30 September 2012

Sunday Rocks!

We spent a lovely Sunday afternoon listening to the sweet, soulful grooves of Sweet Corn (Nate's band). I'm glad they can get Sunday afternoon gigs every once in awhile so the kids can watch. They both enjoy watching Nate play, dancing and drumming to the beat (Benny).

Afterward, we all walked down to the best pizza joint in Denver and had a nice end-of-weekend dinner as a family.

Then we bid adieu to the weekend and started the week all over again... Happy Monday!

27 September 2012

Happy Birthday, Lila!

I would be remiss if I didn't write about Lila's birthday on her actual birthday. After celebrating her birthday on Saturday, I kind of put it out of my mind - knowing that her real birthday wasn't until later in the week. Well, I forgot about it this morning (and Nate did too). I didn't remember until the ladies at daycare welcomed her with a "Happy Birthday!" She came home from daycare with a happy birthday crown, homemade card from all of the kids and a present from one of her teachers.

I felt like a huge asshole.

So, I did what many guilty moms would do: I rode to the nearest bakery, bought a bunch of cupcakes, lit some candles and celebrated after dinner.

Happy birthday, baby girl. I promise I won't forget another birthday. Ever.

Heavy Perspective

Remember my string of happy, happy posts back in August. Man oh man, life at the end of summer was glorious: good weather, good friends, good food from the garden. Things in September have been a little more emotionally challenging. It's not that I haven't enjoyed myself; I have. But, there's been a lot of change: Benny started school, I got busy with work (as busy I can be at part-time) and Lila turned TWO! Whoa. How did that happen? On top of all that change, Nate and I have been a bit "off" lately. For anyone in a serious relationship, you know what I mean. We're both busy with kids and jobs and life and sometimes we forget to nurture our own relationship. It's not bad, but it's certainly not as good as it could be.

Well, I received a bit of a wake-up call last night: A "Hey, lady, your life isn't so bad" kind of wake-up call. You see, a former student of mine (check that, one of my favorite students) was in a bike accident one month ago yesterday. This young woman is a teacher's dream: Engaged, articulate, interesting, smart, passionate. She taught me as much as I taught her - and challenged me even more. Not only that, but she's a lovely individual. We had kept in touch after our classes together ended. When I received the news about her accident, it weighed on my heart.

Laura is an avid biker. She doesn't own a car, but bikes EVERYWHERE. She was a big motivator for me to hop back on my bike and take bike commuting more seriously.

Last night, I finally scheduled a trip to see her at the hospital. It was wonderful to see her and meet her amazing parents. She has come a long way in one short month. She's talking and doing a bit of walking now. She hasn't regained her short-term memory yet, but her care team is confident that it will all come back. It's been inspirational to read about her progress on CaringBridge.

The whole situation reminds me daily about how fragile life is. At the same time, it reminds me that I can't live in fear for myself or for my children. Accidents do happen and people do recover. Every once in awhile, it's good to remember that my life is good and happy and worthwhile. I am lucky.

If you have an extra minute today, will you please send some positive vibes to Colorado for Laura? She deserves to be enveloped in love from near and far.

23 September 2012

Lila Le Lou Turns TWO!

Lila's real birthday isn't until later this week, but we celebrated her in style this weekend. I'm not much for big parties. Personally, I'm not a "crafty" person and I don't enjoy decorating or coming up with fun games for kids. I prefer to think that I'm "old fashioned" when it comes to birthday parties - simple events with good friends. You could also say I'm cheap, but I think old fashioned is a nice euphemism.

Thanks to all of Benny's friends who now having siblings, Lila has quite a few built-in friends and we've met many wonderful families through Benny's daycare/pre-school. As a result, we (I) decided that I didn't want to host a big party at the house. There's a wonderful park about a mile from our house that's perfect for kids' parties.

Lila enjoyed playing with her friends and eating cake. She wasn't too keen on the happy birthday song (she wailed while we sang). Overall, I think she had a wonderful birthday party thanks to all the good friends. We didn't see too much of Benny because he was busy running around with his friends.

Nana Jean made Lila's cake this year. She does an amazing job!
All the grandparents representing!
My dad couldn't make it due to an early harvest.
Lila and her friend Addy.
Lila and her best school friend Blakey.

The kids played for an hour or so (and watched a wedding take place in a different area of the park!), ate a light dinner and then destroyed the awesome cake!

Happy birthday, my lovely little lady! You add so much joy to our family! We can't wait to see you grow and communicate and make more friends and learn!

Enjoy being TWO, Lila!

21 September 2012

On Chores and Allowances

Like many parents, Nate and I have the philosophy that our kids need to learn how to work hard and clean up after themselves. We've been "training" Benny for awhile. He has been responsible for clearing his dishes off of the table after every meal for about a year. Now he does it without being reminded. We now ask that he puts his dishes in the dishwasher. Benny must also help pick up toys and messes.

Since Benny started kindergarten, we've been requiring him to tackle new daily tasks, including making his bed, brushing his own teeth and putting his pajamas away. If he finishes everything successfully, he earns a quarter. Nate decided on the amount of the allowance. I thought it was too much, but he pointed out that it's less than $2/week. Plus, we often forget to give him allowance at all.

We're still working out the details of how Benny may spend his allowance. I think he should save a percentage to give to a "cause" he supports (which is still a pretty abstract concept for him) and for a savings account. Certainly he can use some for a toy that he wants, but I want him to understand the importance of saving and giving as well. Nate thinks I'm being to ambitious for a five-year-old.

So, I'm wondering, for all of you parents who have pre-schoolers and young children, do you require chores? Do you also "pay" for those tasks? And how may your children spend their allowances?

16 September 2012

Weekend Outtakes

We kicked off the weekend with soccer practice!

Earlier this week, Nate mentioned that he wanted to go camping before the nights are too cold. I wasn't very excited. My stomach has been acting weird for the past week or so (gassy and crampy - could it be a bug?) so I wasn't feeling up to being miserable all night in a tent. Plus, we've had a busy schedule the past couple of weeks and I wanted to get some stuff done around the house.

The three musketeers took off yesterday afternoon, leaving me to a rare night off. I weighed my options - hang out, stay out late, stay at home... I'm not one for staying out and partying much any more. And many of my friends are mothers too, so finding someone who could drop everything and grab a nice dinner would be difficult. In the end, I had dinner with a friend and her family. It was a rare treat to hang out with them without my own family and with half of the interruptions we normally experience when we spend time together.

I left early to have some time alone at home. As I was riding my bike home, I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and go for a bit of a ride. Not far from home, I ran into two friends, who happen to be neighbors, who were outside for a block party. They offered me a beer, so I stayed awhile. Such a cool random accident that never would have occurred had I not been on my bike.

The campers returned relatively early this morning. Nate and Benny put together our new composter!

Lila discovered the joy of markers and stickers - all over herself.

Finally, we capped off the weekend with one of what will probably one of our final feasts from the garden (until the squash are ready, that is), including hamburgers stuffed with jalenpeno peppers, beer battered eggplant and fresh tomatoes. Not recipe worthy, but certainly delicious! Fresh from the garden: jalenpeno peppers, eggplant and tomatoes.

12 September 2012

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

We grew all of it in the garden this year! I'm particularly fond of the latter three because they are perennials and I don't have to do much to keep them alive. I'm especially fond of sage because it's such a lovely muted color.

I should use it more often now that it's increasing in size. I do throw it in the crock pot with chicken and stock. Tonight's recipe doesn't boast much from the garden, but it's certainly better with fresh sage from out back. I've been making this recipe for several years and I committed it to memory long ago. I'd love to give credit to the original source, but I can't remember that source any more!

Cauliflower, Bacon and Sage Pasta


1 lb. bacon
1 head of cauliflower
handful of fresh sage (or about 1 tbsp. dried sage)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 box of pasta (linguine, spaghetti, etc.)


Fry bacon to a crisp and tear it up into small pieces. Boil the pasta per the package instructions. Pour off most of the bacon grease, leaving about 2 tbsp. in the pan. Sautee the sage in the grease for about three minutes. Add the cauliflower and 1/4 cup of water and cover for 3-5 minutes. Add the bacon.

Throw the pasta and the sauteed items into the bowl. Add the bacon and Parmesan cheese and mix. Enjoy!

Aside from the time it takes to fry up the bacon, this dish takes a total of 10 minutes to make. Sometimes we'll fry up a bunch of bacon on the weekend and then use the leftovers for this dish.

Next year, we'll definitely try to grow cauliflower in the garden!

Fresh from the garden: sage.

11 September 2012

Dear Fall,

I am READY for you! After suffering though another hot day (and night) yesterday, I could use a few 60-degree days. I know that means that winter and snow and ice are just around the corner, but my scarves and boots need love too. Know what, my skinny jeans still fit, so I need to hurry up and wear them before the holidays hit. Plus, my summer wardrobe is TIRED! It just needs as rest.

I'm ready for pumpkin bread, and easier runs, and smashing tomato soup. I'm ready to try those brussel sprouts in our garden. I'm ready for brisk mornings and cool evenings. I just ready, dammit.

Plus, do you see these cute boots I just bought. I bought them for you and totally snubbed the Denver Half-Marathon.

Although Denver had a high of 80 degrees today, I wore a scarf and boots.
I couldn't resist.

Come on, Fall, I miss you!


10 September 2012


We don't need no stinkin' toys!

Over the past few days, I've been wondering why we even bother buying toys for the kids (and, for the record, we really don't - they mostly get toys as a gift). The kids seem perfectly content to empty the cupboards of random stuff or strip the beds to create their own play spaces. And you know what? That's OK by me.

On Saturday Benny built an elaborate contraption for making basil pizza:

And today he was building himself a two-room house on the couch. He is standing in the bathroom:

It's so fun to watch his imagination grow. And to see Lila mimic all of his crazy, silly ideas.

06 September 2012

Book Review: Runaway

Runaway by Alice Munro is the first collection of short stories I've read in a very long time. I had forgotten how much I love to read short stories - especially when they're done well. Munro has an amazing ability to capture a story in 50 pages or less. And she manages to describe things in great detail and tie the story up in a way that makes you want more!

Munro is a fairly well-known Canadian author, but I had never heard of her. I have a slight obsession with Canadian authors right now. None of them have ever disappointed me. What is it about the air up there?

All of the stories in this collection are about women in Canada. Many of the stories span several decades. They describe relationships and emotions and everyday relationships that would appear mundane if anyone else wrote about them.

The only criticism of the book is that all of the stories end on a depressing note. Each ending came with a touch of longing and pain that have been hard for me to shake off. I think this book, more than any others, will create some interesting discussion at book club this month.

05 September 2012

Pork Saves the Day!

Between school drop off, playing with Lila, grabbing coffee with a friend, mowing the lawn, attending a lunch meeting for work, watching Michelle Obama's speech (very important), picking Benny up, running to the library and finally meeting friends at the park, I wasn't sure how I'd fit dinner preparation into my day.

Then I remembered the pork shoulder waiting patiently in my fridge and this recipe:

Pulled Pork Sandwiches


3-5 pounds pork shoulder
3 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 tbsp. coarse salt


Mix the dry ingredients up and rub on the pork. Let sit for an hour and up to overnight.

Cut an onion into coarse strips. Place half of the onion in the bottom of the crock pot. Place the pork shoulder on top. Cover with the remaining onions. Fill the crock pot up so that about 3/4 of the pork is covered. Cook on low for 6 hours, or until the meat falls off of the bone.

Once the pork is finished, simmer the following ingredients in a sauce pan:

1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Pour the sauce over the pork and let sit on warm until you're ready to eat.

I was motivated by Debbie to make this recipe. She suggested that I steam some kale to put on top of pulled pork sandwiches. I steamed/sauteed some kale with a dash of salt. It was an EXCELLENT addition to the sandwich. Thanks for the recommendation, Debbie!

Fresh from the garden: Onions, garlic, kale, green beans and tomatoes.

04 September 2012

Eight Is Enough

I was all set to run another half marathon on September 22. My legs were feeling pretty good. My motivation was high. Then I ventured online to register for the race. $115!?! (The same thing happened last year, so I'm not sure why I was so surprised.) So, after running a long run of 8.5 miles last week, I'm hanging up my shoes, figuratively, for now. The registration fee coupled with the time to train are major inhibitors to my psyche.

Instead, I'm going to use the registration money to pay for some yoga classes. At this point in my life, running just isn't enough to keep the extra flab and pounds off any more. I need a more varied and aggressive approach! My body seems to be used to running. So while my legs and butt are getting a workout, my upper body is neglected. It's probably about time I give them some love as well.

It's not that I'll stop running. Rather, I'll run shorter distances and focus on my speed. I've been cutting time off each run. And I'll run for fun - not because I HAVE to.

So, I'm wondering, has anyone else bailed on training over halfway through a training plan? I'm sure many have bailed on training due to injuries and whatnot, but what about money? And time?

P.S. I also bought a pair of new boots. I couldn't justify both a registration fee and boots. It was a tough call, obviously.

03 September 2012

Labor-less Day

We spent the day with some dear friends. In the mountains. Where it was cool and peaceful. Ahhhhhhh.