Friday, April 21, 2017

Sayulita, Mexico: Day 2

Our family spent Easter at our Wisconsin lake cabin last year, and it was cold and dreary. This year, we woke up to warm sunshine in Sayulita, Mexico. Andi, Tory, Aden and I celebrated our holiday a few weeks ago since we planned to be here on Easter Day, so our Sunday started as it normally would on vacation.

I thought I might be a little sad my kids weren't experiencing the typical Easter morning traditions I grew up with as a child, but honestly I wasn't. Holidays don't have to fit in a box; they can be whatever you want them to be. What's important to me is my kids are loved, our family is together and they know the meaning of the holiday which we discussed for many weeks before our trip.

On Sunday Andi, Aden and I woke up around 6:00am, and enjoyed a slow start to our morning. We watched the sun rise from our vantage point high on the Sayulita hillside, and began to familarize ourselves with our surroundings. It was dark when we'd arrived at our rented house the night before, so the three of us had fun exploring its various rooms and the gated property. It's a three-bedroom, five-bathroom house with a kitchen, private pool area, and rooftop patio. There's also a housekeeper on staff as well as a gardener, a coop of chickens and a resident cat named Dibo. Actually, we didn't know about the cat until it jumped through an open window and waltzed its way into the pantry to its food bowls. Aden and Tory affectionately named it Whiskers, but the housekeeper later told us its name is Dibo.

Andi took Aden for a walk down the drive-way while I practiced yoga with a spectacular view. You can take the boy away from cabin life, but you can't take cabin life away from the boy; Aden spotted a quad on the property and had to hop on for himself.

Then, Andi made the three of us breakfast -- eggs with chorizo and asparagus -- and we sat outside on the deck and enjoyed the peacefulness of the morning. In the distance, we heard roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing and the faint sound of music from town proper. Tory woke up around 9:00am and enjoyed her fruit and toast poolside.


We swam in the pool for the rest of the morning. How wonderful to have this whole place to ourselves!

Andi grilled shrimp and artichokes for lunch, and then we were itching to check out town. We decided to take the golf cart in for a ride, not sure what would be open on a holiday. To our surprise, Sayulita was bustling with people. Every restaurant was open, every shop. The beaches were packed with locals and tourists alike. Andi and I were surprised by how much was the same since we our visit two years prior, and also noticed a few new businesses here and there. We stopped by our favorite popsicle stand, Wakika Heladeria - for a cool treat before heading back to our paradise spot on the hill.

Back at the house, the kids and I FaceTime'd my parents to wish them a happy Easter holiday, and talked with my dad and nieces for a bit. Isn't technology amazing allowing loved ones to communicate long distance?

The kids swam in the pool until around 7:00pm, and then Andi grilled chicken and veggies for our family's Easter dinner. Together, we watched the sun set from our private rooftop patio on our first full day in Sayulita.

Yep, life is pretty wonderful.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sayulitia, Mexico: Day 1

Hola from Sayulita!

Andi, Tory, Aden and I boarded a plane to Puerto Vallarta on Saturday afternoon for a week-long vacation in one of our favorite places - Sayulita, Mexico. Our family traveled to Sayulita once before in 2015 and fell in love with this quaint and vibrant town. When Andi came across direct flights to PV for just under $250 each, we jumped at the opportunity to come back again.

Traveling to the same place twice isn't typically our style, but Sayulita holds a special fondness in our hearts. Plus, we're vacationing in a different way this time around: Andi rented a beautiful house in the hills for our family so we have our own private living space and pool. It's a "pinch me, I'm in paradise" kind of place with sweeping views of Sayulita and the ocean in the distance.

No trip is without a few hiccups along the way, of course. Our flight was delayed Saturday morning, so Andi, Tory, Aden and I went out for breakfast near Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. We returned home with plenty of time to organize our things and Uber'd a ride to the airport when it was finally time to leave for our trip. As the four of us piled out of the car in the airport drop-off zone, Andi realized we'd left our carry-on bag -- the bag carrying all our electronics, camera, and the kids' special lovies -- back at home. With exactly one hour until our plane departed Minneapolis, Andi high-tailed it back to our condo to grab the bag while the kids and I checked in for our flight and waited at the gate. Big kudos to Sun Country Airlines who agreed to hold the plane for Andi until he made it back safely. Terminal 2 at the airport was pretty slow that day, and fortunately Andi made it to our departing gate with five minutes to spare. Phew!

The rest of our flight was fairly uneventful. The airplane was more than half-empty, so we were able to spread out in our seats. A very grumpy Aden fell asleep on my lap for a good portion of the four-hour flight which helped turn his behavior around immensely. When we arrived in Puerto Vallarta a few hours later, we were ready to roll.

Sayulita is located 45 minutes north of PV on the Pacific coast, so Andi arranged for a suburban taxi service to pick us up at the airport and drive us to our rented home in Sayulita. First, we asked the driver to stop at the Mega so we could buy a few groceries to get us through the next two days. The following day (Sunday) was Easter and we expected most of the shops and restaurants in Sayulita to be closed for the holiday.

Stocking up on groceries at the start of vacation is one of my least favorite activities. It's a necessary chore, but the last thing I feel like doing after a long day of travel. At the Mega, we purchased chicken, shrimp, asparagus, broccoli, artichokes, bell peppers, avocados, cereal, bread, tortilla, eggs and bottled water. There were many other fruits and vegetables Tory was particularly curious about, but it was missed opportunity for education since we were pressed for time.

We rented a golf cart as our main method of transportation for the week, so the transport driver dropped Andi off at the golf cart rental shop to pick up our ride when we arrived into town. The kids and I continued onward into the hills of Sayulita with the driver while Andi putzed behind in the golf cart. The streets of Sayulita were packed with people and navigating through town was extremely difficult. The Easter holiday is one of the busiest weeks of the year we'd heard prior to our trip.

Our rented house in the hills was a quiet reprieve from all that. Night had fallen by this point so it was difficult to take in our surroundings, but the house itself was beautiful. We'd purchased the kids some chicken nuggets and home-style fries to eat on the drive to Sayulita, but Andi hadn't eaten much since breakfast in Minneapolis. We were starved, so Andi made us each a quesadilla with chicken, peppers and cheese for a late dinner. We lounged on chairs, poolside, and ate our dinner while Tory and Aden swim underneath the stars. What a perfect ending to our first night of vacation. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Letters to Aden: 3 1/2 Years


You are 3 years and 4 months old now, and a non-stop wrecking ball of little boy energy. We always say, "there's no one else in this world quite like you," and it's true. You are full of interest in the world around you and determined to live life on your own terms.

For the most part, you are a happy, easy going child. Not much upsets you when it comes to sharing toys with other kids, what to wear everyday, or what you eat for meals (okay, sometimes you do have an opinion about food). Try to get you to do something that wasn't your idea in the first place though and whoo-boy, good luck! "I do it myself" is a phrase we hear quite often from you, though you aren't afraid to shout, "a little help here!" when you need it. The irrationalness of toddlerhood is still in full effect at Age 3 1/2. Just the other day, you threw a giant tantrum because you wanted to push the elevator button at preschool which - as I reminded you repeatedly - you did. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why you were crying.

Outbursts like that one aren't very common for you though. You're typically happy when you're along for the ride, and always up for an adventure. You remind me of Curious George by the way you turn an everyday trip to the grocery store into a five-alarm event. There was the time you soiled yourself in poop from bum to boots while sitting in the grocery cart, or the time you were lost in Target and an employee had to radio for assistance. I carry you everywhere, despite your very capable ability to walk, because you find running in busy parking lots to be a exhilerating experience.

See what I mean when I say life with you is full of surprises? Here's what else is new with you:

You weigh 32 pounds and are 37 inches tall which is average, if not a bit on the smaller side, for your age. You wear size 3T clothing and size 9 shoes. Lately you seem to be shooting up in length, even if your clothing size doesn't yet indicate a change. I snapped this picture of the two of us together in a bathroom mirror last week, and I couldn't believe how big you looked in my arms. No longer my baby; you're growing up Aden Boy!

We took the pacifier away around your third birthday (which you were totally fine ditching, by the way) and with that, you decided to drop your afternoon nap. The absence of the pacifier didn't cause an interruption in your bedtime routine - thankfully you still went to sleep at night without issue - but you were over laying down during the day without it. Not that you seemed upset about it; you'd just stay awake in your room and bang on the door until we let you come out. So, rest in peace afternoon quiet time. It was fun while it lasted.

The upside of dropping your afternoon nap is that we're not as limited by a time schedule during the day. This allows the three of us (you, Tory and I) to go to playground after Tory's morning preschool class ends or run errands in the afternoon. You're also ready for bed when 7:00pm rolls around often saying, "Phew, I'm tired. I want to go to bed now." And, you do. You lay down and go to sleep almost every night without issue.

There's been some big milestones in your development the last few months, Aden. You're now potty trained which is a big accomplishment. For months, you showed zero interest in using the toilet and I didn't push you toward it. Knowing you and your temperament, I figured it would have to be your decision. Tory and I went away for a girl's trip one weekend in late February and when I returned home that Monday, you said you were ready to go potty like a big boy. Wahoo! I'm not sure what Daddy said to you (other than "boys stand up" which you've recited more than once). Just like that, you went from wearing diapers to being fully potty trained day and night. Easy peasy.

Since we took away the pacifier, you've become more conversational. Some of my favorite things you say are, "Will you come check me up?" (aka: will you come back and check on me?) when I put you to bed at night and "shake it off, Tory" when she's whining about something or another. You have a bit of trouble communicating sometimes, often hanging on the vowel sound in a word. As an example, you might say "Can I have a tree-ee-et?" I consulted an early childhood specialist within the school district about it, and she assured me it's part of a child's development at this age. Soon, your language skills will be able to keep up with your quick-moving brain and all should work itself out in the end.

You'll all about 'things that go' in this stage of life. A cabin friend of ours owns a big John Deere tractor which you love, and you request to go there to ride in it nearly every weekend. You also love driving our Ranger UTV and Sportsman ATV at the cabin with Dad. Last fall, one of our cabin neighbors gave us their old Power Wheel tractor and it's by far your favorite toy on the planet. You'll ride circles around the cabin for hours on the weekends. The battery dies eventually, you cry, we charge it up, and then you do it all over again. 

You also love riding your tricycle outside and playing in the dirt. I'm excited for summer because I know you'll have a blast fishing at the lake.

Once a week, you attend a preschool class through the state's Early Childhood Family Education program. At the beginning of the school year, you weren't a big fan of separating from me at the mid-point of class, but now it's a non-issue. You're a natural leader among classmates and fairly outgoing. Week after week at school, you either play at the water table or roll toy cars up and down a wooden ramp. You'll happily play side-by-side friends in your class or do these activities alone.

You're also taking swimming lessons this spring in preparation for summer at the lake. For some reason, you want nothing to do with lessons this time around. You're not afraid of the water or the instructor; it's like you're bored after swimming for the first 10 minutes. Time and time again this spring, you hop out of the pool halfway through the lesson and say, "I all done" in a matter-of-fact tone. Sigh. As I mentioned before, you rarely do anything unless you want to. So ... we'll keep working on it.

Not much is new with you in this category. You continue to be my meat and veggies eater, and I have to remind myself over and again that you don't like the same "kid food" as Tory. You prefer beef, pork, chicken or fish and a side of broccoli, asparagus or green beans over PB+J any day. In fact, you still refuse to eat any bread at all. Pancakes or waffles are hit or miss with you.

Also different than Tory, you prefer to wake up a bit before you eat breakfast. I'm accustomed to Tory who demands food the minute she wakes, and I've learned you're far more likely to eat a substantial meal if I wait until you're truly hungry mid-morning.

Your mild allergy to dairy products continues. Milk or butter used in baked goods doesn't seem to bother you, but eating ice cream (which you love!) induces an almost-immediate skin irritation in the creases of your arms and legs. It's an eczema-type rash, so nothing life threatening, but irritating nonetheless.

One food you're obsessed with is Doritos. I don't usually buy chips, so every time you go to Daddy's office or to Nana and Papa's house you bee-line for the snack drawer. Nana even sent some in your Easter basket this year because she knows how much you love them. Not the healthiest by any means, but I suppose we all have our guilty pleasure.

Tory remains your very best friend; the two of you are glued to the hip! For the most part, you play together so well and it's adorable listening to your conversations and imaginary play the older you both grow. Recently, I have noticed a bit more squabling between the two of you and usually, my boy, you are the one picking on Tory. You take something away that she had first; then, she screams and you squeal in delight. I'm not sure how you'll react when Tory's in kindergarten full-time this fall. It's safe to say, you'll miss her greatly.

Your best friend outside our family is Elia, the son of a friend of mine. When it's just you and Elia, the two of you play well together. When Tory's around, Elia tends to play with her more and you'll happily go off to play on your own. Actually, that's exactly what happens with Dominic - the little boy who lives in our condo building. You and Dominic will be in the same preschool class this fall, so I curious to see how your friendship develops over time.

You also have an adoration for your cousin, Brooke (or Brooklie, as you call her). We only see our Nebraska relatives a few times a year, but you seem to pick up where you left off every single time.


Life with you is always an adventure, Aden, and I wouldn't have it any other way. All the wild and crazy moments are forgiven when you wrap your arms around my neck and give me one of your fabulous "neck hugs." My baby boy you'll always be.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Day In The Life: Spring 2017

Time for another Day In The Life post. Thanks to Julia at My Life in Transition for hosting.

The day I selected to document is Monday, April 10.

Andi and I are both 36 years old
Tory is 5 years, 7 months old
Aden is 3 years, 4 months
Chloe (the dog) is 12 years old

4:59am: I wake up to the faint sound of Aden crying in his bedroom. Sound familiar? If it feels like most of my Day In The Life posts start this way, it's because they do. This morning, Aden's early morning wake-up is precisely one minute before my Fitbit alarm is set to vibrate on my wrist. Sigh, I suppose it's time to get up anyway.

As I fumble downstairs in the dark to retrieve Aden, I recall the dream I was in the middle of and it makes me LOL: I was carrying a black collapsible cooler bag with a built-in sewing machine. I have no idea why I'd need such a thing, and I guess it'll remain one of life's mysteries ...

5:05am: Andi's awake now, so the three of us snuggle together in our bed for a few minutes. Limbs are draped over one another as Aden's lovingly strokes my chest. Ten seconds later, he requests milk and an applesauce pouch - aaaand, the moment of sweetness has passed. Happy Monday!

5:10am: I get up and retrieve Aden's milk and applesauce from the kitchen while Andi lays with Aden and starts Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on TV. I let Chloe outside to potty and I pull on my workout clothes that I'd laid out the night before on the desk. Slam my pre-workout drink and head to the basement to push play.

Loving the new Lululemon razorback tank I bought with my birthday gift card!

5:30am: Downstairs, I toss Ken and some Barbie cars toward the doll house, and give myself a quick motivation pep-talk. "You have the power and the passion to achieve anything," I tell myself. Last week, I started a new workout program called Insanity Max:30 and I know today's Cardio Challenge is going to be tough, but I also know it's worth it to push outside my comfort zone. I can do this!

5:50am: Out of the corner of my eye, I see Aden coming down the stairs and he looks unhappy. I realize Andi must've left for work, so I pull out an earbud and ask Aden what he needs. "Wahhhh!" is basically the response he gives. The point of Insanity Max:30 is to push yourself to your limit -- don't stop until you can't possibly go another second -- and that's your "max-out" time. Aden could care less about my ability to keep going because he's rolling around at my feet, trying to grab my legs as I'm jumping up and down. Bah! I finally stop and ask him what he needs in a breathless, not-so-sweet voice. I pause my workout, carry Aden back upstairs, and get him set-up with another show in my bedroom. Then, I hurry back downstairs and finish the last 10 minutes of my workout.

6:30am: Workout's done, and I take a few minutes to check in with my fitness accountability group and log my meal plan for the day.

6:45am: I make myself Shakeology in the blender - today I'm having Chocolate with frozen spinach and raspberries - and wrap up some homemade granola bars I made last night while my shake blends. Here's a tip: I portion one cup of spinach into snack-size baggies for my shakes. After I've used one, I put the empty baggie back in freezer and refill them every Sunday for the week ahead. Easy way to sneak some veggies into my day!

7:00am: Hop in the shower with my shake in hand (Monday morning multi-tasking at its finest!) while Aden plays with a cup in the bathroom sink. I get out of the shower, get dressed and help Aden go the bathroom and brush his teeth. I always want to remember these fuzzy Mickey Mouse jammies Aden wears to bed almost every night.

7:20am: I ask Aden to go downstairs to wake up Tory, and he runs off. Meanwhile, I finish getting myself dressed and then go to the kitchen to start breakfast for the kids.

7:35am: I realize Aden never came back upstairs with Tory, so I go downstairs myself to see what they're doing. Both Tory and Aden are playing in her bedroom and I urge her to get dressed quickly. For the first time in his life, Aden decides to have an opinion about his clothes. He picks a red waffle tee and blue corduroys.

7:50am: The kids will have to eat breakfast in the car this morning because we're going to be late. I brush Tory's hair and teeth, and rush them both to put on their socks and shoes. Like usual, Aden decides running away from me is a better idea. I finally back him into a corner and carry him to the door while he cackles with laughter. "Wait! I made this for you yesterday," Tory says, pulling cloud art from her backpack.

8:05am: On our way to school, phew! We're not running too far behind, thankfully. "Can we go there in a few days?" Aden points to a random building as we drive by.

8:20am: We pull into the parking lot at Tory's school, and I help the kids get their coats on before we exit the car. Tory's still eating her granola bar as we wait in the lobby for her teacher to greet us. It's complete chaos as parents and kids rush into the school, others wait in the lobby with our group, and a pile of children's items for sale take up precious real estate standing space on the carpet. "Good-bye Tory! Have good day!" Aden shouts to Tory as she eventually walks off with her teacher and we head back to our car.

8:45am: Every Monday morning, Aden and I drive to a local gym to pick up the fresh-prepared meals we purchase for dinners each week. As we pull into the parking lot today, Aden shouts "I have to go potty!" with panic in his voice. The gym where we pick up the meals is in the same parking lot as Andi's office, so I go there instead to take Aden to the bathroom. I'm sure the small gym has a bathroom somewhere, but it's a battle keeping Aden off the workout machines the way it is without leading his little wrecking-ball body throughout the entire place.

I remind Aden we aren't there to see Daddy - we're just stopping to go to the bathroom and leaving. "Please I have red chips, too? OK!" Aden says excitedly. Favorite part about visiting Daddy's office, for sure. (Sorry Andi) I feel some Mom Guilt about letting Aden eat Doritos at 9:00am, but saying 'no' would lead to an epic meltdown I don't feel like tackling this morning. 

9:00am: When we walk in the front door, Aden beelines straight to the kitchen so I give him a friendly reminder about using the bathroom. "Oh, yeah!" he says with a laugh. This new potty training a boy experience has me up-close-and-personal with toilet lids and I have to say -- ewww. 

9:15am: We make a quick pit-stop by the kitchen to grab a bag of "red chips" and walk down the hallway to Andi's office, but the door is closed. I decide not to knock since Andi wasn't expecting us and I don't want to interrupt, so I usher Aden toward the door and we leave.

Across the parking lot, I run into the gym to grab my pre-made Paleo meals. On the menu this week is: pineapple ham, chicken alfredo, and chicken and cauliflower hash. They could very well serve dog food and I'd probably eat it because that meal service is just so darn easy.

9:30am: Back at home, I unload the dishwasher and throw in a load of laundry. Andi texts me and asks me to stuff some paper towels in his wet tennis shoes laying out to dry on the patio, so I do as he requests.

10:45am: After my morning chores are done, it's snack time. Today I'm having apple cinnamon quinoa with almonds which I'm really digging lately. I measure 1/2 cup cooked quinoa in a bowl, sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon on top, and warm it up for a minute in the microwave. Meanwhile, I chop up an apple and share some with Aden who's standing beside me on a chair. I add the remainder of the chopped apple to the warmed quinoa and sprinkle sliced almonds on top. YUM!

9:53am: This is my favorite part of the morning. I sit down for a minute at my desk in the kitchen to work on my computer and eat my quinoa. My legs are exhausted and it's only 10 o'clock in the morning. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Aden is quietly sitting at the table watching Daniel Tiger and eating apple slices.

10:15am: Aden uses the bathroom and I grin over his little boy underwear. I can't get over it! So cute. Then he dribbles a little on the floor and the moment of "cute" has passed. #momlife I clean up the mess in the bathroom and decide to keep mopping the rest of the floor while I'm at it. Aden asks to help sweep so he follows me around through the kitchen and hallway.

10:30am: I get a text from the condo handyman saying he'll be working in our place with a HVAC contractor at 11:00am, so I decide last-minute to take the kids to an indoor play park after we pick up Tory from school. I open the fridge door and toss some food into a cooler bag for kid lunches. My Fitbit alarm buzzes on my wrist to remind me it's time to get Tory so I put the dog in her kennel, chase Aden around the condo trying to get his shoes on, and we leave for preschool in a rush.

10:55am: I pull into the preschool parking lot just in time. Tory gets snappy when we're late picking her up, so I jog into the building carrying Aden in my arms.

Tory and Aden pile into the car. I ask Tory to guess where we're heading and Aden shouts, "Bouncy pillow!" before she can respond. InnerActive has an indoor playground structure, blocks, ball court, and a huge jumping pillow. My kids love it. It takes us about 20 minutes to drive there.

11:30am: It's getting colder outside - brrr! We hustle into the building and the kids bee-line to the pillow area. Fortunately, it isn't very busy which is a nice change. There's plenty of room to jump and tumble without kid collisions.

12:30pm: The kids run zig zags between the sport court, climbing structure, blocks and jumping pillow. Eventually Aden says he's hungry, so I grab our cooler bag and find a spot at one of the open tables. I grabbed Lunchables in my rush out the door this morning, but I'm fairly sure Aden won't eat it. He's allergic to cheese and generally refuses crackers and lunch meat, but it was a fast and I was in a hurry this morning. As expected, he turns his nose up to my food offering. I fish out a granola bar from my purse, he takes a few bites and runs off to play.

1:00pm: Tory stops to eat, and scarfs down both Lunchables. Tory is a total "kid food" lover -- she'll eat anything PB+J flavored or that comes in a squeeze tube. Aden, on the other hand, is my meat and veggies boy.

1:30pm: The kids are jumping on the inflatable pillow when Aden falls and hurts his foot. He starts crying and just as I go to retrieve him, I hear Tory crying from the other side. Now she's fallen and says she hurt her leg. A mother nearby seems concerned by Tory's wails, but I know from the sound she's not really hurt. "Time to go," I say to the kids and carry them both to the entrance area to find our coats and shoes. The concerned mother follows us in her concern for Tory, and I again reassure her Tory's fine. The lady tries to make Tory laugh, and Tory stifles her grin. She's hurt, remember? Gotta be sad.

1:45pm: Tory says she can't walk on her leg, but I encourage her to do so anyway. She walks normally for a few steps until she remembers she's hurt and then hops on one foot in a dramatic display of discomfort. By the time we reach our car in the parking lot, Tory is completely fine. I'm really not trying to be mean; I know she's not hurt and I can't carry both her and Aden out of there. Carrying Aden is a necessity because I can't trust him to stay close to me in the parking lot, so I need Tory to tough it out. Thankfully, she does.

As we're leaving, I see a text message from the handyman saying the HVAC contractor is just now on his way. Oy. The whole point of going to the play place was to avoid the construction work. Oh well, the kids had fun.

2:00pm: Tory, Aden and I arrive home and I immediately set in on making my lunch because I'm starving by this point! I defrost some shrimp and saute them in a skillet on the stove top with zucchini noodles and spinach pesto. While I'm making my food, I bake some chicken nuggets for the kids to eat either now (because Aden didn't eat much for lunch) or for dinner tonight.

Of course, Tory says she's not hungry and runs downstairs to play in her room. Aden and I sit down at the table and play a game of tick-tac-toe while I eat my lunch. Aden's never played tick-tac-toe before, so I'm teaching him as we go and proud that he picks up on it pretty quickly! I snap a picture of him playing, and smile when I see his tongue hanging out of his mouth. Classic Aden, always paired with his devilish grin.

The HVAC guy leaves while we're playing at the table, and Eric the handyman says he'll be back in a few days to repair the drywall. It's always something here ...

2:30pm: Aden says he's tired and asks to lay in my bed to watch Blaze and the Monster Machines. He doesn't nap anymore, but he's also been awake since 5:00am so I'm sure he's tired.

2:45pm: Tory comes back upstairs and asks to watch Mia and Me. She's been playing downstairs so quietly, so I agree. I can use some quiet time, too. Something funny about Tory at this age is how she always wears her pants with one leg up - always. She says she's "hot" and apparently this helps regulate her body temperature. Or, maybe it's the latest fashion statement.

I turn on the cartoon for Tory in the living room and swipe a Shakeology peanut butter cup from the freezer. These little nuggets are my saving grace for satisfying a chocolate craving.

3:00pm: It's pretty quiet in my bedroom, so I got to investigate. I find Aden asleep in my bed. That's what happens when you wake up so early! Tory and I take advantage of the one-on-one time and play a few rounds of tick-tac-toe. We move to the sofa and I start typing up this post while she builds Legos beside me. I love watching her concentrate so intently on these, and I'm amazed by how well she follows the directions on her own. Eventually, we play with the Legos creations she's built.

4:00pm: Time to wake the gremlin or he'll never sleep tonight. I get up to get Aden, but Tory begs to wake him for me. She runs into my room and I hear her say, "Aden, it's time to wake up!" in the sweetest sisterly voice. Tory and I play a sight word / opposites puzzle until Aden joins us in the living room. Then, the three of us wrestle around the living room floor. It's one of those "pinch me, I love this life" moments. 

6:00pm: Andi walks in the back door and the kids rush down the hallway to greet him. Tory always helps take off his shoes (I have no idea why) so she bends down right away and unlaces Andi's boots. Aden yells, "Daddy's home! Yay!"

6:30am: Tory and I continue to work on sight words in the living room while Andi starts dinner. Sounds about right - he's gone at work all day, comes home and cooks dinner for us. In reality, it's not too hard to warm up an Origin meal on the stove; not much "cooking" required. While the food cooks, Tory proudly shows Andi how she can read the words on the card game we played earlier.

Andi sits down to dinner at the table and I ask if he made the kids anything. He gives me a puzzled look, so I quickly chop some chicken, green beans and strawberries for the kids. We all sit down to dinner and both Tory and Aden are fighting over who gets to sit on my lap. I traveled to Nebraska over the weekend by myself, so the kids are still missing me. It makes me smile.

I planned to have ham with green beans and sweet potatoes tonight, but Andi wasn't pleased with his chicken and cauliflower hash so we switch.

7:00pm: I get the kids' pajamas on downstairs while Andi takes a quick shower. Tory is wearing a new pair of size 6 pajamas which blows my mind. When in the world did my little girl grow so big?

Andi and Tory peel off to her bedroom to read a Fancy Nancy chapter book while I read Pete the Cat to Aden in his room. Aden is tired so I keep it short and sweet. Andi is still reading to Tory when I'm finished with Aden so I go upstairs to clean up before bed. I find a note stuck to the side of the counter from Tory. She's drawn a heart and written our family's names all around it. What a sweetie.

I lay out my workout clothes for tomorrow morning on the desk, wash my face and put on my pajamas. Yes, it's 7:15pm and I'm heading to bed. I'm still in the habit of early nights all the way back from my years of kid up-all-nights.

7:30pm: Andi and I crawl into bed together and turn on Alaskan Bush People on Hulu. I have no idea how we got hooked on this show, but we've binged on an entire season this week. It's like a train wreck! We can't stop watching. While we watch TV, I check in with my fitness group on Facebook and read through their messages from the day.

8:45pm: Andi turns the television off; we've got to go to sleep. Five o'clock in the morning comes early. I read a page from my daily devotional, Savor by Shauna Niequist before I turn off the lamp on the side table.

Another day in this messy, fun, not-always-perfect life I love.