Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Days

Yesterday was one of those perfect days.  The ones you just can't get enough of.  A wonderful balance of fulfilling work and meaningful play. 
I love these two!

Yesterday morning we woke up at our Eleanor's usual 6am.  Seriously baby, SLEEP!

After breakfast, I hunkered down to some work before we headed off to story time at the library.  Arriving home, I had a conference call and a webinar before lunch and more play time.  I was a presenter on this webinar and I was so nervous.  But everything went smoothly, and I feel like I did a stand-up job which makes me feel proud. 

So after all that hard work it was time for fun.  Alex and I took Eleanor to the Y to swim.  We took turns swimming laps while the other played with the baby.  By 3pm I felt accomplished...having a big work project under my belt, getting my work out done, and having fun with my family.  But the day wasn't over yet.

Alex and I had fun plans to visit Daveste Winery in nearby Troutman.  This is one of our favorite places.  If you recall, we hosted Alex's 30th birthday here, and we frequent it quite often.  We are very fond of all the staff and love the wines.  Last night was a special celebration for Stevie, the Tasting Room Manager.
She has worked at Daveste since they opened and it was her last night with them.  They threw a huge party in conjunction with their Thirsty Thursday event.  There was delicious food, and cake and of course wine.
The owners, whom we love, gave Stevie a nice send off and welcomed their new Tasting Room Manager.  We will miss Stevie when we visit the winery!
Outside we ran into some of our friends.  Emily actually sent me a text the day before inviting me to join them.  I replied saying we were already planning to go so we would see them there.  So much fun to hang out with friends, sip wine and listen to live music.
Our evening ended around 8pm since Eleanor was ready for bed.  (Golly, I can't get enough of that smile!)
When we got home, Alex set off to put Eleanor to sleep and meanwhile our friends Shannon and David popped in on us.  They just returned from running and wanted to chat about babysitting (Shannon is our babysitter).  Just so happens they were rushing home to eat dinner and we had dinner ready on the stove waiting for us to get home.  Of course we invited them to stay and made a little celebration of the evening.  Shannon is taking a new job (hooray) but won't be able to watch Eleanor anymore (boo!)  I was so excited for her I didn't even think about what to do about childcare.  Of course this morning it is weighing heavily on my mind.  

Oh, such a brilliant and perfect day.  Simple and sweet.  I love summer!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Healthy Swaps

Going along with yesterday's post to round out my thoughts on food, I wanted to share some great advice I have received.  I just found this on facebook:
So very true.  And that is how I have been feeling about my current eating habits.  Poisonous.  Too much processed food, sweets and wine.  I would rather be filling my body with wholesome, nutritious, powerful foods!

Brittany commented when she feels the need to clean up her diet she focuses on whole foods.  Avoiding processed foods helps to weed out the garbage without restricting her eating. 

The truth is, I know how to eat healthy.  I know what is good for my body, my mind and my soul.  I know what will make me feel strong and well.  I don't need to read another book or find another trend in the diet world to make me feel good.  All I need is simple, whole foods ingredients and I will be on the track to better health and feeling better.  More veggies, less cake.  Simple. 

This week I have made a commitment to make better eating decisions.  For me it is about swapping out the "naughty" for the "nice."  Many people don't want to label foods as good or bad, but let's be honest, there are some that are just better for you.

I know, as much as I want that everything bagel smothered in peanut butter, my two eggs scrambled with lots of veggies is a much better choice.  I do like carbs, however, and always pair my eggs with whole wheat or gluten free toast.  Otherwise I would be hungry again in minutes.

A Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich and fries calls to me more times than not.  But I equally love spinach salads with goat cheese, craisins and walnuts drizzled in balsamic.  With the addition of leftover roasted veggies and baked tofu or a hard boiled egg I usually don't miss the fast food alternative one bit!

I am trying to rely on fresh fruit and veggies for snacks.  Chips and salsa or toast with peanut butter is a typical staple in our house, but with all my free produce from Josh's Farmer's Market I know I can make better choices.  Oh, and keeping my hand out of the bag of chocolate chips six times a day could definitely help too!

I am a fanatic when it comes to eating out.  If I could eat every meal out I might possibly.  Good thing Alex is around to keep me grounded and help me make delicious meals at home.  Sesame tofu or chicken with white rice at the restaurant would not be a very healthy meal, ok on occasion, but not for a weekly indulgence.  However, at home brown rice with seasoned veggies and tofu is a great meal.  We make stir-fry's almost once a week for dinner and for many lunches as well. 

I have a condition that doesn't let me go to bed without dessert.  I don't know what it is but I just can't shake it.  No matter how late we eat dinner, I NEED a snack before bed.  I have been an ice cream fanatic since the weather turned warm.  But when I go for the ice cream I typically want 5 or 6 scoops!  Lately I have been going back to my old favorite, banana soft serve, for a cool and creamy treat that is made out of 100% whole foods.  I also have been whipping up green smoothies for a treat in the afternoons or before bed. 

See, I know how to eat healthy...I have just fallen so far off the wagon.  While something like a bagel or ice cream isn't bad for a once-in-a-while treat, I have come to rely on these simple sugars for my everyday eats.  I crave them.  And then I decide that I NEED them and then I feel like I am controlled by food.  This is where my reliance on God will help to bring me back around.  I don't NEED food, I need God and His unconditional love for me. 

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

Other great resources that were recommended to me include

Made to Crave by Lisa Terkeurst
Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

We are actually headed to the library in a bit for story time so I think I will try to find these books and give them a look.  I have been wanting to read Made to Crave for some time now.  I occasionally peruse their online devotions and I love many of Lisa's other books and studies. 

What are some of your healthy swaps?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday Confessional

Confession: I have fully indulged myself and taken advantage of the "free calories" that breastfeeding burns.  Over the last (almost) eight months I have been a non-discriminatory eater, enjoying all things cake, ice cream and chocolate related.  I've piled the peanut butter on toast and called it a "healthy" snack and have turned my nose up at spinach far too often.  And for the last eight-ish months I could not have cared less. 

But things are changing. 

Suddenly my body doesn't seem to want to continue on this non-nutritional course.  Since finding out I was pregnant with Eleanor I have been oh-so-lenient in my eating ways.  I don't really regret a minute of it.  I look back (way back) remembering how I had such great intentions of a healthy and fit pregnancy.  While I wasn't out of control by any means, I wasn't exactly healthy and fit either. 

It has been 16 long months since I first knew I was pregnant.  My how much has changed in those months.  My life today is so different from the life I knew then.  And so much better.   Yet, I find myself cycling back into old thoughts and habits from days controlled by disordered eating and weighty issues.  For starters, my eating is catching up to me now that Eleanor is no longer nursing 10 or 12 times a day (yes that was our life for months!) 

In fact, Eleanor is down to just 4 or 5 nursing sessions a day and my metabolism is taking a hit.  I can no longer justify eating five scoops of ice cream or going for seconds and thirds on dessert.  It's not just dessert either.  It's my tendency to choose the french fries over the baked sweet potato and the chips and salsa over the carrot sticks, or the diet coke over the water.  My good, habitual eating habits have fallen far and I struggle now to make good decisions with food.

As I cycle through these realizations my first instinct is to restrict.  I feel the need to stamp another label on eating or find a new trend to follow.  Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, etc.  Every time my mind reaches to these places I remind myself that this isn't an easy fix; it's not a short and quick problem.  This is my life and I need to find a balance that will last just as a long.  No 3-week plan, no quick cleanse.  It's about learning to make healthy choices most often and relying on God for strength and endurance. 

I tend to crave "naughty" things.  We all have a craving for something.  I believe my real craving is for God, yet I try to fill that void with food.  Maybe you try to fill the void with clothes, money, busy-ness, etc.  I don't want to cover up my bad eating with a band aid and call it a day.  I want to reach into the root of the problem and find a solution.  I want to crave time with God not food.  And I want to fuel my body with whole foods that help me feel strong and good about myself.  I don't want to have another "diet" to follow that will allow me to feel better about myself through controlling my food.  I want less control.  Not more.  Make sense?

I don't know where I'm going with this here.  It is just a proclamation of where I am today.  I'm struggling with the desire to cut out sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, etc to get where I want to be, yet also desiring a life of balance not restriction.  In a perfect world I want to eat to live.  I want to fuel up for the tasks of life without over thinking food or over-eating or indulging.  Yet, I also love food and I love that it is a passion so I don't want food to be dull and boring to me either.  I feel caught in this web, in the entanglement of my desires. 

As I try to find a balance of the right amount of the right kinds of food for my day-to-day life I am hoping to seek God's guidance more and my control less.  I hope to find a balance of healthy eating and enjoyment from food and not to worry as much about my weight and how I compare to other women.  I want to be me and I want that me to be as close to God as possible.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Good morning friends!  And happy Summer!

And also, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mom today!

This post may have no point other than to share the gobs of photos I have been snapping lately.  How can I resist when Eleanor is just so awesome?
I know.  I'm partial.

We had a wonderful weekend and really celebrated the fact that summer is officially here.  It wasn't all fun and games, I did have business to attend to.  One giant budget meeting for Girls on the Run for our next fiscal year.  But when your business meetings also includes seeing some of your best friends, it really makes up for all the numbers you are forced to stare at.
After the budget meeting, Alex and I played tourists in our own town and scoped out some shops around downtown Mooresville.  We popped into one of my favorite consignment stores and found this doll.
 I know, China Dolls can be a little spooky.  I agree.  However, I had this same exact doll when I was a child and I just couldn't resist picking it up for Eleanor.
It was love at first sight.  She crawled all over the room chasing it down.  What a terrific find!

Sunday we visited Alex's mom in Winston-Salem. 
Eleanor had fun showing off all her new tricks to her Vovvy and Grandpa.
Such a daddy's girl!
Also loving on her Grandpa:
Summer is fun.  Laid back afternoons.  Time spent with family. 

But summer can also be difficult in our house.  I work a 30-hour a week job from home.  Having Eleanor and Alex at home all day can be quite distracting.  I am struggling to focus on Girls on the Run when the promise of play and freedom is right next door.  So far we have balanced our days well.  I plow through work for most of the morning.  Break for lunch and usually do a work/play mix in the afternoon.  For example, I will have to run errands to Staples and the Post Office so I coax Alex and Eleanor into joining me and we stop at the swings when we are done. 

Today I coaxed them into riding to Salisbury with me.  I had a meeting with Parks and Rec and they played outside in the playground.  After, we all walked around downtown Salisbury to play tourist in that town. 

I imagine this will be how most of our days will play out this summer.  Just wish me luck in balancing play and work!

Friday, June 21, 2013


Who doesn't love matching babies?  This occurrence happened completely on accident which makes it even more sweeter.
The last two days have been filled.  Eleanor and I have been having so much fun out of the house, mainly with this little girl.
On Wednesday we planned an all day shopping trip with Brittney and Harper including Babies R Us and Ikea.  We came home just in time for Alex to get off work.  I can't stand that he was working this week so it worked out perfectly that he was home when we got there.  Our Wednesday also included a morning jog with the stroller and a quick play date at Shannon's with the boys before we met up with Brittney.  All-in-all a most perfect day.
Thursday was just as wonderful.  We played at home until after Eleanor's morning nap.  Then we packed our bags for the day and darted off to Story Time at the library where we also met up with Brittney and Harper (we are kind of obsessed with each other...or at least our babies are!)  After library time Eleanor and I drove up to Statesville to have a picnic lunch with Alex to celebrate his last day of work for the summer (FINALLY!) and then back to Brittney's (yes we are borderline attached at the hip) for an afternoon of swimming with the girls. 

Once again I arrived home just as Alex did and proceeded to drop Eleanor with him while I did some grocery shopping to prepare for the Thirty-One party I hosted last night.  I was impressed with how many friends showed up and we had a blast! 

I know stories aren't as much fun without pictures, but yesterday got away from me.  Trust me when I say it was another perfect day. 

And now FINALLY I can say Happy Summer!  As Alex is done with work and it is actually the first day of Summer.  Oh what a relief!  I am looking forward to many fun days this summer!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

And then this happened...

And so this happened yesterday...
Yesterday was one of those rare days without any plans.  It was also an overcast, gray day.  Eleanor and I holed up inside and played for hours.  She is wonderful at independent play and rarely needs me to entertain her.  But every now and again she will look up at me as if to say "Mom, you see this, right? Look how awesome!"
I may be crazy but I let Eleanor explore just about everything.  From foods to tearing through her cloth diapers, I never really stop her.  For a moment I thought to say no when she started pulling baskets off the shelf.  But she was so intrigued by it all and then finally pulled herself up to standing to get to the baskets even higher up.  She is learning so much these days and is incredibly fun to watch.  I just sit back and observe this tiny little being soaking up her world.  
Not only has she learned how to stand up on her own, but she also seems to moving across the floor with more ease.  She has a hard time crawling.  She pushes backwards.  And now that she can move to sitting on her own, usually winds up there instead of crawling.  But no matter, because she still manages to scoot across the floor and attack whichever toy lured her (sometimes it's my painted toenails).  

For the past several weeks we have been go-go-go.  It was such a nice change to be home for an entire day, to go through our routine, take 3 solid naps (Eleanor of course, not me--although I did actually take one nap with her!) eat in her highchair and explore her little bedroom on hands and knees...and feet!  What a wonderful day!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Seven Months

Eleanor Margaret turned seven months old last week!  With each new month comes so much more excitement, also many more challenges.  Eleanor is a vibrant baby.  She is always so happy and bubbling over with joy.  She is aware and strong and determined.  And so much fun!
We hit many major milestones this month.  The first: Eleanor's teeth!
One day there was nothing, and then the next day I felt the sharp impact as she nibbled on my finger.  And then two days later the second one emerged.  Alex and I never noticed a difference in her behavior or personality while she was cutting teeth.  She never showed signs of discomfort or fussiness related to teething.  We got very lucky with these first two teeth.
This month Eleanor also started sleeping through the night.  If her six month was identified by little or no sleep, this seventh month could be described as the exact opposite.  Almost right at her six month mark she started sleeping through the night and we haven't looked back since.  Even while in Missouri last week she did excellent.  Of course getting her to sleep through the night wasn't an easy process.  We slowly whittled away each nursing session and eventually went cold turkey on soothing her at night.  And then one morning we woke up and realized we hadn't once checked on Eleanor at night.  It was an amazing feeling, but also terrifying!  I remember leaping out of bed to check on her and sighing with relief when I saw that she was alive and well.  
I still feel that way when I wake up in the morning from a full night's rest.  After seven long months of broken sleep it feels amazing to sleep through the night again.  Thank you Eleanor!  And sleep training!
Eleanor surprised us one morning as we walked into her room and found her sitting up in her crib.  This was the first time she managed to go from laying down to sitting up all on her own.  Over the course of the month I found her several times sitting up when I remembered leaving her on her belly or back.  With my back turned she was learning new tricks.  Finally I caught her with my own two eyes, and the camera and now she does it all the time.  We are struggling to get her to learn to crawl because she goes from her belly straight up into sitting.  
This month Eleanor came down with a terrible virus.  After running a very high temperature for four days her doctor's recommended we spend the night at the children's hospital in Charlotte for observation.  It was a difficult experience, very stressful, but we made the best of the situation.  Our little girl was in high spirits the entire evening.  The following morning her fever broke and we returned home after a fitful night of sleep.  We were happy to be home and not anxious to return to the hospital again anytime soon.  When Eleanor gets sick, she gets really sick!
Adventure was the theme for this month.  We took a chance and went camping with our little girl.  We had a blast hiking and sitting around the campfire.  She slept well in her daddy's arms on the air mattress.  She was a trooper through a ten mile hike and being outdoors all day.  We certainly want to do more camping with her this summer.
 Another big adventure for us this month was the two of us flying to Missouri without Alex.  We survived the flight and the trip and are happy to be back home with our number one guy!  
Life with Eleanor gets sweeter and sweeter as the days pass.  We get to know more of her personality each day.  She continues to amaze us in every possible way.  I look at our little life, our little family and our little home and I can't imagine how I got so very lucky in life.  I joked with Alex yesterday how silly we were to think we weren't yet ready for babies.  Now looking at this sweet child, I can't imagine ever going back.  I wouldn't want a single day of my life to be without her.  
Happy Seven Months baby girl!
What an awesome month!  At seven month's old Eleanor loves to swim, sit up, eat solid foods (and lots of them).  She likes to try to crawl and get around, she moves with intention and determination.  Eleanor loves when people smile at her and talk to her and is very responsive and exciteable.  And her very favorite thing is still swinging. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The day that was fabulous

I want to first wish this guy a Happy Father's Day! I had such a wonderful time last week and am so happy I got to spend quality time with my wonderful dad.  I could say so much, but this post is really about another great dad I know.
Happy First Father's Day Alex!  I hope it was special and memorable.  I couldn't ask for a better partner in this adventure called "parenthood."  I am really so terribly lucky to have you.  And so is Eleanor.

Alex: You are patient and kind.  Generous and loving.  These sound like systematic endearments, but as I write them, I want you to know that I realize you are patient beyond reason.  Kind beyond reason.  Generous beyond reason.  And loving beyond reason.  When it is hard, you step up.  When things don't go our way, you navigate through it.  When I just don't know what to do, you find a solution.  You step in when you don't have to.  You offer to help when I need it most.  You do things dads aren't expected to do.  And you do them with grace and care.  And I love you so much for it.
This is my rock.  Our rock.

I wanted to make Alex's first Father's Day as special as could be.  Eleanor woke up early and I wanted Alex to have a chance to enjoy a bit of a sleep-in.  So I grabbed the baby and we went out for a run together.  After a sweaty 7am run I headed to the store to pick up ingredients for a fun breakfast.
After watching an episode of Master Chef the other night I decided to try my hand at poached eggs.  The first few were difficult and messy, but once I got the hang of it they turned out rather pretty.
Served runny over an English muffin and vegetarian breakfast sausage.  Alex topped his with a little hot sauce as well.  I was proud of myself for such an accomplishment and we both really enjoyed this treat.
Fresh cantaloupe on the side.

After breakfast we dashed off to church and followed it up with lunch with friends.
I promise Eleanor loves Miss Katie!  I am sure there is a good explanation for that concerned look below! I think she was asking me why she hasn't seen Miss Katie in so long...she missed her.
After lunch there was obligatory frozen yogurt since it was free for dad's.
Hello there Adam and Porter!  Happy Father's Day to you as well!
Our afternoon was lazy.  We laid around the house and stopped by the local bike shop to check out some sales.  *Disclaimer: sales at the bike shop does not equal cheap.  The stuff is still so expensive!*

In the evening we attended a graduation party for Elijah and Whitney.  Elijah managed to steal out of any photos but here is the pretty lady:
Happy Graduation Whitney!
Eleanor loved the swing while I loved the homemade pizza and wine! 
And that's a wrap.  A fun, simple day.  Shared with all our friends.  Happy Father's Day Alex!  Thanks for being amazing!  I think I talk way too much about Eleanor these days and Alex doesn't get much blog love.  Which means I have neglected to share some big Alex news as of late.  I couldn't be more proud of my husband for all he has accomplished and all he does.  But this year he is embarking on two very new, very challenging journeys.

First, Alex just landed a new job.  For the first time in his career he will be out of the classroom.  I can't wait to see how he will grow and thrive in his new role as Instructional Facilitator.  The short explanation to the job title is that he will be "teaching teachers."  His new role is at a different high school and it will be his job to facilitate trainings and professional development for the teachers at the school.  He interviewed the week before we went camping and found out he got the job while I was away in Missouri.  I was sad I wasn't here to celebrate with him when he received the news but we have since toasted to his new job.

His second big journey starting this year is seminary.  Alex will begin classes this summer to work toward a Master's degree in Christian Leadership from a local seminary.  He has a big year ahead of him with the transition of a new job and transition back into being a student but I know that he is going to succeed at all of it.  He is such a talented and smart man and I am so excited for him!