5/25/16

Brain space.


I was telling my sister that when I used to work out, I heard every bit of instruction that our barre instructor would shout out at us. "Tuck in your pelvis, connect the heels, get the arch out of your spine, shoulders down." There was so much more room in my head. I was present. That was all before I had Parker and Anders. So, essentially, I was a different person entirely. Now I am in class and I begin the leg raises only to look around and discover that everyone's toes are flexed while mine are pointed. I have less room in my brain to hear the intricacies of the workout. Is that just the mind of a woman with small children? 

I have jury duty coming up. I already postponed it last year so I can't postpone it again. When I called and said I had a baby (I don't really have to call him a toddler, do I?) they asked how old and I said one year and they responded, "You'll have to make arrangements." What if there are no arrangements to be made?! What if I don't know anyone capable of watching my child??? I'm still nursing! I'm an attachment parenter! You can't make me stop! There's a lawsuit here. If I don't show up will I go to jail? Settle down, I am going to go, or call the line the day before and really, really hope that I'm not called, that is. But the mere idea that I could have some extended jury duty is giving me more anxiety than it should. Despite the aforementioned lack of space in my brain, I also really don't like to be away from my kids for any length of time. What is that? It'd probably do me some good to get out, and yet I have a really hard time taking the opportunity. If I'm going to get some me-time, I certainly don't want it to be at jury duty. Horrors.

I think it comes from that enormous-mentioned-all-too-often thing that time flies and I want to be around for every bit of it. Even now, here I sit, at a coffee shop (She's out! She's at a coffee shop! Sans children!). There's a baby sitting across the way. I'm looking at that baby and thinking, "I miss my Anders." Lord help us. 

5/24/16

A night off at the beach.

The other day I told Steve, "We've got to get out and do something." Our weekends often turn into these lazy two days of odd jobs, always fewer than I was hoping to attend to, and I feel like Monday arrives and I look back and think what did we actually accomplish? I think those weekends are necessary, yes. But we've had too many of them recently. (Maybe we're still resting from all the constant going we did when we were abroad?) I'm ready to get out. Go for a hike. Head to the beach. Leave town and drive along the coast for breakfast at a place that's new to us. This shouldn't be hard, but for some reason it is!

5/23/16

ten things i'm absolutely loving right now.

one. before my dad arrived last week, parker got that above husky tool bucket thing all prepped full of his tools, in all the compartments, totally of his own accord. plopped it on the table like, "okay. now pop can come." (my dad bought it for him.)
two. this sunless tanning lotion. i'm taking skincare SERIOUSLY now and wearing sunscreen (not for the first time ever or anything, but just trying to be more mindful) and blah blah blah so... sunless tanning it is. subtle. used it on my legs so far and don't look orange! it didn't make the list in this post but i'm telling ya, used it and like it.
three. after being out of the habit of home fries (well, habit is strong wordage. i used to make them at least once a month though?), i made them again saturday morning with some cheddar sprinkled on top of over easy fried eggs and YUM. handed the whole dish to steve who was busy grading papers and he practically leapt out of his chair. safe to say we love home fries and eggs.
four. lindsey's made this zucchini bread a few times and while on the healthy side it is soooo delicious. tip: add chocolate chips to the batter but then add a few on the very top once it's already poured in the loaf pan so they sort of sit on top through the whole baking process instead of all of them sinking to the bottom.
five. anders' profile. what is it about a baby's profile? especially when he's concentrating and his lips are all pouty. i seriously want to smooch them constantly.
six. bachelorette is on tonight. bachelorette is on tonight!!! if this list only had one item on it, this would be it. it's silly how much i love that show. almost as much as grace. almost.
seven. the lilacs i'm smelling in my yard. i can also see them from parker's room window. there's something so lovely about that. i point them out to him, as well as the sound of the birds chirping that i can sometimes hear even as i put him to bed. oh i love that sound!
eightthis clay. using it for blackheads on my forehead (i hate them!!) and i think it's making a difference.
nine. the new snapchat old face filter. been having a little too much fun with it. both posting on snapchat or recording ridiculous ones to send to friends. 
ten. this top. i'm obsessed with the cut of it.

5/20/16

weekend links.

I love this picture of the boys' playing yesterday. I'm not even sure why. Just the two of them, in their element. Also, Parker is asking to learn how to ride a bike. Any recommendations? Any balance bike owners out there love those?

This weekend is supposed to be beautiful and I've promised Parker some time at the beach. Let's hope! What are you doing?

Zit-zapping techniques you have at home.

I don't think Massachusetts is the most forgiving climate for a succulent garden, but if it were, I'd build this vertical one.

I finally bought these shoes that I've had sitting in a cart forever.

Whitening your teeth naturally. The charcoal one looks downright scary.

15 year old found a lost Mayan city using stars and Google maps. What?!

8 facts that will change how you see the Breakfast Club. Rick Moranis was almost janitor. That's funny and reminds me I should probably show my kids Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

Cats saying hey instead of meow. This made me laugh harder than it should've.

Actors and their stunt doubles.

These perfect summer jeans. Good price point too.

Nepal ends the world's largest animal sacrifice event. Does this mean the world is becoming a kinder place??

See you next week!

5/19/16

swiss muesli.

when i was in high school, we had an exchange student from switzerland named claudia. she was with us for six months? maybe more? she attended our local high school and was the same year as my sister kate. i have such fun memories of claudia living with us. it was like my sister's best friend (who i really liked) living in our home. she's still good family friends with us and we've seen her since her time as our exchange student.
anyway, aside from the swiss chocolate that she'd bring us (the best!!), she also made this muesli for us. we'd have a huge bowl of it in the fridge and i would plow through it bowl by bowl by bowl...  by bowl. my mom got the recipe and continued making it beyond claudia's time with us. it's the perfect mix of slightly crunchy, sweet, and hearty. it feels like it could be dinner if you were having a lazy night, though, i guess it's technically breakfast. still, that doesn't stop me from eating it for each meal and all the snacks in between.
there's a lot of different ways to do it. things you can add or exclude based on what you have, what's in season, how you like it. get the green one pictured above with no added sugar. the side of it has a recipe that i loosely follow. so much of it is eyeballing and mixing, pouring a little, then pouring some more, so measurements don't really matter. i just made a really big bowl the other day with two of the above boxes and it's almost gone. in my house, william and i are the only ones who eat it but don't let that deter you! it's good. the rest of my family are just fools.

the recipe is going to drive you crazy, because it's not really a recipe at all. but it's pretty hard to get wrong. also, letting it sit is key. overnight is best, but at least an hour is necessary. both for taste, texture, and digestion.

original swiss muesli

a box of "no added sugar" familia swiss muesli
a ratio of plain yogurt to strawberry (i used much more plain than strawberry, but the strawberry is nice for some sweetness); for one box i'd estimate at least 2 cups of yogurt
a few cups of milk; again, for one box, at least 1 cup (the liquid will get soaked up and then you might want to add more; it should be more liquid, with a soft texture
grapes, chopped in half
a grated apple, maybe two
you could go crazy and add berries, bananas, but my favorite combination is just the grapes and apples.
optional: a splash of orange juice

mix all of the above. let sit. enjoy!
(as the dry ingredients soak up the liquid ingredients you might find you need to add more milk/yogurt. do so!)

5/17/16

releasing our butterflies!


Our butterflies were finally released the other day. It was around 60, maybe 65 degrees. I'd been ready to let them free for a few days and they seemed more ready too. We missed our opportunity on Saturday when it was so nice, and then Sunday got cold and windy and more of the same on Monday. I knew I'd think about whether it was too cold for them, too windy, enough food, would they be eaten and then, while on a walk on Tuesday, I saw another butterfly out and thought, "That's it! My sign. It's okay for me to release them." (Unless, I didn't think till just now, that lone butterfly was also released by someone who, like me, purchased caterpillars on Amazon. Hm.)



The cool thing about it is that they really hang out on your fingers. It seems impossible to get a butterfly in the wild to do that, but you can practically hold these guys. They're not eager to take off. But then they do, and off they go. I'd say that it's well worth it to do with your kids. You start with a small cup, food already in it and five (in our case) caterpillars. They grew to more than 10x their size, eventually become chrysalides, and they remain that way for about a week. Then, behold! You've got butterflies hatching, one by one. That part was unbelievable to me. How did it change from that fat caterpillar I saw a few days ago to a butterfly inside the chrysalides?! How? Anyway, I was not a perfect butterfly Mom by any means (two of the chrysalides fell off in the transfer to the net), but still all five made it so if you think you're neglectful, this is the perfect science project. We checked out a few butterfly books from the library to go along with it. Overall, Parker really enjoyed the project. He's into bugs more and more these days. Lately I watch him outside carefully studying what appears to be his arm, his hand, to discover it's a tiny inchworm he's housing. A note, however: if you consider yourself squeamish, it's a little yucky. Butterfly poop in the jar, and then some blood is released when they break out of their cocoons. Nature, ya'll! We got our butterflies from here.


Coming up with a system.


I am counting to 1, 2, 3 at least four times a day for Parker right now. Or threatening, "I'm about to ask a third time. I'm about to!" We're not certain what happens if I reach 3 and my request continues to go unnoticed. Sometimes I declare, "No Paw Patrol!" (An addiction of his at the moment, and one that I am trying to break.)

But I'd like to get a better system. A chart? Something with stickers? Good listening, being kind to Anders, getting ready for the day nicely, and helping around the house gets him closer to... a new Matchbox car? A knight? Something that motivates him to do xyz and keeps me from feeling frustrated. I don't want it to be so difficult and the reward so hard to attain that he loses interest. I want it to be something where he can obviously see his progress. I also don't love rewarding children for things that they should do like brushing their teeth, or picking up their room, but maybe I should reward for those now? Stop when he's older and more is expected of him? Do you give a sticker for a full day of good behavior? Or a sticker for every time they listen when they don't want to? I want to have it spelled out for me! What do you do?

A quick search on Pinterest brought up two that I like: this ticket system maybe? Or this pom-pom jar one? 

Steve and I--and maybe you too?--have the hardest time sticking to things when it comes to discipline. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and when times are desperate we do come up with a system. And then, time passes, things are less desperate, we get lax. Our inconsistency is so frustrating to me. Our last big parenting move was banning technology from 5-7:30 unless it was for school use. (Things were very desperate at the time.) We've since, you guessed it, gotten more lax. Until things turn desperate again.

What's your system?

5/15/16

lately.

Some books I'd highly recommend! The top one is A Child's History of the World and while I think it's makes the rounds in the homeschooling world, it should be on every shelf. It's a comprehensive world history book written for the 7-10 age group in a really light, fun way. But, honestly, I've picked it up and read pages before and learned something too (I'm someone who wishes she knew a lot more about history than I do. I didn't pay nearly enough attention in school, and regret that now!). The other two were both good library books we got out--especially Animalium. Parker and I looked through this one for at least an hour. It's got a cool "Welcome to the Museum" shtick that I liked. Get this one! I'd even say it's worth owning.
This boy before his latest (second!) haircut. Looking up at the sky for an airplane. 
I made Ina's lemon chicken the other day and between the ingredients and the smell, I really thought I'd declare a resounding you must make this (enough to take a picture of it before sitting down to feast), I was actually a little bit disappointed by it. I'm going to let Ina off easy on this one though, cause I don't think it's her fault. I think I'm just a little underwhelmed, always, in giant pieces of chicken (plus, I didn't use boneless, so maybe the work of cutting the chicken off the bone is affecting my judgement). I'm a chicken-diced-up-in-a-casserole-or-taco person. I am just not that excited about a whole chicken breast unless--one caveat--there's tons of really delicious sauce with it. That's all there is to it. However, the smell is pretty spectacular: white wine, lemon, garlic, salt... 
click below to read more!

5/13/16

weekend links.

This weekend is Nathaniel's college graduation! COLLEGE GRADUATION. That's crazy. Anyway, it's supposed to be almost 80 tomorrow--perfect day for it! And we've got family in town. It'll be fun. What are you up to? 

I went text-crazy sending these incredible rental properties to my family. "Family reunion! $50 a head!" Amazing.

This carpool with Gwen Stefani, George Clooney, and Julia Roberts is so good.

Love this bootie.

73 Questions with Taylor Swift.

This simple ring is so pretty.

How to order wine like a sommelier. (One of my favorites, and not just cause of the price ($7!), is the organic Merlot from Trader Joe's! It seriously is good and whenever I serve it people ask what it is because they like it.)

A great men's board short (in red/blue).

Another reason to get a spiralizer: these sweet potato fries.

Nashville cancels after 4 seasons. (I've watched them all, and do like the show, but it's becoming increasingly cheesy, am I right? I'll follow Connie Britton to wherever she goes next though... and Rayna and Deacon forever!)

Reeses Cups filled with Reeses Pieces are now a thing.

Olivia Wilde too old to play Leonardo DiCaprio's girlfriend?! The benefits of getting older.

Have a good one!

5/11/16

Anders, 17 months, top five.


Anders. What a joy. We're through the weeds of teething (for the moment), after four new ones towards the back sprang through a couple weeks ago. Such a design flaw that these babies have to teeth, right? I'd be happy to puree my child's food for a few years if we could push back the teething process. Heck, I'd be happy to puree your child's food for a few years too to save you from the woes of teething. His personality shines through when his mouth isn't in pain and it is the best. So, in celebration of the adorable blue-eyed baby that is my sweet Anders, here's his top five. Heart-achingly adorable to a mother only, and I am the lucky person who gets to wear that title. It is my favorite title in the entire world and he's my favorite 17-month old in the whole world. 

one. When he discovers we're leaving the house because he hears me telling Parker to get his shoes on (thirty-two times; you can't miss it.), he'll go over to the back door, find his shoes, sit down on the floor, and put them on which means he's simply touching the shoe to his foot. Of course, it's not getting on his foot, but does that stop me from feeling so proud of him? As predicted, the answer is... no.
two. This is a new one, and the best discovery: I began singing John Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulders" to him the other day (it's sort of my sing-to-my-boys song if I had to name one.) and he kept shaking his head no. At one point, he even whimpered! It made me laugh so hard, that it made him laugh so hard, and became a thing. I'd begin singing, "Sunshine..." and he'd shake his head no, with a big smile on his face. It was so funny. Why do you hate my singing, Anders?!
three. Along the same lines, when he's nursing, I ask him, "All done?!" He burrows his face deeper into my chest and shakes his head no with a smile on his face. We do it, over and over, and I can tell he thinks it's really funny. Seeing his sense of humor is my favorite (and how much he loves it when I laugh too.)
four. Chasing him. Have I already said this? It's so funny. When Parker chases him, it gets a little intense that he just shrieks ear-piercingly loud, but when I chase him he backs himself into a corner, and then gets super excited until I get him, or launches for me for a hug. Best.
five. I brought in Steve for this last one. He said, "I like his waddle." "I like when he walks to me when I come home from work, hugs both my legs, and drops his head in between my legs." I can attest, it's really cute.

For you, Anders: We love you SO MUCH, buddy. Wherever you are one day reading this, will you come home and give us a huge hug? You give the best hugs, and I suspect we will love them for the rest of time and then some. We are so happy to be your Mom and Dad.

5/9/16

Traveling Abroad with Kids, Part 1: medicine, gear, school + more!


SCHOOL:

William and Lindsey missed school for September, October, and about half of November while we were abroad. Since Steve is familiar with the process of homeschooling (he and Shannon homeschooled for years), speaking with administrators at the school, figuring out curriculum, and just having a general knowledge of what one does in this scenario is second nature to him. He spoke with the superintendent of schools, and came up with a curriculum for the kids that was approved by them. William had to have actual credits which he did through the Virtual High School (Chemistry and Geometry), plus a Roman history/art/culture project that he turned into the school once back, and Lindsey had to follow a Steve-made curriculum, also including Roman history, etc., plus she was in contact with her teachers via email. It wasn't very difficult for either, but it is certainly easier before credit hours need to be met (so, before high school). Once abroad, Roman history became the focus of most school stuff. Let me tell you, Steve knows his emperors.

GEAR: 

We brought our stroller, and also got the second seat and glider board attachments before leaving. I remember Steve toying with the idea of leaving it behind and getting just an umbrella stroller over there. No way! That stroller is as much a stroller as it is pack mule. Its storage is unrivaled, and I knew we'd need that space. We bought the travel bag that goes with it as well, and by the end of the trip Steve and William could undo the stroller and pack it into that bag in under a minute. (It's a very tight fit.) Is the travel bag necessary? Not totally, but I did travel without one once and the handle that you pull on to collapse the stroller broke off in transit (Airlines aren't always the most gingerly with your things!). Luckily it wasn't international travel when it happened, so I could have it easily replaced. I didn't want to take a chance with the way I knew we'd be relying on this stroller (and with how unreliable the Italian postal system can be!). So the travel bag was peace of mind. With that said, it was a pain to schlep around when empty. It's fairly large, and can't be easily smooshed. The glider board was the unsung hero of the trip (scratch that; it's probably William and Steve who let Parker ride on their shoulders for miles upon miles when he didn't want to go on the glider board). At times, we did use the second seat too--especially when we went out in the evenings, or when I knew Parker would need a nap which he did on occasion (especially around travel days)--remember the picture at the bottom of this post?

I also brought two carriers: the Beco, and a Sakura Bloom. I used both a lot. Beco for more intense hiking/walking days and the Sakura Bloom for more off/on meandering days. He nursed in both, and I was grateful to have them along. I think both nursing Anders and wearing him made for easy transitions.

I got this bag for my camera and a few other odds and ends before leaving. I knew I'd need something to keep my camera safe from all the inevitable jostling but I didn't want it to scream "camera bag!" That bag fit the bill. I still use it every day--camera or not!

We had this bag for Parker from my last trip to Italy when I carried it around; I've since passed it on to him. It's great for a kid to carry, and it also can snap onto the stroller handle. It was his designated bag the whole trip (aside from his luggage) and he had it filled with toys from home, snacks on the go, etc.

MEDICINE + WELLNESS:

I took First Aid kit packing very seriously. We had this portable, collapsible cooler that I completely filled: thermometer, tons of Boiron homeopathies (for colds, for food poisoning, teething, arnica, etc.; particularly the ones that are in the tiny blue tubes--so easily packed! I'd keep them in my diaper bag too.), children's Motrin, band-aids, Neosporin, elderberry, colloidal silver, EmergenC, essential oils. All of these things (most, anyway) can be found abroad, for sure, but I wasn't sure how readily and exactly where.  I didn't want to be needing them and then begin a search for them. Our first stop was Lake Como and a pretty small town at that. I am glad that we had these things instead of having to locate a pharmacy, and then rely on our spotty Italian language skills to get what we needed.

In terms of medical care and insurance while abroad, it's easy. When we took Anders to the hospital, we showed our passports, filled out some minor paperwork, and have yet to see a bill. He was there overnight too! With fluids and tests! Socialized healthcare, ya'll.

SLEEPING + JET LAG:

There's no magical answer to the sleep/jet lag question. I think Anders was at a really good age to take this trip. I wore him a lot, and nursing is a tremendous help for an angsty, tired baby. I'd nurse everywhere. When we arrived in Milan, we were pretty exhausted but it was the afternoon there. After we checked into our hotel, we walked to the Duomo, got dinner, and then headed back for an early night. I remember being awake by midnight with a restless Anders, trying to keep him quiet in a pitch dark hotel room with Steve and Parker sleeping in the next bed (William and Lindsey had another hotel room). Plus, our sound machines (yes, I brought those!) didn't work--ever. As soon as I tried to plug them in, with the proper converter, they were busted. Something to buy there if necessary. So, to reiterate, there's really no magical answer. Just assume you'll be tired, a little out of sorts, and order plentiful cappuccinos that Italy does so well! And drinks lots of water! I think that having some comforts of home is a nice thing for kids too. Like a stuffed animal or, in our case, a few of Parker's favorite little cars, books, and a few of their favorite movies downloaded on the iPad with kid headphones.

On the plane, both boys slept really well. I'd attribute more of this to their personality than anything else. And Emirates Airline which was very accommodating! Anders got a little crib that attached to the wall in front of me which he slept in for probably three hours of the flight, maybe more. It was amazing. And after watching Cars 2, Steve got Parker cozied up with a blanket, a lucky extra seat in their row, and he fell asleep for the majority of the flight.

For naps, Anders got a lot of these on the go. Parker stopped napping long before we left so that wasn't a worry. Anders was easy going about napping. Stroller and carrier naps were where it's at. There were slower days in Orvieto or Switzerland where he would nap in bed at "home" and other days where we were consistently on the move. We didn't bring a pack-n-play and that was, at times, annoying (though not as annoying as traveling all over with one would've been). My monitor didn't always work, so I ended up staying in/near the room once he was in bed for the night. Not the most convenient. What I might do, if I were there for a long time, is buy a monitor over there (or a pack-n-play, or ensure that your place will have a crib available). 

BATHROOMS:

Someone asked the bathrooms question, and I'm having a hard time recalling because I think we were pretty much issue-free here. Parker is good at letting us know when he has to go, and holding it when need be. Plus, there's bathrooms around! Some may be dirty, but that's where I'm grateful for little boys and their ability to stand to pee! And hand sanitizer!

We brought a lot of wipes with us but only enough diapers to get us through the airplane ride and then a decent chunk of time once there. Diapers abroad are just fine! We are used to Seventh Generation here, but had no rash issues with the brand over there. I think I just bought the generic Coop ones.

Part 2 to come! I know I'm missing a few questions. If you need one answered, please ask in the comments!

5/6/16

weekend links.

Playing outside on a nice day (what feels like ages ago--it's been nonstop gray and rain here!). Anders loves being in the backyard. Loooooves. Hoping the sun might peek out on Mother's Day... but the forecast isn't looking promising. Happy Mother's Day to all! 

I'm seeing spiralizers everywhere. Pinch of Yum just did a tutorial on them. Want zoodles in your life?! I'm looking at this one.

Powering the U.S. with solar power. Why aren't we doing this?

Bad Moms trailer. A funny commentary on mothering today. Also, I love Mila Kunis. This might be funny or stupid; I'll probably watch it (when it comes out) and report back.

This dress is perfection.

I love this hair series of Kate's. I'm always interested in tried and true products. My issues: I want VOLUME. And moisture.

Chicken parm wraps. These look so good.

Clinton releases brutal anti-Trump ad.

Coconut oil shampoo bars??

These throwback Mother's Day posts. I loved reading through the quotes: one and two.

Loving watching Lip Sync battles on YouTube. My sister told me about the Jenna Dewan/Channing Tatum one. Favorite.

I know some people are not into the romper trend but I am! This one would be perfect all summer long.

See you next week!