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?

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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?

That’s a wrap {June}.

 

Links to Love:

  1. This song (Homecoming – Josh Ritter) was at the end of the Billions season finale and I immediately bought it on iTunes.  My play count since purchase is probably 100+.  (Slight exaggeration.  Slight.  Maybe.)  I love it.
  2. Speaking of songs, Rach shared this one recently, and it really resonated.  Hannah Kerr’s voice is beautiful.
  3. Comparing the Big 12 Football Teams to characters from The Office – I thought this was pretty funny.
  4. Heart eyes on this little video – a baby elephant chasing birds.

Making Memories:

  1. Our master bath renovation took a little over two weeks but it is over now and we are so, so happy with the results!  Our bathroom feels so luxurious and spa-like.
  2. Kevin and I have each made time for friends in June.  He met up with some guys he used to work with for a golf tournament and they had a great time.  I’ve lunched and brunched with a few friends, and we met up with my aunt and some of my cousins for dinner one night.
  3. I started a pre-natal yoga continuing education class.  It’s eight weeks and I think it’ll be really good for me and therefore the little guy.
  4. Speaking of our boy, we have announced his name:  Owen Daniel.  Owen was honestly the only name that Kevin and I agreed we strongly liked and Daniel is Kevin’s middle name.  We’ve probably known for two months that Owen was the strongest name contender, but we waited for quite awhile to share because why not?
  5. Ava had a lot of fun in June.  She’s been to the zoo a couple of times, had a few play dates, played in sprinklers with the neighborhood kids, and went swimming for the first time!
  6. We have felt so blessed by the outpouring of love and support from family and friends. Seriously – I’m so humbled by the generosity of the people in our lives. Kevin’s parents have kept us fed from the day of the surgery forward and so many others have given food and time and prayers and gifts and…we’re just so fortunate.

Bookish:

  1. I’m still currently reading Team of Rivals (slow and steady progress) and re-reading the fourth Harry Potter.  I also started Emma and I’m really enjoying it!  Jane Austen is so witty.
  2. The only book I finished in June was actually an Audible book:  Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella.  Definitely not my favorite book by her – I gave it three stars.  It’s hard to say for sure, but I may have liked it better if I’d read it rather than listened to it.
  3. Kevin finished Good to Great and gave it five stars.  (Ron, are you reading this?  I promise we’re not just saying five stars because you’d disown us if we rated Jim Collins any lower.  ;-) Kevin really loved the book and sees so much application for it at work.)
  4. Kevin is reading American Lion:  Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham.  He is also listening to Treason, which is the sequel to Duplicity, the book we listened to on our way to and from Denver last December.
  5. We also are both still listening to David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day.  And we found out that David Sedaris is coming to town in November!!  We’re definitely going to go to that show.
  6. Ava made a trip to the library in June and has really enjoyed two of her checked out board books:  Show Me Your Feelings and Baby’s First Words.

Challenges:

  1. This post goes into the details, but finding out on June 1 that Ava’s hip is out of joint and she would require surgery was undoubtedly a monster challenge.  The month included a lot of anxiety, tears, and research as we tried to prepare ourselves.  A few decisions were made:  I decided to take a leave of absence from Junior League which meant abandoning my role on the board and Kevin decided to decline the offer to be the head coach of the middle school football team at his alma mater.  We both struggle with feeling like we’re letting people down by backing away from those commitments, but I feel strongly that as rewarding as those roles would be in a normal fall, we simply have too much else going on personally and professionally.
  2. The surgery was Wednesday and it was a very, very hard day. We had to be there at 6:15 am and they called us back around 7:00. By then Ava was starting to get hungry and she doesn’t care for medical professionals anyway, so we went into meltdown mode pretty quick. And by we I mean both her and me. The people – nurses, surgeon, anesthesiologist – were all so professional and amazing but oh my goodness I think it was the hardest thing either Kevin or I have ever done to send our baby back to the sterile surgery environment section. The surgery was definitely best case scenario –  a closed reduction. They made a small incision to cut a tendon but it was a primarily un-invasive procedure, for which we are very thankful. The nurse kept us updated from the OR through the process and the surgeon came out to talk to us when he was done and we were happy with the degree of confidence he had in the result of the procedure.
  3. Ava’s recovery and our adjustment is only three days in but we’re doing well overall. Ava gets frustrated with her lack of mobility and has asked us a few times to let her “out” of the cast or for us to put her down to walk. It breaks my heart to see her confused and frustrated. We think we are managing the pain well and we’re learning as we go. It’ll be a long 12 weeks in the cast and then the unknown of what will follow (brace for probably 12 months and the continued uncertainty of everything in that hip area staying in place, etc.) but one day at a time, one day at a time.
  4. We still know that we did the right thing with this surgery. Without intervention, Ava would have likely had arthritis by age 15 and needed a total hip replacement by age 30. But it is still hard in the moment to see her so immobilized.

Sustenance:

  1. We made these tomato-basil fish packets on the grill and they were really good.  We’re definitely going to try other variations of veggies with white fish.  Salmon packets or shrimp packets would be great too.  So many possibilities!  Perfect for summer!
  2. I made these 2-ingredient fro-yo bites as a dessert option for myself since I’m trying to really limit my sugar.  I did Oikos Triple Zero vanilla Greek yogurt with raspberries and I think they’re good.  They also made excellent little popsicles for Ava.
  3. Kevin loves this sauce which is a staple in Costa Rica, so we ordered some on Amazon and made this Costa Rican arroz con pollo.  It was very good and easy.

How was your June?

Capsule recipe box: beef.

Beef…it’s what’s for dinner.  Probably once a week or so at our house.  My parents own cattle so we know exactly where our beef comes from and what goes into it, which is really a great thing.

Here are a few of our favorite beef recipes.  {For our “capsule recipe box” of chicken recipes, click here.}

SLOW COOKER BEEF GYROS

I’ve posted this one in a past monthly recap post (here).  It’s really easy and customizable in terms of toppings.

BEEF STROGANOFF

Ava loves this stroganoff and so do Kevin and I.  We always keep a stash of the McCormick Stroganoff seasoning packs on hand and it’s a really quick go-to recipe on a week night.  We follow the instructions on the seasoning packet and add some red pepper flakes for a bit of a kick.  We have used both stew meat and ground beef and both are good, but Ava prefers the ground beef and we keep more ground beef than stew meat in the freezer, so we’ll default to that.  This is best served over egg noodles, but we’ve been really trying to watch our pasta intake so more often than not we’ll serve it over rice.  Still delicious!

MELT IN YOUR MOUTH POT ROAST

This one needs a little time to really reach peak flavor so we’ve really only made it on weekends.  Perfect for a chilly day!

SPAGHETTI WITH MEAT SAUCE

We’ll usually brown some ground beef and mix in Newman’s Sockarooni spaghetti sauce, but sometimes I love to make my own simple spaghetti sauce like the one my mom made when I was growing up.  That’s just cans of tomato sauce, cans of whole or stewed tomatoes, dried seasonings like basil and oregano, salt, pepper, and lots of simmering time.  I love that there is no added sugar and just simple ingredients.  Our favorite pasta to serve any sauce over is De Boles Organic Spinach Fettucine.  I’ve also recently really been into zoodles.  I don’t have a fancy spiralizer and just use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons which I then sauté very lightly in olive oil or butter, if I’m feeling decadent.

EASY SHEPHERD’S PIE

Technically this is cottage pie if you use beef (lamb = shepherd), but it really is easy and it really is delicious.  The recipe can be found here.

STEAK ON THE GRILL

Kevin is the official grillmaster at our house.  This is the marinade we most often use on steaks.  It is so, so delicious.  I like my steak medium rare, but I’ll eat it less rare when pregnant.  My sister doesn’t have a grill so she cooks her steak in the cast iron skillet and raves about that method as well.

BEEF STEW

Another one that is great for a chilly weekend day as it takes a little time to prepare and cook.  But it is worth every ounce of effort and it will leave your house smelling so, so good.  Here’s the recipe we love best when we have a hankering for beef stew.

TACOS

We brown up the ground beef and mix in some taco seasoning packet (probably McCormick?).  We use the hard corn shells that stand up by themselves.  Load them up with meat, sprinkle cheddar cheese on top, and place in the broiler until the cheese is melted.  So good and easy.

What are your favorite beef recipes?  How do you like your steak?

 

That’s a wrap {May}.

 

Links to Love:

  1. I’ve been doing a lot of internal audits at work and really have enjoyed listening to YouTube videos simultaneously.  I’m not super into makeup or hair really, but I’ve been loving Tati’s channel.  She’s just entertaining and because I’m not really in it to pick up makeup application tips or anything, it’s fine to have on in the background and not have my eyes on the video.
  2. Whack-a-meow is adorable.
  3. It’s vacation season.  I won’t be going to a beach this year, but a few of these look really nice.

Making Memories:

  1. We did a lot of prep for our master bath renovation.  The reno is scheduled for June, so we ordered the vanity, tub, tile, shelving, shower door, etc. in May.  Basically we spent A LOT of money.
  2. Mother’s Day was lovely.  We went to breakfast at Weck’s, which is our two-year-running Mother’s Day tradition.  Then we did our grocery shopping.  As a gift from Ava, Kevin gave me an adorable picture plaque with four of my favorite photos of Ava.  He also chooses the best cards and I always treasure the card itself, but most importantly his sweet, heartfelt message.  We had his parents over for dinner and he grilled up some delicious steak and bell peppers.  Ava took a 2 hour nap which means mama and dad took naps of their own!  It was a good day.
  3. We had a site re-credentialing audit at work and passed with flying colors.  Audits are always a lot of work and stressful, but our director of QA is great at getting us prepared, with a little help from her assistant (me :)).
  4. A few years ago, in prenatal yoga, I met a woman who owns a spa and beauty retreat here (Broadway Skin & Beauty Retreat).  My skin had been acting really wonky (pregnancy + a cold + weird variations in the weather patterns + …) so I decided to go get a facial with Devon.  It was really relaxing and fantastic.  Quite a treat!
  5. Kevin and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary!  Since it fell on a Wednesday this year, we decided to celebrate on the following Saturday by going to Indigo Crow, our favorite restaurant.  Lobster ravioli and ceasar salads all around.  Wine for the gentleman.  We sat on the outdoor patio and it was a perfect night.  We even stayed out until almost 9:00 and had Kevin’s parents put Ava to bed for the first time ever.  It went really well!  She has been such a champ at bedtime recently (knock wood a million times).

Bookish:

  1. I’m still currently reading Team of Rivals and re-reading the fourth Harry Potter.
  2. The only book I finished in May was Sense and Sensibility.  I gave it three stars, cringed, and changed my rating to four stars.  It seemed like a sin to give Jane Austen three stars.
  3. Kevin is reading American Lion:  Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham and he’s listening to Good to Great by Jim Collins.
  4. We still have a lot to listen to in David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day.  It’s really funny.  :)
  5. Ava’s favorite book to read is Old McDonald’s Woodshop.  She is obsessed with that book – calls it “zztt zztt zztt” because that’s the sound the saw makes.  She isn’t especially interested in reading Baby Beluga but she carries it around like a security blanket, even taking it into the crib with her at night.

Challenges:

  1. I had a really bad sore throat that became a head cold in early May.  It was the worst head cold I’ve had in years.  I feel like this pregnancy has really affected my immune system more than my pregnancy with Ava did.
  2. We learned something on June 1 that will present a Challenge with a capital C, and it really is overshadowing anything that may have seemed challenging in May.  Since I’m writing this after the fact (too OCD to not finish out the year with these monthly update posts – even if it means they may be late sometimes :)), our June and beyond challenge is really impeding my ability to backtrack and think of anything else to share about May challenges.  And I will share more on this mysterious new challenge in a future post.

Sustenance:

  1. We made this slow cooker melt-in-your-mouth pot roast, which was very delicious.
  2. These barbeque chicken sweet potatoes were hearty and tasty.  I wish we would have tried them in the winter – great cozy, cold weather food.
  3. The dinner of the month was definitely our lobster ravioli at Indigo Crow.  Always the best.

How was your May?

That’s a wrap {April}.

 

Links to Love:

  1. I’m a birth devotee per this childbirth quiz.  I knew my love of birth stories would pay off big someday.
  2. This is inspiring. The first woman to run the Boston Marathon ran it again this year at age 70.
  3. Continuing with women in sports….  The kicker is my favorite on any football team.  {Unless it’s the Seattle Seahawks because I heart Russell Wilson.  But that’s another story.}  I loved this article about a high school senior making history when she received a scholarship to play football (position:  kicker) at a Division 1 school.
  4. This Heineken commercial is awesome.

Making Memories:

  1. April 7th marked the 7th anniversary of mine and Kevin’s first date!  We celebrated by going back to Jasmine, the Thai restaurant we went to on 4/7/2010.  I just love the life we have built together and I am so, so grateful for him.  Here’s the first date story if you’re interested.
  2. After our pre-Easter Saturday plans didn’t work out (see Challenges below), we capitalized on the open Saturday afternoon to go down to Honda and Kevin traded in his truck for a Pilot!  He loves it so much and it just fits our current stage of life so much better.  There was no way two carseats were going to fit in the Tacoma (we tried and he couldn’t even get his legs in the truck because the seat was so far forward) and he traded it in at a point that really maximized its trade in value.
  3. We had a few playdates with a few friends through the month.  It’s always fun to see our friends being parents.  We’re surrounded by such good people!
  4. I had a couple of Junior League workshifts to attend in April.  Nothing liking waiting until the last minute to fulfill those obligations.

Bookish:

  1. I’m still currently reading Team of Rivals and Sense and Sensibility.  These monthly updates make me feel like it takes forever to read some of these longer books, and maybe it does.  But I really am making progress on each!  I recently started re-reading the fourth Harry Potter as well.
  2. The only book I finished in April was The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines.  I listened to this one on Audible and I really enjoyed it!  It’s narrated by the couple which was very appealing.  I rated it four stars.
  3. Kevin finished The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 in April and rated it five stars.  He said it was really, really well researched and written.  Now he’s reading American Lion, which is about Andrew Jackson.
  4. We still have a lot to listen to in David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day, but it’s really funny thus far.
  5. Ava’s favorite book is currently Ten Wriggly Wiggly Caterpillars.

Challenges:

  1. On the Saturday before Easter we loaded up into the car, started our David Sedaris book playing on Audible, and headed north to join my family Easter celebration for the day.  About 30 minutes into our three hour drive, Ava started fussing, which is pretty uncommon for her when she’s in the car seat.  I sat up, craned my neck, and looked down to check on her – just in time to see puke flowing out of her little mouth.  Ugh.  So much puke.  Her breakfast was…colorful coming back up.  And it didn’t smell too great.  Kevin pulled over and we cleaned up our poor baby as best we could.  We put her in the one change of clothes we carry in the diaper bag.  She was crying hysterically and we were all in agreement that the best course of action was to turn around and head straight home.  While it was sad to miss out on the family time, I’m glad we did what we did, because it would have been a miserable day if we’d kept on with the drive.  We still don’t know what was wrong.  Maybe her breakfast didn’t sit right?  Maybe she got car sick (she’s fine on swings and slides and has never shown an issue with being in the car before, so I’m really hoping she isn’t becoming prone to motion sickness)?  She seemed fine the rest of the day!  Especially after a nice bath.
  2. While I cannot complain about how this pregnancy is going because I’ve had it pretty easy, I did have one bout of pregnancy symptom – er – challenges in April.  I’ll just leave it at that and say I’m glad it seems to have passed and I’m going to very diligent about eating well and taking care of myself from this point forward.
  3. We’re starting to really plan out our master bath renovation and finding the stuff and making it all fit together has been a bit of a challenge.  I think we know what we want to accomplish, but gosh, there are a lot of pieces that need to come together to make it happen.  Our plan was to have the work done in May, but we’ll see if we need to push it to June.
  4. The weather was warm and we thought winter was behind us so we called our regular HVAC guy to come turn off the furnaces and turn on the swamp coolers.  Then a week later the temperatures dropped and it got down into the thirties overnight!  Sooooo cold.  Ava refuses to sleep with a blanket on her so I worried all night that she was going to get too cold.  Fortunately I think we all survived fine and the temps are rising again.  Hopefully we’re in the clear.

Sustenance:

  1. These slow cooker beef gyros were really, really good.  Possibly one of the best slow cooker meals we’ve ever had.  I set up a bowl of chopped tomatoes, some feta cheese, sautéed onions (because I forgot to add the onions to the slow cooker with the beef stew meat – oops, but it worked out fine and dare I say, the sautéed onions may have been better than crock pot onions?), the beef, and the tzaitki sauce on the table, heated up a couple of pieces of pita bread, and we built our own gyros.  They were excellent – I highly recommend this recipe.  We made it twice in April and the second time wasn’t quite as good – I think I let the meat cook for too long in the slow cooker.
  2. Umm, I think that’s the only new recipe we tried in April….  We stuck to regular favorites.
  3. I’ve been very into sushi recently and while I can’t have some of my regular favorite rolls because they have raw fish, an avocado roll and California roll will do in a pinch.  Something about the texture is just so appealing to me recently.
  4. I’ve also become obsessed with the Duke City Ruben sandwich served at Bocadillo’s (it was on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives once and the owner was on Chopped!  Spoiler alert:  she won!).  I think I ate that sandwich three times in April.

How was your April?

A day in the life – April 2017.

Carrying on my tradition of posting a day-in-the-life play-by-play (so. many. hyphens) every six months!  Past posts:  October 2015April 2016October 2016 

These days, Ava is sleeping like a champ and wakes up between 6:30 and 7:30 each morning.  I know that seems like a wide range of time, and maybe it is.  As such, I wake up at around the same time because I will likely never be one to get up before my child(ren).  It’s just not who I am.  Kevin, on the other hand, wakes up at around 5:15 or 5:30.  He goes downstairs, has some coffee, reads the paper, watches Mike & Mike, and sometimes goes to the gym. If he doesn’t go to the gym, he’ll go upstairs when Ava wakes up and they start their morning by turning off the sound machine, opening the blinds, and changing a diaper.  They usually find me getting out of bed and we’ll all go downstairs together.  Unless I need to stop off to throw up (or not – it’s such a pointless exercise:  nausea and the urge to puke but empty stomach, so nothing happens), which is happening less, but still trips up the morning every few days.

We do breakfast.  Ava usually has yogurt and fruit; Kevin and I usually have an English muffin with peanut butter or almond butter.  Then we just hang out downstairs until around 8:00 when it’s time to go upstairs and start getting ready.  Ava is obsessed with my makeup these days and loves “makeup time”.  She’ll haul around the brushes and containers and scatter them about as I chase after her, collecting what I need as I need it.

If it’s a morning that I work, Kevin and I will head to work at a little before 9:00 or when Sue arrives to watch Ava.  Ava has been loving Grandma (Pa-ma, she calls her) these days so there aren’t any tears when we leave.  “See ya, folks,” is more her motto.  I’ll work through the morning (audits, audits, audits – that’s the name of the game recently) and Kevin and I will usually both go home for lunch at 1:00, if he doesn’t have a meeting or something.

We’ll hear about Ava’s morning – she has been taking 1 hour to 2 hour crib naps recently (party emoji!) and will usually be eating lunch when we get home.  We’ll eat with her (leftovers, egg and avocado burrito for me, lunchmeat sandwich for Kevin – those are common) and then Kevin goes back to work.

Ava and I play and go for a walk if it’s not too windy.  We’ll stop off at the park and she’ll play there for a bit.  She loves the slides and the swing and pointing at the sand (“HOT!”) and the little ant hills and the leaves and so forth.

Once home again we’ll have a snack, then play or read or watch Raffi.  She’s obsessed with Raffi, and I don’t mind letting the DVD babysit for awhile as I rush around, cleaning up, prepping dinner, etc.  Or cuddling her on the couch and marveling at the eighties style clothes and hair of the kids and adults jamming to man in concert.

Sometimes we’ll go out in the backyard and play there for a bit.  We have a little sandbox for her and her favorite thing is climbing in and out and in and out and so on and so forth.

One day a neighborhood cat was on the back wall/fence and Ava spotted it and said, “Cat!”  The cat jumped down into another yard and ever since then Ava will point to that corner of the yard and say, “Again!” because she wants me to magically conjure up another cat.  Cats are hard to conjure.  That’s a tough pill for a one year old to swallow and I can tell that she does NOT understand why the cat isn’t on the wall.  She’s very patient through my rational explanations of cat independence, but I can tell with each “Again!” that she really just wants me to FIND A CAT.

Kevin comes home around 5:30 and if I’m on it, I’ll have started dinner.  Unless we’re grilling in which case, maybe I’ve prepped stuff, but I don’t turn on the grill (he’s shown me how no fewer than eight times and I just can’t seem to retain the information), so we wait for the grillmaster.  Dinner is served around 6:10 and we’ll eat together.  At the table, like adults!  This still shocks me because BA (Before Ava) we were committed couch and TV dinner people.  If we get done early enough and don’t need to do a bath (baths are approximately every other night or as needed, such as when peanut butter covered hands get raked through golden locks), we occasionally meet up with some families who live one street over from us.  There are five families and we call ourselves “the Five Families,” always in a Godfather-esque tone.  By we, I mean Kevin and me.  We’re too cool to actually do that in front of these people who can really just be considered acquaintances at this point.  But anyway, it’s nice to have other kids nearby and the ages range from 11 months old (well, in utero if you count the baby I’m growing!) to 6 years old – hopefully they’ll all be able to play together for many years to come.

Beginning at around 7:00, we put Ava in her pajamas and read three books with her.  We’ve been alternating nights on who puts her to bed, so one of us will say goodnight and tell her we love her and the other will pick her up, turn on the sound machine, and walk around her room, singing to her for about 5 minutes.  (Quick note on singing – she has strong opinions about which song she wants us to sing to her and will shake her head and say, “No,” until we settle on one she approves.)  When she’s getting drowsy (or sometimes not – she’s getting heavy and my back starts to hurt!), we’ll put her in the crib, finish the song we’re singing, and tell her goodnight and that Mama and Daddy love her.  Then we leave the room and – knock wood, please – she has been quiet as a little mouse, settling herself to sleep when she’s ready for the past two weeks or so.  It’s amazing.  We’re so proud of her.

Kevin and I will read or watch TV.  We commonly watch Chopped and Fixer Upper as re-runs, and our current “new” shows are Billions and Better Call Saul and Big Bang Theory, so if there is a new one for any of those, we’ll watch it.  We usually go upstairs between 9 and 9:30 and get ready for bed.  And that’s the day.  I love every moment with my little family.  I’m excited to do a post like this in October and see how things have changed.  We will have a newborn in the house!

What’s the typical day like in your life right now?