May 24, 2013


I'm lucky enough to have a meeting in Honolulu this week, and I extended my trip a few days to see more of Oahu than just Honolulu. The meeting went well, minus one part where I said, "In the U.S....I mean in the mainland..." Oops! I have major jetlag which is actually not as bad as it sounds. I get to wake up at 5am every day, just in time to walk out to the beach and watch the surfers as the sun rises, or go for an early morning run while it's still cool. Later today, we're headed to the North Shore and hopefully Kailua. I've already eaten myself silly and have totally gotten into the Aloha spirit everyone has here. It exists and it's infectious. I'll share some pictures next week when I'm back! Have a great holiday weekend, my U.S. friends.

May 20, 2013

The sisters and their babies.

And in this post, I present to you "Laura's visit from Minneapolis, and the Many Sad Faces of a Certain Henry George Taylor." We tried, we really did try. And I think with a wild 4 year old boy, his toddler sister, a kind 6 year old, and 3 little babies who like to be on the move (just nearly all of them), we did an okay job. I'd like to see you try to get all these people looking happy and smiley in one photo. No, really, I would really like to see that because then we could have a nice happy photo of all the sisters and their children. Because now we just have this...

Evie takes a little rest from the madness to clear her head. Wish I could be more zen like her. 

The BFFs. Lincoln and Ronan. Too cute.

Finally, we let Henry run around and even eat a few puffs, and look what happened. Cheered right up. I forget that snacks are his happy place (he gets that from his mama).

Getting out of the city

When you realize your child is afraid to walk in the grass and he's never seen a cow in real life, it's time to get out of the city. I love my little city baby, but it was so refreshing to see him toddling through the grass, making animal sounds, and screaming out "TRACTORRRRR!" every time we saw a moving vehicle. It was pretty thrilling for all of us, really.

May 16, 2013

18 months

High time for a proper Henny update!

Official toddler status at 18 months, we made it! We raised a baby and now he is running around and being crazy and charming us to no end. My biggest worries used to be - am I eating well enough to give him some good milk? What if he never crawls? What if he never let's go of my hand and walks on his own?!
Well, of course he let go of my hand, as soon as he was ready. And now I have to force him to hold my hand when we cross the street. And now my biggest worries are: did he eat a vegetable today? Is he growing? Should I be teaching him more things?

Here is what I can tell you about Henry. He is a big sweetheart. He really loves the people in his life, and is very loyal to them in terms of who is allowed to say hello to him and who can pick him up. He loves to be silly and laugh with us. His favorite game is chase! He will giggle to no end, just trying to run away from us, wanting to be scooped up and tickled. He is curious about new things, always looking for a long time to examine and saying "wow!" Since he was born, he has always been an observer and this continues to be true. He takes things slow, waiting until he's sure before he goes bounding off to do something. Which I think makes taking care of him a bit easier. We're not chasing him around too much and he never strays to far from us, most of the time. He has an impressive vocabulary, probably about 100 words, and he's just starting to string words together. "Buh bye....dada" and "thank you.....mama". We are learning to count to 3. I say 1...2...and he says 3! He'll also help me say the alphabet, coming in at G, P, V, and Z. Haha. Evert night before bed, we read his favorite book, I am a Bunny, and he will finish the last word of every sentence. His favorite foods are pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast, bananas, blueberries, blackberries, peas, and sweet potatoes. And of course Annie's cheese bunny crackers, we should buy stock in those. And cookies, obvs.

He's just starting to run, or bounce up and down as he walks faster. He is so good about going to bed (finally!). We give him a bath, read a story or two, then sing a couple songs and put him down in his crib. I'm so proud of us that we figured out a good way to get Henny to sleep. The times we went through! Perilous! He loves anything to do with trucks, airplanes, kitties (he calls them meow's), and water (obsessed with the tea kettle, baths, watering the garden, boiling water on the stove). We go for walks most nights and now if he sees a raised part of the sidewalk (a garden bed or a curb, or brick border, he must walk on it. I think that's a boy thing? He's starting to pretend play. We made eggies in his little frying pan earlier this week and he fed imaginary bites to me, and sometimes we pretend we are dogs and we crawl around and bark and sniff and laugh.

Having a little boy, especially a little Henny boy who is the perfect complement to me and Mark, is the best thing that ever happened to us. It's true what they say - once you have a baby, life is never the same. But apart from a few sleepless nights (ok more than a few!), what they don't really say is life is never better. Ugh. I mean, really, Hen, you've completely stolen our hearts. We love you.

May 12, 2013

Happy mothers day.

Happy mothers day to my mother, the most patient, kind and dedicated woman I know. Taking a week-long trip with someone to a foreign place will always reveal the true nature of a person, and going to Germany with my mom cemented the fact that she is patient, up for an adventure, fun-loving and puts so much trust and faith in me. She really thinks I can do anything, which is why I always call her up when I'm feeling a little down and out. She is the person who can get me feeling like I can do hard things and I am special. Mothers are great. I'm glad to have a good one and I hope I can be as patient and easygoing as she was with me growing up. I have a lot to learn, but lucky to have someone to learn from! Happy mothers day!

May 6, 2013

Today is May 6.

Tomorrow I turn 31, which is extremely auspicious and exciting, given that 31 is a prime number and it feels more stable than some loosey goosey age 30 that can be divided again and again. 31 is going to be a good year, I can feel it.

I loved turning 30. I loved closing the door to my wild and messy 20's. My 20's were a decade of exploration, of figuring out who I was, and boy did I search a lot for myself before settling down to who I am today. My 20's were very fun, interspersed with too much drama, tears, sloppiness, college, grad school, building and building, working towards something I wasn't sure where the end was...and now I am 30. And my first year of my 30's was quite a good one. But I realized a few things, things that I will be working on in this next year.

1. I heard recently that there are two types of people: givers and takers. In relationships, it is great to have both types to balance the needs and desires of both people. And I've realized I am far too much of a taker, and also how great it feels to be a giver. I've really been working on not just giving of my time and talents, but also of myself. I easily shut down and turn inward in many situations, and even when I'm giving to someone, my heart is not always in it. I want to be a giver in year 31, a giver of my heart.

2. I want to wake up early. I have felt defeated by my sleep needs for so long. I get tired, must sleep, and cannot wake up. And everything that is required of me makes me grumpy because darn-it-all I just want to sleep. But I've been experimenting in the past month. One night, Henry woke up at 2AM coughing and couldn't go back to sleep. He was, in fact, wide awake. So instead of fighting it and letting him watch youtube on my phone like I wanted to do, I woke up with him and read some books. We played with a few trucks quietly, and about 20 minutes later, I held him in my arms and sang him back to sleep. It was blissful and peaceful and I fell in love so hard in that moment. What a difference waking up makes. This weekend, I woke up before everyone else and crept downstairs to make pancakes on Sunday morning and banana bread on Monday morning. I love being up early with the morning light pouring through the windows and the crisp cool air flowing in over my toes. Waking up early is my time to drink a cup of tea, read the paper, and get my head on straight before starting the day. I love it.

3. And I say this every year, but I'm going to work my body this year. I want my defined muscles back and I want to get rid of those last 10 pounds of baby weight once and for all. I gained some of it back when I stopped breastfeeding a few months ago and I'm really ready to feel slimmer again.

31 is going to be a good year. I think it will be a year of change, and a year that will require me being a giver, an early riser, and being kind to my body. I think it's going to be a good one.

May 2, 2013

Germany: Marienbrunn or my Ancestral Home

My mom and I went to Germany last month to find out more about our ancestors. We knew they were from a small town outside of Frankfurt, called Marienbrunn. It is so small that we couldn't even find it on googlemaps. We are talking tiny. So without proper directions or an address, we set out to find the old Schwind house, the home of my great-great-great grandfather. With the help of several kind (mostly non-English-speaking) people in the town, we were directed to an old, humble brick home directly across from the church. This was the Schwind house. We couldn't believe our luck! And to top it off, we were able to speak with the older woman who lived next door to the house, and who had memories of her parents speaking of "the Schwind family who used to live next door".  She even had a tiny photo that she had kept all these years from her parents of the family. The old man sitting by himself on the steps in the photo is believed to be a relative. The house has since been sold, as my ancestors left back in the mid-1800's, and the house now functions partly as a barn. A cozy home to about 10 chubby pigs.

We also were able to be introduced (by the older woman neighbor) to a distant relative. A woman whose mother was a Schwind. My mom is now exchanging emails back and forth to find out more about our family history, and we even think she'll be able to provide us with names and birth dates and history going very far back, which is now logged in old church books, buried away in a pile of dust somewhere in the town.

For such a short trip (5 days in Germany and only 2 in this area of our ancestors), we felt very successful and grateful for the help of so many. We visited a nearby Catholic records library and made hundreds of dollars worth of copies of Schwind marriage and birth records. Now to find the time to sift through everything and figure out where our family line begins and ends! It's a daunting task, no doubt.

It felt very powerful to be in the tiny village of my ancestors, and I was immediately impressed that these serene and humble surroundings were not always so. I imagined how they lived and survived in these beautiful and what must have been very hard times. In reading the history of Germany in the mid-1800's, there were famines, recent wars, and resulting lack of work, which is why many emigrated at that time. The strong and providing hills that grew vegetables from the earth, feeding and supporting so many through the centuries, are now dotted with wind turbines and old roofs covered in solar panels. Cars zoom by on the nearby autobahn at speeds near 150 MPH. It is starkly different from days past, yet the people in this town continue to live and work off the land, their strong German constitutions and the beautiful sun-kissed hills as their companions. Knowing that I come from this bloodline, from a hearty stock of devoted and determined villagers, who lived as long as they could in the town until they made a surely heartbreaking decision to leave the home they knew and loved to seek opportunity. I'm grateful for their sacrifices and grateful to even know about their sacrifices. Seeing your family history come to life really is beyond words, and I'm happy my mother and I were able to take this trip.

More photos to come from Munich and Frankfurt...