Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day at Bedner's Farm

We took the girls up to Bedner's Farm about a week ago to play in the pumpkin patch, see the farm animals, and sip some refreshing apple cider. It was a great day spent with the girls, my husband, my mom, and our good friends Ryan and Nicole. 
One of the best parts was watching Elle trying to eat the pumpkin stems (teething) and Ava wondering around and exploring the farm. 

Our friend, Nicole, is a talented photographer and took these photos. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Thank you, Nicole!

This girl loves to eat her feet. 

Picking out her favorite pumpkin 

My little beauty

I seriously kiss her all day long. I love her so much.

This made me laugh. I can just hear Ava now being cranky: "No way, baby Elle!" 

I mean... that face!
Another happy McGuire baby! 

Ava's favorite seat

About to check out the corn maze 

Loves his beard so much

Bounce house time!

Ava's serious face is still beautiful to me 

Elle's "ducky feather" hair is the best

My world

Riding "rainbow horse"

Trying to get away and chew on a pumpkin stem

Thank you, Nicole! I am beyond grateful for these pictures of my family at the farm. My husband loved these pictures as much as he did. I am almost positive I saw a tear when I told him that these will be photos streaming across a slideshow when he dances with his daughters at their weddings. We love our girls so much and appreciate these memories that were captured so much. 


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ava's Home Preschooling

I thought I would share some fun things that we are doing around here with Ava. Let me start off by saying that I LOVE these free printable Preschool packs! 
We are currently using this one that I found on Pinterest.  There are a ton of these in addition to free printable toddler crafting packets that we are having fun with.

Mark and I decided against Ava starting VPK classes this Fall. (Mostly Mark though... haha)  He likes having her home with me while she is this young (and so do I!)
 I am grateful that we have the ability for me to be home with the girls right now. 

I do feel like there is pressure to enroll your toddler in a VPK program at a young age these days. (Or it is probably just in my head!) I will say that sometimes I feel guilty as if I am doing something wrong as a parent  because she isn't in a school setting being "socialized" with other kids. On the other hand, I talk to other moms that would love to be home with their young children but cannot. 

I think whether you do or don't do something as a parent, you will always question your decisions. I just have to continue to do what feels right for our family and worry about OUR family. 
She will probably start school when she is 5. She will start later since she is a November birthday and has to wait another full year until school begins. As a November birthday myself, I will say that I enjoyed being one of the oldest in my class when I was younger. So until then, we will be learning all things VPK at home. 
Who knows though...  Anything can change I suppose. So I will say "for now" instead.

Learning how to circle the amount of turkeys that she counted. 

Learning how to match the different colored turkeys. She loved this one. 

We follow the completed activities with a sticker for a job well done.

A healthy snack idea: 

I prefer giving her the Plain Greek yogurt mixed with some crushed pineapple for some sweet flavor but this is all I had today. (I added some chopped up banana because she asked for that today.) 
These yogurts have a lot of sugar so I try and do cottage cheese and plain greek yogurts more than these. This cereal is great for mixing in as granola with it too. I use to use the Cascadian Farms brand but that was a lot of sugar on top of the sugar from the yogurt... This one (pictured) has <1g sugar and has great ingredients like: spouted wheat, organic malted barley, organic almonds, organic sprouted millet, organic sprouted lentils, organic sprouted soybeans, organic spouted spelt, filtered water, and sea salt.
 I love the Food of Life Ezekiel 4:9 brand. We buy their frozen breads as well.
 Publix is now carrying their products now too! 
  Sometimes, I also add chia seeds and her probiotics in too for an extra health booster but I forgot today.

Hope you're all having a great day. 
We'll be over here doing some preschool activities and play-doh fun today :) 


Thursday, September 24, 2015

My Pregnancy Tips


I am not a doctor nor do I wish to be one...
What I am, is a mother who has had the privilege of having 2 amazing pregnancy experiences.  

When I say amazing, I mean that I absolutely loved being pregnant and felt healthy and very comfortable in my body during those 9 months. I know that not all moms experience this and this post isn't supposed to be me rubbing it in by any means... 

I am posting these tips because I have some expectant mom friends that have recently asked me for this list. 

Please consult your doctor or midwife if you have any questions about what I post here. Again, this is only based on both of my pregnancies and how I felt during them. I hope these can help you as well. 

1. Drink lots of water. 
I mean A LOT of water. No soda, no juices, no slurpees... you get the point. Besides water, I allowed myself my morning cup of organic coffee in the morning as well as coconut water. I love Harmless Harvest coconut water. (All the rest taste funny to me with poor quality in the bottling process.) I drank Kombucha when I wanted something different and fizzy. 
You're body only needs and wants water. Don't give it a bunch of unnecessary sugar, chemicals, artificial flavors, colors, etc. Gross. If you're going to drink milk, please choose organic and grass fed cow's milk or organic nut milks. If you're a tea lover, look into organic teas that are okay while pregnant. I love this brand

2. Choose organic food when possible. 
Reduce the amount of pesticides and herbicides that come in contact with you and your baby. Your baby is working on developing their brain, lungs, and all the beautiful parts of their body. Give them clean food when you can. I don't care what the movies tell you... now is not the time to shove your face with junk food. Indulge once in a while but don't make every single day filled with blaming your pregnancy on poor diet choices. Your baby wants real food for their little, growing bodies. 

3. Take a food based prenatal. 
I took Garden of Life organic prenatal vitamins. I prefer to get folate rather than the synthetic version of it called: folic acid. Folate is what you find in food. 

4. Take in extra nutrition throughout the day as a healthy habit. 
I made green smoothies and took Juice Plus+  (Juice Plus+ capsules are whole fruits and veggies that are put into powder form. They are NSF certified and tested for any contaminants like pesticides/herbicides/ etc.) daily. // Getting folate here too! 

5. I add extra goodies to my green smoothies like chia seeds, hemp hearts, probiotics (I just open the capsule), and/ or  Juice Plus+ powder (I just open the capsule up), etc. 

Superfood Chia Seeds health benefits

6. I applied organic: coconut oil, cocoa butter, or avocado oil to my entire body every night. I switched it up...
Keep that skin glowing with healthy ingredients. Your skin is your body's largest organ. It is soaking up what you apply to it. 

7. Take naps! 
It is good for you and good for the baby. Trust me on this one. Do it. Even if you're not all the tired. Enjoy this time to yourself. You'll thank me later. 

8. Walk walk walk 
I walked for about 1.5mi a day // 45 min or so. I basically just walked around my neighborhood with some music. I got my daily vitamin D and body got the exercise. (Careful on your sunscreens. Most are filled with toxic chemicals. I don't wear it unless I will be out for a very long time and even then I try and choose a safe brand. ) 

9. I took a daily probiotic (and still do). 
I like the brand Jarrow Formulas. You can find them in the refrigerated area of the Whole Foods'  "Whole Body" section. With the changes in our food supply, (antibiotics fed to animals and put into our food / some doctors handing out prescriptions for antibiotics like they're souvenirs) it is important to maintain a healthy gut with beneficial bacteria that is being killed by these harmful changes. Eating fermented foods helps with this as well.  The baby will get their first dose of these beneficial bacteria as they pass through the mother's birth canal. Unfortunately, c-section babies do not get this during their delivery. (I continue taking probiotics while breastfeeding and have given these probiotics to Ava since she was an infant since I did not breastfeed her.)

10. I ate healthy sources of DHA like wild caught salmon.
Many expectant moms take a fish oil for their DHA source as well. You can find options at Whole Foods in the Whole Body section of the store.

11. Stay away from all the fast and processed food.
 The high levels of sodium is not healthy and the swelling that comes with it is not a good look for anyone.

12. Stretch regularly.
Stay moving and stay limber. It will help stay comfortable as your beautiful belly grows as well as helping you during your delivery. Try prenatal yoga for a session of healthy breathing and gentle movement.

13. Look into essential oils.
I didn't really know much about them when I was pregnant with Ava but I did with Elle. They helped (and still do) with keeping me feel relaxed and pampered. I buy Young Living essential oils and use their diffuser as well. I enjoy having Lavender on throughout the day. Research which ones are best during pregnancy and which ones to stay away from. Essential oils are like the holy grail of medicine for people that are interested in natural remedies and preventive health. Go plants!

14. Look into chiropractic and prenatal massages.
 I wish I had done this with my girls. I did get prenatal massages but didn't know about chiropractic work during pregnancy at the time. I have taken Elle to Dr. Beth Cooper in Fort Lauderdale to get adjusted when she was just a few months old. I also got adjusted during the appointment. Dr. Beth also works with pregnant mamas.

15. No flu shots
This is between you and your doctor since it is a personal choice. I said no.

16. Glucose test
You can read more about my experience on that with this post. Basically, I said no to the Oral Glucose Tolerance Beverage aka: GMO-filled orange syrup that they offer you. I ate organic jellybeans instead. You can refuse the entire test all together and monitor your sugars manually or ask the doctor if they have a healthier option.

17. Do not "eat for two"
That whole "eating for two" thing is not my favorite saying. I did not do it and don't recommend it to any expectant mama. The truth is, you don't need double the amount of calories when you are pregnant. Eat well and go over your pregnancy weight gain with your doctor or midwife. Depending on your height, I believe it is something like 25-35lbs total. 

I am sure I am missing some other things but for now that is all I can remember.
I hope some of these things are useful to you during this very special time of your life. You are making a human! Embrace your beautiful body and fill your mind with positive thoughts on a daily basis.  Feel free to message me about any of this. Again, I am not a doctor. I am just a mama looking to help other mamas feel their best by sharing what worked for me and my healthy mama friends. 

Please go over your health goals with your doctor or midwife.

Happy pregnancies, mamas! 




“You are pregnant and you are powerful. You are bold and you are beautiful. Go forward in your boldness, in your beauty and in your contentedness. Trust your body to birth and know that the collective power of women worldwide will be with you.”
– Author Unknown

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Love Letters

Since I am going to be focusing in on 3 areas for most of my blog, I thought I would start with something Mark and I have been doing for about 5 years now that falls into the marriage category.

Several years ago, I bought this Italian carved leather journal from Barnes & Noble.  I had every intention of beginning to journal in it but decided to blog online instead. I wanted my journaling to be something that could also be read by my closest family and friends while also one day being there for our future children to read wherever they were.

I finally came up with an idea to make this leather journal useful and special for years to come. I asked Mark if he would write with me and it would be our book.

  I should back up a bit and mention that "love letters" have been a big part of our relationship since the beginning... even when we weren't officially dating. Growing up, Mark and I didn't go to the same schools until we attended the same college. So for many years, I would find a hand written letter in my mailbox or one that would be given to me through a mutual friend of ours. This even continued once cell phones came onto the scene. Haha  
Mark has always been great at communicating his thoughts to me but it was 10 times more special to have them written out to me when he couldn't be there with me. 
I still have most of them and cherish them so much. I guess you could say that Mark and I are hopeless romantics when it comes to things like that. 

So naturally, he agreed with my idea to start writing in this book from time to time. We often leave it on a nightstand or on the dresser. It is kept in our room in spots where we can see it and remember to write. This isn't something that we do every night or even every month. We have gone a while before remembering to pick it up and write. So this isn't something we NEED to do... It is something that is for fun and done when we feel like it. The day it starts to feel like a chore is the day we won't enjoy it anymore.

The journal now is filled with love notes and letters to each other that are all dated so that we know what was going on during that time in our lives. The first entry is from 8. 25. 2010

My favorite letter in the book so far was right after I gave birth to Ava in 2012. I was sleep deprived and emotional. I had never experienced exhaustion like that in my life and was feeling a little overwhelmed in my new mama role. They call that time "the baby blues".  Anyways, Mark wrote to me before he headed out the door for work one morning. When I woke up, I found the journal on the coffee table with the pen sticking out meaning that he had just written in it...
That letter made me feel so supported and appreciated. The things he said were a reminder that he was right there with me during this transition period and the beginning to an amazing new chapter of our lives.

We like to write in the book for occasions like birthdays, promotions, our children's milestones, anniversaries, holidays, and more recently, when he is away on a business... or just any random day, really!
 I often tell him not to get me a card on special occasions. "Just write it in the book," I tell him. That way, we'll always have it.

I've come to love this book so much. It is definitely a possession that I would want to save in a fire. (Let's pray that it never comes to that though!)

I know that one day, our daughters will open this book and read all the entries with a smile. They'll read about how much their mother and father loved one another and about all the little things that made them happy in life.

So there you have it. That is one of my very favorite things that we do as a couple that I thought I would share. Any of you have a fun or special thing that you do with your significant other?

And since I am long overdue, I will head over and write something in it now!


Our journal is still being sold at B&N! You can find it here and others like it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Our girls...

I type that with a smile because we have reached the point where Ava is now trying her best to play with her little sister, Elle. 
Since Elle is only 6 months old, Ava is tickling her, "reading" to her, and holding her when mama is close by. Elle adores Ava already. Whenever Ava is around, Elle is happier and she can't take her eyes off of her. 

I sent my husband a video yesterday of Ava tickling Elle. It was the first time that I caught Ava playing with Elle on her own without one of us asking her to. I was in the kitchen and Elle was on her foam mats in the living room. I started to hear Elle giggle and came over to find her cracking up because of big sister. 

My husband wrote back, "That just made my day." 

It made my entire last 6 months! 
I am not going to sugarcoat a thing when I say that these last 6 months have been pretty tough for me. 
Between Mark traveling back and forth from Chicago to help manage the branch up there, waking every 3 hours to breastfeed Elle at night, and just trying to learn my "new normal" of taking care of two small children while keeping our house clean and running smoothly... This mama is tired! 

When I saw Ava tickling Elle, my heart was full. I was reminded again why we decided to have another baby. Mark and I wanted another child to love as well as a sibling for Ava. In that moment, my exhaustion was worth it all. They will only be little for so long but this sisterly bond that they are forming is just beginning. 

My husband and I both have siblings who we love very much but didn't grow up with them. My siblings lived with my father and step mother and my husband's did too. My husband's mother later had two little boys once he was graduating high school and going off to college. For most of our childhood, we grew up as only children. We are not complaining though. We both agree that we had great childhoods while still getting to visit our siblings. We also both agree that just because we aren't familiar with a different situation than our own, it doesn't mean that it cannot be equally as great or even better. We wanted to grow our family and experience being parents to siblings while watching that relationship form and grow on a daily basis. We know that we will have to play mediator to disagreements and such, but we will also get to watch a lifelong bond unfold as well. 

I am grateful for our family and wouldn't change a thing. Not even the sleepless nights... 

It won't be like this for long. 

A loyal sister is worth a thousand friends. 
– Marian Eigerman

"The best thing about having a sister was that I always had a friend."
-Cali Rae Turner