Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Message to Our Ava {16 months}

To our sweet Ava, 

You will be 16 months in a few days...You have become goofier, happier, and an even more lovable little girl. You are now walking, swaying to the music of your toys, saying multiple words, have become very opinionated (you definitely know how to say "NeoO!"), give kisses, and continue to be a chatterbox with your extraterrestrial sounding "words."

Tonight I took a few pictures of us ending our day while waiting for daddy to get home from work. We just sat in the kitchen after I cleaned up. I was letting you stay up after your bedtime so that daddy could see you when he got home.
 You opened and played with mommy's cookbooks, practiced walking, and continued trying to play with Cooper's food dish even after mommy told you "no, no."

It was one of those really simple, quiet nights that suddenly became one that mommy will never forget. It was actually more like the entire day, not just the night...

I watched you get excited when you:
saw which pretty bow you had in your hair as you smiled in the mirror this morning, 
saw a new friend at Barnes&Noble to play trains with, 
showed your great nana who is visiting how much you can walk now, 
knew it is your favorite "nack" (snack) time and squealed with joy, 
and when you gave me a sneaky smile because you are about to give me a kiss. 

A simple but really sweet day filled with little moments that mean so much to me. I am so grateful I get those each and every day with you. 
Tonight, I wanted to write this because I wanted you to know just how much I love getting to watch you grow each and every moment of your beautiful life. 

After we were goofing around for a bit, you were practicing walking from the end of the kitchen and headed over to me so that I could catch you at the end of your trip.

I was excited and gave you a big hug... the cuteness didn't stop there.

You looked up at me with those gorgeous blue eyes and smiled and leaned in for a kiss!
Usually, I am the one asking YOU for the kisses but tonight, you decided you wanted not 1, not 2, not 3, but 6 kisses in a row!!!!!!!

At that moment, I melted into a puddle of pure "love goo."

I had to snap a picture and send it to daddy immediately. I won't even begin to explain just how much your daddy loves you. (That's another post that mommy will have to write...) 

Just so you know, you can do NO wrong. Whatever it is, daddy will still think you are perfect. 

Example: I asked daddy the other night after we put you to bed: 

mommy: what are you going to do when there is no crib and Ava wants to sleep with us in bed every night ?

daddy: let her. 

end of discussion...

You are our whole world and it only gets better every day. You grow and become this little person who makes us smile, laugh, and leave us talking about how proud of you we are. You haven't even started school, earned a good grade, learned how to ride a bike....all you have to do is imitate mommy when I scratch my nose and you light up our whole world!

Even your friend, Cooper, thinks you're amazing!

So happy (almost) 16 amazing months, goof nugget.

I cannot wait to see just how much more joy you bring to us and everyone around you.
I love you.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fit & Fabulous + GREEN smoothie + free apps

Wednesday morning means Mommy&Me class. 
Today, Ava was at the play kitchen for a majority of the class. She colored for the 1st time today :) 
They had a coloring station set up when we first arrived. Look's like I'll have to start investing in some crafts! yay. 

Today, I was nominated for our Mommy&Me class's "Basket coordinator.".
The Amanda's Place raffle night is to raise money for the program that has about 200+ families. 
I am organizing the "Fit & Fabulous" basket that our class voted on. 
I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty excited to be the coordinator and collect all of the donated items / and purchase the rest of the "goodies" with donated money! 
Fit & Fabulous covers so much area: spa items, health goods, work out clothes or classes: yoga/ pilates/crossfit etc., family activities for the outdoors... So many things can fit into our category which is great 

(and I have tax write off papers for the donors which is always a plus!!!) 

They are aiming for a $100-200 value basket of donated items but I'm hoping to exceed that! 

I'll post the finished basket in about a month or less. I already can't wait to see which family gets the "Fit&Fabulous" basket that I will work so hard on! 
(I wonder if I am allowed to bid on it too?! Haha) 

Moving on...

Here are some free apps that help if you are wondering which brands to buy to switch out something you already use but want a healthy option instead. Hope you like them! 
And when in doubt, this little butterfly label below is the official 3rd, outside party (Non-GMO Poject) that uses it's stamp of aproval to assure customers that they have verified a product to be not genetically modified. (USDA Organic label also ensures that it is non GMO.) You may have seen these popping up more and more. Love that little label! 

And my favorite helper... Ava knows it's smoothie time when we get home from mommy&me class.
Excited as you can see
Thought I'd ask if anyone's ever tried this organic black bean spaghetti? Kind of odd haha but I thought it could be a great little addition to a taco salad or veggie tacos ?  Maybe even a fun way for kids to chow down on some healthy, gluten free spaghetti ? It is  naturallyblack so many you can name it something creative that your kid will think is cool... Nighttime noodles? I am not that creative so I am sure some mom will come up with a great little name. 
I'm going to look for it in Whole Foods next time I go.
Last night, we drove over to my mother in law's house to visit with Grandma Ann (Mark's grandma) who is in town from ND... they pulled this picture out of Luke (Mark's half brother) and Ava is a spitting imagine of him!! Looks like she and Uncle Luke are two peas in a pod. Too cute. 

Have a nice rest of the day! I'll be heading outside with Ava when she wakes form her nap and then off to who knows.  Maybe I'll find some nice donors for my basket today *hint, hint!* 


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Snapshots of Today + Things We Use & Like

Yesterday was all about cleaning for me so today we had some fun in the sun...

Packed up my to-go smoothie for Ava's playdate today in the park: 
[big handful of kale, about 5 broccoli florets (the top part), handful of: mixed banana, strawberry, blueberry, mango + add water and chia seeds = blend.] yum. 

I love the Lifefactory glass bottles which are BPA free unlike many plastic products.  They also make adorable bottles for babies too! I bought mine at Whole Foods. 
Ava already had her Born Free glass bottles that worked well for us- love those too! BuyBuyBaby carries them. 

Back to today....
We met up with our friend Sophia and her mama at the park in Coral Ridge. Ava spent more time on her feet walking around which is nice since you'd think she'd want to give her knees a break from crawling! 

Ava clapping for Sophia going down the slide! 
They wanted to slide at the same time. These two are too cute together. 

Came home and had some lunch. Ava had left overs from our dinner last night. 
[chicken cutlets dipped in egg then covered in Panko - pan fried in coconut oil - topped with a mango&cilantro purée that I blended together in the small food processor-  with a side of green beans and asperagus] and water of course. 
Our good eater :-)

I've gotten a couple questions about the powdered probiotics that Ava's been taking since she was a newborn... We like the brand Jarro Dophilus (they make adult probiotic capsules too). They are in the refrigerated section of the "Whole Body" area in Whole Foods. Once I learned about gut health and how it controls a person's overall health and immune system... it was a no brainer. 

(Ava has been sick once in her 15 months of life so far - and bounced back the following day. And trust me, I am not a germaphobe! I let her play and get messy but the probiotics are amping up her immune system full throttle.) 

It is also nice to hear that I'm not the only one that does this - far from it actually... 
All of my "healthy mom friends" (and rest of the natural, holistic health world too) take them and also give their kids probiotics as well. 
I remember when I first asked our pediatrician about them he asked me, "Well what's wrong with your daughter'a gut flora now?"
I responded, "Nothing that we know of...I'd like to keep it that way!"

He basically told me that there is nothing wrong with giving them to her, if anything they are just making her super healthy - more than she already is. 

Music to my ears. 

(Less expensive and easier to prevent illness, disorders, etc. the healthy way in my opinion)

Anyways, after lunch and an afternoon nap for Ava, we headed outside for a jog to go and visit my mom. Gotta soak up that natural vitamin D for that bone health! ;)

Later on this week, we will be getting to visit with Grandma Ann (Mark's maternal grandmother from North Dakota) 
We can't wait to show her how much Ava is walking now! I know Mark is excited to see her as well. :) I am looking forward to having a sunset, family picnic on the beach as well as taking the whole family to the Riverfront Jazz brunch that's already coming up! A lot of family fun up ahead. 

Hope you all are having a nice day! 


Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Sorry but your party is too big for a reservation"

Last night was spent at a local Ft. Lauderdale bar/restaurant called Tap42. My friend Kara was in town visiting/wedding planning and so I thought it would be nice to round up the troops so that she'd get to see most of us while she was down here. 

All it takes is one group text message and "the family" is all together. :-)

I decided on Tap42 because I had the hardest time getting a dinner reservation anywhere  (for about 20 people) on a Saturday night... A small price to pay for having a great group of friends...

At Tap, I knew we would have the room to be in or outside and have that flexibility. So here are some pictures of about half of us that were outside at the time. 
As always, it is always a great time with my friends.  Wish I had more pictures, but this is all I got. I was busy catching up with everyone... 


Annalisa, Kara, me, Makenzie, Lana

Hunter & Anthony 

Me & the guest of honor ! Love you, K! 
On my way out, I handed over my grandma's necklace to one of my best friends, Michelle. She mentioned that she liked it as she and I share a love for vintage jewelry. I trust her enough to let her hang onto it for a while. :) I gave it to her to wear because it is one of my favorite pieces that I inherited and it just reminds me of Michelle every time I wear it.
She uploaded that ^ after I had left and I saw it when I woke up this morning on my newsfeed. Made me happy.

And that's all! Another Lauderdale night with the Eastside family. Always a fun time with great friends. 

Today, I'm hoping to head towards the beach to see some of the girls and hopefully Kara one more time before she heads back to Utah. 

Happy Sunday! 


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Healthy Habits: Castile Soap We Use & Love

Hi! Hope everyone is having a nice Wednesday! I recently came across a great website that taught me all of things that I can do with the Dr. Bronner's Castile Soup we already use and love. (It is at the end of this post.) 

I first learned about Dr. Bronner's soap when my mom gave me a bottle of the almond scented one. I just ran out and am embarrassed to even say how long I had it for. She would come over and see the bottle nearly full in our shower and ask, "Are you bathing? It looks like you barely use the soap." 
She was right about one thing, I use very little because that's all you need. It is oily so you feel it spreading across you very easily. Now that I am off to buy a new bottle, I think I will try the peppermint one! 

*Funny story: I bought the Lavender one for my mother in law as one of her Christmas gifts. When she unwrapped it she said, "Thank you! I can always use more floor cleaner!" 
I quickly responded, "NO! That's body wash! I would never give you floor cleaner for Christmas...That would make me the worst daughter in law ever." 

She wasn't totally wrong I suppose. The information below will show you how to use this castile soap in many different ways around your home and even for your dog! 

I buy mine at Bed Bath & Beyond because they have the best price so far and I can also use their 20% coupon on it.
 The LARGE bottle is about $10 I believe (so $8 with the BBB coupon) and the bottle I had before is the small a large bottle will last you forever)
There are more scents than just these 4 above

These also come in bar soap options for my gentlemen friends that don't like "liquid body soap" (About $4 - Not sure if BBB carries the soap bars - I have seen them at Whole Foods though)

A little while after I started using Dr. Bronner's castile soap, I found it at Buy Buy Baby! I was so excited that I bought some for Ava and two more for baby shower gift bags that I was working on. (You can also use the 20% off coupon that Bed Bath & Beyond sends out via text, email, or mail at Buy Buy Baby since they are owned by the same company) 

I love using this non toxic wash on Ava. As a parent you already worry about what is going into your baby's body. After constantly reading about recalls and "improvements" on Johnson and Johnson baby products (removing formaldehyde for example!?!??!) I was SO over their products very quickly. At least with Dr. Bronner's being made with simple and organic oils, I don't have to worry about anything questionable going into our bodies or our daughter's. Remember, your body's largest and fastest growing organ is the epidermis - your skin.
What you put on it, goes in it (and into your body. Just because you're not eating it doesn't make it less important.) 

Castile soap, which originates from the Castile region of Spain, is a type of soap made from plant oils. It is a “true soap” and not simply a chemical detergent. It’s sensitive on skin, it’s bio-degradable and Earth-friendly making it a wonderful product to use when making your own household products.
Castile soap is incredibly versatile and can be used as a major ingredient to make all kinds of products from natural beauty items to natural cleaning supplies.
In this blog post, we will reveal how you can ditch many of the most toxic products in your home and replace with Castile soap, plus a few other natural ingredients, for a cheaper, more natural alternative.
Most of these homemade recipes call for the use of Unscented Baby Mild Liquid Castile Soap

Homemade Dish Soap
Simply replace your regular store bought dish soap with a squirt of Castile soap. It works better than any store bought alternative and it’s all natural!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

  • 1 cup liquid Castile soap
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup salt
Dissolve the baking soda and salt in the two cups of warm water. Pour into a gallon container, add the liquid Castile soap and fill to the top with water. Use 1/4 of a cup per load so this recipe is good for about 64 loads!

Homemade Dishwasher Soap

Mix 8 oz of Citrus Castile Soap with one cup of water and two teaspoons of lemon juice and shake gently.
To use add one tablespoon of the above mixture into the OPEN compartment of your dishwasher and add a cup of white vinegar to the CLOSED compartment. Add more vinegar if your water is hard.

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner

In a spray bottle, fill a quarter of the way up with white vinegar, add water to the top and then add a squirt of liquid Castile soap plus a few drops of tea tree essential oil.

Homemade Glass Cleaner

Mix half a cup of white vinegar, two teaspoons of liquid Castile soap and two cups of distilled warm water. Optionally, add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to the mixture. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, shake and spray onto your windows and clean with newspaper for a streak free finish.

Homemade Tub Scrub

Fill a spray bottle with one third Castile soap and two thirds water. Spread baking soda liberally around the bath and spray the Castile soap mixture on. Scrub with a scouring pad or scrub brush.

Homemade Face Wash

In a foaming dispenser, add one quarter cup of liquid Castile soap, fill to the top with distilled water (approx one cup) and add five drops of tea tree oil. The tea tree oil is a great antibacterial and is particularly useful for acne prone skin.

Homemade Shampoo

Making your own shampoo with Castile soap is incredibly easy, it uses only one extra natural ingredient and it lathers unlike many other homemade shampoo recipes.
Simply mix together 1 Tbsp Castile soap with one tsp coconut milk for a single serving of shampoo.  You can make this in larger batches by storing in the fridge. It will keep for at least a week.

Homemade Hand Soap

Fill a foaming hand soap dispenser with three quarters water (boiled or distilled) and one quarter unscented liquid Castile soap.
Optional: Add 1/8 of a teaspoon of essential oil – such as tea tree for its antibacterial properties, lemon for its odor killing properties or lavender for its fragrant scent.

Homemade Dog Shampoo

Make sure your dog is wet and then squeeze a couple of squirts of Peppermint Castile Soap and rub into your dogs fur until you have a nice lather. Then simply rinse off with warm water. Be sure to keep the soap out of their eyes and water out of their ears.

(Information above taken from Natural Living Ideas)


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Thursday + Valentine's Day + This morning


Heading to Myapapaya to have lunch with my childhood friend (since I was 4), Sarah! 
This is what I actually look like lately... Wearing Ava's sunglasses because she wants me to and it makes her smile :)
 I'll spare my vanity for her smiles. 

Lunch with Sarah! Lunch was delicious and heathy as always when I go to 
If you're a local, go try it out if you haven't already. "Mya" is the owners' daughter and around Ava's age. Love that little cutie. 
Sarah brought Ava two gifts. One from her that she brought back from Paris and one from our friend, Michelle. Our child is so spoiled... and I have nothing to do with it! Woohoo. So don't blame me! 
Sarah saved me because I had dropped the ball and hadn't purchased Ava a Valentine's Day outfit.


Valentine's Day! 

Mommy acting like fool for Ava laughs 
My Valentine's Day gift to Mark when he came home from work:
A man bouquet of goodies 
Mark bought Ava and I flowers, a card, and a balloon. Mark made him and I a nice seafood dinner and finished it off with drinks on the porch listening to music as usual :) Couldn't have asked for a better "Amatuer day" as we call Valentine's day... Haha.

Even though we call it that, we enjoy Valentine's Day. Mark has been a romantic since he was born I believe haha and loves writing me love notes, buying me flowers, etc. And I in turn, love doing little, cheesy things for him as well. What can I say, we love Love!

Currently: Saturday morning

Mark waking Ava up with her balloon! She loves it so much - funny to watch her squeal in excitement over it..

Goof nugget...

Today we are off to run earrands and then to a dinner picnic on the beach with family and friends.

Hope you all have a great Saturday! 


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mommy & Me Wednesday

This morning, Ava and I had Mommy&Me class. 
Today's "activity" was actually a photo by the kissing booth. 
So cute and less clean up! Haha 

She wasn't that into it as you can tell by her facial expression haha. She wanted to go play with her friends since we had just arrived a second before that. 

We even matched today on accident :) What can I say... I like navy & stripes on anything ! 

Don't let the big bow fool you...Ava usually ends up in the ball pit throwing footballs. Daddy would be proud. 

She loves the twins 

Play dough !? What's that?! 
I'll admit, I haven't done this with her because I'm afraid I'll look the other way and she'll eat it... 
I'll find a natural-non toxic play dough recipe to make some for her at home. She was actually more excited about te rolling pin and held on to it for a majority of the class.  That's more than I've ever used a rolling pin...ha 

Happy Hump Day!