Friday, October 28, 2016

End of Week Wrap-Up

This week has been long. Teaching two nights a week and still coming in at 8 every morning makes for a very long semester. But...I am on the downhill side of the semester, which is always a good thing. An end of week list:

1. Did I mention teaching two nights a week is starting to catch up with me? Last night was also our mentor dinner, which meant it was an even longer night. I love that dinner, but I do not love getting home so late.

2. I got a legit holy hell migraine on Wednesday. I haven't had one in about forever, but I think fatigue just finally got the better of me. I'm so grateful Brad was home and could step into the gap when I went down. I made it through work, but that was about the end of that.

3. We are headed to a haunted hike tonight! It should be lots of fun. Wildlife educators will be stationed along the trail with ravens, hawks, and owls. I can't wait!

4. We also have to make Halloween costumes this weekend. They are still top secret, and I'm really praying these ideas actually come to life.

5. We have no where to be on Sunday, and I can't wait...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Birthday Celebration

We celebrated a very special birthday yesterday--Daddy's! We all had to work and go to school, but we spent the evening celebrating in a big way.

Daddy requested French onion soup, steaks, and broccoli. I have no idea how I ever made French onion soup without spiralizer:
I must say, dinner came out super well:

 Even I enjoyed the broccoli, which is a birthday miracle! We ended the evening with apple pie:
 It wasn't the world's fanciest dinner, but it was so lovely. He is certainly a man to be celebrated, and I am so very glad he is ours.

Monday, October 24, 2016


Mom came this weekend for a visit, and she is one step closer to moving! She brought her first load of stuff--and hopefully my last box! We also got to go check on her house, and there actual walls going up! It's so exciting! We can hardly wait to have her down here full time.

While she was here, she went on a field trip with Issa, baked cupcakes with both kiddos, and got to see Evan at the dojo. We also managed to squeeze in brunch and a trip to the olive oil store. It was a few very packed days!

Now we are officially counting down the days to our Chicago visit!!! A girl could get used to this much family time.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

They Are Listening

I took the kids to get their flu shots yesterday. That was totally non-eventful. However, the drive there was a bit intense.

Out of the blue, Issa asked when I was going to vote. I told her my plan was to vote early to avoid the lines. And then all the questions started.

Kids are listening. We've had several conversation around the dinner table about this election, but I had no idea how much conversation was happening in the cafeteria. We cleared up some misconceptions. I explained the way I think about the world. They had good questions.

Issa had already put a lot of thought into this. She had already thought through what could or couldn't happen depending on who becomes president. She knew many of the promises being made couldn't actually happen. She understood the way the government works, and I'm a bit amazed at how nuanced her understanding of politics is. It's a little scary.

She then asked why kids couldn't vote. And then the kids had a hard time understanding why you are legally an adult and can vote at 18 but can't drink until 21. It doesn't make sense. And then Evan said this: "Grown ups just don't think through the rules."

Sometimes, buddy. I just hope we all remember that little ears are listening...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Well...all is not well in Evan's room. We lost three fish last night. One of the light bulbs burned out on Sunday, and I'm afraid the stress of swimming in and out of the light might have gotten them. (I'm sure there is some great metaphor there.)

So...we cleaned the tank and got new bulbs and are hoping for the best. Evan has decided not to replace this crew, though. He has an eye on converting the tank to a happy little lizard home. I'm really hoping the rest of these fish make it!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Now That's How You Weekend

This weekend was perfection. We kicked it off Friday with the school's Latino festival, which never disappoints. I took exactly zero pictures because I spent the first third eating from food trucks, the second third snuggling babies that were being passed around, and the last third working the tissue paper flower table. I know I made at least 100 of those things with kiddos--and some adults! This annual event really is one of my favorites!

Saturday, we set off to explore an apple orchard/pumpkin patch. The very first stop was the pumpkin chunkin' station! The kids loved trying their hands at the pumpkin catapult, and I am beyond tickled with these pictures:

 From there, we took a hayride to the apple orchard. We were there right at the very end of the season, and Brad was a bit annoyed because they confined us to a very small section of the orchard, but we came home with a full peck:

 We have found that this particular version of Arizona black apples make fabulous pies and applesauce, so we were very happy campers:
 Once we had our peck, we hopped back on the hayride to go to the pumpkins. Because of the hurricane, they had to pick all of the pumpkins off the vine. They did scatter them around the peach orchard, though, so we could still hunt and "pick" our favorites.

Issa chose this unique funky one:
 I found a very fun lumpy gourd:
 This is actually Daddy's lumpy bumpy one (and the only half-way decent picture I got of Evan all day--the family picture was a disaster):
 Evan chose that behemoth perched on Daddy's shoulder:
 Please note Issa ended up carrying hers on her should because the boys were:
 We ended our time at the pumpkin patch with warm cider donuts and cold cider slushies. The kids tried their first tire swings, and we just enjoyed fall.

We were home in time for dinner, which may or may not have been the apple pie Issa and I made as soon as we got home. While Issa and I were baking (and she was laughing about all of the odd tweaks on the family apple pie recipe that each generation has made, passed on, but refused to write on the actual recipe card) the boys were cleaning Brad's birthday present:
 This big shiny grill came to live with us last Thursday. Brad has been waiting for a great sale on a gas grill all season. A neighbor posted he was upgrading and just needed this baby gone--free to anyone who would come get it. I stopped on my way home from work and thought it looked great but couldn't figure out how to get it in the van. I called Brad, who arrived on the scene and confirmed that it wouldn't fit in the van. So...he rolled it home. It was on wheels, so aside from the dreadful racket it was a pretty easy task. It needed a good cleaning, and Brad even got the lighter switch repaired.'s as good as new:
 Our first task was to attempt smoking our own jerky. It was amazing!
 Sunday, the boys cleaned the garage, mowed the grass, and detailed the car. Issa and I went to the ballet:
We were home in time for grilled chicken on the new grill, and now we're running headlong into what is looking like a really crazy week! I'm so glad I have the memories of this weekend to keep me going...

Thursday, October 13, 2016


I cook year-round, but I really love cooking in the fall. I'm a seasonal cook. There are some dishes that are dead to me for large segments of the year, so I love when fall rolls around and I start pulling out recipes that were stashed for the summer.

Fall means all things pumpkin in my world, and Brad found a recipe for these pumpkin whoopie pies with a brown butter filling:
 I surprised the kids and him with these treats after school yesterday. He was getting home just as they were, and they were a huge winner. I've never been so happy that a meeting cancelled at the last minute. I don't get to bake an after-school treat very often, and there is something so cozy and satisfying about it.

Then for dinner, I tried a new recipe for vegetarian Indian shepherd's pie:
The base is lentils with all kinds of veggies and Indian spices, and then they are topped with mashed white sweet potatoes. So good. It was also the first time I got to use the stoneware crocks Mom passed on to me. She didn't use them anymore, and I'm a huge fan. There is something so cozy about the heat radiating off the crock as you eat.

Cozy. That's my theme this week, and I'm loving every cozy moment.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

It's Fall

This is the current view from my office window:
See those tinges of red? It's fall! My very favorite time of year!

We have pumpkins sprinkled around the house. Apple cider has been warmed many times. Brad and I had tea when we were both working from home--as in the whole pot sitting on the table keeping us warm. The heat kicks in every morning, and we celebrated the arrival of the chill with the traditional fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

I love the time to snuggle into warm sweaters and thick socks. I love feeling all cozy under blankets at the end of the day. I'm just trying to savor every colorful, chilly drop this season, and I couldn't be happier.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Safe and Dry

We had a lovely weekend hunkering down in the face of Hurricane Matthew. The rain started Friday and lasted all day Saturday. It really was impressive. The ditches were full and the little pond turned into a small lake. The kids had a blast in the biggest puddles they have ever seen, and we were pleasantly surprised by how calm the dogs stayed--at least relatively.

We did lose power for much of the day Saturday, and we did have to cancel our Saturday plans because of a downed tree and some flooding. But...we were very lucky. We had power before dark on Saturday. We were snug and dry. The introvert in me loved just hunkering down with my books and my knitting with zero guilt.

Today, we are back to work and school. We are also very fortunate. Neighboring school systems are still closed due to power outages and downed trees. The water is still rising in many places. Hurricane Matthew is far from over for many--including some students that I hold very dear. We are praying for a speedy return to normal, and we remain incredibly grateful.

Friday, October 7, 2016

My Sister!!!!!!

In the midst of the  chaos this week, my sister texts, "Sounds like you need a weekend in Chicago!"

I ran it past Brad, and we are going!!!!! It's not until next month, but it has been my beacon of light at the end of the very long tunnel that is this week. I cannot wait. We are already planning all of the fun places we will go, and the kids are bouncing of the walls with excitement.

But...I am most excited because MY SISTER!!!!! We have polar opposite schedules, and she is forever traveling for work. Our calls general begin with me asking, "Where are you?" But, this sister of mine, she always picks up. She always texts back. She's always there. And I have really been missing her face. And now I can count down the days until I get to hug her neck: 34. I just can't wait!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

On Hurricanes

Life feels like a bit of a hurricane right now as are watching Hurricane Matthew with not insignificant interest.

The actual hurricane we are ready for. We have our water and our pantry stocked. We are watching to see if we need to bring in the patio furniture. We are keeping weekend plans really flexible. We've got this.

It's the rest of the hurricane that is a bit more difficult. We were apparently in the eye of the storm the past couple of weeks with Brad's work, so life is really busy and interesting there again. Fall break starts tomorrow for me, which means last week and the first part of this one are insane. Add some really unpleasant decisions in my volunteer life, and I'm pretty much desperate for a rainbow.

All that said, after Friday some of the storms will definitely pass, and we are hopeful for some of the others. I think I might just be starting to see the break in the clouds...