Friday, January 27, 2017

Five on Friday!

Happy Friday! Sorry for being MIA this week. Things have been a little wild in our world.
one. Our first Supper Club of the year was last week at Cristina's house. She nailed it with an ultimate taco bar and margarita station. There were SO many taco toppings and Cristina even provided the coolest taco stands for each girl. For dessert she served ice cream pies -- so delicious!
Previous Supper Clubs Cristina has hosted: 2016 Build Your Own Salad Bar // 2015 Zoe's Kitchen
two. Last weekend we had the best Saturday. We stuffed the kids full of pancakes and syrup and then let them run wild  for a few hours at the children's museum.
THOSE EYES! They make me want to cry the happiest tears.
three.  Tom Tom had his 18 month well check-up this week! He had a sick visit last week so no stats came as a surprise to us - 24 pounds, 31" long! But this little man was such a champ. He got TWO shots, gave the nurse a dirty look and then laughed. For real, this dude is made of steel. Afterwards we took him out for ice cream, sans sissy.
four. I received a lot of questions on my Insta Stories about my spiralizer last weekend! We've gone through our fair share of terrible spiralizers before we found this incredible spiralizer. It is easy to use, easy to clean and has lots of attachments.
Last year's Valentine Card for Matt I downloaded here.
five. Dear Matt, if you are reading this, stop now.

No seriously.

Click out of this post right this second!

or you'll ruin your surprise...

...Last chance!

Okay friends, what are you getting your husbands for Valentine's Day? The last few years we've agreed to "no gifts" but then of course Matt gets me a gift and I feel bad for not reciprocating. I need some ideas before I end up buying him this (Matt -- shame on you if you're still reading! Do not click that link!) and some more of these. So, as you can see, I need some ideas.

Wanna join April, Natasha and I on the Friday fun? You can link-up on any of our four blogs every Friday! All you have to do is...
1.) Write your post about five things you're lovin' this week (or any five things you want to share!).
2.) Share the logo on your blog and link back. 
3.) Link-up at the bottom of the post so some new readers can check out your five things and say hello!


Friday, January 20, 2017

Five on Friday!

Happy Friday! I have a post packed with fun stuff today...
one // I think I received a record number of comments on this amazing cookie on my insta-story last weekend. I've got into a really bad habit of ordering a pound of sliced turkey at the Harris Teeter deli...and then taking 4 steps over to the bakery cakes case while I wait. And when this insanely delicious four layer cookie cake is available I just have to take a slice home. It's dangerously good but not too sweet -- the middle isn't icing, it's fluffier which allows you to eat way more than you should in one sitting. 
two // Moving on to more food! Sorry, I love food! This week we received one of our most favorite HelloFresh meals to date -- Rapid Crispy Shrimp Tacos with Crunch Red Cabbage Slaw. First, 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!
three // I've been meaning to share Thomas's second favorite Christmas gift -- the twilight turtle constellation night light. As part of our bedtime routine Thomas loves turning on his twilight turtle and picking out the color for his starry night sky -- orange, green or blue (or if we're feeling really fun we'll hit the button that cycles through all three). His room has a pitched ceiling too so the constellation looks amazing! The light stays on for 45 minutes before automatically shutting off too. Also, I don't know why I find this so funny, but the box states that this constellation night light is "pediatrician recommended" in case you need another reason to purchase one.

**In case you're wondering...I know you were!...Thomas's favorite Christmas present was the Dirt Devil vacuum. We have to pry it out of his hands when we leave the house and especially at bedtime. That little guy literally vacuums the house all day every day.
four // I recently scooped up $8 worth of flowers at Trader Joes for the loveliest bouquet of hydrangeas ($5) and some eucalyptus ($3). Additionally, Matt and I grabbed 6 new bottles of wine but our kids were screaming so I couldn't focus and just grabbed a hodge podge of pretty labels. So tell me, what is your favorite pinot noir or cab and your favorite sauvignon blanc at Trader Joes? Preferably under $9 a bottle.
five // I almost made my entire 5 on Friday post about this ONE item but held myself back...y'all, I recently found out (from a way cooler, trendier friend) about the iluminage skin rejuvenating eye mask that reduces the appearance of wrinkles while you sleep!!! This silky mask is embedded with copper, a well-known essential mineral with skin-enhancing properties. Anyway, you can find it at Macy's, Neimans, Nordstrom, Sephora and a few places. Or you can do a little price shopping and pick it up from Amazon (which is currently offering it at the same price but with a coupon for $2 off) and duh, free two-day prime shipping! I am two weeks in and am LOOOOOVING it. 

***Also, I've also been told to get the iluminage pillowcase next.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Thomas || 18 months + Contacts Video

Dear Tom Tom,

How are you 18 months old already? You are entering into one of my very favorite stages of toddlerhood and I couldn't be more excited to watch you grow into an independent little man. Don't get me wrong, I am going to mourn the loss of your delicious chubby legs as you continue to grow, I'll weep like a baby when we finally trim your mullet (and your sissy will too, in envy) and I'll give you whatever you want once you master "I love you." But my goodness, I love watching you try to do everything your sister does, listening to you slur words in attempt to chat, and to see your dancing skills getting funnier and funnier. This season is filled with bittersweet moments and milestones. I love you so, so, so much. 

PS - thank you for being my only child to eat what I cook. Even if you throw half of it on the floor, ceiling and walls. I love you. 
Now that we have the sappy stuff out of the way, here are a few things about your little life the past few months:
  • At 12 months you started climbing on things in a way your sister never did. If left alone for a few minutes we'd find you sitting on top of the back of the couch, standing on the dining room table or pushing chairs over to larger objects of furniture to go higher. You also had the absolute worst case of HFM right after your first birthday -- it was awful, but you were a champ!
  • At 14 months you officially took off on your two little legs after two months of practice. You also started saying "up," which is still one of my favorite first words ever. You also rocked the heck out of your strabismus surgery and we got the green light to stop patching!
  • At 17 months your temper tantrums escalated to a whole new level. If we take anything away from you or heaven forbid tell you "no" you throw yourself on the floor, starfish out and begin rolling back and forth through screams and sobs.
  • As soon as we say "bath time" you are the first (and the only) to skip right over to the tub and strip down. 
  • No to jinx anything, but for the most part you are our solid little sleeper. You don't pull nearly as many regressions and no-sleep phases as your sister did. 
  • You are a man of few words but you're really loving "turtle" and "more" and "nana" (banana) and your personally favorite -- "sissy!"
  • You eat anything that isn't green and MUST be greeted in the mornings with a banana when we come get you out of your crib. You are the hangriest little tot I've ever seen, otherwise you are pretty happy. You also love to help yourself to the snack drawer and can frequently be found walking around looking for someone to open your applesauce pouch.
  • Favorite song: Jesus Loves Me 
  • I am absolutely convinced that you are going to be gifted to play an instrument. I've never seen a toddler love instruments and music as much as you.
  • Other loves: brushing your teeth, using utensils to eat, the drawer of pots & pans, giving hugs
  • Weight: 24 pounds
  • 18 month favorites: Vacuum // Sippy Cups // Beat Bo // Kitchen // Turtle Night Light // Sound Machine // Scooter
A few favorite pictures of our little Tom Tom from each month (in chronological order):
And for fun -- Caroline at 18 months.

EYES UPDATE! Thomas' eyes definitely deserve their very own update. In September Thomas had strabismus surgery to correct his eye alignment and improve his vision. The surgery goal was to turn his brain on to use both eyes together (not just one and shut down the other). Within a few days we saw a remarkable improvement in his vision. We noticed Thomas getting around better and he seemed like a whole new little man. Oh, and we no longer had to patch him -- hallelujah! And so we were happy, happy, happy. And thankful. Very thankful.

But we've been warned a zillion times that this journey will continue to take us on a roller coaster of highs and lows. And shortly after we celebrated his successful surgery we were battling our next challenge -- contacts. Now, we've been extremely blessed (more than the usual cataracts baby) with contacts thus far as they usually stay in his eyes for the most part. However, out of nowhere Thomas began losing contacts -- frequently. This is extremely frustrating because when one or both of his eyes lose contact attention it shuts down, turns inward and his brain starts signaling him to go blind (very scary, as you can imagine). So all the progress we made with strabismus surgery basically went down the drain the second we lost a good contact fit. For weeks, at daycare pick-up we'd find him without contacts, eyes pointed in and unable to see at all (cue the deepest, darkest working mom guilt).

So back to the eye doctor for frequently appointments we went. The process went a little like this:
  1. Undergo a full blown eye exam (now with an extremely squirmy toddler) to take new measurements of his eyes (diameter, base curve, power)
  2. Doctor orders new set of contacts (which takes 2 weeks to make from scratch)
  3. Test new contacts for about a week and report back to the doctor on fit
  4. Doctor adjusts one, two or three of the measurements and re-orders contacts
  5. Repeat steps 1-5 until we nailed a contact size that would stay over his pupil and not pop out or slide into his eye lid. This took 10 rounds of contact trials.
Yes, we went through this process 10 TIMES. This was probably one of the darkest times for us as we just couldn't find a good fit no matter how the measurements were tweaked and we continued to see his vision plummet with each passing hour. Thomas was also losing 1-2 contacts a DAY -- for months. And these contacts cost us $200 a lens and are not covered by insurance. Our doctor told us this is when most families give up because of the financial burden and switch to glasses. But he encouraged us to stick with the contacts because glasses aren't recommended for improving vision, just maintaining -- and we had a lot of improvement to catch up on. So for several months Matt and I were at a loss. We were angry and sad. 
However, our most recent set of contacts seem to be doing the best so far...until Thomas outgrows them and we have to start the process over again. Despite the frustrations that we've faced we are beyond thankful for contacts and how far we've come in this journey. 

FOR MY FELLOW CATARACT & APHAKIA MAMAS who follow my blog for support, advice and encouragement, I wanted to share a short video and some tips that Matt and I created for a FB support group we're in on how we change Thomas' contacts.  **Note: Thomas currently wears soft lenses, not hard lenses.

 Contact tricks we've learned along the way include:
  • Wait until baby/toddler is asleep, but not too asleep to change contacts. We remove the contacts when Thomas is tired but wait until he is asleep to re-insert them. This also allows time for the contacts to soak in the solution while you're rocking your baby to sleep! If he is too far asleep he won't tolerate his eye lids being messed with, so we have to wait until he just starts to drift off to sleep.
  • We've found Biotrue Contact Solution works best for cleaning the lenses.
  • Make sure you've washed your hands really well before handling the contacts and keep a dry paper towel nearby to dry your fingers so you can handle the contact without it slipping around.
  • Pinch the eye lids together to remove the contact rather than using your fingers. It took a trip across the state to a contact lens medical doctor (yes, those exist!) to learn this trick. 
  • Rub the eye lid a bit before lifting so it doesn't startle the baby. I usually caress his little face, run my fingers over his closed eye lids and rub his lids gently so he is relaxed.
  • Lightly fold the contact into a taco shape and lift the top lid as much as baby will allow. Then, just before inserting the contact, quickly and gently pull the bottom lid down too.  
  • After the lens has been inserted into the eye rub the eye lid to help massage it into place. There have been times we inserted the contact and it got stuck folded in his eye or wasn't in all the way and pops out overnight. I like to peek into the eye one more time to make sure it's centered before laying him down for bed.
  • Last tip -- be patient and hang in there. Changing contacts can take us up to several hours at times, and longer if awake. Also, this video was 3 clips out of 30 attempts.
*Also, if anyone has tips for changing contacts with baby AWAKE please share!!! On the occasions we are forced to do this, it is torture for everyone. 



Monday, January 16, 2017

Long Weekend Rewind!

Another three day weekend, oh my! Some highlights...
We kicked off the holiday weekend with Friday night pizza dinner because is there really any better way to kick off a weekend? Nope! On my way to daycare I grabbed our favorite pizza (the One Veggie from Pizza Peel -- for the locals wondering!). We had a very long week of rough nights with Thomas being sick so the second the kiddos went down we jumped right into bed and fired up our latest binge series -- The Americans.
Saturday we ran our usual errands -- Target, grocery store, Trader Joes, etc. Caroline had been looking forward to our Target run all week because her teachers not so subtly told me it's time for her to move past pull-ups. Cue the tears...and the denial. So each day at pick up Caroline reminded me that "we need to go to Target this weekend for big girl underwear, mama!" So we did. For those of you cuddling your first newborn, don't blink. I repeat, do not blink. One minute you're wondering if you're burping your baby correctly and the next minute you're picking between Little Mermaid and Doc McStuffins underwear.
 "Eat all your french fries and you can go play!" -- Things I can't believe I hear myself say. And Caroline echos.
Around lunch time we picked up Chick-fil-A and picnicked at the park near our house. We had the whole park to ourselves and Thomas showed us how much he is NOT scared of slides.
On Sunday we got up early, ate breakfast and went to church. Yep, as I mentioned in my Instagram, we ran out of excuses so we dusted off our bibles and committed to going back to church. We accidentally got there too early, but it ended up working out because we had no clue which classes Thomas and Caroline would be in now. Caroline did GREAT and proudly marched right through the doors of the twos Sunday School class and didn't look back. Thomas...not so much...he sobbed the full hour he was there. But we are so glad we are back!
Caroline + her bestie Austin.
After church we ate some tacos and then attended a birthday party for one of Caroline's classmates. The party was at Little Gym and since we've left I haven't stopped wondering WHY we've ever hosted our parties in our home when this magical place exists. Both kids had the time of their lives jumping around, swinging on bars, rolling on mats, etc.

We had Monday off for MLK day so we lounged around the house, drank mimosas, played outside, baked brownies, caught up on laundry and Caroline helped prep dinner -- sausage bolognese over zoodles.

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