September 15, 2014

Sweet September

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that September is the new black.  No?  How about September is the new January? 

I feel like September is a fresh start.  Just like you make New Years Resolutions in January, September is a time for renewal too.  Sure the ease of summer is over but there's something refreshing about getting into a routine.  I kind of like knowing that x, y, and z are happening and by that I mean I like that preschool is happening and therefore so are early bedtimes.  I kid, I kid.  Kind of. 

But there's something about the cooler air, the windows open, the new fall clothes, the thrill of going apple picking and hayride riding, and earlier nights that make me feel like a new person.  September is usually still warm enough to wear your maxi dresses by day but chilly enough to snuggle up in a hoodie come nightfall.  It's pretty much having your cake and eating it too, the best of both worlds. 

I know it's only been September for 12 days but in less than two weeks I almost feel like I've become a new person. I feel like I've become more laid back.  Which is weird considering we are actually on a schedule now.  We now have preschool three days a week {up one day from last year} and Jimmy teaches two nights a week on top of working 40+ hours.  We have a lot of birthdays, family events and not to mention holidays but something about all of this makes me feel calm.  I like knowing what's coming up and I like having things to do. Call me crazy,

I feel like, come September, I'm ready for change.  Whether it be fall fashion, a darker hair color, new recipes, different scents, I get excited for it all.  Fall is a time to try new things and, in a way, feels like the new year again.  I'm not going to go all crazy and make a resolution or anything BUT I might change up a few things, to keep it fresh.

As much as I love summer I do welcome fall with open arms.  While we have more to do on a day to day basis we also slow down a bit.  We snuggle more.  We talk more.  We listen more. We are more intentional with our time.  And that will always make me love fall, just a little more.

September has been good to us so far.  We've gone apple picking, made cider, had our fall family pictures taken, had a bonfire with s'smores, and we've already eaten LOTS of chili.  So I guess, maybe that whole thing about fall slowing us down isn't true.  But one thing is for sure and that's that we've spent a lot of time together, as a family, and it doesn't get much better than that.

September 10, 2014

My Sweet Summer Is Gone

As I sit here and type this post I'm greeted by the cool autumn breeze blowing through my kitchen window, which has been closed for far too long due to the summers heat.  I'm wearing fleece pants, a hoodie, and "at home" socks-you know the super-thick, cozy ones with the grippy things on the bottom?

I'm equally happy and sad about this.

I love summer.  The hotter the better.  I love the sunshine, going to the pool, eating ice cream for dinner, the beach, wearing shorts, going to the park, the easiness of life that takes place for three months out of the year.  Yes, summer is my favorite season. 

But, I also love fall.  Who doesn't?  If I needed further proof that fall is everyone's favorite, I can just look at Instagram.  It's already full of Pumpkin Spice Lattes {bleh}, fall candles {guilty as charged}, and people digging out there riding boots.  I get it, it's exciting to open the windows, snuggle up in a hoodie, and smell all the things pumpkin.  But it also means that winter, dreaded white-death, is upon us and after the winter that nearly killed the moms I am not looking forward to what's next.  

Kendall starts PreK-4 today.  Or preschool as I like to call it.  While I'm looking forward to this for her, the schedule, learning, being around other kids her age, not having to limit her activities because of a certain one-year-old, I am going to miss the laziness of our summer days.  Yesterday we were casually swimming, soaking up our last pool day of the year, and today we will be on a time crunch to get breakfast in our tummies, hair brushed, bodies dressed and out the door on time. 

Friday was our last week day of summer and I really had nothing planned.  I had things that I wanted/needed to do but for the most part was unscheduled.  We had preschool open house from 9-10 and that went just as I figured.  Kendall was shy the first 55 minutes and then opened up and became more herself for the last five.  It's fine, she'll be fine today {that's what I keep telling myself}.  

We had been invited to an Eric Carle event at our local Gymboree* the same day and, being as her preschool theme is also Eric Carle this year, I wanted to go.  I love Eric Carle books, Kendall's favorite is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and I knew it'd be fun for her.  She had a blast!  It was a simple event but perfectly age appropriate and I even got to do some shopping for our fall family pictures while she painted a caterpillar and listened to story time.

We threw money in the fountains, made wishes, shopped a little more, ran through the splash pad and topped our morning with a little bit of ice cream for lunch.  Nothing was scheduled, I wasn't worried about naps or being anywhere on time.  We just went with the flow and it was exactly as the last day of summer should be, carefree and easy.  It's amazing, when I let go my kids are happier and we have such a better day.  I need to remember this when we are stuck in the house this winter.

Now our days are going to be scheduled.  Teeth will need to be brushed by 8 o'clock.  There will be no more staying up a little late catching fireflies.  No more ice cream for dinner.  While part of me likes the idea of a routine the other, bigger part of me is sad to see the easy breezy summer days go away. 

Maybe I can convince Jimmy to move to California...


“This is a sponsored blog post. I received compensation from Gymboree. The opinions and text are all mine.”

August 28, 2014

#paleodews

That hashtag should actually just be singular,#paleodew, because I'm the only one in the house on board {for now}.

Anywho...I've done it, I've jumped on the paleo train. I've only been at it about three weeks so I'd hardly call myself an expert and definitely don't consider myself "paleo".  I am still learning but I've already learned a lot and my body is responding.  

About a year ago, almost exactly, I attempted to go paleo.  I spent $250 on one shopping trip {double what I was, then, normally spending}, searched and searched the Pinterest for recipes, made a big deal about it, and then failed.  I thought all my Pinterest-ing had me prepared but all it had done was overwhelm me and make me not want to do it because "it was too hard".  

Fast forward one year and I was ready to do something drastic for my body.  I want to emphasize that I am not doing this to lose weight.  My reason for wanting to try a paleo diet was for my health and my body.  I had been eating somewhat clean, but not really.  I had heard from friends how amazing they felt after going paleo, their skin looked better, they had more energy, their bloat was gone, the benefits were endless.  

I was tired of waking up feeling tired.  I hated going to bed feeling "blah" and waking up feeling pretty much the same.  My "belly fat" was never going away.  I wasn't sleeping the best, restless and waking up even when the kids weren't {dumb}.  I knew that I had muscles under neath this layer of "fat" and I was really hoping that cutting some of the culprits would help bring those muscles forward and, who knows, even make them visible?  That last part hasn't happened yet but I'm closer than I was 3 weeks ago.

dress c/o Amaranth Collection
The thing I've read about paleo is that it's more of an 80/20 plan.  If you can eat paleo 80% of the time you're doing alright.  So that's been my approach to it thus far.  I've had a few "cheats" here and there {mostly on the weekends} but for the most part I've stuck to a pretty paleo diet.  

Once I took all the thinking out of it, it was actually really easy to do.  I thought I'd die without cheese, literally.  I never in a million years thought I'd be able to eat an omelette without stuffing it with cheese.  I didn't think it was possible to enjoy tacos {burrito bowls} without cheese.  I was OK with the no dairy part and the grains didn't really concern me too much but the cheese?  I just couldn't imagine life without it.  

I just wrote a whole paragraph about cheese...

So yeah, once I stopped over-thinking it, it became much more do-able.  For some reason I was thinking dinner was going to be so difficult but, ummm, hello...meat and veggies!  How easy is that?  No need to come up with something elaborate every night.  I mean I still like to come up with some creative recipes and try out new things but in a pinch I marinate some chicken and slice up some sweet potato chips and a side of fruit, voila!  It doesn't have to be hard!

I've been at it for 3ish weeks now and I already feel so much better.  I feel leaner, even if I don't look it yet.  I wake up feeling good and energetic instead of sluggish.  I have lost about 3-4 lbs which, like I said, wasn't my intention but an added bonus, I guess.  I just like the fact that I am feeling better inside and out.

Now, if I could just get my other half on board.  He eats whatever I make for dinner but as far as breakfast and lunch go, he's on his own.  He'll come around sooner or later, I just know it.  

I am really enjoying this new lifestyle and the changes that my body has made thus far.  I'm trying out new recipes and food combinations and that's been fun.  My cravings for sweets and carbs are gone.  I no longer look towards comfort foods but instead fuel my body with foods that I know are going to do it good.  It's crazy because the better I do sticking to the paleo plan the better I want to do.  If I slip up it makes me want to do better the next day and really stick to eating whole foods rather than have another "cheat".  

Hopefully going forward I'll have some more paleo recipes to share but other than that I'm not going to get all paleo blogger on you, don't worry.  If you follow me on IG you've already seen a few dinner ideas and you can follow the hashtag #paleodews if you are interested in seeing more of our paleo meals.  If you are looking for a real paleo blogger check out PaleOMG, Nom Nom Paleo, and Stupid Easy Paleo, just to name a few.

August 26, 2014

My Life With Two: A Year Later

I've written this post a time or two.  Once it was all butterflies and rainbows, raising two small kids.  The next time I was day-drinking because, dude, shit got real.  Now I've been at the game for a little over a year and I feel like I'm somewhere in between. 

Raising two little kids is more than double the work of one.  I truly believe that.  And you moms of 3+ are probably laughing at me, saying, "you think two is tough...".  I know.  I KNOW.  You ladies are saints and are doing a job I don't think I could ever do.  Two is my number, I am tapping out.  

Let's start with the littlest.  James Weston has stolen my heart.  He's made me love like I've never loved before.  When he was born there was nothing like the feeling I felt holding him.  My pride, love, gratitude, happiness, were all overflowing.  He was a snuggly little baby and wanted to be held a lot.  While it made for a messy house, I didn't care.  I knew that precious baby time went fast and so I snuggled.  I should have known that was foreshadowing my future with him.  
James is a very demanding baby/infant/toddler {I don't know what to call a one-year-old}.  He needs attention constantly.  He likes to be held, a lot.  He still cries a lot.  He's into e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  He's definitely the definition of a boy, through and through.  His new favorite thing is climbing.  If he can climb it, he will.  I've recently found him in some dangerous situations, laughing and clapping, proud as a peacock.  He's trouble with a capital T and will be the reason I keep my hair blonde {so you don't see the grays}.  

When James smiles he smiles with his whole face; I've said that since day one.  It's usually the feature that people comment on the most when we're in public, "Look at that SMILE!".  I love it.  He's got 10 little teeth in there too but you can't see them unless he's hanging upside down.  He's a chunky little guy, still, weighing in at 26lbs.  I love his rolly polly legs and yes, I nom on them regularly.  He's starting to get the hang of signing, he can do "more" and "all done" when he wants to.  Baby brother loves to dance and will pretty much dance to anything, even MY singing.  He's getting more adventurous with walking and is starting to stand up and walk without holding on more and more each day.  Dare I say I hope he walks soon?  For selfish reasons, of course {26lbs is HEAVY!}.

He makes me feel all the emotions but I wouldn't have it any other way.  He has completed our family and we love him so.

And that brings me to my big girl, Miss Kendall Paige.  I don't even know where to begin with this one.  When she was born I knew that we'd have a special relationship.  I have always been close with my mom and I can only hope and pray that she and I have such the relationship.  So far so good.  She's my little best friend.  I think the best word to describe Kendall is "spunky".  She's got the sass of a thirteen-year-old but her heart is so tender.  She's very emotional and can go from extremely happy/silly to a full-blown meltdown in mere seconds.  She's full of energy and just when I think she's about to crash she gets a second wind and that blonde, curly hair of hers is bouncing around all over again.  

Girlfriend is smarter than smart.  She amazes me everyday and I will even catch myself saying, "where did you learn/hear that?" and usually she responds with, "I just made it up" or something to that effect.  This summer has actually probably been a disservice to her in the learning department {total mom fail} so I am excited for preschool to start back up so she can get her wheels turning again.  She loves school, her friends and her teachers and I love that about her.  I've had the pleasure of watching her in her classroom and it's such a joy.  I'm always so proud because while she's a little bit more reserved and timid than some of her more rowdy classmates she's a great listener and always does what is asked of her.

Although she just turned four, it's quickly becoming my favorite age.  I love that I can talk to her and have conversations that actually mean something.  She makes me laugh more than anyone can.  The things that come out of her mouth never cease to amaze me.  She's also starting to mimic me and some of the things that I say.  While that can be adorable and hilarious, it's also sometimes embarrassing because I'm not always the best role model.  She's starting to have her own interests and opinions and while that's challenging at times it's also really cool because she's becoming her own person.  She's strong-willed and I hope that is a characteristic that stays with her throughout her adolescence and into adulthood.  

I love this little girl, the one who made me mom.

To see them together is pretty cool too.  When James was first born Kendall was cautiously curious. She never wanted to hold him, she didn't get in his face a lot and normally when I'd ask her if she wanted to interact with him she'd do so but it wouldn't last long.  I think it was her age because now that's all changed.  They still don't really play together, yet, but every once in a while, when the playroom is quiet, I'll sneak in on them and they'll be sitting on the floor interacting and it just makes my heart melt into a big puddle of mush.  I live for those rare, rare moments.  She lights up his life, he loves her more than anyone in our family.  When I get him up from nap he immediately looks around for her and when he sees her he smiles as big as he can.  She thinks he's pretty cool too and his biggest fan when he's learning something new, like walking.  She cheers him on every time even when I'm not paying attention.  

These two have made these last 365 days more chaotic, stressful and sleepless.  I'd have to say the past year has been the toughest but has also taught me the most.  I learned how to love greater, be more patient, better prioritize and, the biggest of all, that I'm not in control.  These little guys have made my life so much better just by being in it.  Even on the tough days I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have two healthy, striving, ridiculously adorable kids that I get the privilege to spend everyday with.  Sure, they make life...different but they also make it worth living. 


August 19, 2014

Mediterranean Meatza Pie

Good morning pizza lovers.  I swear, pizza is THE ONE thing I could eat morning, noon, and night and never get sick of it.  I have never had bad pizza either.  I love it all.  Even the nasty frozen Totino's pizza that they serve in elementary school cafeterias.  Are you with me?

So when I decided to go Paleo {you know, two weeks ago} I knew that pizza would be hard for me to give up.  I searched and searched and found a Paleo pizza recipe {meatza} and I was immediately skeptical.  Meat crust?  I wasn't sure if I even liked sun-dried tomatoes.  I knew I loved spinach and artichoke dip but didn't know how I felt about straight artichoke.  But I added this to our weekly menu/meal plan and decided to try it.

You guys!  Words cannot even describe the flavor in this meal!  I do like sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes are just fine even when they aren't covered in grease and cheese!  The meat crust?  Ah-ma-zing.  So much flavor.  Now I wouldn't go calling this a replacement for pizza because it's not.  It's nothing like pizza that I know and love.  The only similarity between this and pizza is the tomato sauce.  And I ate it with a fork.  BUT this will be a staple recipe in the Dew house and I'll be mixing it up with different toppings each time {even though this combination was bomb.com}.


Makes 2.
Crust:
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef {I used venison}
  • 2 Tablespoons mixed dried herbs {I used Tastefully Simple Rustic Herb Seasoning}
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried dill)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Suggested toppings (about 1/2 cup of each topping should be plenty):
  • Tomato sauce
  • Red bell pepper, sliced
  • Sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • Artichoke hearts (canned or packed in oil), chopped
  • Olives, any kind, sliced
  • Arugula leaves 
  • Fresh basil for garnish
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the crust ingredients – ground beef, dried herbs, basil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the meat in half. Press half the meat into an 8″ round pie pan. Repeat with the other half.
  4. Bake for 10-15 min or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and drain off any liquid in the pan.
  5. Now it’s time to do the toppings. I added the tomato sauce and red pepper first, then popped it back in for another 5 minutes to soften those up. Then, I took out the crust, added the rest of the toppings – arugula leaves, sundried tomatoes, artichokes {and olives for Jimmy}.
Enjoy!!!

August 11, 2014

What Makes Your Child Laugh?

I remember, before I had kids, watching America's Funniest Home Videos with my parents in the basement of my childhood home.  My favorite videos were the ones of babies belly laughing.  That uncontrollable, can't catch their breath laugh that comes from their toes.  It's infectious and quite possibly the cutest thing, ever.  I love babies laughing. Did you know there is a such thing as the Baby Laugh Index™ {BLI}™?  Seriously there is this ridiculously cute quiz you can take to discover what kind of laugh-er your baby is.

When Kendall was a baby she never had a belly laugh.  She was a happy baby, yes, she laughed, smiled, giggled, made funny noises, the whole thing but she never had that deep down belly laugh.  She was more of a snort laugher.  Now that she's a little bit older she snorts when she laughs all the time, along with a little pig-like squeal.

James on the other hand, boy can belly laugh.  I have said it since the day he was born, he smiles with his whole face when he laughs.  His laugh comes from his toes to his nose and it's the only time I can see all of his top teeth.  His laugh is more of an insta-ha laugh.  But when he's done laughing he's done.  Like shuts it off cold turkey.  It's hilarious. Bright Starts™ sent us the 3-in-1 Step 'n Ride Lion™ to test out James BLI™ and does it ever.  Of course he's not the only one laughing over this adorable toddler toy, big sister thinks it's the bees knees!

James is just getting comfortable walking and holding onto things, the couch, coffee table, potty {insert eye roll}, he will pull himself up on anything he can put his chubby little fingers on.  A lot of people cringe and want to push their baby down when they start to learn how to walk but we want James to walk.  So far this has been the only thing that has gotten him to take some steps.  Usually I hold his hands and Jimmy will dangle some keys but he plops right down, and crawls the fastest crawl, the minute we let go.

We have other push behind toys but none of them induce the kind of fun that this one does.  James mostly loves pushing the lions nose and watching the balls spin around his mane.  Like I said, he's starting to get more comfortable with pushing it, until it starts going too fast for his chubby legs to keep up with. Kendall loves riding on it and being that the majority of our house is hardwood, she can get pretty speedy.   This toy should also come along with a Baby Cry Index because both of my kids love it so much that they are constantly fighting over it.  Oh the joys of raising two children.

What toys do your kids fight over?  Share your answer in the comments below for a chance to win one of these Bright Starts™ toys: Jungle Fun Ball Climber™, Hide 'n Spin Monkey™, or 3-in-1 Step 'n Ride Lion™ which debuted at BlogHer 2014.

You can also check out Bright Starts™ on FacebookPinterestTwitter, Youtube and Instagram! 

 

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July 24, 2014

Monster Cookies

Raise your hand if you have pinned things thinking, "I'll totally do/make/try/recreate this later" and then never looking at it again.

::raises hand::

I think the board I'm most guilty of "pinning & forgetting" is my Food! board.  It's my biggest board in term of number of pins and therefore it's probably the one that I look at the most and just stare with complete overwhelming dumbness and close out of it before I wind up making that awful buffalo chicken pasta again {insert pukey emoji here}.  

I pin lots and lots and lots of desserts.  It's my inner fat girl coming out, what can I say?  When we get invited to a cookout, potluck, anything I always race to see what Pinterest has that I can make but then I always fall back on my tried and true fruit pizza

Until last weekend.

Last weekend we had friends over and I knew I wanted to try something different.  I knew kids were going to be here and so I thought I would do something kid friendly and something that Kendall could help me make.  Her favorite thing to make is cookies, because she likes to eat the dough {girl after my own heart}.  So I've never had a Monster Cookie and I've heard nothing but delicious things about them so Monster Cookies it was.  

And I will add...I am not a cookie baker.  Every cookie I make comes out like crap.  Chocolate chip come out hollowed out underneath and super crispy.  Peanut butter cookies come out too dense.  Snickerdoodles come out too bitter.  Those ones with the Hershey kiss in the middle, too hard.  I fail time after time with cookies but these?  These turned out amazing and I will never bake another cookie in my life. 


Monster Cookies

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 box (3.4oz) vanilla pudding 
1 tsp. baking soda
1 stick of butter, softened 
1/2 c. peanut butter
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1 c. mini M&Ms
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. peanut butter chips

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, and vanilla pudding- set aside. in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream together (on medium speed) butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Then add egg and vanilla. Scrape down sides. Reduce to low speed and add flour (dry) mixture. Combine until just incorporated. Add oats, M&Ms, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips. The batter should be thick enough to work with and roll. 


Scoop 2 tbsp. ball-you do not have to worry as they spread very little. Roll into ball shape between palms and space cookies 2 inches apart. Slightly press down on cookie balls to flatten. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling wrack.

These cookies are like an oatmeal cookie, peanut butter cookie, chocolate chip cookie and an M&M cookie got together and had a baby!  Who doesn't love the sound of that?  Seriously amazing!  And, I've said this before, my husband doesn't eat sweets {he's a freak of nature} and he ate more of these than I did, I think.  Husband approved!  

Enjoy!
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