Life…getting current edition

We are back in Vermont! It’s been two months since we touched down back at home base, and finally summer is unleashing its glory upon us. Florida was an amazing adventure; we were grateful to have the time we had there and the friendships we forged.

It is good to be home though. Summer Solstice was yesterday, and after what was a blustery morning, the afternoon opened up to beautiful blue skies and sunlight. Trevor had been away for a week and a half on a work trip and came home in the evening. I will say one thing for having a spouse who is often away-it really does make you appreciate them all the more, and he has said it makes him appreciate his family, home, and life.

A couple of things:

Levi is finished with preschool! He will be forging a new path at the next town over doing the Spanish Immersion Program, so his kindergarten class will be completely in Spanish! I’m trying to brush up with Duolingo. We loved his preschool program here in our town and it’s been hard knowing we are leaving this amazing school, but we have high hopes.

He came home from FL and transitioned right back into his former classroom like nothing had changed. It was such an incredible dynamic to witness; it was a great group of littles. Of course, I’m fairly certain he had the best preschool teacher in the world (who sadly won’t be Silas’ teacher-she’s moving to Vietnam to teach!) and she fostered such a wonderful, engaging, and nurturing environment the last two years. I am forever grateful that he had this time to set a foundation for his learning. He did finally (after three months) get into the premier area preschool in FL, and it was a change of pace, but he also thrived there as well. Sometimes he voices that he misses his friends he made in FL; it’s part of the military kid lifestyle. I am continually amazed at the gains he’s made this year and how well he’s weathered all the changes. I know ultimately this is good because he is learning to deal with the curveballs and nuances of life, and this will serve him well as we transition to Spanish Kindergarten and beyond. Love my boy.

Silas is now three years old, and officially potty trained! I am so proud of him for all the work he’s put into being a “big boy.” We celebrated his birthday at the end of our tenure in FL at the beach; it was a perfect day. As per his request, it was a “monster” themed birthday. We were gifted a sunny (albeit windy) day, and two of his little friends whose daddys are also part of the Southern VT contingent joined us for cupcakes and frolicking in the sand. He must have sensed the changes brewing, as the next couple weeks right before/after the move came with some behavioral challenges, but he overcame. The potty training came naturally, after numerous false starts from the time he turned two. I’ve come to realize this sort of thing has to be on their terms. Once it clicked though, it clicked, and he’s been proudly wearing his undies since.

He is also starting preschool next year, which I just can’t believe. Time has flown. I still remember like it was yesterday my tough/scary/stressful pregnancy/birth with him and I marvel at what a strong, healthy, curious kid he has grown to be. He thrives in his gymnastics class and loves to climb and help me in the kitchen with any task I’m willing to delegate. He still thinks Levi is the coolest person in the world, and emulates whatever his big brother is doing while still maintaining his independent attitude and outlook. He isn’t afraid to hold back what he feels. This three year old boy, who loves with all he has, has my heart.

Trevor finished up his F-35 training. Onto transition period! This means since there are no jets here that he has to go TDY once a month to stay current on flight hours. Honestly, it’s not too different from before we went along with him to his TX/IPUG, and it’s more an issue of finding the rhythm again which I’ve found has gotten harder as the boys become older and more aware. I find the key to be to keep us as busy as possible, as well as staying the course and sticking to routine! If we deviate things get messy.

We got some chicks. Initially we had 6 pullets from the feed store….without going into detail, 5 of the 6 met an untimely end. We then decided to keep the surviving pullet and get more chicks. This led us on a quest to an obscure village in central VT, where we paid $50 bucks for 10 Icelandic chicks. Apparently these little guys are half wild. They come in all kinds of different colors and feather styles…they are a landrace, bred for their traits, not looks. They love to forage their food and roost in trees. We’ve had them about a month now and they are pretty cool looking, though skittish. Trevor built a solid coop. I’m going into this knowing nothing is predator proof, and also that we may have to cull some roosters…we plan to keep one or two, but we will see what the numbers are as the chicks mature. The homestead life!

It’s the first year the gardens and yard are starting to come around. Plants I bought a few years ago are beginning to get bigger, and I’ve been cultivating a vision for our yard which is slowly beginning to crystallize. While we still have a long way to go, it feels good to see hard work paying off.

We plan to mostly hang around this summer. We have some weddings to attend, some house projects to accomplish, and a sweet fort to build for the boys. While we are enjoying these days, we also know winter is around the corner…it is VT after all! I am looking forward to the river trips, hiking, sun, and those slow, lazy, sunny days that encapsulate the summer vibes. We are savoring this beautiful season while it lasts.

 

Adieu 2018, bonjour 2019!

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m feeling fresh. I wanted to write down some of my goals and resolutions for 2019, and some reflections on this past year.

To recap: 2018 was good to us overall, and busy! The boys have grown so much physically and also mentally, and their personalities blossom more each day. I’ve been working to better my photography skills, and realizing that I need to have creativity in my life, whether it’s through photography, art endeavors, crafts, sewing-and that the kiddos too love to be included in these pursuits (for the most part, they get tired of the Mamarazzi). I got on the substitute teaching list for our local school district, and ran my first 10K with Trevor. I joined the local gym here in FL and plan to continue this wellness endeavor with more gusto in the coming year. I’ve been doing yoga more regularly again for the first time in years, and it feels great. Trevor had a busy year as well, culminating with his final flight with the F-16 after 12 years and now our move to FL for his F-35 TX.

In February we spent a weekend in Phoenix for my brother’s wedding, and then spent the majority of the winter skiing with the kids. Both boys got on skis for the early 2018 season which was pretty cool. Levi was raging all on his own, going up the T-Bar and down every trail. Silas was skiing the Mighty Mite and even did some runs at Jay Peak with his dad. Our driveway washed out completely in early spring, and it was pretty devastating. A freak flash flood (more than an inch of rain in under an hour) cascaded down the hill and the driveway became a raging river, and all the material was washed away down to the landscape fabric. Luckily, we have amazing neighbors and friends, who helped us out to make it accessible again quickly.

We spent most of the summer working on house projects and getting ready for our move.  The boys spent their days outside playing and exploring with friends, or at Gretchen’s where all the big kids were out of school which is always a fun time for them. We (by we mostly Trevor) completed quite a few projects on the house-Trevor built the woodshed, sand shack and new stairs and railings for the front porch which we painted, we expanded my garden and built brand new raised beds out of hemlock and a cedar post fence encircling it, planted some apple trees and berry bushes, poured a cement foundation in the garage and downstairs mud room, added a fire pit, and smoothed out the main yard area. Trevor also got a backhoe which he had been eyeing for quite some time.

We did family camp at Camp Ohana in August, which was a perfect finish to a summer replete with swimming at the river, hanging out with friends, Lake Monsters games, and attempting to backyard camp (Levi and Trevor successful; Alana and Silas not so much). It was a great time and we would love to go back and do it again someday when the kiddos are older. After that we kicked our butts into gear and got ready for the FL move. So far, we are enjoying the warmth and beach access. We only have a few more months and back to VT we go. We drove down to St. Petersburg for Christmas to spend with Trevor’s 92 year old Grams, and I would say it was worth the long drive to see her face watching the kiddos open gifts Christmas morning. She confided that she never thought she’d see little boys have Christmas again. I do not think we will be driving to Orlando for a Disneyworld trip however; nine hours with a two and five year old and almost 10 year old dog is no easy feat as it turns out.

Right now they are watching Avengers, Levi is boogered out, and Silas just woke from a nap. Trevor is hunting, I’m getting dinner going. This is NYE 2018 and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Silas’ major development was speech-it has really taken off and now he’s a chatterbox, telling stories, using his imagination, and going on adventures with his big brother whom he adores. He is always following in Levi’s footsteps, and especially with our move, an incredibly close bond has really come into fruition between them. He skied for the first time in January; it’s bittersweet because we feel he really would have taken off this winter back home, but it is what it is. He finally gets to do gymnastics (Mommy and Me style) and is now somersaulting everywhere. He had his second birthday in March, and we celebrated by inviting his own friends from Gretchen’s for pizza and cake, and it was a good day indeed-little toddlers with playdough, music, and just hanging out. He is really into superheroes and beating bad guys like his big brother, and enjoys Mama School time, even though morning meeting is just not something he can be still for. He loves to ask “Are you my Mommy” because he loves to hear me respond “Always your Mommy,” then tells me he is always my Silas and he “lubs” me. He wakes up every day when the sun comes up and tells Trevor and I if we aren’t up that it’s morning time. He’s our rough and tumble wild man, and this year has really grown so much. With him being our last, it’s bittersweet but awesome (another of his current favorite words) to think that this child is thriving after his rough start in life with ISO.

Levi is also burgeoning, and is always examining, making connections, and now using his brainpower (for better or worse) to push his limits and see what he can and can’t do. He loves to be outside and explore nature. This year he skied all by himself from the T-Bar all the way down the mountain, and had a great season spanning from January to April. He really misses skiing right now and says he prefers snow to the rainy warm winter season here in FL, but enjoys going to Rocky Bayou and going on trails. He learned how to ride his bike sans training wheels at Camp Ohana, and has really taken off here with all the biking paths. He had his first season of T-Ball this year starting in May and ending in June, which was a great experience for him. Trevor has been working with him and now he can catch and hit a ball without a tee! Plus one for a mild winter sans snow. We are continuing gymnastics in Florida and he also does soccer. He ended his soccer summer camp with a smash kick into the goal! He also had his first day camp at the Audubon center, and then a Gretchen summer. He finished his first year of preschool in June, and began his second year in August with Ms. Arielle. He really misses his class since we moved but he gets to rejoin upon our return in the spring. Thankfully his teacher has reached out and we have been able to Facetime a story which has helped ease the transition here. He longs to learn how to read and so we are starting a basic phonics program when Silas naps on our Mama School days. Sometimes he has a hard time handling his anger; we are working on strategies to temper his temper. He is a very emotive child and feels with all his might, for better or for worse. We ended our time this past year in Vermont with his fifth birthday party, which was a Megalodon shark theme, at his request. His grandmother made a 30 ft long Megalodon for the kiddos to play inside and it was a hit. It was a great party, and we were able to hang out by the fire and enjoy time with friends before our Florida sojourn, a perfect celebration of Levi, fall, and the community we have found. He discovered superheroes this year and that’s been the theme for a few months now-he loves to dress up as whoever his current fav is (Batman for Halloween, Captain America the past few days, Spiderman, Power Rangers, he loves them all) I can’t believe how far this kid has come and I am relishing the time I’ve had with him as of late. He is so curious and loves to build-legos, blocks, cardboard, you name it; we may have a future engineer on our hands. He still loves Mama snuggles. I wonder how many more years we have of that.

So after recapping my year I’d like to make a few resolutions-my husband always says they must be tangible so-

  1. Make 2019 my year of wellness in all health domains-less wine, less screen time, more presence with my kiddos, more exercise, and more awareness of my food choice/intake
  2. Being present with my family-so less screen time, less distraction, more patience, less nagging, more connection
  3. Sewing resolutions: a quilt for each boy, a couple timeless garments for myself (maxi skirt, shift dress, tee), shorts/pants and shirt combo for boys
  4. Better my photography-take courses, shoot every day, allow for critique, build portfolio, start business

Happy 2019 everyone!

Mama School: Our Ventures in Preschooling at Home-Setup Edition

Mama School is what the monkeys have dubbed our preschool at home. It’s definitely been an undertaking but in the long run my hope is that it fosters more connection between the monkeys and myself, and instills in them a love of learning through play and delving deeper into their own questions and interests about the world around us.

Back home in Vermont, Monkey One attends a wonderful preschool program through our local elementary school, and Monkey Two goes two mornings a week to the home of the best daycare provider in the world for socializing, learning, and fun. Upon our return in the spring, they will get back into those programs, but while here in Florida, I’ve decided to work with them at home, for structure and to give some routine to our days, as I have been unable to find programs that I feel comfortable sending them to here, not that they don’t exist, but we got here after the start of school and there are waitlists abound that will never budge.

Any who, this post is for anyone who is curious about our set-up. We are renting a furnished two bedroom home, so with space being a precious commodity, I had to temporarily disband what was a formal dining room and designate it as our “classroom.” We never would have eaten there-fancy plush chairs were not made for little sticky fingers as it turns out, so those went into the garage, fancy oriental rug was rolled up, and the table itself pushed against the wall and currently serves as a shelf for our supplies. ***Start digression***Actual shelves would have been nice, but hey, we are only here for six months, I attempted to set up an inexpensive cubby shelf from Target, let’s just say it was cheap for a reason, and after what was really a lovely interaction with their guest services, was promptly trashed. ***End digression***So, we have fabric bins and baskets full of blocks, centers, toys, and manipulatives hanging out on the floor so the monkeys can access them. You do what you have to do.

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Ikea has an amazing and inexpensive line of children’s playroom furniture. I spent less than $150 for two tables, chairs, an easel, rug, and a couple of craft supplies. My biggest complaint is that the dry erase feature on the easel isn’t magnetic which is small potatoes. Also, the build quality isn’t made to withstand extreme forces of nature or abuse-it’s just soft pine and particle board but for the price and what it is, it should last long enough. My favorite is the FLISAT table, which was also the most expensive piece, at $49. You can purchase TROFAST tubs which fit underneath for storage, or sensory bins. I bought two small which nestle next to each other (one for each kiddo), and one larger bin that we use for our sensory explorations. The nice thing is you put the table top back over it and voila! Your mess is put away. I also purchased the LATT table and chair set, which, despite being tiny, is a steal at $29 and the MALA easel, $20. For easy kiddo access, various paper, stationary, and bookmaking materials are laid out on this handy utility shelf from Target.

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I find when setting up, it’s super important to make sure certain materials are accessible for the kids-it helps them develop independence and allows them control in their learning. Art supplies like crayons and pencils, stickers, manipulatives, paper, etc should be easily accessible. I put glue, crayons, pencils, and scissors in little caddies, as well a laminated alphabet and number chart for writing. Throughout the day, the kids will grab paper and draw, or write something on a whim, even when we aren’t doing “Mama School.”

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Our classroom doubles as our playroom in this space, and so all of their toys are in it. There are some main “centers” as Monkey One calls them that we keep out during school time-blocks, dress up (drama), sensory/discovery, writing, and art materials. The rest of their toys are put away, or sometimes incorporated with another center or acting as their own center depending on interest-Legos or animals are often utilized in our “school.” I keep materials for various math and alphabet/phonics activities in two separate fabric bins for easy access as well. I will write up a separate post on centers for Pre-K and toddlers to go more into depth what kinds of activities and things to include. I have a laid back approach to it since there’s only two kiddos and I can work with them as I need, but mostly at this age I strongly feel kids learn by discovery and play so I try to be hands off unless I am doing an activity with them that requires more guidance or they invite me to play as well 🙂

Honestly, there are certainly things I would change-the dining table and lack of shelving/bins everywhere bothers me but it’s nice to have a dedicated space for our venture. I feel it makes all the difference-the first few times we tried to organize a morning meeting and do some “work” we were on the living room couch and it didn’t go quite as well. I think having structure and a dedicated area facilitate the learning aspect so much easier than winging it wherever (unless we are outside on one of our nature ventures, then the whole world is our classroom). The monkeys enjoy their space and the teacher inside me feels slightly less frazzled.

Next post in this series-our semi routine, resources, and figuring out what to teach for a play and discovery based experience,

Till next time!

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Ch-ch-changes!

Ah, time for the annual update of This House on the Hill. So much is changing, yet so much remains the same.

The boys and I have had a great summer. We haven’t actually gone anywhere but kept busy.

Levi has had camps and sports practice-soccer, swim, Audubon. He is gaining confidence in his physical abilities and is starting to blossom. He is starting to swim on his own, and we are working on riding his bike without training wheels. His current loves are Legos and any type of building; he loves to pack up his adventure kit, put on his army suit, and venture into the woods on a journey into an imaginative world, where he is the hero fighting the bad guys. Dinosaurs and sharks still reign supreme, (he is planning a shark 5th birthday party with a giant Megalodon after all), and he revels in learning about nature, animals, and figuring out how things work. He is always asking questions, creating, and I can see the gears spinning in his head constantly. His current persistent question is “How do moms and dads connect with babies are made?” to which I am not yet quite sure how to respond in an age appropriate manner. Levi’s inquisitive nature has been apparent since he was a baby, and watching him ask questions and test out his hypothesis on whatever problem he encounters is such a joy to witness.

Silas is coming into his own, though he idolizes his older brother and is often happily tagging along with any activity Levi is doing. We have found that imitation is truly the most sincere form of flattery, in terms of little and big brother dynamics (sometimes to Levi’s chagrin). Silas loves to climb, run, and express his wild man demeanor, complete with the requisite screams of delight, as well as build blocks or Legos with his brother. He loves robots (especially Transformers), and cars, and various objects become flying bots (cue his Transformer robot sounds).  The kid is a blur; he is rarely still, always on the move, and usually riding the cusp of that precarious line between independent explorations of his abilities and life-in-peril danger. At age two, he has probably seen way more (violent) cartoons above his age group than he should, so the Thomas the Train/Daniel Tiger binge his older brother would demand has been exchanged for the more high octave, action packed shows of Transformers and Voltron. His speech has recently exploded, and he is always chattering about what he sees, thinks, is doing, wants, or arguments with Levi, which generally end in a physical battle to the end which older brother usually dominates (for now).

As the boys have grown across all domains, my life has become more busy as well, and I find myself having less time for projects, and spend more time mediating fights, kissing booboos, being recruited on a team to fight bad guys, chauffeuring kiddos to various activities, and attending to their needs throughout the day. It’s a bit paradoxical, as they play more independently with each other now for long stretches of time, but as naps for Levi are gone and are waning for Silas, and with the demands that come with being such busy creatures, I feel like as soon as I gather my thoughts and tend to something else I am pulled back into the fray. I know I will miss this and try to be cognizant of how fleeting this time is, but sometimes I am not as present with them as I should be, trying to clean or do work on the computer that despite checking the boxes I feel like I haven’t been WITH them as much as I should throughout the day, even though they are only a couple feet away. I feel like I am trying to juggle all the things, keeping up with my domestic duties, mothering, wifing, and trying to have some hobbies/self care of my own that I kinda wander through the days in a blur of various nagging voices in my brain, with things from all directions shouting at me all at once. The night time is the worst, when my anxiety kicks into overdrive, and I go over the day, my faults, things I need to work on, worries….so even on the days where the boys sleep through the night, I am still awake in the quiet, gears turning, over-analyzing and sleep deprived.

It is hard to check all the boxes and feel like I completed them well, especially when it comes to the kids (and Trevor).

But, I am reminded of times like this exact moment, where as I type out this monologue Silas is snuggling in my lap, our morning ritual. This is what I’m gonna miss.

Anyway….our big news (not a baby, no more babies for us, I repeat no more babies) is our upcoming (temporary) move to the sunshine state of Florida for six months over the winter while Trevor trains on the new jet. I am excited, nervous, all the things-and of course, still totally unprepared. This is happening in six weeks and we aren’t ready yet in any way. There are doctor appointments to schedule, cleanings, packing, house searching, car issues…ya know, general military move stressors. But, we will get there. And we will be together, which is the important thing. So, this house on the hill will temporarily become this house on the beach! We are hoping to have a caretaker here over the winter, and will be back up on our hill in the late spring. It’s a little bittersweet, as Levi will miss most of his school year and skiing, but we are heading into it as an adventure and looking forward to breaking up the monotony of Guard life for a bit with a long term TDY.

I am working more on my photography, doing some family sessions here and there as time allows, and looking to get back into sewing more, but as explained above, life gets crazy and I need to work on planning and following through more with what I begin! I do believe it is important to have hobbies and maintain some sense of self when the needs of littles is so taxing and supercedes that of your own-its for sanity! The funny thing is most of my sewing and photos are centered around my boys (go figure). I cherish being able to make them little things though-they love it (for now, again I know this too shall pass) and I want to remember their littleness (reminds self to make prints of photos).

Maybe I’ll actually start writing regularly here, maybe not, we will see. I would love to document more of what we are doing more often, and occasionally share some makes and activities but I am not making any promises until I figure out how to streamline life more efficiently with my most precious people in this world. My life is busy but rich with love, and I don’t know how I got so blessed to have my three guys.

Until next time-maybe beachside!

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It’s been a while…

For some reason, I was having some problems with WordPress every time I tried to post in the past few months (which was very infrequently). Not an excuse but…let’s catch up!

The air is crisp, the light is golden, and the leaves are turning shades of gold, auburn, and rust. It’s fall in Vermont, and hands down one of my favorite times of the year. We’ve had a little bit of a dry heat spell the past week, but yesterday gusty winds blew in and now there’s a chill in the air that you only get this time of year.

My garden is almost done-it was a great season for my tomato plants. I have lots of sauce and whole tomatoes frozen, and still every day more ripen for harvest (which I need to do today). My pepper plants didn’t do that great, but I’ve been using what I was able to get. My hot peppers fared better than the sweet bell peppers. We had a little sweet corn, but the texture was off. I think next year I will have a separate plot for my corn and squash plants, which fell victim to powdery mildew early in the season which was hard to manage once it spread-all my cucumbers, zucchini, and pumpkins were afflicted. I was still able to get a decent crop of my squash though. I have a huge bag of sugar pie pumpkins waiting to be roasted and pureed for various dishes and, of course, pie!!

I love the learning experience that gardening provides for my kiddos. The monkeys love to harvest-Monkey One loves to dig up carrots, and Monkey Two takes pride in anything he plucks, though often it’s a green tomato. Even though they still aren’t big vegetable eaters, they are at least curious about what they grow and will taste it, which for me is a win. They especially loved the little strawberry patch and cucumbers. I think next year I will plant more strawberries as well as some other perennial berry bushes for the kids. Monkey One understands now where we get the plant aspect of our food and how it grows from seed to table, and I am so fortunate that we have the ability to provide that valuable lesson for him firsthand.

Gardening and its bounty has inspired me to look for creative ways to use up my excess veggies. Currently, I am in love with the first Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perlman of the lovely blog Smitten Kitchen, which I have always enjoyed, and Brown Eggs and Jam Jars by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque of Simple Bites, a newer discovery for me. A friend recommended these cookbooks to me and I have earmarked and made so many recipes already! I’m trying to rely less on the interwebs and Pinterest for things as it gets waaay too overwhelming for me and I never end up doing/cooking/making what I find online or Pin, so I have been reading books from the library or ordering reasonably priced ones from Amazon to help me find my way with cooking, sewing, organizing….parenting…you name it.

Speaking of food, I made a huge batch of apple pumpkin waffles today-so yummy! I modify a recipe from the author of the Babyfoode blog, link here.  We’ve been in a funk with Monkey One starting school and eating habits, so it felt good to get some healthy whole foods that the kiddos will devour on the table, and they freeze up nicely for a healthy breakfast on crazy mornings. Of course, for lunch boxed mac and cheese was the request, as always…so I added in some sweet potato, corn, and carrot puree so I could feel better about the fact that my kids subsist off the stuff despite my efforts to steer and expose them to other foods. So, to my other parent friends out there-the struggle is real, it’s here, it’s everywhere, don’t let me fool you with my best laid menu plans because…they usually won’t eat it. Veggie/legume puree sneaks are my saving grace.

Monkey One also recently turned four! I can’t believe it…we had a dinosaur themed birthday party. My husband built a bigger sandpit to replace the beloved turtle and we put real fossils as well as some plaster of Paris dinosaur “bones” in it for the kiddos to find. I am fairly certain that I could have saved the expense of the real fossils and just thrown in the fake bones and had the same results on the happiness meter, but oh well. Inside my mother in law helped me create a lovely fossil touch table, where we combined our fossil resources (of which hers, a former science teacher, are impressive) to curate a “museum.” Oh, and my husband also put on a T-Rex suit and ran out of the woods toward the excavation site. It was met with 50/50 tears, screams, and laughs (mostly from the parents). I will post more in depth about the dino dig in a separate post.

So, we prepare for winter. Hubs completed the woodshed, deck is stained, and next project is revamping the front porch and replacing the stairs and railings on it, hopefully before it gets too cold. We have an excavator here now smoothing out some of the grade. Always a project…I have three separate pieces of furniture in the garage that need to be stained and painted but hey, there is only so much time in a day!

My sewing has slowed down for now, but I still have a plethora of projects planned, and have almost completed my first quilt top. Woohoo! I am going to try and make a goal of getting in at least an hour of sewing or craft/art time a week. We will see!

Last but not least, I’m going to start the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide this upcoming week. I’ll post my progress here! I am excited to start a fitness program again. I haven’t really committed to anything since Monkey Two was born, but I’m ready and want to get in the habit as winter closes in. I find I need the endorphin boost. I’ve also been naughty with my eating and drinking habits, combined with the limited physical activity (even though I am running around so much with the monkeys). I don’t want to lose weight, but would love to tone up and get some good cardio conditioning in. I plan to make more of an effort to eat more whole foods and lay off the goldfish. Wish me luck!

Till next time!

Monkey Two’s First Birthday (no more baby days)

The last two weeks have gone by in a whirl. Monkey number two is officially a toddler and my baby days are gone. It’s such an ambivalent feeling. I think I spent the past year in a sleep-deprivation stupor and didn’t realize how fast the months were going by (Isn’t that everyone the first year? Tell me it’s not just me!). Actually, I’m still sleep deprived but working on night weaning and self-soothing with Monkey 2 because I can’t function on such a limited amount of sleep much longer. Anyways…getting off topic…

So I spent much of the days leading up to Monkey 2’s birthday making little things. We had a small celebration, just the boys, my husband, mother in law, and myself. I sewed up some party hats for each of the boys (complete with pom poms) and made a paper bunting for M2’s high chair. I perused healthy-ish chocolate cake recipes and ended up modifying this chocolate avocado cake by Joy the Baker. Instead of using granulated sugar as called for in the original recipe, I substituted with 1 and 1/2 cups maple syrup and cut back on the water, adding only about 1 and 1/4 cups. I also added in a ripe smashed banana in addition to the avocado for additional flavor and substituted coconut oil for vegetable oil as I love how it tastes in sweet baked goods. I found a recipe for chocolate avocado “buttercream” frosting using maple syrup on Pinterest as well and that was the biggest hit with Monkey #1, who was my frosting and sprinkle helper (and taste tester).  It sounds funky but it was delicious! I enjoy experimenting with healthy, sneaky add-ins for baked goods (much to my hubby’s chagrin). My two most important tasters, the monkeys, were pleased and the smash cake was a hit.

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Who knew vegan cupcakes could be so tasty?
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When one frosts cupcakes, one must have a small taste.

Continue reading “Monkey Two’s First Birthday (no more baby days)”

Welcome to This House on the Hill!

My name is Alana and you have stumbled upon my little nook in cyberspace, where you will find me chronicling adventures (catastrophes? revelations!?) as they unfold upon my little house on the hill. Stay tuned as I share my musings on life, parenthood, domestic (and not so much) matters, the great outdoors, and whatever else comes to mind. You may eventually find a recipe or two, crafting endeavors, or a play-by-play, white knuckled retelling of sliding down the steepest driveway in the state of Vermont on a cold icy day.  This blog may very well fall into the cliches that permeate the blogosphere, but mostly it’s a way for me to record this chaotic, transformative, and yet somehow serene season of my life in a place so bucolic and far removed from my desert gal roots. Thanks for stopping by, I am looking forward to this new venture!

Hints of springtime…

The four of us are finally home, under one roof again, and it feels amazing. After three months apart, my husband, the kids, and myself have finally reconvened at our little house on the hill just in time to wait out the last vestiges of winter and welcome in the spring.

The weather in Arizona was at its annual epoch, with spring buds beginning to unfurl and the unyielding desert sun was not quite at the burning body assault level. It was perfect to warm up our weary Vermont winter bones, and the boys and I had a lovely visit with my family.

Back home in Vermont, the weather isn’t quite sure what it wants, but it was obliging when we returned with highs in the sixties before dropping to subzero temps to welcome in March. It’s been a yoyo, with warm sunny days, abruptly punctuated with below freezing temps that make me feel like I am living on the Arctic tundra. It’s like winter has to draw itself out as long as possible, coming and going in gasps of snow, ice, and frost that becomes a soggy mess in a day or two.

Which means….mud season is around the corner! This is probably Levi’s favorite “season,” because little kids+mud=best time ever. Yesterday I bought some seeds from the local hardware store and today I will begin my seedlings with Levi and map out the year’s garden! Hooray! Of course, I am far from a master gardener…one year down, and I’m still about as novice as it gets. My flower beds are in disarray and I am still scarred from being stung by the hornets in my rock garden whilst weeding last year so there’s that…

But I digress. Spring is soon to descend upon this house on the hill, and I am so ready for it. Of course…wouldn’t mind a few good ski runs before that happens, and looking at the forecast, you never know what March in Vermont will bring!