Family Photos

“There’s only one thing more important than our time and that’s who we spend it on.” – Leo Christopher


The past year had flown by as a family of three and we were starting to think about another baby. It had been the most transformative year of my life and I was feeling the fleeting nature of these days. I had never hired a professional photographer, but wanted to catch some of these magical days before they were gone. I love these images and how beautiful they turned out!


Change of Season

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” – Oscar Wilde

We wanted to continue our new traditions with Indra so we sought out an apple orchard in Iowa and took her apple picking. If you’ve only done something once before, can you still call it a tradition? This orchard was quite beautiful. Grandpa Dave had been before so he told us of some of the good baked treats and we all went on a tractor ride to the fields.

I think we may have each consumed a pound of apples before we left. But how else are you suppose to figure out what you want? These two are buddies!In early September we headed out to Champaign to celebrate Robb’s tenure/40th birthday party! We were so proud of him, turning 40 is kind of a big deal. Just kidding. He has worked so hard for so many years – Sammy and the kids were also part of the equation, supporting and encouraging him to fulfill this dream. We were happy with the chance to see them.

Indra making herself right at home in Zoe’s room. She’s sort of a little snoop.Watching the kids play soccer and getting some snuggles with Auntie.
Getting all sorts of love and attention from the Lindgrens. My bald little baby was loving it!Having “special time” with the kids. We swapped offspring for a few hours. The three of us played mini golf and had paletas (aka: delicious Mexican popsicles) after sweltering in the sun. Sammy and Robb took Indra to the park.Getting the hang of this smelling thing.Back in Iowa I was trying to get crafty about making Indra like her crib. Since she was born, we only had a one bedroom, so we all piled into bed together. While it worked for us, it wasn’t always convenient. I felt like we had such a special bond from all this touching, but to be honest, sometimes I was jealous of the parents who could just plop their kid in bed and go on with their night. And also, not always have all that touching! This little Baby Einstein gadget was a bit of an amusement, but never got her to like her crib.

We share a close DNA with chimps?! No way, I don’t believe it!
Celebrating three years married and fifteen years together. I swear this wasn’t posed. I guess making her sleep in a crib makes this sweetness a lot harder to capture.Loves Grandpa’s green smoothie. Even if sometimes her little ‘stach looks a little like Hitler.Getting ready for family pictures and just hanging out in Iowa.Sweet little dress that Zoe made for Indra.Walking in the woods with Grandpa to scout out a location for Grandma’s bench.Some of Indra’s favorite activities these days: sorting, being blown around by the fan, kangaroo-in-a-box, and talking on the phone.We went apple picking with Nana, but ended up just looking at goats and taking cute pictures of Indra in her new winter hat. Meanwhile, I ran after her trying to keep those little fingers away from sneaky goat mouths.That’s all for now!

Summertime 2017

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” -Charles Bowden


Our move to Iowa was a slower pace of life. We would see beautiful sunsets in the country and deer wandering the yard looking for apples. Ezra was around more, either working from home or from a coworking space. And of course we now had a third parent. Grandpa Dave and Indra were quick to play and bond.  Unfortunately, those first couple weeks were painful to watch Diesel slowly slip away from us. We tried everything and resisted the inevitable. In the end we said some prayers to him and drove in town to peacefully put him to sleep. We buried him in the backyard by the tree we planted for Laurie. I had Diesel in my life for 16 years. He had a good life and it was an emotional goodbye.We spent Indra’s actual birthday by being lazy and just hanging out. We went for a nice little stroll in the woods and dinner out at a brewery afterwards. Just what every one-year old dreams of on their birthday! Just hanging out dowtown Iowa City at the Ped Mall, splash padding and going to more breweries on this hot day.
So, trying to catch this final 12-month picture with her bunny was a little more difficult than in the months past. I guess this is what being one-year-old looks like!
Finally giving her a birthday gift. Just a book, because we still couldn’t decide what to get her. Parents of the year!Proof that at one point, I was actually putting some effort into potty training. Summer sweetness! Laurie and Dave would take a trip in the summer to the North Shore or more recently to the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. So we decided to all go together this year. I had no idea how beautiful this area was. There was a lot of beach time, but also, never enough.
Some favorite activities of the week were spending a ridiculous amount of time in the sauna, then jumping in Lake Superior. I think I only managed the frigid waters once. But the sauna I did do.
Follow up our pretty intense activity with drinking, games and serious vacation reading. Indra modeling her new clothes from our German friend.If you ever need to find Soren, just look for him fishing by the water. Morning, noon, or night. Always. Scary Uncle Josh!
Celebrating our birthdays with a booze soaked cake made by monks. They know how to party. I’m turning into my mom. Forcing family pictures. One of the reasons we went on this vacation was to spread some of Laurie’s ashes. We wanted to take her to the places she loved. I don’t know if I should have taken this picture. I guess I was happy we were together, and wanted to remember this moment. I was sad and wanted a distraction. Either way, Laurie would have been so happy for us all to be here together. After we spread her ashes we saw the Northern Lights. Another thing that Laurie loved. Laurie would be so proud of Dave. He is such a loving Grandpa. Last morning in our beach rental.
As we were leaving town we stopped for lunch. At lunch, a couple beers were consumed. We discussed how none of us wanted to go home and what about if we got a hotel and stayed another night? The vote was taken, it was unanimous. We checked into a hotel, went back to the beach and called this our “vacation chaser.” It’s exactly something Laurie would have approved of. Back in Minneapolis, these brothers got ready to run Ragnar. Learning to smell flowers?Meeting the guys at the finish line.Ez’s birthday Back in Iowa I started getting a taste of what the toddler years would be like. In Michigan, with all the prompting and cheering from family, Indra really stepped up her walking game. Her first steps were really around the 4th of July. But she took it to a whole new level with this newfound confidence. Running away from me at the library. Running away from me at the park.I finally figured out a gift for Indra. I’m trying to get better about buying more sustainable and socially conscious gifts. I’ve got a long way to go, but I really wanted to get Indra a special doll. I found this company that trains and gives women refugees a livelihood. And the dolls are so incredible. The packaging was pretty cool as well! It came all the way from Dharamsala.Farmer’s market with Grandpa.

And that sums up our summer.


 “The idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Can you ever be prepared for something so completely unexpected and devastating? The past couple years Laurie had been struggling to heal from Lyme disease, and ever the stoic and positive woman, you rarely heard her complain. She did not let on how poorly she was feeling, and when she did she, downplayed it with affirmations of how she was healing and would be stronger than before. We all knew she was trying to overcome this obstacle with positivity, and naively, there was a part of me that believed her. Or maybe I just wanted to believe her, not wanting to entertain that these could be permanent symptoms. I wanted to believe she would always be strong and healthy.  When she started having pain in her chest we thought, the doctors knew. We trusted them too much. This was exactly the same mistake Laurie had felt she’d made with others, and now it seemed we were doomed to repeat it with her. It all seems so foolish in hindsight. Ezra drove down to Iowa to be with his parents when she had a stress test. The doctor didn’t pursue further tests, or thoroughly investigating as we now know, and instead moved on to try and find another culprit for the pain.

All of this does not matter in hindsight, except that it was her heart. Her beautiful heart. It was this heart that made everyone fall in love with her. A heart that could encompass so much love and make everyone feel so special and cared for and respected. She made you feel like the most important person in the world. It’s hard not to look back and wonder if I made her feel the same in return. She was my mother too and best friend and did I take that for granted? I’ve heard about the regret people feel after a loved one passes, but I’ve never experienced it before. Now I know. Its pointless to dwell, but I have regret from that last weekend we spent with her. Ezra and I were so exhausted from our trips back-and-forth to Alexandria. We were unusually out of sorts and wrapped up in our own exhaustion and world. Months later we still talk about how strangely we both felt that weekend. But how could we have know this was the last precious weekend we’d spend together. I thought we’d see her again the following weekend, again, how foolish.

Laurie passed away early on April 6th, 2017. Writing this is surreal and feels empty. The woman that I would spend hours on the deck with, confiding in and drinking wine. We could connect in such a soulful way. She told me I was her daughter, and I believed she meant it. She thought I was way better than I am. She thought I was spiritual and calm and peaceful. She thought much more highly of me than I deserved. She was the person I looked to for guidance, one of the few people I really trusted. She was the one who was spiritual and peaceful and giving. I’m not sure she ever quite knew her worth. People like Laurie are just so heartbreakingly rare. I have never met anyone like her. I see so much of her in Indra and this gives me immense peace and comfort. My daughter got to meet her Grandma, although, she will never understand just how incredible she was. That is what makes me the most sad. That she will never know and remember her Grandma’s love. But it was also having Indra in our lives during this time that lightened our hearts and offered a welcome distraction.

The following month was a blur and hard to look back on. That first week we stayed at Josh and Jill’s with Dave. We were all together, day in and day out. We needed to be together, and has since bound us more closely.  We had Laurie’s Celebration of Life of life in Iowa. It did not feel like a celebration even though I know Laurie would have wanted it to be. It was a time to get through and survive, and then try to figure out how to move forward. Ezra and I decided to move to Iowa to be with Dave for awhile. The decision felt good. Healing.

As a family unit we all bonded together, each others’ anchors as we sorted through the grief and shock. None of it felt real. How could our Laurie be gone? Going through every possible scenario and trying to figure out where we went wrong, or what could have done differently never made it easier. We never got answers. We just had to accept that our lives were forever changed. The woman we love so dearly, our rock, had passed on. Now it was up to us to honor her through her memories and the valuable lessons she taught us all.

Her three grandchildren in the matching pjs she gave.

Laurie’s ashes. Indra started touching the box and kissed it.

Writing messages of love on these lanterns.


Finding joy amongst Laurie’s daffodils on Indra’s first Easter.Nine Months

First Fall

“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.” -Naeem Callaway

Indra is three months old now and so much has changed. I’m feeling more secure in this new role. I’m making mom friends and joined an ECFE class. Because we don’t know how to keep things simple, Ez took a job in Alexandria, which means a two hour commute back-and-forth every week. Indra has a hard time in the car, so for the two of us, this was a three to four hour drive. After all, it takes some time to stop and shed tears together! There were weeks we were unable to go to Alexandria, so with some trepidation, I stayed home alone with a three-month old. Despite these obstacles we are hoping for the best, grateful that Ezra had this opportunity, and know we were working towards our future. Living in a one bedroom and taking this job was for a purpose. We were working towards our dream, and that dream was now even more important with a baby.

Birth Class friends

Not a fan of tummy time, but more enjoyable at ECFE.
Fall photos at Nana and Papa’s.
  This little chick’s first time trick-or-treating!    In just this one month Indra changed so much. She became so observant and aware. She’d watch me eat pineapple is complete fascination, or watch feathers above her swaying, or notice Diesel walking by. She began to hold on to things. She likes to stand and started to put her hands on my face. When I’d say “kiss” she opens her mouth. She’s wants to be more mobile, trying to roll over and scoot out of her chair. She did finally complete a roll from back to front! She does the boat pose which everyone finds hilarious. It’s her pilates move. She has a crazy strong core and will lift both legs up and slap them down, like a whale tale. She is starting to grasp at her toys and holds rattles and found her thumb. She makes this “kheeee” sound. She slept in a crib for the first time! She started a sleep regression. She got sick for the first time – just a low-grade fever but enough to freak me out. She does a little fishy move with her arms. She holds onto me when she nurses and makes a “hmmmm mmmm mmm” sound. She likes to scratch at the mesh in her bassinet and loves the Regalo label on the toddler rail. She notices everything! 


But the best change is seeing more and more of her personality coming out. We’re starting to see who she really is. She is the happiest baby. Everyone, and I mean everyone, comments on it – strangers, relatives, friends, everyone. When someone smiles she smiles back, its just an automatic reaction. Her eyes light up and a smile flashes across her face. Even when she’s tired she will (almost) always reward you with a sweet smile. Even Diesel is drawn to her. A grumpy old cat that seeks her out. As soon as we lay her down, he runs across the room and plops down next to her. He loves to nuzzle her with his head or place his paw on her.
A collage of friendship!

First time volunteering at ARC! Dancing and doing affirmations in the mirror.
Four months – how did that happen! Thanksgiving – BonEash style.   As her mom, I want to remember everything. But since I have a bad memory I need pictures. I even want to remember her sad and tired faces. 

I always thought it sounded so cliché, but seriously where has the time gone? Every moment feels like such a gift, I try to focus on how lucky I am to have this precious time, not on how fleeting it is. Its like a mandala, these beautiful little moments that I can’t hang on to. They’re impermanent. Being a mother makes me in the moment like I’ve never been before.Just snapshots of our days.
Hanging out at Target. No crying and just chilling in the cart to her white noise.

Its official, Indra is a snuggler. She never wants to be put down. Carry her, wear her, lay down with her, its all fine. We traded the bassinet for the crib, but she still sleeps with us. I worried for awhile about doing everything all wrong. Then I read something that resonated with me – babies were happier when worn and slept with their parents. I decided right then and there that I would just go with my intuition and take her lead. My goal as a mother is for Indra to trust me. So much development is happening in her brain these first three years, I want those happy neurological pathways to be formed and reinforced! If my tiny baby wants touch and reassurance, well then I am happy to give it to her. No more second guessing and questioning.  It seems to make us all happy. In our ECFE class Ezra and I said our favorite moment is when Indra wakes up and looks between the two of us and just smiles. We’re a little unit of love and happiness.

Hanging out by the lake in Alexandria. Trying to soak in some sun and good spirits.
Hey look, I have a thumb!A sunny fall weekend with Grandma and Grandpa. Time to buy a crib! Officially outgrown the bassinet she never sleep in. We don’t want to say goodbye.

Baby cage!

First time voting – We’re With Her! One of our favorite pastimes is simplifying and minimizing. During this pursuit we found some technology from the past. Sambusa Sunday with the Somalian community. Showing our support!I don’t like tummy time, but I can’t help but smile anyway!

 So happy to see my Illinois cousins!  First grainy Thanksgiving family picture!Grandma’s girl Because baby butts are cute… and funny. Bathtime!

spring showers

“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abe Lincoln

Back in Minnesota I was adjusting my attitude towards the idea of living in the Midwest. I’ve known disappointment plenty of times in my life but for some reason this was especially difficult for me. Not normally a crier, this became a new part-time hobby. Looking for apartments made me cry. Ezra accepting job interviews made me cry. It wouldn’t take much to set me off. Not wanting to be so affected by my emotions I made a conscious effort to shift my attitude and short-term (dear god please) expectations. 

So we found an apartment, I set up a little balcony garden and enjoyed the pool once it was warm enough. I dove into finishing my Shiatsu CEs to keep up my certification, and we went thru our garage and sold, donated and organized much of what was in storage collecting dust. And I started to nest in our little one bedroom abode.


I started shifting my thoughts towards motherhood. We took a birth class that was incredibly eye opening and transformative in our preparation for childbirth. It was this class that convinced me to switch my care to the MN Birth Center. Back in January was the first time we attempted orientation, but there was a fire alarm that set off the sprinklers and thus it was cancelled. The second time we got a flat tire on the way. For awhile I gave up on it thinking maybe these were signs. Our class made me realize I should give it one more try and it ended up being one of best decisions I’ve ever made. This was where my wishes would align with the care I would receive. So while I hadn’t planned to get one – I scheduled an ultrasound and sent all my records to show we were low risk. We wanted minimal intervention and so at 23 weeks we saw the baby for the first time and watched the heart beating. Forgoing dopplers for fetoscope, we’d still not heard the heartbeat. So it was a surreal and profound moment. There really was a baby in there and I was a mother.

Twenty-three weeks


In Iowa with the original mother.img_7254

Being silly!img_7427 img_7431img_1186

On the upside of being in the Twin Cities (and if I’m being fair there are many) was being around family who was very supportive and excited for us. We visited Ez’s parents a couple times and my sister for Easter.

What happens when Uncle Ez comes for a visit.


Twenty-six weeks


Birthday for Soren!


 Our families threw a couple of fun showers with all the silly games and tasty treats. Everyone made us feel so special and cared for. We received so much support and gifts for the babe. My sister calls it the modern day equivalent to living in a village – looking out for the mother-to-be. I love thinking of it this way. 

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What happens when a boy attends an all girl shower.

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My parents had wanted to take us out for an engagement dinner back in the day, but because we had a very short engagement it never happened. So instead a year-and-a-half later they took us all out to celebrate the baby. It’s not often that we’re all together!

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The kids loved the “baby sake,” otherwise known as Sprite.

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Listening with my fetoscope to the baby’s heartbeat.


Twenty-nine weeks


Another shower with Iowa family!

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Spring has sprung!

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View behind our apartment. We literally live on the other side of the tracks.


Our dear friend Chris (affectionately known as AK47) whom we met in Malawi arrived back to the US and his first stop was in Minneapolis for a conference. So very serendipitous how to world works some times. So he stayed with us for a night and we heard about the rest of his travels and future plans.


Always a pleasure to hang with my nephews and stuff our faces with frozen yogurt. Indulging my pregnancy sweet tooth.

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Birthdays and the beginning of summer!


There are no words needed for this picture. This is just how Levi rolls.img_7760

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Thirty-three weeks


One more trip to Champaign before the baby comes. Memorial day weekend! I was feeling particularly lazy on this trip and took lots of naps. We did make it to the lake but you wouldn’t catch me swimming in this freezing water. Kids are crazy!

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Thirty-four weeks


Soren’s 5th grade graduation!!


My Aunt asked to take a few maternity pictures of us. We were given quite the photo shoot.


Thirty-five weeks


Thirty-six weeks


Thirty-seven weeks


While it was a hard few months for both of us transitioning in so many emotional and physical ways (and trying to be supportive and positive for Ez who was working a crazy 75 hours a week), it was also an incredibly spiritual time. It was a time to practice acceptance and gratitude. I may not have always done this with grace but I made an effort to be happy. After all, I had a special being growing in me, a loving family, my health and the ability to transform my thoughts. If only I’d try.

Thirty-eight weeks


Thirty-nine weeks


Preparing for Zuo Yuezi (aka: Sitting Moon). Cooking up congee, soups and healing herbal decoctions for the month after labor.


Three days to go…


Just waiting now…


July 15th – two days late and the night I go into labor


home for the summer

“The wound is just where light enters the body.” – Rumi

I was excitedly anticipating being home for the summer. Initially the thought was for one month, maybe a little longer, to really visit with family and friends. However this turned into almost 2.5 months and was nothing we anticipated. In some regards it was the best few months and in others some of the most trying. I left feeling drained and sad and also grateful for the moments of what felt like grace.


My summer garden.

It was truly a summer of family. I arrived home to my grandpa in the hospital and my grandma’s health slipping quickly away from us. I am grateful for all the time I spent with them and for the overnights with my grandma. Waking up at their house and being able to help in the small ways felt like such a gift. When my grandma passed I was rubbing her head, kissed her and said “I love you.” She was in her home surrounded by all the people who loved her. It was a sacred moment and a privilege to be present with her as she passed thru what will follow for us all. On my wedding day she told me that she loved me from her ancestral soul. And I her. I loved her deeply and I felt this loss deeply.



memorial flowers for my grandmaIMG_1659 


There was joy this summer too. My baby sister got married and she looked beautiful and glowed with happiness on her momentous day. Leading up to the event were showers and rehearsals and her Hen party. It was a fun couple weeks!


wine tasting and bra pong.

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gorgeous, huh?


The rest of the summer was a bit of a whirlwind. We were a little untethered and felt adrift between multiple cities and states. It felt like every couple of days we were in a new bed. I loved spending so much time with everyone. Though there was very little time for anything else. And while we left thoroughly exhausted, we felt we squeezed the most out of each moment and reconnected to the ones we love the most!

A week at the lake!


IMG_1382 IMG_1379 IMG_1354 IMG_1325Breaking in to the old apartment!IMG_1619

A visit to Champaign, Illinois followed by a detour to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.


Little gamers.

IMG_1540IMG_1764IMG_1527We spent some wonderful time with Ezra’s parents and our nephews in Iowa. Ez also went on a trip with his brother Josh to Ireland. But because I was not on this trip he’ll have to document it sometime in the future. Meanwhile I had great chats with my sister-in-law Jill and fun overnights. Somehow we did not take any pictures?!? Jill, we need to work on this!

Homemade cherry pie and tofurkey dogs – the tastes of summer!

 IMG_1512IMG_1523 IMG_1484IMG_1516Road trippin’ back to Minneapolis.IMG_1612

Birthday cake and getting ready for our trip!


Finished off the summer repairing our house’s sidewalk, taking in a Twin’s game, birthday shopping with my mama and holding Olive my cousin’s Bearded Dragon.

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I happened across this gem and just have to share it. Love the hair and outfits!


ode to summer

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”  ~Lin Yutang

There is nothing better than a midwest summer. Except perhaps one thing – seeing your family and friends after a year and a half away. Coming home felt sweet and I was excited to be around loved ones and to be still. We started making the rounds through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Then immediately moved into our new apartment directly across the hall from my little sister. This would be months of fun, especially because Ezra would soon be taking off for his new position in London the following week. Well at least I would be still for awhile.



We followed up our tour of the midwest with our annual family vacation up north. There was a lot of serious puzzling, gaming and relaxing. It was a bit chilly but we got out on the lake and soaked up the few days of sunshine.

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The rest of the summer was filled with soccer games, bridesmaid dress shopping and birthday parties galore. I’m surprised there was time for work!



One last trip to Champaign and Chicago rounded out the end of the summer.


And then it was time to get ready for the wedding that Ezra and I decided to throw (with much help from family) for the next month. Who needs a year when you can do it in a few weeks?! It was a wonderfully full and happy summer with lots to celebrate.