Books

Books: Where the Crawdads Sing

I had been wanting to read Where the Crawdads, the debut novel by Delia Owens, for almost a year. It came out last August and has been on my running “books to read” list since then. I finally got around to it this summer, and it did not disappoint.

The novel tells the story of Kya Clark, the “marsh girl,” living by herself in rural North Carolina in the 1960s. After a local man is found dead, Kya is arrested for murder. Owens’ background in nature and ecology is evident in her writing.

I really loved this book. The characters are interesting and well-developed. I was struck by the beautiful imagery combined with the underlying theme of how society treats those who are different.

book

I have been caught up in the emotional throes of sending my firstborn to kindergarten this week, so stay tuned for more on that. She is doing great. Me? I’m all out of Kleenex.

Adventures

Five!

My oldest turned five last week and we celebrated this past weekend with a ballerina-themed party at Storybook Island in Rapid City.

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Ages three and four were so much fun with this girl. These milestones are flying by at warp-speed, and I try to remind myself to slow down and soak in everything.

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The park has been our go-to place for all five of her birthday parties because it’s just a great venue for summer parties.

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My mom made the ballerina-themed cake in light blue, my daughter’s favorite color.

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I cannot believe she will start kindergarten in a few short weeks. She is kind, inquisitive, and social. She values her friendships and has a caring heart. She’s the best big sister, too.

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We love you, sweet girl, and we can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for you.

Adventures

All 50 by 40: Alaska

Alaska is vast and stunning. Of course this was kind of a major one in my quest to see all 50 states. It did not disappoint.

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Traveling with young children means a different pace, so we definitely didn’t do the level of exploring we might have if we were solo. Still, we enjoyed ourselves more with the girls along and it was fun discovering a new and beautiful place with them.

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We had plans to take a small plane around the summit of Denali, but due to smoke from wildfires were unable to do that. The glacier cruise out of Whittier was a perfect way to spend a Sunday. The views were fantastic and the water was the bluest I have ever seen.

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It reached record-high temperatures while we were there, hence my sleeveless shirt while cruising around glaciers.

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We got up-close views of wildlife.

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Of course I had to take in the food scene, which meant eating a lot of delicious seafood (halibut, salmon, and crab), as well as reindeer sausage.

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Anchorage has no shortage of delicious bakeries. Macarons at Sweet Caribou were a fun treat to take to the park.

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The cardamom buns at Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop were amazing.

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We explored the adorable town of Talkeetna.

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Here we shopped for a few souvenirs and I had the best blueberry ice cream ever.

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The girls were interested in stopping at every playground they spotted from the rental car window.

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They also couldn’t get enough of the hotel pool. Again, traveling with kids means taking time for the things that we as adults maybe don’t find as exciting. The reward is that the kids have a blast and we do a little more relaxing than we might have otherwise. (Like sitting in the grass eating a vanilla blackberry macaron.)

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My husband did some halibut fishing while we were in Alaska and we shipped some delicious fish home to enjoy in the months to come. Alaska is a special place with so much to see and do. We definitely plan to return.

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I only have two states left and I would love to hear your suggestions for places to go and things to see in Michigan and West Virginia. I’m looking at plans to cross at least one more off next year. Which will I choose?

The Updated List

Michigan (I have been to airports)

West Virginia

Adventures

Parenthood: Equal Parts Unconditional Love and Wiping Things Up

Last night I was watching my daughters play and found myself so overcome by unconditional love for them that my eyes filled with happy tears. I miss them when I am at the office, especially at the end of an especially long work week. It felt so good to be home with them, listening to their laughter and the silly songs they learn at daycare.

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Photo by Tayhart Photography

An hour later, I was grumbling under my breath as I cleaned up spilled milk from the kitchen floor for the second time that evening as my daughters argued over a toy in the other room. Sometimes the whining (my two-year-old) and the bossiness (my four-year-old) are a lot to handle. Sometimes them constantly needing me is exhausting. Sometimes the thought of being away from them for another full day of work hurts my heart.

That’s parenthood. There is deep, deep love. There is frustration. There is more deep, deep love. More frustration. Rinse and repeat.

Sometimes I need a break from them. And when I have one, I immediately miss them. There are so many emotions.

Parenthood is stepping on a Lego on your way to their room to make sure they are breathing in the middle of the night. It’s painful at times, but so rewarding and meaningful that the annoying parts outweigh the agony.

Parenthood is letting your two-year-old drink from a regular cup at a restaurant even though you’re nauseous through the entire meal because you know it’s going to end in disaster.

Parenthood is being so proud of your little one for being excited and ready to start kindergarten, but also digging in your claws to hold onto each last bit of their last summer before it starts.

Parenthood is watching your child make decisions, move through phase after phase, and achieve milestones knowing that although they’re not a baby anymore, they’ll always be your baby.

On the hard days when I have to dig deep to find enough energy for all life’s demands, I hope I can cut myself some slack. So let’s look at parenthood not so much as an emotional rollercoaster, but more as a leisurely train ride through a beautiful mountain range. Don’t worry, there’s wine on this train. All aboard.

 

In My House

My 2019 Summer Suitcase

I am finding it hard to grasp the fact that June is already almost over. With July comes our vacation to Alaska. I’m a little apprehensive about a nearly six-hour flight with a two-year-old and a four-year-old, but I’m really excited to visit the Land of the Midnight Sun for the first time. Weather is supposed to be in the 70s while we are there, which is perfect in my opinion. Here are a few favorites that will be in my suitcase.

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1. I fell in love with these floral pants and ordered them online a few days ago. They haven’t arrived yet, but I’m excited to dress them up or down for work and play. (Loft) 2. I love the poppy color of this dress. (J.Crew) 3. I am a big fan of Babiators for the girls because of their durability and awesome guarantee policy. (Babiators) 4. We are loving all things Toy Story 4 in our house right now after seeing the movie this past weekend. Both of my girls have been sporting this tee regularly. (Target) 5. I am always looking for swimwear that looks cute, but stays in place while I am playing in the pool with my daughters. This tankini set fits the bill and the price is right. (Gap) 6. My office has a no-denim dress code, but I have been living in this skirt on my days off. (J.Crew)

Adventures

A 1980s Summer (Featured in Black Hills Parent Magazine)

I had the opportunity to write for the summer issue of Black Hills Parent magazine and it’s all about giving today’s kids a 1980s-style summer. You can read it at this link or pick up a free copy at area businesses. As an added bonus, it features summer photos of my little brother and me at Storybook Island circa 1989, and because I’m the bossy big sis, I didn’t ask his permission. Sorry, Kyle.

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Adventures

Two-Year-Olds and Passport Photos

A while ago we went to get our daughters’ passports. The long, harsh South Dakota winter had us fantasizing about a tropical vacation for next year so we thought we should get the passports done. Wrangling two little ones in the passport office while laying out all the proper documentation was a little daunting, but my husband and I got through it.

A few weeks later, my oldest daughter’s perfect passport arrived in the mail, featuring a Miss America-style smile and adorable hair. The next day, a letter from the United States Department of Homeland Security addressed to my two-year-old arrived. It informed her the photo taken of her by the passport office could not be accepted because her hair was in her eyes. Uf, really?

Rather than take her back in to have a professional photo done since that didn’t work well the first time, I decided to do it myself. My husband helped. We bribed her with candy. There were tears, threats, and groans of dismay. We nearly threw in the towel. Does a two-year-old really need to go to Cabo?

There is a lot of advice on the Internet about taking a toddler’s passport photo, and, trust me, I gave it my all. We sent in the photo and have yet to see if it has been accepted. Mind you, she had also fallen on the playground at daycare in the weeks prior to the photo, so has a lovely scrape under her eye for her passport photo. I couldn’t bear to just delete all the bloopers off my phone so here they are for you, dear reader.