Wednesday, October 1, 2014

kenzie's first birthday party!


We had some friends over for brunch on Saturday morning to celebrate kenzie's first birthday!  We had a yogurt bar, donuts, and a few egg casseroles...and just sort of hung out talking and eating for a few hours.  It was fun and casual and felt like the perfect way to celebrate a year of life with kenz.  Kenzie didn't really know what was going on, but she did get to eat a sprinkle-covered donut, so the party was a success in her book!  We were sad our families couldn't be here to celebrate (Chicago...must you be so far away?), but we are so thankful for the friends who have become like family to us, and the ways they love our little girl.  We feel super blessed.  

And now we have a one-year-old!  I was telling Dave after the party...I feel like all of my thoughts and energy have gone into each milestone up until the first year, and now I am like, wait, what now? So any one-year-old advice or secrets are welcome!


Friday, September 26, 2014

12 months//1 year



Today McKenzie is twelve months.  ONE YEAR OLD. I'll save the cliches of how did this happen? and where did my baby go?, but how did it? and where did she?

There is a small part of me that IS sad.  The first year has been such a roller coaster, and I feel like that is the perfect analogy for me because I mostly LOVE roller coasters but every once in a while, atop a huge hill, I scream WAIT I WANT TO GET OFF I CHANGE MY MIND!  And then it is over and I jump right back in line for more because what an amazing thrill!  Pretty much sums up motherhood. 

But most of me is actually doing okay with this growing-up-time-flies stuff.  I have loved each new stage more than the last, and I am confident that will continue to be the case.  I am so excited for the next year.  A year from now she will be walking! (let's hope, dear lord) and talking! and pulling her weight around here! (I kid I kid......)

So here is my twelve month daughter, bullet pointed just the way I like it:

+she LOVES any Frozen music video.  A friend said the other day, "Frozen is like cocaine for children" and I have never heard truer words.  If I even utter the words "frozen" she stops everything and starts smiling and laughing like a crazy person.  Sometimes when she is fussing we just say The Word.  Is that manipulation?  Eh, I'm alright with that.

+She loves her "Old McDonald" book, which is your classic old mcdonald nursery rhyme but with GLITTERY ANIMALS.  Who thinks of these things, I don't know.  Plus, mama and daddy sing the song in harmonies and with the occasional opera outburst, so I can see why the kid comes back for more.

+Her other drug-of-choice is cheese.  I try to space out her cheese consumption throughout the day, but sometimes it is simply out of my control.  The child loves the cheese.  Specifically mild cheddar, but she will settle for Parmesan when things are getting desperate.

+Her nana and papa gave her a baby doll for her birthday, and she mistreats the poor thing bad but in the most loving way.  She holds it and hugs it and then slams it on the ground.  The doll really doesn't know what she signed up for here, but its too late to go back.

+Her favorite recreational activity is pulling all of daddy's CDs down off the shelf, which is conveniently right at her level.  Naturally, this upsets david and he tells me on the daily to tell her no, but I am all, THEY ARE ON HER LEVEL AND SHE IS ADORABLE SO MY HANDS ARE TIED.

+She has a lot of interest in our dog Amber and sometimes musters up the confidence to crawl over and grab her tail, but then Amber starts licking her face and becomes completely overwhelming to a one year old, and she remembers why she likes to keep her distance.  But sometimes I hold kenz on Amber's back and let her ride around and it makes me feel like my life is finally complete.

+She loves swinging at the park and baths and tickles on her neck and peek-a-boo and crawl-chasing each other around the apartment  (its like a slow-mo chase scene from an action movie, but it ends in tickles, so not exactly).  She is such a happy and content girl and has been since the beginning.  She is an observer, quiet when meeting new people, but warms up quickly and loves meeting other babies.

+Honestly, we continue to feel like we have completely lucked out in the baby department.  She has her moments, as we all do, but she has made us feel (most days) like we are doing alright with this whole parenting gig.  We can't wait to see what another year of life brings for kenz and for our family!

And now, a few photos from a little one-year session I did with her the other day.  How did I get her to smile? By saying "Frozen!" and "Cheese!" over and over, of course ;)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

church

For those of you interested (hi mom!), david and I are currently helping to start a new church in our community.  We are really excited about the vision and group of people involved.  It lines up with the passions God has given us as a family, and we are excited to see the ways God uses this new church over the years to come.  Here is a video with a bit about it...


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

scaling back


I've been thinking a lot about social media and the potential hold it has in my life.  A few days ago david share a video with me, and it has been on my mind since then.  Here it is, if you are interested:


It certainly isn't arguing that all social media is detrimental, but it definitely makes you think about ways social media has infiltrated areas of our lives that we didn't consciously allow.  I have learned (the hard way) that I am someone that needs to be careful around social media.  I really enjoy it and find so much inspiration and community in blogs/instagram/pinterest...but only to a point.  Then it starts to become detrimental.  A few years ago I tried out twitter for a bit, but I literally started thinking in witty 140-character lines, that it started driving me crazy.  I had to stop.  I also got rid of facebook shortly before kenz was born because I was jumping on almost subconsciously when I was using the computer.  Surprisingly, I really haven't missed it.  These days I blog, use instagram, and peruse pinterest.  These are three social media outlets that I have found that, when used correctly, are great creative outlets for me.
In an attempt to simplify and scale-back, I wrote down a list of concerns I have about social media in my life:

+it gives me the disillusionment that my life is more important than it actually is
+it prohibits me from living in the moment
+it forces me to compare my life to others
+it wastes time, which in turn stunts creativity

These aren't always the case, and if they were, I would stop using social media all together.  But I do see the value it adds to my life and the way it connects me with others.  So I decided to set a few social media goals for myself:

+weed out the accounts I follow on instagram
+check instagram once a day
+pick my top ten favorite blogs to read and eliminate the rest
+stop checking david's facebook for my facebook fix
+weed out people I follow on pinterest
+clean up my pinterest pins so they are more usable
+no social media on Sundays

I've already tackled a few of these and it is feeling good!  I would love to hear ways you have scaled back or controlled your social media and technology use.

Monday, September 22, 2014

apple picking 2014


On Saturday we went apple picking at our favorite orchard, which is a fall tradition we never miss.  After we got home I just had to find my photos from last year, because it was just days before kenz was born.  My, how things have changed!! All for the better :) 
We picked a small bag of apples, knowing we will get back and pick more soon.  We also picked out a few pumpkins to put around our home.  Pumpkins are one of those things that I can talk myself out of buying, but when I do, they bring me so much joy every time I see them.  So now my motto is: ALL THE PUMPKINS.  
Also, kenz picked her own apple right away and carried it around the orchard the entire time, held onto it tightly in her car seat on the ride home, and brought it into the apartment.  She melts our hearts on the daily.
Also also, we bought THEE most delicious apple-cider donuts to share.  There was a little sticker on the package that said, "eat or freeze within four days" and we were like PLEASE.  They were gone in a day.  That's just how we do things around here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

quinoa enchilada casserole


The slight chill in the air always gives me fresh energy in the kitchen (which a certain starving husband at 6pm is thankful) and I have been trying out some new recipes a la pinterest.

And no, I don't normally line up my ingredients in such a lovely fashion on our cutting board and take a photo, but 1. these ingredients were just too colorful not to and 2. taking a photo of our Arby's take out bag or Little Caesars hot n' ready just wouldn't be quite as picturesque (although it has been done).

So here is another delicious and healthy vegetarian option for your meal rotation.  David would like to add that this would be taken to the next level with some tortilla chips to scoop with, but we are trying to pretend we eat healthy around here, alright?

Also, for what it is worth (and around here it is worth a lot), this meal has been mckenzie approved.  Hand stamped!  So we have added it to her meal rotation of cheese stick, blueberry muffin, quinoa enchilada casserole.  See what a big deal this is?

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole 
(recipe adapted from here)

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa
1 can (10-ounce) mild enchilada sauce
1 can (4.5-ounce)  chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup canned corn kernels, drained
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin 
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
salt and black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
1 tomato, diced

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to package instructions; set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil an 9x13 baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, combine quinoa, enchilada sauce, green chiles, corn, black beans, cilantro, cumin and chili powder; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
Spread quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheeses. Place into oven and bake until bubbly and cheeses have melted, about 15 minutes.
Serve immediately, garnished with avocado and tomato, if desired.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

a visit to where it all started...

A few days ago one of our friends gave birth to a sweet baby boy in the same hospital where kenz was born.  We dropped in to congratulate them and as we were walking into the hospital we realized it was almost exactly one year since we had been there bringing kenz into the world.  And when we got to our friends' room, we recognized it as the exact same room we had been in!  

All the sights and sounds and emotions of laboring and delivering in that hospital rushed back to me.  David even made me take a picture walking down the hallway with my arms waving up and down because that is how I had labored for a few of those long hours.  It was not funny at the time, but yes, it is sort of hilarious.

We also took a little family photo outside of the NICU where kenz spent the first ten days of her life.  It was not a fun experience, having my sweet newborn baby spend the first days of her life laying in an incubator.  But for what it is worth, we love that little NICU.  Those nurses and doctors were our heroes for the way they cared for our little girl.  I wanted to go inside and hug each of them and show them how strong and healthy kenz is now, because they don't always get to see the happy endings.  

It was just one of those moments...unexpected and unplanned, but felt really whole-circle and healing for me to be in that same place almost a year later.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

a morning hike


On Friday morning we went on a long overdue hike with our babies.  We explored a state park we hadn't spent time in before.  There was a slight chill in the air and a few colorful leaves on the ground and it felt like we were walking on the brink of a new season.  I love living in a place where we can experience the change of seasons.  It brings fresh and new energy to my life. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

NYC!


We spent this past weekend running around NYC for our first time ever!  We went with two of our very good friends (and, I am just realizing now, I never got a photo of all of us together. womp!) who have been to the city before, which is definitely the way to do it.  They knew all the secrets of getting in and out of the city, places to eat, things to see, where to stay, etc.  It made the trip a lot less stressful!  Kenz tagged along, as always, and was such a rockstar bouncing around the city on our backs.  Really, we have been blessed with such an easy-going child, it just doesn't seem fair sometimes.  She did give us a wild ride trying to get to sleep on Saturday night (sorry hotel neighbors) but besides that, she seemed to love NYC just as much as us!


We spent a little bit of time at Ground Zero, which is such a beautiful commemorative to the events that took place there in 2001.  It is a surreal and heartbreaking feeling walking around the site where the twin towers once stood. 


We wasted no time getting ourselves some New York style pizza.  It really does live up to the hype (although comparing it to Chicago style is a joke, people! come on!)


Wandered through Times Square... kenz missed the entire thing sleeping in her carrier.  Just how can you sleep through the sites and sounds of Times Square? Like I said, rockstar.


The view from our hotel.  We stayed at the Marriott near Central Park, which is the tallest hotel in North America!


From the observation deck at our hotel.  David is deathly afraid of heights and wouldn't go near the edge, so I snapped a photo with his phone so he could see what it looks like looking down.  For some reason it was sort of adorable how scared he was :)


We wandered through Central Park, stopping at several food trucks along the way.  I just can't say no to a soft pretzel.  Central Park is such a peaceful oasis in the midst of a busy and rushed world.  I love all of NYC, but it certainly wouldn't be the same without this huge green space in the middle.


We went out for dinner at Ruby Foo's in Times Square, which apparently has very red lighting :)  It was delicious and felt quite fancy until I spilled all of kenz puffs all over the floor and had to get our server to help clean it up.  Ah, parenthood.


The next morning we wandered around Rockefeller Center and got coffee.  The weather was perfect for wandering through the streets and sitting outside. 


We took the subway into Brooklyn for lunch and then walked the bridge back into Manhattan.  Kenz missed that walk, too, and boy did she miss out.  The view from the Brooklyn Bridge is incredible.  I totally understand why people fall in love with this city.


We wandered around East Village eating delicious desserts and admiring all the adorable apartments.  Those fire escapes!  The brick!  I could move right in (although after checking out prices on Zillow we decided to just admire them from afar :))


After a full weekend, we took the Staten Island Ferry back to our car and drove home.  It was a great weekend and I can't believe it has taken us almost five years of living on the East coast to get to NYC.  We already have a list of things to do the next time we visit, so we will be back.