Shepard the Popover Baker

Popovers have been on my “Something I Want to Bake Someday Soon” list for a really long time. I only remember having popovers once in my life when I was pretty young. My mom made them and they were delicious. I think about them every once in awhile and then forget when I actually get to the kitchen. This morning, though, I was perusing Pinterest and came across a recipe where the blogger stated that her popover recipe is “the easiest thing she’s ever baked.” This definitely peaked my curiosity! It was morning, I was hungry, and easy is always good!

Shepard was the only one awake (Caden once again was up for a few hours in the night, therefore sleeping in much later than usual), so I decided to initiate him in the kitchen with his first baking experience. It’s not a big secret that I hate sharing my kitchen. Even with my kids. I know, I know, that makes me a terrible mom. I just like getting my recipes perfect – while keeping the kitchen clean. Which is nearly impossible with a three year old helper, and definitely impossible with a one year old! At any rate, the mixing process was pretty fast and Shepard mostly just watched. Only one spill occurred.

Shepard got pretty excited when he saw this brownie mix on the counter. It looked like a much better breakfast to him than this mystery bowl we were putting together!

Skipping to the finish product, they turned out pretty darn well. I wouldn’t say this recipe was super easy, though. First you whisk together two eggs and one cup of milk. Then you sprinkle in one cup of flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Then add one tablespoon of melted butter and whisk until smooth and bubbly. Cover and let sit for half an hour. In the meantime, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Pour 1/2 teaspoon of oil in the ten outside cups of a muffin tin. Put the muffin pan in the oven to get hot. After half an hour quickly fill the pans with better and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes. Never open the oven door!

Overall, it was relatively simple and I’ll definitely be making them again. They were good. Especially when you can live on bread products alone, like me.

Shepard very steadily ate his whole popover. I simply put butter on them, but they could be filled with jam, topped with powdered sugar, or even turned savory with some cheese melted inside. Caden and I put honey on ours, though I preferred the plain butter version.

He wasn’t sure what to make of it.

He declared it good, but then only ate a few bites. I, however, ate four. Caden told me I better save some for Daddy. Then he said I was going to get sick. I guess sometimes kids do pay attention. If I’m enjoying something so much, it’s probably bad for me. They were very good, though. Give them a try!


2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tbs melted butter
5 tsp oil

Whisk together eggs and milk. Sprinkle in flour and salt and mix with a spatula. Pour in melted butter and whisk everything until smooth and bubbly. Cover bowl with a cloth and let sit for 30 minutes.

While resting, heat oven to 450 degrees. Pour 1/2 tsp of oil in the ten outside cups of a muffin tin. Put pan in oven. After 30 minutes take pan out and fill cups as quickly as possible. Bake for 20 minutes. Lower heat to 350 and bake for 10 more minutes until golden brown. Eat warm!

Six Year Anniversary

Today we celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. It’s amazing how much life can happen in six years. In the last six years we have lived in five different places. We’ve both had two different jobs. I’ve graduated from two educational programs. We bought and sold our first house. We traveled our dream vacation and went on many weekend getaways. We gave life to two beautiful little boys. We’ve been through the many ups and downs of married life.

Six feels like such a small number compared to the memories we’ve already shared together. Though to be fair, we were together six and a half years before we got married, so we really have twelve years of happiness behind us.

Every year on or right around our anniversary we take our big vacation of the year. This year was the exception and it felt a little weird sticking around home. We’re planning a vacation to Michigan in a few weeks so at least we’re not skipping out on a vacation all together. I just missed the excitement of being in a new and fun place while we celebrate.

To honor the day, Greg and I went on a date to Madison. Our first stop was Olbrich Gardens, one of Madison’s outdoor treasures. We walked through their gardens countless times during college so it was fun to go back. It’s the perfect time of year with so many flowers in bloom.

Afterward we had lunch at Great Dane, one of our favorite restaurants. Then we rented a movie to watch at home. Not the most exciting date, but at least we got to have some time to ourselves. That’s one of the great things about living by the grandparents – we can pretty much have dates whenever we want! That definitely wasn’t an option when we lived five hours away from everyone.

Olbrich is such a peaceful place.

I thought this was a fun picture. I set my camera on the ground with the self timer. It’s nice to get a picture with more than just our heads in the shot.

It was a nice day. I look forward to many, many more anniversaries. Married life is pretty awesome. 🙂

Cedar Lake

Every year sometime during Memorial weekend we go to Greg’s grandparents’ lake house for a day. It’s a fun time to just relax in the sun and have some fun. This year was a little harder for me because I woke up to the news that my aunt passed away. It wasn’t a surprise and I’m glad she no longer has to suffer. But she will be missed. Another loss for many. And as usual, it comes with the regret of not spending enough time together before it was too late. I tried to spend the day just enjoying my babies, but it was hard to think of little else.

We came to the lake once last year, but Shepard was too little to participate in any of the fun. He loved digging in the sand today. I’m glad I bought a big bucket of sand toys at Costco yesterday to take on our vacation next month!

It was everyone’s first weekend at the lake so the men had to put all the docks in the water first. Shepard and Caden were very confused by this.

Caden was really excited to be there and couldn’t understand why nobody wanted to go swimming with him. Despite the predicted 90 degree weather, I don’t think it ever reached above 75 and it was incredibly windy. So Caden had to satisfy his swimming needs by jumping into three inch water from the dock.

Shepard was content to play on the shore.

Caden and Grandma feeding the fish oatmeal.

Shepard is ready for his first boat ride! He thought the life jacket was pretty cool. A huge difference from Caden’s first boat ride at eight months when he screamed bloody murder the entire time we were on the boat!

Looking pretty spiffy himself.

The life jacket wasn’t so fun when forced to sit on Mommy’s lap.

He was a little scared once we started going. His snuggles made me feel better, though.

And he eventually fell asleep. I love my baby.

I love this guy too. I’m glad they were able to have such a fun day outside by the water. We really appreciate having the opportunity every summer to spend time here. It’s always a special treat.

Weekend Ramblings

I haven’t written in awhile, so I thought I’d use this bit of free time I’ve found to write a little update on life. And to just ramble a little.

It’s been a hard week. I feel like I’ve been walking in a fog, barely managing to function, let alone accomplish anything of importance. On Monday, Caden woke up with a cold. Fortunately, he was only bad for about a day. And he lets me wipe his nose, so it doesn’t feel like such a terrible thing. Shepard, on the other hand… He got his cold in full force Tuesday and it has yet to let up. I feel so bad for him because he’s clearly miserable, but there’s very little to be done about it. Neither of the kids are old enough for cold medicine yet, so they just have to suck it up and push through. On Thursday I was pretty desperate and bought just about every non-medicated healing agent I could find at Target to try and give him a little comfort. Saline spray, Vicks for babies, and honey flavored suckers for his cough. It helps a little, but not much. If he would just let us wipe his nose everything would be easier. But he fights with everything in him, screaming and crying, making the snotty stream that much worse. He’s not awake yet, but I really hope he’s cleared up by today.

My allergies have also been terrible this week. I’m not sure what I’m allergic to because I just started being affected by them last year. I think after living in Minnesota for four years, after coming back to Wisconsin something here must be different. And it’s annoying. Greg pointed out to me that I used to make fun of people with allergies because they really can’t be as bad as they make it out to be. Um…yeah, they are. So I’m sorry if I ever was unsympathetic to the allergy attacked people in my past. It’s pretty awful. For me the worst part is my itchy, burning eyes. I just want to tear them out. Sleeping has been hard too, I’m so stuffed up. Last year the allergies lasted about a month, so hopefully I only have a few weeks left. I don’t know how people with year long allergies manage. It’s really knocked me off my feet.

Overall, this has just been a very scattered and dysfunctional week. I couldn’t for the life of me come up with a daily meal plan, so every day I was scrambling to put food on the table. I was overwhelmed by making a grocery and coupon list, which is usually one of the most fun I things I do (hey, finding great deals IS fun!). Last week I started doing Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred and felt super motivated to start taking control of my life through exercise. But I was so tired this week I wasn’t even able to get through one full video. Anyway. I’m ready to move on. Hopefully this next week will be a lot better.

The highlight of my week was my date night with Greg. Once a week the boys go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a few hours and Greg and I have a “date night.” It usually consists of me making a meal that we love, but the boys wouldn’t eat and then Greg and I either watch a tv show together or go our separate ways and enjoy some personal time that’s so rare. The boys usually come up and I regret that Greg and I didn’t try harder to actually spend time together. Those times are rare too and we should really make the most of them. This week we did a lot better, though. We shared farmer’s market ravioli (which is amazing) and then went on a five mile bike ride through town. Biking is definitely my favorite form of exercise and I love that I’m finally able to make it a habit this year. After a few miles we stopped at a quiet park by the river and just sat and talked for awhile. In high school and college we spent a lot of time sitting and talking by water, and it was great to find a place where we can have those times again. Finally, we stopped at a restaurant on the way home to buy a bag of our favorite chips (they were out of hot salsa) to go. It was a perfect night!

And now for the holiday weekend! I’m starting it with one of these gorgeous chocolate chip muffins I made last night. Muffins are one baked item that continues to elude me, so I was shocked at how perfect these looked. They’re yummy too. In a little bit I’m heading to the farmer’s market with my mother-in-law. It’ll be a great way to get out of the house for awhile. I need it! Then tomorrow we’re spending the day at Greg’s grandparents’ lake house. And Monday is mine and Greg’s six year anniversary, so we’re having a date day. It should be a fantastic weekend!

Jalapeno Cheese Focaccia and the Blues

I have a serious obsession with Jalapeno Cheddar Focaccia Bread. It’s no secret that I’m a carb lover, but I think this bread beats out any other in my mind for tastiest bready treat ever. No joke. I crave this bread almost as much as I crave fried pickles. Which is saying a lot.

The problem, however, is that I can only find it at the grocery store. And it costs $4 for a small little round that I can usually down on my drive back home if I’m hungry enough. And the worst part – they only actually have the bread in stock about 25% of the time I go. So I’ve been on a mission to find/come up with my own recipe for it so I can satisfy my craving any time at home for a lot less money. And I’ve come close! This isn’t perfected yet, but it’s getting there.

The original directions for this recipe were really bizarre and unlike any other bread recipe I’ve ever seen. So I decided to take a chance and put it together in a way that made more sense to me. Starting with the usual first step – dissolve 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast in 1 cup of warm water. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and let rest about ten minutes until frothy.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add one egg. At the last minute I decided to add 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary. Slowly mix in 2 1/2 more cups of flour until dough forms a ball. Knead or mix in mixer for five minutes. Place in a greased, covered bowl for one hour.

I wanted my focaccia to look just like the grocery store kind so after the dough rose I split it in two and pressed each ball into a greased cake pan. I then let it sit for 10 minutes while the oven preheated to 400 degrees. Next, use a knife to poke holes all over the dough. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over each round. Top with jarred jalapeno peppers, sliced cheese (I used colby jack since I had it on hand, but cheddar would probably be better), and additional rosemary if you want. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with how this turned out. I really didn’t expect it to work since I never have luck with any kind of focaccia. In comparison, the grocery store variety is still better. The texture is a little softer and it tastes a little more oily. But I’m definitely not going to give up on making it at home. Next time I think I’ll be more vigorous in my knife poking and probably add more than 2 tablespoons of olive oil per loaf. I’ll also add more spices to the dough. And definitely use cheddar cheese. And finally, bake it more like 20 minutes instead of 25. My loaf was a mite too crunchy. Good stuff, though!

This has nothing to do with focaccia bread, but I got two cute Embrace the Camera pictures with Shepard yesterday.

He loves getting his picture taken right now, but he always whips around to try and see the back of my camera before I even had a chance to take the photo!

Greg got a harmonica for his birthday, so the boys have been fighting over this toy harmonica we have to be just like him. Shepard is surprisingly good at it for a 15 month old!

Here he is just sitting by himself playing away!

Jalapeno Cheddar Focaccia Bread

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tbs yeast
2 tbs olive oil

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rosemary
1 egg

4 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup jarred jalapeno peppers
1 tsp rosemary
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix water, yeast, and olive oil. Let sit for 10 minutes. Mix 1 cup of flour with the rest of dry ingredients. Add egg. Slowly add in the rest of the flour until combined. Knead for 5 minutes. Put in a covered bowl for one hour. Split into two greased cake pans. Let sit while oven preheats to 400 degrees. Poke holes in dough with knife. Drizzle olive oil over dough. Top with jalapenos, cheese, and rosemary. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Mother’s Day Cinnamon Rolls

Our family loves cinnamon rolls. I always have a stock of store bought rolls in the fridge for quick weekend breakfasts when I don’t feel like making anything more challenging. Last week with Mother’s Day coming up, I thought it would be an easy breakfast for Greg to make. But with some extra time on Friday I thought it would be nice to actually make cinnamon rolls from scratch instead. I always have mixed feelings about homemade cinnamon rolls. On one hand, they’re really really good. On the other hand, it’s nearly impossible to get them cooked properly. At least that seems to be my experience! So I went searching for a different recipe and came across a blogger who felt the same way about doughy undercooked cinnamon rolls. And of course the duh moment – don’t squish them all together in a tight pan and they probably won’t be so doughy!

To start the dough, mix 1 cup of warm milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast. Let sit for about ten minutes until bubbly. Mix in 2 eggs, 1/3 cup softened butter, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, 3 1/4 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Knead for five minutes by hand or with your mixer. Put in an oiled, covered bowl and let rise for one hour. This is where I started having problems. My dough barely rose at all. I think I let it sit for close to three hours with almost no improvement. I finally decided to just go with it. I rolled it out and was impressed with how big I could make it. That’s another thing I get really annoyed with when making cinnamon rolls – the dough is so elastic that it’s nearly impossible to roll it out to a decent size. This dough was very pliable.

For the filling mix 1/2 cup of softened butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons of cinnamon.

My butter wasn’t as soft as it should have been. It was really hard to evenly spread out the mixture. I eventually gave up on that too. Once it’s in the oven the filling will melt and spread out anyway.

Roll up the dough as tightly as possible and slice into approximately one inch slices. I decided to try something different and only used half of the dough to make regular cinnamon rolls. I’ll show you what I did with the other half in a minute.

Lay rolls out on a pan, cover, and let rise for another hour. Mine did not at all after this. I’m not sure if I did something wrong or this dough is just more tempermental. Since I made these on Friday and Mother’s Day was Sunday, I put them in the freezer. Late Saturday night I moved them to the fridge and they were ready to be baked Sunday morning.

Much smaller than I was expecting, but they’re kind of cute! When you’re ready, bake them at 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.

With the other half of the dough I attempted to be creative by slicing the roll into three strips, horizontally. Then I braided them and rolled them together to make a giant cinnamon roll.

We took the easy way out frosting these by using some leftover whipped vanilla frosting that was in the fridge. The original recipe includes a cream cheese frosting, but I knew Greg starts gagging when he sees the words cream cheese, so I decided not to even suggest he make it.

The large cinnamon roll looked pretty, but was overall a huge fail. I don’t think there was any way to cook the entire thing through without totally burning the outside.

The edges were good, but it was really a huge undercooked mess. The smaller rolls, though, were delicious! A little dense and the dough tasted a lot sweeter than regular cinnamon rolls. The additional spices in the dough made it unusual, but tasty. This is a recipe I’ll definitely be trying again – hopefully with slightly puffier results!

Mother’s Day Cinnamon Rolls


1 cup warm milk
1 tbs sugar
2 1/2 tsp yeast
2 eggs
1/3 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup bread flour


1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbs cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting:

3 ounces softened cream cheese
1/4 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice

 To start the dough, mix 1 cup of warm milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of yeast. Let sit for about ten minutes until bubbly. Mix in 2 eggs, 1/3 cup softened butter, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, 3 1/4 cups of flour, 3/4 cup of bread flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 cup of sugar. Knead for five minutes by hand or with your mixer. Put in an oiled, covered bowl and let rise for one hour.

Roll dough into a rectangle. Make filling by mixing all ingredients. Spread filling over dough, roll tightly, and slice into 1 inch slices. Cover and let rise for one hour. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Make cream cheese frosting by combining all ingredients. Spread over rolls and enjoy!

Happy Mama’s Day!

Being a mommy is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs on earth. You can never truly realize how emotionally taxing, yet joyous it is until you become one yourself. With every year and each additional child, the challenges evolve and life gets more complicated. But your mommy skills grow with your children and you learn how to love them in the best ways and generally have a great time doing it. I love Mother’s Day, especially since becoming one myself, because I think all moms need to be celebrated for who they are and what they do on a daily basis, usually with little to no immediate appreciation. I like this day where all the moms, grandmas, and influential women in our lives get a chance to be acknowledged and treated extra special. We deserve it! 🙂

My special day got to start a little early this year. On Friday night Greg and Caden went shopping and came home with this beautiful bouquet of flowers for me! Pink and green are my favorite colors, especially together, so I thought it was very thoughtful!

On Sunday morning Caden came running into my bed and gave me a hug and kiss and said “Happy Mama’s Day!” He’s generally not very affectionate to me, so it was really sweet. Throughout the day he did this a couple of times and it made me very happy. 🙂 He even told me this morning too when he woke up. I could get used to that!

For breakfast Greg baked some homemade cinnamon rolls that I made on Friday. They were delicious!

I love my boys.

After breakfast they gave me some really great gifts. Caden and Shepard made me some pictures with their hands and feet with help from grandma and aunties the day before. So cute!

Greg gave me this awesome bracelet from my all time favorite jewelry designer, Lisa Leonard. I love it! They also gave me some candy bars, my own stuffed Angry Bird (I was the only one without my own), and a huge tube of Bengay. Which is kind of funny, but very thoughtful because my back has been hurting so bad lately.

Shepard always brings me so many smiles and laughs. I hope he’s always such a snuggly and happy little boy.

We went to a park for a quick photo shoot. I thought this log would make for some good pictures, but it took a lot of energy to keep us from falling backward. I eventually dropped Shepard from my lap in order to save myself, lol.

This is a good one!

Shepard has quite a fascination with dandelions right now. He was pretty distracted by how many were beneath the tree.

Such a good husband and daddy, making me feel so special all day!

Shepard being silly, as usual.

We had lunch at a cupcake cafe in Madison with my in-laws. My mother-in-law, Cindy, is one of the strongest, most generous and compassionate women I know. She is an amazing grandma to my boys too!

Family love. 🙂

We went to my parents’ house for the rest of the afternoon to relax and have dinner. The boys are playing double catch with Grandpa.

My parents’ pretty snowball bush. I love these flowers.

Me and my mom. She has a level of patience and unconditional love that I don’t think I will ever be able to reach myself. She is so kind and gentle to everyone and has set such a great example of motherhood to me. She is also an incredible grandma that the boys love to be with!

I just thought this was a funny picture. Shepard is pretty fascinated by the water bowls. Since he has his own water table at home he thinks that any container with water is there just for him to play with. What is that dog doing?

Giving Grandma a final hug. It was a great day. Happy Mother’s Day (one day late) to all of the moms out there. You are appreciated!

Embrace the Camera

Recently I’ve seen a lot of bloggers posting about “Embracing the Camera.” The purpose of this movement is for moms, who are generally behind the camera in most family photos, to start taking the initiative to be in more photos with their children. This has something that’s been bugging me a lot lately when I upload my photos from holidays and family gatherings and realize that there are absolutely no pictures of me. Not that I particularly love looking at pictures of myself, but I would like to have a permanent recording of the fact that I was actually there for all these events! When I’m gone I want my kids to look at our family pictures and see me, remember me, and remember all the little moments we had together.

Embracing the camera isn’t about setting up elaborate photo sessions where you get someone else to take stiff and posed photos of you with your kids. It’s simply about finding little ways to include yourself in the photos you already take. Turn the camera around every once in awhile and grab your kid for an impromptu cuddle picture. Set the self timer during one of the many every day moments you share. It’s not about perfection, it’s just about seeing you and your children together. And more importantly, them being able to see you together when they look at these pictures later in life. My kids are still young and they’re not going to remember these moments. But they will hopefully see these pictures and realize I loved them and we had a lot of fun together.

These pictures were a little dangerous. It’s probably not that safe to swing holding your squirming kid in one hand and your dslr pointed the wrong way in your other hand. Amazingly, nothing (or no one) was dropped.

Okay, I’m not in this at all. But I love Shepard’s little hands!

He’s been holding my hand a lot lately. He’s cooperating a lot earlier than Caden did with holding my hand walking on the sidewalk or in parking lots. At the park he wanted to hold hands while he walked on the wooden edging around the playground.

We were relaxing on the bench for awhile, watching Caden chase kids all over the place.

Back at home trying to get some pictures with Caden now. He has such gigantic eyes.

Caden liked this embracing the camera idea. Whereas after Shepard’s baptism when I really wanted him in pictures and he refused, yesterday he kept saying “more things!” to try and come up with other ideas of ways we could be in it together.

Caden and I have exactly the same super wide stubby toed feet.

Shepard was intrigued by this idea and had to stick his feet in too.

Trying to get in on this picture too. Even though he’s totally cut off, this is one of my favorites. 🙂

Pictures like this are much more easily done with a point and shoot! My arms aren’t long enough to get us both in!

That’s better!

This is a fun one too.

Okay, only my leg is in this picture… But I love how Caden’s feet and hand look!

I wanted to try and get an everyday moment kind of picture too with Caden helping me wrap some presents. It’s harder taking the pictures with a self timer. I like the smiley giant face ones better.

Anyway, it was fun spending my day trying to get some fun and happy pictures of me and my boys. I’m going to try doing things like this a lot more often!

Shepard’s Baptism

Yesterday was Shepard’s baptism! This will be a mostly photo post since there’s not a whole lot to say beside he was baptized, we ate lunch, he got some presents!

Caden was very curious about the holy water.

Shepard was just confused.

I really thought he’d cry, but he did great. It helped that Aunt Melissa got to hold him the whole time.

I wanted to get some nice pictures afterward like we did with Caden’s baptism, but Caden was being pretty naughty and wouldn’t be in any. Everyone was so rushed we didn’t get any grandparent or big family pictures either. 🙁

Shepard was really tired and the day has barely begun!

With the godparents.

Cookie break.

Caden decided to cooperate when the presents came out!

Balls are his favorite!

Uncle Tyler gave him a really cool Bible with his name imprinted on it. Looking back at these pictures I realize Shepard really wasn’t his happy, laughing self. Not a lot of smiles. 🙁

He’s such a cutie. Gonna be a heartbreaker!

Greg decided to dress himself at Shepard’s twin. Cute!

Second attempt at a family picture. Caden still wasn’t being especially cooperative, but we got some decent ones.

I like this one!

With Aunt/Godmother Melissa.

Happy baptism! It was really nice of everyone who shared the day with us!

Take the Time

You never know how much time you’re going to have on this earth. It’s a truth we all know, but not something we spend a lot of time thinking about. Dwelling on death is depressing and probably not very healthy. But dwelling on life? I think that’s something we could all do a little more of.

I’ve been thinking about loss a lot this week. A few days ago the girl who we used to mentor’s father had a massive heart attack and eventually passed away. The news was shocking. He was way too young and left behind five children who will never be able to make another memory with him.

In January of this year I lost an uncle, also way too young to leave the people who loved him. A friend of mine lost her third baby, more than halfway through the pregnancy. In the last few years I’ve lost my remaining grandparents and half of Greg’s. We are surrounded by loss and death on a daily basis and it hurts. So much.

On Wednesday I was diagnosed with scoliosis. Far from a death sentence, but it still scared me. The combination of that and the passing of our young friend’s dad, as well as all the other loss I’ve experienced in recent years, made me really start reevaluating my own life and what I want to do with it. Especially in these long and often frustrating days at home with my boys.

I came to one major conclusion. I want to start taking the time. I want to start doing all the things I tell myself I’m going to do with my kids and then never do. I want to stop being so busy wasting time on my computer when I could be snuggling on the couch and reading books to them. I want to take the time to look Caden in the eye and listen to him when he talks no matter how many other things are begging for my attention.

Consciously taking the time to do these things is definitely not always easy. Even today, a single day after my big conclusion, I was tired and cranky and didn’t want a whole lot to do with my very crabby and obnoxious behaving children. But that doesn’t mean I should stop trying. No, I can’t escape from my responsibilities every day of the week. But I can start making more of an effort to enjoy my life now. Enjoying my boys before they grow up and leave me to make their own lives. I can take a day every once in awhile to do something fun and different, making memories that will hopefully last a lifetime, no matter how long that may be.

For weeks now Caden has been asking to go to the zoo. I always say no because it’s too far away and a big hassle packing a lunch and finding a full day to do something like that. But yesterday I decided to surprise him with a big yes!

It was a drizzly and extremely humid day, but we quickly packed our picnic and headed to the zoo!

It was fun having a day filled with smiles and laughter rather than complaints and time outs.

I feel like I don’t say this enough – it was a really good day. I love my kids. I love spending time with them. And I want them to always love spending time with me. It is now going to be one of my biggest goals – taking the time to just be with them. Going to the zoo. Reading together. Laughing. Having conversations. I want to dwell on this life I have with them before it is too late.