Monday, March 28, 2016

spring fever

With all the traveling during the week, our weekends have tended toward low key efforts this winter and it felt a bit like hibernation. Nothing wrong with just hanging around the house, but it just isn't the usual Chunglund breakneck pace. This past weekend we were out in full force though - egg hunts, date night, birthday party, and Easter.

Saturday morning we assembled a small group for the neighborhood Easter egg hunt, which is one of my favorite events. After living here nearly four years, we've come to recognize many neighborhood families from Little Miss J's t-ball coach, to her former dance instructor, my co-workers, and many others. These are the people in our neighborhood and it gives me such a great sense of community pride.

This was only J2's second egg hunt. He got to go with the 2 and under kids, so it was a little less baby hunger games and pretty cute. Little Miss J went with the older kids and there was pep talk on strategy given by her friend's parents. The big kid egg hunt was over in about 3 minutes.

pep talk from Miss Celine
Afterward we all sat around our backyard and let the kids play until it was time to head to the next event, which was a birthday party. Face painting, butterfly wings, games and crafts - Little Miss J had so much fun she fell asleep on the couch while the Chunglund boys got haircuts.

Saturday night, Gus and I went on a double date with another couple - dinner and a movie. Then came home and played Easter Bunny.

my little bunnies
Church, brunch with the in-laws, delicious dinner at the neighbor's, and J2 only hit the neighbor girl in the face once - a good time was had by all.

cakes for the littles
a restaurant worthy Easter menu
I only took a few food pictures, because at some point I became more invested in shoving food in my face that photo documenting it. The dinner was delicious. The conversation lively. And you know it's a success when someone says, "wow, that's a lot of alcohol on the table."

Karly set up an Easter egg hunt for Little Miss J and J2. J2 apparently showed his appreciation by hitting her in the face. Sorry, Karly! I displayed my utter lack of croquet skills and decided I should stick to drinking honey grapefruit vodka punch.

pretty in pink.
The people that we were able to share our weekend with have, over the past four years, become our family and I am so grateful to have each and every one of them in our lives. As much as I miss my family in Minnesota, we could not have fallen into a better support network here.

Spring has sprung and the Chunglunds are ready to play outside, ride some bikes, and enjoy the sunny weather.

Monday, March 21, 2016

zucchini tortellini soup for the soul

There's chicken soup for the soul and then there's Kate's zucchini tortellini soup for the soul. A couple years ago, we did a little girls trip to NYC, and we sort of promised ourselves that we would do such things on the regular. This year, I thought it would be easier if I came to Minneapolis - since everyone else lives in Minnesota. 

These ladies have known me for the longest of all my friends and I'm comforted by the ease with which we slip in and out of each other's lives. We have each walked very different paths in spite of the commonality in our upbringing, and yet we continue to be friends supporting each other through joy, sadness, success and failure. These are not my "text every day, tell you every minute detail of my life" kind of friends. These are my "even if I don't talk to you for three years, you are still one of my closest friends," kind of friends. It's a special bond, not easily broken, that can withstand some neglect and continue to be an endless source of comfort. I find the fact that we can come together like this and pick up right where we left off speaks volumes for our friendship. 

We spent the weekend systematically working our way through just a few bottles of wine, bottomless mimosas, Top the Tater, and catching up. It was a most relaxing weekend, full of laughs, hundreds of dollars in change, lost keys, pungent odors, heated bathroom floors, sketchy hot tubs and foot burning pedis. 

toppin' that tater ...
selfies (literally) sipping on gin & juice
Seeing S twice in three months!
there was even SNOW!

the welcome wagon!
Thank you ladies for a wonderful weekend, and more importantly, for always being there for my whole entire life. Because of you, I laugh a little harder, cry a little less, and smile a lot more. 

motivate the mind

And the body will follow ... last week's half marathon was all mental and while I definitely made it, it wasn't pretty.

Earlier in the year I was inspired by an acquaintance to sign up and train for the Shamrock'n half marathon. My last half marathon was with Suzanne in Phoenix in 2012. I didn't train and my time was likely not all that impressive. What was impressive (but not smart) was the fact that I had actually ran 13.1 miles.

Running isn't really my thing, but I have gotten more into it over the past year or so and surprisingly there are times when I even enjoy it. Let's just say that Sunday, March 13 was NOT one of those times. It had been raining so much the weeks leading up to the race that the entire course had to be reconfigured. It was raining while my friends and I sat in the car pondering whether to brave the elements or hang tight just a little longer in the hopes that it would stop. By the time I reached the start my shoes were soaked from not so expertly navigating puddles in the dirt parking lot. I was garbed in a garbage bag, which I later had to explain to Little Miss J was a clean garbage bag and that there was no way I would have smelled like actual garbage as she was accusing me of such.

And this was the only picture I took of this whole debacle because the weather was just that miserable. Despite my training, I pretty much wanted to quit the entire time. Gus was planning on meeting me between mile 6 and mile 7, and I fully intended to hop into my warm car and head home for a hot shower. Thankfully, J2 slept in and I never got the chance. The reconfiguring of the race course meant that you were forced to run by the finish area no less than three times before you actually got to finish. Oh and Pandora Hip Hop Workout Station decided that after 2 hours, the only workout song I hadn't heard was Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." WTF Pandora! What a mindf*ck. My feet were soggy, my body hurt, but I still FINISHED! 10:54 per mile, which was under my 11:00 minute goal. I am fairly certain I could have run faster, but clearly not in the rain. I will blame my waterlogged shoes. 

Upon finishing I immediately beelined it out of there to find my family braving the elements on the Tower Bridge. They had arrived too late to see me run past, but dutifully waited to walk me back to the car. Gus was nice enough to bring me dry clothes. Unfortunately, he brought me another set of running tights, which were impossible to put on in the car when you are not only wet but also sore, very very sore. So I had the pleasure of riding home half naked. 

I have checked the Shamrock'n half off of my 2016 bucket list. Prior to the race, I was pretty sure that I was going to retire from half marathons. But after that sh*tshow, I may need to make a bit of a comeback! Stay tuned for next year ... 

about this boy

Dear J2,
I don't even know how old you are, like 2.5 or something like that. I could count, but I'm tired. You are the perpetual birthday boy and are baffled by the fact that not every birthday cake is YOUR birthday cake. So really, with the number of times we have fake celebrated your birthday, you're like 35 years old anyhow. Or 39 ...

 You are sweet. You are naughty, You are ALL boy. Crashing cars into walls, pulling cushions off the couch, and climbing on whatever is available to get what you want. You love dirt and water and mud and making messes. You recently shook out a whole sippy cup of milk onto Carl's back. Then you unzipped the couch cushion and pulled out the stuffing. Cradling it lovingly in your hands, you looked at me and whispered, "fluffy cloud." Now whenever I hear you mutter "fluffy cloud," my first response is "NO FLUFFY CLOUD" as I make my way into the living room to check on you. You are constantly eating. Some of your favorites are crab, soup and watermelon, but you will eat pretty much anything. You are still cuter than about anything I have ever seen in my entire life. 

I love hearing you talk and sing. Last night you were singing Humpty Dumpty and while you only got about one out of every four words correct, you finessed the rest as only a two year old could do. You are very interested in construction equipment and are quick to point out the "excabator" and the fact that there are "two excabators" doing work near our house.

I love watching you zoom your cars around the house. You also love playing with Play-Doh, watching YouTube, and listening to music. You know how to push Little Miss J's buttons and seem to take pleasure in doing so. You DO NOT like it when she scolds you by saying, "bad baby."

You are the person that loves me most in this world. No one loves me like you do. The way you smile when you see me and say, "mommy home," is quite possibly the best thing this world has to offer. I have been traveling often lately and when I come home all you want to do is lay with me - smiling and snuggling your head in my chest. Our house would not be the same without your little feet running down its hallways. I have embraced that fact that you like to sleep with me and look forward to our snuggles. You will not always be this little and I have committed to enjoying every last adorable bit of you while you will still let me.

I will never tell you how much joy your little face brings me each and every day because I do not have the words. I hope you will always know in your heart that you are so very very loved. For both you and your sister, each day my goal is to make sure you know how much I love you and that I would move heaven and earth to keep you safe and do what is best (but not always the most fun) for you. You may be little, but you are mighty and you light up this world like no other.

Love you more than all the fishes in the sea,


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

got crabs?

Minnesota has spaghetti feeds. California has crab feeds. The end of February was the annual crab feed, which is the largest fundraiser for Little Miss J's school. Last year we attended as guests. This year as a parent, not only did I attend, I made baskets for the silent auction and helped set up the venue. Oh and Gus made a cheesecake for the dessert auction. Gotta get those parent hours!

putting her to work!
 After all that hard work, we had a blast at the event. We managed to get a number of people from our group to attend and even were able to bring Gus's parents.

The auction was fun, There is a point when it becomes more about winning than about how much you are actually bidding, and there was a time when after a few glasses of wine winning was important. But as they say, moderation is the mark of maturity and even after the jeroboam of wine and the provocation and peer pressure of a certain dad, I managed to restrain myself from continuing to bid on an item. We did win three bottles of wine from our favorite vineyard - and yes, we could just drive to Napa and buy it, but it was for a good cause.

the wine
We escaped only $70 poorer and certainly infinitely richer in the good times with great friends! It was a great event for a great cause!

Monday, March 7, 2016

daniel tiger

Daniel Tiger. He's a fish. J2 had been asking for a fishy and I fully intended to indulge him on Valentine's Day. I figured 12 cent goldfish and done. Little Miss J headed to Petco the Saturday before Valentine's Day, which was also the day we went to see Frozen on Ice so she was wearing an Elsa dress complete with crown and pink cowgirl boots. 

In case you were wondering, keeping goldfish in bowls is inhumane and as such, the Petco near my house wouldn't let me purchase one because I did not own a tank. So instead, we spent $42 on a betta fish and various supplies - water conditioner, bowl, food, things to put inside the bowl including Sponge Bob's house. Little Miss J and I got the new home ready and transferred the fish. On Valentine's Day, J2 seemed more excited about "Sponge Bob House" than the fish.  

Little Miss J had wanted to name the fish, but I told her it was J2's and he could name it. Here's how that conversation went.  

LMJ: J2, what do you want to name your fish.
J2: (says something in unintelligible toddler speak)
LMJ: OK, his name is Daniel Tiger

J2 is so diligent about feeding Daniel Tiger that he has attempted to feed him small stones that he's discovered on the floor, which in his defense, look very similar to the fish food.  

the boy and his fish
He brings his little chair, climbs up and watches Daniel Tiger. So far we've managed to keep the fish alive. We'll see how long it lasts ...