In Real Life: Week 33

Happy Sunday! It’s that time again…

Stealing a little introvert time between loads of laundry.


I love that California is rife with Mexican style.

We solute you.

Hello there.

Stay cool, Captain Underpants.

Mama’s little water baby.

Getting some fresh air.

Now that all three of us specialists have the Asthma Educator certification, we decided to spring for the fancy lapel pins!

Check out that pink crane!

Playing with filters again.

I’ve got my eye on you!

This looks like a fragrance ad.

Both of these photos are from last spring. I’m pretty sure I was only a few days pregnant when I took them.

This bear looks like he’s had enough of your shit.

Epic rainbow makers.

Light refraction is cool, yo.

I missed how quiet the hospital is on the weekends.

I can almost hear it echo just by looking at this photo.

C’mon baby… you know you want to.


I was tempted to buy this until I saw the $40 price tag.

I wonder how old these trees are.

The hospital has a player piano. One of these days I’m going to sit down and pretend I’m the one playing it.

Close up.

“Mom! What took you so long?!”

Artemis wants in on bedtime snuggles, too.

Goodnight, miss kitty.

What are you up to in week 34? I hope it’s good!

Much love,


In Real Life: Week 32+

Happy… Tuesday! As I mentioned, last week’s photo recap was delayed because we were camping. But fear not! The photo dump is here!

Last Monday was kind of the Monday of all Mondays. I wound up having to take a sick day from work to watch the kiddos, and managed to spill my coffee all over my work bag. And then this little princess decided to throw up her breakfast all over Robbie’s desk chair. When it rains it pours, right?

I tried to make the most of it, and kept busy during nap time by making banana bread. My recipe makes two loaves, so I made one with walnuts and one with chocolate chips.

Here’s the before…

…and the after!

I also made homemade totchos because I really wanted to eat my feelings that day.

In hindsight, I guess it wasn’t so bad. The boys and I got to goof off all day, and play around with the new Instagram filters!

How adorable is this?! Sorry if anyone’s ovaries just exploded.

It’s true, I am pretty smitten with him.

Do these ears make me look fat?

Then when Robbie got home from work I ran off to get a much-needed pedicure. Happy toes!

I updated our fridge with new photos this week! I was only able to fit like a quarter of the photos I wanted on there, so I took a bunch to work and redecorated my desk space, too.


Jack’s been doing lots of big-boy things this week! Like trying to stand on his own…

…loving on the kitties…

…and enjoying some corn on the cob! Well, not really… I just gave him my cob to play with after I was done with it. I wish I had gotten a picture of him gnawing on it, though, because it was sooooooo cute!

Taking a picture of me taking a picture of him.


Nobody looks good in a bunny suit.

Time to go camping! My tetris skills are strong.

It was long drive to Tahoe, but the boys were real troopers.

Lake Tahoe is absolutely gorgeous. Photos don’t do it justice.

I’ve never camped within walking distance of town before, but being close enough to walk to the lake made me not care about how cheesy it was.

At first I thought that getting Jack his own kiddie-sized chair was a dumb idea, but clearly it was totally worth it.

He wasn’t too sure about going to sleep in the tent, though. He didn’t want to miss any of the fun.

Look up!

Working up the courage to get all the way in. The water was pretty cold at first, but it actually got much better once you just got it over with.

We spent lots of time swimming. I wish we could spend every afternoon there.

Jack was tired and unimpressed by the cold water.

I didn’t mind too much, though. It was pretty nice to just sit on the beach and relax with him on my chest.

The sand was impressively black, too.

Perks of being so close to civilization…

…ice cream! The salted caramel was divine.

Baby approved of mint-chip, too.

Reflection. (Please ignore the fact that you can see me taking the picture, lol.)

Since we were right there, we decided to hit some of the casinos for buffet dinner and games one night.

Pretty sunset.

Camping baby!

“But we don’t want our picture taken…”

Home sweet home.

I am always happy to be the camp cook. And it was nice to finally try out our backpacking cookware!

Look at that smolder… these two could be Calvin Klein models.

Pensive Pato.

Action James!

My little explorer!

Not a big fan of Josh, though, much to our amusement.


Seriously. Could not get enough of the lake.

Apparently old lift chairs make good benches.

Walking through life together, hand in hand.

We tried to go on a hike to Angora Lake, but found that too many people had had the same idea and there was nowhere to park. So we stopped at the lookout on the top of the ridge and enjoyed the view for a bit instead.

Family photo time!

C’mon… act like we like each other…

The Stenders, circa 2017.

Ride or die.

I totally made Robbie pull over just so I could take a picture of this pretty meadow.

Hershey’s with Almonds makes a good s’more a great s’more. Next time I’ll go big and go for Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Alex helped me finish a bunch of word searches.

I’m so used to the danger being extremely high that I was almost shocked to see Smokey toning it down to only moderate.

It comes in cans?!

The fixin’s for dutch oven dump cake!


Step 1.5: Get resourceful.

Step 2: Dump in the pie filling.

Step 3: Dump in the dry cake mix.

You can totes get creative and mix and match whatever combo of pie filling and cake mix you want. Cherry-chocolate, and strawberry-yellow cake are also excellent combos.

Step 4: Dump in the Sprite/7-Up (one regular-sized can or ~12 ounces). Try to pour it somewhat evenly over the dry mix. DO NOT STIR.

Put the lid on, and BAKE!

This was our cake after about 1 hour of baking. I haven’t made it in a while, so I’m not sure if I didn’t use enough briquettes or if the temp was affected by the fact that my dutch was separated from the charcoal by a grate… anyway, it’s usually a little more done than this. But that’s ok. It’s usually somewhat underdone anyway, and it was still tasty. Plus no eggs means no salmonella to worry about!

It’s camping, so it’s totes acceptable to follow cake with more roasted marshmallows.

On our last day, we decided to let someone else do the cooking (and the dishes) for breakfast.

My little boo bear.

Then it was time to hit the road again. So many lakes!

We took a short detour to meet Robbie’s dad for lunch.

I scrubbed and scrubbed, but I still couldn’t get all the black dirt off my feet. Oh well.

Phew! That was a lot of photos!

Now it’s back to reality… time for grocery shopping and ALL OF THE LAUNDRY.

Keep it real, friends!


In Real Life: Week 31

Happy Sunday! Let’s take a look back at week 31…

I kicked off Sunday by praying at the church of bacon.



I wound up meeting that psychic for coffee last Sunday.

She didn’t tell me anything truly Earth-shattering, but it was still a really positive experience.

I went to the beach afterward to process our conversation.

One thing she did tell me was that my divorce from 4 years ago is still holding me back.

And she’s right. I still hold a lot of guilt and shame around that.

She told me to say this prayer as many times as I need to…

“I hurt you. I’m sorry. Forgive me. Thank you.”

…and to send him love and light whenever he crosses my mind.

And so I do.

I’ve come so far in the last 5 years. I have too much good right in front of me and in my future to let the past hold me back.


I wanna know who Bud is, and what fun things he’s up to.

Nature always finds a way.

Tiny feet were here.

On point.

Sunday grilled eeeeeats.

Jack has been so needy lately, but I can’t always just sit and play with him. So I strapped him in on my back for the first time, and he was pretty happy to be my little Yoda.

I’ve been trying to spend just a few moments each morning in quiet reflection.

I am…

My mantra.

I actually tore these pages out and hung them on the board behind my computer screens at work.

Trying to combat the negative energy of an office mate in a bad mood.

Forgot to put dinner in the crock pot before I left for work. So I settled for In-n-Out on the way home. Bummer.

Jack has been doing all kinds of big boy things this week! Like riding in the stroller without the car seat…

…and rolling over to sleep on his belly!

I was so shocked when I came in and found him like this. He had rolled over all by himself and fell asleep that way. A huge milestone for a kid who still hates tummy time!

I grilled an epic teriyaki pork loin this week. I nailed the marinade, and then reduced it down to make a thick sauce that I brushed on during the last 10 minutes of cooking. SO GOOD.

Nice work, World Market.

My little water baby.

Scotts Valley has had a display of local art in random places all over town for the last two weeks. I thought this one outside the library was particularly cool.

Amen to that.

Friday night we were reminded of just how true that is.

Our friend, Logan, was in town, and we met him and his family at the beach for dinner and a campfire.

The boys and I had a great time having sand fights and digging for sand crabs.

That is, until James put a handful of sand down the back of my shirt which then wound up down my pants. Butthead.

We watched this group of amateur sailors trying to get their boat out to sea, and were amused at how all but one of them fell off before they left the harbor.

And James was pretty stoked that we got to see the O’Neill catamaran coming in.

There is something so cleansing about putting your feet in the ocean.

The sunset was breathtaking.

Mama’s beach babe.

Daddy’s too.

The harbor was stunning in the evening light.

The next day we went on a little adventure in San Jose.

We ate at this little hole in the wall BBQ place that I happened to find on Yelp.

And holy smokes was it good.

The pulled pork was so tender that Jack could eat it, and he loved it. He was pretty fond of the potato salad, too.

We stopped to do a little shopping for our camping trip next weekend, and I felt like I had fallen into a wormhole and wound up back in Idaho.

Bass Pro Shop has a fish-themed bowling alley with a seafood restaurant.

Even though the decor was impressive, still just… WTF.

We did a dry packing run to see if we could fit all of the stuff in our Jeep. Thankfully, it looks like we’re gonna be fine.


Perfect at the end of a hot day.

Then today we took Logan for a hike!

The redwoods never disappoint.

Even the rocks are dreamy.

Sometimes I expect this tree to start moving and talking to me, a la Lord of the Rings.

Hello, little buddy!

And because we believe in balance, we followed our hike by getting burgers for lunch.

I love any place where I can watch the kitchen work.

Life is too short to not get the milkshake.

How was your week 31? What inspired you?

We’re going to be camping next weekend and I intend to be totally off the grid, so week 32 will be delayed until we get back. But I’m hoping to have some epic photos to share, so it should be worth the wait!

In the meantime, have a great week!

In Real Life: Week 30

Happy week 30, everybody!

I spent Sunday doing a little food prep.

I made an awesome Greek pasta salad (inspired by this one, with a few variations), and ate it over salad greens for lunch all week. Yum.

One of my colleagues passed the Asthma Educator exam last week! It’s such a hard test and she studied so hard for it, so many, many deserved kudos to her!

A little mental break in the meditation garden.

I found this to be a fascinating description.

Lox was on sale, so I have been happily eating many lox-and-bagels sandwiches for breakfast this week.

My little laundry helper.

When there is time to kill, always go to the ocean if you can.

Breathe the salty air, listen to the waves, and be cleansed. Amen.

A good bedtime routine.

Hey there!

Pancake morning at the Starks’ house.

Had a consultation to get started on my tattoo! I didn’t think I would be nervous, but as soon as I got to the shop I had to talk myself down a little. I’m sure it was obvious that I was a tattoo virgin. But as soon as I started talking to my guy he put me right at ease. Now I can hardly wait for my appointment to actually do the ink!

I love the decorative style of having tons of photos all mounted close together, covering most of the wall. It feels like being inside a scrapbook.

An apropo vehicle choice for a tattoo artist.

A foggy morning jog.

I don’t always feel like going for a run, but I never regret it when I do.

Maybe someone who knows plants can tell me… is this a Scottish thistle? I feel like it’s a Scottish thistle.

I feel like maybe I’m too sober to truly appreciate Dr. Pepper’s latest can design.

“Excuse me, ma’am… do you know why I pulled you over?”


James has been at drama camp all week, and his performances were yesterday! I got to take him to his second call time, which meant that I had an hour to kill.

Reading was nice for a little bit, but then I got bored.

So I decided to go for a walk instead.

It was such a nice day… I figured, why not?

I didn’t realize what a gorgeous neighborhood I was in until I got out of the car.

This VW van is clearly living its best life.

I need a drink with an umbrella in it, please.

Also, um… can I have your house? Either one will do.

And the best surprise? The ocean was just three blocks away the whole time. Doh!

If I had known that I never would have sat in the car for so long!

Oh well.

Welcome to Santa Cruz, where we have lifeguard firemen who drive around with surf boards on top of their department vehicles.

I’ve always liked these shrubs. They remind me of flames.

And then it was time for the main event!

I may have gone snooping a little bit before the performance.

But I still got a pretty good seat.

They put on The Great Mouse Detective, and Jamesy was the lovable toy maker, Flaversham.

His costume was just OMG ADORBS.

And he did such a great job!

Delivered his lines with confidence and only need one teeny little reminder of what to say.

I hope he stays excited about drama. I can’t wait to see what he does in high school and beyond!

The whole cast did a fabulous job!

It was definitely a proud mama moment for me.

He even got an award for being so creative with his character!

Though he was a little bashful afterward. πŸ™‚

All my boys need love.

And that’s a wrap! What were you up to in week 30?

Much love…


Currently: July

How is it the end of July already? I feel like I blinked and poof! Half the summer is already over. But July was a pretty awesome month! Highlights included…

  • ...our day trip to San Luis Obispo! Including dinner at Sylvester’s and OMG FRY SAUCE.
  • …the paddle out for Jack O’Neill! What a surreal experience. So, so glad I chose to go.
  • …our trip to Idaho! It was so good to catch up with everybody. I miss home already.
  • …one yet to come, which is James’ play tomorrow! He’s been at drama camp all week, and I can’t wait to see them put on The Great Mouse Detective tomorrow night! Going into hardcore mom mode right now.

Those things alone could have been enough to keep me happy this month. But other things inspiring me these days are…

  • ...outdoor exercise. Whether it’s doing my couch-to-5K jogging intervals or just going for a walk, I’m finding that a little activity out in the fresh air helps keep my mind more clear. And makes me feel less guilty about all the delicious things I want to eat all the time, lol.
  • …spending less time staring at my phone. I have been making more of a conscious effort to be more present, and to spend less time scrolling social media. I’ve actually taken to deleting Facebook and Twitter off my phone at the beginning of my work day, and leaving my phone in my room once I get home. The result has been a better feeling of focus and less anxiety. For real. Maybe you want to try it too? Trying looking around you instead. Notice those clouds, the leaves on that tree, the way the light reflects off your wine glass. Breathe. Aaaaaah.

I’ve been watching…

…a lot less TV this month, lol.

I’ve just been too busy! But things I couldn’t resist included…

  • Game of Thrones! I am so excited that it’s finally back. Although staying up until 10 on Sunday nights is really killing my Monday morning energy. (Man, I am so old.) Even though I can definitely notice a change in the writing style and the plot seems to be moving at lightning speed compared to the rest of the series so far, it’s still been totally awesome. No spoilers here… just trust me, you’ll want to see it.
  • Wonder Woman! Finally! Some friends were nice enough to watch Jack so we could go, and it was 100% worth seeing in theaters. Now I just need to take James, so he can see firsthand just how badass women can be, too.

And reading…

…a lot more!

I bought a neat little reading lamp to incentivize me to read at bedtime instead of scrolling through social media until I pass out. No more using the excuse that I’ll wake up Jack with the light! So hopefully it won’t take me 3 months to finish one book again, lol.

  • The Heart Goes Last (Audible): I’ve been spending more time listening to my audiobook this month instead of podcasts, because, honestly, I just kind of need a break from all the media noise. And after listening to The Handmaid’s Tale a couple months ago, I’ve been on a bit of a Margaret Atwood kick. She writes dystopia so well! The Heart Goes Last was a little hard to get into in the beginning, but now I’m over halfway through it and I find myself trying to find opportunities to listen to find out what happens next. I definitely recommend this one.
  • Alias Grace: Another Margaret Atwood! This was honestly the first book of hers I tried to find on Audible after The Handmaid’s Tale, but all they had was the abridged version. So I checked it out from my library instead, because I had heard from other Atwood fans that this was another great novel by her. I’m not very far yet, but so far it’s good!
  • The Sound of Gravel: I had heard multiple rave reviews about this book on various podcasts and blogs, so I was excited to check it out. However, maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but I didn’t realize just how dark it would be. There are a lot of serious familial issues addressed in this book, and the fact that it was a true story just tugged at my heart too much for me to finish it right now. I put it away after finding that it really haunted me, and actually left me feeling depressed after reading it. Maybe I’ll pick it up again at a better time.

And I’ve been listening to…

  • …more country! Especially after our visit to Idaho, I’ve been on a bit of a country kick. I’m obsessing just a little bit over Little Big Town – especially “Better Man,” which is so well-written even if it doesn’t apply to me – and Lady Antebellum.
  • The Offspring: The upbeat angst has just felt really good this month. Throw in some Blink 182, too, for good measure.
  • Revisionist History: Like I said, I’ve mostly been taking a break from my usual podcasts for my own sanity. However, Revisionist History is one of the few I have actually been listening to. Season 2 just recently started up, and the episodes so far have been surprisingly enlightening. It’s been fun to hear a different spin on topics I thought I already knew about, and fun to think about them a different way. Which is the point of RH, I think. We could all use some more of this kind of nuance in our lives.

I’ve been thinking about…

  • …my tattoo! After much thinking and research, and more thinking and more research… I’m finally moving forward on my idea! I actually have a consultation appointment this afternoon, eek! I am simultaneously pee-my-pants excited and shaking-in-my-boots nervous. But I think I’ve found the best guy in town to do what I want, and I can’t wait to see what magic he can work for me.
  • …planning a beach day. I’ve been talking about it all summer and haven’t made it happen yet! And I’ve already bought the stuff, so what am I waiting for? And we live 10 minutes from the freaking beach, for crying out loud… we need to make this happen.
  • …a psychic/tarot reading. I know, I know… bear with me. My mother took me to a tarot reading on my first visit home after moving to California 3 years ago, and it has stuck with me just how spot on the reader was and how much it seemed to help me work through the emotional mess I was in at the time. And even though I’m feeling pretty good now, I also feel like I am in a completely different place than I was 3 years ago. And gosh darn it, I’m curious to see what a reading would tell me now.
  • …growing our family. With Jack well over the 6-month mark, the idea of whether or not to have another baby has been weighing heavily on me lately. It’s not a decision we need to make right away, so I’m not sure why I’m giving it so much thought right now, but it’s been on my mind a lot. I might do a full post about this soon, just to process what’s going through my head. Just… so many thoughts.

My favorite hobbies: eating & drinking…

  • …homemade ice cream! I made two kinds this month, my favorite standby vanilla with chocolate chips and an epic chocolate-brownie. I need to stop, because it is so not helping my fitness goals, but it’s just so good! And life is all about balance, right?
  • …Dutch Bros Coffee! Man, I was so excited to order my favorite Cocomo again when we went to Idaho. I know I’ve said this before, but can we please have a Dutch Bros in Santa Cruz?
  • …fresh summer fruit: With the recent purchase of my handy-dandy pineapple corer, I have been eating a ton of fresh pineapple because it is so juicy right now and it’s so easy to carve up at home! I have also been guilty of eating an entire large container of raspberries in one day. And the peaches are finally starting to get good… mmm… summer produce must be God’s way of making up for the blistering heat.
  • …grilled everything.Β Steaks, corn, pizza, peaches… summer time just begs for grill marks and a little smoke. And I have come to the conclusion that if you grill it, it will taste good. It is known.

And finally, I am looking forward to…

  • …camping! We have a campsite reserved at Lake Tahoe next month, and I am so excited! We’re going with some friends and their kids, and I think it’s going to be a blast. Plus, Lake Tahoe! OMG!

July was so good to us… I can’t wait to see what August has in store!

What inspired you this month?Β 

Lots of love…