Thanksgiving 2016

I want Thanksgiving to be a more meaningful holiday to my kids than it was to me growing up.  I was never excited about the day.  We ate turkey (not a favorite of mine) and the fixings, and then the adults watched football while the cousins would find ways to entertain ourselves.  It was nice to get together with family, but I took it for granted because we all got together for every holiday.  Now we’re all grown up and spread apart, and so for my kids, I want to create special traditions and make the day about more than a table full of food.  And since having kids, the holiday has become more meaningful and special to me.  This year was probably the best yet, and I’m hoping they only get better.

I tried to do activities with Ellis that reinforced the idea of being thankful and what this holiday is about, but she knew what I was doing and quickly shut me down.  Anytime I get “teacher-y,” she changes the plans.  So instead of reading Thanksgiving books, she chose others, or wanted to read them to me.  And she wanted to play the teacher and for me to be the student.  So maybe next year will be the year we can have those conversations about what she’s thankful for.  I mean, the girl doesn’t even get the idea of Santa yet – writing a letter and asking for gifts.  I asked her what she wanted for Christmas and she said “a swing for my butt.”  She likes to talk about her butt and poop a lot these days.

Anyway, this year we had a great Thanksgiving weekend, and I can already see traditions forming.

Thanksgiving Day

2016-11-24-07-44-18 2016-11-24-08-02-44 2016-11-24-12-13-52I decided not to stress or kill myself trying to get everything ready in time for lunch, so I made our dinner time for 5 pm.  That meant an entire day of drinking and cooking, and I don’t really remember eating much of dinner.  I think we’ll go back to eating around 1, but there was no way I was going to make that happen this year.  I did buy a Honeybaked turkey, but I spent the day making green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, cauliflower au gratin, macaroni and cheese, and bacon wrapped asparagus for a lunch time appetizer.  Dad and Cindy came over around 10 or 11, and we had a good time watching them interact with their grand kids.  I didn’t remember to pick up anything for dessert, but luckily our neighbors invited us next door that evening, so we got to sample their pies.

Black Friday

2016-11-25-13-33-03 2016-11-25-13-53-49-hdr 2016-11-25-17-00-37 2016-11-25-17-03-32 2016-11-25-17-06-26I spent the morning cleaning and taking down fall decor.  Trav had a funeral to attend, but before he left he went out and purchased a new Christmas tree.  Dad and Cindy came over for leftovers, and we worked on putting up the Christmas tree and decorations.  We went to V’s Pizza for dinner and enjoyed some live music and good company.

Saturday

Trav took Ellis to the gym while I tried to finish up the Christmas decor and clean the house, again.  Later, we met up with Dad and Cindy in St. Augustine to see the lights.

img_6833 img_6853 img_6857img_7893

Sunday

After church, we took the kids to Village Bread Cafe for pancakes, then went out to tour Dad and Cindy’s airstream before coming back to our house to finish watching the Jags’ game.  Our church was having their annual advent festival.  We missed the service due to Asher’s late nap.  We also missed the chili, but we got some mac n cheese, enjoyed the dying bonfire, and Ellis got to take a few spins on the horse and buggy ride.

img_7869img_7874img_7889 img_7880

It was a fun weekend, and I was definitely not prepared to get back to reality on Monday morning.  Ellis barely made it school on time, and I was rushing to get Asher to his 9 month well-check.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The One and Only Pregnancy Update

Well, today marks exactly one month until my due date, so I guess I should write something about my pregnancy.  I realize my first time around I wrote an update every couple of weeks and included belly bump pics, but this pregnancy has been different for me in just about every way possible.  This pregnancy has been no fun from the very beginning; it’s just been rough – not in a medical, “you’re on bed rest til the baby comes” way (man, I wish) because all of my “ailments” are typical pregnancy symptoms according to my 7ish? doctors.  So, I’ll just list out all the ways this pregnancy has been a big ball of suck compared to my first. (Sorry, Baby #2).

1. I blew up like a whale from the very beginning, and my bladder completely failed me from the start.

I was so hungry my first trimester.  I could not eat enough or sleep enough.  I ate everything in sight, and at night, I ate even more.  So I gained a lot of weight very quickly, and it didn’t take long before I had outgrown my clothes and was already pulling out my maternity bins.  My leaky bladder also got worse and made it basically impossible to teach my Sh’bam classes anymore, so I had to give those up which did not help with the weight gain.  My first few Ob appointments I was given warnings about too much weight gain, and I wanted to punch the Ob in the face and cry at the same time.  I tried switching to yoga/pilates/flow types of classes to maintain my physical health as I could no longer do any of my high-cardio classes, but there are no prenatal classes in my area, and I grew tired of having to make up my own options for half the class.  It didn’t take long before I was wearing my 3rd trimester clothes (and underwear – hello, giant ass), and by the start of my 3rd trimester I practically weighed the same as I did at the end of my first.  In fact, I think I have now surpassed that number, and I still have a month to go.  I never had the cute bump profile because I gained weight everywhere, not just in my belly.  Now that my bump is so large, I look more proportionate, but I’m to the point that I can’t imagine how I ever fit into my regular clothes and doubt I’ll ever return to fitting in them again.

2.  I changed doctors and have been less than enthusiastic about their care.

I decided to switch doctors because we moved last year, and I wanted to be able to deliver at a closer hospital.  My old ob has an office a block away from my house, but in order to have a sonogram, I’d have to drive to their downtown office, and to deliver, I’d have to go downtown as well.  So, I asked around and decided to see a practice that was in the same group as my other Ob but would allow me to deliver at a closer hospital, and their offices are next door to it.  I went from having four doctors that I saw regularly to more than I could count.  I’m 36 weeks and still haven’t seen every one, have never seen one doctor more than once, and have seen the RNP at least 4x more than them.  I don’t know any of their names, and I wouldn’t recognize them if I passed them on the street, especially since my typical meetings with each lasted on average less than 2 minutes, and most of them had dud personalities from what I could tell.  With my first pregnancy, my Ob appointments made the whole pregnancy seem more real and special.  We had a sonogram done nearly every visit (hence, not wanting to drive downtown for every visit this time around) and a good amount of time with the ob who monitored the heart and measured the belly.  Usually my husband attended, too, so it was an event.

This time, my husband has come with me to exactly one appointment – the anatomy scan where we learned of the baby’s gender (another underwhelming experience because the sonographer spent most of the time trying to capture all 4 heart chambers and zero time showing us all ten tiny fingers and toes.  The pictures she took sucked, too).  I know it’s most common to only have two sonograms, but I was used to having them done at almost every visit, that this was a huge change.  I know basically nothing about the baby growing inside of me, and with Ellis, I knew she was going to have a head full of hair and the cutest nose.  Additionally, it’s the nurse who monitors the heart at the appointments, and the doctor basically takes a two second measurement of the belly, asks if I have any questions or concerns, and then says, “Okay, peace out.”  There has been nothing magical or special about this pregnancy, and I leave every appointment disappointed.  Sure, I could have found a new practice or gone back to my old doctors, but I am so lazy busy and tired, that I just didn’t want to have to deal with either finding someone who delivers at my hospital of choice or dealing with hassle of the downtown hospital for all of my visits (hard to find parking and a train that passes right by adding to the congestion and travel time).

3.  I have a toddler.  And stairs.

Ellis weighs around 25+ pounds now, and she still wants to be carried everywhere.  She is also obviously very high energy, so there is no time to relax during the day, with the exception of sweet, sweet nap time.  We also have stairs in our house where we didn’t with my first pregnancy.  My trips up and down are strategically planned to avoid any extra ascents.  I’m to the point now that I don’t carry anything up with me.  It all is placed at the bottom of the stairs waiting for my husband to carry it up for me.  And I try to get Ellis to hold my hand as much as possible on the stairs because she often prefers I carry her.  Every time I go down the stairs, I have to be careful because I always have a moment where I feel off-balance and get the feeling that I’m going to topple forward.  Thankfully, I’ve avoided tripping or falling down or up the stairs.

4.  I’m not getting any younger.

Really, I’m not.  My body hurts in more ways than I thought imaginable.  Sitting hurts.  Standing is exhausting.  Laying down is uncomfortable.  Walking is painful.  My pelvis feels crushed every time I stand up.  I always feel like I have to pee.  It’s even worse when I have to carry a toddler around.  My last pregnancy, I had some round ligament pain and some discomfort with my sciatic nerve, but the pain this time around is on a whole new level.  About 2 months ago, I moved to our guest bedroom because it has a much firmer mattress.  I wake up less often with round ligament pain on it, and when I do, it’s easier to get up and massage it out than our pillowy-soft mattress that I sink into and struggle to get out of.  But the farther along I’ve gotten, it gets harder to lay comfortably without pain, and I still have to get up every couple of hours to pee.  I always have to have a pillow behind my back when I sit down or else I have to sit straight up on the edge.  The other day we went shopping for a new recliner, and I left the store wobbling in pain from all the sitting and pulling myself out of the chairs.  I think if I had stuck with yoga and pilates I would be in much less pain, but I just can’t make myself get back to the gym.

5.  We still don’t have name for this kid.

We had Ellis’s name picked out not even a full week after we found out we were having a girl.  This time around, we are still trying to come up with a list of possible considerations.  I have favorites.  Trav has favorites.  Our favorites don’t mesh, and neither of us loves the other’s choices.  It’s possible we’ll just end up letting the nurses name him.

Goals for 2016

NYE 2016 Sassafras Mountains

So long 2015. Looking ahead to a year with great potential.

2015 was a year full of great changes for my family.  We moved to a bigger house in a better, more family-friendly neighborhood.  That in itself changed our lives dramatically and for the positive.  With the move, we also had to tighten our purse strings as our cost of living increased.  My mom, and for a short time my grandmother, moved to be close to us; so, for the first time in over a decade, I finally had family living in the same town state part of the country as me.  I spent over two-thirds of the year pregnant and had to give up teaching Sh’bam, for now at least.  Ellis gave up some activities and started new ones (swimming and preschool).    We also found a new church that we’ve been going to regularly, took a Dave Ramsey course over the summer, and started attending marriage classes.

With all the wonderful things that happened in 2015, I’m looking forward to what this new year has in store for us.  Obviously the biggest change will be a new baby, and he is sure to rock our world.  We’ve gotten into a rhythm; things have been easy for the most part, and in a few short weeks that’s all going to change.  Hopefully we will have a better handle on things and more realistic expectations on what bringing home a newborn entails.  My first goal is to chill (to the best of my capabilities).  I read all the books and listened to all the advice, and I was a ball of stress for at least the first six months of my daughter’s life.  This time, I plan to TRY to be more easy-going (especially about sleep – I’m just going to assume this one is never going to sleep either.  That way, I’ll be pleasantly surprised when he does.)  Though there will still be things that I will be a stickler about (wash your friggin hands before holding the baby – better yet, just don’t touch him until he’s had his first set of vaccs).

My second goal is to stress less.  I know.  Basically the same thing as chilling.  Stress is obviously a huge problem in my life right now (and for the longest time).  I tend to lose my sh*t when things don’t go as planned.  I make a list of to-dos and things I want to accomplish every day, and nine out of ten times I can barely make a dent in my plans.  Lately, I focus on what I’ve been able to accomplish for the day instead of what I wasn’t able to get done, and I feel more satisfied with myself.  So instead of focusing on the fact that, for the fifth day in a row, I’ve still not been able to make it to the bank, I look at what I was able to do even if it was just I took a shower and fed my kid today; yay, me!

One thing that stresses me out more than anything is being disorganized, so my third goal is to get organized.  I’ve had this problem long before having a baby.  It was one of the hardest things about teaching because if I wasn’t organized, I couldn’t do my job well.  I am one of those people who takes in so many ideas and wants to do it all that I just over-complicate things that should be very simple.  I do that in my own home and personal life, too.  I blame Pinterest for a lot of it these days.  I waste so much time on trying to perfect a system that I forget the point of the system in the first place – to make life easier and become more efficient with daily tasks.  I feel like I can’t get anything accomplished until my house is completely functional.  I am slowly attacking every area of our house, simplifying, decluttering, and organizing little by little.

Stick to our budget.  Since completing the Dave Ramsey course last July, we’ve been struggling to stick to the budget we set for ourselves every month.  Old habits die hard I guess.  I’ve been trying different methods from tracking our spending and receipts both manually and using budgeting apps, to using cash only, and everything in between, but we haven’t found a system that works for us yet.  It’s a work in progress, but we’re at least talking about our spending and are more conscious of it.  So my goal is to find a system that really works for us and helps us stay on track to pinch those pennies without feeling oppressed.

I want to become more of a positive force in my family.  I feel like I’m doing a good job as a mom, but I have room for improvement.  I want to say yes more often (like 99% of the time) when Ellis asks if I’ll play with her.  As a wife, I need to really raise my game.  I want to be more conscious of showing my husband love and appreciation using his love language.  We spent last fall discussing Andy Stanley’s iMarriage in our marriage class, and I am working on doing more for Trav and looking at him as the gift that he is to my life as opposed to taking him for granted.  I always want to find joy in the small things of every day and not treat my responsibilities as a burden.  I have a pretty good life, but sometimes I act like my problems are so huge when really I’m the problem.

Finally, I want to get chairs for our kitchen table.  About two years ago, we bought a new kitchen table.  It’s a high top, and we bought two chairs to go with it.  When Ellis came along, she scooted up in her high chair.  Now we have a larger kitchen, and the two bar chairs are cozied up to the kitchen island.  Our kitchen table has been reduced to a dump for all our clutter.  When we have meals, we eat at the island, and someone is left standing because Ellis hasn’t used her high chair in almost a year.  Once in a while we sit together at the dining table, but that’s usually reserved for when we have guests.

And that’s that.  My goals for 2016.  Of course, once baby gets here, I’m going to scratch all this, and my new goal will be:  survive.

 

 

5 Ways I Fail as a Mom

As Mother’s Day approaches, I think about how much I deserve to be celebrated on this day.  Last year I thought, Oh, heck yes.  I carried a baby for 10 months, pushed her out of me, and balanced on the edge of insanity keeping her alive for almost a year. I deserve to be celebrated.

This year, I’m kind of drawing a blank as to why anyone should celebrate my mothering skills.  I’m severely lacking in most life skills, and now I’m responsible for a human being.  What comes easy to most people is a huge undertaking for me, like changing a light bulb, mailing packages, or returning phone calls and text messages in a timely manner.

When Ellis was immobile and less aware, I had lots of time to read up on baby care, weekly development, and mom tips.  Today, I’m faced with numerous questions but no time to look into them, so I’m just shooting blindly into the dark and hope I’m on the right track.  So for Mother’s Day, I’m listing all the ways I am failing as a mom, and to not beat myself up too much, my successes.

1.  I’m not a good cook.

My daughter isn’t really a picky eater.  Generally, if it tastes good to her, she’ll eat it.  The problem is, what I prepare for her doesn’t always taste that great.  And cooking stresses me out.  Also, I’m terrible about meal planning and meal prep, so I’m usually rushing to throw something together for her to eat at last minute.

IMG_0146

It took me three days to make enchiladas, and they tasted terrible.

 

2.  Cleaning is not my strong suit either.

The kitchen, the laundry, and vacuuming the floors.  That’s basically all I manage to accomplish.  My house is always a mess.  I don’t know how to organize all of our stuff/junk, because once it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, so everything clutters our counter tops which ironically stresses me out.  I can’t stand clutter, but I don’t know how to make it go away.  I don’t know how to treat stains, so basically if my daughter gets food on an outfit, it’s there for life.  I can’t keep up with the bathrooms or changing out the sheets on our bed on a weekly basis.  And did I mention our house is always a mess?

3.  Crafting.

No.

IMG_0159

I hate you, Michaels and Pinterest, and all of your lies.

 

4.  I have very little patience.

The smallest things can set me off.  I’m like the Incredible Hulk with uncontrollable rage at the slightest provocation.  This doesn’t pair well with me being bad at life in general when I am easily frustrated.

5.  I let my daughter eat sweets and watch too much TV.

Two things I would NEVER do last year, and now they are daily occurrences.  Trying to find a balance between being too uptight and too liberal is an everyday struggle.

IMG_0158

Feet on the table. Giant green flip flop cookie from Panera crumbled all over the seat and floor. We’ll never be allowed back.

 

And one thing I do right…

IMG_0097

Happy, confident kid

Something.  I look at her and know I’m doing something right.  Sometimes I think she could thrive even more with a more competent set of parents, but I don’t think we’re failing her completely.  Every day I love her, I worry for her, and I try for her.  That’s gotta be something, right?

Try Again

***I wrote this post a while ago, but only felt comfortable enough now to share it.  And now that life is “slowing down” and getting back to normal, I can hopefully get back to my regular updates.***

The weird part is that I feel like I shouldn’t be upset.  That this was no big deal and happens to lots of women, many who don’t even know it happened to them.  But it’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, not knowing whether or not I was pregnant.

Trav and I have been trying for a little while now.  A few weeks ago I was feeling a little more run down.  My stomach got upset easily, and I was getting headaches every day.  I never have headaches.  So I took a test, and it was positive, but the second line was only barely visible.  So I took a second test the next day, and the next day, and one more.  The line kept getting more and more prominent.  But something else was becoming more prominent, too.  I was having lots of minor cramping and bleeding.  I told my husband the exciting news over dinner on his birthday date night, then I made an appointment the following Monday to see the Ob.

The Ob confirmed my pregnancy, but the ARNP was concerned about the bleeding, so I had a blood draw that morning and scheduled to have it drawn again two days later.  They wanted to test that my hCG levels were at least doubling.  That week, the bleeding and cramping continued, and my pregnancy symptoms were beginning to disappear.  Someone online mentioned she bleed throughout the first three months of her pregnancy and went on to have a healthy baby, so I was still holding on to some hope, but I kind of also just knew something wasn’t right, and it wasn’t going to happen for me.  The afternoon after my second blood draw I spent trying to get ahold of someone who could tell me my results.  I had gotten a call the previous day that Tuesday’s levels were 77.  I wanted a definitive answer, but the nurse told me Thursday’s levels were 144.  My levels went up but not drastically.  By then, I wasn’t cramping anymore, but I was still bleeding.  They set up a sono appointment for me 2.5 weeks out.  I bled the entire weekend and on Monday called to tell them that I was still bleeding and wasn’t experiencing any pregnancy symptoms.

They brought me in for a sono that afternoon.  Couldn’t find anything.  The doctor decided to run another pregnancy test.  It came back negative.  So there you go.  In the span of less than one week, I went from officially being pregnant to not.  I have to go in for one more blood draw to make sure my hCG levels have evaporated, and then we’ll have to wait at least a month before we can try again.

This part was easy to write, but the emotions involved are harder to explain.  I had all the normal, crazy thoughts running through my head when I first took that positive home pregnancy test.  “Oh, here we go again!”  “Is this really happening?”  “Life is about to change.”  “Am I ready to do this again, with a toddler?”  And then there was the confusion of not knowing whether or not my pregnancy was failing.  I just wanted an answer, yes or no, this is happening, this isn’t happening.  I didn’t want to wait 4 weeks or 2 weeks to hear the answer I was pretty sure I already knew.   My doctor made a comment that most women don’t even know they’re having a miscarriage when it’s this early on in the pregnancy.  Most just assume they’re having a heavy period.  (Actually, she kept using the word “mensies,” and I kept thinking, “Is that an actual medical term, or is she trying to sound young and hip because she thinks I’m either of those two?”)  But I’m not sure how someone can bleed for two weeks straight and not think something’s up.

And then there are those other questions.  Did I cause this?  I start going through my timeline and picking out everything that could have been a cause.  I taught Sh’bam that one night and remember my stomach hurting.  I drank three cups of coffee that one morning.  I had wine.  Could too much intercourse have caused this?

Maybe something I did caused it, maybe not.  I’m okay now.*  Well, I’m relieved to know.  As a planner and a neurotic person in general, I just needed to know.  And now that I do, I can move forward.  Enjoy my birthday plans with my girlfriends.  Enjoy a mini-vacation with my family in May.  Have some Mimosas with my mom and grandmother on Mother’s Day.  Enjoy a little more time not being pregnant.  And then I’ll try again.  And maybe the next time will be the one.

*The loss is still hard.  Not as hard as someone who got to hear a heartbeat or see a little peanut on an ultrasound.  That would be even more devastating.  But I still feel the loss.  My joy was taken away quickly, so I should be thankful that I didn’t have a chance to get too invested.  I’m disappointed.  I’m sad at times.  But I’m okay.  And I’m grateful for everything that I already have.

SAHMs for Target

Remember when I said that I was turning over a new leaf and REALLY going to try to grow a nice wardrobe and stop buying all my clothes at Target?  Well, for the most part, I have been working hard on it.  In fact, I’ve got four items I’m picking up from the tailor tomorrow.  Wahoo!

But I must admit that I went on a little shopping spree at Target.  I didn’t mean to.  I just had a little bit of toddler-free time on my hands, so I decided to go out on a limb and try some things on, and doggone it if they didn’t all fit and look really, really good on!  I never have that kind of luck anywhere.  I thought maybe I was hormonal or hallucinating because no way could everything fit me, including a maxi dress.  My mother later pointed out that it’s probably a regular length dress but just looks like a maxi dress on me.  Either way, I rocked it, so I bought it.

I’m sorry to all the people who were disappointed with the Lilly Pulitzer for Target letdown this past weekend, but I think these finds are just as incredible.

IMG_9780

If you look in my closet, you will basically see black, white, and gray.  I’m so excited to have some bright and feminine color in my wardrobe.

IMG_9789

This light knit top hits just above the waist.  It’s perfect for spring and summer on days I find myself inside with the chilly a/c like church or the grocery store.

I also picked up some casual wear, because sometimes I just need to look presentable enough to take my daughter for a walk through our neighborhood or into a grocery store.

 

IMG_9783They had some really cute and flattering athletic wear, including these shorts.  I picked up a pair in another color, as well as these, thigh thinning leggings, two sports bras, and a black tank.  I still haven’t mustered up the insanity to buy LuLuLemon.  I have a couple of things from Athleta, but nothing that’s made me a convert to overpriced workout gear.

1-IMG_9776

People, THIS is an improvement.

 

Moderately Extreme Makeover: Closet Edition

I treated becoming a mom as an excuse to stop caring about myself.  As long as the baby is happy, healthy, and dressed impeccably, who cares about the disaster of a woman holding her hand, right?  I’m not sure what has changed recently, but I think I just got tired of looking and feeling awful.  We go to a toddler gym, and while that’s a safe place to be dressed like a tired house mom, their walls are covered floor to ceiling in mirrors to remind me that I look like a tired house mom.  Even when I would get a chance to go on a date with my husband, many times I would not have found the time to wash my hair and so taking a date-selfie and sharing it with the cyber world was out of the question.

I see moms around me everywhere who are pulled together, and I’ve decided that part of my happiness has always been feeling great about myself.  So, I am giving myself a makeover, much like that awful reality show several years ago called “The Swan” where they did extreme makeovers on women.  I’m not going so far as plastic surgery, but I can definitely improve everywhere else.

First thing’s first.  My wardrobe.

There’s this thing going around the internet mostly on lifestyle blogs and YouTube called a “closet detox,” where women are going through their overly-cluttered closets and cleaning them out. I find it slightly annoying they call it a “detox” instead of what it really is – cleaning and organizing.  I also am annoyed when people say they like things to happen organically.  Stop it.

I watch these videos and I’m like, “Whuh?”  My closet needs to eat a sandwich, not go on a juice cleanse, if you know what I mean.  Long ago, I had a pretty decent closet, but it was mostly work clothes – business pants and so. many. cardigans.  Then I got preggers, and the majority of my wardrobe was maternity wear or clothes 2 sizes larger than I normally wear.  Then I had a baby and couldn’t care less about my clothes, and that’s really where things began to fall apart.  The only new clothes I would buy came from Target when I was on another diaper run, and I only bought things that were both cheap and nursing-friendly.  Also, loose and comfortable were major criteria.

Now it’s almost 2 years later, and I have no excuses.  As I was starting to organize my new closet, I realized I had a healthy collection of sweaters, jackets, cocktail dresses (from days of yore), and fall pieces, but no clothes for warmer months.  I live in Florida.  How is that possible???  I remember.  I lived in my gym clothes (still do), whether I was working out or not (usually not).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The entirety of my spring/summer wardrobe. I don’t even know what to say about this. Did I just never leave the house last year???

We’re in a new house with a closet that can actually fit a decent wardrobe.  I want to collect a few key pieces:  casual, daily wear; family dates; hubby dates; and Sunday church attire.  So, I’ve been doing some research on what people are actually wearing these days and getting ideas for things that I’ll actually enjoy wearing.  I’ve been subscribing to mommy and petite fashion blogs; I follow liketoknow.it; and I watch YouTube videos.  I did a YouTube search for “cute mom outfits,” and in one of the videos I watched, the woman actually said my entire wardrobe cannot be from Target.  Bummer.

To help me along, I’ve also decided to do two things that I have never done before:

1.  If I like it, buy it.  At a store or online, I am weird about not wanting to buy a single item.  If I see one cute shirt but nothing else, I’ll put it back because I need at least 2 items to make the transaction worthwhile.  I really can’t explain it.  It doesn’t make sense, but I am breaking that habit.

2.  If it doesn’t quite fit, get it tailored.  I am 5’1″.  I qualify as petite which means nothing fits me right.  Everything is big in the sleeves and chest and too long for my short legs.  I’ve decided I’m not going to let ill-fitting clothes  deter me.  This is really the only way I’m ever going to have clothes that fit my body.  Yes, I’m 33 years old, and I am just now figuring this out.

So, here goes nothing.  I’ve already placed some orders and got a little pile ready to get altered.  I’ll let you know how it goes and share my wardrobe as it grows.  And one day I hope I can be cute enough to take selfies with my adorable toddler again!

 

Jell-O Cookie Review

Jello Cookies – Easy Sugar Cookies Flavored with Jell-O from EatingonaDime.com

I saw this recipe over a month ago and had been waiting for the right time to make these.  After some fun at My Gym this morning, I thought it would be fun and festive to make some Easter-y, colorful cookies with Ellis.  Let’s see how it went down…

First step:

Try to get the ingredients and work space organized.  Distract the toddler.  Pretzels work.  For a minute.  Add some raisins and baking tools.  But then she spies sprinkles.  A few sprinkles won’t hurt.  She wants all the sprinkles.

IMG_9166

Step Two:

While she’s distracted, create the dough by creaming the wet ingredients and adding the dry.  Stir, stir, stir.  Hide the sprinkles.

IMG_9168

Step Three:

Divide dough and mix in Jell-O flavors/colors.  This was the most time-consuming, messy, and required a lot of space and bowls.  Our hands were too messy to get any photos, so we’ll skip to Ellis losing interest.

Step Four:

Ellis’s hands got too dirty, so she insisted on washing them.  Off she goes to the kitchen sink for a little impromptu water play.  The floor and her clothes are soaked.  And only then do I remember she has an apron.

Step Five:

She grabs a snack from the pantry because she realizes I’m obviously not making her lunch this morning.  She dumps half of it on the floor for Alex and returns to her step stool to “ride the horsey.”  I finish the cookies and get them in the oven.

IMG_9173

Step Six:

Clean up the kitchen while Ellis plays with the remaining dough and sugar in a bowl.  Watching carefully, I’m just thankful she hadn’t thought to put the handful of sugar in her mouth.  Strip her clothes off, change her diaper while she protests, and keep her out of the kitchen while I pull the cookies out to cool.

Step Seven:

Spend 30-40 minutes getting Ellis down for a nap.  First she must color, then ride her horsey, then take a trip down her slide, then read 3 books, then sing, then just one more book, then a big hug but don’t let go!, then in the crib and some really pitiful crying that makes me feel awful.  Close the door.

Step Eight:

Finish cleaning the kitchen, kind of.  Eat my first meal of the day.  Vacuum and mop the floor.  Try the cookies.  Um, why did I ever think artificial fruit flavored cookies would taste good?  Completely related, the kitchen smells like Skittles.

THE END PRODUCT:

IMG_9184

They were thick like the original photo when they went in the oven but flattened out in the oven.

IMG_9175

Pinterest Photo:

jello-cookiesFinal Thoughts

Difficulty:  Not exactly difficult.  Just time-consuming and super messy.

Taste:  Not gonna lie.  I did not enjoy these cookies.  I feel like my tongue is burning, and I can’t get the taste off of it.  Don’t like the smell either.  Making a mental note to never bake with Jell-O gelatin powder.  No.

Toddler Friendly?  She enjoyed kneading the dough for a short time, but the whole process took too long to keep her interested and left her unsupervised to make even larger messes while I was a distracted mommy.

Toddler Play Series: Bathroom Fun

1-Downloads

Let’s face it.  We can’t entertain our tots all the time.  Sometimes we have to do things like get ourselves dressed, make a meal, or clean up the kitchen.  This series will show you how I keep my 1.5 year old entertained when I’ve got to get things done.  I’m not mentioning media use, not because I don’t use it, but because those are obvious forms of distraction.  I could write entirely separate posts on Ellis’s favorite apps and shows to watch.

When we moved into our new house, we gained an extra bathroom, and yet we went from using two bathrooms regularly to all three of us using only one.  It just seems easier that way, and less to clean I guess.  The mornings when we’re all three in there getting ready is probably my favorite part of the day because it’s usually the one and only time that we’re all together as a family most days.  The following list is how Ellis occupies her time when we’re hanging out in the bathroom.

Bathroom Play

  • Shower Share – Ellis takes more showers than baths these days.  Since we moved into our new house, we all use one bathroom, and it’s just easier that way.  When we’ve got to get a shower, Ellis comes in with us.  It’s a great way to get her cleaned up from breakfast, and she usually likes to play in there after we get out.  We can easily see her through the glass and listen to her singing.  I bought shaving cream for her to play with, but surprisingly she doesn’t like touching it or getting it on her hands.  She prefers the window squeegee.
  • Bath Ball Pit – The problem with the tub in our new place is that the faucet is easily accessible by our little toddler.  The bigger problem is that the hot water handle is closest to her.  She loves to come in and turn the water on.  Any type of bath play works, but when I don’t really have time to sit and give her bath, I keep the water drain open.  Throw in some balls for extra fun.  Bath crayons are great, for her.  They’re actually a pain to clean; they require a Magic Eraser (essential when you have a toddler) and lots of scrubbing.IMG_8917
  • Makeup with Mommy – Pull out some old brushes, makeup you don’t care much about and let her pretend to get ready with you.  Even still, she’ll want to use the brushes and makeup I’m using.  I have broken concealer crayons, finger scrapes in my blush, and had to replace my blush brush twice, but whatevs.  Whatever it takes to get ready in the morning.  Just remember to wash it off before leaving the house.IMG_9126
  • Teachable Moments (No.) – There is a drawer where Ellis stands when playing at the bathroom counter.  The other day she discovered some white strips in there.  Kept her entertained for a little while.  Until I tried to make it all educational and have her practice counting the white strips.  Lame.
IMG_8796

“Mama’s shower cap looks better on me.”

 

Lies the Internet Tells You

The other day I saw someone on Facebook share a post called “10 Easy Things to Cook with Toddlers.”  Lately I’ve been feeling guilty about trying to be more involved with my toddler’s play time.  With our recent move, I have been so busy and stressed and in turn, have relied heavily on free babysitting media, i.e. Curious George via TV, iPad, and phone.  We’ve been working on learning colors, numbers, and the alphabet, and Ellis has just been a sponge soaking up and spilling back everything she’s learning.  I want her to have many new experiences to keep expanding her mind, so when I saw this post, I jumped on it.  The recipe for these Cheese Puffs seemed easy enough – puff pastry, egg wash, and cheese.  No way could we mess that up.

This isn’t my first disappointing toddler activity found on Pinterest fail.  But I just can’t stand the lies the Internet is putting out anymore, and someone needs to speak up about it, so it may as well be me.  Yes.  Cooking something simple with a toddler is both fun and engaging for the toddler.  No.  It’s not fun for the adult caregiver, and also, no way did your toddler help you make that snack.

It all started off hectic from the beginning.  I had a plan of action which I carefully mapped out while my daughter was eating oatmeal and cheese for lunch.  (Do not argue with a hungry, groggy toddler who just woke up from a nap and is still cranky.)  However, the moment I started to make a move on plans, Ellis decided she was no longer hungry, and she insisted we play upstairs.  No worries.  Kitchen was still dirty and more so after her lunch.  I had about 30 minutes for the puff pastries to thaw.  I could manage this.  30 minutes later, and Ellis still demanded my attention in her toy room.  But I found a great excuse – a two-day old cup of coffee left in the bathroom.  “Ooh, look Ellis.  Mommy has to take this cup to the kitchen.”

“No.”

“Okay, I’m going to the kitchen.  You can come with me if you’d like.”

“No.” In a tone that implied, if you go, you will regret it.  I took my chances and, with a nervous smile on my face, headed for the stairs.

The puff pastries were doughy and close to room temperature.  They had been thawing too long, so I had to grab some flour, and with Ellis’s help, roll out the dough.  (She had decided to follow me and wanted to be involved in the process entirely.)

IMG_8296

This picture may mislead you into thinking this little child knows how to use a rolling pin, but I assure you, she does not. Also, taking pictures during this entire process is not wise.

Working on a dirty counter top, we rolled out the dough and started cutting shapes.  Tip:  plastic cutters do not work well for this task.  They do, however, help to reinforce colors.  But only orange because that’s the only color Ellis successfully identifies with enthusiasm.  I threw the other wad of dough into the fridge knowing that this was already not going as planned, as I picked off a hairball from one of the shapes Ellis had just semi-cut out.

The next step was the egg wash.  Leaving a toddler to tend the dough while I grabbed eggs from the fridge was a bit cumbersome.  So much so that I cracked an egg and absentmindedly dropped it into the sink of dirty dishes instead of into the plastic bowl I had sitting right in front of me.  Back for a second egg.  Crack.  A little water.  A baby fork to whisk because I still don’t know where most of my kitchen utensils are, and then back to the toddler.

IMG_8305

Here’s where it gets tricky. Raw eggs on hands + Cheese + a Toddler who loves cheese = food poisoning? Let’s hope not.

She wanted full control over egg washing the pastry cut outs, so after unsuccessful negotiations, let her have at it.  Next, I grabbed the cheese and showed her how I sprinkled a bit on top of a cut out.  She relinquished the egg wash in exchange for the cheese, grabbed a handful out of the bag and dumped it on one cut out, and repeated the process, on the same cut out.

After Ellis got the bag of cheese, she was much more interested in eating it than finishing her work.  I threw our disaster joint effort into the oven and set to cleaning up what I could while she crawled on the dirt/egg/flour covered counter top and ate cheese in between sprinkling it everywhere.  IMG_8316

Reality Check
Exhibit A:
exhibit a

Photo credit: Childhood101.com – Cooking with Kids: Cheese Puffs

IMG_8304

 

Exhibit B:

 

exhibit b

Photo Credit: Childhood101.com – Cooking with Kids: Cheese Puffs

IMG_8309

Um, yeah, you try telling a toddler that’s enough cheese.

IMG_8325

Watching them bake.

IMG_8328

Reality: THIS is what really happens when you bake with a toddler.

IMG_8329

The ones that got thrown away.

After she lost interest, I pulled out the second sheet of puff pastry and tried to create a more edible cheese puff as a reward for both our hard work.  They actually turned out tasty, if not a little burnt, because I got slightly distracted and didn’t pull them out on time.  Alas, the fruit of my efforts were thrown away by my husband after he got home and I was at the grocery store.  Because I put them on a plate, he didn’t think I wanted them.  Ellis’s batch, which were still on the baking sheet, he left alone though.