Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Just What I Needed

This past week was just what I needed.  I do believe, what we ALL needed.

There were so many things about our week that were absolute perfection.
The weather was glorious.  Hot a few days, cooler others.  Breezes and sun and....ahhh.  We were outside all day every day.
I'm never quite sure how the logistics will all work out with three little people, but we made it happen and it was great.
Ainsley is a swimmer girl, so so happy to jump in the deep end, off the dock off the boat.  She even tried out water skiing this year and tubed for the first time in her own tube.
Louise loves the water and boats and swinging.  Thankfully we were prepared for her bug bite sensitivity this year and while she still got a handful of awful welts it was nothing like last year and she was happy as a clam to be in the great outdoors.
Little Felix definitely kept us on our toes, but loved his bucket of water and cups on the dock, taking long boat rides and swing swing swinging.
My favorite this year was resurrecting the put put boat; an alumicraft with a small motor.  We took the whole family out one morning and Felix slept on a bed of life jackets while we toured the entire lake. We were gone so long my mom sent my dad out on the speedboat to look for us.  Never fear, we were just soaking it all in.
I know Ian and I both most enjoyed the change of pace, the fresh air, the loons calling, the crackling fires, all of it.  It's the things we miss most when we're home in our bustling city.
This week up north is my favorite of all.

So we're back.  I'm getting ready to attend my best friend from high school's wedding, alone, in Texas.  It will be bizarre and wonderful to be on my own for two whole days.  And then?  My baby girl turns 4 and we gear up for another school year, kindergarten for Ainsley.  I'm clinging to this last month of summer with both hands.  I know it'll fly far too fast if I don't.

I hope you all have had a great end to July.  Happy Wednesday!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Best

It's Friday.  And I have a headache.  And we're leaving tomorrow for a 10 day trip.  And no one is taking their afternoon nap.  Soooo, coffee? and writing?  Yes. Double yes.

A few nights ago over dinner Ian asked "what's been the best day of your life?".  Hmm.
I thought while he talked.
"I mean, it could obviously be any one of the days that our children were born, though as a day as whole, it was pretty rocky until THAT moment."  Mmmmhmmm.  
OK, or maybe the day we got married?  That was obviously great but I was so nervous for most of it, I couldn't even eat anything.  Yeah.  
If I'm honest?  It was probably one of the days that I was in San Diego...

Ian went on to describe his perfect day, or one of many.  A day to himself, eating his favorite food, basking in his favorite climate, just calm and happy and free.

Is that bad?  We laughed.  No, it's true.

Life is so full of big huge moments, isn't it?  Births, deaths, moves, job changes, graduations, firsts.   If I'm being honest those surely are not my favorites.  Those moments and days are so riddled with high emotion for me, they can be hard, surely exhausting, as good as they are.
But those ordinary great peaceful days? ah, give me ALL of those.

This conversation struck a particular chord with me because enjoying the everyday is exactly what I'm struggling with.  When we first decided to start our family, in my great excitement and anticipation I never could have imagined how incredibly hard this journey would be.  The exhaustion and strain and pressure is unlike anything I have ever felt.

The other night I was watching that tiny gymnast dominate the ninja warrior course along with the rest of the nation and I couldn't help but chuckle as my eyes welled up a bit from amazement.  Good for her,  awesome. And as she shook out her throbbing forearms and smacked her tapped out biceps I actually thought, I can totally relate to how you feel right now.

I've been really hard on myself this past year.  It's been a rough one.  Our little family is going through a whole lot and we're pretty much on our own here.  I talk about it all the time because it consumes my every day.  To recognize that you're in over your head and at the same time understand that you have very little control and means to change it is incredibly incredibly defeating.

So right now I'm focusing on what I do have control over, which is mostly just me, how I handle it, how I behave, how I am as a wife, a mom, a woman in this big world.
If I'm honest I don't like who I've become as a mom.  I yell a WHOLE lot more than I ever thought I would, at the same time I'm much more of a pushover too.  I'm terrible with follow through and consistency, I'm just not as organized and "with it" as I've hoped.  To top this all off I feel selfish.  I'm so consumed by my own self doubt and anxieties that most days I feel like I'm just getting by and not stopping to really let it all soak in.

But as always, it's not all bad.  All the angst and turmoil of the last months have only helped us grow and strengthen.  I'm simply amazed by Ian.  He is the most resilient, strong, loving man I can imagine.  He is the perfect counter part to me, a complete ball of anxious mess at any given moment.  I think we've needed these years just us to sort some things out and to really dig deep into who we are.  Because when all three of your kids are screaming, begging for every ounce of you at 6:47 pm and you're both so worn to the bone you can hardly stand up straight, you find a place in you that you didn't know that you had and you go fall into bed knowing that your day was worth something.

The Best moments of every day.

Outdoor painting.

Working on our feelings books.  Ainsley's first page was a picture of me singing, because she HATES that song I was singing.  Glad to know your feelings girl.

Seashell splash time.

 Loungin' with my boy while the girls and daddy are at a baseball game. Pirates booty and a soft blanket on the warm grass.  The best.

The best drama too. Do your children gather everything you've ever made for them and throw it on the floor the "GET RID OF IT!!!" when they're made at you?  no? Oh Ainsley girl.

The best joy ever, found in new carseats for the girls, and a FINALLY finished knitted romper for my boy. 

Switching up toys and cleaning things out.  Always the best.

Nickel jars for the girls.  Trying our darndest to hammer home a few parental points we've been trying to make.  Nickels are definitely the best for little people.

A new (first!) moderately successful halibut for my tiny bub.  Ah, his cuteness has no bounds.

Ah, so we're off.  We are so looking froward to this much anticipated break from our everyday.  Northwoods breezes and lakes and wide open spaces.  We need this so very much.
And as if to hit the point home even more I've been finishing this off while Felix cries his tiny heart out in his crib.  His will may in fact be stronger than mine. I'm off to cuddle that sweet dumpling boy.  Because consistency's got nothing on my heart these days.  Snuggles are much more important.  Snuggles, love, beautiful perfect moments, those are the best.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Ian's Birthday and the Fourth

My man turned 30 last week.  If possible it didn't hit me that I'm 30 until he hit the millstone with me, now I officially feel old. ;o).  We had a great time celebrating our guy.

This past weekend I was in a FUNK.  Capital F if you know what I mean.  I hate to admit it almost, a holiday weekend to boot.  I made it through Ian's birthday and then just crashed.

I was much sadder than I thought I'd be, missing out on this holiday up north.  I think I told every person with ears about it last week.  Oh we're not usually in town for the fourth, we're up north, at a cabin. It's lovely.  Who cares right?  I guess some whiny childhood tendencies are hard to shake.

Despite my grump we had a great holiday.  Ian took the girls to the town parade as Felix was still sleeping when it was time to head out. They had a blast.  Waving flags and shoving candy in their mouths all the way home.
We had friends over for a backyard bbq in the evening which was so nice.  It's great to have friends that you don't have to fuss over.  We all just ate and drank and talked and contemplated buying one of these together while kids played. Then Ian took the girls to the fireworks that night.  They all came home BEAMING.  I so wish I could have seen their first experience with fireworks.  Next year right?!

Then Saturday we needed some family fun.  As fun as the fourth was it felt a bit separate and segmented thanks to a sleeping little guy who couldn't partake in most of the festivities.  Ian found a flea market in a nearby town so we drove an hour and arrived a bit (coughTWOHOURScough) early.  Rather serendipitously there was a Costco right next to the lot so we visited for bathroom breaks and ended up buying a globe amongst other things (why not right?).  The Flea Market was awesome.  There were two stands I loved in particular with tons of solid vintage handled baskets and pyrex dish ware.  I REALLY REALLY wanted a new butter dish and basket but restrained myself.  Now I kind of wished I hadn't.  Still it was fun.  We all crashed that afternoon, it was a big morning!

Sunday we just kind of coasted through.  Played some, worked some.
I woke up this morning ready to make the week great.

I've been struggling with meal planning lately.  I've been doing really well with using up everything in the pantry and freezer, so now we're down to the bare bones and it was time to spruce things up.  I cook best when I'm excited about food and I was excited this week, big time.

I found a new food blog I'm loving.  Mels Kitchen Cafe.  This week I'm making her Greek Chicken Pita Pockets (in the crock pot for tonight!), Sweet Balsamic Glazed Porkloin, and Tuna and White Bean Salad (made with Ainsley this morning, had it in lettuce leaves for lunch, delicious).  I also revisited Moosewood for some snack and lunch inspiration.  I made her Lentil Bulgur Salad this morning and her walnut feta dip for snack.  That dip may sound weird but it's AMAZING!  I made it once when we were newly married for friends coming over and I don't know why I ever stopped.  Just walnuts and parsley ground fine in the food processor, add seasonings, milk and feta cheese and blend away.  Louise and I already gobbled lots up while we were making it.  I'm also making a gazpacho from The Naptime Chef.  I know Ian and I will love it, but I'm interested to see how the kids like it!  They're usually pretty open minded with food, but I got a basil tomato flatbread just in case.

Ah, to have four dishes already made for the week and ready to go sure helps with my mindset.

I did lose my cool with all of the kids at one point already this morning though.  I really need to reinstate that whole stop and count to 5 thing when I'm fuming and frustrated.  I don't know how people have more than 3 kids.  It's simply outrageous around here as it is.

So after good naps for all (even me! in the tub!) I'm feeling a bit refreshed.  It's HOT out today so we may stay in for these early afternoon hours and get some things done.  We have SO many summer birthdays in our family I really need to stay on top of it or I'm afraid I'll forget someone!  Then perhaps an early afternoon bike ride is in order, or at least a run through the sprinkler.  Even in my tiny funk with summer I can't be mad at the sprinkler.

I hope you all are having a great re-entry after the fourth and had a fun weekend celebrating wherever you happened to be.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Trails

Usually this time of year finds us up north.  It's been a tradition always to be at a cabin for the fourth of July.  Then after marriage and children at least a trek to Minnesota was in order.  This year we are home, alone.  I'm a bit sad about that.  I am missing family and cabin and Minnesota fun more than I thought I would.  But I have three little people to celebrate with and a man turning 30 later this week. Life is full and busy and great, no matter where we are.

After our Boston trip we've really sunk in to summer.  Mondays are errands and groceries. Tuesdays are library story times and gymnastics. Wednesdays and Thursdays are filled with playdates and parks and any kind of summer fun we can think of.  Fridays we have a standing playdate at our favorite splash pad park.  It's the perfect way to round out a full week.  Saturdays are for the farmers market, garage sales, and yard work.  Sundays are mostly restful.

Perhaps this is why little people seem to grow so fast. We get into these slick routines and the time simply flies.

fun at the zoo with friends (Ainsley and a penguin!!!)

Our happy little guy

It was only a matter of time before he started walking around with a little pink purse

This past weekend my sister and brother in law were in town as a stopover on their way up north from Boston.  It was such a treat to get to see them two times in two weeks! (and this time I took some photos!)

We hung out in the backyard the afternoon they got into town. It was SO hot so we just let the kids splash around while we relaxed (and I got to plant some annuals, finally!)
For dinner we ordered some Lou Malnati's (chicago deep dish).  It was delicious. For dessert I made a new recipe from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook.  Snickerdoodle gooey butter cake.  Um, yum.
Sunday we went to the Botanic Gardens in the morning.  It's one of our favorite places.  The flowers are simply gorgeous and it's so nice to get out of the hustle and bustle for a bit.
That afternoon Julie and Sim headed downtown to see friends so we went out for Indian buffet, took monster naps, and Ian took the girls to the pool while I played with Felix around the house.  For dinner we picked up some burritos, then hung out talking and watching some funny shows until bedtime.
It was such a treat to have you guys with us!  We wish we could have continued the journey north with you!

So now our focus is on Ian's birthday on Thursday.  The girls and I ran some serious birthday errands yesterday and I feel pretty well prepared. (SEVEN blocks of cream cheese are currently waiting in the fridge.  I wonder what he could want for dessert?!?!)  The girls are giddy with excitement.  They both have their own gifts, totally of they own idea, to give him.  I just love how much they love and know their dad.  Birthdays are the best.

I hope you all are having a great week!  I'm really looking forward to Ian's birthday and the long holiday weekend.  While I sure wish we could be with all of our family I'm feeling quite thankful for the 4 other people under this roof with me right now.