Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Saturday, October 31, 2015

new york love.

It took nearly seven years to get Dan to give up 10 acres in the country for life in a lake community... how many might it take to take the plunge to life in Manhattan? More than a lifetime, I'm guessing. Thankfully for me I get to live vicariously through trips to the big apple for work. I LOVE New York. I really do. I love the energy, the creativity that is EVERYWHERE. The food. The history. All of it. 

I still have no idea how it is that I'm now representing the biggest advertiser in the world with arguably the most innovative, influential companies of our time (I'm talking about you, Google and Facebook) along with many others on the rise. The conversations this week have me feeling exhausted and overwhelmed but more thankful than ever that I get to do this job. The learning opportunities are quite frankly endless. 

And what's even better is that these people in these places are feeling a lot less like "business deals" and a whole lot more like good friends. "Welcome to the family" was thrown out more than once this week. Being in that kind of company makes it a whole lot easier to leave my babies for a few days. 

But coming home? There's nothing better than that. 
Not even New York can compete with the sweetest three faces I know. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

a little fall-fun catch up.

I've never been the biggest fan of Halloween... before having kids we were perfectly happy skipping right over it, but I'll admit it's fun (and adorable) to brainstorm costume ideas and then watch as Jackson, Audrey (and Jonah- against his will) light up when it's finally time to get into character! This year Audrey wanted to be Ariel and Jackson asked if he and Jonah could be ninja turtles. And with that I realized my few- very few- years of talking them into being a sweet little themed trio was over basically before it began. But, they were still pretty cute, I'll admit, even if not perfectly visually choreographed :). PS- it feels like we've been Halloween-ing for daysss considering we're still almost a week away from the actual holiday. Can we move on to Thanksgiving yet?!

We kicked off all things Halloween with the Hidden Valley Haunted Hayride a few weeks ago. I couldn't believe how "into it" people got- they had the houses along the route completely in theme with decorations, scary Halloween scenes and lots of people handing out candy along the way. So fun!

One afternoon Jackson and I did a little hiking around our house... fall on the lake isn't so bad :). 

I think this might be the first year we have actually carved a pumpkin - we normally just paint them or decorate them in a less messy way :) But Jackson insisted and Audrey refused to come anywhere near all that gross goo inside. 

Notice all three opted for some winter gloves to help keep the yucky stuff of their little hands... 

It wouldn't be Halloween without Trunk n' Treat at church! 

And finally a little pumpkin painting followed by the season's first hot chocolate... an activity Audrey can fully get on board with :) The babies had lots and lots of pumpkins to pain thanks to the pumpkin patch they grew at Nanna & Pop's this year. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015


I feel like I've packed a few weeks into the past few days. 
Some last-minute business travel to Nashville for the past two days combined with feeling so very behind in work AND at home has me feeling somewhat drained.
The good news? It's Thursday. Friday is juuuust within reach!

In glancing at my phone last night I realized these were the only pictures I took while away. This, my friends, is what they call "working mom travels."

Face Time. How did I ever travel without you? Ignore the horrid expression on my face :), but how great to be able to parent my sweet babies from the airport and show them where I am. (my most favorite Face Time memory was calling Jackson and Audrey from the Eiffel Tower and showing them Paris from afar. Awesome.) 

And the view of Nashville from my hotel room downtown. To be fair, we did go to an amazing dinner at an old southern mansion outside of town but I didn't take any photos and most of the people I was with hit up the Broadway strip of bars with live music after, but I opted for a hotel room all to myself to catch up on work which was fabulous.

The up side is that not seeing anything is rare with work travel- I most always make time to explore, but I opted not to this time around. Next week I'll be in NYC for a few days and can't wait to catch up with a friends in between meetings. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


The Children's Theater of Cincinnati season kicked off Sunday with... wait for it... The Little Mermaid! If you've been around Audrey at all in the past six months you would know her love for all things mermaids right now. Her dream is to be a mermaid. She's going to be one for Halloween. She draws mermaids all day, every day. She's a liiiiitle into it right now. And so she was pumped for the show ("Mommy I'm SO EXCITED I can't stop giggling!"). Jackson, not so much. He declared it a "girl's show" and almost stayed home but decided to come at the last minute "for the treats." He actually ended up liking the show too- it was so good!  Afterwards we bought treats and sat in the P&G gardens for a bit before heading home. They love being at "mommy's work" and cannot understand why I don't get to have "recess time" when I'm there :). I snapped a few poor-quality phone pics of them while we hung out because these totally capture their personalities right now- 100% goofy and 100% best friends (at least 99% of the time.) 

Jackson declared these their "principal" impersonations. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

a little life lately...

Life has been steadily chugging along since my last (pain-FULL) update. I've been sporting by ever-attractive back brace 24/7 because lets face it, I simply do not have the time (or patience) to be running on anything less than all cylinders. 

Maintaining perspective also helps- I just keep thinking of all of my sweet friends in Ecuador... what would I do if I didn't have access to medical help? I would LOSE MY MIND, that is what. And of all the sweet babies in China who are waiting, just WAITING, for help... so not fair. But- me?- I have access to doctors and hospitals and crazy-advanced machines that while slow-moving (so. slow.) they will eventually bring me relief and for that I am eternally grateful.  

As I was cleaning out my camera roll this morning from my phone I thought these five random pictures summed up our week pretty well:

Give me a room with an empty white board and some lovely nerd-talk and brainstorming and I'm all like, "why do they pay me for this stuff?" This was just one random idea-filled board from this week, but there were many more and one session in particular that had me so full of ideas I could just burst. I'm lucky, that's all. 

This week was "fall-break" from both kindergarten and pre-school (and dance) so the monsters were allowed to throw bedtime out the window. This was Jackson by the end of the week. I sent him upstairs to brush his teeth and he literally fell asleep in the hallway. He has laughed endlessly at this photo. 

My view Friday morning while waiting for my MRI at the hospital. I was nervous. I am claustrophobic plus I've had this unhealthy worry that there's something more going on with my back than just ruptured discs and so I was feeling pretty scared beforehand. But then, I realized... I'm laying in this machine, with a warm blanket over me, listening to music (and the LOUD thumping of the machine...) but I was LAYING STILL with NOBODY climbing on me, asking me questions, no emails burning up my phone. It was easily the most relaxing 60 minutes I've had lately and it was awesome!

Late night girl-talks with the Peanut. I live for these moments. There are a lot of rules I enforce (I will NOT raise heathens...), but when I work as much as I do I really do not care what time they go to bed as long as they're getting enough sleep and they're functioning well the next day. This means that many nights I get a lot of precious moments like this when Dan and Jonah are already long asleep and I get extra Audrey and Jackson time. It's most always where I learn the most about what's going on in those sweet little minds. Something about late nights brings out the most honesty and detail. 

And after a long week I couldn't ask for anything better than a slow-moving Saturday morning. As usual, we gathered around pancakes, coffee and our bibles for some Jesus-time and it was the best. (side note: Audrey STILL insists that Jesus is a girl... this morning she filled up her bible verse notebook with quite a few pictures of all his "pretty dresses..." Oh, Peanut.) 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

the greatest of roller-coasters.

There are times when I feel like I'm riding on the greatest of roller-coasters.
With the biggest hills.
That means the tallest of peaks with the best views.
And lowest of valleys. 
And of course, the long climb back up.

For me the valleys hit when I have an episode with my back.
And unfortunately for me I'm experiencing my second one in a month. 
On Monday morning I woke up and could barely get out of bed. I tried getting up and fell back down so I rested and did some work from home thinking that if I really took it easy I could prevent it from getting worse and really get back to life the next day. 
That night I went in to the ER and had updated x-rays done per my DR's orders. 

Fast forward to Tuesday morning. I was determined to make it into the office. Determined. You see, I was promoted a few weeks ago. Promoted to a role that is arguably one of the most sought after roles (that is what we call one of those roller coaster peaks), but the pressure is on to really deliver. 

So, back to going into the office. 
I got dressed- which took three times as long as normal and included a lot of help from Audrey. You know it's bad when your 3 year old has to put your shoes on YOU. 
And off I went. In tremendous pain, but again, determined. 
I made it about 3/4s of the way to the office and when I could take the pain no more and realizing that my legs and feet would barely move (which is a little bit of a problem when one needs to press the gas and the brakes), I pulled over into a parking lot at the side of the road. 

Dan came to my rescue- but we work in opposite directions so it took nearly two hours for him to get there which meant my position in the car (trying to lay as flat as possible) made my back start to spasm badly. He drove us home and by the time we pulled into the driveway he had to practically carry me into the house and slooooowly because when my back is experiencing a spasm I cannot move. CANNOT move an inch- my body goes into shock from the pain which makes me shake and also nearly black out. 

He helped me into the house, I literally crawled up the stairs, made it to our bed- he took off my shoes for me, brought me my medicine and water and I've been hostage in this room ever since.

I am praying. PRAYING. That tomorrow I can walk and make into the office at some point- partly because the stress of understanding how very behind I am in my work AND being unable to care for my sweet babies (who are all three sick by the way- when it rains, it pours) is enough to give me an anxiety attack but partly because I just need to live life. 

Trust me- if you are walking around today in relatively good health, be thankful. 
And do every thing in your power to stay that way. 

Here's to hoping and praying and just realllly focusing on getting back on track soon. 
And also, if this roller coaster could just slow down a bit or maybe flatten out a tad that would be fantastic.