27 April 2015

Spring Cleaning Your Little One's Room | Over on FabKids

Today I'm over on FabKids blog sharing a few of our tips for spring cleaning your little one's room. We're just about done organizing and de-cluttering our home and are ready to throw open the windows and enjoy some warmer weather. Now if only the warmer weather would come our way!

20 April 2015

A Portrait of My Children

A portrait of my children, April 2015

Last week a tree fell in our backyard. Our children found a sense of delight and joy in the excitement of coming home to a fallen tree. I never imagined that such a large foundation that was literally split in half could create hours of creative play.

Suddenly, I too began to feel small, so small that I could get lost in their world of imagination. If I closed my eyes and felt the cool spring breeze blow through my hair I could imagine that I was lost in the dark ghostly woods. And when I opened my eyes I stood face to face with tentacles of monstrous roots that were transformed into a creature who walked with heavy set footsteps across open fields of soft green grass. Or maybe it wasn't a creature made of roots, but rather a wooden ship carrying voyagers and explorers to be unleashed unto new grounds; to set forth and create civilized territories and progressive villages, all in the dark ghostly woods hidden in our backyard.

Our fallen tree became the key to unlocking our adventures, and those adventures were open and endless. We became the pioneers, the adventurers and the explorers. We became the children who were destined to take on the world. And yes, for that day I was no longer a mother tied to her chores, but a child lost in wonder and imagination.

And so we took on the world, in our very own back yard, hidden behind the dark ghostly woods, on a quiet spring afternoon.

*In the fall I stopped posting my weekly portrait of my children for The 52 Project. At that point, it was too overwhelming with everything going on. Even now I know I won't be able to participate weekly, but I will occasionally share a portrait here and there. Linking up with Jodi for The 52 Project

14 April 2015

An (Almost) Sugar-Free Easter

Sugar Free easter2
I know Easter has already passed, but I thought I would share some of our snacks and treats that we use for the holidays. Eliminating processed foods with kids in the house has been an extremely difficult journey. I've always been into living a healthy lifestyle, but I never envisioned making my own fruit strips and gummy treats. And yet, here I am. Making batches of bone broth, coconut yogurt, fruit bars and every meal from scratch.

I don't want to paint the perfect picture, but we do try our hardest. I wish I could have the entire family on a strict paleo lifestyle, but the younger kids sneak in fruit bars and fruit snacks on occasion. And I'm okay with that. If fact, since Jonas has been doing so well we've been a bit more lenient with his foods. We are slowly introducing new foods and he can eat any legal SCD or paleo food without problems (we still avoid raw nuts and seeds), which is a huge step for him. I'm still planning on writing a post about his update, but I haven't had the chance to sit down and type that lengthy one up yet.

In the meantime, here are some tasty treats that we love to keep around for special occasions, long car rides or school lunches.

Stretch Island Fruit Strips | Peeled Snacks dried fruit | Samai Plantain Chips | Plum Organics Mash Ups | Larabar | That's It fruit bars | bare snacks | Nature's All freeze dried fruits

Tips on picking healthy go-to snacks:
+ Always choose fruits or veggies first: carrot slices, avocados, apples, oranges, raw almonds or cashews if you can tolerate them
+ The less ingredients the better. We stay away from preservatives and sugars. Most of these items featured above are wholesome ingredients that are simply fruit
+ Buy organic when possible
+ Buy non-gmo foods when possible
+ With three kids we buy in bulk, it can sometimes help cut down the price

*Please note that these foods are not necessarily Paleo or SCD legal. They are, however, foods that my son can tolerate

08 April 2015

Easter Sunday

Every year after Easter Mass my family treks across the yard to set up for our annual family photo. Sometimes, believe it or not, this may be the only photograph of all five of us together that is documented all year long. While I may be good at snapping photos of the kids in a real lifestyle setting, I am not so good about snapping photos to capture all of us together.

This year we didn't get our family photo. It was a quiet and calm Easter and I decided to set aside all stresses. And yes, sometimes digging out the tripod and getting the family to take a photo can be stressful. I also skipped the fresh flowers on the dining room table, I forget to set out the crystal water glasses and the colorful kids table turned out to be three children plopped up on the island with stools. I meant to capture pictures of the food but it just never happened. And you know what? I'm completely okay with these missed moments. While we do have stress in our lives, I managed to set it aside for a night. I managed to focus on the family present, the guests, the toasts in good cheer and the food. Rather than documenting the moment I decided to live the moment. I decided to be present.

As I move forward into spring and further into 2015 the focus of my days has been: to be present. With a blink of an eye my son will be ten this summer (gasp!) and I feel like there are moments in life I have missed. When I am old and gray the last thing I want hovering over my mind are the moments I have missed in life. I want to be full of moments embraced and moments lived.

“The great thing in this world is not so much where you stand, as in what direction you are moving.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

These photos aren't perfect, but they are perfect to me. I will always remember the story we shared as we walked through the woods, the fox that ran in front of us, the tears that Jess shed because the boys scared her and how her big brother scooped her up in his arms. These are the moments I want to be full of at the end of the day.

If you want to see the colorful kids table, the family photograph, the fresh flowers and more here's last year's Easter post :)

07 April 2015

Calm Mornings + Daily Routines

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a morning person; something I inherited from my mother. The fact that we run a restaurant doesn't help my case either, but motherhood tends to begin at sunrise regardless of when I get in bed. While I may not be up at sunrise, I am up shortly there after and have to be prepared to take on the day. The one thing
I've learned as my children get older is there is no time for rest during the day. Between school, working out, maintaining the house, ballet, soccer, piano, music class, homework, dinner and more our day is non-stop. Even when they are in school, the time flies by and I never accomplish everything on my to-do list. The other thing I've learned is that I thrive on routines.

Having a set morning routine helps our days start off on the right path. We can easily avoid the morning hustle and chaos if we are prepared for our day ahead of time. I would like to say I'm the first to rise in the morning, but that would be a lie. Our oldest is an early riser and likes to spend fifteen minutes alone downstairs on the iPad, which he is allowed to do since we are always ready for the day the night before.

Part of our bedtime routine is preparing for the next morning. Once bath time is over, snacks are given and teeth are brushed we lay out clothes for the next day. Depending on the day the appropriate clothing is laid out: schools days are uniforms, soccer days are uniforms and all the gear, church days are dressy clothes and open days are play clothes. The first thing the kids do when they wake up is get dressed and head downstairs. On a perfect morning, breakfast is prepped the night before, but that's not always the case. Since we've been avoiding processed foods, breakfast usually entails eggs, a homemade loaf of bread and fresh fruit. And endless cups of coffee for me!

Weekends tend to be very laid back, as long as we don't have early soccer games, and everyone does their own thing until we all sit down together for breakfast. Schools mornings are a bit more of a rush to get out the door but never too stressful. Lunches are packed the night before, backpacks filled and homework checked.

It's taken a couple years, but I've finally found the key to calm mornings for our family is a daily routine and organization. How does your family handle the early mornings? Do you have a set routine or morning pattern?