Monday, September 17, 2018

Birthday Week

This week was one worth celebrating.

On Tuesday, Mira turned ONE. Wow, that year went by fast.

We invited family over and ordered pizza, made a kale salad, sprinkle cookies, and a smash cake.

Lots of confetti jokes were made.

In true one year old fashion, Mira inhaled the pizza and only picked at the smash cake regardless of how my sprinkles I tried to stick in her mouth. She enjoyed opening her presents (she adorably hugged the baby my mom gave her) while the older kids swam in the way-too-cold-for-babies pool.

Thursday was my birthday. I turned 34, which was the age I already assumed I was, so no big deal in my book. Dan was out of town for work and Danielle sweetly took over the festivity responsibility.

The day started with our friend Hannah coming over for coffee and Danielle giving me the best kale shirt and kale birthday card ever. Kale for life.

Cora sang me many many renditions of Happy Birthday all morning long.

I had a client meeting and shortly after I took Mira to her one year check up where the doctor reported that she is prefect in every way and then gave her four shots.

After work Danielle surprised me by inviting a few of my friends over for dinner! We had such a lovely night of chatting while the kids watched random (but age appropriate) videos on YouTube.

Other highlights of the week:

- Both Cora and Ina started dance lessons, which Cora has been looking forward to for weeks. We were there from 4:45 to 7 PM, so I set up shop with dinners packed for us all. Cora started out enthusiastically and did a great job of participating through her class and most of the thirty minute voice lesson that both girls are in. I decided to peek in on them about half way through and after it was her turn to sing, she spent the last ten minutes rolling around on the floor. Typical.

- I started reading Little House on the Prairie books to the girls (they love them!) and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and am just smitten with it.

- I went to the Athleta friends and family sale and completely spoiled myself with birthday money my mom and grandma gave me.

- We had a play date with our friends Aubry, Avery, and Addy and were even able to swim in the pool and not be freezing cold!

-My friend Kathleen from work is moving to home based. Although I am happy for her and her family, I am terribly sad to not have her in the cube next to me. She and her daughter came over on Saturday night, which was so fun.

Some good recipes from the past week:

Greek chicken bowls/burritos - seriously one of my all time favorite fast and easy meals

Loma Saltado - my birthday meal and so delicious!

Chopped wedge salad with smoked chicken and sweet potato fries

And for birthday celebrations:

Sprinkle Cookies - these are hands down the prettiest things I have ever baked.
Cheesecake brownies
Paleo chocolate chip cookies

Have a great week! <3

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Labor Day Weekend 2018: Johnson Shut-Ins and Elephant Rocks

Exactly one week before Labor Day Weekend, I decided our family should go on a little trip. Camping for a few days sounded like a good idea, and I remembered Dan telling me about this place a few hours away he went to as a kid. After sending him a text asking if he wanted to go (he responded with a resounding YES!) and calling every single campground in the area, I finally found a nice little cabin we could call home for a few days.

We left Friday afternoon and even picked Ina up from school an hour early, to her absolute delight. She adores school, but there is just enough rebel in her to get excited about leaving early.

I thought the trip might be cut off very early when Dan and I kept on arguing about directions...and then other stuff..., but then he took a long breath sand said, "We owe it to our kids to get along this weekend."

And we did. And what a weekend we had.

We stopped for dinner at a Chinese buffet, which made Dan and Ina happy little clams, as I despise Chinese buffets and therefore we rarely go to them.

We made it to our cabin (which Cora adorably called a "cabinet" the entire weekend) a little after 9 and the girls were beyond excited about our two queen beds, mini-fridge, table with two chairs, and microwave.

Saturday we went to Johnson Shut-Ins, a beautiful state park in its own right. We parked the car, loaded up the stroller, and walked the quarter of a mile it took to get to the shut ins. Although I had seen pictures, I was not prepared for the beauty of the water rushing through huge rocks in some places sitting as still as glass in others.

Ina and Cora immediately took off to play in the water and Dan attempted to follow them while I had to be a little more cautious while holding Mira. We climbed, slid, waded, crawled, swam, and fell our way up and down those nooks and crannies all day long, stopping only for a lunch we had packed.

Ina found a group of older girls to slide down a few of the rocks with and was giddy sitting up on the rocks with them in a circle, just listening to them talk.

Dan and Ina found a few big rocks to jump off at least 100 times. Cora and Mira preferred to stay near the edge and play with the smaller rocks.

We drove back to our cabin absolutely exhausted, with enough energy to start a fire and grill dinner (pizza + wings) before baths and an early bedtime.

Sunday we headed to Elephant Rocks State Park, which is only 20 minutes away from Johnson Shut-Ins. The second we pulled in the parking lot I saw the gigantic rocks and knew our family would have a good time. After a minor set back of our stroller tire exploding, we were off and starting climbing the rocks.

Cora took charge and was determined to find THE elephant rock. Any time we would pause to look at a cool mushroom or animal foot print she would yell, "Follow my lead!" or "Come on Guys!" or "Are we going to find this elephant rock, or what?!"

Ina enjoyed herself until we ran out of water and then she turned into a delicate flower. There was one point where she dramatically stopped me, grabbed my arm, pointed to her forehead and said, "Do you see this? This is SWEAT! I NEED water."

The state park's water was turned off, so after the nice woman in the snow cone truck filled up our bottle, she was in a much better mood. We ate our packed lunch and then knew that the kids needed some rest after hours of climbing around for two days in a row.

We got in the car and started driving and all three of them fell asleep within minutes. We saw a sign for another state park - Tom Sauk Mountain, so up we headed. Unbeknownst to us, this is the highest point in the state of Missouri, and man was it beautiful! The girls woke up just in time to climb to the top of the look out station and be "close to the clouds."

We were considering going back to the shut-ins for a few hours, but then Dan asked if we just wanted to find a spot on the river somewhere to play, which sounded like a fun (and less exhausting/more safe) idea.

This was honestly my favorite part of the whole trip. Ina and Cora floated down the river hundreds of times. Dan taught Ina how to skip a rock. Cora and Mira picked up rock after rock after rock. We just sat there and enjoyed each other as a family.

I eventually joined the girls at floating down the river, which was even more fun than it looked. Ina made up a song about swimming in the "Momma-ssippi" River.

(I also saved all the videos on a "highlight" in my IG stories for memories!)
We saw a few snakes and then decided it was time to go home, eat some hot dogs for dinner, and go to bed.

We woke up Monday morning and said goodbye to our "cabinet."

We stayed at a beautiful place that was designed for people with horses to stay, but it worked great for us. After stopping by the shut-ins to purchase some swag, we hit the road. On the way home we stopped at Onondaga Cave State Park for a cave tour.

This was another absolute treat. The cave was beyond beautiful and we (mostly) enjoyed the hour tour. There was one point when Mira was screaming while the tour guide was talking and I looked up from sushing her to see Cora climbing on the rocks that we were specifically instructed to not-so-much-as brush with our pinkie finger.

I loved the hearing the history of the cave and Ina seemed to enjoy learning about so many different things. At the very end of the tour, we even saw a bat! Cora was pretty much done by this point and kept asking if she could "go to my home to watch TV."

We stopped at a dairy-burg for burgers and ice cream for lunch, and then drove 4 hours straight to make it home right before dark.

I can't wait for our next adventure.

August Goals

Good morning!

Mira discovered the stairs. Game changer.

For the first time in nearly three weeks I find myself sitting down with a cup of coffee with nothing (pressing) to do except write. Our life has been so full (in such a good way) and fun that this little space has taken backseat. But, I have some fun stuff to share. I had most of the post below already written (from two weeks ago), so I will publish that and see how far I get before Danielle and I head out for our Sunday morning coffee walk.

A sweet moment from this week was that Cora tucked me into bed one night. She walked me to my room holding my hand, pulled back the covers and said, "there you go mom."

After I laid down she pulled the blankets over me and said, "OK, now close your eyes" and when I did she lightly kissed my arm, said goodnight, and walked away.

I almost melted right into the comforter.

One of my goals in the month of August was to put some more work into my marriage. On Monday Dan and I started going back to marriage counseling. Our family has been through some tough stuff lately and we weren't handling it the best we could as a mom-dad/husband-wife. When we walked into our counselor's office I had a worried feeling, as I didn't exactly know how the hour would go. We had some difficult conversations, and will continue to have them as often as it takes to wade through it all. Walking out felt a lot better.

Another way to improve our marriage - more dates! Mira is so close to being weened, which makes leaving her a whole lot easier. My dad came over on Friday to stay with the girls (and brought pizza and cookies!) while Dan and I headed out to sushi. Just a few hours away makes a big difference.

While we are on the topic of August goals, my other two were to decrease distractions at work and clean up my eating. While the former hasn't really changed (I seriously just need to delete Google Chrome from my machine), I have cleaned up my eating quite a bit with more real food and less pizza, ice cream, and wine. I also started tracking what I eat in the My Fitness Pal App in an effort to maximize my macro-nutrient ratios and am trying intermittent fasting out for a few weeks to see if it is a tool that might help me.

Saturday night Chessa invited me to join her for one of the coolest events I have been to in a long time - Rise (an a rooftop crawl for Big Brothers Big Sisters). Every place had its own theme and I was just giddy taking it all in.

Chessa and I walked from rooftop to rooftop just chatting and enjoying the scenery. We usually have kids running around us while we talk, so this was a rare and precious change.

I also want to tell you that I have fallen in love with this book, These is my Words. It is just the sweetest and makes me feel warm and strong and loving and like if this woman from the early 1900s can be be a good wife/mom/worker, then so can I.

Meals from the Week:

Monday: carnitas with cabbage slaw: I am fully convinced you cannot go wrong with pork in a slow cooker.
Tuesday: basil curry chicken with zoodles, rice, and roasted broccoli. I feel like the recipe okay, but not absolutely fantastic. I probably wouldn't make again, at least in the slow cooker.
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: chili and salad - it was cool and a big pot of chili sounded perfect
Friday: Date Night
Saturday: out with Chessa
Sunday: spaghetti (or zoodles in my case) with meatballs
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