Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend recap

I’m not quite sure I remember what we did this weekend. Nothing noteworthy or genuinely remarkable but we spent the time together and that’s what really mattered. After a few weeks of being here and there, spending time just the three of us was good for our family.

Errands, cartoons, the pool, chores, helping friends move, movies, sleep.

All around a great weekend especially since I finally caught this on camera:

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Elizabeth standing directly under the waterfall at the pool with a big grin on her face. And if you look closely her right leg is about to start stomping. That’s her new thing. She stomps her foot when she’s excited about whatever is going on. To music, when we understand her, tasting ice cream; if it’s exciting to her, her foot starts stomping. And along with the stomping has come clapping.

We used to visit a local church occasionally and when the men and women were worshipping instead of raising their hands they would clap to show honor to God (or at least I think that’s why they were doing it). But Elizabeth’s clapping is similar…when she’s really happy or excited, when we’ve understood her, when she wants to let us know she likes it or wants more, she starts clapping.

I think I’ve brought out all of these in her. I stomp around the house singing songs, I started clapping and saying “yay!” when she did something correctly and now we have a clapping and stomping baby. It’s down right hilarious.

And again I’m reminded how much she mimics everything we do.

Happy Monday…did you have fun this past weekend?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday treat

In the eye’s of our 14 month old, this may have just made her month.

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Thank you Trader Joe’s.

Somehow in that one little bite you have provided a very happy teething girl and an excellent snack with only 5g of sugar…less than a graham cracker. Um, what?

These will be enjoyed many more days I’m sure!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

favorite summer salads

With Labor day coming up next week and still a few weeks of summer left, I figured that it wasn’t too late to post my favorite summer salads. If you are new to reading my blog you may not know that I hold Ina Garten to be my culinary favorite.

She’s basically taught me how to cook and inspired me to want to eat just about anything. Way back 7+ years ago I went to France on a summer missions trip through Campus Crusade and I fell in love with open markets and the beauty of fresh food. When I came back I began cooking more for the family I nannied for and food from Ina Garten’s cookbooks was what I prepared. It’s everyday, classic, comfort food that gets taken up a notch.

From Ina I’ve learned to use the best ingredients I can afford and find, that good food doesn’t have to be super fancy or made from things I’ve never heard of, and that simple can be elegant. If you get a meal from us or you come and eat at our house I can assure you that something on our table will be inspired by Ina. She’s never let me down yet and I’m certain she may never.

So back to my three favorite salads for summer…I should note they are all free of greens. I’m not sure what it’s been this summer but salads with greens just haven’t been what I’m craving. Instead I’m loving vegetables mixed with pasta, bread or atop gooey cheesy tortillas. I love that most of these just require pantry staples and fresh vegetables which makes summer cooking even easier. So here they are, all recipes from Ina Garten with a couple changes here or there.

1. Greek Panzanella


While I love Ina’s traditional Panzanella, I love her Greek version even more. I love the crispy bread croutons, the bite of feta, and freshness from all the vegetables. I’d eat this everyday.

2. Guacamole Salad

We make this one often because we always have these ingredients on hand. I guess you could say we like Mexican-inspired dishes. The main change I make to this one is that I add cilantro (Ina has an aversion) and we usually have it atop cheese quesadillas to make it a bit heartier.

3. Roasted Vegetable Orzo


This is seriously my favorite. I’d eat it everyday. Literally. The creaminess of the orzo mixed with the bright lemon and feta, so amazing. It gets better after it sits and it’s perfect warm, room temperature, or cold right out of the fridge. Oh and I always use less oil than mentioned. Just eyeball it:)

Do you have a favorite summer salad?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Last days of summer

The days are growing shorter and those filled full to the brim with sunshine are on their way out as days and weeks give way to autumn. So we’re holding as tightly as we can to the days we have left. Taking full advantage of these hot morning and afternoons, making time for the pool and laughter and fun.


Yesterday with the temperature hovering at 90 degrees it didn’t take much to get Daddy to join us at the pool for some late afternoon fun. Elizabeth loves the water…I mean, LOVES the water. Going to the pool twice in one day was basically her dream come true.

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She’s our water bug…and what Daddy learned yesterday really quickly is that you cannot take your eyes off her. She’s fearless in the water, running out to deeper water. She comes alive there.


Our neighborhood pool is just a 5 minute drive and has a splash pad/kiddie pool and a regular big pool. We always spend time in both areas and it’s been so fun to watch her grow in her abilities. Over the summer she’s learned to blow bubbles in the water, put her face under, climb out of the pool (with a little help), and go down the baby slide and crawl through the tunnel. She’s very brave.

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Nothing stops her except our firm grip on her hand when she wanders deeper. The spigots of water and crashing waterfalls only entice her to come and experience. Curiosity gets the best of her. And we’re not complaining since near the water is where we love to be. But having Daddy with us, well that was a rare treat and it made the last days of summer incredibly memorable. We’re so thankful we were able to go so often this summer and enjoy the water.

We can’t wait for next year…

Monday, August 19, 2013

The day of unfortunate events

Sunday morning I awoke early and while lying awake the silence was broken by the sound of a small little cough from the next room. Baby girl had awoken and it seemed the cold that was burgeoning the night before had not broken but only grew worse.

I slowly ambled next door to her room, wrapping my robe about me, and found her smiling at her crib rail, trying patiently to hold back the coughing fits. As I grew closer to her I realized that the clear stuffy nose I thought was due primarily to the three molars emerging, was instead green snot oozing from her nose. Ugh. Summer cold at hand.

And my next thought was coffee. I was going to need coffee to get through this day. And we headed downstairs to the coffeemaker when I realized I never bought coffee filters the day before. Plus coffee making just seemed like too much work and so we waited, playing quietly for 8am to come around so we could head to Target for cold supplies and the coffee that would start my day.

Not wanting to wait longer we started out earlier, somehow forgetting the time the store opens, and arrived at 7:45 to closed doors. To Walgreens we’ll go and grab coffee next door and so we drove and ugh. The door read 8am. Sunday morning doesn’t bring early customers I suppose. And so we walked next door and secured what seemed to be the only thing going for me. The coffee that would help get me through. And it was good.

As 8am rolled around we found our way to the sickness aisle and found our needed supplies; more Vicks for her heels, saline spray, cold tablets, boogie wipes, and apple juice. Armed with enough germ fighting supplies I left feeling confident this day would get better. And for awhile it did.

But then I remembered that our small group was supposed to be meeting at our house later that afternoon. Surely so many with tiny ones wouldn’t want to be in the sick house despite quarantining baby girl off to the lower level. Thankfully a friend offered up their house and I would still bring the food I was planning on serving.

So as the day passed we watched cartoons, played on the floor, read books, drank apple juice, napped, and somehow I still managed  to make the meal for our small group. After the last nap of the day the hours dwindled and Nana and Papa arrived for baby watching.


We welcomed them in and noting that I had some time to spare I sat down to chat with them and then it happened. Baby girl came running towards me, tripped on the carpet, and I watched, unable to stop her, as she slammed her chin into the chair I was sitting in. Not usually one to cry after something like that I knew as the sobs came that something wasn’t quite right. I quickly picked her up and oh my, the blood.

Pouring out of her mouth it came, as I ran with her to the kitchen and attempted to the best of my ability to get it to stop. Her shirt looked like a crime scene, stained red and her poor little mouth had seen better days. Two puncture wounds to her bottom lip and a 3/4 inch slice under her lip. Poor baby had a puffy lip and a stuffy nose. This day wasn’t necessarily getting better.

And after getting the gushing to stop we assessed. All three of us trying to discern how bad the damage was. And on the phone I got, calling our after hours care at our clinic. It was then that I realized my inability to understand math was really going to hinder our ability to communicate. The doctor on call returned my phone call and asked how bad things were. I said she had a couple of lacerations on her lip around 2cm. What I meant was 2mm but apparently in all the excitement my brain ceased to function despite all the coffee I had made sure to consume.

And it seemed that once I could fully communicate the damage across phone lines, the final decision was to head to the ER in fear that the cut under her lip would need some attention. Unfortunately our food never made it to small group and neither did I, but that was far less of an issue. I realized then how thankful and blessed I was to have my in-laws along for the adventure our Sunday afternoon turned into. It was so nice to have some company. And as I sat down in the waiting room my mind discerned that this was probably not going to be our last time here. Our baby girl is incredibly curious and adventurous. I might as well make peace with that now. At least I had the forethought at the beginning of summer to purchase a first aid kit for the car which came in handy when the doctor told us to apply gauze to her lips. Well chalk that up as a win for me. Gauze I can do.

No stitches were needed and by the time we left the ER an hour later it seemed our daughter thought the whole ordeal was no big deal. A big fat lip was not going to stop her from eating, drinking out of her straw cup, or sucking on her pacifier. I’m often astounded at her pain tolerance. She definitely didn’t get that from me.

And on arrival home we both breathed in a big sigh of relief as daddy walked through the door. And to think we had dinner, ready and waiting for us. Somehow the little things were taken care of. We’d come full circle yesterday…a good start with an even better end and everything we could possibly imagine in between.

And over our late dinner, my heart reminded me that it seems when we’re all together again everything is right in our little world.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

An ordinary Saturday

Saturday is here. Market day.

And over the course of the summer, it has slowly become my favorite day of the week.

Every week is the same, for the most part, and it’s usually filled with slow mornings and family afternoons.

We wake whenever the baby wakes and go from there but first on our agenda every week is a trip to the market.

We’re blessed to have a great farmer’s market within a couple of miles from our house. Not only do they have delicious treats and live music but it is also where we pick up our CSA share.

This is our third year doing a CSA share and I think it may be my favorite year yet. I love how our farm, Fazenda Boa Terra, brings their fares to the market and as a member you bring a big bag and just fill it to the brim.

This week was especially bountiful and I realized I’d made a mistake by not bringing the stroller with me.


$25 bought us all of this beautiful organic goodness.

watermelon, string beans, 6 ears of corn, eggplant, kale, new potatoes, tomatoes, arugula, broccoli, basil/cilantro, hot peppers, squash, cucumbers, cabbage, red onions


One trip to the market early on a Saturday morning just about makes my day. Especially when the husband is away and coffee just seems like too much work. Coffee, produce, sunshine, and a baby who can walk.

Seriously, that last part saved my behind today. Should have brought the stroller. Melons and bags of produce are heavy.

And now for the rest of our day…naps, errands, and friends to visit with.

A grand Saturday indeed.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I Support You…

“The I Support You movement is a respectful, empathetic, compassionate exchange between parents. We all feed our children differently, but we are all feeding with love, and in ways that work for our individual circumstances and family dynamics. I Support You is the first step in helping formula-feeding, breast-feeding, and combo-feeding parents to come together and lift each other up with kindness and understanding.”

-from Mama From the Bay

It’s National Breastfeeding Week (and month) and somehow a year has passed since I wrote about breastfeeding last. So much has changed since then especially since Elizabeth is no longer nursing. We weaned at 13 months old and everyone has been doing great.


I wondered what to write this year given our new routine and I decided that I was not going to write a post about the great benefits of breastfeeding or how “breast is best.” I don’t want to tell you that it’s liquid gold or god’s gift of nutrition. I’m not going to make you feel like you are less of a mom if you choose formula or don’t even give breastfeeding a try. Because it’s not true. There are times in your mothering when you feel like you are less than what you should be. And it’s a lie.

I don’t want to make insensitive remarks, though I know I’m not immune from this and I don’t want to make a blanket statement with a “but” attached like this, because they make me cringe inside:

“Breastfeeding is the best thing for your baby and everyone should try it, but if it doesn’t work, I won’t judge your or make you feel like you are less of a mom. You aren’t.”

Instead I’m going to make a statement like this…

“I support you. Breastfeeding is not always the best choice. And that has nothing to do with whether your milk flows or not. You are a fantastic mother for caring for your child and providing them with an abundance of care and for feeding them with love.”

End of story.

Because I’m tired of hearing the “but”. I’ve noticed that I use the “but” too often when talking about things I’m passionate about. Most of us state our politically correct, blanket statement and then we throw in the “but” to tell it like we really see it. It’s everywhere and more than ever I’m trying to remove it from my lips. It’s going to be hard, because I know I do it more than I care to think about, but I’m trying. Because it’s not always helpful and it’s not always loving. There’s a time for it of course, but not when talking about breastfeeding vs. formula. We need each other in our mothering. We need a community that comes alongside and says “I support you”.

And so here’s the real story behind our story. About halfway in I wanted to quit. I wanted to stop breastfeeding because I wanted my life back. I know we’re supposed to lay down our lives for our kids but I wanted the flexibility back. I wanted to leave her and not worry about pumping and washing parts. I wanted to let others feed her and just go about my day. But I never quit because I was too ashamed. You see, I didn’t have a good enough reason to stop.

Isn’t that silly? I felt, somehow, in my very depths, that I needed to have a reason to back up our decision. My reason was purely selfish. I produced milk. I was able to breastfeed. I just didn’t want to anymore. I knew the benefits but I also knew plenty of children that were thriving without being fed breast milk. In my mind the benefits weren’t swaying me to continue. And no, I, deep down, didn’t feel like a horrible mother because I would have turned my back on the benefits of liquid gold. I felt like one because of what I thought people would say or think. Which, of course, is a whole different struggle.

The story continues in that around that point I relayed all of this to our pediatrician and she shared with me astounding advice. “Just give her formula some of the time”. Plain as day. And you know what, we did. When we went out we left formula bottles. At night before bed, when she was 9 months old, we topped her off with formula. It provided just the break I needed to continue to one year. And at 11 months we introduced milk and made our way down the path of weaning. And if we had another baby I’d probably do the same thing when it came to feeding our baby. Because selfishly I liked that I lost the weight and I liked that we saved money and you know what, the benefits to Elizabeth were just the icing on the cake.

Maybe you are reading this and are feeling your heart beat a little faster or you’re thinking in your head, wow, she’s so selfish. The benefits for breastfeeding are clear, why wouldn’t you want to give your child the best? Doesn’t she know how amazing God made the woman’s body to provide for her baby? A few years ago I may have felt that way too.

And while that’s okay, I hope you’ll reconsider.

You see, Alex and I and millions of people across the Earth, in countries that do not promote breastfeeding and in our own culture, grow up to be well-adjusted, smart, healthy adults. And not everyone gets that liquid gold. And there are too many women who feel the pressure to breastfeed and just can’t throw in the towel even when it’s the best scenario for them, their baby, and their families. There are too many women coming home from the hospital in tears because they can’t or they don’t want to or they feel the heavy weight of guilt.

And that is wrong.

No one, especially in the days after childbirth, should feel immense guilt on how they are feeding their babies. No one should come home in tears because their milk didn’t come in or they don’t have enough. No one should feel like the only way to bond with their baby is by breastfeeding them. No one should feel saddened because they are not meeting the expectations of the world they live in. Because it’s a lie.

We know the benefits. We’ve heard the testimonies. We hear the roar of breastfeeding advocates. We observe with our eyes the number of covered babies. We know breastfeeding can be good and is good for so many.

But women also need to feel like they are supported whether they breastfeed or not; instead of feeling like they are wearing a scarlet letter if they choose not to. For any reason. And here’s some encouragement…for 13 months I breastfed a girl who was not attached to feeding. She was on and done in under 10 minutes from the time she was around 3 months old. It wasn’t a comfort for her. It wasn’t some great bonding experience. It wasn’t what all those people claimed. And I feel as close as ever to Elizabeth. Alex and I have bonded with her, we love to cuddle her up. And that had nothing to do with the breast in her case.

I know so many bright, well-educated, smart, courageous women have chosen formula from day one. I know women who’ve given formula because breast wasn’t best for them. I know women who’ve courageously faced the crowd of naysayers.

And they are excellent mothers.

And believe it or not, their children are healthy, smart, and incredibly delightful.

At the end of the day we are going to face thousands of decisions when it comes to parenting but if 13 months have taught me anything it’s that I need to figure out what is best for my husband and I and our children. And that is going to look differently, I hope, from others. Because we are not clones. We are individuals, unique families, all trying to do the best for those we love.

I support you because we need each other far more than we could ever imagine.

We need to know we’re supported by the ones we love. And we need to know we’re supported because parenting is tough, selfless, work. It’s hard work.

But I’m sure you’d agree, completely worth it.

Huffington Post has an excellent article here:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

wake of a storm

Gathered as neighbors sharing a meal. Departing early as the clouds changed from blue to grey. And just like that the storm was upon us.


And in the aftermath we all gathered again. Taking in the fallen leaves, the downed trees, the damage to homes and cars. Chattering about the gusts of wind and the power lines lost.


Just like that neighbors went from sharing a meal to helping a hand. And the scene is no different as the sun came up this morning. Chain saws purring, sap covered hands. As we all pitch in to clean up the mess.


We’re lucky I guess you could say…we cut our age old trees down months back, certain now they would have found their home upon our home or more unfortunate, a neighbor’s home. With very few trees in our yard our damage in minimal but the same can’t be said for those who live within yards of us.


Winds were stirring up last night, hail thrashing against the glass panes of our house, Elizabeth soundly sleeping through the storm. Somehow this all seems fitting given the eve of the storm. Neighborhood night out.


What a way to meet your neighbors than by offering a helping hand in the aftermath of a storm. Coming together…sawing, sweeping, helping, gathering.


We’re hoping the power returns soon but until then we’re enjoying this slower pace of life a storm brought in this Wednesday morning.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Kitchen update

We spent most of the morning on Saturday tweaking our cabinet plan and here’s the final revisions. I can’t wait for the transformation to take place although I’m not looking forward to being without a kitchen. But we’ll make do just fine.

built in

This picture is an example of what I was trying to explain in the last post. The cabinet to the left of the refrigerator will have shelves in the blind corner and will be where we house cleaning supplies, brooms, etc. The hutch, on the left, will be our coffee/toaster station along with storage for dry goods in mason jars with storage in the drawers for other small appliances. But what to do above the hutch? Thoughts?



oven wall







This view illustrates the changes happening to the area where we now have cabinets. We’re opening up the wall so we’re losing some countertop space to the right foo the stove but the window is moving down so we’re making up for the lost space to the left of the stove. And the picture isn’t right as we’ve decided to go for symmetry over function but you get the idea!

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The fact that our cabinets will now go to the ceiling has me giddy inside. That’s an extra foot and a half of storage space. And I am really excited to have more windows in the space. More light always makes things feel more open and spacious. And moving our refrigerator to the other wall allowed for far more countertop space as well.

patio view

The opening from the kitchen to our living spaces was moved and opened up as seen in the pictures below. Our square footage on our main level is not small but not huge either and we like having some separation from the kitchen to the living spaces. We are not the norm but to our defense we drew up the kitchen with the walls down and don’t even get me started on how little storage I had then. It just wasn’t going to work.


out in

Overall the changes to the kitchen wall will make a huge impact on how our main level functions. Right now Alex pulls a chair into the kitchen so we can interact while I’m making dinner and now with the opening larger he’ll be able to play with Elizabeth in the living room and still be able to interact with me. I can’t wait!

Last final decisions were also made on the styling side…

-Door in the kitchen will be painted a fun blue color and be full glass for even more light

-Going with a one bowl sink so I can have a bridge faucet. We installed one at our second flip house and I didn’t want to leave it there. I love bridge faucets!

-White subway tile with pale grey grout for the backsplash

-Hefty polished nickel drawer pulls – Hickory Hardware Studio II

-Last and final decision will be for a light above the kitchen sink. When I have a few to choose from I’ll definitely be polling for opinions.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Seeing white

Yesterday morning we started really planning our kitchen remodel. I have to keep reminding myself that until the cabinets come down this isn’t a reality and yet it’s really fun to start making all the final decisions. We’re 99% sure demolition is a month or two away and if it’s any reassurance to my heart, we do have our new microwave and range sitting quietly in the garage awaiting their new home.

Until then, I’m dreaming in white. A white kitchen has been my dream for as long as I can remember with accents of pale robin’s egg blue. Classic with touches of beachy-Nantucket flair. I’m still gathering my thoughts but after our first design meeting over coffee, we’re that much closer to bringing my vision to reality. I can’t wait to see in white. We briefly considered doing grey or navy cabinetry but at the end of the day we want to do this once, as we’re hoping to live here for the long haul and I know I would tire of anything but white after awhile.


So, this morning we hashed out the layout one last time to make sure everything was in place so the plan could be forwarded on to our cabinet maker. There’s still some tweaking to do but we’re that much closer.

6 months ago when we started dreaming of our white kitchen we were certain we would be buying the off-white Adel cabinets from IKEA. Seriously I love IKEA cabinets and all their inner components. I love how this kitchen came together…gorgeous! In fact, we chose the same exact pulls for our cabinets. Now that our plan has changed slightly I even asked Alex if he would install the drawer components from IKEA in our new cabinets. I was denied but seriously their cabinet innards seem indestructible…something that my clumsy ways would find assuring.

Our budget for the kitchen is definitely not big and IKEA cabinets fit the cabinet budget perfectly. But being the wise people we are we sought out some second opinions as well. We checked with Alex’s cabinet specialist at a local lumberyard/cabinetry shop, Home Depot/Lowes semi-custom cabinetry, and with a cabinetmaker in a city south of us. Believe it or not we will be doing our entire kitchen for the price of semi-custom from Home Depot/Lowes. We knew what we thought their pricing would be, given we’ve utilized their services often with clients, but, it was really expensive. Triple our cabinet allowance expensive. Money we don’t have to spend on just cabinetry.

But there was a silver lining to our cabinet debacle. Alex is in a Christian men’s business group with other entrepreneurs/self-employed men and one of them happens to partner with a local cabinet shop. They offered him their friends and family discount which ended up being amazing and after a visit to their shop we were sold. So now we are able, blessed really, to have custom cabinets for our kitchen for just a little tiny bit more than IKEA pricing. Seriously, still pinching myself.

So with our cabinets now custom there are a few fun things we are able to accomplish that we would not have been able to with IKEA. One area we just changed is alongside an empty wall in our current kitchen. I love the idea of a built-in hutch with plate rails above for my mason jars and thankfully with our revised plan we are able to make something like that work. Full detail still to be developed but I’m ecstatic that there will be a place to show off their beauty filled with dry goods!

I can’t find a picture to do the idea justice but you can imagine shelves on the upper portion with a plate rail, an open counter area at counter height for our coffee maker/toaster, and drawers below. And the entire thing will look more like built in cabinetry. When we have a screen shot I’ll share;) Our current kitchen is neither big nor small but it is definitely lacking in storage. This will help things considerably as will removing our soffits, taking the cabinets to the ceiling, and adding some much needed storage including a place for mops/cleaning supplies. While I’m excited on how things are progressing we hit upon a design dilemma.

Here’s the render view of our kitchen:


I tend to like things visually symmetrical and if we line our cabinets up the above wall symmetrically we lose the ability to have a hinged door for the corner cabinet. Without the hinged door the upper cabinets to the right and the left of the sink will be almost identical in size but if we keep the hinged door and eliminate a blind corner (which would be ideal since everything always gets lost in those) the cabinets to the right of the sink will be smaller throwing off the symmetry. The render above illustrates the size difference of the top cabinets which allows for the hinged corner doors.

So here are my questions for you:

Honor symmetry or go for function?

Anyone have ideas for the dreaded corners?

And on another note, one bowl kitchen sink or two?