The little big city.

CapitolhillI’ve been thinking lately about the intimate smallness of the big city that we live in.

I’ve lived three places since moving to DC 5 years ago, all of them scattered about Capitol Hill. Maybe it is this commonality, this rather small radius of lodgings and daily sights, this familiarity, that makes the city feel delightfully small. I’ve lived here longer than any one place since high school, and this big city has long felt comfortable and close. Now of course, it feels even smaller, as a whole bunch of our favorite DC people have all clustered our addresses on one several-block stretch of the same road on the edge of Capitol Hill. We walk to each others’ houses, see each other out and about, and enjoy the ease of visiting that I remember as a kid, running back and forth to my friends’ houses.

But it’s more than just that.

Somehow, somewhere over the past couple years, my routines in this city have turned it from a big place teeming with people into a small community that I recognize, even if I don’t know the name behind every face.

I’m talking about the man who dutifully stretches his slackline in the park, morning after morning, occasionally moving it to the sidewalk when it has rained the night before. I’m not sure what he does all day, Slackline Man, but I know that he starts his mornings off with the world’s least impressive tightrope walk in Lincoln Park. And he feels like an important part of my life, because he’s part of my little big city.

I’m talking about the guy who lives down the road and looks every bit the frat boy, but spends hours pruning his meticulous yard, caring for each peony bud and rosebush, making his tiny plot of land perfect. We smile and nod when I pass by, recognizing his superior greenthumb. And he feels like an important part of this neighborhood in this little big city.

I’m talking about the woman who works at the post office, who always holds up the line when I get to the front, reaching across the counter to rub my gigantic stomach and speculate on the baby’s due date and a million other tiny things. I ran into her walking home the other day, and she got to meet James, and it just felt normal to be standing in the rain with this almost-stranger rubbing my stomach and laughing with my husband. And it’s that same feeling you get from old church ladies, the ones who have seen it all and seen you grow, only it’s just my postal worker, a key member of my little big city.

I’m talking about the people I see in the park on a regular basis, recognizing which kids go with which parent, or which dog with which owner. I’m talking about the baristas and barre instructors and servers who I recognize and see out and about. All our routines move like concentric circles, our patterns overlapping and making us all comfortable backdrops in each others’ lives. I wonder if they feel the same way about the pregnant woman they see devotedly getting in all her Fitbit steps in endless laps around the park, pausing to take pictures of the same pretty houses over and over.

Sometimes it feels daunting to think of raising a kid in this city, worlds apart from where either James or I grew up. Worlds apart, but maybe not so different. Maybe there is just a little bit of the small town reality of our childhoods at play in this little big city.

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(PS: Weren’t you just hoping that blog silence meant that baby boy showed up early to surprise and distract us? YEAH- ME TOO. Insert all the “over-it” faced emojis, and the botmoji of the stuffed turkey with the human head, as I have been using those on repeat to communicate my feelings to any texts I get from friends.)

 

 

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Leah.

The last in a string of adorable newborn photos! Also my last photoshoot for the indefinite future, which is kind of exciting. Photography has been such a blessing and a joy over the past years, but I’m slashing and burning commitments to make room for changes to our lives and schedules. It was so fun to end on this note, with Leah and her family, as I have been photographing her sister Clara since she was born. Welcome to the world Leah Isabelle!Leah-98Leah-65Leah-55Leah-63Leah-85Leah-93Leah-75Leah-6Leah-2Leah-15Leah-19Leah-28Leah-33

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For your weekend

unionmarketheartsHappy Fi-yay all. This week had me crashing on the couch way more than anticipated. I blame the gray weather, or the cake I kept eating that sent me into sugar comas, or the baby that is sapping all my energy, or maybe just a total denial of the fact that we are already halfway through May. But in any case, it’s the weekend, and here are some fun links to amuse and distract.

The men are out! Let the bracket research begin! And no- hipster is not a profession.

Why can’t they just put water in the cups?

Everything about this is perfect. I don’t plan on getting The Cut… but I sure do love an oversized glass urn with a single candle.

We finally set up our Ikea crib this week… and I can neither confirm nor deny the truth of this depiction of the process.

Every word of this rings true. I love academia, love my colleagues, and value the diverse opinions that I encounter every day at work. They have rubbed off on me in the best possible way, making me think about aspects of my own beliefs that need clarity, or at least more clarity and compassion in expression. But I also know that, as a conservative Christian in academia, my own brand of diversity is less welcome, or occasionally outright mocked, and that saddens and worries me as I consider my career. I have long wondered if this was open bias on the Left, or longtime failure to communicate on the Right, or maybe a little of both.

I have really struggled to find baby boy clothes that I liked. On the whole, I am not a fan of the aggressive prints and slogans that are splashed across anything ostensibly baby boy. Which explains why I went mildly crazy on Old Navy’s selection of adorable unisex baby clothes. And of course, when I bought them earlier this week they were a mere 35% off, but now they are 40-50% off because we all know that Old Navy basically has a sale every day that ends in y… but only for a “limited time.” Old Navy is also where I got that maternity tank dress that I am wearing under a knotted-t in the above photos- but only after texting all my girlfriends for their opinion of said outfit combo as “Boho bump” over “Frump bump.”

In spite of the endless rain and gloom characterizing DC spring, I am gearing up for summer food, which means that all I want is panzanella salad… anyone have an amazing recipe for it that they are dying to share?

And no link for this one, but I am STOKED about doing 4 loads of laundry today because it means I can justify watching The Good Wife finale as I fold. I have worked really hard to avoid spoilers, but I am DYING to finish strong with Alicia and crew!

[Photos from an outing this week to Union Market, home of the District’s most Instagrammed wall. Because why bother taking shots in front of amazing monuments when you could pose with a giant wall of Lisa Frank sloppy painted hearts???]

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Ava Grace.

I’ve been squeezing in a couple last shoots before this baby comes, and every newborn session I do with friends makes me really excited for our own squishy little baby to come. We had joked for awhile that we wanted to have kids at the same time as our friends Stephen and Les, but I wasn’t sure if it would actually happen. But then it did! With due dates exactly 2 months apart, and their girl coming a tad late, we are thrilled to have kids close in age with some of our closest friends. Ava Grace, you have pretty great parents and we are pretty excited that you are here. AvaGrace-1Untitled-1AvaGrace-52AvaGrace-17AvaGrace-28AvaGrace-33AvaGrace-26AvaGrace-72AvaGrace-63AvaGrace-60AvaGrace-41AvaGrace-75AvaGrace-82

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5 things.

Last week had some rough bits, like finding out our bikes were stolen, dealing with plumbing issues, sorting out complicated paperwork, and all sorts of frustrating setbacks on a million tiny things. But instead of blogging about that heap of mundane annoyances, here are 5 quick things making me happy these days.

Today I am thankful for…

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#classact

The girls weekend I had with my sister-in-law and soon-to-be sister-in-law. We hit a barre class, brunched like champions, analyzed every dress in the mall, and generally confirmed my belief that the only thing better than growing up with brothers, is when they marry awesome women.

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Four babes at Barre!

The fact that my bridesmaid’s dress fits. GLORY. When we ordered it in December, it was a wild guess as to what would fit at 39 weeks pregnant. I picked it up Friday and I think there is just enough room for me to squeeze myself in after a couple more weeks of growing this baby. I am hopeful about channeling this:wenn3230852

…instead of this:jabba-2-e1428186980665-1

Smoothies. I was never much of a smoothie person, but now I want them all the time. A banana, some frozen fruit, a handful of spinach, a quick plunge of the immersion blender, and MAGIC. Breakfast. Or snack. Or dessert.

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Breakfast of champions, complete with cute-yet-ineffective straw.

The individual slices of cake that the grocery story sells. Ok, a less healthy note than the smoothie one, but more healthy than me eating an entire cake by myself- something that seems 100% feasible at this point in my cake cravings.

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I have no picture of the cake, in all its plastic-carton, bright yellow, gross-frosting glory. But I am also thankful for farm-to-tacos from Chaia, but I couldn’t have this whole list be about food. But for real y’all – those tacos. I’m a little obsessed. Also obsessed with the phrase “farm to taco,” a phrase that simply must be accompanied with artistic succulent placement.

Leggings that fit. My mother-in-law sent me a Mother’s Day package with the coziest leggings ever and there is a strong chance I will wear nothing else for the remaining 4 weeks that this kid is supposed to stay in. He is measuring quite large and I feel it in every corner of my body, hence the dire need for stretch and comfort in every decision. [Insert all the terrified emojis to express how I felt when the otherwise kind doctor started estimating his large birth size.]

Hope that your weeks are giving you lots to be thankful for!

 

 

 

 

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Livia.

Dunhams-1Dunhams-25Dunhams-26Dunhams-4Dunhams-31Dunhams-21Dunhams-33Dunhams-36Dunhams-46Dunhams-63Dunhams-59Dunhams-57Dunhams-72Dunhams-76Dunhams-79Dunhams-80Dunhams-89Finally made it to take newborn photos of baby Livia! It only took a couple month after she was actually born. I love looking at these pictures and remembering Mollie’s newborn shoot a couple years ago. That little baby has grown into one fun toddler, and I have no doubt that she will be the best big sister!

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35 weeks.

35 weeks-1I used to wonder why everyone did the humorously mysterious “gaze-down and let hair fall to inspect bump” pic. But now, at 35 weeks, I totally get it. My chin has recently started carrying the long lost twin to my womb baby and I just don’t mind if I do hide that behind a veil of hair/braid/weather inappropriate neck scarf/etc. I know you were just dying for that every 5 week post dedicated solely to pregnancy happenings (versus the normal tenor of the blog where I almost never even bring up this bundle of love- ha), so here it is.

35 weeks! As in, baby is coming SOON! As in, I’m kind of over being pregnant, but still not really prepared. We have lengthy to-do lists for these last weeks, but somehow they usually get ignored for more time in bed or trying to finish the last season of The Office. We have also officially reached the point where I just feel pretty uncomfortable. Last week I was in the middle of a 7 mile run (with walk breaks mind you – those started around 30 weeks and have been lengthening), and at one point I just stopped abruptly and announced to my running partner that I was done. Not with this run, but with running- period. The slamming of this kid into my pelvic girdle had just become too much and I was over it. Last night I was moaning to James about how everything just kind of hurts and he nobly asked what he could do to help, imagining grand sacrifices. Nope. What I need is someone to pick up my pen when I drop it, or retrieve the remote when I am settled in the couch and it falls to the floor, or tie my shoes, or do any and all mundane tasks that involve bending over. And really, all I want is cake. Cake in the morning, cake in the evening, cake all the time.

But on the plus side, this kid now moves so aggressively that we can see it on the outside of my stomach, which is both super fascinating, and the most disturbing thing ever.

As the due date grows nearer, I also started experiencing new waves of fear. Birth fear, like what happens if something goes wrong, and practical fear, like how on earth is he supposed to find more room in there to grow over the next five weeks. But also fear about this deeply flawed world that he is entering. It is not the world I want for him. It is a world where wrong usually wins, evil cloaks itself as good, and lies are everywhere. As I get closer and closer to holding him, I pray harder and harder that he enters this world with a spirit that can discern truth. Yes, parents teach and instruct, but I am praying for a little soul blessed with discernment beyond what I have, what I am capable of imparting.

I want him to know truth and be able to sort through all the lies he will hear throughout his life. When our culture lies to him, telling him that masculinity is a divine right to oppress and marginalize those weaker than him, I want him to know the truth. When politicians and our government lie to him, spewing hatred and falsehood, I want him to know the truth. When our society lies to him, telling him that work is worthless and that he is entitled to anything he wants without sacrifice, I want him to know the truth. When his peers  lie to him, telling him that he is more if he can make others seem less, I want him to know the truth. When the church lies to him, manipulating God and scripture to say what we want it to say, I want him to know the truth. And when I lie to him, letting my own fears and insecurity seep into what I say and do, I want him to know the truth. I want him to have a spirit that can see through the lies that we all tell, all spread, all believe everyday. I want so much more for him too, so many big dreams and happy days. I pray for lots of things, from the friends he will make to what school to choose one day to desperate prayers that his shoulders and head be nice and small when I have to actually push him out.  But if I had to pick just one thing, this would be my single prayer: that this child has eyes to see truth, discernment to choose it, and strength to do what it demands. 35 weeks7

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