When I booked our trip to Positano, Italy, I knew that no matter what, we needed to fit in a trip to Capri. Capri is an island that’s about an hour boat ride away from Positano on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is known for having these gorgeous sea caves that are flooded with crystal blue and emerald green water when daylight shines in. Yet despite deciding that we were going to make our way to Capri, I never actually figured out how we were going to get there. After settling into our hotel room in Positano, I jumped on google to try to solidify a day trip to Capri. No luck. The companies on Expedia and Trip Advisor were booked solid. I was worried we may be stuck taking a water taxi. Thankfully, there were three companies that were set up with tents on the beach offering full and half day tours. Surprisingly, the rates were comparable. So we secured a full day trip with this company to Capri for 140 Euro for the two of us.
The fact that I am writing this post means my dream vacation came true–I went to Italy! And you guys, it was everything I dreamed it would be. Breathtaking views. Wine. Pasta. Uninterrupted cuddles with my husband. Kisses without kids tugging on your leg. Ocean waves. Boat rides. Walks on the cobblestone paths. More wine. More kisses. And swimming in the gosh-dang Tyrrhenian Sea. Because that is a thing I’ve done now. The entire vacation was magical. Yes, you should go to Italy.
There are two types of people in this world. Those who wake up and don’t need to eat breakfast. And those who need to eat breakfast immediately. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with me knows that I am in the second camp. Most mornings I wake up starving. Sometimes my stomach is actually growling when I wake. Seriously. Breakfast is my favorite meal, and I do not understand those people who can go until lunch before eating (husband, I am talking about you).
Weekends breakfasts are a favorite in our house. Most mornings, we have a large homemade breakfast. When Matt cooks, that means pancakes. But when I am in charge, it means lox bagels.
It’s spring in Minnesota. So naturally, it snowed over a foot this weekend. It snowed from Friday night until Sunday morning. Nonstop. There are snowdrifts, snow piles, and everything is covered in a thick layer of snow.
If you didn’t have to leave the house, you didn’t. The boys were especially restless by Sunday. While the snow does not typically keep us housebound during the winter, this spring snowstorm was unlike any winter snowstorm. It just would not stop snowing. And given we are a month into spring, you can conclude that all Minnesota drivers have already completely forgotten how to drive in the snow, not to remember how to successfully maneuver over black ice until a solid week into the following December. So we needed a fresh in-house activity for the boys.
So I am finishing up with week four since I embarked on my weight loss journey. Here are some progress photos if you’d like to see.
Ok, so yesterday I came to a realization. I’m chubby. I might even be fat. Ugh, fat. It hurts writing that. As if putting it down in words somehow materializes something that otherwise would not exist. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. My body is squishy regardless if I acknowledge it on this blog.
Now for someone who has seen me since I’ve pushed out my babies, this shouldn’t be news. If anything, confusing on how I have gone for over a year since the birth of my youngest son and I am only now just realizing that I am a chubby girl. But honestly, for the last year I am lived completely oblivious to this reality. My lack of awareness of my own body size is the result of many factors. But really, it can be boiled down to one single truth.
I suffer from a high self-esteem. Much like my mother, I live my life with complete confidence in myself. For the majority of my life, I have been blindly self-assured of who I am as an individual, appearance and all. And frankly, it has served me well. As a whole, I am almost always happy with my life because I am largely confident in my life choices. I’ve gotten job offers, made friends, found stylish clothes that fit. When I was single, I never had an issue getting a date. Overall, if I really wanted it, I would will it to happen.
So after having my baby boys, sure, many of my clothes still didn’t fit. But that didn’t mean I was chubby. My hips have shifted. Or I am not that far off from where I was (oh I am). Because in my head, I wasn’t overweight (oh I am). I was in complete denial.
This isn’t the first time my body imagine has not matched reality. When I went to college, as a quintessential overachiever, I gained 30 pounds.
Yet, I remained as confident as ever. I went through three full years of undergrad before I actually realized that I was chubby and needed to rethink my habits. I won’t forget the day it hit me. I was sitting in a class, talking to a girl who lived in my dorm who was friends with my roommate. She was telling me a story about someone. Or trying to see if I knew someone. That part of the story has faded. But the rest of our conversation, I can close my eyes and find myself sitting in that classroom. There were no desks, and the plastic chairs made a giant circle outlining the room. It was right before class as we made what I had amounted to nothing more than small talk. She began describing this girl she was talking about to me.
“She is a little bit of a bigger girl. You know, like you.”
Those words stung. In that moment, I wanted to cry and run out of the classroom. I replayed her words over and over in my head on my walk back to my room after class. I had to get them out of my head. So I joined Weight Watchers. lost the weight, and got myself down to 128 pounds. I was fit, healthy, and happy.
This time, she hasn’t been around to bring me back to reality. So I am not sure what happened to snap me out of it. But yesterday, I realized that maybe I was a bit farther away from my pre-baby weight than I’d like, and I need to kick it into gear if I want to feel confident in my skin by summer (and more importantly, my Italian vacation with my husband).
So I am embarking on the 8 week total body challenge on the Strive with Megan app. It includes a daily 22-28 minute workout and a meal plan. It’ll be tough. Mostly because Matt loves snacking and I love to be part of the party 😉 But I’ve done it before. So it’ll happen again.
We tried one of the meals from the 8 week meal plan, and it was delicious! I tweaked it a bit to make it our own, including adding rice because otherwise Matt would have claimed there was just not enough food. It was simple to make, and the ingredients are mostly items that you would find in your kitchen on any day. Matt put this on his: make again list.
[ps: I don’t plan to share other variations of the meals from the Strive app but I encourage you to get the app yourself!]
You guys, I did it again. I kept making new recipes, but I didn’t take pictures and so my blog was once again forgotten. Sigh. It doesn’t help that I have a 11-month-old who I love dearly but is only truly happy when he is in my arms. Seriously, guys what do I do?? I come home from work, make dinner, and then spend the next 8 hours trying to get Max to sleep by himself. It is never successful. But sometimes I have free hands. On the weekend. When I ask Matt to hold him.
Since Max is a mama’s boy, it makes it hard for me to get in some one-on-one time with my oldest. JR is only two so he is still very much a baby boy v. a little man. Mama kisses can cure any scrap and bump. He still looks up at me, lifts his arms, and says “Mama, hold.” And like so many mothers before me, I want to delegate as little of my motherly duties as possible because (selfishly) I want to soak in all of their childhood moments to myself.
I came across Baby Boy Bakery month kit, and it was the perfect outlet to allow JR and I to squeeze in a little more quality time together. Each month we receive a toddler-friendly recipe, complete with toddler-sized tools. And for a couple hours, JR and I will get to share my love of cooking. At least that’s the plan.
The first kit we tried out was homemade doughnuts. Of course. Daddy and Maxwell supervised while JR and I mixed, beat, and rolled out dough, cut out little rings, and then deep-fried those puppies. And it was perfect. Nothing monumental happened. It was nothing more than what it was. A mom and her son baking together. But it was one of the best afternoons.
It feels unbelievable but we are already nearing the end of my maternity leave. Next Thursday, I will put on a pencil skirt and blazer and head into the office for the first time in the year 2017. While I cherish my time off, it will be nice to get into a routine and begin navigating life as a working mom of two.
Knowing that my time with my little babies will be severely reduced, I do not want spend what time I have at home cooking complicated recipes. Sure, I do enjoy cooking, and there will be nights where I will look forward to tedious chopping and whisking. But most nights, I want to be able to cuddle my babies until I put them down for bed.
This means that I will need to rely more on the help of others in order to get dinner on the table. And no, I am not talking about ordering take-out, Matt 🙂 So when I stumbled upon this roast beef recipe, I knew it would be making the rounds once I return to work.
What I love most about this roast is how little prep work there is. I can rub the meat before I head off to work, drop it in the dutch oven, and simply ask Matt or our nanny to toss it in the oven 2 hours before dinner. And they basically just have to turn on the oven, turn down the heat of the oven (or turn it off) and that’s it.
And that rub, wow! Matt and I both gushed over how flavorful it was. I liked it so much I have incorporated it into other recipes. The tartness of the mustard with the saltiness of the spices is a perfect combination that compliments beef so well. And while I love that this recipe calls for a cheaper cut of beef, the rub can be used on a nicer cut as well.
We paired our beef with some green beans and sweet potatoes and had a full, well-rounded meal without too much hassle. Both Matt and JR had seconds, which officially places this dish in the “make again” category. Something that will be manageable even during the work week.
Do you have a “go-to” meal when you have guests over for dinner? It use to be that once I sent out the text inviting friends over for dinner, the next thing I would do is panic. What am I going to serve these people? It has to be something relatively easy. After all, I have two kids, both of which would prefer to be held at all times. This certainly complicates cooking. So there cannot be multiple steps and a multitude of ingredients. I need a meal that I can put together in under 10 minutes and that I can step away from without ruining it (so I can pick up a crying baby mid-cooking).
But guests are coming over. So I don’t want the meal to look too simple and plain. I need a meal that has the illusion of fanciness. After several years of searching, I have finally found my go-to meal: meatloaf medallions.
Ok, yes, this is meatloaf. At first glance, meatloaf may seem like it isn’t anything special–possibly even boring. Something your grandmother made that you covered in ketchup. However, meatloaf is relatively simple to make. There isn’t a huge list of uncommon ingredients. There are only a few steps before it is completed and ready to be served. Mix it together and toss it in the oven so you can focus on that messy house you need to clean before guests arrived.
But this isn’t just meatloaf. These are mini, single-serving meatloaves wrapped in bacon and topped with fried onions. Just enough flare to spice up a typical, every day meal to make them worthy of company.
So now when we invite friends over for dinner, there is a good chance this is what we will serve. I am happy to report that we have only received rave reviews thus far.
We all have our own comfort food. Whether its mash potatoes, pasta, or fast food, sometimes you just need a meal to make our day a little better. Jambalaya is ours.
The past week was challenging for our family. Max has hydronephrosis. He was diagnosed in the womb. At our 20 week ultrasound, the technician uttered a phrase you don’t want to hear–“abnormal scan.” Ar this time, the hydronephrosis was present in both of his kidneys, Of course, we had never heard of hydronephrosis. Basically, it meant that Max’s kidneys weren’t developing properly. We were told that 50% of the time, this type of hydronephrosis resolves itself. So a second ultrasound was scheduled for my 28 weeks of pregnancy.
At our second ultrasound, there was good and bad news. Max’s right kidney had resolved itself. It was developing just fine. But his left kidney hadn’t. It was twice the size of the right. It didn’t appear to be working at all. So we went to a specialist. We were told that once Max was a month old, Max would go back for testing to determine the severity of the issue and how to resolve it. If the left kidney was partially working, then it would be worth saving. Otherwise, we would assess whether it would make sense to remove the kidney altogether. For the rest of my pregnancy, there was nothing more to do. Just wait for Max show to up.
Then right on time, our Maxwell was born, happy and wide eyed. We made the one month appointment for Max’s kidney.
And then last week, the one month appointment arrived. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the news we were hoping for. Max’s left kidney hasn’t improved. It is twice the size of what it should be and does not appear to work. Because of this, the doctor recommends surgery to remove the kidney when Max is 5 or 6 months old. The idea of my baby being put under anesthesia makes my heart ache. I can’t imagine handing my baby to a doctor for surgery. It just hurts. So when we came home from the appointment, our family needed some comfort food. We needed to eat this jambalaya.
This recipe for jambalaya is quick and easy. There is low prep work. Just dice a couple of veggies, toss them in a pan, and let it simmer. You can alter the recipe so it can be as spicy or mild as you’d like. So when your heart is aching, you can eat a home cooked meal without too much complication. Plus, the assortment of vegetables makes the meal relatively healthy.
So after Max’s kidney appointment we ate this jambalaya as a family. And while it didn’t make the fact that Max has hydrondphrosis go away, it made us all feel a little bit better, even if it was just for the night.