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Life Lately v9 (Or, Anything to Distract Myself from the Fact that my Family has Lice)

This post has been brewing for a few weeks now, but honestly it's been so long since I last hit "publish," that I've really struggled with where to begin. I feel like there's so much ground to cover that I haven't even known where to start. Well, who woulda thunk that it would be a case of head lice that brought me back to my blogging roots?

That's right- my parenting nightmare became a reality when I realized yesterday evening that there were in fact tiny little creatures skittering through Crosby's and my hair. *shudders* I spent upwards of four hours scrubbing, shampooing, and combing through all our hair. I managed to go through the entirety of my childhood without getting it, but ah yes, the joys of motherhood. I promise, I'm really trying not to be overly negative or dramatic about this- but head lice is one of my biggest irrational fears and I cannot even tell you how much I'm freaking out right now. So much so, that I used a sick day (that I do not have to spare because it seems like my children are literally always sick) to stay home and wash every last linen and article of clothing in our house.

So, while I sit here in my freshly laundered bed suffering from phantom itches all over my body, I figured I'd do something relatively productive with my downtime (anything to distract myself!) and publish the post that has been a long time coming.


When last I left off at the beginning of the year, I was spending my cold, winter months trapped inside organizing my house and attempting to upgrade my wardrobe. I shared that I was still in full-on study mode at work and that Chuck and I were going back and forth on whether we wanted to have another child. In March, Crosby celebrated his half birthday so I threw together a quick 2.5-year interview post. And then I checked in on some bucket list goals.

Now here we are, over two months later and my blog is like a desolate, Mommy blogger wasteland. Allow me to catch you up to speed...

I felt like we spent so much of our Spring just battling sickness. We had two bouts of strep, a couple ear infections and other assorted ailments. It's remarkable how you can be the healthiest person in the world and as soon as kids enter the picture, it's game over.

On a more positive note though, I'm back at it with half marathon training (Version 2.0). You may remember that I trained last year and at the last minute wasn't able to run due to some unfortunate circumstances outside of my control. Thankfully, I was able to defer my race registration until the following year. Which sounded like a great idea at the time, but now it means I actually have to be able to run 13+ miles NEXT WEEKEND. Eek! I'll be honest, I haven't been as motivated as I was last year, BUT I've managed a couple 8-mile runs which gives me hope that I might actually be able to pull this off. Now, I'm just praying that this Ohio humidity takes a hike!

Since I've been actively saving up to buy a minivan in cash, we knew there was no way we could swing a vacation this year. Instead, I made my birthday week in April a Staycation week. While I devoted my week to studying for my professional exam, scrubbing every square inch of our home, and all the other house projects I haven't had time for, our handyman friend Dale spent the week installing a window in our upstairs spare room that will eventually become Charlie's big boy bedroom. It's been a really slow process because working full-time with two toddlers doesn't lend itself well to getting projects accomplished, but as we're currently in a season of bed-sharing right now, I honestly don't think the boys are ready to sleep in their own rooms anyway. I'm hopeful that the timing will fall right into place. (This picture doesn't look like anything special, but just try to imagine what the side of our house looked like prior without the second story window):

I think I've only mentioned it a few thousand times, but I spent basically all of the past year studying for two professional exams. I passed the first in December, and then sat for the second in May. I am so happy that I passed because let me tell you- all that cramming was brutal. This is the first summer since becoming a Mom in which I haven't had a job that requires me to work on Saturdays, so I have been relishing all of this free time to spend with my kiddos. I've been doing a lot more reading, trips to the farmers' market and church on Sundays these last few months. I will probably study to obtain a professional designation at the end of the year/beginning of next year. But for now, I'm giving myself a much-needed break!

I am absolutely delighting in my boys these days. While their physical energy leaves me in a perpetual state of exhaustion, they are still so much darn fun. Charlie is 4.5 and Crosby will be three in less than 2 months! Crosby is talking more and more and is honing his sense of humor. He is silly, still affectionate as ever, and copies every little thing his big brother does. Charlie is becoming a big boy before our eyes- he went to summer day camp for the first time this year and loved it. Although it rained the entire week, he didn't know the difference and was completely reluctant to leave every evening at pick-up. He starts Pre-K next year and is bursting to be able to ride the school bus and points out his new school every time we pass it. I adore his personality and just love spending time with him. They're both the very best and I couldn't possibly love them more.

Our summer has been so much fun. It's been very laidback, but we've managed to fit in some stellar friend and family time. Chuck's brother was remarried in June and it was the boys' first wedding. They TORE UP the dance floor and we all had the time of our lives. The weekend of July 4th, my Mom came to visit on her three-wheeler. We had to be on "back door watch" because all these little toddlers wanted to do was go outside and sit on Grandma's motorcycle! We also took them to a friend's house for a July 4th party where Charlie proceeded to take up residence in the pond and basically had to be dragged out. He was a little wary last year, so I was so impressed by my eager little fishy! We don't have too much else planned for the summer except a Labor Day trip up to NY. Chuck and I will be attending a friend's wedding while the boys go camping with Grandma and Grandpa.

I think that about gets us up to speed on life with the Stuckerts! I haven't had much desire to blog lately because I was so burnt out from studying and wanted no part in anything that felt remotely like "work." But I have missed it. And even if it is a dying art, this blog has been with me for over a decade now and bears witness to the best moments of my life. I am in no hurry to say goodbye. So stay tuned, hopefully I'll be back with some more regular content- including some updates on our finances, the books I've been reading and loving and other beeautiful, mundane stuff!

Since it's been awhile, I'd love to know who (if anyone) is still reading this blog. Leave a comment and tell me all about your summer!


32 BEFORE 32: One-Year Check-In

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to meeeeee! Today is my 31st birthday and you can absolutely tell I am officially in my 30's by how I've chosen to spend my week. Since we're saving up for a minivan, we won't be taking a vacation this year. I decided the best use of my vacation time would be to take a birthday Stay-cation and do all of the house projects that I never have the time for.

So, all this week I've been dropping the boys off at daycare and returning home to clean out my basement and garage, scrub all my floors, do some painting, study for my upcoming test- all of the things that I never have the time to do as a full-time working mom. And let me tell you, it's been glorious.

I know that with young kids, you have to lower your expectations for the cleanliness level of your home, but the truth is- I like a clean house. A chaotic, messy house = a chaotic, messy mind for me. So while it probably doesn't sound very exciting to most- it's been a huge blessing to me!

Since today is the day I turn the big 3-1, I figured it was a good time to check in on my 32 Before 32 goals:

32 Before 32: A 2-Year Bucket List

1. Take an international trip

2. Host a foreign exchange student

3. Pay off a student loan

4. Return to work full-time | COMPLETE! (June 4, 2018)

5. Visit a new state

6. Convert attic to a fourth bedroom | IN PROGRESS! This is literally happening as we speak. Part of my Stay-cation goals were to have our handyman friend Dale finally install a window in our spare, attic room as a bedroom for Charlie. He finished all the exterior work, and is now working on the interior. I have such a cute vision for this space and I can't wait to share it when it's finished! You can see "before" pictures of the room here.

This is what my driveway looked like on Monday!

7. Take an anniversary tripCOMPLETE! (September 1, 2018)

8. Adopt a four-legged friend 

9. Run a half marathon | IN PROGRESS! As you may or may not remember, I was supposed to run my first half marathon last summer. Due to circumstances outside of my control, I had to cancel the marathon in order to work at our local Farmers' Market. Thankfully, I was able to defer my registration until this year, so training has begun for my Half Marathon in July (and by training I mean I've gone out for one three-mile run. Wish me luck!)

10. Replace our back porch

11. Visit Frankie's grave

12. Attend a cooking class

13. Pay off all credit cards (2/3) IN PROGRESS Our last credit card will be paid off next month, which means our family will have ZERO DOLLARS in credit card debt. This also may not seem like a big deal to some people, but this will be the first time this has happened in our married life and we have no desire to go back to our impulsive, debt-filled days!

14. Renovate our kitchen

15. Get a fourth tattoo

16. Take a family camping trip 

17. Update my wardrobe | IN PROGRESS Since starting at my current job back in June, I've been slowly using Stitch Fix to upgrade my lacking professional wardrobe. I generally only get 1-2 new pieces per month so it's been a slow and steady journey to creating a closet fit for a grown-up!

18. Add a railing to our front porch COMPLETE! (October 23, 2018) 

19. Try 10 new restaurants (2/10) IN PROGRESS | We really haven't done much eating out in the last year. I think there's things, especially house things, that we'd rather spend our money on.

20. Enroll Charlie in preschool COMPLETE! (June 2018) He graduates next month!

21. Landscape our front yard

22. Meet a blogging friend

23. Plan something for Chuck's 30th birthday COMPLETE! (April 15, 2019) Chuck celebrated his 30th birthday last week by taking a weekend trip to visit his sister in Kansas City, MO. It required very little planning on my part, but it was what he wanted, so we were both happy. On his actual birthday, I picked up a Chocolate Peanut Butter cake from a cute little bakery that recently opened in our town and had pizza delivered. It was a low-key, simple way to celebrate my low-key, simple man!

24. Purchase a minivan | IN PROGRESS Saving, saving, saving! We're nowhere near close to where we want to be, but we're working on it!

25. Take a photography classCOMPLETE! (January 2019)  Our family photographer offered an Intro to Photography class and I was so excited to kick off the new year by completing an item on my bucket list. It wound up being just the two of us and I was so appreciative of the time we spent together. I haven't had much time to practice, but at the very least, I can now take pictures in manual mode!

26. Pay off all medical bills from Crosby's birth (1/3) IN PROGRESS We are so stinkin' close to being paid off- just in time for Crosby's third birthday... *eyeroll*

27. Run a race in 3 different states (0/3)

28. Visit the American Sign Museum

29. Paint and finish decorating our master bedroom IN PROGRESS | It's pretty much done after I painted it last August, but it does need some new curtains. Once I get those hung up, I'll hopefully get around to sharing on the blog!

30. Take the boys to an amusement park

31. Visit Old Man's Cave in Hocking Hills

32. Attend a concert COMPLETE! (July 13, 2018) 

 > > >

Honestly, I've accomplished more than I anticipated I would. Not a bad way to spend the first year of my 30's!


19 Goals in 2019: 1st Quarter Check-In

Friends! It's been so long! My sweet hubby gave me a kid-free Saturday afternoon to spend studying, so of course I used my study break to throw together a quick blog post. My second and final licensing exam is scheduled for May 6, so these last few weeks are 24/7 crunch time. I'm using this weekend to finish reading my textbook and from here on out I'll be taking practice exams before the big day.

I've been working on becoming registered at my job since I started back in June and I honestly don't even know what I'll do with myself once I'm done studying, but suffice to say that I am very much looking forward to some actual free time. Since we're already halfway into April, I thought I'd take a minute to check-in on my 2019 bucket list progress!

Here are my 19 Goals for 2019:

Now that I am a full-time working Mama again (in a brand new-to-me industry), there is so much professional development for me to conquer over the next year.
  1. Pass my registration exams. IN PROGRESS. I've already made it halfway through this goal because I passed my first exam on December 31, 2018. My second exam is scheduled for next month, so wish me luck!

In my heart of hearts, I will always be a bookworm. But with everything I have going on, I'm not putting any pressure on myself to participate in book challenges or spend all my spare time with my nose in a book. I've been reading as it makes sense to and I read the books that I want to read.

  1. Read 35 books. IN PROGRESS (8/35) Recent faves have been The Road Back To You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery and Educated (go read it, immediately!)
  2. Read 3 books published before 1990. (0/3) Not even close.

2019 is the year I really want to dig our heels in to making some progress with our debt snowball. These are just a few of the things I want to accomplish this year.
  1. Increase my credit score by 5%. IN PROGRESS Because I was an independent contractor for part of last year, we had a HUGE tax bill and I was late making a student loan payment. I started out the year making great progress, but because of that late payment my credit score has gone down even more, unfortunately. 
  2. Save up enough to buy a minivan in cash. IN PROGRESS ($1,150). I dipped into our savings because of the aforementioned tax bill, so I'm not where I hoped I'd be four months into the year.
  3. Contribute at least $500 each to Charlie and Crosby's 529 college savings accounts. IN PROGRESS ($100/$1,000) 
  4. Pay off remaining credit card debt. IN PROGRESS (2/3) We paid Chuck's second credit card off in January and our third will be paid off in just a couple more months!!
  5. Pay off remaining medical bills. IN PROGRESS We have a couple smaller bills that will also hopefully be paid off in a few more months.

I want to continue working on living a healthier lifestyle with manageable and realistic goals for my busy schedule.
  1. Go to the gym at least 2 mornings per week. Nope.
  2. Run a half marathon. It's scheduled for July 20, but I haven't even begun training yet. Eek!
  3. Attend yoga class at least once per month. Also, nope.
  4. Plan one vegetarian meal per week. IN PROGRESS. I've been doing this pretty informally. I haven't been tracking, but I've been decent about eating vegetarian a couple times per week, even if it's just eggs and toast.

I love, love, love my house and making it more of a home is one of my favorite things to do.

  1. Finish converting upstairs room to a fourth bedroom. We're having our friend install the window that will "officially" make this a bedroom in a couple weeks!
  2. Convert downstairs bedroom into an office/guest room. Not yet.
  3. Remodel downstairs half bathroom into a full bathroom. Not even close.
  4. Landscape the front yard. Nope. Nope. Nope.
    These are a few of the random, miscellaneous things that I'd like to see happen in 2019 for me and my little family.
    1. Adopt a four-legged friend. I'll be honest- this probably won't happen this year. With both of us working out of town, as much as I may want a doggo, it would be unfair to get one and make it spend its days at home alone all day.
    2. Take a kid-free weekend getaway. Nothing planned as of yet, but we still have time.
    3. Take a photography or cooking class. COMPLETE! Whoo! One off my list! Back in January, our favorite family photographer offered an Intro to Photography class and I was so excited to kick off the new year by completing an item on my bucket list. It wound up being just the two of us and I was so appreciative of the time we spent together. I haven't had much time to practice, but at the very least, I can now take pictures in manual mode!



    CROSBY | 2.5

    It's been a sparse several months on this blog. Working full-time, studying for my professional exams, and being cooped up inside with two very energetic toddlers has consumed just about every last ounce energy that I've had. I've thought about throwing in the towel and giving up on blogging altogether. But I just can't bring myself to do it. Some Moms scrapbook, some Moms are social media-savvy. Me? This is how I document my babies' lives, for better or worse. So while the days of my writing actual thought-provoking posts may all but be over, for as long as blogging exists, this will be the place I continue to turn to. I have some thoughts on blogging in 2019, but that's for another day.

    Today is all about my Crosby Loren. Crosby celebrated turning 2.5 on March 5 (though "celebrated" may be a bit of a stretch). We don't actually celebrate half birthdays in our home. (I have considered it with Charlie being a Christmas baby!) However, I feel like so much growing and development happens between 2 to 2.5 and 2.5 to 3, that it's a milestone worth documenting.

    Crosby is just starting to string sentences together, so I did my best to guess what his favorites were for the questions he didn't understand. His answers are in quotes...

    Crosby's 2.5 Birthday Interview

    Favorite TV Show: Blippi and "Elmo"
    Favorite pastime(s): Snuggling with Mama, playing outside, playing dress-up and make-believe
    Favorite color: We're working on his colors and he thinks everything is either blue or green
    Favorite toy: He loves balls and his musical instruments (or whatever toy Charlie happens to be playing with (#brothers)
    Favorite food: Chicken nuggets, applesauce pouches and fruit snacks
    Favorite book: Potty Time with Elmo
    Favorite animal: "Blue"
    Favorite sport: Swimming, playing toss and frisbee
    Favorite movie: Like his big brother, he loves the Despicable Me series and they're still watching Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas

    Nickname(s): Cros
    Best friend(s): Obviously, his big brother and cousin Lucie; He also loves to talk about his friends Penny and Peyton from daycare
    When I grow up, I want to be: "Two"
    What I sleep with at night: Two teddy bears, three Paw Patrol characters, his baby doll, nightlight, and...Mommy (No shame in our co-sleeping game!)

    Crosby just might be the best human alive. (Not biased at all). Everyone who meets him falls in love. If sweetness could be embodied in a person, he'd be it. He loves to play with his brother, but when things inevitably get too rough, he also seeks out his Mama for protection and cuddles. Whereas Charlie is scrappy, Crosby is just like his Daddy- a lover, not a fighter. He loves being outdoors, and going to the park with Daddy, Charlie, Uncle Lonnie, and his cousin Lucie now that he's older. I hope to take him on some hikes as the weather warms up!

    From the time he was a baby, he has come alive when he hears music. I think we somehow knew that when we named him after one of Mommy's favorite musicians, David Crosby. He loves to dance and play his musical instruments. Although he's recently taken an interest in using the potty (hooray!), we're not rushing to enroll him in preschool any time soon. Since he's one of those weird, September cut-off birthdays, we're going to wait a year which I think will be better for him. He's always developed at his own pace and I think he'll thrive when he's good and ready to start school. I'm in no hurry to put an end to his baby and toddler years!

    Crosby Loren, you are the light of our lives. Thank you for being you. I love you so.