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.


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.

I Don’t Love Your Little Sister More, Although It May Seem Like I Do

Oh the mom guilt is never ending. When you have a second child it is inevitable that you will feel guilty about not giving each one enough one-on-one attention that they would receive if they were only children. This is especially true for my oldest, Vivienne. Maybe its because for a short while she was my onliest one and everything revolved around her. But the real reason is that I just find myself yelling and discipling Vivi more unlike Ellen.

They cosleep in one room and I hear the baby (well she’s 18 months but still my baby) crying during nap. And this normally means that Vivi has either gotten into her bed or something similar ruining Ellen’s nap. In this case she was trying to take Ellen’s blanket to use for her Lamby. I know that in her world this makes total sense, I mean Lamby needs a blanket BUT physically pulling one off of her little sister. Really?

This is Lamby. Sometimes Vivi is her momma, sometimes her sister and in this case her doctor. 20160101_084512

So I use my crazy stern mom voice (the one that you don’t know you have until you have to use it to your 2 year old) and say “NO! Vivienne, you can’t take Ellen’s blanket. Lamby can use this one, throwing one at her.” Then here is the kicker where she may feel unloved. Is that I feel so sorry for crying Ellen that I pick her up soothe her, while Vivi is crying for being yelled at and I tell Vivi to go to sleep, put Ellen down and shut the door. Then instantly the mom guilt follows.

“Was I too harsh?”
“I hate that mom voice, how do I get rid of it?”
“If only we had another bedroom”
“Can she be done with naps at age 3?”
“Poor Ellen”

So there is what I deal with on a daily basis. Of course since Vivi is older we just expect more from her and Ellen is just starting to understand and get sent to time out — I think it’s been a total of 2 times. For Vivi’s sake we do try and do the stern voice at Ellen, but its not in the same capacity.

And we always struggle with naps with Vivi. Very seldom does her nap time go smooth, as in we put her into bed, she falls asleep and wakes up glowing 2 hours later. Ellen’s on the other hand ALWAYS go smooth. With Vivi she either plays until she comes to the door and we pull her out skipping her nap all together. Or she does something bad to Ellen, we yell at her, then she cries herself to sleep — like today. The thing is that when she doesn’t take a nap she get crabby around dinner, but goes to sleep within the hour that we put her to bed. When she does take a nap, well she never wants to get up from them and she goes to sleep hours after we put her in bed. In which case it is sometimes on the floor, then she wakes up later mad because she is on the floor and we have to go in and pick her up.

I am just waiting until things even out a little. As in they both get in trouble. But I have a feeling that Vivi just may need more discipline in her life. I don’t know that for sure, but its a gut feeling I guess. Ellen is no angel. In fact here is a pic from today where she had to get down from stamping because she started to throw them. Here is the Instagram pic though. 20160107_090318

In general they get along and they DO love each other, even if we have to remind them they do.



18 Months & 33 Months (2.75 yrs)

The 18 Month Old – Ellen
In a few words, Ellen is a cuddly baby who loves Boullie the most. She is a thumb sucker whose teeth came in late-ish and now we are paying for it with swollen gums and sometimes fussy baby. Ellen is a mommy’s girl to say the least. She yells, screams and cries for mommy just to lay on my chest with her thumb in her mouth. Which I both love and hate, but mostly love.

Like my other one, this girl loves shoes. Her favorite are her pink tennis shoes and her blue tennis shoes that light up.

This girl has an appetite. She LOVES “crkakers” graham crackers mostly but is pretty good with a plane round cracker. Other favorites include bananas, oat meal, eggs, bread, pasta — really any carbs are good in her book.

She still makes noise when she eats and she calls for Boullie the most and Vivi secondly.

The 33 Month Old – Vivienne
She is approaching 3 years old which is amazing! She is a full blown bouncing, talking thing that we can’t get enough of … well somedays we CAN.

Vivienne is a wild child. She is the one that won’t let you touch her hair and so its all over her face and she’s jumping from couch to couch looking like a little Tarzan. But this one insists on dressing herself most days. Her favorites are jeans and a plain blue shir,, her blue sparkly tutu, her blue Cinderella pajamas, or just underwear with this one is good.

Some of the things that comes out of this girl’s mouth …

“Shhh the quite forest. There is a bear is the quite forest. Don’t wake up the bear.” — She says this when she sees lots of trees in one area.

“This is a troll bridge mommy” — She says this in the bath tub about the basket that holds toys and sits across the tub.

“Look there are horses over there.” -vivi
“Oh there are horses?” – mom and dad
“Nope!” Giggles – vivi


You Win Some, You Lose Some, On Halloween We Lost

The three words that I would use to describe our Halloween would be:

1) crying
2) snot
3) anguish

Halloween Day
We knew Ellen wasn’t going to make it out trick-or-treating. We didn’t go to the kids fall festival the night before. She had been running a fever and was pretty miserable all day on Halloween. But Vivi was bouncing around, running errands with dad, saying she was sick just to get a taste of medicine and getting excited about seeing her cousins. For the past few weeks we have really been trying to play up her costume as a bug catcher. Since its not the princess that she would say she wants to be. It does help that she likes Dora the Explorer so we say that she is going to be kind of like her. We were winning! She was telling people happily that she was going to be a bug catcher like Dora.

Ok so we start the process of getting ready for the night that means new diaper, going potty, getting outfits and shoes and socks on, packing jammies and a plethora of other things that all parents know to well about what it takes for everyone to get out the door with everything they need and want. Vivi actually put on her explorer boots that I had strategically put high up so she could see them but not reach them making them more desirable than a pair of boys brown boots otherwise would be. And it worked, Still Winning she put them on and seemed to love them. We only had to use one sucker to get her out the door happy (we also consider that a win at this point in the day).

The Car Ride to Nana’s 
Ok so here is where things begin to take a turn. Ellen falls asleep right away, WIN! Vivi is jabbering away which soon turns into a whining … so car songs! Which then makes her yell “NO! Not that one” and “Stop singing that” in general “NOOO nnooo NO! No! nononooooo.” But this can be usual car behavior for a 2 year old. Put her in a room full of cousins and food and doating grandparents, which was our plan, and she can surly turn it around. Well not this time.

For some reason it seems like its my kids that are the most crying and terrible of all the kids of the family. It may just feel like that but recently I thinks its been true that one of my kids seems not happy when we visit the family. This time was no different they were both clingy and sickish and not happy. And when candy bribing didn’t work, tv shows didn’t work, other cousins being happy didn’t work, the promise of all the candy in the world didn’t work we knew that we were in for it. Vivi also was saying that her ear hurt, but later when we got home said that it magically felt better … which didn’t help. They were both pretty pitiful and as Chester and I ate stuffed our face between cries it was apparent that the situation was not getting better.

Decision Time
At this point we could have tried to force Vivienne in her costume for the awful crying picture and then see if she would actually go out the door to trick-or-treat with the other kids. We could have put her in a room by herself to see if she would calm down or we could do what we did which was stuff all our things in our bag, give “I hope you understand” looks (especially to my mom who made a ton of food, did bags for all the kids, then I left her and my dad after seeing them for about a half an hour with Chester’s family) and goodbye hugs to the family, and back in the car and home we went.

Car Ride Home
Well Vivi fell asleep right away (aftermath Win, maybe) … but Ellen basically cried the whole way home and got herself so worked up that she threw up as we were blocks away from our house. We did bath for both girls, gave them each a dose of Tylenol and into bed they went for awhile at least ….

Night Time/Next Day
Well its all a little fuzzy but I believe that Ellen came out of her room to sleep with one of us on the couch around midnight maybe? Then somehow Vivi woke up at around 3 am and decide that it was morning. She was bothering Chester on the couch to dress her, which was waking up Ellen which is when I woke up to call her into the bedroom where I helped her get dressed. We don’t have an alarm clock (we did but it always gets unplugged from little hands) so I had no idea what time it was. I guess Chester figured it out the time, that brilliant man, and back to bed Vivi went — fully dressed. At that time I think is when Chester plopped into bed with me along with Ellen. And there we slept until 7 am and our day began. But that’s a whole 3 hours stretch (win?)

That brings us to today, Sunday, the day after Halloween, and also day light savings. Vivi did pretty good today and very happy that there is so much juice around since we are giving Ellen any kind of fluid that she will drink. Ellen has been weepy eyed and still has a temperature the last time we checked. But we did manage to get into our costumes which didn’t happen at all yesterday and got a few pics. Ellen was a butterfly, Vivi the bug catcher, and mom and dad the flowers.

NOW :: 8 pm
Thank god Chester was here during the worst of it (hopefully) BUT he is now driving the almost 4 hour drive away from us to Danville, IL to a full nights sleep. I on the other hand write this while Ellen is waking up about every 20 minutes. Poor Ellen, poor me.

Happier Halloweens are definitely in our past and our future I think!