Thursday, April 9, 2015

Spring Break

Know what's really awful, but at the same time, pretty awesome when you're kids go to school?  Spring break!  Or really any break that forces me to take a vacation from work even if I don't have an actual vacation planned.

Is it a pain?  Yes, because vacation days are super valuable to me.  I love days that I don't have to go to work but I still get paid.  It's my goal in life to figure out how to make that a full time gig!

But, because I hoard them and don't ever want to use them unless I am actually doing something fun, I never just take days off.  School breaks force me to take time off.  Weeks at a time off.  And it's SPRING!!!  Spring break is like a gazillion times better than winter break.

So since I had a whole week off I felt like I needed to do something.  One problem...totally broke.  So what's almost free and kind of like a vacation?

My sister's house!!!  Anything that takes me away from my crap hole town house and the DC suburbs is a vacation in my book.  So Wednesday morning I packed up the kids and the car and headed south to my sister's house.  Clif would fly down Friday to join us for the Easter weekend.

My kids love a picnic, so first money saving vacation idea...picnic at a rest area.  It was a win-win.  I wouldn't have to deal with my three hyped kids in a restaurant, they could run around outside, we wouldn't have to eat any fast food, and I wouldn't have to pay for said food.

So I packed a cooler and planned on stopping around Richmond.  Guess what, there are no rest stops near Richmond.  Actually, if you're on 95 South in Virginia and you pass the rest stop that is just between Fredericksburg and Kings Dominion because it's only 11AM, and you're only an hour into your trip, and you know your kids will just be hungry again near Richmond...well then get ready to wait it out.  There are zero rest stops between that one and the North Carolina border.  Believe me, I looked.

That means around 1:30, we stopped to have lunch.  There was a lot of complaining in the car, but once we stopped and set up our picnic Mommy was forgiven for trying to starve her poor, neglected children.

Seriously, other than the slight timing snafu...this was the most amazing idea ever!!!  See, going on any type of road trip with kids means that you're guaranteed to add an hour or two to your arrival time.  Someone always has to pee, some one's always hungry, and they are miserable in the car.  So having a wide open space to let them run, easy access to a bathroom, and plenty of picnic snacks was a dream.  It does take some extra prep time, but I will definitely be doing this more often during nice warm months.

We spent the next few days doing the most kid friendly activities ever.  This was totally normal for me.  I'm used to spending all my free time at playgrounds and petting zoos and farms and kids concerts.  It was new for my sister who only has one baby and last year when the weather turned warm he was still a bitty baby.

We went to playgrounds.

We rode bikes...and Freddie is totally solid on his now.  Balance bike...get one for your toddler.  Amazing the difference between teaching him and Ainsley to ride.

We went to a farm with goats.

We rode trains.

It was a lot of fun.  Exhausting, but the kids had a blast and I was happy to be away from home and spending time with my sister.

We spent Easter morning there and then packed up to head home so I could return to work the next day.  Amazingly, and for the first time ever, we managed to get the car packed and everyone in it well before lunch time.  We figured we could stop for lunch in a couple of hours and be half way home.

And then...


We popped our front tire when we swung around and hit the drain grate on the curb.  And when I say popped, I mean POPPED!!!  It was like a sound I've never heard.  And it happened right there, in front of my sister's house.

Suddenly my almost free vacation became really expensive.

Also remember, Easter there were not very many places open and we did  not have a full size spare.  No way we could drive all the way home on 95 with the donut spare.

We did find a place.  If you're wondering, Walmart service center is always open.

Also, just in case you didn't know, you shouldn't ever buy just one tire.  I even talked to my mechanic, not-looking-to-screw-me brother about it and he suggested I absolutely not buy just one tire.  Buy two. The silver lining there is in about 30,000 miles, I'll only need to buy two more and not all four.  So there's that.

So two brand new tires, a lunch at Ruby Tuesday's (in the Walmart parking lot), and 4 hours after we "left" my sister's...we were on our way home.  And my plan of being home by early-mid afternoon, before dinner...became my plan to try to get home before bedtime.  

All in all it was a great spring break and we learned once again that the universe is just so funny.  I have a lot of other words for what the universe is, but I don't talk like public.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Three Months

So I'm not going to write about my kids today.  Today's post is about me.  So you can stop reading now if you came here for cute pictures.  No pics today.

Three months ago was Christmas.  And a few weeks before Christmas I decided that I just was not happy with my overall health.  I wasn't sick.  I just felt down about the way I looked and the way I felt.  I wrote in one post that I was the heaviest I had ever been, not pregnant.

I had tried and failed on multiple occasions since Cohen was born to get myself exercising and eating right.  It was just so hard to get myself off on the right foot.  Though I felt like my eating was better than average, I just couldn't overcome the bad things I ate because I couldn't find the time to exercise.

So I was trying through the holidays to make better decisions with food and to walk more.  Then for Christmas, Clif gave me a Jawbone UP24 band.  It's a fitness tracker, like a Fitbit.  On December 26th I activated mine and it has given me just the kick in the ass I needed.

Since Christmas the following has happened...

- My clothes aren't tight anymore
- Yesterday I fit into a pair of jeans that I bought when I was training for my half marathon, when I was at my lightest since...I don't know since
- I've lost 14 pounds
- I exercise at least 4 times a week
- I'm eating healthier than I ever have
- I've only had 3 diet sodas
- I rarely eat out
- For the first time in a long time, I am seeing changes in my body and it's not due to another human being growing inside my abdomen

How did I do it?  How has it stuck for three months this time?  How have I not given in like I always do?  Well...I'm not really sure.  I know this.  I know that I was tired of feeling so sluggish and blah with myself.  I know that I am a huge data geek and I love any kind of real data.  Real numbers spit out right in front of me.  I know that I had to change the way I think about lots of things.

But I can't point to one thing that has made it stick this time.  The fitness tracker has been awesome.  Knowing that I'm going to put everything I put in my mouth into an app and it's going to call me out for eating crap has been a huge motivating factor.  Watching my step number go up every time I take a flight of stairs or walk around my office floor has also helped.  I love that it's this real time analysis of my calories in and out and at any time I can look at it and see if I can eat that piece of birthday cake.

It also made me realize how sedentary my life is.  I mean, I kind of knew.  I sit at a desk all day.  But guess what?  The days that I don't go to work, I am even more of a slug.  For instance, right now, I'm working from home.  I haven't taken nearly the number of steps I take while I'm in my office.  Normally, by noon I've hit 4-5000 steps.  Right now, I'm under 2000.  Guess what that tells me?  I need to fit the gym in today.

Speaking of the gym...oof.  It is not easy.  I had to come to the realization that I'm never going to consistently make it out to exercise after Clif gets home from work.  So, I'm doing it in the morning.  Now, I am a morning person and I love to get it done in the morning.  However, I have to be at work at 7.  I have 45-60 minutes of commute time.  It takes me about 45 minutes to get ready.  That means, usually, I get up around 5:20 to make it to work on time.  Not anymore.  Now, I'm getting up at 4:45 and I can really only get in about 25-35 minutes of exercise before I have to shower and get ready at the gym and leave by 6:20 at the absolute latest.  And I had to cut a bunch of getting ready time.  Hair...spritzed with leave in conditioner and left to air dry.  Makeup...bronzer and mascara.  Boom...done.  I also had to pack up the night before.  So my clothes were picked out and there is no searching through closets or laundry baskets at 6am before I rush out the door.

Also the night before...I pack my lunch.  And it's not just my lunch, it's the food I'll eat all day with the exception of dinner.  I barely buy meat.  And I've really started cutting back on the dairy as well.  Now I spend most of my grocery money on fruits, vegetables, and nuts that I can snack on all day.  I can't remember the last time I bought lunch out while I was at work.

Something that definitely shifted, other than my movement and my eating...the way I think about things.  In the past, I would start this healthy journey and then a day or two in, I'd have a cookie or a piece of candy and then I'd just blow it.  I'd think, "Well, I already screwed up my day...why stop now?"  Sure I'll eat that burger, and fries, and drink that Coke, and why not have some ice cream.

Now, I have a new mantra.  Actually, I have a few...
Everything is temporary.
This too shall pass.
One stumble does not make me a failure.
Next week, tomorrow, or this afternoon is a brand new time to make the best decisions I can.

I've had my bad days.  I've had days where I can't stand to say these things to myself.  But overall, this switch is happening in my brain and I'm believing it.

I still have a long way to go to get to where I believe is my healthiest self.  I still love sugar.  Still have a hard time passing up chocolate and cookies.  I still love to veg out in front of the TV.  Still love to be lazy.  Still love to waste time on Facebook and email.  But now, I have this little wristband that buzzes me if I'm on my arse too long.  And I absolutely make sure I'm entering everything I eat.  So technology is holding me accountable, and for now, it's working.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Monster Turns 5

Dear Freddie,

Well, it's here.  You are officially 5.  You've been waiting so long for this day.  I feel like you've been asking me when you would be 5 since last spring.  I would tell you and you would pout and say "ohhhh...that's soooo far!"

But just like everything that we wait so long for, and dream about, and anxiously happened and now it's already over and you are 5.

We had an awesome day yesterday.  We went to the trampoline park, we played video games, we went bowling, we ate pizza, we played more video game.  We had a Freddie day through and through.

Lately, I look at you and can't believe how tall and thin you are.  How much your face has changed into that of a little boy.  How your limbs have grown.  How your little belly that used to stick out over everything is so tiny and tight.  How you are such a little kid now?  When did that happen?  It's like I went to sleep with a baby and woke up with a kid.  I feel like I can't remember it happening, it was that fast.

You still talk the same.  You have the same voice that you did when you were screaming at just minutes old.  This rough, raspy, boy voice.  I love it.  I love the way you say things.  All the big words that you can't quite wrap your tongue around.  Like Mamerican Falcon (Millennium Falcon) and eledator (elevator) and axshuly (actually).  I never correct you.  I hope you hold on to those cute little words for awhile.  I know from your sister that they'll fade on their own.

You are so passionate and emotional.  You cry the hardest and laugh the loudest of anyone I know.  And your heart is just bursting with love.  You attack people in hugs.  You walk by me or daddy or your siblings and just kiss whatever is easiest to reach.  It can be a toe or a shirt or hair.  Doesn't matter.

Five is a big year.  A lot will happen this year.  A lot will change.  You will grow and learn and change in ways that none of us will see coming.  Some of it will be hard.  Some of it will be awesome.  But I promise it will all be worth it.

Happy Birthday Fredders.  Love,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Veggie Stuffed Crescent Rolls

Two of my three children are not very picky eaters.  Ainsley will try anything.  There are core items that she doesn't like...for one...Berries.  Drives me crazy that she doesn't like berries.  But for the most part, she eats what I make except for the rare occasion that I try something crazy and it doesn't sit well with her.  But she always takes a bite.

Cohen will eat anything.  Period.  Even if he tries it and spits it out, he'll usually take another bite.

Then there's Freddie.

Every night Freddie comes to the table and starts crying "Ugh!  I don't like this.  I want peanut butter and jelly.  Why do you always make things I don't like?"

Well, if I only made things Freddie liked, we'd all be malnourished.

So every night we have to fight with him to get him to eat.  To try anything on his plate.  I thought it was a phase but it's been going on for years.  I've tried everything...unless you have some new ideas, then please feel free to share.  I add veggies to things he likes...he picks them out.  I put my foot down and refuse to give him anything except what's on  his plate...he cries and goes to bed hungry.  I agree to make him something different...he eats PB&J 5 nights straight.

Recently I have implemented a system where I tell  him what we're eating all week and he can switch one meal for PB&J.

So coming up with healthy, inexpensive food that everyone - Freddie - will eat is no easy task.  We don't eat a lot of meat anymore...probably twice a week.  So I am often trying to come up with vegetable and bean recipes to keep us satisfied.  I make veggie quesadillas, veggie stir fry, roasted veggies with pasta...but no matter what, Freddie hates it and refuses to touch anything that resembles a vegetable on his plate.  The only way to get him to try a bite of broccoli or carrots is to promise dessert, which I feel is doing the opposite of what I'm trying to accomplish.

Last night I came up with a winner, I think.  He still complained, but he did eat all but two bites on his plate.

So, I present to all you moms out there with picky eaters...Veggie Stuffed Crescent Rolls.

Okay my kids love Crescent Rolls.  Like will eat them always if I allow it, and I know they are not the best for you but guess what I found...

I about did back flips down the aisle at the grocery store when I made this discovery.  So here's my little philosophy on food.  I don't want a bunch of chemicals and unnatural crap in my food.  I truly believe this is the worst thing we can do to ourselves.  I can't always afford organic.  I don't have a sugar free house.  But whenever possible, I shop with grocers I trust and look for things that are not tainted.  This is a good seal to have in my book.

So instead of buying Pillsbury crescent rolls with high fructose corn syrup and a bunch of other things I can't pronounce...I bought these.  Are they healthy?  Not exactly, but at least I'm not putting junk that was thought up in a lab by some multi-billionaire into our bodies.

Okay, back to the recipe and off my soap box.  I had broccoli and carrots so I cut them up and threw them in a pot with garlic and salt for steaming.

Then I laid out the crescent rolls so they'd be ready for the veggies.

When the broccoli and carrots where done, I mixed them with some white navy beans and mozzarella cheese.  The vegetables were soft so as I mixed they kind of mashed and chopped up, which was good so they'd fit in the crescent rolls.

I then put a little less than a quarter cup of the mixture and rolled them up.  You can't really roll them like traditional crescent rolls, you have to fold the sides up so you have little puffs.

I then put them in the preheated oven (350) for about 18 minutes or until they were cooked through and browned.

Like I said, Freddie complained...a lot...but he did eat most of his food.  Ainsley and Cohen both had seconds.  I thought they were delicious.  Clif liked them but thought maybe I should add chicken.  Kind of defeats the purpose babe!  

Should have taken a picture of the kids eating them, but hey...I'm not a food blogger.  I don't think of these things.

Veggie Stuffed Crescent Rolls
-2.5 cups veggies of your choice (I used broccoli and carrots)
-2 cloves Garlic
-1 tsp Sea Salt
-2 cans of crescent rolls
-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-1 can beans of your choice (I used white cannellini beans)

Preheat oven to 350.  Roast or steam veggies with garlic and salt.  Lay out crescent rolls.  When vegetables are steamed and becoming soft, mix them up with beans and cheese.  Place about a quarter cup, maybe a little less, of mixture on each roll.  Roll up being sure to close the edges.  Bake in preheated oven for about 18 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Sleep Issues That Weren't

You may remember our sleep issues with Ainsley.  I may have written about it a time or two...okay maybe three times.

Well, we have basically the same sleep issues with Cohen.  He has to be rocked to sleep, he wakes up in the middle of the night, he comes to bed with me.  Same story, different kid.

But there is something different.  Big time different.  Me.  And probably Clif too.

Poor Ainsley.  She's our guinea pig kid.  I'm really glad she's so laid back and perky, because I definitely would have turned that kid into an anxious mess if she just had one ounce of stress in her little body.

It dawned on me yesterday that I don't even consider having sleep issues with Cohen.  He gets put to bed, he wakes up, we bring him to our bed.  No big deal.  But yesterday, I was browsing pinterest and I saw a few pins for fixing sleep issues in toddlers.  At first I didn't even notice them because they weren't recipes or organizational tips or ways to improve my finances.  But then there were quite a few, so finally I clicked one.

How to get your toddler to sleep through the night.

Well, my toddler does not sleep through the night, so maybe I should read this.  I couldn't even make it through the first paragraph.  Because know what?  I don't care if he doesn't sleep through the night.

Let me tell you the tiniest of secrets.  Ready?  You can't tell anyone, especially my husband.

I kind of like sleeping with my kids.

So when I put the kids to bed, I snuggle between them.  (Side note: Yes they have separate beds but they choose to sleep together.)  And sometimes when I snuggle between them, I let myself drift off, and I always wish that I had nothing left to do so I could stay there.  When I go upstairs at night, I always check in on them and sometimes I push one of them over and get in bed with them for a bit.  When I finally do make it to my bed, I fall asleep thinking that Cohen will be cuddled up with me in a few hours.

So what does that mean?  All that angst and worry and craziness over Ainsley's sleeping habits...what a freaking waste of time!  We should all really have our third kid first.  Or at least be the parent to our first kid that we are to our third.

I started reading that article and in the first few lines it told me that I shouldn't rock my babies or comfort them in the middle of the night or nurse back to sleep or any of the things that I do on the regular.  No thank you!  I'll take a few years of sleep deprivation in exchange for all that quiet warmth that comes from holding a baby in the wee hours.  I wouldn't change a moment of it.

My mom always says "I'll sleep when I'm dead."

And while I'm here, living, I'll just buy a bigger bed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

$h!tt% Story About My $h!tt% Neighbor

I have to write this down and put it out there.  It's seriously just driving me crazy.  So I'm sorry for the $h!tt% post, I'll be back to my normal, sunshiny self in no time.

So we live in a town house.  A very small town house that has basically no yard.  There is about 3 feet of grass between our steps and the sidewalk, so I guess that is something.

There are lots of dogs in our neighborhood.  There are rules about cleaning up after your dog and in our almost 3 years we have not had much issue with it.  That is until about 4 months ago.  Now, I come home everyday to a new pile of dog $h!t in my tiny little yard.  And it's little dog $h!t.  So I know it's got to be a dog in the small to medium range.

My kids step in it.  My kids ride their bikes through it.  It's disgusting and it has made me hate every neighbor with a certain sized dog.

Also, there is always dog $h!t on the sidewalks.  Like right in the middle of the freaking sidewalk, not off to the side where maybe the dog $h!t and walked, but just squat down right there in every one's freaking way.

We have our suspicions to who the culprits are.

#1 - There is woman who moved in with her son and his family last fall.  She walks her small dog back and forth in front of our town house row about 781 times a day.

#2 - A couple moved in late last fall and have a terrier sized dog and a huge dog.

Clif and I have witnessed both of these suspects not clean up their dog's $h!t.  Not necessarily in our yard, but around.

So yesterday I arrived at home about 20 minutes before the bus was set to arrive, so I ran in the house and did some laundry and had a snack.  While I was in the kitchen my dogs started getting all bajiggity, which they do all the time because other dogs are walking just 3-4 feet from them, on the sidewalk.

As I was telling them to calm down I noticed a movement out the window, so I peeked through the blinds.  The old woman was there with her little dog and the dog was $h!tt!n& on my sidewalk.  The sidewalk that leads to my stairs.  So I watched.

The dog finished.  The woman reached down and grabbed a handful of snow.  She then proceeded to wipe the dog $h!t off of my sidewalk into my yard with the snow in her bare hand.  So I opened the door.

Now, let me say that I think this lady may be crazy.  She mumbles and talks to herself or her dog or someone the entire time she's walking him.  And she will never acknowledge me when I say hello.  Also, she doesn't walk great, so I kind of gave her a pass.  Thought maybe she couldn't bend over very well.  But there she was bending over to wipe the $h!t off my sidewalk!

So again...I opened the door and she looked right at me and there was that moment of realization.  The "Oh $h!t, I've been caught" moment.

I said "Hi."

She said "It's so cold, don't think it will ever warm up." AND WALKED AWAY!!!

Walked away to the end of the sidewalk where she BENT OVER and picked up more snow to clean of her $h!t covered hand.

I was BOILING.  So mad that I couldn't contain myself, so I knew I had to walk away or I was going to be screaming in this old woman's face.

I thought about it all afternoon.  So mad at myself for not saying anything.  Just letting her walk away.  My only hope is now she knows that I know.  Maybe it will change her behavior, but seriously who does this $h!t in the first place?  Probably won't change a thing.

I came home last night from walking my dogs and picking up their $h!t, with a bag, not my a normal human and I saw it.  Those two little pieces of dog $h!t, right there next to my sidewalk with the dog $h!t smear on it.  It was just mocking me.  So I did what any grown adult would do.  I picked it up with my shovel and deposited it in the old woman's yard.

I'm mature and $h!t like that.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sweetest Thing

Do you remember this guy?

This weekend, Clif added pictures to an old folder on Facebook.  So this was in my feed yesterday.  I told Clif that I thought I might cry, because here he is last week...

And I just got his Kindergarten registration packet.  And he went to his first friend birthday party.  And I put away all his 4T clothes.  And he's just so big.  My little, chubby, love monster is growing up so fast.  I can't believe it.

Freddie will by 5 in about 3 weeks.  Five.  That's such a monumental age.  Everything changes at 5.  They officially become kids at 5.  No more toddler or preschooler references.  Five is big time.  Freddie can't wait to be 5.  He can't wait for Kindergarten.

Freddie rarely gets all my attention.  In fact, if you scroll through my pictures on my phone...there aren't many of him.  At least not by himself.  In my defense, part of that is because he is such a monster and it is rare that he'll sit and take a picture.

So last week, when everything was shut down for snow, and Ainsley was at a neighbor's and Daddy was putting Cohen down for a nap, Freddie and I made cookies.

Have I mentioned my baking prowess?  No?  That's because it doesn't exist.  I'm a terrible baker and I don't really enjoy it.  It's such a mess and then I'm left with all these sugary, bread-y, treats that I shouldn't eat but want to eat and it's just bad.

But when you just have one kid and his sister is making cupcakes at a friend's and he's never baked cookies all by himself with you, well you just suck it up and destroy the kitchen you just cleaned...and mopped, by the way!

Freddie kept asking "Can I add the egg?"  "Can I do the sugar?"  And I kept saying yes, you get to do it all.  He was so excited.  He's never known a life where sharing doesn't exist, where he gets all the things or all the tasks, all to himself.

So he cracked eggs and poured milk and measured sugar.

And ate a lot of cookie dough.  All by himself.

We made peanut butter cookies and pressed Reese's peanut butter hearts into them.  I was low on chocolate chips and we only had heart shaped PB cups.  It's very fitting though.  Freddie is so full of love and emotion.  You don't think that when you meet him.  He can be a little rough around the edges.  But he loves so completely.  He feels all the emotions to the fullest extent.

Plus when you press the chocolate into the hot cookie, it melts, and he definitely melts my heart.  

Side note...this cookie is atrocious!  Terrible baker.

Yesterday while at a birthday party, he had a hard time joining the group.  He wanted me to play with him.  When he finally did participate, he and a bunch of boys were running around with light sabers and pretending to be Jedi.  But every time he caught my eye, he'd stop and blow me a kiss.  Or he'd run back up the stairs and give me a hug.  

He is all heart.

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