Birthday Thursday: Happy 16 months!

















Favorite foods: Greek yogurt of course, hot dogs, cheese, strawberries, scrambled eggs

Favorite word: "Go!" (and she means it)

Favorite toys: Anything with wheels

Favorite Activities: jumping and bouncing on anything that can/cannot be bounced upon

Loves to: do a "routine" when seeing adults (this includes clapping, raising her hands above her head, and doing jazz hands and she does it without fail), take a bath, take a wagon ride, throw things in the trash when asked

Is challenging us with: a little bit of impatience when she is hungry, bouncing on the couch

This is the part of me...

...that none of you have ever seen in person.

While your families were going to church or watching NFL on Sundays, this is what we watched.

video

Doesn't seem plausible? You better believe I have slept under a #3 (that would be legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr.) afghan and could name the best drivers before I knew who Barbie and She-ra were.

One of the first things Matt and I discussed was our NASCAR fever. It is not a common interest, especially for a kindergarten teacher who enjoys a good purple pen and decorative cupcake liners.
2009. No, I was not stricken with an eating disorder (MOM) at that time, I was standing sideways and almost behind him.

Anyway, this race took us to Michigan International Speedway, in Brooklyn Michigan. I guess the closest big city to that was Toledo. It was OUT in the middle of nowhere. We left at 8 am, dropping Larkyn off at Nana and PawPaw's, and were there by 11:00. Look what we saw on the way!
one of 4 hot air balloons lifting off in the fields of Marysville.

After doing a little shopping at the merchandise trailers (I bought nothing for myself! Holla!), we made our way through the sea of shirtless wonders to our seats. 

Now, for any other sporting event, you'd want to sit up close. Not with 43 stock cars in front of you. We sat almost as high as you can get, in the front stretch, and they were fabulous seats. And we were lucky enough to sit between some pretty tame spectators. In previous races ("back in the day"), we could party with the best of these guys.
Now we just like to watch them.
I can't really explain the feeling of excitement when the pace car drops off and the race begins...just think of the loudest thing you've ever heard and multiply it by 43. Or maybe 430. And then you settle in for 200 laps of speed, wrecks, getting excited when your driver get the lead, and getting pissed when someone passes him. Thing is, you can't hear anyone around you. So, a NASCAR sign language is established:

Shrugging shoulders and holding up a number with your fingers: "Who is that guy?"
Everyone standing, fists in the air, hollering: Dale Jr. must be in the lead
Everyone pointing and booing: Juan Pablo Montoya must be coming

I think we made a pretty good pair in this 200 lap silence.

So the wreck we saw? Easily the worst one all season. First of all, the cars never go into that area! It was careening toward the crews and infield spectators. Second, if he had smashed in a few inches toward the front, he probably wouldn't be here. And did you see that cameraman hustle?!

And where did our guys end up? Well my driver (Carl, #99) was leading with about 30 laps to go (whoo hoo!) but that didn't last. Which resulted in Matt's driver (Jimmie, #48) leading with 2 to go. Would he finally get to see Jimmie take Michigan after witnessing him lose the lead twice before by running out of gas?

Nope. All of a sudden in a puff of smoke, Jimmie's engine blew. Greg Biffle (#16) took the checkered flag as 95% of the crowd cheered for Jimmie's demise (haters). If you haven't seen it, here's what they do when they win:
That's a good cloud of smoke, the burnout. And that guy in the front (you see him) cheered like that for everyone. He also had a humongous beach ball he started bouncing around. Excellent idea to have one of those in front of cars going 200 mph.
So, the outcome wasn't optimal, but you don't really go for that. You go for the rush, for the good time crowd, and for a straight-up All-American experience. At the end of these races, there aren't belligerent fans throwing bottles (pull it together OSU fans!) and everyone is "Whooo!"ing and just having a good time. Put it on your bucket list, I'm tellin ya.



Mama Monday: Bye bye, summer

Well, tomorrow I go back to school and Larkyn goes back to Miss C. This time last year, I cried every time anyone mentioned it. Not that I will miss her less this year, but I guess I have just accepted it.

We had a fantastic summer together, attempting to do something 6 days a week.

Our lunches out progressively improved, now that I enlist whomever we are meeting to help instead of watching us unravel, and now that I take her for a walk around the restaurant while waiting for the food.

I learned what she loves as a toddler: bouncing, dancing, ice cream, "GOOO"ing, entertaining strangers, the beach, golf carts/cars/all vehicles, and swinging. I learned what she doesn't love: shopping in stores I like, diaper changes that last longer than 30 seconds, meat, swimming where she can't touch the bottom (pretty much everywhere)

So, we had this End of Summer list I wanted to complete to squeeze every drop out of summer in the last week. We got everything done except for swimming one more time...our local pool is $10 and we just ran out of time. If you see above, you'll know that Larkyn probably didn't mind.

Trying crayons! Though this purchase was the tipping point for my spending freeze, Larkyn enjoyed them. Really, she just liked organizing them in the box, but was excited to see the marks she could make with them.
Meeting Nana for lunch at her work. Luckily, Children's Hospital also has a great ice cream shop too!
We had never visited the sprawling wooden castle playground at our neighborhood elementary school. Pretty daunting!
This one was just for Mama & Daddy...more to come on our NASCAR experience tomorrow
So, its back to work tomorrow. I am about to treasure my weekends a lot more and look forward to what this school year has to offer!

An Erin Condren spending freeze

I had an epiphany last night. Follow me here while I demonstrate the chain of events. First, I stumbled upon this:
Matt can confirm that I came close to hyperventilation when I opened erincondren,com
So I explored for a while, foaming at the mouth for coordinating pens and personalized stickers. This will not surprise any of you. However, then I saw the price ($50) and I knew I couldn't just throw it in the cart like I do here:

Don't pretend you don't know what store we are in. Or that Larkyn might soon be able to say "Target".
I start out with good intentions. For instance, "I am going to buy her some crayons today. We will be right back." Then I come home with this.
See, I needed a mop and cleaner to maintain a clean home, baby food so she can have her veggies, back to school clothes that were on a great sale, dog treats for the fur babies...
It wouldn't be an issue if it didn't happen EVERY time and multiple times per month. That really adds up. And if we ever want a bigger house and a second kid (one day, not today or in the next year and 1/2)...

I NEED AN INTERVENTION.
A self-imposed freeze. 

Here is the deal I made with myself as I thought about how badly I wanted that planner and how I need to stop spending.

"I will buy the planner because it only makes sense to buy it as school begins. And in return, I will subject myself to a 60 day spending freeze on everything but:
1. Grocery/household items
2. Activities for Larkyn (most are free anyway, but she doesn't need to suffer, right?)
3. Maximum 2 lunches out per week"

This is big.  This means no picking up clothes for Larkyn, which is my Achilles Heel of spending. She has plenty right now. 

And no back to school clothes shopping for the first time since kindergarten. But I have the lovely Audrey to help me with that. I found her website on Pinterest (where I virtually spend all my money) and actually emailed her about a chevron skirt dilemma. She emailed me back with about ten different ways to wear it and has inspired me to remix my whole closet. She is a life-changer, I tell ya.
So, there it is. I will need your support. And I encourage you to try something similar. Erin made it through and is still alive. And she made me buy that dress.

Look forward to meeting my new BFF planner, some wardrobe experiments, and seeing a few things I threw in the Etsy cart before this epiphany happened....

Thursday 13: Our house

You've heard me talk about our little abode, yes? This little girl (it is totally a girl) right here?
RIP dad's car.
I like hearing about where other people live, so I thought maybe I'd throw out a few fun facts for ya. I know you are dying to hear them.

1, It was built in 1945. So, it is officially a post-war home. That website cracks me up because our neighborhood is entirely comprised of Rowenas, Brendas, Plymouths, and all the others. The wording in the ads is so sweet.

2. Not sure if you can tell, but the backyard is almost fully-shaded. And it is 100% my favorite feature of our lot. With 60+ years of maturity and quite a big backyard, our house is kept pretty cool.
Look at those cheeks right around her first birthday!  Hee hee. I love the perennials that come up every year in the yard.
3. We used to have the original blue sink and tub. It was a little sad to see them go..but not that sad.

4. We have beautiful dark wood floors that are unfortunately scratched from Sebastian's claws. Ideas?

5.  The trade-off for having an attached garage in this neck of the woods means we only have 2 bedrooms. Not the smartest move, but I'm hoping someone else will be tempted by the same thing when we go to sell!

6. I love this floor but it drives me to edge. White dog hairs show up on the black squares and black dog hairs show up on the white. This is not a good flooring choice for a multi-colored dog family.

7. There is some crazy "graffiti" in the basement. And by that I mean lots of Grateful Dead references and stars with circles around them (pretty sure those are some sort of wiccan symbol) painted on the ventwork. I think the last owners were in awe of it like we are. What do you do with that!?

8. We have lilac and honeysuckle bushes that are easily 10 feet tall in the back. They bloomed when we found the place, they bloomed when we brought Larkyn home...they have a special place in my heart.

9.  Our (now deceased) neighbor planted our big maple in the backyard where Larkyn swings. He and our original owner built their homes together and Carl lived in his until he died 2 years ago. He was such a gentleman and lived quite the life of a local celebrity.

10. The Terminix man (who came to get me to spend money) assures me that there are mice in the attic. And dead birds. I think he was hoping I'd just believe him and want to spend hundreds to have them removed. I half didn't believe him/half didn't really care because that is like the last thing on my house to-do list. I know, awful.

11. We can walk to Walgreens! I know because I tried it yesterday. I regretted it about halfway there because I didn't realize it was so hot. But across from Walgreens is a shopping center with Macy's, restaurants, and our grocery store. Maybe if we walk to those, we won't spend as much or at least not have shopping guilt because we walked?

12. When choosing paint colors, my inspiration was this room. I mean, we went all the way down to the red sofa and identical artwork. Well. when YHL suggests something, I listen. Let's just say Benjamin Moore Westminster Gold 200 does not look like this at all in our house. It is very "sunny" and if I didn't hate painting so much, I'd give it a nice coat of light greige.




 13. I am out of facts. But thoughts? There are a lot of things to which I am emotionally attached in this house. The built-ins my dad made, Larkyn's nursery, the backyard. What do you love about your house?


Thanks, dad! And oh yeah, we like colorful paint in this house.

Wednesday in pictures

I have a lot of catching up to do on pictures, so brace yourselves...

Check it off the summer list...date with daddy to the playground. I'm not sure who had more fun!
My first try printing instagrams at McAlisters...helping me unpack from vacation...tan baby...playing with new toys like the amazing singing mailbox...hanging out at Firefly Play Cafe...Big Hank at the zoo (largest in North America!)...Kitty sunbathing...Clintonville Farmer's Market...Zero entry pool (awesome--thanks for the playdate, Amber!)

Chillin' on the couch and noticing her cute hands...Ice cream date with grandma, who is lucky enough to live so close to Jeni's (ahem, first time with sprinkles!)...Climbing on everything at our first visit to COSI (Thanks, Alyson!)
Check it off the list too: breakfast at a new place (Der Dutchman) with Julie. Yes, we drove a buggy all the way to Plain City!

Still to complete: new playground, the Michigan race, lunch with Nana, swimming once more, and a new ice cream place.

Do they make a pill for this?

For Post-Olympic Withdrawal Syndrome? Because I have it. And the closing ceremony isn't even over.

Today, I was actually upset that I missed a basketball game. That is not normal for me. Anyway, I just have to write one more post about this London experience that I apparently thought I actually lived.

What were your favorite moments? And favorite people? Did anything make you cry (Aly Raisman, anyone?)

Here were my top Olympic moments this year (and these ARE in order!)

1. The womens gymnastics team winning the Team Gold (referenced twice already, I believe). The whole thing...every time we nailed something and the sourpuss Russian girls stomped away...the floor routines...McKayla's vault...

2.  OMG, everything Jordyn Wieber. Enough said.

3. Gabby Douglas winning the All-Around gold. Girl pulled it together even though everyone doubted her!!  Hooray for the first African American gold medalist.  She is adorable and gracious.
You know that cereal box is going to be in my cabinet. Why couldn't it be Fruity Pebbles?

4. Missy Franklin's first gold and basically every time she entered the arena. She shows that you can be bubbly and kick butt. I like to think that we share that quality, but I'm old and stopped swimming lessons before she was born.

5. I thought I was sick of Michael Phelps, but he really is impressive isn't he? My favorite swim was the relay where he won the medal that made him the most decorated Olympian of all time. It was interesting to see him not win a few times too--he is human and I am glad he admitted that it reflected the training that he put into it. Do you think he will come back for Rio?

6. There were a few Un-American moments when I cheered for the Brits. Mo Farrah was pretty inspiring with his first gold (and then a second!) for Britain in the 10k and 5k. Loved seeing the hometown crowd rock the place for 30 minutes while he ran as well as him celebrating with his American training parter, Galen Rupp.
LOVE it. Sorry Usain, this is how you react and get noticed by me. Not by saying you're "de best all day every day."

7. David Boudia coming all the way from the bottom one night and saying "I can only go up from here!" and then winning the gold in platform diving the next night. Boo-ya.

8. How bout the US women's track team?! We loved watching Allison, Sanya, Carmelita (awesome name alert), and Dee Dee come out and smash records every time they set foot on that track. Did you know that this was Allison's third try at the Olympics before she medaled?
from hellobeautiful.com  Um, how about hello 24 pack?

9. I fell in love with beach volleyball this year, and of course followed Misty and Kerri's every set. I loved the team dynamic and the support they give each other. Not gonna lie, I kind of want to be the third BFF in that pair.

10. Oscar Pistorius. You rock.
from stockportrait.com

London, you've been good. Thank you for filling my TV, for providing Larkyn with ample moments to applaud, for letting me stay up hours later than I ever do, and for just making me feel good about humanity. It's a little bit of denial before the election goes into full swing, school starts up, and life gets crazy again. See you in Sochi. *you're welcome--I didn't know where it was either*
  

Currently...

Loving: double chocolate chip muffins from Batter & Bowl...Larkyn's new habit of fake laughing whenever anyone else laughs (on TV, at a table next to us, anyone)...This weather! I saw someone wearing a North Face at the Farmer's Market, which was kinda ridic, but I guess she wasn't that far off!
Love you, Farmers Market!

Thinking about: Having a Stella and Dot party soon. What do you think?

Sick of: Anything with mustaches on it or "Keep Calm and..." Sorry to ruin the fun, and please carry on with your mustaches, I just don't get it.
picture (before I defaced it) from growninsouthernground.wordpress.com

Anticipating:  Traveling to Michigan International Speedway for the NASCAR race on Sunday! I had so much fun at the Charlotte one and am hoping its Carl's turn to win this season.

Dreading: Going back to school to start setting up the room on Saturday. Thank you Auntie Kate for watching Larkyn while I do this. I love meeting the kids and having a whole new group  of little friends, but I wish I could outsource the room set-up:)

Watching: Tonight, the closing ceremonies for the Olympics (aka: TV depression begins)

Linking up at sunnywithachanceofsprinkles

Summer List

I'm getting that feeling that I really can't describe. It comes mid-August every year, and is followed by my return to work and leaving the bliss of summer. I have about 8 days left to accomplish some very important tasks. Now, who's coming with us?

Foodie Friday: No Fail No-Bakes

Hello, gorgeous

This week, I was all ready to make this cool instagram frame I pinned:
From aewilkinsonfamily.blogspot.com 
Well, here's mine:
Yes that is a leaf on the left, because it is outside. Outside where all my ruined projects go to get rained on and die again. My relationship with spray paint is not a good one.

I believe people call that a Pinterest FAIL. I will let you know when I (Matt) actually create the item above. Immediately following my failure, I did what any girl would do: console myself with chocolate. Specifically, a recipe that never fails and never requires a grocery trip.

I now introduce you to the easiest recipe. So easy that I am copying and pasting it from its source without any changes!

No Fail No-Bakes
from allrecipes.com
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use Madagascar vanilla bean paste in everything-amazing!)
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes (I seriously set the timer on my phone and do not go a second over or under. This is the key or they will crumble or be drippy). Remove from heat, and stir in peanut butter, oats, and vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. Let cool until hardened.

(fixed!) One year birthday video


Larkyn's First Year from stacie troutman on Vimeo.

Well I know it is a little late, but I thought maybe you'd enjoy the one year video I made and showed at Larkyn's birthday party. Since Youtube didn't approve the video (the nerve!), I had to use Vimeo, which is slower to start. Give it a minute and then move the progress bar just a bit to get it started. But don't miss the beginning! The password is larkyn.

You can also try this link to watch it!

A video for dad on his birthday

My dad is 87 today. 87! That means he has been witness to a lot in this world. Lots of good, lots of bad. He has so many stories to tell...about growing up on a farm on a road named for our family...about driving the school bus full of his classmates to school...going off to war...working for the Border Patrol...working for the Postal Service on a train...becoming a business man...and raising 3 kids.

This is a story about someone else' s dad, but reminds me of my own. I'll keep it short today. This video pretty much sums it up. Thanks Dad, for always being there.

Thursday 13: Did you know?

1. That I haven't dried/straightened my hair in 3 weeks? At the beach, flat and sleek hair is not happening. Back in Ohio...I suppose I just like having 20 extra minutes to my day.

2. That Larkyn is rocking the baby "flip" in the back of her hair?  Matt calls it a mullet, but it's the same length all around...which isn't a mullet, right?

3. That 3 men referred to said gorgeous baby as a boy today? One asked "Do you want a regular cart or does he want one with a race car?", the other "How old is he?" and the last "Wow! He's really in to that wagon ride!" Pay attention men: never assume the gender because you will undoubtedly be wrong and piss me off.

4. That if, given the opportunity, I would eat the whole box of powdered mac & cheese by myself?

5. That I wish I didn't like the way Starbucks tastes? But I just love it and unfortunately have lived less than a mile away from a drive-thru Starbucks at my last two homes.
This is the only caffeine I drink. Tall skinny mocha with whip. Wonderyearsof2.blogspot.com

6. That if my parents moved down south, we would be right behind them?

7. That I wish I knew how to speak Spanish? I want to be the person who helps a stranger by translating or at least help my Spanish-speaking students when they don't understand. In that case, Japanese would be helpful too!

8. That I have recently had some close encounters with wild animals lately? While on the swingset the backs up the marsh of Middle Island, a fox ran up to us. He stopped. We had a stare-off, and he trotted away. Then yesterday, Julie was with us at the Kangaroo exhibit at the zoo. Supposedly, they stay on the grass behind a single rope and you stay on the sidewalk (because they can't jump or anything). All of a sudden, a zoo-worker came marching toward us, saying "Ladies, please move out of the way, please don't touch the animal!" The kangaroo, named Caroline, was on the sidewalk right behind us, ready to become part of our group.

9. That Matt and I have known each other since we were in second grade?

10. That I wish I could be a stay at home mom? I love my job and it is a great job for moms, but I don't want to miss a minute of my girl.

11. That the thought of putting $20 into a slot machine and losing it makes me want to throw up? Our first casino just opened in Columbus and I'm not sure I can handle it.

12. That I am so bad at math that its embarassing? For a good portion of this viral video, I had no idea what the problem was...


13. That we may have 6 beings living under one 926 sf roof, but I wouldn't have it any other way? I always think of this old school country song when I feel a little cramped. Great hair, everyone.

Dear Baby: Olympic version

Well I mentioned yesterday that I am slightly obsessed with the Olympics. I tend to get a little wrapped up and am already a sucker for comeback and redemption. So, combine that with the fierce love I have for baby girl, and you've got one emotional post. Just prefacing...

Dear Larkyn,

Did you know that I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast one day? I know. I can't picture it either. Oh, and an Olympic ice skater. Just ask Nana and Paw Paw; they paid for the lessons and leotards. I used to watch those young athletes fly across the screen and then stand on the podium with their shiny medals and grateful smiles. I did not understand everything that went into that moment, when the world adored them and they could call themselves Olympic medalists.
Maybe they saw a future in the balance beam? I can't believe the camera was located and a photo was taken before swooping me to safety.
Well, the ice skating and gymnastics lessons only lasted a year or so. I realized that I wasn't crazy about either, and then I moved on to synchronized swimming and later, horseback riding, lacrosse, and field hockey. I stuck with riding and lacrosse for several years, and only stopped riding when it became too much to keep horses and play a varsity sport. I chose lacrosse and consider it one of the major influences on my life. I realized what it was to be on a team. To have people count on you, to pour all your energy into something and sometimes not have it pay off. To have people cheering for you, to have people angry when you make a mistake that costs the team.

You are too young to choose a sport, and I expect that we will on many different options, just like mama. My hope is that you find your way to a sport that makes you feel the way that horseback riding and lacrosse made me feel.
Beach volleyball maybe? We better relocate.

I wish you were old enough to have watched last night's Womens Gymnastics Final. My lesson for you was right there, in those two hours of incredible athleticism and heart.
photo from magmire.com
You see, two days before, this young lady had her heart broken. She spent her whole life training for something that she missed by a painfully close margin. She was favored by the commentators, she was on commercials and talk shows, and everyone just knew she would bring home the All Around Gold for herself and her country. But Larky, sometimes you will train, you will practice, you will do everything right, only to have someone else be just a little bit better that day. You will feel like everything you did was wasted and that your heart will never recover. But....
facebook.com
You wake up the next day and you will move on. Nana used to always tell me, "this too shall pass", because her daddy told her that. Someone must have told Miss Jordyn that, because she came out in the next competition, which was not for herself, and showed the world what she was made of.  To do THIS (I'm waiting for a video to be available!!) with an unclear mind and a broken heart would be impossible. She put her sorrow aside and used the strength of her amazing teammates, support system, and her own courage, to fight for her team gold medal.

photo from bloomberg.com

They all did. I want you to look up to and aspire to be great like these girls. They are classy, they fight, and they supported each other on the biggest stage in the world.

And I promise I will not be a lunatic mom in the stands. I will not say that you have to keep swimming so that we can vacation in Rio (Ahem, Debbie Phelps and your gigantic necklaces). I will be like these moms, who do laundry and make eggs. How's that?
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