Wednesday, July 1, 2015

sweet cousin (+ family) pics.

Father's Day this year was simple and sweet.
We travelled to my father-in-law's house for a family meal together with Hubby's sisters.  The whole fam was there, which happens very rarely!  Because my family lives pretty far from me, I have come to appreciate and treasure time with Hubby's fam more and more.

We ate a delicious meal, the kids got to play together, and we caught up a bit.  

I had meant to take photos of the entire group, but, of course, I forgot my tripod and the baby's nap schedule through a wrench in my well-intended plans.  However, we did get some darling shots of 3 our of 4 that is something!

Aren't they precious?
fin (2) emmie (almost 3) mac(almost 4) (missing due to nap : sloane - 4 mos)
girl cousins sharing giggles

loooooove the hand-holding!
My SIL Jen even got a few of our little group...always hard to get everyone looking at the camera, but since never get pics of our fam I adore these, despite the kids totally not cooperating.
wow, just wow.
really, our kids like us, I swear.
being somewhat cooperative.
all looking moderately happy + facing the direction of camera - a win!
How often do you take family photos?  
Do you pay a professional?
Have a friend with a good camera take them?
We have yet to do anything professional, but every year I think we need to to just suck it up and  plunk down the cash for it.  

Anyway, in case I don't post before then, I hope everyone has an amazing Fourth of July weekend!!!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

stitch fix : a summer fix!

You know the best way to cure blah/rainy/crappy day blues?
Receive a shipment from Stitch Fix!

Yep, it was one of those kinda days, and then I got my Fix and it all of a sudden everything was lovely.   My kids were with me and they adore rifling through the five items and seeing how excited I get - and of, course, they have their opinions about it all.   What is Stitch Fix?  Well, I receive, on occasion, a box with five clothing items or accessories from the really fun personal styling service called Stitch Fix.  You get to schedule when you'd like a shipment sent (could be next week, or months from now) you decide what you like and what you don't, then you send whatever you don't love back in the provided envelope.  Incredibly convenient...and so fun!

This was my 7th Fix, and my second one styled by Hillary (who, if you'll remember, I loved how she "got" my style last time - read about that fix HERE!) 

She, again, sent me some really great items that were flattering and, for the most part, in touch with my personal style.

#1 Lissane Keyhole Halter Top (by Renee C) 
#2 Ruxin Distressed Boyfriend Jean (by Mavi)
someone call Yard Crashers...please...desperate.
I have been longing for the perfect cute and eye-catching halter tank in my last couple fixes.  Hillary got it right with this sweet, summery bandana print.  I love the keyhole front, and the fact that when you actually fasten the button in the back (which I almost didn't do) absolutely no side boob shows. Hurray!!!  Nothing ruins a perfectly good shirt for me than annoying visible side boob, whether it be bra or actual boob.  Definite KEEP.

Now, the jeans.  I love the jeans.  They have just the right amount of fading, distressing, and bleach spots to make me really happy.  Plus, they are really soft!  I did a wide cuff, which I prefer in the summer months, but I think they could also look unrolled with some ankle boots come fall.  They are not exactly what I envision when I think "boyfriend jeans."  Aren't they supposed to be super baggy/ill-fitting?  These hug my curves so either I need to update my size profile to a bigger size, or BF jeans have morphed since they became trendy into a more girlish fit.  Doesn't matter, 'cause KEPT!
#3 Corby Knit Tee (by Market and Spruce)
olive jogging pants from a previous comfy!
I had seen this 'merci' tee in another blogger's Stitch Fix post so I pinned something similar -- and - voila!  - my stylist sent me one.  I was psyched!  I love this trend, shirts with words, particularly something very simple.  The shirt is a soft, thin, sweater-like material and is a little longer in the back.  Hubby thought it looked great, and I was kind of on the fence.  Definitely goes with my style and the rest of my wardrobe...but the fit wasn't my favorite.  I am on the fence about this one -  should I KEEP or RETURN????

 #4 Scribe Ruffle Front Blouse (by Skies are Blue)
This tank is simply not my style.  The color is perfect, I love teal and was hoping for something bold; however, the style, the ruffles in particular, is not me at all.  I don't love ruffles unless they are on my 2-year-old daughter's bathing suit.  Besides the ruffle, it was also kind of boxy.  RETURN.

#5 Jazz Embroidery Detail Blouse (by 19 Cooper)
I personally had a lot fun with this tank, channeling my inner glamour girl.  I am really digging the black on black on black trend, and I went a little nuts with the accessories because I was picturing wearing this on a fun night out.  I feel so much sassier in pants than a dress or skirt, so I thought this could fit my "going out" wardrobe fine.  Hubby doesn't love it, but I sort of do.  What shall I do - KEEP or RETURN???

Have you tried Stitch Fix yet?  If you have been inspired at all by this post to give it a try, click HERE to check it out and get started on your personal style profile. If you use this referral link I will receive a $25 credit towards a future Fix...and if you refer friends, you will, too!  It is kind of amazing.

Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

recipe love : lime-crusted tilapia

I've been itching to be blogging more - but honestly have had a lot on my mind and schedule lately. That, along with a chaotic/messy house due to our current renovation project (the powder room..oy!) has made it difficult for me to get anything on 'paper.'

So I'll start off easy...a recipe.

I had made this a couple times in the past, but Hubby claims he doesn't remember and that this was the most amazing thing he's eaten in ages! (Totally paraphrasing there.) This doesn't shock me because with two small children I have been making a lot of, well, "kid-friendly" dishes as of late.

There are a lot of foods I regret eating, because they make me feel kind of icky afterward.  But you know what I NEVER regret eating?  Fish.  Fish and veggies and a big glass of red wine.  To me, that is the perfect meal.  Absolutely no guilt, yet fully satisfied.

This dish is perfect for summer because of the lime kick added to the fish.  Lime and summer go together perfectly, don't they?  (Can I get an "Amen" from Corona drinkers???)

Lime Crusted Tilapia
(adapted from this recipe)
(for the fish)
4 tilapia filets
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
juice from two limes
1/2 cup olive oil
(for the dressing)
1/2 cup mayo
2 TB balsamic vinegar
2 TB honey

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray a glass baking dish with oil. 
3. Whisk together ingredients for dressing in a small bowl and set aside.
4. Put the Panko in a shallow bowl and whisk the olive oil and lime juice together in another.
5. Coat one filet in the oil and juice mixture, dredge in the Panko crumbs until covered, then place in dish.  Repeat with other filets.  Make sure you use all the Panko.  Just sprinkle whatever doesn't adhere to the filets evenly over the tops before baking.  For an added kick - sprinkle with more lime juice, also!!!!  Go wild, it's summer.
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
7. Serve over a bed of spinach and halved cherry tomatoes.  Drizzle liberally with the creamy vinaigrette. 
Enjoy! So, so good!
spinach from my teeny tiny veggie garden -- and can you tell which one tomato is, too? :D
Hope to be back soon with some renovation updates, a lil Stitch Fix action, and, (grandparents, I didn't forget you!!!!) sweet kiddo pics/updates!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

mama confessions : parenting through anxiety

climbers gonna climb.
While I've never considered myself a "laid back" kinda gal - I definitely never had anxiety before becoming a parent.  I climbed mountains,  jumped off rocky cliffs and precarious tree limbs into rivers and lakes,  and drove solo across the country never once fearing for my life, or the lives of those around me.
My dad never seemed anxious or worried when taking us on many adventures.  If he ever feared for our lives, he hid it well.  He wanted us to have experiences that would shape us in a positive way.  He was/is passionate about God's creation and desired for his kids to know that passion.
I want my kids to as spite of my first inclination to keep them safely by my side at all times.

Since they are too tiny for mountains and whitewater rafting, we have started small.  Last summer I started taking them both to different parks around our city, for them (and me!) to see all that our area has to offer as far as nature... and let them run wild.  We live in an urban neighborhood, adjacent to a downtown metropolitan area, we'll drive anywhere from five to forty minutes to get to a park where they can roam free.

I have tried to steer them away from the playgrounds to the trails.  To hike and hear the birds and find cool rocks and sticks and bugs.

I realized through these outings that while I have a taste for adventure and love taking my kids places every day, I also have major anxiety issues surrounding these very activities.
I have irrational fear they will fall off imaginary cliffs.

I break out into a sweat when we are near a busy street - and we live on a busy street, so imagine my constant state of anxiousness! Eek!

I panic if I cannot see them every moment we are at a playground.  In the two seconds I do not see one of them I am positive they have been kidnapped.

I imagine crazy scenarios and nearly lose my mind with unease.
If you haven't guessed I am clearly a control freak, and now that my kids are both runners and high-energy, who prefer to be climbing and moving and checking out EVERYTHING than standing calmly by my side, I no longer have the control I had when they were infants.

It drives me bananas.

Yes, this is real anxiety, and yes, I realize they make pills and therapists for this.

Let's just say I pray a lot.  No, seriously.

I believe my anxiety is there for a reason : as a constant reminder I need to trust God.  

I am not a supermom.  I need help every single day.   God knows I am horrible at asking for help,  I believe that in "praying through" the anxiety I am forced to acknowledge that He is in control. For me there is peace in knowing that.

Anyway, I don't want my anxiety to negatively affect my kids and our activities, so I try to go with the flow, appear calm, being cautious, yet not limiting them if there is no real reason. I want them to experience the world with abandon, never being afraid to climb a tree or swing from a rope or explore new places.  Or get in touch with nature.  Like birds, which they seem to love.
counting ducks.  there were sixteen, btw.
finola has a deep infatuation with all birds.  after she ran off all the ducks she moved on to the geese... and got hissed at a few times.
found the perfect climbing tree. 
she plopped down here on her own, to eat her "bo-bish" (Goldfish)
Cormac always finds a hiking stick and tries to climb as high as he can.  Finola always follows Cormac.
"Lean into the hill!  Put down your stick!  Test each rock! Why is your butt so dirty, Finola????" 
By the end of our outing I felt I had lost years of my life due to anxiety.  We climbed up some scary steps to a lookout over the city, and I only told Cormac about thirty times to stay on the safe side of the wall.  (Even though the other side had about five feet of grass before a semi-gradual decline.  In my mind it was the Grand Canyon, or certain death.)
The edge of the cliff.  Have I mentioned I am afraid of heights?
After this little excursion I was more than ready to get home for naps.  But I still felt happy we had gone out, gotten fresh air, climbed up to a beautiful view of the river, where Cormac was able to excitedly point out landmarks while I took deep, cleansing breaths.

+ + + + + + + 

Any other mamas experience this?  How do you work through your anxiety?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

here's looking at two.

Dear Finola,
I could not have even dreamed up the delight that you have become at the age of two.  Back when you were a tiny one, my little dream newborn - good eater, reliable sleeper, rarely fussy.  Now you are still all of that - but with more hair, more words, and much, much more FUN.

You are feisty.  I kinda like that.  Your two-year-old tantrums are epic.  Instead of frustrating, they most of the time make me have to hide my laughter.  The other day when I tried to put you in a fancy floral dress for church, you threw a major hissy and were inconsolable.  So I left the room to give you a moment to calm down (and stifle my giggles) since you wouldn't let me near you even for hugs.  When I came back you had managed to take the dress completely off and were laying, smiling, naked on the floor.  Needless to say, we wore another outfit to church that day.

You are physically pretty strong.  You can hold your own in competitions of strength with your brother.  Speed-wise, you are getting pretty fast during your "races" with him.  You still always lose, and have taken to crumpling on the floor when he snottily cheers, "I win!" - but I keep telling you that someday you will win (sometimes.)

Socially, you are at first shy and cling to your mama, but when you know a person well you are generous with hugs and kisses and snuggles.  You say "See you later!" to everyone we know (and don't know) when out and about.

Your favorite foods are pickles, Pringles, bananas, strawberries and cottage cheese.

Ever since your birthday last week you have been greeting me in the morning with "Happy Bird-day, Mama!"

You are in a kissing phase, where every time I pick you up you will grab my face through peals of laughter and plant giant kisses on my cheeks and lips.  "MO! MO KISSES!" you shout.

To celebrate you turning two, we didn't have a party, but we went on an overnight family camping trip.  You did awesome.
"So...where can I drive ya?"
"Camping rocks!  Unless it starts raining...then I hate it." 
On the day of your birthday, a Tuesday, we didn't do anything too wild.  I blew up 36 balloons the night before and filled your room up with them while you slept.  We had donut holes and strawberries for breakfast, two of your favorites.  We opened presents as soon as possible (obviously.)  We saw some friends and you got to play outside quite a bit, since it was a gorgeous, sunny day.  We bought a birthday dinner and a cake from Kroger and I stuck more strawberries on it.  You blew out the candles like a pro!
Donies and strawberries.  A birthday breakfast.
surprised by balloons! (with morning hair!) she might kill me for this photo someday...
"Finola!  Look at all your balloons!"  This was as much fun for Cormac as the bday girl.
birthday hugs from brother!
balloons are fun to squish...and later pop
we couldn't wait til evening to open we did it after breakfast!
It was a really sweet day.  
Happy 'two' to you, my crazy Blondie, my love.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

our first family camping trip.

I grew up camping.  

When each of us - myself and three siblings - turned three we had officially "come of age" to be ripped from my mother's arms and be carried off by my father to go on overnight camping trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota.  Here we would get nestled into the middle of canoes, amongst the gear and coolers, drag our tiny hands in the water, attempt to paddle with kid-sized oars, dip mini-fishing poles in, watch the big people set up camp, sip hot chocolate under tarps in the rain, watch my dad and his twin brother chase off black bears, listen to the loons sing, sing campfire songs, and praise God together under a million stars.

My dad taught me, from that tender age of three, the spirituality of the wilderness.

Finola is not three yet.  (She turns two today!)

I don't think I could let her be whisked away to the wild.

But I do want her to start young.

So instead of a birthday party this year, we went camping.

Just for one night.  Just a tiny taste.

It went by quickly and was a lot of fun!  Except the part where, at 10pm, waaaaay past their bedtime, the kids were expected to go to sleep in the tent.  Cormac only fought it a little, but lil miss Fin ran around the tent, chattering, giggling and poking me in the face.  Finally I heard a yawn, she asked for her blanket, which she had been tossing around, and she conked out.

Then Hubby and I had a beer by the fire and congratulated ourselves on a successful first attempt at tent camping with the kiddos.

We can't wait to go again!
fire-making with dada
checking out the sights
child with hot poker in the fire - this looks totally safe, right???
mama hovering around the fire, afraid of blond locks going ablaze.
contemplating nature and life
eyeing her mama's beer
while not super primitive, it was very peaceful
these two...the conversations they have!
I kept saying, "Run wild, my child!" which she did, while repeating that.
Colbie liked relaxing, too.
A lot.
going in and out of the tent was a favorite activity.  I'm surprised we didn't sleep with a million bugs.
campfires are magnets for kiddos. just sayin'.
face smush.
we did the whole "stick the bean can right in the fire" thing - turned out well...and less dishes!
Hubby makes a s'more.
We got a little wet from the morning rain!
"The humidity does wonders for my curls!"
birthday girl 
"Here Finola - have a marshmallow!  I have a whole bag!"

"Fine, I'll eat them all myself."
Breakfast of champions!
packing up...a little earlier than expected, due to rain!
While he wasn't too helpful packing up, he did build this contraption in the trunk.

I am pretty sure one night is all Finola could handle (while we were stuck in the tent during a morning rain shower she shouted repeatedly, "GO HOME NOW!") Cormac, however, was asking if we could stay "five more days."

Three, man.  I'm telling you.  My Dad was right - that is the "magic camping age."

Or simply when we were potty-trained and he could hold us over the side of the canoe to pee-pee.