the way i see it, november is the year's golden afternoon. it's the final hours of sunlight shining through technicolor leaves, projecting the world through an amber-colored lens. it's not as dramatic or moody as october, which excitedly blazes and smoulders, but it doesn't quite have the dusky magic of december either. it is warm colors that make up for colder temperatures; it is the last of the leaves silently falling on the ground; it is gathering and taking stock; it is gratitude.

the other night, after an evening of songs and games, bathtime and bed, andy and i laid stretched out on the couch exahusted, staring at the tv, but not really watching. it was an ordinary night, like any other day, and i couldn't help but think, man i feel lucky! i love this little life we have. the ups, the downs, and the small moments of happiness found in between. there's another week (to the day!) until we celebrate all that, but since there's a slim chance of me staying ahead of holiday shopping, i might as well get a leg up on thanksgiving at least.   
lately i've been grateful for no less than FIVE parks within a one mile radius of home (weee!). for an extra hour of sleep and an uncle/aunt-to-be who made that happen. for 4pm closes and leaving work while the sun is still out. for fluke 70-degree weather and bare legs. for cousins that are more like brothers and sisters. for old toys that get new life. for the isty-bitsy spider performed by an 18-month old. for the word "turtle". for two arms wrapped around my knees. for falling into youtube spirals that lead to this and for a husband - who dispite those late night reruns - is up at 6:30 so i can get a couple of miles in (and for an espresso machine that also helps to make that possible).

life is full of miracles and mysteries + all kinds of other challenges, but sometimes you can't appreciate good without the bad and for that - all of it - i am grateful.

mountain towns


when i think of mountain towns, i picture a quiet urban center nestled in the rugged scene of a sprawling panorama. craggy mountains with jutting peaks serve as the original skyline to small cities of the west. but their beauty isn’t just natural. hidden in remote locations, many mountain towns have been able to maintain their authentic architectural integrity and history. from ghost signs to neon americana, mountain towns are as mysterious as they are romantic. i wonder what it must've been like as a passenger on the old northern pacific railway. dozens of mountain towns dotted the route from st. paul to seattle, each of them with their own bright stip to allure new guests. the conductor would announce the next stop and weary travelers would peak out the windows to see the distant orange phosphorescence of the next stop. would the curiosity be enough to attract me to stop over or maybe even change my destination? they may not have the bustling pace of larger urban cities, but they buzz with the same electric energy. and when sky blue deepens to indigo and darkness has swallowed the soaring mountains that in the light of day seemed unconquerable, the sun's glow is replaced by the light of vintage neon signs.

p.s. you should visit oftreesandhues and taravictoria for more beautiful perspectives on urban sights

adventures in toddlerhood


right around when august turned one, i was told by other parents that we were in for the greatest year ahead - that magical age between babyhood and the "terrible twos". he'll become more independent, he'll be able to communicate better, his personality will start to show. you get to keep the cuddliness of a baby without the tantrums of a toddler, the best of both worlds. 

caring for a baby suited me surprisingly well though. it was extremely exhausting, but formulaic. yes, there are thousands of equations and it took some [at times, frustrating] trial and error to figure out the one that worked for us, but the variables remained constant: feed, sleep, change. i work well with quantifiable processes like that. so nurturing, as it turns out, came naturally to me. parenting is a whole other deal. parenting, as it turns out, is less instinctive. 

toddlers are much more abstract than babies, they have a completely different measuring system. instead of mapping out feedings and naps or counting ounces and diapers, i'm relying on being dogpiled at the door when i come home, or a fit of bubbling laughter, or a breathless request ayane! (translation: again) for another game of chase, or a chubby finger that correctly points at a new word he's learned. it's WONDERFUL. and so much more ambiguous than the baby stage. at its best, it's deeply gratifying, at its worst, it's completely demoralizing, and if i'm being honest, i feel a little challenged by toddlerhood.

the past week has been an adventure in toddlerhood. i am putting full blame on daylight savings (and maybe last night's full moon), but there were more than a couple of times this week that had me throwing my head back to ask the havens "who is this child?" it's been a week of feelings and we've been going through ALL of them in a matter of seconds. i am just not that quick on the uptake. i've never been good on my toes, so mostly i just feel like i've been falling flat on my face a lot. 

august is becoming a person and while a lot of what kind of person he becomes rests on my shoulders, i've also realized that a lot of it is already built in him. the other day i watched as he played independently, his own thoughts and imagination just pouring out of him. he was yammering on about something or another in a goofy voice that made me wonder where did you learn that? i didn't teach you that and i know you didn't get it from your father and it was then that it occurred to me that it wasn't the influence of anyone, it was 100% pure august. 

he is curious and smart, affectionate and sweet, defiant and bold, perceptive and clever, attentive and silly. for that - ALL of that - i am proud. it's stressful and terrifying, this parenting thing. now is when the real work starts and lately, i've been questioning whether i'm doing it right, but then there are those moments - those long signature toddler hugs, complete with pats on the back (100% pure august right there) - when i get my reassurance.  

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