the kids are alright (we’re ok too) and why it’s important to have girl time…

IMG_2128 every once in a while a few of my friends get together for some much-needed girl time.  we are all moms and sometimes we need to take a  few hours to cut loose without the kids.  once, we made what could have been an ill-fated trip to ikea in portland, but instead it turned into a wonderful day-long road trip with a stop in hood river, great food, beer, conversation and company.  even though things didn’t go as planned, the day turned out better than we could’ve imagined!IMG_2213this weekend we got together at my house on one of the hottest days of the year and we just hung out in my kitchen drinking cucumber freshies, talking about life, sex, kids and having a great time unwinding from life.  we actually all had our kids with us this time and, even though they ranged from 17 months to 15 years, everyone got along splendidly and had a blast playing and watching movies downstairs while we hung out.

the afternoon turned into an impormptu dinner of salmon, rice and corn that my husband cooked for all of us and the kids.  a significant other or two joined us and we had a most lovely evening.IMG_2183when i think about the bond i have with this particular group of women, i realize that the most common factor is that we are all moms.  we are all strong women and our mom-ness doesn’t define us but it is definitely something very important to each of us. it joins us in a kind of unspoken understanding.  it doesn’t phase us that, more often than not, we don’t finish a sentence because someone little interrupts us, or that the conversation can bounce from subject to subject in the blink of an eye with no cohesion.  i love the bond that i have with these women.  we are all so different, but so much the same too.

cheers, girls.  i love you.

e

p.s. i’m working on getting the cucumber freshies recipe posted along with the apricot goat cheese bites.

embracing the mayhem and chaos…

i often hear, when people find out that the boys are twins, “oh, double trouble” or “you must really have your hands full!”  while i’m sure their intentions are good, i can’t help but think, “why are you assuming that my boys are too much to handle?”  why would you think that having twins is anything less than totally awesome?  i’m sure it’s no different than the experiences of anyone else.

it’s true that there is a lot of chaos and mayhem in our home.  i have no idea what it would be like to have just one kid at a time but i don’t assume that our chaos and mayhem is any different than anyone else’s.  our routines are all i know and since we are not having any more kids, i will never know any different.

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i have learned to embrace the chaos and mayhem and love it for what it is.  so what if my house is never all the way clean.  there’s almost always some mess or weird smell.  it’s never totally organized.  so what if they dug a giant hole in the middle of our yard to make themselves a sandbox. i have two little boys who are happy and messy and blissfully unaware that this isn’t the way it is everywhere.

and isn’t that what really matters anyway?

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i guess what i’m saying in a very roundabout way is that we do what works for us and that is the best and only thing we can do.  i recently had a woman at costco ask me if the boys were twins and she happily said that she is expecting twins too.  she asked me if i had any good advice and, without even thinking about it (there was a long line behind us,) i said, “yeah, don’t listen to anyone else’s advice!  do what works for you.”

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i read a lot about different parenting styles and theories on how best to raise children and while there are some really good ideas out there, at the end of the day, i find that christopher and i really just come back to what works for us and the boys.  we don’t have many rules in our house.  we believe strongly that the boys should be able to express themselves freely, whether it’s in their artwork, clothing choices, or in their speech (occasional profanity included.)  i get that this does not work for everyone, but that’s ok.  i don’t need it to.  i just need it to work for us, which right now, it does.

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i say “right now” because we also believe in changing our minds.  christopher and i make sure the boys know that we aren’t perfect and sometimes mommy and daddy make mistakes.  we try to emphasize the importance of respecting others, apologizing when we are wrong and being mindful of the world and others around us.  our goal is to try to raise loving, caring, empathetic boys who care for themselves as well as those around them.

and that’s the best we can do.

and that’s good enough.

have a happy weekend, people!

cheers!

e

 

around the house…

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things have been crazy around the house over the last six weeks and i have not been posting like i have wanted.  the holidays tend to stress me out as it is, but with everything going on, it’s been a bit more stressful than usual.  holiday decorating is not my favorite, but the boys love it and i do it anyway.  right now, it looks like christmas threw up in my house and i can not wait until january, when i can put it all back away in the garage and have a fresh, clean house!

from the top:

pFriem beers on our way to the fleetwood mac concert in portland before thanksgiving

red cross turkey trot on thanksgiving morning

first snow of the season

hand lettering my chalkboard door is about as into christmas as i like to get

realized this is the first time we’ve taken the boys to see santa!

making soft things for loved ones for christmas

contrary to common belief, elves are grown ups and enjoy a beer now and then (santa would never use child-elf labor!)

gingerbread a-frame

ballast point bloody mary and my favorite hopworks hoodie on tree decorating day (they don’t carry the one i’m wearing but this one is similar.)

jack jack the pirate king

i hope you are weathering the holidays.

cheers,

e

on thanksgiving, family and other s%*t…

i realized that my last post was quite a while ago.  blogging has not been my priority lately.  we have been having some family struggles and we are doing our best to help, comfort and support.  i know i’m being cryptic, but it’s not my story to tell.

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however, i have been thinking a lot about how i interact with people.  a long time ago, i was very much a pleaser.  someone who put my own stuff on the back burner (or pushed it completely off the stove) in favor of other’s needs.  i was super nice.  always happy (actually, not at all) and willing to do whatever was asked of me.  after going through my divorce nearly ten years ago, i realized am realizing that i am much happier with myself if i adjust how i interact with others in my life.

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a couple of the ways i have adjusted my thinking are listed below.  and just to be clear, i am not writing this post to give any instructions because i have it all figured out.  just the opposite; this is more a reflective post for me and maybe to give out a little encouragement during this time of year.

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the worst case scenario: i will win the zombie apocalypse because i have a plan.  i always have a plan for the worst case scenario.  however, i am learning that i can’t continually let my mind travel to the far reaches of all the horrible things that can happen to my kids, my husband and my family or in my work.  instead, i repeat the polish proverb: “not my circus, not my monkeys.”  really, i am learning that there are things outside my control and i neither need to be nor should i worry about being in charge of those things.  it gives me a moment to breathe and say, “is this really my problem?”

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literally: i used to spend a lot of my time thinking that what people said to me was not really what they meant.  i would replay conversations over and over in my head until i was not sleeping, like ever, and i was sure that person totally hated me.  something like “i can’t meet up with you that day” would turn into “i have never ever liked being your friend and i can’t believe you haven’t figured that out yet and i wish you would never speak to me again.”  messed up, right?  finally, i was just too exhausted to deal with that anymore.  during my divorce, i lost most of my friends.  i have one that stuck with me and we are very close.  she is amazing.  but, in making new friends, i have learned to adjust my thinking.  if someone says something to me, i believe them.  maybe that’s naive, but it works for me.  i will not be held hostage by trying to interpret someone else’s thoughts.  and on the flip-side, i say what i mean.  i don’t want anyone to have to guess.  i have a few more really good friends now and there is no bullshit with us.

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the holiday season always brings so much shit along with the cheer and wonder.  families can sometimes be the most cruel because the normal societal rules don’t seem to apply.  we often say the worst to the ones we love.  we often turn our backs because we assume forgiveness will always be there.  we crack and break under the stress of creating a perfect “holiday experience.”  we expect more from others than we are willing to do ourselves.  and, this is just awful, damaging and heartbreaking.  i am certainly guilty of this, but i’m doing my best to change my thoughts, actions, expectations and behaviors.

try kindness

during this holiday season, i challenge you to speak with kindness and intention.  say plainly and clearly what you mean and expect that others will too.  reach out to those who need comfort and compassion.  give someone some help and maybe a break before they lose it.  do not expect the moon without offering the stars.  and remember, sometimes it’s not your circus and these are not your monkeys.

but if they are your monkeys, please ask them to refrain from throwing their shit.

cheers,

e

 

image at top courtesy of the museum of the city of new york

that maddening season…

do you ever think “if i can just make it though these next few weeks, things will slow down and get back to normal?”  i do, but now i am starting to think that there is no such thing as slowing down and going back to “normal.”  fall is here and that means that halloween, thanksgiving and christmas/new year are just around the corner.  this is the maddening season:  obligations, parties, gifts, crafts, buying, cooking, going, doing…

i am trying to prioritize some “me time” in my days, which just really means that i struggle with feeling lazy when i decide to get a cup of coffee (the most incredibly large cup of coffee-cue mike myers voice, hello!) at my local coffeehouse in between dropping off and picking up the boys from school, because i should be at home cleaning and cooking instead of visiting with my lovely neighborhood barista and reading the newspaper.

but, i’m trying not to be too hard on myself and remember that i can only do what i can do and that i need to make time to enjoy the boys and my home.  i’m learning to say “no” to some obligations and to say “yes” to things that i want to do and to things that will make life easier and more enjoyable for me and my family.

here are some things i’m doing to make this maddening season a little less hectic (starting with that coffee on school days):

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i accomplished one project, in that i think our halloween decorating is done.  bats, tombstones, pumpkins and skulls are all placed strategically around our house and they boys are delighting in the season, which, really, is what it’s all about.  bring on the spooky, i say.  i’ll be leaving all the skulls out after halloween and incorporating them into the regular home decor.  something else i don’t have to put up next year.  i also especially love halloween because all the spiderwebs in my home the rest of the year look like very delicate, handmade-from-etsy, decorations.  yay spiders and yay me for being too lazy short to clean them!

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jack and harry are happy we can still spend some time outside and that it’s not too cold yet.  the little cat loves jack jack and lets him snuggle her and pack her around.  she is so patient.  i’m loving watching this special bond they have and i’m really having a hard time with the fact that we need to find a home for some of the stray cats that have come to live on our porch lately.  maybe some cats will be a part of my holiday “giving.”  watch out, peeps.

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also got my hair cut again.  i’ve come to the realization that i am not good at doing my hair, especially now that it’s gotten much thicker and unwieldy after having the boys.  i went back to my pixie cut and i’m way happier.  i can just run my hands through it on the mornings i have to get the boys to school and i don’t look like the mom who just fell out of bed.  even though, i am the mom who just fell out of bed.  chalk up one for making a good hair decision and doing something for myself that i know would make life a little easier.  it’s not the best picture, but hey, that’s what you get when i take a quick selfie just before i walk in to work.

oh, and a good friend of mine has started selling nail wraps, so i’m jumping on that bandwagon too, because a) no drying time, b) two week wear time, c) i like having my nails done and these are cheaper than going for a manicure and easier than me doing it myself and d) no nail polish smells, which drive my husband batty.  it’s a win-win and i’ll talk about them more when i have given them a good trial run.

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finally, here is a sneak peek of the boys’ halloween costumes.  something i love is crafting, and i was thrilled when they asked for costumes i could make.  harry’s is completely different and i’ll put them both up on the blog when i make some time to take pictures.

how do you deal with the “maddening season?”  i’d love to hear your tips and tricks for making life easier and more enjoyable.

cheers,

e

lately…

lately, i’ve been getting into the swing of things with the new job at the taphouse and getting used to a schedule that gets me home way later at night (ok, really, way early in the morning.)  i’ve also been feeling old.  i think it’s just one of those times in my life when, all of a sudden, i realize that i’m not actually 25, like my brain thinks it is.  i found out that i’m the oldest person at my new job and i’m only 36.  plus, i’m running around like a chicken with my head off at the new job and i am totally not used to moving this fast for this long!

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because i’m not one for remaining static or keeping things how they’ve been, i needed a change.  something personal.  something to perk me up.  something a little drastic, so, i chopped all my hair off.  well, i didn’t do it this time.  i had someone else do it. i’ve been growing it out for nearly two years and i had gotten to the point of not wanting to do anything with it.  then i decided i needed some highlights, which i did do myself.  they didn’t exactly turn out as highlights as much as light caramel-colored streaks, but i like them and that’s all that matters.

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i didn’t know how it would turn out, so i didn’t take pictures, but next time, i definitely will.

the boys have been a bit out of sorts lately, too, so we’ve had some lazy days around the house. we’ve had some storms the last couple days and i think the barometric pressure is messing with all of us.  i’ve been playing around with the look of the blog and the boys have been playing around the house, doing art projects, and watching movies.

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monday, when we heard about robin williams passing, we watched jumanji as a family.  i think we will watch hook next.  this has all reminded me how fragile people can be and how we are all fighting battles, and how important it is to be kind to those we meet.  having struggled with depression i know what it feels like to be that low.  i am thankful that i haven’t felt that low in a long time, but i am mindful that it can come back when i least expect it.  so, i keep a close watch on myself and take measures to make sure i stay healthy.

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today i am snuggling with the boys, watching pbs kids, making homemade canned pizza sauce from our home-grown tomatoes and working on my writing.

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next week we are taking a family camping trip to wallow lake in oregon.  just the four of us for four days.  we plan on fishing and hiking and i don’t plan on doing much of anything else.

cheers,

e

a “do-over” day…

do you ever have those days when you feel totally overwhelmed?  today is one of those for me.  long story short: i found out that my insurance never approved the claim for my hysterectomy surgery (that i had nearly 18 months ago) and the bills i’ve been painstakingly paying off each month were just for my dr. and not the hospital.  i had been told that i was being billed and paying on bills from both the hospital and my dr.  now, i am facing another $1000+ bill.  just when i was about to finally have my surgery paid off.

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i keep thinking that this shouldn’t be bothering me.  i am so blessed in my life.  i have a wonderful, sexy, hardworking husband who loves me and our boys to the moon and back; we have a home; the boys are healthy and smart.  but i am feeling the pinch of being laid off and having much less money in the bank account.  and, today, i feel like this new development is insurmountable.

however, i need to change my way of thinking.  there is nothing i can do about this but wait for the new bill and set up payments.  i’m still looking for a new job and i can concentrate on keeping my eyes and ears open for new opportunities.  i can make due and make the best of things.

life has definitely handed me enough lemons for some lemonade.  but, i think i’ll use them for a gin and tonic instead.

cheers,

e

pic is a cute little coaster from the wall sticker company on etsy