Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Our Washington State Trip Recap Part 2

Hello! Welcome back to the second part of our vacation recap, did you miss the first part yesterday? Check it out if you want to see all of our Seattle activities.

To pick up right where we left off (after Pike Place Market) The next day we did a bit of laundry, packed our bags, went outlet shopping, and swimming. It was a nice relaxing day before we headed out on our drive to Spokane. For the drive, we picked up Matt’s Dad who flew in early to spend time with his sister. We made a few stops for pictures, Honeycrisp apples, lunch and enjoyed the scenery. Once we got to Matt’s other aunt (his Mom’s sister) we unpacked, freshened up, and headed out to the rehearsal dinner at a nearby restaurant. The rest of his family trickled in on different flights, and everyone was there by midnight. Friday morning started bright and early with a homemade breakfast, a Costco run, some small errands and then we headed to the park to celebrate a cousin’s birthday with a big family soccer game. It was so fun to watch everyone play on the field, kids of all ages and parents all got in on the fun. I loved watching Matt on the field, he scored two goals! After the game we headed back to his aunt’s for a BBQ and to hang around the fire pit.

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Saturday came and it was the big day! It had been in the 80s and sunny all week long and was nearly a torrential down pour all day!! We hadn’t planned on having it rain so I didn’t have anything for the girls besides a light cardigan over their dresses. We grabbed some leggings and umbrellas and had an absolutely great time! The wedding location was on his cousin’s grandparent’s farm and it was breathtaking. Gorgeous trees and fields and they were the cutest couple, the ceremony was so sweet and it was the only time it didn’t rain the entire day. The wedding was so much fun and completely swoon worthy! Everything was beautiful, especially the bride, and I can't wait to see all of their pictures.

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On Sunday we headed out to Cabela's for the guys and Ellie did some range shooting with Matt. She was so funny to watch! She would tell Matt what she wanted to shoot, he'd set her up and she'd shoot it out, hitting almost every target. After our shopping stop, we went over to Idaho to visit Coeur d'Alene to walk around, have lunch, and check out the sites. It was also gorgeous and super green, something I definitely miss now that we're back in CA with our smog. We had the best mac & cheese at a restaurant there, I wish I remembered the name it was probably the best I've ever had! So yummy! The last couple of pics is from a winery by Matt's aunt we visited with his sisters so they could try the local wine (I don't drink), it was gorgeous and we enjoyed some outdoor music and loved the scenery.

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On our last day in town, we went to Riverfront Park for lunch and to check out their giant Radio Flyer slide. Matt remembers going there when he was young and visiting and I'm so glad we were able to take the girls. Ellie went down by herself as fast as she could get back up after coming down and Matt and I each took Emma down. They had the biggest grins and laughed and laughed. We walked around and went on the fasted carousel I've ever been on, that thing literally flew!! It was the perfect ending to a fantastic trip!

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I've said it so many times already, but this was an awesome trip! It was the first as a family of four and I'm glad it went well so we'll plan more. The girls did great on the plane rides, Emma had a hard time coming home, she just couldn't sleep and was a total wiggle worm. We thought since we were on such a late flight both of the girls would just pass out, but we were wrong! Our morning flights heading there were much better so we'll plan to fly early on any future trips.

I'm so thankful we were able to take this vacation and visit so many family members. I loved seeing everyone and getting together. Seeing the girls with my cousin's kids and all of them being only months apart was incredible! I grew up with a lot of cousins and the majority of us are all close in age. Watching the girls play with the kids, our aunts and uncles, and my own cousins was so special. It really made us think about moving out of state and what it would be like to live elsewhere. Everything was so green and beautiful, the food was good (I would definitely miss Mexican food though!), and I really miss our families a lot. We can't wait to go back and visit again, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Our Washington State Trip Recap Part 1

Wow! This past week has been a whirlwind coming home from vacation. We were gone a total of nine days, coming home past midnight Monday and heading straight to work on Tuesday. Never again I tell ya! I’ll be sure to plan some time before returning home and work next time. Work has not slowed down for either of us and we had to get right back into the swing of things right away which was pretty tough! The girls adjusted really well, but I have been struggling all week long.

Have you ever been to Washington? It is one of the most beautiful states I’ve ever seen! Everywhere is so green, the sky is extra blue, and the clouds look painted on. We’ve been planning this trip for years, and finally had the chance and opportunity to go. Matt and I both have family up there and when we first planned on heading up there we bought our house and when I transferred positions I wasn’t able to get the same vacation week I had before so we put it off for the next year. When the next year came about I was pregnant and Emma would be born right around the time we would want to visit so we put it off again. Then, Matt’s cousin got engaged and planned her wedding for this September and boom, we were going!

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With her wedding on a Saturday, we decided to fly in the week before and spend the first half of our vacation with my side over by Seattle and then rent a van and drive to Spokane to spend the second half with Matt's side, meeting up with his parents and sisters for the wedding. It was a perfect plan and so, so much fun. It was honestly one of the best vacations of my life and a trip I’ll always hold dear to my heart. It was so fantastic seeing our families and each of us getting to know the other side’s family better. There were lots of cousins, babies, family BBQs, and late nights after long days filled with activities.

As soon as we flew in, some of my family greeted us at the airport, where I almost immediately burst into tears and cried like a baby. We started the trip off right away and headed downtown to check out the Space Needle, have lunch, and visit the Children’s Science Museum. There were so many great features of the museum and the perfect place for all the kids, Ellie literally ran from one place to the next with excitement. We didn’t get to see the entire museum, the kids couldn’t last, and I would love to go back again on our next trip.

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Sunday morning we headed to the Sun Break Café and my life will never be the same. I had hot chocolate with a mountain size of whip cream and their strawberry cream cheese French toast and it was absolutely incredible. It’s funny because I almost didn’t order it in favor of traditional French toast, but on a whim I asked the waitress which was her favorite item and she told me the strawberry jam and cream cheese dish so I figured, I’m on vacation why not? Boy am I glad I listened to her! You only live once people, go get yourself a plate. At the café, they also have the best banana bread any of us have ever had. My aunt and cousins all said we had to try and often come by just to get a loaf themselves. The café steams the bread and it is incredibly moist, my mouth is watering just thinking about it now.

After breakfast we headed to Point Defiance Zoo which is placed in the middle of the forest and the drive around to find the parking lot, we saw three deer and I kept repeating to anyone who was listening about how gorgeous all the evergreens are. We have a zoo pass to San Diego and try and go as often as we can, but it was a lot of fun to visit a zoo in another state. The girls loved it, they have a monkey there that put on a big show when he saw us, swinging all around and playing. Ellie just cracked up! We ended the day with a big family BBQ, Italian sodas, and lots of cookies.

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Late Monday morning, we headed out to visit Port Orchard to see one of Matt’s aunts. She has a home right on the lake and we spent the entire time outside on her patio eating and talking. Tuesday we were back at it again and headed out to Pike Place’s for some shopping and lunch. It was so much fun and I have been here before when I was little, but I barely remembered it. Ellie had a blast looking at everything, trying samples (including chocolate pasta!), watching the shops toss fish, and sitting on their golden piggy bank. We enjoyed fish and chips outside and watched the ferries, the weather was absolutely beautiful! We couldn’t leave without a few goodies, including matching hoodies, ornaments, my very first apron! The day ended with another big family BBQ, a dip in the pool, and s’mores around a fire pit.

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We loved Seattle, it's a gorgeous city and so full of life! Pike Place Market was one of my favorite stops, all the flowers and shops were beautiful! We loved all the time we spent there, the skyline is stunning and all of their hanging plants are so vibrant and lovely. I'll have part 2 up tomorrow so come back to see the rest of our trip!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Baby Food Recipes with Gerber Lil' Bits

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When we started Emma on solids, I did the same thing for her as I did for Eleanor and made all of her food myself. It’s important to me to know what I’m feeding them, the ingredients that went into making it, and ensuring that they’re getting the best to help their bodies develop. I also wanted to make sure that as I was introducing them to a wide variety of food with different flavors and textures.

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Every Sunday I would steam, boil, or bake different foods and then puree them for the week. Emma devoured all of our purees and loved anything with apples, sweet potato, and pears. When it came time to eat solid food and not just pureed foods, it was so hit and miss! We had a terrible time trying to get her to eat the same foods she loved before pureed. I talked to my friends and her daycare teachers and one of her teachers suggested that we try Gerber Lil’ Bits. She had seen other babies through the years eat it and figured it could help get some food into her belly for us. I went out that night and picked up a few different varieties and we haven’t looked back!

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When shopping for Gerber Lil’ Bits, I stock up on all her favorite flavors for the week and she eats two different ones each day while at school. It’s the perfect mix of puree and bits and now at dinner and on the weekends she is happy to eat whatever we’re eating at the table. I’m so glad her teacher suggested these, I was really getting worried about how I could teach her to chew bits of food without gagging and to eat enough of them to be full. Eleanor loved all foods instantly and it was never a struggle to feed her so I was at a total loss when it came to Emma. I’m so glad we found Gerber Lil’ Bits, it’s taught her to be a master chewer and help her sleep through the night now that she has a full belly! Gerber Lil’ Bits offer a variety of foods so Emma has had the chance to have a wide range of flavors and textures, much more than what I was making and mixing for her myself.

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For her favorite fruit mixtures, I’ve started making her some yummy popsicles using Gerber Lil’ Bits and yogurt. They’re really tasty and Emma loves having them on a hot day, when her teething is bothersome, and for dessert (Ellie loves these as well!). It’s so easy to make and nearly mess free! It's super simple to make really quickly and put away for later.

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-mix 1 Gerber Lil’Bits Apple Banana with 1 single serve yogurt (there’s so many mixes and new flavors you can create!)
-I store ours in our silicone food maker since together, they make a large serving

It's been such a welcome snack, especially on our hot CA days! Emma just goes to town on them and Ellie enjoys them too! I'm so glad her teacher suggested them for us, I'm not sure what I would have done if I couldn't get her to chew thoroughly! Emma loves a lot of the Gerber Lil' Bits, her favorite fruits include their Apple Blueberry, Banana Apple Mango, Orchard Fruit Medley, and these go great with the yogurt mixes! I always use a yogurt flavoring that isn't included in the Gerber Lil' Bits. Her favorites meals also include their Butternut Squash & Potato, Sweet Potato Apple Carrot & Cinnamon, and Garden Vegetable & Beef Dinner.

How did you start your babies on solid foods? What are your favorite Gerber Lil’ Bits mixes?