The Life o’ Jess

2014-04-19 11.29.55I’ve seriously considered bagging the whole blog a couple of times … as  you might guess when I haven’t had time to post in two weeks. Gah. It’s not anti blog, it’s just so full of EVERYTHING ELSE. And while we’re always going to be busy, I can see a time, a couple of months from now, when we aren’t spending two hours of each week day transporting the kids to and from school, when I will have time for this again. I don’t want to let it go. There’s too much good.

So a brief recap of the past two weeks:

  • The house is moving along and has most of its siding and roofing, which means stuff can really start happening on the inside
  • We’ve been really appreciating the great outdoors since the weather has been getting lovely, going on nice little family biathlons (the kids bike and we run behind them, trying to keep up)

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  • Ben got a haircut and that terrible thing happened that always does when he gets a haircut … he looked so much older.
  • I have been running/workout out more in general, a nice change back to the norm
  • I’ve had an icky cold plaguing me since Saturday that I am trying to kick
  • With the crazy schedule that puts us 20 minutes from home most evenings, we’ve been eating out lots … I’m guessing once we’re in the new house, I will never want to see the inside of a Subway again.

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  • This rum cake that I made for Easter is one of the only new recipes I’ve tried in a LONG time (and it’s not even really new – it’s one my mom made a lot, but that I’d just never done myself). It’s all been super quick staples on the few nights we’ve actually been home.
  • I had two weeks of absolute madness at work. 110 hours in two weeks. Ouch. But good things came out of it, so I can’ t complain too much.
  • Tabby has been practicing like crazy for her music recital in a couple of weeks. I’m excited to see her perform.


  • We all had a nice Easter – my dad hosted and did a wonderful job of it. It was nice to be together. The kids had lots of sugar. And somehow I accidentally dressed them both like Waldo. Didn’t have trouble finding them though.

And I will try to do better with the blogging, but no promises. Because just keeping everyone fed, clothed, sheltered, employed and vaguely well-rested is always priority #1.

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Where HAVE I been?

2014-03-29 15.30.54-1It’s been a busy couple of weeks, I tell ya! We spent the weekend before last HOME. That was really nice. The kids tested for their yellow belts -SUCCESS! And we went to two birthday parties

2014-03-30 13.59.17-3We got out to ride our bikes …

2014-03-29 16.39.53-1And take a walk around the lake. Such pretty weather. Such a nice weekend.

Then the week hit and it was tornado-like. I’m really not sure where time went. I worked late. I worked early. We had engagements nearly every evening.

2014-04-05 11.57.14We got the heck out on the weekend to head to my uncle’s house in Granby. We had a wonderful time with my aunt and uncle. We relaxed. We ate. We snowshoed – even the kids.

2014-04-08 08.15.50But it ended too soon and once again, I’m back in the frenetic week-day schedule. Working lots, running to and fro in the evenings. Coming up for air when I can. I actually got out this morning for a run (after I’d already been in the office for a couple of hours). It was nice to see spring.

2014-03-26 17.01.36And somewhere in all of this, we’ve been over to the new house to check on things. It is coming along … and we’re very excited.


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Weekend, Moving, Etc.

2014-03-21 10.24.11We took the opportunity spring break presented to take a nice little trip to Vail with some family friends. We had 3 families of four plus my cousin who came along to provide child-minding services and my sister who came along because she’s a bit crazy.

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We went up late on Thursday and skied Friday as a big group, Saturday as just the adults and Sunday again as a big group. Out of the six kids along, 4 can ski pretty darn well and we had them all over the mountain. Greens, blues, even a couple of blacks. They are getting good and are such troopers.

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Of course after a long day of skiing, they generally looked like this. But then we could go back, lounge, have dinner and good conversation.

Everyone was great about picking up slack, sharing, tidying up and all the other stuff you want in travel companions. My cousin was awesome to watch them and give us some good breaks. It was lovely and relaxing.

So naturally we came home to crazy and stressful. We left mid-day on Monday and after a brief stop at our rental house, went back to our old house to do final pack-up. The movers arrived at 8am yesterday and worked until almost 7pm including stops at our storage unit and our rental house. We now have dressers, actual beds for the kids, a patio set (our only dining table) and a small subset of Matt’s woodshop.

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After the movers left, we headed back over to our old ‘hood. After a crazy day and officially downsizing to 800sf, we really needed to see progress on our new house … and it’s looking great! Then we went to have dinner in our favorite neighborhood spot and pick up the tools we needed to assemble the kids beds so they’d have somewhere to sleep! We brought home two sleeping kids and put them in our bed and then stayed up until late getting their bunkbeds assembled.

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Tabby is SEVEN!

candlesJust a couple of weeks ago, we celebrated Tabby’s 7th birthday. Gah! I can hardly believe it. We don’t do parties every year – they’re just way too much ado – and this was an off year, so the birthday girl requested we go to Vail for her birthday. She wanted to ski and she wanted a steak. I’ll go ahead and spare you the suspense – she got both.

Our ski day was the stuff of legends – so much fun, such great weather. Then we did do the dinner thing and she got her steak and mussels. I made her a cake at her request, a strawberry poke cake with cool whip frosting.

Tabby7And she got a few presents. Dad got her the barbie and the book on Egypt.  Aunt Gaga got her the much desired cactus who we have named Javier as well as some legos. Matt and Ben and I got her Snap Circuits and some cute clothes. She was THRILLED with everything.

hugs_papaSome thank-you snuggles for Papa.

kissesAnd all this birthday fun is really fun, but it’s not all there is about our seven year old. We just had her 2nd trimester conference at school and while I’m 100% proud of how well she’s doing academically (reading at end-of-SECOND-grade level), I’m very proud that her friend map was filled out with 12 friends instead of the spots for just 5 and that her teacher says she takes the time to engage the kids that not everyone has time for, that struggle a bit. I’m proud of the kind big sister she is. I’m proud of her attitude and her inquisitiveness. She’s a stellar kid.

make_wishSo happiest of birthdays and a fabulous and blessed 8th year on the planet to the little girl who made a mommy and continues to make me proud to have that title every day!

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Style Book: Office


I really need to do a post about Tabby turning 7 and some of the other things that have gone on, but photos are stuck on my camera … due to a lack of time rather than any sort of electronics malfunction … and I am not going to stop blogging just because of that little fact. There’s time to tell the tale later. Maybe tomorrow? Let us hope.

The office is sort of a new space for us. Not that we don’t have an office in our current house (when do I start calling this the old house, BTW?) – we actually have two. Matt had his office in Ben’s room and then we moved it to the basement. My “office” has always been in our master sitting room which seems like a good place for an office, but was really more wasted space because being really far away from the family never worked for me and all of the lovely built-in bookcases looked lovely but were too deep to be practical for actual storage.

But now, instead of these two spaces about as far apart as you can get, we will have one office on the main floor … so we will be sharing the office. It could potentially be a disaster, I suppose. Matt’s not quite as neat as I tend to be, and I tend to chuck first and ask questions (like “where’d that go??”) later, but I think we can work it out. In many ways, sharing an office makes sense for us. We have a lot of shared equipment like the printer, scanner, camera, etc. and we work different hours or together on a bigger project.

So after some fairly careful consideration, we have decided that the office will have a few main functions:

  1. Work-from-home office for Matt.
  2. Storage for the stuff for making: construction paper, felt, googly eyes, markers, camera, wrapping supplies, etc.
  3. Occasional office for me … when I really need to plop down my laptop and work in peace and quiet.
  4. Family work space for bigger projects.IMG_1385

We’ve really liked a lot of the pieces we purchased from IKEA for the kids desk in their playroom and my office. They are well-constructed and functionally sound. So we set off to the exulted mecca of cheap furniture and looked around their office department. As luck would have it, they had an office pre-designed that is nearly perfect for us. As a bonus, we already own a few pieces in the room that we can recycle into this.

We will have a bank of cabinets, uppers and lowers, that will function as excellent storage for all things office and a little counter space for works in progress and other stuff you need to have out, like a printer. Matt will have his desk space. Not sure we’ll do uppers above his space. They made the space feel a little confining. Maybe open shelves. Maybe nothing.

Another central feature will be a large work desk, very similar or the same as this office has. You can see it a bit better in the first picture. It’s great to have a really large surface for laying out big projects or … wrapping gifts. I’m debating about having some racks to hold about 3 or 4 rolls of wrapping paper. We do this right now in a manner of speaking –  I just keep on hand 3 or 4 fairly neutral good for most occasions rolls of paper so whenever the kids are invited to a bday party I don’t have to shell out another $4 for a bag and some tissue – and I think I would like the pop of color on the wall.


This room is really most decorated by the things that are in it, but we might also have Tabby’s ski portrait hung in this room. Then we need to have one done of Ben to add into the mix!

doorsAnother key part of our “design” for the office is the lack of door. We will not be having the builders install a door to this room because we will be installing a barn door when we move in. Stylistically we’ll probably go somewhere middle of the road of these two – no cross beams ala a real barn, but not so rough as the one on the right. We didn’t want to close off such a large part of our open floor plan with a bunch of wall and tiny opening for door, so this way we can have  a relatively big opening and then close it off when needed with a door that won’t intrude into the foyer.

And there you have the plan!

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A Snowy Recap

We have been skiing with the kids for over 4 years now, since Tabby was shy of three years old! It’s incredible to think it’s been that long. Skiing with little kids is NO JOKE. It’s at very least cold and frequently snowy and windy. It’s a grueling thing for an adult to get everything he needs into place, suiting up and carrying ALL THE GEAR where it needs to go, let alone a kid. We usually end up carrying ALL the gear to save sanity. That combined with traffic and ridiculous expense frequently made us question our sanity for pushing the issue.

BUT we saw glimpses of how worth it it could be as Tabby got proficient, but then we had to do it all over again with Ben. We had a couple of family ski days last year and earlier this year that were borderline disastrous. My boots got left in Denver and I had to wait in a ridiculously long line to rent some while Matt wrangled the kids. The drives were horrendous. We had a drunk screaming in the hall when we stayed overnight. Ben WOULD NOT LISTEN. At one point last year I was so fed up with equipment carrying that I consigned the lot of our skis to a ski valet for some ridiculous price just so I didn’t have to carry them a couple blocks.

And then, this past weekend, it just clicked. Ben can suddenly ski. And not just the easy slopes that bore the rest of us, but some pretty awesome terrain. Intermediate slopes, through trees and over bumps. He (mostly) listens. He is enthusiastic. He is excited. It was FUN. The good snow and equally good weather helped, no doubt, but it was great. Matt and I took him up for a solo day with Mommy and Daddy on Saturday and then the whole family, Papa and Gaga included went with us on Sunday. We were up for hours and really really enjoyed ourselves.

Back in January when my sister and I were up for a ski day with just Dad, I thanked him for teaching us to ski. It’s a sport I truly LOVE and so I really appreciate that he took the time and energy and money to teach us and I think I’ve always appreciated it at some level. But it’s only now that I’m a parent that I fully realize the commitment it took to getting two little girls up on a Saturday morning and onto the slopes. And while I’m sure my mom played her part, probably in getting gear ready and undoubtedly other ways, it was always Dad’s thing to take us skiing. That’s a pretty awesome dad.

And I’m more than glad to be able to return the favor for my own kids. Hopefully they’ll be skiing with me into my 60s.

Posted in Fitness/Outdoors, Life, Parenting | Comments closed

Style Book: Dining Room

picnic table

Our new house won’t be much bigger than our current house. Most of the additional square footage will come from our “bonus room” above the garage which is going to be our workout room (style book on THAT later). But, due to various reasons (like the fact that our dining furniture came from IKEA almost 12 years ago – guess how awesome it looks now!), we will need some new furniture.

One of the biggest reasons we decided to sell was for more entertaining space. We love to have people over. It’s never formal (we will, again, have no separate dining room from a kitchen eating area), but it’s always fun. We all enjoy having a big group over to share a big pot of soup or a bunch of homemade pizzas.

This kind of informal entertaining brings to mind a long table with benches on either side. I love this look and it seems just about right for the kids. I’ve found some great benches with tables, but I wonder if we would miss the backs on the chairs.

allSo another option we’ve been looking at is to buy a fairly simple dining table – the one above is from Crate and Barrel and then put a mish-mash of chairs around it. The kids currently sit on folding chairs I spray-painted funky colors, so I thought bringing in a couple of Marais A Side chairs from Industry West in similarly funky colors could be fun and finish it off with some pretty simple chairs on the cheap from IKEA. Or maybe we’ll do both. Jury is out.

cabinetWe also need to replace our 12-year-old IKEA side bar. It’s been through two moves and is pretty crumbly by this point. The simple industrial look of this piece from PB Teen caught our eye and we found it on a great deal a few weeks back and bought it. It’s getting sent to the old house and will move to storage with the rest of our surplus furniture. I like that unlike our sidebar, it will hide away the STUFF.


Lastly, we will want to accessorize a bit. The dining area is open on one side and has lots of windows and the cabinet is fairly tall, so we probably won’t have much on the walls. Just maybe some typographic art. But we will need window coverings. I’m thinking fairly standard panel curtains in a nice mellow graphical print. We may also elect to swap out the provided light fixture for something a bit more fun … though certainly nothing we have to do immediately.


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Weekend Wrap-Up

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It was  good, kinda fun, “normal” weekend. I say normal to mean what most people think of as a normal weekend. Leaving town to go skiing or camping is plenty normal for us.

My sister hosted Bunco Friday night. Only four (of 12!!) of us showed up. I had some righteous indignation over flakiness and then let it go. The kids were home with Matt, having McDonald’s and playing with their friends who (now) live across the street.

Saturday, Matt took the kids to karate and Kelly and I went to my Dad’s house to go through more of Mom’s things. More clothes, bags, scarves, jewelry, toiletries, and on and on. It was probably a little easier than last time, but still hard. Matt had dropped off the kids to me after karate so he could go do a little work on the old house and when we were done, we tried to go to the new Trader Joes, but the ridiculous wait times (25 min just to check out!!) combined with a meltdown, sent us to alternative groceries.

We spent the balance of Saturday at home just chilling. I finished my book and we did some picking up. We were probably in bed by 10:30.

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Sunday morning, Matt left for a massage and some more work on the house and I went out to my funky little workout room to run. I left the kids inside to finish their breakfast and clean their room. They did very well, aside from Tabby wanting to take over.

After Matt got back, we met up with some friends for lunch at our favorite fish & chips place and a trip to the museum. It was nice to have the kids out and about and engaged. A really great day.

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Post museum, we zipped by our site to check out our newly formed walls. They look great and we’re really getting a sense of our house on the lot. The kids were really into it, despite Tabby’s expression in this photo (she refused to wear a jacket and was therefore cold). Then we had a lovely Sunday dinner with Papa and Gaga and then home for bed.

Tabby unfortunately woke up in the middle of the night feeling pukey. So she is not at school today, but rather, is hanging at home with Daddy. Poor kiddo.

So I got an awful lot of the things on my to-do list checked off. We had some fun. We tried something new – though it wasn’t the ambitious Beef Wellingtons – just a variation on a Costco staple (pulled smoked pork) with a slide of apple slaw. I finished my book. I got my “long run” done. We checked out the house. We got ahead of the cooking. Now it’s just a short week ’til we head up the mountain to celebrate Tabby turning 7.

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Whaddup Weekend?

We are home again this weekend! And I have plans!

  1. Do some fun photogging with the kiddos. Feel like my camera hasn’t been getting a work out lately and the kiddos are getting big before my eyes!! Tabby is turning 7 a week from Tuesday!! lego_movie
  2. Get out and have some real fun: check out our new Trader Joes, see the Home & Garden Show or the Lego movie … or our newly expanded Science and Nature Museum. Lots of good choices!
  3. Get all the lingering cardboard boxes of random crap gone. beef wellingtons
  4. Make something NEW for dinner! Like these mini beef wellingtons from Jamie Oliver. mmmmmm
  5. Go for a “long” run, i.e. 5 miles. Sad that that is long at the moment, but I’m going to make a comeback! Really!2014-02-19 18.54.08
  6. Sew the freaking patches on the kids’ karate uniforms. Already lost the first set somewhere in a moving box and replacing them cost us $40 ($40?! for patches!!!) But, apparently they cannot test for their belts without these magical patches. And they are ready to test! Wonder where my sewing stuff is in our friends’ basement?!
  7. Actually catch up on all that financial stuff. For real. anna
  8. Finish reading Anna and the French Kiss. It’s only been on my list for about 3 years now.
  9. Take our poor neglected dog to the dog park … assuming it doesn’t get too nasty out. Seems no one can agree on what our weather is supposed to be like this weekend.
  10. Do a bunch of that cooking stuff so we don’t eat poorly in the upcoming week.2014-02-20 17.09.43
  11. Obsess over the construction of our house.
  12. And maybe, just maybe, a little extra sleep.
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In the Hole and Under Contract

2014-02-18 17.18.30So things are moving along with our house. They have now drilled and poured our piers that run to bedrock for our basement. A typical basement would have concrete poured directly into forms in the hole, but because our soil is expansive, they have drilled down to bedrock and anchored these piers with rebar. Boo ya. Next comes the pouring of the walls and the laying of the floors.

In related news, we are under contract on our old home. It’s been hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that we don’t live there anymore. It’s helped that it’s staged within an inch of its life and doesn’t really LOOK like our house anymore … but it’s still the house where we have spent nine and a half years and the house we brought our babies home to; the house where we said goodbye to our dog, May, and brought a crazy ball of black fur (Loki) home to. It’s the house where we spent countless evenings with my mom. It was so good to us and I hate to leave it.

Happily, from what we can tell (based on various internet snoopings), the people who want to buy our house are young couple. They are moving from a smaller house in the city, which I’m guessing means they have little kids or want some soon. I like the idea that it will go to a young family, like us, who is in our ‘hood for the great community and good schools and a cozy little place to call home. It helps.

So … onward upward. Hoping the walls are up by weekend, but I’m not sure if the piers need to cure before they can pour the footers and walls. I should ask some construction people about that …


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  • My name is Jess. I'm a 30ish wife and working mommy. I love spending time with my family and friends, crafting up weird and beautiful things, cooking delicious food and running lots of miles to work it off. I love chocolate, wine, Photoshop, my Nikon and sleeping in. I do freelance design work for fun and marginal profit at JKN Designs. This is my blog. Read more »
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