Kids Cook Real Food eCourse Pt. 1

Hello all!

Today I’m excited to share with you all our experiences with cooking real food with the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse! I first discovered this course through The Wellness Mama podcast. (If you haven’t, you should definitely check out her podcast and website. She has some great resources to keep your family happy and most importantly healthy!)

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D was super excited for his first day!

Class 1: Spreading and Peeling Skills

This class was a great review for D! I have been working with him on his spreading skills since he was 2 years old. It was great seeing him improve and learn to spread “Corner to corner, edge to edge!” ๐Ÿ™‚

Each class you are given a grocery list, daily nugget, and flash card. The purpose of the daily nugget and flash card is to have a visual reminder of what you are learning. This is great (especially!) for kiddos that have not learned to read yet.

D is super proud of his spreading skills! (We are too!)

D is super proud of his spreading skills! (We are too!)

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We also practiced spreading on apple slices!

We also learned to peel cucumbers! I’m currently working on ways to have Declan involved in cooking prep so that he can continue to practice and master these skills. One challenge with the smaller “sous chefs” is that their hands are smaller, so it can be difficult for them to apply enough pressure to actually peel/chop. It will get easier though as he gets older and has more strength as well as a sharper knife. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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D cleaning up his cucumber peelings.

Class 2: Dull Knife Skills, Level 1:Beginner

In this lesson, we continued (practicing) holding a (butter) knife properly. We sliced bananas and later made cheese cubes.

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These videos are usually around 10 minutes long and since D’s attention span is very short…I break them up into mini lessons. For example: One day we worked on slicing bananas and the next we worked on cheese cubes. You do what works for you! That’s the great thing about eCourses. You can work at your own pace!

We both are really enjoying this time together and learning new cooking skills. D loves working in the kitchen. ๐Ÿ™‚ So kitchen kid friendly tools will be on our Christmas list this year. The course includes a great list of kitchen utensils and links to where you can find the items that you need/want.

Until next time! What do you think of the eCourse? What are your feelings on allowing your children to help with food prep?

<3 Anna

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Diagnosis: IC…What now?

Hello Friends!

Before you begin reading this post, you may wish to check out this one first! ๐Ÿ™‚ In that post, I discussed signs and symptoms for Interstitial Cystitis (IC) and how to get a diagnosis. Today I want to share with you all some wonderful resources to help if you are at the beginning of your IC journey. (I’m far from a veteran. I was diagnosed back in February and had symptoms begin in 2012.)

4 Great Resources

Once you are diagnosed, you will be bombarded with tons of information. It’s hard to sort thorough it, but below are a few resources that have been absolutely vital in keeping me positive on this journey. Check it out! It’s good to remember that knowledge is power. The more you know, the better you can cope!

IC Network and Shop

This website has tons of information and is a wonderful support for those suffering from IC and other similar conditions. The IC shop has a variety of helpful items. I’ve bought medical alert cards, special IC friendly candies, and more!

IC Optimist

This is a super informative quarterly magazine that is jam packed with the latest research, recipes and more! You can learn more about the magazine on The IC Network website.

ICN Food List

This app is so great! I can search a food and see which list it is on. There are three lists: Bladder Friendly Foods, Foods Worth Trying Cautiously, and Foods to Avoid. It especially helps when eating out! It’s nearly impossible to think of every ingredient and whether it’s safe off the top of my head. This makes things so much easier! I will say that it does not have every food on it, but it’s fairly close.

Nikki Cooks for IC

This is a wonderful blog for IC friendly recipes. She hasn’t updated since January 2015, but the recipes that are there are very tasty! I love the IC Friendly Nachos, salsa, and White Chocolate Brownies. Yum!

I hope that this list was helpful! Does anyone have any other websites or resources that they would add to the list?

<3 Anna

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UnStuffed Book Review

Hello Friends!

Last month, I read Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul.ย It was a fantastic read and a real game changer in our household. I’m on a mission to get rid of the clutter and live a more simple life. No one needs to live a life drowning in clutter and that’s why I’m learning to take steps each day towards, what I believe to be a worthy goal for everyone. <3

unstuffed

This book has three sections and begins with discussing reducing clutter in your home. Here’s my thoughts on the HOME section:

Ruth suggests using “small wins” to build your confidence.

In this example, she share 5 project zones that you can begin today to work towards your decluttering goals. (Project one encourages you to create a collection zone to collect miscellaneous items throughout the day. Give yourself time to put everything in its place!)

She shares 10 tidy habits that will change your life.

These habits have really helped me to feel better about my home! These tips alone—make this book worth the purchase! (Plus there is always the library! ;)) The tips range from making your bed to bringing your inbox to zero. They are easy and can be accomplished quickly, but will make such a big difference in how you see your living spaces!

She discusses how to FREE yourself from clutter.ย 

FREE stands for F-Fight to stop the flow, R-Reduce by Ruthlessly Purging, E-Establish Strict Limits, E-Emphasize Quality over Quantity. She explains each of these letters thoroughly.

The UnStuffed Weekend Challenge!

One of the most beneficial items from the book was the UnStuffed Weekend Challenge. This challenge really got me in gear! I’m happy to say that I was able to go through our clothes and D’s toys and get rid of so much clutter, but there is plenty of work to be done! The idea of the UnStuffed Weekend Challenge is to take a weekend to focus all of your energy on decluttering. It’s pretty intense, but you can accomplish so much in this time!

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5 boxes reduced down to 2 small boxes! I’m hoping this will help D not to feel so overwhelmed by toys. Plus we are prepared for the influx of bday and Christmas toys. ๐Ÿ˜Š AND books are actually on the shelves!!!

Ruth also shares how to approach decluttering toys with kids of various ages and how to fight the commercialism bug that seems to bite at such a young age! She encourages setting limits early on. This will set a precedence throughout your child/children’s lives. <3

PART 2: MIND

Not only is it important to keep a clutter free home, but also a clutter free mind!

Ruth shares questions that you can ask yourself to see if you are over committed.

She encourages learning to say no and discovering your own personal balance.ย (This includes giving yourself a much needed day off.)

She gives tips on how to create a schedule that works for you and your family.ย 

She shares some helpful tips for paper clutter.ย This is one of my great enemies!

She also talks about the very difficult part of having memories attached to items and how to deal with family member’s possessions.

Part 3: SOUL

I love how Ruth breaks this book up into three parts and chooses to discuss friendships in a book about decluttering. I’m sure most people wouldn’t think of tackling such a topic in this genre, but I’m so very glad she did!

Ruth shares what a healthy relationship looks like.ย 

I find this very helpful because I have found myself in some very toxic relationships and I myself have been a toxic friend. (Hurting people hurt people. This sadly is so true, but the story doesn’t have to end that way!)

She also shares what toxic friendships look like.

She encourages eliminating superficiality and toxic relationships.ย 

She shares how to set boundaries and how to cultivate meaningful relationships.ย 

She also shares a chapter about personal well being and spiritual well being.ย 

There is so much more that I could say on this book, but I will let you all see for yourselves! I would definitely give this book 5 *’s! Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think!

<3 Anna

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Declan’s Favorites (July)

Hello all!

I can’t believe the last favorites post for D was written in February?! It has been too long! I was reading over it and D doesn’t even watch Ninja Turtles (animated cartoon) anymore. (We sadly had to take that away from him because he was becoming too violent and hitting everyone and everything. Not cool!) So what’s new?

Declan's

1) ABC Mouse

This is a membership that I’m glad we are budgeting for. Declan loves it and he is learning and improving every day. He has an hour per day to work on moving along the learning path and that’s an hour well spent!

2) Mommy’s helper

D loves helping me with chores. It’s nice, but it does have its drawbacks. He only wants to help when he wants to help and he only wants to help with the chores he chooses. Yeah, the fourth year is going to be fun. I can tell! ๐Ÿ˜‰

3) Jake and the Neverland Pirates

D loves pretending to be Captain Hook. “You did it! You got 3 gold doubloons, Let’s grab them and go!” Can be heard often in our household.

4) Thomas and Friends

This has been the longest favorite of his. Since we haven’t had a Thomas party yet, (I know hard to believe!) The plan is to have a Thomas party for his fourth birthday. ๐Ÿ™‚

That’s all for this month! What are your kiddo(s) loving this month?

<3 Anna

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Do I have Interstitial Cystitis?

Hello everyone!

Ever since my diagnosis, it has been my desire to raise awareness for Interstitial Cystitis. This disease is incredibly difficult to diagnose. (It can take years! It was around 2 1/2 years for me.) If I can help educate and raise awareness, maybe I can make someone else’s diagnosis process easier!ย Today, I will share the signs, symptoms, and how you can seek a diagnosis.

Do I have Interstitial Cystitis-

Signs and Symptoms

Looking back, I can recognize signs/symptoms of IC around Declan’s second birthday. I noticed that I was struggling to urinate and I was having to go more often. Just before Christmas that year, I was diagnosed with a UTI. (Interstitial Cystitis is often misdiagnosed as a Urinary tract infection. Unfortunately, overuse of antibiotics only weakens your immune system and you become vulnerable to chronic illnesses, such as IC.)

The tell-tale signs/symptoms of IC are: (My additional comments in bold.)

Bladder pressure and pain as your bladder fills up.ย (You feel amazing relief after you pee, but it is very short lived. Read on to see why. :/)

Pain in your lower stomach, lower back, pelvis, or urethra.ย (Yes, to all of the above. My back pain is super present most of the time.)

For women-Pain in the vulva, vagina, or area behind vagina.ย 

For men-Pain the scrotum, testicles, penis, or the area behind the scrotum.

The need to pee often! (More than the typical 7-8 times daily!)ย (Yep, I’m thankful that cutting off fluids by 6pm has helped me tremendously!)

The feeling that you need to go right now, even though you just went.ย (This is so horribly unfair, but spot on.)

For women-Pain during sex.

For men-Pain during orgasm or after sex.

Are you experiencing any of these symptoms?

Please be sure to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician/gynecologist. They can help you rule out other possible causes: Urinary Tract Infection, Kidney Stones, etc.

So your doctor suspects Interstitial Cystitis, what now?

There are a few options that you should discuss with your doctor. (I had a potassium test done for my diagnosis and I wouldn’t recommend that route to anyone.) I say this because now I’m in the process of trying to schedule a cystoscopy with hydrodistention. I would recommend a cystoscopy because it will give you a complete picture of how bad your IC is and the best courses of treatment. It’s easy to feel intimidated and exhausted when you are seeking a diagnosis, but don’t let anyone talk you into doing something you do not want to do or do not believe is best in the long run.

If you found this post to be helpful, please share! I want this post to get to as many people as possible. I would love to keep others from having to wait years for a diagnosis.

<3 Anna

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The Marble Jar

Hello all!

We recently decided to implement this marble jar system.ย We want to teach Declan good behaviors and positive habits, as well as how to manage money early on. This seemed to be the perfect way to do just that!

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D’s marble jar! (The N sticker has rubbed off a little. :/)

What you will need to make your own marble jar:

A mason jar per child.

Letter stickers

marbles

How we use the jars?

Declan is rewarded marbles for good behavior. He does not lose marbles for bad behavior. (We decided that it would be best to make this separate. We have other punishments established for bad behavior.) For us, the marble jar is all about rewarding the good. I find this idea has really helped me too, because it can be so easy to focus in on the bad behavior and not acknowledge the good. This has really encouraged D to be more helpful and I love watching his wonderful heart grow!

On Friday, Declan can cash in his marbles for money. He receives .25 per marble. He then can use this money while we are out. As we go along, we will teach him how to save his money earned for bigger items that he may want to purchase.

What do you think of the marble system? Let me know if you give it a try. I would love to hear about your experiences!

<3 Anna

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30 Reflections

Hello Friends!

Each year, I take the time to write a post about what I’ve learned and reflected on leading up to my birthday. This year should be fun because I have 30 spots to fill. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hang in there! (In no particular order as years previous!)

1. Anxiety sucks.

Okay, I already knew this, but hear me out. I’m currently (working on) facing one of my biggest fears. It is stretching me and maxing me out to levels that I didn’t think possible. This isn’t even the worst part. The worst part was realizing that once I face this anxiety head on—that there would just be a fresh new one creeping in slowly and then enveloping me in its chocking embrace. This realization was so defeating. Thankfully, #2 came along in the wise words of my therapist.

2. “If it is any comfort to you, You deal with one anxiety the same as you deal with the others.”

My therapist will never know how these words have been like a life preserver for me. I feel so much hope now. Here I was thinking that I would have to learn new coping skills per anxiety. It was crushing me. Even with God on my side, I still felt so overwhelmed. Just having this head to heart knowledge…It has been a game changer for me. I’m excited for my future. I’m excited for my NOW!

3. Chronic Illness is incredibly isolating.

I never realized how isolating it was to deal with a chronic illness until I was diagnosed with one myself. February was a month of change for me. I finally had a diagnosis. INTERSTITIAL CYSTITIS. I thought knowing would give me comfort and it did a little. It helped me to know that I wasn’t crazy. There was something very wrong. Unfortunately, most people do not understand chronic illnesses. They have expectations that are far too high for me to reach at this point in my life. I’m learning that most people mean well, but they just won’t fully understand and that’s a good thing. Chronic illness is not something that you would want to wish on others. I have joined support groups online, I’m going to therapy, and I have family and friends that I can lean on in the hard times. A support system is vital.

4. You can give up things that you once loved if it means that you won’t have to endure excruciating pain.

I loved coffee. I loved lemonade and anything lemon. I loved tacos. I loved marinara sauce. I loved an occasional glass of wine. What do all of these things have in common? These are things that I can no longer consume due to IC. At one point in my life, I thought I couldn’t live without coffee. BUT I sooooo can. You can do a lot of things when you don’t have a choice.

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5. Real friends are there. They may not text/call you every day, but they are there.ย 

The truth is that you can probably count your real friends on one hand. It’s a small, select group of people. It gets easier each year to discern the real friendships from the not-so-real.

6.ย Acquaintancesย are also great.

Sometimes its nice to just talk to someone about surface level stuff. As long as both parties are happy with this set up, it’s all good.

7. Aches and pains…ya’ll.

I know some of this is due to IC, but the back pain really?! Tiger balm is my love.

8. I have plenty of time to have a career or other things outside of my child.

I don’t feel as worried about being in an awesome career right now. I’m happy to write this blog and raise my son. What would I be doing if I weren’t doing this? Honestly, I would probably be taking care of someone else’s kids or working as a caretaker in a retirement home. I enjoy caring for others. It fuels me. I also love to encourage and uplift. These things give me life. <3

9. I will not fuel the mommy wars.ย 

I won’t. I’m not going to comment on SAHMS vs. Working Moms, bottle fed vs. breastfed, etc. We need to encourage and uplift all moms. PERIOD.

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10. There are some matters that I can’t stay neutral on.

This year was a big year for me as far as speaking out on some very important issues in our world. “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”-Elie Wiesel

11. I’m more comfortable in my own skin.

You would think after 30 years this would be true and I guess it is. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I still have negative self talk, but I think I’ve come a long way!

12. I’ll always be an introvert at heart and that’s okay.

It’s rare that I have a moment completely to myself. (Thank you, Motherhood! ;)) BUT those brief moments when I do….recharge! Solitude is fleeting in this stage of my life, but I’m learning to make use of the time that I get.

13. We need to look at our own homes to be the change that we want to see in our world.

It starts at home. We have to work towards building a better world for our children. We have to invest in our kiddo(s) in order for that to happen.

14. Sleep is more important than a lot of things.

Our bodies need time to recharge. It’s very, very, very important. We are constantly on GO! We need to be getting all the z’s we can. You will thank me later for this one! ๐Ÿ˜‰

15. What we put into our bodies matters. A LOT!

I truly believe this is part of the reason that I have IC. If only…I could go back and tell my early twenties Anna to stop eating like a teenager. We need to eat and drink to fuel our bodies—not to celebrate. (Insert other instances/emotions as you see fit.)

16. Budgets are a necessary evil.

No one wants to discuss a budget, but budgets make the world go round. It’s good to know how much money you have at any given time and where your money is going. This is how you can sleep soundly at night.

17. Facebook Fantasy Reel/Keeping up with the Jones’

This is a real thing and it will only lead to the green eyed monster. People usually post the good on their social media. No one knows how hard Becky had to work to lose 20lbs. or how much time Lance had to work to afford that dream vacation. Let’s be happy for our FB friends and not let the green eyed monster rain on our own parade.

18. Unplug!

I did this for my birthday weekend and I’ve decided to continue it on the weekends so I can enjoy quality time with my family and not lose focus on what really matters. <3

19. My to-read list is forever and I’ll probably never read every book.

I’m okay with this. It’s like having the challenge set before me is enough for me now. I think motherhood has added to my cherishing the time I get to read.

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20. Little changes over time are much better than doing nothing at all.

It has been a long journey getting together all the supplies we need for various projects with our home. Small changes still make a big difference! Small changes make a big difference over time.

21. I do what I want!

If I want to run around at 30 years old and catch Pokemon, I do it! No shame in being who I am.

22. People can change.

People can change for the better and they can also change for the worse. Be willing to accept both of these. They will save you from a lot of heartache or at least make the heartache a little easier to bear.

23. Some days are just plain lousy.

Sometimes it’s okay to let yourself wallow a little. You may need a few minutes, hours, a day. ย After a day, its best to put one foot in front of the other and do something. Anything! One productive action can make all the difference.

24. You are never too old to learn something new.

I love watching Declan learn something new. It reminds me that I have that ability in me always. We can (always) keep our minds and hearts open to new knowledge. Being a life time learner is an awesome goal to strive for!

25. Don’t be afraid of change.

I have fought against the current of change most of my life. Change has always been difficult for me. The truth is, If I had only accepted that change was inevitable, I would have been a much happier person. I could have embraced the change and made the most of it. This is something I’m working on now. <3

26. Start your day with God.

I can very easily tell the difference between a day I start with God and a day that I skip that time due to waking up late. You only need a few minutes. Recently, D has been waking up around 5ish with Daddy. (UGH!) This means that I don’t have much time in the morning to have a lengthy devotional. I take the time that I’m given and read Jesus Calling, pray, and write in my journal. See? It is all about quality not quantity.

27. Accept help!

This could be as small as accepting a wipe from another mom or as big as setting up your first appointment with a therapist to do some work on your mental health. It’s okay to offer and accept help. It’s nice to be the one offering help, but accepting help is just as important. You can’t help others if you are feeling empty inside!

28. It’s okay to need more time to make a decision.

I’m a recovering people pleaser and I (often) remind myself that I don’t have to give an immediate yes and I also reserve the right to say no.

29. I almost made it to 30 without thinking too hard. ๐Ÿ˜‰

30. If you made it this far, you rock!

I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read my thoughts and I only hope that the words that I share can encourage and help others. <3

<3 Anna

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Big 3-0!

Hello Friends!

Yes, I turned 30 on Sunday. I can hardly believe it myself! Time really flies and I feel like it has only gotten faster since giving birth. (D will be 4 in September! :’)) I have to say that my 30th birthday was the best one yet! I can only hope that this is a good sign for how my 30th year will go. ๐Ÿ™‚

My wonderful husband surprised me with a trip to Riverbank Zoo on Saturday and an overnight stay at the Hilton Garden Inn. I’ve been wanting to take D to the Riverbank Zoo for the longest time! I have such fond childhood memories there and wanted to make new memories with him. The hotel was lovely and I was able to cross “Ordering Room Service” off of my bucket list. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Riding the train at Riverbank Zoo.

Riding the train at Riverbank Zoo.

I'll never forget D's giggles while trying to feed the giraffe.

I’ll never forget D’s giggles while trying to feed the giraffe.

D grabbing the elephant by his tail. ;)

D grabbing the elephant by his tail. ;)

I love this boy! <3

I love this boy! <3

Watching the sea lions swimming.

Watching the sea lions swimming.

My boys! <3

My boys! <3

Look who I found in our hotel room.

Look who I found in our hotel room.

Training him up right! ;)

Training him up right! ;)

Room Service? Yes, please! This apple pie was amazing! It was made with a shortbread crust.

Room Service? Yes, please! This apple pie was amazing! It was made with a shortbread crust.

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John’s dessert

My birthday, we woke early to check out from the hotel. John had one last surprise for me! We had a tasty breakfast at Cracker Barrel and continued on the road.

I think 30 looks good on me. What do you think? ;)

I think 30 looks good on me. What do you think? ;)

D with his turtle Cinderella. If you want to learn the whole story of this tiny turtle, Check out my IG feed.

D with his turtle Cinderella. If you want to learn the whole story of this tiny turtle, Check out my IG feed.

Breakfast at Cracker Barrel and I caught a Rattata. ;)

Breakfast at Cracker Barrel and I caught a Rattata. ;)

My hubby is the best! <3

My hubby is the best! <3

We had reservations at Carson’s Steak and Warehouse, where we met up with my mom, sisters, brother in law, niece, nephew, and besties. It was such an awesome surprise! It was so great seeing everyone. <3

Reunited with his best friend! <3

Reunited with his best friend! <3

My love! <3

My love! <3

My sister, Kayla, me, and my niece, Miya. <3

My sister, Kayla, me, and my niece, Miya. <3

Sweet kiddos playing!

Sweet kiddos playing!

My sister, Brandi and me

My sister, Brandi and me

My mom and me

My mom and me

Me, my sister-Jessica, my nephew-Karson, and my brother-in-law-Tyler.

Me, my sister-Jessica, my nephew-Karson, and my brother-in-law-Tyler.

John, Me, D, Stephanie, Charlie, Daniel, and Lucas...Our besties!

John, Me, D, Stephanie, Charlie, Daniel, and Lucas…Our besties!

After lunch, we let the children play and we talked for a bit outside. This didn’t last long because the heat was intense! So the boys and I headed to Books A Million to browse and I found a new journal and bookmark. We also got some birthday goodies.

A great way to cool off!

A great way to cool off!

My cupcake frappe

My cupcake frappe

<3

<3

I couldn’t ask for a better birthday! I’m looking forward to seeing what else 30 has in store for me!

How do you celebrate birthdays? Milestone birthdays?

<3 Anna

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Monthly Menu Plan (July)

Hello everyone!

I haven’t shared or worked on a monthly menu plan since January. What a shame! I really enjoyed having my month already planned out. It made things so much easier! For the month of July, I decided to get back to it and hopefully will stick with it.

I think that now that I have my diet (mostly) sorted out, it will be easier. It seems that a diet that is gluten free (when possible!) and bladder friendly works best for me. I’ve tried to go dairy free, but it just doesn’t work for me. I am remaining mindful of how much I eat because I don’t want to have issues. Excess cheese is not good for me! (We definitely eat less cheese than pre-Whole 30 and don’t feel we need cheese in every meal. Thank goodness!)

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Below is our July Menu plan:

Blue-Recipe links, Green-self explanatory

Friday, July 8: Shepherd’s Pie (Recipe found in Whole 30 cookbook) You can find them here!

Saturday, July 9: Dinner Out!

Sunday, July 10: Dinner Out! (My BIG 3-0! ๐Ÿ˜‰ :’))

Monday, July 11: Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

Tuesday, July 12: Tacos

Wednesday, July 13: Paleo Chicken Tenders

Thursday, July 14: Sandwiches

Friday, July 15: Roast

Saturday, July 16: Burgers (Cookout, weather permitting!)

Sunday, July 17: Sweet Potato Broccoli Bake

Monday, July 18: Cheeseburger Pie (Recipe found in Trim Healthy Mama cookbook. You can find one here!)

Tuesday, July 19: Chicken Chili

Wednesday, July 20: Shepherd’s Pie

Thursday, July 21: Stir fry

Friday, July 22: Paleo Chicken Tenders

Saturday, July 23: Roasted Red Pepper Spaghetti sauce with Zucchini Noodles

Sunday, July 24: Breakfast for dinner

Monday, July 25: Maple Salmon

Tuesday, July 26: Chicken Spinach Enchiladas

Wednesday, July 27: Paleo Meatloaf

Thursday, July 28: Paleo Egg Roll in a Bowl

Friday, July 29: Philly Cheese Steak Stuffed Peppers

Saturday, July 30: Low Carb Mozzarella Meatballs

Sunday, July 31: Shepherd’s Pie

Do you meal plan? What’s on your menu this month?

<3 Anna

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Fourth of July Weekend!

Hello all!

Before I share all of our Fourth of July fun, I want to take a moment and reflect on the past few days. So much has happened in our country. So many hearts are broken. I would just like to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the families of ALL who have lost their lives. As a mother, I can’t even imagine losing my child. (I will share more on this in my birthday thoughts….explanation, etc. to come later!)

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D’s first camping trip!

So our original plan was to camp on the parkway Friday-Monday of the Fourth of July Weekend, but the forecast had other plans. We quickly realized that the only good day to camp would be Friday, so we did! ๐Ÿ™‚ Declan has only camped in the backyard once, to say things were interesting would be an understatement! Declan was super excited and LOUD. We still need to work on indoor/socially appropriate voices. Despite this, Declan wasn’t the biggest bug in our trip. Sophie, (who never gives us trouble) barked every. time. a person went to the bathroom or she saw headlights as people would be coming in and out of the camp. No surprise, Mommy and Daddy did NOT get much sleep. It was a fun experience, but based on my back pain and Declan and Sophie (being themselves!) I think camping just one night was for the best.

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You can’t go camping without smores!

The next morning, we woke with the sun and got the car packed up to head home. We stopped at Waffle House for breakfast. D was able to practice his spreading skills from the super cool kids cooking eCourse that we had recently started. (More on that later!) He was thrilled to show Daddy that he could spread the butter on his waffle all by himself. ๐Ÿ™‚ We unpacked our things and did a quick tidy of the house/took turns getting showers. My dear friend, Whit, was on her way! (Whit and I met in high school and her mom taught my English class.)

Declan met Whit after he was born, but he didn’t remember it. This was like a first meeting for him and he exclaimed, “The neighbor can’t live here.” ๐Ÿ˜‰ He is too funny and so clever. Everyone got a good laugh out of that. Whit came bearing gifts. This was even more brownie points with D. He received a new Thomas book and two new train cars that contained an octopus (D calls it a jellyfish) and a shark.

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The BEST gift! Whit know that I love Peanuts and John and I dressed as Linus and Sally one year for Halloween.

We all chatted for a bit and it was great catching up on things. It felt like a very timely visit because I was diagnosed with a chronic illness back in February and Whit (sadly!) has a lot of experience with that. She understands flares and dealing with it all in general. I was thankful to talk with someone who gets it. We also watched The Sandlot. (Whit had never watched it before and we had to remedy that.) We enjoyed a tasty cookout, thanks to my dear husband! And also smores because smores! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I tried some gluten free graham crackers that were pretty tasty. Yay! It was a fun and relaxing evening. <3

The next day, we had breakfast and everyone got ready to head to Little Switzerland. It’s this tiny town on the Blue Ridge Parkway (NC) and it’s the best! We had lunch at the Switzerland Cafe and ordered a tasty cheese platter, lunch, and everyone got their own goodies for dessert.

D eating a hotdog with a fork. This is how you eat a hotdog! ;)

D eating a hotdog with a fork. This is how you eat a hotdog! ;)

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My apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

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D wanted his picture taken. :)

We were so FULL! Everything was delicious. After lunch, we walked around the tiny general store and then wandered the book store next door. (One of my favorite spots!) They now offer frozen yogurt. (Good to know!;)) We grabbed coffee and a salted caramel frappe (no caffeine for me!) and explored. Once we finished up there, we headed to Blowing Rock (Our second time seeing it and Whit’s first.)

My little adventurer.

My little adventurer.

My guys <3

My guys <3

Gorgeous view!

Gorgeous view!

Me trying to take a selfie with my T-Rex arms. #shortarmproblems

Me trying to take a selfie with my T-Rex arms. #shortarmproblems

We ended the day at a roadside stand. We grabbed more goodies for the road and parted ways. I’m so glad that Whit came for a visit and I look forward to seeing her soon. ( Hopefully, sooner rather than later!)

Our Fourth of July was like the lowest key Fourth of July ever! We opted out of going to the parade due to the weather. John went to Walmart to pick up D’s play set. (Birthday gift from us and the grands…Note: Due to weather it still isn’t up.) We enjoyed Pork Chops with Apples for dinner. (The closest thing to BBQ that I can eat.) It was a good day though. I’m thankful for a low-key day after adventuring. It was nice.

How was your Fourth of July? Do you have any special traditions?

<3 Anna

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