14 December 2015

Thoughts on Burnout and Blogging

31 posts. That's how many are sitting unfinished in my 'drafts' folder. What happened to blogging? Not just me blogging, but everyone else? I still read my faves, but I often feel like I can't measure up. The posts are unfinished because I'm a perfectionist, I guess. I wrote 90% of a post about a trip to Costco back in August and never posted it. Why is that? And now is it even relevant?

I'm not in this to earn followers (that number has been stagnant for years), make money, sell the craft-du-jour on Etsy, or even try to get freelance writing jobs. But I do love keeping up with my friends' lives (IRL or not; at this point that line has blurred anyway).

My last post was September 25. Here are some biggies since then:

1. Our 6th anniversary on October 3.
We went to an Indian restaurant and feasted like rajas.
2. Audrey started solid foods right after her half birthday.
Sweet potatoes, yum!
3. Halloween, 2015.

4. I did a 'selfie scavenger hunt' on my lunch breaks at work, walking around the city. I only needed 10 to complete it (and get my entry for a drawing, which I did not win), but I ended up finding all 25.
I'm missing a few here, but close enough.
 5. We had a big November snow.

6. My parents came for a visit for Thanksgiving, and I took time off work for the first time since I started working there. (No wonder I'm burnt out, seriously.)

7. The girls saw Santa.

8. And I got a new profile pic for Facebook.

And then I realized I haven't left the state of Indiana in the entirety of 2015 and got a little bummed out. Maybe this weekend I will drive the half hour to Ohio (there's literally nothing over the border by maybe a farm, but . . . adventure?). I also don't even want to look at my 2015 Resolutions/to-do list; probably will be a big bummer as well.

But at least I have cute kids.

25 September 2015

Highs and Lows

Lifelifelife. Infrequent blogging. Blahblahblah.

How about some recent highs and lows so you know the low-down? And the high-ups?

High: I have been walking during my lunch breaks most days. The weather has been bee-yoo-ti-fullll here, as we finally got some semblance of summer. I walk around the concourse at our minor league baseball stadium along with all the other sneaker-sporting office workers doing the same.

Low: 3-year-olds, amirite? I just can't even with this one. She's going through some definite three-nagerdom right now.
She's still pretty cute, though. I think I'll keep her.
High: Audrey is a dream baby. We moved her to her crib a few weeks back (which is upstairs while our master is downstairs), and it's like it wasn't even a thing to her. She's very close to crawling, and already does a creep-type thing. If I walk away for a few minutes, she's usually not all that close to where I left her. Childproofing may need to be a thing here again soon.
She's so happy!
 Low: I got suuuuper sick 2 weekends ago. It was a stomach bug thing that lasted about a day and a half (and no, I didn't even miss any work because that's just how I roll it seems). We had to miss out on going to the free day at the art museum. I guess there's always next year...

High: I had my first-ever review at work (I guess it's only annually around here?), and I got a raise! Hooray me. Insert "you like me, you really like me" meme here. There were some also some other long-term goals that my boss seems to be on board with that came up in that meeting. Like, things that could help my work/family balance actually be, well, balanced.

Low: My husband's courseload this semester is rough. We barely see each other because he's studying all the time. I also have to do Thursday nights all on my own since he has class until 9. (The Thursday thing was going to be a low, but those nights are going pretty well.) Our anniversary is next week so hopefully that will be a nice time to actually, y'know, talk to each other. If I wasn't nursing a baby, I was going to suggest a night at an (Amish!) inn about an hour away. Maybe next year. We're going to an indoor trampoline park instead (thanks, Groupon!). And then dinner or such.

High: Hubs got promoted to Lieutenant Commander last weekend! And I finally got to pin it on him (he had been at sea for his previous promotions). Another raise, too. :)
No more "railroad tracks" for this one!

And that's a wrap.

Thank you to Ana for the blog-spiration.

31 August 2015

Rambling Life Update Post

When I started this blog 5 years ago, I promised I'd never start a post with "It's been a while." So hello. I am here. Sometimes. Let's get on with it.

:: This little one turned 4 months old half a month ago. She finally got to see the doc last week, and she is 14lbs, 11oz. She has rolled belly to back once (maybe twice), but now consistently rolls back to belly and basically hangs out like this during all waking hours:

Then she cries when she gets tired of it because she can't remember how to roll out of it. Sigh.

:: B has re-started school, and Cora has re-started daycare/preschool. She was wayyy more excited than this picture shows. (And I was trying to hold Audrey, who was spitting up as I was taking this pic with my other hand. Always an adventure.)

Cora is now in the Pioneers class. She has now asked both me and B what classes we are in. B is in the "Engineers" and I'm in the "Brokers." Whatever works, right?

:: Since Cora's daycare is for 18mo+, that means we had to figure out what to do with Audrey. Someone I met through online Catholic blogging circles stepped up. She's a homeschooling mom of 4, her husband is an attorney (and helped us write up a Childcare Agreement), she's crunchy enough to be willing to use cloth diapers for us, and her sister is a Sister.

Maybe you figured it out? Audrey is now in the care of Amelia at One Catholic Mama for 4 days a week! I think she likes it.

:: Our church directory pic came in. No apologies for this being a picture of a picture.

Yes, Audrey slept through the whole thing.

:: I got my hair cut super short and everyone likes it but me. We got headshots done at work last week, and I wish I'd just left it long. Sigh. But new LinkedIn pic will be coming anyway because my current one has been photo-shopped (by me) to death.

Okay but really.
This was a GOOD hair day. It's gone downhill since.

:: I made an ad for a charity event/auction's program. I'm pretty impressed with myself. My company has contracted most of our big ads out with an agency, but occasionally these little dinky things come along and usually have a quick turnaround time (I had one day's notice on this). It's exciting to me, though!
(I swear it had a top line in the high res version.)

:: Frugal win: I downloaded the McDonald's app and I'm getting a free sandwich. See for yourself.

I'll leave you with a another cute kid pic.

18 July 2015

Thoughts On a 3-Year Gap

Right before I had Audrey, my mother-in-law kept telling me that Cora would look so old to me after the baby arrived. "She'll look like she's ten!" she kept repeating.

Well . . . that didn't happen. Three year-old Cora still looked like a three-year-old to me. (Both B and I thought she felt incredibly HEAVY after lifting an 8 pound baby for a few days, however.)
Meeting for the first time. Obviously Audrey is LOVING it.
I thought about why my MIL's prediction didn't pan out for us and realized that her first 3 kids were all 2 years apart or slightly less.

Yep, she has the stair-step. Most of my friends have the 2-year stair-step. The one I didn't think I wanted but then envied when it took us longer than we thought it would to conceive another child. After observing Cora and other friends' children, I came to the conclusion that somewhere between 2.25 years and 2.75, our little ones transform from "baby" to "kid." So Cora was already transformed and didn't need a new baby to push her that way.

While I think any age gap between siblings has its blessings and challenges, I think the 3-year one has had some definite benefits for us.
  1. Only one kid in diapers. Less dollars on disposables, less laundry loads of cloth diapers.
  2. The big kid can dress herself. This is just really nice.
  3. She can fetch me things from other rooms and follow multi-step directions
  4. Cora can play unsupervised around baby. I'll admit this took a little work since in the early days she wanted to push Audrey in the swing or get up in her face, but now I can easily step out of the room and take a shower or clean something.
  5. We're not having dinnertime picky-eating battles or bedtime battles any more. Last summer was rife with these, and now we have different battles, but the overall routine of the day seems to go pretty smoothly (although my husband may disagree a bit since he's been the one home with them while I'm at work!)
  6. On a personal level, it was good for me to not be nursing or pregnant for a stretch. I was able to focus on my physical fitness (and mental health) and knock out some goals (like running a 5K in 26 minutes!)
  7. And the best benefit so far: Cora will clean up spit-up!! Audrey has a pretty classic case of infant reflux, so sometimes she just spits up while sitting in her swing or whatever. Cora is very caring and will holler, "She spit up!" so I tell her to get a rag (which we keep everywhere now!) and clean her up. And she does!! Commence lots of lavish praise for my big helper.
I'll obviously take whatever gaps God gives me when it comes to children (I have miscarried before and know the pain that comes from planning one thing and reality being completely different), and I don't think there is a right or wrong number of years, but so far, I am liking this 3-year gap.

I unintentionally wrote a list of 7, so we'll call it 7 Quick Takes for this week! Linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum

06 July 2015

2015 Resolutions: Mid-Year Check-In

I made me some resolutions (slash to-do list) way, way back 6 months ago. Let's see how they're panning out.

1. Have baby, name the baby!
Done, and done! I had said in January that naming was harder than birthing, but I got a stubborn one who had to be induced at nearly 2 weeks late. Named in about an hour after birth, little Audrey Francine has been a pretty awesome baby so far.

2. Still be pumping at work a year from today.
As much as I was dreading pumping, I'm doing great! And I don't dread it. I got my routine down and my supply is doing beautifully. I can pump out her full 4oz. feeding in less than 15 minutes usually (and in my first morning session, it's more like 6oz.) It's too early to say, but I think I'll make it the year.

3. Decorate Cora's room.
Done! The only thing missing is the curtains that I haven't made yet. B has contributed, too. Her room runs really hot in the summer and he bought these tinting decal sticker thingies for the window that have really helped!

4. Read 12 books.
Well, I thought I wasn't on track because my book club read the same book for 6 months (which did not help light any fires under my bum), but actually I've finished exactly 6!

My book list so far, and I'm currently reading another two:

1. Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs
2. The Beginner's Photography Guide by Chris Gatcum
3. Marriage: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures by Amber Dusick
4. Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella
5. Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
6. Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver

And yeah, 2 of those (numbers 3 and 5) are sorta what I call "throwaway books" that I read in like a day. Totally counting them.

5. Run ONE race.
I have gone running once so far since giving birth (one mile, and it was S L O W), so I'm sorta on track! I think my goal is to run the River City Rat Race in October.

6. Host 4 dinners at our house.
We've had one. And does Cora's birthday party count? Or hosting Book Club? (Things to ponder.) My sister and her family and my parents are coming in town this week and we're having a baptism party, so I think I'll count that somehow as another.

7. Learn how to use my fancy camera.
I read the photography book, sorta figured it out but still haven't invested the time or energy to do everything on manual. But I do know my other settings pretty well and have gotten decent shots.
Taken a few months back while Cora ate a snack and I messed around with manual settings.

8. Get that blasted passport already.
Still need a push on this. Maybe we just need to plan a trip to Canada so I get it done.


Basement Update:
And this was on last year's list, but it keeps evolving, so I thought I'd share. I had the goal to clean/fix up the basement back in 2014.

Before everything, here was what we were working with:


Mid-year check-in (a year ago from now) it looked like this:

Nice, right? Except then life happened.

End of the year, it looked like this:

And now, thanks to my wonderful husband, it looks like this!

I had no idea we had beanbag chairs until I took this picture. Where did they come from?
Yep, B's homework table is still there. And the beach chairs stay . . . We'll get a couch eventually.

So those are my goal updates. I think I have a good chance of hitting them all within the next 6 months. How are you doing with your goals?

23 June 2015

5 Faves: Birthday Freebies (That Are Actually Free)

Have I ever mentioned that I'm a freebie-hunter? (Um, most likely.) A motto from my days in AmeriCorps was, "If it's free, it's for me!"

So of course I sign up for the inbox freebies from every company under the sun. I have a 'spam' email account set up specifically for all this junk. My birthday was the beginning of this month, and here are my top 5 birthday freebies that DON'T require you to make a purchase. Just walk in and receive!

ProTip: Don't let them guilt you into buying extras. That's what the other 364 days of the year are for. Just go by yourself (or with your twin?), leave the wallet in the car, and enjoy!

Firehouse Subs

This is the only one that doesn't require a coupon, but it's the only one you HAVE to do on your actual birthday. Just walk in and show your ID, and get a free sub! Hooray!

Baskin Robbins

Free ice cream. Cone or a cup (I always go cone.) Yum! Sign up for the Birthday Club here.

Noodles & Co.
I decided on Pad Thai with shrimp this year, but I highly recommend the Mac & Cheese!
I hadn't heard of this place before we moved to Indiana, but turns out it's an actual chain, and it's quickly becoming a favorite of mine. And it's probably one of my fave birthday freebies because it's a free meal (up to $9 worth!) that easily feeds me for TWO meals. Join the EClub here.


Free Rooty Tooty Fresh n' Fruity pancakes. I learned from my stingy husband that the best way to do this is as a to-go order. Feel free to tip if you want, but I didn't. You can even check this one out early since they send you the same offer just for signing up! Join the eClub here


Okay, this one is a little wonky, but bear with me. It's not good enough to just sign up for CVS ExtraCare. You have to sign up for the CVS Beauty Club as well. But once you do, you get a birthday coupon in your email for $3 off $3 for anything in the store. I usually buy candy, but this year I did popsicles. In the interest of full disclosure, I usually do pay a few cents toward my purchase on this deal. 50 cents for this year, but I think that's been my biggest. Join the ExtraCare Beauty Club here.

Honorable mentions: 
  • Culver's - free sundae (wasn't sure how large this chain was since I had never seen it before we moved north, but looks like it's in about 22 states now!). Sign up for the eClub here
  • Starbucks - free drink; have to register a gift card online, so it technically costs money. Register a card here.
  • Moe's - free entree requires drink purchase ($2.15 here incl. tax), but I love Moe's and that giant burrito served me 2 meals. Join the Moe's eWorld here.

Linking up with #5Faves at Call Her Happy

12 June 2015

Camel Rides, Fat People Crying, and a New Belly Button (7QT)

Baby Audrey is 8 weeks old! Read her birth story if you're into that sorta thing.

So...the blog has been quiet other than the [video] House Tour I posted earlier this week. Enjoy these quick(ish) takes of how I spent my 2 months of maternity leave.

My husband did his annual "2-weeker" for the Navy Reserves back in May. That's in quotes because it actually was 19 days. I remained with both kids at home and only lost my ish a few times. I spent Memorial Day weekend at my in-laws' house to regain my sanity. (I basically just nursed baby, slept, and watched Netflix while my MIL handled Cora. It was glorious.)
Daddy and his Purple Ladies
B visited Pompeii during his time in Italy. His thoughts: "It's like going to the zoo, except if all the animals were dead."

In other big news, Cora had surgery this past Wednesday. She has had an umbilical hernia since birth that never closed (and never will--it should have closed by 2 years old), and that's something that apparently is better to get fixed now before she starts school. My kid now has an innie belly button, but it still looks a little weird to us. :-/

The idea of surgery freaked me out since I've actually never done one. Even my wisdom teeth were taken out under just local anesthetic (it really wasn't bad!). So her surgery was probably harder for me than it was for her. It was a quick procedure and we were home for dinner that night. She's doing fine, and you would never even know it happened except that she's refusing to bend over sometimes. But for the most part, she's back to her semi-obnoxious 'threenager' ways.

I go back to work on Tuesday. I like my job, and boy do I neeeeeed a break from the 3-year-old, but I'll miss my little peanut. I was somehow handed the World's Easiest Baby. Seriously. She even sleeps for an 8-hour stretch at night right now. (I'm currently waiting for the other shoe to drop because this must be some sort of dream.)

B will be a stay-at-home dad this summer, and I'm hoping he can bring everyone for lunch some time. Food Truck Thursday picnic?

This past weekend our town hosted a [very] small Arab Fest, and I dragged B and the girls so they could get in touch with their heritage. (I'm half-Lebanese.) Cora rode a camel and made a bracelet and I ate kibbe.

One of my favorite summer shows is Extreme Weight Loss on ABC. B has dubbed this one (and all weight loss shows) as "Fat People Crying." Have I ever mentioned that B has a type of blunt honesty about him? It's not always endearing. But on the topic of weight loss, check out this awesome article at Patheos by Rebecca Frech on her weight loss and why she's ticked that people keep asking her what her husband thinks about it.

I celebrated my 31st birthday last week on the 1st! It was the day after B got back from Italy. Our original plan was to hit up a baseball game here, but it was too cold! (A June birthday should never be 'too cold' on this continent, but it was.) I did however to my annual birthday freebie spree, and I will be sharing my favorites with you soon. Here's a preview to tide you over.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum

10 June 2015

A House Tour

I realize that we bought this house almost 2 years ago, and I never did a tour here on the blog. I was originally going to do it all in pictures, but how about a video instead? If you came to my house for the first time and wanted to see it, this is the tour I would give. Enjoy!

I'll leave you with a chalk drawing I did of the house yesterday.

How did I do?

For more posts about our house check out this House Updates one (you can see the former kitchen light fixtures and how the dining room used to look in that one) and the rest of them here.