Wednesday, December 28, 2016

the order of the phoenix

Last year on Christmas Eve morning we descended on our friend, Carol, with champagne, doughnuts, and kiddos, in a supreme effort to cheer her up in the best way possible. Over the past few years, our little group has had successes, heartbreak, big wins, huge losses, gallons of tears, and uncontrollable laughter. All part of the rich pageant of life---and I wouldn't want to do it with anyone but these ladies.

So this year, we decided to continue the Christmas Eve morning tradition. Stephenie generously opened up her home to us, so we could sit around the fire and all have house envy. In all seriousness, it was simply a lovely relaxing morning of breakfast burritos and champagne. Breakfast of exhausted mothers everywhere.

The kids played together, even the littlest ones, and we just snuggled on the couch and chatted. Perfection. We all agree that our kids have to get along because we are going to force them to be friends just so we can always hang out. Those of us with daughters are polishing said daughter's resume in order to win over Stephenie's adorable son. Personally, I think J1 is a top contender at the moment (speaking purely objectively, obviously), but she's got some stiff competition.

Even Gus has expressly mentioned that I have a good group of girlfriends. These are the women I talk to every. single. day. A girl needs that. So cheers to the Phoenix School moms! Love and appreciate you all more than I will ever be able to tell you. Thanks for kicking off my Christmas weekend in the most perfect way possible!

Friday, December 23, 2016

that's what you get for waking up in vegas

Nine years ago we went to Las Vegas. And got married. In a car. At the drive-thru chapel ... and then didn't tell people for like 4 months. Look how long my hair is! Sorry, I digress. Try not to be overwhelmed by the romance of at all. I know. It's difficult. But give it a shot.

This year we got each other matching wireless headphones for our anniversary. Again, romance abounds in the Chunglund household. But matching headphones are, as one (that one being me) would say, nauseatingly cute.

Anyway, we appear to have hit that sweet spot in our marriage where Gus drives off to work without me ... while I'm standing on the curb ... with my hand on the car door handle. Or I give the kids his lunch for the next day because I'm too tired to make dinner.

Gus is the guy that won't buy you a birthday card, but will surprise you with diamond earrings because it's a Wednesday. I'm OK with that.

All in all, we've had a good year. New career challenges, many blessings, and lots of fun times with our little associates.

We managed to get away for a long weekend and head to Sonoma in early November. To get that to happen, I had to cry (probably more than once, let's be honest)---but I've got no shame in that game, if it means a mini vacation. We wined, dined, spa-ed, and shopped. Pretty much all of our favorite things.

Who knew that the cocky 19 year old, who wanted to talk about his ex-girlfriends, ad naseaum (who were,by the way, all named some derivative of Katherine, and used to send him mixed tapes on the regular) would one day 10+ years (and several interim relationships) later turn out to be my forever?

Yet here we are. Making it work. And having some fun while doing so.

This is real. It's life. It's hard. It isn't perfect. It's messy. Anyone who knows us, knows we aren't some quote on a Hallmark card. It wasn't love at first sight---because really, I was only hanging out with him because I liked his friend. He isn't the last thing I think about before falling asleep. That thought is usually reserved for something along the lines of ... YESSS! J2 IS ASLEEP!

But the fact that we can survive the mundane is what defines us. That through the noise of all the real life BS, he is in my heart. Always. Forever. He isn't the one I waited for. But somehow we found our way back to each other. Swoon, cue the soundtrack ... but full disclosure, it was MySpace. He wasn't my first. But he is my last. It is what it is. We are what we are. And quite frankly, I wouldn't want it any other way.

All kidding aside, Gus is the one who catches me before I fall, who believes in me when I don't even believe in myself, and who knows I can when I think I can't. He is everything I never want to be without. I couldn't ask for more than what we have, what we are, and what we are yet to become, as long as we always do it together. I love him, and even more than that I love us. We have been unstoppable these last nine years, and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Cheers to 9 years of Chunglunds! 

Matching pajamas. See! Nauseatingly cute.
Sorry about your man card, Gus. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

the best of me

It all really hit home last night as I lay in bed with my favorite 6 year old. Even thinking about it this morning brings tears to my eyes. As I tucked J1 into bed, she told me, "I had a great day today." When I asked what her favorite part of the day was, it was making hot chocolate together after dinner.

It was just that 10 minutes of being together. The best part of her day. And during that 10 minutes, I was trying to hold my shit together because there was spilling, leftover glitter, and an obscene over consumption of marshmallows, among other things. Let's just say, it did not actually feel like the best part of my day.

So it was heartbreaking to know that her favorite part of the day was just being with me in spite of all those things. Even more heartbreaking is that during the week she rarely even gets the best of me. She gets a few hours after work---after I have generally given about everything I have to other people. In that few hours there is reading, brushing teeth, picking up her room---during which time I am also trying to inhale some food (and let's be honest, probably a glass of wine).

Even writing this post is tough. Don't get me wrong. I am a kick ass mom. My neighbor and I joke about being worst moms. But we get shit done---careers, kid birthday parties, soccer practice, Disney on Ice (well, that one was Gus), Santa. We're showing up. We're doing it. Although, I totally flaked on signing up for soccer snacks this season. Oops.

But seriously, last night reminded me that I just need to dig a little deeper. There is nothing I wouldn't do for J1 and J2. I love them with a fierceness that I never knew was possible. If anyone deserves my best, it is them. No question. So here's to being better. Embracing the spills. Accepting that glitter will always be embedded in J1's scalp. Living in the now. Being present. And making every moment spent with them, the best part of their day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

GS Kids

Both kids participated in the Christmas pageant---one much more willingly than the other.

J1 was a wise person. She had a few lines and had to sing a couple solos. She practiced and practiced until she had it down cold. Remind you of anyone, Ralph? She did such a good job and I was proud mama bear.

J2 is in the newly formed Lambchops class, which is for the preschool age kids. Of which the majority of them are 2-3 year old boys. God bless the teachers of that class. They all had a good time marching around the sanctuary shaking their bells ... but when they came out in animal costumes ... completely different story. I think every single one of them (at least the ones that didn't flat out refuse to even put it on) was trying to rip said costume off, some much more dramatically than others. Tears were most certainly involved.

Little Lambchop!
J2 managed to hold his sh*t together until communion. After Pastor Todd (he's an Olaf alum, but we still like him) blessed him, he sort of just stood there waiting for a communion wafer. When said wafer was not forthcoming, he lost it. He acted as though we were getting a snack and weren't sharing with him. Poor kid. Thankfully, his well prepared Halmoni had some chocolate in her purse and we avoided further meltdown.

After the service, J1 was so excited to see her Auntie Rachael.

I am really in love with the children's ministry at our church---and this past Sunday was a perfect example of why.

santa claus is coming to town

So you can see Santa on a boat, on a train, in the zoo, at the mall, at breakfast, even in the frozen foods section at a local market. We opted for a second year at the Penryn Oaks Stable. Like the well-oiled machine that is our family (yeah, right), we were a little early so we could be first on the list to see Santa. Knocked out a picture with the big guy ...

... and got the kids their pony rides before the joint got too crowded.

Then we had time for a photo opp with Olaf and a really rotund penguin.

Campfire, s'mores, hot cocoa, cookies, and alpacas ... nothing screams MERRY CHRISTMAS like a holiday alpaca.

Oh, and a train ride, can't forget the train ride.

Once it got dark, we hopped the carriage, sang some carols, and then got the heck outta there.

Our seasonal dose of Santa magic = completed. Bring on Christmas!

Friday, December 9, 2016

four days

I have about three blog posts sitting in the queue that is my brain, and I need to get them on proverbial paper before year end to meet my goal.

We packed quite a bit into our four day Thanksgiving break and by Sunday evening I was feeling cozy and content that we had it all done.

Friday night we accepted an invite to the Shahs' Night Before Thanksgiving cocktail party. A perfect night of drinking and tri-tip and home by 11:00.

Another Run to Feed the Hungry in the books. One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions. It's the largest Thanksgiving race in America, or so I'm told.

J2 was feeling a bit under the weather and had been coughing so hard that a few times he had thrown up. Gus is hoping that this was not going to be one of those times.

I got Christmas mostly up before we headed next door for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner wearing matching mother son outfits because that's how nauseatingly cute I like stuff. J1 also had her very first sleepover with a friend at our neighbor's house that night.

We ran a few Black Friday errands. Picked up some new phones for Gus's parents. Because it's not Christmas unless the Chunglunds are buying an iPhone or an iPad for someone.

Saturday, Gus took J1 up to Boreal for a ski day. I stayed home with J2. We did some knitting, watched some Christmas movies, and were all around really lazy according to my Fitbit.

Sunday was church and then ... Christmas lights! Last year was an epic fail so this year I wanted it done properly, which Gus is fully capable of doing when he chooses to do so.

Four days spending time with the people I love most was just the right way to start the holiday season. It's the most wonderful time of year!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

it takes a village

I am notoriously bad at asking for help. The good thing is that I am learning. I am blessed with wonderful people in my life---friends, family co-workers, mere acquaintances, etc.

With a new job and two kids in different schools, if felt like my life got exponentially crazier. Trying to manage remembering when to pack a lunch for J1 and a snack for J2, soccer practice, dance class, etc. while simultaneously attempting to maintain a modicum of self-care---like just enough to keep me teetering on the edge of the deep end without falling in---got overwhelming. And just like that, I have been forced to rely on others to help make my life work.

My favorite neighbors pinched hit for my sick babysitter so Gus and I could have a quick date night. And my across the street neighbor, pastry chef extraordinaire, got us the rock star treatment at her restaurant.

My in-laws watched the kids so Gus and I could go away for a weekend to find some Cab that was drinkable now---because if you know me, patience is not one of my finer qualities---and to remember that our relationship exists on a level outside of the throes of parenthood. We had a lovely time, blog post to follow.

The mom of J1's best friend offered to drive the girls to/from dance class every Monday. And when I realized that Gus and I are out of town the day of the dance recital, I only hesitated a few days before asking her to pick up J1 for the recital, as well. There was a time, where we would have simply told our daughter that we couldn't bring her and she would have to miss it. I think Gus still sort of hates asking for help, but I'm starting to think I have no shame in that game any longer.

One of my good friends, Celine, picked up J1 for soccer when Gus and went to Sonoma for the weekend. Another good friend. Tana, brought her to/from Girl Scout camp this past summer.

So yeah, it takes a village, and I'm so so lucky to have one. I'm also glad that I am able to be there for other moms who need help. Whether it's driving someone to Girl Scouts, assembling furniture, or stopping by with a bottle of sparkling for a quick pick me up. I am part of an incredible community of mamas that are truly there for each other through it all.

While impossible to get everyone in one photo, here's a few of the women that have made my life easier, my days brighter, and my life fuller. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

it's just lunch

My dear friend, Jenn, has set a goal to make it through her backlog of blog posts by the end of the year. I shall endeavor to do the same. This one is from a little lunch we had last summer. The reason I've been putting it off is because I keep forgetting to scan the menu and wine list---which is critical to this post. 

In an effort to "bond" the associates at my firm indulged in an over the top lunchtime meal at a little place called The French Laundry. Now, I have wanted to eat here for a loooong time---well before we ever moved anywhere remotely close to Napa. Since coming to Sacramento just over four years ago, I have often thought that if we're going to splurge and eat there, we should definitely do it now while we are within driving distance because if we ever move farther away I had sincere doubts that we were coming back just for a meal. And then, just like that, I landed a dream job with like minded people and we concocted a plan to pay a visit to a world renowned restaurant.

There's really not much more to say---so I will let the food do the talking.

Oysters and caviar. This might have been my favorite dish.

Six kinds of salt. WHAT!? Mind blown. Anyway, it was to accompany the foie gras but I was so enamored by the salt I forgot to take a picture of the foie. For shame.

This tops the list as the most indulgent experience in my life. And how does one NOT bond over a gluttony and spending an obscene amount of money on lunch. I mean, after sharing a meal that costs much much more than my paycheck, we should probably all be BFFs.

In all sincerity, I have landed at a truly good place to work. Which I can say with confidence because I have also worked at some challenging (note the use of euphemism) places. I am so grateful to be part of this firm.