Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday 5

1.
My mother-in-law Cathy came to visit last week for Bailey's birthday. She always comes bearing gifts - usually for the kids. This time she had a special gift in tow for me as well.
They stole my heart
Bailey  Avery  Graham

It's a mother's necklace from Jade Vine Jewelry on Etsy.

Cathy works at a post office and meets all kinds of people that sell their creations on Etsy, including Cassia - the owner of this particular shop.
I absolutely love the necklace. It's personal and beautiful at the same time. I've already worn it twice in the past week and received many compliments on it.

2.
Last night I attended my first Bible study ever. 

I think it was maybe a year or two ago, there was a post on a blog I typically read and she was talking about starting a Bible study as a great way to make new friends and create long-lasting relationships, your own little sense of community. I remember thinking, that would be awesome, but everybody around here already has their established friends. 
And that is actually somewhat true about a small town. It seems everybody already knows everybody and people already have those links established. But in the last year, I've been surprised by the number of new families with small children that have moved to the area. People our age, in the same stage of life, going through the same things we are. It wasn't just us. 

The tricky thing is meeting those people. And not coming across as a total creeper desperate for human contact.
Which sometimes I feel like I am...
Making friends is hard. 
I know I've said it before. I went to college out-of-state. The people I was closest with in college live at least an 8 hour drive away. So while most of us are in the same stage of life right now (married with small children), we don't get to see each other.  So the people I share a lot in common with aren't around to sit and share a cup of coffee. I have two other close friends in the area, but I don't get to see them all that often either. 

So I was pretty excited when a woman I met a few months ago at library story time invited me to a Bible study she was starting at her home. It seems like we are in the same boat, wanting a sense of community, looking for people that could possibly become real friends, desiring conversation beyond topics of preschool and sleep schedules. And it's work. It takes putting yourself out there. It's not as easy as it was in school or even in the workplace. But I think friendship is worth the effort. 

The atmosphere was relaxed and homey, Brigette (the hostess) made such cute delicious snacks, and the video series really seems like it is going to be a great fit for our group. I have high hopes to learn a lot and fill in a bit of that friendship void while I'm at it. 


3.
We just watched the season finale of How To Get Away With Murder.

Girrrrl! That show always keeps us guessing.
Not sure how they are exactly going to transition into the next season, but I guarantee we will tune in to find out!


4.
Random fact: I hate this blog name. 
I started this blog back in 2011 without knowing whether or not it was something I would enjoy doing. I think Jared came up with the name, and I was cool with it. But over time, I don't know... I just don't really think the name is very "me." I don't know if it's because it seems overly cheery and perfect while I am more realistic and sarcastic or what exactly.

In hindsight I wish I had picked the URL to be something less specific to the blog name, that way the blog name could be easily changed. Literally "thesolkos.blogspot" would have done the trick. But I was new to all this and thought it was supposed to be the same. So now it is in the URL and it seems like a lot of work to switch it at this point.
Like, would my 7 or so regular readers be able to find me?!
Maybe it isn't that much work. Who knows? It did take me basically two whole years to finally bring myself to create a new email and abandon the old one that I created when I was 14. So maybe in another couple years I will work up the gumption and do something about it.

5.
Have you ever heard of or played Cards Against Humanity?

Jared found out about this "party game for horrible people" and immediately wanted it for Christmas. My apologies, baby Jesus. We have played it a few times and - shocker- since we're horrible people, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

This past weekend Jared insisted we play it with my parents, sisters, Justy's boyfriend Zac, and Jared's mom. Can we just say, this isn't necessarily a game you should play with your in-laws?! I was basically forced into playing along.

The premise of the game is just like Apples To Apples. One person reads a card (the black card) and everyone else playing chooses a card from their hand to play to answer the first card's question. The original reader picks the one he or she likes best. There are usually some good ones, sometimes some that aren't as funny, and then there are some like this:

My dad read the top card.
The winning card (the white one) was played by my mother.
I almost nearly died laughing.
It was funny when it was read aloud, but it was even funnier when my mom raised her hand to admit she played the card.
They sell expansion packs and we most definitely will be needing one of them soon.


Well, that's it for me. I am off to bed early. Tomorrow Justy and I are going to go get cheap reflexology sessions at the massage therapy college and then see a matinee of 50 Shades of Grey. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess the book isn't actually better in this instance.
Goodnight!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bailey turns 5


Bailey turned 5 years old last week. 
And like every other living, breathing preschool-aged girl, a Frozen party was asked for. 
(And asked for. And asked for. And you get the point.) 
So at her party this past Saturday, she got what she wanted.

She was especially excited about the larger-than-life Elsa balloon. Even I was surprised by its size when it was inflated.

One word to sum up her mood of the day: Sassy.
She was sashaying around the house in her beloved maxi skirt, throwing spunky attitude for every possible photo.

(Isn't this the most pathetic "wall" banner ever? Negative Amazon review coming soon.)







It was a good party and Bailey soaked up all things Elsa and Frozen, including a large majority of her presents. 

Graham is also particularly Frozen obsessed, so he had to give Bailey's new sneaks a test drive. 
He heartily approves.

Some other pics from the day.







Saturday, February 14, 2015

evolving

I realize that recently I haven't had a lot of quality in this online space. I used to blog pretty regularly - about kids, life, my opinions, or just random updates. I am lucky if I write something twice a month lately. 

Blogging became sort of an escape for me back in 2011. It was basically the only thing I did for me. I've always liked writing, so it was a good fit. And it stayed that way for a long time, until this past year when I moved my health and fitness from the (way, way, way) back burner up closer to the front. 

And it's not only that. My mind has been occupied with other things, and quite a lot of it is stuff that isn't truly *my* stuff. It's some deep shit that is mostly other people's deep shit, but it affects me too. They're people I love and care about, so I worry. I pray. I am a sounding board. I'm trying my best to be a solid support person. Situations like these are the ones that remind me of a country song: You Find Out Who Your Friends Are.  (Gotta love a good Tra-Law reference!) I want to be that friend. 
Call me - I'll answer. 
Need to cry/scream/vent? I'm here.
Need a hug? I love a good hug!
Not sure what you need? I can bake some cookies and we can drown your/my/our sorrows in chocolate together.

So while writing has always been a cathartic process for me (Your Honor, I submit into evidence my angst-filled pre-teen diaries), this isn't the place for all the emotions and thoughts running rampant in my mental space these days. And with those emotions and thoughts tied up, I am feeling zapped for inspiration. I hate to make this blog a periodic catch-up list of what we did each week, and that feels like what it has been lately. It used to be more than that to me, but everything changes and evolves. My efforts and time are just being put to other uses right now. So for those who check in here periodically and wonder why I seem to have slid off the grid, now you know. 

So now for the randomness I referred to earlier:

Jared's little Etsy business was a bit ridiculous in January. Last year, after a big (for us) Christmas rush, it was complete crickets for months. We expected the same this year. Surprisingly it was busy with lots of orders. Also helping traffic recently is the Etsy Lookbook for Spring 2015. Jared was contacted to submit an item for consideration back before Thanksgiving. Both of us were like, Is this a joke? Is someone just trying to get free stuff? but apparently it was for reals. He was eventually selected and notified last week. His item is featured with only 20 others in the "Kids" section. 
I have zero idea how his item got the committee's attention in the first place, especially since Jared has just a small shop with only 100+ sales, but it happened. Obviously Jared isn't trying to grow his shop exponentially, but it's nice to get noticed and hopefully gain a few more orders. 


Today is Valentine's Day.
So... Happy Heart Day!
Y'all know my opinion on Valentine's Day - it's kinda silly. 
It's great that people want to show some love and affection. But the best part of Valentine's Day is observing the boyfriends and husbands that are normally total dicks 24/7 go out and buy a dozen roses and get called the "Best Husband EVER!!" Am I right? But that is beside the point...

Anyway, now that I have kids that (sort of) care, I gotta step up my V-Day game a bit. 

We baked cookies for Avery's class party and got crazy with the pink glittery stuff. Both girls gorged on candy after their school parties this week. Today Jared and I gave them tiny Russell Stover hearts (Target for a whole buck) and a new rubber duck each for the bath tub. (Weird I know, but they've been whining since I threw their others away. I don't do moldy ducks.)

My Valentine's spirit on display:
Nail tutorial from The Small Things blog
Nails and cookies, that is as festive as I get.

Tiny nails were also painted fitting colors for today.

And this wasn't even a sugar-induced crazy face.

Speaking of that crazy face, Bailey turns 5 next week. Grandma Cathy is flying in for a few days, and we will be doing it up Elsa style at this time next Saturday. And hey, maybe if we're lucky she'll make the above face when she sees all the Elsa and Anna and Olaf crap plastered everywhere!

Oh, and it's exactly 30 days until Jared and I visit this luxurious paradise for 6 whole days. 
Are you tired of me rubbing that in your face yet? Well too bad! It's getting me through some challenging workouts, carpet pee stain cleaning sessions (toilet train yourself already, Graham!) and some freaking cold days around here.

And speaking of vacation, if anyone reading this post is a reader and has some great beach reads they'd like to recommend, please leave a comment. I'd really appreciate it! I want to be prepared with a good book or two to enjoy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February this and that

The book nerd in me is coming out a bit again lately. 
I've always loved to read, but sometimes after I finish a book, I get in this weird slump where I am lazy and don't want to start another one. But the good news is that our local library (which is awesome, by the way) has about 15 of the 30-ish books in my current to-read list on Goodreads, so I have zero excuse to not be reading.

I most recently finished Yes Please by Amy Poehler. 

I'd heard a lot of rave reviews about it. Lots of "empowering to women" comments, that kind of thing. Jared downloaded it to his tablet and read it thinking it would be funny. He's always thought Amy Poehler was hilarious. So when he told me he didn't like it, I was thinking maybe it was too much "girl power!" or she referenced her monthly flow a couple times or something. So I picked it up at the library and read it anyway.
The following sentence sums up my feelings:
Meh.

That's my official book review. 

It wasn't really funny. 
Yes, I laughed a few times because I think the woman could rewrite the dictionary and still make it funny, but it wasn't a funny book. There were too many parts that I was like, "Yep, don't care." "Yep, still don't care." *skimming. skimming. skimming*

A whole chapter on her drug use. 
As someone who has never done a single illegal drug, this was interesting for a few pages, but it started to give that feeling you get when you're stuck talking to a 19 year-old, and all they can talk about is how awesome some party was last weekend. And how many people were there. And oh man, how drunk everyone was. 
And you're standing there, glazing over, trying to pretend to give a shit. 
And it seems like no one is ever going to come save you from this tedious conversation. 
That was my feeling during parts of the book. 
So in total, I don't recommend. 
Also, it's a memoir, so please write something we can't learn from reading your Wikipedia entry.


This past Sunday was the Super Bowl. Despite the fact that I have always despised the Patriots and don't give a flip about the Seahawks either, we watched. We always watch. As a football fan, it's what you do.
Oh, that and we always eat snacks.

Our kids thought it was the coolest thing ever that they didn't have to eat at the dining room table. 
A table? 
Filled with snacks?
In the living room?
While we watch TV?!
It was apparently special in the world of toddlers and preschoolers. 

It was a great game, even though I did lose the family pool to Justy.

Let's see. What else is new? 
What else... what else...

Oh, I've been obsessively reading reviews for our vacation to Puerto Vallarta in March. I am jotting down notes of people's tips on restaurants and tours and how to go bars at night without risking our safety. I realize this might be borderline obsessive, but since we haven't gone on vacation in forever, I want to make this the best vacation possible. 
Also, I bought a bathing suit.
Annnnnd it has two pieces. Eek! 
I feel okay about it. 
Wait, can black still be slimming even if your stomach is showing???

And speaking of my stomach, I am only showing you this photo because I am proud of where I've come in the last few months. And I know I posted it on instagram, but since I have like 12 followers on there, I am posting here too. Deal with it. 
Those are my shorts from this past summer, I was still wearing them in August. I can't even keep them up at this point - they slide straight down. I'm excited to need to buy a new pair of shorts for vacation. 

I know some people losing weight take all kinds of progress photos, and I can see why. It's motivating to see the loss. You see the scale number decreasing, and you feel yourself getting stronger, but it takes your brain a while to catch up. Seeing it in a photo helps.

What else...?

Lots of snuggles. With blankets. And books.
It is so freakin' cold outside. 
And even if I did want to throw them outside in the snow for a few minutes, Avery is currently minus one snow boot. I can't find that sucker anywhere.
(Maybe I should check in the magical drawer that Blankie always disappears into...)

I am currently reading a book that is nearly 20 years old.
It was an Oprah book club selection back in the day. 
This could be good or bad.
Oprah has done right by me (Pillars of the Earth), and she's also done me so, so wrong (Freedom).

In all honesty, I started this book almost 2 months ago. It didn't catch my attention right off the bat, and I just wasn't in the mood for it, and I read another book in the middle of it. I was about to quit altogether, but then I read some reviews on Goodreads and felt like thousands of people couldn't call it their favorite book ever and it be absolutely horrible. So I decided to keep reading. And when I think back, some of my favorite books were ones that built slow, establishing solid characters - ones that stick with me to this day. I'm about halfway through. And it's a good, solid book so far. 

So that is what is going on in my world. That and planning an Frozen-themed party for a certain girl who is turning five in a mere two weeks. Five! I can't even believe it!
Check back in later this month to see the huge, kick-ass Olaf balloon.