Celebrating the End of the Whole30 with All Day Day Drinkin

Ah ha! Here we are in MAY which means that our Whole30 Diet is done – mostly. There is this reintroduction phase that is supposed to last a while, but we don’t got time for that.

Did we make it you ask? Yes, but each with one notable cheat. Chester’s started with an innocent kickball game and ended with 2 shotgunned beers. Mine was much more shameful and started with an innocent pancake lunch for the girls and ended in me eating a somewhat burnt, plain pancake in a corner of the kitchen.

After thinking about nothing but not eating sugar for the past month I honestly didn’t feel much like writing about it on my time off. But here is what we learned:

The food is good! I mean food is good so as long as there was sugar free food around and the ‘bad’ food was out of sight we were pretty happy.

Meal prep is a full time job. Well it became my full time job.

The way to Chester’s heart is a warm meal. I mean I knew this already but never has he been more appreciative than when he gets 3 hot prepared meals for him with a fork on the plate.

There is such thing as too much zucchini and beds of lettuce greens. This was true for Chester at least.

You do lose weight. Though not the real point of the Whole30, I think I would have given up if I didn’t see results. Chester is down about 20 lbs and I am down about 10 (lucky men).

You feel better. This may also be because of my more regular work out routine. But my back doesn’t ache when I get up and I go to sleep easier. I may even yell at the kids less … but I have no proof of that.

You could live on eggs and avocado. I believe that the avocado overload may have added to a stopped up system. I probably had on average a half an avocado and one egg per day on this diet.

I am not good at taking pictures of food or waiting to eat food so I can take a picture or plating pretty plates before I eat them. I tried, but this is all I got in the 30 days. Most of it just looks like piled up food on top of lettuce.

If you want to do it. I would do a practice 2 weeks where you stock up on veggies and meat and also get rid of all the bad things in your house. Then meal plan a meat and veggie dish once a day if you can and eat off it for leftovers for your other meals. Is really the simplest that I can put it.

Things that Happened This Week (past 2 weeks really) … LOTS! 

Chester made us a picnic table.

Chester filled my planter box that he made with dirt and compost.

Chester planned a surprise birthday party day for me which included brunch at La Bonne Bouchee, girls winery trip at Chandler Hill, dinner at Sen Thai, crazy adventure at the Escape Room and night cap drinks at the Four Seasons Roof. All with people that I love the most in this world including MY SISTER that came from Lawrence to surprise me after I have been complaining that I haven’t seen her in so long.


Basically Chester has killin it in the husband department the last few weeks.

Grandma Lori was our first over night visitor and our yard is shaping up for summer entertaining.

The girls also celebrated a birthday with G-Pa with ice cream of course.

And finally we got to celebrate the newest member of the family’s baptism and Brody turning 6. The kids had an awesome time playing with their cousins.

We’ve Been Busy Not Eating Sugar – The Accidental Whole30 Diet

20160406_214754I waited to post this until we were a week in before I committed on my blog to do this Whole30, no sugar diet all month long. Long story short, I bought the Whole30 diet book on our Gulf vacation thinking it was a cookbook. And after few days of vacation eating and drinking we decided that maybe this was fate and that we needed to do this. Also all my St. Louis friends are “shredding” and I didn’t want to be the one not working and getting fat up in Highland.

Whole30 With Toddlers & A Budget
With both of us one board, we decided to wait until after Easter to start. Not being able to eat the heads off our chocolate bunnies on Easter felt so wrong. But we did start trying to bulk up on our protein and veggies. We also started using some coconut products – oil, flour, milk. Then the day came and with heavy hearts we put away our smooth Jiffy peanut butter and beloved honey.

I knew that with Chester starting his job that the bulk/all of the prep for this diet would be my “job” which was okay seeing that I quit my other one. So I have literally been food prepping and meal planning for this week straight to make it through. Chester LOVES it since he comes home to hot meals and anytime meat is on the table he is pretty much good. I also have a thing that I have to prep all his lunches. It makes me feel better that I know at least exactly what he is doing for a small part of his day. I know he appreciates it and we have both said that nothing is nicer than people giving you food. I have also made a nice habit (for him) of getting up with Chester to help get him out the door … not sure how long this will last.

We could not take milk away from the kids. And we still feed them cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, cheese, and some pasta. The biggest difference to them is probably the no bread … We went out for lunch and Vivi ate her whole hot dog bun plain I think because she misses it so much. In this pic you can actually see the bun tight in her little hand almost in Magen’s hair.


We also cannot afford to buy everything organic like Whole30 recommends and even if we could, it would mean buying mainly from stores in Edwardsville, about a 25 minute drive for us. So this is what I have been doing: I go to Edwardsville once a week that includes stops to Aldi and Schnucks. I get most of our produce from Aldi and most of our meat from Schnucks. In Highland I have been filling in with Ruler Foods, a Kroger store. Sometimes I’m at Wal-Mart (you just have to, everything is so GD cheap there). And finally I get some speciality things from Amazon (see further down in my Amazon Purchases).

Here are Some Whole30 Things That I Have Made/Tried

Almond Butter
I mostly made this because I was having such a hard time finding sugar free almond butter that was not a fortune. When I saw that it was just a matter of blending up a bunch of roasted almonds I was like … okay. The result was I think just fine. It is not our Jiffy, but it is satisfying.

Almond Milk
We have tried to like store bought almond milk in the past but never stuck to it. But I love it this way and I love milking almonds … who knew? There is something so satisfying about seeing the almonds floating in water and then ending up with delicious milk. I have been putting in vanilla beans and also sneaking in a date or two. I found that one cup of almonds to about 2.5 cups of water works for us and that the best thing ever is mixing it with plain black tea.

Chia Seed Pudding
I wanted to try this recipe to have something that would be easy to pull out of the fridge and just eat. I added in a vanilla bean and dates and put a banana or berries with it. So good for breakfast, snack or after dinner snack (not a dessert because it’s are not allowed on the diet). You can make it with almond milk or coconut milk. We do our with a can of coconut milk because its yummy. I like mine warm, Chester likes his cold. 

Chia Seed Pudding

Is It Worth It?
So far for us yes! But the only reason we are making it work is that I am spending so much time and energy keeping everyone fed. If I were in school or had a job outside the home it would be much harder and we we would eat lots more salad and eggs — oh we eat plenty of those but I have been able to get a hot meal with leftovers usually one meal a day. Not saying that it would be impossible, but I would have to be way more organized. I plan to have a few more posts about our Whole30 probably one in a few weeks and at the end to tell you how it all went. 

I would love to hear if you have done a paleo, no sugar or Whole30 diet with or without kids. I know we are feeling pretty good about it the first week out but we have along way to go that I feel like I’ll be needing some inspiration!


Things That Happened This Week
We found an amazing weekend babysitter that works at our gym. If there is one thing I hate it’s looking for childcare for the girls. This is someone they see regularly so she won’t be a stranger even if she just comes to our house a few times a month.

Ellen has been accident free for days! Number ones and number twos all making it into the potty. She still needs a diaper at night, but she’s been doing great at the gym and also trips to St. Louis and back. WOOO. I was staring at our package of diapers thinking — this is the LAST package of diapers I will have to buy for a while. Oh man it’s an amazing feeling.

Chester built me a planter box for our very first garden! I have no idea how to grow anything, but Herbs1 aka mom is helping me out. If we can keep out the bunnies we may have a shot at growing something.

Amazon Purchases

Organic Almonds in Bulk
This was a great purchase seeing how much almond milk I am going to be making in the next month and maybe forever.



Coconut Water
Chester really likes this as a break from water. I can do a few sips, but not the whole can in one go.



My Big Fat Nut Sacks – Nut Milking Bag
LOVE this strainer bag. It amazes me every time I see the almond milk strain from it. Its not messy and it’s so easy.



A Veggie Spiral
I kind of like this. I found they were like $2.50 in an advertisement at Menards. Anytime you see that you’ve been had like that hurts. But the thing works just fine.


Easter 2016 – Are We Lying to Our Kids?

Vivienne is at the age where every other sentence from her mouth is a question. And if she doesn’t like or understand your answer she just repeats the question (this may be hereditary). Nothing brings more questions than the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. I mean a bunny that comes around to every house and hides the eggs that you dyed days before and also comes with his own eggs filled with surprises ….And a jolly old man that flies around in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, comes down your chimney and puts presents under the tree? Who wouldn’t have questions? And we haven’t even touched on the Tooth Fairy yet. The question she asked over and over is “Where IS the Easter Bunny?” Like she wants a visual of him either underground in a den or does he live in a house? The point is that we can no longer gloss over these big characters with out some explanations and answers.

Easter at our Gym – Korte Rec Center which is kind of like my lifeline, childcare, only prospect for adult social interaction I get in a day.


Since Chester and I are not really religious these holidays become more about the traditions and spending time with family than a Christian meaning. Neither of us had traumatizing childhood memories of knowing “the truth.” But Chester is pretty black and white about the fact that we are lying to the kids when we talk about the Easter Bunny and Santa. I am pretty sure he wants to tell the kids “the truth” asap.

I am on the other side where I believe that facilitating and even encouraging the magic of these holidays is something that parents do out of love. But I am conscious that the kids get spoiled by their grandparents … all of them … and so at home I want to have a few meaningful traditions then all the presents and candy can come from the Easter Bunny who has conspired with their grandparents. 

Easter at G-Ma & G-Pa Walton’s

I am sure that I am not the first parent who has come to a crossroads where I want to have these stories in the kids lives but don’t want to push it down their throats and also not feel guilty about lying to them. There are how-to articles to broach subject and also this one that came up in my feed recently about a mom that now regrets telling her 4 year old “the truth” about Santa and the Easter Bunny.

I have decided to try to keep Chester’s desire for the truth at bay for now and see what questions come from Vivi and Ellen. Vivi isn’t obsessed about any fictitious character yet, so I am not too concerned. Don’t get me wrong, we love Easter. I just want to do a good job keeping a balance between this huge chocolate holiday and their expectations. I think of it as retelling a story and instead of pages they are real events in their lives. Fear not, for now their little heads are filled with the Easter bunny and I think that’s how it should be.  

Easter at Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Koeller’s

Bonus that I got to meet and hold this little snuggler, my newest nephew Zeke. He loves me obviously.



Our First Real Family Vacation

I’m not sure why this one was kind of hard for me to get through. Maybe because I was deciding how much to whine and complain as we are making these magical memories with the girls. Or how much should be about Vivienne’s third birthday when it was only a small part of the trip. Or probably the main reason which is because we have been watching “House of Cards” while putting off real life adult responsibilities while eating a bonus size box of Snickers ice cream bars, it has been glorious. Anyway …

While we have been places with the kids, when we have traveled overnight it has always been either with family or going to visit family. Since I quit my job at the end of February and Chester doesn’t start his job until mid-March we have this sweet sweet time together that we probably won’t have for a while without burning vacation. And the time is sweet don’t get me wrong, but when you have spent all days with your family it can be teeth grinding trying to savor all this time together.

So with a bit of tax return monies, two kiddos and a packed mini van we headed down to the Gulf Shores of Alabama. It also just so happened to be Vivienne’s third birthday.

From our house this is an 11 hour drive. With a 2 and 3 year old this is a 17 hour drive. We woke up at 3:30am to finish packing the car and left about 4:45am with the kids in jammies. The ride was rain the whole way down which meant that Chester drove the it all … and the alternative of being on child duty in the passenger’s seat catering to every dropped stuffed animal or sticky hand to the condo about 9:30pm. The first thing Vivi said when she got out of the car with a distasteful look on her face is “where is the beach.” She was not on the beautiful sandy beaches that we promised, instead a windy cold parking lot is where we took her and she was none the too happy.

We did a pretty good job packing for the kids. With a bin of toys, books, and tablet holders. We also meal planned with some frozen casseroles and some groceries for easy lunches and spaghetti. We did have to go to the store for some staples but didn’t have to do a huge trip and worry about not finding sand toys. The van was full but I wouldn’t say we overpacked. You just need a lot more stuff traveling with kids than without.

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It was pretty chilly with the warmest it hit was about 70 degrees, but it really didn’t rain at all during the day. On most days we did two beach trips. The beach is the perfect family trip when you don’t have a huge budget to go other places and when the kids are so young that doing excursions can be more of a pain than what they are worth. We went to one restaurant there called Lulu’s where there was a big sand pit that the girls played in before and after we ate. We also got them on a boat for a dolphin sight seeing ride. They weren’t that active but we did see a few. The girls did okay on this 1.5 hour ride, with the help of some emergency candy. Vivi got a happy birthday from a boat full of strangers and we saw 3 dolphins, which one passenger pointed out was for Vivi’s three years being alive. Chester always tries to find the most child friendly hike. We did a short boardwalk hike at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and assured to Vivienne that there probably wouldn’t be a crocodile, but maybe ….


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Vivienne’s birthday consisted of 1 blue princess dress (which was actually from Halloween but we decided to keep it from her so she would be an explorer for Halloween, which was a wash anyway because both girls were sick), 1 very pink cake, candles in every meal, sprinkles in every meal, a tea party on the beach complete with an Olaf tea pot, souvenir presents – a fancy shell and flower bracelet. She is an amazing 3 year old



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Overall it was a complete success — we all made it out alive and we can now talk to Vivienne about the beach and she totally knows what it is. Now it is back to real life. Chester will start working (thank God) and I will be getting used to full time with the girls and planning what is next for me as a person … because I really have no idea.

Things that Happened This Week

  • Ellen went a tiny pee pee in the potty.
  • Ellen did a big poo poo in the bathtub.
  • Vivi called daddy a “penis monster” he was not too happy about this.
  • Ellen’s favorite books right now “Cookie’s Week” “Goodnight Moon”
  • Vivi’s favorite books right now NOT “Cookie’s Week.” It’s probably “Where the Side Walk Ends”

Amazon Purchases
We moved and found an exorbitant amount of change everywhere! As a child I remember that we used to help roll my dad’s change and it was so fun and also our first introduction to counting money. I wish that I had the old counters that we used, but these were the closest that I could find.

Our Almost 3 Year Old

It is hard to imagine that our first little baby that made us parents is turning three in just a week. When you ask her when her birthday is she cooly replies “the 7th day of March.” And she is thinking about it all the time it seems like. One morning she yelled “its my special day.” And we politely reminded her that in fact it is not for a few more days.

Vivienne at age (almost) 3: 

  • Today said to someone that her favorite foods were broccoli and carrots. But she will actually do almost anything for a donut with sprinkles.
  • Does not like to be called “Viv” and will correct anyone that calls her that and says “No, my name is Vivienne.” She is okay with “Vivi” but prefers Vivienne.
  • She also does not like “Vivienne Rose.” She prefers her sister’s middle name and has made it clear that she would rather be called “Vivienne Olivia.”
  • She wakes up in a different outfit than she went to bed in 50% of the time.
  • Vivienne is not very cuddly unless she is watching one of her shows.
  • Her favorite shows in order are: Danielle Tiger, Bubble Guppies, Dora, Clifford, Super Why, Peg+Cat.
  • She prefers her hair down, but will let me put it up for 2-4 fruit snacks.
  • We have given up on naps. If she does take a nap it usually lasts for as long as you let her sleep and she super crabby when she wakes up and then does not go to bed until like 10 pm.
  • Vivienne would have you read to her anytime in the day for as long as she can get you to read.

Our Favorite Quotes:

The Quite Forest Story
“Once upon a time there was a wolf. And he eats all your food and it’s very scary. Don’t forget. The End.”

The Ellen Song
to the tune of frère jacques
“Little Ellen, little Ellen, she’s so smart, she’s so smart.
She never does bad things, never does bad things.
I love her. I love her.”

About Daddy
“Daddy your hands are really big and fat. They are like bread.”

This was a hard gallery to make that is a good representation of the last three years. We love her everyday and try to keep up with her mischievous and silly personality.

Moving to the Other Side of the River and Life There

We are Never Moving Again
Welp we did it. Our Valentines Day weekend consisted of 1 moving truck, 3 movers, 100+ boxes, 1 Chester, 1 Allison, 0 kids, 1 Boullie, 1 minivan, 3 fast food meals, 18 hours total.

The truck came at 8 am on Saturday and we were out of our apartment completely by 1 am Sunday. This was our first time using movers but after sitting there watching them (while eating a donut no less) going up and down our stairs loading the truck with all our stuff then also proceed to watch them unload, at the end it makes you want to hug them and give them all your money because you did not have to do it yourself.

We had moved 3 times in the city before luring friends with pizza, beer and the promise that we would be there for them when they moved next, probably the most valuable of the things. But moving with all the stuff of 2 extra people – even though they are little people, was insane. I did not quite realize how much stuff we had until I saw it all not quite fitting into the huge moving truck. And we even tried to do our due diligence of taking weird toys in the van the week beforehand. I can remember saying to Chester a few times, why are we going to spend the time moving that when we can just have the movers take it. Thank goodness for my husband and his readiness to move things. I believe this came from a time in his life where his dad made him move piles of wood from one spot to a different spot is what he has described. But one thing about Chester is that if I get something ready and ask him to move it, he will do it! And he does it so fast, its amazing. I think that may be one of the reasons we have lasted so long, is because I need this kind of mover in my life.

Highland, IL – Our Stars Hollow
So that is a comparison that my friend Bonnie made. And though it may not be as quaint as Stars Hollow, Highland is pretty damn quaint for an Illinois town. What we know about Highland so far: 

  • We know about all of our other neighbors from our one neighbor.
  • Nudge Coffee is walking distance from our house and has a mint cream latte.
  • There is a park called Helvetia Sharpshooters Society, this is where the Madison county fair is. We are not sure if you have to prove you are sharpshooter to attend. There is also a huge dirt racking track down there, not really sure what its really called.
  • We joined the Korte Recreation Center. We workout when the water aerobics class is in session and also when all their husbands are working out in their jeans.
  • There is something called PB&J Fridays in the summer.

I mean we have only been here a little over a week. So we’ll find out more and report back.

What the Future Holds
This is my LAST WEEK AT CAPTIVA. I don’t think I really believe that. I am both looking forward to the change and also can’t swallow sometimes when I think about it. It would be one thing if it were happening in my hometown. But being away has made me stressed. I broke down one night thinking that I am going to become a woman that lets herself go, yells at her kids and shops at Wal-Mart for groceries. After being talked down from the ledge, spending a small fortune at Ulta and vowing to shower everyday I think I will make it. We are taking it one day at a time until Chester starts working and there is a BEACH VACATION in our future!

Quick Boullie Update
Boullie is probably the happiest member of our family in the new house. He has been sleeping with this look on his face like he hasn’t been able to sleep without anxiety for years. So you’re welcome Bou.



At what age is it that kids realize that their parents don’t have it all together and are scared as shit for what’s coming next? Were my parents ever scared that it wouldn’t work out? They must have been doing a great job because I had no doubt that they knew 100% what they were doing growing up. It is amazing that the girls have total trust and confidence in the things we do. Even though we live in an upstairs apartment on a busy street, Vivi will say as we pull up to our house (on our street parking) “momma, I love our home.” I could point out a million flaws in this apartment but she doesn’t see the cracks in the hard wood, the milk stains in the carpet, the plaster walls, the crayons and who knows what else under the couches. She sees the place where all of her food comes from, her snuggly bed, all of her toys and books — this is the only place that she knows as a home with us.

So taking the girls from the place where we brought each of them from the hospital, is scary. After about 7 years of living in St. Louis we are starting the next leg of our lives across the river in Illinois!!!

The jig is up, Chester accepted a job in Vandalia, IL. He will be working for SHIF SIHF (whoops had that name wrong until now) at a family medicine clinic. Boards passed! Contract signed! Now we are just waiting for all his credentialing and licensing to go through and we have a tentative start date of March 14 for him.

Chester the Full Time Dad
Since Chester graduated in December, we quit our daycare that we loved Childgarden, joined a gym for the precious few hours of daycare it offers among other heath benefits, and he has been with the girls 7 days a week. I know all to well that being home with the kids is the hardest job ever, but now he fully understands it too. I believe it is the best thing that a father can do for his family and themselves is stay home with the kids full time for at least a few months. I realize that this is not possible for everyone, but if you can find a way to work it out — do it!

Allison the Soon-to-be SAHM
The job in IL also means MOVING to IL if you haven’t figured that out yet. We are very close to signing a lease on a HOUSE in Highland, IL which is about half way between St. Louis and Vandalia. There is really nothing East of the Metro East and we are still renting so our options have been very limited out there. With a move about an hour from my work and the pure dread of having to find childcare again, I have decided to leave Captiva after a almost 7 year run. I haven’t really mentioned CM on this blog very much I guess because it kind of took a backseat when we started having NayBabies. I went part-time after Ellen was born and so it didn’t really come as a shock when I told them our plan. They are letting me stay until the end of February which I think works out well for everyone. “A problem solving itself” is what my boss would say. Yes I am leaving my wonderful quiet desk where I can drink coffee and watch the occasional cat video for THE HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD. My back hurts just thinking about being a SAHM. For some reason when I see that “SAHM” I see the word “SHAME.” I said stay-at-home-mom for the first time the other night with friends and it felt … weird and not great saying out loud. I am still wrestling with how I feel about that title, but that is what I am, as my other boss pointed out I am “retiring.” [Definition of retire: to leave one’s job and cease to work]

Oh these kids don’t know what is coming … I don’t know what is coming! But at least they will always have each other … right? Here we Go!