Friday, March 17, 2017

7 Things I Could Use Your Help With Right Now, Part 2

Remember that time I did a post like this back in 2015? Well, it was so helpful, I've decided to do it again! Here goes . . .


Any recommendations for shows on Netflix or Hulu that can keep me awake during Jude's two nighttime feedings? They've gotta be similar to my favorites, because I find if I don't love the show, it doesn't keep me awake. Oh, and nothing scary, because I do have to be able to fall back asleep without having nightmares after I get Jude back down. So anything similar to the following titles will do:

Parks and Rec
The Office
Jane the Virgin
This Is Us
Friday Night Lights
Arrested Development
The Mindy Project
Call the Midwife
Downton Abbey
The Young Pope
Fixer Upper
Property Brothers
The Next Food Network Star
The Great British Baking Show


What do I feed my picky toddler? Right now he only eats a few main dishes: mac n' cheese, turkey hot dogs, grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets, pizza, and pasta with red sauce. And that about sums it up. Eek!

Thankfully he loves all fruit, so we can always add that to any meal and feel better about ourselves as parents. And he also will eat basically any carb: bread, french fries, chips, pretzels. I just feel like there's not a great variety with main dishes. And forget about ALL vegetables -- we might as well be offering him poison. We try and try and try but he's just not interested. And we're not interested in forcing, so we're currently stuck with limited options. Is this all just normal toddler stuff? Should I just get over it and be happy that he eats?

Favorite gifts you've ever given to or received for a 2-year-old. And go! 


Speaking of gifts, we really really REALLY don't want friends to give John Paul gifts for his 2nd birthday. We're planning on inviting a bunch of kiddos because John Paul's idea of a happy birthday = playing with ALL the kids. And eating cake. Lots of cake. But we don't want (or need!) the gifts that inevitably come along with it. So, with the help of some other mommy friends, I've brainstormed two ways of throwing his party and not getting gifts . . . 

Tell people it's a BBQ birthday party and encourage them to bring a side dish instead of a gift.


Tell people it's a spring BBQ party, don't mention the birthday part at all, and then just celebrate his birthday toward the end with a cake.

If we ask for side dishes instead of presents, do you think most people would still bring presents and then also feel obligated to bring a side dish? Or if we don't even mention the birthday when we invite people, do you think they would be upset that we're not giving advanced notice of celebrating John Paul's birthday? 

Can you think of another way of doing this without getting gifts? We could simply say, "No gifts please!" but we did that last year and almost everyone brought a gift. 


I want to grow a garden this year, but have absolutely no idea how this works. It's our first year in a house with land!! So I can finally do this! But like, I'm seriously clueless. Is there anything I should be doing now to prepare? And what are your favorite low-maintenance plants? Spam me with all your beginner garden knowledge.


Any other ALDIs lovers out there? I absolutely love that grocery store. I'm planning on writing more about it someday in the future. But until then, if you're also an ALDIs lover, can you tell me some of your favorite ALDIs purchases? Bonus points for recipes that use only ALDIs ingredients!


Do any of you fellow adults have a solution for the constant stream of paperwork that comes into the house? We're drowwnnnning in it. Miscellaneous papers everywhere. Help me organize!

link it up


  1. 1. I just finished this phase with my firstborn, and was watching a lot of similar shows. Two I highly recommend - Scrubs (skip the last season) and 30 Rock (only wish I had managed to catch it all! very witty).

    4. You could add the caveat on the invite that if they feel the need to bring a gift, to make it something that will be "used up" (craft supplies, bubble bath, a snack) or is an experience (a one-time pass to a children's museum). A few articles I've comes across previously on this dilemma:

    7. I keep a hanging file folder that I deposit all my random paperwork into. I then find some time every few weeks to sit down and file it all away. Keeps it off my desk, and I can usually sort it in the span of a 30 minute show (see answer to number 1).

    1. Oh, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is another good show. It's a little more upfront about some topics that are contrary to Church teaching, but is very funny. I think the third season should be coming out soon too!

    2. 1. Scrubs and 30 Rock! Yes! Never seen either but I've seen clips from each and they always make me giggle. :) Good recs! I've actually seen Kimmy Schmidt and totally should have added it to the list. Bahahaha. So hilarious!! Titus Andromadon is a hot mess. :P

      4. Totally gonna dive into those articles in a few minutes. Thanks for the ideas! Now to figure out the best approach because there have been so many good recs on the "no gifts" dilemma!

      7. Love this idea. But serious question -- where does all the paperwork go once you've sorted it? Tell me more about your overall filing system!

    3. 7. I keep two binders for all of our paper documentation - one for medical, one for everything else. I'll probably have a binder for kid-related things too when they're older (e.g., school documentation). Each is separated by tabs, so, for example, medical has tabs for plan info, medical bills, dental bills, prescription bills, and instructions (e.g., if our doctor gives us a sheet explaining how to do X, it goes in there). My other binder keeps things like utility bills, mortgage info, banking statements (back when I didn't get them via email), and so on. Within each tab, everything is ordered chronologically; I just stick new documentation at the front of the tab. Any official documentation (e.g., birth certificates, wedding certificates, passports) is in a small envelope we keep in a safe. Any papers I get that detail appointments are immediately entered into a calendar and discarded. Any documentation I get digitally (e.g., bank statements) I just leave in my email and know they are there. There seems to be a pretty clear cut division - all my financial statements are done digitally, everything else with paper. I'll probably revise this method down the road as I foresee getting more documentation more digitally.

      I like that I can just dump everything in the hanging pocket and worry about it later. I honestly probably shred and recycle about 50% of what I put in there, but it's nice to not devote brainpower to figuring that out every time a new piece of paper enters the house.

      I've considered getting a scanner, but then I would be saving everything forever (I struggle to delete digital files), and I just don't need that, plus all the additional work of scanning things in. My dad's advice for how long to keep records is seven years for medical (I forget why - I think something to do with taxes, in case you claim exemptions?), one year for everything else unless you have a good reason (e.g., I still have my apartment lease agreements in case I need documentation of the last few places I've lived). So whenever I think about it, when I'm filing things away, I'll go through the backs of each tab really quickly to see if anything has "expired" - if so, I'll take it out, shred it, and recycle it.

      Whew! I had no idea I could write so much about two binders. ^_^

    4. Yessss! This is exactly the kind of help I need! And I'm glad you wrote this much. I neeeeeed details! I'm thinking this is the perfect system. If I could show you the hot mess of paperwork we currently have. WOOF! You'd be embarrassed for me. So to know I can condense it into two binders (possibly 3 with kid stuff) . . . this is a Godsend! Thank you so much!!

    5. The system is courtesy of my dad, who used filing cabinets - I went with binders for my more nomadic lifestyle. Good luck getting everything organized! I know it can be a challenge at the start, but it's worth it once you have a system.

  2. 5. Gardening - for Spring/cool weather, I recommend kale and lettuce, both easy to grow. Fresh lettuce from the garden is so much better than store lettuce!! Loose leaf is our favorite, and the more you pick it the more it grows. For summer, cherry tomatoes are our fav, and pole green beans are fun too. You can make a teepee and grow them up that - a fun shady place for John Paul to play! :)

    6. We love Aldi's!! Favorite things are cheese cheese cheese, dried fruits, canned everything (so cheap), coconut oil (again, so much cheaper than anywhere else), and their fun German stuff. I'm sure you'll get a feel for it soon! We don't really do meat & veggies there - at least at our local Aldi's the selection isn't so great. Dairy & non-perishable stuff are more our go-to.

    1. 5. Ok, I can totally handle this! I'm thinking tomatoes for sure! And pole green beans too! Not sure that we have the space for a teepee though. I'm actually thinking of buying a 4' x 4' raised garden bed from ALDIs next week! I saw that they'll have them in store. And other gardening tools. ALDIs is seriously the coolest. :)

      6. Oops, already doted on ALDIs while talking about gardens, but heck yes!! Best grocery store ever. I love the cheese too!! Is there a specific one you'd recommend? I recently had their Irish cheese and it was so scrumptious! Their cranberry cheddar cheese is awesome too. I agree with you that the veggies are usually iffy. I'll sometimes get it if I'm in a pinch. Same with the fruit. It's tricky because the deals are so hard to pass up! But if I'm gonna get low quality fruit/veggies for the low price, it's just not worth it. I'm cool with the grass fed beef though. And ours just recently started carrying organic eggs!! Glad to have a fellow ALDIs lover out there. :)

  3. Cryptic Star has some good suggestions. I like her consumables/experiences idea. The other thought that comes to mind there is, say something like, "We are asking only for the gift of your presence, but if you would like to bring a gift to donate to (whatever homeless shelter, etc), you are welcome to." A little cheesy, perhaps, but people really do have a hard time not bringing something!

    As for paperwork, Get. Rid. Of. It. That is my organizing tip. KonMari method would have you getting rid of everything, but I don't quite do that. I keep a few things, but I used to keep quite a bit of stuff, and then realized that by far the majority of it was unnecessary. Be cause my files are thin and easy to manage, it's easy for me to deal with things right when they come in the door now. I used to have stacks of crap lying around!

    I'm doing my level best to keep one plant alive, so can't help you with a garden, but I wish you the best of luck!

    1. I'm really really loving the idea of asking for donation gifts! I'm a little worried that it may offend folks or they may think I'm a mean mommy for denying John Paul gifts. But he'll actually still be getting some gifts from family members. I just don't need all the kiddos attending to also get him gifts, ya know?

      With paperwork, what are the few things that you do keep? I think it'll inspire me to hear what types of things are *really* necessary and what other stuff is ditchable. I wonder if we should get a scanner to help eliminate all the paper waste that we just don't feel comfortable getting rid of all together.

  4. For the birthday, we asked for donations to flood victims for G's birthday last year. Still got a few gifts, but nothing like we wild have.
    I also ❤ Aldi!

    1. Great suggestion! Glad to hear it somewhat worked. :) Hmmmm. Gotta think of a charity we'd like to send donations to . . .

      Yay for fellow lovers of ALDIs! <3

  5. What about saying something like "In lieu of gifts, we are collecting for ". Some ideas might be baby items for a local pro-life crisis pregnancy resource center, toys/games for needy kids (or sick children in hospitals), monetary donations in John Paul's name to your favorite charity, canned goods for a local food pantry, blankets for an animal shelter, etc.
    I think even when an invitation says “no gifts please”, people still feel awkward showing up empty-handed. BUT…giving to a cause makes people feel like they are not showing up empty-handed, while still respecting your wishes for no gifts, and doing good for others (win, win, win!) Also, what an awesome way to pay it forward and bless others (and what an awesome learning experience for John Paul :)

    1. You know, Catholic Charities *just* opened a pregnancy resource center in our area!! That may be exactly where our gifts will go! :) Thanks for the inspiration! And you're absolutely right that John Paul will get an awesome learning experience out of it. I think this is a tradition I'd like to continue through the years. Because it's not like he'll get *no* gifts. There are plenty of family members who'll be happy to get him stuff. I just don't need all the kiddies attending his party to each bring a gift too. It's just overkill, ya know?

  6. Two- maria isn't picky so not much experience here... but if you're concerned about veggies- will he drink smoothies??

    Three- Maria's current favorite toys are her kitchen, her peg doll Saints (with dollhouse, cardboard "church", and pretend cars), doctor kit, set of wooden blocks, and puzzles. We gave her more toy kitchen food, dishes, and new shoes for her second birthday (she was thrilled about the shoes!).

    Four- good ideas above! Another option might be to say we have lots of toys, if you'd like to bring a gift we would love to build our library- bring your favorite children's book!

    Five- no advice but so hopeful I will be needing the same advice next year :-)

    1. 2. YES! He loves smoothies. Genius idea! What would you recommend putting in there? I'm thinking spinach.

      3. Great suggestions! We actually have several of those already, so you're totally thinking like a toddler here. ;)

      4. I LOVVVVVE books, but we already have so many because ... I love books. Haha. I'm worried we'll get duplicates at this point. Which would not be the end of the world at all, but again . . . just more stuff we don't need.

      5. I hope so too!! I bet you're ready to just settle somewhere for good!

    2. Yup, spinach! Goes well with berries. Or one of my favorites- though it sounds weird (I think it was inspired by a pb&j smoothie you posted?)-- banana, red grapes, spinach, peanut butter, a splash of milk if you want, and ice. Yum!

  7. 1. New Girl (a la Parks and Rec), Parenthood (a la This Is Us), The Crown (a la Downton Abbey), House of Cards if you don't mind sexuality/violence, LOST if you want to be sucked in to something, The West Wing just because it's my all time favorite show and I think everyone should watch it. :)

    2. In my experience it's normal toddler stuff...aka that's about all we feed Kate, too. She really likes plain lettuce though...and olive oil/salt and pepper/parmesan green beans if we roast them in the oven. (Let's be honest, that's how I like them best too.) As she has gotten older, I realized we have to introduce new foods to her while we are eating them in front of her. She's much more likely to eat something if she sees someone else eating it.

    3. Toy stroller, wooden blocks, play tool set, baby doll!

    4. If you find the magic combination for this...please tell me. I have no solutions for you. Except maybe you could ask for diapers in all sizes, and then just donate them? But yeah, I have no prowess for this question.

    5. Tomatoes and peppers are really easy to grow! Don't plant them too close together, but make sure you get those tomato cages for each so they grow upright and don't fall over from their own weight. :) That's all I've ever grown, though!

    1. 1. I've tried to get into New Girl. Does it get better as it goes? Totally seen Parenthood and The Crown. Duh! Should have added them to the list. Both AMAZING. I'm adding House of Cards and LOST and West Wing to the list now! Quick though, what's House of Cards about? I'm clueless!

      2. Glad to hear it's normal! Roasting veggies is a genius idea!! I didn't think of it til you mentioned it, but John Paul has totally eaten roasted brussels sprouts and baked kale before!! I didn't realize the link was that I had roasted and salted them!! GENIUS!

      3. Oooohhhh, toy stroller and baby doll! Super cute! Do you think that's more of a girl thing? We have sooo many sets of blocks and he LOVES them! Great suggestion! And play tool set . . . he's just started being interested in Daddy's tools, so it may be time to get him his own. :)

      5. Great suggestions! I think we're going to do tomatoes, peppers, and basil. I didn't know to plant them with space between them so thanks for the tip!!

    2. (BAH. Did my comment come through no-reply? urgh. I keep changing it and it keeps not registering! Glad I came back to check.)

      1. YES. New Girl totally gets better with watching. The first season is meh, and then grows on you into Season 2. Either season 3 or 4 is really not funny whatsoever, but then they found their groove again and the latest season I've seen (5 maybe?) was making me cry tears of laughter on the couch! Win in my book.

      House of Cards is a political thriller -- kind of dark and twisted (nudity/sexuality pretty prevalent but not the worst I've seen) about the rise of a really manipulative & corrupt congressman. Eerie and pretty creepy how true-to-life it gets (they somehow predicted a bunch of actual political happenings before they happened, freaky stuff).

      3. I think the stroller/baby doll works for boys and girls but I only have girls to know from I'm not exactly sure. I know Kate like using it as a racecar too, pushing it around the house as fast as she can so that should appeal to both sexes.

  8. 1. Not Netflix, but have you looked at subscription? Awesome Catholic content--from saint movies to faith formation programs, there's a little of everything!

    2. Edith (a few months younger than John Paul) loves to eat her vegetables, only if they're roasted. She'll eat cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, even onions if they're roasted in olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. She cannot resist :) (Plus if we give her something to "dip" them in [like ketchup], it's a win-win-win all around).

    4. At her first birthday, we invited very few people (just cause we're not big into setting a precedence of huge celebrations) and were very candid in asking for no gifts, stating that their presence was a enough of a gift. Her godmother gave her a Mass offering (on the anniversary of her baptism) and some friends gave her an unstuffed stuffed animal. That was it. If we have another small celebration this year, we'll request the same (but I love the ideas of making a donation to a charity on behalf of the birthday child, or collecting the gifts to give away to someone more in need).

    5. Tomatoes, salad greens (including kale), beets, zucchini and cucumber are our mainstays. We've tried other things but we never end up eating them as much as we think we would when we plant. We prefer cherry and Roma tomatoes (they're so hearty! And we ALWAYS get volunteers the next year!) and plant several rows of each because making sauce from our excess is the best. thing. ever. to use up in the winter months.

    6. I grew up on Aldi's food but we don't have them here in North Dakota (my singular lament of this state). Enjoy what you have there!!

    1. 1. You know, now that you mentioned . . . our Church as a subscription so we can get it for free! I'll have to check it out. :)

      2. GENIUS!!! Love the idea of roasting veggies. Oh and dipping too! If only I could convince him that the ketchup on his try isn't *just* for running his fingers through and eating straight off his hands. Hahaha

      4. I wonder if a simple "no gifts please" will work this year. It definitely didn't work last year, but we'll have different guests this time. Hmmmm. Definitely leaning toward the donation thing though.

      5. Great recommendations! I'm definitely thinking tomatoes and probably peppers and basil. :) But now you have me thinking about salad greens too! I don't think beets, zucchini, or cucumbers would get used up fast enough around here, so we'll probably pass for now and just let the grocery store do the growing of those for us. :P Btw, I'm salivating over the thought of fresh tomato sauce!! And salsa!!!

      6. I'm sorry you don't have any. Mega bummer!

  9. 1. You didn't mention Parenthood. I am sure you've already seen it but if you haven't it's time to get on board with the Bravermans. I really liked One Day at a Time but I know some people who didn't. I second The West Wing. Watch the first few when you're awake and then you'll get sucked in.

    2. As a mom of a fellow picky eater, I just try not to stress about it. We just serve what we're serving and make sure that there's one thing on the plate he will eat. If we get really concerned because he hasn't eaten anything all day, which messes with the sleep, we will give him a pb&j. But usually his breakfasts and lunch balance out the lack of dinner.

    3. Water table. (Especially with Jude because it's so much easier to supervise than a pool!) Bubble Mower. Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD (Yes, I am totally serious. Perfect age to start and sometimes you need a 30 minute break and this will make you at least feel like you're not turning their brains to mush!) Then the Leapfrog Phonics Bucket to go with it.

    4. Just say that all gifts will be donated to people in need. Then if people really feel the need to bring something, they have been warned. Women and children's shelters would love pretty much anything you'd get (toys/clothes/diapers) Or do a specific need drive. Canned goods etc. Or just go with the have a BBQ and bring a cake out at the end. Anyone emotionally stable will be able to handle it. (Unless you do actually have people who would be upset and then I would stick with the donating thing.)

    5. We get almost no sun in our backyard so I am sorry I am no help! Good luck!!

    7. We scan things that we'd like to come back to but don't need a hard copy. (Also good for kid art and like their well child stats.) We have a file case for the things we need.

    1. 1. YES! Totally seen Parenthood and lovvvved it! Oh man, I totally sobbed at the end. Amazing! I'm also watching Once Upon a Time, but I'm quickly losing interest. I feel like they're just recycling story lines with new characters now and it's getting overly dramatic and boring at the same time. Ugh. Are you still watching? It was so clever in the beginning, but now . . . not so much.

      2. Thanks for giving me permission to not stress about it. It's good to hear that that's your approach because it makes me feel better. :) And yeah, the real issue is that if I just say "eat what we're eating or starve" then it messes with his naps/sleep and I'm just not willing to make that sacrifice at this age. Ha!

      3. YES! Oh I really love the idea of a water table!! And the other suggestions too! :)

      4. I'm laughing at "Anyone emotionally stable will be able to handle it." Gotta love it! But seriously, I think I'm leaning toward the donation thing.

      7. Great idea! Do you have a scanner or just use an app? Any scanning suggestions?

    2. 1. oh we gave up on Once Upon A Time for all the same reasons. But, easy mistake to make when you're tired, One Day at A Time is one of the netflix original series about a Latino family. I thought it was good though some people thought it pushed a LGTB agenda. (I feel like it wasn't bad and it was dealt with in a very Catholic way.) Other ideas: My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Gilmore Girls, Hart of Dixie, The Crown, When Calls the Heart and Last Man Standing.

      2. I hope you have been able to breathe a little more about this! It really does come in spurts.

      3. The water tables make great sensory tables too when you don't want just water. Dry pasta, beans, water beads, kinetic sand, unpopped pop corn. Endless fun! (If you bring it inside, I recommend a cheap baby pool to put the water table inside to catch spills and things that roll. Learn from my mistake!)

      7. We just have a scanner, but it really has cut down on the clutter.

  10. So many answers!

    1. Poldark-- my husband and I loved Downton, and this is also a historical British show. The 1st season is better than the second, but still watchable. I don't have Netflix or Hulu (since they charge now. Grr.), but we checked the series out from the library. I second Parenthood, too. Based on your list, it looks like we could be show buddies!

    3. Tegu magnetic blocks

    5. We have a "Survival of the Fittest" garden. That means we plant seeds, randomly water, rarely weed, and are happy with whatever meager vegetables manage to grow. It works out well, because I like the *idea* of gardening much better than actually gardening. :)

    6. I love, love, love Aldi! We just got one last summer, and I told my husband we're naming our next baby (who does not yet exist) Aldi because of my deep affection for the store. Surprisingly, he is not on board. We'll see. ;)

    1. 1. So I watched the first episode of Poldark and was a little bored/confused. Does it get better or am I just lame? Haha. And I've actually watched and LOVED Parenthood! Great rec! Just forgot to add it to the list. Oops!

      3. Oh heck yes! I've seen magnetic blocks before and thought John Paul would love them! Are they good for 2-year-olds? Or maybe more like 3? They seem a little complicated but I've never actually played with them before.

      5. Hahahaha. Love your garden philosophy! Sounds just like me. :)

      6. PLEASE name your baby ALDI. Hahahaha. What are your favorite things to buy there?

  11. Hi Steph! Wow, this post is chock full of burning questions! ;) I've got some thoughts on several:

    2. As a dietitian I can tell you that What JP is going through is completely normal and to be expected (although it usually drives parents crazy!). I would highly recommend a book by my friend and dietitian-colleague Jill Castle called "Fearless Feeding". Here is the link:,descCd-buy.html.

    4. Asking people to not bring gifts to a party is always so tough because inevitably someone WILL bring a gift. And, honestly, I would think about the true meaning of "gift"'s something that someone wanted to give you. So should you really not give them the satisfaction of giving something to you when they feel compelled to give? Of course the flipside of that is that then you're faced with the possibility of things you don't need that just create clutter. I have heard of people asking guests that in lieu of gifts they make a donation to a favorite charity. Or, have them bring gifts that will be donated to a local shelter or daycare, etc.

    5. Check out

    7. Look up the "tickler file" concept. It has helped us, but we are still getting in the habit of using it properly! :) Here is more info:

    1. 2. I'm so glad you chimed in on this!! Thanks for the book recommendation. :) It's just so nice to hear it's normal and that I just need to change my perspective. That's easy to do. :)

      4. You're right that it's a little selfish of us to take away the joy of gift giving from others. Eep! I know you didn't say it quite like that, but that's really what's going on here for sure. I just don't want the clutter! And in terms of toys, he really does have all that he needs right now. So I'm thinking asking for donations for a pregnancy crisis center would be great! Thanks for helping me reflect here. :)

      5. Ohhhh, thanks for the link!

      7. Ohhhh, and another good link! You rock! <3

  12. 2. As a Registered Dietitian, it is normal to be picky. Keep offering the veggies. Be persistent in offering the variety and he will come around eventually.

    4. We always request no presents for our son's birthday parties. Just be prepared to graciously accept the gifts that people will bring anyway. Even if you ask for gifts for charity, be prepared for some people to be upset and think you are denying your child gifts. I was amazed at how many people thought I was denying my child presents when it was his idea, at the age of 5, to give to a needy child!

    1. 2. I'm so glad to hear it's normal from a professional. :) We will definitely keep offering! And in fact, that advice has already worked! We offered him some veggie Moroccan stew a few nights ago and he actually tried it! No coaxing, no forcing, just sat it in front of him and he eventually took a bite. And then another. And then gave up on it and just played with it all over the table. Hahaha. But progress!

      4. Yikes! I'm sad that people had that opinion. Maybe if I say something like "John Paul really has all he needs, so in lieu of gifts . . . " Perhaps that would help? We shall see!


  13. 1. Poldark. And another recommendation for Formed (you will fall asleep it you watch it nursing though).I only watch shows with my husband, which means everything is a compromise and not much is like what you have listed there (The Americans, The Man in the High Castle, Walking Dead.). Sorry though, I kind of wish it were different but it's good. Those look like such good shows.

    2. My oldest was so super picky at first but he has largely grown out of it. We just kept offering. And once he was several years older we started saying, "this is dinner, and there's nothing else." And eventually he got better. He still won't eat cheese though (weird?). I just kept things separate for a long time. I would make black beans and rice for example, he would eat the rice, never the beans but at least he got something and I wasn't cooking two meals.

    3.Balance bike hands down. You will not regret it. They are, in my experience, super difficult to find used but they are well worth the investment buying new. And you have other kids to pass it down to. My younger kids learned to ride their two wheelers at 4 years old, as soon as they were big enough to reach the pedals, after very little effort (my oldest was almost 6 before he learned, and it took him a lot of practice). And now that my current 3 year old is using it he can keep up with the big kids on short bike rides, which with training wheels would not be possible.

    4. Puzzle swap. We ask that guests not bring gifts, but instead invite you to bring a gently used puzzle for a puzzle swap. Every guest goes home with a new puzzle, but no one needs to buy anything, or make room for anything new. It's just replacing. It's a hit with my kids anyway. Old puzzles are boring, but NEW puzzles-so much love.

    As for the rest I can't help you. We live near forest and the dirt it terrible for gardening, the animals eat everything, and it's discouraging. Good luck though. I love Aldi for everything, not that helpful right? Especially dry grocery, but I almost always go somewhere else for produce.

    1. 1. So I watched the first episode of Poldark and was a little bored/confused. Does it get better or am I just lame? Haha. And it's a pretty big bummer that you have to compromise on shows. But on the flip side, it's also cute that you have so many shared shows!!

      2. Glad to hear he's grown out of it! I think once John Paul's older we'll try the "this is dinner, and there's nothing else" approach. Because I'm definitely not making 5 different meals every night for the rest of my life. :P

      3. Heck yes! Balance bike ftw! I just asked my parents if they would mind getting it for him for his bday. Woohoo! He has a Radio Flyer mini trike that he lovvvvves so I think a balance bike is the perfect next step. Great rec!! And it's so exciting to hear that your kiddos learned to ride bikes so easily!

      4. Ohhhh, that sounds fun! I might try that randomly during the year instead of at his bday party, but I love the idea!

      Ok, so if you had to pick your top 3 fave ALDI items, what would they be??

    2. When I pop into Aldi for just a quickie it's for milk, eggs and oats. I guess those are my top 3. (But those are kind of boring right?) I go there for wine too, and it if great fit snacks party food. Chocolate covered almonds forever and ever (but not during Lent for us;)

      I think Poldark gets better.

      I know it's a bummer :( Thankfully we can find common ground but there are certain shows I would love to watch that I never will. (Call the Midwife)

    3. Very boring top 3, but they're so cheap there, so I totally understand loving their staples. :) Yummm chocolate covered almonds! Have you tried their peanut butter cups (not during Lent, of course ;) )? AMAZENESS!

      Ok, fiiiinnne, maybe I'll try Poldark again. Maybe.

      You really should just watch Call the Midwife on your own. Like really!!

  14. Hello! It's been forever...

    I'm not reading other comments before I share my own (re: sleeping baby), but here's to throwing in my two cents again this round!

    1 - Last Man Standing, Master Chef Junior

    2 - Can't help you here! B doesn't eat much at all, nor does it include any variety other than what you previously mentioned.

    3 - I vote books are ALWAYS great gifts. And if it's not for your own kid, you can always give something like a savings bond (because what 2 year old notices the absence of a gift?). You might also consider bath toys, outdoor stuff, or perhaps some kind of experience gift (aquarium, zoo, etc).

    3 - Either way on the party gifts. Maybe call it "a potluck in (child's name) honor?" OR, (I'm sure someone else has already mentioned this) ask for donations made in his honor to your favorite charity?

    5 - We did a garden one summer, it was mildly successful and not at all the following year. I defer to others.

    6 - No Aldi here, sorry!

    7 - Hmm...A binder? Easy filing system? Rule about touching mail only once? We're pretty terrible at this so please share any great ideas you find!

    And again.......hey!!! :)


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