Self-Care and Stuff


I’ve been a mom now for more than five years. This little girl’s birthday reminded me of that recently. It stopped me in my tracks, to be honest. How have we been doing this for so long?

I am happy to report that my young family is thriving these days. Gone are the days of struggling to sleep through the night (though we do have a visitor or two to our bed sometimes), strict this-kid-will-turn-into-a-deamon-if-not-asleep-by-7:30 bedtimes, and even potty training (though it seems to always be a work in progress). It’s been a crazy train, but now it’s turned into something else.

This change has happened slowly and suddenly. I find parenting always to be paradoxical. As you phase out of one stage and its challenges, you find yourself in a new phase with (yes) new challenges. We’re in a good rhythm of preschool and extra child watching, though that brings the worry of more expenses and time management. I love my free mornings when the kids schedules align, though I have more than enough to accomplish on my to-do list during these brief hours. And sometimes, strangely, I long for those baby years, where walks around the neighborhood in the Ergo comprised our morning hours.

I imagined this time without the kids to be productive and distraction-free, allowing me to work on my editing and writing projects without interruption. But I forgot that I might want to socialize, run errands, or exercise during this time. So far I feel double-booked, feeling the pull of work and all the other stuff. Again, it’s a luxury to have such a problem, but it’s not what I expected.

Another feeling that has come on suddenly is the desire to be more put together and more proactive in having time out of the house with my husband. I’ve been on a bit of a shopping spree lately, updating my clothes, shoes, and accessories. I want to look nicer because I feel more together. Like adult life has finally resumed after a long (years-long) pause. And I want to get out and enjoy time with my super-awesome husband more than twice a year.

Another thing: Now that there’s less time with my kids, I want to be present with them in the afternoons. I’ve noticed myself checking my e-mail less during rest time, opting to go phone-free to the park, and choosing to do more interactive activities than I had engaged in this summer. The autonomy my kids and I now have most mornings seems to be bringing us closer together, interestingly.

Though this transition period from little, little kid (pre-preschool) to little kid hasn’t been too difficult, it hasn’t been as straightforward as I once thought it would be. I spent this week reminding myself that what we are going through IS a transition, and that I need to give myself time to adjust. By November, I am sure we’ll be used to it.

First Stop: The Pumpkin Patch

As I mentioned last week, I am determined to make October more lighthearted than September. We’re off to a good start after enjoying some time at the pumpkin patch this afternoon.

We were drenched with rain late last week and this weekend, so this 65-degree, sunny day felt glorious. Plus, we’re all about maximizing our Monday family days to avoid weekend crowds. One bonus for Steve’s Sunday work schedule!

While at the pumpkin patch:

We checked out the corn and hay bale mazes.



We enjoyed a hay ride.


We took annual measurements.


And we got some really cute pics of these growing kiddos.



The rest of our month is filled with Oktoberfest, football watching gatherings, campfires, pumpkin festivals, fall fairs, and Halloween events. What a great time of year!

Happiness in October


Happy October!

We are welcoming this new month with cool temperatures. The week started with stifling humidity, which is a sure way to blunt enthusiasm for fall. However, this turn in weather has me excited. I am ready for crunchy leaves, long sleeves, and fire pits.

Last week I shared how busy we’ve been. In October I am pledging to curb the insanity and focus more on quality time with my family and create more strict boundaries with work and life, which can be tricky as a small business owner. I am trying to write out the expectations for my work week and be more strategic about what I say yes to. Money doesn’t buy happiness, so I need to find balance, while keeping my business sustainable. If this works, it could be a future blog post…

I promise to be blogging more frequently as I take back my life this month!

September Madness


Last days of summer

Just like its counterpart six months ago, I feel like September has its own Madness tournament, though there’s no basketball involved. Instead, the tournament brackets are something like “School,” “Work,” “Extracurricular,” and “Other.” The month starts with tens of items on the calendar — school shopping, yearly photos, school meet and greet, first days of school, first television shows, meetings at church, first day at church, first day of Sunday school, checks due to X, Y, and Z, back-to-school night, school picnic, church picnic, first day of gymnastics, work deadlines X, Y, and Z … well, you get the picture. Then, throw in a child’s birthday at the end of the month and the prep, thought, and execution required for it, and it’s one hell of a crazy month.

Oh, and the Pope’s arriving in our area tomorrow. Add one more thing to this madness!

I am happy to report that we’ve nearing the end of this tournament, and Nora’s birthday on Sunday encapsulates this harried (yet exciting) month. I’m hoping that October leads to a little more time and a little less stress. We’ve got to get to the pumpkin patch and pick some apples, so if that doesn’t happen, it’s time to re-evaluate.

It wasn’t a big photo-taking month, but here are a few pics recording this monumental month:


First days of preschool


Fall fire prep


First day where both kids go to school at the same time!


First pedicure

Here’s to the final weekend of September. It’s going to be a big one. Was it really five years ago when I welcomed my first baby to the world?!

Taking Back My House

We’re having a glorious late summer day here. It’s in the 80s but with no humidity. The nearly fall sun is in full glory, casting down beautiful rays of sunshine without oppressive heat. Can you tell that I am over summer?

Life looks much different this week than last. We’re in preschool and church mode now, so things are moving toward the routine side.

And do you know what that means for parents? TAKING BACK THE HOUSE!

After a long summer of paper scraps strewn about, small toys crammed in weird places, and floors sticky from sweaty feet and spilled juice, I am cleaning up. What does this mean? Trash bags, storage bins, and donation piles. Lots of them.

Now that my children are enrolled in more hours of preschool, I have decided that it’s time to reduce the number of toys we store on our main floor. I’ve slowly been migrating certain items to bedrooms, and we have a catch-all attic just for play things. I am over having a first-floor playroom devoted to plastic, colorful, and messy things. I am ready for a more grown-up space that fosters free play for kids without it being so dominating.


Enter, my cleaned-off side table. Yes, there are toys in the storage compartments, but I am reserving the tabletop for non-toy items (the photos are marking my territory!). It can feature a gallery of kid sculptures or a Christmas display, but it will no longer feature Little People, swords, or abandoned game pieces. Having this so sparse reminds me of Gretchen Rubin’s theory about keeping an empty shelf in your house. She says that for most people, having “outer order contributes to inner calm.”

My other source of outer order today? The craft/game hutch:


So let’s all take a collective sigh of relief. The fun bus has left the building until next summer. For now, let’s enjoy some less-cluttered homes.

One Final Summer Post


I woke up on the early side to see my hubby off this morning to work on his first television show of the “season.” Starting today, there will be no more vacation days in his schedule until February. Though we used to consider this inflexibility a sentence, we’ve learned to enjoy this time and embrace our routine.

The school-aged kids in our area head back to school today, though my kiddos have another week of summer. It’s time to take back our parks and museums! ;) We’ve got a jam-packed week that includes an open house at their school on Thursday, and I am curious about their reactions once we cross the threshold of their school building.

Though I am a broken-down mess by this point in the summer (yes, I just bought orthotics after a long summer on my feet!), I can’t help but be a bit nostalgic about the fun we had. Honestly, it was the most fun-filled, productive, and adventurous summer I’ve had in ages. Here are just a few highlights from August (granted, we had May, June, and July too!).

We saw the beach again.


We met Lucy the Elephant.


We relaxed in hammocks.


We indulged in treats.


We got some balloon animals.


And we saw the mountains.


As I mentioned last week, these adventures are sure to keep me going throughout the school year, even in the depths of winter. Now that we’re winding down our ambitious summer, it’s time to relax.

Enjoy some fall beers and sword fighting people!


What Football Means to Our Family

At Eagles' Training Camp a Few Years Ago
At Eagles’ Training Camp a Few Years Ago

If you love sports, chances are you enjoy sitting on the couch Sunday afternoons in the fall consuming as much professional football as possible. For many (including us), this ritual gives us permission to relax, enjoy some dramatic story lines, and witness amazing physical feats (and eat some serious game-day food!). Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved watching football and a lot of other sports, too.

For our family, football season means a dramatic change in schedule. Steve works for that big football-producing corporation, and his days off shift from September through February. Starting next week, he’ll be off on a weekday and work Sundays. While this can be inconvenient, we’ve gotten used to “the season” and know how to prepare for it. One of the reasons we live it up in the summer is because fall and winter don’t amount to much in terms of travel and adventure for us. We pretty much hunker down, watch our favorite sport, and enjoy the home-based things life has to offer. Thankfully, fall is a great time to sample local festivals, enjoy campfires in our backyard, and get back into the routine of school, church, and work.

I’ve been a busy bee this week preparing for this shift. In addition to Steve’s work calendar looking different, my littles to head back to preschool in a few weeks. I began ramping up my own workload to prepare for their synchronized schedules, and I can hardly believe we’re just “thirteen sleeps” (as we term it) from our new routine. I am excited, a little misty-eyed about the kids getting older, and ready to tackle what’s next.

And let’s hear it for the start of September! I have to admit that some pumpkin-flavored items made their way into my shopping cart this afternoon!

Mountain Air


On Thursday morning, my parents drove my kids and me to the mountains. We were visiting for a week, and not until the end of our visit did the smoke, caused by Western wildfires, clear. Up, up, up we went, climbing a switchback road. We passed the ski resort where I learned to ski and enjoyed lots of fun times as a teenager. We crept along a gravel dirt road and finally parked in the visitor parking at Shafer Butte, a point in the Boise Ridge mountains that is more than 7,500 feet above sea level.

As the kids enjoyed stick collecting, chipmunk spotting, and rock climbing, I looked at the view ahead, breathed in some fresh mountain air, and made sure to store the beauty from the peak in my mind. I won’t be getting back to these foothills of the Rockies until next summer, so that memory has to keep me going for some time. When the snow settles in March for the upteenth time and I haven’t left the house in what feels like sixty days, I’ve got to come back to that moment on the mountain. That’s where the beauty of nature and life hits me hard and reminds me that we’ve all got a good thing going.

And did I mention that I revel in taking my kids to these places?


On Vacation

Hi there faithful readers! I just wanted to pop in here to say that I am taking an official vacation from this blog for the next few weeks. Every time I’ve intended to post here lately, something has gotten in my way.

We’re still in summer form at our house, traversing the country and staying cool. In just a few short weeks we’ll be getting back to the routine and shipping off to preschool. That’s when I’ll be able to fit in blogging for fun again.

So maximize this final stretch of summer. Fall beer, football, and cooler weather are not far away!

OMG August


I am not a fan of August. Around these parts it’s hot and humid to the extreme. We’re battling mosquitos, ants, and squirrels too (yes, they did eat through our trash can to eat some rotten potatoes). Summer has been in full throttle for some time, and my energy levels have dropped. The Type-A part of me yearns for organization and routine, yet the calendar belies my wishes. September and the preschool year remain far away.

Last week was hard. After returning from a picture-perfect stint at the beach, I had to gather my bearings. My children, after months and months of fun, were anything but angelic, and we needed to make a few difficult decisions about the school year and life in general. Plus, after working like a crazy woman in July, my freelance pipeline had slowed (it is August!), and I had too much time to think.

Thankfully, after a calm weekend where I focused on family, our farm share, and not much else, I am back to reality. The second floor is clean, the panty is organized, and the kids are eating healthy food again. And today reminded me that I was well aware of how much I hate August: I dropped Nora off at camp, the first of many structured activities this month.

I am trying to change my approach here and embrace the slower work schedule, enjoy the remaining weeks without a hectic docket, and engage with my cooking skills again to enjoy summer’s bounty. Wish me luck!