Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Gift Guide, The Big Kids

We are officially done with our Christmas shopping. Hallelujah!! I also have everything wrapped, save for a couple things that are being delivered at the end of this week.Christmas music is on repeat, all of my favorite holiday movies have been watched at least once, and it is snowing like crazy outside today. It's safe to say, the Christmas spirit is at an all time high around our house right now.

As much as I always try to be on top of gift giving, wrapping, sending Christmas cards, it doesn't always happen that way. Case in point, I should be addressing our Christmas cards that have been sitting on the piano for 2 weeks. Instead I am writing this post. Usually I am scrambling last minute to get things ordered before the 20th and then I wind up wrapping the last of the gifts on Christmas Eve. I always love looking at gift guides to see what other people are getting their kids, and what fun gift I didn't know about but should have picked up. Today I'm going to share a few of the things that will be waiting for Harrison and Brooke under the tree.




All of these items are still available and if you order them now, will be received before Christmas. The Fairy and Wizard wands, which were number one on both kids' lists, have a big mark down on Amazon. I actually re bought them while writing this post and will be taking the ones I bought at Target back. The mark down is that good. 

Are you done shopping, or still trying to piece together a few last minute items to finish off shopping lists?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Breakfast With Santa

We're still here! We survived November, had a great Thanksgiving spent at my parents new house on the lake with most of my siblings, and are soaking in all things Christmas. The warmer than usual temperatures we've been having a great, but I could really go for some snow right about now to add some extra holiday cheer.

Over the weekend I took the kids to one of our favorite annual events, Breakfast with Santa. The YMCA puts it on each year, and it's always a blast. Reindeer, bounce houses, crafts, really good coffee. The highlight of the morning was doing the chicken dance and the Casper slide with the littles, Brooke, and my mom. They love to shake it!






The kids got their first chance of the season to sit down with Santa, and no one cried. So, winning! (Although I do love a good screaming kid on Santa's lap picture.) Once the kids warmed up to the big guy, H and B told him what their #1 must have item is on their wish list. Then they wrote him a letter to make sure he doesn't forget. Thankfully their lists haven't changed, so we already have the desired item tucked away in the back of my closet. Santa is on it this year!


We started our nightly advent books and scripture readings on Friday evening. The first night involved tears before we got started, tears when we tried reading a book, and a general IDGAF attitude by the two littlest people regarding the whole ordeal. Saturday night went much better, and so have the nights since.Once the babies realized there were books and treats involved, they were all in.


We got a chance to go look at downtown lights with Rob's parents a couple weekends ago, the large tree lighting at the outdoor mall was a couple weeks before that, and we've been driving by a few our our favorite houses with great light displays. It's been wonderful to reintroduce Scarlett and Clark to so many of our favorite traditions. Brooke and Harrison are as excited as we are to show the babies all of the Christmastime fun. Clark especially is enthralled with all of it. He's obsessed with lights, he calls them "ligh, lighs," so something as simple as an evening Target run turns into holiday heaven for him. We have a few more things to check off our holiday bucket list, and I can't wait to experience it through their eyes.

What are you favorite traditions with your family?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

Each holiday with these kiddos is more and more fun that the last. We carved pumpkins over the weekend with Rob's parents. Harrison and Brooke had very definite ideas of how they wanted their pumpkins carved. Brooke still refused to touch the pumpkin guts, but Harrison got in there and pulled out the seeds this year.



As soon as Harrison and Brooke got home from school on Halloween, they wanted to get their costumes on and go. I forced them to eat some food before we got ready, then they were off riding bikes in their costumes waiting for 5:30 to roll around. Rob got home just as I was finishing getting the babies layered up and ready to go. We made it out the door on time, and after a few pictures we were off.


This was Scarlett and Clark's first time trick or treating and they were totally into it. It took Clark a couple houses until he was comfortable stepping onto strangers porches, but once he realized there was candy involved, he was all about it. We brought the wagon along, but it was easier to carry them. After a couple streets we put them in the wagon with some popcorn, and they were pretty content for a while. Harrison and Brooke were happy to be moving along faster without having to wait for the babies.



Clark decided he was ready to go up on more porches at about the same time Scarlett decided she was completely over being out in the cold. We let Clark finish the street we were on, the longest cul-de-sac in our neighborhood, and then the babies and I headed home and Rob did the last 30 minutes with Brooke and Harry.


We left a huge bucket of candy on our porch along with some bubbles. We knew we were out of candy after about an hour and the last bottle of bubbles disappeared right as the babies and I were rolling up the driveway. Perfect timing to turn off our lights. Also, note to self, buy more candy next year.

I made hot chocolate for the kids while we waited for Harrison and Brooke to get back. They rang the doorbell right as I was putting marshmallows in their cups. We listened to Halloween music, drank hot cocoa, and dug into 4 buckets full of candy before sending everyone to bed once their sugar highs wore off. I was so beat after all the fun we had, I planted myself on the couch and didn't move until I went to bed.

Today we cleaned up, took down the Halloween decor, and sent the kids to bed early because they were definitely all tired from yesterday's excitement. Our mantel is all ready for Thanksgiving and there's a 99.9% chance I'm getting the Christmas tree down from the attic this weekend. I'm looking forward to all the excitement the next two months bring.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

If You Give A Baby A Peanut Part 2

When Scarlett was diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy last year we started counting the days until her retest in a year. We were hopeful that she would be one of the kids that outgrows their allergies. Her allergist explained to us that less than 15% of kids outgrow their allergies, but we were hopeful. We read labels and tried to make sure she didn't come in contact with nuts of any form. There were a couple times where she accidentally ate something she shouldn't have either by our fault of not properly reading a label, or more recently when she started being able to grab things off the counter. We would immediately give her a Benadryl dose, and we thankfully never had to use her EpiPen Jr.

At the beginning of October she had her annual appointment and her doctor talked to us about the component testing they now have available for peanuts. How great would it be if her test results came back that she was only allergic to the part of a peanut that don't cause anaphylaxis? I took her over to the hospital for the blood draw, and she was a champ! She barely cried at all and was so good about holding still. They needed a lot of blood.

It was 2 weeks until we got the results back, but her test came back negative for all nut allergies. Say what?!?!?!?! Yep, she outgrew all of her allergies! We celebrated with peanut butter toast. She goes back in in December for a skin test to confirm a complete lack of allergy, but we were given the ok to let her have nuts is moderate doses. Bring on the Reese's cups and Chick-Fil-A!!



I know every mom who has a child with allergies worries about what they'll do when their kids are out of their supervision, at a friends house or at school. You can't expect everyone to be as cautious as you are about your child's allergy. You hope they will be, but if they aren't in the habit of avoiding allergens, it doesn't always come easy. What about that kid who offers your kid a Butterfinger but doesn't realize it has peanut butter in it? It is such a relief to not have to worry about these things as she gets older. 

She gets to go trick or treating this year without us having to worry about what treats she's getting in her pumpkin. We will still be putting out a teal pumpkin and allergy friendly treats this year, because even though we don't have to worry about her allergies anymore, there are so many other kids who still do. I'm thankful for our experience because it has made us more aware of what other families of children with food allergies go through.

You can read more about the Teal Pumpkin Project here.

When You Give A Baby A Peanut Part 1

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Weekend For The Big Kids

Harrison and Brooke didn't have school on Friday, so we got to enjoy a 3 day weekend. Well, 5 out of 6 of us did. Sorry, Rob. 

Friday morning I woke up well before the kids and ran out to grab some Halloween donuts to start off our weekend right. The night before I decided the kids and I were going to hit up our favorite u-pick pumpkin patch. It's a 40 minute drive from our house, but I love it so much we still go to this specific patch even though there are at least 20 u-pick patches closer to us. Within 2 minutes of getting there Clark fell and busted his lip and I then had blood all over my shirt. We should have given up then, but we kept at it and wound up with 5 great carving pumpkins, 4 kids who were over it, and 1 mom who just wanted a picture of all her kids at the pumpkin patch. I'm sure you can figure out who won that battle. (hint - not me)




The 40 minute drive home resulted in car naps as opposed to real naps, but everyone stayed in a good mood for the rest of the day. Rob got some free tickets to go to a local haunted house, and we decided H and B would be good to go. This particular haunted house, The Haunted Castle, is put on by boy scouts. Sounds pretty tame right? That's how I remember it being. More Halloween fun house than haunted house. They've changed a lot since the last time I went 15 years ago, because it was definitely more haunted house and taking two 5 year olds was probably not the best idea. Brooke was ready to leave 30 seconds after we walked in the door, and I had to carry her the entire way through. I'm lucky I didn't pass out from her lack of oxygen due to her death grip around my neck. We made it all of the way through and rewarded their bravery the way any good parent does, with ice cream on the way home. ;) I thought for sure we'd wind up with them in our bed in the middle of the night, but that hasn't happened yet.

 

Saturday morning we were up and out the door early again, this time for Wild Zoo Halloween. I took all 4 kids by myself, which I'm painfully learning is not as easy as it once was. I think they all had fun which is really all that matters. It was perfect weather to spend the morning outside, but my 3 bears were hot in their bear costumes, so I would up with 2 normal kids, a puppy dog, and Goldilocks. Thanks to a pit stop for lunch on the way home, we made it without anyone falling asleep. Yay, saved nap time. An all 4 kids nap time on top of that!





We dropped off Jules at doggie daycare and then headed to the lake to spend the night at my parents. We went out for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant on the lake. The kids ate their weight in chips, salsa, and queso while we watched the sun set over the lake. 

For the first time in about 8 months, Scareltt woke up in the middle of the night and would go back to sleep. Around 3:15 am I woke up to her yelling "mom" in her pack and play. I tried laying her back down and tucking her in, bring her into bed with Rob and I, putting on her sleep sack in case she was cold. I eventually had to rock with her in a my mom's recliner for about 45 minutes until she was asleep enough for me to put her back to bed. As soon as I laid back down, Brooke was up to go to the bathroom. Then Harrison was awake and talking. Then he was out of bed and downstairs in bed with my mom. At 6:30 I finally said eff it and stayed up, which wouldn't be a big deal except we were road tripping with the big kids, so there would be no nap time.

Harrison and Brooke have been talking about Cedar Point for months, and they are finally 48" tall, big enough to do some big rides, so we decided to take them before CP closes up for the season. We watched a whole lot of roller coaster POV videos on YouTube before we left hoping it would get them excited about the big rides. They were excited by scared.

We started out on the racing carousel, then went with a mild roller coaster. Everyone was still good then. Harrison would stop talking about the Millennium Force, so we went and got in line. In the 20 minutes we were in line, both kids decided they didn't want to go. I tried bribery, and it worked on one of them. Harrison was ready to ride it, but Brooke refused. I thought Harrison was going to die during the ride. It was so much more than he was ready for. When it was done he said he liked it, but it was scary, and he laughed and cried a little. There was a guy in front of us who told Harrison how awesome it was that he rode it and that he did a great job. I think that helped with Harrison's emotional state after the ride. We told him how proud we were of him for being brave, and he insisted he didn't want to ride again.



I got Brooke to ride the "big swing," Skyhawk, with me. I almost feel bad for encouraging them to ride big rides, but not really. I want them to grow up loving roller coasters as much as I did. Riding Skyhawk did not create a love for thrill rides in our little girl. After the excitement of a couple big rides the kids were ready for something more their speed, bring on Camp Snoopy. They were so happy running around there doing the kid rides. 





Brooke didn't go on any more roller coasters for the rest of the day, but she rode every ride we saw. Harrison asked to do the Millennium Force again with his dad, so they did. I managed to walk onto one of my favorite rides, Wicked Twister, while the kids were waiting in line with Rob. We ended the day with a few games, and Brooke won a ginormous pink emoji. Just what we need in our house.



The day was magical. If I could do it over and over again I would. My parents took us almost every year when we were kids, and they are some of my favorite memories. Running around the park with my brothers and sisters and then meeting up with my parents for a picnic lunch.We would ride from the time the park opened until it closed, sometimes riding every coaster in the park. We are all already looking forward to going again next year. Do you think they'll grow another 4-6 inches before next summer so we can take them on even more rides that will scare the heck out of them? 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Our Weekend

Can we go back and have a weekend do over? I felt the last of summer slip away from us this weekend, and I'm not ready. I love fall, but I kind of want to live in this in between seasons phase forever. Warm sunny days where you can still run around barefoot, and cool nights that change the colors of the leaves. 

Somehow our house has become the place for the neighborhood kids to hang out. Harrison and Brooke have 3 close friends that are at our house at least a couple nights a week, so it's pretty common for it to be me and 7 kids chilling on a Tuesday night. Friday night we had 3 additional kids who joined our evening hang, so there were 10 kids running in and out of our house. If I had any alcohol I probably would have drank it. 

I kicked everyone out when it was time to get the babies ready for bed, and then breathed a huge sigh of relief. Having 4 older school aged boys hanging around is crazy. They want to jump off the deck, climb the fence, slam dunk on the babies' plastic basketball hoop. They're crazy, and I'm not ready for my kids to be that kind of crazy yet. I know it's coming, I can already see it in Harrison, but can we keep playing house and Legos for the next 5 years?

Once the babies were asleep, Harrison, Brooke, and I got to work painting their pumpkins they picked out during their field trip to the pumpkin patch. We watched Mickey's House of Villains while waiting for the paint to dry and finally called it a night close to 10:30. I think I may have been asleep before they were.

Saturday morning we woke up, bushed our teeth, packed swimsuits and a change of clothes and headed to the lake. One of the local churches was putting on a fall festival, so we headed up to check it out. Before we headed to the festival we took a boat ride while still rocking pajamas. Once at the festival we played carnival games, bounced in the bounce houses, checked out a fire engine and a police car, ate hot dogs and cookies, and bounced some more. Do everyone's kids love bounce houses as much as mine? Yes? Clark just ran around falling down and giggling. It was hysterical to watch him. We had a meltdown over suckers and some screaming due to the number of bees following us around, but overall it was a good time.










Naps followed the festival, and then the big kids wanted to go tubing. It was cloudy, windy, and only 71 degrees. They are so my kids, because I would have wanted to do the same thing when I was younger. We enjoyed the last boat ride of the year while H and B tubed behind the boat, and before we knew it, it was time to eat dinner and head home. I put all the kids back in their jams, and we took off. All 4 fell asleep on the drive home, it's about an hour, and I successfully transferred all of them to their beds without more than a squeak or grunt. Mom win!

Sunday morning was rainy, windy, and brought a nasty migraine along with the weather. Before my headache became unbearable, we made it to our cousin's first birthday party. The party fell right during nap time, but the babies managed to stay in good moods. Pizza, cake, and ice cream will do that to you. 


The birthday girl

Unfortunately my headache was a full on migraine by the time we made it home, so I spent the remainder of the day laying down in bed or on the couch. Mr. Dad of the year took over most of the dinner and bedtime duties so I could lay down and not toss my cookies. My migraine lingered all day yesterday and this morning, but has mostly passed on.

This morning we turned the heat on and it was cold enough that I made the babies watch for the bus from the window instead of walking down to the bus stop. They were not happy about that. Fall has finally arrived, and as sad as I am to see the last of summer go, I can't complain about sweater weather.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Whole30 - Here We Go Again

I have been reading about Whole30 for the past couple years and have found it very intriguing. If you don't know what it is, it's a 30 day clean eating program where you eat only whole foods for 30 days. I had either been cycling, pregnant, or nursing for the last 2.5 years so it wasn't something I ever felt I could do. When I realized I would have just over a month between stopping nursing Scarlett and Clark and when I would start cycling for our FET, I decided that would be the perfect time to give Whole30 a go. I managed to convince Rob to do it with me, although I don't think he really knew what he was getting into.

We got back from our west coast vacation on Tuesday, and started our Whole30 the Sunday of that week. I planned our first week of meals and thought we were prepared, but we really weren't. We did fine, but I really should have done some more research into Whole30 compliant products before we started. EVERYTHING has added sugar, soy, or color. Salad dressing, mustard, frozen potatoes, bacon. So many things I hadn't thought about ahead of time.


We finished our 30 days and I swore I'd never do it again. Toward the end I found myself becoming obsessive about what I couldn't eat. We went to Bravas the week we finished and I got a burger that was lights out. I remember thinking this was the best thing I've ever tasted. I was so happy not to be depriving myself of food I loved. I LOVE food. I really love food. Rob on the other hand loved it. He loved the strictness of it and how it kept him from having "just one" slice of pizza that then turned into 4 slices of pizza. He would have liked to have kept going after the 30 days were up, but I was very adamant about not cooking Whole30 compliant meals anymore.

As I may have mentioned a time or two, I love food, and am totally guilty of emotional eating. The two weeks following the miscarriage were filled with lots of ordering pizza, eating out, and over indulging in Phish Food. I didn't feel like cooking, or doing much else, so I didn't. Now that we're getting back to normal life I'm heavy, bloated, my skin is a mess, and I'm feeling just plain blah from weeks of terrible eating habits. Another round of Whole30 is just what I need to get my body back on track after the crazy month its been through. So here we are 2 months later and starting another round of Whole30. So much for that "I'm never doing it again."


We're going into this round with much more planning which I think will be key to a more enjoyable 30 days. I have a calendar made up for the month outlining our dinners. We have Whole30 compliant products already stocking our pantry, fridge, and freezer. I also think that doing this in the fall when the kids are in school and our days are more structured will help make it easier.


As we jump into round 2, I thought I would share some of our favorite products that helped us get through round 1.

  • Tessame Salad Dressings - Their ranch and balsamic viniagrette are delicious and compliant.
  • Coconut Secret Aminos - Necessary for stir fries and other Asian dishes (They also have a teryiaki style sauce we're excited to try this go round
  • Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk - The full fat version is so thick and creamy. Perfect for smoothies, scrambled eggs, or with compliant granola.
  • RX Bars - My 5 am pre workout staple. Also great to have in your purse for when hunger strikes.
  • Pederson's Bacon - This ish is hard to find because it's always sold out. We buy it at Fresh Thyme, when they have it.
  • Pacific Vegetable Broth - The only compliant broth I found that's ready available at major grocery stores. I use it in place of meat broths while cooking Whole30.
  • La Croix -  We drink this all the time anyways, but it's especially a great little carbonated almost sweet pick me up while doing Whole30. Simple Truth and Simply Balanced brands have some great flavors too.
I will make sure to share some of our favorite recipes each week, and I plan to share my guacamole recipe because I don;t think we would have made it through our last Whole30 without it. Have you done Whole30 before? Any products we're missing out on or must try recipes? I'd love to hear from others who have done this before.