Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ways I'm Rockin' Motherhood

So Hannah over at Gokie Notes tagged me to post about the ways I'm rockin' motherhood lately. So... I couldn't resist even though I've blogged like 2x this whole year!

Going with the Flow
I'm a surprisingly "chill" parent, which is surprising because I am not that way in most other areas of my life. When Luke dumps out 3 consecutive boxes of toys on the floor, he gets a look and then we move on and play. When Norah knocks her food off her high chair tray, I just clean it up when I get a chance to. But nothing like that makes my blood pressure rise or my anxiety kick in.

All of these veggies ended up on the floor... 

He decided to use some lip stick as war paint... 

Singing Songs
I love that Luke and Norah both seem to love music and dancing. Every night before bed Luke and I "snuggle" which consists of me rocking him as we say a prayer and he requests songs. Sometimes he sings songs with me like "Twinkle Twinkle" or "Jesus Loves Me", but other times he just says some of his favorite items and waits for me to make up a song on the spot, like "Dump truck Song" or "Daddy Song." Music is important to Scott and me, so I like encouraging it in their lives too.

Cheap Clothing
Totally stealing this from Hannah, but I also love finding great deals on kid clothes. I always get hand-me-downs from nieces and nephews, plus my other sister is a pro at finding the best deals on Buy-Sell-Trade sites. And I can score a mean deal online at Kohls by stacking coupon after coupon and getting free shipping (usually I spend less than $3 an item!).

He dumped out ALL the toys, but did settle on a book =)

As a teacher I realize how important fostering a love for reading is at a young age. I am always encouraging Luke to read books and it's pretty easy for him to push back bedtime by asking to read another.... because I will read 6 books in a row! Sometimes I catch him reading on his own and it melts my little heart. Norah has just started showing any interest in them, so I keep busting out the Touch and Feel ones! Luke often requests to visit the library and he helps me search for truck books he wants.

I am currently handling errands with both of them like a champ. I've figured out what combination of Ergo, double stroller, single stroller, type of cart needed, etc. at each place I frequent. I actually like bringing them along most of the time. When they aren't with me I have to stop myself from narrating the whole event out loud..... I'm not alone in that right?

Somehow, in the last 1-2 months, I've actually found a manageable balance between my various responsibilities. Yes I've been busy with work, grading papers, writing papers for my grad class, cleaning, laundering, and all of that normal house stuff, but I've also felt the "margins" of my life expand too. Scott and I let each other sneak downstairs for a 30 minute work out video most nights after dinner. We've had time to watch a show every night or to read a chapter in a book. I'm an introvert so I don't need a lot of time with friends, but I've been able to get some of that in too.

I often feel guilty if I want to meet a friend for happy hour or do something on the weekends since I don't see my kids that much during the week as it is. But, I've been trying to make my time with them more purposeful and being present instead of browsing social media or cleaning. I'm slowly realizing that not only is having some time for myself good, but letting Scott be with them by himself is good too.

Friday, March 24, 2017

What I've Been Reading...

Well hey! I'm on spring break so thought I'd update y'all on what I've been reading (and audio book listenting to) so far in 2017!

Young Adult Literature
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
      -- Quick dystopian tale of a boy on New World-- a place where everyone's thoughts are heard in the "noise." All of the women were killed in a war with the Spackle (native creatures to that planet). But then the main character meets a girl who has landed from Old World... and typical everything is not as it seems plot takes over. Eventually they get chased and hunted by the crazy mayor of his town as they try to uncover the truth about New World. I devoured this: fast-paced, mystery unfolded at a perfect rate, action, but NOTHING positive happened and it was only the first of a trilogy: B

The Pact by Jodi Picoult
     -- Some of my students read this for a choice novel, so I read it too. (Too much sex. I couldn't believe it was "approved" for freshmen.) Told through flashbacks, we try to figure out the truth: did Emily kill herself? Did her boyfriend, Michael, kill her in a suicide pact? The story featured the teen relationship and their parents' relationships; it was fascinating, complex, and unraveled at just the right speed: A-

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
      -- Narrated by Death, he follows an orphaned girl named Liesel as she grows up in Nazi Germany. I appreciate that this book focuses on German citizens who weren't fighting in the war instead of the normal Holocaust books. I think it presents a different layer and perspective. Lyrically and beautifully written, by I reread this since some of my students read it as a choice novel. I honestly didn't like it as much this time around, which may because I listened to it? I found myself zoning out more often than not: B-.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
      -- Told from three friends' perspectives and set in the Bible belt of the South, this book examines the ideas of friendship, poverty, and familial expectations. It was hard to read at times because some of the parents were abusive either emotionally or physically, but a powerful story. A-

The Gender Game by Bella Forrest
      -- Dystopian America has split in two: Patrus, a country run by men where women have no rights and Matrus, a country run by women where men have no rights. The main character is set to be executed for killing two women in self-defense when the government offers her an olive branch: move to Patrus to complete a super secret, and dangerous, spy mission. Of course she falls for a man while trying to navigate the new world, and yet again (like every dystopian novel), realizes things aren't exactly what they seem. Read it in three days though, so I was hooked! Unfortunate it's a trilogy... sometimes I just want the FULL story in ONE book. Is that so much to ask?? B+

Something In Between by Melissa de la Cruz
      -- A high school senior wins a National Scholarship (full ride to any Ivy League school), but she can't accept it because ... she's in the USA illegally from the Philippines (her parents' work visas expired, but they stayed anyway and didn't tell her). Interesting perspective about illegal immigrants that isn't the typical image portrayed. I liked that part of the story, but then she falls in love with this boy and acted like she was 12 instead of 18, so that annoyed me. C+

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling -ish
     -- Hated this. I didn't think any characters were true to their characters from the books. D

Salt to the Sea by Ruth Sepetys
    -- AMAZING WWII novel. Normally I hate historical fiction, but this was great. Just go read it. A+

The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse by Art Bennett
   -- If you haven't read this, GO DO IT! I laughed out loud so many times at how accurate the descriptions were of Scott and me. A

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
    -- They're so sweet =) I liked learning their back story! I can't wait for the next season of Fixer Upper to hit Netflix, and we're visiting the silos in July! A-

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
     -- She has such an interesting take on religion, truly a mix of everything! (And so much Catholic thought and quotes from saints and stuff, but she is actually a member of a church her family started 40 years ago...) Nice, quick reminder about how being truly present in our lives is more important than hustling to get things done. B

The Walls are Talking by Abby Johnson
     -- Multiple abortion workers' stories about their time working in abortion facilities. Eye-opening and heart breaking. A.

Currently Reading:
Fearless by Sonia Corbitt (Bible study (ish) book about fear and spiritual warfare)
Holding the Universe by Jennifer Niven

I'm always listening to an audio book in the car, plus reading a non-fiction and fiction book at home, which allows me to get through quite a few books!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Current Favs

1. Dole Sesame Asian Salad Mix. I buy the family sized bag ($6.50 at HyVee) and split it into three lunches. I LOVE the mix of flavors, dressing, and crunchy things; the variety makes this fun to eat instead of boring like a normal salad... I've eaten this as part of my lunch every day for the last two weeks. The Chipotle and Cheddar version is a close second fav.

2. Dunkin' Donuts. I'm seriously obsessed. Last week there was a COMPLETELY FREE item every day of the week through their Perks App. Plus a free coffee after the Huskers get 350 yards of offense.. and basically free stuff all the time. (I've received a dozen FREE donuts THREE times now too. Not through the app or anything, but I order a drink and then they have leftover donuts to give away... SCORE.) I go way too much.

3. All American Boys.I read this book for my Young Adult Literature grad class... and I am a bit obsessed. Written in alternating perspectives, Rashad and Quinn, All American Boys tells the story of police brutality and racial inequality through the eyes of the black victim and a white observer. I loved how the authors made this story complex; the characters' voices were real and honest, and it leaves you pondering many things during this time of Black Lives Matter protests and National Anthem kneeling. Check it out!

4. Peach Pear La Croix
I'm glad I reconsidered my previous dislike of La Croix and jumped back on this bandwagon. LOVE it. Favorite flavors: Cherry Limeade, Grapefruit, Mango and Peach Pear. (Didn't love Coconut or Cran-Raspberry.) ALDI carries their brand of this in the liter sized bottles for only 59 cents each! And it comes in like 4 flavors.

5. Where do Diggers Sleep at Night?I checked this out from the library since Luke is in a truck-car-construction phase, and it was a hit! He points to every vehicle and says "Digger sleepin." "Ex-ca-va-turrr sleepin." "Boat sleepin." His little voice is so cute... I can't get enough.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Random 7 QTs

1. I miss blogging, but I normally blogged during lunch or part of my plan time at work, and this year I have a new prep.. so I have NO extra time whatsoever. At home, I'm not normally by my computer much and the Blogger app is yucky. However, I'm shooting out a quick hello into the universe today!

2. Norah is 4.5 months old. She got croup early last week, a quick dose of steroids, and acted her normal happy self. BUT HER SLEEP has been wrecked. I'm blaming it on the croup.. or maybe the 4 month sleep regression.. or her new ability to roll over.. I don't know. But she had been getting up ONCE a night for over a month.. and now we're back to like every 2-3 hours.

This has also led to her sleeping in our room.. because if she wakes up before 2am, I'm still in a major sleep haze and I honestly fall asleep while nursing her on the footstool in her room. Which sort of scares me, so I just bring her back into our room. Agghg.

3. Luke is freaking hilarious. He talks ALL the time and every day says a new word I didn't even know he knew. Yesterday he pointed at a motorcycle, proudly declaring, "Mo-ter-cy ... cle." He'll be two in LESS THAN A MONTH (Wha???) and is obsessed with all things truck: dump, mail, trash, moving, fire, monster, etc. And cars. And boats. And planes.

4. We joined a different parish (St. Vincent de Paul), and I'm sort of loving it already. I filled out an "interest" survey last week, and I've already had THREE people contact me about various ways I wanted to get involved. I'm pumped because I'm signed up to sing at one mass in October and I would've never gotten around to setting that up by myself for months. Saturday we're going to a "Pumpkin-Painting Pajama Party" sponsored by the Parents of Young Children group... we're hoping to meet some potential couple friends. Ha.

5. Our AC broke, Scott had to get two new tires, and my UNO grad class bill was due... all in the same week. WHY MUST ADULTING BE SO SPENDY? Seriously though.. a whole month's paycheck later...

6. I cannot get motivated to get back on the clean eating and exercising band wagon. I did SO WELL for two months.. and now I've been stuck for the last two. I hate how lazy I am some times!

7. I realize Christmas is forever away... but I LOVE buying presents for people. It's definitely one of my love languages. I've already been curating some Pinterest board wish lists for everyone in my family =) Thanks to Kohls' crazy awesome sales, Luke will be getting a 3 truck shirts and a set of construction equipment pajamas for his birthday.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Oh, just a little update!

Little miss Norah is already 3 months (and some change) old. She's almost growing out of her 6 mo clothes and is on the fast track to size 3 diapers. Luckily for me, she's recently began getting up only ONCE per night.. anytime between 2:30-5. I haven't quite figured out what helps her sleep until 5, but I can totally handle a once per night feeding!

But... I'm back to work as of last week which means: pumping. GROSS. I hate pumping. Mainly because 1) I miss out on any socialization time with my co-workers since I can't eat lunch with them and I lose my plan times to pumping too (which means it's harder to get stuff done!) 2) Seriously less clothing options 3) So much stuff to transport and clean.

BUT. On the positive side: 1) I figured out how to pump while driving on my morning commute = time saver! 2) I'm currently making just enough so I haven't had to supplement yet.... we'll see how long that can last.

Luke and Norah are at a new daycare: an in-home! The lady watches a little 18 month old boy 2 days a week and a little girl (one of my friend's daughter, actually) the other 3 days. Plus she has a boy 1 month older than Luke and a 4 year old. So really, her kids and another 3. So far, it's great! I love that they're with the same people every day, Luke gets to sleep in his own room for naps, and the price! The only downside so far is that it's 10 minutes PAST our house in the opposite direction from work. On a -perfect- traffic day, it takes me 39 minutes to get there from work *crying face*.

Still trying to whittle away the baby weight... and man, it's a slow process! I've lost half of what I'd like to lose so far. (and I started really paying attention to food/exercise at the end of May.) My realistic goal is to be at my goal weight by December. Adjusting to being back in school has been hard though... I don't have nearly as much time to plan, meal prep, cook, shop, etc. as I did in the summer... nor enough energy after working all day! So, I'm still trying to figure out how to make it all work in this new schedule. Tips?

Also... is anyone good at errands? Maybe I need to let things slide, but there's usually at least 3 stores I need to go to each week! I go to ALDI for 90% of our groceries, but I haven't had good luck with meat and a few other items there, so I also go to HyVee. But then I also usually need something from Target (like lightbulbs or diapers) but I don't like buying all my groceries at HyVee or Target because I'm cheap and ALDI is like 50% cheaper. So do I sacrifice time? or money? OH THE DECISIONS A MOM MUST MAKE!

Last note. I bought a "bottom round roast" since it was on sale. EASIEST and tastiest crockpot dish ever. Rubbed garlic, salt, pepper, thyme on the roast. Put it in the crockpot over cut up onions. Added red potatoes, a bag of baby carrots, packet of onion soup mix, and 16oz beef broth. Delish.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

What I Read This Summer

The Walls Around Us: The unreliable narrator(s) threw me for a few loops! I knew something was off in how I was perceiving the story but I could not figure it out on my own until all the pieces came together at the end. This book switches between two characters: Amber, who is a prisoner in an all-girls youth detention center, and Lena, who is a star ballerina with a sketchy past. We know that Lena's best friend was convicted of murder before being sent to the youth detention center and she died a month after arriving... but the story is told mostly three years past when the girl died. It's rather complicated. The story was intriguing, though the "paranormal" aspect that appeared toward the end wasn't explained enough for me. Overall = B

Everything I Never Told You: Recommended by many internet lists, I finally got around to reading this novel. And it only took me 3 days. Though marketed as a mystery, that part of the plot unraveled so slowly at times I forgot that the characters were trying to figure out why their 16-year-old sister/daughter was found dead at the bottom of a lake. I loved this book for its rich characters, how their complex pasts were shared in ways that illuminated their present life choices, and their complicated (but so real) family dynamics play out amidst tragedy. Ng also weaves intense themes around beloning, gender, and race that were nuanced and realistic. Overall = A

My Sisters the Saints
I'll admit I am still only on chapter three, and I technically started reading this in April. Campbell shares parts of her life and how she connected with various saints at those times. Overall: It's an interesting read with conversational tone. I'd recommend it... I just read non-fiction really slowly. 

The Good Girl: Lately, I'm all about short chapters, and this book delivered. Each chapter not only switches between characters, but they also back and forth in time which allows for the mystery to unfold in a unique way. Lots of twistiness, loved the ending. Overall: A-

Eight Hundred Grapes: Your basic chick-lit novel. It was a quick read with interesting characters, though a predictable plot and annoying ending. I would recommend it if you're looking for an easy beach read. Overall: B-

The Luckiest Girl Alive: The unreliable narrator left me second guessing everything, constantly searching for what the big "twist" would be. I thought this book was entertaining and kept me reading, though the big secret event was revealed to near the middle of the book... the last 100 pages seemed almost unnecessary or too long. Overall: B

Hatchet: I'm teaching a new prep this year: 9th grade Basic English. It's a group of 7 boys who are really behind; they struggle to write a complete sentence and their reading level is around 2nd -3rd grade. Thankfully, I have a bit more freedom with the curriculum, so I tried to find some high interest books that were at a lower reading level. Hatchet fit that niche! A 12-year-old boy, Brian, is in a small plane, flying with just the pilot over Canada to go visit his dad when the pilot has a heart attack. Brian ends up surviving the plane crash and Hatchet tells his 50+ day survival story. (Did I really like it? No... but I think my students will.)

Among the Hidden: 
Another book I read as a possibility for my basic class. Set in a future dystopian America, families are only allowed two children, but Luke is a "third." At the age of 12, he's only been out of his house for a few minutes at a time and once a new development is built close to their home, he isn't allowed to leave the attic..... until he sees a girl peeking out the window in a house that already has two children. Luke eventually sneaks out to meet her and then things get crazy. Overall: Quick paced read that I really enjoyed! I think my students will like it too since dystopian books are all the rage. 

I also started all of these books and quit before page 50... 
I'll Give You the Sun
One in a Million Boy
Between Shades of Gray
The Lightning Thief

Friday, July 8, 2016

7 QTs

1. Iced coffee with a splash of almond milk. Preferably from Dunkin Donuts. I also bought the Toddy Cold Brew system; it's super easy (& cheap!). I'm having fun experimenting with the best coffee concentrate to water/milk ratio. 

(He's had a haircut since these pics)
2. Luke's voice. He is talking all the time now though at least half is undiscernable.  But it's so cute! And he acts as if what he's saying is totally clear. He's also starting putting a few words together like : Daddy work. Where go? Mama coffee. Also, he's totally mastered the goodnight kiss + luh you. Adorable. Cue heart melt. 

3. My parents are moving from Council Bluffs to a neighborhood in NW Omaha only 5 minutes from me. I'm pumped! The house is awesome and on a golf course and it's going to be great.

4. Oh yeah. Scott got a new job too! It happened right as Norah was coming so there were some potential paternity leave timing and insurance issues, but his new job (Nebraska Med) was awesome about it!!! He loves it so far.

A few of her newborn pictures :)
5. Norah gets baptized on Sunday! (Hopefully the gown Luke wore fits... because due to lots of family scheduling conflicts she's getting baptized over a month after he did. If it's too small... a white GAP dress will come to the rescue.)

6. I'm headed to a childhood friend's wedding tonight in Okiboji. I'm excited to see some elementary friends I haven't seen in forever!!! (And I'm only taking Norah, so it'll almost feel like a mini vacation since I won't be wrangling Luke the whole time.)

Latest ALDI find. They're SO GOOD. And good for you (as far as desserts are concerned :) )
7. A brand new ALDI opened up just a mile away from my house. I love that I don't have to trek 15 minutes away to get to one anymore! (Plus the aisles are bigger, it's super clean, and I haven't found any mold on any produce yet.) And.. their carts? HUGE! I can take both kids and even leave Norah in her carseat in the cart and STILL fit a normal weeks worth of groceries around her =) 

More quick takes over on Kelly's page.