Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's been a while...

I haven't just posted random thoughts on here for a while.  Turns out, having 3 kids and a photography business is a lot of work!  Who would have thunk?!  :)

So what should I write about?  Hmmmm...

Well, Jennie Peakin Photography is going to be featured in the October edition of Quad Cities Gold Book thanks to my lovely friend, Leslie who writes for the Gold Book. :)  I am excited to continue to grow my business.  I am quite busy with Jennie Peakin Photography, but would love to expand out a bit and get some more birth sessions (my favorite!) and would love to continue booking weddings for Vantage Nine19.

Today I was contacted about an exciting event!  A couple of years ago, we walked the Kidney Walk for the National Kidney Foundation...a foundation near and dear to our hearts.  We were honored to walk and raise money for the NKF and awareness for all who were willing to hear. :)  Well, I was asked to be on the planning committee for a new NKF Eastern Iowa Kidney Walk that will be held in the QCA!  I can't wait to do all I can to help make this event a success not only this year, but in the years ahead.  So be will be hearing a lot more about this event as things come together.  And to all of my family and friends, I hope you will join us at the NKF Eastern Iowa Kidney Walk this spring!

School being back in session (for all FOUR boys) has gotten us back into a routine a bit more.  We are thrilled with PV Schools still and love sending our kids to school each day.  They love it.  I am happy that we are back in a routine and thrilled that I have a few hours alone each day to get editing, housework and errands taken care of.  Wesley starts soccer in a couple of weeks and I think that Tate is going to be in Cub Scouts!  Finally something he says he wants to do!  Well, as of tonight he wants to, but he isn't always terribly excited and willing when things all come down to it.  I feel like we are approaching a new chapter in our lives where we are going to be running our boys to sports and cub scouts and revolving our schedules around their event schedules.  Wesley wants to be in every sport possible, so I know that he is going to keep us busy!

Speaking of busy...we are getting to that time of year!  You know, Sean's birthday, my birthday, our anniversary and Tate's birthday...all packed within a 3 1/2 week period of time!  It's always nuts.  And then there is the weekend Hawkeye game watching that happens every Saturday...which we LOVE!  We are ready for some Hawkeye Football for sure!!!  I cannot believe Tate is going to be EIGHT!  His birthday parties have gotten a bit out of control and when I counted up how many people would be invited, it was pushing 45 people!  With the move into our new home and the setup we have, we just can't accommodate that many people as easily as we could have at our old home.  Our set up at our old home with the large screened in porch space was so much better to spread out in and if the weather isn't good, we won't have a place to go outside like we did when we lived in Davenport.  Sean and I tossed so many ideas back and forth and Tate REALLY wanted to have his birthday at HOME.  So we decided to not do the big bash this year like we had in the past.  We will celebrate that day with all of his local friends (who happen to be our family friends, so their parents will be coming as well) and then we will be doing a couple of other separate celebrations.  Not sure how much better it will be...lots of celebrations or all done in one shot with a super big one, but we're trying it out this way this year!

Wesley wants to have a bowling or Monkey Joe's birthday party this funny how those two are SO DIFFERENT!  It's crazy to think that we are even THINKING about Wesley's December birthday!  We already booked our Annual Christmas vacation with Mike and Sarah and family too!  Nuts how quickly time flies!

I am not ready for the COLD, but I am definitely ready for some cooler not 90+ degrees.  I could deal with sweatshirts in the evenings.  I love fall...aside from the ridiculous allergies that take over me this time of year!

Happy Fall everyone!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

This is why we moved...

For this feeling that we're having right now.
The feeling of complete peace and comfort with where are boys are getting their education...the environment they are in, the care and concern for their needs that the administrative personnel has.  This is why we moved...because of this

Cason was supposed to start school in January and we did not send him.  The amount of discomfort and stress and worry we were having by sending him to the only preschool that could accommodate his needs was just too  much.  We had struggles at that school with Wesley too and it came down to our big decision of whether we should move or not.  Open enrollment for special education was not an option.  We spoke with our  neighboring districts extensively and did our research.

It was a no brainer...we needed to be in PV District for our boys specific needs and for what WE were looking for in the schools for our boys.  Period.  We listed our house and a couple of weeks later bought the house we live in now.  It was a hard decision to make to move from a home we loved and into a new school district.  However, we have never regretted it!  We have been in constant communication with the boys' schools and teachers and we are just so impressed!  We are so happy, excited and RELIEVED!

And when I sent this one off to school today for the first time...put him in the care of people who hardly know him and his quirks and who have only spent a handful of minutes with him, I walked away confident and with a smile on my face.  And he ran away from us with pure joy!  I know we made the right decision...TODAY was the reason we moved.  I have confidence that we will look back on this decision we made and know that it was probably one of the best decisions of our lives for our boys.

Cason is in Preschool!

Wesley is in Kindergarten!

Tate is in 2nd Grade!

This is almost all of my heart right here...and they are all in school today.  I cannot believe how much I have been blessed to be their Mommy!  I don't deserve them!

Monday, August 18, 2014

What do our kids eat?

They eat a lot of crap.

You can't deny that processed foods and limitless amounts of ranch dressing and sweets are bad.  There is just no argument there.  However, our kids (aside from Cason) are ruined.  They love that stuff.  I mean, so do I!

So how do we address that?!  Well, with time...lots of time.  We can't switch what they eat overnight and we don't ever plan to completely say that all of that stuff is off limits.  We just want them to have better habits and that starts at home.  We were taking tiny baby steps before...and now the steps are just sort of baby steps...a little bit bigger baby steps than what we were taking.

So I made fried fish the other night and Tate loved it.  It was paleo and yummy and so with more fish sticks!  Baby steps. 

I threw away all of our candy in the cupboard because c'mon...why on earth does a child need to eat candy regularly...period.  They will get some more on Halloween, and they will eat some of it and I will be fine with that...and then it will go in the garbage shortly after.  Baby steps.

The kids like fresh fruit...and we have it in the house.  So why would I open a can of fruit with dinner every night?!  I won't.  They will eat watermelon and grapes and apples and bananas, not pears in heavy syrup.   They love mandarin oranges and I will still feed them to the boys for now every now and again even though they aren't good for them in that syrup.  Baby steps.

The boys love sandwiches with lunch meat...I will buy the Hormel lunch meat with no preservatives or artificial ingredients instead of the cheapest stuff I can find.  Baby steps.

So these are the changes so far and each week or month we plan to replace some of the crap they eat with a healthier alternative.  It will probably take years to change these horrible habits.  The good thing is that at least ONE of our kids will eat ANYTHING and we are even being better about what we feed him.  There is just no reason for Cason to develop a taste for unhealthy things.  Healthy food is delicious!!!  So we are being more aware of what goes in his mouth as well.  No, we won't never let him have special things like cake on his birthday or treats now and again, but we are going to be extra aware of what he eats so not to ruin his eating habits like we have ruined Wesley and Tate's.  It's our fault they eat the way they do...period.  We need to fix it.

We know that the kids will go to sleepovers and eat pizza and Hostess snacks and candy and that we'll go out to eat and they will want crap.  We are realistic in knowing that these things are things they will eat, but we hope to change their tastes for things.  Hopefully by working on them for the 95% of the time that they are at home, they will start to prefer the things that are better to put into their bodies.  It's going to be a's still a huge process for Sean and I every day!  We are praying we can take the time and effort and do the work it requires to change ALL of our eating habits for the better.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What do we eat?

I have had lots of people intrigued with what exactly Sean and I are eating now that we are eating Paleo.  Honestly, it varies.  I decided to try and go through what a typical week might look like for us.

First of all, at the beginning of the week, we have found it works best if we cook up a couple of large, inexpensive steaks and several chicken breasts.  I have a griddle that is on top of my stove (which I don't know what I would do without!) and I make both the steaks and chicken breasts on there.  When they are done, I cut half of the steaks into strips and package them in individual baggies for topping a salad and then I cut the remaining steak into 4 pieces of steak and package those in a baggie as well.  I do the same with the chicken breasts...cut half of the breasts (I usually make 6) into strips and package in individual baggies for topping salads with and then the remaining breasts and put in a baggie together that I can heat up throughout the week.  All of this meet usually covers Sean and I for about 5 lunches each.

Breakfast: Sean eats an apple and a banana almost every morning for breakfast.  I eat fruit for breakfast most of the time as well.  A banana is common for me, but I will eat whatever we have.  If I don't get around to eating until mid/late morning, I will sometimes eat a larger meal for brunch and not eat lunch.  This would consist of either some of the strips of meat I have prepared along with some over easy eggs and some fruit or sometimes bacon and eggs and fruit.  Also, there is a sweet potato hash that is yummy (I will have to do a post on my favorite recipes) that has potatoes, onions and sausage in it.

Lunch:  We eat a lot of salads with our strip meat on the top and other raw veggies we have (carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower)  and we dress our salads with different things, but we love the Roasted Red Pepper Annie's dressing you can find in HyVee's healthfood market.  We also sometimes make the prepared steaks and chicken breasts we have and eat those with raw veggies and sometimes will fry up and egg to eat with those as well.  Otherwise, we will eat leftovers from the night before or sometimes saute up some veggies in coconut oil or cut a zucchini in half lengthwise, drizzle in olive oil or spread some ghee on it and season with sea salt, pepper, garlic and put in the oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes.  We almost always eat some sort of fruit with every meal as well.

Snacks:  Both Sean and I snack on cashews, pistachios and almonds a lot.  I also snack on fruit or carrots and celery a lot.

Dinner:  We find ourselves eating some form of protein (grilled steaks, chicken, kabobs, roast, pork chops, fish) and at least 4 nights a week we roast veggies.  It is our favorite and never gets old.  We roast all kinds of veggies (brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, celery, carrots, leeks, cabbage...pretty much anything!).  The way we like to roast them is by spreading the cut veggies onto a baking sheet and drizzling with coconut or olive oil and sprinkling with sea salt and fresh ground pepper and roasting for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, flipping the veggies over so they don't burn on one side and then roasting them for an additional 7-10 minutes.  MMMMM...they are soooo good!  Sometimes we will just eat a salad with our protein or even raw veggies too.  I have recently discovered and fallen in love with frying food with a mixture of almond and coconut flour, sea salt and pepper...dip your protein in egg, into the flour mixture, back into egg and then into the flour mixture again.  We fry it in a skillet with coconut's sooooo good!  Also, we bake fish with lemon a lot as well.  I have a couple paleo soup recipes I really love also!  We have made burgers and lettuce wrapped them, made italian chicken and lettuce wrapped it, made our own version of tacos by browning ground beef and seasoning with cumin, chili powder and adding lime juice, peppers, tomatoes, onions and wrapping in lettuce.  I found a paleo tortilla recipe that I am excited to try as well. :)  We don't feel limited with options at all and don't often do the same thing more than a couple of times.  Pinterest is amazing for finding simple paleo recipes and I use it a lot!

We are still going strong and both LOVING it!  Sean has lost close to 20lbs in these last 5 weeks in just changing his diet and as I have said before, I have no idea how much I have lost because I don't weigh myself. :)  What I can say is that I am fitting into clothes easily that I wasn't even close to squeezing into only 5 weeks ago.  I would say that I have lost almost 2 pants sizes.

Some of the other changes I have noticed...

NOT A SINGLE HEADACHE IN A MONTH!!!!  This is unheard of for me...a girl who got a terribly debilitating migraine about once a week and minor headaches at some point at least every other day!

I have more energy...I'm just simply not tired all the time.

Less aches and pains...I can't explain how diet changes this, but it's the truth.  I just FEEL better.

No heartburn/indigestion...again, this was a huge issue for me before, and it's GONE!

Less skin skin just looks clearer.

My hair is not ever.  This was oddly one of the FIRST things I noticed when eating paleo both times I've tried.

I am just in a better mood...I just feel mentally healthier.  Again, not something I would have expected from changing my diet, but it's the truth!

Maybe I'll post some of our favorite recipes here in the near future!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

1 month eating Paleo update...

I am still going strong peeps!  :)  Sean is too!  Weirdly, I am proud of the fact that I ate a tiny piece of cake a couple of days ago at my brother's birthday celebration and it didn't ruin me.  Imagine that!  I actually am not craving cake or sweets anymore than I was prior to eating that few bites of cake.

I am still not working out though. :/  I called Anytime Fitness today though to see about a trial membership to see if I will like it.  So that counts as a step in the right direction, right?!  I am excited to start running and hoping I can do some other forms of exercise as well and will have another option for working out besides running outside once it gets super cold out.

And I still am not stepping on the scale.  I love not being so concerned about the scale.  I can tell in my clothes that the weight is coming off and that makes me happy and keeps me going.  And I like Paleo eating.  It's expensive...I don't like THAT part.  We are able to eat a pretty big variety of things and I am a huge fan of meat, veggies and fruits so it's a good diet for me.  Oh, and eggs...I eat eggs pretty regularly.  I miss desserts.  I miss dairy...I miss cheese and milk.  And chocolate...I miss chocolate.  Not so much that I am going crazy though.  And I plan to hopefully get to a point where every once in a great while, I can eat a little of those things as a treat.

Mostly, I FEEL good eating clean.  I feel like I am putting things in my body that are good for it.  I haven't had a headache in WEEKS!  That is so worth everything!  And I am losing weight...being healthy is the goal and with that will come weight least that's the plan!

It's been just over a month since we started eating Paleo...Sean has lost over 15lbs (all the while, never giving up beer:)) and I have no idea how much I've lost, which I am FINE with!  We both feel great and are enjoying this diet.  Most often, it is actually pretty easy to do!