Good Thing, Bad Thing

Hello and welcome.  The concept of "Good thing, bad thing" isn't new to me.  I've been playing this "game" with my girlfriends since I went to college.  We'd all get together over breaks and have to play catch-up.  It was the perfect opportunity to sum up what's been going on, highs and lows, and stay connected.  It stuck, not always to everyone's enjoyment, but it sparked conversation and I know that it kept us all together, even when we were so far apart.

So I bring you:  Good Thing, Bad Thing.  The idea is that you provide an good and bad thing, in the "relative week."  And you bad thing can't be that you have no good thing.  It's just not possible.

I'm really excited to see what you all have to share!
To link along, I only ask that you follow my blog and link back in some way.

The game can be played in a few ways ways - a list of contrasting items....

Good thing:  Liv finished her first year at preschool.
Bad thing:  We still don't know if she'll be in Kindergarten in the fall (her birthday is 17 days too late.) Come Monday, we'll hopefully have a better sense if I need to buy a new pencil box for September.

Good thing:  We had an amazing time with my sister's family.
Bad thing:  I think I drank 6 bottles of wine and maybe slept for a total of 14 hours in 4 nights.  Maybe.

Good thing:  I'm trying really, really hard to get into an exercise routine again.
Bad thing:  I hate running.

Good thing:  Avery is super interested in potty training.
Bad thing:  She is a strong-willed toddler with waining interests.

Good thing:  I read every night before bed.
Bad thing:  I'm usually "reading" Pinterest posts and getting hungry.

Bad thing:  I've worked more this week than I have in a long time, including 12-hours on Wednesday.
Good thing:  I'm hourly.  Nuff said.

Good thing:  This has been really fun to write.
Bad thing:  This party may fail, and it's just me talking about myself.
Good thing:  I write a blog and therefore don't care if it's all about me!

....or another way to play is in story-form...

My bad thing:  The weather here has been absolutely dreary.  The rain, clouds and chill in the air hardly speaks to the Minnesota summer that we've all been craving.  And the kids feel the depression too.  They've gotten mere tastes of running around until they're wet with sweat and dirt, only to look sadly through windows at rain clouds.  This sucks.  I hate this.  They run wild, and I get crabby, and they get crabby and it's the perfect storm for tantrums and raised voices.  I actually wanted to call-in sick to work, but realized staying home would mean a full-day inside with them, and realized we'd all be happier if I wasn't home.

My good thing:  I added more members to my "Headband of the Month" Club.  And this isn't a sales pitch, it's a pat on my own back (though if you're interested in the six or twelve month option).  Making those silly headbands was a great creative outlet for me and it ebbs and flows, and this week, it's been a good week.  I do still burn my fingers on hot glue, but I love knowing that I'm sending out little packages that girls are going to wear and have everyone go "Awwww...."  It's just fun.

....or in your own style.  The point is to share your week, the highs and lows and not feel guilty for bragging or complaining!

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So What Wednesday

The holiday weekend has thrown me off to no end.  I thought yesterday was Monday, I almost forgot about Wednesday.  These are not bad things.  I am one day closer to the weekend than I think I am.  I this is always a good thing.

So What Wednesday

  • This cold weather is really starting to get to me.  I know last year's 90s were a fluke, but 50s and rainy for days on end... grates on a person!
  • I want there to be a "swear jar" for every time I have to say "GIRLS!"  You know the voice I'm using here.
  • I think my brother-in-law is one of the best guys around.  He treats my sister like a queen, loves my husband like a brother and even makes dinner.  
  • We've started a tradition of watching Hannibal with my mom.  Super f-ed show.  Need to watch it in daylight.
  • Is it just me of does the Food Network only show Chopped and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives?
  • I think it's really cute that Liv sensors herself when we're singing Thrift Shop.... this is... totally.... awesome!
  • We use the paci as a crutch for Avery far more than we should.  The Paci Fairy is gonna have to visit, and she's gonna be sad, and I'm gonna be sad, and it's just not going to go well.
  • I am dreading school being out and kids being loud in the neighborhood at night.  Didn't bother me before I had kids with an 8 PM bedtime.
  • I finally got Nate to agree to let me sell baby things.  Me:  this means we're good with two.  Him:  this means the 3rd will get new things. Ugh!

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Pony Bead Suncatchers

This was a project that Liv and I did one chilly, spring afternoon because we had to crank the oven to high.  The affect is perfect for sunny summer days, which is ironic because of the head required to melt these little beauties.

The process is easy, but a little smelly, so be sure to crack a window; you're melting plastic after all.  There are a few other posts out there on the process, but I found a few tips to be extra helpful in our project.

We invested $3 in a bag of pony beads from the Dollar Tree, along with 2 muffin tins.  I wanted to use something cheap, so if they were destroyed, I wasn't devastated.  Oh and a box of 100 tiny washers for about $1.90.  Huge investment here.

Tip 1:  While laying all the beads to the openings are all facing the same way looks cute and all for a picture like this, it makes ABSOLUTELY no difference in the melting process.  It's incredibly frustrating to flip them all the right way.  Just dump in an even layer that's fairly flush to the sides of your mold.

Tip 2:  Use washers so that you can string up your catchers.  Some have suggested drilling a hole, but they're fairly brittle and unless you use tape and a lot of skill, I'm thinking they'll shatter before you'll get your opening.

Tip 3:  Have beads surrounding all sides of your washer, but not covering the hole.  Duh.  The one I did pictured on the bottom left is perfect (final result is the last image in the post)

Tip 4:  Crank your oven all the way.  Our first round, I tried 400 degrees for 20 minutes and it just seemed to take forever.  I turned it all the way up (not to broil, though) and they melted in less than 10.  Keep an eye on them, checking every few minutes - you don't want to burn the plastic, just melt it!

When they look like this, you're almost done.  Let them cool.  Completely.

Give your tin a little ice-cube-tray-twist-and-crack and they'll pop right out.  No need to grease the pan or anything.

You'll end up with this cute little disks of color and light!

Have fun!!

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Sponsor Spotlight: High Cotton Style

I would love to introduce you all to Fletcher from High Cotton Style.  Perhaps you've noticed her darling ad space on the left of your screen.  Or maybe she's familiar to you because if was her Instagram photos of her Fairy Garden that inspired mine!  The girl's creative, no doubt about that!

*** Blog *** Facebook ***  Pinterest *** Instagram *** 

Fletcher started High Cotton Style as a way to keep all of my design ideas together! After a while, I decided that I LOVED design work- that's how I got started in Interior Design!

She's a clever mama, with an eye for smart, sophisticated style!  Her design services reach nationwide, and fit all budgets and styles!  I know I'd love a professional eye to take a look at some of the rooms in my house (after they've been thoroughly dusted and all clutter has been shoved into an unsuspecting closet!) 

More fun facts about Fletcher
Favorite color?  Blue
Favorite subject in high school?  Art
If you could only eat at one restaurant for the rest of your life?  Thai House Two; Florence, SC
Pajama pants or nightgowns?  Nightgowns
Coke of Pepsi?  Diet Coke (I love her)
Team Angelina or Jen?  Jen
Best guilty pleasures?  Wine and pedicures (Really love her)
Guacamole or salsa?  Guacamole
Teen Beat Heartthrob?  Bobby Flay (no joke)

Loving this girl??  Me too!  Stop over and say hello!

And she's even offering up a giveaway, but that's coming soon!  Stay tuned!!

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So What Wednesday

The Wednesday before a long, holiday weekend, I just love it!  Our weekend starts Thursday when Nate gets home from work, so today's like my Friday (even though Tuesdays are really my Friday, and Mondays are my Thursday, but whatever!)

Life After I Dew

  • I am floored by the support that my "hard truths" got last week on being a SAHM.  Missed it?  Catch up on the convo {here}.
  • The worst sound during nap time is the dryer buzzer.  EEEEEEE - get up, you should be doing real work.  Shut up, dryer.
  • I put on gym clothes on Thursday.  Didn't exactly make it TO the gym, but I feel it was a good effort.
  • I teared up watching the series finale of The Office.  I can't believe it's been on for so long, and now it's done.  Kudos to a show for making me feel so connected to fictional characters and people I'll never meet in real life.
  • I think I would have been OK if this season was the last for Grey's Anatomy.  More break-ups, someone might die, but they are in love... we get it... there's drama. (But of course, I'll watch Season 10!)
  • Liv's last day of preschool is tomorrow.  I don't think I'm ready for this year to be over - it means she's getting older, and I know I'm not ready for that!
  • We also leave to visit my sister for the weekend tomorrow!!!!  I should start packing...

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Chalk Dots

Memorial Weekend is coming up fast and furious!  Summer is here and the kids are running outside more than ever.

The level of fun we've had outside can be determined by one of the following nighttime bath routines:
* foot bath
* quick shower, skip the hair
* deep soak in a bubble bath

Chalk is a big hit at this house, and hopscotch is usually the go-to game.  This "dot" idea is a twist on a classic, but can be used to let their little imaginations run wild.

It's very simple, and no step-by-step is really needed.

Take chalk.
Draw different colored circles on the driveway (or the same color, or different shapes).
Let them go nuts.

Avery instantly went to color in everything - she's working on that whole "staying in the lines" thing.

Liv, a true lover of hopscotch, decided this was a cool new way to play....

Baby sister quickly abandoned her game and followed suit.

I have big plans for this, because it was a such a hit:

  • Drawing faces
  • Matching colors
  • Connecting like colors/shapes
  • Counting, adding
  • Water balloon targets - hello!
Like I said, the skies the limit on this idea.  Take it and make it your own!  Have fun, get dirty!  It all washed down the drain anyway!

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Six Truths On Being a SAHM

It’s been about 10 months since I left my job and decided to stay home with the girls.  It was always the plan that I’d work part-time to balance my need to function outside of yoga pants, and the lost corporate salary.

By sharing these truths, I hope to not stand alone for my own sanity, but for the sanity and hope for other moms out there who are either considering or reaffirming the choice for their own family.

Truth 1:  Parenting roles get redefined.
Typically, with a two-income household, you have a secondary caregiver during the day, giving you and the hubs equal time and night and on the weekends.  You still stand on equal ground with your kids and share the same experiences with them.  Once you’re home, that shifts.  As the SAHM, you take on a huge role when it comes to keeping the routine and discipline.  I have flashbacks to when Liv was a baby and my skin would crawl when Nate would do something (like feed, dress or change her) differently than me.  There’s a certain way “we” do things around here, you’re clearly on the outside of that, sir.  It’s terribly unfair, and I try really hard not to do it (my success rate is yet to be determined.)

Truth 2:  Marriage roles get defined too.
In the same breath as caring for the kids, household duties are also divided.  Sure, I’m home and have more time to vacuum and do laundry, but I did not give up my paying job to be a nanny and a maid.  I wanted to be a teacher, nurturer, and even, pursue some of my own passions (hello, blog and Etsy.)  It may be frustrating for Nate to come home and find things “undone” but anyone who has cared for a child for a 8-10 hour period during daylight can attest, there’s not exactly “down time.”  And depending on the true nature of your “staying home” the breadwinner role shifts, opening up the availability for potential overprotection of “my money/your money.”  This means you need to talk, constantly.  Be honest, constantly.  And be open for change, constantly.

Truth 3:  The lack of money sucks. 
We were not wealthy to begin with, so losing my salary was a definite hit to our reality.  Coupons and free-activities become a normal way of life.  And that’s OK, but it is a hit to the ego not “keep up with the Jones.”  It’s not important to care about what other people have or what they’re doing, but it’s also hard to ignore it.  My kids are fed.  We have a home and cable.  Life is not destitute.  But not going on vacations, or buying every little thing – those things are important, but you miss them when they’re gone.  The same rules about talking and changing things to find balance needs to be a open topic on the table.

Truth 4:  Staying home is lonely.
With that whole “no extra money” thing, it’s a lot of afternoons home, coloring and watching Disney and Pixar movies.  Ladies-who-lunch just isn’t a reality.  There are a million mom groups out there, but some of those women are downright bitchy.  Mom-groups have an air about them, where they are either super welcoming or super clicky.  I did not leave high school and gain career success, only to find myself back in the world of drama again.  The truth is, I miss my work family.  I miss interacting with the same people 5 days a week.  I miss some friends that have drifted in the past year.  There are certainly more things that I don’t miss that solidify my decision to stay home, but the fact remains that it’s not exactly a social endeavor.  Try really hard to find a friend, even if it’s only one.  There is another mom out there who is like you, who is lonely like you, who needs a friend, just like you.

Truth 5:  Kids are brats, especially when you love them.
A teacher only accepts the peanuts they are paid yearly because they really, really love their job.  And they’re good at it – it’s why we trust our children with them.  Not everyone is cut out to be with kids full-time all the time, even parents.  They are wild and demanding and challenging.  They are also loving and smart and funny.  The highs and lows are emotionally exhausting.  Think to those first few weeks with your little bundle.  So much love, so much joy.  So many tears, sleepless nights, worries and fears that you were mucking everything up.  I’m afraid those highs and lows return once you decide to stay home.  Many days will feel like an ultimate failure and the moment dad walks in the door, you tap out to go cry in the bathroom (if you can make it that long.)  The good news I have is you were able to survive it once; odds are in your favor you can pull through again.

Truth 6:  You don’t get a crown for staying home.
There are no rewards for mom’s that are home with their kids.  You don’t get a salary or benefits, but neither do moms who work outside the home either.  What I mean to say is staying home is awesome, but it doesn’t make you super special.  A mom is a mom.  Some want to work.  Some have to work.  Every single mother HAS to be a mom.  Don’t forget that being a mom, in any form, is a blessing and a hardship.  It is not for the faint of heart and it will be the best and hardest job you ever have.  You will learn to love and sacrifice and laugh and cry like you’ve never imagined possible.  The guilt of success or failure escapes none of us, and somehow, our kids miraculous end up unscathed. 


So What Wednesday

So What Wednesday is here!  Happy half-way-to-the-weekend!!

So What Wednesday

  • I made it through a field trip to the zoo with 4 and 5-year olds.  Nothing wrong with that, just think it deserves a little fanfare.
  • Super proud to be witness Minnesota history as we became the 12th state in the union to recognize same-sex marriage.  Read more on my thoughts {here}
  • I love that Avery is talking more, but she's learning to talk back from her sister.  *thumbs down*
  • I had to shove TP into my heels on Saturday to keep my shoes from falling off!  They're like a 1/2 size too big, but I just love them!
  • Too often, I've been lying to the kids that something is broken because I don't want to play with the (noisy, obnoxious, LOUD) toy.
  • I had to watch Monster's Inc. while I was working in my office because Hulu wasn't streaming fast enough to my iPad.  (I'm using the word "had" very loosely.)
  • I dislike baseball so much.  I try to get into the American, summer sport, but when watching a game and they show players in the dugout yawning and not paying attention - I know I'm not the only person who's bored to death!
  • We are seriously regretting the bunk bed for Avery.  Freedom to roam + a 2-year old's stubborn personality = a lot of shouting at bedtime.
  • In my brainstorming for future posts, I've come across:  why being a SAHM is harder than a I thought, how I'm trying to be a sexier wife, reasons I need to be a better friend.
How's your week going??

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A Day in History

update post at end... scroll to bottom to

I don’t know what side of the line you stand on when it comes to gay marriage.  I stand on side that supports love, acceptance and respect.
We are a liberal family. 
We have gay friends. 
We try very hard to respect those who are different from us, simply because the golden rule of: treat others the way you would like to be treated, never gets old.  You’re never too old to be kind to a stranger or a friend.

Last week, the Minnesota House of Representatives voted and passed a bill that would make Minnesota the 12th state in the country to allow gay marriage – civil marriage.  That tiny “civil” word still allows for religious communities to decide if they would like to perform such ceremonies.  Guess what – everyone should have to go through couples counseling before they walk that aisle, regardless of their genitals, but I digress.  Today, the Senate is set to vote.  If it passes there, the bill will hit our governor’s desk and he has promised to sign the bill into law.  It’s all really exciting.  I think this must have been what it was like for my parents to watch Civil Rights.  The word of the people is heard – just like our government was designed to do.

I respect that not everyone agrees with gay marriage.
I respect your right to have your own beliefs.
Religion is a choice. 
Government is not; it is owned by everyone who is a citizen and needs to be run without a religious veil.

I will not tolerate in any way is certain rules for some and not others based on something like sexuality.
It is absolutely absurd to think that because gay marriage is around, that traditional marriage will be threatened. 
Your marriage is yours.  Worry about it within the folds of you and your partner.

It’s equally absurd to think that recognizing gay marriage will in fact, make you gay, or your kids gay, or your dog gay.
I think it’s safe to say that gays are not out to “recruit” members.  Sadly, there are some straight people out there who don’t recognize that boundary – another double standard that is ridiculous.  Don’t change me – but I’m sure going to try to beat it out of you!

There is a chance that today, when the Senate votes, the “nos” will have it, and the bill will stop.  Government is the voice of the people, and I would have to respect that the voices were heard; even if it wasn’t the result I was hoping for.  I don’t believe that will happen.  I believe that good things will happen today, and am excited to have my kids only know that EVERYONE is equal, not just a certain percentage of the population.

What are your thoughts?  I'd love to have a healthy discussion - but let's all follow the golden rule of respect m'kay?

updated 8 PM Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tonight, at 5 PM, our governor signed the bill making same-sex marriage legal.  Unions can begin on August 1st.  Super awesome!

I did want to share the other side of the coin, as voiced by a good friend of mine, whom I respect very much.  Her religious beliefs align with the thought that homosexuality is a sin.  I can respect her thoughts, and can openly admit to it once she explained her thoughts and feelings to me in this way:

All men and women are sinners.  What their sins are may very, but the simple fact remains that sin exists.  While she feels that homosexuality is a sin, she cannot compare that sin as being "worse" than her own.  The judgement is not hers to pass - she can only be concerned with her own relationship with God.

I am a firm believer in respect and choice.
If you choose to believe something, it is yours to own, not for you to choose for others.

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Happy Mother's Day

The day for Mom's (though one is not enough and ususally she does some of the planning, cooking and cleaning!)  I had the opportunity to take some photos with just me and my girls in honor of the Hallmark holiday!  Time for a photo dump of the cute photos that Aleah with Created by Me Photography snapped at her new, natural-light studio.  If you're in Minnesota and in need of some great pics, I highly recommend her!

My darling beasts were tough to get "posed" but that's not always a bad thing.  Some of the "out-takes" are just as sweet!  I remember being a sweaty mess, worried that my kids were screwing around too much and not being "cute enough."  You'd never know it by Aleah's work!  All it takes is one shot of 100 to make the wall, right?

Wishing all the moms out there an awesome day!  Put your feet up and let the dishes sit for a day!  You've earned it!

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Cilantro-Lime Quinoa {with extras}

Last week was the first time I'd tried quinoa.  I have heard healthy things - but I've always imagined it as a little blah (as most healthy things are!)  I hunted Pinterest to find something that sounds good, and actually tasted good too!

There was a recipe for cilantro-lime quinoa, boasting that it was like the Chipotle-style rice.  My interest was peaked, however, I will share that when we made this the first time, it did taste like lime, and cilantro, but NOTHING like Chipotle!  The quinoa was fine, but not great.  The brightness of the lime and cilantro were awesome, but the texture is something to be desired.

I decided to mix in some extra things and make it my own!  I added red pepper and green peas, and it was awesome!  I wish I would have added in some of the leftover grilled chicken that was floating around the fridge too.  Next time!

  • 1 c quinoa
  • 2 c water (or stock of your choosing)
  • 1/3 c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 c green peas (I used frozen and just tossed them with the hot quinoa to warm through)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Bring water to a boil and add in quinoa.  Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook 20 minutes.  Remove to a bowl and fluff with a fork.  Toss in all other ingredients and serve immediately.

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So What Wednesday

We'll see how this week goes.  For some reason, I've only able to find crabby pants in my closet (even though I wore a dress yesterday) and have been kinda of a big B.  I don't meant to be.  I should be super happy - the weather has turned (for now), the sun is shining (for now), I'm getting to the gym (for now)... Maybe be the end of this SO WHAT I'll have a happier outlook... we'll see!

So What Wednesday

  • I put a full face of makeup and ton of hair product in for Liv's pictures on Monday and she still hasn't had a bath.  Relax, I did wash her face at least!
  • I got seriously annoyed at work when someone told me that they were going to offer unsolicited grammar advice on my writing.  Thanks.  BA in English - you, maybe a high school diploma.  I got this. {see, I warned you about the crabby pants!}
  • With warmer days, the girls smell like sunscreen, sweat and dirt.  I love that smell.
  • Nate bought his second suit in his entire life this weekend for a fancy fundraiser we're going to on Saturday.  Watch for Instagram pics!!
  • I love Mad Men, but hate hate hate their previews for "next week."  It's like 4 word sound bites from each character that give zero context for next week's episode.  
  • I also love Game of Thrones, but they need to get back to the action!  I feel this entire season has been a lot of talking and waiting.... Where's the excitement and cliffhangers that I feel in love with?!
  • I got more than a little irritated at the hubs for asking what I wanted for Mother's Day.  Don't you know me enough by now to make an educated guess??  (And don't worry, I said this to his face, it's not like he's learning this on the blog today!)
  • Even though I cannot take credit for the idea, I'm super duper excited about how cute the girls' Fairy Gardens turned out!  What a clever thing to do and keep them occupied for a few hours!
  • I'm offering 40% on my ad spots for you lovely readers today!  Use:  MARKETPLACE and grab yours today!

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