Monday, February 27, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday, friends.

I went a little MIA towards the end of last week because we had Madeline's one year checkup on Thursday and the dreaded twelve-month shots. It was awful. She was grumpy and fussy for a couple days but the actual shots were a little traumatic...mostly for me, though! We love her pediatrician but Madeline is so much more aware than she was for the last set so she just looked up at me the whole time (all of 90 seconds) with a look that screamed, "Mom! How could you let them do this to me?" And we both cried all the way home. And I cried again recounting it to my friends from play group and once again when I was recapping the visit to Corey. Sometimes being a mom is hard.
She is finally feeling better, though, and still obsessed with her balloons. The ones that were only supposed to last 8 hours. I don't have the heart to pop them. 

Speaking of parenting, lets talk about mom brain for just a minute. We were planning to go to one of Madeline's little buddies' first birthday parties on Sunday. I've had it on my calendar for that day for over a month. During her nap, I set out our outfits and finished wrapping our gift. Then, I got the invitation to check the address and realized for the very first time that it said Saturday. #momfail

I'm finally going to get around to starting our home tour later this week. We'll be starting with the dining room, which I think might be my favorite. We moved in this house in June and did some minor renovations. We still have things we need to do, like some kitchen and bathroom refreshes (i.e. get rid of the sea shell sink and builder grade mirrors) but that's a project for a different year. 

Corey and I watched Episode 1 of HBO's Big Little Lies and it was so good. So far it is exactly like the book and I highly recommend it. But, make sure you read the book first, which is awesome.

We have a low-key week ahead with few commitments and I am pretty excited about that. Things have been way too busy around here lately. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Quick + Healthy: Pineapple Teriyaki Stirfry

Every week I try to meal plan for at least three dinners, depending on our schedule. It's really important to me that we eat healthy, clean meals. I want Corey and I to be healthy, to have a toolbox of tried and true clean meals to share with clients, and to set a good example for Madeline. She wants to eat what we want to eat. We have to lead by example.

But...I am only human and I am busy. Some times I fail to plan. Like last week when I completely forgot to enter our grocery order on Sunday and then by Monday  morning the first available pick up was early afternoon. Ugh.

I love crockpot meals for Mondays because I tutor at 5:30. That way, Corey or my mother-in-law don't have to worry about cooking dinner when they are getting Madeline ready for bed. Well, my plan for crockpot chicken taco salads went out the window with the late pickup so I decided to try a quick and easy stir fry that I made up in my head as I went along.

Have you ever tried these Aidells' chicken meatballs? They have them at our grocery store and I've gotten them in bulk at Costco then frozen them before as well. They are good and there are lots of other flavors to choose from, too.

So, to make this meal, slice up a bell pepper and onion. I also had some pre-chopped broccoli florets as well. Then, heat a little coconut oil or sesame seed oil in a large pan or wok. 

Sauté veggies with a clove of minced garlic for 1-2 minutes then add in meatballs and 1/4 cup of this soyaki sauce. 
I get a lot of questions about teriyaki and soy sauce from clients doing the 21 Day Fix. They are technically not allowed. Here is a great recipe for clean teriyaki and you can sub in pure aminos for soy sauce. Personally, I think the Trader Joe's soyaki is fairly clean and much easier than making my own so I use it in our household. Everything in moderation. 

The meatballs are already cooked so you are really just warming them through. I let them simmer until they are warmed throughout then add in some diced pineapple and cook for 2-3 minutes, just until it is warm. 

Serve over quinoa, brown rice, or with a side Asian salad.

This recipe doesn't really require measuring or any actual kitchen skills, but here is your grocery list:

  • Aidells pineapple teriyaki meatballs
  • Bell pepper
  • Onion
  • Broccoli 
  • Diced pineapple
  • 1 clove of garlic 
  • Teriyaki sauce (TJ's preferred)
  • Brown rice/quinoa/salad if desired 
What are your favorite easy but healthy meals?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Coffee + Conversation (Madeline's birthday edition)

We had just the best weekend celebrating our girl's first birthday. I wrote a little about my thoughts about the past year on Friday if you missed that. Our celebrations really started last Wednesday when Madeline's aunt and uncle arrived from San Francisco to spend some time with her before her special day. Then, on Friday (her actual birthday) we took her to the Original Pancake House in South Park and she had the best time with a special birthday breakfast. We came home and surprised her with her brand new Cozy Coupe and took her on a little neighborhood ride before her morning nap.

We had her party on Saturday and it lived up to all my Pinterest dreams. 

Lots of her friends and family were in attendance and we had a great time. It was a little overwhelming so we didn't open presents until Sunday morning but she has plenty of fun, new things to entertain her. I'll do a more thorough recap some time next week. 

This week, I'm getting back on the bandwagon with my meal planning and exercise after too many indulgences last week while our family was in town and we were celebrating. I still managed to get five workouts in last week amidst all the party prep but my clean eating was for sure not on point. 

I hope some of you are enjoying a day off from work today. The weather is perfect here in North Carolina so we are looking forward to a lunch date with a friend, a long walk with Daddy, and playing with our new toys outside. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

To Madeline on her first birthday

Happy first birthday, Madeline!

It's hard to believe that it has been a year since you, a tiny 5lb 15 oz bundle, were laid in my arms for the very first time. 

I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy so in some ways, I don't think I ever properly anticipated that moment. I'm sure you will grow up knowing how much you healed our family's broken hearts at just the right time. After a really tough year, I honestly couldn't believe something so incredible was happening until I actually laid eyes on you and heard you cry. You are our greatest blessing and meeting you for the first time was a moment that changed my life forever.

My mother-in-law, whose babies were all nine pounds or bigger, kept saying you were the tiniest baby she had ever seen but you taught us right away that you were strong, a little sassy, and a force to be reckoned with. 

I feel so fortunate to have been entrusted with the incredible responsibility to keep you safe and help you grow strong and into a good person. This has been terrifying at times. The day your dad went back to work after you were born might have been one of the scariest days of my life, with five long days of just the two of us stretching out in front of me.

I like to think we've figured it out pretty well, though, and enjoy our days together. When I think back to this day one year ago, I can see how much we've both grown and learned. 

You learned to smile, coo, laugh, roll, sit up, babble, crawl, stand, squeal and scream, feed yourself say "dada" and "mama", clap, wave, and walk with a little help. We went to play dates and joined play groups, went to Story Time at the library and played on the swings at the park. We made new friends and joined baby music class and you soaked in the world around you.

But, sweet girl, I almost think you have taught me more than I have taught you this year. 

I learned to nurse and how to do something challenging for someone you love. I learned everything about baby sleep (and the lack there of). I learned about baby food making and baby proofing. I learned about fostering social and physical development and trying to take it day by day. I learned a new level of patience. I learned to re-prioritize what is really important. I learned to say no and slow down. I learned sacrifice. I learned unconditional love. 

Thank you for surprising us by entering the world ten days early on this day last year. You have been bringing the most beautiful surprises with you ever since, like when you laughed for the first time while I was changing your diaper two days before my maternity leave ended. Like you just knew I'd been so worried I would miss it! Or by rolling over when I stepped out of the room during tummy time and waiting for me on your back when I returned! Or saying "mama" for the very first time on my birthday!

I hope you grow up knowing you are so very loved by so many people, especially me and Daddy. I can't wait to see all you do in life, precious girl! Happy first birthday! 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Madeline's Birth Story (+ newborn photographs)

It's hard to believe our sweet girl turns one year old tomorrow. This year has been by far the most incredible year yet and I can't even believe that day that changed our lives forever was a year ago. So much of the day she came into our lives seems too personal to share but I do want to write some things down so I don't forget.  

In true Madeline fashion, she surprised us in the best way possible by not waiting until her due date. Our sweet Madeline was born ten days before her due date on February 17, 2016. It is so incredibly amazing how much your heart can expand and grow in one day. That tiny bundle was placed in our arms and our family suddenly felt complete, even though we didn't know something was missing. Isn't that the craziest, most surreal feeling? The day before (a year ago today) I'd been really busy at work. I was scheduled to work until the next Friday but was pretty sure I was going to be written out after my appointment that Thursday due to how swollen I was. My doctor had already mentioned it and I had been very adamant about trying to make it to that day so I wouldn't have to change my return date from maternity leave. 

All along I was convinced she would arrive late. My parents prayed and prayed for a pregnancy for almost four years and then when my mom was finally pregnant with me, she went nineteen(!) days past her due date before having a c-section. So, I really just knew there was no way Madeline was coming on her own, much less early. I did talk to her inside my belly pretty often and ask her not to make her debut on Leap Day so maybe that helped get things moving.

Exactly one year ago, on the night before Madeline was born, I stayed pretty late at work getting some things finished for my long term sub and made piles of things to do each day for the rest of the week so that I would be ready. My sub binder was finally finished and perfect and I posted a picture of it to Instagram. Then, I ran a few errands and rewarded myself with a milkshake and headed home. Perhaps this was my version of nesting because my classroom had been a total disaster recently. Corey grilled burgers and made roasted broccoli and homemade sweet potato fries for dinner and I got a few more things done at home. 

We settled in on the couch and I graded papers for hours. Graded work goes home on Wednesdays so I wanted to have everything off my plate and enough to send home the following day and get started for the next week in case I ended up going out of work early. Corey had had a terrible day at work and finally went to bed around ten and I graded until 10:45 then packed my bag for work and got ready for bed. Around 12:30, I woke up in a small puddle and I was pretty sure I knew what that meant but I didn't feel anything special or out of the ordinary. Surely, the impending arrival of our daughter would have felt more....monumental? So, I went to the restroom, put on a pad, and googled "How to know if your water broke."

The overwhelming results of that search concluded that as a pregnant women at that stage either my water broke or I had a bathroom accident, to which I immediately knew was impossible because I go six or so hours at work every single day without having a chance to pee! Teachers have bladders of champions, even while pregnant. So, I called my doctor's call service. They said I would get a call back in 30 minutes so I tried to tiptoe around and get things done without waking up Corey. You know, important things like finishing packing my hospital bag.

I also went downstairs to neaten up because our cleaning lady wasn't due until that Saturday and if this was really it then my mother in law would get back to our house before I did. Not to mention friends would be coming and going to take care of Riley and they could just not come in without everything in its proper place! Corey could sense me walking around and woke up to ask if everything was ok. I hadn't wanted to wake him until I heard back from my doctor because he'd had a crazy day at work and had been a little grumpy so I knew he needed rest just in case this wasn't actually it. I'm pretty sure I was in denial that she was really possibly coming that day!

I blurted out that I thought my water broke and he was wide awake. I told him to figure out how to install the car seat (#procrastinators) and clean the kitchen. Meanwhile, I painted my nails because my manicure was starting to chip. No photos holding the baby with chipped nails! By the time my doctor called, I was sure my water had broken but had no contractions so she told me to get to the hospital within two hours to be checked and we would start pitocin in the morning if nothing else had happened. So, I took a shower and changed our sheets so they would be fresh when we returned and then we were finally off. Corey couldn't believe I was taking so long to do these things but I didn't want to come home to a messy house!

We arrived at the hospital and were greeted by a nurse I grew up with so that helped put me at ease. It was about 3am when we got settled and I was 1.5cm  dilated so they assumed I'd need to start pitocin at 6 when my doctor came for rounds. 

I tried to get some sleep but couldn't. I was just too excited so I drafted out texts to everyone I needed to tell and typed instructions for my long term sub's surprise first day so I could send them to everyone at 5:00 on the dot - a reasonable hour for teachers. Sometime in there I started having a few very minor contractions but by 6am I was 4cm and progressing on my own. 

In the wee hours of the morning, my contractions started to get pretty intense but not unbearable. The doctor on-call from my practice checked me and said we'd go ahead and have an epidural since I was progressing so quickly. I was super proud of my body because you sweet mother (yes, the one who went nineteen days past her due date) was induced on a Monday before finally having a c-section on that Thursday so I really did not believe I would labor naturally...or quickly. I was a little surprised that it was already time for this. The anesthesiologist was in the ER for the delivery of twins so they told me it would be just 30 minutes or so. In the mean time my dad stopped in on his way to work and visited for a couple minutes. 

Then I had my epidural, which I had envisioned to be awful and it was not at all. Just a tiny pinch. The anticipation was far worse as was the knowledge of knowing I would have to have a catheter, even though I wouldn't be able to feel it. This totally creeped me out. Sometime soonish after this my mom arrived to spend the rest of the morning with us. The hours passed pretty quickly since I was busy texting updates to everyone. Around 11:00 things started to get pretty miserable. I was starving because eating on the way to the hospital was not something I thought to do in my haste to get my nails painted and my house ready for post-baby guests. And honestly, you hear all these stories about people pooping during labor and I was not adamant that this was not going to happen to me! When people say you just feel pressure with an epidural, I was pretty naive to how much pressure I would feel. I'm sure it is different for everyone but I could feel tons and tons of pressure, which was uncomfortable but not painful because of the epidural. Some flowers were delivered from Corey's office and a flower, balloon, and bear from my mom's co-workers so that was a brief distraction.

I was still pretty impressed by the whole process because it had not been anywhere near as bad as I anticipated, which made me feel like I was either getting off easy...or the worst was yet to come. You see, not many of my close friends have children yet so I don't feel like I'd been adequately informed about the pushing process that was to come next. When I was told it was time to start pushing, I was thinking even if this is really bad it is almost over, right? Thank goodness for my delivery nurse, Mandy, who was incredible and I couldn't have done it without her because the next hour and a half was so miserable. My blood sugar dropped and I got a major migraine just as it was time to start pushing. Finally, after an hour and a half more of pushing (which our OB friend said is not actually all that much for a first baby?!) our sweet girl arrived and it was all worth it.

And to be totally honest here the two things I had completely, obsessively stressed about way too much regarding labor were 1.) pooping and 2.) tearing or having to have an episiotomy and neither of them happened. Which was a small victory in the whole process! 

And just like that our world was forever changed. It is pretty incredible and this little girl is amazing. It is so cool how you instantly fall in love with someone you just met. We love her more and more every day and I often wonder how there was ever a time she wasn't the center of our world. We are so thankful that she arrived safe and sound and what a blessing she is to our family, especially after a really tough year before she was born. She is just the perfect addition and I feel so very blessed that she has joined our lives. I can't wait to see who she grows up to become.

Madeline, thank you for all the joy and happiness you've brought us this year!

All photos are property of Meredith June Photography and reproduced here with permission. Thank you in advance for your respect of their copyright.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Today + Always, Happy Valentine's Day!

For our last Valentine's Day, I think Corey and I enjoyed a Sunday night at home. Little did we know our lives were about to change forever that same week.

Our days don't look quite like they used to. Gone are the days where I met Corey at the door in lingerie for Valentine's Day (at least for the time being.) We also can't sleep late to snuggle and order delivery breakfast (Hoboken, we really miss you sometimes!!). In some ways, our life is infinitely more complicated and in others so much simpler. 

But, I love Corey today just as much (if not more) than all of our past Valentine's Days. It's super special this year watching another little girl love him too. 

We don't do Valentine's Day big around here. Something about it being such a commercialized holiday. But, I still wanted to take a moment to pause and say how special he is to me today, and always.

I hope your Valentine's Day is special and filled with love from the people who are special in your life.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday, friends. I'm happy to say the weekend was great around here and I feel rejuvenated. Last week was a long one and by Friday afternoon I didn't know how I would make it until bedtime. I'm pretty used to Corey traveling every other week and Madeline and I have our own routine when he is gone but for some reason last week just drug on and on so I was super happy when the weekend finally arrived.

Corey didn't get home from his work trip until just as I was putting Madeline down to sleep on Friday. He took over to read her bedtime story and I promptly poured a glass of wine. Then, we enjoyed some takeout Thai stir fry (no rice because #goals) and watched The Girl on the Train. If you were like us and have read the book but wanted to see the movie, my advice would be to spend your time on something else. That is all.

On Saturday morning, I headed to Cafe Monte for a girls' brunch, enjoyed my favorite eggs benedict on a croissant and a mimosa, and then we went to see 50 Shades Darker. If you're like me and read the book and were curious about the movie, I would definitely recommend this one. It was a little less racy than the first one.

Meanwhile, Corey stayed home and prepped for Madeline's first birthday this week.

For dinner, we went out after bedtime and enjoyed some tacos and a glass of sangria. Maybe we should've done a bigger date night since we realized while we were out that I have to work tonight and then Corey has a dinner meeting tomorrow so now real Valentine's celebrations out for us.

On Sunday, we started our day with Madeline's one year photo shoot, including the biggest, most expensive balloon ever and this teeny tiny cake. Madeline had a great time and there was eventually cake everywhere. I can't wait to share a few of her photos next week.

Her birthday is Friday and I have a big treat for you. I'm finally going to share her birth story and newborn photos. One year later. Happy Monday!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Madeline's First Birthday Inspiration

All images via this Pinterest board

Madeline's first birthday is next week and we will be celebrating with...30 of her and our friends next weekend. The small, intimate gathering of her closet friends may have gotten a little out of hand but we are so very thankful so many of our friends and family are joining us to celebrate our girl's first year.

I may have been planning her party since....October. We are going with a pink and gold theme, which I think is super common for little girl's first birthdays. I'm not so worried about this being an "overdone" theme though because 1.) I've been partial to this color combo since our blush and champagne wedding nearly five (!) years ago and 2.) I was able to purchase so many of her decorations as hand-me-downs off of our local mom resale board. 

This was a major win because I've gotten everything from tissue paper puffs and photo booth props to one of those jumbo balloons and a tutu for her photoshoot to her high chair and monthly photo banners for a fraction of the cost. $30 and a quick stop at Party City, Dollar Tree, and Target later,  and we had everything we needed. 

Even her photoshoot worked out perfectly because I booked both a fall shoot and a Christmas shoot this year with two local photographers. The fall mini session ended up getting rained out and we were out of town for the make-up day so we are using that now to get a few special pictures of Madeline to celebrate her first year. 

We are finalizing what we'll serve to eat this week but you can guarantee it will be something delicious courtesy of Corey's big green egg with some Madeline-approved sides. And puffs and cheerios for her best baby friends.

Thank you to those who weighed in on her smash cake last week. We ended up going with option one and I ordered it and her cupcakes from Publix. Their birthday cake has been so highly recommended to me by other moms and they are a breeze to work with. Any other first time moms consult your more experienced mom friends for all decisions like this? How else would I have known where to go for her very first tiny birthday cake?

I've also got a few last minute Cricut crafting projects for an extra special touch. Assuming, I can get my act together and get them finished this week.

We can't wait to celebrate our sweet girl in less than two weeks! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Workout Wednesday (+ a recipe)

Monday: Cize You Got This
Tuesday: Upper Body Fix + 10 Minute Abs
Wednesday: Total Body Cardio
Thursday: Lower Fix + Barre legs (my legs felt like jello!)
Friday: Yoga fix extreme
Saturday: Pilates Fix (even made Corey do it with me!)
Sunday: Rest day!

When I work with local women on their own fitness routine, I get a lot of questions about rest days. Especially with the 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme because the programs are not designed with days off incorporated. I generally do not schedule in rest days for myself, especially right now, since I am still working towards my ideal results. But, anyone with children or a busy job can understand that sometimes life happens. None of us are perfect. If I'm really sore or feel worn out, I try for Yoga fix so that I'm still working my body with active recovery but if Madeline is sick or we have a day where our plate is just too full, sometimes the workout gets bumped. I try to live by the motto, "When you get tired, learn to rest not to quit."

I missed my workout Sunday because we went out of town Saturday night then returned home Sunday with just enough time to shower and get ready to take Madeline to her friend's first birthday. Then, it was time to feed her and get her ready for bed before the Super Bowl. There will always be days where we are crazy busy, but a 30 minute workout is just 2% of my day, so I try to get it in most every day. You can find Cize, 21 Day Fix, and 21 Day Fix Extreme here or get them (and more) all bundled here
I made Skinnytaste's turkey and zucchini burgers last week and I really liked them. They are very moist and flavorful unlike some other recipes I have tried. I have made the bruschetta version a couple times and really loved those so I really looked forward to trying them with the condiments of a more traditional burger (no bun, though.) These don't look like much but they were great and even Madeline loved them. She actually went crazy over them! I served our burgers with roasted broccoli.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Well if this weekend just didn't fly by... I swear it was Friday afternoon and I blinked and here we are.
We had a good weekend. On Friday night, we ordered Thai takeout and caught up on a few DVR shows. It was a relaxing start to the weekend, even though it took me until 8 pm to drag my husband away from his home office. 

Saturday morning, I forced Corey to do Pilates with me and he's been complaining about his abs and glutes ever since. You gotta work that bum, though, and my favorite program is a great way to do it without even realizing how hard you are working. Until the next day, of course.

Then, my parents came up to Charlotte to visit for a while and stay overnight to watch Madeline and Riley while we went to Raleigh for some friends' housewarming. It was a great time catching up. We hurried back Sunday morning to see our girl and then take her to one of her own little friend's birthday party. Oh, I love first birthdays. I'll be sharing my inspiration for Madeline's later in the week.

I'd like to say we had big Super Bowl plans but that would be a lie. I was definitely at home watching it in my pajamas. We splurged a little (er a lot) on our meal plan while in Raleigh and I was just not about to put any wings or cheesy dip in my body by Sunday night. 

Commercials....what was your favorite? I loved the Air bnb #weaccept commercial and Melissa McCarthy's Kia commercial. The Super Bowl was a little anticlimactic this year after the Panthers, our home town team, attending last year so I was really in this entirely for the commercials.
We have another busy week this week. Its Madeline's last full week before she turns one. #timeslowdown

Friday, February 3, 2017

5 on Friday

TGIF. This is one of those weeks where we were so, so busy but it just seemed to drag on forever. Sometimes that is nice because I love spending time with my sweet girl and being able to savor it. But, I am happy to see the weekend.

Madeline and I are off to order her smash cake and cupcakes today. I'm still debating between two styles of tiny cake adorableness. 


Thoughts? Bonus points if you leave your cake vote before noon.

I have gotten some super great workouts in this week and I will share what I've been up to next Wednesday. I am really sore today so I am ending the week with a little yoga this morning.

Mamas, what are your favorite toddler snacks? Madeline had been contentedly drinking her bottles and sippy cups and eating three "big girl" meals until two weeks ago. Now, she really wants a small morning and afternoon snack. At home we have fruit or string cheese but a lot of times she eats while we're out and about for errands and I need something other than puffs or cheerios with dried fruit thrown in to offer her. 

I also just got this snack trap from Munchkin as part of a marketing campaign I participated in and the lid is so much tighter than the one I was using previously. Yay for getting a minimal amount of cheerios lost in the seats of my new car.

What are your plans for the Super Bowl on Sunday? Our plans are fairly low key since the weekend is swamped with other activities. If you're still looking for an easy app, I posted two quick and simple crowd pleasers here.

Anyone reading anything good these days? I've been trying to do more reading before bed and stay off my phone late at night. By late, I of course mean like 9:30. I just finished this book and it definitely wasn't my favorite Liane Moriarty book. I have The Good Girl on my list next and need some other recommendations. 

Link up here.