Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hump Day Nuggets: First World Problems

When Julie was in town she introduced the phrase "first world problems" to me. Like, I'm chewing so loud I can't hear the TV and, this master bathroom only has one sink? no way! How can I live?!?! We had a good chuckle over these "problems" and admitted that most of our own, thankfully, fell in this category.

This week I have totally been wallowing in my first world problems. Ian getting sick on Sunday so I was solo parent for 12 hours exhausting me before the week even began? First world problem. Home maintenance costs, stressful preschool decisions coming up, the pinch of financing christmas and birthday and oh my goodness my girls don't fit into ANY of their clothes purchases? Major first world problem. Where we'll be a year from now, or three. Where Ian's career will take us and what that will mean, even though we KNOW whatever it is it'll be great? Complete and total first world problem.

In the wake of a day and season dedicated solely to thankfulness and gratitude I feel a bit silly and trite for my worries. Really? I am lucky to have them.

Yet, I know that we are all allowed to wallow sometimes, to worry much and unnecessarily and throw a little pity party every now and again. This IS a tough job that we have as parents, staying at home, responsible for the kids, the home, and all that well being and happiness in between. As long as I remember that it's a privileged to have these problems and cut the whine to a minumun, I think I'm allowed.

Today I'm thankful for my first world problems, allowing myself 5 minutes of complete stress and wallowing, then getting over it because I'm so darn lucky.


Thanksgiving!!! I told you I'd get you some photos. I of course got none of the girls all cute and dressed up and NONE of the whole beautiful roasted turkey, but you'll get the gist. Auntie Sonya came over in the morning while Ruth and Dan were en route from St Paul. We cooked and played with Louise while Ian and Ainsley marveled at the parade downtown. Upon everyone's arrival later in the day we played and relaxed while I nervously basted and checked the turkey. It all worked out so well, one oven and all.

::turkey with brine in bag, I never thought a raw turkey could be so pretty::

::stuffed and ready for the oven::

::the table, the plates, the wine::

::post turkey piano playing::

::post turkey sound of music viewing::

::the only shot I got of Ainsley in her little vintage dress...
SOOOO cute, so glad she'll finally wear it::

::have I mentioned my girls like the sound of music? exhibit 497::

::trying out the new face paint nana and grandpa dan brought,
can you tell who did who's?::

::Ainsley lovin' on Grandpa Dan and his guitar::

::Nana enticing Louise::

::I promise our basement paint is not as electric as this photo suggests::

::Ainsley thought her dress was too plain::

::the whole gaggle, minus Auntie Sonya::

::the buffet::

::mid diaper change walkin Louise::

We dressed up, we ate well, we had great fun with Nana, Grandpa Dan, Sonya and each other. Great great Thanksgiving.


Christmas time is here, and each year with kids it gets better and better. I find some of my own enthusiasm transferring to their little bodies. If I thought Ainsley got it last year? Boy she could write the book this year. She is all about that tree and the precision hanging on the ornaments and watering the tree, making sure the branches are dipped in water and well fed. Louise gets that it's magical and fun. Every morning when I plug the lights in her face beams and her fingers point "Chri-me!!!" I've left only the plushest of plush ornaments within her eager reach. Oh the joys of this season have only begun.


In an effort to focus on the moment and not all that planning that goes into the moment we're being sporadic with our holiday crafting. I'm letting Ainsley lead the way and it's working well. On Monday we picked up a gingerbraed house at Trader Joe's. I LOVE their gingerbread house. It's the perfect size for a toddler project, comes with enough candy to do adequate damage and is $8. Love it. So does Ainsley.

::she's not so discrete is she? who am I kidding, I totally let this happen, I mean it's a gingerbread house isn't it?
There's also a good chomp out of one of the roof pieces. That's my girl::

Ainsley was also very keen on making a snowman so I got out all the papers, scissors and glue, set it all up and then Louise woke up from her nap. I attempted to work with her on my lap which was of course a disaster. Then Ainsley decided she really just wanted to make a dot picture instead. I got to make my snoman in the end and Ainsley was very please with her dots and glue marks. So I guess a success??

I'm looking forward to all of the crafting to come.


In the wake of Thanksgiving cooking overload I'm not quite ready to break out the Christmas cookie tins, but these new mini banana muffins (perfect for breakfasts and snacks alike for little ones) have found their way in to my recipe box. Mmmmm banana.


We're finding our new winter groove. Afternoons at the park, or riding bikes outside have been swiftly replaced by quiet mornings in the library or conservatory. When we need a bit of brisk movement we turn on a pumpin' song to dance the jiggles out or move on to the basement where I push Ainsley hard and fast on the new swing while Louise jumps on the trampoline. It's a great new groove we're in.

::of course we still take advantage of the sun when it chooses to show itself::

::snacking in a pile of laundry, because when in doubt?
make a big ole pile of something, keeps them happy forever::

::I love this photo, I snuck up on them early this morning, just doing their thing. Louise in her emptied basket, Ainsley reading to her...ahh, my girls::

::then of course Ainsley saw me and had to get IN the basket too::

::a little oatmeal love on a Wednesday morning,
she works that spoon this one does::

::smiles all around::

See? I told you I had photos. Happy hump day out there!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Slow and Easy

Right now I should be doing about a million things. I should be folding laundry, stuffing liners into diapers, scouring the pans soaking in the sink. I should be doing my pilates tape, or putting up the last ornaments that are too fragile for baby hands to help with. And really I should always be knitting or working on Ainsley's quiet book, because goodness I'm getting worried about getting it all done. But I'm not doing any of those things. I brewed a strong cup of jo, and am simply sitting, reflecting and relaxing. Maybe I should be doing that too.

Our first Thanksgiving at home was wonderful. I know my in laws always fear I prepare and cook too much, but really? What job could be better than feeding and caring for the ones you love? So we ate, clearly, and lounged, and simply enjoyed each others' company.

Friday, we ventured downtown to the annual German christmas market in Daley Plaza which was SWARMING, but we enjoyed bratwurst and gluhwein anyways. It's been ages since I've been downtown, and even with the crowds I was impressed by how easy it was. I'll have to go back again soon.

On Saturday it rained, but we planned well. We picked out our tree just as the first drizzle fell and got it home and set up in no time. The girls LOVE the tree. Louise could just sit staring at it, pulling off the plush ornaments for hours. And Ainsley loves to "feed" the tree with water. She delicately places it's lower branches in the full stand and talks to the tree "it's ok tree, I know you're thirsty. Here's some yummy water for you. There you go." We were so efficient in decorating and rearranging that it almost feels anticlimactic. Usually there is such a build up to all of this and this year it just kind of happened. Wonderful.

Sunday morning we awoke to a quiet house. Nana and grandpa Dan made their departure before the sun. I was excited for breakfast out with a friend and a calm lazy day with my family, then Ian woke up with a fever and plans changed. I became single parent and spent the day indoors with girls thanks to MORE rain. It really was a good day, just long and more tiring than I had planned.

So here we are on Monday, normal errands run, ready for the week. It feels wonderful and strange all at once to be home, so relaxed. Usually this time of year we are just arriving back from the holiday trek. I am scurrying to do laundry and plan gifts and decorate. Last night I sat down with my planner to meticulously account for each holiday project I want to accomplish with the girls, and came up short. I wrote down the few things that I simply MUST accomplish, and my mind blanked and eased.

I've found that when I force so much structure and activity into our lives, I miss out on the DOING for the PLANNING. Yesterday I found myself saying NO to Ainsley far too much. "No Ainsley, you can't sit on my lap. Mommy is trying to make a grocery list" "No Ainsley, Mommy can't play with you right now, I'm making our christmas card list" No Louise, mommy can't hold you, I am too busy worrying and planning". Ok, so maybe I didn't say no to holding Louise, but I sure wanted to.

Lately I feel like if it's not in my planned activities with them, I don't have time for it, which is simply ridiculous. Why did I want kids? Not to NOT play with them and enjoy them, that's for sure. When all this adult stuff gets in the way of that I get annoyed and frustrated and feel spread way too thin. So I'm trying to cut back. Really? It takes a few quick moments to pay bills, make lists and plan. The rest of that time? My lap is always open, my ears are clear and my eyes are locked and focused on them.

It occurs to me a little more every day how fast and furious my little ones are growing. I love them so desperately and wish that ALL we could do was play. So I'm trying to create that illusion for them, that life is easy and fun and free. I want to bear that adult hurry scurry burden for them, without it affecting out lives too much. I'm getting there. This coffee break is really helping.

Today I am thankful for napping girls and quiet time, for a healthy husband and a festive home. I am thankful for a slow easy mind and a full week.

I'll post Thanksgiving photos with Wednesday nuggets. Happy Monday everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hump Day Nuggets: Full Throttle

While the turkey begins its 24 hour brine in the fridge and the carpets wait desperately to be vacuumed after nap times I am eager to write about our great week. Thanksgiving is tomorrow so there's only more greatness to come!


We had a wonderful weekend. Ian took the girls downtown for the first time TOGETHER and while he was definitely wiped when he got home they had a blast. I used the time to make some headway on Ainsley's quiet book. I love love love doing it, but so wish I had a whole day to work so I could just crank it out. It takes a long time to set up all the components and thought and precision to get my vision clear, and when all is said and done I always feel rushed and have to stop before I'd like. I'm learning this whole "elving" thing with snoopy kids around. It's getting trickier for sure.

I fall more in love with crafting every time I do it. Especially with little ones around, it is so rare to have an excuse to just SIT and FOCUS and be calm. I love that it brings out a part of me that I used to know so well and really? I think it makes me a better mom, helps me to center and relax. All good thing.


While our Farm Fresh turkey was being hand delivered to our door Ainsley and I took a dreary afternoon walk to the Buzz, our local coffee shop cafe. It'd been months since I'd gone, the seating too tight for a mama and two little ones alone, but a quick date for Ainsley and I? It was perfection.

We sipped on hot cocoa and mexican mocha's respecively and nibbled on shortbreads. We chatted like pals and played at the park on our way home. It was great to have some one on one time with my girl. She gets cuter and sweeter every day.


Sunday morning we ventured to Auntie Sonya's and met her roomates two adorable kittens. The girls were over the moon. louise made happy sounds I've never heard before and Ainsley would have squeezed them silly with love if we didn't keep close tabs.

It was so fun to play the morning away and a real treat to eat lunch out afterwards. Then Ian took the girls home and I got a little adult shopping time with Auntie Sonya while walking around town. I love Oak Park, so walkable and quaint and fun. Then Sonya watched the girls so Ian and I could indulge in dinner out compliments of a groupon I snatched a few weeks back. After 2.5 years of nearly no dates or adult time out PERIOD, each one now is so special. Thanks Sonya!


On our second IKEA run with Auntie Jooj last week I stumbled across this $15 swing and had a moment. A swing? For inside? I simply had to find a way to make it work. Thankfully in our old 7 foot high basment we have an exposed beam, so I measure and screwed and in a matter of minutes, whalla! Instant basement playground. Ainsley is in absolute heaven.

We swing ALL the time in our house now and I can already see what a blessing this is going to be on those long cold dark winter days. Thanks yet again IKEA.


The rest of the week has been busy and good. Monday we bought and hauled more groceries than I thought humanly possible but somehow managed to survive the morning long affair. The girls are so excited for the holiday and for nana and grandpa dan's arrival tomorrow. Today we clean and tomorrow we cook. We can't wait!

::Louise and her popcorn, the girls new favorite snack::

(I pop a half cup in a brown lunch bag folded over with no oil or butter added, then add a bit of melted butter and stir once it's popped, SO good, and so much cheaper than buying the packs)

::Ainsley in a dress of mine from preschool, she felt so pretty in her "blouse and fancy dress"::

::Louise has enough hair to warrant a clip! (and she keeps it in!!!), and she' rockin' her new walking shoes, she's an extra wide, of course you are dumpling::

::post turkey brine making, eating the oranges we peeled for the brine::

::somehow ainsley has gotten in to makeup, how with a mother who NEVER wears ANY? I have no idea, but she found my stash and requests lip gloss occasionally, so I of course indulge her. She walks around pouting her lips, not talking so it won't come off, it's adorable.::

::Louise on her Rody, she loves that horse::

I know I'll have lots more to share after thanksgiving. Tales, of turkey roasting, pie eating and wine drinking (trying mulled wine for the first time!). Of course there will be equal tales of thanks and love and fun. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!