in the garden // early summer

July 1, 2015

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Here are a few shots from around the garden. These are only a week old and everything has changed so much already. The only thing that grows more quickly than my children is my garden! We’ve had several delicious harvests thus far — beats, spinach, sugar snap peas, golden cherry tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and cucumber. It won’t be long until we’re bringing in squash, carrots, strawberries, and eggplant. We’ve also recently started some of the seedlings for the fall crop — winter squash and pumpkin.

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This time of year is just so good, isn’t it? xo

late june walk // a little life update

June 30, 2015

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

Hello, friends! Yes, I’m still alive. I know it’s been super quiet around here. That is because it’s been anything but quiet here at home. There’s not much to say about it. We’re coming up on three and a half months of chaos. We haven’t figured out what is wrong with Marina, or even if there is anything wrong with her. To put it simply, she requires constant, complete attention or she screams. Other than that, however, she’s just fine. So… there’s that.

On Sunday, M. and I had our first date, without kids in tow, in over two years. Great food, strong beer, equals happy parents. It was so nice and we’re determined to make it happen more often.

The garden has been doing really well and we’ve already had a few delicious harvests. More on that tomorrow.

Other than that, our days have been fairly simple. We do a lot of playing, toddler homeschooling, and a ton of infant soothing. One day soon, I’m sure I’ll have the heart to write through some of the details, but right now it’s too much of an “open” wound.

We’re heading on a seaside vacation in two weeks and I’m so excited (and a bit nervous) about that.

The weather was gorgeous yesterday so I took the little ones out for a long walk down by my parent’s house. Here are a few snaps that I took along the way — not an easy feat, considering that Marina Grace screamed every. single. time. I stopped the stroller. 😉

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

late june walk // livelovesimple.com

I hope that you are doing well and that your summer has been off to a beautiful start. xo

Three-Month-Old Marina Grace

June 22, 2015

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

Most of the time these posts start off along the lines of — “I can’t believe my baby is three-months-old already!” — but that’s simply not the case this time around, friends. I can believe it. In fact, if I wrote that she was six-months-old, or even six-years-old, I’d believe that, too. Marina’s second and third months of life were nightmarish at times. There were hours, days, and weeks that dragged on excruciatingly slowly. She screamed and cried more than I can put into words. This painful period has taken so much from us, that sometimes it’s hard to believe that she is only three-months-old.

For two months, every day has been a fight. I, Matthew, and even Roman, have fought every day to keep our heads above water. We have fought to keep our sanity. We have fought to keep the household functioning. We have fought to remember how much we all love one another. We have fought to believe that all of this will pass, that one day everything will be okay again and this, too, will be a distant memory.

There’s no telling all that we have done to try and soothe her. I can’t explain how much time I’ve spent driving around aimlessly. I couldn’t begin to explain how many circles M. and I have made walking around the yard with her in our arms. I can’t explain the look of horror on the cashier’s faces at the checkout line in the grocery store. I can’t explain the intensity or the pitch of those blood curdling screams or what it does to our hearts and our nerves.

I pray with everything inside of me that she will not remember these awful days. Or, if she remembers anything, I hope that she remembers how desperately I tried to console her; how I held her tiny body in my arms & channeled every ounce of my love into her; how I did everything within my power to make her feel better; how I whispered to her — I love you. It’s okay baby, Mama loves you. I’m right here. I won’t leave you. — over & over & over again.

These past two months have reminded me of treading water. Kicking and kicking and paddling and using all of the body’s might — just to remain still in the water, just to keep from going on under. But what matters, is that we’ve done it (we’re doing it) and we’ve made it to three months. That’s a big deal. Three months means hope. Roman went through lots of positive change starting at three months, and I have a lot of faith that Marina will do the same. We’ve come through the hardest part and we’re going forward now. We’re moving into a place where we can all find peace once again, where we can enjoy one another’s company, laugh, sing, play — all the good stuff.

Despite how hard it has been, it has also been beautiful. Throughout this last month, baby girl has been changing & growing like wildfire. She got the sweetest little rolls in her wrists and thighs. She’s got the sweetest, fullest Buddha belly. She has the brightest, warmest smile that just lights up the room. She coos and she “talks” and it just makes our hearts melt. Recently she’s become quite a mover & shaker. She wiggles across the floor. She’s come very close to rolling over a few times! Her legs are powerful and she can spring herself up like nobody’s business!

There is lots and lots of good in between all of the madness. As hard as it’s been, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’d do it all again forever if it meant getting to call this sweet, little girl my very own.

With all of this being said, over the past three days, there has been a change in the air. We’ve had a few car rides and one shopping trip that involved very little screaming. It might not sound like much, but for us it’s a really big deal. Best of all, she had the longest nap of her life (two whole hours!) the other day and she’s had a few stretches of sleep on her own! Again, these things might seem little, but they’re giant leaps forward for us and we’re praying hard that we are turning a corner.

Here we are at three months. Marina Grace gets sweeter and more beautiful with each day that passes. Yes, we’ve got our rough — really rough — times, but it’s all worth it. My love for her is boundless and I thank God for her. She was the piece of our puzzle that was missing and she has made our family complete.

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

marina grace at three months // livelovesimple.com

It’s June and the weather is sweet and there are wildflowers everywhere. I hope you don’t mind seeing lots of photographs of my sweet girl surrounded by flowers because there are lots & lots of those to come. I’ve been dreaming of this little girl all of my life. She is my dream come true, my sweetest wish. My cup runneth over. ♥


Summertime Official

June 19, 2015

Matthew has been talking about buzzing Roman’s head for awhile. Matthew’s father buzzed his & his brothers’ heads at the start of each summer. It’s a tradition that he remembers fondly and was excited to create with his own son. It was a tiny bit emotional for us to think about — we’re kind of obsessed with Roman’s hair, to be honest.

This Sunday is the first day of summer. (It’s also Matthew’s 32nd birthday & Marina’s three-month birthday!) So we chose today to be the day of the buzzing. Roman was excited about it. We set up a chair in the backyard and M. went to work. I had Marina in my arms, so I didn’t wrestle with my big camera. But I did take a few snaps with my phone to commemorate the “big cut.”

buzz cut // livelovesimple.com

buzz cut // livelovesimple.com

buzz cut // livelovesimple.com

We just loved how it turned out. Just when I thought he couldn’t get any cuter! 😉

Have a fantastic weekend, friends! I hope that you have a beautiful Summer Solstice on Sunday. xo

Childhood Play

June 18, 2015

childhood play // livelovesimple.com

Some of my very best memories from childhood were long days spent playing outside in nature. I was always blessed to live within a short walk to some type of woods. For awhile we lived right on a big forest and when we later moved, there were little woods within walking distance. Now that I am a mother, one of my favorite things to do is to spend time in nature with my own little ones. There is always something to see, do, and explore in nature. When I am out there, I find myself feeling like a child again. Yesterday, while Marina was sleeping, Roman and I took a nature walk and made fairy wands — sticks wrapped with dandelion and clover blossoms.

Some of my other favorite memories from childhood — believe it or not — are of playing Nintendo! My sister and I would spend rainy days inside playing the old classics, Duck Hunt and Mario Brothers. (I’m really dating myself here!) I am not one of those parents who adamantly opposes technology. My sister and I learned a lot while playing Nintendo, like patience, perseverance, and how to share. Later, when home computers came on the scene, my parents got us one of the earliest models. Does anybody remember Oregon Trail? (Dating myself again!) And as technology evolved, we upgraded along the way. Accessing technology in our home allowed us to learn and stay at the front of the pack when it came to technology in the classroom, and even later as we entered the workplace.

childhood play // livelovesimple.com

That being said, would I prefer that my children play outside instead of in front of a screen? You bet! Nothing can replace the importance of time spent outdoors, learning in nature and developing a reverence for the earth. But I also feel that most things are fine in moderation. Technology is beneficial for development and it can be a real lifesaver for us parents. For example, while I was suffering through my first trimester of pregnancy with Marina, Roman had marathon days of Curious George and playing games on the iPad. I’m not ashamed of this! When somebody is sick or when the weather is crap, technology is a fun, safe way to keep little ones busy.

When Roman first showed an interest in our iPhone and iPad, we allowed him to play some simple toddler games. Our favorites were Counting 123 and Peek-a-Boo Barn. It was amazing to watch him interact with technology, all while learning counting, numbers, and animal names & sounds. Now that he’s a bit older, he’s loving the Poki website and his favorite games are in the Inside Out Games section. He also loves Jerry’s Diner, featuring Jerry the mouse from the old classic, Tom and Jerry. (I’m such a sucker for classic Looney Tunes characters.)

childhood play // livelovesimple.com

We also allow Roman to watch TV a couple of times each day, usually once in the morning and once before bed. We keep him busy with projects, games, gardening, and adventuring all day; so sitting him down and allowing him to watch an age-appropriate show for half an hour is a welcome — and necessary! — break for Mama & Papa. While we haven’t had cable in eight years, we do have Netflix and Amazon Prime, which we love because there are no commercials. He’s always loved Curious George and Little Bear. Thomas the Train is a recent favorite, too.

At the end of the day, what matters most to me is that I have healthy, happy children. It’s so important to me that they love nature the way that I do and that they are able to create their own beautiful memories in the outdoors. At the same time, technology has its place in a happy & bright childhood, too.

What about you? Do you believe that technology — in moderation — is okay for kids? What was your favorite memory from childhood?


This post is in partnership with Poki. As always, thank you for supporting the companies that help to make my blog possible.

Our Gardens in June

June 17, 2015

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GARDEN JUNE // livelovesimple.com

It’s been nearly a month since my last garden post, so it’s time for an update and some progress shots.

We had a big spinach harvest two weeks ago and a big romaine harvest last week. Both were delicious. It’s quickly become obvious that if we ever intend to be “food” self-sufficient, even just for a couple of months out of the year, it’s going to take a lot of work and space. Although our gardens are decently sized, leafy greens (which we eat a lot of) take up space. We plan to experiment with staggered growing, (i.e. starting a crop of seeds, then another a week later, and one more a week later, on a continuing basis) to ensure an ongoing supply of fresh, leafy greens.

At present, things are starting to pop out in the gardens. The eggplants have blossoms. The sugar snap peas are covered in blossoms and the pea pods are coming in. We have baby squash, bell peppers, and cayenne all getting bigger each day. The tomato blossoms have given way to lots of tomatoes and we eagerly await them ripening. The onion, carrot, and beet greens continue to grow — signaling that something wonderful is happening beneath the soil.

The salvia has bloomed, making it the first of this year’s flower seedlings to blossom. It drew a beautiful hummingbird in yesterday. One of our hostas has bloomed and the others are displaying rich green leaves. The mountain laurel, which grow wild and bountiful here, are starting to pop, as well.

We have experienced some challenges along the way. Pests have been an issue for us in the past, and continue to pester this year. The caterpillar boom has led to some chewed up leaves. We’ve also had some pesky beetles, worms, and potentially aphids. We purchased some organic pesticide, but later decided against using it. One, we worry about harming beneficial insects (like bees and butterflies); and two, the bottle has some warnings which are red flags. We’ve been inspecting each plant and manually removing pests and/or spraying them off with the hose. Roman is a great help with searching for “the bad buggies.” I’ve also got a few all-natural, homemade pest deterrents to try out… when I get around to that.

We’ve had a few other issues pop up along the way — temperature issues, placement issues, etc. — and we’re taking lots of notes so that we can improve next year.

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

GARDEN JUNE // livelovesimple.com

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gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

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GARDEN JUNE // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

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gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

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gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

GARDEN JUNE // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

gardens in june // livelovesimple.com

As you can see, things are coming along nicely. It won’t be long now until the harvest is plentiful. If all goes well I will have some fresh-from-the-garden recipes to share with you soon. xo

marina grace in june

June 15, 2015

marina grace // livelovesimple.com

marina grace // livelovesimple.com

We’re just days away from three-months now. Yesterday marked one week since she started reflux medication. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much (if any) change in her “colic.” It’s been an exceptionally difficult few days, but I don’t have the heart to write about it now. I’d rather sit and stare at these smiley photographs. Despite the madness, her sweetness shines through brightly. She is happy and beautiful and I am so very grateful for my baby girl.

marina grace // livelovesimple.com

marina grace // livelovesimple.com

marina grace // livelovesimple.com

marina grace // livelovesimple.com

marina grace // livelovesimple.com

marina grace // livelovesimple.com

Happy Monday, friends! xo

golden hour, being present, caterpillars

June 11, 2015

livelovesimple.com

We spent yesterday evening in the yard. As usual, Roman was playing; M. was watching over him; and I was holding Marina. After awhile, my back and shoulders were killing me, so I asked M. to hold Marina for a bit. He walked her down to the bottom of the yard, away from Roman & me, so that she would fall asleep. And fall asleep, she did.

That is when the fun began. For the first time in a very long time, I put all of my worries down and just played. I pulled Roman around the yard in his wagon. We climbed on top of an ancient tree stump. We played hide ‘n’ seek. The air was perfectly late-spring warm. The golden sun was setting, far away beyond the tree tops. The earth was cast in a warm, pink glow. Everything was perfect, and nothing hurt.*

I desperately wanted to run inside and grab my phone so that I could snap a picture, but I decided against it. That moment was going to be ours, belonging to nobody else except my precious little family — spread around the yard, warm, happy, and safe.

In other news, it’s been an epic year for caterpillars around here! They are everywhere. We live in the woods and there are always creatures about, from giant furry ones to all manners of insects. Each year, one species of insect seems to rule supreme. One year it is cicadas, one year spiders, and so on. This year it’s caterpillars. The exterior of our house and yard are swarming with thousands of them at all times.

This explosion of caterpillars, naturally, has led to a wild fascination in my two-year-old boy. He’s been collecting (and releasing) caterpillars all spring. We did let him keep one and we made a little Tupperware house for it. About a week after we adopted it, it spun itself into a cocoon and it’s been wrapped up in there for a couple of weeks now. We’re not sure when (or if) it will emerge, but we’re hoping it does — how exciting that would be.

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livelovesimple.com

These photographs are not from yesterday evening. They’re from another afternoon of play earlier this week. They illustrate Roman’s love for the caterpillars and also what a great help he is with watering the garden.

xo

Father’s Day Gift Guide // 2015

June 9, 2015

Father's Day Gift Guide


1. The Tour Bag // 2. “Obsessive Chef” Cutting Board

3. Stanley Flask // 4. Stanley Classic Food Jar

5. Tabletop Bar // 6. Wooden Straight Razor

7. Rustic Wooden Ring Box // 8. Hella Sling Shot


This month will mark Matthew’s first Father’s Day as a Papa of two. I’ve been doing a little bit of online “window shopping” these past couple of weeks and put together this little collection of gift ideas that I like for him.

Several of my picks come from DadGifts.com — a site that features a wide selection of great gifts for every kind of dad. I love that they carry both fun and practical gifts. That Stanley Food Jar was a gift that I gave M. years ago when he started working in heavy construction — that thing is invincible! It’s a must-have for the dad who works outdoors or loves to camp. I also included a few fun gifts like the “Obsessive Chef” cutting board — perfect for the “OCD” dad, and an awesome sling shot — perfect for “little boy” that lives inside of every Papa.

What about you, what are your must-have gifts for Dad? I’d love to hear what’s on your shopping list this year!


This post is in partnership with DadGifts.com.
Thank you for supporting the companies that help to make my blog possible.

portraits 02 // roman + marina

June 8, 2015

baby portraits // livelovesimple.com

baby portraits // livelovesimple.com

“Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.” –Hafiz

It’s been a crazy couple of months, friends. Over the past few weeks, Marina’s crying has gone from bad to worse. Despite her pediatrician repeatedly telling me that — “She’s healthy, just colicky” — my gut has been telling me something different. I strongly suspect that Marina has silent reflex. After multiple unsuccessful attempts to help her by changing my diet, we’ve decided to try her on a medication for reflux.

It’s been a painstaking time and we didn’t make this decision lightly. In case you hadn’t guessed it, I’m not a pharmaceuticals person. I’ll try every natural remedy in the book before resorting to a chemical medicine. However, I can’t stand to see my baby suffering anymore. It’s gotten really bad. We’re almost at three months now and she still screams for hours every day. It takes all of my energy to calm her down and sometimes nothing will soothe her. She shows all of the typical symptoms of reflux — she screams, arches her back, makes a sour face, goes hysterical when you try to lay her flat, and so on. But because she doesn’t vomit after most feedings and because she is gaining weight extremely well, the pediatrician didn’t think it was reflux. However, both of those things can be explained. Many babies with reflux do not vomit because the acid comes up and then goes back down — causing double pain. Also, many babies with reflux gain weight well because they feed (sometimes excessively) to soothe the burning.

We knew that we had to try something else. After exhausting almost all of the options in front of us, we found ourselves with two choices: trying to give her a dairy-free, sensitive formula or trying medication. I deeply want to continue exclusively breastfeeding her if possible, and that is how we ended up deciding on the medicine. We just started it yesterday and are hopeful that we will see some improvement very soon.

In other news, we’re all enjoying the end of spring and the beginning of summer. When Marina is not screaming, her sweet personality is really starting to shine through. She just loves attention! If we sit and talk to her, she will smile, coo, and even giggle. It’s the sweetest thing. She still loves her big brother desperately and he loves her right back. He has settled so beautifully into his role as big brother, just as I knew he would. I don’t know what I would ever do without him. He brings light, joy, and laughter to even our most difficult of days.

You can’t see it too well in these photographs, but Marina’s eyes are blue! When she was born we thought for certain that she would have dark eyes & dark hair, but as time passes, her eyes continue to get lighter and bluer every day. Her eyes can still change color. Most sources say that a baby’s eyes can continue to change significantly up until six months, but so far it’s looking like we’ll have another blue-eyed baby! It’s pretty surprising to us, as M. and I both have hazel/brown eyes, but there are lots of blue eyes in our families and Roman’s are as blue as they come.

I hope you’ll enjoy these photographs of my sweet babes. I’m so grateful to be their mama.

baby portraits // livelovesimple.com

baby portraits // livelovesimple.com

baby portraits // livelovesimple.com

baby portraits // livelovesimple.com

baby portraits // livelovesimple.com

baby portraits // livelovesimple.com

baby portraits // livelovesimple.com

baby portraits // livelovesimple.com

Happy Monday, friends. I hope that your week is off to a beautiful start. If you are so inclined, I would truly appreciate your prayers that we may find a resolution to Marina’s issues ASAP. Many, many thanks. xo


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