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a frozen halloween

For the love of your kids, and only your kids will a parent watch the same movie (frozen in my household) over 100 times in the course of 3 months (slight exaggeration). What’s not an exaggeration is that I can recite every.single.line of that movie and my husband and I bust into song exactly like all of the other youtube videos of parents’ car debutes of “Love is an Open Door”. So there should have been no surprise when it comes to Halloween costumes as well as 2 year old birthday party themes: FROZEN is the only option. For now, I’ll focus on Halloween’s rendition of the Weinstock’s take on Frozen.

{{First off, thank you pinterest.}}

Evelyn will be collecting candy this year as none other than the Queen herself, Elsa. Don’t you worry, her side-kick Nora won’t be far behind in her first Halloween appearance as Olaf. While Target supplied Evelyn’s beautiful ballgown, pinterest and my craft closet inspired my crafting abilities take on Olaf. While my friends may claim me as crafty – this costume took little to no skill. If you look closely at the “stitching” it will be a miracle if one of the felt “buttons” doesn’t dangle off within the first block of trick-or-treating.

unnamed

In case Nora falls asleep on her side-kick responsibilities, Evelyn’s candy basket is Olaf’s head so that take’s some of the pressure off Nora for her first year — we know it can be extremely overwhelming collecting extreme amounts of candy fo’ free :)I have a feeling Halloween’s from here on out are going to be so much fun!

mary-poppins-and-bertThis year, Sam and I are even dressing up for a friend’s party! It’s been three years since we’ve dressed up as Juno & Bleeker & while Sam still has his knee high socks & all too high gym shorts on reserve, I’m feeling a bit outgrown for that costume so we are attempting to pull off Mary Poppins & Bert  (the chimney sweep guy). Other options we considered/were suggested to us were: Patty & Doug Funny, Guess Who Game Pieces, Princess Laya & Luke Skywalker; Victoria & David Beckham, Bacon & Eggs, Wonder-Woman & Superman; Piglet & Pooh… just to name a few. If you’re still considering what to be – here’s a cute link to couples costumes. The cutest family costume I saw when hosting a Fall Fest at a Community Center was the characters of Scooby do! The family was adorable and the costumes were simple and appropriate.
I’m excited to post photos of the girls out trick-or-treating. Our neighborhood does it big so it will be fun to see how excited Evelyn gets! Halloween is just over two weeks away so if you havn’t thought about your costume yet – Target has had deals on costumes (buy one get one half off), goodwill is a great place to browse for inspiration & for your candy deals, check out this app and get $1 back for your purchase of a bag of candy from anywhere you purchase it from. I’ll probably post more about this app later on because — FREE money? Why miss out?
Happy Halloween-ing everyone! Isn’t fall the best?!

 

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new job

Happy last day to me!!!

You guys, I am so excited to be heading back to work for Parks & Recreation. Sam so lovingly calls me Lesley Knope from NBC’s series, Parks & Recreation. Over the past 2 years, I’ll admit to crying in jealousy over a few of the episodes as well as skimming old program guides and perusing the web of Portland Parks for the latest Summer Free for All line-up. Pathetic? I’m well aware. Just goes to show you how badly I wanted needed to be back with parks. Thank you to Lesley Knope for perfectly demonstrating my new job excitement :).

100 "Parks And Recreation" GIFs To Celebrate The Show's 100th Episode

So what am I going to be doing? I’ll find out soon! My title is Park Administrator. It’ll be a different experience from working in community centers but from what I’ve learned about my new position, I’ll be bringing special events to parks and handling the permit center. No matter what my exact job duties will be, I will be interacting with community and using my degree - double win & gives a bit of validity to my heaps of student loans! Oh, and goodbye commute! My new job is 20 minutes from my home!

I’m grateful for the job that I am leaving – it got us to Maryland, close to family and allowed us to become home-owners and for my husband to stay home with Ev. Maybe my intense desire to have my work be more than just work is a generational trait or maybe its having such strong motivation to be a part of something bigger than me and of a worthy cause that kept me motivated to find my passion again. Either way, I am feeling so thankful for all of the pieces that have fallen in place that have put me in a position to have a happy, healthy family where both my husband and I enjoy the work that we do. Not many people are fortunate enough to say that and I will not take these opportunities for granted.

A reminder for today – if you feel stuck in a rut and are not loving what you’re currently doing - what can you do to take a step forward in changing your happiness? Get motivated & take control. Before accepting this job, I looked into new degrees, stay at home options and opened my job search to things I had never considered before. When the right fit came along, I knew; although it took a lot of patience and many, many months. I’d suggest being patient but never losing motivation towards your goal. Keep the faith that your pieces will fall into place.

100 "Parks And Recreation" GIFs To Celebrate The Show's 100th Episode

Feeling very grateful and optimistic of my future & wishing you all the same.  {{Also – if you’re a park friend or anyone working in the public service field, stay tuned as I navigate the process of applying for the student loan forgiveness program! I’ll be sure to post helpful tips :) or if you have any for me, please share! }}

(thank you buzzfeed for the perfect gifs) HAPPY FRIDAY, YA’LL!

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a year in recap

Talk about abandonment! It’s been just over one year since I’ve sat down, cozied up and shared on this little space. There are many reasons for not writing, but none of them are valid enough to break my intention of writing a blog. When I first started, I used this as a place to update family and friends on major (& not so major) life events but really, when the tough events started popping up, I backed away and closed up shop. As mentioned in one of my last posts, there is always so much to say, its just been a struggle to understand the “whys” and the “hows” of current happenings in an articulate manner. This space just didn’t feel like the right venue to hash out said events for my family.

2013-12-08 16.09.16While we are still hashing, there are many good (& some not so good) updates to share. So, in a nutshell — Evelyn turned last December – her birthday present was us announcing her sister (she’ll understand and thank us for that present later, right?)! In February we had caving ceilings so we moved in with my mother in law, repaired ceilings, renovated our bathroom (still in progress:: yes, 8 months later..pictures to come!), and celebrated the lives of two very important people in our lives: Sam’s grandmother MomMom and my grandfather, Jerry. Both celebrations of life were tough and beautiful.

Pregnant in Costa Rica

In April, Sam and I took a honeymoon to Costa Rica. It was beautiful! Being five months pregnant put a damper on some of our planned adventure activities and the all inclusive benefits (just for me) but the time away to reconnect was wonderful.

And to the biggest & BEST event of the past year: we welcomed our beautiful, healthy baby girl, Eleanor ‘Nora’ Dianne Weinstock to the world on July 30th.

Nora Dianne

Evelyn adjusted so well immediately to being a big sister. When she wakes up in the morning, she says, “Daddy? Wyatt? Baby?” meaning these are the first cuties I want to lay eyes on each beautiful morning. She gives Nora kisses, asks to hold her and bossily tells me where to place her when either she wants to push Nora in the swing or wants Mom to grab a snack from the kitchen. Luckily, Nora is such an easy baby, I have not felt as though Evelyn has been neglected due to feedings or the baby’s needs at all. It’s been a really healthy mix of attention to both girls, and if anything, I’ve felt guilty for not getting to sit and stare at Nora for endless hours as I did with Evy. My 100 pictures of Nora each day would counter my guilt. SO thankful for my beautiful smiling baby who sleeps 8-10 hours each night and my helpful, curious and brilliant toddler who keeps life exciting :) I’m one lucky mama.

As for Papa Weinstock, he’s still doing well. He’s adjusted to life in Maryland. He loves where he lives and he even has time to partake in his passion of photography through teaching a small class. He’s recently been shown an incredible amount of support from previous co-workers and friends which has been such a blessing to our family. We are so very grateful for the support.

To wrap up a year in updates, there is one more final significant life event in the works: I’m re-entering the recreation field aka my passion. This change, while seemingly “just a career change”, is much more than that. Working a job in which you make a difference in people’s lives (even through the simplest thing of bringing a concert to their neighborhood) is something I’ve been missing for almost two years. It was a major void in my life and I didn’t realize how unhappy & settled I’d become. Since accepting this new job, I have my enthusiasm back and I am excited to start in just over a week. There will be updates on all of the above mentioned over the next months!

With that, it’s good to be back :)

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book review: Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

I recently joined a book group, which I am so excited to be a part of. However, life happens and in which case, last Thursday (our first book club review party) Evelyn had a fever and my father in law needed attention, calling my duties to stay at home rather than book clubbin’. So lucky you, you get to hear my book review thoughts since I missed out on sharing with the group.

Brilliance
Our first book was Brilliance by Marcus Sakey. This is the first book in what may be a series (a sequel was introduced at the end of the book). I hadn’t heard of the book prior to picking it up and had no expectations. I chose not to even read the back cover to get a hint of what it was about and in this case, I was happy that I hadn’t. I am the type who looks for parallels, deeper meaning, hidden plot lines, etc. and this book satisfied part of that search.
The basic plot: In the early 1980’s one percent of children born had capabilities unfathomable to the general population – such as being able to make $300 billion dollars off the stock market by reading patterns, being able to tell if someone is telling the truth or about to lie by simply looking at them, or being able to anticipate the next 10 moves a person is deciding to make before they even stand up. They became known as brilliants or abnorms. The book is about the dissonance between the brilliants and the normals.
This dissonance begins when a brilliant – activist known as “John Smith” assassinates 73 norms in a restaurant. A government agency known the DAR is set up to alleviate fear and threat to the normals, keep the brilliants in line and hunt for John Smith. The DAR also set up academies for all children born a tier one brilliant to attend to help assimilate them into the general population upon graduation (main focus is teaching them to hate being a brilliant and to trust only normals). The main character, Nick Cooper is a brilliant that sets out to help the DAR track down John Smith, anticipate the patterns of his kind and keep the general public safe. When another terrorist activity, set off by the brilliants, kills over 1,000 innocent people, Nick does the unthinkable as he puts his life on the line to fight for all he’s believed in and take down John Smith.

Without giving any spoilers away, this book has many twists and turns, keeping it a fast and easy read. The writing makes it easy to get inside the mind of Nick Cooper as he anticipates his next move, gambles with trust and unfolds patterns both past and present as the plot unravels to its conclusion. While some of the storyline was predictable, it was a very fun and exciting read. It was easy to put myself in the story as it took place in 2013 and depicted special traits in individuals that could be both a nuisance and a blessing (which I think we can all agree, we all have them). Our traits just are not as heightened and as advanced as the brilliants in the book but I had fun talking with my husband about what my super-enhanced trait may be: organization. It’s been fun to wonder what enhanced traits co-workers, family and even my daughter may secretly be living with in this alternate universe (as I sit hoping my daughter doesn’t end up as a tier one – another topic of discussion in itself).
I would definitely recommend this book as a fun, easy read. Well written, easy to dive into and engaging. Looking forward to the sequel coming out sometime next year (2014).

1

the green wedding

The last weekend in September, Sam and I flew to Minnesota to celebrate my good friend Mikka’s wedding to her love, Adam.  This was the first trip that Sam and I took without Evelyn.   Sam’s mom, who Evelyn will know as Neena, watched her and our pup for the weekend which gave them some much needed bonding time without us hovering over every move Evy makes.  It gave Sam and I some much needed bonding and reconnecting time as well.  It was pure magic, for all involved.

Our first trip away!

Our first trip away!

The weekend consisted of ugly crying (all by me).  It started when we were dropped off at the airport.  Ugly crying all the way to the check in desk… and then to the TSA security guard who told me to suck it up and enjoy time away from the baby because it will be a long time til the next time we get the chance. Great advice – followed by the lady in front of us who was also near ugly crying about leaving her chuahaha for the weekend as well.  That helped me get over it as did the bloody mary’s we enjoyed pre-flight.  This also stepped in as a night cap for the flight.

When we landed in MSP, we had one stop before our five hour drive north to Grand Marais, MN (yes, it was truly right next to Canada).  Our stop was to pick up the wedding cake (!) & the grooms cake (holy pressure batman!)  The baker assured me that the beautiful three tiered wedding cake would be fine as long as we didn’t slam on the breaks and kept the air conditioning on.

The view from Devil Track Resort

The view from Devil Track Resort

The drive was beautiful.  The radio was choppy so Sam and I sang/rapped to each other (will smith was the fave), chatted about anything and everything and snapped lots of blurry side of the road scenery photos trying to catch the fall colors.  When we finally arrived to the resort around 9:30 p.m. – Mikka was there to tackle me with a huge bear hug & happy tears.  She went to the back to take out the cake and IT HAD TOPPLED OVER!  We never slammed on the breaks & we froze our tushes off the entire way FOR THAT CAKE!  Mikka’s response? ‘No biggie – Adam didn’t even know we were having a wedding cake’ – BEST BRIDE EVER!  The groom’s cake was in perfect condition which was her real concern.  The cake came back to our cabin with us (ya know, to hide it from the groom).

Friday, Sam and I headed into town to have breakfast, see the town and enjoy each other.  It all sounds so cheesy but it was so necessary.  We noted that it felt weird not to have Evelyn with us, but it was easy to go back to how it was when it was just us.  {{We’ve still got it.}}  We were even able to get a bit of a hike in before the rehearsal.  Picture perfect day on the beautiful north shore.  Friday night concluded with memorable quotes from Sam including when I tried to tell him there’d be no more wine, he chanted “WINE NOT? WINE NOT?” & “BABY FREE WEEKEND! WINE NOT!?”  He’s adorable.

Superior Hiking Trail

Superior Hiking Trail

superior hiking trail

Saturday was the wedding day & the grey clouds inched their way closer and closer from 9 a.m. – 12.  An outdoor wedding was the goal for the bride & groom and I have to give them credit, the clouds did not falter their determination in any way.  Another goal was to not see one another before the wedding, so when decorations outside began to blow over and the rain turned into what we so enduringly named, Hurricane Green, communications on the game plan were tunneled through a chain of messengers running back and forth with the same message, “whatever Adam wants….” Or “ whatever Mikka wants..”   Adorable.

Hurricane Green

Hurricane Green

The beautiful bride

The beautiful bride

A compromise was made for having the wedding in the reception tent.  I mean it when I say, THIS WEDDING WAS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WEDDING I’VE EVER WITNESSED.  The love in this tent.  While there were tables blowing over and rolling towards the tent, Mikka & Adam recited their vows to one another in perfect fashion.  Mikka referenced Adam’s love of cars and Adam promised to stand by her no matter what.  Here is where I began to ugly cry:  Mikka’s niece, Louise, had vows to exchange as well.  Mikka & Adam have taken on parental responsibilities of this little angel who adores them.  Mikka vowed, Adam vowed and then Louise recited hers which were filled with requests such as, “all I ask is that you continually encourage me and that we do awesome things together…”  ALL THE UGLY CRYING HAPPENED OVER HERE.  One hand holding the wall of the tent and the other hand wishing I had thought to grab tissue as I blotted my eyes with my shawl.  BEAUTIFUL.

The bride with Jes & I

The bride with Jes & I

Everything from start to finish was so well thought out:

  • Welcome baskets in each cabin filled with snacks, games, activity books, scavenger hunt, sports drinks
  • Pre-wedding appetizers of pickled herring, cheese, crackers & spiked hot cocoa
  • After wedding green drinks (thin mint)
  • The bridesmaids each had a different color which just so happened to be each of our favorite color (mine was teal) – black dresses that we could style multiple ways, paired with shawls, jewelry, ankle ties, make up and nail polish of our color
  • A caricature artist
  • Bloody Mary bar
  • Late night snacks of nachos & wings
  • Candy bar with a chocolate fondue fountain
bridesmaid cup

bridesmaid cup

It was just all so perfect.  Mikka & I need to go into the wedding planning business (right, mikka?) Sam and I had a great weekend and were so happy we could be there to witness such a magical marriage take place.  AND MY PARENTS EVEN DROVE 2 HOURS TO GIVE US A HUG ON SUNDAY (because we needed it). Oh, & Evelyn had a great weekend with her Neena as well (big thanks to Neena – maybe we’ll do this more often?). Such sweet family & friends.

mr. & mrs. green

mr. & mrs. green

Cheers to the newlyweds on the beginning of something truly beautiful.

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honey,.. there’s a stranger in our car

Last weekend, Sam and I had a little get away to one of my best friend’s wedding in Minnesota.  It was absolutely wonderful (more about that later).  Needless to say, coming down off a high from the weekend, while struggling to get back into the weekday grove left me in a bit of a fog.  Monday’s are my roll out of bed, shimmy to the car, autopilot all the way to work, wake up to coffee.  Tuesday’s however, I wake up early to shower, make a bottle, wake up miss e, change, dress, feed her – all before 6 (if I’m on time).  This Tuesday was different though, this Tuesday, I woke up much before my desired cup of coffee.

I was running on time, having completed my list of to-do’s all by 6 a.m.  With Evy in my arms, bags strung over my shoulder, and keys in my hand – I opened my front door about to load up and head out only to notice that my car’s dome light was on and there was a stranger sitting in my passenger seat, looking through my assortment of cds.  My first reaction was, ‘hm,.. I didn’t know anyone else had the same car as us on our block’… then shifted to,’ is that my car?’ … then the next move was, ‘let’s find out by locking my car’.  Sure enough, with the hit of the lock button, I locked the intruder into my car.  I think both he and I were in disbelief as he stared at me and I at him.  He locked in my car, Evelyn and I standing in the front door of my home.  Realizing safety in numbers, I finally alerted my sleeping husband: “honey,… there’s a stranger in our car!”  In my distracted efforts to wake him up, the stranger found the unlock button and ran out of my car.

Either I had startled him moments after his entry, or he’s not into our Rockabye Baby cd’s because he left the scene empty handed & our car in perfect condition.  Even so, I felt the obligatory, “I’ve already called the cops…” threat as he ran down the street was necessary.  The cops came, neighbors were alerted & our house is now a fortress of security.  Really though, we probably forgot to lock our car door as we carried groceries in the night before.  Not to say that anyone entering a vehicle (not their own) is permitted, but we welcomed the chances in our forgetfulness, rush & fog from the weekend’s prior activities.

Our beloved car

Evelyn was perfect through the entire morning ordeal.  For all I know she was probably waving to the man while I was holding her in my arms (that’s her new favorite thing).  It’s a bit funny to reflect as you can never predict how you’ll truly react in a situation such as this.  Never did I think I’d just stare at him, continually hitting the lock button to keep him in my car.  Or, never did I think I’d actually go outside and yell after him as he fled the scene.  And never did I think I’d be laughing about this just two days later.

Lesson learned here, folks – lock your car doors & if you can – buy a house with a garage!

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we’re still here!

It’s been just about a month since our trip to Portland (which means, it’s also been a month since our last update to our cozy space here).  We’re still here! (I did suggest there may be a bit of a hiatus as we settle down from the events spurred by our trip.)

To recap:  Portland still exists in all of its beauty, uniqueness and charm.  Due to such acknowledgement, we made sure to frequent a few of our favorite spots while there such as:

  • The Lovejoy Deluxe at Lovejoy Bakers
  • Any one of the daily specialty sandwiches from Laurelhurst Market
  • The tapas menu from Hoyt 23
  • Thai from our old usual place in the pearl (ya know.. that place since I can’t seem to remember the name)
  • Stumptown coffees & lattes
  • Café Nell bloody mary
  • Salted Caramel & Balsamic Cracked Pepper Strawberry Ice cream cones from Salt n Straw
  • … among a few other local eateries

Stumptown Coffee

Auntie Kate

Welcome Back Weinstocks

Lovejoy Bakers

Laurelhurst Market

Yes, all of the above are food joints, but Portland is a very foodie city – to which, Sam and my list would be a disgrace but really, you can’t go wrong.  Other things enjoyed were a friends get together at the lovely Elia’s place.  It was great night filled of brief catch ups, youtube sharings, twerking attempts and learning how to prune (right?).  The boys did their thing, the girls did ours just like 8th grade, because it was long overdue.   The babe hung out among everyone for an hour or so and then snoozed during the rest of the festivities like the perfect tike she is.

my lovely ladies

This trip was more of a mission: bring Papa Weinstock to MD.  Well, mission accomplished after three straight days of packing up, about 60 phone calls to the shipping company, about 30 lattes and countless other  “little – last minute – to do’s.”  All in all, I wouldn’t have wanted to deal with all that it entailed in any other city because it’s really where I am most comfortable, confident and calm.  That city brings out the best in me.

It also helped that my good friend, Madalyn offered her adorable little cottage-style studio to us in Sellwood for the week.  It was the perfect little place and if I had thought to take a few photos of its charm, it’d be worth sharing because she’s really made it adorable, cozy and perfect.  A huge thank you to Madalyn for her generosity.

… Another successful mission was completed that was unexpected to say the least – closure.  I had anticipated that this trip would be like the re-opening of a wound.  I have missed Portland (& continue to) but the idea of potential regret of moving across the country was quieted upon returning home to Maryland from PDX.  Portland will be there should we ever find ourselves in an opportunity to move back, but for now, we’re happy to start creating a network here in Baltimore.  Portland will be (hopefully) a yearly trip (for now).

As for Papa Weinstock’s arrival – we’re still sorting things out, settling through details, belongings & future plans.  It’s challenging but so far, there are not too many lessons to offer about moving a parent closer and the idea of care-taking.  All I can say is that support and a listening ear go a very long way.  To those who have offered this to us, we are forever grateful.

I promise to not be as much of a stranger!  Here’s what you can look forward to:  A Green Wedding, There’s a stranger in my car, I’m not 21 anymore & an update on little Miss E.