Christmas Eve in Switzerland with Dolly Parton

December 24, 2013

A week ago we had no idea we would be here... sipping disappointingly flavorless hot chocolate in Andermatt, Switzerland while listening to Dolly Parton belt out Christmas tunes on a speaker rigged up in a little wooden hut next to an ice skating rink. And yet here we are. 

We spontaneously and successfully hopped on a free military flight to Germany, rented a car, drove south, and have tucked ourselves into this little Swiss Alps town. Hoping to ski, eat lots of fondue, and stay warm. Merry Christmas!

The Party Girls

December 21, 2013

Somehow it always happens. They show up just when I have almost given up on them. Prancing into the party oozing confidence and perkiness.

I love Christmas cacti with their flashy pops of color and their exotically spiky foilage. They are the scantily clad party girls of the season, never as predictable as the poinsettia or as elegant as the amaryllis or as demure as the paper whites. They let loose in their own way and they always make me smile. 

Curating A Home

December 19, 2013

Tiny museums, cabinets of curiosity, collections of memories, delicate souvenirs, layers of life, and threads of stuff sewn together to create a home. I watched this little video after washing the floor, sorting through junk mail, and climbing up the stairs to the disaster area that is our bedroom. I didn't know what it was about, but it created a strange inner shift.

Since returning to work, the Sisyphean tasks of daily life (dishes, laundry, dishes, laundry, toilets, newspapers, dishes, and laundry) have been threatening to flatten us. We just can't seem to catch up, can't seem to form a solid rhythm, and it is dragging me down with the weight of it all. This struggle isn't new for me, but it has certainly been more intense during the past few months. After watching the Sullivans in their home, I am realizing that these feelings of being overwhelmed aren't just about the bulging laundry hampers, this is also about the junk mail.

Moving every three years is a very good thing for us because it forces us (ok, mostly me, since I am the worst pack rat in the family) to purge and solidify which things have meaning and usefulness in our lives. I want our home to have vivid memories and stories attached to the objects that we save and savor. Junk mail, shoes that are uncomfortable, sheets that are itchy, and soap that smells bad need to be removed. 

In this coming year, I want to have our own mini revolution. I want to print more family photos and hang them up/frame them. I want to get rid of junk mail as soon as it enters the house. I want to find a way to preserve the shells, rocks, fossils, and other delicate treasures that we are constantly collecting. I want to rotate our collections and bring things out that we haven't seen in awhile. I want to shift from thinking of myself as the bitter, weary janitor to thinking of myself as a curator.

City Lights Bookstore

December 18, 2013

Have a seat and read a book.

A literary meeting place since 1953.
A literary habitat for humanity.

We happily stumbled upon City Lights Bookstore during an early morning walk in San Francisco (last month). We could have easily spent the whole day there!

For The Birds

December 16, 2013

San Francisco, November 2013

Allison and Preston

December 15, 2013

Snow Day

December 12, 2013

First snow of this year. Two days off from school and work. Sledding was attempted but without too much success. Snowball fights were enjoyed by all.

Hanukkah 2013

December 3, 2013


November 28, 2013

Giving thanks today for menurkeys, my goofy turkeys, and hand-made turkey place settings; Settlers of Catan (last night's Hanukkah gift that has already been played multiple times); David Sedaris (who has been making me laugh out loud with his latest book and app); and the ability to stay in pjs for most of today. Now headed off to get dressed for an evening of candle-lighting and turkey eating with an international mix of new and old friends. 

Wishing you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgivukkah!

San Francisco Maritime National Park

November 21, 2013

We stumbled upon this nautically-themed National Park while meandering along the waterfront in San Francisco. The nice views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline were hard to beat. It's not necessarily a park that we would have gone out of our way to visit, but I am glad we ignored the initial whiny protests from the kids and opted to climb aboard. 

Boy By The Bay

November 16, 2013

A nifty blue telescope, Alcatrez in the distance and my handsome boy in the foreground. There were plenty of interesting things for viewing, but his favorite was the big sea gull who perched next to him and pooped.

Early Morning Walk in China Town

November 15, 2013

We spent last weekend in San Francisco visiting with family/friends and attending a beautiful wedding at The Presidio (Mazel Tov to Jess and Ross!). Another highlight was an early morning walk through Chinatown with Adam. 

Just the two of us surrounded by the sights and sounds of the district awakening for the day...shopkeepers sweeping, delicious doughy aromas wafting from Eastern Bakery, red lanterns, and faded retro signs aging with layers of urban grit. I really loved those signs and hope they can continue to weather the elements of change. 


November 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Camille!

Still Collecting

November 6, 2013

During my first semester of college in the Shenandoah Valley, I was awed by the incredible array of fall colors. I avidly collected the lovely leaf litter and stuffed it into large manilla envelopes which I sent back home to Louisiana. I soon received a similar envelope from my youngest sister (who was two or three at the time). The envelope was filled with green leaves. 

Autumn continues to amaze me.

Our Own Version

November 5, 2013

Night View of the Washington Monument

Halloween 2013

October 31, 2013

 Happy Halloween from The Spanish Princess and The Washington Monument!

In Print

October 27, 2013

I am very honored to have had one of my photos selected for the Harvest edition of Kindred, a beautiful literary magazine. I couldn't resist taking a photo of Camille holding the image of her hands peeling borlotti beans. Kudos and thanks to, Amanda for putting together such a lovely celebration of autumn.


October 18, 2013

The end of the milkweed. Taken a few weeks later than last year's milkweed discoveries. So many gorgeous, delicate details and textures inside those alien looking pods. Woodend Nature Sanctuary, Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Lemony Snicket and a Suspicious Mother

October 17, 2013

Another morning of truancy and books with my boy. 

It turned out to be one of the most creative and dramatic author events I have ever attended (and I have seen a lot of wonderful events recently). I won't give away the details, but I will encourage adults and children to make the time for a Lemony Snicket event. It really is worth it. 

If you are in the D.C. area, you have the chance to experience it for yourself tonight at the M.L.K Library. If you are in another part of the country, see this list of upcoming tour dates. And if you are are unable to attend anything, treat yourself to last year's Fresh Air Interview where you can hear live accordion playing, retro vocabulary, and Terry Gross snorting with laughter multiple times (I don't think I have ever heard anyone else make her snort like that!).

After this morning's event, we quickly hopped in the line for book signing. As Noah approached, I did my usual thing and started snapping away. Daniel Handler glanced my way several times, then turned to Noah and asked him if it was strange to have a woman following him around with a camera. Noah informed him that I was his mother and rolled his eyes as he confirmed that yes, I did indeed take lots of photos of him.

The signature in Noah's book reads: "To Noah who has a suspicious mother".  I love it. 

Noah, Brooke, and Camille

October 13, 2013

 Three cousins on a cloudy day in downtown D.C. slurping down Shake Shack shakes.Lots of laughter, lots of silliness, and lots of sugar!

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