Wednesday, August 23, 2017

elden's first robot

Elden was given a Barnes and Noble gift card for his birthday. On Sunday, we headed over after church so he could pick something out. I thought for sure he was going to get a book because he recently used his birthday money to buy a Disney princess book and has been taking it everywhere with him.

Once we got up the escalator he immediately spotted the toys. He initially picked out a magic kit and a slingshot but then we stumbled upon a table filled with items that were 50% off the lowest ticketed price. When we saw this robot for the exact amount he had on his gift card it felt like fate. He walked out a very happy kid and has been playing with it every day since.

If you're in the market for a robot for your child, we definitely recommend it. It is very easy for Elden to operate and it's actually really high quality for the price. It also comes with different games and accessories, which is a nice touch.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

buffalo cauliflower tacos

Yesterday Jon texted me that he was going to make lentil tacos for dinner and asked if I'd eat them. While I totally appreciated the gesture, lentils are the bane of my existence. I've tried them on a few different occasions (prepared differently) and each time I wanted to hork. 

Anyway, I was left racking my brain and then it occurred to me that we had a head of cauliflower in the fridge that probably wouldn't last much longer. Since tacos were on the menu, I figured I would go the buffalo cauliflower route and they did not disappoint.

Preheat the oven to 425F. Cut the cauliflower into florets and place in a large bowl. Lightly toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until tender. Place in a taco shell with cheddar cheese, lettuce, ranch (or blue cheese) dressing, avocado and/or black beans and drizzle with hot sauce.

You guys, this was seriously the bomb. The best part is since I didn't add the hot sauce until the taco was prepared, Etta was able to enjoy the roasted cauliflower also and she absolutely devoured it. In terms of prep, this was one of the easier dinners we've made and it was so satisfying. I will definitely be making these more often.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

first big screen movie

Cleveland is home to the second largest theater district outside of NYC. While we can't afford to take the kids often, we really want to expose them to different forms of art as we are able.

We also haven't taken the kids to the movie theater yet. Jon and I aren't huge movie buffs (the last theater experience we had was for Ender's 4 years ago) so it isn't high on our priority list, but we also weren't sure whether the kids could really sit still. Elden also struggles with loud noises sometimes so we weren't certain he would enjoy it.

Last weekend, a friend invited us to Cinema at the Square to see Charlotte's Web. She had free tickets so I figured it was a great way to get our feet wet and see if the kids could handle it.
Elden did great. He fidgeted a lot in his seat, but he remained seated the entire time. He did periodically cover his ears, but it was without drama.

Edith did okay. About halfway through the movie she crawled into my lap where she remained the duration of the movie. She kept saying she wanted it to be over and to go home, but when it actually ended and was time to leave she cried her head off because she wanted to stay. I'm not sure whether she's just a bit too young for a movie or if it was because we skipped nap time to go, but I probably wouldn't take her again for a little while. There is a My Little Pony movie coming out in October that we will probably take them to.

The most interesting part of the experience? Probably when Edith silently handed me something and I inquired what it was. "A booger!" - thanks, kid.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

the things we do for our children

I need to talk about this. 

I continue to take the kids fishing. Over the weekend, Jon's parents came over to visit. They brought Edith her own fishing pole and got a tackle box for Elden so naturally they wanted to go to the pond that night. I cut up hot dog (because I still can't bring myself to sacrifice worms) and off we went.

Last trip, it was the swallowed hook incident that left me unsettled. 

This trip, it was the ole hook through the eye socket incident.


I'm not going to lie: I hate everything about this. Jon keeps telling me he thinks I should be vegan because when he tries to discuss the awful reality of the meat and dairy industry I immediately shut down and yell at him to shut up. The problem with me being vegan is that I greatly enjoy meat and dairy. More so dairy than meet (I would probably willingly join a cult whose entire religious existence revolved around cheese where I would quickly rise through the ranks to be the Queen Cheese due to my sheer devotion to that moldy goodness), but I just don't have the willpower to avoid it all together. That took a weird turn, but my point is that I feel immensely guilty that we are hurting these fish in the name of sport.

But my children greatly enjoy it and I greatly enjoy seeing my children happy, so I do it.

But it sucks. More for the fish than for me, but still.

I hate it. Why can't my children enjoy crocheting? Knitting? Anything that doesn't involve piercing flesh when done properly? How can I atone to the fish for my sins against them? 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

tried and true chick-fil-a copycat recipes

This blog post is dedicated to the driver sitting hopelessly in the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru line on Sunday. Because we've all been there:


Over the weekend, I decided to try a couple of Chick-Fil-A copycat recipes I had found: one for the nuggets and one for the honey roasted BBQ sauce. I'm here to report that they were delicious!

In my humble opinion, the nuggets were basically identical to the real thing. The sauce wasn't 100% spot on, but I'm guessing a lot of it had to do with the barbecue sauce I used. In any case, they weren't difficult recipes at all and will certainly meet any craving you might have. The biggest thing to remember is the chicken needs to marinate for half an hour so make sure you give yourself enough time!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

quarter life crisis

Over the weekend, I decided I wanted to dye my hair a super light pink. I guess I was feeling ~edgy~ so I hit up a Sally Beauty and bought this stuff. Naturally, the kids caught me in the act and wanted in on the action. Since I've always viewed hair dye (especially demi-permanent) as a form of expression, I wasn't about to say no.

This is what the color was supposed to look like:
This was the color (along with the purple next to it) on the kids' hair:
Aaaand this is what it looked like once we waited the recommended time and washed it out:
Naturally, we were all totally bummed. So then I went and busted this out. 

Let's just say my days of being a remarkably skilled hair dye novice are fin.
So the first time I used the Splat, I tooootally missed the entire back of my hair. I ended up having to do a second round the next day. Even then, it was horrible. Not uniform, just looked a hot mess. The kids loved theirs though:
So after less than 24 hours I had the "what was I thinking?" and "I am not 19 anymore" realization. Saturday night, I ran to Walgreens to buy some dark brown to cover it up:
Jon asked me if it was fun while it lasted, the response to which was a resounding no. I used to love playing around with hair dye but I forgot what a pain in the butt it is to remain committed to the color. I'm hoping to avoid having to dye it again but I may have to do a light brown once my blonde roots start to come in. I told Jon I think I was having a quarter life crisis or something because the whole thing was SO impulsive.

If hair dye is the worst life crisis I have, I guess I have it pretty good.

Monday, August 14, 2017

etta (39 weeks old)

Etta is officially 9 months old. Over the weekend, she decided she wanted to start crawling. To be honest, I'm shocked at how fast it happened...she went from having no idea how to crawl to cruising across the entire first floor in about 2 days. Etta is also trying to pull herself up on things now. She seems to be weaning herself from bottles and greatly prefers table food over formula. She's warming up to new people better than before but she still has a great deal of stranger danger (especially regarding men) as evidenced by the fact that she burst into hysterics when a male Costco employee started to talk to her the other day. Etta signs 'more' but doesn't seem to know what it means. She continues to love trying new foods. She is such a joy and we absolutely adore her.

Friday, August 11, 2017

five on friday

{1} Our kids are still fishing machines. Unfortunately, our last foray resulted in catching a lily pad and therefore breaking the hook, sinker and bob free from the line. On the same trip, Elden caught one fish that swallowed the hook. I was freaking out because I saw a pink something in front of the hook and I thought we were certainly ripping its stomach out through its mouth. I may have almost cried. After about a minute of closing my eyes and tugging at the hook, Elden said, "Mom, I think that's just the hot dog [we used as bait]." THANK GOD, the child was right! I was not ripping out the fish innards but was merely peering at the bait we used to catch the fish. Suffice to say, mama may not be able to keep these antics up.

{2} The weather (kind of). It has been unseasonably cool here the past few days. While I do not like the notion that summer is quickly coming to a close, I absolutely love logging into my Nest app and seeing multiple No Usage days. We open the windows at night and close them once it starts warming up so the cooler air gets trapped inside. It's perfect!

{3} Mama shrimp. I shared our exciting news about Big Guy on Wednesday. Jon got this awesome shot where you can see all of the blue eggs in the abdomen.

{4} This dress. Sally's wedding is in just a few months and I had originally planned on getting a dress from Rent the Runway. However, most of the dresses I liked were more expensive than it would have been to just buy a dress, so I had been scouring the net for something for a few weeks. When I saw this one on Zulily, I knew it was the one! Not only did I love the style, but it was cheaper than renting a dress.

{5} These joggers. The only sweat pants I currently own were Jon's that I stole. As such, they are not feminine or form-fitting at all. I've wanted joggers for a long time so when I saw the $10 price tag I snagged them. They came in the mail and they are the softest, most wonderful pants ever! I bought the black pair and have every intention of getting a purple pair also.

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

so our family is expanding...

A little background: Elden got 10 shrimp for his birthday. There was 1 big one (that he promptly named Big Guy) and 9 little ones (that he referred to, collectively, as Little Guys). Why did we get him pet shrimp? Because we are lazy AF and did not want to have to care for something high maintenance. And then... PLOT TWIST:
So now our low maintenance pet is turning into lots of low maintenance pets. At what point does this no longer remain low maintenance?
You know what I learned in the span of 30 minutes thanks to this website? Way more about shrimp reproduction than I ever thought I'd know. Some highlights:
*the pregnant shrimp is sometimes referred to as being "berried," with her eggs acting as the "berries"
*the pregnant shrimp sometimes literally kicks the babies out of her
*shrimp eggs have eyes
*female shrimp are usually larger than males (should have been our first clue about Big Guy)
*for a creature named for its small size, male shrimp "appendages" are shockingly large

So now we wait and see. One thing I did not learn is the gestation period for shrimp. Just kidding, I just searched that and the answer is 20-40 days. 

So within two months, I'm gonna be a grandma.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

first time fishing

Elden has been really interested in fishing for the past few months. He had been asking me if we could catch a fish and bring it home to cook it. Here's the thing: Jon is vegan and I hate all food that hails from the water. I have no idea how to cook fish, no less prepare a fresh fish to cook.

For his birthday, he begged for a fishing pole. Jon's parents delivered and this child was SO excited. The pole they got him came with a fake fish that he could use to practice casting. After a few tries, he really had it down. He begged to go fishing the same night he got it, but it was late and we didn't have any hooks. The next day he begged again. We ran to Dick's to get some hooks that evening and when we came home I took Elden and Edith to one of the ponds in our neighborhood.

We didn't have time to catch worms and if I'm being honest I feel so guilty sacrificing a worm by stabbing it with a hook, so we used some ham. We set up shop at the pond and got nary a nibble. After about 15 minutes, we drove to a different pond in our neighborhood. Within a minute or so of the bob hitting the water there was a flurry of activity. Unfortunately (and probably totally unsurprising to the seasoned fisherpeople out there) the ham kept tearing right off the hook so we didn't catch anything. We quickly ran home to retrieve a hot dog and returned to the pond. It didn't take long for my babies to catch some blue gills!
Please note the towel. I am not the most squeamish lady alive, but I know the fins on fish can spike a girl and I'm not down with physical pain. I also haven't fished since I was probably 10 or so, and my mom was the one who unhooked the fish for me. Poor first fish we caught had to suffer while I figured out the mechanics of unhooking it with minimal damage. I'm not gonna lie, I'm not particularly crazy about inflicting physical pain on these guys. I'm greatly looking forward to the day Elden can do this himself so I don't need to be present for the suffering of the fish.

Elden had a blast and was so upset it was time to go home. He keeps asking me when we can go again. Guess I need to invest in more hot dogs...

Monday, August 7, 2017

weekending (elden's 5th birthday)

I ended up taking Thursday and Friday off work since Elden turned 5 on Thursday. I originally only planned on taking Friday off, but Elden asked me on Wednesday if I was going to work on his birthday and got sad when I told him yes. Can't argue with that sweet face!

When Elden first woke up there were some balloons waiting for him. We opened presents (his shrimp were his main gift but I picked up a couple things for him--mainly his handcuffs he had been begging for--to open the day of.) We also got Edith a few Dollar Tree gifts so she wouldn't feel left out.
One game we got the kids was Tugie - it was a huge hit! Elden and Edith are both way better at it than Jon and me.
With her clip-on earrings I swear she looks 12.
After breakfast, we ended up taking the kids to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. We were a little nervous because Elden did NOT sleep well the night prior so we thought we would certainly experience some big meltdowns. I've never been so happy to be wrong! We had a great day at the zoo and the kids ate McDonald's while we were there (we told Elden we could go out to a restaurant for his birthday and he insisted on McDonald's... sigh). We headed over to the Rainforest briefly before heading home for Etta's bottle and naps.

After dinner, we headed to the grocery store so he could pick out a cupcake. Both kids chose vanilla cupcakes so we headed home to enjoy them. At bedtime, we let them have a sleepover. Instead of having it in Edith's room, we managed to squeeze the mattress into Elden's room and Edith slept on that.

Friday was relatively low-key. Jon and I needed to party prep and the kids had dentist appointments. Both did an excellent job! Edith got x-rays and the tech was shocked that she cooperated so well for them.

Saturday was the big day! Elden had his friend pajama party from 9:30-11. You guys? This was awesome! Since it didn't really fall at breakfast or lunch, I didn't feel like I needed to provide a feast. I got donuts and donut holes, made an egg casserole, Jon made banana bread, and Jon's parents brought fruit. It was SO easy and stress-free! We set up the kids' bounce house in the front yard and set out these slap bracelets and these masks for the kids to decorate in the house. I also blew up a few balloons for the inside of the house. Pretty sure Etta was the biggest fan of the balloons!
Elden had a really hard time. He does not like being the center of attention and struggles with big groups of people. I had warned him that he might not enjoy a big party but he insisted. He hid up in his room a lot of it and when it was time to open gifts he wanted to do it under his comforter so no one could see. I ended up opening them for him while he hid in my lap. Once gifts were opened he did a little better and set up his new Lego set with a few friends. I'm thinking this was the last big friend party for him, at least until he's a bit older and more self-aware.
Once all his friends left, we had lunch and did nap/quiet time. After that it was time for our family party! We headed to our neighborhood pavilion to grill out and have the Oreo ice cream cake Elden had picked out at Aldi a few weeks prior. Elden was very patient about waiting to open gifts and our family spoiled him to bits.
I ended up walking Etta home to do her bedtime and everyone stayed back for another hour or so. Elden practiced casting with his new fishing pole while Edith danced and performed for everyone. Elden told me it was his best birthday ever. :) It ended up being an awesome weekend celebrating him and I am so glad he enjoyed himself.

Linking up with Heather and Biana 

Friday, August 4, 2017

five on friday

{1} These two. Some moments they play together and are little cherubs and others I feel like I'm refereeing a WWE smackdown.

{2} Please note the placement of Elden's right hand. Edith was looking down and Elden just wanted to get these pictures over with, so when I told Edith to look at me he decided to take it upon himself to assist.

{3} Last weekend we went to a local Kiddie Park with my parents and grandma. Guess who we ran into!? My favorite teacher ever! I was so surprised to see her and it was so nice being able to hug her and catch up a little.

{4} I mentioned earlier this week that Edith loves to do her makeup with me when I get ready in the morning. She isn't the only one.

{5} We have some dill growing in the front yard and on the dill are three monarch caterpillars! It's so fun to watch them eat and crawl around. I'm hoping they make their cocoons on the dill so the kids can see them.

Thursday, August 3, 2017


To my biggest little guy:

Today you are five. Five! One full hand of fingers! It's rocking my world because the memories I have from your first day of life are still so vivid.

You have enriched our lives in the most wonderful ways. You are the most observant child I know and your curiosity about e v e r y t h i n g is absolutely contagious. You are strong-willed, outspoken, defiant. You are also introverted, hilarious, bookish, and can be so kind and empathetic to both your siblings and your peers.

You love to swim, play games, help us cook, dress up, and go on new adventures. You requested a pet for your fifth birthday, so we got you pet shrimp. You got 10 of them. You named the largest one Big Guy and the other nine Little Guys. The day after we got them, we couldn't tell if one had died. You frantically asked if it was Big Guy and told me you were sad. You are definitely my most sensitive child and I hope you never stop letting yourself experience your emotions.
You have been particularly cuddly lately. Every morning you want non-stop cuddles. I am soaking up every moment. You are so excited to start your last year of preschool and I hope you never lose your enthusiasm for learning.

I love you. I am so glad I get to be your mom. As much as I wish you could stay little forever, I love seeing your excitement when you conquer a new challenge or grow in some capacity.

I love you more,

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

my mini-me

Edith is such a firecracker. My mom always remarks that she looks crazy similar to me at that age. At this point, I'm pretty sure I'm Edith's favorite person. If I am wearing a skirt, she wants to wear a skirt. If I have a dress on, she wants a dress. If I'm wearing pajamas, she wants to wear hers. If I'm in pants... well, that's not going to do and she wants to wear a dress. It's so sweet seeing her watch me get ready in the morning and ask for makeup. I love that she wants to wear her hair like mine. When I cuddle with her at night she always asks me for "this many [holds up five fingers] more minutes." Edith can be a very challenging girl, so those moments of sweetness are so redeeming. I know she isn't always going to like me as much as she does now, so even though she can try my patience I am trying to savor all these little moments with her.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

etta (37 weeks old)

This sweet girl is nearing her 9-month birthday. She can go from lying to sitting on her own. She totally wants to crawl but isn't quite there yet. Etta is very opinionated about life and is not quiet. She has gotten really skilled at picking things up - she can get food from her high chair tray into her mouth pretty easily. Etta sleeps from around 6:30 pm - 6 am every night, which is a huge departure from even a month ago. She has been doing great around other people and we can leave her in the nursery at church without a problem. She loves the pool and baths, as well as Marsala. We are all so in love with her!