My Happiness Project

New year, new beginning.

I am a person who gets completely inspired by planning ahead, but I tend to get overwhelmed by the reality of actually executing all my goals. I make resolutions and break them. I agree to things I regret when the time comes to follow through. Sometimes I give myself a goal in the middle of the week, only to forget by the time Sunday rolls around.

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Baby Violet

She’s here, she’s here, she’s here!

Introducing my lovely little daughter, Violet. She started out a tiny little squirt, despite arriving nearly two weeks late! You will have to pardon my delay in posting (she is nearly 3 weeks old now!), but life with three kiddos has been beautifully exhausting.

I am still right in the thick of that twilight zone where I can’t remember when I last took a shower…but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t today. Between nursing constantly, homeschooling a kindergartner part-time, and spending the rest of the hours reading to a contrary preschooler, my days have been very full!

Violet is a bright spot of sunshine for us. She smiles constantly in her sleep (and is beginning to smile when awake, be still my heart!), adores staring at our black-and-white striped curtains, and is perfectly willing to let her older siblings hold her hand. We love her dearly and can’t wait to see how her sweet personality develops as she grows!

photo credit: Photography by Karen Brown

We love, you, Violet!

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Books I’ve Read in 2018, Part 1

Hello, friends. It sure has been a while since I’ve written here, but I hope you’ll extend some grace to me! I found out on New Year’s Day that I am expecting a new little one, and wow has she been requiring all of my energy! (And so have my other two tots. All the energy and more patience than I have had to spare. Say a prayer for me, friends!)

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The Thief

“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that [you] might have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Sometimes, a thief comes to steal my joy. But he does it reeeeal sneaky-like. It sounds a little bit like this:

“You’re on vacation! Live your life on vacation ‘to the full’! Maybe instead of dessert, you could enjoy another glass of wine.”

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Books I’m Reading in 2017, Part 1

2017 Books Part 1

My mom had so many pearls of wisdom for me when I was a kid. Most of the time, I probably rolled my eyes at her when she would repeat one of her classic phrases, but as an adult, some things resonate more clearly. Like this:

Garbage in, garbage out.

Luke even affirms this for us: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart…for out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)

With this in mind, I set a goal to read more books than I watch TV this year. *gasp!*

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Storybook Birthday Party

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One month ago, my darling baby Caitlin turned 2!

Of course, if you ask her how old she is, she says, “Cake!”

Caitlin is a sweet and determined little girl. She always knows what she wants and what she doesn’t! It has been so fun watching her learn over this past year: just when I think she might take forever to figure something out, she takes off running (literally. at 13½ months. walking is for chumps). She studies everything around her, speaks in complete sentences, and stands up for herself. She loves hugs and being outside and picture books. She loves shoes and farm animals and helping with chores. Her favorite foods are peanut butter and grapes.

Caitlin loves nothing better than sitting in our laps and reading books, so we threw her a storybook party to celebrate her second year of life!

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A Little Soul Searching

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photo © Natalie Zhou of Nana Floral

You may have noticed that there have been six months of silence around these parts.

I took a vacation.

I needed a break from self-imposed deadlines, from taking more pictures of plates than of gap-toothed smiles, from the chore of writing about everything I cook and never cooking the same thing more than twice.

The truth is, blogging is quite a lot of work. That’s why most people who do it successfully consider it to be their job! I do not really consider myself “successful” at this “job” because I have another career that is pretty consuming: mom-ing. In order to live up to that calling well, I have long sacrificed large parts of the blogger job description, parts like posting on social media and following friends faithfully in order to grow my audience here.

But last Fall, I realized that I wasn’t doing my mom job particularly well, either. Every time I sat down to do something on my computer, my scope of attention shrank to a small, glowing rectangle 12” from my face, and my patience with children’s shenanigans and demands disappeared entirely.

Around that time, I started asking myself some hard questions. Questions like: why have I been spending so much time thinking about food, trying new dishes, and taking pictures of everything I eat? Why do I like writing about food? What do I hope to offer or gain by doing this? Is writing a food blog the best use of my time as a mother of two preschoolers (and do I even enjoy it)?

The truth is, I found myself longing for the freedom to throw myself into other projects and ignore what’s for dinner.

IMG_7766I needed to simplify. I needed to find a lighter balance. I needed to blink and look away from Pinterest, Facebook, Tastespotting, and everything else. I needed to spend time with my gap-toothed smilers. You know. The ones who absolutely refuse to stand still next to each other for a two-second photo. #alwaysblurry

I spent a lot of time worrying about whether I should take a break from blogging, even though I knew I really needed to reorganize my priorities. But while I was fretting, before I knew it, a month had passed. And then two.

And I have to tell you, what started as a break from having my attention constantly divided turned into so much more.

Spoiler (in case you haven’t figured this out yet…): This is definitely a long-winded, reflective post. And there will not be a recipe at the end. I am so glad to have someplace to collect my thoughts, but I will not be offended if you decide to abandon this post, and just wait to see if it takes me another six months to show up again.

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Candyland Birthday Party

Jake and Cake

My crazy little man is 4 years old!

Jake definitely gave me a run for my money this year. He is rambunctious and giddy and willful and very invested in understanding every single thing.

This year we celebrated Jake’s birthday in the most fitting way I could imagine: with a mountain of candy and a giant board game. Jake’s sweet tooth rivals mine, and he has spent the last year in a quest to become a board game geek like his daddy. (It should be noted here that his favorite game is called Just Desserts, which is a game where you feed pretend customers all their favorite sugary treats, and that when we play Candyland, he cherishes the pink dessert cards so much that I have a hard time convincing him to keep them in the stack.)

Happy fourth birthday, Jake! I can’t believe how big you are, and I can’t wait to see how you grow over the next year!

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First Birthday Bubble Bash

Caitlin's Cake

Somehow a whole year has flown by, and my baby girl turned 1!

In some ways, it doesn’t even seem real: she still has no teeth and she’s not walking on her own quite yet. Although she loves to enthusiastically yell, “Hi!” on the phone, she still seems to think blowing raspberries is the best form of communication. She’s still my baby—she can’t possibly be a whole year old!

Caitlin has a smile that lights up her whole face. She throws back her head when she grins, and it’s like her entire body quivers with joy. She loves her brother, she loves to explore, she loves hugs, she loves books and ripping paper (not the best combination), and she loves to put every small thing into her mouth. She certainly keeps us on our toes, and we are so glad to know her!

Bubble SmilesFor Caitlin’s first birthday, we threw a bubble bash. I bought bubble machines and wands and set out a bunch of food and we invited friends and family to come celebrate!

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“Should I Share My Ice Cream?” Party

Jake Licks Batter

My son is smart and wily and creative. He is thoughtful and determined and energetic.

And he is 3 years old!

It's My Birthday!This year for Jake’s birthday, I really wanted to keep it simple. I wanted to spend less time worrying and preparing, and more time marveling at how my tiny baby turned into this enormous, articulate preschooler, a little boy with a strong will and a contagious smile!

Jake never hesitates when you ask him what his favorite foods are: ice cream and pizza. (Clearly I have been teaching him everything I know…) So this year we decided to have an ice cream party to celebrate what an awesome kid Jake is!

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