Cooking Class!


Last week my dear, sweet friend Jamie treated me to a cooking class just when I needed a break the most (day 6 of Andrew being out of town and a very busy circus week). It was so refreshing to do something with her where we could talk, laugh, and discuss motherhood candidly. I enjoyed it so much, we vowed to do it again and maybe make it a tradition in our friendship.

This cooking class was focused on Indian food, a cuisine we both love, but needed a few tips to take it to the next level. The chef had so many tricks up his sleeve, including a tip on how to peel ginger root with a spoon (genius!) and the difference between tempering and toasting spices, and the strangely difficult task of leaving the onions the hell alone when caramelizing them. Also, I was reminded of the importance of sharp knives… they provided us with Wüsthof knives and they made all the difference in prep work.

We rolled out our own naan and made cashew cookies and a lamb dish that was amazing. The rest of the class worked on other dishes and at the end we all shared. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and felt so refreshed after spending time with my friend.


Thank you, Jamie, for this special night! I am so lucky to have a friend like you, dear!



Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline

When my sweet, funny friend Jamie recommended this book, I knew I had to read it immediately. I picked it up at our local bookstore (Subterranean Books, which offers a frequent buyer program that rocks, by the way) and finished it within the week. I remember Jamie telling me how sad she was when she finished the book, and I felt the same way. I did not want this book to end! The story intertwines the lives of two orphans of very different circumstances and generations, bouncing back every few chapters to the other’s story. I found the book to be incredibly heart-wrenching, inspiring, and captivating. It was hard to put down.

Here are some excerpts from first page that gave me chills:

I believe in ghosts. They’re the ones who haunt us, the ones who have left us behind. Many times in my life I have felt them around me, observing, witnessing, when no one in the living world knew or cared what happened… Sometimes these spirits have been more real to me than people, more real than God. They fill silence with their weight, dense and warm, like bread dough rising under cloth…

I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is — a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on…

No substitute for the living, perhaps, but I wasn’t given a choice. I could take solace in their presence or I could fall down in a heap, lamenting what I’d lost. The ghosts whispered to me, telling me to go on. 

What beautiful words on loss.

Plus, there’s a lot of history here — I learned that the Orphan Train Movement was a supervised welfare program that operated between 1854 and 1929, transporting nearly 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children from crowded cities on the East coast to foster homes in the rural midwest. Such an interesting piece of history about which I knew nothing. I highly recommend this one!

Circus Night 2016

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The pictures don’t do justice to the fun we had at circus night last week — and though I was heading up the event, I could not have pulled any of it off without all the help I received from parent volunteers and teachers who stepped up to get a whole lot set up two hours before the event. I tried to take photos before the big crowds came to respect peoples’ privacy, but as a result it looks like a ghost town, ha ha! This was our first Circus Night, so we went all out… and it’s a good thing, because over 300 people showed up with their families for food, snow cones (to raise money for MAP), games, and a wonderful circus performance from Circus Harmony. It was a blast, and we were so sorry Andrew had to miss it this year (he was out of town for the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, then straight to Alabama to teach for a few days at NASA so was gone for a week — it’s going to be a heavy travel month for him, poor guy!). 2016-05-03 06.30.022016-05-03 06.30.27

There was a hula-hoop station, decorated with flaming hoops hanging from the trees in the background… 2016-05-03 06.31.25

Two ball toss stations (the orange buckets were taped together and had different point values on the inside (10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100)… 2016-05-03 06.33.03

Sparkly circus capes for the little ones…2016-05-03 06.34.292016-05-03 06.35.12

A “Test Your Balance” station where kids walked our slackline all night long… 2016-05-03 06.37.352016-05-03 06.37.382016-05-03 06.39.032016-05-03 07.23.41

Two balloon sculptors, two face painters…2016-05-03 06.46.082016-05-03 06.48.13

A couple of these adorable face boards made by the upper elementary…
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Oh, yeah, all this stuff going on and Emil goes straight for the mud pit! 2016-05-03 07.24.082016-05-03 08.23.302016-05-03 08.23.48-12016-05-03 08.27.15

There was also a plate-spinning station and a juggling station! While everyone finished eating dinner, we watched an incredible show by Elliana, Copper, and Melvin of partner acrobatics, juggling, diablo, hula hooping, and a final act with rings. It was such an energetic, wonderful performance! 2016-05-03 08.33.302016-05-03 08.34.482016-05-03 08.39.34-12016-05-03 08.40.312016-05-03 08.41.01-12016-05-03 08.41.01-22016-05-03 08.41.02-12016-05-03 08.42.092016-05-03 08.42.10-12016-05-03 08.42.10-22016-05-03 08.42.19-12016-05-03 08.42.28-12016-05-03 08.42.28-2

Doesn’t Melvin look like he’s flying in this one?!

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We had such a blast and feel so happy to be connected to this wonderful community. I’m already dreaming up ideas for next year’s Circus Night!

P.s. — A lot of people asked how I made the circus sign, so I thought I’d share here. I got a very large, very thick piece of cardboard and painted it white, then painted the word circus once that had dried. I then attached party dots (small round led lights that flash and have a sticker on the flat back side) to the front to make it look like a marquis sign. We turned on the lights once it got dark out, and it looked so cool! We plan to reuse this sign, as the lights should last 24 hours or so and we only had it turned on for 2. I drilled holes in the sides, attached string, then we hung it on the tree. Simple!

Weekend Shenanigans


What a wonderful weekend. We had lovely spring weather sprinkled with thunderstorms — we sat on our front porch on Saturday afternoon as a family: Milo swinging gently with his nose in a book (where it is about 80% of the time these days), Oliver drinking tea, and Emil quietly, intently sweeping the dust off the steps while Andrew and I sat watching the rain and wind blow through. Just hours earlier we had harvested a good amount of baby lettuces and radishes from our garden for that night’s salad. I also threw a few more radish seeds in the empty holes those left, and in the empty spaces where our garlic refused to come up (as usual)… it seems that we have some serious vegetable eaters in our house (finally!) and I’m anticipating very little waste this summer. Plus, our neighbors all but commissioned us to be the neighborhood supply for fresh veggies (and strawberries, apples, and peaches) for all, ha! No pressure!DSC_0108DSC_0070




I was reminded of why we do this. Why we go to all the trouble of weeding and composting and tilling, of tending to our small plot of garden. We do it because it brings us so much joy to step out into the warm soil and pick a few things to enjoy every day. That all these wonderful greens came from tiny seeds just 3 weeks ago will never cease to blow my mind. It all happens so fast, from tiny seeds to bountiful greens all from the energy of the sun, rain, and soil. That is truly amazing, friends!




It was also so nice having Andrew in town. He was gone for a week (and will be again this week) and though we manage just fine and have plenty of extra helping hands from our friends and neighbors, it’s exhausting and lonely to parent on my own. I find myself so busy just meeting the needs of everyone — the cooking, preparing breakfasts and lunches and dinners, driving to and from school and circus classes, gardening, keeping the house clean and the laundry done, the dishes done and the kitchen clean, plus all the grocery shopping and errands and spending time comforting and wiping away tears, navigating disagreements and drama, you know… all of the daily things that we do without a thought because they need to be done — and then at the end of the day, I really missed my guy.


I missed our joking banter and chatting about the day, the sharing of all those household things that run so much more smoothly when there are two of us pitching in. He has a lot more travel coming up this month, but at the end of it all, we have a fantastic vacation planned, so thinking of that is encouraging while I’m in the thick of it. Plus, a week here or there is nothing to complain about when so many parents do this every day, whether it’s from divorce or death of a spouse, or being single to begin with, or the long deployments our military families endure.


My heart is so full, and I feel so lucky for all that I have, especially the people in my life who make every day so much fuller.