Sunday, January 15, 2017

Monday Things

Monday things just because "Fri-Yay" never happened!  I have a relatively calm week ahead, so I'm hoping to play a little catch up on life.  It's been awhile since I've shared some random favorites, so here we go:

Last time we went sledding I was intrigued by all the "snow tubes" people were using.  And then I found the cutest one ever!  This peppermint candy is pumped up and taking up space in my living room until the next snow fall.  I can hardly wait!

Everyone needs this Brown Sugar Bourbon in their life!  I had some over the holidays, and hot damn!  Perfect for sipping, or perfect in Old Fashioneds (if you skip the sugar).  We brought three bottles back to Utah with us and have already realized that we should have brought much much more!  Here is where you can find it near you!

How gorgeous are these hex boxes?!  They would be perfect for any nightstand or desk.  I'm seriously drooling over them.  I don't love the price so much, but I'm thinking these would make such a sweet gift.  Valentine's day is coming up after all!

And since we're talking about Valentine's Day now... yes, we've all already bought a bag of conversation hearts, but now you need the festive tic tacs.  I housed a box in a mere few days.  So next time, I'm getting the jumbo box.  Maybe the three pack.  Because they are little drops of strawberry & cherry goodness!

The Wailin' Jennys popped up on my Family Folk Pandora station the other day, and I am loving them!  Perfect for lazy train & Lego afternoons with my boys.  Give them a listen!

If you have the day off today, lucky you! Enjoy!
For the rest, go get that Monday!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Looking Forward: 2017

I'm having a bit of a slow start to the year as far as organization is concerned, but I'm getting there.  Each year I like to have a goal or two, as well as a little mantra to keep in mind through each passing month.  I'm still working on the wording, but essentially this year it's "don't sweat the small stuff".  So often I let the tiny things really get to me.  I can easily deem it a bad day before 10am.  I want to let go of all those little things, and instead focus more on the big picture.  This will be difficult for me, but hopefully it becomes more natural throughout the year.

So that's the mantra, now the goal.  I want to really focus on my photography this year.  I have loved looking back on my top nine pictures from the year (based off instagram likes), and seeing the growth.  Now technically Conor took the top 2, but all that tells me is that people love seeing pictures of me, particularly me in a bikini... frolicking!  Please sense my sarcasm here (I promise I'm not narcissistic!).  I did the camera settings, Conor simply pushed click.  Okay maybe he does more than that; he really is learning his way around my camera too!  And I love that he is willing & capable to take pictures of me & the boys.  I don't want to be missing from their documented childhood memories!

I was surprised to see that my darker/moodier photos were among the favorites, because often I think light & bright is the way to go.  I want to challenge myself in this new year.  Refine my skills, develop my style more.  But the one big goal is to finally learn my editing software!  I have Photoshop Elements, but I do not use it at all.  I want to take that next step.  And once I'm there I will switch to shooting in RAW.  The only thing holding me back really is time.  I'm never on my computer until the boys are in bed, but I want to dedicate some time to it.  Photography has brought me so much joy and a sense of accomplishment.  It's something I can do for just me!  A way to challenge myself.  I think youtube tutorials need to become my new best friend.  Here's to hoping I can stay awake late enough to get some editing done each night!

Happy New Year friends!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Our Holiday Getaway

I'm here!  I didn't plan to take such a long hiatus; apparently, I am easing myself back into the new year.  Finn has been working on his two year molars for weeks now (and still nothing has poked through), and therefore his sleep is awful.  I'm so so tired every single day.  By the time both boys are in bed, I really don't want to do anything but lay down.  But here's to a new week.  I've got a massive to-do list staring me down, so I really need to be quite productive.

Way back in 2016, we spent the last week of the year up in the Pacific Northwest with my family.  My parents still wait until I'm home to celebrate Christmas, which I just love them for.  There really is nothing like being "home for the holidays".  I love walking in the door to all the familiar scents, sights, sounds.  It just feels like coming home.  The fireplace now holds many new stockings as our families have grown, and the sight of them all cramped together is one of my favorites.  I love thinking back to all the Christmas mornings of years past in the same family room.  

However, our week didn't go as planned at all.  My dad got very very sick while we were there.  He ended up spending some time in the hospital, which was hard for me to see.  I was happy to be home though.  Even though I didn't necessarily do anything, or help in any way, I felt like I could.  I was there.  I was part of the conversations.  I could give him hugs and be there.  I would have been devastated to be states away if this had happened at another time.  Living away from family is hard.  I want to be there when my parents need me.  So while his illness totally changed our holiday, I was just happy to be there.  It makes you enjoy all the simple moments much more.

We still made it out to the lake house where everyone relaxes.  It's good for all of us!  My dad was still able to be the boys.  Reading books, playing games, even tossing around a football.  The temperatures were freezing during our stay, but we still made it outside each day.  The lake was frozen over, perfect for morning walks & sleds.  And the massive snow banks allowed for fort building.  Liam called all the birds over in the mornings, and we nibbled the best maple bars in all the land.

 My dad is on the mend now and should be totally fine!  We already miss him like crazy, as well as the rest of the family.  The boys can never have enough cousin time, and this trip we were lucky to have the Montana cousins join us for a night at the lake!  I'm itching to be back and feel like we need a re-do visit.  I will be jetting home as soon as Conor's next work trip is planned.  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

It happened far too quickly for my liking.  It's almost now a blur.  Yet our Christmas morning was slow.  Intentional.  We had nowhere to rush to.  Just a day planned at home with our little family.  Enjoying that uninterrupted time together.

It all began on Christmas Eve.  The anticipation was palpable.  I could feel like the excitement inside of Liam.  And Finn could feel it too.  His understanding of it all may be less, but his feelings of joy are genuine.  He was most excited about the baby Jesus in the nativity during Mass.  Literally screaming "baby! baby!" throughout much of the service.  For the first time ever, we arrived early enough to snag a seat, with even a little extra room to spare.  Once Finn's "baby" shouts were just far too loud to contain, we made our escape after communion.  A seafood feast at home followed.  Then a Christmas movie and sugar cookie selection for Santa.  Milk was left out, along with carrots for all nine reindeer.  Both boys practically asked to go to bed, so bedtime was a breeze which was a Christmas gift in itself.

I filled all my boys' stockings with such glee, still completely in awe that I (me!) get to do this each year.  We brought out the play kitchen that was put together in record timing (1 hour, 45 minutes!).  The couch was moved to make room for all the opening & playing that would fill our morning.  After preparing the house, Conor & I sat on the floor (as to not disrupt the newly filled stockings), as we nibbled our treat of cookies & milk.  We reflected on the day.  On the season.  On our sweet boys, whom we love fiercely but who challenge us daily.  And then we too tucked ourselves into bed, expecting an early morning.

When the boys first came down the stairs, Liam was in far more awe of the empty cookie plate and note from Santa, that he completely didn't even notice the massive play kitchen waiting for him!  But eventually his eyes wandered over to it, and the boys ran towards it.  The perfect gift for them to spend the early morning with, as Conor as I put together breakfast.  Sticky, rich cinnamon rolls & blueberry maple sausage.  What all Christmas mornings should be made of.  Liam & Finn quickly started whipping up all sorts of delicious goodies.  Reorganizing the pots & pans until they found just the perfect spot.  The pot rack became a cook book holder, and their imaginations took off.  Finn was mouthing every food item he handled.  Unfortunately, Finn was working on his two year molars over the Christmas holiday.  Lots of hands in the mouth & drool, but still a sweet smile on his face.

The favorite gift for both boys was their Legos.  Finn is always trying to swipe Liam's Lego creations, so we finally bought him some Duplos.  He had a little extra swagger in his step as he realized he now too can build cars, trucks, trains, airplanes just like big brother.  And Liam was gifted with two new Lego sets of his own.  With more pieces than ever.  He will build & rebuild for days, and Finn will still try to get his hands on all the little pieces.  The Duplos are perfect for him, but he still knows that are not quite the real deal!

We spent most of our morning opening presents and watching the snow fall, hoping it would let up at some point so we could get out and shovel before nap time.  It snowed all night Christmas Eve and well into Christmas Day, so we had 8 inches of freshly fallen snow.  One of the most beautiful white Christmases I have ever had.  It always adds an extra layer of magic to the morning.  And it's the perfect motivation to get outside.  It was Finn's first time experiencing the snow blower, and he was quite skeptical.  First he stared, then he started calling for Conor to be "done! done!"  Everything comes in twos right now.  Liam wanted to shovel right next to the snow blower, so he took a fair about of snow to the face.

Naps were had all around, and then I found myself scrambling to help Conor finish preparing our Christmas feast.  Our neighbors arrived while I was still in pajamas!  I did manage a wardrobe change during appetizers.  Occasionally throughout the day, I missed our extended families.  Missed a bit of the bustling around.  But staying home all day for the first time ever was something pretty special too.  And finishing off the night with our "Utah family" (neighbors) was such a lovely way to end the holiday.  Finn went to bed early, so Conor & I had time with just Liam to play a new game and hear all his thoughts on his 4th Christmas.  The best Christmas!

While often those post holiday blues hit the day after Christmas, it was not the case this year!  Once again, the morning was filled with all the new toys.  Again, we had nowhere to rush to.  We had talked about skiing but knew that the mountain would just be packed.  Instead, we opted to take the boys sledding.  Apparently everyone else had decided to sled too, because I have never seen the hill quite so crowded.  Still, the sun was shining, our cheeks & noses were bright pink, and we were soaking in all that fresh air & snow.  It nearly felt like Christmas Part 2.  And I know the boys just love having Conor home for so many days in a row!  Lucky for them, Christmas is not even close to over, nor is this time with Daddy.  He's taking a week long vacation, and we are heading up to Washington to visit my family and celebrate with them.  More delicious food, more thoughtful gifts.  But best of all, more family time!

This time if so fleeting.  The belief, the magic... it won't be here forever.  But hopefully the traditions stay.  Hopefully the family time will always be a priority.  Hopefully we wake to each Christmas morning with the same excitement & anticipation.  I'm treasuring these years with wee ones.  Holding onto them.  Not wanting them to end.  Yet also eager to watch our family grow.  To head into the next stage of life where we don't plan around nap times & bedtimes.  But this time right now, it is something real special too.

Happy Holidays Everyone!  I hope your day was filled with same amount of wonder & love as ours! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fitting It All In

This week has been a bustling one for sure!  The teacher gifts have been handed out, & Liam is now officially on Christmas Break!  I'm excited to have him home for two weeks, as we fill our time with family, friends, & good food.  We're still managing to fit in all. the. activities. while also finishing up the wrapping, putting together a gazillion part play kitchen, & making a handful of grocery lists.  Conor & I always meal plan as if we are feasting with a large group.  But in reality, we are having a nice little family Christmas at home.

We took our annual trip to zoo lights, where Liam exclaimed "This is amazing!"  Lights everywhere while Christmas carols played softly as we strolled.  It was mighty chilly, even though we chose the warmest night of the week.  And Liam has informed me that the only way he can ever warm up is with hot cocoa.  Well played little boy!

And happy Winter Solstice everyone!  We woke up to a surprise snowfall, which just had to shoveled immediately even though we had morning plans and were in quite the hurry.  I love celebrating this day with the boys in some small way; how exciting that our days will begin to get longer again!  We are not fans of having to head inside by 5pm each night.

In the spirit of giving, we passed out our neighbor gifts tonight.  I love this Utah tradition of always sharing Christmas cards and homemade goods with your neighbors.  I realize many people make goodies for their friends & family, but neighbor gifts are for your actual neighbors here!  We walked the neighborhood as a family, Finn carrying a speaker blaring Christmas music (and trying to run into every single house) while Liam had Christmas card duties.  He only fowled up the names & envelopes once!  Again this year, we shared our home-brew ginger beer with everyone!  And because I'm not a fan of change,  I made tags nearly identical to last year.

I'm going to try and make fudge before bed tonight (because it's not the holidays without grandma's fudge), and then tomorrow we will ride the train to downtown Salt Lake City for a special dinner and to see all the lights!  So much fun to still be had!
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