Memory Strasse

My first day of Dutch preschool, circa 1980

I’ve been eagerly following the adventures of moving a family of 8 (!) across the Big Pond to live in France for a year over at Design Mom. Oh! And her sister‘s family moved to Paris for a year at the same time. Ooh la la! Dreamy, no? Visions of crunchy baguettes, gorgeous bowls of fresh yogurt and a contagious lust for a cultured adventure makes me ponder the time our family spent in Germany and The Netherlands when I was a wee one. Shall we take a short trip down Memory Strasse, lovelies?

While it was only for a few years and before I even set foot in kindergarten, the experience of living in Europe as a child was an incredibly formative one for me. But here’s the interesting part that I’ve been mulling over… Did the experiences themselves inform my identity, or is it the stories that I’ve created from the photographs from those years that have created this identity? Or is it simply the adventurous idea of my parents moving a young family overseas to chase a dream that inspires me? Hmmmm.

Regardless, I remember those years fondly and think about my parent’s choice often. Especially now with a family of my own when some days it’s difficult enough to just get out of the house to go grocery shopping and arrive home without mayhem ensuing. Taking small children on long, international flights and arriving in a country where you know no one and can barely speak the language? Oof. In some ways that just makes me feel tired and in other ways, energized. To pursue dreams, adventures.

Walking the beaches at the Isle of Wight, eating fresh figs in Portugal, taking walks by myself to the deer park or getting a loaf of bread or maybe some beer at our neighborhood store in the Netherlands, skating on frozen canals, sitting on the rocks of Stonehenge… these are great stories and photo memories, but what has truly stayed with me? Cliché, but true:

  • love of language and different kinds of people
  • appetite for fresh, good food
  • interest in trying new experiences
  • ability to easily adapt to new situations
  • expensive tastes. A European sensibility does not come cheap, my friends… oof.
  • desire to travel, see the world, push beyond my comfort level in far-off places
  • love of a simpler life: community, walkability, family, friends, nature

So is it important to me that Wren has a similar experience? Yes and no. I want her to develop these traits, but do we have to move our family to achieve them? I’m not sure. What do you think, lovelies?

If we were to move overseas, Scandinavia appeals most to me at this point in our lives. Similar weather that I love about northern Michigan, the aesthetic, fresh fish, natural beauty, interesting languages… but at the same time, if someone put me on a plane to just about anywhere in the Mediterranean right about now, I wouldn’t put up much of a fight.

Where would you go if you were to move abroad? What’s holding you back? I’d love to hear your thoughts, lovelies. XO

Yes, I wore wooden shoes. Wasn’t I a cute little kid?

@#$@*&&**! tree

Welcome to my pity party! So glad you’re here.

So this morning our tree tried to poke my eye out! After several hours at the urgent care, they determined the diagnosis: corneal abrasions. Boo hoo. Have you ever cut your eye? It is very painful and what’s worse, you need your eyes for (almost) everything. Boo hoo again. Lest you think I’m going to continue complaining about my poor eye, I have some humor to share.

A woman (whom I shall call “Shannon” because I think that was really her name) with two small, sick children tried to pick me up. Or so I thought because she kept telling my how she thought I looked so smart and had such nice skin and I was wearing such cute boots, blah blah. I was sort of flattered and sort of weirded out until she told me that she is a Mary Kay rep and asked if I would like a free facial. Guffaw. I felt sorry for her so I gave her my phone number so I guess I have a looming date with a Mary Kay rep. Sigh. Do you think she just hangs out at the urgent care clinic, waiting for people who are sick, injured and otherwise incredibly distracted? Probably not, but it’s fun to wonder. Aaahhh, pain killers. You are so odd.

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day! Just what the world needs: a whole day devoted to the appreciation of the squirrel. Wow! According to the founder, Christy Hargrove, “celebration of the event itself is up to the individual or group — anything from putting out extra food for the squirrels to learning something new about the species.”

Want to broaden your understanding of the squirrel? Here are some fun facts:

  • There are about three-hundred varieties of squirrels
  • A squirrel’s brain is about the size of a walnut.
  • Squirrels chew on tree branches to sharpen and clean their teeth.
  • Gray squirrels are considered to be living fossils because they haven’t changed much in 37 million years.
  • Squirrels can run at speeds up to twenty miles per hour.
  • Baby squirrels do not have teeth or hair. They are blind for the first six to eight weeks of life.
  • Adult squirrels normally live alone but are not unsocial when it comes to sharing their nests with visitors especially in the winter months.
  • The sweat glands of a tree squirrel are located on their feet.
  • A squirrel’s eyes are situated high and on both sides of their head which allows them to have a wide field of vision without having to turn their heads.
  • Squirrels take pride in their grooming ritual. They are considered to be the cleanest animal in the rodent family.

Be squirrely!


get out


Lovely just how much it helps to lift one’s spirits to just get out. Simple joys of listening to the muffled silence that a fresh blanket of snow brings, seeing your breath as you work your way up the hills, feeling the snow creep into the space between pants and socks that the boots neglect to reach, sharing a bowl of soup that warms the belly. And the soul.

resolve 2011

Hello lovelies. How’s 2011 treating you so far? Are you thigh-high in snow too? Feeling motivated by the possibilities that a whole new calendar year offers? Or stumbling through a post-holiday daze and feeling frumpy, dumpy and slightly grumpy like yours truly? Sigh. Raise your hands, let’s take a quick inventory…

I’ve been trying to get excited about a whole new year, but now that we’re a few weeks into it, it feels pretty much the same as before the big holiday rushrushrush and brings similar challenges. Are you experiencing the same kind of post-partum (new year) feelings? I didn’t think I wanted to make resolutions this year, but I’ve been living in an annoying paradox: ungrounded and yet stuck. I decided to revisit last year’s thoughts on resolutions and craft some for this year to give me some direction and a bit more kick to my glide. I’m not sure revisiting last year’s post was even such a great idea because I never made it into that bikini that only lives in dreams I still aspire to wear. Even with Wren still nursing, geesh. Funny boob tangent… Wren says “nurse!” now and it sounds a bit like “nuts!” and while she says it, she pats her chest with both hands like the cartoon gorillas. Funny little birdie!

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yeah.

Part of me wants to just focus on one big, very important idea: Mindfulness. While another piece of me (the squirrely part) wants to take concrete, specific, measurable action (Stop using those yucky Clorox wipes! Lose ten pounds! Do something creative every day! Wipe out all consumer debt! ). So I’m going to wed the two in a ceremony right here. Will you be my Maid of Honor, lovely readers? Will you help to remind me to be mindful of the Now, while I chip away at specific goals bit by bit? Thank you in advance. I heart you and thank you for clicking in on me today.

As for 2011, OK, I think I’m ready for you now. Challenges and all the fluffy stuff too. Go!

losing what’s left of my mind

You know you’ve lost your mind when…

  • you walk into the bathroom only to stand and wonder why you were there in the first place, sit back down at your desk and remember that you have to pee. Once is excusable, but twice in one morning?
  • you can’t find your to-do list that’s supposed to help keep your head on (mostly) straight because it somehow ended up inside the pink tutu that is balled up on top of the printer.
  • you think it’s a good idea to teach your toddler to unscrew caps in a desire to encourage fine motor skill development, only to find that she’s perfected her skills on a bottle of green paint that is now “all gone!”
  • you think the idea of a good time is shoveling snow at 9:45 p.m.
  • yesterday’s coffee is perfectly acceptable.
  • you trade in your old books on feminist art theory for a Winnie the Pooh lift-the-flap book.

Monday, Monday

Today kicks off Operation Kick Procrastination to the Leaf-covered Curb. Wanna join me? I will likely be posting lightly–if at all–this week because I have a lot of work to catch up on and favorite clients to please, in addition to a lawn that I swear we JUST raked and a veritable mountain of green tomatoes that I promised myself I would not let go to waste. And the usual other time-suck: LIFE. Oh! And Halloween costumes to finish (err, start) and pumpkins to carve and a Zombie Run to cram for and, well, you get the point. How does your week look? Are you getting excited for Halloween?

Best! Ash

P.S. It’s scarf-weather here and I’m very happy about this. Today I’m sporting a green scarf, the color not unlike our tomatoes.

P.P.S. Super cute husband update: Chris just stopped home and asked me, “guess what I just saw at the curb?” Me: uh, I don’t know. What? To which he responded, “Procrastination. And he looked really sad and dejected. I think he might just go find someone else to bother.”

bits & pieces

Please excuse me while I purge some bits & pieces from my brain…

thought it was Friday today. Oof. Revisited an old favorite from childhood: a Hawaiian Blizzard at DQ. Still tasted great and I’m in love with their new “mini” size. Pure genius. Except I STILL hate DQ’s “new” logo and it’s probably about six years old now. Yuck! Side note: how ridiculous is it that there is a DQ Locator iPhone app? Wow. Moving on.

Finding it easier to breathe with my new short hair cut. Didn’t realize how my hair impacted my breath. And my posture. And my general well-being. Soooo happy I did it.

Wishing coloring books were spiral bound. Also wishing there were more interesting coloring books that didn’t focus on licensed characters. Thinking there’s a whole market to be explored there… and a fun project to make. Speaking (err, writing) of projects, last Christmas I promised myself I wouldn’t wait until the last minute to make gifts again and here it is, the end of October already. Sigh. I was planning on making an advent calendar like this, but there’s no way it will be done in six weeks. Next year…

Took Wren to the mall tonight to get her ya-ya’s out in a big, open space and remembered why I never go to the mall. Depressing! Everyone I saw looked dejected and sad. I could never be a mall-walker. Repeat after me. I could never be a mall-walker. I could never be a mall-walker.

Still giddy from seeing the Sound of Music on the BIG screen this week as part of the movie’s 45th anniversary celebration. Absolutely lovely. I heart Julie Andrews. Do you think there is a family out there whose children are all named after the Von Trapps? Do you have a favorite? OK. So there was a costume contest and I dressed up as Maria. Of course! I wasn’t the only one; there ARE other Sound of Music nerds out there, I swear.

Pondering what to do with the wealth of green tomatoes still out there. 42 and rainy might just mean that they’re not going to ripen, hmmmphhhh. Green tomato relish, anyone? Pickled tomatoes? Green tomato pie? What would you do with them?

I have paint on the brain–and literally in my hair from a wee hours painting project–and seeing these paint chip cookies happily put me over the edge into paint lover’s bliss. How fun are these?! Enjoy!

Oh! Before I forget, I’ve joined Tweetdom. Am I cool, or what? Don’t answer that. But if you’d like to follow my drivel, you can find me now on Twitter @besquirrely. Happy Friday (tomorrow!)