Showing posts from December, 2014

The one that looks back on 2014 and looks forward to 2015.

2014 has been an incredibly blessed year for me. It's also been a year full of struggles.

First off to begin 2014, there was the birth of my incredible son.

But having a brand new baby and owning your own business is by no means easy. My marriage struggled with the 60 plus hours a week I was working and my sanity really got strained. I started off the New Year of 2014 wondering how I could possibly juggle it all. I was pumping, feeding, working, and never sleeping. It put such a huge strain on my marriage because I physically couldn't stay up after about 8 o'clock. My husband and I never got to see each other. The first 6 months of Tristan's life until finally closing up the daycare really just flew by. 
Then there is the daycare itself. It was such an emotional roller coaster to come to a path where we had to decide to expand or to close. Our problem was not that our business was unsuccessful. Our problem was that our business was too successful. We quite quickly outg…

The one about Seventh Generation Touch of Cloth Diapers

Recently I was sent a sample of Seventh Generation's new Touch of Cloth diapers. The sample included 2 diapers and lucky (or maybe unlucky) I ended up with 1 dirty and 1 wet diaper which made for a pretty good sampling of what to expect from these new diapers. First of all, I was a bit surprised (in a good way) to pull them out of the package and see the 2 completely white diapers. I hate the fact that good diapers are covered in characters that you have to pay extra money for. Secondly, I noticed they feel a bit more starchy than a normal diaper. Not less soft, per se, but just a drier feel. I wanted to break it down into pros and cons that are just easy to understand:

-The diaper is free of inks, lotions, and chemicals.
-The diaper is all white so you aren't paying for character licensing fees.
-The diaper held up well to my heavy wetter. (Seriously my kid eats like a horse, so his wet diapers are always super soaked) No leaks.
-The diaper held up well to a dirty diaper…

The one that talks more about my bipolar disorder.

I've had several people email me asking me more about my bipolar disorder. How did I know I had it, how did I find out that's what it was vs. postpartum depression, etc. I want to try and answer all those questions because this issue is so near and dear to me. I think it's so important to acknowledge mental health issues and deal with them head on. If you are suffering with mental health issues, don't just ignore them. GET HELP. I can't stress this enough. I was bound by time constraints and availability of my psychiatrist, but if I could have gotten help sooner, I definitely would have. There is no reason to suffer. Mental health problems are real and they affect a lot of people. So here are some of the common questions that I've been asked.

1. How did I know it was something more than regular depression?

This question is tough, because honestly I didn't. During the start of it I felt really bad off. I felt suicidal. I actually saw another doctor before my…

The one about Dove Nutrium Moisture body wash.

It's no secret that I'm a frugal mommy. Shower routine to me usually means taking one as fast as I possibly can so that I can go to sleep. So I was especially excited this week when I opened up my mailbox to find my Dove Nutrium Moisture body wash. Dove is putting on the #OneShowerChallenge and so they sent me a free sample to take the challenge. When I'm at the grocery store, I normally don't like to spend a lot of money, so I generally don't buy body wash. But that's partially because it just seems like it's the same as shampoo. The first thing I noticed about Dove Nutrium body wash is that it is not the same consistency as shampoo at all. Dove Nutrium body wash feels like lotion. It's super soft and luxurious feeling. It also smells fabulous.

Basically, the body wash goes on more like lotion. It's not super sudsy. I like that about it. I take a super hot shower and the steam really carried the smell of the body wash to my whole shower and I reall…

The one with the Calico Critters GIVEAWAY!!!! Woohoo!!

It's the day after Christmas, but I'm still in the giving spirit! Today I am hosting an awesome giveaway for a Calico Critters family!! I've already stated in a lot of my blog posts my love for Calico Critters and a family is a great way to start a collection. This is one of the cuter families, too in my opinion! The Tuxedo Cat family is dressed to the nines with the girls in silk dresses and dad is wearing a suit.

Calico Critters are great toys for imaginative play in kids. Plus they are just well made, wholesome toys. 
So go ahead and enter below! Contiguous U.S. only, please!!! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The one with Christmas wishes.

From my family to yours, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. We spent yesterday enjoying food, family, and fun at Zak's Grandma's nursing home. Me and Harper got tons of cool Calico Critters and Tristan got lots of really nice clothes. Harper was so excited for opening gifts. Tristan was aloof about it, but then Harper was really excited to open up his gifts for him and of course pre-try them out. She's spent a lot of time playing with his stuff and probably thinking this big sister stuff isn't so bad after all!

Today we got to go spend time with Zak's dad and his wonderful girlfriend, Jane. We had a lot of laughs, some more good food, and a really good time. I was super stoked because they got me new dishes and we were in bad need of them. Can't wait to make my next food dish and take pictures on them! They are bright and beautiful. They also got me some cool casserole dishes.

Then finally, this evening, my sister and my dad came over and we had EVEN MORE good …

The one where I keep her up late.

Today I'm doing a flashback piece to one of my favorite posts that I don't think too many have actually read. It's a letter to Ms. Harper and I just love the way it turned out and so I want to share it again. I hope you all enjoy it.

To my amazing 3 year old:

Some nights I'm selfish. You should be sleeping. We pick out 2 bedtime stories but we read far more. You love the book I wrote for you about your first year and my pregnancy with you. We look at the ultrasounds and the pictures I spent hours pawing through when I should have been working and you tell me your story since we've read it so many times and my heart overflows with love. So I keep you up.

When we get into bed and I ask you your favorite part of the day and you always surprise me with what you liked the most, I keep you up.

When we talk about what we are thankful for and every single night you wrap your arms around my neck and tell me you are thankful for me and then go on to list every relative you can t…


It's that time of year again. IT'S TIME FOR

That's right! I'm kind of like Oprah. This edition is about my top 5 favorite Christmas movies. Yes nothing gets Christmas going by exhausting your S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) with some Christmas GLAD! In no particular order, because how do you choose just one:
5) DIE HARD. Do I even need to explain this? If I do, I'll just do it with this GIF.

4) National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. This Christmas classic is one of my all time favorite movies in general. It's a classic. Again, I need a GIF.

3) Elf. This place reminds me of Santa's Workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me. This is a goodie because kids like it as well as grown ups. That's a big thing around here. Watching movies that the kidlets will enjoy but that are tolerable to adults is my favorite.

2) Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It's got John Candy AND Steve Martin in it. Need I say mo…

The one with the reindeer craft.

Sundays are our lazy days. We sit around mostly in jammies hanging out, watching football when it's the season (Zak loves football), I usually make a good dinner, and we just enjoy each other's company. Sometimes Sundays are boring, but in a good way. This morning we had an awesome breakfast with my angel mother-in-law. Good food and good times. This afternoon we napped and then once we were all awake Harper was kind of bored and mopey. So she and I were looking for a way to beat the winter blues. She really wants to go outside, but it's so brisk, I'm just not into it.

So I decided to whip up this easy little craft. It took me a few minutes. Here's what you'll need to re-create it:

Light colored paper
If you're Harper, copious amounts of glitter glue and I do mean copious.
Brightly colored background paper, Harp chose blue

First if you're artistically inclined, draw the reindeer and antler shapes onto a piece of thick paper and cut them out.…

The one about Love with Food: December Box Review

Yesterday I was super stoked to open up my mailbox and find my monthly snack box had arrived. Once again, Love with Food did not disappoint. This month I got:
Kettle Corn by Oogies Pitted Green Olives by OlymposHazelnut Spread by NocciolataCookie Chips by Hannah MaxDark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels by Liddabit SweetsChocolate Honey Mints by Honey AcresEspresso Candies by Bali's BestDark Chocolate Coconut by Next by NatureNumerous Coupons$100 Wine Voucher

Now before I talk about the products, let's talk about Love with Food again. Love with Food is a monthly snack subscription service that is all about all natural snacks. You won't find any junk in these products and a good majority of them are organic, which I love. I'm on a cleaner eating diet. Processed food is terrible for you friends. Love with Food is an amazing organization for a lot of reasons:
1) They seriously care about their customers. Last month when my box was late, they sent me a personal email telling me sor…

The one about the snowy day.

Yesterday was a great day to just rest after our busy day on Wednesday. The kids and I were all whooped. But, something magical happened in the morning. Snow started falling and falling and falling. I had to get Tristan outside for the first time in the snow since my Grandma just bought him an awesome Christmas Story-esque snow suit. Unfortunately, Tristan is not a big fan of snow or snow suits, but I still got some cute pictures of his first time in the snow. Harper on the other hand is a huge fan of snow and she and I got to have some fun before Trist really worked himself up in a tizzy. We threw snow balls, giggled, built a tiny snow man, and tried really hard to get Tristan to have fun.

Sometimes I take staying at home for granted. I may shake my head and get frustrated with my kiddos. But other times like yesterday, I just bask in it. I may not have gotten to enjoy his first snowy day if I didn't get to stay at home. I wouldn't have gotten to fight him for 15 minutes to p…

The one about the ENT appointment.

We had our long awaited ENT appointment today for Ms. Harper. It was a long and arduous appointment. I'm glad it's over, although, we're not really fully resolved at this point about where we go next. Harper had an initial appointment, a hearing test, and a bronchoscopy.

Here is a diagram of the bronchoscopy:

This was totally awful with a 3 year old who doesn't understand what the hell is going on. They wouldn't let me hold her and she fought them tooth and nail. She did not want that thing up her nose one bit. They had to check her larynx, though, to make sure that it had resolved and did not require surgery, too. Another helpful thing (not) was that the lady who did hold her was not a warm, loving type at all. All of the nurses and doctors we encountered at Cardinal Glennon were amazing, but the support staff left a lot to be desired. 
The bronchoscope was very traumatizing for Harper and she cried when I brought it up most of the day. I took her to Starbucks and…

The one with the Calico Critters Display.

So as Harp and I gained more and more and more Calico Critters, I began trying to think of a way to put them up that's not all crazy cakes in a basket. I hate digging for things in a basket. Plus, they are ridiculously cute, so why not display them somehow over our play table? A lot of things came to mind, wall shelves, cabinets, etc. But none of them would really hold the Critters up well. Visually I figured, you know what, these guys are the size of spices. So that really drew my attention to spice racks. They make a lot of ornate, wall hanging spice racks. Perfect! And they don't cost that much! Double perfect. Our spice rack came yesterday and I have to say, it looks pretty nice up on the wall.

It holds all of the grown up critters we have so far. Plus, look how cute it looks! I still haven't come up with a solution for the baby critters yet.

In other news, Harper's ENT appointment is tomorrow so I'd just ask for prayers, guidance, and overall good juju. I know…

The one about getting up at 5.

My kids have some sort of evil plot against me and have decided that their new wake up time is 5 am. This is terrible obviously. No one loves getting up at 5 am. In fact I've compiled the Top 5 reasons why getting up at 5 am sucks.

5. No one is happy at 5 am. I'm crabby. The kids are crabby. Everyone is tired. No one got a desirable amount of sleep. 
4. You have to drink 2 cups of coffee in order to feel human. But 2 cups of coffee gives you the jitters and makes it to where you can't nap later. It's the ever apparent coffee/nap crisis. 
3. You are guaranteed to have a weird schedule for your baby for the rest of the day. When the first nap of the day is at 7 in the morning, you just know the day is going to be weird and illogical. 
2. The sun isn't up. It should be sacrilege to wake up before the sun is up. If the sun isn't up, you aren't up. I've tried to explain this logic, but Tristan just stares at me blankly as if he has no idea what I'm talki…

The one about cheese enchiladas!

We are on a no processed foods kick over at the Stroup household. I'm also in to anything that I can stick in my oven. Mostly because it helps keep my house warmer for that hour when I'm cooking. Also a fan of copious amounts of cheese. Pretty sure I should have been born in Wisconsin.
Today I'm featuring a recipe from another blog Gimme Some Oven. Last night I had a hankering for some authentic Mexican food. I had some corn tortillas and some cheese, so it was on! This recipe is vegetarian friendly and all delicious. Gimme Some Oven provides the sauce, I provide the tortillas and cheese. ;)


2 Tablespoons Canola Oil2 Tablespoons Flour4 Tablespoons Chili Powder1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder1/2 Teaspoon Salt1/4 Teaspoon Cumin1/4 Teaspoon Oregano2 Cups Vegetable Stock (Or Chicken Stock for Non Veg)8 Ounces of Cheese (I used half White Cheddar, Half Monterey Jack) I always freshly grate mine with my food processor. Cellulose additive in shredded cheese always takes awa…

The one about EdgeWild Restaurant.

Have you ever been somewhere so fabulous that you just have to tell everyone you know about it? That's what Zak and I experienced on Saturday night when we had his work party at a place we'd never heard of called EdgeWild Restaurant. This place is just fabulous. When you drive up, immediately you are thrust into a really cool environment. The restaurant itself is beautiful inside and out. It makes a great first impression. We were seated and our waiter, Paul, was incredibly cordial, friendly, and spirited. He walked us through the whole menu.

We picked out a few appetizers. We settled on the Artisan Cheese plate, Andouille & Crawfish Stuffed Mushrooms, and finally Truffle Fries. When they brought out our appetizers, both our bellies and our eyes were intrigued! If there is one thing EdgeWild did not lack, it's presentation. Everything looked at beautiful as it tasted. Let's start with the Artisan Cheese plate, they brought out 3 cheeses which I can't even remem…

The one about memories and tinkering.

There's something oddly satisfying to me about setting up mine and Harper's "Calico Critter City", as she so affectionately calls it. I don't know if it's the fact that I dreamed of having them as a little girl when they were still called Maple Town or if it's just tinkering with the tiny little pieces and arranging them that I find calming. My dad said he really thinks it's a good hobby and collectible because he says it's something that Harper won't forget. Our connection over shared interests even if it is a little goofy for an adult to like them. I don't care. 
I think my dad is right in that. My brain has blockaded most of my memories from childhood. Shrinks have told me that this is my brain's defense mechanism to block me from the harm and trauma. That's cool and all, but it would be nice to remember anything about being a kid. Pretty much the only memory I do have is of my sister and mom and I getting snow cones. I'm h…

The one about spoiling your kids.

When I was a kid, things were not privileged. I lived life in an extremely poor family. I never left the state until I was 23 years old. We never vacationed. My dad owned his own business and he worked HARD. We struggled frequently. My mom made most of our clothes when we were very young. My dad worried about feeding everyone. We couldn't afford to buy school lunches. Christmases were dismal. These types of things are the harsh reminders that come with this time of year. This time of year is especially hard for me. Thinking about connections lost, my beginnings, etc.

It's also an extremely bright and wonderful time of year for me. I vowed as a child to never let my children know the life that I had. I think for the most part I am truly succeeding at that. We don't have a lot of money. But my kids don't know anything about that. They know that they are fed, clothed, and loved. They are spoiled anytime they can be. Which brings on what we did this weekend. Zak got a smal…

The one about cloth diapering.

It's no secret I'm a thrifty mommy. I try all sorts of tips and tricks to save some money around the homestead. A great way to do this is cloth diapering. I'm going to instill my cloth diapering tips and tricks on you guys. Hopefully you can use it and maybe save some money yourselves!

We still use disposables overnight because T is a super heavy wetter. We also use disposables when we're out and about so I don't have to carry a wet bag.

What's in my stash:

20 Fuzzibunz One Size Pocket Diaper Covers
20 Microfiber Inserts
20 Hemp Inserts

What I've used in the past:
Thirsties Duo Wraps
BumGenius Diapers
G Diapers
Bumpkins Diapers

The Fuzzibunz that I use are hand me downs and that's why I have them. They are a basic pocket diaper and what I'll use for the examples. I've used a ton of different diapers in the past and the Fuzzibunz are right in the middle of the pack for your typical diaper. I suggest using Microfiber inserts with a hemp …