Friday, February 5, 2016

The 5 Components of a Perfect Toddler Meal

When it comes to dinner around here, it seems like we are constantly brainstorming new things we can make or wondering what we are currently doing wrong in the kitchen. Our kids are pretty good eaters & aren't terribly picky, although Harper lately seems to have more opinions on what we eat & she doesn't really like red meat at all unless it is in pasta. Eloise will eat anything, but makes an enormous mess out of every meal. Dinner time never fails to end in disaster one way or another. Whether the food took too long to cook (and now it's bedtime), the kids decide they hate the food and want something else or dinner was a total success, but now the kids are in bed & the kitchen is trashed. Brandon comes home at 6, and we are heading upstairs to put the kids in the tub by 7, so I like to have dinner ready right when he gets home so we can all eat together & have a little time to play afterwards. This means, I cook while all of the kids are at their wits end with the day, so it's ideal to have something that doesn't take a ton of prep work. We tried the whole meal prep route, which is great, but sometimes you have to sacrifice flavor when everything is made ahead of time, frozen, etc.

So we sat down the other night thinking, how can we make this easier on ourselves. We realized, for us, there are five components to the perfect meal, for toddlers mostly, but ideally something we can make that everyone can eat (I'm not really one to make separate meals for the kids, although if we eat spicy food we typically cook two separate things).

1. Healthy. I think we can all agree that this is the most important. We all want to feed our kids nutritious foods, things that are good for their bodies & aren't full of artificial ingredients. We do try to feed our kids mostly healthy foods, and incorporate lots of fruits & vegetables into most meals, but we also find a good balance in letting them still be kids and still have sweets & treats here and there.

2. Minimal Mess. Pasta is one of our favorite things to make, but every time we eat it, we spend an hour in the kitchen cleaning up, swearing we aren't doing it again for months. What can we make that doesn't require pressure washing the kitchen later?!

3. Minimal Prep Time. Lots of my favorite, healthy meals require lots of prep time. Whether it's cutting vegetables, cutting chicken or just too many pots on the stove. We're looking at slow cooker & one-pot meals to solve this.

4. Affordable. There are options like pre-prepped meal kits or even dining out that could solve basically all of these other issues, but they're not always affordable. Most times, even lots of really healthy food, especially all-organic, is quite a bit higher priced.

5. And your kids actually like it. You made a healthy, affordable meal, that requires minimal prep time & results in minimal messes, but the kicker, will your kids enjoy it?

So, what fits into all of those categories?! I don't really have the answer, but it would be ideal to start making a list of things that work for weeknight dinners. Weekends don't count, it's a free-for-all over here & I don't mind spending hours in the kitchen prepping/cleaning for something delicious! :)

A few things that do work for us here, are most breakfast foods. The kids do so well with oatmeal, yogurt & waffles/pancakes, topped with fruit. Lunch meat or rotisserie chicken is usually a good option as well, the girls love grilled turkey or ham & cheese sandwiches with sliced apples, bananas or oranges. Steamed edamame is another favorite, super quick, healthy & they eat every last bit. But then it comes to dinners, and it's hard to find things that fit into every category. Our plan is to work on this list & over the course of the next four weeks, come back with a solid list of dinner ideas! :)

For now, I'm sharing a few of the meals that have been on repeat this month for the kids.

Overnight oats with fruit // Yogurt, granola & blueberries with mini waffles // Grapefruit & cereal // Toast with nutella, peanut butter & cream cheese + fruit // Shredded chicken, pasta & edamame // Chicken, bacon & broccoli pasta // Chicken quesadillas + orange slices // Turkey & cheese sandwiches with apple & cucumber

For a bunch more ideas & a breakdown of what our current weekly lineup looks like (slightly different as this was a few months ago, but still very close), most of it is documented in this post! :)

So, how do you make meal time work for you? If you have any ideas of meals that fit into our five categories, please share! :) We can make this a collaborative mini-meal effort!
Happy Friday!! XO

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

DIY Valentines

It's feeling Valentines-y up in here! As if our house doesn't have enough pink, we have hung a few  decorations over the last few days & we are loving it. Fresh flowers & a bunch of little heart shaped things all over the house. These woolie ball garlands from Hooray Everyday are my very favorite! Side note, after I told Harper we were decorating for Valentine's day, she snuck into one of our cabinets with the magnetic locks while I was rocking Claire & pulled out 40 heart shaped paper plates and lined them up all over the kitchen. Go big or go home! ;)

I'm sharing some super easy, extra festive Valentines that we made, we took them to a friend's house for a play date this morning & plan to deliver a few more {with love} over the next few days.

I picked up a few kraft paper bags & glitter heart stickers from the dollar spot at Target, and we are filling them up with some fun treats. Heart balloons, some dipped pretzels made with white almond bark & festive sprinkles (almost all of these got eaten the first day, so we had to make a second batch), lollipops & bunny fruit snacks. And yes, I really wanted a good excuse to pull out the girls' envelope chair backers from a few years ago, I still need to find a coordinating one for Claire since they stopped making this exact style. Third child probs! ;)

We added some treats for the moms too, a little sparkling wine & homemade grapefruit mint sugar scrub (recipe in this post). Hopefully these treats will help them survive the Valentine's Day sugar high that all of our kids will be enjoying. 

Sealed with a kiss... or... toddler sucker slobber.

Monday, February 1, 2016

8 Things Nobody Tells You About Having Kids

We've all read posts like these, and although none of them can actually prepare us for motherhood any better, sometimes it's just reassuring to know that we aren't in this alone.
I actually thought about writing this post after I came across this photo in my old phone from shortly after Eloise was born. It was four something in the morning, my eyes were swollen from crying, my chest is covered in hives (for some reason I got them whenever I nursed her) & she is wide eyed because she never, ever slept. What everyone always tells you about having kids is that you're going to miss even the hardest times. And I remember taking this and thinking, I'm taking this photo to look back on one day, to see if I do in fact miss this. Because not only was I certain I would never miss it, but I was also not even sure if I would survive it. But here I am, alive & well, and totally missing the shit out of that very moment with that little teeny tiny baby. The nights are so long, and lonely, and they seem like they'll never end. But they do, and you'll always want them back.

1. The love is so overwhelming, that it's actually terrifying. I read an article once about how motherhood is compared to walking along side a cliff, the most beautiful, wonderful, breathtaking cliff in the world, that at any moment, you could step off of & fall to your death. Sounds great right? You literally love these little people so hard, it makes your heart hurt. Nobody can prepare you for that, and at the end of the day, it's what makes everything else worth it.

2. Sleep is a thing of the past. And not just because of your baby. If your newborn isn't waking you up all night because they're hungry, your six month old is waking you up because their paci fell out, or your 18 month old is waking you up because their sock fell off or your three year old is waking you up because they saw a big truck in their room. Or maybe, all of your kids actually slept all night, but you're awake looking at pictures of them wondering how they're growing so fast. Or you can't stop thinking about that sad article you read or maybe you can't sleep because all you had for dinner was wine. Either way, sleep? Gone forever.

3. You can strangely function on no sleep. Refer to point number two. Somehow, after sixteen days straight of only 1.5 hours of sleep per night, four cups of coffee & a banana, you can handle more shit than you ever could pre-baby. You might look like roadkill, but in reality, life is good & you are handling it like a boss.

4. You become a complete hypochondriac. You will worry like you've never worried before, you imagine the worst in every situation. every. single. time. Every cold must be pneumonia, that rash? must be a peanut allergy. And don't even get me started on how many times you'll think you or your kid has Cancer. It is scary and stressful and you will waste so many hours googling symptoms and texting your mom friends and dragging your kids to urgent care on a Saturday. You will also never forget a single sad story you ever hear & your heart will break for parents that you don't even know.

5. You will cry, a lot. Nobody really talks about the baby blues that can occur for the first few weeks after your baby is born, which results in floods of pretty much every emotion imaginable & lots and lots of tears. Crying because your baby is growing too fast, crying because you aren't actually sure if you are capable of taking care of a tiny human being, or maybe just crying because you can't stop crying. All aboard the crazy train! Just be sure to seek help from your doctor if it lasts more than a few weeks, postpartum depression is a very real, and scary thing, and in order to take care of your babies, you must first take care of yourself.

6. Just when you think things couldn't get any worse, your hair falls out. Postpartum hair loss has gotten the best of me, first it falls out, leaving you bald patches all along your hairline & your bathroom looking like chewbacca showered in there. Then it grows back, slowly but surely, leaving one inch baby hairs sticking out all over your head. So in the words of Cousin Eddie, no matter what you do, "your hair just ain't gonna look right" ;)

7. Your kids will be exactly like you in all the worst ways. All of your flaws will be magnified & thrown in your face by your sweet little angels. And your mom will probably smile thinking of all the times she told you that she hopes one day, you have a child just like you.

8. You might casually want to have a million more babies. Especially once you have three kids, which based on my experience & what I have been told by lots of moms with more than three, you kinda feel like you've hit the maximum chaos capacity. And then you start to have crazy thoughts about maybe having just one or two more.
Because, refer to point number one, that love is everything.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! We are ready to roll into the weekend & bid farewell to January. Here's are a few snaps from the week & a little update on our open shelving, we still have a little work to do cleaning up the bricks & are just waiting for brackets to arrive, we bought some last weekend & didn't love the way they looked so we returned them and found a way to make floating shelves work. Hoping they come this weekend because I am so excited to get them hung! :)

 Lots of good stuff to share for Friday Favorites, starting with Spring shopping! Gap is having a 40% off sale for kids & baby today, with an additional 20% off using code KBTREAT. I have had quite a few things in my shopping bag for a while now, including the perfect Easter pajamas for all three girls, these adorable shorts for Harper & this neon pink tutu dress that I wish they could all share! ;)

 This pink chocolate chip cookie recipe is perfect for Valentine's day, I know a few little girls who would have so much fun making these!

Addicted to Capri Blue Volcano candles like me? This Sweet Blush candle from Target smells almost identical but is half the price & also comes in a pretty mirrored holder.

Adore these customized print-your-own Valentine's by the oh-so-talented Sophie & Lili.

And saving the best for last, my favorite almost four year old has decided that she wants a mermaid party for her birthday. I sorta had a feeling she would, and started planning a few weeks ago. ;) She asked for a pink cake (again) & lots of mermaid things. She has been asking every morning if it is February yet, now we are just over two weeks away from her birthday & I can't wait to celebrate her!! 

Happy Weekend, friends!! XO

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shop Spotlight: Childhoods

One of the things I have loved most about blogging since the very beginning, is the chance to share & support small businesses, most of which are run by other mompreneurs! I get a ton of emails asking about etsy shops & small businesses that we love, and decided this would be a super fun new series to bring to the blog. Shop spotlight, where we can share some of our favorite small businesses, ran by badass moms who are infinitely more organized & self disciplined than yours truly. I look up to them & the successful businesses they run, and I want to hoard all of their beautiful handmade products forever!

First up, one of my very favorites for so many years, Childhoods! When Harper was just an itty bitty toddler, we used to pull her hair back with the cutest little french terry knotted bows. And now, all three girls rock their comfy sweatshirts & rompers.

These are the definition of go-to pieces in the girls' closets, a comfy sweatshirt (or sweatshirt dress!) for a cool day, or a one piece romper in the summer that only needs shoes & a bow to complete the look. Most of it is gender neutral, the gusset pants are the perfect little sweats to throw on over onesies. The quality is top notch, the fabrics are so soft (and colors so pretty), and Meredith, the owner, is the absolute sweetest.
We have been Childhoods customers for years & have loved watching them grow. You can use coupon code GARVINGIRLS for 10% off your purchase, including their new super comfy hoodies for moms!! ;)
Are you a Childhoods fan? Let us know if you love these as much as we do! XO

Monday, January 25, 2016

Snow Day!

We were so excited to have SNOW this weekend! Harper has been wishing for it since last year's snowstorm & we were so glad it finally came! Friday night after the girls were in bed, we sat down for a movie & I noticed out the window that the snow was starting to fall. I snapped a quick picture to show the kids in the morning because I wasn't sure it would still be there when we woke up! But we were pleasantly surprised with a light dusting of snow on the ground, and the girls couldn't get their little snow suits on fast enough after getting out of bed.
The highlight of the morning was pulling out the swan (who so gracefully hangs upside down from the ceiling in the garage) to use as a sled in the front yard.

Obsessed with this picture of Eloise sitting in the chair watching the snow fall!
We ventured back outside a few times throughout the day, since it was so cold the girls could hardly stand it for too long, but they kept wanting to go back for more. Saturday afternoon, we got ambitious and made homemade chicken noodle soup, Harper loves making homemade "doodles" and laying them all out to dry.

I'm just going to go ahead and say it, this was one of the best weekends ever. No plans, no obligations, just a lazy weekend spent in our pajamas eating lots of good food & enjoying time with each other. Can we have one snowy Saturday every month? :) 
Did you get snow as well?! Hope you all had a fun weekend !!! XO

Friday, January 22, 2016

Open Shelving Project + Inspiration

 Happy Friday!! I am sharing a little DIY project that we having going on over here, and hope to complete over the weekend. We have always loved the look of open shelving, and after making the decision to stay in our house for a while longer, we thought it would be the perfect project to take on to bring a little excitement to our kitchen!

We have a single cabinet on the wall between the kitchen & family room that already felt a little out of place, so we decided it would be a good spot for shelves. We have some brick on a few walls in the kitchen, and part of it is on this wall, so we weren't quite sure what kind of mess we would get ourselves in by trying to take some of it down, but we were hopeful that it wouldn't be too hard! Brandon & my dad were able to get the cabinet down earlier this week, and using a dremmel, cut through all of the brick that wrapped around the corner of the wall. After a little plaster work & sanding, we have a blank canvas for painting & installing shelves this weekend! Here is a little before picture, and a progress picture, I can't wait to share the finished product! 

Are you a fan of open shelving?! These are a few of my favorite inspiration photos that I have been looking at along the way. I love the idea of floating shelves, but they can be a bit tricky in terms of holding a lot of weight, we would have needed to anchor them inside of the studs behind the drywall, which wasn't an option here. So, we are on the hunt for the perfect bracket hardware, I am leaning towards brass/gold, I love the look of mixed metals.

I will always love a bright white kitchen, but that last kitchen with wood cabinets is so drool worthy! :) Hope you all stay warm & have a great weekend! XO