my little prince






celebrating ridley’s first birthday







what a blast we had on saturday, celebrating ridley’s first birthday. and as it should be, i think the birthday boy had the most fun of all. he reveled in the attention and singing and hot dog eating and TOYS! so many cool toys. planes, trains, automobiles. transportation in all its forms. and balls. ridley received a fabulous ball collection. and books and the cutest duds.

i think the party was just his style. a bunch of people gathered around without too much fuss or attention – just enough for him to turn on the charm and show off a bit. he is such an entertainer, this one. he’s happiest at home. and with food. and with his toys. so that’s what we did. we got to eat hot dogs (in fitting with the baseball theme) and everyone sipped sodas and cracked peanuts and gobbled up popcorn. and then elinor helped open presents while ridley jumped right into playtime. he was a happy boy. and he has been tossing balls and vrooming cars and trains and boats around the house ever since. he’s the best. and if the past few days are any indication of how age one will be, then we are in for a treat.


happy birthday, little prince. we ALL love you.


dear little prince | twelve months | one year









dear little prince,

you gave me a lot of stink face in our twelve month photo shoot. and with good reason. i have similar sentiments about all this turning one business. sheesh.

just like that, you have been ushered out of the baby phase and swiftly into toddlerhood. and now, we begin to count in years. not days or weeks or months. years. and if this past year is any indication of how time goes, you will be sixteen years old in the blink of an eye.

speaking of blinking…you have perfected the flirty blink-wink. slow and charming. paired with a sweet smirk. you are trouble, mister. oh, and if your mama and papa happen to take our eyes off of you for a second, you take full advantage and move swiftly from charmer to mischievous sneak. you hide behind the curtains. you yank the cookbooks from the shelves. you try to snatch your sister’s water cup. you splash in the dogs’  water bowl. you pounce on charlie. you zoom your cars all around the house. you tackle your sister. you dig in the plants. you open and close the kitchen cabinets. and sometimes, you climb on in. you are playful and curious and fearless.

and when you are done being a ball of energy, you are done. you grab your blanket and dramatically plop yourself on the floor and spread out with a sigh. that’s my cue to ask you if you are ready to sleep. and with that, you pop up and nod your head yes. a big emphatic happy YES. i love that you know your limits. that you enjoy your rest and that you love to recharge and have your quiet time in your man cave. you love your cool, dark room. and p.s. you are not sure about all this summertime heat. being warm sure irks you. but what you do love? splashing around in the water to cool off. oh man. you are such a water baby.

the one year mark is an amazing one. it is marked with clinginess and teething and some frustration as you are discovering the relationship to the world around you. you exhibit kick-fits when you don’t get your way. you protest when we make you do something that’s not your cup of tea. the strong will is definitely making itself known. and we are doing our best to help you navigate all the new things in your life and adapt to change and increased mobility and huge mental leaps. you are developing new things all over the place! adding words to your vocabulary. babbling away. standing on your own. taking teeny steps (only when your sister is playing with you and you don’t think we are watching). sprouting teeth. making connections. drinking from a big boy cup (and dropping your bedtime feeding). it’s a tough job, being a one year old. but you are doing marvelously, little man. getting through the tough stuff with aplomb and barreling into the independence of toddlerhood. you want to do pretty much everything on your own. except for when you absolutely MUST not be on your own. those times when you just want to cuddle or put your arm around my shoulder and read a book. flipping the pages and mimicking as you go. what a complicated time. and what an incredible time.

you are a force, that’s for sure. and you are also such a hoot. you make exaggerated expressions to elicit a laugh. you crack jokes. you bop your head and dance. your playtime is crazy and always entertaining. and giving bear hugs is your favorite. you also love to throw things. you have a solid pitch. and you make loud explosion sounds when you “bomb” things, dropping objects from high above your head, to the ground. such a boy. and such fun.

and you are one smart cookie. and such attitude. it is so amazing to see those wheels turning. you are always searching for something new to discover. and grabbing and swatting and inspecting. you are always learning and you are always astonishing  with you wit and skills. you have the funniest growl as you play. and you squeal when you are happy. you have a robust vocabulary that is a mix of real-deal words and sound effects. you say papa and mama and ceecee (sissy – elinor) and ball and dah-ee (doggie) and hi and up and yeah-yeah (how you say yes and agree with things, usually accompanied by a nod of approval). you also communicate with sound effects for: uh oh and thank you and night-night. and you ramble away in your own delightful language. so chatty! and you love to point at things to show us your world and tell us where to go and what to do.

you have brought us so much joy. such levity. and all kinds of toy car filled messes. we are delighted and honored and thrilled and overwhelmed by the blessing of your life. we thank God that He chose us to be your family. you are such a treasure. so strong and fierce and determined. so happy and content and darling. we can’t wait to see how you are used by God for His mighty work.

happy birthday! xo.

your mama + papa + sissy

and for a little stroll down memory lane

birth announcement

dear little prince

the story of ridley’s birth

sous | smile | sabbath


my little sous chef. she is all about helping me in the kitchen. and i definitely want to encourage this. she has always been a little foodie and so eager to hang out wherever food is nearby, but her interest in learning more and really getting in there has blossomed in the past month or so. she wants to know exactly what is on the menu for the day. she wants ingredient lists and preparation methods. she asks such interesting and insightful questions. she wants to know ALL ABOUT IT.

so often, i rush through things. especially dinner prep. when dinnertime rolls around, i am usually on a mission. the kids wake from their nap at 4pm which is roughly when ben gets home. i nurse ridley and the kids enjoy le goûter and play while i prep dinner. it is our unwind time. we recap the day. the kids pounce on papa. it is noisy and playful.

i like to get dinner on the table on the earlier side of things since we are early bedtimers and early risers and we are old folks like that. and i admit that my dinner prep time can often be all about my getting things done. i move around quickly and move things along. i can have tunnel vision and distractions tend to annoy me. BUT i am working on engaging with elinor during this time. instead of having her watch from the sidelines, i have been inviting her to pull up a stool and put on her apron and get in there. and while it might add a few minutes and A MILLION MORE QUESTIONS to the process, it is such fun. i love this time with her. she is genuinely interested in what goes into meal preparation and genuinely wants to be a helper. she helps with mise en place and stirring and pouring and measuring. she collects bits of food and adds them to the pan. and she is quickly absorbing all the kitchen etiquette (and safety…she loves to wear the “giant gloves for hot things”). it’s the very best.


this smily boy. he has such a pleasant and cheerful demeanor. and he is especially happy when his papa gets home. the moment he sees ben enter the house or the room, he bounces and bops and squeals and lets out a joyful puhPAAAAAH sound. and if he isn’t busy eating, he will make a beeline for ben. head down and crawling as fast as he can until he reaches ben’s feet. then he will sit up on his knees and pat ben’s feet and bounce up and down while raising his arms up with an eager uuuuuuhhhh (up) sound.

and when he is with papa, it is smile-city. he messes with his beard and pats his chest and lovingly swats at his nose. and nuzzles. i love watching them together. they goof around and play and babble. they play catch. they horseplay. rough and tumble but also super sweet. this father-son business is all sorts of heart-melting.


a scene from sabbath. we cuddled up with the book of common prayer for some family reading time. and while ben was reading the psalms, elinor reached out and grabbed both of our hands so we could “hold hands a-gether”. she remained this way for a good five minutes until folding her hands during prayer. what a precious time. this is the stuff. watching as her heart becomes tender toward the things of the faith. listening as she slowly sings “jesus loves me”. hearing her honest prayers – sharing her heart with God. observing her connecting the dots and beginning to understand the eternal meaning of things. learning verses. making choices. praying for self control and a clean heart. asking for forgiveness.

it is…indescribable. parenting these lives, raising them up, pointing them toward christ, sharpening these arrows of mine. what a TREMENDOUS honor and blessing and calling. Soli Deo Gloria.

oh, snap!


we are having a bunch of “behind the scenes” fun over on snapchat. if you are playing in that sandbox, i would love to be buds. and if you haven’t taken the plunge, you totally should. it’s a little less curated and a whole lot more le quotidien, if you will. you can add me by username (madameswanky) or just screenshot that image up top and add a friend by snapcode. super cool and super easy.

don’t expect anything too inventive or outlandish or consistent. when i do snap, it’s mostly cute captures of the little ones and food and occasional #randomrachel moments. i am no pro (seriously, though…there are some amazing snapchat artists and creative folks using the platform with such panache!) but it is a fun place to play and i am all for some of that. aaaand i would love to hear any recommendations for “must follow” accounts. it’s fun to see the crazy things that people come up with… and you know that anyone who shows a lot of tasty food will make my list.

but for anyone that is like, “um, no thanks…no snap for moi” then i thought i would share just a few of my favorite recent snaps. snapchat 101: the platform lets you take images or quick videos and either share them directly with friends or you can share them with all the people who follow you and build out more of a story. you can add filters (or, funny faces as elinor calls it) and captions and emojis. you can color and create your own wording and art. like i said, it’s pretty much about fun and play.

so, enjoy! and happy friday! xo.