15 January 2015

just stopping by….

I swear I was never going to be one of those people….you know the ones that have a blog but never update it.  Never write, or call home (ha).  But truly, I know with two kids life gets busier but man time truly does fly by and I cannot believe its been 6 months since I posted on here.  I had grand plans after my Paris trip of posting our trip in detail and my thoughts on our first big getaway after 2 kids.  Got two days into that and never completed it.  Lets just say life gets busy and not always in dramatic or concrete ways….just the regular business of life.  Two kids, two dogs, managing a house and helping my husband with his business all while trying to do a few things for myself keeps me pretty darn busy.  We transitioned our business from a sole prop to an LLC which may not seem like a lot to anyone reading this but it means a lot of paperwork and a lot of double paperwork in the crossover time.  For the first time last year we hired employees for Abe's business which was a huge learning curve and made for a lot more paperwork to keep track of.  I took a Spanish class last fall for fun and after 2 years finally returned to the gym lifting weights!  This has been a personal goal of mine since I was promoted at work and didn't have time to work out.  It feels so good to be back and have some time to myself to just get my body healthy.  The holidays have already come and gone, Miss Elodie turned 2 (I really should post that here….maybe soon) and 2015 has come flying into the present.  While I haven't made any new years resolutions per say, I have set a few goals for myself.  1: make one apple pie a month from my new apple pie cook book (January was an apple/raspberry pie) (I'm scheming on the apple pie with bread pudding recipe for February); 2: eat 30 days vegetarian for the month of January….try to eat more vegetables and just lay off the meat for a bit…..I like this small chunks goal thing, perhaps I will choose something for February but that will remain to be seen.  In general I feel mentally tired at the end of the day so I often flop onto the couch and watch some boob tube with my hubby snuggled under a blanket until we fall asleep.  More on life, random thoughts and hopefully updating my blog more often :)

Hoping this new year is off to a good start for you friends.

Just a quick flashback here to 2 years ago (when Miss Elodie was a few days old and Aven was still 2)….see, I told you time flies!!

04 July 2014

paris (day 2)

Adventuring in a new city can be intimidating especially when you don't know the language and the city itself is so darn big!  Paris is divided up into Arrondissments (divisions) starting in the center of the city at 1e and going in a spiral out to the outer parts of the city.  We were staying in Monmartre, the 18e.  I like to leave room for flexibility and for discovery along the way and not have such a strict schedule that I don't feel free to drop into a cafe along the way, browse the shops or add something to my itinerary.  This can be a great way to travel and leaves a lot of room for having a relaxing trip.  It can also result in eating at mediocre restaurants for too much money since you didn't do that thorough research or falling victim to your own lack of planning….I thought I'd planned and narrowed things down but once we really got there and I sat on my bed overlooking the vast city I was overcome with just how many things there are to do; how many things I wanted to do in the city and just what I should do.  I'd been here before and done the museum pass and the tourist highlights but I wanted to get a bit more off the beaten path and see more of how the Parisians live and enjoy their city.

Planning and truly trusting my guide book would have been a good place to start as it mentioned that June gets about as much rain as the other months of the year.  When I told this to my husband while packing, he shrugged off the idea and ditched the rain coat/gear.  So I did the same (even though I'd read the guide book).  I wanted to pack lightly and needed a practical "warmer" coat and a "cute" coat for fancier evenings but it just seemed excessive to pack three coats so I skipped it.

And wouldn't you know the second day as we determined to do a self-guided walking tour of our neighborhood a torrential several hour rain storm hit.  Voila!  Luckily our apartment had an umbrella and we purchased a second at a nearby shop for a few Euro after realizing on the narrow sidewalks it was difficult to walk to people side by side without getting wet or running into a passerby.

Our day started with an adventurous walk to the grocery store.  It probably seems so mundane but there are all kinds of interesting things in just the ordinary when you are in a new place.  We browsed and picked up a few staples for the apartment (like toilet paper, they offered scented toilet paper: wow!).  And after regrouping, we set out on our walking tour.

View of rainy Paris from our room, love all the little terra cotta chimneys with little crinkled aluminum caps.

Typical Parisian (or W. European) front door.  Doorknobs are in the center, always very tall double doors and often with some sort of ornate decoration around the entryway.

Saint Jean de Monmartre Church.
First stop along our walking tour of Monmartre, a wonderfully unique church architecturally (one of the first to use reinforced concrete) although relatively new compared to many of the churches in Paris.  Such lovely arches and design that are mirrored throughout the balcony, window designs and embedded in pulpit, etc.

Two story carousel at the base of the Sacre Cour.  A lot of neat places to sit not just the traditional horses.  I don't know why but I love carousels and carousel/organ music.

Fountains below the Sacre Cour

Sacre Cour
Interesting how the church seems to look different depending on when you see it throughout the day and what type of weather is reflected in the sky.  Lit up at night it looks heavenly and can be seen throughout the city.  Reflected in the dark rain clouds of the day it seems gloomy and even a bit medieval.

Maison de Maurice Neumont, French Lithographer and Artist (1868-1930)
Love these art deco/art nouveau doors that look like either spider webs, moth wings or even eyes looking out at the world.  Notice the peephole as it is a little door with a spider web covering it.  I love all the attention to detail that older buildings often have.  Just taking your time walking and looking around, you notice all sorts of little gems like this.

Au Lapin AgileAlthough mostly a tourist attraction (still in operation though) this Cabaret house doesn't look much different than it did when famous (but then struggling artists) such as Picasso and Utrillo hung out here at the turn of the century.  Built in the 1850's it has gone through a series of names finally resting on the current due to the painting of the Rabbit on the exterior (au Lapin).

La Refuge (18e)
After our walking tour, we stopped at the bottom of the hill for a little snack and finally a break in the rain at La Refuge.  Roasted Camembert Cheese with Honey and salad and Ensalata with Pesto and of course coffee for me, beer for Abe and fresh baguette.

A wandering through the neighborhood revealed all sorts of specialty shops from deli's to Fromageries (cheese shops) and Boulangeries, the Bier Cave (mostly Belgian and imported beers) and book shops.  It was a relaxed browsing as we watched locals sniff and walk and gather their goods.

I'll be honest, I totally respect the amazing process of the cheese makers and all the many many different kinds of chess offered in France but the smell of the shop was a bit musty for my taste.  All kinds of "moldy" authentic cheese and we had no idea where to even start to ask questions so instead we just looked and smelled.
Boulangerie Alexi
All that walking worked up an appetite and I'm never one to turn down a fresh made pastry, especially if it is a fresh made Flan.

Sometimes when all else fails and you get exhausted and intimidated reading through your guidebooks for the "perfect" restaurant, you realize you are hungry and a Pizza will likely do.  The food was decent but the service was great, friendly and just like pretty much any other time we were there we dined outside on the patio people watching and chatting

Walking home after dinner.  It always involved lots of steps but it felt great to always walk after a meal and enjoy the sounds of the city and feel the cool night air.

28 June 2014

paris….after 15 years (day 1 recap)

Le Beau Paris, Day 1:
Taking off from Seattle for our 15th Anniversary Trip.  Alone for 9 whole days without kids.  The dream begins!

First stop after getting off the plane and catching the bus to downtown Paris.  A cafe for coffee and pastry.  Perfection.

Our studio apartment.  Nothing fancy but a perfect place to lay our heads and call home base for a week in Paris.   
Lovely view out our 5th floor studio apartment window and plenty of sunshine.
View of the Sacre Cour (Church of the Sacred Heart) in Monmartre (18e).  This beautiful landmark was only 1 block from our apartment.

Dinner the first night at a lovely little Togolese restaurant called Le Mono.  Eating out in a foreign country is always an adventure especially when encountering new foods and attempting to translate your desires into a foreign language.  The restaurant staff here were extremely friendly and spoke plenty of English.  Our food seemed authentic and was quite tasty.  A nice place to eat for the first night.  We left full.

One of only 3 metro stops in the city that still have the glass roof along with this amazing art deco design.  This stop was at Abesses in Monmartre and where we stopped to go to our apartment every day.  The stop was pretty far down underground and had a warning before you climbed the steps…..181 in total.  Needless to say every time we came up, it was a good workout!   

Nearby park below the Sacre Cour had these neatly designed steps that were shaped/looked like logs/wood steps.  The afternoon of our first day we just sat at a bench right below these steps and people watched and read our book in the afternoon sun.  Lovely.

Street Sign by our apartment.

View out our apartment window at the end of a first beautiful day.  Bienvenue a Paris.

elodie *18 months*

Oh little miss "e" how you are growing too fast.  It seems like only yesterday it was last summer and you were laying on the blanket in the back yard cooing and staring quietly up at the blue sky.  Now you run, you scream, you have opinions, you feed yourself and climb up on everything, you love books and babies and snuggles and snacks.

You've been on this planet twice as long as you spent in the womb and it is such a pleasure to watch you grow and change and develop into your own unique being.  Here are some updates on what you've been doing lately.

  • Talking: you are catching onto new words and intonations all the time.  Currently these are the words you know and use regularly: apple, bubble, push (for the swing), up, no, uh-uh, Eleanor, Dada, Mama, wawa (water), pza (pizza), chs (cheese), ouch, mouth, nose, Ethel, ba (for book or bird), shs (shoes), more, ma (for binky), bus.  It seems like you are good at repeating the sounds of words back to us if we say them to you.  We were walking home yesterday and you were pointing at everything, I said "red car, blue truck" and then you made the sounds like you were trying to figure out how to say them.  You love to sing and make sounds and "talk" all the time now especially when you are not being overshadowed by your older sister :)  When you don't use words you still point a lot to communicate and then nod affirmatively or shake your head or say no.  It works pretty well to get your message across.  In addition, although you seemed more go with the flow than Aven ever was as a little one, you have finally realized that you need to speak up for yourself to get your desires met and sometimes that is met with a firm "no" and a funny pinched up face or a high pitched (Daddy calls it sonic) scream.
  • Eating: you are such a funny little girl about your food and you seem to like mostly carbs…a few fruits and plenty of dairy.  You would eat cereal, pancakes or crackers all day if I let you along with yogurt, cheese and milk.  You like apples without skin, frozen blueberries, strawberries and bananas sometimes and the rest is hit or miss.  Sometimes you surprise me and like something totally random like pesto crepe or red lentil curry.  You are totally weaned as of 16 1/2 months….it was a natural process and it seems like it was so long ago that you nursed.
  • Independence: like many second children you like to play with your big sister and other children but I am glad that you seem to like to play by yourself and be able to entertain yourself.  The other day you probably spent about 20 minutes just taking water from the pool in the backyard and watering the plants around the perimeter.  
  • Activities: You like to move things from place to place and you love to have something in each hand whether a book or a toy or some random object.  You love playing with dolls and will carry them around (although you have no interest in stuffed animals). you are really starting to love books and music.  This seemed to take awhile to grow on you and really captivate you but now you will often say "boo"  "boo" (meaning book) and bring them to Daddy or I and ask us to read them to you.  And when you're in the mood, you'll patiently sit on our lap and listen to us read.  You love music and are starting to "sing" to yourself while you are playing, riding in the stroller or on a drive in the car.  You love when we have "dance parties" as a family and you love to move your little body and hands with the music.
  • Sleeping: oh you were finally doing so well after almost a year and a half you were almost always successfully sleeping through the night….and then we left you for our trip to Europe.  Who knows if that was the impetus to change things and its only been a week and a half since we got back but you've had a hard time settling down to go to sleep at night, you've been resistant and hit or miss on naps and you've been waking up at night.  But I'm sure, this too shall pass.  I feel much more tired then when Aven was a baby but then I am also juggling two kids and you've kept yourself from sleeping through the night for much longer.  I'm sure that when you are older I'll miss the times that I just held you in the middle of the night snuggling your warm body.
still our snuggly girl 
It is truly a blessing to be able to watch your little healthy body grow and to see you interacting and discovering the world around you.  I only hope that I am molding you into the best version of yourself you can be.  I (we) love you so much little one.

03 June 2014

Elodie 17/18 months

{A look of sweet silliness and cleverness}
Oh Miss "E" you continue to capture our hearts and delight our spirits as you learn and grow and become more and more a part of our family.  Daddy always says what a sweet disposition you have, and I couldn't agree more.  Today at the park Aven scraped her wrist and being the sensitive girl she was she came running over to me, held back the tears until she was in my arms and burst into sobs.  You took the wet wipe you had in your hands and gently tried to wipe the tears away from her face and the snot from her nose.  It was seriously the sweetest thing ever.  And a few weeks ago when you were upset about something, she gently reached over and patted your back when you were sitting next to each other.  You unashamedly snuggle into me and have no problem being picked up or carried just to be close to your people.

I can hardly believe my baby is almost a year and a half (18 months) and it seems like this last year and a half have gone so quickly.  I know I always say this but it is true how fast time flies and how hard it is  to slow down and really capture each day and to cherish every moment.

Some milestones to recap the last few months:

  • you started walking and now you practically run with confidence!
  • you started talking and though you don't say much boy do you understand a lot and you certainly have an opinion about even more!
  • you (finally and thankfully) started sleeping through the night
  • you have started to stay in the nursery at church during service (this may not seem like a victory but it is so nice to be able to receive and listen to the sermon)
  • you stopped nursing (May 7th) at about 16 1/2 months….a little bittersweet but it was a gentle transition and needed to happen before we went on our trip so it was perfect timing
{Always something in each hand if possible}
Here is a more detailed summary of where you are at on things.  It is so interesting to have two kids and each girls and see how different and similar they are and how their personalities are developing and how their relationships are growing.

  • Talking: I would say that you "started" talking at about 15 months with just Mama and you've progressed to a short list.  So far, you consistently say the following: Dada, Mama, Eleanor, Ethel, More (boor), Pizza (Pza), Cheese (Chs), Shoes (shs), Uh-oh, No, Bubbles (bubb), book/bird (ba/ba).  You are finally getting more "talkative" whether humming to yourself, chattering while playing or just generally making happy noises.  You do have a loud older sister so I can understand being overshadowed but its nice to hear your little voice too.
  • Eating: you are just about the opposite of Aven when it comes to eating, at this age she would eat beans and rice and any berry if nothing else…..you won't touch black beans and you don't eat much beans, rice or quesidilla….and so far you don't care for any berries unless a strawberry slice strikes your mood.  You are queen of the carbs whether cereal, pretzel, toast, pancakes, waffles, pasta or what have you.  You love diary especially cheese, milk and yogurt and you've finally decided (I'm surprised it took so long) that you love ice cream too!
  • {Unfortunately you spent half the month with a black eye}
  • Play: you love babies and it is so sweet to see you carrying them around, patting their backs and wrapping them up or asking to have them wrapped up (again and again).  Aven didn't even get a baby doll toy until she was 2 so it is so sweet to see you really playing with them now.  You like to do repetitive tasks like move objects around or even from place to place and back again.  You like to put things inside of other things like stacking objects or just using the play kitchen dishes to put food or other objects inside.  You are so much more adventurous than Aven too (not that it is a comparison but its interesting to watch!).  You like to climb things and then stand and smile….you are a bit mischievous.  You have started to really latch onto reading books and it is so cute to see you find a book and bring it to Daddy or I and ask for us to read it.  You pat the couch for us to lift you up and read or you put the book in our lap and signal for us to pick you up.  While I can't trust to leave you unsupervised with crayons or other writing materials, you really like to "scribble" and draw.  You have a pretty good hold of a writing utensil and the ability to actually control it as well.  You have no interest so far in stuffed animals, puzzles or TV (although we don't really let you watch).  You love slides at the park and moderately the swings although after a few minutes you'll often say: "all done."  You like to walk back and forth on the walkways outside to Daddy's shop.  And you get into all sorts of silly things if we don't keep an eye on you: the toilet paper, the trash, the dirty clothes, etc.  You are doing a nice job of learning to play by yourself, parallel play with Aven and actually playing with her (mostly being goofy).  You like music and will move your body if the mood hits you.  You like to play with the musical interments and if I let you touch/play the big piano you are actually quite controlled and gentle and have an interest in playing.
My sweet girl, it is so fun to see you growing, to see you laugh and giggle, to feel your warm breath when you are nuzzled into my neck and to hear your little words and sounds developing.  It is an honor to be your mother, to love you and to nurture you and I am so thankful for you.  Happy 1 1/2 years my little miss "e."

{Happy, toothy grin}

{Mommas girl, happiest when along for the ride}

{So sweet to finally see you bonding with Dada}

{Bates girls: Aven 4, Mom 34 and Elodie 17 mos}

27 April 2014

Aven Turns 4

It is truly incredible to me that my little baby girl, the girl that made me a mama is now four.  Not that four is "old" per say but that my life as I had known it has so dramatically changed and shifted in the last four years.  These years have been packed with so many memories, photos, emotions, moments, laughter, frustrations, joy, silliness, amazement and wonder.  When I think of all of these things, four years seems like a lifetime, 1460 days you've been in my life my little flower girl, 35,040 hours that we've spent living in this house together as a family, 2,102, 400 minutes of life.  A full robust and pulsing life.

You are your own little person.  My wild, strong willed, independent, intelligent, outgoing little flower child.  It is a pleasure getting to watch you grow and change and to see you begin to understand God, life, nature, language, beauty, technology, and math.  It is amazing the way you observe, ask questions, use your senses to their fullest, incorporate new information and generally expand your knowledge as you grow.  Here is (to no perfect end) a summary of where you are at on all things Aven.

  • Your favorite things: sweets (treats), dutch baby pancakes with lemon and "sugar powder," candy, chocolate, your dollies and babies, your blankets, books and reading and dance parties, spending time with your friends, walking and lounging outside, snuggling with Daddy to watch cartoons, visiting the library, pizza, ice cream, dresses and twirling skirts, using your imagination, beans & rice, cereal, peanut butter, organizing objects, animals, being a mama.
  • You are learning about: letter recognition, picture stories (yellow book curriculum), shapes, drawing/writing your letters, counting your numbers (up from 30+), addition, baking, dinosaurs, ecosystems, Jesus' death on the cross and his resurrection, God's unconditional love for us, plants, making safe choices, how to be a big sister, consequences, some Spanish words and phrases and the world around you!
  • You amaze me: today you said: "Mama, five plus three plus two is 10."  You picked up on the word "distinctive" when we were reading book about Mangroves.  You asked for crepes for dinner for your fourth birthday.  You reached out your hand (yesterday) to a perfect stranger (the age of your great grandmother) and asked: "what is your name?"  When the stranger replied she put her soft hand down and grabbed yours and relied with the same question and you smiled, held her hand and said your own name.  You stopped eating your breakfast today, got up from the table and shook your hips back and forth to the music.  You love to dance!  You are not afraid of talking or meeting anyone or going anywhere.  You are so outgoing, not shy and not afraid of new situations.  It is so refreshing.  You seem to love, above all things, books.  To you, being spoiled would probably be getting read books to all day and then getting an ice cream cone.  You amaze me that we took a road trip totaling about 650 miles and you only wanted to use your leap pad for about 20 minutes total!  You have a fantastic memory for details ands stories.
    My little sweet tooth, first Easter egg hung at home.

    Her hands are looking so big.

    Learning about drawing people.  She's gone from scribbles to shapes in a matter of months.  It is so neat to see her skills progressing and really blossoming.

    She's ex-static :)

    Daddy's girl, loves adventure and always sporting her dress or skirt.

    My little girl, you challenge me, amaze me and surprise me every day.  I love you more than I ever thought I could and I am so honored and thankful to be your Mama.  We love you, my big girl.  Happy 4 sweet pea.

27 March 2014

she walks and talks **miss elodie**

Well, I am declaring today March 27, 2014, the day that Elodie started walking.  She has taken upwards of 3-4 steps the last week or so but today was the day she was doing it all on her own.  Gosh it was so cute!  She would hold a baby or a toy and she would walk back and forth to the kitchen and Aven's room.  Then when Aven was having her quiet time, and Elodie finally had some quiet time to herself, she started really practicing.  She was going back and forth from the kitchen to the living room and back.  Ever so quietly and nondescript.  It was so cute to see her tottering and making her way around and carrying a little dolly or toy at the same time.  Of course she still is crawling to get from here to there but its only a matter of time before she's off and running.

I supposed I'll go ahead and declare today the day that Miss Elodie started talking too.  She has slowly said a few sounds these past few weeks but today she really implemented the "all done."  She chit chats and makes sounds and grunts and points and uses some hand gestures but today she kept saying "all done" when looking in her dish from dinner.  She said "all done" after I nursed her and offered her more!  She also clearly said "dada" this morning before Abe went to work.  Now, I won't lie that I wish it were me (she does babble Mamam, mamma sometimes but mostly when she's upset) but it is still so exciting to hear actual words come from her.

 Miss Elodie is officially 15 months old and really starting to shine.  Her little gap toothed smile and sweet demeanor is so affectionate.  She loves to squeal and be silly with her sister and she is really fairly good at manipulating objects like blocks and puzzles and toys that go in and out.  She has much more inclination and interest in these sort of activities than Aven did at that age.  Elodie still likes her dairy and carbs and is only now starting to eat some fruits that aren't pureed.  She still likes her pureed baby foods of sweet potatoes and bananas/strawberries.  She loves yogurt and fruit smoothies and she is  starting to like peanut butter too.  She doesn't care much for any vegetables and not for many raw fruits.  She is really starting to take to her toys and dolls and books.  It is so neat to see.  Also, she was baptized at FPC this last Sunday.

As always, it is a pleasure to watch this little sweet pea growing and changing.  We do love her so.