Sunday, May 17, 2015

Life according to my phone...

This is a new record for me as of late!  2 posts in 5 days?!?!  What?!!!  Unheard of!

So here is what has been going on according to my phone (and a couple other pics that aren't from my phone)...

Stopped in Williamsburg on my way to Des Moines a couple of weeks ago and they had 50% off all women's clearance that pretty much made my week!  I got shirts for 0.48!!!  Amazing!

While in Des Moines, I got to go to The Lion King with these beauties and their mama and grandma and my other sister in law, Sara and my mother in law.  I saw it years ago and it was JUST as wonderful the 2nd time!

Paleo is on full force for fact, I've stuck with Whole30 past my 30 days...and it didn't stop me from celebrating Cinco de Mayo with some yummy paleo Mexican food!

Mother's Day was wonderful.  I had a great day and even got some fun gifts...Sean surprised me with this beautiful scarf!

Then we got to celebrate my mom, the most amazing mom in the world in Muscatine with my whole family.  Fun fun!

I can't believe it's that time of the year, but our summer list is done and ready to have some items crossed off!

Don't even get me started on the disgustingness (it's a word, in my vocabulary at least) of my boys' bathroom.  It's appalling.  I can clean their sink and 2 days later it will look like this.  And don't get me started on their toilet and pee....everywhere.  Yuck!

Cason's last day of preschool was Thursday.  He has an amazing teacher that loves him and that he adores.

I made zoodles for the first time (zucchini noodles) and they were SO GOOD!  This awesome vegetable slicer is going to change our paleo lives!  Welcome to our world paleo "pasta", can't wait to add some recipes to the menu!

Another one of my Mother's Day gifts from Sean and the boys.  Have you heard of Boymom?  Cute stuff...and they have some Girlmom stuff too!  I got 2 shirts...this one, since my boys are soccer lovers and another that reads (My Boys - My (super) Heroes.  Love them!

The NKF Kidney walk was yesterday.  I helped plan the event and had a great time supporting an important cause.  It was wonderful to have family and friends come out and walk with Wesley's Warriors and also support us with donations.  Thank you means so much to us!

This week is the big boys' last full week of school...then they have Memorial Day off and go 2 1/2 more days after that.  THEN SUMMER!!!!  I am SORT OF ready.  We have a busy summer ahead and while I LOVE spending time with my boys and doing fun family things, it is also nice to have a few free hours a day while all 3 are at school. :)  Now that Cason is done with school, I have him full time again which is easing me into a new routine.  Can't wait for the warm weather to stay and for some pool time and vacations!

Bring on summer!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Massive Update...because it's been so long!

So now it's been 2 months since I've posted?!  Yikes!  I love having this blog to look back on from years past, but I am finding it harder and harder to keep up with it as our lives get busier and busier!  I will continue to do my best, but most of my life is documented on Facebook these days.

Health Update:
I went off the wagon with my eating for a couple of months and gained a few pounds (ahem...8 lbs to be exact!) back.  I guess I assumed that I wouldn't because I have remained consistent with my working out, but I was wrong about that!  Weight loss (for me at least) happens at the dinner table...period.  It certainly boosts my results that I am working out, but when I fall off the diet wagon, my working out doesn't make up for that.  Soooo...lesson learned!

I got back on Whole30 (which I LOVE...I feel sooo much better when I am not eating dairy, grains or processed foods!) and yesterday was my last day with it.  I weighed myself this morning and found that my 30 days on the program helped me to shed off 15lbs!  I'll take it!  I don't think I will be done...I would like to lose 10 more pounds before switching back to normal paleo.  We'll see how that works.  :)

I am still doing the gym 5-6 days a week and doing some running outdoors again now that the weather is nicer.  Body Pump is my favorite class and I have even started getting Sean to go...he loves it too!

Cason Update:
Cason's last day of preschool for this year is this Thursday!  He is going to do the summer program, so that will be good for him, but he has several weeks off starting Thursday afternoon!  He will probably wonder what on earth is going on.  He LOVES school! He has the most incredible teachers and his year alone made me realize how worth it it was for us to make the huge life decision to up and move to the district last year.  For us, and our family needs, it was the best choice.  He has accomplished so many things this year...he wears his glasses all the time now, matches colors, speaks so much more functionally and has matured socially as well!  He loves music and can sing every song (on key!) that plays on the radio.  It's so crazy and awesome!

Wesley Update:
Kindergarten was a rough transition for Wesley as so much more was expected of him this year than in years past, but the team at his school has been amazing at working with him to provide for him what he needs to be successful.  His academic IEP was dropped at the beginning of the year because he tested on target and has remained above that benchmark all year!  He struggles in many areas, but seems to remain JUST above that threshold. :)  His behavior has been up and down...he struggles maintaining focus.  He is now working with a school based therapist from Vera French who we really like and has been diagnosed with ADHD and they are concerned about some attachment disorders...neither of which are surprising to Sean or I.  He is so well known in the school....I swear, every child in that school knows him!  I've never seen anything like it!  We will even be at HyVee or WalMart and multiple adults will pass us and say "Hi Wesley!" and I will have no idea who they are!  So funny!  He is such an, he is going to be great at athletics.  He did great in soccer this year and really enjoys any sport he can play.  Wesley will take part in the summer school program as well which he is looking forward to.  We are proud of all that he has accomplished this year.  He has started to read and has really grown academically and in the last few weeks has really made amazing strides in improving some of his behavioral challenges as well!  I hate to even type out the words, but this has been Wesley's healthiest year yet!  He hasn't had a hospital stay for over a year and has hardly gotten sick at all.  Thank goodness!

Tate Update:
Starting 2nd grade at a new school proved to be difficult for Tate as well.  Academically, he has been great, but he struggled to make friends and his teacher had some health issues this year which caused her to be out for extended periods of time.  She was such a wonderful teacher for him though and we are glad he had her.  He probably needed some of that inconsistency to force him to learn coping skills, but it was hard for him at times.  Those of you who know him know that Tate needs consistency!  It took a while, but in just the last few months, Tate has really started to make friends.  It was never his peers that didn't want to be friends with him, it was more him not agreeing to play with them when they asked or him just preferring to be alone.  He started playing soccer which he is actually really good at and really enjoys!  He looks forward to playing again in the fall.  We are thrilled that he found a sport that he enjoys!  We believe that soccer may have been a factor in helping him come out of his shell.  He did start cub scouts back in the fall, but after the first few meetings, it became a struggle as he didn't enjoy it and didn't want to go.  We kept him in for several months and tried to help him enjoy it more, but once he joined soccer and continued to not want to do cub scouts, we gave in and let him quit. :/  We just don't know that cub scouts is his "thing".  We are hopeful that in 3rd grade, Tate will continue to make friends and continue to grow and mature more socially.  We are so proud of him and the things that he has accomplished this year and the ways that he has surprised us.  He has stepped out of his comfort zone more than once and actually enjoyed his new ventures on several of the occasions.

This summer will be a busy one!  Between a few trips we are taking, some work around our house we are doing, my photography businesses being busier than ever this year and the 2 littles participating in summer school, we are jam packed!  Glad this is a longer summer so we can fit it all in. :)

Our nephew Bode turns 10 at the beginning of July so that means we will have a fun 10th birthday trip for him!  We've been planning his trip for a few months now and look forward to surprising him.  For those that don't know, 4 years ago we started a tradition with our oldest nephew that when all of our nieces and nephews turn 10, we take them on a short getaway.  So far, we've only had 2 turn 10.  We took Brigg to St. Louis for 2 nights and went to 2 Cardinals games and stayed in a hotel and had fun dinners out.  We went to the Magic House and the zoo.  It was an amazing trip!  Then, for Lani a year and a half ago, we took the train and stayed in downtown Chicago for 2 nights and I took her to see Wicked.  We never tell our nieces/nephews when we will show up and say, "let's go, we're taking you for a couple of days!" so it makes it a huge surprise.  After Bode turns 10, we have Leah and Tyler that turn 10 in January.  They will be SUPER surprised because they are the oldest on the Peakin side and don't know of this tradition yet!

So our trip with Bode will be at the end of June, then we are going on a family vacation in July with just the 5 of us.  We are going to Colorado...spending a few nights in Denver and then heading up to Winter Park for a couple of nights.  We are driving so we plan to hit the zoo in Omaha on the way.  Can't wait for a family vacation to somewhere fun and new that the kids have never been!  Then in August, Sean and I get to go on our 10 year anniversary trip (11 months late...ha!) to St. Lucia.  We had been planning to take a trip to Italy, but to make a long story short, plans changed because of a few fears I had about traveling over seas right now.  So St. Lucia it is!  It is another destination that I've been wanting to go to since I learned about it back in 1999 when I met someone from there while in school.  We are SUPER excited to get some time away just the 2 of us and relax!

To say our summer will be busy is pretty much an understatement!  All fun things, but busy none the less.  Hoping I can find time to keep this blog updated more often amidst all of the other things we have going on this summer.  The boys still have 2 weeks of school left, but then BRING ON SUMMER!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Journey to update

I just realized that I haven't written a blog post (aside from my cabbage rolls recipe I posted last night!) for a month and a half!  Yikes!

I thought it was time I posted an update as I have recently had lots of people ask how things are going with my diet/exercise.  So here's the low down...

My diet...I wouldn't say I've fallen off of the paleo wagon, but I am definitely holding on and being drug by it. ;)  I cook paleo 90% of the time at home.  When I go out, I am conscious of my choices, but definitely haven't stuck to paleo.  And you know what?  I can tell...not in my weightloss, but in how I FEEL.  Eating paleo just makes you FEEL good.  Period.  I stay away from pop (unless I am drinking a cocktail, which is rare it seems) and have really tried to avoid cheese...well, dairy in general.  I have continued to lose a slower rate (and much slower than I would like to!), but it's still going in the right direction.  I would like to get back to full paleo soon.  Or at least be better about it when I go out.

I ate this one night in the last month...and have had several other desserts that I didn't photograph!

The fact that I am still losing weight might be a bit of a miracle! lol

However, when I eat like that, I work out extra hard...I do machines and then walk and plank and do stairs and do Body Pump.  I work out hard when I go to the Y and now am super excited to be able to start running outside!

The ARC at the Y kicks my a$$!  I have a serious love/hate relationship with it.  I love it when I am done and I see this...

I recently got a Fitbit Charge HR and am a slave to it.  Seriously, it is going to probably be the reason I lose weight...I've already lost another pound since having it and it's only been 5 days!  It's amazing...I log all of the food I eat and every ounce of water I drink.  It tracks everything!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

And I still have to say that having working out buddies has been my saving grace...the reason I haven't given up.  I can't say enough how thankful I am that Sam has motivated me and kept me going to the Y even on days when I just wanted to sit on the couch...I hope I have done the same for her!  Even Lisa has started to join us every now and again!

And the consistency and how hard we are pushing is working.  We are getting stronger every time we go.  I am so proud of us!  It feels so good!

And when I'm down in the dumps and feeling lazy, the best way to motivate me to go to the gym is to buy some new, crazy, fun workout clothes, and then I HAVE to go to the gym because I need to wear my new clothes! LOL

These pants are my fave...and they are crazy and Lisa and Sam make fun of me for wearing them, but I love them.  They match my crazy personality.  I like things that most people don't! Ha!

On the horizon for me?  Color the Quads, Inflatable 5k and I think I am even going to run the Bix for the first time!  Eek!  A little nervous about that.  And my sister is trying to talk me into a sprint triathlon in the fall.  We'll see!

So there is my update...healthier every day (aside from this stupid cold I am battling right now!) and stronger every day...and with the help of my Fitbit and my friends holding me accountable, hoping I will continue to be LIGHTER every day!

Monday, March 09, 2015

Cabbage Rolls Recipe

(These are not Paleo, but could be changed up to be paleo pretty easily)

I have never made cabbage rolls...or eaten them, but have wanted to for a loooong time.  And tonight I just made a super simple recipe, but they were super good!  Now that I've made them and my ENTIRE family LOVED devoured them, I will now know how to change them up and make them a bit more flavorful next time.  I think the next time I make them, I will use ground sausage for more flavor.  So here is my recipe that I created by mixing a few different cabbage roll recipes I found online. :)


1 head of cabbage (this made 14 rolls for me, so 14 large leaves...some I used 2 smaller leaves)
1 lb ground beef (or sausage)
1 egg
1/3 cup uncooked white rice (or brown)
1 jar marinara sauce
1/2 onion
garlic salt (I didn't measure...maybe a couple teaspoons?)
salt and pepper

Cook your rice and mix it with your ground beef/sausage, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 jar of marinara sauce, garlic salt, chopped fresh basil (you could use dry basil) and your onion.  Don't go to light on the seasoning, because I was pretty liberal with mine and worried it may be too salty, but it wasn't at all.  Boil some water and put your cabbage leaves in for about 3-4 minutes.  Take out and drain and pat them dry.  I cut out the tough rib on the end of the leaf so there was a V shaped cut out of the end.  Roll a spoonful of meat into the cabbage leaves...roll them so that  the ends are tucked in and no meat is showing.  Place them in a large saute pan and pour the remainder of the marinara sauce on top.  Put on medium-high heat until the sauce starts to boil and then turn down, cover and let simmer for about 35-40 min.  One of the recipes I saw said you could put cheese on top.  We didn't do that, but it would have been good, I bet. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tate in the Kitchen - Paleo Pumpkin Spice Granola

This stuff is a staple in our house...we almost always have a batch on hand!

What you need:

1 cup dried cranberries
2 cups plantain chips (or banana chips)
2 cups almond slices
2 cups coconut (unsweetened)
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
2/3 cup Coconut Oil
1/2 cup raw honey
4 Tbls Pure Maple Syrup
2 Tbls Pumpkin Spice Spice
1/2 tsp salt
2tsp Vanilla Extract

Pre-Heat to 300 degrees.

Mix all of the nuts, seeds, coconut, plantain/banana chips, dried cranberries, salt and the pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.

In a sauce pan, heat up the coconut oil, honey, maple syrup and vanilla extract until it is all melted together.  Pour the mixture on top of the nut/seed mixture and stir together to make sure everything is coated with the liquid mixture.

Pour everything onto cookie sheets on parchment paper...I use silpats.  Bake for 25 minutes and then take out of the oven and cool before breaking it apart.

This makes a TON, so you could cut it in half if you don't want that much. :)

I eat it like cereal with almond milk over it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Something happened yesterday...

Wesley's story is complicated and the details are not something I plan to disclose, but yesterday for the first time, something was the conversation we had...

Wesley: "Mommy?  What was I called when I was a little baby?"

Me: "What do you mean?  What was your name?"

Wesley: "What did the girl who I grew in her tummy call me?"

Me:  "She called you Wesley, that is the name she gave you when you were born."

Wesley: "My name was Wesley when I was a little baby?!"

Me:  "Yes.  That was the name your birth mom gave you...your name has always been Wesley."

Wesley: "My birth mom?  Do I have a birth daddy?"

Me:  "Yes.  Your birth dad's name is Wesley also!  You were named after him.  You know how Tate's birth daddy is named Brandon?  Your birth daddy is named, Wesley."

Wesley:  (giggling) "That is silly!  Are you almost done with my hair?  I want to go play."

And that was it.

That is pretty much how things go...any serious conversation doesn't last long with Tate OR Wes, but Wesley has also NEVER asked about his birth parents.  It is something I have thought A LOT about and how I might respond to what questions he might have.  I am nervous about a lot of it...I want to say/do the right things for him and also for our family.  I want him to know where he comes from, but also want to protect him from knowing the "bad" stuff.  I don't know that I can.  He's 6...these questions were bound to start coming out.  I was caught off guard by it last night and now can't stop thinking about that short exchange.  I know this is just the beginning.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tate in the Kitchen: Crockpot Balsamic Glazed Drumsticks

What you need:

16 Chicken Drumsticks
6 TBLSP Coconut or Olive Oil
1 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
6 TBLSP Soy Sauce (or Tamari if you are GF)
2 TBLSP Honey

You are SUPPOSED to Marinate the chicken drumsticks in this mixture for 24 hours or put the mixture and drumsticks in a freezer bag for later.  Then, put in the crockpot for 8 hours.  However, we didn't plan ahead and we just put frozen drumsticks directly into the crockpot and poured all of these ingredients on top and let cook for 8 hours and they were sooooo delicious!  The chicken was falling off of the bone and it was super flavorful!

Tate in the Kitchen : Roasted Vegetables

In an effort to get back in the habit of blogging more, I am going to TRY to start a bit of a series here on my blog called "Tate in the Kitchen".  I will post each time Tate makes does his cooking and include the recipe.  Obviously, the dishes will be super easy as he is the one making them completely on his own, but so far the last two things he has cooked were DEEEELISH!  Maybe for my friends out there who have kiddos his age, they will be able to have their kiddos make some of these dishes too! :)

Roasted Veggies:

Use the veggies you like, we roast lots of different kinds of veggies, but this time we did broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and onions.

Pre-Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Put your veggies in an even layer on the pan and and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 10 minutes, flip them over and roast for approximately 10 more minutes.

That's it!