january highlights

So far, 2016 has been go go go. Great great great. That's cheesy way to summarize, but it's totally accurate. We've had a lot going on so far this year, but it's been all good things. No better way to summarize than in pictures:

^^fancy clothes + family pizza night to ring in 2016.^^

^^new year's day walk around sloan's lake. it was COLD. cam had a busted lip from falling on our shoe bin.^^

^^my parents came to visit mid-month. we went to the western stock show. willa had new boots from texas thanks to her aunt and uncle. she got a light-up hat courtesy of her grandparents. she was thrilled about all of the above.^^

^^lunch at osaka ramen. i was sick and probably shouldn't have even been there, but willa was full of energy!^^

^^i'm not sure i've expressed my love for it on here yet, but the chariot is an absolutely fantastic piece of baby/life equipment. we bought it previously-loved from another family and even though it was far from retail price, it was still an investment. but it's been worth every penny. i like to fully maximize it's capacity on the regular. on this day, after a trip to the grocery with my parents, cameron had to ride home in the ergo on my back.^^

^^lunch with my mom at sushi rama. conveyer belt sushi is always fun. not the best sushi ever, but the speed, options, and portion size make it worth the visit. they did, notably, NOT have highchairs, which to me makes a certain statement. however, willa didn't notice the vibe and happily selected a few choice sushi plates off the belt.^^

^^our family needs, conservatively, 5 slices of pizza for dinner. the price of a whole pizza at atomic cowboy is roughly the same as 5 slices. so you're basically getting 8 for the price of 5. plus the staring eyes of everyone sitting around you. what can i say, we like pizza?^^

Happy February, folks! I have more January pictures to come though...always a bit behind these days.

how to see santa at union station

The most anticipated event of our advent activities last month was to take the train to Union Station to see Santa. Willa had been asking to take the light rail for a long time, and while driving to a station outside the city to ride downtown didn't make tons of logistical sense, it still sounded like a fun family adventure. So. That's what we did. Only, it wasn't that simple. Here's how it went down:

^^step 1: buy tickets.^^

^^step 2: ride the train. arrive downtown.^^

^^step 3: realize the "real" santa isn't there on the sunday before christmas. WHAT!?^^

^^step 4: have lunch while you try to regroup. mercantile dining & provision.^^ 

^^step 5: try to make up for your parenting fail by buying your children sugary treats. throw in some adult holiday drinks as well. wreak havoc in the middle of union station when hot cocoa is spilled (why is the "kid's size" so damn big!?).^^

^^step 6: check the santa's schedule online, and then go to union station again. this time, by car. observe santa and families in action for several minutes. try not to feel too weird that you're just watching.^^

^^step 7: go eat lunch at zoe mama. because, the best. and what else would you want to eat on christmas eve?^^

^^step 8: ice cream. because the line for that is much shorter than the line to see santa.^^

Hurray! That's our story! Live and learn, friends.

advent activities!

There's no denying it: the access to information provided by the internet has a definite influence on my parenting. Between blogs and Instagram, I inundate myself daily with glimpses into other families' lives. What other kids are wearing, eating, doing. You could argue that this tendency of reflection is maddening and depressing.  A futile way to spend time. But, I find it to be a comforting sense of community. A village of sorts. We're all trying to do the same general thing: create family memories as we try to raise our little ones to be our definition of "good kids." In their matching Hanna Andersson pajamas.

A few years ago, during my online perusing, I noticed some parents doing advent activities with their kids during the holiday season. It sounded (and looked!) like a fun way to add a little excitement to each day in December. I was keen to give it a go. It took me a couple of tries to get it together, but this year I managed to organize 24 index cards on the wall with Washi tape. I've had to rearrange them a bit (covertly, of course) but so far it's been a huge success. Willa's loving it, and we are too.

^^decking the halls! decorating the tree whilst eating eggnog and spinach balls. cam ate most of them.^^

^^easy and exciting advent activity: "at home facials" ^^

^^trip to the hammond's candy cane festival in an amazing "merry christmas" sweatsuit i found at goodwill: not an officially sanctioned advent activity but fantastic nonetheless.^^

^^slow morning with breakfast by the tree. three cheers for trader joe's pain au chocolat!^^

^^ice skating at skyline park and treats at the christkindl market. i had relatively high hopes for the outing, but they were still exceeded. willa LOVED ice skating. she didn't want to stop and got much better in just the hour we were there. and the market was really fun! we enjoyed mulled wine in the beer tent with festive music. we'll definitely go back again next year if not before!^^

wish list + wise purchases

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

(Actually that was in October when we had friends visiting and went hiking above the snow line. But still. It's currently snowy in Denver. Promise.)

Christmas is about so many things: Making memories with my family. Remembering memories of past holidays. Hugging. Eating. Eggnog. Spinach Balls. Joy. Surprise. LOVE.

But it's a little bit about gifts too. Try as I might (and honestly I'm not able to try that hard) you can't completely eliminate materialism from Christmas. And I'm not sure we should. Exchanging gifts is part of the spirit of Christmas. Reciprocity is an important part of our culture. And desire is human nature, no?

That said, here's my Christmas list. Things I've been lusting over. And after my desires, I'm listing some of my favorite products. Things I've been given or bought in the past couple years that have literally changed my life. If you need gift ideas, they'd make someone very happy. Promise.

DESIRES //

A new Patagonia fleece. I had this one in brown for a few years, but I made a mistake and got the wrong size. So I never really enjoyed wearing it. It was always too small. I finally accepted the reality, and passed it along to a friend, but I've been missing it. It's so warm and perfect for those not-super-cold winter days that Denver has a lot of. I'm not loving the options Patagonia has on their site right now, but perhaps REI or another retailer has some other options. Also, investing in a brand like Patagonia that prioritizes repairing products (that are already made to last in the first place) instead of buying new ones, has my vote. Great company that truly values sustainability.

Slip-on sorta-winter boots. Not very specific, I know, but I'm not sure exactly what I want. Maybe someone can suggest some for me? I have a pair of Sorels that I love for real snow boots, but I need want some that I can slip on when it's just a little bit snowy or slippery. I suppose my Uggs from 2002 fit this purpose...but they're Uggs. So 2002.

"Get to Work Book" planner.Here's a very specific one. I want this exact planner to get my life in order in 2016. I've thought a lot about my goals, big and small, and researched books. This one is what I want. If you don't buy it for me, I'm buying it for myself. You might want to buy it for yourself too?

My Mom's gold star necklace. My mom has a beautiful star necklace. It looks a lot like this one. Ever since the first time I trolled through her jewelry box, I've wanted it. Now I'm making it public. Mom, fork over your necklace! Kidding. But think about it? I love you!

Frame Jeans - Flares. Flared jeans are finally back in style. Hallelujah! I like these. Now I just also need sewing lessons so I can hem them myself. Therein lies the problem with non-skinny jeans...

Something from Kit + Ace. Technical cashmere seems like something I should probably have in my life.

LOVES//

Minnetonka Fringe Boots.I got these in black a year or two ago, and there are not words to express how much I love them. They are so comfortable. It's basically like wearing slippers. They also have the effect of making me feel like a youthful teenager and a hip thirtysomething simultaneously. That shouldn't even be possible, but it is and it's a good feeling. Get them.

Casio Watch.This is the ultimate parenting watch. The top right button sets an alarm for 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes (one press is 1 minute, press twice for 3 minutes, etc.). I use it about 75 times per day. "Willa, we're leaving in 3 minutes." Or, I set it for myself: "When the alarm goes off I better be putting on my shoes or we're f-ed." It's good for cooking too. It has a stopwatch and alarm function too. It does not, however, have Indiglo, so it's not so good for night wakings with babes. Thankfully, that is very recently no longer an issue for me.

Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine. We saved and saved for this and finally splurged right before my birthday last year. That was also right after Cameron was born. It perhaps sounds ridiculous, but this machine has seriously improved the quality of my life. It's easier to wake up in the morning knowing I have a coffee shop quality latte in my near future. The built-in grinder feature is key.

Cuppow drinking lids. Make any Mason jar a travel cup. Ditch plastic and single-use cups.

Car phone mount.I'm all kinds of against using your phone while driving. But let's face it, no one's buying a new Garmin when their iPhone has the capability of providing directions. This mount makes your phone easy to view while driving and it's nice and small for travel too. Just set up an app to block messages, and you're good to go!

Alex and Ani earrings. I wear these almost every day. Love their bangles too!

a skunky halloween

Halloween is old news, so I'm not going to bore anyone with a long synopsis of events, but here's the bullet point version!

  • I made Willa's skunk costume with a borrowed glue gun and the creative advice of a good friend. Overall it turned out well. (There was a small hiccup when Willa realized skunks are indeed black and not pink, but she overcame that relatively quickly.)
  • We first hit up the neighborhood's trick or treet street, and then later regained our focus for a few block of after-dark trick-or-treating. Willa was all about it this year, even venturing up to a few doors all by herself.
  • Cam was a lion. He wasn't that into keep his mane on, but he was cute nonetheless.
  • Bryna was a "dog-tor." Credit to a child on the street who named her that.
  • I did not dress up. Some year I'll feel inspired?
  • We played a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity after the trick-or-treaters went to bed. We should consider making that a tradition.
  • There was some unfortunate illness in the aftermath of Halloween. It was more than just too much candy and whiskey. The count of GI bugs since having kids is absurd.
  • Willa wants to be a skunk again next year. That sentiment probably won't last, but I take it as a sign that Halloween was a success!

cameron is one!

"The days are long but the years are short." TRUE STORY, my friends.

Last weekend, Cameron turned one! One year old.

Time is funny. In some ways it seems like he's always been a part of our family. But the year also seems to have passed quite quickly. Willa seems so much older now that she was when Cameron was born (yeah, a whole year older, obvi). Point is, it's been a good year. A really memorable year. Cameron has brought us all a lot of joy, and it was wonderful to celebrate him with family and friends on his first big day!

^^sprinkle pancakes have become a mainstay of any celebratory morning chez nous.^^

^^cam's big sis is all about a good party. especially the cake part of it.^^

^^happy birthday to you! - poor buddy got a bit freaked out when he realized everyone was looking at him. but he felt better moments later when he dove into his piece of cake.^^

^^love these guys.^^

urban adventures in boston

Oh my goodness I have been so terrible at blogging lately. Where have I been? What have I been doing? I'm not sure. Or, I kind of know, but I best go through my pictures and get it DOCUMENTED so I can remember. Thus the need for my blogging. So let's start with the highlight of the fall: late last month, we flew east for my sister's wedding! The festivities were on Cape Cod, but we added on some time in Boston to visit friends and to have a little family vacay.

^^for our first few days, we stayed with our friends rachel and rob in southie. we wasted no time inside, and hit the streets our first morning there. first notable sight: this oddly skinny building.^^

^^it was late september, but boston was bringin' it with the heat. luckily in these photos you mainly take in the blue sky. it was quite pretty. i'm always a sucker for art installations amid skyscrapers. and WATER! living in denver makes me appreciate water so much more than i ever did when it was near.^^

^^LOOK! my children are sleeping! in a restaurant! that had NEVER happened before. yet it always seems to happen to the moms who live in cities whose blogs i read. so, apparently, when you hoof it around the city all day, your children are apt to fall asleep. and they stayed asleep as we found our table at the barking crab and started in on a beer. cheers to that!^^

^^did i mention water!? after our day walking around the city, we headed down to the beach for grilling and dinner al fresco. willa loved checking out the beach, and rachel and rob made some delicious chuar!

^^i have whined in the past about my kids being challenging while traveling. but i also try to toot their horns when they've been great. this trip, they were TROOPERS. they dealt with the different places and schedules and people and lack of routine like champs. i was so proud of them! and proud of our parenting too.^^

^^we arrived in boston on a thursday. on saturday, my sister got to town FOR HER WEDDING. but up first on her agenda? babysitting for us so we could go to oysterfest! she is the best. and oysterfest was a fun event! i was definitely satiated and then some. the hama hama oysters were the best hands down if i do say so myself. and the duck khao soi dish from jamie bissonnette was my favorite dish we sampled. obvi.^^

^^next day, we made our way to the north end to get in touch with dan's roots. i mean, to get some italian sandwiches. we went to monica's mercato & salumeria, which did not disappoint. we did, however, learn that it's a good idea to order ahead! they clearly take sandwich making very seriously, which i appreciate, but that takes time.^^

^^we were lucky enough to spend a few nights staying smack dab in the center of the city, and had fun exploring boston commons, newbury street, and more. there was, of course, a lot of eating. you can never go wrong with a georgetown cupcake.^^

^^GIRLS' NIGHT! fancy drinks at townsman followed by some lovely generic international lager with hot pot!^^

^^since we've been home, willa's been talking a lot about wanting to go back to the east coast so she can ride the subway. and she wants to know why denver doesn't have a subway (me, too, sista!). so clearly the day we took the T to cambridge made a big impression on her. i had fun too. i saw MIT for the first time which was really impressive! such a different vibe than harvard.^^

^^we are going to round out the memories of our urban fun in boston with this series. let's call it "willa happily devours a talenti ice cream bar in broad daylight. while wearing socks and sandals."^^

SUCH A FUN WEEK! THANKS TO EVERYONE INVOLVED IN MAKING IT SO GREAT!

crested butte craziness

You know what traveling with kids is not like? Traveling without kids.

Shocking revelation, I know. But really, as simple as that sounds, it's a fundamental concept that one is forced to come to terms with when embarking on adventures with little ones. And I think it's something that many of us struggle with in the years after we first have kids. Your "pre-kid" life wasn't that long ago, and it's hard to shake the memories of when traveling (or doing anything, really) was, well, quite different.

A few weeks ago, great friends of ours flew in from Texas and we all trekked out to Crested Butte for the better part of a week. We'd had the trip planned for several months, and our friends were excited to have a Colorado mountain experience.

Crested Butte is sensational. It's truly an idyllic mountain town. We'd been twice before, but this was our first time going in the summer. The town was as quaint as ever and we were blown away by the breathtaking views. We tried our best to maximize the hiking trails and other outdoor adventures the area has to offer.

It was challenging though, to be sure. We were tired. Cameron didn't sleep that well. Willa had the ups and downs that seem to be par for her course at age 3. I got frustrated. At one point I cried and declared we should just drive back to Denver.

I didn't really mean it. And we didn't. I'm glad we didn't. The week was special. It was memorable. We got closer as a family. We reconnected with our friends. We got to know their kids.

There are numerous quotations about how things are hard but you should do them anyway. How it's the hard that makes them great. I'm not saying I wouldn't take a relaxed vacation sans kid drama...I would. (Gosh, I would!) But different is okay. Different has its own charms.

Some highlights:

^^Secret Stash Pizzeria. So good.^^

^^Meridian Lake. We hiked the steep route which was a lot of bang for your buck. Great views and refreshing swim.^^

^^Henderson Park aka "the mini park." According to Willa, this was the highlight of the trip. I'll bet you've never seen a smaller park.^^

^^Our VRBO on Elk Avenue. It was close to town and also to several hiking trails. It had a bit of an odd bedroom set-up (a really large master suite with a sitting area, a tiny bedroom by the kitchen with a full-sized bed, and two bedrooms upstairs with twin beds) but it worked out just fine! Great outdoor space.^^

To round out this story, it must be said that friends who can parent together are true friends. The challenges of this trip were eased by the extra eyes, hands, ears, and hugs throughout the days and the camaraderie around the campfire at night. We love you guys!

you can always go home again

Last month, I embarked on my first big trip with both kids. Just me, and the two littles. We flew to New York state to visit my parents in my hometown, Canton. Perhaps it doesn't sound like a big trip. From Denver you can fly almost anywhere in the continental U.S. in 2-4 hours. Right? Right. Problem is, my parents live 2.5 hours from the nearest American airport. And that airport only works if you take a red-eye east from Denver. A red-eye with my energetic 3-year old? No thanks. So the airport we flew to is 4 hours from my hometown. That mere fact made the trip more of an adventure for everyone involved. Including my parents who are all kinds of awesome for driving us to and from the airport! It was a wonderful visit. It was exhausting. But it was joyful. We made memories that I'll cherish forever, and I hope that Willa might remember a couple of things too. There's really nothing like going home.

^^on the drive home from the airport, first there was screaming. then there was napping. then there was a stop at the most beautiful adirondack lake. i have been seriously missing east coast lakes, and this moment was just glorious. willa immediately took off her clothes and started splashing around, and the sun was setting over the mountains. it was the best start to our visit.^^

^^the green! everything is so green. i missed it. and the country roads.^^

^^the bagelry! getting bagels was a staple of my childhood. this place has seriously upped its game in recent years, bringing a hip city vibe to our small town. it's amazing how the no one can do bagels like east coasters.^^

^^hitting up the school playground and the town square's fountain. not pictured: a trip to the ice cream stand that resulted in a massive meltdown, both literal and figurative. ice cream melts quite fast when it's 90 degrees. (duh.) but also! soft serve! why is that just an east coast thing? love a vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles.^^

^^it was definitely summer weather while we were visiting. hot and humid. but my mom knew a secret swimming spot and we had such a nice evening relaxing by the river. willa was a bit tentative about the water, and cameron mostly hung out on shore devouring a plum, but i certainly enjoyed swimming!^^

^^beet hummus! my mom makes the best food. and since we're still doing the whole "baby-led weaning" gig, my dad liked to say throughout the week that cameron was "taking his leadership responsibilities very seriously." ha! he was right though. that little dude can go after some food.^^

^^i had grand plans of the week being screen-free. i imagined willa running wild and free around my parents' large yard for hours on end. things didn't pan out to be exactly that idyllic, but we truly did enjoy a lot of time outside. willa loved the huge yard, and definitely got her feet nice and dirty every single day. one morning it poured rain, and we both had a ton of fun running up and down the driveway.^^

^^we hit up the wild center in tupper lake one day, and it was definitely worth the drive. what a cool place! it was a hot day, and quite crowded, but we still enjoyed seeing some of the indoor displays and checking out the wild walk.^^

^^more swimming! we went to the town beach one day, and expected to only stay for a short bit, but willa enjoyed it so much that we were there for over 3 hours! she's still wasn't much into swimming, but she loved playing with the water and sand, and also made friends with some of the other kids there. it's funny how having kids gives you a whole new perspective on places. i've been home so many times in the past 10 years but never thought of going to the beach until this trip!^^

^^thank you, mom and dad, for hosting us for such a wonderful week! it was crazy and chaotic, but also incredibly meaningful and memorable. we love you.^^

first {real} haircut

When Cameron was born, one of my first orders of business as a mom of two was getting Willa a haircut. I just couldn't deal with the hair battles anymore. I mean honestly, the child sounded like she was being straight up tortured when I'd try to brush her hair.

So we went to see my awesome stylist, and Willa had a trim. Unfortunately that was it. A trim. (Maybe in my postpartum haze I wasn't pushy enough? I can't remember.) It helped, for sure, but didn't fundamentally change the situation. It was still a daily battle. We got the brush. The detangler. The fancy detangler. We opted for hats. It didn't matter. Willa pretty much always looked like a ragamuffin. A cute ragamuffin, to be sure, but definitely a deshelved one. Cue, before photo:

NO MORE.

Today, Willa got a hairCUT. Inches! And bangs. No more rubber band or barrette needed to keep hair out of her face. We can leave the house without pigtails or a topknot and she looks somewhat kempt. SCORE. I'm banking on this making my life easier. It seems like it will. Right? Fingers crossed.

Either way, W was a rockstar. She sat perfectly still for the whole thing and is excited to have bangs "like Mommy." Gosh, I love her. Even if I have to pin her down with my full body weight to brush her hair. It's all part of parenthood?

sleep

The New Yorker just ran a three-part series on sleep. In part three, "The Walking Dead," author Maria Konnikova writes:

If you sleep six hours a night for twelve days, [sleep medicine physician] Adusumilli says—and that’s about how much many Americans sleep all year round—your cognitive and physical performance becomes virtually indistinguishable from that of someone who has been awake for twenty-four hours straight. (The same effect is produced by six days of four-hour nights.) And the performance of someone who has been awake for twenty-four hours straight is similar to that of someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.1 per cent. In other words, “normal” amounts of sleep deprivation have us acting like we’re drunk.

Whaaaaa?!?

I've very rarely had a six-hour stretch of sleep in the 8+ months since Cameron was born. And I'm not really whining...it's pretty much par for the course when you have a baby. Right? In our culture at least, I think. But the article really reasonated with me because this week I hit a breaking point. I felt exhausted. I couldn't do it anymore. I knew that Cameron didn't really need to nurse in the middle of the night any longer. It'd become a habit. For both of us. He'd cry sometime between 10pm and 5am, and I'd stumble down the hall and nurse him until he went back to sleep. But sometimes he'd be annoying about it. He'd wake up multiple times a night. He'd wake up at 4am, 5am, and 6am. Not. Cool. At all.

This past Wednesday morning he woke up at 4am and we did our usual thing. But after eating, he wouldn't go back to sleep. He cried. Dan went in to soothe him. He cried more. I tried to soothe again. But he wouldn't sleep. He didn't go back to sleep until 6am.

That, I decided, was my out. We'd already "let" him cry for 2 hours, so we might as well build on the momentum? The next night, we had a detailed plan in place: when he woke up and cried, Dan would go in and soothe him after 5 minutes. Then 10. Then 15, 20, 30. It was go time.

But you know what? We haven't yet implemented the plan. For the past two nights, he slept from 7 something until dawn (that's early, since it's summer, but still) without anyone going into his room. And not an ounce of milk. Maybe he just needed us to have a little faith in his skills? To let him do his thing? Maybe I just needed to tune him about a bit more? To get my sleep?

Who knows. But, I'm feeling optimistic. I need more sleep to be a better wife, parent, daughter, friend, teacher, human being. I don't want to walk around acting drunk when I'm not. That'd just be silly.

Fingers crossed. Baby sleep is a beast.

a happy birthday brunch for our three year old!

Willa turned three last week!

So far, I'm not sure what to make of this age. It's so hot and cold. Up and down. She's the cutest little girl EVER and then moments later she is so naughty. But I know it's all part of her development, and I'm doing my best to take deep breaths and be patient and supportive as she's learning.

She's working on being a big sister. She loves her little brother and enjoys having him around. She will say, "Hi little buddy!" when he wakes up from a nap, and if he's fussing, she'll say, "It's ok Cameron!" and then tell him something about what's going on. She has trouble sharing her toys with him. She often grabs things away from him. But she'll occasionally bring him a toy to play with, and she loves to share her food with him while they're at the table eating.

My favorite thing about Willa at this stage are our conversations. She loves to ask me questions. Lately we've been talking a lot about "workers" and what they build. She started with, "Mama, did workers build our house?" And now she asks if workers have built other things. The other day we were driving somewhere and she asked me to explain how the workers built our car. You can feel her mind working.

She remembers details and events of things we did so long ago. I am always surprised when she reminds me of them weeks or months later. She can carry on a conversation so well. It blows me away. She is getting so tall and so smart. I feel proud of the beautiful and inquisitive little girl she is growing into. She challenges and delights me each day.

Her birthday was a wonderful day! We were lucky to have family in town to celebrate and we threw a little brunch shindig with friends, donuts, cake, and an inflatable pink picture frame (Is that what we call it? No idea. But it was fun!).

^^"Mango cake!" For weeks before her birthday, Willa was telling everyone that she was going to have a mango cake. We weren't sure exactly what a mango cake was, but opted for vanilla cake with mango custard in the middle and buttercream frosting. It was delicious. Willa might have ruined her appetite with donuts, but I certainly enjoyed it. Huge thanks to the pastry chef! ;)^^

^^Cam slept for the first half of the party, but woke up and put on his party pants. He tried some snacks and was super excited to meet his Uncle Mike!^^

^^An inflatable pink frame = possibly the best $1.99 I've ever spent at Goodwill.^^

a week and a brunch with nana

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. We were delighted to be able to spend the day with her for the second year in a row, even though she lives across the country. She was here the past week and we had such a nice time spending time with her. And needless to say, we were overjoyed and so thankful for her help with the little ones. It's amazing what a difference it makes to have another person around. To celebrate her birthday and the end of a great week, we went to brunch at Block & Larder. The restaurant opened late last year and has become our go-to for going out without kids. It's a fun place to enjoy just a drink and a snack at the bar, but they have a very extensive menu focused on in-house butchery so you can certainly get a hearty meal.

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They started offering brunch more recently, and it seemed like a place nice enough to celebrate a birthday but not too too nice to take the littles. It was indeed a great place for a family brunch. The only thing that worked against us was that when we got there at 10:45 there was only one other table filled. So any noise made by a small person echoed throughout the whole place. But once we were finishing up, closer to noon, a few more groups had come in, including 2 other babies.

The brunch menu was solid and more straightforward than their dinner fare; 12 entrée options and just a few sides. And drinks of course. We went with the Oyster Rockefeller Benedict and the Breakfast Bread Pudding. We don't go out to brunch too often, but when we do we almost always opt for one savory dish and one sweet item for our "breakfast dessert."

Cam was uncharacteristically crabby when we first sat down, but once the food arrived his mood did a 180. He was delighted to eat eggs and an English muffin. My mood improved too, actually.The bread pudding was decadent and absolutely delicious. The benedict had great flavors, but I'd say they were a bit stingy on the oysters. (We had two at the table; one had 4 oysters and the other had just 3.) I had a peach bourbon bellini which was just the right amount of sweet. It could have been a touch colder...or maybe I should have finished it faster? But all in all, it was a great brunch. Good food, company, and atmosphere. All the right ingredients.

Happy Birthday Mom! We love you!

little things lately

Willa will be 3 in a week. She suddenly seems so much older. 

She asks specific questions. She makes remarkable observations. She tells jokes. And talks with her hands. She can still drive me crazy...I'm not looking forward to holding her down to apply sunscreen every single day of the summer. And why does brushing her hair have to make her scream like I'm torturing her? But she can put her shoes on by herself! She can get dressed on her own too, but being naked is more her jam. Good thing warm weather has finally arrived!

^^Have you ever have these Lemon Ricotta Waffles with Poppy Seeds? They are THE BEST. Seriously. Make them. And if you have leftover ricotta to use up, I suggest this cake.^^

^^My friend Katie and her kids were in town a couple weeks ago, and we were delighted to have them over for a play and dinner. (I was also delighted that my child isn't the only one with some ups and downs in the 3ish year old behavior department.) Old friends are so wonderful. Thanks for the visit, dear!^^

^^We had friends over for dinner the other weekend and got dressed up for the occasion. I tried to take a selfie with Willa, but that was pushing my luck.^^

^^Cam was sick this week. He had a fever and was out of sorts for a few days. (Note some Tylenol on his jammies in the photo above.) But thankfully he's now back to his smiley self. And he really is smiley. It's awesome. I hope he stays this happy for months and years to come.^^

choose your own adventure

You know what's great about not having a "regular" job? The flexibility. You know what's super overwhelming? Flexibility.

Pretty much every day I have a long stretch of time without any plans. Hours that can be filled however I want. There are things that need doing: grocery shopping, work, meals, dishes, emails, diaper changes, exercise, laundry... But most of those things don't need to happen at a specific time. I can work out in the morning or in the afternoon. We can go to the park whenever. Willa can nap at noon or 1:30. The grocery store is open all day.

This whole stay-at-home/work part-time thing has been tough for me to master. It's a work in progress. Before Cameron, I felt like I sort of had things down. We'd go out and do something in the morning, and then come home for lunch and naptime. Even if we didn't get out the door first thing, we still had time to do something. But now, Cameron naps mid-morning and so it sometimes feels like I'm being held hostage in the house with my almost-three year old. Good times. Notsomuch.

This summer, I need to figure out a bit more of a schedule. I need to be the driver of our time. It is wonderful to be able to design our days just how we want them, but it's not without challenges. Sometimes it feels like the day slips away from me. I'm totally okay with staying home and not doing much, but I want it to be an intentional choice.

Here some reminders for myself as I work to achieve a more scheduled life that balances work and play. Maybe you have some pointers too?

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Have a plan. So simple. So obvious. Yet hard to execute. The days we have a plan and somewhere to be at a certain time, we get ourselves there. The days that are open-ended are when we sometimes get a bit cranky. Even when I don't have an obligation or scheduled meet-up with a friend, it helps immensely if I make my own schedule ahead of time. I'm working on a "bucket list" for the summer to make sure we get to all the things I want to do.

Make use of small blocks of time. Don't underestimate the short or simple outing. Everyone's mood gets so much better with a little fresh air and stimulation from the outside world. But, I tend to overestimate how much time it takes to do things, so often I don't go somewhere because I don't think there's enough time. It's good to remember that a quick outing can be quite restorative, so squeeze something in between naps or whenever you can!

Ditch the schedule. But only sometimes. My kids like to nap in their beds. I'm not sure if it's their nature or something we've fostered, but they don't sleep very well in strollers, carseats, etc. As a result, I have a love-hate relationship with naptime. I love the break it gives me but I sometimes hate having to be home for it to happen. It's good to throw naptime to the wind occasionally. This lets you have the whole day to do whatever you want. Sometimes this totally backfires and you've got meltdown madness on your hands. But usually everyone adjusts. It's important for everyone to learn/remember to be flexible.

Do things you enjoy doing. Since becoming a mom, particularly a mom who is primarily at home, I've felt a lot of pressure to do certain activities. "Kid-friendly" things. Many of those things are a lot of fun. But some of them aren't. At least not for me. But what I want to do is constantly changing. There are things that sound fun today that last year I swore I'd never do. I try to remind myself that there are many ways to raise kids, and children can benefit from a wide range of experiences, so it's okay to just do what you want to do.

Be gentle with yourself. I'm working on this one. I try not to stress too much if I forget something or am a bit late to meet someone. I do the best I can, but things are hard enough without beating myself up. Yes, I try to remember the sunscreen. But if I forget it, we'll find some shade and everyone will be okay.

Use television strategically and sparingly. I don't have a real issue with kids watching TV, and I certainly make full use of our Netflix subscribtion. However, I've noticed that the more shows Willa watches, the grumpier she is afterwards. With summer coming, I need to remember that playing outside is much better for everyone. I want to try to limit our "screen time" (mine too!). I hope to reserve shows and movies for times we can cozy up on the couch together to enjoy the experience.

Slow down. As much as I enjoy doing things, it can be equally important and beneficial to stay at home or to just walk around the block aimlessly. I can be nice to just let the day unfold as it will. Some of the best memories can be made when you aren't trying too hard.