Friday, March 30, 2018

five on friday

 {1} Etta is constantly keeping us on our toes. She is hands down the most demanding of our children and constantly getting into things. Jon texted me this photo the other day with the caption "trouble" and I laughed out loud.

{2} We made vegan tacos for dinner the other night and they were SO GOOD. Jon has been experimenting with different vegan cheese recipes (I will have him write his perfected one out) and I used this vegan sour cream which I actually like better than the real deal. We also added rice, lettuce, salsa, jackfruit (we buy ours for $1.99/can at Trader Joe's) and refried beans.

{3} Elden was down for the count earlier this week and yesterday Edith joined him with a fever and feeling generally miserable. Why is it they get sick at the beginning of school break every time?!

{4} I know what I want my next project to be...

{5} We have some Amazon credit and I was thinking about buying this kid-friendly DIY soap kit for the kids. I am also eyeballing this marker maker or this glow-in-the-dark putty kit. There are so many fun kits for kids on Amazon these days!

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

*affiliate links used

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

what's up wednesday

Linking up with MelSheaffer, and Shay!

What we're eating this week:

Sunday night I went on a roasting spree--I made rosemary sweet potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, and thyme Brussels sprouts. I also made quinoa. This allowed me to make grain bowls with a balsamic vinegar drizzle. I also got sprout chips out of the deal which is never a bad thing:

I also desperately want to make sauerkraut soup again this week.

What I'm reminiscing about:

Pip is such a ridiculous cat. In addition to acting like a dog and playing fetch, he loves to cuddle in the oddest positions. I dub this position 'slinky cat.'

What I'm loving:

I can always tell where Edith has been...

What we've been up to:

We've just been trying to survive. I've been slowly going through the kids' toys and getting rid of them. I need to get rid of more. I'd like to refresh the laundry area of our basement but I'm not really sure the best way to go about doing that. I like this inspiration:
{image source}
What I'm dreading:

Etta is a big bully. We've really been struggling with her thanks to headbutting (see bloody lip above), hitting, etc. Elden and Edith never acted like this so it's totally thrown us off. Each day I worry about whether I will walk away with an injury.

What I'm working on:
Saving for Disney! I mentioned yesterday that I am well on my way to my savings goal (I am currently at 18%). This is partially due to the fact that I have hit an all-time earning of $1000 on Swagbucks. If you want help getting started on Swagbucks, I have a private group you can join on Facebook

What I'm excited about:

Warm temperatures. We are so beyond stir crazy. We need to get outside.

What I'm watching:

The Goldbergs, Modern Family, Superstore.

What I'm listening to:

I've actually greatly preferred silence over music lately. Have I mentioned we are stir crazy?

What I'm wearing:

Nothing of note.

What I'm doing:

I really need to kick my butt into high gear and finish the kids' bathroom. I'd like to have it done before our master bath is done which means I need to get going on it!

What I'm looking forward to next month:

The return of New Girl! I am so sad it's the last season but so excited about what's in store.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

saving for disney update

I recently made a detailed spreadsheet of all the anticipated expenses I have for our eventual (2020) Disney trip. These expenses included:

-five 3-day base park tickets, inflated by 5% twice to account for possible price increases between now and 2020
-rental car for a week
-Airbnb for a week
-parking at the Disney parks
-extra money for dining out, souvenirs, etc.

Then I added a few columns for the Disney gift cards and Mastercard gift cards I had already redeemed. Once that was done, I made a pie chart because #nerd.

Something about seeing a visual representation of how much we need to save to have the trip fully funded really motivated me. Based on how much I've already saved and the fact that I would like to have the trip fully funded by June of 2020, I need to save about $130 a month for the next 26 months. That number doesn't seem like much but since we currently have a pretty tight budget it really is.

I haven't shied away from the fact that I don't want to use any of our "regular" income to pay for this trip. I want to pay for it all by extras such as:

+Pinecone Research Surveys
+Garage sale / local BST profits

I honestly didn't think it would be possible, but considering I just hit my $1000 Swagbucks lifetime earnings (after only really starting it in December, so 3 months ago) I think it is totally doable! If you are interested in using Swagbucks for a similar purpose but don't know where to start, I have a Facebook group where I share my knowledge and the members share which offers work for them each day.

Other ways we plan on saving money on this trip are: 
-staying offsite (even with parking and a rental car, it is way cheaper for us not to stay in a Disney hotel, not to mention we will have access to a full kitchen to cook many of our own meals, something we prefer)
-buying souvenirs / t-shirts / etc. in advance and bringing with us
-asking family members to give the kids Disney gift cards as birthday or Christmas gifts as the trip grows closer so the kids will have the option to purchase a few souvenirs for themselves while at the parks
-packing at least some meals and snacks for in the parks - something that we'd need to do anyway to accommodate Jon's and possibly Etta's dietary restrictions.

If you'd like to see any specific posts about how we budget, are saving for Disney, etc. please leave a comment and let me know!

Monday, March 26, 2018

great wolf lodge sandusky

A few weeks ago we headed over to Great Wolf Lodge for a quick overnight getaway. We stayed in the Kid Cabin Suite and my parents joined us for a day in the water park on Sunday.

Check-in is at 4 pm, but you can access the water park beginning at 1 pm on the day of your arrival. We discussed it and decided to try to get there right around 4 since Etta normally naps at 1. We would grab fast food on the way in so that we could eat right when we got into the room and then head over to the water park. I'm so glad we went this route because our kids ended up being done at 5:45 (Etta) and about 6:45 (Elden and Edith) anyway.

The water park ended up being pretty perfect for the younger crowd. Edith could touch the bottom of the lazy river (and the water there was so warm!) so she was really excited about that. Elden could touch the bottom of the pool attached to the water basketball courts. There were lots of little features for Etta, although my biggest complaint is that the teeny tiny people pool is right at the entrance so it's super cold over there from people coming and going all day.

It's so funny seeing how different Elden and Edith are. Edith basically ran to the water slides and asked to go on the huge tube slide with us. On Day 1 Elden said "I'm never going to go on that!" about essentially everything except the toddler slides.

When Elden and Edith were done swimming Sunday we headed to the arcade. Edith was content to just meander the arcade and pretend to play the games at her leisure. Elden discovered a claw machine that had nothing but tiny stuffed "unicorn dolphins"* and insisted on spending all his credits on that (he walked away with 3 green ones). We also won Edith 2 pink ones.

By the time we were done in the arcade Etta was asleep. In an effort to keep them from waking her we set them up in front of the TV on our side of the room with snacks. After some TV and a bath they headed to bed.

Etta woke up at 4 am ready to party. I tried to keep her quiet until 5 am but she kept petting Jon's head and yelling "DA!" so he ended up getting up with her and taking to Walmart for an hour and a half so the rest of us could sleep.

The most pleasant surprise of the trip was the fact that a Dunkin Donuts was located in the lobby. I was in line right at 7 am when they opened and there were only a few other moms (all with babies, no less) in line at that time. When I ran up to the lobby for something later (I think it was 9ish) the line to DD was insane. So I guess I'm glad I have early risers?

Jon and Etta didn't do the water park on Monday. I took Elden and Edith from the time they opened at 10 am until 10:45 because checkout was at 11 and I didn't want to deal with the locker rooms with them. On Monday, Elden got the courage to try a tube slide. Well... he got the courage until he was sitting at the top and insisted I join him. I assured him I would be right behind him and I could see him considering it so I did what every loving mother would do and I pushed him down that mother-loving slide. It was a calculated risk but one that totally paid off because he loved every second of it  and wanted to spend the rest of his time going down that particular tube slide.

We grabbed lunch again on the way home. Etta fell asleep in the car immediately after eating. It was the perfect little trip and I'm so glad we went.

If you are considering going, my advice is to bring lots of snacks and not eat at the resort. I hear the food is expensive and not very good and there are a ton of restaurants within a 3-minute radius of the hotel. We packed most of our food because each room is equipped with a mini fridge and microwave.


Friday, March 23, 2018

five on friday

{1} Jon and I went to see an old farmhouse on 14 acres in one of the best school districts around earlier this week. We didn't know much about it and were hoping it wouldn't need a ton to make it inhabitable, but sadly that wasn't the case. It was really cool being able to see old cars in a garage on the property and antique furniture in a barn, though. 

{2} Elden punched his loose tooth out. He had told his preschool teacher that was his plan and when I asked him why that was the method he chose he informed me, "in the Trolls Christmas movie the Bergen gets slapped and he loses his tooth, so I decided punching myself was better." May we all have the tenacity required to punch ourselves in the face when we set our minds to it.

{3} Pip still thinks he's a dog. He loves bath time and he always joins us in the bathroom during that process.

{4} Wednesday was rough. Both girls took turns sounding like feral pigs undergoing exorcisms. Someone was touching me basically at all times from the moment I walked in the door until bed time. I forgot to bring Etta shoes for our Target trip and she loves walking everywhere so she was mad. I was just done. So my friend, Alli, met me half an hour before moms hip hop and we sat in the parking lot and shared a margarita (though Alli has since informed me it was more of a screwdriver). And yes, I put it in a salad dressing mixer because I had nothing else on hand that would do the trick.

{5} After a tantrum that could be heard from space, Edith dressed herself in pajamas and passed out in her little recliner. After her power nap she awoke in an infinitely better mood. We are reinstating nap time for her to see if that helps take the edge off things.

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

the best soup ever {recipe}

I love sauerkraut in a bad way. I do not, however, like kielbasa and that's one of the only ways I've ever seen sauerkraut prepared (aside from in pierogi, on hot dogs or what I call Russian sauerkraut which is literally just dill, bacon and sauerkraut fried up). Before Jon was vegan he would eat the kielbasa and I would eat the sauerkraut. It was a beautiful symbiotic relationship.

Hence one of the main reasons I had Big Feelings when he told me he was going vegan. What was I to do with that kielbasa now!? Sauerkraut by itself in a slow cooker just wouldn't be the same! My life was losing meaning!

So the other night when I was craving sauerkraut I decided to visit my old friend Google. I went with "vegan sauerkraut recipes" because I'm all about making as few meals as possible to feed our family when I stumbled upon this recipe. We had almost everything on hand and the cook time wasn't long so I decided to give it a shot.

Game. Freaking. Changer.
I'm addicted. I didn't have celery so I omitted it. I love sour sauerkraut, so I did not drain or rinse the sauerkraut, I just scooped it out of the jar and added it to the pot. For the beans I used garbanzo.

If you aren't vegan I'm sure it would be delicious to add kielbasa. Jon thinks it would be better with tomato paste and paprika because he's half Polish and that's how his Babcia always made it. I say if it ain't broke don't fix it, but I also have some issues with change that warrant a therapist, so grain of salt.

Friday, March 16, 2018

five on friday

{1} So Edith is frequently asking me to sing her a new lullaby before bed. I'll be honest, I'm tired and by 8 pm totally mentally fried. So when T-Pain's "Buy You a Drank" popped into my mind one night, I modified it slightly and played it off as toddler appropriate. Naturally, it quickly became both Edith and Elden's favorite lullaby, so they now have the words memorized. #unconventionallullaby #momoftheyear

{2} I shared a few thoughts about the #walkout protest yesterday.

{3} Elden is hands down my pickiest eater. Edith is always willing to try new things but has many favorites she falls back on. They love chicken nuggets, but only the frozen kind, never any homemade varieties I attempt. I've been searching for a healthier alternative and when I saw these Kidfresh meatballs in the Target frozen section I decided to give it a shot. The verdict is in: my kids are obsessed. Now the next step is minimizing processed foods all together.

{4} Etta has been particularly clingy and challenging lately. She loves to hit when she isn't getting her way. She thinks all animals are called "Pip." She loves accessories arguably more than Edith.

{image source}
{5} In case anyone is in the market, the Silhouette Portrait 2 Starter Bundle is on sale on Amazon today - $139.99 (normally $200+)!

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

walk out

I realized yesterday that I am a bit of an emotional baker. When I have big feelings that I can't really verbalize, I bake.

So after spending the day at work, hearing my fellow adults--parents of teenagers--disparage their children for participating in the #walkout protest yesterday... I was feeling some things.

So I baked this vegan chocolate cake (in cupcake form) and frosted them with this vegan chocolate frosting (substituting coconut oil for vegan butter which really sealed the deal).

After indulging in some cake batter, some words started to form and I tweeted this:
Maybe I'm naive since I don't currently have teenagers. But I'm perplexed by the amount / type of criticism I heard yesterday. 

We disparage teenagers for being a lazy or not caring about anything but themselves.

Then they take action and find something noble they do care about and we write them off and tell them they're too young and dumb to know better.

You don't think your child knows why they are walking out? Talk to them. Explain it to them. Have candid conversations. And give them some freaking credit. 

I'm not feeling particularly eloquent, especially since I don't have teenagers. Amy does, though, and she wrote this post that I think everyone should read.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

easter mini's {2018}

A few weeks ago we were given the opportunity to do an Easter mini session with Liz. She has done photos for us two other times (Elden's newborn session and an Easter mini before Etta was born) so we knew we were going to walk away with some really great pictures.

I was definitely worried about honey badger Etta, though. She is a very skeptical person. She does not smile around new people and she also doesn't stay in one place for long.

Well, I had no need to worry because within ten minutes of our arrival Liz was able to capture these:

i mean seriously, shut your face. this is amazing.

If you are in Northeast Ohio, I cannot recommend Liz enough. She takes beautiful pictures and the kids clearly are at ease around her. 

Monday, March 12, 2018


Not too long ago I mentioned feeling like I would hit a wall eventually because I have been running myself ragged between work, trying to be an okayish mom, exercising, etc.

I met that wall this weekend.

I have zero motivation to eat healthy or work out. I am so tired. This winter feels like it's never going to end.

Jon and I have been talking a lot about our housing situation. He is convinced we should downsize our mortgage because he thinks a pretty big recession is going to occur in the next 5-10 years. I don't necessarily think he's wrong, but I also know I have no desire to uproot everything again. For now, we are working through the bigger projects at our planned pace (should finish the bathrooms by early May) and then we will reevaluate. If you know anyone who has an old farmhouse in the Cleveland, OH, / Akron, OH, areas and may be interested in selling it to us... please email me. :)

We kept Elden home from school all week because he had a fever Sunday and a lingering cough. He and Edith were inseparable all week and I think that took its toll:

Our weekend was otherwise low-key. We mostly stayed in. Both Jon's and my parents came by to visit. I am so ready for spring.

Friday, March 9, 2018

five on friday

{1} First things first! The winner of the Baker Creek Heirloom seed collection is Emily Lynn! Emily, I emailed you so please get back to me with your address and I can work with Baker Creek to get those shipped.

{2} We had some Easter minis with Liz and OMG. More photos forthcoming.

{3} Jon made homemade falafel last night and he totally outdid himself. I'm dreaming of it this morning.

{4} Edith started doing quiet time with Elden instead of naps. We may need to go back to nap time because neither kid can hang.

{5} One more from the Easter minis. This is Elden with his beloved Ted. The same Ted he's had since the day he was born. He loves his stuffed animals (he calls them his friends) and there is something so so sweet and perfect about this totally candid moment Liz captured. I can't stop staring at it.

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

just popping in

Onset of sudden illnesses at our house have made for a crazy few days. This is just a friendly reminder to enter the Baker Creek giveaway because it closes at midnight EST tonight!

In the meantime, here is a short video of Etta rocking out to Jack Johnson. She does this every time we listen to this CD in the car, and given the fact that it's all three kids' favorite, we listen to it often.

Monday, March 5, 2018


Overall, the weekend was nice and low-key. Unfortunately, all three kids have runny noses and as of yesterday Elden had a fever so we are praying this isn't flu 2.0.

On Friday it had snowed overnight and while I am definitely at the point of despair in terms of winter weather, even I have to admit it was pretty.
 After dinner, I needed to shovel the drive (Jon wasn't feeling well). I had promised the kids they could play in the snow while I did that. Etta did not want to be left behind so she had her first snow experience and she loved every second. Once I was done shoveling I made a little hill in the front so the big kids could sled down it. I'm pretty sure I won mom of the year award for that one.
Once the kids were in bed I went to dinner at Aladdin's with a few girlfriends. I got the falafel wrapped and it hit all the spots.

Saturday we managed to snag an Easter mini session with Liz. I had my doubts since Etta is a honey badger but based on this sneak peek I'm pretty sure I will be giving her all my money.
The rest of Saturday was spent doing mostly nothing. Jon's parent's came by for a bit to visit with the kids. I also prepped a meal for some friends who had a new baby and that included these refrigerator pickles. For both of us.
Jon ran sound at church Sunday and given the amount of boogers draining from our children's noses I decided to stay home with them. It was a rough morning. A certain little lady wouldn't leave me alone.
My parents came over in the afternoon to see the kids. I don't think they realize how lucky they are to have four grandparents who love them senseless. All throughout the weekend we worked on putting Edith's new dresser together. We had been using an IKEA wardrobe as her dresser but after being moved three times it was totally falling apart and a major safety hazard. I am amazed at how much bigger the room feels without the giant wardrobe in it!
Finally, don't forget to enter the drawing for the heirloom seeds from Baker Creek worth $48!

Linking up with BLovedBoston and The Sirois Family

Friday, March 2, 2018

five on friday

{1} Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Giveaway! Have you entered yet? If not, click over to this post and enter to win with the Rafflecopter widget.

{2} Current mood. Yes, we did get about 4" of snow last night. #overit

{3} Edith has been begging for a short haircut for a little over a month. I was resistant partially because I was worried she'd regret it (no ponytails = all the gnashing of teeth = mommy goes insane) but also because I had been trying to grow her hair out so I could braid it and whatnot. I finally caved (something about teaching her autonomy) and she is so happy. That eases the pain a bit.

{4} In an effort to forget about the snow, I made a Mediterranean couscous bowl last night. I have officially decided I do not like parsley in the least, but  this bowl was delicious in spite of that potentially fatal flaw.

{5} MOMS HIP HOP IS MY FAVORITE. This week one of my besties, Alli, and her mom came along. You guys. I have not laughed that hard in ages. I legit peed my pants a little (don't hate, I've given birth 3 times). I am still terrible. It is still ok that I am still terrible.

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!