Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Everett's First Birthday Party

Our sweet Everett turned one last week, and the day before his birthday we had a few friends over to celebrate.

 

We did a loosely themed Sesame Street party. Although somewhere in the process, Harris Teeter lost the memo on a blue cake to match Cookie Monster.


What can I say though? It's a free cake. Harris Teeter gives babies a free "smash size" cake for their first birthday with your rewards card when you sign them up. Which is awesome!

Regarding my struggle on peanut allergy friendly cakes, I didn't end up having to make one, yay! Giant (another grocery store chain around here) sells Peanut Free Cupcakes, woo hoo! So Everett enjoyed one of the mini ones, and as you can see, he really loved it.

video

Everett's gift was much bigger than we normally do for birthdays, but it was really something for both the boys, a play kitchen. And so far, it's been a hit! Austin had been pretending to cook for us for awhile with random items, so it was perfect, along with the play food family members gave as their gifts.

A Recent Afternoon in the Kitchen!

The party was short, but sweet, in the morning and lunch time to accommodate afternoon naps, but I'm not sure who had a better time, the birthday boy, or his older brother!

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Time

Well hello summer, why are you slipping by so quickly? The 4th of July holiday is over, and it's all a downhill slide from here. I actually started noticing it getting darker a bit earlier at night recently--crazy! I feel like it was just snowing. (P.S. Did you know we lose two minutes of daylight per day in August, so over an hour by the end of the month?! You'll notice it more now that you know this if you didn't before)

Summer has been wonderful so far. My gallbladder is out and surgery was successful and recovery went well.
Pre-Surgery Selfie
We've spent quite a bit of time at the pool. I love that we have community pools that are included in our HOA fees so we can go to one of the pools whenever we want and not feel bad if we're only there for a short period of time.


My husband is also in the middle of trying to redo our backyard. It's a process, let's just say that, and I'll show you the after pictures once it's a success, as he promises me it will be.

Everett is one year old next week so we've planned a little party at the house this weekend. I'm looking forward to having our friends over to celebrate E, but crazy that he's turning one! The year has both flown by, and it also seems like he's been a part of our lives forever.

I'm also a huge advocate of store bought birthday cakes both for sanity reasons and because I think they're delicious, but with his peanut allergy, looks like I'll need to make one myself (with a mix, I'm not a miracle worker here). I really want to try these Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes, as many of them are peanut and gluten free--our whole family is covered!

My current summer read is, "Dinner, A Love Story," and I have already pulled out recipes from the book, that's based on the blog linked above.

I just discovered this author, her blog and her quest to do a home cooked meal for her family nearly every night (while she and her husband both worked full-time with two kids 19 months apart, sound familiar?!) for the past ten years or so.


The month of August is a busy end to summer. The nice part about living in Virginia is, summer really doesn't end until September is over. The humidity and the high temperatures stick around for most of September and the awesome fall weather that still deems sunshine filled warm days, and crisper nights that require a light jacket, last well into November.

At least I'm hoping it sticks to that trend this year, I'm still recovering from last winter--I can't have the next one come too quickly!
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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The month of craziness

Well hello there, it's been awhile. I have to admit, the summer has started with a crazy bang. Why don't I just put things in categories to make life easier, okay?

Wedding in Minnesota
I spent the first weekend in June in the Twin Cities attending my good friend Cindy's wedding. I had a fantastic time with my friend Ashley who lives in Wisconsin who came as my date.

Ashley and I with the Golden Glove outside Target Field
We had a nice kidless weekend with a walk all over downtown on Saturday morning, delicious meals with my college roommates and former co-workers who I love, getting a much needed hair cut by my old stylist, and of course Cindy's wedding! There was a lot packed into the nearly exactly 48 hours I was in Minnesota (I could do a single post alone on all the pictures I have from the weekend).

With Jen M, the Beautiful Bride Cindy and Jen H
Cindy and I met about six years ago, and immediately clicked. She is a great friend, and has come out to visit us in D.C. a couple times since we moved here. Recently, Cindy also asked me to join her Jamberry Nails team as a Independent Consultant. After some heeing and hawing and I decided to join, and boy am I glad I did. Which leads me to my next item...

Jamberry Nails Independent Consultant
Since the end of April I've been selling Jamberry Nail Wraps as a part of Cindy's team. I've always loved the product, as referenced before, and was telling Cindy how I love doing my nails, but:
1. Never have time to wait for polish to dry and always smudge it
2. Hate that it chips so easily with how busy I am
3. Never have time or budget to go and get gel manicures that don't smudge


She convinced me that since I use Jamberry, maybe I should sell it to other people who probably feel the same way (and get a discount on the products I use). I also used to work in cooperate sales, and do miss using that skill set, so this is the perfect for me, and I love the time I spend on it. Ben keeps teasing me, "you said this was going to be a hobby and now you're in love with it!" =)

If you've never tried Jamberry, feel free to check out my site, let me know if you have any questions or if you want to host a party yourself and earn free items! I won't talk about it often here, but a link to my site will always be on the right side of screen.

Gallbladder Surgery

After having months of odd side and back pains, I got a diagnosis in May that I have a ton of gallstones (officially described as, "too numerous to count," by the ultrasound tech), and need to have my gallblader removed. I'm having it done later this month, and have to admit I'm a bit nervous, but also excited to get it out and start feeling 100% again (I feel like I have morning sickness again about 50-60% of the time right now).

I'm grateful that laparoscopic surgery allows for a minimally invasive approach to the procedure, and easier recovery time. I've never been intubated before, however, and I just have to not think about that aspect of things and go with it. I'm grateful my mom will be coming to help with the boys while I recover since I won't be able to lift over ten pounds for two weeks after the surgery is complete.

Everett Peanut Allergy:
About two weeks ago, Everett had a strong skin reaction to peanuts (picture below) after I made Thai Peanut Chicken in the crockpot. Side Note: Delicious recipe though, here's a link to it!

Everett's Reaction to Peanuts

After seeing a child allergist, it was very apparent he has a peanut allergy (but thankfully, no other foods right now).

Although his allergy doesn't appear severe right now, we have to treat it as if it is (as in, carry an epi pen and children's benedryl at all times) because of the way children's immune systems constantly change. They said we should know by age four how his allergy will be for life, and we'll do testing every six-nine months between then and now.

I feel so bad for him having to deal with this, and honestly did not take the news very well. I have adjusted to a better attitude now, but hold out hope he is one of the 20% of kids who out grown their allergies, or at the very least, his stays non-severe. Another allergy learning curve for our family!


The last month has also included a trip to Boston for work, continuous small projects around our house (yard work particularly), the air conditioning starting to crap out on my car and deciding how to deal with that and just life in general of course!

I hope all of your summers have started well with crazy, FUN, times! 

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Favorite New Gluten Free Product Finds

With the DC Gluten Free Expo approaching, it got me thinking about all of the new gluten free products that have popped up with the diet's popularity (which can be both a blessing, and a curse).

Although I try to eat foods that are naturally gluten free, since so many gluten free substitute items are filled with butter, sugar and other additives, there are some things, you have to find gluten free versions of, and here are some that I recently have been loving.

Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Snacks

Eighty Calories (two Weight Watchers points) and seriously sharp. These pack a flavor kick most little cheese snacks don't and are delicious. We go through a bag of these pretty quickly, as both Ben and I pack one in our lunch each day.
Freschetta Gluten Free Pizza


Finally!! The best gluten free frozen pizza EVERRRRRRRR. It beats pizza I've had at many restaurants. The price may make someone's eyes bulge ($9.99 at Target and Wegmans), but you would pay more at a restaurant, and now if we need a quick meal, everyone else can have their gluten filled pizza, while I make this gluten free one. They also offer a personal size pizza as well. I also bake it on a cookie sheet to avoid cross contamination. Austin has eaten this pizza too and loves it! Right now, it comes in two varieties: Cheese and Pepperoni.

Chex Gluten Free Granola 


Delicious, Delicious, Delicious. I love this stuff. Like most granolas, you have to limit your serving size, but sprinkling this in a little yogurt is absolutely wonderful, and then the bag goes a long way. I am always impressed with General Mill's gluten free offerings, including this one. Between the Chex cereals, oatmeals, and Nature Valley bars, I love a main stream company that has embraced gluten free. They make being celiac a little bit easier!


Stonyfield Organic Greek and Chia Yogurt


This yogurt is sooooo good! I've found it at Whole Foods and Target, and I love the Red Berries flavor (especially love it topped with a little GF Chex Granola noted above). It tastes great and fills you up, and I'm trying not to buy TOO much of it so I over eat it and get sick of it, but I've been eating it a lot lately!

Yasso Sea Salt Caramel Greek Yogurt Candy Bars


I've been looking for these since I saw the new variety of flavors on Yasso's website, and recently found them at Target. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint! Completely delicious, four Weight Watchers Points, and are an awesome treat. It's hard to not eat one every night!


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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Nine Months In vs. Nine Months Out: Baby Weight Loss Update

Today marks nine months since Everett came into our lives. Nine months old is always seen as significant in my eyes, because that's how long it takes for your baby to grow inside of you and your body to change in preparation for their birth, so how does your baby grow and your body adapt to "normal" life after their birth?

On Everett's side of things, he is growing beautifully. He loves table food, and is an eating machine.

He wants to crawl very badly, and babbles a lot.

 

He is still not the best sleeper, but a vast improvement from a few months ago before he had ear tubes (Long story short: he had constant fluid on his ears and was in pain while laying down, thus making sleep in his crib very difficult. Thank goodness for the Rock and Play Sleeper!!)

He has the sweetest laugh and we are so fortunate to have such a loving and strong little boy!

On my end, dare I say it, that I'm below my pre-baby weight?! I started out right at 150 pounds even when I got pregnant, I topped out at 198 pounds at delivery and now sit at around 146 pounds depending on the day. I felt so great this pregnancy, being more active and eating better, but still packed on nearly as much weight as last time.

34+ Weeks and Getting In a Workout

I am very happy with where my body stands today, but I am for sure still not perfect by any means. As I've said before, there are parts of my body that will never be the same. EVER. Stretch marks that no cream during or after pregnancy can fix, and the way things lay is just not the same as pre-children.

I give credit for helping me be healthy to a lot of food planning and Weight Watchers.

I try to pack my lunches for work on Sunday, so that I can have an easy grab and go during the week and no excuse to eat out. I also really don't have time to eat out while I'm in the office, so I need to pack a lunch out of that necessity as well.
Recent Lunch Packing, but no, this is not all I ate at work that day or I would be starving!
I also try to cook ahead when I can, browning meat and chopping veggies, or using a freezer meal I've made ahead of time.

I love being active, so that really helps. Although I constantly remind myself that you can't out run a bad diet, and that it's 80% food, 20% workouts.

I workout two days a week during my lunch break at work (kudos for office wellness programs that offer a free gym and free classes, it makes me love coming to the office). I also run two-three days a week. The workouts are the best endorphin high, and give me a chance to catch up with friends, so that makes them even more motivating to complete.

Recent Pre-Run Group Photo, Courtesy of Deb Runs
So there you have it, the bottom line is, I feel good, and that's all that matters. And when I say I "feel good," I mean as good as a person who is constantly a couple hours short on sleep for the week, a few home projects behind and trying my best to not always be 15 minutes late...but talk to me about all that in about 20 years! ;)


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Monday, April 27, 2015

April in a Nutshell

April has gone by in a flash so far, can it really nearly be over? I feel like this month was full of busy weeks, and packed weekends, and May is looking pretty similar as well.

We started the month by traveling to North Carolina for Easter to spend the holiday with Ben's sister's family. We had a great time, and the boys loved spending time with their cousins. Austin enjoyed his treats and snacks from the Easter bunny for weeks, and both boys enjoyed the toys they received.

Little Traveler
A and E were troopers on the car ride, including when we ran out of water to make Everett formula and he got pretty hungry while we were stuck in a huge traffic jam on the way back. I ended up climbing in the back seat and feeding him puffs one by one to satisfy him, and then grabbed a bottle of water from our friend Glen who had Cooper for the weekend when we stopped to pick him up on the way home. He was much happier once I started feeding him his bottle.

Ben and I also ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in D.C. I've ran the Ten Mile two years ago (recap here) and walked the 5K in 2012 while pregnant with Austin. This was the first year the peak bloom lined up with the race though, and man was it beautiful. Luckily my allergies were not completely in full bloom as well during the race (they held off to really kick my butt until a few days after race day, thankfully), so I could truly enjoy the views.


The the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, along with the Marine Corp Marathon and 10K, are continuously hailed as DC's best road racers, and I think this race in particular should be on every runner's must do list.

Awesome Finishers Medal

I ran it with the friends I trained with, while Ben ran it solo.

Posing with "President Wilson" mid-race with Khairul and Keri

Although Ben and I didn't run it together since our paces just don't mesh well, it was still a fun goal to both be working towards. It was great to be together both before and after the race as well, doing something just us and other adults, something that doesn't happen very often these days.

Post Race Smiles on the Metro
This month has also been filled with home improvement projects, major spring cleaning, baby birthday parties, a few delicious meals out (La Sandia and Firefly) and some killer bootcamp and spin workouts.

I've also picked this up from America's Test Kitchen:

 
I'm looking forward to diving further into gluten free baking with their guidance, as I've never really been very good at it.

I'm loving the longer days, the increased heat and sunshine and looking forward to a fun summer ahead. I'm making a list of summer goals, much like I did a few years ago, for things I want to do, and things we want to do as a family, and will publish that in the next few weeks. If you have any suggestions for things we must do this summer--let me know!

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Monday, March 30, 2015

What We Ate for Dinner, Week of March 23

I'm taking a page from one of my favorite bloggers, Carrots 'n Cake, and going to randomly do a post on what we ate for dinner the week before. I love when she does hers, because it gives me new dinner ideas, and is a fun way to look at how you're balancing out your diet for the week.

Monday: Skinny Taste Turkey Chili Taco Soup and Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbread
This recipe is easy, and delicious. The leftovers freeze well in individual containers for easy on the go lunches (as pictured below later in the week), its full of delicious flavor and keeps you full.
I am obsessed withe the Krusteaz Gluten Free Corn Bread. It's the best Gluten Free cornbread mix I've found (even better than my homemade gluten free cornbread, and obviously a lot faster), but it is SO hard to find in the DC area. I actually bought three boxes when I saw it in a store in Boise when we were there in January and brought them home. I'm down to my last box, please let a store around here start stocking it soon!!

 

Tuesday: Grilled Turkey and Cheese, Ore-Ida Waffle Fries and Alexia Frozen Corn with Sun Dried Tomato Mix
As I work on my baby weight (update coming soon!), I've realized I really need to control the carbs I eat for dinner (and not have dessert after dinner most nights, even something little, like a Skinny Cow) if I want to succeed in losing and/or maintaining. Therefore, I just had the cheese and turkey, with a little chipotle mayo and one serving fries along with the corn.
I am SO excited that Ore-Ida's Waffle fries are now gluten free. Many varieties of their fries are gluten free, and they clearly label which ones are, so it's easy to tell, and this was the first time I saw that the Waffle Fries were when I pulled them from the freezer at Target.
The corn was meh. I thought it looked fantastic when I saw it in the freezer at Harris Teeter, but it was just not a great mix. I usually love Alexia products, so too bad, so sad.


Wednesday: Cottage Cheese Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs
Wednesday was nuts. Between terrible traffic for me getting home, forgetting to do the crock pot meal I had planned in the morning, and a sick little one that Ben had to take to the doctor, then drive back and pick up Austin for daycare, I was ready to phone it in Wednesday night. I stayed strong though and found a dinner to make based on what we had in the house, cottage cheese pancakes and scrambled eggs. Despite them being higher protein pancakes, I limited myself on them, and had two scrambled eggs with avocado, feta and ketchup to boot as well. Scrambled eggs are one of Austin's favorite foods. Random since he is such a carb addict.


Thursday: Fend for Yourself
I went running Thursday night, so the boys made a box of Annie's Mac and Cheese while I was out, and I came home and had a fruit, spinach and whey protein smoothie, and a rice cake with peanut butter. No picture of this super exciting dinner.

Friday:  The Pioneer Woman Mac and Four Cheeses, Feta and Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breast and Spinach Salad
Ben's birthday dinner! I know that pasta and meat work as great fuel for me before a long run, and since I was planning to run nine miles Saturday morning, I was fine with having the extra carbs of this four cheese mac on Friday night. I lignten it up by using a mix of skim and 2% milk instead of heavy cream. It still doesn't make it healthy by any means, but its definitely not as heavy. I also made these easy chicken breasts with Hunts Diced Basil, Garlic and Oregano Tomato's and Feta. It's a copy of this Eat, Live, Run recipe, but an easier version.
I love spinach salads with Brianna's Raspberry Dressing, and Friday's had strawberries, feta, cashews and green onions mixed in as well.


We celebrated Ben's Birthday Friday night, even though it was the day before, and had a cake from Wegmans (the best grocery store everrrrrrrr). Ben had requested a white cake with buttercream frosting. His real favorite dessert is Key Lime Pie, but with me not being able to have any because of gluten, and knowing how much Austin loves cake, he went with cake.

 

Hope you enjoyed a typical week of eating dinner in our house; I would love to hear what you make for your dinners too!
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