Friday, September 29, 2017

five on friday

{1} Parsnip fries! Have you ever had parsnips? They are one of my favorite vegetables. They are like a mix between a potato and a mild but spicy carrot. Last night I roasted some in the oven with a little olive oil, salt, rosemary, and diced garlic. I practically inhaled them!

{2} Pip continues to be a big highlight in our house. He is super cuddly and he reminds me of a dog in the sense that he is always scavenging for Etta's scraps. Garbanzo beans, broccoli, potato--he eats all of it. He's such a little weirdo.

{3} This little lady has had a rough go of it lately. It's been tantrum after tantrum and she is often unsure of what it is she's so upset about. She had a particularly rough day yesterday so we figured she was tired and would pass out at bed time. Nope, an hour and a half after we laid her down she called for us and threw a fit that Elden was sleeping in her room - even though two hours prior he didn't want to have a sleepover and she threw a fit about it because she wanted to have one. She was inconsolable and told me to take him back to his room (how he slept through it is beyond me). I ended up bringing her into bed with me knowing it was a matter of time until she was out and I could lay her back down. Sure enough, within half an hour she was out cold so we took her back to her room. She seems to be in a much better mood this morning so we'll see...

{4} I was perusing the scrapbooks my mom gave me for my high school graduation and both kids kept pointing to various pictures of young me asking if that was one of them, so apparently the family resemblance is pretty strong. Here's a photo of my older sister and me circa the early 90's.

{5} I've talked about it before, but my Babycakes mini cupcake maker is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. You put the cupcake liners into the little holes, fill it with batter (I use one of these for ease/cleanliness), set a timer for 5 minutes and then scoop out the baked cupcakes with a spoon. My favorite thing about this little maker is in the summer when it is a million degrees out I don't have to turn on my oven to bake cupcakes. Plus, there's something so therapeutic about the process.

Linking up with KatieDeanneAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

to the mom who helped me in the Costco bathroom

Dear Mom in the Costco bathroom,

On Sunday morning I decided to take my kids to Costco to get a couple of items while my husband was away. Once we were done shopping, my oldest daughter told me she had to go to the bathroom. I looked at our full cart and her brother and baby sister and hesitated. How was I going to do this? She still needs help getting onto the toilet.

We first tried the family restroom, but it was occupied. We then moved into the main restroom and I stood in the stall with the door partially closed. Thankfully, she was able to climb up by herself since I had my 10-month-old in my arms. Once it was time to wash her hands, though, she was just a little too short to reach the faucet. You saw me juggling the baby on my hip and trying to simultaneously assist my daughter and asked if you could help me.

I said yes and you lifted my older daughter up so she could successfully wash her hands.

What you didn't know is that just a few months ago, being alone with my three kids was enough to make me want to run away and never return. Postpartum depression had stolen my joy and my ability to handle the simplest tasks--like taking care of my kids. If I had even considered trying to take them out by myself--because I knew that situations like the one I found myself in would be enough to render me useless--I would crawl into bed and not leave it all day. This trip was my first outing with all three kids by myself since things were really bad, and I was nervous about how it would go. Could I actually handle it? What if someone had a meltdown? Had to use the restroom?

Your kindness meant so much. I'm sure I could have figured it out if you hadn't offered to help, but you saw me struggling and you did something about it. Even though you didn't know me, you acted as my village in that bathroom. It's amazing what a small gesture can do to help someone who might be struggling more than is apparent on the surface. Thank you for making our morning smoother. Thank you for helping.

Danielle


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

what's up wednesday

Linking up with MelSheaffer, and Shay!


What we're eating this week:

Dairy-free pancakes (for Etta) with chocolate chips (for Elden/Edith).

This slow cooker turkey breast with mashed potatoes.

A version of this super easy slow cooker cheesy potato soup.

Slow cooker meatballs - recipe TBD because my kids do not like any sauce on them.

What I'm reminiscing about:


How was he so little? It's so crazy how much these kids change in such a short amount of time. Look at his little hands! 

What I'm loving:


This little girl has so much spunk and sass in such a small package. I used to think Edith would be the one to keep us on our toes but I suspect Etta will give her a run for her money...

What we've been up to:

The past few nights we've left Elden's bedroom door open at night and that has made a HUGE difference in him being afraid of his room. I don't know why we never considered such a simple solution before, but now there is minimal fanfare leading up to us leaving his room. Plus it makes it easier for me to creep in and watch him sleep ;)

What I'm dreading:

Our kids survive primarily on boxed macaroni and cheese, frozen chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and soup from a can. The attempts I've made at buying the healthier nuggets/hot dogs or making mac and cheese, soup and chicken nuggets from scratch have all been met with great resistance and gnashing of teeth. Well no more! Jon and I decided we are going to start requiring the kids to eat at least one homemade meal a day. I know this is going to be a battle and I am NOT looking forward to it. I plan on getting a bunch of recipes and meal plans ready, then implementing the new family policy after our Atlanta trip. Any suggestions you have are appreciated!

What I'm working on:

{image source}
So I was going to try to make something like this for Sally's wedding gift using the lyrics to their first dance as the tree. I even bought a heart shaped hole punch and everything. After three failed attempts at getting the tree right I have decided to return the picture frame to the store and give them money. 

What I'm excited about:


Highs that are no longer in the 80s and 90s. We have been melting over here.

What I'm watching/reading:

I had a dream recently that we won the lottery which is funny because we don't usually play the lottery. That led me to daydream about building a little farmhouse of our own one day so I decided to track down some farmhouse floor plans (this is my favorite) and create a dream house folder in my email. I also read a few articles about how to build a house for cheap. Spoiler alert: can't be done for as cheap as we'd need it! It was still a lot of fun to research, though.

As for watching, we finished all the seasons of Friends on Netflix so, much to Jon's annoyance, I started rewatching New Girl. That being said, our fall shows are making their way back on TV so I suspect those will take over.

What I'm listening to:



^ or as Edith says, "can we watch that crying to your mother song on your phone?"

What I'm wearing:

I asked a couple of girlfriends about the dress I bought for Sally's wedding. I tried it on again with my new heels and I was worried that it looked like an old lady's nightie. I was reassured by them that it is great and with my hair and makeup done it will not look old ladyish. 

What I'm doing:

Making list after list for our trip. I am seriously worried about forgetting something critical. I made packing lists for each of us, as well as to do lists for the days leading up to our departure. I have also been cleaning the house like a crazy lady because I love returning from a trip to a clean home. Jon keeps pointing out that we have several days before we leave, but we also have tons of stuff going on between now and then and I don't want to be up all night before our early flight cleaning!

What I'm looking forward to next month:

Atlanta! We will be leaving soon and I am so excited. We are flying (Edith and Etta's first flight and Elden's first flight since he was a baby) so I am really nervous about how that will go, but thankfully Jon's parents are going as well. They are driving so we are sending our luggage with them - that means no lugging the pack and play through a bunch of airports!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

etta (45 weeks old)

Holy moly. Sorry for making you endure such serious third child problems, Etta. In the month and a half (!!) since I've given a weekly update, much has obviously changed. It looks like Etta is finally cutting her first tooth! She also prefers to walk but can't do so without help. She is pulling herself up all the time, though, so she is working hard on walking on her own. Etta is still sleeping through the night and doing a pretty decent job of napping. She hasn't really said any words, but it's obvious she knows the meaning of different words. She waves hi and claps her hands. Etta is still happiest when she is eating and definitely seems to be weaning herself off her bottles, averaging no more than 3 oz. per bottle. She is still a pretty demanding infant and definitely knows what she wants, even if she can't communicate it with you. Etta pretty much hates books and loves to put everything in her mouth. She went on her first carousel ride this weekend and loved it. Etta is in primarily 12M clothing with some 18M mixed in. She definitely keeps us on our toes but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, September 25, 2017

weekend recap

Oh my goodness! We had such a great (and hot) weekend. I can't believe it's been much hotter now that it's fall than when it was still summer!

Friday:
After I got home from work, we decided to pack a picnic dinner and head to a local reservoir to play in the sand with friends.
Naturally, ice cream was in order.

Saturday:
On Saturday morning, I took Elden and Edith to get my driver's license renewed. They did pretty well (with the exception of when Elden loudly announced to the room of 15+ other patrons that he wanted to sell his little sister) so I rewarded them with Dunkin Donuts. After the BMV, we got ready and headed downtown to the Cleveland History Center with my parents and Jon's parents. We had tickets for free admission from the Smithsonian Museum Day Live and decided to check it out. They had a bunch of different hands-on play areas for the kids, as well as a gorgeous indoor carousel that we got free admission to as part of our ticket!
We ate our packed lunches outside in the courtyard then headed home for nap and quiet time. After dinner, both sets of parents came over to watch a movie with Elden and Edith so Jon and I could steal away for our neighborhood happy hour.
While there, I tried this moscato for the first time and it is officially my new favorite.  It was a really nice night to hang out in the pavilion and eat tons of appetizers and drink free wine.

Sunday:
Jon had to work sound at church yesterday but all three kids had at least some level of a runny nose so I decided to keep them home. I did a bunch of cleaning, made dinner in the slow cooker, and a ton of laundry. I am trying to get the house sparkling clean before we leave for Atlanta because there is nothing better than returning from a trip to an immaculate house. We ran to Costco for some essentials but otherwise laid pretty low. I took a nap when the kids did. After dinner, Jon and Etta ran to Home Depot and I took Elden and Edith fishing. Please note Edith's outfit of choice: cowboy boots and a sparkly twirly skirt.
Once Etta was in bed, I made dairy-free pancakes for the freezer. She is a very finicky eater--she gets tired of the same foods--so feeding her can be frustrating. I also prepped the meal we are bringing friends of ours who welcomed a new baby and made this vegan chocolate chip cookie dough (which I plan on baking today). You guys, I cannot emphasize to you enough how delicious these cookies are. My mom made them and OMG. We all devoured them. Hands down the best vegan dessert recipe I've had so far. We use Kirkland chocolate chips from Costco because they're vegan, but we also noticed Trader Joe's has many affordable dairy-free chocolate chips, too!

It was definitely a great weekend. I'm glad it got warmer out but I daresay it's a bit too hot. I wouldn't be complaining if we could go to our neighborhood pool in this 90-degree weather, but since it is closed that's cramping our style!

Friday, September 22, 2017

friday favorites

There are a few things that I have been absolutely obsessed with lately so I thought I would share them here!

{1} This serum. I never had really bad blackheads but I do get terrible hormonal acne once a month. The reviews on this product raved about how it minimized period-related breakouts so I decided to give it a shot. I just finished one whole cycle while using it (I apply at night after my shower) and it made a HUGE difference! I had a few small blemishes but they were short-lived and much smaller than at the same time last month. If you struggle with hormonal acne I 300% recommend it.

{2} Swap! I know I've talked about this a million times but I am obsessed. I always daydreamed about overhauling my wardrobe now that I've got this mom-of-three bod, but there are obvious financial restrictions on that. Since Swap is always running sales, I was able to get several tops that should flatter my body more than what I have now without breaking the bank. I've never been so happy to discover a website!

{3} Pip. This little guy has fit right into our family without missing a beat. Marsala is even coming around (kind of) and getting used to his presence. He is such a cuddler and loves the kids. I forgot what it was like to have a kitten so it's been a lot of fun having him.

{4} I said I wasn't ready for fall because of the immanency of winter. I was finally starting to make peace when I packed away most of the kids' shorts and tanks a week or two ago when the highs were barely hitting the 60s, and in retrospect I should have done that in August because suddenly the highs are all nearly 90. I'm so glad we had to break them back out again but I am also salty that we didn't have this weather the last two weeks our neighborhood pool was open!

{5} These heels. I love the dress I got for Sally's wedding because it is actually floor length on me (and then some) - a rarity for my 5' 7.5" frame. Since it is so long, I knew I wanted to wear heels but I didn't really have anything that would fit me anymore since I rarely wear them and my feet grew during my pregnancies. When I saw these heels I fell in love and Jon pointed out that they aren't too fancy so I could totally wear them with jeans for date night. The best part is they aren't too tall (since I am already taller than average) and they are as comfortable as heels can be!


Linking up with KatieDeanneAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

targetcise

I've been in a weird place of hating my body (again, does anyone else feel like they're reading an old post of mine?) and trying to be more conscious of what I'm eating. I even restarted Weight Watchers which was going really well until I got really lazy.

Then I considered joining a gym. There is an Anytime Fitness really close that is open 24/7 and the membership is cheap / you can join without signing a contract. I came thisclose to pulling the trigger yesterday but when I saw that the annual fee would be charged that day and then again in November I noped out of it.

Today at work we had doughnuts. Then we had a free lunch. I love food. I have no self control over food. If you give me a buffet I will eat more than Joey Chestnut (come at me, bro) without breaking a sweat.

Then it occurred to me: Target has late hours. Target is free. Target is air conditioned or heated and well lit so I don't have to worry so much about being jumped or dying of a heat stroke or hypothermia. Target has workout equipment (hello, tiny hand weights) I could use while lapping the store. I COULD SHOP WHILE I EXERCISE. Even better, the money I am saving on a monthly gym membership could be used to buy stuff from Target! Targetcise! It is both health- and economic-conscious. IT IS A WIN/WIN.

I need to get some cat food once the kids go to bed. Bet you'll never guess where I'm going.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

new dining set

After we assembled all six chairs of our Overstock dining set, we got to the table to realize it was pretty damaged. Overstock was out of stock (irony) so they couldn't replace it and we decided just to return the whole thing.

The timing was impeccable, though, because Target was having a 15% off furniture sale. We ended up buying this table and these chairs and the total cost was less than the Overstock set. As an added bonus, the table is solid wood so we could refinish it down the line when it is inevitably scratched up. When the furniture arrived, it was also infinitely easier to assemble than the Overstock set had been. All together it took us about 30 minutes to set up the table and chairs.

We went from this:
...a stained chairs / scratched, clouded and beat up table... to this:
The table is bigger and now we actually have enough chairs to accommodate our entire family. We are really happy with the purchase and the style fits the overall vibe of the kitchen and living room really well.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

weekending

This weekend was amazing! Friday night was low key. Jon put together our new bunk bed that we managed to snag when it was on sale for $89. Elden and Edith had a sleepover in it Friday night and were totally in love with it.

Saturday morning was Edith's first dance class of the season.
This was also her first dance class without me participating. It was okay--she really struggled with me in the room and when I left the room she freaked out. I brought her out to have a discussion (she could either participate with me right outside or we could stop taking dance classes) so she asked to go back in where she participated probably 75% of the time (the other 25% was spent lying on the floor covering her face). 

Saturday afternoon my friend, Alli, came over to meet Pip and hang out. We ended up going to Ulta to return a few items I had ordered online that I wasn't crazy about. We brought Elden and Edith at their request and...
...they got into the sample products. Please note Edith's foundation hobo goatee. 

I ended up buying this lipstick and this eye shadow palette. I gotta say--I am crazy impressed with the lipstick. It is pricey but I put it on before church yesterday and after breakfast, coffee, lunch and a nap it still looked like I had just applied it. 

Sunday morning we went to church. After church we had to return some items to Gap so we brought our lunches and ate after the service then headed to the local mall to make the return / let the kids play in the play area. The rest of the day was spent visiting with my mom and Jon's parents. 

We also noticed that Pip and Etta are very similar--whenever the fridge or dishwasher are open, both of them will make a beeline for them. It's so funny to see them both trying to climb in at the same time!

Monday, September 18, 2017

DIY clothespin picture frame for wedding guest book

Since I am on the DIY train, I figured I'd share the other project I did for my friend's wedding. They are doing a photobooth / guestbook combination using these little instant cameras and she really wanted a large frame for guests to hang their photos on. I set to work (with the help of many!) to cut down some old fence posts I had.

Unfortunately, I didn't take steps of the process. My fence boards were too wide for my liking so they needed to be cut down to 4" using a table saw. (Humongous thanks to my friend Alli's boyfriend, Chad, for serving as my saw operator on this and for both of them allowing me to storm their home last minute late at night to utilize their power tools! I love you!). We then cut 45-degree angles where the four boards would come together.

To join the boards together, I used two of these corner braces on the back on each corner.

To attach the twine, I just measured every 4" on the inside of the frame and made a mark where I hammered a nail in. I tied the twine around the nail and glued it with wood glue to make sure it wouldn't fall off easily. I used these clothespins and they really had the rustic vibe I was going for--plus they were the perfect size! Between Alli, Chad, and Jon, I had a lot of help for this one but I was so happy to see it come to life. I can't wait to see everyone's photos on it at the wedding!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

DIY spray painted dollar store fairy wings

Elden and Edith are going to be "flower fairies" in one of my best friend's wedding next month. She is getting them floral crowns and was asking what color fairy wings I thought she should get them. Since I've only ever seen neon-colored fairy wings at the dollar store, I suggested attempting to spray paint them to make them more wedding-friendly.

I did a little research and discovered that this brand of spray paint is the best to use for fabrics. I didn't want to spend $12 on spray paint so when I discovered Michael's had some (and, at the time, a 50% off coupon) I stopped on my way home from work. With a few easy coats I went from this:
{image source}
To this:

This project was SO easy! For such a cheap / easy project (it cost about $7 total for both pairs of wings and paint and took maybe half an hour total for all coats) I really think the paint made a world of a difference!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

spaghetti baby

If I've learned anything about Etta's personality over the past ten months, it is that she knows exactly what she wants and she gets very unhappy with you if you do not figure it out at lightning speed.

She had been struggling with meal times lately and rejecting basically everything we would offer her. Jon speculated it was because she was sick of people feeding her and she wanted to do it herself.

Well, he ain't wrong.

 Spaghetti night was a yuuuuge hit. The biggest. Better than any other dinner ever.
Etta ate more food than Edith. She was so content to feed herself and as an added bonus I was able to feed myself before mine was cold. Her highchair needed to be hosed off (literally) and it is now permanently stained orange, but Etta ate and was the happiest little peanut ever. Now taking suggestions for dairy-free finger foods.

Friday, September 15, 2017

get qurious review

I am a biomedical engineer and obviously have a passion for science. I am also not artistic in the least (Jon 100% dominates that arena) so when it comes to fun hands-on activities with the kids I usually serve as a helper or observer. Elden is definitely my artistic little guy--last year his teacher had to limit her class' access to paper because Elden would tear through a whole ream in a few days--but lately he has shown a major interest in science and doing "experiments." When Get Qurious reached out to me and asked if I'd like to try their Explorer Box, I jumped at the opportunity.  

In a nutshell, Get Qurious utilizes an augmented reality app with physical game pieces that encourages curiosity and imaginative play. It is designed with kids ages 4-8 in mind and you do need iOS v10 (or above) for the app.

Each Explorer box includes 16 build a story cards, 16 build a spaceship cards, 4 role-playing masks and 4 treasure hunt worlds.
The kids immediately gravitated towards the build a story cards. To use this portion of the app, you take a photo of the different specified object (a person, a problem, a planet, etc.) and it will change the story.
Once you have completed the storyboard, the app will play back the story for you with animations and narration.
Edith was definitely a little young for this box, but even she managed to work the story portion of the app.
The box contains treasure hunt worlds where you color in a map and take a photo of it to take you to the appropriate world.
 There are treasures hidden throughout the 3D world that you need to find.
 A third section of the app contains masks where you can record your voice and you become the character whose mask you are wearing.
The last section lets you build a space ship that will change based on which cards you pick. We didn't even get to this section the night we opened the box because the kids were so enthralled with building their stories. 

Elden absolutely loved the box. I loved how interactive it was. If you're interested in trying it, you can order a free Get Qurious mask play kit (seriously - no shipping, the app is free and the mask is free) by clicking here. The folks at Get Qurious are also developing an Ocean Adventure Box and if you know my boy at all you know he is obsessed with all things ocean. I can't wait for it to come out so we can give it a shot!

Note: we received the Explorer Box free of charge in exchange for a honest review of the product. All opinions expressed are my own.