Entries in Family (24)


Chicken Scratch // Eating Dallas

One of our favorite places to eat in Dallas is Chicken Scratch. We like to take any visitors we get there to try their amazing chicken and waffles. It is always a nice place to go with kids too because it has a little outdoor play area where kids can climb on tires, and hang on monkey bars and throw gravel at each other. The play area isn't terribly big but it is enough space to let your kid act like a kid and not worry too much about them getting hurt or getting in anyone's way. Right next door is The Foundry where you can get strong drinks. The Foundry and Chicken Scratch open up to the same seating area with large couches, a stage, and huge picnic tables. In the summer they have large fans blowing and big umbrellas up to keep you cool, in the winter - wear a coat. This is a place I highly recommend trying if you are ever in Dallas. Happy Friday!


Family Photos 2014

We recently had a very quick mini photo session with friend Heather Hawkins (who is amazing if you are in Dallas and looking for a photographer!) It was pretty fun to just quickly capture our little family on a sunny Tuesday morning. I will treasure these photos of me with my little boys forever! For our holiday card I had the top photo printed on heavy paper with "Happy New Year!" written across the top. I filled each envelope with large confetti and mailed them out a few days after Christmas. It was quick, easy and so much less stressful than trying to send out a Christmas card. New Years cards are the new Christmas card. Happy new year everyone! I hope you are all enjoying the first MONDAY of the year!! 


Hello 2014

So I know this photo op might be a bit over done but I'm still not over writing out the new year with sparklers on a slow timer. In fact I didn't feel like the new year had really begun until I did it. So, sorry, I'm not sorry.

So now here we are in 2014. I've been thinking a lot about the start to this new year. I've been thinking about it since November actually - planning my New Year's resolutions and getting really determined to accomplish just about anything. I thought a lot about what a really successful year looks like - lots of money is earned and saved, huge trips are planned and taken, less time is spent stressing over the little things and on and on... and as I planned my New Year's goals I couldn't get that beautifully designed quote that I saw a million times on Pinterest out of my head. You know the one about doing something "amazing" with your "one wild and precious life"... and I started to feel overwhelmed. I felt as though I somehow need to make 2014 the most exciting and astonishing year ever. And just as soon as I thought I might have figured out how I am going to do that I saw another quote (again on Pinterest) about not only living the "length of your life" but also "the width".... WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? I mean I know what it is supposed to mean, but what does it really look like? Do you start the feel the pressure too? Like you might be wasting your life if you're not flitting off to some new country every day and buying your dream home and working to the point of exhaustion? Are those the things I need to do to feel like I have successfully lived a full life?

And then I take stock of everything good in my life - and at the center of it all, the thing I am most proud of is my home. It's a comfortable home I created with my best friend. And we filled it with two of the most amazing little boys you have ever seen in your life. Their smile's take my breath away every single day. And I think that that has got to be the "width". If loving them like crazy is what I spend every last second of my one wild and precious life doing it will be a success. And I will say at the end of it all that I have really lived. 

I do have a few new year's resolutions for 2014. Goals that I can actually cross of my list at the end of the year if I have accomplished them. But my real goal this year is to just love. Love the people in my life the length and the width and back again. 


Thanksgiving 2013!

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I LOVE Thanksgiving! Who am I kidding? I love every holiday!! If you know me you know I am an over celebrater (sorry, not sorry). This Thanksgiving we will be dining with friends and their little ones, and I am really excited about it. I have such fond memories of Thanksgiving as a child - we lived far from family so we always celebrated with our family friends. We would eat till we couldn't sit up straight anymore and then that night all of the kids went out to a movie. When we got home there were millions of pies to eat! It was the best day ever. 

This year we are planning on taking a couple of pies to share, a favorite main dish, my mom's famous baked brie cheese and, of course, green bean casserole (upon Conor's request). I am super excited to order a pie from Emporium Pies to share with our friends. If you live in the Dallas area you should check this little pie shop out! It is so cute and the pies are amazing! I thought about making one myself but I thought the novelty of one of their pies would make the day a little more fun (at least for me! Less cooking/dishes = happy mama!) Hope everyone has a great holiday!!


You Guessed it!

We are expecting! Yup, that's the big Riley family news. I'm 18 weeks and feeling great! Due October 22. We have been sitting on the news for a while because we had a misscarriage this last October (another blog post entirely) but things seem to be going really well and baby is healthy and kicking! We have been trying to tell Henry about the new baby but so far he is just really interested in belly buttons and not babies. I can't wait to see him interact with a sibling. He is going to make this very interesting for sure! We are over the moon excited to be a family of four!  


Spilled Milk

I've been invited to be part of a fun little photography project. Spilled Milk- is a collaborative photography blog. 18 mothers from around the world are prompted by a weekly theme reflecting some aspect of parenthood and the complexity and beauty that comes with raising our kids. I love looking at these beautiful pictures and thinking about how wonderful and exciting it really is to be a mom. 

Some days are hard. Sometimes the screaming and the crying make me want to scream and cry myself. If you have ever had days like this too (and if you never have, well, then I don't think you are human) read this blog post. It made me chuckle out loud to myself. I especially like the part when this parent talks about wanting to hold anyone under water who says, "enjoy every moment! it goes by so fast!" I hope it makes you laugh too... Because we have all heard someone say that. And we are trying to enjoy every moment, we really are! But some days are just plain hard! Because that's what being a mom is. Making a sacrifice for someone you love more than life. 

And then there are days like today. Conor and I took our shiny new bikes down to the lake for our first ride! We have been looking forward to getting bikes for some time now! Henry screamed and cried when we forced his Mickey Mouse helmet over his cute dumbo ears and buckled it under his squishy little chin. He somehow managed to get his legs up over his bike sit and kick me in the back during the entire ride. He cried and screamed in the car on the way to the farmers market. While at the market he ran away from us and hit small doggies in the face. We made one last stop at an estate sale on the way home and as Conor bargained for some new furniture I chased Henry all over the front lawn. Tired and out of breath I finally scooped him up kicking and screaming and started towards the house to tell Conor I couldn't take another second when an old man stopped me. I noticed that he had been watching me and as I got closer he said, "that was my favorite part of being a dad! and a grandpa! I loved chasing my kids and grandkids around.." Reliving his past as he watched me chase my crazy Henry around that lawn made this man smile bigger than the moon! It was as if I had taken him right back to the best days of his life. I could see it in his eyes. "My wife and I had 5 kids you know! and chasing them around like that was my favorite!" I said a few polite words and hurried along to find my husband. As we crossed the street to get into our car I saw him helping his cute little old wife down the stairs... no children with them, no grandkids at their heels. Just the two of them. I sat in the car and wept. 

Yes these days are hard! and they are long. And sometimes I'm pretty sure the best days of my life were in college when I was wild and free and everyone I lived with was over 21 - and I could sleep under the stars on the beach all night if I wanted to and not have to nurse anyone at 5:30 in the morning if I didn't want to! But when I think of all of this being history ... when I imagine Conor helping me down stairs because I am too old to do it myself, and all of our kids have kids of their own.. my heart aches for these long hard days! And I say a silent prayer that God will somehow make these days last forever. Now, writing this, I question my sanity a little. Because it is hard. But something inside me tells me I will be just like that old man someday. Yearning for the days that my babies were little. Wishing and willing to give up anything to go back to even the hardest day. 


Odd Fellows

This last Saturday was such a treat. Just a simple day spent with my family eating out, exploring our city, cleaning up our little house and meeting friends at the park. It's been quiet on the blog lately because the last month has not been such a treat. Well, not that it hasn't been sweet - it's just been chaotic and busy...

After accepting the art director position at Verily I quickly realized I had a lot to learn! and there is a lot more that goes in to directing a magazine than I previously thought! I've had to learn so much about communication. Working on a team with 5 other women forces you to learn everyone else's communication styles in order to work harmoniously together. It also forces you to be way more direct than you ever (EVER) wanted to be. I find myself writing 2 sentence emails with no punctuation and pushing send with out thinking twice about it. Before, in my freelance career, I used to vacillate over every word, every use of punctuation.. wondering if the recipient would get the wrong idea, wondering if they would think I was angry or not understand that I actually was angry but trying to be polite! ha! Now? I just write the damn thing and push send! No time for second guessing!

I've also had to learn how to manage people. I have a graphic designer who helps me layout the magazine and I just recently hired an intern to help me run the visual content on the Verily website (the website I've been re-designing for the past month, you'll see it soon!) I've never been anyone's boss or mentor before so this is a totally new ball game for me. I'm finding that I enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would. The girls I work with are incredible! But this is not to say that learning how to MANAGE has not been CA-RAZY!

Aside from my busy new job - Conor recently quit his job which moved us to Texas in the first place and accepted a new position at a new company. We are staying in Dallas which is good but him changing jobs was scary and hectic. In the end it turns out it is so much better for our family. Conor is so much happier at his new job and it makes all the difference in our home. We now have a nanny working for us 5 mornings a week (who by the way is the reason I can wake up in the morning, god bless her!) And all of this is why we are now able to spend Saturdays lazily brunching at places like Odd Fellows and exploring Dallas - a city that we have lived in for 6 months and until this past week I saw very little of. We weren't spending much time together because Conor's job forced him to work 24/7 and any free time he had to watch Henry I spent working on my freelance projects. I think we are glad those days are behind us.

I hope to be blogging more moving forward but I am finding that a lot of my energy is going in to staying organized for work and taking care of my two boys. I mean just take a look at that tired daddy (up above) and that happy lime munching baby and tell me you wouldn't want to skip everything else in life to hang out with them too!?  And then there is this gem of a photo (below) that I somehow snapped accidentally. I know it is blurry but it reminds me of something I would pull out of an old Polaroid land camera... the colors, the sun spots... that tiny little face peeking over his daddy's shoulder! It's everything. 


We are pizza people

We decided that we wanted to find the best pizza place in Dallas. Every weekend we have been going to a new pizza place and trying it out. So far I think our favorite place is Serious. The pictures above were taken at Eno's which was pretty good too but we liked Eno's more for the ambiance than the pizza. Pizza is also a pretty affordable date night for families trying to save money - you know, pay the bills, buy diapers, save for your kid's college?! We usually order one pizza for the three of us to share and an appetizer. We don't drink so water is just fine for us. Our bill has been less than $20 every weekend! What's your favorite pizza date?


Need Read Greed

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Today's Need Read Greed is by my lovely sister, Annie Johnson. I like my sister so much! She is pretty and funny and smart and good at all of the things I am not. The funny thing is: me and my sister can fight! Boy, can we fight! But it never stops us from talking on the phone every single day. About everything. I am not very good at forgiving and forgetting. It is a challenge for me to get over things and I often need my space in order to process and let things go. My sister on the other hand is so wonderful at letting things go. She really does forget too! She completely lets things fly away from her and only holds on to the beautiful and nice things. She is also above average smart. Some of you who have been reading my blog for a while have probably caught on that I am terrible at spelling and not always the most eloquent. My sister is the master of languages and actually speaks German fluently. I could go on and on but I guess my point isn't to compare myself to my sister in all of the ways that I fall short but more to point out all of the ways that she is perfect for being my other half. (Conor - you are my other other half haha!!) It is just me and my sister in our family so she is my oldest best friend, the person I tell everything to. The only person who can bring out my worst and then go ahead and still love me after. She's seen me through a lot and I love her for it. I wish everyone had an Annie! The world would be a better place. 

Also, I just realized that this Need Read Greed series is actually very similar to other series going on on other blogs. Why is it that when we see other people doing what we are doing we automatically want to say, "Well, I'm not going to do that ANYMORE!"? Or we want to yell at everyone "I thought of it FIRST!!" I guess it's because we so desperately want to be original and therefore special. We also don't want people to think we are copying and have not original thoughts. Well I must admit when I realized others where doing this series too I definitely said to myself, "No more NEED READ GREED! even though I totally thought of this first!" but I like this series too much to just stop because other people also think it's a good idea! Plus, it is sort of an age old saying... like; something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. I don't own it. So, the series will continue!! How do you react when you see someone else doing "your thing"? 


New Year / New Goals

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For the last few years I have been visually mapping out my new year goals like this. There used to be a rhyme and reason to the placement, color and categories but now I just make it how I think it will inspire me the most. View 2012 here.  


1. Finish our house. We finally finished painting all of the rooms just before Christmas and now is the fun part! Decorating! Since we moved from Hawaii to California to Texas our house is pretty empty. We don't have a lot of stuff which is nice but also sorta sad. I miss having little collections of things here and there - those little things that make a house feel more like a home.

2. First, check out more of these amazing animal photos here. They are so beautiful! So Conor and I have been talking and we want to get a pig. Or Chickens. Or a goat. We can't decide. Maybe all three? I think we might start with chickens but DAMN that pig is cute!

3. As some of you might know I have been working on a letterpress line with a friend called Fox and Anchor Paper. My goal for that is to create a few more items for our line, get a shop up and running and get some customizable stuff in the mix too. We are excited to get our etsy shop up and running before Valentines day! 

4. Write more. I want to write a book. I want to write, design and publish a cookbook. HAHA! Now, I don't know if I will be able to do that any time soon but I want to write more! 

5. Be a good mom. I have not decided on something specific I can work on for this one yet. I know I just want to be more patient, more loving, more attentive and more devoted. Sometimes I think I couldn't be any of those things ANY MORE than I already am! But I know there is room for improvement and I just want to be the best mom I can be. 

6. Get bikes and ride them together. Conor and I want to get some bikes and go on rides in the morning together. I feel funny even posting a picture of a bike on my blog because I am so not a bike person. I want to be but I'm just not. It will be fun to get in to a new hobby (and with my husband - something we can do together).

7. Meal Planning. Eat Better. Eat less meat. I am all about meal planning! I started this last month making meal plans and sticking to them and only buying the things on my list that I need for that week. It has been amazing how much less we waste and how much money we save. I want to get better at this and also learn how to make really good, HEALTHY meals on a budget.

8. When my mom was young apparently she was entered into a contest called "make it yourself with wool". I don't know what she made or if she won but whenever we are sewing wool she always talks about the "make it yourself with wool" contest. I have this little idea that has been burning a hole in my brain for the last month and I want to give it a try. It requires lots and lots of wool felt - a textile that I am pretty obsessed with right now. So my goal is to order a bunch of it, try to make this little creation I have in my head and then... I don't know. Give them away? Sell them? Not sure yet. 

9. Be a better wife. I have a few goals set for this category but they are a little personal ;). Maybe I'll let you know how it goes.