I taught my last day of classes this week. It feels…weird. I spend all year talking about how ready I am for summer, but the truth is, when it finally gets here, it always feels like it has arrived out of the middle of nowhere.
Of course, I still have to GRADE…so it’s not really summer quite yet.
It does feel like summer though. Between the end of classes and the warm weather we’ve been having, it feels more like June than April. We’ve been eating dinners outside, taking the dogs on walks and hikes, and napping in the afternoon. The past week or so has felt like one long exhale, and I love it.
Today, we took Lila and the dogs walking in a nature preserve by our house:
…and then came home for an easy dinner: taco salads (romaine, topped with grass-fed beef, red peppers, salsa, cilantro, cheese, and guac), eaten outside at our new picnic table!
After dinner, we all hung out in the yard for a while, soaking up the last of the sun:
I know it’s not summer yet…but let’s celebrate the fact that it’s so close.
I packed away my winter clothes last week, so I should have known it was coming: one last bout of cold weather.
We definitely haven’t had it as bad as some—our friends in Indiana were posting snow pictures again! Gah!
But, we did have a few chilly days earlier in the week—a perfect excuse to make one last batch of soup before all of the grilling and summer salads descend on us for the next four months.
This soup is easy and delicious:
…and pretty, too!
Sweet Potato Carrot Ginger Soup
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (about two pounds)
3-4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tbsp. ginger root, chopped
4 cups chicken broth (or water or vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
juice from one lime
1 cup coconut milk
salt to taste
Heat olive oil in a soup pot. Add onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and carrots and cook for another 15 minutes. Add cilantro and ginger, and continue to cook until starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, until vegetables are soft. With a submerging blender, blend soup until smooth. You can also do this in batches in a regular blender.
Once soup has blended, remove from heat and stir in coconut milk, lime juice, and salt to taste. Garnish with additional cilantro.
Lila was a fan:
Just make sure you don’t get cilantro up your nose.
Last week, Lila turned two. This weekend, we rolled up our sleeves, prepared to get messy, and welcomed a pack of two-year-olds into our house to create some art:
I ordered the invitations from minted.com—aren’t they cute?!
We tossed around a few different party ideas before settling on the idea of an art party. Lila is in a major art-loving phase right now, so I knew she would be into it. I also liked the idea of having an activity to center the party around, and because her birthday is in mid-April, I hoped that we’d luck out on the weather and get sunshine…and we definitely did!
As you can see from the invitation, we warned our guests ahead of time about what we had planned, so all of the kids (and adults!) came in appropriate clothing.
Each kid got their own big canvas to paint, and we set up a paint station with tons of paint, brushes, sponges, water buckets, and paper towels:
…plus an encouraging sign.
I know it looks like a lot of stuff—and it was! But, when we decided on this party theme a few months back, our nanny tipped me off to the Hobby Lobby app—you put it on your phone, and they tell you about all of the deals/discounts that are available from week to week. Plus, every single day, you have a 40% coupon that you can use on almost any item. The canvases that we got for the kids were all buy one get one free, and combining that with other deals and the 40% off coupon meant that buying the supplies wasn’t too expensive. Plus, we have a lot left over for future projects with Lila.
We set down drop cloths in the backyard, and when the kids arrived, they all got busy painting their canvases. I told the other parents about a Pinterest idea I’d seen where you outline the kid’s initials (or first letter of their first name, or their entire name, etc.) with painting tape so that the kid can paint around it and when you peel the tape off, they have a customized piece of art. Pretty cool idea!
Here are some pictures of our little artists in action:
So. Much. Fun.
My biggest worry with this party was that two was too young, and that the kids wouldn’t really get into the painting. But they totally did—they loved it! It was so fun watching all of them create their art together.
As I said, we really lucked out on the weather. It was sunny and 75, so we were outside the whole time. We had about 15 kids total, and they all kind of went back and forth from painting, to playing in the backyard, to painting again. Having the party all outside meant that our house stayed nice and clean—not a big deal, but it is kind of nice to not have your house wrecked by a posse of wild toddlers.
In the end, their paintings looked great:
And indeed, the kids did get messy. In fact, someone ended up blowing out her birthday candles in the buff:
…which I think is the sign of a great party.
We kept the food simple—pizza, fruit salad, and goldfish. But I am pretty proud of our favors:
…which my mom really helped me with. If she hadn’t been around to help, I probably would have just given each kid a crayon or something.
We found this stuff, again, at Hobby Lobby. Little multi-colored buckets (paint pails?), filled with crayons, paint, a paint brush, noise-maker, and m&m’s.
And that, my friends, is our art party! It really was a lot of fun—if you’re trying to come up with a good birthday idea for a little one, I’d recommend this one!
Hope you had a great weekend!
Guess who turned two this week?
You know who.
I know all parents say this, but it really is crazy how fast the years go by. It really doesn’t seem like that long ago that we were bringing her home for the first time:
…and now she’s a walking (running), talking (sassing) two-year old. I’m excited about two. She’s already started testing her limits more and more, and definitely frustrates us on a daily basis. But, at the same time, she’s like a little sponge at this age—soaking up new information, spitting out new phrases left and right—she’s become our little parrot! Two days into it, two is fun in ways that babyhood never was. I’ve always been up front about not loving the infant stage, so crazy as it might sound, I have high hopes for toddlerhood.
Of course, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Lila seems to be going through some sort of a sleep regression—after months (years?) of sleeping peacefully through the night, she’s started waking a few times a night over the past month or so—screaming out for her pacifier, asking to be rocked, and—this morning at 5:50—asking to be sung to. Puff Dragon and the Winnie the Pooh theme songs are common requests, which is cute, but not in the middle of the night (or before dawn).
We got her a night light which has helped some. I think it’s mostly just a bit of good old-fashioned separation anxiety. Plus, they say that kids can start having nightmares more at this age, and I do think that sometimes she wakes up in the dark, can’t find her paci, and just freaks out. Thus, the night light.
Still, it’s frustrating. One week, she woke up three nights in a row, and I thought—we haven’t had to deal with this crap since she was an infant! It’s hard when you think that you’ve worked through something, only to have it resurface again.
In addition to Lila turning two, we’re thinking about two in other ways—two kids. We’ve always talked about spacing our kids out by about 3 years…which means that with Lila turning two, trying for a second baby is right around the corner. Honestly, my thoughts on having a second kid are more complicated than I thought they’d be. I never thought I’d only want one kid. I love having a sibling, and I think it’s something that is…well, I guess I think it’s good for kids. I’m not trying to dis only children, because I know some great ones, and obviously the choice of how many children to have (if any) is one that each parent must decide completely on their own. But with a sibling, you learn how to share. You learn that the world doesn’t always revolve around you. Plus, you have someone to commiserate with and scheme with and laugh with, and when your parents get older, you don’t have to bear that brunt all on your own.
Lila is just so god-damned easy these days. I mean, yeah, she throws fits, and yeah, we have our moments—but compared to the struggle we went through with a newborn? It’s nothing. Lila naps for 2-3 hours a day. She’s on a regular schedule most days. She’s a happy kid. Plainly put, while I would never say that Lila was an easy baby (hello, bouncing her on the ball with the hairdryer going for hours at a time!), she is a pretty easy kid. We love her. We’re having so much fun with her. And so, a part of me thinks—why mess with a great thing? Why ask for more?
Of course, we will. Or at least, we’ll try. Not wanting to return to the hell of the first three months of having a baby isn’t enough to deter me from what comes next—the smiles, the giggles, all of the first moments. I know more than ever now how short the baby phase is—and lest you think I was a miserable shrew during that entire time, let me be clear that there were some things that I loved about infanthood. You really just can’t beat a baby, drunk on milk, passed out on your chest. #scientificfact Plus, a part of me wonders how much of our rough first three months was just the difficulty of a first baby. I’ve heard my friends with 2 or more say again and again that everything is so much different (and usually easier) the second time around.
Any words of wisdom for me on going for number two? Or for the “terrible” twos?
Greetings! We’re about to call it a night—our last one here in Big Sur. Sigh. I’m sad that our trip is coming to an end…although I am *very* excited about seeing our sweet kiddo tomorrow. Travel is definitely a different experience after you have kids—I had so much fun relaxing on this trip and reconnecting with Ryan as two adults (as opposed to MaMa and DaDa ), but I’m so ready to get back and be with Lila again. A part of me really has felt kind of…well, empty without her.
But. That being said—this trip has been awesome and we’ve enjoyed every second of it. Today, we booked massages at the hotel spa—perfect timing, as the morning was gray and rainy. Apparently this was the first bout of rain Big Sur had seen in quite some time, but honestly, we didn’t mind—it was great spa weather!
After our morning at the spa, however, we *were* ready for some action this afternoon, so we headed out on a drive. We started off without a real goal in mind, just out and about, exploring the beautiful pacific highway:
…but we found ourselves at Jade Cove, a beach spot famous for its jade rocks and beachcombing treasures. The hike down to the beach was actually a little treacherous—the trails were pretty muddy from the earlier rain:
But once we got down there, it was worth it—beautiful views, and lots of beach for exploring!
Poor Ryan—I can literally beachcomb for HOURS, so he basically had to drag me out of there.
All in all, it was an amazing final afternoon for our trip. The sun came out as the afternoon wore on, and we headed back along the highway for one final beautiful drive:
I don’t think I could ever get sick of that view.
That’s it for California for us—next time I talk to you, we’ll probably be back in the Southland.
Hi friends! Greetings from sunny Big Sur!
Some of my favorite posts to look back on are the ones from our travels. I love being able to trace the days—what we did, things we saw, places we ate…it’s so much fun to have a little travelogue to look back on!
So, for posterity’s sake, here’s some of what we’ve been doing here in Big Sur.
We actually flew into Monterey, California. We were hoping to spent the afternoon and evening there on Saturday, but our flights were pushed back so far that we ended up getting to our hotel room at 10:30 pm and just crawling into bed and crashing. The next morning, however, we got to explore a little, and also went to the world famous Monterey Aquarium, which is worth all the hype (and steep admission price):
With that, we were on our way south—ready for Big Sur! I’ve driven the Pacific Coast Highway before, on a roadtrip with my gal pals. Even though I’d driven it before, it still took my breath away. That stretch of highway has to be the prettiest in the country—we had to be careful not to veer off the road, taking in all of the amazing views!
We stopped along the way to take pictures at some look-out points—it’s just too hard not to!
Once we got checked into our Big Sur hotel (ahhhhhmazing), we headed out for a hike—gotta take advantage of our time while we’re here! On Sunday afternoon, we “hiked” to McWay Falls—I call it a “hike” because it’s really nothing more than a short walk on a paved path. But the path pays off with one of the prettiest views in Big Sur—a waterfall cascading directly to the beach below:
Just across the highway, we also started on the Ewoldsen Trail—a trail that took us through beautiful redwood forest:
Continuing our hikes, yesterday (Monday), we explored Andrew Molera State Park, which had a nice variety—one easy, relatively short trail led to a stunningly rugged beach (which we explored for about an hour); another one took us high to a bluff, which gave us a beautiful panoramic view:
And that brings us to…today! Today, we explored Pfeiffer Falls, in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Again, amazing views!
We also ate a picnic lunch a Pfeiffer Beach—same name, different spot. This beach was small, but really dramatic—waves crash through huge rock formations and cliffs. Pretty incredible.
As you can tell…we’ve been enjoying ourselves. We thought long and hard about where we wanted to go for this trip, knowing that trips like this with just the two of us will probably be very few and far between for the next, oh, eighteen years. I think Big Sur was the perfect choice—we’ve been able to relax (yay, naps!), but also get out and hike all morning. It really has been the perfect blend of active and lazy.
Hope you’re having a good week! I’ll be back to check in before we leave…sadly, tomorrow is our last full day. Sigh.
And in case you’re wondering…yep, we really, really, really, REALLY miss Lila. Although word on the street is that she hasn’t asked about us once, haha. I think she’s having so much fun with Honey and CooCoo, she didn’t even notice we’ve been gone.
I mentioned in my last post that I was *very* excited for spring break (which starts officially tomorrow). I’m always happy to have a bit of a break, but this break is especially exciting because…we’re traveling! We’re actually in our California hotel room as I type this post, ha.
As Arnold says, “Welcome to California!”
This trip is kind of a big deal because it’s the first trip we’ve taken away from Lila together. We’ve both traveled separately since she’s been born, but one of us (whoever wasn’t traveling) always stayed with her. She’s with my parents right now, having a ball– probably eating ice cream for dinner, watching cartoons late at night, and developing all sorts of bad habits that we’ll have to break when we get home. ;-)
As for us? We’re in Big Sur, and will be here for the next four days:
Hiking…good food…a few trips to the hotel spa…it’s basically heaven. I miss Lila a ton, but…well, maybe they can just send her out here and we can all stay?
Happy Spring Break!