It has been quite a while since I last wrote here, and I have several excuses:
  • My birthday has passed, which means 23 before 24 is over and I no longer feel self-obligated to write weekly.
  • The holiday season (which includes but is not limited to, my birthday, opening day of rifle in New York, Thanksgiving, opening week of rifle season in Pennsylvania, Carson's birthday, my mom's birthday, Herm's birthday, Christmas, and New Years) is a busy time of year for us - by the time Christmas comes around, we will have traveled to / been in PA on three different occasions in the month of December, and on top of that we have holiday parties and birthday bashes and general life thrown into the mix.
  • My computer crashed. It has been on the verge of dying for almost a year, barely hanging on by a thread. Literally. The lid of the laptop was connected by a few wires. I had it strategically propped up against a wall, and if anyone closed it or nudged it too harshly I knew it would suffocate. Well, a sad, sad day happened and it's gone. May it rest in peace.
Those excuses may perhaps be legitimate, but they are just that, excuses. And had I wanted to write bad enough, I would have made time for it. But I'm back again, and while I won't promise weekly posts anymore (have you ever tried typing and linking on an iPad?), I'm not going to give this blogging gig up either.
To jump back into things, here is what I've been currently up to...
Reading: Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World - how one family learned that saying no can lead to life's biggest yes, by Kristen Welch.
This book arrived in my mailbox, taking me completely by surprise. I had not ordered it, nor did I know it was coming out. There was a note from Kristen and her team at Tyndale House, saying that I was receiving it as a gift for sharing encouragement to other women through my platform (my blog). Included in the package was a Fair Trade Friday family gift packet and a beautiful paper bead bracelet.
I wasn't reading anything at the time the book arrived, so that evening I sat down and got started. And friend, let me tell you this: If you are a mom of children, whether they are toddlers or teens, I really do think this book will benefit you. In our culture, where almost everything is instant and we are flooded with advertising, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking if only I had this ________, then I'd be happy. Our kids aren't the only ones who struggle with this, we do too. The consumerisim mentally is a hard one to combat, but it's not impossible. If you decide to read this book, get ready to cultivate a spirit of genuine appreciation where your kids (and you) don't just say—but actually mean—"thank you" for everything you have.
You can preorder the book here - I wholeheartedly recommend it!
Loving: All things Fair Trade, such as this necklace (which I own and wear weekly), these kantha blankets (I have a gift card to redeem. Now to decide which one?),  Punjammies (most comfortable pants in the world... It's 3:30pm and I still haven't changed into real clothes today because of these.), and finally, these earrings (which I wear on heavy repeat.).
Dreaming: About the Little One growing within me. I had a visit with my midwife this week, and got to see the child via ultrasound. We didn't find out the gender, but it was such an amazing experience to see that little head, the tiny fingers, and bony knees. I am at almost 20 weeks now, and it just baffles me how anyone would deny this a child—a human being with rights! —it's so very obvious. If I chose, I would still be legal to abort, and to know that so many babies lose their lives because of our entitlement, our rights, just breaks my heart. It was such a bittersweet moment, seeing my child and falling in love even more, but knowing at the same time that so many children aren't loved or wanted.
Carson was with me at the appointment , and ever since then he has been even more affectionate towards the baby. Not a day goes by where my belly isn't patted and kissed and talked to by a very excited big brother.
Wishing: For a white Christmas. But we will be in Lancater, Pa, where the  extended forecast is predicting a high of 70*. Sunblock anyone?
Thinking About: What I should make for dinner.
Listening: To Serial. I can't get enough of this podcast! I was a bit late to the show during season one, so I was able to listen to episodes back to back, finishing it within a week or two. And then season one was over and they took a forever long break. It's back again, and now, every week I am like a kid counting down the days until Christmas... Except what I'm  counting down is days until Serial.
Watching: The clock tick slowly towards our supper hour, and still nothing. Ideas? Anyone?
Trying: To stock my pantry a bit better. One of my goals for this winter is to cook my way through the Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple cookbook. To do so, there will be a bit of shopping and planning on my part. Once the snow starts flying, I think I'll be up for the challenge. I used this cookbook consistently last winter when we were training for the Seneca7, and not one recipe disappointed us, they were all so good.

What about you? What have you currently been up to? I'd love to hear about it!


Conversations and a Red Cup

Hey how are you? I was putting mushrooms and spinach into my grocery cart, placing them next to the olive oil and yogurt already in the basket. Carson and I were at Aldi, stocking up on produce and a few other items we needed for the week. I glanced up. Was someone talking to me?
Hi, good to see you! I responded, recognizing one the the former employees who I've grown to know in the past three years of shopping there almost weekly.  As we chatted Carson ran down the isle and turned the corner, suddenly out of sight. I'll catch you later, I need to find my kid!
Minutes later Carson was held prisoner, in with the mushrooms and spinach, and our conversation resumed. How are you doing? I haven't seen you in so long. Her expression was bleak, even before she answered, I already knew. In the past few years her life has been rocked dramatically. One day they were a happy family of three, and the next left her a widow, a single mom. To respond, she held up a box of tissues and package of chocolate Debbies. I'm counting on these to get me through the week, I'm going to need them, and some prayer too, if you think about it. She's in the thick of legal papers and insurance claims, every day reliving the moment that made her a widow, as she fights for her rights.
How about now? And there, surrounded by toilet paper and Windex, we prayed.  
If someone would have asked the the same question this week, I too, may have broken down. My hard-slogging is nothing compared to what my friend is going through. But in the thick of motherhood, in the piles of laundry and upset stomachs and diapers that aren't holding the runny content well, I've been feeling completely drained. Empty and lacking. Ready to throw in the towel - which would only result in more laundry.
And it was in the midst of one of those days, a day where yet another nap resulted in only ten minutes of peace and quiet before the small boy was roused, crying and whining and demanding so much, when Herm walked in on one of my break downs.
Babe, why don't you and a friend go out tonight? Carson and I will stay home. No need to worry about supper, I'll take care of it. It'll be good for you, for us.
I gratefully took Herm up on his offer, but I went alone. Motherhood can be lonely and isolating, especially with young children, but what I felt like I needed, even more than companionship that night, was complete silence and solitude.
As I slipped on to the chair in the far corner of Starbucks, away from the conversations across the room, I marveled at how lovely and rare time alone like this was. The Gingerbread Tea Latte tasted amazing in that highly controversial red cup. In fact, I rather like how it looks without snowflakes and whatnot, even if it does supposedly take Christ out of Christmas. (Is anyone actually offended by that?) But that quietness quickly ended as the door swung open and a lady, short and wirey, with close cropped hair dusted in gray, strode in.
She carried an air about herself, but her tattered clothes and glasses held together by medical tape gave her secret away. She was homeless.
Right away she started complaining to anyone who would listen. This place isn't very cozy, is it? Nothing like the Starbucks in Pittsford. Yeah, there they have leather chairs, and they're open late. It's Pittsford where I like to go.
She tried to chat with a student who was studying, every couple of minutes getting up to ask another question, each time forcing the student to remove her earbud before answering, then returning to her textbook and laptop. She complained about something to the man reading the paper a few tables over.
I tried to tuck myself further into the corner, but it didn't help, she noticed me and sat down.
I could tell she was lonely, wanting someone to listen. But what about my silence and solitude? The conversation jumped from place to place, she asked where I lived, and what I do for work. She wondered how I was ever able to survive out in the sticks, surrounded by all those Amish and Mennonite folks. Life is so backward for them, she stated, having no idea that I am one of them.
Somehow, in the midst of this, we began to talk about refugees and poverty, and that is when I quickly learned that she had complete disdain for immigrants and Mexicans and Blacks and anyone who wasn't of a higher class. She told me how she was currently fighting potential jail time for assaulting a Syrian pastor in a neighboring town. That man has got to learn that he can't come to our country and show disrespect! I've got rights, I will not go to jail because of him. They come and take our welfare and live off of us. I won't have it! My main concern in life is for my well being, my safety comes first. You might not agree, I know you don't, but they aren't welcome here.
Over the next 15 minutes she spoke bad of everyone of a different ethnicity then her and brought class and economic status up again and again, as though that was the most important thing in this life. I found this ironic, considering her obvious state, living on the streets, possibly even taking our welfare, in tattered and torn garments. 
As I left Starbucks that evening, I kept replaying that conversation in my mind, and comparing it to conversations I've had with refugees. The ones who were the 'lower class of our society', as she would have put it -- even though I would consider her to be in that class as well. She was completely miserable, her life only about her. The refugees I met, they were grateful to be together as a family, in a safer place. They were concerned about the safety of their family and friends back home, in the countries they fled. Life was not simply about them. If class would be based on happiness, they would be classes apart.
After two hours and fifteen minutes of alone time, I was ready to come back home again, back to the hard-slogging of upset stomachs and chewed up raisins pressed into the carpet, back to the  man I love more than anyone else, and back to this career as a stay at home mom, which I don't exactly love, nor do I hate. And I was so thankful to be reminded that this life isn't about me, about my safety, or my protection and well being. There is so much more to it than that.
If I had to pick only one thing I am grateful for today, it would be that controversial little red cup and the many conversations and perspective shifts that happened around it.


11. Write 52 Love Notes to One Man

Tucked somewhere deep in the attic of my parents home is a brown cardboard box, the corner labeled Love Letters. That box is filled to overflowing with cards and letters that were sent the many miles from Dryden, Ontario, Canada, to Fair Play, South Carolina, and back again. While my mom and dad were dating and later, engaged, they lived hours and hours apart. With limited phone calls and visits, hand written letters was a major part of how they got to know each other.
Even though I don't know the stories hidden away in the box, I've always thought it was a gem. The yellowed paper, brittle, valuable.
Fast forward quite a few years and I'm dating Herm. But our relationship was completely different than that of my parents. Instead of long distance, we saw each other daily. We were coworkers who attended the same church and for the most part had the same group of friends. Instead of years of getting to know each other better before committing to forever, we dated for three months and were engaged for four. We had known each other for only 13 months before we said I do.
Sure, we left each other notes once in a while, but for the most part those notes were sent via text or written on a scrap of paper or neon sticky note -- nothing nearly as extensive as that box hidden so deep in the attic.
My goal for the 52 love notes was simple; I would write one per week for the entire year. I'm not a hopeless romantic...  so please, when I say I wrote love notes, don't imagine sheets of unlined paper and perfectly penned beautiful never-ending words. The reality looked more like this: I love you, scribbled onto a napkin tucked into his lunchbox, or Today I am thankful for you! <3, scratched on a sheet of notebook paper.  It was nothing fancy. And, unfortunately, while I only have about two more weeks before my deadline for the list is here, I still have a good 10 - 15 more notes to write.
But last night happened, and I have this feeling last night could have counted for at least a half dozen of those unwritten notes...
We had dinner plans with friends, Carson was going to Papa's house. (My dad is his  hero, and he is always so excited when he gets to go see his grandpa.) It was beautiful outside, remarkably warm for this time of year, and I wanted to finish up some painting before I got ready to leave for the night. As I was brushing a coat of white over the door propped on sawhorses out by the garage, Herm came out to let me know he was going to go for a quick hunt on our property before we left. He still had about two hours. I didn't say anything, but seriously, wouldn't that ruin our plans if he did get a deer? Wouldn't we have to stay home and gut the thing instead of enjoying a delicious meal with friends?
Herm came in just as it was getting dark. He didn't say a word, so I asked. Well, did you see anything? Yeah, three deer. Did you shoot? Yeah. Did you hit it? Yeah. You killed a deer?! Act excited about it, Babe! That's meat in the freezer. He just smiled mischievously and said, I wanted to see if you would ask. 
This didn't cancel our dinner plans. We still went out and had a lovely evening. But after dinner was over and we were heading home, I went to pick up Carson while Herm came back to our house to start searching for the doe.
He hadn't found the doe by the time I came back home, so after I tucked Carson into bed I pulled on an old pair of yoga pants, slipped into hiking boots three sizes too big for me, and stomped off to the dark woods, like a real outdoors women, in search of a blood trail.
By the light of our iPhones and a headlamp that seemed to grow dimmer with each passing minute, we hunted, the trail growing faint at times, next to impossible to see. Briers and burrs tore at my skin and got caught in my hair,  but still we pressed on. (I know I am making this seem like a real adventure, right? Don't ask me how close we were to our house. That detail makes the story seem less extreme.)
About 20-30 minutes after I joined Herm, I kept noticing a bush with thick undergrowth. It looked like mangled roots, but my light wasn't bright enough to see exactly what it was... My gaze kept going back that direction, and that's when I saw it — the faint, dark outline of a hoof. Babe, I found it. You mean you found her?! He asked. No, "it", I thought. Her sounds too gruesome and heartless.
I got a kiss for my help in tracking the doe, and then I got to watch, help even, as Herm butted and gutted "her".
And I'll just tell you outright, as there's a high chance you may have never had the pleasure of experiencing this first hand, butting and gutting is awful. Not only is there blood everywhere, but the smell —oh the smell!— and in my pregnant state, where scents are ten times more intense than normal, this was bad, real bad. The calamari and tortellini I had so enjoyed just a few hours prior was churning. I somehow managed to hold myself together, and as the hour hand on the clock neared 11pm, I checked for ticks, showered, and fell in to bed exhausted and humored. My love for that handsome hunter obviously runs deep, because you certainly wouldn't have found me in the woods late at night, butting and gutting, unless it was with someone I truly loved.
Yes, this surely was worth more than six love notes written on little neon squares.


Do It Again

Photos by LYNDSI Photography
Do it again!
We were in Half Moon Bay, a town 30 minutes south of San Francisco, at Sam's Chowder House, a waterfront seafood restaurant recommended to us by one of my husband's clients. Our west coast trip was coming to an end, but before we flew back east, Herm requested we stop again, for one last meal at this place, a seafood lover's dream eatery. I may have ordered chicken, that detail is no longer vivid in my memory.
Our car doors were barely open, my feet hadn't even touched the ground, when the lady, a robust and elegant looking African American with gorgeous curls and ruby red lips, exclaimed for the second time, Do it again!
Do what again?!
Pardon? Herm and I both looked at her in confusion. We hadn't even been there long enough for her to know what we had done in the first place. 
Honey, she smiled, her accent almost southern,  if he was an ugly child, she said, pointing at Carson who was now sitting on Herm's hip, I would say, 'Is he your only one? Maybe you should keep it that way.'  But lordy, you've made a gorgeous child, you two need to do it again!
And with that, she and her friends piled into their black Cadillac and were on their way, leaving Herm and I doubled over with laughter at the thought, wondering, should we take her advice?
Well, dear stranger in Half Moon Bay, I would like to let you know we haven't forgotten about you, or the wonderful advice you so generously gave to us. 
And now we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of another beautiful child, due sometime in May of 2016!
Yes, we did it again.


21. Take Dancing Lessons with my Man

Photo by Penn Clark
Dancing. It's something that most Mennonites are less than good at.
I'll be completely upfront and honest and tell you this, I don't have the moves like Jagger.
But dancing is something that I want to learn. It looks like a lot of fun, and it certainly would come in handy to know at least a few dances (other than the chicken dance) for wedding receptions and other formal occasions... So, dancing was added to the list.
I wasn't exactly sure how or where this would happen.
Our local town grange offered free square dancing lessons during the month of September, but Herm was working several evenings per week in order to get ready for our trip to Portugal, which resulted in a conflict of schedules those three Wednesday nights.
I'm entering 'crunch time' with this list, and it looked like perhaps number 21. Take Dancing Lessons with my Man would not get crossed off.
But then I heard about the Autumn Barn Party my church was hosting just after we returned from our trip, and how we would have a caller there for square dancing! Hallelujah!
The only thing left to do was work on convincing my man that he would enjoy it too. :)
Thankfully I have two great pals, Kate and Lyndsi, who took care of this for me. I later found out they both text Herm and Lyndsi bribed him into it with a coffee and donut delivery if he took his wife to the dance.
So there we were, at the barn after church on Sunday night, sipping on cider and nibbling bits of apple pastries, as we were waiting for the dancing to be begin.
We started the night off with the Virginia Reel (see what it is here). The caller lined us up in two rows, gentlemen on one side, ladies on the other, and began to call out the moves as the music played and people clapped.  This is a high energy, lively dance. It was fairly easy to catch on, and so much fun.
We stayed for one more dance, before Carson started asking if he could go to bed. The little man will do all he can to fight nap time, but every evening, like clockwork, he will request to go to bed around 8:30-8:45. I would have loved to stay for the rest of the night, but I wasn't going to deny a little boy his bedtime.
I had fun, even with just two dances. And I was happy, this was finally crossed off.

P.S. Herm really enjoyed the night too, and next time, even though I'm sure he'd still accept a bribe of donuts and coffee, it wouldn't be necessary in order to get him there.



When I created the list almost a year ago, I didn't actually believe that I would be able to cross 8. Visit a New State (or Province or Country) off of it.  I've already been to 31 of the 50 states, so in order to visit a new one, I'd have to travel pretty far west. I do get to Ontario, Canada, fairly often, but again, to visit another Province it would be a long drive for me. And a new country? With our stage of life it seemed impossible.

But then we were invited on a trip to Portugal with a few of our friends. We weighed the pros and cons -- Pro: Carson flies free until age two. Con: Flying to Europe isn't cheap. Pro: We had enough of credit card rewards to cover one of our tickets entirely and at least half of the other ticket, so we wouldn't be paying a lot out-of-pocket. -- and decided this was the year, we would go!
Our church is associated with a church in Sintra, Portugal. The main point of the trip was to spend time with the people there, to encourage one another and build relationships, but we also helped out with a few work projects in the sanctuary that is being remodeled, and of course we did a bit of sight-seeing as well.
Portugal has a vast amount of history, along with beautiful castles and palaces and coastlines to go with those stories. And the food... don't even get me started. Let me simply say this: I've never had such good bread or so many pastries served at every meal before. Carb overload.

We spent 10 lovely days in Portugal, and as much as we did love it, we were excited to head home again. Herm and I both share a love of travel, and we both tend to be homebodies as well. (How does that even work?) Trips like this are such a joy, but the saying is true, there is no place like home.
On our way home we had a 11 hour layover in Brussels, Belgium. We got a hotel for the night, then early the next morning took a train in to the city for a quick breakfast, before heading back to the airport for the final leg of our journey home. It was pretty dark out and we didn't have much time, but I feel like I can now at least say that I've been to Brussels. =)
We had such a wonderful time there. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to travel with my two favorite men. My hope is that year after year we will still be able to travel and visit new places, even as our family grows. This world is such an amazing place, and I feel like I've barely experienced it.


44 Miles and a Cheese Ball

Crunch time is on. November will be here before I know it, and I am determined to have the list completed. So with that in mind, last week I took time to cross two items off.
Wednesday was for cheese making. And really I don't have a lot to say about that process, expect that the fresh mozzarella I usually pick up at Wegmans or Aldis  is about 100% better. Mine turned out a bit rubbery and flavorless. Perhaps I should try again to perfect it, but I am no perfectionist... Next time I'll save myself the hassle and let someone more experienced be the maker. 
And Saturday, that was for biking around a lake. On the list I had mentioned Seneca Lake, however, over the course of the last 10 months I came to my senses, realizing that 77.7 miles is FAR. Sure I relay raced around that lake three consecutive years, but my feet had a rest in between each run. I don't own a good road bike, and the seat on my bike isn't exactly, um, comfortable, so with a bit of convincing I was able to talk myself out of that idea and decided that Canandaigua lake, with it beautifully doable 44 mile route would be the choice.
Late July or early August I pulled out my bike and Carson and I started going for morning bike rides to begin training. That lasted for about 1.5 weeks, until one morning I walked out to the garage to discover that my bike had been attacked! Our puppy, Mia, had gone to town on the bike seat, shredding what little cushioning there was and leaving a bare metal seat. I could have kill that dog that morning, but somehow to this day she still remains alive and well, with teeth that shred anything left in her way.
That put a stop to our training. I should have picked up another seat somewhere, but didn't get around to it.
So when Saturday morning came around, I borrowed a bike seat from my dad's bike, and off we went, Carson, myself, and my sister Kate. 
What I forgot to mention is that I kept checking the weather before we left, and there was a good chance of rain around 11 am. Instead of driving to Canandaigua, which is about 25 minutes away, we changed around plans and biked around Keuka Lake instead. It's the same milage as Canandaigua, but rather than driving we could simply leave on our bikes from my house to get started. Plus, we know a lot of people who live around Keuka Lake, and with the chance of rain, I knew I might need someone to bail me out and pick up Carson.
The first three miles, which are all down hill, were torturous! I couldn't catch my breath for anything, and bike wouldn't coast. I had to work to go down hill! It sounded like something was rubbing, but every time I stopped to try to figure out what was going on I didn't see any issues. I was imagining the rest of the ride, wondering how I was ever going to make it. I'm a fairly strong and fit person, my lack of training was embarrassing.
Finally I stopped once more and gave the entire bike a good go-over. And that's when I noticed that Carson's bike seat had slipped from its normal position and was actually resting on the back tire, basically working as a brake. A few minutes later that problem was fixed, and my legs which were already beginning to feel like jelly were peddling with ease.  The rest of the ride was sure to be a breeze.
The first section of the route is a narrow winding road with a lot of rolling hills. Carson did really good for about the first 10 miles, then he started complaining about his lot in life. When we finally pulled in to Hammondsport, which was mile 17, he was so excited to get out of that bike seat and stretch his legs. I bought him an ice cream cone to munch on while Kate and I enjoyed coffee and a Bikers Bar, a homemade cakey granola bar, from a coffee shop next door. 
That break was all he needed. Carson was excited to get back in the seat as we headed off, ready to complete the ride. 
There was an official bike race happening around Keuka that morning, but all of the races were going around it the opposite way we were. That kept Carson entertained for quite a while. He would way and say hi again and again as we passed groups of racers.
At mile 33 my mom, bless her, came and rescued Carson. He was still doing really well, but he looked sleepy, and I knew he wouldn't be able to sleep well in that seat. 
We still had 11 miles to go, and they were definitely the most grueling. Not because the terrain was rough, not at all. I have tired, and hungry, and my lack of trained and non road bike were all catching up to me.
But we made it!
Almost 5 hours later, as we were pushing our bikes up my drive, I thanked Kate for joining me and made a pledge to never again go for another bike ride. 


What I'm Loving

  1. This amazing family!
When I was 18 I moved to Jamaica, a tiny little island in the West Indies, and spent a hard but completely wonderful year working at a children's home on the west side of the island.
While there I nannied this little boy, who was then 2 years old. He taught be so much about what it means to love and care for someone, to fight for them. Daily I prayed that God would bring a forever family into his life. Shortly after I moved back to the States, his parents were able to adopt him and bring him home! They flew in to New York a few months later so he could be the ring bearer at my wedding. I hadn't seen him since.
Then last October they welcomed another child to the family, Kenroy's sister, Oneisha. Oh the joy and celebration! The highlight of this past weekend was being reunited with them, and watching them as a family, one of my favorite families!
God works in such wonderful and mysterious ways... His plans for these precious kiddos was so much better than I ever dreamed possible. Because of that, my heart is full.

2. The view from our deck

This view is always breathtaking, but especially so in the early autumn months when fog lingers over the lake and the leaves are fringed in shades of orange and yellow. Our deck is basically like a second dining room in our home. Every evening throughout the summer when the weather is nice we eat dinner out there, and even in to late September and early October we will most likely be out there, bundle up a bit warmer, but still enjoying it immensely. This is my favorite spot in our house.

3. The Rachel necklace
(Center tray) I recently become an ambassador for Noonday Collection. When my sample items arrived, I was immediately drawn to the simplicity of the silver and gold pieces and didn't pay much attention to the other, more colorful items or those made from paper beads. But then I heard the story behind that Rachel necklace, so I picked it up and tried it on. Since then I've worn it 3-4 times and really like it. It goes great with a black or chambray top, but I think it would pair well with stripes or autumn tones too.
Rachel is a lady who works with Noonday's artisan partners in Uganda. Before she found employment there, she was going to have to give her daughter, Olivia, up for adoption. She was very poor and was not able to provide for the two of them. Someone in the community heard about the situation and introduced Rachel to Jalia and Daniel, the owners of the Ugandan business. They hired her to make paper beads, which is very intricate work, done by rolling thin strips of paper tightly around a toothpick. The beads are used in many necklaces and bracelets sold by Noonday.  From the income Rachel was able to earn, she can now support herself and her daughter Olivia.
The Rachel necklace is made from paper beads, seed beads, and ethically harvested bone. I love Noonday Collection because of the style of the products, but it is because of stories like this that I am so eager and passionate about sharing it will all of you.
Purchasing and wearing these pieces are truly impacting lives all over the world!

4. ThredUP
ThredUp is running a really fun promotion right now, where you can get $20 off your first order is you use this link. But the deal gets even better, because once you purchase something from ThredUp and share the link generated for you, you will also get rewarded with $20 in store credit whenever someone signs up under your referral link. I 'purchased' all of this without spending a penny, because of friends using the $20 promo off their first order. Unfortunately over half of these items are going back, because either they didn't fit or I simply didn't like them. But ThredUp offers free shipping on returned items if you are refunded by store credit, so I'm still not spending anything and I will have store credit for the next time I need something updated in my wardrobe. Try it, you can't lose.
What are you currently loving?


23. Go Paddle Boarding

23. Go Paddle Boarding | sarahesh.com

23. Go Paddle Boarding | sarahesh.com
23. Go Paddle Boarding | sarahesh.com

Paddle boarding has been on my hit list for a good long time. I first discovered it in a Life in the Finger Lakes magazine, and ever since then I couldn't forget about it. I love anything to do with the outdoors, and usually what I would choose would be a bit more high energy and intense, but this looked leisurely, something that we could do as a family. 
So paddle boarding was added to the list
But summer came and life was busy and it just didn't happen... until yesterday. Herm took part of the day off for Labor Day, so we headed up to Rochester first thing in the morning. We stopped at Pour Coffee Parlor, a favorite spot of ours, for a breakfast of Lumber Jacks and Lumber Long Johns and Panamanian pour-overs. From there we to Bay Creek Paddling Center, where the fun began. 
Carson was so excited to go on a 'boat'. He could hardly stand the wait as we filled out paper work and signed a few legal forms. Finally, all was set and we were off. 
None of us had gone paddle boarding before, but it is quite simple, and we were off without much hassle.  Carson started out on my board. He sat near the front and as we began to move along he got more and more brave. First reaching his hand into the water, then dangling one foot, and finally both. Just as I was about to warn him that he was going to fall in if he got any closer to the edge, he slipped off the board and went for a little swim. 
I jumped in after him, and once we were both back on the board, he sat in the very center, hardly moving for at least five minutes. But eventually he ventured out again, this time dragging only a foot or a hand in the water, and hanging on just a bit tighter. 
Irondeqoit Bay is the perfect place to go, because there are waterways through the marsh, and you can also head out towards Lake Ontario for more open space. 
We rented the boards for an hour, and the time went by far too fast. Carson wasn't ready to say good-bye, and neither was I. 
From there we made a few more stops, included Pittsford Farms Dairy & Bakery for some delicious ice cream and milkshakes, before we headed back home again.
It was such a perfect family outing, and I will eagerly tell you that if paddle boarding looks like something you would enjoy, get out there and make it happen!
Now... on to our naps!
23. Go Paddle Boarding | sarahesh.com


A Day in the Life

We were gathered around the long rectangle table, its glossy top smudged slightly from finger prints and muffin crumbs. Its the same table who used to sit around every Thursday morning before work. We were all single back then, all friends since childhood. 
Life has changed, a few of us have gotten married and become moms, some moved across the country, and some moved back again. And in the midst of all the change, our moments around that long cafe table have become sparse. 
But two weeks ago, on an early Thursday morning, those of us who are still living in the area were found leaning in, laughing, sipping lattes, and catching up on life around that glossy but slightly smudged table. 
So Sarah, what does a typical day look like for you? The question caught me off guard. What does a typical day look like? It can vary so much day to day and week by week. And yet I often struggle with the feeling that my life is mundane, every day repeating itself. 
I couldn't forget that question, so I've been mentally noting what my day to day life looks like. Kaylie, this post is for you.
Monday, August 30
6:30-6:59: Woke up and began the first day of BodyRockTV's 30 day fitness challenge. Carson tried to join in on the workout. Baby burpees and lunges are hilarious. I think I burnt 50 extra calories from laughing at him.  I typically like to get up earlier, but Carson hasn't been sleeping well for the past 3-4 weeks, which means I haven't either. That extra hour of sleep in the morning is much needed. 
7:00-7:45: Devoured a homemade breakfast of eggs, avocado and fresh salsa. Read a few chapters from Isaiah about caring for the orphans and widows, started the first load of wash, and spent some time catching up on social media. (For the record, I won't be recording that throughout the day. Just know that I probably logged in to Instagram more than the 1-2 times I mentioned it.)
7:46-8:46: Took Carson and Mia (our puppy) out for a walk. Mia finally learned how to follow along when on a leash, so I thought it would be the perfect time to teach her to run. We may have averaged a 12 minute mile. That pup wasn't in a hurry and her attention span is next to nothing. I'm hoping she catches on before too long, fall and winter are the seasons when I get out and run the most. 
8:47-9:30: Balanced the checkbook, prepared a few items to take in to the bank, and went over our budget from last week. I can be pretty religious about this. Every single Monday it needs to happen. And nothing makes me happier then when all the numbers balance to the last penny. Also wrote out a grocery list and added other errands to it, and grabbed the bedding from the dryer to made our bed.
9:31-11:45: Went for groceries and made 4-5 other stops, included Wagers Cider Mill for fresh apples and cider and donuts. At the grocery store Carson insisted on sitting in the cart instead the child seat. Which was perfectly fine until we were going through check out. Aldis, where I often shop, doesn't hand out grocery bags, I bring my own. So as the clerk scanned the items she placed them in the cart. Carson started to throw the veggies, the spinach and avocados and mushrooms, back at her. She thought it was so funny. Me, not so much. I'm just thankful that avocado didn't knock someone out cold.
11:46-1:30: Gave the cider and donuts to Herm and his crew, who were working to replace our garage roof. Made lunch and put Carson down for a nap.
1:31-2:31: Worked on a few things for my Noonday business. This all feels so new to me, it's definitely a learning curve. I've been so impressed with the training that Noonday offers though. My first trunk show is this coming Saturday.
2:32-3:45: Cleaned out our new-to-us vehicle. For the past year we've been driving a tiny 1995 Ford Ranger. It did the job, it got us from point A to point B, but during that time we set money aside every week to go towards something a bit more practical. We finally had enough money, and found something we liked, a 2007 Chevy Tahoe. Driving the Ranger never bothered me, but this Tahoe is luxurious. The seats are so comfortable, the sound system is amazing, it doesn't boast a cassette player (haha!), and there is room for groceries and lots of kids. People keep asking me how soon we plan to fill it up. We are working on it folks, good things and tiny people take time. 
3:46-4:40: Cleaned the deck and did some yardwork. Can I just admit that with a toddler and a puppy it often feels like for every step forward I end up taking five steps back? If I clean the windows, 30 minutes later they look worse than they did when I started. If I sweep the deck off and wash it, Mia will shred something or Carson will throw sand all over it. And if I wipe the kitchen floor up, it's almost guaranteed that Carson will somehow sneak his puppy dog into the house and they'll both slip and slide all over it. Job security, right?
4:41: Realized I should probably think about what is for supper.
4:42: Thought about something else, and got distracted, probably with Instagram.
5:30: Hey, when are we going to eat supper? Herm worked from home today. Supper is earlier. Darn it, what to make?! Last minute idea? Burgers, which seems to be the last minute idea at least three times per week. Why does meal time happen so often?
6:30-8:30: Went with Herm to look at a job he will be doing later this summer. It was at a friends place, so while he was figuring out measurements and colors, Carson and I splashed our feet in their pool, explored the orchard and climbed all over the old trucks and tractors. We spent time chatting with our friends too. Their backyard patio is a dream!
8:31-9:30: Home again. Gave Carson a bath and put him to bed and began to think about putting myself to bed too. It was a full day.
So there you have it. The long answer to a short question. Next Monday will probably be completely the same, yet entirely different.
What does your average day look like?