Daily Life · Family

4th of July/Family Reunion Recap

It’s been a busy few weeks for us with several visitors over the 4th of July, a family reunion out of town, and Declan and I spending a few days back at my parents’ house. We’re back to our normal routine this week, and I think Declan is glad for the slower pace. 😉

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Not too sure what to think of his first 4th of July. 😉

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My friend Courtney picked up a few things for Declan (He’s spoiled already!), and this fedora had us cracking up. That’s a look!

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Little man was loving his auntie Lanaya. He got lots of cuddles in with her!

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Of course I have to keep the tradition from my childhood going of having a classic Old Navy flag tee!

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Posin’!

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Love this little guy!

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Behind the scenes: here’s how he was really feeling about taking all of these pictures. 😉 Four of my friends were in town for the 4th and we had a full photoshoot trying to get the perfect picture- haha.

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Our little family at my family reunion at Flint Oak in Fall River, Kansas. Declan was a little overwhelmed with all of the people and was pretty fussy. The whole point was for him to meet all of his extended relatives, but he just wanted mom. Womp, womp. He still was a trooper, and we enjoyed seeing everyone and enjoying the beautiful area!

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Declan with my cousin’s daughter, Laikyn. It was so cute how much she wanted to hold him. 🙂

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We’re tolerating tummy time and doing so well now!

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My new favorite outfit on him- that hood!!!

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P.S. Mom- don’t be mad I posted this pic. 😉 Too cute!

 

Have a great day!

 

Daily Life · Family

Life Lately

Good morning! It’s been the busiest few weeks of the summer for us, seeing lots of people and traveling more than usual. We had some friends visit for the 4th of July and also went to a family reunion on my side (those pictures coming soon). This week, I’ve been back home at my parents’ house for a few days since I had a dentist appointment. Next week is going to feel awfully boring and slow. 😉

It’s time for another photo dump of little Declan’s life lately. Enjoy!

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Now that Declan has found his hands, he also loves grabbing toys. This soft puppy, from Grandma and Grandpa Sommers is a favorite!

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I can’t get enough sleeping Declan pictures. He woke up around six on this morning and I wasn’t feeling like getting back into bed so I let him sleep on my lap. I love how he always puts his little hands by his face.

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We went back to my in-laws a couple weeks ago and spent part of the day Saturday outside since it was so nice. Declan is a big fan of being outside, and he fell right asleep as Grandma Holly was rocking him. 🙂 Does he look comfy or what?!

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This kid and his faces!!

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We met up with my parents at one of their friends’ houses in Manhattan. Declan got to take his first “swim.” He was tired and hungry, so it didn’t last long, but he sure looked cute in his get-up. 😉

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That’s a little bit of life lately! Enjoy the rest of your week!

Question of the Day: What is a highlight of your week so far?

Books

Summer Reads

After taking a little reading for pleasure break when I was pregnant (I read alllll the pregnancy/baby books instead) and for the first few weeks after having Declan (#IWasTooTiredToThink), I’ve been soaking up all the fun novels that have been on my “must-read” list!

My list is ever-growing so there’s still so many I want to read, but here are some of the ones I’ve read lately. There are a lot of good ones! Hello, pool reads!

I write these posts during nap times so instead of my several paragraph long reviews like in the past, you’re going to get the couple sentence cliffnotes edition. 😉

READ IT:

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Dive on into these books!
  • Winter in Paradise (Paradise #1) by Elin Hilderbrand
    • Irene discovers a devastating secret about her beloved husband after he is killed in a plane crash off the island of St. John. Irene and her sons travel down to the island and uncover details of a secret life that her husband had been living.
    • 4/5
  • You Take It From Here by Pamela Ribon
    • This story is about two best friends, one of whom has terminal cancer. Smidge, who knows she has limited time left, leaves her friend Danielle with a request that she pick up where Smidge left off and basically live her life after she’s gone. Danielle wrestles with keeping her own identity, while still wanting to be loyal to her best friend.
    • 4/5
  • The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
    • Whoa! This one was strange and intense! When Alice and Jake get married, one of their gifts is very out of the ordinary: an invitation to join an exclusive group called “The Pact,” designed to help marriages last. The couple is intrigued, but after they join, they realize how involved it is. They must adhere to all of the countless rules, and there are consequences to pay when one of them breaks the rules.
    • 4/5
  • The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
    • The first (and only time) Emma when to summer camp, it ended in disaster: her three cabin mates went missing and were never found. The camp closed with a very tarnished image. Years later, the camp opens up again and Emma is encouraged to come back as a painting instructor. As she settles into camp, she realizes that the past is still there, haunting her. She makes it her mission to once and for all find out what happened to those three girls that went missing. Discovering the secret will cost her a lot though.
    • 4/5
  • It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
    • Lily grew up in a home where her dad was abusive to her mom. Because of this, she swears to never get involved in something like that. She meets an intelligent, sensitive, stubborn neurosurgeon named Ryle who sparks her interest. As she gets involved with him, she can’t help comparing their relationship to her first love, Atlas. She must make tough choices to figure out what is best for her.
    • 4/5
  • All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
    • I know this book has been controversial because of the main relationship in it, but it’s about so much more than just a young girl and an older man. Wavy is the daughter of drug dealers and has had to basically raise her little brother, with no parental intervention. When one of her dad’s thugs, Kellen, has an accident outside their house, they begin a friendship/love. It’s unexpected and many don’t understand it, but it’s strong. (How cool that this was written by a K-State grad!!)
    • 4/5

 

There were a couple “flop” books that I read too. See the three below that I say, “Don’t waste your time” to.

SKIP IT:

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Declan says, “These are not worth it!”
  • The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
    • Myriam and her husband decide to find a nanny for their two young children, and they feel like they hit the jackpot with Louise. She is proper, quiet, and goes above and beyond her nanny duties, even cleaning the house and hosting parties. The family becomes more and more dependent on Louise to keep their household running, and tensions start to mount, as jealousy and suspicious behaviors appear. I had high hopes for this one, but it felt like it drug on to me and the plot fell flat.
    • 2/5
  • The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting
    • Lilah’s first love, Ethan, left her to become a famous hockey player. It’s something she is still recovering from, eight years later. When Ethan moves back to town and wants to pick up where they left off, Lilah must deal with her conflicting feelings of love for him and confusion of what he really wants. This one was just okay- pretty cheesy and boring at times.
    • 2/5
  • Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
    • I picked this book up because my library was featuring it as a “must-read.” This might be one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. Little Hanna refuses to talk and is infatuated with her dad, who thinks she is the most perfect little angel. Hanna’s mom, Suzette, though sees a different side. Though Hanna doesn’t talk, she does other manipulative things and shows an evil side with her that starts to scare Suzette. Suzette becomes scared for her safety and starts to think that Hanna needs to go away. The struggle between mother and daughter gets intense!
    • 2/5

 

Currently reading: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Question of the Day: What are some good books you’ve read lately?

 

Daily Life

Happy (early) 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July (a day early)!

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I have friends coming into town for the 4th. As excited as I am to see them, I know Declan is just as excited for some auntie snuggles!

Hope you and yours enjoy the holiday tomorrow! Our will be lowkey on the actual fireworks part but should be fun nonetheless!

Here’s hoping that Declan isn’t up all night because of the fireworks and does a lot of this instead…

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Have a good one!

Recipes

Balsamic-Glazed Beef Skewers

You’re not just planning on having the same ole burgers and hot dogs for the 4th of July, are you?!

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Declan says, “Hold up! Try something different!” 😉

This recipe from Taste of Home for Balsamic-Glazed Beef Skewers is just as easy as throwing hot dogs or burgers on the grill but feels much fancier. We love it for a quick dinner in the summer! Bonus: there are only five ingredients!

Balsamic-Glazed Beef Skewers

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 lb. beef top sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (or other veggies of your preference)

 

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette, barbecue sauce, and mustard until combined. Reserve 1/4 cup marinade for basting. Add beef to the remaining marinade and toss to coat.
  2. Alternately thread beef and tomatoes on metal or wooden skewers. (If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them beforehand so they don’t scorch on the grill.)
  3. Grill skewers, covered, over medium heat 6-9 minutes or until beef reaches desired doneness, turning occasionally and basting frequently with reserved marinade in the last 3 minutes of grilling.

 

*Serve with rice and a side salad for an easy summer meal!

*If using other veggies than cherry tomatoes, try to pick soft ones to ensure that they are done the same time as the beef. Peppers and onions work great. If using zucchini, like I did in the picture above, be prepared that it may still be a little crunchy.

*We have found that these taste better (in our opinion) if you use a sweeter barbecue sauce, instead of a more vinegary one. The sweeter sauces help the marinade to almost caramelize on the steak!

Enjoy!

Daily Life · Family

Life Lately

Good morning! Today is one of my favorite type of posts- a big ole photo dump of all things Declan. I take SO many pictures of my little man each day, and while my mom and mother-in-law always get their “Deckie of the Day” picture, they just sit on my phone otherwise.

As usual with these, I’ll let the extra cute pictures (I’m a little biased 😉 ) do the talking!

While Travis was in Wisconsin a few weeks ago for his brother’s med school graduation, Declan and I stayed with my parents and had a blast!

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My grandma came out and spent a day with us.

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So fun to see her rocking my baby! How time flies!

Declan loved all the little songs and games my mom did with him.

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I took Declan to a Kindermusik class two weeks ago, and it ran through his nap time so I wasn’t sure how it would go. He loved the music and hung with it the whole time. About a mile down the road though, he passed out hard and stayed that way the whole drive home!

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We bundled Deck up one night and sat on our screened-in porch while it was raining. When is it not raining?!

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Sitting up like a big boy; He didn’t know what to think!

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Love his smiles!

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He passed out on the nursing pillow one afternoon. That little pose kills me!

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Deck is all ready for summer with his new hat and shades. He didn’t like them at first, but I think he’s warming up to the idea.

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I have like 500 more pictures, but I better stop there for now. 😉

Hope you have a great rest of your week!

Question of the Day: What is the highlight of your week so far?

Daily Life · Family

10 Tips for Managing Gestational Diabetes

When I found out that I failed my glucose test during pregnancy and would have to make some changes because of Gestational Diabetes, at first it felt like the world was ending and that I wouldn’t be able to handle this “diagnosis” (Dramatic, huh?!).

I couldn’t believe that I could have this when eating healthy and exercising is such a big part of my life. I already felt overwhelmed as it was getting ready for baby, and then with this on top of that, I wanted to cry (and I did- many times. Thanks pregnancy hormones 😉 ). Also, watching my sweet husband eat cookies every night while I couldn’t indulge felt like pure torture. 🙂

My doctor had basically told me ahead of time that I would no doubt pass the glucose test, and that she didn’t see many people get diagnosed with GD. I think that made it even harder for me to accept it because I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong. The more people I talk to though, the more I realize how common it is. Just in talking to my coworkers alone, SIX of them had it during at least one pregnancy. You can’t control if you get it or not (to some extent- unless you are pounding sugar on the reg); it’s how your body reacts to sugar while pregnant because of the hormones in your placenta.

As I got into the routine of my new GD diet though, I came to actually appreciate it, as it made me feel better and not gain so much weight during pregnancy. (If you would have told me at first that I’d come to appreciate it, I would have laughed in your face.)

The idea of carb counting for gestational diabetes is simple, once you get in the routine of it. You have a certain number of carbs to get each day, and instead of eating them in large sums at each meal, you spread them throughout the day by eating small meals and frequent snacks to help your blood sugar stay stable. In the past, I have dealt with sugar crashes after snacking too much or indulging in a lot of dessert. This “plan” helped me to still enjoy those (incredibly yummy) things, but in more manageable quantities so that my body could easily process the sugar. Yay for no more crashes!

While it may feel overwhelming and so unfair when you first fail the glucose test (It is!), here are ten tips that helped me to manage my gestational diabetes (both physically AND mentally!). I obviously have no medical background on these tips- just sharing what worked for me after some trial and error!

one. Give yourself time to feel pity, and then dive on in and accept it.

I can’t tell you how many times I cried after I initially failed the first glucose test. I cried because I didn’t want to do the three-hour test. I cried when I met with the lady at the “Diabetes Center.” I cried when I picked up my test strips and Ketone strips. You get the picture. I was an emotional mess.

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It was an overwhelming amount of information to take in. Once I realized that this would have to be my new norm though, I tried to follow it as best as I could, knowing that it was for my health and my baby’s. I basically had to tell myself to suck it up and just do it, and then it became easy after that. 🙂

two. Always meal plan and have accessible snacks.

I got my GD diagnosis in the middle of the school year, and if you’re a teacher, you know that teachers don’t get many chances to just sit and catch their breath during the day. I knew that I had to have three meals and four snacks during the day, and it couldn’t be just anything. It required a lot of planning on my part, but it really paid off to have my snacks portioned out and ready to go each day. It also made it a lot easier when I could just grab my snack in the middle of a lesson and not worry about finding something random.

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By the way, if you are looking for an easy grab-and-go breakfast that is gestational diabetes friendly, try these Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cups. My baby is three months old now, and these are STILL my favorite go-to breakfast. They are filling and taste like a rich muffin! I always make sure to have a batch in my freezer, ready to heat up! Add peanut butter on top for some added protein.

three. Balance proteins with carbs to slow sugar absorption.

With every single meal and snack, I quickly figured out that I needed to eat some kind of protein with my carb to help my blood sugar levels from spiking. I read countless tips online about what to eat on a GD diet, and this one really works! By pairing a protein with your carb, it helps your body absorb the sugar slower, making you feel better and eliminating a sugar rush/crash.

This was easy to do for meals, but I tried to get change up my snacks so I wasn’t always eating the same thing. Some of my go-tos were:

  • Granola Bar
  • Nuts and an apple (or other fruit)
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Popcorn and nuts/cheese
  • Banana and peanut butter
  • Crackers and hummus

All of those snacks were easy to pack for work and felt filling.

four. Follow those portion sizes!

On my first meeting at the Diabetes Center, I was given no less than twenty pages of handouts for managing GD, counting carbs, sample meal plans, portion size guidelines, and meal logs. At first, the portion sizes seemed incredibly small. However, the key is loading up on the “free” foods, like vegetables and proteins to help keep you full.

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I noticed that if I just loaded up my plate with carbs and ignored the portion size guidelines, my sugars would almost always be over what they should be. Thus, for a while, I actually measured out my 1/3 cup of pasta or my 1/2 cup of fruit to make sure I wasn’t going over my carb counts. Once I did that for awhile, I could eyeball it, but sticking as close to those recommended portions as possible is key! My mom said everyone should be following that diet, as we realized that we easily eat 2-3 times the recommended amount when we don’t think we’re putting that much on our plate!

five. Load up on water and rest, rest, rest!

Even if I had a day where I ate so clean and exercised, if I didn’t drink enough water, my numbers would always be over. Chugging water all day long helped my numbers to be lower (and for me to feel better too). 

Another key was remembering to rest. After moving around all day while teaching, I was exhausted by the end of the day. Many times, I made myself leave the dishes and save the laundry so that I could just sit down and put my feet up (That was hard for me, as I have to have a clean kitchen!). I wasn’t sleeping the best at night anyways, so any down time I could get in the evenings helped. There are so many factors in what can make your blood sugar levels high, and rest is a big one. If I didn’t sleep great the night before, you guessed it- my numbers would be high. Try to sneak in rest whenever possible.

six. Don’t freak out if you have a high reading.

Like I mentioned above, you wouldn’t believe how many things affect your blood sugar. I’ve always been super sensitive to changes in pressure/weather, and I was shocked to see that my numbers were SO high during a few pressure changes that we had that early spring. I did some more research and found that pressure affects a lot of people’s blood sugars, no matter how well you eat.

Another big one? Being sick.

I picked up a little cold from some of my students, and again, I noticed that none of my usual tricks helped my blood sugar. It was still so high, and I was doing everything they suggested!

While these were both frustrating, once I realized what was making my sugars high, it helped me so much. I was mostly terrified that the dietician was going to see my high numbers and put me on insulin right away. However, she was so understanding and reminded me that they just look at your averages to see if you need further help.

I had many days where a high reading totally dictated my mood and put me in the worst funk. I wish I would have realized earlier that a few high numbers aren’t a reason to freak out. It’s okay to indulge once in awhile, as long as you try to stay consistent otherwise. Once I learned this, I was much happier and didn’t feel so guilty eating my chocolate (one square of dark chocolate- all about moderation 😉 ) each night.

seven. Exercise after meals to get your sugars down.

This tip came from my sister-in-law who had GD with two of her pregnancies. Exercise after meals helps lower blood sugar. She told me that she would walk after meals to lower her readings, and it really helped. Through more research, I realized that there is a sweet spot for the time you exercise after a meal. Ideally, it should be within thirty minutes to an hour after eating to help get it down the best. Sometimes, I was waiting to walk much later than this, and it wasn’t having much of an impact.

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Ready to do my evening walk!

Since I was teaching after my breakfast and lunch and constantly moving around the classroom, those two meals were covered. After dinner though was the toughest. I was so tired, but not wanting a high reading was enough motivation to get me on the treadmill for an easy walk. I tried to shoot for anywhere between 15-30 minutes of walking after dinner. Listening to music or watching a show helped motivate me to just get it done too!

eight. Log everything so that you can start to detect patterns.

Pregnancy made me feel like the most forgetful person (and I still haven’t gotten it back- ha), so utilizing the meal logs that the dietician gave me were key. I’m a very visual person so seeing the carb numbers and the meals/snacks written out really helped me. I made it my evening routine to plan and write out the next day’s meals and snacks so that I could be prepared. Also, having food written down and seeing what my blood sugar was like after eating it helped me to detect patterns of what foods my body was not doing well with.

I carried these sheets everywhere with me…basically because if I didn’t, I would forget to log what I’d eaten or my numbers. They were a mess by the end of each week, but they helped me!

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For example, one night I made chicken pot pie and even portioned mine out appropriately, but my numbers were still sky high. After having it for lunch the next day with the same results, I could tell that maybe that was a meal I needed to save for after pregnancy. 🙂 When I told Norma, the dietician, (the cutest little lady in her 70s), she said, “Oh my, yes. Chicken pot pie. That will do it!” Haha.

Logging this also helped me notice days when pressure changes or sickness affected my numbers.

nine. Talk to people who have had it before.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, there are SO many more people who have had GD than what I ever expected. During one staff meeting at school, right after I failed the glucose test, I was talking about it at a table with seven other coworkers, and six of them at that table had experienced it too. They were all different ages, body types, etc., and they each had their own tips for getting through it, which helped me wrap my brain around it much easier.

Also, my sister-in-law was such a help and she gave me tips and answered my questions, which put me further at ease.

I was embarrassed that I had it in the beginning, but realizing that so many other people have had it too made me come to terms with it better. Talking it out is just therapeutic. 🙂

ten. Remind yourself of the purpose.

Above all else, when it was difficult to follow or I wanted to ruminate on how unfair it was, I tried to keep reminding myself of the purpose- a healthy baby. That alone gave me all the motivation I needed, even if it was tough. Picturing that little cute baby makes you want to do everything in your power to keep him/her safe, healthy, and happy!

He was worth it! 😉

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Question of the Day: Do you know someone who has had GD? It’s so much more common than you’d think!