It was a rather strange weekend. Forget what I said on Friday about welcoming Winter with open arms. I mean, I meant it, but I wasn't suggesting it should arrive the very next day! We were in Connecticut, which got a foot of snow! I've never seen anything like it. There were so many fallen trees and power lines, and tons of roads were blocked. My mother-in-law lost power, as did thousands of others. Crazy. You could hear the trees crashing down all over the place. On Saturday night, we left our boys with Grandma and Aunt Amber, reading to the boys by candlelight.
Kevin and I attended a Halloween Ball, which was a lot of fun. I was pleased with how my costume turned out. The makeup was messier than I would've liked, but that's because we had already lost power, and I was trying to do it with a flashlight and the last bit of daylight! I still think it came out alright. I even won best female costume!
Sunday consisted of breakfast at my sister-in-law's house, since they were lucky enough to still have power. Then we headed home. We didn't get nearly as much snow here, and we thankfully did not lose power, but there was enough snow on the ground for the first sledding session of the weekend. My boys were excited.
Hot chocolate and sledding on the last weekend of October. But that's okay. Hot chocolate and sledding are good. Now if we can quickly shake the colds we are all coming down with.
Tonight will consist of trick-or-treating with Batman and Superman. Sweet. Happy Halloween!
This still looks like Fall, doesn't it? Well, I better get ready, because Winter is coming. We woke up to a light dusting of snow on the ground. The yard and car were coated with snow and ice. At least the snow convinced my boys to wear their coats - that has been a challenge lately.
I'm going to soak in the last glimpses of red and yellow leaves, and I'm going to maintain a positive attitude about the impending arrival of Winter. There are tons of great things about Winter. So let me appreciate Fall while it's here, but then bring it on!
Snapped while driving past the farm this morning...
There are lots of great things about Winter! Making snowmen, drinking hot cocoa by the fireplace, sledding, skiing (planning to take the big boy to lessons this year), holidays, the start of a new year...
via Snorg Tees
photo by Alicia Bock
This week's Three Beautiful Things:
1. I love so many of Alicia Bock's pictures, but I really love this one and this one. Perhaps it's time to start my holiday wish list.
2. When I work from home, my lunch often consists of whatever needs to be used up in the fridge. Yesterday, this included cherry tomatoes and mozzarella with pesto, cinnamon apples, roasted carrots and onions, and a mini-pizza made from a whole-wheat english muffin, tomato sauce, and cheese (with a little oregano sprinkled on top). Extremely random combination, but it totally hit the spot.
3. I've done an "ass and abs" workout every week for the last month. After the first time, I was walking funny for a couple days. This time around, it felt good, but I wasn't sore the next day. Time to mix it up again.
photo by Alicia Bock
It was a good weekend. Of course, all weekends are good, aren't they? Even if all they do is offer us a reprieve from the midweek routines. We kept this one pretty low-key, which we almost always do. We all attended a birthday party on Saturday morning, which left the kids sweaty and all hopped up on sugar. On Sunday, we headed to Cambridge to hang out by the river to watch the Head of the Charles regatta. We go every year, and it's a fun excuse to go into the city and play outside. It's a good time, especially when the weather cooperates. Some other highlights:
*My big boy and I baked this apple spice cake. Wow it made the house smell good. I love gingerbread, and this was a very moist version of gingerbread with apple.
*We watched Pearl Jam Twenty on Saturday night. As expected, it was great. I found it fascinating to watch how the band has evolved, and it really made me want to learn more about how my other favorite bands create their music.
*I am loving these dark mornings, on the weekends at least. The boys let us sleep until almost 8AM both days. Ahhhh... The weeks are harder, but I'll take this for a little while longer.
*I spent a couple hours working in the yard, planting bulbs and raking. It was made even more satisfying by having my almost 5-year-old helper beside me.
Goals for the week:
1. No more ice cream. I'm giving it up until Spring. Keep me honest, will you?
2. Set up the big boy bed. It wasn't delivered last week, so let's try again.
3. Enjoy next week's Halloween Ball, costume and all. Fingers crossed that it comes together.
4. Meet with another contracter and line up a couple more.
I love having a blog. I was never able to keep a journal - I tried many times over the years. Somehow, though, I've been able to keep this little blog going for a few years now. It took some time for it to evolve, and it's still evolving I suppose, but I love it. After dumping a bit yesterday, I'm able to let those thoughts go (not entirely - I mean it's not magic or anything) and move on. Today, the world seems a bit brighter. The sun is shining, my son is feeling better, I have already done an hour of yoga and accomplished a lot of work, and it's Friday! So these good feelings will continue. Have a great weekend!
Photo by Ann Marie at Age Old Tree
I love Fall, but somehow I'm struggling a bit lately. I find myself asking, "Have I done enough today? Am I living my life to the fullest extent possible? Am I doing all I can to nurture my friendships? Am I showing my best self to my kids?" The questions go on and on. For some reason, the colder season seems to increase this introspection. In the Summer, it seems so much easier - with cookouts and vacations and other opportunities to step outside the daily routines and fill life with joy. It seems like it should be as easy in the Fall - pumpkins, apple-picking, cider, leaves and all that - but it doesn't seem to be that way this year.
photo by Leslie Thomson
Perhaps because the weather has been grayer and wetter than usual. Perhaps because my husband's travel schedule has picked up yet again. Perhaps because although I now see the light at the end of the tunnel at work, it's a long tunnel. Whatever it is, I am fighting hard. I am working to appreciate all that the season has to offer. I just wish it didn't feel like work. I also find myself comparing our lives to others, which is a generally awful thing to do. Everybody has their trials.
But then I think I'm being too hard on myself. Of course we all have those periods when the focus of our lives is on the routines. The school drop-offs, meetings, dinner, bedtime... I have a ridiculous amount of things in my life for which to be grateful, and I am. Truly.
So I will chalk this up to a funk and get back to being the optimist I have become. Time for a cup of hot cider, a few moments of peace, and curling up in bed with a good book. What was I complaining about?
by Scoutie Girl
This week's Three Beautiful Things:
1. My big boy inherited his mom's hula-hooping skills. Which is to say, the little dude can rock the hoop. I can't help but smile when I think of that little butt shaking to keep the hoop spinning. I think Santa might need to hook him up with a hoop.
2. I love climbing onto my awesome mattress, and waking up in the morning under my cozy duvet. The cool mornings make it difficult to get out of my extremely comfortable bed, so I give in and hit 'snooze' once or twice. I love my bed.
3. Cold mornings also means we've transitioned to warm breakfasts. A big bowl of oatmeal, sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar. Sometimes with some other additions - fruit, walnuts, raisins... It's a nice way to start the day.
photo by Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles via Pinterest
I met with our contractors again. They were supposed to review the design and reduce the estimate. Well, after doing a more detailed estimate, the cost actually went up! Needless to say, it was not a pleasant conversation. I am feeling a bit defeated at the moment, and I'm worried that this renovation may not happen. I should show you a picture of my current kitchen, just so you have an idea of what I'm living with; but I can't stand looking at it, so it's not going on the blog (until there is an "after" picture to go along with it!). We'll keep looking at pretty ones instead.
So we reviewed the design again, made a bunch of reductions and simplifications, and this time they really are supposed to provide a lower estimate. It doesn't look like they'll be able to get down to where we need them to be, though. In the meantime, I'm asking around for other contractor recommendations so we can get some competing bids. Maybe nobody can do it for what we've budgeted, but we need to find out.
We started the weekend with chili, cornbread, and Octoberfest beer. That's an excellent start. The weather was fantastic, and we had lots of fun playing. A few other highlights:
*Apple-picking at the farm. I did bake an apple pie, and the house smelled exactly as it should on a cool, blustery October day.
*Mike the music man was playing at the farm, so we decided to make a morning of it. We got lunch, enjoyed some music, hula-hooping, sliding, a hay ride, three huge bags of apples, and free pumpkins for the boys! Oh, and of course let's not forget the cider doughnuts. I am really not a doughnut girl, but once a year I do splurge.
*Crooked Still! Date night consisted of a great show by Crooked Still. They sounded awesome live, and it was so much fun to see them. Another highlight - after the show, they came out to the front of the theater and played a few more songs. I was standing three feet away from them, and the whole crowd was singing along. How fun is that?
Goals for the week:
1. Set up my little boy's "big boy" room. His bed arrives this week.
2. Get a couple other contractor names to get estimates for our big renovation.
3. Schedule a donation. The pile is getting large.
4. Play some guitar. It's good for my soul.
5. Call a friend I haven't talked to in a while.
Okay, so it's not the best picture, but I know what it is, and it makes me smile.
This weekend is shaping up to be a good one. I'm thinking chili and corn bread, apple-picking, baking pie, lots of playing outside, and my favorite kind of date night - a concert. We're going to see Crooked Still tomorrow night. I've wanted to see them live for a while, and I'm excited it finally worked out. They are taking next year off from touring, so this is sort of a "farewell for now" tour; and I'm especially happy to get the opportunity to see them play. Have a great weekend!
photo via last.fm
This week's Three Beautiful Things:
1. I have some amazing and inspiring friends. I got to watch from afar to see my friend Sara achieve her goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. This post literally brought tears to my eyes. Awesome. Now I get to look forward to cheering her on in Boston!
2. Mums. It seems that the front of every house - my own included - has mums and pumpkins on display. More red, orange, yellow, and purple to add to the gorgeous fall landscape.
3. The boys' halloween costumes arrived last night. It sent both of them squealing and chasing each other around the house.
We had a nice long weekend. A couple days in New York with very good friends, and a bonus day to relax at home. Perfect. A few highlights:
*Perfect weather - more like July than October.
*A visit to the Bronx Zoo. The boys loved running around the zoo and looking at animals.
*Saturday afternoon barbecue in the back yard. The kids played while the adults enjoyed drinks and conversation. More and more, the kids are able to attend to themselves, and I like this. A lot.
*Dinner was awesome - so glad we had one more opportunity to eat from the grill. Eggplant, peppers, onions, sausage, steak, burgers...served with mozzarella/tomato/basil salad and a good bottle of wine.
Goals for this week:
1. Take a break from blogging if needed. I know I'm here right now, but I may scale back the posting a bit.
2. Order the necessary items for my little guy's new "big boy" bedroom. I'm already misty at the thought of getting rid of the crib and the rocker...
3. Finish my book and choose the next one.
4. Try to take a few decent pictures of the boys together. This is a monumental task.
5. Bake an apple pie. (The vanilla ice cream is already in the freezer.)
Here is what it looked like last time I wrote about this, in the Spring of 2010. My little guy wasn't even one year old at that time, so things have definitely changed. Let's check in and see what the evening routine is like at our house these days.
As usual, all the times are "ish". If there is one thing I've learned, it's that schedules are necessary, but so is flexibility.
5:00 - Get home with the boys. Start to prepare dinner. The boys play.
5:45 - Eat dinner with the boys. Now that everyone is able to feed themselves, I'm actually able to eat, although I do find myself popping up a lot. (more milk, dropped spoon, forgot the dressing...)
6:15 - Clean up or Playtime. The boys usually play together while I clean up the kitchen. Sometimes there's a dance party. Sometimes we chase or wrestle or tickle. Sometimes we build and knock down buildings. I make sure to fit in some playtime every day. If we're having leftovers, I can do it before dinner. Other times, I take some time after dinner and postpone cleanup until after they're in bed.
6:45 - Bathtime. Still doing them together, and right now every other night, depending how messy they were during the day. Brush teeth, put on pajamas.
7:15 - Little guy's bedtime. I read a couple short picture books, sing a song, and say good-night. May he always be so easy.
7:15 - 7:45 - Big boy's storytime. We have been reading a few chapters each night. In-between chapter books, sometimes he'll want to go back to picking out a few picture books.
7:45 - 8:15 - Quality time with the internet - email, blog, reader...maybe make a phone call.
8:15 - 8:45 - Clean up (if I wasn't able to finish earlier), prepare lunches for the next day.
8:45 - Sit down! Enjoy a mug of ice cream with a little TV.
9:15 - 9:45 - Head to bed. Read.
10:30 - 11:00 - Lights out.*
*This is too late. I wake up at 5:45, so I average less than seven hours of sleep each night. I need eight. At least. I need to cut something out of this routine so I can get to bed earlier. I'm eyeing that half-hour I often spend at the computer. If you start seeing less of me here, it hopefully means I'm getting more sleep.
painting by Del-Bourree Bach - via pretty stuff
This week's Three Beautiful Things:
1. Happy news from a friend. A new, healthy baby boy.
2. After some tickles and hugs...Me, to the little boy: "I love you." Him, grinning a devilish grin: "Mac 'n Cheese." Me: "I looooove you." Him, now giggling hysterically: "Mac and Cheese!" Me, grinning and giggling too: "I love you!" Him: "I know! I love you too Mommy!" (Hard to capture that moment in writing, but I had to try. He is one precious love and a gigantic source of joy.
3. I managed to find a few minutes to spend with my guitar this week. It has been a while. My poor guitar needs a cleaning and some new strings, but that's okay. I spent some time strumming and singing. There is something so satisfying about the resulting sore fingers.
Finished this a couple weeks ago but forgot to tell you about it. It's very different from my usual read, but it was recommended to me by several friends, so I thought I'd give it a try. The Middle Place, by Kelly Corrigan. It's a memoir of a woman who battled breast cancer. At the same time that her father was also battling cancer. It's honest, and funny, and despite the topic, a pleasure to read.
*Images from Cooking Light
Turkey Burritos, Black Beans - My little boy ate three gigantic plates full of this. He just kept asking for more. It's a very easy recipe - just need some ground turkey and cheese, which I often have in my freezer, and the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples. Great for a Friday night.
Creamy Squash and Apple Soup, Whole Wheat Baguette - The boys did okay with this, but they didn't gobble it up like I had hoped. Personal preference - since the apple and onion are left whole, I'd prefer dicing them, or even mashing or pureeing them instead of slicing. It's a good recipe, but I've had better butternut squash soups/chowders.
Roast Chicken, Mashed Red Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad - I'd be okay being a vegetarian, and I could do better at it than I did when I was younger. I love all kinds of vegetables, and I already try to incorporate some meatless days into our family meal plans. That said, if I ever did go back to being a vegetarian, I would miss the smell of roast chicken.
Baked Haddock, Corn on the Cob - Enjoying the last of the season's corn while we can, and taking advantage of being able to buy fish straight from the harbor. I made the fish and corn and utilized leftovers. I had fish, corn, mashed potatoes, and green beans. The big boy had fish, corn, and a burrito (strange combo but whatever - he ate it all!). The little boy had a burrito and corn. They both stole green beans off my plate, which is just fine by me.
Chicken and Strawberry Salad - Inspired by this recipe, I used some of the leftover chicken to make a dinner salad. I loosely followed this recipe, except I used feta and walnuts instead of blue cheese and cashews. The boys ate it without the lettuce and did really well with it.
Another weirdly humid weekend. Where is the beautiful crisp cool autumn weather? Ah well. It'll be cold before we know it, I suppose. We had another nice, relaxing weekend. One where I managed to get a few things done around the house. I love those.
A few highlights...
*A trip to the farm, returning with a bag of Jonagold apples. My favorite. We are all eating lots of apples lately, and I haven't even been motivated to bake a pie yet.
*I roasted a chicken on Sunday, and the house smelled like a holiday. Warm, inviting, and delicious.
*The dark mornings are tough during the week, but I do appreciate them on the weekend. We are all sleeping just a little later than usual these days.
*Hanging out at the library. Watching the fish in the tank, playing at the train table and the big castle, and picking out new books to bring home. Does everybody love their local library as much as I do?
*Watching my big boy finger paint. He made a big mess, which is what it's all about, right? He also created some fabulous paintings. I need to get some frames.
Goals for this week:
1. Organize another closet. I did my office closet last week, and it felt so good. I need to keep it going.
2. Go to bed earlier. I keep adding this as a goal and failing miserably at it. I got decent sleep over the weekend, and I'm still pooped. I need more.
3. Call a friend. I hate talking on the phone, but I want to keep in touch.
4. Buy concert tickets for our next date night. Yay!
5. Slow down.