I don't think I took a single photo with my camera all last week. I'm in crunch time now, just two weeks shy of two very big deadlines, and my productivity level is on high as I stay focused on a very big to-do list. It's been a big semester, although it seems I say that more often than not. Last year at this time, we were getting settled at Mom and Dad's for a near four month extended stay, packing up a storage unit, unpacking our necessities in their basement, and packing up again for a work conference in D.C. I had strep throat and was absolutely miserable, everyone else got sick shortly thereafter, and I remember trying so hard to remain positive even though all seemed to be spiraling out of control. Now, still busy, but grateful to be settled in for the upcoming holidays, I have definitely gained some perspective as we close out another year of blessings. Life's a juggling act, and I do my very best to stay balanced and not get too many balls in the air. :)
This weekend may not have involved any pictures, but it was just what we needed. We stayed put for most of it, the kids had ample time to get every toy out and play, and I think I matched them with loads of laundry. We got groceries, I organized tenure binders during the Hawkeye game, and hauled out five Christmas boxes full of a hodge podge of stuff from previous years. Yesterday, the kids played outside while Beau helped me decorate our porch for Christmas. It's a little overwhelming to think about decorating this space this year, but if it all goes together as smooth as the porch did, it will be a treat. The weather was too nice not to and I was feeling quite accomplished as I took a look at my finished product all lit up at night.
But since I don't have any pictures to upload and share from our past weekend's adventures, I decided to post some pictures I've snapped from my iPhone lately. Perfect for capturing those quick, impromptu, and often special everyday snapshots of these busy days.
We had many picturesque October weekends, leaping in leaf piles on campus and picking out the perfect pumpkins to carve for Halloween.
And I'm pretty sure I tried a new soup every weekend in September and October! My favorite? This beef and barley soup and the tomato bisque in the Book Bistro at UNI. I swear I could eat that stuff every day. I'm a sucker for comfort food!
November brought our very first thankful tree. It's been one of my favorite additions to dinnertime, a chance to talk about gratitude and name some things we are each thankful for. Things like laughter and warm cozy beds and our buddies, like Liam and Lincoln and Aubrielle.
And Dunkin' Donut holes! It's become a Saturday morning routine. I like to think it's our way of stimulating the economy of Cedar Falls. :)
All Mila needs in the world is her blankie and dollies. And that paci, but only at naps. :)
Saturday morning soaks in the tub. Mila has graduated from the kitchen sink!
And Saturday night soaks for me. And our contractor said I would never use this tub. :)
This season of hibernating always seems to find us congregating in our bed more often than not. Especially on Sunday nights, often accompanied with popcorn and Dora (and later The Walking Dead).
We had a fun Friday night at the Susong's for a wine and food pairing. Aram and Katy are fantastic cooks and invited us to a six-course, small plate food pairing with a sample of Balletto wines from San Francisco. We had a green salad with pears and pumpkin seeds, a butternut squash and feta hash, tomato basil gnocchi, smoked pork loin with sriracha coleslaw, beef wellington in a puff pastry shell, and small apple pies for dessert. Hard to top the food, but the company was even better!
A Saturday at the Dome for UNI Family Weekend. The kids looked adorable in their gear and LOVED the energy...for the first fifteen minutes, anyways. :)
A product of our thankful tree. Cruz's teacher, Mrs. W, has come up often this year as someone we are very thankful for. She has taught Cruz so much in these last three months, and has helped spark a love for writing, rhyming, and drawing. We decided to get her a little something to show our gratitude and delivered it one morning last week. We were running late and by the time we got there, the kiddos were already sitting quietly for circle time. I instructed Cruz to set them on her cabinet and quickly took him to go to the bathroom. When we returned, Mrs. W instructed Cruz to bring the flowers over to her. She put her arm around him said, "it isn't my birthday, so I would like to know what these are all about!" And just a little shy, I watched his eyes light up and say, "it's because it's Thanksgiving, and I'm thankful for you!" As busy as last week was, it's so important we make room for moments like these. Moments to make others feel special, and give our kids a chance to experience what that feels like.
Cruz and I had a special little morning a few weeks ago. Cruz had his 5-year checkup and the two of us spent the morning prior in the book store. We were the only ones in the entire store, and Cruz had fun showing me all the things he would like to add to his Christmas list. And he cashed in his free cupcake card for birthday week!
My brave boy at the doctor's office. No shots this year, but he did have a wart froze off, which was not the best experience for him. He was brave through the first round, but let the tears fall for the second one. It was worth it, though, as that thing finally fell off this week!
Mila fell asleep on her floor the other day. I'm getting excited for a big girl bed so I can lay beside her every now and then. She's never been much of a snuggler, so we have to take our opportunities when we can!
She's sassy and a bit disheveled, but is showing signs of all things girl as of late. From her pink and purple to her love of accessories, it's pretty fun to watch her develop a taste for a little bit fancy. And she learned to jump with both feet and is pretty proud of this accomplishment!
And finally, a sneak peek of my hard work yesterday. I can't quite talk Beau into climbing up on our roof to string lights, so I made sure to make a statement with the porch. My discovery of zip ties made this process pretty enjoyable!