Meet the Sullivans: March 2015

March 31, 2015

And then there was Tuesday

The weekend. Lets see, where to start...

Friday afternoon we had a nice play date with our neighbor who has a boy right around O's age. There is something really wonderful about not having to get in the car and drive somewhere to play with other kids. And it is so nice to get to know our neighbors better. Good ones are such a blessing. And it is also a blessing to have something to occupy us in the final hours before Keith comes home, especially since O is no longer napping. Days and afternoons are long when there is no nap.

Saturday morning we were rushing around to ready ourseleves for a birthday party and I had my phone in the back pocket of my pants. You know this is going somewhere bad, right? Well my phone fell out and landed right in the toilet. I tried the rice thing, but it was a goner. Later in the day Keith and I had a little impromptu date night to get a replacement and have dinner, so really it didn't end too bad at all.

On Sunday we went to the San Mateo Mothers Club Spring Fling at a park. The kids all played, there was face painting, an egg hunt, crafts and The Easter Bunny!

So many kids! O only ended up with one egg, but the moms are brilliant because they have all the children turn their eggs in to get a prize. This way the kids all feel good about how many or how few they got, no one had to fill all the eggs and the club doesn't have to buy new eggs each year. Brilliant! 

Oh and did I mention Keith was the Easter Bunny? I volunteered him Friday morning after hearing we didn't have a bunny for the event. I'm lucky to have a husband who is so willing to help out! It was pretty warm in the suit, but Keith was a great sport! Owen is still none the wiser!

And how cute is this centerpiece?

Sunday evening we barbequed chicken kabobs and I made some margaritas. O requested we eat outside, so we did and it was lovely! I'll share that margarita recipe this week!

With O not napping anymore we've been able to get him to sleep pretty early, which worked out great on Sunday because it was the season finale of The Walking Dead! Anyone else watching? Kristy and I were talking all week about how worried we were about possibly losing some of our favorites, but luckily none of the main characters were killed off!

Monday was a regular day with our usual routine of the gym, grocery store and playing at home together.

This is our spring break week, and my mom's too, so the three of us are off to have some fun together today! 

How was your weekend?

March 30, 2015

Food for Thought + Menu Monday

One of the things I love most about sending Owen to a co-op nursery school is how involved parents are asked to be in the community of the school. In addition to the time each parent spends in the classroom, they are also expected to attend two parent meetings a year. Last week I attended the finally parent meeting of the year, which was a workshop about Feeding Your Child's Brain.

From the time I saw this workshop on the calendar I knew I wanted to attend. Owen, as you may know from reading here, is not a huge eater. He's a grazer and would prefer many small meals or snacks a day instead of three meals + plus snacks. He loves hot dogs, french fries and chocolate, but he is also known to eat handfuls of nuts and seeds, bowls of raw spinach and broccoli. He'll eat the good stuff, just not in bulk, so I'm really interested in how we can get the most nutritious bang out of every bite. 

Kandice Stellmon, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, walked us through all the ways we can feed our children to help their beautiful brains grow in the healthiest way possible!

A couple takeaways, interesting facts and great reminders from the workshop: 

Fatty brains I was unaware that our brains are mainly made (over 75%!) of fat, and that our brains really need healthy fats for optimal brain function. The best ways to get these healthy fats are from Omega 3 fats, which you can get from flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and hemp seeds. She also suggested everyone in your family taking a fish oil supplement.

Rule out crackers - Also emphasized how bad trans fats are for us, and really bad for our children, which I know, but it was an important reminder that while we're so used to giving kids things like Cheddar Bunnies or Chicken Nuggets, they have lots of preservatives. She stressed that kids really should eat fully clean diet with no preservatives if at all possible.

The Rainbow Effect fill plates for you and your children with as many colors as possible.

Supplements fish oil and vitamin D in addition to a multi-vitamin. I'll let you know how the whole fish oil thing goes for us!

For optimal mood and brain function offer children 5-6 small meals throughout the day and a snack after almost each meal.

Introducing new foods it can take up to 20 tries to get a child to try and / or like a new a new food and flavor.

The Dirty Dozen (i.e. fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated by pesticide use, according to the Environmental Working Group) apples were the worst offender again this year.

Food Affects Mood one of the best and most valuable points she made was that what we feed our children directly affects their mood, brain function, physical ability and comfort. Their little bodies are so sensitive!

So this week, after spending quite a bit of time thinking about making even more healthy choices, I decided to pull out some of my favoite healthy living cook books and pull some of our favorite recipes.

What's on our dinner menu this week:

Chicken & Wild Rice casserole + green salad
Superfood Salad
Pesto Meatballs with brown rice quinoa + veggies
Shrimp & Avocado salad with sweet potatoes
Pita Pizzas + green salad

snacks: Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls and Strawberry Basil smoothie

March 27, 2015

Oh Hey Friday!

Hey there! It's Friday, and Owen has we've got a full weekend of playdates, a birthday party and egg hunts ahead of us!

/ one / I attended two workshops this week about parenting. The first one was called Mothers of Boys Growing Boys into Men given by Rachel Sklar, MSW, and the second was called Food for Thought presented by Kandice Stellmon, NC. Both were so interesting and thought provoking and I'm hoping to pull my thoughts and notes together over the weekend to share with you next week.

/ two / I've finally decided to just give up on making Owen nap. I've always said I would hold onto his nap for as long as I could, but lately it's been a struggle and was affecting bedtime in a serious way. I'm still insisting he has a "rest" in his room for an hour each afternoon, but he doesn't have to sleep. So far, it has been a good transition for all of us because we're all getting more sleep at night, and I'm spending far less time trying to get him to fall asleep. More on that soon.

/ three / I took Owen to see the Easter Bunny on Wednesday morning! He was so excited to see him and sat happily through the little photo session. I get a little sad looking at how big he looks sitting there because it makes me wonder when he'll stop wanting to go, not because he's scared or anything, but because he just won't be interested anymore.

/ four / Owen and I made chocolate dipped pretzels this week and I have got to get them out of our house because I cannot stop wanting to eat them! Our friend Lisa dropped off a bunch she had made a few weeks ago and I've been wanting more ever since. I love that they're so easy to make and can be customized to fit any color or holiday you want!

/ five / Did you read the article from Jen Hatmaker What Would My Mom Do? (Drink Tab and Lock Us Outside)? In it Jen writes about how differently her parents raised her compared to the norm of Pinterest parenting these days. Don't get me wrong, I love making things "magical" for Owen, but I don't think he needs it 24/7 to have a happy childhood. What are you thoughts?

Today I'm linking up with...

Friday Favorites at Momfessionals
Oh, Hey Friday at September F A R M
  High Five for Friday at Bright on a Budget
Friday Favorites at The Diary of a Real Housewife
Five on Friday at Hello! Happiness//A.Liz Adventures
//Carolina Charm//The Good Life Blog
Friday Favorites at Housewife Glamour
Friday Favorites at Meet @ the Barre

March 25, 2015

Avoiding The Vending Machine

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by KFC through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about KFC Popcorn Nuggets, all opinions are my own.”

Our family loves to be on the go! It is rare on the weekend that we spend much time at home, we're usually out enjoying time with friends, family or crossing new adventures off our "must do" list.

One of our favorite parts of our weekend is our routine on Monday mornings when Keith is home with us.

We have coffee and breakfast together at home before heading out for a morning at our fitness center. Keith and I get to workout together for about an hour while Owen enjoys playing with the other children in the childcare center. We almost always follow-up our workouts with some family time in the pool.

This all works out great for us because everyone gets a little fun and some exercise while we also get to spend time together. It's a win-win routine for everyone!

We love this time together and it's a healthy habit for all of us... of course until we're on our way out of the gym, because we have to walk past the dreaded vending machines. There's no avoiding it. It is literally a trap since we’re all feeling tired, and hungry because lunch time is upon us.

That dreaded vending machine and its sugary treats draw our boy in. He loves depositing the money, pushing the buttons, choosing some cookies and watching the cookies drop down into his possession. And of course Keith and I like all those things too, but we're old enough to know that those snacks will do nothing to satisfy our hunger, or sustain us until lunch. Those snacks have tons of sugar, little to no protein and who knows how long they've been in that packaging!
I've struggled with how to remedy this situation for weeks, so after a little planning and strategizing I decided to start packing a substantial snack for Owen, one that I know he'll love to nosh on as we venture home and that will easily surpass the temptations of the vending machine.

Sometimes it's a sandwich I've packed from home or a variety of healthy snacks, and sometimes it's a treat we pick up on the way, like KFC's all white meat Popcorn Nuggets. I do this when I feel like making the quick on-the-go lunch a little bit of a special treat for him -- and for me because I don't have to think ahead or pack much! The Go Cup® is the perfect amount for a preschooler, so that's what we've picked up for him on occasion, and the cup is easy for him to hold while we drive in the car. 

We love these Popcorn Nuggets for saving us from a vending machine lunch and habit week after week!

KFC Popcorn Nuggets are 100% white meat, extra crispy, and made from the world’s best chicken (never pressed or formed) -- the way nuggets should be.  They're even hard for me to resist, and I'm going to be completely honest here and tell you they're delicious! It's been hard trying to serve Owen the dinosaur shaped nuggets we have at home since he tried the crispy crunch of the Popcorn Nuggets!

In addition to the nuggets I make sure to pack some of his other healthy favorites and a water bottle full of cold water. We always feel a bit dehydrated after a long swim in the pool.

What kinds of snacks do you pack for your kids to avoid the temptation of vending machines?

March 24, 2015

Scenes From the Weekend

Weekends are the best. I really can't remember the last time we had an uneventful weekend, and while I love all the fun we have, it makes starting the week rough! Rough in comparison to all the fun we've and rough because all the fun leaves me feeling super sleepy.

On Friday O and I went about our usual Friday routine of heading to the gym in the morning (workout for me + playtime for O followed by a swim together) and then headed to Costco. He loves the samples! I picked up the gorgeous and quite large succulent arrangement. It is so pretty and I'm going to try really really hard to keep it alive.

On Saturday morning we went on a nature walk with my mom and sister followed by lunch at home. I think Owen collected nearly 10 pill bugs on the walk and somehow they managed to escape out into the front yard when we came home.

Saturday night we had a big group of friends over for a BBQ. We kept it all simple and everyone brought something to contribute. The 7 kids had a ball playing together and pulling out all of O's toys. I don't think I've ever seen all of his toys out at once like that, but it was a-okay because they were all playing so nicely and having a nice time!

Sunday morning Keith and I headed up to SF to meet our friends for brunch at Mission Rock in celebration of our friend Jackie's birthday! I gave her a cute set of personalized notepaper, a couple of my favorite pens and a confetti popper!

We'd heard the Bacon Bloody Mary was really great, and even though I'm not usually a fan of them, I ordered one and it was AMAZING!

And earlier in the week I looked up the menu (because that is what I do in my free time.... strategize food choices and possibilities!) so I had a super easy time deciding what to have, the Crab Benedict! It was good, although all of us who ordered it thought they'd been a little shiesty on the crab givin'.

Afterward we walked over to the new spot next to AT&T park, The Yard and had a beer in the Anchor Steam beer garden. It was a fun spot! The whole place is made out of shipping containers!

When we finally made it home we found Owen and B had had a blast together playing cars and all sort of other things!

O didn't take a nap while we were out, so he fell asleep really early at about 6:45 while watching Big Hero 6 with Keith. He slept all through the night until 7am the next morning, which I guess makes the skipped nap worth it!

Monday morning I skipped the gym and went to O's school to tag along on a school tour since I'll be giving them starting this summer. I'm a little nervous I won't know all the answers parents want to know since I'm only just familiar with the 2 year-old class, so getting to go on the tour was a big help.

Afterward I went to Micheal's for a few things and to the grocery store. When I came home Keith and O were back from the gym, so I let O have the Kinetic Sand I had picked up for him. It was lots of fun (for all of us!) and luckily it vacuums up easily!

I took a nap while O napped and when I woke up some mail had arrived with a nice surprise from POPSUGAR! We spent the rest of the day playing up at the football field, making dinner and finishing Big Hero 6!

How was your weekend? 

March 20, 2015

This & That

Yay it's the weekend! The weather has been pretty beautiful this week, and I'm hoping it sticks around for the weekend so we can enjoy lots of time outside!

/ one / Sleep has been a struggle this week. Owen's nap is usually about 1 hour these days (so long, glorious 3-hour afternoon naps!), and even with that short nap comes a very difficult bedtime routine that can last two hours. The other option is not letting him nap, which doesn't turn out well either. When he doesn't nap he's cranky and exhausted, and then falls asleep at 6pm on the couch, which results in a very earlier wake time. I guess there just is no happy medium for us right now!

/ two / We celebrated St. Patrick's Day with our families last weekend and it was all sorts of fun! Owen loved the corned beef and had a ball playing kickball with his cousins!

/ three / We're celebrating my friend's birthday this weekend, and while I was browsing around Paper Source for a card I spotted this cute little Push-Pop Confetti popper. Isn't it fun? It's the perfect, festive, little something to tie onto a birthday gift! Style Me Pretty even shares a DIY that shows you how to make your own, but it might be easier to just buy it if you only need one at a time.

/ four / Did you see my posts earlier this week about Streamlining Your Day and 50 Non-Candy Easter Basket Fillers and yesterday's that includes a FREE trial from Munchery? Go check 'em out!

/ five / Have you see the Instagram account WomenIRL? It's an account created by Real Simple that features "imperfect moments from ladies everywhere — the truth behind the perfect snapshots." All you have to do to share a photo with them is tag your photos WomenIRL.

We're all too familiar with the "perfect IG photos" of pretty flowers and a cup of coffee that imply a peaceful morning, right? But that's not always what's happening in the background, and I LOVE when people show what's going on behind the scenes! I always get a kick out of Tawnya's posts showing IG v. Real Life!

Happy weekend!

Today I'm linking up with...

Friday Favorites at Momfessionals
Oh, Hey Friday at September F A R M
  High Five for Friday at Bright on a Budget
Friday Favorites at The Diary of a Real Housewife
Five on Friday at Hello! Happiness//A.Liz Adventures//Carolina Charm//The Good Life Blog
Friday Favorites at Housewife Glamour
Friday Favorites at Meet @ the Barre

March 19, 2015

Munchery (FREE Adult & Child's Dinner!)

One of my favorite quotes pertaining to motherhood is "Good moms have dirty ovens, sticky floors and happy kids". The quote is printed on a sign that is propped up above the stove as a daily reminder for me to forget my to do list and just have fun playing with Owen instead.

It is a constant struggle for me to ignore the dirty dishes sit in the sink and just get down on the carpet to play. It's really an awful cycle because if I'm playing I thinking about the chores that need to be taken care of, while if I'm taking care of the chores I feel major guilt because I want to be playing with my son. #mommystruggles

Sometimes I wish I could have someone else do all the cooking and cleaning so I could just PLAY all day, and last week I got my wish! Last Thursday we had the pleasure of giving Munchery a try for the first time and we were so pleased with the experience!

What is Munchery, you ask? It is a meal delivery service that answers the question, "What's for dinner?" with nourishing, affordable, chef-cooked meals delivered right to your door!

Their chefs create dishes they love! They slice and dice, chop and mix, sauté and roast in their local kitchens, cooking up thoughtful, tempting dishes. Each chef has their own style, which brings tons of variety to Munchery's daily menus.

Ordering is easy, simply visit their website or use the Munchery app to order. You can choose from main dishes, sides, salads, desserts and drinks. Healthy and tempting kids’ meals, too. Menus change daily, so there’s always something new to try. Meals arrive on-demand or you can schedule delivery up to a week in advance for beyond-easy meal-planning!

It was so simple and easy to set up! I went online to their site where I inputted our zip code and was able to see the dishes available for the day I chose. There were so many delicious options available it was hard to pick just one!

I love that each family member can have something different to suit their taste and dietary needs. They show you a picture, the list of ingredients and nutritional information for each dish, as well as telling you if it is Gluten-free, Nut-free, Dairy-free, Vegan or Vegetarian to better suit your family's dietary needs.

I picked a delivery time that work for us -- between 4-5pm was perfect, and right around the time I would usually start thinking of making dinner. But this time I didn't have to, I got to play with Owen instead! The driver will actually send you a text message 10 minutes before delivery and when they arrive to let you know your meal is on its way.

Keith and I each had the Peppercorn Crusted Steak and we ordered Owen the Kid's "Fearless" Corndogs. We couldn't pass up the tempting desserts, so we ordered a Carrot Pecan Cakelette and S'mores Brownie to split and a Salty Sweet Chocolate Chip Cookie for O.

Dishes are fully cooked, chilled for maximum freshness, and served in oven and microwave-safe containers for easy heating in less than ten minutes. And the best part is, Every time you order our fresh, chef-made meals, we feed someone in need through a local food bank. Everyone deserves a good dinner.

The prep for this dinner was next to nothing, no more than it would be had I ordered take-out from a restaurant. I simply pre-heated the oven and removed the plastic lids and sauces. We were so pleased with our experience and I will absolutely be ordering from Munchery again!

Now the really really wonderful news is that you can try it out for free too! Munchery has generously offered to give each of you a FREE Adult + Child meal, a $20 value! Just use the code: COLLEENANDKEITH. The code is good for a one time use and is for first time Munchery users only. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Referral links were used in this post.

March 18, 2015

Streamline Your Day (before it starts!)

Mornings are hectic. If your family is anything like ours, you're all rushing out the door at the same time. And, if you're a mom like me, you are usually the one pulling up the tail end trying to make sure everyone has their lunches, keys and sanity in check before heading out for the day. Getting everyone off on the right foot each day seems to be some kind of miracle.

I have always believed in the sanity saving powers of organization and thinking ahead. My hope is, that by planning ahead, I am creating less room for error in our day-to-day lives. I believe that organization saves you more time and stress than it takes to create it.

Organization takes time, but it saves time in the end, so today I'm sharing a few was you can streamline your day before it even starts!

Set the timer on your coffee maker! This is possibly the most important tip! It's really nice to have your coffee maker waiting for you in the morning instead of having to waste time filling it with water, waiting for it to heat and brew. This step saves at least 10 minutes alone!

Lay out clothes the night before -- for you and your kids! I set out our outfits the night before (and keep my gym bag packed) so there's no searching around or deciding what to wear at the last minute. I usually try to get O out of his pajamas and into clothes first thing in the morning.

Keep backpacks / diaper bags / your purse packed, and always keep them in the same place! This way there is no running around looking for headphones, sippy cups or permission slips when you're already running 5 minutes late. When you walk in the door put your keys and sunglasses in your bag, and put your bag in the designated spot.

March 16, 2015

50 Non-Candy Easter Basket Fillers

Saint Patrick's Day is tomorrow, which means it's time to start getting serious about those Easter Baskets! I don't usually have much trouble filling O's basket each year, but sometimes it can be hard to reign it in on things to fill it with that don't involve sugar. Here's a list of some great non-candy ideas for filling your little one's Easter basket!

March 13, 2015

My Favorites from the Archives

One of the funnest parts of writing a blog is getting to take a trip back in time through the archives and read old posts. There are tools that allow me to see some of the posts that get the most traffic, which are usually the posts that are popular on Pinterest (like the P.F. Changs Lettuce Wraps, Whole Fruit Marg, January Stitch Fix Review), but I have some personal favorites too.

Last night, after not getting a nap from O, I had no energy to write a post for today, so I started surfing my archives for inspiration and ended up pulling some of the posts that made me remember why I love this little place so much!

So, here are some of my faves!

DIY Earring Holder -My solution for the tangled mess that was my collection of earrings. I wear them so much more now that I can actually see what I have!