Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween from my Minions!

My little minions!

This picture cracks me up. So much personality, these two!

For those who don't know what a minion is, these are minions from a movie that we have watched no less than 20 billion times this year. 

source: focus animation

Today was a fun day. Jackson had a Halloween party at school and I was a 'room-mom'! I was there to help, but I was also eager to meet the girl that Jackson has sworn he is going to marry. It made total sense as soon as I saw her-- she was dressed as a Ninja Turtle!

I had collected the pieces from thrift stores over the past few weeks, but I told Derek the other day that I just wasn't interested in putting in effort to put the costumes together. Jackson went as Batman to school today and Belle just wanted to be a princess. Somehow I got the itch to assemble the costumes this afternoon and so that's what I did all afternoon. The costumes cost me around $10 plus some hot glue. We'll get more use from Belle's yellow hoodie (swimsuit cover) and her overall dress. Jackson's overalls were a tad small and I found his hoodie in the teen girl section. It worked for tonight, but we won't be wearing those again! The goggles are just cardboard from the packaging from Jackson's birthday toys.

We visited the fall festival at our church first and then we visited the nursing home where Derek grandma stays. The residents were lined up in the halls to hand out candy and they were thrilled to have kids visit. We got to peek in and say hi to Great Grandma, too. Jackson really wanted to go trick-or-treating so we visited some houses in a neighborhood close by as well as our neighbors close by! By the end, the kids were tired from walking and were whining that their candy was too heavy.

The kids indulged in candy for a bedtime snack. Halloween is a special time so we want them to enjoy their treats!

Candy is fun and we'll eat it a little bit, but I don't want it to stick around for weeks and weeks. We made a deal with Jackson. He plans to sell us his candy so he can add it to his collection to buy some toys he's been really wanting. 

What's your favorite candy? I've always been a fan of plain chocolate (like Hersey's milk chocolate) but I tried it tonight and it just wasn't as delicious anymore. I did enjoy a pack of Skittles (minus the yellow ones!). But as far as candy goes, dark chocolate is my new favorite!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Two months of clean eating PLUS a Giveaway!!

We're coming up to the two month mark of our new real, whole food diet. Things are getting easier. I have go to ideas for meals and snacks. I know what brands I like to buy when I'm at the store and I don't have to spend hours researching labels. I've improved a lot of my cooking skills, too!

Speaking of cooking-- I have to admit that there have been a handful of meals that have turned out not-so-great! Derek mentioned once that the ratio of ending up with a cooking fail was higher now that we're eating differently... and he's so right! It's amazing how when you cram things full of fat, sugar, and artificial ingredients that they taste good no matter what! It's a completely different skill to make tasty foods using natural ingredients! But, it can be done. On more than once occasion, Derek has said, "This is the best fill-in-the-blank I've ever had!". Mainly fish, but also about the burritos with homemade tortillas, lasagna, and even veggies.

Several people have asked about the side effects from our new eating plan other than just knowing that we're eating better foods. Here's a few from the top of my head.

  • Derek and I have each lost over 10% of our body weight and have each gone down 2-3 pant sizes. I really never looked to see a change in the kids in this area because my priority has been to just create good eating habits early. I took Jackson into his well child check up today and his BMI (height and weight ratio) has gone down significantly compared to previous years to the point where his doctor was concerned if he was eating enough. I assured her that he eats plenty-- it's just minimally processed and healthy foods!
  • Energy!!! Now the kids always have boundless energy, but Derek and I each relied on caffeine to get through the day. Breakfast, lunch, and especially to get us through the afternoon slump. We have no caffeine and no afternoon crash. 
  • For a few years, I have had regular feet pain. I have been much more active in the last two months, yet my feet hardly ache. I can wear flip flops, boots, or even go barefoot sometimes whereas before it would have made my feet hurt for days.
  • Derek and I both enjoy the feeling of being in control of our cravings. In fact, we rarely ever have them and if we do-- it's for different foods than before. My brain and body aren't being controlled by the artificial ingredients and sugar overload in processed foods. Have you read the research about Oreo's being more addictive than other drugs? I stop eating when I'm not hungry anymore and it's not a challenge. But for example, Jackson requested McDonalds for his birthday. We haven't been in over two months, so I took the kids. We shared some chicken nuggets, french fries, along with oranges that I packed. We ate decent portions and we were all full. But all afternoon I was hungry... I wanted chocolate. I wanted salty chips. Carbs, carbs, carbs! I just couldn't get full and I snacked all afternoon. I am SO glad that is not my normal anymore. 
  • Freedom: we can eat anything we have in the house and not feel guilty, including: dark chocolate, cheese and crackers, nuts (we have them hidden so Jackson doesn't accidentally eat them!), popcorn with real butter!
Speaking of butter, cheese, and other dairy... we still eat it, we still love it! What's changed now with our new eating habits? Well, we buy full fat cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese. I'm not a fan of whole milk, so we still use 2%. We also opt for organic these days. Organic dairy comes from grass fed cows, which is what cows were designed to eat. Michael Pollan, cites that "you are what you eat eats, too!"  
A diet of grass means much healthier fats (more omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA; fewer omega-6s and saturated fat) in their meat, milk and eggs, as well as appreciably higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants.
Earlier this month, Rumiano Cheese Company sent me some coupons to try some of their cheeses! I eagerly visited Whole Foods and picked up a block of Pepper Jack and some Medium Cheddar slices. Notice that the cheddar cheese is white? It's because cheese is naturally white and that other cheeses dye it to make it orange.

I grated the block of cheese to make a delicious addition to some omelets. I've used the cheese slices to make grilled sandwiches and also as an easy snack to enjoy with crackers. Not only is it delicious, it's feels good to know that I'm eating the super nutritious foods made from animals that were also fed the most nutritious foods!

Rumiano Cheese Company has supplied me with five free coupons for cheese to giveaway to one lucky reader! These cheeses are available at Whole Foods Markets, so hopefully you have one close by!  Plus, the winner will be entered into The Big Cheese Sweepstakes-- you could win a full year's supply of cheese! 

Use the widget below to enter (just be patient to let it load!).

Disclosure: I received free coupons to review the cheese for this post. All comments and opinions are my own.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Jackson turned five yesterday! It was a super fun day (aside from the whole cake thing). One of my favorite thing about birthdays is that it's time for the annual interview! 

Several of the answers are similar to last year, especially involving Transformers. I'm not sure why he has such a distaste for green, but this isn't the first time I've heard him say it. I love how he wants to be an "ambulance-r". Playing the Wii is clearly Jackson's love language. Last year he mentioned that swinging was his favorite outdoor activity. He has learned to pump on his own (woo hoo!) but in our back yard, he has upgraded from using the play set to do anything it is intended to do... and instead he climbs, hangs, and maneuverers all over the play set. It keeps him occupied for hours!

I knew what we needed to get Jackson for his birthday way back this summer. It was so hard to wait!!! We set up his bike in the family room so he could see it when he woke up. He was excited to say the least. He rode it around the house until it was nice enough to go outside!

Even breakfast couldn't get in the way of enjoying his new bike!!

Jackson celebrated with his friends this weekend by touring the fire station and having a little party. Yesterday, I cooked his favorite meal and then family came over for cake and ice cream. We did sing happy birthday, but he was just grumpy that he wasn't opening presents yet. 

We did eventually open presents and Jackson acquired some pretty awesome loot. He's been playing with these toys non stop. In other news, my fingers were practically bleeding from unpacking these things. Next year, we're going to have a you-bring-it-you-unpackage-it party! 

Jackson celebrated his birthday in class today. He made a crown and got to wear it all day! His teacher has invited parents to come read a book to the class for birthdays this year. Jackson requested the book Jackson's Blanket to read and I, of course, had to introduce his blanket to the class. Jackson was thrilled. Belle was pretty excited about being in "school" even if it was only for 15 minutes!

Jackson is stoked about being five. He's already inquired about a later bedtime and other perks he feels that are necessary now that he's grown up overnight. Tonight at bedtime he did request to get to sleep until he wakes up instead of someone waking him up. Sounds good to me, buddy!!

We love you Jackson! He'd respond... "Actually it's Jack." We love you, son! :) We love having you in our family. You're such a big helper, you make us laugh. Best of all, you give the BEST snuggles! :)


Monday, October 28, 2013

The birthday cake disaster of 2013

This post refers to the birthday cake disaster of 2013, not the birthday cake fiasco of mid-1990s in which my very long hair got caught in the mixer. This was far less painful and messy, but still disastrous nonetheless.

Today was Jackson's fifth birthday and boy was he as excited as ever. It was a super fun day and I can't wait to post about it. I forgot to do his annual birthday interview before he went to bed and by the time I checked on him ten minutes later, he was already fast asleep snuggled up with his new Optimus Prime.

For tonight, I just thought I'd share the story of Jackson's birthday cake.

I posted a photo on Facebook and Instagram and it got far more praise than I was expecting... especially the whole "coolest mom ever" comment! Looking at it now, it really is a pretty cute cake. But that's not how I was seeing it at the time.

 The Leonardo cake was FAR from what I had envisioned. The entire cake making process was a nightmare. Nothing went as planned and it seems like things were so much more complicated than they needed to be. I didn't plan my timeline well and so I was rushed at the end which didn't help things at all. 

I figured I'd go ahead and share my "inspiration" as what I was originally intending to make. 

I am not even kidding. Quit laughing.

I was going to use blueberries to make the fruit glaze. 

I picked the cake recipe out last night and I knew I'd need to go to the store to pick up all-purpose flour because that's not something I have at home anymore. I don't care for whipped cream, so I opted to make a different kind of icing using powdered sugar. I didn't want to have to buy an entire bag, so I figured I'd make my own with the pure cane sugar that I have at home using my blender. 

Jackson and I started making the cake and had everything in the bowl before I realized I was out of vanilla.... and Belle was already napping! Ah!!! Fortunately, my father-in-law saved the day and delivered some vanilla. Also, I wish I could've sifted the flour since the whole wheat flour makes a cake more dense.

I only had one circular cake pan, so I had to bake the cakes in two rounds, which wasn't a big deal other than taking more time. When it came time to make the powdered sugar, I didn't have enough pure cane sugar (ugh!) and so I used some coconut sugar, which is brown. By the time I mixed the butter with the sugar I had ugly brown icing. Oh, and I remembered that I needed vanilla for the icing too, but I already sent it back with my father-in-law. I was hoping to avoid food coloring, but I had no choice! If I was going to have icing that didn't taste good, I'd need it to be pretty. Green was the only "boy" color I had and I didn't have much. 

I ended up with an ugly shade of green, but it was going to have to work. I iced the first cake and when I put the second on top... the top one broke into several pieces! It was a mess (ugh!). I was so flustered! I decided to scrape the crumbling mess and just work with the bottom piece. Derek came home at this time and all I could see was a disaster from what I was really hoping to create from the beginning.. An ugly green circle. 

At this time, I happened to glance at the kitchen table to see a cup with four turtles the same ugly green as my cake. I dug through my sprinkles to find sprinkles to match any color of the turtles and behold I found some blue. The whole sprinkle process was frustrating because they were going EVERYWHERE and then the icing for the smile was runny. Right before I snapped the photo of the cake, I was huffing and puffing to Derek in the kitchen about the huge disaster of a cake I made. I was embarrassed to serve it to our family who were all here to celebrate Jackson. 

I cannot help but laugh at the whole ordeal. I mean, I ended up with a Ninja Turtle cake. A blue one. Jackson's favorite-- which would have been his choice had I ever known it to be an option!  I thought I failed big time! But when the first compliment came in-- I just couldn't believe it! I had to look at the cake from a different perspective to realize that it really did turn out pretty good! *

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. If life gives you an ugly cake, make Leonardo!

*By good, I mostly mean looked cool. I have tried making a cake from scratch twice now and haven't achieved major success either time. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't amazing either. But at least it was cute. :)


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jackson's Firefighter Birthday

Yesterday, Jackson had several friends over to celebrate his birthday. He's turning five tomorrow. FIVE! We had a firefighter party this year and it was so much fun. His friends came over and we had just a couple simple activities and treats and then we headed to the fire station for a tour!

Belle is up spending the weekend with my parents. At first, I really wanted her to be here and go have fun with us, but after Mom invited her up I changed my mind. Why would Belle want to stay here and watch Jackson be the center of attention when she could be up with Grammy and Papa and BE the center of attention herself... for an entire weekend. Before she left, we played fighter fighter games though. 

I picked up a firefighter costume at a consignment sale last month and he wore it to great his guests!

His little friends each got a fire fighter hat and a sticker sheet that I ordered from Oriental Trading.


Here's Jackson's finished sticker scene:

I dug out some foam letters for the kids and they decorated their fire hats.

Everyone congregated in our family room while the kids worked on their stickers and fire hats.

We enjoyed yummy cookies by my friend HanNah along with some clementines and juice. 

Jackson opened his presents and then we caravanned to the fire station. The kids were SO excited.

The guys gave a tour of of the vehicles and showed them several of the tools they use. 

They got to climb in and out of all of the vehicles!

 The kids lined up to check out the fire suit. 

The guy got fully dressed in 1:03 minutes!

The kids also got to take turns shooting the fire house! I think this was everyone's favorite!

 ... except mine when they widened the spout and I got drenched. 

The firefighters showed us their living quarters-- their kitchen, living room, and bunk room. Jackson thought it was so funny that the beds folded down from the wall! 

The kids had a great time. In fact, many of the parents mentioned that they enjoyed the tour, too! It was such a fun birthday party activity-- and the fire department didn't even charge for the tour. When I asked Jackson about his favorite thing about his party his first answer was, of course, presents. But his "second best" thing about the day was seeing his friends. We are so blessed to have great friends to celebrate our special guy!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall trip to Deanna Rose

Somehow I managed to forget to blog about our trip last week to Deanna Rose. It's one of our favorite places to visit each year! We typically make a few trips, but we've been busy with our season pass to the zoo this year! I realized a couple of weeks ago that it was going to close soon and so I made plans to meet up with a friend-- pronto! 

The goats kept trying to eat different articles of clothing. One untied my shoes as I was taking this photo!


My friend Kandice with her girls... and another one in the making! :) We were friends in college and it's fun having our kids the same age!


This is such a good shot of all of the girls!! Jackson on the other hand... 

The bench is my favorite photo spot!! 





I love that our city has such fun (free) things to do and I love getting to enjoy those places with such good friends while our kids play!



Related Posts with Thumbnails