This is the day.

I don't typically post on Saturdays, but my boot camp has me on a crazy sleeping schedule.  So here I am, up in the dark, rain pouring down, and filled with contemplation.
Yesterday, I wrote about how I don't fixate on my children's passing phases.

That was a tough post for me to write.  One in which I couldn't seem to match my words with my actual thoughts... if that makes any sense.   And, like I said, when it comes to the kids, I'm pretty cautious in what- and how- I share.

Since I'm up [@ the crack of dawn], I'd like to give it another go.

The truth is, I've shed countless 'parental tears'... tears over what I miss, what I did wrong, what I'm doing wrong, what I love, what I hate.  I worry to no end.  Some days, I feel like a total failure, lying awake at night, uselessly recounting each and every mistake.  Other days, I am super mom, flying through the day with just the right amount of kisses, advice, encouragement, consequences, rewards... the perfect proportion of vegetables and treats... of t.v. time, and reading time... of love, and tough love.

And this ride with Jacob has not been an easy one.  As he's gotten older, it's got easier in some ways, and tougher in others.  Of course, there are days I miss that age when he didn't have opinions (boy, that was a short window of time), or the days that we'd cuddle up on the sofa, and watch Little Bill, or get lost in a picture book together, or when I'd get bombarded with kisses... and knock-knock jokes.  And days when I  fret about losing him... losing him to video games, to friends, to girls (oh, I am so not ready for that).  The daily question rears it's ugly head.  Did I do enough??  Am I doing enough??

But then I remind myself that perfection has no place in parenting, and "for life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday." -Kahlil Gibran   

And today is a new day.  A day of a 13 year old mastermind, and a 7 year old fashionista.

Through the eyes of a teenager.

It's official.  Today, Jacob is 13.  Since he was a baby, we've tried not to fixate on the younger years, and endlessly wish our days away... wishing he was still 6 months, or 1, or 2, or 3...  We wanted to truly enjoy each age, and look forward to the next.  It used to get on our nerves when someone warned us how fast "time flies" or even worse, "enjoy 'em while you can."  We knew they meant well, but it was sort of a 'rain on our [happy] parade.'

But I can honestly say, that the past couple of years have brought a wealth (to put it nicely) of mixed emotions... on all accounts- Ryan, myself, and the growing boy himself- Jacob.  Emotions of happiness, regret, pride, fear, exhilaration, exasperation.  When it comes to the kids, it's a fine line between what I am comfortable sharing- and not sharing, and I realize I haven't come close to crossing that line, but I will say this.  Older kids can be a bit more complex.  A tad (or heap, depending on the day) more moody.  And a lot more cheeky.  And there days when "not fixating" on those younger years is not so easy.

Although I may need to take a 7 year solo vacation get my hands on this book  [immediately], I think we we got pretty darn lucky.  And although these older years can be challenging, they can be pretty enjoyable too - and quite entertaining.   

Come rain or shine, we commit to fully embracing the teenage ride... being one with the drama.

A few reasons why we're so smitten with this boy, as seen through the lens of his own camera.

He can be very serious...

...and very silly.

He is highly intellectual, fascinated by nature, history, & information of all sorts.

(an unknown specimen in his microscope)
But then again, he's a teenage boy- so anything involving poop (or any bodily function) captures his attention.

And speaking of being a teenage boy, cleanliness & organization are not always his utmost priorities.

But he does know a good meal when he sees one.

(This Boy Scout camp meal did not meet his culinary expectations.)

He'll always be a kid @ heart.

He loves his sister...

 ...and his parents.

 (recognize this?)

And we love him too.

Happy birthday Jacob!

* All photographs courtesy of Jacob Sessions.

The name game {Listography 2011}.

Each Wednesday, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.
This list highlights a personal flaw, remembering names (and apparently spelling too)... even when it comes to our former presidents.  Speaking of presidents, Roosevelt was a master of name recollection.  Maybe I can set my mind to it, and improve this lacking skill.  It would save me from many embarrassing  moments.
How would your list stack up, compared to mine?  Would it blow it outta the water??  Don't worry-  I won't be offended.  If you have a list of your own, link up below (and then see how the others fared)!  If you don't have a post to link up, feel free to add to my humble little list in the comment section... or don't, as I realize this is not the most exciting topic to write about. 
*But next weeks topic sure is.  See?

A cookie-cutter kinda weekend.


It rained.
It poured.
We cooked.
In regional meetings, I used to sound really smart when I said something like, "A cookie-cutter approach to ________  will not be highly effective."  Well, it was a lovely weekend, and I'd love to take the "cookie-cutter approach" to it, and experience another one just like it- and another one, and another one... very soon.
Dinner for Schmucks, w.w. sourdough french toast, board games, Inception (finally), Biggest Loser Wii, alone time (aka- kids@grandmas), homemade bread...

But, the highlights of the weekend were undoubtedly - this flavor-packed dinner, shared by Bruce (healthy & delicious) + these cookies (Michelle's description- "Heaven" was not an exaggeration).  Seriously- if you want your significant other to love you just a little bit more,  these just may will do the trick.
~Speaking of great dinners, this one- that we enjoyed last week- from Elizabeth, @ sophisticated pie was another keeper (fish cooked to perfection, sweet & savory coconut rice, & a fresh citrus salsa to tie it all together)...
Hope one of these tasty recipes fill your oven, and appetite :).  

a couple [cook's] notes...
  • For the first dinner mentioned, we used roasted broccoli (roasted as indicated on Bruce's recipe with a little s/p & olive oil).  For the sauce, we used Sriracha as our spice of choice.
  • For the cookies, we used 3 cups of w.w. flour.

Desperate measures.

This picture has no relation to my post- other than the fact that those pants are total workout motivators... LOVE.
Today, I am celebrating not only the arrival of the weekend, but the completion of 2 weeks of boot camp.  Since I shared my initial suffering and pain on day 1, it's only fair that I follow up with an update.  And a quick shout out to the gal who initially inspired my decision.  After reading about Sarah's experience (and seeing the results!), I found an amazing deal on a boot camp in my area, and signed up (not without huge amounts of hesitation and anxiety, I might add).  I related so very much with Sarah, that there was no denying that this was the route that I needed to take.  And her "after" picture simply sealed the deal.  Sometimes, proof is necessary.

Well, It hasn't been easy.  Scratch that.  It's been hard... very hard.  I was utterly out of shape in every which way- strength, cardio, endurance, stamina- and I've been inactive for far too long.  She (the evil monster trainer) is working every single muscle in my body... muscles that I had no idea existed.  And I'm surrounded by a class full of powerhouse women, not only older, but 1,000 times stronger.  I've been fairly thin for my entire life, but as you know- thinness does not equate with fitness.  And that has become more apparent than ever before.

But you've heard the story (or experienced a similar one yourself) enough times before to know what I'm going to say next.  It's all worth it.  After only 2 weeks, the soreness is still there (oh, is it there), but it's accompanied by an overwhelming sense of power... strength... energy... confidence.   And a drive to eat well, to get the sleep I need (to wake up at the crack of dawn), to move more- to push myself beyond my preconceived notions of weakness... beyond my [far-too-low] self-imposed limits.
Aside from the workouts though, they've recommended a simple solution to the ongoing issue of eating your vegetables.  And this element has been equally important in the positive results that I've experienced.
The Addition Diet. 
Not a diet, in the typical sense of the word- in which you cut food out.  Here, you bring food in.  It's not a new concept, but a simple one, and a good reminder to fill up on healthy foods, leaving less room for the junk. 

Here are the rules (in their words exactly):

Rule #1 - Breakfast:  Huge Smoothie  

3 types of fruit and 3 big handfuls of spinach (Example would be 1 orange, 1 apple, 1 cup frozen blueberries, spinach)
Cut up the fruit, stick it in the blender with a little water and liquefy once that is all mixed up add in 1 handful at a time of the spinach (till you have three big handfuls in there).  This should make a large smoothie.  Drink until you are full.  If you’re not full make another one.

*Don't let the spinach scare you; you won't even know it's there besides the color.

One hour later or before you eat anything else, eat 2-4ozs of turkey or chicken breast.

Rule #2 -  Lunch:  Big Salad

Commit to yourself that come hell or high water you will do your best to have a large salad for lunch every day.  Try to get as much variety of raw vegetables as you can find.

Rule #3 - Dinner:  Hippocrates Soup        

Begin each dinner with a bowl of the following soup recipe:
3-4 stalks celery
Small amount of parsley
1 ½ pounds of tomatoes
2 medium onions
2 small leeks
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 pound of potatoes

Chop up the above ingredients and put them in a big pot.  Cover with distilled water and cook for 2 hours.  It is recommended that you keep the leftovers for no more than 2 days.  If you need to freeze a portion, you can do that. 
If you want to be even better for dinner, have a lean protein, steamed vegetable and dinner salad.  But the real rule to focus on is including the soup.  Every night.  It is a cleansing, detoxifying soup and you are not to add any salt.

Without a doubt, I am all for taking the 'all-is-okay-in-moderation' approach to eating (as long as you're active).  But like Stephanie shared last week, sometimes "desperate times call for desperate measures."  And since I couldn't seem to get my act together any other way, desperate measures were in order.

Girl crushin' {Listography 2011}.

Each Wednesday, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.
                Image via

Oooh- this is a fun one.

We've all heard the saying, "Women dress for other women."  You know that mom in the drop off area who always seems to catch your attention- who looks like she just walked off the cover of Vogue Italia (at 8 in the morning!!)?  Jealous or not, you  can't help but admire... and if you're like me, compliment her on their boots... and [shamelessly] ask where she got 'em.  Whether we care to admit it or not, all women are attracted to one another

But it's more than just chicness that we crush on.  It could be the two languages that she speaks.  Or her unwavering poise.  Her carefree charm.  Her effortless wit.  Maybe she has something that I want to see more of in myself.  Or maybe, it's just because she's simply intriguing.

So without further ado, this weeks list...

My Girl Crushes (a few of them, anyways).

because she's sophisticated.

because she's fiery.

because she's radiant.

because she's classy. 

because she's sexy.

because she's confident.

As usual, I could go on and on, but I'd rather give you a turn.  Who are you crushin' on?  If you have a list of your own, head over to Emily's and link up!  No post?  No problem.  Share with a comment.   C'mon... you know you want to =).   If you're curious about the next list-  then press here.

*On a completely separate note (but not really, because I do have a slight girl crush on this southern belle & this Pretty Mommy)~
Please visit Jessica for this months recipe challenge!  Last month's recipes did not disappoint, and I'm sure that this month will be just as appetizing.  And if you need even more ideas to put dinner on your table (or breakfast... or lunch), check in with Michelle for this week's line-upLots of recipes to try this week- and next.

Brighter & Lighter Recipe Exchange: Beet, Olive Oil, & Spice Cake

4 months ~ 17 weeks ~ 119 days left.

Until I reunite with my bikini.

Which means serious action must be taken.

Which is why I was so delighted to read about Michelle's new recipe exchange.  Dishes to satisfy our winter cravings, while gearing us up for the promise of spring... a promise that summer is right around the corner

I have the perfect recipe to share.  A healthy cake!  You may have been taken aback, as I was, to see the words "beet" and "cake" in the same recipe.   But trust me- it's one of those not-what-you'd-expect outcomes.  Sweet, but spicy.  Indulgent, yet light.  Moist.  Unique.  Flourless.  ...& Red (just the right color for the upcoming holiday). 

In December, Ryan and I went to a Moroccan cooking class (@ Hipcooks- an LA cooking school that I wrote about in the fall exchange) .  Lots of you were curious about the recipes.  I had yet to try them, but do plan on recreating the entire meal, and of course, sharin' the details.  So, first up- our final course of the evening... dessert.
{Click recipe to print.} 

a little note...
I love Hipcook's recipe style.  They encourage you to use recipes as purely a guide.  To cook with your “inner chef,” and most importantly, to have fun in the kitchen... not stress over a measurement (even with baking, to an extent).  With this recipe, make don’t be afraid to be bold with the spices.  For instance, you use quite a bit of fresh ginger- more than you'd think you'd need, but it works.  Remember, it's a spice cake! 

Make sure to head over to Michelle's, @ Pretty Mommy to discover the formula for the perfect chocolate chip cookie (whole wheat too!) and a simple citrus couscous (a perfect way to kick-off the exchange... not 1, but 2 recipes). 
If you want to join us, there's still time to sign up!  Right here.

Fresh cut valentines.

Tomorrow is the big day.

The classroom Valentine party.

The day to celebrate LOVE CANDY.

{can't wait to see what we get... oh, I mean- what Hailey gets}

Heart & lollipop instructions can be found here!                    

I love LA {Listography 2011}.

Each Wednesday, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.

This list was pretty simple, considering the fact that most of the teams I've seen play are right here in Los Angeles- or very nearby.  With the exception of the Rangers.  This was my favorite game of all... a perfect way to truly experience New York.  Nostalgia, testosterone, men in uniforms, stadium food, jerseys- a timeless pleasure.
And you?  Which teams have you seen play?  If you have a list of your own, head over to Danielle's and link up... Or, simply share with a comment.  Speaking of teams, we have a little Listography team of our own who've contributed fantastic lists each week.  Make sure you take a peek.
* 'On deck' for next week:  same sex crushes.

Good... & bad combos.

The Super Bowl party was a success.  Seven batches of dough.  Ten grilled pizzas.  And lots... and lots of toppings.  Since you were all so generous with your suggestions, I thought I'd share some of the favorite combos...
  • Barbecue chicken (with caramelized onions, cilantro, chicken, BBQ sauce, Fontina, and smoked mozzarella)
  • Hawaiian (one with pineapple, Canadian bacon, Fontina, mozzarella, and another with the addition of caramelized onions, smoked mozzarella, and pepperoncinis)
  • Valerie's mushroom, goat cheese, and truffle oil pizza (thanks Valerie!)
  • Veggie (with pesto, kalamata olives, pepperoncinis, marinated artichokes, roasted yellow tomatoes, Fontina, and smoked mozzarella)
  • Classic (good ol' pepperoni and sausage- with mozzarella and Fontina)
  • We made four different types of crust- herb, whole wheat, white, and Parmesan.
{There were others- plus others from your suggestions- that we wanted to try (and have on our list to try next time) this beauty, created by Bruce.}
Though the party was a success, I ended up getting sick- right in the middle of it.  That, plus being up at 4:30 am the next morning for my first day of boot camp, did not make for a good combination.  As you may recall, I was ready for a change in my exercise routine, and finally took action.  Yet, although my mind was ready, my body- well, not so much.

Needless to say, it was a rough day.  I write this, not to whine, or loath in self-pity, but to let you know that my posts may be a little short, or 'off' for the next few weeks- as I adjust to my new schedule... and become intimately acquainted with new friends- Epsom Salt & Ben Gay.

Hitting the {recipe} jackpot.

Don't you just love it when a recipe turns out better than you expected?

I sure do.

Estelle's Meyer Lemon Pudding & Jessica's Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread did just that.  As Guy says [far too often],

These are Money!  

I'd strongly encourage you to give a 'em a go... & have a winning {Super Bowl} weekend.

Less is more {Listography 2011}.

Each Wednesday, Danielle, @ Elleinad Spir, Emily, @ Notorious MLE, and myself are working our way through the lists of Listography 2011.

Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art. 
- Frank Lloyd Wright

And that is the approach that I am taking with this week's list-

List your favorite artists.

When it comes to art... and artists, the word "favorite" is daunting.  It's truly an impossible task.  The number of artists that I have been, and continue to be inspired by, is immeasurable.  I find inspiration from many sources- from Monet, to Emily Dickinson, to Bono, to Stephen King... to my dad's tattoo artist.  So, instead of pin-pointing favorites, I'll share a handful of creators that have made a personal impact, in one [art]form or another.

John Hughes (filmmaker)
 Image via

Mr. Mom, National Lampoon's Vacation, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Some Kind of Wonderful, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, The Great Outdoors, Uncle Buck, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Home Alone...

Need I say more??? 
 Image via

A photographer that doesn't take himself too seriously, and stays off of the 'creative high horse' that so many "pros" perch themselves upon... as seen in these articles- 1) here, and 2) here... 2 of the most influential and inspiring articles I've read, in regards to photography.
Sheryl Crow (musician)
 Image via

Although I enjoy her music, it was an interview that I saw a couple of years ago that captivated me... watch it.
Johnny Cash (musician)
 Image via

After the movie I wanted to learn more about the Man in Black.... so I read his book- Cash: The Autobiography- and fell in love.  His honesty, authenticity, depth, spirituality, his soul (which shone through in his words), was simply enthralling.
 Image via

A creative genius... with a sense of humor (and a purpose).
And my 2 personal favorite artists...
Jacob & Hailey Sessions
(a pastel created by Jacob)
 (a watercolor created by Hailey) 
Who are your favorite artists??  If you have a list of your own, link up below (and then check out the others')!  If you don't have a post to link up, share with a comment :). 
*Get ready for next week's topic, shown here.

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