DC + Occoquan.

While we were just outside of DC for Thanksgiving, we made our regular trip into the city for the zoo and a (very brief) tour of some of our favorite spots around the National Mall. Hugo was the sweetest with the gorillas at the zoo this year, waving "hi" and putting his hands (and his face - gross) up against the separation glass. I'd be lying if I said the gorilla exhibit didn't bum me out a little, but I'm guessing the gorillas probably eat and sleep better than I do at the moment.

We also stopped by Occoquan on the way back - an old mill town with small shops (including one entirely devoted to puzzles?), a boardwalk and a small park. Can you get over Hugo's face in the picture on the bridge? I can't. But I'm also his mother.

And now we're back to work/sitting on the couch trying to get over bronchitis (boo) before we head down to Florida this weekend. I told Blake I may not be able to travel if I didn't improve today, but he was having none of it. You must rally for some things in life. Disney World is one of those things.


From Thanksgiving.

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday in DC with my family - all of us battling colds, but thankful to be together.

As a family, we always want to be looking for new opportunities to show love within our home, just outside our front door and across the world in places with needs greater than our own. We're particularly conscious of the many blessings in our life this week, but we're also challenged to find ways to show Hugo how he can make an impact in the lives of those less fortunate. This isn't always easy, because he's still too little to get involved with some of the organizations that we feel strongly about supporting, but I do hope the small ways we're encouraging him to give back will become a part of who he is.

And if you're looking for organizations to love on in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are a few really good ones that we have heart for:
*She's the First -- offsetting education costs in low-income countries so that young women can become first-generation graduations and the next generation of global leaders (sharing more soon on how we and you can support creatively in 2017!)
*Children's Rescue Mission -- builds sustainable infrastructure for jobs, provides humanitarian relief and offers educational programs to break the cycle of poverty in Teupasenti, Honduras
*Hope for New York -- serves the poor and marginalized in NYC through volunteer work and financial resources
*Bridges of Hope -- ministers to the New Haven community through mentorship programs and service projects

Happy Thanksgiving!


Hugo Henry, 18 months.

The way you still say "baby" when you see your reflection in the mirror. Your infatuation with shoes, cars, Nemo, pumpkins, binkies. Your head on my chest during your nighttime bottle. You, learning how to play hide and seek (counting "two, two, two" over and over). That baby shampoo smell. The look of your soft round fingers reaching for food. The sweetness with which you lean in for a big sloppy kiss.

Each day, you are more toddler, but my baby you'll always be.


From an autumn evening.

A walk down the leaf-dusted sidewalks of the West Village. The sounds of music, rustling, conversation behind brownstone doors. A seat by the fire at the Marlton Hotel. A good friend to catch up with over cheese and tonics.


A wedding toast.

This weekend, my oldest friend got married. As her maid of honor, here's what I had to say about it :)

I’m going to kick this off with a few numbers, because honestly, it wouldn’t be a toast to an engineer and a computer scientist without some numbers involved. 

So here they are: 9. That’s the number of months we lived before Rachel and I met. 10. That’s the number of years we went, believing we just might be twins (we have a theme song to prove it). 1. That’s the number of friends Rachel and I had for those ten years, for obvious reasons. 167. That’s the approximate number of poems we co-wrote together. 4. That’s the number of times I cried when we decided to attend different colleges. And 1,569. That’s roughly how many times I checked my phone while Rachel and Chris were on their bike trip, waiting to hear if Chris had proposed. 

This doesn’t make me an expert on friendship or popularity or really anything that holds up against the standards of “cool” - but it does make me an expert on Rachel.

Rachel is a rare mix of sweetness and fearlessness – the person everyone wants to be friends with and a force to be reckoned with. In middle school (once we had a couple more friends), we consistently recruited Rachel to break bad news to a teacher or make the case for a field trip that was loosely based on what we were studying. She used what to this day we call her “doe-eyed look”. And it worked! Ask us about our field trip to the Chinese buffet.

Rachel was always the first person on the bike, on the skates, on the ball. The first to join a hockey team full of guys, the first to speak up for what’s right. The person who calmed my nerves before every recital and orchestra concert and the person who decided it was a fine idea to put someone in a large plastic bin and toboggan them down the stairs. Whose fearless pursuit of her professional dreams is only matched by her fearless pursuit of adventure.

But unlike many fearless people, Rachel isn’t impulsive. When she first started seeing Chris, she was quiet about it, and took her time - which is how I knew this was serious. Watching her grow to love and care for Chris has been one of my greatest privileges as her friend. It’s brought out the very best in her.

I had read that, often, people find life partners that have characteristics similar to those of their closest friends. Which is why, when I met Chris, I expected him to be a lot bossier, very talkative and maybe a little less interested in outdoor sports. But Chris, while our differences outweigh our similarities, I’m glad that we can agree on this: life with Rachel is a great adventure, and one I wouldn’t miss for the world.

50 years from now, the two of you will no doubt have biked all of the trails available to bike, and eaten lots of donuts along the way. Chris, you will have stopped using the word “intense” around Rachel, knowing that, each time, she will inevitably ask “you know what else is intense?” (Camping). You will have seen Rachel show off the shopping cart on the dance floor too many times to count. And you will have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how a girl who rocked a bowl cut until she was eight years old and sported a gray tankini to her first boy-girl party could grow up to be so fiercely cool.

I’m eager to see how you both grow and take on new challenges as husband and wife in the years to come – as long as it doesn’t take you too far away from me.

I’ll always be cheering you on from the sidelines, and I couldn’t ask for a better match for my oldest and dearest friend. This kind of love is worth celebrating. Raise your glasses to the most beautiful bride and groom. I love you guys. 


A thought.

I've been pretty quiet in this space as we process the results of the election and look ahead to the next four years. I've been hesitant to say much about what these results mean to us in a public place because there's a lot of empty rhetoric out there. I am saddened, certainly, but not hopeless or fearful. And I realize that the world doesn't need more anger or blame - it needs more grace, respect and responsibility for change.

I am always proud to call this country home. I am in awe of those who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms (including the right to vote).

And I love these two. That is all.


Adoption weekend!

This weekend, my sister and brother-in-law adopted their babies. Dominic and Gianna have been in our lives for two years now, and we've loved them as our own since. But this - the act of legally calling them our own - was the answer to many prayers and a great celebration for us. Our God is faithful, and we will never stop giving thanks.

Photos courtesy of Jillian and Aaron's friend Marilyn


Christmas card outtakes.

Last weekend, my younger sister was nice enough to meet us on the town green for a Christmas card photo attempt... which went poorly, as evidenced by the above. Not a single good one in the bunch, through no fault of the photographer. After one massive meltdown, we started asking ourselves how important Christmas cards were anyway. And will anyone notice if we skip them this year?

I will notice. That's the answer.

Also, Gus would like for everyone to know that he was very well behaved and looked absolutely charming in every photo.


Happy (belated) Halloween!

From Cookie Monster.
And his mom, who feels like mayyybe next year she'll develop some DIY skills and create her kid a homemade costume. I mean, one kid walked by Hugo with a papier mache-d airplane strapped around his waist, so the stakes are pretty high in this town.