That gorgeous, delicate blossom? It's a blackberry vine! Yes, the wild, gnarly weed of the Northwest has a great moment of beauty in the late spring/early summer and if you blink, you'll miss it. Have you ever seen a blackberry blossom? I strapped the baby in the Bjorn carrier and took the kids out to the alley behind our home in Seattle and photographed the blackberries in bloom. Why, you ask? Well, they play a vital role in my recently completed third novel (I'm so excited about this story--can't wait to share more!), and I wanted to document them in bloom. The kids were also thrilled to go on an adventure in the alley. They love the alley, especially Russell (2) who loves rocks, and dirt, and mud puddles (are you seeing a theme here?). Look at those delicate, soft blossoms! You'd never know that they're attached to vines thick with thorns! P.S. I'm craving blackberry pie!

I found this stunning (breathtaking, really) flower in the alley behind our house today. We live in Seattle, and I'm certain that it's a native Northwest flower, because I used to see the same gorgeous blooms growing wild along the roadside near my childhood home (about a two-hour drive away). Funny, as a child, I used to want to stick my finger inside each petal, and that is exactly what my little boys (the 4 and 2 year old) wanted to do today. Must be genetic! It's been driving me crazy today that I can't remember what this flower is called! Do you know? Help me solve the mystery!

Here we are at the zoo. You can barely see me, because there was too much light coming into the photo booth (we barely fit, all of us!). I love Colby's spaced-out expression, Russie's content smile, and how Carson's plastic snake named "Hunter" has become part of the fam (he takes it everywhere, and by everywhere I mean EVERYWHERE).

I recently heard from a woman named Teresa, who blogs here, who read my novel recently and wrote this beautiful review. As I was reading her post, I learned about wild violet vinegar. Apparently it's an old country pastime, and it sounds so fun (like something they'd make in Little House on the Prairie, even, huh?). And look at that amazing color! You can find instructions on how to make it here. If I'd known about this awesome idea, I would have included it in The Violets of March!

I found this picture of me with my baby, Colby, taken at the hospital the day we brought him home, and I gasped at how much he's changed in just four short months. There's a lot to motherhood that seems to go sloooooow. The potty-training, the before-bed meltdowns, the messes, the neediness, the nighttime wake-ups. And you think, "will my kids be this hard forever? Will I ever sleep through the night again? Will I actually be able to, I don't know, one day, use the restroom without a child hanging from me?" But lately, I've been wanting to slam my feet on the brakes and just slow things down. I never, ever thought I'd say this. But now with little Colby---our third and last baby---I'm starting to realize how much I'm going to miss the baby years. (So much so that the bassinet we've used for our three sons, which Colby has grown out of, just sits sadly in my dining room, waiting for me to get the courage up to give it away. I can't bring myself to do it.) Yes, there are things I won't miss about the early years of mothering, but tonight as I was tucking them all in for bed---snuggling in with the 2 year old, who gave me the sweetest kisses; explaining to the 4 year old what toothpaste is made of; singing to the baby---I thought, oh my goodness, I love this stage of life. Someone I know just tweeted a Calvin and Hobbes quote: "We're so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us that we don't take the time to enjoy where we are." And where I am right now is pretty good. Better than good. Great. That's all.

I shared the cover of my second novel, The Bungalow, with you last week, and I'm delighted to say that two amazing authors have provided beautiful endorsements for this book! Kristin Hannah (author of Night Road, Winter Garden, many other amazing novels) had a chance to squeeze in a read while in Hawaii this month, and here's what she had to say: "The Bungalow is a heartfelt, engaging love story set against the fascinating backdrop of the War in the Pacific." The lovely Carol Cassella, author of Oxygen and Healer, also read The Bungalow and shared this quote: "Sarah Jio whips romance, history and a page-turning mystery into one mesmerizing South Sea dream. The Bungalow reads smooth as a summer day, but Jio’s plot races forward with unexpected twists and timeless, haunting love that make you cheer and cry and ache for more." I'm so grateful to Carol and Kristin! And, I can't wait for YOU to read this story. As soon as I get my hands on early copies, I'm going to be giving one away to an early reader here! Stay tuned! The Bungalow will be published in the spring of 2012 by Penguin (Plume), and also by Heyne Verlag, a division of Random House in Germany!

Here is the cover for my second novel, The Bungalow, which will be out from Penguin (Plume) in the spring (March or April) of next year! Yes, that is approximately 10 months away! I'm very excited about this novel. It is a story that completely captured my heart. I still think about the characters often. And, if you read The Violets of March, you may like to know that one character from Violets makes a cameo appearance in The Bungalow, so keep an eye out for a little surprise. The Bungalow will also be published in Germany by my publisher there, Heyne Verlag. A little about the story: The Bungalow tells the story of Anne Calloway, who at the very end of her life receives a letter postmarked from the Tahitian islands that prompts her to confront the haunting and bittersweet memories of her time serving as a nurse during the war in the South Pacific, a lost love, an unspeakable tragedy and the mysterious thatched-roof beach bungalow at the center of it all. What do you think of the cover?