where does summer go?!

not that i'm complaining - heat and humidity are my two least favorite types of weather - but summers go faster each year. it's crazy.

one minute it's the last day of school ...

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and the next 90 days stretch before us like taffy, sticky and stretching longer the more we try to reach the end. then suddenly the days on the calendar are filled with events and camps and swimming and life, and the summer flies by.

every year, i tell you.

this year has been no exception. we just finished the first week of freedom that we've had since june. it was lovely and restful, but also included things like summer homework and dentist appointments and weeding the garden ... things that haven't fit into the schedule until now.

 

 

june

 

school ended, marc took off for a week in boston, and harp and her bff had picnics and bug hunts ...

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while henry and his guys hung out with a buddy who would be moving away by the end of the month.

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and then, two weeks into summer break, we headed to new england.

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the kids and i flew out to meet marc on friday. he was waiting at the airport with a rental car, then we grabbed our luggage and pointed to the seaport for a lobster roll and a summer stroll along the water.

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saturday, we made a list of the boston things we haven't done before, and set out to mark them off. first stop was the skywalk observatory at the prudential building. 360 degree views of my favorite city.

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(someday one of those brownstones will be mine. that's the dream, anyway.)

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(selfies.)

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(henry had to pretend to play because his podium wasn't working. he still kicked butt.)

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then we walked to the christian science monitor center so i could finally, finally see the maparium, which has been on my to do list for, like, eight years and every trip to boston. click on the link; photos weren't allowed in the maparium, but it was amazing. so cool. even the kids were wowed.

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(one of the country's largest pipe organs)

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we walked around a little more, got our favorite sushi, etc.

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sunday morning was rainy and cold ... perfect day to head to maine.

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we kept an eye on the weather and decided to take the scenic route. and by scenic route i mean spend the day in salem, mass.

first was lunch ... and a meltdown from miss harper, which is typical of a meal with harper.

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then we got passes to three museums - the witch dungeon museum, witch history museum, and pirate museum. the museums were very interesting ... little, and more than a tad cheesy, but also sad. the whole history of salem left me feeling horrified and outraged by how cruel people can be when they are so narrow-minded and led by fear.

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then we just wandered salem. very cool little town: brick streets, lovely homes, dunkin' donuts. and we found a stick installation from artist patrick dougherty.

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from salem, we drove the rest of the way to maine, checked into our hotel, then headed out to find some lobster and clam chowder.

monday morning was beautiful, and we had tickets for a whale watching trip out of boothbay harbor.

when i was pregnant with henry, marc and i took a vacation to maine and absolutely fell in love with the coast. it was so nice to be back among the quirky, sweet villages full of saltbox houses and fishing boats, and see a town we hadn't visited the last time. boothbay is charming and touristy and wonderful.

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the whale watch boat ride was after lunch, so i told the kids to not eat anything too heavy or greasy. hindsight: i should have picked up some dramamine somewhere.

the boat trip started off great ... it was windy and cold on deck, but the view was beautiful.

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once we got out of sight of the shore, though, the water became rougher, and the swells tossed the boat around more. harper wanted to give up on standing on deck and go below to sit down. for an hour, i watched her turn more and more green around the gills. another hour, and henry was below deck with us, also green. and below deck was where there was no fresh air, so the smell of boat fuel was stronger, which triggers marc's migraines, so he stayed above deck. to recap: two hours of bouncing and rolling with two kids who were on the verge of puking, while marc was up top. super fun family activity.

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but then: whales!

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it took longer than expected to find them - and we had to go about five miles farther out - but there were mama and baby finback. henry didn't want to get up, but harper was feeling a bit stronger, so we watched from the lower deck (just in case) while henry stayed in the warm, stuffy, smelly comfort of the table, sipping a ginger ale. luckily, he managed to see the whales through the window, so it wasn't a total lost cause for him.

the ride back was, thankfully, better. smoother, and tummies were more settled.

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once on land, everyone started to feel better. ice cream cones made all the difference.

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we spent a little more time exploring boothbay, finding the perfect souvenirs, having what was hands-down the best meal of our entire trip at the boathouse bistro ... a tapas bar, where marc discovered a blackened grilled shrimp with spicy honeydew gazpacho that he loved so much that he ordered two more.

the next day, tuesday, was all about lake winnipesaukee in new hampshire. i was really hoping to bump into bob wiley ... we could have gone sailing.

 we didn't find bob. but we did sail. or ... boat. we boated. we're boaters.

marc's aunt and uncle's boat is on lake winnipesaukee, and luckily they were staying on the boat while we were in the area. it was such a fun day, and the kids had a blast.

and the lake ... oh, my ... such a beautiful place. water, trees, mountains ... just breathtaking.

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the whole day was relaxing and wonderful.

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just blissful.

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after a perfect day, a yummy dinner, and a glorious night cruise, we headed back to the hotel.

the next day, we decided to detour through concord on our way back to boston. we took the kids to the concord museum to learn more about the town's role in the revolutionary war and the transcendentalist movement.

what else we learned? paul revere apparently looked like jack black.

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(ralph waldo emerson's study)

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(henry and his namesake, henry david thoreau)

after the concord museum, we took harper to the louisa may alcott museum. we've been reading "little women", so it was so fun to show her the house that inspired the story, and the rooms of the sisters who inspired jo and amy and beth and meg.

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(i may have sneaked a photo of louisa's writing desk. bad girl, i know, but what can you do.)

we also walked past emerson's house ...

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and then emerson's grandfather's house.

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the grandfather who had a first-person view of the start of the revolutionary war.

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the kids were troopers through this whole trip. we aren't exactly "let's go on vacation to relax" people; if there's something interesting to do or see or learn, that's where we go and that's what we do. i wanted the kids to experience where history and literature and philosophy happened, so that when they learn about it in school, it will feel more relatable and real to them. for the most part, they were curious and attentive about it all, and we had some great conversations.

it got too hot to keep wandering concord, though (we'll take them to sleepy hollow cemetery next time), so we drove back into boston, where we had a lovely hotel in cambridge and ate some yummy sushi ...

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which henry said looked like "sushi dipped in crushed cheetos", and the next day we flew home.

such a whirlwind, but totally worth it. it was a perfect trip.

and then it was

 

 

july

 

july was pretty much all swimming, all the time.

there was, though, the one day when marc drove a lamborghini.

i had gotten him a slot at a driving day for christmas, and it was finally time to cash it in.

the car wasn't exactly roomy for a big guy, but he didn't care. he had the. best. time. three laps around an agility course. the only downside was that he couldn't go as fast as he would have liked.

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but once that fun day was over ... all swimming. all the time. like, a meet every weekend plus two mid-week meets.

crazy.

but the kids did awesome and ended the season with some major wins.

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and one of the meets was an invitational, so the kids swam at the same time and were able to cheer each other on. which, of course, delighted harper.

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harper ended the season with best times, and a great position for making it to the finals meet when fall season rolls around.

henry swam a full roster of events at the minnesota regional finals meet, but struggled with the heat during the three-day outdoor meet. he dropped some of his times, though, and was the 50m free champ with a state-cut time.

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which meant the following week was four days of state - prelims in the morning, finals in the afternoon. he swam five relays and the 50 free ... he just missed the top eight in the 50, but he and his relay teams medaled in four of the five relays - an 8th, 7th, 4th, and a 1st place state champ finish.

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kinda fun that he's now a state champ in relays two summers in a row :)

i know he was disappointed that he didn't do better individually, but he still has one more year - and two more state meets - in the 15-16 age group, so he's going to do awesome next time. he's so close.

concurrently with all the swimming, harper also attended three camps: one was a "girls in science" camp at the zoo, the second was to lean how to create fashions and fabrics using technology (for which a picture of the back of her was in the newspaper, and she was interviewed for the article, so she's convinced that now she's famous), and the third was to learn how to sew, at the end of which she and her other campmates gave a fashion show to debut the lovely dresses they made.

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also during this time of swimming and camps (july was beyond insane), henry took driver's ed. i was doing really well not freaking out, then on the first day, henry got out of my car and there was one of his best friends ... the little boy who came up to henry on the first day of first grade, introduced himself, shook henry's hand, then said, "i think we should be friends" ... and off they went to drivers ed together. gah! heart!! tears!!

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and now we have to sign him up for the behind the wheel stuff. and - as luck would have it - he has wheels.

back in may, marc took the man car in for some work and some mods. yadda yadda yadda  ... he finally got his car back three days ago. so in the meantime, rather than throw money away with a rental, we went ahead and got a third car. cuz we were going to need one anyway for henry to drive.

so now we have a cute little safe, reliable suburu in the driveway.

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also, in the middle of all the camps and swimming and drivers ed and car buying, we got to spend three days with my sister and her family. they were driving back to indiana from fargo, and we just happen to be on that route.

their first day here, we found their personal heaven:

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i've never seen so much candy in my life.

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(seriously ... chicken & waffles salt water taffy?! chicken & waffles seems like a bad idea in and of itself, but to make it into salt water taffy?? that's just irresponsible.)

we let the kids run off their sugar high in the sprinklers ...

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(i don't know what this face is, but i totally recognize it.)

and also the park.

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(seriously ... nora's faces ... )

and i got to be the aunt who introduces her niece and nephew to a hilarious video of a corgi twerking; a video they watched about 500 times. (go search for corgi bubble butt twerk on youtube. you're welcome.)

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i won Aunt Of The Week with that one.

we also braved mall of america so wyatt could experience legoland ... a trek that about pushed my sister and i into claustrophobic, apoplectic wrecks from the sheer magnitude of humanity in the hallways.

but legoland was a hit, and then there was sushi.

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then they had to go home. [sad face]

and ... what else ... oh: we got a king-size bed after nearly 19 years of marriage and cover-stealing (marc) and knee-and-elbow wars (also marc) ...

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our garden is churning out monster zucchini ...

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i had to have a spot on my face biopsied ...

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and now it's august.

hoping for a month of breathing room before the summer is over and we re-enter the school-swimming-craziness routine. the kids head to indiana for some time with the grandparents later this month while marc and i go really crazy and ... clean out his office. should be awesome. and henry starts his first job on wednesday: teaching swimming lessons. i have a feeling our "breathing room" will be not so roomy, but we'll take it.


putting it together

i was talking with a friend the other day, and she was lamenting not knowing where to start on redecorating her family room. she was hooked on a particular color, but didn't know where to go from there. i told her that could be a really frustrating way to go about it. she asked why. so i put on my "what if i was a designer" hat, and we had a chat.

i told her that for me, i always start with something i love and work out from there. a piece of furniture ... a fabric ... art ... those are way better things to work a room around than a specific color. colors can be so unforgiving, especially if you don't take into consideration undertones and how they change throughout the day.

(disclaimer: i DID create our entire front room around a color, because i had the room painted when we built, with no real plan in place beyond that. if you build it, he will come, right? it all turned out okay on that one ... i'll tell you about that some other time.)

anyway, after our conversation, i decided to create a room (just, you know, like you do.) for fun, to illustrate:

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i started with the hypothetical floor plan of a den. my first stop for inspiration was a wonderful auction website: invaluable.com. i searched for furniture, art, collectibles, until the right thing popped out at me to get the ball rolling. it soon did, in the form of an awesome mid-century herman miller sofa and warner bros. animation prints.

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from those two things, i knew the style direction - retro modern-ish, and the color palette - black, orange, green.

i could immediately envision a gallery collection of the warner bros. prints framed in black and arranged above the black sofa. but then what?

the room needed wallpaper:

HW_TP010_Knots_Gray_Roll_webcute, right? but i thought it might overwhelm the room if it was on all four walls, so the wallpaper, prints, and sofa would be on the back wall of the room, across from the windows. the other three walls would be a lovely benjamin moore color: nightfall. it's gray-black with a green undertone. because the accent colors for the room are green and orange, i have a feeling nightfall could be great if the room got either cooler north-facing light or warmer south-facing light coming in the windows. but, like i told my friend, painting samples on the walls and checking how they change throughout the day is the best way to go. i once painted a room a minty green - it was perfect with the bedding and other things in the room, but the lighting of the room totally killed the color. i didn't do a sample, and regretted it.

the next thing the room needed was additional seating, and i wanted something in a warmer tone, to play with the orange in the palette. these leather equestrian chairs would be lovely.

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even though the room has four windows, it also needs light. and pendants with orange enameled shades hung from the ceiling and angled toward the sofa would be so very cool. of course, they would need a longer rod, but in pretend world that's no problem!

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the room would need a little orange on the opposite wall to balance, so an orange ceramic garden stool as an accent surface is perfect. but a bigger side table would be needed between the two chairs, so this gold leaf and marble one is just lovely.

W9552_04the marble tabletop - and white tabletops on the sofa - influenced the wet bar area of the room. the counter top would be a white quartz marble-like surface - simple and clean, which perfectly balances the amazingly gorgeous mosaic tile on the back wall of the wet bar nook.

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i mean, hello, right? and there's your green and orange! serendipity! had i not found the sofa and art first, i might have planned something around this tile alone. a brass faucet, and this little area is done.

however, in the floor plan, there is a little nook next to the wet bar which is a perfect place for an antique cabinet, also found on invaluable, that will serve as storage for liquor and glasses and cocktail mixing stuff.

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finishing touches to warm up the room are a natural fiber rug, a black table lamp, white roman shades accented with black trim, some simple accent pillows and a bright green throw, and a modern-yet-rustic coffee table. a few terrariums, some art books, etc., would finish the space.

and it would be groovy and fun.

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in the end, my friend said she was going to spend some time figuring out what she wants in the room before finalizing the color. so far she has a really great pillow that is making her wheels turn ...

 

special thanks to invaluable.com, for having such a great selection of amazing stuff. inspiration for days!!

 

resources:

wallpaper: hygge & west

paint color: benjamin moore

couch: invaluable

chairs: schoolhouse electric

rug: serena & lily

coffee table: ray banchand

wet bar tile: ravenna

wet bar faucet: waterstone fulton

wet bar counter: caesarstone

cabinet: invaluable

side table: wisteria

stool: wisteria

table lamp: restoration hardware

pendant lights: rejuvenation

pillows: etsy

roman blinds: etsy

blanket: schoolhouse electric

art: invaluable


opening up to the universe

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as we get closer to the mid-point of the year, i'm realizing that this has been a hard one on me. i'm exhausted. i feel beat down. depression that i've controlled and kept in its cage for a dozen years has tried desperately to escape and chase me down. i've let go of relationships that do nothing but hurt me, and have tried to be mindful to nurture the ones that build me up. i've also learned to become more vocal about my needs and concerns, and advocate for my own well-being and desires alongside everything i do for everyone else.

now that i am in my 40s and have one child who is getting ready to leave the nest in the next few years, it has started to sink in that i have no idea what is next. 20 years ago, i had it all planned out. super organized, hyper-focused, type-a ... i had a goal and by god i was going to get to it.

and then i didn't.

i can't tell you where i went off the rails, but somehow i started to put the needs of others ahead of my own - my husband's career and ambitions, my kids' schedules, etc. ... everything else seemed to need my attention more urgently than anything i wanted. and suddenly, it's 20 years later, my husband is a success, my kids are great, and i'm left looking at the rest of my life and wondering, "now what?"

it all came to a head a few weeks ago. marc and i were having our typical bi-annual "disagreement", and - bless his heart - he was trying his best to be a help and be supportive. but the problem was, he didn't know what needed to be helped or supported, so i heard his words as patronizing and clueless. which, of course, didn't help anything.

and i heard myself saying the words, "sometimes i just want out."

in all honesty: i don't. i don't want out. i love my husband, i love my kids, and i love my life. however, i am not IN any of it. i am stage crew, in the black shirt, invisible in the dark yet maneuvering all of the ropes and props that makes those on stage look flawless. and i sit there in the darkness, going through the checklist of all the things i do well, and think, "what the hell?? why am i doing nothing with the talents i've been given? i'm in my 40s and have nothing to show for it."

yes, i have a lovely family and a lovely home and i can make a kick-ass pot roast. and if that was all i'd wanted for my life, then that would have been great. but it isn't. i wanted more.

somehow, my subconscious figured it out before i did, and in the middle of sobbing, i confessed to marc, "this isn't who i was supposed to be."

turns out, it's not that i want "out" of my life ... i want "in".

i'm not a 1950s housewife. i never relished the idea of being a stay-home mom, whose day revolved around my children. deep down, i know i am capable of more, and have just never done it out of fear that putting myself first would look bad. or that i might be good at something and would then have to sustain that. my life hasn't been full of successes or praise, so i think i'm genuinely confused by it and scared of it when it happens. so i don't let it happen very often, and don't offer up my best for fear that it will raise expectations that i am bound to dash. and then i'll be right back where i started, only more disappointed.

there are times when i wish i could start over, make different choices, follow a different path. but i can't. instead, i need to find inspiration in fearless women like julia child, who was nearly 40 when she said, "you know what? i'm gonna go to cooking school."

there is a lot of maneuvering that would need to take place in my life in order for me to pursue anything - marc still travels, we still have no family nearby to help out with the kids, henry doesn't yet drive, there is still school and transportation and swimming and meals, et cetera, to work around. and much of that is why i haven't done anything for or with myself. i don't want the kids to get the short end of the stick when there are so few years left with them. i know many families in which both parents work and yet they manage to coordinate the kids' schedules. however, in most cases, either they have family nearby, and/or they are both home in time for activities. if marc is in dallas or san diego or boston, he can't by home by 5:00 to be part of the swimming/meal/homework/bedtime conveyor belt.

which is the wall i beat my head against every time. there are hours in my day when i could do something, but i haven't figured out what to do when that "something" butts up against all of the roadblocks in my way. and in his desire to help, marc suggests, "i'm sure there is something you could do for a few hours a day, something that would reconnect you with adults." but it has nothing to do with being with adults; i don't need to be with adults. truthfully, i don't need to be with people. and i don't want a job for "something to do"; i want something to do with my life. that's different than part-time at starbucks.

or maybe i just learn to let go of the frustration and discontentment, and make peace with the fact that in this lifetime, i didn't get to be what i thought i might be. i'll get to my late 40s and find a hobby instead of a career. play the cards in my hand instead of reshuffling. but then i wind up at the end of my life wondering why i didn't do more with it when i had the chance.

i know where my passions lie, the trick is figuring out what to do with them, and how to get over the hurdle that i have placed in front of myself, the one that says, "if you don't do it the right way then you are a fake, a poseur." i've been so convinced my entire life that action requires education and preparation, but maybe that isn't the case? i read this post today and it screamed at me in the way that only a serendipitous message from the universe can.

i just need to do. where i am, with what a i have.

stop putting off, stop feeling unworthy, stop feeling unprepared.

just DO.

if it's meant to be, a way will show itself, right?

the inertia needs to be replaced by excitement and possibility, and that will all start when i stop being afraid to say, "this is what i want and this is what i need."

i'm an adult; i've earned the right to stand up for myself and make the rest of my life what i want it to be. and i need to take ownership over the skills i have, work hard to teach myself what i need to know better, and put myself out there. because the universe may speak to me, but if i keep it to myself, then i have only myself to blame.


a 'tween room: rough draft

harper is in her last full week of fourth grade, which means she is thisclose to leaving "little girl" behind and jumping into "'tweenhood." right on cue, she's asking for a more grown-up room.

the daybed that she's had since she was three ... the bed that has been her comfort zone, the one she refused to give up after we moved ... is now "too small", and she's ready to update everything. no more pink. no more toys. (except for littlest pet shop ... those aren't going anywhere.) no more "girly" room. she is now old enough to have an opinion, and she's confidently putting that opinion out there to make it happen.

we were talking about colors the other day, and she really wants gray and dark blue and aqua and yellow. i can totally get behind those. then we were flipping through some catalogs and scrolling through pinterest and came across a few things that she's put on her "THIS! THIS! THIS!" list.

her first big request: the cole & sons birch tree wallpaper.

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i love it as much as she does - i've actually had it pinned for more than a year - and love that i can get a removable version from amazon. might be a good way to have the look without anything being semi-permanent and twice as expensive. we like the above idea: a chair rail and deeper wall color below the trees. i also like the idea of doing the paper on one wall, and color on the other three ... i'm finding myself inspired by this room right now:

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a third thought: wallpaper on the lower portion of the wall, and add a shelf for art above her bed.

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we already have some great prints in her room of wolves and foxes and peacocks, so this might be a fun option. it would also work great with ...

her second request: robert allen folkland fabric in aquatint. we saw this fabric on a headboard in the land of nod catalog, and harp loved it. the colors are right, and the animals are adorable (and she is SO the animal girl).Full-french-seam-headboard-folkland-aquatint

the fabric immediately reaffirmed her color palette:

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i have an old desk that i'm in the process of stripping and refinishing for her room, and now that we have a direction, we're trying to figure out what color to paint it. i'm pulling for the yellow, she's leaning toward the darker blue.

we'll keep her white ikea dresser and likely the bookshelves, so the other big pieces are set. since she's ready to move up to a bigger bed, bedding will also need to be purchased.

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| west elm| Nyponros-duvet-cover-and-pillowcase-s-gray__0287090_PE318870_S4| ikea |

the big question is whether to get the headboard in the fabric she likes, or get a chair in folkland for her desk instead, and have some pillows made with the fabric, and make or buy a different headboard. that way she isn't tied to the animal fabric when she's older.

we're obviously still mulling.

but now we have a good direction to go in, and i have a feeling this will be the summer of the bedroom ... marc and i just ordered a new bed (after nearly 19 years, we will finally have a king-size bed. no more getting jabbed by his elbows and feet in the middle of the night!), we'll be doing a big shuffle of guest room stuff once that bed comes, and we might as well put harp's room on the list, too. (i asked henry if he wants to do anything different with his room while we're at it. he answered, "why?" ... such a boy.)

as far as summer projects go, i can get behind these ideas one-hundred percent.


trader joe's hack

so, you know that thing where people buy a standard-issue ikea item, then they take it home and go all "outside of the box" on it? and hack it into something amazing?

i did that. but with trader joe's.

my friend tj has these simple little soup bowl mixes. kind of like ramen, but with less msg and shorter noodles.

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i saw these and my brain instantly had this soup idea. so i bought six, along with some other ingredients, and set about making actual soup out of instant soup.

verdict? uh-mazing. and even better on day two, which almost NEVER happens with a noodle soup.

so, here's what you need:

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trader joe's hacked spring onion soup

- 4 pkg spring onion soup bowls (i used six and we had enough leftover for probably 2-3 more servings. so four packages would probably feed four people sufficiently. but keep in mind: better on day two!)

- 4 baby bok choy - trimmed and chopped into smaller pieces

- about a pound of snow peas, sliced into smaller pieces

- 1 onion, diced

- 1 pint of small button mushrooms, sliced

- 3-4 chicken breasts

- 1.5 tb tamari (or soy sauce. or aminos. whatever you prefer.)

- 1/4 tsp ground ginger

- 1/4 tsp garlic

(i used dried garlic and ginger, but next time will use the fresh stuff.)

 

1. the soup packages require about 2 c water each, so get 8 cups of water - along with the spice and oil packets from the packages - boiling in a pot.

2. cut up the chicken into small pieces and cook in a hot wok or pot with some olive oil until done. set aside.

3. in the chicken pot, saute the diced up onion for a few minutes in another tablespoon or so of olive oil. (if using fresh garlic and ginger, i would add these to the pan at this time, too.) once the onions start to soften, add the rest of the veggies. saute until tender, then add the chicken back to the pan. then add the tamari. (if using dried garlic and ginger, mix it into the tamari before adding it to the pan)

4. while the veggies are cooking, add the rice noodles to the boiling, seasoned water. cook for 3-4 mins, until the noodles are ready.

5. add the veggies and chicken to the noodle pot, and let it all warm up and mingle for a few minutes. then serve.

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the tamari, garlic, and ginger can be adjusted according to taste. also, the soup packages come with these little hot oil packets ... i used half, because harper is not a fan of the hot oil thing. marc and henry each added another packet to their own bowls. we also put sriracha in our bowls, but harp did not.

and that's it. such a yummy ad hoc soup.

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and - i repeat - better on day two.

go forth and hack away.


living the dream

i was sent a copy of "love the home you have" by melissa michaels, who is behind the blog the inspired room, and have been both devouring it and savoring it, if it's possible to do both. i read a chapter with eagerness, then realize at the end of it that i really want to read it again and take notes. so i do. and i'm going to share some of those notes and thoughts over time, but in the opening pages of her book, this little sentiment drew me in and hooked me, for there are no truer words that describe my relationship and mindset with regards to architecture, design, and the feeling you get when you drive through certain cities and neighborhoods:

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when marc and i discuss our "dream" houses, he says he would love to be in something ultra-modern: all concrete and glass and exposed steel and wood. sleek, clutter-free, and technologically superior to the average house. then he asks if i could live in such a house and i say, "sure ... maybe ..."

because the truth is, i want to live in about five different houses.

i want the 100-year-old farmhouse, with beautiful old trees, a split rail fence, overgrown lilac bushes, and a squeaky screen door. windows with glass so old that it's waviness distorts the view. a wide cast iron sink in the kitchen. a deep front porch. a tree swing in the front yard.

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but i also want the beautiful old home in the charming small town, with a lovely staircase, leaded glass windows, tall rooms. woodwork that recalls the days when skill mattered. a pedestal sink. period fixtures. a small but charming lot, and walking distance to the adorable town, where i know the name of the bookstore owner, the coffee shop guy, the baker who knows harper prefers bavarian cream donuts while henry prefers glazed.

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or maybe by "charming small town" i mean "nantucket." and i will ride my bike to the local market for lobstahs. and keep a jar on a shelf in the kitchen for seashells and sea glass that i find on my walks on the beach.

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then again, a lake cottage would be lovely. a small, cozy spot with a beautiful view and lots of trees. where i can drink my morning coffee in a kayak, and sit by the fire in the evening. maybe some exposed beams, a screen porch, bedrooms tucked under angled ceilings of the roofline.

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and i can understand marc's attraction to "modern", because there is a certain draw to streamlined simplicity. and if all the windows look at something lovely, and the exposed metal is dark and industrial, and the exposed wood is warm and reclaimed, with life still in it instead of stripped down and shiny, i could see the attraction. as long as the house isn't something that looks like an office building or a sci-fi movie set.

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and then there's that part of me that would embrace the industrial, urban aesthetic wholeheartedly if it was in an urban setting ... like a warehouse loft. preferably in boston.

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although i'm pretty sure my boston plans include a beacon hill brownstone.

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the thing is, i just love houses. and really, location means as much to me - if not more - than the house. because while a dream house is just wood and glass and nails, a dream "home" is the whole package. and truthfully, any home can be transformed into something beautiful, but a crummy location cannot.

on mother's day, i took my family for a walk through one of my favorite areas of minneapolis - a neighborhood near lake harriet. walking through those streets of old homes and large trees always makes me happy. i loved our years in our bungalow, but always wished that it had been a little closer to the lake and on the quieter, lovelier (ie more expensive) side of the highway. the homes are mostly well-kept, and the yards full of beautiful flowers. there is obvious pride of ownership. and every now and then, when we would see one that had seen better days, i would exclaim, "i'll love you!! just let me have you!"

okay: i love my house. we built as close to a perfect house as we could, given constraints of the location and budget at the time. and i really do "love the home i have". however, the location is - while great right now for the kids - not where we want to be. it's too neighborhood-y to be our long-term happy place. we want more age, history. maybe something prettier to look at than a park and the backside of our neighbors' houses. and while i would love to go back to minneapolis, i know we would be equally satisfied somewhere else. we never feel tied to any one place.

i don't know if that's good or bad.

but if our kids stay here, i think we would be happy to stay here, too. but head closer to lake harriet.

because it's lovely.

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we toss around new ideas all the time: the coast of oregon, boston, maine, minneapolis, italy (okay ... maybe that one is just me). and every time we talk about a different place, i get a different vision of what we'll live in. i am undaunted by the idea of fixing up something to be just what we want. loving the home you have is easy with a little patience and creativity. but what makes it a home is loving the life it gives you. and for me, that's more about the "where" than the "what."


imaginary presents

so, mother's day is coming. again. didn't we just have one of those? i mean, seriously ... moms are celebrated all the friggin' time. enough already ... i don't need any more appreciation showered upon me or offers from others to clean the house for a change, or the family giving me quiet time in my own home without interruption or someone needing a ride somewhere. it's too much! show someone else how much you care for a change!

oh, wait ...

so in honor of the imaginary love-and-gratitudefest that motherhood is, i've put together an imaginary list of things i would love to receive for mother's day:

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because all good days start with coffee.

 

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because "zen" and "coloring book" in the same sentence is a win.

 

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because i love my purse, but it doesn't close at the top. and every time it falls over, all my stuff falls out. that's getting annoying. and we all know what happens when little annoying things happen throughout mama's day and just keep piling up and piling up ...

 

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because my husband knows my love for jadeite and my obsession with bowls, so this one seems like a no-brainer, right?

 

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because, bill murray.

 

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because it is mother's day, after all.

 

truth be told, some sweet handmade cards (that were made with a little time and thought, not made in a rush on sunday morning because no one reminded the kids until then that they needed to have a card for me. not that i'm speaking from previous experience or anything.), lunch at a place i want to go to, a walk around the lake, cooperative and happy picture-taking-time of the kids, and a bouquet of pretty flowers (the ones i like, not the ones marc thinks i like because he actually likes them ahemliliesahem) would suffice, as long as everyone is happy and gets along.

and then leaves me alone with a book for the afternoon.

happy mother's day, friends.


i almost have something to share

i'm finally doing some things on the house front. spring has lit a fire under me, and i'm ready to finish some projects.

one that's been looming for the past 18 months is the master bathroom.

there's this nook where the toilet is ...

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and after we moved in, i found this photo on pinterest and got totally inspired:

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the nook needed shelves.

so nearly two years ago, i found these groovy brackets at anthropologie:

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i had this great idea to put them inside the nook to create a sort of arch with the shelves. it was going to be super cute.

and then ...

nothing. finding a time to buy wood, cut and sand, prime and paint, hang ... turns out, that's the hardest part of home projects.

and, ta-da!! the reason i'm not a home blogger.

but the shelves are finally up ...

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and now i'm tweaking and fluffing the pretty stuff. i'll get a pic of that up for you soon!

(maybe.)


warning: mom gushing ahead

the past four months have gone by so quickly that i didn't mention henry's high school swim season at all. well, one quick mention at christmastime, but that was it.

he has enjoyed high school swimming so much over the past two years, but this year it was officially High School Season because he is now, officially, in high school. he truly felt more like one of the guys, and even found that many of them forgot he was only 14 because he's been competing with them for the past two years, and competed at the varsity level with them for much of that time.

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this year i got texts from him like, "the team is going for breakfast after practice. i have a ride," "austin is giving me a ride to the pasta dinner," "i'm going to stay and hang out longer. i'll let you know when i'm ready."

not gonna lie: those texts threw me for a loop. my baby? "catching rides" with the guys? that's a hard, hard thing to accept when it comes at you the first time. however, i had to let him. it's time. now, we did have a bit of a disagreement when he asked why he had to ride the activity bus to practice after school instead of riding with The Guys, but we had our reasons. safety, obviously (being a winter sport, i was a little paranoid about teen boys and winter driving), but we also don't want him to be completely wrapped up in the upperclassmen group and forget to keep in touch with the younger (ie his age) swimmers. at some point, these upperclassmen will graduate and he needs to still have that connection with the kids his age. and, in true henry fashion, he said that he understood, and okay ... he'd ride the bus.

(have i mentioned how much i love this kid? zero push-back ever.)

in the pool, however, he was with the Big Guys. he would train daily in the fastest lanes, with the fastest guys. he was exhausted, to be sure, but he said he was keeping up and loving the challenge. he felt proud that his coaches were recognizing he could swim at that level, and was determined to prove he belonged there.

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and he so belonged there. if he didn't truly believe it at the beginning of the season, he knew it by the end.

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he was 110% determined to make letter times this season, since he was so stinkin' close last year. he actually got a letter time in the 50 free last season, but got it in a relay so it didn't count. which made him crazy.

first meet of the high school season, he not only got a letter time in his 50 free, but also in the 100 free. and he was pumped.

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for the rest of the season, he continued to drop time in his 50 and 100 free. and his 100 back, which has been kind of stalled for awhile, also improved, and he finally broke the elusive 1:00 mark. and earned a letter time in that, as well. and then the 200 free, which he never liked swimming ... he swam that at a meet and boom: another letter time.

he was so pumped. best part - two of his buddies on the team swim the same events he does, and they tend to go back and forth with each other, always on the others' toes. it was so fun to watch them gather immediately after a race to hug and congratulate whomever happened to finish before the other that week.

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his team and coaches had a successful season. one of their big meets is True Team Sectional - a preview of sectional, and only the top four swimmers in each event participate. lakers won again this year.

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and henry made it to True Team State at the U in all of his events ... and got his best times at that meet.

 

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the guys lost only one home meet through the season, won True Team Sectional, and then went on to win their sectional, as well.

henry earned spots in sectional finals in the medley relay, 50 free, and 100 back. after prelims, his relay's time was two seconds off of a state cut time, and his 50 free time was .75 off of state cut ... even better, his 50 free time from the relay was only .10 off a state cut time. he was feeling super positive heading into finals.

the medley relay is the first event of a meet, and his team swam their hearts out. each of the swimmers stepped up and dropped time, and at the end of the race, the laker team was less than a second from state time. they just missed it. heartbreaking, but they were all so proud of themselves. and henry? henry swam the freestyle leg and dropped time on his 50 free again ... :21.9. state cut time in the 50 free? :22.11. he was beyond excited.

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unfortunately, when the 50 free finals came around, he just couldn't get the same momentum going. he ended up placing seventh overall (which, hello ... seventh place his freshman year? not too shabby.), with a time of :22.98. he was disappointed, but one thing about henry: he is always philosophical. he told us later, "well, i got the time in the relay. now i know i can do it next year."

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(also in the back of his mind for next year? at last year's end-of-season banquet, henry's coach compared him to another swimmer on the team, saying that he went from a "nobody" to a break-out swimmer that season. and this year? that kid won the 50 free and the 100 free at sectional, and got a new school record in the 50. his time? half a second faster than henry's best time. and of the top 16 swimmers in this year's state finals in the 50 free, 11 of them are seniors.

henry is quietly gearing up.)

but back to sectional.

after the 50 free, he then swam the 100 back. he had just barely broken 1:00 during prelims, and in finals, he went down another half a second. he finally broke the 1:00 curse, and again placed 7th overall.

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i think we were a little sad and a little relieved at the same time that the season was over. it's amazing how quickly three months can go.

henry was asked to be an alternate for state, but he was exhausted and declined. since then, he's been enjoying a month of swim-free afternoons and weekends. he takes only two months off a year from the pool, and is very serious about having those two months. next week he starts back up with club, and this weekend he will start a 14-week clinic, lead by a former-olympic swimmer katrina radke, and her former-olympic coach husband. he will tweak his skills, learn techniques for stretching, flexibility, strength training, learn more about the psychological component of racing.

i spoke with katrina when i was signing up henry for the clinic, and she asked me about his best events and times. i told her, and she said, "whoa ... he's already there at 15? we'll get him prepared to go :20 or even :19 in the coming years, and he'll be under :50 in the 100 free by next high school season, for sure." when i told henry about her confidence in him, he got a big goofy grin and said, "that's the plan."

his focus is set, and the target is locked. and i'm excited to see where he goes from here.

(footnote: at the banquet the other night, all the swimmers got a book of the team's accomplishments and times. henry is the current record holder for time swum by a freshman in a 50 free in a relay. he was a little shocked by that, especially when he saw the names of the guys under him. and he is ranked on the all time top 20 list in the 50 free (20th) and 100 back (15th). so proud of this little guy. oh - and he got that letter jacket.)

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huh.

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so ... did you all know that easter is this weekend? am i the last person to be aware of this?

just checking.

in other news: i shall be taking harper shopping for nice shoes this week.

carry on.