10 February 2016

Pool Time, Preschool Research, and Mall Drama with a Toddler


We were met with summer-like weather...in February. The almost 90 degree temperature called for a little pool time. We dipped our toes in and soaked in some Vitamin D. It felt entirely inappropriate given that it's supposed to be winter, but that's global warming for you.

During the afternoon hours, I spent a good amount of time researching preschools. It felt like junior year of high school all over again. Scheduling campus tours, sizing up tuition rates, learning about teaching philosophies, and considering the cultural diversity of my soon-to-be two year old's future classroom. We are actually pretty late with all of this. Some of our friends have had their kids on preschool waiting lists since birth. I know we will find the right place for K, but I'm currently overwhelmed.

I managed to make some veggie chili (recipe found in an old Rachael Ray magazine) for Super Bowl. So today's dinner was chili leftovers and baked potatoes. I kinda love having leftovers on a Monday. It makes the start of the week seem so much more manageable.


I am a hot weather wimp. I'm a 75 degrees and sunny with a cool breeze gal. This is a long way of saying that I took K to the mall because being outdoors (per my winter challenge to get outside daily) was not an option.

We hadn't been to the mall in several weeks and K was totally overstimulated. She had a meltdown over a balloon she saw in a jewelry store, was darting in front of people, and generally being a pain in my ass. But I breathed through it. I figure, TODDLER LIFE.

We ate lunch and I managed to purchase a few items I had been meaning to buy. I was even feeling smug enough to go in a dressing room to try on a shirt. I hadn't done that since K was a tiny baby and couldn't escape her stroller.

All was going fairly well until I caught K chewing on her sneaker. She was getting agitated and wanted to get my attention. So gross. I took off her shoes and threw them under the stroller. I picked up my final purchase at Nordstrom and we were on our way out. I got all the way back to my car, started unloading the stroller, and noticed we were minus a shoe.


I would have just left it, but they were brand new $40 shoes. Someone was waiting for my parking spot. I had to wave them off and run back inside the mall. With a screaming toddler. I frantically looped back to all the places we had visited in the past twenty minutes. No shoe.

I was sweaty, stressed, and frustrated. I had salespeople looking for a denim toddler Mary Jane. Eventually, I had to chalk it up to a loss and leave or I was going to lose it. It was a somewhat dramatic end to an already interesting outing.

I made tacos for dinner and ate all my feelings.

7 February 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up: Slowing Down and Speed Bumps

It's February - how did that happen? This week has had some highs and lows. I have felt a dip in motivation. I put a lot on my plate in the month of January including the Spending Freeze, Stay-at-Home Mom Challenge, personal fitness goals, all while dealing with winter illnesses and other personal stuff.

  • We had some work done on our place, and our kitchen was a mess. My cooking was non-existent by week's end. 
  • I overdid it with the squats and lunges on Monday. My muscles were so sore and fatigued, I had to take three days off. By the way, I have been researching exercises that are good for endometriosis pain and haven't found much. If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears. 
  • We were late to a number of commitments due to my disorganization and various issues getting out of the house with a toddler. Why does she always poop right before we leave?! I guess it's better than having to change her in a public bathroom. But, yeah. 
Aside from my whining, here are a few highlights from the rest of the week:

Lunch at our local diner. A treat because daddy happened to be working from home one day this week. 
We spent some time at T.J. Maxx. They have amazing deals on favorite board books, Melissa & Doug wooden toys, and tons of other learning toys! 
Toddler class this week.

I am looking forward to a lazy Superbowl Sunday and renewed energy in the coming week. 

Have a great Sunday, everyone!

5 February 2016

True Life: Almost Six Months Without a Date Night

Once Upon a Time on Our Last Date Night...

Time and again, I have been advised "Make time for date night. It is the key to a good marriage after having children." And I totally agree. Date nights are important, and they should be prioritized. However, sometimes the circumstances make it somewhat tricky.

Currently, we are breaking this sacred parenting commandment. L and I haven't been on a date since last year. There are a lot of factors that have played into this. My mom has been our "go to" babysitter and a lifesaver in many situations. However, she has been dealing with some sudden and scary health issues. She is still a big help, but it is very important that she gets her rest, and asking her to watch K and hang around until late at night is out of the question.

I have hopped on and off Care.com so many times, studying potential babysitter profiles, but have never pulled the trigger. I get close and pick out a few profiles that seem to stick out from the rest, but something always distracts me from following through. I have gone the word-of-mouth route, and gotten names of trustworthy babysitters from other moms, too. Again, haven't followed up on any of those.

Part of the reason for not pursuing a babysitter more fervently is K's separation anxiety. L and I actually went on more dates during K's first year than now! K is not an easy going toddler, especially when I'm not around. She is used to going everywhere with me. She's my little buddy. I know this is not really good for her. We need to practice being away from each other in preparation for pre-school...and life. But, it doesn't make it any easier when she's clinging to me like a monkey, and I am trying to do all the "right" things like tell her goodbye and attempt to close the front door while she's screaming her head off.

Another factor is money. A sitter in this city runs anywhere from $15-20+ per hour. We've got some wiggle room in the budget (see: Spending Freeze) to afford the occasional date night, but shelling out all of that money isn't exactly incentivizing us to go out.

All of this and we circle back to the fact that procuring a date night has not been easy. I do miss having time alone out of the house just the two of us. We need to be more committed and creative about finding ways to hang out alone. However, we are making it work. Life goes on, and a marriage goes on (with or without date night). For now, we cherish the time spent after K goes to sleep at night.

3 February 2016

Attempting Rachael Ray Recipes and Taking a Toddler to the California Science Center


As I've talked about before, Monday is our recovery day. I usually catch up on household-related things. The weather was really windy and cold so I didn't want to risk taking K outdoors given that she just got over yet another winter illness. We ended up going out to the grocery store and picking up dinner supplies.

I dusted off an old Rachael Ray cookbook (Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats) that I think we got as a wedding present back in 2009. 30 minute meals, my ass. It took me like an hour to make this, but it was really good! Laugh if you must, but I think I am making improvements in the cooking department, people.

It's a rendition of her Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops, but made with chicken breasts. The picture doesn't show the extra glaze/sauce that I spooned on later. I skipped the onion and a few other ingredients. Overall, an easy week day meal.

I also managed to squeeze in an in-home workout. My energy levels have been better after a couple of weeks of fatigue and illness. However, my legs were so sore the next day I could barely walk. I want to post more about my struggles with working out with endometriosis, Hashimoto's, and a toddler...because it has been very challenging. 


K, my mom, and I took a little field trip to the California Science Center! I had not been since grade school, and I was eager to go because (a) admission is FREE for all (NOTE: special exhibitions cost extra) (b) they have an aquarium and (c) I really want K to enjoy science one day. I know she's still so young, and likely won't remember it, but I never really took an active interest in the sciences throughout my years of schooling. I wish I paid more attention.

Anyway, the Science Center did not disappoint! Parking was $12 for all day parking at Exposition Park. If you are on a tight budget or simply disinterested in overpaying for food, bring your own snacks/lunch. I paid $15 for a cheeseburger, fries, a soda, and a yogurt parfait for K.

We mostly stayed in the kelp forest so that K could see all the sea creatures. To our delight, we were there during feeding time! We got to watch the scuba divers feed the various animals in the tank, and it was awesome.

The facilities are impressive, and there is tons of space for little ones to run around. We probably explored less than 1/4 of what they had to offer. Overall, I highly recommend the California Science Center! I am starting to really enjoy finding new places and re-discovering old haunts in a city I have lived in my entire life.  

How is your week going? 

1 February 2016

Spending Freeze: How It Went

My experimental spending freeze has come to an end! I started out strong, began to lose hope in the middle, and ended the month with a bang...and a purchase (damn you, Kohl's!)

I didn't go into this exercise with many expectations. I was burned out from the holidays, and I needed to renew my spirit and resist adding more clutter to our little nest. I feel like keeping my debit card tucked away for awhile definitely helped me achieve these goals!

I gave myself some rules:
  • No new clothes, shoes, makeup, toys for K, or anything deemed "unnecessary"
  • More home cooked meals. Attempt to utilize the perfectly good food cluttering up our pantry 
  • Attempt to find free activities throughout the city and utilize museum memberships rather than shell out money to entertain ourselves
  • Use gift cards whenever possible
  • Use coupons whenever possible
  • All money saved for this month goes into our "Date Night/Family Fun" Fund

I feel really good about where my money went this month. I was more organized and in control of my spending. I didn't feel drained or anxious, but felt a greater sense of creativity, resourcefulness, and positivity. Best of all, I feel like I spent some really meaningful time with my family that didn't cost an arm and a leg! 

In terms of purchases, I made it to the last week of January and then I caved and bought a pair of booties. In my defense, I used Christmas money, got them on sale, and also used online coupons and Ebates. And, most importantly, I needed new shoes. I also gave my blog a makeover as mentioned in my last post. 

In bigger news, I didn't buy anything new for K which was more challenging than not buying stuff for myself. She got tons of clothes and toys for Christmas so that made it easier. We found ourselves back at our local library (after not going for months), and checked books out rather than purchasing new ones. I stayed away from malls, Baby Gap, Tea Collection (my obsession), and Amazon. 

We dug into our gift card collection and found several treasures we had been saving for a rainy day. Namely, two Ralphs cards (Ralphs is our local grocery store). We bought a week's worth of groceries with our gift cards! We are SO behind the times, but I finally learned more about online couponing. We saved an extra $35 by clipping a few coupons, and saving online coupons onto our grocery store's club card. 

I cooked an average of four nights per week this month. I am still pathetic at meal planning, and am attempting to figure out how to organize myself more effectively and efficiently. However, I am pretty proud of my efforts and hope I can keep it up. I used up some dry pasta, frozen items, soups, and sauces that were taking up space in our pantry. 

Ultimately, we saved HUNDREDS of dollars this month! I am excited to put that money toward our Family Fun/Date Night Fund and also to avoid placing any unnecessary purchases on our credit cards. Budgeting and controlling spending is essential for our household. I look forward to continual improvement!

29 January 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up: Week 3 of the SAHM Challenge

First of all, this decrepit, dated blog got an updated look! I love it. I shelled out a little money and it was well worth it. Since I have started writing again, I was getting depressed looking at my old blog. I hope you like it, too!

This week has been quiet. K recovered from her cold and then I got it. L got back in town yesterday. We have been laying low. Yesterday, I didn't leave the house except to pick up Panda Express for a late lunch. (I haven't cooked for the past few days. Tsk tsk.)

Today we had toddler mommy and me class. K was feeling much better, so I decided we should go. (We skipped last week due to her fever.) It is important to maintain consistency with K. Toddlers do well with routines! (K screams when I skip any detail of her precious bedtime routine. Oy.) When we miss Friday class, it takes K longer to acclimate and participate. Illness happens, and I try not to take K out when she's sick, but it's hard to gain any momentum when we are absent!

LA LOCALS: Tomorrow, January 30, 2016, is Museums Free-for-All Day! Check THIS LINK for participating museums. I hope we can do some learning and exploring tomorrow! 

Have a lovely weekend, friends!

27 January 2016

Midweek Check In: Week of 1/25/16

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L is out of town for the better part of this week. This changes our household game a bit. I switch over to survival mode, because I no longer have evening/nighttime parenting relief. L goes out of town about once a month for approximately four days at a time. I have a helpful husband who ties up the loose ends for me, so I have to be organized when he's gone. It's hard to be without him, but I am so grateful he has a job that provides for our family.


Mondays are sort of my catch-up day, because we usually wear ourselves out over the weekend. This Monday was slightly worse, because it was Day 1 of my period with debilitating cramps. I wanted to fulfill my daily goal of outdoor time, so it was off to the park. We enjoyed some fresh air, and it was the first time K really noticed her shadow.

My new favorite photo 

We came home, and I died on the couch for awhile while K played with her play doh.

Dinner was a bunless burger and steamed broccoli. (We bought a pack of four burger patties. I made two for our dinner last week, and froze the other two. I was able to make two extra dinners for myself this week by defrosting the frozen patties. It's not rocket science, but normally when I stick food in the freezer, I end up throwing it out months later. I'm trying to use what we've got, and it's saving us $$$.)


We managed to make it to the zoo again (we have a membership) and had plans to meet up with some other mommies and toddlers. I was super grateful that my period gave it a rest, and I was able to walk around the park without keeling over. I know it's TMI, but it is the truth about life with endometriosis.

Of particular interest this visit were: a family of hippos, a drowsy black bear, the elephants, and running around the germ-infested zoo playground.

Dinner was a brown rice bowl topped with a burger patty, an over-easy egg, guacamole, salsa, and spinach.


K woke up a little sluggish. I decided we needed to slow our roll, because it's very possible she's exhausted from all our recent outings. We spent the morning chatting about yesterday's "shoo" (zoo) trip, reading, and watching an episode of Sesame Street.

We left the house very briefly to stop by the library. We desperately need new books, and the library is free. Remember my spending freeze? We must make library trips a regular thing.

Speaking of the freeze, we have been staying away from places like Target, the mall, etc. There are a few days left in the challenge, and I think I'm ready for it to be over. At the same time, I *think* we have saved hundreds of dollars this month by utilizing a combination of saving tools and gift cards. So maybe it was worth it? More on this later.

Tonight's dinner was an organic pizza I warmed up in the oven. Minimal effort has been made to feed myself while husband has been away.

25 January 2016

Mommy Insecurities and Some Patience

In my eyes, K is perfect. Like any mother with her child, I could write paragraph upon paragraph outlining the ways I think she is special, wonderful, and amazing. Despite my obvious bias, I am also (sorta) honest with myself. K does things on her own time; and not a minute before. This started early on with tummy time, continued on to crawling, standing, walking, first spoken syllables, first spoken words, and the list goes on. She has never been the first kid in the pack to hit her developmental milestones.

When K wasn't walking at the requisite 12 months, my mom told me, "Every child operates on their own timeline. Some are early, others aren't. But we all figure out how to walk at some point, right?" This brought me some comfort, as I have great faith in my mom's wise words. She has raised three children who are all walkers. So, I let the worry wash over me, and...lo and behold...K eventually walked. I feel like being a first time mom can make you a little nutty. You often feel like you're sinking a lot more than you're swimming. It's good to seek advice from veteran moms and moms with multiple children. They will talk you off the ledge.

But still, my competitive spirit can get the best of me. It is difficult not to jump on what I'll call the "Mommy Comparison Train." I have been living my life rather quietly lately. Humming along and trying not to Google too much. Because if you Google "Should my child talk at 22 months?" You may just be met with "My child wrote poetry at 22 months" and then end up wanting to kill yourself. I feel like "Try not to Google Too Much" should be the name of my memoir. Anyway. I was back on the train over the weekend after an adorable little girl not quite one month older than K came up to me talking in full sentences with the vocabulary of a fifth grader.

You see K still doesn't talk much compared to her peers. She understands a ton. But, she's not chattering like the little girl I saw over the weekend. I know children develop at their own rates, and it wouldn't make much sense to push K too hard. Her doctor believes that K is perfectly healthy and normal. No reason to be too nervous over her speech or language development. She isn't at the point of needing speech therapy. (She will be evaluated again at her two year appointment.) Yet, still, I have these thoughts. Am I not talking to her enough? Am I talking to her too much? Is it because I know what she wants before she says it? OK, so I'm not telling her to 'use her words' enough. So much internal dialogue. The insecurities start to creep up and take over.

So, here I sit, practicing patience, hoping for the day the light switch goes off in K's brain, and it all comes together as it should. Worrying that the switch is broken. Worrying if I am doing all I can do. Terrified that I could mess it all up, and above all, trying not to compare K to every potential 22 month old I meet, see on TV, see on Instagram, and notice on the street.

23 January 2016

Weekly Wrap Up: Week 2 of the SAHM Challenge


The Asian Noodle Bowls were a huge success! I will definitely make them again. Easy to prepare, tasty, and healthy. The recipe called for chili sauce which added a great kick, but too much spice for the toddler in our house. So, I set aside some noodles and sautéed them in sesame oil and gluten free soy sauce, and tossed them with some shredded carrots. I also defrosted some edamame (one of her faves). She LOVED it.

Next time, I will make things easier on myself and prepare the dish without chili sauce. L and I can always add chili sauce to our bowls for that extra kick.


Today was a busy day from start to finish. I had an early morning therapy appointment, and then it was lunch at home, and off to the park for an afternoon playdate. It was a new-to-us park, and K really enjoyed herself!

What? You don't kiss blue sea horses?

We fought traffic to get home, and we were both exhausted. Cooking was NOT happening tonight, so I turned on the oven and popped in a Stouffer's Lasagna. Our freezer is stocked for days when I can't seem to get my shit together in the cooking department.


K woke up sick with a fever and miserable. Winter months are frustrating. K gets sick frequently, and it seems to always happen when L has a business trip planned. (He'll be out of town starting Monday.) We didn't leave the house all day as K's fever teetered between 102 and 103 degrees. It was a low key day with a lot of napping for K, and a lot of Nurse Jackie for me. I'm loving that show at the moment.

20 January 2016

Mid-Week Check In: Week of 1/18/16

The Winter 2016 Stay-at-Home Mom Challenge continues...


It was a sluggish, gray, depressing day. I really wanted to just lay around the house. We had a busy weekend, and I was grasping at any excuse to stay home. At the same time, K seemed to be getting cabin fever and sitting around watching me do laundry and clean up wasn't cutting it. So we walked to the neighborhood park (yet again), and I watched her run around for awhile. Having a park so close to our place has been a lifesaver. It's not the best park ever, but it does the trick. The fresh air worked its magic and I was energized (yet again) for the long ass afternoon.

When we got back K enjoyed helping me water the plants and rode around on her tricycle, too.

I tried a new crock pot chili recipe as I am on a seemingly never-ending quest to make the best chili. We tried the Crock Pot Sweet Potato and Quinoa Turkey Chili by Iowa Girl Eats. It was a little sweet for my taste. I think if I make it again, I will substitute pinto and kidney beans for the baked beans. But, we enjoyed it and it was super easy to make!


Today I went out on a limb and we had a playdate with some new friends. Ever since we moved across town, it has been hard to find a new friend group. I feel like I try and give off a friendly vibe, and I'm open to meeting new people, but, it's been a tough road. I have read this on other blogs and parenting sites before, but meeting new moms really feels like dating. The exhaustion of putting yourself out there, the potential of being rejected, the vulnerability, the anguish over trying to find your perfect mom/child soulmates. OMG. Anyway, we had a great playdate with some local moms, and there were good vibes all around. K played outside and got lots of fresh air! It has given me some hope that maybe there are some cool, nice moms out there after all.

I actually managed to fit in an afternoon workout. I haven't been as diligent with my workouts this month, and I can definitely feel the difference. I am not beating myself up, but trying to squeeze in workouts when I can. They are so important for mental and physical well-being!

Sweaty evidence that I sweated.

Dinner was leftover chili over baked potatoes. I'm not great with leftovers. It's challenging for me to eat something for more than two meals. It feels so wasteful to throw out perfectly good food. But, I think we were tapped out on the chili after Tuesday night. K wasn't a fan of the chili, so she ate a baked potato topped with butter and cheese.


Wednesdays are usually K's gym class. I procrastinated and failed to move K into the older kids class like I should have done weeks ago. So, today's class was sort of a waste of her time: tons of kids who were closer to one than two, and no one to really play with. We were also super late for class due to a traffic jam. K was overwhelmed by the overcrowded class and mostly disinterested. I felt like a crappy mom.

In somewhat related news, the other moms in this class are mostly unfriendly. There's one clique of moms that all know each other, and don't talk to anyone except themselves, and the rest are vacantly staring at their phones. Whatever. It wasn't our best day. But, we left the house, made it to gym, and even took a nice walk outside. I am counting that as a win!

Dinner tonight: Asian Noodle Bowls. I am trying out some gluten free recipes from Iowa Girl Eats this week because, in my imagination, I would love to be gluten free. Don't mind the fact that I ate tons of gluten for breakfast and lunch. Baby steps. By the way, the recipe name "Asian Noodle Bowls" kinda reminds me of Margaret Cho's "Asian Chicken Salad" stand-up bit. Too funny.

I'll report on how the Asian Noodle Bowls fared later this week! 


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