Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Here's the Thing About Marriage

The thing about marriage that no one tells you until you have already worn the pretty dress and clinked champagne glasses is that there will be fights at one in the morning where neither of you want the other person to win. Whispered angry words tossed over the kitchen counter while the two of you duke it out under the cover of darkness. Babes asleep in their beds blissfully unaware that the family they were born into looks pretty awful right now. Inability to compromise. Lack of desire to let the other person get a word in edgewise and speaking of that, God help me if I let you have the last word. We used to fight like a television sitcom, storming out the door or silent treatment with arms crossed. Now we fight like the Bravermans. We stay and battle it out in the same room. Best friend soldiers suddenly on different teams convinced that if I just yell long enough the other person will come around and realize the blinding correctness of my position. Insults are hurled, ones that make your heart cringe the second you watch them hit your lovers ears and run down their face like dirty water. Past wrongs are casually mentioned as ammunition to prove that you are owed something more than what you are getting right now. You are so lucky that I put up with this.

These fights are epic and always feel so horrible in the early morning sunlight. Darkness being drug into the light like a wild animal cringing at the harsh reality of being seen. Looking at each other over the heads of the gorgeous children we made together. How can two people make something so perfect and still forget how to love each other. Or even remember to be kind. How many times a day do I say that to Pursy and Knox? Just be kind! Do you hear his words? He is telling you that you are hurting him when you push him over, please stop and say you are sorry. Go see if he is okay and give him a kiss. And I expect her to listen to me and begin to understand that our actions can hurt others. Even those we love.

The thing about marriage is that these epic fights are unique to us. I don't fight with anyone else that way I fight with him. And if someone had told me before I got all dolled up in my white dress that being married would mean it was possible to treat another person like this, I might have pulled a Christina Yang and run the other way. But no one told me. And now I am in this. Committed. Ring on my finger, married filing jointly, shared bank account and shared bed, his last name wedded bliss.

But no one told me how cherished I would feel when he apologizes first. Calls me twenty times before I pick up the phone just to tell me he has been miserable and needs to make sure we are okay again. Has the balls to tell me what he feels I could have done differently and that I hurt him. If he didn't know me so well, he wouldn't know why I say the things I do. He also wouldn't know that I long to be better. To do better. Love him more. That the girl who a few hours ago was telling him that he is an asshole isn't usually like that. Only because he has promised to love me forever I am not fearful and timid in our fights. In a way, our 1am fight was proof that our marriage is solid. In some crazy way, I am convinced these fights say that we still give a shit. We are in this. And as the years pass and we get wiser and older, 1am will be the time for sleep. Together.

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Journey To Being A Beer Lover

I remember my first beer like most people remember the first time they heard Nirvana or saw the Mona Lisa. It wasn't that the experience was amazing, in fact the beer was a Michelob Amber bock and it was with my ex-fiance Aaron on his family's back deck. We had grilled dinner and  were about to play Trivial Pursuit. I remember all the details. I am fairly certain I was wearing a red shirt and I know Aaron's earlobes were stretched enough to fit a beer cap in because his dad kept making fun of him.

The reason the experience is burned into my memory is because it was MY FiRST BEER. For a girl who grew up in a house where no one drank, beer was mysterious. Even my first few years of college if I was somewhere where people were drinking I dodged the stares by choosing Woodchuck hard cider. I was also a vegetarian hippie and most of my friends drank black coffee and loose leaf tea.

But this was BEER. And I hated it. Every sip. But I persevered because everyone else was drinking and enjoying themselves. I am probably the only 21 year old who was peer pressured into drinking by someone else's Mom and Dad. I wanted to fit in with this family I was marrying into.

I didn't have another beer until Grant and I had been married almost a year. I tried sips here and there but had discovered that even the diviest bars that Grant liked to frequent would make me a vodka and cranberry. So I gave up trying and just accepted that I was not a beer girl. Much to Grant's dismay. He would accuse me many times over the months of our young marriage that I had told him I loved beer when we were first dating. Which I had told him, because he was the kind of guy that was into that and I didn't think it was going anywhere with him anyway. A tiny fib. And I have lost track of the number of times I have been teased about that fib over the past ten years. Best to be yourself, ladies. You never know when a cigarette on the fire escape will turn into happily ever after.

Anyway, a year into our marriage we were living in New Orleans and I was still drinking vodka cranberries and hard cider. I was expensive to hang out with because you couldn't just buy me an Abita and sit down. Our friend Harrison Key was asking me why I didn't drink beer (probably annoyed because my drink was more than everyone else's) and gave me some advice. "Have a really light beer in the heat of the afternoon and you will start to like beer."

My interpretation of his advice went something like this: I went for a run in the heat of a Louisiana afternoon, then chugged a High Life. I then threw up on the sidewalk. More years passed before I tried my next beer.

We moved to State College and Grant began his PhD at Penn State. We bought a big old 1890's house and spent all our free time and money fixing it up. Grant is one of those peculiar beer lovers who feels strongly that certain activities require certain beers. Work outside is complimented with High Life or Yuengling. Work inside, including intellectual work like writing papers or reading methods textbooks, goes with local microbrews like Troegs Hop back or Victory Golden Monkey. There are beer rules.

And I decided that I could either learn the rules and play the game or sit and watch. It was also getting expensive to buy two six packs anytime we wanted to sit on our fantastic back porch and drink together. Add to that the fact that Grant refused to buy hard cider anywhere that people would recognize him, and you have a girl who was weary of always making the beer runs. It was time to get into beer.

I started with the goal of just finishing one. The hardest point is halfway, when the beer is a little warm and no longer sexy. But I persevered. I drank whatever Grant handed me and gave him feedback so he could gradually tailor my beer tastes. I set aside my strong feelings on gender equality and let him order beer for me when we were out. I felt like Deborah Kerr deferring to Gregory Peck.

And one day I realized that I was enjoying beer. I was ordering my own and asking questions if I didn't recognize a yeast or type of hops. I was not intimidated by the beer list at Zenos and actually had chosen a favorite beer. My champagne moment was sitting at a Belgian pub in Philadelphia on a girl trip with my friend Amy chatting up the bartender about what styles of Belgian Triples I liked. He told me he had a new one for me to try, and gave me a Triple Carmelit. The heavens parted and the beer angels sang. I sent a text picture to Grant and got an impressed thumbs up in return. That might have been my finest moment as the wife of a beer lover.

One thing Grant and I have found very important for the life of a marriage where two people have vastly different interests, is to get into the things the other person likes. It sounds simple, right?

 It isn't.

And sometimes there is puking involved. It would have been so much easier if I had gotten into drinking in college like everybody else, but this is my story of how I became a beer lover in my 20's. And remind Grant why he is lucky that I was smart enough to choose him.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Three Years and Eighteen Months

30 minutes in our backyard. Amazing what a camera can immortalize in the hands of a truly talented photographer. The fact that Caryn is a dear friend made Pursy and Knox light up and this was the result:

http://carynazure.com/martsolf/

Caryn, if you weren't already endeared to our family, you certainly are now. Thank you for this. I love you.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sometimes It's Just Quiet

You know the popular words of wisdom. If it is too quiet the kids are probably doing something that will take you a long time to clean up. I am in the office trying to answer some emails and do some household logistical stuff, and realized that the play room next door was quiet. Silent, even. I took a deep breath and peeked in the door. Knox and Pursy were both sitting in the Pack N Play that was still up after a weekend visit from my nephew, very seriously and very quietly stuffing plastic balls down the front of their shirts. Not a peep. Just a couple of fantastically imaginative babes with lumpy, oversized plastic ball pregnancy bumps.

Pursy has started contributing to family prayer time before meals and at bedtime. We use the Book of Common Prayer and she has been listening long enough to have memorized long liturgical collects. It brings amazing joy to my heart to hear her 3 year old voice saying "Give me the joy of Your saving help again and sustain me with you bountiful spirit". I wish there was a font for 3 year old inflection. Trying to type it out phonetically seems to not give the proper respect to her sincere prayers. My favorite organic prayer of hers goes something like this:

 "Oh gracious God, help us keep us safe. Thank you for this...um...breakfast. Thank you for Mommy and Daddy and Pursy and Knox. Thank you for the world and thank you for all the people in the world. Amen." "Mommy, can you pray for all the babies?"

We have several friends who are pregnant right now and she loves praying for each one individually. This kid is so fantastic.

Her three year old birthday party was this past weekend and I will be sure to write up the post soon, with all pictures. It was chaotic and messy and fabulous. It was an Olivia themed party and I have never used Pinterest but creeped around it for months looking for ideas. As I am not a crafty Mama, I use Pinterest to glean from the innate craftiness of others. I am also a big fan of paying people to make crafty things for me. I try and fess up when I can, but definitely took credit for this milk and cookies creation I found on someone else's craft blog. I executed her idea, after all...

My sweet and lovely friend Caryn Azure (of caryn azure photography) came over and took Pursy's three year old pictures in our backyard yesterday. I borrowed an idea from Dear Baby and we painted our toenails together, as I have been promising we would do when she turned 3. I truly cannot wait to see them... she is a brilliant photographer and my babes turn into little happy maniacs in front of her camera lens. She always captures organic joy on their faces.

Two weeks after shutting down my Facebook account and I find myself very content. The first week I missed it tremendously, which made me feel like I might have been more addicted then I realized. I also found myself in circles of people chatting about an article everyone had read (but me) or attending some event that everyone else knew about (but me). I felt weirdly disconnected. But I have been using that space for other things. I actually had to go buy a book of stamps this week because I used all mine up sending out cards and letters. Love that. I found a line of cards that I just can't get enough of, called the Frantic Meerkat, which has cards like this.

 I have been using Instagram for all those cute, random things Pursy and Knox do that I just HAVE to put into the universe so I am not the only audience. My account is lenore27 if you want to follow me. But there was also a huge drop in my blog readership since I stopped linking to FB and I am still trying to figure out what to do about that. I am not so proud as to think that people randomly wonder what I am up to and search for my blog. Maybe my Mama.. love you, Mom! :)

Grant's parents gave me a check for my birthday that I had every intention of squirreling away for a rainy day... and I went shoe shopping instead. I don't really buy shoes and from April-October wear the same pair of Chaco or Reef sandals that are as close to running around barefoot as I can get without the inconvenience of not being able to go into gas stations. But I have fallen in love with a blog called A Beautiful Mess which makes me so happy on days that the prettiest things I have around me are Pursy and Knox's faces. After seeing them on this blog, I went to ModCloth and bought these fantastic sandals (and a few other pairs) straightaway! Sometimes I just need to look at what other people are making or wearing or eating to remind me that I do still love peter pan collars and handmade rosemary gnocchi and beautiful pin curls. I just don't have time to incorporative them into my everyday life in this season. I did however watch a YouTube video about how to create a simple sock bun, and have been loving twisting my hair into a new style. You can check it out when Pursy's pictures are ready for public consumption!

I hope you are having a beautiful day.

Christy

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Life Inbetween Blog Posts

People told me this would happen when we had small babes. They said time would speed up and if I blinked I would miss precious time with my children. The ironic thing is, when Pursy and Knox were itty bitty, I WANTED time to speed up. I wanted the nights where I was woken up 4-5 times to feed someone or rock someone else to sleep to end. I wanted the quick trips to Target to take less than 2 hours, once the diaper bag was packed, stroller put in the car, both babes changed and fed and dressed and changed one more time because nothing makes you want to poop twice in 5 minutes like watching Mama chase your sister around the living room with a coat. I wanted to pay a babysitter less than $15 dollars/hour because she would be earning every penny and then some watching two babes under the age of 3. I wanted to have a conversation all at one time and not start in the kitchen, continue in the living room and then finish in separate rooms while I tried to keep a paper towel under Pursy's bowl of raspberry sherbet. I wanted the breastfeeding shirts that were all stretched out and worn thin to be put away for good. Not to mention the struggling and pulling and rearranging of the "covering blanket" that both my children hated having over them while nursing. I think at one point I jokingly asked Grant how he felt about the fact that all of our male friends had seen most of my breasts or at least a healthy dose of side boob. He didn't laugh.

I have admitted very publically and very unashamedly that the infant stage was not my favorite bit of having children. I love the small, snuggly, Johnson & Johnson parts, but maybe because my babies were only 18 months apart I struggled with finding enough peaceful moments to really cherish what was happening in our family life. Don't get me wrong- I have been very happy. But enjoying moments for me is usually very loud and there are dance moves involved. We are a Scotch Irish/German family which means we live and love BIG. And loud. And if we are sitting peacefully in one room together it is because one of us is asleep.

In the last year, a significant number of my friends of childbearing age had their first or started on their second. Today I spoke with a friend who has two babes just a little further apart than Pursy and Knox, and it was so good to have someone in the trenches with me. Someone who could listen to me talk about how much I missed my life before kids and not think I was a terrible person. And as we joked about drinking together over the phone (we live too far away to drink over the back fence) we agreed that having babes close together is hard. Very hard. Nothing makes you realize the depth of your selfish depravity like having two people whose needs always have to come before yours. Even if your need is to pee with the door closed.

And I realized that time really did fly by. I am no longer in the trenches with Purslane and Knox. Pursy is potty trained and Knox feeds himself. They both lay down in their beds and fall asleep, and sleep all night. I can take them both to the park and let them run around without me baby ducking one step behind. I can have a second cup of coffee in the morning while they watch a Yo Gabba Gabba episode or whip up something in the play kitchen. I can hand them books in their car seats and turn the radio to whatever I want.

And I know Mamas always say this, but I really think this stage might be my favorite. They both still need me quite a bit and like having me close by. But Pursy is fearless on the jungle gym and if I haven't seen her for a minute, I wait to hear a "Mama, look at me!!" and look up at the highest point and she will be perched proudly. Knox likes the bird seed box at the Children's Museum and can pick out his own shovel and bucket without my help. I heard Pursy talking to a kid at the Toy Lending Library and introduced herself with no prodding from me. They both sit still to read an entire book and Knox has started learning his animal sounds. They are cool, cool kids and I love watching them grow up. It is crazy fun.




Play Doh Gets a thumbs up

In the right hands, pomade has nothing on yogurt...

Check out that sweet face
 
Excavation requires the right tools
Natural dyed Easter eggs

Non crafty Mamas everywhere can rejoice over this success
 
Improper to eat lunch on Easter Eve without the proper headgear

Easter Basket- found

Santa cup is being replaced with Baby Chick cup


I hadn't seen Knox for a few minutes and after calling all over the house with no answer, decided to check the playroom. I found this.
The container is big enough to take off and on without difficulty. (read: he can breathe)

I Paint.
Behold!






Thursday, April 11, 2013

RIP Mr Vonnegut

Every April 11th I celebrate my favorite author, the illustrious and ironic and brilliant and never banal Kurt Vonnegut. Usually I commemorate him with a story of how I discovered him, devoured his books or how he reinvented fiction literature for me.

This year I am celebrating something modern. Kurt, what have you done for me lately? I admit I haven't reread any if your novels this year, as I sometimes often do. Don't take it personally, I read exactly 3.5 books this year and paid over $20 in library fines. 2012 was the year of the magazine article and Facebook post.  You once told me that "reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found". I hear you, but raising small babies is hard work and I had to find other ways to nourish my soul. Like the Santa episode of New Girl, which Hulu just informed me scornfully I have watched 12 times. Nick's dance just kills me.

But I did introduce someone very special to your writings and that is like discovering some hidden pearl in the middle of Bluebeard. (Like "belief is nearly the whole of the Universe, whether based on truth or not" on pg.161) Just as awesome and just as thrilling.

This year, my brother Daniel was looking for some Vonnegut wisdom. My knee jerk reaction is always Breakfast of Champions, but he already read it. And Slaughterhouse Five. And, surprisingly, Bagombo Snuff Box. I had to go back to my bookshelf and scan some books for a refresher on the story lines. I settled on Bluebeard, because of fantastic twisty thoughts like the one quoted above and because I remember reading it on the steps of our apartment in New Orleans. Not many books have I read that connect me to time and place and smells like yours, Mr V.

And so he bought it and read it and and reported back. And just like that, my brother and I were kids again reading books on opposite end of the red plaid couch with wood paneling on the walls and a corn field out the back window. We were firing quotes back and forth and asking random questions and just trying to be the first people in the history of readers that understood exactly what you meant. We were devouring your words and remembering what is so great about reading, anyway.

On April 11th I always get a little sad that because you are dead there will never be any more books. But then again, reading Bluebeard with my brother was kind of like reading it for the first time again.

RIP Kurt Vonnegut. That is what I write in my calendar every year. I think you would appreciate that more than "Anniversary of Vonnegut's death". But what do I know, I never really understood you. Didn't stop me from loving you. And sharing the love with others.

Monday, April 8, 2013

If Winter was Only for This Day

Anyone in Pittsburgh, or at least the crowd I run with, will tell you that winter lasted forever this year. Maybe it wasn't unusually long, but we kept getting these teaser days of 60 degree weather and sunshine...and wake up the next morning with smiles still on our faces only to be greeted with 6 inches of snow that had fallen overnight. We stuffed our freshly painted toes into snow boots again and took the kids someplace indoors. Again.

But today. Today was low 70's and gorgeous. For the second day in a row. It feels legit this time. We spent hours at the park this afternoon. Pursy and Knox ran and climbed and stayed on the swings until Knox was just hanging limp over the baby swing and letting the wind blow through his hair. It was fantastic.

Pursy wanted to try out the red flat swing because she could go higher than the black rubber one, but couldn't get off or on by herself. It was a team effort to keep her going but her pure joy was my reward. She kept throwing her head back and screaming "This is great!" and laughing so hard. I didn't have my phone or camera with me, so all I have is the memory imprinted in my mind of her pink dress with orange flowers, green tights and bright yellow shoes I found at the consignment shop over the weekend. The only thing matching on her person was the red swing and the red hair tie that was barely holding her blonde curls in place. It was a rainbow of little girl happiness.

So after 100 turns down the twisty slide and 99 tries on the monkey bars, I was ready to go. If winter lasted 40 years just so I would enjoy this day completely, it was successful. Now to repaint my toes... I have a feeling the snow boots are goin' in the basement.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Feelings... Nothing More Than Feelings..

Living with an almost 3 year old is a bit like sharing a house with a teenager/pregnant woman/retiring 60-something man. There are a lot of emotions and they change on the daily. Sometimes on the minute. We go from elation to frustration to mysterious to defeated to mischievous to just plain happy sometimes in the span of one walk across a room. And if she runs into another human being in that time frame, all bets are off depending on whether or not she is ready to interact with you.

It has become my biggest parenting job to help her identify, experience, and then figure out how to deal with this barrage of emotions. Adults don't do it well, how do we expect a kid to do it? But we press on navigating the turgid waters of what we around here like to call the Emotional Hijack. That moment when I have just started to become comfortable in the way things are going and am pretty confident that I know how she will react to something. I am prepared. All bases covered. En Garde. And then....WHAM. KAPOW. BLAM. Emotions are flying at me left and right from the sweet body of my favorite daughter. The Emotional Hijack. Beware... it catches you off guard and can ruin even the best of afternoons at the park.

Here is a pictograph of emotional examples. See Curious George table for reference.













Friday, April 5, 2013

Why Facebook is No Good for Me

We have all seen the qualitative sociological research articles starting to come out by the dozens. Facebook is being blamed for the rise of teen suicide, insecurities, public slander and relationship woes. The hours of lost productivity, ignoring our spouses and children, neglecting those sitting in the same room with us. Not to mention the mental gymnastics of trying to have a relationship with someone via updates, instagram pictures posted and the small but very significant soul validating "Like". Huffington Post had this interesting article about Facebook and our Love Lives, complete with "tips" at the end to make sure social media doesn't get blamed for any more breakups than necessary. Or cited in any more divorce proceedings. Yikes.

One interesting response to this article I read was the acknowledgment of the pink elephant in the room: our lack of boundaries and self control. As of now, Facebook will only come up on your computer or phone if you GO TO the site, although I'm sure Mark has something in the works that will cause your computer to automatically shut down if you don't check your page once an hour. Kind of like an energy saving light switch. You either do the action it wants you to do or an automatic and highly annoying consequence occurs. Like lights going out while you are sitting in the public bathroom and haven't moved in a few minutes.

But the problem isn't Facebook for me. The problem is the fact that Facebook so brilliantly taps into desires of my heart I thought I left behind in Junior High. Like people looking at my pictures or giving my random thoughts a thumbs up. For a lot of people, this isn't a problem. I have talked with quite a few of my friends who were appalled to learn that after I post a status update I go back within minutes to read it over again and check to see if anyone had validated what I found interesting or funny with a thumbs up or a (!) comment.

For those of you who visit my blog with any regularity, you know that my life is full. I am a wife, mother of two, and work as a part time nurse and full time Mama. I am a member of a small Anglican order which requires a large comittment to read and learn, I do a community Bible study on Thursday morning which also requires an element of study during the week, I have weekly playdates with other Mamas, I (try) to keep a home in order and nourishing food on the table, I am training for a marathon (part of a relay team, don't get too intimidated), looking into graduate classes to start working on my DNP and watched three seasons of Parenthood in one month on Hulu. When do I have time to be on facebook?

The answer is- in any free moment of time. I have a Google Nexus, so even though our computer was moved to the third floor to be out of the way, my tablet is in easy reach for a two minute fix. I have taken the Facebook app off of my phone 3 (!!!) times, the last being on a road trip to Philadelphia after Grant literally told me he felt insignificant because I was checking facebook instead of listening to a playlist he had made for me. Even writing that sentence fills me with shame. My husband made me a playlist of music he had discovered and wanted to share with me, and I was reading an article posted by a girl I went to high school with.

There are very few people I went to high school with that I like. It was a long time and very different time ago for me. Why I wanted to read this article is a mystery. But there I was. Reading it. No boundaries. But she had left me a thumbs up on a picture of Pursy the week before and I felt like I owed it to her to read what she was reading.

So as I read over all the lovely birthday wishes left on my facebook wall on Wednesday (thank you to everyone who took the time- it made me smile to think of how I know each of you and the wonderful turns my life has taken over the years) I realized that as much as I love the idea of being able to get in touch with so many beautiful human beings, the whole of Facebook isn't good for me. If you could spend 5 minutes with Purslane, you would wonder how I can stand to do anything else but hang out with her every free second I have. She is fantastic. And Knox... that guy does not take kindly to  waiting a minute for juicewater while I post an instagram picture to my wall. Especially if the picture is of him... asking for juicewater.

And Grant. I love being able to brag about him publically, but those of you who really need to be grateful with me that I found such a gem of a guy either already know or I probably texted you about the awesome thing he did for me recently.

I love writing letters on quality stationery. And getting cards in the mail. And even text messages. I like walking through the farmers market talking about ways to use rhubarb. I really dig sharing a beer on my couch or a walk through the park. When I am doing those things, I don't think to check facebook. I don't feel disconnected or desire affirmation. Some of those only work if you live close by, but even my dearest and bestest who live far away feel more solid to me when we connect off of facebook.

So. I have read the research and seen the reality in my own days. I have debated and decided and reneged. And have finally decided that Facebook is no good for me. If you want to keep up with my random thoughts and instagram pictures, please become a follower on my blog, My personal email is christymartsolf@gmail.com. If you want my cell phone, email and I will happily give it out. I will also share my address because my mailbox loves a good card with a stamp in the upper right corner and some handwriting on the front. My Facebook account will go dark this weekend.

Now to go make a loaf of handmade bread with fresh herbs. And I will leave you with the question, If bread gets baked and there is no facebook account to share it on, is it still delicious?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Birthday Barbeque

One of my favorite things about Grant is his affinity for the extreme. He doesn't just have vague passing interests...he is either obsessed with something or doesn't care at all. If he mentions that he likes a new band or artist, I can count on every single one of their albums ending up in our iTunes or a new Spotify playlist highlighting an obscure release from the early 80's that only came out in Japan.

So when he mentioned a few years ago that he was going to "get in to" barbeque, I prepared myself. First there was the lingo. You do not "barbeque". You make barbeque. Barbeque is not a verb, it is a noun. Barbeque is a meat that has been smoked for several hours and rubbed or mopped with a blend of spices, vinegars, onions, etc. Second is the gear. We have a smoker box attached to our grill which allows Grant to create a blend of wood and charcoal and keep it at the perfect temperature to make brilliant barbeque. It's all in the wrist. Third, the age old question of barbeque sauce or not to barbeque sauce. I happen to love Sweet Baby Rays, and Grant allows this because it has been sanctioned by the barbeque guru he learned the craft from, our Tennessee friend Alex Watlington. And fourthly, there is the culture around barbeque that includes friends and family coming around out table to eat...a bunch of meat. Delicious meat. But in order to join in the meat fest (am going to workshop that term) they must bring side dishes. And there is nothing like side dishes for barbeque... macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, baked beans... and our friends deliver. Deliciously deliver.

This year for my birthday Grant made barbeque and invited all my friends. In between days of gray snowy Pittsburgh lingering winter, this day was low 60's and sunny. In case the weather wasn't beautiful I found a fabulous yellow lace shirt to brighten the mood- turns out it was just candy. It was perfect. See???

Knox givin' out a fist bump to Mr Jeff while Daddy makes barbeque

Party Friends

Jonny, Emily and Elliot. Love this family.



Me laughing at my friend Allie over the heads of our sweet babes who we are hoping will fall in love and get married so we can have the most awesome family reunions ever.

Menfolk. Seriously, how cute is my husband with his 40's hair and red hoodie?

Mollenkof boys.

Oh my heart. Look at that face.

Elliot and I discussing life while Emily looks super cute in an awesome hat.

Blurry picture of suger loaded Knox eating birthday cake.

This was our backyard two days earlier... gotta love Pittsburgh.


I love the snow!

Snow ice cream! Does anyone else know this is a thing?? Grant had never heard of it.

Grant's family was here for Easter weekend and while Grant made barbeque (sweet grill and smoker box on stage left) the 'rents had an egg hunt for the babes.