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Thursday, October 31, 2013

We do halloween.

Halloween has certainly changed for me over the years and I'm totally ok with it. I've appreciated so much reading the blog posts I've seen around that are all, hey, I was one of those people who was told not to celebrate the "devil's" holiday as a kid...but, look, I love Jesus and I choose to do it with my family now and it's OK. Because I am one of those.

I was actually first raised that we did do Halloween. You know, the fun parts. I remember trick-or-treating, even. In fact, I have a few photos of us dressed up in happy, non-gory, kiddish-type costumes. I believe I was a farmer-girl. Sweet and innocent little farmer girl. It wasn't until we began attending another Church that had, let's say, stronger convictions (especially in leadership) about the subject that suddenly Halloween was something we no longer participated in. They had events where you could dress up as Bible Characters (yay) and go from table to table within the four walls of the church for the 'harvest fest' instead of, you know, going door to door. There were times I was pulled out of the Halloween parades and events at school. I remember hating that. We just didn't do Halloween.



I don't blame my parents. I adore them and know that at the time, they were doing what they felt convicted about, and honestly, I think they felt swayed by what 'Church' was saying Was Right at the time, too. But I will say this-- I truly believe that it's what you make it--these holidays. And when it came to us, having children, and participating in things like trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving, and Halloween parties at the Y, etc---it was a no brainer. We were doing it, we were embracing the parts we enjoy, and doing it with our family.



That's kind of the awesome thing when you become an adult, a parent. You get to make those decisions with your spouse about how you'll handle certain holidays, how they line up with your convictions and faith now, and how you'll spin it.



I'm not telling anyone else what's good for them--I'm just saying, I'm glad we decided that the light, non-gory, trick-or-treating, eating Chili with our friends before we go out, dressing up, pumpkin carving-side of Halloween? Is good with us. And I really just enjoy seeing my kids enjoy the fun, imaginative play that comes along with it. Oh, and candy. Candy's cool, too.



With that said--whatever you do. Trunk-or-treat, harvest party at your church, handing out candy in your neighborhood, hanging with friends in the driveway, chili & beer beforehand, trick-or-treating---have fun. Be light. and Happy Halloween. ;)

(two of my favorite posts during this time: here and here)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We made this house a home. (a home-tour of sorts)

Being young and naive when we bought our townhouse, we had no idea what was to come. None at all. We thought we could dream up in our head what it looked like to have a family here, what it felt like to be a family here, but we couldn't. It was impossible. We had no idea what it was like.

There are so many times I catch myself saying things, without even really realizing it, that are often complain'y in regards to this house. There's too many steps. It's not ideal for kids. Our living space (kitchen & living room level) is just so.small. WE NEED A SMALL YARD. The rooms are so tinyyyy. Wouldn't a playroom be so nice? Walking up the steps with groceries sucks.

*

Today my house got cleaned. Remember how I admitted to having a cleaner I pay once a month? I don't care about admitting this anymore. Hi my name is Katie, and I pay someone to clean once a month. (Yes I 'clean' (not well) in between those cleans.) (Yes it's very worth it for my sanity.) (Yes we budget for this.)

So I decided that since my house was clean, my girls were napping, that I'd sit down during naptime for a little bit and catch up on Kardashians (stop judging me...actually I don't really care if you do). Well, womp womp, it's not On Demand yet, and meanwhile I get this bright idea to finally take some photos of our home. A few people had been asking lately, and I'm usually all home-tour, huh? aka: not my thing. Of course I can't take them on any normal day. I MEAN. Any normal day it looks like a bomb exploded the place, or it was robbed by a tiny army of cheez-it-eating-mongers.

I pick up my camera and I walk into the kitchen, it seems like the most logical place to start. The funny thing is, instead of seeing everything wrong with the place (which I could normally name 39483098), I start to see things a little different. I remember how much I love the backsplash that my husband put in a few days after we moved in, with his dad. I remember the time they spent doing that together and how special it was.

I see the little office space I put in last year, and I know that those desk drawers are crammed with arts and crafts supplies for my kids, and ended up being very little for me at all. I smile at the chalkboard--because when we bought it 6 years ago, I never knew what I'd ever write on the thing. I just knew I needed it.

I see life when I look at my blinds, filled with tackily-clipped-up preschool arts and crafts, because I know how happy it makes my kid to see and smile at her creations.







I went into the living room. Breathe. This is the weirdest space in the house. It's all of ours. We overrun each other within this space daily. We're in each other's face here. We read here. We watch television and movies here. We snack here. Mac has broken in every couch cushion on that old, disgusting sofa. But I've nursed my babies here. We've had early mornings and mid-day naps here. We've spilled everything known to man on this couch, and on these floors.



They play here. We play here. Books are read, toy boxes are overflowing. Every 'pretty' basket is actually filled (jammed) with toys that aren't even remotely in the right place. We lose stuff here. But we love here.


This one is hard for me. It's not what I want it anymore---I dream of an airy pinterest-worthy bedroom. A cool blue, or airy gray walls, with white flowy curtains and a big K & D hung above our beautiful (non-existent) headboard, with a duvet that doesn't wrinkle, and a spare blanket that actually matches. But I actually saw peace today when I entered.



This is actually a place of rest for me. Lately I've been coming up to bed early, turning on the little lamp, and reading in bed. I've never been a big bed-reader (or reader at all if I'm being honest). But it's cozy for me, now. This is where I put my feet up for a few minutes after I tip-toe out of my girls room at naptime. Where I just breathe and say, only a few more hours and daddy will be home.

This is our place.

The girls are napping. I'd be insane-crazy-woman to wake them to get some photos. Those will have to wait until they wake up. I decide to take pictures of the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom.  



It's their bathroom. Before we had children, this was just an empty, hollow, never-used space. I could have never dreamed about the laughter that often fills this area at night, surrounding bathtime bubble beards and sisters washing one another of sudsy hair. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't also filled with excuses and over-tired cries, random pairs of undies on the ground, and little tiny girl hair-ties GALORE. But, it's life. There is life here.


The foyer. It's where we welcome you in, right? Here's a bench---take a seat. Except that bench is mostly used as a place to hold all the bags that seem to always go in the car with us, juggling winter jacket-duty, or taking shoes on/off. It's where groceries are put before making the big trek up the stairs, and where shoes of tiny people and big people live in a jumbled basket below. Welcome.







Everyone's awake now. So, lastly. The rooms that inhabit my people when they're in the most blissful, peaceful part of their day. When their eyelids are shut and they're no longer bouncing off the walls, throwing food on the ground, or playing candyland. Where I spent countless hours nursing both my babies. In that corner, over there. Giving nebulizer treatments to wheezy babes. Changing diapers. Folding clothes and putting away little pink laundry, and going crazy over the never-matching-sock situation. What IS it with those damn socks, anyway?



And the big girl room. I wish I could say this is all peace--but just after she stops fighting us to stay up longer, to find x,y,z book or toy, or to sing me 'just one more song, mommy'---the lights dim and it is peace. Time spent finding the perfect fabrics for her room, the perfect collage-wall additions--months of collecting and collecting to finally put it all together. A book shelf in which she actually prefers NO books to ever be on (toddlers are so weird). A bed that's filled with a billion random blankets, versus the beautiful (k-mart) quilt I spent so long searching for.


Every home is a story. I don't know why it took me walking around today and snapping a few pictures to really drill that in. To really nail down, deep in me--that this is where it's at right now. This is the place my children are making memories in. This is our little place of refuge. This is where we get messy, and put our guards down, and clean it back up again. This is where love lives.

I used to feel stupid having this little chalkboard plaque on the wall. I'd scoff a little at myself, thinking, psh, love lives here. What about when we argue, or when my kid's in timeout for the 3rd time, or when I'm grasping at straws for something.else.fun.to.do. I don't feel the love. 


I don't anymore. I don't think it's stupid. Because this home is filled with memories, good ones--no, great ones. Of two people becoming one--who decide to start a family...bring two fun-loving little girls into the picture. Those two girls who get so much love, so many hugs, so many kisses, and everything they need. Right here under this roof.

We made this house a home.

***

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Friday, October 18, 2013

happy happy happy happy

I got bit by the happy bug today and I am loving life and things are lovely and good right now so I have the desire to write, write, wriiiiite.

I know, I'm heinously annoying. Especially if you're having a bad day. Trust me, I get it.

If you want me to be completely honest---I will. I'm usually the unhappy one. Ick. I hate admitting that out loud, I really do. It sucks when I know the purpose of my blog to glean out the happy things, which is maybe why I haven't written that much because I have felt, generally, kind of icky inside. No, not my physical being, that feels great. But my mental, emotional state. I guess you could say--it's not been awesome (sorry Declan). I'm not even fully sure why.

I've been snappy and mean and really freaking irritated with the attitude that comes with age 3. I've been short with my husband (A LOT), and I've been on edge and a little bit anxious, about random things or nothing at all. I used to be someone who could roll with the punches, prided myself on fun, last minute life-living, but that just hasn't been me lately. I think I got so far away from some of the way I used to love life, that I almost forgot it. I know, it sounds  stupid and much too deep, and that's ok.

I don't feel bad about myself admitting this. Admitting that I've just not been nice, not had a good attitude about life in general, or that I've just felt kinda of--meh, for no apparent reason. Because I know it's probably actually less normal to feel SPUNKY!HAPPY!ALL!THE!TIME! That's just not been me. I guess there's just something to saying it out loud that is maybe helpful? I don't know. I would hate to perpetuate some life-is-perfect-all-the-time mentality when that's just not true.

The thing is. Today has been good for me, in the simplest ways, today has been fulfilling. And yet--it's not even been that abnormal from other days. How weird is that?

Maybe a switch went off. Maybe things just happened to line up in my favor today. Maybe God was smiling down on me. Or maybe I just trusted Him more today. I HAVE NO IDEA. But I really, really like today.

A few miles of trail-walking with my sister and my babies today instead of the gym? I loved it. I forget how much nature feeds my heart and mind and makes me feel whole. I know, I know, getting deep again. But it's TRUE. I feel like a different person when I'm out there, breathing in the air, and with some of my favorite company, ever.
















And also, I'm giving myself a dang break. These are unedited (gasp) iPhone pictures, un-watermarked (if you steal my pictures I will HUNT YOU DOWN). I just don't care! wee! live life!

Sometimes? When my 3 year old isn't acting like a crazed preschooler, I'm reminded how AMAZING and SWEET she is. She is truly a gem. Such a lover.

After our walk, we took it easy. We watched the park rangers and tree-cutter-down-people (sorry charlie, no idea the real name) take some tree's down along the trail. My girls watched in amazement as it turned into mulch in that big machine.

We went along our day, and decided it'd be a great day to visit Daddy at work. We have this special spot, this park right near his office. We get chick-fil-a and we have a picnic in the gazebo, then the girls play. We catch up a little bit about our day. It's nice. 

Chick-fil-a messed up on my salad order, and then gave me ANOTHER one (and let me keep both!!) I got free lunch for my hubby, that was rad. 

I LOVE THEM TOGETHER and this alone makes my heart beam. Absolutely beam. (Picture heart emoticon here with the beamy-vibration things coming from it. You know the one.)


He was all, "I want Starbucks", and I was all, "I need to go to Target"--and I was all, LIGHTBULB, "Hey you should just stay half hour late tonight and come to Target with us"---and he did. In the middle of his workday. And we got coffee and what we needed quickly, and the girls were behaved, and before we knew it we were out the door with our goodies, a tired, but still sweet 15 month old, and a 3 year old noshing on a bag of popcorn (typical).

And you know what???

I came home--and IT WAS NAP TIME. Glorious NAP TIME! (picture the praise hands emoticon with the shiny rays in between it here. You know the one.)

I thought, ahhh crap. Someone is bound to fight nap today. But no. I refused to be negative.

Both of them went down. Quietly. Without a fight, at all. I smiled.

Then I dyed my hair. I DYED MY HAIR. Then I even had time for a shower and a blow-dry. To pick out our clothes for our family photoshoot this weeked. To get dressed. TO EAT A SNACK! To drink that coffee I got at Starbucks. 


AND OH YEA!!!!!!

To see that my sister's BIG FREAKING NEWS (!!!!!!!!) IS FINALLY FACEBOOK/SOCIAL MEDIA OFFICIAL!!!!!


I mean-- !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What else can I say about that?

Oh. If today couldn't get any better, I also have a girls night out with a friend. Where we will go to dinner. Without our kids. We will chat. We will dress pretty. We will eat our meal hot without entertaining anyone. It will be freaking glorious. Can I get a hallelujah, amen?

I LOVE TODAY. Praise hands, baby.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

When we went away to a kid-crazy vacation.

Everyone's all blogging about deep, incredible things with the 31 days prompt. And I'm over here all, hey-I've got a bunch of random things--like, once a week. Basically I suck at having any depth lately. I actually do have depth (believe it or not), I guess it's just not translated to writing on the internet these days, and well, oh well.

Speaking of which, I was thinking about this lately. I used to be so much more open here. I'm honest, I'm always honest---but I used to be more...candid? Yes. That's the word. I admit that I've lost that in writing. I haven't shared my stories nearly as much, my silly encounters, heck, I haven't even shared the fun things my kids do and have said in a long time. I miss that. I miss that I used to be able to sit down and get the words and stories flowing immediately. Most the time, I forget them before I even get a chance to write anything. I hate that.

But I LOVE when I can go back and see things from the past. From last year. What I was doing with my kids at that time, how my life looked, how it's changed and evolved. The funny things Emeline had been doing and saying. The activities and things we did as a family. The encounters I had with people that left me shaking my head. Photos of them, of us. This is basically a pep talk to get myself back to basics, at least.

***

So.

We went to Great Wolf this past weekend with my entire side of the family. We failed at getting a full family pic, we'll try again next time (Thanksgiving perhaps?). Nothing about the trip was restful. Great Wolf Lodge laughs in the face of restful vacations. But, let's be honest--are vacations ever restful with young kids? If you've discovered how to get a relaxing vacation with children around, could you throw me a bone? Because we've not yet figured it out. (Declan and I are currently brainstorming how we can get away, alone. Hallelujah, Amen.) ((Doubt it will happen. We like to dream, though.))


It's a fun place, NO DOUBT. It's like, the waterpark only version of Disney. But yet, everything is in one place. That's actually the cool part. You basically don't need to leave the premises at all if you don't want and that's kind of awesome. But it's also KID-INTENSE. Think, ARCADES!!!!!GLOW GOLF!!!!! MINI GLOW IN THE DARK BOWLING!!!!! COTTON CANDY!!!!!!!! ICE CREAM!!!!!! $500 KID PEDICURES!!!!!!! KIDS SCREAMING EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!! KIDS DUMPING WATER ON YOUR HEAD FROM ABOVE!!!!!! HAHAH SUCKER!!

Like that.

My little brother got there (flew in from San Diego, pretty sure he regrets it, bahaha) and was all, "Hmmm how long do you think before I punch a kid?" OBVIOUSLY he was joking. He's a peaceful guy. But the truth is, it was that kind of feel with some of the older kids. They can be butt-heads.

For instance, there are bucket-things all above you in the treehouse areas, they fill with water, and it's SO fun to tip them on people, right? We get that. It is fun. And you're at a waterpark and should expect that. However, my older brother was walking in with the infant seat for his 12 week old baby (so he could nap) in the snap-n-go stroller, when some kid purposefully dumped a huge bucket directly ON the seat. It was sopping wet. Nice.

In all seriousness. It is a fun place for the kids. I mean, even Lucy loved it. Emeline did waterslide after waterslide and Lucy enjoyed all the little splashy stuff, and the girl could go around the lazy river on someone's lap for hours if we let her. She just took it all in. It was fun. Relaxing? Hell no. Fun? No doubt.

A good 2-3 day trip. No more, though. Take me home, please.

***

Our room was on the first level so we just walked outside to a patio and grassy area. It was super nice.

I never, ever miss a chance at a family photo. I don't know what's wrong with me. I just have this fear that we'll end up with none. The truth is, I have a million. Basically, I overcompensate for feeling like I might under-compensate one day. DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE??? In the end, I'm glad we have family photos. The end.

This is so my favorite, ever. Thank you little brother for quickly capturing my crazy bunch.

***

Alright. I've got two kids in pajamas (and one adult in pajamas), and 20 minutes until preschool drop-off. I win at time management, today.

Ready, set, go.









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Friday, October 11, 2013

On my mind.

-I pulled a muscle in my right butt cheek last night doing some 'turkish' something or other move with a weight, where you jump up on one leg, something ridiculous, and it's annoying as heck and hurts. It doesn't hurt enough though to keep me from Body Pump today. But, oooh. It feels good to stretch it, so I'll be walking around (laying around) stretching my glute all dang day.

-I realized recently that I get personally offended when people look at something I do (go to the gym, cook healthy for my family, go on fun outings as a family, etc) and say Where do you EVER find the time to do ALL THAT? I realized the reason it's so off-putting to me is because it feels like they're all actually saying, YOU MUST HAVE NO LIFE AND ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD. When really, I feel the opposite. It's just, you place your time in what you value is all.

-Being a former art teacher I used to dream about doing art with my kid. Oh yea, I thought I'd be The Coolest Mom when it came to this stuff. In reality, I'm the opposite. Part of my issue is space in this house. I have nowhere for her to do anything fun like paint and be a little Picasso especially once the weather gets cold.  I'm just glad she does art at preschool or then I'd feel really bad. (She is doing play-doh as we speak, and it's getting everrrryyyyywhere. So I'm still semi-cool.)

-If you ever wonder where my cute boots are from, I pretty much get them all from JustFab. I'm obsessed with their boots, am never disappointed, and I think right now you can get two fall styles for $39.95. It's a membership based site, which means that if you don't want to buy one month, you just have to go on between the 1st-5th to "skip". So I set reminders on my phone to do that unless I'm dying for something every once in a while. Favorite handbags & such have come from there, too. Always free shipping? Sign me up.


-I feel like I never take photos anymore, like real photos, and that makes me sad.

-I've started a few blog posts this week and none of them get published, ever. I figure that if it doesn't just flow off the lips (fingers) then it isn't worth posting. So if it gets interrupted 39048309483 times and then I come back to it, end up scratching my head all, where are you going with this? Then I delete it. The problem is, I rarely get uninterrupted time to write anymore (*cough* kids *cough*). Hence, no posts.

-I've been putting pumpkin pie spice in my coffee the last few weeks. It just gives it that little extra boost of flavor and feels fall'ish without being a pumpkin spice latte crazy girl (which I'm not). But yesterday I grabbed Cumin instead. The smell overwhelmed me JUST before I took a sip. Then I read the container. Fail. Ruined cup of coffee.
-I make jokes all the time about how the reason I go to the gym is to get a break from my children, and working out is just a side bonus. I'm not trying to be mean, but--I think this is less and less of a joke, and more a reality these days. When we spend mornings home, all morning, it wears on me, big time. The amount of times the kids beg for snacks is out.of.this.world. They bomb the place x a million, and while I'm ok with that, because, it can be cleaned. It's honestly WAY EASIER to take them out. I think staying home for a full morning sucks and I'm not afraid to admit it. Hence why I'll even go to the Y on mornings it is absolutely POURING DOWN RAIN (like right now). Because God forbid we stay home. I may lose my sanity.

-I can't believe we already have to start thinking about Christmas Cards. I need a family photoshoot and then I'll be ordering from Minted again. I've not found a quality I like better, honestly. They have an early bird deal going on where you can get 15% off your order now for holiday cards, BUT, you don't actually have to upload the photo or create them till later. Isn't that genius? I heart Minted.com.

code is: EARLY2013 for 15% off holiday cards

-We couldn't have planned a better time to take a long weekend vacation to a completely indoor water park. I mean, it is absolutely pouring down rain ALL weekend long, and it doesn't matter a lick because, INDOOR FUN! ALL WEEKEND! FAMILY TIME! VACATION!

-Have you all noticed the trend in blogging lately? A post will go viral. It's all over your newsfeed one day, huff post picks it up, someone disagrees with said post (I'm sure a ton of people disagree), but then they, *gasp* rebuttal! Then the rebuttal goes viral, shocker. It's fine to rebuttal, I guess, I just find it funny. It just all seems like one big power-play to get noticed? I don't know, I feel a little meh about it. Then again, I usually read them. So I guess it does serve it's purpose, huh? genius buggers.

-Is it 4pm yet? I'm ready for vacation.

***


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Monday, October 7, 2013

ohmygosh, shhhhhhhhhhhh.

Do you hear that?

Me neither.

It's silence. Like, beautiful, amazing shhhhhhhhhhh, still as still can be, silence. Oh, with the exception of the rain hitting the side of the house, which actually is quite soothing and peaceful. A cup of coffee. Promptly jumped into sweatpants after getting home from the gym. Girls asleep. ahhhhhhhhhhh.

I never understood the term Silence is Golden until I became a parent. Like, deep-into-parenting is when I'm all OH. YEA. Silence IS golden. Unfortunately, often times I find myself so up to my eyeballs stressed while parenting. The stressful moments always surround the Most Chaotic Moments though. You know the ones. Moments surrounding mealtimes, especially when kids are hungry, shrieking, everyone has a different need-sometimes I swear I could use four more arms, but really-they need to be long and stretchy like Gumby or they aren't really doing anything other than getting in the way. Or bedtime. WHY THE HECK IS BEDTIME ALWAYS SO HARD? The whole shebang. The bath time, the teeth brushing, the getting into jammies and OH TRY AND CATCH ME, MOM game is being played. It all seems to come with a fight these days.

One kid escapes the tub, sloppy wet and running through the halls while trying to catch Mac like he's a greased pig in a farm town fair, while the other one gets soap in her eyes, is fa-reaking out, and already telling us that SHE DOES NOT WANT TO GO TO HER BED, because, I'M NOT SLEEPY YETTTTTT. 

In those moments? I usually tell my husband, NO MORE KIDS! We will not have a 3rd. That's it. Case closed. 

Don't bring it up again.

UTERUS IS SHUT DOWN, BUDDY.

Because, I literally cannot imagine more chaos.

(no I'm not dramatic)

(ok fine I am)

(but ohmygosh)

So yes.

Silence?

It truly is golden. I actually crave it. My body craves silence in a way I never knew existed before and I don't care how stupid it sounds. Even when I'm out, on rare occasion, alone. I'll often opt to not listen to any music in the car at all. Because. Whoa. What's that? I can hear myself thinking. Oh, wow, there's actually good stuff up there going on. I should pay attention to that more often.

It's the same feeling when I tip-toe out of Lucy's room, turn her door-knob slowly, after getting her down for a nap just minutes after Emeline and I go to my room, and I sit.

(source)

Just sit there. For even a few minutes. And breathe.

I realize I may sound like a lunatic, especially to non-parents. But silence is my mom-medicine.

I'm telling you, silence is good for my soul.

....




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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Questions you've asked me about MY Paleo Experience

Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. This is me moaning and groaning.

I have little desire to write about Paleo/health/food stuff because I am not an expert and I feel like I'm being lumped in as being 'trendy'. I don't care about that stuff, which is why I'd rather shut up about it but obviously that's not working too well. I feel like the questions on instagram (mainly) are growing and while I haven't been living this lifestyle for super long, I have learned a thing or two in the past 5'ish weeks so I guess I have something to say.

Mainly, I feel like shouting, Stop!! yes. Just stop. Stop over-thinking it. (But the truth is, I probably over thought it at first, too) If you truly have a desire to eat this way (or even just cleaner, rather), you CAN. And you know what? It doesn't have to be that hard either. I promise. I am busy. We are so super busy all the time and I have little people who dictate my life. I'm heavily involved in my church, a kid in preschool, a kid in dance, big families who want to see us, lots of social outings, we're part of bible studies, and small groups, and I work from home, it can be done. So I'll break a lot down for you.

My husband, who works at an office, away from home and has zero problem eating this way, either. It just takes a tad bit of extra effort. Just a tad. Don't write me off yet.

***

Let's start at the first question I keep hearing.

I'd love to eat paleo, but WHAT WILL I EAT?

Do you think I don't eat? 'Cuz guys (girls). I love food. I LOVE FOOD. I would never, ever be on board with something that made me feel like I couldn't eat. Because I want to eat. I like it. I enjoy it. I want to be healthy. In fact, I've never eaten better.

Here's what you can eat: Meats, Fish, Eggs, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts (like almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashews). Cook with: EVOO & Coconut oil. Natural sweeteners like maple syrup and raw honey are good in moderation. Coconut milk or almond milk as milk substitutes are a-ok. Use all the yummy seasonings for your food! Cumin! Cinnamon! Red pepper! Sea Salt! Pepper! (to name a few out of a billion endless options!)

It may not look like it, but trust me, that is a lot of food :) A lot of good, unprocessed, delicious food if you ask me. The problem is, most of us just picture gnawing on a carrot and being bored to tears. You gotta get creative. I'll get back to that.

What foods do we avoid: Dairy, wheat, grains (so no breads, starches, etc), no white potatoes, no corn products or corn itself, no legumes (no beans, no peanuts), no soy products, no refined sugars (!!!!!), none of the processed crap from a box. (if you have questions about "why no corn!?", google it! Tons of good answers about everything you have questions to with good old google, trust me, I did this in the beginning all.the.time when I had a question), artificial sweeteners are a no-no.

The gist: Get back to basics-eating.

YES, ideally everything in your Paleo lifestyle would be "grass-fed", "organic", "cage-free", etc. BUT. You have to do what works for your family budget. And start small. Some change is better than none. So at first I was way overwhelmed by this and immediately wrote it off because I knew it would skyrocket our budget out of control. But in talking with a few friends who have lived and fed their family in this way, they both confirmed that you do what you can. You can still see health benefits even if not every piece of meat and produce is organic, grass-fed, etc, etc. Basically, my thoughts are, don't use this aspect of it as an excuse or a worry if you truly are interested in giving Paleo a whirl.

Onto budget....

***

HOW DO YOU AFFORD TO EAT LIKE THIS?

I hear this all the time. It sucks that the truth is, eating healthy is generally more expensive. I wish it didn't have to be this way, in fact, it freaking bugs me that our country makes it this way. However, our food budget has not changed that much from what it was before, here's why.

We eat out less. We are buying less dairy, very little cheeses (I still buy some for the girls), less snacky-type stuff lives in our home, no boxes of pastas or rices, or jars of spaghetti sauce, etc.

The money we save from the stuff we are not eating goes to the stuff we DO consume lots. Produce, mainly.

So the truth is, other than our first, initial grocery trip---we have stayed mostly on budget with our weekly dollar amount for groceries. The reason the initial trip can be so expensive is because you're getting some of those new essentials that you may or may not have had before. Coconut oil to cook with, almond butter in lieu of peanut butter, pure maple syrup instead of the fake junk, or coconut or almond flour, etc. You see? But after that, it truly levels off to a very reasonable and affordable way to eat.

Don't let the sticker shock of perhaps, that first week, deter you overall. We have found it definitely levels out. And heck, you can always start with small changes first rather than full-blown, if need-be.

***

How do you prepare? I could never do this, I'm not home enough. I don't want to feel hungry. Can you grocery shop for me? blah blah.

You guys are talking to the QUEEN of hating to meal-plan. For those of you who like to meal plan, then this will come easier for you. It didn't come easy to me. But the truth is, my husband just makes sure it happens before one of us grocery shops for the week. It's as easy as a $1 board from Target on our fridge.

yes my fridge is a mess. it's cool.

Sometimes I don't even fill it fully in, as you can see, but I try. Also I get lazy about sides, but I do make them.

We have a few random dinners that we've been liking on 'rotation', and then I try something new here and there. We are OK with being boring. Not everyone is. I just hate recipes (I have issues), so I prefer to just do simple, easy things (I'll get back to this).

As far as preparing, yes, there is some preparation. BUT it's not bad and makes the entire week wayyyyyy, wayyyyy easier. For example, Declan is the one who works at an office and has to pack his lunch everyday. He makes a bunch of mini-burger type things on Sunday (it takes him about 20 min-half hour), and also some almond flour crusted chicken strips. He packs them up into serving sizes that make it simple and easy to just grab and go. Add in his sides of almonds/cashews or apple slices, etc and he's set to go. So yes, it does take planning and some pre-planning especially for easy lunches throughout the week. But an hour on a weekend will go a long way in this department. I often will have Declan (or I will) grill chicken for the week for me to add to salads, or eat alone at lunches, for myself. Just re-heat quickly and we're good!

We also prep some easy-breakfasts, too, for the days I don't feel like making legit eggs or don't have the time, etc. More on this later.

Grocery shopping? Well, guys. I hate to say it (no I don't)--but it's way easier to grocery shop now than it was before. Basically, you stay in the produce aisle, meats, and occasionally the frozen food section for some veggies (yepppp, sometimes I use frozen stuff, not always), and frozen fruits for smoothies. It's actually a quick, quick trip for me weekly and I'm kind of proud of how awesome the cart looks at the end :) You cut out all those middle, in-between aisles (mostly) and so I don't find myself just perusing and throwing random stuff in the cart. It's all intentional.

***

What do YOU eat? Like, specifically.

Breakfast: I could eat Eggs  & bacon every day, to be honest. But I don't always have the time to make eggs. IF I do have time, I like them in a million ways. Fried. Over easy. Scrambled (no cheese, obviously). Declan likes them scrambled with meat (turkey, bacon, chicken, even), but that's more of a weekend thing when we have time. I also could do smoothies (my go to is: almond milk, handful of spinach, banana, frozen strawberries, blueberries--blend. Sorry, no recipe. You guys know I suck at that). Another thing Declan preps ahead of time every weekend are these delicious egg 'muffins'. He takes enough to work for one for him every morning, and then he leaves the rest with us. Lucy loves them, and so do I when I'm in a rush. 30 seconds in the microwave with a side of cantaloupe, or any other fruit, and you're golden. There are lots of different variations of things like this, so get your google search on (or pinterest!).

Breakfast does not have to be hard, guys. 




Lunch: Honestly. I am easy, easy, easy when it comes to lunch. I don't require fancy. If we have grilled chicken in the fridge I will simply reheat a piece or two of that, eat it alone, with salad, with some cooked up veggies real quick, etc. Also, I'm not a sweet potato snob. I will microwave-cook one, easy. I find it filling and delicious (I may be weird). When it's tomato season and friends and family have plenty and give them to us, I seriously LOVE, love eating a fresh tomato & avocado with chicken or something like that. I've also made tuna fish (mixed with avocado) on lettuce wraps. I eat leftovers of this soup when I make it for dinner previous days. Trust me, I eat. I am just not super picky when it comes to lunch foods I've found.

Declan eats the chicken fingers I mentioned above & mini burgers (made from beef) that are pretty self explanatory. He sorta alternates, but he is a creature of habit and so he likes and doesn't mind repetitive food. He's more of the "eat for need, not for fun" type. (pfffftttttt)


 

Dinner: Dinner is the easiest, probably. I keep hearing, "I would have no idea what to make for dinner" and I'm all, HUH? Because dinners have not been that much different for us, honestly. We eat a combination of these things: Grilled Chicken, Chicken Drumsticks, Salmon, Shrimp, Pork loin, Pork chops, Steaks, Crock pot soup recipes, Taco Salad, Cobb Salad, Cauliflower Mashed, Sweet potato fries, Sweet potato mash, Broccoli, Green beans, side salads, zuchinni, Bunless Burgers, etc.

Instead of thinking "Protein, Starch, Veggie", we just think "protein, veggie, veggie". Things like casseroles, etc, have never really been a way we eat, so it wasn't a big adjustment. Do I miss spaghetti night? Yea, a little bit. But there are still lots of ways I can explore doing this paleo-friendly using spaghetti squash or even making meatballs and spaghetti sauce.


Paleo-Baking: Many people don't do paleo baking because the truth is, you don't want to take all the normal stuff you used to eat (pancakes, cookies, etc) and just go and make all paleo-friendly versions of everything and basically eat like you used to. You get what I'm saying? Fresh, fresh, fresh, whole foods are the ideal. HOWEVER. We have found that in moderation, it's been okay to bake here and there. For instance, my favorite muffins when I have some browner bananas sitting around are these (I add walnuts). She also has another pumpkin-carrot one on her blog that I've liked, too. They make an easy addition to a quick-breakfast. Again, not everyday--but sometimes we've had no issues with. We have also done cookies, and we pretty much just google around for a new recipe every time and while they're not the ooey gooey cookie you're used to, they actually can and do fulfill that craving IF NEED BE.

Drinks: I have cut diet-soda cold turkey 5'ish weeks ago. I think I do sometimes miss it, but I don't dream about it, nor do I have a strong urge to get one at the drive-thru. I've been completely happy with water and coffee. Coffee is not technically Paleo. Neither is the coconut milk creamer I use. BUT-coffee was not something Declan, nor I were willing to part with. Therefore, it's an exception. In fact, Declan still drinks his with the same creamer he loves because it was something he didn't want to change, and I think that's totally ok.

So let's talk about exceptions.

In the beginning of this, in talking with some Paleo-friends, they told me to set my standards now and stick to them. So, if you feel like you need to have a beer on the weekends? FINE. If you feel like you still need your one cup of coffee with your favorite creamer? FINE. If you feel like you cannot deny yourself your one special Starbucks Latte a week when cruising Target? FINE.

(Obviously you cannot make exceptions for everryyyything or that would defeat the purpose, but you get it!)

Snacks: At night, we tend to snack on fruit. Honestly, you have no idea--sometimes I truly look forward to an apple dipped in almond butter, or a whole bunch of watermelon. My favorite snack to keep on hand is a nut mix (my friend Jess told me about). 1 lb sliced almonds, 1 lb halved cashews, 1/4 lb sunflower seeds, 1/4 lb pumpkin seeds (I prefer mine without), mixed with 2T coconut oil, and 1T vanilla, mix and then spread on a baking sheet at 300 for 20'ish minutes. Keep sealed and it's good for a handful of snacks here and there OR I love to sprinkle on top of cut up strawberries & bananas with cinnamon. Like, this is my favorite naptime snack. (Thanks again for that, Jess ;)) You can also spread almond butter on celery sticks. You can make sweet potato chips. Plantain chips. I have also made "pineapple ice cream". AKA: 1 Cup+frozen pineapples and 1 cup unsweeteened vanilla almond milk in the food processor, plus a dab of honey=yum.

At work, Declan snacks on cashews, apples, carrot sticks, etc.


It might sound boring, but honestly, once you start fueling your body at all your other meals with such good food, you may find you aren't that hungry when it comes to snacking, anyway.

***

What are the benefits?

Okay. So we originally went down this track because we are health-conscious people. Well, we've become more health conscious I would say. My husband has a strong desire to maintain/stay ahead of health as much as he can. I feel the same way, and I take pride now in my body and living in a healthy way. It feels good. It feels good to FEEL good, actually. So we were all, "okay we'll try this"--plus I knew it would help make my workouts a little more visible (ie: lower my % body fat, lean me out a little), and I was cool with that.

It turns out, it meshed pretty nicely with our lifestyle and so we really like it. Within a few days of starting to clean up our eating I noticed my face that was previously all broken out had cleared up. Bloat in my gut went down within days. Bloat that I didn't even REALIZE was there until you look at before and after's and are all, WHOA.

(the thought of this being pinned on pinterest LITERALLY makes me sweat and shake. DO NOT PIN THIS OR I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN. please. I beg of you.)

The health benefits are insane though...and this is one of my favorite articles that really explains them well. Mental health, gut health, more energy, just to name a few.

The first week you change your lifestyle in this way you can actually feel like crap. Don't let that deter you from keep on keepin' on, because your body is just doing what it's supposed to do. It's learning to start burning protein and good fats versus carbs and sugar which it was used to. Sometimes you can get a little headache'y and feel icky--but the feeling does pass, I swear.

***

Do you ever cheat?

Yes.

Obviously in moderation, but we do here and there. Usually about once or so on the weekend. Declan still enjoys his beer when watching football. Last weekend, we went to the fair with our kids and after a week of eating great, we decided, we were going to enjoy our time at the fair. We had fresh cut french fries and a toasted cheeseburger. It was delicious and felt so worth it--we actually looked forward to it. We both were a tad worried we'd feel gross afterwards, but we were just, mainly a little blah in the morning. Nothing extreme really. Just reminded why I like eating well, because my body actually feels good. We also went to a 40th birthday party that had amazing handmade desserts and so Declan had a cookie or two and I had this mini-apple pie thing, and that was ok.

The weekend before we went to Chili's and I wanted fajitas. Like, I wanted to eat flour tortillas and have cheese and sour cream and all the stuff I haven't had in weeks. So I did. I left feeling way too full, but it was still yummy.

Having those 'cheats' are up to you. Some say it makes living this lifestyle the rest of the time more doable. Some NEED to have a pizza night once or twice a month with your family. Dude, do it. You may find you feel a little funky afterwards, but it'll make you get back to eating well again, I assure you.

***

Basically, what I've found in my research and talking to people over the last month plus about this is this: Everyone has a little different take on it. Some are of the belief to NEVER CHEAT EVER. Some say, hey, if you can do this 80% of the time, it's still good for your body (I would agree with that). Some have differing opinions about bacon, and honestly, don't mess with me and my bacon. :) Some emphasize one thing more than another, etc. Some say you will not lose weight, others say yes you do.  My theory is this: do what works for you and your family. Start with small changes if you want to. For us, it was easiest to just fully dive right in, etc. If you are looking for a really hardcore way to jumpstart look into Whole30.

If you are like my husband, and don't want to lose weight--make sure you are eating enough of the good fats. Cashews, sweet potatoes, avocados, more snacky nuts-type thing throughout the day.

Overall?

We've been more than pleased with how our bodies have responded to eating this way. I hope I answered some of the questions I've been getting. If any more come in, I'll try to field them in the comments section.

Here are some of my favorite resources (besides google):

PaleoOMG, EverydayPaleo, NomNomPaleo, SimplyPaleo, PaleoPlan (why to go Paleo).

***

Some things to note:
This is mostly my opinion, how we do things, etc. Seriously. Google stuff. If you are like, BUT DON'T YOU NEED CALCIUM??? (why does everyone ask that?) I encourage you, to google it. You will find great responses that are way better than anything I could put together. Also, there are people way hardcore about this, so I hope I don't offend the those people, because-sorry. I'm just a regular-joe-schmo trying to show how it works for our family. Oh, and one last thing. Clean Eating vs. Paleo. They are different. Look it up. It doesn't mean one is better than the other, and if you can clean up your eating in any way, I think that's great :) And also, I promise, I am not trying to convince anyone to eat this way. There is no point in doing that since I can't sit there and motivate everyone personally along the way. Obviously has to be something you want to do. I just felt like answering some of these simple questions may help those considering it. Ok. ///end rant


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