it matters--what do on a rainy day in Cincinnati

We've spent more time exploring locally around our home than any other Summer we've live here before. Maybe we've been emboldened by our capabilities while away on our intense month long trip out West. Maybe it's that our babies are at the perfect traveling age. Whatever it is, we've absolutely loved getting further acquainted with all the treasures near our home in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area. 

One such discovery were the A. J. Rahn Greenhouses

Imagine if the Bennet family from Pride & Prejudice converted their home to an extensive plant nursery and opened it to the public. That's what this place felt like: a haven of quiet, country elegance just out side the hum and bustle of Cincinnati. 

We arrived on an overcast day while rain drizzled in a fine mist from the overcast sky. But that didn't hinder us one bit  because almost all of the greenhouses are completely covered with lots of space for running about. It's a perfect place to come and wander on a day when the weather might have otherwise kept you indoors. 

I will unashamedly say that this place was a dream for photographers. Every corner was stuffed with old world charm, lovely growing things and cream-soft light. Jonathan captured the best shots of us just being ourselves, together.

(my favorite)

If you find yourself here, keep an eye out for the spotted cat and the canary named Ronan. The sweet, helpful staff will most likely introduce them to you if you don't happen to find them on your own. I loved just walking around here and getting to admire all the growing things. Such a quiet, healing sort of place. 

I often ponder on our children's first memories. What will they be? Will they remember in color or emotion? Will their hearts remember the strong arms of their father or scent of my skin as I wore them close? Will they recall how  we tried new foods and ventured into unknown places; doing it all together  because we hoped to gift them the spirit of adaptability? I hope so. 

I hope they know how much I believe all of it---everything we did with them--mattered more than they could possibly know. 

Scout's 1st birthday party

"And she saw the world, not always as it was but perhaps as it could be, with just a little bit of magic." -Cinderella, 2015

The back story regarding the "theme" of her party: Back in December of 2016, while pregnant with Scout, I become dreadfully sick. Severe morning sickness combined with catching two separate gastrointestinal viruses, found me dehydrated and checking into a hospital. Scout was barely the size of a kumquat swimming in my womb that day. 

As I was only 10 weeks along, they wouldn't admit me to the pre-natal wing of the hospital where I desperately wanted to be to get the best care available for my tiny babe. I couldn't shake the terror of our baby coming to harm because of how sick I was during those days. I kept requesting for the hospital nurses to use the hand-held doppler to check on our baby. To which they would apologize, saying they weren't familiar with using it and thus might be able to hear our baby. Despite them assuring me the baby was fine, my heart was wrung tight with fear. 

I spent that night alone in the hospital, my first away from Behr.  My IV became dislodged during the night and filled my hand with fluid. My body and mind were exhausted from the intensity of the last few days.  Misery clung to me like wet leaves. I was so tired. 

At last, I woke after a night of fitful sleep. My room was bright and quiet. I finally felt good enough to sit up, to sip liquids and actually rest.  Our hospital had a small movie selection for patients to enjoy. I couldn't do anything but sit in my bed waiting for the doctor to check me out so I watched movies to pass the time. The last movie I watched before Jonathan came to pick me up was Cinderella (2015).

I can't tell you how much I needed to escape into a tale of kindness and goodness triumphing over darkness in that moment.  Seeing Cinderella and Kit overcome grief and suffering with gentleness and courage lifted my head. Tears of relief and gratefulness splashed down my cheeks.  God used the beauty of that story to work healing into my tired heart. The movie finished and I looked out the window to see snowflakes softly flitting against the cold concrete of the hospital walls. I felt hopeful again. "We'll be ok, baby." I remember saying with my palm on my barely-there-bump.

And we were.

Originally, I wanted the theme of her party to be "light" because that's what her middle name, Lucy, means. We even bought the perfect twinkle lights on sale after Christmas (yes, I think that far ahead, ha!) But once I connected the dots of her love of animals and the symbolism of Cinderella in our story, I knew we had to change the theme but could still combine it all in a sweet, meaningful way.

ps. Cinderella was also my favorite Disney princess as a girl. I didn't even like princess things but I did love that movie. The sparkly scene where the fairy-godmother transforms  Cinderella's dress still enchants my childhood memories. 

When Scout was nine months old, we randomly took her and Behr to a pet store.  Scout went crazy over the French bulldog puppy they let us hold there. I had never seen my sweet-tempered, observant  daughter "loose her cool" over anything. That's when we understood that her little heart beats for animals (just like mama!). So, when the place I originally wanted to host her party was booked, Jonathan discovered that this farm hosted parties. We were ecstatic to give our girl a day surrounded by, not only her family, but also all kinds of animal friends. 

Each kid got to paint a flower pot (and plant flowers in it!), feed the sheep, ride the pony and take trip around the farm in the hay wagon pulled by the tractor. Although it was blazingly, swelteringly hot, we had the best time being together and celebrating our Scout. 

(thanks to my sisters Melissa and Emily for helping me get the shots for this post!)

And finally, it was time to sing Happy Birthday and watch our girl get her first taste of birthday cake. She fussed and squirmed until she realized what was happening. Her frustration quickly absolved once we plopped that giant cake in front of her. She didn't smash it, but chose to pick daintily at the icing with her tiny fingers. There's my quiet girl.

I want her to look back on these images and see all the details. Her pinstriped laced, Cinderella-blue dress. Her tiny gold slippers.  The animals on her cake that wearing the minuscule party hats that Daddy made. The string of square pictures that I had taken of her every week of her first year. How family from both sides showed up to cheer, clap and sing for her. I hope she sees how we all worked so hard to put it together so she would always know, "You are dearly loved, Lucy girl!

Happy 1st Birthday, Scout Lucy Arrow. You have surely brought magic into our world. Your light is brighter than we could have hoped for all those long months ago.  We're honored to be the ones to watching you grow and pray that Jesus captures your heart the way you've captured ours. 

"Lavender's green, dilly dilly. Lavender's blue. You must love me, dilly dilly. For I love you..."

Interlude- Our Airbnb in Inverness, CA

If you didn't catch part one of this series yet, you can read it by clicking here

Once we knew we'd be flying into San Francisco, our next decision was figuring out where we'd spend the first couple days of our trip. Our initial thought was to wait until the last minute and book an Express Deal through Priceline in the SF. While that is a great option in most cases, we ended up finding this place about 45 minutes outside the city. I say it a lot, but we have country souls. While we love venturing into big cities for the food, coffee shops, parks and thrilling atmosphere, we're also pretty introverted so it can wear us out quick. 

For me personally, where we stay on vacation is a huge part of me actually enjoying the vacation. And for this particular trip, I knew we'd be pushing ourselves a lot (long days of hiking and exploring big cities). So knowing we'd have beautiful, happy, clean places to recharge at the end of the day was a top priority.  

This place was a last minute booking.  And we'd return to it in a second. From the long winding drive to the house, to the many skylights that leaked sun into the home throughout the day, we loved it all. Simply put, it was magic. Read on to find out why. 

(The link to this beautiful Airbnb listing can be found at the bottom of this post.)

We pulled up to this place excited, but travel weary. Both Jonathan and I had been awake since around 3am that morning. The kids were sick of being constrained to seats and I think we were all hangry. 

We stepped inside this home and my mouth popped open like a soda can. Joy fizzled up inside me and just kept chuckling to myself, "Are you kidding me, God? How can You be this good?!" 

The vaulted, sky-lit ceilings. The wood beams that glowed like warm honey. The heart-opening view off the back deck. It was all much grander than we expected and a glorious launching point for our trip. 

The house was open, airy and bright. It all flowed together in a effortless, peaceful way. There was only one bedroom but because of the tall ceilings, we hardly noticed. I'm serious when I say we could have stayed here for a week longer and been perfectly happy to do so. 

My favorite story from this place was our first morning there. The entire home was encased in old, tall trees. As in, we could look out any window at anytime of day and see nothing but trees (except for on the back deck, with that gorgeous view of Tomales Bay). 

That morning, we each woke up in our ways, slowly, with no real plans for the day. The sun rose slowly through the mist and shimmered through the green canopy over head. 

To the left of the back deck, there was a gigantic Butterfly Bush. Jonathan suddenly noticed that the tiny black things  whirring all around it weren't insects.

They were hummingbirds. 

I can't explain it, but I've been delighted by hummingbirds my whole life.  I truly believe Jesus remembered that and lovingly included it as a sweet love note to be tucked inside this trip. 

Me and Behr snuck onto the deck and watched them whiz and chatter by with the sunrise warming the earth behind us. In those moments, I felt seen. I felt loved. 

My Father knows me. 

I think what surprised and fascinated me the most about Inverness were views as we simply drove around. I'd never seen anything like it. Imagine steep, treeless hills rising and falling sharply on all sides. Greens and golds around every turn. We were constantly gasping, pointing and feeling wonder expand in our chests as we wound through the hills. 

A little bonus about this location was the quaint, hidden gem of city named Point Reyes. This tiny place feels like you're walking into a party where everyone knows each other but is also really excited that you showed up too. The people here were friendly and informative. The grocery store was admittedly pricey but the bread from there was an amazing treat. Our favorite places were the bakery and bookstore  with their charming, creaky floors and eye-rolling good pastries. 

There were a lot of early mornings here (because our kids don't sleep in ever). There were  a lot of days spent in our pajamas, eating frozen lasagna for lunch, and tickle fights on the giant bed.

We slowed down and drank deep of the Lord's goodness here. 

Things I want to remember:

  • The way the wind tossed the trees in emerald praise above our heads just outside the door
  • The sunrises and sunsets here. Each glorious in totally distinct ways.
  • The first night when Scout hit a wall of exhaustion and confusion and the only place she would be consoled was Daddy's arms. 

We were sad to leave this place and hope in hearts to come back one day. Inverness, CA not only gave us this lovely, restful house but also the adventures of hiking in a hills that looked straight out of Irish fairytale, a walk in a grove of ancient cypress trees and a golden evening on the pacific shoreline that about made my heart implode from the weight of happiness we experienced. 

But more on that later.

Part three coming soon....


Travel Notes

  • You can find the link our home in Inverness, CA by clicking HERE.
  • If you want the best of both worlds (small town feel but access to San Francisco) and don't mind driving a little, considering staying in Inverness. We would totally do it that way again. 
  • The tiny road that winds up to this place is hard to spot and basically a one lane, so be aware of that! 
  • This place is full of windows so if your kids sleep better in the dark, it's something to keep in mind. 
  • There was only one room but there was a giant closet in the master room where we put Scout's Lotus Crib.
  • Speaking of which, it's from Guava Family and we can't recommend them enough. We bought one year's ago for Behr and still use it! Scout's Lotus Crib was generously sent over by Guava Family for me to review at my request. Full post on that coming soon!