Found

21 03 2014

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Yesterday was the first day of spring.  I can almost hear the angels singing and the weary, storm-ravaged parents rejoicing.  It has been a long winter for many.  Snow storms on top of snow storms.   Flooding.  Or conversely, drought in some areas.   When the calendar rolls over to March, the inherent hope of spring makes all things seem a bit lighter.

After moving this past summer, we have endured our first “hard” winter and now that the sun is beginning to peek out again, we are walking to and from school.  This daily walk has been a true gift.  Flowers and blossoms are bursting forth and it feels like the world is waking up.  Almost like the Artist, our Creator, came out of a gray, winter slump, bought a new set of paints and set to work.

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There is value in the gray.  Growth comes from the times of hibernation and long, dark nights.  But the colors, sounds and opportunity of spring seems to push us towards new life and hope.  My friend, Micha Boyett, known as Mama Monk in the blogging world, has a book coming out in a week called Found:  A  Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer.  Micha shares about her journey during the second and third years of her oldest son’s life.  After “losing” her Spirit life during her son’s first year, the book chronicles her journey to find meaning and connection with God in new ways.  Micha openly talks about these darker days, filled with the chaos and unpredictability of parenting.  The moments we often feel lost.  Lost dreams.  Lost vision.  Lost direction.  Lost hope.  And the opportunity God gives us to be “found” again, even in the midst of parenting and life changing before our eyes.

She shares, “…In the same way you can’t understand spring without the winter suffering, the warm thaw of Easter cannot be celebrated without first sinking into the cold, dark murk of Good Friday.  That’s why I need liturgy in my life.  That’s why I need a church calendar to guide me….

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As parents seeking to explore these same realities with our children, how do we help them engage in the realities of Easter, of seasons of darkness & light, with authenticity and hope?  The light, joy and promise of Palm Sunday, the fear of Maundy Thursday, the darkness of Good Friday and the new life found just three days later on Easter.  How can this mystery be explained, when we ourselves struggle with the dichotomies and truths of one week in the life of Christ?

I was surprised this week that walking to and from school with my boys helped me answer this question in an unexpected way.  Is there such thing as a spiritual practice of the daily walk to school?  The conversations to be had?  The observations to be made?  The quiet and the rushed steps?  They ALL work towards seeing God moving and changing, building and growing, being present in our daily, mundane lives….as liturgy of the natural world.  The bright, vibrancy of the daffodils,  tulips and hyacinths from the dormant ground seem like a message to us each day, traipsing down our street….God saying, “Hey!  I make all things new!  Out of that snow covered, icy ground….there is new life brewing.  The gray skies won’t stay forever and behind the clouds?!  There is always blue.

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My boys and I didn’t have these “revelations” or hear God in the formality of the church sanctuary or in the confines of a Sunday School classroom (although they happen there too!).  But, it was found in the mundane, everyday moments of life, chaotic and unpredictable as they may be.  Walking home from school.  Playing on the playground.  Making pizza with fresh vegetables.  Doing homework.  Odd as it might sound, sometimes life, newness and hope breaks through in the most unpredictable of times.  In the most unexpected places and ways.  Spring reminding us that new life waits under the Earth.  Resurrection is happening.  Even in the dark, hopeless gray, color is below the surface or behind the clouds all along.

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Micha Boyett’s book, Found, officially releases on April 1st.  Worthy Publishing reflects that Found is a “story of discovering divine kindness and affection in the most mundane moments of life.  With brilliant and moving prose, Micha invites us on a journey to discover the richness in the everyday—and it changes everything.”  It is a thought-provoking and yet, practical book written with honesty.  Micha always makes me feel that I am not alone in my questions about faith and mothering and helps me think more deeply about the implications of  Benedictine spirituality for “the rest of us”.  If you want to read more of Micha’s writing (which you SHOULD!), hop on over to her blog which moved to a new location today, March 21st, at www.michaboyett.com.

{this post is part of regular posting at Practicing Families…you are welcome to hop over there and read there too!}





Margin

4 03 2014

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I had a lightbulb moment on Sunday morning.  And it happened over green eggs.  {do those gross you out as much as me?!?!?}  Year after year, March rolls closer, the promise of spring, and the celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  I love honoring the role Dr. Seuss has played in the world of beginning reading, creating story after story that inspires kids to get their nose in a book.

Each year, we celebrate with green eggs and ham, a “ceremonial” reading of a few Dr. Seuss books, maybe a Thing One/Thing Two t-shirt donning, and catching an episode of Cat in the Hat on PBS Kids.  On Sunday, Alex, my oldest got out the eggs.  He found the green food coloring, pulled out the fry pan and located the whisk.  I had forgotten that Sunday was Dr. Seuss’ actual birthday {maybe due to our boys’ unGODly wake-up hour?!?}, but Alex didn’t forget.  And he got right to work on making breakfast.  He cracked eggs, added food coloring (bleck!!!) and later read Green Eggs and Ham to his little brother.

And the lightbulb was this….after six years of doing this FOR Alex, he took the bull by the horn, and he created our Dr. Seuss breakfast for US.  I didn’t ingest any of these eggs.  The green just about does in my weak stomach.  But the intention of his actions made me sit up and take notice.

How long does our modelling and setting the scene, over and over, for our kids take effect?  And how quickly can we mess things up by teaching one thing and LIVING another??  I think about these questions almost daily when I enter the classroom.  Teaching the same skills day after day and wondering if the lightbulb will ever go on and better yet, STAY on.  Then one day you do a double take and see the student independently doing that very thing you practiced daily.

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How many days does it take to form a habit?  100?  21?  Is the key repetition?  Resiliency?  Stick-to-it-tive-ness?  A safe environment when kids feel safe and supported?  My dear class of students have weathered a lot of transition.  A painful amount of transition.  Last week included the resignation of one teacher and this week, a new team starts to build the foundation again.  Modelling.  Trying again when we don’t do it right.  Practicing.  Lots of loving reinforcement.  OVER and OVER.  And OVER again.

And through all these ups and downs…through all the mistakes and all the “do-overs”….each and every failing, I am grateful for the gift of grace.  Easter is at the crux of it all; the grace welling up in a Resurrection that changes everything.  A rebirth.  A new day.  A new reality.  A reminder that power is not found in top down management and fear, but in release.

However.  Something must come first.  A discipline of sorts.  This beautiful precursor found in the season of Lent.  A discipline of seeing our need.  Practicing letting go; practicing taking on.  It is happening in my classroom.  It is showing up at home.  If I slow down, allow enough margin to look, it’s there.  The habits and practices are deepening, allowing for change and resurrection, slowly but surely.  My friend Micha wrote of this Lenten phenomenon today on her blog–

Wherever you are in this, whatever your story, Lent is an invitation: to recognize the purple in us, those deep bruises, those reckless wounds we’ve received and handed out. Lent is the season for remembering how much we need Mystery: Christ on the cross, our sin exploding out across space and time and evaporating into the cosmos, collected by the One Who Collects Us.  We are invited to let Lent clean the wound so Easter can bring the healing.

We need mystery.  We need margin.  We need practice.  We need vulnerability.  We need to deep clean.  Lent is this season.  The season in which we are called to work.  To dig deep.  To keep at it, knowing that maybe one day, this healing, these habits, these changes become “second nature”.

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As we move into Lent tomorrow, I am excited to put a few practical ideas into our routine.  I love Nadia Bolz Weber‘s ideas for the 40 days preceding Lent (found here), goals that are even doable with kids.  For instance…

Day 1: Pray for your enemies

Day 2: Walk, carpool, bike or bus it.

Day 3: Don’t turn on the car radio

Day 4: Give $20 to a non-profit of your choosing

(Sunday)

Day 5: Take 5 minutes of silence at noon

Day 6: Look out the window until you find something of beauty you had not noticed before

My friend Mel Larson, from the Larson Lingo, also guest blogged last February about her 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge.  The idea is that during the 40 days of Lent, you rid your house of 40 bags of “stuff”.This “stuff” can be things you don’t use… junk, clothes you don’t need/wear, clutter, old toys, etc.  I love the practicality of this challenge and the freedom and “resurrection” that can happen when we free ourselves of the weight of “stuff”.

I know I will fail at doing either of these practices completely.  Or perfectly.  But, habit forming takes work.  This season of Lent can be an invitation to practicing.  Putting in the day-to-day work….leading up to that resurrection and new day.  The moment when it all of a sudden becomes clear that we are indeed growing, changing and maybe even cementing some new habits.





A Posture of Learning

12 02 2014

Despite spending most of my weekdays with 30 bodies under the age of eight, I am surprised each day. In preparing to teach, there is so much to learn. We are working on a non-fiction piece this week called “Ant”. The author loves photography, travel and animals and has married her passions into book creating. I learned about army ants taking over full city blocks, others that carry leaves over their heads like parasols to create nests and later, food. Others work together as teams, creating bridges to get from one branch to another (hello, symbolism!!). We are also learning about a different Winter Olympic sport each day. I now know about the intricacies between luge, skeleton and bobsled (do you know why it’s called “BOBsled”?!). By now I have mastered when to add -s vs. -es to make certain nouns plural, but had neglected to really see WHY. High kicks for P-H-O-N-I-C-S!!!!

I feel my brain churning again in a familiar but neglected way. It’s a slow turning, but those cells are kicking back into gear. The learning edges are vast. Remembering and forming solid classroom management and behavior plans….setting and reinforcing boundaries at home, loosened over endless snow days?!? It is HARD WORK, people. HARD. WORK. And today, as I was leaving at 6:50am eldest encouraged, “Good luck, Mom. Rainy day recess?!? Full Moon?!? Hope you have a good day!” (Ha!)

Many days, like today, are tough. Lightbulb, magic moments of stretching brain cells, learning in tandem. Other valleys where failure and mistakes feel like my address and home. Learning involves risk. Learning requires stepping out over the abyss and praying you land on solid ground. Sometimes growth and learning isn’t “fun”. There is always that moment with each class (or with my own kids) where the reminder must be given, “I am not your on-demand Netflix feed of programs. Everyone is responsible for their own learning.” Or the many moments where in hindsight, my shortfalls and mistakes haunt me.

Despite it all, I am trying to choose to take a posture for learning, even modeling for the kids how to physically do the same. Sit up straight. Dress the part. Engage. Some days, faking it til we make it. The learning usually follows. The spark of joy eventually comes. Maybe even a new discovery or “flow” begins.

As adults, I think we owe it to our kids, our students, our colleagues, to ourselves, to show up. To seek to jump into the unknown, the places where we don’t “know it all”. To be uncomfortable and not have all the answers. A posture for learning might look differently than we imagine….pulled together on the outside but trembling a bit with fear, excitement and possibility on the inside. But so much remains to be found and discovered.

What’s on your learning horizon? Do you feel your brain cells moving these days? What gets you jazzed and excited?

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(My old California history curriculum binders….le, sigh. Onto new learning frontiers!)





Weight

8 02 2014

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The title to this post is misleading….but thinking about “weight” as it pertains to our emotional health.

I have been watching our neighborhood trees bear more and more weight today. We endured over a foot of snow and now the freezing rain has begun. The beautiful, dry fluffy covering has a hard edge. The boys were out playing in it and it was harsh, cold and painful.

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A tree’s branch below our house cracked and is lying in the street. Our umbrella snapped. (Oregon newbies, obviously)

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We have these same tendencies as humans. Bear the weight of our storms, hunker down against the onslaught and then finally something snaps. We aren’t meant to be holding so much. And when we try to, without reaching out, our human frailty surfaces. We aren’t infallible. We aren’t strong when we try to go it alone.

Snow storms mess with plans. They force us into close proximity. Cabin fever rages. Food supplies and sustenance runs out. And then? What? Do we wait til the breaking point to reach out? Or start to ask for help before we snap?

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How do you cope with the weight that inevitably makes inroads in our hearts and minds?

We are…
making true SNOW cones
catching up on the Olympics
eating up our pantry, fridge and freezer
LEGO creating
LEGO movie watching (thank GOD, for husbands who take boys away for two hours!)
trying to solve our children’s sleep problems….
Making s’mores
Canceling church
Planning spring break and summer fun

….basically trying to bear the weight and not break. (Smile)

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Through it all, even this storm-imposed slow down, I am feeling full, grateful and tired in a good way. It is the daily chance to work things through, live the life God has given us together. To bear the weight we each feel, the struggles we each face. To sit together, even in those broken places.

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…..and when all else fails, just put in Mom’s ear plugs!





Notes from a Blue Bike

7 02 2014

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Two months to the day from the last storm, we have Snowmageddon, the Reprise.  This was our view out the front window about 6 inches into a 12 hour, constant-flow snow storm yesterday.  We have a little reprieve this morning and then reports say it plans to start again in earnest this afternoon.

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A quick dusting at 5:45am became a steady dumping…..

and the boys were “striking”, begging their mean mom (notice the sign, “Mom’s Mine!”) to let them outside at 6:30am after school was cancelled.

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Finally let them out after breakfast and morning cartoons.

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….which lasted for all of 10 minutes when they barreled inside and stripped off all the layers.

Snow days are all about peace, calm, slowness and coziness, right?!??!

It became the perfect day to set aside my grading, lesson planning, schedule stressing and school concerns.

And pick up Tsh Oxenreider’s new book, Notes from a Blue Bike:  The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World.

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I have followed Tsh’s website The Art of Simple (formerly Simple Mom) for a long time, often referring back to her wisdom or ideas here on the blog.

When she began to share about her current book project, now in finished form, Notes from a Blue Bike, the theme resonated with me before I read a word of the text.

Living intentionally in the midst of chaos.

Making intentional choices.

Leaving margin for doing nothing.

Making choices, even hard ones, to live the life we truly seek.

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Back in 2008, we made a very difficult decision to leave our current jobs, house and close proximity to family.  A smaller town beckoned and a job that promised (in our minds) a slower, more intentional framework for our lives.  It was a sweet season for our family.  Our first born was nine months old.  We had a chance to work together in ministry.  Our house was surrounded by Redwoods, we had a creek mere feet from our back deck and the ocean only 20 minutes away.  Within 1/2 an hour we had more wineries than you could ever visit in a life time.  It was a perfect recipe for a slower life.

But…..despite our remote location and ingredients for a calmer pace, it didn’t end up looking that different that our days in the Bay Area.  The pull to work hard while balancing life with a toddler and later, another baby, took its toll.  It wasn’t a BAD life, it was just busier than we had expected and more hectic than we imagined possible “out in the boondocks”.   As Tsh reminds in the opening pages,

Life is chaotic. But we can choose to live it differently. 

It doesn’t always feel like it, but we do have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions.

Notes from a Blue Bike hits on six main areas of intentional living—food, work, education, travel, entertainment, and revival, with an added appendix on finances and budgeting.  Her style is part travel memoir, with a heavy dose of inspiration and application.  Through her example, I found myself reflecting on our family, the choices we have made, the moves we have endured.

Just as yesterday’s “BIGGER THAN PREDICTED” snow storm halted plans and schedules, we can do the same.  Living intentionally and slowly in our fast-paced world doesn’t just happen.  It requires staying true to our selves and to choices our family has made even when other expectations and voices and internal pressures feel VERY hard to ignore.

In the food vignettes, Tsh emphasizes the importance of slow food, time around the table, menu planning, being intentional with what we buy and valuing the community & connection that can be formed over a meal.

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As I have recently re-entered the working world, her words about work and education rang so true.  As parents and educators, today’s push for each child to learn in the same type of fast-driven environment may not be best.  As adults, deep down, we want more freedom to learn, to be creative and grow.  She writes,

“We are hardwired to learn, and creativity is in our DNA; we’re made in the likeness of an ultimate Creator.”

So often, creativity, time and space to experiment and explore is squelched.  As a teacher, I have a lesson plan book with detailed, daily plans.  I have larger range goals for each subject area, tied to the core standards, to ensure the students are getting a well rounded education.  Despite so much controversy over Common Core Standards and the various “swings” we are taking on the education pedagogy pendulum, I find their intention to be sound.  Deep down, it is about depth of knowledge, critique, analyzing, explaining thinking and sharing learning.  Every theory and educational approach has its “issues”, but truly, if we are encouraging our students, children and ourselves to be lifelong, intentional learners, we are on the right track.  Tsh shared CS Lewis’ thoughts,

“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

My heart sung when I heard these words.  As my friend commented, it is about being proactive and not destructive.  To offer refreshment, challenge, tools for growth and learning.  As parents, we can provide a wide range of books, out in our living spaces, ready to be cracked open, read and enjoyed.  WE can read more too, modelling an inclination to learn.  Ironically, Tsh’s book was electronic for me as it was an advance reader copy, but typically, I am very intentional about reading paper style, from the library.  I want the boys to see me reading and know that I’m not engrossed in work email, texting with a friend or researching this or that.  Encouraging creativity can mean having toys out that lead to free, self-directed, unrestricted play—LEGOs, trains, art supplies, cars.  And even in the midst of a snow storm (gulp!), pushing the kids, and myself, to be outside, exploring, getting messy and having free time to explore.

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After too much time on the tv yesterday, we said “no” this morning.  Of course, the boys kissed our feet and thanked us profusely for setting this boundary for this {uh, no…..}.  After getting over the initial, painful hurdle, they have settled into playing and creating huge train villages and LEGO communities.  In Notes from a Blue Bike, Tsh shared about the general malaise she noticed in her kids, the lack of productivity and propensity to snap at one another that began when they started their mornings out with tv.  It seems so much EASIER in the moment, but in the long run, it bites us in the rear.

Boredom is a new concept for many of us.  “Lack of stimulation and the accompanying feelings” are almost painful.  My eldest’s grandiose ideas and plans often leave me crying for a trip to the spa for some peace and quiet….  Fostering his creativity has dividends I even can’t imagine, though.  So, within reason, I am working to see his cardboard box creations, never-ending self-authored & illustrated books, hand-drawn game boards and Taj Mahal forts with a different eye.  Intentionally seeing this creativity as learning blocks for who he is becoming.

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As the snow continues to blanket our little neck of the woods, I have turned to dreams of travel and sun to cope.  Tsh’s chapters on travel inspired me to step out into the fears of the unknown and plan some adventure.  To “love the world and drink it in deeply.”  To remember that road trips {despite hours in a small vehicle with young, cranky children} can lead to memories formed and family bonds strengthened.  As we plan for summer ourselves, I am trying to hold true to the stage our family is in.  To lower expectations a bit, think about places that allow for space to explore and room to breathe vs. a fast paced, jam-packed schedule.

Tsh has written a book that leaves me excited to make some tough choices and decisions.  It is not “simple” to make these changes.  It is “easy”.  But it is “good”.

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I would love to hear how you are choosing to live with intention.  What is one change that you are making or would like to impliment?  Leave a comment below, and head to http://notesfromabluebike.com/ to find Tsh’s book.

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Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. Grab your copy here.





“Who’s in Control Here?!?”

29 01 2014

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My heart and mind want to be in this space, but I am prioritizing a bit differently these days. I am in the midst of my third week back in the classroom, working 1/2 time. We have set up systems at home to allow for smooth mornings for Matt as he gets the boys ready and off to school on his own.

But….illness happens. The unexpected creeps in.

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“Kids will be kids” and exert their opinions and desires.

Sometimes the best laid plans can’t lead to the “control” we hoped for or envisioned.

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In other unexpected ways, we are learning to hold onto what matters and let go of things we once deemed VITAL. I am an avid blog reader. It is a priority to me and a routine that actually awakens my mind and leads to more creativity and thoughtfulness. But….my blog reader has over 500 entries waiting to be read.  It sits untouched.  The upstairs playroom? The one that is a nightly clean-up MUST DO?!? Let’s just say I have stepped on one too many LEGOS as of late. I find it almost impossible to open the cabinet to access the printer due to puzzles in progress. And…..I have just let it be. It’s a big step for this Type A girl.  Some nights, the meals I planned or the recipes that catch my eye in Bon Appetit have to be put on the back burner.  Simplify.  Simplify.  Simplify.

It has lead me to think a lot about control vs management. As a teacher, I want control in the classroom. I seek an environment where students listen and get their work done.  I hope everyone values keeping our classroom neat and tidy. But more so?!? I truly desire a place where ideas can be shared, risks taken in learning and relationships nurtured. And all of those desires are more about management. Creating expectations, setting up systems to allow for growth, learning and independence.

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At home I think it is much the same. Even though I hope I have the perfectly controlled, quiet and behaved boys…it will not come from putting them in lock down mode. Something or someone always escapes. A shrill scream. A loud “NO!!!!!!” Battling wills. I have been wondering what “management” looks like as a parent more and more these days.  Sometimes it might mean holding to weekly traditions and prioritizing family time—–Friday night movie night, game night or making park visits a priority when the sun finally peeks out.

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Other times it means “enforcing” the rules.

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I certainly don’t have the answers and find myself negotiating decisions, picking and choosing day by day.  In my classroom, as at home, it means taking on A project or ONE new behavior or skill to practice each day.  It has meant lots of list making.  Lots of communicating and making sure “everyone is on the same page”.  Sometimes it means Mommy at the end of her rope, yelling.  Other times, we manage to get it right, let something go and focus on what really matters.

It might just be like survival of the fittest.  Eventually, over time, you sift down to what really matters and let the “extras” fall away.  I get worked up over letting go of those commitments, relationships and expectations which feel so important.  But for now, I’m trying to loosen my grip, “managing” and releasing the need to do it all.

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Any advice?  

Do you struggle with a need for control, to have it all together?!  

How do you balance the many balls you juggle in your daily life?  

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Palm Springer “Ten-i-moon”

10 01 2014

We are fresh off the plane from our Palm Springs, 10th Anniversary Adventure and I wanted to share some of the fun spots we went to….

this is a rather narcissistic, self-indulgent post, but hopefully you’ll just ignore and not read it or get some helpful tips!

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We enjoyed a gorgeous sunset flying into Palm Springs…

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Checked into the Hideaway, part of the Orbit In Hotel.

This fantastic spot was recommended to us by our friends and it was perfect.  Sitting area.  Partial kitchen.  And going off season meant we were the ONLY guests our first night.  Awesomeness.

The Hideaway and Orbit In Hotels provide complimentary cocktails every night, a continental breakfast, pool with free snacks and drinks, free bikes and even the owners even snuck a bottle of wine in our room to celebrate our anniversary.  So sweet.

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Hiked a mile and a half down to Workshop Restaurant + Bar.

We hoofed it down to Workshop Kitchen + Bar.

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The cocktails were phenomenal….especially the Palm Springer!  Everything is made in house and is yummy.

We thought the food was fine, but the cocktails were the draw for us!

On the walk home we stopped by the Palm Springs sign and of course, Marilyn….

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On Day 2, we decided to borrow the bikes and explore the cute neighborhoods.

Mid-Century Modern homes galore! It was awesome.

We ended up biking over 12 miles on accident, but we were hoping it off-set the cocktails!

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Randomly we rode by Liberace’s house during our bike ride and also checked out an old gas station, now a restored Visitor’s Center.  Such fun architecture.

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 We did a huge loop and ended up at the Saguro Hotel.

Rainbow heaven!!!

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Next we biked down the road a few blocks, stopping at the ACE Hotel.  We had the King’s Highway restaurant all to ourselves for lunch and loved resting our rears and having breakfast for lunch.  YUM!  The King’s Highway is an old, restored Denny’s and such a fun spot.

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Even though it was a cloudy afternoon, we enjoyed the pool and a beautiful sunset.

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The Saguro has a great dinner spot called El Jefe which hosts Taco Tuesdays from 4:30-9:30pm.  A great chance to taste test tacos galore.  We loved the chorizo and shrimp tacos, chips & guacamole and charred pineapple margaritas.

No free dessert that night, but we splurged on “El Fuerte”.

{aka: flourless chocolate cake, vanilla mousseline, caramel mousse, mezcal chocolate sauce, coffee malt ice cream & spicy pecans}

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Our next day, January 8th, we had the gift of a car and stopped by Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway….

had to celebrate his 79th in style!

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We drove a few miles north of town to the Windmill Market in the middle of….

you guessed it….

Windmills.

To get….

Date Shakes!  SO GOOD.

{from Sunset Magazine:  Don’t dare leave without trying one of these frosty, sweet, and slightly earthy gifts from the desert. The best in the valley is at Windmill Market, a few miles west of town on a barren stretch of Indian Canyon Drive. This funky bodega has old-fashioned sodas and 99-cent tacos, but the real scene-stealer is the shake. Windmill goes for maximum purity with Medjools from local Leja Farms, vanilla ice cream, and milk, all made to order in an old-timey mixer. Sip it on the patio out back and take in the mountain views. $; closed Sun; 17080 N. Indian Canyon Dr.; 760/251-4489}

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The Uptown Design District was our next stop….

tons of fun mid-century modern furniture stores—

and the amazing stores by Trina Turk.

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We met our friend for lunch at Cheeky’s.

Lunch outside, on a patio in January is NOT overrated!

And the bacon.

Oh, the bacon.

They have a FLIGHT of bacon, folks.

Here’s Matt’s Bloody Mary…in a boot!

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{awesome art outside of Workshop}

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{stopped to see Marilyn by day!}

After lots of pool relaxing on our one truly sunny day….

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We headed out for…..more food.

At Birba.  Birba is owned & operated by the same folks at Cheeky’s.

It was our favorite meal by far and so fun.

We got to sit outside next to a fire.

Butcher block with meats, cheese, dates and olives?

Yes.

Eggplant Carbonata with homemade burata?

Yes.

Rigatoni with butternut squash and sage.

oh my.

Pizza with pancetta, pecorino, egg and spring onions?

Yes.

And no room for dessert.

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Our last morning was so bittersweet.  We sat by the pool for our last al fresco breakfast.

And I shed a tear or two.

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And finally hit up Sunnylands, the “Camp David” of the west.

Originally owned by the Annenburgs, it is now a beautiful spot many can visit and enjoy.

The gardens are awesome (hello, succulents!) and many political leaders still visit today to retreat from busy professional life and connect for peace.

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We had such a great trip and are so thankful my amazing parents were willing to watch the boys to make it all happen.

Happy 10th, indeed….

now onto picking up toys.

Loading the dishwasher.

Doing laundry.

Grocery shopping.

And….teaching.  EEK.  Starting MONDAY!

Back to the “real” world.

The real, rainy, gray world!

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and a stiff latte!

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