& celebrating two.

What truly feels like a few months has actually been two years, and this past weekend, we celebrated the second birthday of our sweet boys.

We kicked off the celebration with what is now officially a tradition – pancakes with sprinkles and whipped cream. In true toddler fashion, they ate the whipped cream & sprinkles, but did not touch the actual pancakes.

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Unfortunately the rest of the day was pretty boring for them, as we were preparing for their party the next day. To add to the chaos, our kitchen remodel is only semi-complete. Last Monday, when I arrived home for the first time in almost a week, I thought there was no way it could all come together by Saturday.

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But we worked our tails off, got very little sleep, and spent the boys’ actual birthday putting finishing touches on everything, so for them it was just a regular day.

On Saturday though. On Saturday we HAD. A. PARTAAAYYY. Of course because I was playing hostess, my picture taking was nearly non-existent, but despite photographic evidence, I think all 50+ guests had a great time.

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The birthday boys ran and ran and ran until they couldn’t any more, crashing into a late afternoon nap, waking to eat dinner and then back sound to sleep within a couple of hours. Justin actually went to bed before them, and I had a splendid date with the couch, birthday cake, & ice cream before heading to bed around 10pm. Birthday parties are hard work!

Sunday morning we continued the celebration with a quick trip to Merrimac to ride across Lake Wisconsin on the ferry.

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We followed it up with breakfast at a greasy spoon, where I inhaled a much-deserved plate of biscuits & gravy. I earned that meal, dangit!

A quick nap on the way home meant no “real” nap for the boys, so instead we set up their new pool & had an afternoon pool party! J & I may or may not have done our part to clear out the leftover beer cooler from the party the day before. I mean, this pool didn’t come with these built-in drink holders for nothing!

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Dinner outdoors included root beer floats for the boys & was followed by an early bed time for the whole family.

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We had a such a great time celebrating with friends and family on Saturday, but we’re equally grateful for the time spent on Sunday, just the four of us. With all of the kitchen cabinet building, Justin has worked every weekend for the past five weekends, meaning family time has been pretty limited. It was nice to reconnect as our little family of four while celebrating such a special day!

I have two two year-olds. They are sweet, intelligent, handsome, funny, charismatic, silly, stubborn, and so much more. How did I get so lucky?!

boysphoto credit: Amber Hopkins Photography

 

related: first birthday 

 

currently | 5.21.17

You know, I can never finish these posts in one setting, so I’m forgoing the old format and just blabbing about what’s going on over here lately.

|| naps are winning. This week the boys decided they were professional crib escapees and so ended my days of working out, prepping dinner, relaxing, or doing anything productive during nap time. Instead I’m now glued to the monitor, hoping to witness any sort of activity that might result in a broken limb, and thus prevent broken limbs. It’s cool that they want to sleep together and all, but putting them in the same crib at the same time apparently just doesn’t cut it, because you can believe I tried that yesterday and…NOPE. For now, nighttime sleep is unaffected. But I’m not holding my breath.

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||working. I started working one more day at the office so now I’m home two weekdays, at the office three, and at my night job 1-2. This was the first week with my new schedule and I know it will take some getting used to, but I think it’s good for everyone. I know the boys get bored with me and need other stimulation and other people around them. I still can’t get over how much more grown up they seem every time I get home from a full day at work. Seriously, why does that always happen?!

|| working out. Not since high school/organized extracurricular activities have I been consistent with workouts. Not when I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on gym memberships. Not when I’ve had a beach vacation on the horizon. Not when I planned to have the healthiest pregnancy ever (LOLLLL). It just hasn’t been a regular thing in my adult life, no matter how hard I’ve tried. But lately something has clicked and I feel more like working out is just a part of life. It doesn’t seem like a chore, and I actually enjoy it most days. That doesn’t mean fitting it into my schedule is always easy, but I’m getting it done. I’m feeling strong and flexible and trying not to get frustrated with the fact that my body is not reflecting the way I feel. Like, at all. It’s particularly frustrating because I’ve also significantly improved my diet. One of these days…right??

|| two words: KITCHEN REMODEL (plus all of the exclamation points) Our kitchen is, quite literally, falling apart. When we bought this house, seven years ago, we intended to gut it out and completely update it. But then we started with smaller rooms, laid wood floors throughout, had two babies, and well, the kitchen remains untouched. With the exception of new appliances, everything (paint, cabinets, countertops, floor) is original from when the house was built in 2000. And just like Ryan Cabrera’s hair, kitchens that were cool in the early 2000s, just. aren’t. anymore. Sooo, Justin has been spending every weekend tirelessly building our kitchen cabinets with his own two hands and we’ll start demo and then rebuilding the week after next!


||party planning. My babies are going to be two next month *audible sob* and as much as I don’t want to talk about it, I also can’t wait to celebrate my baby sharks. Plus, I love a theme, and shark/beach party may just be my very favorite kind of theme.

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That’s all I’ve got for now, friends. I hope wherever you are, the weather is better than it is here. On Tuesday I turned on the air conditioning. Yesterday, I turned on the heat. It will all be worth it for summer in Wisconsin though. I hope. 🙂

& sunshine & bubbles & amoxicillin 

Life with two almost two year-olds is mostly sunshine. I’m being totally serious. These past few months have been primarily sunny in our little world, with these little guys.


Their personalities have become so distinct. Their likes and dislikes are obvious and communicated. Their sleeping through the night has become consistent, with very few exceptions. And you know what? When you finally get to sleep through the night, for more than one night, for the first time in years (literally), you can sort of look over all of the other not-so-sunshiny stuff.

Like temper tantrums, refusal to eat,  and strep throat. Amoxicillin still tastes like bubblegum but falls into the refusal to consume category too, FYI.


After talking about it for nearly seven years, we finally fenced in our backyard. Since it’s completion on Sunday we have eaten dinner & stayed outside until just before sunset each night. It feels so great to let the sun tell us when to go indoors!


Bedtimes have become more of a suggestion than a rule, but all of the outside play followed by necessary nightly baths has the boys basically begging to to go bed at 8:15, which isn’t far off from their usual time anyway.


We might as well buy stock in bubbles since the boys don’t totally understand the concept of keeping them in the bottle. We could also probably forego laundry detergent since we all end up completely covered in bubble solution.


And while completely unimaginable that these two will soon be TWO YEARS OLD, I’m so thrilled that they are mine and that we get to spend all of our sunshiny, bubble-covered time together. They are my favorite people in the entire world. 

But I could do without the amoxicillin.

& HelloFresh tips

I expressed my frustration with meal planning recently, so I figured it was time to finally pull this post together and share my experience with HelloFresh, as well as some tips I’ve learned along the way.

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Towards the end of the summer, a friend of mine shared a promo code for a free HelloFresh box. I had been intrigued by these meal subscription programs for quite some time so I decided to go for it.

I was immediately impressed with the packaging. The ice packs were more than sufficient for keeping the meat cold, the meat was safely separated from the rest of the food, everything was definitively labeled, and most importantly, the packaging for refrigerated items was long & sleek, making it storage friendly until used.

I was equally impressed with the quality of the food, and the ease of the recipes. That said, I ended up cancelling after two boxes. It just didn’t seem cost effective, and I was still doing so much grocery shopping because I wasn’t doing any planning ahead.

HelloFresh then called me just after the new year, and offered me a lower rate. So I went for it again. But this time I made it a point to browse the website, download the app, and really educate myself on how to get the best value from this service.

Because I know that we could all use a little break from doing all of the shopping, prepping, cooking, etc. I thought I’d share my tips for getting the most out of your HelloFresh subscription:

  • Download the app. If you’re anything like me, having an app available means that I might actually remember to do something with it as I’m scrolling through my phone, looking for excuses not to get out of bed in the morning. Instagram, email, Facebook, Snapchat, work email, HelloFresh.
  • Pause menus that don’t interest you and/or are cheap to make on your own. At the very least you can use the meal idea as inspiration, but I tend to pause weeks that include pasta as a main dish, particularly if it doesn’t include much in the way of vegetables or proteins. On the other hand, I almost always opt for meals containing beef, as it tends to be rather expensive to purchase at the grocery store.

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  • Think about the full meal. One of my very favorite HelloFresh meals was Apple Turkey Burgers. Not only were the burgers great, but it included 4 buns, potatoes for roasting as one side, and the makings for a sizeable salad. If I were making this meal with ingredients purchased from the grocery store, I would have undoubtedly ended up with too many buns, leaving me scrambling to find a way to use them or (most likely) tossing them in the garbage later that week. So I like to choose menus that involve a meal, a side, a salad, etc. rather than just one dish I’m throwing everything into.
  • Customize your menu. If you have the family plan, you get to choose two out of three weekly options. If you go with the classic plan, you get even more options to choose from. Again, this was something I didn’t realize I could do at first, so when I got the full menu card with three awesome looking meals, but didn’t get the one that looked the best, I was always a little disappointed. Then I learned that I get to pick, by simply clicking on the meals that I want in my box! You can make changes up until three days prior to receiving your box. *I initially went with the family plan, but recently switched to the classic plan for a little more variety. The boys may or may not eat what we’re eating, depending on the day, so I decided to go this route for a bit and see how I like it.*

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  • Work it into your regular meal plan. If you’re already pretty great at meal planning, but have some busy days on the horizon, you can totally work your HelloFresh delivery into your regular plan. You choose what day you’d like it delivered, and you can plan that around anything that might interrupt your usual meals. Additionally, there is a “Quick” option under the Subscription info that will ensure the recipes you get are as quick as they come!
  • Manage your subscription. If your current plan isn’t working for you, you can change it up. Not in the mood for seafood? Want some lighter options? All can be managed through the website or the app.

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PROS:

  • the instructions are clear & concise
  • once you have the recipes, they are yours…some of them are pretty run-of-the-mill, but others are something I may not have tried
  • the meals come together quickly
  • the packaging is clean and storage friendly, and includes food tips that don’t necessarily pertain to your current meals, just general tidbits of info
  • fresh, long-lasting meat and produce
  • common allergens are clearly listed under the weekly menus

CONS:

  • the packaging isn’t super environmentally friendly, however, it continues to improve with each box we receive. It seems I’m not the only one that took issue with it.
  • the cost. The convenience is obviously the key here, and you certainly pay for it, which is worth it sometimes. But it is definitely possible to buy all of these ingredients at your regular grocery store for cheaper, but then you have to do all of the measuring and prepping yourself. And time is money!

So I’ve decided to keep my subscription, especially now that I have a better understanding of the website and pausing/customizing my boxes. I think that, occasionally, it’s okay to get not just groceries delivered to my doorstep, but the exact amounts of everything I need, neatly packaged, and ready for me to easily prepare. We have to cut ourselves some slack sometimes, right?

Grab one of the promo codes for a free box below to try it yourself, and let me know what you think!

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*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive discounts on future orders. However, I did not receive compensation for writing this post, and as always, all opinions are my own.

 

 

& the weekend | v. 4

*I realize it is now Wednesday (and even warmer!) and we’re halfway to the next weekend, but I’m hitting Publish anyway.*

What you see below is not fake news. It was, in fact, 60 degrees here in Madison.


We’re having a stretch of record breaking temps so you as you can imagine, the entire state was outside over the weekend. Many people probably wearing shorts because… Wisconsin.


No shorts here. But we did have our share of outdoor time.

Unfortunately it started with a trip to the clinic because these sweet boys of mine just weren’t getting better & I needed a little peace of mind.

I consider this trip “outside time” because I forgot the stroller so we had a toddler-led, leisurely walk into the clinic. Theo wasn’t wearing shoes because we didn’t have time to get them on before leaving annnnd we were 15 minutes late anyway.

A one-time steroid was prescribed to help clear the boys’ croup. But my super sleuthy ways of hiding the crushed up pills in a smoothie did not work so we just continued on with two raspy, coughing, runny-nosed toddlers who now seem to finally be turning a corner.


Nonetheless, we did not let the croupiness keep us from having an enjoyable weekend.

The boys’ Aunt Lexi & Uncle Adam came for a visit, so J and I got to run errands & have a lunch date, while the boys entertained Lexi & Adam!


Sunday involved beer brewing, a visit from Grammy & Grampy, and a trip to the park.


Naturally it’s supposed to snow next weekend so we’ll be back to the usual February in Wisconsin programming.

& some random catch up.

Despite my best intentions, I never seem to complete a blog post. I have about 47 drafts from the past year, but it seems I never take the time to turn them into worthwhile posts. For instance, I’m finally hitting publish on this post, which I started writing two weeks ago.

But I always love going back to read my random thoughts from months/years past, so sometimes it’s nice to come here & just word vomit, ya know?

Speaking of vomit, when I was here last, we were a week into the stomach flu. While Theo & I never truly got the stomach flu, we did have a general stomach ick going around here for like two weeks. And now we’re on week two runny noses, congestion, sore throats, & coughs. Germs are so cool.

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Jessica’s post really gave me the boost I needed to finally do some toy consolidation/storage  in our house. It had been on my mind for awhile, but I just couldn’t see past those primary-colored toy storage bins. Those are great for daycares, kids bedrooms, toy rooms, etc. But our living room is our toy room so I needed something that wasn’t a total eyesore. The toys are eyesore enough! I had no intention of trying to hide the fact that toddlers live here, I just wanted it to feel more peaceful once the boys are in bed each night.

It’s been about a week and we’re loving it. A small change, really, but it’s made a huge difference and the boys don’t miss a single one of their toys that have taken up residence in the basement.

This wicker chest was available in three sizes at Home Goods. Aesthetically speaking, I wish I’d have gone with the medium size, as it would just look better in that space (and cover up that outlet) but it’s really nice to only have enough small toys to fit in that chest. A select dozen or so books, flash cards, cars, are in the basket by the fireplace. Obviously we still have some bigger stuff out in the open but it doesn’t even bother me now that there’s so much less stuff strewn everywhere.


Scooters, their teepee, & some bigger, (unpictured because currently in use) toys are stored over in the corner by the dog toys.

End of the night cleanup has been cut down by like 10 minutes, which doesn’t seem like a lot of time but TEN MINUTES of cleaning up toys is a lot of minutes.

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A popsicle can pretty much solve any problem around here lately. I stumbled upon these Disney Frozen mini popsicles at the grocery store and they are an absolute HIT in our house. They are small, so they don’t melt down the boys’ arms before they finish them. And since the boys actually sit still while consuming them, I have like 4 minutes to get something done.

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Let’s see, something not toddler related… I finally did one of those paint nights. You know, when you get together with girlfriends to drink wine, but also paint something for your house so it doesn’t seem like it was just an excuse to have a drink or two? Anyway, a group of us Madison Moms Bloggers got together at The Wild Dandelion last week and it was so much fun! The whole “paint on a board” idea is really just more my style than the canvas paint nights that are also pretty popular.

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Local Madison area peeps
– I highly suggest The Wild Dandelion if you’re interested in doing something like this. Heather, the owner, is awesome!

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I have zero inspiration when it comes to meal planning lately. Justin is no help with dinner ideas. The boys might love something one day, but hate it the next. So I feel like I’m constantly shopping, prepping, cooking, cleaning up & doing dishes, and maybe half of the people in our house are actually eating and/or enjoying what I’m making. Am I alone in this? Please tell me other moms feel this way too! And that it will get easier and that it’s a phase and it will pass?!

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Sadly, a tropical destination vacation is not in the cards for us this year. We really wanted to take the boys to Mexico but we just couldn’t find the deal we were looking for, and since we hope to buy or build a new home within the year, we couldn’t justify going super over budget. When I say “we”, I really mean Justin, because I would absolutely go over budget just to get away for a few days. But since I would be doing most of the work to get everyone ready for the trip (passports for the boys, finding a travel-friendly double stroller, finding warm weather clothes in the dead of winter, packing, etc.), I agreed on account of eliminating some unnecessary stress. So I find myself living vicariously through Timehop, which is currently chronicling the month I spent in Mexico, on a solo(ish- I had visitors) journey, NINE years ago.

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That said, I’m really looking forward to the warmer temperatures expected around here this week. I might even get to crack a window and set some of these germs free!

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Bonus photo of Nolan showcasing his favorite part about the new toy chest. 0.2 seconds before falling off of it and onto his face on the hardwood floor.

::insert eye roll emoji here::


*also working on a redo of that gallery wall above, hence the current lack and strange placement of photos.

Happy hump day!

& I don’t even know.

Eating nachos at 10am is a totally normal Sunday morning thing, right? Because that’s what I found myself doing this morning and gosh, I would really just like some normalcy this week. I was so exhausted by the time we put the boys to bed Friday night that I didn’t even have the energy to make or drink a much-needed and well-deserved cocktail. It’s been a week here, friends.

I put the boys down for a nap this morning, even though they don’t take morning naps anymore. It was partially because they needed it and partially because I needed it. Because after this doozy of a week I was just looking forward to a leisurely Sunday with shared parenting duties, as weekends should allow. Maybe a solo grocery shopping trip, some food prep for the week ahead, stuff like that. But just after midnight, Justin woke up with the stomach flu…

But let’s back up to Tuesday afternoon when Nolan started vomiting. A lot. The dog ate it. Theo played in it. I wore it. I was home from work because it was too icy for my mom to drive in that morning. I also had to miss work Monday (but worked from home) because we were iced in at my parents’. Oh, and I also had to miss work Wednesday (I normally don’t work Wednesdays but was trying to get in some hours since I had to miss Monday & Tuesday) because I didn’t want our nanny to be exposed to the stomach flu & I felt like I was coming down with it too. Ohhhh, and I also had to miss my scheduled work-from-home hours Thursday because 2/3 of our daycare provider’s kids were sick. Friday was somewhat normal. I was absolutely beat, but I got a lot accomplished. Nobody was sick, and everyone got to where they needed to be for the day. I made dinner. Everyone ate and kept it down.

Saturday was sorta normal too, except Nolan was super fussy, then ended up being awake most of the night. Theo slept through the night (which is unheard of) and then took a 3 hour nap (also never happens), and is currently napping again (NEVER happens) so with any luck he’s sleeping off any chance he has of getting this flu bug.

I suppose I might even start vomiting at some point too, huh? Not that it matters. Moms don’t get sick days. My husband was in bed for 19 hours straight, minus getting up to barf, but if I get sick I’m sure he’ll just go to work and I’ll just have to mom and be sick at the same time. That’s how it works, right?

Okay, my bitterness is starting to show. My exhaustion. My defeat. My NEED FOR A VACATION. It’s showing, isn’t it?

What I came here to say is that we had a yucky week. A week I’m not sad to send off. But it could be worse. It could be SO MUCH WORSE. We are, despite this double round of the stomach flu, healthy. We are happy. We have a roof over our heads. We have clothes on our backs and food in our bellies (some of us more than others). And even in the midst of the crappiness of our week, there were shiny moments.

I washed all the bedding, hung some pictures, and cleaned two rooms. All in the same day. Nolan had to test out the fresh bedding for me.

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I sort of accidentally agreed to renew my HelloFresh membership and a box showed up on our doorstep Wednesday. We had this yummy beef stir fry for dinner Friday night and I was reminded of just how easily these meals come together, no matter how intimidated I am.

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We’ve been talking about vacation a lot. And it got the best of us yesterday. A late lunch of Coronita and nachos was necessary. Obviously these were pretty good since I had them (albeit a much smaller version- and no beer, but that would’ve been a good idea) for breakfast again today!

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Nolan was so happy to see Theo when he woke up from his nap, that he basically forced his Cheerios on him. Theo isn’t one to say no to Cheerios, so he ate them while half sleeping. It was probably a lot sweeter in person than it is appearing in this photo, huh?

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And lastly, Nolan was looking just so sweet in his grey knee socks & Packers jersey combo!

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And you know what, there were so many other shiny moments I didn’t catch on camera. We’ll get over this flu bug. Life will continue as normal some day soon. I’m sure of it. Heck, we might even get to go on that vacation. I’m choosing eternal optimism in my head, even if I’m not really showing it right now. Tomorrow is a new day!