What’s happening with our home in Eau Claire
Hello, March!

February coffee date


Hi, friends! How was your February? Lately I'm sipping coffee that's half-caf (which I mix up myself) although I always make my coffee strong, decaf or not. I use one very full tablespoon of coffee per carafe cup of water to make my coffee. I'm curious, what ratio of coffee to water do you brew? My personal opinion is that there's no excuse for weak coffee. ;)


February was wonderfully rainy, our rainiest month in my recent memory, and I reveled in the coziness. I leaned all the way into the coziness with a weekend trip to the mountains with Erica for our annual Girl Next Door Podcast planning retreat. We spent all weekend under blankets and next to the fire while we dreamed up another year of content that we are so excited about. Meanwhile, snow-swirled outside the big windows through snow-covered trees. And of course, we ate delicious food all weekend too. I'm not sure if I can remember ever having a cozier weekend.

February also felt so busy! Chris and I have asked ourselves how we feel so busy when we intentionally try not to be. I think a big part of the busyness is just having three kids! There are three little humans who depend on us and who have needs and emotions and hunger at nearly all hours of the day (at least it can feel that way). There are five people in our not-very-large house who generate messes and laundry and dishes every day.

Even though we currently have just two extracurricular activities (Dash is playing soccer and the boys are taking one tennis lesson a week at the same time) each of the kids seems to want to go different directions after school. So it's, "Yes, you can go play with friends but be home for dinner at 5:30 p.m. before soccer practice," and "Yes you can ride your bike to the bakery with your friend but check in with me afterwards." And "Yes, I can take you down to the park but first I need to prep dinner" (and I hope for minimal resistance and mess while I do...) None of that feels like the dialogue of the over-scheduled and yet it still feels like a lot.

I also have to remind myself that we have a three year old. There are so many tasks and so much friction baked into our day because of that – but it’ll get easier! There are so many tasks and friction baked into our day because of that which will be shed. Just this morning, as I was getting Maeve dressed, I realized, "Oh yeah, one day she'll do this on her own!" I'll miss the days of getting Maeve out of her nighttime pull up and into her clothes for the day (stretchy leggings sitting perfectly across her soft, full belly) but I'll gain something too when we are passed them.


Family fun

I have a few notes of family fun to report in February. First, picnic dinners. Many nights after dinner one or more of the kids was asking to go for a family walk. Which we love! But less so when we're getting started at 6:30 p.m. when really we want to start shepherding everyone through the bedtime routine. We can tell that getting energy out and being together makes everyone happier so I considered how we could re-order or re-imagine our evening routine. I came up with packing up simple picnic dinners and having them at the park!

As I've shared, dinner can be a challenge at our house. I also don't think it's a meal my kids are super hungry for anyway. So picnic dinner is actually a great way to mix things up for us. For picnic dinner nights we pack up simple things to eat like fruit, carrots and dip, warmed up veggie sausages, sometimes a quick quesadilla – a lot of the stuff that appears on the dinner table anyway – and take it all to the basketball court park down the street. Sometimes Chris and I pack up something simple that we want to eat for dinner, sometimes we scarf something down before or after. At the park, the boys and Chris rollerblade and/or shoot hoops. Maeve rides her scooter and sometimes kicks a soccer ball. Everyone is active, eats something, and spends quality time together. We've done a lot of park picnic dinners lately and they've been great.

Something else I did this month was to plan some family fun to honor Lunar New Year. Ahead of Lunar New Year I love to request story books about the holiday from the library and I enjoyed reading those with Maeve. I also love the experience of learning about other cultures from story books. To cap off what we learned we took a family field trip to a Korean ice cream shop that we love and visited a large Asian supermarket where we bought a few foods to try.

We also found family fun together this month with a few family movies on rainy nights. The Parent Trap (a classic from my childhood!), Brave, Toy Story, and Turning Red were hits with everyone. But lest you think it's all picnic dinners and movie nights over here...some family fun didn't turn out as rosy. Once again no one wanted to go check out a new bakery with me and get treats (guess I'll just stop offering?) and there wasn't much participation in the family gardening morning that I was excited for. You win some and you lose some!


My day off

Is happening today! I decided to take myself out in the morning for a coffee, a scone, and reading after a morning Orange Theory class. Then I plan to walk at the Riparian Preserve and listen to my audiobook (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings). Mid-morning I have a mini-facial scheduled, snagged with a Groupon. After that I'll grab whatever I'm feeling like for lunch and then either work in our backyard garden which I've been enjoying or go browse at the library. Perhaps with an afternoon coffee along the way.


What I read in February

The Guest | described as a "propulsive" and "spellbinding" novel, I did not agree and abandoned after logging more than half the audiobook. The main character was kept at too much of an arm's reach and I was finding the plot to be repetitive.

Wellness | this book is long (over 600 pages) and ambitious in all the topics it sough to cover: the challenges of marriage, consumerism, the legacy of family emotional trauma, the impact of social media and its algorithms, and what qualifies as art, to name a few. I read the entire book but didn't love it for a few reasons. First of all, there is a trope I have noticed in books of passionate young lovers turning into stale spouses in middle age. I detest this trope because it's done in a way that makes the staleness seem inevitable. The book opens with how the two main characters met and fell in love, which all sounded very romantic. Then we jump into their stale, middle age marriage which I found jarring and hard to get on board with. I also thought the description of Elizabeth's business, Wellness, was too far-fetched and I also could not see how her character of multiple college degrees would end up in a middling career. I was disappointed the book didn't spend more time on the wellness industry and all of its harmful misinformation. I found the paragraphs long monologues on why marriage is a flawed concept to be excessive. I did underline some great writing. And know several people who loved this book so I might be outlier here but didn't love this.

My Murder | This book, on the other hand, I eagerly devoured. Here are the first lines of the book blurb: "Lou is a happily married mother of an adorable toddler. She’s also the victim of a local serial killer." Set sometime in the future where immersive VR and cloning is commonplace, five victims of a serial killer have been brought back to life. But slowly questions emerge and Lou finds herself solving her own murder. Highly recommend.

Tranquility By Tuesday | It's been a while since I've read a book by Laura Vanderkam but as soon as I started this I felt the calm reassurance that all her books bring me. Her writing always reminds me: if you are intentional, you do have time for the things that matter. Her suggestions are always practical and impactful. In this book she outlines nine strategies to "calm the chaos and make time for what matters." A few of the tips I immediately started doing include: planning on Fridays and move by 3 p.m. I have also continued to think about "three times a week is a habit" and "effortful fun before effortless fun." If you are into time management and personal growth books I highly recommend this one.

Currently reading: This Is So Awkward: Modern Puberty Explained, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (on audio and on my 2024 syllabus).


Everyday joys + small wins

Primary Valentine's Day sweatshirt| I'm in love with Primary sweatshirts and now own two. Lately, I've been enjoying having a wearable seasonal item or two for each season (like a Christmas tree t-shirt and my good witch shirt for Halloween). Now I have a cozy sweatshirt for Valentine's day (and it works any time too).

Black cherry vanilla sparkling water | a new flavor at Trader Joe's. Perfect with lunch or for an afternoon zing.

Setting the coffee to brew the next morning | This is one of my favorite high fives to my future self. To wake up, especially at the very early hour when I do, and to find hot, strong coffee waiting for me, is the best.

Getting the car washed + vacuumed | I love driving my car but even more so when it's beautifully clean. I'm usually pretty good about keeping the car washed and tidy but it was overdue. It was definitely a win and a joy to have it clean again from front seat to back. (P.S. My car organization tips)

We have a pet snail | I tell people that I am "happily pet free" and I stand by that. But this little stowaway snail was discovered in one of my indoor plants and well, now we have a pet snail. Her name is Noie (named by Maeve), she eats Little Gem lettuce, and Chris recently talked very seriously with a Petco employee about snail shell health.


Revisiting February goals

+ Make a plan and timeline for Your Year to Shine 2025. Yes! I'm always surprised at how little effort a timeline and plan takes for how much momentum it gives me for a project.

+ Catch up on photographing kiddo art work. Yes! That felt really good to take care of.

+ Go on a family hike. Nope! But instead we bought plants and I had hoped we'd work as a family to plant them. Only one of the three kids joined the planting so I was a bit bummed but oh well!

+ Take care of tax admin. Hoping to make progress on this this week. If not, it'll get kicked to March.

+ Plan April birthdays. Yes! I booked a park ramada for Maeve's birthday party and helped Dash decide what he wants to do as well. Now I have a unicorn park birthday party to plan. Your tips for a great park birthday party are welcome; thank you!

+ Plan our spring break trip to Joshua Tree National Park and San Juan Capistrano. Yes! I blocked out time last week gathered several restaurant and activities recommendations.

+ Have weekly family meetings. Still working towards making these routine but we are being better about a casual touch-base and sharing what's coming up.

+ Keep up weekly Saturday Sweeps. Most weekends, yes. Despite some moods and complaints.

+ One-on-one time with each of my kids. Also one of my 2024 goals. Revisiting my monthly goals reminded me of this priority and I find myself looking for even small opportunities for one-on-one quality time. A highlight this month was taking Dash out for an evening. We played racquetball at the rec center, played Yahtzee over pizza dinner, got ice cream, and then played pool. It was so fun and I love that we fit in some many different kinds of games.


I hope you found good things in February, friends!