Saturday, June 25, 2016

Everyday Life 6.25.16: kids, coffee, another good book

It's naptime and the kids are quiet.  I'm at the table with my computer and cold-brewed coffee and I have a list of tasks to accomplish, not least of which is writing this post.  Also on the list, just for posterity's sake, are updating the budget, downloading SquareCash, emailing a friend...and lots of other stuff that's bouncing around in my head.  But alas, I am subject to the limits of time and ability so finishing a photo book and updating our entire love story draft will likely not happen today.  I'm learning to be realistic in what I attempt....maybe.  

Speaking of cold brew, it's wonderful stuff.  I grind coffee on the coarsest setting, put almost a cup of grounds in a quart jar, fill it with cold water, and put it in the fridge overnight (or longer).  It's technically supposed to steep 12-16 hours but I've left it in longer without problem.  When it's done, strain it and enjoy your coffee with a bit of milk.  It's sweeter than hot-brewed coffee, with a bit of a caramel flavor.  We love it and it's nice to have coffee in the fridge ready to pour, especially on Sunday mornings.  I have actually had to cut back on when I drink it because I was getting so over-caffeinated that I was starting to have trouble sleeping.  Decaf cold brew, perhaps??  


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Emily: such a precious child.  Her hair is starting to curl and her eyes are turning brown and she's beginning to talk!  She'll take a phone (or another object, including her hand or mine), put it to her ear and say "'Ello?"  "Daddy" is her favorite word.  I think she's using it for people in general, though, not just for Joe.  (Though she certainly loves Joe.)  

Still not crawling or walking, but she's pushing herself with her feet, dragging herself along with her arms, sometimes doing both at once, and scooting along while sitting by putting her hands down between her legs and pushing/pulling herself forwards.  She also does a sort of pushup/plank.  Doesn't get her anywhere but it's sure cute!  She hasn't pulled herself up yet but if I stand her somewhere she's really stable, even if she's only holding on with one hand.  I wouldn't be too surprised if she just took off walking one day.  



Emily tends to be fussy after naps and before dinner.  I've discovered that a few pots and lids and some fruit (citrus works well; she can't damage it easily) keep her happy for a while.  And when that gets old, the piano makes a wonderful babysitter.  I strap her in her booster chair and push it up to the keyboard so she can play.  She loves it and it keeps her happy and occupied so I can finish dinner.


She also loves it when Joe and I kiss while one of us is holding her.  She tries to push our heads together so we'll do it again; cracks us up.  


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James has grown into such a little boy.  I still rock him before bed (he would be distraught if I stopped) but he's been having a hard time lately figuring out how to get comfortable and where to put his legs.  His imaginative games are so funny to watch.  Today he had one of Joe's belts attached to one of his trucks and was pulling it around, like a puppy on a leash.  He's started this trash collection game: he stuffs clothes or rags into the cleaning bucket and dumps it into Emily's walker.  The first time there weren't enough dirty clothes for him so he got his clean jammies out of his drawer and put them in with the dirty rags.  Now I try to make sure he has rags to use...


James loves to help in the kitchen and has a sixth sense telling him when I switch from puttering around and cleaning to actually cooking or baking something.  He'll start to push a chair over, saying "Help me?"  Today he did a great job of unloading the silverware from the dishwasher and then re-loading the dirty silverware.

Sometimes when he has a question or request he'll repeat it over and over, regardless of response.  He'll say it like a question (strong upward inflection), then like a statement (downward inflection).  Question, statement.  Today on our walk it was "Emmy in da fwing?  Emmy in da fwing.  Emmy in the fwing?..."


 Yesterday he took his apple outside and just sat on the patio for a while.  

He napped in his toddler bed the other day!  It was only because of major emotional trauma, however.  James has almost always slept with a fan on in his room.  The other day the power went out during naptime and he wasn't asleep yet--poor guy was so upset when his fan just up and stopped.  I finally got him settled back down but before he was asleep, the power came back on.  The fan turning on unprovoked was just about as disturbing as having it turn off.  So I settled him down again and put him back to bed.  Then the power went out again.  And came back on two minutes later.  By this point he was sitting in his crib staring at the fan and sobbing, exhausted.  I snuggled with him in the toddler bed and when he finally calmed down he fell asleep quickly and soundly.  Sweet boy.


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I just finished another really good book: The Listening Life by Adam S. McHugh.  It's a very broad look at the role of listening in our lives: listening to God through Scripture and creation, listening to others, and listening to ourselves.  I thought I was a good listener but I realized that I have a lot to learn.  I especially appreciated his thoughts on Scripture and his insights on what being a good listener to others really involves (silence does not equal listening), and his list of ways we don't listen well was hysterical and convicting.  I didn't agree with everything and some of it I'll have to think about for a while, but overall I highly recommend it.  I'll probably even buy it.  

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And finally, when you take your kids to the park, swing on the swings.  It's good for the soul.  The end.



Saturday, June 18, 2016

Everyday Life 6.18.16

On Thursday Joe didn't have a voice lesson so we actually had the whole day free!  We rather ambitiously headed up the Mt. Evans road.  I remembered Summit Lake being particularly beautiful, though it's been over 10 years since I was up there.   We ended up driving all the way to the summit while we were up there...might as well.  Emily was asleep by that point so Joe sat with the kids and I headed to the summit, just a short hike from the parking lot.  I usually prefer the scenery just a bit lower down, but it was amazing to be on top of the world again and to be able to see so far.  (Added benefit: no cell reception or data for most of the drive!)


Speaking of drive, I'd forgotten just how...exciting, shall we say?... the Mt. Evans road is.  It's just a little strip of pavement precariously glued to the side of a rather imposing mountain.  Sometimes it's just best not to look down.  And some people were driving motorhomes!!


Two kids certainly add to the excitement of a mountain excursion.  It's just different.  Still good, but one's subconscious expectations of going to the mountains and sitting quietly by a lake while letting the peace and quiet sink into one's soul are slightly difficult to achieve with a baby who just wants to be put down (but there's nowhere safe to put her) and a two-year-old on the loose.  So we'll adjust....enjoy the mountains through the eyes of the little ones and go on a date to the mountains if we want quiet.  I'm glad to be able to share this beauty with the kids; I want them to have lots of good memories of family outings together.  I realized driving up how many memories I have in the mountains.  


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Our pool is finally open!  Mom and the girls came over on Tuesday so we could go swimming.  It's a little much for me to take the kids on my own--I'd probably have to make them take turns sitting in the stroller and I don't think that would go over very well.  Emily loves the water!  It was her first time swimming; she was just a newborn last summer.  James loves the water too, but he's still getting used to the whole pool idea.  He mostly sits on the edge of the stairs and splashes with his feet or enjoys the snacks and sunshine aspects of swimming.



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I mentioned Joe and his voice lessons.  He's been studying with a great teacher for a few months now; he has an amazing voice but had gotten to the point where he felt stuck on his own and didn't know how to keep advancing.  It's been so fun hearing him sing, playing his accompaniments for him and seeing his confidence grow.  I love that we can do this for each other--give each other the chance to still pursue personal interests in the middle of parenting and life.  (He watched the kids while I played with the Colorado Young Sinfonia for their anniversary concerts a while ago, so it goes both ways.)

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We just got out James' train tracks again.  He built a train on them, but Emily pulled a few cars off.  He laughed loudly, then said "Sowwy, Twain!  Ooopsies!"  

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I recently started one of my favorite books again: Pilgrim's Inn by Elizabeth Goudge.  It's a beautifully written story and it rests me.  This will be the 6th time I've read it, if I'm counting aright.  All of the characters are so real and I relate to different ones at different times.  Lately I've been thinking about Sally and her joy in the tasks of everyday life.  Compared to her father, who wanted all of the latest conveniences in order to free himself for other things, "...Sally did not want to be set free for anything, for it was living itself that she enjoyed.  She liked lighting a real fire of logs and fir cones, and toasting bread on an old-fashioned toaster.  And she liked the lovely curve of an old staircase and the fun of running up and down it.  And she vastly preferred writing a letter and walking with it to the post to using the telephone and hearing with horror her voice committing itself to things she would never had dreamed of doing if she'd had the time to think.."

It's a refreshing thought and practice, finding joy and fulfillment in the work itself instead of just the completion thereof.  To relax and enjoy doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, tidying the house instead of just scrambling through tasks with a constant vague feeling of stress that I'm not doing enough fast enough.  I'm all for working quickly, but if I am always feeling stressed because I can't do it fast enough something's a little off.  I think I like Sally's way better.  


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Speaking of enjoying the task at hand, I've come to appreciate the 35-minute drive to my family's place.  It's a little mini road trip (that's a compliment; I love road-tripping).  I get the kids strapped in, load all.the.stuff, and relax for the drive.  Emily's happy, James talks about trucks, and I listen to music--often my favorites from Les Miserables.  It's actually somewhat restful.


All for now, folks.  Need to tidy up a bit more and spend some time with my guy.  Have a lovely Sunday!



Saturday, June 11, 2016

Everyday Life 6.10.16: keeping organized

Summer is here with a vengeance.  Yesterday was the hottest day so far this year (unless mayhap today has topped it) and the indoor temperature leveled out at 81 degrees on the thermostat in the hallway--cooler in the bedrooms, warmer in the kitchen.  It didn't help that it took me until today to realize that "fan" and "cool" are two different settings on the AC.  At least it's working now!  Our pool is finally open and James and I took the first swim of the season yesterday while my kind mum-in-law watched Emily.  I love the water.

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Today I thought I would write about a few of the things that are helping me to stay more organized and less stressed these days.  

This week I've gone back to one of my original ways of keeping myself on task: a simple little notebook.  One page for each day: I write out my tasks in the morning and check them off as I finish them.  I've tried using my phone reminders app for this, but I do so much better when my list is in plain sight and I don't have to remember to open the app on my phone.  (Besides, a notebook simply doesn't have the immense capabilities of distraction that my phone has.)  It's helping me to remember simple things (vitamins) and to be realistic in what I attempt in a day...helps me not to be disappointed when I don't clean all the kitchen cabinets and work on that photo book in addition to all of this.  :)  When I did this in college I would number tasks in order of importance, but at this stage of life I'm not sure that would make much difference.  If something doesn't get finished it rolls over to the next day or gets dropped.  


I'm definitely a list person.  Writing out a tentative weekly menu has been helpful for me; it takes a bit of stress off of the decision-making each day, even though the plan gets changed up regularly through the week.  I just bump things around when we end up eating elsewhere or having another, better idea (burgers weren't in the original plan).  


I just updated my meal idea list.  I have it categorized (pasta and random misc., meatless, chicken, beef) and I try to make sure that we eat a reasonable balance between all categories.  I just scan the list till I see something that looks good and then I write it on the menu (taking into account, naturally, whether or not the ingredients are available).  


As part of overhauling my cleaning schedule I made a list of household chores.  I know that all these things need to be cleaned but if I don't have a framework for when it should happen it can all pile up in my brain and create stress.  I wrote down all of the cleaning tasks I could think of and split them out by category (I went with Weekly, Monthly, Occasionally, and Very Rarely, thereby avoiding the pressure of having to remember things Quarterly and Yearly.)  I aim for finishing the entire Weekly category plus one or two tasks from the Monthly category each Monday; time will tell if that's doable on a regular basis or not.  :)  This is still a prototype.  I'm thinking that as I go along some things will be switching categories and I've already added some items that I forgot at first.  It is certainly helping me so far though!

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The kids are awake.  We're heading to Joe's mom's this evening for a campfire and hotdogs with the family.  Hopefully the weather will cool just a bit; they live up in the hills so it ought to be more temperate there anyway.  I need to figure out a topping for the chocolate chip cake I made and get us ready to head out once Joe gets home.  All for now!  Have a lovely weekend!


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Everyday Life 6.3.16: refreshing times

Last Sunday Joe was a dear and watched the kids so I could go out for a couple of hours by myself.  Wow--I knew I could use some time to re-group but I was surprised by how refreshing it was.  I sat by the creek at our local park for an hour or so and then moved to the library when thunder threatened (and the library had opened).  I'd forgotten how much time I used to spend in libraries before I was married...wonderful places.  It was delightful to be able to browse the aisles, pulling a pile of books just because I felt like it (it's like free shopping!), and then to sit down by the huge windows overlooking the lake and write for a while.  It was wonderful and my soul felt much more put-together by the time I got home.  


On Monday I ran out and picked up some plants.  I love to garden but our north-facing patio doesn't offer much opportunity (or sunlight) for many plants, so while we live here I'm settling for growing herbs and shade-tolerant flowers in pots.  Just getting my hands in the dirt makes me happy.  I'm excited to have fresh herbs for my culinary endeavors through the summer and I even took transplants from a couple of my herbs at home--the peppermint that nobody can eliminate and my original oregano plant (it's starting to think it's a bush).  James absolutely loves to help me water.


James cracks me up with his little ways of saying things.  "Open da wight?"  (open the light?) when he wants it turned on.  Or "Open da date?" (open the gate?) when he wants the blinds open.  "Da Dawbage Twuck!" is one of his most favorite things now.  I got him a garbage truck book and it's now his favorite by far; he's well on his way to having it memorized.  He sings a lot and when we visited my parents he was doing some pretty awesome left-handed finger-picking on Grandpa's guitar.  


Emily is 11 months as of Thursday.  She brings us so much joy.  The other day my mom was on the phone and Emily put her little hand up to her ear and started talking too.  :)  I got her a Pride and Prejudice board book (it's a counting primer: one English village, two rich gentlemen, and so on).   It's sooooo cute and it's fun to start collecting more girly books.  (Don't tell her, but I'm getting her Sense and Sensibility for her birthday next month.)  



I'm so grateful for good friends.  Especially when they also happen to be family.  The other day I took the kids over to Christy's (Te-Te, James calls her) and we had a lovely time sitting in the sun with tea, biscotti and handwork while the cousins played.   It's so nice to have a friend who's a few years further along the motherhood journey than I am.  (It's crazy to think that about ten years ago we were sharing thoughts about singleness, college, and such.)  Long term friendships are a wonderful gift.


Well, this one has percolated for a while.  It's Sunday again and I should get this up before the new week begins.  Have a lovely week, friends!  



Park time with Grandma!