Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Finally Feel Like a Functioning Human Again!

Now that Joseph is finally sleeping at night, I feel like a new person. It's as if I came out of a 7-month-long fog, and can finally start living life again. (There were days, sometimes weeks during the past few months when I felt as if I were merely existing. Going through the motions of the day, but so exhausted that I wasn't really experiencing it fully.)

Now that i'm caught up on sleep and no longer feel like a zombie, I'm excited to focus on being a good wife, mother, and homemaker again. I'm looking forward to planning fun activities for us as a family to do on the weekends like berry picking (we already picked strawberries!), farmers market visits, local festivals and concerts, and trips to the beach.

During the week I'm making it my goal to plan fun, stimulating activities for the kids on most days, but also leaving some days for lazy summer fun. (Scheduled things will include the Children's museum, the playground, the zoo, playdates, etc.) Storytime at our local library started up again this week, so we will be there every Wednesday morning.

I also want to get back to my cleaning routine. When you live in a small apartment, it doesn't take much for the entire place to look like it was hit by a toy tornado. I'm eager to reorganize everything, create a weekly cleaning schedule for myself, and stay on top of daily chores. (Dishes, laundry, toy pick-up, etc.)

While it's great to be excited about finally taking control of my life again, I also know that I need to, you know, do it. So to start, i'm going to get up at 6am during the week. Instead of lying in bed waiting for the kids to wake up, i'm going to get up and get my day started. Even if I only manage a cup of coffee before the rest of the house wakes, i'll be more alert and ready to dive in to our plans. And if it happens to be a day when everyone sleeps late, I can get things done around the house.

Once waking up early becomes habit, I will work on creating my cleaning, activity, and meal plan schedules using google calendar. I also want to make a loose daily routine that I can post on our wall. It won't be something that I have to stick to, but it will be a guideline. It will serve to prevent that awful "it's 10am and the kids are still in their jammies so now we'll never get the day started" feeling I frequently got when I was running on 2 hours of sleep a night.

I know myself, and doing all these things will make me a happier, more organized and more productive wife and mommy. And who doesn't want that? (I know my dear husband prefers that to zombie woman...)

I can't wait to get back on a routine, and spend the summer fully attuned to my life.

YAY for sleep! :)

Strawberry picking was a success!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Project 10 Week 3

I can't believe that a week has gone by and it's time for another Project 10 post. Wow, time flies.

Unfortunately I have not had a good week again. I go days without even remembering that i'm supposed to be focusing on getting healthy and fit. However, even without thinking about it I've done some positive things. Things like:

-Drinking water. We've had some really hot days, so I've been drinking more water than usual, which takes care of that goal.

-Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. There are so many delicious things in season which means a lot of sales on fresh produce. We have a great local market that I go to at least once a week to stock up, and I let Stephanie help pick out the fruit for the week. (As for fresh veggies, she really only likes cucumbers and grape tomatoes. I bought a big bag of carrot sticks, and I have her eat one a day. I'm hoping she'll eventually develop a taste for them.)

-Walking. Every day that it hasn't rained I've gone out for a walk with the kids, which gives me energy. And pushing the double stroller is definitely a work-out.

Things I haven't been doing so well with:

-Eating less junk. There has been a lot of pizza, ice-cream, brownies and cupcakes this week.

-Snacking less. I still can't seem to curb the urge to snack in the afternoon and in the evening.

-Snacking healthier. I have bought fresh fruit and veggies, but I just don't seem to go to them when I want to snack.

-Keeping my food journal. I seemed to have completely lost the motivation to do this, but I think that's ok. The week that I did keep the journal helped make me more aware and conscious of the food I'm putting in my body. (It hasn't yet altered any of my food choices, but at least I'm acknowledging that I'm shoveling in junk food as i'm doing it...)

Based on these things, I've decided to try something different this week. Instead of setting specific goals, i'm going to give myself rewards for the things that I do right.

As a broad, project-wide reward, I've decided that I am not allowed to buy any new clothes for myself until I've dropped the 10 pounds that I've pledged to lose. I LOVE to shop, so this will hopefully be a big motivator for me. Once I reach my goal weight, I will treat myself to a new outfit.

For a short term reward this week, i'm using wine as a motivator. I love to relax with a glass at the end of the night, when the house is quiet. So, if I stick to my snacking "rules" during the day, I can reward myself with that small glass of wine. (The rules being, if I choose to snack, I make myself one wholesome, healthy snack, and that's it. No going back to the kitchen 5 more times for something else to eat.) If I have gone overboard on the snacks, or chosen things that are clearly unhealthy (like a giant brownie. Or a donut.) then I don't get to have wine that night. 

I'll start with this, and see how it goes. I'm also going to continue making sure I have at least one serving of fruit and vegetables with every meal. Lately we've been devouring raspberries and blueberries for breakfast, red grapes and carrot sticks at lunch, and frozen veggies at dinner. I'm going to stock up on all of those tomorrow at the store, along with cucumber, avocados, bananas and watermelon.

Here's to a healthy week for all of us! Next week, along with reporting my progress, I'd like to create a lunch menu for myself. I'd love to hear some of your ideas for healthy lunches so that I can use them to help create my menu!

And as usual, if you'd like to link-up with Project 10 you can do so below, and check out some of the other amazing women who are on this journey with me. Thanks to Stephanie at Stephanie's Mommy Brain for putting this project together!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Story Land Adventure!

Our trip to Story Land in New Hampshire last week was our very first vacation as a family of four. (We have traveled to visit family, but since that is typically for an occasion, we don't really consider it a vacation.) We weren't sure how the kids would do, so we decided to keep it short, only staying 2 nights. The whole trip turned out to be a huge success, and we can't wait to take more trips like it with our little family!

The drive up took us about 5 hours, including a 30 minute stop for lunch. (I brought bread, peanut butter, fruit, snacks and water bottles so we wouldn't have to buy food on the road.) Stephanie chatted with us, sang songs, and looked out the window for most of the trip. When she started to get antsy we pulled out the bag of fun that I had prepared ahead of time. (It contained books, Crayola Color Wonder coloring books,  and some leap frog electronic toys.) This kept her entertained until we reached Story Land. (Joseph slept for most of the ride.)

Our Lunch Break
One of the best parts about Story Land is that if you arrive and purchase tickets within the last 3 hours of the day, you can use the same tickets for a full-day pass any other day of the season. So for the price of 1 ticket, we got almost a day and a half of park time.

When you enter Story Land, you're entering a story book world. There are plenty of rides, but you can also visit Cinderella's Castle, Mother Goose's house, the home of the 3 little bears, and much more.

Entering a Story Book World
Both children were in awe of the park, and had a blast that first afternoon. All of the rides are child-friendly, and some are even infant-friendly. Stephanie got to visit with Cinderella at her castle, ride on the polar coaster and flying shoes, and play a giant piano. We took a family ride on a big swan boat, where we saw "butterfly island." 

Stephanie & I on the Polar Coaster

Dan & Stephanie riding on the Dutch Shoe ride

We made it through about half of the park before it closed for the day and we headed to our hotel to check-in. We stayed at the North Conway Grand Hotel which is loaded with family friendly amenities. There are life-size animals in the lobby (including this moose that Joseph befriended), an indoor pool, heated outdoor pool, kids pool (which wasn't open for the season yet while we were there) and a huge playground. It's situated right in an outlet center, which is great if you need to do some shopping while you're on vacation too.

We ate in the hotel restaurant, and then headed up to our room. Joseph fell asleep right away, and slept the entire night. Stephanie watched some Baby Einstein in the King size bed, and fell asleep when we turned off the TV. (I slept with her while poor Dan was banished to the couch.)

Here they are in front of the ride that Stephanie detested!
The next day we returned to Story Land for another day of fun. Stephanie continued to enjoy every ride except for the water ride that Dan took her on. As soon as she got hit in the face with water, she started screaming and continued to do so through-out the entire ride. She loved everything else though, even the Turtle Tilt-a-Whirl that made Dan feel sick. (Somehow I lucked out and didn't wind up on any of those drama-filled rides!)

We left before closing that day, since we felt we had seen and done everything that we wanted to. We stopped off at a scenic viewing station on our way back to the hotel, and took in the breathtaking views of the gorgeous White Mountains.

When we arrived at the hotel we made use of the pools. Both kids love the water and had so much fun swimming.

Once we showered off the chlorine we headed to one of the outlet restaurants for an Italian dinner. We capped off the night with a quick stop at the hotel playground. Both children slept just as well that night as they did the night before. I joked to Dan that we should just stay there forever, since they never sleep that well at home!

On our final morning we went to a local diner for breakfast, and hit the road to head home. We made a quick stop to visit some friends who live in New Hampshire whom we hadn't seen in almost 2 years. When we left them we got stuck in some traffic, but both kids did amazingly well. (It was only during the last hour of the trip that we had to resort to letting Stephanie watch TV on my phone because she was getting truly antsy.)

All in all, it was a fabulous trip, and we loved seeing how excited the kids were to experience their first vacation.

*I was not compensated in any way to write this review of Story Land or the North Conway Grand Hotel. However, I do highly recommend both of them if you're looking for a New England trip to take with young children.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Joseph's 8 Month Letter

Dear Joseph,

                                                      Happy 8 Month Birthday!

 Ok, so it was actually almost 2 weeks ago that you turned 8 months, but we've had a lot going on and I hope you'll forgive me for being late with your letter.

This month your personality has really shone through. You love to smile at everyone, but when you meet someone you've never met or don't see regularly you bury your head in my shoulder and peek out bashfully. You crawl all over our apartment on your tummy, which seems like so much more work than crawling on all fours!

I took you on your first trip to the sea-wall to see the ocean this month. You loved it! Now that you sit forward facing in the stroller you can see everything when we go on walks, and you get such a kick out of watching the world around you.

You still love to eat, and have just started on real table food. You have cheerios every morning, and have tried blueberries, strawberries, avocado and watermelon. You gobble up everything we give you, and demand more. I'm so glad to see you're turning into an awesome eater, just like your sister.

I think the most amazing news from this month is that you finally, finally FINALLY sleep! We put you to bed between 7 & 8 and you only wake up once, maybe twice during the night. All you need is a quick pacifier pop-in, and you're right back to sleep. I can't thank you enough for this gift. I feel like a functioning member of society again, and the cloud of sleeplessness that has hung over our house for 7 months has finally disappeared. 

You love your big sister so much, and follow her wherever she goes. You also love to try and hold her hand or touch her arm while the two of you are riding together in the double stroller. (She, on the other hand, is not so thrilled with this, and has a habit of letting you know her displeasure. Loudly.) I love watching the interaction between the two of you, even if it isn't always a pleasant experience. The two of you are siblings, and that little bit of fighting is peppered in with the love that you two have with each other. Stephanie gives you hugs and kisses and will you toys or your pacifier when you're upset. Watching the two of you together makes me so happy.

Thank you for another wonderful month of being your mommy. Time is going so fast, and every day you grow and learn at a rapid pace. I get such joy out of spending my days with you, and your hugs and cuddles make everything better at the end of a long, hard day. I love you so much little one.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Project 10: Week 2 & why I haven't blogged yet this week...

I didn't eat healthy or work out or participate in my Project 10 goals at all this week. At. All.

It was a really horrible, devastating and heart-breaking week. My best friend since High School lost her baby girl on Saturday. (Just two weeks ago I wrote a post on advice for her as a new mom.) The baby was born  5 weeks early, and she only lived for a few hours. I'm not in a place where I can write about it in depth yet, but my heart and mind have been on them and nothing but them since I heard the news.

On top of that, we took a short family vacation to Story Land in New Hampshire on Monday morning and returned today. (Let me tell you, the decision to stay with our plans for the trip was not an easy one, but in the end I think it was the best choice. There was nothing I could do for my friend during those days, and it helped keep my mind on other things.)

All of those circumstances combined have made me completely fried. But I realize that during times like these, it's even more important to keep up with a healthy lifestyle. I still need to eat well and nourish my body because I can't be of help to anyone if I don't take care of myself. So with that, I'm planning a re-do of last week's goals, and hope to make this upcoming week a healthy one!

Please send good thoughts, well-wishes and prayers to my friend A, her husband H, and their beautiful little angel baby.

If you want to link up with Project 10, you can do so below. We'd love to have you join us! Thanks again to Stephanie for putting this together for us.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday's Top 5 Laughs

Happy Saturday! I'm linking up with Melissa from the  Mommyhood Chronicles again this week for Saturday's Top 5 Laughs. Enjoy my weekly dose of amusement. :)

1. Stephanie was eating a sprinkled donut in the car, and she said "uh-oh. Mommy, we need a tain-ticket."
    Me: A train ticket?
    Stephanie: No. A tain ticket
    Me: Plane ticket?
    S: NO! Tain ticket
    M: Train ticket?
    M: (Lightbulb goes off) ooooooh, did you make a mess? Do we need to stain stick it?
    S: Yes mommy. Tain ticket.

2. We out to dinner for my mom's birthday on Thursday. Stephanie wanted a cupcake so my mom, Stephanie and my niece ordered a giant one to split. When it arrived, my mom put Stephanie's piece down in front of her. She looked at it for a minute, and then proceeded to eat it like a dog, just leaning over and eating it with no hands.

3. One night at bedtime this week Stephanie and Dan sat in front of our sliding glass door saying goodnight to all the things outside. (Goodnight to the trees, the sky, the moon, the flowers, the grass, etc.) All of a sudden I heard her say "goodnight Daddy's pot." I looked up and realized she was saying goodnight to his grill, which is this little Webster that she assumes is a pot to cook in, since that's what Daddy uses to make hotdogs and hamburgers outside. I couldn't help but laugh. It is so funny to think of the world the way a two year old does.
4. Dan decided it was time to see if Joseph likes lemons as much as his sister does. (She will eat entire lemon slices without making any kind of face. She loves them.) Joseph's reaction was slightly poor baby.

5. I went out with a great group of women last night to see Motherhood the Musical. It was a fantastic show that had me laughing out loud. (And also crying at a few parts.) I can't recommend it highly enough. If you're a mom or a mom-to-be you have to go see this show! (A special shout-out to the ladies from Rhody Mamas who organized a group of us to go together.)

*I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! If you want to laugh some more, come on over to Melissa's site and check out the other bloggers who have linked up this weekend. 

*And don't forget to enter my BabyGanics giveaway for your chance to win a free bottle of sunscreen! It ends Monday morning.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Project 10: Week 1

Well, I've just completed my first week of Project 10. During the course of the week, as I've read everyone else's posts, I've started to think about what my true goal is for this project. Yes I want to lose 10lbs, yes I want to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, and yes I'd like to feel comfortable and confident in a bathing suit. But it's also a lot more than that.

As I mentioned last week, I want to lead a healthy lifestyle. I want to nourish my body with whole, natural foods that aren't overly processed and filled with artificial sweeteners and preservatives. I want to feel good, have energy, and be a positive healthy role-model for my children. I don't want to diet, deprive myself, or eliminate entire food groups. I also don't want to give up eating pizza and ice-cream. However, I don't want to over-indulge and make myself feel gross and bloated when I do treat myself to these favorite foods. I know there is a way to eat healthy most of the time while also including treats in moderation, and I am determined to get to that point.

To make this lifestyle a reality, I felt like I needed to asses my eating habits. I stuck to my goal of keeping a food diary each day this week, and I was a little surprised with what I saw. I had sort of tricked myself into thinking I eat pretty healthy. But when I sat down and analyzed my diary I saw that I don't eat as many fruits and vegetables as I think I do, and I eat a LOT of processed snacks. I also snack way too much. My afternoon snacks tend to be more like second lunches than true snacks. I also thought I drank a lot of water every day, but I realized that most days I clock in at 4 glasses, which is nowhere near my goal of 8 glasses a day.

I used these assessments to create my goals for this week.

Eating Goals:
1. Have a serving of fruit or vegetable (preferably both) with every meal.
2. Prepare myself a snack, sit down and eat it. This snack will be the only thing I eat between lunch and dinner. (Or after dinner when I tend to have my second snack.) This will be a big improvement over my current habit of grabbing something from the cupboard, eating it while picking up around the house, and then going back into the kitchen 3 more times to grab something else. (Typically pretzels, string cheese, goldfish, etc.)
*I think the food diary is helping me curb my tendency to over-eat. It's not working 100% but I think that if I keep it up it will continue to help. I'm also going to keep plugging away at my goal of 8 glasses of water per day.

Fitness Goals:
1. Take the kids outside for a walk every day unless the weather is awful. (Of course it's pouring rain here today, but I plan to take a trip to BJs, and pushing the huge "beep beep" cart through the entire store is actually a pretty good workout.)
*I completed the ab-workout that I posted about last week 5 out of the 7 days this past week. I'm going to keep doing it daily since it only takes 15 minutes and is something that shows results quickly!

I think that if I continue to create small, weekly goals for myself I will be on my way to leading the healthy lifestyle that I desire. I hope that each goal I set will become a habit by the end of the week, and when these 10 weeks are complete, I look forward to feeling healthier, fitter, and more energetic. (And having less muffin top...)

Feel free to share any healthy snack suggestions that you might have! I'm on the hunt for ideas.

If you want to lose 10 pounds and get healthy, come and link up over at Stephanie's Mommy Brain! And be sure to check out the blogs of the other amazing women who are on this journey with me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

BabyGanics Sunscreen Review & Giveaway!

It seems that the warm, sunny days of summer are finally upon us. For those of us with young children, this time of year means a lot of fun in the sun, with trips to the beach, the playground, the pool, and plenty of other outside activites. All of this fun also means it's the season of something else: sunscreen. Any parent or caregiver who has had to apply sunscreen to a wiggly, crying, hyper, eager-to-get-outside child knows what an ordeal it can be.

Many children's sunscreens are thick, goopy, and difficult to blend. There are aerosol sprays which can make application easier, but they're bad for both children's lungs and the environment. It's also extremely challenging these days to find sunscreen that isn't loaded with chemicals.

Ever since Stephanie was an infant in summer 2010 I've been on the search for a paraben-free sunscreen that didn't leave her skin completely white. I finally discovered BabyGanics CoverUp Baby sunscreen lotion. I loved it, and used it almost every day for her first two summers. The only problem with the lotion was that it was a tad thick, and although it was easy to blend, it took a few extra minutes to squeeze it out and spread it on her skin.

Then I was lucky enough to discover that BabyGanics came out with a new product this year. The BabyGanices Cover-Up Baby Face and Body Sunscreen Spray is amazing. It's a moisturizing sunscreen with an SPF 50 that's fragrance-free and comes in a convenient, non-aerosol spray bottle which makes application so much easier. It's mineral based, and water resistant up to 80 minutes. I especially love that it's free of parabens, phthlates, sulfates, nono-particles, and retinyl plamitate. (All that icky stuff that's found in many other sunscreens for children.)

This stuff just glides onto my little ones skin and has no awful scent or sticky residue that gets left behind. It has cut the time it takes me to get the kids ready to play outside in half. The best part? My kids have never had a sunburn, so not only is this product safe and natural, but it works! I love it, and recommend it for all moms. After all, little ones have super delicate skin, and it's important to keep it safe and protected during the hot summer months!

You can find BabyGanices Cover-Up Baby Face and Body Sunscreen Spray at BabiesRUs, Bed Bath and Beyond, Buy-Buy Baby, and If you're looking for an easy to apply, safe and natural sunscreen then BabyGanics Cover-Up Baby Face and Body Sunscreen Spray is the perfect choice.

I'm also delighted to say that one of my lucky readers can win a bottle of this amazing sunscreen! Enter the rafflecopter below, and in one week I will choose a winner. It's great for parents, caregivers, and grandparents too. (Keep it on hand for those summer visits from the grandkids!)

*I was provided product for this review. All opinions are my own.

*Some of you are new to rafflecopter. You can enter up to 10 times, just sign in with your email or facebook and click the enter buttons to do each of the tasks (you can do as little as 1 entry, which will give you one chance to win. But the more entries you do, the greater your chance to win!)

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday's Top 5 Laughs

Linking up with Melissa of The Mommyhood Chronicles again today! Enjoy my top five laughs from the past week. :)

1. Stephanie is a pro at going potty, she's been trained for over 3 months now and has never had a problem. She doesn't even use her potty seat topper anymore, preferring to go on the big toilet. However, the other day after she went, I started to flush while she was still sitting. She jumped up with a panicked shriek and exclaimed "NO Mommy! Don't flush me!" I tried not to laugh, since she was so distraught, but I found it highly amusing. I kept it together though, and assured her that she is way to big to go down the toilet, but that if it makes her feel better I won't flush until she's safely standing on the floor. (Better yet, I make her flush most of the time now.)

2. One morning a few days ago, Stephanie was up way too early for me so I told her it wasn't time to be up, and she needed to go back to bed. She looked up at with wide eyes and said "But Mommy, I awake now!" So I gave her pile of books and told her to read quietly in bed, which she did. The next morning she knocked on the bedroom door at a much more reasonable time, so when I opened it I greeted her with a big smile and an offering of milk. She looked at me for a minute and said "No Mom. It's too early. I going to read." She grabbed herself some books, hopped back in bed, and proceeded to stay there for another half an hour.

3. Joseph is officially on the move now, but he doesn't crawl on all fours, preferring to scoot on his belly. It's so funny to watch him pull himself forward, using only his arm muscles.

4. A few times lately my order at Dunkin hasn't been right, so I've gotten in the habit of checking it before we pull out of the parking lot. The other day I paid, pulled forward, and stopped to check. Stephanie asked what I was doing and I said "I'm making sure they put caramel swirl in my coffee." She paused for a moment, and then said in a shocked voice "Oh eating caramel squirrels???" I practically spit my coffee all over the car as I broke out laughing, and assured my daughter that I was most certainly NOT eating squirrels.

5. I adore everything about Joseph's stage of infancy right now. He makes me laugh all day long, just by doing the simple baby things he does. Examples:
 1. Eating any paper he can get his hands on (I call him my little goat, because he sits there chomping away contentedly whenever he happens to find a piece.)
2. Playing with wires. He will crawl (scoot?) all over our apartment just to try and find a computer or cell phone charger wire that someone has forgotten to put away. He then sits up proudly and shakes the wire with a big grin on his face.
3. Emptying the toy baskets. He particularly enjoys doing this right after I've cleaned everything up.
4. Grabbing my legs when I walk by him. He will lunge at me, and wrap my legs in his arms, giggling as he hugs me.
5. Eating. He LOVES chunks of real people food and will giggle hysterically while eating it because he's so thrilled.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe, and fun-filled weekend! xoxo

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Introducing Project 10!

I am so thrilled to be joining a group of amazing bloggers for a new challenge to lose 10lbs in 10 weeks! Most of us are moms, and we've developed this challenge as a way to get healthier, lose weight, and most of all support one another. My friend Stephanie over at Stephanie's Mommy Brain came up with the idea, and I jumped on it!

Being part of a group of women that all share the same frustrations with weight loss, time constraints and stress is a great way to feel less alone. Doing this together will enable us to share our stories, exchange tips and recipes, get together for work-outs, and provide moral support.

As most of you know, I've been trying all year to lose weight. I did great in January, dropping 10lbs of my remaining Joseph pregnancy weight. Right now I hover between being at my pre-Joseph weight and being 2-3 lbs over. I tend to have really motivated days and days where I just don't seem to care. I know that being accountable on here and to this group of women will help me stick with it!

My real goal is to turn healthy living into a lifestyle, not a diet. To do that, I've decided that each week I will set two eating related goals and one exercise related goal. I will give myself a week to make each goal a habit, and then add more the following week.

Weekly Goals:

1. Keep a food & drink diary
     I hear that this is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from over-eating. Knowing that I will have to write every morsel down will hopefully curb my mid-day snacking binge!
2. Drink 8 glasses of water
    Water is the key to weight loss and being healthy. Often thirst is confused for hunger, and drinking a glass can stave off cravings and prevent over-eating. The food diary will be a great way to ensure that I'm getting enough water.
3. Ab work
     I have a nice ab work routine that I found in a magazine. I've done it off and on since January, and my goal this week is to do it every single day. It's 10 minutes of stretching and moves involving a 5lb weight, and when I did it every day in January I noticed a big difference in my muscle tone. If you're interested in doing the same routine, you can find the article here.

If you would like to lose 10 pounds with us, or just want to get healthy, we'd love for you to link up over at Stephanie's page! We can all use the support that comes with doing this together.

If you have time, check out the other Project 10 participants. I love all these women, and they all have fabulous blogs!

Stephanie's Mommy BrainSweet Lil' YouLearning to JuggleMy Wrinkle in TimeSoxy's Diamond, Mama Loves BooksThe New Modern MommaBlush MamasFilling Our Bucket and Project 10's Fitness Advisor Running and Cupcakes

*Yesterday I posted a recipe for Garden Vegetable Soup. As part of my get-healthy quest, I'm on the search for healthy dinners. Check it out, and feel free to share any recipes you might have!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tasty Tuesday! Garden Vegetable Soup

Tomorrow I will be revealing a new project that I'm collaborating on with some awesome bloggers! Today's post is sort of a teaser for it.

I've been focused on buying a lot of fresh produce and making healthier meals for my family. I have searched the internet high and low for recipes that meet my rather nit-picky requirements, which are:

1. Easy
2. Quick
3. "Normal" ingredients (things I can find at our local market)
4. Something that all of us will (hopefully) enjoy

One of the things I have been determined to find a good recipe for is vegetable soup. I took to Pinterest and pinned tons of different versions. I randomly picked one last week, and it turned out great! (My husband said it will take him awhile to get used to soup that's not from a can. Meaning soup that isn't so overloaded with salt that you can't taste anything else.)

Garden Vegetable Soup
(Makes 6 servings)
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
1/4 cup onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fat-free beef, chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup green cabbage, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup zucchini, diced

Spray a large saucepan with nonstick cooking spray, and heat.

Place carrot, onion and garlic in saucepan. Sauté vegetables over low heat for 5 minutes, until softened.

Add broth, cabbage, spinach, tomato paste, basil, oregano and salt. Bring saucepan to a boil.

Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in zucchini, and cook 3-4 minutes.

I'm not supposed to use cooking spray on my stainless steel pot, so I coated it with Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead. We don't like cabbage, so I left that out. I also added 1 cup of cooked pasta. That wound up being too much, so next time I'll cut it down to 1/2 or 3/4cup. To compensate for adding pasta, I increased the broth to 4 cups. (I used organic 99% fat free chicken broth.)

We had a fresh French Baguette along with the soup. I thought it came out great, and highly recommend it!

*I found the recipe on pinterest, but it originates from Dr. Oz's weight watchers website

I'm linking up with Candice at The New Modern Momma today! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My Advice for a Mom-to-Be

Today was the baby shower for my best friend since High School. She and her husband are "Auntie" and "Uncle" to my two little munchkins, and I am beyond thrilled that they will be welcoming their own little bundle of joy very soon!

During the shower we were discussing the fact that pregnant women seem to be public property. Complete strangers feel as if they have the right to touch your belly and offer up unsolicited advice. It can get annoying very quickly, as any pregnant woman knows.

As I reflected back on that conversation, I realized that too often new moms are also considered public property. So many other moms decide they need to share their horror stories, awful experiences, and bits of "helpful" advice. This so-called advice is often contradictory and confusing, and can make a new mom want to break down in tears. Between that and the magazine articles and parenting books that all espouse opposite practices and philosophies, you can be left feeling at a complete loss with no idea how to handle the brand new miracle that you have been blessed with.  

So, my dear friend A, as you embark on this new chapter of your life, I offer to you this list of friendly, sort of un-advice. I hope it will be helpful for those times when you hear people tell you their way is the only right way, or look at you in horror because you let your child sit in the shopping cart without a cover. 

-If you want to hold your baby, hold her. If you want her to learn to be put down, put her down.

-If you want to rock her to sleep, rock her. Want her to put herself to sleep? Put her down awake or sleep train.

-Want to nurse (or bottle feed) on demand? Do it. If you prefer a schedule, set a schedule.

-You want to co-sleep? Just do it safely. Prefer her to sleep in her own bed? That's fine too!

-If you think something is wrong and you're not sure whether to call the Dr, just call. It will make you feel better, and all pediatricians are used to those 3am phone calls from new moms. 

-Trust yourself. You have already known your baby for almost 9 months. You are a mom, and your instincts are strong.

-You don't want your child dependent on a pacifier? Don't use it. Your baby has been crying endlessly and you decide you can't take it anymore? Go out and buy some, and use them as long as you want to. 

-Seek advice from people who can truly help. Your mom, your close mom friends, and your pediatrician. If the advice is contradictory, trust that you know what's best!

-Know that total strangers will love to tell you things. Sometimes the only way to handle it is to smile, walk away quickly, while all the while thinking  "Sure lady, my baby should be wearing socks even though it's 101 degrees outside. I'm sure her feet are freezing. Thanks."

-Find a group of mom friends that you are comfortable with. They don't all have to share the same philosophies as you, but they should accept you and the choices you make for your baby. Having people going through the same stage of baby-hood as you will be a life-saver. (And an online support system is great too because you can usually always find someone awake with you at 2am. It helps you feel less alone!) 

-And lastly, know that i'm always here for you, to listen, to share my personal experiences, and to be a shoulder to lean on. You're going to be an awesome mom, and I can't wait for you to meet your new little baby!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

It's Beach Season!

The truth is, the beach scares me. A huge body of water plus little kids spells unspeakable disaster in my book. I also hate sand. I think its dirty and irritating and I can't stand when it's all over my house.

But we live 10 minutes from some of the most gorgeous beaches around, and many of my fondest childhood memories took place at those very beaches. Plus my little water girl ADORES the ocean. So I've accepted the fact that I can't deprive my little ones of beach experiences.

However. The thought of all the prep that goes into a beach trip gives me a headache. The food, the towels, the blanket, the toys, the sunscreen, the sun-hats & cover-ups. It just seems endless. So we haven't even attempted to go yet, and had no plans to go in the foreseeable future.

But as it turns out, the best beach trips are of the totally unplanned, unprepared for, impromptu variety. 

Yesterday we had a play-date scheduled, and while I was on my way, my friend texted to say that we should go to the beach. She lives less than 2 minutes from a quiet, wave-less beach. Since she has two little ones like me, I figured that if she was up to it, so was I.

Of course we had no bathing suits or towels or food. But my amazing friend C. packed lunches for us all, and had a bag full of sand toys in her trunk. She brought a blanket for the babies to lie on while the toddlers frolicked in ankle deep water and dug in the sand. Joseph was mesmerized by the sand, and scrunched his tiny baby toes in as deep as he could. He sifted it between his fingers, but never really tried to eat it. Stephanie was thrilled that she was able to play in the water, and even convinced me to wade a little too. 

We only stayed an hour, but I left feeling like "Hey, this wasn't so bad. I can do this." I need to stop over-thinking everything, and go with the flow more. Summer is all about sand, fun, sun and the beach. And thanks to the suggestion from C, I was able to soak up our first beach trip of the season (Joseph's first time ever!) and leave knowing that there will be many more trips like it in our future. 

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