Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Five Favorites - November 2016

Hey Friends! It's been a while since I've done a Favorites post. [Insert pause while I look back over the blog to find the last one... Yep - It was in August.] Sometimes I feel like I don't have anything new to share, and sometimes, like today, I have a hard time narrowing it down to just five things, so I might try to squeeze in a few extras...

1) We've been in our new house for six weeks and I am really happy with the move. It seems more and more like the perfect house for our family. I love: the layout, the bigger kitchen, the fireplace, the fenced back yard, the huge bathtub, the built-in shelving, and having my own office. I want to live here forever.

2) I have a "normal" Bible already,  but I couldn't resist buying the Beautiful Word Bible last month. One of my goals currently is to make Bible study a daily practice and the beautiful illustrated verses scattered throughout this one make it even more inspiring and enjoyable.

3) Do you remember the paper Scholastic book flyers in elementary school? I used to love pouring over the books and choosing the exact perfect one, then the interminable wait until it arrived. [Ah, the days before Amazon Prime!] I was surprised to find out that the same paper flyers are still coming home monthly from Swede's preschool. Except now you can order online. Although there's still the interminable wait. Anyway - Last month I ordered a set of ten classic fairy tales. They are just the right length and the illustrations are so cute. Swede loves them!

4) This appears to be a book heavy post, but I have to mention Ilana Wiles' book, The Mommy Shorts Guide to Average Parenting. It is SO funny! I want to buy a copy for all my mom friends. She also has a hilarious Instagram that picked up this photo of Swede from a couple weeks ago.

5) Do you remember when I said I wasn't going to buy any clothes for six months? Well, I have been mostly successful for one month so far, except that I did buy the Brooks reflective Drift Shell for running at night. In daylight it's a black coat with a pale silvery pattern but at night it lights up. I also picked up the Ultimate Night Light headlamp from Title Nine, and am very happy with both items.

BONUS - Christmas favorites: 1) I had these stockings made last year by The Colorful Chicken but I still love them so much. 2) I think I'm going to start a tradition of getting the kids a new Christmas ornament every year - I started this year with a camper van for Swede from Land of Nod. It doesn't look like it's available anymore but they have so many cute ornaments. 3) As previously noted, I'm obsessed with Abel's winter sweater from Boden.

That's all! What are you loving lately?
I'm linking up with Kristen and Gretchen for What's New With You!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Weekend

Super long weekend recap coming at you today, so I'm not going to waste any time!

I'm going to rewind all the way to last Wednesday for lunch with my lovely friend Chesleigh at Ken & Sue's.

On Thursday we celebrated Abel's first birthday with a delicious breakfast at my parents' house, including home made cinnamon rolls.

Swede and I played hide-and-seek while Abel napped.

In the afternoon we went to Jonathan's aunt's house for Thanksgiving dinner with his extended family. The sweet potato gratin I made was delicious.

Friday was low-key but in a good way. The kids and I mooched around the house in the morning then went to the gym where I had a great six mile run. Abel and I explored the back yard during Swede's quiet time. We had pizza for dinner, and then I watched the first of the new Gilmore Girls episodes.

On Saturday we went to the library in the morning, and then Chesleigh and Doug stopped by on their way back to Denver, bringng fun birthday presents for the kids. 

We had dinner - molten blue cheese dip, steak, twice-baked potatoes, asparagus - with my parents.

There was a little bit of snow on Sunday.

I love Abel's winter sweater from Boden and am planning for him to wear it as much as possible in the next month because he's going to outgrow it way too quickly.

We went to church in the morning, and then Swede and I kicked off the holiday baking season with molasses sugar cookies.

In the afternoon we decorated the Christmas tree and put up a few other Christmas decorations. Swede thought it was really fun to unwrap and hang the ornaments. Abel's agenda, on the other hand, is to beeline for the tree at every opportunity and grab as many ornaments as possible before we catch up.

And that's all! It wasn't a super action-packed weekend, and there were, as always, some tantrums and fussiness from the kids, but there was also plenty of moments of everyday happiness and gratitude for my beautiful family.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Birthday Abel!

It's here! Abel is one year old today. I probably don't need to tell you that this little boy is at the top of the list of things for which I'm grateful today and every day.

He is such a delight. So happy. So thrilled to be alive in this world. To explore and learn. To love and be loved. His smile brings joy into my heart.

Before the Thanksgiving festivities begin, I'm taking a moment to look back on how my baby boy has grown and changed this past year from a tiny newborn to a chubby and mischievous toddler.

One Day:

One Month:

Two Months:

Three Months:

Four Months:

Five Months:

Six Months:

Seven Months:

Eight Months:

Nine Months:

Ten Months:

Eleven Months:

One Year:

And now... Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Swede's Birthday Weekend

Hey Friends! It has been a busy long weekend of celebration for my favorite three-year-old! The festivities commenced with mini pumpkin spice cupcakes for Swede's school party on Thursday, which my mom and Swede made together on Wednesday. 

Her actual birthday was Friday, so I put up a huge Peppa Pig Birthday Banner the night before and gave her the Peppa Pig Tea Set in the morning. [This birthday will be forever remembered as the year of all things Peppa Pig.] She requested quesadillas for dinner and then we made chocolate cupcakes for the party on Saturday. 

[Side note: Jessica's cupcake recipes are the best! Although I generally cut her frosting recipes in half or even in thirds because I don't think anyone needs that much frosting.] 

On Saturday I managed to squeeze in a six mile run before getting everything organized for the party. I did a cheese/salami/olive plate, veggies and dip, punch, and the chocolate cupcakes. My mom brought over pepperoni pizza rolls which were a big hit. I bought a set of Peppa Pig plates, cups, and napkins, as well as the cupcake toppers, but that was pretty much the extent of my party planning and decorating ability. 

Our guest list was exactly 16 people, including our family - My parents, Jonathan's parents, our babysitter, my new friend Diana and her family, and Jonathan's friend Matt and his family. It was a really fun time and Swede received so many thoughtful presents. There were many Peppa Pig items, but miraculously no duplicates. Play-Doh is the other big hit right now.

I didn't take many photos but I saw that our babysitter had a camera out so perhaps I'll get  few more from her later.

This photo would be cute if not for Swede's maniacal expression... I blame too much sugar and excitement.

Abel was mesmerized by Swede's birthday balloons.

As for the rest of the weekend... Let's just say there were highs and lows. The low was that Swede was up sick with stomach flu every couple hours from about 9 pm to 4 am on Saturday night. It was miserable.  Thankfully she slept in until 9 am and was her normal cheerful and healthy self all day Sunday, and no one else in the family (and hopefully no one else who attended the party) was sick either.

We didn't make it to church though so it was a rather long morning at home. The kids did both take long afternoon naps, and I managed to nap for a little while too, then I took Abel and Gumball on a hike, and then we all went to Grassburger for dinner. [These latter items representing the highs.]

The upcoming week is another busy one! On Monday I'm taking Swede in for her annual checkup in the morning then meeting a client for lunch. On Wednesday I'm having lunch with my friend Chesleigh from Denver who is in the area to visit family. 

And then, of course, Thanksgiving is on Thursday and it's also Abel's first birthday. We are doing a birthday breakfast with my parents and then Thanksgiving dinner with Jonathan's family. I'm contributing a sweet potato gratin and I hope I don't cause a mutiny by the lack of marshmallows.

As the kids' birthdays have approached it's caused me to think back on the past year. It has been really hard at times and really joyful at other times. I feel like I'm seeing glimmers of hope that we are approaching the end of the specific difficulties of the baby/toddler combination year. I know there will be other challenging seasons ahead but we are moving into the "little kid" years, which is bittersweet. I think there might be a separate post on this topic coming up soon...

I hope that you had a great weekend, and I wish all my (American) friends a happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Swedeisms [Vol. 2]

In honor of my best girl's 3rd birthday today I decided to do another installment of the funny things that she's said lately. [See here for the first post.]

1) Jonathan bought a set of plastic dinosaurs a couple weeks ago. Swede picked up the T-Rex and said: "This dinosaur could eat Daddy all up in one bite! Then we'd need a new Daddy."

2) She is speaking much more clearly lately but there are a couple mispronunciations still lingering. My favorites are "cimmanin" and "quesadida."

3) A conversation while walking home from my mom's house:

Swede - Look at all these trees!
Me - Yep, There's a lot of trees.
Swede - This is a forest.
Me - That's right! It is a forest.
Swede - I like to pick my nose.

I think it's safe to say she has mastered the absurd non-sequitur.

4) Swede picked out a little 2017 calendar for her room from Bed Bath & Beyond that has a hedgehog on the front. Since it's not hanging on the wall yet she likes to pretend it's a book. A couple nights ago she sat me down to read to me "the story of the pinecone bunny."

5) When we moved into our new house Swede asked who would be living in our old house. I said that I didn't know. And she said she thinks it will be the Cat Family (from Richard Scarry).

6) Overheard conversation between Swede & Jonathan during bathtime in which she asks this series of questions:

  - Do crocodiles eat cookies?
  - Do crocodiles need to go potty?
  - Do crocodiles go to Grammie's house?

7)  A conversation as I'm bucking Swede into her carseat to go to preschool one morning:

Swede - We're dudes!
Me - We're dudes?
Swede - No, Just Abel and me are dudes.
Me - Oh, What are Daddy and me?
Swede - You're pirates!

Happy Birthday to my dear Swede! You are a joy and a delight every day.

And Happy Friday to everyone else!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The time we went to Austria

I have often lamented that I wasn't blogging yet in my heyday of travel, but then I realized I can go ahead and share a few trips with you anyway, albeit much belatedly. I'm going to start with the last big vacation Jonathan and I took before Swede was born, when we did a weeklong road trip around Austria in June 2013.

We flew into Vienna in the late morning, rented a car and drove to our hotel near the Stadtpark, then headed out to explore. Unfortunately we arrived at the end of an extremely rainy month which had caused flooding all over the country and so the first couple days in Vienna were pretty cold and wet.

This is a clock! It's 1:50.

St. Stephen's Cathedral - I agree with Emily that the coolest thing about the church was the roof!

We stayed in Vienna the next day and spent the morning at the Schonbrunn Palace. We did an audio tour of some of the inside rooms, which were, needless to say, elaborate. And the extensive grounds were no less so.

In the afternoon we visited the Belvedere Museum. The most famous painting there is The Kiss by Klimt.

For dinner we had an incredible meal at a lovely little restaurant called Mini. I think Jonathan found this place on Trip Advisor and we were able to make a reservation before we left. It was a really neat place with a local feel which I think is often hard to find as a tourist.

On Day 3 we drove to Salzburg. Jonathan did all the driving and he really enjoyed the Autobahn. We checked into a quaint little hotel, the Goldener Hirsch, in the old town, and were upgraded into a very pink suite. 

In the afternoon we did the Sound of Music Tour, which I know sounds cheesy but was very fun and a good way to see many sites around Salzburg. Our tour guide had spent time in Boulder so we chatted with him about Colorado and he recommended a beer garden that we visited the next day. The tour met in Mirabell Gardens, which is featured in the Do-Re-Mi scene.

The famous gazebo.

This is the church where Maria and Captain Von Trapp are married.

The next day brought some sunshine! We took the funicular up to the Fortress Hohensalzburg. We took a tour through the fortress and enjoyed the views. 

In the afternoon we went to the beer garden. Both mornings in Salzburg we went to a neat place called 200 Grad for great coffee and breakfast.

On Day 5 we drove to Hallstatt and spent the morning wandering the quaint streets along the lake. We had a picnic lunch of bread and cheese and salami. 

Then we continued on to St. Wolfgang, another small lakeside town, where we enjoyed dinner on the water and stayed overnight.

The next day we drove to the Melk Abbey, then on to Krems. We wanted to visit Durnstein, but the road between Melk and Durnstein was flooded, so we had to go back onto the Autobahn and loop around to Krems.

Krems was a little disappointing. There was a cobblestone district but it wasn't as quaint as either Hallstatt or Saint Wolfgang, or even parts of Salzburg.

On Day 6 we drove back to Vienna. In the morning Jonathan visited some of the museums at the Hofburg Palace while I read in the rose garden nearby.

 In the afternoon we randomly decided to visit the funfair. We rode the giant wheel, which you will (probably not) recognize from the James Bond movie The Living Daylights, which happens to be my favorite James Bond movie, mostly because it's the silly and fun.

That's all! It was a really great trip. I didn't love Vienna, but I'm mostly over touring the big European capitals. I've visited many of them in the past and nowadays I'd rather see the smaller towns and the countryside which was my favorite part of this trip.

I'm linking up with Lauren, Van, Isabel, and Marcella for Wanderful Wednesday!