memorial day in kansas city

How is it August already? Didn’t summer just begin? What is it about summer that makes us all so busy? The nice weather and conceptualized “break” from the routine of the “school year” seems to be engrained in me, even though it’s been a long time since the academic year dictated my life. Although, Willa is now wedded to the school calendar, so summer has brought a lot of freedom with her schedule. A lot of bonding time for us.

As soon as school finished, we hit the road as a family and headed due East. Some tornado warnings slowed our initial progress, but once the skies cleared we made good time and were delighted to spend a weekend with Dan’s mom and other extended family. There was lots of pool time, good food, and a baseball game. Most importantly, there was family bonding and the road trip was totally tolerable. The kids rocked it.

Photo highlights:

DSC01325^^shortly after we arrived, we went to check out the pool. the kids couldn’t contain their excitement and started to climb in, clothes and all (and helmet!).^^

DSC01333^^memorial day weekend marked willa’s discovery of her love of the pool! she had been really timid up until that time, but she realized how well her floaties would hold her up, and she then spent hours swimming around the deep end. it was the beginning of a summer of swimming willa!^^

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DSC01384^^frozen treats at grandma’s house!^^

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DSC01388^^humidity = green!^^

DSC01355^^cousins!^^

IMG_3635^^yay family and yay KC royals.^^

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.

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:

IMG_2234^^step 1: buy tickets.^^

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DSC00126^^step 2: ride the train. arrive downtown.^^

IMG_2242^^step 3: realize the “real” santa isn’t there on the sunday before christmas. WHAT!?^^

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IMG_2239^^step 4: have lunch while you try to regroup. mercantile dining & provision.^^ 

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DSC00149^^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!?).^^

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DSC00207^^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.^^

DSC00226^^step 7: go eat lunch at zoe mama. because, the best. and what else would you want to eat on christmas eve?^^

DSC00241 ^^step 8: ice cream. because the line for that is much shorter than the line to see santa.^^

DSC00232Hurray! 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.

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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!^^

wish list + wise purchases

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

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(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 simple thanksgiving?

This year, we kept Thanksgiving very simple. My sister and her husband came over for dinner. They live here now, which, as I have said before, is crazy awesome.

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However, “simple” meant that Dan and I were in charge of cooking the turkey for the first time. We’ve hosted Thanksgiving several times since we’ve been married, but there’s always been someone else to man the bird. Not this year. It was all us. And we cracked under the pressure. I cracked. We put it in too early because we were worried about putting it in too late. But Dan totally saved things and I somehow sneaked by, only making the pie filling and the cranberry sauce.

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It was a nice day. But a regular day too. Cameron’s been Mr. Fussy McFussville for the past few weeks, and he tolerated about 2 minutes in his highchair at the dinner table. Willa wore lipstick. Which is anything but simple. Ha.

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I have so many things to be grateful for, and I thought about that a lot on Thanksgiving. But I also am starting to realize how holidays change and evolve as you get older. They were simple as a child, but now even when we try to keep things simple, nothing is that black and white. Life is wonderful. But complicated sometimes. Wonderfully complicated. And at least there’s pie. And wine.

a skunky halloween

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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!

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  • 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!

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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?

DSC07733^^parents!^^

DSC07745^^future uncle jakob is an amazing child/toddler/baby holder (jackpot!). here he is showing willa the baseball stadium.^^

DSC07764^^ball parks offer overpriced beverages for everyone.^^

DSC07802^^love this shot.^^

DSC07801^^willa’s working on her photography skillz.^^

DSC07821^^waiting on the bus. <3^^

DSC07847^^beer drinking is a good thing to do on father’s day, no?^^

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DSC07881^^me and my men.^^

IMG_0150^^lots of fun street art near renegade.^^

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IMG_0155^^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.^^

IMG_0154^^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.^^

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IMG_0168^^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!

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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.

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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!).

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DSC07659^^”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! ;)^^

DSC07662-001^^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!^^

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DSC07549-001^^An inflatable pink frame = possibly the best $1.99 I’ve ever spent at Goodwill.^^

valentine’s day weekend

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DSC06586^^we started valentine’s day off with sprinkle pancakes. i suppose they probably should have been pink or red or heart-shaped, but sprinkles seemed festive and fun! and of course delicious. it was pretty much dessert for breakfast which made willa’s morning. mine too, actually.^^

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DSC06598^^dan and i went to brunch at argyll whisky beer. we don’t typically plan much for valentine’s day, but a month or so back i decided that by february we’d probably be ready for our first (non-family) babysitter, so i made a brunch reservation, and told dan the surprise plans on friday night. we were so excited to get out on our own for a couple hours, and argyll was a great spot. their menu and vibe had british flair, the servers were wearing flannel, and everything was delicious.^^

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DSC06627^^in the afternoon, we needed to run an errand on south pearl street, and while we were down there willa announced that she wanted pizza for “snack.” sexy pizza was nearby, so even though it was only 4:30, we decided to go in for a family valentine’s day dinner. willa ate more pizza than she ever has before – almost 3 pieces! she got very mad when we tried to cut them up or in half. “i want the whole piece!”^^

DSC06630^^willa was thrilled to get a valentine’s day balloon from her babysitter, and after that she was throwing a lot of “parties” in her play corner. here’s cameron, attending one such party with her balloon around his wrist. i love it once they reach the bumbo phase and can sit up and be a part of things!^^