Monday, December 5, 2016

CROSBY | 3 Months

Today is my baby boy's 3-month birthday! Aaaand I managed to post his monthly update on the same day. Mommy win!

In case you missed it, apparently I'm a stay-at-home Mom now. I say "apparently" because it still feels ill-fitting and uncomfortable. I have worked from the time I was a kid answering phones for my Grandma's company. I have never not been employed and it's really tripping me up. I never in a millions years envisioned myself as anything other than a working mom and I'm having a kind of identity crisis at the moment, so bear with me.

Still going so well! This is one of the things I'm choosing to focus on during this major life transition- the fact that I don't have to worry about the logistics of pumping and can just feed my baby when he's hungry! Hooray! Crosby still wakes up 3-4 times/night to eat which is a bummer for someone who requires a full 8 hours to function in life. However, the fact that he's gaining like a champ (unlike his older brother) is a fair trade-off.

My sister-in-law has been on a major weight loss journey for the last year- she's already lost 56 lbs, looks great, feels great, and so decided that she no longer needed her Fitbit and bestowed it upon me. I love this thing! It really pushes me to be more active and get more steps in each day. I think it's a big reason why I weigh the least I have in 5 or 6 years! Hooray! I still have a lot of work to do to tone up, but I'm feeling confident that my hubby and I can tackle this weight loss challenge together.

As for Crosby...

Despite the fact that he prefers not to sleep at night (not that I'm bitter or anything), Crosby really is the sweetest, smiliest baby. Chuck and I joke that he's kind of needy and has FOMO, just like his Daddy, because he doesn't like being left by himself. However, if he's being held or at least within seeing distance of someone, he's happy as a clam.

Obviously, he's still in the somewhat boring newborn stage, but he now smiles all the time and it's just about the greatest thing ever. He constantly wants to see what's going on so neck strength is great and he does really well during tummy time.

His next appointment isn't until after the holidays so I weighed him again at home with our bathroom scale. It seems like his weight gain has slowed a little, but he's still a plumpy little guy weighing in at 13 lbs. He's wearing 3-month clothing, and we're still squeezing him into the remaining Size 1 diapers we have stashed away, but this kid is movin' on up!

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We love you, Crosby Loren! I'm so blessed to be your Mommy and can't wait to continue watching who you become.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Our Family Christmas Traditions

In case you don't follow me on Instagram and it hasn't been made clear through this blog yet, I'm just going to put this out there- I am a freak about Christmas. I own it. I get serious hate from the "not until after Thanksgiving" folks, but here's my rationale: Thanksgiving is like pre-gaming for Christmas. It's spending time with loved ones, it's eating massive quantities of deliciously unhealthy food, but mostly it's just preparation for the real holiday celebrations.

I have only my mother to blame because she made a huge deal out of just about every holiday as kids. Seriously, she even hid little pots of gold for us to find on St. Patrick's Day. Even when it was just little things, she made every holiday so full of magic and fun. I want to make every holiday just as exciting and magical as she did for us. So now that Chuck and I have become our own little family and especially now that we're parents, these are a few little Christmas traditions that we keep in our home:

The very first tradition we keep always kicks off our holiday celebrating. Every Halloween night after Trick-or-Treat has come to an end, we turn off the porch lights, settle down on the sofa and watch our first Christmas movie of the season. We have a growing collection, but our three favorites are Elf, Love Actually, and The Santa Clause. We pop a bowl of popcorn or grab a pint of ice cream and we obnoxiously quote along with the entire movie. It is one of my absolute favorite "couple" things that we share together.

As soon as the Halloween decorations get put away, the Christmas decorations come out! Now that we're homeowners we really need to work on our arsenal of Christmas decor, because admittedly, it's pretty pitiful. I still have the same fake tree that I bought with my roommate in college and we have zero lights hung on the outside of our house. Because we're in a season of our lives where we are practicing frugality and sticking to a strict budget, we're not allowing ourselves to splurge on decor. Instead, we slowly accumulate a few more things year after year in hopes that one day, we'll be the most festive house on the block.

The one exception to our anti-splurge rule? Stockings. I haaaaad to get my boys their own personalized stockings. And if you want to know the honest to goodness truth about where to get the cutest personalized stockings- Pottery Barn. More specifically, we got ours from the PB Teen collection. Last year, we got Charlie a Peanuts stocking because duh- Charlie Brown. And then this year, we figured we'd just keep the Peanuts theme going and got Crosby his own Woodstock-adorned stocking. Chuck and I are still using our childhood Christmas stockings, but I may just cave and buy us some as well so that the whole family can match.

(Just pretend they say Charlie and Crosby)

I am not a "stuff" person. I detest clutter and knick knacks and live very simply. I think hoarders are crazy and people with extensive collections of things need something better to do with their time (and money!). There is, however, one area where I do veer slightly to the "crazy hoarder" side- wrapping paper. Don't ask me why, but I am obsessed with gift wrap and wrapping presents. I have very strong feelings toward people who use gift bags (lazy!) and will merrily volunteer to wrap other people's presents because I love it that much. At the end of every holiday season, I stock up on my favorite designs so that by the time next Christmas rolls around, I'm ready to go!

I take back what I said about gift wrap being my "thing." As I turns out, I actually have two weird hoarder things. The second being greeting cards. I have literally kept every single birthday, Christmas, Congratulations, etc. card I've received since I was in sixth grade. It means a lot to me that people take the time to send a card and show they care, so I always try to do the same. This year, I couldn't decide which print I liked better, so I ordered one from Shutterfly and one from TinyPrints:

Obviously, Christmas cookies are a must. The actual event of baking cookies seems to differ every year- some years I've invited a friend over to bake, other years it's been a huge gathering with my in-laws, and some years I just blast the Christmas music and bake solo. This year, I'm super excited because I'm hosting my group of ladies for a Christmas cookie and book exchange! Books and sweets? It doesn't get much better than that! I'm actually not a huge fan of traditional sugar cookies, so I always make two of the same family recipes that were passed down from my mom- Bourbon Balls and Thumbprint Cookies. My own family recipes are a little different, but those recipes come close.

Church and me have always been a little hit or miss, but I've never not gone to a Christmas Eve service. It always humbles me and reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas when I've done a tailspin into full-on crazy, gift-wrap-lady mode. When the congregation collectively holds their candles and sings "Silent Night,", it is the most beautiful and spiritual experience.

Santa didn't visit our house last year. We told him that since Charlie was so young, that he could pass over our house and come back the following year. This year, however, we decided to invite Santa to pay us a visit. Rumor has it that he's picked out custom ornaments that reflect this time in our boys' lives and even has custom gift wrap with their names on it. What wonders he can pull off at the North Pole!

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What are your must-do Christmas traditions?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Book Challenge Check-In [October-November]

October was not a super great reading month for me, as I expect the next several months won't be either, so I decided it wasn't worth devoting an entire post to a measly two books. It wasn't a total loss, however, because I managed to complete Erin's fifth Book Challenge by Erin! That makes it my second book challenge win after I finished Megan's a couple months ago. Look at me go!

Here is what I did manage to read in October:

30 points: Read a historical fiction book. | The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (440 pages, ★★★)
I spent nearly the entirety of this book feeling anxious and sick, and then heartbroken and despairing at its conclusion. A testament to the story and the writing that brought it to life. I can see why so many friends recommended it to me.
BONUS | 10 points: Read a book with five words in the title. | You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein (291 pages, ★★★)
I think I was expecting more since I knew Klein was one of the writers of Inside Amy Schumer. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. Entertaining, but not by any means, laugh-out-loud funny.
FINAL POINTS: 210 (I won!)

November kicked off Megan's Semi-Charmed Winter Book Challenge, so I set my standards low, but managed to check a few books off my list for her challenge, as well:

10 points: Read a 2016 finalist (long list or shortlist) for one of the following literary prizes: National Book AwardMan Booker or Man Booker International. | The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie (430 pages, ★★)
If I was rating solely based on the strength of the writing, it would be a 5. However, the story tumbled past quirky and became downright weird very quickly. Perhaps it was over my head, but I really struggled to get through it. 
20 points: Read a modern retelling of a classic | Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (237 pages, ★★)
Perhaps it was because I never read the story this book was based on, or I may have appreciated it more. It just didn't do anything for me. I was "meh" about it until the ending. The last few pages pushed me over the fence of ambivalence to actual dislike. (c/o NetGalley)
40 points: Read two books: one by an author whose first name is the same as the last name of the author of the other book. | Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (224 pages, ★★★★★) and Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (This one is a two-fer so I don't get the 40 points yet)
Like most people, I was familiar with Trevor Noah as host of The Daily Show. I've long thought he was incredibly insightful, intelligent, articulate and funny so I assumed his memoir would be the same. It was all of those things, but admittedly, it was not very humorous. I don't know how you tell a story of growing up "born a crime" in post-apartheid South Africa, or as a survivor of domestic violence and make it funny. So Noah didn't and it was amazing just the same. 
The entirety of this book I was so thankful that someone with Noah's celebrity status shared his story and in turn, gave a voice to many voiceless South Africans who don't share his star power. This book was touching, horrifying, melancholy, with a dash of hope and it was phenomenal. Definitely a must-read! (c/o NetGalley)


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On Bittersweet Changes

If you follow me on Instagram, you likely already saw my "big announcement" on Election Day. However, I saved my actual blog announcement for today because today is officially my last day at work. The job I love. For the last three weeks, I've been in this weird purgatory of returning from maternity leave, only to say my official goodbye. I came back because I love my position and I wanted to help with the transition. But I was left feeling kind of useless and unnecessary, which is not a particularly good feeling when you've poured three years of your heart and soul into work that sets your soul ablaze.

To back up, I had every intention of returning to work after taking my 12-week maternity leave. We had a temporary childcare arrangement set up for the first month or two with the hope that it would become permanent. I was expecting to resume my normal work with additional 2017 goals set to outreach to new partners and initiate new relationships in the new year. Never did I think that I would be turning it all over to my temporary replacement.

Around the eight-week mark is when the nausea-inducing anxiety associated with the reality of leaving your baby for 60 hours a week set in. The baby who hasn't left your side since he was born. The same thing happened when Charlie was born. I probably ruined a solid chunk of Chuck's wardrobe with my mascara-smeared sob sessions. You can prepare for the physical reality of a new baby's presence in your life, but there is nothing that can prepare you for the emotional toll leaving your baby takes on a new mom. Even though I was anticipating it being a seasoned mom, it still rocked me. Chuck and I began to talk about the idea of me staying home, only this time was different. Chuck's salary was more than it was when we had Charlie, and with double the expenses, it actually made some financial sense to explore quitting my job as a distinct possibility.

We hemmed and hawed and I pored over budgeting spreadsheets trying to figure out if we could make it work. I concluded that although we'd be dirt poor and we'd have to eliminate several of our expenses, it was doable. We also decided that the peace of mind we both would have knowing that our babies were taken care of, the house would be taken care of, and we wouldn't have to constantly be stressed out by childcare arrangements would be worth the financial hit we were taking.

The fact that we reached this conclusion didn't leave me with much peace, however. It wasn't that I felt resentful or unhappy about staying home with the boys, but it just felt like I was making what should have been a happy, positive life change at the expense of a career that fills me with complete joy and contentment. I have been at my company for three years, and in that time, I contributed a great deal to making my programs successful. In the three years I worked there, the programs I oversaw grew exponentially. I don't say this to sound cocky or braggy. But it's the honest truth- I loved my job, I was good at my job, and I was finally starting to make a decent income, which is no small feat in the nonprofit sector.

So although I knew I wouldn't regret my decision in the long-term, it also left me with a deep sadness for all I was leaving behind. As I made the hour-long drive to speak with my supervisor and submit my letter of resignation, I was a mess. I called Chuck who did his best, but did little to console me. Then I called my Mom, because in moments of making terrifying life decisions, the only person who can help is your Mom. She told me that she didn't regret for a second staying home with my sister and I for the first five years of our life, but she implored me to make sure that I kept my mind sharp and active so I wouldn't be a worthless pile of mush when the time came to re-enter the workforce (my words, not hers).

I thought I had cried all that I could cry when I sat down with my supervisor, but I was wrong. Tears filled my eyes as I broke the news. She was shell-shocked and saddened. Not only is she one of the kindest and most generous people I've ever known, but she truly helped me grow into a better and more confident professional. I think she, along with the rest of my amazing work family, were the thing I was grieving the most.

Which brings us to today. For the last three weeks, I've been going in from 8-5 to help tie up loose ends and help my replacement to get acclimated, but if I'm being honest with myself, I'm just not needed anymore. And it breaks my heart a little. When you invest so much of yourself and your identity into your career, it leaves you feeling a little mind-fucked (for lack of a better word), when that's no longer your identity.

I didn't mean to ramble on for so long on this topic, but it's been hard to articulate my emotions regarding this huge change in my life. I fear I come off as being ungrateful for the opportunity most mothers would kill for, and that's not it at all. There are so many reasons why I know me being home is the best choice for my family. I just wish it wasn't such a bittersweet change.

So tomorrow, I will wake, not to the sounds of an alarm, but to the natural wake up call of a hungry baby. I will change diapers, and make oatmeal, and play Daniel Tiger, and try to come to terms with my new job description. Stay tuned as I don my Stay-at-Home Mom uniform and make the necessary alterations to make it fit.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

5 Meals We've Loved Lately [v.1]

I mentioned here about how I've recently resurrected my love for cooking. This has been in large part due to us trying to get our food budget under control (post to come on that), but I have genuinely been having the best time trying out new recipes. So today I thought I would share a few we've loved these last few weeks:

Chicken Gnocchi Soup
We had some leftover gnocchi in our fridge from a Blue Apron meal that we never made, so I randomly searched for a recipe that I could make with items I already had in our kitchen. This is what I ended up making and holy cow was it delicious! I added a bunch of cornstarch because I like my soups to be really thick, but other than that- no tweaking needed!

A photo posted by Kaity | (Bee)autiful Blessings (@beeautifulblessings) on

CrockPot Philly Chicken Sandwiches
This recipe was kind of vague, so I followed the basic directions, but then wound up adding my own seasoning. It was so yummy and easy to make. If you make it yourself, I would recommend adding black pepper, garlic powder, oregano and just a sprinkle of thyme!

Chicken Pot Pie Soup from Cravings by Chrissy Teigen
I checked this cookbook out from my local library because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and let me tell you- I loved it! I have since added it to my Christmas list because every recipe I've tried has turned out amazing! I substituted her "crust crackers" for some basic, Pillsbury biscuits I already had in our refrigerator, but otherwise this recipe was phenomenal as is. It was more time-consuming than I anticipated (but this also could have been because I burned my butter and set our smoke alarms off for a solid 20 minutes).

Spicy Italian Sausage Meatloaf from Cravings by Chrissy Teigen
Chuck is a full-on caveman when it comes to meat, while I'm a more reluctant carnivore. This meatloaf recipe wowed the pants off of both of us. It had a ton of meat (which Chuck obviously loved), but also a good helping of veggies (which I loved) and we both loved the spiciness of it. This ain't yo Mama's meatloaf, but it's going to be this Mama's meatloaf from now on! It was a little under-cooked when I made it, so I would recommend adding another 10-15 minutes of cook time if you make it for yourself.

Crockpot Split Pea Soup with Turkey Bacon
This was actually the second or third time I've made this soup, so by this point, I've figured out what tweaks to make. I added a cup less water than it called for to make it thicker and I threw the turkey bacon on our skillet for just a couple minutes before I added it to the Crockpot so it didn't feel like eating raw bacon. Otherwise, this recipe is equal parts healthy and yummy. Even Charlie liked it!

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Have you had any recipe wins lately? Please do share!
Follow me on Pinterest to see more of what I've been cooking as of late.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

CROSBY | 2 Months

The day before Crosby's 2-month birthday, I herded my littles into their pediatrician's office only to be informed that Crosby was listed as "ineligible" on our insurance. So, no fun stats this month. Just a quick check-in on this adorably, squishy, and smiley guy of ours. 

I went back to work on Monday. I am not at all excited about leaving my babies. Although Charlie has grown very attached to me the last couple months, I know he will be fine being in a new environment with a new sitter, especially since she has a daughter he can play with. Crosby, on the other hand, has developed this super fun habit of scream-crying when he's exhausted. Doesn't matter than he has a fresh diaper or that he's just been fed. The only thing we can do is just let him tire himself out with crying until he falls asleep. It generally doesn't last longer than 5-10 minutes, but it's still horrible and I hate that someone who doesn't know him is going to have figure out the intricacies of his sleep habits.

This kid loves to eat. Which explains all the adorably squishy rolls he's rocking! He eats so much that sometimes I worry that I'm not making enough milk. I have to push myself to eat more frequently than I normally would to ensure he's getting everything he needs.

I'm down to right around where I was pre-pregnancy, give or take a pound or two. I try to get out for a walk every day with the boys, but I'm what you might call, "skinny fat." I am not in great shape and I am completely lacking any muscle tone. Chuck is also really trying to lose some weight, so we're getting better about pushing each other to get more physical activity in and want to try doing some 5k prep and yoga together. Fingers crossed we can continue to hold each other accountable!

As for Crosby...

I'm still a full-blown Mombie (Mom + zombie). At this point with Charlie, he was sleeping 8 hour stretches. But not this guy! He would much rather eat than sleep, so we're still up about every 3 hours throughout the night. Just like his big brother, he loves to go on walks. But that's pretty much where the similarities end. He eats more and sleeps less. But he also smiles and cries more. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it's not. Charlie was just a very chill, serious baby. Whereas Crosby is more expressive. I would not be at all opposed if he decided to sleep longer stretches through the night, but it is really fun to slowly watch as the differences in their temperaments is made apparent.

Obviously, he's still in the somewhat boring newborn stage, but he started smiling like crazy this month and has also started "talking."

The day of his 2-month appointment fail I weighed him at home using our bathroom scale. Coming in around 12 lbs 4 oz, he is just about three pounds heavier than Charlie was at this age. Crazy! Bring on the chubbiness, Crosby Loren. I love kissing your precious, squishy cheeks!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Week in Tears

  • Draft a blog post entitled "The Day I Can't Wait to Tell my Boys About" centered around how you plan to tell your sons when they ask where you were when our nation elected its first woman President

I've debated sharing this because the truth is, I still have a lot of mixed emotions about it. But here goes.  Anyone who knows me knows I love my job. I love my co-workers. I love my organization. I love that I play a large part in connecting low-income Ohio families to fresh, healthy foods. Last week, I tearfully sat down with my supervisor and resigned from my position. As of December 1, I will be a stay-at-home Mommy. Although I love the idea of being the one to raise my boys during their formative years, the truth of the matter is that I wouldn't have had to make this difficult choice if we had adequate family leave in this country.  That, among other reasons, is why #imwithher. I encourage everyone to vote today. Hopefully for the candidate who will do better by American families. πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ #nastywoman #electionday #SAHM #breastfeeding #wearwhite #pantsuitnation
A photo posted by Kaity | (Bee)autiful Blessings (@beeautifulblessings) on

  • Make husband take super empowering breastfeeding-while-channeling-Rosie-the-Riveter picture to post on Instagram in an endorsement of HRC
  • Debate whether or not to join friends at the bar to watch election results filter in
  • Haven't slept in 3 months and today you have hit rock bottom of the sleep deprivation
  • Decide not to go out with friends
  • Worry that you'll regret missing out on one of your country's biggest historical moments and change your mind
  • Curl your hair (you'll want to look good in all of those celebratory Instagram posts)
  • Meet lady friends, all sporting pantsuits, at the bar
  • Order your first drink in about two years- a tall Jack and Coke
  • Joke about the horrors of a theoretical Trump presidency
  • Order your second tall Jack and Coke
  • Start to feel slightly nauseous as you read "Florida- Too close to call"
  • Order your third tall Jack and Coke
  • Receive distraught text message from sister that reads, "WTF Ohio?!"
  • Order your fourth tall Jack and Coke
  • Start to contemplate the actual horrors of a real Trump presidency
  • Come out of the women's restroom, catch your friend's eye and burst into heavy sobs
  • Continue to sob in her embrace as she tries to remain strong and hold back her own tears
  • Accept offer of a ride home from a newly married friend who is now terrified about the fate of his marriage
  • Proceed to pump and dump 7 oz of liquid gold while hysterically crying with your sister on the phone
  • Climb into bed and wait for the spinning to stop...

  • Wake up and hope that some miracle occurred between 1:30-3:30 AM and your candidate actually won
  • Feel sick once again when your husband announces that the impossible has happened
  • Play Daniel Tiger on repeat and spend the day sobbing

  • Contemplate cancelling established plans with friend to visit Children's Museum
  • Decide that a few hours of relief from all the crying is probably for the best
  • Get children dressed and ready to go, and then spend a half hour looking for toddler's right shoe
  • Find right shoe in the bathtub
  • Begin the one hour drive to museum
  • Call friend to stop and pull over at a nearby shopping plaza because toddler has thrown up in the back of your car
  • Spend several hours at Children's Museum smelling vaguely of children's vomit
  • Load children in car and drive home through rush hour traffic
  • Watch in horror as a car to the left of you slams their brakes causing the car next to you to swerve into your lane and slam into the driver's side of your vehicle
  • Pull over in the left shoulder. Call 911. Check to make sure sleeping babies are unharmed and still sleeping
  • Wait 20 minutes for police to arrive to file an accident report
  • Move to a safer location on the right shoulder and proceed to wait another 20 minutes for police
  • Grow impatient with law enforcement, exchange insurance information, and drive away with sleeping babies
  • Receive email from Trump-supporting family member questioning whether she should still make pre-arranged trip to visit after a tense Facebook exchange

  • Brew morning coffee
  • Discover you are out of your favorite Peppermint creamer and resort to an old bottle of French Vanilla creamer
  • Observe that your French Vanilla creamer has spoiled and has now ruined your morning coffee
  • Confirm that Trump-supporting family member is still coming
  • Attempt to make house look presentable for guest after several days of neglect
  • Welcome family member (awkwardly) into home

  • Go shopping and run errands with family
  • Write "thank you" card for HRC
  • Spend evening watching Christmas movies with family to lighten your spirits

A photo posted by Kaity | (Bee)autiful Blessings (@beeautifulblessings) on

  • Wake up to Kate McKinnon-as-HRC singing "Hallelujah"
  • Cry
  • Get children dressed and ready for Church
  • Sit next to Trump-supporting family member as Pastor delivers message about healing and loving the people you don't want to love
  • Return from Church and have the overdue dialogue about this election and the wedge it's driven between you and Trump-supporting family member
  • Feel some peace for the first time in days

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There was a lot more tears and a lot more love and support from my lady friends that happened in the midst of my week in tears. They are what got me through arguably the most emotional week I've had in a long time. I am still grieving, but healing and I'm ready to continue carrying the torch that HRC has carried solo for so long.

How are you coping (or celebrating) the results of the 2016 Presidential Election?

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Lost Love, Found

Many moons ago I would have described myself as a foodie. In college, I studied in Uganda. I witnessed an immense amount of hunger and poverty and committed myself to a vegetarian lifestyle. I learned the impact meat production was having on the world and it felt like something I could feasibly do to address the problem. I ate lots of pasta and got fat, but I was steadfast in my belief that my vegetarianism was a small step in the direction of addressing world hunger.

Upon graduation, I volunteered for a year with a community garden initiative through the AmeriCorps program. I developed a green thumb and got to help other low-income folks develop theirs. I grew my own herbs, lettuces, and tomatoes, and started to become more committed to "growing my own" and incorporating homegrown veggies into my cooking.

After AmeriCorps, I moved to Pittsburgh to obtain my Masters in Food Studies. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of the American food system in hopes that it might inform how I could better fight to end both global and domestic hunger. Of course, we all know how that ended and I was left with more questions than answers. But it was during my graduate year that I began cooking more as a part of my curriculum, and truly grew to love it.

Fast forward a few more years and I am working for a food bank doing work that I am crazy passionate about. However, I have a one hour commute and a baby to care for. I long ago abandoned my vegetarianism in the name of convenience and take-out has become our way of life as we were both too exhausted from the work day, and have approximately 20 minutes to throw a meal together before we have to start Charlie's bedtime routine. Or at least that was until I went on maternity leave.

A photo posted by Kaity | (Bee)autiful Blessings (@beeautifulblessings) on

Being home with two babies is a lot of things- tiring, busy, messy, and loud. But the one thing I didn't anticipate was how much being home would allow me the opportunity to renew my love of food. And not just food, but actually cooking my own food. When I was working full-time, cooking was nothing but a burden. But actually having time at home during the day to spend preparing meals for my family has brought me so much joy. I've never ever had the desire to be a homemaker. My career matters too much to me. And as much as it feels like some kind of failure to my inner feminist, I genuinely love to cook!

All this is to say, my relationship with food and cooking goes way back, and I am so happy to have unearthed this long since forgotten fragment of my identity. My kitchen has probably seen more action in the last week than it has since we moved in. Expect more recipe and food-centric posts to come. Meanwhile, I'm going to go whip up some muffins!

Monday, November 7, 2016

It Takes a Village

When I was a junior in college, I studied abroad for a semester in Uganda. At the time, I was young, idealistic, and convinced that I was going to singlehandedly save the world. Obviously, that hasn't (yet) happened, and my time in East Africa was incredibly humbling. Perhaps the most humbling experience during my four months was the trip I took on my Spring Break to stay with a host family in the rural country. For seven days, I lived in a mudhut, took bucket baths and did my business in a hole in the ground. It was also during this time, that I really and truly witnessed the common phrase, "it takes a village," firsthand.

...Continue reading at Dayton Moms Blog!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Obligatory Halloween 2016 Recap

I'm not one for holiday or weekend recaps and I rarely do photo dumps, because I get irritated that my blog feed seems to be the same exact post every Monday. That being said, this was our first major holiday with two ginger babies, so I feel as though it should probably be documented.

I came up with the idea for our costumes about a month ago. It seemed super cute and easy to pull off. However, I had the hardest time finding the costume I had in mind for Charlie in his size. In the end, I found the perfect pattern on Etsy and had it sent to my Mom who ended up making his costume herself. Score! It turned out even cuter than I imagined so she was promptly informed that she will more than likely be making the boys' costumes every year for the rest of eternity.

On Saturday, our town did their Downtown Trick or Treat where kids can stop by all the local businesses. We got a really late start, but I didn't mind because it's not like either of my boys are at a candy-eating age anyway. I was just happy for the excuse to parade them around our town for a solid hour! 

On Monday night, our friends/neighbors two doors down had a handful of people over to their house to pass out candy and just hang out. I was so thankful they did because it took all the pressure off of me to decorate our house and build up our candy arsenal. I didn't have to do a thing except show up with our boys. It was a tradition I hope we continue every year!

Once we put the boys to bed Halloween night, Chuck and I snuggled up on the couch and continued our own Halloween tradition- watching The Santa Clause! I am that person who couldn't give a hoot about Thanksgiving and starts my Christmas celebrating on November 1st. The Santa Clause is probably our favorite movie to quote so it was a really sweet way to wrap up the holiday.