Friday, January 30, 2015

January Favorite Finds + The Animal Print Shop Giveaway

January has come and gone in a flash! Today, Elizabeth and I are sharing our favorite finds for January. Be sure to check out her list here!

Dry Shampoo
I tried this brand at my friend Meagan's house when Ryan and I took our road trip up there at the beginning of this month and then bought my own bottle when we got home. It smells great and doesn't show in dark hair like some others do. You can buy it at CVS or online here (but CVS was cheaper!).

VS Pajamas

I love this cute pair of pajamas that I got for Christmas this year, but they're sold out, so I found a few others that are super cute and on sale:

Love this sleep tee

and this one in these two patterns:

J. Crew Slippers
These J. Crew slippers are so comfy! I got them for Christmas also and like that they have a sole on the bottom so that I can walk outside with them if I need to. They're on sale now too! 

Sam Edelman Boots
Matt got me these Sam Edelman boots for Christmas and they are SO comfortable! I got the dark brow, but they also come in black and whiskey, AND they're 20% off!

Oxyclean Spray
A little random considering the rest of this list so far, but this stuff is amazing. It gets strains out of everything! You can get it anywhere-meven our grocery store carries it. You will love it!

Yellowtail Sweet Red Roo Wine

This has been my new favorite wine recently. It's sweet but not too sweet to enjoy with a meal, or while cooking a meal like I like to do. :) And a regular priced bottle at our grocery store is just over $6, so inexpensive too!

Skinnytaste Fig Balsamic Roasted Pork Tenderloin
I have been crazy about this recipe lately. I've followed it exactly 2-3 times and have also used the marinade on chicken and loved it as well. It is SO easy and so delicious!

Well that's it for my list! 

What are YOU loving this month?!

And don't forget to check out Elizabeth's list here and read on for our sweet giveaway!

If you follow E, you may have seen her post about her baby girl nursery mood board in which she shared this cool flamingo print:

 Well today, The Animal Print Shop is giving one lucky reader any 11x13 print ($75 value) for FREE!
Here are a few of my favorite prints on display in homes around the country from the The Animal Print Shop Blog:

How great are those?!
I'm having visions of future nurseries at this very moment. :)

Check them out here and tell me which one you love the most!
Or even better- Want one of your own? Just follow the simple steps below to enter. Winner will be announced next week!
 Contest is open to US residents only at this time. Sorry non-US friends! 


Thursday, January 29, 2015

#nelsendays2015 weeks 3 & 4

Somehow two weeks have flown by, January is almost over, and we have a 6 month old. Where is the time going?!

Ryan turned six months yesterday, but we won't be able to go for his doctor's visit until next Wednesday, so I'm going to hold off on posting about this past month until we get his stats and such. I'm very curious to find out his height/weight- this boy is growing like a weed!

I posted here about our life lately, but here's a closer look at our last two weeks:

Day 15: 
Mall dates with Nonna are one of our favorite activities. As are lunch dates at Nordstom's Bistro Cafe elevator selfies. :)

Day 16:
Matt and I had one of the best meals we've had in a long time when we went out for a date last Friday, but we completely failed at documenting our night with a picture. This was our third attempt... and all three cut off Matt's face. haha. So we went with it. Oh and I have meatball in my teeth. Stellar shot.

Day 17:
Finally back at one of our favorite hike spots after too many rainy and cold weekends!

Day 18:
We went back the next day and brought Matt's mom with us. About half way through the hike, I realized I lost my phone. Less than a minute after we stopped to figure out what we should do, Matt's phone rang. A sweet man found my phone, gave us directions to his very nice home, and delivered my phone back to me WITH a pound of freshly ground coffee. What?! How nice is that?! If you're looking for good coffee from a company that gives back, check out Pheonix Community Coffee Co. It is really tasty!

Day 19:
This boo. He woke up from one of his naps about 30 minutes after I laid him down and then had this big grin to give me when I went to get him. :)

Day 20:
That Dr. Seuss sure knows how to write a good book. We broke out this collection of six books in one  before nap time, and Ryan wiggled and squealed through the whole thing. Had I not already posted my list of top 10 books, this one would have surely made the cut!

Day 21:
We have a new weekly routine of going to Aunt Karen's house and we bring the whole fam along, Tal included. I'm loving this stage we're in right now with our sweet kiddos, and Tally sure loves getting to go along for the fun!

Day 22:
Last week, I spent one nap trying to help Ryan learn how to sleep on his back (he's been a tummy sleeper since almost the beginning) since he had started accidentally flipping to his back in the middle of the night and didn't know what to do once he got there (poor buddy would look like an upside down turtle and be all sorts of confused!). Anyway, this is where we compromised with that nap. ;) But I am happy to say (someone knock on wood quick) that he has been doing SO much better and has either not flipped at all or gotten himself back to his tummy when he flips over on accident. I'm learning small victories in the sleeping department are actually quite huge. :)

Day 23:
Tally wedged himself behind Ryan's seat while I was getting ready. And then Ryan shot me the biggest grin when I went to snap a picture. :)

Day 24:
We spent last weekend at my parents' house in Monroe and walked downtown to the Winter Festival with my sister and her boys. We had such a great time! More on that here.

Day 25:
Sunday evening, the four of us (we count our dog as a person because we're crazy like that) took a walk through the park to end our weekend. Every Sunday I wish the weekends were longer!

Day 26:
Monday we met a friend of mine and her daughter at Souper Jenny and these two enjoyed a little date while their mamas enjoyed lunch. 

Day 27:
On Tuesday, I dropped Ryan off at the God's Little Garden nursery while I went to MOPs. It was so hard leaving him even for an hour and a half! I feel like he went from being an infant to a smiling, playing boy overnight. I was out of there fast to pick him up when it was over!

Day 28:
6 months old and scooting across the floor.. this little boo is growing up fast!

Don't forget to swing by tomorrow for a list of our favorite finds for January and a great giveaway!

See you then!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On training our kids (and ourselves) to eat like the French

First of all, I feel like I should be honest and say that after reading two books on French culture,  I honestly don't think I would survive in France. And that is not a knock on the French. It's quite the opposite actually. The French have got their stuff together.

Before Ryan was born, I read a book called Bringing Up Bebe that I found to be really interesting. I even went so far as to say that it was quite possibly the best parenting book I had ever read (and I read a LOT of parenting books in the years leading up to us starting our little family). It gave some practical advice on areas such a teaching indepence, confidence, respect, discipline, and healthy eating habits. The eating habits of the French, particularly how well the children in France eat, was fascinating to me. I mean who doesn't want their kids to eat and enjoy a variety of healthy foods?

So about a month ago, when I came across this book: French Kids Eat Everything, I knew I wanted to read it.

It's worth mentioning that I am NOT a great eater who enjoys a variety of healthy foods. My favorite food groups are carbs and dairy. And since being pregnant and becoming a mom, I've had to force (strongly encourage?... no force) myself to eat more fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood. I realize that the only way my kids will eat well or be open to trying new things is if Matt and I set a positive example for them.

SO, that's the back story of why I wanted to read this book. That and Ryan just started solids this month so the timing seemed extra appropriate.

One of my favorite parts about this book was the list of 10 "food rules" she observed while living in France with her family. Here are a few of my other take-aways from the book:
  • It's okay to be hungry in between meals- So this spoke to me... as in for myself. The French have four square meals per day: breakfast,  lunch, gouter (their "snack"), and dinner. And those meals pretty much happen at the same time every day for everyone: 7:30, 12:30, 4:30, and 7:30. Aside from the planned gouter, they do not snack. Period. They also eat all meals at the table. If a child says he is hungry, the parents positively respond by saying that he'll really enjoy his next meal or talk about what they're having for dinner that night to get them excited about the next meal, but they never offer something to tide them over because they don't want to spoil his appetite for the main meal.
  • Food is not a pacifier, a distraction, a toy, a bribe, a reward, or a substitute for discipline- The French are big on not tying food to emotion. The author mentioned that scientists have found that when food is used as a reward, kids tend to prefer that type of food, which makes sense (and in most cases, usually sweets- desserts and/or candy are used for rewards). This also though falls into the category of absolutely no snacking in between meals.
  • Create house rules about food- The no snacking rule might not work for everyone (and by everyone, I mean us), so I liked the author's ideas of setting up food rules about snacking and other "junk" food (the French refer to anything processed as "junk"- yikes). For example, kids can grab fruits or veggies without asking but all other foods must have permission. They also set up rules about certain foods their kids were wanting (particularly fast food when they moved back to Canada... France has hardly any fast food restaurants) since they believe that nearly all food should be enjoyed in moderation. The rule was "our family only eats fast food on days that begin with F." I thought this was a cute and "official-sounding" way of saying there's only one day they're allowed to have fast food, but still allowed it into their diets so that it wasn't banned completely. Side note, I've read a lot recently on using the phrase, "Our family" or "We" or "The insert last name" when communicating with kids about things you may do differently than their friends. I like it as an alternative to just saying no. It feels like there's more weight and explanation behind it, even though it basically is just saying no.
  • Valuing food and order of food- The French are big on teaching and talking about food (texture, taste, how it was prepared, etc.), and the order of food, rather than saying things like, "Eat it because it's good for you," or "You can't have dessert until you finish your meal." The "talking up" food, coming to the table hungry, and making eating times a time to sit and enjoy conversation (no matter the age, kids are at the table and a part of the conversation that happens at the table) makes eating a positive experience and gives kids a better chance at liking what is being served. If the kids don't like something they're served, the parents nonchalantly say something like, "That's okay, you'll like it when you're older," but never offer anything else and never force kids to eat. They also use the phrase, "First this (veggies), then that (dessert)," to explain order of eating rather than making the dessert sound like a reward for eating the main dish (which they think devalues that healthy food and builds up the dessert).
  • Parents schedule meals and menus, not the kids- Choices are not offered. Kids eat what is served or they're extra hungry for the next meal, but it's not punitive (as it sounds!). Usually new foods are introduced with other foods the kids are sure to like, and if they don't like it, they know that they'll be extra hungry for the next meal. It's more a mindset than a battle at each meal. The kids understand the food rules, so there's rarely an argument about them. (Consistency is a beautiful thing, but so much easier said than done!) I can tell you right now that this will be WAY hard for me to stick to if I have the slightest feeling that my kids are still hungry after a meal, but I think the idea makes sense and I'd like to be able to do it in a positive way if I can!
  • Don't disguise healthy foods- This goes along with how the French teach their kids about foods. Two ideas I like: Happy Plates, and Food Experiments. Happy Plates are a scheduled snack (remember the snack only happens once/day at 4:30... but I don't think the time matters as much as the idea of planned eating) of fruits and/or veggies that are designed on the plate in the shape of a smiley face or other fun shape. It associates the healthy foods as fun and positive. Food Experiments are used with younger kids who may be pickier eaters. Different foods are placed in a bag and the kids take them out and taste them, describing their tastes and laying them into separate categories on the table (salty, spicy, soft, chewy, etc.). The kids understand going in that they might not like the taste of every thing in the bag; they're job is to simply create categories and separate the foods into those categories. I thought this was a great idea for kids with food phobias or a fear of trying new foods in general- what kid doesn't love a science experiment?!

So those are my take-aways from this book. It may sound like I gave a lot away, but there is so much more to be read in the pages! You can purchase a copy for yourself here.

I'd also love to hear any tricks that have worked for your family. We are at the very, very beginning of this journey of creating healthy eaters who enjoy food, so any input/ideas you can give would be awesome!

On Friday, Elizabeth and I will be sharing our Favorite Finds for January and we'll be hosting a sweet giveaway for you guys, so make sure you check back here on Friday!