Weekly Highlights

Finally, it’s Friday! I hope everyone has had a great week and is ready for the weekend. I know I am. Today I wanted to share with you some highlights from my week. Share some highlights from your week in the comments if you want. Here we go…

Panera Rewards

Panera Salad

After hearing some friends rave about their Panera rewards, I finally decided to get a rewards card. I am so so glad I did because after only having my card for two months, I hit the jackpot. A FREE bagel every single day for one month! What in the world?! I also got 3$ off any salad and a discounted beverage. I seriously can’t believe how awesome the Panera card is. I literally tell every person I see about it because I am that excited. I got the above salad for lunch this week with my reward and it was delicious. Also, you better believe I have gotten my free bagel everyday, with no shame.

Homemade Mac n’ Cheese

Mac n Cheese Close

Earlier this week I made this homemade macaroni and cheese as a side dish to go with our meatloaf. Y’all, this is the best recipe I have ever tried. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have tried making mac n’ cheese at home only to be disappointed by the outcome. This is one of my all time favorite meals so when this recipe turned out so well, I was a little too happy. I am definitely going to share this recipe on the blog so stay tuned!

Olympics

Eaton

Not a night goes by in our house that doesn’t have the Olympics on the TV. There is just something special about watching amazing athletes make history. There are so many inspiring and touching moments that just give you that good feeling inside.

Compact Scraper

Compact Scraper

The other day we were in Field and Stream and I stumbled upon this little gadget. After seeing Julie rave about a similar one on her blog, I figured why not give it a try. She was right to love it. It is perfect for cleaning dishes and works like a charm. I am so glad I have added this simple utensil to my kitchen and I’m sure it will be handy in a number of other ways.

Cookie Brownies

Ok, first just take a moment to take in the goodness that is before you. We got these on a whim when we ordered pizza from Domino’s (we forgot to lay out meat to thaw so pizza was the backup). I was skeptical at first but when we opened the box and smelled the warm chocolate-y deliciousness, I was hooked. I may have eaten more than one. Ok, three, I ate three. This will be happening a lot more now that I know what I have been missing.

So there are just a few high points from my week. It’s been a good one! I would love to hear some things that have brightened up your week. Enjoy your weekend!

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A Day In the Life of a Graduate Student Mom

Good morning! The past few months have been extremely busy due to my new role as a first time mom. I absolutely love being a mom and wouldn’t change it for the world. However, as a graduate student, I am presented with specific challenges that other moms may not be faced with. I have limited time with my baby during the day and have homework at night. I really have to prioritize my time. So, today I thought I would give you a glimpse into what a normal day looks like for me, a student and mommy. I also think it will be fun to look back on in the future and see what day to day activities looked like.

5: 30am: Alarm goes off and I hit snooze as my husband jumps in the shower. About 2 minutes later I hear babbling and crying coming from the nursery. I wait a bit to see if it continues before getting up and heading that way. I’m greeted by a huge smile with two teeth that immediately makes me smile. Depending on when she last ate, I either feed her or carry her to the living room to sit in her Pack n’ Play while I brush my teeth.

6:00-6:30am: My husband is out of the shower and has made his way to the living room to say good morning to our daughter before going to get breakfast ready while I get dressed. We both eat breakfast and pack our lunch for the day.

6:30-7:00am: I get the baby dressed and ready for daycare while my husband prepares the bottles. We are out the door by 7 or shortly after.

7:15am: Drop off the baby at daycare and hate leaving her but knowing that it is the best thing for her.

7:30am: Arrive at work and head straight to my research lab. I’m the first one there so I turn on the computer and check my email really quick. Of course I have about 5-10 new emails (some of them junk) that need addressing.

7:45-8:15am: Set up my experiment so it will be ready to start by 9am.

8:30-9:00am: First pumping session of the day. I usually have a snack during this time and check emails again.

Maple candies

 

9:00am: Start experiment and work until lunch time. Sometimes I stop to have a snack around 10am. Breastfeeding hunger is real!

11:45am-12:15pm: Second pumping session. I also eat lunch during this time so I can kill two birds with one stone.IMG_20160218_090444045

12:30-3pm: Complete experiment and put in the data. Sometimes we have a lab meeting or journal club at 2pm.

3:00pm: Last pumping session. By this time I’m usually pretty hungry. I have another snack and plan out how I’m going to utilize the last hour of work.

3:30pm-4:30pm: Clean up from running my experiment. Graph my data. Send the graphs to my PI. Discuss the data with my PI and figure out next steps (i.e. will I test tomorrow, how long should I continue my experiment, what is the best way to present this data, etc.)

4:30pm: Leave to go pick up the baby from daycare.

5:15pm: Arrive home and play with the baby before she gets tired and fussy. Surprise surprise, I have a snack. (old picture but you get the idea)

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6:00pm-7:00pm: I nurse her while my husband starts preparing dinner. We give her a container of solid food. Depending on the day she might need a bath. We try to let her play a bit before going to bed. She is usually asleep by 7 if not before.

7:00pm: My husband and I eat dinner and spend some time together before getting things ready for the next day. We usually do a few chores after she is asleep like start some laundry, dishes, clean the bottles and my pumping equipment among other odds and ends. Sometimes we do an at home workout together before dinner. Even though time is limited, staying fit truly helps me feel less exhausted and keeps my mood more stable and positive. I believe taking the time to exercise makes me a better wife and mom so I try to incorporate this into my day when possible.

8:45pm: I shower and then crawl into bed to try and read a few journal articles before the baby wakes up for her 10pm nursing session. At this point it is a challenge to stay awake and focus.

10:00pm: Nurse the baby. Depending on how much reading I got done, I either continue that or go to bed. Either way, I am asleep by 11pm at the latest.

2:00am-3:00am: On a good night, this will be the only time the baby wakes up to eat. Unfortunately, she usually wakes up 2-3 times per night. We are working on it.

5:30am: Start all over!

So, there you have it. An entire day, from start to finish. Obviously things differ a little from day to day but you get the gist of it. It may not seem that busy, but trust me, I go pretty much nonstop during the day. I was purposefully vague about my experiments because I know some people feel strongly about certain types of research and that just was not the point of this post. Also, now that I’m working on my qualifying exam, any extra time during the day goes to reading for and writing that. Fun stuff!

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!

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Restaurant Week

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend that didn’t pass too quickly. Ours was pretty busy even though we didn’t have anything planned specifically. I just wanted to pop in with a quick recap before getting started on the work week.

Saturday

So we have been determined to do something “fun” on a weekend for a while now, but things always come up and we end up being too tired to really find something to do. It doesn’t necessarily have to be big. Just something other than meal planning, going to the store and doing laundry, ya know. Well, this weekend we finally decided to plan our errands around what we really wanted to do. My husband had heard on the news that it was Restaurant Week starting Friday and going through next Sunday. Obviously it would take too much time and money to go every day, so we decided to pick one restaurant that neither of us had been to before and go there for lunch. After spending a few (ok, more like 30) minutes to go through the $10 lunch options, we finally decided on Rojo which has both Latin and American food.

When we arrived we were lucky enough to get a parking spot right in front. We also somehow beat the crowd even though we got there a little later than expected. The atmosphere was very laid back which was a relief having an 8 month old with us. You can choose to eat inside or outside and since they have a patio in the shade with overhead fans, we chose outside and the weather was perfect!

The $10 lunch meal was a pretty sweet deal. Each person got to choose three different salsas (they said they were sample size but I wasn’t able to finish them all), and one of three entrees.

For our trio sampler we chose the Tomatillo salsa, Pineapple salsa, Guacamole, Bandito salsa, and two Queso dips because we love queso.

Restaurant Week1

I chose the tomato and basil quesadilla with Parmesan and Monterey Jack cheese.

Restaurant Week4

My husband chose the basil chicken salad-house salad that had a huge scoop of chicken salad on top.

Restaurant Week3

We both left feeling full and like we took advantage of a major deal. Win win!

The rest of our Saturday was spent grocery shopping and making a few returns I have been putting off for way too long.

Sunday

Our Sunday started off pretty relaxed as we all took our time getting up and then heading over to visit my family. After a short visit and way too much food, we headed out on a mission to find a play mat for the nursery. We have looked everywhere and nobody seems to have them. Finally, we found one today at Walmart of all places. 

The rest of our Sunday was spent watching the Olympics.

That was our weekend in a nutshell. Hope everyone has a great Monday.

Questions:

What is one exciting thing you did this weekend?

Who else is watching the Olympics?

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Increasing The Cost Of Childcare Is Not Cool

Today I am going in a little bit of a different direction. Typically, I choose to talk/write about lighthearted, fun topics like weird conversations and my dog. However, today will be more of a rant.

I know reading about someone complain isn’t everyone’s cup of tea so feel free to skip this post if you choose. I promise I won’t be offended.

giphy

Recently we were informed by our childcare provider that they will be increasing their rates immediately. I don’t mean “hey, we are going to be raising our rates at some point in the next few months.” I mean they told us one week before doing it. Not cool. Most of the people that use this particular provider make much more money than we do so it most likely doesn’t affect them. My husband and I are both students and we spent months and months visiting place after place and comparing prices to find that perfect fit for our needs and budget.Now, this is a great place to leave our little one and she really seems to love it. Not to mention, they have been taking excellent care of her.

Before the baby, we had been saving up and were doing quite well. Even with the cost of childcare, we aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. That isn’t the point though. The fact is that we chose this provider (with an already high cost) with the thought that the cost was set for a while. Or at least that they would notify us in a timely manner of an increase.

To make matters worse, they told us that the increase was so that the (previously additional) cost of extra curricular activities such as swimming and art would now be included. Great! Except that those activities are only offered to the older kids. So, we are paying for the older kids to do these activities even though all you do is watch my child. I say that because we have to provide her food, her milk, her diapers and wipes and all they provide is the supervision and toys.

(source)

I don’t want to sound like I have anything against this place because I absolutely love it. Otherwise there would be no point in being upset. I would just move.

Here is the kicker. Even if we chose to go to another provider, in order to get our deposit back (not a small sum) we are required to notify them at least one month in advance. Not to mention that every other provider worth switching to has a waiting list of about one year (yes you should have childcare worked out even before getting pregnant!). So basically we were forced to accept this change.

I think they should have done things differently. For example, maybe only increase the price for those children who can partake in the extra activities. Or, even better, grandfather those of us who have been using this facility in so that our cost stays the same and the increase only applies to new children. That way, our budgets aren’t affected and we aren’t forced into an awful choice between quality childcare and money to live on.

I’m sure this thing happens all of the time and it isn’t fair. But life’s not fair and I know that. Sometimes it’s just nice to get out the frustration and maybe have someone else agree with you so you don’t feel like a crazy person.

Ok, I’m done fussing about things I can’t change. Feel free to chime in if you have experienced similar situations. I will be glad to back you up!

Here is a picture of puppy Sirus for your troubles.

sirus pup

 

Thanks for sticking with me to the end. Have a great day!

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What’s Your Flavor Soulmate?

Good morning! I’m really excited about today’s post because I get to talk about one of my favorite things…FOOD! Now that I am breastfeeding (which means I’m hungry all the time) I find myself wanting to reach for more nutritious and filling snacks to fuel both my body and my baby’s body. One of my favorite snacks that I find myself eating every single day is Greek Yogurt. I just can’t stop.


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I have never been an adventurous person when it comes to my food/flavor choices. Though I typically gravitate toward the most simple and plain flavors, sometimes it is nice to get out of a rut and try some new flavor combinations. Chobani is inviting people to “flip out and find my flavor soulmate” in celebration of Chobani Flips, so I immediately jumped at the chance.

Before I jump right into the fun flowchart, I want to share a little bit about Chobani and why I love their yogurt.

All Natural Ingredients

After having a baby, I have become more aware of what I put in my body and tend to reach for whole or natural ingredients. Chobani is made using only natural (no artificial flavors, sweeteners or preservatives), non-GMO ingredients. To ensure their products are non-GMO, they require their suppliers to certify that every ingredient is not genetically modified.

rBST Free

According to the Founder and CEO of Chobani, “The humane treatment of animals is an ethical and moral imperative.” Since animal welfare is a core value to Chobani, they use milk from cows not treated with rBST (a hormone used to increase milk production) to practice safe and humane treatment of animals.

They Give to Charity

Ten percent of all profits go to charity through the Chobani Foundation. They believe everyone deserves natural and nutritious food so they strive to make food more accessible to youth and underserved communities. Additionally, they support entrepreneurs and small businesses. Ultimately, transforming the community is Chobani’s goal.

Additional Tidbits

As if the above reasons aren’t enough to love Chobani, there are a few more bonus reasons.

  • Live and active cultures are included
  • Multiple types of probiotics
  • Less than 5% lactose

Feel free to visit their Beliefs page to learn more about their history and their products.

Flip Out and Find Your Flavor Soulmate

Now, for the fun! Below you will find a flowchart that you can use to find your perfect flavor soulmate. Start by choosing one of “guilty pleasures” listed and then simply follow the chart.


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According to the chart, I am Sweet N’ Sweet. I am not surprised at all. My sweet tooth has been raging lately! Normally I go for the blueberry (the kind where the goods are on the bottom) but after reading the flavors, I could definitely go for Chocolate Haze Craze or Peanut Butter Dream. Or both. Together.

Anyways, once you have your perfect match, read your flavor card to learn a little bit more about your results.


Chobani_myflavor_card_sweetnsalty_v03 Chobani_myflavor_card_sweetnspicy_v03 Chobani_myflavor_card_sweet_v03

According to my flavor card, my smile brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “sweet tooth.” It will once my teeth are covered in the chocolate and peanut butter deliciousness! Feel free to join in the fun and share what your flavor soulmate is in the comments.

Thanks and have a wonderful day!

By the way, I was not compensated for this post. I truly love Chobani and all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for reading!

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