as you may remember, we've been hosting play school for the month of april. is it almost over yet? oh gosh. leave it to me to pick the month that has five tuesdays.

for our first week, we had a circus theme. for our second week, we cancelled due to illness (oh the poops). for our third week we had a rocket theme. huck was thrilled right out of his skin for this one. it was a huge hit with all the kids, we had a really great time. 

a little peek at what went down two (two?) tuesdays ago: 

⩓⩓⩓ the evening before i made eight rocket pbjs, two disastrously ugly rockets out of toilet paper rolls (i gave up on that idea pretty quickly), and one last minute space landing photo booth. i mean, it was actually a wall. i feel like all the time we're being really loose with this "photo booth" term. 
⩓⩓⩓ we read roaring rockets and learned how space rockets work (this is huck's favorite bed time book, we found it HERE), and then i had the recruits complete a little basic training to make sure they were all fit for space travel. you'll be pleased to know every recruit passed, so for craft time we made our very own, ultra official astronaut badges and personalized flags for planting on the moon. 
⩓⩓⩓ a rocket shaped pbj means 100% more sandwich will be eaten than usual. caleb brought his real life space shuttle for all the kids to inspect while they ate. thanks for bringing it for us, elise! 
⩓⩓⩓ after lunch we held free play and had us a little photo booth time. here we have miss elsa on the left (i'm hoping one day huck and elsa will get married, shh), and on the right, space captain huck, claiming the moon on behalf of god, country, and his mother.
⩓⩓⩓ free play is what we really hold play school for. these children are practically teenagers.
⩓⩓⩓ a loaf and a half of rocket pbjs means i've been eating rocket-shaped toad-in-a-holes for lunch ever since. 


i'm so excited to announce that our #gomighty charity project was a huge success, and that go mighty has completed the donation of $500 to sanctuary for families, the leading nonprofit in new york state dedicated exclusively to serving domestic violence victims, sex trafficking victims, and their children. thank you so much for your help!

when the girls at go mighty and i cooked up this idea for an online fundraiser, we had no idea what a wonderful response we'd get. it completely blew us away and made me feel all sorts of crazy emotions. we hit our target by the end of the first day and went on to more than double it by the end of the week! immediately that first evening we started to scramble for another backer so that we could make a donation worthy of all the women participating. it was a frustrating experience. these are sort of tricky, these public fundraisers. someone has to come up with the money, and the kinds of corporations that are able to make those kinds of donations want a lot of time to make decisions, so we weren't able to find anybody who could pump up the volume in such short time. i felt awful we couldn't do more. it important to me that this not be an if/then type of deal, too (you know, if you do something, then something will happen). i wanted it to be a group effort, where everyone involved could make a difference. every compliment and everyone participating had to matter. and this is tricky too because i don't want this to seem like a tacky announcement, but after a lot of discussion brandon and i decided that each participant should count. so we dug in ourselves and made sure that every compliment did. 

so to every one of you that pitched in with a tweet or an instagram or a blog post, thank you. it helped. thank you for making a very real difference in the lives of abuse victims here in new york.

new york state domestic abuse victims were first brought to my attention last christmas, when our relief society did a volunteer project for mentally ill abuse victims at a federally funded hospital in the bronx. unlike the women at sanctuary for families, these were women with little to no hope of ever recovering. most would never get be cleared to leave the hospital. because it is a limited-funding hospital and these women had come with literally nothing, most of the women there still had nothing while in treatment. many had no shoes, most didn't have a change of clothing, and there was very little available in the way of personal hygiene. we held a clothing and toiletries drive that month, and a woman who worked with the group as part of her psychiatry phD program made the deliveries for us. she shared a few of their stories with us that evening and i realized then how very real this is, how what is really little can actually make an enormous difference. i'm terribly honored and grateful for you for championing a cause i feel so passionately about. thank you for making this possible. 




today was pretty dang good.



things that are good right now, right this very minute:

▲▲▲ there was a day last week where we spent the e n t i r e  d a y outside. we met friends in the park, we met other friends in the park, we met more friends in the park, i broke in a new pair of shoes (they broke me in let's be honest), and that sun just kept on shining as if it had nothing better to do but lure my freckles out of hiding and cook the tops of our heads to a nice medium rare. it was so good. the sun made my arms itch and i love that feeling!

▲▲▲ my dad amazoned us a dvd of tom sawyer. we watched it last night and oh boy. it is about the worst movie i have ever seen in my whole life but i love it. i think only because i know my dad loves it. sometimes i think about my dad and all the silly ways i take after him and it's just all good. i carry your nose with pride, dad. i carry it with pride.

▲▲▲ lastly. we had this hysterical episode last night regarding brandon's student loan debt. (all the time i want to type "our" student loan debt, but really . . .) it was actually kind of wonderful and now i am going to tell you about it. 

so yes. brandon was checking in on his student loan account when he saw, to his great and astonished horror, that someone had scheduled a payment for the full amount of his student loans. like, the fu-uu-uuuull amount. all of it. the full amount is something like unto the price of a house. a big-ish house. sooo.

so first he sat up really straight and stared at his laptop like it was growing ears. his eyes started shifting about nervously. you could see the panic level rising . . . rising . . . rising . . . yup, there it is. ding ding ding!

then his hands went straight to his hair.

"ohhhhh myyyyyyyyyyyy . . . . . . ." he breathed. and then silence.

and then he became a total statue at his computer. for, like, we're talking a full two minutes here. no moving. real intense eyeballs.

"what happened?" i finally asked. generally in these situations i know it's never as bad as it looks, because brandon is the biggest over-reactor on planet earth. the rule goes, the more freaked out he is, the less likely it's actually any big deal. i felt pretty confident about things, cause he was losing it.

he told me about the scheduled payment and then whispered, "can i borrow your phone?" because by the way, this is the guy who earlier that day left his phone in the bathroom at work and didn't notice it was gone until after he'd left the office for the night. soooo, it was that kind of day for him already.

so the thing is, occasionally this happens. a loan is transferred from one bank to another, and in the process of the one institution paying it off completely and then getting their records straight it shows up looking funny in the account for a few hours. brandon knows this. i know this. we both knew this. brandon hadn't accidentally selected "pay this sucker off, to hell with it," but seeing it happen is different from knowing it happens.

the point is, there will never be anything funnier or more wonderful than the sight of poor brandon holbrook standing nervously over the trash can where my cell phone was charging, with a finger in one ear and the phone to the other, saying "help! help! help! help!" repeatedly at the student loan automated phone menu person who clearly wasn't understanding a word he was saying. and just knowing it was fine, and that we weren't about to be a hundred million dollars broke the next day, and then watching him hang up and say, very casually like i hadn't been there to see the whole thing go down already, "it's okay, i'm not going to freak out."

it was just so funny. and i just love him so much.

▲▲▲ THIS article about sperm trees, and THIS one about puke trees. we have both on our street and let me tell you, YES. on both counts. 

▲▲▲ bee tee dubs, writing this much is exhausting.



this is huck. huck is my dreamboat of a toddler. i love him more than i love marshmallows and back tickles, and let me tell you. that is some kind of love.

so, these are just a couple of janky photos from friday afternoon's trader joe's trip, but they seemed to have sparked a landfall of emotions and i hope you will forgive the wordy post that follows. 

the elevator at trader joe's was broken--again--and they were all out of shopping carts, so huck was the big man and got to haul the grocery basket around for his mama. oh boy he was so proud of himself. it about made my chest burst to watch his proud little body lugging that enormously heavy basket around. 

there comes this point in motherhood where you are suddenly "yours" again. do you know what i mean? i've spent a lot of time thinking about this because it is probably the strangest and neatest thing my body has ever done, but for those months where you're pregnant and then newly not pregnant and then nursing (or not nursing, too), you are living your every moment with tunnel vision, where all you see and all you think about are your baby. your body exists for your baby, in the most primal way. you think about your baby first thing when you wake up, the muscles in your arms become toned in a very baby-specific way, your boobs don't let you forget there's a baby to be fed at any time ever . . . and then one day they outgrow you and you're just you again. it's triumphant for a lot of women but i suspect there's a small sliver of us out there who positively grieve when that day comes. 

all along when huck was itty bitty i loved my new mom body. i would even go so far as to say that i did NOT want my old body back. under any circumstances. my hormones had completely erased my migraines and any occasional pimple i used to get, i had a physical purpose like i'd never had before, nearly 50% of my brain cells were tied up in trying to keep a baby alive, so it was hard to over-analyze or obsess over any stupid thing . . . and i had a really great rack! that was especially fun. ideally i wanted to do it again right as soon as huck's babyhood was reaching it's climax and then keep doing it over, and over, and over again. for as many babies as heaven would send us and as quickly as my body could take them. this motherhood thing just really works on me. and fatherhood has enhanced brandon in such gorgeous ways. so we were all systems go, the holbrook team. i just wanted to be a baby making machine. still do, but, you know, the best laid plans and blah blah blah.

so here we are. huck is fully out of the baby phase. he's carrying large grocery baskets around trader joe's for crying out loud. i can trust him to walk just behind me, minding his p's and q's. and once again, i am just me. full of brain space for plenty of worrying, migraines and blemishes are back from time to time, my arms have gone soft in that very sad, baby-free way, and as we all know, i'm not nursing anymore, cue the sad boobs. (by the way, i checked last night and i am still lactating, which i guess is comforting in case there's a zombie apocalypse and we run out of food sources or something?)

i'm still a mom, of course, and i still love it. i just love it differently. i mother differently. it's good in all the good ways, just not in that one specific kind of way, and so . . . i miss it. 

for a good long while this made me sad. profoundly sad. then there was the S-A-D, too (i know seasonal affective disorder is true and i love my mom and dad, amen), not to mention the lovely dark side of blogging that most bloggers never want to talk about--and who can blame them? (hey guess what! no matter how hard i try to "fix" what people don't seem to like about me, some people still won't like me. revelation of all revelations! hello my name is natalie and i am a reformed people-pleaser.) i'm ashamed to say it, i guess, but i've let it all get me down recently. since december, i've let the circumstances get me down and i haven't been me the way i want me to be me. 

brandon is going through a stressful time. i'm not going to write anything further about that because it's not my story to tell, though i know brandon wouldn't mind my sharing this little bit. brandon is stressed. the other day as we sat on the couch with our legs all wrapped up together while he let it all out, vented all his frustrations into the air, i realized that what's missing is just his groove. he just needs to find his place in it. 

and then i realized that that's what i've been missing, too. oh duh, natalie.

when we were in idaho and i worked at that awful soul sucking place and brandon was a student and we were so terribly poor and i couldn't get pregnant and my insurance wouldn't let me find out why, that was a dark, dark time for me. i was so deeply unhappy. i had no control of anything in my life, in the most basic and obvious ways. and i remember realizing one day that my circumstances weren't going to change any time soon, and i wasn't going to be able to wish any of it away, and this was it. this was it and i had to find my place in it. i needed to make my groove. one day, while driving home from work under a july evening sun, i realized with a sense of urgency that i had to make my happiness my number one priority, that very moment, or else i'd never be happy. if i couldn't be happy now, what business did i have being happy ever? if i couldn't be happy then i didn't deserve happiness ever. that night i sat down and wrote every good thing about my weekend into my long-neglected blog. i poured everything i had into making those good things sing. i did it every night, some i published and some i didn't, and after just a few nights it was like the sun had dawned inside me, brand new and ready to roll. i was still at my horrible office, we were still hilariously poor, my body was still stubbornly broken, but i had finally found my place in it. i had created a place, a groove inside of the pain where i could actually thrive. 

in that way, my time in idaho sort of became this mythic, impossibly huge time in my life. even while i was living it, i was aware that it was taking on a significance far bigger than "a place where we lived." my own private idaho, brandon calls it. i think of idaho as the goliath that i tamed, and as a birthplace of the parts of me i am the most proud of.

idaho has been on my mind so much lately. especially after these long months of feeling frustrated and literally sick to my stomach over things beyond my control. i am so grateful to have finally remembered, while sitting on the couch with my poor stressed out husband, that what really matters in life is not beyond my control at all. because i am in control of making my groove. i can find my place here in this place. as a mother to a perfect, lovely toddler, as an accidental business woman, as the owner of a yet-again temporarily-infertile body. it's an ongoing process, you're never done reminding yourself to be happy. 

i'm not sure when another little baby will come and i'll get to be supermom with the happy hormones. crap those new mom hormones make being happy easy on me. (maybe next time those hormones won't make me so happy, these things are possible, too.) i do hope it's soon but i'm okay if it's not. i feel sometimes like the timing isn't right, and i'm at peace with that too. the time will come, but first it's the time for THIS. whatever this is. in a lot of ways, this little mirror back to my idaho life has been wonderful. and oddly comforting. sometimes the Lord sends you trials to prepare you for your blessings. i believe in that. one for one. the trial of idaho prepared me for the very best blessing this life has ever given me, and that would be my huck. my huck has been the ocean and the sky of blessings.

i'm finding my way to the top of it again. so to that i say, groove found. bring it on. 



on saturday we took a very long, very meandering family walk through hell's kitchen. 

hope it was a happy weekend for you and yours. now let's kick this monday in the bumholio! 
the urban dictionary link for bumholio is hilarious, in case you were wondering.

for those who've asked, my sweater is madewell  HERE 
my oxfords are madewell too and they are trying to kill me but i WILL break them in HERE



well here is the bad news: huck and his obsessive love affair with brown rice have finally come to an end.

"noooo, no brown rice!" 

i am heartbroken. so sad, such a tragedy. 

but here's the good news: huck has moved on to apples. which, sure! he spits the skin out as he goes and it's sort of hysterical to follow his little trails of apple skins all over the house. 

so i snapped these photos of huck waiting on a ham & gruyere at vive la crepe this afternoon . . . one thing i can say for my parenting skills is i'm somehow raising quite a patient, well-mannered little dude, i'm pretty proud of him. and good thing, too, somehow it never takes less than 15 minutes to get a crepe, even when the place is completely empty. it's some kind of mystery of the universe.

▲▲▲ barely related: start your engines, it's saltwater season!
▲▲▲ it's here! it's here!
▲▲▲ good job, young padawan. 

i tell you what, huck. i would not mind it one bit if you decided to go on a ham + cheese crepe jag next.