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Healthy Fruit Snacks

Like most kids, Kaden loves the Cars, Snoopy, Spongebob, Mickey Mouse, etc. fruit snacks at the store.  I, however, do not like the price, all of the junk that they put in them or the tantrum Irelyn throws when I won’t give her any because they’re too chewy and gross.  I found a recipe on Pinterest (of course!) for healthy fruit snacks, so I thought I’d give it a try.  Here’s a link!  (sorry for the picture quality, my camera and I haven’t been getting along lately and taking a picture while holding a one year old doesn’t help either)

We decided to try strawberry & blueberry.  In hindsight, I think we may have liked doing just one flavor at a time better.

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The finished product.  The funny part of the story:  the kid that I thought would love them (Irelyn) didn’t, the kid that I thought wouldn’t touch them (Kaden) actually likes them!  Ours are a little thinner than the recipe shows because I didn’t have an 8″ x 8″ pan to use today.  Although I still haven’t found fruit snacks that I’ll let Irelyn have, I did find a healthier option for Kaden.  I wasn’t a big fan of them either; but I will try making them again with a single flavor to see if that changes anything.

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Zucchini Recipes

Now that we’ve moved into a house, we were able to plant a garden this year.  We chose a spot and were just hoping for a decent amount of vegetables; what we got was a forest!  We have 11 tomato plants, more than a dozen sweet bell pepper plants, four banana peppers plants, one squash and one zucchini.  We’ve probably picked over 100 bell peppers and even more banana peppers.  Just throughout the past few weeks we’ve had dozens of tomatoes ripen!  Unfortunately, our squash and zucchini were almost killed by something, but both replanted and we’ve had quite a few vegetables from each plant.  So, after picking a foot-long zucchini out of the garden two days ago, I had to search for some recipes.

Because of Irelyn’s egg allergy and dairy sensitivity, it wasn’t easy finding a zucchini bread recipe that I thought would taste as good as what we’re used to; this one was amazing!  Here’s the recipe for the Dairy, egg and nut free zucchini bread.  It was very moist on the inside, didn’t fall apart and had a slightly crispy crust – just perfect.  As soon as we have a couple more zucchini, I’ll be making a double batch to freeze for this winter!

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Even though the bread recipe called for 2 cups of zucchini, it only used 1/3 of what I had.  I came across a blog a few months ago while looking for other recipes and I absolutely love the things she makes (especially all of the chocolate!).  Everything is dairy/egg free and much healthier than other versions of the same foods – here is a link Chocolate Covered Katie.  Earlier this week I made her Healthy Blueberry MuffinsIrelyn and I both loved them.  While searching for other fun zucchini recipes, I found that she also has a recipe for Crispy Healthy Baked Zucchini Fries.  Instead of using boring ketchup or ranch on the fries, I had to use a few of our garden tomatoes to try her Healthy Ketchup recipe.  The fries and ketchup turned out great!  I’m still a big fan of Heinz (mostly because I don’t like the taste of tomatoes that much), but even Kaden and Irelyn (my two ketchup addicts) liked it.

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I’ll definitely be using all of these recipes in the future.  Let me know if you decide to try them!

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Irelyn’s 1st Birthday [Rainbows & Clovers!]

Since Irelyn’s birthday is on March 16 (almost St. Patrick’s Day) and we’re part Irish, we chose a rainbow & clover theme for her 1st birthday party.  The goal was to save as much money as we could on decorations and food – especially since she won’t remember it anyway – so I got most of my ideas from Pinterest!  It’s been almost 6 months since her birthday, so I’ve lost some of the links to the other blogs I borrowed ideas from, but I will do my best to give credit for everything.

We did a cake smash photo shoot in our kitchen a few weeks before the party.  This was the first time she had ever had a cupcake or frosting (I had to make special dairy/egg free cupcakes for her) and she loved them!  Many of them were blurry, but I got quite a few good shots.

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Below are pictures from the party, I’ll add a list at the bottom with links to all of the treats/decorations!

A few pictures from before the party…

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Rainbow cupcakes, Oreo Brownie cupcakes, and Lucky Charm Trail Mix

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Pictures with family…

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More pictures with family!

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The cake!  Kaden refused to be a part of the “family” photo; he’d had his fill of pictures by the end of the party.

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And this is the only face Zach will make for a picture by himself!

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Here are links to all of the goodies pictured above – in no particular order:

1.  Rainbow Cupcakes
2.  Lucky Charm Trail Mix
3.  Shamrock Rice Krispie Treats (not pictured above, but they were yummy – we didn’t make a Christmas tree, just squares)
4.  Cupcake Circle Printable
5.  Oreo Brownie Cupcakes
6.  Crockpot BBQ Meatballs (we also used this recipe for mini hot dogs and they turned out great!)
7.  Printable LUCKY Banner
8.  Irelyn’s Birthday Outfit (this is the link to where I got the idea from.  Zach’s aunt offered to embroider the clover and “I” onto a onesie we bought, we already had rainbow leggings and I made the bow for her hair)

We also had a rainbow assortment of fruits & veggies, chips and probably a couple of other things I can’t remember;  we had plenty of leftovers.

Her party was a great success.  Everything turned out the way I was hoping, it gave all of our family a chance to see our new house and Irelyn & Kaden both had a great time.  Now we’re hoping for the same with Kaden’s 5th birthday party!  We will be having his birthday a few weeks early (so that he’ll get to have his special day just in case baby Lily decides to enter the world a little early), so I’ll be getting a head start on planning within the next month.  As of right now, meaning: until he changes his mind next week, we’re thinking of a LEGO or “Movie night” theme (popcorn in special tubs for snacks, movie theater candy, ticket themed invitations, etc.).  It’s not easy steering him away from the superhero themes, but it’s so much more fun planning a party like this than going to Walmart and buying all of the Spiderman decorations.

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MIA [again!]

My last post was titled “MIA” (because I hadn’t posted in over a month), I’m not sure what this one should be titled since it has been almost a year!  Obviously, I’ve been quite busy.

Here’s a quick breakdown of our past year:

  • We celebrated Kaden’s 4th birthday in December of 2012 and also our 1st Christmas as a family that wasn’t cut short because of deployment.
  • We moved out of our (tiny) 3 bedroom, 900 sq ft apartment to a 4 bedroom, 1600 sq ft HOUSE!  We have a big backyard for the kids to play in and we’re so much closer to Zach’s work, church and preschool.
  • We celebrated Irelyn’s 1st birthday in March of this year with a rainbow and clover themed party (I’ll be posting about that later!)
  • In 2013, Irelyn has learned around 15 signs, how to walk, said her first words and has shown that she has a very spirited personality (I no longer take her on grocery shopping trips because the terrible 2’s seem to have started early…)
  • Kaden finished his 1st year of preschool!
  • We found out Irelyn has outgrown her dairy allergy; now it is just an intolerance which is much easier to manage.  But she has an egg allergy, so now I’m learning all new ways to cook/bake.
  • We found out we’re expecting our 3rd (and final) baby due on December 11th!  Keep reading for a picture of our gender reveal.
  • I had to wean Irelyn from breastfeeding (we made it 17 months!).  Due to preterm labor issues with both kids, my OB wanted me to wean her by 22 weeks.  Irelyn handled it better than I did.
  • Kaden learned to ride his bike without training wheels and he will be starting his 2nd year of preschool in 3 weeks.  Now we are just planning to enjoy the rest of our summer together.

About baby #3:

Zach deployed when I was 14 weeks pregnant with Irelyn and didn’t get home until she was 4 months old; so this entire pregnancy is new to him.  I’m 23 weeks and we just found out the gender a few weeks ago.  We had the ultrasound technician write down the gender in an envelope, took it to Walmart, and had them fill the box with pink or blue balloons.  We had a cookout with both of our families and opened the box at the end of the party!

……….and it’s a GIRL!

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Her name will be Lillian.  We haven’t decided middle names – she’ll have 2 – but we’ve still got a few months to figure that out.

I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to be blogging about, but my goal is to do so more regularly; I think I can handle more than once per year!

Here is a more recent picture of my sweet little monsters (they’ve changed a bit during the past year!):

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MIA

The past few weeks have been a little crazy (which is why I haven’t posted in well over a month…)!  I have tons of pictures I could post, but it’s 6:55am right now, the kids and hubby are sleeping and I’m trying to enjoy every last second before the little monsters wake up…so I’ll do a little updating now and a picture post later. 🙂

Here are some things that have happened in the past month:

  • Zach’s Welcome Home party (I forgot the camera…but I do have one picture below!)
  • My family reunion (I forgot the camera for this, too)
  • Zach’s family reunion will be this Saturday (I’ll try to remember the camera this time!)
  • We’ve started cloth diapering almost full time (I haven’t found the right inserts to try a cloth diaper at night yet)
  • Irelyn had her 4 month appointment (she was 14 lb 9 oz, 25 inches long and is growing perfectly!)
  • Made it to 5 months of exclusive breastfeeding 🙂 (I tried some dairy a couple of weeks ago to see if she’s still sensitive to it…she is.)
  • Kaden spent a week at his dad’s house while Zach & I were house-sitting for my aunt
  • Irelyn learned to roll from back to belly (she’s been going from belly to back), has been learning to sit and has attempted to crawl twice!
  • Zach went to Columbus this past Tuesday to take his exam for the Ohio State Highway Patrol (he passed!) We should know if he got accepted into the academy in a few weeks 🙂
  • Irelyn had her 1st taste of solid food [this morning! – video below]

We are trying baby led weaning with Irelyn.  Basically, we’ll be skipping cereal & purees, starting with simple foods such as avocado, bananas, peaches, broccoli, etc and allowing her to feed herself.  The idea behind it is that she’ll learn to chew before swallowing (which will help her to only ingest solids as she is actually ready for them), it is supposed to help her be less picky towards the texture (with a 3 year old that would only eat mac-n-cheese and popsicles if I let him, I love this), plus I don’t have to spend time pureeing and storing foods for her, she’ll just eat what we eat!

We tried avocado today.  She was so excited when we put it on the tray and she licked it for a few minutes – I don’t think she actually managed to swallow any though.

Obviously, Kaden was narrating the entire event…I’ll only bore you with a little over a minute of it. [please ignore my messy house]

And here is the one and only picture I have from Zach’s party.

I’ll post more pictures as soon as I have some “free” time to edit them! 🙂

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He’s Home!

Finally!  Zach got home around 3am on Friday morning.  He will be home for 10 days before he has to go back to Kentucky for a few days, but that’s nothing compared to the 10 months he’s been gone.  He got to meet Irelyn around 3:30am on Friday – we checked on her while she was sleeping and she woke up.  She spent an hour awake after that and was all smiles. 🙂  When Kaden woke up Friday morning I told him there was a surprise in my room for him…he came running out with a huge smile on his face when he saw that Zach was his surprise!  Here are a few pictures of the three of them.

Of course, the kids had to have special outfits to wear.  I had planned on that being a surprise for Zach at the airport, but since plans changed and he came home in the middle of the night, we just had a photo shoot in the living room [it only took Irelyn 10 minutes of wearing the onesie to spit up all over it anyway].  I ordered Irelyn’s skirt & bow on etsy and I made the shirts they’re wearing.

We’ve been pretty busy the past few days with visiting family, church and transitioning Irelyn to her crib (that was one huge failure from my 28 day challenge…).  The first night she slept in her crib, we were up every two hours – but last night she only woke up one extra time!  The past couple of days have been amazing and has made the past 10 months worth the wait.  Tonight’s post is going to be short, but we’re taking the kids to the park in the morning and we’ll be doing Irelyn’s 4 month picture tomorrow, so I’ll post those soon!

Here are a few more pictures from today 🙂

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Cloth Diapers

I’m adding one more item to my list of things I’ve done differently with each of my kids – cloth diapering (& while we’re at it, cloth wipes)!  I’ve done almost the complete opposite with Irelyn so far compared to Kaden and I’m becoming a different kind of mom than I ever thought I’d be.  Before having Kaden and formula feeding, using disposable diapers/wipes, working full time 5 weeks after he was born and living 3 hours away from my family…I never thought I’d be a breastfeeding, cloth diapering, stay at home mom who lives 5 minutes from my family now…but I love every bit of it! 🙂 I wouldn’t change how I have raised Kaden because it was what worked for us at the time; but I love having a husband who has made it possible for me to even have the first 4 months of Irelyn’s life at home with her and to do things the way I have.

After already going through so many boxes/packs of disposable diapers in the short 16 weeks of Irelyn’s life, we’ve decided that we can save a ton of money using cloth diapers.  We bought 19 diapers from a friend (to add to the 2 diapers Irelyn has) for a total of $78 (we’ve already spent twice that much on disposables) and since I’m at home all day anyway, a couple extra loads of laundry per week will help fill my “down” time. 🙂  Anyway, we have a variety of diapers (velcro, all in ones – which will help when we’re out, Daddy has to change her or when family is watching her), but they’ll all fit up to around 35lbs.  And if we take care of them, they’ll last through potential baby number three.  We’ll easily save thousands of dollars and cloth diapers are just too cute! (I’ll definitely be posting pictures once they’re all organized and ready to use)

I’ve become pretty addicted to my sewing machine lately and have been practicing making some pocket and fitted cloth diapers.  Today I decided that I’m going to use cloth wipes as well.  Since we’ll be tossing her diapers into the diaper pail after changing, there’s no point in having to carry a dirty wipe to the trashcan every time when we can just use cloth and throw it in with the diapers!

I found 7 baby washcloths lying around, but of course I had to sew some cute ones for her!

I found a super simple wipe solution online (1 tablespoon baby oil, 2 teaspoons baby wash, 2 1/2 cups water) and filled a squirt bottle with it.  I’m planning on making another couple dozen wipes after I find which fabric I like best.  The yellow wipes are made from an old baby towel and cotton (for looks) and the pink/zebra print are made from an old shirt of mine and cotton (for looks again!).

Sunday I’ll be buying the supplies I need to make laundry detergent for the diapers and a small trashcan to use as a diaper pail.  I’ll be posting more about our cloth diaper experience next week!  Also, within the next 14 days there will be a post all about Zach meeting Irelyn for the 1st time!!

Here’s a picture of Irelyn in one of her cloth diapers (& Sophie – which I highly recommend for teething babies) & Kaden blowing bubbles at 7am today 🙂