleasant wandering around Old Town.  We made the rounds of the playgrounds and ate delicious Mexican food with Zan and Paul, who were in town visiting.

The next weekend, Steve went out of town for a boys’ getaway to celebrate a friend’s fortieth birthday.  I was on solo parent duty and spent most of the five days of his absence running to and from the nanny, school and work – and then Peanut came down with a vicious case of strep.  No fun at all!  But we did manage to get out for some fun on that Saturday.  I might be insane, but I took both kids to the zoo by myself.  We visited with the great cats, pandas, elephants and more and the kids had way too much fun in the splash pad.

As soon as Steve returned, I left – for two days of practice group meetings at my firm’s Chicago office.  It was mostly workshops and networking, but I did manage to squeeze in a little time for myself.  I set my alarm early on Friday morning and headed out for just shy of four miles of Chicago sightseeing before making my way to the office and then the airport.

With a couple of weeks to spend at home before our travel schedule heated up, we explored the summer fun in northern Virginia.  We put in some quality time at our local community pool and found a new favorite activity – the splash pad!  We were there almost every weekend, unless we were out of town.

And we also spent a lot of time here – on the back patio, tending to our garden.  It was a little slapstick sometimes, but we had fun and learned some stuff.

In late June, summer travel began in earnest!  We spent a weekend on Virginia Beach visiting with my BFF Rebecca, her fiancé Eric, and their family.  We even got to be there to wish a certain Buffalo friend’s little nephew a happy second birthday in person, and to see his mom’s adorable baby bump!  (Congratulations on your upcoming promotion to big brother status, Hudson!)

And just two weeks later, we packed up the car again and headed to New York for the fourth of July weekend, which we spent at my parents’ Adirondack camp.  Nothing better!

We hiked at Grafton State Park with my friend Christine (and Nugget tried to launch one of the rescue kayaks).

Climbed our third Adirondack high peak.

Took the kayak out for a paddle on the Sacandaga… (#paddlethedacks)

Sailed with my cousin Jocelyn and some family friends…

Rambunctiously wished America a happy birthday…

And stared in awe at a golden Adirondack sunset.

The very next weekend, we spent the day at a motor sports park in West Virginia watching Steve race a Porsche supercar around their track – his “big” Christmas present from 2016.  He absolutely loved it – and so did Nugget, who has proudly been telling everyone we meet that his daddy drives race cars.

We kept the paddling fun coming at Fletcher’s Cove – now that we knew the kids could be trusted to duff, there was no keeping us off the water!

And – kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! – we picked blueberries at Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Maryland…

Which were later turned into pie.

We swam in the community pool a lot.

And then we flew to California for the wedding of a dear friend, followed by a family reunion!

We had some epic adventures (stories continue every Friday!)…

And flew home over the Grand Canyon.

We visited with our heroes.

And we bid farewell to summer from the sunflower fields.

Bon voyage, summer of ’17!  You’ve been sun-baked and sweet.  And now, fall, you can start anytime.

Well, here it is Monday – somehow.  This weekend went insanely fast.  Anyone else?  They’re all fast, but this one seemed faster than most.  On Friday, Peanut was complaining of a sore throat, so Steve took her to the doctor – she’s usually pretty reliable when she mentions a sore throat, so we thought better safe than sorry.  It turned out just a cold, not the strep we’d feared, but we still decided to give her a cozy day at home on Saturday.  Since both Nugget and I go stir-crazy if we have to stay at home too long, we left Daddy and Peanut on the couch and headed off on an adventure to the Andrews Air Show.  It was amazing – great recommendation by our nanny.  We got to check out lots of military aircraft, saw the Golden Knights parachute from the sky, and watched a B2 stealth bomber fly overhead.  Pretty awesome day!  On Sunday, Peanut was still running a little bit of a temp, but she felt fine, so we headed up to Maryland to pick apples.  We had a great time, saw a tractor, and came home with half a bushel of delicious apples.  (At least some are destined to be pie.)  And now it’s Monday again, and I’m zonked.

  

Reading.  Pretty crazy reading week.  I spent most of the week in Sinclair Lewis’s nightmare America.  It’s pretty crazy disconcerting stuff – some of the paragraphs could have been lifted right out of today’s headlines.  After I finished It Can’t Happen Here, I checked another one off my list – Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home.  I polished Fun Home off in a day and now I’m in the early pages of The Birchbark House, Louise Erdrich’s Native American Little House.  I have the whole series out from the library, so you’ll be seeing it again next week.

Watching.  Movie night this week was Steve’s choice, and he picked Guardians of the Galaxy.  I’m not sure what we will do when we run out of Chris Pratt movies.  (Movie night just won’t be as fun when I don’t sing “I fell into the pit… you fell into the pit…” over and over again.)

Listening.  I am happy to report that I’m almost done with The Great Courses’ Classics of British Literature.  Less than four hours left!  Since it was a twenty-four hour course, I’m pretty pleased with that.

Moving.  Kind of a slow week – just two yoga classes and some riding on my DeskCycle.  That’s not counting the usual circus of chasing after two insane munchkins, of course.  Next weekend I have a 5K, so a couple of weekday runs are in order this week.

Loving.  It must officially be fall, because seasonal Larabar flavors are out!  (At least, I think they’re seasonal.  I’m basing this entirely on the fact that they were on an endcap at Wegmans, though, so I may not be completely reliable.  You should trust me anyway.)  Anywho, I got snickerdoodle and gingerbread flavors, and they’re a fun way to mix things up from my usual coconut cream pie – cherry pie – apple spice rotation.  Dates, nuts, dried fruit and vanilla – yum.

Blogging.  Summer scenes coming to you on Wednesday, and the next installment in the California fun recaps on Friday.  Check back!

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

On Peanut’s fifth birthday, we woke up with two thoughts on our minds: (1) give the birthday girl ALL the snuggles; and (2) watch the solar eclipse!  Santa Barbara was nowhere near the path of totality, but we still wanted to tune in for the show that all of America was going crazy for.  So we swiped my Uncle Peter’s eclipse glasses (he was out at Channel Islands with my brother and sister-in-law) and headed for Goleta Beach, the nearest sandy spot to my Uncle Peter and Aunt Kathy’s home.

It was a pretty cool show!  Even though it was only a partial eclipse where we were, Steve and I both enjoyed peering through the eclipse glasses.  The birthday girl, predictably, wanted nothing to do with the eclipse.

Little bro took a look for a minute, but I don’t know how much he really saw.  He shoved the glasses off his face and asked to walk the pier instead.  Okay, little guy – you win!

We walked all the way out to the end of the Goleta Pier and looked back over the water at the pretty palm trees and the gorgeous mountains in the background.  It was a cloudy morning – but that can be better for beaching it with little ones; less worry about them turning into little lobsters.

We had a nice morning digging in the sand and climbing the rocks, then headed back to my aunt and uncle’s house for lunch.  After an aborted naptime attempt, we were out the door to our afternoon activity.  When planning the trip, I knew I wanted to do something extra-special on Peanut’s birthday – something that would reflect my favorite girl and her interests.  She loves gardening and flowers, and Santa Barbara has a stunning botanic garden – so that’s where we went!

I’ve been to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden before, but not for about twenty years.  I remembered the beautiful pathways through the meadow, and the cool desert garden…

…but somehow, I’d forgotten the absolutely incredible mountain setting.  The Botanic Gardens were tucked into a hillside and nestled amongst Santa Barbara’s stunning mountains.  How did I not remember this amazing scenery?  (Well, I was fifteen at the time, and responsible for not losing my ten-year-old cousin Jessica – I was the summer childcare arrangement – which was a tall order.  So I guess I was focused on more important things than mountains at the time.)

We meandered through the meadow exhibit first, and I couldn’t stop gushing over the craggy mountains surrounding us.

Met a new friend…

This little guy was smaller than the lizards we saw in Joshua Tree, but no less fascinating!

Peanut found a pond – still her favorite ecosystem!  Some things never change.

After a good ramble around the meadows, we headed down into a ravine to explore the redwood section.  As we walked past the sign, we saw trees towering with their canopies seventy feet above us, just off to our left.  Steve remarked that he was thinking those were pretty tall trees, but nothing that impressive, until he realized that they were growing up from the ravine floor, some 100 feet below.

We strolled down a beautiful path through the stand of California redwoods – another part of the garden I had forgotten from my last visit.  So unbelievably gorgeous!

Beautiful and serene.

After we got our fill of the redwoods we headed back up to explore more of the hillside.

Nugget and I checked out the cactus garden – always one of my favorite spots in any botanic garden.  And then we set off in search of a hidden treasure Steve had heard was tucked away in a corner of the gardens.

Walked past the potting sheds – so pretty and picturesque.

Down a pretty path, through a less-traveled section of the garden, all the way to…

A Japanese tea house, originally built in Kyoto and reassembled painstakingly in Santa Barbara!  According to the garden’s brochure, it is still used for tea ceremonies.  But on the day we visited, it was shut up tightly.  Still such a treat to see.

We had one more stop to make in the garden – a new nature center that was built recently (so, long after my fuzzily-remembered last visit).

Crossed the street and ascended a mountain path – the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens delivered some great hiking!  Up to the nature center, which was closed, but that was fine – we were really there for the view.  This view:

Whoa.  And also this one, too:

Can you believe this place is real?  It’s like something from a beautiful dream.

The hills are aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiive…

Oh, my little loves.  Never a dull moment.

After spending a good half hour running on the lawn, rolling in the grass and gawking at the view, it was time to head back down the hillside for dinner.  Check out that view on the way down!  How many hikes deliver those kind of wonders?  We will definitely be back.

Still reeling from the beauty of the Botanic Gardens, we drove down out of the mountains and into Santa Barbara proper, to meet the rest of the family for Peanut’s birthday dinner.  I had to browbeat everyone a little bit, but I managed to drag the entire family together – my parents, Dan and Danielle, my Uncle Peter and Aunt Kathy, and my cousin Jessica – at a beachfront restaurant in downtown SB.

We were early, so we got to explore the beautiful boardwalk and bike trail area, and to spend some time watching the skateboarders riding in the oceanside skate park.  Nugget was completely fascinated, and Peanut wanted to know where the girl skateboarders were.  (Her first feminist moment?)

Anyway, we had a lovely short walk taking in the beach and ocean and mountain scenery.  Santa Barbara is so gorgeous!  And then, it was time for dinner.

Our group was so big, I couldn’t get everyone in the frame!  Nugget – Peanut – Nana – Aunt Kathy – Uncle Peter – Dan – Danielle (blocked from view) – Jessica – Steve – Grandad.  And Mom behind the lens, as always.

Okay, there they all are.

Nugget made the rounds of the table, and also twisted every single adult arm into accompanying him to view the big aquarium by the hostess station.

But don’t worry – he was back for cake.  The restaurant kindly gifted Peanut with a gigantic slice of mud pie (which was actually the world’s most delicious coffee ice cream confection) and the whole table shared it – after she blew out her candle and made her five-year-old wish, of course.

Happy birthday, one more time, my girl!  I hope you had a great day.  We sure do love you!

 

Summer Sunflowers

Way back this past spring, when we picked tulips at Burnside Farms, I made a mental note of the farm’s Summer of Sunflowers event.  I wasn’t sure if we would make it out to Haymarket over the summer – even as early as Easter, our summer calendar was filling up.  But I kept the event on my radar just in case it worked out, and as it happened, we had a gorgeous day and an open calendar on Labor Day Monday.  So – off to Haymarket we went, in search of some summer sunflowers!

I was determined to get a few clicks in with my camera.  There is nothing in this world that annoys my children more than when Mom pulls out the dSLR!  But I insisted and made it as quick as possible, and then Nugget was released to the bounce house and Peanut to the sunflower fields, while I followed close behind with the camera still clicking.  (You never know when that perfect Christmas card shot is going to present itself…)

The sunflowers were planted in rows in the same field where we’d picked tulips, and it was absolutely glorious.

I want them allllllllllll

Each family got one basket to fill with as many sunflowers as they wanted.  Peanut chose the basket, as she did when we picked tulips.  I think she made her decision solely based on which basket would make the best necklace.

Anyway, we made our way through the fields, Peanut pointing out the flowers she wanted and me clipping the chosen blooms with the snips the farm provided.  We each had our minor freak-out moments – me over a butterfly (shudder) and Peanut over a fly that she mistakenly believed to be a bee.  I like to think that I was the more stoic one of the two of us.  (I really was.  Peanut dramatically tried to collapse in the middle of the sunflowers and I had to hold her upright for several minutes, repeating “It’s not a bee.  It’s not a bee.” until she finally snapped out of it and got back to picking.)

Caught her looking.

Eventually the boys joined us again and we picked more blooms as a family.

It’s possible we went a little overboard.  There were just so many beautiful blooms!

 

 

Eventually we got all of our flowers safely back to the tent for processing.  We trimmed the stems, got them in water and paid for them, then were on our way – but not without a quick detour…

 

Every.  Single.  Time.

Brought our blooms home and they’ve been brightening up the kitchen in my favorite vase (a wedding present which has amazingly surprised twelve years of house-moving and kid abuse).

Such a gorgeous day, and a perfect way to bid farewell to summer!  Thanks for the basket of sunshine, Burnside Farms!

Have you ever picked your own flowers?

Hello new week, and happy birthday to my adorable sister-in-law Danielle!  (Insert heart emojis here.)  It was a busy weekend around here – the kind that leaves my heart very full.  On Saturday, Peanut and I were out the door early to visit with my friend Allison, who just welcomed a sweet baby girl.  We brought over three boxes and a bag filled with hand-me-downs – the best, right?  There’s something so comforting about the act of passing down outgrown clothes to a new baby.  It feels like – community, I guess.  Anyway, Allison was well taken care of when it came to tiny clothes, and I don’t have any of those left anyway, having passed them all to my friend Allegra two years ago.  But I had a truckload (literally) of 24 months, 2T and 3T clothes and was glad to see them off to a fabulous new home.  Almost as soon as we were back from Allison’s house, we headed out again, this time to the first birthday party of the school year.  And then we were exhausted, and spent the rest of the evening recovering at home.  I read It Can’t Happen Here on the front porch after the kids went to bed, while Steve played a video game with his friends while obsessively Irma-watching (his mom lives in Florida, and we have both been worried, but thank goodness – it looks like the absolute worst of the storm missed her).

Sunday was another busy and heart-full day.  Nugget and I ran out to Wegmans in the morning, where we loaded up on groceries for the week and food for a mini-party we were hosting – our dear friends Zan and Paul came over for the first Bills game of the season!  (New readers: Zan and I both moved to Buffalo from D.C. within a month of each other back in 2013, met and became close up there, and now they have moved back to D.C. – yay!  Zan is one of my framily – friends who are basically family – and she was the person I missed most when we moved away from Buffalo last year.  I’m so excited that we are living in the same city again!  Her friendship has been a huge blessing to me for the past few years.  Insert more heart emojis.)  Anyway, we had a fab afternoon.  The boys watched the game (the Bills won!) – the big boys for the entire duration; the small boy for about half an hour before going down for his nap.  And the girls hung out in the kitchen, baking a gluten-free vanilla coconut cake with a coconut glaze (that was supposed to be coconut whipped cream, but reality struck; everyone liked the glaze, though).  As usual, Peanut had so much fun baking and decorating the cake!  That kid loves to be in the kitchen (she also helped me make the veggie chili for the party).  Ended the weekend curled up on the couch with It Can’t Happen Here – so, yes, it was a good one.  Nothing earth-shattering or over-the-top; just a weekend spent pottering around northern Virginia, holding a baby, cooking with my girl, and spending time with beloved friends.  What adventure could ever beat that?

  

Reading.  I started the week still on London War Notes, reading slowly and savoring, but laid it aside temporarily while I beat back some library deadlines.  First up was Crazy Rich Asians, which has been on my list for ages, and which was so much fun.  I can’t wait for the movie!  Then a bunch of holds came in, and first up on that agenda had to be Sinclair Lewis’ classic It Can’t Happen Here, which is freaking me out, you guys.  Lewis predicted Trump back in 1935, and it’s completely terrifying.  But still a must-read for “thinking Americans,” as it was described 80+ years ago when first published.  Anyway, I’m still in the beginning pages (did you read the weekend recap up there? busy, busy) but once I finish It Can’t Happen Here, I think I’m going to pick up Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home – another one that has been on my list for ages.

Watching.  Nothing, actually.  Unless you count the “Octopus Wildkratticus” episode of Wild Kratts about half a dozen times.  We skipped our usual movie night this week.  Next week will be Steve’s turn to pick the movie.  Odds are he chooses Jurassic Park.

Listening.  Still catching up on my podcasts, but midway through the week I switched back to Audible for a change of pace.  I’m down to about twelve hours to go in The Great Courses’ Classics of British Literature, and still no Dear Aunt Jane, although I think her appearance is imminent.  I’m listening impatiently and will only truly begin to calm down once I have gotten my Austen fix.  Or maybe I won’t calm down, and will instead begin agitating for Trollope.

Moving.  A pretty good week.  Only two yoga classes – it was too busy of a weekend to get in my usual Saturday asanas – but I did squeeze in a before-sunrise run down to the marina and back on Thursday.  I need to be getting in one or two weekday runs and one weekend if I’m going to be up for the Marine Corps 10K at the end of October.  Ooo-rah!  The time is now.

Blogging.  I have a very cheerful post – filled with flowers! – coming to you on Wednesday: a recap of our pick-your-own sunflowers fun at Burnside Farms last weekend.  I can’t wait to show you the pictures!  It was such a great day.  And then on Friday, vacation recaps continue.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  This is old news by now, but I seriously can’t get enough of Prince George’s front door back-to-school picture on the steps of Kensington Palace.  I think I squealed out loud when I saw it pop up in my Instagram feed.  The pictures and video of Prince William walking him in to his new school were precious, too, but I am beyond gleeful about the Kensington Palace picture.  Royals, they’re just like us!  They take front door pictures on the first day of school, too!

Asking.  What are you reading this week?