Armed with nothing but a self timer app and no sense of personal shame I bring unto you: AW CAPSULE! The musical! 

I hate to take this all that seriously, but this capsule business has been a time of discovery! Personal growth! Perfectionist tendencies! Side note: My mom is a perfectionist. I am not a perfectionist. One time in college my mom said, "I wish I were more like you, and could have been happy with just average grades . . . " and I laughed and totally took it as a compliment, because in college I was happy with "just average" grades. B+ let's party! Except now that I'm in my thirties it turns out . . . I am a perfectionist. Some of the time. That's what I'm learning. Have I been one all along and I just never noticed it? (My husband would say yes.) Do you have to want to be perfect in all the things in order to be considered a perfectionist? Or is it possible to be a happily imperfect perfectionist most of the time? Thanks to this capsule I've become aware of how frequently I hone in + ponder on the dumbest details. Like how these jeans don't fit in the knees the way I want them to, and whether or not I intend to do anything about it. 

(PS - So, fully half of these shots came out entirely out of focus. I'm using them anyway. Highest standards in the business! ;)

Here is what has been working: I've been wearing these loafers far more often than I used to, which makes me very happy. I knew I was a penny loafer girl, I just wasn't in the habit of being a penny loafer girl. And now, I am! Not to be dumb or whatever but I feel this has added a lot to my personal sense of self, as well as to my level of life satisfaction in general. ;)

I've also discovered THE invisible sock of our lifetime, and if for nothing else, that alone has been worth the whole kitchen. 

Here is what has not been working: Of my 40 items I'm really only utilizing about 25. All of the shoes, most of the denim, just a handful of tops and sweaters. Even with just a few out-of-the-ordinary items to choose from, I still have too many out-of-the-ordinary items to choose from.  Every morning I approach my wardrobe hoping to try to make those out-of-the-ordinary items happen. But, since it feels too fussy or whatever, I inevitably sigh and say Pass the striped shirt, please.  I've been wondering if "mini capsules" might be an even more fun/helpful/pointless challenge than just one "capsule." Divided out somewhere, maybe Ordinary/Special/Fancy? A special "Fancy" wardrobe is a smart idea, anyway: A little black dress, a killer pair of heels . . . things that can be tucked away in a hard to reach spot because you'll always remember they're there when you need them. How many "Fancy" items would you need in that case? Under 5 I'd imagine. But then there's the  idea of "Special" that's harder for me to account for. A blouse that's a little too much for a Tuesday, for example, but perfect for a date night or a business meeting. Are most people more functional in their brains than I am and can work those pieces in with the rest of their wardrobes on a consistent basis? Or am I the only one that feels intimidated by a slightly dressier cut?  

Here is what I am learning: I really enjoy switching up my shoes and my jackets. The rest I like to be more or less consistently exactly the same. Having too many options for the rest of it is super stressful you guys ;). I guess I like to look ordinary. I'm working on this, to see if more variety could turn out to be more fun or not. I feel like when it comes to getting dressed, habit plays into it more than anything. More than personal style, more than fashion trends, more than fancy or not fancy, more than any of it. I'm in the habit of reaching for certain things that I know will look + feel good on me. Because I'm experienced with them. Even though everything I own looks + feels good on me, otherwise I wouldn't have kept it when I drastically edited down my wardrobe over the summer. But because I'm not in the habit of wearing the more special items, it feels complicated to wear the special items. It feels out-of-the-ordinary only because it IS out of the ordinary. And until I make it ordinary, then it isn't going to be ordinary, and so on. 

Wow. Have I just blown your mind or are you thinking I could use a straight jacket in my Capsule next time around? ;)

Anyway, the end. :)



Hey, Happy Halloweeners! You guys ready? We are not ready. We are having a last minute ninja crisis, wavering from Pink Power to Teenage Mutant and back again and there are precisely zero ninja bits that work for both. It's all very existential. It reminds me of my nightly "I have to cut my bangs right noww---no I don't! Don't do it!" train of thought. (It is almost November.)

In case you're living somewhere non-leafy, here. I got this for you.

☝︎ Park Slope farmer's market! Which we only just discovered this last weekend. I might have jumped up and down in place a bit.

☝︎ Living near Green Wood Cemetery has some deeeeeeeefinite Halloweeny perks. 

☝︎ Huck + I are kitchen MACHINES this fall. Breads, cookies, pretzels, smoothies, that poor kitchen is realizing the extent of its neglect, feeling the love for the first time since August. (Don't get used to it, sister!) Lately the itch has set in for a big pot of soup simmering on the stove. I tacked on a few extras to our usual Fresh Direct order the other day and now have four little yams smiling up at me every time I go in for a glass of water. They're terribly friendly. "Soon," I tell them. Soon. I'm gonna roast those suckers so hard.

☝︎"Fuhst it's my birfday, and deeeeen it's Halloween!" Huck likes to remind me. Halloween is THE preferred topic around our house these days. I've always loved Halloween. Jack o lanterns and caramel apples and bonfires and hayrides and spooky stories. While running errands aaaaaall over town last week, Huck happened to spot a pair of glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth in a shop window we walked past. It was LOVE. It was all he could talk about. I told him we could go back and find it at the end of the afternoon, and then we both forgot. That night when Huck realized, he was crushed. Sobbing On The Bed crushed. (Dude, aren't four-year-olds the most fantastic emotional creatures?) I felt pretty bad about it--how many times do I use the "maybe later" excuse and then never follow through? So the next afternoon while Huck was at school, I hopped on my bike and retraced our steps, searching practically the entire borough for those vampire teeth (where were we at the time??) (no they have to be glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth) before finally finding them. Two hours and 99 cents later, I stuffed one in my mouth and another in my pocket when it was time for pick up. Huck spotted me through all the parents and I waved slyly and gave him a slow little smile, and oh man. The look on his face when he saw my mouth full of fangs, that was IT. 

SIDE NOTE TO YOU, HALLOWEEN: Halloween you have gotten WAY too gory lately you are ON NOTICE. There are whole blocks we straight up avoid thanks to brownstone decorations that terrify Huck. Last night at the CVS Huck stood frozen in the doorway staring at this six-foot shrouded creature wearing graveyard rags with a scythe in one hand and flesh dripping from the other--he literally could not move--and three days ago in a thrift store Huck started sobbing because "scary man pictures" were staring at him. Thrift stores and the CVS! What does the element of terror add to these shopping experiences!? Each time I had Huck shut his eyes tight while I navigated him through the store until we had everything we needed. Will Brooklyn be paying his therapy bills. This is what I would like to know. Come on. Whatever happened to jolly Halloween decorations? Plastic spiders and sheet ghosts and pumpkins and shit? I'm just not thrilled with you, Halloween. SPOOKY. NOT HORRIFYING. Get it together. Preserve the original spirit of Halloween! Let's call Fox News! Huck is still wrapping his head around the idea of zombies. He's fascinated with them in that way that kids are fascinated with things that really frighten them. Of all the Halloween creatures, doesn't it seem like the zombie might be the most disturbing to explain? Frankenstein's monster is easy enough, and werewolves, none of that really seems plausible or likely. But dead people who want to eat my baby's brain? There's just no good way to go about that one. We're working on keeping the innocent spirit of Halloween alive. It's an uphill battle. 

(I've felt this way for a while, but after the nanny stabbings in my hood a few years ago . . .  that pretty much did it.*** Halloween and I have a lot of making up to do. You could start with flowers.)

***By which I mean: the gorification of Halloween had always bothered me vaguely, but it wasn't until that horrible event that I saw with startling clarity just how callous and inappropriate all these blood-and-gore decorations are. These are actual, horrible things that happen and devastate families, not something fun that could be made light of with plastic body parts on lawns and horror slasher movies. It's just completely sick. The event didn't ruin Halloween for me. Halloween ruined Halloween for me. So sorry my wording wasn't clear.***

(It reminds me of the millions of haunted mazes and halloween houses that popped up in Utah during the season when I was at BYU. They were straight up hellish, I've never seen anything so bizarre as Utah at Halloween, and thank you I never need to pay money be chased by a guy with a chainsaw.) AAAAAAAANYWAY.

☝︎ Huck's birthday! We had a little party over the weekend and it was a huge success. All his friends from school were there, there was a piñata, more on this later. :)

☝︎ Three days a week I take off my Mom hat for a few hours to focus on my Writer hat. On Huck's days at school I've been packing up my laptop and taking my show on the road, trying out new wifi cafés and coffee shops, taking calls and meeting with other creatives and brainstorming fun new projects. It's been silly fun. What a weird world that this funny little hobby has turned into such a fun slice of my life. It feels like playing, and ironically, having dedicated time for this has helped me take things far less seriously.

I love that Brooklyn to Downtown is such an easy subway ride. I've been spending as much time down there as I can, it's such a neat vibe. The other day I finally made it to The Butcher's Daughter.

Just me, myself, a book, and avocado toast. Anytime there's avocado toast involved, forget it. I'm in love with avocado toast and I don't care who knows it! 

In between book work and blog work and life work, I've been trying to read more. Mostly this happens between 11PM and 1AM in the bathtub, but sometimes if I'm a good girl and answer all my emails I'll take a book break in the afternoons. I recently ordered a stack of inexpensive paperbacks of all the spookiest classics I could think of -- The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, a book of Edgar Allan Poe, some Dracula + Wuthering Heights. I've been tearing through them at night in the bath or on sunny afternoons when Huck is running around at the playground or when I'm trapped under the East River on a slow-moving R. (I've also been reading Yes, Please, which is pretty much perfect, and Not That Kind of Girl, which we're discussing at book club this month (I'm hosting!) which is less perfect. I really can't WAIT to discuss it with someone. Thoughts! So many thoughts!) My next assignment will be to actually read all the books we "read" in high school, because, you know. I've already got a few under my belt. The Stranger is way better when you're not 16. Lolita--still not my favorite. Oh well. 

Brandon sometimes says, "You're a writer! Consider walking around looking for inspiration your job, and do it on purpose!" So that is what I've been doing! I try to take myself out once a week on an Introvert Wander (I call it), wondering what I should do as my next non-blog writing project (more essays? fiction?), and going into dangerous places, like this place, where I have to talk myself out of antique stuffed bears, because nobody needs an antique stuffed bear. ;)

SoHo is as good a place as any for some real productive daydreaming. :)





Now that Huck is in school, his appetite for learning and ability to focus on a task until completion has blown wide open. And now that he's away from me three days a week, our Tuesdays and Thursdays together have become extra special. So I've been trying to sit down on Sunday afternoons and plan out few special things we can do together on his home days to support what he's learning in preschool and make the days he doesn't get to see his friends just as fun and special and full of new experiences. It's almost like I'm planning lessons, hah! One of the things he's working on in school that Huck is loving is cooking. He's really grasping onto the idea of recipes and following steps, understanding where our food comes from, and finding satisfaction in eating something he's made himself. (It's also helped him be willing to try more food and mealtimes have gotten so much easier because of it. THANK YOU, PRESCHOOL!) It's been really fun for us to approach our days together in a more structured way, discover these new things together, and to have Huck teach me everything he's learned in school, like a few weeks ago, when he was able to demonstrate how he was taught to knead dough.

Huck asked me one night at bedtime last week if we could make soft pretzels together the next day. I asked him what we'd need to get the next day at the store, and as Huck dictated our shopping list, he literally fell asleep mid-ingredients. "Flour, salt, *yaaawwwwn* yeast . . . " What a doll. I will never feel as humbled as I feel when I'm able to watch my baby slip blissfully into the unconsciousness of sleep. Cute, cute boy.

Anyway it turns out soft pretzels are stupidly simple, and hard to screw up.

Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels

1 1/8 teaspoon dry active yeast (one packet)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 tablespoons salt
1 cup bread flour (i used whole wheat bread flour)
3 cups regular flour
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda

1. Sprinkle yeast into 1 1/2 cups warm water and stir until dissolved
2. Add brown sugar and salt, and stir until dissolved
3. Add all flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky
4. Let rise for 30-45 minutes
5. Once dough has risen, add baking soda to 2 cups warm water in a wide, shallow dish, for dipping formed pretzels.
6. Pinch off pieces of dough, roll into ropes, and tie into pretzel shapes (you can get creative with this one!)
7. Dip formed pretzel into baking water mixture then lay on a greased baking sheet. 
8. Let formed pretzels rise another 15-20 minutes
9. Bake in 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or just until tops are golden. (if tops are browning before insides can bake, consider lowering the oven temp and adding a few minutes' baking time)
10. Brush with butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt (or cinnamon + sugar) (or you name it!)



Over the weekend the winds picked up out here in Brooklyn, swirling and blowing and dusting out the last of this year's sunny warm weather. Leaves scattered across streets, breezes nipped at the backs of our ears, the skies were cleared of those last humid summer clouds. Temperatures have been hovering below 60 degrees all afternoon, and just like that, it's here, and we're hauling out the sweaters and dusting off our favorite recipes for curry and chili and other hearty soups and stews, buttermilk biscuits and warm apple cider. The radiators in the building kicked on this morning, hissing and cranking to life. It's about time to swap out the blankets for their heftier counterparts, and I can't wait to pack up the window a/c unit for a long winter hibernation and get that eighth of our window view back. :) It's my favorite time of year, it's your favorite time of year, it's your uncle's favorite time of year . . . the air outside has smelled like a fresh campfire for the last week and a half and it couldn't make me any giddier.

The winter before Huck was born I bid on and won this hysterical boys wool sweater off eBay. It was the first thing I ever bought for him, and it was an enormous 4T, a size designation that at the time had meant absolutely nothing to me, but it had fair isle detailing on the sleeves and yoke, and a very goofy brown moose on the back, and Huck desperately needed it, he just really, really needed it. It was the kind of sweater that a lawn gnome might wear. It only barely started to fit Huck near the end of last winter, but at the start of every fall I haul it out anyway and make him wear it once, so excited to try it on him, also sort of bittersweet to see how much closer it came to fitting him every year as he kept on growing and time kept on marching on.

The team at Woolmark reached out to me over the summer about partnering with them on a campaign to raise awareness of all the benefits of natural wool, and you know, I hadn't really thought about it that much, wool, but I realized I hadn't ever owned anything made of wool before that silly moose sweater and I started to wonder why? I suppose it was because I grew up in Arizona + Brandon grew up in Texas, where all you wore was leather and denim and cotton, and/or nothing, and I suppose wool may have seemed . . . old fashioned to me? British? Difficult to care for, maybe? We were living in Idaho at the time of the vintage wool sweater and it was certainly cold enough out there for some heavy duty wool, like, always all of the time, and I was a voracious knitter, too, though I tended to worked in acrylic since it was cheaper and we were on the broker side of poor college students, but I think it was simply that it wasn't until that vintage sweater arrived in the mail that I felt for myself the tactile quality of soft wool under my fingertips, and realized what a worthwhile investment it would be for our family. From there on out, we've been kind of gung ho about wool. We own a lot of wool. I started to keep an eye out for natural wool coats and blankets in the thrift stores around town, scored a few amazing vintage pieces from Brandon's Poppy (who was a sheep farmer in Idaho!), and have since stockpiled a decent collection of sweaters and socks and scarves and blankets for our winters. We maybe own more wool blankets than is strictly necessary for a family of three, but I suppose in case of a winter power outage we will definitely not be freezing to death, and that is worth something anyway. ;) 

I think because of my experience with that first sweater (and because of Ron's Christmas jumpers, you know what I mean), I've always associated wool with a kind of fierce maternal instinct. It makes me think of warm fireplaces. It's kind of a utilitarian fiber, and so hardly removed from its original source that there's almost a spiritual quality to it for me. (Thank you, my llama friends.)

Merino wool is a term you've probably seen around often. It's defined as the textile fiber obtained from Merino sheep, a specific breed bred in Spain and Turkey that is prized for its very soft wool. Unlike hair or fur, wool is crimped and elastic, and grows in "staples," or clumps. The crimping is what makes wool-spun yarn so very bulky and fantastic, and is what creates that nice trap for air, which is how wool comes by its famous heat-retaining qualities. (-source)

Wool is actually rather simple to care for. Most Merino wools are fully machine washable, hey heyyy. (I always use the delicates cycle on our washing machine with cold cold water, then lay flat to dry. Find more information on how to wash your woolens HERE.) Plus, wool has the added benefit of stretching back out if it's accidentally shrunk, something I have done a time or two. ;) It's a really great fiber for babies and children, as it is soft, warm yet entirely breathable, and it ignites at a higher temperature than cotton and with a lower speed of flame spread. Apparently wool forms a char when burned that is insulating and self-extinguishing? That is nuts. (-source)  Also, all those natural wool fibers in a light wool blanket are what give that great stretch necessary for achieving a real good swaddle. As every new mom knows, your swaddle is king.

As part of our partnership with Woolmark, we were sent a few items made with Woolmark Merino wool for Huck to wear and snuggle into. This Merino wool sweater, from il gufo, was perfect for our day at the pumpkin patch. It is lightweight and soft, thin but warm, stretches to fit over a few under layers but then shrinks back down to fit perfectly on its own. (Huck's hat is also made of 100% wool, sent over c/o She Makes Hats)

We were also sent a beautiful merino wool muslin blanket from Aden + Anais, fully machine washable (all A+A products can even be tumble dried), that Huck has been sleeping with at night. It's thick, yet light and stretchy, and has the texture of silk. I wish I'd had something like this when Huck was a baby! It would make an ideal outer layer swaddle, especially on a brisk autumn afternoon walk.

Thank you to Aden + Anais and to il gufo for their sweet wool gifts!

This post was sponsored by Woolmark. I'm so pleased to be working with such a fantastic group. We hope you'll keep an eye out for products made of 100% wool the next time you're in the market for something beautiful and warm. :)



a photo I found while looking around today that I really, really love.

Just remember: other people look at you and think you have it all together. 

This morning I had a meeting in the flatiron with my editor at Abrams. 

Do you know how silly that sentence was just now? I just read it to myself and even I'm like, oh give me a break.

We were finalizing some photo resolution issues for the book. This has surprisingly been the most time consuming part of this entire process. There I was on one end of a desk with my laptop and about five million portable hard drives (no, there were just three), plus my old phone full of photos that I couldn't figure out how to transfer efficiently, and there was Holly on the other end of the desk on her iMac with all the book things open, with a bag of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies between us (peace offering to the book gods), and together we were over-analyzing photos of my face. Saying dumb things like, "I mean, I feel like I look sort of French in this one? Except for the Empire State Building there in the background, which maybe sort of ruins the point of it."

We made all kinds of crazy progress. And afterward, the book now 99.999% finished (and looking flipping rad, if I'm allowed to say so), my editor took me out to lunch. 

And, so, avocado toast happened.

We air kissed on the way out like you do when you are fabulous, and then I ran over to a coffee shop two blocks north to meet up with the wife of the CEO of one of my very favorite companies, who also happens to be a long time reader, and who is also, I will just say it, really freaking pretty. 

Side note: Do you know how amazing it is that you people reading my blog are all so very awesome? It's true. I love how the people I meet who read this blog are always completely rad, every single time. Surely I must have the coolest readers in all of the Internet. 

So, Tara and I, we met and she is adorable and competent and beautiful and witty and we had such a good time talking. And she had gifts! Did you know gifts are my love language? And then I met everyone at the office. I saw possibly the tiniest chihuahua on the planet. This office is full of a bunch of really handsome men by the way, holy cow, and then, my head brimming with ideas and projects and future exciting things, I dashed across Fifth Avenue to make a size exchange and wouldn't you know it? It had gone on sale! Price adjustment! Size adjustment! Huzzah! 

At this point I stopped in at City Bakery to use their restroom. Because pro tip for when you're in Union Square and happen to be human needing human things: City Bakery has a bathroom. And pretzel croissants.

On my way out I decided to wander through the Union Square Greenmarket. Heaven! I bought myself an apple for the long train ride home. (Side note, it was a dollar sixty. FOR AN APPLE.) The R was there and waiting for me the second I stepped onto the platform, and not only did I get a seat right away, I got a cold seat right away! Cold seats on the subway are better than price adjustments and air kisses. A cute couple was canoodling across the way from me, someone's earbuds were playing Beyoncé. I had an apple and a Diet Coke and a book I was proud of having written and opportunities that excited me and a really cute, now-cheaper, now-fits-my-kid-right shirt in a shopping bag and all was right with the world!

And then I promptly had myself a massive anxiety attack. 

Do you get anxiety attacks? I get anxiety attacks. 

I haven't always been an anxious person . . . hahahahaha writing that just now was really entertaining, no I have always been an anxious person, but I haven't always been an anxious attack kind of person, and I feel like this warrants a distinction. Attacks are a fairly recent development in the Natalie's Neurotic Tendencies treasure chest. I've been having them occasionally for just under two years now, and they seem to morph into different manifestations depending on whether or not it is flu season and just how many cold mini Twix bars I've raided from the fridge that day. 

(Pro tip: keep your mini Twix bars in yo fridge.) 

My first anxiety attack I didn't know was an anxiety attack. I thought it was the stomach flu. It was Christmas Eve. We had just finished Christmas Eve dinner with a few friends from church. Most of these friends were new friends, some of these friends were old friends, and one of these friends was the kind of new friend who is friendly with all of your other friends, except not friendly with you. And I hadn't quite figured out the reason yet, so the night felt tense. The following day, after having Christmas Morning as just-us-three, we'd be flying to Utah. This was to be my first Christmas Eve and Morning in my own home, with my own budding traditions, a tiny victory I had won only after a lot of negotiating and cajoling, and there we were on our way out the door after saying goodbye and Happy Christmas and things and then stopping for one second longer for another small conversation, when I suddenly felt like I was going to be sick.

This was to be the anxiety attack that I would experience, over and over, pretty much every day, for the following 6 months. Over all sorts of things. Anything could set it off. All night long, that first attack, any time I'd try to get up to accomplish anything--make the aebelskivers, stuff the stockings, set out Huck's Christmas gifts, I'd be so overcome by nausea that I'd have to lay back down and only breathe. The only relief I could get was from listening to the clock go Tick. Tick. Tick. And counting my breaths. Tick. Tick. Exhale. Weeeeeeird kind of stomach flu, amiright? 

That was a really sad Christmas and I still feel irritated when I think about it.

You all know the rest of the story. To sum up: 
1. I resolved the major personal issues that were causing me stress, as best I could. (You can never really resolve all the personal issues that cause you stress, can you?)
2. I noticed a pattern and saw a doctor, got diagnosed with PMDD, tried all different kinds of medications and treatments and diets and supplements, lost a lot of weight in the process and then gained most of it back, and thankfully now only have one rough cycle maybe every few months (hooray!) 
3. I got really into Buddhism for a minute there? Let's talk about that later.
4. I made peace with the fact that I was Writing A Book, which would be Read By People, a lot of whom like to Hate Me For Sport, who would soon get to Hate Me Even Harder for all sorts of New And Improved Reasons that I was, more or less, willingly handing over. I tell you I made peace with this!!!!!! (This required mucho therapy.) (Ladies, and you know who you are, what you are doing is sick and wrong. Just FYI.) (1% of the time I still feel really hurt when I think of that whole . . . thing . . . but it's a very slim 1%, and seriously. KUDOS TO ME.)

Here I am now, I am sitting on my couch, it is late October, and I can count on just one hand the number of anxiety attacks I have had since the summer. This is a huge accomplishment for me, especially given the last two years and things. I feel more or less back to normal. Rough menstrual cycles are the exception now, not the norm. But they do still sneak up on me, and today was a reminder that illogical feelings can sneak up on you even in the best of times. When things are going really well, and precisely nothing is wrong, I can still create this sudden dread for myself, like I am going to Screw It All Up, that They Are All Wrong, that I Am Not Enough, and Holy Holy Shit.

Sometimes, my throat still closes up, sometimes my stomach still ties itself in knots. Sometimes I can't swallow. My breathing gets shallow and I feel completely awful about myself, like I'm the worst person alive. Even if I'm not trapped under the East River when this happens it still feels like I'm trapped under the East River when this happens. How rude is that? Usually I check my period tracker and I'm like, "Oh yeah. Hi, Day 20." But this is what I've learned to do, it's a trick that never fails me, and maybe it'll help another sister out in a similar situation sometime:

I remind myself that the only thing I need to do in this life is love

That is it. Love.

(I know, cheeseballs, stick with me here.)

I pick somebody around me. I imagine the love that other people must feel for that person, the love that it took to make that person, the love that that person must feel for others. (Sometimes I picture that person as a newborn? Weird thing but newborns to me are the most powerful anti-anxiety drug ever.) If I can just find that place inside me where I feel Love for something, if I can grasp onto it, I can pull that love out and push it outside of me until that is all that I am. Just love. Love for myself, love for that stranger, love for that subway pole that is probably covered in other people's urine but that some metal worker somewhere installed and put all this effort into . . . 

As long as I feel Love, nothing can hurt me. 

So that's all, I just felt compelled to write that down today, for whatever reason. 

Hang in there. 

Somebody out there loves you. A whole whole lot.



Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I run up to Huck's little school to pick him up, learning and friends still flush on his cheeks. As we walk home he tells me about his day and about all his friends (his favorite right now is a boy named Victor, but Huck says "Fukter," which . . . well that's the whole point of having kids, I think), he teaches me the new songs he's learned and I tell him some of the things I did while he was at school. Each afternoon, as the leaves crunch beneath Huck's shuffling feet as he walks his little boy steps home, he'll eye the swirling leaves on the sidewalk carefully before asking, "Mom, is it still fall?" And I'll say, "Puppy, it is still fall!" He turns this over in his mind, trying to spin it into a positive I guess (now that he's decided winter is his favorite on account of snowmen), and then he'll say, "Is it at least Halloween then??" Without fail. Friend, you don't even know. Fall is rockballs awesome. Get with it!

The changing seasons have been so much fun this year. Having a Holbrook so new to the concept of things like crunching leaves and bustling winds, corn still in its stalk, that certain buttery yellow sunshine, warmed hands around a cup of something hot . . . the joy of brushing cinnamon and sugar off on your pants after eating an apple cider doughnut . . .  caramel apples! Sharing it with a curious preschooler is some really great stuff. We are all loving it. 

ALTHOUGH: kid ate his first caramel apple the other day the way you'd eat a slice of orange, leaving the caramel peel behind, handing it to me, all "here Mom, I'm done," like he was tossing scraps to a dog, and I'm like, Dude. We need to talk about this. 

We've watched a lot of It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and Huck had been jonesing for a pumpkin patch of his own, so we set off this weekend to find ourselves the most sincere pumpkin patch in all the land, with not a sign of hypocrisy! Just sincerity, as far as the eye can see! On the drive up we passed Tarrytown, and to distract Huck from his mild car sickness (whyyyyy?), I told him the story of old knobble-kneed Ichabod Crane and his fearsome headless horseman. I told it with flair, Randy Lovin would be so proud. When I was finished--songs and all--Huck asked me to tell it again, and then again, and then again, and after the third time Brandon threw his hands in the air and said, "No more! I can't take it!" That story got real detailed there by the third round. What color was Katrina's dress again, Huck? What was the Van Tassel primary crop? Anyway, I've long dreamed of the day that old grouch pants Brandon would be outnumbered by a family of Natalie nerds and let me tell you, it is just as magical as I imagined! 

And now is when I throw some pictures at you. From the drive up . . . 

. . . and a few more from our day at the patch.