Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It's not their fault...

Once upon a time there was a young woman and a young man living together in college. They shared a love for animals and one day they bought a kitten. They loved the kitten so very much and as he started to grow they thought it would be a good idea to buy another little kitten to keep him company. That's just what they did!

These two cats became the best of friends and the young couple was in love with their little furry family. So why not keep the merriment going? A dog was next.

A rambunctious, 11 month old pup rescued from the shelter. She immediately solidified her spot in their family... although the young woman took some time to warm up to their new addition. After the dog's crazy puppy behavior, running away, and chewing ALL. THE. THINGS. came to an end, the woman came around and accepted that this was their dog.

Just as things settled down in their college townhouse (Oh, yeah. Did I mention they all lived in a tiny townhouse?) the delusional happy couple decided, "what's one more?" And they got themselves another cat.

Yup. You read right, there were now two humans, 3 cats and 1 dog all living together like one big happy farm family.

Life was good. Life was fun. Life was letting the cats be indoor/outdoor as they lived near the foothills of their college town. Life was weekend trips to the dog park to let their lovable dog get her never-ending energy out. Life was also chasing after the stupid dog up the aforementioned foothills, in flip-flops, in the summer because she ran away. Chasing after her in thigh-high snow during one of the biggest snow storms Colorado had ever seen, because she ran away. Apologizing to the mommy group at the dog park when our pup placed a dead bird at their feet. Explaining to college professors that the dog literally ate the homework, and the course text book, and the project that was due next week.

But I digress...

I know you are supposed to live your life with no regrets but I just have to say if I could go back in time and get a do over there are a few things from my college years that I would do differently. One of them would be getting all these animals.

I love them all (even the dog on good days) and they've been with us for 12 years now. They each have unique stories and anecdotes to share. They all look very unique and have their quirks. They love us. They love our children. We are a family.


I mentioned that we are going to be moving. Unlike most people our age and with two young kids we actually aren't upgrading, we are downsizing. There are legit reasons for this but the only thing you need to know is we are blessed to be living in a current home with a ton of space. More than enough space for two adults, two kids, and four pets. But the reality is that our new place will probably not be as spacious.

Hubs and I were talking about this last night. We just can't keep up with the four of them any longer. You guys, we have FOUR LITTER BOXES for three cats! Keeping up with the cleaning of the boxes on top of the mess they make around the boxes is a nightmare. Not to mention the smell. Our current place allows for them to be plenty far away from our living areas so it isn't a problem. But we can't count on that where we go next.

We think we are at a place where we really need to downsize our pets.

This is hard for me to type and hard for us to admit. We were sure when we were in our early twenties that we knew what we were doing having this many animals. We would get so defensive and upset when we'd hear how crazy we were. And now? Now I have the lovely job of saying "you were right" to our parents and close friends that shook their heads at us and probably knew that we'd get to this point one day.

It makes me sick because it isn't their faults. Our pets have done nothing wrong and they are happy. But our reality is that it is just too much and it is time. We will begin searching for a good "forever home" for two of our cats. We will NOT give them back to a shelter. It is just not an option.

I'm sad about this but we aren't college kids any more making decisions on a whim and flying by the seat of our pants. We are adults and we have to make decisions based on what makes the most sense for our future, our financials, and our family. Even if the decision isn't ideal.

My biggest fear is that no one will want them. Adult cats aren't as appealing as kittens. If we cannot find good homes for them we will all stay together. Like I said, giving them to a shelter would just break our hearts.

So here we are. I hope we are making the right decision and I hope we can find someone who will love our cats as much as we do. They are good, sweet cats and deserve a good home. Maybe we'll even find someone who would take them both? Who knows.

I feel like a terrible person. Like I said, this is a very hard decision to make. Plus, when it really comes down to it we may just be all talk and not be able to say goodbye to two of our little guys (and yes, we've decided which two will go).

This new house thing is going to be an adventure and I'm really hoping that the whole experience won't feel this sad.

Have you ever had to give away a pet? Are there any poor choices you made in college you'd like to have a do over with? And I just have to ask... If you live in Colorado, do you want a cat?  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Frivolity

The alarm went off this morning and I had to fight every urge not to react like this...


As my coffee wears off I will look like this in our team meeting...

But come 5 o'clock...


Thursday, January 23, 2014

There is no "I" in my working mom story

I joined a virtual book club recently and I'm painfully behind on the book. The group is wrapping up on it next week and I'm still on chapter 7 of 11. To that I say Holidays... then life... then finding time to read. Even a chapter a week was too hard for me to squeeze in!

Anywho, we are reading Lean In. Oh, how I'm loving it! At times I shake my head and wonder how my humble life compares to that of a Harvard grad and currently the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. FACEBOOK for crying out loud! But once I get over that it is clear working moms, at any level, have many relatable characteristics and paths.

Yesterday I read a chapter about making your partner your real partner. I found myself nodding along as I read and giving myself a huge pat on the back for having done just that.

I often hear the phrase, "I don't know how you do it." With the "it" being the work/life balance as a working mom. The answer is simple. You see, I don't do "it." There is no I in my working mom story. I am part of a WE and if it weren't for my husband, I wouldn't be able to do what I do.

I am able to get myself and two kids out the door by 7:15am because my husband is there to help me. Between the two of us my husband has more flexible hours and tries to pick our kids up early each day to minimize their time away from us.

When I walk in the door from work my husband has given each of our kids a snack and has them entertained while he cleans all of the day's bottles and may even have dinner already started. Of course that's on a seamless evening and when there are curve balls he's handling them.

When I pull in the driveway on a trash night, the trash has already been taken out. If I'm making dinner he's spending time with the kids and vice versa. When it's bath night we bathe the kids together. Either with both kids in the same tub or we take turns with one kid in, one kid out. But we're doing it together.

My work also requires some travel (maybe twice a year) and client events that occur in the evenings or on the weekends and guess who's at home with the kids? When daycare is closed on MLK day and I have to work? Dad to the rescue.

We take turns making dinner, we play together with our kids and we rotate which parent takes which kid up to bed. We take turns getting up in the middle of the night if it applies and some nights we're up together because it is apparent that it's a two person job.

WE do the chores, WE do the grocery shopping, the errand running, the parenting, all of it. It is an even playing field after all. My job may have stricter hours and less flexibility but my husband still puts in 40+ hours a week himself. So why would I expect him to do more or less of anything? Why would he expect that from me?

Furthermore, he is the #1 supporter of my career. He has been there for every success, he listens when I need a good venting sesh, and he's been a shoulder to cry on when I've needed it. I have supported him in the same way.

We are in fact true partners.

We aren't perfect, please don't take this as a humble brag about how we've got it all figured out and aren't we so stinking awesome. Sure our partnership is something I'm proud of but most importantly as a working parent it's something I know is essential for our family's success.

Lastly, it takes a village and my husband and I are also lucky to have so much family near by to help us when we are unable to take off work or if we just simply need a break. We are grateful to our family for their un-ending support.

So, "how do I do it?" With the help, support, the friendship and the love of my partner. We work hard, we parent even harder, and we do it together.

Is your partner the same way? How do you juggle the work/life balance as two full-time working parents? 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Where will you lead me next?

You see that golf club over there? It's not actually a golf club. Oh, no... it's Little C's trusty steed! He gallops into the living room where I'm sitting with Baby D-Nut and he announces that he's riding his horse to the farm.

Me: "What is your horse's name?"

C: "Procket."

Me: "Procket?"

C: "No, mom. SP-rocket."

Me: "Oh! Sprocket. Nice."

Before I know it there is a second golf club making its way into my hand. "This is your horse, Mom. His name is Rusty."

Me: "What about baby sis? Does she get a horse?"

C: "Here you go sis! Your horse's name is Junie."

We are then instructed how to properly ride our horses and ordered asked to escort Cowboy C to the farm. But wouldntcha know, on the way to the farm there is a giant spider in a giant web that wants to eat our horses!!! ::gasp::

Cowboy C protects us all by using his remote control "trouble ray" to knock the spider off of the web and scares him away. We are grateful for our fearless leader's quick thinking!

We continue on our journey to the farm and have to take a detour upstairs to the desert. It is a brief visit because our horses get very thirsty and need to find a watering hole to get something to drink. Plus, there is a skeleton in the desert and Cowboy C says it is too scary for Baby D-Nut and we should leave immediately.

We make it to the watering hole and let Sprocket, Rusty and Junie have a rest and a drink. They don't get much of a break though, Cowboy C runs a tight ship and we need to make it to the farm before sundown.

Finally, the three weary riders reach the farm. The motherland! The horses, Cowboy C and his traveling compadres are all very happy. C then proceeds to build us a tower of blocks campfire and he asks if we know any campfire songs. I lead us through my repertoire.

Just as we finish our last song we hear an alarm throughout the farm. It's dad calling us for dinner. All at once our world shifts. The campfire is nothing more than smokey ashes and I find myself back in the living room stepping over a tower of blocks, three golf clubs and a remote control to join my family at the table for dinner.

Until we meet again, Cowboy C!

Or is it Fire Captain C? Pirate C? C-Rex?

Where will you lead me next?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Go-To Baked Ziti Recipe

I can't believe I haven't shared this recipe with you sooner!! It is crazy-good and super easy. I typically make it on a Sunday and instead of using a large 9 x 13 baking pan, I will split it in two small square pans and freeze one for a quick and easy weeknight meal another time.

It is very kid-friendly and with the spinach worked in there you feel good giving it to them. If you, or the kiddos, don't like onions you can leave them out or use a shallot which is more mild.

Fun Fact: Little C is our picky eater in the house and this was one of the first meals we made that wasn't a chicken nugget or hot dog that he actually enjoyed! For the sake of full disclosure, we told him they were "finger noodles." Meaning we let him put his finger through the tube-like hole in the ziti and he could bite it right off of his finger. Sounds ridiculous but it worked and he ate his whole plate and has ever since! Of course the "finger noodle" novelty wore off and he eats it like a proper human using a fork, but we still to this day call the recipe "finger noodles" at our house. Just thought it was worth mentioning if you are struggling with a picky eater yourself. ;)

You can also make it vegetarian and omit the sausage. You can use whole wheat pasta and fat-free or skim ricotta to make it healthier. I still use regular mozzeralla though, because the low-fat cheeses never melt just right.


Baked Ziti with Spinach and Italian Sausage

  • 12 oz uncooked pasta such as ziti (or rigatoni works too)
  • Approx 4 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 16 oz sweet Italian sausage 
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (or 1/2 of a large onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil (2tbsp fresh basil if you have it)
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 8 oz fat-free ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella 
  • olive oil cooking spray 

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with oil spray or two square pans if dividing.

In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta according to instructions until just shy of al dente. Drain and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, brown the sausage and once it's cooked remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

In the same saucepan add olive oil and sauté the onion until it is translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrent. Add chopped spinach, salt pepper and crushed tomatoes. Season with basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

Add sauce and the cooked sausage to the large pot with the pasta. Add half of the mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and ricotta. Mix well then transfer to the baking pan(s).

Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared pan(s) and spread evenly. Top with the remaining mozzarella.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until mozzarella is melted and the edges are lightly browned. Let it cool 5 minutes, then cut it into 8 equal portions.

Ovens may vary. I like to cover mine with foil for the first 15 minutes then cook the remaining 15 minutes uncovered to keep the cheese from getting too browned.

This can be made up to a day in advance and stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

If dividing in two square baking dishes one can be frozen. Thaw the dish prior to preparing and cook the same way.

Source: Adapted from - Skinnytaste

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fizzled and Faded

Back in July I started the #12ThingsILoveAboutMe concept. The idea seemed like a good one and people were on board and excited to participate. So I kicked things off by explaining why I wanted to do this in the first place and every month after I posted something new that I loved about myself.

I stopped right before the half-way mark. I'm not proud of quitting and I'm struggling with whether or not to keep going. I thought that since it was my idea that I should be able to commit to the whole exercise and maybe, just maybe, inspire someone else to participate along with me.

A number of people joined in at first. Right out of the gate I had a huge response and thought it could really be something great. But then I slowly was left standing on my own declaring what I loved about myself and instead of feeling empowered and motivated to keep going I felt silly and completely narcissistic.

I know the idea of the exercise is not to be narcissistic but instead to give people who self-loath and don't appreciate themselves the ability to embrace their uniqueness and actually learn to love the person they are on the inside and out.

When I picked 12 as the number of "things" to share it seemed so easy. Twelve isn't a huge number and coming up with something once a month didn't seem like it would be a stretch.

Boy was I wrong!

It was a lot harder than I imagined it would be to shout out "things" I love about myself. It was hard coming up with something different each time and furthermore it was hard coming up with things that didn't sound superficial and petty.

But that was the point. It didn't matter if it was superficial and petty or profound and serious. The point was to feel unashamed about loving ourselves. It is clear to me now that I do still struggle a great deal with letting go of insecurity. The exercise started to make me feel a bit vulnerable and that is something I have a very hard time with.

As December 12th crept up I wasn't in a very positive mood for whatever reason and I felt that I would be forcing out something I loved about myself instead of really believing it. I didn't want to be fake so I just let the day come and go and made no reference to it whatsoever. Same thing with January.

So here's the thing... I still feel like the concept was good. I feel like the meaning behind the whole thing was good. Maybe I'll pick up it up again and maybe I won't. But even though the #12Things has fizzled and faded away, it wasn't completely a lost cause.

I'm proud of myself for even approaching CaitlinHTP with the idea in the first place. She is someone I truly admire and never thought a blogger of her caliber would have such a positive response to this concept. Seeing my name and face on her blog and having her enthusiasm behind #12Things was a huge accomplishment.

The second thing that didn't make this a lost cause was the fact that I did put myself out there and shared a few things that I love about myself without any shame. Of course as I mentioned earlier, I started to feel a bit silly and I suppose shameful for doing this but that's because old habits die hard. Shaking my negative self-image will continue to be a process for me and one that I truly hope has an end point. I thought I was nearing the end and I have days and even weeks where I think I'm finally comfortable in my own skin then... poof! I'm right back to struggling once again.

I'm a work in progress. I'm okay with that. I'll keep trying and I will keep pushing myself to feel vulnerable and work through it. Even if I am standing on my own with an idea I feel passionately about it should not deter me from stopping. I will continue pushing myself to share ideas that I have and not be ashamed to do so as well as sharing and probably most times, over-sharing, my thoughts and feeling with all of you.

#12ThingsILoveAboutMe is officially hibernating for the winter. Maybe not gone forever, just sitting in the wings waiting for the spark of inspiration it deserves.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Baby Donut's 1st Birthday Recap

**Warning: this is a longie. I thought about breaking it up but then felt like all I've been talking about is D-Nuckles bday for-ever and that I should just get on with it already. So here is my long post on my baby's special week. Thank you for letting be beam and brag. :)

Baby D-Nut is 1!!! 

We've had so much fun celebrating our sweet girl and it all started on Jan 5th. We had her big shin-dig planned for the 11th but thought it would be nice to get the "core group" together for a quiet celebration the day before her birthday.

We had our parents and siblings over for appetizers and cupcakes. After my last baking debacle I'm happy to report the cupcakes turned our wonderfully! The cake itself was pretty dry but overall I thought they were pretty damn good! ::pats self on back::

Her actual birthday was Monday, January 6th. Hubs and I took the day off so we could spend a special day with our girl. We did the same thing when Little C turned one and if you are a working parent, I highly recommend taking that day off yourselves. Sure you can be together on a weekend, but there is just something extra special about having a day off with your kid during the week. I'm not sure why it's different, it just is. (This deep thought brought to by yours truly. I'm here all day, people)

We did send C off to daycare and at first we were feeling all kinds of guilty about not having him with us. But then we reminded ourselves there will be days where Baby D-Nut is at daycare/school and we will be spending special time with C. Being together with all four of us is great but carving out special time for one-on-one days with each kid is going to be something we'll try to do from time to time. Do you do the same with your kids?

Baby Donut's actual birthday started off with her Wellness visit at the Pediatricians. She is healthy as can be and is in the 35% for height, 50% for weight, and 60% for head circumference. The only bummer was she had to get shots on her bday. #sadface  

We also kept up with tradition and took her to the Downtown Aquarium just like we did with C when he turned one. She loved looking at all of the fish and all the kids were back in school after the holiday break so it wasn't too crowded at all. We took our time and even did two full laps around the place to let her explore to her heart's content. 


Watching the stingrays swim overhead 

It really was an awesome day! The birthday girl did start to seem a little off from the shots she received. She ran a low-grade fever on her way to bed but in the middle of the night she threw up in her crib and her temp was near 102. We still aren't sure if it was the shots or if she happened to get a 24 hour bug, but I stayed home on Tuesday with her and I didn't mind one bit! My PTO on the other hand... ouch.

That brings us to the big party!!! We did a breakfast and pajama theme and it was a huge hit. The party was at 10am and everyone who was there seemed to love being in their comfy clothes and getting a good meal to start the weekend off. No one seemed bothered by an early start time on a Saturday and in fact it seemed perfect because everyone could still have a full weekend. Plus, the kids were bright-eyed and bushy tailed and in very pleasant moods. Good all around!

Our menu: Breakfast burritos from a local favorite (hot, mild, and some with just eggs and cheese), cereal, mini quiches (store bought), sausage bites (made the night before, super simple recipe), fruit, and baby donuts (because, obviously). We had cupcakes for our guests and a smash cake for the bday girl. When it comes to mass quantities I leave baking to the professionals. 

There you have it! What a wonderful year it's been and what a wonderful little girl we have. 

Baby Donut, we love you! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Can't talk now...

I'm planning a 1st birthday party for Saturday with 40+ in attendance.

It's at my house so... ALL. THE. CHORES.

Little C has been battling a gnarly head-cold/cough and we are crossing our fingers we're nearing the end of it.

Baby D-Nut was sick on  Tuesday and hasn't been sleeping through the night all week so we are also crossing our fingers that we're nearing the end of that as well.

All lunch breaks this week have been spent zipping around town running multiple errands in 60 minutes or less. So far all have been successful!


I'm so excited for the party!!! I can't wait to celebrate D-Nuckle's special day with all of our family and friends. And after it is all over you better believe this will be me...


Still to come will be the last "Baby Update" from our girl's first year as well as the deets on her party.

Catch ya later!