the canal


Auggie and the Lock House Collage
"the beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel."  - theodore roosevelt

there are dozens of stories i could tell about the c&o canal. it is where - as andy would put it - i cut my teeth on the outdoors. as children, we spent many summer nights there, camping with my father and our family dog, kodiak. sometimes we'd load up the canoe, the back end heavy from the weight of a cooler filler with enough hot dogs, dr. peppers, and reese's cups to last us a week. other times, we'd strap our tightly rolled sleeping bags onto the front of our bikes and fit whatever else we could into backpacks. one of our first trips wasn't long after i learned to ride a bike and my father must have had to stop a maddening amount of times for claudin and i, who were both still a bit wobbly on wheels. he'd inevitably pull ahead - no doubt anxious to get to our camp site - when a faint cry would echo in the woods as one of us swerved off the tow path into bush (or as i almost did, right into the potomac river). it's a wonder he ever ventured to take us out again, but he did. year after year. and if we were frustrating trail buddies, he never let on.

even when we grew out of camping trips with papi and other interests (boys!) took over the desire to spend summer nights around a bonfire telling stories and eating our weights worth in reese's, the canal always held a special place in my heart. i'm sure it was those trips with my father - that seemed like great adventures into the wilderness - that gave me an appreciation for the natural world.

introducing children to the outdoors is both unusually simple and surprisingly complicated. take a child outside and most likely you will have bought yourself hours while they explore everything from the blue sky to the ants crawling in and out of their sandy mounds. plan a more "structured" excursion with children and you've added a humbling element to the mix.

we took august over to the canal this weekend with the intention of doing some fishing. andy, who comes from a family of anglers and is one of the most devoted outdoorsman i know, has been excited for this day ever since we found out i was pregnant with a boy. i was proud of my husband though because when august showed more interest in throwing rocks into the canal than he did casting a line into it, andy never let on to any disappointment. it was just like years before, with my dad and his unsteady twins.

as we walked back to the car with august perched on top of andy's shoulders and all of us searching for turtles in the water, i thought about how different my vision was from the morning we actually had. and while i wouldn't really call it a successful day of fishing, ask any one of us, and we'd all say that it was a win.

andy doesn't usually read blogs, but when he does stalking the seam is his go to and for those of you who are interested in taking your little ones outdoors, here are some great tips

happy mother's day


Edited with #Afterlight
Edited with #Afterlight
lying together in bed the other night, i asked andy what was the best day of his life (pretty light and standard pillow talk, no?). he prefaced his answer by explaining that it was probably less conventional than would be expected. our wedding day, for example, did not make his top five, he said. don't worry, i consoled, it's not in mine either, which was not meant as a passive-aggressive retort, but more of a statement of mutual understanding. then he went on to describe one particular day midway through his two-week hike of the john muir trail that was life changing. when the question was turned around and directed to me, i prefaced my answers by admitting how utterly predictable i am because the best day - without question - was the day august was born. it turns out our answers weren't so different though because for me, that day for was also life changing.

the woman i was / the woman i thought i had been before that day, was completely different from the woman i became the moment i first held august. his birth very literally decentered me. up until then and throughout my pregnancy, my biggest concern was what kind of mother i would make. i didn't believe i had the patience or altruism that mothers seemed to posses. i worried that i would have to work extra hard at the role and that it would be forced. turns out, motherhood *is* hard work and some days i *really* have to try at it, but it's the best kind of work too. most surprising of all though is how naturally i've come in to it and how "easy" work can be when you love what you do. being mama to august is something i am grateful for every day. if i had run the fastest marathon, owned the most successful coffeehouse or written the greatest story i would not feel as proud or accomplished as i did the day he was born.

for me, it took childbirth to discover the empathy and grace within me. some women recognize it within them all along and others display it in different capacities because the truth is, motherhood goes beyond traditional roles and can be found in the heart of any woman.

it has been such a privilege hosting so many inspiring mamas this week. we come from different backgrounds, with varying situations and unique challenges, but our womanhood bonds us. it was difficult only asking a handful to take part in this series because there are so many more that have provided me guidance and support in some way or other. i wish we had another month to feature more! thank you to all the lovely ladies who contributed here this week and happy mother's day to all the beautiful women in mothering roles. especially to my own mother and three sisters: daniella, andrea, and claudin, who have all been paradigms of strength and compassion. we love you. 

guest post: thoughts on motherhood, by christine dinsmore


christine is the bright and lovely presence behind the blog the plumed nest. she has three boys - the youngest of which are twins! - and is the owner/designer of two home decor shops: plumed on etsy and plumed shop. considerate and true, her words have always been an inspiration to me. thank you so much for sharing this tender story, christine!

When my oldest son, and “only” child, was 10 years old I found out I was going to have another baby. I never intended to just have one child, but as the years passed, I grappled with whether I’d have another. I wasn’t sure I wanted another “only” child. And definitely didn’t know if I wanted it to have two more! (I had my first at home and immediately swore I’d never give birth again!). 

Soon after seeing the home pregnancy results I headed into the doctors office for my first appointment. They did an ultrasound to make sure all was okay and while I was lying there I saw two black circles inside my uterus(?!) on the screen. I said “what is that? is that…?!” And the doctor exclaimed “it’s two babies! you’re having twins!” There was a definite moment of awkwardness as her excitement overshadowed my own. It was a lot to take in. I got in my car in a mixed state of joy and panic. Two babies?

Like most pregnant moms I suffered from intense feelings surely fueled by hormones during my pregnancies. Unfortunately, mine were usually of the rage-filled and extreme cynicism variety. And with that said I had a really hard time with my feelings about my “multiples” pregnancy. I had uncontrollable thoughts, such as, equating having two as having an “extra.” I spent time crying about people who couldn’t have children and, yet, here I was having two! Also during this time twins were definitely trending. Every magazine cover had a celebrity who was pregnant with twins: Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez. It was amazing, it was fascinating, it was lucky. I spent most of my pregnancy feeling like a big fat jerk. When the ultra-sound tech told me it was two boys, I yelled out “Nooooo.” 

But still I read all the books about twins, I fretted about the possibility of a c-section, I tried to pick out names, I rubbed my belly, I made sure I got enough folic acid and iron. Mentally and emotionally it was 9 months filled with a roller-coaster of emotions. People tried to make me feel better by telling me that they knew someone who had eight and nine pound twins (this definitely doesn’t make a pregnant-with-twins-mom feel better btw). People told me crazy stories that definitely didn’t seem rooted in making me feel better. But there was one story I read about a dad who shared some very similar thoughts I had been having, and in the end of his story he said that, after his wife gave birth to twins he ended up feelings so sorry for all the other parents who just had a “singleton.” I must have read his story a hundred times. And in the end, I could have written that same exact story.

My sweet babes came at 37 weeks, naturally, thanks to my amazing and supportive doctor (baby “b" was even breech!). My first fear was quickly relieved. They came out pink and healthy at 5 and a half pounds each, 20 fingers, and 20 toes. Second and third fears relieved. And because I had to have them in a hospital, in an operating room with a medical team, I couldn't have them immediately. When they finally brought me to my sweet boys all my cynicism was zapped away by the powers of overwhelming love. My greatest fears were relieved. In my inflated sense of joy, I, too, looked at all those singletons and felt sorry that their parents just got one baby instead of two. 

It felt like magic to see these two connected souls together. In my arms. At my breasts. Stretching in my bed to find each other. I’d compare it to winning the lottery, but I imagine it was so much better than that. And, still, after six years every single day I feel lucky. Parenting these two little guys has continued to fill my life and heart with so much joy. Even in the darkest of moments I hear bursts of laughter coming up from my belly, I feel surrounded by love, happiness, and wonder. And if that’s the extra I was in store for. I am so glad I got it. I was very lucky indeed.

Thanks so much Lucinda for having me! And happy mothers day to all the mama’s and those who take on mothering roles. 

you can also find christine on instagram here or on twitter here

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