Thursday, March 9, 2023

Re-Learning Spanish as an Adult

I'm not sure if I mentioned it here on the blog, but I've been practicing my Spanish lately. I'm not going's not for travel. I'm just a language nerd. I can probably thank Ritalin for this, but I literally just kept thinking "man I miss learning a language" and then...started.

I've always wanted to learn Italian, and I may still someday...but I spent 7 years of my youth studying Spanish to do nothing more than help my kids study their Spanish. And I hate that I wasted it, and also thought it might be fun to wake up a part of my brain that already exists.

And it is. What's even more fun is sharing Spanish with my kids. They know enough know to tell me a word I've forgotten (and vice versa), and we can converse in short every-day phrases and confuse the heck out of Matt. It's great. lol

It's been such an interesting experience.

Like, for one, it blows me away how different it is learning anything as an adult. They always say that your mind is a sponge when you're young and it's important to expose your developing brain to things like other languages, but things like instruction and repeated practice? Girl, this stuff rarely broke the surface. I retained nothing. (Well, not nothing, but if it wasn't immediately obvious or easy to figure out, I rarely gave more than half an F.)

Yes, yes, ding ding ding...I had ADHD. Of course this was my history. But it's more than that. My therapist and I started digging into this a little lately, and have basically determined that I was disassociated for my entire childhood and only started pulling myself out mid-high school. My memories prior to that are like looking through a hazy screen, and when I try to put myself back into that perspective, my awareness is only half there. You might argue that this has to do with my undeveloped pre-frontal cortex, but we was more than that. 

Okay WOW we're off the rails, here (my morning meds have not yet kicked in, shocker).

MY POINT IS...I thought the fact that I was taking college level Spanish in high school and nerdily attending National Foreign Language Honor Society meetings (to which I was invited based on my surprisingly good grades, which...didn't happen in any other class) meant that I must have really "gotten" it and just forgot.

Turns out, I remembered several nouns and verbs, but could not organize them into coherent phrases beyond "Donde esta mi telefono?" and "Me gusta chocolate." (Forgive my lack of formatting, I don't have the Spanish keyboard installed on this computer!)

But, practicing now with the years of attempted understanding in the background is actually helpful. Some days I'm killing it and flying through the lessons, and other days I'm like....wait, I thought I had this but I clearly do not get this. At times I wonder why I'm bothering. But then other times I feel like I could spend all day on it.

And I have a few observations so far (other than everything I just rambled at you, yes.)

  • I remember weird phrases that my teachers used to say all the time, but forgot until now. And when I hear them, I picture them sitting at their desks and I think I will forever associate certain things with them. Example, "cierra la puerta" (close the door), and "otra vez?" (again?)

  • I have the hardest time understanding when to use the articles el and la conversationally. I understand which goes with which words (with a few weird exceptions), but sometimes you use them in a phrase when you're speaking to someone else, and sometimes you don't. And the second I think I've figured it out, I get it wrong. There's got to be some rule for this, but I have not yet sussed it out.

  • I literally did not know that when you use two verbs together, you only conjugate the first one. did I make it to honors Spanish without knowing that little tidbit? Literally just picked that up a couple weeks ago. It's already like second nature, so maybe I kind of new it (sort of?) back in the day, but didn't understand it as a "rule"?

  • I can't get over how interestingly gendered the entire language is. Like, okay, we have our pronouns, too...but why are random intimate objects even gendered in Spanish? Enough so that when we use the word "the"'s different depending on what genitals that word would have if it were alive?! This often baffles me. And then I get hung up thinking how difficult modern day social discourse must be in their culture. Why are humans like this???

  • There's two verbs that mean "is"...two entirely different words. One is typically meant for temporary traits, and one used for permanent traits. But not everything follows that rule, and my brain cannot keep it straight. I'm basically always guessing, and I get it right most of the time but it's 75% luck.

  • I notice patterns that I didn't used to. Seriously, when I think back to teenage me, girl was not paying attention. There's so many patterns! Example: the Spanish words for car and expensive are one letter apart and I don't think that's a coincidence.
Anyway, I'm sure I will have like 70 bajillion more observations as I go along - I'm on day 30 of practice! Proud of myself for's definitely a fixture of my morning routine. I often do a little practice right before bed, too, and sometimes I dream in Spanish! So bizarre, but really cool.

Hablaremos pronto!

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Me First February!

I have something SO good for you today!

First, ugh, I had all these plans to share Valentine's Day gift ideas with you last week...I was working so hard on it. And then I got the 'vid (blah) and it had other plans. I scrapped all of it. I'm still hoping to pop one or two up here because of all the behind the scenes work that went into it, but we'll see.

Today I have something sweet and lovey and juicy to share with you!

The upside of having covid is that I was looking at February like, "Okay, you evil frigid little month, you will not be the flaming pile of trash you usually are." I wanted to spend the whole month on health and self-care and loving myself back to the happy baseline I was at before these germs.

I started mapping out what I would do for myself...and then realized....hey, this might be useful.

So yesterday I sat down to do some shop work when all of a ebook came out.

Yes, a whole ebook. (lol.)

I mean, it's only 45 pages. It's not a novel. But it covers every day of February with a lovey way to take care of yourself and has a bunch of printable and fill-in spots for a full experience.

But here's the deal: I'm going to give you guys the list for free.

You can have the list of challenges, as well as your choice of Instagram-sized image to keep track. 

The book itself is full of pointers, lists of ideas, links to resources, and so much other goodness so I recommend it if you *really* want to dive in. It's not meant to be on your reading list for the month (it's not really a sit down with a cup of tea and get lost kinda thing)... it's more of a printable planner. Review the day's page in the morning, print it out if you find it useful, and fit the idea into your day. (There are several blank printable pages you can use over and over again!)

If you want the full ebook, grab it HERE! (It's 35% off with that link *only* through Feb 5th!)

But if you just want the list of ideas and feel like navigating them on your own, feel free!! You can download our printable list RIGHT HERE - no email or anything needed!

Don't forget to grab your choice of Instagram tracker:

Let me know if you're joining me, and use hashtag #mefirstfebruary on Instagram if you share any of your journey!

Monday, January 23, 2023

(Affordable!) Valentine's Day Gift Guide

Affordable Valentine's Gift Guide on

Looking for a cute little something-something for your Valentine, Galentine, or yourself?

Well, I have several ideas I'll share with you all week, but today I've got a roundup of few sweet goodies that are super-affordable and happen to be some of my favorite things! The most expensive thing here is only $26 currently, and most of these are under $10!

Go scoop them up before they're gone!

1. Diamond Eye Brightening & De-Puffing Eye Mask ($3 - Target)

2. Tiny Heart Gold Earrings ($10 - Spruce)

3. Coffee Is My Valentine Mug ($17 - Cozy & Rych)

4. Mix Bar Glass Rose Body Spray ($10 - Target)

5. Rose Love Heart Tee ($26 - Cozy & Rych)

6. Phone Selfie Light ($7 - Target)

7. Mini Heart Waffle Maker ($10 - Target)

8. Impress Ice Crystals Nails ($11 - Target)

Pop back in tomorrow for more ideas! <3

Friday, January 20, 2023

24 Hours in Wintery Downtown Buffalo



Last weekend, we went on a little staycation to canalside Buffalo for our oldest son's birthday. It was kind of the perfect Buffalo in winter experience. Our youngest even asked if we could do it all again, but next time for a whole week. (ha)

(PS, my sister took the photo above and if you are eagled-eyed enough you can sort of Where's Waldo me, Matt, and Luke.)


We drove into the city as the sun was setting after a very stressful Bills playoff game. I'm so glad we won - I think the excitement of the evening would have been a little subdued if we hadn't.

It was pretty gorge seeing the sun dipping below the skyline. 


We stayed at a Marriot right in canalside, and barely checked in before we set out for our first excursion - ice skating! Our hotel was central to literally everything...the rink was particularly close. It took us no time to walk over there.

It was suuuper busy - likely because it was basically Saturday night vibes with the extra day off on Monday. Thankfully we all have skates, so we didn't need to go through the hassle of rentals.

I loved the view while we skated - I wish this existed back when Matt and I were dating! Not that we can't have a date night there now, but this would have been so perfect for the early days. We were busy keeping up with kids (my gahhh the way some people fly around on the ice and basically steamroll anyone in their path), but it would have been so nice to just have our own moment there.




It was not a warm night, but we were bundled up pretty well so despite walking around town not exactly being enjoyable, it wasn't terrible. There were some leftovers from the Ice Fest Weekend that had wrapped up earlier that day and we enjoyed checking some of it out. There were some cool ice sculptures up near where Shark Girl is that I would have liked to get closer to, but everyone was pretty cold and hungry after skating!


After a little bit of trying and failing, we ended up at Pearl Street for dinner - which honestly, was better than what we'd had planned, I think. It was so slow - there were very few people there (a first for Pearl Street...I've never been there when it wasn't slammed before) and the food was so good! The kids loved ordering lemonades from the bar, haha.


I got a salted caramel porter that was soooo gooood, split a cup of beer cheese soup with Matt (insane), and had a poached pear salad for dinner that was so big I packed up more than half of it and had it for lunch the next day. It was all top notch.

My birthday kid enjoyed his night...I just cannot get over him being 14. Sigh.


When we got back to the hotel, we were all too full to have the cookie cake I'd made for Luke, so instead, we opted to visit the pool. Nothing like a have-the-place-to-yourselves night swim! The kids had so much fun despite getting was hard to get them out of the pool.


The next morning, I met my sister in the lobby to get some Starbucks. It was such a pretty morning...we had a pretty packed schedule, but I kinda wish I'd had more time to kick back and just take in the view.

After we caffeinated, we walked across the street to Tim Horton's to get some breakfast sandwiches. Which we quickly followed with a a birthday song and cookie cake. And then another trip to the pool.

The kids swam for a bit, and then it was already time to pack things up and check out ahead of the Sabres game. Our hotel was just a couple blocks away from the arena, so after we loaded up the van with our things, we walked down the street for the game. Such a pretty day! It was fun to be in the mix of excited fans again - it had been way too long since my last game!



I fell in love with this sweater in the Sabres store...ugh. Obsessed. It was $105 (gross) so I couldn't charm my way into this one but omg...if anyone sees this go on sale as spring sets in, you must alert me.


Doesn't it just give you chills? The vibe in the arena is everything.


The Sabres didn't show up for us (booo), but we still had so much fun all being there together. My Jake keeps saying he's totally into sports now because of it (lol).

We had such a great weekend! If you want to see it in video form (plus more pictures!), I put it all into a highlight on my Instagram called Buffalo. (If that direct link to the highlight doesn't work, my Instagram is @jenn.rych)

We love you, Buffalo! <3

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Revisiting my Eras - Part 2 (2013-2016)

If you didn't catch the first post, I started a series where I share photos from the many phases of life I've gone through over decades of blogging. It's a trip so's so interesting to see all the versions of myself in one place. I've worn a lot of metaphorical hats.

Today, we're hopping in around 2013.


The year started with some much anticipated renovations on our kitchen. So at first, I was in a home renovation era. I fancied my style to be an updated shabby chic mixed with scandi sort of thing...all flowers and pastels and lace - pops of color against lots of bright white. I wanted to redo the whole house with that vibe.

But, pretty soon, I was pregnant again. (Hey, look at that! A photo from my big camera that isn't of my kids!) This pregnancy was....a doozy. I was fully depressed. I didn't know enough back then to do anything about it or seek help....I was just waiting out the months. It's sad to look back at. My entire 2013 was just one long, sad, waiting pattern.

When Jake came in the fall, though, my entire world changed. He and I shared the most calm, connected, sweet relationship. There was no stress. We co-slept, we dream fed, he nursed until he was two, and I wore him everywhere. We were just one unit. I saw the brotherhood forming between my boys, and I fully stepped into my "boy mom" role.


Fully, fully. This photo was from a babywearing partnership I did for an old blog. Being a mom to three boys was my entire life. It was what I did, who I was, how I spent my time.


In 2014...well, let's just pause a second to appreciate how kick-ass my garden was that year. Seriously off the chain.

Anyway, as I was saying...I turned 30. Eep. Yeah, it was emotional to say the least. The birthday happened, and a couple days later I dropped my first baby off at Kindergarten and my second baby at preschool. You guessed it - I was a wreck. It was too many milestones, too much growth all at once. So, ya know, I had a bit of an emo moment.

And then, entered my craft era.

I was always sort of in one. I'd been scrapbooking for years, sewing since high school, dabbling in a bit of everything always. But this is when it was a pretty strong presence in my life - enough to call it an era. I started thrifting a lot at this time, too, and mixing my finds with my crafts. It went pretty well with that whole modernized shabby chic thing.

This is when I taught myself embroidery. And then didn't stop.

I opened an Etsy shop selling crocheted coffee cozies and little reusable microwavable hand warmers. I had one really great holiday season with the shop and then crickets forever before I gave up. I think after the initial excitement, people realized they never brought their cozies along with them and just preferred the paper ones Starbucks give you. Because that's exactly what I realized myself, haha.

I was blogging my little heart out - fixing up rooms in my house and taking photos, documenting everything I cooked, working with brands, coming up with useless tutorials. Blogger-crafter era with 3 kids was a trip. I just so desperately wanted to make money for our household and never, ever leave my babies.

This was also the start of my PTA era, by the way. I was involved in basically everything, and before long I'd end up on the dang board. Still not sure how that happened. There were some who were even vying for me to be President, which was a huge nah-nah-nah.

There I go, planning parties again. We went to Disney that year and Henry was *obsessed* with Mickey Mouse at the time. So I planned a big Disney party for him that summer...complete with a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse bounce house, a pinata from the Planes movie, and all kinds of Mickey and Big Hero 6 stuff. 

And then! I entered my puppy mom era. I'd never owned a dog as an adult! It was such an unexpected and round-about way that lead us to our girl. Let's just take a second and appreciate how stinking cute she was with a couple more pictures...

Being Galli's new mom was truly an era - she was a handful. We didn't know until later that she is part Weimaraner and has allllll the social anxiety that comes along with the breed. For over a year, we couldn't leave her alone. When we tried, she'd poop everywhere. Like...violently. It was horrifying and disgusting and awful. And then one day? She over it.

She's still a bit of a headcase about being away from us, but she ended up growing into the PERFECT dog. No joke - she's incredible. So sweet, so loyal, so patient, so lovey. She's just the best.

This was also the start of a new fashion era for me....

It started with discovering resale shops on Instagram and buying resale thrifty clothes. I loved finding unique things for super cheap and making outfits out of them.

I remember when this scarf had a crazy $5 deal and I was like...omg, everything is coming together. (LOL) I had a real moment with this thing. Ohh the Alex & Ani bracelets. Remember the endless tinkling sound anytime a group of millennial women got together?

I also started bargain hunting Target's clearance section and...well that's a whole other era that's coming up next, but this was the start of it. I still wear that cardigan around the holidays!

Layers and interesting combos became my jam. Probably because that's when I discovered Matilda Jane's women's line. Oh yes...that's the next era on deck, and it's a big one. Prepare yourselves for flowers and patterns galore!

Until next time ;)