Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tilapia & Lemon Thyme Veggie Packets

Now, I am no food photographer or expert cook.  But, I can make some good meals now and again! Here is one of my SUPER easy, healthy, & a  fam-favorite recipes (The kids like it too!)

Ingredients:
Tilapia (I used 5)
Spinach- 1/2 bag
1 carton cherry tomatoes
2 lemons
thyme seasoning
Emeril's Fish Rub (or fish seasoning of choice)

Step 1:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and set out 5 aluminum foil squares.  Make sure the squares are big enough to fold over your food!


Step 2:
Make a heaping bed of Spinach on each foil.  Spinach wilts so don't be shy!

3. Place 1 thawed tilapia fillet on each bed of spinach like so:

4. Season fish with thyme (fresh or dried) and I like to use Emeril's Fish Rub (or you can use whatever fish seasoning your fam enjoys) to taste.

5. Add about 5-8 cherry or grape tomatoes right on top.

6. Add to lemon slices on top (looks pretty too!)

7. Wrap the whole thing like a burrito--make sure its sealed tightly and place seam side up on baking sheet or pan (to catch any excess juice during cooking).  Put in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.

8. I like to serve with some rice.  This is one of my fave's:

9.  Serve and enjoy!  Yum!!


Jud: "Oh, you're taking pictures.  Are you going to blog this one?"
Me: "Yup."
Jud: "Good. It's one of your best ones."


Thanks babe! Mangia!






Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cruising with babies!

Drinking out of a coconut with an umbrella straw,  dancing on the sand as the sun comes up and reenacting this moment is a pretty accurate summation of our cruise last week to Mexico and Georgetown.

Hahah. Maybe if I were Angelina Jolie and 23 again.  But really, cruising with a 5 month pregnant lady and 2 squirrelly boys is it's own PG-for-the-whole-family brand of awesome & fun:





I had quite a few fellow momma's (who are considering a cruise themselves with children- brave women) ask me for some tips about cruising with LITTLE kids.  So here is my two (and a few more) cents!


  • Don't over pack the swimsuits.  I packed every swimsuit my children own.  Even the ones that they had kind of outgrown.  I didn't want chafing! I didn't want the poor little guys to feel damp! I wanted to prevent pneumonia! We needed two.  That's all.  Hang them up to dry overnight.  Save the precious space.

  • This was my moment of pure genius.  And I came up with it all by myself- not even Pinterest brought me such wisdom!----

---> Bring a hanging shoe rack!  I used one we had around the house that looked a lot like this with 10 spaces.  2 kids, 5 day cruise.  I packed an outfit for each DAY and each NIGHT in a cubby.  The kids clothes are so small they fit in easily and there was no searching for matching clothes, smell-testing if the clothes are clean, or trying to figure out which outfit was for formal vs. semi-formal night (i.e. totally husband-getting-the-kids-ready proof)


Organization:
Shelf 1:    Day 1 boat clothes for  both Jamin & Owen
Shelf 2:    Day 1 casual (but nice and clean!) dinner clothes for both
Shelf 3:    Day 2 day at sea clothes for both
Shelf 4:    Day 2 formal clothes for both
Shelf 5:    Day 3 Mexico/Beach clothes for both
Shelf 6:    Day 3 casual dinner clothes for both
Shelf 7:    Day 4 Georgetown casual clothes for both
Shelf 8:    Day 4 casual dinner clothes for both
Shelf 9:    Day 5 day at sea clothes for both (2 sets, one for Saturday morning leaving ship as well!)
Shelf 10:  Day 5 Semi-formal dinner clothes

This probably saved me numerous, over-the-top-and-unnecessary, melt-downs.  It sounds kind of silly but the kids clothes would have really stressed me out.  They usually end up in a jumbled mess on hotel floors, covered in sand, wrinkled and representing, to me, mom-fail.  The shoe rack worked out perfectly and was beyond easy.  Not to mention it saved SO much drawer space and closet space for our own clothes!  Those ship closets are tinnnny and we were really able to maximize space.  Also, designate one empty suitcase as the hamper and make sure dirty-beyond-rewear clothes go in there and out of reach of the kids.


  • Make a game plan for dinners.  There's always lots of kids at the dinners on cruise ships, but it doesn't make it any less stressful for mom and dad, who want to make sure THEIR kids aren't disrupting any meals.  My kids are very active-  they like to stand on chairs, throw forks and bang on the table.  (i.e.  They are 3 and 1).   Don't get me wrong they are delightful- but depending on their level of tired/hungry, or the terrifying combination of both, they can be little devils at dinner.  We made sure they had an appetizer RIGHT away, gave them non sharp butter knives to "cut" their food with (this is bizarre but it was such a novelty to them it kept them entertained for a few precious minutes), and bribed our way through dinner with promises and threats regarding desserts (we were on a cruise after all!).  Also, sitting near a window was top priority for our 3 year old. He never got tired of looking out.

  • Every night when you get back to the room to start showers and get the kids ready for bed put in a room service call for milk. Even if your children just drank 5 glasses at dinner they will inevitably want it before bed.  Just call in the order- it may take half hour to arrive and it will work out timing wise perfectly, every time.  Also, on night number 4 order your kids milk, and a plate of chocolate chip cookies, and watch their little hearts light up with happiness.  Dessert number 2 right BEFORE bed!?  It is a magical vacation for them too, after all. 

  • Take some me time.  Every morning my husband and I each got an hour to ourselves, sans kids.  Our cruise was awesomely unique that there was amazing workout sessions each morning.  I would go to one for an hour and my husband would go to one for an hour and we alternated who got to first depending on the workouts offered.  I recommend this me time in the morning when the kids are happy, willing to get dressed easily, ready to head out to breakfast and are easy to single-handedly wrangle in a ship dining hall.  It allowed quiet time for adults and really got each day started off calm and on the right foot.

  • Make it special for each kid and have at least 1 night of "us" time.  They have excellent kid programs on the boat for different age levels and Jud & I definitely took advantage of this a few times and usually alternated which kid to send in for a couple hours.  For dinners we had 2 dinners with both boys, 1 dinner with just Jamin, 1 dinner with just Owen, and one dinner with just us.   This was the perfect mix.  Each boy had a special date night with mom and dad, lots of fun together, and on formal night we didn't have to spend half our conversation guiding the kids.  We also split up around nap time- Owen would nap and rest with one parent and the other parent would take Jamin out for a special second trip to the splash park. 

  • If your kids wake up really early in real life, they will wake up really early on the boat.   It's just good to remember that going in.  And FYI, the rest of the ship does not wake up at 5:45 am.  Take the early morning time to take advantage of otherwise-crowded hotspots on the ship.  For us, this usually meant a round of mini-golf in the morning.  I would say 3 of the mornings it was JUST us on the upper-level gym area for at least an hour.  The kids could roam freely and we could relax.

  • Bring a baby carrier.  Jud was the brilliant idea behind bringing a baby/toddler backpack instead of a stroller.  Owen easily napped in it, had a great view, wasn't struggling to get out and really enjoyed being in it.  We used it shopping in Georgetown and it was ESPECIALLY useful during the long wait to board and depart the ship on the first and last day. It kept my husbands arms free to carry more luggage of course! It was so much smaller than a stroller that would have easily taken half our room, much easy to maneuver through small ship hallways and Owen just enjoys it more.  Happy babies=happy parents.

There's a few of my tips!  Enjoy setting sail with your little ones!

Monday, July 29, 2013

a little glimpse of this summer...

So long, sweet summer.  This is my last week before the school year starts up again.  Last summer was ALL about the kids.  We had playdates, library visits, park visits, swimming every single day.

This summer was a little bit different.  We had an abundance of storms for about 2 or 3 weeks that kept us inside most of the time.  My husband was also out of town for 11 days in July and we moved last week too.  So this summer was a lot more inside time, packing, and trying to keep the household under control- but overall, I would say we had a successful & fun summer.

Here's a little glimpse:

Owen ate a lot of snacks.

Jamin got a haircut.

There were wagon rides.

Some family exercise sessions

Lots of swimming.

Lots of trying to figure out whats for lunch.

Human potato heads.

Owen got a haircut.

The boys played together nicely...sometimes.

There was a rave party in the tub.

Jamin became a real pirate.

Unfortunately, there was some toddler moments.

Houdini.

Jamin loved his first Vacation Bible School.

Working hard at the new house.
And packing up the old house.
Monsters.

Playdates.

Weird food.

4th Anniversary!
Girls weekend for Lindsey in Greenville.

Finished P90X!

4th of July.

Jamin learned how to use the computer.

Lots of rainy day cartoons.
Jamin was jungle boy.
            
Swim lessons.

New house!

Unexpected new house surprise.

Owen found his Italian roots.







Wednesday, July 17, 2013

a story about stretch marks

Ohh, this is a weird post to write.

Let me start off by saying that I am on this crazy BeachBody journey that is blowing my mind and that is where the courage for this post comes from. For me, this journey has become more than losing weight.  It is completely changing my mindset about so many things I believed about myself to be true!

I no longer want to be skinny, I want to be strong. 
I no longer want to hide flaws, I want to share.
I no longer think that I'm average, I know I am more.
I no longer think that this is about sales, it's about helping others and helping myself.

The support that is flowing from this group of coaches and challengers is huge!  People building people up.  It's crazy awesome.

What's that got to do with stretch marks you say?

Well, here MY story that lead to BeachBody.

Chapter 1: Who likes middle school, anyways?
I always felt pretty wishy-washy about my body.  During middle school I was unfortunate enough to get terrible stretch marks across my hips and inner thighs from puberty.  They were terrible and noticeable.  And it made me feel terrible and self-conscious.

Chapter 2: "The beach?? Nah, I hate the beach."
Well, they faded!  Hooooray! Along comes high school.  I was so self-conscious from middle school that I didn't go with friends to the beach for my ENTIRE freshman year.  You guys, I live a mile from the beach.  My excuses were lame.  I didn't even own a swimsuit.  I went shopping with some girlfriends one time to find a suit and I refused to come out of the dressing room until they resorted to crawling under the door- this was completely acceptable 14 yr old behavior!

Chapter 3: Frida's broken cookies for lunch
I was on the cross country team and ran 40+ miles a week, every week, year-round.  Four years of that and I felt content with my body but I treated it so poorly. I would eat a pudding cup for breakfast (not kidding), have some chocolate chip cookies for lunch (I really wish I were kidding) and go run my heart out.  But the running kept me fit and I was happy enough with it all.

Chapter 4: How much feta can I put on one salad?
College slowed down my metabolism (as did the buffet style meal-plan) but it was manageable and the weight fell off eventually.  To be honest, I was having so much fun I didn't even know I had gained weight.  By the time it came off after moving AWAY from my buffet style food was right around when I was realizing it was even there to begin with.

Chapter 5: Hello, tankini.
And then comes love and marriage and the baby carriage.  Oh boy.

I have to be honest here, my entire life I could not wait to have children!  I couldn't wait to be pregnant but mixed in there I had a terrible deep rooted fear about what it would do to my body.  I wasn't scared of changes, or weight...I was deeply afraid of the stretch marks that I knew would be mine.

Once a stretchmark girl, always a stretchmark girl they say. I don't know if anyone says that actually. But I guess I do!

I made it really far.  8 months.  Then one morning, there it was.  One small mark.  I HATED myself.  I literally started crying and spent a few hours laying in bed and basically waiting for the rest of them.  Pity party for one.

And then they came one after another.  In two weeks I was COVERED.  They spanned all across my stomach in every direction, over my hips, and one even on my back. (really skin?? Thanks for that!)

(Let me interject here and mention how dramatic this is sounding.  Well, I'm only going to halfway apologize because although there are much, much worse things in the world, this is a TRUE feeling women get!  I'm telling you- the pressure on women to hide flaws and be perfect is HUGE.  It would be absurd to dismiss these feelings since it seems we have been trained to have them. Amen.)

Goodbye, self-esteem.  Hello, tankini.


Chapter 6: Nip Tuck
After a year of moping I was determined to get fit!  I had run three half marathons, a 10 miler, three 10K's.

I remember crying to my husband the same night after a half marathon (with a pretty decent time might I add 2:04:03) that I was disappointed in myself.  Although I had trained and beat my goal time- I still didn't like the way I looked.  I had honestly thought this would do the trick, just like it did in high school when I would eat a pudding cup and run it off, but that night when I looked in the mirror I still wasn't happy.

After a lengthy research on tummy tucks I told my husband that I was going to do p90x. P90x was currently on our shelf, where it had been for FOUR years, collecting dust.  I figured if I did it, when the time for the tummy tuck came, I would be able to rest assured that I had done everything in my power to change my body and then I could content in  my decision to opt  for medical intervention.  (I don't think I could have really gone through with a tummy tuck- but I DID use it as some solid motivation.)

Chapter 7
Visions of P90x and when to start were swirling around my head right around the time I heard of challenge groups, Shakeology, etc. for the first time....

ALL over my newsfeed.

To be honest, I was pretty annoyed by it.  But, I knew it was a "me" problem (thank you mental health grad school for this inner self-realization! lol). I was annoyed because I wanted to be doing it too.

It took me three months to decide to commit.

I knew the programs would work.  I had tried p90x before and quit after 11 days because the program demanded results and WORK.  But, to be honest, I had high doubts about Shakeology.   But I figured investing some cash into Shakeology would force me to finish the program and eat healthy.  Because if nothing else- I (and that hubby of mine) don't like to waste money.

The entire experience and balance of working out, Shakeology, nutrition, and accountability has transformed me!

I cant even really put it into words.

The pictures don't even begin to explain the changes on the inside.

I feel better than I have in years.  Energy, confidence, motivation is UP!

Finally.


Those love handles? I didn't even know I had those until they were gone- I was so focused on that baby belly of mine ;)

I am now onto my next program- T25 and an active BeachBody Coach!  I get an awesome opportunity to help others get healthy (whatever that means- tone up, eat right, lose weight, gain weight) and in the process keep myself accountable.  It. is. awesome.

Chapter 8
The coaching journey begins...I'm currently running a few challenge groups, working on improving myself from the inside out and I am delighted to say this is a "To Be Continued".

I can't wait to see what comes next!