Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy Friday.

The days are so busy now with school, homework and soccer that it's harder to catch little moments.  Quiet moments of play. There is such a small amount of free time in their days anymore.  By the time they get home, have a snack and do homework it is practically dinner time.  By the time dinner is over and they have dessert, it is time to get ready for bed.  The few moments they find to squeeze in some play, together or separate in so precious.  I find that when we have this down time I don't try to organize any sort of activity.  I just let them have their time to do exactly what they want.  For Layla, this particular day, it meant putting together every puzzle she had.

I like this time for certainly cuts down on the fighting they do.  I think when they are apart all day they enjoy their playtime together a lot more.  I really love that neither of them are begging for playdates with their friends...they don't need that because they are each others best friends.  I love it because I know how strong sister bonds are.

I think I am finally getting used to having both girls in school.  I really thought I'd have all this free time.  I only work part time so thought the days I didn't work would be full of leisure time, ladies lunching type things.  (Not really, I knew it would never be like that cuz that's just not me.)  Yesterday was the first day I took the kids to school and on the walk home realized I didn't have any plans or anything that needed to get done.  Instead of being sad about this, I got a little excited.  A whole day in front of me where I could finally catch up on things that I keep putting at the bottom of the to-do list.  I got home, turned up the music, poured a second cup of coffee and tried to decide what to do first.  I didn't even have to worry about getting dinner stuff prepped because I knew my in laws were bringing pizza over for dinner.  However, I can't have a day go by without cooking something so I made some chocolate chip zucchini bread and then some hummus.  Odd combination, but I have a ridiculous amount of zucchini to use and I needed hummus for tonight's Mediterranean nachos.  I caught up on the photo book I've been working on for the year and finally put the hundreds of summer photos into it...phew, that was a lot of work.  I got to really look into and start organizing some ideas I have for some new ventures.  (I'm being vague about details until I get it all totally set)  I didn't have to stop and eat lunch because little kids were hungry at 11.  I got to eat at a more adult lunchtime of 1:30.  I was able to stop in the middle of all of this and make a impromptu run to Target to get something as random as hair dye, just because I was thinking about it  
I finally had enough of the darn grey hairs that keep popping up.  I resist dyeing my hair because I keep hoping it's just a phase that will go away.  I pretend that if I just do these non-permanent hair dyes at home and not actually go to the salon and get it done professionally that it's not really happening.  I'm starting to think I have to admit this isn't a phase.  I guess at 34 I need to start getting used to it.  (My saving grace...I still have less grey than my little sis, sorry Nic)    Anyways...even though I really did have a nice morning, I would have rather spent it with my two little ladies.  I always choose them.

This morning was a very exciting day for both girls because it was their school's annual fun run.  It's a fundraiser the school puts on every fall where the kids raise money by getting pledges to run for thirty minutes.  I think it's a fantastic fundraiser.  It promotes an active life style, they get silly prizes that they are all about and they have so much fun.  We've enjoyed it the past three years with Ava and now got to throw Layla into it.  Both of them ran 31 laps...little rockstars...mama was so proud.

I love being a part of such an amazing school community.  It's been a little up and down with Layla getting into the swing of things, but I so love their school.  As much as I miss them being babies (and I do...sometimes it's a physical ache), I really enjoy this school age thing as well.  Seeing their budding independence and personalities grow beyond what we have taught them.  It's pretty awesome.

Now that I have my new iphone, I have stumbled upon this fun little thing called Instagram.  I kept seeing other people using it and now that I'm a fancy-pants with a smart phone I had to get in on the fun.  Yes, this could get addicting...

This week totally flew by and we now look forward to the weekend.  I have been treasuring these weekends of nothing going on.  I want to get out and enjoy this absolutely beautiful weather we've been having.  Take the girls on a hike and see the changing colors of the leaves and soak up some fall.  I can't wait for date night tonight because I found some black bubbles to try...
LOVE the lable!!

Matt and I got a bonus date night this week.  Last night was open house for parents at the school.  We took advantage of having Grandma and Grandpa with the kids and went out to dinner.  We went to Fresco Cafe, a quaint little Italian place here that is so good.  Bonus?  It was just warm enough that we got to sit on their adorable patio that has twinkling lights and watch the sunset.  Double bonus?  Dairy Queen is within walking distance which meant cappuccino heath blizzard for dessert.  Now, that's a good date night.'s time to go pick up what I expect to be two very tired little girls after a very busy day.  Hope your weekend is wonderful.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend Happies.

I went to take photos off the camera from the past week and weekend, all ready to see what we had and look for writing inspiration.  What I found was 6 pictures.  Pretty pathetic.  I guess now that the girls are in school all day and I'm at work I don't have as many photo opportunities.  The inside of my office is pretty boring and I would definitely look like the odd parent if I was still snapping photos of the kids at school now that we're four weeks in.  Therefore, the best thing to do this lovely evening is to go with a little list of happies from the week.

-Daddy came home.  Not only did he make it home safe, he brought gifts...

Whenever Matt goes back to Michigan he always comes back with some sort of Detroit paraphernalia...good choice with the pink tee's for the girls.  We had a fun girls weekend, but it was SO nice to have him home, everything just feels much more complete.  Matt being home also meant return of date night on Friday.  We had creamy spinach, mushroom scallops and roasted red potatoes with truffle oil and sea salt and some brushetta to bring it all together.  It was so good.

-Black Bubbles.  Have you ever had red champagne?  Well, I had my first experience last week.  My younger sister, Nicole and I decided to finally go out for a drink one evening.  She moved back this summer and we have been talking about going out for a girls night since then and finally got to do it.  We headed downtown to Plonk.  We had a great table situated perfectly half inside to stay warm, half outside to feel the cool late summer evening.  For some reason I felt in a celebratory mood so was checking out the champagne options when I notice red champagne.  Of course, I had to try it and I think I found my new favorite cocktail.  You get the flavor of a nice, dry red wine with the added bonus of happy bubbles!  It was a beautiful evening where we got to have full conversations without the distraction or interruption of little children.  Many more of these evenings to come now that she lives here (and I can't wait to have them feel more complete when Kori can join the trio)

-Giant Zucchinis.  This makes the happy list because it's just funny.

I was supposed to keep an eye on the garden while Matt was gone.  Guess this one got away from me.  What am I gonna do with this thing?

-Bobcat Homecoming.  This weekend was MSU's homecoming.  We are not die hard Bobcat fans by any means, but this is always a fun weekend.  I'll always be a cheerleader at heart so anything that screams team spirit makes me happy.  I love seeing our town full of blue and gold and the excitement of cheering our team on.  We started things off with the parade on Saturday morning.  Amy, Chad and their kiddos joined us and except for the annoyance of the political floats, fun was had by all.
Waiting for the parade to begin
Proud MSU alum showing our school pride
"We've got spirit yes we do, we've got spirit how bout you?"  Sorry I can't help myself   
We continued the fun at lunch with friends at one of our favorites...The Garage
We haven't had a chance to hang out with these guys since the craziness of school began so it was great to catch up.  We didn't let it end at lunch...Frasers came over for a bar-b-q that evening to celebrate the official first day of Fall.  What better way to do that than sitting outside eating very summer like food of burgers and pasta salad?  The difference between doing it in September and July is simply sweatshirts.  Speaking of Fall, it truly is  in the air.  I noticed it on my run that morning...the changing of the leaves, the crispness, even the smell just all said Fall to me.  As much of a summer girl I claim to be, I do enjoy the changing of the seasons.  I'm not totally ready to trade my flip flops for boots, but I am starting to think about it.  As I told Amy that evening...I really do like Fall and Winter...I just wish Spring could begin January 1st.  To which, Amy just laughed at me.  Oh, well...a girl can wish right?

-Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Cookies.  These babies just could not be left off this list.  They take a little more work than some cookies, but are SO worth it.  

I wish I could say the recipe was my own, but I can't.  You can find it at one of my favorite food blogs...Picky Palate.  The one thing I did different is, I made two balls of the chocolate cookie and sandwiched the peanut butter ball in the middle.  I think more chocolate is always better.  Seriously...make will not be disappointed.

-My First Smart Phone.  Matt has been trying to talk me into getting an iphone for months and I have resisted for months.  I'm fine with my old school phone and tend to be resistant to change with some things.  Cell phones are one of them.  (I think every phone I've had that wasn't just the free one for signing up was one Matt bought me)  Cars are another...I'm pretty certain I would still be driving my red Geo Storm if it wasn't for Matt.  It was a pretty cool car back in the day, however, I am thankful to my hubby for making sure I drive something a little better.  Back to the iphone...we were going to just check them out.  I think he thought if I saw them I would just have to have one.  That didn't happen...I look at them and don't get all excited like most people.  (Shoes and handbags maybe, but not cell phones)  I stepped away for a few minutes to take the girls to the restroom, come back and Matt is at the check out new phone in hand, telling me to go pick out a case.  After playing with it all afternoon I must say I am quite enjoying this world of technology that goes beyond just texting and phone calls.  Thank you Matt, for keeping me up to date in the technology world.  I plan on enjoying this phone for many years...or until he convinces me to upgrade again.

The list ended up longer than I expected, I just got caught up in it which I suppose is a good thing, right?  Now we are at the last week of September and I can't believe how fast it feels like it went.  We are now just a hop, skip and jump away from Halloween and the holidays...crazy.  We will soak up this last week of September with school, work, soccer practices and hopefully more photos than last week.  

Hope your weekend was full of your own happies.

Creamy spinach, mushroom scallops
-For Mushrooms:  Chop around one cup of mushrooms and place in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, s&p and fresh minced garlic.  Roast at 375-degrees for around 15 minutes.  Set aside
-For Spinach:  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan.  Add 1/2 cup chopped onions and 1 clove minced garlic.  Cook around 7 minutes until tender.  Add one bunch of spinach and 1/4 cup heavy cream.  Cook until cream is reduced by half.  Lower heat and add 1 1/2 tbls of Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of bread crumbs.  Let cool
-For Scallops  (Make sure to get the LARGE scallops, they are so much better!!):  Sprinkle scallops (I use around 6-7 large ones) with 1 tsp sugar, some s&p.  Heat some olive oil in a pan (I use the same one I cooked the spinach in, save on dishes)  Saute the scallops over med heat until golden brown.
-On a baking sheet put the scallops.  Top them with the prepared mushrooms and then top that with the prepared spinach.  Bake at 375-degrees for around 10-12 minutes, until scallops are done.  Enjoy.

Roasted red potatoes with truffle oil
-Cut the red potatoes in half (unless they are baby ones, then you don't need to cut them).  Drizzle with olive oil and generously sprinkle with sea salt.  Roast at 400-degrees for around 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and drizzle with truffle oil and top with s&p.  So simple, but very tasty.  The truffle oil brings it up a notch.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekend in Review.

I ask my kids everyday about their school days...if it was good, what they learned, what they did.  Sometimes I get a lot, sometimes I don't get much.  Tonight at dinner, through a funny conversation, I got to find out what Ava learned about in school.  It went something like this:

Ava:  If I had to walk from the "M" (a local trail here) to New York, I would eat grass and bark from trees on the way.

Me:  Why would you be walking there?

Ava:  Cuz I don't have any money

Me:  If I were you, I would get a job, make some money and buy a ticket to fly there and eat pizza instead of grass.

Ava:  Well...I did that but the plane dropped me off in Massachusetts instead.

Me:  Why did the plane drop you off in Massachusetts?

Ava:  Because I was hitting the plane master on the head

Me (assuming "plane master" meant pilot):  Why were you hitting him?

Ava:  Because he was being too loud on the intercom and woke up the grandma next to me from California.  They decided to drop her off on the Oregon coast and she had to walk back home

Me (really starting to wonder where this story was going):  Did you make it to New York?

Ava:  Yes, they took me there and I saw the soldiers who are guarding that piece of paper...what's it called?

Me:  I'm not sure I know what you're talking about

Ava:  You know, the Constitution...we learned about it at school today.

I guess they learned about the Constitution today and apparently Ava is learning some geography as well.

Anywho...I saw this quote that I really like...

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." ~Anais Nin

I like it because it sums up why I enjoy writing here in this space.  It gives me a chance to re-live what our family has done and by doing that I notice so many things.  Sometimes it makes me realize just how lucky I am and to not take things for granted.  Sometimes it makes me see how things could be done differently or better next time.  Sometimes it just helps me clear my head and get all my thoughts out.  It always helps me to notice the happy in everyday moments and to truly treasure them.  That is what I enjoy the most.  So...on that's our weekend in review...

Matt has been out of town, visiting his family in Michigan, so it has been just us girls.  I remember when the girls were babies it felt so very hard to have Matt gone for even just one night.  We are such a team that when he was gone I noticed it very much.  We still miss him terribly when he is gone, however, now that the kids are older we turn it into something fun.  A full on girls weekend.  A look at just what a girls weekend entails...

To kick things off...yogurt at our new favorite place-

Best place ever because you get to make it just how you want it and they have so many flavors and toppings.  (carmel & chocolate yogurt with Heath bar pieces on top for me...yummy)  Perfect Friday afternoon treat!

Making homemade pizzas for dinner, extra cheesy....

Movie night, complete with popcorn in bed...
Fresh popped, none of that microwave crap
An oldie, but a goodie.  Yes, we still have a VCR for VHS tapes!

It has been good for me to have this weekend with just my girls.  I've been missing them with school starting and our busy lives.  Having some quality time was nice.  However...we are ready for Matt to come's just not the same around here without his energy.

Saturday we got to spend the day with my sister.  It's weird, all summer we saw her and the kids practically every day.  Now school has started and it had been over a week since I saw her.  We had her kids over the weekend before while she was in the hospital, but I hadn't actually seen her.  Even though the kids had spent the entire previous weekend together, they were chomping at the bit to get over their and see Kim and Greg.  All morning, Layla kept asking me...can we go yet?  It was a good day of catching up with Kori while the kiddos played and played.  Bonus?  The next day Kori and her family showed up at the girls soccer games to cheer them on.  I know she probably didn't feel up to it.  And, I know that it may kinda suck for the kids to come watch when they aren't getting play.  I know they probably had other things to get done on a Sunday afternoon.  But, none of that mattered and they came to be part of the cheering section.  It meant a lot to the girls and to me.  Last spring, before Kori got sick we all spent Sundays watching Ava and Greg's games.  I know it's not the same as before, but it sure was nice having them there.
And, the girls played hard as to not disappoint their fans...

Before the soccer games that day we had the first day of Sunday School for the girls for the year.  We don't go to church very much at all in the summer.  It seems like we are camping or at the river or out of town and it just doesn't work.  I like to think the He is ok with that because summer is so short around here.  I didn't grow up going to church and it wasn't until we were pregnant with Ava that we decided we wanted to find a church we would be able to go to as a family.  We looked into a few and finally found one we both really liked.  When we first started going, I felt very intimidated by it...not sure why, I just did.  Having gone for the past 7 years it now feels very comfortable.  It felt good to go back this past Sunday.  Girls back with friends from Sunday school and seeing familiar faces.  It feels warm, welcoming and this Sunday, a little emotional.  Probably because as I settled into my seat for the service and started looking through the program to see what was coming up, I saw Kori's name on the prayer list.  It caught me a little off guard, seeing her name there, knowing the good church goers had been praying for her all summer long.  (while we had been missing church!)  Last May when Kori first got sick and we were all so scared about what was going on I emailed our pastor  to ask for prayers for her.  I took comfort in her immediate response that she would start a prayer chain and so many people would be thinking about Kori.  The pastor checked back occasionally for the first month.  At one point, when things were going so well, I emailed her and told her things were looking up, thanks for the prayers and she could take her off the list.  I was very happy to see they hadn't taken her off.  I found myself getting a little choked up all through the service, looking around and seeing yet again,  a whole lotta goodness in people.

It was a good weekend...both living it once and now living it again in retrospection.  

Happy day!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Baking, Cooking and Passing it on...

As the girls are getting into a groove with school, I am trying to figure out what my groove is.  It's been a little tricky this week because we have had some sad mornings with Layla not wanting to go to school.  Each time her eyes fill up with tears, but don't quite spill over, it breaks my heart into a million pieces.  I'm not sure what is causing the sadness...I think it's just suddenly realizing school is all day every day, not just a couple mornings like pre-school.  When I pick her up she is happy and full of stories from her day, and her teacher has assured me she is happy during the day, it's just these hard goodbyes.  We've been talking a lot about it and I've tried to give her some pep talks (Ava is best when she tells her "Layla, I should be the one that doesn't want to go to school, I have to do tests and math and reading everyday.  You just get to play")  We're not talking sobbing, clutching my hand tears...just wanting extra hugs and kisses and her trying to hold it together as she walks away.  She asked me to come have lunch with her one day this week.  In the past couple years I've gone to have lunch with Ava a few times and planned on doing the same with Lay, but wanted her to get into the year a bit first.  When she asked, I hesitated.  I want to encourage her independence, but also be there for her when she needs to feel secure.  I decided to go for it and it was really good.  I got to meet a few of her new friends, see Ava for lunch as well and doing the second goodbye of the day was just a quick hug and she was off.  We are getting there and each day I see her gaining confidence.  We're getting there.  (just realized I said that twice, must be trying to reassure myself)  Tuesday night Matt took Ava to soccer and I decided Layla and I would stay home...have a little time with just her.  We spent the whole hour playing soccer in the backyard.  She kept making up these silly games where she would get a goal, but I only got a half-goal every time or a kinda goal.  Then she got really creative and put the soccer ball in the barbie car and you had to leap over it and you could get a goal if you didn't knock the ball off....too funny.

Not to leave Ava out of any of this school stuff....she's just rocking second grade.  She is full on school kid confident as she has entered her third year there.  She has her friends, loves her teacher and I barely get a goodbye.  She's awesome.  

As I said before, I have not found my groove with all these changes.  I only work a couple days a week and the three in the middle are still feeling very, very lonely.  I go about all the things we would normally do in our days, but there is just something missing (or two somethings).  So, I try to do what normally helps me clear my head.  I cook.  I run.  I write.  Not sure if it's helping or making me crazier.  The other morning I had three different things I was baking all at the same time...cupboards open, kitchen a mess.  Not sure if it made me feel any better but we did end up with amazing chocolate cheesecake bars and banana muffins...yummy!

Oh yea, and I clean.  Today I cleaned out our entire refrigerator.  I mean, took everything out and scrubbed it down.  Thank goodness my mom called and invited me to join her and my sister for a little shopping and lunch or I may have started on the oven.  

I'll keep with the food theme, cuz there's been a lotta cookin going on in this house.  Last night, in an attempt to use some of the many potatoes we have lately, I made perogies.  We used to eat them a lot when we lived in Michigan, but I've never tried to make them myself.  For the first time, they turned out great.  They were perfectly complimented by a balsamic pasta salad.  I miss my little helpers with all this cooking, but overall cooking makes me feel happy.  

Other happy this week?  I found a way to pay forward a little kindness.  After writing that I intended on trying to pass on some goodness, I knew I wanted to come good on it sooner rather than later.  Something about writing it and putting it out there makes you feel a lot more accountable to follow through.  I spent a lot of nights thinking about what I wanted to do.  I immediately think of all the things I could do for people I know, however, the thing that got me going on this in the first place was the kindness of strangers.  I also thought of all the amazing non profits we have here locally that we could help out with, but again it wasn't exactly what I was going for.  Then as I was reading one of the blogs I follow, a story caught my eye.  It was about a mom who just recently lost her battle with melanoma skin cancer.  It was heartbreaking to read.  She left three children and a husband behind.  I don't feel like I can tell the story because it's not my story to tell, so please read it here.  It just spoke to me for whatever reason.  It reminded me a bit of my sisters story in that it is about a family dealing with a horrible illness and they are using the power of social media to raise awareness about the dangers of skin cancer and to try to raise money to cover their medical expenses.  Because of social media we have been able to spread my sisters story and have received so much support from it.  That is why when I read this story, I wanted to make a donation to this memorial fund.  In the past I've read or heard sad stories and just went on with my life.  Now, having seen my sister go through so much and how so many people have reached out to her, I simply cannot just do nothing.  We can't afford much, but it felt really good to send just a small donation.  To continue this cycle of goodness and kindness from strangers.  This will not be the last time I do this.  

If you found a way to pass on some kindness this week, comment about it (on facebook or here) just may inspire someone else to do so and that's just good karma.

Happy day to you...enjoy the gorgeous Fall weather we've been having when the smoke clears.  (Yes, I have gotten on board and am all good with the season change...maybe)

Balsamic Pasta Salad
In a mixing bowl whisk 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 garlic clove, 1 tsp sugar, s&p together.
Add fresh veggies...I used tomato, cucumbers and zucchini
Toss in some fresh grated Parmesan cheese and fresh torn basil
Add some cooked and rinsed acini de pepe pasta 
Toss it all together and refrigerate for a little while so flavors can blend.  Tastes to fresh.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 10, 2012


This past weekend we got to see a lot of goodness in people.  As an optimistic person, I tend to see the good over the bad anyways...this weekend it just stood out even more.  We had a benefit garage sale to try and raise money for my sister.  It seemed like a good way to clean out our closets, get to spend some time together and maybe raise a little money.  My mom, sisters and I spent the week going through and pricing items, added some more when my dad brought over a trailer full of junk stuff, made some signs promoting the Hope, Love & Funds for Kori benefit, threw some ads in the paper and on Craigslist and prepared for a busy day.  We barely got the garage door open the day of the sale and we had people ready to shop.  It was a good day.  It was a day where the kindness of strangers really showed.  It was a day where family came together to help one of our own.  (who, unfortunately didn't get to be there with us)  I think garage salers in general are looking for a deal, but all day people were telling us to keep the change for the benefit, over paying for things, buying large amounts of lemonade even though it was a cool morning and slipping cash into the donation bucket.  It wasn't just the financial support we was the kind words and the promise of prayers.  Sometimes you can't help but just hear the negative in the world...the news in the morning is full of nasty politics, dangerous storms, tragedies around the's nice to have a morning where all you see is the goodness in people.  Not just from strangers, but from family.  My aunt was one of the first to arrive with coffees for the adults and muffins for the kiddos, my mother-law came and sat at the lemonade stand long after the kids abandoned ship, my other aunt and cousins showed up a few hours later with pizza for all and to see if they could help.  One comment my mom heard was how great it was to see so many family members there all smiling and working together during what must be a difficult time.  Yea, I have a pretty freakin cool family.

By the end of sale, we all sat on the front porch, counted up the earnings (and excitedly texted Kori and Dave the final amount...$1,208!!), cheered with a couple beers and just hung out watching the last of the free stuff get taken away by passerbyers.  Neighbors slowly joined us and as family left we ended up having an impromptu dinner with them.  It was an exhausting and very fulfilling day.

The rest of the weekend was full of soccer games, cousin play time and getting ready for the week ahead.  First full week of school for the girls and I'm afraid the novelty of Kindergarten may already be wearing off on Layla.  This morning she told me, with her big brown puppy dog eyes, she just wanted to stay home with me.  If she only knew how much I wanted that too.  I gave her a big squeeze, reminded her it was library day and that I couldn't wait to hear all about it at the end of the day.  That seemed to work because I got smiles as her and Ava walked hand in hand off to the playground.  I so love that they have each other.  I like knowing even though they are in the huge school and probably don't see each other much, they are both there.  Together.

That's all for now...just a little rambling of my gratitude for the kindness of strangers.  I want to take this gratitude and do some random act of kindness for someone else this week.  I'll let you know how it goes...think about doing the same.
Hope your week is happy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Goodbye Summer, Hello Kindergarten.

Yesterday was a big day at our house.  My baby girl started Kindergarten...

I was going to write last night, but after the anticipation and emotion of the day I was exhausted.  Layla was not scared or nervous in the least bit to start school.  She was so ready to follow in her big sisters footsteps and be at the big kid school.  I remember with Ava having to give her lots of encouragement and reminding her that she was going to do great.  Layla didn't need anything.  She ran ahead of us the whole way to the playground, threw her backpack on her line and she was off.  Matt and I stood with the other Kindergarten parents, cameras in hand, tears hidden behind big sunglasses.  Right before the bell rang, little miss came back and grabbed my hand.  It's like she had a moment of...I'm really going to be in school all day.  I gave her a big hug, told her to have a fantastic first day and she was gone.  Walking in line like a big kid into the big school.

Oh, it made me so sad seeing her walk away.  Knowing this would be the last time I was one of those Kindergarten parents...filled with a mixture of pride and sadness.  Knowing I wouldn't have a little one at home all day to make lunch for, run errands with, make an impromptu park trip with.  (this is why people have lots of kids...I didn't realize it until now)  Luckily this day I also started my first day back at work.  After taking the summer off, I was ready to get back into the work thing a bit.  It was so good that I had that distraction instead of coming home to an empty house and just feeling sad.  Even though I have worked at the same place for many years, I felt some anticipation about going back...a bit of the starting a new job feeling.  However, once I walked in it was like being back with another type of family and it felt good.  I dove into it and didn't have to wonder all day long about what my girls were up to and if Layla was making friends and if her teacher was nice.  I was one of the first people waiting for kiddos to come out that day...anxious to hear all about it.  When Layla came out with a big smile, I knew the day had been a success.  Between her and Ava chattering the whole way home, I couldn't get a word in.  Ava, telling Layla all about the school rules and Layla insisting that she already knows all that.  So funny.  

Their growing independence became even more apparent this morning when Ava told me I didn't need to walk around to the playground with Layla today because she would help her.  Instead of them wanting me to do this, I had to ask if it was ok for me to do it just a couple more days.  Luckily, Layla said she wanted me to stay...but that she was going to go play on the playground until the bell rang.  It was a good compromise.  Today, I didn't have the distraction of work to go off to and because of that I felt the full weight of emptiness as I started to walk home alone.  Thank the Lord, that just as I was about to start the tears again I ran into a friend of mine leaving the school and we walked home together.  I know it'll get easier everyday...but I miss my girls.  It's funny, in these last 7 years there were moments when all I wanted was just a second to myself with no one needing a hundred things from me at the very same time.  Now I have that time to myself and I'm not quite sure what to do with it.  (this morning I chose to distract myself with cooking and by 10 am had everything prepped and ready for tonight's dinner, after school snack ready and in the fridge and coffee set for tomorrow)  For the first time, in so long I will begin to think of things I want to do for myself that don't involve little ones.  I find this both daunting and exciting.  It is a shift that I am finding difficult...going from stay at home mom back to something else.  I think a lot about what I want to do, while still being fully available to volunteer on field trips, in the classroom and being the one to pick up my kids everyday.  I have some ideas that I am getting excited about.  Hopefully, it can help fill the small hole I feel in my heart without my girls here which I know will only get bigger as they grow.  This is what we do right?  Us mamas...we nurture them, teach them and love them like no other and then we let them fly.  But, we stay close by in case they fall and then set them off again.  This parenthood thing can be tough.  

Anyways...enough of the emotional stuff, time to move on.  Speaking of moving on, we did just that this past holiday weekend.  We went to the river for some camping, boating and lots of sunshine as we officially kissed summer goodbye.
Labor Day in Montana is usually one of two things...really cold and crappy or really nice and beautiful.  Thankfully this year was the latter.  We have spent the last few Memorial and Labor Days at my parents river house and before that it was at their lake house.  It is a tradition I enjoy...kicking summer off and ending it with my family.  Everyone is relaxed because we are away and just enjoy good food, weather and company.  This time something was missing as my older sister and her family weren't there.  Considering they are a family of eight you can see why it felt a little quieter.  They had another obligation and I missed them a lot.  I missed all the littles together splashing in the water, rolling my eyes at Matt and my brother in law being obnoxious and toasting drinks with Kori.  Next year, they are not allowed to miss it.  We may have missed her family, however I am lucky to have two sisters and this year for the first time my younger sister and her family were there and it was fantastic.  That meant more laughter and more kiddos.  It was a good way to end the summer.

Before the holiday weekend we kicked things off with an at home date night and I made a recipe I just had to share.  I wanted to make something simple and was flipping through one of my Italian cookbooks for a little inspiration.  I found this caramelized onion dish and because I have a new found love of caramelized onions had to make my own version of this.  Oh my.  It was good.

Here's how I made it:  
I used my recipe for savory dough that I use in spinach pies.  I rolled the dough out into a circle on a greased pizza stone (you could roll it into whatever shape you want, I may do rectangle next time so it doesn't look so much like a pizza)
I then caramelized some onions like I do in this recipe (heat 1/2 tbls butter, 1/2 oil in a pan...add 2 onions, sliced.  Cook 10 minutes on medium heat, then lower to low heat and sprinkle with some sugar and sea salt.  Cover slightly so air can still escape and cook around 40 minutes stirring occasionally...scraping up all the browned parts on the pan)
I sprinkled the dough with some cheese (I used pecorino because it's what I had on hand), top with the caramelized onion and then sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top.  Cook for around 20 minutes in a 400-degree oven, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't burn.  We had this along with some baked mozzarella...perfect date night meal.  With a glass of vino of course.

That is all for got a bit of everything...emotion, fun times and some food to round things out.  Activities will now be more structured in the form of school, soccer games and play dates and less nights capped off with ice cream and trips to the park (which, by the way...we managed to check off all the parks on our list this summer...woohoo!!)  I leave you with a final look at my last day with just little Layla before she was off...I will miss these days.  I will make a point to still have these days with each baby girl, one on one...even with their busy school lives.

Have a happy day.