Wednesday, January 31, 2018

what's up wednesday

Linking up with MelSheaffer, and Shay!

What we're eating this week:
Ok, so I technically made this pizza last week, but it gave me life. Jon made the dough (he has changed his recipe slightly to incorporate whole wheat flour) and for toppings I did some grape seed oil, caramelized onions, sliced pear, thyme, and a little bit of mozzarella topped with a honey drizzle. Oh my goodness, it was fantastic.

I was supposed to be vegan this month but totally forgot and ate meat on Jan 1! I told Jon I'd start in February so a lot of my focus has been on meal planning for that.

I've also made 4 batches of these pickles in the past week and a half.

What I'm reminiscing about:
Elden looks mostly the same, but Edith and Etta look so much older after just a year! I can't believe that in the fall we will have one in kinder and one in preschool.

What I'm loving:
Elden is a total bookworm. He loves story books, but he also has a huge appreciation for non-fiction books and runs to check out books about sea creatures, mummies, volcanoes, etc. At our last library trip he discovered a bunch of children's science experiment books. Oh my goodness, he is obsessed. Honestly, this one is fantastic. The idea to use mini marshmallows and dried pasta to build is such an easy one with items we already had in our pantry! There is also an experiment using just food coloring, water and corn starch we plan on doing soon. This is the other one we checked out and it is great, too!

What we've been up to:

House projects galore. We had to have our basement waterproofed where we had a vertical crack in the foundation. We still have to finish up the kids' bathroom refresher (#slackers) and then we are starting on our master bath renovation.

What I'm dreading:

Our electric bill. We have the misfortune of living in an all-electric house. That means our heat and hot water tank run off electricity and not gas, which is much cheaper. We are fortunately on the payment plan (so we pay the same amount each month and it all balances out at the end of the year) but thanks to our colder than average November and December we currently have a $450 balance on our account. We had to run off aux heat instead of our more efficient heat pump while our basement was waterproofed (our heat pump was right where they needed to be so we had to disconnect it) so I suspect this balance will grow and lead to an increase in our monthly payment.

What I'm working on:

Swagbucks - I've been on a roll lately. So far I have cashed out for $350 in Disney gift cards in the past month. We also talked to our families who all expressed interest in going with us so we have made the decision to stay off site when the time comes (keep in mind we still have 2+ years until we go!) which will save us so much money!

What I'm excited about:
Valentine's Day. My mom came over and brought some little stickers and Valentine's cards for the kids to do and they had so much fun that Elden asked to make all of his school Valentines this year. We don't typically do much to celebrate, but I plan on getting the kids each something small.

What I'm watching:

Modern Family, Superstore, The Goldbergs.

What I'm listening to:

What I'm wearing:

Nothing of note.

What I'm doing:
Searching incessantly for a friggin bathroom storage cabinet that will match our new pieces.

What I'm looking forward to next month:

Superbowl Sunday! Not because I actually care about the teams (although I genuinely hope the cheating Patriots lose) or even the commercials, but because our family tradition is to do appetizers for dinner. I already started making a list of vegan appetizer options and I am most excited about this dip and these zucchini fries.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


Jon's parents got the kids this telescope for Christmas. Honestly, I didn't have high hopes for it because I had a telescope as a child and it was essentially the same as star gazing with the naked eye.

It had been super cold (because Ohio) but this weekend we finally had temperatures in the 50s so we busted it out.
Ummmm it was totally awesome. Jon and I have nerded out way more than the kids over this, although Elden is definitely really into it also. If you're in the market for a telescope, I cannot recommend this one enough.

Here is a photo of Edith living her best life outside on one of the warmer days.

Linking up with Biana

Monday, January 29, 2018

helping a preschooler understand dates and time

Elden likes to be aware of what is happening and when at all times. He is our child most affected by deviations to schedules and plans. For a long while he would come into our rooms at 5 am (or earlier) until we bought this alarm clock.

That's my first tip - get a clock that changes colors when it's time to wake up. It has saved our sanity. Furthermore, it has a button he can press that will state what the current time is.

Trying to figure out the best way to help him anticipate what was happening that day (without reminding him multiple times per day when he would ask) was a little bit trickier. Then I had an idea to print out a blank calendar of the month with specific symbols that we could easily explain to him. For instance, ABC means a school day, the church means we are going to church, the ballet shoes mean they have dance class, etc. MOM means I am taking what would be a normal work day off work.
I started doing this in December and it has made SUCH a huge difference! Elden went from asking us what we were doing 5-10 times per day to not at all. He crosses out the day it is currently first thing that morning and all throughout the day goes back and references it. As we approached the end of the month, he began reminding me he needs a new calendar because he is almost out of days to cross off. I definitely recommend doing this for your child. I designed it all in Picmonkey using images I found on the internet but if you are at all artistic you could just print off a blank calendar and draw in the symbols.

Friday, January 26, 2018

five on friday

{1} I shared a day in our pretty tame lives yesterday. I feel as though I deserve a pat on the back for documenting an entire day in photo format. Pat pat.

{2} This popped up in my Timehop today. This was taken in the bathroom of my little garden apartment in Chicago. We were so fresh faced and young!

{3} This friggin kid. I walked in the bathroom last night and he was sitting like that during his bath. Then this morning the photo on the left was in my Timehop! Some things never change!

{4} The bathroom purchases are trucking along. We purchased everything in that photo (except the toilet because we replaced that not long after we first bought the house and the shiplap because we still aren't sure whether we will do it). Now my dilemma is finding an above the toilet storage cabinet with doors that matches the vanity and mirror. I am having 0 luck finding something I like, that will do what I want it to and that doesn't clash with the other components.

{5} Moms hip hop grew again this week! We had to move to the big studio and as usual it was so much fun. This is definitely my favorite weeknight!

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

a day in the life

I always love taking a peek into other's lives, so I figured I would do my own day in the life post.

On this day, I got up with my first alarm at 6:06 am. I know, it's an odd time to have an alarm set for. I laid in bed and completed some of my Swagbucks To Do list.
Around 6:20 I got up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, put on some powder and mascara and got dressed.

Downstairs at 6:28, I started my coffee (God bless my Keurig), got my shoes on and started some nCraves on my laptop.

Since the kids all decided to sleep in, I was able to get out the door by 6:35. On this particular day I actually listened to the radio on my way. I usually sit in glorious silence (I am not a morning person) for my 38-minute commute, but I felt like listening to music today.
Arrive at work, fire up my laptop and get to it. My degrees are in biomedical engineering, but my full-time job is more of a mechanical/electrical engineering/project management gig. That being said, I also work part-time as a quality manager for a friend's medical device start-up. That's a night/weekend deal so I do it totally remotely.
My work days are usually spent coordinating with sales, vendors, field engineers and customers, figuring out how to interface my company's equipment with our competitor's equipment, and ordering parts. I keep a box of instant maple and brown sugar oatmeal on my desk and will usually have a packet for breakfast.
All throughout the day my Fitbit also reminds me to get up and walk, so you can find me either walking in place at my desk (we have standing desks) or lapping the break room.
I am also part of my company's leadership and philanthropic committees, and on this particular day we had a working lunch meeting. I usually work through lunch anyway so I can get home to the kids more quickly (I really do love my company and their flexibility / my ability to make my own schedule) so this wasn't too outside my norm.
Around 3:15 I left work for the day. 
I usually talk to Jon/the kids on the phone during my commute home while Jon preps dinner. As soon as I walk in the door around 3:50, I typically have Etta attached to my person and try to give the older kids a lot of attention.
On this particular day, Elden had fallen asleep during quiet time. Whenever that happens he is incredibly difficult to wake up so I usually have to go get him when I get home.
We eat dinner around 4 every day because we are ninety years old.
After dinner the kids get to watch one episode of TV. I usually do the dishes or pick up the house while they are watching.
After TV we will either spend time together or run errands. On this particular day we didn't feel like going anywhere so we stayed in and played Pop the Pig and Guess Who. Etta remained glued to my person.
At 6 pm, Etta goes up for her bath, bottle and bed. One of us will do this while the other spends time with Elden and Edith.
Around 6:45, we get the big kids a snack and they will often play on their Leap Pads. This game and this game are their favorites lately.
At 7 pm we take them up for their bath. The nice thing about their ages is we can pretty much leave them to it unsupervised. We will pick up their rooms a bit, lay out their pajamas, etc. while they play in the tub. We pop in and out every few minutes and then go in around 7:25 to wash their hair, floss and brush their teeth, and get them out. Once they're dressed we read a story and I will take turns cuddling with each of them for a few minutes while Jon sings to the other one.
Usually by 8 pm we are out of their room (Elden basically moved into Edith's room). On weeknights I typically then get ready to head out to the gym while Jon gets ready to ride his bike. He has a bike trainer that adjusts its resistance based on a virtual reality course he rides. It's actually really cool (he can ride in real time with other people all over the world) and it's nice that we both get to work out without having to worry about childcare.
I wasn't feeling the gym on this particular night so after half an hour on the elliptical I ran to Aldi to get a few groceries before they closed. Full disclosure: I totally went through the McDonalds drive through on my way home because #balance.
I get home from the gym anywhere between 9 and 9:30 pm. My first order of business when I get home is to finish cleaning and pack my lunch for the next day. Big messes stress me out and I can't relax if I see a disaster around me. Waking up to a big mess is also a horrible way to start my day so I like to have the house mostly cleaned up before I go to bed.
Jon and I will usually watch an episode or two on TV. We have been watching shows we miss during their typical air time during the week (The Goldbergs, Modern Family and Superstore mostly) on Netflix or Hulu Plus. I'll usually work on Swagbucks at this time.
Around 10 I will head upstairs to take a quick shower. I like to get in bed by 10:30 at the latest and I usually will putz around on my phone until 11 pm. Our days are all pretty similar because we are creatures of habit and our kids thrive under routine. Weekends are a lot more laid back--my gym closes at 7 pm on Saturday and Sunday so if I do work out I do it during nap time--but our weekdays follow pretty similar schedules.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

etta at 14 months

Major third child problems - I hardly ever have posts dedicated to just Etta. At 14 months old, Etta is wearing primarily 18-24M clothing. She is easily our pickiest eater for her age - she is very sure of what she wants to eat and if we do not figure it out she expresses her disdain by throwing whatever it is we present her with on the floor. Etta has her 8 front teeth (4 top/bottom) and her molars have cut through the gums. She is a walking machine and often sprints to where she wants to be. Etta loves Elden and Edith and is right there trying to do what they're doing. We have introduced some dairy cooked in food (if you missed it, she has FPIES to dairy) but she was very cranky and experienced GI issues those days so we mostly avoid it. Etta does not have a large vocabulary - her primary words are uh oh, Pip, Mama, and Dada - but she shakes her head no if she doesn't want something and has a clear understanding of things you ask her (can you bring me that, can you give this to Dad, etc.) so we are not concerned at this point. She loves twirly skirts and accessories arguably more than Edith so that should be a lot of fun as she gets older. Etta is probably our most cautious child for her age and often clings to me when we are in new places or around new people or the vacuum is running. She has been a fantastic sleeper at night and is down to one nap per day. Much like her siblings, she is happiest when she is naked and/or in the bath--my favorite thing is when she is playing in the evening and I ask her if she wants to take a bath, she will drop whatever she is engaged in and run to the steps. This child of ours is definitely stubborn and opinionated, but she is constantly cracking us up.

Monday, January 22, 2018

master bathroom design project

It's official! We signed with our contractor to help us remodel our master bath. This is going to be done on a very tight budget, and as such, we will be DIYing a decent portion of it.

So far our plans are as follows:
-contractor will rip out existing shower / pan, replace valves in the wall, install new shower / pan, door, and faucet
-contractor will relocate light fixture to wall and patch ceiling
-contractor will install new bathroom fan that has a built-in light
-we will rip out existing tile floor and ultimately lay luxury vinyl planks
-we will replace the vanity with a new one
-we will tear down the wallpaper and paint
-we will uninstall and reinstall the toilet (which we are reusing)
-we will install shiplap on the vanity wall if the budget allows it

Right now our contractor is looking to see if we can get the shower surround we wanted to buy to fit (it is 2" deeper than what he recommends so he has a call out to the manufacturer to get some specs). If we can't go that route we will likely choose one of the following surrounds:

Originally I was leaning towards the gray subway tile but the more I look at the carrara the more I prefer it. I'm hoping it's not even a decision I have to make because we really liked the original stall we chose (plus it is a lot cheaper than these options!) but I'm finally getting excited about this remodel!

Friday, January 19, 2018

punch to the gut

I recently saw a little snippet of this article on Bloglovin, and being the math nerd that I am, my curiosity got the best of me so I clicked over.

When I got to this image, I felt like I got punched in the stomach:
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It's no secret that working mom guilt is real for me. Between the kids begging me not to go to work on a weekly basis and what society tells me I should be doing, sometimes it's exceptionally challenging to drown out my thoughts of insufficiency.

What started as feeling like I'm being a selfish asshole for being the working parent was quickly replaced with rage.
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It is mother-frigging 2018. The mom-shaming is as real as ever and I am sick of it. What is good for one is not always good for another. I'm a better mom when I am home for my kids because I work and get a break from them during the day. There's some serious dad-level shade going on in this too... the majority perpetuated by men (at least based on that 57% statistic). They do realize that they are saying a child cannot thrive as well under the care of their father as their mother, no? Or is that not even an option that crosses their tightly closed minds because obviously a woman belongs in the home, seen but not heard.

I am absolutely jumping to conclusions. I know nothing of their sample sizes or which statistical tests were run. But based on personal experiences both Jon and I have had when others find out he's the primary caregiver and I am the working parent, I know for a fact these statistics aren't egregious. 

Enough. I can be a loving and involved mother and have a career. My husband can be a nurturing stay-at-home dad and still be contributing equally to our household. I can be dedicated to both my job and my family, and in spite of my family always taking priority, it does not mean I am a less valuable employee--because I get my shit done, and done well. 

five on friday

Today I am in full-blown bathroom remodel mode and have been scouring the world wide web for inspo images.
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{1} I love this vanity with barn door! It got mixed reviews but it's also on sale and for the price I'm willing to take a risk on it. I think Jon is on board too so we just need to head to the store to buy it.

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{2} If we do go with that vanity, I think this faucet is a perfect companion.

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{3} I am also totally here for this shower faucet (we'd get rid of the tub faucet).

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{4} In terms of layout, this is pretty similar to our bathroom, except ours is even shallower than this one and not as wide. Storage is my biggest concern - I am thinking of doing a recessed medicine cabinet like this and then a shelf over the toilet like this (that we could hang the hand towel on).

{5} Totally switching gears, but this week was the second moms hip hop dance class and we grew to twice the size. Seriously, ladies. Get on a local FB moms page, ask who would be interested in such a thing, and work with a studio to make it happen. It is super fun, great exercise and a good way to meet other moms in your community!

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

elden at (not quite) 5.5

Elden will be five and a half early next month, and I never want to forget him at this stage.

He lost his first tooth. He is now in size 6/7 pants, not because his waist is big, but because he has crazy long legs.

His favorite things right now are taking photos and videos with his camera, LEGO duplos (Santa brought the kids this box for Christmas and they get played with every day), reading (if we aren't there to help him he either uses this reader or he just looks at the pictures), playing on his tablet, and drawing. He can almost always be found with a toy in his hand or pocket:
Elden is totally my hoarder, but he hoards under the guise of "collecting." He has a vast collection of everything - he once asked for my number from the BMV to add to his collection - which makes my goal to minimize our crap this year exceptionally challenging. Elden is a stickler for rules and consequences; he complies relatively painlessly when you tell him what the consequence for noncompliance will be, but that does not mean he never goes in time out or loses a privilege. He is also my most sensitive one and gets really upset if he hurts someone accidentally or sees one of us upset.
Elden really struggles at nighttime because he's scared, so he has slept in Edith's room with her and we leave the door open which seems to help. He is still a finicky eater (for instance, he refused to eat a purple carrot because it was purple, in spite of the fact that it tasted just like an orange carrot and he likes regular carrots) but he is more willing to try new foods now than he was a year ago.

He prefers footed pajamas as daywear and those are hard for us to find for a reasonable price since he is so tall (he's been in size 6/7 for the footed PJs for at least 6 months). Elden is also obsessed with Pip and asks us to put Pip in his bed with him when he first lays down. He is thriving in preschool and will switch to half-day kindergarten in the fall. He's nervous about it (me too!) but I suspect he'll end up loving it.

Elden is still trying to find his autonomy and loves to argue with us about almost every decision we make. He is incredibly stubborn, but is also so sweet when he chooses to be. He says Edith is his best friend and that Etta is the cutest baby ever, and I hope he never stops loving his sisters so fiercely.

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