Tuesday, April 21, 2015

sisters' weekend 2015

This past Friday-Saturday-Sunday was spent at the 3rd Annual Ellis Sisters' Weekend
And yes, it's just as glamorous as it sounds.

We met in Omaha this year. 
And this mom was more than ready for the escape.

 We met up for drinks at a wine bar before dinner on Friday night.

Then we ate at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse. And it was delicious. 
As a first-timer, I was slightly picked on.
I wish there was video evidence of all the tossed shrimp pieces I caught in my mouth, but alas, there is not.

Saturday morning we woke bright and early to partake in a 5k walk/run in support of Child Abuse Prevention - a cause that is near and dear to all of our hearts.
We walked most of the race as planned, with a sprint toward the end as it was beginning to rain heavily just as we crossed the finish line. 

The afternoon was spent shopping. 
Side note: H&M is my new fave.

We checked into our downtown hotel later on. 
It wasn't the best. (See also: my shitty TripAdvisor review)

The chlorine and chemical levels in the hot tub should not make you feel like your eyes might be bleeding after 10 minutes.  But hey, I'm no expert.

And now for the yearly photos:

And this last one is so ridiculous, clearly only the sister wearing a shirt of a cat in glasses could have requested it.

Also, it sucks being the one holding out the camera - No, I actually don't prefer that extra chin and non-existent neck thankyouverymuch - and I vote Justy does it next year.

Although I think this one might be my favorite of the weekend.
Love the unbridled annoyance, Beaner.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Solko family randoms

Nothing new and noteworthy has taken place around here recently. We're just hanging out, hoping that these beautiful 70ยบ temps stick around.

Here's a quick snapshot of our last week.

Yes, Batman sucks his thumb and uses his pliers instead of a cape in a pinch.

Giddy up.
Hello Kitty and cowgirl boots are clearly a "do."
Right, Glamour magazine?

This little honey has been all about playing mom to Bun-Bun. 
Overheard last week, my personal favorite:
"Ugh, this kid is driving me crazy!"

Jared's dad and step-mom were in town for a one-day visit this past weekend.
Tiny picnic table? Check.
Shades. Check.
Cheetos. Check.
There you have it, folks - the recipe for toddler happiness.

In other random news, I'm still training for that 5k. In fact it's going well enough that I'm hoping to actually run my first ever race next month sometime. I completed the 20 minute run yesterday and it was not nearly as painful as I feared. I get a pretty awesome feeling of achievement upon finishing each time, so it feels worth it. 

Also...my cast should be coming off today. Hooray! It's not that I'm all that excited to get off the sidelines and back on dish duty, but this thing is kind of a drag. Mainly I need it off so I can enjoy myself thoroughly at the 3rd annual Sisters' Weekend. And it's this weekend - eeeek!

We are spending the weekend in Omaha this time - doing a 5k walk/run Saturday morning and spending a night in a downtown hotel. I'm excited to get away for a day or two and spend time with some of my best friends. 
See ya soon, sisters!

Sisters' Weekend: 2014
Sisters' Weekend: 2013

Thursday, April 9, 2015

new focus and goals

This week marked one year of exercising. And not just here and there exercising - consistently exercising 5 days a week. I added in MyFitnessPal at the end of the month, so my 365 day streak on that site is quickly approaching. Annnnnd I'm a nerd, so I'm excited about that. 

I thought today I would take a quick look back at how far I've come - not something I usually do visually. It's one thing to weigh yourself and know those numbers, it's a whole other ball game to see a picture side-by-side.

The "before" photo is from November 2013. Not the start of my journey (I feel corny even saying the word "journey" but I can't think of a better replacement) but basically the same as my start weight last April. The "after" is a photo I snapped in Mexico a couple of weeks ago. And in case you're wondering about the round circle on my stomach - it's the site for my insulin pump. #diabetesprobs

Recently (and for the past couple of months) the scale hasn't budged much. I've noticed my jeans and some shirts are a little looser, so I'm not complaining too loudly. I would like to ideally lose another 8 pounds to reach my goal of a healthy BMI, but it isn't the end of the world if it doesn't happen. I've gotten less rigid in my definition of success. Success isn't just a number on a scale, it's how good you feel. And it's taken a long, lonnnng while to realize it, but I feel good where I am at right now.

Since coming back from vacation, I broke my hand. As expected, it's made things challenging. As many of you know I love my HASfit videos and was nearly finished with the 90 Day Warrior Program. I had 7 days left, but right now I can't complete the last week since I can't lift any weight. It sucks to come 12 weeks into something and get stopped on the homestretch.

But honestly... I was getting a little stir-crazy anyway. These Iowa winters leave everybody trapped indoors and I am pretty sick of exercise videos. With the weather getting nicer, I've been reevaluating what I want to do and achieve. A big thanks to my deadbeat hand for expediting that process!

I decided to finally use the Couch-to-5k (C25k) app on my phone. And I downloaded a running app to track my route and pace. Right now I am still in the phases of interval running, so the following route is actually 19 minutes of running (approx 10:30min/mile pace) and 18 minutes of walking. 

I don't know how accurate it all is, but it's nice to have another tool in the tool belt for evaluating progress. Plus having no access to a treadmill, I had zero idea what pace I was running at, which is a helpful piece of info when logging exercise in MFP. My route looks a little crazy because I am still figuring it all out. Plus I backtracked a wee bit when I realized I forgot to pee before leaving the house and had to duck into the public library quickly. I ended my workout doing some extra running around our block. 

I don't know how the rest of this 5k training is going to go. I hadn't really ever thought of running one before; this is just a new way to challenge myself. I've never been much of a runner (unless running sprints in high school track counts - Spoiler Alert: it really doesn't). Right now I am fine with the intervals. It's the 20 minutes straight next week that scares me. But I will cross that bridge when I get to it. Just like I have everything else.

For any runners out there, I appreciate any and all tips you can offer.
Over the last week I have come to appreciate the necessity of stretching. Yikes!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Day

Look at me - getting a post out on the same day it happened! Write it down, people!
Truth be told I have nothing else to do while Jared dozes away on the couch before work, but I'm still giving myself the credit since I am currently chicken-pecking out these words.

I digress.


family photo

 so random, but I love it

most pictures looked a little something like this

Weiss family great-grandkids posing with their found loot

And on a non-Easter side note, today marks 10 years together for Jared and me. 

A whole freaking decade. 
That's crazy, right? 
But then again, as I have been reminded of plenty this weekend, I am old.
(Try telling high school kids that only a few people had cell phones when you were their age and that texting wasn't even a thing until college. I swear they look at you like you're a martian.)
2005 doesn't seem all that long ago.
But then again, I'm getting up there in years...   ;)

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

'round these parts

Dying Easter eggs is a yearly tradition, one I think Jared might actually enjoy more than the kids. He is forever trying all different color combinations, which usually results in at least one hideous brown egg - but not this year! Progress.

And in News That Should Surprise No One, Avery was in it for the food.
The easy access just proved to be too much of a temptation.

I've been in kids'-crap downsizing mode lately. 
I'm not sure what caused the change, but I realized holding on to all this baby stuff, clothes especially, is ridiculous. Holding onto itty-bitty onesies is not going to prevent our kids from growing up at lightning speed.
So I spent hours one afternoon sorting through stuffed tote after stuffed tote, saving my favorites from each child's tiny wardrobe. There are so many memories tied to some of the outfits, and I will admit I shed some tears. 
My babies aren't really babies anymore.

In the end Jared dropped three garbage bags full of clothes off at a local consignment shop and we sold the crib to my cousin. The breast pump that served me faithfully through three children sold quickly on Ebay. And with all the stuff leaving our storage areas, I feel a little more at peace with saying goodbye to the baby stages and welcoming all the new stages to come.

Last week I embarrassingly landed wrong while doing a burpee- an exercise move created by Satan himself. And in true nurse form, I toughed it out for a week before admitting defeat and getting an x-ray. 

The verdict: a broken hand.

I'm currently in a half-cast/half-splint for the next two weeks. And I'm saying hourly prayers that my kids are kind to me and slow to realize just how much at a disadvantage I am. 

Just typing this pathetically short blog post has taken a ridiculous amount of time. And one-handed dishes is the most laughable task ever.

Heal quickly, hand!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Puerto Vallarta

We've been back home from vacation for about a week. And I swear that's almost how long it's taken to get everyone back on schedule. Today Graham finally napped without screaming in protest for 10 minutes first. Major progress.

But let's get back to the subject at hand. 
We spent 6 glorious days away from home in the land of Mexico, specifically at the Hyatt Ziva in Puerto Vallarta. 

We left home on Sunday afternoon and spent the night at Catrina's, getting up at 3 AM to make it to the airport for our 6 AM flight Monday morning. 
Believe me, a long-awaited vacation is the only time I'm this happy at 4 AM.

We arrived at our resort in Puerto Vallarta at 2 PM local time, and in typical style began drinking and eating immediately. Once our room was ready, we wasted no time throwing on our suits and flagging down a waiter to place a drink order.

While Jared frequently stuck with beer, I made it a goal of sorts to try as many different drinks as possible. There was no shortage of new drink options.

We sat pool side or on the beach for hours each and every day. 

The service was amazing and our drinks were never empty. We took in the scenery and the sun's rays. I read an entire book from start to finish (The Girl on the Train - great beach read) and enjoyed the silence. Jared frequently checked out the activities, playing darts and even singing karaoke (a Spanish song no less! Loco Por Ti - check it out, my husband's crazy) one night after consuming a few margaritas for courage. 

We met quite a few people on our second day in Puerto Vallarta. It was overcast and rainy all day, so Jared and I took ourselves (and our cocktails) to the adults-only hot tub. We ended up socializing and drinking for 4 1/2 hours, having a lot of laughs and meeting some fun people. Jared was feeling no pain pretty quickly - partly because it was St. Patrick's Day and also because our hot tub mates had previously tipped the pool waiter quite handsomely. We wanted for nothing that day. Except maybe some sun.

The resort itself was newly remodeled, reopening just this past December. It was beautiful. Each and every detail was clearly thought out. Even the walkways through the resort were picture worthy.
The beach was clean and the views were spectacular. 
Our room was great. We were on the highest floor (other than the penthouse) and one whole wall was floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors facing the beach. Each room had an ocean view and this was ours.

We fell asleep each and every night with the door open and the sound of the crashing surf lulling us to sleep.

We stayed at the resort most of the time, but we hit up downtown one morning to see what it was all about and purchase souvenirs. It was a scenic cobblestone boardwalk with stores and restaurants flanking the other side.

The food at the resort was phenomenal. The buffet was actually delicious (which I think is probably a high achievement for an all-inclusive) and we loved eating breakfast there. Can't beat a delicious omelet and fresh baked croissants! 
Out of the four restaurants at the resort, we had two favorites and divided our evening meals between them.

And then on our last night, we didn't want to chose between the two. 
So we didn't. 
We ate first at the Asian restaurant and afterward went straight to the steakhouse. And while part of me is ashamed to admit this, another part of me (aka: the fatty part) says it with pride - we then went to our room and ordered room service. 
We ordered a pizza and dessert. 
And we ate all that food, people!
I have zero vacation shame, it's fine. 
And I can proudly say I didn't even gain weight on vacation. It's a miracle.
Thank God for the amazing resort gym because I didn't hold back on anything I wanted to eat or drink the entire time we were on vacation.

We had an amazing time. This was our first vacation alone in 6 years. And if I'm honest, it took awhile getting used to it being just us. But it was needed and well worth saving up for. We were able to reconnect as a couple - no kids, no jobs, no responsibilities. 

But when it was time to come home, we were ready. We had three little people pretty excited to see us again. And even more excited to see what we brought home for them. 

Maracas for the win every time.

** A big internet shout-out to my parents for watching our kids for most of the week and to Justy and her boyfriend Zac for staying at the house for a day or two with the kids. We greatly appreciate all your help!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Friday faves

So. I'm a day late. I started this on a Friday, so it still counts right?
Better late than pregnant.

This weather.
On my goodness we were ready for a break from the indoors! We've been outside all week. Riding bikes and trikes. Tearing up the backyard. Going on long walks. Walking everywhere actually. I've been so anxious to be outside I even picked up the girls from school with G loaded in the stroller and we walked home one day.
That being said, I'd appreciate one day of snow while we are gone on vacation so our friends and family can be a tad bit envious of our amazingly warm weather.

Old stuff.
I love old stuff. Apparently my affair with old things has been going on for awhile because back in middle school I found a wedding picture of my dad's parents and had it up in my room. 
Yep, I was clearly the trendiest 6th grader.
I like doing that around our house too. Instead of switching out for the newest photos of everyone, I like to display my favorites from over the years. It will be even more meaningful as the kids grow bigger and bigger. 

So while at my parents' house last weekend, I decided I wanted to reclaim that old wedding photo I so proudly displayed in my tween years. And after digging through boxes in the closet housing all my and my sisters' old stuff, I found it.
Exactly as I remembered.

And while I was digging, I came across other old photos I'd found years ago and since forgotten about. They were carefully preserved in my tacky childhood jewelry box.

A photo of my grandmother addressed to her future husband.
Ronald, I'll love you always.  Love, Joyce

Seriously, isn't that the sweetest?!
Fifty-five plus years later and I know that statement has been proven true day in and day out.
And this is why I love old stuff.

And to my jealous sister Justina who claims the oldest child always gets all the cool stuff, I am making copies for y'all. You're welcome. 

Love Me Like You Do
I saw 50 Shades of Grey a couple weeks ago with Justy. I am definitely not a prude, but I couldn't help but giggle like a school girl on a few occasions and share an embarrassed glance with my sister.
But this song
I'm obsessed.
I'm also a chronic new-song-over-player. Sorry Jare.
He'll be hating it in no time, I assure you.

Kids in workout clothes
Bailey received this outfit from Aunt Beaner for her birthday. 
She refuses to wear it unless some physical activity is planned.
Unlike her mom who just lives in workout pants.

Travel prep
I love to make lists. 
And believe me, packing lists were made a month ago. 
Obsessive? Yes.
For weeks I've had a dedicated shelf in the closet for things I don't want to forget. I have an organized calendar on the fridge for whoever is watching our kids on each day. Copies of our passports are made. Cameras are charged. Beach books are purchased. Music playlists are finished.
So to sum it up: I'm ready.
I'm coming for you, Mexico!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

enjoying my own

I've written before - well over a year ago - about the struggle I sometimes feel with where I am in life right now. There are times when staying at home with three young kids is the best possible job in the world. 
And there are days when it just isn't. 

Yet I've come to realize that most of my insecurities with being a stay-at-home-mom come from within. On bad days I start to doubt my purpose. Occasionally I let comments made by others - at times they might even be well-intentioned comments - affect how I view myself. 
And that's crappy. 
That's on me. 

There are going to be people who don't know me well or those with limited life experience who judge my decision to stay at home. Or ask what I could possibly do all day. Or roll their eyes when I say I've had a rough week. 

But I get to choose how I see myself, not outsiders. 

And honestly, a few years ago I too would have seen only the up-sides of being a SAHM. Because staying home, raising your own kids, is a blessing right? 
And it is. 
But it's not for everybody. 
Some days it's not even for me. 
Because just like every other mom in the world - working outside the home or not - some days just suck.

Lately though, our days are better. I feel less stressed than a few months ago. 
I don't regret my decision to stay at home with my kids these last two years. 
I get to do some extras that I wouldn't if I were gone during the day, like tucking Graham in for his nap and having plenty of time to hit the library with all three kids.
I've met some friends that I probably wouldn't have had contact with otherwise.
I've had the opportunity to take better care of my health - both with eating and exercising - that I know I probably wouldn't make time for if I were working.

So I'm cutting myself some slack, not being so hard on myself.
Or maybe I'm getting more perspective as I age. (30 is so old and wise, ya know.)
Or maybe I just give less of a shit about what other people think.

I read something on a random blog a while back that said mothers are 
"the keepers of the details in their families' lives." 
I like that.
Not only are we keeping the details straight about doctor appointments and tee-ball practices, but the laundry gets done, the dirty bathrooms get cleaned, and supper gets cooked. Working mom or stay-at-home mom. We're all still moms.
So yeah, there ya have it. My job description:
I keep the train on its track. 

We all contribute differently to our kids' lives. 
I cultivate details through records of our lives: baby books, photo albums, journals I write for the kids, this blog even. That's my little extra that I add in.
Jared is a hands-on guy. He is out in the kitchen cooking and baking with the kids, letting them each sniff the cinnamon and the cumin, watching them take turns stirring batter. In the spring they'll help him pot the plants they grew together from seeds. 

Other parents plan massive birthday party blow-outs that put the Solko Family's to shame. 
Others are great with arts and crafts and anything Pinterest can dream up. 
Some have a nightly routine filled with blankets and books that I envy. 

We're all different. And it's okay.
I didn't exactly envision staying at home full-time. And that's okay too. 
But I need to enjoy more and worry less. 
To everything there is a season, right?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday 5

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.

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. 

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!

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.

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.

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.