Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Our Last September Weekend

I wanted to go away this weekend.  I didn't have any set plans, but with the weather forecast looking to be another gorgeous one, I was longing for an adventure away from home.  When I ran the idea by Beau toward the end of the week, he was not feeling the same way.  He said we were long overdue for a weekend at home to reset a bit and conquer a few projects we've been putting off.  I was crabby at first, but after making him promise to do something fun next weekend, I concurred and made plans to make the most of our two days at home.  

Don't tell him this, but he couldn't have been more right.  It was one of the first weekends we've been home with no plans for so long.  We opened windows, washed bedding, hung our very first family pictures on the wall, and hung some curtains in our bedroom.  Saturday afternoon while Mila napped, we cleaned the garage floor to ceiling, reorganized our garage fridge, and hung the bikes on their racks for another winter season.  I organized toys and swapped them with forgotten favorites from the basement, prepped meals for the week ahead, and even wrote a paper for class.  I woke up this morning feeling a hundred pounds lighter, ready and excited to conquer this week without the added weight of what we left undone from a busy weekend.  It's good to get away on the weekends, but I had forgotten how good it feels to just be home, too.  

And while we accomplished much and are feeling giddy about our spotless garage floor, we also had plenty of time for fun this weekend, too.  A few good things from our weekend at home...       

219.  These September sunsets have been blowing my mind lately.    

220.  Friday night, we put the kids to bed and had a little date night at home on our beloved deck.  We lit all the pretty lights, got out our best linen napkins, ordered Indian food, drank wine, and I even put on some lipstick.  I never wear lipstick.  We listened to Otis Redding, talked about big and small adventures, and toasted this wildly wonderful life over extra spicy chicken curry.    

221.  Saturday morning, we continued our run of meals on our little oasis, and even invited the kids this time.  Last weekend, I was inspired by Kate's mason jars of homemade granola, and decided to revisit my granola recipe board from Pinterest.  I found a really great one from Pinch of Yum, and paired it with vanilla yogurt, fresh berries, jumbo muffins, and chai lattes.  I love how the mornings require sweatshirts and cozy socks and love propping open our big French doors from our bedroom to fill our house with all that morning light.

222.  Six months later, I feel like I'm finally getting to the little things in this house.  I needed a little while to just live in it and get a feel for the overall style I was going for.  I spent some time decorating a few of my built-ins on Saturday and love how they turned out. 

223.  We ordered pizza Saturday night and continued our string of meals on our deck.  Then, while Beau and Mila went for a little walk, Cruz and I had some uninterrupted time of Chutes and Ladders, Race to the Treasure, and lots of talks about a month of birthdays, trick-or-treating, and a much anticipated Star Wars marathon.

224.  We went to church on Sunday and Mila is *finally* a fan of the children's nursery (PTL!).  I think it wore her out, though, as she snuggled with her daddy shortly after church and fell asleep on his shoulder.  For a girl who rarely snuggles, this made her daddy's day.

225.  My parents stopped over on Sunday and we decided to throw together an impromptu dinner.  Beau was smoking a rack of ribs, and I worked up some red-skinned mashed potatoes, acorn squash, and a leafy salad.  The meal was unplanned and the kids were wild, but we ended up having this simple fun night that felt just right.  Mom and I fawned over Mila's little voice and big vocabulary as she cleaned everyone's plates and told us stories following supper, we sat on the front steps and watched the kids do lion dances as we waited for that Super Moon, and it kind of felt like the old times when we were crammed into their house last winter, waiting for this house to be done.  What a ride that was!

226.  And as that super moon turned from the brightest white to the deepest red, I laid on Mila's window seat in the dark with Mumford and Sons singing her to sleep.  The windows and blinds were cranked just enough for me to see the moon right outsider her window, and the cool breeze found my face as I laid there still and waited for her breaths to slow to that familiar consistent pace of sleep.  We ended the night with a couple of Moscow Mules on the front porch, wrapped in blankets watching that moon do its thing.  What a show it was.  

Tomorrow is October!  Keep these fall days a' coming... :)

Monday, September 28, 2015


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2015"

Cruz: Cruz made quite the city on our driveway this Saturday while we cleaned the garage.  He even made parking spots with sidewalk chalk.  He's always loved to play and continues to expand that imagination of his.  

Mila: Mom and Dad dropped in yesterday and stayed for an impromptu dinner of smoked ribs, red-skinned potatoes, salad, and acorn squash.  Mom and I had quite the conversation with Miss Mila after dinner as she finished the carrots and Cruz's peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I fixed her hair up in a little clip just like Mom used to do with mine and she looked so girly and sweet.  That is, until you caught a glimpse of the Batman band-aid on her calf. :) 

School Picture Day

I don't know what it is, but I adore school picture day.  Maybe it's because I'm a photographer by hobby and love pictures that capture these important milestones of my child's life.  Or maybe it's because they remind me of my own picture days growing up, picking out my outfit, making sure my hair was just right, and writing "BFF" on the back of all the little wallets, trying not to smear the ink (damn you left hand) before trading them with my classmates.  Or maybe it's because as photography has evolved to capture the more real, un-staged moments of everyday life, these cheesy, overtly staged photos in front of that generic, swirly gray backdrop seem to stand the test of time.  

I love our daycare for many reasons, one of them being that school pictures are taken much before most kids get them.  And while most kids only have a window of about three years of adorable school pictures before the infamous years of no teeth, awkward smiles and braces, I already have a rich collection of these cheesy photos that make my heart melt.  And out of the thousands of pictures captured of my children, some of their school photos stand out as my absolute favorites.

This year, we got a note home from Mila's teacher saying Mila was not feeling pictures today.  I asked Cruz on the way home from school how they went and he told me Mila cried the whole time.  He went on to tell me how hard he tried to make her smile, making funny faces, pretending he was her favorite animal, and even reading her a book to make her happy.  I laughed at the picture in my head of my nonchalant little boy doing his very best to make his spirited little sister happy in his parents' absence.  Sometimes, it takes all three of us working very hard to make her happy!  I thanked him for his help and wondered what Mila's picture would look like this year...

I think that story from Cruz made me love the pictures this year even more, as I could see every piece of what he told me in stories of these photos.  I love the way he's reading to her, his sweet, protective brother smile, his arm around her, and the way she's leaning in to his words.  I love his confident smile, the happiness in his dark brown eyes, and his perfectly straight baby teeth.  And I love Mila's face, her questioning eyes, wispy hair, her dark little arms, and that scab on her nose.  My babies, just who they are, unique little souls emerging boldly in front of that swirly gray background. 

I love them so much.         

Thursday, September 24, 2015

All the Good Things // September

Well, the first day of fall was yesterday and next week, we will already say goodbye to this beautiful September.  It seems like I say this every year, but this month in particular has been one of the prettiest Septembers I can remember.  The mix of perfect upper-sixty degree days with those lingering upper-seventy degree days has created the perfect mix of all we have to anticipate for fall and all we have to hold to from our summer.  I've always been a Midwest girl at heart and love these times of transition.  There's always so much good to hold onto, yet so much new to look forward to at the same time.  But these warm days, crisp mornings, and gorgeous sunsets remind me that there's just something special about fall.  

I can feel the pace of life pick up as October lies around the corner, but I want to live in this September just a little bit longer.  It's been one of the best.  It's been filled with family and friends, good food and getaways, open windows and nights on the deck, and Friday night apple picking and Sunday football watching.  It's been filled with all the good things that fall brings, with a little bit of summer in between.   

A slew of pictures from our September...

208.  Post supper walkabouts at one of the prettiest parks in town.  It's just up the road from our house and with a lawn that's still a work-in-progress, we often seek refuse here.  We throw rocks in the water, feed the geese, look for fish from the bridge, climb the swirly tree, and watch the sun set.  

209.  Cider donuts and Saturday morning dance parties.

210.  Living in a college town.  We spent UNI's first home game watching from the sweet seats, a suite view thanks to Brian and Angie.  And Jennifer came from Des Moines to babysit the kids, so needless to say we were all a happy bunch. 

211.  Impromptu picnics at Lookout Park in the middle of our work week.  I felt the deep need to just go and play, eat peanut butter and jelly out of plastic sacks, and go around the merry-go-round until we were dizzy.  Nights like this are fuel for the rest of the week.

212.  Spending Papa Curt's birthday at the kids' favorite playground.  This is getting to be a beloved little ritual we do - order pizza right to the park, take turns chasing the kids up and down the slides, and all congregating on this tilt-a-seat for conversations about everything from politics to preschool to Tom Brady and the Patriots.

213.  A perfect Sunday of a Bears' kickoff for the boys, a three hour nap for Mila, and an afternoon in the kitchen for me.  I love that I can now have a direct line to the living room action from my island, and especially love when Cruz decides to sit across from me and color.  This day, he practiced his letters while I chopped every vegetable in our fridge for a yummy beef stew.

214.  Before bedtime hangs on the deck.  It's become our other little sanctuary, a place to gather that seems a little bit out of the ordinary, offering a little spark at the end of our day.  We do baths and jammies, then all grab a toy of choice and sit on quilts while the sun goes down.  We listen to music, build block towers, and feel a little bit farther away from the reality of laundry, emails, and dishes that exist on the other side of that door. 

215.  A quick weekend getaway to see our dear friends in Pella and meet sweet little Drew.  We had never been to Pella before and were so impressed with everything about this town.  Nate and Kate are the absolute best host and hostess, and we picked up right where we left off.  We spent a rainy Friday night over charcuterie and glasses of Pinot Noir, and enjoyed a gorgeous Saturday seeing some of the sights of this adorable town.  We had a breakfast picnic with coffee and those famous Dutch letters, the kids put on dance parties on the amphitheater stage, and we grabbed lunch al fresco before giving the kids some time to show us their moves in the bounce house.  Baby Drew is a dream and I loved every minute of catching up with his wonderful mama and doing family together for a couple of days.  


I'm starting a petition for a bakery like this in Cedar Falls!  Who's with me?!

216.  A Sunday afternoon visiting our old neighborhood park.  We had just a little bit of nostalgia as Cruz climbed familiar ladders and slid down familiar slides. 

217. The kids and I spent the day with my parents on Sunday when Beau had to go out of town for most of the week for a work conference.  Mila took her usual three-hour Sunday nap, Papa Curt watched football, and Grandma and Cruz colored while I baked up apple turnovers and wild rice soup.  We then spent some time showing them around Hartman Reserve, where we got up close and personal with a friendly little deer that was definitely not afraid of us! 


Mila's reaction to the deer...:)

218.  Early mornings where the three of us found ourselves in the big bed.  Beau was still gone and Mila woke up with a bad dream about 4:30 one morning.  I brought her to our bed, and about a half hour later, Cruz meandered in to join us.  I wouldn't want to make a habit of this, but it was pretty sweet to all wake up together on a morning without Daddy.  

That's a wrap!  Looking forward to one more September weekend for the books!  



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