A bit on blogging and my favorite blogs.

img_0143

Ah, blogging.  I love looking back at past blog posts.  I love having a record of the past four (five? How long have I had this blog?  A good blogger would probably know how long their blog has existed.) years because my life has changed so much in that time – engagement, marriage, job changes, pregnancy, baby.  But honestly if someone else could write the blog posts about my life, I’d let them.  I don’t love writing like so many of my favorite bloggers do.  Writing posts falls more and more to the back burner because I’m not passionate about it and therefore don’t prioritize it.  I think I posted twice or maybe three times in December.  Maybe I’ll stop blogging altogether at some point, but for now I try to just write a post here or there as I want to, as I can.

I’m very appreciative of the friendships blogging has brought.  Several bloggers I consider friends no longer keep blogs, but we follow one another on Instagram and/or keep in touch as pen pals via snail mail, and I like that the interwebs were site for friendship to develop.  There are other blogger friends that still keep blogs and I am always excited to see a new post from them.  I confess that I tend to be a lazy blogger and mostly keep up with bloggers that seem to keep up with me.  You read and comment on my blog, I’ll read and comment on yours.  I’m trying to get better about replying, via email, to comments.  I tend to let them stack up and then do a mass deletion party in my inbox because I’ve let so much time pass since the comment came in that it would be weird to reply!  I’d like to stay more on top of things and reply in a timely manner.  I also have been trying to reply to questions in the comments instead of emailing a reply, just in case other people are curious about the answer to the question.

Here are a few of my favorite blogs – the #wemetonline folks who still blog regularly and I think of as friends.

Rach at This Italian Family.  Rach was my first blog friend and she is the most inspiring and kind person ever!  Her blog is always such a joy to read – recipes, travel, photography, her pup Oreo, and her passion for bringing happiness to people in her life.

Allie at Allie’s Life.  Allie and I have become pen pals as well and she is so sweet!  She’s a fabulous baker and loves animals and her family.  She has a dog named Lola and a cat named Malcolm, who Rue thinks is really dreamy.  :)

Miriam at Farm Girl.  Miriam lives in Canada – British Columbia, I believe.  She and her husband just moved to a new place and the photos of it are breathtakingly beautiful.  Miriam loves animals and they own a lot of them – dogs, chickens, rabbits, horses…  My favorite is her big white dog named Bear.

Amanda at The Lady Okie.  Amanda is a good writer and always has clever post ideas.  She gives great book reviews, tells funny stories, and is very authentic.   Like many of these ladies, I think we’d be friends in real life if we lived closer.

Allison at Nestful of Love.  Allison posts some great recipes and craft ideas.  Her little boy is right around a year older than Ava, so I’m always making mental notes of things to try next year as she tests them out with him!

Nicole at Just Live It.  Nicole has a cute little boy and is expecting her second baby later this year.  She posts about their day-to-day and is a great photographer.

Rachel at The New Normal.  Rachel doesn’t post often, but I enjoy keeping up with her and her family.  She has a cat named The Fonz who looks a lot like Kiki!

The list is so short.  I miss Janelle and Becky and Gina and Jenny and Jen and…I’m sure there are others, who formerly blogged!  But Instagram is good for staying in touch with them.  :)

Other blogs I enjoy but don’t often comment on include Bridget at Tales of Me and the Husband and Grace at Camp Patton.

And there are a few people I know in real life – Tiffany at Little House, Big Life, Lori at Five Feet Rising, Britt at The Fisk Files….

What are your favorite blogs to read?  What motivates you to keep a blog?

 

2016 Reading Challenge – final report.

image

The 2016 Reading Challenge final list!

Allow me to begin with Ava’s current book total – she ended the year with just under 900 books.  She is so close to hitting the 1000 books before kindergarten mark and she’s not even 15 months old.  :)  We used to just read over her as she played – baby’s version of Audible.  Now she’s starting to get into books and she’ll pull out book after book and hand it to us with an urgent grunt.  “Please!  Read this now!  I must know about Brown Bear, Brown Bear!”  It’s really cute and we love that she loves books.  We’ll complete the 1000 books before kindergarten challenge and then take a break from recording her book count.  I want to do it again in a few years when she’s able to sit and understand and interact over the stories and pictures.

Now on to me, me, me…  Here are the categories and the book(s) I’ve read for each:

A book published this year.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld – 4 stars
The One You Really Want by Jill Mansell – 3 stars
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – 4 stars*
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – 5 stars
The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis – 4 stars

A book you can finish in a day.
Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic:  Lessons in Everyday Elegance by Jennifer L. Scott – 4 stars
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – 4 stars

A book you’ve been meaning to read.
The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty – 4 stars

A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald – 3 stars

A book you should have read in school.
There was nothing that I should have read in school that I didn’t read in school, so I decided to choose a book that is commonly read in school.  It actually wound up being one that I’d already read, but it had been many years and it was nice to re-visit Thornfield Hall.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – 4 stars

A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF.
Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides – 5 stars

A book published before you were born.
Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery – 4 stars 

A book that was banned at some point.
I just couldn’t muster up the energy to read a book in this category.  As a general rule, banned books deal in heavy subject matter and I just wasn’t up for heavy this year.

A book that you previously abandoned.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – 4 stars

A book you own but have never read.
Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery – 5 stars

A book that intimidates you.
The Bully Pulpit:  Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin – 5 stars

A book you’ve already read at least once.
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – formerly 5 stars; this time around I felt more like it was 4 stars
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – formerly 5 stars; this time I’d give it 6 stars if I could

Here are the books I’ve read that don’t fit into a category.  They are:

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead – 4 stars
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – 3 stars
We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – 4 stars
After You by Jojo Moyes – 3 stars
Baby Led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food by Gill Rapley – 4 stars
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – 4 stars
Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella – 5 stars
Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner – 4 stars

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – 3 stars
Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family by Catherine Newman – 5 stars
Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes – 4 stars
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer – 3 stars*
The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams – 4 stars
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani – 3 stars
Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin – 4 stars*
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris – 4 stars*
Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams – 3 stars

That was a total of 34 books for the year – far more than I expected to read, but a pleasant surprise in the end.  I just love reading and prioritize it over many, many other things that I could – and sometimes should – be doing.

I decided against doing a little synopsis and opinion of each of the above books because this post would be ridiculously long, but if any of the titles catch your eye and you want to know more, please let me know!  I’d be happy to share.

And to not leave Kevin out of this reading update, here is a list of the books he read in 2016 and his rating of those books:

The Opening Kickoff:  The Tumultuous Birth of a Football Nation by Dave Revsine – 4 stars
Influence:  The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini – 3 stars
Bit Literacy:  Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload by Mark Hurst – 2 stars
First, Break All the Rules:  What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham- 4 stars
The Personal MBA:  Master the Art of Business by Josh Kaufman – 3 stars
Thunderstruck by Erik Larson – 3 stars*
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan – 4 stars*
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Leading a Good Life by Mark Manson – 2 stars*
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to  September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll – 5 stars
Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by James C. Collins – 5 stars*
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris – 4 stars*
Taliban by James Fergusson – 4 stars

*Denotes audiobooks rather than hard/paperback or e-reader

What was your favorite book in 2016?  What are you excited to read in 2017?

A couple of thirty-something birthdays.

I turned 32 a few days ago and Kevin turned 33 back in December.  The birthday celebrations for each were fitting for thirty-something…low key and based around food and home – two of our favorite things.

Kevin’s birthday fell on a Sunday and Ava and I insisted he open his presents from us right away.  (She had her personal assistant – me – get him a photo that we know he likes for a frame in his office.  I got him a few things including this steak brand, which he really likes and I highly recommend as a fun, unique gift for the grill master in your life.)

We headed to Flying Star for breakfast, which was very tasty and filling, as always.  Then we went home and hung out and played for awhile.  Ava went down for a nap right around the time the Broncos started playing and each of those things occupied us for a couple of hours.  We grabbed coffee in the afternoon and just relaxed at home.  At around 5:00 we picked Craig and Sue up and went to dinner at Bravo.  Ava was a little charmer, as she tends to be in restaurants.

img_9963

img_9964

That little lady loves dining out.  We got gelato after dinner and paused for pictures at the big Christmas tree.

img_9949

img_9956

Then it was home.  Kevin enjoyed his birthday and we mega-enjoyed celebrating him.

The following weekend we traveled to Denver for a Broncos game; the tickets were an awesome and much appreciated gift to Kevin from his parents.  You can read about our adventures in this post.

My birthday rounded out the holiday season on Wednesday.  Every time we said the word birthday, Ava would giggle.  “Is it Ava’s birthday?”  Giggle-giggle-giggle.  “Is it Daddy’s birthday?”  Giggle-giggle-giggle.  “No!  It’s Mama’s birthday!”  Giggle-giggle-giggle.  She was really excited to talk about birthdays.  Kevin picked up burritos from our favorite burrito spot.  Bacon, Christmas (that means the burritos had bacon and both red and green chile).  Kevin went to work and Ava and I hung out.  We read books, played in her kitchen, did some laundry…  At one point we were hanging out in her room and I was sitting in her bear chair, talking on the phone.  She threw all the clothes out of one of her drawers and started rolling around in the clothes.  It was completely random and hilarious.

img_0390

She wore herself out and took an hour and a half crib nap.  Which, I like to think, was her gift to me.  I finished Truly Madly Guilty while she napped, and read a bit on Team of Rivals.  When she woke up she helped me get ready for work and we cuddled a bit.  My favorite.

img_0382

Kevin brought home Blake’s burgers and fries for lunch because there’s no time like age 32 to continue clogging those arteries.  I went to work and had a productive day.  At work they surprised me with a cake and bouquet of flowers and a card.  It was lovely.

img_0383

img_0386

I headed home around 5:00 and hung out with Ava while Kevin whipped up my requested dinner:  green chile spinach alfredo with chicken and rotini.  It was so very delicious.  Craig and Sue came over for the meal and fantastic, heartfelt gifts and cards.  It was a really nice time.  The card Kevin gave me was specially chosen for me by Ava earlier that day and she had basically held on to it all afternoon.  She didn’t want to let it go at the store when the clerk needed to ring it up and she’d carried it with her on her walk around the neighborhood with Kevin.  At one point on the walk she tired of it, I guess, and flung it over the side of her stroller.  Fortunately Kevin was paying attention and saved it.  Sue had brought cupcakes made from my favorite cake recipe that was passed down to her from a friend.  They had a delicious buttercream frosting.  After Craig and Sue left, we put Ava to bed and just enjoyed the remainder of the evening.  I was floored by all the sweet birthday wishes on Facebook.  It was also really fun to hear my phone buzz excitedly as text messages floated in through the day.  I love the people in my life!

And those were the birthdays.  32 and 33 are proving to be great ages, thus far!

Do you like big birthday celebrations? 

Snapshot {December}.

img_9961

Making: Lists in my 2017 planner.  I accomplish a lot when it is on a list and I know I’ll have the satisfaction of crossing it off when it’s done.  My plan is to write out in advance (like right now) five goals for each of the 52 weeks in 2017.  We’ll see how it works!

Cooking: Mmm, good food recently.  Yesterday we made the Pioneer Woman’s potato soup for dinner.  Tonight we made our favorite – pan seared chicken with balsamic cream sauce.  Tomorrow night will be our favorite beef stew and homemade bread.

Drinking: Water.  80 ounces each day.  Some days are tougher than others.

img_0024

Reading: Several books.  The Secret Garden on my phone.  Team of Rivals, slowly but surely.  Truly, Madly, Guilty, my current library book.  Kevin and I are listening to Duplicity as well.

Wanting: Ava to reach the end of her current teething phase.  The first set of top molars have been visible for a week and minimal progress seems to be happening.  Poor thing.  She’s also in a developmental leap which means she’s hyperaware and clingy and doesn’t go down for her regular bedtime as easily as usual.  Will I ever stop obsessing about her sleep habits and patterns and phases?  I certainly hope so.

img_0090

Looking: Forward to 2017.  A fresh year just feels so full of promise.  I don’t know how I want to capture each monthly recap on the blog, if at all.  I enjoyed this format this year and it allowed me to share my favorite five or six Instagram photos from each month.  But I don’t think I want to do another year of it.

Eating: Well.  See above under cooking.  :)

 Wishing: My parents and sister lived closer.  I know I’m very lucky that they’re only 2.5 hours away – some people are so much further from family.  But schedules prevent regular visits.  I wish Ava had the chance to know them the way she does her other grandparents.

img_0001

Enjoying: Some of Ava’s newest mannerisms.  She picks up books and holds them up to us, making this cute little grunting noise to indicate that she wants us to read them to her.  She’s also started dancing and girlfriend has rhythm on par with her mom, which is to say, no rhythm.  But it’s adorable.  I love how she pulls herself up on her little bear chair and looks so proud to be sitting there.  She knows where we keep the crackers and gets so excited anytime we go near it.  She’s a master climber of the stairs and has also gotten really good at going down them properly.

Loving: My new booties.  I thought I hated booties, but maybe I am just really, really picky.

Hoping: The weather allows us to resume our regular walks around the neighborhood.  It’s really so good for the mind, body, and soul to get that fresh air and leg stretch in semi-regularly.

img_0260

Needing: To remember this verse:  Ephesians 5:4 – “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”  Amanda shared it recently and it really resonated with me as something I need to focus on myself.

Smelling: Lavender mist from my diffuser.  So soothing.

Feeling: Relaxed and happy.  I am so blessed.

img_0286

Wearing: Sweats and a t-shirt.  New Year’s eve party clothes.

Watching: Homeland.  We’re on the first episode of the sixth season.  Poor Quinn.

What are you wishing/needing/loving/eating right now?

Christmas recap.

Christmas 2016 was a lovely one. Ava – at 14 months old – was old enough to realize that something special was going on, but too young to understand what exactly that special something was. She basically ignored the tree and we didn’t put the presents under it until Christmas Eve, so she couldn’t get into too much trouble with bags and boxes and tissue paper.

My mom and sister came to town on Christmas Eve and Craig and Sue and my great aunt and great uncle and a family friend came over for dinner. We served up tamales and posole which Kevin had ordered from our traditional spot. This is the fourth consecutive year we have done this with basically this same group of people and we love the tradition.

Earlier that afternoon Kevin, Craig, my mom, and my sister had set up the luminarias around our house. They were especially beautiful this year and a lot of our neighbors set them up as well so the neighborhood looked lovely. After dinner my mom, Kevin, and I walked a few streets in the neighborhood, admiring the lights and chatting with a few neighbors we saw out.

1

When we got home from our walk, Elf #1 (Lisa) was hard at work, setting up the little play kitchen we’d bought Ava for Christmas. Mom, Kevin, and I dove in to help and it was quite an undertaking! I think it took us about 3.5 hours to get that kitchen operational.

img_1256

img_1258

We are so grateful that Lisa and Mom were there to help. Otherwise Santa and Mrs. Claus probably would have moved the million parts into the garage and sent Rudolph to deliver it in the spring.

The next morning Ava woke up at her regular 6:30 and Kevin brought her into our room. While she nursed he brought our gifts to each other and her up into our room and turned on the fireplace. It was so cozy! We started to open gifts near the fire but Ava was a girl on the go and promptly crawled into the bathroom area. So we opened a few presents in there. :) Marginally less cozy, but she was content dropping things in the tub, so everyone wins really.

We moved downstairs and my mom and Lisa had woken up. Nibbled on a bit of food for breakfast and then moved to the gift area. Ava loved her play kitchen and it made our trials the night before seem worthy. Her current favorite activity is to open the cabinet doors and shut the cabinet doors and put things in the cabinets and take things out of the cabinets. She discovered the phone that came with the kitchen and really enjoys holding it up to us and grunting an urgent grunt to let us know there’s a call. We take the phone, hold it up to our ear, and have a pretend conversation. She gets a real kick out of it and let me tell you, that phone has been ringing off the hook since Christmas.

img_1260

Kevin went to his parents’ house to start the prime rib and when he got back home Craig and Sue came over and we began opening gifts. Then Dale (my stepdad) arrived and the gang was all there. It was a lovely, joyful time and while I know it’s not at all about the gifts, I’m always humbled by the generousity and thoughtful love and care that goes into the selection and exchanging of gifts.

img_1267

Kiki laid low all day, but Rue hung out with us. The cats got a few new toys and a bag of treats, but Rue was most interested in the boxes.

img_0159

Craig and Sue left to tend the prime rib and the rest of us finished getting ready and napped (Ava) and watched John Wayne on AMC and started preparing some of the side dishes. We went to Craig and Sue’s and met up with the other lunch guests. The food was all so delicious – prime rib, green chile mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts and kale, two types of bread (including my favorite rolls that my mom makes), green beans… Such a hearty meal! We had frozen cherry pie and Craig’s sugar cookies for dessert. No one left hungry!

Mom, Dale, and Lisa hit the road and Kevin, Ava, and I headed home ourselves. Ava was too wired to take a second nap so we basically just hung out and played and fielded the phone calls coming into her play kitchen. :) She was a busy little bear.

img_1277

It was a lovely holiday and I am so grateful for Jesus and that God blessed me with this family.

How was your holiday? 

A weekend away a week ago.

Do we drive or fly?

That was the question Kevin and I asked each other for the months leading up to our long weekend trip to Denver that was last weekend.  Ultimately we decided to drive and now – with a week’s worth of hindsight in my rear view mirror – we do not regret that decision.  Yes, we had to sing many, many versus of Row Row Row Your Boat and Tideo, but considering it was around 14.5 hours round trip, we can’t complain.

We started out at 9 AM on Friday.  Ava fell asleep around forty-five minutes into the drive and Kevin and I easily got into our audiobook – Duplicity.  Ava woke up after a solid 2+ hour nap, right as we were getting into a small town on I-25.  We stopped to eat, stretch our limbs, and fuel up, then hit the road again.  At first Ava was a bit annoyed with us for sticking her back in the carseat, especially when we realized 30 minutes after starting back on the road that I’d forgotten to nurse her and so we pulled over as soon as we could to get Starbucks and feed her.  After that she fell back asleep pretty quickly and woke up as we were getting into Denver.  5:00 traffic on a Friday afternoon annoyed all of us a bit, but we made it to Kevin’s parents’ place and there was beef stroganoff almost ready and we all forgot the long hours in the car pretty quickly.

The thing I was most nervous about going into this trip was sleep.  I love my sleep.  I need my sleep.  I covet sleep.  And I was worried that a few nights in a new environment was going to completely derail my perfect little night sleeping baby.  (Fear that any future babies will be bad sleepers is the number one reason Ava may be an only child.)  I’m not gonna lie – they weren’t the best three nights of sleep we’ve gotten, but they certainly weren’t the worst.  The combination of four hours worth of daytime sleep, a strange place, and the new bed (on the trip we used a travel crib that we normally corral her in when we’re getting ready in the morning) caused her to really fight falling asleep.  Eventually I got her to fall asleep – but she was in the adult bed.  I told Kevin we’d try co-sleeping and that worked for a hot minute.  Then Ava woke up, sat up, and was very excited to be having a slumber party with us.  The problem was that she didn’t especially feel like slumbering.  How do co-sleepers do it??  Kevin stood up, cradled her, and rocked her a bit until she fell asleep.  Then he set her in the travel crib and immediately laid down on the (hardwood!) floor next to her when she started to fuss.  His proximity calmed her down and she slept pretty well the remainder of the night.  Kevin stayed on the floor for most of the night – father of the year – and I think he still slept better than I did.  It was just one of those nights – I was nervous about Ava waking up again, guilty that Kevin was on the floor while I was sprawled in the comfy bed, annoyed that I couldn’t sleep, etc.  Ugh.

But!  We all survived (Kevin’s shoulder just barely), and woke up to half a foot of snow.  It was beautiful!  Freezing – around 5 degrees.  But beautiful.  And the condo is so well insulated that the air conditioner was running inside, so cozy, cozy.  We had a nice breakfast – Sue and Craig had bought fruit, English muffins, peanut butter, so Ava got her regular breakfast, which I think she appreciated.

img_0051

We relaxed and played and went to Micci’s for lunch.  On the drive home, there was a minor incident involving Pearl (the car) and an icy road and a road sign pole, but the pole took the brunt of the damage and sacrificed itself to keep us from hitting another car, so all in all…whew.  Pearl has a slight scratch that you’d only notice if you knew to look for it and the pole is still standing – just at a bit more of an angle than before.  After lunch I managed to get Ava down for a crib nap and Kevin and I escaped to the Cherry Creek Mall.  I needed to get a couple of watch batteries and a few links taken out of a watch so it would fit better.  Kevin stopped by Art of Shaving and we wandered around.  We tromped home through the snow and found that Ava had woken up soon after we left so the nap had been quite short.  Boo.  More playing, relaxing, etc. and then we headed downtown to The Chophouse for dinner.  It was delicious – I had the prime rib, Kevin and Craig had the bone-in rib eye, Sue had the filet, Ava had sweet potato fries, cornbread, and a bit of everyone’s steak.  We made it home safely – the roads had not gotten any better as the sun went down.  Night two brought good sleep for all of us – Ava fought going to sleep once again, but once she finally surrendered, it was fine.  Craig and Sue’s couch in Denver has one long cushion, so Kevin brought that into our room and slept on it next to Ava.

On Sunday we had a relaxing morning and Ava cuddle napped with me for an hour and a half or so.  Craig went to pick up Panera and we ate that before bundling up and bidding Sue and Ava and Teddy adieu to head to the main event – the Broncos versus Patriots football game.  Tickets to the game were a generous birthday gift to Kevin from Craig and Sue.  Craig drove us to a friend’s house where we loaded up into his car and he drove us and Jana, another friend, to the light rail train station.  We took the train to the stadium and found our seats.  We were there 45 minutes or so before kick off, and because it was pretty cold, the stadium filled up slowly.  It was nice to have so few people there initially and we got to watch the teams warm up.

img_0058

img_0060

We were in seats facing the sun and I didn’t mind at all the fact that I’d forgotten my sunglasses because it was downright comfy, despite the mercury sitting at about 20 degrees.  That blessed sun was a game changer.  Once it went down it got a little colder and the game was a bit disappointing.  It was awesome to see Tom Brady play in person though – he makes that quarterbacking thing look effortless.

img_0078

img_0086

img_0089

After the game we trekked back to the station and caught a train, disembarking and finding our friend waiting for us in his warm car.  He took us back to his house where we got into Craig’s car and he dropped us at the condo while he went to pick up Ollie’s (Chinese – some of our favorite food in Denver) for dinner.  Jana came over, Sue filled us in on the fun she, Ava, and Teddy had while we were at the game, and my feet eventually thawed from their game induced state of frozen.

I slept on the cushion next to Ava that night and we all slept well.  Just what we needed for the ride home the next day.  We left a little bit before Craig and Sue, but we all made it back to Albuquerque at around the same time.  Ava slept well from Denver to Raton, where we stopped for lunch, but she didn’t nap on the second half of the drive.  She grumbled a bit and we sang a lot of songs.  We were all giddy to be home!  We had a wonderful time with Craig, Sue, and Teddy, and it had been a great trip, but there is truly no place like home.  And we all missed Kiki and Rue.  They’d had a family friend stay with them, and they seemed a little disappointed to see us walk in that evening instead of her.  We tried not to take it personally.

Do you like road trips?  What’s the longest road trip you’ve taken?

Snapshot {November}.

img_0011

Making: Good use of nap time – even if it’s not as I planned. I had the best of intentions to make a turkey pot pie for lunch while Ava slumbered peacefully in her crib. But alas, she acts as though I am placing her gently into boiling lava when I attempt to move the little sleeper from my arms. So I was faced with a choice – pot pie and no nap…or an indulgent cuddle nap and no pot pie. I chose the nap, so here I sit, sleeping baby weight on me and I’m using the time to do this blog post. I can’t say I’m disappointed in my choice.

Cooking: The meal plan this week was as follows:  Monday – lemon chicken picata with roasted kale and brussels sprouts; Tuesday – spicy tomato garlic shrimp with spaghetti squash; today – roasted chicken thighs and sweet potatoes; Thursday – green chile and beef enchilada casserole and pinto beans; and Friday – we’ll likely pick up Dion’s or Flying Star. I’ll throw together the aforementioned turkey pot pie (using turkey my mother in law roasted yesterday) at some point and it will be good for lunches.

Drinking: Water.  I’ve felt soooo much better since I gave up my (average of) twice a week peppermint mocha, so I know I need to be strong and keep avoiding.  But I did give in and drink one yesterday so… It’s a dangerous course to give in for “just one” – wish me luck.

img_9639

Reading: So many books going!  Team of Rivals (which I’ll be working on for a long time), Jane Eyre (re-reading it on my phone while Ava nurses/cuddle naps because classics are free and it has been about 9 years since I last read it!), A Gentleman in Moscow (good, but not nearly as interesting to me as Rules of Civility – by the same author), Love the One You’re With (listening to it on Audible as I drive around town – an easy listen), and lastly, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (one that Kevin and I listened to on our way to and from Thanksgiving at my family’s place about an hour and a half south of where we live.  It is funny and had us cracking up a lot on the drive!  Now we’re listening to it in smaller increments as we drive to grocery shop, etc.).

Wanting: Some clarity on a few personal changes I’ve been considering. Nothing I can talk about now (hello, vague) but I’ll update you as I can.

img_9701

Looking: At the path of toys and books Hurricane Ava has left in her wake.  Confession:  I actually enjoying picking everything up at the end of the day, placing each item in its correct place, and leaving a clean canvas for her to play upon the following day.  I time myself and there’s a sense of instant gratification. Messy to neat in 1.75 minutes.

Eating: Nothing now. Lunch when Ava awakes – I’ll likely ask Kevin to bring me something. Or eat leftover chicken piccata.

 Wishing: That I was always this patient and accepting of thwarted crib naps. Some days I feel so overwhelmed with all the stuff I need to be doing while Ava is sleeping. Some days I’m convinced that it’s because we’ve allowed cuddle naps that she won’t crib nap consistently well and some days I’m certain that the cuddle nap on that particular day is going to be THE indulgence that turns her into a bad sleeper. Today I don’t care. Today I’m just thankful that I have a schedule that allows me to hold her while she naps and today I’m appreciative of this stage because someday she won’t want to let me hold her for an hour and a half and that will be sad.

img_1150

Enjoying: Hot lemon honey water each evening with Kevin.  It’s so soothing and a lovely way to end the day.

Loving: This phase with Ava. She is seriously so fun at 13 months. I count myself lucky to be her sidekick. Her newest thing? “Ava,what does a snake say?” And she responds with, “Sssssssssss!” She’s also started blowing on her food when it’s warm and she’s so good at using a spoon and fork (pre-loaded but I think it will click soon that she can be her own master spear’er of food). She is pushing her little push toy around and transitioning from one piece of furniture to another but still prefers crawling and hasn’t taken independent steps. I stumbled across this article and thought it was interesting – fits Ava completely. She has such a cautious, easy temperament – it’s not surprising that she’s a later than average walker.

Hoping: The thyroid medicine we started Kiki on yesterday works well for her. She is such a sweet cat. I want her to be healthy forever.

img_9678

Needing: To do a blog post about my October Stitch Fix box.  Maybe I’ll just wait and combine it with the scheduled January box.  I think I’ve also got an item or two through Trunk Club that I haven’t posted about…..

Smelling: Fresh laundry scent from the baby passed out on top of me.

Feeling: Super proud of myself – I am done with my Christmas shopping.  It’s self preservation really – I can’t stand the crowds and chaos and stress that comes with shopping closer to the holiday.  It’s such a relief to be done.

img_9729

Wearing: Jeans and a sweater. Cozy socks and house shoes.

Watching: Gilmore Girls.  I’m on the last few episodes of the seventh season and then I’ll start the newly released Netflix version.  I want to get caught up on the PBS Anne series this weekend too!

What are you wishing/needing/loving/eating right now?