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.

IMG_386611

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.

THE KIDS ARE NOT STARVING I PROMISE
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.

20160406_120959

BUY CHEAP PRODUCE
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.

  20160325_100438

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.

10347472_10100618985390472_1026196106967754921_n

 

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.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

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!
20160117_092630

2015 Christmas Craze – Bows, Giggles, Throw-up, Car Naps & All Things Christmas!

Whew the holidays have flown by. Partly because we were also focused on Chester’s Graduation and partly because we have 2 crazy girls to run after. I said to Chester it literally (he hates that word) takes 2 adults working full time, non stop to make anything happen around Christmas. I now fully understand the tired mom that I remember on Christmas morning. The holidays are so busy for everyone, this year it felt so fun and we love most all moments with the girls. We are also in pretty good moods since Chester has been done with school and its fun to talk about our future … where ever it may take us.

Christmas #.5 – Lori & Karen Christmas
This one happened back in October when Grandma Lori and Grandma Karen came over. They brought these amazing pillow pads and also their ever famous box of cookies came in December complete with fudge and Christmas jammies for the kids.

Christmas #1 – Friends Christmas
This is the first year in maybe 3 years that we have not hosted a Christmas for all of our friends. We were so happy that our friends Tom & Jay decided to host a white elephant in Shaw. They do it up right complete with pomegranate sparkly goodness. This is an important Christmas for Chester and I to do Christmas away from the kids and have our own fun.

Christmas #2 – Nay Christmas
We do Christmas with Chester’s parents and brothers and sisters the Saturday before Christmas. We actually added another grandbaby, Zeke who was born in December, however we missed Katie’s family for Zeke to spend his first Christmas safely at home. Zeke evens out the grandkids with 5 girls and 5 boys now.

The kids did a secret santa for the first time because there are TEN of them! So that made things go a little faster. We also did a super white elephant for our exchange this year which included a horse head (this actually made an appearance at our first white elephant also), Kate Spade bag, 2 sleeping bags, an old fishing box, may survival supplies and of course a can of squid (did I mention that the theme was nighttime?). Next year our theme is accessory/ies. We got a Ninja from Blake and Robin which Chester was under-thrilled about but we brought it home and he/we LOVE it. The kids I don’t think have eaten that many veggies in one serving ever. Drinkable Kale? Yes please.

The night ended with the most delicious beef tenderloin. Our kids are just barely old enough that they can be okay walking around by themselves so they would stop by for pieces of roll and then run off again.

Christmas #3 – Koeller Christmas Eve
This is our fancy Christmas at Chester’s Grandma and Grandpa Koeller house in Quincy. The girls wear tights* and dresses and there are Christmas ties. Also this is the best place for wine tasting, shrimp cocktail (which I love), oysters (which I hate), and clam chowder (which I love). Even though we don’t see this side of the family often I really think its important that we see them so the kids know they have this awesome extended family that loves them and are really interested and invested in their future and happiness.

Christmas #4 – Family Christmas Morning
On Christmas Eve Eve Chester and I stayed up until about 2 am making bread (well Chester does that) and I had gotten this doll house furniture that is actually a 3D puzzle. I should have done it weeks ago when it came in, but of course I thought it would only take a few hours. Inbetween bread making Chester peaked over and said “no” I am not doing that, but then after about 20 minutes it comes over and works with me on this for maybe 3 hours putting it all together for me while I painted.

When we got back from Qunicy the house was a mess of course. So we did a pick up, oh and I ran out to get a few last minute items for my family. I just barely avoided the news crew setting up to do their bit about last minute holiday shoppers in Target.

But of course it was worth it when we got everything ready and the kids woke up happy. I continued the tradition of giving them a book first thing like my mom did. We aren’t necessarily against Santa, but we aren’t all about making Christmas about Santa. And we are definitely not Elf on the Shelf people, nothing against the people that do it, but I can’t get excited about it right now. I will never say never, but I don’t want to. We feel the same way about Santa that we do about Disney Princess — not our most favorite, but if the girls love it we are encouraging and let them do their thing.

Christmas #5 – Walton Christmas Day
This is a fun day for me because it brings back all the memories of my own childhood Christmases. Probably because we come back to my childhood house and with the kids now my mom has brought back all those traditions that come flooding back when I see her do them with Vivienne and Ellen. Mom must buy one present everyday during the year. And ever year she said she is cutting back, but I don’t think its possible for her.

The girls love their G-Ma.

AND MORE CHRISTMAS because we love it!

Christmas’ with Babies! 

AND Last but Not Least, SANTA

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