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Five Months

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5 months old?!  It’s really hard to believe.  Even Jack who heard me tell someone that Rigby turned 5 months old over the weekend said, “Five months, already?!”

Rigby is a bright-eyed, flirtatious 5 month old babe with rosy apple cheeks and blue eyes that are full of expression.  He continues to be loud and has no qualms letting you know that he is tired or hungry.  He has also learned how to squeal this month and it is equally as loud as his cries.

This month was full of many marked events among which was a power outage from a wind storm that lasted for 50 hours!, a delay in the start to Jack’s school year due to a teacher strike, his first night away from home, a trip to the zoo, becoming the youngest supporter of Jack’s soccer team, the Yellow Jackets, and going to his first college football game.

Night time sleeping is going very well, yet we did experience the highly discussed 19-20 week old sleep regression in which Rigby work up several times throughout the night.  It coincided with his first cold, so it was all around a difficult few days, but we are on the other side of that and he is back to sleeping long night stretches.  His routine of late is an early bedtime of 6:30p (in actuality, he is ready for bed by 6:00p, but we are not quite ready to put him down then) and an early morning wake up of 6:00a.  He is still waking one time during the very early morning (lately around 5:00a) to eat and usually goes back to sleep with no trouble. Despite the great sleep, he still wants nothing to do with his crib and sleeps pretty much the whole night in the Rock and Play.  Not certain what we will do once he outgrows it.

Day time naps are so-so.  His morning is the most unstructured time of the day as we are still working to find our rhythm with Jack’s school schedule.  We walk Jack to school each morning and Rigby tends to cat nap both before and after this walk with, unfortunately, lots of crying as he tries to help himself fall asleep.  Afternoon naps are much better and longer, yet not without their share of tears before he gives in to his sleepiness.

When he’s sleepy and being changed into his pajamas, he stares very intently into my eyes without moving a muscle aside from the occasional smirk that he lets slip. He hangs onto my every word and I just might fall more in love each time.  He also might be the only person who enjoys my singing, but man is he a fan!  We have been singing Better Than Ezra’s “Something “Bout This Time of Year” and Frente!’s “Accidentally Kelly Street” a lot lately.

Rigby is definitely playing and interacting more these days.  He sits in his Bumbo chair several times throughout the day and is getting stronger supporting himself, which is good since solid foods are right around the corner (perhaps that is why he sheds buckets of drool all day long)!  He also enjoys jumping in the Jumperoo and has a particular affinity for the music and lights.  If ever on his back or in the carseat, he loves to grab ahold of his feet and sort of rock or place them into his mouth- reminds me of a little turtle that got flipped over on his shell. The highlight of his world, however, continues to be big brother Jack.  His eyes sparkle and his whole face lights up whenever Jack is within view.

We have started more purposeful reading to Rigby, realizing just a few days ago that his book time was with Jack’s books and his board books were essentially being ignored.  He enjoys listening and looking at the pictures if you can get him positioned just right in your lap, but he is also eager to grab at our arms and the book during story time.  He loves to try to close the book and stick the corner into his mouth.

Rigby is quite ticklish and I can hardly get through a diaper change without a laughing spell.  I continue to be completely addicted to it!  I just love his laughter.  We are starting to do sign language with him and he is an attentive observer.  His new trick is the beginning of a hand wave hello.  But, I have to be careful to praise as my excitement can be startling to him and he will pout out his bottom lip while tears swell in his eyes.

We love you so much sweet plum!

Jack has been very involved for several years in choosing his clothes.  And, while he occasionally needs some gentle redirecting away from clothes with characters, for the most part his style is pretty rad in my opinion. I thought I would share what he chose to wear for the first few days of Kindergarten.

Meet Your Teacher Day:

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Shirt: Gap Kids, Gray Skinny Jeans: Old Navy, Shoes, Star Wars Darth Vader Vans: Nordstrom

First Day: 

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Shirt: Bear Vader, a gift from Nona and Pops from Alaska; Gray Skinny Jeans: Old Navy, Shoes, Chuck Taylor Party High Top Sneakers: Nordstrom

Second Day: 

Shirt: Star Wars Sweatshirt, H&M, Pants: Skinny Jeans, Old Navy

Third Day:

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Shirt: Gap Kids, Pants: Gray Twill, H&M, Shoes: Pumas, J. Crew Kids, Backpack: Jack Skellington, Amazon

Fourth Day:

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Shirt: Sweatshirt, H&M, Shorts: Old Navy, Socks: Camp Socks, Gap Kids

Some things of interest this week:

Do you ever feel as overwhelmed as I do about the stack of unread New Yorkers growing in your living room?  Well, this might be just what you need.  I have used it for a few weeks now and have found it really useful!

Rigby turns five months this weekend…gulp!  I have been making plans for his introduction to solid foods for a while now and am getting so excited to use my Baby Breeza to make some yummy things for him to try!

I’m pining for a pair of glerups! They are a bit pricey for slippers, but I practically live in my Minnetonka slippers now that my work is at home.

We made this deliciously indulgent pumpkin desert on Wednesday to welcome Fall.  I recommend that you try it at least one time this season, it’s yummy!

There are a lot of restaurants in Seattle that are on my list to visit and Manolin falls near the top if only to see the gorgeous open kitchen, the beautiful bar with the dreamy turquoise brick walls, and the particularly attractive staff.  Check out the slide show in Bon Appetit.

IMG_1352.jpgPardon me while I revisit one of my favorite memories and share it for the first time here with you.  Last summer, we travelled to the Methow Valley in Eastern Washington, just the three of us (well, Rigby was technically with us, but we didn’t know that for most of the trip).  It was a trip that we all needed, one that allowed us to recharge and to just be with each other in a stunning landscape.

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We rented a two bedroom cabin from River’s Edge Resort in Winthrop.  The cabin overlooked the Chewuch River and had a hot tub on the back deck which Jack could not get enough of.  David enjoyed sneaking out early in the mornings to start his day with fly fishing in our backyard.  And, the deer were abundant on the property.  They not only played in the river, they walked right up to the cabin porches to say hello.

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Some of the trip’s highlights were going to the Methow Valley Rodeo, fishing and stand-up paddle boarding on Patterson Lake at Sun Mountain Lodge, walking along the main street in the town of Winthrop, enjoying food, beer, and live music at Old Schoolhouse Brewery, playing putt putt golf, and eating delicious food from The Mazama Store.  But, of course, the one thing I will always remember from the trip is finding out that we were expecting a baby!IMG_9156IMG_1400.JPG

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If you are local to Washington, I highly recommend a trip to the Methow Valley.  I am hopeful to go again!

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Jack has been adjusting pretty well to this new routine of Kindergarten.  He eagerly gets himself dressed in the morning, excited to wear his new clothes and shoes. He walks up the hill to school with pride, bouncing and telling me more stories from the day before as he processes what lies before him on this day.  He is making friends- one child even brought him a cookie yesterday for lunch- although he doesn’t seem to know more than a few of his classmates names.  He eats a big breakfast in the morning after learning on the first day that there are no snacks before lunch; he told me “I couldn’t play much on the first recess because I was so hungry that my belly hurt.”

All of this make me proud as I watch him find his own way (aside from the being hungry part which made me incredibly sad).  But, I can also see between the lines and I know he still has some nerves that are being rattled, some fear over what this school thing is all about.  “School is boring” he said this morning, when I think what he really means is that it is uncomfortable, so full of unknowns.  Overwhelming unfamiliar.  And this makes me feel helpless and a bit worried for him.

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Some days while he is away, and I hope doing fine, I start to let that terrible mother guilt invade my mind. What could I do differently to help him with this tranisition?  I should have talked to him more about what to expect.  I should have reminded him that most children do not yet know how to read and that it’s okay if he needs to ask a friend their name rather than read it from their name tag.  I should help him understand that going to the bathroom during classroom time is perfectly fine and that big kids on the playground may not want little kids to play with them after school and this is also okay, it doesn’t mean that they don’t like you.

Transitions are tough.  I have seen him go through several in his young life and it’s a challenge that ultimately makes him stronger, braver, and more confident.  I don’t know what sort of supporting role to play during these times, but, comically, these OMI lyrics keep running through my head:

“When I need motivation,
My one solution is my queen
‘Cause she stays strong
Yeah, yeah
She is always in my corner…

Oh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her…”

So, perhaps the best thing I can do is to stand on the sidelines cheering him on, reminding him that he can do this!  I will continue to provide encouragement, support, and love.  I will assure him of his bravery and talents and keep reminding him to be the sweet, curious, friendly boy that I know he is.  I will fill our home with comfort so he can stretch and breathe and be who he needs to be as he processes his new role as a Kindergartener.  And, of course, you can be certain that there will be plenty of after school treats, like our favorite chocolate chunk cookies, to get us through both the good days and the tough ones.
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Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Salt

Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup natural cane sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, at room temperature

1 cup white whole wheat flour

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more for topping

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup dark chocolate chunks

Preparation
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar, natural cane sugar and vanilla extract. Mix with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the egg and mix until combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix on medium speed until the dough comes together.

Add the chocolate chunks and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Scoop the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. With the help of the parchment, roll the dough into a log that is approximately 2 inches in diameter and 12 inches long. Wrap the log with the parchment and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

After an hour, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the log into 1/2-inch disks. Place them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats leaving 2 inches in between the cookies.

Sprinkle the tops with Kosher salt. Bake for 11 minutes or until edges set and start to turn golden. They might look a bit underdone, but trust me. They will harden as they cool and slightly under-baking them will keep them chewy and moist. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before trying to lift them. Store them in an airtight container for up to 5 days. The dough logs freeze well in the parchment paper and then tucked away in a ziploc bag.  I always make 2 batches of this so we have plenty at the ready.  Some days just call for a good cookie, am I right?

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One of the pleasures of deciding to stay at home this year is the opportunity to bake more often.  I decided that with the start of the school year, I would bake more breakfast foods since some mornings can feel so rushed and having breakfast already prepared can be such a lifesaver.  I also really love a good breakfast pastry and when you make it yourself, it feels less indulgent and, perhaps, even healthy.

To kick-off the school year, I baked a dozen lemon ricotta muffins.  I think I was channeling some of my yearning to travel back to Italy after seeing so many Instagram feeds during the summer featuring beautiful beachside Italian towns like Positano.

The muffins are light, sweet, as well as tart, and very moist.  The use of ricotta cheese helped to increase the protein in the muffins, which makes them a little more substantial and doable as a breakfast choice.  We have been eating them as more of a lunch or snack option, however, and they work great for that too. I have to say that when I walked home still teary eyed from the first day of Kindergarten drop-off, I was happy to sit down with a cup of coffee and one of these muffins as a late morning comfort snack.

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Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons sugar in the raw

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; make a well in the center. Combine ricotta cheese with water, olive oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, and egg. Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups (we went with a Star Wars theme- Jack’s choice); coat with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle sugar in the raw over batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Some things of interest from around the web this week:

Have you read this book?  I read it several months ago, but cannot stop thinking about it. Harrowing, yet beautiful.

The xtracycle is at the top of my wish list.

I am loving this new blog series by a great group of mama bloggers. So relevant for us right now.

Ranch style homes are my jam and this one is spectacular.

Have a great weekend! xxo

A Quick Way to Fitness

My fitness routine has been pretty much nonexistent since getting pregnant with Rigby.  I never felt energetic or well enough during the pregnancy to do much more than walking.  And, even walking was painful if it wasn’t slow enough.  And, now that I have two children who I have been at home with full-time since June, finding the time to build in regular exercise has been a bit of a challenge.

I savor the mornings when I can squeeze in a run.  Over Labor Day weekend, I was able to run around Green Lake alone and it was revitalizing.  It was also the only twenty-six minutes that I had spent without my boys since July!  So, time is precious to me these days.

With Jack finally starting Kindergarten, I am hoping to build in a regular exercise routine, but I will still need to find a routine that has the most impact in the smallest amount of time.  I also need to find something that I look forward to doing, or I will find multiple excuses not to.  A recent study led by Jens Bangsbo from University of Copenhagen in Denmark illustrated that a program they call 30-20-10 can not only make you faster, but can also improve your blood pressure and other markers of health.

The concept of 30-20-10 is to do cardiovascular exercise like running, biking, or rowing at a moderate pace for 30 seconds, a slightly more intense pace for 20 seconds, and a full out sprint for 10 seconds, repeating the cycle 5 times to produce one continuous 5 minute repeat.  The study suggests doing two cycles of the 5 minute repeat with a 1 minute warm-up and cool-down, totaling just 12 minutes of exercise.

I love this idea and know from prior race training experience that high intensity exercise makes a big impact.  What is so great about this particular approach to intense exercise is that the numbers are so easy and it only require a full out sprint for 10 seconds as compared to some programs that suggest 30 seconds or more.  I plan to start doing a few workouts like this each week…it will be interesting to see how it works with a running stroller!

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I first discovered Sleeping Lady Resort when Jack and I joined David for his general surgery retreat during his first year of post-graduate training. It is a blissful place tucked into the Cascade Mountains along the Icicle River, just outside of Leavenworth, just a few hours from Seattle. The serenity is amazing, but the thing that stood out the most during our visit was the amazing food being served at the resort. Many of the room packages include a buffet-style breakfast and dinner at the resort’s Kingfisher Restaurant and, while I am not typically too excited for buffets, I was wowed by the amazing quality and attention placed on the food here.  On the resort property is a two acre organic garden where much of the produce and herbs used in the resort’s restaurants are grown.  The farmers use both natural fertilizers, crop rotation, and environmentally beneficial insects like bees and ladybugs to maintain a healthy and sustainable garden.  And, it is quite clear from observing the daily work in the garden and talking with staff about it, that it is quite the pride of Sleeping Lady.  The culinary team visits the garden daily to harvest fresh ingredients and to plan for the resort’s daily changing menus.IMG_0691IMG_0741IMG_0718

When I was graciously presented with the opportunity to attend the late summer Harvest Dinner in Sleeping Lady’s organic garden, I, understandably, jumped at the chance!  Not only do I respect the work of Sleeping Lady’s culinary team, I’ve always wanted to dine at an outdoor farm dinner like the beautiful ones hosted by Outstanding in the Field. The Harvest Dinner seemed like a perfect way to have the experience of dining in celebration of the chef, the farmer, and the land, yet without the tremendous cost.

This past Saturday, David and I enjoyed a beautiful evening and delicious meal. Rigby tagged along and not only garnered much attention for his cute babyness, but also behaved well, which allowed us to really enjoy our food. Before we even tasted the first bite, our evening started with the introduction to our delightful dining companions, Lori Vandenbrink, the Director of Sales and Marketing for Sleeping Lady, and her husband, Patrick. We instantly connected with Lori and Patrick and their company certainly made our dining experience that much more enjoyable. Lori and Patrick’s sweet son looked after Jack during the meal, making Jack’s night also very enjoyable. The funniest part of the evening was when one of the staff members politely interrupted our conversation to say that the boys were calling requesting the password to David’s iPad so that they could watch their promised movie! This made us feel like Sleeping Lady is truly a special community, one in which we were happily connected to for the night.IMG_0689IMG_0765

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Settling into our seats at the end of a long table adorned simply with a white tablecloth, a burlap table runner and dotted with lanterns and colorful flowers from the garden, we enjoyed our beers and savored the perfect temperature as the sun dropped behind the mountains. On cue, the overhead garden bulb lights turned on, casting a beautiful glow as the feast began.

The first course consisted of three salads served family style and was, perhaps, my favorite course of the evening. The flavors were all so fresh and each bite a surprising burst of summer that seemed to explode in your mouth.  I particularly loved the nuttiness of the faro from Bluebird Grain Farms that was combined so perfectly with sweet corn, perfect tomatoes, humble wax beans, and a delicious yet subtle coriander vinaigrette. Each bite was chewy and nutty and tasted like summer food should.  As we were eating the salads, Lori looked at her plate and said, “I wondered how Josh (the executive chef of Sleeping Lady) was going to use the wax beans that I bought for him at the farmers market.” I loved that the dinner was truly a combined effort of the special communities of Sleeping Lady and Leavenworth.  The other thing I have to mention about this course is the cucumber and radish salad. I normally am not a cucumber fan, but I could not stop taking bites of these cucumbers, which were so refreshing and crunchy and when I was lucky enough to get a piece of the garden grown mint on my fork, my taste buds delighted. So, so good.
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The entrees were served buffet style which gave me the opportunity, while at the food table, to introduce myself to the executive chef, Joshua Holmes.  He’s a down to earth guy and we connected over our southern pasts, particularly our connection to Atlanta.  It was clear from his menu and from hearing him speak that he is passionate about using the produce and herbs from Sleeping Lady’s garden in his food.  He also mentioned how excited he is for the opportunity to get out of the kitchen occasionally and to do events like this one which are more closely married to the source of the food.

There were two particular highlights of the entree course. The first was the braised and smoked country pork rack.  In the best way, it tasted like a deliciously fatty campfire.  Really, it was so perfectly smoked, so tender, so delicious. And, perhaps the most surprising dish of the night was the grilled eggplant with chimichurri. It was truly outstanding and tasted nothing like the eggplant I’ve attempted to grill at home. IMG_0760 IMG_0723IMG_0817

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Dinner closed with a vast spread of mini deserts and coffee from Grounds for Change.  I loved the creamy caramel flavors of the creme brûlée, but what I was most taken with was the dessert I least wanted to taste…the pumpkin pie. I was not feeling ready to embrace the flavors of fall, but after tasting this pumpkin pie, I’m now feeling ready for the foods of this next season, particularly if they can taste even half that good. I cannot stop thinking about it! The crust was perfectly buttery and the pumpkin was rich, yet light, and tasted perfectly of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Sleeping Lady hosts Harvest Dinners a few times annually.  If you get the chance, you should really go.  I’m hoping for an opportunity to return this winter to try a meal at O’Grady’s, their newest full service restaurant where I hear the burgers are a big hit!