Sunday, July 20, 2008

Julia and GG

We spent the morning at the beach yesterday for Julia's 4th birthday party. We had a fanstastic time, got great turnout, and even saw a pod of WHALES go by! There are tons of amazing pictures of all the fun. So many that I'm going to have to share them via shutterfly, or load a slideshow or something. But I'll put a few up here on the blog too, starting with this one of Julia and Jay. We were very glad GG was able to join us at the beach. And I must say she looked fabulous in her red sweater. Here's the birthday girl (complete with princess tiara) and her beautiful Great Grandmother on a driftwood log at the beach:
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday to Julia!

Julia is FOUR!

Today was such a fun day. It started with the opening of just one gift in the morning from Nana and Grumps, this darling ballet outfit complete with tiara. She LOVES it and wore it all day long.

This evening after Jeff and I got home from work, we gave her the "big gift", a brand new big girl bike. Here she is giving it a whirl around the driveway. Excited hardly describes it.

Here is the birthday girl with her cake. She put the candles in herself, with a little help from Andrew who added a 5th candle (one to grow on?!) The cake, per her request, was chocolate with pink icing and strawberries on top.

Andrew really enjoyed the cake too.

Today was just the beginning of a series of birthday related events. Tomorrow Benne and Grandpa come over to celebrate and, and then on Saturday we are meeting a bunch of Julia's friends at the beach for a Cinderalla Birthday Beach Bash. Turning four is the best!
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Me and Maggie


Here she is, my new neice Maggie! Tiny and cute as a button. She was 4 days old in this picture (last Saturday.) So special to be able to hold a baby so young. Welcome to the family little Maggie!
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

New pictures of the kids

I've been posting everything but pictures of the kids these days, an unusual run for me. So, back to the roots of this blog. Here are some cute pictures Jeff took of the kids recently.



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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Maggie arrived today!

It has been a very happy day today for our family! Andrea and Craig welcomed a new baby girl into the family. She is absolutely adorable. Her name is Marguerite, or Maggie for short. (My middle name is Marguerite, and I am quite proud and pleased to have such a special connection to my new niece. )

I was very lucky to have been in the hospital when she was born, and so I got to meet her when she was less than a half an hour old. She weighs only 5 pounds, 13 ounces, which is really quite small. Very very small. She is perfect and completely adorable. Big blue eyes.

Andrea is doing very well. I spoke to her again this evening over the phone and she sounded in great spirits. She's floating on cloud nine.

I am also very proud to report that I was the first to change little Maggie's diaper, which was a messy, sticky treat. (Actually it wasn't technically a diaper change, since she wasn't even wearing a diaper, she was that new. So I cleaned her up and put on her very first diaper. The first diaper of a nearly continuous string for 3 or so years...!) Those tiny little arms and legs were flailing about, and she didn't like it one bit. Those newborn diapers are sure tiny. And believe it or not, it seemed big on little Maggie. How quickly we know she will grow.

I feel very privileged to be part of this special day for Maggie, Andrea and Craig. Congratulations to them, and a very warm welcome to Maggie!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Landscaping Inspiration

I'm testing a new way of showing a slideshow, this time through Picassa WebAlbums. How do you like this compared to Pictobrowser?

These pictures are from my friend Kristin's house. I love how she created texture on the ground with the squares. I have a shady side yard where not much will grow, and this could be a great way to create interest. She has a great sense of style.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

New name for my blog

I decided I needed a better name for my blog than "Laurel's Blog." So, I changed it. I chose Set of the Sail because of the quote "Tis the set of the sail and not the gale Which determines the way they go." It's from this longer poem from Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

One ship sails east and another sails west
With the self-same winds that blow.
Tis the set of the sail and not the gale
Which determines the way they go.
As the winds of the sea are the ways of fate
As we voyage along through life,
Tis the act of the soul that determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Credit for finding this poem goes to my father, who once, very long ago, gave me a copy of this quote, in a little frame. I have kept it for years, transferring it from one apartment and home to another, until I settled into my current home and gave it a more permanent and prominent place on my dresser top. I don't remember when my father gave it to me, nor what he said when he did, but I can guess that the quote touched him in the same way it touches me now. He probably has no idea that I have kept that little thing for so long, and that I have valued it as much as I have. He reads this blog, so I guess he knows now. : )

Sometimes I encounter people who are struggling, and I often want to give them this quote. I think embracing it in your own life is one of the most challenging feats you can accomplish, but if you do, one of the most meaningful and rewarding. So much of my personal history seems to evolve around my efforts to set my sail. So, it seems a fitting place from which to derive the new name of my blog. Thanks, Dad!

Jackson's Birthday Party

Daydreaming about outdoor kitchens

I had another quiet moment this morning, before the kids were up and about, and I was browsing again online, and came across another picture that I liked, and that gave me an idea. I've been thinking about what to do with the window and door configuration along the wall in the back that currently has the sliding glass door and the back door leading from the kitchen to the backyard. When we replace the living room windows with doors leading to the back, will I have too many redundant doors? Should I consider removing the kitchen door and just use the sliding and french doors?

This picture makes the case for eliminating the kitchen door. I could put in a nice window, like the one here, and an outdoor countertop. It would be a great place to set out food or drinks for parties in the backyard, with built in storage underneath. If you picture this in my yard, the new french doors from the front room would be just out of sight to the right in this picture, and the sliding door from the dining/family room space would be just out of sight to the left. Interesting...

Friday, July 04, 2008


Sometimes I just see a picture and I want to be there.

The whole house is asleep, and I'm enjoying a quiet moment at the computer. I was lazily surfing around when I came across this picture. There's nothing too special about it, but somehow it just makes me want to step right in. I think it's the uniform color scheme, the variety of textures, the relaxed details. Nice.

The picture is from Veranda magazine, and I'm not sure why the image came with all that text.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Chapter books for a 4 year old?

I know it sounds a little crazy, but I think I want to start reading chapter books to Julia. My nanny and I were having a great discussion this morning about kids who read, and I was recalling the evenings of my childhood when my mother read to me from books that were beyond my own reading level, but which completely captivated me as a listener -- the kind where you beg for just one more chapter.

Julia and I read lots of books together, and while she loves it, sometimes I wonder if she could handle longer more complicated storylines. (And I sure wouldn't mind that myself!) A couple of the recent books my mom has dropped off (Amelia Bedelia and The Case of the Scaredy Cats) have been a little longer than the typical picture book, and, confirming my theory, Julia has LOVED them, wanting them read over and over again.

So I started doing some research online. I came across this Amazon discussion thread from a guy looking for chapter books to read to his 4 year old. The replies confirmed what I suspected, which is that many 4 year olds (depending on the kid, clearly) can enjoy being read to from chapter books that require multiple nights to get through. I found lots of suggestions here, many of which I well remember from my own childhood.

Stuart Little
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Little House on the Prarie
The Wizard of Oz
Junie B. Jones
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
My Father's Dragon
Pippi Longstocking
Ramona the Brave

Most of these are either the first book of a series, or from prolific authors who have other similarly great titles. This goes without saying, but there is such a richness out there to share with Juila (and later Andrew.) I can't wait to try one on her. I'm thinking about starting with My Father's Dragon or maybe Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. (Mom, do you still have a copy of that?)

Any other suggestions? Many of the books above feature boys as the title character, and I'd love to find a few more with girls in the lead role.

(Susan, if you are still looking for birthday gift ideas for Julia, perhaps a title from this list or your own childhood memories would be a great option!)