Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Less on the grid.

I slipped away these last 3 (ok, maybe 4) weeks.

Into hectic but exciting work.

Into places of preparation away from the busy-ness of megabytes and status updates.

And in between those two extremes of intense work and peaceful quiet, between not having enough time to savoring the vastness of it, our Superman turned 4.

Superman turns 4.

We celebrated with a family outing to our first Mariners' game.
First Mariners game.

We spent some time with these giants of creation, older than all of us.

The redwoods.

We explored our city more, a favorite pastime for us, from buses and trains to planes and ferries.

Exploring Seattle.

Although I never achieved anything close to "off the grid," I was "less on." "Less on" was exactly the right spot.

And, in the words of Pete the Cat, "And I will do it again tomorrow. Because it's all good."

Monday, July 21, 2014

July raves & faves

Oh July. I long for you all year, and then when you get here, I realize how hot you are. Then by September I've forgotten again, and so the cycle repeats, over and over.

I find it terribly ironic that I have become addicted to hot yoga, a practice in which I subject myself to  extremely challenging poses in a 102-degree room, just inches from the next sweaty person, but find myself complaining about the high-80s in my non-air-conditioned apartment.

My hypocritical nature aside, here are some July favorites in the Thompson house:

July raves & faves

We are all about Neverland on Queen Anne Avenue right now. I got Marshall the DVD of Peter Pan for our flight to North Carolina, and he is hooked. (Right?) Marshall's new favorite game is to play Peter Pan and Wendy. Marshall always insists on being Peter Pan, and Daniel makes a very gracious Wendy. Marshall loves reenacting the scene where Peter Pan loses his shadow. Daniel also loves reenacting this scene, because his main job as Wendy, in this particular part of the story, is to sleep. (Sometimes I get called in to "Wake Wendy up, Mommy!")

This simple hummus recipe from my friend Claire is a keeper. I like it best wrapped in a flour tortilla with cucumber and carrots.

My aunt Nancy, a.k.a. Coolest Person Ever, introduced Marshall to Monkey Lunchbox. I have it on my iPhone for situations that are particularly hard for impatient preschoolers, like last week when we were stuck in rush-hour traffic on a very, very hot bus with the all of Amazon and Marshall decided a a fortissimo "Why aren't we moving, Mommy? Why aren't we moving, Mommy?" ostinato was in order. Monkey Lunchbox to the rescue!

I've been accompanying for a choral festival the past week, and I've fallen in love with Corigliano's Fern Hill. Spend some time with it, if you have the opportunity.

And because Daniel and I were both working with the choral festival, we've also become fond of I list when and where I need a sitter and how much I'm willing to pay, and sitters respond with their availability. We've found three different sitters so far with this site, and all three have been amazing. If you live outside a 50-mile radius of a set of grandparents, you might consider checking it out. (If you currently live within a 50-mile radius of a set of grandparents, do not move away. Ever.)

Happy Monday, friends.

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, July 12, 2014

Remember When

Do all parents find themselves marveling at how fast children grow? Marshall turns 4 this month, and I just can't seem to catch my breath. Last night in his bath, he told me "Cucumber starts with a 'C' and so does Conquer and Concrete Mixer."

When did he learn that? Just yesterday we were giving him his very first bath, right?

True confession: There's a line in Alan Jackson's Remember When that makes me cry every time I hear it. And by "cry," I do not mean "tear up gracefully." I mean "ugly cry uncontrollably to the extreme embarrassment of all those around me."

This is what I picture when I hear that song:

Remember when...

Remember When

the sound of little feet...

Remember When

was the music...

Remember When

we danced to week to week.

Remember When

And maybe you're not the sentimental parent who finds herself singing country tunes with baby pictures in one hand and a box of tissues in the other, but sentimental or not, don't you wish the dance were much, much slower? I certainly do.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

10 Things I love, and love to hate, about summer.

We're three days into Seattle's Summer, official start date July 5, and we are all collectively in that honeymoon "Look! There's the sun again today!" phase. And when I write "all," I mean all of Seattle.

Summer fun on the playground

There is a palatable lift in everyone's mood. Sunday afternoon I saw a dad completely blissed out as he watched his toddler waffling around in the community wading pool. During my run last evening, I got an unsolicited High Five from a bearded gentlemen giving himself a pep talk before Monday-night trivia at the local tavern. And the delighted laughter from the crowds at Kerry Park, gathered to watch Rainier in all her summer glory, is contagious.

It's not very often that this Southern girl sees 80 degrees anymore, so I hope you don't mind as I tap dance my way through 10 things I love, and love to hate, about summer.

1. More light. In the summer, we have daylight until almost 10PM here, which is like a nice enjoy-it-while-it-lasts gift from Nature, because in the fall the sun has a very early bedtime--lights out by 4:30PM.

2. Less stuff. The simplicity of the season gets me every time. We work a little less. We worry a little less. We even wear a little less. At least, that's the goal, right?

3. Picnics galore. My best friend and I used to take wheat thins and Cheez Whiz to the beach with us for picnics. We covered ourselves in baby oil, which my dermatologist just loooooves to note in my chart (not really, no), and we chatted about what it would be like to actually marry Mr. 8th-Grade Hunk. Now,  I've traded the Cheez Whiz for homemade hummus and the baby oil for SPF Gazillion +, and we talk about what it would be like to actually have a retirement plan.

4. Air conditioning? Meager at best. It rarely gets above 90 here in the summer, but before you start to envy me too much (I see your eyes beginning to roll, Austin friends), consider how the high 80s feels with no air conditioning. It gets a little steamy here in the Emerald City. I only know of one place that has air conditioning, a diner a few doors down from ours. They're very popular this time of year, as you can imagine.

5. This soup, which I'm making tonight.

6. Our community wading pool. The City of Seattle has several wading pools sprinkled throughout the public playgrounds, and ours is open three afternoons a week. Such a simple idea, and so fun.

7. Sun dresses. I've got my eye on this one from Zulily. (Hint, hint, Daniel.)

8. Tomatoes. My fondness for tomatoes developed over time. When I was growing up, my dad ate a tomato sandwich every day for lunch during the summer, and I remember thinking, "Why would you choose tomatoes when you could have peanut butter and jelly?" Now I can't get enough of them. I especially like this tomato-corn toss I found on the Pinterest.

9. Baseball games. In case you haven't met your quota of "singing preschooler" YouTube videos, here's Marshall's version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame from last summer:

Which leads me to...

10. Marshall's birthday. Marshall arrived, 11 days past his due date, during the hottest summer ever in New Jersey, at least it felt that way to me. This year we are celebrating by going to a Mariners' game. Marshall is especially excited about the peanuts and crackerjacks.

This post was part of a #TuesdayTen link-up. You can share your favorite things about summer there, or in the comments below. (Or both. Why not?)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The tale of 3 car seats, and a little reunion crasher named Arthur.

My real-life version of Goldilocks:

One car seat was too small.

One car seat was workable.

And one car seat was nowhere to be found.

But I'm getting ahead of myself....

Traveling with a preschooler

This last week my dad's side of the family held its every-other-year gathering. We travel to different locations each time, and this year, after much deliberation on our secret Walworth Facebook group (Your family has a Facebook group, right? It's not just mine?), we settled on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Because of the way our award travel worked with Alaska, our best deal was to fly to Atlanta, rent a car, and drive up, which seemed like a great idea when I was booking it. Uncle Cole was enthusiastic. "Adventure," we said!

I packed up Marshall.

Uncle Cole packed up his BBQ sauce.

And away we went.

[Before I continue, I should share that I am unabashedly devoted to Alaska Airlines and really talked them up to Uncle Cole. "Prepare yourself, Cole. They are the best! The BEST!"]

After an hour of sitting in the plane, still at the gate, we heard the following message, "Well, folks. We realized that this plane has no gas, so we're on 'the list' to get fuel. We're not sure how long that will take."

Uncle Cole turned to me, "This is your favorite airline, Lauren?"


By some vacation miracle, they held the plane for us in Portland, so we made our flight to Atlanta. The BBQ sauce, however, didn't. Instead, the BBQ sauce got a Delta flight to Atlanta. Uncle Cole reminded me that Delta has the little screens behind each seat. So while our BBQ sauce caught up on House of Cards, we got meal vouchers for the Burger King in the Atlanta airport.

Our car seat though? No idea, they said.

Alaska Air loaned us a car seat, which turned out to be too small because I cannot accept that my 3-year-old child is the size of a large kindergartener. Thankfully, Alamo knew better and loaned us a better one. At about 10:00PM Eastern, we were on the road to the North Carolina coast, with a dozing preschooler, an angry uncle, and two car seats, neither of which was ours.

Our 48 some-odd hours in North Carolina were fantastic. I was still working, so I alternated cuddling with babies and working on music festival dinners, catching up with my uncles and selling ads. I tortured Marshall by making him put his feet in the Atlantic Ocean, and I bought some watermelons from the cousin of the cashier I met in the town's General Store. (I received no "We found it!" calls about the car seat.)

Everything was just Walworth-perfect until Arthur.

Of all the East Coast beaches, we happened to pick the one island that had a tropical storm headed its way, a tropical storm that turned into a hurricane.

I grew up in Southeast Alabama, close enough to the Gulf that hurricanes were a common part of our late summer-early fall weather narrative, but this was my first hurricane evacuation. Marshall thought it was monumental enough to document.

Traveling with a preschooler

Thankfully, we got out in plenty of time, and after a few friendly-but-naggingly-persistent calls to Alaska, I was able to get our flights switched. "But we still can't find your car seat, Ms. Thompson."

We spent our time as displaced-by-a-hurricane travelers the only way we knew how--eating as much fried food and drinking as much sweet tea as possible, and when we arrived at the Alaska ticket counter at the airport, there was the car seat, looking appropriately apologetic for its waywardness.

The trip back was the Alaska Air I knew. The plane already had fuel. We departed early. We arrived in Seattle an hour ahead of schedule.

Uncle Cole still wasn't sold. Maybe next time.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

So long, June.



Packing lists.

TSA-sized contact solution.

Tomorrow morning we leave for North Carolina, and we're in that excited-but-a-little-frantic prep mode. We've been playing "TSA Checkpoint" with Marshall for the last two weeks, in hopes to avoid the issue we had last time we went through a security line. He keeps saying "3 hours old" rather than "3 years old," but at least he's acknowledging that we're his parents this time. Let's hope that lasts through tomorrow morning.

So long, June.

Uncle Cole and I were texting about trip details last night, and I mentioned that I am only checking Marshall's carseat. I was surprised to hear him write that he needs to check his bag. Uncle Cole is an Eagle Scout, a self-proclaimed hippie, a "pack lightly" kind of guy. I pressed him on this a little, urging him to avoid the $25 fee (It'll mean less beer money, Cole!), but he stood firm. Turns out, he's bringing BBQ sauce. (Yep. This is true.)

So before I navigate through Seattle's lovely airport with a preschooler that may or may not confess to being my offspring and a brother who travels with BBQ sauce in tow, I wanted to close out the month with a quick recap.

I shared three of the books we are loving in the Thompson house, including a gem by Toni Morrison that I hope you all run to Amazon to order.

In 500 words (exactly), I announced my plans to start a full-time MBA program this fall, and my Facebook chums got a little irked that I wasn't announcing a pregnancy. (MBA = sleep deprivation without having to change diapers. I would call that a win-win.)

I did my first review and giveaway, highlighting Norwex cleaning products. And Marshall wore a Spiderman suit.

I wrote my favorite post so far, for Daniel on Father's Day. Trying to put their relationship into words turned out to be a meaningful challenge, and the support I received after posting it was heartwarming.  There is a lot of talk about putting your life on the web, about a child's future Google-ability, and that is important. It is. But, I hope Marshall does find that post one day, and I hope the realization of his father's love for him takes his breath away as much as it does mine.

Daniel introduced Marshall to Animaniacs, and now Marshall gives every man, woman, and child an enthusiastic "Helloooooooo, Nurse!" when he sees them. There's video to prove it. 

Another blog first! I posted a link-up for traveling stories and got a tremendous response from a tremendously clever blogger I adore. I learned a thing or two about incentives, namely, that I should offer them. Coach Daddy suggested Oreo's, so next time--Oreo's.

And finally, the bread makers of the world wide web demanded biscuits, and I gave in.

Cross your fingers and toes that the BBQ sauce makes it to the OBX.  Pretty please.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Easy Homemade Biscuits

Easy Homemade Biscuits

Some people grow up on corn. Some people grow up on rice. 

I grew up on biscuits. My grandma's biscuits.

Until recently, I lamented the fact that I never asked my grandma how to make them, but over Christmas, my Aunt Faye gave me a quick tutorial. (She's like a Queen of Southern Cooking, a Fairy Godmother of Grits, if you will.)

In the meantime, this little bread recipe started a love affair with social media, and someone asked in the comments if it could be modified for biscuits. I casually responded with my normal noncommittal I-have-no-idea-I-just-make-this-one-simple-but-amazingly-delicious-bread answer, but added that I used my grandma's recipe for biscuits.


They wanted it, these bread lovers. I have the emails to prove it.

So here it is. 

My Aunt Faye's biscuit lesson came with bacon, sausage, grits, and eggs from her backyard, but I hope that you'll be happy with the recipe, as I remember it, and a handful of hastily carefully curated images from my iPhone. 

Easy Homemade Biscuits


2 Cups Self-Rising Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil

Stairway To Biscuit Heaven:

1. Mix the flour, baking powder, and vegetable oil in a medium-to-large bowl.

Easy Homemade Biscuits

2. Add enough buttermilk to develop a good doughy consistency. (It takes me about a cup.)

Easy Homemade Biscuits

3. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and form into biscuits. (Grease the tops if you like.)

Easy Homemade Biscuits

4. Bake at 450 until golden brown.

Easy Homemade Biscuits

Easy Homemade Biscuits

I personally like to use a Non Stick Silicone Baking Mat on a cookie sheet. I also personally like to drench the biscuits in honey. Just my two cents, though.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Easy Homemade Biscuits

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.

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