We’re a hot mess.

As some of you may know, this past week was R’s birthday, and L’s is coming up this week. We ended up having a shared birthday party for them this weekend, which they loved, but we also ended up doing a lot of other stuff this week. HAHAHAHA. Not.

My husband took the week off from work so that we could all spend time together as a family, which was really nice, but we suck at weeks where we have nothing to do.

The first two days went pretty well. We went to the library as a family one day, played and hung out. They often have little activities set up throughout the kids area, and L especially loves the coloring table they have set up. The second day, we went to COSI, our local kid’s science center. The kids love it there, and it’s air conditioned, so that’s a win, but all throughout the summer, the place is PACKED. I mean, just bursting at the seams. So I get tired of that pretty quickly. And by “tired”, I mean I’m essentially cussing under my breath the entire ride home about the ridiculousness that it was.

The third day, we made the mistake of “relaxing”. Which means we sat and did absolutely nothing. Then we turned that into a marathon of how long we could put off doing all the birthday party preparations. Turns out, we’re competitive procrastinators. Which left me working on making cupcakes into “Wild Things” from Where the Wild Things Are at 1am the night before, while my husband picked up a last minute random overnight shift. Pro-tip: Just get your crap done. Don’t be us, and you’ll succeed in life.

So, by Saturday, after the party, we had essentially wasted an entire week, eaten too much junk, had an only somewhat successful birthday party, and done next to nothing around the house.

B is back at work today, we’re all working on recovering from a week of “relaxation”, and I’m pretending that I’m catching up on house work. Fact: I’m not. Let’s be real, if I’m writing this blog, there isn’t a lot of other stuff happening at the house right now.

Why are “staycations” such a ridiculous mess? Aren’t they supposed to be easy breezy and fun-filled? Because we don’t know how to make that happen. Instead, I’m sitting here with grumpy kids who wish I’d take their dad’s place at work, a pile of dishes the size of Everest to get done before naptime ends today, and a vacation to-do list that didn’t get done. Not even a little.

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Healthy foods, budget-friendly. How can we lose?

So, I’m not sure about you, but I grew up with this skewed vision that Aldi was a place where you only bought dented cans of beans and fruit that has previously been rundown by a car or two. When I was young, I never set foot in an Aldi, and as I grew, especially once I gained employment at Kroger, it seemed unnecessary to go other places, especially as they encouraged us to “spend where we earn”, and I found it so easy to pick things up on my way home.

My husband, B, still works for Kroger, and while we do get a small discount on some items, it certainly doesn’t apply to most of the things we like to buy. Now with two small kids that we’re trying to do right by, I’m struggling to pay the produce & organic prices that I seem to come across at Kroger. So I find myself now doing the lion’s share of our grocery shopping at Aldi. We enjoy their food a lot, and I’ve never gotten anything sub-par there. Big, huge, giant bonus: their prices beat Kroger and Walmart by a landslide on many things. We also have zero problems finding dye-free items for L (she’s allergic to food dyes, and they are in EV-ERY-THING). They pledge that everything under their store brands is free of FD&C dyes.

So here are some of the things we love to buy at Aldi:

  • Organic Spaghetti Rings: I’d be lying if I said I don’t bathe in the luxury of a quick meal from a can for the girls on occasion. The Aldi brand is the same price as a can of Spaghetti-Os at Kroger, yet it’s organic. Calling that a win, every if we break even price-wise.
  • Organic Fruit Snacks: Aldi has come out with something similar to Annie’s Bunny fruit snacks, and L absolutely devours them when she gets hands on them. It’s insane. I don’t give fruit snacks often at the house, but they are FANTASTIC as a bribe in the store or in the car. So we splurge a bit on fruit snacks.
  • Almonds & dried/freeze-dried fruits: They have a nice selection of nuts, trail mixes and dried fruits at Aldi, and I often use these in our snack tray during the day (more on my snack trays in a later post). My husband loves nuts, so that’s a win for him as well.
  • Apple sauce pouches: Oh my gosh, the amount of apple sauce my kids could go through if I just let them. They love puree-type foods, and I love the convenience, especially since my kids are grazers for most of the day. We also buy the fruit & veggie blend pouches when they have them, but those aren’t a constant product, so we tend to stock up a bit when I stumble upon them.
  • Lunch meat, chicken breast, eggs: Aldi has several options in their “Never Any!” line that are hormone-free, filler-free, etc. Their eggs are also hormone-free. I love that.
  • Nut milk, organic milk, soy milk: Their milks are usually fairly comparable in price to other places, but I tend to find myself buying their brands when I can, because I just like that they seem more committed to finding better products. The last carton of almond milk I bought didn’t even have carrageenan, which is a fairly tall order.
  • Produce, both conventional & organic: They have a very small selection of organic produce at my store currently (though I’ve seen promises of a larger selection in the future pop up), but I buy lots of produce at Aldi. It’s priced at a good point, and we go through a lot, so we can afford to buy more if we get it at Aldi. We absolutely LOVE their organic red grapes, though. They’ve always been crisp, crunchy & sweet. Their bagged salads are really crisp as well, and never go bad as quickly as other stores/brands.
  • Organic whole wheat pasta: They have an organic line, and although it only has penne and rotini currently, I find myself opting to use them for spaghetti and things like that just so that I can use their pasta.
  • Peanut butter, almond butter, honey, agave, hazelnut spread: Basically anything like this, we buy at Aldi. I can find organics at Aldi for the price of conventional products at Kroger or Walmart.

 

Basically, we love Aldi. I can find so many things there that would otherwise be unattainable in the budget we want to keep. We actually find ourselves eating better now that we shop at Aldi, and that’s never a bad thing. I’m also finding that my kids actually prefer their brands to some of the larger name brands that we find in the natural food sections of other stores. I think we’re quickly becoming Aldi lifers, and I’m happy I put aside my perceptions and discovered what has easily been the best thing to happen to our food lifestyle.

 

Do you shop at Aldi? What are some of your favorites?

Dear Childless Friends of my Past.

To all my childless friends from my pre-baby days:

First and foremost, I’m sorry. Very sorry.

I’m sorry if it seems purposeful that I’ve fallen out of your lives. Trust me, it wasn’t. You see, 3 years ago, I took on this grueling job. A job that I mistakenly thought would allow me more free time than I am actually afforded. In short, working overtime is a joke in comparison to the hours I’m actually spending putting real effort into these little people who rely on me. I have so little free time, that I frequently go days without having even the smallest window in which to take a 5 minute shower, let alone to socialize with adults that aren’t directly in the area of my home.

I’m sorry that my sleep deprivation and literal constant effort toward the smallest things in my life has made it difficult for me to remember to reach out when I should, or to keep up on the comings and goings of your lives. I am very rarely coherent enough to even have a real conversation with my husband, let alone remember how normal people socialize without making it super awkward.

I’m sorry that the parenting path I’ve chosen means that I don’t send my kids to a babysitter or family member to spend time out of the house. It’s not that I look down on anyone who does, but I have literal panic attacks for every moment that I’m away from them, and R is a very difficult child who endlessly cries around others, something that makes watching her a very unpleasant task that I’m loath to throw upon anyone who values sanity.

 

Second of all, I really miss you all.

It may seem silly to say, as it probably seems like I’m doing nothing, and therefore have plenty of time to see anyone. But it’s hard. It’s hard to reach out when all I have to offer to a conversation is a story about children you don’t really know. It’s hard to reach out when I know that you all have other things going on, and the spare moments I have often coincide with your busiest times. It’s hard to reach out when I’m so emotionally drained that I don’t know how to feel feelings.

But I do miss you. I miss being part of your day to day experiences. I miss being someone you want to share things with. I miss just having people who know that I’m a human outside of being a mother.

 

This isn’t really about me suddenly realizing I haven’t been a part of your lives, but rather by a confrontation I recently had with an old friend who accused me of not being a good friend since I started this journey into motherhood. I’d like you to know, it was never my intention. Truly, I’d love to be a friend that someone can count on to listen, and care, and reach out in hard times.

But right now, all of my energy is going to my kids. They only have one mother, and one small period of time when they need me so much, while you have lots of other friends still capable of being there for you, thankfully. I have a big job to do with them, and I only hope that you will still be there to reconnect when I reach the other side of this endlessly needy stage of their short childhoods. In the meantime, I’ll be wishing you all the happiness in the world and hoping that you’re out there achieving the same joy in your lives as being with my kids brings me.

Planning and crying.

With the coming of Independence Day, comes the realization that I have less than a month before my babies are 1 and 3. Their birthdays are 6 days apart, so we’ll be having a shared party, as much for me as for them. I’m not sure any of us could handle two parties in quick succession. But as I begin finalizing the plans for their party, my joy is shaded with sadness.

R will be our last baby, and though I’m 100% happy with our decision to keep our family the way it is, there is an inevitable grief that comes with the end of baby days. With her first birthday, she’ll be a baby no more, and I’ll have to come to terms with the fact that my girls are growing quicker than I’m ready for.

This past year has been harder than I anticipated. I didn’t slide as gracefully into motherhood of two children as I did with just one. The transition from being equaled by L to being outnumbered all day was hard on me. To top it off, R was a colicky baby, and L was just a bit too young to really understand why we were spending 100% of our days trying to calm down a screaming newborn, when just a month ago, she’d simply had a mom with a huge stomach and all my attention. Together, they were hard to handle. Really hard. Tears on a daily basis kind of hard.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that with both girls, I suffered from postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. I was struggling just to get out of bed, then struggling to keep going, then struggling to sleep. It was 24 hours a day, and seemed endless.¬†B was also working 6 days a week to keep us comfortable, instead of just scraping by.¬†Everything about this first year with R was difficult. And now that I look back, I’m really sad that we didn’t appreciate more of our time with them. But I’m also really excited about the new phase that we’re entering, so that’s making it a bit easier to swallow.

I absolutely ADORE that 18 month age group. It’s by far the best, in my opinion. I can’t wait to watch R’s personality develop, and I can’t wait to see how L accepts R’s ability to keep up with her now.

So with this birthday, I’m going to have to try really hard to keep it together and focus on all the good times that we’re about to have as a family. I can’t wait to watch these little girls grow up, but I wish I could slow down the clock a bit.

I think these next few weeks are going to go way faster than I’m prepared for, and I’m just over here trying not to feel all the feels in the meantime. Wish me luck with that. *insert skeptical side eye*