January 30, 2013

Doing What's Best...

It seems that every few months, a new article or book or blog post reignites the age-old "working mom vs. stay-at-home mom" debate.   This week, it's this post that appeared on Huffington Post.   Personally, I liked it.  I thought it was reasonable and thoughtful, and she attempted to communicate without passing judgment.  Then I read some of the comments and started shaking my head.  Although there were some supportive words, there were far too many of the judgmental and or even downright mean ones.  Why can't we all be secure enough in our own choices to allow others to do the same?   When will we realize that there is no right answer for everyone?  There is only the right answer for each family, and even then that answer can often change with time and circumstances.  

I've been a mom-who-also-works-in-an-office for years, and I recently joined the ranks of the stay-at-home-moms.  I've seen both sides, and I understand the positives and negatives of both, if only in terms of my own experience.  I also understand that there are so many shades of gray in-between.  I have friends who work part-time, or who work different shifts from their husbands so they can alternate who stays home with the kids, women whose husbands stay at home, moms who have parents or siblings close by who can help, single moms who make it work, women who work because they have to, and women who work because they want to...  And even when a family finds something that works for them, situations can change.  Imagine how a family's choices may change if they find out a child has special needs.  Or if one of them loses their job.  Or if they have to start taking care of their elderly parents.  Or if that mom or dad is offered an exciting job opportunity.  Or if one of them has to start traveling more for work.  Every situation is completely unique.  I would never presume to know all the nuances that go into deciding what is right for someone else's family.  

I also know that the world is a better place with women doctors, senators, teachers, CEOs, nurses, filmmakers, artists...  Thank goodness there are so many women out there who are able to take on these jobs, regardless of whether or not they also decide to have children.

This endless debate is tiresome to me.  I plan to continue to do what's best for me and my family.  I'm going to hope and assume that everyone else out there is doing the same.  Can we just leave it at that?

January 29, 2013

Valentine's Day Cards

In trying to decide what to do for Valentine's Day this year, I looked at a number of options.  I had several ideas pinned, including ones using swedish fish, these cute happy hearts offering candy, rice krispie hearts, pictures of your child offering lollipops, and these really sweet painted cards.  I was leaning towards that last idea, but then I was reminded that Aaron had ideas of his own!

He suggested that I just give him blank paper and envelopes so that he could create valentines for each person in his class.  I hesitated for a second, only because it sounded like a lot of work; but we still have over two weeks, and it's a great indoor activity.  He's been knocking out a couple every night, so he will be done in plenty of time.  I love watching and listening as he decides how to personalize each card for his friends.  "Kaitlyn's has to have lots of rainbows, because she loves rainbows!  I'm going to put some matchbox car stickers on Matthew's, because he loves cars.  Emma is going to get extra glitter sparkly hearts and stars, because she loves anything with sparkles."  And the list goes on...

So that's what we're doing.  I got a set of blank envelopes, and he's hand-making each card.  He is even decorating the front of every envelope!  He also chose the goody to put inside - red heart lollipops.  I love the thought he is putting into these, and he's having a lot of fun doing it!  

January 28, 2013

Homeland Weekend

This weekend consisted of:

*A visit from my mother-in-law
*Belated Christmas presents for the boys - new board games from their great-aunt
*Lunch at a local Jewish deli
*Homemade pizza - we are going to start doing that more often again
*A little cleaning and organizing - Kevin made all our bathroom fixtures shine again, and I sorted through the boys clothes (don't need those 2Ts anymore!)
*New configuration for the marble run
*Hanging two new prints on our family room wall
*Valentine's Day cards
*Sunday morning at the ski hill.  The boys got a few runs in, but unfortunately, it was so cold, windy, and crowded (ski racers!), that we didn't stay long.
*Homeland!  We received Season 1 for Christmas and finally started it.  We are of course hooked, and are starting to catch up to the rest of the world.  We only have two episodes left!  Season 2 comes out at the end of August.

January 25, 2013

Denver - The Way It Is

Check out Denver, a band made up of members of Blitzen Trapper and Alela Diane's band.  Here's a link to their album , if you want to check out more.  Because of their name, and self-titled album, they can be hard to find amidst all the John Denver and Denver, Colorados of the world.  ;-)

Happy Friday!

January 23, 2013

My Evening Routine

I haven't done one of these in a while.  Here is what my evening routine looked the last time I wrote about it, over a year ago.  It's actually not very different, except one significant difference:  I am not forced to start the evening festivities after a full day's work at the office, a long commute, and picking up boys from day care.  Now, I am able to prepare ahead of time and ease into it.  The difference is striking.

4:00 - Get home with the boys.  Start to prepare dinner and/or play.  (One night a week we get home late after Aaron has baseball - leftover night!)
5:45 - Eat dinner with the boys.  I'm still popping up a lot (Nathan's still pretty messy), but most nights are pretty relaxed.  Dinner conversation with a 3 and 6-year-old is always entertaining.
6:15 - Clean up the kitchen.  There is still very often some dancing after dinner.  Then the boys play and eat their dessert (fruit) while I finish cleaning.
6:45 - Bathtime.  I only have to do one now.  Aaron is independent and chooses showers a lot of nights.  It's getting easier!
7:15 - 7:45 - Storytime/Bedtime.  Most nights I do them together.  If Nathan is really tired, then I sometimes read him a story while Aaron's in the shower and get his lights out early.  Sometimes he falls asleep while I'm reading stories to both of them.  Aaron gets stories, but then he also reads by himself for a while before turning his lights out.
8:00 - 8:30 - Pack lunch/snack for the next day, review calendar, work on lists (I always have a list that needs work - the to-do list, the to-buy list, the grocery list, the menu...).  During this time Kevin usually gets home and eats his dinner, so we get a chance to talk and catch up.
8:30ish - Enjoy a little dessert with some TV.
9:30ish - Bedtime.  Quality time with a book.
10 - 10:30.  Lights out.*

*Because of the more relaxed days, I've found we've been able to get to bed just a tad earlier, and we're also able to wake up just a little later.  (Neither of us have to commute all the way downtown anymore!)   In short, we are getting enough sleep!  It's amazing.  You should try it.  I'm not saying I'm not tired sometimes - Nathan had me up from 2-4AM last night, so I'm pooped today - but most of the time I feel on top of things, which is so different from a year ago.

January 22, 2013

Long Weekend Recap

We had a quiet long weekend at home.  Quiet doesn't mean not fun, though.  Sometimes a quiet weekend at home is absolutely perfect.  We spent a lot of time playing scrabble, watching sports, reading, and enjoying snacks in front of the fireplace.  

On Saturday night, Kevin and I enjoyed a night out.  We had drinks and dessert at our favorite place, and we then saw Silver Linings Playbook.  Really, really good.  I'm not sure what I expected, but it was even better than I thought it would be.  I didn't even realize going in how many Oscars it was nominated for!  Having seen it, I'm so happy the actors were nominated, because they made absolutely beautiful performances.  The movie is sweet, funny, emotional, surprising, and ultimately rewarding. 

We spent Sunday at our local ski hill.  It was warm and slushy, but it was an opportunity for the boys to practice, and it was worth it.  Nathan is as focused as your typical 3-year-old boy, but it does feel like he made a little progress.  I get so excited when I think about the coming years and family ski trips.  Spending all day outside makes it feel even better to spend the afternoon/evening in front of the fireplace.  More scrabble, more games, more snacks...  

Monday was the bonus day.  We went to a school fundraiser at a gymnastics place.  The boys had a blast running around with their friends, and Kevin and I had the opportunity to use their fitness center to get in a workout.  A perfectly lovely weekend all around...

Silver Linings Playbook

Lots and lots of running and playing superheroes

January 21, 2013

Menu of the Week

Pictures from Dinner: A Love Story and Martha Stewart

Here's a look at what we ate last week...

Apricot-Mustard Baked Chicken, Green Beans, Roasted Potatoes
This is the first recipe I've tried from my new cookbook - Dinner:  A Love Story (She also has a great blog.)  As promised, it's very easy, and the flavor is great.  Wonderful dinner for a cold and dreary Sunday night.  

Fish Cakes, Honey-Glazed Carrots, Corn
The Fish Cakes recipe also came from Dinner:  A Love Story (sorry no recipe online).  They were a little difficult to handle, but I think I just made them too big.  I made the second batch smaller, and they came out better.  The taste was great.  Aaron, my big seafood fan, of course loved it.  Nathan wouldn't touch it.  Every now and then Nathan just eats a big plate of carrots for dinner, and I'm okay with this.  

Red Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
I LOVED this salad!  It has wonderful flavor and it's a great salad for Winter.  I think of my vegetarian mother and sister whenever I find a veggie recipe I like.  (Mom and Emily - TRY THIS!  I know you would both love it and it's ridiculously easy.)  I used leftover green beans instead of frozen but otherwise made it as written.

Sausage Kale and White Bean Soup, Crusty Bread
I've made something similar before, but this was a new recipe, and I liked it better.  I don't think it needs any added salt - with the sausage and broth, it is savory enough.  Nathan wouldn't eat it, although he did try a bite; but Aaron had two big bowls of it!  I don't mind serving some sausage if it helps get the kale down.  

Spaghetti with Tuna, Lemon and Breadcrumbs, Crusty Bread
This recipe is super easy and definitely economical.  Great for this time of year, and great for the end of the week, since it relies mostly on pantry items.  Nathan opted for regular spaghetti sauce (can you tell he's my picky one?), but Aaron ate a ton of it!  I did too.  Oh, and we did add a little parmesan on top.  

January 18, 2013

Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams

I've been listening to a lot of sparse, quiet music lately.  I guess that's the mood of winter.  A lot of classical.  A lot of solo female singer-songwriters.  This album has crept into the rotation, though, and after a couple months, it's sinking in and I'm really loving it.  Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams.

January 16, 2013

The Little Things...

My kitchen counter

Long-time readers may have noticed that I haven't posted a Three Beautiful Things post in a while.   I'm not sure why, but I think the format just started to feel stale to me.  Maybe a little forced.  I do miss capturing those little, often seemingly insignificant moments or things, though.  Those little things are the best stuff of life, and although they may not be interesting as a blog post on their own, I nonetheless want to continue to document some of them here.  So every now and then, I am going to capture some of these little things...

*Aaron was sick one day last week and stayed home from school.  This is of course not a good thing, but we ended up having a really nice day together.  He spent the entire morning on the couch, reading books.  After Nathan got home, we played games and colored and read more books and Aaron tried to nap.  Neither boy whined or asked to watch TV or go on the computer.  How nice!

*The boys have started baseball.  I love watching them run around and have fun, and I'm so excited that they are excited about it.

*Meyer lemons are available!  Get some and make these lemon bars.  You won't regret it.  (Note:  I increase the lemon juice and decrease the sugar by a bit, because I like mine more on the tart side.  Yum!)  I love having a pan of goodness on my counter.

*Avocados are currently on sale, too, and I've begun each day this week with an avocado spread on whole wheat toast.  Eating this after starting the day with a little exercise makes me feel like I'm doing a good job taking care of me.

*I have been listening to this quite a bit lately:  Elgar & Carter Cello Concertos.  It's spectacular.  If you have any appreciation for the cello, you really must go listen.  (You can read more about Alisa Weilerstein and listen to a little here on NPR.)

I got two new cookbooks for Christmas and love them both

The living room is very slowly coming together.  Here are our latest additions.

My second favorite spot in the house (#1 goes to my clawfoot bathtub).  

January 11, 2013

Shovels & Rope - Lay Low

I'm not sure how this happened, but I realized that I haven't shared a Shovels & Rope song here yet.  Well let me rectify that now!  Their album is definitely one of my favorites from last year, and every time I play it I hear something new.  I love this song and this video, and I hope you do too.  

January 9, 2013

I Resolve To...

In general, I don't do a list of resolutions every year anymore.  I found they always looked the same.  More exercise, less TV.  More vegetables, less pessimism.  More books, more water, more letters to friends...

I decided instead to find one thing to focus on during the year.  Last year, my resolution was More Music.  Specifically, it meant picking up my guitar every day.  Well,  I did great the first half of the year, but once demolition started and there were workers at my house every day, the time with my guitar decreased.  I will pick it back up, though.  And we did manage to attend quite a few music concerts last year, which always makes me happy.  Music is something I love and will always strive to have in my life.  I'm also hoping a used piano finds its way into my life at some point in the near future.  

source unknown

This year, I'm going to make this my motto:  Be Present.  I used to be a mom who also worked in an office - I'm convinced there's nobody better at multi-tasking and organizing a week better than a working mother.  I was always focused on multiple things because I had to.  This year, both because I'm not working and also because my boys aren't babies anymore, I've been given a gift of being able to focus my attention on one thing at a time.  

I'll be honest - this is not an easy transition to make.  I still often find myself scattered.  I'm getting better, though, and I'm resolved to become an expert at really being wherever I am.  When I'm at the playground with the boys, I will be with them, playing or watching.  I will put down my phone and only check it when it rings (if I must).  I will tackle one item on my list at a time, doing it well and to completion.  I will look around and take in my surroundings.  I will immerse myself in beauty.  I will be there for my family and friends.  I will appreciate every second of my life.  

January 8, 2013

A Few Movies...

We're getting ready to enter the dead zone of movies - although some of the December releases are still out, most movies that come out to the theaters between January and Memorial Day are crap - so I thought I'd share a few rentals that we've enjoyed recently.

Pitch Perfect - I laughed throughout this movie - loudly.  It was predictable and geared towards girls much younger than me, and yet I enjoyed every minute of it.  My husband did too!  He even stayed awake until the end, which is saying something.  Highly entertaining and one I absolutely recommend!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - A sweet, beautiful, and thoughtful movie.  It's based on the novel by the same name, and it's about a boy named Charlie.  He's a freshman in high school, and he becomes friends with a group of seniors.  It's about first love, loss, friendship, bullies, internal struggles, and more.   I also enjoyed the music choices - probably because the story is set in 1991-1992, which was my own senior year.  Mostly, though, I just loved the story.  

Arbitrage - It's a suspenseful movie, and the acting is tremendous.  I am not even a really big Richard Gere fan, but this is his type of role.  I was sucked in the entire time.

January 7, 2013

Weekend Recap

From warm and sunny Barcelona to cold and snowy Home.  The boys were really excited to come home to snow.  We spent Thursday on the beach and Saturday sledding and making a snowman.  In addition to fun in the snow, Saturday mostly consisted of laundry and cleaning.  Our Christmas tree and decorations were all still out, so we had to pack everything up.  

On Sunday, we battled jet lag and decided to get in our first day of skiing for the season.  I'm so glad we did.  Aaron got his confidence back after a single run, and Nathan and I spent the morning practicing.  This was only his second day skiing, so while he loves going down the hill, he hasn't quite mastered stopping.  My arms are a little sore from all the catching.  

Goals for this week:
1.  Get everyone over jet lag and back on schedule.  
2.  Clean and start tackling some organizing projects around the house.  January is the best month for these.
3.  Exercise every day.  After last month's back injury, I couldn't exercise for several weeks.  That in combination with the typical holiday excesses and I am feeling it.  I got in a little workout this morning, so I'm off to a good start.  
4.  Start researching our next trip.  Maybe a weekend ski trip.  Spring break trip down to North Carolina.
5.  Plan next week's dinner menu and include at least one recipe from my new cookbook.  

January 6, 2013


We're back!  The day after Christmas, we packed up, said good-bye to most of our presents (Ironman made the trip), and started the long journey to Spain.  Jet lag was a challenge, but I actually seem to be suffering a bit more after the return home than I did while in Barcelona.  I took a nap the first day, because I didn't sleep at all on the plane, but then I was good to go.  The boys handled the trip well too thank goodness.  

Highlights from our time include an afternoon walking through the old quarter, enjoying lunch in a little square while the boys ran around chasing pigeons.  We stopped at a candy stand in one of the largest markets to enjoy gummy creatures and gawk at all the cool produce and products available.  We spent a day at a Science Museum, which all the boys loved - especially Aaron.  We stayed for a show at the planetarium.  We took the boys ice skating, and we spent a generous amount of time exploring the city's playgrounds.  We ate lunch out almost every day, and every day was sunny.  We drank too much cava and celebrated the new year with a mouthful of grapes, keeping with the Spanish tradition.  We played Scrabble - we took turns winning, and Aaron became an excellent scorekeeper.  

On our last day, we traveled down to the beach and had my favorite day of the vacation.  We had an incredibly awesome lunch where everybody liked their food (even the 3 and 4 year-olds!) and the white wine was crisp and refreshing on yet another warm and sunny day.  The boys played in the sand, venturing closer and closer to the water until they had rolled up their pants and got their feet wet.  They ran away from the waves until the waves took two of them down.  (It had to happen, didn't it?)  It was a great ending to a fun time.  

I love attempting to capture some of the craziness when a number of us get together.  This last picture is a good one.  My mom and I aren't in the shot, but this is what a lot of our time looked like.  Good fun family time.  


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