The Swan Life: June 2017

Swan Life

Hello again from the other half of this blog operation. This is Lucy and I probably shouldn’t equate my presence to half of The Green Swan… more like ten percent. JW does all the heavy lifting here, but once a month I get to pop in and give my perspective. It’s fun to say hello to the readers and I love getting feedback and recommendations, especially when it comes to new vegan recipes to try (hint, hint)!

New Routine and Discounts

Returning to work was a fairly smooth transition. I was happy to have a good reason to shower before 10am and welcomed some adult conversations. The main thing that has taken a bit to get used to is how much time we spend prepping bottles! Our routine at night pretty much goes like this: dad get son #1 food while mom feeds son #2, wash bottles, warm up our food, make sure son #1 is eating, check on son #2 who spit up a bit, fill bottles for next day, take a few bites of food, tell son #1 to take more bites, wash more bottles, clean up son #1, convince him it’s time to go upstairs, change into pajamas, brush teeth, read books, time for bed… and finally sit down. Wait, nope! Time to ride the bike and get our exercise in, then sit down and watch something on Netflix. Whew, makes me tired just typing this.

Don’t get me wrong, we love our time with the boys and make it all work… while looking forward to the weekends. Guess that’s why we work so hard to reach FIRE so we can spend more time enjoying each other and less time washing bottles.

Both boys are at the same daycare and that has been a huge help. No need to drive to separate locations for pick up and drop off, they’re right there together. It also allows us a siblings discount, hurray! Ok it’s not much, just 10%, but we’ll take it. We also get a 10% discount through JW’s employer so we’re taking advantage of as much savings as possible. Oh wait, they take credit cards for payment too…which allows us to travel hack like non-other!

Having the boys in the same location means all four of us can continue to commute together also. That means more time together as a family during the car rides. We read books, sing songs, talk about our day, etc. But it also means weekly gas fill-ups for only one car and free parking (my employer provides it). More savings add up!

Spending Spree

Last week JW dropped the bomb on ya that we are no longer considering our move to London. Although we went through a period of being bummed out, we’re forging on. For over a year we had put any major purchases for our house on hold as we pursued the move. This would include items like a dresser for our son’s big boy room (we transitioned him out of the nursery before having our second child) and patio furniture for our backyard.

Now that we know we’ll be sticking around for a bit we’ve loosened up on some products and services that make life a little more livable.

One recent purchase was made right before Mother’s Day, but we had to wait until Father’s Day to decide if this sale was sexist or not. The Roomba was offering a big discount on their 900 series vacuums and we pounced. The iRobot Roomba 960 was calling our name… and so was more free time on the weekend! While vacuuming is usually JW’s job, it was worth every penny :).

The discount brought the $700 vacuum down to $600 and although more than we would normally drop for an item like this, we’ve been really pleased with our purchase. Our 3 year old also loves turning the “robot” on, but he also willingly helps pick up before we run it… double bonus for us. And for the record, Roomba is not sexist… they ran the same sale over Father’s Day too. 🙂

Swan Life
Taking this snapshot at 6:24 am may seem early…but with a newborn I had already been up 3 hours…

Another purchase that wasn’t a need, but more of a want was an electric toothbrush. I previously had a misconception that they were too expensive and after searching online my mind was changed. The thought of this actually started when our dentist gave out replacement heads as opposed to standard disposable toothbrush. JW started researching and found an Oral-B brush that was reasonable.

Thanks to Amazon Prime we had it two days later! Plus we knew we should be using one of these to get a better clean. Great thing is we can share one and each have our own replacement head. Oh and no new technology comes without an app. Go figure you can sync your brush with your phone and track your time spent brushing, earn “trophies”, and more. Genius way to get even adults to enjoy this mundane task.

Swan Life

Stay tuned for some more spending in next month’s Swan Life…maybe we’ll find a good 4th of July sale on our planned purchase of patio furniture :)!

Top Vegan Blogs & Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Just the other day JW and I watched yet another documentary about eating a plant based diet titled What The Health. I can honestly say if you would have asked me a year or two ago about switching to a vegan diet I would have laughed, hard. But now I’m a true believer and get excited about finding new recipes that are not only healthy, but easy to make, and something my kid(s) will enjoy.  We ran across this great resource and list of top vegan blogs. I have only scratched the tip of this iceberg and look forward to diving into more of them and finding new recipes.

One of the recipes I found on Pinterest this past month was something so incredibly simple both JW and I thought it couldn’t possibly be as good as the store bought version. The recipe was for a 20-Minute Classic Marinara sauce. We like to double the recipe and freeze some of it in mason jars. At first we thought this might be a cost saving way to make simple spaghetti sauce. After doing a little math we realized it wasn’t a huge savings after all. It is, however, way healthier than the store bought version. Our eyes were open wide after taking a look at the jar and realizing how much sugar the manufacturers put into the sauce! This recipe keeps the sugar and sodium low and we like the thought of feeding a healthier sauce to our boy(s). After letting JW make a couple batches I had to remind him to go easy on the red pepper flakes. He might enjoy the heat, but these taste buds of mine are not a fan!

Conquering The Zoo

We ventured out for our first adventure as a family of four this month. The North Carolina Zoo has been on our to-do list for a while since our older boy is the perfect age to enjoy the animals and activities. It’s a quick hour and a half drive so it’s a great day trip and no need to splurge on a hotel room. Admission was what I would have expected… $15 for adults and $11 for kids over 2 years of age. In total that was $41 for us, not bad!

Luckily I had some insight from coworkers that this zoo was the perfect place to pack a picnic and enjoy outside the park. We showed up shortly after opening in the morning, got a great workout roaming through the zoo and were exhausted and ready to leave around lunch time. Son #1 really enjoyed the animals (the polar bear seemed to be his favorite) while son #2 blissfully slept practically the whole day. It was such a fun family outing, I think we’ll go again in the fall. I really want to do more activities like this as a family. I know I got some great input from readers in the past, but I welcome more ideas for day trips in the North Carolina area!

Swan Life
Can you spot the lion!!! Out little guy kept roaring at him 🙂 …tough guy behind the fence!

Thanks again for letting me crash the blog this month. Have you ever put spending on hold and then turned on the faucet a bit and felt like you were on a shopping spree? What items did you hold off on buying for a while until there was a truly amazing sale? Anyone else in love with the zoo and thinking about buying a season pass?

– Lucy

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26 Comments

  1. I had to laugh at the OralB and Roomba apps, they think of everything! And how I wish our daycare would allow us to pay via credit card! Right now, they have a “cash/check only” policy…

    I’m glad your return to work went well. It sounds like your are developing a good routine with the two kiddos! 🙂 Have a great July!

    ~Mrs. Adventure Rich

    1. So true, there is an app for everything! Oh man paying daycare on the cc has been a game changer. Allows us to reach the initial limit on a card in order to get the airline miles! Thanks! -Lucy

    1. Oh yes, he asks to turn on the robot pretty much every morning. Yesterday I even caught him saying “bye robot” when we walked out the door, ha! Surprisingly I’m excited to go to the dentist next. Want to see improvements! -Lucy

  2. Sorry London didn’t work out. We came close on an opportunity in Singapore a few years back that didn’t pan out. Ultimately it takes a lot to psych yourself up to do such a thing so when the opportunity fails it’s that much harder. But, moving kids across the world is also a hard endeavor.

    Glad your return to work went well. My wife’s fore back in, via contract work, is also just starting to role (week 3). It’s an adaption for sure.

    1. Yes the silver lining to not moving over seas is to avoid the hassle of moving with the kids. We would have done it of course no problem! But I do realize that finding daycare could have posed a challenge. I do feel we’ve found a great routine for us, so we’ll stick to it! -Lucy

  3. My wife wants to buy Rumba but the price stops us from doing this. For now we found a compromise, we’ve been teaching our older daughter (she’s 9) how to use vacuum and broom and pay her $0.5 for every time when she does this job.

    1. Love that! Trust me, JW and I are really looking forward to including the kids in the chores. For now we’ll stick to teaching them in hopes that they’ll catch on eventually. For now they just create more mess than help clean up 🙂 -Lucy

  4. I was curious how the vegan diet was going. I was vegan a few years back but with the amount of travel I do it was really difficult for me to eat on the road. Not many airports have vegan options & usually the salads are more expensive than anything else! I am now pescatarian and do eat a bit of egg and cheese. No meat. After being vegan I went back to eating eggs first. In the year I didn’t eat them I developed an allergy! It took a while to eat my way past it but I did. 😅Once I ditch this job I’ll probably go back to vegan. I loved eating clean but couldn’t go broke for it!

    1. Yes returning to work has been a good test of eating vegan for me. It’s not always easy to find a vegan option on a restaurant menu, especially when I’m with clients and don’t want to spend a lot of time scouring the items! I had my first test of a Boca burger… and let’s just say I don’t plan on ordering one of those again. You live and you learn -Lucy

  5. Oh my gosh, I am SO HAPPY to hear another blogger got a Roomba! I have been wanting one for ages but had no idea how I could justify it lol. You make me feel a lot better. I love our tile and hardwood floors, but holy moly, I spend at least 30 minutes a DAY sweeping and mopping. And that’s just so I don’t get stuff on my feet when I walk around. It’s ridiculous. First-world problem, I know, but a dang robot would make life easier.

    Way to go with getting into a routine. 🙂

    1. Haha yes agreed! It saves us time and we can run it as often as we like. We haven’t gotten to a point where we schedule it to run during the day while we’re gone, but maybe someday. Even running it while we’re home isn’t bad, and it’s almost like a babysitter for our toddler 🙂 -Lucy

  6. I am naturally going to a more vegan diet. For some reason, as I get older the fatty dairy and meats just don’t appeal to me anymore. I guess that is a good thing since it may help the grocery bills.

    1. I totally agree that meat in general isn’t super appealing to me anymore. I should say I don’t really crave them for a meal. Although the Fourth of July cookout party we went to was another story… I’ll admit, the hot dogs on the grill smelled amazing! -Lucy

  7. The first present that my (then) boyfriend (now husband) gave me was an Oral-B toothbrush. I guess I’m more transparent about my teeth vanity than I realize. I used that thing every.single.day until the battery died and then I bought another one. This one is about to die and I already have another one ready to go (I won it).

    People I know (read: BIG consumers) have been raving about this Roomba and I just might have to do some research. We need a new (we’d buy used) vacuum and it would be nice to have clean floors all the time instead of just late at night when electricity is cheapest (we’re in Ontario with time-of-use rates). If it looks like a go, I’ll check out Kijiji (our Craigs List) and/or wait for a sale. I appreciate the thumbs up. It means a lot coming from someone that values their hard earned money.

    1. I never realize that my small post about our purchases could empower others to justify their own! That’s great! Sometimes we all need to step back and analyze what is truly a priority in life. For us, that has turned into family time… hence our purchases to make life easier. As you can imagine we did a TON of research on the Roombas. We also waited a while for them to be on the market long enough to provide multiple models and improvements with each one. There’s a big difference between an established product and one that is brand new and probably not perfected yet. -Lucy

  8. I always enjoy getting a glimpse into the Swan Life. The zoo is an awesome place to visit with little ones. We just got a membership to our nearest zoo (about 45 minutes away) and have already been twice.

    We watched What the Health a few weeks ago. In the past 2.5 years, we have watched just about every food/health/nutrition documentary out there and What the Health definitely tops our list. Great film! So glad to see you guys are still going strong with the plant-based diet.

    1. You know a coworker of mine advised us to buy a yearly pass to the zoo if we enjoyed our first trip. Turns out the yearly pass pays for itself if you visit just twice in one year. We’ll need to consider for our next trip,whenever that happens to be. I would agree, What the Health was a great film, one of the best we’ve watched lately. Glad you enjoyed it too! -Lucy

  9. Sorry to hear that London didn’t work out. At least now you have closure and get your lives off hold, so that is good! Funny you mentioned the “What the Health” documentary.

    We watched it over the holiday weekend and it not only converted my Vegetarian wife, but my 17 year old daughter and most shockingly of all, my 15 year old son to be Vegan!

    It helped that they profiled all of the professional athletes at the end that are becoming Vegan to enhance their performance.

    I’m doing my best as well, but I know it will be tough with work travel and all day meetings. We’ll see if I can stick to it.

    1. Amazing! The films we’ve watched are not only well made, but so convincing! And I agree, the professional athletes make a great case and what great role models! I would love to hear how your family does moving forward! -Lucy

  10. I’m glad you all had fun at the zoo. It’s on our summer to-do list, but we haven’t felt brave enough to bring all five kids just yet.

    Going back to work after having a baby is always difficult. But it’s nice that you can commute together as a family. I have a fairly long commute that I do all on my own, and usually listen to audiobooks while driving.

    We’re considering lots of different family passes now that there are seven of us. They will probably pay for themselves in one visit!

    1. Oh yes taking a family trip to the zoo with five kids is much different than our two! I feel like just having the two makes for a lot of work. I’ve always been the type to avoid overpacking, but I also have to make sure I have all the necessities… nothing worse than not having enough diapers! -Lucy

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