Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pumpkin Patch Weekend

Hey Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? On Saturday we had the long-awaited Peanuts Great Pumpkin Patch Express train ride. It's a 30-minute ride on an old-fashioned narrow-gauge train to/from the pumpkin patch area, which also includes a mini corn maze, hay rides, face painting, trick-or-treating, a bouncy castle, and guest appearances by Charlie Brown and Snoopy. There were a few difficult moments (aka meltdowns by both kids) but overall it was pretty fun.

The rest of the weekend included: naps, a trip to the library, church, and on Sunday afternoon our babysitter came over while Jonathan and I went out to Brew Pub & Kitchen for many appetizers.

Here's what's happening this coming week:


Mon: Italian Sausage & White Bean Cassoulet by Three Many Cooks [This is so good and so easy!]
Tue: Meatball sandwiches
Wed: Buffalo Chicken Chili by Slow-Cooker Gourmet
Thu: Leftovers
Fri: Pizza!


This entire month has been a disaster. I've gone running exactly four times so far in October and that is all. I will (absolutely, no excuses!) get back on track this week.


My only plan for this week is to get organized in all aspects of life. At work - To get my year-end projects organized. At home - To continue unpacking and organizing the new house. Swede's preschool is having a Fall Festival party on Friday, so that might be fun.

Do you have anything fun planned this week?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Catching Up

Hey Friends! I didn't plan to take a blogging break these past couple weeks but it turned out I needed a little time off to deal with all things packing-moving-unpacking-organizing-cleaning.

Hey Buster, Want to help me unpack these boxes?

Plus I was sick, and Abel was sick, and I've had two work trips to Denver this month plus a big work deadline. It has been really difficult and hectic and, honestly, I have not handled it very well. I have felt really overwhelmed at times and have unfortunately let slide many of my healthy habits. I am such a creature of habit and really need the comfort of my routine.

Thankfully I think everything is starting to calm down and we are getting settled in our new home. Here is the new living room. I love the stone fireplace wall (although I need to decorate the mantel) and the built-in shelving by the TV (which still needs to get mounted on the wall).

Swede has handled the move really well, for the most part, except that she has yet to nap at our new house. She was very excited and eager to help in her small way during the moving process. There have been a couple days when she has seemed a little edgy, but so have we all. It's a big transition!

What else is new? Abel has gone from taking a few hesitant steps between handholds to being a full-fledged walker in the course of a week. One week ago the furthest he'd walked independently was 5-6 steps at a time. Now he can stand up unassisted and toddle pretty much anywhere he wants to go. It's incredible! He is so thrilled about being able to walk.

Last night during my second work trip to Denver I was able to meet up with my friend Chesleigh to see Swan Lake at the ballet. It was so great to catch up with her and the ballet was incredible. The beauty and grace of the ballet combined with the incredible athleticism of the dancers is always a thrill to me. Swan Lake is one of my favorites too. This is the third time I've seen it.

I'm flying back home tonight and can't wait to see my little ones!

PS: This dress is from Primary and I think it's so cute!

Tomorrow morning we are going to do a Peanuts Great Pumpkin Patch Express train ride. Do you have any fun plans this weekend?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Reading Roundup - September 2016

My dear fellow book-lovers... I have some exciting news! One of my oldest and bestest friends, Megan Westfield, is having her first book published this month! It's called Lessons in Gravity. The main character, April Stephens, is doing an internship to finish up her UCLA film degree as an assistant for a documentary about rock-climbing, and of course she falls for the daredevil star Josh Knox.

I am so  impressed with the dedication and tenacity with which Megan has pursued her goal of becoming a published author. I'm sure most of us say we'd like to write a book, but she has been tirelessly working towards this goal for years. I read an early draft of this book during my maternity leave with Swede in 2013, and I'm super excited to read the final version coming out on October 23rd. All you NetGalley folks should check it out now!

OK, Moving on... Here's what I read in September:

1) The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. 3/5 stars. At age 65, with only the clothes on his back and "yachting shoes" on his feet, Harold Fry spontaneously embarks on a walk across England south to north to see a former colleague and friend who is dying of cancer. The book is the story of his journey as he meets many different people and reflects at length on the regrets of his past. Let's just say that I hope I have more fond memories at age 65 than Harold does.

2) The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown. 3/5 stars. This book goes back and forth between Madeleine in the present day (actually 1999 which I keep having to remind myself is almost 20 years ago!) and the journal that her grandmother Margie wrote during a summer in Paris in the 1920s. Both women are struggling with the lives they feel trapped into by the expectations of family and society. I enjoyed the chapters set in Paris, but I found it a little unrealistic that in this day and age you wouldn't realize there was another option than being a decorative society wife. Madeleine is so shocked to find out that there are people, living right in her town, with jobs! Imagine that.

3) A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock. 4/5 stars. This book has a similar theme. It's set at Vassar College in 1913 and in New York City in 1923. The main character, Vera Bellington, has the "perfect" life. She is the quintessential decorative society wife, living in an ivory tower apartment with her distant husband, going through the motions but feeling empty and unfulfilled. Enter a handsome and mysterious French artist who arrives to paint a mural in the elite apartment building's subterranean pool. I liked the characters more in this one than in The Light of Paris, and the conflict seemed more believable. 

4) Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. 4/5 stars. This is the coming-of-age story of thirteen-year-old Frank Drum during the summer of 1961, when death in many forms haunts the small Minnesota town where Frank lives with "his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother." I really enjoyed this one. It's a little slow-paced but in a good way, and reminded me a little bit of one of my all-time favorite books, Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger. [Which, by the way, is where Swede's nickname came from!]

That's all! Im linking up as usual with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books. What was the best book you read this month?

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Weekend & Week Ahead [Oct 9, 2016]

Hey Friends! Did you have a good weekend? I'm sorry to tell you that it was a bit of a struggle over here. Abel was sick which was difficult on everyone. We cancelled our babysitter for Saturday afternoon and I didn't run the half marathon I was signed up for on Sunday. [Although I might not have done it anyway since it was pouring rain all Sunday morning and I'm still recovering from being sick with a cold of my own all last week. Honestly I was glad that the decision was made for me.]

Nap time snuggles with a sick baby

Baked buttermilk doughnuts with vanilla glaze

There were still some nice moments scattered throughout. Swede was really fabulous all weekend. and we had so much fun together. We made doughnuts. [Full disclosure: Also a batch of chocolate chip cookies. It was not the healthiest weekend.] We watched the Peanuts movie. There was an extended and hilarious session of I'm-going-to-catch-and-tickle-you to Swede's great delight. Abel was feeling much better on Sunday, thankfully, so we had some fun playing peek-a-boo and taking a stroll with Gumball while Swede napped.

A happier healthier baby

Swede being fabulous

Here's what's happening this week:

I'm trying to keep it simple this week since our kitchen will be in various states of packing and unpacking these next two weeks.

Mon: Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese from How Sweet It is

Tue: Chicken Pot Pie Soup from Gimme Some Oven
Wed: Quesadillas
Thu: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
Fri: Pizza


I was so dedicated in September and I did three runs and three 21 Day Fix workouts every single week all month. So far October has not been quite as successful, by which I mean I ran six miles on October 1st and have done nothing since. [I was sick!] I'm planning to get back on schedule tomorrow.

We're closing on our new house on Tuesday! That is all.

I hope that October is treating you well! Are you doing anything fun this week?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Coffee Date #6

Hey Friends! Today I'm linking up with Kristen and Gretchen for What's New With You, and this time I actually do have some new and exciting things to share! So let's catch up, coffee date style, although instead of my usual latte I'll be having an herbal tea with lots of honey because I finally succumbed to the latest cold Swede brought home from preschool.

What's New With You

[Side note: I have zero photos that go with anything I'm talking about in this post so I'm going to pop in some recent favorites here and there as a break from my chatter.]

The big news that I want to share with you is that we bought a new house and are moving next week! [Have I started packing? Nope.] We've been looking for something new for about a year. Our current house is just not quite big enough for two kids and two home offices. The new house has one more bedroom (aka I get my own office instead of a corner of the living room!) as well as a more spacious kitchen. Another perk is that it's on a cul-de-sac so there will be much less traffic.

The new house in the same neighborhood that we're in now which I like because a) there are hiking trails right out the front door, and b) my parents are within walking distance, although the biggest downside to the new house is that they'll be a ten-minute walk away instead of the current five-minute walk. I know that's seems silly but it adds up when you're back and forth several times a day with the kids. I'm excited to share some photos once we've moved, and I'm feeling motivated to decorate (or attempt to decorate) in a semi-cute way.

Last month I read Growing Up Mindful: Essential Practices to Help Children, Teens, and Families Find Balance, Calm, and Resilience by Christopher Willard. It made a big impact on me and I've been making a serious effort to implement some of the strategies ever since. It's been more useful to my personal "mindfulness practice" so far because the kids are too young for most of the exercises, but I know that my example is one of the most important influences they'll ever have and I want it to be a good one!

Some of my biggest challenges to mindfulness are multi-tasking, thinking about what I'm going to do next instead of focusing on the present moment, and "checking out" with random internet scrolling on my phone. I know that October is going to be a busy and stressful month for me. Already this week I've been at my wit's end more than once. We're closing on the new house the same week as my last big work deadline of the year. Plus I'm going to Denver twice for work. And I do still want to do some fun family Halloween activities.

But I'm still going to try to keep the mindfulness focus. Here are a couple mantras I've been repeating to myself when I catch myself going over my to-do list in my head for the dozenth time: Right Here, Right Now, and You'll Get There When You Get There. Or I'll try to ground myself in the moment by focusing on what I can see and hear and feel (and taste and small, if applicable, but my cold has put those two senses out of commission right now).

Since what's new with me also includes what's new with the kids... Another exciting recent development is that Abel started walking! It's been a gradual process. He took his first steps a couple weeks ago right after his ten-month birthday, but then it was a couple days before he tried again. He's been cruising for a while, so now he'll do a couple steps on his own between handholds, but he won't launch out on his own unless I'm coaxing him to come to me. I can tell he's getting more and more confident every day, so it's only a matter of time until he's running circles around me.

I guess we're entering the dreaded "threenager" zone with Swede and she certainly has her moods and her bossy (aka tyrannical) tendencies, but overall I find her so very delightful. Imaginative play is in full force. It's so fun and funny to watch and see what's she'll come up with next. She is starting to play with Abel a little better (and vice versa). Today she invited him into her "kitchen" for a tea party which was very sweet.

That's all! What's new with you?

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fall Colors Weekend 2016

Hey Friends! We had a busy and (mostly) fun weekend. We celebrated the first day in October by making baked pumpkin spice doughnuts with maple glaze. [I used this mix from King Arthur Flour.]

And Abel tried out his Halloween outfit.

I also ran six miles on Saturday morning, and then in the afternoon Jonathan and I went to a fundraiser for Swede's preschool. It was fun to finally meet and chat with the parents of Swede's school friends. There was also a silent auction and I picked up a series of learn-to-quilt classes at a local sewing shop. I've always wanted to learn how to quilt so this seems like a good opportunity.

On Sunday we took our annual drive to Silverton to see the fall colors. It was gorgeous!

We went to a coffeeshop in Silverton for chai tea lattes and breakfast burritos and the kids were miraculously well-behaved. Abel did have some trouble settling down in the afternoon once we were home. I can't really blame him though; Babies like routine and this was a different day for him.

In the afternoon I made pretzel rolls. It's quite a project, but they are so delicious. We had some for dinner as barbecue pulled pork sliders. Homemade pretzels will always remind me of Swede because I made a batch while I was in (early) labor with her.

I also went on a nice little hike around the neighborhood with my mom and Abel and the dogs.

And... That was the weekend! Here's what happening this coming week:


Mon: Cider Cheese Soup from How Sweet It Is (with more pretzel rolls)

Tue: Chicken Tikka Masala. My super easy version is: Add chicken + a jar of prepared Tikki Masala sauce to the slow-cooker. Shred the chicken & add frozen peas in the last hour. Serve over rice.

Wed: Spanish Chickpea Stir-Fry from Real Simple
Thu: Nachos!
Fri: I'll be in Denver for work.


I'm planning to do a couple short runs and/or 21 Day Fix workouts then am taking Thursday-Saturday off before I run the Durango Double Half Marathon on Sunday. [The "Double" is a trail half marathon on Saturday and a road half marathon on Sunday - I'm only doing the road race.]


Mon: Board meeting for a new charter school opening in Durango next year.
Tue: The last appointment to finish up my root canal. Finally!
Wed: Haircut
Thu: Flying up to Denver for work on Thursday night and back again on Friday night.

That's all! Did you have a nice weekend? Are you doing anything fun this week?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Currently - September 2016

Happy Wednesday! It seems like this week is going by fast. Which has not been the case lately. Often in the past month or so I'll find myself absolutely sure it's Thursday on Tuesday, or Friday on Wednesday, but this week I feel like, Wow, It's already Wednesday! Time is a tricky beast.

Here's what I've been doing this past month of not knowing what day of the week it is...

Listening To: The album I've had on repeat lately (until I get so sick of it I won't be able to listen to it again for a year, because that's how I do music) is The Great Detachment by Wintersleep.

Watching: The new season of Brooklyn 99 and New Girl. Also I've been watching movies on Friday nights, most recently Notting Hill and The Proposal.

Reading: I picked up Ann Patchett's new book, Commonwealth, from the library today and am excited to get started. She's one of my favorite authors.

Feeling: A little anxious. And scatter-brained. I feel like I'm always trying to do five different things at the same time, and I'm always remembering something else that I can't forget to do. I need to focus on single-tasking. One thing at a time. Focus. Finish. Then, and only then, move on to the next thing.

Craving: To sleep all night long. This week has been especially difficult with multiple wake-ups each night because Abel is teething and Swede has a cold.

Wearing: Scarves! One thing I like about having short hair again is that my hair doesn't get tangled up when I'm wearing a scarf or a hoodie. I also love that when I add a scarf to jeans and a t-shirt it makes me feel instantly more put together. [Although remember that I work at home. In an extremely casual town. So the bar is low.]

Thinking about: Attempting to make Swede a penguin costume for Halloween. She decided that she wants to be a penguin but I can't find a single pre-made penguin costume that is remotely cute. I am not the craftiest person in the world, but I think I can manage to follow this tutorial. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Praying: To be more intentional about what I say, with a focus on being positive and encouraging.

Loving: Fall! The changing leaves are so beautiful and I love the crisp feeling in the air in the morning and evening. Plus the opportunity to wear scarves and sweaters and boots. And to make all my favorite soups and stews and pumpkin-flavored treats.

Not Loving: Fall. Specifically, as the harbinger of winter darkness. It's so hard to get up in the morning when it's still pitch dark. Daylight savings will help in the morning but then it's so dark in the evening. I'm contemplating the Illuminati Reflective Run Jacket from Title Nine for evening runs.

Looking forward to: I'll share more about this next week, but we are moving into a new house in October! I'm not looking forward to the actual packing and moving process, but I can't wait to be settled in our new home.

And that's all for today! I hope you have a lovely Wednesday.