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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Shopping Tips at 'Or so she says...'

3 Ways to Make Shopping at Walmart BETTER can be found on 'Or so she says...' www.orsoshesays.com.

Hey all! So happy to be posting again over at 'Or so she says...' for Mariel. See my tips for making shopping with the kids a little easier. You can click right HERE to be taken to the post on the 'Or so she says...' blog.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Aspen's third dance recital

Aspen finished her third and final year at The Dancing Room. She had her recital on Saturday, and was spoiled by a visit from her grandparents, as well as her uncles and auntie. My parents flew across the stinkin country just to watch a few minutes of a dance recital for a five-year-old. Now that's love.

Something I've loved about about this studio is that the teacher also does their portraits at the end of the year. She does a great job, and only charges a teeny tiny fee for the CD and use of all the images (which is optional). It's so nice to have these natural, beautiful photos of Aspen and her class.

Grandpa Marc and Aspen
The weather was awful when we arrived, so I didn't think to take more photos of everyone outside after the recital. I'm disappointed because it's always so hard to get nice shots in the theater.

Aspen and her teacher, Miss Elizabeth
Aspen had a really hard time near the end of the year, possibly feeling the stress of the upcoming recital, or dealing with the flip-flopping weather, or basically just being a drama queen like her mom... there were a number of classes from which she'd emerge inconsolable. It was usually resulting from something in class not going the way she'd anticipated, and she couldn't resolve the issue. It was hard because she'd insist on continuing with dance, and that she did like it, but she seemed miserable. Her teacher and I talked about it, and we hoped it would pass.

Aspen and Uncle Seth

Thankfully things seemed to turn around for her, and she understood that if she couldn't enjoy dance, she didn't have to do it anymore. We could take a break and find something else she liked. It was a relief when she started coming out of class happy, announcing that she didn't have any tantrums.

Auntie Fifi and Uncle Jose
In a way, I'm really relieved danced is coming to a close for summer break; I am pretty worn out from chauffeuring little people around, especially screaming little people who complain I never let them do anything fun. There were many times Linc was beside himself because I had the audacity to stuff him in his car seat, drive him and Aspen to dance, and then refuse to let him out of the car (we don't stay during her class). I won't miss that.

Aspen and the best brother ever
I'm glad we have a similarly priced studio to attend this fall, focusing on Jazz and Ballet. We'll see how Aspen likes the more structured dance (rather than the movement expressions she's been doing). Some other girls in our neighborhood have been attending the new studio and they've really liked it. I'm hopeful it'll be a smooth transition!

Aspen's first recital HERE. Aspen's second recital HERE.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

My brother, best friend forevvvvver!!!

AND THEN MY HEART EXPLODED.

These kids fight so much during the day and it makes me crazy to constantly hear Aspen tattling on Linc, and Linc screaming because he's not getting his way. BUT. Then they do something like this while watching a show together and I just can't stand how cute it is. I CANNOT STAND IT.

It has been so hard having the energy and mental stamina to parent two kids all day every day... and it's been a suuuuper long journey getting back to being a functioning human after a year of no sleep, but I'm glad I made it to the other side. No matter how much they fight during the day, without fail I'm telling Kev each night about all the adorable things they did and said.

The last two nights Linc has worn one of Penny's shirts and a pair of her leggings to bed. I don't know what possessed him to do so, but I honestly don't care. I just hope they love each other this much forever.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Father's Day Gift Guide

Father's Day Gift Guide on 'Or so she says...' www.orsoshesays.com

You can once again find me to 'Or so she says...' today, sharing a Barnes & Noble inspired gift guide. Included are some books I've read myself and highly recommend, as well as some other awesome titles found at Barnes & Noble. There are also so extras thrown in, as well, so check it out! You can click right HERE to find the post on 'Or so she says...'.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

That Damn Meckel

Ever since Facebook started doing the feature that brings up memories from years past, I've been waiting for this day to arrive. I know that settings can be adjusted so certain events and people won't be included in the Facebook Memories for any given day, but in a weird way, I was looking forward to it.

It was a terrifying time, one during which I didn't know if anyone would figure out what was wrong with Kev before he bled to death. Okay, so he probably wouldn't have bled to death because blood transfusions exist, but that was just a band aid fix for the much bigger problem at hand.

Looking back over these updates, it's infuriating to remember how little seems to have been done to really treat Kev before he landed in an ambulance that morning. Once a specialist has done what s/he can, if there's nothing else to look at, you're done. Bye bye. Good luck figuring out what's wrong with you. The doctor who performed Kev's colonoscopy after his April visit to the ER told him "You're young and healthy! You'll be fine! It's probably just a bug."

GUESS WHAT NO.


I vividly remember so many seemingly random details about that day. I remember which pants I picked up off the floor and put on with my pajama top. I remember sitting on the couch, dumbfounded, talking with my neighbor after Kev left in the ambulance. I remember eating breakfast with Aspen like nothing was wrong, all the while I was freaking out about who would watch the kids for me so I could get to the hospital.

I remember nursing Linc and scrolling through my phone, not knowing who on earth to call, and then feeling prompted to call Amanda. I'm still so thankful she and her husband swooped in and helped me (and then Amanda sent me a message that watching my kids that day had been her pleasure and she was so grateful I'd called her). I remember arriving at the ER with a notebook and pen, ready to get down to business and figure out what was wrong. I remember taking Kev's phone away from him as he was barely conscious, and telling his mom we'd have to talk to her later since Kev was about to receive his first blood transfusion.

I remember my brother arriving at the hospital and setting up camp with me for the next five days in the hospital and, subsequently, at my house. I think I had a sandwich in my purse the first day, but I don't remember eating much, and worried my milk supply would dwindle.


I remember being so grateful Seth was with me. I didn't have to sit by myself and listen to the worries cycle endlessly in my head. He was someone to talk with and just be with when I couldn't be with Kev. I remember going to Amanda's mid-day and nursing Linc, feeling such relief both physically and emotionally. I was so grateful to leave his sleeping little body on a dog bed on the floor of Amanda's room (still makes me giggle) so I could return to Kev.

I remember the gratitude I felt for Matt and Alissa when Matt offered to spend the night in the ICU with Kev so I could go home with my kids and try to sleep. There was also dinner waiting for me when I got home since my neighborhood family was doing what they could to help.

It's hard to believe the medical staff was just grasping at straws that first day. There was absolutely no bleeding from a biopsy site in Kev's colon. The bleed was coming from his large intestines because his birth defect was filling the intestines with stomach bile, which they aren't suited to handle. It must have been so difficult for them to come up empty after the many, many scopes they did that first day. I think Kev had at least three colonoscopies and one endoscopy the day he was admitted.

Reliving this experience via these Facebook prompts is a nice reminder that life is good, and it helps me put things into perspective. So what if Linc has a tantrum for at least an hour every day? At least his dad is still alive to come home and deal with him for me at the end of the day.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Posting Elsewhere

Mommy and Me Date Ideas over at 'Or so she says...' www.orsoshesays.com
My first post for the month of May is up over at 'Or so she says...' as of this week, and it has some fun date ideas for you and your little one. Check out the post for 10 simple, inexpensive (or even free) ideas to get you out of the house together! Post can be found right HERE.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Letters to Lincoln, month 23

Linky Lou-

You're having  good month, little man. You haven't cracked anything open or bloodied up your face this month! Winning!


You've started saying you're going to get bigger so you can go to school with Penny. You love to watch her run from the car, through the school gate and onto the playground. We have to stay until we can no longer see her. You're probably going to be thrilled when she's home all day, every day all summer. With that being said, I think I'm going to get a regular babysitter for the two of you so I can have a couple of hours to myself one day a week to recover. And when we pick her up after school, you love getting two lollipops from one of the bus drivers. You immediately crack yours open, but then you wait patiently at the school door, clutching Aspen's pop while you watch for her. When she emerges, you rush to her and thrust her pop in her face and give her a huge hug. It's so sweet, I love it so much.

One day the lollipop bus (driven by Tim) was late and you counted off the busses that were lined up and ran to the spot Tim's supposed to park. You kind of talked to the other driver (Lorin) and told him the lollipop bus was gone. Lorin got such a kick out of it that he radioed Tim and told him to hurry up so you wouldn't be disappointed. It's a fun little ritual and I'm thankful for school staff who actually like what they do.


Being outside is still pretty much your favorite, and since we recently moved our slide/playhouse to the apple tree (instead of under the pines) you and your sister use it more. I love being able to watch the two of you play together. You also love kicking any ball you currently have around the yard, and it's thrilling that you'll amuse yourself with that while I mow the lawn or weed or just sit in the shade and watch the two of you kids outside.

Sleeping is going really well for you at night, and Dada has taken over the responsibility of putting you to bed. Some mornings you're still snoozing at 8 or 830 and it's MIRACULOUS HOLY CANOLE! I never dreamed we'd get to this point, and honestly thought I'd still be holding you while you slept at this point. When I put you to bed it's actually a long, drawn-out process that makes me miserable. You get so mad now when I have to put you down and give your sister some bedtime attention. It tempts me to move the two of you into the same room to avoid the jealousy at night. So when Dad's home to put you to bed, we're all happier. I hear you guys may or may not watch YouTube videos together sometimes instead of reading books.


You love to feed Maddie (her real food, not just whatever you're eating) and you basically hate eating meals. I kind of gave up and instead just let you graze throughout the day. Sometimes I know that if you sat and ate more food at mealtimes like me and Aspen, you'd be less miserable, but I can't force food down your throat. Hopefully you grow out of this because trying to feed kids who don't want to eat is really annoying. And hangry kids are annoying, too.

Speaking of annoying, you're still in a tantrum phase and it's a little exhausting! Lately you've taken to removing your own soiled diaper and throwing it at me in anger. So that's gross. I'm sorry life is so hard when you're little and that you thought I was trying to change you out of the shirt you'd been wearing for three straight days.


You say some really cute things, though, to help make up for all the tantrums. If I ask if you'd like to do something, you say, "Oh! I forgot!" and then we do the activity. You also say, "SHOW YOU SOMFING MOM!" which you've undoubtedly picked up from Aspen, along with "WATCH ME MOM!" Basically, you repeat everything your sister and I say and it's fun.

We all really love you, Linky. We're excited for your birthday next month!

Love,
Mama

See Aspen's monthly letter HERE.

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Friday, May 06, 2016

A Random Catch-up


Quite some time ago, Kev hung the rolling shade that I bought (three years ago) for the kitchen. It's so nice not having the blinding sun in my face every morning when I'm doing breakfast for the kids. Also, my plant situation is getting a little out of control. I wish every windowsill was up high enough (away from Lincoln) to fill with plants.

When I took that photo, I was thrilled to see Linc and Kev wearing coordinating orange/brown plaid shirts. 

 No big deal, but Aspen made a ninja mask one day and wore it all over the place. Just the usual.


My heart BURSTS when I find these two sitting together on the couch. Whether they're having screen time, reading books or coloring, they can often be found here. I LOVE IT. It helps me forget about all the times they hit each other in the face, and deliberately steal each other's things to induce crying.

Lately I've really felt back in my groove. There are days we go to work in the morning, run an errand immediately following, get Aspen to school, Linc takes a nap, and then we spend a few hours running errands/visiting the library/playing at the park until dinner. And then there's time spent outside watching Kev fly his drone, digging in dirt, or actually using the playhouse we got from Maren once upon a time. I sometimes even walk Aspen home from school, make food from scratch, and stay current with laundry. WUT.

I'm working more than before and really enjoying doing sponsored posts for 'Or so she says...'. It's fun to think of a way to talk about a product or service, and to tweak my photography and learn PhotoShop for enhancing the impact an image can have. Although I'll happily take any free lessons anyone has for PS right now because sometimes I just don't get it.

Kev just started a new job, although with the same company. He's working on a smaller crew in a different building, and he's excited about the challenge. He'll be revamping rooms under new management and while he did take a pay cut, he's just back to where he was before a recent raise at his old job.

Our flower gardens are slowly growing bigger and more diverse, and it's been so much fun (and work) getting them to a point where I don't hate them. I still find myself wishing I could dig up everything and rearrange but that's just my OCD talking.

I accidentally bought a zillion ranunculus bulbs from Zulily, and it's been a challenge to find places for them in the yard. I suppose if some of them never flower I can just keep planting more until they take. But seriously, Imma have ranunculus coming out my ears soon and I'm SO EXCITED. The kids also helped me plant peas, zucchini and carrots, and I bought a tomato plant this year. We're working on the back patch of dirt in the yard and trying to up its viability so I can have a real garden by next spring, but for now everything's in containers. Aspen has enjoyed watching things sprouts, and she talks constantly about eating the carrots she's planted. I really hope she does, because I can't remember the last time she ate a real vegetable.

Aspen finishes kindergarten this month and I can hardly believe it. Didn't she just start a few weeks ago? She's already complaining about how awful summer will be and I'm positively DREADING it myself. We don't have AC so our house is usually 90 degrees and unbearable. But Linc is still taking naps so we have to be home at least for that... I'm hopeful we can spend the rest of our time in air-conditioned buildings or at the pool (since I get in free for working at the Rec center!). That being said, hit me up for play-dates, people.

Aspen's dance recital is coming up and we're psyched my parents will be in town for it. This is Aspen's last year with Miss Elizabeth and while I'm a little sad, we're both looking forward to trying out ballet through another local studio hosted in someone's home. Aspen has changed so much and become so much more aware of herself and while we've had some really rough weeks lately with dance, I think she really is committed to another year. I know that Linc currently looks forward to the day he's old enough to go to dance class just like his sister.

So there we are... a quick summary of some of the things we've been up to. I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks and all the adventures we have in store.

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Thursday, May 05, 2016

Bloom VoxBox from Influenster

I received this product complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.


I seriously love getting mail so much. I just received the Bloom VoxBox from Influenster with a handful of wonderful free samples to review.

The first thing I pulled out was the Sunbelt granola bar... well, actually that's the first thing Lincoln pulled out because he's obsessed. He calls them "blars" and it's so cute I want to die. He devoured all but one bite and handed me the leftover mess, which I ate without shame. Those suckers are GOOD. I've always loved them so I wasn't about to pass up a chance to have a bite, even if Linc got to it first.

After enjoying the Sunbelt treat together I cleaned up my nails with the Cutex pads. I'd never tried nail polish remover in this form before, and I really loved it. I'm always paranoid I'm going to spill my bottle, even when I've checked the lid 100 times, so having the remover on a felt pad was worry free. I sat on my back deck and used one pad to remove polish not only from both my hands, but eight of my toes, too ;). And then I went around for three days with only two piggies still painted and I tried not to care that I hadn't yet made time to finish. I EVEN WENT TO YOGA LIKE THAT WHO AM I?!

Anyway. If you haven't tried polish remover pads, try these! They didn't try out my nails, and they didn't totally sting the little cuts and cracks in my skin around my nails.


I've used Secret deodorant in the past, but never anything with such a flowery scent. That's the only part of this sample I couldn't get behind. I hate fragrance in my deodorants. But beside that, I think the product worked fine. I tried it out at Yoga and wished I hadn't because I could smell that fake flower aroma and it distracted me... but at least I didn't smell super gross due to the intensity of my workout.

When I try out the rest of my samples, I'll get back to you! It's always so fun discovering new things!

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Country Crock from Influenster

I received this product complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.

Am I the only person in the universe who didn't realize before now that Country Crock is actually diary-free?! I had no idea! I've been buying a more expensive butter substitute that I do like, but not many other people in my family do. I think I'll make a lot of dinner guests happy when they have something a little more like butter to spread on their bread.

With my Country Crock sample, I decided to make a new banana bread recipe. It helped that I had two super-ripe (i.e. DISGUSTING) bananas on my counter at the time. I usually don't make this bread with a butter substitute, and instead use applesauce and honey as bonding ingredients/sweeteners.

However, I'm actually not a fan of using the honey/applesauce and sometimes end up using vegetable oil. I don't love the consistency, though, so I'm really glad the Country Crock changed the outcome of my bread for the better.

I used THIS recipe and everyone gobbled it up for dinner last night after running errands. I added a handful of dairy-free chocolate chips and it was so good. I personally don't think banana bread is worth making without the chocolate, amiright?

So if you're lactose-intolerant like me and are looking for a good butter substitute, definitely try Country Crock! I also used it to grease my bread dish because I ran out of cooking spray days ago and forgot to buy more in the two trips I've made to the store since (hashtag winning at life). Thankfully it made it easy to cut and remove big fat slices of banana bread after it had cooled. Because there's nothing worse than a perfect-looking loaf of bread that gets ripped to shreds when attempts are made to extract it.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Salt Lake City Capitol

I got it in my head that I wanted to see the cherry blossoms at the SLC capitol building this year. Unfortunately they blew away just a couple of days before I was able to make it there with the kids.

Regardless, the day we went was beautiful! The temp was perfect and the cloud cover so nice. I knew the kids would enjoy running around no matter what state the trees were in. I've never taken Aspen inside, but she often sees the capitol from the Interstate and has asked to go in.


I invited my friend Emily and one of her daughters and we managed to squeeze in the field trip before her other daughter needed to be picked up from school and before Aspen needed to be dropped off. I'm so glad it worked out!

I think the last time I went to the capitol was in college. I'd forgotten how majestic the 2nd floor is with the staircases flanking the dome. The kids loved having so much space to run around and explore.


Linc looks so little, I can't get over it!


The hexagon tile and the hexagon doors stood out to me. It made me wish my house had all sorts of coordinating features, too.



So although the blossoms were gone, it was worth the trip. Nothing beats free, right?! And there's a lot to see for the kids. I was surprised that after nearly two hours of running around and climbing stairs, Linc refused to nap that afternoon. He was the crankiest, saddest little man for the rest of the day. Kind of a bummer after the morning started out so well.

When I asked Aspen what her favorite part of the field trip was, she said EVERYTHING so I'm calling it a win.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Letters to Lincoln, month 22

Linky Lou-

At your well-visit last month, the doctor was incredibly impressed that you're already speaking in full sentences. I'm not surprised since your sister and your mother are both extremely chatty people, with whom you spend your days. But it's nice to hear someone else weigh in on what Dada and I think are some pretty amazing aspects of your development.


In addition to talking non-stop, you count a little bit, too. Mostly when Aspen prompts you, but also when I'm doing Pilates. You'll lie down next to me on the floor and count my reps with me, all the while swinging your legs around in a freakin' cute imitation of what I'm doing. I guess you can be my little Pilates Buddy, too!

Reading back over your sister's interests at this age, I'm remembering how she could sit and watch a show without interruption; you, however, can only stomach a few minutes of TV at a time before you either ask for a different show (you like Thomas the Train and DinoTrux when you're on your own, but will watch anything Penny's watching, too), or give up on TV altogether for something else. It's totally fine that you're not addicted like your sister, but sometimes I wish I could use TV as a distraction so I can go to the bathroom without you having a hysterical fit when I shut the door. We have finally graduated to you staying calm if I happen to take a shower when you're awake, though! That's a huge improvement over me having to wait until your nap to shower.


You're growing four new teeth right now (that I can see) so it's been a rough month for you. Your appetite has waned and you've been grumpy and sad and whiny. It's been tough, but eventually we'll get through all those baby teeth. Right now you love to eat fruit/veggie pouches, animal crackers, cinnamon and sugar toast, yogurt, raisins, corn and granola bars. You also love pears and I think you have a slight chocolate addiction. Which works for me because sometimes I tell you if you take a nap there will be a little piece of chocolate in it for you. I'm not above bribery in matters of naps.

I think there's a loop in your brain of the names of family members, and sometimes you get stuck on it. You'll just start naming my siblings and the dogs and it's really cute. Peppered in there you'll say "hmmm," and "ummm," as you go through the list. One day while I was putting clothes away in Penny's room, you sat on her bed and looked at her class picture. You called all the boys either Seth or Jose and I laughed so hard because you were calling all the darker-skinned boys Jose.

You still love trucks and playing ball and doing everything by "self." You're usually happy to attend Nursery in church and you love all the kids at work. Now whenever I say it's time to leave, you start yelling, "I'M LATE! I'M LATE!" because it's what I say every morning when I strap you and your sister into the car. You often cry when we drop Aspen at school because you want to stay and play basketball with the big kids. You'll often ask, "Linky go school too, okaayyyy?" or "Linky go dance class too, okaayyy?" and I hate having to tell you not yet. But soon! Probably sooner than we'd like, MotherBoy.


Uncle Seth babysat you and your sister for the first time at BEDTIME and he had you asleep before 8pm, which is miraculous considering from whence we came. Linc, I'm so happy you've learned to fall asleep by yourself and you're content in your crib now. It's amazing that you can lay in bed with the door open and not freak out about me leaving the room. THANK YOU BABY.

Right now you're in a big hitting and biting stage and we're working to stop that. You also pull chunks out of your sister's hair and throw epic tantrums. It's tough being (almost) two!! I'm sorry. But you'll grow out of it ;). To balance some of that out, you ask in the cutest possible way, "Mama, what you doooooin?!"

Linc, we love you. We really, really do.

Love,
Mama

See Aspen's monthly letter HERE.

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It is your birthday.

Yesterday was National Sibling Day, and while I'm not usually aware of those types of days, I paid attention to it this weekend.


My birthday was Saturday, and it was the best one I've had in a loooong time. I wasn't pregnant, sleep-deprived, sick, or depressed! That's winning!

The day before, Sophia picked up Aspen from school and took her home for an Auntie sleepover. Both girls were really excited and Sophia even had plans to take Aspen to a kids' Zumba class at her local rec center. It was great to watch the videos Sophia took of Aspen doing some of the moves and having a good time.

With Aspen gone, that meant it was just me and Linc on Saturday while Kev worked. Since he had total control over the TV, he actually sat and watched a show all the way through (usually he'll only do about 10 minutes) and I deep-cleaned the kitchen and dining room. When I told Aspen that's what I did on my birthday, she said that's okay because on my birthday I get to do whatever I want. I laughed so hard.

Linc and I were able to take Maddie on a neighborhood walk before he napped so I could do my Yoga. I've been doing it six days a week for the last two weeks and it's amazing. Having just swept and mopped the dining room, I rolled my mat onto the tile and was able to enjoy doing Yoga while looking out the sliding glass doors to my backyard. It was a gorgeous day with a breeze and it was the perfect setting for my practice.

Sophia and Jose brought Aspen back in the afternoon and they brought cake. I'd forgotten to make any treats for my birthday so it was nice someone else did it for me. And when Seth arrived my siblings presented me with the most thoughtful birthday gift (that they'd cooked up with input from Kev). All of them (Jeshua and Julia included) had pooled together enough money for me to take the 200 hr RYT training at my local community college. I was stunned. I thought perhaps it would just be a contribution toward the total I needed to have for the course, but it's the entire tuition amount. Plus my parents sent money for me to attend Yoga classes at my rec center (which I can actually do for free) and pay for the kids to be in the daycare.

Original graphic by me.

I'm so thrilled that my siblings came together and did this for me. I'm blown away. I am so grateful we have each other, and not just because they gave me a huge wad of cash this weekend. I have so much support and love from my siblings, and my kids benefit from it too.

On Saturday night Seth babysat the kids so Kev and I could have our first date in almost a year. Since Linc now goes to sleep by himself in his crib, I didn't even feel guilty about asking Seth to watch the kids during bedtime. I know Linc loves Seth and feels comfortable with him, and I also knew Aspen would be a big help in singing songs and reading books with Linc before going to sleep. They made a great team and had Linc asleep with no trouble. I do feel badly that Linc biffed it on the sidewalk right after we left and he split his lip and Seth had to deal with the mess... but Linc is none the worse for wear.

Without my siblings, I wouldn't be planning to start my RYT training this fall. I wouldn't have babysitters who I know not only put up with my crazy kids, but who fiercely love them. It is such a blessing to have them in my life.

I'm so excited to go back to school for Yoga training and to avoid feeling like it's a financial strain on me and Kev. And hopefully the certification will lead to more opportunities within the Yoga community here in SLC.

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