Friday, July 13, 2018

five on friday

 {1} We participated in our annual Dress Like a Cow tradition this week. I think I've blogged previous years but I honestly don't care to look for those right now. The kids had a blast and who doesn't love free dinner?

{2} This salad has been my jam lately. Rosemary sweet potatoes, red onion, bell pepper, radishes, sunflower seeds, avocado, and kale drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

 {3} Etta is really coming into her own. She loves seeing herself on the phone and is really starting to show interest in talking and repeating what we say. She's also been dramatically more affectionate and interested in us the past week or two.

 {4} I'm done painting the walls downstairs but I still need to paint the trim, front door, and chair rail in the dining room. I'm glad the bulk of it is done!

{5} The reason I'm in such a bummed mood is because yesterday afternoon we had to put our first baby to sleep. Marsala had been peeing all over the house the last several months and several expensive vet bills gave no indication why. Then she stopped eating almost entirely, lost a ton of weight, and started having bloody bowel movements. After a ton of back and forth and lots of phone calls with our vet we decided it was time to say goodbye. We estimated her to be about 14 or 15 so she certainly lived a full life but... it freaking sucks. I thought I was prepared for it but the reality hit super hard. All five of us were present during the process. The kids didn't really understand but once it was over Elden finally got it and the little guy is crushed. We will miss her so much and Jon and I both decided that we will not be getting any additional pets in the future because this was just way too hard.

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

newborn shadow boxes

In spite of my efforts, I am not crafty. I always get visions for grandiose things but am disappointed in the execution 100% of the time.

Fortunately for me, my mom is the crafting queen. There is not a single craft project she can't tackle and make look downright amazing.

A few years (yes, years) ago I mentioned I wanted to make shadow boxes with the kids' hospital take-home outfits. I think I saw the idea on Pinterest and knew myself well enough to know nothing I did would look remotely cute. I asked my mom if she could do it and she happily agreed. I slowly trickled outfits and hospital mementos down to her and she got tired of waiting on me to pass along Etta's stuff so she did the other two. I got those about a week and a half ago and almost cried. She delivered above and beyond what I ever could have dreamed of. After seeing the first two I went home and gathered all of Etta's newborn items. When my parents were here on Sunday she finished Etta's box.

You guys. I seriously can't. Everything is so little. Elden darn near lost his mind when he saw his--going on and on about how cute the tiny clothes were. He even demanded I take them out so he could put them on his doll, Coco. When I vetoed that idea, he and Edith insisted I at least retrieve some newborn clothes for their babies so I got them each a little outfit out of storage that they've played with since. Jon and I decided to hang these in our dining room once we're done with that project. I can't wait to see them on the wall!

Monday, July 9, 2018


While not technically part of the weekend, on Thursday night I got a much overdue haircut and eyebrow shaping. Since my hair is naturally light, I have a tendency to not take care of my eyebrows (*ahem* or legs *ahem*) because it doesn't look that terrible...until I get them properly taken care of and it's like night and day and holy cow was I hairy. Anyway, I've been dealing with particularly awful self esteem issues as of late and this haircut made me feel a bit less ugly...
...until I checked the mail on Friday and read the summary of my annual physical that informed me I fell into the overweight category. Don't get me wrong--I knew I had gained weight. I've been so discouraged and frustrated because from November through about February I was exercising 5 times a week and generally watching what I ate and not only did I not lose weight, I managed to gain it. I don't know if it's a side effect of the IUD or I'm just getting older or what, but that was stupidly discouraging. In any case, I had this constant voice in the back of my head telling me all sorts of horrible things and something about seeing it confirmed on paper sent me into a really bad tailspin. This is not what I want for my life--not even the weight per se, just the constant internal yelling about how insufficient and worthless I am. I have no idea how to rewire my thinking. I have to fight the urge to outright starve myself which is alarming on several levels. I didn't mean for this to take such a wildly depressing turn, but it's a glimpse into my head right now. I have made it a goal to lose 15 pounds, which was actually my goal when I first started exercising in the fall. For now I have no real plan on how I intend to do so, but I'm trying to take this a day at a time.

Onward. On Friday night I had moms hip hop since we didn't have it on the 4th of July. Since I had such an emotional afternoon, I convinced Alli to go with me to stuff our faces at a local pub after dance. And stuff our faces we did - I had a Groupon for the restaurant and when we arrived we discovered it was stupidly cheap. We ended up getting 2 slices of chocolate cake, potato skins, onion rings, soft drinks and a pierogi dinner. The food was great and the company was better. I'm so grateful to have a friend who speaks the truth to me when I need it and who commiserates with me and eats a billion calories when I need it. And who hip hops with me. Everyone needs an Alli in their life.

Saturday was play date central. Elden's BFF, Ava, came over in the morning. He had been talking about it for two weeks and has asked me every day since when he can see her again. During nap time I surveyed the yard. This is our most thriving plant--a small pumpkin patch from when I kicked Edith's rotting painted pumpkin off the porch and forgot about it last fall. This spot barely gets rain or sun and I'm actually pretty salty that the plants we nurtured from seed are doing nothing for us but this accidental pumpkin looks fantastic.
Saturday evening we went to our friend's house for a play date with one of Edith's besties. I didn't get any photos of it but the kids had a blast!

On Sunday morning Jon had to run sound at church. I found out over the weekend that my grandma had broken her hip and was in the hospital, so while Jon was at church I took Etta to his parent's house and the big kids and I went to visit her. The kids made her cards and I know seeing them really lifted her spirits. Elden snapped this photo of Edith on my phone while we were there:
After the hospital we headed back to Jon's parent's for lunch and to spend some time with them. That afternoon my parents came by for a few hours to see the kids and Jon got a bike ride in with his dad. 
Elden ended up coming down with a fever and saying that his body hurt everywhere so I'm thinking he might have the flu. We're hoping with a few days of rest he will be back to his sassy self soon. Angela and Kaycee are coming this weekend for our second annual girl hang, so I just need to make it through the work week!

Friday, July 6, 2018

christmas 2018 hot toy predictions

I know it's only July, but with Toys R Us going out of business and the insanity surrounding Fingerlings last year, I can only imagine how hard it will be to find hot toys this year! These are my predictions:

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{1} Pomsies. It's basically a fuzzy Tamagotchi. I also don't think it's a coincidence they are priced at $14.99, which is what Fingerlings went for last year.

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{2} Untamed Raptor Fingerling. Not one to be outdone, WowWee has upped their Fingerling game with this Raptor. Given the release of the new Jurrasic World movie, I totally see this selling out.

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{3} Shopkins Lil Secrets Playsets. This more for those of us who were 90s kids as they are freakishly similar to throwback Polly Pockets. Heck, I want one!

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{4} Rocktopus. This is more for the younger crowds, but it integrates sounds, light, and sticking things in other things that all young toddlers know and love.
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{5} Grumblies. Honestly, I'm not entirely clear on *what* these guys do. I do know that Elden is a) a sucker for anything with a face and b) a sucker for weird/gross things (like the Grossery Gang)

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{6} Don't Step in It. We love buying games for the kids because it encourages activity and family togetherness. This year's hottest game is Don't Step in It. This game has everything: blindfolds, a grass mat, dog poop compound. And what kid doesn't love potty humor?

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{7} furReal Munchin' Rex. This little robotic guy is the perfect gift for boys or girls (although you should I know I have strong opinions about 'gendered' toys, but I digress) and is more affordable than some of the furReal predecessors.

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{8} Polly Pockets. The pocket-sized version is being re-released this fall and those of us who are nostalgic 90s kids are more than likely to clear the shelves for ourselves our kids. They are due to be released this fall.

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{9} Scruff-A-Luvs. Talk about your Cinderella story--these guys come balled up and matted and you have to give them a bath and groom them to bring out their adorable selves. This checks off the  cuddly toy and savior complex requirements for the 8 and under crowd.

What do you think are going to be the big toys of 2018!?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

4th of july {2018}

We had an incredibly hot Fourth of July this year. Humidity percentages were in the 80s and the temperature got up to around 96F. First thing in the morning we went outside to set off some smoke bombs and play with poppers.
Around 10 am, we continued our annual tradition of heading to a local small town parade. Knowing we would be there for a while, we packed a picnic lunch of sandwiches and apple slices.
This particular route has very little shade so we knew to bring a big umbrella with us while we waited! We also setup shop in front of a bank so that we could head over to the drive-thru ATM area for shade.
rosy cheeks galore

 Fun fact: Etta looks like she's smiling in the photos where she's holding Edith's hand but she's really squawking angrily at her, trying to get her to run away. You can see the irritation in Etta's face more in the second photo.

happily eating an apple slice
This parade is awesome. The kids get hoards of candy and it's always the good stuff--I'm not talking about non-stop Tootsie Rolls (hork), but Skittles, Blow Pops, Dots, etc.
Once we got home from the parade we did some sparklers then nap and quiet time. For dinner we grilled out at home and Jon's parents stopped by afterwards for a little bit. It was perfectly low key and Elden said it was the best 4th of July he's ever had, so I'm going to take that as a cue to make every 4th this low key!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

our mixed diet aldi meal plan

Happy 4th of July!

Some of these are repeats from last week because we had leftovers and haven't made them yet.

Lunch: Sandwiches (for picnic consumption at the parade)
Dinner: Fourth of July Cookout
Groceries: salami, bread, avocado (the cookout groceries were purchased last week)

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

Dinner: Homemade Pizza
Groceries: spinach, artichoke hearts, pepperoni, shredded Italian cheese blend, yeast (Jon makes homemade dough), pasta sauce

Lunch: Vegan Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup
Dinner: Going to a friend's house
Groceries: none (bought them last week)

Lunch: Kielbasa and Sauerkraut
Dinner: Leftovers
Groceries: 1 jar sauerkraut

Dinner: One Pot Pasta Primavera (we use nutritional yeast or vegan cheese if we have it and non-dairy milk to make it vegan)
Groceries: whole wheat linguine, vegetable broth, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, frozen peas

Dinner: Kung Pao Tempura Cauliflower with Brown Rice and Peanuts
Groceries: brown rice, peanuts, scallions (I already have the cauliflower from Trader Joe's)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

weekend recap

On Friday evening we had pizza then headed to a friend's house for a little bit to hang out and play.

Saturday morning, Jon's parents came by for a few hours to visit the kids. They brought them some suckers that had lips for the stick. The kids had them after lunch and thought it was hilarious that they had pretend lips.
 Jon made homemade falafel and it was incredible.
In the afternoon we headed to church to celebrate friends of ours that are moving to Oregon next month.
 We were able to set a sprinkler up outside for the kids to play in.
It was a great evening and while we are super sad to be losing our friends to the other side of the country we are so excited for them to be closer to their families.

On Sunday morning, Edith chose her church outfit:
 Elden did, too. Yes, that's a rash guard.
 After lunch, the kids chose fruit roll-ups with tongue tattoos for their treat.
After nap/quiet time we braved the heat and headed to my parents' house to celebrate my grandma's 87th birthday.
Since it was super hot out we set up a kiddie pool. Etta's happiest place is definitely in the water.
It was a really nice weekend and we are so glad we got to spend a lot of time with family and friends.

Monday, July 2, 2018

saving for disney update

I continue to slowly tick away at my Disney vacation savings goal. I estimated it will be around $4000 for everything (3 days of park tickets for 5 people, parking at Disney, one week car/house rentals, spending money--airfare will be covered by our Chase Southwest credit card). For those of you unfamiliar, I have made it my mission to pay for this vacation (which isn't for another 2 years!) by using various apps and money-making websites and not having to worry about it coming from our already tight monthly budget. As of this week, here is where I am at:
So far I have saved $1450 towards our trip. I would honestly be right around $2000 if I hadn't been taking a lot of my Swagbucks earnings lately and putting them towards unexpected expenses that popped up (a large vet bill and car repair come to mind). So how does this break down?

+$940 from Swagbucks
+$92 from Ibotta
+$100 from Pinecone
+$25 from Shopkick
+$10 from Achievement
+$100 from garage sale profits
+$10 from Receipt Hog
+$125 were gifts
+$36 from Dosh
+$11 from miscellaneous change

In addition to saving for Disney, Jon and I were determined to find an easy way to budget for birthday/Christmas gifts since all of our birthdays fall within 4 months of December. We've been doing this 3 ways:

+every time we get a promotional Target gift card (think buy 2 get a $10 Target gift card type promos) we set the gift card aside to use for birthdays/Christmas
+I use the Fetch Rewards app. (To get 2000 bonus points on your first receipt scan, use referral code FB2WH when prompted) It's super simple (and free) - you just upload photos of all the receipts you accrue and you get points that can be cashed out to gift cards--Target, Amazon, etc. 
+We use Bing to search. You can sign up for a free email account and if you use Bing to search / do their daily extras each day, you can earn about $5 in gift cards every 11 days.
By using these 3 methods, we have over $200 saved up for birthdays and the holidays this year.

I know this seems like it would be totally overwhelming, but all the apps I use regularly take me about 5 minutes a day to use. My method is like this -
1. If getting groceries, check Ibotta and add any rebates I'd like to my list.
2. When I arrive at the store, make sure Shopkick is open to get walk-in kicks where applicable. If I have time, scan a few items to get additional kicks.
3. Either while Jon is driving us home or right when I get home, snap a photo on Receipt Hog. Then snap photos for Ibotta (when applicable) and Fetch Rewards.

Achievement is a passive earner - it just syncs with my Fitbit app every day, so I do nothing with it. Pinecone will email me when surveys are available and those take 5-10 minutes to do and pay out around $3/survey. Dosh just rewards you when you use your linked credit card at eligible merchants. Once you build the habit it isn't a big deal to use these at all and it has totally added up for me.

monday catch up

When isn't life super busy? Today I headed into work at 5:45 am because Etta has an audiologist appointment to rule out hearing trouble as a cause of her delayed speech. Between house projects, work, doctor's visits, etc. I am wiped!
^My friend, Amy, sent this picture in a group chat and I have never ever ever seen anything more fitting in my life than that one image.

Elden did safety town last week and had the best time of his life. He's still sad it's over so next summer I will be trying to enroll him (and Edith) in all the day camps.

While big bro was at safety town, these little ladies explored the local park system with Dad. 

 We finally started to paint downstairs! My college roomies are coming to visit in a few weeks and my goal is to have all the painting done by the time they arrive! The color we ended up choosing (after about 3 million swatches and a lot of flip flopping) is ancient marble by Sherwin Williams.

 During safety town graduation, baby honey badger was not being very cooperative so I had to bust out the Messenger filters.
 Edith can't stop talking about her turn for safety town (in 2 years).
For the first time in over a year and a half, this little lady curled up next to me and took a nap. Oh my goodness, it was bliss. The only thing better than taking a nap is taking a nap with your babes.