Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sometimes I feel bad because my kids are naughty...

but, then sometimes I have to laugh because they are so clever in their naughtiness.

It was my mom's birthday last Saturday, so my benevolent sister and her family hosted a party in honor of her that night at their house.

And, of course we sang to my mom as she got ready to blow her candles out on her favorite banana cream cake purchased by my dad from Beaverton Bakery.


And, while we were singing, I guess Alice hatched a little plan to get back at the younger cousins who always blow every one's birthday candles out before the guest of honor has a chance to.

So, right as the little ones were gathering their breath to give a big blow, Alice quickly puffed a strong blow right over the entire cake extinguishing the flames before anyone else had a chance.

Look at her face.  Smug as heck.  And, Tyler looks a big disappointed.  Oh, Alice.

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

***in case you're wondering, the little girl next to Ava is a neigborhood kid crashing the party.  My mom is chill like that.

Friday, April 18, 2014

tattered and torn

(Family Home Evening Selfie)

Although my words have been spare lately, my thoughts have been swimming.  Particularly about blogging, and what it means- to me, and to others.

Blogging is a weird thing.  It's a relatively new platform in the grand scheme of things.  And, with it's newness, I struggle with a desire to continue writing unabashed and sort-of uncensored, and my desire to crawl in my cave and deliver soliloquies to my bedroom wall instead.  I've been known to do that before.

I've been spending time this week reading a lot of critiques of popular bloggers (and I am in no way relating myself to them.  I have three devoted followers, and they are all blood relatives.  It's just that when I read what other people really feel/think about how these popular bloggers portray themselves in the blogging world, it pushes me to start re-evaluating my approach/attitudes/thoughts about blogging in general).  Really, it is making me feel self-conscious- a feeling I rarely give into.  And, I know I should stop digging into this stuff, because it does me no good, and is a ridiculous time-waster, but I'm a curious sort, so I still keep reading.  I'm going to stop...tomorrow.

I'm just a regular person with regular kids, a regular husband, and regular problems.  Just like you.  I have ups and downs.  My life is not picture perfect.  I don't organize my books in rainbow color, or throw lavish childhood birthday parties.  I don't shop at Anthropologie (unless it's clearance and even, then I'm close-fisted) or live in an exciting city full of picturesque cityscapes and unique eateries.  I don't have a husband who wears bow ties and hipster reading glasses, and my children don't run through orchards holding onto over-sized balloons.

Rather, our book self is a mishmash of paperbacks, hardcovers, church manuals and childrens books that are haphazardly shoved into the over-crowded shelves.  My kids only get a birthday party if they organize it themselves and it costs me under $30.  I shop mostly at The Goodwill Outlet and will occasionally splurge on a clearance sweater from Target.  I live in a small town where our most picturesque thing is an obnoxious reader board that levels insults at our city council and mayor.  And for restaurants, we have a Red Robin.  Yippee!  My husband wears t-shirts and jeans with the occasional baseball cap.  And, more often than not, you'll find my kids running barefoot in the neighborhood riding scooters and shooting hoops or laying on the couch watching Secret Prince.

It's a messy, wild, unspectacular, but amazingly splendid life.  And, it's probably quite similar to yours.  I want that to come through on my blog.  I want the normal, the mundane, the everyday to be portrayed because those are the threads that bind us together in a tightly woven and uniquely beautiful tapestry that becomes the legacy of our lives.

I'm not going to ask you if I should go on.  I will.  I must.  I write this blog for me and for my posterity.  I'm a journal-er and this journal is for my family.  I'm trying to be transparent and real.   I enjoy a beautiful life, but I don't live in a fairytale.  No one does.

Monday, April 14, 2014

dinner simplified: fancy grilled cheese sandwiches

Goodness friends, I'm sorry I've been such a spotty blogger lately.  We are at the height of busyness in our house at this very moment (ramping up to a high school graduation + another high schooler + middle school + track practices + my son + a bunch, bunch more).  I often stop myself during the whirlwind evening marathon and think about how this could possibly be the peak of our wild family-life roller coaster- these final six months of having all four of our kids still living under our roof.  So, instead of borrowing precious time to blog, I am simply enjoying the ride, trying to take it all in right now.  And, it's good.  Oh, so good.  I love this life I lead.  What a blessing!

But even, in the midst of the hubbub, I still have to make sure chores are done, errands are run and dinner is made.  It never ends.  So, like I've discussed before, I've radically simplified our dinners in order to make them less overwhelming, but still a priority.  I will always believe in the power of family dinners.

Tonight I made these:

This one is actually Wes', since he is still not home from work yet (work emergency), and we all finished eating before he has come home.  My kids raved about these sandwiches, and honestly, it only took me 15 minutes to crank out six of them.  Much faster than enchiladas or a roast, and just as delicious.  But, mostly they were simple and easy.  I didn't have to think much about it, just looked in the fridge and thought about what would taste good on a grilled cheese sandwich.  So, of course, bacon and avocado were included, plus a bit of ham and suddenly I had a dinner to feed the masses.  Oh, and I did add a touch of ranch dressing as well.

 If you're interested in the recipe (I just made up), here it is:

Makes 6 sandwiches

1 loaf of Italian artisan bread (mine is from Trader Joe's, but a loaf of Costco's Pugliese would be perfect too)
Half a package of bacon- fried in advance
1 avocado
12 or so slices of cheddar cheese
12 or so slices of black forest ham (from Costco)
Ranch dressing

Butter both slices of bread and layer all the above ingredients inside.  Toast each side until golden brown and the cheese has melted.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

San Francisco road trip 2014

If you follow me, or my girls, on Instagram then you are well aware of our Spring Break road trip to San Francisco.  My mom and I had been itching to take my girls on a trip there for a while, so the last week in March seemed like the perfect time to make that happen.

All three of my girls had never been to S.F., so they really had no idea what to expect.  We were staying in Concord, so each morning we drove into the city, and it wasn't until we drove them down Lombard St. did they really start to "see" what was in store.

I had read up a bunch on where to eat while we were in the city.  Our first day, we stopped for lunch at Tony's and it was fantastic.  We ordered three smallish pies to share (a New Yorker, a Margarita and a cheese).  All were delicious, but the New Yorker was the show stopper.  Delicious!

We walked a lot while in the city, making sure to hit Union Square at least once.

We also went down to Fisherman's Wharf, which was predictably busy and touristy, but we had to do it once.

The girls seemed particularly thrilled with our stop at Ghirardelli Square.  They didn't really know what it was all about, so when the free samples started flowing and the aroma of chocolate enveloped us, well, they were in heaven.

We also stopped by the famous Painted Ladies (aka Full House houses), because we have seen every single episode of Full House, and because it was a beautiful view of the city.

The next day we came into the city with the plan of renting bikes and riding across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Somehow David Hasselhoff got onto some of my phone pics.  I blame Alice!

Riding across the bridge was awesome.  We stopped every so often to take pictures and enjoy the breathtaking views.

Once across we rode down into Sausalito to spend some time wandering the streets and to later catch the ferry back across the water.

(Best ice cream ever!)

Sausalito is so beautiful!

The girls very much enjoyed the ferry ride.

We had amazing views of Alcatraz, from the ferry.

When we were back on shore, we rode our bikes along the waterfront and back to the bike shop (I think we rode 8-9 miles that day).

Later we headed to Chinatown

Alice finally found a license plate with her name on it!

We say a lot of street dwellers while driving around the city.

Later that evening we ate at the best sandwich shop I have ever been to.  I had the Pastrami-Charmed-Life sandwich and my mouth is now watering just thinking about it.  Yum!


On our way home we drove through the Redwoods.  Unfortunately, it was a miserably wet day that particular day.  But, we did stop and have lunch at the most beautiful and high-tech Wendy's I've ever seen in Eureka.  So...

Finally, the next morning we had breakfast at the Morning Glory restaurant in Ashland Oregon.  I've been there once before, and it was divine.  If you ever have the opportunity to eat there I highly recommend it!

Cate and I shared the white chocolate pancakes with strawberry butter.  Oh, so good.

Finally we headed home.  Back to our boys and our regular lives.  Thank you so much to my parents for being a big part of making this very memorable trip happen.  We love you two!!!!