Friday, August 21, 2015

five on friday

How's about a little listicle to ease my way out of the summer blogging slump...


If you follow me on IG {@cheesefiend}, you've likely noticed we recently completed a sort of swim lesson bootcamp.  Living in Texas, swimming is a pretty essential part of summertime survival {plus there's just a lot of open water and pools posing safety risks}, so we knew swim lessons needed to be a priority before school began.  L has always enjoyed splashing around and "swimming" in her Puddle Jumper, but, ever our cautious child, refused to jump into the pool or put her face in the water; her personality is such that I really didn't think traditional swim school lessons {"let's blow bubbles!"} were going to do the trick.  I had two separate moms stop me after watching me try to work with her by myself at the pool and tell me I needed to "call Ms. Cathy."  After a bit of research and three additional recommendations by friends, we signed L up for two weeks of, what I've come to call, Tough Love Swim Lessons with Cathy Vance {here's her website for any Austinites who are interested}. 

I knew the first couple of days would be...uh, "stimulating" {you are basically forking over $300 to this woman purely because she has the balls you do not have to push your unwilling child underwater... there is a lot of crying (the kids) and a lot of mental tallying of potential future therapy bills (the parents)}, but the transformation after four lessons is unbelievable.  By the end of the eighth and final lesson, all the fishy-meatloaves are bawling again, because they don't want "swim school" to be over. 

The girl who wouldn't put her face underwater 3 weeks ago can now swim, face down and eyes open, 20 meters with just one {assisted} breath in the middle.  She dives {starting from the steps} down to touch the bottom of the pool and gather "treasure."  She begs to swim back and forth between adults over and over and over again.  She has perfected straight leg {freestyle-type} kicks and "rocket arms," and knows you use pinwheel arms when you want to swim on top of the water and scoopy-cup arms when you want to swim under water.  She is still wary of jumping off the side of the pool {she'd rather you throw her in or "gimme a little push"}, but she conquered her fear of jumping off a {rather high} waterfall in Ms. Cathy's pool and of going down the water slide.  

She is truly a different child in the pool, and we couldn't be more proud {see also: relieved it didn't totally fucking backfire into pool PTSD}. Most importantly, she is so proud and confident in the water, and lord help anyone who steps foot near our house as you best believe you'll be accosted with pleas to watch "Ms Cathy videos" {sorry, mailman; you're a trooper!}. 


I've had 3 dresses in heavy rotation this summer, and, oddly, each of them are black and white {additionally: super comfortable}.  This embroidered linen shift from Madewell is my very favorite {and the "fanciest" of the bunch}, and is currently on sale.  Perfect for cousin's al fresco foodtruck birthday parties, Trainwreck guffawing, and Thursday night margaritas {and practically every other event I've attended in the last 3 months}. 

Excuse my Post-Margaritas Face

The linen is double lined and thick {in a good way}, and I do believe the black will transition nicely into early fall, but I'm totally considering snagging the white/cobalt version for next summer, as well. In regards to sizing, it's rather roomy and also short {my preferred fit when I'm in fluffy shape}, so size down if you're on the cusp but don't plan on corralling any ankle-biters in this frock. 


This one is majorly lame... but I care not!  I live for a "crazy fridge" packed with drawings and photos.  Stainless steel looks nice {for the seven seconds it's clean before being the baby licks it...again}, but I hate how it isn't magnetized.  I used washi tape on our old fridge, which didn't mark up surfaces too terribly, but I've found something even better... 

UM! Brands Cling Clips use some sort of invisible suction technology I neither understand nor took any time to read about {self-awareness!} to magically stick to your fridge {or any nonporous surface} without adhesive or any kind of residue.  I bought two 3-packs... the ones pictured are organizing crap we have to bring to our new doctors / B's nursery school crap / L's nursery school crap {yay color coding!}; the other three are waiting in the wings for all that adorable handprint art I can't throw away to amass.  


Speaking of school crap, I bought a PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag for L's very first little "class" two years ago, and I love that thing something fierce.  It has gel stiched inside the fabric that keeps food cold for 10+ hours {no damn ice pack to take up space or lose!}, and it folds flat to conserve that valuable freezer real estate.  We've dragged that thing all over the place: it's kept our picnics and snacks cool at the beach, park, zoo, outdoor concerts, while hiking, etc.  It'll even keep a few adult beverages cool while you bop around between tailgate tents. 

I went ahead and ordered new lunch totes for both kidlets {since L's has probably been used 200x, no exaggeration, and is ready to bench-warm as emergency back-up}, and I am loving all the new patterns available on Amazon {L's is "Saturday" and B has "Monsters"}; you could Prime one today in time for school on Monday!  

Gratuitous / Poorly Executed Sibling Photo from B's Meet-the-Teacher this morning


I've mentioned Mystery Show before, yes?  SO GREAT.  There's only six episodes in the first season {yay for renewal, though!}, and they don't need to be listened to in any particular order.  Source Code is my very, very favorite, so I'd recommend starting there, but do what you feel / live your own life, baby! 

Any other podcasts I should definitely be listening to?  Y'all know I'm a CYG and How Did This Get Made addict, and I have a few other, typical-NPR-y streams in my feed {Fresh Air, This American Life, Snap Judgment}, but I could use some new blood!  

Happy Weekending! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Indian Summers with Block Island Organics*

I'm always a bit taken aback when I see the Back to School banners unfurling.  With two kidlets starting at new nursery schools {plural because our move was unexpected and we missed registration deadlines...#fwp}, I suppose we do have a bit of preparatory shopping to complete, but it's more of the "crap, I wonder who still has shorts and tanks in stock for my weed-like meatloaves" than the "yippeeeeeee let's order all the teensy-tiny flannel jumpers singing their siren song from that stack of Fall catalogs" variety. I even had to bite the bullet and buy B a new pair of Natives as the knock-offs I so smugly scored back in May are long gone from Old Navy's shelves and now two sizes too small for his Fred Flintstone feet. 

Yes, with the highs solidly hovering in the triple digits for more weeks than I care to acknowledge, bare arms and legs are likely to remain standard until Halloween candy goes on sale {and there's always those super fun years where we're stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey in cut-offs}.  As I'm dusting off the school totes and busting out the labeling Sharpies, I'm also restocking our sunscreen stash.  Even after the pool shuts its gates come October, slightly cooler temperatures will keep us constantly outside in the sun, and I'm just as nuts about skin protection as I am about a big drippy slab of brie. 

Since L arrived, I've been on a sort of Sunscreen Quest.  I knew mineral-based sunblock is recommended for tiny humans' sensitive skin, and I'd read sprays are horrible for kids' respiratory systems {not to mention often end up unevenly applied}, but wasn't quite sure what else to look for. I'd always used Neutrogena for my own pool and lake days, so that's what I mostly purchased for our brood, dabbling here and there with some other brands as well.  Then, at the beginning of the summer, I read some very troubling things about Neutrogena and promptly switched brands for our beach trip {using the EWG's Skin Deep app as a guide for purchasing clean skincare products -- do y'all know about this?  It's amazing!  I consult it before I buy anything now! Okay, tangent: complete}...where L broke out something fierce in a full-body rash.  Since then, we've tried sunscreens endorsed by badgers and lizards, babies in CA, and one Ms. Jessica Alba.  Each one left something to be desired.  

Then, a little over a month ago, Block Island Organics graciously sent me a freebie sunscreen for our family to try. Before we even lathered up, I was impressed with the company's goals to provide quality, non-toxic sunscreen with total ingredient transparency while educating consumers on skincare science.  I also love that Block Island Organics was family-founded and is now owned primarily by women!  Block Island boasts products that rate super high on the Skin Deep scale, are free of all the nasties that do more harm than good to our skin and overall health, plus everything is vegan and never tested on animals. 3 cheers for my crunchy, bleeding heart! 

After using Block Island Organics {we received the SPF 30} on the kiddos and on ourselves, we are definitely new converts!  The mineral based formula is thick but smooths out beautifully and absorbs quickly.  It definitely stayed put {even during 2 weeks of very hands-on swim lessons!} but I also never felt as if I needed a loofah to scrub it off at night.  The biggest win in my book?  No rashes for my uber-sensitive-skinned girl!  Block Island is now a permanent part of our year-round suncare arsenal {along with my other winning find, Thinkbaby... another great company we love}; I promptly ditched everything else. I've purchased two new bottles to keep us happy and healthy hiking, swinging, splashing, and playing in the coming months!  

Block Island Organics is generously offering EA readers 15% off all purchases made on their site through Monday, August 24, 2015 with the code: katee

You can also purchase Block Island Organics products on Amazon.

* My initial tube of Block Island Organics was a freebie {I purchased subsequent tubes with my own money}, but I received no further compensation nor was I required to post this review in exchange for said sunscreen swag.  Amazon links are affiliate.  Per usual, all thoughts contained herein are 100% my own

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day in the Life: Monday, July 27, 2015

I majorly dropped the ball this quarter and failed to document one of our summer days in time to join Julia et al for the DitL Roundup.  But I wanted to keep the streak alive and really didn't want to skip our first season in Austin, so consider this my catch-up...

Summer 2015: Monday, July 27

Kate is 32
E is 33
L is nearly 3.5
B is almost 16 months

We have lived in Austin for 6 weeks!

12:20 am - I finish watching Pretty Little Liars {Season 4, Episode 3}, because Netflix recently reminded me what excellent taste I have when binge watching. I head up to bed but am not at all sleepy.  My Kindle battery is dead so I read some DitL posts on Julia's blog...and decide to document mine tomorrow {today!}. I all of a sudden remember I forgot to buy Thinkery tickets and order them online.  Fall asleep around 1:15 which is hours later than usual. 

5:24 am - I wake up with a start thinking E slept through his alarm.  He flies to Dallas today {as he does most every Monday now}, and his alarm is set on my phone as his is relatively ancient and showing its age by refusing to sound when the alarm goes off.  But my adrenaline rush is all for naught because there are 16 more minutes remaining until he needs to wake up. 

5:40 am - E's alarm rings and he's up, showered, dressed, and out the door in a major jiffy.  I am back to sleep in an even more major jiffy.  E texts me less than an hour later to say he's through security; I'm pretty sure he bent the laws of physics to accomplish this but I guess TSA Pre-Check helps. I snooze until 7:15, then check my email {notice the BBB has replied to my complaint against our movers - wahoo!}, brush my teeth, and head in to get B and L. 

7:20 am - Both kiddos are ready to rise and shine!  L picks out her underpants and also wants to pick out what B is going to wear {she selects and lays out her clothes every night before bed, so she's already set}.  I change B's diaper while trying to "gently suggest" L not pair green and navy shorts with a red and tan tank top. We settle on the shorts with a Baylor sailor bear tee.  We head downstairs, and L changes into her clothes. 

I toast some bagels, wash blueberries, and make smoothies {almond butter, frozen banana, chia seeds, raw honey, unsweetened vanilla coconut milk} for breakfast. L is still really psyched about the "CVD" {DVD} we won at a little children's concert we attended at the library on Friday, and keeps chattering all about it.  The musical group was called Sugar-Free All-Stars and their music did not make me want to saw off my ears, so I also think it's pretty cool we won free swag.  I text with E, start a load of laundry, and make coffee.  Aaaaand then, because my musical tastes mirror my TV programming selections, we jam out to Fight Song. 

8:15 am - Everyone is done with breakfast.  The kids play while I clean up with kitchen.  L reads the Dallas book I made her before we moved; we read it multiple times a day for the first month after we moved, and I feel like it helped make the transition quite smooth. She hasn't been requesting it as often and no longer requires it in her bed while she sleeps; not sure if that's psychologically symbolic or not? Either way, she seems to be adjusting really well. B mostly jumps on the big leather chair in the play room, runs circles around downstairs with the shopping cart, and generally causes mayhem.   There is a brief sibling tussle over a babydoll juice bottle, and, in the middle of being disciplined, L shouts "LETS PAINT MY TOENAILS" at the top of her lungs... Beauty-Product-Tourettes?  Is that a thing?  

8:30 am -  My mom is here!  She helps get B dressed, I get dressed, and we all load up with fig bars and coffee for the Thinkery. It's Baby Bloomers Monday {ages 0-3 only from 9 to noon} which means a much tamer crowd in the summer. 

9:30 am - We park and head into the museum, kissing / mounting pigs on the way in.  We hit up the photo booth first so L can see her picture up on the rotating collage screen. 

We hit up all the usual hotspots -- giant LiteBrite, the shadow photography, painting on glass, the water area, the farmer's market, and the baby area {which is actually one of L's favorites as she loves to make believe with the stuffed bunnies and carrots}.  New favorites this visit include playing with magnet shards {B}, the chicken coop {both kiddos}, and the toddler gym area {both}.  A kiddie gymnastics company is doing a free circuit in the gym, and B goes nuts for it -- he does the forward and backward roll stations a dozen times.  L is quite partial to the Beanie Baby Balance Beam station. 

I'm so used to taking both kidlets to activities by myself, but it is super nice to have another adult present for these sorts of outings now that B doesn't want to be worn or contained in any fashion; everyone gets to do what they want to do without being forced to stick together the entire time!  Yay for J!  I love living so close to my parents, and not just for the free childcare {although that is an undeniable perk}. 

After a quick snack in the park across the street, we head home around 11:45 am. J sits in the back so B won't fall asleep and spoil his nap; this does not please him. We are home by 12:15 pm and say our goodbyes to J. The minions get a quick lunch of PB&H(oney), fruit, and leftover smoothie. We have our nap/rest {it's always a mystery whether L will actually sleep} routine down pat: I change B and give him a bottle while L goes to the bathroom, gets her Pull Up on, and reads in bed until I come in to turn off her light; she is kind of the bomb at doing things independently now! B and I snuggle during his bottle {I am probably the only idiot parent on Earth who got her one year old addicted to bottles after weaning; the child who'd maybe had a few bottles per month during his first year now gets two per day prior to nap and bedtime}, and I sing Cowboy Take Me Away, The Water is Wide, and You Are My All in All {youth group throwback - hollah!} -- an eclectic mix for a toddler, but I'll take what I can get before the requests for Itsy Bitsy Spider start. I put him in his crib with his "yayas" and stuffed buddies, fully anticipating having to come back in when he tosses everything out and, consequentially, screams his head off.  I kiss L good night and tuck her in for her rest. 

1:00 pm - I pop into our room to make our bed; I shake my fist at the sky because I still cannot find the yellow shams that match our sheets and why were they not packed with the yellow sheets like the blue ones were packed with the blue sheets and WHERE THE FUCK ARE MY YELLOW SHAMS.  {Also? Can I even hang anything over our bed with that random window screwing with my feng shui? #DitLofFirstWorldProblems} After the mental sham tantrum, I clean up lunch and unload the dishwasher while listening to Terry Gross's interview with Jake Gyllenhaal.  My lady-boner for JG leveled up big time after enjoying Mystery Show's "Source Code" episode at 5 am on our drive to Alabama; highly, highly recommend Mystery Show {although... where did it go? It was topping the podcast charts!  And now... nothing!}  This interview is also pretty delightful. 

1:19 pm - I check on the kidlets -- asleep!  And without having to reload B's crib!  I fold laundry, make myself lunch {the cupboards are very bare as we didn't grocery shop yesterday like we usually do; I find some turkey bacon, make a sandwich with the remaining bread heels, toss some blueberries on the plate, and pour the last of the kombucha}, and make a grocery list to tackle after the meatloaves awaken. Call our Dallas pediatrician to ask about transferring records; sit on hold for 9 minutes before I'm transferred to someone's voicemail.  I am ever-so-pleased to be transferring pediatricians.  After leaving a message, I call my top choice Austin pediatrician to see if she's taking new patients... she is! Yay! I get the skinny on the documents I need to fill out before making an appointment and already feel awesome about the switch.  While I'm on the phone, I receive a voicemail from the Dallas pediatrician -- ain't that always the way.  Locate the documents I need to comply with HIPAA and print them out.  Pay my credit card.  Revise my resume and begin filling out a job application for a position I'm super interested in but am not sure is a great fit right now.  I'm still not sure if I'll actually send the whole thing in. 

3:00 pm - L is up.  I grab her some fruit snacks and peanuts and turn on DocMcStuffins.  We hum along together on the couch, and I continue the job application. My bar dues and licensing fees need to be paid and I contemplate switching to inactive status for the millionth time... The majority of the jobs I'm interested in don't even require me to be an active member of the Texas Bar, but it would mentally murder me to hand in my bar card.  But... $600+ dollars in addition to CLE every year... ick.  Put that decision off for another day {again}. B starts fussing at 3:45 and I head up to get him.  On my way, I notice the main kitchen lights won't turn on.  The cabinet lights, island pendants, and breakfast area lights all work so I don't know what the heck is going on.  Pray it doesn't require an electrician as I change B's massive poop diaper. I get B set up with a snack in his highchair and call my dad about the lights. He is on his way home and pops by 10 minutes later.  We fiddle with the fuse box and figure the lights out.  Say our thank-yous and good-byes to T-Pop {again. SO AMAZING to live so close to the 'rentals}.  

4:30 pm - We really need to go to the grocery store, but the kids are playing so nicely.  L has an entire "feast" laid out for Pink Puppy, and B is running circles around downstairs with the doll stroller.  L is like one loop of continuous dialog these days -- it's hysterical. I type up a few notes for this post as they play and give them a 5 minute warning for shopping. 

5:00 pm - We load up and head to HEB.  I really, really, REALLY miss having our little neighborhood Dallas Whole Foods 1.5 miles away, but I am also thrilled to be back in the land of HEBs!  The store is packed, as anticipated, but I make the executive decision to Instacart about half of our list {to be delivered from WF tomorrow} before the small fries stage a coup.  The trip still takes us an hour, including the stop at the Buddy Bucks machine {we wrack up 19 Buddy Bucks - wahoo!}.  E texts me as we're on our way out to the parking lot to say he's boarded his flight home {the "cute girl" is in response to a video of L I took at the Thinkery, not sweet-talk... just in case you were nauseated}. L talks a ton about my sister in law's wedding and her flower girl dress on the way home and it's adorable {"me and Aunt B are gonna have matching white dresses! Does Aunt's B get a tutu on her wedding dress like I have a tutu on my wedding dress?  I'm going to be the flower girl and I'm going to throw flowers and candy!  Are you going to wear a wedding dress, too, Mama?  Is Uncle Shawn (my SIL's fiance) going to come to Aunt B's wedding?" Etc, etc, etc}. 

6:05 pm - I unload the bodies and the groceries.  The kiddos play some more while I put everything away and get the water boiling for their dinner {tortellini}.  We groove to the Pitch Perfect Pandora Station.  L gets physical with the Vitamix. 

6:30 pm -  Dinner for the minis is servied.  B eats everything x2; L eats almost nothing which is odd {FORESHADOWING}.  B drops another diaper load and I take that as my cue to start bath time {I leave my phone downstairs per usual = I forget to take any photos of bedtime}. After playing in the bath for a bit, the kids climb out; diaper / PullUp, lotion, and PJs {L picks out jammies for all!}.  We read Roadwork and Owl Babies in B's room all together.  Then L heads to her room to read while I put B down.  B and I go downstairs because I forgot to make his bottle before bath; I text with K about carpooling to our "girls' night" {ugggg, hate that term, but I suppose it's easily descriptive}, then we head back upstairs.  I feed B his milk and sing {Tupelo Honey, Crazy Love, You Are My Sunshine}.  He gives me a ginormous hug before I set him down in his crib and say goodnight.  

7:15 pm - E came home while I was putting B to bed, and he and L are already 2 books in {they read the Bernstein Bears' Big Move, the Bitty Baby Book, and something else I missed}.  E says L feels hot, and I locate the thermometer.  Her forehead reads 99.5 so I hope she's not coming down with something {SPOILER: SUMMER COLD AHOY}. I go back downstairs to get her a big glass of ice water.  She does seem a bit lethargic and definitely seems exhausted. We sing a few songs and she says she ready to say goodnight {weird, she never says that}.  Lots of goodnight kisses and good juju for a healthy tomorrow {NOPE}.  

7:35 pm - I change and slap on some makeup.  Notice the bathroom lights won't come on...Grrrrrr.  Check the fuse box and it appears Dad and I failed to flip one switch back.  Quick fix!  Chitchat with E for a nanosecond before K picks me up at 7:50.  We head to meet C at The Grove.  Sauv Blanc flights, cheese plates, and happy chatter ensues!  

10:36 pm - Home again, home again... Trash day is tomorrow, and I'm the taker-outter; E is the bringer-inner on Wednesdays.  I lug our big can and two recycle bins out to the curb... why is our damn driveway so long?  I miss our Dallas alley LIKE WOAH. I chat with E who is working on the couch in the living room.  Change into PJs and do the whole nighttime toiletry thing. Return a text from my mom.  Create photo collages for this post, and get my Instacart Cart ready to order tomorrow morning. Read about half a chapter of China Rich Girlfriend and pass out around 11:15 pm. 

{TA DA!}