Tuesday, September 2, 2014


A small bird flew into a window and fell down right in front of Andrew and I as we were hanging clothes on the line.  It chirped, twitched, and then was still.

I put her in a box.  I checked to see if her tiny heart was still beating - maybe she was just unconscious.  It wasn't.

I'm blessed to say that this was my first experience actually being present with another creature at its death.  I'm a little shaken by it.

And how to explain to Andrew?  "Why do things die?" he asked.  Everything dies, I said, and I tried to explain the cycle of life.  Things die, things are born.  Leaves fall in the autumn and grow again in the spring.  Our flowers fade and then we plant new ones.  People and animals get old and then our bodies don't work so well anymore.  And sometimes, we can get hurt so badly that we can't keep living.  Her heart was beating while she flew, but then it stopped when she bonked her head so hard.

We looked at the bird as scientists: the way her wings fold up and expand, the shape of her beak for accessing seeds and insects, the curl of her claws.

We talked about respect, and saying goodbye.

We held a funeral.  I dug a hole.  I said a few words, about how pretty and sweet the bird had sung.  I buried her.  The kids put down large rocks and said "Goodbye, bird."  We picked wildflowers to lay on her grave, "to remember," I said.

It was all I could do not to cry.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Geneva Creek Camping and a Hike

We missed June on our quest to get in one night of camping a month, but July rewarded us for our effort.  We had our best night of camping yet, by far.  Somewhere around the end of dinner time (hot dogs and brats roasted on sticks and potatoes thrown into the coals), I had the brilliant idea that we should put the kids in a tent together.  That way, they'd keep each other company, but wouldn't be disturbed by an adult coming in midway through the night.  Previously we'd done a girls' tent and a boys' tent, but inevitably, the kids want to sleep *exactly in the middle* of the tent floor, which makes for an awkward night for the adults.
Well, our leap of faith paid off.  The kids curled up like a litter of puppies, and the nearly the first peep we heard from them was a yell of "I'm ready to stop sleeping!!" around 7am.

Amazing.  We felt so good that we went on a 2 mile (round trip) hike into the Mt. Evans Wilderness.  Both kids walked the WHOLE WAY.  We identified flowers and trees, including the kids' first columbine sighting, crossed over log bridges, threw rocks and sticks in the creek, and discussed the ways in which a tree could fall over.

I sense that we may have crossed a threshold of outdoor adventure, and I am excited.

Putting beds together in the kids' tent

Potty in the woods
 After Andrew woke her up at 7, Clara actually asked to go back to bed -- and then did!  She's her mama's (and Papa's) girl, that's for sure.
There's a girl in there

Andrew found this big mushroom

Man and mushroom

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Growth Stats, Age 2 and 3 yr Edition

Andrew is 3 years old.  He loves to build very elaborate castles out of any building material he can get his hands on.  Highly creative.  Highly frustrated when things fall over.  He makes up his own songs.  He plays pretend with cars and planes figures.  He has some serious pre-reading skills.  He dropped his nap a couple weeks ago.  He now wears a sleek buzzed haircut, having lost all patience with the scissors.

At 3 years and 2 months:
your child is 38.5 pounds, and that is
at the 92nd percentile for weight.
your child is 40.25 inches, and that is
at the 92nd percentile for height.

Clara is 2 years old.  She loves being "Mommy's helper" with cooking and cleaning.  She is constantly singing, and loves to sing along to songs she knows.  She took to daytime potty training like she'd been doing it her whole life.  She's in the middle of transitioning to her big girl bed from her crib, and she said bye to the pacifier in the last few weeks.  She refused to let me brush her long hair or put it up, but she loved the idea of a haircut, so she's rocking a cute crop.  She's really good at snuggling.

At 24 months:
your child is 28 pounds, and that is
at the 66th percentile for weight.
your child is 33.5 inches, and that is
at the 37th percentile for height.
your child has a head circumference of 20 inches, and that is
at greater than the 97th percentile for head circumference.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Clara's 2nd Birthday

After an exciting train trip to the Bahamas, Clara's birthday was pretty low key - just our family (plus Grandma and Grandpa) hanging out near home.  In the morning we went to Tiny Town and treated ourselves to a train ride and an ice cream cones. We had a DQ ice cream cake after dinner.  Two ice creams in one day had Clara pretty wired, which was quite amusing.

The kids had been practicing the "Happy Birthday" song all week, and Clara was running around saying, "Happy birthday to YOU!  Happy birthday to YOU!"

The new big girl bike

Tiny Town fun with the grandparents.

Ice cream cake!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An End and A Beginning

There must be a reason that pregnancy is nine months long (or ten, depending on how you count).  Nine months to gestate a new life, to process and come to terms with the change that's happening, the identity shift, the upheaval.

Nine months ago (or ten, depending on how you count) a seed was planted in my head by a dear friend.  This friend is intuitive and empathic, and she called out gifts that she saw in me that I wasn't currently using.  It was actually kind of an offhand comment - little did my friend know that she set off such a firestorm in my heart.  But in that moment, my entire life flashed before my eyes - various people who have spoken of these latent gifts to me when I was focused elsewhere and pretty much ignoring them.

That comment sent me down a rabbit hole of self-doubt and then, ultimately, self-discovery.  Who am I, really?  What am I in this world to do?  What if I'm not meant to be an engineer forever?  What if I have done what I came to do in the realm of engineering?  What if I have other latent gifts and passions, ones that can change the world in other ways than the advancement of scientific knowledge?  If I won't be an engineer, then what will I be?

I struggled.  I wrestled.  I mind-mapped.  I meditated.  I journaled.  I prayed.  I rambled on about it to friends.  I rambled on about it to mentorsI started websites.  I joined masterminds.  I went through programs.  I engaged coaches and healers.  I embarked on a journey of intensive self-care.  I got sick.  I got better.  I connected with God in a way that I haven't since I was a kid.  I cried.  I manifested.  I set new goals.  I envisioned the future life that I wanted.  I rearranged things in my life and work multiple times in an attempt to make things better.  I cried some more.  (When you read this paragraph, you need to picture a video montage of me doing all these things with Erin Shore by The Corrs playing in the background.)

And then, without warning, in the middle of this serious internal overhaul of myself, an opportunity presented itself.  I was in transition between two jobs within the company, and it became apparent that instead of putting my head down and pushing through to the new role, the time was now.  The opportunity that I had been looking for for transformation was here, though perhaps earlier than I had anticipated.  Again, lots of tears, lots of struggle, lots of prayer and searching.

And so tomorrow, May 15, 2014, will be my last day of employment as an engineer with Lockheed Martin.  I will be three weeks shy of my 10 year anniversary with the company.  It's been an amazing ride.  I did modeling, simulation, and performance analysis for earth-observing radar satellite systems.  I helped design NASA's next manned space vehicle.  I spent a year in Houston working with astronauts on human interfaces for that vehicle.  I flew a spacecraft past a comet and I sent one on its way to Jupiter.  (More video montage!)  As this chapter of my life closes, I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities that I've had, the massive amounts of knowledge I've gained, and the wonderful people I have met and worked with.  Since the fear and sadness of making this transition started to pass, I have felt nothing but love and joy and thankfulness for this era of my life.

And so it's the end.

But then, it's also the beginning of something new.  The next phase.  Amy 2.0.  Here are some things that are coming up next for me:
  • Joy-filled stay-at-home-mom-hood with my amazing and hilarious kids.
  • Home organization, omg.
  • Travel.  Hopefully lots of it. 
  • Homeschooling
  • Continuing to explore entrepreneurship with the following ventures:
    • Travel consulting through Pine Hill Travel (web/facebook)
    • Blogging about family travel at Stroller Packing (web/facebook)
    • Transformational life coaching at Life Architecting (web/facebook)
  • Writing about:
    • Holistic self-care
    • Goal setting and acheivement
    • Scientific principles applied to psychology, spirituality, and generally living life
    • Spirituality in general
    • Travel
    • Homeschooling, particularly math, science, and using travel to learn about the world
  • Learning about:
    • Ayurveda and Yoga
    • Latin and Spanish languages
    • Taking up the violin (yep, it's on my bucket list)
The world is my oyster.  I'm filled with delicious possibilities and passions new and old.  

It's scary and exciting and sad and joyful and just plain thrilling all at once.

It has taken nine or ten months to gestate and birth this new life into the world, but it's my own new life.  And I'm still a work in progress - still learning, still growing, still reserving the right to change my mind about all of it.  May I never be stagnant. 

To end, a quote from Thoreau, who has always been my favorite since Mr. Johnson's 10th grade American Literature Class: "I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. . . . In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness."  So here I go.  May it be true for me, and for all of us.

(No, I'm not pregnant again.  That was an analogy.  Stop spreading rumors, silly goose.)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Snow Day

We got about 18 inches of snow between Mother's Day and the day after, so needless to say we were snowed in and the nanny was snowed out.  This meant I got to play in the snow!  I had a new year's resolution to make a snow angel, so I can check that one off the list.

We were hoping it would be wet May snow so that we could make a snowman.  ("Do you want to build a snowman?") But alas, it was powder.

We enjoyed sliding on the saucer down the top pitch of the driveway.

And hot chocolate afterwards

You would think that after all this the kids would sleep like babies and yet... it seems to be a non-nap day for either of them, even my sleep fiend, Clara.  Too bad for me!