30 May 2012

Ms. Glick, Room 120

One day Benny and his classmates will reminisce about Ms. Glick, their kindergarten teacher. I have very fond memories of my own kindergarten teacher, Mrs. George. Several of Benny's classmates from pre-school/daycare will also be at Benny's elementary school. There are three kindergarten classes and Benny is in one with a good friend of his. We lucked out! He'll be able to see his other buddies at recess.

For now, we will anticipate the first day of kindergarten in August. I can't believe it's almost here!

29 May 2012

When Mama's Away

The rest of the family goes camping. Nate braved Lila's first camping trip solo (with the help of his dad and step mom). By all accounts, they had a great time - swimming, hiking, hanging by the camp fire. Lila was absolutely filthy by the time they returned and Benny made a new, but fleeting friend, with another boy on a bike at the camp ground.  Pretty sums up our normal life with these two amazing kids.

28 May 2012

SB 2013

Spring Break has come and gone again - just like it does every year. The girls and I celebrated our 8th reunion this year. Ah-mazing, considering that we live all over the world (Minneapolis, Denver, San Francisco and Singapore!), two of us have kids and all of us have busy, busy lives. But every year we make it work.

We spent a wonderful weekend in Minneapolis. Pretty Girl is a great host. Our activities have changed pretty dramatically over the course of eight years, however. From going out dancing and partying into the wee hours to staying in, watching a movie and crawling into bed by 11 p.m. Looking forward to next year already!

SB 2010 - Katie and I are preggers.
SB 2011 - Missing a lady for the first time in 7 years. Katie was in China.
SB 2011 - Lila took Katie's place this year.
SB 2012 - Katie, expecting her 2nd daughter in a month or so!

24 May 2012

Things I Love RIGHT Now

1. The Tuscan from Spinelli's Market. Currently munching on the turkey, pear, pesto, arugula, goat cheese, French bread goodness. I also love Spinelli's in general.

2. My $3 jean jacket from Goodwill. I feel so stylish and so thrifty all at once. It's come in very handy this spring.

3. The used Burley bike trailer we bought from a neighbor. We've already put countless miles on it.

4. Our push lawn mower. I love that it gives me a workout and I'm not using any power sources (other than my own) to operate it.

5. The sock bun. What a great idea - and so easy to execute!

Day 24 of Style Me May - New 'Do

8. The never-ending supply of fresh lettuce and other greens from our jardin de printemps.

9. And last, but certainly not least, I love the current phases my kids are in. Lila says te-te-tur when she sees helicopters and says "bye bye" to them. Benny adds extra letters to specific words: He calls the Blazer the "Blazered" and The Arcade Fire "L'Arcade Fire," as though it's French. I love going on bike rides with Benny. He talks to me nonstop and tells me about things he never thinks to tell me any other time of the day. Lila is so excited to come home at the end of the day, telling her caretakers, "This is MY mommy!"

23 May 2012

The Best Card

Benny made my Mother's Day card this year. I LOVE IT!

Preppy Pearls

Preppy top
Preppy bottom

Confession time, again. I haven't been very good about following the Style Me May Challenge. I am now working from home, so I am taking full advantage of the "do not get ready" aspect of the situation. However, I did find something "preppy." It was hard, but tying a sweater around my neck seemed to do the trick. Please note: I only wore my sweater like that for the pictures.

Oddly enough, yesterday's challenge was pearls. I own one pearl. Not a strand or a bracelet, but one solitary pearl on a chain. I wore it on my wedding day. It was quite serendipitous that yesterday was my anniversary. I've worn this pearl for (nearly) every anniversary since. It is quite timeless.

Several people have asked what we did for our anniversary. We considered getting a babysitter and going out for dinner. Then we considered taking the kids out to dinner. We settled on Taco Tuesday at our house. Then we watched some friends' kids for an hour or so and put our kids to bed. After cleaning up the house, we sat down outside and enjoyed a delicious bottle of wine and some chocolate cupcakes. Then we talked about our life together: our kids, our house, our professional lives. And we came to the conclusion that the past eight years, while not without challenges, have been pretty damn good. It was the perfect celebration of our relationship.

22 May 2012

Lucky No. 8 (2nd Ed.)

5th Anniversary - Denver
1st Anniversary - Austin
Wedding Day, May 22, 2004 - Des Moines

It's pretty amazing to think that Nate and I have been married for EIGHT years. Happy anniversary, to my darling, amazing, frustrating (the good kind of frustrating - he keeps me on my toes!), funny, talented, handsome husband. Remember when I woke up at 5:30 a.m. on our wedding day, worried that it would rain during our ceremony? Remember the tornado sirens blasting during our reception? Best day ever, hands down.

21 May 2012

Lucky No. 8

Eight miles down! And by myself. I'm pretty proud to have run eight miles on my own. I haven't run that far by myself since training for the Chicago Marathon six years ago. We'll see how my body (and mind) holds up next week for 10.

I haven't registered for any races ... yet. If I can run 10 without a problem, I'll be more confident.

In other running news, I volunteered for the Girls on the Run 5K last weekend. Girls on the Run is a great organization that is part mentor, part coach for young girls. It emphasizes healthy habits and self-esteem. I hope to be able to coach next year!

16 May 2012

Body Image and Re-Image

Over on (never home)maker today, Ashley covers the topic of body image after baby. Strangely, I thought of my own skewed body image today. I had an annual exam and had my first real "weigh in" since Lila's birth (nearly 20 months ago!). I probably lost all of my "baby weight" awhile ago. However, my shape has never really returned to "normal."

At the doctor's office today, my weight was actually two pounds lighter than my pre-baby weight. To look at my stomach and thighs, however, you wouldn't know it. And sometimes this bothers me. But mostly it doesn't. Sure, I wish I could proudly wear a bikini. Sure, I don't love my "roll." After 20 months I'm kind of over it. I'm running and biking and walking. I'm doing the best I can and I'm still enjoying myself.

I guess the whole point is that I'm getting over it - my body issues. It's taken nearly 35 years to get to this place. And it hasn't been easy. In fact, my teenage years were downright painful. Sometimes I think age and self-reflection and mental health interventions (by way of medications, exercise, talking, etc.) have been the most effective "cures" for me.

14 May 2012

Happy to Be a Mama

Benny is learning how to use the camera!
My babies!

Happy belated Mother's Day! Sometimes, in the middle of the day, when Benny is whining and Lila is crying, I get caught up in the moment of frustration. But, there are so many good moments. So many touching moments. So many amazing moments. It's the good and the frustrating moments together that make being a mom worth it.

Mother's Day weekend was filled with many GREAT moments, including a double date with Nate and some great friends. A complete transformation of the backyard (courtesy of Nate, his dad and his brother). A delicious BBQ to celebrate the new yard. A 7-mile run. A family bike ride to the local ice cream spot. And, finally, a gift certificate for a FOUR HOUR spa appointment in two weeks. Nate really stepped it up a notch this Mother's Day.

10 May 2012


It's my last day on contract with one organization. I have a week off and then Struckman Consulting starts at another organization. Know what I'm doing to celebrate? Wearing jeans to the office. And grabbing some drinks with some old work friends tonight. It's just what I need.

You know what else is good to rejuvenate one's soul? A "Classic White (T-)Shirt." It's a good thing I just broke my cardinal "no shopping at Target" rule because there was not a white shirt to be found in my closet - other than the sassy V-neck I just bought. I will be able to wear it exactly three times before I am too disgusted by the yellow pit stains. New white T-shirt motto: Rejuvenating for exactly three wears.

May 10 - Classic White Shirt

09 May 2012

Go Fly a Kite

Doctored Photos

Last Friday, I managed to "style" myself in a "Always Get Complimented" outfit, which is feat in itself since I rarely wear more than a T-shirt and shorts on Fridays with the kids. When my parents visited India they brought me back this great shirt. I don't always get complimented on it, but I did on Friday. Yes!

May 4 - Always Gets Complimented

I powered through Saturday as best I could with a stomach flu. We even participated in the Park Hill Family Bike Ride, a great monthly local event. Benny and Lila had fun. We rode over to some friends' for a BBQ in the evening. I couldn't really eat or drink, but the kids played so hard they went to bed without any argument. I missed out on the "Put a Scarf on It" portion of Style Me May. Scarves don't do well with the yaks.

We all woke up early Sunday morning, so we headed to one of our new favorite breakfast joints, Jelly, and had a great breakfast. I did not "Layer Jewelry." And it's a good thing because my jewelry is far from layerable. I would have ended up with two rings on one finger or something hideous like that.

Got started on Monday again...

May 7 - Around the World
A bracelet from a dear friend in China
May 9 - Used to Scare You (scarf and jean jacket ...
... with a business skirt and black pumps - EEK!)

P.S. Know how to cure bad photos? Put a weird ass filter on them a la Instagram and voila! they look artsy fartsy.

08 May 2012

Lipstick on a Pig

Remember the campaign of 2008? Barack Obama used that reference about Sarah Palin. I can remember it vaguely.

Today's Style Me May challenge was "Fresh Lipstick." For someone who doesn't wear lipstick, this challenge has been just that, challenging. I can't remember the last time I bought lipstick, much less wore it. I did dig out an old bottle of lipstick from my purse - I think I won it last year at some point. I slapped it on my smackers and left the house with lipstick on.

Although you can't really see the lipstick, I did want to share my outfit for today. It's one of my favorites! I'll do a recap of all the outfits so far on Friday-ish!

May 8 - New Lipstick Color

07 May 2012

The Redeemers (with Lemon Zest)

This weekend I made cinnamon rolls for the first time. Benny was so excited to make them with me. I used a recipe from a friend and assumed that they would be perfect. They weren't. They were so bad Nate asked me to throw them out a day after I made them. I was a little hurt until I tried to eat one. It was like eating a rock. Seven cups of flour wasted.

I'm not much of a baker. I tend to cook more. But after having an outstanding lemon poppy seed cupcake during a family bike ride on Saturday and following it up with a lemon poppy seed pancake at breakfast on Sunday, I had lemon poppy seeds on the brain, so to speak. Wonder if it was the opium...

I found this recipe at the Brown Eyed Baker. Overall, it was good. There wasn't nearly enough liquid though, so I threw in some milk (about 1/2 cup) at the very end. They are definitely more muffin-y than cupcake-y. I think they would be fantastic with a little sour cream frosting, but I just didn't have the time to throw that together today.

The Redeemers (adapted a bit from the Brown Eyed Baker)

2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (throw in zest from 2 lemons - 1 isn't enough)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4-1/2 cup milk if the batter is too dry
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter. Stir in the poppy seeds. Divide the batter evenly among the muffins cups.

3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

04 May 2012

Rare Moments

As I sit at my computer, drinking coffee and writing a grocery list, my kids are playing together in their room. With the door shut. It's quiet, aside from a little singing and blocks rattling. Rare moments, my friends, but so beautiful.

03 May 2012

Jazz Hands

Green fingers. I don't know what's more jazzy than that. Except maybe orange fingers - and I can do that too, thanks to Benny's fingernail polish collection. Yup, the only nail polish we have in the house is Benny's: green, orange and blue. He's a very fashion-forward type of fella.

Day 2 of Style Me May in the bag!

02 May 2012

Welcome to the Interweb, Struckman Consulting!

Wait no longer! The Struckman Consulting website is LIVE. Do you recognize the design? I'm pretty limited on my website design skills and stuck pretty close to home with this one.

Oh, and Struckman Consulting is on Facebook. Such a social little consulting firm. Feel free to visit the website and like my business on Facebook. I need to start spreading the word...

I'm finishing up with my first client next week and starting with another client in two weeks. My hours will be reduced a little, but I'm not worried. I'm trying to take contracts as they come and not get too worried about work flow ... yet. The timing is actually pretty perfect. I'll be reducing the days the kids are in daycare for the summer. More time for family bike rides, trips to the pool and all sorts of fun stuff. I can't wait.

If you have a second, let me know what you think of the Struckman Consulting site. Does it make sense? Is it attractive? And, most importantly, would you hire me? You would? Gee, thanks.

Bright, Happy Color

Day 1 of the May Style Experiment: Done. I'm not a bright, happy clothes kind of person, so I picked out the brightest, most colorful thing in my closet and then drabbed it up with some black. Clearly I need to work at this...

May 2 - Bright, Happy Color
Sock bun!
I apologize for the crappy photo quality. I'm working with an iPod with no flash. Hence the grainy photos and the creepy eye! The sock bun is super fun though!

01 May 2012

May Style Experiment

Let me be the first to say it: "I am not a style icon." I know, I know, you're surprised. "Why, Sara," you say, "all those khaki shorts and T-shirts are so becoming on you." Well, thank you for noticing. Since about high school my wardrobe has consisted of cotton, cotton, cotton by way of sweatshirts, T-shirts and jeans. Only recently have I decided to experiment a bit. Some days I'm successful. Other days,  not so much.

My biggest problem, I've come to realize, is that I don't really like to shop. Oh, and kids. I know there are some stylin' moms out there, but I have a hard time getting dressed up knowing that I'll likely be playing in sand, running around, getting food thrown at me, etc., at any given moment on any given day. It has helped to follow several ladies who have approachable and seemingly affordable style. Lately I've been digging on Kendi Everyday, A Pretty Penny, To Be Worn, and What Would a Nerd Wear? (sadly the latter blog is no longer).

I found out about a "challenge" on a style blog today that seems manageable given my constraints. I'd like to wear more of my clothes in my closet, look more fashionable, all the while not really shopping for any new stuff (aside from Target, of course).

So, I'll be participating in "Style Me May" from Bow Ties and Bettys. I won't be following the Instagram part because I don't have an account and don't really feel the need to get one. However, I'll try to post the outfits on this space from time to time. Wish me luck!