It is eternally weird being back in Moscow. Especially after such a long time away spent convinced I'd never have to see this place ever again.

Brandon and I had some version of this conversation easily thirty billion times while living in New York:

"Hey! Let's move back to Moscow!"
"Oh my gosh that's the worst idea ever." 

"Wouldn't it be amazing to move back to Idaho? Maybe after we retire?"
"Yes!  . . .  Except that sounds awful, it snows too much there."

"Man! Sometimes I think we really should just move back to Moscow and get it over with already."
"Right? Except, you can't go back to Moscow. I'm not sure Moscow really exists."

Well, crap.

We've had a lot of places on our list of places we want to re-experience now that we are old and here again and things are so familiar yet so bizarre. For instance, this weekend we went to see Brandon's office in the accounting department at WSU, in the same building where he went to get his MBA a million years ago. 

On his bookshelves in his office he'd lined up a few of his old textbooks, along with his various diplomas (all eleven million of them), and a few pieces of nostalgia from vacations + experiences past. A souvenir from the Statue of Liberty, a teacher's voodoo doll from our time in New Orleans, and his old WSU student ID card. Oh gosh, Brandon was so young back then. I glanced from item to item, everything was just fine, until I got to his ID card and I was struck with this almost overwhelming physical response to it. 

Hey! I know that boy! I fell in love with that boy! What happened to that boy?? 

It was the face I spent hours looking at in our ward directory at BYU when we were apart, first getting to know each via other long-distance emails, staying up late on the phone when we both knew we had to wake up early the next morning. And I realized I missed him. It was so weird. I was with him, but I missed him, and I'm still trying to figure what all that was. I struggled not to cry the rest of the day and I'm still not really sure why. 

Right, so, one of the places on our list of places to re-experience was the hike at Elk River Falls. 

The last time we were here I was twenty-five weeks pregnant, and while talking with Brandon about how weird Huckleberry bushes are, I decided I knew what I wanted to name my baby. 

Huckleberries won't grow anywhere but in the wild. Did you know that? You can't really cultivate them in your own garden, they don't flourish that way. You have to find them where they are. Because they can only grow where they want to grow.

That is so my baby for you.

(That is so my Idaho for you.)

Oh, it's weird to be back home. It's weird and wild and sad and wonderful. And hard as hell. But damn, is it good.



We have ourselves a little farmhouse. It is quickly becoming my pride and joy, and setting up shop here at New Camp Holbrook has been the most satisfying and wonderful experience. 

Our little house is actually pretty large, by our standards. She's full of old nooks and crannies and funny narrow hallways and very short door frames. I feel of decidedly average height when I am at home petering around. Though it's a big-ish house, its square footage is entirely populated by the tiniest little spaces that are positively cozy and creaky. She's just the perfect size for our small family of three.

I thought I'd share a little sneak peek of a few of the spaces I've been fluffing. 

I feel in a silly way like this old girl has been waiting for me. She's going to be a great little home for us for the next few years. We're so happy to be here.



Uh, just some photos from our gator trip last month in NOLA. 

That is all.


When it comes to reader emails, the one question I get more frequently than "What should we do while visiting New York?" is "HELP ME I'M MOVING TO NEW YORK I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING!"

I remember this panicked feeling, because I experienced it while 7 months pregnant, and that is not something a person forgets easily.

And so I am about to share with you everything I know about moving to NYC!

Firstly, the most indulgent feeling in the world, and what doubtless saved my sanity from implosion during our move from New York to Idaho, was hiring a reputable moving company to box up our things, transport them cross-country, and then unbox our things once it all got here. I would not have handled well the emotions of the quick turnaround of this move had I needed to make time for boxing up our apartment while I was also busy finding a new place, meeting deadlines + obligations, caring for my four-year-old, hosting visitors, and squeezing every last drop out of our time in New York. 

For this move we hired High Touch Moving, a local moving company based out of Brooklyn, New York. Gilad stopped by, took note of our belongings and the number of boxes we'd need, and then we proceeded to not think about it at all until the day of the move arrived, when the High Touch team showed up right on time 8AM and got the whole thing put together and out the door by just after noon. 

And then I walked slowly and silently through our now-empty home, listening to the creaks and echoes of the neighbors upstairs and running my hands along the bumps in the walls, before turning out the lights one last time and locking the door behind me.

Oh, moving. What a funny experience to inhabit a place so fully and then leave it behind as though it weren't a beloved member of the family.

Well. By way of fond farewell to our time in the city (this time, anyway), everything I know about moving to NYC is hiding right after this jump.



IN NOLA . . .

Get ready for some photos of gumbo!

The tourism board of New Orleans sent me an email earlier this year asking if they could bring us to NOLA to visit their city. This is one of those instances where I read an email and then laugh at it, like, what the hell is my life these days, and then immediately write back and say "OMG YES PLEASE."

It was the perfect break in the middle of moving and it felt so nice to have something to look forward to when I was stressing over packing + planning + ripping up roots. So, a huge triple thank you to the tourism board of NOLA and to the entire city of New Orleans from the Holbrook Trio for giving us such a neat experience.

There is no way I could ever do this city justice, but after the break, a few thoughts + photos from our time in New Orleans.

Oh man! I don't even know where to start! There is so much history + culture packed into that city, it is pure eye candy + brain candy + ear candy. NOT TO MENTION BEIGNETS. It was a dream come true to finally see the city in person. 

(Next time we're taking bikes!)

Of course we weren't able to do everything we wanted to be able to do. I think of all the little corners of the city off the beaten path I could have explored + the little hole in the wall restaurants that could have served me some really intense crawfish + it makes me want to go back immediately + stay for a month. But we were a trio of first timers, and we wanted to see all the big classic sights, while hopefully preserving a little chunk of time for wandering. There is probably no better city in the world for wandering around in than New Orleans. 

Ah shoot I think I easily took 500 pictures in the French Quarter alone. 

I loved how the street names were listed on street corners in the French Quarter three times each--tiles on the sides of the buildings memorializing the names of the street during the Spanish rule, traditional street signs memorializing the names of the street during the French rule, and the actual street names as recognized by the United States Postal Service on tiles on the sidewalk. 

It was sobering to see so much of the devastation from Hurricane Katrina still around, even ten years later. It's such a big job to put a city back together again, we watched it happen from our comfy roost in NYC--that Freedom Tower is only barely up + finished just this year. From the highway around town we were given a super generalized tour of the destruction and subsequent rebuilding efforts, and it was amazing to see the love + dedication we have as a human race to picking ourselves up when things knock us down, and how much work there is left to be done. There is so much culture down there that needs to be preserved. It's a real big job.

HERE! Ok ok. Here in front of Marie Laveau's apartment houses you can see the Louis Armstrong arch at Congo Square. All of my favorites in one shot! The weekend following our week in NOLA was the Satchmo Summerfest and we weren't able to catch it, and I could have been devastated BUT! Brandon reminded me of the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival here in Moscow, and anyway, xylophones.

New Orleans is just flippin charming. The general pace of life, it wasn't even a day and a half in and I was fully prepared to stay there the rest of my life. 

However. Humidity bloat is real. Let's be honest.

Those palm leaves! 

There is a little needlepointing joint right there called The Quarter Stitch that is SO WORTH THE VISIT. I walked in and fireworks burst outta my face. 

Um, hells bells it was hot.


I know this is dorky but us Holbrooks like to walk through every damn souvenir shop in existence when we're traveling somewhere. Buy me some flipping alligator jerky already.


HEY this part I could get used to for sure! All those brass instruments! And those sweet young boys playing them!

Drop a dolla in the bucket

The boy is just becoming interested in music lately. He loves to mime different instruments when we're driving around in the car listening to the radio (CAR DANCE PARTIES), so every time we'd see a musician on the street we'd make a big long stop of it and answer all sorts of questions about all sorts of things. He's pretty cute. What will I do when he discovers sports I will be so useless to him. 


We stayed at the Windsor Court Hotel in a perfectly enormous suite that had two enormous vanities flanking the restroom and two separate entrances to get there. Most mornings Huck would get his preliminary calisthenics in by racing laps around it like a lunatic. We watched a lot of cartoons. Cartoons these days are pretty funny. The Windsor was fantastic. Recommended.

Including fried oysters at Cochon! I am so the bravest ever!

You can stop in cute spots for beignets all over the city. But you really do have to go with Cafe Du Monde, there's just no way around it. They aren't even the same species, the Du Mondes and the non Du Monde beignets.

Ahh there we go.

The best seafood gumbo of my life I had at The Gazebo CafĂ©. It's right between Du Monde and the French Market. Live music, heat so swampy it steamed all the wrinkles out of my clothes.  

Speaking of The French Market! BUY ME ALL OF THOSE HATS, BRANDON. (That's not sweat on that boy -- it's a cup of water dumped on the head. Staying cool the old fashioned way! Haha.)

Second gumbo runner up: Gumbo Shop! Get the bread pudding! 

Christmas card worthy.

We tried to walk home from Mandina's, but not even a few blocks down and an enormous thunderstorm broke out and we got fully drenched in seconds. We lucked out and found just the right bus line to take us home. It was raining so hard that the water pooled down the bus windows like Venetian curtains, and with the air conditioner on full blast the hairs on our arms stood up on end. Huck + I shivered and cuddled together in our wet clothes, and Brandon had a friendly conversation with an old toothless lady who had very strong opinions on where to get the best gumbo, it was kind of a beautiful moment.  


Who-do? Voo-doo! 


Let's get this out of the way right now. Nic Cage bought this tomb for himself. 

Nic, thank you for being ridiculous. I love you. 

The voodoo / priest-y priestess-y history in New Orleans is SO COOL. I've been known to take way too much stock in astrology and crystals and talismans and junk, but I am only a spectator here. I still got a little buzz every time I got to stop + peek through a voodoo shop. Best one: Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo. I really do think those early priestesses were onto something down there. All religion aside, they really owned that city, man. 

Hi, I'm in an episode of The Originals! These photos are from St Louis Cemetery #1. Lafayette Cemetery #1 in the Garden District was my favorite by far. This whole baking in a tombstone like a pizza and then turning into dust thing is creepy and fantastic.


Preservation Hall!!!!!!! This was such a fun night.

The way that boy's face lit up when the band started playing! It was one of those mom moments that I'll always remember. And then he was out cold by the middle of the second song. This child can sleep literally anywhere and through anything. #thankyourstrollernaps

Brandon told me later this was practically a spiritual experience for him, we highly think it can't be missed. It was easily 100 degrees in there with all the people packed in so close.

Also quite spiritual were the gyros next door!!! YUM.


On possibly the hottest and swampiest day of them all, we wandered through City Park. We stopped and played at  Storyland and we rode a couple rides at Carousel Gardens. We tried really hard not to melt.

Um, hells bells it was hot. 


Can I just tell you though. The best part, I think for all of us, was the swamp tour. Holy mother of pearl. We had a pontoon all to ourselves (it's not really called a pontoon), which meant we got to ask the most ridiculous questions of the tour guide, and pet a wild pig (!!!!) and even feed a marshmallow to a gator. (Me and those gators have mucho in common). It was GRAND. 





Now we're talking! Perfect amount of seedy, really great music, real good hot dogs.

Down near the entrance to Frenchman street there's a great thrift store, full of what I assumed might be costume + movie set supplies by the looks of it. I spent an entire hour in there poking about through the dust while the city got a smattering of afternoon rain and I think it's one of my favorite memories of the trip.


You know what, I think it's really more a matter of if your kid is New Orleans-friendly. There were maybe five minutes total of the trip where I thought to myself, "eesh," but pretty much you're going to find that anywhere and the vast majority of the fun things to do in NOLA are fully family-friendly. So if your kid likes live music, is happy with walking around, enjoys playing at playgrounds + visiting hotel pools, seeing zoos + aquariums + eating lots of doughnuts, well. You might have yourself a New Orleans-friendly kid. 

Fireworks our last night from the balcony of our room. In my undies. And compression socks. lol. #secksy

Thank you, NOLA! We had a hell of a time!