The best Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Dough Mixes

It’s Christmas cookie time!  One of my all-time favorites for the holidays is sugar cookies with homemade buttercream frosting.  Making and decorating sugar cookie cut-outs was a major events at my parent’s house while we were growing up.  It was a several hours process that including made-from-scratch dough from the recipe card called “Judy’s Sugar Cookies”.  After chilling the dough, we’d roll them out and use the pile of cookie cutters my mom has to make snowflakes, Christmas tress, stars, gifts, Santas, stockings, angels, and just about any other Christmas shape you can think of.  We made batches and batches of them – we have a big family, so a couple of dozen wouldn’t cut it.

Then came the decorating.  This was serious business and entailed pounds of homemade buttercream frosting in every color we needed, plus sprinkles where appropriate.  Please don’t use canned frosting, ever.  It’s gross, and homemade buttercream takes about 5 minutes to make using a stand or hand mixer.  We never really used a recipe for the frosting, but the one of the box or bag of powdered sugar works fine, and the Domino’s Buttercream Frosting recipe is a good one to use.  We were not professional decorators in any way, but we were detailed until the last couple of dozen – those ones just got spread with whatever color was left because we were tired of decorating.  By the end, the thought of frosting would make us a little sick (from too many tastes), until at least the next day.

Being the youngest, eventually my sisters had moved out or were working, so I had less help.  In high school, friends came to help on occasion, and we’d decorate the gingerbread people to look like people we knew.  When I moved out, I continued making sugar cookies each year, and occasionally for other holidays (Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, Steeler’s Superbowls, Halloween, etc).  I didn’t have a stand mixer, so I stopped making them from scratch and would use Betty Crocker cookie pouches.  Everyone loved them and didn’t seem to notice they weren’t homemade.  I remember my mom being surprised when I told her they were just the $2 pouch mixes.

The first time I made them after I moved to Columbus with a friend, every batch came out of the oven super hard (but not burned), and I was so mad!  I remember ranting to her and saying I was going to throw them all in the trash (I had a temper issue back then).  I was determined to have sugar cookies to take home though, so I angrily left them until the next day.  I figured that if you throw enough frosting on a cookie, it would be good whether it was crunchy or soft.  The cookie is just the delivery system for the frosting anyway.  I frosted them the next evening and tried one the next day.  The frosting had softened them just enough, and they were perfect.  And I felt dumb for my fit of anger.  For the next few years, I was the main supplier of sugar cookies at my family’s Christmas, and would always take them into work.  One year I had a booze and cookies party at the apartment Lo and I shared.  The intent was for people to help make and decorate a variety of cookies so I didn’t have to do it alone.  Instead, everyone ended up mostly just drinking and entertaining me while I decorated the cookies.

Once I was gluten-free, I gave up hope of finding a substitute for a few years.  I wasn’t big on trying to bake gluten-free from scratch, and I’m still not.  I’d try a mix that I’d find here and there, and they were okay.  One year my niece was selling pre-made cookie dough for a fundraiser and shockingly they had gluten free chocolate chip and sugar cookie dough.  I bought a tub of each to freeze, and made the sugar cookie dough the following year for Christmas.  It was great – and so easy.  The cookies were a little flat (which is common with gluten-free), but tasted great.  They didn’t sell it again, so I made do with other options until I decided to track down that brand, Savory Foods, a few years ago.  While it’s mainly a fundraising brand, there is a website, Penn Street Bakery, that sells the dough online for $10-$12 for a 2 lb tub (which makes plenty), so I ordered it again that year. I’ve made sugar cookies each year since, using different kinds of mixes that I’d find through the years.  Jenson has “helped” me the past 2 years, though last year he was sick, so I only let him decorate a few “personal” cookies.

Now that gluten free diets are more common, it’s so much easier to find gluten free substitutes for almost everything.  There are plenty of gluten free sugar cookie mixes that work well, but I ordered the Savory brand dough again from Penn Street Bakery for this year.  Right now it’s $12 a tub and ships for free.  Both kids will be able to “help” me this year, and I look forward to it being a tradition every year.  I’ll list the mixes I’ve used in the past below, and please let me know if you’ve used any others!  I cannot remember the mix I used last year, but if I see it again, I’ll be sure to add it.  No matter which kind you try, if you are making roll-out sugar cookies, you’ll need some type of gluten free flour to sprinkle on the table and rolling pin to prevent sticking.  If the dough is too sticky, you may even need to work a tablespoon or two of flour into the dough to make it more firm.

Gluten free Sugar Cookie Options

Savory Sweets Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Dough via Penn Street Bakery: $12 for a 2 lb tub.  Makes 36 (10 oz) cookies, which is a big cookie, so I probably get about 4 dozen.

Immaculate Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix: $5.29 via Target, $3.98 via via Walmart.  Makes 18 cookies.

Betty Crocker Gluten-free Sugar Cookie Mix: $5.37 at Walmart. Find it in various stores and on Amazon, though the Amazon sellers have it listed at a crazy price, so I’m not even going to link to them.

Pamela’s Products Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Mix: $4.22 via Amazon. Makes 17 cookies.

gfJules Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookie Mix: $9.09 for 1 or $34.21 for 4 via Amazon. Each tin makes 36, so this is a decent deal – and gfJules stuff is ALWAYS good.

Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Dreams Sugar Cookie Mix: $6.69 via Amazon. Makes 20 cookies.

Pillsbury Gluten Free Funfetti Cookie Mix: $2-$3 in most grocery stores and Target.  This has the funfetti “chips” in the mix, but could be used for cut-out cookies.  I find it too sweet and the icing would make it even sweeter (gag), but some people love Funfetti.

From Scratch option:

Better Batter recipe – If I was going to make it from scratch, I’d probably try this Better Batter recipe, as I’ve always loved their mixes and flour.

 

 

 

Organizing photos, baby books and memories

I feel like I’m constantly behind on a million things I want to do…but maybe that’s just life with kids?  Lately I’m obsessed with wanting to write things down for my kids so they have documented memories forever.  I think a lot of it has to do with how much Marlowe is changing, and how big Jenson is getting.  Marlowe is in the stage of becoming a little girl – so verbal and discovering new things constantly – and Jenson is such a big boy now!  I’m still amazed with how his mind works and how intuitive and empathetic he is.  He’s so sweet and listens pretty well unless he and Marlowe are feeding off each other’s crazy behavior.

So anyway, time is passing by and I want to remember everything – every look, every sweet thing they say, each expression.  Impossible, but I shall try.

The easiest way for me to keep track of the small details that I’ll forget, is by jotting them down on a basic calendar hanging on the kitchen wall.  I use to write down what we have going on, plus milestones and funny things they say or do at the top on the memo lines. Some people prefer electronic calendars, but I’ve never been good at updating – even when I needed to for work.  I like this one because the top page has lines where I can write these things down.  These calendars have been instrumental in helping me fill out the books when I’m months behind!

Baby books and memories

I’ve finally completed Jenson’s pregnancy journal, baby book and caught up his birthday book.  I’ve finished Marlowe’s 1st year calendar, my pregnancy journal for her, and have nearly completed her baby book (if I get it done before age 2, I’m okay with it).  I still need to update her birthday book with her 1st birthday, though some of this is documented in her baby book. (I’ve linked to all of the various books in case you’re on the hunt)  Unfortunately I’ve fallen off track with posting monthly updates about Marlowe, like I did with Jenson’s first 2 years.  It’s a bummer because 12 months – 2 years are some of the months with the biggest changes for babies!  I hate that most baby books only go to 12 months (with 1 page for subsequent birthdays, etc).  There’s so much to document for toddler years!  Marlowe wasn’t even walking at 12 months and now she’s a rambunctious, opinionated, and sweet little girl.  There really aren’t any good “Toddler books” that capture all of the milestones, the funny things they say, special trips and holidays, etc.  Marlowe’s birthday book has a page or two where you record info from that year, so that’s better than nothing.

I have thought so much about wanting to write one, but…time.  Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out the best way to make one for my kids.  Luckily I have a great memory and between the blog, a paper calendar on which I write things, and a million photos, I’m able to remember much of Jenson’s toddler years.  I even have the plans for how I want to set one up, but just haven’t found quite the right format/book I want to use for it.  I bought a scrapbook album and am going to see if I can make that work.

Organizing photos

I actually print photos for albums because I’m a big believer in photos that you can hold.  I loved looking through photo albums growing up.  I’m not a fan of photo books because no matter how easy people say certain companies are to set up, I never find them easy – or perhaps I want things more customized/organized.  I’ve finally put their professional photos in separate albums for each of them (minus the last photo shoot), and I’m starting to sort photos and decide which ones I want to put in albums versus just keep in photo boxes.  After being obsessed with finding the “right” album I was looking for, I bought a buuuuuunch of albums at Costco when they had them on clearance for $10 for 2 albums – they are close to what I was looking for, size and format-wise, so I was pretty happy about that.  Pretty sure Lo was like ‘WTF’ when I kept bringing these home. They sell on similar ones on Amazon for about $16 for one album, so $10 for 2 couldn’t be passed up.  After I bought the first few, I ended up going back and buying all of the black ones they had left.  I’ve done a pretty good job at printing photos when I see photo sales.  I store all of my photos on my computer in individual monthly sub-folders, organized in yearly folders.  I go through and edit the ones I’m keeping (which takes the longest), and then create a subfolder labeled “print” for that month, where I copy the ones I want to print.  I try to keep it to 100 photos per month (which may seem crazy, but some months have have 800 edited photos that I keep on the computer).

Sales on photo printing sites are usually for 100 free (pay shipping) or 1-cent, 5-cent photos, etc., so sticking to that number makes it easy to print the whole month at once and keep track of what I printed.  I only print in matte (I hate glossy), so most of my orders are mail-order where matte is available (or Costco).  I typically use Shutterfly, Snapfish, York, or Amazon.  Amazon is the cheapest option if the others aren’t offering deals – shipping is free, which is where the other companies screw you.  Once I print the photos I want for that month, I change the subfolder to “printed (the month) (the company I used)”. When the photos come, I label the envelop with the month and year and put them in a storage container.  Maybe someday I’ll be caught up and can put them right into an album (hahaha).

Memory Books

I have several books that are question and answer format or prompts, etc. that are for collecting memories about my childhood, their childhood, and everything in between (I’ll list these below in case you’re looking for some good ones).  I’ve been making an effort to fill in a page here and there during nap time, otherwise they’ll never get done.

Blogging

I have over 100 posts sitting in draft form for this site – plenty of which are probably out of date and irrelevant now.  I don’t get to publish on this site nearly as much as I’d like, because I have to focus on the website that makes me a little money – Columbus on the Cheap.  Even though I’ve now failed at monthly, or even quarterly updates of the kids, I have posted a few “what we’re up to” posts in the past year that give a sense of our life.

Apps I use for memories and photos

There are plenty of apps that can help keep you keep track of memories and photos of kids.  Before you pick one, make sure you know what kind of options you have for saving the info or printing it out, as apps can disappear or change at any time.

  • Qeepsake: I get a text message everyday asking a question about Jenson or Marlowe.  These can be printed in a book that they organize, but it’s a little pricey.  You can also log in via computer to fill out the answers, and can copy and paste if you want to back these up.  To be honest, even with a text message at a time I designate, I often forget to respond (shows how much of a fan I am of texting/phones in general).  Luckily, you can go back and answer the questions you miss.  You can also text memories and photos that you want to save outside of the questions you ask, which I rarely take advantage of, but should.  This is a great option for people who are fans of texting, and receiving the daily texts are good for people who aren’t!  There is a free version, where you’ll get 1 question a week – or paid versions where you get more than that for up to $7/month.  I opted for Qeepsake plus for daily texts, but the free or less frequent ones would be sufficient for people who are good at texting in random memories and photos.
  • Recently: Similar to a photo book, this is a monthly “magazine” album that is printed from my iPhone photos for about $10/month.  You can choose 50-100 of your favorite photos for the book.  The pages are thick cardstock.  It’s a good way to keep a monthly album of what’s happening in your life.  It wouldn’t be that much more to print off 100 photos and keep them in an album, but as I know, that’s easier said than done.  I can organize and order this book in 20 minutes.

Books I have to document memories:

  • Pregnancy book for Jenson: The Belly Book  – this one is nice because it isn’t too serious and has short prompts.
  • Baby book for Jenson: My Baby Book – From the same line as the Belly Book.  Good enough prompts…short and sweet.
  • Birthday book for Jenson: Your Birthday Book – Same line as the other two and just as good.  They are all a little cheeky, but it’s better than too cheesy.

  • Toddler Memory Book for Jenson: The Next 1000 Days – I though this would be the answer to my lack of Toddler book problem, but I just don’t really like it.  I still give credit for being the only one that exists, but it could be improved greatly.  The first issue is that it starts at Year 2, even though most baby books only go until 12 months.  Its actually because they have one called The First 1000 Days as the first book you are supposed to use, and then start this one at 2 years.  Since I didn’t do that, it doesn’t quite work for me.  What I don’t like most about it is the prompts.  They are really open-ended and vague…basically just a title on the page and you add whatever you want.  For example, in Year 2, one page is called “Tractor Rides”.  It’s basically open to interpretation of what you want to include, but its too vague for me.  Do I take it literally, or do I just make something up?  Another is called “Flowers I Picked” What?  The drawn photos are kind of ugly too.  It does have some redeeming prompts – especially in the later years, but not what I’m looking for.

  • Pregnancy book for Marlowe: Pearhead Pregnancy Journal – This one is okay, though I wouldn’t pick it for a second time mom.  It asks lots of questions that aren’t really applicable for a second pregnancy – like advice from your doctor about what you should eat, etc. The second time around, things are a little different. You need less advice and kind of know what you’re doing.  It had reference pages to help you decide what you need to buy (and we already had all of that).  The questions were kind of repetitive.  It was just a little boring to me.  By the time I realized that, it seemed too late to buy a different one.

  • Baby book for Marlowe: CR Gibson First 5 Years Memory Book The 5 year thing is a little misleading, as the subsequent years after the first are really just one page around their birthday.  However, compared to other baby books, I do like the layout and the appearance.  It captures all of the right memories and allows for some additions of whatever is important to you.  I don’t love the order of pages, but that seems to be a problem with all of the books I’ve looked at.

  • Baby Calendar for Marlowe: CR Gibson First Year Calendar (pictured with her baby book above) This matches the baby book and has spaces for monthly update at the top of the calendar, stickers for milestones, firsts, holidays.  It’s a quick way to keep up with all of that stuff if you leave this hanging up somewhere you’ll see it for when you aren’t going to grab out the baby book to jot things down.  Unfortunately I didn’t have it hanging most of the time, so just had to copy the info from my regular calendar when it came down to it.
  • Birthday book for Marlowe: It’s My Birthday: A Celebration of my First 18 Years – I really hadn’t looked too much at this until recently, and I really, really like it.  It goes through age 18 (I believe) and it includes a couple of pages for each year – including info about the child, interviews with the child, etc.  Basically, it’s more complete at capturing the details past year 1 than any of the other baby books.  It’s ring bound too, so I think I could add pages if I wanted.  The pages that come are a little smaller than 8×11, so I’m not sure how it would look though.

 

  • Mommy’s 5 Second Journal: This little book has cute short prompts that take just seconds to fill out.  I just open the book and fill out whatever page I land on.

  • Letters to my Children: A friend gifted these to me – it’s a little booklet of 12 pages with prompts to write letters to your child. Each one folds up into an envelop that you date and seal with a date to be opened.  Instead of marking exact “open” dates, I write to open at specific times in their lives (“when you are starting a family” “when you need me”, etc.).  I’ve done about 3 for each of them so far.  I also have blank journals for which I have hopes of writing them other letters through the years…you know, because I don’t have enough books in which to include memories.

  • Mom, Tell me One More Story: I don’t remember how I found these books, but I love them.  There are different questions/prompts on each page that cover specific times from my life, our marriage, the kids’ lives as they grow up.  It’s pretty thorough and impressive for $12.  There are other formats too: “Dad, Tell me”, Grandparent options, Share you life with me, etc.

  • Memories from Your Mother (Paragon Books).  I picked this up at Aldi around Mother’s Day for about $7.  It has questions to answer about different parts of our life.  I haven’t really looked closely at it or written in it yet.  It appears to be out of print, but you can find it as a resell online – just make sure it’s a new copy.
  • Our Family, Past and Present Another book that I picked up at Aldi, and very similar to the one above.  They only had one of that, so I got this one too so I could fill out one for each.  I can’t find it online in a quick search though.

  • Yearly calendar from Amazon: I use to write down what we have going on, plus milestones and funny things they say or do at the top on the memo lines.  Some people prefer electronic calendars, but I’ve never been good at updating – even when I needed to for work.  I like this one because the top page has lines where I can write these things down.

Trends and sayings that I’m totally over in 2017

Social media is kind of the pits lately.  I think I would totally give it up if I didn’t need to use it so much for the blog.  Between tragedies, political garbage, and the fact that people feel like they can be just absolutely horrible when hiding behind their computer screens, it’s literally turning our world into a disaster zone.  You know how video killed the radio star (or supposedly anyway)?  Social media is killing humanity.  It’s ruining human decency, how our children are raised, and our outlook on the world.  Now bullying and ignorance is rampant, teens take 1000’s of photos of themselves daily and are constantly comparing themselves with the images and lifestyles that are projected in photos (no matter how doctored or fake these images are).  *unicorn in the photo below is not real.

Everything is FAKE!  It’s so hard to find truth in news – Tom Petty died and was alive 20 times in one day – even by major networks.  Anyone can publish anything on Facebook or Twitter, and it can get shared millions of times and distorted as truth.

I don’t know when local sites started publishing horrible AP news from other states…but I feel like it was within the last two year.  Ninety percent of the dramatic headlines on my local news facebook page are from another part of the country.  It’s complete clickbait and it just adds to so much negativity!  I don’t need to read about every tortured and abused child across the country, thinking that it happened in the local area.  Teens don’t need to see this stuff when they are on social media.

I cannot even imagine growing up with any form of social media existing.  Every mistake, every embarrassing moment can be captured by anyone with a phone and posted for the world to see.  Teens make a lot of mistakes and have tons of embarrassing moments.  That has to be damaging.  I shudder at the thought that my kids are going to go through this…its only going to get worse.

So what started off as a quick post of things that I’m over on social media, led to word vomit about how I’m actually over social media.  I only want to read about friends and families lives, and see their photos.  That’s what it started as.  I want that back.  Even if I were to unfollow every news source, it’s constantly shared in my newsfeed by others.  Unfortunately I need social media as a means of finding out about events and such to post on Columbus on the Cheap…so I cannot escape as long as I wish to continue writing.  I do however need to commit to not reading any comments on any news.  Sometimes I’m just curious, and sometimes I think there will be additional info…but it’s ruining my view on humanity and is a huge waste of my time.

Back to the plan….I’m totally over these things and words on social media (and in life, in general)

  • Comment about _____ with a gif.  Actually gif anything.  I can’t stand them, and I can’t verbalize why.  It’s probably no surprise because I don’t use emojis, and these are just a more involved version of emojis.  You know what I like?  Words.
  • Squad.  Just tired of this word.  Friends, family – your people…that’s what you have.  If you’re over 25, squad seems like such a juvenile term to use.
  • ____ goals (ie, relationship goals, friend goals, family goals, squad goals (which is the worst)…all of that.  Goals are great…but stating them in that format bugs me.  It feels like people just want to copy everyone else and what they have – there’s such an obsession with everyone else via social media and reality shows.  Be original and create the life that makes YOU happy.
  • “Adulting”,  As in “I don’t feel like adulting today”  That word makes my skin crawl.  It’s called being a grownup, and you don’t really get to take days off.  And yes, I get that everyone feels that way sometimes, but just be lazy and slack off without having to tell the world about it.  Having a cute saying for it doesn’t make it cute.
  • Snowflake.  I don’t even know who that word applies to anymore because everyone uses it in both parties.  Basically, if anyone disagrees with anything you say, just call them a snowflake because that means you win and are super mature.  I can’t handle it.  You’re unlikely to change someone’s strong opinion – especially strangers – so stop attacking each other and then calling everyone with a different opinion a snowflake.  Grow the F up.  You sound ridiculous, and like a 6 year old anytime that word comes out of your mouth.
  • Political generalizations.  Trumpettes, libtards, snowflakes…any term to lump everyone who didn’t vote for your particular presidential choice is ridiculous.  When you cast a vote, you are not locked into agreeing with every statement and every move that a particular person makes – nor do you have to attack every one on the opposing “side” (because you guys, we are sooo divided in this country that its scary).  Every democrat doesn’t want (insert blanket statement).  Every republican doesn’t want (insert blanket statement).  You know what?  Our candidates sucked.  I know that there were plenty of HC die hards, and plenty of DT enthusiasts, but the majority of people were pretty torn about the choices for a variety of reasons.  That’s probably how you end up with popular vote vs. electoral vote result that occurred.  So let’s chill out on attacking each other on a constant basis and assuming everyone who didn’t vote for your choice is looking to ruin everything about your life.  (if you got a political opinion/side out of this paragraph, you missed the point and are trying too hard to make something out of everything)

So these are the things that bug me lately.  You don’t have to agree…everyone has quirks.  If you love every single one of them, we can probably still be friends…its not that serious.  Do you like Boof’s Halloween costume?  $3 at Target.  I rarely put clothing on her, but she actually loves it.  She’ll run over and sit down in front of me.  But if I’m being honest, it’s because she knows that I’m going to take her picture and she’ll get a treat.  She’s smart.

Jenson update: 3.5 years

Remember how I was going to write Jenson’s 3 year update 6 months ago?  Well, how about 3.5 years instead, even though we are a quite a bit past that now?  I wrote an update about all of us back in March (This is us: March 2017), but I definitely want to capture some of Jenson’s past year in a post anyway.  So much has happened and he’s changed so much that I won’t capture everything in this post, but I’ll do my best.

I’m not going to lie…from 3.25-3.5 was a rough couple of months.  It was like someone else invaded my sweet little boy and took over.  At the drop of a hat, he would lose control over his emotions – whether is was massive tantrums or sobbing for no explainable reason.  It was a constant struggle and was so trying.  It was hard not to get irritated and yell, but I also felt bad that he felt so out of control with his emotions and couldn’t help himself.  I knew it must be miserable for him to feel like that.  I tried not to react too much as long as it wasn’t affecting the rest of us.  He did some timeouts and was sent to his room on occasion, all of which typically helped calm him eventually.  I gave him a rare swat on the butt when I really needed to get his attention or doing something particularly dangerous.  I’m not against spanking, but I believe it loses its effectiveness if used too often or for the wrong reasons, so its not the preferred method of correction in my opinion.  I definitely found myself yelling way more than I would have liked – he’s a sensitive kid, so tried to be careful with that…but it was hard.  I couldn’t figure out why his behavior had changed so much, but his friend who is the same age was having the same struggles, so we hoped it was just an age thing.  It was tough though…it was winter/early spring, and someone was sick in our house for about 3 months straight, so we were stuck at home a lot.

Luckily, around 3.5, he went back to normal and was his super-sweet, pleasant self again.  I’m not saying there aren’t tantrums or bad behavior…but its just the typical stuff that every toddler has on occasion.  I’m just so happy to have my sweet boy back that the random mood swings or outbursts don’t even phase me.  But the majority of the time, he’s sweet and funny and lovey.  I adore that he gives hugs and kisses out of nowhere,  or he’ll just say “I love you”.  Sometimes he says he “runs out of hugs or kisses”, but I just have to give him a bunch to fill his back up again.

He went to preschool one day a week and took gymnastics this year and loved both.  His school teachers would tell me how good and sweet he is.  For the first few months of school, he didn’t say much about what they did.  It was like fight club…I’d ask, and he’d go silent.  Eventually he started telling me little tidbits when I picked him up, and by the end of the year, he’d tell me all about what they did, sometimes what other kids had for lunch, and we had to go through his folder and backpack before we even left the parking lot.  It was awesome to see him be confident and enjoy the independence from me that he got with school.  Gymnastics was much the same.  At the beginning of the year, he was pretty quiet and reserved, but by the end of the year, he was talkative and confident, and more coordinated. It didn’t seem like he’d changed so much through the year, but the teachers made these awesome yearbooks, and you can really tell how much he changed and how much progress he made – especially with coloring.  He grew several inches and completely looks like a little boy.

  

  

And lets just talk about his style.  I love it.  He’s so shy in public and around new people, but he’ll rock a random hat or wear his sunglasses inside without any concern of what anyone else thinks.  His favorite color is pink (and chocolate, lol).  It’s going to crush me when other kids start telling him that pink is for girls.  He doesn’t have a lot of pink clothing because most of his clothing are hand-me downs (from boys), but when he gets to pick the color of something, he picks pink.  I bought him a pink polo shirt lately and he is so excited about it.  That innocence will be gone before I know it, as he’s exposed to social “norms” according to most (blue is boy, pink is girl).  While he’s shy in public usually, he’s a ham at home.  He loves posing for pictures.  When we were at the Zoo this week, he wore his sunglasses and a monkey stocking cap the entire day even though it was in the mid-70’s.  Our friend kept looking at him and saying the he is the coolest kid he knows – that nothing fazes him and his style is the definition of cool.

Jenson update: October 6, 2016 – June, 2017
Age: 3.5+ years old
Weight: 35 lbs. (+4 since age 3)
Length: 40 inches (+3 since age 3)
Size: 3T-4T clothing

 

Sleeping: He did really well with  is in his crib from about 8 pm -7:45 am, when his Ok to Wake alarm clock turned green.  He climbed out of the crib once, but it scared him enough that he didn’t get out again.  Nevertheless, we decided to take the side off his crib in May because it was really time for him to be out of a crib.  He’d been asking about a big-boy bed and I felt kind of bad that he was still in a crib.  He did really well with the switch and mostly stays in bed until the light turns green.  He’ll get out and get a book, but gets right back in bed.  When his light turns, he calls for us and waits until we come in the room.

Eating:  He’s a picky eater still.  It seems to be a texture thing, but he doesn’t like meat or vegetables.  He’ll eat chicken nuggets for me, but that’s about it.  He’ll try a bite of vegetable sometimes, but he’ll either swallow it whole, or he’ll gag.  The pediatrician said that we don’t need to worry about it that much right now.  He eats all fruits and lots of dairy, so he’s probably getting enough protein, fiber, and vegetables.  He usually has some dry cereal in a cup while he watches a show or two in the morning.  After that he eats yogurt or a yogurt smoothie, some fruit, and maybe some toast.  Lunch is usually a sandwich (PBJ, grilled cheese), a piece of cheese and/or a few pretzels, veggie stix, popcorn, and fruit.  Sometimes he wants a spoonful or two of peanut butter.  Dinner is usually similar to lunch, unless we are eating one of the few things he’ll eat, which is rare.  He’ll eat mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, or pizza.  He honestly doesn’t snack much…but if so, usually crackers, pretzels, applesauce, or fresh or dried fruit.  He discovered a love of donuts though.

Word Up: He says some pretty hilarious things.  When we ask him if he likes something (like food or whatever), he’ll say “well, I don’t right now…but when I’m older, I’ll like that” or “I’ll like that when I’m 4”.  I keep telling him he’s going to have to eat a bunch of new things when he’s 4 because he keeps promising he’ll eat that stuff then.   He stills says “when I’m older and you’re a baby” or “when I’m a baby again”.  He’s starting to understand the concept of aging forward though.  When we correct him for doing something he shouldn’t, he response always starts out as “But I was just….”.  Or he’ll say he sorry that and that it was just a mistake.  Sometimes later on he’ll apologize again for whatever it was that he did, no matter how trivial – like he thinks we are still upset about it.  I always hug him and tell him that it’s ok and I’m not upset about it – that we all make mistakes, but I can tell he still thinks about it, even if its not something we yelled about when he did it.  It still so empathetic and intuitive and I hope he never loses those qualities.

He’s shy around other people at first, so I don’t know that most people realize how much he actually talks unless they’ve been around him for 4+ hours.  He talks nonstop…he talks for Marlowe when we ask her something, he talks constantly in his carseat, he talks to his stuffed animals, he talks to his hands and his feet…which he has named and also calls his friends.  The last names he told us were Tank and Seven (hands) and Shell and Trump (!!?) feet.  His hands used to be Squash and Bucket, and his feet were Jack and God.  His left foot seems to have a superiority complex compared to his other appendages.  He says his ears are alligators, and one is nice and one is mean.  One day the mean alligator was biting his cheek.  He’s just very matter-of-fact about these imaginary friends.   He loves singing songs still and he’s recently obsesses with “Brooklyn, Brooklyn”, which is actually I and Love and You by the Avett Brothers.  He wants to hear it on repeat in the car, and knows all of the words.  I love that song, so I don’t mind playing it on repeat…it keeps him from asking a million questions and bugging Marlowe, so Lo doesn’t mind. It’s so sweet to hear him sing it.

Fun things: I’m going to stick with the last few months since I have posted a couple of times after the holidays and such

  • Meeting Marshall at his twin cousins’ 2nd birthday party

  • Trip to Vegas for his cousin’s 3rd birthday

  • St. Patrick’s Day and rainbow craft

  • Easter – He had a blast around Easter.  He did approximately 7 Easter eggs hunts…school, when he stayed with Lo’s parents and when we were all there for Easter, at my parents, at the YMCA, and 2 at our house when cousins and friends were visiting.  I’m probably even missing one.

 

  • Jenson’s 1/2 birthday.  This kid loves birthdays like nothing else, so I got a slice of cake at the bakery for his half birthday.  He was thrilled, and he almost always says he’s 3 1/2 now instead of 3.

Milestones:  So many, considering this post is so late!

  • Finished his first year of preschool at a local church (just 3 hours on Thursdays)
  • Completed his Mommy and Me gymnastics program

  • Learned to draw and write some letters.  It started with drawing rainbows, and then one day he drew a recognizable octopus, turtle, camel, and several other things.

  • Counts to 120+ (with occasional help when he loses his place)
  • Stays dry through naps
  • Dresses himself.  It seemed like this would never happen, and then suddenly he knew how to put his own shirt on and I’m not sure who taught him because it was a different way that I was telling him.  Before:

  • Can pedal his bike.  Our driveway isn’t very conducive to this, so he’s a little behind, but he’s figuring it out.  He never took to the balance bike that we got him for his birthday.  He never figured out how to glide on it.

  • Knows most letter sounds
  • Took the side off of his crib
  • Dental appointment – all good!

  • His first trip to Indy (for qualifying for the Indy 500)

Favorite Toys/Activities

  • Playing outside or at the playground and going down to “the water” to throw rocks in the creek
  • Puzzles (he’s not as much into spontaneous reading anymore, unless Marlowe wants to, and then he wants to as well.  We still read books before naps and bed, and he’s starting to want to “read” them himself a lot lately.

  • Going to The Works museum near us.  It’s a little science and technology museum just up the road from us
  • Going to the library and coffee shop for story time
  • Taking baths alone.  He doesn’t really want to take them with Marlowe anymore because then he has to share the toys.
  • Going to the Zoo.  We’ve gone a couple of times this spring/summer when the weather is cooler.
  • Play food and real picnics.
  • Favorite shows: Paw Patrol (for most of the year), Octonauts, and Chuggington, plus Minions for a movie
  • Playdates.  After doing playdates with a few friends and going to school, he’s big into friends right now.  He talks about them a lot and loves when we have playdates
  • Going to the Dawes Arboretum for a walk with our friends and playing in the Nature Center or in the “play” area

Dislikes:

  • Meat and veggies.  Still.  He’ll eat chicken nuggets and that’s about it.  The Dr. said not to worry about it.
  • Leaving the house in a timely manner.  Anytime we are going somewhere, it takes forever to get him out of the house.  He’s famous for his last minute potty time, where he’ll sit there for 20 minutes and not go at all, or go just a tiny bit.  It’s so frustrating.
  • When Boof gets his food.  He’s not all that fond of Boof lately, and he gets really upset when she gets his food when he drops it.
  • Going to bed at night.  He’ll get in bed pretty easily after our books and songs, but he’ll call us back up there 2-5 times for various reasons.  We’ve started doing extra songs with me if he’s good the night before for bedtime, and sometimes that helps.

Our routines:

He wakes between 6:45-7:30 and plays in his bed until his light turns green. We get up and he watches a couple of shows while he eats a cup of mixed dry cereal (Kix, Cheerios, and Multigrain cheerios usually).  We eat breakfast and then either play in the house, go outside, or go to a story time, store, or other outing.  They eat breakfast between 12:30-1:15, depending on our activities.  Nap is 1:30/2 – 3:30/4, and we read 3 books and sing 3 songs before (usually You are my Sunshine and Jesus Loves Me, plus either Happy and you Know It, ABC’s or other various songs).  He gets “something special” after nap for keeping his underwear dry – usually a cookie or a small piece of candy that he picks from his container of candy from various holidays, parades and such.  Watches a show.  Play inside or outside when daddy gets home. Dinner around 6 pm. Bath and/or time for him to play with “his” ipad or computer (it’s a little handheld Fisher Price handheld learning system).  Get ready for bed with snack, brush teeth, clean up, 3 books, 3 songs, one random trip downstairs for potty again, fill his water cup, or something else to make him think he’s getting away with something while I put Marlowe to bed.  Back upstairs for songs with mom (and sometimes dad).  For the longest time, I had to sing Leaving on a Jet Plane, Someone Saved My Life Tonight (Elton John), and Where Have All The Flowers Gone, but lately he wants to listen and sing to Brooklyn, Brooklyn (I and Love and You by Avett Bros), and one or two other random songs that iTunes put on my phone, none of which I like, so I really need to figure something out for the rest of the songs or add music that I do like.

I cherish…

My favorite time of the day with him right after nap – especially if Marlowe is still sleeping and I get some one on one time with him. He’s all snuggly and talkative in this little sleepy voice and so so so sweet.  He says the cutest things, and will ramble on and on about whatever he was thinking about before he fell asleep or after he woke up.  He’ll say “you’re the best, mom” and give me hugs and kisses. I feel like this is when we really get to talk – he’ll tell me things about his friends at school, or ask about things he’s unsure about.  It’s just a few fleeting moments, a couple of times a week, but it’s amazing and I absolutely cherish it.

Looking forward to:

  • He’s doing a sleepover weekend with his cousins Sadie, Luke and Levi – and while we are excited to get time to ourselves since Nana is keeping Marlowe then too, I’m also excited for him because he’s going to have so much fun – he and Sadie have an absolute blast together.
  • Visit with my family in mid-July for my parents 50th anniversary.  We are going to end up being there for at least a week, or possibly a week and a half if I decide to stay while Lo goes on his race/glamping trip with his friends.
  • I hate to wish away warm weather and time, but I love, love, love fall.  LOVE.  There’s so many fun things to do with the kids and I don’t have to constantly worry about them getting sun burned or too hot.  I keep searching for a state or country that has fall-like weather all year long to no avail.
  • Jenson going to 2 days of preschool this year.  I actually dread getting him out of the house 2 days a week, but he thrives in school and I love seeing him be more independent and excited about school and new friends.  Plus it’ll give Marlowe some one on one time that she never gets, and I can run errands more easily with one kid than two!
  • Family vacation perhaps?  We don’t have anything planned, but I still really want to get these kids to the beach.  If we go somewhere, it’ll be in the fall/early winter.

National Donut Day: I need gluten-free donuts

Friday is National Donut Day, and there are all sorts of free donuts being given away at various places.  As a matter of fact, the reps from the Butler County Donut Trail are supposed to be dropping off donuts for me as a thank-you for promoting the Donut Trail on Columbus on the Cheap.  I want to travel the donut trail…but I can’t eat gluten, so I’ll be stuck watching Lo and Jenson devour those donuts.  They love donuts.

When my sister and fam were in town, they took Jenson to run some errands and to get donuts at this awesome little donut shop in our town called Brick Alley Donuts.  Apparently they top the fresh, warm donuts however you want them…I’ve never gone in because, what’s the point?  I do know that they must be good because one Saturday while we were at the library Lo ran down the street to get some before they closed.  And he ate 3 on the 5 minute walk back to the library!  So when the Smith’s took Jenson to the donut shop, he was thrilled, obviously.

Since I’m not going to be able to eat any of those donuts on National Donut Day, I think I need to make myself a batch of gluten-free donuts.  I’m leaning towards the 3 ingredient Gluten-free Nutella Donuts that I posted about before.  These are honestly better than any store or bakery gluten-free donuts that I’ve tried.  I think this time I may use some Reese’s peanut butter spread that I have instead of Nutella and see how that works.  And I’m definitely making them in the waffle iron.  I’ll let you know how they taste, but I’m guessing they will be spectacular.

If you’d rather use a baking mix to make some donuts, here’s another gluten-free doughnut recipe I’ve made before – both in a donut pan and in the waffle iron.

I really want to try some other gluten-free donut recipes, but so many seem like they require a ton of ingredients or special prep, and I’m not into that.  I made a new recipe a couple of weeks ago, and they were just so-so.  Have any recommendations?

Also, can you clear up an issue I have?  Is it donuts or doughnuts?  I know both are fine, but it drives me crazy that both spellings are used frequently.  I just want to know which one wins!  I prefer the way donut is spelled and how the word looks, so I typically stick with that, but I’ve used them interchangeably too.

 

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Airlines aren’t the enemy…ignorant people are

I’m so sick of reading about incidents on airlines.  Sadly, its not going away anytime soon because people are now constantly looking for ways to claim airline misconduct so they can be the next big story or get some sort of reimbursement.  Of all of the flights I’ve been on in the last decade or so, I’ve seen hundreds of ignorant (term meaning jerks and/or unknowing) passengers, but no issues with airline employees.  I seriously cannot handle how other people behave on flights sometimes.

Lemme start with my biggest pet peeve.  You know what the fasten seatbelt sign means?  It means stay in your goddamn seat!  I don’t care if you drank a triple venti extra tall with sugar on top Starbucks drink before your flight, or if you had 7 beers in the airport while waiting for your flight…stay in your goddamn seat.  Despite the sign and regular announcements that they make asking people to stay in their seats, there’s a constant stream of people going back and forth to the bathroom.  I’ve had lots of drinks before getting on a flight.  I’ve had giant coffee drinks.  I’ve flown at 8 months pregnant.  But I stay in my goddamn seat until the light turns off (and typically after that because it kills me to have to use that disgusting 2×2 foot toilet room).  I literally can’t think of any good reason someone can’t hold it for an hour unless they are under age 5.  If you have some sort of medical issue for which you know you can’t hold it, sit right by the bathroom.  Those seats are usually the last to fill, so select it during booking, or head back there on a Southwest flight.  I understand that sometimes it’s awhile before they turn off the light, but average is probably 30-45 minutes…add boarding and takeoff time to that and maybe you have to hold it for an hour and a half.  Go to the bathroom right before it’s time to board.  If you can’t hold it for an hour and a half, you may want to see a doctor and skip the beverages for a few hours before your next flight.

This isn’t to say that airlines haven’t made big mistakes lately.  Although, in most cases, the issues have been with how the individual employee handled the problem that the passenger presented, and not the rule itself.  There’s always going to be bad employees…there are bad teachers, bad accountants, bad nurses, bad police officers, bad plumbers, bad receptionists, bad everything employee.  But there are so many more bad passengers…people who have no clue what the rules are…what they are allowed to bring…how they are supposed to pack their bags…where they are supposed to go.  Instead of asking for help, they just argue everything or try to shove bags up above that don’t fit, or try to sit in seats that aren’t theirs.  I don’t read every article, so I’m not up on all of the facts of the cases, so if I misspeak about an incident, please forgive.  I will say that I don’t think airlines should bump passengers that don’t agree to it in order to make room for other flight crew (though they did said they are going to stop doing that now).

You cannot take a stroller on a flight.  You can gate check it or you can check it.  Those are your options.  You shouldn’t have it ripped away from you, but you should also give it up once an employee tells you that you can’t have it on the flight.  If you don’t speak the language, you should read up on airline rules before demanding you bring what you want on the plane.  And if you’re holding a baby, why would you play tug of war with a stroller anyway?  Let the guy take it and then argue your case.  It was a stroller!  You can’t use it on the flight anyway!

This last incident really bugged me.  If you buy a seat on a flight, but don’t check in for your flight, it is no longer your seat.  If you buy a flight for one child and then want another child to sit there, you can’t do it without arranging a transfer (if available).  But again…if you didn’t check in for the flight, you no longer have that seat – that’s really the end of that story.  That’s considered a no-show, and they have the right to resell the flight.  I believe this couple wanted to use the seat for a lap baby (unticketed) so they brought the carseat on and just claimed the seat.  They must have known that the flight was full, or else they would have just bought a ticket for the same flight, instead of buying an earlier flight for the older son to take on his own so the baby could use his seat.  So they knew they were transferring a ticket, but were pretending that it was perfectly ok because it was another child.  Sorry…it’s not.  You got caught…they sold your other seat (as is the right)…so hold your baby and let them check the car seat.

I’ve done the lap baby thing several times.  We usually fly Southwest, so seats are unassigned – and if the flight isn’t full, we are allowed to take the car seat on and use the seat for a lap baby (under age 2).  We do this, however, knowing that if the plane suddenly is full, we will have to give up the seat and they will stow the car seat.  That’s what we get if we want a child under 2 fly for free.

So if you don’t check in for the flight, and they give someone else that seat, and the plane is now full – you cannot use that seat for your car seat.  You shouldn’t sit there and argue with different airline employees for 15 minutes acting like you know what you’re talking about and playing hardball.  And then when it came down to them telling him they’ll have to leave the flight, he asked if they could just hold the baby.  No sir, that ship has sailed.  They asked you to do that awhile ago.  So when you post the video that your wife took of the incident, you don’t looked wronged…you look ignorant.  Should the one employee have said that its a federal offense and they’ll go to jail and their kids will be in foster care?  No – and that’s what the sensationalized news stories are focusing on.  But other than that, the other employees sounded like they were being kind and trying to reason with this guy and he just wasn’t listening.  He kept citing things from other flights and that he purchased the seat – well, what you did on one flight has nothing to do with the next, and if you purchase a seat and don’t claim it (by checking in as required), then it is no longer your seat.  I believe they have since said that the family will be compensated, and I sure hope that it’s not for a penny more than they paid (if even that), but I don’t think they deserve it.  They didn’t follow the rules and then they argued about it until they asked them to leave.  They probably felt brazen enough to do that since “airline misconduct” is constantly in the news lately.

Just another way that social media is ruining our society.  (and yes, I recognize the irony of my statement as I post this on social media, but I still stand by the statement)

 

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Democracy Absolution: The jeans you need to buy

You need a new pair of jeans, don’t you?  Do yourself a favor and get a pair of Democracy Absolution jeans.  My SIL told me about them last summer, and since I was still losing baby weight, I just bought a pair of the capris at Nordstrom Rack to get through the summer.  Two words for you….stretchy waistband.  I lived in these suckers.  Actually, I lived in yoga crops, but if I left the house, I was probably wearing my Democracy Absolution capris.  In addition to the stretchy waistband, they have a mid-rise (to prevent muffin top and killer crack), and perfectly placed back pockets that don’t make your ass look 2 sizes bigger.  Seriously…companies have been making women’s jeans for decades, why do so many still place the pockets so far to the outside like a hammerhead shark eyes?  Unless you’re under a size 6, there’s way too much space in between the pockets in jeans like that.  Pockets can make or break a pair of jeans, and Democracy puts them in the right spot.

In the fall, I’d dropped a little more weight, so I ordered a pair of the Democracy Absolution skinny jeans.  Yes, skinny jeans… something I swore I could never pull off.  Whether or not I pulled it off, I felt good in them and they are hella comfortable, so that’s what I care about.  They work with tall and short boots, but my favorite is with Tom’s.  Because, Toms.  I know sperry-type slip on shoes and chucks are all the rage right now, but I still love my Tom’s.  No matter what the shoe, unless I was wearing yoga pants, I was wearing my Democracy skinnies when I left the house (and an occasional legging with a tunic).  I had about 10 pair of jeans in my closet that fit, and I’d bet I only wore a different pair 5 times all winter.  Granted, I didn’t leave the house much, but still.  I tried to find a picture of me wearing them, but I’m usually the one taking pictures, so it wasn’t easy.

Fast-forward to last month, my skinnies were starting to get loose and I needed to wear a belt with them or tuck in a tank top to hold them up, so I ordered more when I found them BOGO free through the Elder-Beerman website.  I ordered a dark pair and medium wash pair of skinnies, a dark pair of the Itty Bitty Bootcut, and a pair of gray jeans.  The gray ones didn’t work out, because although they were the Democracy brand, they weren’t the Democracy Absolution line and they didn’t fit the same at all and they were way too big in the waist and not comfortable.  I didn’t want to keep 4 pair of jeans, so I was kind of relieved I could return one pair at least.  I loved the bootcut too, because they work with tennis shoes, whereas the skinnies don’t look right with tennis shoes that I have. They are worth the full-price of $68 if you need jeans and you’re comfortable paying that much, but I prefer to spend under $50 on jeans, so I just wait for a sale and end up paying closer to $35-$40.

Fast forward to this month and after I went through my multiple bins of clothing in the basement, I found that many of my shorts and capris from prior years are a little big now.  I’m not mad.  Luckily, Elder-Beerman was having a sale where most of their Democracy jeans, shorts, and capris were 50% off, so I placed a (big) order.  I immediately text Lo and warned that I placed a large order, but that I wouldn’t keep everything.  I was worried that the shorts would run small and I wouldn’t want them tight on my thighs, so I ordered 2 sizes of each for some of them.  There’s an Elder-Beerman at the mall near us (though it doesn’t seem to carry Democracy), so I’ll just return what I don’t want.  I felt bad placing such a big order, but knowing that I’ll return some and that I was able to sell some of my older clothing though a local FB group, I’m more ok with it.  I didn’t think that Lo would actually mind, but I wanted him to know what the order was when it showed up on the credit card.  I’ll probably never shake the guilty feeling of spending money while I don’t have much of an income – though the guilt doesn’t always stop me…it just makes me feel guilty.

I really like the shorts.  They are a little longer than I expected, but they can be rolled again, and I may even cut the hem of the distressed shorts because that would fit that style really well.  I kept the bigger size in the distressed because I like them more relaxed, but I like the smaller size in the darker wash.  They can be cuffed higher, or completely unrolled for more coverage, so there are a lot of length options with each pair.  I wouldn’t pay full-price for shorts, which is $58, but if you stalk Amazon and Elder Beerman, you’ll eventually get a sale.  The dark wash Democracy shorts are $35 with Amazon Prime right now, though.

I had a little more trouble picking the capris/cropped jeans. My favorite pair of capris is the lightly distressed Democracy AbSolution Crop Jeans, but the waistband had some really scratchy threads that weren’t comfortable – they feel like plastic stitches that are sticking out.  I called Nordstrom and asked them to send a new pair so I could return these ones.  I got the new pair and was thrilled that the waistband wasn’t scratchy…but they didn’t look the same as the other pair.  I compared the length to the scratchy waistband pair and they were a full 2 inches shorter!  Two inches can make or break a pair of cropped jeans – they hit me right in the middle of my calf, so they were kind of tight there, but even unrolled they still hit me in the wrong spot.  I prefer them unrolled, so I wanted the longer pair. I decided to keep the scratchy waistband pair and deal with it.  My only caution about this brand is that sometimes you’ll get a pair with threads on the waistband that poke you…my SIL has some like that too.  Its not bad enough to be a deal-breaker for me though.  These ones are the first picture below.

 

The other 2 pair of cropped jeans that I ordered are the dark wash Democracy “Ab”solution Cropped Jeans and the Democracy Destructed Hem Ankle Jeans.  I like the way the destructed ones look and feel, but I don’t like how the cuts in the knees are.  They are just straight across slits, and I feel like they’ll end up ripping wide open and look TOO destructed.  And if I’m sitting down, my knees are just completely sticking out – there are no threads that go across the slits.  I love how the hem at the ankle is released though.  I haven’t returned these, but I think I’m going to still.  I like the dark wash ones just fine…I think I’ll end up keeping these because I need a pair that can be dressed up slightly.  I wear a lot of capris/cropped jeans even in the summer, so it’s definitely worth keeping 2 pair.  I’d also ordered the dusty blue cropped jeans, but I sized up, and they fit weird.  I decided that I didn’t love the color on me anyway, so I returned them.  My SIL got them and they look great on her though, so if you’re into colored jeans, go for it.  I just haven’t figured out how to pull that off yet.

I feel that the Democracy Absolution line is true to size and they don’t stretch out too much as you wear them, so order your current size and see how they fit.  If you’re in between sizes, I’d size down if you don’t want to wear a belt after they stretch a bit.  Thanks to the stretchy waistband, you can probably comfortably fit into 2 sizes, but you may need a belt with a bigger size.  I’m usually able to wear them 2-3 times before washing before they start to sag (or one of the kids gets something one them).  They are snug fitting through the hips/butt/thighs since they are a stretch jean, so if you like a looser fit, they may not be for you, but trust me when I say they’ll look better than other brands you’ve worn.

I know this may sound like a sponsored post – but its not.  I paid for all of the Democracy jeans that I have.  They are just that comfortable.  Buy them wherever you want…Nordstrom Rack (instore or online), Elder-Beerman/Bon-ton, or even Amazon. Nordstrom Rack is usually the cheapest at around $40, but if there’s not one local, you have to pay for shipping and a return shipping fee if you have to return.  Elder-Beerman usually runs good sales on Democracy every few weeks, so you check back there for sales.  They always seem to offer free shipping codes too, so I’ve never paid for shipping.  Through the weekend, Elder-Beerman has some of the capris and shorts are on sale and are eligible for an additional 30% off with the friends and family sale.  Amazon has them on sale with Prime shipping occasionally, but it’s really hit or miss on available sizes and Prime shipping availability (free returns if you can get through Prime though).

*Amazon links are affiliate links, but the rest are not.

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burned out mom

Googling: Burned out Mom

How do you know when you are a burned out mama?  When you google “burned out mom” during nap, instead of doing one of the other million things you’d rather (or should) be doing during this previous 90 minutes 75 minutes.  (I’m not a savage…I used the first 15 minutes of nap to lug a giant basket of laundry to the basement and start a load.  Who is wearing all of these clothes??!  It’s not me, because I’m still wearing the ones from yesterday!)

I don’t know what I was looking for when I googled that, but I can tell you it produced a LOT of results.  So I guess I’m normal.  I’m always kind of hesitant to admit that I’m a stay-at-home mom and I have no idea why.  I feel like there are all kinds of judgments and assumptions made when one admits that…like I don’t have the education or experience to have a good job, or that my husband makes a ton of money, or that I’m too lazy to work.  The “wow, you’re lucky” comment strikes a nerve because yes we are fortunate in that my husband makes enough money to support us, but we worked hard to get to this point.  We don’t overspend on things…we don’t carry debt (other than mortgage, his student loan, and our van payment)…we moved to an area that is less expensive than we were before.  So we aren’t as lucky as we are willing to make sacrifices.  I gave up a job that I like in an office (where I could shut the door), where I could workout at lunch, and take leave time to run to an appointment, or go shopping, or whatever the hell I wanted to do with my leave time.  Even after Jenson was born, as long as I was home before the end of the day for the sitter, it didn’t matter if I left work early to get my hair done.  But our sitter was raising our son.  We were gone 10+ hours a day (9 hours at our jobs, and typically over an hour combined commute because traffic sucked where we lived).  It was too hard on my heart.

So I gave up that job for the hardest job I’ve ever had.  And I was a social worker for adults with severe mental illnesses.  And I was a mental health specialist who worked in a lock-down facility with teens who were in custody of the state, where restraining kids my size or bigger than me was a common occurrence.  Ok, after writing this, that job may have been harder, because I didn’t really get breaks there either…and kids were always calling my name…and I literally had to watch my back because someone might try to put a belt around my neck.  But I spent the following decade at a nice job in an office where I didn’t have to really deal with many people, so my memories on those other rough jobs may be blunted a bit.  But nevertheless, I’m in the dark days of parenting right now.

 

I have a 3.5 year old and a 15 month old.  This is a rough stage.  Apparently, 3.5 years old is the new 2.  Because Jenson was a DREAM at age 2.  Seriously…that is still my favorite time period with him.  He is still a wonderful and sweet child who sometimes I look at in amazement and can’t believe that I get to love him for the rest of my life.  I’m proud that he is generally well-mannered, though somewhat shy, in public.  But at home.  At home, Jenson wants to control everything…except his emotions.  He has NO control over his emotions.  He wants carried, he wants grapes and not strawberries…he doesn’t want his banana peeled (even though he said he did and I verified that 2 times before I peeled it, due to past instances)…he wants me to help him build a tower, but cries when I touch one of the blocks because he wants to do it.  Or Boof got in his way where he wants to dance…and he tries to take everything that poor Marlowe has in her hands.  He literally cried all through breakfast today, and then some.  No matter what I tried to do to help, or what I offered him…he just needed to cry.  He didn’t even eat.  We just had an early lunch instead.  I know that toddlers can have some serious mood swings when they are about to go through a growth spurt or developmental change, and I’m quite certain that’s what we are dealing with here.

And Marlowe.  That girl is LOUD.  I’ve said it a million times, but that is the best way to describe it.  Her screams short out my brain for 2 seconds, every time.  Its a sound one can never get used to.  She’s incredibly sweet though…she constantly walks over to me to give me kisses – it is awesome.  And she’s happy – if she hears music, she has to dance.  She loves wearing silly hats, trying to communicate with us with her new words, and playing with Jenson when he’ll let her.  She’s just very strong-willed and can switch moods in an instant.  She doesn’t sleep well at night still, so I haven’t had more than 5 hours of sleep at a time since she was born (minus one miraculous time that she slept through the night).  I’m still regularly up 2-3 times a night with her.  I’m ready to give up breastfeeding (3 months ago), and she is not.  Don’t tell me to just stop…it’s not that easy.  Did you read the part where I said she’s loud?  You should hear her when she wants to nurse and I’m not giving in.  If we had neighbors, they’d be concerned with those screams.  It’s almost not human.  Plus, she’s always with me, so I’m easy access and can’t just get away from her.  She doesn’t like cows milk (though I’m making a little progress by mixing cows milk and coconut milk).  The nurse practitioner at the pediatrician said I was probably going to have to go away (or send her away) for a few days – and Loren or whoever she’s with just won’t get to sleep because she’ll scream all night.

I love these two more than I can even explain.  I’m glad that I get to raise them and make memories with them and take a million pictures of them every day.  But it’s hard right now.  They both want constant attention.  They will literally fight over sitting on my lap.  We only know one family within 40 minutes of us who can help – and they are busy and overwhelmed too, as our kids are nearly the same age.  Lo is super helpful when he’s at home, but it takes 2 people to feel like we have a handle on the situation right now.  So most days I don’t have a handle on the situation for hours at a time.

I play volleyball once a week – often grabbing a drink or food with some of the team afterwards, and I don’t know what state I would be in if I didn’t have that.  People have said that I’m “lucky” that I get to do that…that Loren is willing to “handle” the kids and I can get away.  Are you kidding me?  Lucky that I get 2 hours to myself?  And about half of the time I’m able to put Marlowe to bed before I even leave, so most of the time that I’m away is when they are sleeping anyway.  Also, Lo is their dad…so I should be able to leave them with him once a week.  He realizes that I need some time away so if he gets annoyed by it, he sure as hell doesn’t show it.  He gets time away sometimes too, but he also gets to interact with people at work, and stop on the way home or at lunch if he needs to run an errand or go to an appointment.  I’m past due for appointments for dental, vision, skin cancer screening, and gyno.  It was so easy when I just left work early to attend to these things. I can’t even fathom how to get them done without Lo having to take time off of work for all of that.

Speaking of Lo, we haven’t been anywhere together without kids since September.  That’s 7 months, I think (my brain literally hurts from today’s chaos).  We know a college student who is willing to watch our kids, but they are both just in such a stage right now that I feel like it would be really hard for a stranger (to them) to come in and handle them, unless we put them to bed first.  But what if they woke up and a stranger had to go up to check on them?  A former coworker has offered for us to drop the kids off and go out to dinner, and I FULLY intend to take her up on this because I know she can handle it and we will be nearby if something goes horribly wrong.  Lo’s mom is going to come later this month and give us a break, so that’ll help.  But these occasions are few and far between.  I know that we should have a sitter…but don’t know anyone to even recommend anyone around here.  I’m just not trusting enough to find someone on care.com.  Things are a little different than what we are used to where we live now (that’s a whole diff blog post).

So a lot of the tips that I saw about being burned out is leave the kids with a neighbor (no), get outside (it’s Ohio, so that’s not always an option…plus taking a new walker outside who doesn’t love walking in the grass isn’t relaxing), go places (if Marlowe doesn’t take a morning nap, her afternoon nap isn’t any good), get help (where?!).  I know I’m making excuses, but I also know that this is just a rough stage right now, and it will get easier.  Sometimes I just have to fake it (and pack up a picnic lunch for the front yard) until I make it.

Do I wish them to be older? No. I wish for me to have the patience to get through this stage.  I wish that I could give each of them all of the attention that they need at every moment.  I wish I could help Jenson with his emotions so he doesn’t feel so out of control, because I know that is probably scary for him.  I wish I could always find activities that would be appropriate for both…ones that would stimulate Jenson, but be safe for Marlowe (as she still puts stuff in her mouth).  But I’m a little burned out right this moment.  And that’s ok.  Tomorrow, Jenson will get up and we’ll snuggle on the couch for a bit while he watches a show.  And then Marlowe will have the biggest smile when she wakes and I get her out of the crib.  I’ll focus on those moments for now…and look forward to the weekend when it’s all hands on deck around here.

 

 

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marlowe update

Marlowe update: 1 year old!

So months ago, Marlowe turned 1 year old!  I can’t believe its taken so long for me to write this post…other than the fact that someone has been sick in our house almost every week since then!  Regardless…she’s (over) a year old and she’s amazing and feisty, and I want to put all of these details down here for posterity.  Because in another year, I won’t believe how little she was at this stage, and I’ll miss all of the little baby things about her when she’s a full blown toddler.  I know this because every time we look back at pictures or videos of Jenson when he was young, we can’t believe how different he was just 1 year ago!  I see our friend’s nearly 2 year old and I can’t believe that Marlowe will be at the stage he is in as soon as this fall!

So Marlowe’s birthday was December 29, of course.  It’s kind of ironic that she was born right smack in the middle of the holidays because I always said I’d never want to have a baby around then because their birthday is always mixed in or overshadowed by the holidays.  Either I didn’t think about the timing when we were ready to start trying, or I was just ready and decided I didn’t care…I don’t remember.  We’ll always try to make her birthday special and separate as best we can – even if just within our little family.  Even the first year, planning her birthday party date was difficult.  With Christmas and New Years falling on the weekends, we couldn’t expect our families to plan their holidays around the party and drive 2 and 3 hours to our house.  We decided to have her party the week after New Years, on January 8, so that it would be easier for family to celebrate with us.  I hope to post about her party before she’s 2…  We got to my parent’s house on her actual birthday to celebrate Christmas with them, and the next day we had cake for both Marlowe and my dad.  Ages 1 and 76.  I made a nearly sugar-free cake with a healthy whipped coconut milk frosting…she mostly just licked some of the frosting off.

As you can imagine, our December was quite busy (as it is for everyone who celebrates the holidays). The first weekend of the month we went to a Santa Parade in a nearby town and then to a Christmas tree farm to get our tree.  Marlowe wasn’t that interested in picking out the tree, but she did enjoy the lights and watching us decorate.

The following week we were having our garage built and then had Jenson’s Christmas program for school.  Marlowe entertained people before the show by rolling around in the aisle while we waited.  She was smiling and looking at people for their reactions – it was really quite funny.

Unfortunately, Marlowe and I had to go to my parents that weekend as my 90 year old Grandpa passed away early that week.  He was doing pretty well – lived at home still with my step-grandma, still driving, etc., and he suffered a heart attack.  Being the stubborn German that he is, he didn’t let Mary take him to the hospital for about a day – he said he just thought he worked too hard getting the Christmas decorations up.  Even at the hospital he was doing ok – my mom and aunt got to spend some time with him and there was an assumption that he’d be okay to go home in a week or so (on oxygen as he was in CHF), but he passed away at the hospital.  He said he was ready – he didn’t want to have any surgery or invasive treatment…that if it was time, he had lived a good life.  We were having our garage built that week and weren’t sure when they would be done, so we decided that I would go home for the funeral with Marlowe, and Jenson would stay home with Loren.  Jenson is at an age where he really couldn’t understand what is going on and I thought seeing the open casket would be confusing for him and not something he needed to be exposed to yet.  He only saw his great-grandpa about twice a year, so he didn’t know him very well as it was.  Marlowe did well at the calling hours, and we didn’t go to the burial as it was very cold outside and it was her naptime.  My sister caught this picture of Marlowe during the 21 gun salute at the funeral home, and it’s the sweetest thing.

She stared at the picture for the longest time, and held onto it the whole way to the luncheon at the church.  I had the chance to sit and talk to my grandma for a couple of hours about her past.  I learned a lot about her when she was young and the time leading up to when she met my grandpa and in their early years.  They divorced after a little over 20 years, but always maintained a cordial relationship when we were all together for holidays, so she had attended the services and even sat with my step-grandma at the luncheon.  Grandma lost her husband about 9 years ago, so she knew how Mary was feeling.  Marlowe enjoyed being at my parent’s house and getting all of the attention (instead of having to split it with Jenson).

 

Right before Christmas, both kids came down with a little crud.  Jenson had a bad cough and Marlowe had been running a low fever for a few days. When I called the Dr., they wanted to see Jenson for his croupy cough, but they were so busy that they didn’t want to see Marlowe since she was lacking other symptoms at that time.  Jenson’s cough got better pretty quickly, but he started with a fever and waking at night, which usually indicated an ear infection.  So we took them both to urgent care on Christmas Eve, which is not an amazing time to go to Urgent Care.  It was packed.  Neither had ear infections, so the Dr. said it was just a virus going around.  (Fast forward 10 days later at her 1 year appointment when the Dr. found that she had a double ear infection and asked us to bring Jenson in…and he did too).

Marlowe’s first Christmas was really low-key, as we stayed home on Christmas Eve and Christmas.  We celebrated with Lo’s family the day after Christmas, and then with mine the weekend of New Years.  We actually got to my parents on Marlowe’s birthday, so I made a little (healthy) cake for her the following day, which is also my Dad’s birthday.  She just licked some of the whipped coconut milk “frosting” off and was done.  She rang in the New Year by waking up and crying while we were at my sister’s house watching the end of the Ohio State football game.  We headed home before the ball dropped, and I didn’t even see it, as I was nursing her back to sleep – which is exactly the way she would want to ring in the New Year (since she has no plans to give up nursing).

  

Marlowe Update: November 29 – December 31

Age:  1 year old!!

Weight:   17 lbs., 10 oz. (40%) at her appointment on November 14

Length:   28.5 inches (90%)

Clothing size:  She’s in 12 month clothing.  She’s a size 2 in shoes, though she’s only had them on for pictures.  Baby shoes are cute, but not worth the trouble.  She’s in a 3 for diapers and we switch between cloth and disposable.

Hair: Her hair is getting so long on the sides and front.  I have to pull it back every day so it’s out of her eyes.  It’s very blond still, and superfine.  It’s still shorter in the back, so she’s rocking a stylish inverted bob.

Eyes:  Blue. The color is so pretty…I really hope it stays, but Jenson’s turned from blue after 1 year, so I wouldn’t be surprised if hers still turned.

Teeth:  Just her 2 bottom teeth

Temperament:  She’s sweet and lovey, but has a temper when she wants to exert it.  She loves kisses and being tickled, but if she’s mad, you know it.  She’s very loud when she’s not happy or if she wants to nurse.  No one can settle her when she’s ready to eat – she’ll just scream until I feed her. She loves crawling all over the place and playing with toys and watching Jenson.  All in all, she wasn’t what I’d call an easy baby…she can switch from happy to mad in an instance.  She never really got used to being with other people since I’m home with her all of the time and we’ve only had the chance to leave her with family a couple times for a few hours.  She does fine with just Lo, and would usually take a bottle from him, but we pretty much got to the point where we didn’t feel like we could leave her with a sitter, unless it was someone she already knew – and that limited us to very few people.  So I’m not sure whether she was actually a more difficult baby, if it was  difficult because we also have a toddler who demands much of our attention, or if it was because we rarely got a break from either.

Sleeping: She wakes up between 8-9 am and will play in her crib sometimes before she wants out.  She typically takes a morning and afternoon nap.  The morning nap ranges from 45-60 minutes beginning around 10:30, and the afternoon nap is from 45 minutes -2 hours starting around 1:30 or 2 pm.  She goes to bed around 7:30 most nights and wakes every 2-4 hours to nurse for 5 minutes.  We haven’t made much progress on nighttime sleep.  If she wakes to nurse before 10:30/11 pm, Lo will go in to make sure she has a pacifier.  She’ll usually settle a bit longer.  We have tried to let her cry it out a few times (checking on her throughout), and she proved she can outlast us on that one, to the tune of straight screaming for over an hour.  She cries harder and more consistent than Jenson did when we started sleep training him.  Her cry is a scream…its loud and it wrecks you.  I don’t even use a monitor for her because I don’t need it. I can hear her anywhere in the house.  She doesn’t want held or bounced or anything to do with Loren when she wakes…she just wants to nurse for 5 minutes and then go back to bed.  So I pretty much just give in because waking for 5 minutes is better than her screaming for an hour.  She still puts herself to sleep…I just nurse her and lay her down awake, so at least that is easy.

Eating:  She’ll eat pretty much anything we put down in front of her.  She loves being in her high chair and feeding herself.  We pretty much just give her pieces of whatever we are eating or whatever Jenson is eating, plus vegetables.  She eats mostly real food, though she eats probably about 1 pouch a day because its the easiest thing to give her when you can’t get the food to her fast enough.  She SCREAMS for food if you aren’t fast enough.

 

Movement: Her crawl was still a scuttle.  She sits on one knee and propels herself along with one leg – she looks a bit like a spider or crab.  When she tries to crawl fast on both knees on the wood floors she just peels out, so she adapted to this method.  She loves to dance and clap, and pulls herself up to everything. She cruises around the furniture pretty well and I kept expecting her to take steps, but she never let go.  When she wanted me to pick her up, she’d use my pants to pull up to stand against my legs.

Milestones:
–Cruising all over the place
–Standing up
–First Christmas


–First Birthday!!


— Top tooth starting to come in
–She “winks”, which is more like a hard blink, but she does it to show off.  So cute.
–New words: thank you, all done, bye bye, again, Hi Boof, reindeer, stinky, pupa (for puppy), doda (for doggie), where Jenson?

Favorite toys/activities:
–Getting to things she couldn’t get to before now that she’s cruising and standing up easier
–Baths
–Reading books

–Eating….and she means NOW
–Her pacifiers.  She loves them.  One in the mouth and one in each hand.
–Being tickled – she has such an amazing belly laugh, and she’ll make a tickle motion on her belly when she wants us to continue
–She still loves musical cards and got a “new” one over Christmas – it was actually an old Father’s Day card of Don’s with a squirrel inside and the theme song from Benny Hill.  She holds it right up to her face and rocks back and forth dancing.
–Kissing stuffed animals and babies

–Any other musical toy.  She dancing and looks around to make sure people are watching
–Wearing silly hats.  She’s not a fan of wearing hats for real when we go outside, but she likes putting them on in the house.

–Her favorite Christmas gift from Santa was Beat Belle dancing robot.  She got so many great gifts from everyone though, and had a blast playing with everything new.

Dislikes:
–Taking things from her that she was playing with…which Jenson has started to do
–Waiting to eat once she’s in the chair
–Being held instead of crawling around
–Sleeping.  She just loves me more than sleep.

Sibling Rivalry:
She LOVES Jenson.  She watches him constantly, and all he has to do is talk to her and she’s happy. She tries to play with him, but he he gets mad when she tries to touch his toys or snacks, and he often takes toys from her.  She doesn’t usually mind very much, but I’m sure that’ll change soon.  He does really like playing with her when he initiates it, and he is gentle with her.

Sounds and Words:
–Big belly laughs
–Loud, girly screeches.  So loud.  I guarantee my hearing has gotten worse this year just because of her screaming.  Everyone grabs their ears when she screeches because it cuts out your hearing like bad speaker feedback.
–Words: mama, dada, boof, papap, papaw, Jenson, baby, thank you, all done, bye bye, again, Hi Boof, reindeer, stinky, pupa (for puppy), doda (for doggie), where Jenson?

Special events:
–Her birthday!
–visits with family
–Christmas and New Years

Looking forward to:
–Longer stretches of sleeping at night (will this always be on my list?)
–Becoming more verbal

Watch Marlowe grow:

marlowe 1 week marlowe 2 weeks marlowe 3 weeks marlowe 4 weeks marlowe 1 month

marlowe 5 weeks marlowe 6 weeks marlowe 7 weeks marlowe 8 weeks marlowe 2 months

marlowe 9 weeks marlowe 10 weeks marlowe 11 weeks marlowe 12 weeks marlowe 3 months
marlowe 13 weeks marlowe 14 weeks marlowe 15 weeks marlowe 16 weeks marlowe 4 months
marlowe 4 months  IMG_7299 IMG_7566 IMG_7671 marlowe 5 months
IMG_8157 22 weeks 23 weeks 24 weeks Marlowe 6 months
25 weeks marlowe 7 months marlowe 7 months marlowe 7 months marlowe 7 months
marlowe 7 months marlowe 8 months marlowe 8 months marlowe 8 months marlowe 8 months

marlowe 8 months marlowe 8 months marlowe 9 months marlowe 9 months marlowe 9 months

marlowe 9 months marlowe 9 months marlowe 10 months marlowe 10 months marlowe 9 months

marlowe 10 months marlowe 10 months marlowe 10 months marlowe 45 weeks Marlowe 10 months

marlowe 46 weeks marlowe 47 weeks  

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this is us

This is us: March 2017

Since I’ve been too busy to post much for approximately the last year or, say, 15 months, I thought I’d do a cliff notes about what’s going on around here.  And then maybe I’ll go back and finally write Marlowe’s 1 year post (since she’s nearly 15 months) and Jenson’s 3 year post (since he’s 3.5).  It almost seems silly at this point, but I just need to do it.  Luckily I write key things down on the calendar, so I can just go back and get info from there because I’d never remember.  And I take a million pics.

Us

  • We successfully took our first family vacation together and Marlowe rode in an airplane for the first time.  We visited my sister’s family in Las Vegas and had a wonderful time.  The plane ride wasn’t bad – especially considering that Marlowe is a wild card.  She screams at the drop of a hat, so I was pretty nervous about keeping her happy on the flight and hoping she’d sleep some.  She only had a couple of screaming bouts…just a couple of minutes at a time.  But it was a nerve-wracking flight, nevertheless, as I was always trying to anticipate what she may want next.  She slept for about 45 minutes each way, so I got a little break, and Lo sat with the kids part of the flight home so I could relax a little bit across the aisle.  A visit is never long enough, but we went to a huge indoor playground, enjoyed Max’s 3rd birthday party (and bounce house!), and went to a cool aquarium.
  • Everyone has been sick, all of the time (read about our Germ Factory here).  We don’t leave the house much.

 

Jenson (3 1/2)

  • Jenson watched Minions a few months ago and is obsessed with it. I find their “language” so annoying, but at least it has a good soundtrack.  He watches a movie about once a week and I’m always trying to convince him to pick a new one.  He watched Secret Life of Pets today…hoping that or something else sticks.  He’s also obsessed with this local band that plays kids’ music – The Shazzbots.  We’ve seen them a few times at events, and they produced a show that’s one Amazon – and he watches it all of the time.  He also loves to watch the videos they upload on YouTube…music videos, videos of them taste-testing Christmas cookies or Halloween candy.  It doesn’t matter what it is…he dances along if it’s music or hangs on their every word when it’s not.
  • When he’s upset/whining/mad/in trouble lately, he cries “I’m not feeling very good”.  Since he’s been sick so much this year, its kind of his catch phrase lately.  We just tell him that its because he’s not being nice and that makes him feel bad.
  • He has hit the 3’s.  He was a dream in his 2’s.  The 3’s…not so much.  There’s a lot of arguing, fighting naps/bed, and taking ALL OF THE THINGS that Marlowe is playing with.
  • He’s still loving school and gymnastics.  He talks about school a lot more than he used to, so I’m guessing he already got kicked out of fight club and it doesn’t matter anymore.  (Neither Jenson or his friend M would talk about school EVER for the first few months – they would literally fall silent when asked – so we always joked that it’s like fight club).  He got to go bowling with his class and had so much fun, and he loves showing me the crafts they make each week.
  • He’s big into pretend play…with stuffed animals, little figurines, whatever.  He has whole conversations between his animals…asking and answering questions, etc.  I love it.
  • When he wakes from his naps, he cracks me up.  He’s quiet and sleepy, and we go to the kitchen to get a snack (something “special” for keeping his pants dry), and he says the funniest things.  It’s things that you can tell he was thinking about while he was trying to fall asleep.  He just rambles about super random things and I love it.
  • Current preferred songs before nap/bed: Spongebob Squarepants theme (he’s never seen the show, but loves to dance to the song), Reading Rainbow theme song (admit it – you remember it too “Butterfly in the sky…I can go twice as high…”) and the Brady Bunch theme song.  He kept asking us for new songs, so we’d just sing a different theme song or commercial jingle, but he got stuck on these for the last few weeks.

Marlowe (14.5 months)

  • After being able to take steps for 2 months, she finally got the whole walking thing down about two weeks ago and tries walking more than she crawls now.  She still struggles with balance and changing surfaces, but she’s doing great.  She will not, however, take steps in the grass yet.
  • She’s getting much more wordy and can repeat most words back to us when we ask her to, like colors, names, etc.  She’ll even repeat “I love you”, but it sounds more like “I wow wow”.  She definitely tries to say sentences to us and expects us to know what she’s saying, but a lot of her words are still pretty garbled.  Other words that she says are really breathy, like “hiiii Boooof”.
  • She’s going through a major teething spurt right now…in addition to 2 bottom and 4 top (all front), she just got her top molars and her bottom molars are coming in…those molars are causing us misery at night…waking every 30-60 minutes some nights…wanting to nurse.  I would love to be done nursing anytime now.  Her, not so much.
  • About that sleep….she slept through the night 2 weeks ago.  Through the night!  I didn’t brag about it, because I knew better.  The next night she woke every hour.  (that was set of molars #1)  On a standard non-teething, non-fever night, she wakes about 2 times to nurse still.  I don’t know what to do about her.  She screams.  SCREAMS.
  • But she’s soooo sweet!  Gives me kisses all of the time…kisses any stuffed animal or figurine that she picks up (and often brings them to me to kiss).  And she loves babies…real babies, photos of babies, babies on diaper boxes, her reflection.  Loves them all and says “baba” for “baby”.
  • She doesn’t like to wear hats for real, but loves wearing silly hats.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get her to wear a sunhat this year, especially with her pale hair and skin!

Val

  • I finally feel like I can manage making recipes/dinner again.  Marlowe is becoming more independent and will play a little bit after nap and she’s not velcroed to me at every waking moment.  For months we were just eating whatever we could throw together and was easy.  Now I’m actually thinking about dinner, buying ingredients, and making recipes regularly.  Sometimes it’s not ready in a timely manner, but we usually have a snack when Lo gets home anyway.
  • I’m trying to pay a little more attention to what I eat instead of sugar-binging constantly.  I’ve been at a weight/size that’s “fine”, so I had little motivation, but it’s still not good.  But I’m just gonna go ahead and point out that Easter week will be sugar bingy…Easter candy is my FAVORITE.
  • Aside from nursing bras, I haven’t bought a new bra in years.  Also, because of nursing, I no longer have the same boobs.  I’ve read a lot of good reviews about ThirdLove bras, so I decided to do the “try before you buy” option.  I filled out a questionairre about my bras/boobs (um, relaxed….) and it gave me a suggestion (classic t-shirt bra).  I only had to pay the $3 shipping and I can wear and wash the bra for 30 days.  If I decide to keep, they charge me for the bra.  If not, I just send back.  The bras are double what I’d prefer to pay – they are about $70.  But I got it and so far I think I’m going to love it (I’ve only tried it on so far).  I didn’t want to love it because it’s expensive…but it’s a bra that I’ll wear a ton – I think I’m worth it.  Some of my bras are close to 10 years old…that’s not good.  I wouldn’t think much about paying $70 for a pair of jeans I love (though I rarely pay more than $50), so why not a bra?  It’s so nice having my boobs be where they are supposed to be when I wear a real bra instead of a nursing bra. Here’s a referral link if you’re interested in trying one too – I believe you’ll get 15% off.
  • I love my babies…even on the hard days.  On the days where I don’t think I can handle one more tantrum…when I’m catching their throw up in a towel…when I’m wondering if things are going to ever get easier…when I miss traveling like we used to…even then, I still don’t want them to ever grow up, and I can’t believe how happy they make me.

Lo

  • Since October, Lo has lost a bunch of weight. He started doing intermittent fasting and better workouts, and it paid off!  I didn’t even think it’s a weight he could get to based on his frame, but he looks great!  It’s the lowest he’s been since high school, I believe.
  • Ever the model husband/father, he still gets the kids up on the weekends so I can get a little extra sleep…gives them baths…stays engaged with them when he’s around, etc.  I’ve even been able to meet up with friends occasionally and go shopping a little on the weekends.  Even though Jenson told me I’m his best friend today (out of nowhere), when Lo is home, I’m chopped liver.  If he asks a question, only daddy is supposed to answer.  If he wants help with something, it has to be daddy.  It’s adorable.  I don’t blame him…I’m sure he gets tired of me.

Boof

  • She’s become a major stalker when the kids have food.  She’s always been like that a little, but usually just stayed to the side waiting for cleanup duty.  Now she’ll sit right in front of them and even take food from them occasionally.  It makes us so mad! She mostly does it with Marlowe -because its effective.  Marlowe will shake her snack cup so it spills for Boof – thus Marlowe rarely gets to use a snack cup.
  • Jenson gets mad at Boof a lot lately.  If he drops food, she eats it (of course) and he gets so mad!  He gets mad if she’s sitting in a spot that he’s decided is his.  He gets mad if she’s standing in his way when he wants to dance.  We’re trying to make him understand that she’s a part of the family and he can’t be mean to her and yell at her, but he’s 3 and doesn’t really care.
  • She hurt her paw somehow and was limping every now and then.  One day she would barely put it down, so we took her to the vet…luckily it was just a sprain or something.

House

  • We have a fully functional garage!  It was built December, electric was put in in February (they were booked up), and the garage openers were installed a couple of weeks ago.  I have a really hard time remembering to shut the door when I pull out since it’s been 2 years since I’ve used a garage, but we can close the doors via our phones, so I just try to remember to check on there.  It’s so nice to have that storage space for mower, equipment, etc., though we need to get shelving and such still.
  • I think the next project is having our driveway repaved.  The cement trucks (for the garage) completely destroyed our driveway and it’s a mess at the top.  It’s just going to keep washing away if we don’t fix it this year.
  • We have to have some trees along the road cut down because they are dying, or in the way of the lines, or are invasive (Tree of Heaven).  We aren’t happy to lose the privacy from the road, but it’s not optional (per the electric company) and they pay for it.  But it still sucks.  We need to get more trees planted asap!
  • There are so many other projects that are still on our radar…redoing the one front porch (possibly converting it to a mudroom), tearing up carpeting (which probably requires refinishing hardwood underneath), refinishing part of the basement (prob not anytime soon), updating kitchen and bath, etc, etc.  But all of these are a bit $$, so one thing at a time.

All in all…other than our kids constantly getting sick (and I mean constantly) we’re managing.  The winter has been a little rough on me to be dealing with sick kids all of the time with no relief (other than if Lo takes over), but he comes home from work early sometimes if he thinks I could use some help when someone is sick.  We had a few nice days where we got to play outside, but we need more fresh air.  I know every winter will feel like this though.