about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    For general inquires, contact: EmilyBMalone@gmail.com.

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    A Look Back.

A Surprise Visit.

June was kind of a weird month.  We had all sorts of wonderful summer fun, but Casey also had a lot of work travel.  He went to Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, and did a long-ish stint in Europe.  Travel is just part of his job, and it tends to sort of ebb and flow – some months there is a lot, and then there might be a stretch of a month or two with no travel at all.  We go with the flow and make the most of all our wonderful time as a family of four, and when he’s gone I take lots of deep breaths and try to enjoy the extra responsibilities – like reading books to Cullen at bedtime (usually dad’s job!). 

The thing about work travel though, is that in order to prepare for visiting clients and doing business, the days leading up to travel usually involve really long hours.  All of this is to say that by the end of June, Casey and I were both really burnt out. 

He spent a few days in NYC, and then came home and worked non-stop for a week.  That week happened to be a week where my two year old pushed every button and struck every nerve.  You other mamas know what I mean?  Man, I remember saying out loud at his second birthday party, “this whole terrible two’s thing isn’t so bad!”  And one of my friends with an older little girl smiled and said, “give it ‘til two and a half.”  You win, Carly, you win.  Obviously he’s a great kid, but day after day of two kids and endless battles had just worn.me.out. 

On Friday morning, the day before Casey was set to head off to Europe, I said to him – “I have never felt this worn out going into a long stretch alone.  This is usually how I feel afterward!”  And then I went about my day – chasing the kids around, dicing up blueberries and grapes, and getting things together to help Casey get ready for his trip. 

That night, we had a fun open house event to go to at Field Roast (where we got a factory tour – super cool, but no photos allowed – wah!), so I picked up Casey after work and we all headed down together.  Graham screamed the whole way, and after an hour of bad traffic Cullen was super whiny (couldn’t really blame either of them).  I did a lot of deep breathing.

We parked and Casey handed me a card and said, “I have a present for you.”  This was huge because I LOVE CARDS – they are my favorite gift in the world.  I started to read the front and began to cry, and then I read the message inside and began to sob.  And then a piece of paper floated out, and my eyes darted all over the page trying to figure out what it was.  It took about ten seconds for me to register that it was a plane ticket.  With my sister’s name on it.  For the following morning.

And then I completely lost it.

Big fat tears falling down my cheeks, and a husband looking a tad concerned.  I finally blubbered out an “I AM SO HAPPPPPPY” and I think he was both relieved and excited.  It was the best surprise ever, and I am so eternally grateful to both of them for coming together to do something so nice for me.  Work travel is no fun but the perks of having a million frequent flier miles sure does help ease the time spent apart. 

And just like that, less than 24 hours later my favorite little sister was back in Seattle, and we were off to all our old stomping grounds together.  (For newer readers, Sarah spent two summers living in Seattle with us during college!)  First stop – Golden Gardens Beach!


Followed by an evening of Revel takeout and hours of chatting on the couch.  Nothing better!


Sunday morning was overcast and cool, and perfect for hitting up our favorite breakfast joint and then strolling along the Burke-Gilman Trail.  We walked over to Gasworks Park – Sarah’s favorite spot in Seattle – and we had the place almost entirely to ourselves. 

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I brought a blanket to crawl on for my little guy, and a ball to toss for my big guy, and we hung out for a few hours.  Cullen is a BIG Aunt Sarah fan.

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I love this picture so much.

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Because it reminds me so much of this picture from two summers ago (when Cullen was almost exactly Graham’s age!).


And of course, in between games of catch she did lots of snuggling with Graham too.  It’s funny to think that this is the age that Cullen was when Sarah spent her first summer with us.  So much has changed!

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Me and my sweet peanut – enjoying the beautiful views of the city and park, and relishing in all the unexpected family time.  (New cardigan from Stitchfix that I love – it has a HOOD!)

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When I found out Sarah was coming, I texted my babysitter to see if she was up for a last minute gig.  I thought it might be nice for Sarah to get to go out and enjoy Seattle for a few non-kid-related activities.  Thankfully, she was – so we had a fun girls’ night out!


We had a delicious dinner at Monsoon in Capitol Hill, and then walked across the street to Seattle’s newest MUST: Hello Robin.  Let me explain.  To preface, there is Molly Moon’s Ice Cream, which is Seattle’s famously amazing ice cream shop.  There are all sorts of unique and wonderful flavors like balsamic strawberry, honey lavendar, or kombucha sorbet. 

Well as if amazing ice cream wasn’t good enough, Molly and some (cookie baking) friends partnered together to open up Hello Robin.  It is a fresh cookie bakery that has a walk-up Molly Moon’s window.  But the beauty lies within the ice cream sandwich…


Omggggggg.  You have never tasted decadence quite like this.  We both got the whole wheat chocolate chip with sea salt cookies, with vanillia bean sandwiched in between.  Our cookies came hot out of the oven, which kicked up the awesome factor by one million percent.  By the last bite I was claiming I could never eat again, and by the next morning I was already plotting a return trip. 

And speaking of the next morning – Monday was gorgeous and sunny and one of those perfect Seattle days that leaves you feeling so grateful for all of the beauty here.  Casey and I had been to Carkeek Park a few weeks ago for the first time (and loved it!), and I knew it was a spot that Sarah would love too. 

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Breathtaking views in every direction, and only a handful of other people there in the early morning. 

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The beach can be a hard activity by myself with both boys, and this one in particular requires descending a really long, steep metal staircase.  I was so grateful to have extra hands for wrangling kids, filling dump trucks, and wiping sandy fingers before snack time. 

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The beach is also sort of a tough activity for a crawling, sand-eating eight month old.  Graham was a really great sport and hung out with me in the Stokke carrier.  I danced around and sang songs and played with his feet, and all four of us had a blast. 

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It was Sarah’s last day with us before an early Tuesday morning departure, and since the boys both took good afternoon naps, we decided to go for it and have one last adventure.  We slapped on the sunscreen, loaded up the stroller, and headed to Greenlake for this summer’s inaugural dip into the wading pool. 

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Graham’s first time!

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And certainly not his last.  He loved it, and I can’t wait to take him again next time in swim gear.  Thank goodness these summer days are so long, because we sure do love to pack as much into them as we can. 

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Sarah left early Tuesday morning, and Casey was back mid-day on the Fourth of July, which meant that I had a much more manageable solo stretch after she headed back home.  I filled my mornings with plans, prayed for good naps, and caught up with lots of friends on the phone. 

Dad came home and we all celebrated a festive and firework-filled Fourth together!


And then less than 24 hours later, poor Casey turned right back around and headed to the airport again.  But this time – we tagged along!  He had back to back business trips, the second being in Cincinnati (my hometown!).  So rather than be away from dad for several weeks in a row, we opted to tag along and visit with all our friends and family in Ohio this week (including seeing Sarah again for one night!). 

We are having a great week and the kids are being spoiled silly by Grandma (which is also spoiling me, because I have so much help).  Next up – talking about traveling and feeding kids on vacation!

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60 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Lara     at 9:08 pm

Wading pool! I knew I was missing something this summer! We’ve been to the spray parks but no wading pool yet.

I honestly don’t know how you do it with no family around and Casey gone so much. I feel sorry for myself a lot since my family is also out of state, but Matthew has never spent a night away since G was born because I’m pretty sure I would lose it. PLUS you have TWO! So glad you got a nice surprise.


gina (fitnessista)     at 9:43 pm

so tom is gone often, too, and i’m finally learning how hard it is without family around and you have TWO kids. you are amazing. i have to say that big fat tears fell down my face when i saw on fb that your sister made a surprise visit and again while reading this post! family is the best, and i’m so glad you’ve been able to soak up some awesome family time.
love you, friend! <3


Leah     at 9:49 pm

Aww, what a sweet, thoughtful husband you have! A surprise visit sounds like just what you needed. Looks like you guys enjoyed some great Seattle summer activities together. Enjoy time away with family!


Susie     at 9:51 pm

Love Sarah’s jumpsuit! Any idea where it’s from?


Laura @ She Eats Well     at 10:09 pm

That is SO thoughtful of your husband and your sister to surprise you with a visit. And at the perfect time! I also have to say, I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and your kids are so stinkin’ cute. Great job Mama!


Yasmine     at 2:09 am

Dear Emily, you are so courageous! I have two boys too (3,5 years old and 4.5 monthes) and I couldn’t do what you do! Take care of two boys, eat almost healthy, doing sport and have a tidy house… Bravo!


Emily @ Life on Food     at 3:00 am

What a wonderful husband! Glad you had help and some extra love.


Stephanie     at 3:40 am

You got yourself a good one, Em! I’m glad everything worked out so well! Wonderful post!


Maryea {happy healthy mama}     at 4:23 am

I’m so glad you are able to travel with Casey this time. I can’t imagine being a solo parent so often. You do a great job! Love all the Seattle pics. It looks like such a great city.


Joanna     at 5:27 am

I love these recaps, they’re the best! We have a boy Cullen’s age, and it’s so sweet to see your family’s adventures. All the best to you!


Stephanie     at 5:48 am

What a great story! Glad to hear you all had a great time with your sister :)


Sara @ LovingOnTheRun     at 5:58 am

What a wonderful surprise from your husband! I know how much it must have helped to have her there!


Shel@PeachyPalate     at 6:18 am

Beautiful family pics! Two stunners you and your sis…and those ice cream sandwiches…HEAVEN!!!


Farah @ Fabulously Farah     at 6:35 am

What a sweet post! And a sweet husband and sister. It is really nice to read a blog that talks about real life instead of making everything look like sunshine and rainbows. It looks like you and your sister had a blast. I can’t wait to read the post about traveling with kids :)


Crystal     at 6:38 am

Awww, I teared up at the big reveal. What a sweet husband and sister. And great job holding down the fort, you’re seriously impressive.


Samantha @ The Faithful Runner     at 6:40 am

Beautiful photos and story. So happy to hear you had such a fun time. :)


Katie C     at 6:41 am

So fun!! All of your pictures make me want to visit Seattle ASAP :)


Gauri     at 6:47 am

Your sister has the sweetest smile! This is such a great post. You’re looking super fit too, Emily, especially in that picture carrying Graham.

I am taking a big international trip (India — US — Scotland) with a 16 month old next month so I look forward to your next post.

Have fun at home!


Laura     at 6:50 am

What an awesome visit! Family really is the best. Thanks for sharing this beautiful post!


Sarah C     at 7:12 am

What a great post! You sure snagged a good man! You seem like such an amazing mamma who does it all! I am always so inspired by your writing. I really love these random posts, they are so fun to read! :)


Reenie     at 7:42 am

How fun…. and what a wonderful surprise. :)


Blaire     at 7:43 am

What an awesome surprise! I know you got some negative feedback a couple of posts back and I just wanted to say that I enjoy your writing and your blog and the mix of content it offers. As a mom of a 2.5 year old with one on the way, I really relate to your posts – especially about getting back into fitness and running, and making easy yet healthy meals for your family. I also enjoy seeing the family updates.

That cardigan is one of my favorite of your stitch fixes – i love a long cardigan – and a hood is even more awesome.


Blaire     at 7:44 am

Oh and a question – you had/have a brown diaper bag that looks like a hip purse. What brand is it/do you like it?


Leah G.     at 8:07 am

Work travel is always tough on the other spouse. In my case I’m the one that travels for work.

Wonderful and beautiful post, Emily! What an incredible surprise of Sarah coming to visit (very impressive that they both kept that quiet!)


Tracy     at 8:10 am

I love reading your blog!! I’m so glad previous negative comments did not deter you from continuing to be the great blogger you are! I love that you blog has changed with you as your life has changed! Your blog is one of my favorites, from the recipes to running events to family fun and visits!


Melissa     at 8:16 am

I have to say that it’s amazing to have a husband like that isn’t it?! My husband would totally do that for me if we were in your shoes, and I get stupid excited when I see someone has that kind of relationship. There is SO much negativity in the world about marriage/long term relationships, that it makes me sad. I always tell people that if I could clone my relationship with my husband and give it to people, I’d be beyond happy to do so! :)

much <3 to you!


Stephanie @ My Freckled Life     at 8:33 am

That was so sweet of Casey!! And so amazing that your sister was able to make it work as well!


ML     at 9:08 am


I was wondering what you do for the kids’ naps? I only have one- a 10 month old, and I’m struggling with her nap schedule. On the one hand, it’s awesome that she takes naps in her crib, but its also so hard to leave the house! I want to go out and enjoy summer, but she naps at 9am and 1pm, and between we only have maybe a 2 hour window to go, enjoy,come back. And afterwards it’s already 3pm, and we need to get home not too late to start dinner. Ideas?? Did you train the boys to nap in a stroller? (and how??)

Love the blog, this post was great. :)


Shannan     at 9:18 am

That is so wonderful! Family is such a great way to break up lonely times and help out. Great surprise, Casey :)


Marissa     at 10:07 am

I would love a post from you on your thoughts about having a hubby who travels so much for work. My husband is currently looking for a job, and he is open to travel. Me-not so much! Especially since kids are in our very near future! I know lots of Mom’s have hubbies who travel a lot, but I’m just not sure I could handle that long term. I work part time now, and will need to continue this once kids come into the picture, which would complicate things a bit also.


Christine @ BookishlyB     at 11:47 am

I’m not one to be a blogger-butt-kisser, but I LOVE that most of the activities you do with your kids are cheap, free, and don’t end up in them getting a ton of new stuff. I have an infant and am already trying to brainstorm cheap activities to do in my area for when he’s a bit older. We live in Southern California and it seems like most families just go to Disneyland when their kids are bored.


sarah cross     at 1:10 pm

way to go casey! what a sweet husband. so glad you had a great visit with your sister. y’all look like y’all have a blast together. (wow, can you tell I’m from texas with all of those “y’all’s in that sentence?) ;) your boys are too precious as always. graham is getting cuter and cuter with every picture you post! he is so smily!


Lisa     at 1:11 pm

Being 36 weeks pregnant and super hormonal your post brought tears to my eyes. I love that Casey surprised you for some extra help, support, and fun. It looks like you had a great visit together. Have fun traveling this week and safe travels.


Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie     at 1:22 pm

What a sweet surprise! I’m so glad you got to spend time with your sister!


Alexis     at 1:25 pm

I am SO looking forward to your next posting on traveling/feeding kids. We just had our 1st babe, & could use some tips!! Thanks and loving all the posts :)


Kari     at 1:48 pm

Emily I really love your blog. You write so honestly and your heart really shines through. Kudus to Casey for surprising you with your sister. Looks like you guys had an amazing time!


Brady     at 1:56 pm

That is an AMAZING gift! So cool!


Emily     at 1:57 pm

You’re one tough mama, with Casey being gone so often and two rambunctious little boys! That was so sweet of Casey to fly your sister out so you had an extra pair of hands — aww. :)


Alex @ Kenzie Life     at 4:27 pm

It must be so tough to have Casey gone a lot but I’m so glad that Sarah was able to come and stay with you :) Sounds like you had a great time! Safe travels for the rest of the summer!


Emily @ Fit as a Mother...     at 6:42 pm

What a wonderful, thoughtful surprise!


Meagan     at 9:29 pm

I just noticed the other day how the Greenlake pool was filled up again… It made me think “Ah, summer’s here” :)


jacqui     at 5:01 am

Where did the glass come from pictured with your food that had the two dogs on it????
Looks like a wedding favour?


Nour @ GreenShushi     at 7:06 am

Gah! I almost cried with you as I read about the plane ticket! I have a 3 month old and I know how tiring it is when the husband travels for work. Can’t imagine how it would be with 2 kids! Sending you strength vibes! :)


Catherine     at 7:12 am

I nearly had tears in my eyes when I read about Casey’s surprise to you! How thoughtful!! What a wonderful relationship you have!


leatitia     at 8:02 am

Can’t wait for your post on travelling with kids, as i’ll be going on my first big trip with my 3 yo in two weeks. :) (Chicago, first flights and all!)


Lori     at 11:31 am

Oh my gosh, what an amazing husband and sister! I almost teared up! What a special gift! Seattle looks so beautiful and it’s nice to see how much you get out and enjoy it


Kelly     at 11:39 am

I am ridiculous but I actually teared up a little bit reading about Casey and your sister surprising you like that. I have one baby, a husband who never travels and both sets of grandparents nearby and I STILL feel like motherhood is so hard- I really just don’t know how you do it. It’s a good thing your kids are the absolute cutest ever.
Also, Seattle is just beautiful. ALl of your pictures make me want to move there myself!


christine     at 12:20 pm

What an amazing husband! I have the 2.5 year old, so I only half understand your weariness. What an amazing gift!

You’re a great Mama!


Lisa Chandler     at 1:04 pm

What a nice surprise. It sure sounds like you had a great visit.

My husband has been traveling for his job for almost 20 years. So I do understand. We had 3 small children at home during that time. It was hard at times but we have been able to give them things and experiences they never could have had if my husband didn’t travel. They have been to places that I only dreamed of when I was a child. Now that they are grow and they really appreciate all of the experiences they have had.


Ashley M. [at] (never)homemaker     at 4:25 pm

I cannot imagine my husband traveling as much as yours. Ick! But what a nice surprise. Also: You have like every baby carrier known to mama! Hahahah :)


Keri     at 4:46 pm

As a new, first time mama to a 5.5 month old boy, I really look forward to reading your posts. This one was so beautiful–the beach and your sister and the boys, but also your openness and honesty about how tiring and challenging being a mom can be. Don’t get me wrong–my son is by far the biggest blessing and miracle that I have ever been given, but no one ever shares that your new life as a mom can also be hard.


Justine     at 7:00 pm

How sweet of Casey to do that for you! I know you guys mentioned that you moved out to Seattle for his job and that it would involve travel- but do you think this is long-term for him? Will he become more senior and not have to travel so much in a few years?


Lee     at 6:53 am

If I ever visit Seattle, getting that ice cream cookie combo is top of my list of things to do. Yum!


Laura     at 8:05 pm

Hello from Toronto!
I’ve been a long-time follower of your blog but have never commented before….. Just wanted to let you know that when I read your description of the ice cream sandwich store, I immediately messaged a friend of mine who is on a cross-country road trip and just happened to be in the Seattle area today. Gave her the name and address of the shop, the URL of your blog, and told her she HAD to get the ice cream sandwich exactly as you described…. Seeing as I’m stuck here in Ontario! Anyways, long story short, she made a detour in her trip and went and got it…. And LOVED it! Thanks for the timely tip – if I’m ever in your area, I’ll have to cross that off my bucket list!


Melissa     at 5:16 am

What a sweet suprise and story:) I always always look forward to a new blog post of yours – no matter what it is, because your writing is so genuine and unique. Thanks for sharing your family and your life with us!


Sarah     at 10:02 am

What a beautiful post. I live far from any of my family and definitely understand what it feels like to be the solo parent when your husband travels for work. I would die to have a gift like this and admire your husband for thinking of it. I’m so glad you guys got to have such a great week together. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into this special week with your family.


Sara     at 10:37 am

Being a military spouse I cried at this, knowing all too well those feelings and what an amazing relief it would feel like to have a surprise visit like that. What a boost for your morale. I often ask myself if my child really is that bad or am I just that tired and irratable. Dads should never underestimate the important role they play in the minutes/hours in the evening. Not ring able to get that break, dad provides, day after day starts to add up and makes me crazy. So glad that worked out for you, I totally know how you feel!


Cassie     at 12:01 pm

Hi! Love your blog! Just wanted to share a different perspective on airline travel!



Emily Malone Reply:

Thanks, Cassie! I considered going into all of this into the post, but wanted to keep it light and not dive into anything too controversial. I definitely understand that car seats are the safest form of travel. That said, I do not think it is unsafe to travel without one on a plane — if it was, I imagine that it would be required! Also, my babies have both HATED their car seats, which means there would be non-stop screaming for five hours. And for many travelers, opting to pay for a baby who can otherwise fly free might really stretch the travel budget. I appreciate you sharing this though! Always good to consider all options.


Daily Garnish » Blog Archive » That Other Half Marathon I Ran (See Jane Run 13.1).     at 9:04 pm

[...] I’d buckle down and really dig into training for just a few more weeks.  And then Casey traveled almost non-stop for a month, we traveled ourselves for a week, and I ran exactly TWO [...]

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