Monday, April 20, 2015

What we've been up to.

I realized this weekend that this blog cannot live by bread recipes alone. So in an effort to post more than once in the bluest of moons, here's what we've been up to the last 90ish days....

Marshall has been filling his mind with all things preschool, from facts about volcanoes--"Mt. Rainier is an ice volcano, Mommy!" "Well, let's keep our distance, then."-- to stories about sea creatures--"Frogs can live on water or on land, like dolphins!" "Not quite..."

What we've been up to.

He has perfected writing the letter 'R,' which makes writing his name immensely more legible, and this past week Daniel registered him for kindergarten. (Not ready for that.)

We've been supplementing his education with Meghan Trainor songs, because, you know, good parenting.

I'm tackling Quarter 3 of my MBA program, trying to wrap my mind around everything from Activity-Based Costing to Media Planning. I have perfected using the word "synergy" in all of my emails (just kidding), and I have been supplementing my education with the final season of Mad Men (that's the truth).

Marshall and I took a long trip to Alabama over Spring Break, where we spent as much time as possible with my parents. I went to yoga with my stepmom, and Marshall went camping with my dad.

What we've been up to.

What we've been up to.

We took a road trip down to Florida and surprised Marshall with a visit to the Magic Kingdom, and I'm not sure which of our three generations had more fun.

What we've been up to.

I got to walk around Tallahassee with three of the most beautiful ladies on earth (my sister-in-law and two nieces), and Marshall had a grape date with Baby Greer, whose favorite phrase of the afternoon was, "That boy is so silly!" (Wise words, Greer.)

Although it was not long enough, I snuck in a quick visit with my sweet friend Andrea, who has been in my life as long as The Babysitter's Club and Guess Who. It's lucky if we see each other once a year, but somehow we pick up just where we left off. It's a gift she has.

What we've been up to.

There are so many friends and family we didn't get to see, and that's been on my mind. The balance of resting vs. visiting is a tough one, but this time, for better or worse, we chose rest.

What we've been up to.

Daniel continues to uphold his title of Best Daddy in the Universe. If I were a different person, I would be jealous of the way he parents Marshall so effortlessly. The other day, Daniel was entertaining Marshall with the bathroom mirrors, manipulating them so that it looked like there were multiple Marshalls.

Daniel: Look! There are a million Marshalls. 
Marshall: (Clearly delighted.) No way! That's crazy. 
Daniel: What if there really were a million Marshalls in the world? 
Marshall: (Without missing a beat.) Everybody would laugh. 

 Wishing you a week full of laughter, friends.

What we've been up to.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

I'll take my coffee black, with a side of bacon.

Because I am the sentimental being that I am, I get a big kick out of resolutions. I enjoy the reflecting, the goal setting, and especially that burst of hope that screams, "This time. This year." (I am all about the feels.)

For 2015, I feel motivated, largely by the pile of pants in my closet that do not fit without some extreme negotiation on my part, to focus on my health. For January, my reset button is going to come in the form of Whole30.

Whole30 grocery haul

It's a pretty simple list of Dos and Don'ts--

Yes to veggies, fruits, meats, and nuts.
No to sugar, alcohol, breads, dairy, and legumes.

My one exception is bacon. After looking through every bacon package at the grocery store yesterday, I learned that it's quite difficult to find bacon without some traces of sugar. I'm giving myself a pass on this one. (I'm sure I'll face the wrath of the Whole30 disciples later, but that's for Future Lauren to worry about.)

Whole30 breakfast

I do not plan on "giving up" these foods forever. Life is too short not to enjoy bread + butter, chocolate + wine. But, challenges like these are a good way to counterbalance the indulgences of the holidays.

My mantra for the next month?
1. It's only 30 days.
2. Coffee is approved.

Daniel and I gave each other a gym membership for Christmas (student discount!), so I'm counting on Whole30 and the treadmill to work their collective magic. This is the year, right?

Happy 2015, y'all!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas in the South

We did not send out Christmas cards this year.

We did not put up a a lot of decorations.

We did not spend a lot of time shopping. (I did all of our Christmas shopping within 48 hours, with a lot of little help from Santa and Amazon Prime.)

But, despite how unprepared we were this year, despite all of the things we didn't do, Christmas still came. And it was as magical as ever.

Christmas in the South

Marshall wore his airplane jammies through a 4-AM Uber ride to SeaTac, 3 plane flights, a 5-hour unexpected layover in LAX, and a quiet car ride into rural Louisiana. 

Christmas in the South

And thanks to his exhausted parents who were too lazy to change him into picture-appropriate attire, he was still wearing them on Christmas morning when Santa delivered his new big boy bike. 

Christmas in the South

Marshall's cousin Sada schooled him in Candyland. She later schooled me in Disney trivia. And Uno. And How to Draw Fairy Princesses. 

Christmas in the South

We went to church on Sunday, where my sister-in-law played the organ, I played the piano, and Daniel and my niece Samantha sang. I was too busy drooling over my niece's beautiful lyric-soprano voice to take any pictures. How did she grow up so fast?

And then we did a lot of this...

Christmas in the South

And a lot of staring at this...

Christmas in the South

And a lot of staring at this...

Christmas in the South

 I'm missing Christmas in the South already.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Marshall speaks "Church"

When Marshall speaks "Church"....

Marshall speaks "Church"


The church we attend has place to light candles and say prayers. Marshall is really enchanted by this tradition and always wants to participate. Both Daniel and I grew up Methodist. In fact, I grew up tiny-church-in-the-country Methodist, which is almost its own religion. In short, we have no idea what to do with the candles really, but we want to support our little worshipper.

A couple of weeks ago, Daniel takes Marshall over to the candles and says, "Ok, Marshall, say your prayer."

Marshall, with his most solemn face, closes his eyes super hard and whispers, oh-so-seriously,

"My prayer."

Then he pauses dramatically and returns back to his seat.

This past week, I took Marshall over to the candles, where he says,

"Bless you to God."

Nods matter-of-factly. Exits stage right.



A few weeks ago there were three baptisms. The church choreographed it so that the children had a close-up view to check out all the action. Other than a little on-the-spot feet shuffling, Marshall was doing a pretty fair job of keeping quiet during the ceremony, which was rather lengthy for a four-year-old.

Until they broke out the holy water. Then it was all over.

"Woah! She's all wet!"

"And he's wet too!"

"Look at that baby---he's SOOOO cute!"

You would have thought we were at a Seahawks game the way he hollered.



Kneeling at the altar for Communion, the priest hands Marshall a nice piece of bread.

Priest: "The bread of life."
Marshall: "Thank you."
Priest: "You're welcome."
Marshall: Starts to chew. Then very loudly: "Hmmmm mmmmm."


Priest: "I'll give your compliments to the baker."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December raves & faves

Can we pretend that the last one of these was not August? I think...

And while we're at it, can we pretend that I wrote regularly all through that crazy MBA first quarter? I had big dreams of keeping up with all my hobbies, exercising regularly, etc, etc, etc. And then came Finance...

But I digress.

Here's what's entertaining the Thompsons right now:

Afterlight | I was a big Snapseed fan until Grace Patton over at Camp Patton talked about Afterlight. I find it easier to manipulate photos, and the filters are excellent. Check out the tutorial on Camp Patton here.

This Sugar Cookie Recipe | I let the dough cool in the frig overnight, and it was just right for holiday-cookie making the next day. It also makes 5 dozen cookies. We are not complaining.

December raves & faves

Richard Scarry Books | One of Daniel's favorite colleagues, and his former boss's boss's boss, gave us a bunch of toys during a recent toy purge at her house. Marshall is now infatuated with the Richard Scarry books. Daniel and I remember reading these when we were growing up, so it's fun for us to revisit them too.

Once Upon a Time | Confession: I have been binge-watching this show since I finished my last final. I have to endure Daniel's endless teasing about this one, but I find the plot addictive. Is anyone else hooked? (No pun intended. Really.)

Trader Joe's Advent Calendars | Trader Joe's has 99-cent advent calendars with a chocolate for each day until Christmas. I try not to think about what's in that chocolate to make 25 pieces + the cardboard less than $1.

So far I've been very successful.

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that will take you to Amazon, and if you choose to purchase items, I will receive a small (very small) amount of commission on your purchase. The price is exactly the same for you.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Making Christmas decorating easy, one age-appropriate eggnog at a time.

In my first year of marriage, way back when Facebook was still just for college students, before Pinterest was a twinkle in a DIY-er's eye, I went to Michael's to get Christmas decorations for our first apartment. It was mid-December, and I thought I had hopped on the decorating bandwagon right on time.

The holiday aisles were cleared out. "You need to plan earlier, honey," said the associate in her nice Southern drawl.

Eight years later, we've embraced that our apartment will never be featured in a Southern Living holiday issue. We have yet to "plan earlier." 

We've also embraced three key factors that make Christmas decorating easy:
1. Use what you already have. (Or what you can easily acquire with minimal effort.)
2. Make it simple enough for your child to participate. (This is the magical part, right?)
3. Drink some (or a lot of) age-appropriate eggnog. 

Making Christmas decorating easy

The church we attend hosted a night to make Advent Wreaths. We had soup and bread, and each family made a wreath using greenery from the neighborhood. It was this night that we discovered Daniel's hidden talent of floral arranging. Marshall and I haphazardly stuck greenery to and fro and then cheered Daniel on while he worked his magic to make this beautiful creation:

Making Christmas decorating easy

Later, Marshall and I spread some Christmas cheer in our fireplace with five minutes and a string of lights. 

Making Christmas decorating easy

Making Christmas decorating easy

Making Christmas decorating easy

The best part about no-stress eggnog-inspired decorating? More time for this...

Making Christmas decorating easy

My favorite aspect of our Christmas tree is the magenta sequin-studded star at the top. The sequins are falling off. It is hopelessly crooked. And it clashes with pretty much everything in our living room.

Marshall thinks it is the most beautiful thing we own. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

First Quarter: In the books.

Last year, about this time, I attended a workshop on applying for a full-time MBA program. I had to book a babysitter because my husband traveled every other week to the East Coast for his job. As a work-from-home mom that was fairly new to Seattle, I was more anxious about navigating the bus system than going to the workshop itself. 

This year, I've just finished my first quarter as an MBA student. My husband took a job that doesn't travel so that I could (attempt) to balance parenting and go to school full-time. And my bus driver and I are on a first-"Hi! How are you?"-basis.

First Quarter: In the books

Last year, about this time, I packed all of Marshall's lunches. I made most of our family meals. I proudly baked my homemade bread twice a week.

Now, Daniel is the one who makes sure Marshall's lunches are packed. He does most of the cooking. (I could not have survived this Fall without him.) I am lucky if I bake anything that qualifies as "homemade" more than once a month. 

First Quarter: In the books

Last year, about this time, I felt "new." Most of my conversations were with friends in Austin and Alabama. I was equally in awe of Seattle's beauty and depressed by its "lights out" at 4:30PM policy.

This year I feel connected. Most of my conversations are with people here in Seattle. My chats with my friends in Austin and Alabama are more positive. And I'm more concerned with understanding the Weighted Average Cost of Capital than worrying about the sun setting in the middle of the afternoon.

First Quarter: In the books

Last year, about this time, I walked Marshall to school every morning and picked him up every afternoon. I worked around his schedule, as I had for 3+ years. It was worth it.

This year, I rarely get to take Marshall to school, or pick him up. I usually rush out before he leaves for school with Daniel, and I get home just before dinner. I thought I would feel guilty about this. More than that, I worried that Marshall would feel that I was neglecting him.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Marshall is thriving. He loves that he gets to spend so much time with Daniel. He loves that both he and Mommy are going to school.

On nights and weekends, he often sees me studying, and occasionally he gets frustrated when I can't play with him. More often, though, he curls up beside me and does his own "work." (Sometimes his chicken scratch makes more sense to me than Accounting.)

At the risk of being overly sentimental, my son is proud of me. And I'm proud to show him that women in this country can be mothers and students and career builders and influencers. We don't have to choose.

First Quarter: In the books

Last year, I made pancakes every weekend, to the delight of my 100 Instagram followers (and my dad).

That hasn't changed one bit. 

First Quarter: In the books

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