Life as we know it

Our family adventures

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Long week

I FINALLY made the creamy garlic pasta on Tuesday night! It was great. Its very strong on the garlic, but I like that. I don’t think Doug liked it as much, and Allie wouldn’t try it. I hope to make it again though. It also had the heavy cream and parmesan flavor that I like. That heavy cream though made it very filling. It initially seemed like only two servings so I divided it up between me and Doug. We were both stuffed and put our leftovers in one bowl that I just ate for lunch today. It still tasted great, but the cream went away and there is an obscene amount of oil remaining in the bowl. I’m not really sure what happened.

We’ve been eating really well up until the last week. Between Doug’s birthday and other assorted events, that good eating has gone way south. I’m overeating and eating bad stuff. Of course this is also during a week in which I didn’t work out like usual because of the cold and my sore shins and waiting for new shoes. Lovely how that stuff works. I’m kind of at a point where almost anything I eat is not sitting well. Hopefully that will stop as I am getting back on the eating well wagon. I don’t really call it a diet… I’m not following any kind of plan. We’re just not eating out (other than this week) and I’m making good for us dinners.

On the new shoes… I got them yesterday and I love the color!
Unfortunately I’m not 100% sure they are keepers. I ordered them online on clearance and they didn’t have my size in wide width. So I got regular width and when I ran this morning I got blisters. ūüė¶¬† I’m staying optimistic though and I will try wearing my double layer running socks, which are supposed to prevent blisters. If that doesn’t work, I’m not sure what I’ll do. We can’t afford my current shoes at full price and I don’t really want to pay full price. The increase in price from model to model in running shoes is crazy! However, on my run this morning, my shins were only minimally painful, which I regarded as leftovers of the pain from running in old shoes. So if these shoes don’t work, I can’t easily go back to my old ones.

This has been a long week of cold, and when its not as cold, its supposed to snow.¬†At least the snow¬†doesn’t paralyze Madison like it did Atlanta! We complain about how unprepared the city of Madison seems when it snows… but¬†from events this week in the south, I now believe Madison is quite prepared! And on that note, we laugh when the south closes everything in event of snow in the forecast… well, maybe that’s with good reason!¬†

Every day this week, I’ve thought it was Friday. I even thought on Tuesday that it was Friday! At least Friday is tomorrow, but that still seems a LOOOOONG way away.
Some fun in the midst of a long boring week, Peyton! He’s so proud of himself as he scoots around the house. A favorite spot is by the bathroom door, he likes to play with the door stop. Allie liked that too.¬†We lost one of the ones from the kids room when she was playing with it a lot.¬†

Peyton still doesn’t crawl on all fours, I suppose because he gets around just fine with his “swimming” motion. We have noticed just over the last day or so he is getting more on all fours and making a crawling motion without actually crawling. Doug and I think he’s going to go straight to walking though. Its time to get the gates out!
He was following me into and around the kitchen last night. This is a change as very recently he’d see me walk in a room and cry when I walked away from him. And even if I sat down near him, he wouldn’t come to me, he’d just cry until I went to get him.

On the subject of getting up on all fours, he’s also starting to pull up on things. The other morning I put him in the crib to help Allie get dressed, and he started pulling up on the side of the crib! So unfortunately I think it may be time to lower the crib mattress. This is bad for me with my back. Not to mention I’m short, I can’t reach the crib mattress when its on its lowest height!

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This week’s food plans

I didn’t get back yesterday to post this week’s meal plans. Last night for dinner we had leftover chili reheated on the stove. We had to stop by the store on the way home from work, so I picked up some bread to have along with it. That was the perfect meal for the super cold night!

Here’s the rest of the week:
Tuesday: Creamy garlic pasta, I’m going to try it this week!
Wednesday: Tacos
Thursday: Chicken cacciatore from the freezer
Friday: Mushroom lovers pork chops.
Saturday: Pasta fagioli. This is the double batch that I was going to freeze half last weekend, but since we had so many leftovers I didn’t make it.
Sunday: Super Bowl! We’re going to Jon and Julie’s like we do most years… Julie always makes the most amazing Super Bowl food!

Several of these are items I didn’t make last week, yet we still managed to spend a larger chunk at the grocery store than we expected. Why is it always so expensive? I’m happy at least to report that we ate all the leftovers last week and don’t have nearly as much left over this week.

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Back on the treadmill

I’ve made a pretty good comeback in January, compared to how I was running in November and December. November I had the remnants of pneumonia and December I had laziness, then crazy busy, and then chest cold. Well, for January so far, I’ve beat my November mileage with 23.5 miles. November was 22.8. I won’t mention December, because I only ran 9 miles in December!

Even better, I’ve finally started going to Body Flow again! I’ve gone the past two Sundays. I could definitely tell last week that it had been several months, I was so sore for a few days. Yesterday’s class was easier and I’m not nearly as sore. I’m so glad it comes back fairly quickly! I really enjoyed doing Body Flow when I was pregnant, that was the only real workout I could do by the end. I can really see the benefit when I’m doing classes like this regularly. When I’m toning my core and back it helps with my SI joint disfunction. It also helps me get stronger in running with the strength and balance portions.

Unfortunately my running right now is on the treadmill. If it would be a little warmer and if some snow would melt so I’d have good footing, I’d happily run outside. Unfortunately the temperatures these days don’t get too warm and even if they do, I can’t trust myself to run on snowy sidewalks or streets!¬†Not to mention running in the morning in the dark is miserable even in the best winter conditions. So I’m stuck on the treadmill. And as I do most winters, I’m dealing with shin splints. I have general shin splints but also a problem spot on the inside of my right shin.¬†I saw the doctor about them a few years ago, she determined that the poorly maintained treadmills at the gym are to blame. So I do my shin strengthening exercises and try to alternate which treadmills I use. Its not the most comfortable process, but I don’t feel like my shins are getting any worse, and in some ways are getting better. I just ordered new shoes, so that should help too. My current shoes just got over 250 miles, which is about the limit I have for shoes when I’m on the heavier side.

I was basically starting over as I started running this month. My longest run was 3.5 miles, but that was a run where I was doing some run/walk intervals. I’m alternating between run/walk and straight running. This past weekend I noticed that if my shins weren’t having issues, I could start running a bit longer now. As it is, I’m taking a break from running for at least a few days because of the intense cold. I could drag myself out in -25 wind chills to the gym, but I figure since I’ve got this sore shin, I’ll just excuse myself, at least for today and tomorrow. My new shoes are supposed to come Wednesday, so I may just wait until I get those. I don’t know. I change my mind daily!

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Birthday celebrations

Since Dada’s birthday was on Friday, we didn’t really do anything on the day because the weekdays are so hectic already. Saturday the plan was to make a birthday cake and go to Buffalo Wildwings for a birthday dinner and then go home to have cake. But, as most Saturdays do, the day got away from us. So we made dinner at home and had cake. We made sure to light some candles and sing “Happy Birthday to you!”
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When there’s cake to be had, we can get Allie to do anything. She picked up her toys and ate all her dinner in order to win that cake! She helped make the cake and frosting too.
Since we didn’t go out to dinner last night, we went to lunch at Buffalo Wildwings today. It was quite pleasant going out as a family! Peyton is getting big enough that he’s not as hard to entertain when we go out and Allie was very good too.
Happy Birthday Dada!

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Our first week of menu planning was a smashing success. It was so successful in fact, that we had and still have tons of leftovers. So many leftovers that I still haven’t made the creamy garlic pasta that was originally on the menu last Wednesday. I was going to make it on Saturday and again last night, but our fridge is full. We had leftovers for lunch on Saturday and Sunday, dinner on Saturday and last night. I made meatloaf from the freezer on Saturday night and that just added leftovers to the mix. I have the last split pea soup leftovers for lunch today and we still have lasagna and meatloaf in the fridge at home. Over the weekend we finished the barbecue chicken.

The menu for the rest of this week:
Tuesday: Basic barbecue with chips and baked beans. This may get replaced with leftovers.
Wednesday: Chicken cacciatore (freezer recipe I haven’t assembled yet, I was going to do one for this week and freeze another, I may just put both straight into the freezer)
Thursday: Ham and scalloped potatoes from the freezer
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Free
Sunday: Pasta fagioli (a double batch to freeze half)

Its a good thing we like leftovers in this family! I really really want to try that garlic pasta though. I’m a big fan of garlic. Friday is Doug’s birthday, so we may actually use the free spot for a meal out on either Friday or Saturday night. The good thing about this is with so many meals still unused, our grocery bill should be a bit lower next weekend! Of course it seems in a family of four, there’s always something to spend our grocery money on.

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Special January days

I used to remember late January more for the negative. But now there is more positive. It was four years ago yesterday I started working for unemployment insurance. In that time I’ve managed to get a couple promotions and raises! I still can’t forget that yesterday was also the day I was laid off from my newspaper career five years ago. I can’t forget starting 2010 getting ready to somberly observe a full year of unemployment, when I got the call from the unemployment job… the irony of my first day of work falling on the one-year anniversary of my layoff. I still would go back to my newspaper career in a heartbeat, but I also know our life is much better off how it is now. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would be to navigate life with two kids while also working nights! I am so glad to have the job security that comes with working for the state.

Today is another fun anniversary. Nine years ago today, Doug and I went on our first date.
first pic
This is the first picture of us from a couple months after the first date… I couldn’t find a copy on my computer so I took a picture of the picture in Doug’s first Valentine’s Day present he got me. I guess I could have dusted it off first. But aren’t we cute?
And the rest, as they say, is history.

Today is also Peyton’s 11-month birthday!
peyton morning
We’re still having a hard time with teething. We are sleeping better at night though, thank goodness.

The big news as we hit 11 months is all the new foods Peyton is trying. He’s a big fan of butter crackers. We buy the generic, I think the brand is club crackers? We can’t even let him see them or he will cry for some. Its still often a long process at meal time. Peyton gets frustrated sometimes too. Yesterday he was really hungry at breakfast and was enjoying the scrambled eggs and hash browns, but preferred his oatmeal as he could eat it faster. Almost every meal last weekend Peyton had some table food. And certain foods are getting a little faster! Among new foods recently in addition to the crackers are: real oatmeal (actual oats as opposed to the baby oatmeal that I mix with water) scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheddar cheese, meatballs, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, small noodles and steamed carrots and broccoli.

Peyton is very mobile now, in spite of not crawling. His army crawl with a dolphin kick reminds me of swimming, maybe that will be his sport? I took a video last weekend, but I’m not sure how to post it here. I will try to get it posted soon. Peyton is quite content with his army crawl. He surprises us with how fast he can move and he looks so proud! He stands up leaning on things like the couch, but he still doesn’t sit up or stand up himself.

He loves the music table thing he got from Tyler. We take the legs off a lot so he can just play with it on the ground rather than standing.
The only other big happening I can think of is last night Mama got brave and gave Peyton his first bath in the big tub. Before I was still just sitting him up in the infant tub. It went well, though a little nerve wracking for Mama! It didn’t seem to make much difference to Peyton. He did enjoy playing with the bath letters though.

I can hardly believe Peyton will be 1 in just a month! Where has the time gone?

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This morning Dada started teaching Allie about the ABCs while Peyton was napping.
They did ABCD and she did great! She’s really good at writing A and C. She remembers pretty well about the sounds and words that start with those letters. We’ve been wanting to start working with her on these early school things since we didn’t put her in preschool this year.
She also had fun coloring. We need to get her some more crayons though because we’ve lost or broken most of the original box we got her a couple years ago.

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Getting it together

A subtitle could be: Things are going tooooo well. Or: It could all fall apart any moment.

Don’t get me wrong. I love feeling like I’ve got it together!

One of the biggest contributing factors to this feeling… sleep!
allie morning
I think the kids would agree! Peyton has slept through the night three out of the last four nights. It is amazing how amazing one can feel with a full night of sleep.
peyton morning
Here’s the face of a good night’s sleep!

Planning meals is a lifesaver. Planning meals to be ready when we get home or very quick prep is even more of a lifesaver! We’ve been getting home earlier this week in general. With dinner ready, we get done with dinner and take the time to clean the kitchen. Then we STILL have a few minutes to let the kids play before its time for bed… and perhaps the best thing is Doug and I have a bit longer to relax kid-free before its time for bed.

Last night in addition to cleaning the kitchen after dinner, we had time for Doug to put away his laundry and for me and Allie to clean the living room, which I also then vacuumed. Maybe this doesn’t feel like a big deal to some… but being able to keep the house clean during the week definitely helps me to feel a little less stressed.

I feel like planning our dinners has already made a big difference in how we eat. I’m getting back into the habit of running too. Through December when it started getting so cold and when Peyton wasn’t sleeping well, I’d just sleep. Right now I’m more in the mindset that when the conditions allow it, I’m going to get up and run. Conditions at this point¬†are good sleep and good weather/roads. Those were both met when I got up on Wednesday morning so even though I wasn’t planning on it, I got in a run. It was a little longer run too. It also helps that its¬†warmed up¬†a bit lately… I’ll have to battle the cold again next week though.¬†I’ve shattered my December running total with 14.5 miles so far this month.¬†I’ll add a third run this weekend, for the first week in I don’t know how long of getting three runs in the same week! Hopefully soon I will add in other cross training as well. This morning I didn’t work out though since I did yesterday.

In the last two weeks I’ve lost 2 pounds. This makes me so happy because I’m doing it without any kind of tools. No weight watchers, no counting calories. None of those methods haven’t worked for me in awhile as we’ve adjusted to the new normal. I feel like right now I’m doing it by planning good meals and working out. You know, the old-fashioned way. I’m feeling so good, I don’t even want junk food as much. I’m not snacking in the afternoons as much either.

I am well aware it could all fall apart at any time, so I’m savoring it for right now. And I’m starting to plan next week’s menu. Hopefully all these positive happenings continue!

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Cuteness alert

Yesterday Allie asked me to braid Rapunzel’s hair and then asked me to braid her hair, in two braids.
It turned out pretty good considering how frizzy her hair can get and my lack of skill in doing other people’s hair. Well, I can’t really do much with my hair either, but even less with others.
Allie loved it!
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We have continuing sleep issues with Peyton. But last night he slept all night for the first time in two weeks!
Just look at that big smile! Please excuse the messy high chair. Peyton is getting more hands on with his food.
Just look at that big smile! He’s very enthusiastic about his food!
We’re starting to give him the sippy cup a bit more. He gets it, but the cup we bought didn’t seem to be doing it for him. Allie had a hard time with the first cup too because it was hard to suck the drink out. Well I brought out all the old sippy cups and he gets out tons of water… and promptly spits it all out! We need to keep working on this.
Peyton got this activity board from Cousin Tyler a couple weeks ago. It has legs that make it a table to stand next to, or I like to take the legs off so he can just play on the floor. Peyton will stand with support but we have to guard him so he doesn’t fall.
He really loves the music and “dances” to it, which essentially is a hyper jumping that has a vague rhythm. Its very cute.

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Menu planning

Its a novel idea, one I have tried to do in the past. But I’ve never been particularly good with menu planning just because I’d wait until right before we were going to go shopping and then pull a menu together to go with the list. We’d usually end up with a few processed meals, not enough leftovers for lunches or just not enough time for what I’d planned to make. All three issues are things I really want to fix as we try to improve our diet and our finances in 2014.

So I decided last week to meal plan for a whole month. Yep, all of January has been planned. There are tons of free printable charts on the internet to help with this task. I planned six dinners per week¬†and leave one meal as “free,” which would be either going out to eat or leftovers, or something else if we have it. I wrote meals for January and then last Friday put those meals on a weekly menu planner with¬†a grocery list. The monthly meal plans are fluid, but not quite as fluid as the “planning” I did before.¬†For this week I replaced one meal that we were going to buy ingredients for to a meal from the freezer in an attempt to lower the cost this week. I suppose it helped, but our emphasis on the budget of late has been eye opening when trying to improve the quality of our food.

Anyway, our menu for this week
Monday: Shredded BBQ chicken from the freezer and cooking in the crock pot.
Tuesday: Split pea soup in the crock pot.
Wednesday: Creamy garlic pasta
Thursday: Lasagna from the freezer
Friday: Turkey meatballs with mashed potatoes and vegetable
Saturday: Free, which is either go out or leftovers
Sunday: Fish sticks and veggie rice pilaf

This improved planning has already made the grocery list and shopping less of a chore! The most important part of the planning is variety and convenience. The evenings are so hard to get home from work, make dinner and get the kids to bed. So for Monday through Thursday, I’m trying to have meals that will be done when we get home or have quick prep and cooking time. Depending on circumstances, I’m open to switching meals during the week too, but with how I’ve planned them, I don’t see too much reason to as long as I take things out of the freezer and leave enough time for whatever prep I need to do in the morning. I guess we’ll see!