Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mornings and Fitness

Without getting into too much detail (I only have about 10 minutes to post), I will say that fitness, and even healthy eating has taken a serious backseat in my life.  We still eat really healthy meals, but our snacks are lacking.  They are carb heavy and loaded with sugar, AKA cookies, cake, bread, peanut butter. 

Fitness--well I have every excuse in the book.  The best one is clearly Eleanor.  She wakes up and naps 90 minutes later.  That leaves my morning window of opportunity very small.  And I'm just not an afternoon exerciser.  Or an evening one for that matter.  I like our little schedule at home and hate to mess it up, so the gym is typically out of the question in the mornings.  What's a girl to do?
Bust out the jogging stroggler (or you know, my Britax, because I don't have a real and fancy jogging stroller).

Boy you know this jogging stroller business is no joke.  That is some serious hardwork.  It could make even the best runner want to quit I'm certain.  So I hate it.  But I also love it.  Because I get to do it with Eleanor and she keeps me company.  When she starts to fuss, it is like I get to encourage her across the finish line which also keeps me going. 

This morning we darted out right after she woke up and I nursed her.  This is her happiest part of the day, so while I missed our face time, I thought it was my best chance to get three solid miles in.  She whined a little, but it was a success.   They were three very slow miles-- my giant breakfast of french toast was not doing me any favors.  But I accomplished them.  Ahem, I mean we accomplished them.

Eleanor doesn't seem to mind being in the stroller, but she does get burnt out quickly.  She likes to see faces and can't interact while in the stroller facing out.  Prior to this morning we have not made it more than a mile and a half together, so I am super, duper proud of her.

We rushed back home, I nursed her, and she is down for her regularly scheduled morning nap.  I don't think this will work for us every morning, but maybe if I can incorporate it once a week it will leave me feeling better about my lack of fitness in general.   

Today I conquered my workout.  I will worry about tomorrow when it gets here.

Monday, April 29, 2013

First Foods

When people ask me how old Eleanor is I always answer "Six Months."  I've been saying this for weeks although technically she still has one more week to go.  I don't know why I am so anxious for her to reach this milestone...perhaps because she really is growing and changing so rapidly.
Six months is a big deal.  I can't believe that Eleanor has been here for almost half a year.  These months have been so much fun.  Watching Eleanor grow and change has been amazing.  I know every mom feels that she is just the luckiest lady to watch her child grow up, and so do I.  It makes me feel so special.

While I have embraced and loved every single stage of Eleanor's development, I have been looking forward to one thing the most.  I like watching her roll over and even attempting to crawl, but I am really anxious to watch her eat foods.  So anxious that I could hardly help myself when I had a half of a banana lurking around the kitchen on Thursday at the beach.
This was not the plan.  We were intending to wait until exactly six months.  I wanted her first taste of food to be sweet potato.  But that cute little face was begging for a taste and she loved every bit of it!
I promise.

Our plan for food is Baby Led Weaning.  This is a fancy, cheesy name for letting your baby eat regular foods.  Of course it has to be done within reason, but there is very little restriction on what babies can eat.  We don't intend to get particular with certain foods.  Many people decide to hold off on foods that are considered high-allergens.  Typically eggs, peanuts and soy are found on this list.  I think we will plunge forward with all three of these foods within the first couple months.  Of course sweet potatoes are high on our first foods list. 
Obviously tortilla chips aren't on the list.  She is so interested in what we are eating.  It makes me think twice about what I order or cook because soon I will be feeding her off my plate regularly.
Please mom!

We will probably wait until she's six months old (8 more days) before we give her much more solid foods (this is not true...as of publishing she has already enjoyed sweet potatoes and strawberries, whoops!), but we can definitely tell she is ready.  She is so into what is going on while we are eating.  She is stalking our cups and food and mouthing chewing motions.  She is so cute and I can't wait to see her fully covered in crumbs and mushed up food! 

I am so excited for this new stage of development.  It gives us something really fun to do every single day.  This is an adventure I am ready to embark on. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fun in the Sun

We are home, and back to the grind.  Today I am plowing through work.  But I wanted to take a moment and share some of the excitement from our beach trip.  This wasn't just Andy and Brittany and Matthew's first time...it was Eleanor's too!
The verdict: Not so good.  She hated the chilly water and wasn't too fond of the sand.  She had a much better time chilling in the shade practicing her tricks.  She has sitting up mastered.
Her new trick:
She can now push up onto her hands and knees for just a few seconds before belly-flopping back down.  She grunts as she pushes up.  It is such hard work.  I am so proud of her.  It is amazing how something so seemingly simple as crawling can elicit such pride in a mom and dad.
I was relegated to the shade as official baby-watcher while Alex and Andy played in the surf.  I don't have many tan lines to speak of from this trip.  But watching Eleanor take it all in was well worth the sacrifice.
We spent all day under the shade of the tent, relaxing, playing, and laughing.
Watching children enjoy the beach for the very first time is priceless!
While Eleanor hated the chill of the ocean water, we really thought she would enjoy the heated pool.   She loves baths so this was a no-brainer.
Clearly she wasn't enjoying it.  I guess it was still a little too cold for her.  Since then she has cried through every bath we have given her too.  I hope we haven't scared her away from water for good!
After a long day on the beach we took a walk to a nearby park.  Eleanor loves swings, so we let her enjoy this one for a long time, making up for all the sand and water torture from earlier in the day.
We are so very fortunate to be able to take a mid-week break like this one, enjoy time with good friends and rejuvenate.  When Alex went back to work today it was like a sigh of relief knowing that he only had to work today and then we have the weekend to regroup.  I can't wait for the summer and many more fun days like these!
Thanks Andy and Brittany for visiting and giving us an excuse to hit the beach!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Beach Bodies

Let's talk for just a minute about how I rocked a bikini yesterday six months post-partum.  As I packed my bags for the beach I was a little hesitant...but instead of dwelling on all my many imperfections, I decided to have fun and not think about it.  I never once worried about the extra rolls that formed as I bent over to change a diaper or swing Eleanor in the air.  I didn't even blink an eye when the cameras were being snapped.  Instead, I walked away from our day on the beach with confidence and joy in my little family.  Life is too short.  I know that it is easier said than done.  But I did it.  And I feel proud.  (It doesn't hurt that everyone is really staring at the cute baby in the photos and not the way my swim suit is hugging my curves.)

Our mini beach trip was so much fun.  I have a ton more photos to share soon! Until then, I'm off to enjoy another day on the sand!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beach Days

Unbeknownst to me, I accompanied Andy and Brittany and Matthew to the beach for the very first time ever.
No, not just Matthew's very first time ever...but Andy and Brittany's as well!
They are enthralled and we are having a blast with them!  I am so excited we get to be here with them.
And we get to stay in this amazing condo while we are here!  I think I did good for their first time to the beach.  What an amazing trip.  Now off to play some more!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Five Things

I'm busy.  No, I'm not "glorifying" busy.  I'm busy with the life's good things: friends, baking, baby-care, and more.  While I'm on hiatus enjoying time with some of my best friends who are in town visiting I wanted to leave you with a quick little post...

Five Things I'm Loving Lately

1.  Homemade Bread

Jenna passed off a bit of her starter to me last week and every 3-6 days it needs to be fed and I have to bake off bread.  It makes two very large loafs and we are digging the fresh sourdough bread each week.  I am hope I can keep this up because it is a deliciously fun hobby!

2.  Exploring New Places in my very own town

Because Andy and Brittany are in town we are running around finding fun things for the kiddos.  Together we discovered Lazy 5 Ranch and the Discovery Place Kids Museum.  So much fun!  These are places I probably wouldn't go on my own, but with friends visiting it is like exploring my own town as a tourist.

3.  My neighbors and their love for baking. 

Twice this week they have brought over a stack of fresh, homemade cookies.  We have just recently started making friends with our surrounding neighbors and are so blessed with friendly folks.  Our next door neighbors invited us over for a BBQ last weekend, and now all these cookies! 

4.  Eating Out.

I love cooking at home too.  But I really enjoy eating out.  With friends in town there is no guilt in grabbing lunch out each day. 

5.  Eleanor.

Well, duh.  She is amazing.  This week has been so full of fun surprises.  She is now sitting up on her own and it opens up a new world for both of us...including high chairs at restaurants (see #4).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dinner with Friends

Something Alex and I make a point of doing fairly often is having friends over for dinner.  We love to cook, we love to share food, we love to eat, we love to visit with people.  It all adds up.  Hosting dinner "parties" can be a ton of fun, but it can also be a ton of work.  The extra work in a day can equal extra stress, exhaustion and sometimes even grumpiness.  When we are busy every night of the week I can tend to be cranky and need some "me" time to regroup.  But hosting dinner for friends shouldn't cause extra stress and tension, it should release it as you sip wine with loved ones and chat about lives, God, family and more.  So how do we do it?  How can it be effortless, and not just look effortless?  Here are things I consider:

1.  Make a meal that is easy to prep in advance.  Lasagna, stuffed peppers (on the menu tonight), pasta salad, casserole, soup etc.  Do all the prep work before, throw it in the oven and set the timer and relax until your friends arrive.

2.  Along those lines, cook something easy and probably something that you have made a dozen times before.  It doesn't have to be gourmet...just good.  Most people like your traditional home cooked meals.  Keep it simple.

3.  Consider allergies and food preferences in advance.  While Alex and I eat vegan most of the time, I will venture out into the meat and dairy land, while Alex doesn't touch it.  It means so much to us when someone will go out of their way to prepare a meal with us in mind.  When you invite your friends over a simple "Is there anything you just absolutely don't like?"  Then you know you are in the clear. 

4.  Don't clean your house.  It doesn't matter.  Do you think their house is currently spotless?  Nope.  So pick one or two things you can control, and forget about the rest.  Usually I don't bother with floors.  They are just going to get more dirty.  But I will clean the toilet bowl and wipe down the sink (or ask Alex to).  In the end, it is the conversation that counts, the fellowship with friends and the relationships.  If you wait to have a perfectly clean house, you will never wind up hosting that dinner and will miss out on the opportunity to grow in your relationships.

5.  Don't be afraid to make it a potluck.  We like to host (it is easier with Eleanor) but our friends don't mind contributing to the meal.  When they ask "What can we bring?" it is safe to say just yourselves the first time.  The next time they get to bring the salad and the bread. 

Last night our dear friends Ben and Brittney hosted us for dinner.  Taking in two (semi) vegans can be a daunting task.  But they met the challenge and served a delicious bow-tie pasta salad with York Peppermint Patty brownies for dessert.  Alex and I contributed a loaf of the sourdough bread we made this week.  Dinner was wonderful.  But what was even better was spending time with Ben and Brittney.  In just the few short months we have known them they have become some of our best friends.  And I think it is largely in part that none of us are scared to make the effort. 

I received a devotional from Proverbs 31 this morning about friendship.  I quote:

Friendship is risky.  To be known is to risk being hurt. But friendship can be beautiful, and worth the risk.

There are so many examples of friendship in the bible.  I know God created friends to help us through this life.  By meeting and eating together we invest in our friendships and also in Christ.  In the bible Acts describes the early church saying:

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.       --Acts 2:46

So tonight we are now hosting a dinner party for Kay and Toby who have just returned from Mwandi.  I did actually choose to mop the floors for this dinner (only because they were SO.BAD.) and I made Brittany's Fiesta Stuffed Peppers (using vegan meat and cheese) so they are ready to pop in the oven when our guests arrive.  They are bringing the salad and wine and it will be a fun night of catching up! 

Do you host friends for dinner?  Does it make you nervous/overwhelmed?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

WIAW-Sourdough Edition

Good morning and happy Wednesday!  I remembered to snap photos of all my food yesterday...so today you get What I Ate Wednesday.
Breakfast was inspired by the leftover yogurt dip in the fridge.  "Hmmm, what can I put that on?"  French Toast.  Two slices whole wheat bread dipped in a mixture of egg, almond milk, cinnamon and vanilla, and grilled to perfection on the stove.  Topped with fruit and yogurt dip.
 Coffee on the side.  I know it's decaf, but it makes me feel human.
Lunch could not come quick enough.  By 11:30am I was throwing together this salad.  Spring mix topped with quinoa and cooked beans, broccoli and guacamole, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  I was nervous about beans and broccoli, but Eleanor didn't seem to mind at all.  

The salad wasn't nearly enough to stave off my appetite so minutes later I went back for more yogurt dip.
Served with a sliced banana.  Yumm!

In the afternoon I was out cold calling.  Ugh!  So I rewarded myself with not one, but two chocolates taken from separate offices.
Meanwhile at home I had two loaves of sourdough rising.  Oooh, I couldn't wait to get my hands on these so I kept putting off my afternoon snack until nearly five when they were done baking.
Perfection!  We could hardly wait for it to cool long enough to slice into and slather with butter.
Slice number two was served alongside our Strawberry Salads.  
While Eleanor sat alongside us in her high chair for the FIRST.TIME.EVER.
She didn't love.  Just a few more weeks and I will be filling that tray with goodies for her to stick in her mouth too!
Dessert was (you guessed it!) the last of the yogurt dip with leftover strawberries from dinner and toasted almonds and coconut.  
And another cup of decaf with a piece of chocolate.  

It was a delicious day! Now I'm off to inhale more bread!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Making Bread

Yesterday I hosted a play group at my house.  With five pretty little girls, we all had so much fun!  Bekah brought the most wonderful snack:
Yogurt parfaits, only she made the yogurt especially yummy with cinnamon and honey and a bit of whip cream.  
The moms snacked and chatted and the girls played.  This is becoming a regular play group for me and I love it so much.  I have been trying hard since Eleanor was born to put a mom's group together with my friends and finally feel like I have what I've been looking for!
Well, hello there Miss Harper! So good to see you sitting up all by yourself!
We had a very fun morning.  

Jenna brought me over a special little project.
I would have never been able to guess what it is either...Sourdough Starter.  So as we speak, I have two loaves of homemade sourdough bread rising in the kitchen.  Wish me luck!
Have a wonderful Tuesday friends!