Life Lately

I usually write in the evenings when the girls are in bed but I just didn’t have it in me last night. And so now I punch out these words while I allow the girls to make an absolute mess of my living room. Ah such is life.

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I love how well the girls play together. What an amazing gift to have a friend for life. Sisters truly are the best. They don’t always see eye-to-eye but it is just fun to watch them interact and grow together.

A lot of disappointing things happened over the weekend but none that threaten our life or joy, so as the old adage goes: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And that was my plan for our usual weekend catch up post. I wasn’t planning to write one at all. But while surfing through the photos on my phone I wanted to add a few tidbits from the weekend.

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It was disappointing circumstances that brought us to Charlotte Saturday morning, but while we were there we decided to make the best of it and treat it as a date.

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Bagels and juice.

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Saturday night was also fun. I made this great pizza recipe from Daily Garnish and then we headed out for the food trucks in downtown Mooresville to snack. We learned the hard way not to plan our whole dinner around food trucks. We usually end up hangry standing in long lines. So now we just go for snacks. We shared a plate of hand cut potato fries and deep fried Oreos.

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Sunday night we capped off the weekend with a glass of red wine and this amazing dessert. You must run out immediately and make a skillet cookie! I topped ours with coconut milk whip cream.

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Instagram-worthy shot versus how we really ate the thing:

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That’s all folks. Hope you had a great weekend and the stress of back-to-school isn’t getting to you. We were treated with nicer temps yesterday and I can smell Fall in the near future. I know this is a stressful time for many but I’m just excited for the change of seasons and the promise of things to come!

A morning in Charlotte with kids

Want a fun place to play with your tots? We explored ImaginOn yesterday morning and had a blast.

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Getting there was not a blast, however. Dumb 77 traffic gets us every time. I’m incredibly frustrated by this highway and feel like it takes away all the joy of living close to a big(ish) city. Getting to Charlotte is now such an ordeal! It is crazy to think that we are now making life plans that revolve around the traffic on this road and to know that it won’t be any better for a very long time (if ever) is highly disappointing.

Rant over. When we finally got through the traffic that held us up over an hour it was smooth sailing to ImaginOn. This unique library/museum is a haven for toddlers and moms. It is free (!) and incredibly fun. This summer’s open exhibit is The Adventure’s of Mr. Potato Head and my girls absolutely loved it.

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We arrived around 9:30 and walked right into the Mr. Potato Head exhibit. Our friends Amanda and Piper came along too (thank goodness for friends who will brave traffic) and we all got to work creating our own versions of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. I think Eleanor could have stayed here all morning playing! I finally peeled her away so we could check out the rest of the exhibit. There were so many fun and interactive stations that a 3-year old could easily be entertained for hours. However, we only had about an hour to play before story time and that was the perfect amount for my 1 1/2 year old.

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Story time in the library wasn’t much different than story time at our local library but the girls had a blast anyway. One of our favorite weekly activities is going to the library so it was awesome we got to do story time twice this week. After about 30 minutes of songs and books and activities we all walked over to 7th Street Public Market for snacks. Amanda and I each enjoyed a cappuccino from Not Just Coffee and we loaded up on muffins, croissants and pretzels (carb loading) from Local Loaf. The market quickly filled up with lunch goers. The public market is so different than anything we have in Mooresville that it was incredibly fun to just sit and people watch.

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Nap time was creeping up so we headed out. I still had a few errands to run on the way home and of course we had traffic to contend with. Still it was an incredibly fun morning out of Mooresville. My stir-crazy ways needed to hit the highway this week even if we were only crawling along it.

 

 

 

A case of the Tuesdays?


I have a case of the Tuesdays. That’s a thing right? My attitude has been off all day and while I’d like to blame it on my children I know it’s me. The morning started off with a bit of pouting from my three-year old and it drove me crazy and instead of moving on and getting over it I decided to dwell in my self-pity…being a mom is hard, demeaning, ungrateful work. Nobody helps me with this and that, I’m all alone, I’m a servant, a slave. That kind of dialogue plagued my mind and ruined my morning.

A few things helped to turn it around…I ignored my children for about an hour and read a book. The girls terrorized the house while I happily sat on the couch doing nothing but read. Second, food. I ate my breakfast (finally) while my children watched, surely wanting a bite but too afraid to ask because mommy might really lose it then. Bless them. I was hangry. And last, while they ate their lunch I turned on a book to listen to and cooked dinner, once again basically ignoring them.

The irony is not lost on me that yesterday I was declaring how much I hate cooking and today it was my stress reliever. In the course of 45 minutes I whipped up a potato salad, Dump Mayo because I realized I used it all in the potato salad recipe but wanted some for the BLT I’m about to make for myself; then decided that while the food processor was dirty I might as well mix the Caesar dressing for tomorrow’s dinner. And last I boiled eggs to go with the potato salad for tonight’s meal. After I got the girls down from lunch I made them clean up the living room and get ready for their nap while I cleaned the kitchen. Now the kitchen sparkles, dinner is already to go and the girls are in their beds and it is only 12:30!

Can I also mention probably the number one thing that made my day…Eleanor made her bed. When I requested the girls pick up their toys from the living room in preparation for naps Eleanor went in her room and folded all the blankets, straightened the pillows and essentially made her bed. When I realized what she did I nearly cried. Making the beds is my number one way to feel better about the way my house looks and Eleanor went in and did it all on her own. I’ve never even asked her to do this before. She knew mommy needed it!


On Tuesdays I have been in the habit of writing about our weekend activities since I post our meal plan on Mondays. But today I’m a bit off track and just writing about the past 5 hours since we woke up. Admittedly it has been a hard day already but I’m now ready to turn that around and hopefully pay a little more attention to my sweet girls this afternoon…after they nap of course!

 

Slow Summer Weekend

The biggest highlight of the weekend was the start of the Olympics. We stayed up late Friday night watching the opening ceremonies. Thank goodness USA came through alphabetically in the E’s so I could go to bed. Pretty much every day since, the Olympics has dominated our time. We wake up in the morning and turn it on. We hold our tired eyes open late at night to catch gymnastics and swimming. Gosh I love the Olympics!

After sitting on my butt all morning Saturday watching athletes race around, we finally decided it was time to hit the gym. I left the house with my weakest sports bra on and a regular old t-shirt because I wasn’t entirely convinced I would do anything besides scrolling Instagram while walking on the treadmill. As providence would have it, we arrived at the gym right as a cycle class was beginning. I stared through the window looking in having the debate to go in or not. A girl walked right up behind and said, “Oh just go in!” It was as if she read my mind…or my contemplative face.

You never regret a work out, right? I was happy it was over but I was also happy I did it. I would not have pushed myself to work so hard on my own. Alex was finishing up on the treadmill when the class was over and we gathered our girls from child care and headed out to complete errands.

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The night before I sent Alex out to buy dessert and his car broke down! I guess that should teach me not to need dessert every single night. So Saturday after the gym we jumped his car and drove it to the shop. It was due for several other maintenance issues so we decided it was an omen to take care of those things. We also picked up our groceries (gotta love online shopping!) before we were home to shower for the day. We headed right back out so I could take Alex to work and then back home for a lunch play date with our friends Chrissy and Savannah.

We hodge podged a meal out of all the leftovers in her fridge and mine while the girls ran around and played. Before naps the girls all had a smoothie pop outside on the patio. When we make smoothies I try to save a little extra to pour into molds in the freezer for just an occasion as this. Healthy kid dessert. I actually can’t stand to eat cold popsicles but the girls love them!

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Alex and I had grand ideas to get out of the house Saturday night, but after a long afternoon at work for him, and not enough sleep the night before for anyone, we decided to stay in, watch more Olympics, and have a good dinner.

You know the routine Sundays…breakfast, church, lunch and naps. Since we have so much time between the girls waking up (6:30am) and church (10:30am) I decided to give my new curling wand ($8.50 at Target!!) another go. I feel like I really figured it out and I got so many compliments all day! I felt like a mermaid! Now I just need to figure out how women make their curls last more than one day. After I sleep on them I’m not so in love anymore. Also I work out nearly everyday and they just can’t survive boot camp!

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After church we decided to eat out since we had to take Alex to work again. I had delicious burger with peach salsa and goat cheese with sweet potato fries. We have to reign in our eating out and spending to stay on budget this month! I’m just so tired of cleaning the kitchen.

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Back at home the girls took great naps while I watched cycling and spent the afternoon perusing Rent the Runway (<-affiliate link) for dresses for an upcoming black tie wedding. I’m getting so excited for a long weekend away from the girls with Alex and his family!

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Sunday night concluded with more Olympics and a delicious dinner that Alex cooked. Ever since he offered to cook a meal a few weeks ago I have been passing off cooking duties more and more. I am just incredibly burned out on cooking and need a break desperately! The Whole 30 requires so much prep work to keep four people fed. We were up until midnight watching the women’s gymnastics so that made for a rough start to our Monday. I can’t help myself when it comes to gymnastics!

What is your favorite Olympic sport?

Staycation in Huntersville, NC

My uncle came to town this week for a work training and stayed in Huntersville. We were looking forward to spending quality time with him and getting together for dinners after work but right before he arrived he called with a generous offer. He suggested we stay at the hotel using his points so the girls and I could enjoy swimming in the pool and getting out of the house for a few days. Initially the offer sounded a bit wacky. We only live a few miles up the interstate and we planned to spend plenty of time with him anyway. But then I remembered how much I have been itching to get out of town the past few weeks and I thought it sounded like a bit of random fun for our week.


I quickly discussed with Alex, then packed and arranged for my shifts at boot camp to be covered and we were off for a mini staycation. While Alex and Uncle Joey were at work during the day, the girls and I settled in for plenty of TV watching, vending machine snacking, and swimming in the pool. Because we were in Huntersville we also explored a few new-to-us parks and Birkdale Village.

Monday night we checked in to the hotel and met up with my uncle and we all headed to Smoke Modern BBQ for dinner. We have been talking about checking out this place for a while and jumped at the opportunity. The girls had BBQ chicken plates from the kid’s menu and the three adults shared an order of the ribs and the combo with brisket and sausage. We ordered the corn muffins, bacon wrapped shrimp and burnt ends as appetizers. We had so much food but not many leftovers which meant we all basically waddled out of the restaurant full of all the delicious BBQ. I’m so happy we finally made it there because the food was excellent. And it was half-price wine night!


Tuesday morning the girls and I jumped up and headed downstairs for breakfast. We feasted at the buffet before making our way to Birkdale for coffee and activities. We started at the fountains and I let the girls splash around for about an hour before they changed clothes and we headed to Barnes and Noble for lots of reading.

I may have mentioned it before but I started teaching Eleanor to read and it has been so much fun. She is a great student and I am so amazed and proud to watch her learn letters and sounds and words and sentences. Some of our favorite resources for reading:

The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers

Now I’m Reading! Level 1: Playful Pals (NIR! Leveled Readers)

Back at the hotel we ate lunch that I packed from home and we all took a glorious three hour nap! I originally tried to get on the computer to work but the internet wouldn’t cooperate so I finally gave in and slept. It was the perfect staycation treat!

After we napped the girls and I went for a swim in the hotel’s outdoor pool and once the men were home from work we ventured out for dinner again. We ate at one of our favorite local places: Duckworth’s. I opted for a simple Caprese Salad for my entree since I filled up on all the appetizers. On our way home we stopped at Whole Foods for dairy free ice cream and wine. I also grabbed a Kombucha and Larabar for breakfast.


Tuesday morning we ate breakfast at a leisurely pace, watched PBS Kids and packed our bags. Ruthie had a doctor’s appointment which was conveniently in Huntersville and we stopped at Robbins Park on our way. The girls were brave climbing all over the tree house play structure and I just did my best not to yell out “Careful!” too many times (hashtag helicopter mom).


After a quick stop at a consignment store (where I found a set of the Bob books for $6!) and we were back in Mooresville and our little staycation was over. I honestly thought we would do so much more in the two days we had but barely made it through my list of ideas. If you find yourself in Huntersville with toddlers and time to kill, here are some other great options:

Have you taken your family on a staycation? What fun tourist attractions exist in your area?

disclaimer: affiliate links contained in this post.
Gymboree Sale On Now!

Parenting Three Year Olds

Everyone said three was harder than two.  I believed them fully. But I didn’t know just how hard it would get.

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I feel like someone has stolen my happy little girl and replaced her with this emotional roller coaster. I can’t stay on top of the mood swings and the fits have me wanting to walk right out the door. I tip toe around everything, spell things out and avoid so many things simply because I’m afraid of the meltdown that will ensue. Somedays feel like one big fight from beginning to end. And I wonder if Eleanor’s life is any fun at all. How can being three be so incredibly hard?

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I try to do fun things with her and it winds up hard and bad. I plan fun days and they end up all trouble. I reserve special treats for her and it always ends up in a fit. The more I try the worse it seems. I am consistent and fair and loving and everything is wrong. I am angry and threatening and I count to three and it is still all wrong. And I take a look around us and I can’t remember if Eleanor has smiled all day long. She whines when she wakes up in the morning, she fights anything we give her for breakfast, bed time is a nightmare and eating dinner never happens. I keep her on a schedule to help her adjust her expectations and it blows up. I try to be spontaneous and fun and that never works. I am failing miserably. All. The. Time.

Playing with friends is hard. But not having playdates is apparently a crime. Communication sucks. Negotiation is impossible. Compromise is non-existent. And crying is happening all the time.

Honestly, I think we are just in a down swing right now. We have been traveling so much lately. The girls just had a terrible cold with fevers and coughs. It was a holiday weekend with visitors and too many sweets and not enough sleep. It has been a perfect storm of environmental factors and three-year old tantrums. I miss my little girl. I feel like we haven’t really seen each other in weeks.  And I wonder when we will just be ok again. When will we start having fun again?

Parenting is so damn hard. Every day I count the mistakes I make. And even when I am not blatantly making a mistake I’m wondering if my choices and actions are right or wrong. There isn’t enough black and white in parenting. There are too many gray areas. It all feels so hard right now. And I’m just wondering when it is going to get easier.

Celebrations Part 2

We had exactly three days at home after Ohio before we jumped back in the car for our trip to Missouri. (I know Ru, I feel your pain)

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(babies first selfie)

My brother also graduated college this semester and it was a BIG DEAL. My grandma flew in from Florida, my mom and aunt drove in from South Carolina and my dad and sisters were all there too. And of course the grandchildren/nieces and nephews. It was the first time my entire immediate family has been together in a very long time and we made use of every minute of quality time.

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But backing up a minute…

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We drove into Missouri mid-afternoon on Thursday and following tradition we swung by my sister Diana’s work to say hi. Next we stopped at Andy’s Frozen Custard for a pick-me-up. Finally we made our way up to my mom’s house for dinner with my sister Stephanie, her boys, my mom and my aunt.

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We made a last minute decision to let my oldest nephew spend the night with us so we could catch up. This meant I got to take him to school on Friday, which also meant that we would be driving right by my favorite place, Hoeckele’s Bakery.

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Taylor had field day on Friday so once the girls went down for naps in the afternoon I snuck out to join him. I got to spend two hours with Taylor playing jump rope, tug of war and eating concession stand candy. We had gorgeous weather all weekend in Missouri and it was glorious! After all that sugar at field day I decided to treat Tay to Sonic before taking him back to my dad’s with me.

Saturday was graduation day. We packed the car and headed to Columbia for the big event. William’s graduation wasn’t until 7pm at night so we started the afternoon at his apartment. I made a sweet video/slideshow for him and he opened his gifts.

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We headed out into the bright beautiful day to take family photos. (Are you ready for an overload of photos?)

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Probably the best part of the day were the children all dressed up in their super hero outfits.

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For Christmas this year my brother sent them each their own super hero shirt. We dressed them up with hair bows and hats and made William’s very own Justice League come to life. We ended up theming the whole day with superheroes and Will loved every bit of it.

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After taking photos we made our way to Booche’s. It’s sort of a Billiards bar but they are known for their burgers. It’s the most unassuming burger you will ever meet, and yet it sets the bar pretty high. My dad went to high school with the owner and he managed to reserve a couple tables for us. We had beers and margaritas, burgers and hot dogs, and I brought a special super hero cake from Hoeckele’s for the occasion.

I made a last minute game-time decision to accompany my dad to the actual graduation ceremony. Originally I had planned to go with Alex and the girls and my sisters to the park and back to the hotel. I wasn’t sorry I went. Although it was long, it was great to spend time with my dad, see my brother cross the stage and head out for a drink with them after.

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My mom also went to the graduation with my aunt and grandma and after William walked they headed home early to relieve the other adults of childcare duties. Soon my sisters and Alex met up with us at a pub. We all enjoyed a late night meal and drinks. It was just my dad and my siblings and my husband (and a handful of my brother’s friends) and we had such an amazing time together. We bounced to another bar and ended up shutting the place down. (I know, we are rockstars!)

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It was such an amazing night just hanging with my tribe. Being with them makes me feel like I belong. Even though we are all so different and live very different lives, there are so many similarities, and regardless, I just feel accepted, no matter what.

Sunday morning was all bitter, no sweet. Saying good bye to William was no fun. We had breakfast and packed and jumped back in the car to drive back to my dad’s. We still had a great night grilling with most of the family but I was sad Will couldn’t join us. The girls and Alex went to bed early to get ready for our big drive home Monday. We made it back in the evening and crashed. And just like that another road trip in the books. My kids are troopers. And so is Alex. And me.

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I am so happy we could be there with my brother to celebrate together with all our family. I am so proud of this guy and excited to see what he chooses next.

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Celebrations Part 1

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As I mentioned in my last post we had some serious travel plans in May. Our niece, Emily, graduated college the first weekend in May so we began our journeys with a drive to Ohio. Now, if you recall, the last time we made this trek back in February our car died in the middle of nowhere, Ohio. This time we were happy to be traveling the road in a newer vehicle but I prayed the whole way that our car would survive the trip, and all subsequent trips. We really don’t need another setback. Fortunately we arrived safe and sound, car and all.

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The day we traveled to Ohio also happened to be Alex’s birthday. He just returned from a work trip and we had to hop right in the car to make it for Emily’s pinning ceremony. It was a long day of travel but I was sure to reward Alex with a delicious cake once we arrived. Also, my friend Angie pitched in by making sure her fridge was stocked with beer for Al. His birthday came and went quite uneventfully so I was happy we celebrated the weekend before in Greenville.

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Ok, I’m already getting much to wordy for a travel post, so I’m going to try to stick to details so we can get through this.

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(Eleanor Rose dress found on consignment for a steal!)

Friday was Emily’s pinning ceremony followed by lots of family photos and a celebratory dinner at a local BBQ restaurant. It was casual and fun and we got to catch up with family that we love so much. The weather was also gorgeous, as was the graduate.

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Eleanor for real could not get enough of Emily and stuck by her side the entire weekend!

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By the end of Friday we were all tuckered out and headed to bed as early as possible (although I wound up staying up incredibly late chatting with my friend Angie and catching up!)

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Saturday we were up early and dressed for the commencement ceremony. The girls didn’t tolerate sitting still for long so we wound up in a side room with the graduation on a big screen with lots of other children running around. It was basically ideal. Right before Emily walked across the stage we bolted inside for a quick view and then back into our play room.

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After the ceremony ended we headed back to the BBQ place because it was so good. And the little town in Ohio didn’t offer many options. We took it all to go and ate at the hotel. Ruthie and I napped while Eleanor and Alex helped Emily pack at her house. Later we all had ice cream for dinner and Alex took Eleanor swimming in the hotel pool while I hung out with Karina.  The hotel bed was comfortable and we slept great that night. Sometimes its just nice to stay at a hotel.

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Sunday we were once again up early (thank you toddlers) and after breakfast at the hotel we finished helping Emily pack and load her car and then we were headed home. It was Mother’s Day and also quite uneventful. Again, it was a good thing we celebrated the weekend before.

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The coolest thing that happened to me on Mother’s Day was finding out I won a Lily Jade bag from an Instagram giveaway! That was gift enough for my big day. We settled into the drive home, stopping for Panera and Starbucks along the way.

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It was a quick and full weekend. We loved celebrating Emily’s special day with her! She is such a beautiful young woman with such a bright future ahead. She is a shining example of Jesus to everyone she meets. I just hope one day my girls grow up to be half as amazing as Emily is!

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Bad Nights

Thursday started off fast. I got way behind on my food photos, but had no problem snapping plenty of my cute children. So bare with me while I describe most of my meals but use kid pics liberally today.

Breakfast: unpictured laraball and banana. We were up and out of the house in a flash so I could make it to an 8:30am Insanity class. Well worth the rush, but man it wiped me out. Monday’s classes are always 30 minutes long and this one was 50! I made it through and felt so great after.

In the afternoon Eleanor didn’t nap at all but this one slept for nearly four solid hours!

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I made my lunch as giant as possible.  I was famished from the morning.

chicken salad

In the salad: Trader Joe’s Crunchy Cruciferous Mix with a whole small avocado, chicken and Garlic Expressions dressing.

Following lunch I ate plantain chips and tahini dip. I polished off all that was left.

While Ruthie kept sleeping, Eleanor and I played outside. I made a fun treat for us but she didn’t like it at all.

homemade frosty

I found this homemade frosty recipe on Pinterest and it was chocolately goodness!

I have been eating a lot of healthy treats lately (chocolate mug cake, chocolate frosty) and I do think I need to choose my afternoon  or evening snacks a little wiser. I’ve just been so hungry lately, and it’s nice to have something sweet and satisfying!

The weather was cloudy and breezy but really warm yesterday so when Alex got home from work we took the girls to the park.

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And then quickly threw dinner together when we got home.

taco salad

My friends Melisa and Den sent me home with venison the other night. I browned some with taco seasoning to top my taco salad.  Alex had Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo (which I also love) and Eleanor had a little of both.  That’s how you do paleo and vegetarian in the same house! This salad is topped with goat cheese cheddar also found at Trader Joe’s (our new favorite- can you tell!)

I actually kept dessert light with just one goat cheese truffle and another couple sips of wine. (recycled photo)

Chevre Truffle

I put myself to bed early last night (8:40pm!). I was feeling extra exhausted yesterday and was all proud of myself for actually going to bed early.  And then the STORM hit. What a night we had with both girls.  I know I have been complaining an awful lot about Eleanor and her behavior lately, but it reached a new crazy last night. I smile when the child watch ladies all tell me how wonderful and sweet she is. And I know that it is all true and that she is still my brilliant and sparkly little girl.  But I am seeing more of another side of her lately and it is exhausting. Lately she is really fighting bed time or nap time. We took advice from the book How to Talk so Kids Will Listen… and it really worked last night. When she began to throw her typical fit, I calmly kneeled down and gave a name to her feelings. You are upset that it is bed time. You are frustrated because you can’t stay up and watch a movie. It is disappointing that the fun has to end and it is time for bed. Then I played fantasy. I wish you didn’t have to go to bed. I wish we could stay up and play some more. 

Low and behold this method worked. And she calmly walked back to bed and got in.  But at some point over the next hour she woke up again and started crying. She was so tired (no nap) and could not be reasonably consoled. We tried everything. We went up and down and up and down for hours. Eventually we let her in our room and laid her mattress on the floor. We offered her to sleep in our bed with us. The girl just wouldn’t go to sleep. She just sat up and played!

Finally, at nearly 2am, we had both had enough and stuck her in the pack n’ play in her room so she couldn’t get out. And we let her cry it out.  After nearly 30 LONG minutes she was asleep. Phew!

I mentioned Ruthie was a handful last night too. We were up nearly every two hours nursing. Typically she will sleep one long stretch between 7pm and 1am. But even during those hours she was up every two hours. It would seem that once I got Eleanor somewhat settled, it was time to nurse Ruthie again. And once she was done nursing, Eleanor was up crying again. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

But you know what, I’m not crazy, super tired this morning. I can see straight (that’s a plus) and maybe I have just an ounce of patience left for today. I am relying on the words from my sister in law, Karina, today. God will give me the amount of sleep that I need for the next day. Today I’m relying on God. And playgroup. And coffee. And smiles.

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