Friday, June 26, 2015

Healthy Mom, Healthy Kids + Giveaway!

I’ve written a lot about my healthy eating goals and I’m making a lot of progress.  But what’s the one thing that’s harder than getting myself to eat good food?  Getting a two year old to eat it too!  Actually, it’s getting a two year old to eat anything other than peanut butter and goldfish.  I always offer Aiden a variety of food and I have the motto that he’ll eat if he’s hungry.  But I can’t help but stress out a little when I know he’s gone 48 hours without any veggies.  I’ll keep at it, but in the meantime I have a little trick up my sleeve that’s helped out quite a bit!

I found Re-Play items originally on Instagram.  They have great posts (@replayrecycled), you should follow them!  I was in search of a sippy cup that really didn’t spill and through their “no spill challenge,” I found one!  I also happened to be a VERY lucky winner of an Instagram contest and won their entire collection.  It came at a perfect time as I needed something to spark Aiden’s interest in food and Audrey was really taking off with solids. 

I definitely recommend trying out all of their products, but my favorites so far have been the sippy cups, bowls and divided plates.  These cups really do not spill, I swear!  Aiden accidentally slept with one all night and there was not a drop of milk in his bed the next morning.  Audrey is starting to use a cup and these have been a great transition from a bottle. 

The little bowls are perfect for mac and cheese, cottage cheese or cereal and even ice cream!  I think I’ve used these bowls for myself more than I have for the kids.

And when Aiden helped me unpack our winnings, he took an interest in the plates.  I let him pick his color for each meal and it helps him to have the food visually divided.  And it forces me to make sure and give him a variety!

Another fun fact…these products are made from recycled milk jugs!  They are safe to use (read all about that here) and are dishwasher safe.  The price point is great too.

So you’ll be seeing a lot of these plates, bowls, utensils and cups as I post more about my kids and their eating habits.  I want eating to be fun for them and for them to see it as the fuel they need to have energy.  Aiden still loves French fries and ice cream (who doesn’t?), but I’m glad to now have some help in getting him to try some new things.

And the best part of this post!  You can win a set of Re-Play products!  Their theme for July is “nautical” and they have been nice enough to offer up their nautical set to one of my readers.  All you have to do is comment on this post with your child's favorite food! This contest will run now through July 3rd and the winner will be notified July 6th.  Good luck!
Win this set!
**This giveaway is sponsored by Re-Play, but all opinions are my own!  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

33 Memories of 33 Years

I really can’t believe I’ll be 33 years old tomorrow.  That just seems so close to 40, which is crazy.  I’m not upset to age another year and I gladly tell people how old I am, it just amazes me that life is going so fast.  I try not to dwell on that.  So instead, I decided to think back on allllll of these years and choose my 33 favorite memories.  I’m sure I forgot some and these are not in any kind of order because frankly, that would take too long.  This was a fun trip down memory lane and reaffirmed the fact that I am one lucky girl (am I supposed to say woman now??).  Some of you, or maybe all of you, reading this may have been a part of these memories, so thank you! I tried to find pictures for as many as I could, I may have to update this down the road when I find more!  Enjoy this loooooong post ;).

My wedding day.  Self explanatory, but truly the most special day to have all of my loved ones in one place to celebrate and I got to marry the best guy in the whole world.  Wearing a big poufy dress was fun too.

The births of my babies.  I didn’t want to split these into two because I didn’t want them to complain to me when they are teenagers and read this and wonder why so and so was listed first.  Two moments I will never ever forget.

Aiden’s 1st birthday party.  We celebrated making it through our first year of parenting and got to surprise all of our family and close friends with the big news that Aiden would be a big brother. 

The summer after high school graduation.  Okay, now these may not be as sentimental.  Those three months were full of anxious fun and preparing for college in more ways than one.  Wink wink.

The day Andrew proposed.  I came home from taking my second Praxis exam and he was down on one knee.  The flowers, candles, music…it was all perfect.  And then, naturally, we celebrated with friends in Columbus at an 80’s roller skating party. 

My first trip to the beach.  When I was 9 (I think?  Somewhere around there…), I was lucky enough to go to Myrtle Beach with my Aunts, Uncles and cousins.  The beach was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and I will never forget rocking on the porch, watching it.  Randomly, it was also the first time I ate cantaloupe. 

Beer Olympics.  I’ve “competed” in 4 and they were all equally amazing.  If you think it’s pathetic or strange that I included these in my list of favorite memories, you obviously haven’t participated in one.  So.  Much.  Fun.

Our honeymoon.  Jamaica in December/January is something everyone should get to experience.  And bonus points for getting to do it with the love of your life.

Seeing Phantom of the Opera with my mom.  It was the first time I’d been to a big production and it was so much fun going with just my mom.  It was a rare treat for both of us and I’ll never forget the chandelier or the hot chocolate. 

A trip to Gatlinburg to celebrate 6 months.  Andrew and I went on our first vacation together and stayed in a little cabin in the mountains.  I’d love to do that again.

Jimmy Buffet concert.  From what I remember, I had a blast ;).

The beginning of our senior year of college.  Six of us lived in two double wides in Oxford.  We always had a big party at the beginning of the year and that year it seemed like we had one every weekend.  Most, if not all, occasions required dressing up or a homemade t-shirt. 

Mission Trips.  My high school youth group was amazing and they remain some of my closest friends.  It was so incredible to travel and work hard to help those in need. 

Lakeside, AKA church camp.  I truly believe these weeks shaped me into the person I am today.  I think back on these times often and love that I am still close to those who experienced it with me.

Holding my babies after surgery.  It was several long weeks before I could hold Audrey or Aiden.  I never want to wait that long again.

Spring Break – Puerto Vallarta.  Over a dozen of your friends together in an all-inclusive resort, in a gorgeous part of the world.  I’m glad I got to have this classic experience.  Not sure I could handle it now, though!

Horse Shows.  I started taking horseback riding lessons when I was 5.  I’ve always loved horses and it’s a life goal to own one someday.  I still remember riding in horse shows and of course, winning every time. 

Band camp.  Yes, I was in marching band, I played the clarinet.  I was actually pretty good.  The week we spent in the hot, humid valley in West Virginia was always a good time and just a little like the movie American Pie ;).

My first Opening Day.  I received tickets from my friends for Christmas and Andrew and I went.  The weather was perfect and I was so excited to finally experience one of the best Cincinnati traditions.

Hearing Aiden’s heartbeat for the first time.  It was our third pregnancy and the first heartbeat.  Third time’s a charm indeed.  Not sure I’ve ever felt happier.

Finding out baby #2 was a girl.  We didn’t know yet, but would soon find out that Audrey would have to be our last baby due to my pending surgery and ongoing medication.  I thank God for blessing us with a boy and a girl to help ease the “what ifs” just a little.

Green Beer Day.  The biggest holiday in Oxford, a party that starts before the sun comes up and ends way after it goes down.  I had some pretty good ones in my 4 years at Miami.

The day we found Ollie.  We somewhat randomly decided we wanted a dog and went to the Kenton County Animal Shelter right before it closed on a Saturday.  They brought him out and we immediately knew he would be our first baby.

NYC trips in high school.  New York City is such a magical place; I really wish I could go there more often.  The trips I took there in high school (with band) were a blast. 

Whitewater Rafting.  The summer after 5th grade, I went to a YMCA day camp.  Our end of summer trip was to go rafting in West Virginia.  I loved being on the water and the adrenaline rush.

My bachelorette party.  Such a fun night celebrating and the upgraded bus (complete with pole) kept things interesting.

Choosing a name for our baby girl.  We were stuck between two names and I was playfully asking Aiden what we should name his baby sister.  He wasn’t talking very clearly yet, but clear as day he repeated, Audrey.  I melted and we had a name.

Lifeguarding.  I was a lifeguard for four summers in inner city Cincinnati.  It was the perfect summer job and I loved the kids we saw everyday.  I still pray for them and hope they followed their dreams that they so often talked about.

My first trip to California.  Although she’s so far away, I’m glad one of my best friends moved to California and gave me a reason to visit.  I’m ready to go back!

Officially becoming a teacher.  After 8 years of working in education and looking for a teaching job off and on, getting that phone call was one of the most rewarding moments of my life. 

Italy trip in high school.  Because I went to the best high school ever and was crazy enough to take Latin AP, I had the opportunity to go to Italy the summer after 10th grade.  I wish I would have appreciated it more, but I do have 20 rolls of film to look back on.

The day after each of my surgeries, especially this past one.  Relief, gratitude and the prospect of a healthier future.

Being home with my kids.  I realize this isn’t one specific memory, but as I wrote these, I came to the quick realization that most did not include Aiden and Audrey.  Now Aiden is only two and Audrey 9 months, but I still felt bad.  Life has been different these past two years, it’s not filled with events or trips, and that’s okay.  In 33 more years, I know I’ll look back and remember the simple moments of kisses, wiping muddy hands and splashing in the tub.  Life is full of different seasons and while it’s fun to look back and remember the previous ones, it’s just as important to appreciate the one you’re in right now.  33 is looking pretty darn good. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

SAHM - What the heck is that?

If you’re not a mom and/or don’t frequent mom Facebook pages and blogs, you may not know what SAHM stands for.  Soon after I had Aiden, a friend added me to a large group on Facebook, made up of moms, where you can ask for advice or really anything and you’re sure to get some feedback.  I would read some of the posts and see things like LO, DH, SAHM, STTN, FTM…I felt like I needed a cheat sheet.  SAHM, though, was one I picked up on quickly – Stay at Home Mom.

Growing up, I was always so envious of the kids who had moms that didn’t work.  As a single mom, mine didn’t have a choice and while I spent most of my time with my grandma and family, there was nothing quite like the time I spent with just my mom. 

My perception of these SAHMs has changed over the past year.  When Andrew and I decided to have kids, I never thought I’d stay home with them, I always assumed I’d have to keep working.  I always thought women who were able to stay home with their kids had husbands with very lucrative jobs and didn’t have the added stress of a tight budget.  I’m sure this is the case for some families but what I’ve discovered is - most are like me. 

We haven’t made any decisions about after this next school year, but for now I am home full time with the kids.  This choice is both equal part gift and sacrifice.  I take that back.  It’s 75% gift and 25% sacrifice.  Some days that balance feels different, but overall I see it as the best gift ever to be able to be with my babies as much as I am.  I know there are moms who would do anything to stay home, but just can’t.  My mom was one of them.  I also know there are moms who love to work and that doesn’t mean they love their kids any less.  I am absolutely aware that every family is different and we all have our own gifts and sacrifices.

Recently, for whatever reason, I’ve allowed my mind to focus more on the sacrifices than the gifts.  I’ve gotten caught up in cute summer clothes, exotic vacations I see pictures of, remodeled houses…I start to feel like I need these things too.  I start to feel like I’m missing out and stuck in a rut.  The sacrifice of choosing to be home right now is real.  We watch our budget very closely and I simply cannot spend without careful consideration.  But I can’t seem to shove the “I want” list out of my head. 

So here’s what I’m doing about it.  Whenever this feeling creeps up, I look at my kids.  Or if it’s a rare moment they are both asleep, I look at a picture.  I literally count my blessings.  I tell myself to stop acting like a spoiled brat and look at this wonderful life I am leading.  Everyone always says…”If only I had (fill in the blank), then I’d be happy.”  That’s such a lie.  You only want something else.  I only wanted a baby.  Then I only wanted another.  I wanted to recover from surgery.  I wanted to be home with my kids.  It’s time to stop.  I have everything I could ever need, what a gift.  While I still feel like I’m searching for some path that has not been found yet, I am going to keep counting my blessings and delete my “things I’d like to have” list on my phone.  (Yes, I know it’s pathetic that I have this.) 

Some days SAHM stands for – Sometimes Andrea Has Meltdowns.  But most days, it stands for See Andrea Have Memories.  Memories I am making with my kids, with my family, that will always mean more to me than anything else I'll ever want.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Bucket List 2015

Last summer, I made a bucket list for Aiden and I, since it would be the last summer when I could focus on just him.  He wasn’t even a year and a half yet, so while the list was a good one, I know he will get even more enjoyment out of activities this year! And we have Audrey to share in the fun!  I’ve been thinking of things that we haven’t done yet and also some developmental milestones I’d like to work toward with Aiden.  He will be going to Pre-School for a couple half days in the fall (more on that later), so the teacher in me wants him to be prepared - in a non-pushy, let’s make learning fun kind of way, of course ;).  So here it is…I’m sure it won’t all happen and things will be added, but it’s a good start :).

1. Check out Blue Marble Books in Ft. Thomas.  They have a real life “Great Green Room” from Goodnight Moon, and after recently meeting the owner, I’d love to check it out.
2. The Splash Park at Miami Whitewater
3. Teach the ABC song to Aiden.
4. Ride a horse/pony (this one is for Aiden AND me ;))  I’m thinking this may be able to happen at Parky’s Farm.
5. Do as many of the items on the Cincinnati Moms Blog Bucket List.  That list can be found here.
6. Go to a “Day Out with Thomas.”  I might be the most excited about this one.  I bought tickets the day they went on sale and it’s not until the end of August.  I’m pretty sure I will cry when I see Aiden’s face when he gets his first glimpse of the REAL Thomas the Train.
7. Don’t turn on the TV for one whole day each week.
8. Ride a boat.  This one will be taken care of when we head to Wisconsin in July!
9. Play at the playground at Lunken Airport and eat lunch outside to watch the airplanes.
10. Try out The Red Balloon Café + Play.

It’s not a long list but I think it’s a good one.  Finding activities for a two year old and not quite one year old is not an easy task and I have to make sure I can handle it on my own!  We’ll definitely spend lots of time at the zoo and our pool too.  Above all, I really want to soak up this time with my babies.  Summer has always been my favorite time of year and I look forward to making many special memories!