Meet the Sullivans: October 2014

October 31, 2014

Five on Friday

Happy Halloween! Today is a rainy cold day for us here, but we'll still brave the rain later for some trick-or-treating. For now though, we're spending the day dry and warm inside.

1. Halloween at School - Yesterday we had a Halloween party and parade at O's school and it was so much fun for all the children. Everyone came to school in their costumes, including our little dino! I was surprised he stayed in his costume for most of the morning and even kept the hat on. They paraded and trick-or-treated around school and had a special snack. He'll be suiting up again this evening for some trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.

2. Sugar Bit Winner - I drew the winner for our Sugar Bit giveaway this week! Congratulations Jenny J. I will be emailing you and Natasha this afternoon!

3. Save a Little Love for Me - It is so easy to get worn out and wrapped up in the busyness and stress of our days and leave nothing of ourselves for our spouse at the end of the day. This blog post encourages couples to not forget each other as we give our days our all. It's a great read in this season of life when our little children need us so much and our careers are blooming.

4. Birthday Fun - I had lovely birthday this year! I dropped O off at school and did a little shopping. Keith came home early with a cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes, we ordered pizza from my favorite place for dinner and watched the Giants play in the World Series.

5. Bracelets - I added two new bracelets to my collection this week, the Gold Initial Bracelet from Gigglosophy that you see above and another Alex & Ani.

I hope everyone has a dry and safe Halloween!

And I'm linking up with a whole lot of people today! 
Oh Hey Friday with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife!
Friday Favorites with A Little Bit of EverythingMomfessionals, and Grace and Love.

October 30, 2014

Surviving Sick Days

First of: HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to the San Francisco Giants on winning the World Series! It was a close game, and honestly I am glad that torture is over. We kept O up a little past his bedtime so we could all watch the end of the game. I still get nervous thinking about how close it was. Game 7, 3-2 Giants, bottom of the 9th with the Royals at bat, with 2 outs. We we're all holding our breath.

I'd love to take O to the parade on Friday, but it will be right in the middle of his nap, raining, a huge rowdy crowd, on Halloween, so we're going to just watch from home in our Giants gear!

This is week five of our One Year & Beyond series and today we're talking about how we deal when our children are sick.

When O has been sick with something tough like the flu, hand foot & mouth or has a fever I surrender all expectations and limitations for the day. I cancel our obligations and throw our to do list out the window. I know all my energy is going to be focused on caring for our sweet little child.

When O is sick I let him relax on the couch and we watch movies, I tell him stories I make up, we read books, play with is action figure and cuddle. We surrender to doing whatever will make him comfortable and get better, so the laundry, email and all other chores have to wait.

All of a sudden any little bit of desire you may have to satisfy your own needs (shower, food, maybe go to the bathroom) goes out the window and the momadrenaline kicks in that allows you to stay up all night holding that sweet, sick child and power through the next day (or more) with very little sleep.

Here are some of the things we have on hand for when O is under the weather:

1. Boogie Wipes - When O's nose gets a little dry and chapped from a few days of a cold these wipes are all he'll let near his nose. They're a lifesaver. They come in travel packs too, which we keep in his room and in the car.
2. Braun Forehead Thermometer - O has no problem using the this forehead thermometer as long as he gets to take my temp too. I like that it's easy to use and the screen lights up green, yellow or red with the temp.
3. Tissues - Duh, but we keep them in every room, in the car and a few travel packs in my purse.
4. Crane Cool Mist Humidifier - A must in his room at night when he'd got a cough and cold. We know he can rest more easily when the humidity helps his breathing. It also helps that this one ins cute since it takes up a ton of space on the dresser.
5. Vicks Waterless Vaporizer - We plug this in on low when O goes to sleep and then turn it off after about an our because it gets little too strong, but the cool sensation helps O feel like he's breathing better so he can rest.
6. Little Remedies Cherry Pain Reliever - O's favorite flavor is cherry -- he won't get near the grape or bubble gum.
7. NoseFrida Snot Sucker - Although O can blow his nose now, we still use the Snot Sucker at night before bed to help clear things out. The NoseFrida sound gross (don't worry, there is a plug that keeps the fluids from making their way up to your mouth!), but it really works so well.
8. Honey Pops - The toddler solution to cough drops! And they're kind of a fun treat for when the little guy is sick.

How do you survive those dreaded sick days with your children? Check out the other mama's blogs for their tips. And be sure to link up with us below if you also have a post on this topic.

In the difficulty of motherhood, it's so important to find other mamas to relate to. Toddlers can be a handful and leave you wondering what to do next. This series is here to help you navigate through toddlerhood while being able to relate to other mamas going through the same thing. We may not always know what we are doing but we give it our best shot anyway. Come back each week to check out our new topic and read along with the other hosts of our One Year and Beyond series!

Oct 2: Toddler Diaper Bag Essentials
Oct 9: Learning to love your post-pregnancy body
Oct 16: Busy Toddler Activities
Oct 23: Keeping in Shape While Caring for a Toddler
Oct 30: Sick Day Tips
Nov 6: How to Not Lose Your Patience with your Toddler
Nov 13: Favorite Toddler Outings

October 29, 2014

Personal Chef - wouldn't that be nice?

I have a little confession to make, as much as I love too cook, I sometimes fantasize about what life would be like if we had a personal chef. I know, totally crazy, but wouldn't it be nice to be able to tell someone your family's likes and dislikes and have them do all the shopping, chopping, cooking and cleaning? In my little dream world I would have the chef take care of dinner during the week, but on the weekend I would have he / she just leave us all the ingredients pre-chopped and cleaned so I could still enjoy some of the cooking without all the dreaded prep, and of course they could have the weekend off. Wouldn't it be nice? 

We all have nights when we just can't seem to fathom or find the time to cook dinner. It happens to all of us, even the over planners. There are the obvious options of PB&J or Chinese take-out, but what if you could just reach into your freezer and pull out a delicious and healthy meal when life throws you a curve ball?

Well, I'm pretty sure I've found the next best thing! We recently had the pleasure of trying Sous Kitchen.

Sous Kitchen is currently serving families in California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado and Utah, and was created to help busy people serve delicious and convenient, homemade meals. Meals made with the best ingredients-fresh, expertly planned and prepped every day. Sous Kitchen ingredients are proudly sourced from local suppliers and are delivered daily. Their sauces, curries and spice blends are made on site in their commercial kitchen so your meals are truly homemade.

I love that Sous Kitchen vacuum seals their meal kits to maximize freshness and flavor. They prepare and freeze all the meals the same day they receive the ingredients, which insures you receive the freshest, most delicious products available. This is also especially helpful since I like to keep the meals in the freezer for the nights I want to pretend I have a personal chef don't want to cook.

The menu changes each monthly, so there is always a great selection of meals to choose from. I'm waiting for the November menu to become available so I can order a few meals to keep on hand in the freezer for the busy holiday months.

They make many meals that meet a variety of dietary needs as well, so they've got everyone in your family covered. All Sous Kitchen entrees are priced individually. Depending on how much your family eats, Sous Kitchen entrĂ©es can cost as low as $5 per serving, which is way less than the cost of ordering pizza, and healthier too. 

We picked two meals to try for our first shipment, Honey Chipotle Chicken with Lime Quinoa and Pumpkin & Sausage Pasta. The medium size meals where the perfect size for our family, and we even had leftovers on the night we had the chicken. Above you can see the way the chicken meal was packaged -- clean and simple.

We were absolutely pleased with the Chipotle Chicken and Lime Quinoa. It was simple to put together, as all I had to do was bake the chicken (the marinade on it kept it  moist -- my baked chicken is usually a bit dry) and boiling the quinoa. I threw together a standard green salad to serve with it, and dinner was DONE!

The Pumpkin & Sausage Pasta had me really impressed -- it was a restaurant quality pasta dish that I've been craving since that night. I'm dying to recreate it and seriously considering just ordering it again!

The order and delivery process were easy too. They'll delivery to your home or workplace, so no need to worry about being home when they deliver your meals. The food is packed in an insulated cooler with dry ice. As long as your box is not opened until it is ready to be put in your freeze, your food is safe!

I hope I've got you excited about Sous Kitchen, because they have so graciously offered to giveaway a $100 gift certificate to one of my readers! If you live in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona or Utah, please use the widget below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy eating!  

October 28, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: for the Cook

With the holidays -- and all the gift shopping that goes along with it -- quickly approaching I thought it would be a great idea to get a head start on some holiday shopping. For the next few weeks I'll be sharing some great ideas for holiday gifts for all of the people in your life. I'll be covering gift ideas ranging from what to get for your neighbor all the way down to your mother, so stay tuned!

Today I wanted to start with my favorite kind of gift to buy and receive, one for the home cook! Way back in the day when Keith and I were registering for our wedding I studied the reviews and lists that deemed certain tools and items for the kitchen a "must-have", and now after 4 years of some serious cooking in the kitchen I think I have a pretty good idea of what is actually helpful and what we could have done without. So with that knowledge in my brain I've compiled a Gift Guide with all the things I would stock my kitchen with if I were starting from scratch.

iPad Stand $24.99 - Most of the recipes we try for the first time are found online these days, hello Pinterest! This iPad Stand is the easiest way to follow the directions while cooking without having to fuss with printing it out.

Vitamix Blender $329.00 - We love our Vitamix Blender! I know the price tag turns most people off, but once you try it you will agree, there is no better blender out there. Plus, the Vitamix is capable of making nut butters, almond milk, soups, ice cream, and so much more!

Immersion Blender $99.99 - I use our Immersion Blender all the time. It's so easy to use when I want to make a quick, small batch of salad dressing, whip egg whites or puree a soup in pot. It's really compact too, so it's great for people living in tight quarters like college students.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer $349.99 - I'm pretty sure anyone who has ever made cookies or breads has wished they had one of these! Mine gets a ton of use during the holidays, and all year long.

Williams-Sonoma Melamine Mixing Bowls $29.95 - If I were to only have three mixing bowls in my whole kitchen they would be these ones! They have a non-skid ring around the bottom, so you never have to worry about them tipping over while you stir. They nest together, which is super space efficient, and they have a nice pour spout! They're one of my favorite gifts to give at a bridal shower too. 

Rectangular Baking Dishes $54.99 -  Another item that will get used all the time for everything from cakes to enchiladas are these nesting baking dishes. Just like the mixing bowls they save a ton of space and are really versatile.

Le Creuset Oval Cast-Iron Dutch Oven $120.00 - If you have one of these you really don't need any other pots or pans because this pot can do it all (of course it is convenient to have more so you can cook more than one thing at a time, but the point is that this is one great piece of cookware!). Before buying my first Le Creuset I did a lot of research and found that most people found the oval 6 3/4 qt. to be the most versatile in the kitchen. The size is big enough to hold stew (or whatever you like to cook) for a big group, and the oval shape suits itself well for roasting a chicken in the oven.

Trucks Potholder $12.00 - Potholders like this one make great, inexpensive gifts because people are always in need of new ones since they get burned and stained easily. I love tying one onto a cute cookbook for a fun gift!

Salt Cellar $16.00 - I just recently discovered how convenient it is to have a salt cellar right next to the stove. No more diggin' through the spice rack for salt, and the copper top on this one makes it special enough to give as a gift!

Gourmet Knife Block Set $179.95 - Chopping with dull knives will drive you crazy, and might even result in a cut or two. A great set of knives is a must in the kitchen whether you cook often or very seldom. These are the ones we have, and I love having them right next to our sink and cutting board for convenience and accessibility.

Williams-Sonoma Hand Soap & Lotion Caddy $39.95 - This soap & hand lotion set is a classic gift that anyone can appreciate (and put to good use)! The lavender is my personal favorite!

Monogram Cheese Board & Spreader $25 - This makes a fantastic hostess gift and a great presentation! It would be great to bring to someone's house filled with cheeses for a cocktail party too.

Some cooks might disagree, but I think every kitchen needs at least a few great cookbooks! Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes and The Pioneer Woman Cooks are two of my favorite cookbooks when I'm cooking family friendly meals, and The Skinnytaste cookbook and Seriously Delish should be arriving today, and I can't wait to share my thoughts on those two!

What are your must-have kitchen items?

Ps. Today is my birthday and all I want is a GIANTS win today, which would be the second time in the last few years that they've won the World Series on my birthday! 
This post contains affiliate links.

October 27, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up

Finally, a weekend that felt like Fall! We started the weekend off watching the Giants v. the Royals in game three of the world series at our friends, the Smith's, house. The kids played (i.e. ran in circles around the house) while the adults watched the game and ate dinner.

At the end of the night we changed O to his jams before heading home, standard procedure for all smart parents, right? And Nico changed into the exact same ones as O and the boys were SO excited! No really, they ran in place and jumped and hugged when they realized it. The boys in their matching jams:

Saturday it was raining when we woke up!! My sister and mom watched O while I spent a few hours at O's school maintenance day. Since the school is a co-op the parent have jobs to do throughout the year at the school (which helps keep the cost of tuition down for all of us) and one of them is the 2 maintenance days -- and our school job is to work the third one as well. I wasn't sure what the day would include, would we be painting the building, cleaning the carpets, etc? My job ended up being cleaning all of the (mini) blinds and windows in the room, which ended up taking up the entire time. The classroom looked 10x better when we were done.

Later that night Keith and I went out to dinner to Kincaid's for my birthday! Every time we have  a special occasion to celebrate I try to find a new place for us to try, but about half the time we decide to go to Kincaid's instead because we know the drinks, food and view of the bay are amazing! We had a lovely time and the Giant's won game 4 that night, so it was especially nice!

Sunday morning we had coffee (and milk, of course). played toys and made Apple Streusel Pancakes -- they were fantastic! I'll definitely pick up another box of the mix next time I'm at Target. O tried a few bites too, and he's not usually a pancake lover, so I know they were good!

After breakfast we went on a little hike, or "adventure" as O likes to call it, and Keith caught O his first lizard. O was completely thrilled to finally get to see one up close. He was really gentle and whispered the whole time. After our little hike we stopped at the store to knockout the grocery shopping for the week. I didn't plan ahead and make a list so I had to just wing it, which I hate doing, but everything turned out ok. I didn't end up going home over budget and with a trunk full of nothing, which is what usually happens when I don't plan ahead.

In the afternoon we just hung around home. O took a 2 1/2 hour nap and I baked a few apple crisps for dessert. He was a little warm all weekend and took extra long naps, so I think his body is just trying to heal.

We made Carne Asada tacos and Mummy Quesadillas for dinner, watched the World Series, did bath & bedtime, and then Keith and I watched The Walking Dead before heading to bed.


Today we've got the gym, haircuts and a manicure for me on the agenda! Happy Monday!

October 24, 2014

Five on Friday

Hey there, happy Friday!

1. Halloween Fun - In the last few weeks O has been seriously living it up in the Halloween / Pumpkin Patch / Fall department. He's been wearing his pirate costume like it's going out of style! He's actually going to be a dinosaur on Halloween, but his pirate costume is so much easier to wear while playing.

2. Kiwi Crate - A little while back I signed up for a Kiwi Crate subscription for O and we have bee loving it! If you don't know about Kiwi Crate, it's a monthly subscription box that encourages kid's creativity and curiosity through science, arts & crafts, imaginative play, etc. In our most recent box we had a project where we created a catapult and then a castle. As you can see O looooved the catapult!

We usually save the box for long afternoons between the end of nap time and when I need to cook dinner -- that way O has something to keep him busy while I cook!

If you'd like $10 off your first box, use this referral link (and we'll get $10 off our next box too)!

3. Spiders & Pumpkins - Our front door is ready for Halloween! We've got 7 pumpkins -- two of which are white because those are O's favorite -- and spider webs with jeweled spiders. This is about as spooky as I get, folks! Have you seen these creepy houses?
4. Apple Cider Sangria - I'm whipping up a batch of my Apple Cider Sangria this morning to bring to our friends house tonight! We're getting together to watch the Giants v. the Royals in game 3 of the World Series. #goGIANTS!!!

5. Family Photos - Our family photos are goin' down in a little over a week and I'm currently scrambling to figure out what we'll all be wearing. I'm trying to use what we have, but it's proving a little difficult to create a cohesive "look" while not making it too matchy-matchy either. Pinterest makes it all look so easy! My fave look is the one below.

Well, I think that's all for now, my friends! Have a lovely weekend!

And I'm linking up with a whole lot of people today! 
Oh Hey Friday with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife!
Friday Favorites with A Little Bit of EverythingMomfessionals, and Grace and Love.

October 23, 2014

One Year & Beyond: Keeping in Shape with a Toddler in Tow

Keeping in shape, as a mom, is a huge challenge. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything you need to do done, while carrying and nurturing your little ones at the same time. Even as a stay-at-home mom I have trouble making sure I put working out at the top of my to do list. While it's hard to stay consistent with getting to the gym / running / making it to a class, I make it a top priority because I feel so much better when I do. I have more energy, my jeans fit better, I sleep better, I'm an all around happier person, and better wife and mother, when I make time for working out. 

Below you'll find a few ways I make working out work for me:  

Have Stroller, Will Sweat. Up until about a year ago I was still able to strap O into our BOB Revolution SE stroller and head out for a jog. Sadly, those days are long gone, but I thought you might like to give my tried-and-true 30-Minute Stroller workout a try! It was always an easy way for me to get some exercise. If you do each of these sets for the time indicated, you'll have a kick-butt 30-minute workout under your belt when you're done, but it will probably take a bit longer than that when you factor in the inevitable snack, milk, toy requests!

In the Gym. These days I depend on the gym to get my workouts in. The childcare at our facility is top-notch, and lucky for me, O loves it there. I have it written in stone in my calendar that we will go every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. We usually make it there all three days if I schedule it in advance and don't let anything else get in the way. Something is always bound to come up though, so I let Thursday (my day off from working in O's classroom) be my swing day in case I miss one of the other days. 

And the 1-1 1/2 hours of alone time, while O enjoys playing and snacking with his buddies in childcare, is a HUGE motivator for me to make it to the gym. I urge all of you to join a gym with childcare (some even provide it for free, like the YMCA) and take advatage of the time you can get for yourself and make it count by doing something that is good for you. 

I'm not gonna lie and pretend I don't enjoy some cute workout gear either. There are mirrors everywhere in our gym and I feel so much better when I feel at least kind of cute! I'll be including my current weigh lifting plan in my post tomorrow.

Working it From Home. I haven't worked out at home in a long time, but when I did I would always wait until O was asleep for his nap. Working out with a toddler around is almost impossible. I usually end up giving horsey rides instead of doing push-ups. My favorite ways to work out from home are following the workouts Tiffany of Bump 2 Buff shares on her IG page. She is a mom of two boys who has lost an incredible amount of weight and gained tons of muscle tone all from home -- no gym required! I've also used Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred DVD before and it is a great workout!! 
How have you fit exercise into motherhood? Check out the other mama's blogs for their stories. And be sure to link up with us below if you also have a post on this topic.

The Not Quite Military Wife// Like a Morning Cup of Coffee// Meet the Sullivan's  
From Here to Eternity// Pig and Dac// Everyday Love
A Cowboy's Life// Life of Faith// Foxy's Domestic Side// My Delicious Adventure
Oct 2: Toddler Diaper Bag Essentials
Oct 9: Learning to love your post-pregnancy body
Oct 16: Busy Toddler Activities
Oct 23: Keeping in Shape While Caring for a Toddler

Oct 30: Sick Day Tips
Nov 6: How to Not Lose Your Patience with your Toddler
Nov 13: Favorite Toddler Outings
An InLinkz Link-up