Monday, September 30, 2013

minnesota

Today I stumbled upon the friendliest state in the country--Minnesota. How do I know? Free friggin airport wifi. I can't make this stuff up.
current view
I'm traveling for work again. This one is a whirlwind one-day'er. Alarm set for 4 am, a terrible dream woke me at 3:30 and I knew trying to fall back asleep was futile.

Southwest flight from Cleveland to Midway; Midway to Minneapolis and I was where I needed to be by 9:30 am. Some meetings, lunch, taxi rides, etc. later and I find myself back in the Minneapolis airport. With my layovers and connections (and the fact we live about 45 minutes from Hopkins) the earliest I'll get home will likely be midnight--best case scenario.

I'm tired but glad this is just a day trip so I can see my baby(ies) again tomorrow. Big thanks to my mom for coming to our house to watch Elden today!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

baby steps

video

Little by little, Elden is building the confidence (and skills) to master walking. I think his biggest stumbling block is his confidence because when he walks holding our hand he's not using us for balance most of the time. I suspect by next month he'll be a pro!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

sunday

Elden threw us for a loop today by sleeping until 7:10 (normally he's up before 6). This means his morning nap, which usually runs from 8:30-10, was quite unpredictable. Since it clearly wasn't happening, we decided to cash in a Christmas gift and have family lunch at Olive Garden. We ordered Elden a side of grapes and also gave him olives (which he often mistook for grapes and made quite the face upon discovering this dreadful truth), tomatoes, breadsticks, and a cheese stick/clementine we brought with us. When our meals came, he had some of Jon's chicken gnocchi soup but he definitely preferred my spaghetti with marinara sauce. Overall he was very well behaved for not having napped (that's what you get when you ply him with food) and the table next to us even made a comment about how he couldn't have done any better.

After lunch, he finally took a solid 2-hour nap. By the time he awoke Jon had left for work so Elden and I headed to the zoo. We're making sure to get our money's worth on this membership!
For the first time the otters were awake (but not swimming) and as we were heading out there was a keeper feeding the penguins. I like going at different times of the day because you never know what you're going to see.
The highlight of the day for me was the baby seahorses:
The highlight of the day for Elden was the carousel. Until it stopped. Then he yelled a lot of angry yells. Then he shed the world's largest crocodile tear while staring longingly at the carousel:
He fought us big time when it was time for bed tonight so I'm not sure if there's something going on with him or if it's as simple as he doesn't need as much sleep anymore. We're hoping it's a fluke because we've come to really enjoy our laid back kiddo...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

uninspired

With a lot of issues weighing heavily on our minds, I've been feeling quite uninspired lately. I've also been trying to be very intentional about the time I have with Elden--waiting until he's asleep to clean up his high chair after dinner, pack lunches, clean, etc. As he continues to advance rapidly through toddlerhood I've come to the realization that he won't always think I'm one of the raddest people around I don't want to miss a single opportunity to smother him with kisses, make him giggle, help him walk around the house, or take him to the zoo.
rocking spider at oma and opa's
Elden isn't walking on his own yet - he leans very forward when he walks (while holding onto our hands) and his toes point outward (not pigeon-toed) so we're wondering if there might be some physical or physiological hindrance on his ability to walk. It could very well be that he just isn't there yet which is totally fine, but we're keeping our eyes on it regardless. From what I've read, if he's not walking by 18 months we should get him checked out just to be safe which gives him a solid 4 months to work it out.
cooler weather = cute baby hoodies
We're still weighing the heavy decisions of 'what's next' for our family with Jon's May graduation date growing closer by the day. The good news is there are several paths he could take that would work well for our family in one way or another. The bad news is there are several paths he could take that would work well for our family in one way or another. Please be praying for discernment for us in the coming months.

Jon's car isn't cooperating. We've reached the point where we might just need to bite the bullet and buy a new (used) one. We're getting it checked out next week to see just how brutal the repairs will be. He needs a new windshield--apparently something hit his windshield below the wiper blades so naturally we didn't notice it until the temperature dropped and a crack that's too big to be repaired propagated up the passenger side--which is around a $350 repair and there appears to be something pretty amiss with his fuel system. I think if the total cost for both of these items is more than a thousand we will seriously consider trying to trade-in for something younger (that car is a '98). This would mean the introduction of a monthly car payment which we currently do not have the funds for. Lots of big things to think through.
trying on our winter hats we got on clearance last spring. someone has a huge noggin.
I'm hoping things will calm down over the next few weeks and that some R&R will do us a world of good. If this happens I'm sure I'll suddenly find inspiration again. It's just hard to be airy and free-spirited when the world weighs so heavily on my mind. Until then...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

the spark

You know those couples who have been together a really long time and claim they always feel those telltale butterflies whenever they see their significant other, as if it was the first time?

Yeah. I call bullsh--.

Don't get me wrong. I am madly in love with Jon. We often act goofy when we're together in the same ways we did in 2006. That could simply be a character trait, but we do feed off of each other's quirks. That being said, those butterflies flew the coop (cocoon?) a looong time ago. We got comfortable, complacent. We got pregnant. We got in a bad way. We started to see the other side of things. We kept working at it, kept trying to reconnect, but those dang butterflies eluded the hail out of us.
Until a few nights ago. I wanted to look at Jon's old pictures on his long-deactivated Facebook account. He and I sat, trying to figure out what email address he used to create it, with no luck. We turned to his current email account's earliest messages to see if he had set up forwarding (he hadn't). It wasn't long before I stumbled across tens of hundreds of emails we had sent one another in our earliest days of dating. They began days after he left everything he knew for Arizona and continued through November of my first year away at school when he finally joined me in Chicago.

And you guys?

I was dating an incredibly sweet, sentimental guy. His words were simple but meaningful. I only got through a handful of them before it was time for sleep, but those emails were a gentle reminder of why I was crazy about this guy in the first place.
When I think of those early days, I remember vividly. The way our eyes briefly met and locked in the car with Heather, Paul, and Matt following the Copeland show on Jon's birthday; the first time he kissed me; the nights we would spend watching Grey's Anatomy at my parent's house holding hands. And when I remember vividly, the butterflies subtly slip back in. Relationships are hard. They are work. More than most other things, they can drive you absolutely bonkers. But a simple reminder of who it was you fell in love with and how he managed to get you to commit long-term when no other boy had been able to is enough to more or less reset that internal angst clock. So while the spark while likely gradually fade away into an ember again, I will cherish these feelings now. This renewed sense of patience, gratitude, and naive bliss. And when that spark reverts to an ember I will seek out Jon's earliest emails in an effort to always remember who the man I married is.

*Yes. Together we have been through many hair cuts, colors & styles. That's love.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

zoo date

Yesterday my sister came down to utilize our zoo membership+guest pass so we could take the little man to see his beloved goats & sheep.

Spoiler alert: he wasn't nearly as into it this time around as the first.
We spent a solid 2.5 hours there and the weather was perfect. Unfortunately Elden was a bit cranky (teeth and/or other issues) but we made the most of it. I almost took him again today but a grocery run was more dire. I'm loving these passes and we'll probably be spending a lot more time there over the coming year.

Friday, September 6, 2013

13 months

At thirteen months old, Elden is getting closer and closer to walking. He now cruises around the furniture and even got himself from sitting to standing (if only for a moment) without holding onto anything for the first time yesterday. He knows more words than we realized--I was saying 'meow' to him and he crawled over to his Legos and brought me his Lego cat. He signs 'eat' when he's hungry (read: all the time), 'more,' and 'done' with regularity. He likes to blow kisses and point to objects that have caught his attention. He is back to eating just about anything you put in front of him. His canines are coming in now so all we have left are the 2nd year molars. Firsts include: first carousel ride, first buzz cut, first zoo trip, first time being infected with hand, foot & mouth disease, and first time touching a horseshoe crab. He's newly interested in this touch book he has with different textures in it. He also loves rocking creatures--Jon's parents have a horse and my parents have a spider and he's equally amused by both. Finally, Elden is very intentional in figuring out this balance thing because he knowingly lets go of furniture now and smiles really big when you get excited about it. One last picture for good measure:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

chipotle salsa

As soon as I saw my friend's mom pin I knew I must make it.
This was a half batch and it filled a medium pyrex. Totally 100% delish! All I need to do now is make the Chipotle chips and I'll be set for life...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

pumpkin spice natte (see what i did there?)

Given the fact that Jon and I are only allowed $10/month for 'fun' purchases, that equals out to at most 2 pumpkin spice lattes per month.

You guys. That's not a lattes. Sorry about that pun. Maybe.

Hence my quest for the pumpkin spice latte recipe to end all pumpkin spice latte recipes.

All jokes aside, this is a very serious mission. I began my internet search and found this guy. A quick glance of the comments that were a resounding "OMG THIS IS JUST LIKE STARBUCKS" had me itching with excitement. The big difference between that recipe and others I found were that this was a recipe for syrup. Needless to say, I was sold by the concept of creating a big ole batch of syrup that I could use over the course of a week or two instead of a one stop shop.

I followed the recipe almost to a T with the main difference being I added about 3 extra tablespoons of pumpkin. The steps are clearly outlined in the recipe so I'll skip ahead to the end.
I was misled, and it was a travesty.

Starbucks PSL it was not.

Was it good? Yeah, it was pretty okay. But it didn't fill the dark void that the true pumpkin spice latte has left behind.

I have a few ideas for my next attempts. I'll keep you abreast of the great pumpkin spice latte quest 2013 as I go. In the meantime, if you have tips or ideas or recipes you'd like to share, I'm at your beck and call.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

hf&m

As if life decided it hadn't knocked us around enough lately, hand, foot & mouth happened.

Our poor little man.

I got a call from daycare last Tuesday mentioning a boy in Elden's room had gotten it as confirmed by his doctor Monday night. They then mentioned the bumps on Elden's lower chin and asked that we take him to be seen before bringing him back in to ensure he wasn't contagious as well.

I had a feeling that it was strictly teething-related (it was) but I obliged. High fives all around! No infectious diseases here.

Natch, I ate my words approximately three days later.

The bumps started on his bottom. Worked their way down his legs and up his torso. Luckily there weren't very many elsewhere and I think he's had a pretty mild case of it. Either way, his pediatrician told us that he could go to daycare as long as he doesn't have a fever, which he hadn't all weekend. We even managed to take a trip to the Akron Zoo to get out of the house yesterday and he did amazingly well the entire three hours we were there. No problem! Daycare tomorrow! High fives all around!
And then this morning happened and our baby was fevered and cranky and sad. Luckily my mom is on vacation the rest of the week and offered to watch him, but I certainly hope this fever breaks today and we come out unscathed tomorrow...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

our budget

In addition to the obvious 'income' column, I sat down with Jon in an attempt to figure out where our money went should go each month. This is a breakdown of the items we figured we would certainly need:

personal expenses
hair cut danielle
hair cut jon
make-up
shower products
shampoo
body wash
face wash
deoderant
dental care
toothbrush heads
toothpaste
mouth wash
gifts
lady products
toilet paper/paper towels
dining out
entertainment
special dining out
jon/danielle fun money
marsala
elden
daycare
diapers
diaper genie/hygiene
wipes
clothes
bills/utilities
water
electric
gas
internet
cell phones
ADT
home insurance
mortgage
home equity loan
student loan
groceries
tithe
car insurance
car gasoline
life/LTD insurance
health
medical expenses
dental expenses
jon
danielle
elden
 
It's worth noting we did not include any emergency funds, particularly for the house or our cars. We opted to go this route because that is just far too unpredictable and with the little bit of money we have left with the above budget each month that likely wouldn't cover it and we'd have to tap into savings anyway. So, we just figured whatever's left each month will go into savings and towards those unexpected but inevitable expenses. We already have enough in savings that should (knock on wood) cover a pretty sizable emergency, but with our luck things will go wrong in threes...

It's worth pointing out that the bills/utilities are our obvious expense coming in at 65% of our monthly income. The Elden category counts towards 19% (thanks, daycare), personal expenses are 4% and health expenses are about 1.7%. For you mathematicians, that leaves just over 10% of our monthly income to stash back towards savings. It's not the greatest number in the world but it's better than the red we were ending up in each month before we decided to really hammer out these numbers. We didn't shoot for any particular percentage in each category, just looked at our incredibly neglected mint.com account at some of the trends and narrowed it down to the more critical ones. We know this budget is fluid and numbers will likely change as we go, but for now we feel comfortable with what we've done (including our $10/each "fun money" that we can do what we want with - this helps keep us accountable for things like an impromptu pumpkin spice latte run that I have thus had minimal self control over). So, these were the categories we used. It will also change when Jon graduates in May and we face either additional income and/or additional student loan or daycare costs. But ya gotta start somewhere, right?