when H came to visit.

with all the things we have going on this summer –– the bridal shower, luca's birthday, the wedding, a new baby –– H still made it a priority to use her time and money to come see me. it's been so fun to see her so frequently, since she's the one i see the most infrequently.

she's visited once before, and i just looked back and noticed we went to some of the same places and i took a lot of the same pictures and it's funny to notice, but you know what? i will probably do it again next time too because i love this city. i can't get over it.

on friday night, we watched the olympics opening ceremony at a friends house. and by that i mean, tab was babysitting one of our favorite little girls (so her parents could go to an olympic party) and we decided to have our own party, with our three-year-old bff.

we had laurel wreath crowns and gold medals and olympic torches and three-year-old friendly olympic games and oreos with olympic ring m&ms on top. the best (funniest) part is that tab and i were more into and excited about it than she was. i'm pretty sure she only participated because we were.

then again, we are VERY into the olympics after years of watching and becoming mildly obsessed and she is ...three.

it worked out for H too, because she woke up so early on friday morning that it was almost still thursday in nashville time. we did something more fun than sitting on my own couch to celebrate the olympics, but not so fun that it required an excess of energy.

on saturday, we went to franklin and shopped the shops before making our way back up to musician's corner in centennial park. nobody we knew was playing that day, but it's free music in the park and that's a thing (one of the many things) connecticut doesn't have.

later, we went back home to figure out how to get the olympics on the tv without cable. thankfully, we worked it out. and then i had a headache so bad that i didn't even really watch and went to bed early instead.

it worked out though, because we got up and did the broadway thing on sunday. the most touristy of all touristy things to do in nashville. don't get me wrong, i don't hate it. but it is a lot of walking and sweating and, well, honky tonks. i think the last time we went, we saw someone literally stumble and fall out of one. that happened later in the day than when we were there this time, but still. it takes a certain kind of energy to walk up and down broadway, is what i mean.

i think this was the first time i've been there since the tv show nashville came out, and got so big. there is a whole store of "nashville" things. but it's basically just a store of all the touristy things in one place, like the bluebird cafe and the grand ole opry and i can't even remember what else. it was sort of confusing, but it all came together when i saw the life-sized cutout of (i don't even know his character's name) next to a table of "team" shirts. team deacon, team avery, team gunnar, etc.

it's actually quite convenient because you can buy things from all the places without having to drive to each of them, and the things are less "my friend went to nashville and all i got was this mug" touristy.

anyway, after that we did the least touristy thing: got popsicles and went to church.

we had a lot of activities packed into the weekend, but we also had quite a bit of chill time. we always tried to make it home by 7pm because, THE OLYMPICS. (and the nice thing about living in central time is that things are on an hour earlier, so i don't have to stay up until midnight to see it all.) (how old am i?)

sorry (not sorry) for the blurry grainy off-center photo, but this is what real life looks like. we sat on the couch and watched the olympics every day.

y'all, i can't even begin to tell you about my love for the olympics, but i've thought about it a lot recently because my roommates are so disinterested, they are almost anti-olympics. they are canadian. which isn't to say anything in particular, but i feel like that's important to note.

like, is it because they don't have a michael phelps or the #finalfive? is it because they prefer winter sports? (i honestly can't remember what their attitude was two years ago during the winter olympics, but it was probably nothing worth noticing.) do they just have no country pride? either way, my roommate was serious about it when she asked what it is that's so exciting about the olympics as she sat there with us on monday night, and i just have no words for that.

anyway, i dropped H off at the airport before work on tuesday and it was probably the easiest goodbye we've had because i'd be seeing her again just five days later.

so many exciting things this summer. so little time to blog.

july, in photos.

molls and i made the best cookies we've ever made, using my mom's not-so-secret secret recipe.

then we watched only the episodes of gilmore girls that jess is in. and in case you wanted to do the same, here is the list.

(i could discuss rory's boyfriends––and why jess is the best one––at length.)

i started my job. (more on that here.)

big magic.

found this on molly's desk one day.

i bought my first piece of art!

nothing has made me feel more like an adult than this purchase.

(it's by lindsey isbell, who i found on instagram, and then met at a market, where i bought this piece.)

tab bought a new car from the CAR VENDING MACHINE. because, that's a real thing that exists.

life motto. ^

five daughters doughnut date with tab.

stopped at a random cracker barrel on the way to charlotte to buy a copy of hard love, with the bonus tracks. because, apparently none of the stores in nashville got shipments of it?

and that was the first time since 1989 came out that i switched the cd in my car. because, haters gonna hate, but i'm just gonna shake. and have dance parties in the car. because t-swift knows how to make dance party music. (just ask luca.)

aaand now i have a barista on the east side, too.

charlotte | luca is THREE.

CAN YOU EVEN. ^

CAN YOU EVEN. ^

for luca's birthday this year, i went to charlotte for a full week. i knew i wanted to be there for his actual birthday, which was on a tuesday, and my schedule was (at the time) whatever i decided it to be. so why not just stay through the week? thankfully, even when i got hired at my job, i was still able to take the week off––just two weeks after starting. this is why god is so good. he cares about the big details, like needing a job, and also the little details, like one that is flexible with my nephew's mid-week birthday.

(will i ever stop talking about my employment situation and how it taught me things about god? probably no.)

H had arrived on friday morning and i got there on saturday afternoon. this photo is not really flattering and it looks like my head is floating mid-air, but it was a fun time and worth documenting so here we are.

since T and lee had a gap of time between moving out of their townhouse and into their actual house (!!), they were staying at my parents', which put us all under the same roof. it was so nice to be all together, without having to leave at the end of the night or work out who would be at T's to put luca to bed, or down for a nap in the afternoon.

on sunday, we all spent the day together at the lake, because luca is a big fan of the beach and the lake is the best you can do when you live in charlotte. it is very much not the same thing, in my opinion, but when you're three it's still good enough. and that was good enough for me.

a good time was had by all, as you can see here from all of our cheese faces.

on monday, we went shopping at the outlets––me and my sisters and luca, who is (the point of this whole post) three years old. the best well-behaved-while-mommy-and-aunties-shop three year old.

later, after luca went to bed, we went into birthday elf mode.

there were printed coloring pages of his favorite tv characters, birthday "cards" from those same characters hung on the wall, balloons filling the floor of his bedroom for him to wake up to, a happy birthday wall with a giant "3" made out of streamers, and pure excitement filling the air.

and then, it finally arrived. luca's birthday.

we started the day by going to dunkin donuts to get his pink donut. the strawberry frosted (with sprinkles) is his favorite, and the only thing (besides chocolate) he said he wanted for his birthday.

then, we headed to the aquarium, where luca was 70% afraid to stick his head in the little viewing bubbles they have in the tanks, 20% willing to do it as long as you did it also (and first), and 10% asking if we could "go in there"––and, you know, swim with the fish and the sting rays and the sharks (all of which were named "brucey," of course).

he would tell you brucey was his favorite part, but i would say it was the octopus, as he was endlessly fascinated by them––especially the one that kept moving around the tank––and obsessed with wanting to see their eyes.

H left after having cake on tuesday, and the rest of the week was filled with everyday hangs. going to the pool, hanging out with luca while T worked, eating meals together, watching blue bloods (because, my dad is obsessed), playing games, eating leftover cake, shopping, finding out that the dairy queen is out of chocolate ice cream (when soft served ice cream is pretty scarce to begin with). you know, the usual.

getting to spend a whole week with my family, and luca especially, was such a treat. he is so fun and funny and sweet and lovey. so of course i took some notes, to remember what these days with him look like.
 

this is luca, at exactly three years old:

+ he pronounces "c" sounds as a "t" sound, and "g" sounds as a "d."

+ he says his name like "wuh-cah michael doodin" (and almost always says all three when you ask what his name is).

+ motorcycle (still a favorite thing for him) is pronounced "michael michael."

+ bulldozer (as in, boulder transforms into a bulldozer) is pronounced "buzza buzzo" –– although i've heard that, unfortunately, my dad has since taught him the correct way to pronounce it.

+ he says my and myself as "mine" and "mineself."

+ he got a few toys for his birthday that he just couldn't get over the excitement of and walked around saying "this is so tool. this is so tool, man."

+ he likes watching tv and although the answer is usually no, i love the way it sounds when he asks to "watch suntin."

+ he'll ask what we're talking about or laughing at when he wants to be included in conversations. which, he's been able to talk and speak in full sentences and respond appropriately for a while, but he's now old enough to want to have actual conversations.

+ instead of just no, he (still) says "no way."

+ when he doesn't want to give you a hug or kiss when you ask for one, he'll sometimes say, "no, not today."

+ when you're sitting in a chair in the play room and he's playing on the floor and wants to play with you, he'll say, "can you come down here? i can't reach you up there."

+ he gives big squeezes when he hugs and wraps one leg around you to squeeze even tighter.

+ he plays hide and seek for real now. before, you'd chase him into the room and pretend you suddenly couldn't find him. now, you count to 10 and he hides. or he counts to 10 and you hide (in real spots) and he'll find you.

he is at the age where he thinks this game is SO FUN. and i am at the age where i can't believe i'm the grown up in this situation.

listen to this | needtobreathe.

my friend christyn does this thing called a first listen. basically, she makes an event out of the first time she listens to an album from start to finish. she sets aside a good portion of time, picks a spot, and listens. "there's something about music that has the ability to draw us back into a single instant," she writes. so why not hand-pick the moment? at the very least, i gives you the time and space to listen fully and thoroughly enjoy it.

i think this is a very neat approach that i have yet to experience myself. usually because i forget to plan ahead, and then lack the self control to wait for a better moment. but that is how i listen to music: by albums, from front to back. whether or not i intentionally plan how it happens, i am making those first listen memories with every album i listen to.

needtobreathe's new album, HARD LOVE, is a perfect example of one that deserves a first listen experience. but i didn't really think about it until i was half way through, and tearing up during "testify" while trying to apply mascara, as i had my accidental first listen in the bathroom as i got ready for work the morning it was released.

i've been a fan of needtobreathe, not since the beginning, but for a good seven years. they're one of those bands i feel really passionately about and could excitedly talk about for hours. i just recently counted, and the number of times i've seen them perform is in the double digits.

i've written about most of it here, which you can find if you really search hard enough. about the first handful of shows i went to, where meet and greets were still free. about that time i paid over $100 to watch them, from the tenth row, play only six songs when they opened for taylor swift. about how, since moving to nashville, i've had multiple opportunities to work with them, directly and indirectly.

it's crazy to think back on all of the places i've been throughout those years, and how needtobreathe has been a significant part of the soundtrack to them. if you had told me then, when i first saw them in 2009, where i'd be now, i never would've believed you.