Wednesday, June 27, 2018

our mixed diet aldi meal plan #1

I recently stumbled upon Mashup Mom. For those unfamiliar, she takes the weekly Aldi specials ad and makes free meal plans from them! I totally love this concept, but since Jon is vegan, Etta is dairy-free, the older two are picky, and the kids and I eat meat (at least occasionally), I decided to start my own little documentation of our weekly meal plans in case anyone has mixed diet families like ours.

Dinner: Pasta and Meatballs
Groceries: whole wheat spaghetti, 73% fresh lean ground beef, marinara sauce (Aldi's jarred marinara sauce is vegan), baguette for homemade garlic bread (can use vegan butter for Jon/Etta)

Dinner: Vegan Sauerkraut Soup (kielbasa for the kids)
Groceries: sauerkraut, kielbasa, celery, onion, carrots, potatoes, 2 boxes vegetable broth, quinoa, can of navy beans
*note: there are several items in all these recipes we almost always have on hand--such as onions, carrots, spices, etc., so I do not necessarily list all required ingredients here

Dinner: Homemade Pizza
Groceries: spinach, artichoke hearts, pepperoni, shredded Italian cheese blend (Jon makes homemade dough and we'll use leftover spaghetti sauce from Wednesday)

Lunch: Homemade Falafel Wraps
Dinner: Bean and Chicken Tacos for our friends' going-away party
Groceries: dry chickpeas, lettuce, hummus, parsley, cilantro, whole wheat pita*
*we buy this and any fresh herbs Aldi doesn't have at our local Middle Eastern grocery store - it is the best pita we've ever had and SO much cheaper than chain grocery stores

Lunch: Vegan Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup
Dinner: Going to my parents' house to celebrate my grandma's birthday
Groceries: sweet potatoes, roma tomatoes, celery, dry black beans, 1 box vegetable broth

Dinner: Greek Quinoa Bowls
Groceries: bell pepper, avocado, 1 can black beans, seedless cucumber

Dinner: Fourth of July Cookout
Groceries: watermelon, corn on the cob, frozen vegan burgers, homemade burgers made from extra ground beef that was frozen on Wednesday, hamburger buns

Friday, June 22, 2018

family vacation 2018

Between trying to get my mental health back on track and heading out of town for a few days with my family, time has quickly gotten away from me.

While I was at work last week, Jon took the kids for a hike in one of the local Metroparks.

On Saturday, we headed out of town. My parents graciously paid for the house we stayed in and it was perfect. There was a pool and screened porch. The kids swam in the pool every single day we were there even though it was only in the low 70s some days. My mom also made the kids these cute little dolls in fabric campers for the drive out.
After getting to the house, we spent Saturday unpacking and swimming. That night, Etta threw up from midnight to about 4 am. Even though we laid down towels she managed to get vomit on all our bedding, which means we were also doing laundry from midnight to 4 am. We realized she had dairy that evening and has not outgrown her FPIES. I felt awful but I was also relieved it wasn't contagious!

Sunday morning my sister flew in. I did a grand total of nothing for Jon for Father's Day. Frankly, I still feel awful about it. I didn't even get him a card! Or have the kids draw him something! When I'm in a better place mentally I plan on having a redo Father's Day and spoiling the crap out of him. Sunday was also spent swimming.
Sleep was super rough on Etta for this trip. We had her pack n play in the kids room but she was not having it. One night I had to lay with her on one of the kids' beds to get her to fall asleep.
On Monday we headed to Idlewild. If you are unfamiliar, Idlewild is a great young-kid amusement park in western Pennsylvania. There is Storybook Forest, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and a water park included in the park ticket. The day we went was HOT so we spent 98% of the day at the water park. The kids had a blast!
 Trying to get the sword out of the stone (her face cracks me up):
Around 3:30 pm we left and jumped in the pool as soon as we got home. After dinner we headed and got ice cream. The closest establishment with ice cream was Sheetz so that's where we went.
 That night, Jon and I took the big kids to camp!
I'm not going to lie, I was giddy the whole time (which ended up being 20 minutes because sleepy children). To be able to share something I love so much with people I love so much - I genuinely hope my kids end up as campers one day!

On Tuesday, my sister and I went white water rafting with our dad. The rest of the trip was very low key and lazy. We got back yesterday afternoon and have been easing back into real life since.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

mental health matters

When my postpartum depression was at its peak last year, I wanted nothing more than to die. Between weekly therapy visits and a prescription for Zoloft, I gradually returned to myself and found joy again. Things were so great that my therapy visits eventually dropped down to biweekly, then monthly, then none at all. Simple tasks like figuring out what to feed the kids for dinner no longer sent me to my bed, completely defeated and shut down. I felt great and continued taking the Zoloft because my therapist was pretty sure the PPD was a result of untreated preexisting anxiety (and if you know me at all this is not a shock to you).

I'm not sure what changed, but I had noticed my anxiety levels had quietly and quickly ramped up in the past few months. While I wasn't shutting down like I did during the PPD episode, I could feel myself teetering on a similar ledge, a feeling of certain doom constantly weighing me down and leaving me in tears over relatively small issues.

Recognizing that I was walking a very dangerous road and desperate to avoid the despair I felt just over a year ago, I quickly texted my therapist and asked for an appointment. She happened to have a cancellation for that afternoon and I found myself back in her office.

I used to think therapy was dumb. I am not a shy person and I can talk about my problems with anyone without shame. Why pay someone to talk to them? What good will that do me? I had seen a few therapists before as an adult and never got much out of the sessions.

I am reformed and now I think a good therapist is worth his or her weight in gold.

I felt a lot better after the first session and scheduled a second one for two weeks later. That session was a few days ago. The timing couldn't have been better because I had progressed from teetering on the ledge to one foot over. I spent the three days prior to my appointment in tears whenever my mind was unoccupied. I walked into her office crying. Everything felt so big and so overwhelming. I knew the response I was having to my circumstances (to shut down entirely) was not a rational one but I couldn't figure out how to work through my constantly racing thoughts or why I was in this place to begin with. I left her office laughing. That joy doesn't last forever--I actually cried myself to sleep that night--but it's an island in the storm.

If you've never experienced intense anxiety or depressing you can't understand how exhausting it is. Always on edge, waiting for the inevitable whatever it is to get you. Constantly thinking of the worst, hating yourself for not contributing properly to your family because the thought of getting out of bed is enough to make it impossible to get out of bed, your thoughts moving a million miles per hour. It's amazing that staying in bed an entire day can leave you totally wiped out, but it's true. None of this accounts for the physical symptoms--the heaviness on your chest, the tension in your muscles. It's awful.

All this to say: mental health matters. There is nothing wrong with seeing a therapist. You can't get better if you don't get help. A therapist you connect with is key--you may not find the right fit for you right away, and that's okay. If you are thinking about seeing someone, see if you can talk with them on the phone a bit first to get a feel for whether or not you connect with that person. And if you see a therapist but it doesn't feel right, don't hesitate to try a different therapist. Please know you aren't alone. If you want to reach out to me privately, feel free to email me at youngnotpowerless at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

cedar point

On Monday, my dad and I took the big kids to Cedar Point for the day and it ended up being a blast! We stayed from 10-5:15 and the kids could have stayed longer if we let them.
 Waiting for CP's version of 'rope drop.'
 This girl is my fearless wild child. She specifically asked me if she could ride the coaster by herself:
Cedar Point has a petting zoo. There were baby goats and sheep that the kids were obsessed with. They also fed the animals and pet cows, ponies, bunnies, alpaca, sheep, goats, turkeys, and pigs. We spent probably 45 minutes just in the petting zoo area.
 The kids conned my dad into buying them stuffed parrots.
This was the portion of the day where I was ready to vomit from all the spinning rides. Thank God for my dad for stepping in while I sat in the kids' double stroller like the queen I am.
 We ended the day on the carousel.
We dropped my dad off then headed home for baths and bed. This little lady lasted a lot longer than I thought she would on the ride home.
It was a great day and hopefully next year Etta will be big enough to join us!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

dance recital and the weekend

Elden and Edith had their dance recital Friday night and they did amazing! They loved every second of it and asked to sign up for dance again in the fall.
Saturday morning we ran a few errands. In the evening we met up with some of our best friends and their kids at our favorite local lake. It's never crowded, there are lifeguards, and the kids can walk across the swimming area because it's shallow enough!
holding hands

Paul helped the kids find crayfish. If you know Elden at all you know he loved every second of this!
On Sunday we went to church and my parent's house for dinner. It was a really great weekend and even though it rained on and off we were able to find a lot of time to go outside and play!

Friday, June 8, 2018

five on friday

{1} My little graduate! The entire drive to his ceremony, Elden kept telling me "I'm freakin' out right now!" since he was nervous about being on stage in front of a large group of people (gets it from his mama). He did absolutely amazing, though! This is his bestie, Ava. He keeps telling me how much he will miss her next year (they will be at different elementary schools).

{2} This one has an opinion about her outfits already. She is constantly trying to pick out new clothes or shoes to wear. This was her outfit of choice earlier this week.

{3} Last night was dress rehearsal. First of all, I don't know how dance moms do this regularly. We were there from 5-8:15 and we have to do it all over again today. Thankfully, my friend Jenn offered to come over and watch Etta while we're gone, but I am NOT looking forward to spending so much time away! The saving grace was getting all these backstage pics from a fellow dance mom chaperone. Thanks, Kristi!

{4} This peanut fell on the driveway and broke her fall with her face. I'm just glad she didn't walk away with worse injuries than this!

{5} We finally picked a paint color. I asked Jon to start working towards being able to remove the carpeting. We are waiting to really kick off this project until after our vacation because we're going to have to do some drywall work in the process. But it's exciting to see some stuff happening!

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

elden's last day of preschool ever

Oh, hold me. And to add insult to injury, he insisted that he could cut his own Mickey Mouse pancake this morning AND HE DID. 
...and for posterity's sake:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

the bronze anniversary

Eight years ago today, Jon and I vowed we would spend the rest of our lives together.
Eight years, two houses, three kids, countless fights, one severe postpartum depression episode, a conversion to veganism... and we are still here, still fighting for each other.

Marriage is so hard. We need to make an effort to listen to one another, to take an interest in our spouse's interests. We are totally different people now than we were 8 years ago, and I always tell Jon I think we are more incompatible now than when we got married (not in a bad way, just an observation). All this to say that marriage has challenged us. But with big challenges come big rewards, and even though I joke that I should have put "unless you become vegan" in my wedding vows, we have grown so much these past 8 years. Jon is still the first person I want to tell everything to. Every day I am grateful that he's the partner I ended up with. I couldn't do life without him.

We aren't doing much to celebrate today, partially because we are celebrating when we go see Hamilton in a few months (that was our gift to each other, so we deviated from the traditional wedding gifts list we try to follow, but Hamilton).

Jon - I love you so much. I am so grateful you choose me every single day even though I make your life so difficult. I know I do things that make you crazy. I know there are days you wish you had a more emotionally stable partner. Thank you. Thank you for loving me through it. Happy anniversary!

Monday, June 4, 2018


We had a really nice weekend! It finally cooled down a bit yesterday and it was really productive. 

On Friday while I was at work, Habitat for Humanity came and picked up all the remaining items from our garage sale. This means I finally had somewhat of a garage again!
Saturday morning was the last dance class for Elden and Edith before their recital and summer break. I got their sibling picture back - Jon asked me if this was the best they could do and given the fact that Elden smirked for a fraction of a second but otherwise had his back to the camera the day of the photos I say yes. Yes it is.
My sister flew home for the weekend to get her house ready to sell. I took Elden and Edith over there during quiet time so they could see her. When we were leaving they both exclaimed how much they were starving so I got them McDonalds. With full bellies, they both fell asleep at some point during the 35-minute ride home.
Since my sister is selling her house to move out of state to a still-determined location, she decided to get rid of most of her furniture. She already gave us her dining set and a trundle bed set, and if that wasn't generous enough she also gave us her bedroom set. I brought some home Saturday then Jon and his dad went for the rest in the evening. While they were gone I frantically disassembled our set and moved it to the garage so that when they got back they could bring it right upstairs for me to setup.
Saturday night I went on a shopping spree at Gymboree for next season for the kids. I scored a ton of clearance items and got an additional 30% off, plus I got to shop with two of the moms from the kids' dance class. For about $100 I walked away with 30 items, most of which were pants--so I was really excited. Elden and Edith are mostly set now through next winter and Etta was always set since she gets Edith's hand-me-downs.

Sunday morning I taught in the big kids' Sunday School class. Etta has had a runny nose lately so Jon stayed home with her. When we got home from church I had a meltdown because we had no food in the house to make a meal that sounded appealing. After much irrationality I ran to the corner store for potatoes and made loaded potato bowls with mashed potatoes, black beans, corn, barbecue sauce and cheese. It was SO GOOD.
After nap/quiet time we headed to Jon's parent's for a bit. Edith fell asleep on the way there...can you tell she wasn't ready to switch nap time with quiet time?
 Etta got into the Skittles and held them in her hand for--no exaggeration--half an hour. Here is her Skittle hand:
 Edith had an ice cream sandwich after dinner and looked a lot like a hobo.
 When we got home, the kids were dying to try out their new splash pad (we got the 60" slippery slime mat). The old one died last weekend after three years of heavy use. We were super impressed with the size and quality of the new one!
It was a great way to end the weekend!

Linking up with Biana.