spring, st. louis

Spring in the City

Have I mentioned how much I love spring? Because I do. And it’s probably because I don’t suffer from allergies, unlike my husband and a couple of my children. A couple of weeks ago, we needed to get out and take some pictures so we went to an abandoned church up in the city that is covered with vines. I assumed the kids would think it was cool for the first few minutes and then whine about being there. But to my surprise, they actually loved being there. Sometimes I underestimate them–which I guess is a good thing because they exceed my expectations.

I love these group shots that make it look like the kids all line up easily and sit still haha. There’s a certain toddler who likes to make things difficult–including, but not limited to–standing up, walking away, pointing out every bird in sight (or 2 miles away, not in sight,) and irritating his sisters. I can bribe the other kids to cooperate but he’s still a little young to understand…or care.

We also hit up a beautiful flower shop where the kids helped me pick out a couple of plants.

Because it was a pretty hot day, we went to the Citygarden that evening. We hadn’t been since last summer so we were really excited to go back.

If you’ve been around long enough, you know that we’re obsessed with this splash pad in downtown St. Louis. We only go in the evenings when the parking is free and the sun is close to setting. Usually by that time the crowds are gone and we pretty much have the whole place to ourselves. It is seriously one of the most relaxing outings we can take as a family. The kids are all in their happy place and I can just snap pictures the whole time.

Clem’s double chin has to be the cutest thing ever.

And Desmond, he loves to wave to every single person (or dog) that he sees..which of course brings a smile to their faces. I wish the whole world could be as friendly as Desmond. I think it would be a happier place.

I also wish the whole world could experience joy like Kingston. When he’s having a good time, he shows it. His joy is so contagious.

It was really fun to watch Evangeline this time. Last year she was quite a bit more timid about the splashing water everywhere. This year she had no reservations and loved it just as much as her brothers.

Clem’s opinion did not match the enthusiasm of her older siblings. She doesn’t even like baths so she was content to stay far from the water.

And Desmond’s enthusiasm matched Clementine’s. He sat happily with us for the majority of the time. I’m hoping that if we pull out a water table and kiddie pool at home that he will learn to love the water. Have I mentioned how fun it is to bathe this kid? The screams he lets out from even touching his feet in the bathtub makes me worried what the neighbors are thinking. But just look at that smile from seeing a dog! (He’s a faker though. He gets excited about dogs and then hysterically screams if one comes remotely close to him.)

Our favorite part about this splash pad is that the fountains light up after dark. It’s so fun and pretty!

And now I want to go back. For real. But this weekend (meaning Don’s weekend, tomorrow and Wednesday) we will be cleaning around the house/yard and gathering things for a garage sale because we have too much stuff! So it’s not quite as exciting as getting out and playing but I’ll admit, it’s pretty exciting to me.

And on an unrelated note, Don finally compiled our videos from our trip from San Francisco last year! It’s actually terribly painful for me to watch myself and hear my voice. We never actually planned to do anything with the videos. But now I love that we have something to remember the trip by. Anyway, hope you have a great week!

Blog, Whole 30

A Picky Girl’s Guide to Whole 30

Alternate title–“How Guacamole Saved My Life.” Because you better believe I’ve incorporated it into as many meals as possible.

Okay, but seriously. This isn’t actually a guide. If you want one of those, the internet is full of those. But I wanted to keep up with my weekly progress and encourage anyone who feels like they want to do it but has no clue how they would even do it. (And also post a few family pictures, taken by our sweet friend, Mayci.)

If you have been on the internet for more than a week, you’ve probably heard of Whole 30. It was something that I had heard of at least a year ago and thought “well, there’s no way I’d last a day on that!” So I’d hear other people talking about it and think about how I wished I could try it out as well. It sounded great to go through the detox, reset my body, and see if I could learn what foods trigger reactions. And maybe, hopefully, oh please, oh please, help me lose some weight. But even after hearing a dear friend telling me about her wonderful experience with it, I thought there would be no way I would even find enough to eat. I am such a picky eater.

But as I started thinking more on it and reading more about the program, the more I thought that I could possibly do it. I gave myself a few days to think about it and decided to start the day after my “cancer free day” so I could celebrate with ice cream on that day haha. There’s no way I’m skipping out on that! There are a few events that I saw on the calendar that I would be inconvenienced by or have to miss out on. But I realized there’s never going to be a 30 day time slot with nothing going on. So I took the plunge and started on May 12th.

Day One

I woke up feeling super excited about starting. I had eggs and fruit for breakfast and a Prosciutto, lettuce, and tomato wrap for lunch. Then Don texted me and said that he thinks he wants to do it too. So now there was officially a group of 8 of us who were all going through it together. He grilled that night and I remember thinking “this is going to be so easy.” Little did I know haha.

Day Two

The excited, optimistic feeling didn’t go away when I woke up. But as the day went on, a headache started to set it. According to the Whole 30 timeline, it came right on track. So that was pretty tough. I’m already forgetting what I ate that day but I can tell you one thing, I probably was already tired of the food.

Day Three

By day 3, eggs were not sounding so great to me anymore but they were fine. My headache was gone and I was feeling better. I made a taco salad for dinner that night and all felt right with the world. Until….

Day Four

Day 4 was the hardest day so far. I woke up and felt completely weak and drained. I could barely move because my energy levels were so low. The thought of eggs made me want to gag and it took me hours of working myself up enough to actually get up and make them. As the day went on, I felt discouraged and disgusted by every thought of food. My homemade mayo failed–twice. And I couldn’t imagine going another day with these foods. I would have given up this day if I didn’t have 7 other people going through this with me. But since I didn’t want to be the quitter in the group, I forced myself to make it through the day. But then Maggi saved the day. She texted a picture of compliant ranch dressing that she had found at Whole Foods and gave me just what I needed. Hope. In the form of a bottle of ranch. Hope. That I could also find compliant ketchup. All was not lost. I still had hope. Haha dramatic much? But really, my mood perked right back up and right then and there, I knew I could make it to the end. I will admit that I ended up eating an RXbar for dinner (compliant–but totally not recommended) but at that point, it was that or nothing. I was NOT eating anything else.

Day Five

I woke up on day 5 with a renewed sense of excitement. I knew I would be getting my ranch and ketchup and felt so encouraged about the program again. I know you’re not supposed to be making treats, compliant or not. But I discovered my new favorite snack that I would consider a treat–sweet plantain chips and almond butter sprinkled with ground cinnamon. Total love. And after a day of shopping, I came home with my prizes–whole 30 approved ranch and ketchup. (spoiler alert–they taste….healthy. But they will do, I suppose.)

Day Six

AKA–sleepy day: day one. We went strawberry picking that morning and all was wonderful (blog post coming soon, hopefully!) but the rest of the day was rough because Don and I were both so sleepy. It set in right on time with the W30 calendar. Then we came home and I made spaghetti with some spaghetti squash. This was one of the meals I was so looking forward to but Don was dreading. Then I took the first bite and was disgusted haha. I’m telling you, I’m so picky. Don didn’t love the texture of the squash but he ate it all without a problem. I couldn’t eat more than a few bites. Oddly enough, I have rarely felt hungry over the past week. Though I do eat at all the meal times. But we grilled for dinner that night so all was right with the world again.

Day Seven

Yesterday was a quite a bit better. I wasn’t nearly as sleepy (the opposite of Don.) And I finally made a meal that enjoyed! Pulled pork over baked potatoes. The seasoning was perfect and hot sauce made it a bit more exciting. I have been having dreams about accidentally eating foods that are off plan–or about going to LA while being on Whole 30 and not being able to try all the amazing foods out there. Oh my! Can you imagine? But besides that, I haven’t had many problems with cravings. I do miss cheese quite a bit. And of course I would be happy with a dessert. But I’m not actually thinking very much about the foods that I can’t have. And that surprises me. We’ll see how that goes when I make homemade pizza for the kids tonight for dinner.

So that’s week one wrapped up in a blog post. I could have bored you even more by telling you every single meal or every single thought I’ve had. At this point I don’t feel like I can say much, negative or positive, about my experience. But if you are super duper picky like I am, I’m living proof that it can be done!

Have you done Whole 30 before? If so, I would be thrilled if you shared some of your absolute favorite recipes in the comments. And let me know if you have any questions. I wrote this all with kids running around me so I’m sure it’s all over the place.

Have a happy weekend!

birthday, evangeline, spring, st. louis

Four is Fantastic

I’m afraid to even put it in writing but I think we have finally exited the season of sickness in our family! The past few months were rough but I am grateful that all the sicknesses were just minor and that we are all finally back to our “normal” selves.

I’m behind on my blogging but I have multiple posts lined up if I can ever find the time to sit, edit pictures, and write. But of course I had to start with Evangeline’s birthday. On May 5th, our little Cinco de Mayo baby turned 4 years old. Our baby girl, my best friend, our firstborn daughter. The girl I had been dreaming of for so many years. There were many days when I thought I would forever be a boy mom (and that would have been perfectly okay.) But I am so thankful that I have been blessed with, not one, but TWO precious girls.

At 4 years old, Evangeline loves all things pink and purple. She loves changing her outfits approximately 357 times a day. She loves princesses, fingernail polish, lipstick, and braids. She loves My Little Pony and all things girly.

But at age 4, she also loves playing with Legos with her brothers (what she is currently doing.) She loves playing in the dirt and racing with the boys until she eventually falls over and scrapes her knees–which then leads to the next 5 hours babying those scrapes. She loves Star Wars and Transformers and doing everything her brothers do.

If you ask her her name, she will give you one of a few different answers: Miss, Missy, Miss Evangeline, and rarely, she will let you know her name is Evangeline.

She spends most of her days sitting at the table, drawing and coloring pictures. And writing “miss” in her sweet handwriting.

She is the sweetest, outgoing child with a hidden switch somewhere that turns her into a shy, stubborn, sassy little girl (I’m still working to find that switch to make sure it gets permanently set to “sweet” haha) She loves all of her siblings so much and has such a special unique relationship with each of them.

We are so blessed to have this sweet girl in our house!

On her actual birthday, we went to the usual Mcdonald’s and came home for her choice of dessert, “a heart cake.” I know you all are currently in awe and praising my decorating skills on that cake but I have to just let you know, I charge a high price for cakes like that. (Can you read the sarcasm there?)

A few days before her birthday, we headed out to the zoo for the morning. Of course it was the first nice day we had had in quite a while. We had so much raining and flooding leading up to that day so I’m pretty sure everyone flocked to the zoo all at the same time.

We ended up at the park that evening, trying to find some photo locations for a project. We ended up not caring for any backgrounds but took a few shots of the kids while we were there.

Clem’s face makes me wish for the heart eyed emoji on here.

Actually, so does Desmond. Most pictures of him involve him pointing at the sky and saying “bird” so I’m glad Don caught a candid smile as Des was running towards him.

Okay, and one more time…this picture of both of them together. Des loves his baby sister with all of his heart–he even shares big bites of his food with her. Food that she doesn’t even know how to chew. That is love.

The past 4 years have zipped by so quickly. I can barely remember Evangeline as a baby..which is so sad. But I absolutely love having this sweet 4 year old.

also–a little throwback

Evangeline’s first birthday pictures and her first birthday party

Evangeline’s second birthday

Evangeline’s third birthday

I hope you all are having a great week! I (along with Don and 6 of our closest friends) are on day 7 of Whole 30. I was actually considering writing up a few posts about it. Not as an expert, but as an honest perspective from the pickiest eater in the world. So I’m hoping to recap the first week pretty soon! In the meantime, I hope you all are thoroughly enjoying cheese right now. Because I am not 😉 Have a great day!