Friday, September 28, 2012

Football Friday

I want to say thanks for all the comments on my working mom post the other day, both on this blog and on my facebook wall - that was really fun and rewarding for me. I write here most days just to catalog events and try to organize my own thoughts and ideas. But its great when I get feedback and know that what I'm thinking about and struggling with matters to others. I think I came away with two main points from that post and the ensuing comments:

1) The grass is always greener. When things get tough, I start daydreaming of other options and often idealize a situation that is not my own. No work-life scenario is perfect. Parenting is hard, no matter how you divide your time.

2) I am not in this alone. This is usually the first thing I forget at the end of a long and frustrating day. Working moms everywhere struggle with the same exact things I do - every day! It is reassuring and makes me feel better. I'm reminded of this previous post about how it is time for the system to finally change and adapt to modern family lives. We as moms (and dads) are doing all we can.

We're starting a new Moms group at work next week, just informal lunch gatherings for now. But I'm excited that my coworkers see the need for this group. I hope it will be a great source of encouragement and inspiration for me to master this working mom gig. We already have our first speaker lined up - she wrote the book I've imagined in my mind many, many times.

As for our weekend...we're in for some football! I hear there was some controversy going on this week about referees, guess that's all solved and we can now go back to politics as usual. You'd think the world was ending!

Check out that form (and that tongue)!

Ok, we may have some things to work on here...not quite ready for the big leagues.

But he has the right spirit!

We're done with KU football for the season, made it to our one game. Maybe by the time the kids are old enough to sit through more than a quarter, the team will actually be decent. We can hope. We're going to watch my future step-nephew (think that's right) play his Homecoming game for North Kansas City highschool tonight. And tomorrow we will catch a very different game, my 10 year-old nephew's football game, equally as important in the world of competitive families football!

Saturday night Ryan and I are going with some friends for a little fine dining, farm style...can't wait!

Finally, this is a really cute video and this guy must be Dad of the year. Charlie would love that.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Working mom: is it working?

Things are really busy at work, lots of deadlines, long days, late nights. These stretches come and go, but I never seem to get past them without going through the ritual of doubting everything about how I'm living my life, raising my children. The time they spend in daycare is so much more than I prefer, our trips to the park on a sunny fall afternoon are way too infrequent, the meals I put together last minute during the week always seem to fall short. I wonder if I'm really making it work, or if I'm just cruising through most days hoping the wheels don't fall off. You don't get a second chance at this parenting thing. If you are short changing your kids during their crucial developmental and formative years, you don't get a do-over. How do you know what is right for them? For you?

Working parents have it really tough. I know I only have this one perspective, but sometimes I think it is the worst scenario of any of the parenting options (part-time work, stay at home work, stay at home full time parent). At the end of a work day, I might have 2, maybe 3 hours of time with my kids before bed. I miss them like crazy during the day and look forward to seeing them and making the most of that time. Yet that time together doesn't play out like I'd like it to most nights. In the short period of time between when I pick them up and bedtime, we have to get home, make dinner, take baths, and read books. The usual routine most parents go through. But C and Iz are usually very needy after being away from me all day, wanting to just be held (especially Izzy) and to play. This makes the never simple act of fixing dinner at the last minute almost impossible. And before I know it, I am shutting the bedroom door to get 2 minutes of time to myself to calm down and get some perspective. After just one hour with the kids I don't get to see all day! Worst Mom ever. That's how I feel.

The reality is that I am worn out from a busy and stress-filled day and my kids don't get my best self. They get a mom that is tired, irritable and short on patience. It isn't fair to them. I don't know how to do it any better and I feel so completely frustrated that one or the other - either work or my kids - always gets the short straw. I try my best to make sure my kids come first - but during these busy stretches, I really don't have much control over it. I get through the deadlines and refocus on the kids - take more pictures and more trips to the park, make earlier pick up times from school, and have an occasional stay at home day. Of course, then I am not giving my best self to my work - you get the picture. The push/pull is such that I feel like I am always doing a sub par job in some aspect of my life. I don't see it getting any easier as the kids get older and have their own events and schedules to squeeze into the day (plus homework! Oh my, I'm dreading that already).

I know that the scale will tip back the other way in a few weeks and I won't dwell on these things. I'll have less on my mind at the end of the day, we'll have time to play and relax, and our evenings will transpire more like I imagine them. But even if it's not in the forefront of my mind every day, the question is still there. Is this working mom thing working, and how do I know??

Note: the image above has nothing to do with this post. It's what Izzy and I wore on our feet today, and I just thought it might help lighten up an otherwise downer of a post.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday's this & that


Our baby turned 18 months old this week. I still can't believe it. I still think of her as a baby - with her super soft baby skin and hair, her chubby legs and round belly. And yet those legs move fast, she has a mouth full of teeth, and she uses more and more words every day. She wants to do everything by herself. Like feed herself yogurt, with an extra large spoon...

She is really not a baby anymore. But I want to continue to think of her as one, so I will. Now and forever.

These urban monkeys were craving a good old-fashioned park this week. I picked them up early from school on Tuesday and we went to one of our old favorites in Brookside. It was like seeing a long lost friend for Charlie. "I love this park, Mom! It's my favorite!" It had been too long. There aren't any parks within walking/running distance from us. Ok, there is one. I have pretty low standards for KCMO parks for the most part, but even I draw the line at this one. It is next to Liberty Memorial and it is dirty, as in shards of glass in the grass and under the swings, and there are men sleeping on benches nearby. I'm all for the city experience, but this particular park just doesn't feel worth it to me. A nice subsititute is just running around on the grass surrounding Liberty Memorial.

We can get there with the jogger (up a very steep hill!) and there is plenty of green space to go around. There was a group exercise class going on when we were there. They were doing sprints and using kettlebells, it looked pretty intense. I wanted to join them.

But we played some baseball, and that was fun, too.

When you have a backdrop like this, who needs a park??

We may not have a great park nearby, but we have plenty to keep us entertained. The elephants walked past our building twice this past week, and we were there to see them both times. How many kids can say they've seen such a thing? The elephants walked back from the Sprint Center to the train on Sunday evening, as the sun was going down. We watched them climb back onto the train and prepare to head out of town, off to the next circus.

Whatever your thoughts are on animals and the circus in general (mine are very mixed, nostalgia mixed with awareness. Where do we draw the line, zoo? circus?), it is still really cool to see these giants walk past you on the street. I hope Charlie will remember it.

Date night at the Plaza Art Fair for us tonight - can't wait! Happy weekend all!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fitbit update

Do you remember when I raved about my new Fitbit at the beginning of the summer? (Check out the post here). Are you wondering if my love has faded? Wondering if this toy is gathering dust on a shelf, neglected and ignored like most fitness gadgets? Well, wonder and worry no more. My fitbit is still enjoying a special place in my daily routine and attire. If I leave the house without it, I feel at a complete loss for the day. I wear it every day, strive to hit my 10,000 steps every day (most days I get there), and I love it.

Some family members recently received Fitbit gifts...the message of moving more, walking as much as possible every day is so important to me. I want everyone I love to get with the program. I'm working on putting together a Fitbit-inspired program with a group at work, too. More steps = better, happier, healthier lives!

We recently added another Fitbit gadget to our home collection.

The wi-fi smart scale from Fitbit, called Aria. Our ratty and unreliable scale didn't make the move from our old house and we've been without a scale for awhile. I am not a big scale user, I tend to assess my weight by how my clothes fit and feel. But lately I've been frustrated with how little exercise I've been fitting in and really disliking the overall mushy and unfit body I am currently living with.

Life isn't going to slow down and I have to make adjustments. I will keep working on fitting in more exercise as it is a major priority for me, not just for fitness, but for my health. I am not going to let a busy lifestyle be our (Ryan included) excuse for sliding into a middle age-we're parents so who cares- -this is the best we're gonna get-mindset that results in us waking up one day being overweight and out of shape. We are not going to be that couple or that family! Mark my words. And our friend Aria here is going to keep me honest and make sure it doesn't happen.

Aria syncs automatically with your Fitbit account online so you don't have to remember your weight from week to week. It will monitor 7 different people in your household, automatically knowing which person is on the scale and syncing with that person's Fitbit info. It measures % body fat and will calculate your BMI for you. Useful tools that mean more than just a number on the scale. (Note: the body fat calculator on home devices like this are going to be somewhat imprecise, but it puts you in the ballpark). I have no more excuses.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Design tweaks

This was the spread waiting for us when we arrived at our last design meeting. They were ready for us.

We talked about exterior aspects of the new house, like windows. Every window in the house will be new (the home owner's association stipulates they must match!). I had no idea there were so many choices when it comes to windows.

We looked at choices for roof color, type of wood, and wood stain for the front of the house...still just narrowing down our options at this point. We're really getting down to the nitty gritty on the design. All the structural plans are set (with small tweaks to the stairwell and some built-in components in the pantry still coming), and at this point we really have a clear vision of what the house is going to look like. And we love it. Love.It.

It was a big week and things are moving fast. The plans were reviewed by the home owner's association this week and we're hoping their approval comes soon. The architects are preparing for the construction phase and gathering bids from contractors - with the goal of finally putting a price tag on our design. We have a budget of course, but at this point we have no idea if our taste and design choices are aligned with our budget. Talk about scary!

The next few weeks will move us from the design phase to preparing for the construction phase - starting with deconstruction. In 10 days, we will start demo on the house, taking out light fixtures, sinks, cabinets, walls, and leaving only bare bones behind. Habitat Resource is going to salvage whatever they can from the house before the major demo commences. Once the walls start coming down, there is no going back. We're all in at this point and only looking forward. Bring on the sledge hammers!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Elephants walking

I picked the kids up early from school today so they could catch an unusual sight. The circus is in town and the elephants arrive by train!

We heard the elephants once or twice before we saw them.

There were 6 of them all together. They quickly formed a single file line, with trunks holding tails, and off they went.They moved fast and before we knew it, they were down the street out of sight.

Charlie was telling this man in pink that he was going to hug that big elephant.

Having a train station in your backyard has its perks!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Little Localvores: Peppers three ways

Welcome to Little Localvores - a weekly series on our family's first experience with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Every Tuesday all summer long we will receive a supply of fresh produce and local foods through the Good Natured Family Farms CSA. I'll chronicle my attempts to get my toddlers (3 years and 15 months) to eat fresh and local, healthy foods.

Localvore: someone who prefers to eat locally grown/produced food.

We've had some great peppers in our CSA share for the last several weeks. Here is how I've been using them:

One: Grilled. I love the flavor of slightly charred peppers from the grill. I chopped these and put them with a tuna salad over some greens last week for lunch. The rest went into a simple cheese & pepper, whole wheat quesadilla I made for the kids one night for dinner.

Two: sauteed with mushrooms for a vegetarian soft taco. This is a variation of a recipe for pablano and mushroom tacos that we make all the time. You can find the full recipe here.

Three: Stuffed. Short on time, I used left over brown rice from the night before and a little parmesan cheese, baked at 425 for about 15-20 minutes. You can use just about any grain - I also like quinoa or bulgar with stuffed peppers. With fresh peppers full of flavor, this is an easy weeknight fix.

When we have more time, this is my favorite stuffed pepper recipe (great local food blog, too!).

Eating cherry tomatoes like they were grapes!

You can check out previous Little Localvores posts here.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Holy Cow! Our architects have a house featured on the cover of the new issue of Dwell magazine. I can't believe we get to sit across the table from these guys every week and see the plans they are designing for our house. Our house! Crazy.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Friday

We're hitting up First Friday tonight, should be a beautiful fall-like evening. So excited to walk out our backdoor to experience all things artistic and quirky.

Some light viewing for the weekend:

I'm loving KC right now and here are a few reasons why.

College campuses are back in full swing this week. I know my college dorm was nothing like this!

Teach your children well! 

Off to some Friday morning leadership training. Happy weekend everyone!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Downtown days, the Crossroads by bike

We took a stroll around our new neighborhood this many exciting and different things to see!

 Just around the corner from our building, we needed a water break. It was hot, even for the morning.

I just love this part of the city. We are in this low area just shy of all the tall buildings and commercial city life. The Crossroads. People live here, walk their dogs, go running, walk home late at night, raid the dumpsters. We're surrounded by 5-6 story brick buildings inscribed with names of warehouses long past, the occasional coffee shop, tattoo parlor, and artist's den. On Labor Day morning, the streets were quiet, the shops all closed, and we had the neighborhood to ourselves. Perfect for exploring on Charlie's strider bike for the first time.

Stopping for another water break.




I was afraid to crash this place with two toddlers. But as the only place open that morning, it was tempting.

Iz was sleepy and happy to sit quietly in her stroller and pose for the occasional picture.