summer’s last hoorah

This was the last full week with 13 & 11 of summer vacation. We started out the weekend with a trip to a local arcade where we all played games and did the batting cages; then we had ice cream before lunch and then pizza. (And, if I’m being honest, we had the rest of the pizza for dinner…) It was a great day and a great way to kick off the last week of summer vacation with everyone.

Monday, 3 was having a time, so my husband stayed home with him. I took 13 & 11 to one of our local beaches and was so excited that a friend of mine also met us there! We jumped waves and boogie boarded; had a snack lunch; and enjoyed a solid six hours out in the summer sun.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I had appointments and my husband was working from home. I chopped all of my hair off on Tuesday per the suggestion of my stylist and love the fresh, new cut. My hair has been to the middle of my back for the last few years and a collarbone cut was exactly what I needed. I ran some errands and headed to campus afterwards to try and finish my application and set up Internet on my computer — wasn’t successful in either of those attempts but I did get my student ID.

On Thursday, the Red Sox had to finish a suspended game from the other week. Because the game was to start at 1PM on a weekday (top of the 10th inning; tied 4-4), the Sox were offering free tickets for all kids and $5 tickets for adults. I grabbed myself a ticket and headed into the city with three kiddos and some singles for the $1 hotdogs. What a great lunchtime activity! We met my husband afterwards and he took the kids home so I could meet a friend for dinner. All-in-all, a tiring but fun day!

With Friday being our last day of vacation, we wanted to spend some time at the beach but the weather had another plan, so we hung out at the house until after lunchtime. Then, I dropped them to their mom and 3 and I headed home for nap time. 3 and I are heading on a trip next week to visit my parents and he is looking forward to playing in his red house and showing ‘grammy’ his “big, round belly” … I’m sure lots of s’mores and ice cream and fresh garden vegetables will be heavily consumed during our trip. Personally, I’m looking forward to tomatoes — all of the garden tomatoes!

When we return, we will visit with my in-laws for Labor Day and then the grind will really start. My graduate coursework starts that Tuesday and my stress levels/anxiety are just through the roof. I am sure once I have the syllabi to figure out the timing of everything, I will settle in quickly. 3’s school year doesn’t begin until a little later, so I get a little more time with him before settling completely into my fall routine.

For the fall, I am hoping to get back into the swing of working out and yoga. I typically am able to get into routines more easily at the start of the school year and I’d like to get back to a better exercise regimen. I have watched my diet all summer (enough anyway) but haven’t exercised much outside of walking the dog. I also have a gym membership through my program, so I am hoping to get to the gym there to lift and swim at least once a week. We will see what goals I set for myself in the next few weeks…

infertility, pt3

I started this post back in May and was reminded of this particular experience I shared the story with a friend over dinner and drinks last week.

With it being Mother’s Day weekend, I was thinking back to our IVF days. Those days were particularly difficult for my husband and me (and our marriage). As I was reflecting, I couldn’t help but think of our trigger shot day from our first round of IVF.

I was having all kinds of hot flashes from the hormones, so we’d been sleeping with one of our bedroom windows open (and two fans on). In February. In Boston. It was great to have the windows open for this particular experience.

My husband watched a few videos from the pharmacy’s online portal and then told me what to expect: “The video said to use a dart-like throwing motion.” I was standing in position, staring down at my phone that blared Busta Rhymes and my husband prepped the area.

Then, bam.

I screamed. The dog went ballistic, barking and growling at my husband. My husband was frantically yelling, “Don’t move! The needle came out! It’s stuck!” I stood screaming while the dog tried to protect my honor, all with a giant needle sticking out of me. Because the trigger shot needs to be timed just so, we all had to quickly calm down and try again.

Fortunately, our neighbors are the gracious types. Nobody has ever asked what all of the screaming was about, nor did anyone call the police. My husband kept repeating, “I told you it was going to be like a dart?!” and I kept responding, “I’ve never been hit by a dart before?!” This was an intramuscular shot and one of the hundreds of shots administered by my husband (fortunately, the only one with such a mishap)…

Surprisingly, after this particular IVF cycle, we continued on with more treatments before deciding to call it quits with fertility specialists, shots, and mood swings and shifted our attention and energies to growing our family through other means. ENTER, a visit to our local Jordan’s Furniture store to talk to a representative about DCF fostering/adoption and signing up for MAPP training.

While we had not planned on this particular timing; fostering youth was something we’d discussed because it was always something that I’d wanted to do. My grandparents had five bio children and, because that wasn’t enough, fostered constantly to share their home and chaos with those in need. This was important to me and soon, us.

It wasn’t long before we started our first training class, but that’s a whole other story…

family date nights

We spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to get quality time in, whether that be between my husband and I; as an entire family; or one-on-one time with each of the children (which is not easy when they outnumber you). I am very mindful when planning things to make sure that 13 & 11 get enough 1:1 time with their dad. I don’t ever want them to feel like they are in need of time that seems impossible. Fortunately, with our schedule, he does drop-off and pick-up with school daily and even takes them back to work with him sometimes (which they both enjoy).

Our usual babysitter has been working a ton this summer (she is such a hard worker), so we ended up using a different sitter for my husband’s birthday date night. She told us that she can come home any weekend to sit for us and we are now thinking of changing how we do date nights. Instead of doing a weekly date night on a Monday or Tuesday night (where all we basically do is talk about the kids), we are going to do one weekend night date a month. We can go into the city, get dressed up, and take our time to have an actual date sans kids (physically or in conversation).

As a result, we want to use the rest of our monthly date-night budget to do a family date night. It’s hard to try and plan something like this when it feels like we do a lot as a family, probably more than most people — we are at the beach often, we walk to get ice cream, we have dinner as a family every night aside from date night, goodnight stories, vacations, etc. We don’t watch much TV and have no video games/electronics in the house, so we only have each other to entertain for the most part. It works for us BUT I feel like we get so locked into our routines during the school year, having something more defined may be worth trying.

We are trying to think of something where we can all get a little more gussied up than usual and go to a nice dinner or head someplace ‘fun’ like Dave & Busters and just enjoy a few more experiences than we’d normally have. We don’t go out to each much as a family; sure, we order pizza/takeout, but we don’t get out too much because it’s time consuming and a bit pricey. I think this will be fun for all of us.

Another idea that we have to spend more 1:1 time with each of the kids is to use our weekday babysitter, on occasion, to take one of the kiddos out to do something (a movie, dessert, pizza at the beach, etc) to get some more bonding time with the kids. We feel that as they are getting older and busier, it’s in all of our best interests to be deliberate in making time with one another.

I am happy to hear any additional ideas people have on how they set aside family time! We are really looking forward to trying this out!

meals, july 19-25

Hello, all!

I am still struggling to settle into a summer routine. We spend a lot of time at the beach and in general outside. Meals continue to be easy with us relying on our fast favorites (read: grilled chicken & raw vegetables with healthy sides of stone fruit/watermelon).

Today is my husband’s birthday and we have a sitter! This is our first date night since before our Disney trip in June. To say we are excited is an understatement! I got this jumpsuit for dinner:

I’m really just looking forward to some 1:1 time with my husband. Our birthdays are only four days apart and we were out celebrating mine last weekend. This coming weekend, we are planning a beach day Saturday and then a bbq at home to celebrate my husband’s birthday. We are grilling the usual burgers/hot dogs but I wanted to add one nicer element, so I grabbed burrata for a burrata, tomato, artichoke, and balsamic glaze salad. Our plan is to walk to a local ice cream shop for dessert!

Sunday, we are expecting to see 90s again. We’d originally planned to hit the farmer’s market after church but we may forgo that and just have the kids change and hit the beach again. We are going to play it by ear.

The rest of the week is going to be busy with all three kids in camp. 3 is really excited for his first summer camp experience; 11 is attending a science camp and their email today gave a long list of activities planned; 13 is doing a counselor in training camp. Needless to say, everyone will be BUSY BUSY BUSY. My plan is to head to the beach after drop offs until I have to pick 3 up — I have two books I’d like to finish next week, so hopefully that works out for me.

Because the kids will be busy at camp, they wanted simple lunches (works for me!), so we are all doing sandwiches/wraps next week with buffalo chicken breast and/or turkey breast. Easy Peasy.

Breakfasts are also going to be easy. I have cereal, breakfast bars, cheese sticks, and loads of fruit; we will also boil a bunch of eggs.

Dinners will vary but we are keeping up with the simple theme:

Friday — make your own pita pizza; raw vegetables & Greek yogurt ranch dip.

Saturday & Sunday — corn on the cob, cheese/hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, burrata salad, raw vegetables & Greek yogurt ranch dip, and lemonade.

Monday — It’s supposed to rain, so we are doing a rainy day favorite: chicken parmigiana and Caesar salad.

Tuesday — black bean tacos and beets.

Wednesday/Thursday — One of these days, we will probably go out to eat or order delivery; the other, we will grill marinated chicken and serve it with a salad kit.

We are looking forward to a fun weekend and I am most definitely looking forward to tonight’s date night!

meal planning, july 12-18

We have a few birthdays coming up this week, which is really exciting! We have been keeping meals SUPER SIMPLE with lots of grilled meats and vegetables. This week will be no different.

Friday: Shrimp fajita pitas — this is a really simple recipe and I will try to post it. We’ve been doing a lot of chicken/shrimp fajita pitas and they’re a big hit with everyone in the house. We will likely serve this with Greek yogurt ranch dip.

Saturday: Grilled chicken, corn on the cob, and grilled asparagus & zucchini.

Sunday: My birthday! We originally planned to go into Boston but the high is 86 and it’s supposed to be sunny, so we may hit the beach and do dinner someplace local (probably TexMex).

Monday: Probably more fajita pitas but this time with chicken; more raw vegetables.

Tuesday: Shrimp scampi — this is a recipe my MIL gave me. It has spinach, roasted red peppers, and uses chicken broth.

Wednesday: Black bean crunchy tacos and raw vegetables & beets.

Thursday: Thursday is my husband’s birthday, so we are lining up a sitter and going out to a nice date-night dinner.

june reflections, july goals

Oh, man. June was not what I thought it would be in terms of health goals and really anything else aside from cupcake consumption. I only went to yoga a couple of times and really only could commit to my weekly 5K (except for the last week of the month). There were a lot of trips (VT & Disney to name two of them) that threw me off of my routine and once I’m off, I always struggle to get back into a routine.

My 5K times for June continued to improve with my personal best time of 28:44. I am planning to pick up my weekly 5K this week. I missed last week because we were in Disney and logged 40 miles on foot for the week (and that was with three resort days)!

I put my yoga classes on hold for August, but am planning to get there for the weekends. There is a lot of roadwork between my house and Boston now and the commute in has been more stressful driving and a solid 90 minutes if I take the MBTA. I think it being tourist season causes stress on getting in and through the city, so I am going to try to get there the weekends this month and then may try a studio closer to home to see if I like it there enough to go regularly.

Our vacations were great! I wrote about my BIL’s birthday already and will recap our Disney trip when I have a few minutes. Finally, the Boston weather is rain free for a few days and I plan on capitalizing it by hitting the beach every single day this week! I took 3 yesterday to a local beach and with the high being 74, I decided we’d just go and play in the sand. I always seem to forget how hot it can feel being in the sun, so I told him to just go into the water in his clothes. We had a blast!

Today, we are going to a different beach (basically, the plan for the week — each day a new beach!) and are going to pack lunch and some snacks and will wear our bathing suits. I can’t wait!

In addition to the beach goals for July and scaling back on my exercise goals to weekly 5Ks and weekend yoga; I want to pay closer attention to my nutrition. I started doing Weight Watchers and it’s been going well. I am eating more carbs that I have been in the last several years and am losing weight and actually feeling pretty great. I lost five pounds in June with excessive cupcake consumption, so I’m interested in seeing what July brings (though, in truth, both my husband’s and my birthdays are mid-month, so I’m sure there will be plenty of cake to go around this month too). I plan to write about my experience with this and my ‘why’ when I have some free time because it’s been a lot more freeing than Whole30 was for me…

Lastly, meal prep. I am pretty much throwing meal planning out the window aside from buying a good bit of shrimp, chicken, burgers/hot dogs and a then a bunch of vegetables, because we’ve been grilling nightly and it’s nice to have less planning in the summer but still have really healthy meals. Last night, we marinated some chicken and grilled that along with asparagus and corn on the cob; the night before, we grilled shrimp and peppers and made fajita pitas (SO GOOD). Summer cooking is so much easier. Tonight, we are doing a different marinade for chicken, grilled zucchini and more corn on the cob. I can’t wait!

Here’s to hoping July is as freeing as I need it to be but that I also am able to hold myself accountable to the few workouts a week that I’m planning.

meals, june 10-13

We spent the weekend at my in-laws’ house, celebrating my BIL’s 50th birthday. It was a busy weekend but everyone had a good time and it was quite the celebration. It’s been a bit chaotic because my husband was traveling last week for work. He came home Friday, the kids did their chores and we decided to leave on Saturday morning so that I could take a yoga class and regroup after a week of solo parenting without my typical schedule and before a weekend with the in-laws. We stayed until after lunch today; then we all loaded back into the car (Brutus, too) to drive the five hours back home.

This is a short, busy week of meal planning and we are still in the school year, so school lunches are still necessary.

Tonight, we are going to order delivery when we get home. I think we will try to keep things healthy with salads — we have a $15 coupon for GrubHub and, frankly, after a day of traveling, it seems like the best possible day to use it.

My school lunch definitely goes down hill by the time June hits. We have a few corn tortillas that I’ll use for quesadillas and some meatloaf my MIL left in the freezer. Otherwise, I’ll likely pack salads for the kids and just keep things super simple. Breakfasts are basically on par with lunches — we have a few frozen breakfast sandwiches and mini muffins; I’ll probably get back to making smoothies to go with these just to round them out nutritionally/ensure there are some nutrients besides sodium…

Monday night, We are going to recreate CAVA’s bowls — rice, romaine, chicken, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta, hummus, banana peppers, and tzatiki. We will serve this with Joseph’s oat flour pita. Should be good.

Tuesday night, we are going to do nachos. 3 has a 9-hour clinic appointment and I’ve been stressed out for WEEKS over it. I know that he and I will be exhausted and I figured we could either order food or make something convenient and comforting. I’m opting for the latter to try and at least nourish our bodies after such a stressful day. We will make nachos with shredded cheese, jalapeƱos (for us, not the kids), black beans, tomatoes, and salsa with some plain Greek yogurt to top is all off.

Wednesday, I’m concerned that I’m just going to be spent still from Tuesday’s appointment and will be craving comfort foods. (I’m basing this off of every single clinic appointment we’ve had. So, I’m just planning on leftovers/nachos.

We have a date night and it’ll be nice for us to get out of the house. We are hoping that the weather cooperates and that we can just make Greek salads from the week’s leftovers and head to the beach to enjoy them. We will make the same for the kids — we have some chicken in the freezer specifically for days like these so that we can grill it in a hurry and have a quick, healthy meal on hand.