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The Snow Day That Wasn’t + Clementine Upside Down Cakes

March 7, 2013

In the morning, she crawls into bed with me and I’m surprised to see her instead of him.  Usually he’s the first one up – loud and waking us all. I roll over and check my phone.  School is cancelled, but no actual snow on the ground. We’re still not sure why it got cancelled, presumably because the weather reports said there was a terrible blizzard on the way, but it turned into a bonus rainy day off  and we used it to relax all day long.

Tater tots with breakfast.
A new tea kettle that should have cost $100 that I got for $7 that’s making me so happy brewing various teas all day long.
Clementine Upside Down Cakes.
Pajamas and random outfit changes all day.

Running in circles while we’re chomping at the bit to get outside more.
Curious George and general tv in the morning, usually off limits during the week
An old Polaroid camera that elicited gasps and awe as the photos come out immediately.
Tuna salad for lunch. I always forget how much I enjoy a good tuna salad. There’s an amazing-sounding lemon and caper tuna salad floating around on Pinterest, but my old standby of mayo+onion+celery+salt+pepper is still my favorite.
Jake and the Neverland Pirates and the word scalawag about 500 time.
Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Mitchell stations on Pandora.

A few favorite books  for grocery planning and for spiritual grounding. We can’t be the only family struggling with a church balance can we? I don’t talk about faith much on here (ever?) so today seems as good as any. We’re both Catholic, or at least grew up Catholic.  He went to Catholic school the whole way through and doesn’t want to have much to do with it anymore. We both have issues with some of the major beliefs of the Catholic Church.  I still identify with Catholicism more than anything else, though.  I also think it matters that we teach our children that we can identify with something and be a part of something without agreeing with everything they stand for.  I just don’t know what it all means or where we go from here.  I’ve been really wanting to get back to church more lately and I think we might go to a few to check them out rather than our main church.  I don’t know.  Anyone else feel this way?

On a lighter and sweeter note: Clementine Upside Down Cakes.  They were even more delicious than we’d hoped they would be.  Crunchy little carmelized bits all around the edges, tiny bits of sour and bitterness mixed with sweetness.  I used this recipe and subbed 1/2 cup of brown sugar for 1/2 of the sugar called for in the cakes and added a bit of vanilla.  {Quick tip for conversion: 225g = 1 cup.}

Checking In

February 22, 2013

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(a random assortment from our lately)

Oh, hey!  I made it in just under the 1 month mark of not posting at all.  The number one rule to not be an annoying blogger is to not apologize for not posting, right? Well, I’m doing it anyway;) Because, honestly, I’m just not feeling it lately.  I’m struggling with the balance of sharing thoughts and telling our stories and just feeling like I’m blogging for the sake of blogging.  Also, we’re officially done with naps around here which completely screws with my afternoon blogging/writing/working time unless I stick my kids in front of a tv.  I couldn technically do it in the evening if I stopped wasting so much time doing this that and the other nothing, but my evenings are usually most full of working.  Posting here just hasn’t been at the top of my list of priorities right now, so my apology sticks:  It feels kind of silly  and self-indulgent to make such an assumption, but if you’re one of the three people who check in here regularly, I’m super sorry I haven’t had a ton happening lately. I’ve been posting on Instagram and Flickr and Pinterest so much more right now and I’d love to connect and see you if you’re on one of those as well!

Some recent faves:

– I can’t get over all of the beauty here, but especially those gorgeous black and white photos.

Simplify the Internet – even a fraction of these would be massively beneficial to my life.

– Don’t just De-Clutter, De-Own.  Seriously.  I could not agree more!

– Her recipes make me want to cook rightthisveryminute, but it’s her writing that makes me literally catch my breath every time I read her raw honesty and truth.

– Have I shared this bagel recipe yet? If I have, sorry, it was worth the double posting!  If I haven’t, you’re welcome! You can thank me later;)

– I relate so much to her everyday, especially in thinking back on the days that feel like yesterday 2-3 years ago when I was doing the same things each day.  It’s insane how it all changes so quickly and we go from nursing and naps to school drop-offs and more and more independence in such a short amount of time.

– Another real, raw, honest account of her everyday.  Is anyone seeing a theme in the writing I love to read?  LOVE her posts.

– No-nonsense, old-school, practical values hit me at my very core.  They make me want to be a better person and strive to change so many things about how I live.  I’m working on it, aren’t we all? Also, doesn’t that post make you want to have a big old family, even just a tiny bit??

– Speaking of hitting me at my core – one more honesty post: These posts make me close my eyes and make my head spin a little with how much I relate.  They take me to a place that I try a little to hard to avoid and need so much to be in touch with a little bit more in my life.

from saturday night

January 26, 2013

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I’m sitting here armed with stuff for a night by myself: the laptop, a glass of iced tea, a piece of cheesecake, soup in the fridge for after the cheesecake when I want something savory to balance the sweet, a new steno pad (I finally gave in and just bought a 12 pack since I go through them like water with list after list,) 3 Redbox movies (because inevitably at least one will be awful and I really want to watch a movie,) a pen, a pencil, my planner, chapstick, a stack of tissues and a list about a mile long of business stuff that I need to do.

This week was a blur.  Just the sort of blur you’d expect in January.  Not much of anything major, but it all added up.  Sickness and tired days followed by nights of too much coughing.  My car officially died.  I watched a 3 year old full anger as he ripped the shades off the windows and realized how little I know as a parent.  We tried to new(to us)-car-hunt with only one car and a house full of stuffy noses.  Our lungs filled with cold air as we raced in and out of cars and thanked the heavens above for the in-laws letting us borrow one of their cars so that we weren’t walking the kids back and forth to school all week while we’re all sick and it was freezing.  I cleaned and got rid of more stuff  one room at a time.  Made smoothies to try to match Orange Julius (oj + vanilla yogurt + some sugar + a banana + splash of vanilla) and it was the best thing I’ve tasted in months.  We got an inch or two of snow and I felt like the worst mom ever as I made the kids watch from inside because I just didn’t have it in me to bundle them up and take them outside.  We bundled ourselves up and walked a few blocks in the most glittery snow we’ve ever seen to have a date at the local bar since the roads were too snowy to drive anywhere and my mom was babysitting.

I keep turning the tv down because it gets too loud and I worry that it’ll wake up kids, but then I remember that everyone else is gone.  John went to a concert in Philly and the kids are having a sleepover with the Grandparents.  I needed time alone today a whole lot more than I’d like to admit.  I wanted to invite some friends over to just relax, but there are way too many germs in this house from this week of snotty noses to have anyone in here and spread more of that goodness around.  So, I work.  And blog. And it feels good.

Busy

January 16, 2013

tea party

pouring tea

‘Crazy-busy’ is a great armor, it’s a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy, and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we’re feeling and what we really need can’t catch up with us….

It’s like those moving walkways at the airport — you’ve got to really pay attention when you get off them, because it’s disorienting. And when you’re standing still, you become very acutely aware of how you feel and what’s going on in your surroundings. A lot of our lives are getting away from us while we’re on that walkway.

-Brené Brown in the NY Times Article, Exhaustion Isn’t a Status Symbol (via Life Your Way)

That article was floating around a few months ago and it stuck with me.  We’re “busy” right now, but not necessarily unbearably busy and certainly nothing compared to how jam-packed I know many lives are.  This week was supposed to be my first full week that wasn’t completely packed with things to do, but somehow I managed to fill up every single day.

Do you beat yourself up for that kind of thing? You tell yourself that you’re not going to do ______ that you have a habit of doing all the time.  Then when you do it (of course) you beat yourself up for it.  It’s so ridiculous, it’s like I set myself up, but I still try because I always figure that if I’m at least trying it will keep things in my mind and I’ll at least try to do a bit better one thing at a time.

For the first time since October, next week is completely unscheduled for us.  We still have swimming lessons and normal back and forth to school, but beyond that there’s nothing and it feels so good I could just squeal!  It means prioritizing going for a walk with a friend who I have seen so much less than I’d like to recently and it means I’ll have time to get some photo work done in the evening without feeling guilty and it means that we can do a thing or two during the week with friends and play outside more and go to the library  if we feel up for it and  if we don’t we can have the time to just be at home and take care of seriously neglected projects and needs around here that always seem to take a back burner to immediate needs.  There I go filling the week right up again, but it’s nice to not have any set plans and discard things if it doesn’t feel right.  Nowhere that we absolutely need to be at a certain time and time to be home and relax and cook some meals and do some much-needed cleaning.

How’s your January going?  Did you have the great warm weather over the weekend like we did or are you somewhere with zero degree temps keeping you inside with cabin fever??

in the new year

January 8, 2013

I had big plans for the new blog to be ready for January 1st, but it’s not quite ready.  These things happen, but I’m still jumping to a new one sooner than later.  This month has been filled with work and family happenings that matter more than blogging and holidays and one of us constantly being sick.  The holidays were nice and calm, but it’s still all very exciting for this not-up-for-much-stimulation (read: boring) family.  We were supposed to celebrate the New Year with friend, but instead we’ll finish it out with 2 out of 4 of us sick, me up a little too late working on blogs and photo editing while I had a little buffalo chicken crack dip and watch Downton Abbey again.  (Random side note for the Downton Abbey lovers: Did you see Call the Midwife this fall??  I am so in love with that show, too!)

For the first time ever for me, a new year feels so sweet and exciting.  I don’t know what’s different.  Usually I feel sad about all that’s ending, mostly because my mom has always felt that way and says it every year.  But a fresh start and new year feels good right now, even with a list of things to do that has my head spinning.  I asked Mia what she wanted to do this year and her 5 year old list was simple: she wants to take swimming lessons and she wants to pick strawberries.  That I can handle.  And it’s the sort of resolution I can get on board with – simple and straightforward.   I feel similarly – I have one major thing I want to do in 2013: grow my business.  I’ve officially been in business for a year now and I feel so ready to really jump in and get moving.  I’m finishing my part-time job again  for real in a week and a half and headed full-force into making my business fun and fulfilling and smart and profitable this year.  I don’t even know that I’d consider it a resolution, just an intention that’s fueling my fire to get working and dream and growing and that’s always a good thing.

How about all of you?  How’s the new year for you so far??

Cough and Quiet

December 17, 2012

I have a cough that might make you stop in your tracks if you heard me in public.  It would at least make you turn your head and cringe a little and wish I weren’t out in public – I’ve been getting a lot of sideways glances.  My neighbor crossed the street this morning as I coughed while I got Nick in the car to go to kindergarten pickup just to ask me if I was ok.  A customer at work the other day tried to tell me that he knew that kind of cough and that I needed Vitamin C to “clear it right up.”  I’ve had bronchitis since September, but felt fine most of the time (other than the constant annoyance of coughing) but I’ve been avoiding everyone I know and it feels almost like a habit now.  Not necessarily an excuse, but this thing in the back of my head that makes me worry that anyone who has someone in their family who gets sick within a week of seeing me if going to curse my name under their breath and think, “See, I knew she couldn’t be right when she said the doctors said she’s not contagious!”  The thing is, I really don’t have anything contagious at this point. I went to the doctor for the hundredth time this morning again and she triple re-confirmed for me that I have some sort of nasty super-bug that has happily taken up residence in my chest and just doesn’t plan to leave without a fight, but I’m really not spreading it around after this long – they even sent my gunk away for a culture to double check. (I know you wanted to know that.)   I’ve done two round of antibiotics, three rounds of steroids, I have two different inhalers and a nebulizer and I just got a prescription to start an asthma medication to see if it will help to give my lungs a bit of a break.  So it’s being addressed and I feel fine other than mostly the cough at this point, but the cough still just sounds terrible.

I’m not saying all of this to say Oh Poor Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, I’m saying it to admit out loud that this fall of being sick has made me withdraw into myself and I kind of like it.  It’s not at all in a depressing sort of way, but it is selfish, and it  feels good to have a reason to not put so much on the schedule and have fewer obligations and makes me want to prioritize that a bit more.  I’m kind of awful about prioritizing taking care of myself and all of this staying home has made me add a nap to my afternoon a little more often which is about as wonderful as it gets in life.  This winter is calling my name with the promise of quiet and snow days and warm mugs of tea and coffee and soups and snuggling with my family and blankets on my lap.  I have a lot of people that I want to make plans with and I am so looking forward to spending time with them – hopefully quiet mornings over cups of coffee while the kids run around.   Walks in the morning, all bundled up, on days that don’t have negative wind-chill factors. Maybe a hike in the woods through some snow if I can find someone else who’s up for it.  Cheeks all rosy from playing in the snow and time to do a bit of catch-up in the de-cluttering department and some cleaning that has been pushed aside for a bit too long (I looked at the baseboards in my bedroom this morning and *maybe* need to put them at the top of the list for cleaning, especially since sleeping with all of that dust can’t possible be good for bronchitis.)

How about you?  Are you ready for the upcoming quiet after the holidays? Do you dread it like the plague?

Today

December 17, 2012

Yesterday  Today was:  Errands for last-minute holiday bits.   Last-minute gathering of a list of names of adults attending the kindergarten winter party to ensure security.  A walk to the park for a cold and quick few minutes with friends, dragging dolls and the doll stroller and rushing home for a bathroom emergency.  Arthur’s Christmas (not to be confused with Arthur Christmas) while we snuggled on the couch under blankets.  A big pot of chili with cornbread.  A surprise visit from my Dad.  A list a little too long, but progress is happening. Way too much whining (me included.)  A grumpier-than-usual mom who is just a little worn out from all of the merry making combined with a lack of sleep from waking up and laying awake late into the night, every night since last Friday.

I wrote a long post about last Friday, I think I just needed to write down some thoughts to get them out of my head.  These problems and issues, they’re wide and deep.  But I just can’t focus on the political right now, not without thinking of all that’s been lost.  I want to use my energy to focus on those who need loving thoughts right now.  I’m not naive enough to think that it will change anything, but my thread of belief in goodness in this world runs deeply enough that I want to send goodness in any way possible to those in need right now.

I go through my days in a rhythmic pattern, each step reminding me of someone who will never do this again with their child almost the same age as mine.  Towels thrown on the floor and three requests to please go get socks and hair brushed and bowls of yogurt with bananas.  The oats go on top of the yogurt, then the blackberry jam that we made in the summer and I stop.  Who will pull their homemade jam out of their fridge and weep inconsolable tears in the weeks and months to come as they remember their little one running up and down the rows of blackberries when the sun was hot?  I stop and close my eyes to hold back the tears that sting and send more love, it feels like the only thing I can do in these moments of sadness.

Today was:  Actually using a hair dryer on my hair.  Running around for last-minute party supplies because I crashed at 6pm last night as we put the little ones to bed and slept for almost 12 hours straight, missing all of my prep time.  A quick cup of tea and Orangina date with the little guy while we prepped supplies.  A kindergarten winter party, all activities courtesy of Pinterest, complete with a trip home to change clothes right in the middle of the party because of a potty accident.  Sweet little snowman ornaments and treats.  A little guy with a spiking fever.  Puke all over the table.  A Charlie Brown Christmas and Mister Rogers all afternoon with intermittent kids napping with little pink fever cheeks.  A cancelled date replaced by take-out on the couch and re-runs on tv and a little too much bickering (from the adults, not the kids.)  Photo editing and gift wrapping.  Thoughts on projects for the upcoming year.  A realization that we’re likely not going to make a trip to visit Santa this year.  Reassurance that it’s all going to happen whether or not I finish all of my projects. Christmas will come.

As this month grows cold and dark and we all seek warmth in the ways we know how, everything becomes a bit more quiet. I’ve been longing for the days of January when I know I’ll be able to slow down much more with the end of both the holidays and my days at work again.  I know that people despise January for it’s shock of cold and loneliness, but I crave that break from everything desperately.  For the time to sit quietly by myself and think and pray and process all that was in the year before.  To focus energy on others in ways that I haven’t been able to accomplish through the everyday of fall.  There has been so much sadness and difficulty and tragedy this year and I’ve been trying to process it all lately to no avail.  Is it simply the lack of time as we cram these December days full of things to do places to go people to see?  Is it that it was all closer to home that made it seem much more than years past?  Is it just that I’m getting older and more able to comprehend the immensity of it all?  I don’t know the answer to any of that, but I know that I need the quiet to process it all.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings, hopefully no more sickness. Winter.  One more day of school, one more work day for John, two more work days for me, then it’s officially holiday time!  How are you doing in this season of festivities? Prepping for Christmas?  Having some quiet after Hanukkah?  Sending many good thoughts to all of you for moments of peace while all of the hustle and bustle happens around us.

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