Monday, January 31, 2011

Portland Oregon in less than 24 hours

{I started this with the intent to publish as soon as it was done. Kai went on a nap strike and so now it is just after bedtime and I'm finally getting back to it}

I'm terrible about blogging on Mondays. On Sunday nights when the weekend is coming to a close, I'd rather just hang with my family after how busy our weekend was (and always are). I don't blog in the mornings because I'm playing with and looking after Malakai, who needs constant close supervision these days.

So here it is nap time, and although Malakai is not yet sleeping, I am updating around here. It's helping me stay out of his room when I hear him kicking the crib or unzipping his jammies. I keep thinking that if I let him be, he'll fall asleep as usual. I have a scary thought in the back of my head that he might be thinking he's done with naps. Please no.

So anyway, our weekend. Ben was asked if he'd like to accompany our church's youth up to Portland for Generation Unleashed, which takes place at our parent church (the church that planted ours). While at first he thought he'd have to decline because of work, he was able to work it out to go up for Friday night's last session, and the two final sessions on Saturday morning.

I was planning on staying home, but when he mentioned he might have his own hotel room, I thought it would be fun to tag along. We found out on Thursday that Kai and I would for sure be able to tag along. I had already made plans for Friday with my sister-in-law Kristi, my aunt (who is more like a sister) Sarah, and my high school bestie, Lindsey.

Ben came home from work and we were already packed up to go. So we loaded up and headed out. I had prepared for Malakai's first wakeful 2 hour car ride with a no-spill snack bowl, a cup with a straw, new board books, and an AquaDoodle drawing pad. That day he only napped for 45 minutes and passed out on our ride up for about 90 minutes. I won't complain.

Since Ben was already arriving to GU late, he dropped us off to check in at the hotel and headed to the church. The girls met up with me and we headed to dinner at Chevy's, a tex-mex style restaurant that was a block from the hotel. Since Ben had the car, and the carseat, it was perfect. Malakai was not the biggest fan of sitting some more and was not the easiest to tame for dinner. When we headed back to the hotel Lindsey took her sweet little dog Chloe out of the car and smuggled her up to my room in her jacket.

Chloe chased Malakai all over the room, he was giggling non-stop which meant all four of us girls were doing the same. Then I made sure we got a photo of all of us together. I propped the camera on the tv and set the timer. Chloe and Kai even looked at the camera!

{Lindsey, Chloe, me, Kristi, Malakai, Sarah}

Kristi stayed a little after Linds + Sarah had to go. Malakai was acting sleepy, he kept saying "nuh-night" and laying down on the big bed.

{Kristi captured this photo, Kai looks so big!}

Despite playing bedtime, Malakai would not go to bed for me. I tried for over an hour before daddy came to the hotel and had the little guy out within ten minutes. He is so stuck to the daddy bedtime routine. Although, he just doesn't do well away from home. 

The next morning we rolled out of bed and dropped Ben off at GU and went to meet Carina at Coava Coffee (after I got lost), which I had read about on Today's Letters just last week. The atmosphere was interesting and unique, the coffee was delicious. One of the owners made my coffee, how often does that happen at other coffee shops? If I could afford the expense, I'd be sold on their Kone filter.

{the dirty drill press was Malakai's favorite}

{what's that?!}

Then we were off to downtown to do some browsing at the new H&M (I'd never been) and a few other places. Eugene's Gap Kids store shutdown a few years ago, so I had to pop into the one there and was glad I did. I got Kai some cutie jeans and a long sleeve button-up shirt for just $13. 

After a good visit it was time to load up Malakai in the car with his lunch and I headed over to pick up Ben. Once he finished his sandwich, Kai was out for the entire 2 hour drive home. 

It went by incredibly fast, but I'm so glad we were able to go. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thankful on a Thursday: extrinsic motivations

I'm starting to find that I'm not as intrinsically motivated as I once thought. Being a stay at home/work at home type of person can open up these kinds of discoveries.

Some days I'd rather just sit and catch up on my favorite blogs, flip through the latest issue or Real Simple,  or stalk facebook during Kai's nap time than do the dishes, sweep, or fold laundry. A lot of days, that's exactly what I do. It often takes someone coming over for me to un-clutter our house.

By no means is our home dirty, but it is often cluttered. We have a mail sorter on the wall that I knew could be a disaster if we let it...and lately we've let it.

I get a sense of motivation and even excitement over hurriedly tidying things up in our house in anticipation of a visitor or event. I also find this same excitement over when I go into the office once a week that just isn't the same as when I work from home. I'm an extrovert and as such I'm fueled by people and social situations.

Having a job where I can actually "go" to work wasn't something that I realized I was missing until I started doing it again (part time). I love getting ready and going to the office to get things done. I love working with volunteers, kids, and parents on Sunday mornings.

I am so thankful for

481. my job that brings out a part of me that was hibernating, as well as challenges me in new ways.

482. new transitions. After this week I'm no longer doing daycare. By the grace of God I've been able to see the positives in this and not get too emotional about missing little Henry.

483. the sunshine + impromptu plans. In a few short moments Kai + I are going to take a walk to the park with the lovely Jamie.

484. unexpected resources for a wealth of knowledge about children's ministry and a friendship that's forming over email + phone call. I heart technology.

485. A roadtrip! Ben + I are going to take Malakai on his first second road trip ever. Ben is going to Generation Unleashed with our church. Meanwhile Kai and I are going to visit with friends in the area and check out Coava.

486. Starbucks gift cards. Without which I would not get the sweet treat of an occasional Caramel Macchiato

487. finding time to surprise Ben with fresh baked cookies after his super exciting Wednesday night class.

488. did I mention Starbucks? Um yes, their petite vanilla bean scones. yum.

489. sleeping through the night. Malakai has only been doing this for 4 months (I know, whoah) and every once in a while teething keeps us up in the night. Needless to say, I'm always thankful for a full 8 hour stretch!

490. the ability to watch my sweet sweet boy learn + grow.

What are you thankful for this week?

P.S. Happy early weekend, I know I'll be way too busy to blog tomorrow!

pizza turned calzone: a whoops dinner

I have been meaning to prepare a homemade pizza for dinner for weeks now. Every time I remember, it's too late to give the dough adequate time to rise. Somehow Tuesday afternoon I remembered and all of the pieces fell together for me to get things done in time for first.

I followed this recipe for the dough, except I only let mine rise once and it was plenty. Not sure why this recipe calls for twice. I was able to mix the dough and get it ready while Malakai played in his crib just after happily waking from a 3 hour nap. I then let it rise while we played and cleaned up the house a little bit.

For the sauce, I just sauteed 2 teaspoons or so of minced garlic with a little red onion. Then let it simmer with a can of plain ol' tomato sauce. I had a 15 ounce can and probably used about 12 ounces, but easily could have used less.

Next I shredded about 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese. I then took the raised dough and tore off a small chunk for a mini pizza for Malakai. It turned out fairly thick, but on my Pampered Chef baking stone it only took about 10 minutes to bake all the way through. This little cheese pizza turned out great, and it was so cute.

Speaking of the pizza stone, I had only used it once and it was over a year ago. I wasn't quite sure how to use it so I read up a bit online. I read that it should be seasoned with olive oil and be in the oven while it's preheating to 425 or so. I followed those directions and ended up with a house full of smoke from the oil.


In preparation for the next pizza I got out the corn meal to keep the dough from sticking to the cutting board or pan. Except what I had purchased was corn starch.


So I sprinkled flour instead, which is what the directions on the above recipe calls for anyway. I then rolled out the rest of the dough, added the remaining sauce and mozzarella as well as a sprinkling of parmesan + romano cheeses. Then I doled out the pre-sliced pieces of pepperoni.

{see how nicely everything seems to be coming together?}

I was nervous about transferring the pizza from my wooden cutting board to the hot baking stone in the oven, and rightfully so. It turns out the dough had stuck to the board. As I tried to pick it up, I was worried about making a hole in it, but there already was one despite how thick I had rolled it out.


Ben + I went back and forth about what to do. I tried picking it up with two spatulas, then using both hands, all while Ben was holding the cutting board over the open oven. We were both trying to figure it out while stifling laughter. I was simultaneously about to laugh + cry. I didn't know what to do.

Next,  I tried flouring a thin plastic cutting mat and sliding it underneath the raw pizza. I got it about halfway and it wouldn't go any further. I told Ben that we were either having uncooked pizza for dinner or a giant ball of messy dough + cheese. Then, I realized...that's kind of what a calzone is.

I decided to fold the pizza in half in one last ditch effort to save our meal (and quickly because Ben had to be out the door for worship practice in 30 minutes). I was able to fold it over, quite messily, but it worked. Then I scooped up the dough with both hands while Ben held the cutting board over the oven and I quickly dropped it on.

SUCCESS! So far.

{this picture exhibits all of my feelings in that moment}

{Ben thought it necessary to take a photo of the weirdness as it baked}

I set a timer for 15 minutes and quickly googled how to bake a calzone. It turns out they're supposed to bake at a slightly lower temperature, so I switched it down to 400 and watched carefully. I took it out around 12 minutes or so. It was cooked all the way through!

Since my original plan hadn't been to make a calzone, I had way too much meat and cheese in the middle. I also hadn't sealed the edges properly, so when I cut it  the cheese + sauce came flowing out.


Meanwhile, Malakai is chomping away at his perfect little pizza and I'm wishing I would have just made a bunch of tiny pizzas and avoided this issue altogether. That, or used more flour.

When Ben + I finally sat down to eat we were pleasantly surprised. As messy as the whole thing was, and as disappointed as I was that it didn't turn out as planned, it was VERY good!

What kitchen bloopers have you experienced lately?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

mama fail + a winner

This morning while I was getting ready, Malakai was playing with a toy in his crib. I keep some toys in the closet and only bring them out when I need him to be preoccupied while I get something done. Usually he's still sleeping when I get ready in the morning, but today he insisted on waking up at 6 am.

I kept checking in on him every few minutes. You see, ten days ago when Kai turned 18 months something switched on. He suddenly figured out how to climb, and how to use toys or what have you to climb even higher. So I wanted to make sure he wasn't going to climb the toy he had and get hurt. Each time I checked he was sitting quietly pushing the buttons.

Less than a minute after checking on him I  heard a thud. I dropped everything and came running into his room to find him flat on his back on the floor, head towards the crib. He had climbed out and fallen on the ground. I picked him up + consoled him, and then checked him head to toe. (when my brother was this age he broke his arm falling backward off of a stool, so I was freaked out). He barely cried and was ready to play.

Guess what he used to climb out of his crib (that is on the very lowest setting)? Nope, not the toy I was worried about, but his quilt his grandma had made him that is usually at the other end of his bed.

{Reason #37 why he's often referred to as "genius baby"}

He barely uses it, I just leave it in case I want to cover him up on a cold day while he's napping. Apparently he found other uses for it. By crumpling it up in the corner he must have climbed on top and somersaulted over the edge, landing flat on his back. Or he somehow landed on his feet and the force tossed him backward.

Later, to add insult to injury, he emptied some of his hamper and then somehow got a hold of the baby wipes and scattered them in about 30 seconds flat.

 {When I was taking this picture, I felt like I was documenting a crime scene.}

Anyway, I was feeling pretty low about the crib incident until I got some confirmation from other mama's on facebook that it happens to everyone. So, thank you. I'm just so thankful that Malakai wasn't hurt and that it's an easy problem to solve. His crib is now empty of everything except his small favorite blankie.


And NOW on to announce the winner of the $40 gift code to CSN stores! The giveaway ended last night at 11pm. There were 81 total entries, but the last 3 were submitted after the deadline, so out of 78 entries our winner is...

Congratulations! I've sent you an email, please respond within 48 hours to claim your prize.

Thank you to everyone who entered, hang around for more giveaways, reviews + discounts coming soon. Plus, you know, the regular ramblings from me as well.

P.S. For those of you newly following Stories for Kiddos, be sure to read through the stories and leave a comment on your favorite one for Ben (my husband, for those of you who are new around here as well).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

open house baby shower

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of co-hosting a baby shower for my dear friends Jamie + Jacob. We did a co-ed open  house at their home. It was so sweet to see them showing off the finished nursery to all of their guests through out the day.

The three of us (mama + the hostesses) each made a soup for the guests, there were also breads + cheeses, punch, and cupcakes!

I made signs for the food and the one above for the entrance. I had painted the frames black for our previous kitchen, but there's no room here. So I just painted chalkboard paint on the cardboard inserts they came with and wrote what I needed on each sign. I left the two large ones as part of my gift.

I also threw together the pom-poms the night before. I grabbed tissue paper I had that matched their nursery decor. Erin, the other hostess, brought streamers in the exact same color. Perfect.

{I didn't get a good shot without my reflection}

Erin had the idea of writing notes to the couple and the baby for a keepsake. She brought some decorative branches to hang them on and I made the cards. It turned out really well!

{Carina writing her note. She, Jamie, + I had all been roommates throughout college}

People came in about three waves throughout the day and gifts were opened about 3 different times as well. The open house format had me confused in theory, but in practice it worked really well. With the size of the guest list, it really helped make the gathering feel small + intimate. A traditional shower with all guests arriving at once would have been overwhelming, especially for Jamie.

{Jamie + Jacob with their guests}

 Jamie and her best friend from high school are due 2 days apart, so we had to get a photo of them together. Unfortunately I don't have any photos of me with Jamie, they're on Erin's camera. I'll have to post them once I get them from her. 

I was so glad that they were able to relax and enjoy the day. Although, we all had to tell Jamie to stop working/setting up/cleaning and relax several times. She's full on NESTING. Baby is due February 7th, so we could meet their little guy any day now!

{my favorite shot from the entire day}

Friday, January 21, 2011

CSN stores gift card giveaway {CLOSED}

Hello lovely readers, it's the end of the week! Let's celebrate with a giveaway! CSN stores has offered to give one of my readers a $40 gift card redeemable at any of their 200+ online stores. They have just about anything you can think of. Whether you're in need of a laptop messenger bag, cookware, or toys + games for kids, you're going to want this gift card!

It's easy to enter, just leave a comment on this post for your first entry.

Additional entries, leave one comment for each fulfilled.

~Post the Breaking New Ground blog button on your site. In your comment, let me know where to find it.

<a href=""><img src="" /></a>

~ follow Breaking New Ground with Google Friend Connect. Just click the "follow" button in the left sidebar.

~follow Stories for Kiddos with Google Friend Connect.

~ tweet this giveaway using the following:

"Visit Breaking New Ground and enter the @CSNstores #giveaway for a $40 gift card from @ShanLeAnn "

OR (this means one or the other. If you do both twitter + facebook it's still only 1 entry.)

~Facebook the following

"Visit Shandell's Blog, Breaking New Ground for a chance to win a $40 giftcard to CSN Stores! "

please, oh please be sure that your email address is in your blogger profile, on your site linked to your open ID or within your comment (format shanleann1 at gmail dot com) so I can notify you if you win. Otherwise, you forfeit your chances.

This giveaway will end January 25th, 2011 at 11pm PST with a winner announced + notified January 26th, 2011. Winner will be selected at random via and will have 48 hours to respond in order to claim the prize or it will be awarded to an alternate. 

Open to U.S. + Canadian residents only. All comments will be verified. Comments subject to removal without notification based on their relevance to contest. All comments will be verified. So, please be sure to follow instructions carefully. 

Questions? As always click on the "email me" button to send me a message. Please do not leave a comment here that isn't intended to be an entry into the giveaway. 

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this giveaway. All opinions are my own. Click for additional disclosures and PR policies.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thankful on a Thursday: Community

I truly believe that we are made to exist in community. I'm not theologist or pastor, so I'm not going to give you a sermon with a slew of Biblical examples. I believe this, because the Bible does illustrate it, but also because I feel it. When I'm in fellowship with others, my spirit is lifted and even when some things aren't going well, life feels more "right". If I'm away from others for an extended period, it has the opposite effect. Something feels off and I of course miss my family, friends, + church community.

I know this could also be due to the fact that I'm mostly an extrovert, but even so I'm also very much a home-body. I would often rather hang out at home than go out to dinner or a party. I also know many an introvert that know + feel exactly what I'm talking about when it comes to the need for community + authentic fellowship.

Recently our church went through some major changes. Much of it has been very difficult, and we've lost some valuable members. However, I feel an overwhelming sense of community among the remaining congregation. Especially among a new group of volunteers + leaders who have stepped up to make sure ministries still function to serve the congregation, our city, and the world. It amazes me how God uses hardships for change and gives beauty for ashes.

I'm so thankful for...

471. a community of believers with which to worship, serve, create, lift up, minister, love + so much more.

472. well fitting clothes + a husband who sometimes spoils me.

473. the way Malakai says "mama!" + smiles at me randomly throughout the day. It's like he's seeing me for the first time in ages, even though I've been right by his side the whole time.

474. lists. I just can't get enough of making lists. They help me stay organized get the jumbled thoughts out of my head to make room for more.

475. amazing deals.
{adorable slippers, $1.50 clearance yo!}

476. infant's ibuprofen + sesame street on our tivo. Without which, last night's sleep strike may have lasted forever.

477. being busy in a good way. When I feel depended upon to get something done, it motivates me and makes me feel useful. When I have a ton of things to do, none of which are enjoyable and all are thankless, that's when it gets a little rough.

478. God's way of guiding us by flinging doors open, gently closing them, or even slamming some shut.

479. the sun peeking through the clouds twice in one otherwise grey wintery week.

480. some quiet time to myself to type out this list of things + people I'm oh so grateful for.

What are you thankful for this week?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This past weekend I went on a mission for some new dress pants. All of my other pairs don't fit, which makes me sad because I have a couple of really great, like-new pairs that are now 5 sizes too big (to avoid any awkwardness, I am not going to talk about my specific size).

Being 5'2" makes finding a good pair of pants pretty hard to find. I usually just deal with the length issues or have my very talented mom hem them up for me.

I went to Target first since I had a few other things I needed there. I did not anticipate the issues I ran into. Their selection was very small and nothing fit correctly. They had a large selection of their clothing on clearance, but no dress pants.

Next I went to the mall. I'm not a fan of shopping in the first place, and I RARELY go to the mall. I can't even remember the last time I went by myself. I was hoping that JC Penney or Gap would have what I was looking for. Well fitting dress pants for under $30. Sadly I couldn't even find well fitting pants after looking above my price range. I was getting pretty frustrated.

I went to Macy's, Charlotte Russe, and Ann Taylor Loft. The Loft had a petite section with a ton of great choices. I fell in love with one too many pairs of their pants, because they were $80! However, everything was on sale for 40% off. I didn't want to spend that much, so I tried a few other places, including Forever 21. I can't wrap my mind around that place, it stresses me out (which makes me feel old).

After 3 hours of shopping, I felt defeated. I looked online, but didn't want to deal with the hassle of shipping things back + forth. I decided to go in to Old Navy while Kai was napping on Sunday afternoon. I found some really great sweaters for me + T-shirts for Kai on clearance with an additional 40% off. They had barely any dress pants in "short" length, and they happened to be in everything but my size.

I decided to go back to The Loft + use my birthday money to get the pants that I loved. I couldn't believe I was making my 2nd trip to the mall in two days. I barely go that many times in a whole year. There are a few styles that are really similar so I had a hard time remembering which ones were my favorites. I tried them on all over again and discovered that I am actually one size smaller than what I had tried on the day before.

There were 3 pairs that I really liked. So, I decided to get Ben's opinion. I bought all of them to take home, with the plan to return two pairs after he helped me narrow it down.

Last night I put on a little fashion show. We still had a dilemma, Ben liked all three as well. However, he was able to rank them for me. He liked the Linen Denim Trousers best, followed by the grey pants and he wasn't the biggest fan of the black (he thought they were too plain). 

I still couldn't decide between them, so Ben smiled at me + said I could choose two. I asked him if he was sure a half dozen times. Then I still couldn't decide for myself, so I went with his choices and am taking back the black pair. Of course they are the least expensive. 

It's hard to believe that it was such a hassle to find a decent pair of (petite) dress pants. I was especially surprised by the lack of choices at big department stores. I've discovered that nothing in the juniors section looks even the least bit appealing to me anymore, but everything in the ladies or "misses" sections is usually too old for me. 

Petite or not, tell me, where do you shop for pants? How much are you willing to pay?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunny Day

I was not expecting a sunny + somewhat "warm" day today, but here it is! Malakai hasn't tromped around outside in way too long with the cold + wet weather we've been having, so I jumped on the opportunity to take him outside.

I didn't feel like getting myself ready to go out, so we played in the backyard. I think it's safer that way anyway to be in the grass, leaves + mud than to want to play on the wet play structures and soggy bark.

He had a ton of fun and looked too cute in his galoshes + hoodie. He got super muddy because it's apparently hard to stand up after falling when your stiff rubber boots go up to your knees.

{we started out clean + dry and really excited}

{it didn't take long to fall + get wet, but it was still fun}

{the start of the muddy clothes phase}

{super grumpy about coming in for lunch}

I'll spare your hearts the ache of seeing his face after he got really upset about coming in. Luckily, he likes food just as much as he likes outside. Once he understood I was going to feed him, he calmed down considerably. 

I'm hoping for some more sunny days + time outdoors. It's so good for him to explore and really fun for me to watch him learn + play. 

Did you have sun today?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

About Malakai: eighteen months

Malakai Benson is 18 months old today.  A year and a half ago he looked like this-

{my teeeensy tiny, peaceful, + quiet baby}

And today he looks like this-

{my big, wild, + noisy toddler}

These days he is doing something new everyday. Yesterday he pointed at G'Pa and said "whatdat newt?"..."what's that nose?" We all had a good laugh. A little later he found the microphone for his Aunt Nanner's Disney Wii game and started to sing + dance while watching himself in the mirror.

Kai is all boy. He loves to wrestle, run, and jump. He also does a few strange things like bash his head or his mouth into the wall, the couch, daddy's knee. As I type this he is putting his mega blocks in the sink while daddy tries to do the dishes. He knows when he's doing something wrong, he'll say "no no no" or "uhoh" but then continue to do it. He doesn't seem to mind time-outs very much, but they can still be a good reset for unwanted behavior. 

He loves to try to push the buttons on my laptop or shut the lid on my hands while I'm typing. He puts toys into the back of the tv's speakers, tries to push the power button, gets into all drawers + cupboards. He climbs whatever he can to get to the couch, drags the end table from the living room into the kitchen + back, slides the outlet protector off, opens the oven door latch, and unlocks the latch on the dishwasher while it's running. He likes to turn the handle on the diaper pail, throw toys, hit with toys, grab other kids by their clothes to move them out of his way, and he is still resistant to sharing- especially toys that he knows are his. 

He also loves to gives hugs + kisses, snuggles up on daddy's shoulder at night, dance while holding his glow worm, climb into a loved ones lap to listen to a story, flip through the pages of his Old McDonald book + sing "eieio". He still falls asleep in the car + lets mama transfer him to bed. He loves to play peek-a-boo, giggles endlessly at a specific scene of Elmo tripping on a pile of apples, says "bwease" if you dare stop swinging, tickling, bouncing, or pushing him in a basket or box around the room like it's a racecar. He always has a smile for someone new, even when he's acting shy at first. He gets so excited when he sees his grandparents, waves "bye" when anyone is leaving, blows kisses, tries on everyone's shoes, and puts mama's purse on his shoulder. He knows that when the garage door creaks it means that daddy is home, and he does a little happy dance and runs to the door. He's loving + sweet and so perfectly innocent + full of wonder. 

Some of the words + phrases he's saying are:

"what's that?" 
"there you are!"
"Elmo, please"
"hi, mama!"
"bye!" with a wave
"up, please!"
"all done"
"nana" (banana)
"hot dog"
"water" (when it's raining)

There are many many more. He's just soaking up information like a little sponge. Ben + I are always looking at each other in awe of how quickly he learns something. 

He's been working on all four cuspid teeth at once and has been for over a month. His gums are inflamed and at times he is visible (and audibly) miserable. Last night he was chewing on everything and despite some pain meds, he would not go to sleep after 2 hours of trying different techniques to calm + soothe him. At 18 months old, we had to go back to the tried + true method of going on a long drive. Thankfully he almost always transfers well. 

So, he is very much a toddler, but still sometimes my baby. It's going by so fast, each stage that has passed is already hard to remember. I want to soak him up and live in the moment. 

We're so proud of our growing little boy. 

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