My Week In Review (July 30 – August 5)

posted by Andrea | 08/4/2017
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Although we only have a few weeks of Summer Vacation for Dave and Nora (and essentially for me too!) we have several things on our mental “summer to-do list” yet — using free bowling and restaurant coupons, swimming in a few friends’ pools, visiting a local nature center, and hitting up a few more parks.

Nora is concerned we won’t be able to fit everything into our “busy” schedule — I told her we could probably make it all work! 🙂

Here’s what I blogged about, and what we did as a family, this week in previous years!

2010:

I shared a funny (but useful) post with 3 different videos on how to fold a fitted sheet. Honestly, to this day, I still think about these video instructions EVERY time I fold fitted sheets!

I also posted 2 of my most favorite recipes:

Homemade granola

And Cheesey Garlic Bread

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2011:

This must have been a big “granola” week for me because a year after sharing my favorite granola recipe, I shared my favorite Granola BAR recipe!

I also went into detail about Dave and my epic IKEA shopping trip when we apparently misread the online measurements for our corner couch and didn’t get a big enough UHaul.

We ended up having to completely unpack most of the couch (in the IKEA parking lot) in order to cram it into the UHaul for the 3-hour drive home.

The ‘best’ part was that it was almost 90ºF out and I was about 30 weeks pregnant with Nora! I’m sure you can see how excited Dave was in the picture below 🙂

At least we still love our IKEA sectional 6 years later! 

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2012:

We were still in the middle of our kitchen renovation at this point — so I was still using my slow cooker for almost every single meal! I shared this delicious recipe for Sweet and Sour Pork. It was one of my favorites growing up, and our whole family loves it now!

Also, if you’ve never thought about HOW and WHEN you work best, I would encourage you to read this post.

You might be surprised how much more productive and efficient you are if you consciously choose to do your “focused work” during the time of day when you work best.

I used to be a full-blown morning person until I had kids and they basically demanded every second of my morning hours! Over time, I have gradually shifted to being somewhat of a “night owl” and do almost all my focused work after the kids are in bed!

Here’s a really cute picture of Nora at my sister’s bridal shower!

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2013:

I took the WHOLE month of August off this year!

It was a little scary when I first decided to take the whole month off (I decided already at the beginning of June). I worried that I would lose a bunch of blog traffic and that my readers would disappear, but everything ended up working out just fine!

Plus, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with Simon at the beginning of July — which made my August blogging break absolutely PERFECT timing since I was extremely nauseous and basically laid on the couch all month!

Every time I see the picture below, I instantly remember how gross I felt that whole month…

I LOVE this side-by-side picture of me and Nora — wearing the same pink cowboy hat at roughly the same age (Nora is a bit older than me)!

Here are a few more cute pictures:

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2014:

We officially finished our deck renovation — and man do we love our new (much larger, more functional) outdoor living space!

I also wrote about something I am SUPER passionate about (and something that’s slightly controversial)… the idea that we do HAVE the time, we just don’t MAKE the time.

We all have 24 hours in a day… what we do with those hours is up to us.

Here’s a quote from that post:

Whenever I start thinking “I don’t HAVE time for ______” I try to stop and think about any way that I could MAKE time for it.

Could I move my schedule around?

Could I find someone to watch our kids?

Could I skip something else to free up more time?

If not, then I choose not to make time for that activity.

Thinking this way makes me feel less frustrated and more empowered.

It changes my outlook on my day from feeling busy and stressed to, instead, feeling happy and thankful that I am able to make choices as to how I spend my time.

If you’ve felt frustrated by your perceived lack of time, I would highly encourage you to read the full post!

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This is one of my favorite pictures of Nora from that week…

And my sweet Simon boy celebrated 5 months!

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2015:

I shared this super simple Steak Marinade. I still use this marinade all the time during grilling season — it’s so quick and easy and tastes absolutely delicious!

I also shared James’ Birth Story and super cute newborn pictures.

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2016:

These yummy 3-Cheese Lasagna Roll-Ups have been my new favorite go-to recipe when I need to bring someone a meal. I can make as many or as few as I need for whatever family I’m bringing a meal to — and they are just slightly “fancier” than traditional lasagna.

Oh, and they have a bunch of zucchini in them (if you’re looking for a way to use up all those extra zucchinis from your garden!)

I shared a bit more about how Dave and I use LegacyBox to digitize all his parents’ pictures for their anniversary. It’s such a quick and simple service — if you’re overwhelmed by the thought of trying to digitize your old pictures, I would highly recommend LegacyBox.

I was in a “I want to change the look of our bedroom” mood, and randomly decided to move our bed from angled in the corner to flat against the side wall… and Dave and I instantly LOVED the new look!

Still now, a full year later, we love the new bedroom arrangement. It feels more open and airy! You can see the full tour of our bedroom here.

And this is my favorite picture of all 3 kids from that week — they went through a solid 2-week stretch where they ALL wanted to wear their helmets ALL the time 🙂

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2017:

I’ve personally spent the better part of this week painting, painting, and painting. I’m tired of painting!

We decided that since our landing area (former playroom) is now completely empty, it was a good time to finally get rid of the blue paint (yes, I chose blue paint!) Anyway, I had to do THREE coats of white paint to cover the blue, plus I repainted the ceilings and all the trim — so it was a big project.

I’m happy to cross this big project off my to-do list — now we just need to figure out what to do with this space since we don’t need it for toys anymore!

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I suppose our biggest news is that we officially paid off our mortgage earlier this week!

I’m not planning to make a huge deal out of it or write a blog post about how we did it (there are so many variables — what we did won’t necessarily work for others) — but it sure feels good to see this long-term goal come to fruition!

As some of you know, when Dave and I were first married, we made a goal to have our house completely paid off before our first child started Kindergarten. At the time, we had no idea we’d end up buying a fixer-upper house or when exactly our first child would end up going to Kindergarten — but now that Nora is less than a month from her first day of school, Dave and I are both THRILLED to know we followed through with our original goal!

Now… we start saving for a “biggie pool”  so we have more room to swim around 🙂

Also, I finished James’ 1-year photo book!

Since we were gone on vacation over James’ birthday, I wasn’t able to finish the album until this past weekend — it’s so cute! I’m just waiting “patiently” for a 40% off coupon code so I can actually order it!

You can click on the picture below to enlarge the image and see more of what his book pages look like. I’m very happy with how his book turned out. I can tell I’m getting more creative as the years go by and as I make more and more books!

I canned a batch of strawberry jam and strawberry rhubarb jam using fruit we picked in June (I freeze the fruit until I have time to make jam).

We also purchased a huge amount of the most delicious blueberries I’ve ever tasted from someone Dave’s dad works with. Seriously, they are SO good — and unfortunately, I have no idea where they came from.

I’ll hopefully do a batch of raspberry jam and triple berry jam (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry) later this month when local raspberries are ripe. Then we’ll be set with home-canned jam for the next 2 years again!

Here’s a post with all my homemade jam recipes.

A few more pictures from this past week:

Dave took Nora and Simon on a “hike” 🙂

Their newest form of transportation…

Neither Simon or James take many naps anymore (kind of sad, but also nice because they go to bed even earlier) but this particular day, they couldn’t quite make it and both crashed on the couch.

Brotherly Love!

Nora won a prize from the summer reading program at our Library. She picked Perler Beads — something she’s been asking for since spring break. She has already made 4 or 5 creations and says she only wants more beads for her birthday and Christmas! So now I suppose I’ll be picking tiny beads off my floor and out of my carpet for the next 5 years!

Batboy saves the day (he actually has no idea who Batman is!)

One of the happiest boys I know!

Here I am — 33+ weeks and counting (thanks to Miss Nora for being the photographer!)

Have a great weekend, and enjoy what’s left of your summer vacation!

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30 comments

  1. Melinda

    08/10/2017

    Thank you for the granola bar recipe. I have been looking for and trying different recipes for months, then I gave up after I had burnt a tray in the oven. But this one is amazing. My family loved it, my husband said I should make it more often. Thank you for sharing.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh good — we love that recipe too!

    [Reply]

  2. Amie

    08/07/2017

    I LOVE these posts. It’s a good way to re-read those older blog posts. And, I always think about how long I’ve been reading your blog when I remember MOST of these posts from the first time I read them! Have a great rest of your summer!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Amie! So glad you’ve stuck around all this time!!

    [Reply]

  3. Brenda

    08/07/2017

    I would leave the “landing space” empty (maybe add a chair and side table). With the kids all being upstairs there will be times when they want to be in their own space for a little while. Then 1 can be in the bedroom and the other can migrate out into the landing. Also, it might be nice to have an open area for them to be able to leave out larger toys for a few days (I’m thinking train tracks or city layouts) I found that as my kids all got older they all needed some alone time/space occasionally.

    [Reply]

  4. Angela

    08/06/2017

    These are such fun posts, and often inspire me, a newer reader, to click back and read some of your older posts!

    In your painting pictures, it looks like you have some type of plastic over the carpet that appears to be tight fitting. What do you use?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Angela,
    And yes, it’s a “sticky” floor covering that works amazingly well for painting or any other construction projects!! Here’s the post where I talk more about it.

    [Reply]

  5. Trixie

    08/05/2017

    Congratulations on your mortgage payoff! I’ve never had a pool, but love the idea of one. One concern is in Michigan, our time in it is so limited…are you and Dave planning to get a heater for It? How much of the year could I expect to use it comfortably? I’m in the greater Lansing area. Thank you.

    [Reply]

  6. Carrie

    08/05/2017

    If Nora uses a plastic tray or even a cookie sheet with sides when creating with the tiny beads this helps with the beads going all over. This also helps if a project is only partially completed..just set aside the tray for later. I have found using a trap helps with playdoh mess also.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good idea — we even have something that would work perfectly! I’ll get it out next time she does the beads!

    [Reply]

  7. Belinda

    08/05/2017

    Congratulations on paying off your mortgage!!!!!!!!

    [Reply]

  8. JoDi

    08/04/2017

    Congrats on paying off the mortgage! It’s a great feeling!

    [Reply]

  9. Dawn

    08/04/2017

    What an accomplishment! Congratulations to you both!!

    [Reply]

  10. Lynn

    08/04/2017

    Wow! Congratulations on paying off your mortgage! You guys are so impressive! Thanks for sharing so much of your lives on your blog. I love hearing about your family and all that you do!

    [Reply]

  11. Shan

    08/04/2017

    Oh, Andrea, so proud of you and Dave for setting a goal way back when your were so much younger 🙂 and achieving it !!! Congratulations and thanks so much for sharing your life.

    [Reply]

  12. Deb

    08/04/2017

    Congratulations on paying off the mortgage! HUGE accomplishment!

    [Reply]

  13. Susanne

    08/04/2017

    My family has LOVED Perler Beads for years now. In fact, my sister has one Christmas tree in her den devoted to her girls’ Perler Bead creations. It is a small, white artificial tree and looks adorable.

    [Reply]

  14. Allison

    08/04/2017

    You are an inspiration. Congrats on the mortgage! I would turn the landing into a temporary/ rotating art gallery for the kids artwork. They can hold gallery openings for family and host a little party with appetizers and explain their art. I’d probably do this for a few months until you decide on something else.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    this is a cool idea!! Not sure Simon and James would get into it — but Nora sure would 🙂

    [Reply]

  15. Debbie

    08/04/2017

    Paid off mortgage! That is so great! When you say save up for a kiddie pool, do you mean a portable one or inground/above ground pool?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I believe I said we were saving up for a “biggie pool”, not a “kiddie pool” — and yes, it will be a BIGGIE inground pool 🙂

    We might get one of the $500 Intex pools next summer (the kind you need to take down in the winter) but hopefully, in 3 years, we’ll have enough saved for a big inground pool and can host lots and lots of pool parties every summer!

    I know pools aren’t for everyone, but I grew up with an inground pool and Dave and I have both really wanted to put a nice inground pool in since we’ve been married. I know we’d get a ton of use out of it since we’re both home all summer, and we love entertaining in the summer. Plus, our kids are basically fish in the summer time — so it would be a great addition to our backyard!

    [Reply]

    Kelly Hess Reply:

    I too grew up with an in ground pool. Last year we got a 24 foot round above ground pool since our yard wasn’t large enough for an in ground. Our kids are now 11,8, and 5 and it has been THE best thing ever! We are in it every day that we can possibly be granted we live in Cleveland so we have to use it before the snow comes! Go for it!

    [Reply]

  16. Jean

    08/04/2017

    Wow, what a huge accomplishment. You are a real inspiration to so many of us, to set these goals and have the persistence to work at it! You all are still so young, that makes it all the more impressive! Thanks for letting us share in the joy of this!

    [Reply]

  17. Deni

    08/04/2017

    Congratulations on paying off your mortgage! We also paid ours off in May (ditto on the variables), and it is an amazing feeling!!! The landing looks so much bigger white, it would make a great reading area (quiet space) with bookshelves and reading nook.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks! and yes, it FEELS bigger when it’s all white — probably because the sloped ceilings are now the same color as the walls so it’s visually all one “line” instead of breaking half way.
    And yes, we’ve thought about a reading space, a homework space, or a den/TV space, but we don’t really feel our kids are old enough to really utilize any of those options. We need something more “kiddish” for now — and then in 5 years or so, we’ll transform it into another space for older kids 🙂

    [Reply]

  18. Mary Johnson

    08/04/2017

    Hi Andrea,
    Try putting the perler beads in a rimmed cookie sheet or tray! It helps to keep them a bit more contained.

    [Reply]

  19. Karen Sunstein

    08/04/2017

    Congratulations on no mortgage! ! It is a great feeling and gives you a sense of freedom.

    [Reply]

  20. Iliana

    08/04/2017

    Congratulations on paying off your mortage!! Dave and you have worked so hard to achieve this goal, it is a huge deal!! I am very happy for you and your family!!

    [Reply]

  21. Leanne

    08/04/2017

    Congratulations on paying off your mortgage! It’s one of the best feelings in world!

    [Reply]

  22. Meghan

    08/04/2017

    Congratulations on paying off your mortgage! That is so exciting and such an accomplishment! Our lifestyle is what is preventing us from paying off ours. We love to do stuff- boating, professional sporting events, skiing, golf, travel, shows, wine. We just haven’t got to the point where we are willing to sacrifice to make paying off the mortgage happen. It is on a 15 year so it will happen sooner rather than later but. . .

    [Reply]