Jenson update: 4.5 years

This boy is the best.  He has such love in his heart, and is so sweet and fun.  He’s happiest when he’s making others happy, but he;s also sensitive and shy, and feels things deeply.  He loves music and being silly and telling knock knock jokes, even if they don’t quite make sense – you can’t help but laugh.  And he loooooves superheroes.

I’m so sad I haven’t done these updates as often as I’d like because I want to bottle up every moment with these kids and not forget a single thing.  My last Jenson update was at 3.5 years old, so obviously he’s changed SOOO much, because he’s closer to 5 than 4 when I wrote this (and never got around to publishing).  For consistency sake, this update is just through June 2018.

 

In this last year, Jenson completed his 2nd year of preschool, took gymnastics, swimming, and played soccer. He actually went to 2 one-day a week preschools – on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  We all had a MAJOR preference to Thursday school, where he went last year. Tuesday was ok…it just wasn’t what we were expecting and he didn’t like it as much for a variety of reasons.  He made lots of friends in his schools, though if we’d see them around town, he’d usually be too shy to talk to them.  So I don’t know if he talked to kids in school or not.  He’s still obviously quite shy, but when he’s somewhere that kids are playing, he finds a kid and starts playing along with him until it’s time to go – and he has so much fun and always says he wants to play with his “friend” again.

He and Marlowe now play a lot together. Sometimes nicely, other times, not so much.  Marlowe is a little more “wild” than he is, so some of that rubs off on him.  In return, he does things he knows he’s not supposed to, and Marlowe copies him…because she always copies him.  But often they play amazingly well together, and they have a lot of fun.  My biggest hope for them is that they’ll be close, and will be there for each other.

  

Jenson update: June 2017 – June 2018
Age: 4.5+ years old
Weight: 39 lbs. (+4 since age 4)
Length: 41ish inches
Size: 4T-5T clothing

Sleeping: He’s very consistent with sleeping.  He typically falls asle     ep around 8:30/9 pm (try to be in bed by 8:15) and wakes around 7 am.  He stays in bed until his “Ok to Wake” Clock turns green still, but now he’s allowed to get up on his own and come downstairs then.  He’s so excited to be able to do that on his own.  He usually still takes a nap.  For awhile, it seems like he was about to give up his nap and was only falling asleep every couple of days.  Eventually he was back to sleeping every day for at least an hour, usually 1.5 hours.  He’s the sweetest thing when he wakes up from nap.  Our bedtime routine has been a bit extensive, but we’ve been streamlining it lately.  After we go upstairs, we read 2 books and watch 2 songs on YouTube – everyone gets to pick something.  Lo takes Marlowe to bed, and I put Jenson to bed.  He and I talk and I sing 2 songs.  He always asks for new songs, but I run out of songs off the top of my head…we end up doing a lot of Elton John and Peter Paul and Mary.  He likes to do “If I had a hammer” and he makes up the thing in the next verse – usually tools.  I sing – if I had a______ and he fills something in and I go with it.  We talk about our favorite thing from the day, if anything made us sad, and what we’re looking forward to.  It’s a good way to remember fun things about the day, and discuss anything that may be bothering him.  We snuggle for a bit and he tries to get me to stay longer, and I give him a million kisses.  I love it. (this has changed slightly due to a recent sibling room-sharing arrangement)

Eating:  He’s a picky eater still.  It seems to be a texture thing, but he still doesn’t like meat or vegetables.  He’ll eat chicken nuggets, but that’s about it – and sometimes he wants to be picky about those.  We’re trying to get him to do one tiny bite of vegetables – he’s mostly complying and doing okay – we usually have to bribe him with something.  He still promises to eat things when he’s older.  The pediatrician said that we don’t need to worry about it that much right now.  He eats all fruits and lots of dairy (yogurt, cheese, etc), so he’s probably getting enough protein, fiber, and vitamins.  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 PBJ sandwich (sometimes a butter sandwich – and they both prefer Hawaiian rolls), a piece of cheese and/or a few pretzels, veggie stix, or 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 gets “something special” if he takes a nap and didn’t have any major behavior problems/listening problems in the morning- a small piece of candy from his parade/holiday candy container, or a popsicle or cookie.

Word Up:

Favorite sayings and misspoken words

  • Every night we talk about favorite and least favorite part of our day, and sometimes one of us will ask during a particularly busy day what the favorite part was so far.  But Jenson says – “what was your favorite part of the day so close?” instead of “so far”. I love it.
  • We were making up a song while I laid in bed with him at bedtime and he was trying to think of an object – he said “oh – Jungle Jack”.  I was like, what?? He said, you know the things you climb on at the playground.  Jungle Jim, lol.  Jungle Jack sounds like a cocktail.
  • He loves to tell me how much he loves me.  He’ll either say the phrase from “Love you Forever” book – or he has us rotate lines “I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby/mommy you’ll be”.  Lately he’s been telling me he loves me from Earth to Mars and all the way through the planets and back around to Earth again.  HOW SWEET IS THAT?  And I’m his favorite mommy, thankfully.
  • He regularly will call out “hug time!” or “time for a kiss!” and come over and give me a hug or kiss.  He’s literally the sweetest.  One of his favorite things every is to snuggle.

  • He once told me that he was going to be good forever…and if I ever needed his help, he’d help me…and if I forgot to do something, he’d do it for me.  He’s said this several times since, but his follow through on his promises is lacking.

He’s still so empathetic and intuitive and I hope he never loses those qualities.  The other day we were having a perfectly nice morning…I hadn’t yelled at anyone, lol, we got out of the house on time, etc.  We were in the car and he said “Are you mad at me?”  It kind of broke my heart because I don’t know why he thought that.  Maybe it was a look on my face (I do have resting bitch face) or I wasn’t very talkative.  But he just notices everything – even if they are unintentional.

Fun things: Since it’s been a year, it’ll be impossible to cover everything, but here are some highlights for each month.  Luckily I take a billion photos, so I can recontruct each month this way.

  • July 2017: Started with a couple of days with his Dayton-area cousins and then Nana over the 4th.  Gramma and PapPap came for their July car show and we went peach picking with Gramma.  My niece Sadie came to stay with us for a few days.  We headed to my parents for a long visit with with all my sisters’ families. He got to hang with his Vegas cousin Max, and it was his first time meeting Owen (2 months old).  We celebrated my parent’s 50th anniversary and visited Noah’s Ark Animal Rescue, which was awesome (jungle cats, bears, monkeys, lemurs, etc)

  

  • August 2017: We had another quick visit from Gramma and PapPap to pick up a car they’d left here.  My SIL and family came to stay for a night.  We went to Olentangy Indian Caverns, PBJ & Jazz Concert, and lots of other local attractions like the Zoo, museum, touch-a-truck, etc.  We had a visit at Lo’s parents for a concert with his parents, and Lo and I had an overnight trip to Cincy for a Red’s game with Avett Brothers concert.

  • September 2017: We headed to Indianapolis to see my niece play in a college soccer game and then stayed another night at my SIL’s.  Then it was back to school time! He was still doing his Thursday school from the previous year, but we added Tuesday school at another church to give him a little more school. They were both 3 hour programs, and he really liked going each week.  He also did preschool gymnastics at the Y and had a good time with that.  We headed home for a weekend to see my nephew play football and my niece play volleyball.  The end of the month wrapped up with my BIL’s wedding.  Jenson was a ring “bear” and he did so well and was so excited to do it.

  • October 2017: October is definitely Jenson’s favorite month because it’s his birthday month AND Halloween.  We had a fun “Tractor” birthday with his friends and family.  He wanted a pink tractor and luckily I was able to find one for his cake and have a shirt made with one.  We had a bounce house, corn “bin” to dig in, and perfect weather.  We had lots of fall fun, with farm visits, pumpkin patches, apple picking, Zoo visits, and lots of outside time in the fall weather.  Of course he had several times of trick or treating again.  He had his school Halloween party, trick-or-treating in a neighborhood near us (he wore his dinosaur costume), trick-or-treating in our friends’ neighborhood (he wore his new cowboy/horse costume), Hoot Halloween event (he went as Mickey and Marlowe was Minnie), and the Halloween party at the church where his school is held (he wore dinosaur again).  He rode on a bus for the first time (with me) for a class field trip to Harvest Adventures for farm fun activities.

  • November 2017: The kids had dental check-ups (no issues, though he gags when they try to xray, so they skipped that).  They stayed at Nana’s for a weekend.  Jenson had a Thanksgiving lunch/program for Tuesday School, and we went to the Chinese Lantern Festival.  We headed to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving, and then to Dayton for the Shriner’s Christmas Party.

  • December 2017: Jenson’s 2nd favorite month is December.  It started out with Holiday Hoot and dancing with Santa (he wouldn’t let go of his hand, lol!) and the Santa parade in Johnstown.  We cut down the Christmas tree on a nice warm early evening and decorated it that night. He loved going through the ornaments and talking about the ones he remembered.  For years I’ve been buying an ornament on each trip we take, and it’s fun talking to him about them.  St. Nicholas left some gold chocolate coins, Christmas pjs, and a book.  Nana came up to see Jenson’s Thursday School Christmas program, and then his Dayton cousins/family came up for Breakfast with Santa at Rusty Bucket.  The kids spend the night at Nana’s for cookie decorating and so that we could go see The Nutcracker at Ohio Theatre.  We went to a fun birthday party at an inflatables place for his friend.  He had his Tuesday School Christmas Program.  We made cut out sugar cookies and decorated them.  It was really fun with him because he could cut out the shapes by himself this year.  I was the “roll-out lady” and he was the “cutter”.  When it was time to decorate, I was the “icing lady”, and he was the “sprinkles guy”.  He was very serious about our roles.  We also did a gingerbread house.  We celebrated on Christmas Eve with Lo’s family so we could be home on Christmas Day.  Jenson had recently gotten into Superheroes, so his Christmas gift highlights were Hulk hands, Thor Hammer, Spiderman Chutes and Ladders, 4 Marvel “dolls” from Nana, several sets of Duplos from family, Blaze Adventure Island and various Monster Machines, Paw Patrol stuff, small trampoline, a big doll house (for both of them) and SO much more.  Our kids are very spoiled by family.  We went home to visit my family after Christmas/over New Years.  We celebrated my Dad’s 77 birthday, Marlowe’s 2nd birthday, and Grandma-Great’s 91st birthday, and of course, New Year’s Eve/Day.  It was a pretty great year.

  • January 2018: January brought lots of snow and COLD weather, but a few nice outside days.  We went to a 3rd birthday party for his cousins, Luke and Levi (had a cake for Marlowe too since we were out of town for hers).  We went through the first bout of stomach flu.  He started a gymnastics class for boys and REALLY liked that.

 

  • February 2018:  He had a school field trip with Tuesday school to the library. He was going to ride the bus with the class (I was driving because I had Marlowe too), but he got nervous and teary before they left, so he rode with me.  We had more snow fun, plus lots of days where it was too cold to play outside.  We went to Nana’s so Jenson and Sadie could go to the Shriner circus with their dads and Nana.  After Valentine’s Day, we had another visit to my family.  His Thursday School went bowling and he had so much fun.  He won on his lane with around 77, even though his ball stopped rolling in the middle of the lane 2 different times.  He started swimming class at the YMCA, and we all went to the Zoo on a nice mild day.

   

  • March 2018:  The month started off with a fever for Jenson. We had a couple of short visits with Aunt Jackie and Aunt Amber and Emma.  We checked out a kids museum that’s about 45 minutes away in Mount Vernon called SPI (Science Play Initiative) and they loved it there.  We also got to see a planetarium show at the planetarium at Ohio State.  He enjoyed that a lot, as he’s pretty interested in the stars and planets.  Finally towards the end of the month, we had a few Easter Egg Hunts.  We headed to Indianapolis over Spring Break time with Lo’s sister’s family.  Initially we were going to go to an event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (some sort of trials/qualifying…I don’t remember), but it was cancelled because it was too cold for cars to run on the track.  The first day we went to Indianapolis Children’s Museum, which seemed great, but it was WAY too busy to enjoy as much as we should have – especially for the price of admission.  We swam and hung out at the hotel with the kids, and the next day headed to the Speedway for a bus tour around the track and a tour of the Dallara Indycar Factory before having lunch and dropping the kids off at Nana’s for two nights until we returned to celebrate Easter with his family on the 31st.

  • April 2018: We had a fun Easter with going through Easter baskets and playing outside for much of the day.  The big fun for the month was going to Sesame Street Live at Palace Theatre, and then heading to visit my family for an after Easter celebration (and obviously an Easter Egg hunt).  Jenson started a soccer program (no games, just learning), and we had some great weather for a Zoo Day and other outside play.

        

  • May 2018:  The kids had dental exams, with no issues, and we checked out a new library (Granville).  We left Jenson at his cousins and headed to Indianapolis for Lo to run the Indy Mini Half Marathon.  After we picked him up, we headed up to Mansfield to check out the Buckeye Children’s Museum, Carousel, and then to Comfort Inn Splash Harbor, which is a hotel with a small indoor waterpark.  Jenson had his end of the year program for Thursday School and we went to WildzFest at The Wilds to hang out with some Superheroes.  Jenson wrapped up his last days of school and I headed to Vegas for Owen’s 1st birthday with my mom, while the kids stayed with Lo (with a visit from Nana).  We got back just a few hours before his Tuesday school class picnic.  Gramma hung out with us for the rest of the week until we headed with her back home for mu niece’s graduation party over Memorial Weekend (while Lo went to the Indy 500). We headed home for a family-friendly Memorial Day pool party at our friends’ house (very different than Memorial Parties of past), and then Jenson had his last day of soccer.  He learned a lot with the program and loved it.  He’s not quite aggressive enough to go after the ball while scrimmaging, but he had fun and did better at goalie.

  • June 2018: We went to a Crew game in search of Crew Cat (and very little watching the actual game), the Newark Strawberry festival 40 minutes before it closed on a Sunday, and an opening of the Sci-Dome Planetarium at The Works. Next up was a vacation to Grand Haven, Michigan with Lo’s sister’s family.  We stayed in a condo together, and even though it was only a 2 bedroom, it turned out to be the perfect size for our two families.  It was a block from the downtown area, and just a 5 minute drive to the beach. Speaking of the beach, this was Jenson’s first beach trip, because we always go to Vegas to visit my sister and her family.  He’s been to Vegas an abnormal number of times for a 4 year old.  He (well, all the kids) looooved the beach.  The water was only 58 degrees, but it really didn’t feel that bad  -and it’s not deep, so I could walk all the way to the ropes and it was barely above my waist.  We had great weather, and the kids spent most of the 2 days of beach time running back and forth with buckets of water to “melt” the sand, make “soup”, and whatever else they were doing with it.  They had a blast.  We also went to Holland for a day to check out some Dutch-themed places, and then played at a fun playground on the last day before we headed to Davison, MI for my nieces graduation party.  We picked a hotel with a pool, so we had lots of swimming time there, plus my parents, 2 sisters, niece, and BIL stayed there as well.  We wrapped up the 2nd part of the month with visits to a new park, the library to watch Moana, a splashpad with his cousins, and Popcorn Pops Concert with Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and a visit to Nana’s, so he could spend a couple of days at his cousins and then Nana’s house.

Milestones:

  • Finished his 2nd year of preschool
  • Enjoyed his 6 week soccer program
  • Can write all of his letters (though sometimes he needs an example because he doesn’t want to mess up)
  • Can draw things on purpose, as opposed to drawing shapes and declaring them to be something. He likes to draw the solar system, and it’s awesome.  To be fair, he uses an example to get them in the right order, though he actually knows all of the planets really well (I think he learned them from Bob the Train).

  • Lo finally found out Jenson could dress himself.  I just found out this month that Jenson had Lo convinced that he didn’t dress himself for the past year.  So on the weekends when I sleep in, Lo would always help him get dressed.  Meanwhile, every day this past year, I literally just tossed his clothes at him and walked away.
  • He’s great at addition.  I can say – what’s 10+10, and he immediately says 20.  I thought that maybe he had some memorized, so I asked him random numbers, (5+3, 6+5, 20+20, etc) and he can answer within seconds.  I don’t know where he picked this up, and I don’t know how to foster it, because I suck at math.  He’s also trying to sound out simple words to spell them, but when he’s not sure, he’ll just throw out a bunch of letters.
  • First trip to the beach

  • I’m sure there’s a million others, but when you don’t post for a year, it’s hard to keep track.

Favorite Toys/Activities

  • Playing outside, at the playground, and throwing rocks in the creek

 

  • Museums and play places
  • Going to the library and coffee shop for story time
  • Picnics
  • Favorite shows: Muppet Babies, Octonauts, Mutts and Stuff, Special Agent Osa, and any superhero show or movie that is appropriate for his age (LEGO superheros and a few other options, but not he “real” ones). He also likes Minions, Despicable Me 1, and Despicable Me 3, but not Despicable Me 2 (because its “scary”).  He recently watch Moana at the library and liked it too.
  • 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
  • Sadly, he really isn’t playing with any of his toys right now and its really frustrating because he wants to be entertained. He doesn’t do puzzles or what to play with anything unless Marlowe already has them.

Dislikes:

  • Leaving the house in a timely manner.  Anytime we are going somewhere, it takes forever to get him out of the house.
  • Sharing.  Now that Marlowe is older and playing with toys that he also plays with, it’s a problem.  He’s fine at sharing other kids’ toys with them, but he’s not good at sharing his own toys (or house toys) with others.  Keep in mind that he doesn’t play with his toys unless someone else is trying to.  (talk about frustrating)

I cherish…

This sweet boy.  Even though he has his moments, he is really, truly, so loving.  My favorite time of the day with him is when I put him to bed.  We talk about the day, about what’s coming up, and we sing and snuggle.  Sometimes I’m in there for 35 minutes, other times for just 10-12, but it’s just me and him, and I love it.

 

Looking forward to: (some of these things have occurred since I started this post and then forgot about it.

  • Vacation to Vegas and San Diego in August (first visit to the ocean!) (already happened, and they loved every minute of it)
  • My niece is moving in with us to go to school in our area – the kids are beyond excited (already happened, and they love every minute of it)
  • New school year of Pre-K (4 days a week, which is 1 more than I wanted, but it will be so good for him) (already happened, and he loves it)
  • Fall!  I love it so much and it’s been SOOOO hot this summer.
  • Watching Marlowe and Jenson’s bond grow.

Ask Jenson 3.5 years old

I was finally working on updates about the kids because it’s been way too long and they are growing up, and I saw this post in draft form that I never published!

About a year ago when he was 3.5 years old, I asked Jenson this set of questions (and here are his answers at 2.5 years old). It’s time to ask him these again, because I love seeing how his answers change each year!

Jenson: Age 3.5

Name: Jenson Acauley (pause) Jenson McCauley (he’s been working on the pronunciation)
Age: 3
Birthday: October 6
Mommy’s age: 37
Daddy’s age: 38
Favorite color: “pink chocolate” and green and white
Favorite food: ranch, I mean peanut butter
Favorite dessert:  Ice cream, chocolate
Best friend: Derrick and Drew
Favorite show: Mickey (though he watches Octonauts constantly)
Favorite song: I love you (not quite sure what he’s referring to)
Favorite animal: alligators
Favorite book: Mickey Mouse Find and Seek
Favorite game: Mickey Mouse memory game (?)
Favorite thing to do outside: Play with the swings
What are you afraid of?: alligators
What makes you happy?: Kissing me
What makes you sad?  playing peekaboo (?)
Favorite place to go: the museum (referring to The Works in Newark)
What do you want to be when you grow up? Doctor and everything
What will Marlowe be when she grows up? Doctor and everything
What did you do today? I don’t know…swinging on the swings (the bubble thing, once we reminded him)
What are you looking forward to? my birthday

Things I’m loving lately

Oh, hello there!  Just popping in to tell you about a few things I’m loving lately.  I’d love to promise I’ll be back regularly, but I usually fail when I say that.  Life is busy, and I find myself putting so much time into Columbus on the Cheap, that I struggle to justify writing over here.  It’s silly, because while COTC provides income, this space brings me more joy – and its a great way to save memories.  And I’ve talked about how obsessed I am with recording memories.

Speaking of which, I’ve been doing a great job at sorting photos to (someday) put into albums.  In a world where people no longer print many photos, I actually print too many.  I loved flipping through photo albums as a child, and I want my kids to be able to do the same.  The difference is, is that when I was growing up, photos were typically only reserved for special occasions because you had to buy the film AND pay for it to be developed.  I print so many that I worry they’ll be less special, so I’m trying to really only plan to include the really good ones in the albums, and keep the rest in storage boxes.  As such, as I print photos, I’m trying to be more picky about what to print.  It’s just hard because my kids are the most adorable things ever (says every mother), and so many photos have a distinct memory attached to them for me.

But back to my favorites, here are a few things I’m loving lately….

  • Free People Beach Cocoon

I’ve loved this shirt for so long, even though I just bought it.  One of my good friends has had it for years and we have a photo of her wearing it on our fridge, and every time I’ve looked at it for the past 3 years, I’ve wanted it.  I feel like I remember her saying she got it at Marshall’s, so I never thought to ask her what brand it was so I could look it up (because sometimes those are discontinued styles or hard to find brands).   I finally determined that it’s the Free People Beach Cocoon.  Months ago, Costco had it online for $29 and I was so excited. You guys know how I love buying my clothes from Costco.  I kept meaning to text my friend to ask about sizing, and I forgot…so i totally missed out on getting it there and I’m still kicking myself.  Costco has such easy returns that it was stupid I didn’t just order it.  Well, in the last several months, every single fashion blogger in the world has picked this up as a must-have (Kelley had it first though!). Nordstrom has it, and at the regular price of $76, its way more than I’d ever pay for a shirt.  Anyway, it finally went on sale at Nordstrom for around $44, and I decided I was willing to pay that, even though its probably more than I’ve ever paid for a shirt.  I got the gray and loooove it, so it was worth it. It’s comfy and drapey, and I love the neckline, which can apparently double as a hood if needed.  Reviews were all over the place for sizing, but it only comes in 2 sizes – XS/S and M/L.  I typically would buy a Large, so I went with the L/XL and while it’s a little wide, it’s the look its supposed to be.  So I’d say it’s true to size.  It’s not too wide to leave untucked, or I can half tuck.  It’s a little too short for leggings, but I like it with skinny jeans.  If you see me somewhere out of the house not wearing workout clothes, I’m probably wearing this.  It’s still on sale, but goes in and out of stock constantly (thanks to fashion bloggers constantly suggesting it), and the available colors change often.  I got it in green too, because I love it that much – even for $40+. There are knock-offs on Amazon (here and here), but the reviews are all over the place, so I haven’t ordered one.

  • Old Navy Mid-Rise Rockstar Jeggings

I still loooove my Democracy jeans, but I’ve been grabbing these Old Navy Jeggings regularly to wear lately after my sister told me I had to buy them.  They have a stretchy wide flat waistband (like maternity jeans!), but they stay up.  I can wear them twice before washing, and I love how there’s no button at the waistband sticking out under my shirts.  Democracy jeans only come in limited colors/washes, so I love that the Solstice color (Golden Gate is shown above so you can see the waistband) and I also got the black ones because I didn’t have any black jeans.  Summer loves the deconstructed ones, but I don’t like giant holes in my knees and the pair I received were too deconstructed (plus my kids pick at frays on my jeans and would have eventually torn the frays into holes). I haven’t jumped on the colored jeans bandwagon bc they always make my butt look big, but I may try the Olive ones at some point.  Here are all of the colors.  I actually wore the Solstice ones with my Free People Beach Cocoon shirt today to bowling with Jenson’s preschool.

  • Sand Volleyball
photo via Flannagan’s FB page

I feel like this is almost silly to state because most people who know me know that I play volleyball as much as I can (considering life with toddlers and having moved out of the city away from the leagues).  But I’ve only ever played sand volleyball when that was the only option (in the summer).  I usually just subbed and played in the spot of the person who was out on the team.  But lately…I started playing in a women’s 4’s indoor sand volleyball league, and I LOOOOVE it.  Flannagan’s (formerly home to terrible rec leagues/beer leagues, built an indoor fieldhouse with 6 courts and it’s awesome.  We had games when it was 10 degrees outside and were completely comfortable in there.  Defense is by far my strength, so now that I’m playing in the back spot (you don’t rotate in sand 2’s or 4’s), I feel like I’m at home.  I love the girls I’m playing with, and we went undefeated in our league.  We are playing in a tournament on Saturday, so I’m excited to see how we do.  I’ll play indoor again, but right now I’m happy here.  Of course, once the sand leagues move outdoors, I may have slightly less love for it….the wind, the sun, the rain, etc…were all things that made sand vb less desirable to me in the first place.  But if I’m being honest, my damaged elbow is on borrowed time, so I’ll play while I can, and stop when it’s done.

  • Black Mirror

I started watching this Netflix show after I kept seeing people recommend it.  It’s FAR outside my typical taste, as it’s pretty much within the sci-fi/futuristic/social media gone wrong genre – so much so that Lo already watched it without me because he didn’t think I’d ever want to watch it (he watches sci-fi on his own).  Each episode is separate, like a mini-move, and I’m really digging it.  Some episodes are slightly more sci-fi than I prefer, but I really love the more futuristic ones.

  • The Ordinary Skincare

I won’t go too into much detail about this skincare line right now, but I decided to try it around Christmas when I saw a FB friend/makeup artist post about it.  Basically, they are the same ingredients with high-end skincare, but at low prices.  Their mission is to bring integrity back to skincare; ie show that companies don’t need to rip people off for quality product.   There are tons of options (AHA/BHA hyaluronic acid, retinoid, Vitamin C, etc) mostly priced between $5-$15, and it took me some time to research to decide which formulas to try.  They are free of parabens, sulphates, and other gross things, and don’t test on animals. They also have very little, if any, scent.  I’ll talk more about what I’m using in another post (mostly the ones pictured above), but they do now offer a “The No-Brainer Set” that is simple option to get people started.  This set is a good anti-aging kit, with 3 products for $30.  I order from Deceim (they have a regimen guide to help you pick, plus they are very responsive in the reviews, so there’s a lot of info if you read those), but Sephora now carries a small part of the line too.

  • Sensodyne Rapid Relief toothpaste

I received a tube of this to try out from BzzAgent and have been using it for several days.  I have some tooth sensitivity – apparently from normal age-related gum recession, etc. (because at 38 I’m getting closer to 50, and then your teeth fall out – inside joke).  It’s nothing serious, but a dental hygienist recommended switching brands of sensitivity toothpastes every couple of months, because your teeth get used to a formula (which I was starting already).  I’ve never tried this kind, and I love it already.  I haven’t noticed any sensitivity with cold water or ice cream (currently eating), and my teeth feel clean.  Win-win.

  • The Napping House by Audrey Wood

We have this book in a hardback collection of bedtime stories, and it’s one of Marlowe’s favorites right now (it was one of Jenson’s favorites a few months ago).  I love the flow of the book, and the kids love the repetitiveness. They often say the words along with me, and Marlowe likes pointing out the animals on each page.

  • Water Wow books

Marlowe LOOOOOVVVES to color – and she’s actually pretty neat for her age.  Except she also likes to color on her skin, clothing, sometimes the walls.  We only use washable markers and crayons these days and try to keep the coloring limited to at the kitchen table.  One thing that we like to have for her to use anywhere are these Water Wow books.  You fill the brush pen with water and the color appears when you color the page with it.  When it dries, it goes back to black and white – so totally reusable.  They both really like these, but Marlowe is SO into coloring that they are something I’d call a toddler lifesaver.  All kids who have come to our house have played with these too.  She eventually mashes up the brush too much, or they get misplaced, so I’ve bought more books just for the pen.  I typically buy them on Amazon – they are usually about $5 each, but I also have found them at TJ Maxx for $4-$5 each.  You’ll probably find them at any big box store too…I’ve just never looked. These are great for planes, car, or anywhere.

  • Hint of Spring

We had a hint or two of spring lately, and let me tell you…it felt good.  I know Ohioans complain about the weather all winter anyway, but this year it was brutal.  Lots of separate snowfalls, but too cold to even enjoy it with toddlers.  They don’t keep gloves on well – and most toddler gloves aren’t that waterproof, so I was always afraid to take the out when it was too cold.  We did get to build snowmen several times, sled in the yard, and make some snow angels, but I’m ready for warmth…and Zoo days…and buckling carseats without coats (its so much easier to tighten), and wearing my Tom’s.  Granted, it’s going to rain for the next 3 months, and then it’ll be blazing hot, but I just don’t want cold.

  • And these loves.

Just out exploring.

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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