Monday, July 24, 2017

When Grief Bubbles Over in the Cereal Aisle

We hit a few more bumps in the road over the weekend. I'm trying really, really hard to stay positive and focus on the blessings around us during such a dark and frustrating time in our lives.

Friday night Charlie started dry heaving really bad. We were up with him all night trying to comfort and calm him until the vet opened. It was truly a blessing that our vet allowed us to bring him in when they opened that morning even though there were no available appointments that day. After rounds of tests, scans and blood work the doctor informed us that Charlie has advanced lymphoma and the swollen lymph nodes in his throat are bringing him a great deal of discomfort. We are meeting with an oncologist early this week to find out our treatment options and next steps. In the meantime, we have him on some medicine to reduce his discomfort -- another blessing.

The next morning I received a call from mom. She was in an ambulance with dad on the way to the hospital. Dad had taken another downhill turn. When the paramedics arrived for dad it was a ginormous blessing that they agreed to break the rules and take him to our preferred hospital which is way outside of their radius. Dad is stable for now and has the entire family there keeping him company, minus me. The rigors of chemo have deteriorated his brain significantly and there are a litany of additional health issues that we continue to uncover as tests, scans and blood work results come in. I don't know what each day will bring from here on out but this does change our family trip down this weekend. For various reasons I can't get down until Thursday night but am now flying out alone instead of bringing the entire family down. I would be remiss not to recognize the huge blessing this new job has been for me -- my boss has been so flexible and understanding and my new salary has made extremely expensive last minute flights home a little less financially burdensome.

Lastly, I'm thankful that no one was in the cereal aisle this morning when I had a complete breakdown and had to abandon my shopping cart to run to my car. I need to step away from the blog the rest of this week but will return when I can with updates.

Thank you all for your continued prayers. And for those of you who have asked how you can tangibly help -- you can send me your favorite praise & worship songs to add to my Spotify play list.



Friday, July 21, 2017

Five on Friday: Taco Round-Up

This week we received an incredible taco dinner in our HelloFresh box! In fact, every time a taco dinner is in the line up I get pretty pumped. So today I thought it would be fun to share my five favorite HF taco recipes that you can EASILY recreate in your own kitchen. Instead of layering the usual seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato and cheese, try one of these recipes for your next taco night...

Oh, and NO! this post is not sponsored (but I wish it was) annnnnnd...for each recipe I'm including my picture and the recipe pictures since my grainy snaps don't do the tacos justice!

 1 // Rapid Crispy Shrimp Tacos with Crunch Red Cabbage Slaw. This truly took less than 12 minutes to prep, cook and devour (hence, the "rapid" title). I think it's the reason I loved it so much, but also because it was SO DANG GOOD. Everything came already prepped and sliced which I really, really appreciated so I just dumped the ingredients into a bowl and then cooked the shrimp in a few minutes. Here's the recipe to make on your own!
2 // Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Crema. My favorite meatless taco! And my kids devour this one too! Find the recipe here.
3 // Feisty Fiesta Fish Tacos with Grapefruit, Avocado, and Cabbage Slaw. Never ever ever thought to put grapefruit on tacos...until now...and oh my goodness it is amazing. Find the recipe here.
4 // Sesame Beef Tacos with Quick-Pickled Veggies and Spicy Crema. These are some of the most flavorful tacos we have ever had. Find the recipe here.
5 // Crispy Fish Tacos with Lime Carrot Slaw and Sour Cream. Battered and fried fish? YES! Alllll the YES! These were Matt's favorite tacos out of them all! Find the recipe here.
And there you have it -- 5 new taco variations to try!
You know the drill...I have 4 more promo codes to give my friends a FREE box of HelloFresh meals! I'd be happy to send the first FOUR people to leave their email address in the comments a free week of HelloFresh to try!  
 Not one of the first 4 to comment but still want to try HelloFresh? Use promo code MG8GKD for $40 off your first box! That means you can try out HelloFresh for $29 and then cancel after your box arrives or keep on going.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Coffee Talk

If we were having coffee I'd love to chat about...

The courtesy wave. Is that not a thing anymore? Is it dying?! When someone allows you to jump in front of them on the road or cross the street as a pedestrian you should say THANK YOU! And it's so simple -- just a smile and a wave. It seriously makes me SO ragey when someone doesn't acknowledge the kind gesture. In fact, I wait until I am fully in front of the kind car before I wave just to make sure they see me say thank you! Can we please bring the courtesy wave back!? #2017courtesywavemovement

Brain Fog. I had a conversation with one of my girlfriends last week about how mushy my brain has become. I swear I can't remember anything. In the past week alone I've told Matt the same story twice in one day, I've left swim clothes on the counter for water play day at daycare, I've put a bag of chips in the refrigerator while cleaning the kitchen and the most embarrassing of all...I left my purse on the counter at Ulta over the weekend and didn't realize it until I got home. I was trying to keep track of both kids, pick out mascara and locate my coupon on my phone and somehow forgot my purse...but managed to walk out with both kids, my wallet, my keys and my mascara. What is wrong with me? I am totally losing it. Anyway, a blogger I follow recently wrote a bunch of tips to conquer brain fog. If you're struggling with this too, check it out.

Are you an under-buyer or an over-buyer? I am a terrible under-buyer, specifically for slow moving products like hand soap, deoderant, detergents, etc. For example, when we run out of toothpaste I normally don't have a back-up on hand. So for a day or so I scramble and end up using nasty toddler training toothpaste until I can get to Target. And you know what I do at Target? I buy ONE tube. Why? Why don't I just buy the 3 pack? Well, I hate storing stuff (with the exception of paper products, kid medicines, wine + food -- always fully stocked on all that!) and my OCD heart really despises clutter, even if it's all necessary. And when I do over-buy, I usually forget I have a stock. For example, I have NINE shampoos under my bathroom sink. NINE! And when I run out of shampoo I always forget about my stash and grab a new one from Target. Anyway, maybe it was the lack of storage in our old house that led me down this path, but I'm trying to get better about buying products in bulk on sale instead of making urgent Amazon Prime purchases! Maybe I'll ask for a Costco membership for my birthday...

Now tell me what's new with you! And would you like a bottle of shampoo?

You can find previous coffee talk sessions here!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Day In Our Life | July 2017

Today I'm tackling one of my most requested topics -- a day in our life! I do really love these types of posts and I know I'll enjoy looking back on them one day with rose colored glasses when we're empty nested. You know, when dress up clothes strewn across the floor are replaced with vacuum lines, when our furniture doesn't live under blankets in fear of ketchup hands, when 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep is our standard not a luxury, and when our favorite little people no longer need us to help them fill their sippy cup, wipe their bummy, buckle their seat belts, kiss away boo boos, bathe them and tuck them into bed. Ah, yes, I will miss these days -- I'm sure of it. But until then, let's take a peek into our daily chaos that most definitely includes lots of shared parenting duties, a flexible job, a rock star daycare and is fueled by coffee and wine.

Oh, and also, instead of taking pictures this time for my documentary, I decided to film a short iMovie of clips instead, which took me over a month to record + compile! So if you want to watch the three minute video of our day, I promise it's way more fun and adorable than reading through the following timeline...

6:30 am: From the top of the stairs we can hear Caroline loudly and I mean loudly whispering "Mommy? Daddy? Are you awake?" which we will acknowledge by waving good morning and whisper back for her to go play for a bit. She runs off to play and Matt hops out of bed and into the shower. I scroll through Instagram, check emails and read a few blogs. 

6:45 am: I hop out of bed, pour us some coffee and start getting ready. In the bathroom, Matt and I compare our schedules for the day. Halfway into my makeup routine I can hear over the monitor that Caroline is up to no good. I check the monitor and sure enough she has pushed her art easel into Thomas' room to use as a step stool to catapult herself into his crib to wake him up and play with him. And so we start getting ready faster. 

7 am: Thomas is starving (he wakes up ravenous) so one of us goes upstairs to get both kids out of his crib and change the little man's diaper. Today it's me, but usually it's Matt so I can keep getting ready. Caroline requests that I check out her poopy in the potty from earlier that morning (can I get an amen on this stage?!) and on my way into the bathroom I almost break my neck on the bottle of soap she pumped out all over the floor which she claims was to "help clean" after washing her hands. 

7:15 am: Kids pile into our bed and watch an episode of Paw Patrol while we finish getting ready for work. 

7:30 am: Matt and I are dressed and ready...time to tackle the kids. We usually tag team getting the kids dressed, teeth brushed and lathered in sunscreen. 

7:55 am: If we're in a hurry to get to the office we toss the kids straight into my car with an on-the-go breakfast (granola bar, banana, bagel, applesauce pouch, etc.). If we aren't rushed I usually give them a quick breakfast while I finish my coffee and fry up a quick egg sandwich to take to the office. This morning I also throw dinner in the crock pot so it's ready when we arrive home. 

8:10-8:15 am: Kisses and hugs for daddy and we are off to daycare! I take the kids to school most mornings since I can get a little bit of a later start than Matt. 

8:15 am: Arrive at daycare. The kids fight over who gets to beep us in with the key fob. Scrub in at the hand washing station. Race to class. Caroline likes to drop off Thomas first so she can give him a hug and kiss before running out the door to her class (this is one of my favorite moments of every day!!). Drop Caroline off in her class with lots of hugs and kisses. 

8:35 am: Stop at Brueggers to fill my mug with coconut coffee. 

8:40 am: Hit the road if I'm traveling or head to office. 

9 am - 4:45 pm: Typical work day for me: meetings, meetings, meetings, conference calls, run out for coffee refill, eat lunch at desk or out with a friend, emergency run to Target for more diapers for Thomas, emails, emails, emails. 

5:15 pm: I arrive home and whip up something for the kids to eat and begin prepping dinner for me and Matt as well. 

6:20 pm: Daddy has scooped the kids up and taken them to their school library to pick out books for bedtime tonight and return yesterday's books. (He is way more fun at pickup than me). 

6:25 pm: Beg and plead with the kids to eat their dinner. It's a 50/50 gamble whether they make a happy plate and receive a marshmallow. (NOT above bribery here!) We sit down with the kids while they eat but we don't eat our dinner usually until after they go to bed. 

6:40 pm: Go for a walk, play in the driveway or inside for a little before its time for bath.

7:00 pm: Begin bath time routine. Both kids are bathed together. Teeth brushed. Dressed in jammies. I rock Thomas to sleep with lots of songs and Matt tucks Caroline in over many books, stories, songs, kisses, requests (water, potty, socks, retrieve missing stuffed animals, etc. etc. etc.) 

7:30 pm: While Matt finishes up the marathon bedtime routine for Caroline I finish preparing our dinner. 

7:45 pm: We eat together, clean up the kitchen, pack lunches, refill backpacks, prep coffee for next morning, etc. 

8:00 pm: Matt will usually jump into bed and fire up his laptop to tackle a little more work depending on how crazy his day was. I soak in the bath tub and scroll through ALL the social media and blogs I need to catch up on. 

8:30-9: Join Matt in bed. Knock out a blog post while watching an episode of whatever DVR'd show we can agree on. Tonight I win (actually, I usually win)...and it's a two hour episode of Dateline -- my favorite!

10-11 pm: I pass out and Matt stays up to finish watching whatever we started. He rewatches everything at least twice because I fall asleep so fast and have to constantly catch up!

And that's the highlight reel of our typical day! Of course, I edited out all the tantrums and meltdowns so you didn't have to suffer through them with us.

Previous Day In The Life Posts
A Day in the Working Mama Life | June 2016 (11 months & 2 yo)
A Day in the Life of Maternity Leave | June 2014 (7 wks & 14 mo)


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Seared Scallops in Lemon Butter Sauce

Scallops are on sale at the Harris Teeter this week so a few nights ago I scooped up a pound for dinner and waited for the kids to go to bed so Matt and I didn't have to share them with our two little people. After a quick Pinterest search I found the perfect scallops recipe (which I adapted slightly) and got to work. I served our scallops on top of a bed of asparagus and drizzled the remaining pan sauce on top. We both licked our plates clean.

Seared Scallops in Lemon Butter Sauce

1/2 lb bacon
1 lb scallops
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon
3 tablespoons white wine (can substitute with more lemon juice)
2 tablespoons butter

1. Cook bacon in skillet until extra crispy. Remove from pan and let cool. Chop up the strips.
2. Pat scallops dry with paper towels.
3. In a large very hot skillet until add 2 tablespoon of olive oil and immediately add scallops. Sear on high heat, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the skillet.
4. Squeeze in the juice from lemon and white wine. Scrape the bottom of the pan.
5. Remove the pan from the heat, add 2 tablespoons of softened butter to the lemon sauce, and stir, to create a creamy sauce. Add chopped bacon. Add back scallops.
6. Enjoy!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Master Bathroom Renovation | Tile

Where to start?! When we purchased our home we knew the master bathroom had some urgent  significant issues that needed to be addressed right away. During the inspection a shower leak was discovered. The leak appeared to have been active for years, maybe even close to a decade. As a result, the bathroom floor was literally rotted out and sinking in and resting on the plumbing underneath the house! Not good. And not a cheap fix either. But we wanted the home bad enough that we took on the renovation and although it was extremely stressful at the time (we've learned we are just not renovation people) I am so happy with the bathroom updates.

Alright, so enough backstory! I have a lot to cover in detail so I'm going to break the projects up into a few separate posts. Feel free to pass over this series if bathroom renovations aren't your thing!

Let's dive in, shall we? A few BEFORE pictures so you can see what we were working with.
The first step in the renovation process was removing the floor. I actually didn't mind the original tile in the bathroom but it had to go so we could replace the flooring and the sub-flooring. Once the tile was ripped up we then demolished the flooring.
Poof -- in one afternoon the floor to our bathroom was GONE. You could literally see right into our crawl space at one point. We also discovered that the floor joist wasn't sufficient for the weight of our bathroom so we had to replace it with a new one. This was actually the most expensive part of the renovation. Once the floor had the correct support we then laid new and improved sub-flooring and then new flooring.
After the demo was complete it was time to begin tiling. To keep the progress moving quickly we had to find tile that was in stock and ready for immediate delivery. Well, apparently that is not how tile shops operate, which we learned after taking a half day off of work to trek all over town to various tile shops. After awhile it all started to look the same, the price tag had me in hives and the delivery timing was just not feasible to keep the project on track.

I carried these two tile inspiration pictures with me everywhere we shopped...

Dreamy, right?
Our last tile shop of the day was Lowes, which I had very low expectations going in to. However, I was quite impressed with the tile selection and grabbed a sample of Marble look-alike porcelain tile to bring home and compare to the other two tile contenders. Naturally, I then called an emergency meeting with my best friends to come over and look at my tile and pick their favorite. And because they are all super awesome, they did just that (don't worry, I provided mimosas in thanks)! In pictures they loved #2 (middle) best, but in person they loved #1 (top) the most! Then I asked Instagram (duh!) which tile y'all liked best and received SO many helpful responses. One commenter said she went with a similar white marble tile (pictured at the bottom) and now sees a corporate lobby building every time she walks into her bathroom. LOL. After she said that, I couldn't unsee it either. And tons of other commenters warned me that if we went too light the floor would show every single hair and speck of dust! I can always count on my Insta-friends! The advice and votes continued to roll in...
And the top tile won by a landslide, which was funny because the middle tile was actually my favorite, but of course the most expensive. Our final two contenders were priced at $1.49 sq ft versus $6.99 sq ft which was a ginormous difference in cost. And since we had budgeted zero dollars for a bathroom renovation we went with the popular, cost saving tile...
Honestly, I couldn't be happier. We didn't even have to cut the tile because there was an option to order it in 12x24, which is the size we wanted. We also went with silver grout. I purchased the tile and grout online for same day in-store pick-up, using a 20% off coupon (purchased for $1.99 on eBay) and received a check in the mail for 5% cash back just for ordering through ebates! Not bad!
On installation day the tile guy asked me which pattern I wanted to lay the tile in. I hadn't even thought about a pattern so I asked him to lay out a few options. Once the samples were ready Matt and I both agreed that the herringbone pattern was perfect so we went with that.
And that wraps up the flooring! On to the shower...


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