Monday, September 22, 2014

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie

For a while when we first got our vitamix I made the same smoothie every single day. I had stopped making it for a long time and just started making it again this week. Oh my it is the best! I get a chocolate fix anytime I have this. I'm not a chocolate obsessed person either, I actually prefer no chocolate. Somehow this smoothie does it for me though! It's yummy and it is packed with protein.

Here's how to make it. (recipe adapted from the chocolate cherry smoothie in the Eat To Live Cookbook) 

Serves 2

2 handfuls of baby spinach
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 TBS cocoa powder
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
splash of vinalla extract
2 TBS ground flax seed

Throw it all in a blender and blend. Pour into a fun glass and enjoy!
This is the best picture I have of it.
It's so yummy and I enjoyed it while watching Blake play with his shark in the sink!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Preschool What?

We put Blake in Preschool. A preschool 3 year old program to be more exact. He is going two days a week on Tuesday and Thursday. He started the last week of August. It is more than just Mother's Day Out now; it's the real deal preschool. On the first day Andrew and I both took him to school. (He actually rode with his Daddy and I drove by myself.) He did so good going the first day.
Quick family picture before he went into his class.

Acting goofy by his stuff.
I thought I was going to be nervous and possibly even cry when we dropped him off but I didn't. I was proud of myself ha! I think it helped Blake and I both that Andrew was able to come with us. When I picked him up he was happy to see me and a little weepy. I think the weepy was just him being flooded with emotion.

The decision to put him in preschool came about kind of quickly. I was frustrated with the MDO program that he was in because they were switching him into a different class and he had just gotten settled into the class he was in. He had been in the class for only the summer months. Someone suggested this preschool to us so I called to see if they had a spot open and also to check it out. I went to check it out and enrolled him the same day. He was placed in the last open spot for 3 year olds on Tuesday/Thursday. I couldn't help but feel like this was perfect for us. They also informed me that day that he was going to be in a class with 11 boys (including him) and 3 girls. (It is my teacher dream to have that many boys in a class!) I was excited about it for Blake as well because I feel like he needs to be around more boys his age. 

I'm very excited about the opportunities they provide at this preschool. In no particular order they have science, spanish, music, chapel and class time. Every other week they have science, a science teacher actually comes in to do science lessons with them. This week they played with sand, water and oil. They talked about how oil and water don't mix. She even showed them that the sand wouldn't absorb the water with oil on it first. Fun stuff! They have spanish class and music once a week. Blake is loving the spanish class. He recognizes colors in spanish but doesn't yet feel confident saying them. That after only  two weeks of class. He still isn't sure about music class. He cried hard the first time because it was loud and he hates loud noises. I sent ear plugs this week and he still wasn't having it. His teacher said he is very interested in the instruments and constantly asking questions about them but isn't having all the noise. Can you blame him though 14 kids plus a teacher playing on a guiro. That makes my ears hurt just thinking about it! We have a game plan for next week to make it better and a follow up for the next week if the new plan doesn't work. He also goes to chapel once a week where they are learning a verse to recite. He doesn't talk much about that part of school yet. Then they have the normal class time. They have great centers for the kids to play and learn in. They do group time multiple times a day. The kids eat lunch in the classroom and also take a nap each afternoon. Seriously they squeeze all that into a 5 hour day! What I LOVE even more is that the tv is never on, I actually don't even know if they have one in the classroom.

I always have my overprotective former teacher defense come out when I take Blake to school or even MDO. I was feeling uneasy last week as the first week of school was going on. I was (still am) missing having him at home everyday. I was letting myself get overwhelmed by all the people saying "you'll never get this time back" "he's so young" "can't you just teach him that at home" etc. etc. etc. Ugh I know that people weren't meaning to get to me about it but it was starting to eat me up and even question our quick decision to move him there. I finally realized that I couldn't let them get to me. We did what we feel is best for our boy. No he won't be 3 forever, yes he will go to school for the rest of his life but just like I'll ever get this time back, neither will he. Why not provide as many opportunities as possible for him to increase his knowledge of the world. He needs to grow as his own person with out me just as much as he needs to grow with me. I know that this is the right place for him and the right thing for our family. That above all else is what matters. 

After being in school for 5 days (two and a half weeks) I am the most happy to see that he is learning to stand his ground and stick up for himself. He is learning to let his feelings out instead of bottling them up. (Guilty on the bottling feelings here and so his is daddy.) He is actually being more physical toward other children which isn't so good when he makes the motions to slam his 2 year old buddy on the ground but is good for his personal growth. Don't get me wrong I'm not putting him in preschool to learn to beat up on kids but the fact that he is learning to stand his ground is making this momma very happy. Plus he hasn't actually gotten in trouble for being overly physical at school, he is just saving that for his non school friends when they play at home. This is just part of being a boy and being surrounded by so many of them at school is bringing it out in him. I actually love it. He has also learned a few new tricks for identifying letters (even though he knows all his letters) and tricks for putting together puzzles. His large motor skills are getting better too; he is climbing on toys at the park with more confidence! Maybe instead of saying that the most obvious thing he has learned is to stand up for himself I should be saying his confidence is growing. I know just by that statement alone that he is where he should be. It takes some serious love and support to help a child's confidence grow. I know that he feels comfortable, safe and loved there.

Next week he goes into week number three at school and I am excited to see what he learns and to watch him continue to grow!

Friday, September 5, 2014

A New Favorite Recipe

Last night for dinner I made Crispy Quinoa Cakes. I was worried that Andrew wouldn't like them and that Blake would never even consider eating them. I had to make them though because they looked so good! Well I made them and they turned out great! Blake ate them up just like he does everything else! One day people will question his food choices because he eats just like we do. I hope that he stands his ground and maintains his healthy food choices! 

These quinoa cakes are crispy on the outside and almost cheesy on the inside. Plus they are a complete delicious protein source! I enjoyed mine with sliced avocado and a mixed green salad. For all my meat loving friends I promise you would love this! It's actually one of my favorite things about most recipes that I find on Oh She Glows, my friends who swear they can't live without meat love them!

Crispy Quinoa Cake, Avocado Slices, Mixed Greens & Balsamic Vinaigrette 
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax plus 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup finely chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup finely grated sweet potato 
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sun flower seeds
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon runny tahini paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 pinches of fine grain sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons regular all-purose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the ground flax and water in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes or so to thicken.
  3. Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl, including the flax mixture and the 1.5 cups cooked quinoa. Stir well until the mixture comes together. Don't forget the flour because it helps bind the patties.
  4. Shape mixture into patties with wet hands. Pack tightly so they hold together better. Place on baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully flip cakes, and bake for another 15 minutes until golden and firm.
  6. Enjoy

I didn't measure out my patties. I just grabbed a handful and squished them together which is why my cooking time was longer than the one in the original recipe. I also left out a few things because I forgot or I was out of them or  I was distracted by my crazy 3 year old. Yeap pretty much all three of those things factor into every meal I make! I'm pretty sure the only thing I should have used but didn't was the fresh basil. I also had enough quinoa left to make another batch so I just chopped up extras as I was making the first batch. I added the basil into the second batch and froze them. I love having extras in the freezer for fast meals or snacks later!

The original recipe can be found here. If you haven't already figured it out Angela with Oh She Glows is the source of a majority of the things we eat around this house! All the credit goes to her! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Projects Have Taken Over

Do you ever have so much to say that you have no idea where to start? I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with so much going on in my head and outside of my head. We have been doing project after project around the house, Blake has started preschool and I have decided to recommit myself to the Tone It Up lifestyle. So where do I start? How about with the projects that have been making our house a complete disaster area!

The first project was the play room. I decided a while back that we should turn our guest room into a playroom so that we could use that space in our house. I decided with some help from my friend Megan! She asked me why we didn't make it a play room to begin with and I literally sat there dumbfounded. I had no answer for it we just didn't and I had never even thought of it. I went into action after quickly running the idea by Andrew. I swapped bedroom furniture with my parents and sold our old bed frame. As soon as the room was cleared out we (Andrew, Dad, Mom, Blake and I) ripped out the carpet. No it doesn't take that many people to rip the carpet out of a 12X14 room but we all worked on it together! Over the next few weeks I started the prep to stain the concrete in there which involves grinding the floor to get all the paint off then cleaning it up to remove all the debri. (Our house has mostly stained concrete floors. Someday it will be entirely stained concrete.) It took about 4 weeks to actually complete the playroom to a usable state. Mostly because we traveled almost every weekend once we started working on it. I'm happy to say that it's finished minus the decorations. I'm still undecided on decorations for in there. I know for sure that I want a play room sign something like this. 
The decorations are no hurry for me honestly because we have other projects in the works to finish first. Blake playing on his new rug in his finished playroom!

The next project we did was rip out our master bathroom counter and vanity. (We had a mishap with a candle that prompted the replacement of the sinks and counter tops in there.) Andrew found a great deal on a slab of granite for our master bath so we started working on replacing that while finishing up the playroom. We took the vanity all the way out and reprinted it because we have bigger plans for the bathroom! I swear just the sanding and painting of the vanity alone has driven me crazy! I hate painting cabinets! Anyway we built a shelf, put in sinks, new faucets, granite, moved the vanity, and framed out the mirror. I just need to put everything back in place and that can have a DONE stamp too! 
Midway progress
Final picture coming...

The only project we have going that has hit a stall in tearing out the tile in our kitchen. Honestly when I cut the end of my finger cleaning up te tiles I stopped working on it. Plus I am not a fan of chipping out tile. Hopefully the tile will at least be out by my birthday at the end of the month! (Hint hint!) 
Progress so far

That completes the projects for now! We will have more soon because the kitchen floor, Blake's bathroom, master bedroom and laundry room floors all need to be stained! 

Blake started preschool. That has me going crazy. I'm excited, sad, you name it. My feelings on that are enough for their own blog post! 

I have also decided to recommit myself to the Tone It Up lifestyle. I have been going back and forth with it for a while but it's time to turn the focus back on. If you are interested in joining me for the FriskyFall challenge through tone it up let me know. It's free and so much fun! 

There it is projects have been making me crazy lately. We can never have just one project going at a time. We always have multiple going which makes it so much more difficult for me. I get overwhelmed for some reason and everything gets away from me. During projects I always feel like my house is a disaster because even if I clean it there is always something that needs to be put away once the project is finished. I can breathe a huge sigh of relief as I put the vanity doors back on today and put our bathroom back together!