Saturday, January 28, 2012


Now that the surprise has been successfully executed I am free to gush.  Ian took Ainsley to Minnesota for the weekend to surprise Nana for her birthday.  Remember last year when he did the same to be with his dad after surgery?  It was a bittersweet weekend for me indeed.  The first time away from my big girl for more than a few hours, watching them drive off I remember the pang in my heart.  Then the total and complete enjoyment of a long weekend with my sweet baby.  I'm having total deja vu.

But this year my dumpling is almost a whole year older, 9 months older to be exact.  Instead of spending our weekend lazing about, cooing, babbling and snuggling we're having a grand adventure.

Last night we went on a date.  Louise insisted on a dress for herself but I convinced her that mommy could wear my fun new hoodie and still be fancy.  We dined at a new place, a small Italian joint.  Louise happily noshed on bread and colored the paper table cloth as we chatted.  We chowed down our ravioli and left with enough time before bed to share a hot fudge sunday at our local ice cream parlor (I let her have the cherry of course :o).  She was ready for bed immediately upon arriving home so instead of fighting bedtime with Ainsley until 9-ish I was free and clear at 7 sharp, allowing me so much time to myself that my head was spinning.

So I settled in to work on my latest knitting project (oh the knitting that's getting done around here is SO exciting) and watch a movie.  I decided on The Last of the Mohicans, one I've always wanted to see but Ian has already seen.  So I knitted and cried and had a grand night, going to bed early enough that Louise's 6:30 arousal was no big deal.

So far we've spent the morning organizing and cleaning out our house like banshees.  Louise has been so helpful and cute.  We've sang and danced and read book after book.  Then we went out for a spin in the wagon, reddening our cheeks and freshening our bodies just enough before her long afternoon nap.

Ahhh.  I know Ian and Ainsley are having a grand time in Minnesota, but it's pretty nice here too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hump Day Nuggets:: Dabble

I'm having a morning when I wish I had a "normal" job.  You know, out the door by 8, coffee and shoulder bag in hand.  Knowing mostly what to expect, no surprises, nothing too exciting either.  This job of mine has been taking a toll on me lately and I can't seem to find a way to shake it.

I'm realizing part of my issue is my tendency to dabble.  I feel like parenting has given me ADD.  A little of this here, a little of that there,  a whole lot of NOT finishing things, leaving stuff undone, messes and disorganization.  I feel like I'm losing my mind lately.

And to make it worse? the girls have been great.  We seem to keep turning corners with Ainsley, Louise too.  They play so well together, talk out problems, give kisses and hugs freely.  Louise is over the top adorable these days.  Saying new words just about every minute ("coffee" was the standout this morning), being the sweetest pie ever created, and approaching everything in life with eagerness and glee.   And Ainsley May?, goodness gracious.  She's suddenly so old, so able and big girl and helpful and SWEET.  I think I've been in shock for three solid days.  She's been absolutely wonderful.

::sneak around the corner shot of my girls playing birthday party together, they worked for 10 minutes building this cake, walked hand in hand to me with it singing happy birthday mama, my heart exploded in my chest and my eyes welled, I'm so proud of them::

When they're at their best I feel like I REALLY need to be at mine, to capitalize on fun, take advantage of good moods.  Why does life so seldom work out that way?

So instead of being terribly pro active, I've become quiet contemplative this last few days.  Spending my quiet time searching for inspiration (there it is again) and my own parenting voice.  As usual it's a work in progress but I'm determined to find it.


Of course our first full week back in good health finds us with cold winter weather and a break in playschool between sessions.  We've rekindled our love for the library and playdates, and of course musikgarten is always the highlight of our week.

::cake balls and play with Gigi::


  Getting out of our sicky in house watching way too many shows groove, and back into playing and crafting and creativity.  Loving it.
::twirling with lamby::

I was recently inspired by an post about a playroom with Waldessori (montessori/waldorf) features.  While I'm not fully on board the montessori bandwagon I do think the idea for quiet, structured, task based work has it's place in learning and I found a few new fun ideas in my search.
::flower arranging::
for the price of one large bunch of flowers and two tulip plants at Trader Joes (a total of less than $10) we had a full morning of creativeness and care was delightful, and now that the tulips are in bloom?  Our house is all abuzz

Other "waldessori" inspired activities?  Reinstating toddler help around this house with folding laundry, setting the table, sweeping and tidying.  It's amazing how much both of my girls love to help, especially Ainsley.  I'm loving this new inspiration and a few little girls I know may be surprised to find some quality toddler sized cleaning apparatuses in their easter baskets (dusters and carpet sweepers anyone? :o)

::homemade window clings::
a poor photo I know, but you get the idea! ainsley and I made these with puffy paint and sheet protectors, such an easy and satisfying craft, and they play with them, moving them to and fro, all day long!

::gingerbread garland::
so the garland may not be in tact yet, but the pieces are made and frosted, what fun we had mixing and cutting, baking and decorating (and of course nibbling)

::new playspace::
there's nothing like a little rearranging to get a fresh start, now our basement has much more room to move and run and swing! and for daddy to snooze all the while if need be::

 ::new and old loves::
A Child's Garden of Verses is a new favorite, coloring and Yaweez?  tried and true

Now I'm off to contemplate some more while my girls snooze away this cloudy afternoon after a long full morning.  Happy Hump Day.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Sometimes, most times, I find it hilarious that I was an art major in college.  A bit because I always knew that my work wasn't anything spectacular, hardly measuring up to most of the talent around me, and a lot because I really lacked inspiration.

I was great with assignments, LOVED perceptual stuff.  Still lives, vanishing point architecture renderings, and monthly drawings of the same space in differnent lights and times I had down and really really enjoyed.  Art like that to me was kind of mindless, it just happened.  I could go to the studio or curl up in my papason with a sketchbook or board and pencils and the hours and minutes just floated by.

When it came to making up my own stuff, independent paint studies and art shows, it was rough.  I so struggled with finding my own voice in art, something to make that felt real and authentic and me.  So I followed the critiques of my trusted professors and went with what I knew I could do.  It worked out okay, but at the end of the day was it anything to write home about? nah.  But it was fun and it was mine and the further I get from that time when I had the space and ability to make my own stuff the more I so desperately seek it in my life.

If I had to choose the hardest thing about being a parent it is that; losing so much of myself in my kids, FOR my kids. It's the hardest balancing act I've done, trying to satisfy all of our needs at once.  I'm realizing more and more each day how important compromise is.  Teaching compromise?  a million times harder.

For instance today, I was desperate to finally get Ainsley to read a book with me that we picked up a while back at the library.  Winter Story by Jill Barklem, a delightful addition to her series about a quaint little woodland mouse village named Brambley Hedge.  Adorable right?  Well Ainsley HATES these books, for what reason I don't know.  And I keep pushing them on her, for what reason I also don't know.  Or I do. I LOVE these books, and when my brain feels like it's going to explode from reading her 5 favorites over and over I NEED something different, something that I like because I count too right?

Well kind of.  When you have kids you don't really count so much any more.  Sure it's important to take it easy if you're really sick,stay at least moderately sane by getting out of the house and interact with other adults, and healthy by ingesting something other than your kids scraps from the table, but other than that? I am a mom, I am theirs and pretty much? they dictate my life.

I realize this all sounds very woe is me and sad, but in fact it's been enlightening to realize this all. Especially seeing as now I have inspiration coming out of my ears.  Inspiration to teach my girls well and thoughtfully.  Inspiration to create for the ones I love, learn to live with less, simplify and prioritize.  Inspiration to love fully and honestly, worry less and enjoy more in the present.

So now I have oodles of inspiration, about 6 years too late.  I feel like I've sparked new interests, talents and hobbies that I desperately want to cultivate and find time for.  So I'm learning how to reconcile those needs of my own with the needs of my growing girls.  It's a one step forward, twelve steps back kind of program, but we're getting there, a little more each day.

Today I am thankful for new inspirations.  For willing eager girls and a happy home.

::flower arranging, apparently something that inspires us all::

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snacky Snacks

Raise your hand if you're only three years into this parenting thing and you're already sick of snacks.    For real.  

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE snacks.  When both my newborns used to eat gingerly every hour and a half my mom would chuckle when I'd call to complain "oh Becky, they get their snackiness from their mama!".    It's true, while I can put it away when I want to I'm much more of a nibbler.  I can get by on very little in the mornings but come about 3pm? watch out pantry.

My girls have followed in my footsteps.  Now that Ainsley is FINALLY well on the weight charts for her age (20%!) and YaWeez is so active and hungry I'm finding we need a lot more food in this house all of sudden.

Until this point I've been able to get by on a bag of dried fruit and a bunch of cheese sticks per week.  Suddenly Ainsley's demanding variety and quantity and I'm weary of the store bought options out there (both for content and price).  So I've started making snacks, and let me tell you I'm loving it.

My first foray into snack-making was a cereal bar substitute with whole wheat flour, flax seeds and apple apricot filling.  I've raved about that one enough to know it's a keeper.  Easy to make with the girls, yummy and healthy and one batch made so much that we still have some in the freezer.

But that wasn't enough. I said variety right?  So I tried another bar, smitten kitchen's raspberry breakfast bar and they were AMAZING.  I didn't have raspberries, so I used frozen strawberries and blueberries and added ground flax seeds into the crumble.  The girls (and Ian and I) gobbled these right up.

On the docket this week are homemade cliff bars.  I'm excited about their adaptability to tastes and what's in the pantry.  I'm thinking I'll try the dried apple pecan version.

Bars aside I've tried Smitten's graham crackers and they were a smash hit.  Instead of making them into boring old squares I let the girls at them with a bunch of winter cookie cutters and sugar sprinkles.  Definitely a sweet treat but delicious and snacky nonetheless.

After succumbing to the temptations at Costco and buying a bulk box of mini muffins (and being simultaneously horrified a the ingredient list and that their expiration date was like a YEAR away) I vowed to make my own.  I bought a $12 mini muffin tin at Target and looked up a new recipe that has become my all time favorite banana muffin and made a double batch.  I froze half and we still pull some out for snacks and breakfast every few days.

Annnd cheese crackers...the bane of all parents' existance right? (Partly because they're addicting for me too!) I've seen lots of recipes for homemade cheese crackers.  Smitten Kitchen has two, both in goldfish and straw form.  I may first make a very simple recipe I found in my Wilton cookie press cookbook.  If you have a spritz cookie press you can make these too, and think of what fun shapes they could be in!

Another favorite of my girls' is dried fruit.  I have a food dehydrator from high school (yes, as a highschooler I asked for a food dehydrator for Christmas, I should have seen then the domesticity in me just screeching to be let loose).  Every once in a while I pull it out to dehydrate the dregs of fruit at the end of the week but I've seen lots of ideas for drying fruit in the oven to make "chips" and crisps and this is quite intriguing.  And yet one more fruit snack idea are fruit rolls in the oven.  Yes yes I will be having to make those too.

And who can forget popcorn?  I count this as homemade because after finding this idea on pinterest I will never buy bags of popcorn again!  You simply buy lunch sized brown bags, pour in 1/3 cup of popcorn, roll up the bag and microwave for 3-3.5 minutes.  Add some melted butter and salt and POPCORN!  One of our most favoritest easiest snacks.

And there you have it.  Snacky snacks.  LOTS of them.  I find making them keeps things interesting, relatively healthy and even a tidge exciting.

PLEASE share your snack successes with me.  I can use all the help I can get.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hump Day Nuggets: Slow and Steady

I love winter.  It's part of the reason that I'll never move out of the midwest (most likely).  I think it makes summer warmer, spring sweeter and fall more delicious and precious to have these long cold winter months.

But I will admit this winter has been strange.  With no real snow to speak of and temperatures only beginning to reflect the time of year I've found myself in a bit of a limbo routine-wise.  I remember last year so looking forward to this year with two mobile snow bunnies beneath my feet.  Long hours spent outside romping and sledding, red cheeked and happy.  Instead I find our groove off, mostly indoors and slow and uninspired (thanks colds and no snow!).  Plus Louise is not such a fan of her snow gear.  She mostly sits and whimpers while we're out, wanting to be held and points desperately at me "up, mama, IN! mama".  SO instead of fighting this off groove I've decided to go with it this week and we've been having a grand time.


Last Thursday it snowed lots, so instead of driving to pick Ainsley up from playschool Louise and I walked through the falling snow.  Louise snuggled down under the canopy and Ainsley was delighted with our wonderland walk, stretching and leaning her long body out to capture as many of the flakes as she could.  We rounded out the morning with a trip to the library, finding new books and friends as always.  It was good to remember an old routine in a new way.
Yesterday Louise and I attended solo musikgarten for the first time (thanks to me getting wise to scheduling her class during playschool) and it was pure and utter joy.  I had a moment when I looked at my baby, not at all baby anymore, toddling with the other tots, swaying and clapping to familiar tunes, even singing her "bum bum bums" right on cue.  Miss Amy used her as an expample of what an "in eutero" music baby can do.  It's truly amazing.  I am bursting not just with pride, but joy that we found this niche here, a place where my girls have both so thrived and flourished.  It's pretty amazing.
It's no secret that I'm a bit at odds right now, still fighting off the dregs of this cold and cough that make it hard to fall asleep, and anxiety of big decisions coming up that make it hard to stay asleep.  I'm trying to find new outlets for my anxiety and flurried mind, staying extra busy with my girls and reintroducing running into my evenings as much as possible.  Have I mentioned that I'm running the Ragnar (Madison to Chicago) on here yet?  Joining a team with two of my sisters, slotted as runner 8, running just over 18 miles in three legs.  I'm excited a bit terrified all at once.  While I know I'll get there, back to where I was and even better maybe, training in this new life is much harder than in my old one!  Wish me luck!

And now for the good!


This last weekend was my grandpa's 85th birthday.  Not wanting to show up empty handed to such an important celebration I racked my brain for something an 85 year old man might need or want AND something that Ainsley could help me make.  In two of my beloved craft books I found ideas for bookmarks, did a bit of mish-mashing and flying by the seat of my pants (the only way I know how to roll) and I must say I think the end result was pretty neat.
I wish I'd taken a better photo of the back.  Ainsley helped me pick out scraps from my scrap bag and arrange them how she wanted, then I sewed them together with a zig zag stitch, frayed edges and all...I really liked the rough quality of the edges.

Then I asked her to draw Bop a picture on a scrap of muslin.  She chose to draw a cookie and the letter "B" for Bop! (And Bert, his first name).  Then I put the fabric in a small embroidery hoop and embroidered her designs with thread of her choice colors.  Sewed both pieces together with a fabric loop on top and whalla!  instant handmade child art book mark.

She was so excited by the drawing that we decided to make some wrapping paper too.  Her foot there is on top of the birthday cake (upside down) and in the forefront is a drawing of her Bop and her holding hands.  The balloons and squiggly lines are mine if you must know :o).  We had such fun with this project and it bodes well for all the present making to come!

 See?  Ainsley doing a happy I just made a great present dance!

party photos...girls opening gifts with Bop

 feeling pretty proud of blowing all those candles out

It was a great party, full of family and food and lots of helpers with the girls.  It was so fun to get to celebrate 85 years with my wonderful Bop!


 Saturday morning I was up early and couldn't get back to sleep.  Then Louise joined me at around 5:30 so we motivated to make homemade sticky buns.  This is the recipe from Joy of Cooking and they were fantastic.  Next time I'll make the dough the night before and let it sit in the fridge so we can enjoy them in a more timely fashion the next morning.


Monday morning we erranded at our local toy shop "needing" to use Ainsley's birthday $10 coupon before it expired.  She did SO well, thoughtfully playing and devising and happily returning items from the shelf when I calmly explained to her that her $10 couldn't buy her a brand new waldorf dollhouse or jumbo bean bag stuffed animal.  I let the girls play and roam a bit, then gave Ainsley her three choices and she happily enthusiastically chose this Educo Mixer.  A mixer was one thing I wanted for her for Christmas but we'd already gotten her enough so I was delighted she wanted one too!  Upon arriving home we immediately took out the box of chopping food and a bag of play noodles and the girls did their thing.  We had a great morning.

 ::my big girl only eats at the booster now, not strapped in or anything!::

And my other big girl?  She's pretty great too.

After a rough night last week when we had to haul ALL of Ainsley's toys out of her room we rewarded her this week by bringing some back, doing some rearranging and trusting her to take pride in her big girl space once again.  So far it's working really well.

::new "princess bed" as Ainsley calls it, creates SO much wonder and excitement for her space::

 ::we brought back the dresser and pushed her rug against the wall to create a proper play space in her room, the few toys we chose to stay are within reach and easily kept track of::

 ::this week I remembered popcorn!  our favorite snack::

 Today I am thankful for cold and a bit of snow.  For homemade pomanders festively scenting the air thanks to a morning craft and gingerbread cookie dough chilling in the fridge for afternoon crafts.  `I am thankful for Ainsley who crawled into bed with me today for nap and actually fell asleep! and sweet Louise snuggling next to me watching the Music show of Classical Baby, easing into these late afternoon hours.  Today I hope for motivation to run despite feeling oh so tired and snuggly warm with my girls on this winter day.

Happy Hump Day out there!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Valentines, Love, and Books

One of my to dos for this morning was to start the ball rolling with Valentine's Day.  Nothing big, but I want to do SOMETHING for the girls (and now that their sweaters are done ahead of schedule I needed a bit of a revamp).  Other than the new tradition of concocting a holiday garland and some festive clothing I was at a bit of a loss.  Not wanting to go overboard or NEEDING much I've been pondering how best to celebrate this season of love, acceptance and peace with the girls.  Then the answer kind of fell in my lap.

I've recently stumbled across (oh wait, have I already mentioned that? :o) and have fallen head over heels.  I ordered a TON of books from the library based on finds and recommendations from this website and I kid you not, EVERY SINGLE ONE is AMAZING.

One book I borrowed was Under the Chinaberry Tree by the founder of Chinaberry, Ann Ruethling.  The book's subtitle is books and inspirations for mindful parenting, and it is that and so much more.  I have read the first two chapters word for word and then found myself skimming ahead for all the great book recommendations.  The advice is gentle and easy, the recommendations are amazing.  My conclusion is simple, if you're a parent you NEED this book.

I would love to meet this woman and shake her hand, no, give her an embarrassingly long, heartfelt hug.  She's the kind of person that I feel akin to, like we're already best friends, just never met.  Her whole philosophy behind chinaberry is that it matters what we read to our kids.  Duh right?  But really, I feel like the message these days is JUST READ! ANYTHING! READ! And while I guess that's better than nothing, surely it matters WHAT we read.

The further I get into this parenting thing the more strongly I feel about some things like this.  I've recently found myself purging our home of lots; books, toys, clothes, even what the girls are exposed to on tv (seriously, there is so much CRUD on tv for kids).  I have become quite choosey about what I want those little eyes seeing, ears hearing and minds mulling over.  To some extent I get that I only have so much control, that Ainsley entering school and playing with other kids is of course going to expose both her and Louise to lots.  For that I am actually really thankful, but I also feel strongly that I can create a haven for them in our home, a nurturing place of acceptance, wonder and innocence.

With that I leave you with my finds for Valentine's Day

"A pop-up book bursting and brimming with love, this is one sweet little 3-D journey around our world of love. From the bow of an Italian gondola where people tell their sweeties, ''Ti voglio bene,'' to a river at the base of an ornate Japanese pagoda where koi share their feelings with ''Dai su ki,'' everyone, everywhere, really does say ''I love you.'' 

Featuring six astonishing pop-ups of different locales and landmarks that leap off the pages, every spread more impressive than the next, this is one odyssey of love you'll want to share again and again." -

A book about guardian angels for your little angel.  The illustrations are beautiful, the rhyming texts lulls and comforts.  Beautiful.

As a child we had the Jolly Christmas Postman and it was one of our favorites.  I had forgotten about it until seeing the original in the must haves section.  I am SO excited for Ainsley and Louise to experience the wonder of this book.  And how appropriate for a holiday based around the beauty of a simple letter.

These illustrations are breathtaking and the words are adapted from the Corinthians chapters and verses on love in the Bible.  What a beautiful way to introduce the biblical side of love to little ones?

In the spirit of love, acceptance and diversity I was thrilled to find these next two books.  Mem Fox is one of my favorite children's authors and this book looks amazing.  It's all about children all over the world, how they are all the same in many ways and their differences are really just beautiful color and vibrancy in this world.

If you have kids you know how into photographs of other children they are.  I am SO excited for this book.  Pages upon pages of children from all around the world, what they wear what they eat where they sleep and live and play.  I see us pouring over this for hours, just talking and learning and broadening.  

This book was one of my first finds.  We have it now from the library and it's Ainsley's new favorite.  We "read" it at LEAST three times a day.  I say "read" because it's a wordless book, something I'd shied away from for some reason in the past.  I think I thought when kids were still learning to talk they needed that consistent repetition of words and cadence that an author's voice brings, and while they do, they also need to develop story telling skills and goodness is this a story.  A sweet little woman spending her whole morning painstakingly gathering ingredients to make pancakes only to find a sad surprise upon the return of one of her errands.  We tell it a little differently each time, but the punchline is always the same, a fit of giggles and smiles.  I'm a total convert to wordless books.

So this Valentine's Day I so look forward to an occasion to love extra and in abundance, but also an excuse to introduce some beautiful treasures to my two precious little ones.  Good thing I cleaned out those book shelves after all!  And seriously, if you haven't checked out chinaberry yet DO, it'll change your life.

Back in the Saddle

After two solid weeks of colds we're all on the mend enough to climb back in the saddle.  It's been a long haul of NOT normal routines for this family.  Holiday and birthday prep, travel and fun, long sniffly days turning into weeks indoors, neglected chores and forgotten errands.  Now that I'm back to functioning level I'm noticing it all and feeling a bit overwhelmed.

So I'm taking a moment to breath, sit and focus on what really NEEDS to get done.  Today I'm thankful that my amazingly thoughtful and brave boy got a whole weeks worth of groceries last night with the girls in tow while I rested my pounding draining head.  I'm thankful that Louise let me get most of the thank you cards written early this morning when we awoke in sync to a quiet dark house.  I am thankful for an organized desk file and an extra day to get outgoing stuff organized thanks to MLK day.  I am thankful for perspective.  We have a birthday coupon gift from our local toy store that needs to be used asap (what local store do you know that gives $10 to kids for their birthdays?  pretty great).  I LOVE when toy shopping is a priority.  As is enjoying our health and well being, the sun and remembering a great man with beautiful dreams.  Errands, cleaning and bills will get done.  But this life of prosperity and relative ease that we have been blessed to live?  That deserves all of my focus and attention today.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Project Slump

So now I'm under the weather.  I felt it coming these past two days but stayed hopeful.  Nothing that an extra dose of vitamin C and advil cold and sinus can't temper, but I feel icky all the same.  Mostly because of this slump I've been in.

The hardest part about all these colds and extra naps and fevers and staying indoors is getting out of our great routine.  I so miss DOING things with my girls and am officially sick of every toddler appropriate show out there (because there's about 4 and we've seen them ALL, except Wallace and Gromit, I could never grow sick of that).

So despite feeling chilled and stuffed up and headachy I'm doing my best to motivate.  The snow is just starting to fall and I pulled out the double stroller ready for a snowy walk with the girls to the library after Ainsley's playschool is done.  I've been looking up Valentine's kits and am REALLY tempted by this one and this one.  But in my heart I know that it'd be extravagant and lofty to think that Ainsley would really put it to good use this year.

I've really been struggling with that one lately, butting heads lots and frustrated.  Even with ALL these wonderful new art supplies and projects she isn't too tempted.  It's so hard for me because especially in these long indoor days all I want to do are projects with my girls.  Her new favorites?  All the games we have that are hard to play with Louise underfoot and baths where she can use her fun new shaving kit from Auntie Jenny.  So in between baths and big girl time I've been at a bit of a loss and now my own motivation is waning.

Last night Ian went to her prospective new preschool's open house.  He came back impressed and starry eyed with a bunch of pamphlets about play based learning and progressive ed.  I was reminded of my experience teaching at such a school, so excited about this idea that children lead us to what they need and how they need to learn it.  But with my own child I am struggling.

A favorite blogger of mine wrote a piece yesterday about spending a whole day on "Harper time" (her 3 year old boy).  They lingered outside and fed chickens for HOURS and while inside she was desperate to get so much done around the house and check things off her long list she let it all go and followed his lead.  Apparently they had a great day.

I have those days with Ainsley.  The days when I'm able to let go of my own ambitions and follow hers.  Those days can be great.  I just so wish they happened more often, that there was more of a balance.  I resent that I have to let go of so much that I want to do, so much of me, to make her happy.  Still, I am determined to make that balance happen by following her lead, finding a way to teach her what I deem important in a way that's appealing and exciting to her.  It's all about compromise right?

So right now as the laundry whirls and the dishes dry and my sweet Louise sleeps off the last dregs of her cold and Ainsley plays happily at school with her pals my mind is whirling and at ease all at once.  I am excited for a full morning doing things I KNOW the girls and I will love (they get to romp around the library while I sift through new sewing and parenting books), and an afternoon coercing Ainsley to help me finish thank you cards with a reward in the snow outside.  Then an evening out with my boy will capitalize a  long full day.  So maybe I'm not one that can be on Ainsley  (or Louise for that matter!) time ALL the time, but I'm willing to give them a large bit, if they'll give me mine every once in a while.

Today I am thankful for snow and advil and dark skies for long naps.  For quiet and calm and fun and laughter.  This slump won't last another day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hump Day Nuggets:: Country Mouse

The other night I couldn't sleep.  Despite my own mild sniffles and chills and being indoors all day with the girls again, my mind was racing.  I felt off, grouchy and unable to shake it.  So I wrapped myself in a blanket and came downstairs and stared at this blank screen for a bit. My hands moved to type and I found myself searching for real estate in places like Spokane, Chico and Missoula, Duluth and southern MN. I honed the search in on small well built older homes with a view.  Mountains and rivers, hills and valleys, space to roam and garden and be.  I enjoyed myself thoroughly (if you know me I'm always up for a good faux-house hunt), but kind of wondered why this had helped so.

I sat on this, pondered a bit of the whys and whats.  Turns out?  I'm not as at home here as I thought.  I used to think that it was so hard to be here because it was away from home, different from where I grew up and far away from the ones I loved most.  It was a little that, but mostly? I'm not such a city girl.

Our lifestyle gives me so much anxiety.  Large noises from outside, roadwork at all hours and any day, hustle and bustle and "what are your weekend plans? There's a million things going on" and literally, there are, at any given moment a MILLION things going on.

The stress of what to do and how to do it and how much of it to do is getting completely overwhelming.  I'm even struggling with school choices for the girls, not even where to go, but if they should go.  I never in a million zillion years would have considered homeschooling before having kids.  Now?  I'm not so sure.  The idea of cultivating a curriculum to fit them and nurturing them in that special way that I know I could is so appealing, but also daunting and a bit unrealistic.  I so value my own education, the social-ness and independence of it all.  We'll see.  We'll just see.

I know that life isn't perfect and that you rarely get to choose precisely the life that fits you, but isn't that what we dream about as children?  Eating ice cream for breakfast and staying up too late, choosing a career that you love and a home that suits you.  I have so many pieces of that puzzle that I wanted and for that I feel silly mulling over this one point, but I can't help it.  I want to feel at home.  I have made this place as home as it can be, truly love so many things about this house and community that I will sorely miss someday.  But I can't help but feel like I'm fighting a bit with the city, telling it to back off on Saturdays when I just want birds chirping outside, a warm fire crackling and my family close by.  I don't need hustle and bustle and activities and a full social calendar, in fact that really stresses me out.  I want just us 4 and a simple quiet life surrounded by nature and simplicity. For one night it really helped to dream of that reality, and remind myself that someday?  It's all possible.


:: January sweatshirt and party shoes bike ride, bizarre and wonderful::

 ::breakin in some new kicks, really loving the crosswalk 
(I think we did it twelve times)
PS, can I just say that that's a 12 month sized jacket?  I LOVE Patagonia, their stuff lasts FOREVER::

  Now Ian has been bitten by the cold bug that's engulfed our family.  I'm the last one standing and feeling a bit achy today despite taking FOUR emergen-C's yesterday.  I figure if I go down at least we staggered so there should be one parent mobile at any given time!  Thankfully Louise broke her fever this morning and now it's just a matter of getting her appetite and smiles back.  My girl has never been down and out this long, it's been breaking my heart.

::snuggly sad Louise::


My mom and sister are in town!  They're here to celebrate my Bop's 85th year of life, introduce Griffin to all the chicago folk and of course have tons of fun with their Oak Park family branch.  They were here yesterday through this morning and we had such fun.  Ainsley was stuck to her Grammy like glue and Louise was just as smitten with Griffin as at Christmas.  Grammy took Ainsley to musikgarten today so I could stay home with a konked out sick Louise and we'll see everyone again on Saturday for the big party (and Grammy tomorrow for when she babysits so Ian and I can go downtown for a beer/bacon tasting compliments of Julie and Sim for Christmas...needless to say we're wetting our pants with excitement).

 ::STOP! Grammy-time! :o)::

Louise's sweater is complete and I'm excited to have made good on my promise to make more in the new year.  My mom walked me through my new sewing machine yesterday and Ainsley already has lots of grand plans for it "Um mommy?  I'd really like a beautiful ballet skirt and bow on top for my lamby lamb.  She'd really really look cute in that".  I see lots of post nap sewing in our future.

:: YaWeez on the mend, or perhaps it's just that chocolate she's noshing on?
can you really blame me? the child's eaten NOTHING for 3 days::

 ::or maybe not so mended?  She was very happy to color though!
(and I get that her outfit clashes, but I just HAD to try the new sweater on right away)::

So life continues to plug ahead.  I keep waiting for things to get back to normal and perhaps they will with the forcast of SNOW tomorrow (FINALLY!!!!) and the return of my girls' and husband's health (soon please!).  For now I am so thankful for family in town and fun nights planned, lots of new games to play and crafts to do, and making the most of this place that we call home, for now.

Happy hump day!

::come on, did you really think I'd last long without a self portrait from the new camera? 
I mean I had to show off how great my hair looks today ;o)::