Five Friday Favorites – April 20, 2018

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m excited to share some of my favorite things with everyone today. I’ve been thinking about what exactly to share because there are so many things I’m loving right now, so hopefully these give you some inspiration and excitement too.

  1. CookSmarts. Two years ago, Mrs. Octopus put up a post about CookSmarts, a meal planning service that provides a weekly meal plan tailored to your needs. I’ve generally been weary of meal services with pre-packed ingredients like Blue Apron, but I’ve been looking for inspiration in my own kitchen, and Mrs. Octopus’s post was perfect. I signed up for CookSmarts that day, and it has been the best $8/month I have ever spent. My husband is a lifelong vegetarian, and a picky one at that, so I’ve always struggled to figure out what to cook for our family. Before CookSmarts, our repertoire was limited to bean-based dishes and pastas, but with the CookSmarts plan, every week I get 4 different recipes that are automatically set to vegetarian, so there are a ton of options in a wide range of cuisines (Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, you name it) with great meat substitutes like tofu, which my husband refused to eat before I started using CookSmarts recipes. I save meals that seem interesting, try them out, and if we don’t like them, I can delete them, but I think that’s maybe happened once or twice at most in the two years I’ve been using this service. My recipe box is currently up to 80 different dishes and growing, our dinners are much more varied now than they ever have been, and CookSmarts sends out a ton of great kitchen organizing and meal prep tips as well. I can’t recommend this service enough!
  2. Chia seed pudding. While we’re on the subject of food, I want to tell you about chia seed pudding. I am a morning person, and as such, I need to have a hearty breakfast to keep myself going through the day, but I don’t like eating first thing upon waking up, so I usually eat breakfast at work, a couple hours after I’ve been up. I love eggs and various savory breakfasts, but unfortunately I don’t love them reheated, which makes it tough to have those options at the office. So I tend to stick to oatmeal and bagels, but it’s been obvious that those options don’t satisfy me as much, so I’ve been on the hunt for protein-heavy breakfast options that also work well for my schedule. Chia seed pudding fits that bill perfectly. There are a ton of recipes you can Google and Pinterest, but mine is super simple: 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt (I use either Fage 0%, which has much more protein than most other yogurt, or Skyr, the Icelandic yogurt that’s also very protein-rich), and 1/2 cup of regular milk (for protein, and also to dilute the heaviness of the yogurt). In all, this recipe has about 20 grams of protein, which is hard to find in a non-savory breakfast. Stir that all together and let sit overnight, ideally. Pro tip: take the pudding out about an hour after you put it in the fridge and stir it. The chia seeds expand and form a gel-like texture (I swear, it’s delicious despite how that sounds) and tend to settle to the bottom, so if left that way overnight, the bulk of the pudding will be on the bottom, with a layer of milk on top. Stirring it as it starts to thicken helps make it more even as it expands. To this base, you can add any kind of customization – cocoa powder for chocolate, sweeteners that you like (I use a bit of agave), berries, fruit, granola, you name it. I find that this pudding keeps me pretty full through the morning, the way a more savory, protein-based breakfast would, and it takes me all of 2 minutes to make it the night before and stick it in the fridge for the next day.IMG_6362
  3. TOMS shoes. Now that it’s finally getting warmer here in the DC area, I am most excited about breaking out my TOMS collection again. And I am not exaggerating when I say “collection.” About 8 years ago, I was lucky enough to work for an organization that partnered with TOMS for a charity project as they were just becoming a household name. As a thanks, TOMS sent everyone on our team a pair, and I was immediately hooked. At the time I was working a job where I was on my feet a lot, and these shoes basically conformed to my foot, and thus they were great to have during pregnancy and beyond as well. Since then, I’ve gone through 3 pairs of the TOMS classic red slip-ons, because they pair so well with such a wide range of outfits that I wore them out, and a few different pairs of blue slip-ons (I’ve had stars and polka dots and there are always new styles coming out). Based on my wardrobe, I’ve also acquired some various fun patterns and colors, and currently have 7 different pairs in my closet (told you I wasn’t exaggerating!). A current favorite is this super-soft pair of rose-patterned espadrille-like slip-ons (it doesn’t look like this exact pair is still available, but here are similar options!) that looks great both with jeans and work clothes. Unfortunately I haven’t had much luck with their other shoes – I tried some sandals and they were a bit tight on my wide foot – but I’m a slip-ons fangirl for life. (Editor Note – You can get $15 off $75, $20 off $100, or $30 off $125 on your purchases on TOMS official site today using the code “SAVEMORE”, plus 4% cash back using Ebates!)
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Stocking Up at the Sephora Spring Bonus Sale!

The Sephora Spring 2018 Bonus Sale started last weekend for VIB Rouge members and continues this weekend for all Beauty Insiders. Here are all the details:

  • Sale runs from Friday, April 20th, through Monday, April 23rd
  • Rouge ($1,000 spend) & VIB ($350 spend) receive 15% off everything online and in-store
  • Insiders ($0 spend) receive 10% off everything online and in-store. You can sign up to be an Insider for FREE on Sephora’s site.
  • Use codes YAYROUGE, YAYVIB, or YAYINSIDER to receive discount online – code may be used more than once during the sale
  • Exclusions include The Ordinary items, gift cards, and PLAY! by Sephora subscription boxes. You’re also limited to the purchase of 1 Dyson item and 3 Drunk Elephant items per transaction.
  • You can add anything you want to your cart now so you’re ready to check out as soon as the sale goes live on Friday!

If you’ve been thinking about stocking up on any beauty products at Sephora, now (well, this weekend) is definitely the time!

I am most definitely not a product guru and my beauty routine is very minimalist, if occasionally non-existent, these days with 3 tiny kids, but I am excited for this sale to restock some of my favorite products and try some new ones.

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Sometimes It Takes a Whole Year

I first shared about potty training my oldest son in this post. And then I talked about it again a few months later. Well, it’s been 11 months, almost one full year since we started, and I’d say we are only now able to declare success and that success is still about 85% of the time. I’ve been told many times that every difficult aspect of parenting is just phase that will eventually pass. I heartily agree with this statement, and it normally brings me great comfort, but this has been one of the most challenging phases I’ve experienced and one I shall NEVER forget.

Ultimately the only thing that helped us get from point A to point B was TIME. Our 3 year old was simply not ready to potty train when we started him. Looking back I wish we would have abandoned ship early on, but we felt torn because everything we’d read said not to go backwards, we knew he was starting preschool soon, and we knew he understood the concept. We knew this because our son was choosing to go in the toilet every once in a while when it was convenient and/or benefited him. For a short time at the beginning, I might even say we were mildly successful with potty training. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, be it emotional, mental, or behavioral, our child would not use the bathroom on his own. He did not care about soiling his underwear, and basically stopped all progress for many, many months. I lost track of how many times we tried sticker charts, treats, toys, and other bribes. We’d have a couple of good days only to lose momentum after he achieved his goal.

I tried to be positive for most of the year, but I was constantly feeling defeated. I don’t know how many times I had to (or at least tried to) hide my tears of frustration while texting my husband, “That’s it! We’re putting him back in diapers! I can’t do this anymore!” For a time there, the quality of my day was based on how many times I had to clean poop from my preschooler’s clothing. I soon learned my limit was 1 time, and that by the second or third time I could barely keep it together. To say I was frustrated would be an understatement. On average we went through 4 to 8 pairs of underwear a day.

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A Final Pacifier Goodbye (For Real This Time. Really.)

At the end of November last year, I wrote a celebratory post. At a very ripe age of 4 and a half, my kid finally ditched the pacifier! I’d written extensively about Baby C’s pacifier use, but mostly in the context of her sleep issues – mainly, taking a very long time to settle down to sleep and going to bed very late. We had tried, failed, and gave up for years to be rid of the paci; until over Thanksgiving last year, it seemed that Baby C finally ditched it herself.

Except – I spoke too soon with that post. At the end of the week after Thanksgiving, I went to California to visit some friends, and my husband reported that Baby C was taking longer and longer to fall asleep without the pacifier. He had resisted giving it to her, and over the time I was gone, she was going to bed close to midnight, tossing and turning most of the time prior to finally giving in to sleep. We decided to wait it out some more, and gave it another few weeks, but, at the end of December, we finally gave up and gave in. Baby C would take hours to fall asleep, tossing and turning, talking nonstop, and getting upset about her inability to settle down, and we were miserable because we weren’t going to sleep while she was up.

I’ve long been a believer that kids grow out of comfort needs objects at their own pace, but the pacifier has been a thorn in my side, even though she was only using it to fall asleep at night, and then we’d take it out for the rest of the night. She had never really used the paci during the day, even as a baby, but it’s been a sleep crutch since she was tiny, especially with her tendency for hyperactivity toward the evening hours. As we crossed her 4th birthday, I thought for sure we’d be free of it that year (and frankly, I had told myself we better be, hell or high water, even though I’d made the same resolution after her 2nd and 3rd birthdays too). When she seemed to do without it naturally over Thanksgiving, we had declared victory, but her sleep biology hadn’t yet caught up enough for a complete surrender.

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Link Roundup – April 15, 2018


Here are a few interesting parenting articles to read if you’re stuck inside waiting out Winter Storm Xanto like much of the U.S.!

Should We Speak to Little Boys as We Do Little Dogs? via The New York Times

Newborn Nearly Dies in Car Seat After Sitting in Traffic via Mom.me

How Well Do We Understand the Tech Habits of Parents via The Atlantic

YouTube Is Improperly Collecting Children’s Data, Consumers Groups Say via The New York Times

Philly School’s New ‘Calming Room’ Offers Yoga Mats, Drawing, and a ‘Brain Break’ via WhyY

Why Girls Can Be Boyish but Boys Can’t Be Girlish via CNN

Parenting Doesn’t Matter via Slate

What have you been reading lately? 

Participating in a Mom Focus Group

One fun thing I did recently was participate in a parent focus group for a large toy company! I had some free time in the morning so I decided to do something out of the ordinary and was selected to be in the group for moms who had babies in the range of 0-12 months old. They encouraged us to bring in any technology type of device that we were currently using.

When I arrived at the meeting, I greeted the other moms in a mirrored room. I immediately got along with the first mom sitting next to me, who had her second child just a couple months ago. We were a pretty diverse group of moms:

Me: 4 year old boy, 6 month old girl
Mom 1: 3 year old boy, 2 month old boy
Mom 2: 2 year old girl, 2 week old girl
Mom3: 4 month old boy

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Five Friday Favorites – April 13th, 2018

Hello, and Happy Friday!! I’m so excited to share with you all some of my current favorites. I had so many – it was hard to whittle them down to just five, but here they are!


1/ The Amope Pedi Perfect Rechargeable Foot File – I have to admit I’m somewhat of an oddball in that I don’t love getting pedicures.  I get restless sitting there for an hour, and I can think of a million other things I’d rather do with that hour, but I love the soft, nourished feet I get at the end of it all.  This Amope rechargeable foot file gives me that smooth, callous-free feet I desire so much in one convenient package. I’ve tried other foot files and pumice stones in the past, but the results haven’t come close to what the Amope does for me. I haven’t gotten a professional pedicure in over 6 months, and with this by my side, I may never need to again.

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