Year in review: 2017 superlatives.

2017 was a roller coaster. I really, really hope that 2018 is going to be low key and downright boring. That’s more my speed than all the ups and downs that this past year included. Here are a few noteworthy memories from the year, high school yearbook superlative style

Biggest Surprise: Finding out Ava had hip dysplasia

Biggest Challenge: Ava’s surgery – out of our sight and in an operating room. It was horrible.

The Silver Lining Award: Focused time with Ava while she was in the cast

The Pleasantly Surprised Award: Labor and delivery of Owen – in a nutshell, quick and easy, but I still got my beloved epidural.

Best Vacation: Stay in hospital after having Owen. Granted, that was the only vacation of the year…  We did have a couple of staycations when Kevin took a little bit of time off of work (of course he was still putting out fires via phone and email on a daily basis by people from work, but at least he got to be home with us.) – one right after Ava’s surgery, after Owen was born, and during the Christmas holiday.

Best Hug: When Ava came to visit mama and meet Owen in hospital. Oh, how we had missed each other! Kevin set her on my lap and she hugged me so tight. My heart nearly burst with love for my sweet little girl.

Greatest Joy: Falling in love with Owen. Realizing there is not a finite amount of all-encompassing love that parents have for their children – your heart loves the second (and subsequent, I’m sure) child as much as the first. That was a hard thing for me to understand prior to Owen’s birth. Also watching Ava blossom into her big sister role with Owen has been a complete joy.

Best Date: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in January or Indigo Crow in September

Greatest Transformation: Master bath

Funniest Quote: One day Ava and Kevin were playing when she suddenly paused, rubbed her nose, and then extended her little hand toward him, saying, “Booger. Thanks.” We’re just over here, living this glamorous life.

Best Fiction Listen: Moon Over Manifest (Amy) and Treason (Kevin)

Best Fiction Read: All the Light We Cannot See (Kevin) and Queen Lucia (Amy)

Best Nonfiction Listen: Me Talk Pretty One Day (Amy) and American Kingpin (Kevin)

Best Nonfiction Read: Team of Rivals (Amy) and The Looming Tower (Kevin)

Best Watch: Billions season 2 (Amy and Kevin) and Daniel Tiger (Ava). Honorable Mention to Curb Your Enthusiasm season 8 – Larry made it worth the wait!

House Clown: Rue. Whether she’s stalking Kiki or annoying Ava by batting around one of Ava’s toys or showing a homicidal streak by abruptly flinging herself in front of Kevin or me as we walk down the stairs, she makes each  day an adventure.

Most Likely to be Remembered: Other than the Daniel Tiger moral jingles on constant replay in our brains? Goodness, right now the whole year was memorable! But long term, of course, our sweet baby Owen boy joining the family is most definitely the most likely to be remembered event.

Kevin and I feel blessed beyond belief to have lived 2017 together with our little family.  I heard a quote once that basically said some years are questions and some years are answers.  I think we had a combination of both in 2017.  Happy 2018!

Tell me a superlative from your 2017!  Was it a year of questions or a year of answers for you?

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That’s a wrap {December}.

Links to Love:

  1. Emergency SOS on iOS 11 – how to quickly and easily call emergency services.
  2. Check out these tourist destinations before they get too popular.  There are some that may be on the rise, but I still don’t wanna go there.  (I’m looking at you, Columbia.)
  3. This MRI image is an amazing visual of the love between a mother and child.
  4. I love this letter a dad wrote to his daughter’s school in response to a school sponsored field trip.

Making Memories:

  1. Kevin celebrated a birthday!  He had to work for most of the day but managed to come home a little early and took a little nap to celebrate turning 34.  His parents picked up Pars Mediterranean for dinner and brought it to our house.  We had ice cream and Thin Mint brownies for dessert.  He opened gifts and I think had a good birthday even if it was pretty low key.  He is my favorite and I sure do love celebrating him.
  2. Kevin had about ten days off work for the holiday and it was so nice for all of us.  We’re all dreading Tuesday when he has to go back to work.  We had a long list of house projects to tackle while he was off and didn’t accomplish many of them, but that’s okay.  We relaxed, we played, we enjoyed the holiday together.  It was a good time.
  3. We met with a rep from Renewal by Anderson and the company that we used for our countertop and shelves in our master bath remodel and we arranged to start 2018 off with some home improvement projects.  We’re getting four windows replaced (finishing up our three phases of window replacement) and replacing our kitchen countertops, which I am really, really excited about.
  4. I met up with one friend for brunch and another for lunch – without any kids in tow, which was really nice.  Kevin has been working for several months to help plan his 15 year high school reunion and it was in December.  He said it was a good time and got to catch up with some classmates he hadn’t seen in a long time.
  5. We had a really fantastic Christmas.  Lisa came to town on the 30th and is currently staying with us.  We’re ringing in the new year quite festively as I type this.  We’re watching Breaking Bad reruns.  Lisa brought us a great Moscato and she and I are drinking that.  Kevin’s taking it to a whole new level of wild as he sips on honey lemon water (he’s fighting off a cold or a sinus thing).
  6. Of course we had a few doctor appointments because such is our life.  Good news all around – Owen’s hips have normalized and he has been in the Pavlik harness only at night.  We go back in January to make sure everything is still on track.  Also awesome news – Ava’s hip x-ray looked good and our doctor gave us the go-ahead for her to be out of the brace during the day.  It has been nerve-wracking but exciting to see her move around without the brace.  We go back in three months and she’ll have a standing x-ray, which will hopefully show great progress.  We’re not out of the woods but it certainly is a good start to 2018.

Bookish:

  1. In December I read The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne and gave it 4 stars.  I listened to Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan and gave it 3 stars.  And last but not least I read A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, to which I gave 4 stars.
  2. I am currently reading Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery, Dinner: A Love Story: It All Starts at the Family Table by Jenny Rosenstrach, and I’m listening to Shopping for a Billionaire by Julia Kent.
  3. Kevin is reading The Great Bridge:  The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough and listening to Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman.
  4. Ava has been loving Little Blue Truck and Scaredy-Cat Sleepover (featuring Minnie and Daisy).

Challenges:

  1. I’ve had a few friends struggling with personal issues – one lost a parent, another has a very ill parent, a third had a baby and has had a tough time in her recovery.  It’s hard to see your friends struggle and feel so helpless.  Lots of prayers for them.

Sustenance:

  1. I think the only new recipe we tried in December was this Croissant French Toast.
  2. Pretty sure I’ve linked to it before but it’s worth linking to again – I made this apple bread three times in December.

How was your December?

Merry merry merry.

I don’t often blog, but when I do I recap every little detail.  Buckle up.

Lisa took all of the good pictures in this post; I took the sub-par ones. 

Christmas 2017 was a wonderful one. We put up our tree the weekend before Christmas and Ava loved decorating. She really got into the ornaments and was very good about not touching them or the tree.

We have a tradition of gifting Ava and now Owen each with a pair of Christmas pajamas, a Christmas/winter book, and an ornament. They get to open these gifts on the day we decorate the tree. This year Ava got Llama Llama Jingle Bells, which she has been coveting for months, and Owen got That’s Not My Snowman. I ordered matching ornaments for them from this Etsy shop. The ornaments are very cute but I kind of regret going with the wood because one had already begun to split.

Kevin went to El Modelo on December 22 at 7:30 AM to pick up 4 quarts of posole and 2 dozen tamales for our annual Christmas eve dinner. He naturally also got us a couple of chorizo breakfast burritos because yum.

On the evening of the 23rd we loaded up in the car and drove around looking at Christmas lights and decorations. It was a fun start to a new tradition. I’m excited for Ava and Owen to be old enough to drink hot cocoa while we drive around.

On Christmas eve day I wrapped most of the gifts while Kevin tried to get Ava to nap (she seemed to be feeling off that day and they wound up taking a cuddle nap in the glider in her room) and Owen sat in the safari chair, staring at the Christmas tree. We started putting out our luminarias at around 4:00. We have ordered 8 dozen luminarias for the past few years and that seems to work out really well for us. My parents and sister got to our house around 4:15 and were a huge help in putting out the luminarias.

We started heating up the posole and tamales at around 4:45 and I made homemade tortillas. My aunt Jewell came over around 5:00 and she and my mom set to work shelling a bag of walnuts that someone at work gifted us. We don’t have a nutcracker so they used brute force and a pipe wrench. :)  My stepdad cooked the tortillas on the cast iron skillet while I rolled them out. Kevin’s parents and a family friend came over before 5:30 and once the food was all ready, we ate. It was so tasty, as usual. Owen was a good little guy in the Mamaroo. Craig and Sue had brought biscochitos for dessert and Aunt Jewell brought brownies. We were all full by 7:00. We took Ava up to bed at that time and she fell asleep quickly. Mom, Dale, Lisa, Kevin, and I watched a 2015 dog show that was randomly on TV. And bedtime came around 9:00 for all of us. It was a lovely, still night and I wish Kevin and I would have walked around the neighborhood to see the luminarias, but we didn’t know how Ava would sleep since she’d seemed off all day (she slept perfectly from 7:30-7:45, btw) and Owen has us up every three hours, so sleep seemed more important at the time.

Kevin and I woke up around 5:45 on Christmas morning and I fed Owen. He settled back into his bassinet and Kevin and I sat in the sitting area of our master suite. Kevin started the fire in our fireplace and we exchanged our Christmas gifts to one another and just relaxed and cuddled in front of the fire. It was a lovely way to start what was certain to be a busy day.

We went downstairs around 7:15 and my mom and sister helped me get this lemon and cream cheese croissant French toast casserole in the oven. We also made some bacon and hash browns. Ava woke up around 7:45 and started playing immediately. We took tea.

Kevin made up the herb rub for our prime rib and then went to his parents house to get it in the oven around 8:15. The casserole, bacon, and hash browns were delicious and Kevin and his parents came over around 9:15. They ate and then we tackled the mountain of gifts!

Ava was so cute. She opened a puzzle from my parents first and would have been perfectly content to play with that for hours. Kevin and Lisa had to coax her into opening more gifts! Eventually she got into it and would say, “What could it be?,” as she was opening each one.

Owen ate for a bit and then he was so content and cheerful and sweet, just sitting in the safari chair, looking at the tree as we all opened gifts around him. He was such a good boy all day!

Kiki made herself scarce, but Rue came out to find a comfy spot amongst the wrapping paper.

We finished up around 11:30 and hit the ground running with bread dough making, getting ready, vegetable prepping, encouraging Ava to take a little quiet time, etc. Before we knew it, it was 1:00 and time to head to Craig and Sue’s for lunch. There were 13 adults and Ava and Owen at lunch. It was so, so good and wonderful company. Owen napped through lunch which was great because it allowed me to eat way too much prime rib. :) Dessert was frozen cherry pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate silk pie, and apple pie. No one went hungry, that’s for sure!

Eventually the party broke up and everyone headed their separate ways. It was such a nice day with the people I love most.

Happy birthday, Jesus!

How was your holiday? 

That’s a wrap {November}.

Links to Love:

  1. Kevin showed me this and it’s hilarious – farting in public with attitude.
  2. The other day I feel down the rabbit hole that is subscription boxes.  The mother load can be found on Cratejoy.  I found one for basically everyone I need to buy Christmas gifts for and a few I want for myself.
  3. The cheapest and most expensive states in terms of real estate.  New Mexico is somewhere in the middle.
  4. Did you find any awesome deals for Black Friday or Cyber Monday?  (Which are both basically a week long now.  Consumerism.  No joke.)  I may have indulged in a little shopping on the Gap and Nordstrom websites.

 

Making Memories:

  1. We hosted Thanksgiving!  It was a lot of fun to have my extended family and Kevin’s parents and their close friend over for the day.  Ava was like, “Whoa – what’s going on here?” because we usually lead a very quiet life and there were 30 adults and 15 kids in her space, but she did great and we appreciated not having to travel!  The food was great – (we do potluck so it’s not like I have to cook for all those people when it’s at my house) and the weather was fantastic.  We have a pretty big space and a good layout in our house for entertaining, but it still would have been crowded indoors if the weather was bad.  We were thankful for a clear day in the 60’s!
  2. Kevin went to a 30/80 party for a judge he formerly clerked for. The Judge was celebrating 30 years on the bench and his 80th birthday. He’s an exemplary man and Kevin loved working with him and learning from him.
  3. Owen and I went to a friend’s baby shower and I had the chance to catch up with some friends from my elementary school days. I really enjoyed it.
  4. Owen started melting our hearts with social smiles this month and Ava continues to make us so proud as she learns to pull up and stand and balance in the brace. We sure do love these kids of ours.

Bookish:

  1. In November I finished Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (5 stars – really recommend this one.  I listened to it, but think it would read really well too.), Chestnut Street by one of my favorites – Maeve Binchy (4 stars), and I listened to The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell (3 stars).
  2. I just downloaded Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bumni Laditan but haven’t started listening to it yet. I am a few pages into Do You Come Here Often? by Alexandra Potter. I started Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly last month but it was due back to the library and had holds on it so I couldn’t extend it. Maybe I’ll pick it back up someday. I have A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett going on my phone/iPad but haven’t made much progress.  I also am working on Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Lots of book irons in the fire.
  3. Kevin finished listening to Vengeance by Newt Gingrich and gave it 4 stars. The series is set up for a fourth book and he said it’s starting to get a little ridiculous.
  4. Kevin is currently reading Naked by David Sedaris and HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership.  
  5. Ava has been loving The Little Blue Truck and That’s Not My Owl. 

Challenges:

  1. We had our pediatrician refer us for an ultrasound to get Owen’s hips checked out and it did show that a slight issue with his left hip.  We got him in to see Ava’s pediatric orthopedist two days after the first ultrasound and he ordered a second one to review himself. He agreed that there was an issue and put Owen in a Pavlik harness, which he’ll be in until the hip normalizes.  Because they grow so rapidly at this young age, hopefully it’ll normalize quickly and we are sooooo grateful that it is being addressed now rather than when he’s 18 months old, like Ava was when we found out about her hip dysplasia.  But it was still a blow and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely overwhelmed by the thought of having a toddler in a brace and an infant in a harness.  We’re making it though!

Sustenance:

1. I think the only new recipe I tried in November was this spaghetti bolognese. It was fine but not something that blew me away.

How was your November?

That’s a wrap {October}.

 

Links to Love:

  1. Nine literary heroines we should try to try to be more like.
  2. And speaking of literary heroines, Jenny’s Etsy shop has two new ones!  Mary Poppins & Sara Crewe – they’ve joined the other ladies on Ava’s literary heroine banner.
  3. A trip down memory lane with Ava’s first year video compilation from last year.  I love this.  I started one for year two but it got away from me.  Maybe I’ll finish it someday.

 

Making Memories:

  1. Hey hey hey hey…we had a baby!  Owen’s birth story is here.  He is such a little dreamboat and we’re all crazy about him.  He’s growing on Ava too.  She was too busy at first to care much about this new little human in the house, but I think she’s figured out that he’s here to stay and she’s starting to take more of an interest.  It’s sweet to see her lean in slowly and kiss his head.  I hope they’ll be great friends someday.
  2. Ava’s spica cast came off!  Four days post baby, we took our first baby to have the cast removed and a brace put on.  Ava has learned to sit, scoot, and crawl in the brace and she’s loving her newfound freedom and independence.  It’s fun to have little messes around the house to show where she has been playing.  Don’t take for granted the path of destruction a toddler can leave in their wake – it’s far more upsetting when they aren’t able to move around on their own.
  3. Ava’s birthday was in late October and we had a great day.  I want to write more about it in another post, but as a quick recap, she got to decorate her own birthday cake, eat stroganoff and ice cream – her favorites, and received so many awesome toys, including a little doll playhouse that she has been coveting.  We loved celebrating with her.  She is such a blessing.
  4. We went to a Halloween party organized by the “cul de sac crew” neighborhood friends.  Ava was a black cat and she was the cutest little human black cat I’ve ever seen.

Bookish:

  1. In October I finished Persuasion by Jane Austen (4 stars) and The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan (3 stars).
  2. I’m currently listening to Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool and reading Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  I also just started Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I need to get with it if I want to finish re-reading the Harry Potter series this year.
  3. Kevin finished American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road and gave it 5 stars.
  4. Kevin is currently reading Naked by David Sedaris and HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership.  He just downloaded Vengeance by Newt Gingrich and will start listening to it soon.
  5. Ava has been loving Llama Llama and her Nelly Gnu book.

Challenges:

  1. The month was full of happiness but also had some challenges.  Postpartum emotions were running wild, we had to adjust to sleeping in three hour (at most) chunks of time, and the brace was something new and different after our comfort zone of the cast.  There were a lot of tears – and they weren’t just from the newborn and the toddler.  Fortunately Kevin has managed to keep his eyes dry or we’d probably all float away from the amount of crying around here!

Sustenance:

  1. We made these honey garlic chicken thighs and it was FAR TOO SALTY for my taste.  Kevin said he liked them and he does like things saltier than I do, but I think he was just being polite because see above (lots of crying).
  2. This slow cooker chili was really, really good.  We’ll definitely be making it again.  I used one can of kidney beans and one can of black beans rather than two cans of kidney beans and I’d do that again.  I also used some tomatoes grown by my aunt and freshly canned by my aunt, mom, and great aunt.  They were super good – so fresh!
  3. This paprika chicken and rice meal was delicious!!  I’ll broil the chicken thighs for a few minutes next time to crisp up the skins (they recommend it in the recipe but I didn’t take the time to do so), but other than that, we both really loved the dish.  Served it with roasted zucchini, yellow squash, and brussels sprouts.  Hearty and pretty healthy!
  4. Another slow cooker winner – this Poor Man’s Stew was tasty. I added whole mushrooms and they were a great addition.

How was your October?

That’s a wrap {August}.

 

Links to Love:

  1. I’m certainly not a minimalist (although I am closer to minimalist than hoarder on that spectrum, for sure), but I think there is a lot of value to this idea:  kids need minimalism.
  2. An oldie but a goodie and one I am really relating to recently…  {What’s Up Moms:  I’m So Pregnant}
  3. Even older.  Also always makes me laugh:  Pregnant Women are Smug.
  4. I got this one from a recent Links & Loves post that Amanda did:  Let’s Bring Motherhood Down a Notch.  Timely because I’m in a high-strung phase of motherhood, fo sho.
  5. This was also one that Amanda linked to (she was on a roll with that post):  When the Words Feel Heavy.  It’s beautifully written, and I especially liked the links to other resources that address racial inequality issues so prevalent in our country at the end of the post.

Making Memories:

  1. In general, we haven’t gone out much since Ava went in the cast.  We do our grocery shopping each week – one of us will push Ava in the stroller while the other pushes the cart – which we all enjoy, and we take morning walks each day.  We also go to Kevin’s parents’ house once a week for Sunday dinner.  And we go to Ava’s doctor’s appointments.  Kevin and Ava went to the zoo one morning before it warmed up too much and we plan to do that more as it cools down.  I’m also thinking I’ll take her to the aquarium or something soon because school is back in session and it’ll be less chaotic.  But overall, it’s just not worth the hassle of getting her out in the heat and dealing with packing up our cast-friendly booster chair, etc. and instead we just make friends come to us.  :)  However, we did make it to her little friend’s birthday party which was something right out of Pinterest.  It was fun to catch up with friends and Ava was quite the charmer.  She talked about going to the party basically the entire drive to the party and then the following couple of days had plenty of talk of the party.  Kevin’s arms were really tired by the time we left because he held her the whole time!  But I think we all had a really nice time.
  2. We also ventured out to breakfast with my great aunt one Sunday morning and it was so pleasant.  Honestly – Ava may be even better in restaurants now than she was before (and she has always been very, very good) because she is so accustomed to sitting in one spot.  She was perfectly entertained with the bowl of single serve half-and-half containers and the pieces of paper we peel off her disposable placemat.  She is such a good little toddler.
  3. For Mother’s Day, my mother-and-father-in-law gave me a gift card for a prenatal massage at a local spa.  Since I was not very pregnant at the time, I decided to keep it for the third trimester and I am so glad I did.  It was such a treat to spend a few hours at the spa one Saturday morning in August.  Thanks to them for that pampering!
  4. Kevin is helping with the varsity home games for football this year, and I’m so glad that he’s able to get out for a bit some weekends and go do something he loves:  coach football.  I think he’s perfect of course and it’s really fantastic that he’s able to be involved with those kids and set a good example for impressionable teenagers.
  5. Some people at work threw Owen a surprise baby shower!  It was so sweet.  They had posole, green chile stew, and the BEST tres leches cake in the whole wide world.  There were dinosaur balloons and a diaper cake and lots of gifted diapers and wipes.  We feel so fortunate to work with such awesome people.

Bookish:

  1. In August I finished quite a few books.  I’d been working on this one for a bit and finally finished Emma by the one and only Jane Austen, of course, to which I awarded 5 stars (and I want to go on the record saying that I prefer Mr. Knightly to Mr. Darcy, hands down).  I listened to One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid and gave it 4 stars – it was actually a really interesting storyline (lady marries high school sweetheart, he disappears after a helicopter crash on their first anniversary and is presumed dead, then three years later, he is found alive and she has, in the meantime, gotten engaged to someone else) and a good listen.  Often narrators start to annoy me or I notice that the author repeats words a lot more when I listen versus read or whatever – but I was engaged and not annoyed through this whole listen.  I read The After Party by Anton DiSclafani and gave it 3 stars.  My first ever Agatha Christie was And Then There Were None, to which I gave 5 stars.  My second Agatha Christie was A Caribbean Mystery (Miss Marple #10) and I gave it 3 stars.  I read Queen Lucia and loved it – 5 stars.  E.F. Benson’s writing is just excellent.  And finally, I read The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth and I gave it 4 stars.
  2. I’m currently listening to Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and think it is hilarious.  It’s all I can do to get out of my car and stop listening when I reach my destination.  Highly recommend – thus far at least – as a light, easy read/listen.  And I’m currently reading Miss Mapp by E.F. Benson, which I’m also loving.
  3. In August, Kevin finished American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic by Joseph Ellis and he gave it 4 stars.
  4. Kevin’s currently reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (his mom is reading it too and they’re doing a little book club together) and really enjoying it.  He is also still reading Naked by David Sedaris and HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership.  He’s listening to The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell:  The Dyslexic Traitor, An Unbreakable Code, and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, and finds it fascinating.
  5. Ava’s favorite books these days are probably My Dynamite Dad, A Ride Through the Neighborhood (Daniel Tiger), Hoot, Zoom, and Big Fish Little Fish.  :)  Those are the ones she tends to request at bedtime, night after night.

Challenges:

  1. Ava had a cast change on August 22 which meant anesthesia and uncertainty.  Fortunately all went perfectly and the surgeon said the x-ray looks even better than he expected (he’s super conservative with his communicated expectations, so that is glowing news really).  Ava didn’t even seem to notice that she had a different cast, which we were grateful for because we thought she may be in a bit of pain since the legs were repositioned slightly.  Anyway, all went really well and we’re so grateful, but it was a mental and emotional strain through the beginning of the month as we lived with the anticipation of more anesthesia and the surgeon getting a good look at how things were coming together in that hip zone.
  2. She continues to be such a champ, but entertaining an immobile toddler is a challenge and worth noting.  Kevin and I have become masters of extending an activity for a ridiculous length of time by pointing out something, tweaking it a little bit, etc. just so we’re not shuffling through puzzles, legos, homemade games, books, etc. at breakneck speed.  Her attention span truly is amazing, but sometimes the hours seem long.
  3. We’re in the every-two-week-appointment zone for pregnancy and Ava has pretty regular appointments as well and we’re both working and running a household and….  It feels like there is a lot to juggle right now.  My belly is getting bigger and I’m moving slower and sometimes at the end of the day it just seems like so MUCH.  I know we’re not unique in any of this – this is life for everyone, with variations here and there.  We all just do what we can when we can, right?

Sustenance:

  1. We tried this chicken penne casserole with corn and zucchini.  I grabbed yellow squash rather than zucchini at the store, and we subbed in Banza for regular penne to increase the protein a bit.  {Sidenote:  have you tried Banza?  It’s a pasta substitute made with chickpeas.  I really do think it tastes like regular pasta – and I’m picky about pasta.  Worth trying if you care about watching carbs!}  Anyway, the casserole was good, but I’d probably go in with a heavier hand with the salt and pepper and maybe even some red pepper flakes or green chile if I made it again.
  2. We made this creamy sun-dried tomato baked chicken as well and it was really good.  Dairy-free!  I love using coconut milk.  It’s also supposed to be gluten free but I tossed the chicken thighs in flour instead of buying potato starch or tapioca starch just for this one recipe (the recipe also suggests corn starch, but I just went with flour because it was easier).  I’d add mushrooms next time – those would add a nice depth of flavor, I think.  We ate it over rice, but it would be really good over egg noodles as well.
  3. And evidently I didn’t track new recipes well or we stuck with old, familiar favorites in August, because that’s the only noteworthy things I have to share about food for the month!

How was your August?

That’s a wrap {July}.

 

Links to Love:

  1. As I had an epidural during my first time in the labor and delivery ward, and I have every intention of repeating that blissful experience in a few months, I thought this was very wise.  And the writing yielded a chuckle or seven from me too.
  2. Ten ways kids appear to be acting naughty but aren’t.  I thought this article was interesting and it definitely reminded me to keep my expectations of a toddler in check.  Structure and clear parameters and expectations are important at any age, but gosh – kids are kids!
  3. Let the record reflect that I have not purchased anything from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.  Normally I pick up a pair of Zella leggings because…why not?  But this year the Zella leggings I already own are feeling a little tight so I know I wouldn’t be able to enjoy new leggings for several months and I’m more an instant gratification kind of shopper.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve perused the sale items and put a plethora of items in my cart, but then I change my mind (for reasons such as:  out of my size, won’t fit now, not breastfeeding friendly and therefore I know I won’t reach for it in a few months, etc.) and remove all items.  Just to go back the following day and play the same game.  Here are a few of my favorites:  Vince Camuto Prasata Bootie, Halogen Long Open Front Cardigan, Gibson Tie Front Cozy Fleece Pullover, Eliza J Cold Shoulder Fit & Flare Dress, Free People Electric City Pullover, and Born Allie Scalloped Ballet Flats.
  4. I did recently buy some new sneakers because I realized my beloved purple New Balance shoes have served me well since 2013 (!!) and well, there is zero support remaining and my arches aren’t getting any younger.  I bought these.  Simple and basic.

 

Making Memories:

  1. We had planned to do a staycation this year and a staycation we had.  It was just a little different than we’d imagined.  I am so grateful that Kevin and I were both able to take over a week off work after Ava’s surgery.  We really enjoyed our time together as a family, taking it pretty easy.  Kevin’s parents hung out with Ava a few times to let us get out of the house for a couple of hours.
  2. We were and are so floored by the support and love of our family and friends bringing/sending gifts and food and well wishes and texts and calls and prayers and…  Feeling the love, folks, feeling the love.
  3. I’ve been taking pre-natal yoga on Saturday mornings and it has been enjoyable.  It’s a little…prop heavy (seriously – three blankets, two blocks, a bolster, a folding chair, two sandbags, and a strap – every time.  There’s barely enough room for the pregnant ladies with all those props scattered about the space.) and it’s the kind of place that would probably frown upon my epidural birth plan, but it still provides a nice little escape for Amy and Owen.  We both feel good coming away from class.
  4. We’re adjusting to a work schedule that is slightly abbreviated as either Kevin or I work from home while Sue is with Ava, just so we’re available if she needs help with anything related to the cumbersomeness of the cast.  So far it has been working out really well.  We’re so grateful that we have the flexibility to do that with our jobs and that we have family with Ava.  I cannot imagine how tough this would be if Ava were in daycare or if we had jobs that did not allow us this flexibility.
  5. We met some friends – a quadruple date of sorts – at a local escape room one Saturday afternoon and it was so much fun.  We escaped the room, which was awesome (15% success rate for that room and we escaped with 15 minutes remaining on our time and we didn’t ask for a single hint while in the room!).  We already have a tentative date set for our next escape room adventure!  After escaping we went to a local brewery that has awesome food to boot.  I had some of their house brew root beer and a roast beef and cheddar wrap.  Kevin had a beer and a sandwich.  It was really nice to relax and chat with the other three couples, who are all just awesome people.  We’re so grateful that Kevin’s parents are so generous with their time and always willing to watch Ava so we can get out and do stuff like this or even just grab coffee and read for a bit at Starbucks.

Bookish:

  1. Kevin and I finished listening to Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.  I believe he gave it five stars and I gave it four.  He also finished listening to Treason by Newt Gingrich, which he really loved – five stars for that one too.  He was on a reading kick this month and also finished American Lion:  Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham – it received a three star rating.
  2. Kevin is reading Naked by David Sedaris (we’re all into David these days), HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership, and American Creation:  Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic by Jon Meachum.
  3. I finished the fourth Harry Potter (Goblet of Fire).  I love re-reading that series.  They truly are such good books.  I also finished Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams, to which I gave three stars.  And f.i.n.a.l.l.y – Team of Rivals:  The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I’ve been chipping away at that one since last October (!!) and it was so good.  Five stars undoubtedly.
  4. I’m currently reading Emma by Jane Austen and I’m listening to One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
  5. Ava’s favorite books currently are two from the library: Body in the My First board book series (she calls it the “baby” book because there are a lot of babies in it) and The Itsy-Bitsy Bunny.

Challenges:

  1. Obviously having a toddler in a spica cast is a challenge.  Overall we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the new normal routine and how well we’re all doing with it, but there have certainly been challenging moments.  It’s still really hard to see her immobilized.  Considering it is a short term thing, we are probably too maudlin and nostalgic about missing the sound of her little feet running down the hall or playing on the swings and slides at the park.  I think both Kevin and I have struggled with being weighed down by all the “what ifs” – what if the hip comes out again, what if the acetabulum doesn’t move down the way it needs to, what if another surgery is needed….  We are very, very grateful that things have gone smoothly thus far and all seems well as of the most recent appointment last Friday, but it has still been emotionally and mentally draining.
  2. Along those lines, both Kevin and I have had some little aches and pains as we adjusted to picking up, setting down, and carrying Ava in that bulky cast.  It turns out that it didn’t add nearly the weight we thought it would, but it’s very cumbersome and has no give to it (good thing too because it’s keeping that precious hip in place!) so it can get a little tiresome to hold and carry her for extended amounts of time.
  3. Kiki had a little digestive issue in July.  Poor girl was trapped in a room with Rue while our master bath reno was going on, and then I’m sure she picked up on our human stress with Ava’s recent experience.  She turns 15 this weekend (!!) and is overall doing so good, but we did have to go to the vet in July to get her a little medicine.  We also think her thyroid medication may need to be adjusted again.
  4. I’m only 29 weeks pregnant but starting to feel very pregnant and experienced some aches and pains that I’ve found a little alarming.  We’re on such a tight timeline in terms of when Ava is expected to move from the cast to the brace and our due date for Owen.  I just pray it all lines up okay and the pregnancy continues to go smoothly so that I can focus on Ava and all the stuff we need to do before Owen is born.

Sustenance:

  1. I made this apple breakfast cobbler in the crock pot one night.  It was pretty good with some vanilla Greek yogurt.  I don’t think it’ll be a regular breakfast in our house, but I could see it being a good option if you host a brunch or have people over for breakfast.
  2. This creamy chicken and rice one-pot dinner was a home run.  Kevin and I both loved it, Ava ate some of the chicken (she’s so picky about chicken), and the leftovers were delicious.  It reminded me of a risotto – minus all the stirring.  It really is one-pot too, so easy clean up.  I highly, highly recommend and will be making this one again.
  3. I love muffins and I love making muffins but neither Kevin or Ava are super into them (except for Einstein’s blueberry muffins – Ava will inhale one of those) so that means that I basically go through phases where I want to make a lot of muffins and then I eat a lot of muffins.  I try to stick to low/no-sugar options since I know that I’ll be eating so many of the 12-18 that a recipe produces (I know I could freeze some but I’m really bad about freezing food for “later” but NEVER eating it and eventually I have to throw out a bunch of ice-covered blocks of best of intentions), and these were really good – 2/3 of the flour used is whole wheat flour, a cup of Greek yogurt which I think must add a little bit of protein, and they’re sweetened with honey.  I happened to have blueberries and raspberries that needed to be used so I tossed both in the mix rather than just the blueberries that the recipe lists.  I also made these banana nut muffins which were delicious.  And I made these sugar-free, gluten-free chocolate peanut butter protein muffins.  Loved them!
  4. We made this slow cooker beef and potato au gratin and it was pretty good.  Super easy, and Ava friendly since she likes beef so may be something we repeat at some point.
  5. Another slow cooker meal that was a hit with Ava and Kevin was this cubed steak and gravy.  I thought the steak was a little overcooked and therefore didn’t love the texture (Kevin probably secretly agreed but he is the nicest/smartest husband on the planet and NEVER criticizes my cooking).  The gravy, however, was delicious and I would so make it again with chicken or turkey.  I also added sliced mushrooms which were perfection in that gravy.
  6. Lots of recipes to share from July!  I made these breakfast sandwiches to freeze and am happy with how they turned out.  Next time I will leave out the red bell peppers just because I’m picky about bell peppers and don’t like them with breakfast food?  I don’t know.  Can’t explain it, but that’s the one thing I’d change.
  7. Last one:  we made this Slow Cooker Korean Beef last week and it was pretty good.  I think we’d make it again.  I would recommend taking some of the sauce out and thickening it with cornstarch on the stovetop rather than trying to thicken it in the slow cooker like the recipe recommends.

 

How was your July?