Monday, September 17, 2018

Birthday Week

This week was one worth celebrating.

On Tuesday, Mira turned ONE. Wow, that year went by fast.

We invited family over and ordered pizza, made a kale salad, sprinkle cookies, and a smash cake.

Lots of confetti jokes were made.

In true one year old fashion, Mira inhaled the pizza and only picked at the smash cake regardless of how my sprinkles I tried to stick in her mouth. She enjoyed opening her presents (she adorably hugged the baby my mom gave her) while the older kids swam in the way-too-cold-for-babies pool.

Thursday was my birthday. I turned 34, which was the age I already assumed I was, so no big deal in my book. Dan was out of town for work and Danielle sweetly took over the festivity responsibility.

The day started with our friend Hannah coming over for coffee and Danielle giving me the best kale shirt and kale birthday card ever. Kale for life.

Cora sang me many many renditions of Happy Birthday all morning long.

I had a client meeting and shortly after I took Mira to her one year check up where the doctor reported that she is prefect in every way and then gave her four shots.

After work Danielle surprised me by inviting a few of my friends over for dinner! We had such a lovely night of chatting while the kids watched random (but age appropriate) videos on YouTube.

Other highlights of the week:

- Both Cora and Ina started dance lessons, which Cora has been looking forward to for weeks. We were there from 4:45 to 7 PM, so I set up shop with dinners packed for us all. Cora started out enthusiastically and did a great job of participating through her class and most of the thirty minute voice lesson that both girls are in. I decided to peek in on them about half way through and after it was her turn to sing, she spent the last ten minutes rolling around on the floor. Typical.

- I started reading Little House on the Prairie books to the girls (they love them!) and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and am just smitten with it.

- I went to the Athleta friends and family sale and completely spoiled myself with birthday money my mom and grandma gave me.

- We had a play date with our friends Aubry, Avery, and Addy and were even able to swim in the pool and not be freezing cold!

-My friend Kathleen from work is moving to home based. Although I am happy for her and her family, I am terribly sad to not have her in the cube next to me. She and her daughter came over on Saturday night, which was so fun.

Some good recipes from the past week:

Greek chicken bowls/burritos - seriously one of my all time favorite fast and easy meals

Loma Saltado - my birthday meal and so delicious!

Chopped wedge salad with smoked chicken and sweet potato fries

And for birthday celebrations:

Sprinkle Cookies - these are hands down the prettiest things I have ever baked.
Cheesecake brownies
Paleo chocolate chip cookies

Have a great week! <3

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Labor Day Weekend 2018: Johnson Shut-Ins and Elephant Rocks

Exactly one week before Labor Day Weekend, I decided our family should go on a little trip. Camping for a few days sounded like a good idea, and I remembered Dan telling me about this place a few hours away he went to as a kid. After sending him a text asking if he wanted to go (he responded with a resounding YES!) and calling every single campground in the area, I finally found a nice little cabin we could call home for a few days.

We left Friday afternoon and even picked Ina up from school an hour early, to her absolute delight. She adores school, but there is just enough rebel in her to get excited about leaving early.

I thought the trip might be cut off very early when Dan and I kept on arguing about directions...and then other stuff..., but then he took a long breath sand said, "We owe it to our kids to get along this weekend."

And we did. And what a weekend we had.

We stopped for dinner at a Chinese buffet, which made Dan and Ina happy little clams, as I despise Chinese buffets and therefore we rarely go to them.

We made it to our cabin (which Cora adorably called a "cabinet" the entire weekend) a little after 9 and the girls were beyond excited about our two queen beds, mini-fridge, table with two chairs, and microwave.

Saturday we went to Johnson Shut-Ins, a beautiful state park in its own right. We parked the car, loaded up the stroller, and walked the quarter of a mile it took to get to the shut ins. Although I had seen pictures, I was not prepared for the beauty of the water rushing through huge rocks in some places sitting as still as glass in others.

Ina and Cora immediately took off to play in the water and Dan attempted to follow them while I had to be a little more cautious while holding Mira. We climbed, slid, waded, crawled, swam, and fell our way up and down those nooks and crannies all day long, stopping only for a lunch we had packed.

Ina found a group of older girls to slide down a few of the rocks with and was giddy sitting up on the rocks with them in a circle, just listening to them talk.

Dan and Ina found a few big rocks to jump off at least 100 times. Cora and Mira preferred to stay near the edge and play with the smaller rocks.

We drove back to our cabin absolutely exhausted, with enough energy to start a fire and grill dinner (pizza + wings) before baths and an early bedtime.

Sunday we headed to Elephant Rocks State Park, which is only 20 minutes away from Johnson Shut-Ins. The second we pulled in the parking lot I saw the gigantic rocks and knew our family would have a good time. After a minor set back of our stroller tire exploding, we were off and starting climbing the rocks.

Cora took charge and was determined to find THE elephant rock. Any time we would pause to look at a cool mushroom or animal foot print she would yell, "Follow my lead!" or "Come on Guys!" or "Are we going to find this elephant rock, or what?!"

Ina enjoyed herself until we ran out of water and then she turned into a delicate flower. There was one point where she dramatically stopped me, grabbed my arm, pointed to her forehead and said, "Do you see this? This is SWEAT! I NEED water."

The state park's water was turned off, so after the nice woman in the snow cone truck filled up our bottle, she was in a much better mood. We ate our packed lunch and then knew that the kids needed some rest after hours of climbing around for two days in a row.

We got in the car and started driving and all three of them fell asleep within minutes. We saw a sign for another state park - Tom Sauk Mountain, so up we headed. Unbeknownst to us, this is the highest point in the state of Missouri, and man was it beautiful! The girls woke up just in time to climb to the top of the look out station and be "close to the clouds."

We were considering going back to the shut-ins for a few hours, but then Dan asked if we just wanted to find a spot on the river somewhere to play, which sounded like a fun (and less exhausting/more safe) idea.

This was honestly my favorite part of the whole trip. Ina and Cora floated down the river hundreds of times. Dan taught Ina how to skip a rock. Cora and Mira picked up rock after rock after rock. We just sat there and enjoyed each other as a family.

I eventually joined the girls at floating down the river, which was even more fun than it looked. Ina made up a song about swimming in the "Momma-ssippi" River.

(I also saved all the videos on a "highlight" in my IG stories for memories!)
We saw a few snakes and then decided it was time to go home, eat some hot dogs for dinner, and go to bed.

We woke up Monday morning and said goodbye to our "cabinet."

We stayed at a beautiful place that was designed for people with horses to stay, but it worked great for us. After stopping by the shut-ins to purchase some swag, we hit the road. On the way home we stopped at Onondaga Cave State Park for a cave tour.

This was another absolute treat. The cave was beyond beautiful and we (mostly) enjoyed the hour tour. There was one point when Mira was screaming while the tour guide was talking and I looked up from sushing her to see Cora climbing on the rocks that we were specifically instructed to not-so-much-as brush with our pinkie finger.

I loved the hearing the history of the cave and Ina seemed to enjoy learning about so many different things. At the very end of the tour, we even saw a bat! Cora was pretty much done by this point and kept asking if she could "go to my home to watch TV."

We stopped at a dairy-burg for burgers and ice cream for lunch, and then drove 4 hours straight to make it home right before dark.

I can't wait for our next adventure.

August Goals

Good morning!

Mira discovered the stairs. Game changer.

For the first time in nearly three weeks I find myself sitting down with a cup of coffee with nothing (pressing) to do except write. Our life has been so full (in such a good way) and fun that this little space has taken backseat. But, I have some fun stuff to share. I had most of the post below already written (from two weeks ago), so I will publish that and see how far I get before Danielle and I head out for our Sunday morning coffee walk.

A sweet moment from this week was that Cora tucked me into bed one night. She walked me to my room holding my hand, pulled back the covers and said, "there you go mom."

After I laid down she pulled the blankets over me and said, "OK, now close your eyes" and when I did she lightly kissed my arm, said goodnight, and walked away.

I almost melted right into the comforter.

One of my goals in the month of August was to put some more work into my marriage. On Monday Dan and I started going back to marriage counseling. Our family has been through some tough stuff lately and we weren't handling it the best we could as a mom-dad/husband-wife. When we walked into our counselor's office I had a worried feeling, as I didn't exactly know how the hour would go. We had some difficult conversations, and will continue to have them as often as it takes to wade through it all. Walking out felt a lot better.

Another way to improve our marriage - more dates! Mira is so close to being weened, which makes leaving her a whole lot easier. My dad came over on Friday to stay with the girls (and brought pizza and cookies!) while Dan and I headed out to sushi. Just a few hours away makes a big difference.

While we are on the topic of August goals, my other two were to decrease distractions at work and clean up my eating. While the former hasn't really changed (I seriously just need to delete Google Chrome from my machine), I have cleaned up my eating quite a bit with more real food and less pizza, ice cream, and wine. I also started tracking what I eat in the My Fitness Pal App in an effort to maximize my macro-nutrient ratios and am trying intermittent fasting out for a few weeks to see if it is a tool that might help me.

Saturday night Chessa invited me to join her for one of the coolest events I have been to in a long time - Rise (an a rooftop crawl for Big Brothers Big Sisters). Every place had its own theme and I was just giddy taking it all in.

Chessa and I walked from rooftop to rooftop just chatting and enjoying the scenery. We usually have kids running around us while we talk, so this was a rare and precious change.

I also want to tell you that I have fallen in love with this book, These is my Words. It is just the sweetest and makes me feel warm and strong and loving and like if this woman from the early 1900s can be be a good wife/mom/worker, then so can I.

Meals from the Week:

Monday: carnitas with cabbage slaw: I am fully convinced you cannot go wrong with pork in a slow cooker.
Tuesday: basil curry chicken with zoodles, rice, and roasted broccoli. I feel like the recipe okay, but not absolutely fantastic. I probably wouldn't make again, at least in the slow cooker.
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: chili and salad - it was cool and a big pot of chili sounded perfect
Friday: Date Night
Saturday: out with Chessa
Sunday: spaghetti (or zoodles in my case) with meatballs

Monday, August 20, 2018

Ina's First Week of Kindergarten

The week started out with Danielle and I doing the first gamma T25 workout. Woof, it was hard, and honestly, they haven't gotten any easier, which I suppose is a good thing, but I can't convince myself of that when I am struggling through push up jacks.

After work I put the finishing touches on the dinner that Danielle started and then took Ina up to her Back to School Night to drop off her school supplies and say hi to her teacher.

Her kindergarten teacher is the same one she had and absolutely loved for a few weeks in her pre-K summer school, which worked out quite nicely.

Ina wasn't even a little scared on her first day of kindergarten. She walked in and basically owned the place from the beginning by greeting people as they walked in the room, telling kids where to put their lunches, etc.  She already knows over half the kids in her class from previous classes and activities. She had an assignment from her teacher to help pass out papers before Granny and I even left the room.

I think she will do just fine.

The rest of the week was a blur of trying to iron out our new schedule with school in full swing. Once we have mastered that, in September we will throw swim lessons and dance class into the mix for both Ina and Cora.

I have my mini-van, mom shorts, a fully detailed planner, and my Yeti full of coffee. I am ready.

Friday Cora did have her three year check up that went great. She is long and lean and appropriately behaved for a three year old red head.

Dan was out of town for work all week - living the rough life eating gourmet breakfasts and dinners and sleeping in hotel beds, so Friday night Grandma Frankie took the older girls for a sleepover and I came home, put Mira to bed, and read my book and watched TV with a glass of wine.

It was everything and just what I needed after crying while trying to bread chicken (see below).

Saturday Danielle and I walked, I worked while my mom watched Mira, and then we did a little cleaning/prep for Gunner's birthday party.

I left to grab the older girls and came home to a party at my house. Entering my own house with a party mid-swing was a little funny feeling, but in a good way. Ina didn't miss a beat starting a girl's club with the few girls who attended the party, Cora cuddled with Papa Fred, and Mira was passed around by anyone who was willing to hold her.

Sunday we went to church (what an awesome sermon/worship!), celebrated my brother's birthday (a fun time to see a lot of the family and for the girls to play with their cousins!), watched movies (Shrek!), and food prepped/cooked (see below). Here's to another week in the books.

Meals from the week:

Monday: picadillo, roasted zucchini, brown rice, and a tomato, cucumber, and red onion salad.
Tuesday: paleo chicken fingers, roasted potato/corn/peppers, and cottage cheese salad. I may have cried in the middle of breading those chicken fingers with three different dunking stations and three kids who all wanted my attention at the same time. They were delicious, but only if you have plenty of time, attention, and patience.
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: meatloaf, roasted green beans, and roasted sweet potatoes. Danielle cooked the meatloaf on the smoker and it was everything I didn't know I needed in my life.
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: Gunner's birthday party!
Sunday: burgers, kale salad, sweet potato fries, and smoked brussels sprouts with bacon. Pretty much my dream meal, but I had to inhale it because Mira needed some extra TLC.

Snacks/meal prep:
Superhero muffins: these are some of my favorites!
Paleo mayo: this stuff doesn't last long at our house!

Have a great week! <3

Monday, August 13, 2018

Double Fisting Sippy Cups


I am starting from a week and a day ago...

We celebrated Grandma Beverly's 90th birthday on Sunday afternoon in her hometown church (a building that brings back so many wonderful childhood memories).

(I hope I inherited the "thriving in your 90's gene)

She had tons of friends and family visit and I loved hearing stories about her when she was younger. After the official party we went to the after party, which was at a nearby restaurant that served us some amazing fried chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes.

Mira, who hadn't eaten anything solid in over a week by this point, convinced me to let her break that record and did not stop eating for the next 45 minutes. Granny and Dan took turns shoving forkfuls of food in her mouth and she loudly protested if there was even the slightest lull in the fork-to-mouth progress.

Since her re-entrance into the food world, her eating game has been strong. I am so very thankful for this.

Another noteworthy party incident was that somehow Cora was convinced she was staying the night at Aunt Jessie and Uncle Cody's house and was less than thrilled when she was forced into her own vehicle. The entire drive home she tried different tactics to convince us she could go there from asking nicely, "Please oh please can I go..." to forcefully yelling, "I am going to Uncle Cody's house!" to playing mind tricks, "Mom, what do you think about going to Uncle Cody's house?"

We remedied the situation quickly by setting up a date and Tuesday after dinner I met Jess at the fire station to deliver the older girls for a sleepover.

I think it is safe to conclude that they enjoyed themselves.

The night they came home we ate leftovers and had full intention for a family swim. Somehow a family swim morphed into a family dance party with "Let's Dance" YouTube videos that may have raised my heart rate more than the morning's workout.

The next evening Dan had to switch out the pool filter, which was an all night affair. I won the exciting job of putting all the kids to bed and Dan came upstairs just in time to sneak a picture of me backwards army crawling out of their room. He was hysterically laughing. He said that all of a sudden my legs came out of the door, just like Beetle Juice.

Yep, I am all the way winning at life right now.

We are reading Because of Winn-Dixie before bed and I have bawled my eyes out every single night. The thought of a girl without her momma while I am surrounded by my girls is just more than I can take sometimes.

The next day was Mira's follow up appointment with her pediatrician where it was confirmed that she has healed from swallowing a piece of confetti but had developed hand-foot-mouth in the process.

She then proceeded to share it with her sisters. I think Ina was mostly immune, but poor Cora just can't handle the pain from the sores in her mouth. She has been inconsolable unless you turn on a TV show, so needless to say, she has had a lot of screen time this weekend.

All of our plans for the weekend were scratched and we stayed home, swam, and watched movies. Dan and I did manage to tag-team church, with Danielle's help of driving one of us there and the other home.

One last thing that is only a big deal if you are a mother of an almost one year old - Mira started drinking cow's milk and absolutely loves it.

You can see she loved it so much she commandeered Cora's cup as well and was double fisting her milk a good portion of Sunday evening. Most of me is very happy the transition was so easy and I can now fully start the weening process. A small part of me was a little jealous of the sippy cup. Just a little.

ICYMI: I posted a few things I have been loving lately.

Meals from the week:

Monday: BLT lettuce wraps with Parmesan sweet potatoes and roasted (ok, burnt) green beans

Tuesday: Bourbon Chicken with corn on the cob and roasted broccoli

Wednesday: leftovers (spaghetti with zoodles; I am way late to the zoodle train, but dang they are good), but I did make this fantastic broccoli tuna salad for lunch

Thursday: spiced shrimp with yogurt with brown rice, roasted (not burnt, thankyouverymuch) green beans, and a cucumber tomato salad (this is one of my favorite meals of all time - the flavor is just out of this world. BUT - full disclosure - neither one of the girls touched the shrimp, which didn't hurt my feelings one bit. More for me.)

Friday: nachos - literally the best Friday night meal I can think of - customizable, easy, uses up leftovers/random things in the fridge, etc.

Saturday: pizza - we tried a cauliflower pizza crust recipe that was delicious!

Sunday: sloppy joe's sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli, and my fave kale salad using this recipe for the dressing

Some snack prep: these egg "wraps", paleo blender muffins, and bruschetta lentils.

Have a fantastic week! <3

Friday, August 10, 2018

Things I have Been Loving Lately

Hello there and Happy Friday!

We are in recovery mode over here. Just when Mira started acting normally again from swallowing a piece of confetti, she developed hand-foot-mouth and has nicely shared it with her sisters.

A weekend at home with nothing to do is just what the doctor ordered. I should be back soon with a recap of our week, but until then here are a few things I have been loving:

My main goal for the rest of 2018 is to make every single salad on Mark Bittman's list of 101 simple salads. My mouth watered more and more with each number.

- Anastasia Brow Wiz. I know zero things about cosmetics, but this pencil helps me. Or at least I think it does...

- Jen Hatmaker's Podcast, For the Love. She is just so loveable. I listened to The Modern Mrs. Darcy's episode, and now my library hold list is completely out of control. My "to-read" stack is at least 9 deep at all times. Also, I am continuing to absolutely adore The Best of Both Worlds podcast.

- Girl, Wash Your Face. After recommendations from no less that 20 people, and waiting a few months on a library hold, I finally read Rachel Hollis's new book. Talk about motivating! I am writing down all the things, working on the art of embracing chaos, and doing a little better each day at completely releasing that mom guilt.

I also just finished An American Marriage (pretty good) and started reading Because of Winn-Dixie with the girls (absolutely love, love, love so far).

- Chicken Biryani with Cucumber Raita: biryani is one of Dan's favorite Indian dishes and this recipe did not disappoint. The kids and adults both loved the burst of flavor in this recipe - give it a try.

- Ina starts kindergartenTuesday. School supplies are purchased, along with a new pair of crocs (rose gold!) and a cold shoulder dress, because apparently these are required on the first day of school.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

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