Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Trip to Denver [October 2015]

I returned home today from my last trip to Denver before Baby #2 arrives! I'm always a little overwhelmed by the time I come home after being on-the-go every single minute while I was away. It's really great to see my friends and good to connect with work colleagues, but it's SO different from my usual quiet day-to-day introvert lifestyle!

I was supposed to catch an 8 am flight on Sunday morning and had made plans to go to the corn maze and lunch with Chesleigh and Laura, but found out on Saturday that that flight was cancelled! Gah! I managed [barely!] to get a seat on the 10:30 am flight instead - I was the last one on the plane! We had to skip the corn maze but managed to squeeze in lunch at Crema. I had a slice of quiche with a side salad, a fresh carrot-beet-ginger-apple juice, and a cookie.

Yum!

The lovely Chesleigh!

And the lovely Laura!

After lunch I drove out to Breckenridge to meet a group of work people for a manager retreat & training. We stayed at the Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center, which was nice, but it was a little disappointing to go all the way to Breckenridge and not ever leave the hotel!

Not complaining about the fancy hotel suite though!

On Sunday night there was dinner and a team-building activity. <-- Cake decorating, and I'm too embarrassed to show you a photo of my team's pathetic contribution! All day Monday we had various meetings and trainings, and then I drove back to Denver Monday night. I made a quick stop at Target to pick up new pajamas for Swede, and for dinner at Chick-Fil-A [one of my favorite Denver treats], and then checked into my Denver hotel.

When in doubt... PENGUINS!

I worked from the "real" office on Tuesday - Lots more meetings with co-workers and clients. After work I went to my friend Tyffani's house to meet her adorable baby boy Elliott! He was 2 months old last Friday. Meeting him made me really excited to meet my own little boy in [approximately] 7 weeks!

He wasn't QUITE as excited to meet me...

What is more precious than a sleeping baby face?!

Elliott accompanied us to dinner with Ashley and Jenny at Village Cork, a cozy little wine bar and restaurant. I couldn't believe how quiet and calm Elliott was at the restaurant! We "split" a warm brie & roasted garlic appetizer that was delicious, and I had a roast chicken & root vegetable entree.

 I may have had more than my fair share of the brie...

On Wednesday I worked in the morning and caught an early afternoon flight home. I've been opting out of the body scanner in security while pregnant, and last time I flew home it took so long that I almost missed my flight! This time I gave myself plenty of time and ended up breezing through in 20 minutes, so I had enough extra time to sit down for lunch [and a mocktail] at Root Down.

Cucumber Fizz!

I'm so glad to be home and reunited with my loved ones! This is the first time I've gotten home from a trip early enough to see Swede before bedtime, and she was really excited to see me, which was lovely. So many hugs! And Gumball has been glued to my side the entire time as I write this.

It feels like it should be the weekend already but there's two more days to go!!! I have the day off tomorrow though and am taking Swede to a Halloween party at her preschool.

Hope your week is going well!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Saturday Snapshots

Woke up before the kiddo for quiet time with a latte and a new book.


Breakfast = Waffle Party!


At the park with my mom and Swede:


Playing in the back yard:


During nap time I organized and packed for my trip to Denver tomorrow.


Loving this new "Leaves" candle from Bath & Body Works:


Family hike after dinner:


Hope you're having a great weekend!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Weeknight Dinner #3 [Ravioli with Spinach & Mushrooms]

This is the only recipe I have ever made up by myself, and that's only because I've strayed so far from the original recipe that no one would recognize them as remotely similar. My cooking methods are very... relaxed, to say the least, but I made an attempt to write down measurements when I made this last night so I could share with you. I think the key to this recipe being good is to use high-quality sherry. And lots of Parmesan cheese.


This is what you need:

1 package ravioli [Whatever is your favorite kind]
2-4 T butter
Mushrooms [About 2 cups, sliced]
2 T flour
1 c sherry
1/2 c cream [or half and half]
1/2 c chicken/vegetable broth
Spinach [I use an entire 16 oz bag of pre-washed baby spinach]
Parmesan cheese [About 1/2 c grated to add to the sauce, and more to sprinkle on top]

And this is what you do:

First, get the water boiling to cook the ravioli. Then melt the butter in a large skillet and sauté the mushrooms until they are really done. Sprinkle the flour over the top then add the sherry, cream, and broth. Let that burble away and thicken up for about 5 minutes, then add the spinach one handful at a time and stir until it's all wilted in. Add the Parmesan cheese, and once that has melted, I add the cooked ravioli. You could just top the ravioli with the sauce but I like everything to be really well combined. I've also used this sauce as a topping for plain pasta, toast, and baked potatoes.

Question: Do you follow recipes exactly or do you ever just throw in a little of this and a little of that? Jonathan is a stickler! He even gets out a hand mixer to make cookies, because "that's what the recipe says to do!" Whereas I'm in the just-mix-it-really-well-by-hand camp.

Happy Weekend, Friends!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Five Favorites - October 2015

1) Swede is talking!!! Over the past six months it's been a source of on-and-off concern that she's a little "behind" the traditional milestones for language acquisition. She's right on track for everything else, and she understands everything we say, but she hasn't said much until recently. I really think all kids develop in their own way and time, so have hesitated to pursue speech therapy, but it's been really fun (and frankly, a big relief) that she has become a serious chatterbox this month.

Now she can say "truck" instead of just pointing at them!

2) I bought this Earth Therapeutics Pedicure Kit and have been using it a couple times a week this month. It's becoming increasingly awkward to reach my feet, but I'm going to keep it up as long as I can! I also love the Earth Therapeutics Liquid Pajamas lotion for my hands before bed. It's so silky and smells wonderful.

3) All the cozy clothes. Seriously, I cannot resist anything fleece-lined! Some current favorites:
     - This Cozy Hoody from Boden in dusty pink. I considered the leopard print but realized I'll probably be wearing this in 90% of photos taken of me with Baby #2 this winter, so maybe a neutral would be better.
     - These Black Woolen Classic Toms lined with faux-shearling.
     - This Fleece-Lined Flannel Shirt from L.L. Bean. It's a little boxy (especially so while pregnant) but really soft and warm.

4) Crock-Pot meals. As the weather changes I'm putting more and more soups and stews on the menu, and using the Crock-Pot sure makes it easier!

[Fun fact: I got my Crock-Pot in a trade with my friend Ashley for a hair dryer. She had an extra Crock-Pot and I had a pixie cut at the time so didn't need the hair dryer. I did end up buying a new hair dryer later on, but still... A pretty good deal!]

Here are a few of my favorite Crock-Pot recipes:
     - Mexican Chicken Soup
     - Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Pasta from Crock-Pot Gourmet
     - Lasagna Soup from Family Fresh Meals. (Thanks for this one Lindsey!)
     - Beef stew - I just use the basic recipe off a packet of beef stew seasoning.
     - Chicken and Pinto Bean Burritos from Bev Cooks.
     - Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup, and Short Rib Hash from Seriously Delish. The hash is not the quickest meal, but it's so delicious. You only do the short ribs in the Crock-Pot, then add to a potato, onion, and green bell pepper hash and top with fried/poached eggs.

Short Rib Hash... My new favorite breakfast for dinner!

5) I'm going through an old movie phase. I think reading Love Walked In which references several old movies [mostly starring Cary Grant] made me want to watch them again. Lately I've watched Charade, The Philadelphia Story, Roman Holiday, and Rear Window. Do you like classic movies? What's your favorite? Mine is It Happened One Night.

Happy October! What are you loving this month? Can you believe there isn't anything pumpkin spice on this list?!?!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Weekend [Oct 17-18, 2015]

Another quiet weekend in this neck of the woods!

Saturday: 

We met up with Jonathan's parents in the morning for a photo shoot and then lunch. Neither activity was particularly successful due to Swede being a "grumpus." <-- Technical term.  I really hope SOME of the photos turned out. We should have them in a week or so. Fingers crossed! 

Swede did take a decent nap on Saturday afternoon during which time I finished After You by Jojo Moyes. I gave it 3/5 stars. Maybe closer to 3.5 stars. I liked it better than Me Before You, which I know not many people will say. I don't feel like I can talk about the plot much without giving things away. Suffice to say that Louisa's life is not all sunshine and roses after Will's death, but I liked the new characters introduced, and the scene is set for a third installment which I hope is in progress!

The rest of Saturday we mooched around the house with Swede, who was thankfully in a better mood post-nap. I kept waffling between trying to embrace the "do-nothing moments" per Hands Free Mama, and being a little bored.

The big success of the weekend was getting Swede to consent to a ponytail.


Sunday:

The day started early with going to church at 8 am. We were a little rushed getting out the door on time. I think I prefer a slower start to the day on weekends. [Preferably one that involves a fancy breakfast!]

Then we set out in search of puddles since it rained ALL last night.


I started Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid during nap time. It's light and quick and very Sliding Doors.

Swede and I went to the Powerhouse Science Center with my mom in the afternoon. Do you have a children's science museum nearby? I'd like to take Swede to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science someday. Maybe next summer.

Now it's time to finish up the day with Brooklyn 99 and some ice cream! <--Currently into Tillamook Mudslide, Yum.

How was your weekend???

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hands Free Mama

This month I've been slowly making my way through Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford. (A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp what Really Matters!)

Wait... BURN the to-do list???
 
She suggests reading this book over the course of a year, one chapter per month. I'm probably getting through one chapter per week, but that's still much slower than the all-in-race-to-the-finish approach I have towards most books. But I think the slower approach is helpful to let the ideas sink in. Basically the gist of the book is about being present and focusing on what's important in life.

I want to make memories AND to-do lists!

Speaking of my to-do list, I really don't think I can abandon it altogether. These things do need to get done! But sometimes I notice it scrolling through my head. I'll find myself thinking, "After THIS, I'll do THAT, then THAT," . It drives me crazy. I call that feeling "The Tyranny of the To-Do List." The to-do list, as Gretchen Rubin would say, is a good servant but a bad master.

The first chapter is about Awareness. This chapter caused me to notice how often I pick up my phone and check my email, Facebook, Instagram, etc. It has become a mindless habit. To that end I downloaded a new app called Moment that tracks how much I'm using my phone. All it tracks (for free) is how many minutes per day, and how many "pick-ups." My goal is <30 minutes per day, and <10 pick-ups. But even that is subject to interpretation. I don't want to stop sending text messages or taking photos. But I do want to change this idle habit of checking social media anytime there's a 10-second pause in life. I can't wait in line at the grocery store, at a red light, without a phone to distract me? I can't be alone with my thoughts for 5 minutes? I'm not against social media. I've just started this blog after all! But I don't want it to take over. I want to use the Internet to connect, not to distract. Here's a snapshot of a few days my first week using the app.

October 11... Yikes! I think this involved lots of photo taking though.

The next few chapters are on Connection, Deliberateness, and Presentness. To be more present has been on my New Year's Resolution list for years. Some days I do better than others. Much of this book is about putting down your phone and doing the chores later to focus on being present with your family. And I agree... To an extent.

I think Swede and I spend a good deal of time together in which I'm present, focused, and engaged with her. Sometimes I think it's even too much time! I think she needs to learn how to play by herself, how to handle boredom. She needs to be frustrated, and fail, and keep trying, and figure it out on her own. I think those are valuable skills that she won't learn if I'm there every single second.

Legos are the most successful "independent play" activity.

I think it's good for Swede to NOT be the center of attention 24/7, to understand that sometimes the chores DO need to get done, that Mom and Dad work hard at their jobs to provide for our family, which sometimes means we need to send one more email before it's playtime.
 
There's a story in the Deliberateness chapter about how the author chose to go swimming with her daughters instead of taking the morning to herself to read and nap, and how glad she is that she didn't miss that precious time with her family. I'm not saying I'm not in favor of family bonding. BUT I also think it's important to have some alone time. I know my night off from the bedtime routine with Swede when I go to yoga makes me a better mom the other nights.

Practicing for an upcoming birthday...

I think the key (for me at least!) is to find the right balance. Between spending time with family, and spending time by myself. Between playing, talking, reading, laughing with Swede, and giving her space to explore the world on her own. But overall, no matter what I'm doing, I want to be present and engaged in that moment, rather than thinking about what else I could/should be doing, or what's next on the to-do list.

Do you ever get overly distracted by your phone or your to-do list? Do you ever struggle to be present? Do you have any strategies or techniques that help you to focus on the moment?
 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Day in the Life

I've been meaning to do a day-in-the-life post for a while, but I keep forgetting to start keeping track right away. I think it's fascinating to see exactly how we spend our days, and interesting how things change over time. I know that in six months an average day in my life will look completely different.

Have you read 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam? She suggests tracking your days in 15 minute increments for a while as a way to find pockets of time that you could be utilizing more efficiently. I know this is true with me sometimes when the time between Swede's bedtime and my bedtime seems to fritter away without anything getting done.

This is what my life looked like on Thursday, October 8, 2015. Swede is almost 23 months old, and I'm 30 weeks, 3 days pregnant with Baby #2.

6 am: Alarm goes off. Snug with GB instead of getting up right away.
6:15 am: Shower. Get dressed. (Today calls for leggings and an oversized sweatshirt).
6:30 am: Make a latte for myself and wash some berries to mix with yogurt for Swede's Breakfast #1.


6:45 am: Jonathan brings Swede downstairs. She's been awake, singing and playing in her crib, for about 15 minutes. We like to give her a little time to wake up on her own. Breakfast and playtime.
7:30 am: I blow-dry my hair and Swede plays "hide-and-seek" with her stuffed animal friends by stuffing them in the bathroom cabinets.
7:45 am: Getting-dressed time with Swede. This is a bit of a struggle. She never wants to get dressed and I end up chasing a half-naked toddler all over the house.
8 am: We take a leisurely stroll over to my parents' house, stopping to investigate various rocks and sticks along the way. I chat with my mom while Swede eats Breakfast #2 (Oatmeal).
8:30 am: Walk back home and get started working.
10 am: Snack/Late breakfast = Banana with peanut butter and raisins.
12 pm: Lunch = Leftover Tater Tot Casserole from dinner on Wednesday. (Thanks Leigh!)
2:30 pm: Snack = Apple with cheddar cheese and some Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness juice.


3:30 pm: Walk over to pick Swede up. Another leisurely walk home, then playtime.
4:30 pm: Jonathan is done with work and he plays with Swede while I make dinner. We have the butternut squash soup with cinnamon toast croutons from my October Wish List - Delicious!
5:15 pm: Dinnertime! We eat absurdly early, I know.
5:30 pm: Family hike around the neighborhood.


6:00 pm: Bathtime for Swede. She likes to splash around and play with her bathtime friends for ages.
6:30 pm: Swede has gotten so much better at brushing her teeth lately! But putting on her diaper and pajamas is still an ordeal.
6:45 pm: Storytime with Swede.
7:15 pm: I put Swede in her crib where she babbles to herself and rearranges her stuffed animal friends a dozen times before falling asleep at 7:35. I fold a pile of laundry that Gumball has been sleeping on all day... Dog hair is the perfect accessory, Right?


7:30 pm: I have some ice cream and read Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. This is a sequel to Love Walked In, which I really liked, and am enjoying this one so far as well.
8:15 pm: Piano time! I'm working my way through a book of easy Christmas carols. My goal is to play for 15-20 minutes every day but it usually only happens 2-3 times per week. What's your favorite Christmas carol? Mine is "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
8:30 pm: Chat with Jonathan. Get ready for bed - Brush/floss teeth and wash face.
9:00 pm: Reading in bed.
9:45 pm: Lights out!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Weekend [Oct 10-11, 2015]

I thought about not writing this post. This weekend was pretty uneventful, and at times, it was pretty not-great-at-all. But I promised myself when I started this blog that I would be honest and real. [Although am I being honest and real here, or just boring?]

Saturday: [This is the uneventful day.] Swede and I made pancakes for breakfast - She is excellent at stirring the batter. We mooched around all morning. Played this and that with Swede. Went on a family hike around the neighborhood. Visited with my parents. During nap time I reorganized my closet and then read on the patio in the sunshine for a glorious hour. We ran some errands [the pet store, the "fancy" grocery store] in the afternoon. Had pizza for dinner. Jonathan and I watched Charade after Swede went to bed. It was a nice day.

I love holding hands. [Swede is pointing at a bulldozer.]

Sunday: [This is the not-great-at-all day.] I didn't think I slept badly last night but I woke up feeling so impossibly tired and unable to handle anything. We went to church and every time I closed my eyes to pray I thought, "Maybe I'll just fall asleep right here." Being so tired made me be in a rotten mood. And then Swede didn't take a nap. So I didn't get anything done that I had planned to do while she was sleeping, which made me even more grumpy. Ugh. I managed to rally somewhat in the afternoon. We made cookies and had Thai takeout for dinner, and I finished reading Belong to Me after Swede's early bedtime. It doesn't sound like a terrible day, and it wasn't, but I was certainly in a terrible mood for most of it.


This week I'm looking forward to: 1) Going to yoga on Tuesday. I skipped last week because I felt depleted after the glucose test. 2) Getting through a deadline at work. 3) Being in a better mood than I was today!

How was your weekend? What are you looking forward to this week?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thoughts on being pregnant - 30 Weeks

I'm writing this post during my three-hour glucose test, which could make or break how I feel about the remainder of this pregnancy. It wouldn't be the end of the world if I have gestational diabetes, but who isn't in favor of LESS complications. [Update on Thursday as I finish this post: I passed! Huzzah! I might have done a little too well. When my doctor called to give me the results she said, Please don't ever go that long without eating for the rest of your pregnancy, because your blood sugar was REALLY low by the end." I think failing the one-hour test was a fluke.]

The big 3-0

So... 30 Weeks! This seems like a milestone. I'm 3/4th of the way through this pregnancy. Ten weeks doesn't seem like that much time. I have yet to do anything from the Countdown to Baby #2 to-do list. Wait, That's not true. I did buy Christmas pajamas, which is the least pressing matter. And I've started mentioning the new baby to Swede more often.

Big sister skills in action!

In my last pregnancy update at 25 weeks I think I was still adjusting to being pregnant. Apparently it took me over half the pregnancy to accept that it's really happening! I was so focused on the limitations - What I couldn't eat, What I couldn't do physically. But in the past five weeks it's become the new normal. Also, I think it's harder to be pregnant when you don't look pregnant. I've finally reached the point where I'm obviously pregnant, rather than watching people look at my stomach with an is-she-or-isn't-she expression. And I love feeling the baby kick and move around. That is my favorite part of pregnancy.

I've been enjoying my weekly prenatal yoga class. I do miss the rinsed-out feeling a good hot Vinyasa class gives you, but it's nice to stretch and be calm and to chat with the other pregnant ladies. Otherwise for exercise we've been doing a family hike around the neighborhood almost every day. Until this week, at least, since the trails are too muddy after several rainy days.

Rainy days do have some compensation.
 
Sleeping... Has started to suffer a little. Some nights are better than others. I always get up at least once, usually twice, to go to the bathroom, but usually can fall back asleep easily enough. Sometimes I'm more restless. I can feel myself lying there not asleep but not-quite-awake either. I've only been awake enough (and hungry enough) twice to actually get out of bed for a bowl of Cheerios and to read for a while, which was an every-night occurrence the last trimester with Swede.

My maternity wardrobe is pretty slim. I have one pair or cropped jeans (which I noticed yesterday have a hole) and one pair of normal jeans, and three maternity-specific tops, and a few non-maternity tops that are loose enough to still work. (Still loving this tunic from Garnet Hill in the photo above). Mostly I live in these Aster Cropped Pants from Eddie Bauer or these Maternity Metro Leggings from Athleta, plus a stretchy tank top and a loose sweatshirt or fleece. The best perk about working from home is the relaxed dress code!

I think what I'm most curious about is how Swede and Baby #2 will be similar and different. Will they reach milestones at the same time? Will they sleep the same? (Probably not, because Swede is a great sleeper and I doubt I'll be so lucky twice). Will they look alike? I am so SO looking forward to seeing his little face.

I can't get enough Baby Swede photos these days!

I guess that's about all I have to say for now... I'll check back in at 35 Weeks!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October Wish List

Time seems to be going by so fast! It seems like every time I turn around I'm writing a weekend recap or thinking about a new monthly favorites post.

These are a few things that might become favorites down the road but for now I'm just eyeing them longingly.

1) These Black Woolen Women's Classic Toms - They are lined with (faux) shearling and look so cozy. Can't ever have enough cozy.

2) I'd really like some new fall candles. I am so cheap when it comes to buying candles. Why are they so expensive? But they do last a long time and really contribute to the house feeling homey and festive. I think these Mason jar Pumpkin Spice candles are really cute. What's your favorite fall candle scent? Sweater Weather sounds intriguing.

 
3) Butternut squash soup is such a classic fall meal. The photo above is from Seriously Delish (of course) and has CINNAMON TOAST CROUTONS! If that's not genius I don't know what. This Smoked Gruyere Butternut Squash Soup with Spicy Chickpeas also looks good. Apparently the key to delicious soup for me is adding a fun garnish.
 
4) This Phoenix Sweater from Title Nine is so bright and fun and whimsical. It's won't fit me now, obviously, but that doesn't stop me from ogling it at least once a day.
 
What are you craving this fall?
 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pumpkin Patch Weekend

We started the weekend with homemade eggs Benedict for breakfast on Saturday morning. The Hollandaise sauce was from a packet - I'm no Martha Stewart - but it was still delicious, and fun to do something "fancy." After breakfast, Swede and I made our weekly visit to the library to replenish the bedtime story supply.

The big family outing this weekend is that we went to the pumpkin patch! It was a really beautiful day. Swede enjoyed playing on the little train, and pointing at the tractor every time it came nearby, and making friends with the scarecrow. We picked out a nice little pumpkin that we might try to carve next weekend.

Choo Choo!

She gave the scarecrow a hug.

During nap time I did laundry and read. I finished The Martian. It was good but not great. I gave it 3 stars on GoodReads = Average. I am really looking forward to seeing the movie though. It's not often the case but I think the movie will be better than the book. The main character is very likable, and the tension is high until the very end, but it was very scientific. I had to give myself permission to not understand every single detail.

We went on a family hike around the neighborhood after dinner. For a while Swede wanted to hike on her own but she's been loving the Osprey backpack again lately.

Hiking buddies :-)

On Sunday we met Jonathan's parents for breakfast at El Moro. I had a classic English Muffin sandwich with a fried egg and ham.

Yum.

During nap time I put together The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Spaghetti. The recipe seemed really big so I only made half, but I realize now I should have made it all and put half in the freezer for later. That is the only way I'll ever be able to stock up some extra meals for when Baby #2 arrives!

When Swede woke up we went to see the big construction equipment where they are building new houses at the end of our road. It was a big hit! Then we came home and read B is for Bulldozer another few (dozen) times.

Steamroller Swede!

Upcoming this week: I have the three-hour glucose test for gestational diabetes on Tuesday. Besides the obvious inconvenience of taking the whole morning off work to sit at the doctor's office and have my blood drawn three times... I really really REALLY don't want to have gestational diabetes. Wish me luck!

Did you have a nice weekend? Anything fun going on this week?