Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Favorites

A couple of weeks ago I shared my first Friday Favorites post with this disclaimer.  While these are some of my favorite posts on other sites, I still always wonder how these people buy all of these things!  The truth is, they probably don't, just as I don't have all of the things on my list.  So basically, we are all just doing free marketing for these companies! ;)  But anyway, no more explaining myself...let's get to the fun stuff!  And it is Friday after all, and even though it's been a long few days with a sick little one, I am ready for the weekend!

I don't make much time for TV anymore, but I do follow Downton Abbey.  I am equally anxious and excited to see how it all ends and while I wish nothing but happy endings, I have a feeling something tragic will happen!

A couple of months ago I scored my first pair of Victoria's Secret leggings for FREE!  They had a "Buy a sports bra, get a free workout pant" sale, so I found the cheapest sports bra (which I also really like) and ended up getting both for $40!  I am watching carefully for more sales, because I want to wear these everyday.  But don't expect my butt to say PINK anytime soon ;).

Two recipes I have tried this past week and loved.  These energy bites (recipe in the picture below) are from Ashley at Naturally Nati Fitness.  She rocks, has a great blog and works at my old high school!  I also made another "Facebook recipe" as I like to call them.  The Hasselback Chicken was fairly easy and can be made with a lot of variations.  Highly recommend!

Staying in the food family, I think I can finally stand to eat plain greek yogurt.  I would always read articles that say to just add fruit and it'll taste great!  Well, not quite.  But, it does taste great with a drizzle of honey, some cinnamon and granola!

I am a bit ashamed to mention this one, but if/when I start wearing them this summer, at least I will have already eaten my words.  Last year I totally made fun of the Birkenstock trend coming back and reminisced about wearing them in middle school.  Well, I was drooling over the Athleta catalog and I think they've sold me.  I especially like these white ones.  And as a friend pointed out, we are getting older and at least they have good arch support! (yikes!)

I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tackling a Plateau

I'm not sure if I've reached a plateau, or if I'm just being too lenient on my daily calories... probably a little of both.  Either way, I've been at about the same weight now for almost a month and know I need to make some adjustments.  I've come a long way - I'm down 70+ pounds, 4 pant sizes and feel SO much better than I did a year ago.  But I'm not "finished."  I put that in quotation marks because I definitely do not want to imply that when I reach my goal weight, I will just stop this journey and go back to old habits.  I have definitely adopted a lifelong lifestyle here and have no intensions of going back, just making new goals.  

I've been working out more, but I've recently found it to be easier.  I'm obviously building strength and my body is doing things I never thought it could do.  So it's time to step it up a notch.  I tried to incorporate more running, but without being able to do it outside, and not having a double jogging stroller, it's been challenging.  I'm making sure to push it when it comes to weight in strength training and I'm going to do one session of Tabata on the weekend, using the app Tabata Pro.  I love this style of workout and I can do it from home while the kids are playing.  My body is telling me it needs a change up with the workouts, so I'm going to listen.

Oh how I debated posting this.  Don't love the picture, but love that my body can now do this exercise!
I know the culprit when it comes to eating - sugar.  I wrote about this recently and I'm going to try and eliminate all added sugar for the month of March.  I do not plan to (or want to) give up sugar forever, but a month break may be a good way to adjust my sweet tooth.  And there are so many great ways to still have it naturally!  I'll share a few of those recipes soon, and I'll be sure to let you know how my "sugarless" March goes.

My go-to sugarless lunch.  Chicken salad w/ avocado, salad and an orange. 
The other factor that I think has been wreaking havoc on my body.... sleep, or lack thereof.  When you are not getting enough sleep, you are hungrier and your body doesn't have enough rest to recover from the day.  There isn't too much I can do about this, except keep praying that my kids get the hang of sleep some time soon!  

Loving the warmer weather recently!
I am SO motivated to cross a big number barrier weight wise, and it's driving me crazy to be so close, but not reach this goal.  I will make it soon, though, and I can't wait to share that exciting news.  It's not all about a number, but when you've been looking at a certain three digit number for years, and it starts with a number that is not a 1, I'll be so glad to see it change.  And now that I've written all of this down... I have to stick with it ;).  Happy Tuesday!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Aiden Paul - 3 Years Old

Our baby boy turns three today.  I'm usually not overly emotional about our kids reaching milestones, but this one has me choked up a bit.  Recently, I've just stared at him and wondered how we got to this point.  Like the other night at dinner, he got up out of his chair, walked into the kitchen, grabbed a spoon out of the drawer, sat back down and kept eating.  Andrew and I both watched and afterward were like - when did he become a real kid?!  He still has his "baby" moments.  Like crying for me in the middle of the night and asking, "Mommy, I hold you!" meaning, please pick me up.  He loves to snuggle, especially in the evening and at bedtime and I am just fine with that.  I hate to be cliche, but he will ALWAYS be my baby.

Aiden's three year appointment isn't until March, so I'm not exactly sure on his height and weight.  He seems about average to me though, based on his little classmates.  Speaking of class, he loves school!  This is such a relief, if you remember how the year started.  We had major tears until November but now he runs in and can't wait to go.  He has learned so much, is always singing songs from school and talking about his teachers and friends.  It has been great for him!

Aiden's favorites at the moment - Still anything with wheels (trains, trucks, tractors, cars, etc.), Paw Patrol, reading "What Does the Fox Say?" at bedtime (much to my dismay), playing outside, walking to the playground, Tractor Mac n' Cheese (aka Annie's brand Farm mac n' cheese), ice cream, Elmo pouches, milk, painting, and trying to get Audrey to do what he wants :).   He says cute things all of the time now.  Like, "Well, why not?" instead of just "why."

We are still working on Aiden's sleep.  That could be a post on its own, but let's just say it's not great. It is WAY better than a year ago, especially since he stays in his own bed, but this kid just can't put himself to sleep.  Some day :).  And we are also still waiting on the right time for potty training.  He's gone on both a little one and a regular one, but he really has zero interest.  Again, some day... hopefully some day SOON!

The other day, Aiden's teacher told me she loves how he sticks up for himself.  If he starts playing with a toy and another kid tries to take it from him, he doesn't allow it.  At first, I thought she was saying this as a negative characteristic but no, she thought it was great. He is strong willed and becoming more independent.  While we are working on sharing and social skills, we are proud of him for standing up for himself.

I could go on about our boy, but he keeps me busy and I am out of time ;).  Here are some of my favorite pictures of Aiden from the past year.  Happy 3rd birthday sweet boy!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Our Heavenly Matchmaker

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and a lovely Valentine's Day.  We don't usually do a lot for this holiday and this year was no different.  I worked all day and Andrew played with the kids.  We didn't do presents and we didn't go out on a fancy date, but we definitely took the time to recognize our love for each other, for our kids and for our family and friends.  This time of year, we think a lot about love and also a lot about how precious our time on this earth is...and how we need to live each moment to the fullest.

Many of you may not know how Andrew and I met.  Andrew and I had a mutual friend, Brian.  Brian was one of Andrew's best friend's from high school and I grew up with him and his family at church.  We also grew up about 4 blocks from each other, but didn't meet until we were in our 20's.  Brian passed away just after midnight on February 15th twelve years ago.  He was one of those people who was so unbelievably full of life, you couldn't imagine this world without him in it.  He was kind, fun-loving, and even as a teenager, always seemed wiser than his age.  It's like he knew his time here would be cut short.  Brian taught me to ski.  He always smiled and always included everyone.  He was a great friend to Andrew and all of his other buddies.  He loved his family and his friends in that special way that most of us aspire to.  He is loved and missed incredibly.

In the months after Brian passed away, his mom Nancy started telling me about this guy, Andrew.  She was certain we would be perfect for each other.  Turns out she was right.  Andrew noticed me at Nancy's birthday party, he ended up giving his number to my mom and the rest is history.  I can't help but think that Brian had a hand in all of this.  He always wanted everyone to be happy.

Andrew with Nancy on our wedding day.  We had a yellow rose on the altar in Brian's honor.
On Valentine's Day, and everyday, we should celebrate love.  It comes along in the most surprising, but yet natural ways.  We honor Brian and his life by trying to live as he did - with passion, fun and love.  Andrew and I are forever grateful to both him and Nancy for bringing us together.  Our love comes from a very special place and we try our best to remember that everyday. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Curing Cravings

Oh winter... The snow is pretty and I love Christmas, but I'm over you.  And I'm over these cravings for comfort foods and sweets.  What it is about cold, snowy days that makes you race to bake cookies and sip hot chocolate?  Okay, stupid question, but seriously, the winter time cravings are on the verge of affecting my progress, so it's time to do something about it.  In the spirit of not denying myself and not going too extreme with my diet changes, I've decided to find healthy alternatives that will satisfy these cravings.  I've been able to find some healthy comfort food options, but until yesterday, I haven't been impressed with the recipes I've found to cure a sweet tooth, without consuming massive amounts of calories.  

I LOVE Banana Chocolate Chip bread.  I made it way too often at the beginning of my pregnancy with Audrey, but I haven't made it (or pumpkin bread, another favorite) for over a year.  I found this recipe a few days ago through Pinterest and while I was skeptical, I was also hoping it would do the trick.  I was very pleasantly surprised!  They are super easy to make (all in a blender!), and filled with protein from the greek yogurt.  If you like banana bread, I'm pretty confident you will like these.  The only adjustment I made was I used a little less brown sugar than the recipe called for and replaced it with some drizzles of honey.  They are delicious.  And at about 125 calories per muffin, they've made a great snack and a sweet addition to my typical eggs in the morning.  The calories are still a little higher than I'd like, but they are made with good stuff, so it's definitely better than its sugar, flour and oil filled counterpart.  Some comments on the recipe also suggested substituting blueberries or another fruit for the chocolate chips.  I think I'll try that next!

Mug can be found here :).

Here's the link in case the one above passed you by ;).

I will share any other good finds, so that hopefully we can make it to the grilling/fresh fruit and veggie season without going backwards!  

Friday, February 5, 2016

Be Good to your Heart

February is National Heart Month and today is the official Wear Red Day for Go Red for Women.  Over the past seven years, this month has taken on a new meaning for me.  I was born with a congenital heart defect in my aortic valve.  Long story short, I've had two open heart surgeries to repair it and am now symptom free and the sky is the limit.  Knock on wood, I won't have to have another surgery.  After my first surgery, I remember being very bothered as my scar grew and grew and I would inevitably get stares.  This time around, I forget it's there.  When I do remember, it is a reminder of what I have overcome, how precious life is and how lucky I am to have such a wonderful support system and medical care.

Heart health is a huge issue in this country.  We treat our bodies as if they can take anything and will last forever.  We fill them with unhealthy choices and sit around watching reality TV, instead of really living life.  I am trying, with each new day, to break this cycle for myself and my family.  It isn't easy, but we are striving for balance.  We still watch TV and eat greasy food from time to time, but I don't want that to be the norm.  I want our hearts to be as healthy as they can be.

I don't often get up on a soapbox, but I will today.  Please take care of your heart.  If you're reading this, you are likely a person I care about very much and even if I don't know you, I still want what is best for you.  We have been given the gift of a beating heart and it is our responsibility to treat it well.

In honor of Heart Month, I also want to take the opportunity to thank the amazing medical team that I've worked with over the past several years.  My cardiologist, Dr. Thoresen, is wonderful.  I could tell he was emotionally affected when he had to tell me about my second surgery (something you don't always see in a doctor) and he gave me his cell phone number so we could text regularly last year when my health was deteriorating.  Both of my surgeons, Dr. Hiratzka and Dr. Ivey, are the best of the best and I believe I got the best medical care in the city with them.  All of the staff at Christ Hospital, during my stay last year, were caring, professional and took special care to make me feel as comfortable as possible. I will forever be grateful to these people.

Happy Heart Month :)