Having it All, For a Moment

Did you guys see this wonderful opinion piece about having it all last September in The Sunday NY Times? I was just lucky enough to uncover it recently- I admit to reading an embarrassingly low amount of news! 20140119-012230.jpg

It completely resonated with me, particularly, as we embark on this new year with our lofty goals and resolutions. You see, I've spent a lot of time in my head thinking about what it means to have it all. As I was deciding to move from part-time to full-time work last summer, the idea of having it all became an even louder conversation in my head and in our home. To "have it all" should mean a full time career that I love and am good at, a perfectly organized and clean home, a well- balanced, home cooked meal eaten around a table by all members of the family...at the same time, a child who is happy and attends a good preschool, a husband who feels cared for and loved, and enough time to get in enough exercise, right?! And, when I saw someone through their blog, on Instagram, or in "real" life that seemed to have it all (see above criteria), it made me crazy when I felt I couldn't accomplish the same.

But, you know, having it all, as Delia Ephron so perfectly explains it in the opinion piece, does not, or should not, mean what we think of it meaning- the accomplishment of a perfect career, marriage, children, in that order. Instead, having it all should better be defined as a moment, or moments if you're lucky, when what you have is exactly what you want. Having it all can mean that your football team makes it to the National Championship game (or Super Bowl) or that you woke up (well rested) before your child and enjoyed your first cup of coffee while reading in the morning's peace and quiet or that you perfected a homemade cocktail or that you enjoyed a delicious dinner...or, when you have found profound peace with the one you love (For now, I can claim this one!...and, while it may be fleeting as we can't well anticipate life's curve balls, I'm holding on with clenched fists to this amazing feeling and thanking my lucky stars that the one I love loves me back in the same way!).

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I want to have many "having it all" moments this year, but I'm under no impression, and certainly hope I don't give that impression to you, that my life is all about having it all. It's a journey of ups and downs, but when you have exactly that thing you want at that exact right time, it sure feels awesome...kind of like having it all.

* Top photo taken at Pensacola Beach, December 2012. Bottom photo taken at Alki Beach, Seattle, October 2013.

A Photo of Jack: 3/52

20140119-124617.jpg Jack and his best gal, Johanna, at the Caspar BabyPants and Seattle Symphony play the Beatles concert on Saturday. These two sure do share some love, and it makes my heart swell with happiness each time I see it.

Thank you, Phil, for taking the kids and for allowing me to share this photo on this space.

First Hike of 2014: Twin Falls, North Bend, WA

20140111-042804.jpg A few weekends back, we took our first hike of the year- Twin Falls. It was the first official hike that Jack did all by himself (no carrying required) and it was kind of a tricky walk in the woods- steep in some spots, icy mud where the trees gave a lot of shade, and 3 miles long. Even Miss Sadie made the hike with us...but, she suffered from the exercise later on in the week when she had a sprain in her right shoulder which made getting around a big challenge for her- poor old girl.

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Despite a few bouts of whining from Jack that he was tired, I think we all had a lot of fun. It felt so good to be outside, taking big breaths of crisp and fresh Pacific Northwest air, and enjoying each other and the day away from distractions.

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Already excited to do our next one and so happy that I have made this a priority of ours this year!

A Personal Dialect Map

Have you guys taken this dialect quiz published in the NY Times a few weeks back? Boy, I was pretty surprised by my own personal dialect map (shown below), particularly that the cities my dialect is most common to are Lubbock, Texas (?!), Amarillo, Texas (?!), and Little Rock, Arkansas!!! I've never even been to Texas and only spent a few days in Little Rock, which was quite a fun time but I can't say I identified with place....Hmmm. 20140112-031707.jpg

I took the quiz a second time the following night (which had some different questions so its worth a retake) and got the following results:

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Turns out my southeastern upbringing shines through despite my current Pacific Northwest locale. And, Little Rock shows up again...I'm so intrigued by this! David also is a true southerner it turns out...he identified most with Shreveport, Louisiana, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi.

The questions are interesting...I've never even heard of some of the words and phrases that people in our own country use! Would love to hear what location of the country your dialect most closely fits!

Bits and Pieces of our Holiday Season

We had quite a fun holiday season despite the distance between ourselves and most of our family. It's difficult to keep up with picture posting when you are in the thick of the season, so I just recently went back through our photos to pick out the highlights to share with you. 20140112-032745.jpg

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We spent Thanksgiving Day in Tacoma with our dear close family, Laura (David's sister) and Gray. The day was cold, but gorgeous, and we even spent a little time along the Ruskin Way waterfront playing and enjoying the sunset before our delicious dinner meal.

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Laura took this photo of the 3 of us and we ended up choosing it for our Christmas card this year. Loved the color and the slight spotting of Mt. Rainier in the background.

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We have been to the same tree lot each year since moving here to pick out our tree. I keep thinking we would have fun going to an actual tree farm to cut it down, but this year with the shortened time between Thanksgiving and Christmas we didn't have any time to fit in that type of outing. We still had fun and our tree was a perfect fit for our ornaments.

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Jack and I also had a lot of eating, I mean building, fun with his first gingerbread house. We also made Christmas cookies and ate our fair share of other holiday treats!

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We had fun with our Christmas pups- our own whom we torture every year with the silly antlers- and Laura and Gray's new puppy, Whidbey, who shared our holiday.

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Christmas Day was a blast with Jack's infectious joy and wonderment! We snuck in a quick photo in the early morning hours before we descended our stairs to see if a special one paid a visit! Jack loved all of his new toys (He was very much into figurines for pretend play this year and I think he collected about 45 new ones on Christmas morning!); he was entertained and fully involved in his imagination all day long- he didn't even change out of his new Christmas pjs!

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Finally, we rang in the New Year (East Coast time- one of the many benefits of living on the West Coast, especially when you have young children, is that things happen earlier on the other coast so we can just jump right in with the celebrating!) with this fun group of radiology co-residents and their families.

Beginning on New Year's Day, I made a commitment to myself to live more in the moment, to stop worrying about future days that may seem bleak or difficult, and to just enjoy the here and now or to focus on getting through the difficult issue when it's actually happening. I know this is terribly cliche, but I have to tell you, it's really working! And, it's completely life changing! I just hope I can keep up with this type of focus and presence as the year unfolds.

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So, I will leave you with this last photo taken on New Year's Day at a rad little spot we found in Queen Anne - Citizen Coffee. It nicely captures the description of my new attitude- just close your eyes when you need to shut out the bad stuff (like having to wait for your crepe lunch) and the next moment will likely be a better one (like when your apple and pear crepe is delivered and drenched with caramel sauce and whip cream)!

A Photo of Jack: 2/52

20140111-044604.jpg David's cousin Molly posted a sweet photo of David at about age 4 with his brother and two cousins on Facebook this week. Here is Jack holding the photo on my iPad showing off how much of a look alike he is! It's pretty stunning really. And, I kind of thought he looked like me...maybe not.

Goodbye, PawPaw

20140108-090340.jpg We will surely miss you and that infectious smile of yours that made your eyes twinkle and your whole face glow with warmth and cheer. I feel so lucky that our little Jack had the privilege of knowing you- many memories from his early years that you are part of like holidays spent in Pensacola, his first birthday party, his first trip to Auburn to celebrate the 2011 National Championship team, and your 90th birthday party.

I hope you are somewhere enjoying your birthday cake and good food while catching up with all of the family and friends you've had to say goodbye to.

Your spirit will always be part of our family. We love you, PawPaw!

Slow Cooker Dinner: Chicken and Four Bean Chili

20140107-091044.jpg Well, hello. Did you think I had completely forgotten what I use to do over here on these pages? That I no longer remembered how wonderful it is to share food with all of you? That I forgot how to type out a recipe?

Well, almost. It was back in March of 2013, after all, when I shared my last recipe- rustic blueberry biscuits! What??!!! And, while I'm not quite certain how much it's actually going to happen, here's a start to the return of recipe sharing. This one...it's a good one too. Yummy and simple- the adjectives that I hope you use to describe the food I share here.

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Chicken and Four Bean Chili

Ingredients 4 cups chicken broth 1 can black eyed peas 1 can black beans 1 can kidney beans 1 can cannellini beans 1 can tomato sauce 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce 1 1/2 tsp dried basil 1 tsp dried thyme 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt 1 tsp black pepper 1/2 tsp red chili flakes 1 medium onion 5 garlic cloves 2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)

Open all 4 cans of beans, pour into a colander, and rinse under cold water. Dump the beans along with the chicken broth, tomato sauce, spices, onion, and garlic into your slow cooker. Stir to combine.

Place chicken breasts on top of bean mixture. Cook on low heat setting for 8 hours.

When cooking is complete, shred the chicken with a fork and stir into chili. Top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and serve over quinoa or brown rice, or alone aside some tortilla chips or a crusty sourdough bread.

Happy New Year, Friends!

20140101-044817.jpg I do love a fresh new start. It's the closest thing we have to a blank slate. Because, really, there's no way to erase everything...to completely begin anew. And, despite the things that have happened to us or around us, the things that we do wish we could take back or make disappear, all of those things make up the intricate and complicated landscape of who we are. So, if we were actually able to take the bad away, we would run the risk of taking away the good too. We wouldn't want that, right?

Fresh starts provide me with a little respite from the motion of my life so that I can step back and refocus...refocus on living better, healthier, cleaner, and with more grace. To find some greater clarity to create more of those good, memorable moments.

I'm not sure what this says about me, but when I started talking to David about my resolutions and goals for 2014, they were nearly identical to the goals I set for myself last year!

Here is a brief list of what I hope 2014 brings to my life:

Near daily family walks

A monthly Farmers Market Visit

A monthly date night- we already have some good ones planned(!!!) and I'm excited and committed to indulge in the best dates of our life this year!

A memory jar to collect random thoughts throughout the year to read out loud to each other on New Year's Eve (completely failed at this one last year!)

More playtime

A family exercise morning each weekend

More hikes

More patience, understanding, and flexibility

Greater joy in each of the small wonderful things

And, of course, more moments on this blog. I'm recommitting to a weekly photo of Jack this year and adding a monthly family photo (January's is already done! Yay!).

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I hope for a wonderful 2014 for us all! It's going to be a good year, maybe the best, I can feel it! xxo

PS These photos were taken at Kerry Park in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle on New Year's morning. We have gone to this overlook park each New Year's Day for the past three years- it's our little tradition. Our 2012 photos are here; look how small Jack was!

Happy Happy Four!

20131103-015404.jpg We have had so much fun celebrating you as you turned FOUR!

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Not surprisingly, you awoke early with anticipation and excitement on your birthday morning and were surprised to see a pile of presents awaiting you on the table! Just as a sign of you getting bigger, we have you your first snowboard for your birthday! I'm so excited to watch you snowboard this winter with Dada! After opening the gifts, we celebrated with sprinkle pancakes and blew out your first birthday candle.

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I was lucky enough to have the day of your birthday off of work, so I had a special lunch with you at school and then we shared your birth story and pictures of your life with your friends at circle. You got to walk around the circle with a globe while friends said "The earth moves around the sun...12 months...52 weeks...365 days. That makes one whole year." It was quite wonderful to see how much enthusiasm your friends had in celebrating you! On your birthday night, we went to one of your favorite restaurants for dinner, Phinney Market, and you chose creme brûlée for our special dessert.

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Then, we had a birthday party! You invited 9 friends to our house to watch Monsters Inc. and to eat pizza and cups of dirt. It made my heart happy watching you have such a fun time!

Oh, little man...where to begin? You are FOUR! Such a big boy now. Yet, in so many ways, your personality has stayed true to its younger self. You are quite opinionated and extremely passionate about your wants and needs. You never have trouble telling us when you don't agree with what's happening by saying (emphatically), "that's NOT a good idea!" And, sometimes, during these emphatically passionate moments, you hurt my feelings and I have to take a million deep breaths and remember that in a few minutes you will be giving me your sweet kisses and rubbing my face in that way that only you do.

You love watching movies and looking at pictures of movie characters on our iPads. Our new bedtime routine involves watching two short movie clips or looking at pictures and then snuggling you and rubbing your back. You like to say, "come cuddle me," which melts my heart.

You continue to love stories and I think you might be just as good as mama and daddy at telling them. You pace (or run) back and forth across the floor talking just as fast as your mouth will allow you to, letting your imagination run wild.

Some of the great things you say: Do you want to see how high I can jump?

Did I like to do that when I was a little baby?

Just one more. No, mama, just one. Please, just one. You're not listening to me!

For real life.

Hunting is bad, right? They kill animals, so hunters are bad guys.

What the heck?

Ain't nobody got time for that.

Poppins Mary (for Mary Poppins)

Can we go look for some jewels?

I wish I could go in the sewer.

Oh, lord Jesus, there's a fiare. (fire)

When we have a baby, I will give her a bath and feed her in the middle of the night. And, when she grows up to be a big girl, I'll help coach her baseball team with you and Daddy.

Mama, I have to tell you something. (Then a shared whisper)

Regaly (regularly)

Chempicals (chemicals)

Let's hide from Dada.

I'm continuing the tradition I started last year by asking you this set of questions on your birthday...it was surprising to see the similarities in some of the answers one year later!

1. What is your favorite color? Green 2. What is your favorite toy? Sully and Mike from Monsters Inc. 3. What is your favorite fruit? Apples 4. What is your favorite thing to watch on TV? Beauty and the Beast and Monsters Inc. 5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Salami 6. What is your favorite thing to wear? Mike (Monsters Inc) clothes (He has this on his wish list for Christmas) 7. What is your favorite game? Puzzles 8. What is your favorite snack? Cherries 9. What is your favorite animal? Giraffes 10. What is your favorite song? Beauty and the Beast soundtrack 11. What is your favorite book? Lorax 12. Who is your best friend? Preston and Hanna 13. What is your favorite cereal? Gorilla Munch 14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? play on the playground 15. What is your favorite drink? Apple cider 16. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas 17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Dinosaurs 18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Pancakes 19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? Oranges 20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Superman!

Past year's birthday posts...look at how Jack has changed! one! two! and more two! three! more three!

A Weekend Spent with Family: Cle Elum, Woodinville, and Seattle

20131015-081543.jpg It's difficult to find words to describe the elation and comfort of being surrounded by family. There's even greater elation and, thus, a greater challenge in describing the feeling, when surrounded by said family whom normally reside over 2400 miles away!

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We felt lucky. I know that much for sure. Spending our weekend in a beautiful cabin rented by Dad in Cle Elum, playing at Suncadia Resort's Harvest Festival, running through the mountain trails, soaking in the sunshine and the views, and enjoying drinks and good times.

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I love each of these people. So happy that I can call them mine...and, over the moon that they came to visit! Thank you Aunt Diane, Uncle Wayne, Martha, Jessica, Mom, and Dad for a fantastic Autumn weekend!

Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine of Fifty-Two

"A photo of Jack once a week, every week, for one year." I've been taking photos, yet not sharing them here in any sort of timely way. Trying to find my way back to this space. Life gets busy!

20130902-024448.jpg Jack: Speeding down the big slide at Dolores Park, Mission District, San Francisco.

20130902-024927.jpg Jack: Face painting on Aquarium school Field Trip with Dada.

20130902-025121.jpg Jack: Playing bad guys with his bestie at Redhook Brewery.

20130902-025204.jpg Jack: Kissing his balloon Minion at the Portland Saturday Market.

Four and Five of Fifty-Two

"A photo of Jack once a week, every week, for one year."

20130806-084709.jpgJack: He has a major sweet tooth (and his parents wrapped around his fingers) so he gets to eat things like Sponge Bob Popsicles with gum ball eyes!

"A photo of Jack once a week, every week, for one year."

20130806-085020.jpg Jack: Love is sharing your juice.