hello, L.A.!

We headed to L.A. last month to visit Dan's brother for a long long weekend. We had a delightful weekend packed with several fun activities. Both kids were terrified of the ocean's waves, but they loved the beach, so we enjoyed our fair share of sand in our hair and between our toes. We hiked in Malibu, and I hit up a Dailey Method class in Venice. Combine all that with family bonding, and it was an all-around great trip. Thanks so much for hosting us, M&S!

^^first trip with her very own suitcase. she was so excited.^^

^^post-flight beach walk: getting our wiggles out + thrilled to see the ocean.^^

^^afternoon at santa monica beach followed by piggyback snoozes and smoothies.^^

^^tree pictures: can't stop. won't stop.^^

^^venice, i like you. after taking class at the dailey method there, a teacher recommended i try the bulletproof coffee at another kind of sunrise. it did not disappoint.^^

^^ICYMI: homemade fries are AMAZING. look at cam salivating.^^

^^in this moment, at venice beach, we learned that willa can write her name!^^

^^i was so excited to check out salt & straw since it's kinda a big deal on the national artisanal ice cream stage (that's a thing, right?) and i'd never made it to the portland location. venice to the rescue. i ordered a kids' size, per usual, but it was a legit small portion, so i had to indulge and order a second flavor. totally worth it.^^

^^dan and i snuck out for a late night dinner at cassia in santa monica. it calls itself a southeast asian brasserie. i love the things restaurants come up with! (seriously, i do.) to me, it had a definite LA vibe. luckily i'd packed one fancy outfit, ha! the food was really good and the martini i had was fantastic ("gin, imbue vermouth, blanc vermouth, lemongrass tincture, orange bitters, smoked quail egg" - the quail egg scared me at first, but it was just on a toothpick like an olive would be, and it was delicious!). the whole grilled sea bass was the best thing we ordered. fresh herbs!^^

^^there is an awesome playground at tongva park in santa monica. when we walked by it the first time, the kids were asleep, but we knew we had to go back. indeed, they loved playing there. there was also a water feature for hotter days. wish we had more of those in denver!^^

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^^beautiful, BEAUTIFUL hike in malibu to round out our trip.^^

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.

burmatown, california

Last month, I went on a trip ALL BY MYSELF to California. I was there for some work stuff, but also as a mini vacation and a chance to spend time with family.  And I was so lucky: they really made sure I had a fun and restful stay. On my first night there, they took me to Burmatown in Corte Madera.

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Obviously, I love an Asian restaurant! And San Francisco boasts numerous exceptional ones. During a previous visit, we went to Burma Superstar in the city, but I dare say Burmatown was better. It was sensational. From the ambiance to the food, everything was divine. The service was exceptional too. And the tea leaf salad! Who doesn't love tea leaf salad? Well if you haven't had one, you probably don't know you love it...But you should try it. Preferable this one. (Although I imagine one in Burma would probably be pretty darn good too...)

Anyway! Everything about Burmatown was delightful. Perhaps I was influenced by the profound enjoyment of dining without little kids to wrangle. But, it doesn't really matter. A fantastic eating experienced is colored by several factors, and the stars all aligned that night. Thanks so much R + B for such a wonderful dinner and visit!

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.^^

a cape cod wedding!

After our fun time in Boston, we made our way out to Cape Cod for MY SISTER'S WEDDING. They'd decided to get married in Truro, Massachusetts. (Side note: why is Massachusetts so hard to spell? Seriously. It is so hard.) We were delighted to stay in a big house my parents rented in Truro. It was so fun to all be together in an old Cape Cod house. The house was a bit quirky, but delightful and roomy. The kids each had their own room, as did the adults. And it had an outdoor shower! And a beautiful view of the water. What more could one want?

The wedding was on Saturday, but the days prior to that there we lots of festivities. Family dinners, a bachelor party, a bridal shower, the rehearsal dinner, etc. etc. SO MUCH FUN.

I am so happy for my sister, and so grateful for the chance we had to make so many family memories. It was truly a trip to remember.

^^en route from boston we stopped in plymouth to eat some bahn mi sandwiches and to take in some american history. it was difficult to get this shot because so many people were waiting to pose in front of the mayflower II!^^

^^as soon as we arrived in truro, we checked out the wedding venue. gorgeous. also, i like overexposed photos!^^

^^the first night in town we had a dinner with the bride and groom's families. it was also my dad's birthday. cam was a bit of handful but then he won over the crowd with his coy smiles. that boy!^^

^^love.^^

^^cape code beaches. sand dune hiking. family time.^^

^^rehearsal. willa was on it.^^

^^rehearsal dinner! willa ate a ton of fried clams. dan ate two lobsters. we all had fun.^^

^^woo hoo! wedding day!^^

Alison and Jakob have tons of beautiful pictures from their special day, but those are theirs to share, not mine. It was such a special day. Everything was perfect. They were so happy; and we were so happy for them. I feel so lucky to have been a part of their day, and we are so happy to welcome Jakob into our family. And on top of all that, they live in Denver! Down the street! How did we get so lucky? Life is good.

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.

fathers' days

It's been a busy month. A festive month. A really good month. My mom was here on her birthday. Then came Willa's birthday! And then, last weekend, thanks to a variety of forces coming together, my family was all in town for Father's Day. We did it up on Saturday and Sunday with a baseball game, a brewery trip, dinner at our favorite Malaysian restaurant, and lots of laughs.

When you don't live in the same place as family, the time they take to come visit is so special. It can sometimes be overwhelming to pack a lot in to a short time, but the memories we make are something I truly cherish. As Willa's getting older and understanding more, I hope she, too, forms her own memories that she can hang on to. I know she will. (It seems unlikely this blog will be around for her to look back on...but who knows where the future internet will go?) She has such a wonderful time with the family and friends who come to visit, but she's just now starting to to comprehend that they have to leave. It's hard when good times come to an end. Life lessons, I suppose?

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^^parents!^^

^^future uncle jakob is an amazing child/toddler/baby holder (jackpot!). here he is showing willa the baseball stadium.^^

^^ball parks offer overpriced beverages for everyone.^^

^^love this shot.^^

^^willa's working on her photography skillz.^^

^^waiting on the bus. <3^^

^^beer drinking is a good thing to do on father's day, no?^^

^^me and my men.^^

^^lots of fun street art near renegade.^^

^^since there wasn't a food truck at the brewery, we decided to head to one of our all-time favorite eateries: makan malaysian cafe. it's an awesome place to be any day of the week, but on sundays they have "family dinner" options that give you a sampling of several dishes. i'm always a fan of sharing, but it's also definitely the way to go for people unfamiliar with malaysian food.^^

^^willa loved the family-style dining as well. she tried more than usual, including a fish ball. this was supposed to be a fist bump to celebrate, but it turned into some kind of fist bumb cheers combo.^^

^^we rounded out the weekend by waiting in the long line at little man for way too much ice cream. always a good choice. winning! (but seriously, their "single" is about 6 scoops of ice cream. they should revisit their size names.)^^

Huge thanks to everyone involved for such a fun weekend. xo!

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.^^