Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mindfulness

I have found that in the past few weeks as I have been practicing mindfulness in every day, mundane situations, that life has gotten, well, more of a flow to it. A steady flow that has made everything I do so much more enjoyable and easier.


Not sure how much it's related, but my girls have gotten, overall, so much more even-keeled, as well. Not to say that they aren't without their moments, believe me, they have their moments!, but overall, it's been so much more enjoyable parenting them. Even in the tough moments. Even though Matt is going on week three of working late nights and we're facing several days with him being out of town later next month. They are still a joy. They play together without adult interference for longer stretches of time. They adore each other. They fight and they love. When I woke Iris up this morning so we could get out of the house bright and early to start our day, the first words out of her mouth were "where is Eloise?". I LOVE that. The other night we snuck them in to bed with each other and while they won't fall asleep together, they snuggled all night. Maybe we're on to something?

In being in the moment I'm also being mindful of where we are headed. To be sure, there are some monster, monster changes on our horizon. Buying our first home is a biggie. I am wanting to wean Eloise this summer, in addition to hoping she starts getting the idea about using the potty and sleeping in her own bed. Not pushing all of it at once, but I know the changes are coming. It can be a struggle to find the balance of where my head is going to be at any one moment, but being more mindful of the process is where I am now.

This can all be attributed to my new yoga class, which I adore to the millionth degree. Our teacher is reminding us to be in the moment, and I believe there is no more important time to be truly in the moment than when I am doing yoga. Giving that time to my mind and body helps to reinvigorate me for the rest of the week.

Besides my yoga class I've been exercising almost seven days a week. Being mindful in walking, which is my exercise of choice outside of yoga, has been helpful on a daily basis. I walk and enjoy the weather and sights and smells. I have been working on eating better, exercising more, eliminating some elements of my diet which aren't serving me, and I'm feeling the effects of it. The difficulty is that it is time consuming. Incorporating these changes in to my life has taken a huge chunk of time, but hopefully the benefits will be the payoff to make me continue long-term.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I've started a new blog!

So as to not overwhelm this blog with home buying chat, I've started a new blog.

Please come and visit The Unlikely's Buy a House! and comment, offer advice, and commiserate if you are able to. It's going to be alot of fun!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yoga, how I love thee!

I love my new yoga class. Wait, not just love, I luuuuurve it. It's one of those classes that when it's time to wind down in Savasana, I'm all like, "whaa?!?" and want it to go on for another hour even though the first hour kicked my butt.

I know I'm supposed to clear my mind during yoga, but it's hard. I think good thoughts while I'm doing yoga, damn good thoughts. I swear if I wasn't trying so hard to clear my mind I'd be solving world hunger and figuring out the financial crisis.

This week the weather has been absolutely gorgeous. I've gotten outside for walks each day so far and then also did my yoga tonight. Trying my hardest to get back in shape again! I did it once last year, I can do it again (and then this time make sure to not fall out of shape again!). I've been feeling good, though, so that alone is impetus to keep going with it. Again.

In addition to the exercise I am becoming slightly more conscious about what I'm putting in to my body. Overall I've been eating better, definitely nowhere near perfect, but better than I have been. I've been thinking more about the things I'm consuming that aren't serving me at all. Excess sugar, coffee and alcohol are three that I keep coming back to. One of the biggest/hardest for me is the alcohol. Since we are an alcohol-free household I don't actually drink that much, but maybe once a week I do. And I very much enjoy it! I have been finding, though, that I have developed a complete intolerance to it. No matter what it is-- wine, beer or liquor, it just isn't agreeing with me at all. Even after one drink I get a headache, tipsy and nauseous. I feel like I have a terrible hangover, only without getting to earn it! Not fair. But anyways, I am going to cut out alcohol for a while and see how it goes. The sugar will be hard to get rid of, but mostly I mean it to take out excess sugar in the form of sweets. And the coffee, well, I love my Starbucks, but I want to see how it changes my anxiety level. And it will surely save me some money!

Hopefully come warm weather my body will fit in to my summer clothes. We'll see!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Apologies all around

I wanted to apologize for anyone who was trying to read my blog and got a pop-up about Twitter. I had made my Twitter feed private a few weeks ago and it never occurred to me it would mess up my feed to my blog. I just took that feature off of the blog so if you were just soooo bummed to be missing my tweets, feel free to request a follow at http://twitter.com/mamamilkers.

Also, um, yeah, so you can see I haven't been posting any more than I was, despite my best intentions. We had a really busy week last week and then were out of town this weekend. Matt's job has been kicking his ass lately, which is really quite annoying. Why can't they just pay him the same amount and give him a cushy, easy job? Ha ha. Anyways, I've been considering myself lucky, not only to have an amazing husband who works so darn hard for his family, but also because we've been doing pretty good without having him around as much. I noticed the number one thing that affects how good our weeks are is how well the girls get along with each other. More and more they are getting along great but even those moments of fighting, wow, they really make everything seem so much harder to handle. So they've been my awesome little sidekicks while Matt works late nights and we're doing good. I should admit our meals have been less than stellar and our home isn't clean AT ALL, but we're having fun!
This past weekend we all went to visit my in-laws in Yakima, which is in central WA and is a desert. It is interesting, every time we make the drive over there, which is about 2 1/2 hours, I am always struck but the intense change of scenery. We got from a lush, green city, in to rolling green hills then through a mountain pass where the snow was piled up everywhere even though it was 62 degrees! Then back down out of the mountains and in to brown rolling hills and then in to Yakima, which is a flat, dry city surrounded by hills. We brought our dog this time, which we never have done before (we used to bring our other dog, Lily, but Heidi has never gone). Heidi and the girls just romped and screamed and enjoyed my in-laws back yard sooo much. It really made Matt and I realize that priority #1 in or new home is a yard. We have always known that, but just seeing them all play and being able to send them out back to run off some energy was fantastic.
I like our drives to Yakima because Matt and I often use the time to chat, dream about our future and occasionally reminisce about our past. This trip we talked alot about travelling. We had a really wonderful time travelling to Whidbey Island earlier this month and want to continue our trips as much as possible. It's difficult because right now we have that expendable income to use for things like that, but once we buy a house, all of that money will be going in to a mortgage every month. I am sure the trade-off will be that we will simply want to be home more, but it will be sad to be more tied down. We shared ideas about places we would like to visit and thoughts about travelling as the girls get older and more independent.
I brought my camera to Yakima, but can you believe I didn't get a single picture? Annoying. I really need a camera bag so I feel more comfortable toting my fancy camera around. Right now I throw it in my big purse, but then I'm so worried about wrecking it I don't take it around with me.
Which brings me to, I've made a little list of the things I am hoping might be considered as gifts for me for Mother's Day! Usually I don't do this, but right now I'm finding I have quite a list going :)
First up for consideration is a camera bag! This is a Crumpler Six Million Dollar Home bag. I like that it doesn't look like a camera bag.Next we have a new camera lens! This is the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens which is better for taking indoor shots with available light (or so I've read).







I also want to get a nice big ceramic bowl for bread baking, such as this one:




And would love a wooden board for kneading bread. Look at how neat this one is! It has edges!:

I also want a charm bracelet from Etsy, but haven't yet decided on the best one. There are so many that are completely amazing and perfect!

Allrighty, that's enough for today. I am formulating a post in my head looking for suggestions on what to do with Miss Eloise in terms of sleeping/nursing/potty training, but I'll save that for another day.



Sunday, April 12, 2009

This here blog

I really wish I was a better blogger. To be honest, my blog has been lacking in posts ever since I got in to Facebook. I use FB to just post random thoughts, pictures, articles, all kinds of things that are on my mind. I love to read other people's blogs that use it as a sort of brain dump space, so I might be trying to do that more.

We've been really busy. Matt is busy to the zillionth degree at work. So much so that he even went in to the office today, on Easter! Here is my new mantra: "being busy is job security". Since Matt is so busy, I am more busy at home just being mom and family manager. I've spent this past week just keeping up with everything and haven't been getting too many extra things done.

One thing I worked on this past week was that I have discovered two separate companies that have charging our credit card without "permission". Meaning, I am sure in the fine print somewhere they got my permission, but we were being charged monthly for some weird stuff that I definitely did not ever intend to authorize. It was a good lesson for me to watch our statements more closely.

Easter was okay. Yesterday we took the girls to an egg hunt at a toy store. It was brief, chaotic and I guess the girls had fun. We dyed eggs yesterday, as well, and Iris ate pretty much all of them by now! In the past we've always bought them Easter dresses. I just realized how much I missed shopping this year with my dear friend for Easter clothes for our kids. This year there were no dresses, no where to go to wear them! Iris did wonder aloud what the church in our town was going to look like, as she associates Easter with going to church. I let her know we wouldn't be going to church here, we only do that with Grandma, I think it made her a little sad!

Today the girls woke up and found their baskets and the rest of the day was a regular day. I keep going back and forth about the importance of creating more tradition and celebration on these holidays. The problem is, we're not religious. Why would we really celebrate Easter otherwise? I don't know. We do because our families did when we were growing up, I suppose.

The most exciting thing that has happened this week is that I attended the first of a series of yoga classes. It's the perfect class for me. A great teacher, a class of mamas, I really enjoyed it. I can't wait to go back again!

Another busy week coming up, as well. I am working two days in a row at Iris's school and have a parent meeting this week, too. Swimming lessons, art class, whew! Lots going on. Yes, Iris and Eloise both started a new swimming lesson this past week and Iris also started a new art class on a trial run. She really, really loved the class but it's really run more like a preschool with art than a full class of just art. I won't be re-enrolling her after the month is over (she doesn't need another preschool), but I will look in to finding another class that is more intensely art focused. I really want her to have the opportunity to explore more art forms that she doesn't get to at home or her school, hopefully we'll find the right place to do that!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Our Whidbey Island vacation!

Day One:

We arrived on Whidbey Island via the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry mid-afternoon on Monday. The vacation cottage we were staying in was just a quick drive from the ferry terminal, though we were a bit confused when we arrived as the cottage was set back on a "road" that was actually just mud-filled tire tracks over a stretch of grass. I was amazed this address even existed on a map!

The cottage had a true cottage feel, which was perfect. We settled in, unpacking groceries and other items as the girls dug in to the toys that we had saved especially for this trip. Legos, a bead set and puzzles were quickly strewn everywhere. No biggie, we were on vacation!

Matt, Eloise and Heidi (our dog) headed off for the beach while I dug in to a pile of magazines provided at the cottage. After their jaunt we set to work making dinner-- tortellini, italian sausages, red peppers and garlic bread. After dinner we headed off in search of a grocery store to pick up a few things. On our way we made a little detour in to Langley before stopping at the store. We headed back to the cottage and settled in to a night of jiffy pop, jelly beans and a family viewing of Madagascar. The girls thought they would like to sleep together that night, but after about 45 minutes of messing around I took Eloise to another bedroom.


Starting out the trip with Legos.


In the living room was a cute hanging lamp and a vintage map of the islands of Puget Sound.


The kitchen of the cottage.



Iris enjoying herself!


Day Two:

Sadly, the girls woke up at their usual time despite going to bed much later than normal. Ah, well. I made the girls pancakes (well, I cheated, I brought frozen pancakes I had made previously) and covered them in whipped cream and strawberries. We all got showered and dressed and then headed out for a family beach excursion. It was surprising to see how high the tide was compared to the afternoon before! There was just a sliver of beach for us to walk on, and Heidi enjoyed romping around in the sand. The rest of us were a bit put off by the crazy wind! It was sunny but super, super windy.

After the beach we relaxed, ate, then headed off to play at a park we had found the day before on the way to Langley. Still incredibly windy, but we all raced around, kicking a soccer ball and playing with Heidi. Iris and I discovered a small pasture of sheep on the other side of the park and Iris sat at the fence and "baaaaaa-ed" at them. Slowly but surely one made it's way over by us, it was so cute!

After the park we ventured out a bit and wound our way through some adorable little areas of homes by the water. We were struck by the tsunami evacuation route signs on the roads out of these areas. I had no idea! We also picked up an island map-- very helpful.

We came home, relaxed some more (it was vacation after all!) and then I made a trip to the beach before dinner with Eloise. The tide was much, much lower by then and we found lots of cool shells and rocks to look at. Eloise kept calling the buoys "gooeys" and man, it was so cute, I stopped correcting her pretty quickly. We also found a starfish that had washed up on the shore! From our cottage and from the beach we had a great view of the ferries making their way back and forth from Mukilteo to Clinton. I especially loved that we had a great view of the mainland. At night I loved seeing the lights.

Matt cooked up some brats on the grill that night, which were sooo delicious. After dinner we made a stop at Dairy Queen, which was advertising my very-- favorite mint oreo blizzards. It was also kind of bizarre that there were few businesses around there, but they had a DQ! We went on a drive with our ice cream, heading further south down Humphrey Road, which was the main road where our cottage was just off of. The road ends at Glendale Road, about a mile or two south of where were staying. It was a lovely view and had a few houses down there on the water, as well. I found out today that yesterday there was a huge mudslide there wiping out the road and wrecking some homes. So sad. HERE is a link to the news story, some photos and some video of the area.

Home again, we ate more popcorn and watched Wall-E. We actually watched very little tv while we were there, but enjoyed family movies! After a bit more bedtime issues, that night I took both girls with me in to the king sized bed so we could all get some sleep.


The girls started the morning by digging in to the Legos.



The blue one is the cottage we stayed in.


This cottage was a neighbor to the one we were in. It appeared to be abandoned. I thought it was so cool looking!


Iris walking down to the beach.


Eloise testing the limits of the height of her boots. Needless to say, we changed her socks quite often while we were on vacation!


We were pretty sure Heidi enjoyed herself about ten times more than anyone else! Most days combined her love of being off-leash and running in the sand.


Here is the view south on the beach of the Clinton ferry terminal. This gives a good perspective of how high the tide was mid-morning.


The girls digging in the sand.


Not quite sure what Eloise was doing here. Hmmm . . .




Playing soccer at the park.



Oops, not so happy after all.



Happy again on the swing!


Heidi enjoyed some soccer playing, too!


The sheep we met.


The girls rolling Matt down the hill at the park.


Later that same day, at about 5:00, the tide was much further out. It allowed for much more interesting exploration of the beach!


Eloise exploring.


The two ferries crossing the Puget Sound-- one going west and one going east.


Eloise and Heidi on the beach.


A piece of sea glass we found.


A starfish we found washed up on the beach.


Eloise decided to send the starfish back to the sea.


The girls pretending to be snoozing on the couch at the cottage.

Day Three:

On Wednesday we woke up to rain. We spent the morning being lazy (I probably had devoured about 15 magazines by that point!) and playing Killer Bunnies and then headed out to find a yummy lunch in Langley. It did not disappoint! We randomly found The Braeburn and holy mother of god, Matt ordered the best sandwich I might have ever eaten. It was the pot roast sandwich. I will dream about it forever. Great service, amazing food, and even a kid's menu complete with Shirley Temples! After grabbing some coffee across the street we headed northwest to South Whidbey Island State Park. The girl's school is having a group camp there this summer and we thought it would be fun to scout the area out. We were the only ones there and took a fun little hike down to the water front. Eloise, ever the no-fear adventurer, immediately went right up the water every time we were on the beach. Iris, not so much. The water terrified her, she was sure it would swallow us whole. Maybe we shouldn't have talked so much about tsunamis?

After SWISP we headed south to Double Bluff beach, as when we were at the state park there was a map indicating that it was an off-leash area for dogs. It was gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Iris refused to get out of the car when we got there, so Matt stayed in the car with her. The tide was very low so the beach was expansive. I was surprised at the kite boarders who were out despite the cold and rainy weather! Eloise and I explored and found a bunch of tiny, dead crabs. Heidi was thrilled when another playful dog showed up. I sent Eloise back to the car because she was shivering and to my surprise Iris came out and was feeling brave about the water (though it was several hundred feet out) and also about touching the (dead) crabs!

We headed back to the cottage and had a dinner of random stuff so we could get things eaten up and not have to drag them back to Seattle. After dinner there was more relaxing and Matt and Eloise ran to the store for a couple more things. Iris and I did her big puzzle while they were gone and discovered there was eight pieces missing. The hunt for the missing pieces took a while!

That night we divided the girls up yet again, Matt slept with Eloise and I slept with Iris.


Iris enjoying her Shirley Temple at The Braeburn.


On the beach at South Whidbey Island State Park.


On the beach.


On the beach.


Eloise wishing she could swim.


One of the many dead crabs we found in tide pools at Double Bluff park.


On the beach at Double Bluff Park.
Day Four:

On Thursday it was time to head back home, but we still had some plans for the day! We woke up (I got to sleep in that day. Ahhh . . . ) and slowly started packing/cleaning up for our departure. Eloise and I took one last trip to the beach and we were excited to find a bunch of beach glass that morning.

We decided to get back home by driving north through the length of the island, crossing Deception Pass to the mainland, then driving back south on the interstate. We were excited to see the whole island and the girls and I had never seen Deception Pass before. The drive wasn't as long as we thought (due to a map that I found misleading in it's dimension) and we got up to Deception Pass in time to eat some lunch and play a bit on the beach. Not long after we left it started raining again and the rest of the drive home was unremarkable and, well, kind of long.

Overall, the trip was really amazing and I swear I could have stayed there forever. I certainly have spent my fair share of time online looking for a beach house to buy and use as a rental/vacation house. Clearly we couldn't live there as Matt's commute would be like 3 hours each way-- ha ha. I had a hard time with my allergies, I think mostly due to how old and dusty the cottage was. As soon as we got in the car to leave I stopped sneezing.

We also struggled quite a bit with the girls, mostly Iris. She was sassy to the extreme for most of the trip. We had a very, very hard time with her. I am not sure why, honestly. So frustrating. I think she had a really fun time being there, though. There were a few things that we forced her to do that she didn't want to, like, oh, go to the beach, but besides that we didn't do anything that wasn't super kid-friendly. Maybe just a stage she is going through? She was using LOTS of "potty talk", calling all of us "stupid" if anything at all didn't go exactly how she wanted and of course, her favorite was saying she hated us. Lots of spitting in the car, too, which drives us crazy. Eloise is typically fine, other than occasional tantrums, but she does emulate her sister quite a bit, so she modelled alot of the same behavior, unfortunately.

Having lunch at Deception Pass State Park.

Eloise wants to throw the biggest rocks in to the water that she can lift!

Carrying it to the water . . . .

And . . . throw!

A heart rock that Eloise found.

Climbing on some barnacle-covered rocks on the beach.

Checking some things out in the pools of water in the rocks.


Fascinated.

Iris on the logs.