Five Friday Favorites

It’s Friday! This week, it’s my turn to share my five favorites – I’d love to hear yours as well!

1) Beyond Meat Company – I went vegan for Lent this year and really fell in love with the Beyond Meat company whenever I was craving something meat-y. While I generally try to ensure that we are eating “real” food with minimal processing, sometimes I just really wanted a burger. I’ve had a lot of terrible fake meat products in the past, so I’m always a little wary. Beyond Meat burgers, which are made from pea protein, far exceeded my expectations, and I will definitely continue to purchase them. Recently, Beyond Meat also launched a new product: sausages! While I personally prefer the burgers, Mr. Dolphin said that he liked the sausages better (we tried the original bratwursts and mild Italian sausage flavors). While I’ve also tried their grilled chicken strips and beef crumble, I can’t say that I would recommend those, though.

2) Electric hot water heater – My dad and stepmother have one of these and when we visited them when Lion was 9 months old, we fell in love with it. We could mix some of the hot water with room temperature for instant warm formula, without having to wait for it to heat up (of course, with Panda, I only gave him cold formula). By the time we returned to DC, a package was sitting on our doorstep — a water heater of our own gifted to us after my parents heard us rave about theirs. Since then, we use the water heater on a daily basis for hot brewed tea, instant coffee, matcha green tea, etc. So much better than boiling water on the stove and faster than an electric kettle.

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Toys for Tiny Hands – 8 and 9 Month Olds

Baby Pencil is reaching a really fun age… 9 months! I remember it being my favorite baby period with Toddler Pencil. One very key thing to keeping a 9 month old happy is constantly giving her things to play with in her hands – on the floor, the dining table, the stroller and on my lap.

Here are my favorite “busy hands” activities and toys!


1.) Sassy Wonder Wheel: I really like this toy because it’s pretty slim and easy to travel with. You can suction it to any table or highchair tray, although it honestly does not stick on THAT well. I almost wish I could stick it on with tape because it keeps falling off. However, it’s so cheap that I don’t mind if it lays flat or falls off. Definitely worth grabbing on the go for restaurant outings!


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After-School Routine for Elementary Kids

Turns out routines aren’t just for babies and toddlers. We’ve learned big kids thrive on structure too. When BeBe moved from preschool to elementary school, I had a laid-back approach to how she spent her time after school. But by the second semester that resulted in an over-tired kid and bedtime battles. We established a routine for after school the second half of kindergarten, and it made a big difference. This is the routine we stick to on nights when BeBe doesn’t have activities.

I’m home when BeBe gets off the bus, and the first thing we do is let her eat a snack as quickly as possible. Her school has a short lunch time, and she would rather play with friends than eat all of her lunch, so she’s famished by 4:00.  Once she eats a snack or two, the afternoon goes smoothly. The next step is to go through her folder from school. If we forget to do this, inevitably at bedtime we find the flyer for spirit day tomorrow, and her school t-shirt needs to be washed. Then it’s time to relax and play, outside if the weather is nice. Then it’s inside to take a shower, and by that time she is ready to tackle homework while my husband cooks dinner.

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Five Friday Favorites – May 18, 2018

Hi everybody, I’m up for the five Friday favorites post today! It’s been so fun to read what everyone else is into and I’m excited to share mine as well!

  1. Bath bombs. The boys have been loving these lately! It started when they saw me take out a Lush bath bomb to put in my bath later that night and they wanted one of their own. So I looked up Amazon’s recommended product and purchased them. This pack is vegan and well-priced at 20 dollars for 12 bath bombs. The boys take turns getting to pick one and drop it in to the bath. They love how the water changes color, the unique smells, and all the fizzing.

bath bombs


2. Magazines for kids. My sister gifted us Rick Ranger Jr. a year ago and my mom just gifted us National Geographic Kids. Both Crumb and Chip LOVE reading them, over and over again. In fact, I’d say my two year old pulls it out more often so you really can’t start them too young. They both get so excited when a new issue arrives in the mail and the whole family is learning a ton about animals and nature. Win win.

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The bittersweet of parenthood

Our son recently just turned 18 months! The second year has been interesting, and full of developments and changes. They’re still kind of babies, but also toddlers. I will fully admit that months 13-16 were not my favourite ones. I found that transition period of baby to toddler difficult. My son got 9 teeth in that time period, he screamed a lot as he tried to learn to communicate,  he learned to climb, walk and run and dropped to one nap. There was so much development happening, that it felt like a whirlwind. It was a whirlwind. Don’t get me wrong, there was so much magic and those developments were incredible to observe, but when I look back on the past 18 months, those were the months that felt like they challenged me (and him) the most.

One thing that is so incredibly bittersweet about parenthood is that each stage has something you want to hold onto forever. And something you are repeating “This too shall pass” on repeat.

And now, that we are in the 18-month zone, I find myself favouring this stage and wanting to hold on to so much of it! The explosion of words, the snuggles, the antics, the learning and exploring. It’s so fun!


So at 18 months, what do I want to hold onto forever? What am I excited about moving past? What do I have a love-hate relationship with?

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Selling Our Home

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the biggest reasons why our lives have felt so crazy lately involved the selling of our condo. We put a lot of work and time into finishing our renovations, 90% of which we did ourselves. And by “we,” I mean Mr. Dolphin since I fractured my tailbone in January and was very little help. I’ll focus this post on why we sold and some tips on showing/selling with small children, with a future post dedicated to why/how we downsized plus the move itself.

Why We Decided to Sell

There are a number of reasons we decided to sell our condo. While we really did like the layout of our condo and location (including walking distance to a metro station and just over a mile to the kids’ daycare) and the timing wasn’t totally ideal since we had only been there for four years, there were several reasons supporting our decision to sell.

First, we had new neighbors move in below us about a year ago. The way our condo complex is set up is that there is the ground floor where the one bedrooms and two bedrooms are, then you can walk up one level which is where all the two bedrooms plus lofts are.  We lived on the second floor, in part because we didn’t want noise above us and appreciated the lofted space. Unfortunately, there is basically no insulation or soundproofing between the floors and I’ve heard a lot of complaints (from other parents who all seem to be on the second floor, as well) in our community about noise disruption. Several of our neighbors have kids Lion’s age and noted that their downstairs neighbors also made complaints, so I was happy to know that it’s not like our children were unnaturally loud. Even though we tried to mitigate the noise by discouraging any running or jumping, putting down foam mats in the living room, and trying to spend more time in the lofted space than on our main living level, we still got a lot of complaints from our new downstairs neighbors. Sometimes, they would use a broom to bang on the ceiling, other times they would text me to complain about the noise and they also left a somewhat nasty note on our doorstep. We felt like we were constantly walking on eggshells, even outside of community quiet hours which was stressful for us and for our kids. What really sealed the deal for me was when I got a text on Christmas Eve that basically said, “We know that this time of year can be exciting for children, but please try to keep the noise level down tomorrow” (we also got a similar text on Thanksgiving Eve). I felt like our kids weren’t being allowed to enjoy their own home and I hated being in our condo because I was constantly worried about the noise, even when they were just walking around.

While I do think we would have stayed in our condo longer if our new neighbors hadn’t made so many complaints, it wasn’t a forever home for us. I never liked how much we were paying in our monthly HOA fees ($400+/month) and we had talked for awhile about trying to get a house or a townhouse with a lower HOA, so that more of our monthly payment would go toward principal rather than to association fees.

Additionally, at some point we do want our kids to have access to a yard, if possible.

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A Prince at a Princess Party

It seems that Toddler Pencil was meant to be surrounded by females. That was one reason why I figured he would have a baby sister! For some reason in 2014, there was a wave of baby girls born and he seemed to be the only boy. So for most of his 4 year old life, he’s spent hanging out with my friends’ daughters. It worked out pretty well so far, since he’s not your typical rough and tough little boy. But I knew there would be a day when the whole gender thing might be an issue.

We were invited to our first princess party (Beauty & The Beast) and I suggested having Toddler Pencil come as a prince – the mother of the birthday girl loved the idea! So hence, began my first craft project in creating a prince costume.


Let me start by saying I don’t have a sewing machine or any experience sewing or making costumes. At all. So here begins the process! I’m more of a trial and error gal, even though there are wonderful instructions online. I basically went off of this Pinterest picture to create a prince costume from Beauty and the Beast. (The birthday girl was going to be Belle.)

I knew it was not going to look nearly as professional as this, but I realized that you can modify certain things and a pretty similar look! I gathered the following:

  • skinny black jeans
  • white collar shirt
  • a blue blazer (of mine)
  • 1 yard of gold fabric ($4.99 at Joann’s)
  • 1 yard of lace ($2.99 at Joann’s)
  • heat bond adhesive ($3.66 at Amazon)

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