we had our ups and downs but, overall, traveling with miss ramona bean is always such a treat. and seeing west coast family (who we haven’t seen in three years!) was so special.


i’m not quite sure why we waited so long. i mean, i’m thinking it was a bit of my lack of confidence in anyone but myself (and only recently, jp) to put my daughter to bed and take care of her if/when she woke up later (bc she always wakes up later). maybe it was also that the thought of her wailing in someone else’s arms would interrupt my enjoyment away.

but now i realize all that was silly. i mean, justifiable since i am a mama who cares deeply for my little bean and desires for her to have sound sleep and feel secure. but, yes, silly. bc when jp came home from work yesterday and ordered me to put on my new high heels, some red lipstick and head down the block to root down for a drink while he took care of the baby, and i did just that, and talked w some old co-workers, had a cocktail (or maybe even two) and then came home totally refreshed, i realized: i need to do that more often. bc it makes me a better mama to go away and come back with new eyes and a less weary mind and excitement that i get to see my baby.

and when jp and i got all dolled up and i tried my darndest to put ramona to sleep before the in-laws came over but she was still whimpering in her little bed when they arrived, and we just gave them some quick instructions and left before it got worse and went to our 8:15 reservation and had some amazing food and some perfectly-paired wine and talked and flirted and even argued a little bit, i realized: i need to do that with jp more often. bc it makes me a better wife to be with him without the baby sometimes and come back feeling sexier and more in love and, thus, better able to communicate.

i may always be the best person at getting ramona to sleep at night. and i may be what she wants most when she wakes up. but we will all be alright –i’m becoming more convinced that we will be better— if i step away from that role once in a while and i give myself some emily time.


dear little ramona: your papa introduced me to a love of bikes i didn’t know i had. this is even though your nona and pops had taken me on wonderful family bike rides since i was very little. that’s sorta neat, really, that a love i already had could be increased unwittingly by another love in my life.

like mother like daughter, i hope, in silliness and love of sunday afternoon bike rides.

p.s. please always wear your helmet. always. always. always.


hello, friend.

remember when we sat in the hay room feeding the newborn goats from a bottle? evan was tugging on the floppy ears of a bunny and i was probably chasing some poor chicken. our mothers, your daughters, were there sitting on hay bales listening to you instruct your grandchildren on the proper care of baby animals. i’m certain that after the baby goat was satisfactorily fed you put it back in the yard w the rest of the goats and led us over to the old cows to feed them alfalfa cubes. or maybe we dragged you out there. either way, you were always willing to spend time down at the barn with us.

your goats, at one point, were many. and you would spend peaceful hours feeding them and talking to them. you had a name for each and every one of those creatures and it wasn’t until after the strokes that you ever forgot how to address them individually. they were your kids (pun partially intended), especially after your three children had grown up and had children of their own.

and oh how we, your grandchildren, loved these goats. afternoons were spent chasing them about, petting them, tugging on their horns, and then letting them nibble treats out of our hand. we loved watching them dance and prance and kick about, frolicking about on their logs and wood structures. some were extremely friendly and we adopted those ones quickly as our favorites; they’d nuzzle us and pull at our pant legs. the other ones, shy and nervous of us at first, seemed to learn to trust and would soon follow at a safe distance, hiding behind the haunches of the more confident goats–learning about us as we were learning about them–until they had figured us out and would soon join the ranks of the congenial goats who knew they’d get more treats if they let us pet and tug and play. and if we were lucky we’d be visiting you during springtime, often easter break, where more than likely kids would be born and we could watch it happen and help tend to them and, the best part, name them. you let your goats be our goats.

and it wasn’t just the welch kids, and the lantz kids, and the driver kids that adored these goats, the whole neighborhood (at least as far as we knew) loved them too. families with children were daily stopping by to say hello to dr. lantz and visit with the goats. i always felt extreme pride that that was my grandfather and those were his goats. you got to know, not only much of mobley road bc of your barnyard friends, but most of van dyke farms too. incredible, really.

grandma lovingly supported the barn and the goats the way–i’ve found now being married myself–that you learn to support, or tolerate or just simply put up with, your lovers seemingly useless hobbies or peculiar interests. it didn’t always make sense and there wasn’t any real practical point to you raising animals, especially goats. sometimes the chickens’ eggs were eaten but no goats’ milk was consumed or flesh put on spits for celebrations. they were just your pets. dirty and expensive pets.

but they weren’t just pets and there was something quite practical about them. bc for most of your time with them those pets were your friends. and then when grandma died they were your companions and your support system. they helped you grieve. and then when you kept falling ill they were your therapy and the medicine that you needed to stay as strong and healthy as you could possibly be. without them, i don’t think these last seven and a half years would have been as bearable for you or allowed you to be as independent as you have been.

my mother told me of the last time you made it out to the barn. they walked you out there, taking breaks along the way, and sat you in a chair facing the large, lush goat yard. for some reason, when she told me of this, i imagined a wool blanket over your lap. but this was in florida where there is seldom a need for a wool blanket in the middle of the day and you are not teddy roosevelt. either way, i also imagined the moment and how you must have felt: proud of your animals and your vast land and your beautiful home; happy at what sort of passion and culture your goats helped you cultivate and share w your neighbors, your neighborhood, and your grandchildren; saddened at your inability to care for and muck around with them anymore in your galoshes and your fisherman’s hat; and ready to be with grandma again in whatever form that looks like on the other mysterious side.

I’d like to imagine that involves her on the steps of heaven, w a cup of coffee, laughing while she watches you trying to wrangle all your old goats that made it there before you.

i love you, grandpa.

love, emily


photo via poppytalk.

when ramona was baking away in my belly, jp and i mulled over a list of names that we loved for our future child. we didn’t know if little bean was a boy or girl so we had a list for each gender. we both came to the table with some names we had each loved personally. going through these names we had some “rules” for what would make the cut:

  1. the name couldn’t be popular; had to be nearly non-existent from the social security administration list of popular baby names.
  2. it couldn’t be a made-up name. or too weird. or a normal name with a funky spelling. that just would not do.

ramona it was (i explain in this post where ramona marilyn gets her name from). our boy name? we’ve told some people what it was going to be but we’re still holding on to that one in case baby power #2 is a boy.

in thinking about ramona’s name and thinking about her as a social and relational creature, jp and i get excited imagining the day when she can use her words to address us. i’ve always called my parents “mama and papa” and we plan to have ramona call us the same. looking at the caption of a recent photo on a friend’s instagram feed i realize that “mama and papa” are names also used for grandparents. so how does a family choose what names loved ones are going to go by? here’s what we did.

1. mama and papa: jp and i chose this bc it’s what i had grown up (and still do) calling my parents. i love the softness of the words; they are gentle and familiar and personal in a way that i do not find mom or dad to be. if she ends up moving away from mama and papa when she is older, that will be alright (though i very well might be a little sad about it). however neutral my opinion on mom and dad to be, i have a very strong opinion on mommy and daddy. i. do. not. like. those. names. i know, perhaps it’s an odd and snobby thing to have a strong opinion on but those words/names just always sound so whiny, never very cute, and always really weird to me when people grow up and continue calling their parents mommy and daddy. the gentleness of mama and papa are not present in mommy and daddy.

2. nona and pops: these are the names my parents go by with their grandchildren. nona comes from strega nona, a favorite childhood book character. my mother shares her whimsy and uniqueness. pops, well, bc that’s just what perfectly fits my dad: a grandpa who is always really fun, never too serious,always ready to play or use his imagination.

3. diri and dido: these are the names that jp’s parents will go by. my father-in-law is the director of U.S. partner development for global hope network international. he works with villages in developing nations, mostly in africa. in one village, they gave my father and mother-in-law (who sometimes travels with him) african names: him, dido; her, diri. i love that ramona will be calling them these unique names that were given to them out of utmost respect and appreciation (which goes to show the kind of people my in-laws are).

4. aunts and uncles: ramona has the most fabulous aunts and uncles. seriously. there is going to be no shortage of fun and spoiling and field trips and babysitters and inside jokes and tickling and love. and i can’t wait to see what names creep up for each of them. these names seem to come more from the child since there’s always an element of the first name in saying aunt and uncle. the only one we’re already planning on is uncle sticks for my brother (sticks was his longtime childhood nickname that my parents still call him; something about the way he always had a stick in his hand when out playing and exploring). but the terms aunts and uncles are, i believe, not just reserved for immediate family. it does, after all, take a village to raise a child, and our village has certainly shown it is up for the task. already amy is known as auntie amy, and there’s uncle eric and aunt lizzie and all these amazing people who have shown they love and care for our daughter and are committed to ensuring the best for her. these names won’t be pushed, of course,–ultimately it’s ramona who decides what she wants to call anyone–but giving someone a term of endearment is a way of showing respect and love and appreciation for their involvement in our little one’s life. and we hope ramona feels that way too.

what do your kids call you? what do you want to be called by your child or niece or nephew?