Friday, May 29, 2015

For Felix at Two

As is now tradition in our family we started Felix's birthday celebration making a chain link banner, writing things we love about him on each link.  I scurried to type them out before I forgot to do so.  Phonetic spelling included.

beautiful smile
felix is nice
hot dogs
family love
sharp listening ears
ta da!
felix is nis
felix is com
felix is hape
smells good
gabage tuck!
cut a tee!
animal love
felix is cute
felix is kut
i try too
hold you
felix is hefl

My Felix boy you are two.  As always it feels a bit shocking, this new number next to your name, but mostly it feels just right.

You are such a complex dichotomy of things my boy.
You are the sweetest and snuggliest.
You still ask to "hold you" lots and when I swoop you up to my chest you still tuck your knees up high and snuggle your head into the nape of my neck.  I love this so much.
The easiest way to get you back to sleep in the wee hours of the morning is to lay down with you and snuggle.  If I try to roll away to get more comfortable you cry out "snuggle!" snuggle!"
You sing sweet songs and dance.
You want hugs from everyone multiple times before going anywhere.
You love your family so much and often can be found just singing little songs about all the people in your life.
You are in love with trucks, particularly garbage trucks.  I even put a green garbage truck on your birthday cake.
When we're in our house your new favorite place is your big boy bed where you sit and page through books.  The truck ones and the singing ones are favorites.
You love to be outside playing in the backyard, at the park, or riding bikes.  "I running!" with your right arm pumping hard is pretty darn cute.
You are talking so much and communication is not an issue.  Having said that we're entering into a little toddler tantrum phase that I'm hoping we'll ride out soon.  You do not like being changed at all, shirts, pants, shoes, diapers, none of it.  It makes getting in and out the door as much as we need to rather difficult.
"joosh" is still your favorite drink to ask for but you're learning that water is all you get most of the time.  The sweet articulate way that you say "No want wa-TER" is almost too much.
You love our music class each week and have started singing some of the songs and participating in the dancing parts more.  You are so happy to do just about anything.  Last week I finally took you to the gymnastics open gym and you were just about the happiest I've ever seen you, jumping into the foam pit, hanging from bars.  I'm excited to try out gymnastics with you when you're a bit older.  I think you'll love it.
You move around so well and at the park I have to really watch you because you're so fearless.  You really want to do the fireman's pole like your sisters and can sit on a big kid swing and swing no problem.
I have pangs of guilt that I don't "do" as much with you as I did with your sisters at this age.  We go to our music class and the sporadic story time or open gym.  Otherwise our you and me time is just that.  Usually I have to use our together morning hours to get things done.  I am thankful that you are such a happy helper.  You love to drag bags of groceries into the kitchen with me, unpack them, unload the dishwasher, throw things away, dust and dust buster.  You are such a little helper boy and Iam amazed at all that you can do.  Plus I think you need that quiet time with me, I sure need it with you.  It's LOUD when your sisters are around ;o).    
Really it feels right that you are two.  One thing I love so much about my growing little people is getting to know you more with each passing moment, month, year.  You have such a sweet heart, you are playful, and aside from sporadic toddler meltdowns actually pretty reasonable. You like things in a very particular way for bedtime and love having your own space.  You love to play by yourself or with other children, you're pretty low key about life in general in fact.
We love you so much Felix boy.  Welcome to TWO!!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Weekend Words

I'm all about the weekends lately.  I have TIME.  Time to drink way too much coffee each morning, sit and think for a bit.  Enjoy my little people and my guy a bit more.  I love weekends.

Memorial Day weekend has become one of my favorites of all.  Ian gets Monday off which is such an amazing treat.  That extra day helps us relax and squeeze in more.  It's a good juggle.

Yesterday was a most perfect start to the summer season.  Our pool and splash pads open for the summer and we took full advantage.  First stop wast the Farmer's market, the opening day for that too.  I grabbed my sturdy bunch of asparagus and we devoured our 6 donuts (because we're a 6 donut family now).  I dreamt of being able to afford all of the beautiful plants and flowers as is tradition.

On our way home we stopped at one garage sale where I found a $2 handmade throw quilt.  It's finds like these that make me feel like there is some garage sale fairy looking out for me.  Perfection.

We spent the next 45 minutes changing and sun lotioning and lunch making for the pool.  We walked up and for the second year in a row our girls were the first two in our local oak park pool.

After an hour of splashing we ate our picnic lunch, then Ian took Felix home for a nap and I stayed with the girls.  We ran into friends.  The girls swam.  I SAT, no LOUNGED, for most of that time.  There are definitely perks to kids growing up a bit.

I thought about that a lot as I sat there actually.  I have been simply stunned by how much Ainsey in particular has grown this past year.  There were moments of her toddler and preschool years when  I thought we'd never see the light after weeks of behavior problems and tantrums and defiance.  She has matured so much.  I find myself sad to be leaving those baby and young toddler years behind only to be met with so much thankfulness and joy at experiencing life with my big kids.  They are so so great.

After a full 2 hours at the pool the girls and I headed home (so thankful that's a mere block walk at that stage of the game).  We headed out to accomplish some errands, weekend groceries, bakery, coffee and cold drink treats, mega library pick up.

We spent the afternoon getting some much needed relaxation.  We poured over the new books on our new quilt.  Ainsley passed out on the couch in the quiet house for 45 minutes.

More about those books.
Ainsley and Louise are both very excited about summer reading.  Ainsley is reading right on target for kindergarten but has not taken off quite like we thought she would.  She is really exasperated with most leveled readers and I have to agree on most counts.  30+ pages of 3 and four sentence paragraphs is just too much for a beginner reader (having said that she does love this series).  She's bored with the Bob books and Dick and Jane but as far as I can tell the jump from those to Level 1 readers is pretty huge.  I scoured for true first readers and came across these and these.  Out of my price range by a long shot I requested ALL of them from the library and she read two easily and happily on her own yesterday.  She even brought a few to church this morning to read.  I had requested some months ago and she wasn't quite ready.  Now she's flying through them and I know we're on the right path.  That feels really good.
Louise is really picking up speed on the Bob books and loves the phonics books in particular.  She's started her own word book where she write words down that she doesn't know when she's reading.  She's really good at sounding things out and I hope to get her going with some sight words to help her feel more confident with reading.
Oh the summer reading fun we'll have.
I also request some Ubsborne activity/art books that have some great ideas.  I've felt a bit stagnant on that front.

I find as I work on things with the kids it brings to light things that I need to work on.  Patience, perseverance.  There are many things I that I want to be able to do, but don't because it feels too hard.  There are many times when I give up before I should.  Perhaps I'll make a little sticker chart right along with them.

Today has been just as good.  Church this morning, Indian buffet and Indian food induced naps.  Soon we head to friends for a BBQ.
We haven't gone to church consistently since the kids were born.  It was too hard to deal with the nursery for me.  I've always had a hard time leaving them.  Now they're bigger and it's time. For now we're going to our catholic church over the bridge.  It's funny that this non denominational Christian girl and ELCA Lutheran boy feel most at home at the Catholic church here. For me it's about so many things.  Right now it's trusting in something bigger than me that I can't fully understand, knowing that none of us are alone.  That's pretty big right now.

Tomorrow there's the parade (please don't rain!) and lots of family together time.  I can't believe Ainsley only has two weeks left of kindergarten.  There are so many fun things ahead.  I'm trying to let the excitement and joy fill me right up.

Happy Memorial Day weekend to you all!

Sunday, May 17, 2015


The weekend is half done.  I'm up early with my three while the rain rolls in.  I really love weekend mornings, coffee in hand, bedheaded rested snuggly children, the whole day ahead to make.  It's lovely.

Yesterday was a whirlwind of fun.  We had our first big garage sale morning of the season.  We were all showered and dressed and out the door by 8 and only barely made it home in time to hit the road at 10:15 for my grandma's 80th birthday lunch up north.

The girls each had three dollars to spend.  IT's a good lesson in money management for them when they want to spend it all at the first stop and then are devastated when they don't have enough for that perfect treasure at stop 3 or 4.

I'm always so excited and relieved when we find great things.  Keeping little ones clothed and entertained can feel burdensome at times when everything is so expensive.  To find shoes, sweaters, dresses, skirts, tops, puzzles, new games, adorable practical rolling luggage even, at such tremendous deals feels like a small blessing.

I am particularly excited about finding this princess and the pea game I've been pining after for years, a checkers set (how have we not played checkers yet as a family?), and a phil and ted's double stroller (for $30!) for my sister.  I am seriously jealous about that stroller.  It's the exact one I wanted as a practical around the town double stroller when the girls were little.  Lucky duck.

After so much garage sale fun, lunch up north with family, and a backyard dinner at a neighbors we are all pretty spent today.  Louise has a birthday party this morning at a fun indoor playground.  I'm taking Ainsley too and Felix and Ian are going to run an errand or two.  This afternoon I'm looking forward to sewing a bit.  I finished Ainsley's skirt after FINALLY figuring out the pockets, and Louises' is close behind.  I'm eager to get the girls some new nightgowns going and perhaps a new summer dress or two.  This 80 degree weather we're having is bringing to light the thin summer wardrobe these girls have going.
I've also been inspired by these adorable hanna andersson dresses.  I may have to go out at some point this week and get some inexpensive tank tops to make into dresses with fun skirts for them.  Maybe.

Oh and teacher gifts and and end of the year parties and splash pads and pools opening.  Lots and lots of fun coming up.  Best get this rest day in while we can!
 I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hump Day Nuggets

Poor Felix has a fever.  Our new deck is done! Louise's spring tea at preschool was the cutest.  My allergies may actually not kill me.  Life is good today (though of course I wish Felix felt better).

First popsicles of the season!

Morning pass outs are still a regular occurrence for this early riser.

Mother's Day love.

Nothing quite like chomping into a fresh muffin.


Oh my goodness my allergy eyes.  I was BRUISED. Seriously.

Louise's spring tea, in her classroom because it was a bit blustery that day.

My sweet three, watching some little bear together after school with their sick brother.

Breaking in the new deck.  It's already changed out lives.

Ainsley's sweater, simple lace chart, empire waist, flowy half sleeves.  Can I have one?

Books!  Finally found a great deal on a chinaberry book box (something I've been dreaming of for a while).  Vowing to only keep two for ourselves, the rest we'll hand out as gifts throughout the year.  Such a treat.

Gearing up for their sister sleepover this weekend.  The girls would like to sleep on their floor together, watch tons of movies, eat only popcorn and chocolate and this homemade lemon lime soda from Pretend Soup.  I love their excitement to be together.  They can be the best buds.

Today I'm so very grateful for our new deck and front rails.  It feels like a stretch right now to do it but I'm so glad we can.  I'm thankful I made dinner this morning so I can snuggle my little fevery guy tonight.  I'm excited to spend some quality time with my big guy tonight.  I feel like between allergies and backs hurting and life with kids we've hardly seen each other lately.
Happy Wednesday to you all!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Weekend and Food

The rain is pitter pattering away outside.  I heard a lot of grump about the weather at the grocery store this morning.  I for one love these steady spring rains.  Everything is so green and fresh smelling.  Love it.

We had a nice weekend, very quiet which I like every once in a while.  My allergies are still horrendous so I've not been going out much anyways.  On Mother's Day I slept until 8, woke up to Ainsley screaming 'HIDE EVERYONE!" then was bombarded with kisses and hugs and sweet gifts. Ainsley picked out a flower planter for me, Louise got me new gardening gloves.  Felix was quite happy to share the giant bag of Lindor chocolates they had chosen together.  The girls made me gifts at school.  Louise a bookmark on which she wrote LIITTTL HOS PRAIIE because we're currently finishing up Little House In the Big Woods.  What a sweetheart.  Ainsley made a little handprint bag which she insisted I use as a purse.  She's very proud of that.  The both made cards as well.

I got a run in in the morning which was lovely.  Then still sweaty I put on rain boots and we went to my new favorite local garden shop to get a few herb and veggie starts.  The afternoon was very low key.  I watched Escape to Witch Mountain with Ainsley while the rest of the house slept.  What a funny old movie from my childhood.

I finished Louise's summer sweater just yesterday and have Ainsley's yoke almost done.  They're going to have their first matching sweaters.  They are so excited.
I completed my first contracted sewing job.  That sounds more formal than it is.  It felt good to do something for someone else and helped reboot my sewing.  I am very excited to make the girls summer skirts with all the fun fabrics and vintage sheets I found last week at the resale shop.  They are in need of new summer nightgowns too.  I love sewing when it's necessary, almost more than when it's for fun.  It feels so good to be able to make the things that we need.

Our new deck is almost finished.  We've been able to use it over the weekend and I can't tell you what a difference it makes to have a safe space in our backyard to use.  Now I'm trying to think up a way to make some outdoor curtains to make it more useable in the afternoon sun.  I'm excited for the challenge.

My motivation for cooking has been very low lately.  It didn't help that I was spoiled with my favorite take out yesterday (Brazil cafe AND Boss Burrito).  Time to put my nose to the grindstone and get back to it.

Ian's spaghetti (per Louise's request), with the TJ's grass fed beef (so so good and in the freezer section for 5.99/lb!)

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole (a little taste of home, and I need to use up our Costco rotisserie)

Leftover Veggie Lasagna (sub cottage cheese for ricotta, I almost prefer it this way)

Baked Pork Chops and Rice (a nod to a dish my mom used to make in the skillet growing up, such a simple hearty homey meal)

Chili (Ian doesn't love beans in chili, but goll darn this weather calls for it! the cornbread with it may help)

Bacon wrapped chicken tenders with TJs instant potatoes and some veg yet undecided (very excited about this dish, sounds right up my family's alley)

I'm also going to make a batch of Morning Glory muffins this afternoon.  They sound really really good.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Spring Days

Ah Spring days.  I am so glad we live in a place with seasons.  The pull outdoors is so great this time of year.  Then the rainy days come and tuck us back into our space for a bit. I love it all.

Ainsley's been using my camera off and on.  I'm starting to include some of her photos here because truthfully she takes just as many pictures as I do these days.

Theis week we've been indoors more than I'd like.  Some from all of the rain and some from my allergies.  I'm really hoping this next batch of rain over the weekend will wash away the last of this new budding pollen.

I was feeling a bit better this morning so after Felix's and my music class we went to pick out our first flowers of the season, some inpatients to brighten up our shady front garden.  I'm excited to plant with the kids this afternoon.  It's a gorgeous day.
We still haven't planted our backyard gardens at all.  We're replacing our back deck and it should be done this weekend (after some delays from the rain, fingers crossed!).  I am so so excited for a brand new deck to use this summer.  We bought a 6' folding table and tablecloth from Costco this past weekend in anticipation of all the outdoor fun we're going to get to have.  It's very exciting.

Today is Louise's open house for kindergarten for next year.  She is SO excited and I am so thankful.  Ainsley can't wait to be the big kid showing her around (and tomorrow at school Ainsley's class is visiting the 1st graders.  She's very excited about that too!)

Last night was Ainsley's and my last pottery class.  She was too cute insisting on bringing her new hand sewn purse with to show our teacher.  She is so bold and funny and self assured.  I hope she always keeps that part of her.  I love it.
I am SO excited to see all of our fun things glazed and ready in a few weeks.  Ainsley is particularly proud of a ceramic girl she made, her very own plate, and teeny tiny cups.  I am excited for a little pourer I made for sauces and milk, a gravy boat, two new mugs and a cereal bowl.  Now lets hope the glazes turn out!

Well after picking Ainsley up we had to rush home because I got something in my eye and it started puffing up like crazy.  I'm so thankful Ian was able to come home so I could try to shower it out.  He's with the kids at the open house as we speak.  I told him to take pictures!  I'm sad I couldn't be there with Louise.

So new deck by the weekend,  mother's day coming up (where I at least know there will be good food and lots of snuggles), a mere two weeks of preschool left for Louise.  It's going to fly so fast.  I'm getting really excited for summer with my kids.  The school year goes so fast.  I'm ready to slow it down a bit.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Meal Plan Etc. 5/4

I just unpacked groceries for the week. I'd be super excited about how little I spent if it weren't for the gigantor Costco run I did on Friday.  It all evens out in the end!
This week is more of the same from last week.  We may end up going to get something to tide us over this weekend but I'm thinking we'll have enough to make it through!

Cottage Cheese bake and Fish with grilled zucchini
   never got around to making it last week

Veggie Lasagna
  I'm just going to through together.  Grated zucchini, carrot and finely chopped mushrooms sautéed with olive oil onions garlic and herbs, store-bought marinara, lasagna noodles, cottage cheese, cheddar and asiago mixture.  Should be good!

Steamed Potstickers and Broccoli
   A favorite quick meal, especially when dipped in soyaki

Hash and Eggs with Sautéed Spinach
   Sweet potatoes, and onions cooked low and slow until soft and caramelized, seasoned and topped with soft cooked eggs.  Another family favorite week night speciality.

Leftover Pizza Bake from Sunday was good!

I also bought ingredients to make our first popsicles of the season.  We're having nice warm weather this week and the kids love them for snack.  First up are smashed berry coconut pops.  I just smash up defrosted berries, mix with coconut milk and a bit of whole milk yogurt, add some lemon or lime zest, pop into molds and freeze.  They are so so good.

Ooh, and after making tuna melts for lunch yesterday we're reminded of our love of tuna and I bought butter lettuce for us to make tuna lettuce wraps.

Yay food!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Food! Again, always.

We have this running joke in my extended family.  When we're all together and breakfast has been eaten, well, of course that's the time to start talking about what we're having for lunch, dinner too if we're on top of things, perhaps even for the next day too.
Ok, so not so much a joke but a necessity I'm realizing when you're planning food for others.  It's just exhausting to keep thinking of what to have, especially when you ask for help and replies are as follows...
Felix: hot dogs!
Ian:  corn?  cauliflower?
Louise: pad thai!!!!!
Ainsley:  I don't know.

I'm slowing seeing my love of cooking being extinguished when put up against the daily grind, and I hate that!  Cooking is something I love but it's also something I HAVE to do.  Those two attributes can be hard to reconcile sometimes.

Last week I had another Eureka! moment with cooking.  I can still cook for fun, just not every day.  This last week I enjoyed making the perfect oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and actually got quick a kick out of the simple dinners I made.  It's ok to just be sustained sometimes right?  Gourment doesn't have it's place in my Tuesday night kitchen.

Most of my favorite recipes of late have come from More with Less.  I know I've mentioned it before but each time I cook something from this book I fall more in love.  It's all simple nutritious food, usually every ingredient can be found in my kitchen already.

Recently I've made the baked layer dish (carrots, onions, potatoes, ground beef tomatoes, seasonings), herb baked chicken with broccoli rice (chicken coated with lemon zest, juice, herbs then drenched in homemade mushroom sauce and baked until it falls apart...yummo!) homemade hamburger macaroni (an excellent way to use leftover homemade macaroni, and so good Ian and I shared it for lunches), and baked lentils with cheese (one of my favorites).
Up this week(end) are a cottage cheese and rice bake and a pizza bake.  I think we'll be all casserol-ed out when I'm done making it all, but I sure do love casseroles for their ease and leftovers.

This week I also remembered stuffed baked potatoes for a meal which are a favorite and great for a quick busy night dinner.  I just bake the potatoes at some point in the day, have cheese grated, broccoli steamed, and bacon fried.  Assemble individually at dinner time and whalla! food.

This week I'm looking forward to the beginning of the wind down for school and activities.  We're down to 3 things during the week after school. Louise has only three weeks left in her school year, Ainsley has five.  It'll be quite the transition from busy busy busy to long lazy days but I'm looking forward to lots of time with my kiddos and I'm thinking cooking together will be a great way to pass some time.