Well, it’s time for a garden update and I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that the garden seems to be doing reasonably well – or at least, some of it does.  We’ve had a lot of rain recently and it’s making a big difference.

The bad news: to the extent the garden is thriving, it doesn’t seem to be to my credit, and if I decide to get involved with the care of a plant I seem to kill it.  Steve says that if I go against every single one of my natural instincts, I might still have a garden by the end of the season.  How’s that for a vote of confidence?


When I last left you, we’d gotten plants into three pots (which we moved from New York, much to Steve’s chagrin – they are heavy – because I love their colors).  Peanut and I planted lettuces in the big pot, beans in the medium pot and rosemary in the small pot.  We’d jumped the gun just a bit on buying our plants and hit the garden centers before many edibles were ready, with the result being that I had to buy something to avoid a preschooler meltdown.

Fast-forward a few weeks later.  Things were doing reasonably well, and the garden centers had more tomatoes and herbs, so I decided it was time to roll up my sleeves and really dig in.  (#gardenpun).  I visited Lowes and picked up a couple more pots, which I am hoping are big enough for tomatoes.  (Some quick internet research indicated that tomato plants need a fairly large pot for their root systems.)

And that’s when I made my first mess.  I decided to move some plants into pots that were more appropriately sized for them – planting things in the wrong-sized pots was a planning fail to begin with, but see above – I just had to go with it and buy the plants too early, to avoid a preschooler tantrum, and things ended up in poorly sized plants as a result.  Yeah, I suppose I could have put more thought into it in the first place and then I wouldn’t have had these problems.  Well – whatever.

It started out okay.  I moved the rosemary into the medium-sized pot and added some newly acquired parsley and thyme, and planted mint in the small pot (so it could be alone).  But in order to do so, I had to move the beans, and that’s where things started to fall apart.  I tried to untangle the bean plant from the trellis (which was too small) and I ended up killing the poor thing – look how sad it is after I replanted it in the barrel and tried transferring it to the Ultimate Tomato Cage.  Whoops.

Other failures of this iteration of the garden – the lettuce bolted, and someone ate all of the leaves off my purple Thai basil and tormented the poor thing until it gave up the ghost.  I was blaming squirrels (read on) but Steve mentioned he’s also seen some black birds lurking around my pots.  Sounds like I might need a scarecrow.

On to Act III of this little play.  I made yet another trip to the garden center after the weather had warmed up a bit, and picked up more tomatoes and herbs.  I grabbed some more mint to add to my mint pot (now I have a mix of chocolate mint and julep mint in there – yum) and another basil plant to plop in my tomato pots.  The herbs are looking decently well.  We’ve had a ton of rain recently and they’re loving it.

Also looking well – my original tomatoes!  The plants have shot up and I’ve even spotted a few yellow blossoms.  For awhile, the leaves were looking a little brown and sad, but all the recent rain has really helped.  And the beans that Peanut brought home from school, which Steve planted and then I moved.  Why am I so trigger-happy when it comes to moving plants around?  No wonder I have a black thumb.  I need to learn to leave well enough alone.  Thankfully, the beans seem to be happy enough in their new pot, which they’re sharing with some more tomatoes I picked up from the garden center last weekend.  I wanted lettuce, but the garden center was pretty much out, and the few plants they had left looked sort of sad to me.  So I decided – this is going to be a tomato and herb garden this year.  Farmers’ market lettuce for everyone!

A few more tomato plants – I spy lots more yellow blossoms and a few little green fruits!  I totally cheated and bought a couple of plants that already had fruits.  Hey, I’m trying to set myself up for success here.  I bought Rapunzel, Fantastico, and Green Zebra tomatoes in addition to the cherry variety I was already growing.  It’s going to be all tomatoes, all the time this year. 

Bringing me to my second “don’t be like me” tip.  So, remember how I said I thought I was having a squirrel problem?  We do have a lot of squirrels in our neighborhood, and they’re hardcore, bold urban squirrels with no respect for people’s property.  So I googled “how to repel squirrels from garden” and came up with a few tips, including – cayenne pepper.  Apparently, they don’t like the smell.  (Of course, the same website also said they don’t like the smell of mint, and something was digging up my mint plants.  In thinking about it – maybe Steve is right, and the problem is crows, not squirrels.)  Anyway, I decided to give cayenne a try, and on Tuesday morning before I left for a business trip, I traipsed out my back door in my slippers with a jar of cayenne in hand, which I proceeded to sprinkle all over the soil.  It definitely looked intimidating.  Then I thought to myself, “This cayenne is pretty old.  I wonder if it’s potent enough to repel the squirrels.”  I leaned down, took a whiff, and… HOLY $(@*$&%(#(#& IT IS POTENT ENOUGH TO REPEL SQUIRRELS OH GOD #@@)%*@#&$.

Gardening pro tip!  Snorting cayenne pepper hurts like a mofo!  Don’t do it!

And if you don’t know, now you know.

Last thing – while I’m telling you about all this other garden equipment I’ve been acquiring – plants, pots, cayenne pepper… there was one item that has proven to be absolutely necessary.  If I didn’t want that happy little dude to dig up my plants, fling soil around the patio and dump handfuls of gravel over my most delicate herbs – all of which was happening – some sort of distraction was needed.  Enter the sandbox!  I’d been meaning to get one for awhile but was hung up on finding the best safe sand.  I finally found an acceptable option (Sandtastik, for my mom friends who might be in the market) and as for the box itself – well, clearly I had to go for the Fisher Price turtle.  Can’t beat a classic, amirite?  Both kids love it, and more importantly, so far, the sandbox seems to be fulfilling its purpose of distracting Nugget and keeping him out of the garden.  Of course, now every surface in the house and on the patio is covered with a layer of sand.  You can’t win them all.

Gardening friends: have you planted yet?  How’s it going?  Have you also snorted cayenne pepper in an effort to repel squirrels?

Starting off a new year, I’m always full of plans and goals – some involving books, some involving the (less important) rest of life.  Often, I set a number of books I’d like to read – usually 100, since I’ve found that’s where I naturally fall when left to my own devices.  (Sometimes my total is in the high nineties, some times a little over one hundred.)  I might occasionally add a goal to read a certain number of classics, since I love them – they’re my comfort reading – but can tend to get distracted by new releases.

Goal #1 – Read Diversely

Last year, I set a goal of reading at least 33% books by diverse authors – people of color, LGBT authors, Muslims, and other underrepresented groups.  I ended up with just a hair over 40% and was very happy with my result.  This year, I set the goal of 33% again and, as of the time of this posting, was hovering around 39%, which I think is quite good, considering I haven’t been as diligent about it this year as I was last year.

Last year, I built myself a nice cushion in February – Black History Month – by declaring that I would only read books by African or African-American authors.  I had a wonderful month of reading and it helped put me over the top at the end of the year.  This year, I wasn’t able to do that, thanks to library deadlines resulting from some overeager hold-placing.  (Oops.)  But I seem to be doing okay anyway!

My total was also helped last year by listening to the All the Books! podcast.  Liberty and Rebecca are great about recommending diverse books and I checked out quite a few books by people of color on their recommendation.  I’ve since stopped listening to the podcast, mainly because my podcatcher is full already, and I want to have some time for audiobooks, so I’ve trimmed my subscriptions down to just my very favorites.  But if I get to fall and my diverse books percentage isn’t good, I may add them back into my rotation.

Favorite diverse books of the year (so far): The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas; Code Talker, by Chester Nez; March: Book 3, by Representative John Lewis; and In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, by Diane Guerrero.

Goal #2: Project 24

Did I mention I was trying to do Project 24 this year?  (I think I did – but to be perfectly honest, I can’t be bothered to go back and check my old posts.)  Anyway, for the uninitiated, Project 24 is the brainchild of Simon from Stuck in a Book (who also happens to host my favorite podcast, Tea or Books?).  The idea is to buy only twenty-four books in a calendar year – so, a pace working out to two per month.  This may sound like a lot of books still, but I assure you, for the ardent bibliophile, it is not.

Two books per month is the pace I try to hold to every year, but as you know, I have quite a few exceptions.  This year, however, I am not using my exceptions – I am strictly and diligently holding to twenty-four books for the year, and feeling quite disciplined and pleased with myself.

Of course, the truth of the matter is, this project is backfiring on me just a little.  Restricting myself from buying books when I want them, unless it’s a new calendar month, is allowing me to make excuses for buying fancy Folio Society hardcovers when I do purchase a book.  It’s entirely possible that Project 24 may not end up saving me money.  But I’ll have to wait for the end of the year to make that judgment.

So, what have I bought?

  • The Red House Mystery, by A.A. Milne (Folio Society)
  • The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge (Folio Society)
  • Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery (Folio Society)
  • Anne of Avonlea, by L.M. Montgomery (Folio Society)
  • Envelope Poems, by Emily Dickinson (The Gorgeous Nothings)
  • Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society)
  • Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society)
  • North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society)
  • Anderby Wold, by Winifred Holtby (Virago)
  • The Land of Green Ginger, by Winifred Holtby (Virago)

So, as you can see – ten books by May, right on track.  And all but three of them are Folio Society products.  (If I ever get loose in the Folio Society bookshop – look out, world.  It’s a good thing the shop is in London.)

For the rest of the year – I have my eye on completing the Elizabeth Gaskell set (three down, two – Sylvia’s Lovers and Ruth – to go), and on the Folio Once and Future King.  All three are no longer available from the publisher, so I’ve been stalking AbeBooks.  I’d also love to add some of the Furrowed Middlebrow books to my shelves, the gorgeous Mary McCarthy and Sarah Orne Jewett compilations from Library of America, some Persephone Classics, and some more Trollope.  So I suppose I’ll have some decisions to make…

Have you set any bookish goals for 2017?  How are they going?

Well, it’s Monday again.  Last week was a really hard and stressful week for a couple of reasons (all work-related) and even though we had a nice weekend, I still feel like I need more time.  Isn’t that always the way?  My parents were in town for a long weekend; they got here on Thursday, attended “grandparents’ day” at Peanut’s school on Friday, and then hung out with us until Sunday.  We had a really nice time with them and the kids loved having their grandparents around – as always.  On Saturday, my mom joined me and the kids at a charity 5K event hosted by my office, and then while the kids were napping, my parents went for a walk around the neighborhood and I hit the garden center.  Saturday was my dad’s birthday, so we took the grandparents out for dinner at Virtue Feed & Grain, a cool restaurant down by the river.  On Sunday morning, we went out to breakfast and stopped by the playground to hang out for a few minutes before the grandparents had to head back to New York.  We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around while Nugget napped and Peanut threw epic tantrums (that phase ends eventually, right moms?) and then walked down to the waterfront in our new wagon (courtesy of Steve’s mom).  It was nice and relaxing, although I wish we could have worked a hike in on Saturday.


Reading.  Not too much to report to you this week, sadly.  Because of a crazy work week (what else is new?) and some big stress on that front, I didn’t get much reading done.  I finished re-reading Anne of Green Gables on Tuesday and the rest of my reading time this week has been dedicated to How to Be a Tudor.  I’m reading against a library deadline and it’s become clear that I’m not going to make it.

Watching.  More watching than reading – unusual.  Steve and I are still making our way through The Great British Baking Show at a pace of about an episode a night.  Those are dominating our evenings.  We’re well into the second season now, and it’s totally addicting.  We took a break while the grandparents were here and introduced them to Moana (they loved it) and Rock the Park (same).  Then back to TGBBS on Sunday evening after they went home – but I need to alternate between TV evenings and reading evenings, I think.

Listening.  I’m back in my podcatcher this week, but not actually making progress on my queue.  Instead, I’ve been hopping around in the archives of The Mom Hour, listening to old episodes on topics like “getting organized for summer” and “organizing, storing and creating with your photos.”  I need to actually listen to some of my current episodes before my podcast subscriptions stop uploading, but all in good time.

Moving.  The week itself was a bit of a bust, thanks to horrible stress and no time.  (Of course, that’s exactly when I should make time for a workout, since exercise always clears my head and helps me to feel better.  But knowing what you should do and finding a way to actually do it are two different things.)  But I made up for it with a pretty active weekend – Saturday’s 5K, plus spending a chunk of the afternoon gardening and power-cleaning my front porch, and then an evening walk; and on Sunday, a walk to the waterfront (and more importantly, back home – up a huge hill) dragging a wagon with a combined 60 pounds of child sitting in it the entire way.  Now that was a workout.

Blogging.  Two updates coming to you this week – an update on how I’m doing with two reading challenges on Wednesday, and a garden update on Friday.  Stay tuned!

Loving.  I mentioned it above, but I have to give another shout-out down here to The Mom Hour.  I don’t know how I didn’t know about this podcast sooner!  The episode about surviving the end of the school year had me nodding along so hard I thought my head would fall off.  (Yes, Sarah, all these end-of-year special events and demands really are designed to make the most with-it parent feel like a flake!  That was sympathy I needed after sending Peanut to grandparents’ day in her school uniform, which was apparently wrong.  Whoops.)  I love that Megan and Sarah, the hosts of The Mom Hour, are working moms – so many of the parenting podcasts that I listen to (whether regularly or occasionally) are hosted by stay-at-home-moms, which is great for them (goodness knows I loved my time as a SAHM) but just a different experience.  It’s been so nice to listen in to two moms who are coming from an experience that is more like my own (even if “full-time working mom” means a different thing in biglaw than it does elsewhere).  Megan and Sarah are both totally real and their podcast is a mixture of wisdom, hilarity, great ideas and advice from moms who have been there.

Asking.  What are you reading/watching/loving this week?

When I think back on the fondest memories I have of my childhood, the vast majority of them took place outdoors.  I could almost convince myself that I lived outdoors as a kid.  Like any active, sporty family, we had our favorite fresh-air pursuits.  While we did our share of hiking, I wouldn’t say that we spent an inordinate amount of time on the trails.  Summer and warm fall days found us, instead, on the water – sailing, canoeing and kayaking, mostly, with occasional motorboat jaunts, and my dad was never far from another spin on his windsurfer.  In the winter, we skied.  Downhill, mainly, but also cross-country just to mix it up.  Hiking was lower on the list, although I think we all enjoyed it.

Now that we’re grown-ups (well…) my brother Dan and I have both become avid hikers – even more than we were.  He’s trekking the Colorado wilderness with his wife, while I’m traversing heritage Virginia rail trails with my family, but we’re both out there, and I am sure that the legacy my parents gave us – the love of nature and the outdoors, the satisfaction of pushing boundaries, and the thrill of adventuring in the wide world – has a lot to do with that.

Just as my brother has his adventure buddy – my dear sister-in-law Danielle – I have mine in Steve.  Some of our earliest dates involved exploring the footpaths and waterfalls around the Cornell campus.  On our third date, we drove out to Buttermilk Falls State Park, where we hiked to the namesake falls and I claimed an enormous pink boulder for France.  It was a fun date, and also an important one, because I don’t know what I would have done if it had turned out that he didn’t like to go outside and play.  As our relationship developed, so did our hiking haunts.  I showed him around my beloved North Campus – taught him to play shoe golf (best game ever) at the Cornell plantations, introduced him to the best bridge-jumping spot (he didn’t jump) and slid with him down miniature waterfalls just upstream.  Of course, you know how the story ends.  We got married, took our hiking farther afield (to England and Scotland!) and eventually, found ourselves with two little trail tots.

I hiked during both pregnancies.  With Peanut, at least until ish got real at the end, I was on the trails most weekends (and inevitably fell asleep in the car on the way home).  I pushed even harder while pregnant with Nugget – sometimes unwittingly.  The picture above?  Snapped by a summit steward atop Cascade Mountain, our first Adirondack high peak, two days into my second pregnancy (and totally oblivious to the stowaway).

^Another family-of-four picture, this one snapped at Letchworth State Park – photo credit to my dear friend Zan.  Nine weeks pregnant and feeling sorry that Nugget had such a boring view while the rest of us enjoyed gorges and waterfalls.

When I think about the childhood I want to give my kids, I think about a childhood like mine – one lived outdoors as much as (maybe more than) in.  I think about fostering a deep respect for the planet, a commitment to protect and preserve our wild spaces and the creatures who share the earth with us.  I think about their sense of wonder, their marveling at the miracle of nature.

And the way I am fostering that appreciation is to give them the gift of a childhood on the trails and on the water.

In a very real sense, Peanut and Nugget are growing up in the woods.  They’ve been living on hiking trails since they were both tiny babies – starting in the Bjorn (Peanut) and the Ergo (Nugget) and eventually graduating to a Deuter KidComfort III and an Osprey Poco Plus, respectively.  Peanut spent her babyhood at Great Falls and Rock Creek Park; Nugget spent his at Knox Farm.  I want both of them to grow up with those same memories – of playing and exploring with their parents – that I did.

I’ll be the first to admit that my wanting to raise my kids outdoors is at least partially selfish.  I love the outdoors, and I dearly miss some of the active pursuits I used to enjoy before the kids came along.  I have been an avid kayaker since I was fifteen, and have had few opportunities to get out and paddle in recent years.  (The four hours I spent cruising around Lake George with my friend Seth last summer just served as a reminder of how much I miss paddling.)  And every winter I mourn all the skiing I’m not doing.  So, yeah, I hope they love this stuff because I love it and I miss it and I cherish the hope of one day paddling Blackwater or Smith Mountain Lake, sailing the Chesapeake, exploring the Blue Ridge, and sliding down the West Virginia ski slopes with them.  And more, and bigger – I want them to know my home mountain range as well as I do.  I want them by my side when I finally explore the national parks of the West.  I want to put my arm around Peanut as we watch the sun rise from a Hawaiian volcano, to high-five Nugget after a day of paddling kayaks and spotting marine life in the Pacific Northwest, to see the wonder on both of their faces during an African safari.  If I have it my way – and Steve has it his way – they’ll grow up as true adventure kids.

They’re little now, and we’re keeping our expectations down.  A short, flat trail sounds about right for our current stage of life.  Bonus points for spotting birdies.  (Relax, Nugget, Great Blue Herons don’t eat little boys.)  Next summer, we might be down to just Nugget in a backpack, while Peanut runs alongside us with her own little pack.  Before I know it, they’ll be paddling and sailing and skiing with us.

I’m doing my best to enjoy each moment as it comes.  To cherish the memories we make now, and not to get too hung up on the stuff that we used to do, that’s beyond our capabilities at the moment.  I’m taking grown-up adventures as they come, and not sweating it if the biggest adventure on a weekend hike is a diaper changed trailside.  Because I know that it’s just a few tomorrows until they can keep up with me and be true adventure buddies – if I haven’t ruined the whole experience by placing too many expectations on them too soon.  And I also know that the memories they are making on these trails – even now, at four and two – are setting them up for a lifetime of adventure in the great big world, and I hope that someday they look back on our family hikes as a cherished gift, and a gift that they’ll pass on to their own children.

We’ve been having our customary weird spring weather – stretches of hot and sunny, broken up by other stretches of grey and gloomy.  Most of May has been chilly and rainy, so I was very glad to see sunshine and blue skies on Sunday morning – a perfect day for the hike that was my Mother’s Day wish!  We briefly considered Sky Meadows, but decided it was too much of a haul – I was glad, as it turned out, because I had to squeeze a work call into Sunday morning and we didn’t end up getting out the door until after ten as a result.  Sticking close to home worked much better.

Steve and I had hiked Mason Neck State Park back in 2010 or 2011 – well before kids appeared on the scene.  I remember liking the park, but for whatever reason it didn’t get on our regular hiking rotation.  They’ve done a lot of trail work since our last hike there, and it’s not as far as I remembered (about a 35 minute drive – not bad at all) so we will definitely be back!

First stop was a little offshoot trail near the water.  My small Pisces is always clamoring to get as close to the water as possible (there’s a line where the sky meets the sea and it calls meeeeeeee) so we checked out the spur, mainly for him.

He was pleased.  I think he’d have liked to swim, though.  Another time, little fish.  Another time.

Back off the spur trail, we headed for the main event – the Bayview Trail.  On our way, we passed these cool bird feeders.  There were a few folks out birding with their long-lens cameras.  I made a note to bring my big camera next time we hit this park – I guess it’s a good spot!  We saw an osprey feeding within five minutes of starting our hike – auspicious, indeed!

Gush alert!  I love the Chesapeake area, and I am so grateful that my kids get to grow up in such a beautiful place.  Virginia has everything!  Beaches, mountains, lakes, cities…

Headed for the trailhead, I made another mental note – looks like you can rent kayaks and take them out on the water here!  Very good to know.  I made a comment about Peanut being old enough to sit in a child’s seat and go out paddling with Mommy, and she proceeded to break my heart into a million pieces by saying she DOES NOT WANT to kayak.  Sigh.

The Bayview Trailhead is just over this boardwalk!  I love wetlands, and Mason Neck has a huge network of boardwalks – such fun.  They also had something else…

Turtles!  We saw this family sunning themselves on a log, which totally made Nugget’s day.  He loved spotting them (but he also thought that some of the logs were alligators).

And then we were onto the Bayview Trail loop, enjoying a constant rotation of beautiful sights – the Potomac to one side of us, gorgeous flowering bushes to the other, and woods all around.

Stopped for a drink of water.  Sure, little buddy, I’m happy to let you use my head as a table.  #motherhood

Periodically, there were little offshoot trails leading down to sandy beach areas.  Egged on by our little water-lover, we checked out every. single. one.

After a little bit of a walk through the woods, we found ourselves entering the big wetlands area – serenaded by the songs of bullfrogs as we went along.

I looked for frogs on the lilypads – sadly, they were all hiding.  We had fun checking out the wetlands area, which was absolutely bursting with life.  Nugget said he saw more turtles.  I didn’t see any, but the little guy is insanely sharp-eyed, so we tend not to doubt his word.  Although he did also claim to see several more alligators, so…

^One of the new boardwalks.  The park had really expanded and revamped its trail network since the last time we were there, and it was a pleasure to hike.  They clearly paid a ton of attention to the hiking experience, and with great effect.  It’s easy to see why Virginia state parks are considered some of the best in the country!

More kayaks!  I wished that I could’ve gotten out on the water.  Maybe next time!  If I’m really lucky, I’ll even be able to convince Peanut to join me.  I think almost-five is old enough to take a short paddle, if only she didn’t act like the very idea was repulsive to her.  (Four going on fifteen…)

As we headed for the car, there was one last treat in store – a few brightly colored birds at the bird feeders!  I crept as close as I could get to the feeder, intent on capturing a picture of the brightest red cardinal I’ve ever seen.  Unfortunately, Nugget chose that moment to shout “BIRDIE!” at the top of his lungs, and scared the cardinal away.  But the goldfinch was made of sterner stuff.

What a fun morning hiking Mason Neck with my little family!  I sure am glad to be an outdoor mom.

Have you done any fun hikes recently?

Happy Monday after Mother’s Day!  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend celebrating the moms in their life, and being celebrated too, if you are a mom.  My little family made me feel special all weekend.  Saturday was a bit gloomy – we’ve been having lots of grey and misty, and even some rainy, weather here lately and Saturday was no exception.  I’d planned to run some errands on Saturday morning – nothing too exciting – but plans changed on Friday when I discovered that my friend Lauren was in town from Buffalo with her family.  Lauren was a friend from Stroller Strides (my favorite exercise class ever) and it had been way too long since I’d seen her.  She’s had a baby since we moved away, and I hadn’t even met the new little one.  So I fired off a text and we decided to meet up at the Natural History Museum on Saturday morning.  We had a fun morning hanging out with Lauren, her husband and their two kiddos and checking out the exhibits.  Peanut, predictably, loved the gems the most, and Nugget was into the ocean life exhibit.  I didn’t see much of the museum – between keeping an eye on wandering kids and catching up with my friend, my attention was occupied.  But it was a great morning!  Sunday dawned clear, sunny, and H-O-T.  Finally!  The kids gifted me with a couple of books and an art print of Old Town row houses (sweetest!) and then we set off for my morning request – a Mother’s Day hike, of course.  We hit up Mason Neck State Park, which Steve and I hiked once six years ago.  They’ve done a lot of work on the trails and boardwalks since the last time we were there, and it was beautiful.  I think we’ll definitely be adding it to the regular hiking rotation.  (Recap coming on Wednesday!)  I spent naptime on Sunday reading, and after Nugget finished playing in his crib and not sleeping, we took a walk to the library (returned books only! no checkouts!) and the playground, FaceTimed Nana, and stopped in the fudge shop for a small treat.  I ended Mother’s Day in the best way I know – curled up in Nugget’s rocking chair, with a cuddly baby passed out on my shoulder.  Thanks, guys, for giving me such a great weekend!


Reading.  It was a busy week at work, and a bit crazy overall, but pretty productive on the reading front.  I finished The Hate U Give last Monday and can absolutely see where all the raves are coming from.  However, I needed something lighter after that, so I picked up Mother Daughter Book Camp, the seventh and final installment in the Mother Daughter Book Club series (which I have liked more and more with each book, so I’m extremely sorry to see it end!).  The last installment was as cute and fun as expected.  Next I read Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, after seeing it recommended by a few book bloggers.  It was fine, but didn’t blow me away.  Finally, last night I picked up the Folio Society edition of Anne of Green Gables, both because it’s on my spring list to read anyway, and because I really needed it after watching the first episode of “Anne With An E” – read on.

Watching.  So, on Friday, Netflix dropped the first season of Anne With an E, the new – darker, grittier – adaptation of Anne of Green Gables.  I’d heard raves coming from my Canadian friends, who have already seen it, and was cautiously excited.  I was expecting the flashback scenes of Anne’s traumatic past, so was prepared for that.  But what I wasn’t expecting was the liberties that were taken with the plot in general – especially one major change at the end of the first episode, which had me so shocked and disappointed that I threw up my hands and declared I was done.  It’s too bad, because it’s gorgeously shot and acted.  I wouldn’t have minded if it was just “showing the darker side of Anne’s past instead of just insinuating it” but what is the purpose of changing plot points that Montgomery actually wrote?  That bugged me.  (I also didn’t like the sixth Harry Potter movie, for the same reasons.)  Anyway, I think I’m done with Anne With An E, unless my Canadian friends convince me to give it another go.  After that, Steve and I both needed a palate cleanser, so it was back to The Great British Baking Show we went.  We finished the first series that is available on U.S. television (although it was clear there were previous series) last night.  What a fun show!  We both get more into it with each episode.  It’s magic.

Listening.  Not too much to report here.  I did more listening last week than I have been doing recently, and made my way through a few queued episodes of The Book Riot Podcast, then back to The Great Courses: Classics of British Literature.  I’ve just wrapped up the second lecture on Shakespeare.  It’s a lot of fun, and so interesting.

Moving.  Same as usual around here.  Hikes, chasing Nugget, and wishing I had more time for my running shoes.  Sunday was a pretty active day, with a hike in the morning and then a walk to the playground.  (I don’t just get to the playground and then sit down on a bench, you see.  I run up and down stairs, lift Nugget on and off the swings and teeter-totter, catch him as he comes down the slide (and he also insists that I “do way up high!” – a.k.a. toss him in the air – when he comes off the slide) and chase him away from the landscaping around the edges of the playground.  It’s actually quite a workout.

Blogging.  All trails this week!  I have a recap of our Mother’s Day hike (for the 12 Months Hiking Project) coming on Wednesday, and musings about growing up on the trails on Friday.  Check back!

Loving.  I’ve got two things I’m loving this week.  One, of course, is my sweet little family, who made me feel so loved and celebrated on Mother’s Day.  I’m a few years into this journey now, but still grateful every day that I get to be a mom (even if it is exhausting sometimes).  On a lighter note, this week I was also loving a new Twitter account that just started up – @ObamaPlusKids.  The account is dedicated to posting a picture every hour of President Obama interacting with kids of all ages, and the cuteness is almost too much to bear.  Some of my favorites – tummy time in the Oval Office, and the pint-size Pope in a plastic Popemobile trick-or-treating at the White House – have already been posted, and there are so many more that I’ve seen for the first time, every one absolutely adorable.  (So many babies grabbing President Obama’s nose!)  If you’re on Twitter, go follow them ASAP.  It’s a much-needed lift right now.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

Going to pick-your-own farms is one of my favorite family activities – fresh air, the chance to play farmer, and a basket of goodies at the end; what’s not to love?  Over the past few years Steve and I have taken the kids on excursions to pick apples, blueberries, and strawberries at various places and times.  But for some reason, pick-your-own flowers were never on my radar until recently.  That changed when I read Novadventuring‘s guide to all things summer in northern Virginia, and the list of pick-your-own flower farms caught my attention as a perfect outing for a certain flower-obsessed little girl.

A little follow-up research clued me in to Burnside Farms and their annual “Holland in Haymarket” event – millions of tulip bulbs planted together in a riot of color.  How could we miss out on that?

Can we start picking now, Mom?

The boys joined us for a few minutes, but then wandered off to do man things like slide down the super slide and jump in the bounce house.

Peanut, meanwhile, was all business.  She actually struggled a bit with picking the tulips because you are supposed to pick them a certain way – close to the ground – which was hard for her to remember.  But I think she still had a good time.


This was definitely a popular destination.  The farm is open for walk-up tulip picking during the week, but since we went on a weekend – Easter Sunday, actually – I had to purchase tickets in advance.  One of these years, maybe, I’ll take a day off work and bring the kids out mid-week when we can have the place all to ourselves.  But this worked for now!

What a fabulous event – a perfect day to pick beautiful flowers with my little tulip.  We’ll definitely be back for the Summer of Sunflowers at Burnside, and we’ll be checking out the lavender fields at other area farms this spring.  Now that I have realized that pick-your-own flower farms are a thing that exists (and how did that never occur to me?) I can’t get enough!



After we’d filled our basket, we headed to the processing and checkout area and discovered one more surprise waiting for us there —


They were the sweetest, darlingest, preciousest, cutest balls of fluff.  Joey-and-Chandler jokes were made.

Goodbye for now, Burnside Farms!  Thanks for the sunshine and the beautiful bouquet.  We’ll see you in July for the sunflowers!