Menu Monday

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Cook once, eat twice is the theme this week. We rarely eat leftovers and I'm not really sure why. Now that summer is here our days are busier than ever so cooking full meals each night is becoming hard. 
This week I'm cooking two meals and we are eating left overs. 

Black bean burgers and beef burgers. 
Sides are grilled corn, tator tots, Cesar salad with homemade dressing and steamed broccoli

Stir fry with chicken, peppers and onions.
Rice and tortillas

Ill post the recipes later. 

Weekend plans

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I'm still not feeling great. I'm sore and the stitches are really hurting. I was really hoping I'd be up and back to normal today but I think I'll be spending the day resting again. 
I'm putting together our weekly menu and making a grocery list. Evelyn just got back for swim lessons and Jack is napping. 
Looks like it is going to be a very low key weekend. It's hard just laying around. I'm bored and just want to play with the kids. Ugh. Hopefully I'm in less pain tomorrow. 

Nursing, almost a year update

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In just a few weeks my little man Jack is going to be turning 1.  So, I thought now would be a good time to review how breastfeeding has went for us.
I didn't end up nursing Evelyn.  I tried for a few days and was frustrated so instead of getting help I decided that pumping would be the easiest way to go.  Well, pumping proved to be a lot of work and after 8 weeks I ended up giving up and fully switched her to formula.  She did well with the bottle and formula.  She was a healthy baby and didn't have her first illness until she was a year old.  I was sad though because I wanted the experience of nursing and felt like I had given up too easy.
With Jack I wanted to be more prepared, more informed and knew I needed to reach out for more support in order to make it work.
Before he was born Mike and I took a class.  The class was full of great information and we both learned a lot.  Mike was so supportive and the class taught him how he could help.
In the beginning Jack latched right now and things seemed to be starting off smooth.  When we got home and my milk fully came in he started to struggle with latching.  Each time it would take longer and longer to get him on.  I was sore and my nipples were chapped and bleeding.  Which can be normal for most woman so I fought the pain and worked through it.  After a week or so with the latching issue getting worse we were both starting to get frustrated and I was considering giving up.  I would cry at almost every feeding.  He would be screaming and I would be crying and just wanting to comfort him but I couldn't get him to latch.
The turning point came early one morning.  It was around 5:00 am.  Mike was up and in the shower.  Evelyn was running circles in our room.  Jack was screaming and had been for 20 minutes because he couldn't get latched on.  I was at this point in hysterical tears holding a screaming Jack and rocking back in forth.  Mike got out of the shower, picked up Jack, picked up Evelyn and left the room.
When I calmed down he came back in, helped me get Jack latched on and we talked.  He said something so simple yet so amazing.  He said, it doesn't matter how we feed our children, what matters is how we raise him.  He was right.  I was fighting so hard for something that in the long run doesn't change who our child will become.  I mean Evelyn was formula fed and is an amazing little girl.  Jack would be fine however I fed him.
After taking some time to think, I decided that I would call the lactation consultant and get some help.  If it didn't work then I would pump and formula feed if I had to.
I met with the lactation consultant that afternoon and she quickly realized that Jack was having a hard time latching because my let down of milk was too strong for him.  He was chocking essentially.  I tried an unconventional hold where he was sitting up and nursing and it worked.  I never had a latch problem from that point forward.
Nursing has been a hard road though.  He became very attached and for a while struggled taking a bottle.  For months I could never leave him because he needed to eat and I was his sole provider of food.  He would go through his growth spurts and nurse on and off all night long.  I also dealt with clogged ducts, over supply, leaking and in general I had a lot of throbbing pain for the first 6 months.
Coming up to my goal of nursing for a year is bitter sweet.  I am so proud of myself and so happy that I stuck it out.  The bond I have with Jack is amazing.  He is my cuddle buddy for sure.  He is always snuggling with me.  I just love it.  I think that has a lot to do with breastfeeding.  I am able to provide a source of comfort for him.  I rarely have problems getting him down for naps or bedtime because with nursing he snuggles right up to me, nurses and falls asleep.
I planned on weaning at a year but, I am considering continuing for longer now.  My milk supply is pretty steady but I do have to continue to do the right things in order to keep it strong.
I drink lots and lots of water.  More that 80 oz a day.  I always have my reusable bottle of water with me and just keep refilling it up during the day.
I eat and eat.  I find that if I get too hungry my supply gets low.  I eat every couple hours and try to eat protein for meals and snacks.  I also eat oats every day because they are proven to increase breast milk.  Some of my favorite quick snacks are steamed edamame, banana's with peanut butter, home made granola bars, raw almonds and fruit.
I nurse often or pump if I feel too full.  I nurse Jack on demand but if he is having an off day I will pump at his usual eat time to keep my body on that same feeding cycle.  Last month I started pumping in the morning.  I get the most milk if I pump in the morning.  I will give Jack a bottle to drink and then keep the rest of the milk in the refrigerator.  I freeze it after a couple of days if it doesn't get used.  That is how I have built a back up supply and it also allows me to be able to leave with out Jack and Mike has something to feed him.
I am glad that I worked so hard and have been able to nurse Jack for so long.  It has been an amazing experience.  I am not suggesting through this post that breastfeeding is right for everyone.  Not everyone feels as strongly about making it work as I did.  That is ok.  You have to do what is best for your family and your baby.  This was the best choice for me and I have no regrets about working so hard to make it work.  
I am no expert but I had my struggles.  If you have any questions please feel free to leave me a comment.



A typical morning pump session.  

Preview of Decorations

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I am still feeling pretty terrible from yesterday so I am in bed again.  It hurts to move too much so I am laying down making some more decorations for Jack's birthday party.  Everything is coming together and I am getting excited to see how all of the final products come out.  
Here is a preview of a few things I am working on.  
I love party planning!

Tassels to make a banner by the fireplace.  These are light blue and I am also going to make some green and possibly a few white.  


Mustache stickers.  I am putting these on all of the solo cups for the drinks.


Flags to go around Jack's high chair.


I am putting this on the top of his personal cake.  

Different prints and colors for a tie banner.  I am thinking about putting pictures of Jack in between the ties.  



A little behind and prepping ahead

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I am a bit behind with my weekly blogging.  I had surgery this morning and I had a list of to do's that took me the last few days to finish up.
I had surgery for an umbilical cord hernia that I developed from being pregnant with Jack.  It was an outpatient procedure but I have been nervous about it for weeks.  I have never had surgery and I was scared of everything that came with it.
Everything went well and I am home now.  I feel really sore but over all pretty good.  I am hoping that the healing is quick and I am back to my normal self soon.
I have milk stored up for Jack but, only enough for a couple of days.  So far he has taken the bottle fine today but I haven't seen him.  I know when he sees me he will want to nurse.  I feel sad but I know it is better for him.
To prepare for being up in bed for the next couple of days I did a lot of pre planning.  I finished all the laundry and put everything away.  I also picked up some art supplies and made some work sheets for Evelyn to do.  I cleaned the basement toys and swapped everything out for Jack to play with.
For meals I grilled enough chicken for 2 dinners.  We can just heat it and eat it as is or make chicken sandwiches or have chicken wraps with whole wheat tortilla's.  I also roasted a bunch of carrots and red skin potatoes that can be easily heated up.
I know most people would have pre made a couple of casseroles but my family doesn't like casseroles.  I love them.  They remind me of comfort food we used to eat growing up.  After Jack was born my mom's group brought meals over for a couple of weeks.  I filled up on yummy tator tot casserole which is one of my favorites.
I also prepared side dishes for the kids to have with each of their meals.  I usually start them both with a vegetable to nibble on while I finish cooking.  For the next couple of days they are having peas, broccoli, carrots, edename and Parmesan cous cous.
So, while I am laying low in bed resting and trying not to move because everything hurts I am looking for new recipes to try next week.

Weekend plans

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Nana's coming today and Evelyn is very excited. We have swim this morning and then we are going to stop by the store and pick up some things for dinner. I also bought a new donut maker and it arrived on Thursday. I am excited to try it out. I'm up early looking through recipes.
I'm also hoping to make a detailed grocery list and meal plan for the week.
Should be a pretty calm weekend.

Mini meals

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Just a few meals that the kids have been enjoying lately.
Jack eats just about the same things except he does not have lunch meat.

Breakfast- Frozen yogurt sticks, french toast and raspeberry's

Lunch- Grilled Cheese, orzo and strawberry's

Breakfast- Toast, eggs, and strawberry's

Lunch- Salami, Cheese and Pears

Banana Mini Muffins recipe (no oil or butter)

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I have been experimenting with new muffin recipes for the past few weeks.  I am looking for something that I can make ahead of time and the kids can eat them for breakfast.  I have not had much success lately either.
So, today I went back to the drawing board (or the pantry in this case) and I finally found a winner.  This one is as healthy as a muffin can be.  No oil (other than some cooking spray) or butter.
They are soft and super fresh tasting.


Mix wet ingredients first, then fold in the dry.

Liberally spray a mini muffin pan or use liners.



Check with a tooth pick, let cool and eat.



Ingredients

3 large really ripe bananas, smashed
1 egg
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 Cups of nuts, optional

Combine wet ingredients and the fold in dry ingredients.
Scoop into mini muffin pan that is either sprayed with cooking spray or use liners.
Bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Tooth pick will come clean will they are ready.  

I made one muffin tray without nuts and then added 1/2 cup of chopped pecans into the rest.  


Evelyn gave them 2 thumbs up :)

Blueberry almond smoothie

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Since Im still nursing I haven't been using any supplements such as protein powder. I've been getting additional protein into my diet by using different nuts. 

This smoothie recipe is one of my favorites. It's simple, just 3 ingredients and really tasty. 

I use frozen blueberries, a handful of sliced almonds and almond milk. Just blend it well.  


I usually drink this in the morning as a snack between breakfast and lunch. I'm hungry all the time and this smoothie helps curb that hunger. 

Just a side note:
This is the blender I use for my personal smoothies. 

http://www.amazon.com/Hamilton-Beach-51101B-Personal-Blender/dp/B0017XHSAE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403004665&sr=8-1&keywords=hamilton+beach+blender

It works great and was really inexpensive. 

Meal Planning Monday

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This week is our family garage sale.  I love garage sales and this one will be fun because my sister in law is having it at her house and the town is having a festival at the same time.

I am going to make some snacks to take there for a couple of days and then pre cook our meals so I won't have to rush home to make dinner.

This week we are having:

Turkey Taco's with a side of fruit
Turkey Burgers with Asparagus
Marinated Chicken with salad
PB&J Sandwiches with fruit skewers
Take out soup and garlic bread

For the garage sale days I am making:
Strawberry Bars
Cut up veggies and fruit
Make your own tortilla pizzas
Cheeseburger macaroni

Happy Father's Day!

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Happy Father's Day to all the dads, especially my dad and my husband Mike.
It's 6:00 in the morning here and Mike is already on the golf course.  He is going to be home later and we are planning on going to the pool and then cooking steaks.
The weather is going to be great so it should be a great day.  I am up early catching up on some blogging and finishing some laundry.  Hoping to get as much done as possible before the kids get up.

Have a great rest of the weekend!


Fashion Friday (Evelyn edition)

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Evelyn picked out some new shoes. She's had them for a couple of weeks now and I've decided they are a summer essential. I'm a fan of crocks but I know most people don't like them but for kids they are perfect. 
Evelyn can put them on herself, she can get them wet and they really go with everything. Oh and she loves the charms. 







Birthday Party Prep

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Now that we are back from vacation and Jack's birthday is just a month away (What???) I am in full planning mode.
I am excited because we are doing a mustache theme.  Mike isn't a big fan but, I find the whole mustache irony very funny.  I "mustache" you a question, ha ha, I mean come on, that is funny.
Ok so we are still working on the menu but have lots of ideas.  I am in the process of making decorations and ordering lots of things.
We are having a bounce house which I am pretty excited about.  I of course know that Jack is too little for that but, we have lots of toddlers coming so they will enjoy something kid friendly to do.  Evelyn's birthday is in February so planning an outdoor party is really fun.  And of course I love planning, almost as much as I enjoy the actual party.
So that is just an update for now.  I will be posting different things as I get them done so stay tuned for more updates.

Meal Planning Monday

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Mike is traveling for work this week so the kids and I will eat something simple.  

Since I am not planning for 5 full meals this week I am also going to put some of the grocery budget towards paper products for Jack's birthday party.  

So, this is what is on the menu.

Grilled Cheese with Broccoli
Home made Mac N Cheese with Peas
Turkey Burgers with Carrot Fries
Portobello Pizzas with Cesar Salad
Grilled Pork Chops with Corn

Weekend Plans

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We missed swim this morning because everyone slept in.  We stayed up late last night and had a fire.  Evelyn roasted us all marshmallows and we had smores.  I was surprised that Evelyn fell asleep so fast considering she ate 6 of them.  We had a great time though.
Today we are heading down to the pool and going to enjoy the sun.  Mike has a work trip this week so he has to get some stuff packed later.  We are going to grill pork chops and asparagus for dinner.  I made a cold mustard sauce that is setting up in the refrigerator.  Hopefully it turns out because it was really simple.
Jack is napping now and has been sleeping a lot during the day.  He has been taking 3 hour naps.  I think it is his allergies that are bothering him.  Last night he went to bed at 7:00 then got up at 11:00 and stayed up until 2:30. I am hoping he starts to feel better soon so he can enjoy being outside.
Not sure what we are doing tomorrow but I am hoping to get some flowers planted.  Thats about it for us.
Have a great weekend!

Vacation re cap

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Well, we are back from our week long vacation in Myrtle Beach.  Mike was not able to go so I took the kids and met my mother in law at their condo.  Traveling there is easy, well as easy as flying with a 3 year old and 10 month old can be.  It is easier because I don't have to bring as much.  We bought car seats to keep there and a pack n play with a mattress for Jack.
We really had a nice time.  Jack was pretty uncomfortable the whole trip due to his allergies.  He really didn't like the beach either.  The sand was blowing and he was crying and trying to suck his thumb which was all sandy.  I only took him that one time and Evelyn ended up going with my mother in law a couple times by them selves.  She loves the beach.  They looked for sea shells for hours.
We did take full advantage of the nice weather and the pool every day though.  Both kids loved swimming.  Evelyn's swim lessons have really paid off.  She is swimming great and enjoying the water so much.  It is amazing to see her doing it all by herself.  I am really looking forward to this summer and swimming in our pool at home.
I am also happy to report that I have a little bit of a tan.  Jack is going through a clingy spell so he cries whenever I leave the room and since he hasn't been feeling great I didn't feel comfortable leaving him much.  I ended up laying out on the back porch when he would nap.
We also had an opportunity to visit my cousins who live there.  We spent the morning catching up and letting the kids play.  Evelyn had so much fun.  She even tried zip lining.  I had to drag her home because Jack needed a nap.  She could have stayed there all day playing.
It was a nice trip but it is nice to be home too.  Leaving nana is always hard for Evelyn especially.  She cried until we boarded the plane.  Not just a little whimper either.  A full on bawling cry.  I ended up taking her to the gift shop and letting her pick out whatever she wanted.  She decided on 3 bags of fruit snacks so, $13 later she was in better spirits.
Well, back to the daily grind for us.  We are heading out to the park for a play date now.

Vacation pics

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Here are a few pictures from vacation. I'll give a full recap later.  We had a great time and it was sad to leave but it's nice to be home too. 
















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