Merry Christmas and Happy new year to you all.  Here are some great E moments from the last few months of 2008:









Hiking with good friends in October













Thanksgiving Day









With Grandpa on Thanksgiving



Hanging out with the cousins in Phoenix















First time swinging on a playground











E and me on Christmas day in Phoenix










At the airport, waiting to head home


squirrelOkay, totally random, but seriously?  Apparently the squirrels in our area are well fed.

Many blessings to you all in 2009!


Feel free to skip to pictures of E below or continue on, but beware of the rant… So, for one reason or another (exchange at LL Bean, E baptism outfit, introducing E to the indoor play area), I have been to Tysons Corner Center three times in as many weeks.  For those of you not familiar with the DC area, Tysons Corner is pretty much the center of upper-middle class economic boom, and recession or not, Tysons patrons were out en masse in their BMWs and Land Rovers during each of my visits.

First, my confession: every year for the past several years I have TALKED a big game about the true meaning of Christmas and the importance of celebrating Advent and every year without fail I have still been seduced by all of the shiny new junk.  I have been cursed in that my first “love language” is gifts.  I have determined that it’s not so much a love language as it is, very simply, a selfish longing for stuff.  Dare I speak too soon, but I do believe that my visits to Tysons this year may be my first real step toward a cure for my “love language.”

Now, for today’s visit: since we went mainly to check out the indoor play area, we went there first.  It was very busy with mostly first-walkers and toddlers running about like so many wild monkeys in the jungle.  I sat E down and knelt two feet away beckoning him to come toward me.  He looked around to his left and to his right.  He stared.  Then he looked at me – the ends of his mouth turned downward, his chin quivering – and started to cry.  Over stimulation.  I decided we would stroll around a bit instead and maybe check out the pie plate I’ve been lusting over at Williams-Sonoma.  As we walked around, I started to feel like E in the play area. Why do I want all of this shiny new junk and what exactly does it have to do with Christmas?

Nothing.  It has nothing to do with Christmas.  

Having E has magnified for both Lane and I just how materialistic we are and how much that increases around this time of year.  We want to change and we want E to grow up celebrating Advent and waiting in great anticipation to celebrate the birth of the only real Love and true Hope that the world has ever known – not waiting in anticipation of tearing into a great quantity of gifts on Christmas morn. Are we naive new parents?  Is this even possible?  Honestly, I don’t know.  But, it’s got to be worth a try.

I can just hear a few of you now, “oh Janelle, you’re so melodramatic, so you don’t want anything for Christmas then?  And we shouldn’t buy anything for Eli either?” I don’t feel I’m going overboard here.  I’m not saying gifts are bad or evil in and of themselves and no matter how hard I try, I will always love to give gifts and especially receive gifts.  I just feel we lost any sense of balance.  Take the old saying, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”  This is true, but at least in my mind, Jesus is not the reason for Christmas trees or pretty expensive Christmas candles and decorations or a new wardrobe – Jesus has nothing to do with any of these things.  It’s as if there are two separate things being celebrated: the arrival of the Christ child and the arrival of shiny new junk.  We have combined these two celebrations so completely that it’s just so murky and unclear as to what it is we are really celebrating.

I would love to hear from any of you about family traditions that you use to keep Advent and Christmas simple and focused as well as any personal victories you have won by rejecting that shiny new junk you really, really wanted.  I don’t know that I’ve really communicated what is in my head, but certainly I have communicated enough.  Now, for the pictures…











it has been five years (September 20) since we said we did and we still do.  Craig is an amazing, wonderful man; i am continually steadied by his strength and deep roots, and comforted by his gentleness.  we have added to our number since that day and seeing Craig in his new role as a father has deepened my love and respect for him.  at our wedding the priest and our friend, Tim Clayton, quoted a song by the Cowboy Junkies called Anniversary Song.  the song says what i want to say so well.  i love you, my dearest of friends.  i am yours always. 


Anniversary Song
Michael Timmins

Have you ever seen a sight as beautiful
as that of the rain-soaked purple
of the white birch in spring?

Have you ever felt more fresh or wonderful
than on a warm fall night
under a Mackerel sky,
the smell of grapes on the wind?

Well I have known all these things
and the joys that they can bring
And I’ll share them all for a cup of coffee
and to wear your ring

Have you ever had the pleasure of watching
a quiet winter’s snow slowly gathering
like simple moments adding up?

Have you ever satisfied a gut feeling
to follow a dry dirt road that’s beckoning you
to the heart of a shimmering summer’s day?

Well I have known all these things
and the joys that they can bring
And I’ll share them all for a cup of coffee
and to wear your ring

And I don’t know how I survived those days
before I held your hand
Well I never thought that I would be the one
to admit that the moon and the sun
shine so much more brighter when
seen through two pairs of eyes than
when seen through just one

Have you ever seen a sight as beautiful
as a face in a crowd of people
that lights up just for you?

Have you ever felt more fresh or wonderful
as when you wake
by the side of that boy or girl
who has pledged their love to you?

Well I have known all these things
and the joys that they can bring
And now every morning there’s a cup of coffee
and I wear your ring.

I am drawn this morning, as many of us are, back to that strange Tuesday in 2001 when the world as our nation perceived it changed.  My dear friend and former roommate Laura has also posted thoughts this morning.  I had just moved to Arlington, VA from Baltimore in early summer 2001 after securing my first “real” job as a conference coordinator for an economic development non-profit.  In June of that year, the organization moved its office from the lobbying hub of K Street to the backyard of the White House at 15th and Pennsylvania NW.  Fortunately, our annual conference was scheduled that week in Philadelphia and our office in DC had very few people in it.  However, those that did remain faced extremely long walks home to MD and VA; each one made it home safely.

Our morning keynote speaker was just finishing up and I was diligently going from room to room for our morning breakout sessions, looking for speakers and assisting those that were setting up materials and presentations.  A woman, already sitting in one of the rooms took me by the arm and said, “Do you know what has happened?”  “No,” I said, “what is it?”  “A plane has flown into the World Trade Center.”  “Weird,” I said.  And, in total work mode, went on about my tasks.  Within minutes though, the seriousness and darkness of what was happening started sinking in.

My CEO quickly found me, “Have you called your parents?”  “No, I mean, I can’t get through.”  “Well, keep trying.  But, I want you to know that it’s your job to get speakers in these sessions.  We have speakers that were on their way via plane and have been grounded.  Pull board members, pull anyone.  But, get speakers in the breakouts.”  As he walked away, I thought – that man is crazy.  At the end of the day though, I believe he meant well and knew better than I did.  Roughly half of our attendees were, for the remainder of the day and conference, glued to the televisions the hotel had now posted on every floor of the building.  The other 500 or so wanted to continue the day as usual and attended the scheduled sessions.  Everyone responds differently and it was, I now believe, the right thing to do our best to provide the attendees with either option.

Finally, the sessions started and I tried calling my Mom one more time.  It was ringing.  “Hello?”  I could hear some panic in her voice and as I said “Mom,” she sounded like she was relieved and started to cry.  “I’m in Philadelphia, Mom.  I’m okay.”  My parents, thinking I was in DC, were uncertain about the varying reports – the National Mall was burning, there was smoke coming from the White House – that they were really wanting to hear from me, just to be sure I was okay.  If I remember right, my Mom got my Dad on the line and we had a moment to talk.  I remember feeling scared and uncertain.

I had to pull it together though, and managed to finish that strangest of days.  During a previously planned reception that evening, two of our French Canadian board members came up to me and said, “Janelle, you must let us take you to dinner.”  I was relieved to get out of the hotel and so one of our organization’s researchers and I went with the board members to dinner.  It was, oddly, a wonderful dinner.  We had seafood and wine.  We listened to President Bush speak to the nation and joined the other patrons in a collective holding of breath as sirens sped past the open-air restaurant.

In the days that followed, going to work became a new experience.  Our building was part of the “extended perimeter” around the White House.  The streets were closed and instead of cars there were tanks and hummers holding military men and women with large guns, looking constantly around them.  We had to show an ID to get to our building and answer the skeptical questions of a tall, serious, and somewhat intimidating soldier, “Where are you going?  How long will you be there?”  It felt like I was in another country and even though the “extended perimeter” eventually ended and all went basically back to normal, it was really those days following 9/11 that convinced me our country had changed significantly and that it would, in some ways, be different thereafter.

Seven years later, so much has changed both in the world and for me personally.  But this day will always be a day of remembering for me and no doubt for the many individuals who lost loved ones seven years ago and in the years since.  Thanks for letting me remember here.

We have been in our new home for two weeks now.  It seems longer for some reason.  So much has happened since we’ve been here: the conclusion of the olympics, one convention down, our requisite post-move trip to Ikea, our first overnight visitor (Nonny!).  It’s been a busy couple weeks.  

I have also had my first “suburban mom” experience (perhaps this has happened to other mothers/women outside of suburbia, but for some reason, it felt suburban to me).  So, I’m in Trader Joe’s and I drop a glass jar of Mango slices that breaks into many pieces on the floor, spilling the contents into a bona fide mess.  I’ve got E strapped on with the Ergo (neither of us were hurt).  Some nearby shoppers come to ask if we’re alright.  Then, over the store’s loudspeaker I hear, “we have a man down in the grocery aisle.”  Nice.  After making sure no one walks into our mess and waiting briefly for the nice Trader Joe’s staff to come clean up our mess, we grabbed a new jar of sliced Mango and headed to the checkout line.  This is where it gets good.  I alert the cashier to the case of wine underneath the cart so it doesn’t get missed as he scans the items in my cart.  He (a young high school/college-aged surfer looking guy) gives me a cheesy smile and says, “Are you sure you’re 21?”  At first, I sort of chuckled and said, “oh yeah” and was reaching for my ID when it suddenly hit me… he wasn’t asking for my ID.  He was joking.  I was pretty much in shock all the way to the car.  Didn’t only “older women” get this kind of stuff.  I mean, it wasn’t too long ago that I was carded every time I purchased alcohol and all of a sudden I’m getting teased about being older??  <SIGH>  I’m over it now, but in that moment it seemed like a big deal, like I had arrived in a new season of life.

Enough about me.  Our new place is great.  It’s very comfortable, lots of tall leafy trees.  There are great paths and trails that connect everything and we have a community garden in walking distance.  I’m going to look into that because we don’t get enough sunlight in our yard to grow much of anything.  I miss the Oakie House garden!  We have several community pools and parks too that E and I will have fun exploring.  One of the most exciting things is that we’re a little closer to the mountains, which I’m hoping will lead to our first family camping trip and more hiking.

Couldn’t post without some pics of E…

Fast hands.

What what what what what what.



















Big news – E had his first taste of food this week!  For about a month now, he has been watching us eat very intently, opening his mouth to mimic our actions.  He even seemed to get mad at our family reunion when his cousins got a popsicle and he didn’t.  Fun pictures of his first solid food experience are below along with some fun family shots.  We’re also in the middle of packing – we move this Saturday – but, I don’t have any pictures of that.

Practicing as he sees us readying the bowl and spoon.


First bite…


I’m guessing his thoughts here are something along the lines of, “What!?!  Robbed!  This can’t be all the seemingly yummy stuff I see Mom and Dad eating.”  We fed him oat cereal.


First of many food messes.


Showing off his new push-up move as he gets closer and closer to crawling.


Nanook looking at us as if to say, “this aggression will not stand man.”


Nanook does not like her paws to be touched… oh, Nook, your world is about to change.


Oakie house toddler’s fun Harry Potter glasses.


Nanook, no doubt wishing the glasses actually gave her magic powers to transport her to a family where she is the only “child.”


Good times.

So much to say. We’ll start with the star of the show: E. He officially has two teeth – two very sharp teeth – with a lot of biting and putting things in his mouth to prove there are definitely more to come. He makes new noises every day and seems to have discovered his tongue. He has also discovered his toes and they have become his new favorite things to stick in his mouth. It’s kind of gross and funny to watch him lick his own toes. If I haven’t mentioned it before, his toes, well, they stink. You can’t tell him that though, he thinks they’re awesome and apparently, quite tasty. His most notable accomplishment in the last couple of weeks – rolling over. I had hoped to post a video below, but we’re having trouble facilitating a conversation between our computer and our video camera. I’ll definitely post some video of E once these two start talking.

We recently had a wonderful vacation/family reunion in Seattle. It was sunny – no, really, it was – and beautiful. We went to Mt. Rainier National Park which was breathtakingly gorgeous, took a ferry to the San Juan Islands, and hung out in the city which included TWO trips to the fab Cupcake Royale. Yum. We had a great time hanging out with my parents and my brother’s family as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins that we only get to see every few years. I will say that I was a little disappointed that there was no family karaoke, but Seattle offered us sufficient other entertainment.

We are heading for another time of transition (read: we’re moving… again). Our communal living situation has been a fun, interesting, unique, and at times challenging experiment. If I am honest, I would have to say that there was not enough privacy for me. I need more space (I don’t mean square footage) and am finding that when E is sleeping (both napping and down for the night) I seek/need/require quiet. When you live with 5 other adults and children and dog and housemates’ visitors – quiet is rare. I’m not giving up on communal living though. I have come to love these families and am certain that we will continue to enjoy each other’s company for many years to come. Ideally in a communal living situation, each family has their own separate living space (an apartment, condo, or a house on several acres, whatever) but, it is adjacent to other apartments, condos etc. that house other folks with whom you share your daily life. I hope to get back to that one day. Until then, I’m going to try and just be a better neighbor to the strangers around us… I’ll try to let you know how that goes.

Another reason for our move is that Lane works about 40 minutes outside of the city. So, we are for the first time, making a move to the deeper suburbs of DC. We have always lived close in so this will be a lot of change for us. We will look for a new church/community which is the biggest change. There are good changes too – like an uber short commute for Lane, which means less gas, which means less expense, which in these increasingly uncertain economic times can only be a good thing. We need to be out of our house at the end of August and just today heard positively from our future landlord that we can move in!! Details are still up in the air, but we definitely have a place to live!

That’s enough for now. Stay tuned for my ramblings about moving and of course future posts from our new life in suburbia.

Mt. Rainier

Me and E at Mt. Rainier National Park in the Grove of the Patriarchs

What a great week! We have just returned from a wedding weekend in Columbia, SC followed by a week in Charleston with Craig’s Aunt, at the beach etc. Charleston is lovely, the weather was great (a bit hot, but not too bad), and I got a massage!! This was my wonderful husband’s birthday gift for me – both the beach and watching E while I went to the spa. Thirty two-hot-to-handle has started very well indeed.

The car trip down was l o n g… um, how come none of our friends or family with kids every mentioned that babies/kids pretty much DOUBLE the time of a normal road trip?? And the melt down at the end of our 12 hour day was not pretty… E’s melt down, not ours. We recovered quickly thanks to our gracious host, Craig’s Uncle, and enjoyed a beautiful wedding. Then on Sunday, we were off to Charleston for the week. I can’t say enough about the time we had – relaxing, fun, laid back, slow paced, quiet, relaxing (i know i said that already, but it’s worth mentioning twice). Craig’s Aunt allowed us to take over her house for the week while she slept on a couch in her office/studio. We had a really great time hanging with her and had a couple leisurely dinners with her son and his fiance as well. E had his first dip (just a toe) in the ocean and several trips to the beach.

Right. So, our four-month old has a comb-over. There, I said it. So many people have commented on it now that it doesn’t surprise me and I have come to accept his hair issues. I’m really tempted to cut it. Not a lot, just a tiny little trim to clean it up a bit… it’s sort of starting to get in his eyes. Don’t worry, no matter what we do, unless we gave him a total buzz cut, the comb-over will remain for all of you who have come to love it as we have.

E\'s first time sticking his toes in the ocean.
E’s first time sticking his toes in the ocean.

Lane and E chilling under our super-cool sunshade at the beach
Lane and E chilling under our super-cool sunshade at the beach.

Great Aunt P and E
Great Aunt P and E.

Lots of finger chewing lately.  And check out those Sumo-thighs.
Lots of finger chewing lately. And check out those Sumo thighs!

It’s been a busy month. First, let me catch up some of you who have been emailing with questions. Regarding the blog, I will be referring to myself as Jane, to C as Lane and to our son as E. It might not make a bit of difference, but it’s just a tiny safety precaution. I try to update the blog as often as possible, which is turning out to be once or twice per month. “I wanna try harder, I wanna do better,” someday perhaps…

For now, we’ve been up to see and spend a week with Lane’s parents. We had a very restful time and Nonny got to spend lots of time at home with E. We celebrated Nonny and Grandpa’s 40th wedding anniversary – congratulations Nonny and Grandpa – by throwing them a surprise party. They were very surprised and really enjoyed the time with family and friends. After our visit with family, we headed up to Boston for a week of training – well Lane had training; E and I just sort of hung out – shopping, visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum (highly recommend this if you’re ever in Boston), and eating out. Lane and I also had our first “date” out to a restaurant. E slept through the whole thing! And, we were able to spend a very enjoyable evening with a good friend at Harvard. We spent the weekend with friends of Lane’s in Vermont. The weather was beautiful – though, Vermont always seems lovely even in mud season – and it was great to see old friends and introduce E to them. What a fun week and also great to get back home for some much-needed stillness and rest.

Today, E and I took Nanook to the vet. I’m certain it goes without saying, but jaunts like said vet visit are much more challenging with a child. No more “sure, I’ll just run in and get that” trips to the store etc. I’m not complaining, just stating the obvious. I will admit I was nervous about going and envisioned baby-in-carrier screaming with screeching/loud barking dog trying to bite various vet staff while they attempt to examine her. However, my fears were (are you really that surprised) irrational and put to rest. Nanook, though a bit anxious, did great and E was a champ just hanging out and chewing (read: drooling) all over the front of the carrier.

When we got home, we enjoyed some tummy time. I took the opportunity to snap some photos of our lovely boy. He is almost 4 months old!

King of Drool
King of Drool
Look at the concentration...
Look at the concentration…
Success!  Superman!
Success! Superman!