life lately

I was ready for fall, I really was, but suddenly we’re back to 90 degree days and basically 100% humidity. It has made me more or less the crankiest person alive, which I’m aware, is totally ungrateful because soon it will be winter and I will miss this so badly it will make my teeth ache. But, there you have it.

Anyways, heatwave or not, life chugs on.

Tuesday morning entertainment: garbage collection. Quinn is so tuned in, she goes leaping out of bed and tearing through the house yelling “DUMP TRUCK!!!” They sit perched on our front steps for a ridiculously long time, awaiting the five seconds when the truck flips our garbage can. Awesome.

When they aren’t driving each other crazy, they are the sweetest buddies. Junip waits until Quinn picks out her clothes and then chooses whatever she has that matches. Quinn follows her into the bathroom and hands her yards of toilet paper. Junip reads her the books she has memorized. It’s all great until the empathy tantrums.

We don’t yet have enough leaves for proper leaping, but they make a satisfying seat for popsicle consumption.

The most popular adult in the house: he who has prepared himself a snack.

And, our routine virtually every afternoon now: drag the coffee table out of the living room, block it off with couch cushions, turn on the Moana soundtrack, and enjoy the show.

Junip is pretty much the coolest performer I know.

And Quinn, she loves that ridiculous tutu so much. She’s been insisting on wearing it constantly. I kind of love it. The girl has no shortage of opinions.


apple picking

We got smart this year and hit Door Creek Orchard early, while the picking was still good. Eighty pounds of apples later, plus another ten or so in our bellies (at one point Junip was triple fisting), and I think we’re all set for the season. Drew made potato latkes with fresh applesauce for dinner, and we’ll sauce a bunch more later this week. I guess this means it’s fall? I’m not ready.

That’s my little Quince, throwing the rare family photo off the rails. It’s a good thing you’re cute, you little stinker.

thirty somethings

Drew and I both celebrated birthdays in the last couple weeks. They are relaxed affairs these days – it really just doesn’t feel that momentous anymore, but at the same time, it’s fun to have a reason to get a babysitter or to get some friends together.

My birthday actually ended up being a week long event, kicked off with a date night at American Players Theater out in Spring Green, then camping with friends on my actual birthday, and a girls night out with all my ladies a few days later. It was our first camping trip since before kids, and it went so much better than I feared, ha. We had an amazing group site sort of in the middle of no where (you actually had to push aside a gate with a giant ‘do not enter’ sign and then drive your car down a gravel road and then the bike path to get there! I was repeated calling the ranger thinking ‘this cannot be right’ and she was laughing at me like a child she was patting on the head: “Oh, that sign! You know, signs, they keep some people out, others just drive right past!”) But once we were all there it was incredible – woods and prairie and the lake twenty feet away.

For Drew’s (also best buddy Chad’s), I surprised him with a pontoon boat rental on lake Monona. We got a bunch of their ultimate frisbee buddies together, some Jimmy John’s, some beer, and an ice cream cake. Cruised around the lake, basking in a glowy sunset and a full moon on the other side. The girls had a blast; they are more comfortable at grown up parties than most adults I know. And then they dropped the girls and I off and had an hour or two of bro time (just enough to give Drew a hangover, ha). Beth was driving back from Minocqua and was able to join us – we couldn’t have timed it better.

For the record, not pregnant, it just looks that way after double helpings of ice cream cake. The sign of a birthday well celebrated.

life lately

Ok, so ‘lately’ is a bit of a stretch. I’ve actually been pretty good about picking up my camera, but finding the time to process anything I shoot is just… well, not happening. Juniper resumes school tomorrow (what?!) and I’m hopeful that buys me some time.

Other things I gave up on in August: clothes (on the children), hair (on me), vacuuming (in general).

Things I embraced this August: mud (everywhere), sand (everywhere), popsicles (also everywhere). I would not advise walking barefoot in my house, but other than that, it’s been pretty wonderful.

Junip has been getting real serious about her tea parties. The guest list is anything but exclusive, and no one leaves hungry or thirsty. Or dry.

Gotta love Quinn’s pouring technique.

We made a trip to Sheboygan to pick Junip up from a few days visiting Grandma and Grandpa. The weather was just perfect: enough breeze to make the bubbles worth chasing, enough sun to remedy the brain freeze.

My sweet mother had the children decent for a good twelve hours before my lazy parenting resulted in more nudity. But you know, it’s significantly easier to wash paint off tummies than tee shirts.

The lake was too cold for swimming but just right for building and digging. We must have sat there for three hours, watching the kite surfers and working on our constructions.

Back in Madison, Drew and I have been trying to take the kids out for more ‘adventures’. Biking out to places like the arboretum is becoming less of a big thing.

Can you believe that sunbeam? Super Juniper.

Yes, summer, we love you. But we are all plum tuckered. Group nap?


a second 2nd birthday party

I’m struggling to remember, but with my family’s track record, it’s a distinct possibility that Junip had multiple two-year-old birthday celebrations as well, which would technically make this our second second second birthday party. Ha.

We just had some tacos and dinosaur cupcakes with my family and a few neighbors, nothing super elaborate, but at the grocery store that morning the piñatas were too awesome to pass up, and that actually made it feel like a real party.

Quinn’s reaction to the candle can best be summarized as “What the hell is wrong with you people? Why would you put actual fire in front of a two year old’s face?”

She ate that thing with the slowest, smallest little pinches. Probably due to the big cut on her upper lip she sustained earlier that day (another shitty mom moment). But she was thrilled that they were dinosaurs (and they matched her new dino dress!)

And then the piñata – goodness, what a near disaster! First of all, Quinn had been hugging and loving on that thing all day, so for a while there it was looking like we might have to skip the breaking part altogether. But she got on board when she realized there were dum dums and raisins inside. We tried her little broom but it just wasn’t cutting it, and lacking an actual baseball bat, we resorted to a full sized broom handle, which almost took out a couple kids when Emmett got ahold of it! We moved the hitting operation to the lawn and somehow made it through with no injuries, but it definitely required adult intervention to actually break.

Drew’s hand on the edge of that photo kind of says it all.

Oh, my sweet little dinker. Happy birthday. We love you (as you would put it) so much much.



up north with the cousins

Sometimes going through photos I feel this need to be brutal, to cull, to curate dismissively and decisively. And maybe it’s just because it’s almost midnight and I’m blurry with sleepiness, but I’m looking at these shots from our most recent trip up north and I can’t help thinking that the beauty is in the mass. Call it the nature of photographing toddlers, but I just don’t think you can get a sense of the energy and the joy and the chaos without at least 42 photos. Which is how many I’m about to subject you to.

Quinn finally embraced the cool water. She just kept announcing in this amazed and delighted voice, “I simming! I simming!”

Back on land, they ran as a wild little pack for three days straight.

There are certain seasons of life when posed shots just don’t fly. But we didn’t dwell. We had wine.

Reid and Caroline are celebrating five years of marriage, so we put aside some time to get a few nice shots.

And we had a little early celebration for Quinn’s second birthday. The little stinker rewarded us with a week of 3am renditions of “Happy Birthday”. Seriously, middle of the night, all is quiet, and we’re awakened by “Happy birthday dear Qinny! Happy birthday to you! Now bo the handle!”

It didn’t take them long to figure out that Quinn’s new fire truck squirts water.

Beth and Hutch were celebrating an anniversary, and actually Drew and I, too. A lot of celebrations for a quick little trip.

These children of mine have so much love in their worlds. Makes me so grateful.


Home again and settling back into our routines. Michigan was fantastic – we had beautiful weather, the condo we rented was about 200ft from Lake Michigan, and Chad and Mallory’s wedding was so beautiful and fun – but it always feels good to be home.

The trip started out with sort of a bang, though. Our car died in the queue to get on the ferry (I was already on board with the girls, and much to Drew’s frustration, none of the employees ever radioed to get us off the boat) so we sailed away while he ended up stuck in Milwaukee, dealing with getting our car fixed, renting a van, and driving around the lake through rush hour traffic and a car accident. Back on the boat, we hit huge swells of water as soon as we left the harbor, Quinn puked all over me, and I puked quietly into a chip bag basically all the way to Muskegon. It’s funny now…

Thank God for Jill. Drew’s sister lives 45 minutes from Muskegon, so despite the fact that we were arriving on her due date, she and Hattie were there to pick us up rescue us when we finally hit land. We had a wonderfully chill evening grilling out, running to the park, and eating popsicles in the tub. Drew missed all that, poor thing, finally getting to town around 9pm.

The next day we finished the drive up to Sleeping Bear Dunes, unpacked and hit the beach. We had all these lofty plans of things we’d do throughout the week (cherry picking, the dune climb, checking out other small lakes) but with Lake Michigan so clear and close and the weather so perfect for chilling on the beach, that’s pretty much all we wanted to do everyday. So that’s all we did.

We were sharing a house with Chad, Mallory, and Liam, so Junip had a built in playmate and Drew and I actually got to spend a lot of time with our friends, despite the craziness of wedding week.

The ceremony was in a sweet little park on Glen Lake, with the reception following in the town hall. I wish I’d been able to get a few shots of the ceremony, but Quinn was in no mood for it, and I had to discretely sneak off toward the playground to keep her from screaming through the vows. In any case, I was lucky to get one family shot in while we were all gussied up!

After dinner, my kids were the first ones on the dance floor. And after the first swell of dancers, when the floor cleared out a bit, this is pretty much all they wanted to do:

By the next morning, we were all wiped. We swung through Holland again, hoping to meet the newest VanSoelen, but alas, he was still in utero. (He’s here now, though! Welcome to the world, little Ellis!) And now, back, settled, enjoying our groove. It was a good little adventure.