Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Eats for a Busy Mom

After taking the kiddos to see grandma in North Carolina last week, it has been all about getting back into our routine here in Denver.  I'm probably not going to get any sympathy here, but it really helps to have one child in school...watching the baby at home is definitely a full-time job.

In general, here's what our weekly routine looks like, more or less:

1. Toddler K goes to Montessori five days a week (Monday-Friday)

2. A speech pathology appointment for toddler K

3. A weekly weigh-in for baby O (she's been underweight since her 4 month appointment)

4. Every other week: a visit from the occupational therapist for baby O

5. On the alternating week: a visit from an Early Intervention Specialist (for baby O's hearing aids)

Throw in house chores, runs to the grocery store, morning walks, playdates, and an occasional trip to baby/toddler hour at our local library and we are barely squeezing everything in between naps!

Because we're so busy these days, I've nixed complicated meals and go for what's easy, but still fairly nutritious.  Here's what I ate on Monday...I'm linking up with Jenn for What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) and sharing my eats from earlier this week.

Breakfast: Berries & Yogurt

I usually have eggs for breakfast, but lately I've been all about fruit & yogurt.  I like to add in sliced almonds, flaxseed, and hemp hearts for a little texture and crunch.

Lunch: Turkey Lasagna with Stir-Fried Veggies

I'm currently trying out a meal service, which delivers pre-prepared meals.  All I have to do is put the meal in the microwave for a few minutes and lunch/dinner is served.  I love it.  No prep, very little cleanup, and no wasted food leftover in the fridge or pantry.  I don't think I'll be doing this forever, but I am going to try it out for the next couple of months until I am able to find time to prep more on the weekends and have meals in the fridge for the week.

Dinner: Pot Roast with Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Now I did make dinner on Monday.  I make a very simplified pot roast, which takes me all of 20-30 minutes to prep and assemble in my favorite cast iron pot.  Then I pop it in the oven for three hours and dinner is ready.  I roasted some brussel sprouts to accompany the pot roast, onions, and carrots, and voila!  Dinner.

What are you eating these days?  Are you eating for convenience or are you having fun in the kitchen?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Seven Things Every New Mama Should Do (Often)

Hey mamas-to-be!  I'm sure you've read your copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting several times now, but are you sure you know what to expect after le bebe is born?  Sure you've read up on diapering, nursing versus bottle feeding, and know all about what little sleep you're going to be getting those first few months.

But have you read anything about how to take care of you?

I'm talking beyond stocking your freezer with meals and getting family/friends to help with laundry and housecleaning.  I'm talking about making sure you know how to take care of yourself.

Here are several things you should plan on after the baby is born.  Read it, share it with your partner, and prepare.

1. Sleep

I had to get this one out of the way, because it is the most obvious "must do".  It's no secret that you won't get much sleep the first few months, especially if you are exclusively nursing.  Even after feedings stretch out to every three hours, resist the urge to choose watching a movie over getting some sleep.  It's tempting, I know, to choose to a movie or get housework done, but your body needs rest!

2. Hand off responsibility

It took my type-A personality some time to go with this one, but you have to hand off your responsibilities to everyone else and just focus on you and the baby.  Have your partner take care of the household chores or hire someone to help out.  Let go.

3. Get a pedicure

Do it.  Don't even think about it.  If you can, sign up for a monthly membership at your local day spa, and just go get your feet rubbed once a month.  Even if you've never gotten a pedicure in your life, go do it, because there is nothing like getting a few hours to yourself.  No crying.  No stress.  No having to do anything but sit there and close your eyes.

4. Get outside

Leave the house.  Breathe some fresh air.  If you're feeling up to it, get some exercise!

5. Meet with friends

If you're the only one in your circle of friends with a new baby at the moment, it's very easy to isolate yourself.  Don't.  Take the baby and go somewhere baby-friendly.  A coffee shop.  The park.  Your friend's house.  That way you can take care of #4 and also get a little socializing in your life because that will be a sanity saver.

6. Make new friends

Go to the baby/toddler hour at your local library and meet other new moms.  Making new friends with other new moms is a great way to create new friendships that may grow as your baby gets older.

7. Set aside quality time with your partner

It doesn't have to be date night (but it can be!), just make sure you find some time every week to just BE with your partner, without the baby.  Our favorite way to spend quality time is to order takeout and watch a movie after the baby goes to bed.

Mamas who have been there: what would you add to this list of must-do activities to stay sane those first few months of motherhood?

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Change of Scenery

Happy Monday, friends!

I'm back from a much needed weeklong break.  I took two vacations: a trip to North Carolina with the kiddos to see grandma (my mother-in-law) and a vacation from social media.  Both were a success...

Traveling Solo with Two

I took my first solo trip with my toddler and my infant.  I knew it was going to be tough but I managed.  Our flight from Denver to Raleigh was about five hours total and with the help of the iPad (loaded with some good movies and a few educational games), the kindness of strangers, and some strategic seating, the three of us travelled without offending too many of our fellow passengers.

Enjoying Raleigh & Chapel Hill

We visit North Carolina regularly, so I have my favorite restaurants...the weather was just amazing so we ate outdoors at Gugelhupf, one of my favorite places for brunch.

Homecooked Meals

Another plus of going to visit my mother-in-law is that she loves to cook and entertain.  We had fabulous meals...I did my share in the kitchen to make sure that I stayed away from any pasta and bread (I do eat rice).  Instead, I had roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts, and broccoli.  Great eats every night.

Exploring Museums

No trip to Chapel Hill / Raleigh / Durham would be complete without a visit to one of their many childrens' museums.  We explored two new museums including the Marbles Museum.  My son loved it.  I was pretty impressed too!

My Social Media Vacation

Since I was away from home for the week, I decided I would unplug from social media, too.  With the exception of reading the news, magazines, and checking for important emails, I did my best to minimize checking Instagram, Twitter, and yes, even blogs.  After five days away, I felt refreshed.  I highly recommend it!

Thanks to Katie and Marvelous in my Monday (MIMM).  I hope you have a marvelous Monday, too!

What do you like to do when you need a change in routine or a change of scenery?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Many Hats of Motherhood

Motherhood is a neverending challenge that involves juggling many roles and there are days where I feel like I could use a cloning machine.  Mamas wear many, many, hats, and we are constantly taking one hat off and donning another.  Sometimes, when life is a little crazy, we may be wearing multiple hats at once.

The other day I caught myself daydreaming.  What if I had a cloning machine?  If I did, here's how I would delegate duties to the copies of myself:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hashtag Weekend

This weekend we really went easy: lots of eating out and lots of laying low at home in between.  Other than soccer on Saturday morning (which ended up getting cancelled due to wet, cold fields), we had no plans for the weekend.  We played the entire weekend by ear, which was kind of fun!  Here are snippets of our weekend with hashtag captions.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Loving Life Again

Okay, things have been a little too serious here on SuperSmartMama.  Thank you blogger friends for stopping by and letting me know that it's okay to have my case of motherhood blues!  I realized I've been taking life a little too seriously.  I spent the morning laughing at myself for stressing so much.

And is on the up and up again.

I'm in such a giddy mood that I've decided I'm going ahead with a late morning post and joining up with Amanda and her Thinking Out Loud party.  If you've never checked it out, give it a's a fun party of randomness, which is exactly what I need on this unexpected snowy day here in Denver.

Here's my morning view.  I'm actually welcoming this lovely snow in late April because it's making it feel super cozy in the house right now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Eating with Purpose

I've been in a bit of a food rut lately.  Part of the reason is I'm feeling overwhelmed by life.  I'm usually all about the kitchen: I love cooking, I love trying new recipes, and I just love food in general.  However, food has become a bit of a chore lately.

Unfortunately, other things are starting to crowd out food.  First off, there's the baby.  Secondly, I've tried to get back into running.  And third, I've recently learned that I may not be making enough milk for said baby, which is wreaking havoc on what I eat...  I hope you are not grossed out by the words lactation or galactagogue (yes galactagogue is a real word) -- as making more milk has become my world.

Let's take a look, shall we?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Motherhood Blues

Last week, I struggled with balancing motherhood and my well-being.

It was a combination of things: my husband had to work late a few nights and I hate being a single parent -- I'm just not talented at taking care of two kids by myself.  Secondly, I've recently learned that Baby O isn't growing enough so I'm trying to increase my milk supply.  And lastly, I'm trying to get back to running, but trying to fit that in around everything that is motherhood has been quite the challenge for me.

By the end of the week, I was a hot mess and in a bad mood.  I went to bed early Friday night, completely distraught and unhappy.  I hadn't been in such a funk in a long, long, time.  My husband was worried that I was having postpartum blues or depression and asked if there was anything he could do.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Five Places I've Been To (and You Should Too)

With warmer weather returning to Colorado, my mind has been drifting towards vacation.  If there's one thing I love as much as I love good food, it's travel!  I've been reflecting on places I've been as well as places I have yet to see.  This year, we've got our sights set on a possible trip to Greece -- a vacation we've been dreaming about for some time.

Today I'm linking up with Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar for their Friday Five.  Come check out the party where today's theme is Trips to Take (or Trips I've Taken).  I'm recommending places I've either visited or lived.  I'd also love to hear about your favorite trip(s)!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Trying out Weekend Meal Prep

As much as I love cooking food, I'm learning that when you upgrade from one kid to two, life gets busy.  Although we're moving back to a more "normal" life now that Baby O is four months old, "normal" is a little different than what it once was with just one child.

Enter my attempts to try and free up more time so that I can (1) exercise more; (2) do some crafting (scrapbooking!); (3) just sit and relax (can I please watch an entire movie in one sitting without multitasking?!).

One of my strategies is to spend less time cooking throughout the week.  Enter meal planning and meal prep: I've been inspired by the weekend meal prep that Lindsay from the Lean Green Bean highlights every Sunday on her blog.

And, because I'm linking up with Jenn for her What I Ate Wednesday party, I'll be sharing all my eats from Saturday, homemade or not, alongside my meal prep examples because that's what WIAW is all about.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Life as a Sleep Coach

Have you heard about my latest job in my exciting world of parenting?  I've been hired on as a sleep coach!  I started out as a temp two months ago, but I've done a decent job so I've been hired on permanently!  For those of you not familiar with what a sleep coach does, here is the job description.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Return to Running (Week 2) + Meal Planning

How is your weekend going?  We are going to do an easy egg hunt on Sunday in our own backyard and keep our Easter Sunday relatively low key.  Last weekend was a bit busy so we're trying to slow things down this weekend by keeping things close to home.

Saturday was a great day!  I woke up early, got my 2 mile run/walk in and continued the day with....

A two hour beginner's class on how to grow vegetables in a raised garden bed:

Lunch at a creperie:

And Saturday afternoon in the backyard grilling!  I prepped on Friday afternoon by marinating a big 'ol hunk of flank steak and some chicken breasts.  The idea was to try and grill lots of protein and veggies so that we'd have lots of leftovers for the week.  We started with this:

And ended up with less than half of what I started with.  I think I'm going to have to double the portions next Saturday when we try this again!
But I'm getting ahead of myself...let's talk about workouts for the week!

Workout Recap (3/29 - 4/4)

Last week, I started my run/walk program, which is essentially moving my walks into run-walks and eventually 100% running.  This week I managed to get four run-walk sessions in, which was a huge accomplishment, because I've had to start going to bed early just so I can wake up at 6am to get a 30 minute run in before my hubby has to get up and go to work.  Then there's the complication of nursing Baby O, which I prefer to do before I go for my run because Baby O is no longer a fan of the bottle.

Sunday: 2 mile run/walk, 10 minutes on spin bike
Monday: 2 mile run/walk + 3.2 mile walk (total: 5.2 miles)
Tuesday: rest day
Wednesday: Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 (Week 1)
Thursday: 20 minutes on spin bike
Friday: 2 mile run/walk + 4 mile walk (total: 6 miles)
Saturday: 2 mile run/walk, JM Ripped in 30 (Week 1)

Meal Planning (4/4 - 4/10)

This is only my second week back to meal planning.  Last week went so well I'm excited about another week of meal planning and I'm including ideas for breakfast.  I'm so sick of eating fried eggs every day...

- Sweet potato, apple, and chicken apple sausage "hash"
- Scrambled egg, steak, and potato with roasted brussel sprouts
- Scramble with baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, grilled chicken, and pesto
- Avocado toast with sunny side egg

Saturday - Asian-marinated flank steak; lemon, herb, garlic chicken breasts; grilled veggies
Sunday - sliders, grilled salmon, and veggie saute
Monday - leftovers
Tuesday - slow cooker beef & veggie chili and kale, quinoa, avocado salad
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - order takeout
Friday - baked salmon and grilled asparagus

Winners from Last Week

I love to try new recipes all the time.  Some are great and some are...not so great.  When I do come across good meals, I'm sure to share!

Cowboy spaghetti.  I normally shun pasta, but I indulged this week.  I know we'll be making this dish again, and next time, I'll serve it two ways: half the sauce with spaghetti, the other half of the sauce with spaghetti squash.

Want more meal planning ideas?

A big thanks to the meal planning hostesses, Laura from Mommy Run Fast and Jill from Fitness, Health, and Happiness.  I love linking up every Sunday to share my meal plan and to get new ideas for future meals...

Anyone ever grow a garden?  This is only my second summer in Colorado, but I'm hoping to grow a few vegetables this year.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mark's Kale Quinoa Avocado Salad

This past winter wasn't the coldest winter we've had in a while but we did get alot of snow in December and February, so we hosted alot of potlucks / play dates at our house because it was just too darned cold to meet at a playground.  Besides, we really enjoy entertaining at our house.  We'd invite three or four other families over, the kids would play while the parents caught up, and then we'd make our way into the kitchen and have an early dinner together.

As the hosts, we served up the main dish (usually made in our trusty crockpot) and ask that everyone else bring their favorite side dish or dessert.  Our friends Mark and Amy always brought one salad or another, and whatever the salad combination, it was always a crowd pleaser.

The last salad they brought was hearty and delicious and I had to have the recipe.  It's almost a kitchen-sink kind of salad, it has so many things in it!  But it really is delicious, and it's a great way to eat the darling-superfood-of-the-moment, kale.

If you try it and really enjoy it, let me know.  I'm thinking about pestering Mark for a couple other salad recipes!

Mark's Kale Quinoa Avocado Salad

Printable Recipe
Servings: 6-8 side salads or 4-6 entree salads (add a protein like roasted chicken!)
Prep time:  30 minutes (not counting time to cook the quinoa, which should be made ahead)

1/2 cup red quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 bunch kale
2 bunches romaine lettuce
1 avocado, diced
1/3 cup dates, chopped (or cranberries)
1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds
1-2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

For the dressing
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
This will make a whole cup of dressing; depending on how much dressing you like, there may be a bit leftover.

Make the dressing
1. Place lemon juice, white wine vinegar, sugar, and mustard in a small bowl, whisk to combine.
2. Slowly add olive oil to bowl with lemon juice / vinegar mixture, whisking to emulsify.

Make the salad
1.  Cook the red quinoa according to ingredients on box, allow to cool.
2.  Remove kale from ribs, wash and dry.  Chop into small pieces.
3.  Wash and dry romaine lettuce, chop into 1/4-1/2" pieces.
4.  Chop green onions, both green and white parts.
5.  If using dates, rough chop into smaller pieces
6.  Dice avocado, remove from peel.
7.  Combine kale, romaine lettuce, quinoa, avocado, and toss with dressing.  Then add dates/cranberries, almonds, scallions, and toss again. Sprinkle/top with parmesan cheese.
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