Sunday, April 27, 2014

About the Hello Kitty band-its and other 3 year old things

Yeah I said BAND-ITS.
That's the way Julianna says Band-aids. I love it. (Well, sort of!)
The child is obsessed with Band-Aids. Not just any old band-aids; she is obsessed with Hello Kitty "Band-Its". She will be sitting watching a TV show and will look at us to make sure we are looking at her, and out of nowhere, say "Ouch my finger hurts. I need a band-it! Owwww".

Then she will do her best academy award nomination acting to show me how much her imaginary boo-boo hurts. She will whine & say OUCH over and over until we say OK you can go get a band aid. And then she hops up and sprints to the bathroom cabinet. She must then pick her own Hello Kitty band-aid out (we are not allowed to pick on out for her or a meltdown will ensue!). She takes it apart and puts it on whatever finger she determines is the 'injured' finger at that moment in time. At first we questioned each injury - but now we just know it's band-it time.
You know that saying, "Choose your battles". Well that applies 100% here. It's just not worth the 20 minute meltdown and crying if we say 'no' to a band-it. Sometimes she walks around with 5 band-its on. Fingers, knees, elbow, leg, toes... pretty much anywhere a band-it will stick! I know I can't be alone, can I? Other 3 year olds go through this stage right? There are bigger & better things to worry about in the scheme of life, so this is not something I let bother me too much. I should probably own stock in Hello Kitty band-aids. Really.

See the band-it?

Julianna has so many other quirky little cute & adorable things she does. She is so particular as to what things need to be done a certain way and if it's not to her approval, she melts down. When she eats something (snack or small meal sometimes) in the living room, she NEEDS her "Sticker Tray" to eat off of. That's her tray with the random stickers she has covered it with. No sticker tray = Meltdown. If a specific pair of {Hello Kitty} underwear or socks are not clean, guess what that equals... yup, a Meltdown. No chicken nuggets in the house when she wants them NOW? Yup another meltdown. If we mistakenly pick out her fork for her at dinnertime and don't give her time to pick her OWN fork; that's a meltdown. Apparently it must be a specific fork for that night! No ordinary fork will do, especially one that mom or dad pick out.

Bubble container empty? Meltdown.
Not allowed to play with play-dough 2 minutes before dinner? Full blown Meltdown.
The PJ's she wants to wear that night for bedtime in the laundry? Meltdown deluxe squared.

What is it with 3 year olds? And I thought 2 year olds were difficult. No one warned me about 3 years! What the heck?? And the added drama of throwing herself on the floor as part of the meltdown, actually makes me laugh sometimes so much that I need to turn my head so she can't see me laughing while her world is ending over the wrong color sippy cup. Meltdowns. Meltdowns. Meltdowns. It's par for the course with a 3 year old. Her 4th birthday can't come soon enough. I heard a rumor this crap evens out then.

I thought I was really alone and no one else's child could possibly behave this way. Well, I was wrong again. I am still learning new lessons in this every day {ever changing} schooling of being a mom. Sheesh!

I went to Julianna's school to help out with her Christmas party back in December and had an HUGE "Ah-Ha" moment. All the other kids in her preschool class behaved JUST LIKE HER. It was mass-chaos. All the kids were wild, whining and crazy just like her. None of the kids were listening to the teacher and in their own little worlds, just like her. It hit me that I am not alone. All the moms of these kids go through the same daily battles that I do.

I chalk this all up to being a preschooler. Three years old is a tough age. Four can't come soon enough, however I'm sure age four brings a whole new set of challenges that no one warns you about! You can never be sure from day to day (minute to minute) how a preschooler will behave. One thing I am pretty sure about... We will be buying enough Hello Kitty Band-its during Julianna's childhood to cover an entire New York City block.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A brief trip South

A few weeks ago, we took a quick trip down to the Charleston, South Carolina area to visit my inlaws. It was very nice to see my husband's family and spend some time with them. It was also so nice to be in the warm sun and hit the reset button on the winter-blues.

Julianna loves the beach. She hugged us all and thanked us for bringing her to the beach! 
This girl takes after us 100% with loving the warm outdoor weather. 

Collecting shells 

Rare family shot! Too bad Tyler was facing the other way! 

Daddy & Tyler selfie! 

She thought nothing of sitting right on the wet sand and digging in! 

More shell collecting. 

Tyler was touching the sand and deciding if he liked it. 
He then tried to put it in his mouth... and mama picked him right up and he was done with the sand after 6 seconds! 

Me & my little boy! 
A rare shot of me ... for those that ask :) 

He did not like the sand on his feet - I put him down and he lifted them right out of the wet stuff! 

Walking the beach. 

Running.... running... running! So much fun! 

We went to a local festival and Tyler fell asleep in Daddy's arms (in the pack!) 

Ooh I forgot to resize this one - Daddy & Julianna browsing the festival. 

Julianna discovered Sidewalk chalk. 
Too bad we don't have sidewalks here; she really had a blast with this! 

Hop-scotch on the driveway, with baby giraffe in hand! 

She also discovered the soccer ball! She wanted to play all weekend! 
Guess we'll get her one for her birthday next month! She'll be so happy. 

We had a great time, but it was a long drive there and back - 16 hours each way, with many many stops. I think we will fly next time!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Favorite recipes

Here are some of my absolute favorite recipes lately since we've started eating a lot 'healthier'.
Eating real {organic}food & healthy doesn't mean you have to give up taste. Go here to see what changes we've made as a family to our lives due to food!  Click Here to read about the small changes I've made lately that are making a big difference.

  • This Chicken Piccata is to die for. I am a huge fan of Piccata anything, but not a fan of the fattening sauce and calories that go with it. I decided to try this recipe half-heartedly because I thought it couldn't possibly be as good as the real thing that I used to make with 8 tbsp of butter and 4 tbsp of olive oil!  Well I was wrong. It was incredible. p.s. this website has some incredible recipes! 
  • I never made or tasted vegetable tacos until I tried this delicious recipe for Roasted Vegetable & Black Bean Tacos. Holy cow these are seriously incredible - and the taste is amazing! I can not say it enough how incredible these are! Try them out. I promise you will love them.
  • If you like buffalo chicken anything - but not the fattening sauce & wings, then you can try this recipe. It is seriously incredible. My husband, who loves buffalo wings, fell in love with these healthy Buffalo Chicken Lettuce wraps. No kidding! Check it out - and you make it in the crock pot, even better! 
  • I have started making my own salad dressings lately. I love Blue cheese and blue cheese dressing. I found this recipe for incredible Blue cheese dressing when I made the above Chicken wraps. Holy moly it is so tasty, creamy and blue-cheesy... and not super artery clogging either! Love it. 
  • We've been trying to eat more fish lately. I found this incredibly healthy & fresh recipe for Flounder Milanese. The arugula & lemon mix makes this recipe. This is the first recipe I used my home made breadcrumbs on. Yum. Make it for your next fish recipe. My husband loved this one too. Well, he likes anything I make! 
  • We've been trying to eat more vegetables as part of our daily regimen. Luckily Brian and I both love salad, so we've been having big salads for dinner at least once a week. This Avocado Strawberry Spinach salad is so full of taste, flavor and color! We put a big star by it for meals to bring on the boat this summer! Oh and the poppyseed dressing is incredible. I make this for my regular lunch salads because it is so good. This is a keeper! 
  • I like rice. Yup I do. Fried rice is even better... but let's face it, fried rice is.... just that- Fried. Not healthy. Well.... guess what. I found this super duper (healthy) Fried Rice recipe that I could just eat every single night. The smell of it cooking alone sold me! Try it - you won't regret it. 

p.s. I am down 25 pounds ... from eating just 'real' food. No low-fat, fat-free, fake sugar, or processed stuff. 

Can you share some favorite recipes or healthy websites you frequent? 
I would love to try some new ones!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Small changes

Before I start this post, I would like to add something about the post I wrote earlier this week; 10 things I've learned in the first year of raising a baby with a CHD. One of the absolute most obvious thing I totally forgot to write was the friendships I have made in the past year with other CHD parents. The compassion and caring in the CHD community is just incredibly beautiful. I have made some close friends and talked to so many other moms in our same situation. We all support each other - there is no room for hate, negativity, jealousy or gossip. It's just pure honesty, emotions, & sharing. What a great bunch of moms I have met locally through my support group and online through my Facebook CHD and TAPVR groups. Simply amazing. 

Here is my original post for today about SMALL CHANGES:

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that our family is undergoing a big change towards our goal of 100% healthy living. (Go here to see that post). It's a process that can't happen overnight (I feel) and needs to be transitioned over slowly, which we've been doing. I find myself focusing on a few foods, recipes & ideas each week to substitute or changeover to. For instance, we are trying to cut out most or all processed foods. Due to the fact we don't live near a Whole Foods store and our Shop-Rite (food store) severely lacks in the organic and healthy department, we can't really cut out 100%, but I sure want to try! There are many reasons for switching our lifestyle, none of which I will get into right now (again) because everyone has their own causes, and I don't want to turn into a preacher. Everyone does what they do for their own reasons. We have ours.

So, one of the things I am really focusing on when buying store-bought (premade) food is the "5 ingredient or less" rule. Reality is, we do have a busy life; my husband and I work, and we have 2 kids. We do need some quick snack alternatives - so this is where the '5 ingredient rule' is going to come into play for us, when purchasing things from the food store. When anything has 5 ingredients or less, it usually is free of artificial junk, sugars, preservatives and chemicals. This past week, I was trying to find some breadcrumbs at the store that met this requirement. I couldn't even come close.
Every can of crumbs had loads & loads of chemicals and not even any real bread in it! So I thought- heck with this - I am going to make my own.
(Click here to see the instructions I followed to make breadcrumbs - It's SUPER EASY folks!).

I bought fresh whole wheat bread from the store bakery (which has 4 ingredients) and I made my own breadcrumbs for the first time ever this weekend. And you know what- it was very EASY - almost too easy - and they came out great. I pan fried some fresh fish covered in our fresh crumbs, and it was excellent. It's so easy to make the breadcrumbs - I am SO DONE with the store bought ones. I want to know what's going into our bodies and my kid's bodies. I also am taking on the task of making home made chicken nuggets for Julianna. This is her weakness, like every 3 or 4 year old child. Again, when I look at the ingredients for the ones in the store, I cringe. We buy the Perdue naturals for her - but still - that stuff scares me. Since this is a staple in her diet, I am going to make my own big batch of them, freeze them, and pull out 3 or 4 at a time as needed. HERE is the recipe I am using for her nuggets. Can you tell I am in love with the "100 days of real food" website?! Great stuff there.

One huge 'change over' I made with the 5-ingredient-or-less rule is this; We love the tiny thin pretzel sticks. I think they are usually called 'Amish' pretzels sticks. Once I really read all the unpronounceable stuff they are made with, I tried to find a healthier choice- and I did! I found THESE at our local Shop Rite (which is amazing that they carry them). They taste great and only have 5 ingredients, without any yucky stuff! Score big time. Yeah they are a little pricier, but so what. When I used to commute to work (I work from home now), I thought nothing of spending $5+ a day on coffee. You can justify any cost if you really want to, for the right reasons.

One thing I am having a hard time with making a healthier choice with is Deli cold cuts. I still buy our cold cuts from the deli. I have tried the "pre-packaged" organic cold cuts by Applegate farms and they do not taste good and kind of slimy I think, along with enough salt for a lifetime. So, I have been begrudgingly buying the normal fresh cold cuts from the deli with tons of God-knows-what in them, and who knows where the meat comes from (it's sure not from my local farm!). I do try to get the natural stuff without nitrates, etc - but still, I know they are not good. Again, this is where living by a Whole Foods or Trader Joes would be terrific. I could also make my own by baking up a ham or turkey and slicing them - but that honestly is just too time consuming for me, not to mention I don't own an industrial meat slicer. Here's my solution for this week: I just found out that Applegate makes fresh organic (uncured) cold cuts for our Shop Rite, so I am going to give that a shot. Baby steps, right. My daughter and husband like their sandwiches too much - I'm not giving up on them yet.

No thanks... 

I am going to be posting some of my favorite websites and recipes later this week. 
Do you have any favorites you would like to share? (leave in comment area)

Monday, April 14, 2014

10 things I've learned in the first year of raising a baby with a Congenital Heart Defect

Life throws curve balls when you least expect it. No kidding.

I have slowed down and truly enjoyed the precious moments with my kids. I sincerely enjoy every hug, smile and nuzzle with Tyler. He is a blessing and I thank God every day that he is with us.

I see other parents of children with special needs differently now. I am now part of their club and understand the emotion of having a child with a major medical issue or special needs. (Click here to read Tyler's story) I have compassion and understanding of what those parents have gone through, especially since we have been there. I have learned what 'love unconditionally' means.

I have grown so much in the last year, as a parent, a human and a wife because of Tyler.

I have learned not to judge people so quickly, especially since you never know what is on their plate. I have an absolutely different perspective now.

I have learned not to care about petty things and don't get annoyed as easily (with exception to the couple of months when I thought I was losing my mind when pre-menopause was kicking in! Go here for that story.)

I have learned that being happy & healthy for my family and with my family comes first.

I am grateful for the doctors and hospitals that Tyler has been to in the last year for his Heart Defect and open heart surgery. The doctors were incredible, and we had the best outcome for Tyler's scenario.

I have also learned that the reality of Congenital Heart defect can be death (there, I said it) and I say a heartfelt prayer when a parent in one of my online groups loses their baby to CHD. It breaks my heart in ways that I can't even put into words. I hold my Tyler even closer & say a prayer to thank God for him.

I know my baby boy is on this planet for a greater good. God put Tyler here to do big things.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Catch up

Working on a couple posts but I didn't want to leave you high & dry...
Here are some recent photos, it should be the last of the indoor pictures for a while... at least until the next snowfall. Now that the warmer weather is here, I should be snapping more photos outdoors!

Happy Spring

The girl is nuts! 

So is he!

Smiley boy.

I'm gonna get you!

Bye bye

 Checking out her goodie bag from a birthday party

Thursday, April 3, 2014

9 Things I'm loving lately ...

April is here. That means Baseball season officially started and the weather is getting warmer...and maybe just maybe we can get our boat in the water by the end of the month with a lot of wishful thinking!
Oh and Easter- I can't wait for the Easter bunny to bring Julianna & Tyler their baskets! 

Ipad Air. Loving it. I did not think I would like it as much as I do but I am 100% loving it. 
It's great for recipes while I cook - I prop it up on the counter and it's so convenient!
(ooh it's dirty - should have cleaned it first before taking it's picture!)

Loving this 10 grain cereal. 
I've been eating it for a couple weeks now and I really look forward to making this for breakfast! It's very tasty & filling. 

Loving my little boy's first sneakers! Our friends got him these when he was born, and I am dying for him to wear them! They are just the cutest little things! He is about a month away from wearing them - they slip off a little easy still and I'm afraid of losing one. 

Loving my little Jack Russell terrier mix. Pepper is almost 6 years old. I feel bad somedays when she gets ignored because we are so busy, so we try to snuggle extra with her after the kids go to bed. 

Loving Aquaphor. This stuff is incredible. It works great on everything and anything - chapped lips, cracked dry winter hands, chapped baby face, diaper rash, and anything else you can think up. 

We had to throw out Julianna & Tyler's sleep-seahorses due to the fact we found out they catch on fire. In case you have one of those Fisher Price Seahorses, please google it- tons of them have smoked or caught on fire and fisher price has NOT recalled them yet. Click here to see the many complaints. I bought this new sleep machine for Tyler. It projects a mobile on the ceiling and plays a lullaby song or soothing noises at bedtime. It also has a timer or you can play it all night long. Love it.

Loving this Clinique Turnaround Overnight face cream. I am a self-admitted Clinique junky and just tried this for the first time. It makes my skin feel so good by the morning and so soft! 

Loving Ella's and Plum Organics for Tyler. They offer the greatest combinations of food for babies without any chemicals or preservatives.  Tyler likes most of them except anything that has peas or greenbeans in it. He is the same as Julianna with that - hates peas. Ha! 


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