Monday, August 29, 2016

first day of preschool!

Today was Elden's first day of preschool. Before I get into specifics I wanted to back up to Thursday and recap what we've done in anticipation of school starting.

On Thursday we went to visit the school and meet his teacher. We spent about 15 minutes in the classroom with him and then waited outside for about ten minutes while he spent time just with his teacher. Edith was devastated by the separation. When the ten minutes were up, his teacher gave us a rave review and as we left the building he said excitedly, "my teacher wasn't even mean to me!"

Suffice to say, that short little visit did wonders for his anxiety.

In an effort to make his last weekend as a non-schoolchild super exciting, we packed the weekend with fun things. On Friday we went to the local kiddie park as a treat from my grandma. The kids had a blast and were so glad we got to go. On Saturday we spent the morning with Jon's parents. After nap time we went to the mall to play at the toy store and get ice cream. Elden devoured a vanilla cone and Edith preferred the free orange chicken samples that were being handed out by our table.

Sunday after quiet/nap time we ran to Target to get supplies for a poolside picnic. The pool in our neighborhood closes after next weekend so we have actually gone 4 times this week. Unfortunately, approximately half an hour after we finished eating it began to storm so we had to leave, but the kids handled it pretty well. We kept trying to hype up the fact that these were all preschool beginning celebrations to really drive home what a fun thing school would be.

This morning, much to our surprise, Elden woke up late at 6:30 and when he came into our room he was so excited when he realized today was the day. We had read him two different school-themed books (this one and this one) last night to help build it up. He requested chocolatey pancakes for breakfast and we happily obliged since we had leftovers from Sunday. That being said, I think he was too nervous/excited to eat and he just nibbled at it and had half a banana.

Then, pictures.

Trust me, there are a lot more than these three.

Typically our preschool does drop-off in a way that staff retrieves the child from your car, but for his first day we asked if we could walk him to his class and they told us absolutely. We arrived and walked him in and Elden stayed behind me. I knew he was nervous because in the car he said he was afraid there would be lots of bullies. Luckily, once we got to his locker, he seemed to get excited--especially because his teacher saw him and told him how happy she was he was there. That seemed to help his anxiety a bit because he gave me a big hug and started to head into the classroom without hugging Jon! We quickly pointed that out and he ran back to give Jon and Edith a hug. Then away he went as if he'd done this a million times before.

Once again, Edith was devastated. That being said, it didn't take long for her to realize she could play on the computer without being bossed around. We also broke our screen time rule and let her watch some Sesame Street music videos. So, I think she will be just fine. :)
spending some time as an only child
I took a half day at work so I could be there for pick up. Elden said he had a great day and even though the answer to 99% of our questions was "I don't know," I did gather the following from his day:
-he really liked it and no one was mean to him
-he didn't talk to anyone and no one talked to him (when we asked about making friends)
-he played with white Play-Doh
-he ate a snack of pretzels that "were shaped like a line!"
-he is excited to go back tomorrow
we survived!
I am so relieved that his first day went well. I didn't even cry! If he had been upset I absolutely would have been a mess, but since it didn't seem to phase him I was able to walk away feeling good about everything. I hope this trend continues the rest of the week.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

to my oldest, on preschool eve

Dear Elden,

Tomorrow you start preschool. You would think I would be ready for this since you started daycare at just six weeks old, but this is different. You are aware of being away from us now and time is a very tangible thing to you. You have emotions and opinions and fears and the thought of sending you out into the world on your own has me reeling. But I'm doing my best to not let it show. 

As you embark on this journey towards an education, my greatest hope for you is that you will love your peers. I don't care if you can write your name by the end of the year or if you can count to twenty or recite the alphabet. What I desire for you is to exemplify the relentless and unconditional love of Christ. That you would be a beacon of light in a world that is much darker than I hope you ever realize. Sure, I hope you ultimately excel at academics - mostly because that would make your life somewhat easier in the long term - but at the end of the day, that doesn't really matter. 

My son, I am so proud of the person you are becoming. I see the empathy streak across your face when someone is sad. I see the way you get upset when someone else is being yelled at. I see the way you nurture your sister and are constantly asking me about your unborn sibling. If anyone can handle the charge to love others - regardless of race, religion, language, political stance - it is you. Don't you ever lose that.

I love you and I am so proud to be called your mama.

Friday, August 19, 2016

five on friday: recipes i've been loving lately

I have had a Pinterest account for years, but I admittedly did very little with it for a very long time. Since we began budgeting and Jon became a vegetarian, I have definitely upped my Pinterest game for meal planning help. Some recipes are a hit, some are a bust. These are the five I've really liked lately and any changes I did/would make to them.

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{1} Greek Quinoa Bowls: Jon and I just tried this for dinner a few nights ago with a few changes: we added black beans and cucumber, we omitted the tomatoes/bell peppers (Jon doesn't like tomato and our bell peppers ended up being bad), and we subbed red wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar because we didn't have any. We also had warm naan with hummus on the side. YOU GUYS. This was such a light, delicious dinner! I also love how versatile it was - you can seriously add or omit a variety of things for some variation and it will be delicious no matter what. This is going to become a staple in our house.

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{2} Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff: Admittedly, I wasn't sure how crazy I was about this one at first. I loved how simple it was to pull together and the fact that Elden liked it too (!!). I think I actually prefer the way this one tastes leftover as opposed to when I first made it. That being said, it was a little too sweet for my taste so I would probably halve the amount of cream cheese it called for and add some pepper next time.

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{3} Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta: Almost every Friday in our house is (homemade) Pizza Friday. Since it had been super hot and humid here we have taken to grilling our pizzas (I will have to write another blog about Jon's dough recipe because lots of people keep asking me for it!) and we have a pretty set routine. We make the kids a pizza with marinara sauce and half cheese (Edith's preference) / half pepperoni (Elden's preference). For us, Jon and I make a pizza with aglio e olio sauce, artichoke hearts, spinach, and goat cheese. We buy the big goat cheese logs from Costco but never use an entire log on one pizza and we've found that the rest goes bad REALLY fast once it's been opened. In an effort to eliminate food waste we have been looking for goat cheese recipes we can use with the leftovers a few days later. We found this one and gave it a shot and it was really good! Next time we will probably omit the mushrooms (I don't like them and Jon isn't particularly fond of them) and maybe sub in something else.

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{4} Crock Pot Potato Soup: It has been super hot, humid and rainy here for the better part of the last two weeks. Last night it was finally cool and dry enough to open the windows again. I looked at the 10-day forecast this morning and it appears as though lows in the 60s are going to be our norm, at least for a little while! Do you know what that means? (insert sing songy voice) It's soup season! This recipe is thee easiest one you will stumble upon and the payout is BANK. Sometimes I make it as is, sometimes I omit the bacon and use vegetable broth/cream of celery soup to make it vegetarian-friendly. But I am all about the dump dinner life and this one is so good. I also add way more cheese than the recipe calls for and some sour cream.

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{5} Cookie Bars: I've said it before and I'll say it again. Drop what you're doing this instant and make these cookie bars. Your only regret will be your waistline because you can't stop / won't stop once you've had these.

Monday, August 15, 2016

baby turkey: 3rd trimester!

Today marks 28 weeks of what is planned to be my last pregnancy.
So far I feel pretty good. After discussing the pityriasis rosea with my doctor, he said he wasn't particularly concerned about the preterm labor risks that an Italian study linked to the rash, but that I should definitely take any possible early labor signs seriously (as if I wouldn't regardless, ha!). I have my next appointment with him in a month and then I switch to biweekly visits. I can't believe it!

I am now averaging 1-3 bathroom trips per night and just generally finding it hard to get comfortable in bed. I have gained approximately 16.8 pounds since I got pregnant and while I panicked at first (there are still 12 weeks to go, after all...) the Googs has since told me that's okay. The dreaded Charley Horse has returned and I had one in each calf the other morning. My lower back is probably hurting more than my pelvis and I am quickly realizing I need to be less physically demanding with myself--we painted Elden's room on Saturday and I am still paying for it.

I got my whooping cough vaccine on Friday and tomorrow I go for my Rhogam. I passed my GD test so that's not a concern. I need to begin my kick counts but this baby is active enough that I'm not sure how strict I need to be with the numerical counting unless I notice a sudden decrease in movement. I don't know if it's the fact that I am trying to savor this pregnancy more knowing it is likely my last or if this is generally an easier pregnancy than with Elden and definitely Edith at this point, but I am grateful that I am not hurting too much yet. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

five on friday (makeup edition)

I have never been happier to meet a Friday in my life. This has been a long work week and I am so excited to recharge this weekend with my favorite people.

My friend, Rebecca, is getting married in just over 3 (!!) weeks. I am super excited for her and I can't wait to stand up next to her as she begins the rest of her life with her fiance, Walt. She asked me if I would be willing to help her with her makeup the day of, so she found a wedding makeup Youtube tutorial and we had a go at it a few weeks back.

I sincerely doubted my abilities, you guys. I don't typically wear much makeup. I just don't have the energy or patience for it in the morning. But I told her we could try and if she hated it I wouldn't be offended. Much to probably both of our my surprise, I didn't stab her in the eye (except once maybe) and she liked it! I also learned a lot from that tutorial which piqued my interest in makeup again and so I experimented with what makeup I had on hand. And I realized two things:
1. I didn't really have the right makeup I needed to look bomb like the tutorial girl
-and-
2. Most of my makeup is older than my marriage (6.5 years).

Hashtag ew. So I decided to bite the bullet, order some new makeup with the input of my more makeup savvy friends, and toss my older-than-my-children junk. And I am in love!! Here is what I found that really seems to be working for me:

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{1} Beauty Blender! The tutorial used this and we didn't have one on hand, but two of my girlfriends swore up and down that it makes a huge difference on foundation. Since it was only a few bucks I bit the bullet and I WILL NEVER GO BACK TO USING JUST MY HANDS AGAIN. My foundation looks airbrushed and I look like an angel who descended from the heavens. If you are on the fence about this, I highly recommend getting one. I just get it a little damp, pump the foundation on the sponge, and dab dab dab away.

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{2} Foundation: I needed new foundation since mine was so old, so I started by looking up reviews of drug store brands to find the best (but cheapest). These all seemed to fall into the $10-$13 range anyway, so when I stumbled upon this highly rated foundation I decided to try it. Combined with my blender, I love the way my complexion looks now!

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{3} ColourPop Matte X Lippie Stix: My friend, Michelle, has been ColourPop obsessed for ages. When I checked out the site I couldn't believe the prices so I bit the bullet on two Matte X Lippie Stix (I got Cami and Barely There) at her recommendation. She said I should put chapstick on before applying the lipstick to help fill the lines on my lips and just serve as a base coat. Let me tell you: lipstick doesn't stay on my lips for more than an hour. But this stuff? This stuff is BOMB. It is a gorgeous matte look that seriously stays on and doesn't need reapplied all day. I'm not exaggerating. And for the price?! I will definitely be ordering more of these soon. I'm eyeballing Boa, Back Up and She Bad.

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{4} ColourPop Eye Shadow: This is another item that seemed to be highly recommended, and I needed new eye shadow anyway, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I also loved this! It is way creamier than your traditional eye shadow (I got a free pallet of eye shadows with my Ulta order and I prefer the ColourPop ones five times over) and unlike other eye shadows I wear (I have been informed I have hooded eyes) this doesn't rub off in my creases by the end of the day! I definitely want to buy more of these, too. I'm hoping to get Envy, Coconut, and Shameless to counter the neutrals I ordered initially (Cornelious, Supermodel and To-A-T).

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{5} ColourPop Blush: The blush I owned was probably the oldest item of my makeup so I decided to part with it. I needed a bit more on my order for free shipping at ColourPop so I opted to get Trickery. I was a little nervous that it would be too rose-y pink for me, but it is PERFECT. I just do two quick dabs of my blush brush and swipe it on my cheeks and voila! Perfectly flush looking cheeks.

So what do I look like after all of this? I feel weird taking face close-ups so this will have to suffice:
I believe in that photo I mixed the two Lippie Stix shades together to create that color. I was also using my e.l.f. black eyeliner on my top lid and this ColourPop brown one on my bottom. I'm not sure what the mascara is off the top of my head - I know it was just a drugstore brand that I had bought within the past few months so I didn't toss it with the rest of the makeup - and I also used this finishing spray from Ulta as a primer prior to applying my foundation. I am so excited to expand my ColourPop collection over the coming months so I can do more with my makeup!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

elden's fourth birthday party

We had Elden's birthday party at our neighborhood pavilion/playground on Saturday morning. We decided to have it from 10 am to noon because we weren't sure how hot it would be later in the afternoon.

I have really tried to take a low-key approach to basically every birthday party except for the first birthday. This one was no exception: all the plates, napkins and cutlery were purchased online from Oriental Trading to match Elden's requested monster theme. We decided to cook burgers and hot dogs on the pavilion grill and had potato chips as a side dish. Since I didn't want to deal with cups and ice, we simply had bottled water and juice pouches for the kids. We got the cake from our favorite bakery and had no real agenda for the party.
The thought was the kids would play on the playground from 10-11 and we would serve the food at 11, followed by cake/presents. As it happened, I don't think any of the kids even went to the playground until about 11:30 because there is a sand volleyball court right behind the pavilion and they were all playing in that the first hour! The weather ended up being perfect--sunny but not too hot--and Elden had an absolute blast.
a few of Elden's friends!
Let me tell you: birthday parties not in the home are the way to go. You don't have to clean your house before/after and in a place like a pavilion it is exceptionally easy to do a sweep when you are done to toss all the garbage and clean up. Since we pay into a HOA, we only had to pay a deposit on the pavilion rental which wasn't cashed since we cleaned up after ourselves.
baby sister trying to get in on the action
I didn't get very many pictures of the party so you'll have to take my word for it that Elden was so happy. Now that he's four he's told me he is an adult and "will shower like you and daddy now." (that hasn't happened yet)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

buddies.

Elden and Edith get along really well overall. They definitely get competitive (especially when it comes to each one wanting whatever the other has at that moment in time) but at the end of the day they care for each other deeply. They are also in that sweet spot where they find little things to play with together which makes things like dinner prep go a lot smoother. It makes me so happy.

I asked Jon to try to get a few cute pictures of them together. He sent me these while I was at work and I smiled so big:



One of my bigger prayers over their lives is that as the age they will always be friends and look out for one another. 

how we celebrated.

On Tuesday night once the kids were in bed, I ran out to the Dollar Tree to pick up a few balloons and a card for Elden. I also ended up picking him up a bag of gumballs and both kids a little grow-in-water animal for their baths on Wednesday. 

Yesterday morning, I set my alarm early so I could run to Dunkin Donuts. Elden made this much easier on me by waking up at 5:30 and calling me in so I could hold his hand (part of his waking up all night phase he's been going through lately). After a few minutes of that, I left to get ready and head to DD.

I got home about 5 minutes before his clock turned green. At 6:15 on the nose, we heard him rustling and come running down to our room. When we wished him happy birthday he said to us, "that sure was a loooong sleep!" (he knew Tuesday night when he was done sleeping it would be his birthday so I suspect he had an excitedly restless night) but was a little too overwhelmed to open his gift that we had on my nightstand. We decided to head down for his special birthday breakfast instead.

Once downstairs, we lit a candle on his donut and he blew it out. He was way too excited to eat though, so he decided to play with his balloons a little.
This was actually the second time we lit it since he blew it out before I could get my camera out...
Next came his gift--which he absolutely loved and immediately requested I retrieve his other animals--followed by his card and then finally his breakfast (with some brief stoppage to play with the balloons).
For his birthday, Jon and I decided to get him this hippo and this cheetah. Elden's favorite toys the past few months have been these large plastic animals that used to be Jon's when he was a kid, and we think a lot of this love has to do with Elden's love for Lion Guard. His collection already had a lion, crocodile, elephant and tiger, and Elden specifically requested a hippo and a cheetah.

I cannot tell you how awesome these two things are. We really looked them over Tuesday night and the details are amazing--the cheetah has raised pads on its paws and the hippo's mouth looks wet--so I suspect we will be buying more Safari Ltd. animals in the future (next on the list will likely be this and this.)
The rest of the day was relatively uneventful. I had to go into work so we told Elden we would do more celebrating when I am off on Friday. Both kids have dentist appointments tomorrow, then we told Elden we would take him to McDonald's for a Happy Meal (his favorite) and to play in the play place. His party is on Saturday and he is so excited for it. This was definitely the most excited he's been for a birthday so far and his joy was both palpable and contagious. He shared one of his balloons with Edith (she was beyond thrilled) and spent a lot of the morning running around in excitement. We can't wait to celebrate him more this weekend!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

four.

a few hours old
3 years and 364 days old
To my beloved first baby:

Today is your fourth birthday. You have been asking me since Sunday morning if "today's my birthday now?" and you insist that "next week I'll be five." You are easily one of the most stubborn children I have ever encountered, but I know this means that as you grow you are unlikely to succumb to peer pressure. You are so much more than that, though. Your imagination flourishes each day - just the other day your Sunday School teacher shared with me about how you were pretending to be a grasshopper in class and didn't want to tap the other kids on the shoulder as part of the class activity because "grasshoppers don't tap!" Listening to you over the monitor during quiet time is one of my favorite things because I get to hear the songs you make up, as well as the interactions you make between your toys (there are a lot of good versus bad guy battles and family dynamics).

You are the best big brother I have ever met. Edith drives you crazy and you sometimes get bossy with her, but at the end of the day you are fiercely protective of "MY sister" and help her when she needs it. You are also so excited about the new baby and ask to talk about what it will be like every single night. Sometimes in the morning you lift up my shirt to say hi to the baby without any prompting.

You are hilarious. Your big plans and the things you say have us cracking up daily. You have caught on to the fact that you are hilarious and often do something and quickly ask us, "am I so funny?"

You are so sensitive and curious. You have needed me a lot lately but the truth is I don't think you really need me, I think you know how much I love your cuddles so you are humoring me. You love climbing into bed for morning snuggling when you wake up and you seek my lap out throughout the day. You think your dad is just so fun (he is) and are constantly asking him to throw you/wrestle you/play with you. You want to know how everything works and why it works the way it does. You love to eat burgers, some of your favorite things are Lion Guard and anything related to bugs, and reading or playing in the sprinkler/splash pad/pool are some of your favorite activities. You have already begun planning your adult years (you will have two dogs "that stay little babies forever" and you will live in Delaware) but promise me that you will still hug and kiss me when you're big. I am so excited to see the boy you are turning into and I know that you are going to do big things with your life.

We love you so much, so far beyond comprehension, and I pray that you know that.

All our love.
Mom and Dad

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

baby turkey: boy name

Yesterday I shared our girl name for Baby Turkey. For our boy name, we had similar requirements. We knew we wanted it to start with an 'e,' try to keep the first name short, and I didn't want it to be popular. I also knew that we wanted to pay homage to my dad (Elden's middle name is Jon's dad's first name; Edith's middle name is my mom's middle name, BT's name if it is a girl was chosen so it would sound similar to Jon's mom's name).

Even since I was pregnant with Elden, my first choice for a boy name was Ender. Jon could never get on board with that ("Ender isn't even a real name" to which I say LIES--my whole blog is based on a quote from that book). He kept choosing totally whack names that I just hated. The boy name was the big struggle for us because I just wasn't crazy about any boy name I encountered that started with an 'e.'

In any case, my dad's first name is actually a big name in both our families but is relatively popular/doesn't start with an E. His middle name is Francis so we decided to try to work that in as the baby's middle name if it's a boy. For the first name, there was a name Jon kept coming back to that I was very, very 'meh' on. Finally, I decided to look it up on Nameberry to see its popularity rank and meaning.

Basically, as soon as I saw the meaning ("little fire") I was sold. We normally don't choose names based on the meaning but it just felt so right that I couldn't not. By this point, however, Jon had somewhat moved on from it, so it took a little bit of time for him to come back to it. If Baby Turkey is a boy, his name will be:

*it's come up already, so we are pronouncing it "ee-ghan"

Monday, August 1, 2016

baby turkey: girl name

Let me just start out by reiterating that if you are pregnant with your second child and think there's a possibility you may have another one down the road, do not choose a name for your second child that starts with the same letter as your first child's name. I don't care how much you love the name for your second or how little you care that your children's names will begin with the same letter. You will back yourselves into a corner for your third + fourth + etc. child and lament the day you chose your second's name.

So for the girl name, we knew we wanted it to start with an 'e.' We also knew we wanted to stick with the tradition of keeping the first name short since our last name is a bit of a (long) mouthful. Jon really wanted to pay homage to his mom if this baby is a girl (her name is Evelyn; she does not have a middle name). Finally, I knew I didn't want the name to be popular (as in: top 300 or on the list of "most popular baby names in 2016 so far").

For the longest time, our top pick was Elsie. However, Elsie popped up again and again on the predicted most popular baby girl names for 2016 so much to my chagrin we crossed that off the list. Jon kept pushing for Ethel but I just didn't dig it, and I believe there was a different name I was pushing for a girl that he wasn't getting on board with.

Eventually, he came around to one of my top names, especially because when we combined it with the proposed middle name it sounded very similar to Evelyn, and that's how we decided on Baby Turkey's girl name. So, without further adieu, I present...