Thursday 13: Money-pits

While we are beginning to save money for a possible move/home addition in the future, I have been paying a little closer attention to where all my money goes. Does your money fly out of your wallet at these things too?!

1. Anything at Target. I go in for a "few things" (let's say "gray eyeshadow and whole milk" for instance) and end up with 2 scarves, a baby bathing suit, and a rubbermaid tub. Crap. Forgot to get the milk.
2. Gas. I only get it about every 10 days, but when I see the numbers inching toward $50, it makes me want to puke. My friend and I recently reminisced about how we paid $10 a tank in high school.
3. Snacks for baby. When she doesn't eat what we eat (unless its El Vaquero!), I find myself constantly in need of "food for Larkyn". Half the cart is probably food just for her.
4. Knit dresses. I wear them almost every day in the summer. Can't walk past a cute one without contemplating it inside my closet.
5. Fast food breakfast. I LOVE IT. Especially Wendy's, which really deserves its own post.
6. Clothes for Larkyn. I have gotten much better in the last 18 months (yes, she had a full closet before she was born). But I still just loving buying her a tee shirt or two if I am anywhere near Gymboree. Or a bag full of playclothes from Once Upon a Child!
7. Carryout dinner. Dinners around here do not receive a good reception. I don't have the time or the desire to spend the evening in the kitchen, so we do a lot of carryout. Deliciously expensive.
8. Cable! I hate the cable/internet bill. But I would dearly miss it if it was gone.
9. Supplies for projects. I do usually follow through with making the project, but then I have the surplus paper, ribbon, etc. around forever.
10. Credit card bills:o( I will be paying those for a long time.
11. Oh, which reminds me...student loans. Ugh.
12. The entire dairy section at the store. You name it...yogurt, cheeses, milks, it all jumps in the cart.
13. Ah yes, babysitting. We love Miss C and our babysitting arrangement is perfect. but it will be nice to have the summer to save that money for a while!

Wednesday in pictures

Alert! Wednesdays are going to have a new look. Making the Picasa collages was way too much work, sorry. And I need words! I'll just caption them and hopefully they will take on a little more meaning for you as well.
Fun at the water table with her sweet rash guard bathing suit.
Trying out the new ladybug pool daddy got her. She preferred to play outside of it since the hose water was freezing. Swimsuit courtesy of Auntie Kate.

Roses from one of my students. So sweet. They came wrapped in a big picture he colors of Cars 2:o)
Memorial Day at the zoo. It was so hot it actually felt like we were in Africa with the leopard and gorillas.

5 Love Languages

Have you ever heard of this before? It is a book that looks a little chachi to me, but someone was talking about it at work. Among the other 99.9% of other people discussing 50 shades. Anyway, it is similar to figuring out your personality type ("Relator" here), which I have done many times in the last decade or so. Helps you understand people in your workplace and people in your lives. It doesn't mean at all that you and the "others" can't co-exist, in fact, you are supposed to complement one another. It just helps you understand them and coexist in peace.
Photo and following list found here

Anyway, here are the 5 Languages. Which one are you? I can see how identifying which one your partner, parents, or older children are can alleviate misunderstandings and frustrations. I would be language numero uno. I don't see one for "give me graham crackers", which would be my daughter. Now go speak the language to your loved ones and have a peaceful week!
  • Words of Affirmation
    Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
  • Quality Time
    In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
  • Receiving Gifts
    Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
  • Acts of Service
    Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
  • Physical Touch
    This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.

Thursday 13: American places I want to go

 I'd rather spend my money on traveling than anything else. Actually, if I never got another gift again and instead got to buy plane tickets and hotel rooms, that would be just fine! Here are the places that are still on my must-see list. Any opinions?
St. Joseph's, Michigan
1. Hawaii- The plane ride does not excite me, but I'm sure it is worth it. Supposedly a good vacation with kids, too.

2. Key West- This is probably much more doable than Hawaii. The food, the drinks, the pink houses, oh my!

3. Seattle- The culture! The food! The coffee!

4. Portland (maybe do it in the same trip as Seattle?)

5. Savannah- Looks like the perfect place to stay for Christmas. I once spent Christmas in nearby Charleston and the weather was perfection.

6. Alaska (cruise)- We better go see those glaciers before they are gone!

7. Virgin Islands- I couldn't even tell you all their names, but I'd like to see the less inhabited ones for a mama/daddy trip to unwind.

8. Napa Valley- Do I really need to explain?

9. San Francisco (Round 2)- Went once when I was 5 or so and would love to go revisit everything as an adult.

10. Cape Cod- I've never been to the beaches of New England.

11. Puerto Rico- I was running out of ideas and remembered that we "own" PR. Incredible beaches and rainforests? Yes please.

12. West Michigan beaches- I've never actually been to Michigan. No, I am not THAT big of an OSU fan to avoid it, but the opportunity has never presented itself. Can you believe this is Michigan?!

You can't make this ___ up

My friends, it has been one of THOSE weeks. I thought it *might* give you some entertainment to be a fly on the wall in my last 24 hours. It's either laugh or cry, and I do not have time to cry!

Yesterday evening:
-Get home with baby and groceries at 6:00
-Put groceries away while "cooking" chicken Caesar salad for dinner
-Eat dinner while baby repeatedly goes after the dog food for her dinner
-Decide that this will not appear on our menu again and eat Pop Tarts and cereal
-While washing dishes, dogs go absolutely bonkers when they see the neighbor's dog
-Go to let dogs in, baby dumps over dog's water onto the poor hardwood floor for the 456th time
-Fold laundry while baby is content for a few minutes
-Put over-tired baby to bed early and clean up the living room, which is destroyed
-Look at the dog "nested" in my laundry, which is now all over the place
-Baby wakes up an hour early, so I get ready while she is awake (foreign to me)
-Dog jumps off bed, flattening out baby and leaving scratches on her (she is OK, but SCREAMING)
-While standing at the sink, wondering where the sippy cup is, hear baby drinking out of it with day-old milk. More screams. 
-Take baby to sitter, go to work (no details here because a kindergarten classroom is an alternate universe that we can discuss later)
-Pick up baby, who "has not slept well all day"
-Make dinner to serve when daddy gets home...?
-Daddy gets home, within minutes, his phone is gone and we realize baby is in the bathroom about to do her favorite thing: throw stuff in the toilet. Run and yell, scaring baby but (I kid you not) catching the phone while it is being dropped in. 
-Discover that extremely cranky baby has a horrific diaper
-While pondering "What caused THIS?" and stripping her down for a bath, realize that baby has peed on the bathroom floor
-"Where's dinner?"happens. I write this post.

You can't make this up. Ladies who have children, you know. Ladies who don't, I know you still have days like this. never will have days like this. Ever. Because we prevent it from happening!

And now, for your viewing pleasure, I will indulge you in a little clip I like to call "Larkyn goes to kindergarten". Hold out til it is completely over. Now don't you wish you were a fly on THAT wall?

Mama Monday: You puzzle me

Note to Larkyn:
Happy 13 months! Here you are in your birthday chair, which we can use for our pictures now.

As soon as you start speaking in phrases, I wondered if you could clear up a few things...
  • Is your body wired a different way, to recognize weekends as the days to wake up early and M-F as the days to sleep in?
  • Does food taste different when daddy or grandma feeds it to you? Just wondering why you can eat an omelette for dad and scream when I gave you a bite of scrambled eggs?
  • Speaking of that, is there some magic ingredient in dog food that I missed that makes it delicious?
  • How do you learn so fast? It took me months to learn some of the harder yoga poses, and you went from a few steps to running in less than a month!
  • Do you really care what's on TV, or are The Backyardigans and The Bachelorette all the same to you?
  • Is any book ever going to be as good as Pat the bunny?
  • And finally, where did you learn your dance moves? 

Thursday 13: Why I love summer

OK, time to try something new! I am linking up at Aunie Sauce and you know I love a list. Link up and give it a shot once a week to clear your mind and tell us a little more about yourself.

I have 9 school days left til summer is here! I do love my kiddos, but I know they love summer just as much as I do!

1. Being with Larkyn every day! I can't wait to see what she has to show me in the next few months.
We love our new water table!
2. No alarm clocks. 

3. Going places on a weekday during the day. No more crowds and lines when I want to go grocery shopping, to the bookstore, library, or zoo (well, there are always crowds at the zoo).

4. Trying new restaurants. It's time to knock out a few more breakfast joints on my list, and now I have 7 days instead of 2 to try them. 

I'll use this fabulous birthday gift from Julie as my guide!

5. Going to the best place on earth. Larkyn is the same age I was when I started going...
This year she will actually be able to walk in the sand herself

6. SYTYCD!!!

7. Organizing the house. On the list: bedroom storage and basement de-cluttering (which was supposed to happen pre-baby. Ha!)

8. Reading a book a week. I miss books so much! These are up next...

9. Playdates with friends and their kids. I promise we won't bring a contagious disease this time.

10.  Wearing summer clothes without a dress code. Hooray for skirts, no socks, and flip flops!

11. Going to see another race with Matt. This is not officially on the books, but I am so hoping it will happen this summer. 
At the last race, it was so cold that it snowed! We hope to avoid that in July.

12. Trying some new recipes in the kitchen. When is there time during the school year? Pinterest board of delicious items I haven't made, here I come!

13. Having the stress level go down about 160 notches without the worry of TIME. Oh summer, how I've missed you.

Aunie Sauce

Try it Tuesday: Chobani Smackdown

I have this thing about bandwagons. I'll watch from afar, fascinated by people who quickly jump on...observing if the trend will stick...weighing if the hype is worth it...getting annoyed with over-saturation, then finally making a choice. I JUST got a black North Face fleece this February because they were 30% off (the global warming discount, you know). Anyway...

In our fridge, you can find the following:
  • 3 Yoplait lights (Matt's)
  • 4 Chobani Champs (Larkyn's)
  • 4 Cherry Activias (Mine--I keep waiting for JLCurtis to show up with a camera in my kitchen)
Yeah, we love yogurt and each of us eats it at least once a day. So, when the Chobani commercials started popping up, Chobanis started appearing on every shelf of the staff lounge, and Pinterest was full of "Chobani substitution conversions", I was immediately turned off.

Then my daughter became a vegetarian.  Well, not really, she just refuses to eat meat and the doctor said, "You need to find protein in other sources, so switch to Greek yogurt". Alright, fine for her. She will eat anything resembling yogurt and loves it. Baby: converted.

THEN we had a staff appreciation breakfast this week and (gasp!) the only choices for yogurt were Chobanis. Of course, everyone was squealing with delight while I was gritting my teeth. OK, you are going to try it...put some granola on top and get over it.

And guess what? I liked it (Sam I Am!). Yes, it was much thicker and not as sweet as non-Greek yogurt. But, it had pieces of peach in it and I liked it even more after I read the nutritional information:
From Check out that protein!!

My suggestion? Get yourself some Chobani AND some healthy granola (because crunch makes everything better). Mama: converted.

Mama Monday: Roadtrip!

I requested the day off for Mother's Day, hoping for an adventure of some sort. Didn't need something in a little box or something that would die in a week, just wanted to pile in the car and go.

Indoor photography with no flash = boo.
This morning, we left for Cincinnati (about a 2 hour drive from Columbus). We timed it so that Larkyn would sleep all the way down and all the way back up. Sweet. The aquarium was easy to find because of all the signs, but I had no idea it was attached to an outdoor mall (If you know Easton, it is just like Easton). And, strangely enough, directly across from the Fish Market restaurant. Mmmm.

The aquarium itself was pretty neat but...that was probably our one trip, unless we take baby #2 one day when Larkyn is older. I loved that it wasn't crowded at all (definitely go during the week!) and that we could get right up in front of the animals. Or under, as you will see below. However, $28 per person? Seriously? There is no way that it was better than our zoo, which does not cost nearly that much!

Oh well. Larkyn enjoyed running around and pushing her own stroller. She was not really into the animals, but she had fun, and we enjoyed looking at the animals ourselves. The jellyfish room was SO COOL! Of course there aren't pictures because the room was dark with different tubes of neon lights, lighting up the jellyfish. There were several tunnels to walk under the sting rays, sharks, etc. and those were definitely the neatest feature.

Hate to say it, but we had equally as much fun at the nearby Bass Pro Shop. We always go when we are visiting a city that has one. They are like an amusement park themselves. They have big fish in tanks too...for free. Everyone got a shirt and hat to take home:o)

It was a great end to Mother's Day and the perfect little day trip. Love you, little family!

Look at this crazy guy. He was called a "4 eye" something or other. Kinda cute.
My favorite, a loggerhead sea turtle!
She only has eyes for dada, even with SHARKS swimming over her head.
This is her "what the..." face when she realized we got ice cream and she had Cheerios. We usually share with her, but we both got peanut butter in ours. Ooops.

Being your mom

Our first Mothers Day, May 2011

Dear Larkyn,

Thank you for letting me be your mama!  Every day, I am happy to wake up to your cooing and your smiling face when I walk in the door. I love to start my day with you. Every day you show me something new you can do, and I am so proud of you! Even when you whine and cry, I know its because you so badly want to do something that you just can't quite get right (which reminds me of myself).

Before you were born, I dreamed you were a girl, that Larkyn was your name, and that you had blonde hair and blue eyes. Of course I couldn't dream up your spunky personality, funny faces, or the way you break my heart when I look at your pictures and see how fast you are growing up.

My wishes for you this year...that you remain confident...that you feel loved even when we correct you and say no...that you see models of kindness and compassion...that you keep learning and saying new words to express yourself...that you keep on smiling that big grin.

I love you,

Yo mama

All day yesterday, colleagues of mine kept asking, "What are you doing Sunday?" "Any big Mother's Day plans?"

Ummm, I didn't get that far yet?

To me, Mother's Day is still about ME celebrating MY mom. I haven't figured out the other part of me being a mom yet. So, I planned this trip to the zoo with our old friends Katie, Judy and Baby Maclain awhile back and still have no idea what (if anything) I'm doing tomorrow on actual Mother's Day. Whatever the case, we had a great day!

Sometimes I get real dramatic and use words like "delicious" to describe the weather. It was, indeed delicious today, and we had to take advantage of the Ohio weather before it turns humid.
I love that we can say "clap your hands!" and she does it. Now if she could only learn "Don't eat the dog food!"
Mooses! Meese?
Over the moose bridge. Please examine the incredible ponytail to my left. That is why we really come to the zoo.
Now that she's walking all over the place, little miss has to get out of the stroller and take breaks every now and then.
Love you, Nana!
Completely wiped out.
I made my mom a Shutterfly calendar and got her a knitting book she wanted, but I know her...I know all she wanted was to spend a few hours with us. I think that must happen once you become a grandparent. Happy Mother's Day to a loving, selfless Mom and grandmother!!

Foodie Friday: Unintimidating sangria

For years I equated sangria with boiling sugar, cutting up tons of fruit, and finding/purchasing my first bottle of brandy. To celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Saturday, we got Mexican carryout and I did not have to do any of the above! Well, there is a little chopping, but I made big chunks and it took only a few minutes. It was so good that only a sleeping child kept us from going out to get ingredients for a second batch...

Unintimidating Sangria
this will make enough for a crowd or last 2 people for 2 days
2 bottles of Real brand Sangria (red)
1 orange, peeled, segmented, and chunked
1 apple, chopped
1 lemon, sliced into half moons

Add the fruit to the wine in a large pitcher, muddle for a few minutes, and chill. It is a MUST to serve it over ice!

Bonus: Real Sangria is very affordable at 5.99 a bottle. Check it out!

Thoughts on a Thursday

1. There are only 2 more Mondays left of school! This is fantastic/terrifying news. Words cannot express how much STUFF I have to do before May 31st.

2. Notice how a good song makes you drive faster? OK, maybe that is just me. I have a little bit of a past with the song+speed relationship. Now that Lulu is here, I have to pull it together and ignore my compulsion to drive like my sports hero. Anyway, here are a few that have gotten me in trouble. Use caution when listening to these songs...

And this one is just anticipatory...when this one comes on the radio, it's all over. This is the only clean version I could find!

3. I never knew I actually liked red wine until I threw some fruit and ice into it! Cinco de Mayo Sangria recipe to come tomorrow!

4. I'm contemplating self-tanner for dress season so I can wear my dress that finally arrived (it's the second one). What is the best kind? Do I put it on my face? Will I be an oompa loompa!? I need a tutorial.

5. As I've been sitting here writing this, Larkyn has been putting on a show. The girl has serious moves. She goes from noisy toy to noisy toy, my laptop and Sesame Street, dancing to the tunes. After writing thought #2, I think "Apple, meet tree". All she needs now is a pink spaceship and lavender lipstick...

Try it Tuesday: Leapfrog My Pal

Looks like Techie Tuesday and TV Tuesday didn't work out for me because I never have time to watch TV in a timely manner and I don't have unlimited funds to test out the tech goods. Unfortunate.

BUT! I do try something new all the time, and I'm all about sharing the things I think you might like.

For Larkyn's first birthday, she got a Leapfrog My Pal Violet (There is a green "boy" version named Scout). My mom gave it to her, and Larkyn is in love! If you have a baby to buy for in the near future, check it out at amazon for only $18!
Lulu's new BFF

We have had more than one interactive puppy in this house, and this one seems to have caught her attention. Know why? It says her name.  That's right, you plug little Violet into your computer via USB, download the Leapfrog software (easy), and off you go. I was able to choose:
  • Larkyn's name (at Christmas, it was not on the list, but it is there now!)
  • Her favorite color (total guess of yellow at this point)
  • Her favorite animal (duh, "duck")
  • Her favorite food (muffins!) Seriously, the choices for food will crack you up. 
  • 5 lullabies
  • 5 playtime songs
  • 5 learning songs
And, when she starts to have opinions on the matters listed above, I can change the choices at any time by plugging her back into the computer. It is so funny to hear Violet talking to her and saying "(yaaaaawn) I'm tired, Larkyn, let's snuggle up" and then you can have her play 2/5/10 minutes of lullabies.

I would say 1 year is the perfect time to introduce this toy. She still gets a little "button happy" and will push all of poor Violet's paws, not letting her get a word out! If I get a video of their friendship sometime soon, I'll post it so you can witness.

Style Sunday: Fabric flower headbands and clips

Sunday is race day. I've been watching them since I was in utero, but it doesn't mean I don't get stir crazy during the 4 hour marathon testosterone sessions. After getting some cute play clothes on sale (and with a gift card) from Gymboree today, I was ready to make some hair accessories for my girl. They were so simple! It almost makes it OK that she will pull them off her head as soon as I put them on...

Here is what you need:
Those skinny strips were an impulse buy at JoAnn's. They are $7 for a bunch OR you can use your own fabric strips. Fold the strip in half and twist it as you twist the fabric into the flower shape. There is a great tutorial on that here .
Put hot glue almost on the end of the strip and then turn the strip in a circle motion in your hand. Stick the strip to itself on the glue dot to create a base/center of the flower.
Now start turning the base around between your thumb and pointer, adding layers behind the center, moving outward. Stop when you are happy with the size.
It's almost done! Now cut the strip and have your glue gun ready! Hold it tight as you glue several spots from behind to hold the flower together. I don't put any in the front because I don't like to see it. Watch your fingers, they will definitely get scorched in this step (maybe we should try glue dots?)
Now you can glue your flower to a barrette (find single prong clips at craft or beauty stores) OR to a headband. I absolutely love this foldover elastic I ordered from Mary Not Martha on etsy. I can't find it in stores anywhere and for less than $3, it was a great find for me.

Cut your elastic to the right length. Here is what I have found:  0-3 m: 13"; 4-12 m: 15"; 12 m- 3 yrs: 17"; 3 yrs and up: 17.5". Do not allow extra for the glue or it will be too big and fall right off! I'd even go a little smaller than 17" next time I try them for Larkyn.

Glue your flower right over that seam, add a few pearls to the center of the flower if you want, and voila. Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!

Avery's Bucket List

I really don't have much to say other than hug your babies tonight.

Matt found and began following Avery's Bucket List over the weekend. When he discovered it and showed it to me, there were 1400 followers. Now, there are 5016 in a matter of 4 days! Anyway, we were both reading her list, trying to think of how we could help...that we would have time to think of some nice way to support this family and their little girl with SMA. I was shocked to check in with Avery's blog today....

8:20 pm- OK, I am editing this from home and have had time to think about this all day. My job is not the kind of job where you have a moment's rest to "think"...kindergartners need every brain cell you have to devote. But as soon as they left, I thought about little Avery and how my heart breaks for her family. I thought...
Her mama put her to bed the night before, not knowing that the next day would be the last day she'd have with her. Dad said that just a short time before, they were just hanging out on the couch taking glad he got that last one!
It doesn't seem fair that we get to sit on our couch and watch Larkyn taking her cautious steps, while Avery's lost their movement and her parents will never get to see her walk.
Our baby has fun stealing food from our plates (and dog bowls)...Avery had a G Tube and didn't get to try birthday cake and Klondike bars...
There are so many things that absolutely make no sense. I don't even personally know the family, but this story makes my throat tighten and eyes well up. But as sad as we (the general public) are over this, we have to admire her parents. They said it many times, Avery is not "dying" with SMA, she was living. They knew they had precious little time with her and they used it! Look at all the things she did in that short time. 
They got her SMA diagnosis on Good Friday. She passed away on April 30th. THAT is how much time they had to process this whole thing, make up a list of how to give their little girl an amazing life, and completed several things on that list!
I can't imagine how they feel tonight. How can they ever walk into her room again? Dad's message makes it clear that they will keep fighting for SMA, to eradicate it and not let any other families go through this tragedy. What a fantastic way to honor Avery. 

If you only had a short time left with your child, what would you do? What would you teach them? What would you tell them?
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