Intro to (My) Instagram {pretty, happy, funny, real} (Vol. 20)

It’s been forever since I’ve participated in {pretty, happy, funny, real} and I finally (accidentally) opened an Instagram account a couple of months ago, so I thought I’d do a quick {phfr} of some of my favorite Instagram pics so far. Mostly {pretty}, because ohmygosh – I’m a little obsessed with this girl:

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I really don’t know what I’m doing with Instagram (not that I necessarily know what I’m doing with Facebook either), but it seems like a good avenue for sharing the glut of photos that make me smile. I’m always wary of over-sharing such things on Facebook (surprising news to my FB friends, as I already share quite a lot), but I figure that if people didn’t want to see pretty pics, they wouldn’t be on Instagram! So anyway, my Instagram account will include pretty-ish pics of my children and our beautiful old house. If that interests you, follow along!


Baby girl is almost four months old and we are totally living that cliché: We have no idea where the time has gone, yet we have no idea how we ever lived without her. I’m biased, but she is so sweet and lovely and such a “good” baby that Brennan and I are sort of shaking our heads in wonder. What a blessing this child is to our family.

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Bonus {pretty} — flowers and a long-lashed, curly-headed boy:

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Prep for baby’s baptism party.

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If that {pretty} wasn’t {happy} enough for you, well then let me just show you some more:

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Big Brother made a cow for Little Brother, who really just wants the tape off-camera.


And then there’s the {real}. I usually go kind of negative on this one, but this round I’ll just show you some snapshots of our everyday life – a beautiful kind of reality.

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The first time this table was clear of clutter in months. Literally.

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Well now, I believe this post officially qualifies as overkill. I hope that if you enjoyed the photos you’ll join me over at Instagram. And if it’s not your thing… don’t worry, I need only introduce you to my Instagram account once. Back to wordiness next time. (Speaking of which, did you see yesterday’s post on social media and how I kind of love it even though hating it seems to be en vogue?)

Enjoy the end of your week, all! And if you’re in this part of the world, ENJOY this long-awaited sunshine and warmth. May. it. last.

Please pop on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {pretty, happy, funny, real}.


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Spring and Baby Toes Are Good For the Soul: 7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 40)


All I can think about these days is blogging. Every time my mind wanders, that’s where it goes. Ideas, phrases, revisions, revisits… I feel like a dieting person who can’t stop thinking about steak. I can’t tell whether this is a nudge to find some solution to my current logistical hurdles (i.e. all the little children, all the time), or an unhealthy obsession. It’s probably the latter.


Speaking of unhealthy obsessions, I had such an election-day hangover on Wednesday. Whoo-wee, was I in a funk. Mostly because of Trump’s growing number of delegates and Rubio’s exit from the race, but also because too few people viewed my post and told me how right I was.

I just can’t describe how much this Donald Trump thing is bothering me. I honestly think his election, should it come to pass (please Lord, no) would be second only to September 11th in the ranking of Worst Things I’ve Ever Lived Through. Every time I think about it my blood pressure skyrockets.


So it is a DARNED GOOD THING that spring is beginning to make itself obvious. We’ve had such nice weather lately and I’ve been trying to overcome my homebody tendencies to take advantage of it.

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I’m getting really eager for summer.


Another good thing? This girl. My, how I love her.


With each of my other babies, I experienced periods of resentment during the newborn period. (Can I say that?) No, beloved boys who might one day read this – the resentment had nothing to do with you. I’m totally chalking it up to hormones, to those lovely baby blues. But this time I haven’t experienced them at all. (I have felt right on the edge of them, if that makes any sense, but I haven’t actually crossed over.) And it has been so, so nice to be able to look at my baby in full confidence that I’ll just feel love, not a mixed-up combination of love, dread, love, sadness, love, guilt, and love. (Did I mention love enough times there, boys? Because the love was always there too, right alongside the dread.)


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I made shepherd’s pie and Irish soda bread for dinner last night. I was proud of myself.

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Oh – and green cookies, which didn’t come out of the oven until 8:30 pm, so I was all, “Hurry, hurry boys! Eat those cookies quickly so we can brush your teeth!”

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(See, I’m such a bad blogger I didn’t even bother to make that picture all pretty-like. Nope, just a quick snap of yesterday’s cookies in a plastic storage bowl.) I got the recipe (to which I added lots of green food coloring) from an infinitely better blogger.


Oh, hey, I made a couple of flower arrangements recently for my mom and grandmom’s birthdays. I’m proud of myself for them too. Totally worth staying up until 2am.

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On a more serious note, those of you who have been reading for some time (or who are friends or family) might know that my mother-in-law has been living with us for a couple of years.

Well, almost exactly two years after she moved in, Hilde is getting ready to leave. It just wasn’t working. I would appreciate any prayers you could offer over the next couple of weeks that the transition goes smoothly for all involved. Vielen Dank.


Baby toes. Aren’t baby toes a great cure for what ails you?

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Well, I’m off to my favorite two hours of the week: Diane Rehm’s Friday News Round-Up. Let’s hope I can keep my blood pressure down.


Have a great weekend, everyone. Be sure to stop over to Kelly’s to check out all the other Quick Takes!

These Walls - Spring and Baby Toes Are Good For the Soul (7QT40)

Sweet, Sweet Progress: {pretty, happy, funny, real} Vol. 12

I thought I’d take a brief break from the land of Making-Preparations-For-The-Impending-Arrival-Of- Mother-In-Law-And-New-Baby to sit down and type out a little progress report on that whole thing and a couple of others.

The good news is that we are, in fact, making progress. And oh, how sweet it feels. There’s nothing like productivity to tamp down the sense of panic rising in my chest.

We found out about the change in Brennan’s mom’s move-in date (from the end of May to the end of March) the weekend before last. At the time, our house was pretty much a wreck. The future nursery was so full of stuff that you could barely walk through it (which was problematic, as you have to pass through the room to get from one end of our second floor to the other). Our bedroom was overflowing with baskets of clean, unfolded laundry and my (absurdly large) handy-dandy laundry sorting unit was overflowing with heaps of dirty laundry. Our long-dead Christmas tree was still up and mostly decorated. And the rest of our main floor was also decked with dusty Christmas décor.

But now…


Look! Nothing Christmasy! This room is as ready for spring as I am.


The tree is down and out, its ornaments have been packed and stored, and nearly all the rest of the Christmas stuff has been put away too. Thank goodness. How good for the spirit, to not be constantly dragged down by seasonally-inappropriate reminders of just how behind you are.


Our Room O’ Junk has been turned into… a room o’ less junk. In just over a week, it (the future nursery, that is) went from this:


To this:


Laundry has been washed and folded and put away, too-small children’s clothing has been sorted, baby clothes have been pulled out (still awaiting their own turn in the washer), items have been removed to their proper places, (some) papers have been gone through, and (most of) our baby gear has been stacked in one corner of the room. I’ve got a couple more days to finish clearing out the space before Brennan’s buddy comes over this weekend to help him shuffle furniture between four different rooms on three different floors, and the garage.

Speaking of help… though I really, truly didn’t intend my last post to be interpreted as a plea for help (I meant it more like a, “Hey, people to whom I write about my life, guess what BIG things are going on in it right now?”), several dear friends offered help anyway. Krista and Mary and lovely, non-blogging others offered to occupy the boys so I could get things done. Betsy watched my two-year-old (yet again!) while I helped at my three-year-old’s preschool – and she even did my dishes. Another friend brought us lunch and carried heavy, bulky things up and down the stairs for me. She and others will take care of the boys during my slew of upcoming doctors’ appointments. And yet more folks will help us with the grunt work of moving things around before and after Brennan’s mom arrives.

These people are wonderful.

I admit that receiving so many offers of help makes me feel a little awkward and uncomfortable. It’s humbling. But it also fills me with so much gratitude. The fact is, I really am tired. And we really could use the help. When I offer help to others, it’s because I really want to help them. I’m genuine in my offers and I want them to be accepted. So I figure I should assume the same of others. (Note: Never offer me help just to be polite. Ha!)

I am so happy to be part of a family and a community of friends who don’t hesitate to lend a hand when one is needed. Thank you, thank you, thank you, dear ones.



This is the antique dresser we bought the same weekend as the boys’ beds. Due to Brennan’s mom’s impending move, we’ve had to rethink a lot of furniture placement in the house. One of the funny (but really, very happy to me) results was to put what was to be the boys’ dresser in the dining room. (To which I say “Yay! It looks so pretty in this room! And Yay! Storage for dining room linens! And YAY! A non-plastic surface off of which to serve food!”)

The dresser’s marble top has been sitting upstairs in the Room O’ Junk ever since we bought it. I’ve been asking Brennan to bring it downstairs so I can just check this room off my list, already, but he doesn’t seem to think the task is anything near a priority. So the other day, I set this lamp on (in?) the dresser, hoping B would get the hint.

I think I’m going to have to just ask again.



It’s all how you look at it, isn’t it? I still have so, so much to do.

{more progress, more phfr}

There has been progress on other fronts too. For one, there’s this very pretty, very happy little scene:


How could I help but include it? I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see crocuses in my life. I’ve certainly never before waited on spring with such anticipation. This week we had days in the 60’s and even the low 70’s. I don’t care that today was blustery and back into the 30’s. Progress is progress!

Of course, there’s also the pregnancy. Here’s my latest belly pic – 35 weeks, taken last Sunday after mass.


Besides the obvious size and weight progression, I’m really starting to feel like I’m getting close. I feel good,* but close. At yesterday’s ob appointment, my doctor reviewed my most recent sono results (big ol’ baby), noted the (big ol’) size of my last baby, and said that as long as I’m sufficiently dilated, they’ll plan to induce me at 39 weeks.

Exciting stuff! (I’m totally fine with an induction. I needed Pitocin for both of my boys and did just fine with it. I honestly won’t know what to do with myself if contractions begin on their own this time around.) Also – ACK! I’ll be 36 weeks tomorrow, so I’m facing the real likelihood that I’ll be having this baby within the next three weeks, or thereabouts.

Between Hilde’s arrival in just over a week and that news from my ob, this is all starting to feel very… real.

*I think it’s funny that I’m still feeling (mostly) so comfortable this go-round. Though my weight is tracking right where it did with the other two pregnancies, and though I popped out very quickly this time, I feel like my expansion has slowed recently. Or at the very least, I must be carrying this baby and much of my weight differently than I did with the other two, because I just don’t feel as large. I can turn over in bed, I can sit comfortably, I can (even 50 pounds up from my wedding-day weight) still wear my wedding rings, I can cross my legs, and (this is the real kicker) I can still breathe. I swear, this still-breathing-normally-at-36-weeks thing is just… amazing… liberating… wonderful.

Thank goodness. It’s hard enough slogging through most of your random, pushed-aside possessions while you’re dragged down by fatigue. What a relief that my body is otherwise cooperating!

Okay, that’s enough from me. Head over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for other, less rambling looks at the {pretty, happy, funny, real} this week had to offer. And take care!

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Let’s Just Pretend…

Let’s just pretend, shall we, that the week ahead will not look like this:



Rather, let’s imagine that March actually means Spring, and that the following will be waiting for us tomorrow when we open our doors:











I can almost feel it, smell it, hear it, can’t you? Open windows, warm breezes… shoots breaking through the dirt… blossoms on the trees… hyacinth, tulips, lilacs… the smell of new, damp grass… the sound of little children laughing outside (as in, NOT cooped up indoors)…

It’s it amazing?

Let’s just hold on to those images for a bit. Maybe they’ll help keep us warm.


This is post six of the 7 Posts in 7 Days challenge at Conversion Diary. Stop there to check out the hundreds of other bloggers who are also participating.

Spring Teases: {pretty, happy, funny, real} Vol. 11


Do you see the beehive there in the background? Our packages of new bees (we lost our colony in the move) will arrive in April!

See the beehive there in the background? Our packages of new bees (we lost our colony in the move) will arrive in April!


We had a taste of spring this past weekend, and oh, my, how {pretty} it was. Bright blue skies, warm sunshine, buds on the lilac bushes, an old birds’ nest peeking through the branches, and soft, wet grass squishing beneath your feet… Be still, my heart.


Excuse the oh-so-professional finger in the way.

Excuse the oh-so-professional finger in the way.


Of course our boys took great advantage of the weather, first by digging in leftover piles of snow (with no coats on! what a wonderful sight!), then by moving our driveway gravel from one pile to another. (Over and over and over…) My three-year-old made a little grouping of rocks and leaves next to my perch on the wall and said, “Dese are for my cowection, Mommy! Dey’re you and me.” So of course his little brother had to toss a few rocks on my other side, and declare “Wection!”

I was so {happy} to see my boys running, running, running as much as they liked, moving rocks, jumping in what was left of the snow, just busy being boys. And I delighted in seeing how happy they were, those bright eyes and smiling faces telling me more than anything they could articulate.





I told you in last week’s {phfr} that my husband has been busy painting the boys’ room. Well, since the job ended up taking two full weekends and because the paint fumes have been so bad, we’ve had the boys set up on the family room sofas for a little extended sleepover. Fortunately, they’ve done very well with the change. (It’s not like they’re not used to falling asleep on the sofas all the time anyway!) But I think our poor little three-year-old is confused. Between all the talk of baby coming and room painting and big-boy-bed fixing, the other night when I was getting him ready for “bed” he sat on his made-up-for-bedtime sofa and asked me, “Mommy, is dis my new bed?”


As it is wont to do, the weather has turned. The past few days have been cold and blustery. So we’ve retreated back into the house. My fatigue (not to mention my, ahem, commitment to Conversion Diary’s 7 Posts in 7 Days challenge) has had me laying even lower than usual, leaving the boys mostly to their own devices. They’ve been handling the situation well, (mostly) playing nicely and not whining too much, considering. I’ve tried to inject a few fun things into this {real} time of too-yucky-outside-to-play and mommy-feeling-very-pregnant. Thankfully, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well we’re getting through it all.

I made the boys a big fort, which I think the three-year-old said was "tewwific!"

I made the boys a big fort, which I think the three-year-old said was “tewwific!”


They made their own... um... I'm not exactly sure what this is. A path, maybe?

They made their own… um… I’m not exactly sure what this is. A path, maybe?

I even tapped into the creative juices to try to get the boys to eat veggies (and chicken) for dinner, a la the "Caveman."

I even tapped into the creative juices to try to get the boys to eat their veggies (and chicken) for dinner, a la the “Caveman.”

At least one of them enjoyed it!

At least one of them enjoyed it!

Don’t forget to stop over to Like Mother, Like Daughter to see lots more lovely {pretty, happy, funny, real} contentment photos this week. And if you’re visiting here from LMLD, check out my other posts (so far) this week for Conversion Diary’s 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge:

The Little Things
Crime and Punishment and Moving On
The Best Possible Mugging

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Big Babies, A Child’s Innocence, Race, War, and Spring: 7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 25)

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!


Giganto Baby #3

Because my due date is one whole day after my 35th birthday, I get to be classified with that lovely “Advanced Maternal Age” label for the whole of this pregnancy. (Seriously! One day!) The burdens/bonuses (depending how you look at it) of the AMA label include a handful of extra sonograms. I had one yesterday.

As I knew they would, the technician and doctor found that my baby is ginormous. At 32 weeks gestation, the kiddo is already estimated to weigh 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Now, I know that sonos can be well off when it comes to weight, but I’m inclined to believe this one: (1) because the estimate jives with the weights of my other two giganto babies, (2) because – just like my previous two pregnancies – my uterus has been consistently measuring ahead, and (3) because the sono estimates for my other two boys were both spot-on.

So, surprise, surprise, it looks like I’m in for another big one. Which is unlikely, of course, to be surprising at all to anyone who has had the honor/burden of lifting my 30-pound two-year-old or my 40-pound three-year-old.

Just… please, Lord, let me be able to deliver this kid safely! My second son, who came ten days early and weighed in at 8 pounds, 15 ounces, got stuck on his way out. We had a scary few minutes there when his heart rate was dropping and everyone was scrambling to get him out as soon! as! possible! If he had been any larger, I’m not sure we would have had such a good outcome.

So, Baby Boy, how about if, when you get to 8 and a half pounds or so, you decide that you’re ready to just come on out to play? I promise it’s nice out here. And I know a couple of other big boys who will be eager to meet you!

Giganto Baby #2 (Can't find one of #1 at the moment!)

Giganto Baby #2 (Can’t find one of #1 at the moment!)


Corresponding Giganto Belly

Just shy of 33 weeks

Just shy of 33 weeks. Excuse the blurriness — really old mirror and really inadequate camera on my Android.


Open Mind of a Child

My friend Krista, whom I’ve mentioned before, wrote a lovely blog post yesterday on her recent visit to the pool with her five-year-old daughter. Her daughter had brought a doll with her, which she proceeded to baptize in the baby pool. Krista writes:

Most of us recognize the story from the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus urges his disciples to bring the children to him, because “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” It is a story that tends to be linked to the idea that what is most valuable in children is their innocence and unworldliness. It seems to imply that children, in their dearth of experience, are better able to absorb the teachings of faith, and indeed of the world around them. I don’t believe that this is a strictly religious way of thinking. There is a common tendency to think of children as blank slates waiting to be written upon.

Children are certainly unworldly. There is necessarily an innocence to the way they approach their world. They have no basis of comparison. They have no prejudice. Their minds are open. They are open, but I don’t think they are waiting, passively, for us to shape them.

If I have learned anything about children and the way they approach life, it is that they do so through constant questioning and experimenting. They are endlessly pushing the boundaries of their universe. And these attributes apply equally to the way they understand faith and the way they process new facts.

When I think of my daughter, who is at that perfectly ripe age when the concepts of faith and fact are just coming within her intellectual grasp, I see nothing passive about her approach to the world. All I see is activity – a dynamic, unrestrained pursuit for more knowledge, a constant pushing and stretching of the limits of her understanding.

I hear her asking why, and no matter how thorough an answer I give, I hear her asking why again. I see her acting out, and re-enacting, what she is learning so that, through interpretation and experience, it becomes a part of who she is.

When I think of the idea that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” I don’t see it as a calling to submissiveness or innocence. I see it as a calling for us to approach faith — and reason — like children do – with flexibility, enthusiasm, ceaseless questioning, and a mind with ever-expanding boundaries. Those are the best things that children have to offer the world, and we adults should not forget that.

It’s a beautiful post, which somehow also includes a totally appropriate reference to… farts. I kid you not. I hope you’ll stop on over to Krista’s to read the rest of it.


Discovering Race

Reading Krista’s post, especially the following words: “Children are certainly unworldly. There is necessarily an innocence to the way they approach their world. They have no basis of comparison. They have no prejudice. Their minds are open.” I was reminded of one of the many half-written posts I’ve got sitting on my computer.

This particular one is on race. That oh-so-touchy, oh-so-important issue that I feel I have to get just right. Despite multiple re-writes and lots of hours, it’s not, yet, just right.

But its beginning, the only part of the piece to stay constant through all my re-writes, is illuminated, I think, by Krista’s words. (To clarify, her words are above. The following are my own.)

Not long ago, my three-year-old son pointed out to me that he and his brother, and me, and his father, all have “the same kind of skin.” We have light skin, he said. The implication being that there are people with skin that is other than ours.

His observation unsettled me a little. Is he so old, already, to be noticing such things?

A moment later, I was pacified by the recollection of reading recently (where did I read it?) that children start noticing race at the age of three. And I gave what I believe to be the appropriate response to his question: “Yes, in our family we all have light skin. Other people have different colors of skin, don’t they? It doesn’t matter, though. People are people. Sometimes our skin just looks a little different.”

Now, I don’t begrudge my son his curiosity or his interest in making observations. I wasn’t unsettled because his brain has registered a range of pigmentation. I was unsettled because with his observation, he’s on the cusp of inheriting the persistent, uncomfortable, even insidious burden of race.

The thought gives me a sinking feeling.

From my perspective – my white, middle-class, somewhat-southern, raised-in-a-diverse-community, now-living-in-a-decidedly-not-diverse-community perspective – I think race continues to divide and define our society more than we’d like to admit.

And I hate that. I hate the division. I hate the definition. I hate the not admitting. I hate that my boys’ background and skin color will place them in a camp that they bear no responsibility for constructing. I hate that the issue continues to hurt so many who likewise bear no responsibility for the camps they find themselves in. I hate that there’s no end in sight.

I know this is a gloomy little excerpt to be throwing in here, but at this point I don’t know when (if ever) I’ll take up the post again. Yet I thought this part of it was worth airing, especially if we’re already taking a moment to consider the world through the innocent, unworldly, unprejudiced, open mind of a child.


Neglect in Sarajevo

This is a fascinating series of photos of the abandoned sites of the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo. It’s at once beautiful and sad and it gives me so much to reflect on.

Stripping away the historical context and the emotion that the context evokes, it’s just plain interesting to see how quickly nature takes back what was once its own. I live in the verdant Mid-Atlantic, where every patch of ground left untended for a short period of time will quickly turn to forest. The tiny backyard at our last, very suburban home, was evidence of that. Too many summers, occupied with graduate school (him), wedding planning (me), or new babies (both of us), we let (first his, then) our little patch of ground revert to its true jungle self. (Our poor neighbors!) Brennan always commented on how surprised his Minnesota family would be to see just how thickly and quickly our little forest grew. I always took secret comfort in it.

As I’ve mentioned before, my family has lived in this part of the country since the early 1600’s. In that span of time, of course, the changes made to the land have been nearly incalculable. Just in my own life, they’ve been obvious. In my grandparents’, they’ve been stunning. As I also mentioned in that post, I’ve mostly made peace with the fact that change happens and one can only control how one reacts to it. It’s better for me to see the good in the changes that have occurred, rather than resent them. But there remains a part of me that is grateful for the speed with which nature takes back its own. I am comforted by the fact that the land my family once worked is still there, hiding behind all the fancy new houses. If we humans were to step aside from it for a while, nature would quietly reassert itself.

Of course, there’s also a very human context to the Sarajevo photos, and that’s much more sobering to ponder. Less than ten years after the 1984 Olympic Games, the city that had been the center of the world’s attention for reasons of sporting excellence and international cooperation went on to capture the world’s attention for reasons far, far worse. From 1992 to 1996, Sarajevo suffered the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. Some 9,500-14,000 people were killed.

I can’t help but look at those pictures of encroaching trees, crumbling concrete, draping vines, and quiet little nooks of moss and think of the human cost that enabled them.


Unrest Today

Today, of course, there are other Sarajevos – cities and towns and countryside in places like Syria, the Central African Republic, Ukraine, Venezuela – where conflict is destroying lives and damaging families and communities. Let us keep the people of such places in prayer.


Spring Comes

I can’t go out on those sad notes. Right now the sun is emerging from the clouds (literally – I’m not trying to be poetic or anything) and the ice is melting. This morning a strange, haunting mist rose off the snow, filling the area with a fog that looked like smoke rising from fields and hollows. Yesterday morning everything was white; this afternoon we see grass and ivy and dirt. Soon, I know (I hope?) we’ll see green shoots making their way up. I am so ready for spring this year. (As I imagine most people in the eastern half of the country are!) We might not be there just yet, but Spring is coming. It is.


Thanks, as always, to Jen for hosting 7 Quick Takes Friday. Stop on over to see the rest!