Gratitude prompt #7: “A friend or something that reminds you of a friend.”

Of course I don’t plan these days ahead of time. That’s never how I work and, as most days mid-pandemic, actual in-person photographable/selfieable friends were in short supply.

“No problem” says I to myself. I’ll just find something interesting in the house that reminds me of a friend to photograph. I started looking around.

Now, it’s completely possible that the fact that I:

A) don’t really “decorate” my house per say and

B) am terrible at buying non-functional things for myself.

And this has something to do with the fact that nearly everything I looked at reminded me of a friend.

I have art from friends on some walls and art gifted by friends on others. There are plants by the windows that were given by friends and plants that were delivered by friends. The capoeira instruments in the corner were made with friends and are played with friends. The mugs on the shelves are gifted from friends, the piano was my best friend’s grandma’s. The light in the corner is connected to another friend’s light in another state. There is a stuffed bee from a blogger I’ve never met in real life and a necklace hangs by the mirror from another that I have…

And on my bed is a stuffed bunny. One of those ridiculously round and unbelievably soft squishmallo types. It came to me early in covid on my birthday with a note “Since I can’t give you hugs.”

I hugged my bunny. I took its picture and I looked around my house filled to the brim with “hugs” from friends whichever way I looked.

Maybe its that I’m a terrible interior decorator but I like to think it’s just that I have excellent taste in friends.

Life on the Other Side

Seven years ago my best friend and I took a picture of our kids on a couch.

That was back when “visits” didn’t involve adults talking because there were five kids under five.

Just let that sink in a moment.


Jane was born 16 days after I posted that.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

….(That makes 6 under 5 if you are still counting.)…

Fast forward seven years.

Same kids (plus one) different couch.

They play with each other now.

As someone who used to try to visit with her best friend when all the kids just yelled “Mine!” as they stole toys from each other, needed to nurse, have their diapers changed, and be fed yet another snack, all at the same time I’m hear to tell you – it still feels like a miracle.

They play with each other now, it’s amazing.

My friend and I actual talk and laugh and do things we want to do when we get together.

It’s amazing.

We are living proof that there is life on the other side of diapers.


Total Eclipse

We drove into the path of totality to watch the eclipse on Monday and, yes, it was worth it.

Worth the drive, worth the crazy last minute plans, worth the insane heat, worth the traffic on the way home and the fact that it came at the end of a marathon week of capoeira and most of us hadn’t slept a real night of sleep in days.

The adults bounced around in excitement, the kids (if not quite as enthusiastic as the adults) were still excited. And it was truly awesome to watch. Full totality was just what they said it would be, an indescribable corona, sunsets all around, bats, a major  temperature drop… it was a thing that gives me goosebumps to remember.

But… as with most things in life, it’s not always about what you do, but who you do it with. Eight people who can happily jump in cars at the last moment and drive off into the sunset with barely a plan are hard to find. But there we were. Four adults who could be happily, geeky together as they reuse the same adjectives over and over in their excitement……and four kids who can play together in a truck for hours… and hours… and hours.

Two car loads of people swapping seats and stories across Illinois.

The total eclipse was an indescribable hiccup in the Earth’s journey.

But friends……friends make the world go round.


The Chains of Good

Recently my best friend’s sister-in-law was murdered.

It has been just as tragic, raw and sad as one would hope to never need to imagine.

But the other day my friend told me a thing that brought tears to my eyes in a whole different way. She told me that through all the hard and sad and horror that has been going on, what has really come clear to her is that evil deeds exist as points.

Single instances.

But good makes chains. Chains of loving people, kind words and gracious acts. Loving family and friends lead to kind strangers.  And the good deeds from all of them exist in chains that can stretch on and on.

I’m linking to the Go Fund me account that has been set up for the family. I’m not expecting you to donate, though the family would be grateful.  I just wanted to remind you that even the small kindness you add to the world makes a difference when they join the chain.

In Memory of Jenn Ward

Getting Back to Awesome

If you are going to have kids at the same time as your best friend it will initially be kind of awesome.

Or, rather, as awesome as things can be when two sleep deprived people get together with hungry, crying infants on their own separate sleep schedules. So, basically, just like being at home except that when you are still in your pajamas at eleven in the morning covered in milk stains and spit up, your company will smell just like you.Jessie, Sarah, Ivy and Natalie

Eventually the time will come when you get talking, walking kids together. When that happens you can watch the remaining awesome dissipate like mist in the sun as the first kid declares, “Mine!”

As we are now painfully aware, one and two year olds mostly just horde toys and fight. So a “fun” weekend together will in actuality turn out to be exhausting weekends of parallel parenting while refereeing wrestling matches over the toy of the moment.  Of course this stage is relatively short lived but, if you do it like my best friend and I did, just as one starts getting out of the wrestling match stage another new kid shows up until you suddenly look at each other and wonder how you produced six kids when the oldest is only four.

But I’ve got good news. If you can just hold on, through the insanity, the lack of sleep, and the toy wars, in just a few short years (nine short years to be exact) the kids will grow up enough that the biggest problem is that no matter how many plates of food you serve, as soon as the food is put away, one of them will show back up in the kitchen proclaiming, “I’m hungry!”

My friend and I… we seem to have made it out the other side. This spring we got together for multiple days of actual, real life, fun.

Yes, dinner time was hectic and there was still plenty of refereeing to be done.  But at the end of the day we put the kids to bed early and fell back into our old habits of staying up too late laughing until we cried.

If you are going to have kids at the same time as your best friend, initially it will be kind of awesome.

And then it won’t.

But don’t give up, best friends can always make it back to awesome, eventually…

Sarah and Jessie blurred

Of course those friends might not have a picture of themselves taken together since those first kidos were born, but I’m sure that’s just part of the awesome that is yet to come!

Pumpkin Party

The food is piled willy nilly in the kitchen and there aren’t enough bowls to go around.

There are people carving pumpkins on the table and people carving pumpkins on the floor. jack-o-laterensThe house is getting hot and the kids are getting loud.

Friends have come with mere hours notice, food and pumpkin carvers in hand.

Now they rummage through the kitchen to find spoons, dinner and drinks.

Great Gramps grew the pumpkins and John made the chili. Great Gramps and Jane Halloween is still my least favorite holiday but in this moment…#rawrlove pumpkin

… in this moment, it’s the best.

The One Armed Fisherwoman

So I have this mother, and she broke her arm. But she’s my mother, so she’s still doing things that normal people wouldn’t do, like trying to catch trout on a fly rod – with only her left arm.

Dont' forget to admire the boat Dad made this last winter!

Dont’ forget to admire the boat Dad made this last winter!

Turns out, with enough assistants she can catch a trout on a fly rod with only her left arm!Mom's one armed trout

A few days later my mom and I found ourselves watching our friend fish for carp off of our family’s pier.The prettiest carp fishing picture.

This is the family pier on the property where my mom grew up and still lives.  I grew up there and visit often.

We have both done lots of fishing off the pier.

But never, ever, has either of us gone carp fishing.

So, of course, we teased him – cause that’s what you do when you’ve just been fly fishing and you are watching someone catch giant ugly fish using corn as bait. Carp fishing gear

He even had his daughter and her little princess pole rigged for carp. A carp fishergirlSo we teased him about that too.

Right in the midst of a large amount of friendly banter on the merits and supposed fun of carp fishing, his daughter ran off to play with mine and handed my mom her little princess fishing pole.

Which is when I told my mom that while she could catch a trout on a fly line, I didn’t believe she could catch a carp on a princess pole.

But, if she has enough assistants…


Look at that! A picture with me, the designated “reeler” in it! Photos by Cory.

…she can do that too!

Two carp in the net

Ok, so the pictures above were from later. But mom and I really did work together to pull in one of the carp in the net using that tiny pink princess pole. Cory already had just netted one of his own and we made him get ours in the net too before we lost it. A memorable first carp catching experience!

And that’s when we stopped teasing… One armed carp fisherwoman…and asked nicely for an adult-sized pole of our own to use!