mom’s trip

Traveling is good for the soul; this is absolutely a fundamental belief of mine. I love to go places and experience new things; without hesitation, quality time is my love language and what better way to spend quality time with people than to head off on an adventure.

If you’re looking for ‘proof in the pudding’ … I do not have an engagement ring or a wedding band. My husband and I traveled to Vietnam in lieu of an engagement ring and spent two glorious weeks trekking through that beautiful country. Chicago was a little trip that took place of the wedding bands. While my husband is my favorite travel companion, I was able to travel to meet my dear friend this past week.

She and her family moved to Florida over the summer and the prospect of heading someplace other than Kansas was great. We decided to ‘meet in the middle’ and spent a few days in Charleston, SC. Holy moly — what a beautiful, quaint town. When I returned home, my son asked what we did the whole time and I told him that I talked so much, I lost my voice.

It’s true — we walked 20+ miles in 3.5 days, talked, took a tour of the Aiken-Rhett House, moseyed around The Battery, walked through outdoor markets, and met up for rooftop drinks with my first DC roommate. It was a great way to celebrate 16 years of friendship and the much needed friend time I so badly desired.

Charleston was a breath of fresh air: It was in the upper 70s and was super sunny each day; had some issues with our hotel but they compensated us with prosecco and cake; and we were picked up Friday night by my old roomie in his golf cart and then got to meet his girlfriend and her son.

Everything that went right could have and I returned home to hugs and a visit from my parents (they got to our house about 30 minutes after I did). Friendships are something that I cherish and I try to stay in touch with people the best I can, so this trip where I got to spend a few days with my DC bestie and then get to meet up with another old friend was great.

We all knew each other before significant others — there’s nothing like the people you navigated the waters of your early 20s with. We’d all moved to DC at the same time; I met my bf at the Steelers’ bar my first weekend there and as the only two girls in the bar, we became fast friends. Then, I found a place in Georgetown but needed a roommate: Enter, Roommate — he was the first out of 16 people I’d met who I didn’t think would murder me in my sleep (or when I was awake for that matter). We spent our earliest twenties bar hopping and making not the greatest choices at times. It’s great to reconnect with those we know at different parts of our lives and was fun to reminisce about what life was like before kids and a dog.

I always feel like I’m the best wife and mom I can be when I have time to be ME instead of always H’s wife or 4’s mom and what a better way to be true to yourself than spend a few days with the people who knew you before any of the big life changes did. In a couple weeks, I am taking 4 to DC to get together with friends of mine — these are people in his village who love him and support him from afar. They are also people who knew single me and love me just the same.

Being a stay at home mom certainly can have its challenges. For me, those challenges have nothing to do with my child but rather the difficulties around maintaining my own personal identity and it really is great to have that time which always allows me to come home feeling like I can take on the world … or at least my household.

a week in review

Wow! This past week has been a whirlwind!

3 turned 4 on Monday — with Monday being a school holiday, my husband used his last free PTO day so that we could take the kids to Great Wolf Lodge. I took 3 there in the spring (thanks, Groupon, for mid-week specials) and I’ve wanted to take 11 & 13 (I took them to Water Country over the summer and we enjoyed the slides for a solid nine hours — so, I knew they’d love it). We prepared all kinds of food to take with us: chicken tacos and raw vegetables for the kids and prosciutto-wrapped chicken salads for us for dinner; boiled eggs and fruit for breakfast; and lots of snacks.

We took the 75 minute journey after church on Sunday and were greeted with wolf ears and a chance to hop right in the water. We spent six hours on the slides and at the pool on Sunday; needless to say, all three kiddos ate like savages and were out cold by 8PM. My husband took the kids back to the park Monday morning and I stayed in the room to get some reading done for one of my grad classes; after that, we packed up and headed home. We’d planned to stop for pizza and cookies along the way but 4 passed out, so we adjusted our plans. It was such a fun weekend and I think a much needed break for everyone.

Once we were home, it was back to the grind: 13 had a service meeting after school to prepare for the field trip which was on Thursday, 11 continues to learn more songs on the trumpet (I think he’s up to 15 now!), and 4 had t-ball and his Gotcha-day anniversary. Throw in my husband’s busy work schedule (huge presentation and meetings with his boss while he was in town from CA) and my workload and it made for quite the time.

We got through it and 13 loved her field trip on Thursday, despite the crummy weather with high winds. They went into Boston and had a lunch/dance party on a boat, did a scavenger hunt in the city, and had dinner in Faneuil Hall — highlights included the taco, brownie bites, and seeing celebrities shooting a film. I was so relieved to hear she had a blast — as the wind blew on Thursday, I worried that the trip would be unpleasant. This was another highlight of the week!

Friday rolled in and we put an end to the week with shrimp quesadillas and an early bedtime. Of course, for me, it means I was wide awake at 3AM, so I’ve been in the basement family room, online browsing, and watching Temptation Island. Having a day of separation from the week’s busy allows me to realize all we accomplished last week and how happy everyone was to get in some extra family time and then share personal achievements/excitements.

Our goal for this year (not calendar year, so much — because I operate on a school calendar year) was to be more deliberate about planning a family date each month. In September, the family date day was a camping trip in Salem, MA. I didn’t stay the night (stayed with the dog) but was there each day and this month’s was the Great Wolf Lodge. Next month, our family date date is going to be holiday shopping and dinner out — not as grande a gesture but still should be a fun chance for us to bond outside of the house.

We have a busy few weeks coming up, so it’s nice to look forward to the days where we can stop the busy and enjoy each other. I’m looking forward to next week; I’m traveling solo to visit with a friend — I’ve been trying to get ahead of my school work so that I can enjoy this trip without stress or work to do. I have three library books to read for pleasure and I’m so excited to get this girl time. My parents are coming to visit the following weekend; they try to schedule their visits when 13 & 11 are here so they can visit with them and so the kids never feel slighted for missing a visit.

We are in a season of busy — kids are busy — we are busy — but we are trying to enjoy the down time we have with nightly family dinners, walks, little trips, homemade weekend brunches, and basic conversation. I so very much look forward to these coming days but am happy I took the time to reflect upon this last week. It was truly, very special.

sept reflections, oct goals

Wow! September has flown by! Four-fifths of my household is back in school, myself included and my husband is the glue holding us all together. Lucky him! Personally, I am enjoying half of my classes so far; the other is okay. I am a little disappointed, to be honest: There’s a lot of theorist review, so it’s not particularly exciting but the worst part is that there is very little class engagement. It is a stark contrast to my other class where we are encouraged to try new things and the discussion boards are very active; even in the online platform, I can feel my classmates’ passion and interest in their collective work.

The whole program I am in is online, which is a really big adjustment to me. I’ve been going on campus to the library two nights a week and am treating both classes like an in-person class, so that I have those hours allotted during the week for work. I also try to get things done during 3’s “naps” and when I can take an hour or two to slip upstairs away from the chaos. I think that because I am so excited to be learning new things, it keeps me going and I don’t feel so bogged down with the work. I just hope when all is said and done, that this translates to employment in a library — sounds like such fun work!

13 is enjoying eighth grade and currently has straight As; she is anxiously (and not even the least bit patiently) waiting for the music teacher to announce this year’s musical. 11’s transition to middle school is going as expected; he’s having a more positive experience with peers but is greatly disorganized. We are watching from the sidelines to see how he handles things, which is easier said than done much of the time. 3 is also enjoying school; he’s going super part-time and he just loves his teacher. There are a lot of adjustments for him (big boy bed, front-facing car seat, school for everyone) and he’s having a hard time but I know that he will settle eventually.

My goals around school are to maintain my focus and schedule and in regards to the kids, to maintain my patience. 3 has some rough days and I try to remain calm as best I can. I give myself frequent breaks when needed and have been walking our boy, Bruttie, every chance I can so that I’m getting fresh air and some exercise. I also bought a Groupon for a new yoga studio; my in-laws got me a gift card for my birthday and I finally got around to using it. I am excited to give the next month a go at the new studio; hopefully, I can set down some roots at this studio and get back on my yoga grind. I am going to continue to try box jumps and tire flips. I’ve also been using the Expresso bikes at the gym and really like the workouts pre-programmed. I want to continue with that and also get back to challenging myself by doing a 5K a month — I liked doing the 5K a week in the spring and summer but I kind of doing what feels right each day and I want to continue with that trend.

Otherwise, my health goals are to just continue doing what I’m doing. I have been walking with our Bruttie Boy a lot. It’s good for us both. I have been drinking a lot of water and trying to eat foods that agree with my body and keep the ones that don’t to a minimum. I am just trusting my mind and body more; this is what I always used to do and then I’m not really sure what happened but I want to get back to a place where I can do that.

I also want to continue grocery shopping without a list. It’s easy enough to figure out what we can make based on what I buy and hit the store for a few more items that are needed, if even anything is needed. I am going to try to highlight a meal or two each week that we’ve made and maybe include recipes/pictures so that I can write posts specifically about the meals we enjoy.

Lastly, my final set of goals for October is to bring back Self-care Sunday (or Saturday) where I paint my nails and/or use a face mask. I work out and try to keep a clear mind, so when I think about self-care at home, I think of pampering.  Other things I’m looking forward to in October:
– Apple Picking
– Fall walks
– 3 turning 4
– Bruttie turning 10
– Family date day
– A fresh haircut
– Boots & booties and other fall-related fashion
– Hot toddy consumption: apple cider, lemon, cinnamon, and 1T of bourbon

 

 

meals, sept 13-19

This weekend is starting off with a surprise little trip for the kids! My husband and the kids are going camping — so fun! I am going to head over during the day but return home each day. I know what you’re thinking: It’s a bummer someone has to stay back to keep the dog company 😉

Honestly, though, I am really looking forward to the weekend. We are going to make s’mores and it’s just going to be a blast. A nice little break in the back-to-school routine. My husband and I packed the kids each a book to read with some downtime, a horse-shoe game, a frisbee, and a football.

Last week’s rogue supermarket trip was really nice. I like the calmness of not having to plan everything. I did have to run to the store a few times this week to pick up a thing or two, but overall, I think I’m going to try to shop like this more often. I typically do my shopping on Thursdays, so that gives me Friday morning to look at my haul and figure out what we are going to eat for the week. It’s been nice cooking off the top of my head without following tons of recipes (though, we did get back to True Roots and Cravings last week).

We are going to keep things super simple for the weekend, since everything will be cooked either over a campfire or at the site (they have charcoal grills).

Friday: Hot dogs, carrots, and fruit. I figured that we’d want something simple while we set up the tent and we want to make sure we have time for a campfire and the s’mores that go along with it.

Saturday: For breakfast, we are going to do sausage, egg & cheese English muffins. We are testing out the dutch oven cooker we bought for camping this weekend and will use it for dinner when we make a batch of vegetable chili with s’mores to follow, of course.

Sunday: Same breakfast as the day before. We will be home by lunch and will do a fun little lineup for Sunday football of chips and salsa, homemade pizza, buffalo chicken dip and spinach-artichoke dip. I can’t wait!

Monday: We are back in the grind of life and work and school. I wanted to keep things easy so we are going to do pasta & zucchini with sauce and chicken sausage and salads.

Tuesday: Taco night with crunchy tacos, ground beef, refried beans, and beets. This is probably our favorite dinner of the week, honestly.

Wednesday: My husband is going to make his family favorite and ever so famous buffalo chicken salads (Pittsburgh style, with fries, cheese, and hard-boiled eggs). These are amazing.

Thursday: Black bean tacos with salad.

Having the kids make their own lunches and breakfasts has turned into, to put it ever so lightly, a nightmare. They ‘forget’ to eat breakfast most days and 11 literally packed himself a container of lettuce and nothing else one day; the next day, followed it up with a meat stick and popcorn… only. In an effort to make things super easy on everyone; lunches are going to be largely pre-made or sandwiches until 11 & 13 are better able to get themselves set up — this week, I grabbed meatballs, breakfast sausage (so they can finish the french toast bites), and things to make sunbutter sandwiches. I also grabbed two boxes of cereal bars and a box of applesauce, so there is something for my husband to keep in the car in case they forget breakfast.

My husband is going to try a new breakfast idea for the week with getting bell peppers, slicing them in half, and using the pepper to hold an egg, some quinoa, and ham. Hopefully, he likes this; we are always trying to find things that will work as a post-run breakfast after school drop-off. Lunches will be cauliflower and rice or quinoa bowls with chicken sausage, peppers.

My meals aren’t really planned during the week. I typically eat eggs for breakfast and salads for lunch but sometimes I grab something while out and about with 3, so we don’t really plan anything. This is something that’s nice about being home and not having to think about what we will have because we can always go to the store if we want something specific.

meals, sept 6-12

Well, it’s official: We are finally entering our first full week of school. 3 starts preK-3 on Monday and I’m sure someone will shed a few tears about it. (It’s me. I’m the someone.) We went today to pick out a new backpack. I wish Pottery Barn Kids didn’t carry such cute things, but they do and thus they can take all of my money. He picked out a camo blue small backpack, which will fit his school folder in it. 3 is really anxious about starting school but I think it’s going to be great for him. There are only a dozen children in his class and his teacher is straight out of college, so I’m hopeful that he will have the energy required to keep up with my child. I can’t wait for him to make some friends and talk about his days; I’m truly looking forward to it.

After our trip to PBK, we walked to Whole Foods and did our grocery shopping for the week. There I was, a typeA, overbearing, over-planned mom without a list or idea of what to make next week. The two of us basically grabbed all of the fruits and vegetables that sounded good to us at the time, swung by dairy for some kefir and nutpods, and then hit the meat counter. I have a free trial of Amazon Prime that I used to get my textbooks, so I got the discount for that at WF. I saved nearly $20 and now I get to struggle with figuring out if it’s worth getting Prime or not — I rarely shop on Amazon except to buy meat sticks and, in this case, textbooks (thanks to the free 2-day delivery). I am happily accepting any weigh-ins around Amazon Prime and whether or not its worth it…

Until then, I looked at my meats and vegetables and came up with this loose plan for the week (Who even am I right now?!):

Friday: I have a dentist appointment in the afternoon, so I wanted something quick and easy. We are doing kraut and kielbasa with mashed potatoes. I can’t wait.

Saturday: It is unofficially fall and I am eager to make Chrissy Teigan’s Cheeseless Eggs (Cravings). The Defined Dish posted a soup recipe this past week on Instagram and noted that Nutpods can be used in place of heavy cream; so, I grabbed some and will test this out over the weekend. We will also add the blistered tomatoes and possibly the garlic bacon to this ensemble. I have no idea what we will have for dinner — maybe we will try blackened grouper and have it with leftover potatoes and sautéed spinach. Sounds good to me!

Sunday: I bought leeks and we have some Italian sausage, so I may want to do a frittata of some sort, but we will see what we are in the mood for when Sunday AM rolls around. Sunday being the first full day of football, we are going to really dig in and enjoy — my husband is going to make buffalo wings and we are going to try our hand at making blistered shishito peppers; we will keep things simple and serve this with carrots.

Monday: We are going to do roasted chicken (True Roots), roasted potatoes, and roasted beets. Everything in the oven at once!

Tuesday: I am thinking that mushroom, pepper, zucchini, and spinach fajitas will be in order; simple and quick. Plus, if we have any leftover chicken, we can toss it in with them. I bought the Siete cashew queso to go along with this.

Wednesday: I am thinking a sheet pan meal of chicken thighs, potatoes, and carrots with a stone-ground mustard. I saw the recipe online but will probably just toss some mustard and spices on everything and back it until it’s done. I’m so savvy in the kitchen; what can I say.

Thursday: I grabbed a flank steak at the meat counter and plan to marinate and grill it and serve it with some sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes.

I bought a gigantic tub of spinach (can you believe that TWO POUNDS of spinach is only $1.50 more than 10oz?! Me neither.), so I will be eating this for lunch most of the week. I will probably thaw and cook shrimp to go with it — now that the dinners are going to get increasingly heavier, I’d like to keep my lunches a little on the lighter side and loaded with nutrients. I also will likely bust out the Vitamix this week and get back to making my cinnamon smoothies or match smoothies that I enjoy so much!

summer’s last hoorah

This was the last full week with 13 & 11 of summer vacation. We started out the weekend with a trip to a local arcade where we all played games and did the batting cages; then we had ice cream before lunch and then pizza. (And, if I’m being honest, we had the rest of the pizza for dinner…) It was a great day and a great way to kick off the last week of summer vacation with everyone.

Monday, 3 was having a time, so my husband stayed home with him. I took 13 & 11 to one of our local beaches and was so excited that a friend of mine also met us there! We jumped waves and boogie boarded; had a snack lunch; and enjoyed a solid six hours out in the summer sun.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I had appointments and my husband was working from home. I chopped all of my hair off on Tuesday per the suggestion of my stylist and love the fresh, new cut. My hair has been to the middle of my back for the last few years and a collarbone cut was exactly what I needed. I ran some errands and headed to campus afterwards to try and finish my application and set up Internet on my computer — wasn’t successful in either of those attempts but I did get my student ID.

On Thursday, the Red Sox had to finish a suspended game from the other week. Because the game was to start at 1PM on a weekday (top of the 10th inning; tied 4-4), the Sox were offering free tickets for all kids and $5 tickets for adults. I grabbed myself a ticket and headed into the city with three kiddos and some singles for the $1 hotdogs. What a great lunchtime activity! We met my husband afterwards and he took the kids home so I could meet a friend for dinner. All-in-all, a tiring but fun day!

With Friday being our last day of vacation, we wanted to spend some time at the beach but the weather had another plan, so we hung out at the house until after lunchtime. Then, I dropped them to their mom and 3 and I headed home for nap time. 3 and I are heading on a trip next week to visit my parents and he is looking forward to playing in his red house and showing ‘grammy’ his “big, round belly” … I’m sure lots of s’mores and ice cream and fresh garden vegetables will be heavily consumed during our trip. Personally, I’m looking forward to tomatoes — all of the garden tomatoes!

When we return, we will visit with my in-laws for Labor Day and then the grind will really start. My graduate coursework starts that Tuesday and my stress levels/anxiety are just through the roof. I am sure once I have the syllabi to figure out the timing of everything, I will settle in quickly. 3’s school year doesn’t begin until a little later, so I get a little more time with him before settling completely into my fall routine.

For the fall, I am hoping to get back into the swing of working out and yoga. I typically am able to get into routines more easily at the start of the school year and I’d like to get back to a better exercise regimen. I have watched my diet all summer (enough anyway) but haven’t exercised much outside of walking the dog. I also have a gym membership through my program, so I am hoping to get to the gym there to lift and swim at least once a week. We will see what goals I set for myself in the next few weeks…

infertility, pt3

I started this post back in May and was reminded of this particular experience I shared the story with a friend over dinner and drinks last week.

With it being Mother’s Day weekend, I was thinking back to our IVF days. Those days were particularly difficult for my husband and me (and our marriage). As I was reflecting, I couldn’t help but think of our trigger shot day from our first round of IVF.

I was having all kinds of hot flashes from the hormones, so we’d been sleeping with one of our bedroom windows open (and two fans on). In February. In Boston. It was great to have the windows open for this particular experience.

My husband watched a few videos from the pharmacy’s online portal and then told me what to expect: “The video said to use a dart-like throwing motion.” I was standing in position, staring down at my phone that blared Busta Rhymes and my husband prepped the area.

Then, bam.

I screamed. The dog went ballistic, barking and growling at my husband. My husband was frantically yelling, “Don’t move! The needle came out! It’s stuck!” I stood screaming while the dog tried to protect my honor, all with a giant needle sticking out of me. Because the trigger shot needs to be timed just so, we all had to quickly calm down and try again.

Fortunately, our neighbors are the gracious types. Nobody has ever asked what all of the screaming was about, nor did anyone call the police. My husband kept repeating, “I told you it was going to be like a dart?!” and I kept responding, “I’ve never been hit by a dart before?!” This was an intramuscular shot and one of the hundreds of shots administered by my husband (fortunately, the only one with such a mishap)…

Surprisingly, after this particular IVF cycle, we continued on with more treatments before deciding to call it quits with fertility specialists, shots, and mood swings and shifted our attention and energies to growing our family through other means. ENTER, a visit to our local Jordan’s Furniture store to talk to a representative about DCF fostering/adoption and signing up for MAPP training.

While we had not planned on this particular timing; fostering youth was something we’d discussed because it was always something that I’d wanted to do. My grandparents had five bio children and, because that wasn’t enough, fostered constantly to share their home and chaos with those in need. This was important to me and soon, us.

It wasn’t long before we started our first training class, but that’s a whole other story…