Monday, June 29, 2015

Weekending

It has been hot, hot, HOT out here in Seattle!
 
I can't ever remember experiencing a heat wave like this before, at least not so early in the summer.
 
Stew took off for a bachelor party in Eastern Washington last weekend, where he planned to golf in the 109 degree heat. That practically gives me a stroke just thinking about it...
 
Ryder and I stuck around home and kept ourselves occupied by spending time with friends and trying to avoid sunstroke.
 
$10 on a plastic kiddie pool may be the best money I've ever spent.
 
 
 
 
As per usual, Cailin and Charlie came over and spent Friday afternoon with us, and the littles had a blast cooling off in the pool on our patio.

 
My life sure has changed over the past couple years. Not so long ago I would have spent the entire afternoon in a bikini, spread out on a lawn chair, slathered in tanning oil, with a cocktail in one hand and a fashion magazine in the other. That is, if I wasn't out boating and beer bonging somewhere.
 
But these days I'm completely content to spend a few hours with one of my besties while we slather on the sunscreen and watch our children splash their cares away. Days like these remind of magical childhood summers.
 
 
Then, on Saturday, Ryder and I headed to Lake Tapps for a special welcome home party at Brett and Haley's house.
 
Ryder just about died and went to heaven when he saw all the doggies who also came to the party. This kid loves animals, it's crazy!
 

 
Even though we didn't go swimming, somehow just being near the lake made the day seem cooler. Ryder had a blast playing with canine and human friends alike, and I got to have half of an adult conversation here and there (in between chasing my son around, attempting to keep him from eating dirt).
 
If only he would just sit, playing quietly for a while.

 
Don't be fooled... that scene lasted for approximately 2.5 seconds...
 
 

 
After a long weekend in the sun, we were definitely ready to enjoy some cuddle time in our nice air conditioned house while we waited for Daddy to come home.
 
Ryder and I had a super fun weekend together, but I always miss it when we don't get to spend time as a family.
 
 
Have you guys seen the forecast lately for the PNW?
It's going to be in the 90s for the foreseeable future... say what?!?
 
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love hot weather, but I wouldn't mind a break here and there — Plus I'm going to go broke trying to keep my lawn green in this heat.
 
What are you doing to stay cool this summer?
 
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Book Club: Wild

I put off reading this book for a really long time.
 
I don't know why — it was amazing!
 
My book club read it at the end of 2013, when I was too bogged down with labor and delivery literature to focus on anything else. But for whatever reason, I kept it on my future reading list. I can't imagine why, because a book about wilderness backpacking is about the last thing I'd ever want to read.
 
However, when I recently saw the previews for Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon, I found myself really wanting to see the movie. I have a rule about always reading the book before seeing the movie, and I seemed to remember some fellow book club members singing the book's praises, so with slight trepidation I dusted off Wild and began.

I was hooked by the end of the very first page.

 Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, is a memoir by Cheryl Strayed. When she was 22, her mother died unexpectedly after a short battle with cancer. Four years later, with her family scattered and her own marriage in ruins, Strayed made the impulsive decision to hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. She set out totally alone, with no previous experience or training.

   Wild is the story of Strayed's incredible journey, through which she ultimately finds healing.

I thought this story was incredibly powerful and inspiring. Strayed is a brilliant author. I loved her voice, her brutal honesty, and the beautiful and engaging way she writes. Although I didn't always like her as a person, I appreciated her inner strength and perseverance. She kept going, alone, against what sometimes seemed like impossible odds.

The story shifts between Strayed's adventures on the Pacific Crest Trail and reflective stories from her past. Normally I get bored with books that are overly descriptive, but I actually loved the details Strayed provided about the trail and the people she met along the way.

Anyone who enjoys reading about hiking, nature, or self-discovery would probably enjoy this book. Typically, I don't seek out any of those genres, but I still loved Wild. Strayed is an amazing story teller with an incredibly unique voice. I enjoyed every single page of this book and was super disappointed when it was over.

Now I can't wait to see the movie!
 
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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ryder's First Mariners Game

Stewart is such an amazing dad, so I really wanted to surprise him with something fun for Father's Day. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for Ryder's first Mariners game.
 
It was also Youth Baseball Day at Safeco Field, which meant we were able to take Ryder down to walk around the field, check out the dugouts, and even see some of the players as they warmed up.
 
It was a gorgeous day — perfect to be out at the ball game.
 

 


 
It was a big day for Ryder, and he was pretty tuckered out by the end. The game was also incredibly long, so he ended up taking a nap for a few innings later in the afternoon.
 
 
The M's didn't end up winning, unfortunately, and I don't particularly remember much of the game. Taking a toddler to a professional sporting event is always a challenge, but we did have a lot of fun despite spending the afternoon trying to keep Ryder under control. This is why I have no photos from during the actual game — I was too busy trying to stop Ryder as he attempted to eat sunflower seeds off the ground under our seats, bang his cup on the heads of the gentlemen in front of us, and go running down the steep cement steps in our section.
 
It was a bit of a juggling act.
 
I think Stew still had a good time though, and I hope he felt appreciated, because Ryder and I truly do think he's the best dad out there, and we can't imagine our lives without him. 
 
 
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd

I think I've mentioned before how I'm kind of a nerd.

I have a bachelor's degree in Journalism with a minor in English from WWU, where I worked as a copy editor for our campus newspaper and as managing editor of the school's quarterly magazine. Upon graduating, I worked as a reporter for two different newspapers before shifting career paths. But I'm still a "journa-nerd," and I devour books like it's going out of style.

Reading is my very favorite hobby.

I can probably still quote things out of the AP Stylebook, and I consult a dictionary or thesaurus on the daily.

I proofread every single thing I read — emails, blogs, Facebook status updates, billboards, office memos, text messages. As I read, I silently judge and mentally redline each and every word.

I am a huge Grammar Nerd.

So I found it amusing when I recently read about a new study profiling five million of my fellow Grammar Nerds.

I think at least some of you may find the results of this study as interesting as I did...  

Anatomy of a Grammar Nerd Infographic

I am a college-educated woman, but I'm older than the 18-24 year old range, I'm not single, and I don't work in the education, library, or healthcare fields. But I do live in an area that houses the largest percentage of Grammar Nerds in the country.

I hate the word "irregardless," but I love the proper use of a semi-color in modern writing. However, I can't tell you how much I loathe the Oxford comma. It just needs to die.

So maybe I'm not as much of a Grammar Nerd as I originally thought. How about you?

Do you fit the anatomy of a Grammar Nerd?

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Book Club: While the Gods Were Sleeping

I recently finished While the Gods Were Sleeping: A Journey Through Love and Rebellion in Nepal as part of my book club.
 
Shortly before I started reading it, a massive earthquake hit Nepal, killing more than 8,800 people and injuring more than 23,000. My thoughts immediately went to my Nepali friend and co-worker, because many of her loved ones are still living in Nepal. Luckily, her village was largely spared and she didn't lose anyone close to her. But the devastation in Nepal still occupied my thoughts as I read this book.
 
While the Gods Were Sleeping is a memoir by anthropologist Elizabeth Enslin. Love and marriage led her to a life among Brahman in-laws in a remote village in the plains of Nepal, where she faced the challenges of married life, birth and childrearing in a foreign culture during increasing political turmoil.
 
If only the book had been as interesting as that brief synopsis makes it sound.
 
I really wanted to like this book, and I kept reading to the bitter end despite wanting to give it up about a third of the way through. Although I found some sections about the Nepali culture quite fascinating, the vast majority of it read like a research paper. And when Enslin's voice did come through, it was that of a whiny, spoiled, self-indulgent woman who had no true appreciation of this tremendous opportunity as an anthropologist (and a mother).

I was very interested in the tales of pregnancy and delivery, women's issues, domestic violence, harsh living conditions, and the various cultural restrictions for women in Nepal. The constant battles between men and women, cultural and religious expectations and the caste system in general really reminded me to appreciate the freedoms and choices we have here in America.

I preferred the parts of the book where Enslin shared snippets of emotion and real life in Nepal. But unfortunately these were brief sections in between ones that were heavy in political and anthropological notes where she ventured deep into the research and less into the stories, so I ended up skimming a lot. 
 
I was also disappointed that there wasn't some sort of update at the end of the book related to the many members of Enslin's husband's family. The story ends in the early 1990s, and I'm curious to know how their lives unfolded. Even a brief epilogue would have been nice.

 Enslin was presented with the unique life opportunity to fully immerse herself into Nepali culture, but in my opinion she wasted it. I disliked her writing style and did not have much respect for her as a person, so this book was not for me.

I'd still love to visit Nepal someday though, and my thoughts are with those who are dealing with the aftermath of the country's recent tragedy.
 
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Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Secrets To Our Marriage

"Happiness in marriage is not just something that happens. A good marriage must be created. The little things are, many times, the big things."  Alway Wedding Ceremony, March 17, 2012


I think many people have the expectation that after the fairy tale wedding day is over, happy couples kick up their feet and ride the waves of hot monogamy off into the sunset. But in reality, marriage is hard, hard, hard work. It takes faithful, committed, selfless work, often in the middle of a boring routine.

Three years later, Stewart and I are still each other's favorite person. Most days. We miss each other when we're apart and can't get enough when we're together. Usually.

But we work at our marriage.

Every. Single. Day.

These are some of our recommendations on how to make marriage the fairy tale you always dreamed it would be. Or at least keep you from killing each other.

Don't get married until you're sure of who you are. 
Marry someone you love exactly as they are, and be sure they feel the same. That way, you'll never expect more of each other than you are each able to give.
 
Get to know each other.
Live together (and sleep together) before you get married. Physical connection is one of the most important aspects of marriage, so confirm that you are sexually compatible with your partner before you commit yourselves to each other forever. And after you're married... 

Have lots of sex.
Even if you don't feel like it; do it anyway. I can't express the importance of connecting with your spouse on a physical level enough. My theory about sex is the same as my thoughts on the gym: Sometimes you just really, really don't want to go. But you always feel great afterward, and you never regret going. Just do it.
 
Share a common dream.
It's important to be able to talk openly about where you both see yourselves in the future. Where you want to live, choices of jobs and locations, decisions about religion and having children and whether to work full-time, part-time, or not at all — these are issues that should be addressed early and often.
 
Commit. 
Anything worth doing is worth doing right. We're in it for life, and never think of divorce as an option. Almost all problems are short-term.

Take pride in your appearance.
Looking and feeling good is a recipe for a good sex life (see above) and a good marriage. And shouldn't you try to look your best for the person you love most in the world? Don't make excuses — take an extra five minutes each day to spruce up for your spouse.

Close the door.
Seriously... Keep bathroom activities private. There's no reason to pee with the door open. Personal, intimate activities like clipping your toenails, popping zits, and flossing should be reserved for private times. Preserve the romance and mystery in your relationship — it's just another key to having a great sex life!

Merge your finances.
In our opinion, having separate bank accounts opens the door to selfishness. Married couples should put the family before their individual selves, and one of the best ways to do that is to combine all assets and liabilities. This "we're in it together" mentality provides the foundation for mutual trust and shared goals.

Don't trash talk your spouse.
Throwing out complaints, highlighting flaws, expressing displeasure and airing your grievances in public is incredibly detrimental to a marriage. Selfishly letting out pent up resentment might feel good in the moment, but this is private stuff, and it should be reserved to work out in the privacy of your own home. And on that note... 

Never argue in public.
Take it home to a calmer, more discreet surrounding. A couple arguing in public is embarrassing to watch, and it invites judgment about your relationship that your friends and family members may struggle to let go of in the future (long after the two of you have kissed and made up). Which brings me to... 

Keep out external influences.
Family and friends typically have your best interests at heart, but if you're not careful they can push themselves too far into your personal relationship, wanting a say in certain situations and decisions. If a person is really committed to helping you, they will let you handle your own problems.

Dump people.
As for those people who have a negative effect on your marriage? Cut them out. Felicia may have been your best friend since grade school, but your spouse is your first priority now, and if Felicia can't accept and support that, she can just hope the door doesn't hit her ass on the way out. Bye, Felicia.
 
Take time before you have children.
Nothing can completely prepare you for becoming a parent, and the experience will test your marriage in ways you never imagined. Having a tiny human means leaving your past life and former selves behind. Your relationship is bound to change, so take time to enjoy each other while you're still young and energetic (and before your conversations start to revolve around someone else's poop).
 
Spend time without your children.
Spending quality time with your kids is imperative, but setting aside alone time with your spouse is equally important. Take time to re-connect, enjoy, and appreciate each other, because amidst the shuffle of diapers, chores, errands, bills and careers, it's easy to lose sight of why you fell in love in the first place.
 
Divide up the household chores.
Responsibilities around the house should be shared. Welcome to the modern world. Discuss chores and household duties and then set priorities as a couple, dividing up the work and creating reasonable expectations. Communicate — let each other know when you're having a busy week, and ask for help when you need it. But no matter what, be flexible and don't nag!
 
Compromise
Put your marriage above your personal preferences. Strive to maintain an open mind. You don't have to agree with everything your spouse says or believes, but you need to be honestly open to at least considering their position. Sometimes I yield to make my husband happy, but he often does the same for me. A marriage is about give and take.
 
Keep separate lives. 
Miss each other. Spend time apart. Not all the time, but occasionally. Life is about constant personal growth. Continue to feed your passions, learn life lessons and engage in activities that make you happy as an individual. Even couples in the happiest of relationships share different hobbies.
 
Trust each other. 
Trust is probably the most important ingredient in building an intimate relationship between husband and wife. We don't have secrets and maintain total openness in our relationship (of course making exceptions for some private areas — see "Close the door" above).
 

So, do I have the number one secret to a happy marriage?
 
No.
 
We all know those couples who, even after years together, still can't seem to get enough of each other. I don't believe that marriage is a fairy tale. It requires effort on many levels, by both parties, almost every single day. But like most things that require hard work, the rewards ultimately outweigh any hardships or drawbacks.
 
I'm not sure how my marriage looks from the outside, but I can assure you that I'm just as in love with my husband today as I was when we got married.
 
It helps that he's super hot...
 

"Openness, honesty, understanding and a mutual need to be together has brought us here. Those same qualities of living will continue to hold us securely together, and help us in our times of hardship. Together we have learned some of the lessons of life and the gifts of love. We will learn much more as our life together as husband and wife unfolds." 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Bookroo


800 million people around the world cannot read or write, and many families (even some schools) have no books for children to read. As an extreme book nerd, this makes me so sad.

Reading is fundamental in today's society. Words (spoken and written) are the building blocks of life. They help us learn new things and develop the imagination.

Passing on my love of reading to Ryder has always been high on our list of priorities. Luckily he hasn't fought us on this at all...

The kid LOVES books.

He searches them out all over the house and carries them to the closest adult begging to be read to. He's definitely my child.

So needless to say, I was thrilled when I learned about Bookroo, a book subscription service for children.


Each month, they deliver an eco-friendly recycled box filled with 2-3 specially selected books.

Their mission is to enable and empower parents and caregivers to build their libraries in an affordable, enjoyable, and stress-free way. They believe in the power of the written word, and that it's never too early to begin reading to a child.

LOVE.

Of course I signed up immediately, and Ryder and I were so excited to receive our very first Bookroo package.

Opening it was so much fun!





This is such an adorable little subscription service, and a family-run business that I'm happy to support. I encourage you to give it a try! Bookroo boxes make wonderful individual or even group baby shower gifts, and are a great way to give someone a monthly reminder of your love.
to receive 20% off your first month's subscription!

It's Ryderoo approved, and we're sure you won't be disappointed! 


“There are many little ways to enlarge your world.  Love of books is the best of all.” — Jacqueline Kennedy

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