new season, new goals

With the start of a new season, there’s often an urge to make promises to yourself; to strive to accomplish goals you’ve set awhile ago.

Lately, I’ve been really feeling this. I want to work harder on several things that are important to me. A few big goals, but mostly little ones. Some are things I used to do but have fallen by the wayside. Some are things I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t gotten to. Some are random. Some are predictable. I know I won’t get an A+ on this endeavor. But I’m going to try my best. (And be glad the days of getting grades are long behind me.)

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Goals for the rest of 2016:

  • Send more letters and cards by post.
  • Cook more. Mostly whole foods. Don’t cave and give the kids things we don’t really want them to be eating.
  • Spend 10 minutes of focused play time with each of my kids, twice a day. (Read this, and this for more on the topic, plus numerous parenting books!)
  • Blog more. At least one post a week. Do the updates/reformatting I’ve been planning for way too long.
  • Create our “family yearbook” of photos for 2015. (Nope, that year is not a typo.) Start the 2016 one.
  • Complete the household projects that we’ve been thinking about forever: new curtains, craft area for kids, laundry room organization, pictures in various spots around the house, the guest room closet…
  • Don’t plan on exercising during Cameron’s naptime.  It never works.
  • Host a party occasionally. I like parties.
  • Plan a new activity/park/outing once a week. I love our neighborhood, but I tend to do the same things and go to the same places all the time. I need to keep expanding my/our horizons.
  • Don’t drive if I can walk or bike. Unless the weather is really bad. But sometimes, go places I have to drive to.
  • Continue to reduce our waste. Don’t buy things in packaging if they can be obtained without packaging.
  • Minimize screen time before bedtime. Find an alarm clock to replace our phones.
  • Complain less. Just address the “problem.”
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while i was snapping…

I’ve been given a hard time lately for a dearth of Instagram photos. I used to post at least once a day, but in recent months I’ve waned. Mostly, my aging phone has been to blame. Every picture I took was blurry and not Instagram-able. But, also, I must admit, Snapchat has been dominating my social media time. I really like Snapchat. It’s fun. And quick.

However, Snaps do indeed disappear unless manually saved, so I best post some pictures on this here blog lest we forget everything we’ve been up to lately. Here’s a roundup of pictures from the past month or so!

IMG_3352^^spring has been coming and going, but i think the nice weather is finally here to stay!^^

IMG_2775^^biker cam! we’ve been biking a lot more, but the two kids are pretty heavy in the trailer, so when the whole family bikes, we put one of them on the back of dan’s bike.^^

IMG_3405^^one of those bad shots i referenced from a roller-skating birthday party!^^

IMG_2825^^flowers on our cherry tree!^^

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IMG_3439^^that montage is called: “eating out with kids is fun…”^^

DSC01173^^so much magna tile fun with grandpa!^^

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IMG_2848^^yay for backyard time!^^IMG_2891^^celebrating A&J’s birthday!^^

DSC01238-001^^girls’ spa day in boulder for our dear friend sara’s baby sprinkle!^^

IMG_2896^^mother’s day lunch at taste of thailand. SOOOOO GOOD!^^

IMG_2899^^her “celebration of learning” at school. she was so excited to show us what they’d been working on but mostly she was thrilled to “be in charge” all night. ;)^^

IMG_3520^^pizza delivery race at her school’s field day!^^

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:

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DSC00370^^fancy clothes + family pizza night to ring in 2016.^^

IMG_2491^^new year’s day walk around sloan’s lake. it was COLD. cam had a busted lip from falling on our shoe bin.^^

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DSC00409^^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.^^

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IMG_2558^^lunch at osaka ramen. i was sick and probably shouldn’t have even been there, but willa was full of energy!^^

IMG_2569^^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.^^

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IMG_2417^^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.^^

IMG_2427^^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.

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.

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DSC09959^^decking the halls! decorating the tree whilst eating eggnog and spinach balls. cam ate most of them.^^

DSC00001^^easy and exciting advent activity: “at home facials” ^^

DSC00022^^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.^^

DSC00031^^slow morning with breakfast by the tree. three cheers for trader joe’s pain au chocolat!^^

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DSC00089^^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!^^

spicy pork lettuce wraps

There are many, MANY reasons why I am not and could not be a food blogger. One of them is that I never remember to take pictures of food while I’m making it. Sometimes I strike upon a great dinner by chance/luck/skills and I’m like, “man, if only I’d taken pictures, I could blog about this!” But then again, since my blog has no real specific direction, I can blog about whatever the heck I feel like, pictures or not. Right? Right.

A week or so ago, I made the best (BEST!) pork lettuce cups. I often make some version of stir-fried ground meat with Asian seasonings and serve it in lettuce leaves. But, for years, I’ve never really had a go-to recipe. I’ve made different ones, or just improvised, but I’ve never found a go-to, staple recipe. The wait is over. This one is it. A keeper. It was so good. Easy to make, yet super flavorful. Pretty much what we’re all striving for in the dinner department, no?

And then, icing on the cake, I made it again the other day and remembered to take pictures. So, basically, I am a food blogger?

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Spicy Pork Lettuce Wraps
Serves 2-3. Easily doubled.

1lb ground pork
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1c shredded or sliced carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
2T minced peeled ginger
1t Siracha
1t sugar
2T fish sauce
2t sesame oil
2T plus 1T grapeseed oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2T oyster sauce
1/4c (large handful) mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4c (large handful) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4c (large handful) fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
24 Boston or iceberg lettuce leaves

1. Mix the pork, red bell pepper, carrots, garlic, ginger, siracha, sugar, fish sauce, sesame oil, and 2T grapeseed oil in a bowl.

2. Heat remaining 1T grapeseed oil in a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the bowl of meat, vegertables and seasonings. Stir-fry until the pork is cooked through. Don’t stir constantly; allow the pork to brown in spots.

3. Remove from heat, and add the oyster sauce, scallions, mint, basil, and cilantro. Stir to combine. (Alternatively, allow meat to cool to room temperature, and then add the herbs. This will keep them from wilting as much.)

4. Serve alongside lettuce leaves, with additional Siracha if desired.

being in the moment

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Sometimes when I’m reading blogs and looking at pictures of amazing people doing amazing things, I find myself wondering how much of their fun outing they spent trying to capture it in photos. Were those photos really shot quickly and effortlessly? Or were they staged and took 20 tries to get right? The blogger obviously wants you to think the former, but I’m sure it’s some of both.

I love taking pictures. Always have. When we’re out and about I try to snap photos when the mood strikes me, and then later I’ll see what I’ve come up with. I rarely have a specific shot I’m trying to get, but I do sometimes find myself trying to get some “good shots.”

My family was in town earlier this month. All of them. Mom. Dad. Sister. Future brother-in-law. We had a lot of fun. And they were a lot of help (2 kids to 6 adults seems like a solid ratio, no? ). Willa was in heaven. They were so happy to meet Cameron.

There was family time. Double date night. Mom-daughter time. It was great! But I didn’t take many pictures. On one hand, that makes me sad. But on the other, it makes me realize I was enjoying life and just living it. And I have lots of memories to cherish. Even without pictures.