Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Five Favorites - July 2016

This month I decided to switch up my standard 'Favorites' post and show you one current favorite from each member of the family instead of all my personal favorites.

1) Let's start with Swede: She has really been enjoying the Highlights High Five magazine. We gotten four issues so far (and getting a new one in the mail is SO exciting) and have been reading the stories together over and over, plus she's getting more into the puzzles every month. She likes the 'Hidden Pictures' puzzle the best.

2) Abel's favorite thing is whatever Swede is playing with at that moment, which can be difficult at times, but another thing he loves is a small blankie with ribbons sewn in the sides (similar to a Taggie, but his was homemade by my friend Kelly in Florida). He loves snuggling with this in his crib. We gave Swede a similar blankie at about the same age and it's still her #1 most precious and essential comfort object.

3) Recently I've been reminded that Jonathan is a somewhat elusive figure on the blog. He's not a huge fan of having his photo taken, but he was a good sport and let me snap this one of his two favorite things this month: A new 49ers t-shirt (also available in the team of your choice, because I know everyone, including myself, is not a 49ers fan) and Astronomy magazine.

4) My turn! On my last trip to Denver I realized that all my work clothes are from three years ago when I still worked in the office before Swede was born. Now that I'm (almost) back to my normal size, I decided it was time for something new. I bought a Sleeveless Ponte Sheath Dress and Point Toe Pump Shoes from Lands' End, both of which were on super sale and I had a gift card = Free! (The cardigan in the photo is a Boden Cashmere Crop Cardigan), which was also on super sale when I bought it... I'm trying to be more judicious about not buying things at full price).

5) Don't forget Gumball! Her favorite thing is a daily rawhide chew stick.

In other news, my birthday is next Tuesday and I have a super fun lineup of weekend festivities ahead to celebrate - I'll be back to tell you all about it next week!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Super Duper Weekend

Hey Friends! Did you have a nice weekend? We had a busy & fun weekend with our friends Tyffani and Bryn and their baby Elliott who came to visit from Denver.

On Friday before they arrived, however, I took the kids to the library and survived Swede's first full-scale public tantrum. That was not super duper. After she was settled down for a nap at home though we went out for a hike with the babies and the dogs.

Elliott is almost one year old! He turned eleven months old this weekend. He is a super cute little guy.

It was really fun watching all the kids play together all weekend long! Swede and Abel were both really excited to have a new little friend.

And a new big friend! This very large, very sweet and gentle dog is named Bandersnatch. Tyffani gave Swede a mini stuffed Bernese Mountain Dog (also named Bandersnatch) for her first birthday. She was so excited to meet the real-life dog.

I am looking forward to taking this photo for many years to come! Hopefully my kids will also be smiling in the future.

On Saturday we went for a bike ride on the river trail. Swede had a really fun time despite the scowl on her face in this photo. I wish that I'd been able to go biking more with her this summer.

Jonathan and I have a regular babysitter for Saturday afternoons now. (Best decision ever). So we left our kids at home went out to dinner at Steamworks. Elliott is a very well-behaved restaurant baby.

On Saturday night we watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and had wine and ice cream.

We tried to do another short hike on the neighborhood trails on Sunday morning. Swede came along though which wasn't the best idea since a) she walks very slow and then b) insists on being carried after a quarter mile. I had brought the hiking backpack for when she got tired but she wouldn't climb in so we turned back early.

Our mutual friends from Denver, Ashley and Nate, also happened to be in the area for Nate's family reunion, so they stopped by our house for brunch on the way back to Denver. I made Baked Blueberry French Toast from The Big Book of Breakfast with chicken & maple sausage and orange juice. Completely forgot to take any photos but it was good!

Tyf and Bryn and Elliott went to explore Durango on their own Sunday afternoon and then we reunited for dinner with the kids, and then drinks after the kids were all in bed.

It's so much fun to have family friends where everyone (including husbands and kids and dogs) gets along so well. It makes me sad that we live so far away from each other, but I'm looking forward to many visits back and forth in the future!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Swedeisms [Vol. 1]

I was hoping to be able to share some photos today from our family photo shoot last weekend but they aren't ready yet. I really hope a few of them turned out because the kids were in spectacularly bad moods. Especially Abel. Normally the jolliest baby ever but I couldn't manage to coax a single smile from him all morning.

Here are some funny things that Swede has said recently instead:

1) Umbrella = Rainbrella. It's actually a more accurate term!

2) When we're eating she'll say that she's putting her food in her belly button. When she's full she'll say: "I'm too full in my belly button."

3) Her favorite song, while driving places in the car, is to sing about the trucks that we see: "Trash Truck, Trash Truck, Rolling down the road." Other verses: Fire Truck. Coca-Cola Truck. City Bus. Pig Van. Pickle Car. OK - Maybe those last two are from Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go.

4) We watched Robin Hood a couple weeks ago, over the course of several days. Today we were looking at a book with all different types of birds in it and she started calling the robins "Robin Hood birds."

Stretching out our shoulders after Upper Fix

5) She has recently learned the words "actually" and "totally." It's so cute.  "This box is totally empty, Mommy!" (PS: I've always sworn I would be Mom, not Mommy, yet here I am Mommy, and I don't mind at all).

6) She still calls her bathing suit a "swimming costume" per Peppa and we all say "on holiday" to refer to vacation now. She also says either "eye-ther" instead of "ee-ther" which is how I say it.

Dance Party Swede-Style!

7) She appears to think the game of tennis (which she is pretty fuzzy on the rules of, but hey, she's only two) is called "tennis rackets." She also likes to "play yoga."

8) Every night at bedtime I say "I love you with all my heart." (Which is what my mom used to say to me before bed). Just a couple weeks ago she started saying it back to me. And just as I'm walking about the door she'll say, "One more kiss and one more hug?" How can I resist?!?

I've said it before and I'll say it again... Two years old is such a fun age. (Tantrums aside). Swede learning to talk has been the most fun thing ever!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dream Vacations [in the U.S.]

I know there are plenty of families with young children who take big vacations. Or any vacations. I am not those people. I feel that the stress of traveling with Swede and Abel right now would not make up for the fun of going somewhere new. So we've stayed close to home this year. But I am looking forward to doing family vacations in the future. Here are some places I'd like to go:

1) One of my favorite places in the world is La Jolla Shores. I grew up going to the beach there and after my family moved away we started a (mostly) annual pilgrimage back for a week in August. I haven't been since 2013 though when I was pregnant with Swede. I am excited to start going with the kids next summer!

2) I'd love to visit Zion & Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands. These are all in southern Utah pretty close to where we live now (within a day's drive or less) so I don't have any excuse, but I'd like to wait until the kids are old enough to do short hikes on their own. And I'm ambitious that we might start camping together in a few years too.

3) I'm also really looking forward to taking the kids to Disneyland or Disney World. Growing up in Southern California, I'd go to Disneyland with my family a few times a year and have so many fond memories of our trips there. I got to know Disney World when I lived in Orlando in 2004-2007 and I think that's where we'll start with the kids in a few more years.

4) I lived in Washington during high school and college but haven't been back since graduation. I think it would be fun to do a backpacking trip on the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainer (93 miles) and then spend a day in the quaint Bavarian town of Leavenworth and a few days in Seattle. This would be a kids-free vacation... Or we'd do it in 20 years when they are capable of backpacking 93 miles.

5) I visited Savannah in 2012 to run the Savannah Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon with some of my friends from Florida. I'd love to go back and also to visit Charleston. This might be a nice getaway vacation for Jonathan and me someday.

Some other ideas: I'd like to visit Chicago. I'd like to go to colonial Williamsburg. I think a dude ranch would be fun once Swede reaches the obsessed-with-horses phase. I'd like to hike the Grand Canyon. I'd like to rent a cabin on a lake somewhere and not leave for a week.

Is it weird that 4 out of 5 of the major vacation destinations listed above are places I've already been? I like the idea of introducing the kids to some of my favorite places. And also sometimes I find traveling to new places a little stressful and prefer the ease of the familiar (but not TOO familiar that it's boring). Would you rather always go somewhere new on vacation or do you have any favorite destinations?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Momfessions [Part 1]

Helloooooo! I am at home with the kids this week while my parents are on vacation and it's gotten me  thinking about how the SAHM lifestyle is not for me, so I thought I'd borrow Melissa's idea and share some other parenting-related confessions. [Plus some recent cute photos of the kids!]

Can't say the kid doesn't know how to strike a pose

1) I can't stand Dr. Suess. We bought a boxed set of five Dr. Suess classics (Cat in the Hat, Sam I Am, etc) for Swede's first birthday. It had been years since I'd read any of them though and it turns out I am not a fan. At all. The tounge-twisters. The repetition. The made-up words. I don't even like the drawings. Luckily Swede doesn't like them either!

Swede and her "very own baby Mabel"

2) Abel is at the height of his squishy adorable baby chubkin stage which I absolutely love. But... Sometimes he's a little boring! His tricks are: smiling, giggling, babbling, crawling around, and chewing on everything. All of which I love. OK - Maybe not the chewing on everything. But I do also love being able to play a game, read a story, and have a conversation with Swede. I'm so curious to know what Abel will be like once he becomes a little person capable of verbal communication.

Me... Boring?!?! Sorry, Buster, I take it back.

3) Fact: I have thrown away three blow-out onesies rather than clean them. In my defense, these were serious blow-outs. And all of them Abel had almost grown out of or were hand-me-downs from Swede that had seen plenty of use.

"Babies don't have any teeth!"

4) I think Parents magazine is depressing. I got a free subscription somehow, but every time when I look through a new issue I'm struck by everything that I'm doing wrong as a parent. Here's five new things that I didn't know I should be worrying about. Here's a cute craft project or healthy recipe I'm not going to try. You get the idea.

Favorite food: Banana

5) Phantom crying is so real. Everything sounds like a baby crying! Is this going to last forever? Will there ever be a day in my future in which I hear the wind in the trees or a random refrigerator hum and don't jump up and sharply say, "Was that the baby?"?

Not sure what she's so perturbed about here...

6) Abel's current nighttime schedule is that he wakes up between 4-5 in the morning for a bottle then goes back to sleep for another two hours until 6-7 am. I think I could work to get him through till 6-7 am without a snack but it's easier to just feed him and go back to sleep. Also, I really love the way Gumball snuggles up to me when I get back in bed.

And we are GO for crawling!

7) One of the hardest things to relinquish control over is letting Swede pick out her own clothes. It has been so much fun buying clothes for the kids! Currently I still buy her clothes (with a little input, but it's mostly online so she loses interest quickly) but she picks out what to wear in the morning and I can't help cringing at some of the combinations. It's also frustrating when I buy something that I love and she refuses to wear it.

That's all for now! What are your plans for the weekend? We are doing family photos of Saturday... Fingers crossed for happy kids and nice weather!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Reading Roundup - June 2016

Book Day! As usual I'm linking up with Stephanie & Jana for Show Us Your Books. Here's what I read in June:

1) The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman. 4/5 stars. I read this book on Brie's recommendation  and wasn't disappointed. [Go read her review here, it's pretty spot on.] It follows the life of the French Impressionist Camille Pissarro's mother Rachel in St. Thomas in the 1800's. There's an arranged marriage, forbidden love, a beautiful tropic setting, Paris... It's not a long book, but it's a big book.

2) The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley. 4/5 stars. One of the negative reviews on Goodreads cited the prevalence of #FirstWorldProblems in this book. And that's true. This is just a book about three people in their mid-thirties trying to navigate every day life. I enjoyed it anyway because it felt familiar. [Except, of course, that they are all much richer than I am, which is a problem I wouldn't mind trying to deal with for a while!]

3) The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny. 3/5 stars. This is the third installment in the Chief Inspector Armande Gamache mystery series, set in the idyllic (except for all the murders) town of Three Pines in Quebec. I enjoy the writing and the setting and getting a little deeper into the characters with each book, but I found the actual mystery in this one to be less compelling.

4) The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst. 2/5 stars. This book has echoes of Great Expectations and The Great Gatsby except that's it's completely silly and lacking in substance. It's about a young newspaper reporter in Los Angeles who gets swept up into the "upper echelons of Hollywood society" and falls in love with the mysterious and beautiful Matilda Duplaine, who has spent her entire life on her father's Bel-Air estate.

5) The Assistants by Camille Perri. 3/5 stars. This one is about the assistant to a media tycoon (think Rupert Murdoch) who stumbles upon a way to help the many highly educated yet underpaid women struggling to get by across the city (and country). It's a quick read but does bring up a challenge to the American Dream that's worth thinking about. I was a little disturbed by how frequently the main character describes the so-called love of her life as a golden retriever.

6) The Secret Place by Tana French. 4/5 stars. I decided to re-read this one in anticipation of the next installment in the Dublin Murder Squad series this fall. This is by far my favorite mystery series ever. I love her writing style and the characters are so well developed. The character drama is equally, perhaps more, compelling than the actual murder. This one takes place at a private high school and puts fear into my heart for Swede's teenage years.

What have you been reading lately? 
Do you find that you read more or less in summer?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Currently - July 2016

Today I'm linking up with See You In A Porridge and Gretch Runs for "What's New With You." I don't actually have much exciting news but I thought I would do an overdue "Currently" post for a snapshot of my life these days.

Listening to: The same music as the last couple months - The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Of Monsters and Men, Rend Collective, Lauren Daigle, and Luke Bell. Plus some of my favorite songs by The National to prepare for seeing them in concert at the end of July!

Reading: Lots! I had five holds come in from the library in the past two weeks so I've been reading frantically to finish everything before they are due back. Although I might just keep them overdue if I can't... [Insert evil laugh here.]

Not pictured: First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

Watching: Nothing. See above... I am spending all my free time reading these days!

Feeling: Sore! I'm in the first week of 21 Day Fix and so far I'm really enjoying the workouts and Shakeology. [I'm not doing the meal plan.] It's hard and I'm really sore but that's just proof to me that I needed something more than running. Thanks to Jen for encouraging me to get started!

Thinking about: How is it possible that we spend as much money as we do at the grocery store? Seriously... I don't feel like we are being that extravagant or buying fancy ingredients but when I'm looking at the budget every month... Yikes! Has food gotten more expensive? Do you have ideas for how to save money?

Loving: Going for little hikes with Abel and Gumball on the trails around our neighborhood. We have used this Ospey Poco Plus backpack for two summers with Swede and it's still in great shape. It's surprisingly comfortable too for carrying 25 pounds on your back once you get it adjusted properly.

Not Loving: The never-ending saga of the root canal. I'm on the third visit with no end in sight. Sigh.

Wearing: My summer uniform is jeans (either these, these, or these) and a relaxed fit v-neck t-shirt (this one in five different colors).

Praying: To spend more time praying. Sometimes I'll get in the habit of defaulting to prayer in the small quiet moments of life, such as feeding Abel or driving alone in the car. Sometimes I'll use those same moments to review my to-do list ad-nauseam or rant in my head about various petty grievances. Guess which one makes me feel more peaceful and content with life in general?

Eating: I've been into doing Chinese take-out classics at home lately. The Best Easy Beef and Broccoli IS really easy and good. I also like the Easy Sesame Chicken from Budget Bytes. [Apparently I'm only trying recipes with "easy" in the title these days.]

Looking forward to: Our friends Tyffani and Bryn and their baby Elliott are coming to visit in two weeks! Elliott and Abel are exactly three months apart - I think they are going to be BFFs.

Monday, July 4, 2016

4th of July Weekend 2016

Another super long weekend recap coming at you... Let's just get started!


I've been trying to get outside with the kids more, so Swede and I went on a nature walk in the morning while Abel napped.

Then my mom & I took the kids to the pool. Abel loves splashing like crazy. It's so interesting to me how different he is from Swede at the same age. In almost every way that I can think of! She did not (and still does not) like getting water on her face, but it doesn't seem to faze Abel at all.

I can't remember what we did in the afternoon & evening. The usual nap time and mooch-around I assume. The only photo I have is this one:


Bleh. Not the best day. I'd like to just acknowledge what seems to be an elephant in the room of "everyday life" bloggers such as myself. We all fight with our husbands - Right? (Or boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, friends, etc). Obviously some things are and should be private but sometimes it feels a little disingenuous to chatter on blithely about this and that when there is some internal strife going on. Does anyone else ever feel this way?

Moving on. I was planning to do an 8 mile trail run but wasn't feeling it so hiked 5 miles instead. Saw this neat rock cairn along the way! Probably would not have noticed this if I'd been running.

The afternoon was the typical nap time shuffle. I do love a little downtime when both kids are napping at once, but I also enjoy one-on-one time when they alternate. And I love peeking in on both of them while they are sleeping! Swede loves to snuggle up with all the blankies and to wear her hooded chicken towel (aka Cluck Cluck) on her head.


7 am: Vanilla latte. Listening to Richard Hawley. Internal strife has been resolved. Abel is squirming around on the floor trying to figure out this whole crawling business. Swede has lined up all her stuffed animal friends on the couch and is reading them stories. Someday later on when I look back on the Baby Years... These are the moments I'd like to remember.

Later we tidied up and headed to church. The kids aren't smiling in this photo but they are both looking at the camera and holding still so I'm calling that a win.

In the afternoon I went with my mom to get a pedicure. Unfortunately we both feel that we choose the wrong color polish!


We started the day with eggs Benedict at home then headed to the river with the kids. An exciting moment for Swede was seeing the train go by. She also enjoyed making mud cakes and throwing rocks in the water.

Unfortunately Swede was in a pretty bad mood all morning other than for a brief time at the river. I don't know why but every single thing was a huge drama. We decided to try to watching our first ever movie together (Robin Hood) but after 20 minutes she requested to watch Peppa Pig instead.

She took a really long afternoon nap though and thankfully woke up feeling better. Abel and I did a photoshoot while we waited for her to wake up.

We went over to Jonathan's parents house for dinner. This potato salad was really good!

And that's all! What was the highlight/lowlight of your weekend? What's your favorite Sunday-morning-at-home music?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Gratitude and Goals - July 2016

I don't want to say it but I can't help it... How is it July already?!?!

Some things I'm grateful for lately:

   - For the mad genius who came up with Speculoos Cookie Butter. Holy moly. This is good stuff.

   - That there isn't a Trader Joe's in Durango so I can't run out and buy a new jar when this one (gifted by J's parents) is gone.

   - My new haircut! I almost always type haircute. But hey, Maybe that should be a thing?! A cute new haircut = a haircute! Is anyone with me?

   - We went out to dinner as a family at Tacos Nayarit for J's birthday on Wednesday and no one had a meltdown!

   - Abel laughing... One of the sweetest sounds in the whole world to me right now.

A quick review of my goals for June:

   - To continue potty training Swede... Success! She has made great progress this month!

   - To do yoga for 15 min every day... Fail. I was on track until my trip to Denver mid-June and didn't get back into it until this week. Why is it so hard to make this a habit?!

   - To run 3x per week... Success! I ran 67.5 miles total in June.

   - No buying clothes for myself... Success! OK, I did buy a navy blue Cashmere Crop Cardigan from Boden at 40% off plus $30 in gift cards that were expiring but it would have been madness to not take advantage of that deal.

On to my goals for July:

   - I am starting 21 Day Fix on Sunday... Wish me luck!

   - Buy a twin mattress for Swede and transition her from the crib... A little nervous about this one too!

   - Less phone time. The eternal struggle! I'd like to put my phone completely away between work and bedtime, and for an entire day on the weekend.

   - I get busier at work in August and go back to working Fridays so I really want to embrace and take advantage of summertime this month! I'd like to spend more time outdoors with the kids at the pool and the river and the playground, hiking and biking and picnicking.

That's all... Happy Weekend!