Thursday, April 27, 2017

thoughts on relationships

I love my Timehop app because it reminds me of a lot of adorable things the kids did/said on that day in previous years and gives me pictures of my cherubic children--a departure from their present twonager and fournager selves. I also loathe Timehop with every fiber of my being because I read a lot of my Facebook statuses from when I was in my late teens/very early twenties and I cringe a thousand cringes. 
Jon and I started dating when I was 18 and he was 19. Beacons of maturity! Adults! Except now that I'm rounding third base on my twenties I see the crap I posted and I realize that I was just a child (I bet Jon's and my parents are collectively agreeing with me), as evidenced by my super emo Facebook statuses whenever there was trouble in paradise. Also, here's a fun scientific fact for you: new studies have shown the brain doesn't reach full maturity until somewhere around age 25. You bet your face I've placed that little nugget of knowledge straight into the memory bank to be beckoned when my own children attempt to assert their 'adulthood.' You are both welcomed and encouraged to do likewise with your spawns.

Jon and started dating (unofficially) in late November/early December 2006. We made it official in February 2007. In March, Jon moved to Arizona for an audio engineering program, where he remained through November. That August, I moved to Chicago for college. Super long distance relationship + newish relationship + both of us in new cities hanging out with people the other doesn't know + youngish couple + both in first serious relationship and new at adulting does not a happy relationship make. There were a whole lot of ups but way more downs. There were breaks along the way (does anyone else hear Ross Gellar yelling "we were on a break!" when they read about relationship breaks? No? Just me?) and at one point I think we were both pretty sure we weren't going to end up together. We managed to work through it all and decided we were worth fighting for, and in June 2010 we promised to fight for one another for the rest of our lives. It's all been rainbows and unicorns ever since.
Our first major marital fight happened as we crossed the threshold into our apartment from our honeymoon. The first year challenged us in ways I never could have dreamed of. Some pretty big issues (more here and here) have plagued us throughout our nearly 7-year marriage. As time has passed, we have either a) become so worn down by our children that we've lost all will to fight, b) grown and matured further and figured out how to fight fair, c) figured out how to communicate more effectively, d) found a place of unequivocal comfort with one another (not in a bad way!) and/or e) all of the above. We don't fight nearly as frequently as we used to, and generally speaking, when we do fight now it isn't anywhere near as explosive as it was during our relationship infancy. I'm pretty confident saying that Jon and I are comfortable, but still really happy with one another. It is far from easy--relationships take so much work, energy, and patience--but I would have said "I do" all over again if I went back in time. Jon is a partner in the truest sense--he contributes to the household equally (if not more since he's the stay at home parent) and he parents equally. When Etta is up all night, Jon is up half the night (again, sometimes more) with her. My only hesitation regarding leaving the kids with Jon so I can do something fun is that I think it's wildly unfair to him since he never really gets a break from his 'job.' 

If you are single and looking for a serious relationship, my advice to you would be this:
-find someone who you know will be equally committed to helping with housework and parenting - these are huge and I am absolutely floored by the number of married women I know who are basically flying this aspect of their lives solo.
-talk about all the really big important stuff (religion, whether you want children or to get married, how you plan to raise/discipline your children, how you plan on sharing holidays between your families, etc.) and do not count on one another changing dramatically on their stance - if there are fundamental differences that you cannot work out now you will not be able to magically work it out once you get married.
-find someone who is truly in it for the long haul. Trust takes a crazy long time to develop. One of the reasons I think our fights have gotten less explosive now is I have finally reached a point where I trust Jon to not leave me at the drop of a hat (not that he ever would before, I just have a lot of trust issues so I needed to work this out on my own) so I am less inclined to push those buttons and test his limits (again, a me issue). When Jon told me he loved me for the first time and I questioned him on it, he explained love as more of an action than a feeling--when he told me he loved me he told me he was committing to loving me and only me. If you think a relationship isn't meant to be merely because you have to put some work into it, you will never find a long-term relationship.

Linking up with Annie.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

what's up wednesday

Linking up with JessiMelSheaffer, and Shay!


What we're eating this week:

Since I'm currently dairy-free we have not been eating cheese and I have the sads. This stir fry is helping to ease the pain:

Our all-time favorite stir fry

We also made this recipe yesterday for dinner and it was great.

Hoping to make this lo mein (modified to be vegetarian) tonight.

What I'm reminiscing about:

I can't believe how much Edith has changed in a year. It's rocking my world in a big way.

What I'm loving:

This special buy from Aldi.
The weather!

What we've been up to:

Our house is being re-sided starting today! We also replaced the front window and got a new window treatment for it:

What I'm dreading:

The only thing I don't enjoy about gardening is trying to keep up with the weeds and fighting things like Japanese beetles. I'm hoping to stay on top of it this summer so it doesn't get too out of hand, but with three young kids I'm not hedging my bets.

What I'm working on:
This parenting hack for a $20 sandbox.

What I'm excited about:

Our big neighborhood yard sale is in May and I can't wait to purge so many things from our house. We already have piles of sales items all over the place and they get larger every day. I want to feel like I can breathe again!

What I'm watching/reading:

We started Bill Nye Saves the World last night. I admittedly only half watched it so it may not have been as captivating as I had hoped...

What I'm listening to:


What I'm wearing:

Skinny jeans, Toms or Chucks, and t-shirts.

What I'm doing:

Honestly? Running on survival mode. I cut out dairy and we switched Etta to Alimentum, but she went on a formula strike and was refusing it. I took her back to the pediatrician yesterday to see if he had any insight (saw our regular ped this time) and he said Alimentum tastes horrible. He recommended dialing it back to a non-hypoallergenic one for a few weeks to see what happens. The good news is she took the new formula no problem. The bad news is she wakes up every 45-60 minutes at night because of it.

What I'm looking forward to next month:

Consistent sleep (I hope).

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

parenting hack: DIY covered sandbox for less than $20

When we first moved into our house I made a sand table out of some pressure treated wood and a covered plastic bin. The sand table was easily one of the most played with toys and treasured by both big kids. Sadly, the sand table met its demise when Elden leaned against it and it broke. We had been scouring the internet for a replacement sandbox but everything we liked was over $100. Since the plastic storage bin worked so well we figured why not make a sandbox out of the same thing?

We have plans to dig out a spot in the ground to make these "in-ground" sandboxes with pavers placed around them. For now these were a HUGE hit and for the price tag you couldn't beat it. In case you were curious, I used these storage bins and this sand.

Monday, April 24, 2017

picture window replacement

The front of our house had a large picture bay window when we moved in. We loved the light it let in, but unfortunately each pane was just comprised of two sheets of glass. This meant we couldn't open any of them on cooler summer nights to let a breeze in (and was a huge contributing factor in adding our storm door late last year). Also, the far left pane had moisture enter it so it was perpetually foggy. We knew we eventually wanted to replace the bay window with one that was flush with the wall because we also dream of eventually expanding our front porch across the entire front of the house. When we found out we would be getting all of the siding replaced, we decided now was the best time to replace our window. Over the weekend our contractor came out to do it and I am so happy!

Before:
*valence came with the house and we just hadn't ever gotten around to removing it
forgive the low res image I stole off the internet

After:

We are removing all the shutters on the house and our contractor is framing the windows out with a thick moulding. He is scheduled to start the re-siding process tomorrow and I am SO excited! We also have big plans to finally update the family room so once that's complete I'll make sure to share much better before/after images. We're trying to find a good balance on the family room makeover because there are some things we'd really like to do (such as replacing the carpet with hard floors) but that would likely open a can of worms with the way the kitchen, foyer, dining room and family room are all connected. We will likely just put a new coat of paint up and add new curtains for the time being due to budgetary constraints. 

dairy-free brussels sprouts stir fry


Ingredients:
Tofu
1 block of extra firm tofu
cooking oil (we used olive)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cilantro
1/2 tsp. pepper

Stir Fry
1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, bottoms cut off and sliced thinly vertically
1 1/2 c. matchstick carrots
salt
pepper
cooking oil (we used olive)
Teriyaki sauce (we got ours from Aldi)

Directions: 
To prepare the tofu, press all water out (we usually place it on a baker's drying rack with paper towels on both sides; a bowl underneath to catch the water and something heavy like a glass mixing bowl on top to press the water out), which usually takes about 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Once the tofu has been drained, cut into bite sized cubes. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cilantro. Fry in as little oil as possible until brown on all sides. Place browned tofu in oven at 425 degrees for ten minutes.

To prepare the stir fry, add the Brussels sprouts and carrots to the same pan used to brown the tofu, once again using as little cooking oil as possible over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until vegetables are tender (but not mushy). Add the tofu to the pan once it is finished in the oven and drizzle teriyaki sauce to taste over the top.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

dairy-free green pea falafel

As adapted from Green Chef
Ingredients:
1.5 c. green peas
1 tsp. diced scallion
2 cloves diced garlic
1 tbsp. diced fresh parsley
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. ground coriander seeds
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin seeds
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. cooking oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place peas in a bowl and mash into a chunky puree. Add scallions, garlic and parsley; mix. Add flour, coriander, salt, cumin, pepper, baking powder and olive oil until combined. If mixture seems dry, add about 1 tablespoon of water. When you are ready to form the falafel, slightly wet your hands with water. Do not pull a Danielle and attempt to skip this step as it will make your life infinitely more challenging. Form into six 0.5" thick patties and refrigerate for five minutes. Heat cooking oil over medium heat and transfer the patties to the hot pan for 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes. Serve with hummus or in dairy-free pita.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

dairy-free greek quinoa salad


As adapted from Peas and Crayons
Ingredients:
1 c. quinoa
1.5 c. water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
1/4 c. olive oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Cook the quinoa according to package directions. While quinoa cooks, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, sugar and salt. When the quinoa is cooked, transfer to a bowl. Add black beans, cucumber, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper dress with the vinegar and oil dressing. Serve warm or place in the fridge for later to serve cold. This goes great with pita and hummus. Hummus should always be dairy-free (we go with Sabra roasted pine nut) and you may or may not be able to find dairy-free pita in the store. If you can't find it, here is a great dairy-free pita recipe!