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Talking Banana

 

Did you know that you could “tattoo” a banana with a safety pin or other sharp object? This was news to me (and yes, I live under a rock). So when I saw this post I decided to try it myself. And waddayaknow?! I wish I could have surprised David with this in his lunch, but unfortunately I did it on a Thursday night, and he works from home on Fridays. Oh well! I have a feeling this might be a staple messaging service for when the kids get packed school lunches someday.

 


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Night Waking

Last night, as I was getting ready to shower before bed, I heard the telltale patter of little feet in the hall and then our room. I peeked out the bathroom door to find Chloe climbing into bed beside daddy, mumbling sleepily about something scary.

This was a surprise. Though she has woken up from bad dreams before,  she usually just called to us from her room. This was the first time she’d ever come into ours.

I hesitated. Part of me wanted to see what was wrong. To snuggle beside her and David. But part of me also knew that night wakings are delicate situations. I had been warned by other parents, and didn’t want to encourage a nightly recurrence.

My pause gave me the time I needed to conclude that Daddy’s got this one. I continued my shower, feeling a little guilty and also curious. I reminded myself that I was giving David an “opportunity” to parent.

Of course, I love my kids and know it’s my job to Mother. But I admit that sometimes I step in for other reasons – maybe because I want to handle a situation my way, or maybe just to to “spare” David the task (don’t get me wrong, there are PLENTY of times I’ve been just as happy letting him deal with a situation). But my kids have two parents. Just as I do them a disservice when I don’t let them try figuring things out on their own, its the same if I don’t allow them to benefit from both parents.

By the time I finished brushing my teeth, daddy had quietly helped Chloe back to bed and all was peaceful in the house.

But I doubt it will be the last we’ll see of Chloe in our bedroom at night. I have a feeling this could be the start of another chapter of parenting.

PS. The photo above is Chloe hanging from her Ikea Kura Bed that we painted white. The wall mural was painted by her Grandma Sandy when Chloe was a baby. You can see a color photo here. We talk about painting her room, but I can’t bear to see it go just yet.

 


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Blogging Your Way

I’ve been trying to do some serious thinking about this blog and where it’s heading. Asking myself questions like: why do I do it? What can I do better? Why do people come here? How can I include better content and encourage more visitors? What do I enjoy writing about?

I’m not sure I have many answers. So, when I saw that Holly Becker from Decor8 was doing a Blogging Your Way e-course this month, I thought it might be just the thing to help me focus on what’s important.

Here is what I do know: I enjoy taking photographs. I have some skill, but I would like to get better. I am a mom. A mother naturally documents the lives of her children. I like having a record of my kids, and also of the projects we do. I am a professional graphic designer. Though I no longer have a design day-job, my understanding of design and personal aesthetic inform my decisions on the projects we do – whether its a home improvement project, a craft project or a kid project.

What I’d really like is for this blog to be a place of inspiration. I feel that if I can do something, others can, too. I am not particularly talented or motivated. I barely have  time or energy left at the end of the day. Lots of moms face this same issue. But I do recognize ways in which I can add just a touch more fun and function in my kids lives, and in our home. We all love our kids and want to provide them with happy homes and childhoods.

And, let’s face it. This is real life. Sh*t happens. It happens to me, too. My kids love to make a mess. They make it hard to go shopping. They  get muddy. And mis-behave. They make me crazy! And yet they are also amazing beings that bring the purest joy to my heart. While our experiences may vary from other families, there is a thread of familiarity, of normalacy. Sometimes that is nice to read about, to know we’re not alone. Sometimes its just nice to read a different perspective.

Another question I wonder – can I successfully blend my personal family stuff with the projects, tutorials, and free printables that most people come for? Would it be better to split off my personal stuff into another blog? Relegate more of it to just Facebook? Does anyone actually care, beyond immediate family? If I look at some of my favorite blogs, almost none include their kids. Something to think about.

Lastly, this blog generates a tiny amount of income for me and my family, due to that ad in the sidebar. Enough to take the kids for a special treat or pay the babysitter a couple hours, once a month. It is probably every blog mama’s dream to generate income this way, doing something you love, with flexible hours and no boss. While I realize this is unlikely, I don’t think it is unreasonable to want to expand opportunities here. Right now I don’t get paid to do product reviews or anything like that, and if I did I would definitely disclose that information and have a level of transparency. To do otherwise would feel inauthentic. I don’t believe I’ll actively cultivate revenue opportunities, but I won’t ignore them either.

So… whew! That is where I am right now. Is anyone still with me? Please, please give me your feedback. Anything at all. Why do you visit this blog? What is or is not working for you? I promise to listen and consider everything. If you don’t want to leave a public comment, feel free to send me a direct email at paperseed (at) gmail {dot} com.

Thank you so much for being here. Truly.

Emily


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Picking up the pieces of a real life mess

This is what I caught the kids doing earlier this morning. Actually, it was Chloe who came to me to let me know something was up. Turns out Leo climbed into Chloe’s closet, pulled down the jar of Pyssla beads, unscrewed the lid, and dumped handfuls out all over the floor.

A pretty big mess, as you can see.

This son of mine… don’t let that innocent looking face fool you. Only a year and a half old, but he gets into EVERYTHING. He is his father’s son, for sure. A real problem solver, always trying to figure out how things work and what they do. Right now he loves things that have moving parts or pieces that work together  – latches, drawers, door knobs, lids… I’m sure throwing all those colorful beads around must have been quite a reward for a job well done.

I’ve known for a while now that I need to find a way to lock that closet. The last time he was in there he drew on the walls with marker. Just this week I installed latches for the hallway drawers after the internal latches failed to keep out little hands. How can such a little boy, who barely talks, be this capable? And why do I continue to underestimate him?

For now, I guess I need to install more locks!


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Before & After: Painted Ikea Latt Table & Mysig Canopy

Ah well. Things are winding down for me in the motivation department. This happens sometimes. I’ll have this amazing streak of cleaning, decluttering, & project fulfillment and then it will dissipate back to my everyday amount of energy. Well, it was fun while it lasted!

Meanwhile, here is a quick pic of one of my projects from a couple weeks ago. We had this strange (for Oregon) winter sunny day and I thought ‘I’m going to paint!’ So, once the kids went down for naps I quickly gathered all the supplies and the kids’ Ikea LATT table and chair set.

I’ve been a fan of the dipped look for a while, so I decided to tape off a bit of the bottom legs to let the pine show through. The color is “Eden” by Rustoleum Painter’s Touch, satin finish. Anyway, I really like it and the kids do too! I wish I could find a before photo – by this point the wood had been stained with food and art supplies and who knows what else, so a quick sanding and layer of spray paint made it look good as new!

And what do you think of that MYSIG bed canopy? I totally fell in love with it the first time I saw it. I actually didn’t buy it that trip, because I wasn’t sure where I’d use it, but the next time I decided to grab one up. For $9.99, it’s a bargain. Since we have nothing for the wall there yet, I thought it would make an excellent topper for the table set. It’s hung with a single Command mini hook, so no nail hole was needed. The play kitchen is right to the side there, too, so the kids are always bringing their tea sets and play food over (as you can see). I’m thinking of having a vinyl wall decal made that says something like “Chloe & Leo’s Corner Cafe” to place underneath. Wouldn’t that be cute? Or would that be too much? 😉

P.S. I just happened to look up when we originally bought the LATT table, and it was when Chloe was 20 months old. I mentioned it here. How ironic that it should get a makeover when Leo was 20 months old!


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How it feels to be happy

I’ve been feeling happy. It seems strange to write it, but its true. Something has aligned, and for now, it feels unusually good. Sure, there are times when I’m tired, or the kids are extra challenging, or I’m worrying about my mom and her chemo treatments, but mostly I feel good.

I’ve even been motivated to do things long on my to-do list. In the past couple weeks I’ve spray painted some kid furniture, completely emptied and re-organized my craft drawers (HUGE!), sewed a floor cushion cover, a dog bed pad, a new seat for Leo’s high chair, and transformed an old paisley duvet cover into a nice looking twin set for Chloe’s room. The kids have had more outings than usual – more parks, the library, the children’s museum, a day of flyfishing with dad… I wish life always felt like this – full of joy and well-being. Appreciating exactly what I have, getting rid of things I don’t want, feeling like I have a handle on this life of mine, instead of just letting it slip by.

The question is: why I am feeling this way? Are my vitamin D levels up? Is it the weather? The promise of spring? Enjoying some rare social occasions? The relief of finding a reliable accountant? Spending quality time with David? Just last night we went on a very rare “date night” so we could test out a new babysitter before we’ll need her for an event next month. It was really nice. We went for sushi at a nearby place we like, but don’t go often. Part of me lamented the $40 we paid in childcare alone, but I am not sorry. Once in a while its a real treat.

So, today, I am savoring everything – all these facets that make up my life. Things may not be perfect (and never will be), but I’ve been dealt a fine hand. I don’t want to forget that my kids are growing everyday, and so am I. I’ll miss this once its gone – all the innocence and trust and open caring and unscripted dialogue. It is unspeakably precious.

Let me hold it in my hand and bury it in my heart for now. When I close my eyes someday in the future, I’ll see it again, just behind my eyelids, and be glad I did.


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Out with the Kids: Into the Woods

I can’t believe it’s almost the weekend again! I got so much accomplished last weekend, including spray painting some kid furniture, organizing my craft drawers and purging a ton of stuff. For whatever reason I was highly motivated, and hope that some of that motivation will carry over into this weekend as well. We also had a day of fun family adventure, too! David decided we’d take the kids fishing, and despite the cold Pacific Northwest weather, that is what we did!

It isn’t always easy taking kids this young somewhere this remote. In fact, sometimes it is really hard. You can’t let them out of your sight for a minute. But it’s always worth it. The kids see and find all kinds of things, and I want them to have these experiences in nature, with no house for miles and miles. Of course, I would never take them out this far by myself, but with two parents (or people) its fine. It does take a bit of planning though.

For us, planning usually falls into three categories:

1. Food & Snacks.
2. Entertainment
3. Clothing & Gear

Food & Snacks are a given, especially on long trips. It is so much cheaper to bring food, and often the next town is too far away to bother. Also, snacks can work wonders on long car rides, so they really double as entertainment.

While we try to have the kids just look out the windows and talk about what we see (including songs, i spy, etc), sometimes its easier after a while to just hand Chloe her ipad and headphones. At twenty-months, Leo is a pretty good traveler. Sometimes he’ll nap or be content to snack on something. When that doesn’t work we’ll hand him back various toys (cars, little animals, small board books) and as a last resort sometimes we’ll hand him an iphone. Unfortunately, he isn’t into shows like Chloe is, but he has a few apps that interest him right now like Peekaboo Wild, Where’s Gumbo, Wheels on the Bus and Itsy Bitsy Spider (the two latter by Duck Duck Moose). When we get where we’re going there always seems to be plenty to do – in this case, collecting rocks, seeing waterfalls, and discussing how a beaver gnaws down trees with his teeth to make his home.

Lastly there is Clothing & Gear. If there is mud, the kids will fall in it. If there is water, the kids will splash in it. That is life. I know this and always bring a full change of clothes and shoes. One thing I always make sure the kids have is quality long-underwear, usually purchased on deep discount from REI outlet. Chloe’s old ones get handed down to Leo (which is why his current bottoms are pink, but now I am buying them in neutral colors). Diapers and wipes are also necessities. Gear depends on where we go, but I always bring our becco baby carrier and sometimes we’ll bring our Kelty backpack carrier as well. For this trip, David also brought our pop-up shelter, which works as a “base” and makes a nice covered place to share a meal or hang out.

Like I mentioned earlier, it isn’t always easy. But easy isn’t always as meaningful, either, is it? So the kids get dirty and wet and I let them, knowing we’re prepared to clean them up once we get back to the car. We also try and listen and let the kids tell us when they’ve had enough. If they are too cold or uncomfortable, then no fun will be had and that isn’t the point.

And then we arrive back home to our cozy house and warm beds and all is right with the world…

 


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Not on your face!

This is an outtake shot of Leo while I was helping Chloe make her valentine cards on the other end of the table. I had set him up with some Alex Dots and Dashes paint markers to play with, which he’s used fine in the past. However, I guess he was feeling experimental, and decided to either taste the tip or just see what it felt like on his face. This reminded me of a photo I took of Chloe a little over a year ago. Her photo was taken December 5, 2011, a couple weeks after she turned three. I remember uploading the photo from my phone onto Facebook and writing “I guess it was inevitable…” 🙂

For the record, although it was labeled ‘washable,’ the ink left a blue stain on Leo’s face for the rest of the day. The washable Crayola marker that Chloe used came right off. Good to know!


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Sunshine + Bubbles = Happy Giggles!

When the sun shines, all the Portlanders come out to play, especially us! Yesterday it felt like the first time we’d seen the sun in weeks. Time to pull out the bubbles! Just why are they so enchanting? I’m not sure, but they are fun to blow and watch, their myriad of colors swirling – each one a miniature celebration.


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The “C” Word

Now that the kids are finally better, I’ve been reflecting on my week away. I am not sure how to share these thoughts here, or even if I should, though it seems inauthentic not to. While it affects me, the story is actually my mom’s, and she is a very, very private person. So private that I had to slowly coax the information out of her. Thank goodness for my sister, or I might not have known as soon as I did.

Not too long ago, my mom went to see her doctor because she wasn’t feeling well. She felt worn down all the time, in pain from rheumatoid arthritis in her legs and unable to sleep at night from high blood pressure. It didn’t help that she worked two full-time restaurant jobs, and was on her feet all day. Nor did it help that she didn’t have a single full day off. Anyone would recognize this as an unhealthy situation. When pressed, my mom would reply that she had no reason to stay at home. I also know that she was worried about having enough money to retire.

After a plethora of tests, they found something. It had been 6 years since her last mammogram.

Nobody wants to hear the “c” word. And when you are not a native English speaker, things become even more stressful and confusing. All those questions, all the forms that you can’t read and can’t fill out properly, all the big words and painful tests become overwhelming.

That is why I flew out to be with her. We are not exactly “close,” but we do love each other. I wasn’t sure what my role would be, and before I left I found myself googling ideas from other children of survivors. As time unfolded I could see where I could help: supporting her after surgery, trying to organize and make sense of the insurance and work-related paperwork, recording her many medical appointments and contacts into a portable monthly calendar, putting her in contact with a veteran survivor, reading aloud from the dauntingly thick handbook… but most of all, just being there.

We had good times, too. Normal mother/daughter things – shopping for cute clothes for the kids, watching TV, seeing a movie with my sister followed by a special dinner out.

The surgery is past, but there is still a long road ahead. First chemo starts in a few weeks, then radiation therapy, then hormone blockers… its going to be really hard. I wish we didn’t live on opposite coasts. I wish she was healthy and took better care of herself. For now, I just want her to be brave, to tough it out, to… survive. I want her to be around to watch my kids grow up, unlike my own grandmother. Most of all, I just want this to all be successfully behind us.

 

 

 


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Sickness

I’ve been back from my trip for a few days now, but things are far from normal. I arrived at night, after the kids were asleep, but woke in the wee hours of the morning to Chloe throwing up on her bed. Then it happened again, and again, and again. Later that day Leo started throwing up, and that evening Grandma Sandy, who had come to help watch the kids while I was away, also fell sick. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was some big cosmic joke (or punishment?) for going away in the first place.

Poor Chloe is suffering the worst. Before I left she got her first ear infection. Her pediatrician prescribed amoxicillin, but while I was away she developed a terrible all-over rash. Turns out she is allergic, just like her daddy. They stopped the antibiotics and gave her Benadryl for a couple days, which helped the rash, but then… boom – the stomach virus hit. I have never seen so much vomit in my life.

The kids were a little bit better yesterday, but today Leo’s had several bouts of diahrhea. Chloe is incredibly lethargic, complains of being cold and having a sore neck and body. She asked to warm herself in the bath, but then puked into the bathwater. What a mess. I cannot wait for this week to be over.

P.S. My father-in-law thinks its Norovirus. He got it a couple days after Grandma Sandy. Nasty stuff. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. The image above is an iphone shot I took while I was away. It is from the metro rail station looking toward the control tower at Regan National Airport in Washington DC.


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Life

I’m leaving on a trip tomorrow. By myself, without the kids, for a week. I don’t want to leave them. I am trying not to freak out. I want to be calm and rational. In four years, I have only been gone from them for one night.

But… something has happened.

It will be awkward. I will be uncomfortable. I will pretend to be more confident than I am. I will go beyond my comfort zone and be the best supporter that I can be. There will be some good times, too. I am sure of it.

Motherhood has taught me that I can be strong and capable of many things. That I can cope. Strange to think of motherhood that way. That something so cherished and wonderful and natural can also be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I should be so lucky.

The kids will be fine. They’ll be home, in familiar surroundings, in a comfortable routine, with people who love them.

And I must rise to the occasion. And also to pack.


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Christmas 2012 Recap

I am so proud of myself! I just realized that I had remembered to “lock” some photos to my camera before I downloaded and deleted the memory card in Colorado! I had transferred them to an SD card, but they weren’t there when I got home. Luckily, copies are still on my father-in-law’s computer, and he will send me a CD. Until then, I still have some of my favorites!

I often think how Chloe and Leo have no idea how lucky they are. After all, Santa and Mrs. Claus have come to visit them at their grandparent’s house for two years in a row. Can you imagine?! You can see Chloe’s expression when they came to the door here (if there is a next time, I’ll have to get it on video!). Leo, naturally, wasn’t quite as enthusiastic. However, it was great fun, and that night we had an amazing Osso Bucco dinner made by Grandma Sandy. And, as if on cue, we were surprised by the biggest group of neighborhood carolers I have ever seen later that night!

We also did some other fun “firsts” during our week in Colorado, including attending the children’s Christmas mass at the local Catholic church, had a very exciting visit to the North Pole Santa’s Workshop, a storybook-like theme park not far from Colorado Springs, AND went on our very first horse-drawn sleigh ride! Wow! It was crazy to get to play in the snow and go sledding one day and then turn around and hop a flight to Cancun the next.

It is tempting to think the rest of this year will be very boring in comparison, but somehow, I don’t think so…

More photos from this trip are on Flickr.


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Two New Years Resolutions

I was thinking about New Years Resolutions last night. When January first initially rolled around, I kinda thought maybe I would just forget about resolutions this year. I always write the same things and only have so-so luck with actually accomplishing any of it. Sad, I know. But I read a few blogs, got inspired, and then started thinking about it again. That is the thing I really like about blogs I read – they’re so inspirational. I miss getting to read them as often as I used to.

For example, one of the first things that I’d love to “fix” is our office. It is a freakin’ mess. Like a bomb blew up in there. It doesn’t even look like it belongs to the rest of our house. When people come over, we make sure to shut the door immediately. I wish it wasn’t like that. There was a time when it was a calm space, fairly neat and organized. A place where David and I spent the majority of our time together (this was pre-kids). Now it is a dumping ground for odds and ends, papers that need filing, coupons that get lost, and every other thing that has no home. It’s also where both our computers are, which is probably why I am never on mine any more. I can hardly see it through the clutter (and David has the luxury of using his work laptop in other portions of the house).

I’d love to say “My new years resolution is to organize the office.” But, I won’t. Because I’m not sure I will. I’ll think about it, though, and usually tidy it up a bit, especially if I know my mother-in-law is coming for a visit. The truth is, I don’t really care about the office. It won’t ever be kid friendly, due to all the electronics and cords, David’s fly-tying supplies, and heavy things on our expedit bookshelf. David doesn’t even want the office anymore. He’d rather tear it out and make it back into the garage (which I still can’t imagine). So, you see, if I said it would be a resolution, I would be setting myself up for failure.

Not this year.

Instead, last night laying in bed at 9pm, I came up with two simple, solid resolutions (with possibly a third to come).

1. Pare down.
2. Appreciate.

We have a lot of stuff. I love stuff! I love giving stuff and finding stuff and getting stuff (have I mentioned I got some of the most wonderful Christmas gifts ever this year?). Now it is time to get rid of stuff – the broken stuff, the no longer useful stuff, the stuff that just needs to go. Most importantly, both David and I need to follow through by taking it out of the house, and not just leaving piles hidden in closets labeled “Goodwill.”

“Appreciate” is mostly directed toward my family, especially my husband. He is so wonderful, and does so much for our family. He’s an occasional handyman, cook, mechanic, dishwasher, house cleaner, builder, entertainer and more all in one. Sometimes I forget how amazing he is (lack of sleep makes me forgetful – if I wrote “get more sleep” it would also set up for failure, since my sleep is now dictated by the night wakings of our toddler). I want to be appreciative of so much more as well – my friends, our health, our home. I am one of the luckiest people in the world, and I want to remember that.

So there it is. Two perfectly doable resolutions that I actually want to accomplish. No dreading tasks or procrastination. These are ongoing goals that can be done anytime, in big ways and small ways, that will always make a difference.

Here’s to a blessed New Year for all of us!

P.S. You can download printable 4×6″ pdfs files just by clicking the images above. I plan to hang them inside my closet as a reminder. 🙂

 

 

 


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You know you’re a mom when…

You know you’re a mom when… you’re rushing two kids out the door, arms full, carrying a backpack in your teeth and your coffee in a sippy cup.

**and**

On the way to preschool for child #1 you spy a nice wood twin bed frame with a “FREE” sign on it. Perfect for child #2, so you load that sucker in the vehicle (by yourself!) while child #2 complains from the backseat. Then you drive home to unload it (alone) before leaving again to run errands at Target.

Yep, I’m a mom.

For the record, the coffee was in a sippy cup because it was one of those mornings when it was easier to find a matching lid for a sippy than one that belonged on a to go container. And you can see from the photo, the bed frame is the top half of a bunk bed, complete with built-in rails on all sides – perfect for when Leo is ready to transition to a “big boy” bed. It’s in excellent condition. Lucky me!


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Make Ahead Meals + List Progress

I’m making progress on my list!

1) On Friday night I got a much-needed massage – it came as part of a Groupon, and also includes 7 drop-in workout classes I hope to start later this week.

2) Last night David and I processed a big batch of garden tomatoes. This is our first year having a stand alone freezer, thanks to David’s parents. We followed these directions on how to freeze tomatoes from your garden. I’m looking forward to using them in mid-winter sauces and soups.

3) We’ve begun cleaning and sanding the craigslist dresser for the hallway (more info about that later).

4) Also, this past week, I found some affordable recipes to make good freezer meals. These are the five I’m starting with:

• Spicy Pork Tinga Enchiladas (shown above)
• Taco Chicken Bowls
• Chicken Chili Verde
• Lentil & Sausage Stew
• Teriyaki Meatball Bowls

(The last four recipes come from a food blog called Budget Bytes, which has appetizing, step-by-step photos and also provides an interesting cost break-down of each ingredient). Around midweek I made a list of all the food I would need, and then Chloe and I went grocery shopping on Wednesday evening after dinner. On one hand it was nice to have a list to stick to – usually I just wander the aisles looking for things I hope my family will eat, not really thinking in terms of “meals.” That leads to lots of impulse buys, I can tell you. But having a list meant that if I forgot something, I had to go all the way to the other end of the store to get it. Luckily this just happened once, since I had organized the list by food type (meat, dairy, canned, dry and fruits & vegetables).

The first recipe I wanted to try was the Spicy Pork Tinga Enchiladas, planned for Thursday. Unfortunately, I didn’t look at the recipe until the afternoon, and then noticed it required 6-8 hours in the crock pot. Bummer. Lucky for us, friends invited us over to dinner that night. On Friday, I forgot again about starting the crockpot, and instead made salmon using the Teriyaki Glaze (yum!) from the Meatball recipe, which I paired with rice and vegetables. On Saturday, I forgot again and at the last minute decided to use this recipe for Parmesean Crusted Chicken. It was super-easy and quick, and will definitely go on my make-again list. The leftover chicken was perfect in today’s lunch of chicken salad sandwiches.

This morning, I finally remembered to prep the ingredients and start the crockpot (good thing I set the alarm on my phone!). Everything is in there simmering as I write, and the smell of slow-cooked pork and chipotle peppers is beginning to waft through the house. It makes a pretty large batch, and I’m thinking there will be enough for dinner, leftovers tomorrow, plus enough to freeze at least one or two meals. I’m pretty excited!

P.S. Can you imagine meal planning an entire month of meals? That is what Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler does. She’s posted her meal plan for the month of September here. It was really inspiring to see the entire month at a glance, and gave me recipe ideas to add to my list (Tater Tot Casserole anyone?).

 

 

 


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List Therapy

Last week felt pretty hard. Part of it was coming off the wonderful high of being at the beach for the three-day labor day weekend. Our vacation home was perfect – bright, clean, and kid-and-dog friendly. It was paid for by David’s work, since it was a “work party” weekend, and included social gatherings for meals and playing on the beach, including lots of kids. Thanks to friendly co-workers who briefly watched Chloe and Leo, I even got to surf for the first time in about 5 years! It was amazing to get in the water again. So many times that weekend I thought to myself “I am so happy!”

Then, we returned home. The kids got sick. Leo had trouble sleeping and there was tons of post-trip laundry/organizing/cleaning to do. So many small things – like Barkley wandering in with muddy paws right after I mopped floors – wore me down bit by bit. The worst point, though, was when I got an email saying the wonderful teacher Chloe was supposed to have for preschool was changing jobs and a new one was hired. Someone with less experience, and a man to boot. I know, it is not fair of me, but I just did not want a man as Chloe’s teacher. I looked into changing schools but the other three I’d considered had no spaces left. With no other options, we attended the meet-and-greet on Friday. It was hard for me to keep an open mind, but I think he’ll be okay. But will he be great? We’ll see. Academically, Chloe is already kindergarten-ready, so that isn’t a concern. She knows her shapes, colors, numbers and counting, the alphabet, and some phonetics. We are just beginning to learn reading skills, and when prompted she can sound out small words – up, cup, at, the, cat, hat, etc. Preschool for her is more for the social aspect – learning respect for others, better listening skills, cooperation, etc.

And that brings me to the “what would make me happy?” list. Instead of focusing on the negative, I started writing down what I felt might make me happy. Here are a few examples: from simple, to more complicated, to future planning:

• Getting a cake pop from starbucks. Yes, sometimes its the little things. A salted caramel for me, a pink birthday pop for Chloe.
• Finding a cheap, temporary storage solution for our cluttered hallway. Done! I bought a $20 dresser on craigslist. It needs some work, but the important thing is that it fits the space for now. Eventually we want to do built-ins.
• Meal planning and making freezer meals. It seems like so much of my time involves shopping for, preparing and cooking meals. There has got to be a better way. Plus, we spend A LOT on food. I want to start making double batches of recipes that I can freeze for later, and start putting my crock pot to use.
• A light tube for the hallway. This is more of a future wishlist item. Our hallway is dark, and I’d love to introduce some natural light there. Yes, there are overhead lights, but it’s not the same. David says he can do it, but he is understandably worried about putting a hole in the roof. I think my best bet is just to keep asking. 🙂

Of course there are other things – get more exercise, drink more water, carve out some “me” time, but those are perpetual list items that I never seem to do anything about. Either way, I’m feeling much better this week. I may have some projects (like a painted dresser!) to share soon. I urge you to try it, too. Good old list therapy!

 


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At the Fair

This afternoon, after the kids woke from their naps, we headed to the county fair. It was the perfect weather – sunny and just slightly warm. My parents never took me to fairs as a kid, but I do remember a carnival that came to town every once in a great while. I remember how thrilling it was to see the rides, hear the music and excitement all around. And the food! I love fair food – funnel cakes, cotton candy, caramel apples… I love it all.

Things have not changed much since I was a kid. I saw they still had the classics like a ferris wheel, a carousel, Tilt-a-whirl and the Scrambler, among the newer thrills. And now that I have kids of my own, I feel like I have an added excuse to go on rides and have a good time. It was sweet how often Chloe wanted to hold my hand, and I was pleasantly surprised at how brave she was. In just a couple years Leo will be old enough to join her. I imagine it only gets better.


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Anniversary

David and I reached out 8th anniversary yesterday. This is the card I gave him. The simple letterpress design with the sweet little heart over Portland sums up a lot of how I feel. While pieces of my heart may be elsewhere, it’s this spot on the map where my true love lies… along with our home, our kids, our lives. I think we both hope to stay here for a long time. Together.

So thankful that we have found each other.

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