Meet the Sullivans: November 2015

November 25, 2015

Pre-Baby Day in the Life

Our little family is about to undergo a big adjustment! Our days as a family three are numbered and I'm sure that once the baby arrives our memories of what life was like before will be a bit of a blur, so I thought it would be fun to document what life was like right before he arrived.

So, this is Friday, November 20th, 2015. I'm 34, Keith is 36, Owen is 3 years 10 months old, and the baby is 37 1/2 weeks.

6:37am Owen was up in the middle of the night, so we all slept in a little more than we usually do. Keith was up first, got our coffees and Owen's milk, and when he came back upstairs Owen was in our bed already. He loves being able to get out of his bed on his own and running into our room first thing.

7:00am We turn on Disney Jr. and watch one show, drink our coffee.

7:30am Owen and I head downstairs to play and have breakfast before we have to leave for school. He plays around me in the kitchen while I put together his breakfast and his lunch since he'll be staying at school for "lunch bunch" today.

7:50am I run up and grab Owen's clothes for school. Keith comes downstairs and hangs with Owen so I can shower and get dressed. They eat breakfast while they play and Keith gets Owen dressed.

8:15am I shower, but decided to skip washing my hair since I'm short on time, so I use dry shampoo instead. I bought Not Your Mother's Clean Freak this time, and I don't love it as much as the Dove kind I had before, but it does an okay job. I put on some make up quickly. I've got bags under my eyes and I'm feeling puffy and tired at this point in the pregnancy, so this is as good as it's going to get today!

8:16am Keith leaves for work. He's running a little late too. I try to rally Owen into following me out to the car, but he wants to find his Stick Bot toy to bring to school. We do a quick search and can't find it in the usual places. He throws quite the tantrum about finding it right now, and I tell him we have to leave right now. He does not want to go, but as soon as I start a count down, "5, 4, 3, 2..." he follows me outside, but not without some stomping and a few tears.

8:30am We're pulling out of the driveway! I realize I never ate breakfast, but at least I took my Pepcid so I'm not nauseous. We listen to Owen's current favorite song "Better When I'm Dancin'" from the Peanuts Movie while we drive to school. He drinks another cup of milk and a Z Bar on the way. His school provides snack, but he doesn't always eat it since it sometimes involves things he doesn't like, so I always make sure to have something extra for him on the way to school and on the way home.

8:43am We made great time getting to school this morning! Maybe it's because it's Friday? Or because it's the Friday before Thanksgiving? We get a spot in the school parking lot and run in to use the bathroom before Owen goes into his classroom.

8:45am His teacher opens the door and welcomes everyone in. His teacher is amazing and we all love her! Owen says "hi" to her and takes off to put his sweatshirt in his cubby, and then to put his picture on the attendance board. This is how they have the children "check-in" at the start of class. I sign him in and sign him up for lunch bunch. I hang around for a little bit and check to see what's for snack on this day. It's a "special snack" which means it's a birthday snack, which I can see is berries, whipped cream and angel food cake. At least he might in the strawberries! And he has his lunch for later, so he'll be okay. Once Owen gets settled at the play dough table I say goodbye. I ask for a kiss and he tells me "maybe later?", which is new. He's usually willing to give me one. I settle for a high five and head out.

9:00am I'm in the car and on my way to my pedicure appointment! This will be my last one before the baby arrives and I'm really looking forward to it!

9:15am I'm a half hour early, so I go to Starbucks to grab a coffee and pumpkin bread. While I wait for the nail salon to open I scroll through Instagram. I'm doing a "follow friday" with some blog friends, so I make sure to go through and comment on as many of their posts as I can.

9:45am They're open! I contemplate a few shades and decide to go with a red. I'm torn between OPI Chick Flick Cherry and Red Hot Rio. I end up with Rio because it has a brightness to it that I like. I seriously love having a pedicure -- I just wish they were longer!

10:20am I'm all done and head over to the store to buy some fruit (melon and pears) and milk for Owen since we're almost out. Running out of milk in our house is disastrous, so we like to always have plenty in the fridge. I have about an hour and a half before I need to leave to get Owen so I decide to head home. Usually I would probably try to run some errands or something, but I'm kind of extra tired these days, so going home sounds like the best plan.

10:30am I empty the dishwasher, rinse and load the dirty dishes, pick up the house, start a load of laundry, put away a load of laundry, and make our beds. Then I search everywhere for Owen's Stick Bot. I can't find it which is too bad.The baby's crib obviously doesn't need to be made, but I wanted to show you that it is all ready for him!

I eat a really quick, early lunch before running out the door to pick Owen up.

12:30pm Pick Owen up from lunch bunch. He's having lots of fun, and doesn't want to leave or stop playing with the toys. We finally leave after he sees his friends are leaving too.

1:10pm We arrive home, check the mail, go inside and play for a little while.

2:00pm I decide Owen should take a little nap since he has promotion testing at Taekwondo tonight, and we want him to well rested so he can focus. He uses the potty, I shut his shutters and he lays down on his bed with his blanket. I sit on the floor next to his bed and he rubs my arm with his hand -- that's his favorite way to find comfort.

3:00pm He's still not asleep, and no matter how much I bribe or threaten he is still not going to fall asleep. I know he's tried, and I am too, so this is really frustrating. Promotion testing is at 6:30, and on days like today we're usually putting him to bed at 7:30, so a nap was really necessary today to make sure he gets through the test and then dinner afterward. Sometimes no matter how much I try I just can't force my plan on him, even if it's in his best interest. I give up and we go downstairs to play. This is also when I give up on taking pictures!

3:45pm We play with cars, read books and robot action figures for a while before deciding to turn on a movie (Frosty the Snowman) and rest on the couch. Playing on the floor is really hard these days. My big stomach really gets in the way of leaning over to reach for a toy, etc.

4:30pm We get off the couch and decide to clean up around the house a little. Most of the time I can get Owen to follow me around and keep himself occupied while I take care of stuff around the house. He's happy to go through a drawer or color or do kinetic sand. I pack up us for his promotion testing and get changed and put on some make up.

5:30pm Keith gets home and we all hang out before leaving around 5:45. His Taekwondo school is about 15 minutes away, but in rush hour traffic it can easily take 30+ minutes to get there, so we leave extra early. Owen almost falls asleep in the car on the way.

6:15pm We arrive at his school and watch some of his friends take their tests to receive their next belt. I'm a little nervous for Owen because he has to stand up in front of everyone and show his teacher that he knows a series of moves, etc.

6:30pm Owen's turn! He does well and doesn't seem nervous at all. He smiles through the whole test and revives his orange belt at the end!

6:50pm Our friends and neighbors go to the same Taekwondo school, and their son is around the same age as Owen, so we go next door to the pizza place to have dinner together. The dads play video games with the boys while the moms order the pizza and chat. We talk about our plans for Kindergarten, etc. We all eat pizza and the boys buy little 25 cent toys from a vending machine that keep them entertained while the adults talk.

8:00pm We decide to head home because we're all tired. We say bye and good night to our friends, although we'll see them again when we both pull into our driveways!

8:30pm We're home and we get Owen in his pajamas. He's really tired and is pretty cranky. We don't even bother reading a book and he ends up falling asleep in minutes just holding on to my arm.

8:45pm Owen is asleep, and I'm beat too. I go downstairs to say good night to Keith. I try watching a little Nashville I have recorded, but turn it off after a few minutes because I can't even keep my eyes open. Good night!

November 24, 2015

Interactive Fun for Better Brushing!

Most nights, the bedtime routine at our house involves some kind of struggle, bribe or coaxing. Please tell me we're not alone! Owen never wants to let the day wrap up and come to an end. He wants to play, play, play all day and night, so in order to get him to take a bath, brush his teeth and get ready for bed we have to get pretty creative!

We recently picked up a Philips Sonicare for Kids Power Toothbrush at Target, and it has been a total game changer in our bedtime routine! Owen loves it for its buzzing sound, the way it feels on his teeth and, of course, the entertaining and educational free app that helps him learn better brushing techniques!

The toothbrush uses Bluetooth® wireless technology and interacts with the app, so we can keep track of the duration and frequency of his brushing, which is a major PLUS for us! The Philips Sonicare for Kids app is free. Each brushing session starts with easy to follow visual instructions that teach about correct brushing technique. It also rewards him for a job well done with little "gifts" and awards.

I set up Owen's toothbrush to charge overnight so it would be ready for him the next morning because I knew that once I showed it to him he would want to use it right away! Keith and I both use power toothbrushes, so I knew Owen would be really excited to have one all his own.

I made sure to download and test the app to make sure we were ready to go when he woke up!

Another really neat thing about the Phillips Sonicare for Kids Power Toothbrush is that the child gets to choose the design they like, and that you can change them out whenever you want! I let Owen pick his favorite before we got started.

He was thrilled to see his new toothbrush when he saw it charging on the bathroom counter! I set him up with the app and guided him through it the first time. He didn't even really need my assistance since the app is so easy to use.

Before buying this toothbrush we usually encouraged him to brush his teeth by reminding him about the "sugar bugs" who like to live on his teeth -- a method his dentist taught us -- and we love that the app focuses on the same idea. It also shows a little timer to tell the child how much longer they have to brush and which parts of their teeth to brush. The visuals and lessons are perfect for a child this age!

There is no doubt in my mind that his Phillips Sonicare for Kids Power Toothbrush will encourage him to brush more often! His teeth were SPARKLING when he was done! Our bedtime routine will be much easier too!!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Philips Sonicare through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about Philips Sonicare for Kids, all opinions are my own.

November 20, 2015

Hey, Friday!

Wow can you believe we're less than one week away from Thanksgiving and exactly one week from the official start of Christmas?! We're all extra excited for Christmas this year!

Now on to my five...

1. Are you tired of listening to me talk about planners? I'm sorry if you are! Feel free to skip this and move on to #2! I'm going with an Erin Condren Life Planner this year, and am procrastinating on ordering, because I can't decide which of these two designs I like more. Which design is your favorite?

2. Ok, more advice needed! We skipped taking family photos this year because by the time we send our Christmas cards our family will have added a new addition, so it would be silly to have professional photos taken without all of us being there. SO, my plan is to take photos of the boys myself for our cards this year. Normally I would send a birth announcement around this time too, but I don't want to send both -- I think people would be sick of us! So I'm thinking I'll either try to combine the two or just skip the Christmas card and make a holiday themed birth announcement instead. What do you think?

3. My friend Rachel recently launched her new business, Ceremony + Fuss! Whether you are showering a new arrival with love, sending best wishes to a bride or letting a friend know you think she’s the best, these specially curated boxes help you make a fuss and celebrate your loved one! Each Fussbox is lovingly curated with only the best most thoughtful gifts!

4. Looking for a great gift under $20 to give your favorite ladies this Christmas? I picked up two of these scarves, in red and green, to give as gifts and I'm sure I will be back for more before I'm done shopping. I also could not resist buying one for myself as well, in red. It's my favorite kind of scarf, the infinity kind, and I love that it's totally fool proof in that when you put it on it always falls in place just right!

5. Did you see the Thanksgiving Turkey busy box we shared yesterday? It's a simple one to throw together and is lots of fun for little ones! You could throw it together this weekend in 10 minutes and buy yourself some spare time next week to prepare for Thanksgiving.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Oh Hey Friday with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife.

November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving Turkey Busy Box

Our baby boy is due in less than two weeks, so I've been trying my best to do some fun things with Owen that will have to be put on hold for a bit after the baby comes, like going to the movies, baking together and crafting. Poor Thanksgiving gets a little lost between Halloween and Christmas. It seems like people are in a rush to jump right into lights and trees and whatnot as soon as November first hits, and I don't blame them, because we love Christmas too, but I wanted to focus on Thanksgiving a little more this year. 

Thanksgiving Turkey Busy Box

I made this busy box with Owen a couple weeks ago on a whim. I wanted to make something he could help create and something that would keep him busy while I cook dinner or fold laundry, etc. We wandered the aisles of the craft store looking for something simple that would allow us to use some of the things we already had at home. We picked up a $1 bottle of brown paint, styrofoam balls and a bag of feathers, and our Turkey Busy Box was born!

What I like about this busy box is that I can open it up and let Owen create whatever kind of crazy looking turkey he wants. He can make one with feathers, or one with pipe cleaners and beads, or a combination of both. Both kinds of turkeys help him work on his fine motor skills, and when we're working on it together we can take it a step further and create patterns using the colors of feathers or beads.

Here's a list of what you'll need of you want to pull one together too: 

styrofoam balls
brown paint
paint brush
googly eyes
orange and red paper (for eyes and snood)
pipe cleaners

Thanksgiving Turkey Busy Box

The first step is to paint the styrofoam balls brown so they resemble turkeys. I set Owen up to do this task one night while I was cooking dinner and he had a lot of fun with it. Painting styrofoam takes a little more time and effort since the paint sinks down into the material of the ball.

Next I used my hot glue gun to add the googly eyes, nose and snood. We pulled everything else together and stored the pieces in bags and our box was ready to go!

Thanksgiving Turkey Busy Box
Thanksgiving Turkey Busy Box
Thanksgiving Turkey Busy Box

We've been doing a little Thanksgiving reading at home too. I've had this book, Celebrating Thanksgiving: Giving Thanks Learn to Read Holiday Reader, since I taught kindergarten. I like the way it parallels what our modern Thanksgiving looks like compare to what the pilgrims first Thanksgiving may have been like.

Thanksgiving Turkey Busy Box
Most of our turkeys end up looking pretty goofy, but we always have a fun time making them! The activity keeps Owen busy and entertained, and it's something he can do on his own without my assistance. It can get a little messy, especially with the beads everywhere, but it's not hard to clean it up when we work together.

I made this Portable Road Playset for Owen a few years ago and he still has fun with it when I pull it out! I think the novelty of something he doesn't get to play with often is what he likes about them so much! I'm hoping to create a few more non-holiday boxes that can entertain him while I tend to his baby brother.

Thanksgiving Turkey Busy Box
Thanksgiving Turkey Busy Box

Have you made any busy bags or boxes for your children? I'd love to hear more about them in the comments below!

November 14, 2015

Friday Five

So late to the Friday post parties, because it is actually Saturday morning now, but I couldn't just let this post die in the drafts since it was pretty much ready to go, I was just to lazy to put the final touches on it yesterday. So, here are my 5!

There are all sorts of cute ideas for special snacks and breakfasts for kids all over Pinterest and I think I finally found one my child will actually eat! Most of the cute snacks I find have something like melted cheese or too many ingredients that Owen doesn't like. This one is super simple, and includes some of Owen's favorite breakfast foods, like pumpkin waffles (from Trader Joe's) apples, oranges and of course a little chocolate!

The weather here in California is finally cooling down and we had a great rainstorm on Monday! I tried to put Owen's rain boots on him before school and they were way too small. I jumped on the Costco / Nordstrom price matching train and ordered the Original High Gloss Boot in black for myself, and bought Owen the same Western Chief 'F.D.U.S.A.' Rain Boots he had last year since he liked them so much. Owen and I are now ready for more rain with our new boots!

If you're wondering about the price matching... Costco is currently selling Hunter rain boots for $79.99, and Nordstrom is willing match the price and ship them to you for free! All you have to do is login to Costco's website and make sure they have your size / style / color in stock, then go to Nordstrom's site and find the same boots. Click the "live chat" link to chat with a customer service representative and they will walk you through the process.

I've tried to capture those much sought after twinkly and beautifully blurry bokeh lights for the past three Christmases, and I've never been quite so satisfied with them. BUT this year I have a great feeling I will be able to get the images I want because my friend and amazing photographer Tawnya just shared her best tips for How to Capture Bokeh in Your Holiday Photos on her blog! If you've been looking for an easy to follow tutorial this one's for you! Hoping to share some adorable, twinkly light photos of my babies this December :)

I'm almost 37 weeks! Thursday was my 36 week OB appointment, and it was an exciting one! I'm going to see the doctor every week now until I have the baby. We had an ultrasound and got to see him a bit. He was hard to see because he's pretty well squished in there, and was holding his foot in his hands and had them all squished up over his face. Everything is fine, but I will be going for weekly non-stress tests, in addition to my weekly appointments, since it's protocol at this point when you've tested positive for a low-PAPPA, which I did earlier in this pregnancy. We have plans this weekend to get some final things in order like assemble the co-sleeper, switch the car seats, etc.

On Wednesday I took Owen to see The Peanuts Movie since he didn't have school (thank you Veteran's for your service!) and it was SO cute! I don't always enjoy kid movies, but this one was fun to watch. The theater was packed with moms and kids -- this was obviously THE place to be on a  no-school day in the middle of the week. We also consumed too much popcorn and red licorice, but we had a nice time on our little date!

Later that night I downloaded the song from the movie by Meghan Trainor Better When I'm Dancin' and Owen had a little dance party before bed. Keith got it on video and it was the cutest thing ever. The boy has some serious moves and he was feelin' the song!

That's all from me for now! Have a great weekend!

Oh Hey Friday with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife.

November 12, 2015

10 Fun Games to Play with Your Preschooler

Owen has been really into playing board games recently! He's finally at the age where a game can hold his attention and he can handle following rules. We love that it allows us to spend quality, intentional, and uninterrupted time with him, and that he's learning to take turns, follow the rules and to be a good sport when he doesn't win. Children learn best by playing, and since most board games include some type of strategy as well as counting, color recognition, matching, it's the perfect way for him to learn while being engaged and having fun.  

We're loving games so much right now that I've made a collection of 10 fun games to play with your preschooler! Some of these are games we own and love, and others are ones we've heard are really great and hope to add to our collection.
10 Fun Games to Play with Your Preschooler
1. Zingo! - Just like Bingo!, but for young children. Zingo! Fast-paced and exciting this game brings learning to the classic game of Bingo. Images with printed words and two levels of play make this the perfect game to grow with.

2. Hoot Owl Hoot - Players help the owls fly back to their nest before the sun comes up. Play a color card and fly to that space. Draw a sun card and you're one step closer to daylight. Help all the owls get home before the sun rises and everyone wins! Two levels of play allow this game to grow with your child.

3. Let's Go Fishin' - This classic kids game teaches hand-eye coordination as players use their mini fishing poles to try to catch the most fish. The challenge is that the board game spins, and the fish open and close their mouths.

4. Sequence for Kids - Even if they can't read yet, younger children can enjoy playing this great strategy-building game. The Sequence Game for Kids is easy to play yet challenging and exciting. Just play a card from your hand, place a chip on a corresponding game board space and when you have 4 in a row, it's a "sequence" and you win!

5. Connect 4 -  Just as simple and fun as you remember it being! When you get 4 discs in a row you win! Helps teach strategy and taking turns.

6. Marvel Matching Game - We own this one, but there are many varieties (Disney classic, baby animals, Frozen) of this fun game to suit your kiddos interests!

7. Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel  - This fun game develops matching and sorting skills, strategic thinking, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and pre-handwriting skills! 

8. Tell Me a Story - With a set of 36 cards, featuring beautifully illustrated and intriguing images, provides the components for children and adults to make up their own stories. Thematically linked but open-ended images spur the imagination and become the catalyst for creativity. Instructions included for a variety of games and activities. Recurring characters, locations and props encourage linking the cards in endless combinations for fresh, new stories every time it's played.

9. Candy Land - This adorable version of the classic Candyland game we all played as kids features the colored cards and fun illustrations that kids love, with different destinations like Cupcake Commons and the chunky Chocolate Mountains.

10. Hungry Hungry Hippos - Owen got this game last Christmas and it was his first learning experience with winning and losing!

What games does your family like to play together? Tell me in the comments below! 

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on the link and end up buying one of the games yourself I will get a small percentage of the sale. Thank you! 

November 10, 2015

Recipe: Quick and Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Who here loves EASY dinners?! I'm sure if I could I would hear a unanimous "I!!!" from you!

This recipe is a favorite around our house, and not just because it is easy and quick to throw together, but because it's delicious and really filling too! This is a great meal to bring to a friend, to freeze or to feed a crowd, since you can easily make a few casseroles of this at time.

I mainly follow the original recipe, but over the years I've switched it up a bit by adding a few handfuls of spinach, using Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream and crunching up a cup of tortilla chips for more crunch. I also always use leftover rotisserie or roast chicken in this since it's a great way to use up leftovers and it makes the prep fast.

1 cup green enchilada sauce
1 cup low-fat Chobani Greek Yogurt
3/4 cup jarred salsa verde
12 white corn tortillas, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1-15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
2 cups shredded colby jack cheese
top with: pico de gallo, sour cream, cilantro etc. 
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine enchilada sauce, sour cream, and salsa verde in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add tortillas, chicken, and black beans, spinach, 1 cup cheese and tortilla chips, then mix to combine. Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick spray, then pour the mixture inside. Top with cheese, then bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
    I'm making a quick batch of this today for our freezer to save for when the baby comes. Do you have any favorite freezer recipes I should try?

    November 6, 2015

    Friday Things

    It's Friday, my friends!! My family is finally recovering from our colds, so I'm looking forward to a nice weekend, one that hopefully does not include tons of cough drops and tissues like last weekend did. Here's my 5 + 2 more!

    | 60! | We're celebrating my beautiful mom's 60th birthday this Saturday! Happy birthday, mom! We love you SO much!

    | Turkey Craft | In an effort to teach Owen a little bit about the holiday that falls between his 1st (Halloween) and 2nd (Christmas) favorite holidays we've been doing a little Thanksgiving reading and crafting this week. I'll share more about the turkeys we made next week, because it's been keeping him happily occupied while I make dinner, so it's absolutely worth sharing!

    | Christmas things | It may be less than a week since Halloween, but we've all got Christmas on the brain.I'm planning on the early weeks on December being kinda crazy, so I'm getting a few things in order ahead of time. I can check the baby's stocking (all Pottery Barn Christmas stockings are 20% off + free shipping right now!) and the boys' Christmas pajamas off my list!

    | Cartwheel | Do you use the Target Cartwheel app? I've been using it for a couple years now, but only really started using it in the last 6 months or so. I usually scan through the things on sale to see if there is anything we need before I go shopping, add it to my list and then have the cashier scan it before I leave. I save at least a few dollars on every trip! It's also really fun to see the offers your friends and family are adding to their lists! Desitin is on sale right now for 25% off if you use the app!

    | Because, Science! | If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw this picture of Owen yesterday! His Christmas list is a mile long right now, but I've been getting some ideas of my own for him. I saw this Little Science Lab kit at Target yesterday and I'm set on giving it to him for Christmas or his birthday this year. It comes with cards that explain about 8 different scientific experiments we can do together (over and over again) and it all can be stored in the little jar. I imagine this being a great thing for us to do in the afternoons this winter when the baby is napping.

    | Advice much appreciated! | I'm thinking of buying a Clarisonic, and I'd love your input on which one to buy. I know there are a few different kinds and a variety of brushes you can use, but I don't know which would be best. If you have any advice or insight to give please leave it in the comments below! Thank you :)

    | School pictures | Today are Owen's Preschool class pictures! The picture above was from last year and I was SO smitten with the result. I mean, how cute is his little hand on his leg and the other one propped up on the bench? We bought him a cute new button down to wear for the pictures and he had a haircut yesterday, so now I'm just hoping he'll give us a great smile!

    Okay, I think that's enough from me for now! What's new with you?

    Also, I'm linking up with...

    Oh Hey Friday with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife.