July Highlights

Being mommy to two is SO HARD! Have I said that before…? I look back on my days with just Zin, and think, “Wow. I had no idea how easy it was when the parent-child ratio was two to one.” Of course, everything was new then, and life went into selfless mode. But, there was still the ability to trade off at restaurants, cookouts, even just at home. With two, it’s more like an even trade, where unless someone locks his or herself in a room, or leaves the house completely, there isn’t any solace.

On the flip side, being a mommy of two is wonderful. We have lots of fun, and the good times are really the best times ever. You get what you give, I suppose.

In the spirit of being a thankful, happy mommy, here are some highlights to the month, meant to catalog our family life, as well as remind me of the good stuff in times of need. 🙂 And, some of these things have absolutely nothing to do with child-rearing, as well they shouldn’t.


Third farm’s a charm. Trying yet another farmshare (a.k.a. “CSA” meaning “Community Supported Agricultre”) this year, we FINALLY got a good one, giving us plentiful rations of their organic crops each week. Not only has the produce been outstanding, it’s also been a great selection in comparison to years past. And, this farm is also great with communication, emailing us each week so we know what to expect. Most CSA’s don’t seem to be very tech-savvy, and it’s understandable considering that your average farmer probably doesn’t spend much time on a computer.

I’ve managed to use 99% of each week’s share, but I’m a little nervous that these weeks are still considered light. Yet I’m excited to try canning, and I’ve become used to pureeing and freezing greens and herbs.

The best part of it is the interest it’s drummed up in Zinnia, hater of all foods green. Yesterday she ate several raw scallions by request. If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is. She doesn’t like everything she tries, but the willingness to try at all is a milestone in the life of a picky eater.

Shrouded in garlic scapes.

Decked Out

We’ve had some good, hot weather this month, and it’s led to a lot of outside time.  Since I work four evenings a week, it’s been a treat to have multiple weekend dinners on the deck. A few in particular are notable:


It’s always hard to find people with kids who are the exact same age as yours. In a few years, it won’t matter, but until they’re around Zinnia’s age, a few months difference can make ALL the difference.  Thus, it was pretty cool when I realized an old friend of mine was back in the area with a lil’ one the same age as Acacia. Of course, it took awhile to get Acacia here, but once she was, we got our kids together a fair amount. It was always hard to catch up whilst trying to keep an eye on them, thus a last-minute evening on the deck with a few brews was truly in order. Funny enough, the original plan was to get the kids ice cream…. but sometimes, you just have to treat yourself. The littles burned the midnight oil, and we all enjoyed the change of pace.


Back in college I had a boyfriend… Well, I had lots of boyfriends, but one in particular that was a “right place, wrong time” kind of situation. We had a great connection, but it just wasn’t aligned in the stars for us to be together. Instead, we maintained that near impossible friendship-with- the-opposite-sex kind of thing. I’m pretty sure we still drove each other crazy, but we somehow managed to be friends despite our falling out. I became his roommate during my senior year, and we had lots of laughs amidst the subdued drama that one could expect out of our situation. Being a bit younger, yet a bit wiser than I, we had this comfortable kind of balance among us that made any wrong-doing instantaneously forgivable – at least, from my perspective! He moved to the west coast years ago, and we didn’t see each other much. So, when I got an invitation to his wedding celebration, I was surprised, and touched.

We had the pleasure of having he and his wife to our house for dinner during their little wedding tour of the country. It truly was a lovely, special evening for me. I felt very happy to see my young, wanderer of a friend in a warming, blissful state as newlywed to his beautiful, intelligent, charming wife. We broke bread, drank wine, caught up. I was left feeling fulfilled through the connection of a past friendship. As much as the passage of time estranges me, I find myself delighting in points of reference, much like the wonderment of an old friend’s recent marriage.

     Thy Friend and Neighbor:

Living in a townhouse community has its ups and downs. There are times we love everything about the zer0-maintainence exterior, and there are times we wish that monthly fee could be put to alternate uses. But, we have been more than lucky in the neighbor department. The abutting units both house lovely families who keep to themselves and apparently have no complaints towards our boisterous offspring and canine. For this, we are fortunate. But, there’s something  extra special about having neighbors who are also good friends. Across the street and up the hill are a family very near and dear to all of us McGowans. With four girls between us (2, 3, 4 and 6), and a good number of similar interests, I never take for granted that we have buddies we can fraternize with AND depend on. We’ve watched each other’s kids, and helped each other move (or catch falling) heavy furniture/appliances. We’ve followed multiple seasons of LOST together, and drank multiple seasons of Sam Adams together, too. As seasoned runners, they’ve taken us novices under wing, and we’ve logged hundreds of miles together. After almost 4 years as friends and neighbors, it’s hard to imagine life without them around. Hence, a fairly common, causal Saturday evening dinner may reckon itself as rather standard, but we revere the experience all the same.

     Like Family:

The girls “Godparents” are friends of ours that are more like family than anything.  While we are all rather different people, we have a longstanding relationship that gives the girls a sense of Aunt and Uncle- super important in our only-child marriage! Thus, when just their “Aunt” came to have grub and a few drinks, it gave me a moment to focus on just how special it is for them to be able to bond. I see a confidant in the making…. and I will happily let her be the judge of what I do and don’t want to know about the girls’ social lives when it comes to that point!  We have friends who come to see us, give the girls a hello and a pat on the head, and patiently wait for bedtime to ensue so we can have desperately needed adult time. But it’s also much needed to have friends that come to see us all, and genuinely want to catch up with us all, not just myself and Patrick. (And, even want to see just the girls once in awhile so we can escape! That’s pretty amazing, too.)

I guess I don’t take pics of my friends… because I don’t have any visuals to accompany this section. I think one of the reasons people take so many shots of their children is due to feeling much less guilty shoving a camera in their offspring’s faces, vs. their comrade’s.

July 4th: Merrimack Fireworks

We decided to make a night of it and go to the M-town fireworks (vs. our local gig), since they have a little fair to walk around before the boomers go off. I’m not sure what was more entertaining: watching my kids run around the fair, or watching my dad fret over the dangers that his grandchildren faced, i.e., bigger kids in the bouncy houses, or the looming thunderstorm that threatened to get them wet. In the end, we had two very impatient children to deal with, yet we’ve trained them well when it comes to loud noises. Not so much as a whimper from either of them, and we were pretty darn close to the spectacle. I’m thinking the daily Ethiopia thunderstorm kept Acacia from being too concerned with the sound of an explosion.

Kitchen Chair Face-lift

Since we bought our kitchen set (the ONLY “new” furniture purchase we’ve ever made other than our couches), I’ve loved everything but the upholstery on the chairs. Ecru-colored fabric seat cushions were a disaster waiting to happen. And, we got these well before children, so I’m fully referring to our own inability to keep white things white, not Zinnia’s and Acacia’s. (However, they didn’t help.) So, after 5 years of talking about wanting to try my hand at reupholstering, I finally did. If staple guns didn’t mangle my hands so badly, I think I’d have found my calling. Something about refurbishing gives me a natural high… so while it may seem odd that this makes it into the list of highlights for the month, for me, it really does!

I took Zinnia with me to Martin’s House of Cloth, and we had a really good time picking out the new chair cushion material. This is when I discovered Zin’s love for shopping. Over and over again, she repeated: “There are just so many, many things to choose from!”

Here’s our well-loved chair beforehand:


And here’s what we chose out of all those things to choose from:


Ethiopian Brothers and Sisters

Acacia shared her hometown, a nanny, and often her crib, with another little boy named Charlie. Charlie’s mom was my very first adoptive family friend in the process. I took pictures of Charlie (then, her son-to-be) during my first trip to Addis,  and I even met her in person in the final weeks of our nail-biting wait to bring Acacia home to the states. This family has relatives in the Boston area, and thus we got to enjoy dinner with them this month while they visited.

Both Charlie’s mom and myself were curious as to if Charlie and Acacia would remember each other. At the initial meet-up, it didn’t really seem so, but by the end of the evening…

Let’s just say it usually takes Acacia a few times of getting together before she’ll let another kid touch her, never mind kiss her. She was in a total comfort zone, and it made me smile for days. It’s pretty cool that Charlie’s Nana is here in New England, for I’m seeing a summer romance well in the works. 🙂 In all seriousness, there are few people in the world that will ever be able to relate to Acacia as closely as Charlie, and I feel so fortunate to have connected with his family in order to keep their friendship alive. He is the sweetest, wildest boy, and has been ultimately blessed with a fantastic mommy, daddy and brother, Timothy. Zinnia and Timothy are only a year apart themselves, and after playing cars with him, she wanted some of her own. At a yardsale this weekend, she honed in on a box of matchboxes, a toy tow-truck, bulldozer, and golf-cart. We’ve already seen hours of enjoyment from our little tomboy. (Thanks, Timothy!)

I Only Drink Vintage

Much like the chair reupholstery, this will seem insignificant, unless you’ve ever drank with us out of the Game Glasses. See, Patrick and I have a strange affinity for vintage glassware, namely tacky, odd glassware. We are consignment and yardsale junkies, and never let a good, gaudy deal pass us by.  One of our favorite road-side scores was a set of “Game” cocktail glasses. A rum and coke always tasted better out of a 70’s era highball with a forest-dwelling buck emblazoned on the side. The best thing about older drinkware is that , with a set, there’s not need for fussy charms or color-coded stirrers.  I loved knowing which drink was mine via the creature on the side of the cup.

One by one, the buck, the bear, the pheasant, and eventually the trout fell victim to a crack or chip. We found ourselves glassless, with poor stand ins, like the ones that said “Truth and Light” in Latin. They held the drink, but they never held our hearts.

TODAY, while dropping off a batch of outgrown kid clothes at one of the local yellow donation bins, Patrick came across the score of the century:

No, we were not above snagging them…and they will be well loved. Only 7 were there, which makes me wonder which car we’re missing.

I call the 1908 Buick!


Somehow, I thought a barbeque was a simpler alternative to throwing Acacia a typical “kid” birthday party. And then I went ahead and complicated things by having a theme. (I just can’t resist a good theme party.) A luau seemed fun and easy since my dad has a cinderblock grill built out by his pond. Thought I’d throw up a few tiki torches and call it good, and then I started getting ideas… like a tiki totem pole…

Thankfully Patrick took Acacia out for the afternoon so I could actually get something done. Then she got back and the painting party of one became a painting party of three. My first experience with Acacia and paint was nightmarish, where she wanted to put it in her hair and got incredibly pissed that this was not okay. A few months older, and she totally got it!

Making “purple.”


And there’s July, in a nutshell. Stay tuned for the highlights of August to see if my Tiki guys are successfully erected!


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