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An Outstanding Balance

Work and Life Done Well…Mostly.

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Day in the Life

My life on a normal Wednesday. Here we go!

6:15am: Wake up on my own. Alarm not needed. I wish it was–I can never sleep much past 6:30am. If the dog isn’t up yet, I look at Instagram/fb for a bit until she starts whining. Clay lets her out today so I can lay around a bit longer, which is very sweet. I get dressed and brush my teeth groggily.


6:30am: Take Maggie for a walk. Very excited to see that Clay has already pushed out the trash can for trash day.


While on the walk I listen to a podcast. Today, I listen to the rest of a This American Life and start a new Moth. Other podcasts I love are WDW Prep School, Radiolab, Limetown (waiting for the second season!!) and Simplify Everything.


7:10am: Clay is ready and itching to go to work when I get back. He filled Maggie’s bowl and she starts eating. The boys are in bed watching Disney Junior on my iPad. I do a 4  minute crazy workout that makes me feel like I want to die.


7:20am: I head up to the kitchen to unload the dishwasher and put George’s snack/water from the fridge into his already packed camp bag. Clay has already made his coffee, so I put his lunch out (leftovers I packed last night). He informs me that he has a work lunch today and I put it away with a fake huff. 🙂 I kiss him goodbye and he is out the door.


7:30am: Time to tidy. I walk through every room in the house and make sure that everything is put away. This gets done before bed as well, so its generally quick little things. I turn on lights, put ice cubes in my orchids (since its Wednesday) and make the boys beds. Today is not a laundry day, but if it was, I would put in a load.


7:40am: The boys are still watching TV, so I head into my office to get prepped for the day. I get myself some water, take a vitamin, and floss while I look at my email, check YNAB, read the Skimm, and add anything needed to my planner and to-do list that I wrote yesterday before ending my work day. I use this time to shower every other day, but today is an off day.

While doing all that, I also save a caterpillar George finds in the bathroom and chase Maggie down since she has pulled toilet paper all over the bedroom. Puppies, right?

8am: The nanny arrives and whisks the boys upstairs to get ready for their day. I make our bed and get to work.

8:35am: The crew is leaving to take George to camp so I go up and say goodbye, and make my protein shake for breakfast after they leave. I love my vitamix! Maggie settles down for a nap in my office.


10am: After lots of emails and crossing a few things off my to-do list, I break to take Maggie outside. I have meetings from 10:30am-1pm, so need to make sure I’m ready to sit for awhile. I go to the bathroom, refill my water, and stretch a bit.

I check my Wunderlist app for other household to-dos. I order a birthday present for a party this weekend and new sun hats for the boys from Amazon.

1pm: My morning meetings are FINALLY over and I am starving. I heat up some leftovers and have a tiiiiny piece of homemade tres leches cake. Maggie needs her lunch, too. She is a growing girl and eating a ton lately! She also gets a potty break.


I have another block of meetings coming up, so I walk around and tidy up a bit, load the dishwasher, and check the mail. No dice. When I sit back down I call Firehouse Subs to confirm that they are doing kids eat free on Wednesdays, like the internet says.  Victory! We will go there for dinner tonight. George has been asking to go there since he saw it from the road and found out the name.

3pm: Afternoon meetings over. I check the mail again. Its arrived, but its boring. Sigh. There are two boxes, but they are just 2 out of my 8 June subscribe and save items. I love how much money I save using subscribe and save, but its still hard to get excited about miralax and swim diapers. Ha.


4pm: Work day is done. The last thing I do is write my to-do list for tomorrow and update my planner. The boys are having a snack and watching a show upstairs. So begins the hardest/most fun part of my day!


4:30pm: I tidy again, take Maggie outside and get the swimming bag and my kid bag ready to go (since we are going out to dinner after swimming). I take a deep breath and get ready to wrangle the kids into shoes and out the door.


4:40pm: Henry will not get his shorts. He cannot FIND his shorts. Finally, I go up to his room to help him. Shorts on on the floor in front of him. “OH, THERE THEY ARE!” he says.


4:45pm: Maggie in her crate. Boys in the car and off to the pool.


5pm: Get George into his suit and lined up for his swim team picture. It takes FOREVER and is adorable and hilarious to watch the swim coaches handled all those kids. Henry is chillin’ in the pool while all this goes on.


5:30pm: George goes to practice and Henry is still swimming. He makes a little girl friend and shows off for her. He gets out of the pool repeatedly and says: “Mommy, A GIRL!!” and then jumps back in the water.


5:50pm: Adult swim is called and I get Henry out of the water and change him into his clothes. I realize that the kid bag is in the car, so I have no real diapers. I debate what to do with myself for about 5 min before just putting on his shorts. I tell him not to pee.

6:01pm: Henry pees walking to the car. We.were.so.close.


6:05pm: I make the executive decision to drive right by the house and not get Henry another pair of shorts. I’m too hungry and he is two–meaning no pants required.


6:30pm: We eat subs and the boys watch TV. Clay and I chat about our day and alternate reminding the boys to eat.


7:00pm: On the way out the door, Henry realizes he is not wearing pants.


7:15pm: The boys run outside to play when we get home and Clay and I zone out on our phones for a bit. When we come to at 7:45pm we realize that NO it is in fact NOT bath night like we thought it was. Never was. Nope. TOMORROW is bath night. What a team!

8pm: Stories, songs, and tucked into bed. Clay and I settle in and watch some of The Bachelorette on Hulu.


9pm: I set up for my work meeting with Guam. Realize the meeting is actually tomorrow at 9pm. That international dateline is a B. Clay takes Maggie for a walk. I do one last tidy and run the dishwasher.

9:15pm: Bath (with a lavender bomb), then into bed to play some games on my iPad.


9:58pm: I put on hand lotion, chap stick, and drink some water before lights out.


Good night!

WHEW. If you hung in this long, I’m impressed. Hope you had a good day, too! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Puppy Time

I’m not sure exactly how this happened, but we are getting a puppy on Saturday. Clay has been pushing for a dog for years and I have said a very firm NO. But then, I mentioned I could be ready and now he claims that the dog was MY IDEA.

Well, marriage communication issues aside. Maggie is coming. And like a newborn, puppies need lots of prep.

Maggie and her sisters, she is on the far left

My first step was to find a reputable breeder that we could drive to–I’m not into shipping puppies. We (ME) decided to go with a non-shedding variety because of my aversion to dog hair all over my house. I had a standard poodle previously and looooved that she didn’t shed. I’ve heard great things goldendoodles –great with kids, sweet and easy to train. So, we decided that was a good fit for our family.

I did a TON a research and developed a spread sheet of breeder locations, litter timing, and availability. I spent a lot of time on the phone with breeders asking questions about their practices and eventually found one I really liked that also had a puppy available in our time frame. Let me just say–waiting lists are looong for these dogs everywhere–they are popular. We waited about 2.5 months for Maggie. Most litters fill up before the puppies are born, sometimes even before the dogs “honeymoon!”

In the end, everything lined up with Appalachian Goldendoodles. I’ve been very happy with my choice so far–great communication and lots of pictures!

Maggie at 5 weeks

My next step was to to create another excel sheet of to-dos and get going on them. I located and visited a training facility, groomer (goldendoodles are groomed every 4-8wks), boarding facility, and made a list of things we needed to purchase. I made a vet appointment for her the Monday after she arrives and she will begin puppy preschool the following Saturday at Zoom Room.

Maggie’s got a schedule. 😉

Here is what I purchased for Maggie in advance of her arrival. I got almost everything on Amazon. I set up a shopping list and price monitoring since I had so much lead time.

Crate with divider (don’t mind the child):


The crate is on rollers so that she can sleep in our room at night and hang with me in the office when she needs a break from the boys–and especially while we are house training.

Toys (picked out by the boys):


Leash, collar (girly!!) and tag, brush:


Training items (treat bag, treats, clicker):

Clean up:


Food (bowls, outside water bowl, food storage, food):


We are feeding what the breeder fed, Blue Buffalo puppy lamb and rice.

All ready!


And this bag  for her stuff because I HAD to have it:

I can’t wait to see the boys with her! We have set up some rules, but I imagine those will adjust as we see how they handle her. I feel like we have prepared the best we can, but I really have no idea what to expect. I worked at a vet for a long time and was crazy about my previous dog, but the reality is that I haven’t had a dog myself in about 8 years.

This is what I’m taking when we go pick her up: old sheet, towels, treats, her collar/leash, and a toy.


Wish us luck–and send me tips! 🙂

 

Weekend Away Prep

The past weekend we left the boys overnight for the first time together. We had left them individually, but they have always had one parent overnight.

That also means Clay and I hadn’t spent a weekend just the two of us in 4.5 years. It was time!!


My mom and step dad (Nana and Pop Pop) came to Charlotte to stay with the boys for the weekend and I wanted to make it as easy and comfortable as possible for them. The boys ADORE them, so I knew they would be fine emotionally, but the more smoothly things run the happier everyone is!


I did three main things to prepare: meal planning, communicating, and writing it all down.

Meal Planning

Food is clearly the most important part of a weekend. 🙂 I wanted to make sure that my parents had food that was yummy for them, but also appealing to the kids to make meal time smooth. I also wanted to have some variety/options and snacks so that weren’t locked into a certain meal if they/the boys weren’t into it.


I wrote down each day and meals for the weekend and filled it in. I came up with:

Breakfasts:

Cinnamon rolls, eggs, pancakes, cereal

Lunches:

Sandwich fixings, grilled cheese and tomato soup, leftovers

Dinners:

Make your own pizza (lots of adult and kid topping options), taco dinner


They boys also get vitamins, miralax and special milk at meals so made sure I had all of that available and easy to find.

Communicating

I prepped us, my mom (and Chris by extension), and the boys for our time away. Clay and I got on the same page about our plans and I conveyed them my mom early so that she knew what we were thinking, and weighed in with her schedule. She and I walked through the plans a few time on the phone before the weekend even started (this is easy because my mom and I talk almost every day!).

We also talked on many occasions to the boys well in advance so that they would know what was happening, who would be with them, and when we would be back. There were no surprises for anyone in the weekend.

Writing it All Down

This is the most important thing in my mind. I know my mom well, and much like me (surprise, surprise), she likes schedules and plans.I tried to give as much information as possible while keeping it flexible–I was not trying to control what happened while we were away. I wanted them to have options, not feel boxed in. I totally trust them to take care of the boys.

I wrote everything down for them, including: Schedule, Meals options, Contact/Emergency numbers, and local activities they could do with addresses and directions. I gave numbers for Clay’s mom, our cell, and the Greenbrier. I included phone number and address for the pediatrician, our urgent care and ER. Luckily, they didn’t need it!

I also told them where the first aid kit was–and of course with two little boys, they did need that! Haha.

I put all the papers in a plastic folder with my car and house keys, discovery place membership cards, and health insurance card. We left my car with the car seat installed for ease.
While things went extremely well, we still had some bumps. They car battery died, so they couldn’t go anywhere with the boys–but there is plenty to do around here–so they were okay. Other than that, everyone was happy!

The boys didn’t even care when we left, so we take that as a very good sign that everyone was prepared and happy! I walked my mom through everything when they got to our house, but said that she really liked having everything written down and referred to it frequently. 🙂

And we all had a GREAT time.

And look how well rested we are…


What a fun weekend!

(and thank to mom for all the pictures!!)

What’s in My Mommy Bag

My days of a dedicated diaper bag are over, but that doesn’t mean I get to carry an adorable little purse. Far from it. When I’m out with the kids, they got needs. And skinned knees.

Here is what I carry with me when I leave the house with the boys:

The bag itself. I love the soft leather and big interior. I got it a few years ago from Whipping Post.

Inside view. This bag holds a ton!

All the contents!

1. First Aid Kit

2. Diaper tote

3. Water bottles for the boys. George gets blue and Henry gets green in almost everything they own. Makes them easier to grab by sight. And they know which one is theirs, so they don’t fight over them.


4. Toys: Balls, cars, crayons, necklace and book.

5. Snacks! Apple sauce is always there, I usually throw in some crackers, too.

6. Wallet, keys, iphone (with chargers and headphones).

7. Moleskin and pen.

8. Satin hands. Because I am addicted.

9. Mommy supplies bag. Notice how much smaller it is than everything else.

Yay! Now a break down of the little bags.

Mommy bag!

Chapsick, moisturizer, hair stuff, and Advil. That’s my life in a tiiiiny little bag.

First Aid Kit:


The boys always need something when we are out on the town, from skinned knees to Henry’s constantly running nose. So I keep a good supply of stuff.

1. Neosporin foam

2. Kids ibuprofen

3. Boogie wipes (I wish I had stock in these things)

4. Gauze and cleaning pad

5. Hydrocortisone cream

6. Band-aids (super hero, of course)

All packed in:

Diaper tote:

This bag is for Henry. Diapers, wipes, disposable bibs, tissues, and ANOTHER mini first aid kit. Sometimes I only grab this bag if I don’t want to carry the big one.

All packed in:

And that’s what in my bag! I clean it out once a week or so to get rid of receipts, trash and rocks. You heard me. Rocks. Sneaky little buggers. 🙂

What do you put in your mommy bag?

Apple Watch Review

I’m not going to bury the lead here: I love it.

Apple products are my jam, and I’m generally an early adopter. But when the watch came out, I just wasn’t sure I needed it. Or wanted to wear it. I didn’t get it when it first came out and didn’t really miss having it.

Then, amazon ran this amazing special on the Fitbit  last year around my birthday. I still wasn’t sure a wearable was for me, but it was so inexpensive that dropping the $ seemed worth the experiment. I fell in love with the Fitbit–especially that it pinged me when I got a call.

But then the darn thing broke. Right before my birthday…imagine the coincidence…I started looking at the new Fitbits, but quickly realized what I REALLY wanted was the Apple Watch. The rose gold totally suckered me in. And with my YNAB birthdays category, the money was  there (yes, I brought up YNAB again).

 Now that I’m a month in I’ll share what I love and like about the watch (no dislikes here):

LOVE

I love that it pings me when I get a call or text, and I can respond quickly. Its important with kids in childcare to know I’m not missing anything. Also, while working from home, its nice to know if I’m getting a call if I’m changing over laundry or making lunch or something.

I love how it looks and that I can change the face on a whim. I also love how the weather is on the watch face. I use that much more than I thought I would.  I love having a timer on my wrist when I’m cooking.

I love how easy it makes travel. I used it so much on my most recent business trip. My tickets were on it, so my phone could stay in my bag at the airport. All my reservations were in my calendar. I got a reminder about my car reservation and used that to check in. Then, I got in the car, got a reminder about my hotel reservation, opened it, clicked the address and it started driving directions to my hotel. WE LIVE IN THE FUTURE!!!

I love apple pay. I use it whenever I can–I wish I could use it more places.

I LOVE that I can ping my iPhone. Its embarrassing how much I use this feature.

LIKE

I like being able to talk on the phone with it. But its still a little weird.

I like the band. It can sometimes get a little sweaty/sticky.

I like the reminders for email/Instagram/etc, but sometimes its a little much. I turned some of them off.

I like the tapping thing. Its also strange. I’ve gotten used to it, but at first it gave me a creepy feeling.

I like the fitness tracking. Fit bit was a little better in this area. And sometimes I really want to tell it to shut up when it’s all like, STAND UP LAZY PERSON, every hour. EVERY hour.  (I can mute this, but then the guilt creeps in…)  So, those are my thoughts on the Apple Watch. Love, love, love. As a work at home mom, it has helped me so much!

One more thing, this charging station for the iPhone and Watch is a MUST. I love the way it looks, and for 8 bucks, you can’t beat it. 

 

Monthly

I love getting mail–who doesn’t?

So its no surprise that I adore the monthly subscription box trend. I signed up for a few over the years and have stuck with some and not others.

Send me ideas if you get one you love and this I should try! I’m thinking of trying nature box or another snack ones, jewelry/accessory ones I’ve seen on Instagram and kid activity/crafts kits–any suggestions?

Current subscriptions:

*none of these are affiliate links, just stuff I like

The Curated Tee

A lovely kids t-shirt subscription by a friend from Hyattsville. We look forward to these shirts every month. They are so hip–which is especially important now that the boys have such super hip haircuts.  
 I mean, RIGHT?

We Cook Kits

A wonderful kit that comes every month with recipes and tools to encourage cooking with your kids. They even have a sibling addition, which is perfect for our little family (sharing is tough). I love cooking with the boys and have read Jacqui’s blog for years. The kits are also a way that she remembers her son, Ryan Cruz, who passed away in 2014.


 So much fun!

Dollar Shave Club 

I got this for Clay for Christmas–he has really liked having a fresh razor. And the prices are great!

I have done these boxes in the past: Bluum (baby and kid stuff), Citrus Lane (baby and kid–no longer in business), Ipsy (make up) and Birchbox (make up).

Of course, I also do Stitch Fix, but have a whole separate post on that!

Its super fun to get mail–especially for fun things I can do with the boys. Its nice to have activities at the ready for our time together.

Stitch Fix: A Review

I’ve used Stitch fix for several years now and really like it. And now, they are even offering SHOES! And talk about taking help…I was never a big clothes shoppers and after kids? Forget it. My mom is my main stylist–but the woman can only do so much! I usually get 3-5 boxes per year and really enjoy it.

Things I like:

  1. Fast, easy and convenient. Clothes show up at my door when I want them. And our mailman picks up the ones I don’t want at my door.
  2. Great customer service! I had a shirt tear once on the first wear–I just sent it back with my next fix and they credited my card.
  3. Out of my box items (no pun intended). Haha. Sometimes I take items out and I’m like NO WAY. But I try it on and love it. Go figure.

Things I don’t like:

  1. Sometimes I get similar items across boxes.
  2. STOP with the SEE THROUGH SHIRTS. Just stop. Really.
  3. They don’t always address my comments on what I want/need in the next box. And see #2. How many times can I say it to them?

I received my birthday box on Saturday and did a fashion show with photographer Clay when the kids were napping. Here is what I got and my review of the items. I always try on first, then look at the prices to make the final decision.

First up is a pretty teal dress. I was excited about it because of the sleeves (all my current dresses are sleeveless) but I also already have something in this color.

  Once I tried it on, it was a no go. Just wasn’t flattering and didn’t make me feel cute. So still on the search for a dress with sleeves. Also, the price was a little high for me at $118.

Final verdict: Return. 

Next up was this pink blouse. I liked it okay, but already have a pink tank like this from stitch fix. 

ITS SEE THROUGH GOSH DARN IT. Its was also $54.

Final verdict: Return. 

Next up is this studded blouse, jeans and pair of shoes. I loved the color of the blouse right away. I hoped it would fit well. The jeans I wasn’t sure about at first blush because of the top of them. Because, ya know, I’m not pregnant. And the shoes…I had no idea what to think. 

 After try on, I fell DEEPLY in love with the jeans. They feel like yoga pants and make me feel super cute ($78). The top is great and definitely something I would wear in all seasons ($58). The shoes were cute and I liked them more on than I thought–I decided to wait to see the price to make the final decision.

And that made it EASY. At $100 there was no way I was keeping these puppies. I’m hard on shoes and that much for casual shoes that I will be running in the mud with? Nope. Too bad, because they were comfortable and I don’t have anything like them.

Final verdict on the shoes: Return. 

Final verdict on the jeans and blouse: Keep. 

That’s the latest Stitch Fix. I’m really jazzed about the jeans and shirt and I feel like 2/5 ain’t bad. Though I did write ANOTHER note about see through tops. Maybe they will get it this time??

Do you use stitch fix? What do you think?

This post include referral links, opinions are my own.

Straightening Up the Off Kilter

The last few weeks have been tough–and work-life balance has felt quite elusive. I’ve been working a ton and getting up early/staying up late to get stuff done. Henry had surgery which was super scary for mama. Not getting down time make things feel even more overwhelming.

I’ve been turning things in late, on work calls with kids screaming in the background and relied on take out more often than usual. Sent emails to the WRONG person. The house was messier and the kids got less time with me. I tossed and turned worrying about Henry, so was cranky and tired during the day. BUT, while I’ve done a TON of complaining these past few weeks I also need to focus on the good stuff that took the pressure off and made me feel like I could keep going. Its amazing how far a little encouragement can go.

  • Clay watching the finale of the Bachelor with me and totally putting up with me swooning over Ben.
  • A great review and nice comments from my supervisor.
  • My MIL coming over to play with the boys when my work day ran over.
  • Compliments from a colleague I haven’t worked with before–and on a new type of work for me.
  • Henry taking my face in his hands and saying he loves me SO MUCH!
  • My mom listening to me ramble on about everything and nothing.
  • George bringing me a High Five magazine and asking if we can make the project together.
  • A surprise birthday gift from my dad on the front step (helloooo instant pot!)
  • I had SO MANY emails, texts and calls with sweet messages about Henry. Even though I was alone at the hospital (by choice) I felt the presence of our whole community. It really made a difference.

Luckily, things seem to be turning back around, with tasks easing up a bit at work and the surgery behind us. I’m traveling for the next two weeks (San Francisco and Columbia, SC), and then hopefully things will return to a normal pace.  But in the meantime, I’ll keep thinking about the good things. Like these two.

Also, its my birthday this weekend, so can’t complain too much! 🙂

Fresh20 Hacks

In another post I talked about how much I love Fresh20. And I do. Its pretty quick and very healthy.  Initially, it took me about 20-25 min to get dinner done. But even that was a long time with two little guys “helping.” So, I developed some hacks to cut down prep time and get dinner one the table in about 10-15 min of active time.

Fresh20 already does two things to minimize time on busy weeknights: One:  you cook batches of stuff at the beginning of the week and use them in later dinners that week. Its efficient and makes meal prep even easier later in the week. For example, cooking 8 chicken thighs on Monday, and putting 4 in the fridge for Thursday.

Two: Fresh20  recommends doing prep work on Sunday–cutting veggies, cooking noodles, etc. But, I gotta be honest, this just wasn’t happening for me. And that was increasing cook times during the week. And with all the fresh veggies (yay!) there is a lot of chopping (boo!).

Now, I know its called FRESH20 (emphasis on the fresh), but I take help from the store and get stuff that’s already cut up/cleaned. I’m not buying processed foods, but a few little tricks have cut my prep time to a minimum.

Garlic, ginger, other herbs:

I use the pastes. They taste great and I don’t have to chop them up.

Onions:

I hate chopping onions. At first, I bought the pre-chopped ones in the produce section. But they are expensive and went bad pretty quickly. Then, I found FROZEN chopped onions and they are amazing. Cheap and easy to use, they have worked in all the recipes so far. Best of all, no tears!

Pre-cut mushrooms (but few other veggies):

Carrots, zucchini, etc. I cut up myself, but pre-cut mushrooms are great.

Meat modifications:

I get frozen, cleaned and deveined shrimp. I ain’t got time for cleaning shrimp. Plus, gross. I also get meat as ready to cook as possible. I don’t get a lot of frozen meat so I don’t have to worry about defrosting it. Also, I get the meat that is on sale and substitute it for cuts mentioned in the Fresh20 plans (that may be expensive)–for example pork chops instead of lamp chops. It has worked well.

Sometimes, I also make the meat in the crock pot even if it doesn’t call for it to minimize active time.

Also, I substitute things that are cheaper or that I already have all the time–spices, nuts, etc. Its weeknight dinners–doesn’t have to be perfect! The great thing is that Fresh20 tries to use similar things across weeks, since those items are already in your pantry.

Also, there is usually enough for Clay’s lunch the next day, which is super.

These are some of the short cuts I use-would love to hear other ideas. 🙂

The Fresh20 link is an affiliate link. Opinions all mine!

 

 

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