Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Even my eyelids are sweaty.

I am blogging quickly from the floor of my now-bare living room.  I'm blogging quickly because Uriah will be back any minute with Finn from daycare and I have missed my little boy today.  I'm blogging quickly because I'm going to have to invoke Radio Silence after this evening as we slowly start our trek north tomorrow morning and the fate of our world wide interwebs still remains unknown (what I'm saying is, I'm not really sure how soon we'll have the internet.).  I'm blogging quickly because I'm afraid if I sit to long, I may never get up again.  

My whole entire body is sweaty and tired (just the visual you needed on a Wednesday afternoon, right?) but we got that van loaded up in record time - dare I say it?  Quickly!  We have a few things to toss into our respective cars tomorrow morning and we'll need to run the vacuum over our entire house (because, you know, for the last year we've been living with wall to wall carpet.  I haven't held a broom for months!).  This move went so smooth I feel like I need to carry a wooden board around just so that I can continually knock on it.  May the unpacking be as quick and productive and painless as the packing.

See you later, alligators - next time...from Minnesota!

Monday, July 23, 2012

My favorite glass.

Moving update: the entire kitchen is packed with the exception of a few things we will need over the next couple of days - that in itself feels amazing.  Of every room in the house, the kitchen takes the most time and energy to pack.  We commenced with the paper plate eating yesterday afternoon.  Abby cleaned the crap out of both of the cars - weeks of beach sand adds up quickly and multiple trips between here and Minnesota over the past few weeks have turned up a plethora of funk in my car.  I still need to get in there with the Febreeze (I found a way to make it on Pinterest a few weeks ago, it's just not high on my list of priorities right now!) and I want to take both cars through the car wash but I can't decide if that's a pre-move or a post-move chore.  Today I'm so happy to be ahead of schedule that we were able to take a walk this morning (it was 91 degrees - not too thrilled about that, but now I feel energized!).  We are going to start taking apart furniture this afternoon and I plan to take the kids to the beach (and maybe even DQ for a cone!) as a treat for being such troopers.  

Anyway, my favorite drinking glass lately is a mason jar.  I'd be willing to get rid of all of my drinking glasses and just drink out of these jars for the rest of my days (not so sure Uriah would be willing to go that far, though.).  And my favorite thing to drink out of it?  Besides tea and iced coffee, water and well, you know, whatever I happen to be drinking at the time...a white wine spritzer.  The official cocktail of moving summer.

Besides looking pretty, they taste so good!  I found the recipe chicken-scratched on a scrap of paper, so I don't know exactly where I found it - probably on Pinterest, but it looked good so I thought I'd give it a whirl this weekend when Uriah's parents were visiting.  You can use any kind of white wine that you like.  We had two different bottles of Pinot Grigio laying around so I combined them (cause I live on the edge like that!).  They tasted fine and as an added bonus - less to move!  You can also use whatever kind of clear soda you like, Uriah picked up some Sprite Zero - you know, so my cocktail could be "healthy."  I though it would be total crap but was actually pretty good (except that once you open a 2 liter, it's only fizzy for about a day and a half max.).  
  • 2 bottles of white wine
  • 1 can pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 6 oz. fresh raspberries
  • 7-up, Sprite, Sierra Mist 
  • Lime wedges
In the bottom of a pitcher, roughly mash some of the raspberries (not quite half).  Add the wine and the pink lemonade concentrate and mix well.  You can chill it at this point, or you can just do as I did and dive right in to making your cocktail.  Put some ice in a glass (or mason jar) add a couple of raspberries, a wedge or two of lime and then fill about half-way with wine-lemonade mixture.  Top it off with some sprite and let happy hour(s) begin!

Like drinks or drinking or drinking glasses?  Head over to I Should Be Folding Laundry and check out this week's challenge: Drinks!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I am on a mission.

What I love most about moving - (I know, that is an oxymoron.  And coming from my mouth, it's almost blasphemous.) - anyway, what I love most about moving is that my hoarding tendencies become glaringly obvious and as opposed to finding myself on the next episode of Hoarders, I am throwing away 12 of the 13 scribbled pictures that Finn did in January.  I am throwing away a half-eaten box of Girl Scout cookies I found in the back of a cupboard, along with a jar of baby food and some old-ass Halloween candy as well as some recent candy that no one in this house needs to eat.  I am throwing away our home-made play dough; I can make more after the move.  I am donating shoes and shirts and even a jacket that I will never wear again.

I may be living in chaos for the next few days; I may have several more anxiety attacks as to whether or not everything will fit in the moving truck (every time I go into the garage, the piles of boxes has grown exponentially and I'm worried.  It makes my heart beat really fast.), but I have sloughed off a lot of crap in the last few weeks and that feels good.  And whatever doesn't fit?  I'll probably pitch or donate that stuff, too!

At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Oh, teenage hopes.

No hair coloring.  No perms (yes, that's right - a perm!). Limited wardrobe options for back to school.  Limited make-up.  Books over PG-13 movies.  Can't have the room attached to the garage (it will become the guest room because it's not even attached the house.).  Her life is so hard these days, what with me dashing her hopes and dreams left and right.  It's a wonder she'll be able to make it through 8th grade with any friends (or so I'm told.).

From Kansas City, when the angst was in full gear:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Simplicity. Harmony. Opportunity.

Clutter abounds.
There are boxes everywhere and I have already packed things that I think I won't need between now and next week, but really - we're having guests this weekend (Uriah's parents are visiting before we move to Europe - that's what his mom is calling our move, anyway - and the drive to visit grows from 7 hours to 10 hours.) and I packed all the towels last week except the four I thought we'd need.  You know, being a family of 4 and all.  Apparently a few of us will be sharing this weekend.  And by a few of us, I mean Uriah, Finn and I will be sharing a towel.

Discord is around every corner.
Finn wants to help me clean, which is sweet and I totally can't wait until he's big enough to scrub the toilet because I hate that job more than anything else.  But really, Scrubbin' Bubbles and a 2 year old sounds like the precursor to a quick ER trip, so I abstained from starting his training too early.  Anyway, while I was elbow deep in bath tub funk, Finn took it upon himself to get a snack.  He wanted cake.  He knew it was in the refrigerator.  And after a period of quiet that lasted too long for my mom-radar, I found him half-way in the refrigerator, rooting around for his snack.

Moving is difficult.
My back is sore, which worries me a little bit because last time we moved I messed that thing up for weeks, so I'm being very careful - you know, lift with your knees and all that crap.  I'm worried that not everything will fit in our truck.  I have lists for my lists and even though I know that we're on schedule, I keep thinking that one small slip - one thing not checked each day - will completely throw us off track.

Simplicity. Harmony. Opportunity.
Instead of losing my mind, which is my usual MO for moving, I am taking more deep breaths.  I am letting more things go.  I am throwing things away that I've hung on to for no reason.  I remind myself daily that this clutter is okay - it means we're on the right track.  The half empty-closets and drawers mean we're half-way there.  The difficult children, the tempers and the tears, are because they are feeling as uprooted and unsteady as I am and I need to be patient and kind with my words.  Everything that we did wrong last time we moved - and we did a lot of things wrong, we are trying to do right this time.

Growth comes slowly and sometimes can't be seen or measured until we encounter a similar situation down the road.  In spite of the clutter, discord, and difficulty, I feel so much better about this spot in the road that I am at.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It all comes full circle.

This story actually starts a year and a half ago, when my baby was small and the world was covered with snow.  When Christmas was no more than a few weeks away and our world, mine really, started to take on a precarious tilt toward the unknown.

December 2010
We took a trip that wasn't as much a get-away, as it was a let's see if we can get away with this life-style.  We headed to the North Shore of Lake Superior at the beginning of December in 2010.  The scenery was beautiful, not overly cold and not too much snow - until we drove home; then it snowed like the dickens.  During the 10 hour drive back to the relative warmth of Missouri, we discussed the pros and cons of such a huge move, the quickness of their time-frame for wanting Uriah to start, where we would live and how insurance would work, switching schools in the middle of the school year for Abby.  The timing wasn't right for us (I'll be honest - mostly for me.) and we ultimately stayed in Missouri until Uriah took the job in Iowa last year.

And Iowa, for the most part, has been good to us.  We reveled in the small-town life, the ability to walk to the grocery store and the park.  We made library friends and Abby walked to school every single day.  It afforded us the opportunity for me to stay home for awhile and work part-time when I decided I needed to get out of the house and Finn needed some small-person interaction.  Iowa gave me the time to loose some weight, to get on a healthy eating plan, to embrace exercise.  Abby thrived in her school, playing volleyball, basketball and being part of band and choir.  Yes, Iowa has been good to us.  

June 2012
Earlier this summer, however, circumstances in Iowa changed for our family, and we took a family vacation that was equal parts fun and work to the same place we were a year and a half ago.  Once again, we asked ourselves: can we get away with this life-style now?  We dived head-first into the area, looking at neighborhoods, schools and parks.  We discussed the pros and cons of changing schools for the third time in as many years, loading up a U-haul again, getting to know a new area, a new way of life, being a longer distance from both of our families.  And based on so many discussions that I'm pretty sure I was ready to move to Australia (where it never snows), Uriah accepted a job on the North Shore of Lake Superior last week.  

We are moving our family once again, this time to Minnesota.  This time, everything seems to have come together smoothly.  And I am comfortable with the move...I am looking forward to it, even.  Maybe not so much the snow and winter (Duluth gets about 5 feet of snow annually), but I plan to tackle that only when I have to and not a moment sooner.  Abby...well, she'll make her own way in a new town, with new friends to make and a new school to conquer.  She always comes through smelling like roses, that girl.  Finn will get to see trains and big boats pretty much on a daily basis and our new house is only 2 blocks from the park.  Uriah's already talking about learning to kayak on Lake Superior and camping in the state parks that abound up the shore.  

I'm just happy to have Minnesota license plates again.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Here I go again.

Finn and I dusted off the race car stroller again this morning, after nearly a month of ignoring it.  We went early - or what I thought was going to be early enough to beat the heat.  It wasn't, the thermometer on the bank said 77 degrees already at 8:20,  so we'll be out earlier tomorrow morning.  I ran, but only just a little bit.  Pieces that were on the cusp of not jiggling a month ago had a little extra bounce this morning.  I'm confident that by the end of August, we'll be back to our old, less jiggled daily walk/run routine.  Finn's attention span is a lot shorter these days, and about half-way through the walk, he was ready to be "all done."  I had to bribe him with promises of seeing the sheep and cows on the farm that we walk past.  It worked for a little bit, but I'm getting the feeling that I'll have to up the running ante in order to make this walk a little shorter time-wise, while still getting our 4-5 miles in.  I've joined another 100 miles in 3 months Challenge, and I'm determined to get to that up to the 200 mile mark by the end of September.  Let's just say, I have some catching up to do, but I will not be deterred.

Lots to do today...lots to do for the next few weeks, actually, but the summer is winding down and soon we will have the buzz of back-to-school (Abby has already made her list.  She made it weeks ago, actually.) and yellow and orange leaves and routine.  I love routine.

In the meantime, let's revel in summer for just a little bit longer.  Here are some black and whites from our vacation to the North Shore a few weeks ago:

I'm getting back into my blogging groove and my exercising groove and my weight loss groove; I feel like I've been on summer hiatus this past month, and I have lots to share.  Stop by tomorrow and I will have some big news for you.

Can you barely contain your excitement?  I know that I can't!

And, one more thing: If you'd like to see some more black and whites from this week's photo challenge, head over to I Should Be Folding Laundry and take a peek.  Next week the challenge is Drinks, and I'm pretty sure I'll be all over that one!  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dining al fresco.

We haven't been eating outside as much this summer as I would like.  Usually we have at least one meal a week outside during the warm months, but not so much this year.  My menu planning hasn't been the greatest lately, I've felt a bit like I'm scrambling to toss something together these past few weeks, or Uriah has something on the table and before I can suggest we eat outside, the dishes are done and the kids are getting ready for bed.  I vow to do better for the rest of July and August.  

The few times that we have taken a detour from our normal dining room table and transplanted ourselves outside, it has been glorious. The conversation seems to flow in a different pattern (if you can call Abby's constant chatter and Finn pointing out every bird and airplane conversation.  These days, I do.).  We linger a little bit longer over a glass of wine and the kids seem more apt to chase each other around the yard and practice somersaults and cartwheels until their knees are grass-stained and their sides hurt from laughing.

I'm still looking for lighter summer options in an attempt to lighten my own frame (I'll probably have a weight update later this week.).  We've tried a few options that won't see a repeat on our menus, but the Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is already in the queue to be had again.  I know what you're thinking - spaghetti?  In the summer?  To that I say: Yes!  Absolutely!  The sauce isn't a heavy traditional tomato sauce.  The spaghetti noodles were whole wheat and we paired it with a big, fat salad (and a big, fat glass of wine for the adults!).  Don't be put off by the anchovies.  I promise, you only need a small amount of them to add some salt to the sauce and you wouldn't even know that they're there unless you made the meal.  They don't add any sort of fishy taste at all.  And the capers, too, add another layer to this sauce, but it doesn't use a lot, so again, you probably wouldn't even know they were in there.  Abby usually doesn't like capers but she ate this spaghetti and didn't bat a pretty little eyelash.  Finn, of course, is being groomed to eat what's for dinner and he asked for more when he finished his plate the first time.  I love healthy eaters!

A light summer meal that's kid friendly?  Check and check.
We need to eat outside more often!  

  • ¼  cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 28.2-oz can whole, peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • 4-5 fresh large basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • ½ - ¾  cup Kalamata olives, halved and pitted*
  • 3 anchovy fillets, chopped**
  • 1 ½  tablespoons drained capers
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½  teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½  pound spaghetti
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the fresh basil and the tomatoes, squeezing the large tomatoes until they break up into smaller pieces (you can rough chop them before you add them, but I sort of like the feeling of squishing those tomatoes!).  Add olives, anchovies, capers, oregano, and crushed red pepper.  Simmer sauce over medium heat until thickened, about 8 minutes, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon as necessary.  Season with salt and pepper.

While your sauce is simmering, cook pasta until it is tender, but still a little bit firm to bite.  Drain pasta; add to pot with pasta sauce and toss to coat.  Serve with cheese.

Makes 4 servings.
Adapted from Bon Appetite Magazine, January 2008
*I found Kalamata olives at the grocery store that were already pitted.  I added extra.  I love olives.
**Double trust me on this, the salty-ness of the anchovies is so good and, unless you are a food-hound, undetectable in the sauce.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

We kept him alive for another 365 days.

Finn likes:
  • trucks and cars and motorcycles and tractors
  • airplanes
  • books of all kinds
  • playing outside
  • pretending to fall down
  • Kitty Kitty
  • swimming
  • robots
  • fishing
  • playing with his school friends
  • going to the library
  • hugs and kisses
  • sleeping in mommy & daddy's bed
  • watching for the garbage truck
I like:
  • that he's much more verbal
  • he plays and uses his imagination
  • he likes to snuggle for story time before bed
  • he gives hugs and kisses freely
  • walks are always an adventure
  • everything is very interesting: rocks, birds, helicopters, the bathroom
  • he misses me when I'm gone and hugs me hard when I get home
  • he's got a mind of his own and his personality (a bit hard-headed) is starting to blossom
This next year is going to be so full of changes - more than the past year, I'm sure.  More independence.  More imagination.  More personality.  I can't wait to see what the next year of this kiddo's life brings, because these past two years have blown my mind!

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy. 
You remain the best thing that ever happened to me.

See Finn's First 12 Months of pictures here.
Read about Finn's First birthday here and here.

Friday, July 13, 2012


This boy turns 2 tomorrow.  I'll probably spend today much like I did last year: watching the clock and remembering what I was doing 2 years ago - mostly walking the halls and waiting, wishing for a snack, sneaking sips of Uriah's coke. Remembering all the little details of that pre-birthday day and night in the hospital and feeling the anticipation build again, although this time I'm looking forward to a birthday party and not a birth day. Tomorrow we will have a party and we will do Finn's favorite things: swim, play cars, read stories. But today I will remember what it took to get us to this point. And how very lucky we are.

2 years goes by so fast.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tour de Tween.

Abby, according to Uriah, is the Lance Armstrong of the menstrual cycle.
Hormones on high alert and tears around every single corner.
Just when you think you're in the home stretch and the end is in sight...BAM!
She passes you on the left with a swift kick to your sanity.

From our trip to Kansas City last month, when the hormones were in check:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Vacation in Instagram: Part Two

We have arrived!
There's nothing better than exploring the shore,
it's like getting to know an old friend all over again.

There's nothing better than watching your kids explore the shore.
And getting to know your own old friends all over again.
"Hello, Jim Beam.  It's been a long drive and I've missed you."

Breakfast of champions.
Finn and I are usually up before everyone else. 
He played with his cars and sticks.
I got to read my book and watch the rain clouds roll in.
I wish every morning could be that easy.

After a full morning and afternoon of rain, the evening brought some sun.
Finn "fished" in the tide pools and got wet up to his knees and elbows.
I guess that's what having a boy is: dirt and wetness and rocks and sticks.
Abby busied herself with a new book and movies on the tv in her room.

I bailed on the evening trip to the pool in favor of a jacuzzi bath.
And some read time.
By myself.
My version of vacation.

Another stop on the way back down.
We extended our vacation by a night and stayed at my parents house.
Vacation is always over so quickly -
much faster than the time spent anticipating it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vacation in Instagram: Part One

  • Finn gets bored really, really easy so I made him listen to books on tape.
  • It helps to have the book to go along with the tape.
  • Dumbo is not so fun when you're just listening to the story and there's is not one thing to look at.
  • Finn likes to tell me he pooped when he wants a break from his car seat.
  • He is clever.  He knows I will stop if he says, "Poop.  Poop.  Poop." enough times.
  • 3 times out of 4 it was just pee.
  • Then he gets to stretch his legs.
  • Abby laughs out loud randomly at movies that she's seen a hundred times.
  • Sometimes she snorts.
  • She can get 5 (large) books from the library and have them finished in half a day.
  • She will be reading War & Peace this summer.
  • Uriah doesn't like my direction giving, probably because I use the same monotone voice that a GPS would use.
  • We don't have GPS.  We have Heather.  Total win, I think.

"I drove all night to get to you.  Is that all right?  I drove all night..."
Name that artist.
I'll give you a hint: It's Celine Dion.
I love her.

City skylines look pretty but I hate traffic.
But I love the opportunities that cities provide: 
parks and museums and Starbucks.
But I hate traffic.  It gives me anxiety.
See all of the cars on the road?  Too much traffic.

Abby proved that merry-go-rounds know no age limit.

This place makes about 1 zillion different kind's of brats.
Their slogan is: "Our wurst is best."
That is a correct statement.  It is the best.  
I am getting more next time we are up north.

Swing on over here again tomorrow for Part 2.
That was so lame, I know, but I want an ice cream cone 
and I couldn't come up with a witty conclusion fast enough.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Antiques Malls & Flea Markets & Friends

My friend Bees came to visit last weekend.  She's a good Polish girl and she likes to drink, burp, and look at antiques.  All qualities I find admirable in a friend.  We talked about boys (the ones I live with and the ones she does not), healthcare, politics and religion.  We laughed at inside jokes.  She stayed an entire extra day (even though I was working) and showed my husband how to be The Hero (laundry was done, plants were re-potted, antiques were procured - all under the direct supervision of Bees.).  

I got a few random pieces of new dinnerware for less than half of what I'd pay for one place setting of Fiestaware, which is what I really, really want.  However, budgets being what they are, I'm limited these days.  At less than a dollar a piece for the plates (and a little bit more for the cups), I think I'll be scouring from now on for more pieces to add.  And I'll also be doing a little bit of research to find out more about this stuff.

I could have procured all of this bright and fun dinnerware (especially the yellow syrup jar! And there was a bright orange juice pitcher that I drooled over for 12 whole minutes.), but even I recognize that my kids need to eat something more substantial than cheerios three times a day.  I guess I need to save my pennies.  And have another garage sale.

Uriah threw up a little bit when I told him that I want this chair for our living room.  Since I sold our couch in the garage sale a few months ago, we've been surviving with Larry the Leather chair and the rocking chair from Finn's room.  Obviously we don't entertain  much at all because there's no place for anyone to sit.  Our living room looks pretty empty, but I haven't found a couch that I like, nor one that's in my budget (which is currently at $0, so you can see where finding a couch in that price range might prove to be a little difficult.).  This chair, however, has such great potential that I haven't been able to stop thinking about it for days.

I found these for both of my sisters who like Frankoma.  It never really was my thing, although I have fond memories of my mom making tuna hotdish on Friday nights in her green Frankoma covered casserole dish when I was growing up.  I think most of my mom's pieces have been permanently loaned to my sisters.

I needed a friend last weekend (even though I worked a lot and so Uriah played hostess in my absence, which I think he needed, too.) and Bees made me laugh and forget about life for awhile, which is easy to do when you're sorting through the detritus of dusty antiques malls and flea markets!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Well, hello July...

Did you realize that it's already July?  JULY!  Of course you did.  You are prepared for life and the fact that the days become weeks and the weeks become months and those months change names.  Finn will be 2 next week.  I've been working on the 12 pictures from this last year and it sort of makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth.  Next week I will share them with you, in the meantime, you can see his first 12 pictures here.  He's galloping through this life at record speed, I think.  I guess that means we're about the head into the terrible two's in a terrible way (although, truth be told, we are already there and have been for some time.).  He's got some molars coming in and his little brain is just moving faster than his little mouth and limbs can handle.  Melt downs occur for a number of reasons and the steadily increasing temperature only adds to the hot, sweaty mess writhing on my floor.  I'm always amazed when he sits up, wipes his eyes with his little fists and tells me, "Done crying."  Just as quickly as it started, it ends.  Like a summer rain storm (the likes of which I haven't seen much of lately.).

And Abby...oh, Abby.  She's been trying my patience these days.  She prances around in jeans and tank tops.  Jeans in 90 degree weather seems to be a perfectly logical clothing option.  And she begged for a real two-piece swimming suit this summer (last year she had a tankini, but that is for elementary school girls, obvs.), so when she was in Kansas City, Uriah's mom got her a cute pink bikini top to wear with the black tankini bottoms from last year.  Really a cute (and inexpensive) combo.  Except that she won't wear the bathing suit top without a t-shirt.  For as fast as Finn's babyhood seems to be flying by, I can tell you that these tween years are going by at a record slow pace.  I agonizingly slow pace.

From our road trip to Minnesota a few weekends ago, an accurate representation of my life: