Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On Cabins and Leather Sofas and Ernest Hemingway

Clockwise from upper left: 1//2//3//4
In a few weeks Craig and I are going to be moving to a little cabin closer to work. While the home isn't much larger than our current home, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to raise our son in the nation's second largest state park. The trails and free-roaming bison were pretty hard to pass up, and of course, it allows me the opportunity to decorate another home.

As I browse my Pinterest boards, I can't help but notice my affinity for leather sofas. Long before Pinterest, there was Better Homes and Gardens, and I would dutifully peruse my mom's old issues of the magazine when I was in high school and junior high. I distinctly remember seeing an advertisement boasting the Hemingway Collection and vowing that I would one day have that sofa in my home. I have a bit of a sentimental connection to Ernest Hemingway, since the first "adult" book I read was The Old Man and the Sea, and I played Hemingway in a play for Odyssey of the Mind when I was in third grade. (And if my photos weren't all packed up, I would totally put one up here, because let me tell you, my Hemingway was spot on.)

As I approach 30, I'm trying to practice a little more self-restraint and save up money for more long-term pieces, and I feel like a leather sofa would be a good place to start, and while it will probably be several months, possibly years before I have the funds, I can always browse and keep dreaming.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Country Roads + Links for Your Sunday (or Monday)

Cover Me Up by Jason Isbell on Grooveshark
+I'm looking forward to making this pot roast this week. I started telling Craig about the cloves in the onion trick, and he said, "Yeah, that's a classic French technique." So, yeah, I'm using a classic French technique this week. If that doesn't say anything about my level of culinary sophistication, I don't know what does.
+I love seeing other people's photos of my home state. Their perspectives are always interesting, and I love playing the "guess where that photo was taken" game.
+Speaking of my home state, a few items on my wish list boasting some home state love: here, here, and here.
+After a pretty stellar day at the thrift store--a pair of trouser jeans, no alterations needed for $4, and a soft old man sweatshirt for $1.50, I've added a few items to my thrift store wish list: elbow patches, the perfect tweed blazer, and a black and white Fair Isle sweater.
+I loved this. It made me wonder what item I'd put on the list--possibly my green leather purse
+Alison Winn Scotch's blog on was one of the first "mom blogs" I ever read. Even though it's no longer active, I still follow her on twitter and have enjoyed reading about her foray into self-publishing.

Photos taken during a trip home for my niece's birthday last month. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Read, Reading, To Read


I put both of these books on my to read list after hearing about them on NPR.  I loved the prose in The Panopticon and loved the spunk of the character Anais Hendricks. Once I started reading it, it was hard to put down. Once I finished, I decided it was time to pick up Orange is the New Black. I'm not sure what rock I was hiding under, but I had no idea that the Netflix series Orange is the New Black was based on Piper Kerman's memoir. After listening to an interview with Piper, I decided to grab the book and check it out. Normally, I'm a big fan of nonfiction, and I enjoyed both books, but if I had to recommend one over the other, I'd definitely choose The Panopticon


Like many people I got sucked into this series a few months ago, and decided I needed to finish it out. As Liam and I were laying in bed "reading" last night, he rolled over and said, "Mom, you got dragon book, too?" Not quite, Liam, not quite. P.S. He was browsing this book, one of his favorites. 

To Read

Carry On, Warrior: The Momastery Way to Let Go, Love One Another, and Build a Life

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Let's Go Roll Out

This was the first Halloween that Liam was truly excited. When I pulled out his Optimus Prime costume for the first time since buying it for under $2 at Target on November 1st last year, he said "Dat's awesome!" You know what's even more exciting than dressing up as Optimus Prime for Halloween? Checking out all of the other super heroes downtown. "Whoa, Mommy, Spiderman!" "Hey, it's Batman! Na na na...Batman!"
The merchants in our town go all out. "Real" candy store candy bagged up, a haunted house filled with cupcakes and homemade truffles. It definitely made for a great Halloween. (I'm also looking forward to "rationing" all of the treats.)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Interview With an Almost Two and a Half Year Old

A few months ago, we moved Liam to a toddler bed. He wasn't making the leaps over the side of the crib that I've heard other moms talk about, but he was becoming skilled at scaling up his changing table, over to his crib and vice versa. After a horrible first night of crying and rushing to the door as soon as we tucked him in, Craig and I made the decision that it was better for one of us to lay on Liam's floor until he fell asleep rather than having him climb into bed with us each time he got scared. A few nights ago, I had forgotten to say, "I love you," after tucking him in, so as he was falling asleep, Liam rolled over and sighed, "Mommy, I love you, too."

When Liam was a baby, my only wish was that he could communicate with me better--tell me what he needs. Two years later communication is still pretty tough. When he's clearly lethargic and feverish, and I ask him what's wrong, he says, "finger hurts," and when he's clearly not lethargic or feverish and is eating everything in sight, he stops to tell me, "Mommy, tummy hurts," and even though he pretty much refuses to use the bathroom, he insists on wearing the name brand Monsters, Inc. Pull-Ups because, "they like undies, Mom." But, those little "I love yous" make it all worth it.

Oh, and little moments like this, when it's raining and cold and we have nothing better to do than record a little interview on laundry day. They're worth it, too.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Before the Storm

Before last week's blizzard hit,  I decided to take Liam out for a quick fall photo shoot. We spent some time tossing leaves around and jumping on little leaf piles. It was a good thing, too, because just a few days later we found ourselves snowed in for close to three days.

We count ourselves lucky. We *only* ended up with 18 inches, and we never lost power. You may have seen this. This is a great follow-up piece to address some of the comments posted in response to that article.

P.S. It's been in the 60s almost all week, so most of those leaves are visible again. We may have to trek out for some fall fun again today.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Foggy Friday + Some Links for Your Weekend

Last Friday was one of those crisp, cool days that only occurs to remind you that it's almost fall. After work, I decided to take Liam out to hear the elk bugle. Unfortunately, I am a terrible elk hunter and am by no means patient enough to wait until they decide to start bugling, so we decided to explore a few country roads instead.

At the conclusion of our drive, we decided to stop in at the lodge to visit Craig. As I walked up to the lodge, I could smell the smoke billowing out of the chimney, and we walked in to hear the sound of guests playing music around the fireplace. Liam, ever the little politician, greeted each and every one of them, and as we left for the night, they stopped him to say, "Good night, Batman." I know I'm just saying this because I'm his mom, but he's a charmer.

And, because no weekend post is complete without a few links:
+I heard this on my way to work one morning as I was passing a huge bison bull. Kind of interesting.
+ We've been stocking up on fall and winter clothes around here, and Twice and ThreadUp have been our largest suppliers. (P.S. You should know those are both referral links.)
+Had lunch with a client earlier this week and enjoyed the most delicious bowl of sweet potato curry soup that I'd like to recreate. I'm thinking of giving this recipe a try.
+I've been loving Jason Isbell's new album. So many great songs.

+Have you seen the Penguin Chalkboard Classics?  Liam and I picked up Peter Pan at our favorite book store the other day, and I'm hoping to add The Wizard of Oz in the near future. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Conversations with Liam

(As we're driving past Mt. Rushmore)

Me: Hey Liam, did you see the presidents?
Liam: Huh?
Me: The presidents. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
Liam: Thomas?
Me: Yeah. Thomas Jefferson. He was a president.
Liam: Thomas the Train. President.

Only in Liam's perfect world.

Me: Liam, are you going to give mama a kiss?
Liam: Uh. Uh.
Me: How about a hug?
Liam: How 'bout five? (Gives me a five.)

Always making his mama feel loved.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tales of a Toddler Mom


Bumble Bee and Optimus Prime have been carefully perched on Liam's dresser for weeks now. That is, until I made the mistake of trying to pee peacefully one night. Suddenly, Liam burst through the door, Optimus Prime in one hand and Bumble Bee in the other, proclaiming, "Oh no, Mommy, 'cepticons!"

Bedtime Routine

Liam started sleeping through the night when he was two months old. ((ducks)) There was no bedtime routine. I swaddled him. He slept. End of story. He didn't cry it out, we didn't try any crazy tricks. He just slept.

Then two happened. Followed by a toddler bed. Now, our bedtime routine consists of the following:

-We spend at least three minutes trying to decide between truck jammies and Batman jammies.
- We read no fewer than five books, including at least three from his Llama Llama collection. (The kid knows his mama's a sucker for books.)
-We make the occasional frantic phone call to Craig, "Where's Diesel? Liam won't go to bed without Diesel..."
-We locate Diesel (the latest addition to Liam's Thomas the Train collection).
-I tuck him in "snug as a bug in a rug."
-I attempt to sneak out of his room.
-I am stopped in my tracks. "Mama! Lay down!"
-I prop my head on a giant stuffed elephant as Liam recites the sound of every animal and/or vehicle he can think of. I begin to doze off.
-I notice Liam's beginning to doze off, too.
-I attempt to sneak out of his room.
-I am stopped in my tracks. "Mama! Lay down elephant!"
-I lay my head on a giant elephant while Liam plays with Diesel and Harold the helicopter.
-I notice he's asleep.
-I attempt to sneak out of his room. Success!
-I hop in the shower. I step out and begin to dry myself off only to be greeted with, "Hey Mommy, I waked up!"

Being a Mom/Wife to a Super Hero Fan is Hard Work

Me (smugly): Liam and I got a pair of super hero sheets off the clearance rack at the consignment store today.
Craig: Marvel or DC?
Me: I don't know. They had Spiderman and The Hulk and Thor on them.
Craig: Marvel. Ugh.

It only gets nerdier from here, you guys.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Two Wheelin'

A few days before Liam's second birthday, I arrived home to find a Walmart shipment packed with a Batman Big Wheel sitting on our doorstep, a gift from Craig's friend Steve. For awhile, I thought it was silly to buy Liam another bike, even though his feet still don't touch the pedals. Then on the Fourth of July, I arrived at the kids parade, and saw kids younger than Liam cruising around on their Strider bikes without a care in the world, and I was hooked. So, a couple of weeks ago, we ventured out to a bike shop to purchase a shiny new "Orange Bike," and I haven't looked back.

Little known fact: Strider bikes were developed by a guy in our hometown. It doesn't get much more local than that.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Confession + A Video

I quit my job.

Corrections education, while incredibly rewarding, is also draining at times. There's a great deal of staff turnover, which can be frustrating for both students and staff. While I thought I didn't want to contribute to that, a few changes over the past year made me realize it was time to move on.

Initially, I started an online master's program through a university in our region, and I had every intention of continuing to work while pursuing that degree; however, online education just wasn't the same for me. I'm a very auditory learner. I thrive from attending lectures and taking notes and participating in class discussions. And, then, there's this. (It's just an abstract, but you get the gist.) A master's program is a huge investment, and I was left wondering if there would be a return on that investment.

So, I started applying (ever so slowly), to a couple of jobs outside of education. In the weeks before I applied for an event planning position at the company where Craig works, I first heard this podcast where Jason Pittman talks about his reasons for leaving education (it's toward the end) and this podcast where Sarah Brysk Cohen talks about her transition from social work to floral design. I know it sounds silly, but I'm a firm believer in signs and in the fact that sometimes things just work out, so when I was offered the position, I decided it was the right thing to do for me and for my family.

Telling the girls was incredibly difficult. A few of them were upset, but pretty soon one of them piped up, "Hey, can we watch that video one more time before you leave." I love this video. It makes me smile and produces the occasional snort-laugh. It also reminds me that we create our own happiness.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's a Zoo Out There

On Thursday night, I ventured down to Lincoln with two two year-olds to visit Aunt Mic. We decided to hit up the Henry Doorly Zoo on Friday. While it got a little iffy there for a while, with lots of Liam, can we shares, it turned out to be a pretty good day. When Craig asked Liam what he saw at the zoo, his first response was, "A turtle!" I think Harlee's favorite part was the tigers, even though they were kind of sleepy. (Also, thanks to Aunt Mic for hosting us and for providing some much needed adult interaction on the ride home.)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Room Fit for an Explorer: Details

It's been nearly four months since Liam moved into his explorer room, yet I keep putting this post off in the hopes of finishing a few projects. While it's not done and I fear it will always be a work in progress, art has been hung, the major furniture pieces have been moved in, and Liam has settled in well.

Gallery Wall
Ship Print, Vintage Maps, and German License Plate: local consignment store
Ideal Bookshelf Print: from 20 x 200 when I was pregnant, but it can be found here now
A to Z Bookends: clearance rack at a local shop while I was pregnant
Golden Books: collected from thrift stores, my collection as a child, and antique shops
Dresser: my childhood dresser
My Roots Lie Here Print: from Zulily last winter, but it can also be found here
Star Quilt: gift
Liam the Brave sheet: from this store last year, but it can also be found here
Map: free in a National Geographic magazine
Toy Area
Globe, Bead Maze, andVintage Blocks: local consignment store
Sock Monkey Jack in the Box: from a local toy store, but it can also be found here

Monday, July 1, 2013


June was for long hikes, goofing around, estate sale shopping, fishy watching, scraped knees, gift giving, bubble chasing, art supply organizing, and drive-in movies that lasted into July. Not pictured: ice cream making, listening to ukulele strumming around the fire pit, and rodeo cheering.

It's only looking up from here with fireworks and Grandma and Grandpa visits and zoo exploring on the horizon.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Scenes from a Weekend

a peek of sunshine

catch them if you can

surprise tests + one more week
Our first two days of summer were filled with thunderstorms and tornado watches, so we mostly stuck to the indoors watching Curious George and studying. Fortunately, the sun is out, there's a 0% chance of rain this afternoon, and as soon as nap time's over we're heading out to visit a few of our friends. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Digging Into Art

Last weekend, Liam and I decided to check out the "Dig Into Art" event at the art museum. It included a few of Liam's favorite activities--sidewalk chalk, bubbles and watercolor painting. Liam dressed up in his favorite outfit, which he affectionately calls his Dinosaur Train outfit. It consists of his dinosaur polo and his "train shorts" (It is possible that Liam has multiple pairs of "train shorts, " but these are the originals.)

This week was a bit rough--student graduating, GED testing, seven new students last week, trying to work on my grad class, and guess who landed herself on jury duty. Let's just say that next time around, I am going to be sure to air all of my dirty laundry in front of that courtroom. The quiet route definitely did not serve me well. I'm currently listening to this podcast, attempting to study for a midterm, and looking forward to a play date at Storybook Island tomorrow. Thank goodness for the weekend.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Volksmarching + Some Thoughts on Perspective

This weekend Liam and I decided to try the Crazy Horse Volksmarch. It's a 10k (6.2 mile) hike, which is significantly longer than the 1.5 mile loops we typically embark on, so I was really nervous about how things would work out. After talking to a coworker who had done the trip several times, I decided to give it a try. 

Until this year, they only open the monument up for hikers once a year, but this year they plan to do it twice. It was sunny and 60 degrees on Sunday morning, so I decided it was best to do it now for fear of encountering snow or wind when they open it again in late September. They divide the trail up, so there are four check points on the way up. Shortly after checkpoint one, we decided to stop for a little break, and Liam decided to walk until we nearly reached checkpoint two. I was really impressed with how well he did. On Saturday, the lady who owns the consignment shop in town gave Liam a Buzz Lightyear, which he insisted on bringing along. It turned out to be a hit, as 60 year-old men would pass us and shout, "To infinity and beyond," and it landed us on a local newscast.

The monument is a work in progress, and passing all of the dozers and diggers and blasting equipment was probably Liam's favorite part, he shouted, "Oh, tool (cool)," which made me laugh.

Shortly before we got to the top, Liam started saying, "Wanna walk, Mama." I decided it was best to wait until we made it to the top. By the time we started the trek down, Liam was tired, hungry, and ready to get home, so he started running ahead of me, causing me to say, "Stay on the trail with Mommy" and "Be safe, Liam" more times than I'd like to count. Eventually, I found myself prying Liam off the trail because he laid down and refused to go any further and carrying him for several feet until I found a rock to boost him back onto my back and into the Ergo. A couple of ladies stopped to help me strap him back in. I'm an introvert to the core, and the solitude is one of the reasons I like hiking so much. However, the camaraderie on the trail that day made me grateful there were so many people around us. When I mentioned it was almost naptime, they chimed in, "He's doing great, and you're doing even better. You must take him walking often." They helped me put it all into perspective. When I saw a little boy who was not listening to his mom, they saw a two-year-old who had just successfully finished hiking or riding in the Ergo for nearly five miles of a 6.2 mile hike and a mama who needed a little encouragement getting him to the end.