Moments from the week

On Sunday morning I looked out my back windows and saw this:


What is it about the sight of a hot air balloon on a still, summer morning? It just sets your week off with the right tone. And that it did.

Laying in bed on Wednesday night, long after the kids had gone to bed, I looked over at Brock and told him “today was a good day”.  Nothing spectacular, nothing earth shattering just a good old fashioned day of hard work, laughter and tired kiddos.

Today was another one of those good days. As the girls sleep, the boy lays curled up on my feet while I type. He looks like this now.


His colors are starting to fade from the dark brown he was born with to the wheat color he will live his life as. It makes me a touch sad to have such a visual reminder of how quickly time can move. But I am glad now that we took this chance on that crazy dog. He makes the end of the day so perfect.

So on to the summary from the week. The following have spoken to me to over the last seven days- all in their own way and for their own reasons.

What I am listening to this week:

People wonder why I love bluegrass and country. This is it. Loving the cover of Born this Way!

What I am reading this week:

Yes I really did just finish this book! AND Brock and I are taking the girls to see Jase speak in Columbus at the end of July. I don’t care if you judge me.

What moved me this week:

I heard this story on my way into work this morning. It stopped me in my tracks.

A Moment Becomes a Memory-Washington DC

This picture pretty much sums up our entire trip to Washington DC.


I could post thousands of pictures of our adventure: girls in front of the White House, girls at the Smithsonian, girls at Mt Vernon, girls at a amusement park in Lancaster, Pa.

But honestly 20 years from now my girls will not remember them. They will look at the pictures and say “Wow Mom we went to the White House?” or “Mom I don’t remember Mt Vernon”.

What they will remember is the moment behind the above picture.

They will remember the feeling of walking into the hotel after long 90 degree days of sightseeing to see the fruit infused water the hotel left for its guests.

They will remember the squeals of delight as they saw which fruits the hotel decided to use that night to flavor the water.

They will remember the taste of  cold water on their tongues and the pure joy in Ellie’s voice as she asked for more.

They will remember Brock and I’s unfiltered laughter as they drained the entire pitcher each night and the hotel staff was forced to come out and refill (smiles on their faces as well).

Learning from this trip-

I can plan millions of adventures for my little family.

I can spend hours mapping out the best venues for fun.

What I cannot force are which moments will become memories.

Moments from the week and a brief look back

My husband reminded me this morning that it has been over a decade since we lived in DC. This weekend we take our kids for the very first time. We left there as 20 somethings full of appreciation for the city that jump started our careers and now we get to head back and see it through the eyes of our girls. I remember how I hated the hot, crowded summers in DC when taking the metro to and from work you just wished that all of the tourists/families would go home and give you your city back…….hee hee… now we are them. lugging strollers on to the metro, attempting to silence screaming toddlers. ahhh the pain we will inflict on a new generation!

So to wrap up this week here is some of what moved me:

What I listened To:

Hey pretty girl just makes me smile.

And this one. I need not say anything. Just listen and you cant help but move.

What I Am Reading:

This was one of my husband’s finds. Taking it with me on the road this weekend.

What Inspired Me:

Thanks to Rhoe for this one. “Serve where you stand”


Oh poop.

This week I have failed horribly at my challenge. Confronted with opportunities to look up all week long and I didn’t take it. I didn’t want to. I was too focused on myself.

There was the nurse at the doctor’s office I was exceptionally impatient with after I waited for over 45 minutes to see the doctor.  She apologized profusely to me and offered that they had some challenges with an “in office procedure”  and were running late.

I didn’t offer anything in return- no ” that’s alright” or “I understand”. I gave no grace and did not see her as a person but only as a barrier to my appointment being on time.  I huffed and puffed throughout my office visit until I got to my car. Sitting behind the steering wheel thinking about how I was now late to pick up my kids which would of course make me late for the evenings extra curricular activities, my thoughts were interrupted as the nurse’s comment about “challenges with a procedure” smacked me in the head. Holy cow Dahlberg.  It’s not all about you.

Then there was the evening spent with Sid at riding lessons. The chance to engage with Sid’s teacher (as I have been meaning to ask her how a 21-year-old college student  manages classes, teaching and maintaining a barn full of horses) and instead I sat in my car making another mental to do list and returning more work phone calls that I had not gotten to that day. I called two employees at 6:30 that night. 

Wow, boss of the year. Instead of creating for my team the sense of work/ family balance, I made them feel as if they are on call 24/7 all because I didn’t get to them during regular business hours.

And finally there was the unfortunate fellow who tried to engage me in conversation at the McDonald’s drive through. Poor teenager just trying to do his job, but me frustrated that I had to wait for the next batch of sweet tea to brew. How dare he ask me about me day while I had screaming children to feed, dogs that needed let out at home, emails that had to be answered and laundry that needed finishing.

So I guess now all that’s left to do is what I did not do for others- give myself some grace. I will pick myself up from the remnants of the last seven days and make my way into a new week.  A week with the same amount of stories I am sure; the difference being this time I will actually listen to them.


When I read this entry last year from one of my all time favorite writers, Rick Bragg, it literally took my breath away.

I sat with it for a long while before I put a pen to paper. Writing as everyone can attest is an organic process that comes to you when you least expect it. In my case it was a job opportunity nestled smack in the center of my hometown and the chance to go home again. I turned down the chance to return but the lingering effects of saying good-bye to my hometown in a more permanent fashion stuck with me. From there the following emerged.



This place that I had struggled to “escape” from for my entire youth. It represented what I didn’t think I wanted or needed.

Salt of the earth, hard-working, pull yourself up by your boot straps kind of people. People who didn’t hesitate to stop and offer a hand to those in need but also knew every aspect of your existence. From your first day of  kindergarten to how you like your eggs cooked, your story was a piece of the fabric of the community. I believed they didn’t get me- my poetry, my drama, my need for space.

So I ran.

First to a wealthy university in a small midwestern town and to Europe for time abroad, then on to DC to chase my dreams.

Finally I settled in a midwestern, midsize city where no one knew me. Over time I learned my story revolved around what I wanted to tell not what those knew of me from childhood.

In a moment of middle-aged identity crisis I turned around and looked. I realized I had for 17 years been caught up in something superficial and I longed for home.

The place where you counted by generations how long your family had been a part of the fabric of the city.

The place where on sunday afternoons, after church, the world stopped and you all watched your team.

The place where you had your own shared “language”. Words like gum band and yinz where ways to connect with each other not language barriers.

The place where the lady down the street knew your parents by name and didn’t hesitate to call them when she caught you in the backseat of a parked car on a saturday night with a boy you thought wanted you “forever”.

Maybe that place exists in everyone’s history.

Maybe my place is not all that unique.

Maybe everyone has a Pittsburgh they call home.

But what aging has taught me is that no matter how far you travel you cannot escape the places that molded you.

You will always come back to the start.

And so now I long for that for my three young girls.

A place which knows them so intimately that they too as an 18-year-old long to escape from  “home” and to become unknown in a  foreign  land.

A place which makes them uncomfortable with all of its knowledge of their teenage souls.

The years of aging also tend to make you look back and pause to say thank you.

Thank you for making home uncomfortable but comfortable.  Beautiful and broken.

But, most of all, thank you for providing me with a foundation.

I will no longer run from my history as it has now become my refuge.


Dr. Willis Potts- Chicago, 1958

This is Dr. Willis Potts.


I met him this week although he passed away in 1968.

My mother in law Penny is in the midst of an unexpected health crisis and you see Dr Potts operated on her back in 1958. The work of Dr. Potts would have never crossed my path had it not been for the events of this past week. When I learned of his role in my mother in law’s life I knew I had to find out more about him. Rediscovering a passion for learning that I had not seen in myself in my 14 years post college, I found myself over the last few days scouring the internet in an attempt to dive deeply into the life of Dr. Potts.

When they met, Penny was a four-year old from rural Ohio (ie population less than a 1000) and Dr. Potts was a famous cardio thoracic surgeon who was pioneering techniques on children. Penny and her mother made the long journey from the pastures and farmland to the big city of Chicago to see this giant of a physician.

I am in awe of my husband’s grandmother-to live where they lived and how they lived but to find a way to get their daughter the most cutting edge care imaginable at the time. She was a warrior mom who would stop at nothing but the best for her young child.

Dr. Potts packed Penny on ice (not just her heart her whole body) and operated to repair a hole, a congenital defect that had been there since birth.

What we learned this week is that not many children born with this condition at the time survived into adulthood and those that did had complications. You see back then children’s hospitals didn’t spend time operating on these kids. Their primary focus was on things like appendicitis. Dr. Potts was the chief of surgery at Memorial Children’s and resolved that the field of pediatric surgery needed to be expanded and therefore dedicated significant time and resources to changing that in Chicago.

So a young girl and her mother take a chance on a physician and his team thousands of miles from home and the surgery is successful. Not only does it work but she lives for 56 years without a single complication.

 Dr. Potts wrote the following in a book he authored back in 1959, just a year after he operated on Penny:

 “I want to dedicate this book to the child that has the misfortune of being born with a serious deformity. …. The infant with no language but a cry and the child with no words to express the desire to be well and normal ask that we make available to them the benefits of increased knowledge of their surgical diseases”.

I have read that Dr. Potts was a deeply religious man. His faith in God served as the foundation for his work. The belief that we as a society will be judged by how we treat the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

Dr. Potts has long since left this earth as has my husband’s grandmother.  But to think that the persistence of this mom and this surgeon lead to the  joyful life of a woman I call my second mom is remarkable.

I struggle to find the words when I live in a moment like this.

When the weight of the knowledge I have discovered bears down on my chest.

The life I have today was made possible by the faith and dedication of a man and a women decades removed from where I sit now.

The only words that make sense are thank you.

This Beautiful Life

These are the faces of three little girls after 10 hours in the car (it should have been a 8.5 hour road trip) awaiting the arrival of their uncle.


These are the faces after seeing their Uncle.



And here are their happy faces as we toured Richmond and Petersberg, VA over Memorial Day weekend with their Uncle who was on a weekend pass from Ft. Lee.


We toured a Civil War Battlefield.



Photographic evidence that we clearly disobeyed park rules.


They also learned what it was like to live in that era.


Clearly from Ellery’s standpoint they had crayons.


And Hope decided that she would have been a Union soldier.


Ellery was a little angry at the end of day 1. She had expected shrimp and grits for dinner and was clearly disappointed when we opted for a quick meal of hamburgers at 5 Guys.


Day 2 had us eating more in downtown Richmond and soaking up  history at Shirley Plantation.






And finally one oddity from the trip. Every time we drove by this shop situated in front of our hotel it was closed or else believe me we would have gone in. Cigars, novelties and scooters? Would have liked to be in the room when they decided on that business plan. “Hey Tom why don’t we open a shop that sells cigars and scooters in the same place. People will LOVE IT”.