friday five: breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Even though I’ve always loved to eat, lately life has seemed to be even more food-focused than normal.  Gracie is trying all kinds of new solid foods, and I’m always looking for new options to pair with her purees.  In fact, I always have baby food on the brain, now that we are brand ambassadors for Beech-Nut.  Additionally, I have been trying to get smarter with our grown-up meal planning.  In light of all of this, and true to form, most of this Friday Five is also focused on food.  Yum.

1. Breakfast with Baby

Two Saturdays ago, Gracie and I hosted a breakfast with some of our baby/mommy friends at our house.  It was super fun!  We took the opportunity to share some of our Beech-Nut goodies with our buddies, including samples and lots of coupons.  After lots of tasting for the babies, it was time for some yogurt parfaits and baked-egg casserole for the mommies.  We loved hosting and sharing the love from our favorite baby food with our friends.  We are looking forward to hosting again in April!

 
  

2. Treat Yo-self

Although not related to food, I had to share my latest non-sweet treat.  Recently, my sister become a merchandiser with Chloe and Isabel; I finally treated myself the cocktail ring that I have been eyeing for over a year now.  I could not be more thrilled with my purchase!  I ordered a size up, as I was looking for something to wear on my index finger.  It is perfect for dressing up, but looks cute with my yoga pants and hoodies.  I highly recommend checking out her boutique!

 

3. Freezer Meal Dinner Exchange

Last Sunday afternoon, I met with five other mommies to trade freezer meals and baby stories. What a great afternoon!  In exchange for a massive quantity of broccoli cheddar soup, I came home with: chicken cacciatore, cilantro lime chicken, black bean taco soup, burritos, and macaroni and cheese.  I love opening my freezer admiring my arsenal of perfectly-portioned dinners for nights that I don’t want to cook, or nights when I don’t have time to cook.  I am starting seriously to wonder why I didn’t do this sooner!

4. Spiralizing For Lunch

About a year ago, I purchased my first spiralizer, and I’m ashamed to admit that it took me this long to take it out of the box!  Now that it’s out and I am spiralizing like a fool, I wish I’d done it sooner!  Freezer meals and Zoodles…who knew?

After a failed lunch salad creation of my own, I was about to give up on lunch, when I came across this recipe from Skinnytaste on social media: Spiralized Raw Zucchini Salad with Avocado and Edamame.  I tried it once, and I’ve made it several days since.  I am hooked!

Do yourself a favor and check it out!  You will not be sorry.

5. 10 Months Old

This has nothing to do with food, other than the fact that I am constantly feeding this hungry, hungry baby.  However, it seemed fitting to end by talking about the sweetest person I know.  Gracie Kate turned 10 months old on leap day!  It’s so exciting to watch her personality continue unfolding.  She is hilarious!  I love all of her noises, her curious nature, and her persistence.

Gracie is standing now without much assistance, and she wants to walk…badly.  She loves to explore her dresser drawers, and this is best accomplished by completely emptying them.  She loves books, they keep her busy for hours.  She continues to work on her relationship with the cat, and Lady is warming up to her even more.

She loves to give mommy and daddy big, sloppy kisses and is such a cuddly little bug.  We love our silly, hungry, sweet, and strong baby girl!

  

This Friday, I linked up with:

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friday five: beech-nut & baby-booking 

Sometimes you have weeks when your baby naps great, and sometimes you have weeks like this week.  While still her usual chipper self, Gracie seems to be going through some sleep changes that are making her daytime naps shorter and more sporadic.  She is still napping, however, it’s tough to get her naps to last.  I think it’s a combination of her sleep patterns changing (at 9 months), and having fun practicing standing.

Despite the slight shake-up in our schedules, we managed to have a really busy and productive week.  Today, I am recapping some memories in this Friday Five.

ONE: Our Ambassadorship Began

 

  
Thursday marked the beginning of our new and exciting journey with Beech-Nut baby food as brand ambassadors.  It was so motivating to connect with brand ambassadors across the country during our call.  I am so ready to share our love for this product line with Boston and the Northshore.

I became a devoted fan of Beech-Nut when it came time to start introducing solid foods.  I didn’t know what Gracie would like, and rather than make a huge batch of something she would potentially hate, I decided to start with store-bought food.  I initially purchased a different brand.  After tasting it and noticing that real bananas did NOT taste like what I was eating, I read the ingredients to find a lot more than just bananas.  I threw out the plastic tub and went in search of something better.

During my next trip to the store, I was relieved to read the ingredients on the Beech-Nut jars.  I started with “Just Honeycrisp Apples,” which contained JUST Honeycrisp Apples.  After a few tastes, I was hooked…and so was Gracie.  Working from home full-time doesn’t allow me much time to make my own food.  I try, but I can’t always do it.  I am so grateful to have the option to give Gracie something that is typically better than what I could make, with more variety and convenience.

So, look out Boston/the Northshore!  We are coming for you…and we’ve got samples!

TWO: First Time Sledding

 

 On Monday, while we still actually had some snow, Jon took Gracie on her very first sled ride this week.  Most of it melted the next day.  It’s crazy to think that this time last year, Juno had just dumped the first of what turned out to be a record-breaking season of snow.  As I type this, I look out the window and I can see our grass.

Don’t get me wrong, last year was exhausting.  Yet, while we don’t need to be breaking any records (again), it would be nice to get a little more use out of our sleds and snowsuits.  Maybe February will be the month that we actually need the snowblower, we will see.

THREE: Baby Book-ing

 

I am proud of myself: on Wednesday evening, I pulled out the ever-neglected baby book and spent about half an hour writing in it.  While it doesn’t seem like much, it was huge for me.  Everything is going so fast, and I often feel like we are too busy living to write about it.  I need to consciously make more time to keep updating her baby book; even once a month would be an improvement.

FOUR: Roasted Chickpeas

 

In an effort to clean-up my diet after the holidays, I made these Roasted Chickpeas from Skinnytaste and they turned out fantastic.  I only have a little “before” picture, because we ate them ALL before I could take an “after” picture.  I used one of our jarred spice blends (Chicago Steak Seasoning), however I’m sure the blend she describes would be equally as fantastic.  I am positively making these again, just as soon as we get more garbanzo beans.

FIVE: Makin’ Birthday Plans

I turn 30 at the beginning of May, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do to celebrate.  Because our baby is still so tiny, it would be easier to stick close to home.  Plus, I’d like to spend it with her!

So imagine my surprise when Wednesday night, in my Facebook feed, I found the perfect solution: at my favorite local beach, on my birthday, sponsored by one of my favorite local breweries…the Ipswich Ale Half-Marathon popped up!  It was my goal to run a Spring half-marathon, and so this race seems like an obvious way to spend my 30th birthday.  It’s the first year for this race, and limited to a field of 400.  I signed up as quickly as I could!  I am SO looking forward to it!

That pretty much wraps up our crazy busy week on “team no-nap.”

Still, I’m loving all the changes with our baby.  She turns 9 months old today, it’s all going so fast.  As the saying goes: “It’s just a phase, so don’t miss it.”

This Friday, I linked up with:

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five things in 2016

For my first “5 on Friday” post of 2016, I thought it would be refreshing to look forward.  There was so much about 2015 that was amazing: we welcomed Gracie Kate and moved into our first home.

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At first glance, 2 huge milestones in one year might make it seem like 2015 will be hard to beat. While we aren’t looking to top it, I do think 2016 has some awesome adventures in store!  In face, it was fairly easy for me to come up with a quick list of 5 things I am looking forward to.

1. Gracie Kate turns 1

I can hardly believe it’s only 4 months until our little big girl turns 1 year old!   Ever since about 12 weeks old, the time has been flying.  While I loved snuggling her as a tiny newborn, it’s been so exciting to watch Gracie grow, change, and see her personality develop.  I can’t wait to watch our baby monster smash a cake!

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2. Mommy turns 30

So, apparently I am leaving my 20s behind in May.  Gracie and I have birthdays 9 days apart, and in my newborn-baby haze, I barely remember turning 29.  When I’ve needed to report my age this year, it’s always surprised me.  Despite it sneaking up on me, I’m excited to start a new decade in my life!  My twenties began in college, a time of unrest and pending possibilities.  My thirties will begin in a more stable place, happy and content with this beautiful life we are building.

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3.  We love Beech-nut!

Gracie and I are so excited to announce that we will be joining Beech-nut as Boston-based brand ambassadors in 2016!  We started Gracie on solids foods around 4 months, and after reading labels on other brands, I was drawn to Beech-nut for the simplicity and quality of their product.  I don’t have much time to make baby food, and their product allows me to give her like-homemade food, but it’s more convenient and offers tons of variety.  I’m so excited to share our love of Beech-nut with the Boston area!

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One of our favorites!  Photo from beechnuts.com.

4.  Our Midwest Adventure 

This March, we are taking Gracie to visit her extended family in both Minnesota and Michigan.  It’ll be a 2 week trip, she has lots of people to meet!  Although I am slightly nervous to travel with a baby for our first time (tips are appreciated), it’ll be so fulfilling to see our little baby connect with family and friends that stood by us and supported us through these past few years.  Prepare for takeoff, little baby!

5. Our little family

Finally, I’m so excited to be starting this first full year as a little family.  Every day, we learn and grow and become closer.  We have so many new things to experience: first steps, first words, first plane rides…I’m just so excited to do it all together!

 

Happy 2016!

This Friday, I linked up with:

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five on friday: 5 months, football, and fall

Because it was such an eventual weekend/week for us, I wanted to do a good, solid Five on Friday post this week to recap all the amazing newness.

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1. Michigan Football

After (what seems like) many long years, it is finally possible to watch our beloved Michigan Wolverines play on Saturdays and not feel anxious!  Granted, the season is young and they aren’t ranked consistently (yet). However, it’s just nice to enjoy games again!  It makes me nostalgic for my college days.

On another note, Jon is already singing the fight song with our little Wolverine.  Personally, Mommy is hoping she picks a school in New England…but that’s a ways out.  She’s still mastering how to roll over.

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GK watching with Daddy.

2. Fall Fun

A classic fall tradition, Gracie and I took a trip with friends to Russell Orchard (our favorite on the North Shore) this weekend!  Apparently we weren’t the only ones who had this idea, because it was packed.  Like, a “45 minute wait for donuts” packed.  Not looking to wait, we scooped up some cider, bought some Honeycrisp, and picked a bushel of Gala.  I am not used to picking with a hungry baby attached to my front, and I kept finding the apple I was munching on in her mouth.  Sweet baby is just starting on solids, and loves puréed apples!  It seems that the real things are good for gumming.

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We left exhausted, dirt-kissed, and full of apples.

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3. First Cold

On Tuesday, I noticed my sweet baby was sniffling.  Jon and I had both had a cold early in the week, and although we tried not to pass it on, it looks like Gracie picked it up anyway.  However, I think her cold is bothering me more than its bothering her.  I’m all worried, taking her temp daily and googling remedies, new-mom style.  Our tough little bud is working to fight it off quickly!  A nasal aspirator, extra naps, feeding on demand, and extra snuggles have been our remedies of choice.

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Don’t let the pic fool you though!  Despite a few extra tears, our girl is her smily self…with a running nose, and a few additional night wakings.

4. Life with a 5 Month Old

Besides coming down with her first running nose, Gracie Kate also turned 5 months old on Tuesday!  Seriously?  Where is the time going?

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She is working so hard to master rolling over, and she has also started trying to sit up.  She has gotten to be a tummy-time pro, although she will not sleep on her tummy.  That wakes her up crying.  She loves to show off how awesome she is at grabbing stuff, and this has been an adjustment for mommy.  It is not as easy to sit with her at the dinner table, everything needs to be out of reach.

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We love our silly, smiling “little big girl” so much!

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5. Eggs & Quinoa 

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This week, I decided to start actually training for a race again.  In search of a warm, hearty lunch to support my increased effort, I decided to revisit my old protien-packed friend: the runny egg.  I modified an old favorite that turned out so delicious, it has to be shared.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup water
  • salt and pepper, to taste

What I did:

  1. I prepared the Quinoa as instructed: in boiling water, 1 cup water to 1/4 cup quinoa.
  2. I fried up the 2 eggs with salt and pepper, cooking them just long enough to keep to yolks runny.
  3. After the quinoa was cooked and the eggs were done, I mixed the coconut oil in with the quinoa and topped with the 2 runny eggs.

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Simple and filling!

I am so excited for this upcoming week because it marks the beginning of the Topsfield Fair, our little town’s claim to fame!  It will be our first year attending as residents, and of course, with Gracie Kate.

Have a wonderful weekend!

This Friday, I linked up with:

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what i’ve been training for

Today is Boston, as they say.  I love being able to wake up, turn on the TV, and watch all the runners that have been training months, years, even their whole lives, for a race that is less than 20 miles from my house.  I remember watching the Boston Marathon last year, as well.

It was about a month before the marathon in which I’d get my BQ (Boston qualifying time).  I had a beautiful training run that day.  I also had two conflicting ideas of where I could be in a year.  Last year, I hoped that I would either be running Boston in 2015…or that I’d be pregnant again.

I earned my BQ on 5/18/14 with 3:31:35.  I am not sure if this time would have gotten me into Boston this year, as the competition is always fierce and a qualifying time doesn’t guarantee a racing bib.  However, I do know that after my BQ, I was torn.

Around June 2014, I started to feel a pull that I hadn’t felt since losing Darla in December of 2013.  I started to feel the little tug at my heart, a little pain…a tiny loneliness.  Completely independent of any action on my part, my heart was preparing to be a mom again.  I wasn’t ready in June, but July was different.

I felt like I knew how to be strong enough for whatever.  I didn’t have the strength on my own.  Just like in 2013, no matter what was waiting for us this time, we still weren’t alone.  God carried us through the darkest storm when we lost our first baby, and if need be, He would do it again.  I couldn’t lean on my own strength to be ready, I had to cling to where true strength comes from.  I knew how to be brave again.

I still wasn’t quite sure what to do about Boston.  However, after trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant in July, the increase in longing in my heart confirmed that I was definitely ready.  I was more ready than I’d realized.

I knew that, as hard as I had worked to train and qualify for Boston, I wanted this more.  We decided we’d try for a while and see what happened.  If I didn’t get pregnant by when it came time to register for Boston, maybe we’d put it trying on hold.  Maybe?

It never came to that.  We got pregnant in August.  I’ve been blessed with the pregnancy that I’d hoped for.

Now I sit here, on Marathon Monday 2015, less than 2 weeks from my due date, and ready to pop.  I am celebrating all the runners that made it and hoping I someday get the huge honor of joining them.  I still dream to run Boston.  But for now, I’m ok.  I have time.  I’ve been training for this race longer.

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To be honest, the idea of giving birth again is scary.  Walking through those hospital doors in active labor will surely be accompanied by a flood of memories from that December night.  Some will be happy, some will be painful.  I’ll never be ready, but in less than two weeks, it’ll be my own marathon.  I don’t know how long it will take, and I don’t know how much it will hurt.  I don’t know if I’ve trained enough, but I know I can make it through.

I just can’t wait to meet our little rainbow baby.

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This Monday, I’m linking-up with SarahJennRachel, and Tauna for the Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-up.

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my final “push” sanity-savers

I am 37 weeks today, and trying to remain healthy in my pregnancy is getting tougher by the day.  The motivation is there, but so is the exhaustion…and the candy.  I want all the candy.  My belly is starting to outgrow my maternity clothes…how is that possible?

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I know what’s important: keeping a balanced diet, getting rest, taking it easy…it all sounds good, in theory.  However, we just moved!  I have a nursery I want to decorate.  Mopping the floors in a house takes 5 times longer than in an apartment.  I want to wrap everything up neatly at work.  I get random bursts of energy at 3am that make sleep impossible…and the giant belly currently ruling my life doesn’t make it easy to get comfortable.

Please don’t think I am complaining about this final stage.  This pregnancy is something I hoped and prayed for, and so I am thankful for it….all of it.  However, even the thankfully pregnant grow weary from time to time.

In spite of the increase in treating myself to candy and chip dip, I have found a few tricks to help me stay somewhat healthy and strong through this final push of pregnancy.  These habits I am clinging to don’t require a lot of change to my normal routine.  Because it’s Friday, I I thought it would be fun to share five of them!

1.  Juices: Purple and red juices have been my thing these past few weeks.  Any juice I can find with beets, and maybe some purple carrots, has tasted overly amazing.  Naked Bright Beets gives me a huge boost of energy, and is packed with Vitamin A (good for baby’s eye health).  I like to compliment my morning bagel carbs with a loaded juice, for balance.

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2. A Glass Waterbottle: I finally broke down a week ago and made the switch from a plastic to a glass water bottle.  While I can’t be quite as rough on my Ello as I was on my Camelback, I love that the taste of a glass water bottle is fresher.  It’s easy to clean (dishwasher safe), and if I throw in a Nuun, I don’t taste it for days after.

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3. Compression Socks: I thought I loved my compression socks before…but now, they are lifesavers.  My Sockwells are continuing to keep my ankle swelling down, and pulling them on after a long day is a treat for me feet.  Granted, the actual process of getting them on is a battle with a 37 week belly.  Yet, once they are on, the struggle seems small in comparison to the reward.

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4. Low impact Cardio: I am using yoga and low-impact cardio videos to keep strong and prepare mentally for birth.  I am planning to keep perfecting my yoga playlist so that I can maybe use it during birth.  Giving birth last time was traumatic for me, and I am doing all I can to prepare for this time to be as relaxed as possible.

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5. My Snoogle: This pillow is a sleep-saver.  Seriously.  I am pretty sure this is the only reason why I am resting as well as I am at night.  Whenever I lie awake, it’s not from being uncomfortable; it’s just a crazy hormone rush.  I use the Snoogle under my head, have it support my back, and come through my knees to offer cushion under my big belly.  If I fall asleep on the couch without it, I wake up with a very sore back.

I can’t believe how close I am to delivery!  I have mixed emotions that I am working to sort out.  Overall, I just can’t wait to kiss her face…and three weeks isn’t too long to wait.

This Friday, I linked up with:

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five on friday: what i learned about closing

After a crazy week of moving and unpacking, Jon and I are finally starting to feel like we are actually getting somewhat settled in our new home.  Closing on our house at 32 weeks pregnant and moving at 33 weeks was less than ideal timing, but I am so glad we are now in our home.  We love it here; we can’t wait to bring our baby girl from the hospital to her home.

These past 6 weeks have been a whirlwind, and looking back, I can’t believe we made it through.  This Friday, I thought it would be fun to share  a few things that I learned during closing.  I’m far from an expert, but I picked up a few things along the way.

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1. Get prequalified

It might seem like getting prequalified for a mortgage takes a while, but it really doesn’t.  I think it took us about 15 minutes.  Contact one (or several) banks in your area and try to get something in writing prior to going to an open house.  Most sellers won’t even consider an offer unless it comes with a pre-qualification letter.  Getting prequalified is not a guarantee from the bank that you are locked-in at that interest rate; things can still change.  However, it’s a good place to start, and most pre-qualification letters are good for 90 days.

2. Know where to find all of your “stuff.”

During the closing process, be ready to produce lots and lots of documents to the bank…more than during tax time.  If it looks like you’ll be closing on a home, it’s a good idea to start gathering your past W2s, pay stubs, and statements early on.  That way, if it turns out you have a fast close (ours took 38 days), you won’t be scrambling as much.  Be ready to prove where every single cent to your name came from, and maybe, where it came from before that!  Just kidding…kind of.

 3. Ask questions

To be totally cliché, there really is no such things as a dumb question.  If it’s your first time applying for a mortgage, ask your broker or lawyer any question you need answered to avoid getting in over your head.  Likewise, after closing, ask specifics about the house!  We are fortunate that the sellers of our home have be extremely patient and welcoming to all of our questions.  Find out who regularly did maintenance on the home, what paint brand/color is on each wall, about maintenance routines, for restaurant recommendations…anything you need to keep loving your new home!

4. Request a walk-though with the sellers

A final walk-through the night before closing is pretty standard.  However, if possible, request that the sellers be present.  It’s a great way for them to show you where everything is, answer any last-minute questions, and share tips/tricks with you.  Be sure to take notes!  I have a stack of manuals and papers from our walk-through that I can’t wait to get organized!

5. Don’t freak out

It’s pretty much a guarantee that something will come up that you didn’t anticipate during closing.  Granted, it’s tough not to panic when you are likely already attached to the house; you picture yourself growing old there, only have have something come up on inspection, or with the bank…it’s not over.

Don’t freak out!  If something comes up, talk to people.  Google it.  Ask for help from people that are on your side.  In the end, if the entire process is a fight, it might not be the right house for you.  Don’t give up too easy, but don’t let closing wreck you.

As I sit here in our study, typing and admiring the silence, I know we have been so blessed.  I’m so thankful.  As we prepare to welcome our baby girl in about 6 weeks, amidst the chaos of half unpacked boxes and belongings that still need a place, I feel at peace.  We are finally home.

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This Friday, I linked up with:

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