Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Whole30 experience

First of all, if you don't know what Whole30 is, I recommend you read up on it.
In a nutshell, Whole30 is an elimination diet. For 30 days you cut out dairy, alcohol, sugar (real and artificial), grains, legumes (including peanuts), and soy.
For thirty days, you consume foods that are real, whole, and unprocessed.

This was a game-changer for me. I had moments that I didn't love the whole process. There's a timeline that amazes me with it's accuracy. Especially on the "kill ALL the things" days. But overall, this experience was extremely encouraging and gratifying. I was so proud of myself when I made it through all 30 days. Without cheating even once.

So, here's the thing.
It takes a lot of work: the meal planning, grocery runs, chopping and dicing and cutting and peeling, not to mention the actual cooking. But here's the other thing -the food is delicious! We've found some amazing recipes that I will continue to use. I'll share a few of them with you. In fact, just check out my whole30 board on pinterest for all of the recipes.
Some of our favorite meals:
Hearty Vegetable Soup
Buffalo Chicken Casserole
Shepherd's Pie w/sweet potato topping
Breakfast Pizza Quiche
Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce (I added Chicken)
Whole30 White Chicken Chili
Whole30 Breakfast bowl
Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole (this was probably our all-time favorite breakfast - don't let the picture fool you. It's delish!)

I purchased a spiralizer through this whole process and we have been loving zoodles, curly fries (baked of course) and sweet potato noodles. It's been a fun new way to cook!

We have been finished with Whole30 (officially) since May 4th. I've mostly stuck with it though I've added in some honey on occasion, eaten a few grains here or there, a couple of sweet treats, two or three alcoholic drinks, but overall we've been sticking with it.

My goal is to continue eating this way as much as possible, but not stressing if I want to eat a piece of cake at a wedding or have a popsicle with my kids at the beach. However, I want to be intentional about what I eat and not have multiple treats in one day and eat unhealthily at most meals. It's a balance that I am far from mastering, but that I am striving toward.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Reading Challenge

I started a reading challenge on facebook with some of my mom's friends. Makes me laugh that they're the ones who jumped on the band wagon, but I absolutely love having this group of older women to share and laugh and gain wisdom from.

Here's my list so far...
1) A book published this year - Love Warrior (comes out in August)
2) A book you can finish in a day - The Practice of the Presence of God
3) A book you've been meaning to read - Career of Evil - COMPLETED
4) A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller - All the Light We Cannot See - COMPLETED
5) A book you should have read in school - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - COMPLETED
6) A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling child, or BFF - ??
7) A book published before you were born -
8) A book that was banned at some point - The Perks of Being a Wallflower
9) A book you previously abandoned - I am Malala
10) A book you own but have never read - Radical by David Platt - COMPLETED
11) A book that intimidates you - 7 by Jen Hatmaker
12) A book you've already read at least once - Redeeming Love - COMPLETED

Friday, May 13, 2016

Books I've Read - January-April 2016

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith
This was a good book. So beautifully written. It got slow at times, but I truly enjoyed it. I would recommend it for sure.

A Career of Evil
by Robert Galbraith
Def my fave of the Cormoran Strike novels. This was a great detective novel. A bit more personal with the characters, which I liked. I think that's what made it my favorite. I liked getting to know the main characters even more.

All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
Beautiful. I loved it. The language is exquisite. The story, fascinating. If you love literary fiction please go get this book. If you love World War II stories literary fiction then you'll be in heaven over this book.

Out of Sorts
Sarah Bessey
Y'all. To think that Sarah and Jen Hatmaker are friends makes so much sense. I am so challenged by and incredibly grateful for this book.

Jesus > Religion
by Jefferson Bethke
Read this for my book club. Go read it. It's so true. It is so hard for me lately to love Christians, but I love Jesus and followers of Jesus. It's those folks who call themselves Christians but act nothing like Jesus that are driving me a bit crazy lately.

by Jen Hatmaker
Oh, Jen. Let's be friends. She is amazing. Challenging. Hopeful. Real. This book did not disappoint. And it has certainly caused me to step back and take a look at my life. She's wrecked me all over again. My friend, Crystal, and I are going to start a Bible study together around this book. So excited!

The Lake House
by Kate Morton
Great read! Goes back and forth between early 20th century and 2003, plus it's a detective novel. Kind of like two of my favorite genres put together - a period piece and mystery. I recommend it.

Redeeming Love
by Francine Rivers
I know I've read this book half a dozen times, but I cannot express to you how great it is. I glean something new from it each time I read it. I absolutely love the story, what it's about, and how God loves us enough to allow us to go through pain so we can grow closer to Him. My book club read this for March, so that's why I picked it up again, but I am so glad! It's always a book I recommend so, of course, my book club wanted to read it. It's been a few years since I read it last (before Amelia Jayne was born, I think) and it hits home to me in a new and different way each time, just as it did this time. LOVE. IT.

Radical by David Platt
Whew! This book was intense! Intense because it was so challenging and real. I enjoyed it immensely. I am thankful to have read it and am continuing even now to reflect on it.

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
Nothing has topped Redeeming Love for me as far as Francine Rivers books. This one was good, but it lacked the depth and emotion that RL evokes. I wouldn't say "run out and get this book right now," but I would say that it was worth the read.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Date your kids

I think spending time with each of your children individually is extremely valuable. David and I struggle with even going on dates with each other at times, but we're trying to make that a top priority and along with that, time alone with each of our kids.

In February I took Xander to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He was beyond thrilled to see it and had been waiting for months! David and I made a big deal about it being a date and getting to spend time with just Mommy. David was so sweet to let me have this moment with Xander. He easily could've taken him and Xander would have been equally as excited, but I am so glad that this was a memory that Xander and I get to have.

Sporting his Star Wars hoodie.

So excited!!

On our way!

We parked behind this car which Xander thought had the best bumper sticker ever. 

Paying for our tickets. Such a gentleman. :)

We just had to visit the Lego store while we were in the mall.

He loves making the lego sets come to life!

I couldn't help but sneak a couple of pics during the movie.

While Xander and I were out, David spent time alone with AJ. They went to see The Good Dinosaur and spent some time at the Disney store. :)

This was one of those moments that I just had to document. Since then, we've taken the kids separately to a couple of other things. I took AJ to the Lego convention, I've eaten lunch with Xander a couple of times at school, and I've taken AJ to the park. Possibly a couple of other things that have left my brain. 
Though it can be difficult to make the time during some seasons of life, it's so worth it!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

What my kids are into...


It's a family thing.

This post is a long time coming and we've been into Star Wars for an incredibly long time, but where I thought the interest would wane, we're just getting deeper and deeper into it.

I really cannot tell you how many times we've watched this...

Xander has lego sets, easy readers, chapter books, video games, clothes, figurines, etc. all pertaining to Star Wars. He loves the whole franchise. He even loves watching the remade trailers for the older Star Wars movies. He's in love. He even has his own theories about what will happen in the next movies. (Insert eye roll. But I'm honestly impressed and pretty excited when he geeks out.)

Amelia Jayne, unsurprisingly, is still into TV. She doesn't even really care what it is, she just wants to watch - constantly. I have to set pretty strict boundaries for that one. Her favorite shows right now are Justin Time, The Cat in the Hat, Octonauts, Super Why and Jake & the Neverland Pirates.

Xander, on the other hand, rarely watches TV. He really doesn't have time to watch much TV, but when he does he's more into video games. He loves Minecraft, Mario Kart and Star Wars. But he really only has time to do this on the weekends because of homework and extracurricular activities.

Both kids started their soccer season a couple of weeks ago and are both LOVING it!! Amelia Jayne's team is adorable. She's on the team with one of her best friends. They spend the majority of the game/practice holding hands. The coaches have to separate them sometimes. It's the sweetest thing. Xander's league is much tougher this year. They play actual positions and have strict guidelines. It's perfect for Xander and his rule-following, strategic and statistics-loving personality.

Xander is continuing karate and is now on his 4th belt. I am so proud of him and have loved seeing his improvement, his joy and his dedication. That kid continues to amaze me with what he can do and the amazing attitude he has in everything he takes part in.

Xander is also in Cub Scouts. (I'll probably be writing a separate post about overcommitment - geez!) I don't have much to do with this one since he goes with his daddy each week. Amelia Jayne and I have been to a couple of ceremonies and the Christmas party, but overall this is their thing. David is an Eagle Scout, so he's waaaaaayyyyy more qualified to participate with Xander in this. Plus, he's a boy. :)

Amelia Jayne is finishing up her second year in dance. She has her recital on Saturday! She's enjoyed it and I'm excited for next year when they will be adding a tumbling component. She says she doesn't want to do dance next year, so we'll see what her thoughts are in the fall. I certainly won't push the issue.

Xander is still loving the Mandarin Immersion program. He has flourished in both Chinese and English this year. He's reading English well above grade level and amazes me with what words he can figure out by himself. We're working more on reading comprehension at the moment, but he's even above grade level in that. I've really been impressed with what he's learned and how much he's grown up this school year. David's cousin, Justin, is married to Thea who is from Taiwan. Her first language is Mandarin and she told me a few weeks ago that she is very impressed with what Xander knows and how well his reading, writing and pronunciation is in Mandarin. I was so relieved to hear that! I know his teacher would tell me if he was struggling, but to hear it from a native speaker greatly eased any concerns I have.

We have taught the kids a couple of fun games lately during our Family Game Night - Mexican train (which is a dominoes game) and War are two of their favorites right now.

With all this growing up that my kids have been doing, the thing that they still love most is playing pretend with each other. They make up elaborate scenarios and act them out. Whether it involves a grocery store, pet shop, restaurant or sporting event, they have vivid imaginations. I absolutely love watching them play together.

Both kids will be attending multiple camps this summer, mainly because I need the childcare while I work, but they're super-excited about it. They're both going to karate camp, soccer camp, and some themed weeks at the YMCA. They'll also be going to see their grandparents for one week + we'll spend a couple of weeks at the beach. We're gearing up for a crazy, but exciting summer!