Monday, January 22, 2018

Whole 30 (sort of)

3 weeks in, and 2018 has been an absolute blur thus far. We're prepping to sell our house and are doing about 15 different projects at once trying to make this place look like a million bucks (or 200 grand. Same difference.) Our house is pretty much a disaster zone, and I'm spending every naptime and post-bedtime painting and spackling and hanging curtain rods and emailing landscapers on top of trying to keep up with normal chores.

We've had school delays for single digit temperatures, 8 inches of snow and 3 more days out of school, the stomach bug making its way through our entire household, doctors appointments and med changes, date night (and the boys got to go to parents night out), two Side by Side kickoffs for the new semester, birthday parties and call nights and meetings and playdates, quick trips to the gym and to babysit. I've been selling everything we don't plan to move on Facebook BST (and made over $200 so far!), and making phone calls to arrange Samuel's birthday and look into getting a storage unit and order checks, trying to keep our budget somewhere near practical, researching housing and schools in Asheville adn planning our trip there in March, spending time with friends, and trying to take time to be still, read, and meditate on the Word.

It's kind of amazing I'm not more exhausted.

On top of all that, we decided January would be a good time to try to eat clean/do a makeshift Whole 30. We didn't actually do Whole 30, nor did we intend to, but we did want to try to "reset" our super junked-out bodies post-holidays, and I think it was a great idea. We spent the better part of the month thus far (until we got the stomach bug) gluten free and sugar free, and I was also dairy-free. We tried to only eat whole foods, eat grains sparingly, and only use natural sweeteners if any (Eric has gotten pretty into hot tea with honey). We've eaten tons of protein and vegetables and fruits and healthy fats. Our tortillas got traded out for sweet potatoes and queso for guac. Coconut milk and sugar have become staples, and I think they will be sticking around. We've slowly been adding back in gluten and dairy and a little more sugar (though I think I'm going to be sticking to dairy free as much as possible fro here on out), but are still trying to be more cognizant of what's in our food, and focusing on eating unprocessed meals as much as possible.

At some point I will post some of my favorite recipes from this little experiment - maybe. Clearly I don't have the best track record of keeping up with my blog. But I did want to write down a few benefits, and, errrr, side effects for future reference, because I feel like we will do another week or two of this at some point when we need to "Reset" again.

1. My skin got SO CLEAR. I usually have acne - often cystic acne - that looms around my chin and neck, sometimes all over my face. Now, this could be coincidence because I did work out less during this time period, and therefore sweat less. It was extremely cold and my skin was drier. And I did start using a new face soap. But I literally did not have a single pimple for 2 weeks! And when I added back in gluten and some sugar - not even a ton! - I had a pimple two days later.

2. I slept so well! I was just telling Eric about some crazy dreams I had last night, but I had a good week to week and a half when I slept all night without waking or really even dreaming.

3. I lost 5 or 6 pounds. Now I was not trying to do this at all, but between eating well and the stomach bug (and starting off super bloated and up 2-3 pounds from normal due to eating poorly all Christmas vacation), I've seen a lower number on the scale than I have in a while. I"m pretty sure eating regular food will probably put me right back to my norm though.

4. I went to the bathroom. A lot. This was both good (see above - pretty sure it contributed to weight loss) and bad, as it was annoying to have to go multiple times a day. I guess that's what a cleanse is supposed to do, though, right?

5. I quit craving sugar. It took a while, but I really did get to the point where I quit craving crummy food and did (and still do) just want roasted veggies and bananas and larabars. Eric said he felt like his sandwiches and pizza didn't taste nearly as good to him after he reintroduced them either. However, that leads me to

6. I dreamed about food. A lot. I dreamed about burgers where I was supposed to eat them bun-less, but sneaked in a little bit of bread. I dreamed about pizza. I dreamed about Christmas mint m&ms. Keep in mind my dreams were few and far between too because of that awesome sleep. So this was literally the only dreaming I did. It was kind of intense, but also hilarious.

7. I had an angry day. Maybe it's just coincidence, but one of the categories on the Whole 30 Timeline is the "Kill all the things" period, and I feel like that was totally true about 5 days in for me. Everything made me so mad! Luckily it only lasted a day or so.

8. I had energy! To do all the aforementioned stuff. Well, except the stomach bug. That didn't require any energy. And working out was definitely harder for the first couple of weeks. Runners need carbs. But overall, I felt like my energy was much more stable throughout the day than when I load up on sugar and crash over and over.

There's probably more, but I need to get to sleep. I'm really glad we did this little experiment, and hope we'll continue eating healthy as we move forward in 2018. I'm really looking forward to pizza this weekend though. :-)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Brownies!

I've finally gotten a brownie recipe together that rivals the Ghiradelli ones. It's still a work in progress as it's a mix of two recipes, but this is what I've got:

1/2 - 2/3 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar/brown sugar mix
vanilla
2-3 eggs
2/3 - 1 c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa
1 tsp salt
chocolate chips

Bake at 325 until the edges are cooked but the middle is still a little gooey. :-)

Self-Reminders

I tend to grumble and complain to myself a lot. My life is overall very very easy compared to most people, and I know that, but man, some days things are HARD and Satan uses envy to get me. It's become much more apparent to me over the last few months. It's just SO easy for me to look at other people and their lives and feel bitter that things haven't gone that way for me.

This was especially evident to me last night when we went to look at Christmas lights with the intention of stopping to see Santa halfway through. I brought cute clothes for the boys and geared myself up for the craziness that would be maintaining them in line and then letting them have hot chocolate and candy canes, ensuring a loud and wild final 30 minutes of lights-viewing. But Samuel was being argumentative and disobedient and Levi was screaming at the top of his lungs because he thought it was fun, and Eric wisely pointed out that there was no way seeing Santa was going to go well. So we skipped it. That may not seem like a big thing, but I was not happy. I agreed with the decision, but I felt so upset that other people have easy kids that behave. They enjoy parenting all the time and Christmas is magical and fun and all sweet pictures and caroling and sipping cocoa in their jammies. Obviously I know this isn't the reality for a lot of other parents too, but it was what I had concocted in my mind, and I was disappointed that it wasn't going to happen for us. I felt robbed.

But then I remembered that I have nothing to be robbed of. I don't truly own anything, and I don't deserve anything, except punishment and wrath. I'm not owed a perfect set of kids and a husband that dotes on me constantly, a picture perfect house and car and life. Frankly, I deserve the exact opposite. It's only because of Jesus that I have anything at all.

I get my panties all in a wad all the time because other women seem beautiful and poised and have husbands that work from home and kids that excel at everything and they are able to do things like write and teach yoga and travel. And I have to stop and think - why in the world am I valuing these things at all? The only things that are of lasting value are things that can't be seen.

So this is my self-reminder. I have far more than I could ever ask for, and more than I really can currently comprehend. My life doesn't need to be perfect, and honestly, I'm kind of glad it's not. My only responsibility is to do the very best with what God's given me now, to honor and point to Him. Anything else is just a sham. I choose to combat envy with gratefulness. Thank God for grace. :-)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

I'm back + Levi, 20 months

After a busy and hard few months, I finally got myself a little treat and invested in a laptop (albeit, a very very cheap Black Friday laptop. But it works). Our current computer situation isn't conducive to me doing much of anything, including blogging, our budget and bills, checking my junk email more than once a week, making Shutterfly gifts, etc. etc. It's located upstairs, directly outside of Samuel's room, and I basically can only get up there if
a) all my children are gone or asleep and
b) Eric is not up there and wants to hang out downstairs by himself and
c) I don't have 5000 other things I need to get done distracting me downstairs.
This does not happen very often.

Anyway, I have lots of catching up to do.

To start with, I'll try to give a brief snapshot of my sweet Levi who just turned 20 months old on Thanksgiving. I'm not entirely sure how this is possible, as I'm quite certain I just gave birth to him last week.

Levi is about as cute and sweet as they come. He definitely has some toddler 'tude going on too, but man, he can cheese at you and melt your heart in a second.

He loves to wave and smile at everyone (whether they are looking at him or not).

He's still absolutely addicted to his pacifiers, sometimes employing two or three at once. Some days I make him leave them in the crib, but he's legit teething right now, so I feel bad and let him have them most of the time (plus I'm just dealing with a lot kid-wise right now, so sometimes my threshold is pretty low for what warrants attention and what doesn't. If a pacifier is going to stop a tantrum or keep him from chewing on something he shouldn't, I'm all for it).

He is obsessed with books, balls and "vroom vrooms".

He is a man of few words, but getting there slowly.

If you leave a pen anywhere, and I mean ANYWHERE within his grasp or even slightly out of it, he WILL find a way to get to that pen and write all over the nearest piece of paper (or sometimes blanket or couch or floor).

He is quiet, so you never know if he's just playing nicely or into something. I affectionately refer to him as my "smooth criminal" because he likes to take things and hide them. Quietly.

My absolute FAVORITE thing that Levi does right now - if I'm sitting on the couch or in the recliner, he will turn around, look at me with the biggest smile on his face, and run, arms wide open, wanting to sit and cuddle. It's seriously the best.

He likes to tell me when he needs a new diaper. He does not want his diaper actually changed. I'll ask him if he wants a new one, and he will shake his head no and run the other direction. He's always sure to tell me when he's done something though, even if it's just a little pee. I tried sitting him on the toilet one day. He was not a fan.

Levi is finally interested in tv a little. I might be the worst mom ever, but I'm pretty excited about that fact because it means he *can* be entertained when I'm cooking dinner or something for 5 minutes. He still follows me around 90% of the time and whines to be picked up while I'm cooking, but at least I occasionally get a break.

 We generally watch Daniel Tiger together once a day. His vocabulary is pretty limited, but he likes to point at the tv and say "Anno," which I've come to decipher as "Daniel."

Other things he says:
Mama, Dada, bear, ball, baby, bu-duh (brother), pap-pap (pappy), duh (for his paci. I don't know why), this, nana (banana), milk, more, bye bye, cheese, uh-oh, etc.
He totally understands everything we say/follows multiple step directions, so I'm not super worried about his speech. It will be interesting to hear what's going on in that little brain eventually, but for now I'm kind of good with just one kid talking my ear off constantly!

Favorite books (this week) include: Brown Bear, Corduroy, Olaf's Hug Book, Wow! I Know How!, From Head to Toe (in Spanish), Peppa's Windy Fall Day, That's Not My Truck and Mr. Brown Can Moo.

We're still working on our listening skills, but Levi overall has been the sweetest little helper. He loves to clean and will pick things up of his own accord or take wipes and start wiping the table and floor without being prompted. It's kind of hilarious to me that he and Samuel came from the gene pool in that sense! haha.

What else? As of his 18 month appointment, he was still giant - 34.5" and 27.5 lbs. He's pretty much in all 2T clothes now.
His iron was finally back to normal (wooo!!!!). No more iron supplements!!

He still loves to eat, though he's gotten a little pickier lately. I'm still trying to figure out what he does and doesn't like. Unfortunately we've gotten in the bad habit of eating a lot of bars - Clif Bars, LaraBars, Protein bars - for breakfast and snacks. It's not that they're so bad, it's just that they're expensive, and both the boys are eating those and not real food so much. So we've got some work to do. Eric and I are debating about trying some form of clean eating/Whole 30 in January - actually, I'm fairly certain we are going to do it and I'm working on a meal plan - but I'm not sure what that's going to look like for the kids. There are still a lot of kinks to work out.

A few more Levi things -

He loves to be outside! He often says "walk? Sto-wuh (Stroller)" and will go climb in the stroller and try to buckle himself.

Oh, and he can buckle basically anything. And still likes to figure out how EVERYTHING works. He will spend forever trying to get a lock to cooperate or get a coin in a coinslot on a play cash register then open the drawer to get it out.

He can also climb on almost anything, but is still generally very calculating and assesses the situation before trying something.

He really really really wants to plug and unplug things. That's been fun to deal with.

And he is the best sleeper! (generally. Since I wrote that he will probably be waking up tonight). He usually sleeps from 745/8-730/745, and takes a nap from 1230-3.

Oh and he is super cute with our little Bible storybook. He like to bring it to me and say "Bible!!" He also is great about folding his hands when it's time to pray, I'm pretty sure because he know that usually means there is food coming after. Haha.

Anyway, I'm pretty enamored with that little blonde headed brown eyed boy. I wish I could keep him this sweet and small forever, but I know they have to grow up sometime. For now I'm soaking up all the toddlerhood I can!!

June Part 1

I started this like 4 months ago, so I'll go ahead and post and finish up later. :-)

June was a busy but (mostly) fun month! Samuel finished up preschool and did two weeks of swim lessons. Levi gave up his morning nap (mostly). We had lots of playdates and gym time. Said goodbye to a lot of sweet friends. We went to/taught VBS. Eric finished up his first year of fellowship. We drove to Arkansas for the first time since 2010 or 11, then Eric and I got away for a (real!) vacation for 3 nights. That was glor.i.ous.

The biggest/only real struggle in June was trying out ADHD medicine with Samuel at the beginning of the month. I wasn't super comfortable with that to start with. It worked (by calming him down), but only for a short time and when it wore off, he was a hot mess. We switched to a longer acting version and it just made him an emotional mess the entire time. So, after 3-4 weeks of all that, I nixed the whole thing. Seeing him in his natural (crazy) element was much better for my momma heart. I'm not opposed to medicine if he really needs it, but we are trying some other interventions first. I want him to be able to succeed on his own as much as possible. More on that later, though.

Anyway, here are the June highlights!

First and last day of Preschool! So much bigger!

Cutie. 

Walking with friends. 

They paved our road. Best entertainment we've had all year!

End of year preschool play. Samuel loved taking things apart!


Samuel looooved Mrs. Amanda! Notice his cool tye-dye shirt that they made the last week of school.




Saturday, July 8, 2017

Levi, 15 months

I've been kind of awful about keeping up with this kid's milestones. So here's a snapshot of Levi right now.

Sleep: 8-7:30/8, mostly transitioned to one 2-3 hours nap in the afternoon, though sometimes he still sneaks in a morning one.

Eats: Everything! Mostly loves fruit, pasta and meat. Not a fan of goldfish or apple chips. Learned how to use a straw a few weeks ago. Drinks a combo of water, milk and frozen breast milk.

Words: Mama, more more (these sound deceptively similar), shhh, woof, kit-cat, da da, uh-oh, night night, this, yes, baa and grr (do animal noises count?). He'll also repeat stuff , as well as sign "please" and "All done." And he shakes his head no. Of course.

Likes: Loves to read, sit in laps, figure out how everything works, rip off a piece of toilet paper to put in the toilet, draw, climb on things, go down slides, and open and close doors. Oh man, does this kid love a good door! And a paci. He's all about the paci, sometimes putting 2-3 in his mouth at the same time. He's back to liking baths now too, thankfully! Oh, and dancing. His favorite is the "turn around in circles" move.

Dislikes: Cold water, being too hot, anyone eating when he's not, hearing me tell him "no." Welcome, toddlerhood. Overall, he's a really content little guy though, and is happy 95% of the time.

Skills/Play: Finally good going up and down stairs, though I still keep an eye on the down. Draws a lot with crayons and sidewalk chalk. I guess that's normal, but I never thought to let Samuel do any drawing at that age, so it feels really young to me! He's really good at walking, but keeps trying to run and having to catch himself. He's getting there, though! He can stack some blocks - notice how he's a total second child and I can't tell you exactly how many or anything, but it's 3+, so I'm pretty sure he's fine. Haha. He loves making cars and tracks go "vroom," flying his helicopter around, playing with his Little People, and attempting to do his puzzles (which usually results in just banging the puzzle pieces on the wood floor because it's more fun). He's starting to (maybe?) get attached to this little lamb stuffed animal we have, but right now he's way more into his paci than anything else.

Teeth: This kid cut 6 top teeth last month! He went from 2 bottom teeth (that popped out at 11 months) to 8! Two of which were molars. Its' crazy that I had no clue. He was a little more fussy and snotty than usual, but nothing crazy. I was in total shock when I peeked in there and some molars were peeking out! Maybe that explains his excessive diaper usage lately??? (Seriously, kiddo #2s 3-5 times a day lately!)
Oh, we also started brushing his teeth (sometimes... when we remember...). He likes that a lot too!


I'll have to add weight and height stats next week after his 15 months check up. Vacation schedules have every one messed up.

Suffice it to say that we LOVE our not-so-little Levi, and are so proud of our sweet 15 month old!!


May.

Oh, May. 

May was a tough one. Good, but tough. We had a lot of fun times. A lot of sweet times. A lot of struggle too. 

I think I posted I started weaning Levi back in April. I went super slow because I knew how bad my post partum anxiety had hit when I started weaning Samuel. I had no desire to relive that again. Somewhere around the first week of May, though, it began. I'm really thankful that I knew what was going on this time, so that "wired" feeling didn't make me feel quite as worried and anxious, but it did give me insomnia. Awful, awful insomnia for a week. At that point, I decided it was time to cut it off completely. I dropped a feeding every few days and was done the day before he hit 14 months. 

Thankfully, the insomnia/wired-ness only lasted that week or so. The rest of the time I fared pretty well. It was a little sad; but I feel like 14 months is a good amount of time. Plus he had started walking and was cutting some more teeth. He became a toddler in that month, and it was time to let his baby-hood go. Man, I enjoyed his baby year. 

Could I have nursed him longer? Definitely. He would have probably nursed for another year if I let him. I think it was the right choice, though, and I was glad to not be tied to nursing/pumping any time we left the house.

The other trying part of May came in the form of Samuel's ADHD diagnosis. Not a surprise, really. It's something I -we've - suspected for a while, though, to be honest, I realize now I didn't know all *that* much about it. I say that now, a month and a half later, when all I've done for the last month is read up on it. It's common enough, a struggle many are familiar with, and most days I'm able to laugh about it, about the fact that I pretty much could have called it in utero (and as a toddler. See here). He's always been a force to be reckoned with. 

But, especially that last week or two of May, when we were going through meetings and evaluations and I had just weaned Levi at the same time and was completely emotional anyway - it was hard. It's hard to hear and feel like your kid isn't quite "normal." It's hard to hear someone refer to you as a "special needs parent" for the first time. It's hard to hear about the uphill battles he's going to face in a lot of areas of life in the next few years. It's hard when everyone points out all the negatives and very few people point out how sweet and loving, fun and adventurous he is. There were a lot of tears that last week of May. And I'm sure there will be more to come throughout my parenting career, but for now, I've made it to the "acceptance" phase. I think. 

Anyway, enough about all that. There were lots of fun times in May too, a lot to celebrate and so many joyful little moments that the Lord allowed us to have even in trying times. So how about we look at some of those?

There was a "family fun day" at the gym and Samuel spent so much time in the bounce house that he didn't get to have his face painted like a giraffe. Enter, super non-artistic mommy. I should add that he tried Body Combat with me, and that was super fun!

Oh yeah, they have dress up clothes at the gym too.

I could totally do without their wrestling, but it makes them so happy (until it doesn't)!

Good grief, I just can't handle how cute he is sometimes!

Oh yeah, Levi does stuff like this now.



"shhh." It almost makes up for the squealing he's been doing.


Baby shower for a sweet friend at Polo Park. Levi got on the teeter totter for the first time (with 10 other kids). Total exuberance. 


Samuel and his "dinosaur" friends.





Chick Fil A one Saturday.



Samuel loves to write. He drew me a flower ("fawr") one morning before he got me out of bed.


Samuel had his cavity filled. I was so so impressed both with him and with our dentist. He's been telling me ever since that he wants to get another cavity because they made it so much fun for him! How about not, little man?




Samuel photography.



One of our local parks opened an awesome splash pad! It wasn't too crowded in May because word wasn't out yet. It has been PACKED ever since.



Samuel selfies.




OH man, I almost forgot about this. Starbucks did frappuccino happy hour in May. Pretty sure I gained like 5 pounds from that.



Mother's Day Tea at Samuel's preschool.



Levi's first "real" trip to Sci Works.


Mother's Day dinner at Village Tavern.


And flowers from my boys.

Levi's first "artwork."

I loved walking home with Samuel from school just about every day in May. The weather was perfect and he always had lots to tell!


Walks around Miller Park.



This boy love love LOVES all animals, but especially dogs. "Woof Woof!" Is one of his favorite phrases. We walk with Jib and her dogs a lot. Levi just can't get enough!


Struck by a smooth criminal.


I mean, seriously, could he get any cuter/happier??

Goofball.


Splashpad date with the Kauffmans. Levi + Anna. SO cute.


Samuel helped me make sloppy joes. 

Eric seriously took this picture at Samuel's spring program. Oh my. 


Slide + his favorite book.

This picture makes me laugh every time. This kid.


Greek Festival.


Fresh Fest at the Children's Home Farm.



Corn box. I had to drag Samuel away. Levi was not enthused. 








OH, and I have to brag. I took these two to a baby shower during their normal "rest" time, and I have to admit that I was totally expecting the worst. They were AMAZING. They played quietly and were polite and gentle. Seriously, they knocked my socks off!



And then, post-baby shower, my car blew a tire. And after a nice man stopped to put on my spare, we moseyed over to Wal-Mart and spent an hour or two hanging out, watching Madagascar, and getting a little shopping done. Oh, and Samuel got a Gatorade, which I'm pretty sure was the most thrilling part of his day.



Pre-church photo-op. Terrible lighting, because Samuel insisted we take it there. Whatever.


Poor Eric. Over loved.

If there's a place to sit, this kid will find it.

I almost forgot about this! Samuel went through a month or so where he wanted to build "roads" with everything, but mainly books. He would set up these intricate designs and run his cars all over them. Cool, but OMG they took up so much space! I'm so glad that's over (for now anyway!)



OH man, is there anyone cuter??

Levi's first "real" trip to the Children's Museum.







Playing at Ardmore Methodist's playground.

My boys love to play with sidewalk chalk! We spent a lot of afternoons out front.

Our little plants sprouted a few peas. Samuel liked to pick and eat them in the mornings. 


Playing at Tobaccoville Park.

Proof that his room can be somewhat clean!

One morning (Memorial day?) we walked over to Samuel's school playground since Eric was post-call and needed to sleep. I let them wear whatever. Levi stayed in his pjs (okay, that was my choice), and Samuel chose the outfit above. It was like 80 degrees, too!



Proof that I can still hang upside down. Photo cred: Samuel J.



We had a little play date at 10 Little Monkeys. Samuel and Avery played together the ENTIRE time. So cute! (Pictured below).




Anyway, that about wraps up May. It was tough, but God is good, as always, and I'm so thankful of the sweet reminders of His presence He gave me throughout those weeks!