"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Friday, March 6, 2015

Paleo, Whole 30 and Eating Clean

So I am going to try to keep this blogging thing going while I have momentum and a few minutes. Nick took the big girls to a “date” at Whataburger (slightly ironic given the title of this post) and I almost don’t know what to do with myself with only one kid. Ok, I do. Blog.

We started trying to really understand eating healthy in 2012, right before I became pregnant with Gemma. Everyone has a different opinion on what that means, but the two main books I read were “Eat to Live” and “The Beauty Detox Solution”. If I had to pick an eating style that made sense and seemed intuitive to me, I would say “Eat to Live” 100%. I really believe Joel Fuhrman knows what’s he’s talking about, so we tried his eating style for a while, but it was just too gross. Do you think you could eat food with no salt? And worse! Nearly every single nutritarian recipe involves just throwing a lot of nutritious food in a pot (without salt) and it all comes out tasting like goulash (gross). In the end, it just wasn’t sustainable for us. One positive thing did come out of it and we were able to practice living dairy-free for a while. That was something that once upon a time I thought I could never do, so it was good practice as we have slowly been cutting out dairy.

Between then and now, we’ve had TWO babies. We’ve jumped onto the healthy eating bandwagon and jumped off. I wouldn’t say that we are bad eaters when I cooked but we had two big flaws. 1) We have a major sweet tooth and I love to make cookies and brownies and all kinds of great tasting things from scratch. Then we cannot lay off of whatever it is I make and its gone within 24 hours. 2) When life gets stressful, we eat out a lot. Sometimes fast food (What-a-burger, Sonic and CFA are our faves) but even when its real restaurant food our attitude was always to just eat whatever we wanted.

Now onto Paleo! I could go into a long blurb on it, but basically I have read that a lot of women have noticed a great alleviation in their hypothyroid symptoms from eating Paleo. Once upon a time, I would have said that the “Paleo lifestyle” did not make sense to me on any level, but I was willing to try anything to not be so tired all the time. I also wanted to lose the baby weight from Zoya, and I’ve decided that I’m 31 now so there’s no reason to be coy about my actual weight numbers so I am just going to come out and share them.

For most of high school and college, I weighed between 102 and 105 lbs. After graduation and a desk job, my adult weight has usually been between 112 to 115. After Isla was born, at 4 weeks post partum I was down to 114. After Gemma was born, at 6 weeks post partum I was down to 111. They came off so easy that I was hoping it would be the same with Zoya even though I gained so much more weight. After you have a baby, you lose weight like crazy and then suddenly you stop losing weight. With Zoya I stopped losing weight at 128 lbs, which was too high for my comfort. I don’t need to get back to my high school weight, but I would love to skip the middle age spread if I can.

I started testing the Paleo waters in October and I lost a few pounds, and then between Thanksgiving and New Year I wasn’t very careful at all. Then I did the Whole30 in January. On January 1 I weighed 125 lbs, at the end of it, I had lost 5 lbs and was down to 120. I am now down to 117, and I am committed to this and I think I will continue to lose the baby weight. I’m hoping to get down to 112ish, and I’d be even happier if I kept losing!

The Whole30

The first Whole30 was really hard. I have such a sweet tooth I would have killed someone for a little dark chocolate, and I made a banana-nut smoothie that I am pretty sure qualified as SWYPO, but there’s no way I would have made it through the sugar detox weeks without it. I also ate a lot of sweet potatoes. Thank providence that I was allowed as many sweet potato fries as I wanted! I’m really thankful that Nick was doing it with me or else I would not have been able to finish. The girls mostly did it with us without complaining about no more cheese sticks or almond milk.

In February we had trips to Walt Disney World and Great Wolf Lodge and we cheated some, but we actually do really well on Paleo while at home. The girls are eating 90% Paleo, and I’m really proud of them. There are a few things that are really hard. I don’t miss cheese, but I know Isla does and she eats it up whenever we eat out. We all miss peanut butter though because did you know its technically a legume? Crazy. I am glad that most people allow butter on Paleo even though you aren’t supposed to eat any other dairy. Butter is my favorite thing. I’ve also been using ghee and avocado oil.

I’m doing the Whole30 again right now and it’s so much easier the second time, and I feel well. I am relying on nuts much less to satisfy my sweet tooth and I think that I will lose weight much faster this time. I don’t even need Nick to do it with me, he really doesn’t need to do it as he has already lost 25 lbs! This week I’ve passed up doughnuts and Whataburger (Nick offered because I guess he forgot about my Whole30) and it has been shockingly easy. That is a definite first! Also, yesterday I was having a bad day or in a bad mood for whatever reason. Normally I would be stuffing my feelings with food or searching high and low for chocolate, but surprisingly I just stuck with my normal Whole30 plan and I wasn’t even tempted to go off of it or deal with my emotions with food.

Here are some recipes that we like:

  • Crock pot whole chicken – I’ve stopped buying chicken parts, it’s nothing but whole chicken for our family. I’m so proud of myself!
  • Ribs – I put them in the crockpot on high for 4 hours and they are so tender and awesome.
  • Sweet potato fries coated in coconut oil, chili powder, garlic powder, arrowroot starch and salt to taste and baked on each side at 425 degrees for 10 minutes each.
  • Salmon croquettes – my kids go crazy for these, even Gemma
  • Home made larabars – switch peanut butter for almond butter, these make great snacks
  • pumpkin pancakes – I spread it with almond butter and sprinkle a little maple syrup and Isla and Gemma gobble these up
  • Fauxtmeal – this is soooo tasty, I love it too.
  • Paleo Pot Pie – This was so amazing. It’s not Whole30, and I wouldn’t have it every week, but it’s a nice treat and Isla and Nick loved it.
  • As I’ve mentioned before, we are big smoothie people. We’ve been using canned coconut milk as a base, adding any  kind of fruit, almond butter, spinach, flaxseed, dates and of course bananas in some combination or another.

Anyway, we are doing well and I am really proud of us. Although we have had some starts and stops since we started in October, this now feels like a permanent change in our home. I don’t think we will fall away if life gets stressful or busy or crazy; it’s a lifestyle we can sustain. Of course we will still have treats every now and then, but they will actually be treats, not just sweets because it’s Friday!

I would love any Paleo or Whole30 recipes that anyone has to share! If you are thinking about doing this, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Two Years of Gemma!

Inspired by my friend Melissa, no excuses… just diving right back into blogging like no break ever even happened.

Last week, our little teeny weeny spitfire turned TWO! This was her first time sporting a ponytail and I am a fan.

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So this kid is amazing. And cute. And sassy. And naughty. And charming. And everyone, everyone should have a Gemma. Or maybe not because the kid drives me crazy. But then she turns around, flashes those dimples and gets away with whatever shenanigans she’s doing. Basically, she spends most of her day telling me “no” and then hauling bottom as far away from me as she can get. When I catch up with her, she turns around, smiles and hands over whatever contraband item she’s stolen and puts her arms up to be held. I don’t know why I even bother to ask her to do anything at all because she always does the opposite. Or if I say “Gemma, you are going to get a spanking.” She turns to me, dimples up and “panks” herself. Or sometimes she covers her bottom, smiles and says saucily “I don’t want ‘pankin’” Oh this kid. She’s a mess. She went from being the easiest baby of all times ever to a 2 year old so wild I can’t even believe it.

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Right now she’s in very monkey-see-monkey-do. Whatever I do or Isla does, she copies.

She’s a tantrum thrower! Isla never threw tantrums or she tried once and I ignored it, she never tried it again and I thought I knew everything about tantrums and parenting in general of course. And I would love to ignore them except that she can make herself throw up in less than two minutes if she wants to! So although we don’t give her what she wants when she gets mad, we don’t ignore her because she just gets more and more upset and inevitably… blech.

If she wants something, she makes a mean, scrunchy face and uses an angry voice and says “I want juice!” or “I want me-mouse (mickey mouse)!” I remind her to ask nicely and say “please” and she will sign please. That’s enough about how bad she is because although she may ask rudely, she always says “dank you”, all the time, without being prompted and its so sweet to hear. I promise you if you saw this girl you would want to scoop her up and keep her forever.

She still loves cuddles and kisses and will ask for a “kees” or say “hold me”.

I love this picture. This was last week at the library. I took her to stoytime while Isla was in in school, and she walked right up to “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” and held their hands.

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Her birthday present was a bike and a “me-mouse” helmet and two Caillou books. We started teaching Isla to ride so late, we didn’t realize that we could start much earlier. So as soon as the weather gets better, we are going to try to get her used to it.

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Right now she’s really into Mickey Mouse, Winnie-the-Pooh and Caillou. Her favorite toys are her Little People toys, a Mickey and Minnie Mouse that she’s all but stolen from Isla, and several puzzles. She likes to play “amen” where we pray Smile and “ready, set, go” where I say it and she does her running thing over and over.

Gemma is still a picky eater, which is probably while she is so tiny; she’s just over 20 pounds. I refuse to feed her junk just to fatten her up so thankfully I have found some healthy foods she gobbles up and I still put whatever we are having in front of her at meals in hopes she’ll eventually start eating it. Here she is drinking a blueberry, spinach, flaxseed, banana and canned coconut milk smoothie.

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At this age Isla was already working hard to drop her naps, and thankfully Gemma is an excellent napper and sleeper!  No night waking unless something is wrong like a true Babywise baby and she still takes 2, sometimes 3, hour naps in the afternoon (Hallelujah!). She never fights nap time and often is very relieved when I take her to bed or naptime. Still I am glad that she is still in her crib and hasn’t tried to climb out. She shares a room with Isla now and Nick will put a bottom bunk in when it’s her time, but for now her crib is just under Isla’s lofted bed. Zoya is just in a pack-n-play.

Now that Gemma is older and very opinionated she and Isla fight more, but I still love their relationship. They adore each other and are so quick with the hugs. Gemma will give Isla anything she asks for, sometimes Isla has to ask twice Smile, but Gemma always gives her what she wants. I wish that I had been quick enough to snatch a picture of when they saw each other at Isla’s Valentine’s day party, but they were so happy to see one another with big hugs.

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Gemma is also pretty crazy about Zoya and loves to hold her, hug and and generally invade her personal space whenever she can. If you’ll remember when Gemma was Zoya’s age she would cry whenever she saw Isla, Zoya just grins through it all… I love it so much!

***UPDATE*** Gemma will also in her mean scrunchy, face say “My Zoya!” while giving you the stare down. Sometimes she will be gently rub Zoya’s back or head and say “my sithhhter (sister).” It is sooo cute.

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We spent Gemma’s birthday at Great Wolf Lodge. It was Winnie-the-Pooh themed and it was just us and Nick’s parents. We had a good time, but it was so cold outside and they didn’t make it very warm inside and then the kiddie pool was closed all day Saturday so I was a little disappointed in the venue… but we still had fun celebrating our girl! I hope she looks back and is happy we celebrated her birthday at such a cool place. In general, I hope my girls look back and always feel as though we treasured them on their special days.

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That’s pretty much it! I will probably update this post as I think of things, but we love every minute we spend with our Gemmy-Lou. She makes us so happy and keeps us entertained all day long.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015 Resolutions

I won’t do a recap of 2014 because it was pretty much the year of ZOYA! We are so in love with her and she is so perfect for us and us for her. I am so thankful God sent this little chubby, bedimpled surprise to us. We wanted to be pregnant in December of 2014, not December of 2013, and sometimes I’m still shocked that she’s here, but she is a reward for sure. Even though I’m not sure we are done adding children to our family, having Zoya brings me such a feeling of completeness. I always wanted three kids, and now I have them. It’s a dream fulfilled, and I am savoring every moment. Last year had some very hard moments for sure, but I love where my family is right now!

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  • My bible verse theme for the year is John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.” God is opening my heart in so many ways, but I know that I have far, far to go. I am doing the “My Utmost for his Highest” devotional this year and the statement below is what I have been clinging too. It’s true, it doesn’t matter how far we have come, we didn’t do it on our own, and we can’t get any farther without total dependence on our Lord.

“No matter what changes God has wrought in you, never rely upon them, build only on a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the Spirit He gives.”

  • To get my health and life after my hypothyroidism diagnosis figured out. This was last year’s resolution, but I didn’t know I was pregnant with Zoya at the time, and it was majorly derailed by my pregnancy. I’ve started reading my biography, “Feeling Fat, Fuzzy or Frazzled?” to find a solution to fixing my adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism. I’ve also started eating paleo (no grains, legumes, sugars, or processed foods), which many people claim have helped with their thyroid disease symptoms. So far it has!
  • To complete the Whole30 challenge. I’m on day 7, and so far I feel great! I hope it helps me drop these last stubborn baby weight pounds I’ve been carrying, but mostly I just want energy to keep up with my kids! Nick is doing it with me. He’s been eating basically paleo since November 1, and has lost 16 lbs. I cheated a bit over the holidays and gained back the 4 lbs I lost when I was being strict in November (sigh), Nick cheated too, but he kept on losing...
  • To get a housekeeper. Nick’s says that’s not a resolution. I don’t care. I gave cleaning my house with three kids and cooking 100% no processed foods from scratch the old college try, and it’s not working. And the laundry! I cannot keep living this way. (Nick’s says I can because I have been living this way, but I cannot.)
  • To attend an exercise class, but this hinges on getting a housekeeper. My best cleaning times are also when I would have to attend an exercise class.
  • To refinish our kitchen cabinets. I think we can really do it! We’ve been experimenting with colors to determine which we like the best.
  • Just enjoy my blessed family. I love Nick, Isla, Gemma and Zoya with all my heart and I am so thankful for them! I want them to see,feel and know how much I love them every day.

That’s it y’all. I’m really looking forward to 2015!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Christmas Break 2014

One of my goals for the new year is to blog more often with less words, fewer qualifying statements, fewer exclamation points (I know I have a problem) and more pictures. Let’s see how I do.

First of all, the girls’ Santa photo was pretty much the bomb!

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The Live “Activity” as Isla calls it. Gemma was mesmerized. Isla threw a fit when it was time to leave, which is very unlike her, so we stayed longer because we could all use more time with Baby Jesus.

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Nick spent a lot of time working on this awesomeness – a much safer, more attractive play loft, and safer way to access it!

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We spent a lot of time at Home Depot getting supplies. Can you spot Gemma? My City Select has been the best stroller for us (exclamation point).

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Zoya seems like she is going to surpass Gemma in size very soon and catch up to her in diaper size. I spend a lot of time cheek to jowl with my littlest chubster. She is the most delectable squishy baby!

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Christmas Eve service!!! These three cute little girls generated a lot of smiles wherever they went. I told Nick I am doing a public service by dressing them in matching clothes – they make people happy just to see them.

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Opening presents Christmas Eve. Gemma’s favorite present was her baby doll. Isla’s was everything.

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Our littlest doll with her little doll.

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On Christmas day we went and looked at Christmas lights. Santa visited. We also made cupcakes and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. It’s a great tradition if you have kids, it’s a great way for them to connect Christ’s birth to the holiday in a way that is meaningful to them.

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School Christmas party. Gemma loves to visit Isla’s school and stay for the parties. Hopefully things like this will make her transition to MDO easier next year.

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Dimples. (I will not put in a qualifier about how we DO take her out of her car seat, it’s just easier to take pictures when she’s in there.)

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We decorated Christmas cookies and a Gingerbread house. Well, Isla decorated, Gemma just ate the decorations.

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We had new floors installed in two rooms in the house. We have carpets for other rooms coming soon. I’ll post more on that later but here’s a sneak peak.

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The big girls were mesmerized by the installation process.

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We held a garage sale to help my Angel Tree cutie, Julie, meet her goal. Between that and all of my precious friends, she made her goal and then some. Most of the garage sale items were donated by people I don’t even know. I just put the word out on Next Door and Facebook. I live in an amazing town.

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Zoya worked really hard at finding her thumb. She’s now officially a thumb sucker. No pacifiers for this girl, which makes mama’s life so much easier.

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All in all, it was such a sweet, blessed Christmas. Having Zoya with us just makes everything so precious and complete.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Halloween 2014

I never post about Halloween, and I just want to get a few pictures on the blog for documentation purposes.

Just like 99.9% of sisters in America, Isla and Gemma were Anna and Elsa. We had planned to get Zoya into some sort of Olaf get up, but I just didn’t get around to it.

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If you’re wondering why Gemma isn’t wearing a red headed wig, and Isla’s hair isn’t in braids… well, I read this article and it changed my life. It’s called “I’m done making my kids’ childhood magical”. I’m done wasting my time on details that make absolutely no difference to my kids. I sprinkled a little bit of glitter in Isla’s hair and she thought that was pure awesomeness, Gemma would have had a wig off on in 5 seconds flat. They had the best Halloween and mom wasn’t stressed out. You what’s going to ruin my kids’ childhood? A stressed out mom. You know what isn’t? Not having a costume that cost $150 and copies Elsa’s ensemble down to the last glittering snowflake. Oh and at Christmas, I totally used the store bought sugar cookie dough for making our Christmas cookies. Slacker moms unite.

Also, of course I had cute little coordinating Halloween outfits for them. What can I say? It makes me happy, and make my life a little more magical. This is all of the girls at Isla’s school field trip to the pumpkin patch.

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Love her joie de vivre!

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Gemma loved the pumpkins and made a new friend!

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Sister pictures. Love them, love them, love them! True to Zoya’s personality until she turned 2 1/2 months, she cried through them all Sad smile. Now she’s one of the happiest babies in the world.

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Isla is an amazing, loving big sister!

IMG_5548IMG_5551IMG_5562Big sisters, comforting little sister. Yes, my heart is melting right now.

IMG_5582We also visited Isla’s school for their Halloween parade and Pumpkin Party.

Go ahead, you can say it… that’s a cute toddler.

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These two sisters love each other so much.

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Happy Halloween 2014 in January of 2015!

*****Update: I found these and I wanted to include them!

We also went to a Halloween festival at Isla’s school. Their Halloween outfits from last year still fit them, so they were able to wear them one last time. The girls were able to ride in a horse drawn carriage. I stayed behind with Zoya because she was sleeping (I am only a teeny bit jealous.)

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Isla had her face painted like Elsa!

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Nick was out of town so we had to Facetime him to let him see.

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Pure and Undefiled Religion

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