Life Lately

I usually write in the evenings when the girls are in bed but I just didn’t have it in me last night. And so now I punch out these words while I allow the girls to make an absolute mess of my living room. Ah such is life.

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I love how well the girls play together. What an amazing gift to have a friend for life. Sisters truly are the best. They don’t always see eye-to-eye but it is just fun to watch them interact and grow together.

A lot of disappointing things happened over the weekend but none that threaten our life or joy, so as the old adage goes: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And that was my plan for our usual weekend catch up post. I wasn’t planning to write one at all. But while surfing through the photos on my phone I wanted to add a few tidbits from the weekend.

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It was disappointing circumstances that brought us to Charlotte Saturday morning, but while we were there we decided to make the best of it and treat it as a date.

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Bagels and juice.

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Saturday night was also fun. I made this great pizza recipe from Daily Garnish and then we headed out for the food trucks in downtown Mooresville to snack. We learned the hard way not to plan our whole dinner around food trucks. We usually end up hangry standing in long lines. So now we just go for snacks. We shared a plate of hand cut potato fries and deep fried Oreos.

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Sunday night we capped off the weekend with a glass of red wine and this amazing dessert. You must run out immediately and make a skillet cookie! I topped ours with coconut milk whip cream.

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Instagram-worthy shot versus how we really ate the thing:

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That’s all folks. Hope you had a great weekend and the stress of back-to-school isn’t getting to you. We were treated with nicer temps yesterday and I can smell Fall in the near future. I know this is a stressful time for many but I’m just excited for the change of seasons and the promise of things to come!

Meal Plan Monday: finding my groove

This week’s meal plan included some incredibly delicious meals! I focused on easy meals that would create lots of leftovers and they turned out amazing.

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Sunday: Zucchini Lasagna

Monday: Chicken Foil Packets

Tuesday: Potato Salad and Hard Boiled Eggs

Wednesday: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Thursday: Chicken Sausage with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

Friday: Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers with roasted broccoli Leftovers

Sunday– this was one of the few meals that took a bit of preparation. Alex was home and helped me slice the zucchini and brown the meat so I could make the tofu ricotta. Once all the components were prepped I assembled this lasagna by layering sliced zucchini, pasta sauce, ground beef and tofu ricotta in layers. This recipe would work, only I used store bought sauce and tofu ricotta instead of cashew ricotta.

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Monday– This was probably one of the easiest meals I have made in a long time. I threw the chicken in the foil packet with artichokes and Italian dressing and prepared brown rice on the side. Let it all cook and voila! Foil Packets for the win.

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Tuesday– I felt like a cheater not making a “main dish” to accompany the potato salad but then I decided I didn’t care and served everyone some of our Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs with the salad. We all loved the pickles in this recipe!

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WednesdayThis recipe took a little work to make the dressing but it was totally worth it. Homemade Caesar dressing > store bought! At the last minute I decided not to toss in the Romaine lettuce and added roasted broccoli instead. Because roasted broccoli is > Romaine! We had tons of leftovers of this meal which is awesome for lunches. And both the girls totally chowed down. Given they haven’t had pasta in months I am not surprised!

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Thursday– Our go to week night meal. I worked an extra shift Thursday night so Alex was on his own to make dinner and feed the girls. Chicken sausage with sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts is one of our favorite 30 minute or less meals and the girls love it! We use Aidell’s Chicken Sausage in this meal. The apple flavor is especially good with sweet potatoes.

Friday– I really didn’t want to cook at all but resisted the urge to go out to eat. This is why having a meal plan is so key. Having everything I need in the fridge ready to go helps motivate me to stick to the plan. I pulled myself off the couch and tossed in all the veggies to roast in preparation for these veggie burgers and then my oven malfunctioned. I still have no idea what happened although the landlord claims it is fixed. In 10 minutes in the oven my vegetables looked like this. Not burned so much as smoked with toxic gas and fumes. Dinner fail. So instead we ate all the leftovers and carrots and guac and some pickles on the side. I was upset we wasted food, but even more upset that I wasted the energy to wash, peel and chop all the veggies!

Here is my weekly grocery list for the week including everything I needed to make these meals plus all the extras we use for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.

  • 1 lb Organic grass-fed ground beef
  • 2 packages Aidell’s Smoked Apple Chicken Sausage
  • 4 lbs Organic chicken breast (split between two meals)
  • bacon
  • 2 18 pack eggs
  • 2 lbs baby red potatoes
  • 6 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 2 ears of corn
  • basil
  • Brussels sprouts
  • ~4 lbs broccoli
  • 6 lbs bananas (we eat a ton of bananas!)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • extra light tasting olive oil (for mayo/Caesar dressing)
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • Romaine
  • baby carrots (2 lbs)
  • tomatoes
  • celery
  • red bell pepper
  • cucumber
  • lemons
  • 3 avocado
  • 1 lime
  • bread and butter pickles
  • dill pickle spears
  • anchovies
  • artichoke hearts quartered
  • walnuts
  • Italian dressing
  • gluten free pasta
  • frozen sweet peas
  • frozen fruit (for smoothies)
  • cashew milk
  • dishwasher soap

Our shopping total this week through Walmart online was $144. I am proud to say that we only ventured into Publix once this week and that was for a box of cereal, more milk, and a bottle of wine. I think staying out of the grocery store is going to be my number one way to stick to the budget in the coming weeks! Especially with fall approaching and all the pumpkin flavored everything!

 

A morning in Charlotte with kids

Want a fun place to play with your tots? We explored ImaginOn yesterday morning and had a blast.

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Getting there was not a blast, however. Dumb 77 traffic gets us every time. I’m incredibly frustrated by this highway and feel like it takes away all the joy of living close to a big(ish) city. Getting to Charlotte is now such an ordeal! It is crazy to think that we are now making life plans that revolve around the traffic on this road and to know that it won’t be any better for a very long time (if ever) is highly disappointing.

Rant over. When we finally got through the traffic that held us up over an hour it was smooth sailing to ImaginOn. This unique library/museum is a haven for toddlers and moms. It is free (!) and incredibly fun. This summer’s open exhibit is The Adventure’s of Mr. Potato Head and my girls absolutely loved it.

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We arrived around 9:30 and walked right into the Mr. Potato Head exhibit. Our friends Amanda and Piper came along too (thank goodness for friends who will brave traffic) and we all got to work creating our own versions of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. I think Eleanor could have stayed here all morning playing! I finally peeled her away so we could check out the rest of the exhibit. There were so many fun and interactive stations that a 3-year old could easily be entertained for hours. However, we only had about an hour to play before story time and that was the perfect amount for my 1 1/2 year old.

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Story time in the library wasn’t much different than story time at our local library but the girls had a blast anyway. One of our favorite weekly activities is going to the library so it was awesome we got to do story time twice this week. After about 30 minutes of songs and books and activities we all walked over to 7th Street Public Market for snacks. Amanda and I each enjoyed a cappuccino from Not Just Coffee and we loaded up on muffins, croissants and pretzels (carb loading) from Local Loaf. The market quickly filled up with lunch goers. The public market is so different than anything we have in Mooresville that it was incredibly fun to just sit and people watch.

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Nap time was creeping up so we headed out. I still had a few errands to run on the way home and of course we had traffic to contend with. Still it was an incredibly fun morning out of Mooresville. My stir-crazy ways needed to hit the highway this week even if we were only crawling along it.

 

 

 

A case of the Tuesdays?


I have a case of the Tuesdays. That’s a thing right? My attitude has been off all day and while I’d like to blame it on my children I know it’s me. The morning started off with a bit of pouting from my three-year old and it drove me crazy and instead of moving on and getting over it I decided to dwell in my self-pity…being a mom is hard, demeaning, ungrateful work. Nobody helps me with this and that, I’m all alone, I’m a servant, a slave. That kind of dialogue plagued my mind and ruined my morning.

A few things helped to turn it around…I ignored my children for about an hour and read a book. The girls terrorized the house while I happily sat on the couch doing nothing but read. Second, food. I ate my breakfast (finally) while my children watched, surely wanting a bite but too afraid to ask because mommy might really lose it then. Bless them. I was hangry. And last, while they ate their lunch I turned on a book to listen to and cooked dinner, once again basically ignoring them.

The irony is not lost on me that yesterday I was declaring how much I hate cooking and today it was my stress reliever. In the course of 45 minutes I whipped up a potato salad, Dump Mayo because I realized I used it all in the potato salad recipe but wanted some for the BLT I’m about to make for myself; then decided that while the food processor was dirty I might as well mix the Caesar dressing for tomorrow’s dinner. And last I boiled eggs to go with the potato salad for tonight’s meal. After I got the girls down from lunch I made them clean up the living room and get ready for their nap while I cleaned the kitchen. Now the kitchen sparkles, dinner is already to go and the girls are in their beds and it is only 12:30!

Can I also mention probably the number one thing that made my day…Eleanor made her bed. When I requested the girls pick up their toys from the living room in preparation for naps Eleanor went in her room and folded all the blankets, straightened the pillows and essentially made her bed. When I realized what she did I nearly cried. Making the beds is my number one way to feel better about the way my house looks and Eleanor went in and did it all on her own. I’ve never even asked her to do this before. She knew mommy needed it!


On Tuesdays I have been in the habit of writing about our weekend activities since I post our meal plan on Mondays. But today I’m a bit off track and just writing about the past 5 hours since we woke up. Admittedly it has been a hard day already but I’m now ready to turn that around and hopefully pay a little more attention to my sweet girls this afternoon…after they nap of course!

 

Slow Summer Weekend

The biggest highlight of the weekend was the start of the Olympics. We stayed up late Friday night watching the opening ceremonies. Thank goodness USA came through alphabetically in the E’s so I could go to bed. Pretty much every day since, the Olympics has dominated our time. We wake up in the morning and turn it on. We hold our tired eyes open late at night to catch gymnastics and swimming. Gosh I love the Olympics!

After sitting on my butt all morning Saturday watching athletes race around, we finally decided it was time to hit the gym. I left the house with my weakest sports bra on and a regular old t-shirt because I wasn’t entirely convinced I would do anything besides scrolling Instagram while walking on the treadmill. As providence would have it, we arrived at the gym right as a cycle class was beginning. I stared through the window looking in having the debate to go in or not. A girl walked right up behind and said, “Oh just go in!” It was as if she read my mind…or my contemplative face.

You never regret a work out, right? I was happy it was over but I was also happy I did it. I would not have pushed myself to work so hard on my own. Alex was finishing up on the treadmill when the class was over and we gathered our girls from child care and headed out to complete errands.

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The night before I sent Alex out to buy dessert and his car broke down! I guess that should teach me not to need dessert every single night. So Saturday after the gym we jumped his car and drove it to the shop. It was due for several other maintenance issues so we decided it was an omen to take care of those things. We also picked up our groceries (gotta love online shopping!) before we were home to shower for the day. We headed right back out so I could take Alex to work and then back home for a lunch play date with our friends Chrissy and Savannah.

We hodge podged a meal out of all the leftovers in her fridge and mine while the girls ran around and played. Before naps the girls all had a smoothie pop outside on the patio. When we make smoothies I try to save a little extra to pour into molds in the freezer for just an occasion as this. Healthy kid dessert. I actually can’t stand to eat cold popsicles but the girls love them!

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Alex and I had grand ideas to get out of the house Saturday night, but after a long afternoon at work for him, and not enough sleep the night before for anyone, we decided to stay in, watch more Olympics, and have a good dinner.

You know the routine Sundays…breakfast, church, lunch and naps. Since we have so much time between the girls waking up (6:30am) and church (10:30am) I decided to give my new curling wand ($8.50 at Target!!) another go. I feel like I really figured it out and I got so many compliments all day! I felt like a mermaid! Now I just need to figure out how women make their curls last more than one day. After I sleep on them I’m not so in love anymore. Also I work out nearly everyday and they just can’t survive boot camp!

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After church we decided to eat out since we had to take Alex to work again. I had delicious burger with peach salsa and goat cheese with sweet potato fries. We have to reign in our eating out and spending to stay on budget this month! I’m just so tired of cleaning the kitchen.

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Back at home the girls took great naps while I watched cycling and spent the afternoon perusing Rent the Runway (<-affiliate link) for dresses for an upcoming black tie wedding. I’m getting so excited for a long weekend away from the girls with Alex and his family!

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Sunday night concluded with more Olympics and a delicious dinner that Alex cooked. Ever since he offered to cook a meal a few weeks ago I have been passing off cooking duties more and more. I am just incredibly burned out on cooking and need a break desperately! The Whole 30 requires so much prep work to keep four people fed. We were up until midnight watching the women’s gymnastics so that made for a rough start to our Monday. I can’t help myself when it comes to gymnastics!

What is your favorite Olympic sport?

Meal Plan Monday- Letting go of the Whole 30

MEAL PLAN

We are done with the Whole 30 and opening up the menu to a few new foods while still trying to maintain our healthy eating ways. Quite honestly healthy meals have never been the problem for us, it is all the snacking in between. This week alone I think we managed to eat ice cream four times! But all that is beside the point…here is last week’s eats:

Sunday: Turkey Tacos

Monday: Dinner out at Smoke Modern BBQ

Tuesday: Dinner out at Duckworth’s

Wednesday: Buffalo Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Thursday: Cauliflower Fried Rice

Friday: Crockpot Salsa Chicken Salads

Saturday: Sloppy Joe Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Sunday was the most relaxing day I have had in quite some time. Alex didn’t have to work and I really stepped back and let him handle most kid duties all day. We attended church and a birthday party and yet it still felt like a day off for me. He cooked all the meals and changed all the diapers. A quick meal of ground turkey tacos made it easy for him to do all the things. No recipe, just ground turkey, taco seasoning, salsa, lettuce and tomato.

Because of our unexpected Staycation we ended up eating way more than normal. I had originally planned to make spaghetti squash and meat sauce for Monday night’s dinner. Instead I cooked it ahead and brought it to the hotel with us so we would all have food for lunch the next day without having to eat out.


Wednesday I used up the rest of our sauce from the Buffalo Chicken recipe last week. I also made another batch of Dump Ranch and piled shredded carrots, tofu and diced tomatoes into a lettuce wrap. On the side I made sweet potatoes (surprise, surprise).


Thursday‘s dinner was a mash up by Alex and me. I prepared the cauliflower rice in the food processor ahead of time (so stinky!) and he fried it up with a few eggs, peas and carrots and Coconut Aminos. It’s a quick and easy meal and we make it so frequently that it is more a “throw together” sort of dish. But if you are looking for a recipe try this great one: Cauliflower Fried Rice

Friday was another family staple. We love this quick dish and it is another “throw together” meal. I toss chicken breasts in the crockpot with a can of salsa and slow cook all day. We use the chicken to top a salad of romaine, tomato, cucumber, guacamole and pico de gallo. Sometimes I will also grill up peppers and onions to include. We call this our “Chipotle at Home” meal.



Saturday was a crowd favorite. I used this Sloppy Joe recipe and just stuffed it inside a sweet potato. Can you see how much we love sweet potatoes around here? Fun fact: with both my pregnancies I could not stomach sweet potatoes. I couldn’t even look at a raw one without gagging a little. They are and always have been my favorite food except for those strange and hormonal periods of time.


I have found a great way to meal plan each week. I start on Pinterest where I surf through my Made it and Loved it, Dinner Ideas, and Whole 30 dinner boards. I then pick meals based on the meat (I try not to repeat meats too many times in a week) and cost. I repin the chosen recipes under my board This Week. I rarely use cook books anymore and rely solely on Pinterest for meal ideas. This system allows me to quickly find the recipes I need or to pass off cooking to Alex because he knows where to go to find the recipes. Once I have pulled up all my chosen recipes for the week, I hop over to grocery.walmart.com where I order our weekly groceries and choose a pick up time. Most of the time I order groceries Friday night and pick up on Saturday morning after I leave the gym. This cuts back on eating out on weekends because our kitchen is stocked.

Last week’s grocery bill came in right at $95. We also spent about $50 at Target on other foods like milk, lemons, apples, tomato sauce and cereal. On top of that we spent about $100 eating out last week so it was a very expensive week of meals! I’m still working on getting our budget down but even this week’s Walmart bill is $145 and it’s still possible I will need to pick up supplies for lunches and snacks. I think a more realistic target would be $150 and I will just need to be diligent.

What is your weekly grocery budget and how many mouths are you feeding? I swear our girls eat more than Alex and me! They are and always have been amazing eaters.

Staycation in Huntersville, NC

My uncle came to town this week for a work training and stayed in Huntersville. We were looking forward to spending quality time with him and getting together for dinners after work but right before he arrived he called with a generous offer. He suggested we stay at the hotel using his points so the girls and I could enjoy swimming in the pool and getting out of the house for a few days. Initially the offer sounded a bit wacky. We only live a few miles up the interstate and we planned to spend plenty of time with him anyway. But then I remembered how much I have been itching to get out of town the past few weeks and I thought it sounded like a bit of random fun for our week.


I quickly discussed with Alex, then packed and arranged for my shifts at boot camp to be covered and we were off for a mini staycation. While Alex and Uncle Joey were at work during the day, the girls and I settled in for plenty of TV watching, vending machine snacking, and swimming in the pool. Because we were in Huntersville we also explored a few new-to-us parks and Birkdale Village.

Monday night we checked in to the hotel and met up with my uncle and we all headed to Smoke Modern BBQ for dinner. We have been talking about checking out this place for a while and jumped at the opportunity. The girls had BBQ chicken plates from the kid’s menu and the three adults shared an order of the ribs and the combo with brisket and sausage. We ordered the corn muffins, bacon wrapped shrimp and burnt ends as appetizers. We had so much food but not many leftovers which meant we all basically waddled out of the restaurant full of all the delicious BBQ. I’m so happy we finally made it there because the food was excellent. And it was half-price wine night!


Tuesday morning the girls and I jumped up and headed downstairs for breakfast. We feasted at the buffet before making our way to Birkdale for coffee and activities. We started at the fountains and I let the girls splash around for about an hour before they changed clothes and we headed to Barnes and Noble for lots of reading.

I may have mentioned it before but I started teaching Eleanor to read and it has been so much fun. She is a great student and I am so amazed and proud to watch her learn letters and sounds and words and sentences. Some of our favorite resources for reading:

The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers

Now I’m Reading! Level 1: Playful Pals (NIR! Leveled Readers)

Back at the hotel we ate lunch that I packed from home and we all took a glorious three hour nap! I originally tried to get on the computer to work but the internet wouldn’t cooperate so I finally gave in and slept. It was the perfect staycation treat!

After we napped the girls and I went for a swim in the hotel’s outdoor pool and once the men were home from work we ventured out for dinner again. We ate at one of our favorite local places: Duckworth’s. I opted for a simple Caprese Salad for my entree since I filled up on all the appetizers. On our way home we stopped at Whole Foods for dairy free ice cream and wine. I also grabbed a Kombucha and Larabar for breakfast.


Tuesday morning we ate breakfast at a leisurely pace, watched PBS Kids and packed our bags. Ruthie had a doctor’s appointment which was conveniently in Huntersville and we stopped at Robbins Park on our way. The girls were brave climbing all over the tree house play structure and I just did my best not to yell out “Careful!” too many times (hashtag helicopter mom).


After a quick stop at a consignment store (where I found a set of the Bob books for $6!) and we were back in Mooresville and our little staycation was over. I honestly thought we would do so much more in the two days we had but barely made it through my list of ideas. If you find yourself in Huntersville with toddlers and time to kill, here are some other great options:

Have you taken your family on a staycation? What fun tourist attractions exist in your area?

disclaimer: affiliate links contained in this post.
Gymboree Sale On Now!

Thoughts on the Whole 30 with kids

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We just wrapped up a round of Whole 30 in the Kummerow house and the results are in…

Alex lost all of the weight he put on in the past year since he added meat back to his diet and he looks and feels healthier than ever! I am so proud of him because to my knowledge he didn’t cheat at all! My hero!

I on the other hand cheated a ton! I know, I know…technically with the Whole 30 you should start over at day 1 if you cheat at all so I am not quite a success story. However, it jump started better eating habits and I feel much better after completing this round. I lost the “vacation pounds” I put on in Chicago and I am at a very comfortable, for me, weight. All my clothes fit. I feel great. I am in wonderful shape. And I know that if I would just stick with it a few more months I could get these last pesky 5 pounds off. But right now I’m just trying to balance all things and because I’m healthy and my clothes fit, I’m really not that worried. I’m even sporting a bikini at the pool this summer!

Just for fun…

BikiniBody

cred: huffingtonpost.com

The kids were obviously not in this to lose any weight, however we actually started this round for them. While in Chicago we were dealing with some pretty bad digestion issues with Eleanor and Ruthie. I wanted to clear their diets of dairy and gluten and a few other things to try to resolve the issues. The Whole 30 seemed like a straight forward way to get many of the high-allergen and inflammatory foods out of their diets. While we haven’t entirely figured out the source of their issues I will share with you some of the benefits we have found putting our kids on the Whole 30.

After the initial shock of “you can’t have all of these things anymore” they actually received it very well. Not once has Eleanor complained or whined for food she couldn’t have. We make sure to pack snacks that the girls are allowed to eat if we know we will be somewhere that is offering food, but I was shocked to find that the girls didn’t beg for foods that were off limits.

And now they now eat ANYTHING we offer! We do not fight dinner time anymore. Anything I put on their plate is gobbled up in a second. Removing most snacking has also helped this issue. They still have favorites and foods that they will eat first. Our rule is you don’t get seconds of anything until you have eaten everything on your plate. Most of the time they follow the rule without any complaint and then quickly ask for seconds of whatever they liked best on their plate at that meal.

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Deconstructed Honey Mustard Chicken Salads

It was so much easier to say no to all the processed junk food since the answer was always no. We taught Eleanor early on to ask before eating anything while we were out. We actually didn’t want to make her fully aware of what we were doing although she quickly caught on to the “no dairy” and “no gluten” from just hearing us talk to others about the Whole 30. But by teaching her to just ask before eating anything and also that we only eat what we bring, we hoped it could be a long term solution for controlling more of what the girls eat at this stage of life.

Many people claim that when children eat healthier they have better attitudes and less mood swings, but honestly we did not experience this. Eleanor can throw a mean three year old tantrum, and really Ruthie has the tantrums down as well. We did not notice any difference in their behavior before and after except during meal times. We used to fight them to eat dinner and to eat what was given to them. Now they just eat without complaint.


Doing the Whole 30 with kids isn’t easy. It took a ton of prep work, cooking, planning, and executing to make it all happen. The girls were always hungry and it was difficult to keep up with their appetites. We didn’t see an absolute change in their digestion issues so for now we are relaxing the diet a little while keeping them off dairy and gluten. We have a pediatrician appointment this week. I hope to gain a little guidance for next steps. Regardless of health issues, I believe this to be a very healthy and sustainable way of feeding toddlers. We have reset our family’s eating habits and I hope to maintain our healthy eating ways.

Parenting Three Year Olds

Everyone said three was harder than two.  I believed them fully. But I didn’t know just how hard it would get.

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I feel like someone has stolen my happy little girl and replaced her with this emotional roller coaster. I can’t stay on top of the mood swings and the fits have me wanting to walk right out the door. I tip toe around everything, spell things out and avoid so many things simply because I’m afraid of the meltdown that will ensue. Somedays feel like one big fight from beginning to end. And I wonder if Eleanor’s life is any fun at all. How can being three be so incredibly hard?

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I try to do fun things with her and it winds up hard and bad. I plan fun days and they end up all trouble. I reserve special treats for her and it always ends up in a fit. The more I try the worse it seems. I am consistent and fair and loving and everything is wrong. I am angry and threatening and I count to three and it is still all wrong. And I take a look around us and I can’t remember if Eleanor has smiled all day long. She whines when she wakes up in the morning, she fights anything we give her for breakfast, bed time is a nightmare and eating dinner never happens. I keep her on a schedule to help her adjust her expectations and it blows up. I try to be spontaneous and fun and that never works. I am failing miserably. All. The. Time.

Playing with friends is hard. But not having playdates is apparently a crime. Communication sucks. Negotiation is impossible. Compromise is non-existent. And crying is happening all the time.

Honestly, I think we are just in a down swing right now. We have been traveling so much lately. The girls just had a terrible cold with fevers and coughs. It was a holiday weekend with visitors and too many sweets and not enough sleep. It has been a perfect storm of environmental factors and three-year old tantrums. I miss my little girl. I feel like we haven’t really seen each other in weeks.  And I wonder when we will just be ok again. When will we start having fun again?

Parenting is so damn hard. Every day I count the mistakes I make. And even when I am not blatantly making a mistake I’m wondering if my choices and actions are right or wrong. There isn’t enough black and white in parenting. There are too many gray areas. It all feels so hard right now. And I’m just wondering when it is going to get easier.

Five Ways to be a Better Friend

five ways to be a better friend

I have been giving thought to my friendships lately. Honestly, I have been feeling a little unsatisfied and kept thinking that my friends were the problem. I am so naive. This weekend I did a little soul-searching and decided to take the thorn out of my own eye (Matthew 7:5) and realized that I am the one who is creating problems. As I lay awake in bed last night I kept thinking about ways I could be a better friend to others. I tend to lean towards giving as my way of showing love to others, because after all that is my love language and how I enjoy receiving love. However, I realize everyone speaks different love languages and I needed to reach out of my comfort zone to reenergize my friendships. Here is what I came up with:

1. Listen. Being a good a conversationalist is key to being a good friend. But being good at conversation doesn’t just mean telling great stories or carrying on the talk. It means stopping to listen and really hear what is being said. In conversation, I all too often skip ahead at the next thing to say to keep the ball rolling instead of waiting and really listening. In my head I am playing out the next story line and I miss important parts of what my friend is saying. This also causes me to interrupt my friends. Interrupting shows that we aren’t interested or do not care about what others are saying. While I don’t intend to do this, it is the message that is sent.

Another mistake we make in conversations with friends (and spouses, and even kids) is to assume we have the answer, or give advice. Sometimes others are just venting, and many times they know the answer or solution but just need to talk it out. Alex and I are reading the book How to Talk so Kids will Listen… and the tools it teaches can apply to adults as well. Helping others find their own solutions through naming feelings, or simply listening with a “yeah” every now again will show that we are interested and care, without taking over the conversation.

2. Don’t Keep Score. Alright, I will admit to holding a grudge or two in the past. And I realized I was kinda doing this. I had my feelings hurt a couple of times and I was letting the wrongs stack up against me. None of the instances were big enough to even bring to the attention of my friends, yet I was letting them build up to something bigger instead of moving on. This is a fatal move in all types of relationships. If it’s not worth talking out then it’s not worth thinking about. We are forgiven sinners and forgiving others, even if they didn’t know their actions upset you, is so important. So today I am choosing to let it go.

3. Don’t be the Debbie Downer. Am I about to admit to this one too? Yes, I am. I am the complainer. I am the one who will tell the 15 minute long story about how my kids didn’t sleep last night instead of just mentioning it and moving on. Everyone around me must also feel the pain I am experiencing.  Too often this is me. Enough! I think I fell into this trap when I became pregnant. And pregnancy was the WORST! And so I let it known. And I got used to this. The problem is, others don’t necessarily appreciate this negativity. And I truly believe God doesn’t appreciate it either. I complain about the bad things and fail to acknowledge the great things. In this way, I am really no fun to be around and am not bringing glory to God who has blessed me so abundantly. Here’s how I can turn this around:

Debbie Downer: Oh My Gah! My kids did not sleep last night. Ruthie was up every two hours to nurse and on top of that Eleanor was crying and I was up and down with her all night too!! Ahh!

Glorifying God: The kids were rotten and didn’t give me much sleep last night. But God is watching over me. I have faith that there is enough rest to get me through this day and even to be patient with my kids.

4. Don’t Give Up. It is in my nature to run when things get hard. When a job gets too tough I want to leave. When the kids wear on me all day I want nothing more to get in the car and drive as fast as I can (or as fast as the speed limit will allow) just to be free. I think this is what motivates me to ride my bike or run. The feeling of being free and moving fast. Well when things get tough in social settings I just want to remove myself altogether. Maybe find new friends, maybe just become a hermit. But that’s not fair to myself or my friends. Rather than run, this is a good opportunity to let God work on my character and mold me into a better friend and a better person. It’s also a great example to set for my daughters about how to work through tough times and build lasting relationships.

5. Be Yourself. Oh yes. This one. I bring this one up because it is easy to change who we are over time to fit our surroundings. While being friends with others, it is possible to lose a little bit of yourself. It is even possible to say and do things that are not true to who you are. This is me. To fit in or to carry on conversations I find myself saying things that I’m not sure I really wanted to say. I talk myself in circles trying to discover what I really mean. And then I realize I don’t believe what I am saying at all. Being pregnant was especially hard one me (there I go complaining again) and I feel like I lost a little bit of me in that. It was hard to regain myself in those first few months after Ruthie was born, but now I find that I am ready. I am trying to pay attention to what is most important to me and represent these things in the way I talk to others.

I recently read an article about how to raise kind children. The answer (spoiler alert) is to be a kind person. As a mom, I am discovering that my every action and word is being watched by my children. Living with a two year old (AKA a parrot) is a constant reminder to be a better person, a better wife, a better mom and even a better friend. The way I work through conflict, build relationships and treat others will be the way my daughters learn to do these things. Character building is important for me, but also important for them.

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top image credit: freedigitalphotos.net

family photo credit: Sadie Culberson