Sunday, October 30, 2011


I would overlook my lame proclamation that I was taking a break from facebook, because a. it lasted all of a few days and b. who cares? but that's just not my style.

In short, I've been struggling with this whole putting-my-life-out-there-for-everyone-to-see-and-comment (or not comment) on-thing. It's a conundrum I tell you. I love sharing our life, what the girls are up to, mostly to keep track of it all for myself and them in the years to come. In part also to share with family and friends that are far too distant most days. But also? To feel a little bit like my old self, connected and social. Most days it's just me and the girls, Ian for a few hours, and brief encounters with other hurried over stressed parents. It's nice to see what people are up to, hear that they listen when I write and post, feel like our lives are felt in circles that aren't just this family, this house, this moment.

But I'm a sensitive gal (no secret there). When I post things, they mean a lot to me. I take things far too personally, read into things that I shouldn't, AGONIZE over what I put out there, how it sounds, what it means. It's exhausting to be this anal.

So I thought for a brief moment that I should stop. I should keep the laptop shut and our lives more private, for my sanity mostly. But really? I love blogging, I love the accessibility of facebook, the ability to stay connected. I'm just quirking how vulnerable I'm able to be, make my family be. In the mean time I'm here, figuring it all out, as per usual.

So bare with me please if I'm more sporadic than normal, if my tone or frequency changes. And please, always feel free to let me know your thoughts. I live for comments and likes and connections....they keep me going.

All my thanks. - Becky

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hump Day Nuggets: Multitasking, Focusing, GO GO GO

Now that the last of the heat waves have passed (right Midwest? you promised!) we're truly settling into the season. I find I can be so focused on winter in the fall, on Christmas, and woolies, and sub zero temps, that I all but miss out on the beauty that is THIS season, right now, in all her 55 degree high glory. I'm out to change that this time around.


It's occured to me that I have project ADD. I've started about 10 projects and finished NONE (well except for Louise's baby mittens, but those are so quick they don't really count). Clearly I need a new plan of attack.

In college I was one of those diligent students who ALWAYS did my homework right away. It was rare for me to leave something to the last minute becuse a. I don't work well under pressure and b. I can't function knowing that I have SO much on my plate. Now here I am as a mom with about amillion things on the docket at any given moment, the holidays are no exception. So I have to learn how to make it work.

The good news is that I know the important stuff will get done. The weather has turned and the girls needed wool mittens NOW so I knit a pair a half in one day. Ian's sweater is his ONLY gift so I know that will get done too. Ainsley will be just as happy with a 5 page quiet book as she will a 10 pager...and any extraneous winter crafting/sewing/knitting can wait until the holidays have passed.

So I'm taking it one thing at a time, trying to focus on what needs to happen NOW and letting the rest fall into place, because thankfully, it usually does.

::despite my best efforts our buffet has turned into a storage area...
just too many projects that need attention RIGHT NOW::

::toddler mittens and Ian's sweater, all in the works::

::quilt strips, curtain fabric washed and ironed, first page of Ainsley's quiet book DONE!::


Ainsley's new favorite tool is her pumpkin knife. We have yet to carve our pumpkins, but celery ribs, carrots, potatoes, leek shoots...she's got that all down pat. She could spend hours cutting, and almost did this weekend while we chopped and cooked side by side making soup for our neighborhood Halloween chili pot luck. She was so proud of her soup. Even if it was inedible (she loves to sprinkle salt that one does).

Miss Louise was quite the helper in the kitchen too. She rinsed and chucked (yes CHUCKED) our potatoes for dinner, made sure each one was in it's place and in tact before dumping them all back in the sink for a second rinse. I love watching my two girls vie for position on the top step of the ladder, desperate to help and cook.


Crafting has been diluted to the basics. I simply have not been able to fathom paint related projects lately, I'm hoping I'll get the courage up again soon. Until then? Cutting and collaging is still Ainsley's favorite, we made nana's chocolate play dough which was a HUGE success, did rice sensory again and again and made our first Aiken Drum. I'd forgotten about this deliciously toddler appropriate activity and we did three in a row last night. "And his head was made of...CHEESE, cheese, cheese. His head was made of CHEESE! and his name was Aiken Drum!" Ainsley could sing it all day long.

::cooked noodle sensory, add a splash of oil in while cooking to prevent sticking, cool slightly, dump and ENJOY!::

::Louise loved shmooshing and dumping, throwing and eating,
I got a great video of her with her hand out front saying "dop i!"
(stop it!) and laughing herself silly

::Ainsley loved cutting and stirring her noodles
and liked trying to make letters with me out of the wiggly worms::


Candles have become a new prescence in our house. I LOVE candles, not so much for smell but ambiance and warmth. IT's been hard to NOT have candles around for so long with little ones underfoot. This season I thought I'd try it out again and so far, so good!

Ainsley LOVES to eat by candlelight, craft by candlelight, even read by candleight. It helps us signify a quiet time (not to metion keep the electrictity bill down on a dark blustery day!). As Ainsley says, "Candyuls are for special times mama, happy times, yike right now!" (during lunch)

::making an "ankul bwacet mama! My ankul yooks SO fancy!"


Ainsley has FINALLY started to smile on command for photos. No, I take that back, now she demands that I take photos of her smiling. That's more like it. I love seeing her cheesy 2 year old grin and capturing moment with my sweet happy girl.

:: Ainsley and "Yammy" the toy she stole, I mean TRADED, with Louise::

::A genuinely proud happy grin, after scaling a really crazy high rainbow ladder.
If she had fallen there was very little I would have been able to do to break her fall, so proud of my nimble little lady for conquering it over and over again::

::Ian and Ainsley, watching the Vikings (or baseball) nearly every night they can, she roots for the team, and beams in comraderie with her happy daddy, it's pretty adorable::


My girls. Ever playing, ever conspiring against me. This week they...

::snuck a cheetos snack in between normal snack time and lunch,
I was folding laundry in the next room while they
watched Peter and the Wolf for the umpteenth time.
Ainsey told me that louise told her to do it,
Louise just grinned her orange grin and shoved more cheetos in her mouth::

::but she looks so innocent, doesn't she?::

::Louise got into the wagon on Ainsley command, squealed, and then Ainsley BOOKED it for the park, like all out running with her 23 pound sister in tow. I stopped to commemorate the moment and then had to sprint to catch them::

::Louise THIS moment,
new funny face in action,
shoving WHOLE grapes (her new favorite food) in her mouth
and sitting on top of the laundry basket
(she is happiest when on top of or in something, preferably a basket)::

We're having a great week, a bit slower than normal thanks to Louise continued sniffles, faucet nose and mega naps, but really enjoying our home, our friends, our activites and each other.

Happy Hump Day out there!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Of Letting Go

When having a baby, growing and birthing, adding and multiplying a family, I never dreamed there would be so much letting go.

First of your heart, to place in a little one's beating chest, and with it a piece of your soul and yourself.

Next of your comfortable routine, learning to shift and adjust for the new "most important" in your life.

Then of your self, who you used to be. Ever morphing and changing into what they need, who they need. Finding a balance that suits you all.

Lastly you let go of them. You let them take a step that you know could result in a fall, but you do it because you've given them the tools and you know them well. You trust them and they need that confidence to grow and learn, and be the big person you know they can be.

I'll never get used to letting go, but I'm learning. And when they succeed and thrive from the letting go...I know it's all worth it. Over and over again.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Perfect Fall Day

I feel like I whine a lot about the weather (like most I'm afraid). Spring and fall are too short, summer and winter WAY TOO LONG. I want to take a moment and remember this beautiful amazing fall. For even if it snows, or bakes tomorrow, it's been grand.

Today was the end of a long week (is there ever a Friday that is NOT at the end of a LONG week?). I have a new resolve to get most of the chores done on Friday so that I can really enjoy my weekend with my family. So amongst playing and outings and fun and crafts I launder and scrub and tidy. Today was no exception.

Louise has been off. I can't quite pinpoint it. Event though she JUST cut two new teeth she's drooling like mad and has the stuffiest nose I've ever encountered. I'm going to go with a good old fashioned cold and at least 1 new tooth waiting to make it's breakthrough. At any rate, she's needed more sleep, more cuddles and LOTS of wiping. It made today even more interesting.

This morning she napped, Ainsley and I played. I channeled pippi longstocking and got her involved in the cleanup. That child could spray a spray bottle ALL DAY LONG. Then I worked out with Ainsley mimicking my every move (made it through level three of "THE Shred"...oh goodness). We put up new coat hooks in our entryway (because I think our winter jackets had babies over the summer...goodness we have SO many coats!), moved furniture to properly, thoroughly dust and sweep, swiffered and scrubbed, washed and folded. It was an amazingly productive morning.

Kind of overnight Ainsley has become a preschooler. She spends whole chunks of time on her own, doing her own stuff. Just yesterday I was cooking with Louise in Ainsley's normal spot on the stepladdar "helping" stir and dump to make cornbread and Ainsley was lounging in a teenager like slump on the big comfy chair. "Ainsley, do you want to come help mama cook?" "no mama, I'm pretty busy over here." It's dawned on me that she won't always want to be with me, do things with me. It's bizarre and a bit sad, but wonderful too. I love watching her imagination develop, see what she gravitates towards. Right now it's still all party shoes and leotards, singing "Doe a deer mama, with Freuyine Mia", musikgarten songs at the top of her lungs and her lamby (well, Louise's lamby that Ainsley traded her similarly branded bunny for...what? I told her if Louise was cool with it, I was).

The beauty of that moment is that it seved as the jumpstart I needed. The "get in gear" that I've so been needing. While I can't do it all, I can do what matters. Having the most fun with my girls that I possibly can, while they still want to have it with me.

So instead of delving into the MANY projects I want to accomplish before the holiday we went to the conservatory. Our amazing tiny beautiful conservatory that I'd all but forgotten about during the long stifling summer. Oh goodness...

::just taking a break from all that exploring::

::Louise was entranced with the talking birds,
she repeated every word and sound they made::

::out little AMAZING conservatory::

::can you see the Willis tower?
Our view of downtown Chicago from the closest intersection to our house...
there's a fire department just adjacent
and Ainsley chats with the firemen whenever possible.

::one block from home, pool and park to the left, montessori straight ahead,
all kinds of beautiful yards and rocks to ravage and skip amongst along the way::

We spent an hour and a half running along the paths, counting fish and finding colors, poking prickly cacti and talking to Jane, the amazingly sweet inquisitive patient botanist. We talked to the birds, mimicked their sounds and wing flaps, played hide and seek between rooms, sweated in the humidity and smiled. Did I mention the conservatory is TWO blocks from our house?

I love home.

We rounded out the afternoon with an hour long scoot bike ride/stroller walk. Poor Louise wanted nothing to do with her trusty bunny walker and lounged as Ainsley booted and scooted. She's getting so confident in her biking and LOVES every moment.

I love every moment too. Of this perfect fall day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hump Day Nuggets: Shredding and Cooking and FALL-ing galore

After all the blaze and heat of last week, fall is finally here, and I believe it's here to stay. Re-convincing Ainsley that a coat is no longer an option is a new addition to our already lengthy get out the door routine, raking is a daily occurrence (when it's not raining), and baking has officially gotten out of control. I love this time of year. (Have I said that already?)


With the cooler weather and longer hours indoors I find myself antsy to complete those around the house projects that were so easy to ignore while breezing in and out the door this summer. First on the list is Ainsley's bedroom re-do. We'd all but stripped it this summer due to some toddler antics before sleep-time and now that she's outgrown SOME of her wily ways I wanted to once again make her the room the preschooler haven I'd always intended it to be.

It all started innocently enough, and idea to make my first REAL quilt for my big growing girl. I wanted something she could grow into, cherish long after her toddler bed was extended to the full length. She never really took to the knitted blankets I made her and I so crave her being enveloped every night in a warmth I created. So there, innocent right?

Then it snowballed into painting of furniture, making new curtains, rearranging furniture and wall art. I'm loving where it's going and it's SO close. She loves it, which is really the whole point.

::quilt pieces waiting to be cut and ironed::

::I saw this color combo of bright peach and red and fell in love,
now it's EVERYWHERE in her room::

::new Ikea mirror and dress up area, naked windows awaiting one curtain to be lined::

::painted dresser and a big blank wall just itching to be adorned::


I've finished 12 days of the 3o days shred and I can safely say that I have not worked out this consistently since training for my half marathon in college. I've always been a 4-5 day a week work out gal. Then with children came the sad realization that I really only had the time (and energy) for brisk stroller walks and VERY occasional runs now and again. I decided that I'd had enough and no matter HOW tired I was or how thin I felt myself being spread, I would make it a priority. I haven't regretted it for a moment. And just to put a plug in for the 30 day shred...20 minute HARDCORE workouts? perfect for us time crunched parents. I sweat, I'm sore, I'm already seeing muscles emerge in places I'd forgotten muscles could exist. It's amazing.


I've been feeling overwhelmed with all that I want to get done before the holidays, namely all of the gifts that I'm setting out to make. I'm trying to keep in mind that half the point of making gifts is because I enjoy it, to not stress out too much and most of all to PRIORITIZE. Like Ainsley's Olivia inspired red ballgown...that is a MUST make.


We made it to a real pumpkin patch this year, with a tractor ride to the field and all. We smartly bought only Ainsley's pumpkin there and I slipped a few much cheaper ones into our TJ's cart just this Monday to round out the collection. The girls loved crawling and climbing through the tall grasses. We enjoyed the fun activity as a family.

::a few of the last short sleeved park pictures of the season::

::sadly Louise is fitting perfectly into all of Ainsley's old REALLY good sandals right now...guess I'll have to do some shopping come Spring!::


After months and months of not wanting much to do with our hot afternoon sun filled kitchen we are quickly rekindling our lusty love. I'm determined to keep the heat lower this winter, seeing as we don't have a fresh dumpling in the house. I ordered some good woolies for the girls (on a great REI sale) and with all the heat coming from our gas stove I don't forsee it being a problem to keep the thermostat low!

I'm already missing all the fresh easy produce as the market tapers off, but finding new ways to incorporate fall veggies into our daily meals is a challenge I've readily accepted. This week we tried a few new recipes.* Our favorite was a sweet potato swiss chard gratin from Smitten Kitchen. Even Ian took leftovers to work and the girls both indulged in seconds. It's hearty and healthy and YUMmy. Another goody was Smitten's baked spinach. Ian wasn't as much of a fan, but when I asked him what he would change he slyly replied (umm, maybe just add some indian spices and paneer?) Not ALL spinach comes in palak form Ian! I thought it was awesome. One more new favorite is this zucchini fritter recipe. I've taken to buying up loads of the last zucchini at the farmer's market, grating it and freezing in in 2 cup portions to pull out for such occasions, well fritters and chocolate zucchini cake of course! (this one is currently baking away in our oven as we speak). And lastly I made this potato leek soup (one of my favorites!) and this french bread recipe (we turned one loaf into some basil garlic bread to go with homemade spinach lasagna last night...nothing like the smell combo of fresh bread baking and lasagna bubbling in the evening). Soo, it's been a good cooking (and eating) week for us!

*I only include recipes and weekly menus because I know I always appreciate hearing about something new and successful and relatively healthy that people make for their families. I never write to boast about my cooking (well maybe, but only because a week like this RARELY happens). Just so you know where I'm coming from! (And PLEASE give me your cooking triumphs! I'm always looking for something new and good)


The girls fall a little more in love every day. Last night when I put Ainsley to bed I was whispering sweet nothings to her, talking her down from an angry bedtime (and a bit of a trauma from earlier in the day...may fault, maybe more on that later) I told her how much we all loved her, how she lights up our lives and makes us all so happy. "Espeically Louise. Louise loves you more than anything in this world Ainsley girl." "Oh mama, can I go see YaWeez? I love her so much I wanna squeeze her and give her a big kiss." And sqeeze and kiss she does. Every morning when they wake up, every naptime arousal, and every single moment in between. They're really playing together now (yesterday I was able to unload 2 baskets of laundry UNINTERRUPTED while they happily played in Ainsley's room. It was amazing). I love my girls so much and am so glad they love each other just as much too.

:: immediately after I cleaned out our whole pantry Louise discovered the spice drawer, it's officially her new favorite place::

::oggling her Halloween sugar cookie,
there is not way of knowing how many of these she's eaten
since we made them yesterday afternoon::
::I love her post nap face::


I'm currently ending a long full day listening to Ainsley make up a bean bag throwing game while Ian "referee's" with the World Series on in the background. I'm thankful that even with our busy mornings, we have kept our slow easy afternoons. I love each snuggle and precious moment with my growing girls.

Happy Hump Day!