Monday, March 30, 2015

What We Ate for Dinner, Week of March 23

I'm taking a page from one of my favorite bloggers, Carrots 'n Cake, and going to randomly do a post on what we ate for dinner the week before. I love when she does hers, because it gives me new dinner ideas, and is a fun way to look at how you're balancing out your diet for the week.

Monday: Skinny Taste Turkey Chili Taco Soup and Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbread
This recipe is easy, and delicious. The leftovers freeze well in individual containers for easy on the go lunches (as pictured below later in the week), its full of delicious flavor and keeps you full.
I am obsessed withe the Krusteaz Gluten Free Corn Bread. It's the best Gluten Free cornbread mix I've found (even better than my homemade gluten free cornbread, and obviously a lot faster), but it is SO hard to find in the DC area. I actually bought three boxes when I saw it in a store in Boise when we were there in January and brought them home. I'm down to my last box, please let a store around here start stocking it soon!!


Tuesday: Grilled Turkey and Cheese, Ore-Ida Waffle Fries and Alexia Frozen Corn with Sun Dried Tomato Mix
As I work on my baby weight (update coming soon!), I've realized I really need to control the carbs I eat for dinner (and not have dessert after dinner most nights, even something little, like a Skinny Cow) if I want to succeed in losing and/or maintaining. Therefore, I just had the cheese and turkey, with a little chipotle mayo and one serving fries along with the corn.
I am SO excited that Ore-Ida's Waffle fries are now gluten free. Many varieties of their fries are gluten free, and they clearly label which ones are, so it's easy to tell, and this was the first time I saw that the Waffle Fries were when I pulled them from the freezer at Target.
The corn was meh. I thought it looked fantastic when I saw it in the freezer at Harris Teeter, but it was just not a great mix. I usually love Alexia products, so too bad, so sad.

Wednesday: Cottage Cheese Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs
Wednesday was nuts. Between terrible traffic for me getting home, forgetting to do the crock pot meal I had planned in the morning, and a sick little one that Ben had to take to the doctor, then drive back and pick up Austin for daycare, I was ready to phone it in Wednesday night. I stayed strong though and found a dinner to make based on what we had in the house, cottage cheese pancakes and scrambled eggs. Despite them being higher protein pancakes, I limited myself on them, and had two scrambled eggs with avocado, feta and ketchup to boot as well. Scrambled eggs are one of Austin's favorite foods. Random since he is such a carb addict.

Thursday: Fend for Yourself
I went running Thursday night, so the boys made a box of Annie's Mac and Cheese while I was out, and I came home and had a fruit, spinach and whey protein smoothie, and a rice cake with peanut butter. No picture of this super exciting dinner.

Friday:  The Pioneer Woman Mac and Four Cheeses, Feta and Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breast and Spinach Salad
Ben's birthday dinner! I know that pasta and meat work as great fuel for me before a long run, and since I was planning to run nine miles Saturday morning, I was fine with having the extra carbs of this four cheese mac on Friday night. I lignten it up by using a mix of skim and 2% milk instead of heavy cream. It still doesn't make it healthy by any means, but its definitely not as heavy. I also made these easy chicken breasts with Hunts Diced Basil, Garlic and Oregano Tomato's and Feta. It's a copy of this Eat, Live, Run recipe, but an easier version.
I love spinach salads with Brianna's Raspberry Dressing, and Friday's had strawberries, feta, cashews and green onions mixed in as well.

We celebrated Ben's Birthday Friday night, even though it was the day before, and had a cake from Wegmans (the best grocery store everrrrrrrr). Ben had requested a white cake with buttercream frosting. His real favorite dessert is Key Lime Pie, but with me not being able to have any because of gluten, and knowing how much Austin loves cake, he went with cake.


Hope you enjoyed a typical week of eating dinner in our house; I would love to hear what you make for your dinners too!
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Things I'm Loving This Winter

Not going to lie, this winter has been ROUGH. Last winter there were some cold days and snow, but this one has been frigid. Didn't I leave the Midwest to escape this?! I'm hopeful for an early spring, as I've had to take too many runs to the treadmill recently, and taken my car to the car wash too many times to be de-salted, only to have it a white, ugly mess again within days. We've also had too many bouts with germs from kids being cooped up inside, and not enough outdoor fun. All that said, here are a few of my favorite things right now that have been helping me get through these winter months!

Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash

I can't use any soaps or laundry detergents with perfumes, and because of that, I've always been stuck using just bar soap, Dove Sensitive Skin being my bar of choice. Well now, Dove has an unscented free, sensitive skin body wash that I love. It's very moisturizing for winter skin and is also great for using as a shave cream.

Skinny Taste One Pot Cheesy Turkey Taco Chili Mac

This recipe is pretty easy (I use store bought taco seasoning to help with that, and only mild so it's not too spicy for little pallets) and makes a large portion for a lot of leftovers. Plus, it's an easy way to get more than just carbs into my little guys mouth, and still excite him with his favorite food, mac and cheese! The serving size is a generous cup full, so it leaves me feeling satisfied as well.

This Is Where I Leave You 

I had heard rave reviews about this book; I haven't heard as great of things about the movie (but after reading it, I know I'll see it once it's out on DVD). I just finished the book, and found it to be a great read. I loved the character development of this dysfunctional, yet loving, family. Highly recommend picking it up!

Halo Top Creamery 

This light ice cream is delicious, high in protein, and packs better nutrition facts than any other light ice cream I've tried. I like the vanilla bean a lot, either plain, or with a little nutella added on. =)

Under Armour Fly-By Headband
This headband is great for containing fly aways and staying in place. I got a questionable haircut in January with more layers than I counted on, and this headband holds them right in, without budging whether I'm running, spinning or doing bootcamp. I love the bright colors as well!

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Losing the Baby Weight, Part Two

I realized I have yet to update you guys on my work to lose the baby weight I gained during my pregnancy with Everett. The posts that I get the most "hits" on, and get e-mail responses in regards to are always about either Celiac, or baby weight loss, so I thought it only fair to keep them coming!

First, to look back, here's a recap of my weight loss after having Austin.

With my pregnancy with Everett I gained 48 pounds. So, two fewer pounds than I gained with Austin, small victories, yay! I felt so much better this pregnancy though, and moved more, ate better (but still not always great) and have felt the weight has in general come off easier. Even though I knew how long it took to feel more like "me" again weight wise after Austin, I've been harder on myself this time, wanting to lose every ounce of weight and get back into my old clothes NOW.

One Week Postpartum. Yes, I still looked that pregnant then
I started counting calories using My Fitness Pal around ten weeks postpartum. I needed a way to remind myself that four handfuls of trailmix is not power food anymore, it's gluttony, and that cookies are not the only snacks. Like always, I need accountablity and porition control monitoring in order to lose weight since weight loss for me is like it is for a lot of people, 80% what I eat, 20% exercise.

My Fitness Pal was a really helpful tool, and I loved that it synced with my FitBit for activity tracking. I did see a dip in my breast milk supply when I started counting calories, but was okay with it, because I needed to put me first in this aspect of my life, and we had to start giving Everett a formula bottle before bed anyway to help him sleep longer stretches for my sanity in that realm as well.
The boys who inspire me to stay healthy, and were worth every pound of pregnancy weight
Recently, I've been struggling with that last 7-8 pounds--I swear it's stuck to me like glue! So, I decided to rejoin my old stand by, Weight Watchers. I felt I needed to carb/protein/fiber ratio for my tracking, rather than just calories, to really kick the extra pounds to the curb. The nice thing about Weight Watchers. is that is also adds extra points to your plan if you are nursing, where as My Fitness Pal does not, so I had to account about 300 extra calories a day when I was using My Fitness Pal.

Right now, I am SO close to fitting into my old pants. I can put on one pair of jeans that have stretch in them, but most of my other jeans I still feel like a stuffed sausage in, and I don't want to stretch them out either, and then have them look frumpy when I can wear them everyday.

I've also realized how much I need a good closet revamp after being pregnant so often lately. So, I did take the leap and join Stitch Fix, like I mentioned in my last post. I know it can be pricy, even at their cheapest option, but my hope is to try it for a few months and get a few good signature pieces (like work pants, I REALLY need black work pants, I finally donated the ones I had from senior year of college).

I'd also like to set up some time with someone at Nordstrom and have them help me pick out a good pair of jeans that fits with my body. I've decided once I lose all the weight, and have kept it off for six weeks, I'll be doing this for myself as a reward.

So, stay tuned as I test the waters of my sanity while working full time, raising two kids and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to be at a happy weight!

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas List 2014!

Every year I do a list of things I'm loving for the holiday season in hopes it will help inspire your wish list as well. There are always things I think would be nice to haves, but then when I'm asked what I'd like for Christmas, I usually have to rack my brain for ideas. So here are a few things I love, in no particular order!

I could get a few pair of these every year and be happy. I love them for going out of the house in winter to keep my feet warm, or for the days I work from home and am in stocking feet they are perfect for keeping my toes warm under the desk. Plus, I love the designs Smart Wool have on their socks! I am also in real need of new running socks, so those are on my list as well. I love the FitSok brand.

Also looking towards my feet, I need new winter boots. I have cute boots, even warm boots, but nothing to hold up in sleet, ice and snow, and I need them. Last winter was a hard winter for Virginia (so an average Midwest winter) and this winter is looking tough as well. I need these to shovel, play outside with my kids, and feel okay if they get salt and grime on them, because they're not for fashion purposes. That said, I think these boots are cute too--so that helps!

With little time to do quality clothes shopping, most of my clothes are from Target recently. While that's okay, I'd love a few more nice key items, and am not the greatest stylist of myself. I'd love to try Stitch Fix, where you get a monthly package of clothes picked out for you by a stylist based on your tips to them, where you can keep what you like, and return what you don't. The price of the clothes (average piece is $55) holds me back, but I know you really get what you pay for in most clothing pieces, so I'd love a gift card in order to be able to do a few months of Stitch Fix.

I watched too much Food Network on maternity leave and saw these over and over again and thought one would be awesome. I make pasta often, and this would make life so much easier, not to mention, be able to handle big batches for when I'm making doubles of dishes for freezer meals.

The past few years I haven't been a huge fan of Crate and Barrel's Christmas decor, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw what they stocked this year! An Ornament Tree would be great since I can't display my breakable ornaments on our real tree, but could still put this up on a mantle or shelf and enjoy them.

This lotion is on my list every year, and usually Ben comes through with a small bottle in my stocking. I love the way it smells, and it is the only lotion that truly gets my winter dry, overly washed hands, to soften up. If you've never tried it, add it to your list! It comes in a large, and trial size bottle.

So there you have it, things I love for Holiday Season 2014. What's on your list this year??

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Monday, November 3, 2014

My Favorite Mac and Cheese(ish) Recipes and a Fall Update

This fall has flown by, and so has my maternity leave! I am back at work now, and enjoying my co-workers, and my time with the boys as well. It's a good balance.

Austin and Everett had a great Halloween. Austin resisted putting on his costume for my work Halloween party, but he put it on for trick or treating in our neighborhood, and loved it! He trick or treated for an hour and a half, taking a break in the middle so Ben and I could switch who went with him, and who stayed home to hand out candy and be with Everett. 

All the boys on Halloween--Cooper literally jumped in as I got ready to take the picture so he wouldn't be left out!

I've also picked back up in my running this fall, and finally think I found a great group to run with, with people my pace, and run intervals. It's so refreshing, and great to have a community of positive women to exercise with, and motivate me.

Austin also turned two the day I went back to work. I was sad to leave him on his birthday, but his dad was with him that day, and he really didn't understand it until the presents came out (and now he has told me that Santa brings presents, specifically, new trucks).

It's hard to believe this little man that is so full of personality is two years old! 

During maternity leave this summer and fall, I had Austin home with me full time as well. Austin is in a stage of very picky eating. We present him a lot of options, and sometimes he surprises us and tries new things, or takes a bite of fruits and vegetables (this week he ate a small stalk of broccoli, woo hoo!). His favorite foods include: carbs, carbs and MORE carbs--along with scrambled eggs.

That said, I've been trying to find some ways to mix up our Mac and Cheese recipes, because those are always a hit, and sneaky way to get some extra veggies or protein in Austin's diet.

I'm always up for trying new things, and would love to hear your favorite Macaroni and Cheese recipes, and here are a few of my favorites:

Iowa Girl Eats Lighter Buffalo Mac and Cheese
This recipe has a great zing to it, even if you don't add all the called for Franks Red Hot Sauce like I do for Austin's more sensitive pallet (and me not wanting to have too much spice while nursing, as it can affect Everett's belly as well).
Martha Stewart Lighter Macaroni and Cheese
I don't do the tomato part of this recipe, but this recipe was my first attempt at baked mac and cheese, and I love it. It's not an easy recipe, but it tastes great.
The Pioneer Woman Mac and Four Cheeses
The easiest mac and cheese if you shred the cheese a day ahead. I've easily found all these cheeses and Trader Joes for an affordable price. 
Kraft Chicken and Broccoli-Cheddar Skillet
I'm not a mayo fan, so I sub in sour cream here, but I love this recipe, and it's very fast for weeknights.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Everett's Birth Story, Part Two

Check out Everett's Birth Story Part One if you haven't yet before reading on...

Sure enough, at nearly exactly the same time I woke up to my water breaking with Austin, I woke up around 4:00 a.m. to terrible contractions. They were not mild anymore, they were the kind that rip through your hips and abs like a meat grinder, and had me shooting out of bed.

I woke up Ben to tell him how I was feeling as I paced our bedroom deep breathing. At that moment my water started breaking, not a gush, like with Austin, but it was definitely breaking.

I called the on call number for my OB practice and immediately started to freak out when they told me none of the doctors in my practice were on call. What?! How could this happen?? Well, on very rare occasions (and I knew this was the case, my practice kept me well informed on this) if all of the doctors in my practice have the weekend off, there are a group of fill in doctors on call to cover for them. It only happens a handful of times a year, and this was one of them.

Admittingly, I lost my shit at this point. I told Ben that if they wouldn't let me VBAC, I would walk out of the hospital. "I'll do it! I'll just leave!" Yeah, not sure where I was going to go...

Anyway, when the doctor on call called me back, she was very nice, told me of course they'd be okay with a VBAC if that was the birth plan, and to come in to the hospital and get checked out and we'd review things.

Ben woke up my mom to let her know what was happening, and I gobbled down a bowl of Rice Chex and a Snickers I had set aside for when I went into labor (seriously) and we headed out.

The 20 minute or so drive to the hospital was nice on the empty early Sunday morning highway, except for every few minutes when i would have a huge, painful contraction. It made me happy that my body was obviously laboring on it's own, which is a great thing for qualifying for a VBAC, but my goodness, did it hurt.

When we arrived, we quickly got into triage (oh, and the parking garage was closed for cleaning, so Ben had to park nearly a half mile away and hoof it into the hospital with all my stuff after dropping me off), and met the on call doctor. She was nice, told me I was three centimeters after checking me... and then told me she was off at 7:00 and another doctor would be in shortly. WHAT?!?

"I'm sure she's fine with you VBACing," she said.

"She damn well better be," I thought as I scowled in disgust.

The new doctor arrived not twenty minutes later, and it was like God knew what he was doing when he had her on call that day. She was awesome. She told me her criteria for a VBAC (progressing mainly on your own, but could have a small dose of pitocin, went into labor on your own, baby reacting well, and no pressure in my scar area). She was very reassuring and made me feel great about things.

We got into labor and delivery, met our nurses (there were several, and this gave me anxiety that I didn't have just one, and I had a minor breakdown about this until our assigned nurse came back to be with just us), and I received an epidural that went SO much better than my very painful one with Austin. The needle hardly hurt at all, and brought immediate relief.

Ben and I took naps on and off, and I was checked again after a couple hours, where they found I was making no progress, and the baby's heart rate was starting to drop. My doctor told me, "I have a three strikes rule for VBACs, I can't be as liberal with letting baby go through possible trauma in these situations, this is strike one."

The one picture I took during labor, Ben napping
They had me turn to my left side, put me on oxygen, turned off the pitocin, and then the baby came back around with an improved heart rate. With this, the pitocin was gradually started again with a small dose, and all was looking good again.

After a couple hours, I started to get really intense contractions that I could feel, even through the epidural, all over my left side. It was awful. I was on my side, gripping the bed rail, while Ben stood next to me, and I tried to breath. The contractions felt like they were ongoing, with no break.

This went on for over an hour, and from what I know of labor, it was clear I was going through transition. Sure enough, when my doctor came back to check me, she said words that were music to my ears, "you're at ten (centimeters), lets get ready to push!"

I was so relieved to hear this, I had gone from three to ten centimeters in just a couple of hours, and had a chance to deliver my baby vaginally!

Pushing started, and was harder than I thought it would be. I pushed and pushed for nearly an hour, making little progress. The doctor and nurse were determined to help me push this baby out though, and, which I appreciated, so they tried putting a mirror up to motivate me, but it only weirded me out. They also had me do extra pushes during each contraction, still not a lot of progress, after every push, the baby's head would creep back up, and I was getting exhausted from all the work, and had to put back on oxygen between each round of pushes.

In total, I ended up pushing for two and a half hours. The next day my back, shoulders, arms and leg muscles all hurt from the effort of those pushes. I compared pushing, to swimming a bunch of laps, a full body workout!

I was feeling so defeated and very tired at this point in labor. Then, the doctor decided to not have me lay back down between pushes, but keep my legs up in between contractions, and that made all the difference. Progress, finally!

It was at this point my OB came in and sat with me, and told me she would be there through the end of my labor unless something else urgent came up, and told me the second best words I heard all day (besides that I had a healthy child), "you're going to deliver this baby vaginally, it's going to happen."

I burst into happy tears.

From here things are a blur, I remember my doctor saying to know it was getting close when she put on her mask and shoe covers. Since we didn't know the gender, she told us she would lift the baby's leg after she placed it on my chest for Ben to announce the gender.

Minutes later, Ben was telling me, "The baby's coming! It's coming out!" The guy who always said he'd stay "north of the border," was watching his child be born in anticipation. And in a whirlwind, suddenly a baby was on my chest, a screaming, white covered, red little human, and they said, "Tell her what it is Dad!" But he didn't have to tell me, it was plain as day staring back and me, and we both said loudly, "It's a...BOY!!"

Again I was a blubbering mess of happy tears as I helped wipe off my son with a flannel blanket while he laid on my chest. I remarked how he looked like Austin, and my heart felt so full. Two boys, less than two years a part, that I hope will be life long friends.

They weighed, measured and did Everett's apgar tests, and returned him to my chest. It felt so great to get to hold my baby right after birth, instead of waiting to get to the recovery room like with a c-section.

Six weeks into Everett's life, and my heart is still so full. I am more tired than I ever knew possible with a night owl newborn, and a toddler who gets up by 8:00 every day (and I know how lucky we are to have him sleep that late), but I love these boys so much.

Austin and Everett meeting for the first time, and Austin showing us that Everett has a nose (right after he ripped his hat off)
Austin has finally started taking to Everett, talking to him when he cries, checking on him in the stroller during walks, and Cooper is very protective over him as well.

Cooper guarding the door, and his littlest brother
I know that motherhood changed me to the core the moment Austin was born, and I now know that all the cliches are true about your other children, your heart grows and you realize you can love even more than you thought possible before.

 Everett Lance
Six Weeks Old

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Everett's Birth Story, Part One

If the way you come into the world is a pre-courser for the life you will lead, then maybe Everett will be our calm child, who peppers in a little spice here and there. I doubt it with he and his brother around to influence each other, and get into trouble, but his birth was such a wonderful experience, that just may be.

People seem to all be surprised when I say giving birth to him was a "wonderful experience." When asked how delivery went, I usually reply, "awesome!" and most people say, "I've never heard anyone describe giving birth that way!" But it was, it was an amazing experience to VBAC, and hold my baby immediately after he was born, and it all started a few days before...

I went to the doctor for my 38 week appointment on Wednesday, July 30. I was anxious to see how things were going, as I hadn't been checked yet, but again had the feeling of a head about to fall out from between my legs.

During my exam and belly measurement, the doctor told me didn't feel any baby at the top of my belly, meaning the baby could be breech (like Austin was), or had dropped already.

I was anxious as he got prepared to check me, would there be two little feet, or a bum, on my cervix instead of a head? Would another c-section be on the horizon? I knew that if the baby was breech, I would have to have a c-section that coming Friday at 39 weeks.

As he checked me (this is the first of many TMI moments, FYI, don't read on if you are squeamish) he said, "Whoa! You are most certainly not breech. You're 2 cm already and 75% effaced. You're ready to go now."

Then, he took his hand and moved my baby's head just to show me how in position I was, and I yelled, "Are you moving it's head?!"

"Yup, that's how ready you are to go. I'll be shocked if you don't have a baby by the end of this weekend. Get things ready, you could go into labor at any time."

I left the appointment thrilled, but nervous, my mom was not arriving until Saturday night to be there to watch Austin when the baby arrived.

To intensify things, I started getting some pretty strong contractions as a result of getting checked at my appointment earlier that day. Ben and I were on our way to have dinner with friends in DC as a last night out with friends celebration of sorts, and I was having to do deep breathing to control the pain the whole ride there.

With all this going on, during the drive I got my mom, and Delta airlines on the phone, and switched her flight to arrive the next day (thank you to Delta for doing this with no penalty when they heard the situation!)

We have great friends in the area who had already told us they would watch Austin and Cooper should I go into labor before her arrival, but nearly all of them were out of town that Thursday and Friday, and I was nervous to be running around arranging things if I was in active labor.

My labor pains subsided that night, we had a great dinner out. I worked that Thursday and Friday from home, just in case anything happened, but didn't feel a drop of contractions, or any other signs of labor, and my frustration was mounting.  What happened to having a baby by the weekend?!?

Saturday morning I went for a mani/pedi I had scheduled weeks ahead of time, partially to relax and enjoy some me time before baby, and partially in hopes that a good foot massage would set me into labor.

I got home with fresh nails and ready to take on the day.

Baby Ready Fingers and Toes
I felt bad that my mom had arrived early, but was also thankful she was there to bond with Austin before they would be alone together, and get to know his schedule.

And it's a good thing she did, it wasn't a few hours after being home from my nail appointment, that my plug fell out when I used the bathroom, and mild contractions began.

After about an hour, they subsided, and I tried not to get my hopes up. My plug fell out a week before I had Austin, so I knew it could still be awhile.

We wrapped up the day with a long walk, dinner and I went to take a relaxing bath, where my contractions picked up again. They were now coming every five minutes or so, but again, faded away. I went to bed that night wondering if we would make it through the night without heading into the hospital...

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