Friday, February 28, 2014

raising up little boys | beach edition.

one of my few resolutions for 2014 was to get these two little goofballs outside more this year.  to make more of an effort to explore the parks & all the gorgeous wilderness around us.  living in the PNW, we're lucky to have a ton of access to state parks, beaches, trails & hikes so i want to start taking advantage of that.  plus, i've always kind of been a wimp about letting parker get dirty... i'm working on that too. and on letting these guys know it's ok to get mud on your jeans, dirt on your hands & to go outside even if it's raining.

totally worth it.  i'm only moderately obsessed with these pictures... elliot's smile in that last one?  i. die.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

oh, these two.

if you follow me on instagram or facebook, then you've seen these pictures.  i, however, can't get enough of them.  something about these two images resonates with me & makes me come back over & over.  pretty sure they'll go up on a gallery wall in our next house.

if i could freeze time right about now, i just might.  three-almost-four year old parker is the best parker yet.  he's seriously the sweetest kid.  he's so sensitive & polite & easily pleased.  he told us he wants a "jungle animal play-doh set" for his fourth birthday but then realized he also wants a thomas train set that moves on its own.  "oh, i know!" he said, "i'll ask for the thomas trains for my five year old birthday!"  the thought of asking for more than one thing hasn't even occurred to him.  makes my heart happy.

eighteen month old elliot is at that point where he's breaking out of babyhood & on the verge of little boy-hood.  he does things that surprise us every day and expresses so much independence & personality.  one of his favorite things in the world is to get into our tupperware drawer, grab a small container & go stand by the pantry holding it up until we give him some snacks.  once you fill up his cup with goldfish, bunny crackers or fruit snacks he runs off squealing, gobbles them up & then walks back into the kitchen & puts the cup back in the drawer & then goes on his merry way.  such a goof.

i'm so grateful to be mom to these two little boys.  on days when i feel like they've won & i've lost complete control, when elliot's fighting getting dressed or parker is yelling at me from time out, i remind myself that i was chosen to be their mom for a reason.  that they were sent to me & that i am capable of raising them up the way they need to be.  i can only dream of the men these two will be some day.  i spend a lot of time thinking about how much i hope they always remain close & holy crap, what if they even went into business together one day or something.  how i hope they don't move far away from home & if they do, at least maybe it will be somewhere close together so sam & i can move there too.  i don't know why those thoughts fill my head when my days are currently consumed with diapers, goldfish & thomas trains but they do.

and i'm convinced that there is no one in the whole world who sees these little boys the way i do.  i'm overtaken by it, actually.  does every parent feel that way about their children?  that no one else could possibly feel that passionately or deeply about another person or love someone so much to the point that it kinda hurts.

i have big hopes for these two little boys.  but in these pictures, right now, they are still my babies.  they are on the verge of something big.  but in this moment, i can still wrap them in my arms, pick them up & rock them when they're down.  i kiss their "bonks",  read them silly books & sing the same goofy songs over & over with them.  these are the times where the days are long but the years are short.

it's going too fast.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

someday i'm gonna miss this.

i mentioned in a previous post that we're looking to move to portland.  and although this move feels like it's forever away {ugh, house hunting... that's for a whole other post} it's definitely right on the tip of my mind at almost all times.  saying goodbye to friends.  to our little house that has been home for the last seven years.  and to this little town we've grown to love so much in the meantime.

olympia is comfortable.  we have "our places."  we have the amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurants we take our friends from out of town to & i have running routes memorized like the back of my hand for all mileages.  and it really is a cool city.  honestly, if sam didn't have to drive an hour to work each way every day, we could be very happy here for a very long time.  and we have been!  but it's time to move on & while that brings a ton of excitement, the reality of saying goodbye to some of these places puts a pit in my stomach.

so while we wait {anxiously!} for that perfect house to come on the market our time will be spent soaking it all in.  getting out & enjoying the salty marine air, swinging at the city park & stuffing our faces with some of our favorite local foods.  running around capitol lake, hitting up the farmer's market or feeding the goats at the cider mill a few more times, too.

this town has shown us lots of good times & while we have a big new city to get to know soon enough, i guess it's not the worst thing in the world if we're stuck here a couple more months while we await the next big adventure in our lives.

Monday, February 24, 2014

my one {thousandth} weakness.

all weekend i had the urge to make cookies.  i fought it hard & made it through sunday without whipping up a batch.  then monday came along in all its dreary, rainy, anti-glory & it was basically begging me to bake.  anyone else get that way?  cold, rainy days just make me want to turn on my oven & make something warm, gooey & gluttonous.

of course i justify it by enlisting parker's help.  it's a fun activity that he enjoys doing alongside me.  he helps me mix up the dough, make the balls to drop on the cookie sheet & when they come out of the oven, he's first in line.  obviously.

looks like this batch was 100% parker approved.

{and for the record, since i know one person will ask or at least think it, i always just use the classic tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe & they're always pretty dang good.  however, they always kinda flat.  WHY?}

Friday, February 21, 2014

doin' it the PNW way.

we've had a pretty dry winter, if i'm being honest.  so you'd think i wouldn't really complain about the rain in true seattlite fashion... but i'm gonna.  the rain makes me soooo lazy.  i blame the rain for sitting around the house watching movies with my boys instead of being productive.  toy story, thomas & friends & wild kratts movie marathon?  the rain made me do it.  the laundry isn't done because of the rain.  i had to stay curled up in a blanket with my little monkeys because... rain.  true story!

so yesterday, after a couple days of being home-bound, we hit our breaking point.  rain or no rain, we were going outside to play.  i'm so glad we did because if there's one thing i think little boys need to do {especially in the PNW} it's get dirty.  these guys were so stoked to put on their boots & stomp around in the puddles & wade in the flooded lake.

the first picture below is literally elliot's face the moment he realized i was gonna let him walk through the puddles.  kid kills me.

and lastly, i will just say that i'm grateful for my P365 project for sometimes getting me out of the house when i might not want to.  pictures of us sitting around our house don't make for very interesting compositions day after day so i have to admit, the "need" to get out & find something fun to photograph definitely increases my motivation to get outdoors.  it's always good times.

well, it's all fun & games until elliot falls flat on his bum in the lake anyways, which is how this story ends.  {not pictured}.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

marriage // how time + kids changes things.

i'm gonna preface this by saying i have a good marriage.  i married my best friend who turned into the most amazing father to our two boys that i could have ever imagined.  i'm lucky.  you don't know what kind of dad your husband will be until you're both elbow deep in diapers & spit up but you hope you have a pretty good idea based on conversations about kids & how he acts around kids while dating.  well, i hit the jackpot with sam.

all that being said, every marriage takes work.  lots of it.  and clearly not all marriages work for one reason or another.  i could spend all my time blogging about how great my marriage is but i'd be lying if i said we didn't have our moments where it was really, really hard & we both had to take a step back, refocus & remind ourselves that we have the same end goal & make sure we are on the same page.

the other day something hit me.  i had been unfair to sam.  i'm not quite sure when it happened exactly but i realized sometime in the last three years & ten months since parker has been around i had been viewing him differently.  at some point he had gone from being my absolute best friend & the love of my life to someone who could make my life easier.  on many days, i no longer longed for him to come home from work so that we could play & be together & go on adventures but rather get home already so i can throw a kid in his arms & finally get a thing or two done around the house, make some phone calls or jump in the shower.  he was my break, not my good time.  

this post is coming as a result of a little info-graphic i saw floating around facebook a while back {i can't find it now, ugh!} that talked about how married couples who have less than five positive interactions to every one negative interaction are statistically bound to end in divorce.  whoa.  that's crazy, right!?  but i believe it.  people can only take so much.

and every now & then something hits me like a ton of bricks & reminds me that my life isn't as invincible as i thought it was.  my marriage isn't immune to growing apart, we aren't callused to indifference & our friendship can't always be based on who we were when we were first married.  we have to work on these things.  we have to continue to date each other, listen to each other, be happy for each other & find things to do together.  we have to have fun together.  not just work together!  i don't want to live with a co-worker.

so, yeah.  eight years of marriage & i'm still learning.  but i'm glad i am!  i'm glad sam & i are both committed to making sure our marriage stays strong.  it's grown from butterflies & twitterpation to partnership & stability.  it's worn in & comfortable.  it's not always easy but fifty years from now, it'll still be worth it.

then... we were just babies! {circa 2005}

and now... us + what we've created together :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

playing photographer | practice makes perfect.

so i went into it a little bit on my business blog if you wanna see the professional side of this day but last saturday i got to do a one on one mentorship with one of my favorite local photographers benj haisch.  the guy produces images that blow your mind.  i mean the way he sets up shots in these epic locations to produce visually pleasing images is super unique & totally something i want to get better at.

i've decided i'll always try to do at least one workshop, conference or continuing education opportunity a year, so this year it was my mentorship with benj.  as part of the day, he does a photoshoot with YOU in front of the camera.  sooooo not my forte.  but it puts you on the spot & let's you experience being the person photographed which is a pretty unique experience for me.  and i was lucky enough to come out the other side with a few images i actually liked.  and where else would i share these images but here on my little ol' blog with you.

of course i spent hours figuring out what to wear, getting my hair cut & colored, etc. but we ended up outside in the pouring rain anyway where i just wore my hat, coat & gloves.  by the end of the shoot i looked like a drowned cat.  thanks for that, seattle.

if you wanna see some of the images i shot that day, check out my post on my business blog HERE.  it was a pretty awesome day & hopefully we all see another giant leap in my photography in the coming months as i practice the five million things i learned.  because seriously after this day, mind blown.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

on raising elliot | how #2 has been different.

oh this kid.  where to start, where to start?

elliot has kinda gotten the shaft in the way of documenting his childhood.  parker not only has a picture to go along with almost the entire first two years of his life but a freaking blog post detailing the events & milestones of each day.  elliot has definitely fallen victim to the quandary of being a documentary-less second child.  

his first eighteen months {which he turns in five days... wut!?} have been different than parker's.  i spend a lot of time wondering if it's all because of his personality or if it's because he's a second child.  i remember parker being so easy going, independent & self entertaining. i think elliot may be what people call a "strong-willed" child, haha.  it took him til almost a year to sleep through the night & his temper is nothing to shake a stick at.  he goes from zero to sixty in 0.2 seconds flat.  he will react quickly & strongly & then get over it just as fast.  

he is the sweetest little boy.  he wants nothing more than to snuggle & be held all. the. time & if he had it his way i would join in on everything he's doing at all times.  he sees no need for me to make dinner, clean house or fold laundry, as far as he's concerned it should be me and him, 24/7.  i'll admit, he has a point.  with parker it was me & him, all the time.  elliot only gets half of me 90% of the time.  and i wonder how much that has to do with all of it.

elliot doesn't talk very much.  he says a handful of words (mama, dada, uh oh, nana, papa) and animal sounds.  he signs & gestures & definitely understands what we're telling him ("elliot, go put this toy in the toy box.  go put this in the garbage" done & done) but he sees no need to attempt words.  again, second child thing?  i don't sit alone with him near as much as i did with parker looking through books & asking him to point out the pictures.  sure, we read books but it's me & both boys & parker's quick to point things out & move on.  elliot likes to observe & squeal in excitement & watch parker figure things out.

he has so much personality.  he does the funniest things & when he flashes his smile & those little dimples come out, my heart melts.  i think we're gonna have our hands full teaching him how to deal with that little temper of his but i think his strong personality will be one of his greatest qualities.  i hope it means he's passionate & driven & determined.  that's what i see in him right now... a little boy who knows what he wants & isn't afraid to show that he wants it.  

if there's one thing that's for sure, it's that my heart holds a place for him just as equally as parker.  i was always so afraid i wouldn't know how to love another little boy as much as parker & somehow your heart just finds the space.  or maybe it doubles in size.  he is every bit as much my little buddy as parker is & the two of them are starting to become the best of friends.  they hold hands while walking around the grocery store & today they stopped traffic for giving each other impromptu hugs while standing in line at costco.  

i fully expect nothing short of amazingness from this little guy.  he commands attention when he walks in a room & isn't afraid to tell you like it is.  i know that sounds funny in regards to an eighteen month old who doesn't talk but that's elliot for ya.

love this kid to pieces.

Monday, February 10, 2014

chicken noodle soup from scratch & days when you feel like your head is gonna fall off.

so when i say "from scratch" i definitely don't mean i made the noodles too... let's not get crazy.  but yes, i pride myself as of late on being able to whip up a pretty killer batch of chicken noodle soup.  it's kind of a process but once you start making your own you'll never be able to go back to store bought or worse yet, canned.  blech.

today called for some comfort food in the form of warm noodle-y soup.  parker & elliot are both fighting a nasty cough/cold & no one got a whole lot of sleep last night.  it's tough seeing your kids sick but it's especially tough when one of them can't tell you what exactly hurts & instead just cries & cries & cries.  not only does the crying physically raise a mom's blood pressure {what is up with that anyway??} it really makes me want to shove handfuls of chocolate in my mouth or make muffins or eat cookie dough.  not the best coping mechanism, right?

so instead i made a big fat pot of chicken noodle soup.  who doesn't like chicken noodle soup when they're sick?  and this recipe makes it so warm & creamy & delicious.  so since i seem to be on a roll with the posts, i thought i'd share my methods.  it's pretty basic & not a whole lotta fluff.  if you know some amazing secrets that takes your soup to the next level, be sure to share 'em in the comments!

and now i'm off to go scoop up my crying eighteen month old out of his crib after a 45 minute short lived nap.  hey winter cold season, i am SO over you!!

amy's scratch chicken noodle soup:

- 1 or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 large carrots, skinned & chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, cleaned & chopped
- chicken bouillon or 2-3 (or 4?) cups of chicken stock
- about 3 cups of egg noodles
- 1 can cream of chicken soup

cut up the chicken into chunks & throw it into about 2-3 cups of water.  bring the water to a boil & let the chicken cook until it's easily shredded (like 10-15 minutes ish? maybe longer?)

cook the noodles according to package's directions, take them out & drain 'em.  set them aside for now.

fill up a large saucepan with 3-4 cups of chicken broth {i use water + bouillon} and throw in your veggies.  bring the broth to a boil & cook about 10 minutes or so, until veggies are tender.

your chicken should be cooked & shredded now, dump it in with the veggies, including the water it was cooking in {it's ok if a lot of it has boiled off by now}.  add in your noodles.

last, stir in the can of cream of chicken soup & let everything simmer until you're ready to serve.


p.s. as good as this was, i still realllllllly want some cookie dough. geeze!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

blah blah blah, snow day!

at what point does snow go from being awesome to super annoying?  maybe it's a certain age or a number of days of snow.  for me?  i absolutely love seeing it come down but once it's here the optimal number of days is two.  two snow days & then i'm over it.  you see, the seattle area does NOT do snow well... it snows, it's fun, then it freezes & then we all get to hang out under a sheet of ice until it thaws.  lame!

it started snowing saturday night... it's so pretty when it snows here!  and it totally brings the excited kid out of you watching it come down.  parker thought seeing our car covered in snow was hilarious.  first thing sunday morning sam went out to shovel the driveway & parker immediately asked for his snow boots to go out with him.

once elliot saw sam & parker out there, he ran & grabbed his boots & squawked for the door {sidenote: elliot doesn't say a ton of words... he kinda just squawks.  this is a whole other post, ha!}.  so what was supposed to be sam shoveling the driveway for five minutes turned into one snowman, two snow angels, a walk around the neighborhood & a whole lotta nearly frozen fingers & toes later.

good times.

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