Thursday, August 28, 2014

mamarazzi : a random update

Summer is waning, and school is on the horizon.
I can't believe it. 
We are here already.
School - I will have a kid in school.
Okay, just 3-year-old pre-school, but school nonetheless.

I don't know about any of you...but I loved school.
Especially as a little one.
It is exciting going back to structure (and friends!)
 after a long, lazy summer
(because that is what they were back then, rather than the short blips that they are now.)

Having kids is pretty amazing because you get to feel that way again, vicariously.
The shopping for new school clothes.
The school supplies (oh, how I love school supplies!)
Meeting your teacher the first time.
Just the whole process of learning new things.
(Yep. Nerd.)

I cannot lie - I am petrified for Cormac to start school.
I stress mostly about the social aspect. 
Will he have trouble making friends?
Will he be bullied? 
Will he be a bully?
Will he just be socially awkward?
Will he be the kid no one wants at their birthday party?

Ugh.  I feel nauseous just thinking about it.

Thankfully he is too little to be worried about any of these things.

I know all I can do is pray that the Lord guides him and protects him
so that school is a good experience and something he loves as much as I did.

Oh, and pray I don't cry buckets of tears on his first day
(at least not in front of him!) 

+ + + + + + 

The summer has been so lovely.
Very laid-back.
Lots of parks and running through fountains and exploring.
Trips to the grandparents' houses.
Swimming at the pool.
Digging in the dirt.
Lugging toys to water parks and sand boxes.
I like that this was such a simple + low-key summer.
I read recently of motherhood being compared to the movie Groundhog Day.
That is pretty apt.
Every day seems a lot the same.
(especially if you are a 'schedule mama' like I am.)
You get up, feed them, play, nap, feed, play, nap, play, feed, play, go to bed.
We keep it fun by doing different things for the 'play' portion and eating different things for the 'feed' parts...but it is generally the same day over and over.
Cormac going off to school three days a week will change that up a bit --
which will be kind of nice!

Speaking of Cormac...
here is a mini-update on the sweet little guy...
                                        Cormac is as loving and affectionate as they come...
and, well, exhausting!
He never stops.  Never stops playing, never stops talking - just goes and goes from waking until bedtime (and sometimes not even then!)
The thing with Cormac is that he loves to be engaged in something at all times.  Even if he is watching a TV show he wants to ask questions about it and for someone to sit with him and watch, too.   If you do not sit with him while watching a show, snuggle him, and answer his questions about said show then he will not sit and pay attention to it.  This worries me slightly - and so much for using the TV as a babysitter!  Nope, not in this house!  I am lucky if they are both distracted by Daniel Tiger for 15 minutes while I make dinner!
jumping on beds is his jam!  and tossing clean laundry everywhere!
I actually experienced a moment of silence on the way home from a playdate the other day only because I let him have a giant gumball.  Sure, by the end of the car ride he had green gumball dye dripping down his face and had dispensed the giant wad of gum in the compartment on my car door (yuck!) but gosh he was quiet for those fifteen minutes!  What works with Cormac -- bribes!  Errrr, I mean REWARDS!  :D

He does not miss a thing, remembers EVERYTHING (so don't try to pull one over on him...he knows.)
He keeps us in check.
He will question/challenge pretty much everything.
He is incredibly bossy.  
He is no pushover and is persistent as they come.
He does not love certain things -- like chaotic water parks or swinging too high.  But I have slowly learned to "meet him where he is" and be okay with his skepticism about things I just assumed all kiddos loved.  
Despite his caution/dislike for some things, with other things he is the complete opposite.
He loves and hugs and runs with reckless abandon!
He is attune to other people's feelings (well, at least mine and Finola's and Hubby's) and loves to comfort and be physically affectionate. 
I will take all the craziness and loudness in the world -
as long as he keeps his tender heart.

Now for Finola.
Oh my goodness.
A lot of personality has sprung forth since her one year update.
Particularly since she began walking about six weeks ago (just shy of 14 months.)

She is, I believe, going to be our little athlete.  The girl is pretty good at kicking balls around,  playing "basketball" (putting the ball in the big plastic hoop, at least) swinging around a golf club at whatever little plastic balls are on the floor, climbing, running, and wrestling.

Oh, and dancing.

And spinning herself in a circle.  She is adorable when she plays ring-around-the-rosies by herself!

She is a mover just like her brother -- but she seems maybe slightly more coordinated.

She is pretty fearless when it comes to, well, anything.
beast mode
Still doesn't LOVE sitting still for more than one short book.  She definitely loses interest quickly if you try to read her a longer one.  However, she loves looking at books.  She will grab one and sit and open it and turn the pages and stare at the illustrations and babble as if she is reading it herself.  Now whenever we try to put her in her crib to sleep she insists on having a book with her.  She will "read" until she falls asleep.

Still a really, really good eater.

Still sleeping from 7:30pm until 7am.

Her hair is wild and curly and crazy!
She is a total flirt and ever the instigator.  She loves to catch your eye and grin flirtatiously.  She wanders up to strangers and stares at them until they inevitably acknowledge her and tell her how precious she is.  She waves "Bah bah!" and sometimes blows kisses.

She, of course, wants whatever Cormac has.  Always.  That makes for interesting interactions.  (aka lots of screaming from both parties.)  

Here they are in a rare "sharing" moment:
Cormac is obviously still bossing her around.
Being a mama with two toddlers is a lot to handle.  (Well, I guess Cormac is no longer a toddler -- he is a pre-schooler!  Eek!)  

That being said, I am constantly looking for guidebooks and advice to help me through it.  I am currently reading a book called Peaceful Parent, Happy Child by Dr. Laura Markham -- which at first I wholeheartedly dismissed but now I am devouring like it is the Bible for parenting.  At least when it comes to a kid like Cormac.   It has made me question my whole outlook on discipline and my reactions to behavior that I thought required "discipline"...and truly has started to make me calmer to the constant chaos going on in my house every day.   

Despite that chaos, I am still loving staying home with the babes.  I welcome breaks from my seemingly endless motherly duties, of course (thank you grandparents and hubby!!!!) but I cannot imagine doing anything else full-time with my life right now.  
Hope everyone has an amazing Labor Day weekend
full of fun and celebrations
with your loves!

Monday, August 25, 2014

'ideas about food' // my gluten-free review

I think we all have "food ideas" or, better yet, "eating philosophies. "  Like it or not, the way we grew up eating, the things our parents said about food/eating, tend to shape our ideas about food that stick with us into adulthood.

I grew up with the following ideas about food:
1. You ate everything on your plate.  (Especially when you are a guest at someone's house!!!!)
2. You ate all your veggies before you could leave the table.  I swallowed a lot of peas whole with giant gulps of milk.  Veggies were kind of a "have to" not a "good for you/want to."
3. Breakfast was important.  You always ate a big, hot breakfast.
4. You ate at mealtime, which occurred three times a day.  Any "snacks" we got were usually procured at friends' houses.
5. We really didn't eat "dessert." We did get a small "treat" in the evening, though.  Like a couple of cookies -- so I guess that would have been dessert?  Therefore sugary snacks and dessert has never been a "need" or a "issue" for me.

I did not grow up in a house where snacks were carrot sticks or anything was organic.  With four kids and one very, very modest income our family survived on a meager grocery budget by many times sacrificing "natural" for "processed" as it was the cheapest route many times.

We drank Kool-Aid all summer long.  You remember the little packets you would dump in a jug with a ton of sugar.  That kind.

I didn't have any parents having heart-to-hearts with me about why I should eat healthy.  I don't remember my mom looking at food labels.  (Maybe she did???)

Food was kind of a non-issue.

Food was meant to fuel our bodies and then burned off by lots and lots and lots of activity.  We didn't really talk about food.  It was put on our plate.  We did NOT get to be choosy.  We ate it the meal that was put in front of us and that was that.
In some ways this was awesome.  We learned not to be fussy.  We didn't obsess about food in any way. We were not constantly asking for snacks.  I grew up to be a woman who doesn't pick at my food - I enjoy it with gusto!  A person who is not fussy or wasteful.  Who is adventurous in what she eats.

Also, none of my siblings grew up to be overweight.  In fact, I am probably the last of my sibs to jump on the healthy eating bandwagon.  My older brother and his family are anti-processed foods, anti-caffeine, anti-chemicals in general, and have even recently bought a farm in order to raise their own beef and chickens, and, of course, have a great big garden to grow their own produce.  My sister is a very healthy eater, even moreso now that she has four kids.  She is a label reader and does her best to buy healthy, delicious stuff for her big fam.  My little brother - well, he may as well work at the local organic grocery store.

As for me?  I guess I've never really been a health food nut.  I am more of an exercise nut. I have been hopelessly devoted to working out (including running, yoga, lots and lots of cardio at the gym) since the age of 17.  Even before that I got a ton of exercise, spending every free moment outside hiking/walking.
Here was my problem: I felt for so many years that I could eat anything I wanted because I worked out so much and was maintaining a healthy weight.  I had no problem with how I looked so I ignored how my body FELT -- bloated, painfully gassy at times, and often constipated (sorry for the over-share, but I am sure I am not the only person who has chronically had these issues.)
Now, in my early thirties with two children watching me, I feel like I should probably be a little more conscious of the things I am putting into my body.  Clearly there is a reason that I have spent most of my life with tummy issues.  So I have recently had to face facts about how I eat and ask myself the hard questions:

Is half a pizza in one sitting really appropriate fuel?   Is it okay for me to indulge in giant amounts of pasta (and Gossip Girl!) when Hubby goes out of town on just because it is easy and I LOVE it?   Is beer -- while delicious -- worth the full/bloated feeling I get after only one?  Is (*cough* every once in a while) eating a whole package of Oreos over the course of two nights necessary or okay?  Is it in my best interest to feed myself, my spouse, and my kiddos a bunch of processed foods that do not have much nutritional value just because it is cheaper/easier, when there are more natural options that are just as delicious?

I honestly don't want food to be a huge issue in our family.  I think my parents did a great job of not making eating a huge deal - and teaching us to enjoy food!   I don't want to lecture my kids about "good fats" or encourage them to only eat half of their meal at restaurants because that is what "skinny people do" or discourage dessert (ever.)  I want them to be able to enjoy eating all foods (they don't have any allergies that we know of yet.)  I love eating and cooking and hope my little ones always have a positive relationship with both of these things.

Food is nourishment.  It is fuel.  It can be fun!  Eating can be a visceral experience. can (and should) also be a mindful one.

+ + + + + + + +

All that being said...
For the past three months I have been gluten-free.  (Okay, well, 95% of the time...I had my share of "cheats" - mainly at special events throughout the summer.)

The idea was to try it for the summer and see the effect on my body - and mind!  (Some research reports that a gluten-free diet can lessen anxiety and depression...and I always like to check out natural treatments!)  I also thought it could have a positive effect on my tummy, as many people who follow gluten free diets do so because they are 'gluten intolerant'  (it strongly disagrees with their tummy - as opposed to having celiac disease, where gluten is basically rejected by the body.)   I wondered if perhaps I was 'gluten intolerant.'

So I took the plunge and gave up gluten June 1st.  Since then (besides holidays and special events) I have been avoiding gluten.  I have reduced my pasta and bread intake drastically -- sticking to rice, oats, potatoes and quinoa.  Most baked goods are no-no's so those were removed from my diet as well.  I did try baking a few things using gluten-free flour...definitely not as enjoyable so mostly I just avoided anything baked with flour.

Honestly, it wasn't hard and it wasn't horrible!

The thing about following a GF diet is that there are plenty of good alternatives.  Plus, because there are so many "safe" items that I enjoy (rice, wine, most cheeses) that I didn't have a problem finding something yummy to eat wherever I was.

Here is one list I found that was helpful in wrapping my brain around gluten-free eating...just make sure to mentally add "wine" to the list of beverages:
After my foray into gluten-free eating here is what I have to report:
  • I lost 3 pounds - was not trying to lose any weight so that was a nice surprise!  I believe that someone really desiring to lose weight could do so on a gluten-free diet...although this is not why most switch.  The focus is more on healthy eating than cutting calories.
  • My tummy does feel SO MUCH BETTER.  Since going GF, I have not noticed any horrific stomach pains.   No sudden need to go to the bathroom.  No excessive bloating.
  • My skin looks better.  Probably no one else would notice this, but I have fewer breakouts.  Kinda awesome.  Plus, because I am putting so many more good foods into my body I have much more of a glow I think.  Eating more healthy snack options, such as fruits and nuts and drinking more water.  So basically...
  • I just eat better overall.  I don't know that it is the "gluten free" component per se.  There were a few times when I ate large servings of rice or quinoa (both gluten free) where I noticed an immediate gas/bloating issue.  So I would gather that my body simply does not agree with eating any large portion of any grains.
Will I continue to be gluten-free?  Yes and no.  My plan is to remain gluten-free during the week, and be very conscious of my portion sizes of other grains.  On the weekends I will allow gluten, but, again, in small quantities.  I also find that red meat occasionally gives me issues (especially ground beef) so that will be consumed sparingly as well.  I find I ultimately feel best (and consume fewer calories) when I stick to a fish-only diet.  I don't think I am alone in this.

I want my "eating philosophy" to be a simple one : "Eat healthy foods in appropriate sizes."  You know, with an indulgence here and there! :D


Would you consider going gluten-free?  

What "food ideas" were taught to you growing up?Which ones have stuck with you, be they healthy or not?    Which are you now teaching to your kids?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

//my subtle blonde ombre//

I cannot believe summer is winding down and Cormac is on the verge of starting pre-school.


In honor of "back to school" season I recently got my hair cut and highlighted.
(Just kidding...I did it just because I desperately needed a trim.)

I decided to try the ombre trend by keeping my natural light ash brown on top, 
and adding some subtle blonde highlights on the bottom half...
Okay, so I realize my dark + grainy phone pic makes it hard to tell... but I love the beachy, updated vibe it gives my long hair.  The price tag was a little steep, I will definitely be keeping it long for a while to make this splurge worth the cash!

Ah, if only ombre had been in style when I was fifteen!   Then growing out my hair after dousing in with Sun-In all summer wouldn't have looked so ridiculous...
'1996 ombre' - aka "really bad roots"
Perhaps my new 'do will help people stop asking where in the world my kiddos get their blindingly bright blonde hair?  Probably not.  But here are some more photos dug out of the archives to prove that, yes, I once had some natural blonde locks...oh, and a bit of natural curl!
little g - age 2
probably 3 or 4
my 6th birthday party - still rockin' some blonde wispies in that ponytail
My hair started getting darker around age eight.  So perhaps my two little blondies will turn out to be brunettes in the end.

Has anyone else out there tried ombre?   I think it is one of those really fun trends that we will all kick ourselves for in twenty years and whip out embarassing photos.  Along with the high-waisted shorts and crop tops (that I definitely won't be rockin' any time soon.)
Check out my hair inspiration board on Pinterest if you are thinking about ombre yourself!

Hope everyone is having an amazing week!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

//minnesota trip recap//

the farm I grew up on is within that cluster of trees
When my car hits the gravel roads and the view you see in the photograph above meets my eyes I am typically rejoicing...and in major need of a nap.

That is because I have been in the car since 2am and driving solo nearly non-stop for 12 hours.
(Hubby usually joins me only for a few days at the end of the trip due to, ya know, having to work.)

I always try to start our annual summer road trip to Minnesota as early as possible so the kids are sleeping for at least half of it.   This year we were in the car by 2am ready for the journey, and the kids fell promptly back to sleep as I drove into the darkness.  That is how I survive the long ride -- I get about five hours of silence.  

Bliss for my ever-racing mind and introverted self.
I love driving 13 hours!!!!  (don't worry - car is parked for this one.)
Then they wake up and we stop for breakfast.  A McD's big breakfast plus hot cakes feeds the three of us and we run around a bit before resuming the journey.
fin climbing up slides in her pjs at a rest area
This year was the easiest drive yet.  Still long and tiring, but at least we now have a DVD player that entertains the kids for a decent portion of the trip.  I remember my first trip with Cormac when he was only just turned one -- it was basically an agitated scream-fest unless I was singing to him or he was sleeping.  I sang A LOT.

The drive is worth it and I do it gladly because I rarely get to see my family.
I pretty much look forward to this trip all year long.

Plenty of memories from this one, as always: 
  • meadows full of milkweed and monarchs
  • wild gardens in the woods
  • the window seat
  • sipping wine at a local vineyard with my dear friend rachel (and our farm play date!)
  • piano jams with the kids
  • baby-kini
  • high school girlfriend reunion in minneapolis!
  • my daily run around the trail
  • bold raccoons
  • barn wood organization 
  • cormac going potty on the trail
  • backyard dinner with julie and jeremy (and mack and maggie!)
  • narrowly avoiding a speeding ticket
  • unexpected date night with the hubby at one of our old grand ave haunts
  • drinking wine with my dad
  • the last night campfire

went to a local vineyard/winery with my long-time friend rach

I am a complete geek for skyscrapers/interesting architecture, and this one outside my minneapolis hotel window made me feel like I was transported into the movie Metropolis.
foshay tower in mpls

the kiddos played every day until they were completely exhausted
both cormac and fin looooooved wrestling each other and jumping on all the beds in the house
the playhouse 'elevator' was a big hit with cormac
popsicles were a favorite treat in the humid weather

place I went to lunch with my mom on our shopping date
this salad was so, so good

he was kinda obsessed with this 'sand cake' he 'baked.

this was the first year he would get on the tire swing!
riding on grampa's shoulders down to check out uncle spencer's garden
what is fun about this photo is that she climbed up in there herself.
stopping for breakfast and play in chicago
being in the car that long makes them a bit crazy!
Then it was over and we were back in Kentucky.  
Which, despite my love for MN, feels more and more like "home" every year.